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Thursday, January 31, 2013

History, truth and the insane belief in mainstream politics

"'You are a slow learner, Winston,' said O'Brien gently.
"'How can I help it?' he blubbered. 'How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.'
"'Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.'"
- from "1984,"
by George Orwell (Part 3, Chapter 2)
If you have paid any attention to the Chuck Hagel, SecDef nomination hype, you probably heard the former Republican Senator's detractors calling him "out of the mainstream," when it comes to Israel, Iran, and involving the US in talks with terrorist organizations.
Witness Thursday morning's exchange between Hagel and Sen. John McCain, during the former's confirmation hearing. Hagel, as a Senator, made statements against Bush's 2007 troop surge in Iraq, equating it to a potential quagmire, a word used often to describe the war in Vietnam, where Hagel served and was wounded. McCain, himself a prisoner of the Vietcong during that conflict, insisted that the surge was a success and wanted his former colleague to take it back, to admit his previous position was a mistake.
“I’m not going to give you a yes or no,” Hagel told McCain. “I’ll defer that judgement to history."
"History has already made a judgement on the surge," McCain insisted, "and you’re on the wrong side of it."
This insistence on defining history as mainstream truth is a revisionism worthy of Orwell. Honest and frank answers are eschewed for blind allegiance and party fidelity. Engaging in "You're either with us or against us" tactics, especially when it comes to what's true or not, endangers our republic, because it attempts to supplant evidence with conviction.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Shocker: Government shirks responsibility, again

The deal approved today is truly a missed opportunity to do something big to reduce our long-term fiscal problems…”
- from a statement released Tuesday, by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, co-chairs of a bipartisan deficit reduction committee
If you don’t stand broadly and shoulder the responsibilities of governing, there should be no surprise when the house of cards you’ve tried to build over the last two years comes crashing down around you. That’s what happened over New Year’s Day, when the Senate, and then the House, passed an overwhelmingly bipartisan bill that mitigated the effects of the final sunset (thank God) of the Bush tax cuts.

As a solution to the so called “fiscal cliff,” the Senate version of a  revamped House bill falls short of averting every slippery rock on the way to the economic edge, but it was the only lifeline of agreement left after Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-OH), turned down the president’s offer of early December, refusing to take the same tack with his caucus that he essentially was forced to take Tuesday night. Since he dropped the ball the White House handed him, Boehner had to make do with the cold, meatless bone of a compromise worked out between Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Vice President Joe Biden.