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AdLib On December - 16 - 2009

Supermassive_Black_HoleTaken one by one, many of the troubling events we’re confronting at this moment in our civilization may have specific causes that appear unique.

However, when viewed as a whole, the killing of true health care reform, the bailout that helped banks but not citizens,  the hatred and racism driving the anti-Obama crowd, the disaster of going to war in Iraq and the consequences there, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the blocking of environmental actions to save our very planet…

…taken together, one can see a pattern of selfishness. A greed for self-gratification that has eaten away compassion and empathy from the souls of many people.

A hole has developed in their souls, right where the conscience of a human being should be.

As a society, we have been and are continually being conditioned to be selfish. Our TVs browbeat us to gratify ourselves by eating fatty burgers and sugary sodas, buying new TVs, cars and clothes even though the ones we have are fine, popping a pill to get erections and using lubricants to make us orgasm better, doing our part to fight a war by going to the mall and hate people because they dare to think differently than us.

This selfishness is being used to prevent people who love each other from getting married, women having control over their own bodies and people to be judged by their actions and the content of their character instead of the color of their skin.

Something is missing, many can feel it out there, the lack of something that should be there among us and  in our society.

Along the way, unbridled capitalism and corporate proliferation generously offered to give us all permission to be self-centered and worship greed and other self-gratifications…and as a nation we accepted that offer.

As the old saying goes, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

Corporations have no soul and they have become our role models in society. What is gradually lost along the way by those who run and respect the corporation is what makes humans noble and worthy creatures. Empathy. Compassion. Charity. Genrosity. Self-sacrifice.

There is a bit of irony that this time of year is considered  a time of giving and love. In the midst of this period, politicians, corporations and countries have acted with intransigent and destructive selfishness.

Let us begin with The Grinch Who Stole Healthcare, Joe Lieberman. One man, with no other conceivable motivation than greed, selfishness and spite, justifies in his own mind that the insurance company money and emotional self-gratification he receives from thwarting those he harbors animosity towards, outweigh the financial oppression of millions of people for the foreseeable future, including those he is supposed to represent.

Now that Lieberman has selfishly grabbed what he wanted for himself, word is Ben Nelson has swooped in to be the next pig at the trough, insisting on forcing anti-abortion provisions on a nation of 300 million people or preventing that same amount of Americans from any health care reform.

On another front in the War Against Conscience, Citibank just announced it is “repaying” $20 billion in TARP bailout money. At the same time, as part of the process, it was announced today that Citibank is receiving a $38 billion tax reduction deal that amounts to around a $14 billion windfall for them.

My daughter is in 1st grade and even she can do the math. They borrow $20 billion, pay back $20 billion then get to keep $14 billion they would have had to pay in taxes (the $14 billion they don’t pay is $14 billion more federal debt for taxpayers). This is the gratitude corporations (CEOs) are capable of towards those who saved their life. Robbing from them as much as they can grab.

The summit on Global warming in Copenhagen has become deadlocked because of several reasons, all selfish.

China is refusing to commit to new standards because of greed, it’s afraid of anything interfering with the money their economy is generating for the privileged few.

The greedy energy companies in the U.S. have so polluted Congress with money, the U.S. can’t commit to reducing greenhouse gasses because it can’t depend on Congress to pass such legislation in a timely way…or at all.

The wealthy Western nations don’t want to financially help the poorer nations reduce CO2 and other pollutions. Apparently, when the planet and the future of civilization is at stake, there needs to be a cost benefit analysis.

Next is the stoking of racism and hatred towards Pres. Obama and the Progressive movement being whipped up by those who are selfish, power-hungry and greedy.

All the Fox talking heads and Rush Limbaugh stoke the flames of hostility because it is generating more ad revenue than ever and giving them more power over the thoughts and actions of more people.

Nevermind that it is undermining democracy, inspiring nutjobs to shoot abortion doctors, threaten the life of our nation’s president and other politicians, inspiring virulent racism, antisemitism and White Power movements…it’s making them a lot of money and giving them power over those desperate enough and ignorant enough to be manipulated in this way.

Those participating in the hatred are also being horribly selfish by choosing denial over accepting uncomfortable truths.

With a Bible clutched in one hand and a gun in the other, they decry such a description. They don’t want to admit that they’ve been wrong in their loyalty to corporations, the GOP, greed and the fallacy that they would someday be a millionaire.  Admitting that for their entire adult lives they were wrong about such a core belief, wouldn’t be a very satisfying feeling.

So, they instead scream at town halls and hatefests to gratify their need to express their anger at the way their lives have turned out. They do so in the basest, most reptilian brained way which is far more satisfying than practicing self-discipline and holding back fierce emotions in a reasoned discussion.

Lastly, there are the “I-want-what-I-want-and-I-want-it-now-or-I-hate-you” Democrats who so selfishly demand the gratification of seeing everything they want Obama to do, done now or they “hate” him for not fully gratifying them.

Yet, when they take their kids to the toy store and their kids throw fits screaming, “I WANT IT!”, these people no doubt discipline them explaining, “You can’t have everything you want!”

Yet, they exhibit that same selfish and immature “all or nothing” mentality. Obama is good if he gives them all they want when they want it or he is bad if he doesn’t.

Perspective is lost on the self-centered, they only view people and situations as fully gratifying them or being a failure at fully gratifying them. The variations between those two absolutes seem to escape them.

It seems to me that this “hole in the soul” is at the root of much of what keeps the world and our society from progressing and doing the right thing. The more we’ve progressed technologically and economically, the more we seem to lose of our humanity.

In the end, it is only our humanity that will rescue and redeem us from our many plights. People dying or going bankrupt because of our health care system, an unjust and oppressive economic system that is destroying the middle class, global warming that threatens havoc throughout the planet, the epidemic of division and hatred along political lines, the undermining of the Progressive agenda under this president by people in his own party…things simply can’t continue as they are without terrible prices to be paid.

If people and their leaders can’t come together by leaving their self-interests at the door and mapping a path that is best for the majority in the long term, then Progressives and Conservatives will be the equivalent of two pilots fighting over who gets to steer the plane as it nosedives into the ground.

It’s time to fill that hole in our national and global soul with wisdom, compassion and vision.

And it better happen completely and within the next month or I’m going to be really pissed off.

Categories: Featured, Observations, Society

Written by AdLib

My motto is, "It is better to have blogged and lost hours of your day, than never to have blogged at all."

183 Responses so far.

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  1. Emerald1943 says:

    Hole in the soul indeed! The hole got decidedly larger as corporations took over more and more of our government…and it grew exponentially when GWB was in power. The individual means nothing…the money is everything. The corporation is all-powerful!

    There is no way Americans can plead ignorance to the plight of third-world nations as well as some of our own people…grinding poverty, thousands of children dying of starvation and preventable diseases every day around the world, rape used as a weapon of war, and exploitation of the poor and working classes in sweat shops, declining wages and rising prices, the homeless living under bridges, children going to bed hungry each night even in the heart of the greatest nation in the history of the world!

    There has been so much talk about American “exceptionalism” which is so much bullshit! If we were so “exceptional”, we would not allow these situations to prevail. But we can do nothing because, Dog forbid, the stock market won’t take it so well. We can’t have help for people to save their homes, we can’t feed the children, we can’t pay decent wages, we can’t have health care because it costs too much…but there always seems to be plenty of money when the military-industrial complex comes calling on Congress to fund their latest mega-weapon system!

    The soul of this country is dying….and the corporations are killing it! Can we stop it from happening? I continue to hold on to that “hope” that President Obama gave us last year. I write, blog, talk to anyone that will listen, and donate what little I can…just a drop in the bucket! We have to stick together and keep pushing for humanitarian issues to take over the front burner and push the corporations off of it!

  2. Jenuwin says:

    another eloquent article, ad lib!

  3. choicelady says:

    I have absolutely HAD IT! Now Michelle Bachmann and her band of thugs are having a ‘prayercast’ to pray to God to stop “government take over of health care”!!!!! Give me a break -- this is the fudamental Hole in the Soul we’ve been discussing! How DARE they pretend to be Christian when all they are is theiving robber barons and their lackeys????? They care nothing for the American public and the uninsured. They have their stinking, dirty hands out for insurance corporation money and justify it all by deciding that ordinary people are poor because THEY HAVE BEEN DISOBEDIENT TO THE RICH!!!!

    I HAVE ABSOLUTELY HAD IT! To quote Charlie Brown -- Aaaarrrghgghhhh!

    • kesmarn says:

      c’lady and all…at last, good evening. I’ve spent the last hour reading through today’s wonderful posts. What a lot to process in the “remains of the day.” (Spent the day taking care of sick folks, but not at work. Family. Everyone seems to be stable at the moment. Care-giver, however, is feeling a bit weary.)

      But to get back to c’lady’s very justified outrage: I think we’ve all had it! I sincerely hope the American people have had it, and are starting to see the hypocrisy of the phony Christians on the right.

      The really sinful thing that seems to be going on is the conflation of Religion with patriotic sentiment (ONLY for the United States, a.k.a. God’s Chosen) with Capitalism. These people have managed to convince the gullible and ignorant that:
      a.) To be American is to be Christian.
      b.) To be other than Christian is to be anti-American.
      c.) To be anti-American is to sin.
      d.) To be an American Christian is to be a member of God’s Elect.
      e.) To be American is to be a Capitalist.
      f.) To oppose Capitalism is to oppose America
      g.) To oppose Capitalism is to oppose Christianity, even Christ himself.
      h.) To criticize anything about America is to offend God.
      i.) America was meant to be a Christian nation and is destined by God to be the dominant force in the world.
      j.) To oppose American domination of the world is to be anti-Christian and un-patriotic.
      k.) God bestows wealth and power upon the Godly, as a sign of His divine favor.
      l.) Poverty is not ever a desirable condition. There is nothing good about poverty (even voluntary poverty). Poverty is always the fault of the person who is poor.
      m.) All other religions are inferior to Christianity.
      n.) All other countries are inferior to the United States.
      o.) All other economic systems are inferior to Capitalism.
      p.) All the resources of the world belong to Christians, especially American Christians.
      q.) The Republican Party is the champion of Christianity and Capitalism.
      r.) The Republican Party is God’s chosen party.
      s.) To be other than Republican is to be unGodly.

      You just want to run around, shaking people by the lapels and saying “Wake up!!”

      I say this, of course, as I’m just about to go to bed. 😮

      • escribacat says:

        Wow, Kesmarn — what an excellent breakdown of the mentality of the right wing. Really scary — as scary as the Taliban.

        • kesmarn says:

          Thanks for your kind words, e’cat. Unfortunately I have relatives who believe “all of the above.” Love ’em, but the term “Christian Taliban” does come to mind.

    • escribacat says:

      choicelady, One gets the impression you don’t like Michelle Bachmann. I have a theory about her. I think she is related to Marshal Applewhite of Heaven’s Gate (remember the people who killed themselves so they could go catch the Hale Bopp comet). Compare these pictures of him to pictures of Michelle Bachmann

      Applewhite:
      ” alt=”applewhite” />

      Bachmann
      ” alt=”bachmann” />

      • Emerald1943 says:

        It’s definitely the “eyes”! Has anyone noticed that Sarah Palin has that same look??? I don’t think that it’s something in the water.

        I happened to see an article over at HP this morning that stated that Bachmann’s family had received more than $250,000 in Farm Subsidies. She repeatedly bashes all that “government spending” until her turn in line comes around…then the greedy paws are out there! What a bimbo, albeit a dangerous one…set for some committee chair in Congress.

      • boomer1949 says:

        Ha, ha, ha! Seriously though, she is not of this world. It’s in the eyes; they’re cult eyes.

        A more simplistic definition…3 fries short of a Happy Meal.

      • choicelady says:

        escribacat -- that is an absolute howl! Thank you for making me laugh!!! I would never have figured that out myself. You are definitely ON to something!

        Do you recall the Peanuts cartoon when Charlie Brown found Linus with his eyes all wide and asked Linus what he was doing? Linus said he was practicing to be a fantatic. And not JUST a fanatic -- a wild EYED fanatic!

        That would be these two and their ilk. Un-freaking-believeable. Can we be made safe from these dangerously wacko people? I’m not sure we can.

  4. Bernard Marx says:

    Excellent article thanks. It reminds me of a Leonard Cohen lyric:

    “give me crack and anal sex
    take the only tree that’s left
    and stuff it up the hole
    in your culture”

  5. bitohistory says:

    While this talk is so comforting does it get on the TeeVees? are most of us not guilty of siting tapping away? Why were the last two political races lost (VA&NJ)? Do we take to streets anymore? Do we knock on the doors? do we do the simple thing of GOTV? Do we even know who our prescient committee person is? Do we attend party meetings? Are you involved in the party of your choice?
    I will say this again: liberals blog--coserves. GOTV.

    • boomer1949 says:

      b’to,

      Of course it doesn’t. Why? I’m afraid good things aren’t tabloid “journalism”, don’t up ratings, and to be be perfectly honest (no offense intended) none of the BIG WIGS really give a rat’s a$$. Why? Because the BIG WIGS are and have been contributing to members of Congress since Hector was a pup.

      They all own each other in some way, shape or form.

      Do they care about anyone else? Heck no. They’re laughing all the way to the bank, doing a couple of laps (definitely not for the Koman Race for the Cure), then doing it again, and again. All for publicity and nothing more.

      I mentioned the Koman Race for the Cure as an example of commitment to the lives and well-being of women (or ANYONE) around the world. In the last 2 years Columbus, OH has lost to extraordinary, dedicated and valiant women to breast cancer. Between the two of them, Heather Pick and Stephanie Spielman left two (2) spouses and six (6) children. Google either or both of their names, and yes, Stephanie was married to Chris Spielman, OSU Buckeye and NFL player who gave up his career to be with his wife and kids.

      Heather and Stephanie were very, very good friends, and each video taped the other so their children would remember them for how they were a year or two ago and not how they were in the end when each of them was so very ill.

      It will take an enormous amount of evidence, action, and humility to convince me any of our elected representatives in Washington could/would/or choose to do what is right and not what is politically advantageous to his/her career.

      I have written to the White House and my dear Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) more times in the last 12 months than any other time since I have been able to vote.

      I know Senator Brown receives my mail because I receive responses. Love our President, but so far I’ve yet to hear a word; not his fault because someone reviews his email/letters/and anything else long before it (maybe) reaches his desk. Perhaps I was naive to think anything I have written would ever actually arrive in his hands.

      On the other hand, I have Senator Brown (D-OH) and, if all else fails, I’m writing to Michelle. At least I know her voice will be the last voice he hears before he falls asleep.

      Pillow talk does have its advantages.

    • AdLib says:

      Well said, we can’t grow complacent or think that we’re doing something by criticizing those who do nothing.

      I would say that after reading the posts of many of our members, many here are people whose actions speak as loud as their words.

      But we can’t become complacent, indeed.

      • Hopeington says:

        I was contemplating this complacency today AdLib, so many of my friends ask me to please be quiet, they are burnt out and don’t want to hear about it.
        The only way I can get some to “engage” is to give me their email addresses and they let be sign petitions and things for them, I’ve got a list of 10 people. These are working folks who put in a good deal of time during the elections, holding house parties and traveling as far as Nevada to knock on doors.
        I think part of the GOP tactic is to wear people out so they just turn their backs and go on. Most say they’re not seeing the return for their effort.

        • boomer1949 says:

          Hope,

          Sometimes it is easier to feel defeated and toss in the towel. Everyone reacts differently, especially those having their expectations set much to high.

          I guess I did as well, but then when I witnessed the blatant obstructionism of the GOP and the blatant wishy-washy behavior of Senator Eyore Lieberman (I-CT) (okay I surrender, the blatant “playing both sides against the middle” behavior), I realized these guys were in it for their benefit…not mine…not yours…not anyone else but themselves. It’s sad, disgusting, disheartening, and down right wrong.

          Selfishness and greed are a product of ones environment; people learn this by example (you know the old nature vs nurture thing). Of course, those South of the Mason-Dixon are at an additional disadvantage, but this is a whole other topic and post for another day.

          I will say, however, that I believe, deep down in my heart of hearts, that if the occupant of the White House were White and not African-American, we would be having an entirely different conversation, if one at all.

        • AdLib says:

          We do have to hold Reid responsible for his running of the Senate with this Dem majority.

          What has happened in the Senate has discouraged even the most faithful Dem.

          When the Repubs held just a slim majority, they slammed through and used reconciliation to get everything they wanted.

          I sincerely hope Reid loses his election and someone more capable takes over in the Senate. Even with less Dems, someone with a spine could get more done than this weak and clueless milquetoast.

          • Emerald1943 says:

            I totally agree! Let’s hear it for Senate Leader Al Franken!!

          • choicelady says:

            Where is the Dem version of the “nuclear option”??? We have a huge majority and are pissing it away. What the hell is ALWAYS wrong with the Dems? They are cowards and cannot stand up to pressure, but I don’t understand WHY. What’s going on? Do the Family members have something on them? Well so what? compared to the Republicans’ fall from grace, the Dems look like Boy Scouts. The HAVE to grow a spine!

            • AdLib says:

              It’s a four lettered word…R-E-I-D.

              His track record is one of weakness, concession and failure.

              As you say, all the tools the Repubs had when controlling the Senate, the Dems have.

              Including a tool named Reid.

            • AdLib says:

              Boomer, what was that saying about Reids bending in the wind? Or was it bending over?

            • boomer1949 says:

              AdLib,

              Four letters = WIMP.

      • Kalima says:

        All I can do and will continue to do is be a voice of encouragement when things look as if they might spin off the rails. I hope that it’s enough from afar.

        • boomer1949 says:

          PS -- got it! Back at you. 🙂

        • boomer1949 says:

          Bless you my dear. Good afternoon, but good night as well. Must call it a night. My alarm is set to go off in 6.5 hours.

          Love all of you, but damn :-), I did this 20-30 years ago. On the other hand, thank you. I’m sleeping better.

          Thanks for making the wheels turn in the old brain, allowing me to say my two cents, but more important, your acceptance. 🙂

          • kesmarn says:

            Good night, boomer. Your two cents’ worth is always priceless.

          • Kalima says:

            Good night boomer and sweet dreams.

            Oh ok, I’ll go and take a peek. 🙂

            Less of the “old” please, I don’t think that your age is old in the least, maybe it might have been about 100 years ago. Rest well.

  6. KQuark says:

    Folks we need a shift of the political center in this country not more polarization of extremes. If the left splits off to a far left party and disengages from the big tent Democratic Party it will just leave a more conservative center. I wish I could draw it in a diagram because it’s easier to make my point visually.

    • choicelady says:

      I do agree with you KQuark. This debate has raged since at least the 60s. Only a couple of times have party splits resulted in the formation of a much stronger challenger, and it would not happen well today I think. We do need to bring the Dems back to the Center and away from the Right -- first step, get rid of Stupak who is The Family AND is merely masquerading as a Dem. But we have to have principles, and one of them is putting people before profits. Too many Dems believe in the unfettered free market, think government itself is suspect, and really are hooked into the global market system, damn the consequences to Americans. Health care is a no-brainer: we are NOT so damned “exceptional” that we should abandon ALL efforts at an efficient, government-run system.

      But we have allowed our kids to be ill educated (and that’s NOT merely an accident -- the powers that were did not want another 60s generation of thinking, questioning people) and too many of the rest of us got too complacent about our own household security -- until it all fell apart, and now we forget how to be assertive.

      It took the Reeps 20 years to build their strength -- we moved back in about 6 years, but we were not really ready to govern. We have no discipline, we are so used to being outsiders and critics we don’t know how to be assertively in control. Progressives have remained outside, too good to get their hands dirty, and we have to come together. We must. Splinters don’t win, don’t influence, don’t move anything. We need to be respectful of our differences but willing to share common visions, goals, work, and society. I don’t know if we can.

    • Khirad says:

      I can visualize it, albeit abstractly, but I can see it all the same.

    • escribacat says:

      KQ — You are absolutely right. No diagram needed…our center is far more to the right than the center of the other developed nations. How did that happen? We’re not really so different from them. We can’t possibly blame it all on Reagan, can we?

      • choicelady says:

        I’d be willing to TRY! But it really began with Carter who started deregulation and the move to the global economy, without regard to the consequences to the nation. He may be a great EX president, but he was a disater for very different reasons from what history is judging him for. He laid the ground for Reagan and the Republican revoltion of the 90s. Clinton capitulated as well. Where IS the Democratic vision any more? Since when is it evil to care about PEOPLE before PROFITS?

    • aBigSigh says:

      I certainly agree.

    • AdLib says:

      Agreed KQ, that was my point below to WTS. A 3rd party that slices Progressives off from Dems would guarantee a GOP lock on the presidency.

      As I mentioned, the only way this could conceivably work is to have two parties added at once, each drawing from one of the two existing parties.

      But the chances of that happening as it would have to would be astronomical.

      • KQuark says:

        Why would the two parties collected at once join together?

        It sounds to me like we have two parties with the Democrats already.

        What parties do you have in mind?

        • AdLib says:

          I’m just speaking hypothetically, the only constructive way to start another party serving the majority would be to counter balanced the desertions it creates from the Dems with a right wing party that similarly draws from the GOP or the majority would end up split and dominated by the right wing minority.

          So, you would need a Majority Rules Party and a Teabagger Party to start up at the same time.

          The Teabaggers were looking like they might be starting up their twisted version of a populist party but their ignorance is spilling into their organizational abilities and they seem to be falling apart.

          Too bad, I would really like to see that happen to hamstring the Repubs and open the door for a legit populist party.

          • KQuark says:

            WOW I just don’t see any part of progressive Dems and the GOP forming a party just because both are made at Wall Street.

            What about the other 100 issues?

            • AdLib says:

              Sorry, I wasn’t clear. I was trying to describe two separate parties creating themselves coincidentally at the same time.

              A 3rd party, say a Teabagger Party comes into being and then later a 4th party comes into being, A Progressive Party.

              This is not likely. My point is, if a 3rd party started that mainly drew its members from one party, the other party would have a lock…even if it represented a minority of voters.

            • boomer1949 says:

              Half of each would need to kick the bucket…

            • aBigSigh says:

              Which would leave us with 2 parties.

  7. bitohistory says:

    FYI: on KO’s show tonight, he is going to have “special comment” on HC. He can get quite passionate with his comments, esp. about HC.

    • AlphaBitch says:

      Hey Bito:

      Just watched it while I ate dinner. Have a tad “bit’o” indigestion now. All this is just making me depressed. I’m usually the Pollyanna in the room. Now I feel like just ripping the fucking prisms off the wall, and cramming them in that mean old ladies patooty. My “fight or flight” instinct is kicking in -- either go to the dirt, or run away. Just sitting here, watching, waiting is making me nutso. Patience never was my strong suit…

      I agree with Keith. I think I’ll just write “Fuck You” on any mandated health insurance notice. Jail would at least provide some government provided insurance, no? And if locked up, I think I’ll start smoking, something I vowed never, ever, ever to do……..

      • Hopeington says:

        Hey Alpha B, hate to bust your bubble, they banned smoking in prisons a while back, jail too, and their health care sucks, take it from me, I know, my seizure son was in the jail and I had to go down there all the time and fight for him to get proper care.

        • AlphaBitch says:

          Ah, Hope! I’m so sorry. I think what I have learned the most here is that we are all in this together, each with our own challenges. Part of -- oh, I don’t know -- the same PLANET perhaps??

          Dang…..I figured jail and ciggies were a fair trade in exchange for going postal Pollyanna. What now??? Jail alone holds such little appeal to me.

  8. SueInCa says:

    I feel your pain and anger, Adlib. I recently read a book called “A Quiet Belief in Angels” One passage that I read in the book really hit me and I was able to see more clearly where we are headed. It does not matter if the quote was made up by the author, what matters is in his own way he pretty much summed up where we have been heading ever since WWII. Basically the quote said, “technology is a wonderful thing and it will take this country far, however with technology comes responsibility for what you design with it. When a nation takes advantage of that technology to create a bomb that will destroy a whole city, it will be the beginning of the end for that nation.” The bulk of our new technology has happened over the past 50 years, and look what we have done with it, MSM that is more interested in talking Tiger Woods or Michael Jackson to death than practicing real investigative journalism. Religions who want to put themselves in the middle of government but then want the government out of their lives. We live in a nation of hypocrits, every man for themselves. When you look at a certain website, the comments there make that very clear.

    I think what the author meant was that once you are able to absolutely destroy a city or a country with one drop, and you are not condemned, you decide you can take it further and further. Our infrastructure is crumbling, our education system is in crisis, we are not caring for our planet, yet we still continue to fight two wars, everyone has something to say about something, but it is almost like we have lost our sense of responsibility to take action. We just experienced the biggest fraud ever in the history of this country and they all got away with it. Where exactly did all those losses go on Wall Street? The banks have not written them off and anyone with half a brain knows the 700 billion was a drop in the bucket. So where did the losses go? The Fed knows and so do the politicians in Washington.

    • AdLib says:

      I think technology has pacified people. Watching tv, playing Wii, even using the computer, we use all this technology to feel we are “doing” something when we’re not.

      I will take exception when it comes to blogging though, the exchange of ideas and the building of a community that can take action is doing something.

      But take for an example, the online role playing games like Second Life. People invest huge amounts of their free time in a virtual scenario…which in the end…is totally worthless and meaningless.

      They could have been spending time with their kids, planting a garden, reading a book, exercising or playing a physical game, thinking and writing about something meaningful (shameless plug), helping someone in need, etc.

      Technology = passivity.

      Unless it’s put in it’s place. Technology is fantastic for networking, look at how it worked for the Obama campaign.

      But by growing accustomed to pushing buttons or touching screens to “accomplish” things, we become less familiar with the simple act of walking on a street with a picket sign in hand.

  9. Kalima says:

    The sadness is in the truth of it, there is no denying the fragile state of our shared world and the fact that too many people never learn anything from their mistakes and the mistakes of others.

    These year end holidays are always so sad for me, leave me with a heavy heart as I reflect on the events of the year that is ending, and try to find hope in the shadows growing darker as we move away from understanding, communication and love for our fellow human beings. Kindness costs us nothing, it makes us richer in every way, it soothes the restless soul.

    Two quotes from Mahatma Gandhi.”

    • escribacat says:

      Both excellent quotes, Kalima. Simple rules to follow. Who needs a whole book?

    • AlphaBitch says:

      Kalima: I just reminded my Afghan boy (who I hope to have write here soon) about that quote; he had used it when working on a big project. I have given ALL my relatives, my Afghan man-child/boy, and several friends gift certificates for Kiva with that very quote on it. The $25 I gave them this year can go on and on and on, doing good for many families throughout the world. It’s a simply way to carry out that very quote. Thank you for reminding me! Now if I can just locate those prisms I ripped off the wall……..

      • Kalima says:

        That is so wonderful AB, kindness brings rewards in so many ways.

        A simple quote from a simple man, a very clever man we could all learn from in this day and age.

        Thank you again for all you do, I would love to be able to contribute.

        • AlphaBitch says:

          In all years past, we let everyone choose the charity they wished to support, and we either chose Heifer or Arghand to support with their gift donations. With the world as it is today, with so much suffering, we decided to choose the charity FOR them, and THEY get to choose the project. My husband lost his job in September, and even though we are fine, we are living much more cautiously now. Hard to find a way that you can truly, truly believe that $25 can make a REAL difference. Kiva is a great organization, and if you let the loan ride after it is repaid, it can be put towards another project, then another, then another -- and so on. So one little amount can help so many. It’s hard to find businesses that can really change someone’s life that can be “built” for $1500 or so. Have you ever checked out Kiva? Just go look at it…..it’s truly inspirational.

          And Kalima, thanks to you, AdLib, KQuark and KevenSeven -- you are the original four for this amazing place, right? Each person here IS a gift to me. So look at all the contributions you guys make every day! Even if I can’t write something, it helps me to come and peek in, just to see some really smart people discuss some really hard topics. Thank you a million times over for giving us this place, and to all those who make these few stolen moments on the computer all the more special.

          • Kalima says:

            Thanks for the information, I’ll go to check it out.

            Thank you, but everyone who comes and comments or writes posts here are the backbone of our Planet, we are very happy that you have found a place to call “home.”

    • AdLib says:

      “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

      What other solution or response could be as perfect as that to all I addressed? It’s all we can do, it’s the most we can do.

    • bitohistory says:

      Good morning Kalima,
      “Kindness costs us nothing, it makes us richer in every way, it soothes the restless soul.”
      {{tears}}

      • Kalima says:

        Good evening bito. I can’t think of anything more special than doing something for someone in need, even if it was just helping an elderly person with their shopping bags to cross the street. The look in their eyes carried me on for the next few days.

        Kindness is such a simple gesture, we have it as small children, then some of us lose it on the way to adulthood or maybe never had it at all.

        • bitohistory says:

          Kalima, Kindness to strangers almost seems to be difficult in these days. During shopping today,I was reminded of this fact. A simple “hello” “Good sale” ” Tomatoes look good” are often reacted with a look of “why are you speaking to me?”
          I don’t stop trying to show some simple simple conversation, kindness, if you will, to fellow humans.
          During my worst times, I have had people slam my cane or walker. What is this rudeness? It does not stop me, but it does make me wonder.

          My brain is not working( for the last few days) so I will say goodnight. (i am looking FORWARD to my blood work-up and visit to the clinic 🙂 )
          good night , all.

          • Kalima says:

            Yes I know it is much harder than it used to be, I had a crazy afternoon on Tuesday when a few people almost knocked me to the floor, cane, limp and all but I’ve bounced back now. I will never meet these people again I’m sure and will still try to be what I’ve always been.

            Good luck at the clinic, take care and good night.

    • SueInCa says:

      I think most of us here feel as you do. It is hard when you are the only one in a crowd that asks the difficult questions. Ridicule is standard these days for anyone who has the audacity to think deeper.

  10. escribacat says:

    Okay, Adlib. The problems you describe in your wonderful essay are just too overwhelming for me. I cannot fix the world, the country, the many devastating flaws in the human race. For me, that way lies madness. True madness.

    What seems doable to me is to make sure my tiny corner of the universe is “clean.” I must realize my own errors and do what I can to fix them. I must bring in light where I perceive darkness (thinking back to Cher’s essay about Hanukkah). I must help where I can, pitch in, encourage others, give a hug or a donation or a smile.

    I live fairly simply and don’t buy the new TV, the new car, the new clothes and appliances when the old ones are still good. I am keenly aware that, despite all our problems in this country, we are still a helluva lot better off than the vast majority of humans on this planet. We are spoiled rotten. Most of us have no idea how good we’ve got it. At least one trip to a Third World country like Guatemala is an education every American should experience.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      That was beautiful, e’cat!It reminded me of Mother Teresa’s famous quote: “We can do no great things; only small things with great love.”

    • AdLib says:

      escribacat, your sentiment is the only solution. We have to strive to be people who aren’t so selfish and spread the gospel through deed and word.

      That’s all we can do.

      BTW, seeing things for how they are doesn’t require us to come up with a huge solution to fix it all. We Americans think that way, that evil can be defeated, democracy can be spread, etc.

      I totally agree with you, there is no big solution to this but as you describe, we can make our contribution in our own ways.

      • boomer1949 says:

        AdLib,

        Okay. I’m 60, and I’ve been for all of this for decades. Decades. Please dear, please tell me when the selfishness, greed, and lack of caring for one another will end?

        • AdLib says:

          I know you’re being facetious, of course it will never end.

          But when good people stand together to do the right thing, defeating Hitler, ending slavery, ending child labor, establishing civil rights, the selfish can be beaten back.

          And the first step in winning a fight…is recognizing that you’re in one.

  11. escribacat says:

    My understanding of that $38 billion tax break for Citibank is that they would not have to pay taxes on that amount — not that $38 billion is being lopped off the amount they must pay. So their savings is much less than that. Not that it isn’t billions and billions of dollars of course.

    • AdLib says:

      Thanks for the correction. It translates to around $14 billion. Still the U.S. gives Citibank a gift of $14 billion to get back $20 billion?

      I’d sure like a deal like that. You give me $20 bucks, I only have to pay you back $6 of it and we’re square.

      • aBigSigh says:

        By law they are allowed a loss carryforward. By this I mean, if a company experiences an operating loss in a year, they are able to take that loss, and exempt taxes on the amount of that loss in following years.

        Last year, Citi took a loss of $38 billion. By law, they are allowed to apply those losses to following years. So in short, by law, they are able to exempt future profits (up to the amount of prior operating loss: $38 billion) from taxes. Citi was guarenteed this tax break before they decided to repay TARP funds.

        The only thing that can stop the loss carryforward is if the company changes ownership. The process of Citi selling the $18.5 billion in stock, and the government’s decision to start selling $30 billion in Citi stock, is technically considered a change in ownership. Therefore, by going through with the process of paying back the government $20 billion, they would have forfeited another $14 billion in automatic tax breaks, which would have no doubt nixed their effort to pay back the TARP loans.

        So the government allowed them to keep the tax break that they were guarenteed if they didn’t pay back the TARP loans, and in the process protected the governments own investment of $30 billion they own in common stock.

        • PepeLepew says:

          Hello, BigSigh.

        • bitohistory says:

          A warm welcome home to the Planet POV, aBS.

          On your post, a bit of realism brings thought to idealism and does nothing to fairness.

        • AdLib says:

          First off, welcome to The Planet, aBigSigh!

          Here is the article that broke the news from the Washington Post. This tax break was not intended to apply during a TARP bailout situation and required the government to decide to give it in this case:

          The federal government quietly agreed to forgo billions of dollars in potential tax payments from Citigroup as part of the deal announced this week to wean the company from the massive taxpayer bailout that helped it survive the financial crisis.

          http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/15/AR2009121504534.html

          You are absolutely correct in your description of this tax provision, it was not envisioned or intended to be applied to a bank during a period of an emergency government bailout where stock was purchased and affected ownership.

          • bitohistory says:

            AdLib, intended or not not did this tax law exist before and after the TARP?

            • AdLib says:

              Yes it did though the proof that it was not intended to apply in this case is that the government had to make an agreement with Citibank that it would apply in this case.

              The U.S. took stock in Citibank for some of its bailout, this represented a change in ownership and negated the taking of this tax benefit.

              So, they made a deal as the article explains to give it to them anyway…even though the law said they couldn’t take it.

            • AdLib says:

              ABS, appreciate your take on this and your point does make sense.

              The question is should the U.S. sell off its stock at a loss today or wait since Citibank stock is rising?

              If we were to wait and realize a better return than we could get today, even with their tax benefit, then we could have not given them the tax break and just have waited a bit longer for the stock to have recovered whatever fraction of the $14 billion value would be reflected in the stock price.

              As I was pursuing in my article, I think the public would appreciate the government doing the right thing, not giving more handouts to banks just because it might put more money in the government’s pocket.

              We do want our money back, we could just wait a little longer and still exhibit principles. Rewarding greed is continuing to have a deteriorating effect on our society and this appears just to be a continuation of that.

            • aBigSigh says:

              The only trigger that stopped them from receiving the tax break would have been the selling of their stock to pay the government back. If they didn’t sell the stock, they would have been afforded this tax break.

              Now, with the government owning 38% of Citi’s stock, and with Citi’s stock losing 40% of value this year, we would have seen a large loss on our initial $25 billion investment in commmon stock (which is actually now valued at $30 billion). By going through with this deal, we are able to sell that stock immediately, or at least start selling it immediately, while getting maximum value for it. By allowing affording Citi this tax break (that they would have been afforded if they didn’t pay us back) it will automatically boost the stock price, and our own investment.

              So I’d argue that the taxpayers will actually receive a larger return with this deal, than they would have if they didn’t offer Citi this deal.

  12. whatsthatsound says:

    My personal feeling is that what is so often characterized as impatience with Obama (and called childish and selfish and even racist) is often (not always, certainly) something else entirely. It is a growing sense that without a viable third party, a truly populist party, this countries is basically doomed. It’s not simply a matter of giving President Obama more time. It is seeing the banks and financial institutions, military and insurance company, and the media, always the media, drive so much of the debate and control so many levers that there is increasingly little evidence that the Democrats and the Republicans aren’t more like Oceania and Eurasia in Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty Four”, self serving entities that seem to hate each other and are really in cahoots -- against us!
    People felt, however naively, that Obama’s election would offer convincing evidence that this was not the case. And the evidence so far has been less than convincing, assuredly.So if the choice is to continue to “have his back” and convince ourselves that Democrats are our best hope, or to begin to think outside the box about that, and envision a true anti-status quo, people-serving party for this country, then I personally feel that those who choose the latter should be respected and encouraged.

    • KQuark says:

      I think what you are describing is more societies trends towards globalization and technological progress outpacing social progress. Both these factors favor corporate consolidation to try and control our lives. I also think if you look back in history people are still better off in the industrialized world than they were before looking at history in broader strokes. We are still infants socially speaking. Some things are better in Europe but they are discontent as well evidenced by they slide back toward the center.

      The only thing where I think you are wrong about is inpatients. Inpatients drives us away from sticking with a grand strategy and promotes apathy. When I worked in research if you kept on changing goals and did not make steady progress nothing was accomplished.

      Sure we are in a new “Gilded Age” at the depth of the pendulum but we will swing back up again. Until then we have to select the best options before us. Our political system does not empower third parties, it’s just the Holy Grail.

    • AdLib says:

      First, I totally agree with you that a strong third party is desperately needed in the U.S. that reflects the popular views and vision of the citizens.

      However, I disagree with your description of those attacking Obama.

      I have seen little if any reference by Dems attacking Obama to wanting a 3rd party and frequent reference to not voting in 2012 and simply not supporting Obama and the Dem party.

      Just because people attack or voice their pulling support of Obama does not mean the inverse is true, that they are supporting any other party or candidate.

      I’m sure there are some who might feel that way but I ask you, what party are they supporting today as an alternative to Obama? What potential candidate are they supporting today instead of Obama?

      I don’t think you will find an affirmative response, only a negative one, as to whom they are not supporting.

      As for the impact of 3rd parties, George Bush was able to steal the FL election because of a 3rd party draining away just enough from Gore to allow Bush to steal the election.

      On the other hand, Ross Perot started up his 3rd party (you do kind of need a billionaire to make this happen) and for a while did very well…though never was in the lead in any poll at any time.

      You have a lot of unintended consequences and infrastructure challenges to start and have a competitive 3rd party.

      Will a 3rd party always act as a spoiler and hand a minority in the nation and right wing wackjobs the presidency?

      Imagine a populist 3rd party candidate running in 2008. Obama was the populist candidate so if a 3rd party populist candidate drew at least 8% from Obama, we would have President McCain right now presiding over The Great Depression, The Sequel.

      That is the Catch 22 of starting up a 3rd party that would attract progressives and independents, it would necessarily hobble the Dem party and hand elections to the GOP, until or unless it supplanted the Dems which I doubt it could ever do.

      Actually, we would need to have at least 4 parties, 2 new parties would need to be started at the same time, each appealing to a constituency or with some crossover from the Dems and GOP so as to diminish each somewhat equally. It would take many years for either party to overtake its parents but in that way maybe a true party of the people could emerge.

      • KQuark says:

        I think you’re wrong. A third party would look radical like they always do to the moderate center. It would not attract independents. The GOP is going down that route with their base which is almost becoming a third party and the more it swings to the right the more it scares people.

        20L 40M 30C live by that proportion. Until polls change pretty drastically toward L or C this will be a center right nation. Yes I know we don’t know we are really center left but again in this case people are living their lives by perception.

        I’ve seen it happen in the 60’s and 70’s when the left was the more radical party. It ensured Republican domination in electoral politics for almost 30 years.

        • AdLib says:

          Where do you get that breakdown from?

          Though I despised him, Ross Perot’s presidential run says something different. Many moderates were attracted to Perot because they saw him as a straight talker and had become very disillusioned with Dems and Repubs.

          If Obama was to announce in 2012 that he would run under the banner of The American Party, would moderates not follow him if they liked him before?

          Are people really loyal to a party because of the name or because of its perceived character?

          What you would need is a candidate that people already liked, then they would be open to voting for him whatever party he was in.

          • aBigSigh says:

            In the end, Ross Perot won 0 electoral votes.

            • AdLib says:

              You’re missing the point. His candidacy collapsed for a number of reasons however these were the results:

              Bill Clinton -- 43%
              George H. W. Bush -- 37.4%
              Ross Perot -- 18.9%

              For the first run at a presidency, any 3rd party would see that as huge.

              KQ was suggesting that moderates wouldn’t be attracted to a 3rd party, I think we could agree that you can’t get to 19% of voters running against the GOP and the Dems without a good deal of moderates.

          • KQuark says:

            Those numbers are from a different Gallup poll but these numbers are even worse.

            ” alt=”poll” />

            • AdLib says:

              I just don’t buy those results.

              There are more people who would call themselves conservative after the massive conservative failure of the previous 8 years?

              When only 20% of voters will call themselves Republican?

              Doesn’t make sense.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      I have several issues with Obama-- especially about his dealings with Wall Street. But I spend some time on the Huffington Post, where I read the comments of Reptilians and other Reich-wing types, and let me tell you-- there is a huge difference in the Parties!

      Do you think FDR or LBJ were the same as Hoover and Goldwater? because I don’t. I may not be as enthralled with Obama as I was-- not by a long-shot, but I know that I have real hatred towards the Right. I have seen their Christo-Fascism and want none of that for America.

      Do the Democrats take campaign bribes from big business-- yes. Are they good enough--not at all. But to me, it is not a choice between voting for the lesser of two evils; it is a choice between real evil and mediocrity. I’ll take mediocrity.

      But what I’ll also do is to continue to work for real Progressives, and to hold all Dems feet to the fire any way I can.

      That said, I would love to find a way to make my Progressive voice heard, and one way to do that is by voting a third party liberal or socialist candidate. I won’t ever do that again, though, if it had the slightest chance of putting another Reptilian in power.

      • whatsthatsound says:

        The point is not only that there is, what you say, a huge difference in the parties (I’m not sure it’s big enough to merit that description). It is also that we, as citizens, must not let that become a form of blackmail that enables the Democrats to get away with pulling crap on us. People on the other side most certainly feel the same way, that the Republicans aren’t perfect, but ANYTHING is better than those “terrible Democrats”. Thus do both parties behave like the nations in “Nineteen Eighty Four”, using the odiousness of the opposing party as an allowance to behave dreadfully. We become like frogs slowly boiling in a pond, and when some of the frogs start saying they are ready to bail on the pond and go look for another place to live, their fellow frogs tell them, “But you’ll die so much more quickly if you leave! Besides, we need you to stand with us and keep yelling at the sun so that it starts paying attention to us and treats us better!” And the bailing frogs think, “Uh, good luck with that!”

      • nellie says:

        We need instant runoff voting before third parties are viable rather than spoilers.

        • AdLib says:

          100% in agreement!

        • Chernynkaya says:

          How would that work? Would it be like you vote and then next week, vote again? That’s intriguing!

          • nellie says:

            It’s a great system because there’s no waiting. You vote for candidates by ranking them, 1st, 2nd, 3rd choice. When ballots are tabulated, if your 1st choice comes in last, your vote goes to your second choice.

            It’s an instant runoff. It’s used in several cities right now, and several states are trying to get it implemented statewide. It would have prevented the debacle of 2000.

            It’s my favorite electoral reform issue. It was big w the Green Party a few years ago.

  13. PepeLepew says:

    I saw another good quote today.
    Obama will sign a health care reform bill. It will piss off both the liberals and the conservatives …. but the liberals will eventually come around to supporting it.

    I don’t know if I 100 percent agree with that statement, but it was an interesting take on things I hadn’t thought about in that way before.

  14. Chernynkaya says:

    http://baltimorechronicle.com/2009/120809LEVINE.shtml

    The above is an article I came across just now while organizing my bookmarks. It’s about how we as citizens are too broken and demoralized to protest, and why. Worth a read, and so appropriate to what you wrote about, AdLib.

  15. Chernynkaya says:

    One of the main motivations for the return of theocracies in the Muslim world is the sense that secular governments are corrupt and behave reprehensibly. The Taliban came into power and were encouraged to do so by the populace because of the excessive corruption of the government. Same in Iran, after the Shah. I am simplifying here, but it was certainly a factor. People crave justice, fairness. They look to theocracy as a hope that at least in those institutions, morality might triumph. Sadly, power corrupts.

    • javaz says:

      Didn’t the oppression of workers and dwindling middle class and greed and selfishness of the rich prompt communism?

      And then there’s the French Revolution.

      It seems like the rich have always ruled the world.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        I’m no expert on that, but I don’t think either France or Russia had a middle-class.

        On the other hand, the Magna Carta was signed in 1215, reigning in the power of the King of England. It was the culmination of the peasant and nobles’ revolt.The Magna Carta is considered the founding document of English liberties and hence American liberties.

        We need a new Magna Carta, curbing the powers of corporations. I’m ready for revolution.

      • KQuark says:

        It sure did but also don’t forget that greed in the “Gilded Age” lead to the labor movement in England and this country.

    • KQuark says:

      That’s why the Age of Enlightenment thinkers were so incredible. The had their morality some based on faith yet they were able to refrain from adding religion to government. But then again in many ways the theocracy was the most corrupt power. Maybe the people just inherently hate and want to change corrupt systems no matter what makes them corrupt.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        The Founding Fathers were amazing-- pure genius. They knew the corrupting power of the Church, Anglican and Catholic. And I agree; people hate unfairness. Perhaps it’s part of our humanity, the pattern-making part that needs rules. Of course, in the case of theocracies, we jump from the frying pan right into hell. But I understand the impulse to try a form of government where the rules are known, spelled out and codified, as a theocracy’s is.

  16. choicelady says:

    I would like to say a word in defense of Puritans -- they were actually far less awful than we’ve been taught. They wore bright clothes, had a very relaxed pace of work (no one worked permanently for wages), and treated women well up to and including supporting their independent property rights. Most of what we think we know came from 19th-Century Victorian values. It’s those that promoted sexual repression, inequality, massive exploitation of others, and absolutely NO sense of humor (well, until Mark Twain anyway.) We are legatees of the 19th-c. mode -- subordination to capitalism, property rights over human rights, free markets triumphant, and the basic dislike of anyone different or anyone who works hard but makes less money. Puritans actually controlled the law on behalf of ordinary people even if it curtailed the power of the rich. ALL prices were regulated until 1802 in MA, and merchants were forbidden from exploiting people -- you were not legally allowed to sell things that were luxury goods if the purchaser could not pay for them. Debt was for necessities, not the Puritan equivalent of XBox. And from what I can read, sex was far from taboo, even outside marriage, but you’d better not procreate outside marriage since the child had guaranteed rights to the support from the town, and that was a hardship. N. Hawthorne LIED about the scarlet letter -- it was given for INCEST not adultry, and since one of his forebears had one, he could not bring himself to write that, so he pinned it on Hester. Not at all true. Puritans were fine with sex. It was the Victorians who were not -- got in the way of working your butt off for your boss. HL Mencken inaccurately defined Puritanism as the fear that “somewhere, somehow, someone was having a good time.” That would be the Victorians, not the Puritans! Having a good time was reserved for the rich. Period.

  17. KQuark says:

    Excellent article Adlib. It’s all part of the “greed is good” attitude this country’s citizens have had since Reagan.

    The only thing I disagree with is on the healthcare bill. Most Americans are not policy wonks and see things in black and white. Most people will only see an overhaul of the healthcare system or failure. Passing the bill is important because it will at least start to reverse the deadlock in Washington by it’s shear magnitude. I know you have a tough time seeing it now but adding $100 billion in subsidies that go to 70% of families, offering more affordable coverage to about 30 million uninsured Americans and reigning in the abuses of the private healthcare insurance business is a big deal.

    With NO bill:

    -Insurance companies can still refuse to cover people with preexisting conditions literally with things like an ingrown toenail.
    -Even after you paid you premiums for years once you really need it they can rescind you coverage for menial preexisting conditions like having a miscarriage.
    -Insurance companies can still cut your coverage at almost any time, save for some state controls.
    -There is zero portability of insurance if you change employers.
    -Insurance companies will find any way not to pay claims so they keep on paying only 70% of premiums in claims instead of 85 to 90%.
    -By the time Congress takes up healthcare insurance reform again in 15 years because Republicans will take over Congress in 2010 there will probably be about doubled the amount of the uninsured and premiums will double or more again.

    But don’t worry about the healthcare bill could be DOA now with the selfish GOP forcing the clerk to read the Sanders amendment, with selfish Nelson determined to make it an abortion bill because he is the new king maker and even with selfish Dean pushing to kill the bill (people missed the real demise of the public option when it was only going to be offered to the uninsured). President Obama was not lying to us when at the time he said the public option did not matter as much as progressives thought. It was really symbolic at that point even though it provided a crack in the system. The public option then just became a game if it’s in the bill YEAH progressives win and if it’s not BOO we lose. We were really talking about the public option being offered to only 10 million people when it could have been offered to 200 million people. There’s an old expression in chemical labs that you don’t weigh and ant with an elephant because statistically speaking the ant does not matter. Sorry I did not inform everyone then but at that point passage was the most important option to me.

    Face it part of progressive’s drive to kill the bill is selfishness because we feel like we lost and want to take our ball and go home.

    Add selfishness to purist polarization and no even incremental progress will ever be accomplished in this country again.

    • javaz says:

      I guess we have to wait and see the final bill.

      But if one is to believe Howard Dean, and I do, the Senate bill as it stands now sucks.

      And here’s my fear.

      The Republicans have already said that they will repeal health care if they regain power.
      But, if the health care, or rather the Senate health insurance bill passes and it benefits insurance companies, the Republicans will never repeal it and we’ll be worse off than ever.

      And one more thing that I am totally against is giving the IRS even more power.

      • KQuark says:

        I give specifics and you say it just “sucks” because Howard Dean said so. Sorry it’s just hard to have a debate with such limited info.

        • javaz says:

          I would never debate, and sorry if you misinterpreted my opinion as framing a debate.
          I’m not, as you have noticed, intelligent enough to debate anything.
          I apologize.

    • choicelady says:

      Thank you KQuark -- the attention to nuance and detail is critical here! You’ve done an outstanding job of making these points so clear.

      My one HUGE reservation is how the individual mandates emerges. If it is provided on a sliding scale and does not drop deductibles and out of pocket costs that are inflexible upon individuals and families, then OK. In MA and what was proposed here in CA was a subsidized premium BUT absolutes of $5000 deductible per person per year and $10,000 OOP if you became ill. Those are market supports, giveaways to the insurance industry to keep the premiums low enough for the government to subsidize. It has converted too much of the MA plan into catastrophic coverage -- no one can afford to use it.

      If the final bill has real caps on these expenses, provides (as I was just informed it does) preventive care for free to lower income people, and does the rest of what you’ve noted, then yes. Good first step.

      If it mimics CA or MA -- I cannot support it. I also HATE the principle that not carrying insurance can be “criminalized”. What an absurd issue when it’s the insurance plutocracy that is making it unaffordable. That is REALLY putting the wrong guy in the stocks!

      But your thoughtful analysis parallels my investigation of the details (in flux at the moment), and I do agree Cher’s post below and with Nat Silver -- if all these points are correct and are retained in the bill, progressives would be bat-shit crazy to defeat it.

      But progressives are just as prone to arrogant selfishness -- my way or the highway -- as anyone consumed with material possessions. We shall see what comes.

      • KQuark says:

        I think there should be mandates but people should be given a wide birth to opt out because of financial reasons.

        Not buying insurance should not be criminalized per se but remember everyone without insurance costs everyone else. Now if it’s not available or affordable to not carry insurance is moral. Right now thousands are being “comped” by the hospital for my bills because I can’t get any insurance. But if you do have the means it’s immoral to make others pay more for your selfishness.

        • choicelady says:

          Mandates are important, but I’d recommend, rather than an opt-out that leaves people still uninsured, that rates be pegged to income as Medicare is. That way those with higher incomes would pay more, those with less would pay less. That is do-able even in the private exchange. It is critical however that the care not be substandard for those with less money.

          We have SO lost the sense of proportion and with it the respect for people who work but do not make much money. That’s right back to this marvelous post -- the sense of greed being good (in the movie Wall Street that was supposed to be EVIL but people believed it!) and all the emphasis on THINGS rather than a healthy and productive society.

          And I do not mind that we might pick up a few dollars to help you out! You are definitely worth it!

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Did you see this 538/Nate Silver blog:

      http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/12/why-progressives-are-batshit-crazy-to.html

      Check out the cost/savings of the status quo verses the senate bill.

      • AdLib says:

        Cher, I don’t know. What family can afford a $5,000 deductible every year on top of a $4,000 premium. $9,000 per year a family would be on the hook for.

        Yes, it’s better than being hammered worse but it’s not the kind of reform that will allow people to get out from under spending more money than they earn.

        It’s like saying, getting a serious but non-fatal disease is better than dying from a fatal disease. Yes it is. But not getting a disease is what’s best.

        Insurance shouldn’t cost this much and deductibles shouldn’t be so high. Just because the government is paying off the insurers inflated premiums, it doesn’t make the rates right. We pay way more for health care than most countries, reign in the corruption and markup there and we’ll be where we should be.

      • PepeLepew says:

        That reminds me a quote I saw today saying that people saying “no bill at all is better than this bill” reminds you of people who voted for Nader in 2000.

        I can’t remember where I saw that or who wrote it, though!

      • KQuark says:

        I love Nate because I think like him. We both think in analytical terms (he’s a statistics guy and I’m a scientist) cutting through the political bullshit.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Gee, I never heard of that movie and it sounds good! There are several movies on that theme too. I think one with Gary Cooper in the 30’s-- a guy can keep a vast inheritance if he can spend X amount of money in one year. But because he has so much, no one will sell him anything. And you know what-- it’s partly true. The rich get lots of perks that help them stay rich--easier credit for one thing, accountants that help them pay less taxes, lawyers to prevent them from signing rigged contracts-- just a bunch of shit.

      • javaz says:

        This story has been made into several different movies, the latest one I could find was 1993.

        I’m a huge fan of Mark Twain and especially his writings against government and mainly Congress.
        Had Mark Twain lived today, he’d be shouted down as a commie, pinko, liberal.
        Although, there are schools that have banned Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn for some reason or other.

  18. AdLib says:

    Try this for an experiment, watch a channel tonight that has commercials and see how many commercials promote selfishness or self-gratification.

    Then consider what the net result is at the end of your viewing session, how much has self-gratification been sold to you and how much has conscience, compassion or ethics been sold to you?

    I have been teaching my daughter that commercials, for the most part, lie. It’s gratifying to hear her say sometimes during a commercial, “That’s not true!”.

    It’s tough to fight the programming our corporate plutocracy employs on us and our children but we must.

    BTW, in Michael Moore’s “Capitalism, A Love Story” he mentions a leaked Citicorp memo to its top investors that is chilling. It declares that fortunately, we are actually living in a plutocracy now, not a democracy, so continued progress in the concentration of wealth into the hands of the wealthiest should be able to proceed without interruption…aside from the possibility that the majority could revolt.

    FYI, here’s a definition, then let me know if you think we’re living in a democracy or a plutocracy.

    plutocracy

    1 : government by the wealthy
    2 : a controlling class of the wealthy

    • escribacat says:

      Commercials=mute button.

    • boomer1949 says:

      See, that’s just it. I’ll bet I haven’t watched a major network (okay…NCIS & Flashpoint) in years. Commercials are too loud, too pushy, too fake, too seducing, too mind numbing.

      Unless one gets it early in life that “it isn’t true” (kudos AdLib), one doesn’t realize until much later that stuff is stuff and stuff can’t provide long term happiness.

      Stuff can’t give a hug, stuff can’t give a kiss, stuff can’t wipe away a tear, stuff can’t hold the hand of a dying friend or loved one, stuff can’t fix a broken relationship. Stuff is in-animate and has no feeling. I don’t know if he ever said it, but for some reason I can hear George Carlin’s voice…”it’s fucking stuff!”

      I own a 15 yo TV, a hand-me-down computer, a 10 yo car. I may whine from time to time, but for the most part I’m okay with my life. It is much more important to me to have people who care about why I am not at work (because they know I live alone and they know I would call), friends who will visit even though they’re allergic to cats and I have 3, and friends who like me for me and not for what I own or do not own.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Thank you, AdLIb and Bito for both of those “assignments!” It’ll be fun.

    • bitohistory says:

      And during your viewing, if you see a political commercial, go to this site and do a search on whom the sponsor is.

      http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Portal:Front_groups

  19. Khirad says:

    I want it now, I love you or I hate you -- nothing in between… are we dealing with naively puritanical Progressives or those with Political Borderline Personality Disorder?!

    With predominant theme, that of a sacrifice of our humanity to the luxuries of modernity, this is a long theme of the Third World movements, one enshrined not only by Gandhi, but liberal clerics in Iran, and in truth, among those of all faith communities around the world, Buddhists especially, to progressive Christian denominations. Now, I don’t interpret our humanity, or our “soul” the same, though I often use the same religious language, but I am struck that they’ve been saying such things, issuing such warnings, for many years -- and they were right. I tread lightly on this, not wanting to spur a full-on theological debate, but how can we stem the tide of faceless, me-me-me corporatism without communities based on love and compassion, whatever they may be? Without this, how can we ever have civil discussions, if we’re truly not interested in hearing what anyone else has to say?

    • choicelady says:

      …and then there are those pesky “prosperity Gospel” Christians. The message of material reward for heavenly belief (more or less) is in many of the conservative mega-churches and certainly “The Family” where faith is the justification for having it all now, here on earth. Never will get over the 3 a.m. pastor dripping with jewels, $1000 clothes, coiffed and sprayed hair (and you should have seen the women!) who told his audience that a man turned to Jesus, and he was not only lifted from the gutter but Jesus got him a condo in Florida and a Mer-SAY-deez Benz. Yuck!

      The recent Atlantic cover story is “Did Christians cause the collapse?” So many churches worked hand in glove with mortgage corporations to shove communities of color and working class white folks into subprime mortgages all the while extolling “you deserve it” which they certainly DID, but they did NOT deserve the rotten rates when many of them actually qualified for FHA rates. Pastors helped the lie, people believed them, and look what happened. Churches got $350 per mortgage from their congregations. Someone lost their way BIG TIME here.

      I have a rich -- very rich -- young relative, and frankly I resent the easy money he has. He professes to care about social justice, but I’m scratching away while he, a single man, has two lavish cars, a multi-million-dollar house, and lives a life of huge excess. He believes he’s entitled to it -- it IS his money. But where is the balance???? OK -- he’s NOT happy, but he’s not UNhappy, so he has no incentive to change or even to help me and my organization.

      When he was young an had a troubled life, I was the one who took him in. Always. So…

      And I plug away trying to make sense of policy (things he professes to believe in such as universal health care) so people can lift up decent arguments for or about any given thing. I am happy -- LOVE my job -- but I’d really appreciate some freaking BALANCE here!

      We’ve long been ruled by plutocrats. They are just more visible on the land than they’ve been since 1929. We have Reagan and “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” to thank for that.

      Bah.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        Wow-- that “get rich” gospel is a whole ‘nother topic! What does that tell us, right? Great insight.

        • choicelady says:

          These types of Christians my work nearly unbearable sometimes!

          We don’t promise heaven or threaten hell; we ask people to WORK for a better society. I spend my off hours reading BILLS so I can understand them and let members know what’s what, and the Jimmy Swaggerts get megabucks for NOTHING while we scramble for pennies.

          And let me tell you -- we faith progressives made a HUGE mistake dropping threats of hell. When I lobby, it would have been VERY useful with some conservative bozos, I can tell you that!

  20. PepeLepew says:

    I see so many of these people as empty vessels … and where there is emptiness, there’s lots of room for hate and rage to take over.

    • AdLib says:

      When you go to other countries, it’s very different, not so many people who seem so hollowed out.

      You go on a train in France and an absolute stranger is comfortable looking you in the eyes, even offering a smile or a nod.

      You do that in the U.S. and you’re likely to see a person quickly avert their eyes.

      They’re afraid of connecting with other human beings.

      The emailing, texting, Twittering, etc. builds walls between us as human beings. People we might see our talk to we instead email or text because it’s easier. At the same time, the human connection of hearing a voice or seeing a face is lost.

      It’s a balance. Technology allows us to create a thoughtful, caring community here among far flung people. That’s using it to our advantage. But allowing it to come between people who would otherwise connect in a more personal way is a problem.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        And in Europe folks are a LOT less acquisitive, much less consumerism. They value time to be with friends, to relax, not things.

        I have a friend from Norway. I once asked her how they stood the long winter nights, the cold and darkness. (I’m a native Angelino)

        She told me in the winter, they light a lot of candles, buy flowers frequently, and spend the evenings visiting each other.

        • PepeLepew says:

          I’ve noticed Canadians tend to be *extremely* chatty. I ran into a guy from Edmonton when I was in Glacier and he talked my ear off for over an hour. When we were in Banff, a bunch of Canadians chatted us up.(I’m on the other extreme of that spectrum, BTW, even though I’m Canadian. I’m extremely quiet and say very little.) I’ve often wondered if it’s because of their long, cold, dark winters. There’s nothing to do but visit.

      • Khirad says:

        I dunno. For me I was always super-shy and the internet really helped me. I think the same goes for older people who feel isolated, and those like us with special interests in politics or whatnot, and maybe the person in a small town who feels alienated connect to someone across the country, or world, whom shares his/her partical interest or concern.

        I agree there is a balance, but technology if anything has improved my social life. Whereas I’m still awkward on the phone, if I get an event on a listserve, or e-vite, I’m likely to go. Been more social than at any other time of my life, where I was largely a hermit before.

        I’m not like most people though… I’m not disagreeing at all with the general conclusion, just offering another perspective, another minor wrinkle -- albeit, admittedly, from someone who has been online since they were about 17. All I’m saying is that I didn’t miraculously lose social skills all of a sudden because of the internet -- I never really had them. My sister would drag me to things and I was hopeless, with ‘normal’ people I couldn’t begin to relate with. I was hopeless throughout school, though am glad I have the skills I do as opposed to those poor home-schooled kids. That doesn’t mean I don’t give a nod to the guy passing by walking his dog, or a little smile to the woman often crossing my path on our routine walks. That stuff is just human, and the ones that ignore me or give me a look I chalk up to having a bad day or being in a blue mood the first few times. That makes me think of at least one person though. I’m convinced there’s an absolute uptight bitch who hates me for my long hair or whatever. I remember giving her a smile and a nod and getting a huff, increduous look and cold shoulder. Some things have little to do with technology in inhumanity and nastiness.

        I would also suggest that perhaps the French thing is partly cultural. We still have Puritan roots to contend with in our own cultural heritage.

      • PepeLepew says:

        You could write a whole new post about the depersonalization of society through technology (Tweeting, texting, etc.) 🙂

        One thing that I was struck by in my big move this summer is that in our old condo project, people moved in and out all the time and hardly anyone knew each other or interacted, but here, actually living in a real, old-fashioned neighbourhood, everyone seems to know each and people talk out in their yards, etc. I was really struck by the difference.

  21. nellie says:

    Great post, AdLib. Within the next month, eh? That’s a tall order!

    I have a theory on this subject, AdLib. It’s something I think about a lot.

    If you put human beings into two groups, leaders and followers, most of us are followers — that’s probably necessary for survival of the species. What if we were all leaders — what chaos. People who aren’t going to lead need to be very careful about the people they choose follow. Because people who want to lead can have serious power issues, greed issues, control issues.

    We’ve gotten ourselves into a situation where too much of our leadership stinks. And not just our political leadership. The messages sent out by the media leaders — just as you said — corporate leadership, intellectual leadership, economic leadership, societal leadership. There are a lot of competing leadership interests out there. And many of them leave a lot to be desired.

    Unfortunately, unprincipled people are willing to do anything to retain power. And that gives them a huge advantage over the kind of leaders we like to have — those with principles. When there’s a clash of leadership principles, we often lose the good guys. The bad guys are very good at making themselves look good — and making anyone who tries to get in their way look bad. Or disappear.

    Until a whole lot of people get a whole lot smarter, I don’t know what we do about this except take advantage of any good leadership we’re lucky enough to get. Often the best we can do is keep truly evil leadership in check. I think we’ve been doing that for centuries.

    And that’s my theory. Followers need to do a better job of following — exercise some discipline and stop getting behind the dirt bags.

    • choicelady says:

      I really like the saying, “We are the leaders we’ve been waiting for.”

      We underestimate our power. Look at all the amazing women, just to make this point not because men don’t do this also, who emerged from nowhere to be great. Lois Gibbs in Love Canal; Peggy Say trying to free her brother in the mid east; Karen Silkwood who gave her life to expose the truth about nuclear theft and mishandling; Erin Brakovitch exposing toxic waste in CA. On and on and on. Many “ordinary” people have done great things.

      I first learned about “people’s history” back in 1971 when radical historian Staughton Lynd brought Genora Johnson Dollinger, the woman who’d started the Women’s Emergency Brigade during the 1937 sit downs in Flint, MI to speak at a major history conference. She had begun with a lie -- she was on the barricades, the ONLY woman, but jumped up and yelled at the police -- “there are women and children here!” They backed off, and no one got hurt. The next day there WERE women there, and the cops would not wail in on them, thereby protecting the men, too. It was marvelous and gutsy and kept people safe.

      We never remember we ARE the government, we ARE the economy, we ARE democracy. Problem is -- it takes a lot of work, and too many of us would rather chill with TV than do that work. We have not lost our power. We gave it away.

      • nellie says:

        That’s what I mean — that most people have no interest in taking on that responsibility. It’s just human nature. Not everyone was born to step up in that way. But when people give that power over, they should be very careful about where it goes.

        Maybe it’s an information challenge. But for me, so many problems boil down to wrongheaded or just plain bad leadership. Because people let the wrong ones stay in charge.

    • AdLib says:

      Thanks nellie.

      And your views make an enormous amount of sense. Indeed, the majority of people are followers. How they choose who to follow is not necessarily the result of critical thinking, as you mention.

      I would say this about too many leaders, I don’t agree that it would make things unmanageable…as long as egos were checked at the door.

      Thoughtful leaders can collaborate on goals, as at least some Dems in Congress have shown and international initiatives in the past have proven.

      I don’t see followers getting smarter in the future so what could help is for those who think for themselves to collaborate on supporting smarter leaders, as we did with Obama.

      Sure, many followers followed us in supporting Obama but that’s perfectly fine, we got the ball rolling and once they saw it desirable to jump on, they did.

      This is how we should pursue things, coming together as “leaders” to launch things and leaders that the followers could follow.

      • nellie says:

        I agree w you AdLib — but I think we’re never in danger of having too many leaders because most people just aren’t interested in that role. I wish we had a lot more leaders. I wish a lot more good people would step up and take on that responsibility.

  22. Chernynkaya says:

    There are two main causes for the selfishness and greed we see more and more in our society, I think.

    The first contributor that comes to my mind is injustice. We are taught since childhood to play by the rules; that fairness is highly esteemed. As kids, we used to chant,

    • AdLib says:

      Wow, nailed it!

      I am right with you on all of this. The affirmation by the real world that cheaters prosper, that bad guys win and that good guys get screwed can indeed convince people that they would be a sucker not to ditch their principles and grab for what they can get with both hands.

      And capitalist society’s pat on the back to those that do so, seals the deal.

      Indeed, as you say, our being distracted by the bread and circuses of consumerism keeps power in the hands of the corrupt Caesars who hold the true power in this country.

      And as for the pharma industry promoting its happy pills so people won’t be depressed…being drugged into states of comfort are another form of control. Yes, there are those who need medication for severe depression but these meds are being over prescribed to people who are just feeling bad with good reason.

      Depression for most people is part of a natural cycle, it can dissipate or evolve into resolve to positively change something about one’s life or society. Having that evened out by a pill, removes the insight and motivation that can come from it.

      What is a bit “depressing” is that even in the midst of things being as bad as they are right now for most Americans…no one is out in the street marching on the banks or the insurance companies or the other corporations oppressing the people and their democracy.

      They are the root of this evil, even Lieberman would not be an issue today if he wasn’t in the pockets of CT insurance companies.

      I think there needs to be more of a focused revolt against all of these corporations, they are financing the lobbyists, they are buying the politicians, they are creating the financial inequity in pay and income.

      The collapse on the Health Care Reform bill tells us that the majority can’t get what it wants through its representatives. Then we need to stop looking to others to represent our interests and represent them ourselves.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        One of the most deeply disturbing aspects of what we are witnessing is the apathy, bordering on the comatose. Something else I need to ponder. WTF?!

      • boomer1949 says:

        AdLib,

        “the majority can’t get what it wants throught its representatives” is quite disheartening, but true.

        It’s what happens to many of our represenatives once they leave home and move inside the beltway. They are overcome by spotlight and celebrity, conveniently forgetting how and why they were sent in the first place. Translation? Brain Fart.

    • boomer1949 says:

      And conscience…don’t forget that one.

      • AdLib says:

        Absolutely. The ability to rationalize away one’s conscience because what one gets in return is so desirable, is a severe problem.

        Now that the cynicism of the selfish has corrupted so much, how is conscience given anywhere near the attention that materialism is?

      • nellie says:

        We’re on the same wavelength, boomer. Conscience is they key. Having one, refusing to be shamed because you do have one, and avoiding people who seem to be missing that part of the brain.

  23. boomer1949 says:

    Excellent post AdLib. The only folks who’ll say you’re wrong are the movers, haters and, of course, Senator Eyore from CT.

    As I wrote last week…

    “Those who fight change will never change. Regardless of their motivation, the doubters will always be doubters and the saboteurs will always be saboteurs.”

    Now I must go think.

    • AdLib says:

      Cheers boomer!

      When we get into the saboteur mentality, that is a very selfish and destructive thing.

      Arsonists are motivated by the desire to feel powerful, that they can affect the lives of so many people, even if it is doing something horrible.

      I think that describes Lieberman fully.

      • boomer1949 says:

        And this might be his motivation:

        • Chernynkaya says:

          I think that is not his motivation, but his justification. A perfect example of having no sense of shame, no conscience. He is able --as are we all-- to easily justify his treason of his party and his voters. In his case, he tells himself it’s about the deficit or something. God, I really despise him.

      • boomer1949 says:

        AdLib,

        Yes dear, I totally agree. And how those with no conscience sleep at night — is a very dangerous thing.

  24. Chernynkaya says:

    I just want to say this is a great blog and I am thinking about it! More to come…

  25. choicelady says:

    Wow AdLib, this is powerful! Since I’m in the “anti-selfishness” game doing advocacy with our members in CA in the mainstream, progressive communities of faith, I see people rise above this every day. But the dominant thing that comes back is that even the “good guys” have slipped into a kind of solipsism and narcissism that reflects this selfishness.

    Yesterday I got sent a wonderful interpretation of Obama’s Nobel speech by Susan Thistlethwaite that was printed Dec. 11 in the “On Faith” page of the Washington Post. (You can find it via Google -- it’s too long a link to post.) She was president of the Chicago Theological Seminary -- a very cool, progressive place -- and wrote that she read Obama’s speech as a radically different view of the world from his predecessors. It was SO hopeful and wonderful!

    So -- I posted it to our members, and you’d have thought she’d been calling for selling babies in the town square! People who have decided, less than a year in, that Obama is a shill for capitalist warmongers -- people who OUGHT to know differently -- were angry with her and with me for posting what she said.

    We won’t learn because it means giving up our prejudices. Progressives are JUST as bad at this, we’re just less violent about it. So far.

    I keep trying to learn things. I keep trying to HEAR people -- their fear, their pain, their longings, their hopes, their insights. I believe that is true of all of you here -- ALL. Even when there are disagreements, I believe there is listening (well, OK reading) of other people’s views.

    How big a universe is PlanetPOV? We seem small. But once again, these are the best conversations I’ve EVER had, and I learn something new every day from all of you.

    Those of us who really “Got Hope” last year and are willing to DO THE WORK of shaping this democracy along with Obama are proving to be the minority of even those who supported him. It’s sad.

    Thank you for writing this. It IS important!

    • AdLib says:

      choicelady, cheers to you for your ongoing generosity to those around you. You and others here affirm what is best about human beings, compassion for others.

      You are so right about “the enemy being us” as well when it comes to being narrow minded and self-centered. Solipsists aren’t limited to one party or the other.

      That’s a huge disappointment, when you realize that people you have felt so attuned with suddenly step out of line and declare something that exposes how self-centered they are…through prejudice, greed, emotional gratification, etc..

      There are those who seek the truth, even if it proves they were wrong about an assumption or belief. Then there are those who are convicted and refuse to see truths that are incompatible with their conviction.

      I don’t understand the mindset of being intentionally ignorant because one wants to feel righteous.

      As for how big The Planet is, we’ve only been officially open about four months but get thousands of visits from members and readers in 55 countries. We have been growing each week too.

      PlanetPOV was set up with this very sentiment as a guiding force, encouraging the sense of community, respect for everyone else no matter their POV and expressing our concerns about what’s going on in the world and society around us.

      I not so humbly hope what we write about and discuss here can make a difference in the life of at least one member/reader and ultimately, we can use this as a think tank to actively advance positive agendas and initiatives.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        That reminds me of a quote I stumbled across yesterday:

        “For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.” — Patrick Henry

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Wonderful post, C’lady! And I have begun to see the ugly underbelly of many Progressives too! I have to think about the reasons for this, but it is so upsetting to watch. Look, if had my moments too, but I, like you, try to listen to people, and they talked me back to sense. I’m going to find the article you referenced-- thanks!


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