Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Best of September 2006

This month includes my reasons for the switch to the label "Postliberal."

Decrying the aggressive pantheism of National Geographic
Actually, Gaia-worship isn't quite right. It's more of a pantheism. CS Lewis noted that historically, pantheism is the default religious position, the place that every culture goes when it's giving up its old beliefs. So why does that seem like such an advanced, enlightened view now?

Not prophetic about Joe Biden, but certainly with ironies four years later, The Voice of Saruman.
I caught Joe Biden on Imus this morning. I didn’t know it was he at first, but listening to his arguments, I had that Joe Biden feeling: Gee, this guy is really hitting the president with good arguments. I’m not sure I’ve got a snap answer to that point – I didn’t know that background. Then, just by chance, he wandered into an area that I happened to be reading about last night. And he was wrong on the facts. Wrong in such a way that he either completely misunderstood the document in question, or had read only excerpts. The speaker was earnest. He was forceful. He made sweeping statements with complete assurance. Hmm, I wonder if it’s Biden. I may have recognised the voice better than I thought.

Are oil prices manipulated? Desperately Seeking a Clue
Here we go again with the gas prices. The worldwide price of oil per barrel is coming down. So for that to be manipulated by the oil companies, there would have to be thousands of people at hundreds of companies in on the plan. Including, for example, Ahamdinejad, Hugo Chavez, the Saudis, Gazprom... yeah, they all want a Republican majority really badly.

I can’t think of a better way to shout “Hey! I have no clue how the economy works! It’s all a mystery so I just make simple guesses that I can understand!”

The numbing idiocy of Kofi Annan's farewell address
But most saliently, these departing failures stress how they still believe in the ideals they started with, oh those many years ago when they were young and inexperienced. They state this as a point of great pride, as if their refusal to see with clarity regardless of the deterioration around them were evidence of the noble quality of not having compromised their ideals. Compromising to the point of abandonment all your actual morality, while holding the fantasy vision of what life should be, is seen as a good thing?

Things gone awry in Adult Sunday School
Adult classes nearly always spark off something to post on. Today we had a woman ask the same question she asks every year, but doesn't like the answer. (The instructor contradicted me on this. She thinks a variant of the question is asked every time the woman attends. And they think I'm a hard guy.)
Note: The person mentioned in this essay will show up in an upcoming post about the social aspect of liberalism

The system is that There Is No System
In America, there is no system. That's the American system. That's a gross oversimplification, and I could make a more accurate statement by going on about how there are many systems, all of them complex and interrelated, yada, yada, ya. But taking that approach only encourages people to stick with the same sort of approaches and answers. For purpose of rethinking, it is better to start from the radical statement: there is no system.
Note: an unexpected connection to my recent post “Liberal Christian Hierarchies.”

If you don't love baseball history, don't read How I Will Win at Field of Dreams Fantasy Baseball.
But I’ve still got Monte Irvin hidden in my back pocket, or if someone’s that good and remembers Irvin first, I’ll take Pete Hill. Similarly, Edd Roush or Hugh Duffy are never going to occur to you. If I get driven to having to take them late in the draft, I’ve still got a fine centerfielder. And you’ve got Eddie Bressoud at shortstop because you had his baseball card.

On Parents Getting Smart
From about 25 to 45, I gradually and grudgingly increased my admiration for all my parents, much as pseudoTwain suggested. At about that point I thought I had made peace with who they were and who I was, the good and the bad, and had few open resentments (though certain things would still easily irk me). But since that time, the pendulum has switched back some. Adopting two teenage boys, which echoed the blending of my own family when I was 13 and my brother 10, I came to see clearly exactly what should be expected of you when you are the adult in a difficult situation with a child.

Visiting Liberal Blogs
It is responses like this that keep giving me evidence that for many liberals, there is this enormous importance that their world-view be consistently resupported. There seems this constant wriggling on the hook, with enormous energy invested in what should be simple disagreements. Something more is at stake for them.

Unfortunately prophetic about Sending A Message. How'd that 2006 congress work out for you, Republican stay-at-homes?
They talk a lot about sending a message to Republicans in November, particularly around the immigration and spending issues. I understand that, but have a bit of advice. And this advice works just as well for Democrats: sending a message only works in the primaries.

The progressive Mythology of Robbery. Some history of how progressives feel they have been robbed of their birthright.

The enthusiasm was not entirely for Bill and Hillary per se. They were seen even by their supporters of the time as somewhat flawed representatives of the tribe. Yet even their weaknesses were seen as a more appropriate set of flaws: chuckling hypocrisy about drugs and sex, philosophical incoherence with good intentions. That they were opportunistic and relied on charm were only “what all politicians did.” The Clintons were “one of us,” the New Generation (the Now Generation), finally displacing all those evil old authority figures. And we all knew he was a liar, even then, but people thought his intentions were good. And he was from the right tribe.

Yes, even intelligent people older than 20 thought like this and talked like this. What we now call the mainstream media, so much more dominant then, was chockablock full of ‘em. This is the election of the famous Gallup poll that started examining the beliefs of the media itself, because it had become so obviously and thoroughly partisan. That poll revealed that 92% of the journalists covering the White House had voted for Clinton.

Fiction and Conspiracy Theories
The general premise: No, fiction has not made us more likely to believe in conspiracies, but film may have.

A bit of nostalgia after watching 15 minutes of Bob Dylan – No Direction Home.
I couldn’t get distance from some of the clips, and I couldn’t tell why. Howlin’ Wolf at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival – well who cares? I was 10 years old and never got near the place. Concert footage of New York coffee houses – why would that mean anything? But those clips had my old drug, my favorite drug, the one I’d forgotten I’d ever been addicted to. It was the sound of the crowd. I’d been on both sides of the mike for that sound, and it evoked living in that culture like nothing else.

A bit of history of the Copperheads, or Peace Democrats, with an obvious point.
The Copperhead rhetoric in their press was red-hot in displaying their hatreds and bitterness. "A large majority [of Copperheads]," declared an Ohio editor, "can see no reason why they should be shot for the benefit of niggers and Abolitionists." If "the despot Lincoln" tried to ram abolition and conscription down the throats of white men, "he would meet with the fate he deserves: hung, shot, or burned."