Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Time to get a few things off my chest

The battle of between ideologues, the war of words, he said/she said, the blame game, government’s too big/too small, who’s right/who’s wrong, and so forth and so on.  Americans love to take sides, other than Israelis, who will argue about anything, we love to debate and deliberate.  Unfortunately, we all too often take it to a win at all costs level resulting in a zero sum game.  When that happens, society becomes a Sunday Talk Show: point counter-point people shouting over one another and we are left with nothing but noise.  Not only must we win, we must vanquish and embarrass.   And now sadly too many of us are getting our information from cable news, which is really entertainment poorly veiled as news.  Sadly, SNL foretold the future decades ago during its Weekend Update segment ‘Point Counter-Point’ featuring Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd: ‘Jane you ignorant slut.’

Accountability versus Blame

When Gisele Bundchen in a moment of frustration defended her husband New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady following Patriots’ loss to the Giants in the Super Bowl, it was taken as she was blaming the Patriots’ receiving corps for dropping too many passes, specifically Wes Welker seemed to be the target of Ms. Bundchen’s ire.  Yes when we feel we are being singled out, we lash out. 

The upset wife was clearly blaming her husband’s teammates for the team’s failure.  But what about accountability?  It is indeed a fine line between blaming someone and holding someone responsible.  Society needs someone to blame as a cathartic remedy anytime something goes wrong.  We want to blame someone for high gas prices, financial collapse, a defeats during a championship, our failure to get a promotion, etc.  When times are tough, people will blame immigrants for stealing jobs and ruining our way of life.  But separating the emotional need to blame; how and who do we need to hold accountable?  Accountability is a preventive measure, blame is after the fact.  If people, businesses, and communities are told they will be held accountable or answerable to their actions would they behave differently.  Conversely, like a bad parent or bad teacher, failing to hold parties accountable is tantamount to abdicating all legitimacy to criticize and critique.

Where am I going with this?

I think blame is too late and is often the instrument most often used by people that want to distance themselves from any responsibility and potential culpability. It is mental self-centered catharsis; whereas I think accountability is a proactive approach to understanding who is responsible and answerable to any future failures.  In a comprehensive analysis of the financial meltdown, authors Joe Nocera and Bethany McLean paint a picture of systemic failures in their book “All the Devils are Here”.  When reading it, I was struck by the fact that I wasn’t seeking to blame anyone, but to understand why so few people have been held accountable.  Sure some mortgage originators have been punished and maybe some low level wall street investors have been singled out, but what about the Wall Street executives, regulators, Congressmen, Federal Reserve presidents, bureaucrats, and corporate directors?  To whom do these people answer?  Without accountability, we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over.  Oh, I am still waiting to find out who has been held accountable for creating fraudulent ‘intelligence’ regarding the Iraq-al Qaeda 9/11 connection.  Care for some yellow cake?

Urgency and Political Handcuffs

What is so disappointing in this course of human events is our leaders inability to do the right thing when faced with long term crises.  We have heard for decades about the need to achieve energy independency and to cut ourselves off the OPEC crude oil spigot.  And yet here we are again having the same argument and what do we hear?  Republicans blaming the President for high oil prices and no one admitting any responsibility.  Energy independence, tax reform, and education enhancement are all long term issues that require planning and commitment, but most of all it requires courage.  When our nation committed to fighting fascism in the 1940’s, reaching for the moon in the 1960’s, and investing in infrastructure throughout the 20th century, these were expensive long term goals that we sought to achieve at great human cost and peril, but we did so as a nation.  A nation rallying behind its leaders.

What is anti-American?

Are secular liberals godless indoctrinating anti-American atheists?  Are social conservatives reactionary anti progressive theocrats? I have always thought what makes America the greatest nation on earth is our belief that everyone is entitled to their beliefs.  What makes it even better, is I can tell someone to STHU if they feel it is necessary to preach when I’m not interested.  Irrespective of the cherry pickers, our rights are not god given, they are enabled and protected by our nation’s laws; laws steeped deeply in Judeo-Christian beliefs while still maintaining a secular nucleus.  If the right wants to continue to bang the culture war drums, so be it, but they do so at their own election peril as America has moved forward with social progression. I never understood how the south likes to call themselves real patriots, after all, aren’t they the one section of the US that tried to sever the Union?

Some other thoughts.

When did compromise become equated with capitulation and appeasement?  We are in the political version of trench warfare where moderates find themselves in no man’s land. Stalemate on the battle field is gridlock in politics.

In Arizona a lobbyist was able to work with her GOP friends to stop anti-bullying legislation because it promoted a gay agenda.  What is Cathi Herrod afraid of?  Glee clubs will be popping up all over the Grand Canton State?

Freedom of speech protects people from an oppressive government.  It doesn’t protect you from getting fired for being a douche.  Funny how those trying to defend Rush Limbaugh refuse to mention the godless commie ACLU. 

There you have it.  Still the greatest nation on earth.  Who’s fault is that?

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