The Talking Dog

November 25, 2007, Deep thoughts

It's been a while since I read my own comments about the gigantic protest march against the Iraq war in New York City on 15 February 2003, one of the coldest days I remember, at which hundreds of thousands turned out. I did not realize that I mentioned that the local "paper of record" suggested as many as 400,000 attended, which, ultimately, was my own best estimate; I just remember its insistence on treating the Republican Lord Mayor's self-serving estimate at only 100,000 as if it were of equal importance. (In retrospect, I was too kind to Bush by... a lot. In addition to his various crimes against our Constitution, history may well judge him as being responsible for the deaths of more Iraqis than even Saddam; time will tell.)

The point is that we now live in a society where the successful performance of the task is no longer as important as getting credit for that task. Why the average high school senior's Ivy League College application package reads like the average obituary for a Nobel Prize winner, even though by most objective measures, our high school graduates seem to be as dumb, if not dumber, than ever (certainly when measured against the rest of the industrialized world). Or why the great fortunes are not earned by and large by those brilliant at delivering value for customers or shareholders, but at those best at playing games with tax and regulatory dodges and technical legardemaine in their hedge funds, or perhaps, by using their connections to gain government contracts. When even earned victories in elections are often not credited, when partisan vote counters (or pre-election vote manipulators) have spoken first... and last.

Why rights once thought of as sacrosanct, such as the Bill of Rights and its prohibition on deprivation of liberty without due process of law is thrown under the bus in the cases of Padilla and al Marri, or its prohibition on unreasonable search and seizure can be thrown out so communications may be monitored at executive whim, or its prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment is thrown under the bus so that we may "waterboard" those we find troublesome... in short, why the fundamental Constitutional protections that have enabled this nation to become the most prosperous and powerful that has ever existed... are no longer even credited.

Why our courts, which once existed to apply the law and the Constitution in an evenhanded way (at least in theory), have become little more than hyper-partisan agents for enforcing the status quo and particularly the interests of the rich and powerful.

Deep sigh. It's a nice, sunny day here in Brooklyn. I think I'll go outside. I urge you to do the same.