noted in passing

tap tap. Is this thing on?

Test of posting to Google+ from my own site.

If I posted here as much as I do on G+ I might have an audience.



Barack Obama as the last President of the United States?

With his own claims to originalism fading fast, Scalia suggests liberal judicial activism, practiced by some of colleagues on the Court, is part of what brought about the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. The speech was an address to the Utah State Bar Association.

[From Peak Scalia | TPM Editors Blog]

I wonder if this isn’t the wrong comparison to make, though I’m not looking through the lens of judicial activism.

Consider Barack Obama:
• as the inheritor of a lot of policies and mechanisms he claims to oppose (like domestic surveillance or inequality): whether or not he does and what he could actually do about it is another discussion
• with his non-aggressive (not to say passive) disposition (see above, what he could do about it vs someone more confrontational)
• his political disadvantages (minority in the House, bizarre anti-productive rules in the Senate, passive to oppositional big media)
• huge military expenditures, including politicized defense expenditures for weapons that will never be used (we’re buying tanks? Why? Do we need a navy larger than the next several nations’ fleets combined? And why the F-35, other than contracts and jobs it represents?)
• a massive state surveillance operation of which we have no idea the real cost, and the yet to be weighed divisive social effects
• and the current economic morass with consolidation of power and wealth in every industry and the resulting inequality.

Who do you think of as a 20th Century political figure, given that description?

The name Mikhail Gorbachev ring a bell? He rose to power just as the wheels were coming off the wagon and there wasn’t a lot he could do about it. He inherited a state that had been hollowed out by ideology-driven economic policies and ruinous military spending. He ended presiding over the dissolution of an empire, as Russia became independent of the USSR along with other nations that had been “unified” into the old USSR — Ukraine, Belarus, the central Asian states, etc.

There’s a lot of muttering about secession or breaking the country up, letting intransigent states or regions go their own way, but there’s an assumption of choice to those arguments, of a new CSA breaking away. But what if as a precursor to or result of that happening, the federal government was rendered powerless, through budgetary hijinks or other political stunts (maybe congress members from the intransigent states refuse to return to DC or some other personal veto)?

Crazy? Possibly. Unbelievable? I’m not so sure. I continually find myself thinking on that memo from Buchanan to Nixon on the “bigger half” [1][2] and am reminded there are people — a lot of people — who would break the country up rather than see it accommodate ideas or people they oppose. That and referring to Frank Herbert’s Dune as a political text: “He who can destroy a thing, controls a thing.” This has been the SOP of the Republican congress since the Gingrich era, though he was more loyal to the idea of a continuing United States than many of his successors.




next steps

Following up on this post I realize I have a very serious problem: the lack of self-esteem or value makes it hard to sell yourself or your ideas. If your underlying belief system is that everything you say or do is of no consequence, it makes it hard to get through the interview process, assuming you can even get one.

If you don’t believe you deserve it, you won’t get it.

The best advice I could have given myself, had I realized it, is that relying on jobs that other people create and define is never going to work for me. Temperamentally and physically/biologically I’m better off doing my own thing. But then there it is: how do you sell whatever it is you’re doing or making if you don’t believe it’s any good? And how could it be good, if you made it?

Imagine how you would manage this if you were faced with having to find a whole new life for yourself in less than a month due to a failed domestic situation? If you’re a reasonably normal person, well-adjusted and comfortable with yourself, this may not be a big deal. You have friends or other resources.

But that’s not my situation. Thirteen years I have lived here and I have no network to draw on and not much in the way of local knowledge to use to navigate a new course. It’s going to be a rough stretch.


Something I learned today

It’s taken me about 40 years to fully (?) process this.

“J.T” is a simple, hour-long story of a young boy living in a New York ghetto, but it tackles some weighty issues.

[From J.T. Reviews & Ratings – IMDb]

I saw this movie right after it came out, so around 1970. The “weighty issues” it deals with are racism and poverty in mid 20th Century America but an 8 year old English boy living in Canada didn’t get any of that. You have to read a few more of the reviews to learn what I saw. And from what I can tell, I never saw the end of the movie, as you’ll see.

I saw it with my mother, in the front room of our house, and for some reason, I remember it as a summer afternoon, with long shadows everywhere. The storyline of the movie I remember was that a poor black kid finds a cat in an abandoned building and it becomes the center of his universe, something for him to love and care for, to look forward to being with. But some older boys who have nothing to love or care about find him sneaking into this old building and they catch him in the act of caring, of loving. They take the cat from him and play “keep away,” teasing and taunting, until one of them runs out to the street and slips, sending the cat into traffic where it is killed by a car, right in front of the young hero.

At this point, I burst into tears. All I saw was a small boy — like myself — who lost something precious due to the cruelty of others, out of the simple meanness and unempathetic jealousy of those who don’t know how to love.

My mother laughed at me for crying. She laughed at a child for expressing a natural emotion. She didn’t do it to minimize the effects or soften the blow. She offered no comfort, no compassion. She was no different from the boys on the screen, who hate to see anyone or anything receive love.

And that response to my openness, my willingness to openly feel, made me close up and hide that part of myself from the world. It made me fear rejection to the point where almost every decision I have made since then has been to avoid it. And to avoid rejection is to avoid life. It means not trying things, not risking exposure to the hurt that comes from being rejected.

My mother and I, if we were ever close, weren’t after that. Soon I was on my way to a new life in a new family in a new country south of the border, but that scabbed-over hurt stayed with me for years, many, many years. I expect the other changes only made me keep that of myself wrapped up tight.

It was only in the past 2-3 years I would allow myself to openly express that kind of feeling, to let the tears flow. And only rarely and at home.

I saw my mother twice after that before she died in 2003, a span of 33 years, and neither experience was positive. No, we weren’t close. There’s more but it’s not relevant here.

I didn’t realize until today that there was more of the movie after that scene, so badly was I hurt at the time. I never saw it or remembered it, I guess. I knew there was something about that moment, frozen in my mind, but I never quite realized what it was, what it all meant.

This has been coming clearer the past few weeks, the realization that I have shut myself off from far too many experiences and opportunities but not understanding why.

People think saying “no” doesn’t cost anything. It does. It can cost you everything.

It’s been a cathartic day. Just recounting the story brings more than a tear to my eyes. When I put it all together this morning, I was in pretty bad shape. And I expect the next few days will be up and down as I come to grips with the understanding of what happened and what I can do now.

I’ve always wondered why Philip Larkin’s “This Be the Verse” resonated with me. What he describes is not unique to my experience but now that first line is going to stay with me, at least as far as an apt description of one of my parents. It’s never been far from my mind…maybe now I understand why.

Following up here.