Seth Godin. John Oliver. And Bernie.


3rd party vote? Not this election. Seth Godin explains with ketchup, John Oliver offers his 18 minutes of persuasion, and Bernie, well Bernie could be a powerhouse in the senate with a democratic majority.


Sir Kensington’s Ketchup is better ketchup. Most adults who try it agree that it’s more delicious, a better choice. Alas, Heinz has a host of significant advantages, including dominant shelf space, a Proustian relationship with our childhood and unlimited money to spend on advertising.

The thing is, you can buy Sir Kensington’s any time you want to. And when you buy it, that’s what you get.

You’re not buying it to teach Heinz a lesson. You’re buying it because that’s the ketchup you want.

The marketing of Sir Kensington is simple: If you want better ketchup, buy this, you’ll get it.

Elections in the US don’t work this way.

I’m calling it a third-party problem because the outcome of third-party efforts don’t align with the marketing (and work) that goes into them.

Ross Perot, the third-party candidate who ran against Bush and Clinton, cost Bush that election. The people who voted for Perot got Clinton, and it’s pretty clear that the Republicans learned nothing from this, as the next winning candidate they nominated was… George Bush.

Ralph Nader, the third-party candidate who ran against Bush and Gore, cost Gore that election. The people who voted for Nader got Bush, and it’s pretty clear that the Democrats learned nothing from this, as the next person they nominated was… John Kerry.

[Irrelevant aside: John Kerry was married to the heir of the Heinz Ketchup fortune.]

[I’m calling it a ‘problem’ because I have such huge respect for people who care enough and are passionate enough to support change. The problem is that since Gus Hall, and then John Anderson and then the more recent candidates, just about all the changes that third parties have tried to bring to national politics have foundered. It just isn’t a useful way to market change in this country.]

If enough people spent enough time, day after day, dollar after dollar, we could fundamentally alter the historic two-party system we have in the US. But it’s been shown, again and again, that the easy act of letting oneself off the hook by simply voting for a third-party candidate accomplishes nothing.

The marketing of the third-party candidate is: Teach those folks a lesson, plus, you’re not on the hook for what happens. But…

No one in government is learning a lesson.

And you don’t even get who you voted for.

The irony is not lost on me. A small group of voters who care a great deal are spending psychic energy on a vote that undermines the very change they seek to make. 

It’s a self-defeating way of letting yourself off the hook, but of course, you’re actually putting yourself on the hook, just as you do if you don’t vote at all.

No candidate has earned a majority of all potential (regardless of registration) voters, not once in my lifetime. Which means that the people who don’t vote, or who vote for a third-party candidate, have an enormous amount of power. Which they waste.

Yes, it’s on you. Your responsibility to vote for one of two people, and to be unhappy with that conundrum if you choose. And then work to change the system, and keep working at it… 

But it’s not like ketchup. With ketchup, you get what you choose. With voting, we merely get the chance to do the best we can on one particular day, and then spend years working for what we might want.

It turns out that democracy involves a lot more than voting.

John Oliver:

And this.

[The Nation]

Paul Ryan: If the GOP loses seats in Congress, Bernie Sanders could become the Senate Budget Committee Chairperson.

The senator from Vermont is the ranking member of the budget committee, and if Democrats gain control of the chamber on November 8, he would be in line to chair it. But Sanders could also end up chairing then powerful Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, which he could use to advance many of the proposals (for affordable college, empowering unions and investing in public-health programs) that made his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination so popular.’

Bernie Sanders:

“The Washington Post, in an excellent article, showed us how far the country is moving toward becoming an oligarchy. Incredibly, just TEN donors have poured more than $1.1 BILLION into super PACs in this election alone.

The lesson here is that the political system isn’t broken, it is rigged and owned by the billionaire class. One of the best chances to un-rig the system is with ballot initiatives this November that will help get big money out of politics.

California and Washington both have ballot initiatives that will instruct their state’s elected officials to do everything in their power to work to overturn Citizens United. And Howard County, Maryland, has the chance to enact a strong system of public financing to level the playing field for local elections.



If these ballot initiatives pass, they will send an unmistakable message that the American public wants to get big money out of politics.

As Abraham Lincoln reminded us more than 150 years ago, there must be a government of the people, by the people and for the people. That starts with taking the country’s destiny out of the hands of the billionaires who want to buy elections.”

‘The necklace of your life…’


Breath deeply and try to see each, not as a failure, but as a shimmering bead on a necklace your life is making.

︶⁀°• •° ⁀︶

‘When things don’t work out – – -when loves unexpectedly end or careers stop unfolding – – it can be painful and sad, but refusing this larger picture keeps us form finding our resilience. Then, sadness can turn into discouragement, pain can spoil into despair.

Each person we love and each dream we try to give life to brings us closer to the mystery of being alive.

So, we must try as many times as necessary until our many loves become the one love, and many dreams become the one dream, until heart and path feel the same.’

-Mark Nepo


‘How long have we failed to trust?’


A new and beautiful young voice.

‘There are moments in Nature when all the millions of detached details are placed in perfect perspective. It is the cumulative effect of humility and wonder. The sky lights up with phenomenon and for no apparent reason, so does our life. These moments wash over us like the first rains of the season. For how many days, months, years have we missed this feeling of belonging and semblance? For how long have we failed to trust that we are going somewhere beautiful and good? We shake the settled dust out of our muscles and stare into the expanse. We don’t know where we’re going but there are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground.’
-Shannon O’Neill Creighton

Tod Marshall


“As the political rhetoric of this election season becomes more and more shrill, I find myself more and more confident that the only thing that can save us is the cultivation of uncertainty, of questioning, of openness to the world, to the possibility of being mistaken.”

-Washington State’s Poet Laureate

“At the end of the second chapter of Walden, Henry David Thoreau, after laying out the economics of his venture in the first chapter and stating his reasons for going “to the woods to live deliberately,” writes this oft-quoted but mysterious passage:

“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars. I cannot count one. I know not the first letter of the alphabet. I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born.”

Skip the opening line so easily printed on postcard and look at how, when Thoreau confronts the stars and eternity, he loses his ability to count, to communicate; he’s taken to a place beyond language, a place of unknowing, of uncertainty, that, it seems, is paradoxically closer to the wisdom that came with him into this world. Heavy stuff (I’m dizzy just writing about it).

And this space shares a kinship with what I feel sometimes in the air at the end of a good discussion about the arts, at the end of a community open-mic where the poets brought what mattered to them, at the end of a workshop where sometimes seven or eight of us, sometimes 30 or 40, sat around a table and tried to bring something into being. This fall looks to be very busy — my Subaru will zoom I-90 (and slow, slow, slow as the Seattle skyline comes into view) — and I’m glad for all of my future rendezvous with mystery, unknowing, that vast potentiality in which beautiful things can be made.

During the late winter and spring, I bounced around the state of Washington — from eastside to west and back home again to Spokane. I visited libraries (in Columbia City and Ritzville), schools (in Olympia and Twisp), cultural centers and community museums (on Whidbey Island, in Federal Way). Mount Rainier, the awesome power of the Pacific Ocean, channeled scablands that give us a lens into the chiseling power of history, the Columbia (rolling on): so many places, so many natural wonders.

I also wrote poems in the creative company of adults and kindergarten classes, at workshops surrounded by Bonsai trees and cinder blocks. I met the governor, and I went on a local TV show to talk about the importance of art. I drove thousands of miles and flew back and forth between GEG and SEA at least three times. Everywhere that I went, people met me with enthusiasm and treated me with kindness and tremendous hospitality. I am grateful and eager to continue that journey.

I believe in the importance of poetry; more generally, I believe in the importance of all of the arts and the humanities. I want to be precise, though, about what I understand that to mean. I don’t think that poetry is balm, something to relieve the pain of our troubled times, an anguished cry that sounds forth when the heart is troubled. Sure, like any of the creative endeavors we pursue (dance, song, painting), poetry can offer some song of solace or witness when the daily death toll seems too much, when the most recent brutal bend in the divining rod that searches out our faith in humanity (oh, please do not let it break!) horseshoes beyond a return to everydayness. This last summer had far too many instances when, I imagine, many of us felt that strain toward snapping. And sometimes, well-crafted words provided relief.

I think, though, that the arts work more subtly; their unknowability — the great mystery of how Cezanne captures a certain slant of light just so, how Faulkner takes us into the tortured psyche of Southerners trying to come to grips with the past (which is never the past), how Claudia Rankine simultaneously asks us to think about what poetry is while also asking us to consider the potential violence that might lurk in our definition. And so on: all of the wonderfully ambiguous and difficult to define gestures that art and, if we’re candid with ourselves, ethics and history and sociology (the humanities) urge us to inhabit.”

[Thanks to Trent Gillis at On Being for providing the post.]



Crossing out Lies and writing Truth on a blackboard.

‘The belief that something false is real does not make it so but does govern our actions.’

-Robert H. Bitzer

‘…never holds.’


I envy the tree,

how it reaches

but never holds.

‘Things that matter come and go, but being touched and feeling life move on, we tend to cling and hold on, not wanting anything to change. Of course, this fails and things do change. Often, we are stubborn enough to go after what we think is leaving, trying to manipulate and control the flow of life. Of course, this fails, too.

We can’t stop life from flowing. So we are left with feeling what was and what is, and we call the difference loss. But all the clinging and holding on only makes it worse. Now, new things come, and some of us anticipate the loss and just let the things of life go by without feeling them at all.

I have done all these things, but when clear enough and open enough, I try to let things in, to let things touch me. I try not to poke and pull at them as they move through. It doesn’t eliminate loss, but when trusting enough to let this happen, I am tuned like a harp held up to the wind.’

-Mark Nepo

Existential violence.


Cable news – – platforms for a language of hate and fear. “Every time we hook ourselves up to a device that shocks us into a fear-based posture on a regular basis, we’re making a choice about the world and how we experience it.”


“What if the fear and malaise and anger isn’t merely being reported by cable news…

What if it’s being caused by cable news?

What if ubiquitous video accompanied by frightening and freaked out talking heads is actually, finally, changing our culture?

Which came first, the news or the news cycle?

We seem to accept the hegemony of bottom-feeding media as some natural outgrowth of the world we live in. In fact, it’s more likely an artifact of the post-spectrum cable news complex in which bleeding and leading became business goals.

There’s always front page news because there’s always a front page.

The world is safer (per capita) than ever before in recorded history. And people are more frightened. The rise of the media matches the rise of our fear.

Cable news isn’t shy about stating their goals. The real question is: what’s our goal? Every time we hook ourselves up to a device that shocks us into a fear-based posture on a regular basis, we’re making a choice about the world and how we experience it.

They want urgency more than importance. What do we want?

[I wrote this months ago, and every time I’m about to post it, I hesitate because recent events make it look like I’m writing it for that reason. Finally, I realized that it’s never a quiet moment in the media cycle any more, is it?]

-Seth Godin

Life’s tapestry.


‘Life may downsize the things we rely on or how we see ourselves, but our spirit waits like a song in a blanket. No matter how dear the tapestry, there is something more dear in each of us that waits for the blanket to be lifted, so that our spirit can sing.’

‘There are countless stories of people whose lives truly find their meaning after events force them to give up careers that they have been devoted to.Close you eyes and thing of your work as the glass, and how you are as the water.’

-Mark Nepo

The matter of spirit.


‘It is the world that is enlightened and we who are intermittent.’

When I lapse between comets, I try to watch fish swim and hear birds glide while I trudge out of synch. And in a tremor of faith, I know if I don’t try at all, it will all return as surely and softly as light fills a hole.

Center yourself, and bring to mind the last time you experienced your being, and doing, as one.

-Mark Nepo

Phineas Quimby:

‘Mind is matter in solution, and matter is mind in form; but he said they are the matter of Spirit.’

Mary Maker Eddy:

‘Disease is the image of thought that appears in the body. They are saying the same thing.’


‘We see the universe as solid fact. God sees it as liquid law.’

This is the basis of our whole work – – that consciousness establishes its own form independently of any form that is already established, but only when it has new impulsion or idea or vision in the real of unconditioned causes.

-The Anatomy of Healing Prayer (1991)

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