Friday, December 27, 2013

Why vote aganst your own interests?

Fear is ruling the hearts - and minds - of too many workers.  Fear of falling into the underclass.

I submit that the way some people handle this fear is via repression - via some type of unconscious coping mechanism.  Now the thing about the Unconscious is, of course, that we're unaware of what we're doing.  Or why we're doing it.  And since we're unaware, since it's too terrifying, perhaps, to be aware - we have no conscious control over managing those fears.

Banishing thoughts from one's mind does not really get rid of them.  Instead, they go underground, so to speak.  They burrow deep into our unconscious, from whence they can spring up and take control, leading us to do and say and believe and cling to thoughts, activities, etc. which are, by definition (due to their source) irrational.

I think that's what happens when people vote against their own interests:  I think that people misplace their fears.  Or are induced to do so.  Instead, for example, of fearing job loss and descent into the underclass, they simply hate and fear the underclass itself.  They believe the poor or the unemployed to be engaged in selfish basking in the largesse (as they view it) of unemployment, food stamps, soup kitchens,  and so on.

So, to repeat, it seems to me that many of the working poor, whose lives are balanced so precariously on the threat of job loss, health loss, and so on - are in the grip of powerful unconscious forces - being manipulated by powerful think tanks and political wordsmiths (What a misnomer!).

Fear, terror, is probably the most powerful motivator there is.  It's what torturers make use of.  And as we know, torture need not harm the body.  It's enough to just destroy the soul.

Soul murder.  I fear that's what's happening in our economy.  I fear that's what has a grip on the minds of many whose votes are cast against their own interests.  People who voice a hatred of universal health care.  A hatred of a social safety net.  A hatred of bleeding-heart libruls.

Now, you may be thinking I have a solution for this.  I wish I did.  If I had a solution for this, I would have the solution to most mental health problems.  Many physical problems.  Social ills - such as global warming, inequality.  The list goes on.

I'm a retired clinical psychologist.  I've tried to help many.  Mostly help consists of diagnosing problems, ferreting out unconscious assumptions, which lie beneath paradoxical behaviors.  Trying to help people face their buried fears and inconsistent behaviors.  So they can survive the emotions, learn to tolerate and live with them, and thus make better decisions - based on reality (rather than propaganda or mistaken conclusions arrived at as children).

It's social therapy that's needed, I suppose.  But how to do that?  How to fix the broken mental health system - upon which if you think about it the house of cards they believe in (and vote for) has been erected.  Yes, I hate to say it.  The market forces, the dehumanization of work and society, the enslaving of the working poor - and even those above them - all these are running on maintaining economic and political and social insanity.  And making certain that treatment remains unavailable or worse, looked down upon.  (So that the poor, the crazy, the unemployed, the minorities, the imprisoned, the "aliens" - what a word, as if they were martians.)

Yeah, let's all look down on them and comfort ourselves that we are not among them.  As if we were superior.   (This is sarcasm, of course.)

Let's not let ourselves know the true anguish, the true suffering, of so many fellow citizens of this world.  (I'd say fellow Americans - but of course we all know that so many fellow residents of this land aren't allowed to be Americans - they don't deserve it - or so we're supposed to believe. And vote).

Thank God for Pope Francis!  And people like Edward Snowdon.  The nuns!  And so many unsung people who let themselves suffer - in solidarity with the ignorant and the underclasses.  Wars.  Torture.  Hunger.  Homelessness.  The sick.  The aliens among us.  The mentally ill.  The imprisoned.  We - under surveillance - supposedly for our own good.

Please, dear God, at this Season:  Enlighten the World!

Friday, October 18, 2013

It's Insulting

All liars are assuming that those to whom they tell their lies-  are stupid.  Think about it:  The very act of lying is an act of contempt.  An act of extreme and utter self-aggrandizement (on the part of the one who lies) and utter contempt for the "lied to" - as people so stupid that they can be bamboozled by a confection of words.  Words distracting from reality, not pointing to it.

This is what irritates the heck out of me: whenever the republicans try to rewrite history or simply string together a bunch of meaningless phrases, constructing a pablum for (the pitifully stupid) others to swallow wholesale.

It's their contempt for the listener that gets to me.  Their utter self-satisfaction and contempt.  As they spin a web of lies.  A paragraph of meaningless sentences.  Like a hypnotist.  Putting a trance on the voter.  And inserting a soothing post-hypnotic message:  Do as I say. 

It's insulting!

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Boomerang Principle

The Republicans profess to be so shrewd. Weaving endless webs of words - signifying nothing - all the while asserting certainty.

    Republican Boomerang ...  Waiting     

Poll-tested, focus-tested strings of verbiage - devoid of logic - repeated ad nauseam - have finally reached a tipping point. The point where the politics of nothing (but strategy) is reaping the whirlwind - its own reward: A boomerang of their own devising. Headed straight toward them.

Is it because they won't fund good education? Or good science? That they disbelieve the results of actual experiments.

That they simply could not see that the purveying of nonsense (over and over) acts like so many boomerangs thrown. That even with an accurate aim, a powerful blow comes back.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Sin in Cyprus

Here's an interesting title to a news story I just read:

Cyprus will pay dearly for its sins

You hardly see such a word in the press or the media anymore.  But this time the writer (or his editor) has hit the nail on the head:  Sin.

You learn so much every time there's a crisis:  History, geography, economic, social, and political forces, they all show up, playing a role in the current economic crisis gripping a part of the world, which heretofore may hardly have been on your radar screen.

What Paul Krugman terms The Sum of all FUBAR is occurring on a small island.  So for its beleaguered citizens there's currently no way out of there - unless they own a boat or plane or can muster the cash to purchase a ticket.  I feel for these people.  I'd hate to be trapped like that. 

But as for FUBAR, Krugman doesn't detail the half of it.  And it all boils down to that word "Sin" - and I mean sin.  It's a perfect example, and a lesson for us all, of how a society (or a person), blurring moral and ethical boundaries in one area, can find its effects spreading and spreading, till they're mired in the worst sort of muck.  And mired they are in Cyprus!

Based upon simple web searches last night, our household learned some very sad facts about Cyprus.  And it all begins, it would seem, in a business model, which is apparently now dead.  But as the old saying goes:  "When you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas."  So, it would seem that once you decide to cater to folks who want to launder money, avoid taxes, and heaven knows what else, you leave yourself prey to purveyors of human trafficking, prostitution, shady real estate deals (another bubble ready to break), and alliances with thugs, gangsters, and probably drug smugglers galore.  And it all started because a little island nation wanted to make a living off of unethical rich depositors.  Perfect example of a moral/ethical slippery slope...

Yes, as the article states, Cyprus will pay dearly for its sins.  And ironically this tiny island is also awash in religion.  Mosques and Orthodox churches (multiple cathedrals!) abound.  Indeed the country's own Orthodox Church owns a huge portion of its patrimony when it comes to land and wealth and real estate.  Not to speak of the Russian (Orthodox) community there now as well... 

A reckoning has come.  And let us hope that the crisis and its aftermath, which will be extremely, extremely painful for all involved, will somehow force people - even us - to examine the moral/ethical compromises which led a beautiful island, an educated society, to sell its soul.

Let us truly pray that we not be led into temptation....

[Also posted here.]

Monday, February 11, 2013

Employers "in loco parentis"

Long ago there was a debate:  To what extent were colleges in a parental role vis a vis their students?  Seems to me that pretty much got settled.  Grades are no longer sent to parents, but not students.  (Now it's the reverse.)  Smoking is allowed.  Drinking is allowed.  Cutting classes is allowed.  Students are no longer required to live on campus, nor monitored for how late they stay out at night.  Students are considered adults, responsible for their own behavior. 

But here we are again:  Employers in loco parentis!  Employers, indeed, claiming to take over a religious role for employees, claiming... do you believe it? ...  to take over the role of conscience for their employees.

All because some employers cannot abide that employees exercise their own consciences.  Exercise responsibility for their own private lives.  In one area onlycontraception.  (Which means controlling women's behavior, mind you.  For I've heard no uproar over limiting drugs like Viagra.)

Now, colleges, for example, still consider themselves responsible for the safety of students.  They can't just leave patches of ice in the parking lots.  They can't just let gun-toting murderers run rampant on campus.  So, with the exception of some very conservative religious institutions which require students to agree to adhere to a strict code of conduct, most colleges today are able to draw lines between the public and the private.  (They provide safety within the college environment.  And they allow wide latitude with regard to student's private lives, so long as their behavior does not endanger the safety of others.)

But some employers, claiming consciences which speak for all, claiming a kind of infallibility, based (it would appear) on a claim to extreme holiness - now assert a right to a parental role with regard to their employees.  With regard to their female employees.  With regard to their family planning or their medical care.  In effect they want to punish women for private decisions they make with their doctor, decisions which have nothing to do with the workplace.

The mind reels!

It seems to me that today the root of so many problems in our society relates to a lack of logic, bordering on insanity.  Think about it.  How of many of our problems relate to a desire (by some) to control the private lives of others?  Or a desire to punish others for private behavior?  Or a desire to relieve themselves of any responsibility for the welfare of others?

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, disability, food stamps - no one forces us to use them.  But they certainly should be available for those of us who need them or who qualify for them.  As should contraception - as a covered medical option.  With fairness and equity for all.

We don't exempt some employers from paying taxes to social welfare programs.  We don't exempt some from laws requiring worker safety, hours worked, or the minimum wage.  So why is medical care different?

So why meddle in the medical?

Employers, is it so difficult for the professedly holy among you to understand?  Is it so difficult to accept that free will is a gift from God?

Honestly, I'm tired of the insanity!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Violence Against Women - Knows no Borders

RIP:  Two innocent women, tragically dying this week.
Christmas Eve, our town
Lost a cop, shot on duty
By her war vet spouse.
Lingering two weeks,
After gang rape unspeakable,
India riots – too late.

Tragedies like these. Too many of them!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Disentangling Guns and Mental Health

Where to begin?

#1. Violence cannot be predicted. Even a “mental health evaluation” prior to buying, using, acquiring, even borrowing a gun could not assure. Unless such a person indicates in a clear and convincing way that they intend immanently to harm a person or persons or an identifiable property, there is no way to predict violence other than self-report. That would include violence against themselves, of course. Don't believe me? Go and read the extensive literature on the prediction of violence: In the absence of a specific threat, there is no way that violence can be predicted. No matter how mentally ill, deranged, or criminally inclined the person may be. (Mental illness is no predictor!)

#2. Mental health professionals, in the course of their normal work, are legally obligated to protect confidentiality. Why? Well, in addition to the right to privacy guaranteed patients by the Constitution, psychotherapy simply cannot be conducted except under the most confidential circumstances. Trust is vital for a psychotherapy relationship. If you imagine, as gun adherents would like you to believe, that the mental health system should function like a system of parole officers, complete with surveillance capability, then you have swallowed a “red herring” argument. Don't be fooled!

#3. Mental health services, especially services for the severely mentally ill, are sorely in need of expansion and improvement in this country. But that is a separate issue, totally apart from the crying need to regulate and decrease gun purchases, ownership, and use in this country – which is a job for law enforcement and legislators, not mental health professionals.

#4. Any proposed evaluation of persons for the use or possession of firearms should be conducted ONLY by trained law enforcement individuals, for example police psychologists or other trained law enforcement investigators. This would shield mental health professionals from being put in the position of signing affidavits or applications related to firearms. (This is not their job!) It would also put gun owners, purchasers, or users on notice that the police will have their name on file, that the desire to exercise second amendment rights, at the very least, has some connection with a well regulated militia (as stated in the Constitution).

Pie in the sky? Frankly, I don't care. For it's high time the real issues were addressed. Frankly. And goodness, if the military can account for every rifle issued, and can revoke that rifle if a service person shows signs of misusing it, then we as a society have the right to know that our local police department, sheriff's office, local FBI (you name it) knows the whereabouts of every firearm in the vicinity and has a record of everyone who proposes to use a gun in that vicinity or elsewhere. This is only common sense!

#5. You want to get some revenue? Then include a cost for all this. It costs $465 to file for a green card now or to make use of the new presidential order allowing young residential aliens to have an immunity period. Assess a similar cost and use a similar lengthy process when it comes to firearms. Yearly renewal license fees would yield additional revenue. And very high penalties, monetary and legal,should accompany falsification of documents or illegal retention (or use) of firearms, etc. With strong enforcement of those penalties.  Oh, and let's not forget the limitation of ammunition and the fee to purchase that as well.

It goes without saying that any type of assault weapon, any type of large magazine, would be banned across the board.

Make this process costly. Make it onerous. Provide monetary incentives for those who turn in weapons rather than pay the costly fees every year. I suspect it would ultimately decrease weapons in circulation.  (In our state it now costs $75 for yearly car registration.  How many folks could afford to spend that on multiple weapons?  That alone should reduce the number of unnecessary arsenals.)

Maybe another time I'll design a good mental health system...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

SPORTS rifles! And the WAR on Logic

It was during the previous president's administration that I first took notice of the war on logic.  I didn't have a blog then.  But I wrote about it.  I'm talking, of course, of the Orwellian language the right uses so often.  (They must have whole teams of people sitting around developing new terms, as the need arises!)  To confuse the populace...

A tiny divergence:  As a young child I read and reread Animal Farm many times.  Among other influences I think it turned me into a leftist in righty household.  It fitted so perfectly with the parochial school teaching as well!  Ah.... the insidious nature of religious training - which outwits even the hierarchs sitting in Rome.  (I think the book was included in a set of children's literature that came along with the Encylopedia:  Subversive influences, unbeknownst to them - Robin Hood and A Tale of Two Cities and others like The Prince and the Pauper and Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn. Also Uncle Tom's Cabin?)  Boy, did I get an education from those surreptitiously "smuggled-in" books.

But I digress...

I learned this morning that killing-machines - assault weapons - are actually "sold" as Sports rifles.  Together with the tactical reality "world" which these freedom-loving "folks" are encouraged to imagine they live in.  It's important, apparently, for us now to "get to know" this alternate reality - a world of Paranoia in which killing is sport.  Well... they wouldn't agree with that conclusion, but indeed, when you translate the language:  sports = assault = killing.  There's no getting around it!

The sad deaths of so many tiny children... taking us to so many unexpected dark alleys.  This is becoming like a Hydra - where hideous heads blossom each time we think we've nailed a new and horrible fact that's come to light.  And it's worth returning to Greek mythology, given that Cerberus Capitol (owner/maker of the so aptly named Bushmaster, apocalyptic killing machine - sold for "sport") has now concluded that being the Top Gun maker has some liabilities attached to it...

Tiny liabilities, whose names, tolled one by one... in funerals and on black-bannered TV screens will never leave us.  Ever.

Watch out for the WAR on logic!  You can see it in the fights over taxes.  The fights over a so-called fiscal cliff.   And now, of course, particularly in this "joined battle" over killing-guns... ugh ... sports rifles.

Watch out for alternate realities!  Where global weirding never comes.  Where guns (not people!) do the killing.  Or if people do it, they're deranged ... so it's simply a mental health problem, not a gun problem. 

Watch out for the word "Freedom"!  Cerberus Capital calls its gun division "Freedom."  Supposedly more and more guns - even in the hands of teachers - would guarantee children their freedom.  Or else the little ones can be trained to defend their freedom via rushing a sportsman taking target practice - using them.

Monday, December 17, 2012

My Heart is Walking Around

President Obama gave the address of his life last night. Part speech, part sermon, part call to arms – if by arms we mean reaching out with love.

As he spoke I could see the “case” he was building. Slowly... Gently... A trail of love from one's own children to all the children. From one's own personal love for a baby to care and responsibility for one another. For the children's sake. Those who are now lost but whose tragic deaths must remain a beacon of light – showing the way. Those alive and growing. Those yet to be born. And the child in all of us.

It seems to me the president has not only found his voice but has sketched out a unifying theme for his second term. A theme which touches on every piece of important legislation facing us as a nation.

It is time to put away tools of violence. Be they metal or verbal. Time to turn our hearts to healing. Time to care for all God's children. Here. There. Everywhere.

In old age – I think I'm now qualified to know – it's so easy to resume the timelessness of childhood. Spending a day with a two year old, for example. Living in the now. A state you could call enlightenment having been granted along with increasing years.

So engrossed in the “now” was I on Friday that I knew nothing of the tragedy. Until my beloved little one had been collected by his mother. Wearing his new socks and shoes that had just been delivered to my door that day. Oh, yes, he is not mine – but my heart is walking around in him. My heart will be warm - in the snowsuit and mittens that came the day before.

Somewhere I read that “clothing” someone – in biblical terms – means “encircling with love.”

That's what Obama is talking about:  As a society we must reach out and encircle with love.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Democratic Convention & the America I Love

I still can't get over my joy of the Dem Convention!  I watched - transfixed - during its three nights.  I loved the speeches.  And I particularly loved it when the camera panned to show me the audience.  I loved the diversity!

It brings me joy just to recall the diversity.  

Most of all the convention gave me the America I love.  People of all ages, races, creeds, incomes, cultural groups, genders, persuasions.  All types of workers.

It was beautiful!  It made my heart swell.  With a sense of oneness.  All these people...   Not just a picture of our country's diversity.  But like a picture of our world.

For weeks now I've been wanting to write this post.  Not quite sure where it was leading me.  Letting my thoughts and feelings ripen...

I bet I'm not the only person for whom the Democratic Convention continues to matter.  And I bet that's what a bounce means.  It means you felt uplifted at the time.  And you continue to feel uplifted.  As your memories coalesce and strengthen.  Into a really good feeling for what our country can be - how we can all come together.  Work together.  For the common good.

So much has led to this moment. 


I honestly think the Occupy Movement had a powerful impact.

In its own way it changed the conversation.

Romney/Ryan - So the Rich get richer!
Indeed it started conversations!

It encouraged a sense of community.

Contrast that with the alternative....

Take a good long look at the logo.   (Click to enlarge.)

Which is your America?