John McCain: The GOP’s Wizard Of Oz?

John McCain may win the GOP nomination because GOP voters think he can defeat the Democrat’™s nominee. I believe the more proximate McCain is to his quintessential objective, the more difficult it will be for him to suppress the psychological scars that power his psyche. If this happens, it may pull back the curtains and expose him as little more than the GOP’™s angry, though impotent, wizard.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

John McCain seems to be the GOP frontrunner‘¦a position he has rarely held while aspiring to be the Republican presidential nominee. Following his victory in Florida, McCain and his campaign seem to have accepted the esteemed moniker. His apparent inevitability is troubling to many establishment conservatives and a number of evangelicals. As I watched the Senator in the GOP debate from the Ronald Reagan Library, I couldn’™t help but notice the emergence of what I would characterize as the leading edge of his desire to release a blend of pent-up bitterness and spiteful and surly bravado.

Let me be clear, I don’™t seek to disparage the Senator or his debate performance. I’™m sure he and his fellow candidates must be tired. Nonetheless, McCain’™s temperament has long been a topic of discussion’¦and a reason for pause. Last evening, in my opinion, I observed a man who has longed for the authority and the opportunity to speak his mind without the filters politicians so often employ. It left me wondering if I was watching a man who, upon attaining the presidency, might shed his subtle sophistry in favor of an unbridled style of authoritarianism.

Stay with me for a moment. McCain has made a career of portraying himself as a ‘œstraight talking’ politician who is amenable to reaching across the aisle. When he’™s done so, it’™s often been to the chagrin of his fellow Republicans. On the surface, that’™s an admirable trait and one that seems to have served the Senator well’¦especially with the mainstream media’¦the tool he often utilizes to assuage the animosity and skepticism his actions have generated amongst his peers. In my estimation, whether it’™s a demonstration of sincerity or a carefully executed strategy is open to debate.

Now consider the 2000 GOP primary and the character assassination and personal assaults John McCain endured at the hands of his adversary, George W. Bush. If one can believe the media reports, the attacks were understandably quite hurtful to the Senator’¦and they are thought to have played a significant role in derailing his presidential aspirations.

Next, think about a man who spent over five years in captivity’¦a man forced to hold his tongue and bide his time in the face of adversity. Such treatment can undoubtedly alter one’™s relational skills and interaction style’¦as well as lead one to adopt a strategy that I would equate with treading water. Essentially, it’™s a recognition that survival is the fundamental objective’¦and that may mean saying what is expected or demanded in order to keep one’™s head above water’¦until one has the opportunity to do otherwise. As such, John McCain certainly understands what it means to tarry.

As I’™ve watched the run up to the 2008 election, I’™ve felt that McCain has made a number of strategic decisions intended to afford him another shot at the prize he seeks’¦the presidency. His campaigning for the reelection of George Bush struck me as an attempt to receive the party’™s presidential baton’¦in spite of his dislike of his former adversary. His subsequent forays into mending fences with the evangelicals he once assailed were more of the same. As best I can tell, in most instances, these mea culpa moments took place absent the dialogue one would expect to accompany a difficult reconciliation.

At the same time, my sense is his memory is akin to that attributed to an elephant. Hence he never forgets a slight, a fight, an insult, or a defeat. Like with his time as a prisoner of war, McCain has spent the last seven years plotting his escape from the subservience he resents and his ascendancy to the authority he craves. The phenomenon isn’™t unique to prisoners of war. The same often exists in spouses who stay in abusive relationships until they can envision and enact their escape and exact their revenge.

His occasional episodes of vitriolic derision directed at his primary opponents may offer a glimpse of what lies beneath the affable surface he labors to demonstrate. The measured and halting nature of his recent speeches’¦delivered with a structured and rhythmic cadence’¦suggest an alternative stream of thought is on the verge of surfacing’¦and ample energy must be diverted to keep it at bay until the opportune moment.

His palpable dislike of Mitt Romney prompts other concerns and considerations. One, McCain is apt to see Romney’™s flip-flopping campaign as a usurpation of the McCain ‘œgo along to get along’ style. Two, the occasionally uncensored animosity aimed at Romney supports the psychological concept of projection’¦which essentially posits we’™re prone to recognize and resent in others that which we have failed to expunge from our own suspect identity.

John McCain may well win the GOP nomination’¦and that may occur as a function of voter’™s calculating he is best suited to defeat the nominee of the Democrats. If my hypothesis is correct, the more proximate McCain finds himself to his quintessential objective, the more difficult it will be to suppress the psychological scars that power his psyche. If this happens, the intervening months between his nomination and the November election may pull back the curtains and expose him as little more than the GOP’™s angry, though impotent, wizard.

The following graphic is a tongue-in-cheek summarization of the above observations.

johnmccain.jpg

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Thursday, January 31st, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Pandering to Ronald Reagan at the Republican Debate

Whining and ‘œhe said/he said’ accusations dominated the Republican debate Wednesday at the Reagan Library. But there was nothing so embarrassing as the pandering at the end when Anderson Cooper asked, ‘œWould Ronald Reagan support your candidacy and why?’ It looked like a parody of a Miss America world peace question, for God’™s sake!

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The Republicans ought to dig up Ronald Reagan’™s body and put it up in the Reagan Library in side some kind of crystal sarcophagus or something. OK, It was Anderson Cooper who asked the question, but even holding a debate at a place like the Reagan Library seems to prevent real debate. Last night we got a bunch of fireworks at the beginning of the Republican debate. McCain was smug while distorting Romney’™s record, and Romney was whiney and petulent in return. Neither looked Presidential to my view, and Ron Paul looked like Mortimer Snerd (look it up, for those without the cultural history).

The responses to the last question of the debate were telling about these candidates, so I’™m going to go over them carefully. Here’™s the question, from the trascript at CNN:

COOPER: We only have about four minutes left. And this is a time restriction that all the campaigns put on us. We would be happy to have this debate go on all night long, but I know everyone has a lot ahead and a lot on their plates.

So this is a question that will go to each of you. Each of you has about a minute to answer.

We’™ll start with Governor Romney.

Would, and if so, why ‘” why would Ronald Reagan endorse you? Would Ronald Reagan endorse you? And if so, why?

I know how I’™d answer this, I suppose, if I was a fervent admirer of Ronald Reagan, or just pretending to be a fervent admirer of Ronald Reagan. I’™d talk about not one single issue, but about independence and change, how Reagan promoted those things while he served int he White House, and how independence and change will best serve Americans now. I would focus on ideas after a debate that got bogged down in the minutiae of he said/he said between Romney and McCain. As it turns out, nobody took that tack, and Huckabee answered the question even better than I would.

Romney decided to pander, pretending to be the second coming of Ronald Reagan:

ROMNEY: Absolutely. Ronald Reagan would look at the issues that are being debated right here and say, one, we’™re going to win in Iraq, and I’™m not going to walk out of Iraq until we win in Iraq.

Ronald Reagan would say lower taxes. Ronald Reagan would say lower spending.

Ronald Reagan would ‘” is pro-life. He would also say I want to have an amendment to protect marriage.

Ronald Reagan would say, as I do, that Washington is broken. And like Ronald Reagan, I’™d go to Washington as an outsider ‘” not owing favors, not lobbyists on every elbow. I would be able to be the independent outsider that Ronald Reagan was, and he brought change to Washington.

Ronald Reagan would say, yes, let’™s drill in ANWR. Ronald Reagan would say, no way are we going to have amnesty again. Ronald Reagan saw it, it didn’™t work. Let’™s not do it again.

Ronald Reagan would say no to a 50-cent-per-gallon charge on Americans for energy that the rest of the world doesn’™t have to pay.

Ronald Reagan would have said absolutely no way to McCain- Feingold.

I would be with Ronald Reagan. And this party, it has a choice, what the heart and soul of this party is going to be, and it’™s going to have to be in the house that Ronald Reagan built.

Romney hit every hot button for Republicans he could, and then averred that Ronald Reagan would support them. Simply put, Ronald Reagan would not support the extremist position on immigration, not when he proposed and strongly backed the first amnesty. He’™s the one who said to ‘œTear down this wall,’ and it is far fatched that he would support building one of his own. Reagan would also not back an amendment against gay citizens of this country. Though Reagan was not a friend of gay and lesbian causes, he was a friend to many gay citizens. You all can go through the fact-checking even further. Romney’™s strategy was to get out his laundry list of issues he thinks will sway today’™s Republicans and then plug in the Reagan name wherever it suited grammatically. Shameless pandering, and it started an avalanche of shameless pandering.

Here’™s McCain, who continues the pandering only after taking a smug swipe at Romney:

MCCAIN: Ronald Reagan would not approve of someone who changes their positions depending on what the year is.

Ronald Reagan ‘” Ronald Reagan came with an unshakable set of principles, and there were many times, like when he had to deploy the (INAUDIBLE) cruise missile to Europe and there were hundreds of thousands of demonstrators against it, he stood with it. Ronald Reagan had a deal in Reykjavik that everybody wanted him to take, but he stuck with his principles.

I think he knows that I stick with my principles. I put my political career on the line because I knew what would happen if we failed in Iraq.

I hope that the experience I had serving as a foot soldier in his revolution would make him proud for me to continue that legacy of sticking to principle and doing what you believe in, no matter what.

OK, there’™s more ideas in McCain’™s answer, of sticking to principles and doing the supposed right thing regardless of how many mount strong arguments against, but still, this is pandering, with McCain claiming to be a ‘œfoot soldier’ in the Reagan Revolution. Man, he makes the Reagan Revolution seem like the Long March with Mao or something. Again, I was not impressed.

Ron Paul as one might expect, tried to make Reagan out to be in favor of whack job ideas:

PAUL: I supported Ronald Reagan in 1976, and there were only four members of Congress that did. And also in 1980. Ronald Reagan came and campaigned for me in 1978.

I’™m not sure exactly what he would do right now, but I do know that he was very sympathetic to the gold standard, and he told me personally that no great nation that went off the gold standard ever remained great. And he was very, very serious about that.

So he had a sound understanding about monetary policy. And for that reason, I would say look to Ronald Reagan’™s ideas on money because he, too, was concerned about runaway inflation and what it does to a country when you ruin the currency. And that’™s what’™s happening today. The dollar is going down and our country is going to be on the ropes if we don’™t reverse that trend.

The Gold Standard? Give me a freaking break! Sure, Paul was clear to say that he didn’™t presume to know Reagan’™s mind, and given that Reagan is actually dead, few people would know it, and Paul was also clear in noting that he had a close connection with Reagan. But to focus on the Gold Standard? The guy wants us to think he’™s a John Bircher, doesn’™t he?

Huckabee was smart. He saw the mistakes of his rivals and decided to take the humble route. I think that played better than the answers of any of the others.

HUCKABEE: I think it would be incredibly presumptuous and even arrogant for me to try to suggest what Ronald Reagan would do, that he would endorse any of us against the others.

Let me just say this, I’™m not going to pretend he would endorse me. I wish he would. I would love that, but I endorse him, and I’™m going to tell you why.

It wasn’™t just his specific policies, but Ronald Reagan was something more than just a policy wonk. He was a man who loved this country, and he inspired this country to believe in itself again.

What made Ronald Reagan a great president was not just the intricacies of his policies, though they were good policies. It was that he loved America and saw it as a good nation and a great nation because of the greatness of its people.

And if we can recapture that, that’™s when we recapture the Reagan spirit. It’™s that spirit that has a can-do attitude about America’™s futures and that makes us love our country whether we’™re Democrats or Republicans. And that’™s what I believe Ronald Reagan did ‘” he brought this country back together and made us believe in ourselves.

And whether he believes in us, I hope we still believe in those things which made him a great leader and a great American.

(APPLAUSE)

Still, there’™s a bit of hubris going on here, too. Just replace the words ‘œRonald Reagan’ in that first sentence with ‘œGod’ and it the sentence sounds like just the kind of formulation one would make about not claiming the imprimatur of God. Yeah, that would be presumptuous, and it would surely be presumptuous to claim the backing of Reagan, but it’™s not like the two are equal, is it?

All in all I think it was a horrible idea to presnt the debate at the Ronald Reagan Library, as it brought the whining and pandering to a crescendo, but I suppose that’™s all right. It lets us see that all the Republicans are about is pandering, and it lets us see that pandering in all its naked glory. Unfortunately, my suspicion is that Republican voters aren’™t so sophisticated as to recognize that fact.

Thursday, January 31st, 2008 by Richard Blair |

John Edwards, Courageous Campaign

John Edwards has quit the Presidential race without backing one of his opponents. Darn, I wish he’™d make a choice, but wish him well, so, so much.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I will say first that I am sorry to see that John Edwards is bowing out of this year’™s Democratic primaries. His was a campaign infused with honesty and caring for the people in this country who need care most. As the AP article notes, he began his campaign in New Orlenas helping those displaced by Katrina, and he’™s finishing his campaign there with his entire family, helping build houses. Man, the guy is the very picture of the candidate we need, except for the fact that he’™s got his liberalism so much on his sleeve that he might be difficult to elect, and it will certainly be difficult for him to lead. The kids and family are great, and they’™re all so photogenic. America would love to see little Jack romping on the White House lawn at the Easter Egg Roll. OK, no more sentimental stuff.

All reports say that Edwards is not backing either Hillary or Barack as yet. I’™d like to see John Edwards change his mind on that and go and back either Hillary or Barack. I’™d also like to see him throw himself into campaigning for his choice. I’™m an Obama supporter, and I’™d love for Edwards to jump in on Obama’™s side, but I also think the guy could provide Hillary with some real support ‘” show us her softer side, perhaps. Because Edwards, if nothing else, and there IS plenty there, is caring. That’™s the softer side.

John, you and Elizabeth did a great job and I wish the best for you and your whole family.

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Who Will John McCain’s Running Mate Be?

This should be fuin. Is there a single Republican who would work as a running mate for John McCain, or will he have to settle for Mike Huckabee. Oh, really, that one would be a hoot, wouldn’™t it? Let’™s speculate!

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Is it too early to be speculating? Probably, but I’™ve never let that sort of thing bother me before. Larry Eichol, the Philadelphia Inquirer political reporter, notes that McCain is now the clear Republican frontrunner. Sure, Mitt Romney can come back, and as I think he’™ll be a weaker opponent than John McCain in the Fall, I hope only good things for Mitt Romney for the next couple months. But the topic of the day is John McCain, and he’™ll have a hard time putting together an adequate running mate, given the criteria that need to be met.

Let’™s lay the groundwork a bit. I suppose we could call this handicapping the field:

1. McCain will be trying to prevent the first woman or African American becoming President. American seems to have fallen in love with the idea of change, and there’™s no better symbol of change than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton’™s potential to break new ground. So McCain needs to come up with some ethnic or gender diversity in his choice.

2. Democrats are outpolling Republicans all over, and that means McCain needs to choose someone who will help him energize the base, the radical right wing Christian Cleric wing of the Republican Party.

3. John McCain is old, and he’™s going to need to balance that a bit to counter the dynamism of an Obama and the vitality of a Hillary Clinton. He needs a relatively young running mate, unless, of course, Dick Cheney is still ticking out there.

4. McCain needs a running mate who can win a region. Forget the Northeast, as it will go to a Democrat regardless. Forget California and the west. McCain needs a southerner, or a midwesterner.

5. John McCain’™s running mate must have stature. Senators are OK, but a Governor would balance the ticket a bit. He could go for a cabinet member, or maybe a bigtime mayor. Whatever the choice, he or she must have stature, and must have at least some name recognition.

If McCain can satisfy a few of these conditions, he’™ll be lucky. Frankly, as I quickly peruse the list of Republican Governors, Senators, Congressmen, etc., I’™m finding slim pickings. Heck, there are few who haven’™t been touched by scandal. But let’™s throw a few names out there.

First, let’™s look at those Republican Governors, starting with the southerners. Bob Riley of Alabama is nice, but both the wrong gender and race. Besides, his wife’™s name is ‘œPasty,’ and that could spell trouble in the late night talk show monologues. Governor Crist of Florida might be able to bring in a big state for McCain, but he’™s long been rumored to be gay (as is Texas’™ Rick Perry), and the radical religious right isn’™t going to stand for that. At the very least, McCain’™s running mate needs a running mate of his own, of the opposite sex. Haley Barbour of Mississippi? Too divisive, having been the Chair of the GOP in the past. Besides, he’™s whiter than white.

Is there no woman or other diversity candidate among the Republican Governors? Well, there is Bobby Jindal, a bit of a rock star who just won the election for Governor in Louisiana. No, he’™s not a household name, but he’™s ethnically diverse and won over a very conservative state. Jindal is also young. The problem here is that an Indian-American, while an example of diversity, might remind Republican voters of McCain’™s South Carolina problem back in 2000. Sure, that was just a slime, but I’™m betting Rush Limbaugh won’™t let it sit, and a huge portion of the Republican base listen to Limbaugh. As to South Carolina, the picture of the Mark Sanford family is just precious. . . but the diversity just isn’™t there, and besides, the man looks like a cadaver.

Things don’™t get much better looking at all the other Governors. Ahnold is not eligible. Mitchell Daniels is a stiff in Indiana, but has Mitt Romney-like CEO credentials from his time at Eli Lilly. Still he’™s white and also older. ‘œOtto’ of Idaho ‘” the name is too easy to make fun of, and besides, he doesn’™t fit the regional criteria. I suppose McCain could do worse than Matt Blunt of Missouri. Young, photogenic family, also a Navy vet. He sure doesn’™t fit the diversity criteria, but maybe the Republicans wouldn’™t vote for a Veep with diversity anyway.

Of course, the Senate and the House are out of the question. Kit Bond is too old, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia has a funny name. Jim Bunning is senile. Tom Coburn is a whack job and Thad Cochran recently said ‘œJohn McCain scares me.’ Susan Collins, Elizabeth Dole, Olympia Snowe and Kay Hutchinson all off gender diversity, but they’™re all too old or too liberal, in the cases of the Maine Senators. And come on, there’™s not a soul in the House of Representatives, and certainly not among the leadership, who fits any criteria. They’™re led, after all, by a man whose name is pronounced ‘œBoner.’

I’™m left with Condi Rice and Mel Martinez. Both are good diversity candidates, but closely tied to Bush, so they’™ll not get votes for McCain that way, but Mel Martinez might be able to bring in Florida. Still, McCain just did well in the Florida primary, and the huge population of veterans there makes it a state he’™s likely to win anyway. Condi? I don’™t see why she would take the demotion, and I’™m betting she’™d be very happy to get back to academia. Besides, she’™s single and rumored to be gay, and the Republicans won’™t go for that.

Anyone else got an opinion?

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 by Richard Blair |
Category: General,Permalink

Political Strategy: Handicapping The Homestretch

The presidential field has narrowed. With John McCain apparently having the inside track on the GOP nomination, it makes sense to handicap his chances against the two remaining Democratic candidates. Our future may depend upon our willingness to transcend our divisions in order to elect a president to represent all Americans.


Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

Now that it appears that John McCain has the inside track on the Republican presidential nomination, it’s time to draw some general election comparisons with his two potential Democratic opponents.

Before focusing on narrow specifics, my general impression has long been that McCain is the most formidable GOP candidate…despite the tepid support he receives from establishment conservatives and his shaky bona fides with the evangelical base.

Race & Gender:

When looking at either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, both must overcome potential bias…her with regards to being a woman and him with regards to being an African American. My own suspicion is that gender and race could cost either candidate a segment of the voting public. I’m of the opinion that could equate with a low to mid single digit percentage. Advantage McCain.

Conversely, race and gender may be an advantage for both candidates with their respective voter contingencies. If so, it would seem that Senator Clinton would have the most to gain given that women make up a larger portion of the overall voting public. However, that advantage may be somewhat offset by the fact that Clinton elicits high negatives amongst GOP voters. No clear advantage.

Experience (Age) vs. Change:

With regards to experience, the lines of demarcation are relatively clear. Clinton and McCain have more experience and each can be viewed as a Washington fixture. McCain can argue his maverick persona gives him an advantage over Clinton…pointing out that her election would be a return to a prior era of partisanship and acrimony. At the same time, John McCain’s record as a Senate contrarian could lead some Republicans to sit out the election. No clear advantage between Clinton and McCain. Both have an advantage over Obama.

As to change, this may be an area where one candidate has an unmistakable advantage. The mood of the country and voter dissatisfaction with the country’s direction support the notion that voters are looking for measurable and meaningful change. Obama’s age and his inspiring orations position him as a man of vision. Advantage Obama.

Nonetheless, that segues into two important caveats. One, while Obama’s message of change provides him with a noticeable advantage, the degree to which he is able to convince voters he can implement it and that they should forego the safety of two known commodities would be essential to his success in capitalizing upon it. Two, this requires a look at age. McCain could appear too old and Obama could be viewed as too young (green vs. eclipsed). Thus a slight advantage affords to McCain based upon historical data suggesting that the elderly turn out in greater numbers than the youth vote. Clinton’s age is generally neutral though her primary success with the elderly offsets McCain’s age advantage and leaves her with the same n

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 by Daniel DiRito |

FISA – Dead Issue or Sleeping Monster?

This afternoon, the House voted to extend the current FISA for 15 days. It was set to expire on Friday, and there’™s been a pitched battle in the Senate, with a key Republican defecting to the Dem’™s side in voting to deny cloture of the version of the bill that offers immunity to telecommunications companies. The future of FISA depends on constituent pressure – so, make the call today.

/wp/

Yesterday, the Senate voted overwhelmingly against cloture of the pending FISA bill, which as written, provides total immunity for telecoms in the U.S. against possible lawsuits for illegally assisting and enabling the Bush administration in conducting warrantless domestic wiretapping. Even Snarlin’™ Arlen Specter broke ranks with his fellow Republicans and voted to kill cloture. Glenn Greenwald has a great summation and updates from his live blogging of the various votes that were held regarding FISA.

FISA expires this coming Friday. That means that the Bush administration has three days left to exert pressure on the GOP minority to get something passed – and George Bush has vowed to veto any bill that comes to him as an ‘œextension’ of the current law, or one that excludes telecom immunity. As things stand now, the Dems in the Senate have held together, perhaps at Sen. Chris Dodd’™s request, but more likely because they’™ve been hearing from their constituents.

This afternoon, the House passed a 15 day extension of the current FISA, and the extension has been sent to the Senate. Will it pass? If I was in possession of a magic 8-ball, I’™d probably get the response, ‘œAll Signs Point to Yes’. And then the question becomes, will the Senate forward the extension to Bush, one he’™s vowed to veto?

I’™m not sure what the game is that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have been playing with FISA. Prior to the Christmas recess, they shelved the bill (after a threatened Dodd filibuster, and in the face of a lot of backlash from progressives). They knew they were just delaying the inevitable showdown, and we’™re pretty much there at this moment. Passions are running hot on both sides of the issue.

As I’™ve written before, once given, any immunity offered to telecoms is binding, whether or not FISA is ever revoked by a future congress and president. So, the upcoming vote, whenever it happens, is a showdown of sorts.

If you’™ve never contacted your congressional representative before, now would be a good time to do so. The Senate and House switchboards need to be swamped with calls from angry constituents. Bush and Cheney know full well that, eventually, the scope of their domestic warrantless wiretapping is going to become public. They’™ve vowed to protect their business partners in the illegality, and the Democratic Party-controlled congress needs to be just as resolute that when the day of reckoning comes, the force of law is behind the prosecution and/or civil liability of any enablers of the current administration’™s spying activities.

Make the call.

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

In Defense of Discomfort and Despair

Lately I have been obsessed with my own comfort. I just got put in my place, and am grateful for the despair I’ve experienced.


Commentary By: somegirl

After a long absence I feel compelled to post today after coming across an amazing post on a site I’d never been to before. Please read the whole things as it offers much wonderful food for thought. Here’s a taste:

I once had a Professor of Polish culture who was a key figure in the Polish resistance in WWII. He was captured and was dying of starvation in a prison camp at war’s end, a skeleton, ill, terrorized, barely alive. The American government brought him to the USA where he had important things to do concerning New Europe. He was put up in a hotel in New York. It was ironic, he told me, that only six weeks later, he was complaining to the laundry about how they did his shirts.

It’s bizarre, he would have said, that we spend most of our lives in search of the pleasure of comfort and ease, convinced that happiness lies there. The truth is, comfort saps your real strength. Ease is treacherous and steals your ingenuity. The devilish pair robs your intuition and dulls your vision. I have in mind also metaphysical comfort and ease, not only natural human desires for creature comforts which in practice, as we all know, are never enough.

Yesterday, I read a post on Think Progress that really pissed me off. The comments really got me riled as they showed such ignorance, and lack of caring for veterans of the Iraqi occupation with traumatic brain injuries, which it’s now estimated is a full 20% of them, a staggering statistic. The big joke was the term “mild traumatic brain injury.” As in haha it’s an oxymoron, how can it be mild and traumatic? As someone who has struggled daily with this condition for nine years, I just want to say it’s no joke.

Last night, seeing as it was meta weekend at ASZ, I was ready to list all the ways my functioning has changed and how the world has wronged me, but after reading “The Twin Evils of Comfort and Despair” my tune is changing a little. I know I am very lucky to have almost hit 40 when the life changing event of my brain injury occurred, but at the same time, it also propelled me into a whole new reality I was totally unprepared for, leading to isolation and depths of despair I had never known before. (Not that I was ever from the happy school, but this was a whole new level.)

The election of GW Bush the following year, the disintegration of our economy along with the our constitution, and the rise of fascism, American-style, have contributed heavily to my despair over the past several years. I tried to make my home in a couple other countries, but couldn’t find anything that quite worked. I have lived in alternating terror (for my own security) and exhilaration over the thought of economic collapse in the good ol’ USA because I see it as the only way out of the debt-ridden consumer culture that is quietly destroying the hearts and souls of individuals, and sucking them from the earth as a whole. I fantasize about revolution, wondering if it could bring true purpose back into my life.

And I consider this:

Psychologists instruct us that there are only four things that people really need for their happiness: a feeling of security, a feeling of belongingness to a group, a feeling that people have affection for them, and the respect and esteem of others. That’s it. Basic needs are quite simple.

I once was highly organized and able to successfully manage people in a high stress, creative environment. When I lost many of the innate abilities I depended on my entire life, I felt for a long time that I lost the things mentioned above, even the ability to feel those things. I have found the search for meaning in my life since then to be a grueling, totally unwanted struggle most of the time, and have spent an awful lot of time bemoaning my fate, all the while knowing that I still have it so much better than most people in this world. Still, we tend to focus on what we do not have. Perhaps it is just human nature, but it seems to me sometimes that we have built an entire society as a testament to that. What a waste.

Today I find hope in these words:

The much-pursued pair of comfort and ease removes and alienates us even more from reality. Comfort and ease is a golden cage. Retreat into the beguiling cocoon of comfort and ease erases the possibility of communication with the rest of mankind. It is a rejection of the reality of the world and man’s place in it.

A rejection of comfort and ease as a life goal is to choose truth over lie. It is to choose the way of extremism, of opposition to the lie. There are periods when truth exists more easily. There are other periods, mendacious and ugly periods, when truth rings seditious, subversive, revolutionary, when it however shines in its extremism.

In my mind, comfort and ease as a goal reflect anti-reality, anti-man, anti-life. For to live life, you have to accept and live with reality–in the desperation and despair it provokes. You have to learn to live without illusions. That is unpleasant at first. Uncomfortable. Uneasy. But, we can learn.

Monday, January 21st, 2008 by somegirl |