Contemplating the Bar in Denny’s

Why would anyone want to go to a bar in Denny’s? Dimly lit by pink fluorescent Oregon lottery lights, the smell of stale cigarettes hanging about even though cigarettes have been banned in bars for nearly  a decade, I can’t imagine anyone actually choosing to go there, yet people do. Is it a case of just wanting a bar and it’s close so they go in? Is it gambling addiction? Is it simply pure boredom? Is it such thorough disconnection from the self that there isn’t any consideration at all, just a walking in and ordering without any conscious thought? Probably all of this and more.

I try to imagine a life where a person would choose to spend time in a bar like this. I am certain that there are those who do not find such places unpleasant. Maybe the smell of cheap perfumed restroom soap mixed with ages old cigarettes is a comfort. It slightly sickens me, but I’m the princess and the pea when it comes to stuff like this. I notice the slightest unnatural smell. I feel something rubbing my thigh under leggings. It bugs and bugs. I finally slide my hand down to figure out what the irritant is and realize it is a speck of hay no bigger than a grain of sand. The smallest crumbs on sheets are like mini razors to my skin. If I walk into a building and music is louder than it should be, or if multiple televisions are blaring bright and flashing, especially in stores or restaurants, I have to leave. My body can’t take it. It vibrates in response, irritated and reactive. I’m fine in concerts or music venues where I have chosen a specific loud sound, but even then, I’ll be tired when I leave.

Because of how I am, I’m often startled at many humans’ seeming ability to ignore what is to me sensually annoying and awful. Even if I’m reading a novel and one of the characters experiences something that would make me cringe, I can hardly stand it and will feel the commensurate response that I might feel as if I actually experienced whatever it is that is happening in the book.

I don’t by any means believe I am superior or more connected than others. However, it seems radically apparent to me that most of humanity in our civilization is drastically disconnected, to the point where they seek out means to maintain that dissociation. Silence is anathema to most, as is visual quiet, because in this state, in time it is nearly impossible to avoid ourselves and our lack of connection. That disconnection is uncomfortable. It forces us to see what we don’t want to see, and to feel what we don’t want to feel. If we feel all that we have been avoiding, it becomes overwhelming.

If we do allow ourselves to reconnect to the earth and everything in it, when stripped of all belief and ego, what is left is the pulsating vibration of life and love. It ebbs and flows. It allows you to observe the stories that surround us and we are able to fully connect with life–the eternal I–and dissolve the separation between the self and the other. There is no other in this place because it is all connected. Earth is her own being and we are a part of it.

The Nature Program produced a great documentary called My Life as a Turkey. (It’s available to watch online for free.) A man imprinted himself as the turkeys’ mother by caring for and hatching 16 wild turkey eggs. He then lived with them as they went through the different stages of development. Wild turkeys are 20 million years old as a species and humans are less than 200 thousand. It didn’t take him long to wonder who was more conscious (always in the present moment and not lost in future thinking or avoiding the present as much as possible) as he observed their innate knowing of other species. They knew who to fear and who were compatible species in the forests.

Nature can teach us so much about who we are if we learn to listen with our hearts and whole bodies instead of our chattering ego minds and the constant blaring clutter we use to obliterate that connection. Humanity has a lot to relearn and unwind collectively. Frankly I doubt our species will get there. I often ponder why Earth would allow itself to develop into a cancer that would destroy it, but maybe like cancer in us where our own cells go rogue, we too are the rogue parts of Earth, taking over and destroying that which sustains us.

Such is the conclusion I reach by contemplating the bar in Denny’s.

Heading Home?

I found an old diary today. Well, not that old. I haven’t written in it in a year. I thumbed through some old entries and had the odd feeling of finding no familiarity with the feelings in what I had written. The words were the same words I know I had written for years and years, but I felt no kinship with them. Somehow I have been pressed into another place where I no longer feel the way I did for so long. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not. Maybe it doesn’t require a judgment; maybe it just is. The diary was full of loneliness. For so long, decades even, loneliness was a mantle I wore on my back, hanging there, heavy and woolen. Even among friends, I felt it, but I just don’t anymore. Nothing has changed in my external world to fill in this blank. If anything, I have fewer friends and acquaintances than ever. I just don’t feel lonely. I love spending time with my daughters, my dogs, my horse, and our other pets, and that’s enough. In fact several times I’ve been offered the opportunity to go out and socialize and when I do, I find myself wanting to be back with the family. When I have turned down opportunities, I am glad.

Lately, I’ve had such a single minded thought focus that all else has really fallen away. I live my daily life. I’m not obsessing or anything. It’s just I know where I want to be and it’s where I’m going. I feel like I’ve been on a very long backpacking trip. Near the beginning of backpacking trips I’m always fresh and raring to go. Then at some point it gets tiring. Then I settle in and just walk, not really paying attention to the physical irritations, and somehow becoming one with the land and the landscape, a part of the trees and earth and plants, and all of it. This is how I feel lately in my life, like I’ve reached that blending place, and looking back at how I was for so long seems silly and pointless.

Interestingly, as I have settled into this place, I have felt very little desire to write here. It used to be that I had the desire, but didn’t have the time. When I had time, I had a hard time coming up with something to write because my life was so full, my brain didn’t have time to come up with anything new and interesting to say.

Lately though, I have thoughts that seem very interesting, but I have little desire to share them. I think them. I mull them over. I consider what I would say if I wrote them down, then I don’t, because I don’t need to. It has been a very long time since I have felt the desire to broadcast my thoughts to the wide world. My aging ego. It really has no need to be front and center any more.

Anyway, that’s it for now. For whatever reason, I felt like writing today. Nothing profound, just an urge. Maybe it was the diary. I don’t know.

More Perfect

Nothing can be “more perfect.” Perfection by its very nature cannot be improved upon, so how could something become more of that? If it becomes more, then it wasn’t perfect in the first place, and perhaps when called “more perfect” it becomes perfect; though that is debatable, as I believe there are valuable arguments that perfection is an impossible ideal.

Life is Like That Sometimes

I often think of new little products, waiting patiently in their boxes to be used. They’re so new and orderly. Pick me! Their calmness and order seems to say as they lie there, waiting to be chosen. They have been waiting their entire lives for use, and here you are, choosing. Will it be me? Their orderliness seems to ask.

Sometimes when I open a box of something, like Q-tips, and one of them pops out, I wonder if the other Q-tips were being mean to it or something, and it just couldn’t wait to escape. I’ll pour some vitamins in my hand, and one leaps out onto the floor, away from the other vitamins. Or other times it’s the opposite. I try and try to get something out of the box and it won’t come out, like it’s hiding in there, as if it knows that this will be the end in some way.

I wonder whether a pantyliner or other hygiene product really wants to be used. They might think it’s what they want, getting out of that box or off that shelf. A new home! But then they come to realize that their use isn’t necessarily something desired. It results in the trash can or the sewer or the landfill.

I suppose a pantyliner or other hygiene product has no idea that being placed in someone’s crotch or in an armpit or between toes is a bad thing. They have no other existence to compare theirs to. Although the pantyliner might. It meets the underwear and thinks, Oh, a friend. A different sort of friend. Then the pantyliner gets covered in goo and is tossed in the trash, and the underwear gets to stay. It’s not fair on some level, but life is like that. You get to be a professor. She gets to be a mother. He gets to be an electrician. Someone is born and starves in Africa. Another is born and is obese in America. We are all on our different journeys. This really is simply how life is.

Asses

I used to write all of my thoughts down. I don’t write all of my thoughts anymore.

Tonight I crossed a street, and then crossed a parking lot. Two men were walking up the sidewalk when I entered the parking lot. Halfway across one of the men shouted at me, “You have a nice ass!” I said low and to myself, “No I don’t.” Then I got to thinking about the concept of a nice ass and observed that having a nice or not nice ass is a weird construct, but I also thought that the man who said that probably didn’t think it was a weird construct. He probably just had some idea of the way asses look and determined that some ways are nice. I suppose this is the way most people who think about asses being nice or not thinks about them. But I find it odd that we determine that certain shapes of body parts are nice or not. I know there is some biological basis to finding certain features attractive, that it seeks out opposite and healthy genes, and youthful characteristics that are likely to increase the success of child bearing. However, I’m not sure I see where asses fit into that and I wonder how it is that our society has developed into one where we make judgments about body parts. Actually, I don’t really wonder about it. I can ascertain how we got to this place. I just wish we hadn’t, that’s all. Not because I’m offended when someone yells about my butt, but because we are where we are now and that we are headed where we are and it’s not pretty.

I spend much too much time alone. And it’s probably a good thing I don’t write my thoughts down anymore.

Just Stop Already!

Three and a half weeks ago my dog died a horrible, violent death that did NOT involve a car, and left nothing of her body. Our family has been reeling and grieving this loss, trying to come to terms with it. She was a part of our family, present at the birth of my youngest daughter (who was born at home), and important to all of us.

Why am I bringing this up? Because I can’t stand how many people are asking me when I’m going to get another dog, or telling me we should get another dog. It’s obnoxious. It hasn’t even been a month yet, for Christ’s sake! Some people asked me 2 DAYS after she died!

For the record, we have another dog. He’s helped somewhat, primarily because we love him so much, we can focus on that love instead of our hurting, which helps with any loss, I know. Heck, I got Ava the day after the death of another dog I lived with. How is that different? I can hear some people say. For one thing, that dog was my boyfriend’s. I loved her, but I had only lived with her a few months and she was attached to him. She was a dear, and my heart broke losing her. But there were many other, much worse situations going on in my life at the time that did not involve the death of any loved ones that led me to get Ava. It was the combination of these things that led to the decision to bring home a puppy to love.

The thing about pain, grieving, and loss is though, that you can’t bandaid them away. If you do, these emotions will come back to get you in other ways, and it will all probably be worse and prolonged. I knew this when I brought Ava home. And for the record, I was also seeing a therapist for all the other stuff going on.

The questions about getting a new dog bug me the most primarily because they seem to imply that dogs are simply replaceable. They’re all four-legged furry things that have to be taught to potty outside and behave appropriately. They live relatively short lives. They can be left at home all day without much trouble (most of the time, anyway).

Yet the implication belies the individuality of each animal. I’ve lived with lots of animals in my life, and just like people, every one of them was different. Each one had its own personality. Each one touched my life in different ways. To presume that Ava could simply be replaced, like a pair of shoes or a car, shows such a lack of . . . something, I can’t even find a word to express it.

I get it that I view animals differently than most people. I do not think people are more important than animals; humans are animals who happened to develop brains that gave us the capacities we have. Ultimately though, we are all equal lives in my mind.  This belief system is perhaps part of the difference between myself and those who think Ava can simply be replaced. Others think of animals as things, as property. Even our legal system reflects this, and I’m not naive enough to hope the rest of the population agrees with me.

But shit, show a little sensitivity folks. Would you tell someone who lost their husband to go get married again? Lost their child, go have a baby again? Obviously, the depth of emotion we feel for a human is much more intense than that for a dog. I would not have been able to leave that place alive if it had been Isabel or Milla instead of Ava who had been killed, I truly believe that. I could survive the loss of a spouse, but I’m not sure I could the loss of a child.

Yet for me, the sentiment on some level is the same. Ava was an individual. She was a part of our family. She wasn’t a couch, or a car, or a rug. She was special to us and to a lot of other people as well. She can’t be replaced. Someday when I’m feeling up to it, we may invite another creature to come and live with us, but for now, I wish people would just stop telling me to get another dog.

Lead Me From the River of Woe

If we wish to turn away from that which torments us, do we also turn away from that which inspires us?

I am concluding that some of our deepest compassion comes from our deepest suffering, yet we must survive the desolation in order to make it through to compassion, and sometimes this can feel impossible.

Some days, in order to turn away from the shadows, I bask in the simple light of my little girl. I’m like a fucking Hallmark greeting card. She glows and I glow in return. She radiates divinity. It is impossible to remain in dark places when my focus is on her.

Do I lose artistry in leaving the banks of Acheron to turn toward my Venusian angel?

Life is Like That

I often think of new little products, waiting patiently in their boxes to be used. They’re so new and orderly. Pick me! Their calmness and order seems to say as they lie there in their box, waiting to be chosen. They have been waiting their entire life for use, and here you are, choosing. Will it be me? Their orderliness seems to ask.

I wonder whether a pantyliner or other hygiene product really wants to be used. They might think it’s what they want, getting out of that box or off that shelf. A new home! But then they come to realize that their use isn’t necessarily something desired. It results in the trash can or the sewer or the landfill.

I suppose a pantyliner or other hygiene product has no idea that being placed in someone’s crotch or in an armpit or between toes is a bad thing. They have no other existence to compare theirs to. Although the pantyliner might. It meets the underwear and thinks, Oh, a friend. A different sort of friend. Then the pantyliner gets covered in goo and is tossed in the trash, and the underwear gets to stay. It’s not fair on some level, but life is like that. You get to be a professor. She gets to be a mother. He gets to be an electrician. Someone is born and starves in Africa. Another is born and is obese in America. We are all on our different journeys. This really is simply how life is.

Ambivalence

I think buried in my disappointment that my days are not more than they are is the expectation that they should be. Somehow I’ve been convinced that the every day should be less everyday and more unique, and when every day is everyday, I feel disappointment. Here I lie in my bed after watching a well-written movie (a rarity these days), and feel less than for having lain here watching rather than having lain here writing. Yet I have not yet overcome the belief that took hold this summer that I am not a writer, although I recognize in saying that I have not yet overcome that this feeling can be subjugated, and honestly I’m not sure that it can. I remain ambivalent. I am suffering an artist’s crisis. It is not one of confidence, but one of belief. And threaded through this I wonder whether it is incorrect to have the expectation that it should be any other way, if I’m supposed to learn to accept the everyday every day, rather than to desire to create and to live beyond the everyday.

Does any of this make sense? To anyone except for me?

My soul is languishing.

Categorizing

I wonder sometimes, whether the person sitting on the toilet in a fancy restroom somewhere like the Waldorf Astoria or some other place catering to people with too much money (a place I wouldn’t even know about because I don’t give a damn about staying somewhere with obsequious staff or desperate social climbers — a statement which obviously reveals my bias), thinks about the person who placed the toilet tissue on the roll in the stall where they squat to excrete. Perhaps there is no toilet tissue there. Maybe the seat is a bidet, and it casually aims water at the person’s backside, so there is no need for tissue. Maybe a small towelette? If so, does the wiper wonder about the person who placed the towelette there, or the person who will be required to clean it? How bizarre it is that we have as humans allowed ourselves to be categorized as those who sit on bidets and those who clean that towels that wipe the ass of the bidet sitter.

Our Illusion of Connectivity

I go to facebook. I go to email. I check all the addresses. I go back to facebook. I check my blog. I go back to facebook. In all, I find not what I am looking for. It is not satisfying. I see posts I share. I read here and there. On email I get Truthout, read through the articles. Find one that is really interesting. Read to the bottom. Post on facebook. Go back to email. Go to facebook. Read Salon, click on the link to Continue Reading. In spite of my solid belief that this election is meaningless, I still recoil when a friend likes Romney. He’s such a self-absorbed, arrogant ass, an emotional toddler. And his running mate, ewww. That guy is a sociopath. I have a physical reaction to them and wonder what is wrong when someone I know thinks this person is worth supporting. Then again, I feel frustration at the Obama love too. He’s not the Jesus they want him to be. He’s worse than Bush. He gets away with more because the Dems have their man so no one is paying attention. Ughh. Go back to email. Nothing. Something from Powell’s. Something from Bug of the Day. Go back to facebook. Share a picture of some cute animal or funny thing from George Takei, but overall. No connection. Not really.

I go to these websites alone in my house looking for a connection but there is not one. I want to communicate. I want conversation. I want intellectual stimulation. I want to discuss philosophy, that amazing talk by Alain de Botton on atheism. I want someone else to care as much as I do about what we are doing to our planet. But it’s all futility, bytes and pixels and illusion that there is connection. Searching from page to page, hoping one of the people I know will actually speak to me, to ME, and not to the general public that is their online community, is an exercise in futility. We claim to be more connected than ever, but we are further from connection than ever before. Just because I can share a comment with a friend I met in the Hague last summer does not mean there is any connection. It’s so minute as to be laughable. I read a story that brings tears to my eyes. Instead of talking to a friend about the details there, I post a comment that says, “Dang, I cried.” “Me too,” she comments back. That’s the extent of it.

I long for stimulating dinner parties with friends. Or sharp banter about books over warm drinks in a cafe. Or even stupid, silly dancing and laughing with a best girlfriend. Yet I know this is an idealized version of community cultivated by movies and books. It doesn’t exist for most of us. It sure as hell doesn’t exist for me. I’ve tried to pull it together, to be the one who invites everyone over to make some feeble attempt at this, but no one ever shows up. I have a serious knack for being stood up at parties by all my guests. I think the problem isn’t that I’m some loser or something, but that I have an idealized idea of how these things should be, and that most or all of my friends have other things to do and are simply too busy.

So I troll. I make phone calls when I’m in the car and can’t do anything else (don’t worry, I have a car phone and I’m completely hands free). I write here and wonder if anyone I know will read what I write. They don’t, but I don’t begrudge them. If what I said was interesting, they would still be too busy, just as I am too busy too. It’s our 21st century, with its illusion of connectivity. It’s sad really. Sometimes I wish I had a big, ol’ front porch in a close-knit community where everyone came and shot the breeze. I know, I know. Too many movies like The Jane Austen Book Club, or Fried Green Tomatoes. It’s what some team thought of and put together on celluloid. I get it. Just like the teams that make families in catalogs look just a little too perfect. Just like Photoshop. It’s all an illusion. I don’t think we are better off. Not even close. It’s lonelier. It’s isolating. And I have no idea how to change it, at least for me.

I Need to Look at the Moon

Even though I know, even though I have known for years, even though I still keep coming to the same unavoidable conclusion, sometimes it still comes as a surprise again to realize that I am third of three, that my hopes, desires, dreams, are not just not considered, but not even known. They did not care to ask. They have their presumptions and do not want to know anything of the truth outside their presumptions. This is my life, and in spite of complete understanding, I don’t know that there will ever be for me, absolute peace with it. Most of the time it does not bother me, but every so often, as infrequent as less than once a year, it comes to me again — you’re last to them — and this follows me for a while, even though intellectually and most of the time emotionally I know that it should not.

“When you look at the Moon, you think, ‘I’m really small. What are my problems?’ It sets things into perspective. We should all look at the Moon a bit more often.”  ~ Alain de Botton

Life is Like That

I often think of new little products, waiting patiently in their boxes to be used. They’re so new and orderly. Pick me! Their calmness and order seems to say as they lie there in their box, waiting to be chosen. They have been waiting their entire life for use, and here you are, choosing. Will it be me? Their orderliness seems to ask.

I wonder whether a pantyliner or other hygiene product really wants to be used. They might think it’s what they want, getting out of that box or off that shelf. A new home! But then they come to realize that their use isn’t necessarily something desired. It results in the trash can or the sewer or the landfill.

I suppose a pantyliner or other hygiene product has no idea that being placed in someone’s crotch or in an armpit or between toes is a bad thing. They have no other existence to compare theirs to. Although the pantyliner might. It meets the underwear and thinks, Oh, a friend. A different sort of friend. Then the pantyliner gets covered in goo and is tossed in the trash, and the underwear gets to stay. It’s not fair on some level, but life is like that. You get to be a professor. She gets to be a mother. He gets to be an electrician. Someone is born and starves in Africa. Another is born and is obese in America. We are all on our different journeys. This really is simply how life is.

Pointless Rambling

Gads.  It’s getting to the point where I can hardly stand to read anything about the news anymore.  The level of disconnect of so many citizens in this country is disheartening.  So many people get all their information from one news channel and screaming talk radio.  So many have zero knowledge about the issues they scream about.  They know a few buzzwords, but have no idea what the hell it is they are talking about.  And it seems that the typical response of these ignorant fools when presented with a logical, educated response to their ranting is to diverge off into another unrelated rant.  Seriously disheartening.

On a personal note, too often lately I have writing ideas that do not get written down.  I’m back where I was five or six years ago when I didn’t write things down and would lose so many good ideas.  I do that all the time now.  Back then, I decided to carry around a tablet to write on when I thought of something.  Then I became good at writing every day on the computer (and especially this blog) and the ideas started getting captured. Then I took my life down a path and did not end up at the expected destination and stopped writing as much and the ideas are getting lost again.  I think the notebook is going to have to return to capture some of the ideas.  Disheartening too.

Isabel is lying on my lap asleep.  Milla and I watched a movie tonight called The Private Lives of Pippa Lee.  Sadly, I could identify with Pippa’s feelings of helplessness and despair.  I loved it when she finally realized she was free from the cage of a life she created for herself.  I wonder what is going to be my catalyst.  Is there going to be one or am I stuck here forever because I made decisions I thought were the right ones and they turned out to be not so great?  For years I went through life just kind of taking it as it came.  Then I started living with intention, making decisions with some effort towards control of my destiny and things turned out worse.

Of course, here I am saying that with this daughter on my lap I would not trade for anything ever.  With Milla I knew without question that I did not regret one second of my life up until the moment she was conceived because I would not want anything to have happened that would have led to life without her.  Now I would not trade Isabel for anything, but I have regrets.  I cannot reconcile these two perspectives.  I do not know how I can want Isabel with all my heart, yet know that I hold so many regrets.  Although come to think of it the strongest of my regrets are for after she was conceived.  I could live with the choices up to that minute.  I actually wish I had done things much differently after.  So I suppose the two aren’t so different.  Good to realize.

Today I bought a Kenneth Cole leather computer bag for twenty bucks.  Not bad.  Fits the new computer.  My personal computer is a Macbook and it’s smaller, so the new computer would not fit in the bag.  I was thinking I was going to have to get some ugly thing because I didn’t want to spend much, so this was a nice buy.  I would have liked to find a yellow or orange or pink leather one, but that would have cost a lot more, so this will do.  Black works.  Plus it’s big enough I can carry files in it too.

Well I’ve wasted twenty minutes writing about not much so I’m going to stop and go to bed.  I’m tired.  Good night.

Moral Ambiguities

Do we gain more as individuals if we face our darkest secrets, the parts of us we find so reprehensible, the parts that are truly unforgivable?  Is there something to be improved by this?  If we admit these things, if only to ourselves, do we cower in the face of them or realize and accept they are there and move on?  Can we do both?  What do you do if there is nothing you can do to make what you have done right except to never do anything like it again?

I’m reading this book about a man who prosecuted some of the worst criminals.  He was able to interview many of them as potential witnesses in later cases.  He said many of them were completely depressed, as if they were unable to face their own cruelty.

There are actions a person can take that may not violate any societal laws that are immoral nonetheless.  We may find them so despicable, it is difficult to live with ourselves.  What happens then?  Is there a relief in confession?  Does knowing another human being knows your worst make it somehow better?

I don’t know.  I just don’t know.

Obama and the Palin Effect by Deepak Chopra

I just had to post this here because it is so well written:

Obama and the Palin Effect
by Deepak Chopra
http://www.chopra.com/node/1064

Sometimes politics has the uncanny effect of mirroring the national psyche even when nobody intended to do that. This is perfectly illustrated by the rousing effect that Gov. Sarah Palin had on the Republican convention in Minneapolis this week. On the surface, she outdoes former Vice President Dan Quayle as an unlikely choice, given her negligent parochial expertise in the complex affairs of governing. Her state of Alaska has less than 700,000 residents, which reduces the job of governor to the scale of running one-tenth of New York City. By comparison, Rudy Giuliani is a towering international figure. Palin’s pluck has been admired, and her forthrightness, but her real appeal goes deeper.

She is the reverse of Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his idealism and turning negativity into a cause for pride. In psychological terms the shadow is that part of the psyche that hides out of sight, countering our aspirations, virtue, and vision with qualities we are ashamed to face: anger, fear, revenge, violence, selfishness, and suspicion of “the other.” For millions of Americans, Obama triggers those feelings, but they don’t want to express them. He is calling for us to reach for our higher selves, and frankly, that stirs up hidden reactions of an unsavory kind. (Just to be perfectly clear, I am not making a verbal play out of the fact that Sen. Obama is black. The shadow is a metaphor widely in use before his arrival on the scene.) I recognize that psychological analysis of politics is usually not welcome by the public, but I believe such a perspective can be helpful here to understand Palin’s message. In her acceptance speech Gov. Palin sent a rousing call to those who want to celebrate their resistance to change and a higher vision

Look at what she stands for:
•    Small town values — a nostaligic return to simpler times disguises a denial of America’s global role, a return to petty, small-minded parochialism.
•    Ignorance of world affairs — a repudiation of the need to repair America’s image abroad.
•    Family values — a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don’t need to be needed.
•    Rigid stands on guns and abortion — a scornful repudiation that these issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.
•    Patriotism — the usual fallback in a failed war.
•    “Reform” — an italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn’t fit your ideology.

Palin reinforces the overall message of the reactionary right, which has been in play since 1980, that social justice is liberal-radical, that minorities and immigrants, being different from “us” pure American types, can be ignored, that progressivism takes too much effort and globalism is a foreign threat. The radical right marches under the banners of “I’m all right, Jack,” and “Why change? Everything’s OK as it is.” The irony, of course, is that Gov. Palin is a woman and a reactionary at the same time. She can add mom to apple pie on her resume, while blithely reversing forty years of feminist progress. The irony is superficial; there are millions of women who stand on the side of conservatism, however obviously they are voting against their own good. The Republicans have won multiple national elections by raising shadow issues based on fear, rejection, hostility to change, and narrow-mindedness

Obama’s call for higher ideals in politics can’t be seen in a vacuum. The shadow is real; it was bound to respond. Not just conservatives possess a shadow — we all do. So what comes next is a contest between the two forces of progress and inertia. Will the shadow win again, or has its furtive appeal become exhausted? No one can predict. The best thing about Gov. Palin is that she brought this conflict to light, which makes the upcoming debate honest. It would be a shame to elect another Reagan, whose smiling persona was a stalking horse for the reactionary forces that have brought us to the demoralized state we are in. We deserve to see what we are getting, without disguise.

Are YOU Ready to Be President?

Do you think you can be president of the United States of America?  Should you be president of the United States of America?  Do you have the qualifications necessary to run this country?  Regardless whether you want to be the president, would you like to have a president you see as a person with whom you could share a beer or hang out with?

It seems to me that the desire to hang out or have a beer with the president comes from a desire to view this person as human, as “like us.”  But think about it, how much “like us” should the president really be?  Are any of the people you hang out with ready to be president or should they be?  Are the people in your child’s soccer league ready to run the country?  What about the people in your PTA?  Are the people you have a beer with at the park ready to run the country?  Hell, are the people in your city council, or even your mayor ready to run the entire United States of America?

Just because we could sit and have a conversation with a person does not mean either of us is ready to run one of the most powerful nations on earth.  Think about it.  Faced with the prospect of leading at least two wars, global starvation, natural disasters, increasing environmental concerns, a worldwide mortgage crisis, an economy on the brink of collapse, millions of uninsured and unemployed Americans, and a multitude of other issues, are you or your neighbors ready to run this country?  Could you do it?  Could you fix these problems?

Don’t just ask yourself if the person running for president could drink a beer with you or hang out at your church.  Ask yourself if this person can manage the complex and myriad problems facing this massive nation. Over three hundred million people are citizens of the United States. Three hundred million!  Could you lead three hundred million people?  Perhaps in considering whether someone should be president we should worry less about whether that person is “like us” and start asking if they can do the job, because I highly doubt that most of us could run this country.  I doubt our neighbors could.  I doubt our friends could.  Perhaps after years of experience and training we could do it, but not right now, not today after drinking that beer. Being “like us” does not qualify someone to run this country.  It might make someone more likable.  It might provide us with some link to the enormity of their responsibility to feel that person could be “like us.”  Being “like us” may make us feel in another lifetime at another time we actually could do that job.  Unfortunately it is not enough to determine whether someone could be president of the United States.

Presidents should be super heroes.  Yes, they are human.  Yes, they shit.  But I want someone in charge of the fate of a very large number of people to have superhuman strength and abilities.  Just because this person could have a beer with me is simply not good enough.