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- Bob Dylan, 1966

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Tuesday, January 18, 2005  
Thursday is inauguration day, and this city is going to lock up tight. All day, F-14s have been streaking low over downtown, presumably getting ready for the martial pageant to come. I just find the whole thing depressing.

Without indulging in aggressive ranting (plenty of time for that later), I will just say this: I don't know what George Bush wants this country to be. I derive no picture of the future from his policies; no image of America beyond fifteen minutes from now. The "ownership society" is the emptiest of jargon; it conjures up nothing for me, perhaps because the policies advanced under that rubric tend to set citizens out on their own, isolated, rather than involving them in any group vision. Self-insurance for health care. Privatized social security. "Right to work" laws. For conservatives, these policies no doubt can invoke a future of great power and promise - individuals responsible for their own lives, making their own decisions; no one to thank or blame, free people in a free land. For me, this kind of isolation, stripped of the libertarian posturing, simply removes bulwarks between individuals and market forces that can and will chew them up and spit them out poor and broken. I do not believe this because I think Americans are stupid and can't manage their own lives, but because throughout history, laissez-faire capitalism without government protection has been uniformly devastating for the poor and middle classes. Such policies simply do not produce the future that the conservatives see.

So, I can't participate in President Bush's particular mass illusion of what the country is and where its going. This is not to say that I am particularly resistant to mass illusions - I participated quite enthusiastically in the illusion conjured by the Clinton presidency. And make no mistake - that was an illusion as well. I suppose that this is the only way to govern a country so huge - try to get a majority of people to see the country the same way you do, to believe the same simple narrative, even if you have to blunt some edges and fill in some gaps with convenient oversimplifications if not outright lies.

Do democratic and liberal policies produce the future that allowed me to participate in President Clinton's illusion? Or would have allowed me to participate in President Kerry's? I think so, but nothing is perfect. In the end this whole business is an ugly joke, a compromise made necessary by our size and diversity; an averaging and a dumbing-down that ignores the real circumstances under which most Americans live. But that's a subject for another day, I guess. For now, I just know that I don't want the product currently on offer, and I will not be watching the big rollout on Thursday.

Thanks for checking back. I'll get back to regular posting soon, I promise.


Sunday, January 02, 2005  

Well, hearty greetings to everyone who came back, and I hope you will keep checking back over the next couple of days as I start to get back to the business at hand; maybe some changes to the apparance of the page (overdue, I think), and some other stuff, hopefully. Obviously, I'm disappointed in the outcome of the elections; more on that later, but somehow the still-developing catastrophe in Asia has put some of that rancor aside. In any case, lots to talk about. I hope some folks have come back. To those that have, thanks, and speak to you soon.


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