Friday, July 31, 2009

make or mar

you either make or you mar.

your life, that is.

every split second is a choice.

your choice.

to make or mar.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

the balls to break free of obama

i voted for obama.  god damn right i did.  


i thought he was a practical, brilliant, empathetic centrist.  

after having read the audacity of hope, i believed there was no better man for the job.  

no better man on the planet earth.

honestly, i thought he was manna from heaven.  a divinely inspired leader with an incredible capacity for bridging a deeply disintegrated world. 

finally politics has someone who "gets it," i thought.    

finally we have someone who understands the two political parties, and knows how to reconcile their differences, i thought.  

no one has a greater capacity to bring this country together, i believed.

he's caring.  he's seeking our national betterment.  he's articulate.  he's popular.  we all love him.  other nations will be happy for us.  they won't resent us like they did under bush.  he'll usher in a new era of green jobs.  we'll see a renaissance of thought and open-mindedness and progress.  the arts will flourish under his leadership.  the poor will get more help. historically disadvantaged groups will finally have the voice they deserve.  everything will fall into place.  finally.

i'd see pictures of him hugging people and felt assured he was the nicest, most genuine politician we'd ever seen.  

i'd see photos of him with his family and know that he was a loving, fair, and good father and husband.

i'd see him shooting hoops on the news and would rejoice that we'd have a physically fit, energetic, good-natured guy in office.  

i also knew palin was a joke.  she had that cop thing going on in alaska.  she didn't believe that humans had a role in climate change.  she was willing to drill for oil in our national parklands.  and had wanted to spend tons of taxpayer money to build a bridge to nowhere, making her claim to fiscal "reform" a hypocrisy.  and she seemed way too socially backwards for my taste--especially with that library thing. 

and mccain--come on!  i pictured his world accurately enough:  a vast landscape of nuclear power plants and self-righteous, socially conservative republicans trying to run the show.  we'd had plenty of that under the bush era, and that had failed.  not to mention, since he was a war hero, i envisioned his approach to international affairs being a little too war-heavy.  choosing palin as a running mate made me lose faith in him.  and congress seemed to blacklist him when he strode down there to "fix" the financial crisis, which didn't bode well.  

we didn't need that.  we needed someone with more a more nuanced understanding of the world--someone who could guide us into the 21st century, not backwards into the 20th.   

mccain just didn't do it for me. 

obama was the one.  definitely obama.  yeah, he was a little extreme in some areas, but he'd balance out, once he got in power.

now, let's switch gears.

fast forward half a year.

at this point, while there have been a handful of things i've been happy about since obama has taken office (1. the world likes us more, 2. there seems to be more social unity, 3. he seems to know how to handle multiple crises simultaneously, 4. he's nominated a couple centrists to his administration, and 5. he seems to have a vision)--by and large i've been unsatisfied with the way he's handled things.

off the top of my head, here's some things that disturb me about what he's done:

1. we're massively deeper in debt and on an unsustainable path to greater debt.  anyone can tell you this, even the most obama-friendly media sources

2. we bailed out a dying auto industry that might be in need of another bailout, and might have never deserved the first one

3. health care seems like a very dangerous proposition.  sure, i want all americans to have better access to healthcare.  who doesn't?  but does it really need to be done the way we're planning it in congress right now?  because i can think of some alternative approaches that might yield similar ends with much better means.

4. the stimulus bill cost us hundreds of billions and doesn't seem to be stimulating.  again, pretty much anyone will agree to this--even the white house.  

5. the climate bill, though thankfully stalled in congress, scares me almost as much as the prospect of actual climate change.  the consequences of this bill could hamstring us in a way that could prevent us from nimbly and forcefully counteracting real climate change as it occurs in the future

6. i'm worried our national defense is slowly going to be weakened 

7. i'm worried we are on the path towards over-regulation, to our detriment

8. i'm worried about his supreme court nomination


and this is just the short list.  

making the case for each point would take a good 10 pages probably.  so i'll spare you the analysis behind it. 

and the point i really want to make is altogether different.  

the point of this whole story is not to do a pro/con list for the '09 political candidates.  because to do so would take much more time and energy than this blog can handle.  

instead, the purpose of this story is to tell a secret i really want to break free of:

for months now, i've been too timid to express my dissatisfaction with our leader.  and i did not want you to ever know this fact.    

there you have it.

hell, i didn't want to be thrown to the lions for being the one seemingly sensible, progressive-minded person who DIDN'T LIKE OBAMA.  

after all:  who would? 

especially when it's much easier to go with the flow, agree with the crowd, and smile whenever anyone gloats about the good job he's doing.

and i'll be the first to say that's exactly what i've been doing since inauguration.

and it didn't make it any easier that the media was always in obama's court.  hell, the world was in his court.  you think i wanted to go against the grain, when all there was was grain?

the requisite psychic energy it would've taken for someone like me (a naturally happy and agreeable person) to take a stand against obama...well, it would've taken more integrity than i could harness. 

but i'm no longer going to hold back.  not because i'm any less agreeable or happy, but because i would be willing to bet there are a few of you out there who might be holding back a little bit too. and if there is one solitary person out there who can relate to being swept away by the obama tide, even when in the back of his or her mind questioned some of what was going on--then speaking out right now makes it all worthwhile. 

but maybe i'm wrong.  maybe all of you fully agree with his policies. 

maybe you have more integrity and political insight than i do.

or better information or prescience about how all his policies will work out 10 years down the road.

maybe you all have more fortitude to stand up whenever you believe something is askew--reaching your conclusions without paying any regard to what the media or the general public tells you.

if this is you--my hat goes off to you.  honestly, you are beyond me in integrity and insight.

for myself, though, it's high time i get some balls and break free of obama.  

nothing personal.

it's just something i have to do for myself.

and i can honestly say i'm breaking free of obama with the the genuine belief that, were i ever given the chance to become more intimately involved in the political process, i could help shape the national debate in a way that would be equally progressive--yet MORE sustainable for our country and our future.  real progressivism.    

and i'm sorry that sounds delusional, self-centered, and egotistical.

trust me, i get it.  who am i to presume i could ever hold a candle to obama?  or that anyone could hold a candle, for that matter.    

but the thing is:  i honestly think creating equally progressive--yet financially sustainable--policies for our nation would be easier than it seems.  

it's not rocket science.  it just takes brutal self-honesty and a massive dose of reality.  it would involve much more honesty with the public about what is feasible in the real world--not the world of rhetoric.  it would involve explaining:

* ALL the risks involved with every decision
* ALL the motives behind ALL policy recommendations
* ALL the possible ways scenarios could play out, and selecting the most sensible one, and 
* ALWAYS being honest about the fact that not everyone would get what they want.  

but should politics honestly be handled any other way?

Monday, July 27, 2009

bear witness

 i am now ready to bare witness.

witness to the fact that prayer works.

witness to the fact that when you turn over your will and entrust god with full care of your life--miracles happen.  

more miracles have happened in the past two weeks than ever before.

and i'd like to bear witness.

god is real.

god will do for you what you cannot do for yourself.

earnestly pray--and miracles will happen to you.  


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

200,000 years and my mind is a purple moon

as i was jogging around a pond the other night, these words came into to my mind:

my mind is a purple moon.  

god is a weeping willow with lit street lamps.

had it been a few months ago, i would have jotted these ideas down when i got home and tried to work them into a chapter somehow.  

they felt so inspired--how could i not?

anyway, i did end up typing them into my phone, then forgot all about it.

i imagine poems are written this way, are they not?  voices in our heads?  "divine words" in our minds? 

i guess i cannot say--not being a poet.

but what's different about today than every other day in the past ten years is that i now have no desire to work these airy images into fiction.  

instead, i'm asking myself:  how would these ideas help someone?  would they help someone?

maybe.  but the likelihood seems slim.

today, i'm choosing to W.A.I.T. 

to ask myself: Why Am I Talking?

am i talking because i want to sound creative?  because i want you to think i'm smart?  or frenetic and artsy?  or deep?  

as a friend of mine always says:  so, how does this change things?  

this question used to drive me berserk.  we should not expect art to change things, my mind would silently retort.

but these days, i'm asking myself the same damn question.  

if art cannot change things, why is it there?  

creativity for creativity's sake can be a wonderful thing.  

but if i find myself being creative for creativity's sake, i've got to ask myself: why am i talking?

DNA and fossil evidence suggests modern humans originated about 200,000 years ago.

that equates to 73 million days humankind has woken up and gone to bed on the planet earth.

73 million days into this thing, while jogging around a pond, a voice comes into my head and says to me:  my mind is a purple moon.  

not only that.  my intuition suggests to me that these words are worthy of writing down.  of making a record of them for myself and for others.

and here i am, on a computer, recording them in a blog, where they are accessible to the 1.6 billion people around the globe who have internet access.  

does this change anything?  

shouldn't i--we, as a human race--be solving larger problems...more evolved problems?  

73 million days into this thing, and people are bombing the jakarta ritz hotel.  killing each other with guns.  believing in the infallibility of the pope.  failing to understand the reality of supply and demand.  

where are we?

200,000 years into this thing and my mind is a purple moon.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

the free market is for chickens

have you noticed how much of a bad rap the free market (aka "capitalism") gets these days?

with the collapse of the economy, folks all over have been lambasting it.  

it's been described as a monumental failure.  it's been labeled a dead doctrine.

is it?

churchill once called democracy "the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried."  

democracy is not the free market.  but the same thing might be said about the free market.

my best friend once joked to me that the free market is really just a system that allows me to give you my chickens in exchange for your bananas.

and it's kinda true.

the free market is really just a barter system with a twist.  

i have 10 chickens.  you have 20 bananas.  i give you one chicken in exchange for 10 bananas.  

pretty simple, right?

but say i try to give you my one chicken and you decide that you don't need it.  you really want a loaf of bread.  so therefore we're unable to work out an exchange.  

since i no longer have a means of exchange with you, we now have a dilemma, don't we? 

this is where the twist comes in:  green paper and shiny coins.

prior to the dawn of green paper and shiny coins, you and i were at a standstill.  i wanted your bananas, but you didn't want my chickens.  

but now, what i can do is give you two green papers for your 10 bananas.  and you're happy, because you can turn around and give those two green papers to mary, who happens to have a loaf of bread. 

mary then gives one of those green papers to mark, in exchange for a cup of coffee.  

mark then gives two shiny coins to joann, in exchange for a stick of gum.

sounds like a nursery rhyme, right?  

but the free market is pretty darn simple.  that's the funny thing about it.   

why would an arrangement that allows people to give each other green paper and shiny coins in exchange for chickens, bananas, coffee, and gum, get such a bad rap?

is it because some people are able to accumulate more green paper and shiny coins than others?  because all that really means is that those people are able to make more exchanges for chickens, bananas, coffee, and gum?  is that bad?

after all, what could be a better arrangement than one that enables you and i, and mary and mark and joann, to freely exchange with each other so that we can each collect precisely the number of chickens, bananas, coffee beans, and sticks of gum we want?

what could be better?

would it better if someone else told us how many chickens, bananas, coffee beans, and sticks of gum we should each have?

how about if i told you that you are no longer able to keep your 20 bananas?   you would get angry.  you would tell me that you spent lots of time and energy to grow those bananas, so what right to i have to take them from you, wouldn't you?

but what if i said that mary and mark and i had gotten together and decided that 20 bananas is more than any one person could ever need, so we're going to make you give each of us 3 bananas.  you might be a little frustrated.  you'd surely ask why.

"well," i'd say, "we all agree that we need those bananas more than you do.  and we have some friends who could also benefit from those bananas, so tough shit."  

or what if i told you that you growing your bananas is wrong, and that what you really need to be growing is olives.  "but hold on," you say.  "you may not want my bananas, but mary and mark come to me for bananas all the time.  why should i grow olives when i have people who come to me for my bananas?"  

"well," i say.  "times have changed.  feel free to continue growing your bananas, just so long as you understand that for every 10 bananas you grow, you have to give me 2 of them.  also, before you can grow more bananas, you have to fill out a banana growers request form.  this form will take two weeks for me to read, because i am a busy person."

"but i can't wait that long," you might say.  "i have to spend that time cultivating the land so that i can have the bananas ready by the time mark and mary like to have them."  

"doesn't matter," i say.  "this is what you have to do if you want to continue growing bananas."

clearly, you catch the drift.  

bottom line is that, when you break it down, the free market is simply an arrangement by which we use green paper and shiny coins for the trading of chickens and bananas.  and coffee and gum.  and even olives. 

if that's an evil system, please show me what aspect of it is evil.    

my guess is that if there's anything evil about it, it likely has more to do with the human beings who trade the chickens, bananas, coffee, and gum than it does with the actual trading arrangement itself.

but maybe i'm wrong.  

it wouldn't be the first time.