Another Damn Election Year

There’s this long article by Glenn Greenwald in Salon; It’s worth a read. Essentially, Greenwald takes progressive partisans to task for supporting Obama and vilifying Ron Paul when Paul is making all the same arguments against Obama that progressives made against Bush. Endless war, military engagement without congressional approval, further erosion of fourth and fifth amendment rights, increased surveillance powers for domestic espionage,  suspension of habeas corpus, and, of course, Obama’s one truly novel innovation: summary execution of American citizens without even a hint of due process.

I don’t agree with all of Greenwald’s policy priorities: I support Israel; I think a committed non-interventionist policy would be about as successful as it was for Chamberlain in the 1930’s; I don’t think that increased debt in combination with currency devaluation is going to do anything to promote economic growth… but I do agree with the thrust of his critique. Someone needs to be making the arguments Ron Paul is making, it’s just a damn shame it has to be Ron Paul.

Right now (and things could certainly change), it looks like we’re going to have Romney vs. Obama. That’s not much of a choice. It would, however, provide rich opportunity for  seriously deep hypocrisy. We’d get to see Romney–architect of the Mass. law (RomneyCare) that mandates health insurance coverage–argue that  the national law is bad policy. We’d get to see Obama–recipient of more Wall Street money than any other candidate in history and architect of multiple multi-billion dollar financial sector bailouts argue that Romney is a shill for moneyed interests. It’d also be interesting to see the media scrutinize Romney and the LDS but continue to minimize Obama’s association with pastor Wright.

Hypocrisy isn’t an end in itself, but it looks like it may be all that we’re going to get this year.


Still stuck

I wrote the first draft of this post well over a year ago and, unfortunately, it’s still mostly true. I lost 40 pounds last year and now I’ve gained it all back. I’m tired. Fatigued. All the time.

I’m in a rut, a creative valley, a box-canyon of clouded vision, a swamp of confused and tired metaphors. Everything I write reads like crap and nothing makes it past the backspace key. It’s been like this for months. Months and months and months at idle.

I’ve tried editing previous stuff and have rewritten page upon page. The problem is that when everything reads like crap, everything reads like crap. So as bad as the old stuff is, the new stuff isn’t much better. I’ve tried kick starting new projects only to see them stall and grind to a stop. I watch my inspiration—whatever meager scrap I’m clinging to at the moment–ossify and harden as I type.

It’s happening now.

It’s not just that my voice seems muted; it’s that I don’t seem to have anything interesting to say. I don’t why I’m in this funk and I don’t really know how to get out of it. I’ve tried the exercises, write and write and don’t stop and I’ve produced some stuff, but… ehhh.

I tried to supplement with other creative action. I made sour cherry and ginger syrups for mojitos. I subjected dinner guests to plate after plate after plate of fruit topped with savory sauces. I did ceviche trios, pork two ways, tacos carnitas with salsa explosion, caramelized scallops on green curry risotto cakes with grilled pineapple and a chorizo cilantro broth… and it was all been yummy and healthy and satisfying but it didn’t translate to the page.

Lately, even culinary inspiration is eluding me.

Writing about politics and economics exhausts me. And besides, there’s not much to say that I haven’t already said. I’ve thought about it, believe me , I’ve thought about it. But the truth is I don’t care enough about it right now to waste the energy. The administration is inept, spiteful and amateurish and the opposition party sucks. Long-term indicators are astonishingly, mind-bendingly awful and outside a handful of econ departments nobody seems to care. Want to know what I think? It’s all here.

But still… stories languish in limbo, plot twists seem more and more hackneyed and trite and dialog stutters and tumbles as if I’d stapled stilts to the characters’ legs.

Part of the problem, I think, is that I write for myself. I don’t have deadline pressure and nobody will complain if I spend three weeks revising two hundred words, only to revert at the end to the original. There are no readers knocking on my door or sending me angry emails. No one is second-guessing my priorities and wondering why I choose to spend my time sitting on the couch with my family watching yet another food-based reality show instead of at the keyboard getting Laiathal out of prison, helping Renée get someone’s attention, or figuring what the hell Colin’s fucking purpose is in the first place. Mike is swimming in his own depression while Susan is in Japan and I haven’t done anything to help either of them. I’ve got to kill Chip and I don’t know how to do it–maybe I’ll just kill  Hiroki instead, but I don’t know. Alex’s ending changed twice and in each version it just feels like I’m punishing her, whether she gets her guy or not. Harold has cheez whiz in his hair and probably some bodies in the basement, but who knows? John can’t get out of his goddamn bedroom to move the story along.

Maybe if my characters could complain, I’d figure out some way to push them along. But they can’t, of course. So they languish, unwritten and incomplete. And I can’t find a way to make myself care about them.

I can complain, but I can’t even figure out a way to push myself along.

And of course, there’s no happy conclusion to this post. I don’t have a resolution to my problem or a magic answer for anyone else suffering from a creative depression. But I know that it sucks and I want to get out of it. I just don’t know how.

I’m just so tired.



I’m angry.

It’s anger that sits in the gut like spoiled milk.  Fermenting, curdling, and nauseating.

The world will not end because of an act of Congress. But both I and my children–and you and your children–have been made poorer.

I’ve worked hard and consider myself lucky, but I’m not wealthy. I have health insurance. As it happens, I have excellent insurance. Last night’s bill will impose a surtax on that insurance that will effectively double my annual tax bill. I’ve been careful and prudent and I am being punished and penalized. That 40% tax is simply, plainly unaffordable. I’ll have to reduce my insurance.

Of course there are others who will profit from this mess. But why, I ask, am I supposed to cheer this nakedly partisan, political decision as a triumph for social justice? Am I to understand that I had too much insurance? Was I too careful? Too prudent? Too responsible?

Why is it that those whose wealth far exceeds mine are so comfortable taking my money and making decisions about my family’s health?

What gives them the right?

Am I to understand that we have so perverted the ideals of the republic that we are to suppose that preferential treatment for Florida residents, special money to Kansas, and a last-minute, late-night $700,000 kickback are elements of social justice? I am to understand that because they could get the legislation passed that therefore it must have been right?

Universal insurance. Through a mandate. They’ve insured everyone because they’ve made it criminal to be uninsured.

Let’s be clear about this: if you do not buy health insurance you will be fined. If you do not pay the fine, you will go to prison.

If you buy too much health insurance, you will be fined. If you do not pay the fine, you will go to prison.

And this, this… monstrosity, this affront to liberty masquerades as justice?

Please don’t tell me that this is the “price of freedom” or other such nonsense. The price of freedom is not compulsion. War is not peace. Slavery is not freedom.

And please, please don’t tell me that this a recognition of a basic human right. We don’t recognize rights by criminalizing their exercise.

rotten to the core

My son’s iPod won’t sync with the computer anymore. It works fine when disconnected, but iTunes won’t recognize the device. This sucks mostly because Apple’s support is among the worst in the industry.

To correct the problem (iTunes not recognizing the iPod) the The Apple website has such helpful suggestions as “restore the origial software on the iPod by…” yes, you guessed it, applying the update to the iPod from within iTunes. But iTunes doesn’t recognize the iPod, so the solution is to have iTunes recognize the iPod… … Apple brilliance strikes again.

As for tech support, Apple will only talk to me if I pay them $30. That’s not a charge to fix the problem, that’s the cost for the phone call.

Since the device otherwise works and since it will accept a charge through, it appears that the problem is a software problem. A software problem that, because it’s Apple, can only solved by replacing the hardware. That kind of idiotic hardware/software lock in is, of course, a feature to the kind folks at Apple, not a bug.

Cut where? There??

At Yahoo News.

The Commander of the American Legion is upset because the Obama administration wants to push some VA health care costs into the private sector, essentially billing combat wounded veterans for the cost of their care.

Here, in case anyone is curious, are Obama’s campaign promises regarding Veteran care.

I realize that Obama needs to try and cut spending where he can (although he found money to subsidize tattoo removal), and I’m all for saving money and cutting spending… but this seems an odd place to start.

When you’re quadrupling the federal deficit it seems odd to then insist that combat veterans pay for their medical care. Of all the things the federal govt. spends its money on, medical care for combat wounded veterans seems the most reasonable.