Adventus

"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The more things change


First, on the Hillary Clinton front.  Maybe you heard about those "150 FBI agents" working on Clinton's e-mails.  Well, not so fast:

The recently edited version of the 5000 word article by Robert O'Harrow in the WP has the following correction at the very end for those who have the stamina to read that far.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that Clinton used two different email addresses, sometimes interchangeably, as secretary of state. She used only hdr22@clintonemail.com as secretary of state. Also, an earlier version of this article reported that 147 FBI agents had been detailed to the investigation, according to a lawmaker briefed by FBI Director James B. Comey. Two U.S. law enforcement officials have since told The Washington Post that figure is too high. The FBI will not provide an exact figure, but the officials say the number of FBI personnel involved is fewer than 50. 
Less than 50?  Yeah, apparently way less than 50:

Update from NBCNews:

But a former federal law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the Clinton investigation tells MSNBC an estimate anywhere near 50 agents is also off base.
"There are currently about 12 FBI agents working full-time on the case," says the source, who would only speak anonymously about an open investigation.
So there's that, and yes that "150 agents" number is going to stick because a lie is halfway around the world while truth is still putting its boots on.  Case in point:

This morning [July 25, 2015], The New York Times issued a second substantial correction to its anonymously-sourced report that originally hyped a potential Department of Justice investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of personal email. The paper has now removed the claim -- which appeared in both the article's headline and first sentence -- that two inspectors general were seeking a "criminal" investigation into the handling of Clinton's emails.

How much of a correction?

But the Times hadn't only botched the target of the inquiry, it misstated its nature as well. Yesterday, Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democratic member of the Benghazi Select Committee, released a statement saying that he had personally spoken with the State Department Inspector General and the Intelligence Community Inspector General and "both confirmed directly to me that they never asked the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation of Secretary Clinton's email usage. Instead, they said this was a 'routine' referral, and they have no idea how the New York Times got this so wrong."

Additionally, a Justice Department official reportedly said yesterday -- apparently contradicting earlier statements from the DOJ -- that the referral over the emails was not "criminal."
And yet still the argument rages on the intertoobs that Clinton will be indicted by the FBI (which agency doesn't seek indictments; the AG's of the DOJ do that) for her "e-mail scandal."  Which is never going to happen because nobody is trying to make it happen.

We used to call this "Clinton Derangement Syndrome."  Except now it's coming from erstwhile Democrats who think they are supporting Bernie Sanders with this stuff, as well as from a media all too willing to put sensation above responsibility.

And now we're going to have a revolution.  Well, to quote Jann Wenner, who knows a thing or two about revolutions:

Hillary Clinton has an impressive command of policy, the details, trade-offs and how it gets done. It's easy to blame billionaires for everything, but quite another to know what to do about it. During his 25 years in Congress, Sanders has stuck to uncompromising ideals, but his outsider stance has not attracted supporters among the Democrats. Paul Krugman writes that the Sanders movement has a "contempt for compromise."

Every time Sanders is challenged on how he plans to get his agenda through Congress and past the special interests, he responds that the "political revolution" that sweeps him into office will somehow be the magical instrument of the monumental changes he describes. This is a vague, deeply disingenuous idea that ignores the reality of modern America. With the narrow power base and limited political alliances that Sanders had built in his years as the democratic socialist senator from Vermont, how does he possibly have a chance of fighting such entrenched power?

I have been to the revolution before. It ain't happening.
Or you can ask Barney Frank:

Bernie Sanders has been in Congress for 25 years with little to show for it in terms of his accomplishments and that’s because of the role he stakes out. It is harder to get things done in the American political system than a lot of people realize, and what happens is they blame the people in office for the system. And that’s the same with the Tea Party. It’s “I voted for these Republicans, we have a Republican Congress, we voted for them, they took over Congress, they didn’t accomplish anything.” You gotta win at least two elections in a row.
"It's the same as the Tea Party" is how I now understand more and more of the most militant Sanders supporters.  Honestly, it's hard to slip a piece of paper between a Cruz fanatic and a Sanders fanatic.  They have the same goals, they just want different results; and most of all, they have the same methods and the same impatience with harsh reality.  The worst of them take the position of Susan Sarandon, only without the smile:  let Trump win and the whole system will burn to the ground; only then can the Phoenix of "true America" rise from the ashes.

Well, as Wenner said:  "I have been to the revolution.  It ain't happening."  Or, as Southern Beale put it:

America will not do a storm-the-Bastille style “revolution.” Ever. Much as the far right and far left may yearn for it, we won’t, because we don’t need to. Let me take this opportunity to channel my 7th grade social studies teacher and remind everyone that Americans are given an opportunity for “revolution” every two years when we hold our national elections. Imperfect though they may be, warts and all, voter suppression and two-party system be damned, the truth of the matter is, our democracy allows for a substantial — and peaceful — turnover in power, if the people demand it. That is our system. That is the system of most stable Western democracies. That is why we don’t have bloody, disruptive, revolutions in the UK and Canada and France and Germany and the like.
I'd say we're too British to storm the Bastille (there's a cultural reason the French did it and the British just replaced the King with Cromwell, however briefly); but she's right:  we change the system every 2 years.  But that doesn't mean we burn the system to the ground and start from ashes, or that anything ever arises from ashes except chaos.  Try as I might, I can't distinguish Sarandon's sentiments:

 Asked about her own vote, Sarandon replied, “I don’t know, I’m going to see what happens,” before she added with a smile, “You know, some people think Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately. If he gets in then things will really, you know, explode.” 
From those of Dick Cheney and the neocons who led us into Iraq on the basis that a little revolution would be good for the region.  Yeah, how's that working out?

The Tea Party wants to seize control of the government and bend it to it's solitary will.  The genius of the system is to make that nearly impossible, because democracy is the rule of the people, not the rule of some people.  Mostly it's not the people I want to be in charge (trust me, I've lived in Texas most of my life, I know what I'm talking about on that point).  But the revolutionaries have yet to convince me their way is an improvement.  Mostly, in the words of that old Who song, it's:  "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

We don't need a political revolution:  we need a change of culture; we need a change of heart.  One is dangerous, disruptive, and truly radical.  The other is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Yeah; the Titanic.

1 Comments:

Blogger ntodd said...

Heinz 57 comes to mind for some reason...

5:40 PM  

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