Saturday, May 28, 2016

What The Trump?

(Senator Sam Irvin, chairman of the Joint Watergate Committee, after reading a letter from Xerox corporate counsel requesting that they ask for "copies using the xerographic process" instead of "Xerox copies.")
"Somebody make a mess of Xeroxes of this."

"He that troubleth his own house, shall inherit the wind." Proverbs 11:29.

There are a number of issues raised by growing old. Colds are more easily caught, hit harder, and last longer. Stairs are steeper, loads heavier and a good night's sleep involves only one trip to the bathroom. Everything that is supposed to work doesn't, or works without warning. Friends on bicycles apologize for riding too fast.

But, people my age don't have to read history to remember the lessons of the Watergate scandal that brought down Richard Nixon's administration. Articles of impeachment were presented, detailing allegations of "high crimes and misdemeanors" committed by the administration. Among them were:

The Administration had obstructed justice, in that some of its members, the president included, had acted to cover up  - to be accessories after the fact of - the burglary of DNC Headquarters located in the Watergate complex in Washington.

That the Administration had used the IRS to disadvantage political enemies.

That the Administration held Congress and the laws it had passed in contempt.

One other Article, which did not pass out of committee, was an allegation that the Administration had conducted a "secret" bombing campaign against Communist forces located in Cambodia. How one goes about keeping a bombing campaign secret is another issue.

Forget, for a moment, that you (faithful Bikecopblog reader) support, or are offended by, the current president. It is awfully hard to ignore the distinct possibility that the articles of impeachment brought against President Nixon bear a striking similarity to allegations of misconduct on the part of the Obama administration. So, what is the difference?

Brighter bulbs than mine have weighed in on this subject. What appears to be the answer is that the power of the press has become so diluted, and at the same time so omnipresent, that the electorate pays scant attention to it. "High information" individuals abound, mostly on Twitter and Facebook, taking nasty swipes at each other in between allegations of trollesque-ness. They discuss such esoteric concepts as "supply-side economics" and the implied powers of the president as though they actually have formal training and experience with those matters. They are familiar with the assertions of malfeasance against the Obama administration, and Congress's apparent inability to do anything meaningful to solve it. How they reconcile the mountain of information is their business.

Regular people, the ones entirely too busy with their own lives to argue bullshit polysci minutia, don't spend much time with this. They make a relatively quick emotional decision, hunt superficially for information in support, and then get on with their lives. These are called "low information voters" or "average citizens who have better things to spend their time doing." They find no joy in the progressive/conservative wars, right up until somebody tells them to pay attention. They vote (mostly), they pay taxes (mostly) and they make their contributions by keeping their noses clean and working hard.

And who would alert them to pay attention?

The press.

Whatever glory days were enjoyed by the ink-stained wretches over the last century, they have fallen sound asleep. There is not a single bit of hello that stirs them into action. An IRS official admits that conservative groups were singled out and their applications delayed (or dismissed) simply due to their political opinions and... Zzzzzzzz. The Administration facilitates the overthrow of Libya's asshole leader, bombs the shit out of government forces and then ignores Congressional attempts at oversight... Zzzzzzzz. There are laws about handling classified information, which the former Secretary of State ignored. Once the cat was out of the bag, there was a delete-fest to rival anything in Washington, ever... Zzzzzzz. Four men are killed during an attack and ensuing protracted firefight at American government buildings in Libya, no attempt is made by US forces to intervene and the official response is "What, at this point, does it matter..." Zzzzzzzz. The President, for reasons of his own (good or bad) refuses to work with Congress, instead accuses them of inaction and then - with a stroke of a pen - makes or modifies law in a manner foreign to our constitutional structure... Zzzzzzzz.

People wonder why someone who says "They are all idiots. I'm going to Washington to kick some ass" has found support? Like him or not - I don't - there is something appealing about the message that our government was designed to benefit us, the ordinary citizen busy trying to make ends meet. We don't work three jobs just to send a third of our wages to Washington's value vacuum. We don't build businesses and employ our fellows only to be told we should STFU about taxes - we "get to keep" a fair amount. If The Donald is an obnoxious, narcissistic, self-aggrandizing nutcase with a very loose association with honesty, he promises to find others of the same stripe and pick a fight with them.

I'm not sure that the Framers had this kind of thing in mind two hundred and forty years ago. Then again, they left us with an exceptionally useful tool to find common ground when all else fails.

They wrote The Constitution. They tacked on the Bill of Rights for good measure. They warned us about their own faults and failings, how we should take this government and do better with it. In so many ways we have.

In so many ways, we have only inherited the wind.

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