Friday, June 27, 2008

Give Bees a Chance

I encountered an acquaintance at a bookstore (okay, the indefinite article is a bit kissing to be clever as in most areas there's the bookstore, Borders) with a copy of Fleeced by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann (who are husband and wife). He's a nice person who, in my opinion, has an ongoing difficulty distinguishing between news and commentary--he absorbs both the broadcasts of Bill O'Reilly and the Associated Press State Summaries with the same absence of salt, despite the (obvious to me) differences in the two products. My concern is when you've decided all sources are equally valid, in terms of establishing they have observable facts to support their perspectives or if they just feel very strongly about an issue, you have also decided that NO sources have validity (Deming's Red Bead Experiment).

I know enough about Mr. Morris to know he is a clever man--people who worked with former President Bill Clinton for as long and successfully as he did, did not do so only because they have a nice face (though I suppose it helps from the stories I've read. And good knees, too, apparently) but have quick minds and killer instincts. The White House is not for the faint of heart. I've never thought of him as a researcher or as a reporter and a quick flip through his most recent tome suggests it's more of the polemic that characterizes our politics than a sober assessment of how to improve them.

In a way, the book and the discussions that one, or the other, political party's leadership has (on an ongoing basis) about somehow limiting or curtailing discussion (especially from people with whom 'we' disagree) is a huge and negative difference between the USA I grew up in the 1950's & 60's and how we are as a nation now. Back then (there's a phrase that scares me), I believed people were good and would do the right thing instead of how we are in the here and now when more and more of us have to be shamed into it.

All the TV talking heads on all the '24 hour news channels' now are basically shouting at one another (not talking with) and they are watched by a nation who, more and more often, vote less and less frequently, not only than their parents did but how they themselves voted earlier in their lives. We've concluded bumper stickers are all the arguments we ever need to make life-altering, or affirming, decisions on who leads our cities, States and Nation.

We've moved from discussion to diatribe and hurl invective at one another, across the entire political spectrum, as a form of
Jungian therapy. We fear terrorists from without but have surrendered to terrorists from within, who demonize dissent, who eliminate a frank exchange of ideas and who can no longer disagree without becoming disagreeable. Comity and consensus at any price. Will that be cash or credit and do you have our card?
-bill kenny

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