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gulliver's Journal
gulliver's Journal
August 12, 2014

It's a tricky feeling.

I don't know if feelings of intense revulsion and mental frozenness qualify. I may or may not know what depression is like, but I have similar feelings frequently. Knowing them, I am not really sure how they could feel more terrible. But I explore them when I feel them, feeding them to curiosity. Then I study the feelings and realize I don't have to be only them. They can become just another deep and interesting place to be, not even a place necessarily to be avoided if it weren't for the boring stupor, the pain, and the anxious need to hide from other people.

The thing not to do with the feeling is to drive cognition with it, at least not without standing mentally outside the generated cognitions as an observer and student. There is a tendency to produce thought models, deductions, and narratives from nausea, mental pain, and stupor. I always take those cognitions as provisional and curious, regardless of how limitlessly horrible and conclusive they feel. They are like dreams. The stupor/ugh feeling is where it begins. The feeling hits and conjures up seemingly inescapable, nighmarish, irrefutable "reasoning" for self-hatred and despair. What is really just an awful feeling becomes elaborated in the language of all levels of the mind. But you have to recognize where the "reasoning" and spiritual level cognitions are coming from and that all such thinking is provisional, suspect, curious. It is ignorable, questionable and capable of being learned from. You don't have to interpret it as your "self," because it simply isn't that. That position helps reasoning and feeling both, imo.

I did just finish reading Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus and I tend to agree with Camus. Sisyphus doesn't have it so bad. He rolls his rock up the mountain and watches it roll back down, and the message of it can be one of intolerable, Hell-like futility or of joy-filled heroism and mindfulness. You can accept absurdity and darkness and derive great strength from them.

And no, I'm not telling people to dump their meds or that everyone should just try to face down their demons with mental tricks. I'm just sharing something that I think it is useful. I think our culture and art have given many people a kind of operatic feeling of what authenticity is all about, and it is, we think, about "being true to our feelings." But that's just a step or two away from being slaves to them. We share a whole bunch of feelings with all mammals, mammals that lack basic cognition. We aren't being inauthentic to be more than our feelings, we are being more authentic.

May 11, 2014

Everyone knows why Benghazi

It's because practically nothing else bad has happened during Obama's entire presidency. All kinds of good things have been happening and no bad things. Exactly the opposite of the way things were under George W. Bush and his Republicans.

No skyscrapers being destroyed by hijacked airplanes, no ruinous, unnecessary wars, no mishandled weather catastrophes, no historic stock market, real estate, and jobs depressions...nothing. It's been relatively pleasant under Obama and the Dems—as usual. All the country's meters are either back in the green or at least moving that direction.

Not so under the Republicans. The Bush/Republican administration gave America, on average, one Benghazi-level dose of suffering for every single day they held office...and then some. People need to be reminded of that. Under Obama and the Dems, lots of good things have happened. Under George W. Bush and his Republicans, lots of bad things. Let the trees be judged.

We should take the "let's talk about Benghazi" ploy by Republicans for what it really is, an admission that Obamacare is a strong Dem issue now. Republicans are so politically bankrupt, they are down to boiling their shoes for food.

April 19, 2014

"May I speak to Mr. Edward Snowden, please?"

"May I ask who's calling?"

"Certainly, this is the President's office."

"Would that be President Putin or...?"

"Yes, President Putin. Is Mr. Snowden available?"


"Good. Mr.Snowden, the President will be taking questions from the public, and he asks if you would like to pose him a question."

"Um, sure. When would this be?"

"Tomorrow afternoon."

"Ok, well sure. I can be there. Just let me know when and where."

"Actually, we thought that for your convenience we could tape your question ahead of time. Would that be all right?"

"Um, ok. Yeah, I don't see why not. Now, about my asylum extension. Is this the right time to ask?"

"You should continue to work that through our legal system, of course. I don't think your participation in this event with President Putin should hurt your case, if that is what you are asking."

"Sure. Ok."

--- Or ----

"Hello, may I speak to someone who knows about the President's next public questions event?"

"May I ask who's calling?"

"This is Edward Snowden."

"The Edward Snowden?"

"Yes, the Edward Snowden."

"Yes Sir. How may I help?"

"I thought that in the interest of the privacy rights of Russian citizens I would tape a question for President Putin."

"Well, that is not such a good idea, Mr. Snowden. President Putin is under a great deal of pressure saving our good Russians in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine from terrorists. He prizes civil liberties like no one else, but he is just too busy to take your inquiry."

"I insist, Sir! It is my intention to hold President Putin's feet to the fire; I want to ensure that Russian children will know what it is like to have a private thought and to have a say in how their government is run. I think I am the one to do that if you will only assist me."

"Mr. Snowden, do you realize what you are asking? You want me to allow you to tape a question for my President that will embarrass him on television? You want me to keep it a secret from him?"

"Yes. It must be a secret between you and me. What's your name by the way?"

"That's not important is it?"

"You're right. It's better for you that I don't know. The plan is that I will tape the question. Then you make sure that it gets on the show."

"It will get me in trouble. They will know it's me."

"Do it for your countrymen, dammit!"

"I see. You are very persuasive, Mr. Snowden. You have won me over to your cause."

"I'll get you the tape and you will make sure that it surprises President Putin?"

"Yes. I will do that. I'll do it for Pussy Riot."

"Make sure that the President doesn't see my tape in advance. Heh. I'll be taping in English. I want the President to have to ask for an interpreter live. Make sure one is there! Remember, we don't want him rehearsing a joke about how he and I are both ex-intelligence professionals or anything like that. That would just play into his hands. We want to surprise him."

April 9, 2014

Voting to get a "political product" is a sickness.

I guess Americans can be forgiven for thinking of voting as a way of paying for a "political product." It's deeply misguided, but in our world, practically everything has taken on the characteristics of a transaction.

First, the product is shown or proposed. The buyer looks over the product or proposal. The buyer chooses and "buys." The product is delivered or not. If the product is not delivered as proposed, then the buyer has a right to be angry and to choose not to buy from the seller in the future. If the product is delivered as promised, the buyer returns for more.

Fine, but voting isn't that. Government isn't that. Everything isn't that.

I think a lot of folks have gotten so used to this passive, "sell me something" paradigm that we sometimes apply it where it doesn't apply. Voting isn't buying. Voting is taking action. Voting is, if anything, producing a product, not simply buying one off of the menu.

Look at the net monetary value of a single vote. It's practically worthless. People used to—rationally—sell their votes for a beer. One of the best arguments against the Republicans' lying contention that there is widespread voter fraud is simply that a vote isn't worth enough to risk going to jail over. It isn't worth enough to risk getting a parking ticket.

A vote isn't money, and you aren't buying things with it. And if you don't get the things you thought you were "buying," you don't have grounds to be angry. You weren't buying anything. You were trying to empower a position. You don't get to be a consumer in this case, much as you might want to be. Much as you might not be able to see yourself as anything else.

A voter is just a tugger on a rope, an engine on the democratic plane, not cargo. If you don't win the tug-of-war or the plane doesn't make it over the mountain, it doesn't mean you didn't "get what you paid for." It means that voters with your position—as a group—were outnumbered or, if not outnumbered, failed to do their part.

March 29, 2014

I bought a car from a used car salesman a couple of years ago.

True story, but since I don't intend to tell you anything about who the guy is, you are free to assume I am making it up. You'll just have to refer to your own experience.

I saw the guy's ad on-line. He runs a small car lot out on one of the local highways. He had what looked like the perfect car I wanted at a good price. So I made an appointment with the guy and later drove out to look at the car.

The guy was maybe late thirties, early forties. Very big, very muscular. He told me he was a dedicated bodybuilder. I'm not, but I work out (sometimes), so I know it takes a hell of a lot of work to look the way this guy looked.

We talked some about our families and then I took the car out for a test drive. It drove great.

I had a couple of minor problems with the finish on the car, and I told the guy about them. I said I wanted to make an offer on the car, but I couldn't unless I was sure the minor problems were fixable. He told me to give him a day and the problems would be fixed. He wanted me to make the offer before I left, but I told him no, I wanted to wait until I was sure. He was fine with that.

I came back the next day to look at the car, and sure enough, the problems were taken care of. So I made him an offer, and he made a counter-offer. We settled somewhere in the middle. I bought the car. He sold it.

It has been an excellent car. I have had no problems with it. I'm very glad I bought it.

It bothers me when I see "used car salesman" used as a putdown, and not just because it is bad writing. I think a lot of good people make a living selling cars to people who want them. They then take the money and buy groceries.

March 26, 2014

Snowden: "Congratulations to me!"

"Now the world's children can once again grow up knowing what it means to have private thoughts! Once again, people have the power to control their own lives. The great night that had descended on the human spirit, the hobnailed boot on the neck of all mankind, the helpless, hopeless abysses of terror into which we were heretofore plunged...all past. We are free again. All I can say is, World, you are welcome."

March 22, 2014

GOTV Enemy #1: "The Democrats must earn votes."

Imo, the idea that the Democrats have to earn voter turnout from left-leaning voters needs to be demolished. It is one of these "easy-to-get-backwards" ideas that someone should catalog some day, like trickle-down economics, or requiring payment for higher education, or the drug war. The idea that voter turnout should be earned is somehow so apparently obvious that people don't question it. They keep chugging the rotgut and blame something else for the blindness that follows.

If there is more Democratic power, there is more Democratic power to go around. Create the power, then your share of it will grow. It really is that simple. Vote first. Vote always.

But how do I trust? How do I get past the hopelessness and feelings of pointlessness? How do I get past the hopes of easy escape, and the cozy, upright, and proud feelings I get when making my stand for inaction? How do I get past the anger and disgust?

That stuff is all complete and utter bullshit. It's the Zeno's Paradox of the motivation-afflicted. There is a subtle difference between standing your ground and resolving to stay in bed under your warm blankies. If farmers only worked when circumstances made them feel like working or only did the chores they enjoyed, we would all starve. Farmers just get it done.

Always vote Democratic in every election for every office. Do that once in 2014, and the bullies will back down. Do it twice, and we get Roosevelt-era, human-centered governance. We need to get this right, because it is all that is keeping us at a fifty-fifty standoff with the Koch's payola and the brutally misguided folks on the right.

March 21, 2014

Where the Buck Really Stops

So some obviously able-bodied guy cross-parks his Escalade over two handicapped spots in front of a hospital entrance. He gets out, and tosses an empty coffee cup into the window of the car next to him. Then he spits on a seeing eye dog, trips an old lady, and cuts in at the head of the line. "I need to get someone to look at this finger," he says. "I'm teeing off in twenty minutes, so make it snappy."

That guy is still a better person than a non-voter.

When we get to the point where we look down on non-voters rather than sympathizing with them, when we no longer tolerate their learned helplessness, depression, and "political consumerist" whims, when their excuses fall on deaf ears, we will be on the right track.

March 11, 2014

He's desperate for new asylum, I think.

All this noise from Snowden lately makes me think he's been getting some less-than-positive signals from Russia on his asylum renewal. To me, he sounds like someone trying to convince any third party country who will listen that he really has character. Everything he did was for the best intentions, following the rules, etc. Good luck.

He really blew it by putting down the United States and making juvenile rants like the one he made last December. That sank him. No country wants to be the base of operations for the tween hearthrob of libertarianism now that he's past his sell-by date. Gotta wonder what Putin is making of Snowden now.

I'm feeling about a 61% probability Snowden is in prison in August.

March 8, 2014

As usual with Obama

As usual with Obama, things are just going to work out with Ukraine. There won't be any catastrophe. There won't be a new war, cold or hot. Americans won't kill or be killed. We won't be throwing away hundreds of billions of dollars. It will just work out. Somehow, whatever it is Obama does just works out.

The media will definitely give him credit—for being lucky. Where's the story if things just work out? Obama may be technically President of the United States, but he is sure no protagonist. The Putin character is just being wasted. Give us back Chance the Great.

The Republicans will have found no hint of arrogance or hormone-releasing recklessness in Obama's performance. No catharsis for them. Just more of this Libya-Syria "careful" crap. They will have to kick their dogs again.

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