Wednesday, May 25, 2005

More Useless Stuff

First let me regale you with my thoughts on the filibuster compromise. I think it's interesting that it was judicial appointments - which the media and conservative Christians have made into an outcropping of the overhyped "culture wars" - that sprung the whole debate. It was not some important piece of legislation like, say, a heinous bankruptcy bill.

I'll admit that judicial nominations are somewhat important, especially when it comes to the Supreme Court. Judges have had great effects in the past - civil rights historians can point to several key court cases that changed the face of the country (for better or worse) with regards to race relations. And the fact that Bush believes he doesn't need the Senate's advice and deserves its consent anyway is proof of his inefficient and misguided leadership style (not to mention his misunderstanding of the Constitution).

But throughout this debate, it was all "culture war" all the time. I didn't hear a word about the "Constitution in Exile" philosophy supposedly avowed by these judicial nominees (unless it was from Ben). Barely a peep about Justice Brown's public longings for a return to the days of Lochner, when activist courts declared popularly-backed minimum wage laws unconstitutional. No, it was all about abortion and homosexuality, as if that's all that matters nowadays.

Folks, there's a lot more out there than these so-called "culture wars." I admit, I've been seduced by these issues before. They're ripe for demagoguery, they're of a cosmic scale, and they're certainly more interesting than the ins and outs of the budget. But where's the liberal indignation over Bush's ridiculous budget? Why aren't we filibustering Bush's irresponsible tax cuts? Why aren't we attacking Bush's proposal to give MTBE manufacturers protection from lawsuits? These are all issues that affect us more than any government action in the "culture wars" ever could. I haven't been writing very much in the past weeks; I probably won't in the future since I actually have a job now.

I guess my point is this - I would like to see the outpouring of rage and strategizing and whatnot to materialize on economic issues, on quality of life issues, and on foreign policy issues. The "culture wars" are there to distract us from what the government can and does do to affect our lives. We need to channel that anger somewhere where it'll do us some good.

And now onto something less serious - music. Mike has passed me the Musical Baton. So I have to answer a bunch of questions that I don't know the answer to. Also, I'm at work, so I don't have music on my computer and am not currently listening to anything. So I'll make up answers to those questions. Anyway:

Total volume of music files on my computer: At home, about 1GB. That's not counting some 220 CDs.

The last CD I bought: The Essential Josh White. White is a bluesman who was a favorite of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt. This is a disc of his early blues recordings, before he recorded the stuff that made him super-famous ("Free and Equal Blues," "One Meatball," etc.)

Song playing right now: I heard U2's "New Year's Day" on the way to work. I think that's the closest I can come.

Five songs I listen to a lot, or mean a lot to me: Geez. My apologies for the two country songs that materialize here (actually, one of them sounds more gospel, and one sounds more folk, but whatever).
1. "Your Song," Elton John. Our song.
2. "Simple Man," Lynyrd Skynyrd. Good advice for life and a kick-ass guitar solo.
3. "We Shall Be Free," Garth Brooks. It's odd to think that the normally conservative Brooks would sing a song that basically puts liberalism in a nutshell. And yet, there it is.
4. "The Walk," Sawyer Brown. A song about a man's relationship with his father through the years. It's obvious to anyone who's heard it why this one's on here.
5. "Sparkle," Live. Lyrically one of the best songs I know of.

Five people to whom I'm passing the baton: I'll let Andy and Danielle take a crack at it, as well as Lindi and Pierce if they have blogs. Miguel is also invited, if he still reads this.


Anonymous said...

I guess my point is this - I would like to see the outpouring of rage and strategizing and whatnot to materialize on economic issues, on quality of life issues, and on foreign policy issues.

You are assuming, of course, that liberal politicians have a shred of principle in them. Simply put, fighting Bush on these issues will not likely win them any votes in the coming elections, therefore, they don't care. "Culture War" issues for some reason, seem to rile up lots and lots of people, and therefore, there are votes to be gained.

- miguel

Mike said...

In point of fact, it was Ben and not me who passed you the musical baton. Just want to give credit where credit is due.

Ben said...

Yeah, I'm the guy who sent you the baton. Silly.

Miguel, so you're saying "liberal politicians" don't have any principles, so they focus on "culture war" issues. And what, precisely, are oh-so-principled conservative politicians doing?

The fact of the matter is both liberal and conservative politicians got into the business of politics for some reason of their own...something they believe in. A liberal might be in it to promote pro-choice policies or improvements in education. A conservative might be in it to promote anti-gay-marriage policies or to reduce government regulation of the market. But, in order to accomplish those things, ANY politician needs to get elected. And guess what? People pay more attention to issues that get them riled "culture war" issues.

Difference being for Jeff (and me) (and perhaps you, too, Miguel) is that we get riled up by economic issues, too.

Anonymous said...

I do in fact have a blog...

Login: journal
Password: a word somewhere between alog and clog. :)

- pierce

Anonymous said...

Ben, I don't believe conservative politicians are any better in terms of standing by principles. In fact, I think they're worse.

I was merely pointing out that calling for liberal politicians to take prinicpled stands against some of Bushs's moronic foreign and economic policies is fruitless. Both sides play this con game.

They don't really debate economic issues all that much on economic and foreign policy issues (they might differ about a few details here and there, but nothing all that signficant). The "culture issues" is all they have to really give people 2 distinct things to take sides on.

- miguel

Anonymous said...

oops, shoulda hit preview first, i forget to proofread my own damn comments sometimes.

replace the first sentence with this: "They don't really debate economic issues all that much on economic and foreign policy issues because they don't really differ all that much on them"

when i change some wording in a sentence i write in a comment sometimes i forget to make sure that sentence still makes sense ...

- miguel

Jeff said...

The irony is that the two sides are not too far apart on culture war issues, with the possible exception of gay rights. My point is that government doesn't have the power to accomplish what conservatives want or what liberals fear when it comes to the culture wars. So why dwell on them?