Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Musings: Positively Hopeful

The moon was a melon wedge encircled by a halo, adrift in a quilted swirl, when Koko and I went walking this morning. In a patch of clear sky to the east, I saw Venus with a much fainter sidekick that I later identified as Mercury on the handy-dandy AstroViewer site.

It also informed me that the three stars lined up next to the moon were part of the constellation known as Sea Serpent. They and many others became visible when the swirls swept south, leaving a black sky brightening in anticipation of a dawn that arrived as geometric shapes glowing orange in a bank of purple coastal clouds.

One of the most highly anticipated promises of President Obama’s campaign – health care reform — is proving to be yet another giant disappointment as the Senate Finance Committee today votes on a bill that has been heavily co-opted by the insurance industry. With no public option, and a requirement that even people who don’t want, and can’t afford, medical insurance must buy it — with the government kicking in subsidies as needed — it looks a lot more like big business as usual than “reform.”

The insurance industry is pulling out all the stops in its bid to frighten the sheep-like public, and so their representatives, by claiming that reforms will drive up premium costs for everyone else. If that was true, and the industry-sponsored report seems suspect, it seems to make a good case for the single-payer approach.

As for me, it seems that once again, we’re putting the cart before the horse. So long as we eat crap, spend a good portion of our lives immobile in front of the TV, offer no health education in school and view prescription drugs and surgery as cure-alls, we’re never going see reductions in the cost of health care and insurance premiums — or the ill health that’s behind them.

Speaking of ill health, journalist and author Barbara Ehrenreich has a very interesting interview today on Democracy Now! about her experience with breast cancer and her disgust with the “ideology of positive thinking,” which she links to the “mass delusion” that helped cause the financial meltdown.

Ehrenreich dissed the idea that “you can control things with your mind if you just have the right thoughts and ideology.”

She’s right to criticize books and movies like “The Secret,” which over-focused on the material rewards of mind power, promising people they could have it all if they just focused their thoughts on it.

Still, you can’t dismiss the idea that our thoughts play a huge role in how we approach and live life, and that by gaining some awareness of our thoughts — which I call the consciousness movement — we can most definitely change how we function in the world. And one by-product of that effort to live with awareness is generally a more positive outlook. Or at least, that’s been true in my own experience.

Of course, the power of positive thinking is nothing new. Consider Voltaire’s 18th Century classic, “Candide,” which parodied the prevailing philosophy of optimism and its beliefs that “all is for the best” — which lives on as the popular “it’s all good” — and “everything will work out in the end,” which I find myself parroting at times, because at one level, it's true, even if that end is mass annihilation of the human species.

While Ehrenreich specifically absolved Obama, and his campaign of hope, by saying that she does not believe he is deluded in his thinking, one has to wonder if it was a belief in the power of positive thinking that prompted the Nobel Committee to award Obama the Peace Prize, even though he’s authorized a war that regularly kills civilians with drones in Afghanistan and is mulling a big build up of troops there.

As Journalist Naomi Klein noted in another Democracy Now! interview:

And even just listening to the rationale that, despite overwhelming evidence, they’re giving this prize in the hopes that it will change Obama’s mind or encourage him to do things he hasn’t done—this is a candidate that ran a campaign that was much more based on hope and wishful thinking than it was on concrete policy. So we have hopes being piled on hope and wishful thinking.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

"...this is a candidate that ran a campaign that was much more based on hope and wishful thinking than it was on concrete policy."

Well, you libs elected him so now you, and the rest of us, are stuck with "the empty suit".

So much for electing him and then giving him the Nobel Prize just because he wasn't Bush.

Maybe time will tell that McCain would have been better after all.

At any rate, "Nobama" ("yes, we can't!") will be "leading" us for just one term. 2010 will see his Dem congress majority evaporate. Then he'll be gone 2 yrs later.

The new prez will be elected because he/she isn't Obama!

Anonymous said...

I liked the cartoon where the Nobel Prize was given to a teleprompter.

The man delivers a great speech (written by others). He talks the talk, but doesn't walk the walk.

Besides the increase in troops into the war zone, how about the super bunker buster bomb he approved building. Largest bomb in our non-nuke arsenal. To be fitted on a stealth bomber.

I wonder where he would want to drop that???

Maybe they will paint a likeness of the Nobel Prize medal on its tip.

"Here comes Pax Americana...bringing peace to the world one bomb at a time!"

Anonymous said...

"Meet the MOP"

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,565400,00.html

Designed to MOP up Iran's nuke aspirations?

Plenty of room on it to paint the Nobel medal.

Anonymous said...

How to Win the Nobel Peace Prize Share

Nominations for potential winners of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize ended on February 1. The president took office only 12 days earlier on January 20.

Let’s take a look at the president’s first 12 days in the White House according to his public schedule to see what he did to deserve a Nobel Peace Prize:

January 20: Sworn in as president. Went to a parade. Partied.

January 21: Asked bureaucrats to re-write guidelines for information requests. Held an “open house” party at the White House.

January 22: Signed Executive Orders: Executive Branch workers to take ethics pledge; re-affirmed Army Field Manual techniques for interrogations; expressed desire to close Gitmo (how’s that working out?)

January 23: Ordered the release of federal funding to pay for abortions in foreign countries. Lunch with Joe Biden; met with Tim Geithner.

January 24: Budget meeting with economic team.

January 25: Skipped church.

January 26: Gave speech about jobs and energy. Met with Hillary Clinton. Attended Geithner's swearing in ceremony.

January 27: Met with Republicans. Spoke at a clock tower in Ohio.

January 28: Economic meetings in the morning, met with Defense secretary in the afternoon.

January 29: Signed Ledbetter Bill overturning Supreme Court decision on lawsuits over wages. Party in the State Room. Met with Biden.

January 30: Met economic advisers. Gave speech on Middle Class Working Families Task Force. Met with senior enlisted military officials.

January 31: Took the day off.

February 1: Skipped church. Threw a Super Bowl party.

So there you have it. The short path to the Nobel Peace Prize: Party, go to meetings, skip church, release federal funding to pay for abortions in foreign countries, party some more.

Anonymous said...

"So there you have it. The short path to the Nobel Peace Prize: Party, go to meetings, skip church, release federal funding to pay for abortions in foreign countries, party some more."

Sounds pretty peaceful to me. less people + less stress on the enviroment. Watching Superbowl= fewer surfers in the water=less stress.
All = peace prize

Andrew Cooper said...

It was probably Saturn you saw next to Venus, they were only 1/2 degree apart this morning, about the width of a full Moon. Mercury is there, but much lower to the horizon at dawn.

Joan Conrow said...

Thanks, Andrew.

Anonymous said...

Obama won the Nobel Prize based on a single attribute HE IS NOT GEORGE BUSH!

Anonymous said...

There is no power in positive thinking unless it resolves into positive action. One may work in a slaughterhouse and imagine it is a perfume factory, but yo just can think that stink away, and if you do you have become delusional.

irk said...

Hey, Anony mice!
At least Barry lived in Hawaii longer than you,
graduated from a Hawaii high school,
doesn't leave blog comments that make him sound like a fool!
Go, go Buff 'n Blue!

Anonymous said...

"Ehrenreich dissed the idea that “you can control things with your mind if you just have the right thoughts and ideology."

-- like the alt medicine green tea kauai people


"the empty suit".

-- far from it


"Sworn in as president. Went to a parade. Partied."

-- thanks for the cut and paste of that entire list from fox..

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2009/10/09/tommy-seno-obama-nobel-prize-win/

also found on

http://www.semiautorifles.com/forums/f10/president-obama-awarded-nobel-peace-prize-1562.html

pls note if you actually want to compare his work load with that of the last guy

he is a good president folks. not hard to see


darwin_was_pretty_smart

Anonymous said...

thanks Darwin.

Anonymous said...

"Well, you libs elected him so now you, and the rest of us, are stuck with "the empty suit"."

Even if Obama had 10 times more shortcomings he'd be far better than the McCain-Palin ticket.

Anonymous said...

-- like the alt medicine green tea kauai people

green tea has proven health benefits and so does much of the alternative medicine. mind control has nothing to do with it

Anonymous said...

Even if Obama had 10 times more shortcomings he'd be far better than the McCain-Palin ticket.


---------

So that makes Obama the "least worst" choice...far from the "best".

Anonymous said...

That would be the only choice. M and P were the sacrifical lambs. Mc took one for team, Elephantes.

Anonymous said...

The president controls nothing. Dem or Rep / conservative or liberal / all seem to be controlled by the people who contributed money.
Bush or Obama...the banks and Wall street win.
We idiots try to make sense of this.
What choices did we have during the election? 2
The best men and women don;t run.

Anonymous said...

We need furlough days for the wars. The money saved on bullets and bombs could be sent back to the states to fund schools.

Manawai said...

I really hate to say it, but I believe Pres. Obama won the Nobel prize based largely on racism. I think he got it simply because he is the first non-100% caucasian President elected in this country. What has he actually accomplished? Nothing other than spending HUGE amounts of borrowed money with little, if any, results. The economic stimulus package so far is a failure. It seems to me that the Noble Prize guys were really recognizing Americans solely for having elected this guy. Am I missing something here?