The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Month: July 2019 Page 1 of 3

A Rainbow Reading Out of Pete Buttigieg

Hi. I’m the blogger/artist formerly known as Pachacutec. If you are old enough to remember me as a lefty blogger, you’ve been on this internet thing too long. But I digress.

My friend Ian saw me tweet something, and he asked me if I wanted to do a piece about it. Sure, why not? But I’m going to adopt a prose style that is quick and to the point, with a bit of punch, as an homage to my longtime friend Ian.

I tweeted in response to Congressman Patrick Murphy as he endorsed Peter Buttigieg for Congress. I’m sorry did I say Congress? That’s what mayors usually do, but this guy is running for president. Alrighty then.

Let’s start with Patrick Murphy. My other longtime friend (and gay hero in his own right), Howie Klein, once described Murphy as:

“the perfect Chuck Schumer recruit– a slimy Schumercrat as corrupt as they come. Yesterday we looked at how he’s been selling his vote for campaign cash in regard to EB-5 visas, something I thought only real low-life Republicans did. Oh… that’s right; Murphy is a lifelong low-life Republican and just switched his party registration to get into Congress (where he votes with the GOP anyway).”

From that perspective, the endorsement of Mayor Pete makes perfect sense. But Mayor Pete is getting a fair amount of recognition for being a gay candidate. People who know me know me know that I’m a big old homo. And now with my tiara firmly in place, I’m here to call out Mayor Pete.

Okay, I don’t actually wear a tiara. I’m actually very much like Pete in my gay origins, in that I am a light-skinned person, presumed to be white (though I’m half Latino) with a good education, cis gendered, and a beneficiary of all the presumptions of competence and intelligence that accrue to light-skinned, well-educated men who are not effeminate in their conduct or manner.

Like Mayor Pete, I came out later in life, in my young 30s. That was a pretty traumatic time for me, actually. I made a fair mess of my life, and we won’t get into all that. But as Ian’s readers know, it’s what you do with your suffering that makes or breaks you. If you dive into it and learn from it, with the right support and process, you can turn it into your superpower.

Or you can become a preening, pompous, head-up-his-ass climber who cashes the cultural, social and political checks earned for work done by all the very homos, queers, transgender men and women, and people of color that you personally avoid engaging at all costs.

Everyone in the gay community knows these people. These are the white boys who stand and model, painfully preppy, in bars filled with other white boys, with a few token “ethnics” like black, Asian, or Latino men sprinkled in to provide a little variety, a little sexy “grit” and fetish fodder. Their Grindr profiles say things like “No offense, but I prefer white guys,” or “no fats or fems.”

These are cis gay white boys who might stay for the drag show and enjoy the bawdy jokes, but who feel painfully uncomfortable around effeminate men. As in my tweet, they don’t even see women, non-binary gender rebels, or black folk. Mayor Pete’s relationships with black folk in South Bend are a joke. Gay guys like Mayor Pete never go into a bar if the person of color ratio gets too high–say, higher than 15 percent, unless, for example, they really have a thing for Latin guys and it’s salsa night at the club. Some of these guys really fetishize some groups, be they Asians, black men, or Latinos. It gets very creepy.

I don’t want to belabor the point. This guy has no claim to stand for gay politics when he is precisely the kind of guy who wouldn’t have been caught dead anywhere near the Stonewall Inn, and lacks the self-awareness to know it or understand why. I personally know the type, because, in the beginning of my coming out journey, I had to overcome the legacy of cultural biases, blind spots, and presumptions of privilege (I know Ian hates that word, sorry) that would have made me into one of those guys.

For some people, the experience of coming out, and the experience of being marginalized or oppressed in some fashion, leads to expanded empathy and curiosity for others who are downtrodden or outcast. That’s clearly not Mayor Pete. Pete fundamentally believes in his inherent superiority, and subsequently wants to have it both ways: He wants people to overlook his gayness because he’s not that gay, and then he wants credit for being some kind of LGBTQ pioneer. But whether you look at his policies, his politics, or his presence in a room with real people, he is what he is: A conservative, wannabe frat boy who happens to be gay. No wonder Patrick Murphy loves this guy.

Hard pass. If you want more specifically on Pete from the great Howie Klein, I’ve got you covered.


Thank God I Was Born Before Cellphones

Parents, your child’s specific location and current activity should be none of your goddamn business. (Yeah, I know this one will get love.)

When I was young, I walked the streets of downtown Vancouver at age 6. I took the bus on my own to the YMCA. After class there, I wandered around downtown before going home. As a teenager, I walked through Calcutta’s slums alone.

My parents knew where I was in very general terms, and I was expected to show up for meals and bedtime. Other than that, I did what I wanted outside of school.

Modern parents seem to have this idea that children are incapable of taking care of themselves. This may be true, if they are never given any freedom or the right to make their own decisions, but it’s not true otherwise.

So what I see is that modern adults get to 18 and suddenly the supervision stops and guess what? A lot of them are incapable.

The conversation around adulting is absurd. “Adulting” is simply the removal of close support and supervision. More of life is now up to you. (Minus, of course, your boss, who also has far more control over you than a boss did 40 years ago.)

This isn’t to say that taking care of oneself is necessarily easy. It’s harder now, in many countries (and especially in the US) than it was two generations back, because jobs are shittier, inequality is up and the social safety net has been reduced. No question, it’s harder. But it’s not harder than it was, say, in the 30s.

We are what we do. We become what we do. Children who are subject to constant monitoring, who cannot make their own decisions about what to do, who cannot be free, never learn to be free. When they are suddenly given the partial freedom we grant after high school, is it a surprise they don’t know how to “adult?”

Nor are children possessions. They are people. They deserve a reasonable amount of freedom, an amount that is far more than we currently grant in the US and Canada. The idea that they are incapable is ridiculous, for most of history, children (and certainly teenagers) had many of the same responsibilities as adults far younger than we now allow.

Yeah, it’s good we don’t have actual child (pre-pubescent) labor. It’s not good that we keep them firmly under thumb.

(And yeah, it’s not about danger. The danger is miniscule, and such danger as exists is almost all from family and other known adults, not from strangers.)

Children treated like they can’t make choices and can’t handle freedom will not learn how to make good choices or handle freedom.

The results of the work I do, like this article, are free, but food isn’t, so if you value my work, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.

Meditation for the Original Sin of Identification

Humans are bundles of identification. We identify with simple things: our emotions, feelings in our bodies, thoughts. We identify with the patterns of those things, and call them “personality” and assume that we are our personality.

We identify more grandly. Perhaps we are a Muslim, and someone burns a Koran and we get upset. A person like us is hurt, and we are angry or sad.

Perhaps we identify with ideological positions. We believe in God, and someone says God doesn’t exist, and we are upset. Or, perhaps we believe there is no God, it’s impossible, ridiculous, and stupid, and when someone says there is a God, we get upset. (And yeah, I’ve seen this many times with more hardcore atheists.)

We want to use a group as slaves, on the other hand, so we decide they aren’t human. If they aren’t human, but sub-human, we won’t feel bad when they’re hurt. (Lack of pain from someone being hurt with whom you don’t identify is something that shows up, or rather, doesn’t, on brain scans.)

A terrorist attack happens in London, and Westerners are upset, but one happens in Baghdad, and we don’t care.

It’s all degrees of identification. From that which is close to us – from our daily sense objects of feeling, emotion, and thought in the body, to people living thousands of miles away or even ideas and ideologies.

One of the primary tasks for cultivating any spirituality worth the name is learning how to deal with this confusion. Generally, there’s two ways of doing it: Either you’re all of it, equally, or you’re none of it.

If you don’t identify, you suffer less. It’s that simple. If you have a bad thought but don’t think of it as “yours,” it bothers you less–if at all. Even pain is reduced if you don’t think of it as yours.

This is one reason why a major milestone on the path, in almost all traditions, is the realization “I’m not the body.”

But the key point is this: Less identification is less suffering. And, oddly, it doesn’t reduce the good things in life. It improves them. This has been my experience, and it’s the experience of advanced meditators I’ve talked to as well.

All right, all the introductory verbiage aside, here’s a simple exercise.

Find a sense object: It could be a thought, an emotion, or a feeling. (Nothing exists in consciousness except sense objects.)

Ask yourself this question:”If this was not here, would I still be me?”

Answer it.

Move on to another sense object.

And that’s the entire exercise. Do this over, and over, and over again.

Yeah, that’s probably going to be boring. That’s the thing about meditation, despite all the blather about bliss (which does happen sometimes) a lot of it is boring. What you’re doing is a directed inquiry into your actual existence and reprogramming what might be termed your subconscious. That takes repetition, repetition, and repetition, until suddenly something clicks, and a new way of existing takes place.

The difficulty of meditation is only in doing it right, and then doing enough of it.

Give this one a try if you’re so inclined, see what  you find out. Do enough of it, and see what changes.

Disclaimer: There are two particular psychological dangers to meditation: de-realization and de-personalization. These are dangers because the core insights of meditative traditions amount to “I am not what I thought I was.” This particular type of insight meditation aims directly at such a realization, and it can cause psychological problems if it goes askew, or in people who are already prone to these issues. If you have reason to think that might be you, you shouldn’t be doing this meditation.

The results of the work I do, like this article, are free, but food isn’t, so if you value my work, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – July 28, 2019

by Tony Wikrent

Strategic Political Economy

These journalists exposed the corruption that led to Puerto Rico’s mass protests
[CNN, via Naked Capitalism 7-24-19]

The World’s Biggest Lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, will force US government to stop climate change
Lambert Strether, July 25, 2019 [Naked Capitalism]

Juliana v. United States is a big and complicated case that has now advanced through two administrations. The original complaint was filed in September 2015; Judge Ann Aiken of Oregon district court rejected the government’s motion to dismiss the case in November 2016…. The American Bar Association, in “Can Our Children Trust Us with Their Future?,” describes the scale of the case and the stakes:

The 2016 ruling in Kelsey Cascadia Rose Juliana v. USA is one of the greatest recent events in our system of law. (See Opinion and Order, Case No. 6:15-cv-01517-TC, US District Court for Oregon, Eugene Division. Anne Aiken, Judge, filed 11/10/16.) A group of children between the ages of eight and nineteen filed suit against the federal government, asking the court to order the government to act on climate change, asserting harm from carbon emissions. The federal government’s motion to dismiss was denied. Although I am not involved in the case, I am a lifelong environmentalist, and I teach environmental law (to non-law students). This case is a shining example of what law can be. This case gives me hope that we will not continue to cooperate in our own destruction, and future generations will be able to rely on us to uphold the spirit of the law and purpose behind government….

So Juliana v. United States is a lawsuit that’s being sponsored and facilitated by Our Children’s Trust, which is a nonprofit organization in Eugene, Oregon, that’s been working on atmospheric climate litigation to try to deal with the climate crisis for a while. So our lawsuit was filed in August of 2015, with 21 plaintiffs from all over the country that each have their own complaint, as part of a large declaration that gives a standing to sue the U.S. Federal Government. And basically, we’re asserting that the U.S. Federal Government has known since 1960 that climate change could be potentially disastrous. We have proof from administrations going back all the way to the Johnson administration, saying that they knew climate change could be an issue and they knew that fossil fuel infrastructure was causing it. And the U.S Federal Government still chose to take direct action to continue to perpetuate the fossil fuel industry and the U.S. fossil fuel economy that we have.

And we’re asserting that by taking that direct action, they’ve disproportionately put the rights of young people at risk, and the rights of life liberty and property as promised to us in the Constitution….

From The New Yorker, in “The Right to a Stable Climate Is the Constitutional Question of the Twenty-first Century“:

Open Thread

Use this thread for discussions that are off topic to recent posts.

Republican Daddies and Democratic Mummies

Robert Mueller

So, Mueller, the Savior, the Chosen One, He Who Was Going to Take Down Trump, has testified, and it’s a big, flat, flop.

As before, he won’t clearly say anything. It’s all dancing. Yes, you can read between the lines and get what he’s saying, but he won’t be straight and give lines on which to hang a prosecution.

Mueller, of course, is Republican.

Democrats go crawling to a Republican to save them, and then he doesn’t. This is a surprise?

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi, who as Majority Leader in 07-08 refused to use her power against Bush in any meaningful way, also refuses to impeach Trump.

Of course, Trump has been impeachable since day one on emoluments charges. He’s clearly in violation, there is no defense.

It’s almost certain the Senate wouldn’t convict him, but impeachment hearings would let the Democrats control the news cycle for months, and drag every piece of corruption out into the daylight.

It would help, of course, if Pelosi was willing to use inherent contempt to force testimony from reluctant witnesses.

Pelosi is party leader because she fundraises and gives to other Democrats. She is personally rich, as with essentially all political leaders in the United States. The country is being run more or less how she wants it run. She’s done fine, her family has done fine, her friends have done fine.

She pushes through some stuff on the margins to help, but will never push to change anything fundamental or really rock the boat.

That’s who she is, and anyone who denies it is has their head up their ass, or perhaps up hers.

The Republican daddy won’t save you (why did Obama put a Republican in charge of Defense?). The Democratic Mummy’s job is to keep you pacified while her class get richer and richer.

Those are the simple truths. If you support Pelosi, and you aren’t doing really well, you’re a fool. As for Mueller, he was never going to save anyone, and he gives no appearance of particularly wanting to do so.

If they wanted to use it, the Democrats have the power of inherent contempt (and can use the DC jails if they choose–DC is under Congress’s control).

They refuse to even do that, let alone impeach.

This is because they don’t, actually, want to. Why would they? They’re doing fine, and if some of their supporters aren’t, well, a sucker is born every second.

The results of the work I do, like this article, are free, but food isn’t, so if you value my work, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.

Who Bans or Encourages Crypto?

Iran, apparently, intends to legalize crypto.

India intends to ban it.

Iran needs a way to get money and resources in and out of the country, because it is under sanctions.

India has had a huge war on cash, ostensibly to crack down on corruption. (Well, partially that, but partially to give corporations a cut of every transaction.)

It’s fairly clear who is doing what, why.

Also, anyone who cracks down against cash is anti-freedom. This includes our otherwise decent Nordic brothers. Crypto isn’t actually a freedom technology, by the very nature of the ledger (tracking every transaction). It’s more naturally a totalitarian technology, we just haven’t caught up to the fact (just as drones are a weapon of the weak).

The results of the work I do, like this article, are free, but food isn’t, so if you value my work, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.

Is Turkey Going to Exit NATO?

Turkey has NATO’s second largest army.

Turkey recently bought Russian s-400 air and missile defense systems. The US had warned that if Turkey did so, it would not be able to have F-35 fighters. Of course, part of this is that Turkish companies producing parts also lost those contracts. The companies will be compensated by helping produce the s-400.

No big deal. The F-35, if not the biggest, errrr, turkey in US defense appropriation history, is certainly part of the pantheon. I wish Canada hadn’t bought them. It’s just a pork operation, and a lot of arm-twisting and bribes were required to make anyone buy them.

But as Buchanan points out:

Under U.S. law, the administration is also required to impose sanctions on Turkey for buying Russian weaponry…

..US hawks are already calling for the expulsion of Turkey from NATO. And the withdrawal of American forces and nuclear weapons from the Incirlik air base in Turkey in retaliation is not out of the question.

I cannot imagine Erdogan’s response to US sanctions–that alone would stand a good chance of ending Turkey’s NATO membership.

But context is important here. Turkey has increasingly been swinging into the anti-Saudi alliance, with Iran and Qatar. Turkey made sure to get Qatar supplies, and Qatar and Iran also became close.

Meanwhile, there is the China factor: An important chunk of China’s Belt and Road Initiative needs to go through Turkey.

More context. For decades, the Turks, under the old secular government, effectively on their knees, begged the Europeans to let them join the EU. The Europeans dragged their feet, and dragged their feet, and dragged their feet.

The secular Turks saw themselves as part of Europe. Europe didn’t want them. Eventually, the Young Turks, having failed because Europe made them fail, turned to a populist Islamist government.

Membership in NATO was part of Turkey saying: “We are one of you.”

Now that Turkey knows it isn’t part of Europe, and knows that Europe would never let it be part of Europe (the same lesson Russia learned after Communism’s collapse, and, oh, did they want to be Westerners, and oh, did we fuck them over), it is moving to a different world with different economic and military ties.

You can only spurn someone for so long.

If the West wanted a secular Turkey which was a solid ally, it needed to make the economy part of the equation work for Turkey, and it needed to let Turkey in. Instead, over and over, it made it clear that Turks weren’t really Westerners.

Erdogan, and now this turn to the East, are the results of Western policy and prejudice. The Turks gave us many many decades to welcome them to the family.

Having failed to do so, we can hardly complain now.

The results of the work I do, like this article, are free, but food isn’t, so if you value my work, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.

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