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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Broken System

And Also: I went to a "talk to artists" sort of event (Liberal Arts) hosted by Katherine Lanphur at Barnes & Nobles yesterday. It was enjoyable, the author an especially amusing sort. KL was a co-host of the Al Franken Show, but was among the Air America departures in the last year or so, most recently Janeane Garofalo. I'm less a fan of JG, but overall, these departures (generally women, though Mark Maron also left, except for a small role) had negative effects. They served a valuable balance to the hosts, who honestly are a bit hard to take straight. Anyway, it was nice to see KL in person, and hear her infective laugh (and curse ... women cursing can be very appealing).

One thing that troubles me is that so many people do not seem to understand that the problem with the current regime, talking national politics here, is not simply a difference of political opinion. Thus, we have the usual knee-jerk business (sadly, not just from the usual morons) that this Plame litigation is akin to the Jones lawsuit.

It simply is not. Yes, just as poisoned fruit is as fruity as your kid's banana, there are facial connections. Both are in some sense "political" in nature and so forth. But, there is a core difference in this particular case, involving not a long ago weak evidenced act of sexual harassment (to the disgust of some, I actually think Jones had a leg to stand on ... something happened there), but a very troubling act of outing a CIA agent (and her classified cover) for malicious reasons. And, the tail did not wag the dog here ... actually official investigations added teeth to the charges. Finally, to get technical, it is easier to target vice presidents (Burr was indicted in office, Agnew pled) and staff members (who only get qualified immunity even for official acts) than presidents.

But, there is a petty "but they did it too" quality to the whole debate repeatedly. Simply put, "they" did not do it like this. Thus, we have people from across the political spectrum (e.g., Broken Branch on conservative congressional skullduggery, books by John Dean, Kevin Phillips, etc.) underlining the point. So, there are different degrees of disagreement, disgust, and despair in the current environment. We have reached a point where honest and fair dealing ideological conservatives look good to liberals. The sort that don't promise to step down after twelve years and run for re-election anyway. The sort that actually allows debate and amendments on legislation, which is not edited at the 12th hour before many even have a chance to read the changes. And, the sort that do not simply lie and bullshit.*

Well, not this badly, at least. The acts themselves are repeatedly distasteful, even if they were done in an upfront matter. The fact they are not only makes things so much worst -- again, it forces even those who are not personally appalled by the substance of the stuff to be concerned in a more cerebral way. And, then there are those who have some of both. Thus, we have someone I know from online (enough to care some about) discuss how the whole "snowflake" business affects him personally -- see he and his wife had a child the in vitro way. He also is deeply concerned with moral and scientific (and simply reason) matters to find the whole thing morally appalling. A prime example of someone who underlines how the current bunch are selectively moral, in fact selfishly dismissive of the moral views of a majority of the population (surely on this issue).

So, there are various ways to attack this problem. This is shown by the last two posts, the latter addressing the issue of the veto as a political/constitutional matter. It seems to me, for instance, that a primary concern for the upcoming election is moving toward rebuilding a credible central government. A first step, surely, since the Democrats have some problems themselves. This is not simply a matter of oversight and checking executive power generally, but a real attempt at simply playing fair. The powers that be, of course, will only go kicking and screaming ... crying "political!" when it is pointed out that Congress is run akin to a plantation. And, only by looking at the complete picture will be able to see the whole problem. It simply is not just that the policy is a problem; it is the nature of the system as a whole.

Pinpoint attacks are sometimes useful, but it can very well at times be a problem, since you miss the forest for the trees. And, this really plays into the other side's hands, like get bogged down in Virginia while the rest of the Confederacy continues on. The good news that the rot is so bad that even the Democratic Party might succeed. Snark!**


* There is a difference:
The liar still cares about the truth. The bullshitter is unburdened by such concerns. Bullshit-related phrases like bull session or talking shit also suggest a casual, careless attitude toward veracity -- a sense that the truth is totally besides the point. Bullshit distracts with exaggeration, omission, obfuscation, stock phrases, pretentious jargon, faux-folksiness, feigned ignorance, and sloganeering homilies. When Dubya speaks of freedom and liberation, and claims to be praying for peace as the army disgorges load after load of bombs, he is not lying. He is bullshitting. A lie would be easier to disprove. Bullshit is a committee-drafted simpleton's sermon about evildoers and terra and freedom being God's gift to all men.

-- Laura Penny, Your Call Is Important To Us: The Truth About Bullshit

** Really, some continue to whine about how attacks on Sen. Lieberman is an example of the perfect being an enemy of the good. Doctrinal purity! Oh, shut up. It is particularly pathetic since they basically need to admit that Lieberman plays into the Republicans hands, and has various unfortunate tendencies. But, hey, we need to defend him.