Archive for the 'politics' Category

Letter to Dad

February 26, 2016

I was talking yesterday to someone who turns out to be quite a Harry Truman fan.  He has also helped me deal with things having to do with my father, without ever having met him.  So I told him about my father’s letter from Harry Truman, which was a reply to a letter my father had sent him.  My dad was a fan of Truman’s, too.  I told the person I would dig out the letter and send them a scan of it later in the day.  Which I did.  (I included the envelope, since the letter does not include a greeting.)  I think they liked it.

I thought I’d post it here, too.

KM Truman letter

I also sent this person an image of a work photo of my dad, from probably the 1960s, for which credit goes to Flight Control, The Bendix Corporation, Eclipse-Pioneer Division, Teterboro, New Jersey.  I thought I’d post that here, as well:

 

Kurt Moses

When this person expressed their delight with the letter, I told them how glad I was to have found a truly interested audience for the letter.  And it’s true, I got a big charge out of connecting this person who really appreciated the item with this thing that was so important to my father.  I also hoped it would sort of flesh out their understanding of my dad.  Perhaps in that vein, their reaction to the photo was to note the family resemblance between my dad and me.  I am aware of it myself, of course, but it was interesting to be reminded that it is noticeable to others.  That resemblance is something to reflect on in maybe a different way now that my dad is gone — maybe from this vantage point, I can see the connection in a fresh light.

 

 

Messiness

January 24, 2015

The snow is falling, my mother is on GIP care with daily hospice attention, and I was counseled yesterday not to sweat whether I can be there at all the significant moments.  I was there, at the nursing center, for hours yesterday, as my mother’s condition shifted and a cast of thousands (or so it seemed) made adjustments and provided care and support.  Seems my challenge at the moment is to sit tight.

So I figured a blog post on trying to find a balance between messiness and sterility in life might be a helpful distraction.

I wrote recently in news comments online that I am disappointed in President Obama’s current mode of combative policy proposals.  I also wrote about the deflated footballs controversy.  I questioned why teams get to provide their own balls and pointed out that all balls could be provided from a neutral source, as they are for kicking plays already.

And then I thought about what I am saying.  And I think it comes down to taking seriously — maybe too seriously — people’s complaining about unpleasant outcomes in the implementation of a system.  The systems could probably be improved and the problems reduced, but I guess I am wondering whether most of the participants in the system actually prefer a messy system in which people get harmed from time to time, to a more sterile system in which there is less harm but less excitement.  I don’t know, but I remember a tag line a Roman history professor used to use about the aspects of Roman culture we in our culture tend to airbrush away or ignore:  “That’s the way they liked it.”  Could apply here.  Could be it is people like me who don’t like it.  In which case there’s not much point in my trying to help problem-solve these situations.

False equivalencies and inaccurate models

October 21, 2014

I was thinking about how some groups get tired of misrepresentations propounded in the name of giving both sides of the story.  The criticism is that in trying to redress a problem of bias, a new problem is interjected, namely a problem of misleading readers of a piece of journalism, for example, into thinking both sides have an equally fair point.  Sometimes, of course, the points are not equally fair, valid, or accurate.

I think if we got away from thinking about it in terms of “false equivalencies,” we could also get away from what seems to be a preferred response to “false equivalencies,” namely to side with one point of view or the other on the terms used by the participants themselves.  Sometimes, I think, the situation is far more complicated;  both sides may have a contribution to make, but they may not be expressing their contribution well, for example.

So I would prefer thinking about how accurate or not a model of presenting a conflict is.  Most conflicts have multiple contributing factors.  Even if voter ID laws really are an effort to suppress minority voting and not a legitimate response to real voter fraud, the legislative campaign arises out of something that needs to be addressed, even if it’s more about unhelpful habits of thought by people engaged in maladaptive self-protective coping devices.  So we could

[this is not finished, but I have no idea when I’ll have a chance to get back to it, so I decided I’d put it up now]

Compassion for others

October 5, 2014

I was thinking as I was writing a reply to a news comment — talking about how inadequate love, compassion, and support for somebody gravely wounded does not mean others with lesser hurts do not feel those hurts or need love, compassion, and support, too — that while we screen, somewhat, to make sure mental health professionals don’t visit their unresolved issues on patients and clients, we don’t do this with politicians and “thinkers.”  And they probably do.

Partisan bullying

June 5, 2014

Here’s a little venting on my part:

Liberals do it, too, but with a slightly different style:  criticizing people who disagree with them, using slightly ad hominem arguments that don’t really address the point raised by the person they’re disagreeing with but rather focuses on a different (single) aspect of the controversy (and not the bigger picture, the totality of situation being addressed).

Skins and shirts;  everybody’s playing the same game.  And nobody wins until we play a different game.

Corruption in politics

April 3, 2014

The recent Supreme Court decision about campaign contribution caps seems to me to reflect to what extent people who succeed in politics, government, and its supporting professions don’t even realize they’ve internalized an acceptance of (soft forms of) corruption.  Seeing corruption as limited to explicit quid pro quo transactions I think is like claiming cash is the only means of payment in our society’s economy — no barter, no checks, no credit or debit cards, no electronic payments.

I don’t know what makes leaders think corruption more generally isn’t a threat to the system and our society, but I notice sometimes a “We know better” attitude in the positions of wealthy conservatives, that their wealth and material success qualify them for knowing what works to make a society successful.  Wealth and material success are indicators that a person knows how to achieve wealth and material success, it seems to me, neither requires insight into what makes a society successful.

Of course, there are other explanations for people who, knowingly or not, accept corruption.  Greed.  Fear.  Enjoyment of power over others.  Desire to feel safer by looking down on others.  Insufficiently developed capacity for empathy or insufficiently developed conscience.  I’m sure there are more.

But I think we do as a group have a cultural myth about wealth and material success reflecting wisdom.  I think that’s an unwarranted leap in logic, and I think the decisions of our leadership reflect that reality instead.  We need a better system to select for wisdom among our leaders, in my view.

 

My Wendy Davis boots

March 7, 2014

What color is “poppy”?  I didn’t assume I know, so I looked at the pictures — in the print catalog and then online on the company’s website, and the color looked like red to me.  The product was mid-calf height rubber rain boots.

The poppies in my gardens are red, so red seemed to be a reasonable color for “poppy” to be.

I thought of ordering black, but I spend half the winter in black boots (and half in brown), so I am ready for a change.  I have fond memories of wearing red boots, and up here in New England I thought I could get away with wearing red rain boots, even as a middle-aged woman.

I want them for the spring mud and melt-off, especially when I’m out walking.

Well, the boots that came are not red.  They are the color of my neighbor’s poppies, that is, deep pink.

I do wear some pink in my clothing choices, especially because I have such a pink complexion.  My glasses are pale pink.  But bright deep solid coral pink is a little further than I would intentionally go.  As a stripe in a pair of socks, I would wear it in a heartbeat, but pink rubber rain boots?  I would not have chosen that color in that item knowingly.

I was, of course, offered the option of returning the boots.  Pack ’em up, ship ’em out, wait a number of weeks, and I could have black.  Instead I accepted some money off of what I paid and I am wearing them.

I’m thinking they could be my political statement in support of Wendy Davis’ candidacy for Texas governor, she of the pink running shoes.

Actually, what made me decide to keep them was the chance to come to terms with having something pink foisted on me to wear.  That happened to me when I was a youngster being pressured into taking ballet class.  This time around I am better able to find a way to fit the pink into my life, including seeing it as an opportunity to overcome feeling self-conscious about it and troubling myself about reactions I might get.

When I wore the pink boots to run some errands this morning, the clerk at one of my stops had hair that was dyed a bright pinkish red.  That made me feel in the swim.

I do think life often gives us multiple opportunities to learn something, and that eventually we and a situation match up well enough for us to be able to hit the pitch and learn whatever it is we needed to learn — and in a context in which our learning our lesson also helps serve the greater good.

Eating candy

January 23, 2014

Someone once asked me if having faith was like asking the universe to help you find an orange piece of candy in the candy dish without looking.  I wasn’t comfortable with that understanding of faith.  I thought that it was quite possible that the universe might help with that request if it served the greater good and the petitioner’s greater good, but it didn’t sit right with me.

So the other day, years later, I’m actively and consciously choosing an orange piece of candy and I’m about to unwrap it and I get this message — to unwrap it over the kitchen sink.  And sure enough, it’s a broken piece of candy and little pieces fall into the sink.  I had recently cleaned the kitchen floor and I would not have been a happy camper if the pieces had fallen on the floor.  That is the kind of help I receive when I have faith and I trust the universe the way a swimmer trusts the ocean to support them when they float.

Which gets me to my favorite part of the David Remnick piece on President Obama, in the current issue of The New Yorker.

It’s a quote from the president:

‘One of the things that I’ve learned to appreciate more as President is you are essentially a relay swimmer in a river full of rapids, and that river is history,’ he later told me. ‘You don’t start with a clean slate, and the things you start may not come to full fruition on your timetable. But you can move things forward.’

I very much resonate with the relay team conceptualization and I also resonate with the river imagery.  I don’t usually find them combined in my brain, though.  For me, the river part is peaceful and about me as an individual, about my relationship with the universe.  The relay part is about navigating the material world and doing my part in what’s going on here.

But I lead as private a life as the president’s is public, so maybe it looks different to him.  The issue of combining — here, images — I also think plays out differently in different people’s lives.  Some people’s ego self and greater self are well integrated, others very much tie the ego self off from the greater self.  I often relate more easily to the greater self of someone else, and I get upended when their ego self isn’t consistent with it.  I am trying to learn to be open to the possibility that the two selves will not be in sync.  So if President Obama has integrated the rapids of material life with the bigger picture of the universe, maybe that’s a more helpful way to view things.  I have to admit that one of the other things I have to work on in my own life is integrating my spiritual and material world lives better with each other.  If President Obama has, I should certainly not be criticizing that.

Finding the limits

January 19, 2014

I have been reading articles about how doctors apply an entrepreneurial spirit to the practice of medicine and governors manage their relationships with mayors.  And in both cases, it seems to me that, although the critiques are written as if the underlying dynamic is outré, the real problem is that the participants have gone too far.  In so doing they may have actually exposed a problem with the fundamental dynamic, but I doubt the critics really think that — I think they really just don’t like the particular way an accepted pattern of behavior has been exaggerated.

I guess it’s a question whether a smaller version of profiteering in medicine or trading horses in politics is okay, necessary, and helpful to the greater good and individual personal development.  Alternative systems seem to bog down in other ways.  No hope of personal gain seems to discourage most people, and concentrating too much control in small groups to dictate behavior, instead of leaving it to participants, seems to invite corruption at that level instead.

I am sure better trained minds than I have grappled with these questions.  I guess what caught my attention here is how upset people get when somebody doesn’t “do it right,” and so jeopardizes the whole set-up for everybody who does know how to stay within the limits.  Because the critics are not calling for a wholesale overall of our health care delivery system or our politics, just calling out people who go too far.

Myself, I’d be more inclined to throw out more of the underlying system itself and to be critical of even the more accepted applications of the behavioral patterns.  I think acceptance of profiteering inevitably produces economic misbehavior and acceptance of trading favors inevitably produces social misbehavior.  Why people do not find sufficient satisfaction with other, more intrinsic forms of reward seems to me a place to investigate.  It’s (probably) the ego, stupid.

Conservative luxuries

December 5, 2013

This is admittedly something of a cheap shot, but I can’t resist.

From our friends at The Weekly Standard, in their advertizement for some sort of cruise package they are putting together for “Conservative Thinkers” (which I take, from the context, to mean subscribers, past subscribers, people on their mailing list):  “We may be proudly conservative when it comes to our politics, but we’re liberal with our luxuries.”

No “good Republican cloth coat” for them, apparently, anymore.