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Writers Notebook
In The Jury Box;

By David Eide


"....when you decide a case you bring in all your experience, knowledge, and common are not a robot."
Instruction of a judge to a jury.


There's more information about feeds here.

Impressions of Debate and Decline

Pure objectivity is that realm where emotions run wild beneath a knowing eye that always sees a well-reasoned argument trumped by a pretty face.

* * * * * * * *

Perhaps the ascension of Governor Palin is a sign from God to start learning how to kill, clean, dress, and prepare meals from wild animals you stalk in the nearest wood. Butchered animals may become the coin-of-the-realm as in the old days.

* * * * * * * *

The debate and some of the poll numbers afterward prove that Biden was very substantial and Palin well-crammed with rhetorical devices and the technique of not-listening-to-your-opponent-but-pick-out-key- phrases-then-launch-into-a-pre-packaged rant. And smile. And wink.

But in the end the people will reject her because there is no substance or credibility in anything she has said. Let her go back and finish her term as governor, then let her run for the Senate and get her behind the beltway where she will develop the same baggy eyes, piss and vinegar as the other members. Then let us see her level of credibility.

* * * * * * * *

The people rightly believe we are in a crisis on many levels and are demanding gravitas rather than clever TV-style persona.

After all, the Reagan Era is coming to a close.

And as we all fall toward the bottom the coin-of-the-realm will be basic values. And Obama is the value-laden candidate having spent 20 years at the bottom, working in tough communities in a tough city.

We will, as a nation, go to the bottom. Obama has already been there. And from that painful bottom we will build up and out, slowly and surely until we are far from this mess. It will take years so get a dose of deferred gratification and start saving money.

McCain is locked into the mess that got us to this point. After all it was "mavericks" that killed Enron. It was financial "mavericks" that have killed the financial system. And a "maverick" at the highest level of government will kill us all. Mavericks belong at the bottom inventing, creating, building and living new things and ways.

There is nothing more dangerous than a "maverick" at the height of wealth and power.

* * * * * * * *

The McCain/Palin ticket is filled with delusion about how they are going to "lower taxes" at a time when government is spending billions to bail out Wall Street, billions to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, billions to fight protracted wars in the middle-east. And where revenues are falling day by day. How are they going to pay for all those education reforms and teachers Gov. Palin referred to without new taxes? And how is this team going to renovate the bureacracy while putting a vast oversight on the greedy bastards on Wall Street? Won't that take a huge bureacracy?

The Republicans should be shamed back to the margins and renovate themselves first before they tackle these very serious issues. Their credibility is nil.

McCain is in love with wealth and power.

* * * * * * * *

The single best attribute to have in the citizens of a liberal democracy is the ability to objectify power. The typical Roman citizen, living well or living poorly, could never see the next storm coming, could never predict the end of his identity as a citizen of Rome, could not see the calamity of poor leadership. He could only feel the effects and simply developed a cynical or angry relation to fate. "Hey, what can I do about it? It's up to the gods."

But self-rule implies an ability to objectify and bring in as many resources to do the deed, including scientific techniques. Without this ability any political state or party promotes its own myth while the walls crumble and crash all around. The myth may be more soothing to the emotions but the end result is catastrophe. We place the Presidency of George Bush as primary evidence.

In the case of the present crisis we assign blame to Wall Street, Main Street, and the Beltway. But it is past blame at this point. We are struggling for our survival in ways that will become clearer in the next few years.

McCain and Palin evidence no ability to grasp the crisis we are in and how it is going to cripple all three of those guilty sectors. All I heard from both of them in their debates is gas; the same political gas that has gotten us into the horrible mess. They filled the air with the same rhetorical devices I was taught in high school to avoid like "folksy" talk and "glittering generalities."

* * * * * * * *

If any myth is developed about America it should be a private one developed by the people in answer to questions like, "why is government important," and "how do things work," and "what has experience taught me about leadership?"

The emotions come because people are tribal and want to mystically identify with power or heroically destroy it. This is especially acute in a very fragmented culture such as this one where a thousand identities clash for, if not supremacy, some high degree of visibility.

In that sense Americans are no different than Iraqi's or Nigerians. The difference comes with the habits of democracy that have been relatively successful to this point. The people have learned over time that you win and lose equally and there is no need for gun play.

But those habits come from some idea of progress; in other words the ability to defer gratification, a degree of sacrifice wholly displaced in our time by a belief in "the sacred moment," divided between new age belief and fundamentalism. This is a hugely irrational force and has destroyed every vestige of rational thinking, therefore, the culture we live in. It is a "romantic" culture in every way, shape, and form. And that is to be expected in a society that has become largely a speculative one getting further and further from its foundations.

One can nearly hear the disaster coming down the tracks. It's no different than when an individual loses his or her foundations and begins to build his or her self on mounds and mounds of speculation about how wonderful they are until they lose it all in a scheme and fall back to the good Earth.

In other words we live in a sentimental and degraded culture, sometimes combined in the same person or activity!

It is coming to an end and the fall will be a hard one. The past twenty-five years will be seen as a bastard and driven from the consciousness of the people.

* * * * * * * *

The current political question is a simple one: Who will open the door to the future? McCain is too full of himself and too cynical to do it. He will promulgate the Republican myth and will be connected to the same people who brought us Bush, Inc. The Republicans are in a standard moment of disintegration that occurs after a long, fairly successful run from Reagan onward. These runs have a natural life, decay, and then have to be reinvented on the basis of "what comes next," which is usually completely out of their power to do anything about.

A fundamental change is coming.

Obama is the only one who has the capability of doing what Reagan did: Connect with a critical mass of people and wheel the nation in a whole new direction that creates, if nothing else, fascinating new sources of energy. This will happen even as he goes through a very rocky two years and is pegged a "one-trick pony," by the pundits. A shift will occur, perhaps with the collaboration between the baby-boomers and X'ers and the agreement to a new thesis that the Obama Administration will articulate. It will be values-based.

McCain calls himself, with his nasty smile, a maverick but no maverick surrounded himself with so many insiders and lobbyists as McCain has done. And, besides, mavericks are young people. An old maverick is usually an entertaining con-man who keeps wondering why his snake-oil isn't selling as it did in the past.

* * * * * * * *

And what new horizons open up if America leaves the hideous nature of the last forty years!

We've created a perfect tension because we know history and we know all things end, even the Sun. Only by seeing that end can we put pressure on ourselves to think boldly about how America fulfills its potential.

And if America is wrecked 220 years from now, the same amount of years from the Constitution to the present, what would we want to survive as a legacy for the future? One would be the protection of the individual from the abuses of power. Two would be the freedom to develop the resources toward the most productive, creative, bountiful ends. A third would be a culture that promotes the full development of the self. A fourth would be checks and balances in the political state. These come to mind. But it's much more likely that the world will revert back to the ancient and medieval way and call "freedom" a total failure, like "marxism."

How dependent it is on one and all!

* * * * * * * *

The erosion of the individual is the first canary to die in the mineshaft called "decline."

And that means, not simply his or her rights but her morale as a free person.

It goes to some of the questions I had as a young lad growing up in another crisis-laden period in the 70's. What kind of effect was noise, technology, information, huge complex cities, etc having on the morale of the citizen? We had obviously grown up and out of the democratic utopia's of the transcendentalists. The two effects I saw were, (1) everything in the society produced in the public or private sector belongs to the people in real and psychological terms. This produces pride in the people but it also produces blindness to the destructive capacity of some of the effects, and, (2) we are made mute to the huge system of complexity. Our lives and deaths mean nothing to the complexity we have built. We are perpetually ignorant, therefore at the mercy of other people who have scoped us out to predict our habits of buying and voting. And then using propaganda techniques to skewer the hapless people to move this way, now that way.

The only solution to these views is knowledge, facts, and a joyful integrity of self. Knowledge and facts have replaced utopian ideas at the core of the culture. These things demand a very strong secular education that teaches people how to gather facts, how to deal with knowledge, and how to verify each so they are credible. It also takes a process of "growth and development" where young people have a true "education of the senses," rather than a blotting out of the senses as they have today.

Vast numbers of people don't care apparently. Or they have been stripped of everything but greed, sex hormones, and hate for anything that is different than themselves.

* * * * * * * *

The last few days have proven this to be the worst run of political culture since Nixon-Carter in the 70's. At the end of that period America was a wreck. From the wreckage came Reagan who had the ability to connect with the critical mass of people and effect a large swing into the future, out and away from the stink we all wanted to leave behind.

Obama is the only candidate capable of doing that now but it's the wrath of the people that will determine the direction.

September 30, 2008

Impressions of the Conventions


The Democrats appear very weak to me. They have the dynamic leader but around the leader is a very soggy party weighted down by its old politics. It's so awful to hear the message as, "give us the power, we will take the money and we will spill a lot of it in your direction." It's the same message as the Republicans although the money goes in the opposite direction with them. To couch this game in idealism or soaring rhetoric makes the whole ball of disillusionment well up; it's the ball one thought in happier times had been overcome. And when you look out over the crowd you see on the faces the unmistakable marks of, "give us the damn money!" And all the talk is about money. And it is all about money. Even God wants you to have money. Money is the thing. Money will cure all appetites. We hope to get more money. We believe we will get more money. And the drive for money is not a positive one but a resentful and habitual one. "They have money, we deserve money. What? Are they superior to us?"

And it is a point isn't it?

Well, we all know it's about the money but a new idea or a new horizon of politics needs to disguise the real motive and when it is able to do it becomes the new vital force. The Democrats are failing to do this.

Of course the convention is not over, the campaign is not over. A person of political ideas would say, "no matter, the Republicans do not deserve any more power. It's their turn to sit off on the margins and figure out what they did wrong and make some corrections. It's only honorable. Not to do so would reveal them as the very bastards the old founders Jefferson and Adams warned against. That is, the "tories," whose idea of "nation" begins and ends with their assets.

The Democrats have two big problems. One is the emergence of the old civil rights crowd who want to abscond with Obama for their own. They have the right to do so but it sends a message that is deadly to many voters, especially the swing voters. "Ah, this is not about union, it is about them." And that is a message that must be countered by Obama.

The other thing is that when I listen to them their voices are filled with lead while straining to sound like flying angels. The "old" means to many voters, welfare state, labor unions, quotas, and the one that causes more problems than any other, "self-criticism."

There is nothing new about the old no matter that the Republicans got away with it in 1980. And just the shake out of the then current assumptions did vital things. That vitality has been quite put out, dissipating through corruption, corporate malfeasance, loss of national purpose, complacency, dumbing-down, incompetance, and national fissure.

* * * * * * * *

There is great sadness etched on the face of politics because it is quintessentially a game of compromise. It can not, in the end, offer up the real goods. Most of the people know it and fight for their cause and the system objectifies it all after awhile and what needs to change, changes. It's a plodding thing and by the time those changes occur a whole new hot bed of coals has been delivered at the feet of the poor citizens.

But for the gas, shit, piss, vinegar, and vomit change and fear of change inspires, it would be a happy household.

Obama is a dynamic leader or has that potential. But the Democratic party has not learned the lessons of losers. Stop, reflect, be honest, change, get up and back into the race.

* * * * * * * *

I cringe when I hear the old rhetoric because that rhetoric has failed again and again. Nothing happens.

And who is to argue that the government should not do everything in its power to lift people up? Government should be a help-mate of sorts for people but then the people, instead of quitting when things go against them politically, need to secure themselves in self-reliant ways. Otherwise you have people dependent on the government, therefore dependent on a politics that changes every 20 years or so. That is the sadness etched on the face of politics. It can't solve the problems, ultimately. It tempers them and if things are still standing after each generation then it is deemed a success.

And it is always working under the pressure that the government itself will disappear into history. It will not in our time but quite possibly it will transmute into something totally unrecognizable to what has been produced the last 240 years. Only the change will be so slow no one will notice and by the time they do it will be too late. It will be too late because people rationalize whatever structure of power they are thrown into, even with some resistance, until the system wins them over or clobbers them. After that interesting process they are ready to kill anyone who raises a contrarian view. This happens today, it will happen two hundred and forty years from now.

By that time America may have descended to a banana republic where wealth and power is inherited by the same class of people who have hired private armies to protect them from the masses. Birth will be destiny. Born poor you will stay poor. Born lower middle-class you'll remain lower middle-class. There will not be the great surplus this country has enjoyed to keep moving people up and away from where they started. The 21st century saw a massive shift in power as the new, hugely populated nations took advantage of the tectonic shift in technology and got the upper hand. In fact America may be fully supported by China or India by that time. It may even be that without the capital resources to support the people the euthenasia clinics will be built to allow people to do their "patriotric duty," as the elites will term it.

The vote will remain but it will be pro forma, simply an empty habit "because that's the way we've always done it." The masses will be so easily manipulated the contest will be a parlor game between the more clever of the ruling classes; whose fortunes are never in jeopardy. And who have a grand laugh about the outcome as opposing lawyers do after a big case.

Historians will point out the "golden age" of the 20th and 21st centuries but reviewers will point out that, "they lived in simpler times and did not have to confront what we, the living must confront." And that could mean that every "district" has a cache of "million-lives-destroyers," or whatever they may call them. By that time the people might laugh at the instant annhiliation of millions of people. "Ah, more breathing space for the living!" And then a long swig from the jug to praise the falling ashes and their shadows over in sector 121. After all, mute, ignorant, poor they are yet alive!

* * * * * * * *

Michele Obama made a wonderful speech I believe. Very convincing, credible and takes her "attitude" off the table.

* * * * * * * *

Unspectacular speech by Hillary; in fact, the first part was a disaster because it focused exclusively on her. You could see the horrified expressions among the crowd. It was better in the second half but it reminded me of the speeches that she was criticized for giving in her campaign. I didn't feel anything from it which is probably the real measure of the inner Hillary. She killed those nasty things long ago.

It was not a disaster at the end but it made it very clear, "it's about Hillary," and that message came through loud and clear.

That said, she did not harm Obama at all and seems willing to work hard at his election.

* * * * * * * *

The Democratic party often appears to me a kind of minor league that the predatory Steinbrenners of the world cultivate in order to steal the best talent or ideas. The Democrats always want to get up to the bigs but hate the players that are already there!

* * * * * * * *

Obama's speech was the winner; one of the great political speeches of our time, probably since Cuomo's speech in San Francisco.


McCain made a surprise pick today for VP. At first I thought it was bold and it looks like a maverick move. But when you pull it apart it's apparent that McCain believes he can't win straight up against Obama and needs to get as much woman/fundamentalist support as he can.

It's a typical pandering, transparent move further complicated by the fact no one knows this person and she has two months to nail down her credibility; something that took Obama 3 years and Hillary 20 years to accomplish. And listening to her for brief snatches of time it is apparent to me she is hand-in-glove with power and speaks for power and is a kind of female equivalent of George Bush, down to the hunting and fishing part.

There was no there, there in this person I heard today.

But you never know what will happen.

Her use to pump up the base reminds me how "populism" can be a deadly toxin as well as a saving grace. It has become toxic because the rest of the world is on a course to displace America from the center and at that point you praise intelligence and scorn trailertrashism. You praise secular education because that is the tool that will vaunt China or India or both ahead of the U.S. economy and create much more hardship for the people than they can imagine. You praise statecraft because the belligerence of the Republicans forces the U.S. into disasterous confrontations, one of which we may not recover from. All this belligerence does is transform the U.S. from a beacon to a target, not even a military target but one of collective disgust and hate from a world that is much more aware of itself as a world than the U.S. understands.

The Republican "base" has done more harm to this culture than any other. They had a shot at leadership for eight years and have failed miserably. All their vaunted "moralism" is some of the grandest bullshit we've seen and heard in many decades. It was snake-oil pure and simple and the gullible American people swallowed it whole. I can not believe how deep this nation has descended; how powerfully bankrupt it is. It has become an empty shell of itself. And I hope the "owners" of the country understand the implications of that emptiness.

To be truthful I am angry at McCain for being so reckless and irresponsible as to take this person and putting her, possibly, one heart beat away from making command decisions about war, economy, environment for the whole of the nation. This, when her experience consists of "governing" less than two years a state that has less people than my county, a state that has three issues; oil, gas, and recreation/wildlife. States like Maine, Montana, the Dakotas, and Alaska have enormous beauty. And one can admire the austere spirits that come out of those areas. But due to the low amount of capital and educational resources they are marginal to the rest of the union. Every complex state, including California, has an Alaska, a Montana, a Maine, and a Dakota embedded in it somewhere; the ancient eccentricities of the people are admired but their judgements are not. I would not take the mayor of a small rural town in the Sacramento Valley and put her in as mayor of Los Angeles. That would only happen if I had so much disrepect for Los Angeles I wanted to show them "who's boss."

Or, more appropriately to use her as an old con will use the wannabe novice.

It's apparent to me that Obama has gotten inside McCain's head and the old aviator figured all this out in a flash of light; about vitalizing his base and getting some of the female vote as well as being able to promote her as an outsider/maverick without thinking through that two mavericks equals one stupid-stubborn-team in lock-step with their ignorance. It's likely her sort of small-town maverickism will melt on its first whiff of Washington money.

* * * * * * * *

It's funny to me that 1968 has finally caught up to the Republican mainstream!

* * * * * * * *

Politicians can't say what needs to be said, "Ignorant, backward, illiterate, dumb people of America, don't pull us all down to your level. That game must end. You must be pulled up to the level of, at least, average Indian or Chinese people. At least that. So get rid of your useless complacency, stupidity, and alienation and start improving yourselves." No, a politician wouldn't be caught dead saying that.

Which is why writers exist.

* * * * * * * *

I hope smart Republicans see the necessity to break their party down and remake it as good baseball executives will do when the stink of amatuerism and demoralization rise up from the team. The party is so empty now it is unbelievable. No one believes a word of what its representatives say. And even when the true believers clap and yell out inane things, I see fear in their eyes. Eyes that are embedded in very chubby, pale, old faces.

* * * * * * * *

The Republicans, not simply Bush, should be held accountable for the terrible state the United States has fallen into, during a most dangerous period, headed into a very dangerous, uncertain future. Send them back to the minor leagues, let them build out in response to the mistakes of President Obama, surrender to the new vector and start a new ball game. That is what the times are saying to me at any rate. An authentic leader will swing the gate wide into the future and sweep all the accumulated foulness of forty years to the abyss. McCain will not change one iota. Obama has a chance of changing a great deal. It is the bottom-line and it is stark.

* * * * * * * *

Leiberman made some smart remarks about bipartisianship. And apparently he was the number-one McCain choice for VP until the inner circle convinced McCain that he would flat-out lose with Leiberman as his choice. So McCain pulls a rabbit out of the hat and it uses a breast-pump and kills living animals with guns. And she appears to be a typical hypocrite or is that a typical politician?

* * * * * * * *

Governor Palin is not a dislikable person; she's phony but that is de riguer in TV-land America these days. In fact, she looks to me like the female equivalent of George Bush; a sentimental-empty-suit-2-time governor of a huge state who proved to be way over his head in his office and is now a sad, forgotten person even with four more months left to go. Killing rabbits out on the ranch didn't make him more decisive or tough. Talkin' cowboy made us meek and foolish before the world.

Governor Palin made a very dislikable speech and appeared to be the candidate-of-rotweilers rather than of the Republican Party. She took the gloves off and I'm certain the gloves will be taken off against her very shortly.

She's smart but ignorant and that is the most dangerous combination there is. It means she will be used by many people. And her spite will take it out on underlings. Once elected McCain will marginalize her as much as he can and it will finally sink in to her how used she's been. It will sting for awhile and then she will get used to it and start using the system herself. She will suddenly like the Beltway and all its allures.

The speech was uninspired because it went down, not up. It was a typical attack and quip speech and she repeated much of what she's already said.

At first she appeared to be the officious person who does the roll call. Then she turned attack-dog. A few attacks would have been appropriate but as they rolled on and on I got the sense of not a kinder, gentler nation but one of shotguns-up-your-ass if you disagree with us. If she had come on and been more "bipartisan" I think it would have put her on the right step. Now the impression I have of her is that pitbull she mentioned and I am afraid of pitbulls, especially if they have lipstick on.

A nasty sort of spirit pervaded this speech, for god's sake.

My lasting impression: "This is someone who you better watch your back on."

* * * * * * * *

McCain's speech started very weak with standard platitudes and a huge question, written in red lipstick hovering over everything, "How, fine fellow, are you going to do what you say you are going to do?"

It got much stronger at the end since he connected his pains many years ago to the pains "his country" is suffering now. It was, in the end, a good rousing political speech they would have made in the post Civil War period. The problem for McCain is that this is not 1980, he is not Reagan and he is not trying to rally the nation from a failure of Democratic rule. The vast majority of those yelping and chanting in that hall put George Bush in office. That is a more powerful indictment of a political party than anything Obama can say or that, even, the brave tales of a brave but old man can save.

Now they are cramming the delightful painted pitbull with "information" about the world outside of Alaska and how it works, at least according to McCain. That inspires great confidence that she will be awaken at 3am and make an intelligent, wise decision about something with enormous complexity and implications to it.

Idle Thoughts As the Night Approaches

Why does one worry about liberal democracy? I'm not even certain I "worry" about it in the sense that I believe it will go away and be replaced by something harsher and more wrathful. Unless, that is, McCain/Palin make it to the White House. That could happen. It's up to the people.

I control only one of the people and expect him to tell the unforgiving truth. I don't trust most of the culture to be frank about it. I look at its expressions and its diversions and its politics and it feels and smells pretty unhealthy to me. To believe in the future one must believe that the present will forget itself, wash itself of all the stupidity and hatred that has accumulated in itself and start anew.

I know that most of the people hide behind power and will not challenge it except in weird, irrational outbreaks of stupidity and anger. They do not study issues. They have no interest in the rest of the world. They are fearful and backward. And they control the political and economic marketplace. There is nothing I can do about it.

Without trying to be obnoxious I see more potential of liberal democracy in the cities than the rural areas or the rural states like Alaska, despite the eccentric independence of the people and the natural beauty that surrounds them.

It is the people, top to bottom, that makes or breaks a liberal democracy. And the best of them are clustered in some proximity to each other and are constantly exposed to difference, to worlds beyond worlds, to fresh, startling ideas, to complex systems that run through daily life, and people who both have root and freedom.

Liberal democracy is a certain habit of being, a kind of commitment to openness, a confidence that permits the full development of the person and, by extension, the society. It is proven in cities now rather than the frontier.

And development never really stops. It's always pushing the envelope back. It is curious and thoughtful. When it stops, when it gives up, when it is less than what it can be, then one worries.

Liberal democracy implicates a ground of being but says you must learn the arts of transformation so that ground of being goes where no spirit has gone before. And it must go there without losing that ground of being. It is art rather than instinct frozen in rural valley's, producing fear and hatred.

Wouldn't then a liberal democracy be marked by extraordinary feats of curiosity to leap over the boundaries mere society or family or temperament or town have pissed a fence around?

It would be marked by people who did not project out into others or ideas because the people are filled with self-knowledge. And, as well, would not accept the projections of other people, knowing and overcoming the process so well. Courage, intelligence, character, and enlightenment. These are words passed into action and ways-of-being in a truly brave land. And that land, now, is a great world power, not a struggling frontier.

* * * * * * * *

The remarkable thing in this nation is that first there is restless discontent, then political change, then laws passed, a collective ethos is developed and its opposite, then the legislation stops because law can only go so far and the people move on. The groups and leaders who depend on changing the law get frustrated and upset but a remarkable thing has occurred. The people, as free people, have taken it on to rule themselves in ways that the hard-cover law can not. And so change in the heart and spirit; in the daily habit of the people. And so the change happens and it doesn't need the government or politics. They move to new places, new needs and new motives.

Throw away thoughts

As long as emptiness and incompetance rise to the top feel very discomfited in this culture.

But don't wreck yourself over it.

In fact, the great antidote to the stupidity of politics is to live well, live as though the nuts, cons, meek, and backward types don't exist. Live to fulfillment!

Make of the partisans a fine meal and drink hearty red wine to wash them down with.

September 2, 2008

Impressions on Political Disappointment

Politics is eternal disappointment. It follows the heavy stone of necessity up the hill only to go chasing down after it not once but every time; and that stone buries many good minds whose last thought is, "why is it doing this to me?"

In a democracy the politician is Sisyphus believing the next time will be the moment the rock stays at the top.

Most of the disappointment in politics is the result of building a democracy where there is no absolute. Human beings crave the absolute and only the fine mixture of strong checks and balances and the encouragement of self-interest prevents it.

Politics is a disappointment because it is made from many pieces and no single piece can stand for the whole; therefore political energy is spent in simply understanding the different pieces rather than building a much bolder political life.

The one thing that does connect the different pieces and regions is the jangle of coin in the pocket. That sound goes through cities and valleys and when the jinglejangle begins to be a faint echo change is fait acompli.

* * * * * * * *

Disappointment in politics and hatred for federalism seems to be locked together. It is an appetizing thought that the federal system and all its corruption and hidden life behind the beltway will go away. "Go away, Hell of misspent ambition that sucks the blood dry from the good people!" That is only one of many outcries witnessed on that odd path known as "citizenship."

But what benefit would it be to the living to see the nation disintegrate into sections and weaken until some power in the world would see the possibility of grabbing a bit of its territory? We don't live a thousand years in the future, we live now. We live with the consequences of what those who will study us do not. So we either mature as citizens, learn to live with the federalism, kick its tires intelligently or bug out of it and let it go the way of nature.

* * * * * * * *

It is difficult to orientate where one is politically. One candidate, one party does not satisfy the whole man. I have to support and argue the candidate or party as if it does but if I let that illusion grab hold and make it real I've diminished the capacity of the liberal democracy to grow and develop in new and enriched ways.

The art of citizenship consists of fending off the projections of power while understanding the projections against power.

For that to happen the citizen has to know how things are built, how they work and have a grounding in the real life of the people; the actual thing that is here, temporarily no doubt, but here and racing around trying to get somewhere.

In that state of mind the citizen notices two things: his self-interest and the nature of problems that seem to surround him.

From these he makes his politics.

* * * * * * * *

The most easily manipulated being is the fearful one. Fear exists in the absence of knowledge. If knowledge exists simply to manipulate the fearful, then it has lost its moral courage. But if knowledge cauterizes the fear and makes fear climb over itself to something richer and truer then it has taken the right road.

What troubles America is its loss of the austere. It is unable to deal with surplus and more, more and more. It looks like the Roman sybarite with hairy blood and bits of exotic food pouring from its nose and mouth. And it is never enough so the people worship those who have more.

But all good things come from an austere spirit.

* * * * * * * *

Democracy is not a "rule by millionaires." That rule is called oligarchy whose great motto is, "money talks, bullshit walks." In fact, when it does become simply a choice between different millionaires the liberal, democratic citizen laughs and says, "this is not the epoch meant for me."

Democracy is the finest mind developed out of the aspiration for freedom. It is the cleverness of minds to figure out how to hold onto what it has.

But that requires a vigorous population; one energized to grow and develop because it has seen better in itself and in the society.

Otherwise you end up with the finest minds the frontmen and frontwomen to manipulate, use, and otherwise humiliate the American people on behalf of some political character. A character either incompetent or spying a chance to gain enormous wealth in payment for his or her "sacrifice" as a public servant.

* * * * * * * *

As in most things there are two faces to America. There is "personality" and there is "psyche." The personality is effortless enough and comes by the boatload as people with wide-smiles-on and with the panache associated with a happy breed of people. The psyche is hardly seen at all. It is usually a very dark outbreak of some sort that makes people gasp at the underlying horrid nature all around us. It is especially acute in a culture that puts all the emphasis on the self-contained individual moving through life in a predictable cheat to cover weakness and lies. The lies accumulate, are even institutionalized. Everything is made complicated, trust breaks down, speech becomes machine-like, and is eventually thrown over for secret, revenge-filled dreams.

America is forever recovering from itself.

* * * * * * * *

The present political culture points to how empty the American people have become; how resourceless and disconnected from their own source of power. It's gotten to the point where the political culture can't afford to be rational, just as on the battlefield when things hit the fan another modus operandi comes into play having nothing to do with carefully laid plans.

The American people have divided along the lines of either simpletons stashed away in isolated valleys, much more attached to a lost past or "sophisticated" yet strangely ignorant types who are seeking power without paying a bit of attention to the system of governance that grants them such powers. And that group has become as dangerous to democracy as would a new aristocratic class transported from medieval Europe.

It's difficult to predict who will win in the end. Sentimentality favors the simpletons but reality favors the new nihilists.

If we have inherited a democratic government, sustained over 240 years, is there any shot of sustaining the same government and its powers in the next 240 years? There's still a chance. It is not all gloom and doom. Things must be done a day at a time, week by week, month by month, and age by age, at least in the modern sense. We have passed through the Reagan Age so what lessons can we learn? Did it strengthen the democracy?

Thoughts of gloom and doom should inspire a writer's imagination into thoughts of splendid futures.

How else will it be possible to ferret out what would be rationalized away and one more straw on the camel's back?

July 20, 2008

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