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Brief Impressions At the Still Point 

By David Eide


"It does not take a majority to prevail...but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men."

Samuel Adams

Some Impressions on Politics

Politics is important because the Constitution makes all the people players. Franklin's challenge that, "we've given you a Republic if you can keep it," makes more sense now than 1787. After all, the generations up to the present can say, "we've kept the Republic going for 220 years. Will the subsequent generations be able to say the same?"

People suffer with bad politics. Just go ask the people of New Orleans or Iraq. Democracy tempers politics to a degree that would have been admired by many in the past. Words can hurt but those knives and vials of poison can create generations worth of bloodshed.

The problem is that politics is good only when the critical mass of people in it have an extensive knowledge of the structure of power, from the founding document up through all the add-ons, through the administrations of executive power, to the major crises the government is called on to solve. Only then can they produce authentic leadership from themselves rather than leadership that is fabricated out of images, sound-bites, consultants, and the like.

And without that critical mass of people you lose the republic and gain an enormous front for criminal activity and neglect of the people who, despite their self-myth, can not do it all themselves in the modern world.

* * * * * * * *

Politics is never good when the critical mass of people are dumb and ignorant and the critical mass of politicians ambitious and savvy. At that moment the democracy is in need of critical care.

* * * * * * * *

In the absence of government many "powers" would fight it out as they are doing in the vacuum of Iraq.

It's hard to imagine any time or place experiencing an "absence of government." Thinking like an anarchist may be an excellent, safe way to gain perspective but I don't think even 40,000 years ago cavemen ran around without ways and means to distribute power. It seems bred into animals that want to survive.

Terrible governments are marked by corruption-as-a-way-of-life. It becomes a necessary habit that is enforced by the bureaucratic will to survive. This is called, "choking off the lifeblood of the people."

A citizen stands in a specific place. He follows a thread through the local community, region, state, on up to the federal level. When the thread knots at one of these places the citizen asks a simple question, "what reality is this level of government acting on?"

The key to the art of politics is to tie together the abstractions at various levels of power with the actual experience of human beings. The people behind the scenes in politics deal with the algorithms of politics while the politician always tries to connect to the people and share in their experience. They attempt it or fake it but once there is disconnect between leadership and the people there is no ability to lead them anywhere.

* * * * * * * *

Katrina proved that the huge bubble at the core of bureaucracy is significant when incompetent or corrupt.

* * * * * * * *

March 19, 2007

Thank goodness reality is always bigger, tougher, and more enduring than our opinions about it.

* * * * * * * *

The Republicans are in that place where all baseball teams must go. A few bad seasons, a few bad decisions and suddenly they are out of the pennant before the All-Star game. The fans boo and start going to women's basketball games. The real fans expect the team to strip themselves of the debacle and re-make the team from the bottom-up. "To the bottom you go. You are going to see interesting things at the bottom, Republicans. Some things will terrify you, some will turn on the juices of exploitation again. But, you will not return until you regain your credibility that has been destroyed by the Iraq fiasco."

So saith some law of political justice.

* * * * * * * *

How come men who tried to kill each other in war, later on embrace as old men and talk about peace? But politicos never resolve and are bitter to the end? War is the final act of politics and if politics fails to become war the actors are frustrated, unrequited. That's only a guess.

* * * * * * * *

Eventually the domestic scene in politics centers on poverty. Poverty and the environmental concerns may clash; may not. The environmental problems are certainly more articulated these days with global warming dancing in the minds of anyone who goes out into the open air.

The concern for poverty seems way on the back-burner. One but not the only reason is that the middle-class disconnected from the question when poverty was radicalized and racialized. Throw the pc crowd in there to do everything possible to prevent students from taking on middle-class values and there is a regular piss-pot of disinterest among the propertied class.

That is, the class that confers the final value on political ideas.

Here's what has to happen.

  1. Liberal thinkers have to assert that poverty transcends race and gender.
  2. The goal of poverty-policy is to move poor people into the middle-class, with middle-class values and expectations. It is not to "radicalize" the poor and their supporters.
  3. The middle-class must be convinced that policies will enhance the power of the middle-class to deal with a much more militant, almost imperial wealthy class that won't even fight in their war for "survival."
  4. When the middle-class has a mighty shift in this direction, away from wealth and towards poverty, politicians will be jumping like hungry rabbits to lead them.

* * * * * * * *

The Democrats are in danger of losing a lot of credibility with their call for troop "phase out." They are trying to deal with an irrational act by being "rational" but all they do is expose themselves to the fact their unreality is on par with the unreality of the Republican party. When I look at each party I see two fuzzy-wuzzy animals that don't have a clue when it comes to war and conflict.

Iraq has become another quintessential war of politics and that means failure. Not that it's bad that politics is involved, obviously, but that truth-telling and fact-finding become impossible. Violent opinions sift through each other and "something" is resolved. Meanwhile, on the field of battle, complete disaster.

The key to winning a conflict is leadership. All else is irrelevant. Most genuine citizens have called Bush a failed leader. The Republicans were chastised by the mid-term election of last year and should be held over the burning coals in 2008. The Democrats have to play it right down the middle.

The ultimate burden of responsibility belongs with Bush and his administration. Let the policy attain whatever level of success or failure it's going to. The Democrats, by rushing so ferociously into the vacuum of the Bush administration, could be trapped by what they are saying, especially about "phased withdrawal," which means what? We could very well witness a repeat of the tragic events after the end of the Vietnam war when southeast Asia became a killing field.

Democrats have to convince the people they are not "isolationists." And there are more than a few people who want the rest of the world to go away so they can engage in the innocuous sports they do. "Why can't we just play? Don't we pay taxes? Leave us alone! I don't want to think about the future."

So it goes, as the novelist said.

March 14, 2007

A Few Impressions of American Culture

Two enormous changes have marked this epoch in American history. For one, the economy now produces "surplus," rather than scarcity. It's not that money grows on trees but that Americans expect to live fairly well by just showing up. This is markedly different than the historic scarcity that sharply divided the roles between the genders and allowed for the development of two qualities now missing from American life: Deferral of gratification and sacrifice. In fact, the military is about the only institution where these attributes survive and last I looked there isn't an overwhelming desire on the part of young people to join up.

The second change is that no one and nothing in American experience prepared us for the role of "worlds only superpower." Psychologically this demands an end to the small-town, sentimental qualities that has marked American culture and to something that is rather ancient and calculating and less than ideal.

It's the idealism of democracy and its conscience versus the realpolitic of a world not-America.

This change is vented off and expressed in a number of ways, in and out of popular culture. The real question is if this huge contradiction eviscerate the heart and soul of the people.

The people are sometimes disciplined by economic necessity. It can be a gravitational force that keeps things rolling onward. Stray from this force and ye will be eradicated like a meteor trying to reach the surface of Earth. It seems that way for anyone who has had to scratch to survive. The problem with this universal experience is that it tends to produce bitter, cynical, and intolerant people.

Somehow America has to produce self-disciplined people who are open to new knowledge, new things and new experience. Maybe the future depends on the art of this.

* * * * * * * *

We are a better society because of the civil rights movement. We have learned that respect for other people is the first rung on the ladder to a civil society. We have embraced the voice of rightness and reason that wants all people and every single person to fulfill their potential and empty that back into the society that belongs to all. It was not a smooth road.

Every man has his pride. One of the arts of life is to maintain and nurture the pride while negotiating through the demands of the larger society.

A free man or woman uses the resources that are available only so new and better resources will develop. This takes patience and knowledge to fully manifest itself.

* * * * * * * *

Where is the resolution between "morality" as we understand the term and "bigness" "hugeness" and effects never experienced on planet Earth? The character of the people and of a whole epoch hinges on that question.

February 28, 2007

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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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