Thursday, May 16, 2013

Scandalgate and Disappointment

It's official: Obama is a president just like any other. So what else is new? Here comes the new boss, same as the old boss...

Really, when was the last time we had an administration free of these sorts of problems? Of course the bureaucrats have their biases. Of course one hand of the government wasn't talking to the other. Of course Obama seems more interested in damage control than truth. What planet are you on? The press now finds itself back in the vulture seat, circling an authority who's credibility is gushing away like a barely-slowed arterial bleed.

But that article shows that the press is still fighting for Obama. The media now charges forward with fervor to reveal corruption, because it exists to acquire and direct all the attention it can get; scandal is a source of attention as food is a source of nourishment. They devour it indiscriminately, but in Obama's case, there's still a certain restraint. In the above article, notice how it says Carney is right to insist on balance, and how absolutists miss the practical realities of governing. Notice the demeaning of Republicans and the hope for "perspective" from un-spun facts. If this were the Bush administration, such an even keel wouldn't exist. And the new trend to lump two or more scandals under the same umbrella, ostensibly due to the timing: the Tea Party tax assault and the AP records grab fall under the auspices of "scandalgate" now, and if something were to come forward about Benghazi or Medicare fraud, that will be thrown into the same label. It is less damaging to public perception if people can softly be given the impression that Obama is having a bad week, instead of allowing fuck-ups on multiple occasions.

The media is still on his side. The exception, naturally, is Fox News, an organization so jingoistic that no one should take it seriously.

I'm tempted to defend the president. The press will do it regardless, but I know full well that running a massive organization and holding it to standards of ethics which are fundamentally near-impossible for real people to follow is hard, and it's true that too few people recognize this. Obama's people, and federal employees generally, lean liberal; only a fool would expect them not to defend the interests of the government. When they act, they act on their values. Their values make them suspicious of anyone who doesn't trust them, like the Tea Party movement. This is a bias as real as anything cops have against young black males when on patrol. That's another bias that, distasteful as it may be, I understand and expect, knowing there's no easy solution.

Liberals say as much as anyone that absolute power corrupts absolutely, although they're usually talking about corporations or law enforcement. The fact that such people are blind to the reality that government is a power entity itself gets trammeled under the assertion that government is beholden to the people because of the vote. Bill Maher's panel recently talked about gun control, demeaned the second amendment, and said that the freedom of people is assured at the ballot box. Bullshit. Manipulating voters is just as easy as manipulating consumers. The press is doing it right now.

Anyway, if you were looking for something to lift your spirits in these troubled times, you came to the wrong place. I talk about economics; the entire field holds a reputation for being "the dismal science" and I'm more dismal than most. Would you really come here for something uplifting?

It's come to my attention recently that some people read my blog and come away depressed. I didn't really start it out with the intention of doing this... but in a way, I guess I did. I loathe uninformed optimism, especially the kind where people purposefully ignore reality so they can maintain a sunny disposition. I certainly don't think that people like that should have power. A society needs to be realistic about what it is, and only cautiously grasp onto hope when it has an achievable goal. So as the hope and change of the Obama era gives way to regular cynicism, let me remind America that you created this situation yourself, by basing your ideals on expectations that had nothing to do with reality. The field of economics, verified by statistics beyond question, works because it reflects what people are: self-interested, limited in their horizons, passionately gullible, and at times, thoroughly ridiculous. Eternal optimism is for the young and the stupid.

That's okay. There's a reason I push Nietzsche, too. For most, the struggles today are economic; they are struggles of establishing yourself according to the norms of the system. That's okay; such uncomfortable struggles have always existed. Today there's just more math, and you can learn to enjoy struggle by the numbers; I will teach you. You will always want to fight against it, at least certain elements of it. That's okay; we need people to learn how to lose with character. You will make constant mistakes, serious mistakes where someone, be they your friends, family, or some office worker in a government administration using other people's money, will help you and be in a position of power because of it; that's okay, because we can deal with you eventually. The system will eventually wake up and defend itself from those with flawed integrity and everyone will learn a valuable lesson through pain. That's not a tragedy. That's being alive. We can deal with it. We have tremendous advantages, tremendous resources, and tremendous reasons to be appreciative of the situation we have here. In a couple of years, no one will remember the disappointment of these recent displays of humanity. The media will make sure of it.

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