The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Yours truly will be in the Northwest the next
few days: Portland tomorrow, and Seattle over the weekend. I'm going to be getting together with
friends at the "Kennedy School" restaurant/pub in
Portland tomorrow night about 7pm, and you are
invited if you're available. The
address: 5736 NE 33rd Avenue.

Drop me an email if you want to come by, and I'll
be sure there's room. Then Friday/Saturday/ Sunday,
I'll be at the Norwescon SF convention at Seatac.
If you drop me an email and let me know you're coming,
maybe I'll do a room party...and we can talk about
some of the things we've explored over the last months.

Hope to see you soon!


This morning, talking to one of my coaching clients, we spoke of his emotions, and that
his belief systems "were him." Really? Was my computer my computer before the buggy
programs? Was it my computer after I removed them? You bet! And your
beliefs (programs) influence your behavior massively. And the most influential beliefs:
"I can" "I should" I'm bad" "I am" are those given to you...or inflicted upon you...
before you were ten years old. All meditation practices aim to calm and/or focus the mind so that, among other things, you can "wipe the hard drive" clean, and then re-install only those programs you want.

You need to seek out the teachers and techniques that allow you to walk you through your life, every level of it, and give you the tools you need to "wipe" the negative
programs and "re-install" your basic instructions. It is more than your birthright--it is your responsibility to be as healthy, happy, successful and energetic as you can be.

After all--there is no Carbonite backup system for your life.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

'Battlefield Earth' Screenwriter Writes Hilarious Open Apology

I knew "Battlefield" was in trouble when Travolta showed up at a Science Fiction convention in Seattle to promote it. The man looked like a deer in the headlights. My wife was sitting next to Forest Whittaker and mentioned "Battlefield" as a textbook example of a bad movie. Oops!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Just talked to one of my coaching clients' mastermind groups. It is SERIOUSLY important to have people you can trust with whom to share your hopes and dreams. Find at least one, no matter what. Expand from there, so long as there is total harmony among you.

Sunday Roundup

24% of Republicans think Obama is the AntiChrist? If that number is accurate, and I were a Republican, I would be terrified for the future of my party. I appreciate the idea of dealing with them...and with all people, with love and respect. Not because "it drives them crazy" but because it is the right, as well as most effective, thing to do. We can disagree without being disagreeable. It is hypocritical to criticize a tactic and then use it yourself.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Writer's Block and Health Care Reform Protestors - What They Have in Common

Excellent thoughts. Writer's Block is actually pretty simple to beat, once you understand it. It is nothing more than a confusion of the "flow" state where you create new text, and the "editing" state where you are evaluating and correcting what you have created. In most people (especially academics) their editor is far more evolved than their "flow." So...separate them completely. On, say, a six-day a week schedule, write rough first draft on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Pay no attention to spelling, punctuation, or even grammar--just describe what you see and feel. Then, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday you edit, rewrite, and plan the next chunk of text. If you maintain a high level of reading, your work will not suffer--rather, it will actually improve as you learn to trust your unconscious. It is possible to write 3000 words a week in only an hour a day of writing, using this system.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Saudi Poet Is a Bright Star for Women's Rights (VIDEO)

More rights, freedom and education for women, as well as they power to determine their own reproductive priorities, is probably the simplest and most powerful way to improve the quality of life on Earth overall.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

"Hot Tub Time Machine" (2010) and Obama

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

I forget which one of my writing instructors it was...perhaps Robert McKee, who said that comedies are often precisely described by their titles. HTTM pretty much spills the beans right there: a farce built around a high-concept, with quite broad humor and the requisite bawdy sight gags. The setup is that three friends: John Cusack, Rob Corddry, and Craig Robinson are all ne'er do wells who have known each other since high school. After Corddry attempts suicide, they decide to try to recapture the magic of their youth by returning to a ski lodge/party town they remember as the best time of their lives. But the town has fallen on hard times, the lodge is filled with senior citizens, and their room's hot tub has mysteriously turned into...well, you guessed it. Due to some foolishness with a can of Russian Red Bull, and the overacting of Chevy Chase, they find themselves thrown back twenty five years, to a specific night of debauchery that they must try to emulate, precisely, or never return to their miserable lives. Or something like that.'s neither terrible nor wonderful. Has some good moments and some very funny stuff. Potty humor and gay panic jokes abound. But overall, I'd only give it a "B-"


Warning! Sambo Alert!

Well...the truth is that when I saw the coming attractions, my first thought was: wow! Another comedy with an obese black man whose primary duty is to make the white guys look slender. And Craig Robinson definitely fits that bill. But someone over on Rotten Tomatoes said that he got quite laid, and early reviews of the movie sounded like it MIGHT have been the kind of hysterical "Hangover" style farce that could break the 100 million barrier, and so I felt I should check it out, in the name of history.

1) Yep, Robinson is fat. And as in "Couples Retreat" he is denuded publicly, and jokes made about the size of his equipment.

2) There is a sex scene...sort of. But I noticed a couple of things: they never kiss, you never see them touch (!), and he doesn't enjoy it. He is crying over his cheating wife the entire time (this is a similar gimmick to the one used in "Bad Boys" to explain why Martin Lawrence had no interest in a hot witness. Will Smith "the player" is "comically confused" with Martin Lawrence, so that Smith is with Lawrence's wife, , enough that the chick jumps off and glares at him. Because they are in a hot tub at the time, any contact is below the surface of the water. Without the slightest degree of intimacy, it is a strange scene indeed.

3) She is white. I don't know what it is, but black people have come to some strange place where they are more acceptable having sex outside their racial group than within it. What in the hell is THAT about? I never saw that one coming at all.

My overall feeling is that America is slowly, painfully inching toward acceptance of our humanity. Right now, a black man can have sex in a movie if there is no intimacy, nothing to see, and he is fat enough to not be a threat. That movie is still not going to do well at the box office. Now then, whites often point to the movies that DO have sex, claiming they aren't very good.

The trouble with this is:

1) They didn't necessarily think that the movies where white guys had sex were good, either. Curiously, this doesn't seem to hurt them at the box office.

2) Their statements have a certain degree of unconscious irony. After all...they are white. My theory is that there is an unconscious aversion. They look at these films and say: "hmmm...that wasn't good." Which is EXACTLY what one would predict if my theory were correct, right? A telling little observation: black people tend to like these movies more than the white audiences. Rather predictable...but whites tend to explain this by suggesting blacks are cutting these movies extra slack. (For instance, white audiences disliking "Seven Pounds" while black audiences gave it an NAACP Image award.) Well, that's probably true, but look in the mirror: if blacks are extra lenient...why is it so hard to grasp that whites might be extra critical? Split the difference, and you'll probably have the truth: that blacks and whites probably lean to the same degree, but to opposite directions.

3) Frantically trying to believe America is Post-racial, (come ON! The human race isn't post-racial) Someone will always blame "Hollywood" as if the bastion of liberality is the most racist part of the country. Get a life.

4) What if these movies actually ARE...well, bad? What if movies in which black men have sex actually do, on average, suck? That is an even more fascinating possibility. To what would we attribute this? Why would they suck worse than films with white guys getting laid. Actually, there are some tempting possibilities.

If my theory of the "10% disconnect" is accurate, then that's not just going to be with audiences, is it? It will also be with the production staff. Let's say that for whatever reason, a good script comes down the pike, and somehow a black guy gets cast in a role that has sexuality. What could go wrong at this point?

1) The script can go through additional revisions, during which it is tuned to the actors' specific personae. Dialogue and "business" are adjusted, with a room full of white people deciding what feels "right" for this black character. As I suspect happened with chubby Ricky Gervais and Jennifer Garner in "The Invention of Lying" (and I KNOW happened with "Beverly Hills Cop") for one reason or another intimacy is removed. Suddenly people in the room just ain't feelin' it. doesn't work in movies any more. Ah...wouldn't it be funnier if there were this confusion of identities, you see... about if he is so guilty that he can't about if the girl's brothers came along so "Shaft" and the witness are never about if the black guy is really gay! Yeah, that works...

And on, and on.

But there are other ways things can go wrong: editors, prop guys, special effects guys...almost all white. Almost all with the same 10% aversion. Think that dragging your feet just a tiny, tiny bit can have a cumulative effect on the quality of a film?


And this actually leads to something I watched over Obama's presidency so far. And hesitated to bring it up, but I'm gonna do it. There were several people who suggested that his race was advantageous to him in the race, and I mocked them, frankly. The idea was absurd.

But...I can see one way that it could be true, and that aspects of it played out recently.

Hear me out.

Right now, white audiences are more likely to accept blacks as God or the President than just a normal guy who gets laid. How sick is that? But it is a researchable fact.

The "Magical Negro" trope is so infamous and widespread that I remember lecturing on it at Clarion only to have a couple of students confess they had MN's in stories they were working on RIGHT THEN. Scary. Without the right to be just human beings in the minds of whites, we go from being Magical Negroes to Sambos with little stop in-between at simple humanity.

I've often said I think Obama is the smartest guy I've seen on the national political scene...but also said that I don't know if that will translate into being a good president. Let me start with that opinion and see where it goes. (I don't want to have to keep explaining or justifying the original opinion, so just roll with it, O.K?)

The pressures against blacks taking high office are huge (note racial percentages in the Senate). Anyone black who can make it through to that level is way above the average white who makes it to the same level. The AVERAGE black person is pushed down and back, but a sufficiently extraordinary one is actually lauded: by Liberals because it proves their position that race is just melanin, and by Conservatives because it proves that America is fair and balanced. So if you can make it that far, and don't trigger guilt feelings, there actually is a little apparent advantage (what people don't factor in is how very few can make it that far.)

He seemed, in other words, to be a "Magical Negro." Now, America was in, and to a degree still is in, some pretty rough straits. An awful lot of people felt we needed a miracle. And here comes Morgan "God" Freeman...I mean Will "Bagger Vance" Smith...I mean Barrack Obama...maybe HE can get us out of this! I mean, we've got to change our luck...I mean, do something very different, or we're in trouble.

Now, listening to Right wing media, as expected, he was excoriated from the day he was elected ("the Obama recession" was Rush's label, starting the day after the election) with an overall racial tinge that was fascinating at least partially because Conservatives literally complained that they couldn't mock him (as is their political right...hell, probably their obligation) without racist overtones. That is as telling a remark about the human subconscious as I can imagine. But what has come from the Left has been just as telling and fascinating. As people began to realize that he WASN'T magical (was, from my position, just a very smart guy with good intentions and scads of charisma) they began to turn on him. The needle never went from "Superman" to "normal guy." It was a totally binary response: either genius, or moron. It jumped from God to Sambo. Now, I've admitted to knowing little of politics many, many times.

I only have a clear opinion about health care because the stats overlap with areas of previous interest, so that I have a way of evaluating relative efficiency of different systems that feels very solid to me. But...the economy? No idea. This is because I just never watched this stuff. But from that very limited perspective, I'm telling you that the vitriol has been amazing. The Right is calling him a socialist, Marxist, Muslim foreigner trying to destroy American industry. At the same time that disappointed Leftists were calling him a cowardly, weak sell-out to the Insurance companies.

It seemed bizarre to me that the Right screams that he's at some extreme to the Left, while the Left screamed that he was a secret Right-winger, and that almost none of them woke up and realized that both of these things couldn't be true...well, I guess some of them did, and came to the conclusion that there is a gigantic conspiracy, Republicans pretending to be upset while secretly relishing his actions. Leftist pretending to be upset to disguise that he is actually giving the country away...

It was, and is, a form of low-level madness, I think. It was really telling that so few pundits seemed to grasp that the phenomenal resistance mounted by the Insurance companies [a million dollars a day] or a Republican party that vowed to make this "his Waterloo" would influence what got into that bill, and the deals that would have to be made with Conservative Democrats to pass it.

After he got it through...all the Liberal shows suddenly flipped back over to "Superman" again. Never a stop at "just a guy trying to do a job." Black or white. Super or nothing at all. The Right, of course, has never given up the non-stop 24/7 pounding. When Obama apparently tried very hard to build bipartisan support, I couldn't believe the outrage and contempt. As if he had not been known for his entire career for this kind of behavior. But again, to see what is going on, I believe you HAVE to cut off the opinions of anyone who has the position that "the others" are less moral or intelligent than they or their team (and that applies to politics, gender, or race), and that the thoughts of those in the middle can be considered to have greater clarity.

I am proud of my President. Don't know what the future will bring...hopefully the same sort of Medicare Buy-in or Single Payer system, health care wise, that brings simple, demonstrable increases in quality and decreases in cost the world over. And the Republicans who voted in a block against it? If this thing starts to work (and there are so many role models of it working that I have great optimism) they are in serious trouble. There is no way that that solid-bloc vote was simple conscience. To the degree that that was political maneuver, heads deserve to roll.

But it takes me back to an earlier thought. "Hot Tub Time Machine" displays an urge to fuzz the edges. It suggests that the lines really are blurring a bit when it comes to simply accepting the humanity of the "other." The presidency of Barrack Obama is critical to this process. If he is just a DECENT president, it is a game-changer, and for that reason (and because he seems to see the world much as I do) I am cheering for him, and blacks are cutting him extra slack. As whites have noticed. Without looking in the mirror and wondering about their own reactions.

But then, that's being human, isn't it?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

From time to time life gives you a cubic inch of opportunity. Either you take it, grab it, or it's gone forever.

Friday, March 26, 2010

My position: Anyone who believes the "other political party" are fools or knaves is part of the problem, driven by fear rather than logic.

Who's Right, and What's Left?

I recently requested that reasonable Conservatives and Republicans speak up condemning violent rhetoric and actions. I didn't claim that such actions represented the majority of the party. Responses, however, suggested that "the Dems" were a monobloc of hypocrisy. Interesting.

Here's a place where a charge of hypocrisy against me, personally, would have some traction: I didn't condemn a Canadian film about the assassination of Bush. I promise that I would have if I'd had the slightest belief that there was actual elevated risk. Perhaps I should have thought that, but most violence in my lifetime has been against the forces of change, or Democrat/Left (Kennedy, Kennedy, Malcolm, King) as opposed to a couple of failed attempt against forces of Conservatism (Reagan, Wallace). Whether that is legitimate or not, that's the way I thought about it.

In Obama's case, I believe that there was a seriously elevated threat level. It would simply make no sense for that not to be true, and would in fact violate everything I believe about human nature. NEWSWEEK and other organs reported that to be true. The book by Ronald Kessler reported a 400% rise, and comments by the head of the secret service are fascinatingly unclear, saying things like "the threats are not up" as opposed to "over the period between the election and this date, there is no increase, on average, as opposed to the same period for Bush and Clinton." Are not up when, today? This morning? Sounds like weaseling to me, from a governmental organ notoriously close-mouthed.

Note that the estimation of increased threats does not suggest that Republicans, Conservatives, or Whites are more violent than other people. Just that major change of that kind (election of a black President) is so much of a shake-up it is logical for it to produce increased fear and discomfort. (What? High percentages of Republicans think he is a Socialist? A Kenyan? Hates white people? And I'm supposed to believe that there is no elevated threat?) So I stand by that one--it would simply make no sense, unless Conservatives are literally BETTER than ordinary human beings.

So if a Canadian film had been made about Obama's assassination, I would have had a much stronger reaction. I would have considered it an actual invitation to violence, rather than, say, a tasteless controversy. If I had had the slightest reason to believe Bush was in the crosshairs, I would have been ALMOST as alarmed.

Now...I'm not proud of the fact that I wouldn't have been AS alarmed, but I'm honest enough to admit it's true. If Bush had been the first White president, I'm pretty sure I would have been just as concerned about his symbolic value, and despite the fact that I'm not White, my reaction would have been pretty close. I do see Obama as a change so massive that damned few Whites seem to have any idea at all how important it is...but then again, I've met almost no Whites who really notice the wide range of roles Blacks can't play in movies or television without alienating the White audience.

Nothing, absolutely nothing I've ever said implies that Whites are more ANYTHING--good or bad--than blacks. But they are in the position that allows them to be oblivious. As are men, heterosexuals, the wealthy, and Christians. When you are the "norm" you don't have to notice the effect your attitudes have on others.

So back to my reaction to the "Death of a President" movie. I drove to Pasadena, was grimly amused, and thought it interesting. Not particularly good, but interesting. If you want to think I was ignoring threat levels against Bush, I understand. But if those assassinations had been "Nixon, Reagan, Wallace, Maddox" or something, my attitude would have been "Liberals/Democrats actually do kill Conservatives/Republicans. This is horrible, and cannot be allowed. It shouldn't be shown in the U.S."

I'm not saying my reaction was legitimate or evolved. Just that that was my internal process.


But all of you are missing my real point: I'm not "outraged" at the rhetoric. I'm concerned that if it spirals into actual violence, it will damage the Conservative cause. If there is a pattern, supported by countless comments from Right-wing pundits, with minimal condemnation by spokesmen on the opposed to what looks like actual "whipping up the base"--it would prove devastating, shutting down honorable opposition for...well, depending on the level of catastrophy, months at least. And I don't want that to happen. If you react as if I'm saying

1) All Republicans are violent.

2) All opposition to Obama's policies are racist

You're missing the point. Yep, I've heard Leftists suggest both of these things, and considered it the same overheated, dishonest rhetoric that disgusts me about politics in general. The trouble is when someone either excuses that behavior on their side (because the other side does it) or takes the position that their side DOESN'T do it. "That" behavior is all "them." And anyone who takes the position that "their" side are better, more moral people falls right into that abyss, as far as I'm concerned.

Right now, at this moment, I think Conservatives are wrong about the impact of Nationalized or Universal health care. My reasons make sense to me, but I know I could be wrong. But I don't that is true about all issues, through my adult life. The thought is that the pendulum of correct/incorrect swings back and forth--when and if such a thing can actually be sussed out at all. Because I accept the WHO stats on lifespan, infant mortality rate and cost per capita/percentage of GNP doesn't mean that those are the only ways to look at it. I know my acceptance of them is independent of my other political attitudes, and I know that because I was willing to accept the first two (lifespan and infant mortality) as evidence that Apartheid had some positive effects. And trust me, that was a hard one. But it doesn't make me right, and there are legitimate and intelligent arguments, many of which have been made on this blog.

But I don't think, nor have I ever said, that Conservatives are any lesser--or better than Liberals in overall. I think they have different strengths and weaknesses, useful in different ways at different times. Can those of you attacking my words claim to believe the same? If not, my position is simple: your perceptual filters kept you from seeing my actual point, and I suggest that those same filters have served you poorly in other arenas.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Calling responsible Conservatives to speak up against Tea Party violence. Many say they speak for you. Please prove them wrong.

A House Divided, Again

It is fascinating when white Republican conservative males try to compare something they don't like to slavery or the civil rights movement. My mother was a conservative Republican, and I listened to lots of talk radio back then, and trust me, they thought Martin Luther King was the antiChrist, a communist puppet of the Soviets. To wave that particular flag at the first black President is an irony so deep and broad that it boggles the mind. Talk about NewSpeak!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

RIP Robert Culp

A terrific story:

A boy decided to study judo, despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a horrific car accident. He began taking judo lessons with an old Japanese master. However, after three months of training the master had only taught the boy one judo move. “Shouldn’t I be learning more moves?” the boy inquired of his master. “This is the only move you’ll know—but it’s the only move you need to know,” the teacher replied.

Several months later, the teacher took the boy to his judo tournament. Amazingly, the boy won his first three matches quite easily on his way to the tournament final. However, in the championship match, he would face an opponent who was bigger, stronger, and faster. In fact, the boy appeared to be outmatched. Concerned the boy might get hurt, the referee was about to stop the match. “No,” the teacher insisted, “let him continue.”

As the match resumed, the boy’s opponent made a critical mistake—he dropped his guard. Instantly, the boy used the one move that he was taught and pinned his opponent. The one-armed boy was now the champion of the judo tournament.

On the way home from the match, the boy asked his teacher how he was able to win the tournament with only one move. “You won for two reasons,” the teacher responded. “First, you’ve almost mastered one of the most difficult throws in all of judo...

And second, the only known defense for that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm.”


Robert Culp died yesterday. Sigh. He was absolutely instrumental in the creation of "I Spy" and the career of Bill Cosby. Because of Culp, who was actor, writer, director, and martial artist (Kenpo karate--Ed Parker actually appeared in at least one episode) the hip, smooth banter between him and Cosby became part of the American cultural flow. Really, only about 1 1/2 of the 3 seasons of "I Spy" were really good. I don't think writers knew quite what do do with this show, or how to treat two men, one white and one black, who were so clearly equals, friends and brothers. Note how horribly they got it wrong in the Eddie Murphy "I Spy" movie--it is hard to imagine something further off the mark. Thirty years later they couldn't handle the idea of Alexander Scott as an intelligent, multi-lingual scholar. Culp fought for that, and worked himself into exhaustion trying to keep the level of the show high. He tutored Cosby on acting, and as a result Cosby won three Emmys (competing against Culp each time!) And never seemed to feel anything other than pride. The man was way, way ahead of his time.

My very favorite episode of the show was, I think, in the third season. I'd purchased the complete set of I Spy DVDs, and this season was set around Europe. Maybe second season. Anyway, I'm watching the episodes, and there is one with an elderly Spanish scientist who is also a Cervantes scholar fixated on Don Quixote. And the scientist was played by Boris Karloff, my very favorite actor when I was a kid. Here was my favorite actor, on my favorite show, and I had no memory that this wonderful episode ever existed. For an hour I sat on the couch, transported back to the twelve year old I once was, improbably happy and content. Mom was still alive, in the kitchen baking perhaps. For an hour, Culp and Cosby and Karloff had given me a time machine, and it was one of the best television experiences of my life.

Culp is gone. I really wanted to shake his hand, to thank him for making a difference. To this date, there have been precious few shows that showed a black man with anything like the intelligence, presence and full humanity that Cosby had on that show, forty years ago. He was the real deal, an artist. Good bye, Kelly.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Finished my first teleconference. It was great! David Roel did a fabulous job when my computer plotzed. Lots of good questions.

Diamond Hour teleconference today! 6pm PST
(724) 444-7444
Call ID: 77111

Free teleconference: Change your life, beat stress, improve fitness, write a book a year--all in an hour a day!
3/24 6pmPST:
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Obama Plays the Mindful Long Game

Whether or not Obama has a formal meditation, he does have ritual: every morning he plays basketball. Images of his play suggest that he enters an intense, focused flow state, and physical flow is one of the most powerful states of mind available to the secular mind--"runner's high" is an aspect of this, and it propagates outward to other mental and emotional activities. I think it is his "mindfulness" practice, or at least one aspect of it: strategy, tactics, teamwork, balance, grace under pressure--a sport can be a form of yoga, just as martial arts or formal asana can lead to deep quiet and revelation. Attended to seriously, life itself presents all the lessons we need to grow. And sport, as coaches tell players a thousand times a day, is a metaphor for life.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Hey Men - Don't You Dare Blame Sandra Bullock for Jesse James Cheating!

I was told by a friend, the aunt of Jesse James' previous wife, that Bullock stole him away while said wife was pregnant. The precise words were "husband stealing skank." If this is true, then good old Sandy got exactly, precisely what she deserved, and was stupid to expect him to behave differently. He is still a toad, but she is a toadette.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Sensory motor amnesia": the cocoon of emotion or fatigue that numbs our bodies. The good news is that it is made of energy. Unravel it!

Why Is Happiness So Unhappy?

I absolutely know it is possible to be content, and happy in life. I am. But that doesn't mean "happy all the time"--not sure I believe that, and have certainly never seen it, although I've known some extraordinary people. "For all practical purposes" is the missing phrase here. Taking your attention off your own concerns, through service, is a terrific idea, but if happiness is the core concern it is a good idea to start with that sense of happiness, and self-love, reckoning to fill your cup to overflowing so that others can be nourished by your inner spring. My very favorite exercise for this: meditating by listening to your heartbeat. One must be still, and quiet, to feel the blood pulsing in your veins. Not only is this a fabulous general meditation, but connecting to our hearts forces us to process much old painful emotional garbage. Remove the sewage, and what remains is love, and joy, and a sense of wonder about all of life.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Ask me any question you want tomorrow, 3/24 6pmPST:
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Why I'm not gloating

Why I'm not gloating about Health Care

Lots of reasons. I am happy that my President got this through, even though it is a clumsy, cludgy patchwork in comparison to the elegance of what I would have wanted: a Medicare +10% buy in, leading to an expansion until all these overlapping health systems connect.

My logic was clear, and I put it out at the beginning, for good or ill: life span, infant mortality rate, and cost per capita OR percentage of GNP. So far as I could see, every country that beat us on these measures uses a nationalized system. Biggest pool, no profit? Seems to be a no-brainer.


But as we saw, there are intelligent, honorable people who disagreed with these judgements, on numerous grounds:

1) The belief that nationalized health care (NHC) would lead to diminished medical research.

2) Or decreased quality of care in some specific disease instances

3) That it would expand government dangerously.

If there are others I saw and considered worthy of respect (if not agreement) I apologize, I really do. I had a very serious problem with the fact that the majority (not the educated, reasonable folks on this forum) of individuals or pundits I heard speaking about this issue, or actually engaged in conversation, seemed totally unaware that the mass of the rest of the world uses such a system. The common trope seems to be that it will cost gigantic amounts (when the actual result is a lowered cost) or is some kind of experiment (when it has been tested thoroughly). That was genuinely bothersome, as if the anti-NHC position was dependent upon carefully maintained ignorance.

Couldn't be true--there were reasonable arguments against it. I literally never heard MY issues addressed by Right-wing media, which troubles me greatly.

What troubled me more was the fact that part of this was, quite clearly, sheer political theater: from the Right the avowed attempt to make this Obama's "Waterloo." From the Left, ultimately, the urge to get SOME kind of bill through, however flawed, with a commitment to fix it as we go. That if we didn't, this would be used by political opponents to cripple an entire political agenda. The intent seems to me to be: obstruct obstruct, keep anything elegant and reasonable from going through, and then criticize whatever crippled mess emerges as if that was the original intent.

And to a degree, it works! If you look at media on the Left, it is clear that a huge swath of 'em considers Obama a total sell-out to the Right, while forces on the Right consider this a total movement toward some kind of totalitarian Socialist nightmare. Wow. I hate politics, I really do.

The frantic, panicked ugliness of the Tea Party set, predictably racist in their rhetoric, is the leading edge of the ugly pushing by demagogues who know that this has been tried around the world, and don't seem to want to discuss that (I'm not implying that the discussion would be determinative--conversation on this blog proves that is not true. I merely state amazement that those core issues are so seldom addressed. Perhaps I am naive.)

They are terrified of the changes going on. And, yes, that a black man is in the White House, and that women are taking power. The code words are all over the place, and it is sad. But these are our brothers and sisters, and if I consider them wrong on this issue, so be it. We've been wrong too, every one of us.

What I believe is that this will get tinkered with to create State-level Opt-in programs that slowly eat away at the power of insurance companies until they no longer offer much primary health care--they primarily offer Cadillac plans. There was no way to do that directly: to fight the Republicans, Conservatives, AND the Insurance industry and Big Pharma at the same time would have been impossible. So it got splintered, and the Dems didn't take the bait of "let's start over." I agree that they could not. Feel pain that this was as far as we could get, but think you can't measure the strength of an airplane's engines unless you grasp the strength of the headwinds. I said once that I think Obama is the smartest guy I've ever seen on the national political stage. I don't know if that will translate into being a good president, I really don't. I think that against staggering opposition, he got the ball across the goal line--dirty, muddy, and bruised up, but it's there.

But I won't discount the fear and concern from the other side. Even the Birther insanity is just an expression of raw fear and loss of privilege. I feel sad for those who cannot adapt...and pray that things settle down. This bill is too late to save my mother's life. I feel nothing to gloat about, but much to be proud of in our country. The exact same pioneer/independent spirit that empowered this country has, in my mind, been hijacked by Corporatists who want to hold onto every scrap of money as long as they can, and fund perfectly reasonable Americans to promote splinter ideas that, in the aggregate, try to promote the idea that "government doesn't do anything right" when, bizarrely, usually the standards held up to prove governments don't work are...other government programs. I love the way people trying to prove our schools can't work generally compare them to schools in other countries, as if unconscious that those schools, outperforming our own, are collective programs.

Sigh. This is all so messy. I don't like it, but suppose I chose a hell of a time to start paying attention to Politics. We'll see what happens now. But for those on the Left unhappy--I ask that you look at the way the Right is raving and foaming, and realize THAT was the opposition. And to those on the Right who think we just went off a Socialist cliff--will you please listen to the real Socialists and realize that they are very close to thinking Obama a traitor? This legislation went right down the middle, not far enough in my book, but I am troubled by how few people seem to see that. I may be wrong, but if I'm right, there is a lot of waking up to do, on both sides.

I see nothing to gloat about.