It's interesting to consider that there may be Nothing New Under The Sun --that the problems of the moment have been around once, twice, many times before, in slightly different guises, and that it might just be worth our while to look to historical precedents... if only we can somehow see past the panics of the moment, and develop a bit of perspective. So here's Matthew Yglesias, commenting on a book about James Monroe and looking back 200 years, and making more sense to me than all the intemperate punditry I'm seeing:
Most voters, and many pundits, seem to ...think, with a mixture of condescension and naivete, that policy problems have obvious answers. The failure of policymakers to converge on these obvious answers is attributed to partisanship and the assumption is that if people didn’t have nefarious partisan interests the solutions would be forthcoming. The reality is quite different. Policy problems are difficult and the machinery of government is complicated. You need some kind of organizing institutions to get disparate individuals to work together, and the parties disagree not only because they’re jo[c]keying for influence, but because serious people have principled differences of opinion about what we should do.I see plenty of "nefarious partisan interests" with big bucks and loud mouths. What I wish I could see more evidence of is the "principled differences of opinion" of which he speaks.
Hossein Alizadeh is one of the (scores of...) musicians I most admire. His Sallaneh (available as an MP3 download from Amazon for $3.96. Incredible) is one of the most endlessly fascinating sonic experiences, at least if you have any weakness for the nuances of the plucked string, and any curiosity about niceties of timbre in acoustic instruments (the instrument, sallaneh by name, has sympathetic strings and was designed by Alizadeh himself).
(here's a link to one of the cuts on the CD)
Read carefully through today's Lincoln Steffens Show post at No Fear of the Future and just see (a) how many dots you had/hadn't already connected, (b) how many things you vow to keep an eye upon as the Circus continues to unfold before our eyes. Some exemplary bits:
...the perfect Narcissists to star in the next generation reality show are the ones who created their own illusory documentary narrative long before Survivor and The Bachelor: the American politicians who love nothing more than to engage in on-camera histrionics designed to manipulate the emotions of the general public around a largely illusory conflict between two political parties who represent an illusion of meaningful ideological difference...
...The 20th century revelation that probably had the most lasting cultural impact was Freud's—that people are governed by primitive animal natures and appetitive drives that are often more powerful than reason. Freud's insights were cynically employed on the this side of the Atlantic through his nephew Edward Bernays, the father of modern public relations, who overthrew the 19th century convention of fact-based advertising in favor of subtextual appeals to the baser natures...
Jim Kunstler sure knows how to turn a phrase and sharpen an aperçu, exemplified in this bit from today's blog posting:
We're out of cheap oil, cheap and good ores, ocean fish, good timber, and lots of other things. All the stuff we erected to live our lives in - the stupendous armature of highways, strip malls, suburban houses, skyscraper condos, sewer systems, electric grids - is beyond our power to repair now. We can only patch it, and that can only work for so long before things go dark. (Can you sharpen a saw blade?)Hmmmm... not a carbide-tipped blade.