What they said

There are two excellent posts over at the League of Ordinary Gentlemen, both of which are worth reading in their entirety. They're not really related to each other, so this post may seem a bit fragmented, but I'll try to circle around and make some kind of coherent point.

First, from Chris, there is this piece about our ineffectual, hapless Congress. Money quote:
The simple fact is that the Democratic Congress has no effective leadership. More disturbingly it is because we have three branches of government and one has completely abdicated its role. Spa[y]ing and neutering is good to help control the pet population; it’s not so good when it’s self-inflicted by the US Congress. If there are not three legs planted to the ground, the stool will not stand. The GOP under Bush did stuff but basically just took marching orders from the President, but they didn’t have co-equal branch status.

The current congressional crop can’t even get themselves up in the morning to just be the President’s lackeys. Cuts into their tee time I suppose.

Just so. Chris's post is predicated on Congress's lack of a progressive economic agenda, but I think the more telling example of just how craven and inept they have become is how they responded to Obama's plans to close Guantanamo. That he intended to do so should have been no surprise at all, since he had talked about it all through his campaign. But instead of formulating a policy (which is, you know, their job) for how to transport the remaining detainees to the US, congressional leaders got totally played by the GOP and went along with the meme that the detainees were just too damn dangerous, and should probably be moved to the Phantom Zone. Pathetic.

E.D.'s post about the ongoing turmoil in Iran highlights another failure in American society:
We are witnessing two revolutions here – one, the “green revolution” in Iran which may or may not be a success, and the other the technology and news information revolution. We are witnessing the unwitting suicide and slow death of the news media as we know it, as they cave to ratings and apathy rather than getting out there and covering a real story, as they aid and abbet the numbing and dumbing down of the American people.

If you were reading the Dish this weekend you were living in a different universe from someone watching Fox or MSNBC. There is very little difference between no information and misinformation. That is what the American people are getting – a starvation diet of no news and lots of empty carbs. Fatty, salty food with no nutritional value. And we’re too damn apathetic to demand better. There is a great divide in the decisions we make as an informed populace vs the decisions we make as an uninformed or misinformed one. The people I know who rely on the MSM for their news consistently know less about what actually happened than my blogger friends do, and have less nuanced opinions about these events. That’s a damn shame if you ask me. It leads to the support of bad policy.

He's right about the lack of Iran election coverage. Unless you are the sort of person who follows international news avidly as a matter of course, you're not likely to have any sense of the tremendous drama and potential for change coming from one of the most important entities in American Middle East policy. This is an appalling state of affairs, and leads to the kind of ignorance that conflates 9/11 with Iraq and foments public support for bellicose or ham-handed foreign policy.

None of this is good news for the country, of course. We have a gaggle of "leaders" who do their jobs poorly, and a Fourth Estate that has abdicated its role as watchman.


  1. > There is very little difference between no
    > information and misinformation.

    Oh, my Lord, if this were only the case (there may be greater context in the article, though). No information may leave people confused as how to properly make decisions, as they have little or no context.

    Misinformation, on the other hand, leads people directly to make improper decisions, as they have (maliciously engineered) incorrect context.

    Given the normal inertia of a group of people, a lack of information just leads those with a lower barrier to activity to go find information. The rest mill around and do nothing, which may be suboptimum but it's unlikely to also be most pessimum.

    Misinformation, on the other hand, lowers the barrier to activity for those who are predisposed towards an agenda to move in the wrong direction. This is much more likely to be most pessimum overall.

    Just ask the bison who routinely were deceived into running off the end of Buffalo Jump.

  2. Let's see, in the post, the Democrats controlling Congress are feckless. In the previous post, they are so powerful they threaten Mr. Obama's attempt to Medicare-ize all Americans. So which is it?

  3. 1) Fair point about that line, padraig. That being said, I think the broader point about the failures of the media stands.

    2) And John, Congress remains constitutionally powerful. They just seem incapable of using that power to any good effect. One can have access to power and use it poorly. (If you disagree, I would direct your attention to any number of newly-minted teen drivers.)

  4. Dan, I agree totally that Congress is incapable of using its power to any good effect, Democrat or Republican led. It appears to me that Congress doesn't give a damn about anything beyond enriching their family, friends, and large donors. Oh, and tossing a bone on occasion to special interests that vote.

    Congress runs DC. You would think that the city would be a paradise with low crime, excellent schools, and all the other supposed benefits of Smart Government control. But the opposite is true. DC is a cesspool of corruption, crime, murder, and the schools? Puulleese. Until Congress can run DC to the level of an average American city, they should keep their moneygrubbing mitts off local and State government, healthcare, and really, just about anything else apart from the military and foreign policy. If Congress proves it can actually manage a, you know, city, then we can talk about Congress managing a nation.