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Brief Observations At the Still Point

President Bush spoke today in front of a large group of stone-faced, unenthusiastic Marines. He said what he needed to say. But, I ask again, who among the Republicans and their kids are volunteering for Iraq? And that is the bottom-line. And I ask Senator Warner who defended the president, "What does Iraq have to do with the "war on terrorism?" This was an Ahab like operation that President Bush was manipulated into doing on behalf of Rumsfeld and the rest of the Bush-Senior people. And it's disgusting that no one has the courage to speak out against it.

Iraq is irrelevant. The waste is appalling. The damage to America is incredible. Getting rid of Hussein does nothing against the threat of terrorism. Bin Laden was the greater prize but that was given up. If we go into Iraq on the pretext of handing the people a "democracy," why aren't we in all other parts of the world that are backward and awash in military dictators and theocracies? President Bush has made us the hypocrites of the modern world.

It is so telling that the young Republican conservatives are not serving up their asses for this "cause,"; no one is. Is there anything more disgusting than rich, privileged kids who argue on behalf of power but will not fight their wars? No. Absolutely nothing.

Empty, useless words. Those come out of this president. And people die for those empty, useless words.

The only way we can get out of Iraq is if we pay off the terrorists. And one of those payoffs will be a "seat at the table," and when America leaves the scene the terrorists will bite off a bit of territory for themselves and have the staging area they've always coveted. That's a scenario at any rate. It's obvious the American people will not tolerate ten or twelve years of this nonsense.

Certainly we should monitor the bad-boy weapons and those who want to possess them. No question. The American people will tolerate that for many decades.

* * * * * * * *

President Bush does not diminish, one iota, my love for America and all its promise, potential, and honorable history. It's very difficult not to be concerned about both his foreign policy and economic policy.

In foreign policy he is trying to initiate a democracy in the middle of a chaotic, bloody insurrection. He is trying to do this with half the troops he needs (according to the experts), allowing, then, Rumsfeld to call the shots and formulate an idea of military strategy that was pre-9/11. The situation is so foul it's very hard to say what needs to happen or what should happen. And all good people would want the best for the Iraqi people. Reality seems to get in the way.

There was a very pungent analysis of the epoch-making changes taking place in American economy. The opinion piece in the Baltimore Chronicle by Paul Craig Roberts points to a continual shift of capital from the West to the East due to a number of factors.

It is intolerable that the American people can not be criticized for contributing to the demise of their own democracy. This has become a taboo subject. "Oh, don't mess with the people, they work hard and do what is expected of them. It's the corporations, the corrupt politicians, the pornographers, the Hollywood types, the fundamentalists... these are the agents of demise in this society."

The future hinges on the health and acuity of the people. Nothing more, nothing less. When the people decline then America will revert to the European model that has elite's in the driver's seat for centuries and the people kept dumbed-down. There is nothing more controllable than a dumbed-down, superstitious, fearful, powerless person. The Church learned this long ago and now the elite's of our own kind have learned the lesson. That's why they will never permit a sorry word said against the people. But, we lay almost all the blame at their feet.

Produce a critical mass of excellent, thinking, liberal, democratic, self-reliant, relatively sober, aware, people who demand from their press, from their government, from their businesses a range of excellent results and you will produce an excellent liberal democracy. And, to be fair, sometimes it approaches this place but it hasn't recently. Our era is a foul one. It is filled with nasty and parasitical celebritism, stupid people who say that nonplussed O'Reilly is a better journalist than Woodward, ugly people who have not a scintilla of redemption in them. They've given up God, beauty, truth, and all other demanding things for something that always appears suspect, awful and doomed to extinction.

But then, the people are multitudinous and complex. There is no quaint phrase to wrap them up and deliver them to the mind. In America, literally, a thousand flowers bloom. This is the truth and true experience of one who is experienced and wants the better part of nature to flourish. Honesty makes us admit that whatever abstractions we have about the American people are complex emotions within ourselves, cut and woven out of our adventures among all these people. Sometimes it is good, sometimes not so good.

But, the people stretch beyond our abstractions and into nooks and crannies we can scarcely know. Many people in this society can startle one with their beatific sense of things. The more alert, the better one is.

At the top, the literary imagination watches the prancing show of those in power, hands on the levers and buttons that initiate the good, bad, and ugly. They are who they are. And they are not embarrassed by it!

Nonetheless, we can not divorce the upper layer of ruling types to the grand forest of people out of which the upper emerges. It all comes from below. So, if the upper layer types and institutions seem foul to us we blame the people and say they are co-conspirators in the debacle.

June 30, 2005

A conscious American political life has two complementary aspects to it. It is usually seeded in idealism; the idealism sets the stage and then comes the fierce entrance into pragmatism akin to a space capsule re-entering the Earth's atmosphere. Idealism is utterly necessary because there's nothing that exists or is done that was not seeded in an idea. And so the typical American political animal must go through a period where ideas are seeded, where ideas count. The second phase of this is a telling one; painful but inevitable.

I think of two interesting innovations that came to the fore in the 70's and have had different destinies. One of those was the personal computer. The other was solar power. Both of these were part of the idealism of the 60's. The personal computer was brought into being to fight the dark Darth Vader mainframe computers located in police agencies and credit card companies. With the combination of idealism and strong anti-authority trends at the time it was believed that personal, desktop computers would give the citizens some equity in relation to these vast powers. Powers that turned healthy, liberal, democratic citizens into schleps who go through life not knowing what has hit them.

There was also an environmental, resource problem and solar power was thought to be an answer. Ah, windmills! Every house built using passive solar techniques! Even using the tides and ocean thermal gradients to develop endless sources of clean power.

Both of these ideas were part of the idealism of that time. One made it back into the Earth's atmosphere, stronger than anyone could have predicted. Solar power had a different destiny, not quite disintegrating in the atmosphere but having difficulty in making it safely to the ground.

Both exemplify why some politics works and why some do not. An idea must be held in the hands of many distinct powers. And the only way that idea is going to get form is through the cooperation of those distinct powers which can be characterized as, financial, political, technical, legal, consumer, special-interest and the rest of it. In the case of computers resistance broke down early because there was an apparent market both in the business and consumer section. In the case of solar power there was a lot of resistance and not a great public demand for it. People only care that when they press a button or turn a switch it works. They scarcely give any attention to all the work and technology and money that is necessary to bring that power to their fingertips. Computers however, are hands-on and people identify with them.

The odd thing is that in the long run solar power or renewable energy could be much more significant to the future for the nation than computers. So, while it runs into pragmatic resistance it remains an ideal and is kept alive as such. Again, this is part of the political education of the citizen.

June 1, 2005

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Previous Events:

Post-election 2004

Election 2004

On Political Culture

On the Debates

War on Terrorism

The California Recall

The Progressive Era

What is a perfect President?

On Political Culture

On JFK Assassination

The Clinton Bubble

The state of things


Affirmative Action

Liberals and Nuders

The Trent Lott Affair

Why the Democrats are in Trouble

The Uncertain Decade

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