the problem with now

I hate it when I’m right.

Way back in 2005, before anyone thought we’d elect an African American to the highest office in the land, folks were convinced that Hillary Rodham Clinton would the forty-fourth president. And I said then, in a glib, off-hand post, that that was a terrible idea.

The reason I thought Hillary Clinton in 2008 was a terrible idea was not because I have anything against the woman. I’m fairly ambivalent about her as a politician, truth be told. The reason I thought it was a terrible idea was actually because I have a fair amount of respect for her. I knew that whoever got elected in 2008 would be inheriting a political and economic mess of gargantuan proportions. I was short on specifics in that post, but I talked about the economic mess, about two wars, about global crises, and, most importantly, how the spin doctors and talking heads in the media are so wrapped up in the Now that they have no sense of history or causality. Americans in general are so consumed with the present that they blithely ignore how it is that we got into this mess in the first place, and they seem to want to pin all their hopes, all their fears, all their blame on whomever happens to be sitting in the Oval Office regardless of who’s fault this disaster actually is.

my awkward summary post

I’d like to switch gears here for a moment, away from all that sardonic snark of earlier this afternoon. (I’m not sure if sardonic is the right word, here. Sure it was mocking, but not really grim. Oh well. Let’s let it ride.) The Bottom of Heaven, one of my favorites, routinely posts short summaries of random media or links. I like this idea. It seems to me a good way to deal with something I struggle with; namely, how do I share information with my readers without resorting to the restrictions of 140 characters which, it seems to me, often get lost or go unnoticed?

So, without further ado or explanation, I’d like to draw your attention to the following…

adrift on a post-modern sea of relativity and uncertainty

I just wrote, and deleted an exceptionally long and self-reflective post about, among other things, my lack of critical posts over the past few months and a central question of mine of late: why the hell am I blogging?

Then I got up, went to get some coffee, and, having returned to the computer, realized that that post was really the kind of thing I should have written for a private journal, were I the kind of person who still kept a private journal. (This may be a subconscious plug that I should start keeping a journal again like I did when I was younger.) And I’m guessing that no one wants to read that. Or, maybe more likely, that I don’t know if I want to share that much with you.

Nevertheless, there were a couple of things in that post that I think are worth putting out there. But they come with the following disclaimer. In my now deleted post, I wrote at length about how I don’t know anything. About how I’ve come to see the world not in terms of absolutes, of rights and wrongs, but instead as a series of complex and nuanced issues that have no right or wrong answer, and that at the end of the day we’re going to have to live with uncertainty, we’re going to have to live with inadequate, crappy answers that make one or two people, if not happy, at least less irritable, and leave the rest of us more or less in a bummed out state of resignation. A state of, “Well, I guess that’s just how it is. And how it is sort of sucks.”


I’m exiling myself from the Internets until further notice while I take care of some very pressing matters out here in that funny place called “the real world.” Perhaps you’ve heard of it? It’s beautiful.

In the mean time, read this surprisingly pertinent article. Or watch Pres. Obama indoctrinate his socialist agenda to schoolchildren. (If socialism is all about staying in school and working hard to make a better life for you and your family — sign. me. up.)

But, above all, be good to each other. Don’t forget that precept about refraining from false and malicious speech.

socialism and racism

One of my favorite moments from last year’s presidential campaign was when Former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama. Not because I particularly cared who Mr. Powell thought we should vote for, and not because I agree with the man or thought his endorsement, that late in the game, was really going to change anything. What I liked about that moment was what he had to say about the Tin-Foil Hat Brigade’s claims that Mr. Obama was a Muslim. To which Mr. Powell said, “So what?” “Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?”

And I’ve been having the same reaction lately in this health care debate as the Tin-Foil Hat Brigade marches to town halls to scream about Pres. Obama being a socialist. I had that same reaction, thinking to myself, if Pres. Obama’s “socialism” is little more than the type of health care enjoyed by most of Northern Europe and Canada, who cares?

compassionate health care

Ethan Nichtern wrote a compelling, thoughtful, and all-around lovely post over on the Huffington Post about the current health care debate, Whole Foods, and (as is his m.o.) interdependence. It reminded me of some political commentator I read in the paper the other week. (Can’t recall now where or who; you’ll just have to take my word for it.) He mentioned that one of the reasons that the Democrats and Pres. Obama may be loosing the fight over health care is that they’re not telling people “what’s in it for them”; that people are worried about losing coverage they already have and can’t see what benefit they have in covering the millions of uninsured people in this country.

I don’t know the merits of this claim. That is, I don’t know if that’s really true or not, that health care reform is going to fail because of the “message” of the DNC and its spin doctors. It seems pretty obvious to me that if health care fails it will be because the Tin Foil Hat Brigade was loud enough to scare anyone in Congress who might have stood their ground into giving up on the whole thing, as if those in the Tin Foil Hat Brigade are the only ones whose votes matter. But that’s beside the point.

still rabble rousing after all these years

I read an interesting opinion piece in the paper this morning about Supreme Court-nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s supposedly racist comments. The issue of race comes up not infrequently in the continuing, and to some belabored, conversation about Asian-American Western Buddhists and non-Asian-American Western Buddhists. It came up over the weekend thanks to the Angry Asian Buddhist, and in the comments thread you can see a number of folks suggest that it’s time to move the hell on from this conversation.

I’m not letting it go. I’m not letting it go for the following reason: ignoring this conversation or wishing it away is actually dangerous to the future of the Buddha Dharma in these United States.

work to be done

Despite the fact that something have changed — and will continue to change, some things haven’t changed a bit. And I know damn well that there are still fights to be fought, battles to be won. Or, to use less militant rhetoric, there are things we need to teach one another, lessons to be learned, hearts to be opened, minds to be changed.