Friday, August 15, 2008

a book by a conservative that i'm buying right freaking now.

No, not that book.

Here I am trying to enjoy the miraculous victory that Michael Phelps had in the 100m butterfly today, and I flip over to KERA as a pure fluke (TiVO's out of commission for the moment - I never channelsurf).

I see a couple of white-headed guys going on about some general political stuff and I flip back over to Numb3ers. Phelps takes the gold, and I still don't think I've seen a frame of video where he's actually in the lead anywhere, and as NBC goes to break, I end up flipping back over to KERA.

Before I know it, I'm totally sucked it by a guy named Andrew Bacavich (pronounced BASE-uh-vich) who's making a brilliant series of nuanced and emotional statements about the state of where we are as a country today.

Bacavich describes himself as a conservative - disillusioned with the failures of the Republicans to uphold their collective promises of smaller government, balanced budgets, and a return to the "traditional values" of the past (his quotes). Further disillusioned with the American imperialism that sent his own son off to die fighting in Iraq, and with the lack of Congress to illustrate a meaningful picture of the greater good, Bacavich describes the rise of the American imperial presidency. This presidency isolates the president from Congressional oversight with its myriad of agencies that don't answer to congress: The FBI, CIA, NSA, joint chiefs of staff, Attourney general, etc - and the congress willingly thrusts its powers onto the exective branch, so that it can get on with its business of getting re-elected. Further, he details how the empire of production that arose out of WWII shifted to the empire of consumption that we live in today, and the threat that the full-on consumption culture poses to our society and our security as a whole.

Watch the entire interview
when you get a moment. It's flat-out fascinating.

It's a blunt, scathing critique of the state of American govt and policy. And it rightly puts the blame not on those that run for and are elected to office, but to our moronic electorate that continually puts them into office. As Carlin says, "Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens you're going to get selfish, ignorant politicians. So maybe something else sucks around here." - actually, watching that passage again it's amazing how parallel the sentiments run.

So the book is called The Limit of Power, and I'll own it just as soon as I can get my oily mitts on it.

Here's a quote from the interview:

BILL MOYERS: What do you value most?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I think the clearest statement of what I value is found in the preamble to the Constitution. There is nothing in the preamble to the Constitution which defines the purpose of the United States of America as remaking the world in our image, which I view as a fool's errand. There is nothing in the preamble of the Constitution that ever imagined that we would embark upon an effort, as President Bush has defined it, to transform the Greater Middle East. This region of the world that incorporates something in order of 1.4 billion people.

I believe that the framers of the Constitution were primarily concerned with focusing on the way we live here, the way we order our affairs. To try to ensure that as individuals, we can have an opportunity to pursue our, perhaps, differing definitions of freedom, but also so that, as a community, we could live together in some kind of harmony. And that future generations would also be able to share in those same opportunities.

The big problem, it seems to me, with the current crisis in American foreign policy, is that unless we do change our ways, the likelihood that our children, our grandchildren, the next generation is going to enjoy the opportunities that we've had, is very slight, because we're squandering our power. We are squandering our wealth. In many respects, to the extent that we persist in our imperial delusions, we're also going to squander our freedom because imperial policies, which end up enhancing the authority of the imperial president, also end up providing imperial presidents with an opportunity to compromise freedom even here at home. And we've seen that since 9/11.

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