Hermits Rock

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I grow tense in October of election years. By October much of what’s left in campaigns is posturing and attacking, and we’ve had no lack of both here, especially in the campaigns in Iowa’s first district, which pits lawsuit abusing communist Bruce Braley against millionaire hawk Mike Whalen. The first isn’t my district, but I get caught up in the fervor of it all nonetheless. Frankly, I need to calm down. At the very least, I should probably avoid commenting elsewhere altogether.

But I must admit that recent elections have been worse because the US has been mired in war and strapped to feckless international policies. I mean, yesterday the President declared that the US owns space, which is a problem, as Yglesias points out, because other nations on whom the US must rely to accomplish policy goals have vested interests in space, too. And I get anxious, too, because even year Octobers have witnessed surprise alerts with too much regularity. But it’s not the fear of terrorism that makes me anxious, particularly not in this case; it’s the shroud of cynicism that descends across my eyes. (For more on this new “threat,” Ted Genoways’ swift googly fingers are were—the original link has been taken down in the four hours since I posted—worth paying attention to.) Most frustrating, I can’t tell whether it’s my cynicism descending, or whether the descending cynicism is that of the men who manipulate security for votes.

In part because I tire of that game, I hope for divided government come January. Then, perhaps, there will be good reason for a not quite Do-Nothing Congress to be mired in its own bickering. If nothing else, Democratic control of at least one chamber should revive oversight from its current state of shriveled-up husk to humidified seed, or even rooting seedling. The following juxtaposition of oversight, between our last divided government and our current unified one, is abhorrent:

In the Clinton years, a single House committee, Government Reform, issued over 1,000 subpoenas and spent millions of dollars investigating the White House and the Democratic Party. More than two million pages of documents were handed over. In one inquiry alone—the grave matter of the politicization of the White House Christmas list—Republicans took 140 hours of testimony….

In terms of congressional oversight, what has followed in the Bush years is even worse than the abuses of the Clinton years: nothing. Congress has brushed off the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program. In the rubberstamp House of Representatives, the abuses at Abu Ghraib have merited a total of a dozen hours of sworn testimony. The use of propaganda by government agencies? A collective yawn from the GOP. The housing and urban development secretary’s boast of denying federal grants to contractors who dislike Bush? Silence.

Given that many of the things not overseen are questionably constitutional and legal—not the least ethical!—should make everyone consider what it is we elect representatives for. They take the same oath of office as the President, after all, but I’m afraid that to say as much these past six years has really meant, “I take the the same oath as my President, and whatever he says I do.” Thankfully, representative will never mean automaton, no matter how much others may try to make it so; I only hope Americans are wise enough this year to remember it at the polls.



Breathe deeply.

The assertion that the US controls Outer Space probably violates about a half-dozen treaties and doesn’t seem to be well thought-out. But that has never stopped us before.

BTW: I shared some papers written by one your ancestors for a research paper she’s writing on Romans 13 yesterday. I couldn’t believe I still had them.

Breathe deeply is what I try, but some days it’s no use. As with space, it’s the “not well thought out” combined with “never stopped us before” that’s so frustrating about it—this government’s anti-internationalism extends not simply to the United Nations but to disavowal of treaties in general. (It’s one reason why the whole torture fiasco has been so damnably frustrating—the Geneva conventions are a treaty, signed and approved by Congress; for the President to willynilly dismiss them is in itself a powergrab…) Anyway, it’s not the fact that the US declared it owns space, which is silly, overreaching, and unenforceable; it’s the fact that there seems to be no good reason to declare it at all, much less right now.

Anyway, that ancestor wrote a Sunday school class on Romans but it is of course no surprise he also wrote elsewhere about it (what didn’t he write about?). What were they, specifically?

I think having a strong cynicism for politics is a healthy thing. You should start worrying when you’re satisfied with it.

I mean, Jesus Christ, have you seen this???

No, I had missed that. But I did see this, and it made me sad.

The right eyes saw it.