Jump to navigation
Post Tenebras Lux
t's tempting to revisit the ages old question of 'What is Time?' The reason? The WaPo today reports the Congress essentially lost its memory about the most basic fundamentals of oversight.
The human capital expertise evaporated since 1994. Democrats have hired over 200 investigators since November 2006 yet committees and members are having to learn how to do their jobs.
Examples? Congressional staffers have been using Google to hunt for Executive Branch documents. It did not occur to them that Congress is entitled to have them produced. Staffers also assumed they needed to file FOIA requests for information.
“One of the first things that was brought to my attention was that Congress doesn't have to use FOIA,” said a House staffer, 32, referring to Freedom of Information Act requests, an approach used by the public that can take months to yield a response. She spoke on the condition of anonymity because, she said, her questions were “embarrassing.”
he at least had the sense to be embarrassed. And as we noted here during the Paul Bremmer hearings, Congress largely has forgotten how to conduct meaningful hearings, substantively and theatrically. It will take time to recover the expertise lost. Had Congress remained unified with the Executive for another four years, one can only imagine the institutional alzheimers.
e asked the question posed at the outset after recalling a conversation we had with Admiral Art Cebrowksi not long before his passing. Cebrowski lamented that similar depletion of institutional memories and human capital in the U.S. engineering and R&D base posed looming problems for the Nation regardless of foreign policies pursued. Specifically, he noted his opinion that the U.S. largely has forgotten how to build reliable and successful rockets. Shipbuilding skills, something he sought to re-kindle in part by his now abortive Littoral Combat Ship program, he felt similarly evaporated. And so on. His point? Procurement turgidities and essentially state funded industries conspired to degrade capabilities to batch processes unsuitable for useful production. Concrete knowledge and skills are now mere color graphics on a PowerPoint presentation all too often.
One is also reminded how exasperated Cher Condi became in her Warrior Princess period (carefully airbrushed away by her apologists) when reminded by puzzled Iraqis, “Why can't you re-build our electrical grid if you could put a man on the moon”? (The refrain became so constant that the NSC shorthanded the complaint to “another Man in the Moon thing” ). NASA to justify the literally astronomical sums to recreate their glory years by 2020 now concedes we no longer know how to do that, too. Some of Katrina may be related to this as well.
kills can be recovered as Congress shows, given sufficient interest and will. Whether the same can be said for something intangible as civic virtue, however, remains a vital question. Here, Democrats could take a lesson from of all people, Newt. But in reverse. Politics can have a pedagogical purpose as well. Their hearings, their subpoenas and their sound bites at their best should aim for something higher than highlighting the Administration's malfeasance. They should be aimed at re-awakening an understanding and appeciation for how functioning separation of powers is vital for both political parties and the Nation as a whole. So far, they are on the right track.
Over at Asia Times, Spengler has a piece
about the repackaging of Tolkien's latest. Spengler is consumed with the old game of spotting religious allegory in Tolkien's mythos. For our purposes, we ignore that and the uncomfortable racial purity/genetics aspects to note Tolkien's entropic inclinations. We don't subscribe to that particular materialist/linear notion of Time. We do believe, however, that America's odd affair with its short and long memories is both a blessing and a demanding obligation on us all.
Tags: Separation of Powers
Who need experience when we can all sit back and listen to Keith Olberman's Special Comments, then act accordingly? [Insert Dean scream here]
Bill Moyers doesn't need our publicity - and he can be annoying, but if you haven't seen his interview of Russert, here it is. Russert, after being exposed as a Cheney stooge, remind Moyers than he is a “working class guy from Buffalo.”
Tonight's debate with Brian Williams - absolutely excruciating - even to the point of Tom Friedman being alluded to as a sage.
Brian Williams asked the Dem candidates these excruciating banal question - like if Obama uses new lightbulbs. etc. These are the worst kind of questions and Williams and Russert have been pushing this kind of stuff for a while. Hey. Edwards, who do you consider to be your moral leader? What the hell is that - Is Edwards now required to compete with Dubya's accidental insicnerity eight years ago? Horrible. Williams asked the worst questions of any debate ever. The worst - he is part of the problem. Then Williams refers to some mysterious Dem friend, etc. Almost every question was ludicrous and pre-voided. Plus - no applause rule were dumb as hell.
Now that the candidates are off stage, they are talking about meaningful things - But what is the deal with Williams and these 'do you like nascar' type questions? We don't know if he aksed that - but you get the drift. Total garbage debate - the kind of stuff Dowd revels in. Doc, do you see what we see? There were so many times when the best reply would have been, “Brian, that's really not somethin that should be addressed in this forum. Brian, that's a personal question. Brian, that's an inappropriate question ...”
Yes, a civilizational debacle in a microcosm. So painful at times one was tempted to jab a pencil into the eyeball to erase the retinal burn. A shame Brokaw didn't intone that “what we are seeing tonight, Brian, is what the Greatest Generation (tm) fought to preserve”. The perfect unintentional punch line.
In that sense, Moyers is unfortunately too narrowly focused in his critique. It's not the war, or just the war. The entire media edifice has been dysfuntional for some time now. What Williams did tonight is not too dissimilar to the cloying and shallow “debates” he hosted in the 1990s with all the digital Kool Aiders on MSNBC, etc. With the tech CEOs as Ur Statesmen. Or for that matte our “book” merchandising complex generally. An endless array of blank genuflection grown into maturity under the Warlord's regime.
If we wish to give Williams some credit, one could compliment his vapidity as clever strategem: his real priority? To stanch the viewership bleed to Gibson. So he knows he can't come across as “pointy headed” especially in South Carolina and adopts the Pabst persona. He knows the younger demos don't watch broadcast anymore, but he is fighting for the sub rosa Matlock voters and their remotes. But that would be over generous.
This morning Smercomish says Brian Williams did a terrific job and that he's noy just saying this to suck up - We believe him because Williams does not operate in a vacuum - He is surrounded by people who sincerely think those are good questions, etc
A good Apple Computer ad would feature Brian Williams -types in the 198ish role, and the sole human candidate would respond like a normal human being by refusing to reply to dumb questions about light bulbs, etc.
Smercomish says Richardson is his favorite “beer candidate” - the one he'd like to have a beer with the most. Fair enough - Hillary always seemed bad for a beer - maybe a jello shooter, but not a beer. But who would be Smercomish's favorite LSD candidate be? Or his favorite person to to shroom with? Probably Newt - but if you limited him to Dems, he'd probably be afraid to trip with Kucinic - maybe he'd like to sniff glue with him but no LSD, thank you very much.
Obviously we'd guess Smercomish would prefer to drink beer with Richardson, do acid with Gravel, and use shrooms with the whole Edwards family.
Graeme: Thanks for the kind words. I always felt the Arbiter was the most interesting Halo character and it must have annoyed the Moral Clarity crowd that the Covenant was no longer a one-dimensional enemy. We'll see if 3 can improve on the rushed nature of 2.
Re Smercomish: He and Tweety both exude a peculiar Philadelphian trait — the angry chip on the shoulder from the fact that I-95 really detours around Philly. Leaving it in this existential lacuna where Classic Rock, 1987 Cameros and practicing replevin law in Center City are still noble and honorable things. Smercomish is the epitome of a Philadelphian venturing forth from that time warp bubble and sampling real Time flows in New York, Boston or DC. They get angry. Before the Warlord's time, that schtik would have been quaint and understood properly as proto-reactionary. Now, it is prized for its demographic pull. Tweety abandoned that frame long ago but manufactures nostalgia for it to assuage his conscience.
re Smercomish - that's an interesting analysis and seem on point - They are in a wormhole a bit - even the shore towns they go to are insulate from the nyc stations. There are so many accidents of location in the Phili metro area. btw, we were joking about Smercomish above and did not mean to suggest anything - But when he gets his new Zepelin album ad goes wild who knows. Yes - Tweet harps on that demo - which is akin to a certain slice of Nassua Ct. in NY, but there the rage is more grounded - thus O'reilly is a more authentic artist.
Brian Williams appears on Hardball for his victory lap - no joke, Tweety congrats him on his questions. Says he will study them. Amazing. Then Williams highlights the worst question - the gun question - as his best question. The gun question, according to Tweety MEANS SOMETHING. Really. Tweety might have exposed himself as dishonesy - because if he really read Barack's autobiography then he would know that the reason he doesn't have guns in the house might be different from why a yuppie like Matthews doesn't. Matthews implies - you know -that we can interpret HRC haveing no guns, a truly anomolous woman - What a moron. Or why Edwards does not - first of all, as Webb can testify, you can't have them in DC anyway.
But it was also a stupid question because it was something any journalist could find out - without exposing the candidates worldwide as lacking a deterrent. Mayve Edwards wife objects — but maybe he'd prefer that people thought his house was armed.
But Williams and Tweet-head, projecting themselves and their yuppie panic, decided that question Meant Something. Cheney has guns - does anyone really think he has more in common with most people than Barack, the unarmed black man?]
It's such a shame that Tweety matters - Haircut crap, etc
Have you ever talked to someone only to realize gradually that they are boarderline insane? That was like Scarbouugh last night talking to Tweety and trying to explain simply that HRC is not just seen as a “woman candidate” - that she is known for many other reaosn and things. Tweety kept pushing back talking about some “green monster” in the Atlantic ocean who is obseseed with HRC's sex. Then Joe tried to explain - but Tweety kept pushing back and repeating, eventually Joe quite. The onlu consolatioon was watching Olberman, Tweet, and Carlson on at once - and realizing they all really dislike each other and hold each other in a measure of disdain.
re “The only consolation was watching Olberman, Tweet, and Carlson on at once - and realizing they all really dislike each other and hold each other in a measure of disdain.”
And two of them covet Keith's writing and ratings.