« On Imperfect Perceptions | Main | Intolerant Tolerance »

September 30, 2013


Scott Schaefer

You certainly cover a lot of ground here Doug and you cover it quite well. You perhaps must go back to the time just before the civil war to see Americans so divided and dug in to their respective positions. Much of this is due to a serious vacuum of leadership at the very top as you point out. The other reasons are, unfortunately, more permanent in nature.

At the base, is a lack of civic knowledge and sense of individual sense of responsibility by our citizens. Some would say we get the leaders we deserve as a reflection of our culture, not as the creators of our culture. Another fundamental cause is that, among those who are civically engaged, there is a fundamental split between two main groups as to the role of government. This is something that is very difficult, if not impossible, to compromise your way through. So, in the end, one side or the other must be beaten so that the country can proceed with some level of common ground.

Last time around, it took a civil war to essentially get the whole country back on the same page. I doubt we'll get to that point this time around but it will take a burning platform of something nearly as calamitous such as a total economic meltdown, an attack using weapons of mass destruction on our shores, or something else of equal magnitude to close the chasm we see today. Wish I could see a different scenario.......but, for now at least, I don't.

Mike King

Wow! Too much here to respond to and too little time (or energy) to do it. Let me just say we've been down this ACA legitimacy path before and with no discernible change of minds (not that I expected it) only to generate increasingly arcane debating points. It is the law. Amend it. Kill it by electing a veto-override Congress in 2014 or do it with a new President in 2016. That's the option. As every day passes I am more convinced that the opposition's desperation to repeal or delay through extortion is based on a deep seated fear that the damn thing might actually work, and that, polls-be-damned, when it is implemented the public will like it.
I got nothing for you on your foreign policy comments; nothing that is beyond noting that the last White House foreign policy initiatives resulted in two wars, neither of which was paid for, that have cost us 5,000 or so lives. But I realize that comparison is unfair, not nearly as bad as being humiliated by Vlad Putin and the ayatollah.
Lastly, that's a cool picture of a beached whale. Where's George Costanza when we need him?


Wow! A banner day on SilverBulleits: Comments from F.Scott, M.Rex and JJ (by e-mail) the latter briefly cautioning against too much pessimism. Maybe, but I fear that F.Scott's point are dead on. See also similar sentiments at http://silverbulleits.typepad.com/dcs/2012/11/soft-seccession.html.
As usual, M.Rex leaves me wondering how best to reply. This time however, I'm mostly concurring: my points on legislative legitimacy are basically aimed to get numbskulls like Harry Reid open to, at least discuss, substantive changes to a badly broken bill. And FWIW, the King is also right about the right's fear of Obamacare success (as they fear how Democrats will measure it): the history of entitlements is that net recipients grow quickly dependent thus making the whole program more-or-less impervious to material modification--e.g., even when the Dem's evenetually realize the calamity they've wrought, it will by then be impossible to redress.
As for foreign policy (and other things) I often get a somewhat smug feeling of rhetorical victory when the argument from the other side recedes to the past: e.g., alibi's resorting to comparisons to Bush are like Notre Dame fans saying "yes but the Irish used to kick `bama butt."

john shaughnessy

Whoa, brother. I’m with Scott and Mike….you’ve dumped a lot into this essay and there is much to digest….almost too much for this farmer. (Just curious…..how long did it take you to come up with this essay?)

I have a few reactions to some of the things you wrote, so for the sake of discussion, “Away we go!”.
“Nassim Taleb points out in his most-excellent new book Antifragile most any truly good idea only gets better under challenge; better still upon surviving its testing in real-world disorder”. I couldn’t agree more and my life experience supports this notion. However, your anticipated end game with ACA as well as mine is TBD…totally speculative. You just have cool ways to support your argument and I just think, “Huh?” You may end up being wrong. I may end up being wrong…..or some combination to the two, I would expect. But really.....we have no idea.

“Then, I'll move from the Obama Administration's signature domestic policy to bookend its other: a hopelessly-tattered foreign policy.” Hopelessly tattered? ? Hopelessly? Really? I am sure we could dig up where there have been many tattered foreign policy matters in the past that have eventually come to resolution. My reaction to that statement is, "Did the U.S. avoid or at least postpone another military intervention under the President in Syria….even with all the pivoting that went on? Is the outcome in its current state a failure? Is there any reason for hope in relations with Iran largely due (I assume) by sanctions by the US?"

If Bengazi was bad, which it certainly was with the death of the US diplomats and his entourage, the witch hunt by Darrel Isa seems truly out of proportion with what happened in Iraq. The Salem Witch Trials come immediately to mind.

Why doesn’t Isa and the Republicans prioritize matters in terms of damage done to this country in terms of lives lost and treasury by these disparate incidents? If there is anything criminal that I can think of in government in my lifetime (….outside of, perhaps, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution) it’s the Iraq War and the lies we were fed to buy in. Have to admit….. I was a big “yes” because of the WMDs.

“ACA's tortured history". It’s has been tortured by the Republicans who have lied and misled the American people….in particular the low information rubes who so densely populate the “Red State” (no reference to you, Douglas, really…or Scott and Mike. Full disclosure: I suppose my living in the Ozarks where dental hygiene is optional has taken its toll on me....I digress.) BUT...When you have the right-wing Obama haters spewing misinformation and misdirection like a fire hose to incite their listening/watching audiences to revolt….day after day, month after month…… and this is where these Red State Rubes basically get their information….. No wonder it’s a tortured history.....at least for these people. (I respect your views because they are thoughtful, but I have to believe you are in the minority on your side of the argument.....the others are clueless. Whatever Rush or Sean says....) immediately to mind.
Anyhow….not an intellectual argument. Not capable of it really. Long flight today.

I guess I've been living in the Ozarks way too long.....or I'm bored in LA.


Well J.J., back at you. As I posted a few Comments back, and as you echoed this evening, ideas get better under dialectic stress. So I thnaks for them And, it's fair to say that we've stressed a few here;-)
Ideally, this synthesis, antithesis to synthesis process turns upon objective facts (vs. subjective opinion). For example, I believe that I've backed my assertions on the probable failure of Obamacare on solid logic. Moreover, just because its eventual collapse will be so harmful to so many, the right is passionate about doing everything it legally can to abort or delay ACA implementation. Most of us more moderates are uncomfortable with the budget Brinksmanship tactics being used tonight, but are sympathetic to the cause.
As for the torrents of misinformation, IMHO FoxNews does not hold an exclusive franchise there. A truly "fair and balanced" fact checking would turn up, at least, as much editorial slant within CNN and CNBC as well, for that matter CBS, NBC and CBS. But I'm OK with it all: newspapers have leaned one way or another since Thomas Paine and the Federalist Papers. And you know what, somehow us readers have always had a way of working it all out.
As for "tattered foreign policy" I think you have to look through three lenses: residual US power and strategic influence; underlying positions and policies; and, last, credibility and trust. the current Administration has, IMHO, a piss-poor record on, at least, two of these three dimensions. And, inasmuch as I put a substantial portion of the blame at the feet of a certain contemptuous individual, it seemed important to me to call her out on it


Doug: As usual, you have generated some progressive thought. Scott’s observations alone were worth the (likely extensive) time you took to put together your fine post. And per Scott’s thought - while an innate foundation of the split that is being manifested politically today is not so subliminally induced by ‘Cult of personality’ side-shows (both on the left & right, as people are easier to attach than ideas) – one translucent thread running through all comments to your post is this: Being socially-liberal is not the same thing as being a Socialist (e.g., I would be surprised for example if main-stream socialists would count themselves as supporting fiscal conservatism or related vectors). While you may find this a bit ‘orthogonal’ (you use one of your favorite terms) – I would say that while I am socially liberal, I am clearly not a Socialist. Allow me to provide a brief example: Various of my art-friend here in Santa Fe (usually well-heeled) appear to be pro Socialism (and in any case, are certainly hard-core democrats) but in our discussions (usually late into the night fueled by far too much good French wine) – while they are the first to stand up for ACA they would in the same breath utterly reject substituting their current insurance benefits to move to the new exchanges, saying that such legislation is targeted for “…helping the masses…” (meaning not them). Hmmm. Maybe they are right, but this seems to constitute a far too simplistic position to take, as these liberal democrats would also not even remotely entertain opening-up their private studios to share work-spaces with other local less-fortunate creative ‘fellow’ artists). So – when the Senate ‘digs-in’ to shut-down the government, are these actions the telltale signs of blind hypocrisy or only the tired recapitulation of standard liberal veneers (that must be maintained!)? While I am not qualified to answer such complex issues with certainty, it seems to me to be more the latter than the former – and in any case, sustains a pattern on the left (as well as the right in an equally shallow and troubling facade) of caring more about maintaining ‘feel-good’ appearances than engaging in the hard questioning of sincere self-introspection regarding the best course forward for our country (if not the human race). Your posts foster a honest sounding of the many shadows such issues portend.

The comments to this entry are closed.