Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Two Gladiators Brawl at ObWi

I don't link to Obsidian Wings nearly enough, considering it is one of the few outposts in the blogosphere dedicated to temperate debate among many divergent view points. Oddly, it's this temperance, I think, which subliminally interferes with me visiting more frequently, since in this time of rampant partisanship and ideologically-driven rancor I find myself spending more time than I should reading things that confirm and vindicate my outrage. Which is the trap we're all falling into, at our peril.

This is intellectually lazy, but then the more infuriated I become the less intellectually inclined I feel, as I've made quite evident in my recent posts on Congress. It is, quite literally, hard for me to concentrate enough to maintain sight of my presumed commitment to recognize that conservatism, in itself, simply reflects different, but in terms legitimate accounts of the world and how to live in it. As others have noted, however, there's little "conservativism" traditionally understood in Washington right now; the Republican party has lost its way, making this liberal long for the days of Gingrich and a principled conservatism; no matter how much I disagreed with the policies then embodied by the party, at least I could find identifiable principles to disagree with. Now, the only principles the GOP appears beholden serve the maintenance of GOP power at all cost, and Congress votes monolithically, slavishly, to reward its true constituency (which is nearly exclusive of its voting constituency, us, the People).

Certainly, people claim, and not incorrectly, that when Democrats have dominated inside the Beltway they have visited abuses upon the minority, developed bad habits that have reflected poorly on policy decisions, and sometimes lost track of their own putative priorities. Furthermore, I'm a bit on the young side, and insufficiently knowledgeable of political history to speak authoritatively about those abuses, such as they were.

But no one has convinced me that any era of Democrat power, certainly in the past 50 years, has been anywhere near as ugly as the Republican era we now inhabit. I blame this loosely on so many different things -- a collectively lazy, moreso than biased, media; a lazy electorate that demands no more from its information sources, which mistakes pithy invective for honest debate, and votes what it hears more than what it can learn, votes individual issues rather than larger political philosophies, and remains ignorant of how various policies serve or disserve its interests; politicians who pander to the lazy for expediency's sake rather than taking risks to elevate the terms of the debate and the expectations of their constituents, who gladhand rather than pound the lectern, who tailor their behavior to poll data that often reflects the imprint of their own prior spin-doctoring; me, and you, for not doing more to change things, for not demanding more, for expecting less, for the soft biggotry of our low expectations.

All of this an overlong introduction to what amounts to a couple of links.

Baltar is disillusioned, and gathers a damning list of the past week's political events illustrating widespread Republican misfeasance.

From the comments that follow that post, I was led to an ObWi post by Hilzoy concerning Congress's failure to pass PAYGO legislation this week, which would have restored some semblance of fiscal discipline to a spend-happy Republican Congress.

What's really notable about that post, however, is the battle it touched off in the comment thread, principally betweem two ObWi heavyweights, Katherine and Sebastian Holsclaw. Katherine, you either remember or should remember, did a powerful investigative series on extraordinary rendition.

In the midst of the debate between K and SH, Edward, another ObWi'er, quipped: "The best response when two gladiators start a brawl in a public square is to give them some room."

Indeed. A long but worthy battle. (You have to dig maybe a dozen comments down to see its beginning, and about two thirds of the way down surrogates dominate for a while, but K and SH reappear all the way to the bottom of the thread, in hand-to-hand combat I predictably believe Katherine got the best of, finally ending in the sort of teary quasi-reconciliation familiar to all of us from intra-familial squabbles.)


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