why things are things so bad? – but what’s the answer?

May 4, 2006 § Leave a comment

There is a general consensus that things are not going well – affairs of nations, internal and external. When we ask “why?” we are really asking about where to look for the answers. Is it the nation state under threat, the blending of technology and power, the aftermath of the collapse of the roman empire, Napoleon and his centralized bureaucracy, the rich since Bush?

Philip Reiff Has a new book, “My life Among the Death Works, which says that there are really three cultures: polytheism (pagan), monotheism, and zero theism. The third, where we are at, is constantly clearing the way for itself by tearing down one and 2. If a society has no belief, it cannot survive.

This is one of the frames we need to consider. I am skeptical in part because i think science has some of th qualities of a religion ( a view, a story, that ties things together), but that, more than any other, projects or human strengths outward into things and leaves us more depleted than any previous “religious’ culture. There is actually some hope in this view.

why so much war is the dominant theme?

May 4, 2006 § Leave a comment

The amount of war is actually quite small, but it’s centrality in our consciousess has real effects – and causes. More is to be earned by the powerfl by trashing the world and hoping to get a piece, than by building the world.


May 4, 2006 § Leave a comment

The major problem of many of us is we cannot support a Bush initiative that makes him looks good and gets him off the hook on Iraq. In some forum, like the truth and reconcilliation commissions, we need a major apology, from the the president to the country and from the country to the world.

An example of ear-marking

May 4, 2006 § Leave a comment

Nick Johnson, former FCC memeber, has site where he describes a long drawn out project to buld a rain forest in Iowa. A great examplef the problems of corruption, business and govenment, misguided hopes.


Realistic evaluation. One thing about this project I find genuinely puzzling. The rain forest’s fundamental problems have been obvious for four years. I wrote about them and so did dozens of others. So why did so many public officials and mass media continue to emphasize what I’ve called “the ‘Wow!’ and the wonderful” — the benefits and rewards — while virtually ignoring costs, risks and realism?

Another puzzle is the criticism heaped on public policy analysts and skeptics. A skeptical venture capitalist asks questions and is called “a smart businessperson.” Why, when citizens ask the very same questions about the rain forest, are they called “naysayers” who “lack vision”?

The University built the Laser Center, confident that, having built it, Iowa would be the destination for “world class” laser scientists and engineers. It didn’t happen. The Laser Center was used to store canoes. It turned out that “build it and they will come” only works in the movies.

Iowa has plenty of successful attractions throughout the state. There’s no reason it can’t have many more — including those promoting the environment. But only if we remember the lesson of the Laser Center. Only if we build solid financial foundations under our dreams. Only if we give more attention to revenue streams and operating costs than to construction costs.

Iowa needs bold vision. Undiscriminating “naysaying” to any and all projects doesn’t help. But selective rational analysis does. And when “the emperor has no clothes” we ignore the difference at our peril.

Tone of the president, country

May 4, 2006 § Leave a comment

There is lots to learn from Snow’s memo about his new job.

addendum: And, good as it was, turns out it was an early moring ABC ruse in the Note. It is easy to get suckered in. Fascinating that simple decency can be a satire.

To: Josh Bolten, Dan Bartlett and Nicolle Wallace
From: Tony Snow
Re: Our message

After observing how the Press Office has operated, first from the outside and for the last week from the inside, I wanted to share some initial thoughts about what I think needs to be done. Thank you so much for the trust you’ve placed in me and the risk you took by making an unconventional choice in a most conventional White House. I promise I won’t screw it up.
« Read the rest of this entry »

Conservative reaction

April 26, 2006 § Leave a comment

We tend to think the Republicans are the conservatives. This is probably wrong.

Both Hart and Carey are disappointed by the younger generation of conservatives who run National Review and other conservative journals for subordinating conservatism to transitory politics. They believe that conservatives should maintain a healthy distance from the Republican Party, because the nature of politics necessarily involves compromise and reliance on leaders of dubious quality and motives. The conservative movement also gets dragged down when bad Republican leaders engineer political defeats for the party, as seems likely this fall.

Bush strategy

April 26, 2006 § Leave a comment

From Slate,

In such moments, politicians have followed a simple formula: Play to the base.

But If I am right that saying no is what the “base” has been doing, it is easy for the “base” to include in its negative judgement the President and the Republicans.

see my article on “saying no

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