Sam Harris gets it wrong again about Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

Sam Harris is one of my favorite public personas.  He has written several books that have changed the way I think about myself, about God, about morality and about spirituality.  This includes The Moral Landscape, Letter to a Christian Nation, and Waking Up.  His podcast is usually entertaining and informative.  But on the subject of politics, I’m finding Sam Harris to be just as obtuse and dogmatic with regards to the Trump and Sanders populist phenomenon as Ben Affleck was when he attacked Harris on the Bill Maher show a while back.

In his recent podcast, he does it again, and my blood has begun to boil.  I just wanted to post my outrage and reasons for it.  Sam continued to argue in the months running up to the election that anyone who supported Bernie Sanders did not see what a bad person Donald Trump was, and even though Hillary was a soulless and crafty liar, a vote for Bernie is after all a vote for Trump, so any person supporting Bernie over Hillary was basically voting for Trump.

He has interviewed a few people about this, but one thing I notice is that he never seems to want to give a public voice to people who actually plan to vote for Trump or Sanders.  He only feels comfortable talking with other overly intellectual and tepid voices on the subject.  Maybe he’s afraid that too much truth on the subject is going to make America devolve into gang rapes and shootings.  The thing that arrogant people like Sam Harris don’t get is that what is missing from the equation, what is depressing votes and causing increased anger with the system as a whole in America, is that it continues to only serve the interests of wealthy corporate interests over and over.  In support of this, America goes to war over and over in a way that is clearly aligned with increasing the profits of corporations and which only tangentially seems aligned with human rights and decency.

Both Trump and Sanders amassed large crowds of enthusiastic people by talking to them about this message.  Hillary is a corporate shill, a Goldwater warmonger, who threw women’s rights and gay rights under the bus publicly when it really counted.  She is unlikeable and has no connection to anything that I value at all that I can detect.  But as a progressive, I’m supposed to support her because Trump is what?  A warmonger?  So is she.  Anti-women?  So is she.  A corporate liar?  Ditto for her.

I had the audacity to support a candidate that I believed in, first Bernie, then when he lost, Jill Stein.  This is something Sam Harris considers a childish and selfish reaction to a lack of choice.  How dare I actually vote for who I want in America?  Don’t I know that I’m supposed to vote for whom I’m told to by the media and the insiders in Washington?  Anything else is a wasted vote!  The mature approach, he would say, is to swallow my desire for a good candidate and vote for Hillary, because otherwise we get Trump, and Trump is Hitler.  The name for that argument is “demagoguery.”  Ironically, it’s exactly how Hitler was elected.  That’s right, Hitler was elected by demonizing his opponents.  Exactly the way Hillary tried to get elected.  Is Hillary Hitler?  No, but they have similar names, so I’ll let you decide on that.

Anyhow, I’m sorry, but I’m not going to sell out my conscience to a bunch of bullshit propaganda, selfishness, and demagoguery.  Hillary said nothing I believed and supported.   Obama is starting a new conflict in Somalia even as we speak, bombing another poor black country as part of a plan laid out more than 10 years ago under President Bush, which he has executed in perfect lockstep  apparently.  Hillary would have continued and escalated those wars.  Obama continues to imprison people for drug offenses that he himself committed in the past.

I’m just so angry at all the self-righteous supposed liberals that have looked the other way for our warmongering Nobel Peace Price winning President, who looked the other way for Hillary and attacked Bernie Sanders, and now will not admit their mistake when Trump is President because of the failed strategy of grabbing votes from the right instead of playing to populism on the left.  Sam Harris is such a man.  Where was his concern for all this before Trump?  Just completely absent.

Go back to your neuroscience and spiritual inquiry, Sam, I’ve learned a lot from them.  But get off your high horse when it comes to politics.  If you want to find out what Trump supporters think why not get one on your program?  And if you want to be honest about Sanders, maybe ask one of his supporters?  Maybe you’ll learn that you really don’t care much about the common man, don’t really understand working people in America or across the world.  It’s OK, understanding this is a move forward to acting on it.

As Kennedy famously said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”   Let’s hope the media pundits start understanding this and stop pretending to be doing real journalism while ignoring the obvious history unfolding in front of all of us.

 

 

The mind of a smoker

For a long time now, I’ve had the mind of a non-smoker.  Smoking is stupid, dirty, a waste of money, and a danger to your health.  And I think that’s part of the point of why people do it.  It’s like a big middle finger to the world of concern, a way to express how little you are worried about what life has to bring you.

But the irony is that smoking makes you less healthy, and therefore less well equipped to deal with whatever really shows up in your life.

My history with smoking began when I was 10 years old.  I smoked for 10 years, finally quitting when I was 20.  It’s a habit that was very hard to break, and one that subsequently I never missed.  I always was proud at my willpower in finding a way out of that trap.

Well, a year or so ago, some friends and I were out drinking and one of them decided to smoke a cigarette.  On a whim, I joined in.  I don’t know why.  I was drunk and it seemed like a fun departure from my normal routine.  We were celebrating freedom and new beginnings, and it just seemed to fit into the mood of lascivious debauchery.  It was such a fun add-on that I began occasionally smoking after that.  In fact, I can say looking back on 2016, that this has been the biggest mistake I’ve made.  Slowly, bit by bit, month by month, I became more of a smoker.

I did not consider myself a smoker, just someone that occasionally smoked.  I never got above 5 cigarettes in a day.  Most days I did not smoke at all.  But by the time I moved here to Bangkok, three weeks ago, I had really basically in truth become an occasional smoker.  I have recently noticed that most weeks, most days I smoke at least one cigarette, and the past week I think I have smoked between one and five cigarettes every day.  I have started heading downstairs for a smoke, specifically for that purpose.

This morning, as I was on a biweekly call to my friends, in which we support each other in what’s important in our lives, I finally decided to call bullshit on this.  I have quit.  Part of me does not want to.  But the part of me that I want running my life, the part that gives me health, strength, and happiness, knows that cigarettes are just not part of a smart and strong plan for living life.  I love sports, I love physical activity, and I need all the strength I can muster for the international adventure I’ve chosen for my life.

So this morning this note is on my wall.

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When I say I’m going to do something and make a clear statement like this, I do it.  I threw my cigarettes in the trash and told my friends I’m quitting.  I’m posting this for the world to see.  I dug my cigarettes back out and urinated on them!  LOL  It’s over.  Good riddance.