Friday, December 31, 2004


But first....

(a couple things before the end of the year...)

Mind the Gap! - Social Security made EZ.

The partly fake and partly real problem with SS is that the government borrowed SS monies that might have been in a 'lockbox'. The Federal Government owes its people that money - this is a payroll tax, levied specifically for that pension, remember. At least raise your eyebrows when someone says, '..but, you see, from a more sophisticated point of view, it's just money the government owes itself, so....' Balls. It's money the government owes us working people - earmarked. As Josh Marshall very clearly lays out, it's public indebtedness (not to mention our whole fiscal/trade situation) that's the real problem. (And, gosh, how did THAT happen? 'Conservatives' don't borrow and spend money they?). Evidently, we've lost some of these monies in the risky 'politician market', so the suggestion is that we just put 'em into the 'pure' market - cut out the middle man. It has a cheap, Oliver Stone cogency, and reminds you again of the strange grudging pride in political incompetence which is never far from the surface with this bunch: [whining voice] 'We can't do politics, too hard! Politics, Washington, bad! we we we!'. Been waiting for George Bush to ask for sacrifice from the American People after 9/11? Here it is! We can all do our part in the War on Terror by screwing our kids and grandkids out of part of their pensions.

Bend over, America!

Intelligent Design

Publius over at Legal Fiction, among others, has been busy for months doggin' the real-world issues Christians might have with Democrats and Republicans. There was a pretty lively discussion (and links) there about so-called 'Intelligent Design'.

You don't remotely impact the basic philosophical question of this or any age (ie What is the nature of Intelligence and Design in the Universe?) by simply broadcasting an eponomous catch-phrase and writing a few fumetti books. The ID crowd is not offering science OR philosophy, really. They endeavor to colonize the entire question with a ridiculously thin force, pretending that merely naming it explains it. [El Rushbo voice] Just another marketing job, my friieeends. Naturally, their aim is not to advance the thinking on this question, but rather to posit an enemy - namely, some supposedly monolithic, remorseless, souless, nihilistic Science Force, the fear of which is, unsuprisingly, ripe for exploitation. After all, show me one honest person who can declare that they live life with absolutely no illusions, and I'll show you someone who is very deluded indeed. In a way, illusion makes us human, distinguishes us from other mammals. We suspend or rationalize or generalize specific fear in order to survive and accomplish things, and we do it every single day. Human life is partially defined by the tension between rationality and what could be called faith. Us reality-based people should admit to that fact, at least to ourselves, lest we simply react, which is passive. (ENOUGH PASSIVITY ALREADY!) This is NOT an apology for religion, but simply the suggestion that we acknowledge that tension - have a little sense of humor about ourselves. Doing so helps us understand more fully what our evolutional history, much modern science, and frankly, our common sense, tell us: that guiding, choosing our illusions can be a deeply rational, if not entirely concious, act. Anyway, it's part of who we are.

Of course the ID folks aren't interested in working that tension. They don't think there's even a tension there. They simply declare victory in that struggle. They just know. It's Happiest Place On Earth. 'If you really really believe....'

Homeopathy Gone Terribly Wrong

Eric over at TIA keeps tabs this last week of the year, on the evil gift which keeps on giving: Henry Kissinger's continuing establishment and influence as a foreign policy 'elder statesman', and the bad effects it has on everyone he touches - in this case, the Council on Foreign Relations. When will our own, American Angel of Death finally buy the farm? Why do people like him seem to live forever?

Because they do.

Happy New Year!

Crush All Boxes!


Wednesday, December 08, 2004


This Is Not a Blog (for a minute) the power vested in Me
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter.

A Note to my vast readership:

This blog is going on a de facto sabbatical. It will reemerge in a few weeks with a new look and a new focus. It was always supposed to have been about 'politics AND culture in the days of Bush the Younger', but has actually been mostly about politics - an understandable skew in the throes of an election. Now that our Prom Plebiscite (gee, do I sound cynical?) is past, and my head is no longer in so much danger of blowing up all at once, it's finally clear to me that many other fine blogs (and of course, even some traditional news sources) are, and always were, quite sufficient to the political situation; and that my little venue is now, frankly, about as useful - to me or anyone else - as fur on a teacup, eyes on a violin, etc.

Unlike many of the best bloggers, I am not a lawyer, economist, or formal political scientist. I will contend to my dying day that one needn't necessarily be nominally any of those things to be able to formulate an intelligent, informed opinion or argument about those subjects - in fact, I think the fate of the Republic hangs on the ability of ordinary citizens to synthesize complex facts and ideas outside their vocational purview. I further insist that 'certification' (in the form of degrees) is wildly overestimated in our culture. Indeed, specialization can often be a curse. BUT... the aforementioned best-bloggers can and DO help the rest of us to understand the disciplines they know best, and god bless 'em for it.

My speciality, such as it is, is what could loosely be called 'culture', so I'll approach my criticism in the future mostly from that general direction. I'll probably do a lot of movie and television reviews, and the like - not usually with the presumption of 'advising' you to see or not-see something, but as my preferred way to insinuate myself into the conversation. I've got pages and pages of notes about 'values', which spurted out of me after November 2nd. Rather than splatter that material in its raw form onto this space, I've decided to try to bake those thoughts into something a little more easily digestible, a little more of a cuisine approach.

Ours is a seriously ill culture in many ways. The hordes on the Right are hardly wrong for feeling such tremendous anxiety. However, many of them have also rashly called for a Culture War - what I see as a painfully obvious object-lesson of the old adage about being careful about what you wish for. If it's not yet clear that they've 'lost' it already, it soon will be. A call for 'war' is itself a pretty sure sign of failure, but it will presently be made manifest; as the silly, and strangely politically-androgynous catch-phrase of the just-past political season had it: Bring. It. On. Bush, et. al. will try to moderate the forces they've unleashed, but only sheer luck - partially in the form of exhaustion and complacency on the part of their opponents - will allow them to succeed in any great measure. It's crazy to try to opt out of a war, especially one you will ultimately 'win'. So, here's to engagement, vigor and cultural hygiene. It's long past due, anyway.

I'll be posting again after Christmas. Hope everyone has good holidays and a nice relaxing bit of time off.


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