1/23/17 – It was all a big joke

I’m still trying to figure out how the Clown in the White House got elected. If Hillary got so many more votes. Even allowing for the weirdnesses of the electoral college, you still have a ton of voters who showed up to vote for this guy.

I’m starting to think that a sizable percentage voted for him because they never believed he would win. The same way they did in the primaries. It was their way of registering disgust with the other candidates (a valid complaint!) and an unwillingness to embrace the status quo, which is what Hillary represented to them. It was a little bit like, “Let’s vote for the lunatic, wouldn’t that be funny, since politics is such a circus anyhow.”

Yes, I know there are devoted Trump fans who really believe he has the right vision for America’s future. But I suspect that represents a much smaller fraction than we know.

How? The reason so many former Obama voters stayed home is the same reason these Trump jokers went to the voting booth — we had been told by the pollsters and pundits that Hillary was going to win. So why bother to vote? Or why not use your vote to give Washington the middle finger?

This is why nobody should ever not vote, and nobody should ever use their vote to make a statement when they’re not dead serious about living with the consequences.

 

1/21/17 – Running the country like a business

OK, so how does this sound?

Every summer, we take bids for all of our schools, K-12 nationwide, from corporations who want to run the schools. Each bidder presents a proposal to the school board, highlight selling points, past successes, etc. The highest bidder pays the school district a flat fee. The fee goes into the state’s general operating funds. The corporation is then responsible for the school’s operations.

In return the corporation is free to market their products to students in whatever way they wish, as long as it is approved by the school board. So for example your kid might attend Apple Elementary or Exxon High School. Children attending Pepsi Cola Middle School will naturally find Pepsi products in their pop machines. Pepsi is free to set up relationships with other vendors to provide food, school supplies, maintenance contracts, etc. Pepsi hires the teachers and is responsible for monitoring and evaluating teacher and student performance.

State officials would work with school boards to set standards and requirements, but the corporations would have to make sure their schools meet those standards. If a corporation is found to be lacking in any way, the school board can fine the corporation.

States would be under no obligation to create uniform standards from one state to the next. So for example a Tyson’s Chicken High School in Montana might be a really excellent school, but the one in Pittsburgh would suck. That’s the state’s problem. If the state wants better schools, it’s their job to pick a better corporation to run it. Tyson’s would certainly want all their schools to have a good reputation, so it would be in their interest to meet or exceed those standards.

The federal government would be out of the education business.

The state’s only role would be to set standards, take bids, award contracts, and monitor the corporation’s performance. Formal performance evaluations would take place twice a year. The corporation would be given a grade; if necessary performance improvement plans put into action to bring up sagging performance. Corporations would be fined and put on probation after failing grades; in time they would be either dismissed or their contract would not be renewed in the spring.

The advantage to corporations would be that they get to lock in customers for their products from the earliest possible opportunities. A kid who grows up eating Tyson Chicken products will tend to remain a customer in later life.

Your kid would play football for the Intel Raiders or the Samsung Pirates. There would be no need for bake sales or other fundraisers; if a school needs a new computer lab, the corporation would have to pay for it.

What could go wrong?

1/15/17.2 – We participate in the delusion that we are powerless

All we really have to do is make the leap to electric cars. Fuck the hybrids. We’ve had plenty of time to get used to the idea. We knew this was what we needed to do 20 years ago. Like the NFL covering up the concussion thing for all those years, we are in denial. We are acting like toddlers, trying to negotiate our way out of bedtime. It’s time to grow up.

And it’s time to stop waiting for leadership from our so-called leaders. It’s evident Congress is nothing more than a flock of corporate lackeys, most of them, and they’ll NEVER have the balls necessary to make this happen.

So we have to do it ourselves. If we stop buying their stupid gas-based cars, they’ll have to stop making them. We are the ones in charge here, really.

1/15/17 – The other way

For the last ten years or so, I have been learning about a philosophical system called nonduality. It’s been interesting watching how nonduality has worked for me in these last few months, in this bizarre situation where nothing has changed (yet) on the outside but everything is in major turmoil on the inside.

Nonduality points out that we can only ever live in the present moment that exists right now, so we can stop with all the story-making about the past or fears about the future. The past is just a thought, a memory, a story. And fear, I think, is so often about the future, and again is only a thought. So you can stop giving so much bandwidth to past and future.

I think about this a lot these days. It’s really easy to get swept up in fear. It seems a reflex, to imagine what the future will be like once Trump and his minions are in place. The Cabinet of Horrors and our Red Congress are already hard at work destroying the country. There’s plenty to fear.

But fear works against you, paralyzes you, robs you of your energies, destroys your equanimity, and causes great suffering. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. (Thanks for that, Frank Herbert.)

So I grapple with my fear. I don’t want to be a slave to my fears.

At the same time, nonduality points out that most suffering (if not all) is a result of trying to escape what’s happening right now. Resisting what is. Nonduality encourages us to examine what’s happening right now, ask ourselves about the nature of this thing, where it comes from, where it’s going, why it’s here. Nonduality talks a lot about self-enquiry.

So when you feel bad, rather than instantly reacting to squash the bad thing, we can try to open ourselves to it, to lay down our defenses and be exactly what we are at that moment. Allow the experience to envelope us, and learn from it.

For example, when you are sitting in the middle seat of an airplane, squished, hot, uncomfortable — you feel all of that and experience it. Just be there. Be miserable. This is what it is right now.

So you walk the thin line, tip-toe between resistance and openness. Seeing the toll your fear takes on you, wanting to end suffering, yet also wanting to be in the moment, when the moment sucks.

And now here we are, in the clutches of maniacs determined to wreck the country. They were the majority (sort of) so they won. Absolutely, we resist, we protest, we ridicule, we find a way to obstruct or oppose. I’m not talking about actions. The actions needed are self evident; there is no conflict there.

I’m talking about inside. Feelings, attitudes. I want to see my fear and hear it, but I don’t want it to control me. I have to negotiate a truce of sorts with my fear, and find a way to feel what I feel without resistance to what it — and yet protect my mental health and fend off hopelessness and despair.

I’m not saying those fears are stupid or wrong or even bad. But I can look at them, the same way I stand back and examine a thought. I can see how the fear arises and how it feels when I’m in its grip. I can see how I react to those feelings.

##

Here is the dialogue in my head:

MIND: You’re being so melodramatic! Come on, it won’t be that bad! Nothing is ever as bad as we think it’s going to be. Look at Y2K.

ME: Yeah, look at those Nazi concentration camps. Sometimes things are much worse than you think it’s going to be.

MIND: Can’t you talk about this without invoking Hitler? Weak.

ME: OK, Rwanda, Pol Pot, Myanmar, North Korea, Bosnia, Darfur, you want me to go on? Because there are plenty of places where a delicate balance got unbalanced and some dominoes fell and people died. Happens all the time.

MIND: Well, it really doesn’t matter how you feel about it. This is what’s happening and nothing you do or say is going to make a difference, so why torture yourself thinking about it all the time?

ME:  There are people who eat the Earth and people who stand around and watch them do it. (Thank you Lillian Hellman.) I can’t be a bystander.

MIND: What exactly can you do about any of this? Protest? Make a few phone calls? You’re nobody.

ME: Fuck you, I’m somebody. I’m trying to figure that out.

 

1/11/17 – Being here now

“Just keeping your shit together is like 80% of living right now.”

Someone posted that on Twitter a while ago. I am glad I’m not the only one feeling like that. I’m failing miserably at equanimity. On the other hand, I haven’t run screaming through the streets yet.

I am quite sure several of my friends are ready to un-follow me on FB. I can’t help it; it’s a compulsion. I read these horrific articles and feel I must share them. Some days I post one after another. It’s like sticking your finger into an electric outlet over and over. Does it matter? Does it help? I don’t know. Maybe it makes it all worse.

I take back everything I said in an earlier post of Dec. 7, wherein I said I could see how it might be good to get an outside perspective in some of these cabinet posts. By now it has become clear that Trump intends to destroy most of these government agencies and offices. He’s getting plenty of help. Congress is proving that all my worst fears were not drastic enough.

 

12/28/16 – Supernannies for Congress

http://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2016-12-27/paul-ryan-proposes-ban-on-live-streaming-from-house-floor

Really, we’ve got this whole thing backwards. Those people are not our leaders. They are our servants. They work for us. We pay their wages. We hired them and we can fire them anytime we want. They answer to us.

So we let them operate pretty freely without our interference most of the time, and after a while we forget we’re the ones they answer to. We are.

So every single one of those people is there because we sent them there to act on our behalf.

Why should they want to hide anything from us? Only if they are doing things they don’t want us to know about. Why would that be?

I can’t think of any good reason for a rule like this. It’s a tacit admission they’ll be doing something they want to hide. Their job is to not hide anything they do.

Maybe we citizens need to set up a committee of overseers to monitor the activities of each of our government representatives to make sure they are actually doing their job and not doing stuff we don’t want them to do. Like a baby monitor on their ankle.