Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Where I Stand

December 20, 2016

I’d originally intended to write this piece after Clinton won the election to explain why I couldn’t vote for her. I’m writing it anyway. It’s meant to explain where I stand culturally/politically.

I was born into a mainstream “moderate to conservative” (I put the words in quotes because I think they’re deceptive) Democratic Party household. Eugene McCarthy’s near upset of Lyndon Johnson in the New Hampshire primary inspired me to leave the fold. I became what would be described today as an “ultra liberal.” Then, with the election of Richard Nixon, I dropped out psychologically and philosophically, switching my allegiance to the counterculture. The change coincided with my deepening disillusionment with Western civilization and ideas.

In its early days, the counterculture was divided into two fundamental factions: the spiritual hippies and the New Left politicos. The essential difference was that the hippies believed you had to change yourself before you could change the world, while the leftists believed you had to change the world before you could change yourself. I sided with the hippies. By the time I was 20 I completely dismissed mainstream American culture. I saw it as dying. At the same time, the hippie image and philosophy were being diluted and destroyed by the Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll crowd, who were not hippies, but looked like them. I ended up dropping out of the counterculture—dropping out of the drop-outs—and landing on the streets of North Beach, where I continued my search for what is “really real.” It wasn’t exactly a deliberate move, but neither was it an accident. I didn’t find all my answers there, but I did find many. And I came to a solid understanding that America really was in a death spiral, something that’s quite apparent now.

I remained a complete outsider—no home, no job, no ID—until the wild parrots came into my life. By getting involved with two creative projects, the book and the film, and having to present them to the public, I got pulled back into the System. (Both projects happened naturally. They were not calculated.) But I remained essentially a counterculturist disillusioned with the counterculture—not to mention the System. My return coincided with 9/11, so in 2008, I was happy to be seduced by Obama. But he turned out to be more of the same—a so-called centrist Democrat. I vowed then that I would never get fooled again. The only individual I could imagine ever supporting was Bernie Sanders. He was from the edge of the counterculture, its political side, so he felt close enough to where I stood. But I never thought he’d run, and when he announced, I pretty much ignored him. He started saying things that for so long had needed to be said, and I was amazed by how many responded to him. I was riveted throughout his campaign. But the establishment Democrats had no intention of allowing him to succeed.

Since the advent of computers the Empire has become corporate and global in nature. (That’s obvious, yes.) I am adamantly opposed to the Empire, which is indifferent to everything save money and power. Its massiveness has made it the biggest threat to world peace, a healthy environment, and a sane life. Hillary Clinton, like her husband, is a supporter of the Empire. She made it clear that she would use military power to keep the Empire in place and thriving. Trump, who is a genuine sociopath (that needs to be understood), is more like a domestic terrorist. He will fail because of his ego. The Global Empire demands an ability to work with others, something he is incapable of doing because of his “disease.” He’s going to cause a great deal of harm to his fellow Americans, but it’s difficult for me to think of Trump as objectively worse simply because he is more of a threat to me personally. If I did, it would make me indifferent to the suffering of those who Clinton would have squashed in her effort to maintain the Empire, which, like America, is also in its death throes. Both Clinton and Trump are devotees of Mammon. They simply had different constituencies supporting them in their quests for power. Mammon has no principles.

My allegiance remains to the counterculture, which needs to revive itself and develop greater maturity. There is no hope for the established institutions of the modern world, which are completely off-base philosophically. I don’t care about economics, politics, or science, all of which now serve as tools for ambitious egotists. The only thing I’ve ever cared about is love. It’s the only thing that has never fallen away from me.

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My Mixed Response

October 15, 2013

I have a mixed response to the debacle going on in Washington D. C. right now. On the one hand, I don’t think the Tea Party should be given anything whatsoever. They need to be utterly broken—by which I mean exposed. Their illogic has to be exposed and dispensed with. They aren’t right about anything, and it shouldn’t be hard for an adult to get that across to the people. When they say they believe in freedom, what they’re really standing up for is a brutal Darwinian existence where the biggest, most ruthless egotists get to take whatever they can get their hands on. And they don’t really favor small government per se. What they seek is the abolition of all protections for the weak. But also an enormous military and intelligence apparatus to maintain power. They are constantly calling for increased military spending—every single budget, which is insane. But we have rules against speaking these particular truths in this country, so what should happen, won’t. Obama is not going to take the Tea Party on once and for all. We’re going to have these “budget” issues as a continuing problem well into the future.

Which brings me to the reason for my mixed response. I believe that if you look to the longterm—the real longterm, not a polite fiction—it doesn’t matter much who wins this fight. What we’re really witnessing is the ongoing collapse of an empire. All empires collapse and ours is in the process of collapse—right now. Our rise was steep and fast, and our fall will be the same. I tend to see it starting with the war in Vietnam. I don’t think we’re good at being imperialists. We’ve always claimed to have ideals, to be a bright shining light, and being an empire is in conflict with our supposed idealism. So the national mindset ends up being a big fantasy. What a perfect representation of that fantasy mind was Ronald Reagan! He glorified greed as a virtue. But greed always undermines those who practice it. That’s as much a universal law as thermodynamics. Our downfall will be our gross materialism and the militarism required to maintain it. I do see hope for the future. But our only hope is to regain our status as a republic. Only when the empire has given way will we have the opportunity to assume the goodwill, calm, and simple contentment that will enable us to begin to create a way of life that makes sense, where wisdom and love have meaning again. There are things we can be doing now, but I tend to think that the great work cannot commence until the monster has given up the ghost.

Progress Report #90: Complete Retreat

September 5, 2013

I’m back from two weeks of almost complete solitude at the Morris Graves Foundation Retreat. During that time I saw no one except for the caretakers. I had no contact with the outside world: no phone, no internet, no mail, no radio, no newspaper, no television. Nothing. Those are the rules of the retreat and I respect them. It was a little tougher than I thought it was going to be, which is not to say it was all that hard. I’ve had a lot of experience with solitude. But it wasn’t a breeze. The important thing is that I had the opportunity to focus on my work. I made some good progress. I’d been faced with a logjam before I left, and I got it all sorted out.

I didn’t hear any news the entire time I was up there, and I found that I didn’t miss it. When Judy picked me up, I asked her if anything heavy was happening or had happened. She told me that Obama is working hard to get approval to attack Syria. I didn’t want to know anything else. I was disgusted. I’ve continued to avoid the news since my return home.

I want to get this book finished. (I’ll write more about the retreat in the future.)

Think It’s Time for a Change

April 22, 2013

I started doing this blog shortly after Obama was elected in 2008. I saw better times coming and wanted to talk about where I believed we should go after all the years of Reaganism. It hasn’t turned out that way. First there was the much-deeper-than-I-foresaw racist reaction to having a black male as president. And then there’s been Obama’s inclination toward Reagan-like policies. (Yes, things could be worse—like, say, a McCain or a Romney presidency. But we are still heading toward hell, just at a slower pace.)

Lately, things have gotten so crazy that I find myself constantly conjuring up comebacks to all the negativity in the form of posts that I end up not writing because I’m tired of writing about this stuff. It’s my intention to stop reading and thinking about the violent and greedy egomaniacs in our midst and to start talking about where I believe we should go, or, at the very least, where I want to go. There are solutions to what ails us, and it’s not too late. I don’t think many people recognize what those solutions are, though. We’ve become too frivolous and distracted. But this is where I am going to put my energy now.

Changing My Political Affiliation

April 10, 2013

Last week when I read in the New York Times that Obama was going to submit a budget that proposed cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits, I decided that if he really did this, I was going to leave the Democratic Party. For what it’s worth, I wrote the White House saying so. (No response and no quaking in boots.) Well, he has done so, and I’m changing my registration today. Some people are saying that what he’s done is merely a tactic to try to make the Republicans look bad or something. I don’t care. I want someone who stands up and openly does what’s good and what’s right. I’m sick of the political games. I’m sick of compromising with evil. I don’t know exactly what happens next, but I’m not staying on this track anymore. The Republicans managed to pull the country into hell by being uncompromising. Maybe we have to be uncompromising to make our way into the heavenly realm.

In more pleasant news, I just found out that my book, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, has gone into an 11th printing as a paperback. (It did four printings in hardback.) Next February, the book will have been in print for ten years, a happy milestone.

Voting in Republicans

December 7, 2012

I’m fed up with voting for Democrats and getting Republicans. I read that the Obama administration has been having meetings to decide what to do about the states of Washington and Colorado and their legalization of marijuana. I haven’t smoked any pot in around fifteen years, but I think it’s a fine, fine plant. I’ve had some good insights while high that, decades later, I still draw upon. It may seem like a small thing, but I’m at a kind of personal tipping point here. Given that they could choose to simply leave it alone, if they do anything at all, any kind of federal enforcement, then I’m going down to city hall and changing my voter registration away from “Democrat.” Not a big thing, I know, but what else can I do? How much of this bullshit do we have to take?

Why Obama: An Addendum

November 29, 2012

In the documentary film Freedom Riders, which I watched yesterday, there are frequent interviews with John Patterson who was the governor of Alabama at the time of the Freedom Rides. He was a segregationist, and his refusal to provide protection for the Freedom Riders allowed them to be beaten severely by white mobs. The interviews are curious. He comes off as intelligent and he speaks frankly and unapologetically about the time. He is never put on the spot by the interviewer. One comes away from the film curious about his current views. (He was in his late 80s when the film was made.) I looked him up and it turns out that he renounced his segregationist views a long time ago. (I wonder why he wasn’t given the opportunity to say so.) He insists, and of course he’s right, that in those days being in favor of integration in a place like Alabama was political suicide. Even more interesting, in 2008 he endorsed Obama for president. The Freedom Riders were not supported initially by the Civil Rights establishment—including Martin Luther King. It was thought they were pushing things too far, too fast. In the end they won. I think their pacifist stand had a lot to do with it. They were young, and many people thought them hopelessly naive. But they had courage, good hearts, a good sense of humor, and smart tactics. When Mississippi tried to intimidate the Freedom Riders by locking them up in the notoriously severe Parchman Prison rather than in a relatively easy city jail, the Freedom Riders said, “Okay, let’s fill the prison with so many of us that putting us in prison becomes a huge hassle for the state of Mississippi.” And they did it. They sent hundreds of volunteers—black, white, men, and women—down to  break the segregation laws, and Mississippi was overwhelmed by it all. The Freedom Riders are true heroes, not the fakes who get passed off as heroes nowadays.

Why Obama

November 28, 2012

I recently received an email from someone in Canada who wanted to know why I had supported Obama’s reelection. He is angry with Obama and cited, specifically, Obama’s use of drones and his caving in to the Wall Street bankers. My answer to him was, yes, well…better him than the horror that was Romney. After watching a documentary on the Freedom Riders of the early 1960s, I’m reminded of another reason, a reason that I was well aware of in 2008, but less so this time around. Namely: It is so good for this country to have as president someone who is not lily-white—and who was re-elected to boot. That’s a fundamental and forever change, I think. And that’s good enough for me.

So, Back to Work.

November 8, 2012

Like a lot of people, I think, I feel more relieved than celebratory after the election. Basically, we’re back at square one, except that the Republicans are pretty much in a situation where they have to abandon their tactics of confrontation and obstruction. They failed in their bid to destroy Obama, to make him a one-term president. I don’t think most people want another four years of their intransigence. The one aspect of the election that cheers me is the very real possibility that the Republican strategy of depending on the angry white male voter has finally reached a dead end. This is a common theme in all the commentary I’ve been reading. It all began back in 1968 with Nixon’s “Southern Strategy,” a transparently, if not openly, racist approach. They’ve been tweaking it ever since. But it may finally be dead, dead, dead. Thank God! (Demographically speaking, I am a white male, a taxpaying, home-owning WASP. But I’m not angry.)

In the last two or three weeks I’ve been distracted by the election. Now I can get back to work in earnest. I haven’t done any final-draft level writing in ten years. It feels good to be back in the saddle. I’m satisfied with how it’s going.

An addendum a few hours after posting: No one knows really knows which way the wind will blow, but the Republicans are actually talking intransigence. For them it’s apparently got to be either victory or self-immolation.

This Creepy Election

October 31, 2012

I haven’t been writing about the election. I find the level of debate extraordinarily discouraging, which reflects, I think, a certain naïveté on my part. For years, I’ve been watching the intelligence of the American people go downhill. What’s there to be shocked about? When you have this kind of worship of celebrity and wealth—classic decadent empire—it’s to be expected.  Self-government requires intelligence and engagement. We’re facing some extremely serious issues, none of which are being addressed. One example is human-caused climate change, which most scientists seem to agree does exist. Not to discuss it is crazy and dangerous. But neither candidate dares to touch it. Another example is the economy. It’s discussed, but not the real underlying problem. The truth is that we’re seeing the end of a fantasy belief, that of constant economic growth for generation after generation. It was always a logical fallacy, an utter impossibility. Neither candidate can save the economy—at least not the old-style economy that we’re used to. We’re entering a new era and we need to start looking at it realistically. Does Obama need to lose so that Romney can demonstrate that the Republicans’ ideas won’t work either? I have little doubt that if either candidate told the truth about what’s really going on, the people—who claim to want their politicians to tell them the truth—would turn on him. So democracy—self-government—is failing in America. If it were working it wouldn’t matter how much money any particular candidate raised. People would have seriously studied the issues and would judge a candidate on the clarity and truth of his or her ideas, not on their ad campaigns. Money would be irrelevant. I blame much of our current state on computers and the Internet. We have not gotten any smarter since their introduction. To the contrary. (I’ll be writing more about this in the future.)

In any case, I’ve already voted, and I voted for Obama. I have to wonder if the worst happens and Romney does win, will the Republicans, given the last four years, be so hypocritical as to demand national unity? I’m sure they will. All the old insanity, all the old lines like “why do you hate America?,” and talk of non-Republicans being treasonous will once again tiresomely fill the air. Our only solution is to step back and take a non-ideological, objective-as-possible look at who we are and what we believe. What we believe must correspond to what is true, not what we’d like to be true. We can still do it. It may take another economic crash and a few more monster storms, but we can still do it. It’s not too late.