The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Daily Work

My terrific mother in law has been visiting for the past week. Unlike me, she actually knows politics, and has been in the trenches her whole life. And she simply couldn’t believe that Hillary didn’t thank the campaign workers who came out in the snow to try to elect her yesterday. Rude, and foolish. Yes, I’m sure Hillary has blinders on, trying not to panic. There was a Saturday Night Live routine last year (they repeated it Saturday night.) where the “All-but-certain-next-President” Hillary Rodham Clinton mocked the campaigns of her opponents. Good lord. Lady had 100% name recognition, a 150 Million dollar war chest, and the most popular living former President stumping for her. She crushed all her other opponents, and Obama is beating her like a rented mule. This boggles my mind. His EQ has to be stratospheric. He may be the smartest (in the way I measure intelligence) person I’ve seen in political life. I kind of agree that he’s playing “above” the level of the game.

Notice that everyone is dancing to his tune, reacting to his words and tactics. It’s a little like watching Mohammad Ali fighting Sonny Liston. No one noticed that he was dictating the pace of the fight, forcing Liston to fight a different game than he was used to fighting.

I watched the early primaries, looked at her advantages, and realized that he could run her ragged on physical energy. If he was running against a two-headed monster, he would have to force them to bob and weave and travel and speak…and if he was what I thought he might be, he had a chance to break them down physically. The fat lady ain’t sung yet, but the Achilles’ Heel that is visible to almost everyone—her marriage—might well end up being the thing that brings her down.

It always seemed to me that she sold her heart for her ambition, tolerated a cheating husband for the sake of ambition. (Question of the day: Would anyone out there wish such a marriage for their own daughter?) I think she appealed to a lot of women who have abandoned their own dreams of romantic love for “realistic” marriages. Crap.

So she has two-thirds of a life. A stellar career, and a healthy body (no one can push themselves as she has on 3-4 hours of sleep without a healthy basic foundation). She should have dumped Bill and built her own career. There would have been more emotional satisfaction overall. When she refused to admit she made a mistake about Iraq, I understood: most would consider that political suicide. But compare that to Obama’s admission of making a “boneheaded” decision about his Chicago real estate doings.

Why do I like him? He reminds me of me, sans some of my personal damage. Healthy body, apparently healthy marriage, stellar career. The full package. And he was smart enough to smell a rat on Iraq. I’d like to vote for someone who is smarter than I am, after eight years of the first President I ever considered LESS intelligent than me.
I am so disappointed that McCain changed his tune about torture. So very sad. He has lost all moral authority as far as I am concerned. I mean, who would Jesus torture?
Sigh. The “More Yoga” program seems to be working fine for me. Woke up this morning feeling great, not that hit-by-a-bus feeling I often have after running 100 reps of the Bruiser. Meditation this morning started with heartbeat, then I used Mulabhanda (anal lock) to ground myself, found the spark of light at the third chakra, and breathed down into these first four until I achieved a solid framework of light.

Then I visualized a triangle at my third eye. And then allowed my heart to extend light up there, and rotated through my three major goals. You have to visualize/represent the end point of your goals, and then feel the emotions associated with successful fulfillment of them.

If you can see the end point of your goals (and no, I ain’t saying what they are publicly right now. But they involve healthy family, moving my career to the next level, and moving my martial arts/yoga practice to the next level) then back away and “ask” the following questions:
1) Are my goals in alignment with my beliefs?
2) Are they in alignment with my core values?
3) Have I any negative or positive emotional charges that will interfere?
4) Can I see the intermediate steps to achieving my goals (what must I do this month, this week, and TODAY to bring them to being)?
5) Will I enjoy the journey, even if I don’t ultimately reach the goal?
6) Will my actions along this path make the world a better place?
7) Are my worldly goals in any way out of alignment with my spiritual path?

Trust me: once you’ve been through this cycle a few dozen times, it gets automatic. You wake up, find your heartbeat, find your breathing, anchor into your body, generate light, align with your goals…all in sixty seconds.

You will need some activity that takes you into flow state. And you need to do it daily. Flow state for most people triggers after about 20 minutes of some steady-state activity: painting, sex, gardening, poetry, writing, dancing, working out, meditating.

If you have stress-related emotional problems, you’re well advised to meditate. Go straight to the source and drink from the fountain, people.

This is preventative medicine at its best. And preventative medicine is ten times more effective than Emergency care. This, by the way, drives me crazy when people suggest that the Emergency room can substitute for Universal Health Care. If you wait until you’re sick…well, you end up with a 60 percent obesity rate, and people who treat their bodies like garbage bags. Of course, that’s the direction too much of America is going in. People, after you hit 35, your body is done with you. Your genetics are programmed to kill you off so that the next generation can come in and clean up the mess you made. After that, all you get in terms of health and aliveness is what you can take and hold.

And that requires PREVENTATIVE maintenance. Otherwise, it’s like not changing your oil. Twenty dollars every three months…or five thousand dollars for a new engine. You take your pick.

And health starts with MENTAL/EMOTIONAL health. Otherwise, you are viewing reality through a skewed lens. How can you know if your lens is skewed? Look at your body, your relationships, your career. Unless you are turned on by all three, your safe bet is that something is wrong.

Do your daily work. No one else can do it for you.


Anonymous said...

Maybe McCain has "changed his tune about torture", but that'd be news indeed -- the man has spent most of the past four years getting hated on by the "real conservatives" in the Republican Party because he:

1. Opposed waterboarding, and
2. Thought global warming was a genuine problem that required a non-business-as-usual solution.

So, what do I do, judge the guy by his unpopular track record of 2004-2008, or by some sound bite now?

--Erich Schwarz

Steven Barnes said...

I assume that politicians will bend their beliefs to get elected. Personally, I find the issue of torture to involve issues of core human decency--giving up your soul to save your life. I expect no one else to follow my feelings about this, but it is a complete violation of what I believe about life, and America. He lost my respect when he did that, but you should be guided by your own sense of ethics. The point is that he either believes the behavior is acceptable, or was willing to say so in order to be elected. That's like the question of whether Wallace was "genuinely a bigot" or just didn't want to be "out-niggered." Frankly, if the man wasn't a bigot, politically taking a bigot's position made him an even lower form of life. But that's just me, dude.

Steven Barnes said...

Let me be even clearer:
I can imagine situations under which I would torture someone. I can imagine NO situation under which I would want torture to be legal.

Mike R said...

>I kind of agree that he’s playing “above” the level of the game.<

Or . . . he could in a bubble phase. It happens with politicians, they get tons of support and everyone loves them in the beginning, and then some people start to question that love and more are looking at the politician's policies more closely and because you can't please everybody the bubble deflates.

Personally I think he is a very skilled politician and a very smart man, but I don't think he's as great as you do. I think you are setting yourself up for some disappointment in fact by elevating him too high - perhaps because you want to see him as a Super Steve (you without your hang-ups and issues) and you want Super-Steve to be the best Super-Steve that Super-Steve can be. But nothing goes perfect and there is going to be a hundred million dollar campaign aimed at making sure the next 9 months are as bad as they can be for him.

I think he'll probably beat Hilary, but in the general it is still a toss up. Nine months is a LONG time in politics. Lots could happen.

>It’s a little like watching Mohammad Ali fighting Sonny Liston. No one noticed that he was dictating the pace of the fight,<

In military terms this is called being inside your opponents decision loop - and that is a _very_ good place to be.


It can do wonders in virtually all areas of life.

Good layman's article on it here:

>(Question of the day: Would anyone out there wish such a marriage for their own daughter?)<

I'd cut off my own hand if that was what it would take to prevent it from happening.

> When she refused to admit she made a mistake about Iraq, I understood: most would consider that political suicide.<

Or she could consider it not to have been a mistake. I don't and so do lots of other people who doing well in your big three.

>People, after you hit 35, your body is done with you. Your genetics are programmed to kill you off so that the next generation can come in and clean up the mess you made.<

Not literally true. There have been studies done and it appears that children with living grandparents have higher survival ratios than children with no grandparents in similar situations. It appears as if your genes have an interest in seeing you last long enough to ensure that your second generation of offspring gets through at least a few crucial years.

But your basic point is true.

Steve Perry said...

Well, energy-wise, Rocky gave up smoking -- deal with his wife so she'd okay the run -- but he still chews nicotine gum.

That's where some of the energy comes from.

Then again, if you wanted a horse race, you got one, and, black man or white woman comes out of the D's house, they got my vote, so for me, it's a no-lose situation.

I used to have more respect for McCain, even when I disagreed with his stances, which was most of the time. After the most recent Republican convention, at which I watched him turn into the Current Occupant's lap-dog, most of that respect went down the toilet.

He was running for the office and saying what he needed to say to have a prayer of winning it, just as they all do.

We mustn't forget that. A bunch, if not most, of what they say is to get the job at this stage. You simply cannot take it too seriously and believe it will all come to pass.

First time I saw Obama, if I recall correctly, was giving a speech at the D's convention that round. Most impressive speaker at the podium, hands down.

I don't think anybody can win the presidency of the U.S. these days without paying a hard price in soul and principles for it. They all promise the moon, but they deliver New Jersey. This isn't me being cynical. This is how it has gone every time before.

Mike R said...

Interesting note: You know pledged delegates? It turns out that they are not really pledged at all:

"Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign intends to go after delegates whom Barack Obama has already won in the caucuses and primaries if she needs them to win the nomination.
Delegates are NOT bound to vote for the candidate they are pledged to at the convention or on the first ballot,” a recent DNC memo states. “A delegate goes to the convention with a signed pledge of support for a particular presidential candidate. At the convention, while it is assumed that the delegate will cast their vote for the candidate they are publicly pledged to, it is not required.”

If Hilary does decent two weeks from now, then to me it looks like the only hope of a non-brokered convention will lay in Hilary's lack of a desire for power.

Steven Barnes said...

I don't think Obama is superman, really. When I say "above the level of the game" I mean that literally--that he really does seem to generate thoughts that are designed to resolve dualities. An elevated trick. The REAL question is whether he is simultaneously GROUNDED in reality. SEEMS to be (note the balance in the Big Three, and the fact that he worked his way up from scratch--hard to do that without roots. For comparison, I think that, without a famous/powerful father, Bush would be lucky to manage a Wal-Mart in Topeka) but can't be sure. Now, then, IF he can maintain his overview, AND stay grounded, THEN he has the chance to be great.
Yes, there are smart, balanced, good people who believe that the invasion of Iraq was a good idea. I grant that completely. And it may have been--the fact that I disagree doesn't mean much in the ultimate way of things. However, no, I don't think Hillary is one of them. I think that she thinks it was a mistake, big time, but is trapped in the political game and can't say that, knowing that the sound bite would be used against her. Just my opinion, of course. I believe with all my heart that she is a liar: her public statements about Bill's betrayal suggest that she is lying either to the public, or to herself. And once I see that, I look for other lies. It may be simplistic, but that's genuinely the way I think.

Mike R said...

Side note: I found this _hilarious_:

Yeah, but this just goes to show that Obama only wins in states that hold contested elections. Sure, he wins big in caucus states, he wins big in primary states, he wins big when turnout is low, and he wins big with record-high turnout. But what the Obama-worshipping media is overlooking is that in each of the 25 state contests Obama has won so far, his name appeared on the ballot. It's time to stop giving Obama a pass on this critical issue.

Remember, if Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination, Barack Obama's name will not be on the ballot in November. And only Hillary Clinton has demonstrated that she can win when Obama's name is not on the ballot. In fact, she's undefeated in contests where Obama is not on the ballot, making her clearly the more electable general-election candidate.

Mike R said...

>When I say "above the level of the game" I mean that literally--that he really does seem to generate thoughts that are designed to resolve dualities. An elevated trick.<

I just don't see that Steve. I see a man making speeches in a convincing and passionate way, but I don't see any solutions offered that will resolve things.

Take for instance the coming problem of the Boomers retiring (in money terms this is THE biggest issue facing the government). We're already spending half of the federal budget on the elderly and because the Baby Boomers are such a huge group that's just going to go way up when Obama (or Clinton or McCane) are in office. So how will Obama resolve that? Well, his website promises, "Obama will protect Social Security benefits for current and future beneficiaries alike. And he does not believe it is necessary or fair to hardworking seniors to raise the retirement age." That's not resolving the duality between retirees and those of working age - it's locking in the status quo (regardless of the changes in demographics) and it's taking one side over the other.

Nothing wrong with that (even though it's not the choice I would make), it's what those in power have to do, but that's the point - in doing so they inevitably piss people off and then . . . pop goes the bubble of good will.

Mike R said...

Regarding McCain and torture, I think this explains his reasoning well:

"McCain has opposed waterboarding and other forms of torture for years, even while both Democrats and Republicans in Congress tacitly approved it in the aftermath of 9/11. He authored a bill in 2006 that he believes outlawed both without making the mistake of giving our enemies our playbook. Since no acts of waterboarding have occurred after 2003 and the CIA had already banned the practice, there won't be any test cases, but clearly McCain sees the Feinstein bill as superfluous -- and worse.

The idea that the Army Field Manual defines torture is a fallacy on which this entire argument rests. The AFM details what Army interrogators may do, but it doesn't provide the ur-text of non-torture. The AFM, by the nature of our democracy, has to be a public document, but CIA practices should not and do not need to be publicized. By holding the CIA to the confines of the AFM, we take a lot more than waterboarding off the table, including barking dogs, which hardly constitutes torture in any practical or reasonable sense.

If you could save one life by having a dog bark at a detainee, would you do it? For Pete's sake, who wouldn't?

McCain opposed this legislation because it's simply a badly-written bill that hands a training manual to our enemies. It's not just unnecessary, it damages our ability to glean information by limiting our options and allowing our enemies to prepare for American interrogation."

Frank said...

I am so disappointed that McCain changed his tune about torture. So very sad.

I'm thinking your analysis is lacking. He may or may not have changed his mind on torture, but you wouldn't know that by his not wanting the CIA bound by the Army Field Manual.

There are a whole host of reasons why one may not want this even if one was against "waterboarding" and was banning it from the CIAs tool box

Anonymous said...

One of the my all time favorite science fiction writers, Robert Heinlein coin the acronym TANSTAFL for "There ain't no such thing as free lunch." If you are going to change things you are going to have to take from something to give something. Until Obama specifies what he going to change and gives an indication how he intends to accomplish the terms in my view it is all just words. Social security is a case in point. How are we going to pay the benefits promised to current and future beneficiaries without new income. What are else are we going to cutback on or what new sources of revenue do we create. I is fine to say tax the rich, but who is the rich is somewhat subjective and going about it in the wrong way can kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.
Lets take Bill Gates for example. He clearly rich by anybodies standard. Suppose we star with a weath tax on him that taxes 30% of his wealth still leaving him one of the richest men in the world. Does no harm right. I say probably wrong. Bill Gates does not have his money sitting in a lock box that hhe can take it out of and pay the government. He has it invested. Pulling large sums of money out of investments will drive those investments down. This will cause disruptions in the economy which may very well end up costing the government more than they get from Bill Gates and his counterparts.
Its great to have a vision, but you also need a plan to get from here to there.

Marty S

P.S. The kid in the video was really good. In someways I thought he made a better case for Obama then Obama.

Frank said...

Marty S said

Its great to have a vision, but you also need a plan to get from here to there.

As many here know, I mostly evaluate a candidate for his or her Foreign Policy acumen.

And I am very concerned about Obama's choice of Samantha Power as his foreign policy adviser.

Her interview is Slate magazine is very disturbing in it's naive understanding of the region.

I could be wrong, and I hope I am, but it seems to me that the Democrats are about to nominate either a McGovern or a Carter.

I'm hoping for the former....

Frank said...


"region" = the Middle East/North Africa/Central Asia

Anonymous said...

Obama has taken heat for saying that he would have gone into Pakistan to get Bin Laden.

But that position makes more sense to me than going into Iraq to get Bin Laden. :)

Steven Barnes said...

I hear something different in his speech, and in his thought patterns. If he gets elected, we'll see if he can translate it into meaningful action--that, of course, is the only true measure of a leader.

Frank said...

Steve sais

I think that she thinks it was a mistake, big time, but is trapped in the political game and can't say that, knowing that the sound bite would be used against her.

I really don't know what Hillary thinks about Iraq.

But I do know this: She has taken pains during her time in Congress to position herself as a centrist.

She is not walking away from her Iraq position because she knows that once the primary is over, she will have to reclaim the center ground without looking like a flip-flopper

That's why she went to Afghanistan and Iraq as a Senator and got her picture taken with soldiers.

(Has Obama visited either battlefield?)

Obama will have a very difficult time claiming the center ground during the General which is why he looks more like McGovern than Carter:

I really do not believe he can win the General.

Hillary has a better chance of that, but if she got the nomination, I would be up every night fearing that she might actually win.

And that's not just because of what she might do as President so much as she has shown me during this campaign that her desire to win trumps everything. And that is even more worrisome than anything Obama might do as President.

Mike R said...

>If he gets elected, we'll see if he can translate it into meaningful action<

But he _was_ elected Steve - being a US Senator is not the same as being Prez, but it is still a powerful position. If what you are hearing matches reality, then shouldn't that be reflected in the bills he wrote during his time in the Senate? The deals he brokered? You know, the meaningful actions he has (or hasn't) accomplished in that position? What about his accomplishments in the Senate show someone "above the game" and what dualities did he help resolve?

Daniel Keys Moran said...

It's funny watching people who support George Bush talk about Obama's lack of foreign policy experience. Now, admittedly, Bush did have the good sense to surround himself with people who did have a lot of foreign policy experience. Cheney and Rumsfeld, for example, who invaded Iraq because, unlike Osama bin Ladin, they could find Iraq ...

If Obama's experiences living abroad, in Muslim countries, gave him the good sense to not be suckered by the Bush Administration over the raft of lies they told about Iraq, well, that sounds like pretty good foreign policy experience to me.

Daniel Keys Moran said...

Frank said,

I really do not believe he can win the General.

And I really don't believe McCain can. We'll check back and find out who's right. :-)

Anonymous said...

In my estimation George Bush is the second worst president of my lifetime. But that doesn't mean that whoever comes next can't be even worse. Obama statements with respect to foreign policy scare me too and he doesn't get a bye because Bush was bad. In fact I would say we need someone super to fix what Bush has damaged.

Marty S

Anonymous said...

I don't see any way we can allow benefit of counsel to prisoners we think are terrorists.
We passed Miranda laws for good reason- if you don't give people the benefit of independent counsel they will be tortured.
(I don't mean waterboarding. Special Forces guys get waterboarded in training, so they think of it as a training exercise. I don't. They do, so if they do it they still report it. Like if the kid next door broke my garage window and I told him to drop and give me 20. I'd tell his dad.)
I mean real torture, bolt-cutters and blowtorches and all. Unreported stuff. Happens a lot.

Daniel Keys Moran said...

"I don't see any way we can allow benefit of counsel to prisoners we think are terrorists."

Because we could be wrong? Just throwing that out there.

Mike R said...

>It's funny watching people who support George Bush talk about Obama's lack of foreign policy experience. <

If George Bush from the year 2000 has a time machine and travels to now and was running against 2008 Obama, that would be a good point.

Anonymous said...

the things Hillary is saying now
how all these "lost" states
and I gather the voters in them
don't matter
and all of the talk
on the web
why even right here
about how Obama hasn't done anything

are we who have
and read
and paid attention
really supposed to believe
we are sheeplike dummies
swayed purely by a silver tongue

the condescension/arrogance
makes me dizzy


Anonymous said...

Is it entirely fair to say that Hillary stayed with Bill only out of ambition? I'm not so sure. No doubt that was a part of it, but I don't think it was all of it, or even the majority of it.

From reading her autobio, I get the sense that the idea of a failed marriage would bother her more than any other failure. She might contemplate divorce, but she's the type who would have a hard time going through with it. She wasn't raised that way. Remember also that although he may not have been a cheater, her father seemed not to have treated her mother with a heck of a lot of respect.

HRC certainly wouldn't be the first woman to stay with a cheating man out of love -- and against her own best interests. I know a lot of smart women who are dumb when it comes to men.

That said, she's run a really stupid campaign. Why she hasn't fired Mark Penn is beyond me. Combined that with the Obama campaign's lucky breaks and lack of major mistakes, she stands almost no chance of coming back from this.

But if by some long-shot chance she does come back, I sure wouldn't want to be be a politician who had turned his/her back on her during this campaign.

Daniel Keys Moran said...

Mike ... so you voted for Al Gore in 2000? I tell you, the guy who voted Gore in 2000, for his vastly superior foreign policy experience, and now can't vote Obama because of his comparative lack compared to McCain ... I'd respect that.

Who'd you vote for in 2000?

Steven Barnes said...

It's perfectly reasonable to look through his Senate bills, and their history, and get the opinions of the people he's worked with. Lot of work there--and at some point I might do that. Not now, though.
A person can certainly torture and consider themselves a pragmatist, or situational ethicist or something. But their moral authority is blown with me, and I'd like to at least start with the illusion that someone I vote for shares my basic sense of moral decency. Since I've seen nothing suggesting that the quality of information gained that way is qualitatively and quantitatively far superior to that gained in other ways, I have the nasty, nasty feeling that torture satisfies needs other than the intellectual thirst for knowledge.