Today’s Agenda

Item One: Please visit Amygdala, and if you the means, please send Gary some support. It’s a fact that as a culture we’re still living in the Dark Ages as far as mental and mood disorders are concerned, and if you are hampered by such the world cuts you no slack. It’s why a lot of us end up, shall we say, financially challenged.

Item Two: WTF? For pro and con on the looming domestic spending freeze, see Matt Yglesias (trying to put the best face on it) and Brad DeLong (“Barack Herbert Hoover Obama?”) Robert Reich thinks it’s a huge mistake. Paul Krugman hasn’t weighed in yet, but I expect him to be shrill. [Update: Yep, pretty much.]

And may I say, I really wish I didn’t have so many ties to the community here, or I’d seriously consider relocating to another country before it’s too late. Maybe I can get everyone else to move with me.

Item Three: A couple of days ago I ran into a post written by a Buddhist on a conservative blog, and it was one of the more surreal things I’ve seen on the Web lately. I posted a comment on it in the forum on the Buddhism website, and if you feel inclined to discuss it, please go there. It’s funnier if you understand Buddhist doctrine, but even if you don’t I’m sure you can still see the weirdness.

The funniest part, to me, is that the author attributes her conversion to political conservatism to the teachings of the late Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche. The Rinpoche was many outrageous things, but conservative wasn’t one of them.

19 thoughts on “Today’s Agenda

  1. Definitely weird, but then, peoples and places which are strongly Buddhist have not been exempt from political extremism and nonsensical thinking and behavior. Something about the wingnut mind tends to reduce religion, faith and spirituality to the same simple elements as it does in politics. There is probably some chromosome missing which prevents the development of some minds from understanding the world in terms other than black and white, right or wrong, up or down.

  2. I hardly agree with Brad Delong that even trimming worthless programs encountering resistance with entrenched interests is insurmountable as a large portion of the country, most affected by the depression want to see Obama deal firmly with Wall Street. Obama cannot and will not be popular with everyone. However, it will be better to grow out of favor with those who most need opposition and through that getting the support he needs from everyone else. Evidently he doesn’t see benefit in that.

    The “freeze” has hardly had time to be dissected so most assessments are contingent upon the unveiling of details. It’s too bad he wasn’t able to present it in a discussion that started with what it intends to address. If Obama is trimming items with dismal multipliers and to some extent with replacing with or leaving in place something more stimulating then it could be good.

    Krugman, who I find more frank and tongue-in-cheek than shrill, says as much:

    Now, I still cling to a fantasy: maybe, just possibly, Obama is going to tie his spending freeze to something that would actually help the economy, like an employment tax credit. (No, trivial tax breaks don’t count). There has, however, been no hint of anything like that in the reports so far. Right now, this looks like pure disaster.

    I don’t really find the self-deprecating fantasy reference shrill. He always posits some silver lining. “Looking like disaster”…well, if that’s his opinion as an economist I want to hear it. It would be worse to believe this and say otherwise or defend what lacked intellectual veracity on account of being in the administration. I’ll go get my sugar elsewhere.

    At some point we’ll look back at this and if, in retrospect, he was right will that make it less shrill? Being right has been an undervalued commodity in this decade. I’d gladly take a few sharp points and rough edges with accompanied by being right.

  3. Pat — you are missing the blogospheric connotation of “shrill,” in which being “shrill” is not necessarily bad. Krugman was known to be one of the first people with a voice in mass media to get shrill about the Bush Administration, and I admire him for that. So I meant “shrill” as kind of a compliment.

  4. I’ve concluded that people are wired to be liberal or conservative (IOW, inclusive or exclusive toward other people, other folkways) before they adopt some particular religious philosophy. On the surface, there’s enough variety in the teachings of any time-tested religion for people to use it as kind of rorshact test – conservatives will see in it what they want to see, and liberals will do the same.

    Of course, as a liberal, I would argue that going past formal teachings and directly experiencing the essence of any spiritual path firsthand – which transcends the particular branding and packaging of all exoteric religions – brings the liberal and conservative impulses into balance, while tending toward a liberal, all embracing, inclusive view of life. That’s a fancy way of saying “if you’re really an X” (x=Buddhist or Christian or Jew or whatever…) you would be a liberal. Not too biased, am I?

    What I get form the writer’s background is that she is someone who needs a lot of structure, and so conservative anything would appeal to her. And so those aspects of Buddhism which seem conservative to her, ring her bell. It’s the old rorshact test in action. Further, it’s clearly these conservative aspects her personality needs to correct itself and bring it into balance. Perhaps later on, she’ll understand what it’s really about 🙂

  5. “And may I say, I really wish I didn’t have so many ties to the community here, or I’d seriously consider relocating to another country before it’s too late. Maybe I can get everyone else to move with me.”

    My wife says this and I gotta tell you in irritates me to no end. Really. Why? Why would anyone give up in trying to save this nation. It’s frustrating and hard, but I do not think that when you work hard and get the word out one on one, there is always a positive response. Populism and Progressivism can, and has, worked together.
    Forget leaving, let them go if they want. I am not giving up on this nation.
    This is my country and I will see it progress to the next stage of maturity.

  6. The final line:

    The Buddha stood for hard work, restraint, and honor. Sounds like a conservative manifesto to me.

    Weird. Bush, Palin, and Limbaugh seem anything but, as much as they try to spin otherwise. Did the Buddha mention that leaders shouldn’t be worshipped too blindly?

    • Did the Buddha mention that leaders shouldn’t be worshipped too blindly?

      Yeah, he did, sorta kinda. He also said don’t believe stuff just because you read it in scripture.

  7. I want to believe that Obama is floating a trial balloon in order to generate just this reaction from people like Krugman, in order to shut down freeze proponants before they can get any traction. I don’t know if I actually believe this, but I want to believe it.

  8. Pardon my mistaking your meaning, Maha. By and large, I respect most all of your assertions and positions. Glad to be mistaken on that one.

  9. I bet the Buddha didn’t whip himself with a belt like pope John Paul did. Forgive me for saying it.. But when a person starts whipping themselves( especially when on vacation) I think they are desperately sick with mental illness. And I think that people who praise that kind of sickness by adulating the sicko as a saint are even sicker yet.

  10. All the mentions of Alinsky in that “Buddhist” piece might have been the oddest part for me. I wasn’t familiar with Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, but after reading that link I doubt the American Thinker writer was, either.

    • Yeah, she mentioned Alinsky three times. It’s striking how their little obsessions keep bubbling to the surface, and how they connect everything they dislike to everything else they dislike as if it’s all one big conspiracy.

      Trungpa was genuinely outrageous. Compared to him, the Ginsburg-Kerouac “beat Zen” crew seem inhibited. Somebody should make a film of his life someday. Trungpa also was hugely influential in western Buddhism, and his approach was pretty much the polar opposite of the American Thinker writer’s.

    • Which country (or -ies) were you considering

      🙂 I’m easy. Anyplace where English is spoken and there’s decent coffee.

  11. Well, I think Robin’s point is perfectly clear. Everything that people find praiseworthy is a conservative value. There are praiseworthy tenets of Buddhism; therefore, Buddhism is a conservative religion.

    It’s like lunchroom mockery; the victim eats a banana because he’s a dumb, ugly monkey; the bully can eat a banana because s/he likes bananas. Only, instead of bully and victim, you have a variety of political stances.

  12. “I’ve concluded that people are wired to be liberal or conservative (IOW, inclusive or exclusive toward other people, other folkways) before they adopt some particular religious philosophy. ”

    I’ve come to the same conclusion. It seems to me that some people are just missing the empathy gene…for lack of source identification, I’ll call it that. They seem to sometimes have the ability to express sympathy. They even grasp empathy if it is something direct. A family or friend. Beyond that they seem to not grasp the skill of standing in someone elses shoes and feeling what they must be feeling. Most of liberals I know have this skill. Most of the fox nation I know don’t.
    Why? I have no idea. My guess is that we only acquire it at a certain point of spirit development and they ain’t there yet.

    I recognize how elitist that sounds but I really don’t intend it that way. We all have to learn the lessons.

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