Friday Reads: A Search for Wisdom

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Welsh Saint Melangell

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

A Welsh friend of mine who shares my Buddhist practices reminded me that today is Welsh Saint Melangell’s day.  I was raised Presbyterian which meant we basically shunned these kinds of icons but as I moved deeper into my own Vajrayana practice I came to realize that having something to look at that’s an embodiment of something good, something worth aspiring to isn’t exactly the same as worshiping a graven image.  (h/t to Damian Tidmarsh)

There are many examples of female wisdom beings in my Vajrayana practice although most of them are stylized in ways that help the aspirant to remember the aspects of wisdom, justice and compassion that each of these beings brings should bring to mind.  I think that we can see saints in the same way.

Saint Melangell is a Catholic Saint from the 6th century CE. She’s a protectress of animals and seen holding the hare she saved from a pack of ferocious hunting dogs led by a nobleman in Powys. She is said to have mesmerized the dogs by her sanctity and shortly thereafter the Nobleman built a church in her honor and gave up such sport.

Again, there are women of wisdom in every spiritual practice including Islam which we never really hear much about in the west.  Many are assigned to small enclaves of followers and again, I’m talking about most spiritual paths.  But, not following the wisdom of women in my tradition and disrespecting the wisdom of women is considered to be one of the worst infractions there is and it’s one of the reasons that I find so much in the practices of many women Bodhisattvas.  My favorite practices come from Yeshe Shogyal and Madchig Labdron.  Madchig Labdron was a woman from the Tibet of 11th century CE.  She is best known for resolving conflict by literally feeding your inner demons.

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Machig Labdron from the Treasury of Lives. Machig Labdron Yidam and historical figure – the founder of Chöd

So, obviously these are not the kinds of things I blog on here because we’re mostly focused on the more venal things in life and there is nothing more venal today that what we see in the politics here and for that matter what’s popped up in the UK and other European countries.  I usually follow the distinctly Presbyterian and Buddhist traditions of keeping your religion to yourself unless you’re really really really asked about it. But here I am using female wisdom beings to enter us into the conversation of why it’s so damned difficult for us to get a woman president and why we see ongoing attacks on a woman Speaker of the House and women in Congress like the so-called Squad.  I don’t agree with all these women but would never dream of going after them for that!

Amazon went after a City Council Seat in Seattle with the force of the God of American White Men the almighty greenback. Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant who is a socialist is struggling to maintain her seat.    The tech boyz went after her with one of their own with a show of overwhelming greenback power.

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant gained a lot of ground in her District 3 race based on additional votes tallied Thursday, and is threatening to catch challenger Egan Orion.

The socialist incumbent is still trailing business-backed Orion, but her share is now 48.6%, up from 45.6% Tuesday and 45.8% Wednesday. More progressive candidates, such as Sawant, tend to surge in Seattle elections as later votes are counted.

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Fatima bint Muhammad Her significance to practitioners of the Shi’ia traditions lies in her piety, compassion and suffering.

Now, you can all say it’s because she’s a socialist and this is an outlier governing philosophy here in the US.  But, I still think the fact she’s an Indian American Woman is probably a larger factor.  Well, that and again, the amount of money spent by companies like Amazon to to take her out.  Amazon literally has tried to buy a City Council Seat.  

Early election results for the Seattle City Council show that the company’s loudest opponent, the incumbent councilmember Kshama Sawant, trailed an Amazon-backed candidate as of Tuesday night. But results indicate that Amazon’s favored candidates won’t make up the majority of the council.

Amazon donated $1.45 million to a political action committee backed by Seattle’s chamber of commerce, called Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE), in the hope of beating back progressive politicians who blame Amazon’s growth — and the dizzying real estate frenzy that has accompanied it — for much of the city’s ills, which include rising homelessness rates and soaring rents. Amazon gave just $25,000 to the same group four years ago, according to Reuters.

As of Tuesday night, three of the seven Amazon-backed candidates had healthy leads, three were losing, and one race was a virtual tie. Seven of the nine seats on the city council were up for vote. It’s worth noting that most votes in Seattle elections are cast by mail-in ballot, meaning close races can take days to call as last-minute mail-ins are counted. New results are expected late afternoon Wednesday Pacific time.

One of the candidates in the lead is Egan Orion, a CASE-backed politician who received significant personal donations from Amazon executives and was running against Sawant. He was leading Sawant by about 8 percentage points as of Tuesday night, but the incumbent has not conceded because she has previously made up ground in the days after a prior election to come out on top. During her time in office, Sawant has been a frequent critic of Amazon, hosting several rallies at the company’s headquarters to protest its perceived negative impacts on Seattle.

My doctor daughter and doctor husband of Bengali heritage live in this district and I will hear with that have to say this weekend.   What really got me into this blog post today has been the ongoing weirdness of media coverage of the presidential race where the focus of all Democratic angst appears to be Elizabeth Warren and the focus–well basically no focus at all–appears to be on the other two highly qualified Women Senators running in that race.  The dynamic of coverage and lack of coverage appears to reflect this ongoing denigration of the women of wisdom in this country.  Better remind me what their names are because I will rarely hear them on TV.

Miriam Holding a Timbrel

Often overlooked, Miriam saved her brother Moses in his youth and led the Jewish people in celebration after they successfully crossed the Red Sea to safety.

Elizabeth Warren has the white male power structure in such a twit that we now have another white Male Billionaire in the overly crowded race (Michael Bloomberg).  We also hear lurid tales of what appears to buying Iowa endorsements and stealing of volunteer lists from Senator Harris’ campaign from another for billionaire candidate Tom Steyer.  And, now, Hillary Clinton, suddenly looks pretty damned good by some media accounts because she’s really not that anti-business after all.

Let’s ignore Bloomberg candidacy–please–and move to the heart of the problem.  White male Billionaires appear to have their fee fees hurt because there’s suggestion of a potential tax on where they hide their money. This is from The American Prospect and Alexander Sammon on why suggesting they asked for it.  Is it just enough for them to put some thing into foundations especially after the business you created essentially becomes a monopoly with extremely high  costs to the economy as well as benefits?

Led prominently by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, the Giving Pledge would account for many billions of dollars in redistribution. “This is about building on a wonderful tradition of philanthropy that will ultimately help the world become a much better place,” said Gates at the time.

The pledge quickly proved highly popular among the world’s rich. In 2015, Mark Zuckerberg, who became a Giving Pledge signatory five years earlier at age 26, decided to up the ante even further, vowing to give away 99 percent of his Facebook shares. Today, the pledge includes 204 of the world’s wealthiest individuals, couples, and families, ranging in age from their 30s to their 90s, spanning 30 states (plus D.C.) and 23 countries.

Yet, despite the world’s best, supposedly brightest, and definitely most well-endowed dedicating their lives to diminishing their colossal holdings, the Giving Pledge has been a near-total failure. Try as they might to spend it down, their dynastic winnings continue to swell, as favorable tax deals, loopholes, and havens have helped balloon their money to unfathomable and unspendable amounts. In the decade the billionaire class has had to effectuate its self-imposed wealth tax, none of the highest-profile signees have even managed to slow the growth rate of their wealth, let alone come anywhere close to cutting the total in half.

The problem with having billions of dollars in wealth, most of which is held in assets and investments, is that it compounds and grows exponentially. Just investing that money in the stock market would yield an annual return of 10 percent on average, and even more in recent years. Which is why all but one of the world’s 20 wealthiest tech figures have seen their net worth surge by billions of dollars in the ten months of 2019 aloneper Business Insider. And the only one who didn’t hit that growth threshold was not even a Giving Pledge signatory: It was Jeff Bezos, who shelled out a record-shattering sum in his divorce settlement and still managed to remain the world’s richest person.

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Durga is a Hindu warrior goddess protecting and safeguarding her people from evil

We can argue if this Crime Syndicate Family actually are billionaires but here’s a good look at how America’s Borgias pilfered their so-called charitable foundation where donations made for children with cancer lined their pockets.  They’ve been ordered to pay $2 million and write a mea culpa.  Trump has already twittered something that is likely a breach of the agreement.  

The payment is the final resolution to a case brought by the New York attorney general’s office after the Trump Foundation held a fundraiser for military veterans during the 2016 campaign.

The televised fundraiser took in nearly $3 million in donations that were dispersed on the eve of the Iowa caucuses as directed by then-campaign chief Corey Lewandowski.

The two million must be paid by President Trump himself for breaching his fiduciary duty to properly oversee the foundation that bears his name.

“I direct Mr. Trump to pay the $2,000,000, which would have gone to the Foundation if it were still in existence, on a pro rata basis to the Approved Recipients,” Judge Saliann Scarpulla wrote.

The lawsuit filed by the state’s attorney general accused President Trump — along with his children, Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka — of conflating charity with politics, repeatedly using charitable donations for personal, political and business gains, including legal settlements, campaign contributions and even to purchase a portrait of Trump to hang at one of his hotels..

Ah, New York Attorney General Letitia James, truly an American Woman of Wisdom.


So, let’s head back to this:  “Female 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates Face a ‘Gender Penalty’ Online, Study Finds” discussed by Time Magazine‘s Suyin Hayes.  

A new analysis of Twitter and news coverage surrounding the Democratic primary candidates for the U.S. 2020 presidential elections shows that female candidates are attacked significantly more often than male candidates by trolls and fake news accounts.

The report, published Nov. 5 by Lucina Di Meco, Global Fellow at The Wilson Center, used artificial intelligence in partnership with non-partisan data analytics firm Marvelous AI to track the coverage of six Democratic candidates on Twitter, measuring the volume of conversation around each candidate between December 2018 and April 2019. Joe BidenBernie SandersPete ButtigiegElizabeth WarrenKamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar were the candidates included in the study, which forms part of the broader report titled #ShePersisted: Women, Politics and Power in the New Media World.

These online conversations were analyzed for one week after each candidate’s official campaign launch between December 2018 and April 2019, depending on the candidate. Marvelous AI also examined the political bias and credibility of Twitter users participating in the conversation, as well as the themes and narratives surrounding each candidate.

 Let me direct you to these 2 paragraphs in particular.

More social media attention on a candidate was not necessarily a positive. The study concluded that social media narratives around female candidates were more negative and focused on issues of character and identity, rather than electability or policy. The largest narrative on social media across the political spectrum surrounding Elizabeth Warren focused on her character, in particular the narrative that she “lied about her ethnic heritage.” The dominant narrative for Kamala Harris focused on her identity, attacking her as “not authentically American” because both her parents were immigrants to the U.S.

The focus on identity and character was largely the norm for female candidates, whereas it was the exception for male candidates. The dominant narrative surrounding Joe Biden focused on previous allegations of inappropriate touching, but this was still linked to his electability rather than his character or identity. “The role that social media platforms’ click-optimization algorithms played in spreading the misogyny and other biases is by now well documented,” said Olya Gurevich, Chief Scientist and co-founder at Marvelous AI. “I believe that technologists now have the moral responsibility, as well as the opportunity, to help ameliorate the unfairness in media, and this goes beyond just changing the click incentives.”

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Eighth Century Female Bodhisattva Yeshe Tsyogal of Tibet

It’s always nice when your gut feelings shine through a study based in data and statistical testing.  It’s enough to make this women Economist weep with joy.  But nothing says misogyny like an actual discussion of talking heads on who is electable with Nate Cohn.

Michael Barbaro

Nate, it’s been my sense that Warren is basically neck and neck, and in some cases, running ahead of Biden in these national Democratic primary polls. So if that’s true, how can it be that she’s lagging so far behind Biden in her ability to beat Trump?

Nate Cohn

Yeah, I was surprised by how poorly she fared in our polls. But 6 percent of voters told us that they would support Joe Biden against the president but would not support Elizabeth Warren in a head-to-head match-up against Donald Trump. And that 6 percent is going to be hard for her. We asked every one of these voters whether they agreed with the statement that Elizabeth Warren was too far to the left for them to feel comfortable supporting her, and a majority of them said they agreed with that statement. We also asked all of these voters whether they agreed with the statement that most of the women who run for president just aren’t that likable. And 40 percent of them said they agreed with that statement.

Michael Barbaro

That’s a very specific way of wording that question.

Nate Cohn

Yeah. We were trying to give people permission to say that, in their mind, there’s just something wrong with the women who have run for office, without making them say they don’t want a woman to be president.

Michael Barbaro

You’re essentially giving people permission, through indirect language, to be sexist.

Nate Cohn

Sexist, I think — right.

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The Saint as envisioned by Juliet Venter (link attached to her studio)

Here’s a bit further down where we finally get discussion of some other candidates.

Nate Cohn

Yeah, I think it’s a tough poll for Democrats to take right now. They might look at our data and consider other options. They might try and pursue a blue Texas or Georgia that maybe could make up for their weakness in these whiter working-class states. They might consider whether they ought to look at some of these other candidates again, maybe an Amy Klobuchar or a Cory Booker, who knows? Someone who’s closer to a compromise between the two wings of the party. They might conclude that they have to try and change the composition of the electorate, that they may be trailing among registered voters now, but after a year of registering new young and nonwhite voters, perhaps they could take the lead. But with the electorate we have today, and with the question of electability in mind, it seems like voters today are likeliest to supported a moderate Democratic nominee. But there’s a lot more to a candidate than whether you’re a moderate or a liberal. Moderates aren’t assured to win this election. People on the left aren’t assured to lose it, either. Right now, with these particular set of candidates, Elizabeth Warren fares the worst against President Trump. Joe Biden fares the best. And on balance, the voters who seem to be switching from candidate to candidate are concerned that the major Democratic nominees too far to the left. There’s no guarantee that that’s how it will stick, but that’s where things are now.

That’s as far as the discussion goes.  No other women and certainly no mention of the one Hispanic running in the race.

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Lilth and Eve by Karla Gudeon

So, here’s a story that tells us more than any reason why we need more women and POC of our government.  This is the republican hero who is going to save Trumperz from the Constitution and the rule of law.  “Referee says he told Rep. Jim Jordan that Ohio State doctor performed sex act in shower. The referee said the response of Jordan and another former coach was, “Yeah, yeah, we know.” via NBC

A professional referee says in a lawsuit filed Thursday that disgraced doctor Richard Strauss masturbated in front of him in a shower after a wrestling match at Ohio State University, and that he reported the encounter directly to Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who was then the assistant coach.

“Yeah, that’s Strauss,” Jordan and then-head coach Russ Hellickson replied, according to the lawsuit, when the referee, identified in court papers as John Doe 42, told them about the incident. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Ohio, implies that Jordan’s response to the incident, which the referee said happened in 1994, was essentially a shrug.

John Doe 42 is the second person to say he told Jordan directly about either being approached or molested by Strauss, who was found by independent investigators to have sexually abused 177 male students over two decades.

What can you say about a man who protects a pedophile?  This the best the Republicans have to offer?  A pedophile enabling gym teacher?

Katharine Coldiron of NPR perhaps frames it best for me while reviewing a new book ‘Burn It Down’ Diagnoses, Analyzes The State Of American Women’s Anger.”  I’m reminded of the Burning Bed which captured the feelings of women survivors of violent marriages.  This is a collection of 22 women’s voices so it’s no dependent on any one woman.

Every writer in the book completes that assignment in her own way. Some writers lean more heavily on analysis (Leslie Jamison), while others lean on memoir (Minda Honey). Some write poetically (Rios de la Luz) while others write practically (Lisa Factora-Borchers). Every writer explains the particular pressure point for her own anger, be it misgendering, food, religious intolerance, chronic pain, or toxic family members. Some essays, some experiences, overlap: angry fathers; Audre Lorde; the bright hot fury of adolescence; and how the body is tangled up with anger. Often, these women’s bodies have been violated, and the bodies struggle with containing or letting go of anger just as the people inside them do.

Nearly all of these women have been instructed — consciously or not — to hide their anger. “I intuitively embraced and supported other women’s anger but struggled to claim my own,” Jamison writes, in an essay previously published in The New York Times Magazine. “Anger in a woman is akin to madness; it felt like madness inside of me, it looked like madness to others,” Erin Khar adds, in an incandescent, tightly written piece. “Anger should’ve been an acceptable emotion to such a violation of the self, and yet I’d had a lifetime of experience that said otherwise,” Monet Patrice Thomas explains, with enormous control over words that depict unacceptable treatment.

Many of the essays in Burn It Down imply — or just say — that women’s anger in greater society is not merely hidden or underexpressed, but treated as if it should never exist. As if it’s a wing of the house of human emotion that women cannot enter. Of course this stricture is complicated by other aspects of a woman’s identity (well-represented in the book), whether the woman is openly trans, fat, Black, Chicana, Muslim, or disabled.

“My anger has always been dismissed or overlooked, because it was superseded by the fear of what I’d lose by expressing it, whether it be my dignity, my safety, or my livelihood,” Thomas writes.

Seeing what we lost when we lost Madam President Hillary Clinton and what we stand to loose if we dismiss any of these Democrat women senator’s right to express their vision of  America and to represent it as our president makes me both angry and sad.  We does modern American dismiss its wisdom women?  Why do we not get to actually see and completely understand their visions?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


23 Comments on “Friday Reads: A Search for Wisdom”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Brave and wise women are every where if you look for them …

  2. dakinikat says:

    Something chilling brought to my attention by BB:

  3. bostonboomer says:

    I don’t need anything else today. This is brilliant.

  4. dakinikat says:

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      • quixote says:

        Not that the Tsarist Russian elite were as rich as the world’s current multi-hundred-billionaires, but they did also have more than they knew how to spend. So, really, they were equivalently rich.

        Meanwhile the poor in that time and place were so poor some of them were abandoning their babies in the hope that they might survive if someone found them who could feed them.

        It didn’t bother most of the elite enough to part with actual money.

        The same has been true in Imperial China, historically in India (and also currently), also people like that hideous Central African Republic dictator who had the gold palace built.

        Everywhere and every-time, there are always some humans who think greed is great.

        The only thing that’s ever stopped them, regardless of economic system, is a government willing to regulate them to bring them back into the realm of normal people.

        They know people like Warren — or Harris and her call to justice — are their only real counterweights.

        Or there’s also the Four Horsemen counterweight of revolution. History says that’s their only other choice if they don’t take the first path.

    • Enheduanna says:

      Bloomberg —— YAWN

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  9. bostonboomer says:

    Trump is “aggravated” with Bill Barr because he won’t publicly absolve Trump of bribery and extortion in the Ukraine matter.

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