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We hit 6,000,000 hits today!  Not so bad for a rinky-dink little blog out in the middle of East Bumf#@k in the Oort belt of the blogoverse. I’d like to thank all of the frontpagers, both past and present, who have made this blog a success, especially, Katiebird, BostonBoomer, Dakinikat, myiq2xu (bah, humbug), stateofdisbelief, SM77, littleisis, afrocity and our newest posters quixote and jangles.  It takes a lot of heart to do this day after day for low pay and no bennies.

Also, thanks to all of our commenters.  You are lively, witty and the reason we come to work each day.

And now a little something in celebration for our lurkers:

I Like Ron Paul

I know this is random, but I sort of like Ron Paul. He such a little oddball of a man, but I wouldn’t mind voting for him, depending on the alternative.

We’ve had a tough time of it lately, PUMAs, but it’ll be all right. It’s a beautiful day. Beltane is coming!

My Two Cents


We have been having some interesting discussions lately about the future of PUMA.  That’s not anything new, we’ve been talking about PUMA since the day it was born.  We’re not the only ones who have been talking about PUMA either, our ears have been burning since last summer.

Besides ourselves, the two main groups talking about PUMA are people who should be our friends but inexplicably don’t want to be and people who never were our friends and never will be.  Unfortunately, too many members of both groups don’t know PUMA from pimple cream. The first group should have spent more time talking to us and the second group should just talk to the voices in their heads and leave us out of it.

There have been some thoughtful, well reasoned posts here and at other PUMA blogs in recent weeks, and there have also been a few things said that weren’t quite so thoughtful or well reasoned.  One of the major problems we’re running into is trying to define PUMA, both collectively and individually.

As soon as you start trying to define what PUMA is, you also define what it is not.  If you say PUMA is a group of Democrats in exile then you are excluding Independents and Republicans.  If you say PUMAs are liberals then you are excluding moderates and conservatives.

How do we decide what definition to use?  Everyone has their own definition, some of which vary widely.  We could try to reach a consensus but who gets to vote?  Those of us with our own blogs have louder megaphones than those who don’t but that doesn’t give us the right to define PUMA for everyone else.

Even if a range of choices was prepared how would we put it to a vote?  We don’t have a list of registered PUMA members we could send ballots to and if we posted an online poll the obsessed blogstalkers would gleefully freep the results and would post comments inviting wonktards and cheetos to do the same.

If we held an organizing convention not everyone could attend, but you could be certain that some of the attendees would be blogstalkers and other Obot ratfuckers hoping to cause mischief and still others would be fringe lunatics with hidden agendas.

We couldn’t make the convention “invitation only” unless some individual or small group took it upon themselves to decide who was welcome and who was not.  That would undermine the whole concept of PUMA as a grassroots democratic group.

PUMA was born here at The Confluence a little less than a year ago.  At first, we were PUMA.  That lasted about two days, and suddenly there were a bunch a people I never heard before of calling themselves PUMAs and taking actions as if it was their organization.

I’m not criticizing Will Bower, Darragh Murphy or anyone else for the actions they took.  They accomplished a lot more than I would have.  But the circumstances at the time were such that we made accomplishing certain goals (like getting Hillary’s name on the nominating ballot) our priority and so PUMA was never clearly defined or organized.

There were also legitimate concerns that if we tried to define PUMA too narrowly we would become exclusive at a time when our goal was to be inclusive.  Let’s not forget that we came together online, but in real life we are a diverse group that is scattered across the country.

Hillary was what brought many of us together, but both her campaign and the election are over.  Without a common purpose some people feel that our differences are more important than the things we share.  We are also seeing that PUMA is in the eye of the beholder.  There are lots of different ideas about what PUMA is, (or should be) what it should do and who is or is not welcome in the movement.

As for me, PUMA means ideology free from partizanship, principles without party.  To me, PUMA is not a party, it’s a rejection of parties, kinda like an organization of anarchists.  PUMA is the un-party.  That means rejecting all party labels, including the one that says PUMA.

So that’s what I’ve decided to do.  I will no longer use the PUMA label to describe myself.  I’m not going anywhere, I’ll be right here doing the same things, standing up for the same values and principles.  All I’m doing is discarding a label.  I’m not quitting PUMA, I can’t quit because I never really  joined.  There’s no membership roster with my name on it, at least not as far as I know anyway.

PUMA has become a distraction for me.  I’m tired of talking about it and I damn sure don’t want to argue about it.  I am pessimistic about its future and cynical about its potential.  So  I leave PUMA into the hands of whoever wants it, to organize and define however they wish.

This has nothing to do with anyone in particular, so nobody deserves any blame (or credit) for my decision. I don’t believe my decision should affect anyone other than myself.  I certainly hope no one will treat me any differently, as I plan to continue being the same obnoxious and rude jerk that you’re all acquainted with.

Let me add that even if those who remain associated with PUMA are successful in defining and organizing it into a political entity that shares my values and goals I doubt I would apply for membership.

As Groucho Marx said, “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.”

Friday: Simon Johnson on Bill Moyers Journal tonight

He will be discussing the Pecora commission that Nancy Pelosi is advocating:

Bill Moyers asked me to join his conversation this week with Michael Perino – a law professor and expert on securities law – who is working on a detailed history of the 1932-33 “Pecora Hearings,” which uncovered wrongdoing on Wall Street and laid the foundation for major legislation that reformed banking and the stock market.

My role was to talk about potential parallels betweeen the situation in the early 1930s and today, and together we argued out whether the Pecora Hearings could or should be considered a model for today.

Bill has a great sense of timing.  On Wednesday night the Senate passed, by a vote of 92-4, a measure that would create an independent commission to investigate the causes of our current economic crisis; we taped our discussion on Thursday morning.

I don’t know much about the Pecora commission but the Federal Reserve has an archive of the hearings and you can read all about it here.  It looks intimidating but no one should feel compelled to stay up all night cramming.  Take your time.  Simon is also soliticing solutions to the banking crisis at his new blog, The Hearing at WaPo.  It sounds like a very good idea.  The only thing I take issue with is the stab he takes at populism in his brief post.  It seems to me that the populace is asked to sit on its hands an awful lot.  We are supposed to take the anger and passion out of every interaction.  As a result, Congress doesn’t feel the bite and thinks it can get away with doing less than it should.  This is wrong.  It’s fine and dandy to ask for civilized discussion on a blog that is requesting real suggesions, not f-bombs and insults.  But it is quite another thing to ask people to stop protesting and contacting their Congressional Rep to vent their anger at the passivity of our elected officials during a time of crisis.  After all, if we don’t stick up for ourselves, no one else is going to do it.

Simon may be inadvertently feeding the “learned helplessness” that we have discussed before.  If an animal feels that it is under stress but that nothing it does makes any difference to relieve that stress, it may stop trying.  Therefore, Mr. Johnson, verily I say unto you, do not stand in the way of populism.  If you want real action on the Pecora commission initiative, you’ll be more likely to get it if there are more people on your side screaming bloody murder for it.  You don’t have to encourage the screaming.  Just don’t condemn it.  People are right to be angry.  Let’s just make sure it gets directed, in an undiluted state, towards the right people.  Our elected officials need to feel their jobs are at stake before they do something and nothing will get their attention better than an angry and persistent constituency.

Channel that populist rage onto Congress, whose job it is and was to keep the greedy, selfish finance crowd on a shorter leash. Otherwise, the public might as well be a flock of sheep.

(Simon recently gave another interview to Andrew Leonard at Salon.  Oddly enough, he’s citing the French Revolution in this one.  You’ve got to wonder why the Sans-culottes were good enough for the French but not for us…)


In other news:

What do health care, Kathleen Sebelius, the GM restructuring (now featuring *more* bankers!) and Al Franken have in common?  There are filibusters threatened by the Republicans in Congress on virtually every issue of importance from health care to abortion to holding bankers accountable and the Democrats need 60 votes to put an end to such threats.  Al Franken was elected Minnesota’s next Senator.  He won the seat by something like 300 votes.  A three judge panel has declared him the winner and all that is left is for Governor Tim Pawlenty to sign the election certificate to make it so.  Norm Coleman has vowed to take his case all the way to the US Supreme Court if he has to and he probably will, meaning that this election could remain unresolved until the fall. Franken would be the 59th senator.

Now, you may not be crazy about Franken.  His position on the war was wrong but he quickly snapped out of that.  He’s also ruffled a few feathers for his previous work as a really funny guy, sometimes at others’ expense.  But Franken is a true liberal and getting him to the Senate toot sweet would pretty much end the excuses that the Democrats have forwarded for their inaction.  Biden is the tie breaker.  Someone with knowledge of Senate procedure can tell us whether Biden can break the tie on a cloture vote.  I’m willing to give Franken a try and the sooner the better.  The Republicans are no doubt throwing every roadblock they can to keep him from getting there.  Their ability to obstruct would be reduced by one and assuming that Harry Reid is willing or interested in holding his coalition together with some discipline, that one vote could make a big difference.  Franken is taking donations for his protracted and expensive election fight.  You can give here.


WOOT!  We are going to hit 6 million hits today since we opened this gin joint last year.  Par-tay!

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Late Night and a Little Isis Confession: StarHawk Wants an Apology from the Pope

Well, I figure you all know me well enough. And I suppose , seeing as how you all love me so, it won’t make you love me any less. But really! I thought it was fairly obvious! So here goes. I am coming out of the Broom Closet today: I am a Wiccan.

Yes. For those of you who don’t know what that is, I will explain, because I love you so.

Wicca is an Earth based Religion. It is unorganized… we have no doctrine or Clergy. It was founded in the nineteen forties by a man named Gerald Gardner. Wicca has become much more Eclectic since then, but he gave it it’s name, which means “To bend” or “To shape.” If you want to get technical, it is actually the oldest religion in the world. Wicca is New Age. It’s really a very romantic religion. Obviously, I love being  Wiccan. Just don’t ask my Fundie/Evangelical mother about it. She’ll cry. She often wonders where she went wrong with me. * Sorry, mom*

I am mostly too lazy to get very deep into what Wicca is and isn’t (Google it you lazy minxes!), but I will give you all a basic overview.

I am an Eclectic Wiccan. That means I don’t stick to a Tradition. There are a number of Traditions, but again, I am too lazy to name them all. But Wicca is a form of Modern Paganism that borrows from a number of Pre Christian Pagan Traditions. A few misconceptions I want to get out of the way right now:

1. For the Love of all that is Holy (That would be Nature, the God, and the Goddess), I do not worship Satan! Satan is a Christain Deity that is modeled after the Celtic Horned God. (ever wonder why he has goat horns?). If I had a dime for every time some fool asked me if I worshiped Satan, I’d be friggen rich. For one thing, Wiccans don’t believe in Hell OR Satan. Wiccans believe that if you give evil a name, you give it power. And we are real sticklers about personal responsibility. There is no “The Devil Made Me Do it” mentality with us Witchy folk. Human beings are responsible for our own “sins”.    Asking a Wiccan whether he/she worships Satan is like asking a Christian if they worship a Golden Calf. Don’t do it. It is offensive.

2. I know some fool is going to ask, so I will get it out of the way now. I am not going to cast spells on any of you. A good Witch has a strong understanding of the Universe and it’s Laws. So we know all about Karma. Casting a spell on someone for any purpose other than healing (and even then, only with permission), is an interference of Free Will. I wouldn’t do it even if it wasn’t the equivalent of shooting myself in the foot. It is immoral and unethical for one thing, and it would only come back to bite me in the Ass. Whenever I do a Spell, or anything really, I always keep in mind that all my actions come back to me times three. That is just how it works. It’s like water running or flowers blooming in the Spring. That old adage “Treat people how you want to be treated”- in other words, with kindness, respect and love- resonates strongly with me.

3. While we’re on the subject of spells: Movies like The Craft and Five Girls and Practical Magic are cute and all, but they’re just Hollywood. I cannot shoot lightning bolts out of my palms or make creepy crawlers swirl around potted plants. Sadly, I cannot fly a broom (but wouldn’t that be fun? Isis the kitty could take a ride on the back and we could cruise the stars together over NorthEast Ohio at night) and I do not deflate Male Erections for fun (regardless of how useful it would be against Sex Offenders). Have you ever heard someone say that they believe in the power of prayer? Well, Wiccans do their share of regular praying, but a spell is really just like a prayer in action. And what do people usually pray for? Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t know of many folks who pray for people they don’t like to get boils and chicken pox and so on. That’s not how prayer works, and it’s not how love works either. So again, do not ask a Wiccan if they are going to cast spells on you. They will likely reply, “Even if I could, you aren’t worth the effort.” And besides that, it is offensive.

4. I. DO. NOT. SACRIFICE. ANIMALS. Wiccans cherish life. We’re big Tree Huggers. I cry when I see a dead bug, let alone a dead animal! Please! I’m a Pescitarian! Do not ask a Wiccan if they sacrifice animals. It is EXTREMELY offensive.

5. If you do not believe in this sort of thing, that is perfectly okay. Wiccans are not Evangelists. Goddess, no. I still love you desperately even if you think I am off my rocker (well, not that you all ready didn’t).

6. Wiccans are Polytheists. We beleive God is both Male and Female, but we believe “All Gods are one God.” Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament, is just another Run-of-the-Mill, into-himself God to me, for the most part. Albeit a jealous one. Geez, can someone get him to lighten up? But I only say that because as a rule, we have no chip in our shoulders about Monotheists. Particularly the Big Ones (Jews, Christains, Muslims). Religious Tolerance is Coexistence. I was raised by Fundies. I love religion in General, and I believe all Faiths have a certain amount of truth to them in their core principles.

Now that that’s all cleared up, Wiccans, as I explained, don’t really have a doctrine, except for the Wiccan Rede,  and the full version goes like this:

The Wiccan Rede
(Full Version)

Bide within the Law you must, in perfect Love and perfect Trust.
Live you must and let to live, fairly take and fairly give.

For tread the Circle thrice about to keep unwelcome spirits out.
To bind the spell well every time, let the spell be said in rhyme.

Light of eye and soft of touch, speak you little, listen much.
Honor the Old Ones in deed and name,
let love and light be our guides again.

Deosil go by the waxing moon, chanting out the joyful tune.
Widdershins go when the moon doth wane,
and the werewolf howls by the dread wolfsbane.

When the Lady’s moon is new, kiss the hand to Her times two.
When the moon rides at Her peak then your heart’s desire seek.

Heed the North winds mighty gale, lock the door and trim the sail.
When the Wind blows from the East, expect the new and set the feast.

When the wind comes from the South, love will kiss you on the mouth.
When the wind whispers from the West, all hearts will find peace and rest.

Nine woods in the Cauldron go, burn them fast and burn them slow.
Birch in the fire goes to represent what the Lady knows.

Oak in the forest towers with might, in the fire it brings the God’s
insight.   Rowan is a tree of power causing life and magick to flower.

Willows at the waterside stand ready to help us to the Summerland.
Hawthorn is burned to purify and to draw faerie to your eye.

Hazel-the tree of wisdom and learning adds its strength to the bright fire burning.
White are the flowers of Apple tree that brings us fruits of fertility.

Grapes grow upon the vine giving us both joy and wine.
Fir does mark the evergreen to represent immortality seen.

Elder is the Lady’s tree burn it not or cursed you’ll be.
Four times the Major Sabbats mark in the light and in the dark.

As the old year starts to wane the new begins, it’s now Samhain.
When the time for Imbolc shows watch for flowers through the snows.

When the wheel begins to turn soon the Beltane fires will burn.
As the wheel turns to Lamas night power is brought to magick rite.

Four times the Minor Sabbats fall use the Sun to mark them all.
When the wheel has turned to Yule light the log the Horned One rules.

In the spring, when night equals day time for Ostara to come our way.
When the Sun has reached it’s height time for Oak and Holly to fight.

Harvesting comes to one and all when the Autumn Equinox does fall.
Heed the flower, bush, and tree by the Lady blessed you’ll be.

Where the rippling waters go cast a stone, the truth you’ll know.
When you have and hold a need, harken not to others greed.

With a fool no season spend or be counted as his friend.
Merry Meet and Merry Part bright the cheeks and warm the heart.

Mind the Three-fold Laws you should three times bad and three times good.
When misfortune is enow wear the star upon your brow.

Be true in love this you must do unless your love is false to you.

These Eight words the Rede fulfill:

“An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will”

My birthday,  May 1st (next Friday) is the Druid Fertility Holiday of Beltane. It is a very important Holiday and is also the Day of Mary Magdalen. It is the most important holiday of the year, save for Sahmain(Halloween). So next Friday, be sure to wish me  Happy Birthday and a happy Beltane.

But that is basically what Wicca is. As I explained, I love being  a Wiccan. I wouldn’t be the way I am without it. I have been through a lot of things in my (so far) short life. Having something to believe in that actually makes my heart feel light isn’t a bad thing. Ever wonder why I am called Little Isis? It is because my Matron Goddess is Isis, the Egyptian Goddess of Heaven and Earth.

But while I am using this post to come out of the Broom Closet, so to speak, it is not about my coming out party. (Aside: I know you might have a stigma about the Da Vinci Code, but if you haven’t read it, you should. Only because of all the facts it has in it about female divinity and the Pentacle.)

StarHawk is one of the most well known Wiccan Activists. She has an “On Faith” column in WaPo, and it came to my attention recently that she is trying to get the Pope’s attention and force him, and by extension, the Catholic Church, to apologize for the “Burning Times.”

I have said this before. The “Burning Times” are what Wiccans call the Dark Ages. Nobility and the Elite in Europe were Christians. But most of the common folk (today we would call them the Middle Class) still practiced Paganism. The Catholic Church was dividing and a lot of people were breaking off to be Protestants. I don’t know what it was. Every Conflicted Era needs a Scapegoat. Let’s just say that Pagan Women-in general healers, herbalists, midwives, that sort of thing- became Ye Olde England’s Welfare Queens. Actually, it was much worse than that.

Women who thought for themselves. The Hillary Clintons, Sarah Palins, Riverdaughters, BostonBoomers, Little Isis’s, KatieBirds, Dakinikat’s, ect of the world. They were tortured, burned at the stake, killed, thrown into iron maidens, raped, beaten, publicly hanged…. it goes on. The most unspeakable horror. There are books about it. I’m sure most of you are aware of it.

Starhawk believes that around nine million men, women and children were killed during that period. More than the Holocaust! Well, I’ll admit even I think that’s a stretch. But at the very least, around 500,000. There is no way to really know the number. But it doesn’t matter. We say, “Never again, the burning times.”

They were my ancestors and I mourn and honor them. What kills me the most is the lack of acknowledgement in history. But after all, they were just women. Who cares, right?

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

A woman who thinks for herself- a strong woman- is always a threat. She threatens something deep inside powerful, privileged men. It can be traced back in their Ancestry. It is in their make up.

I remember during the primaries how all Hillary Voters were “Uneducated Racists.” That meant something to me other than the simple fact that it wasn’t true. She was sticking up for the country folk, the “Pagans” against the privileged Nobility.

That is a metaphor, fyi.

What I want to know is what Confluceans, particularly Catholic Confluceans, think of this. Should the Pope apologize? Or should Starhawk just forgive and forget?

Opinions, please!

       This Be StarHawk

This Be StarHawk