Temporary Disengagement

The Ntrepid family just completed a week long vacation to the state of my birth.  It was eight mostly blissful days away from the habitual over consumption of news that mires my routine everyday life.  Nothing but kids music and videos for endless hours in the car…a near perfect media blackout.


A few items did stick with me along the way…


(1) During a self guided tour of the state capitol building we snapped a family photo just outside the front door…standing below the following stone carving:




Hmmmm.  “Salvation”…as in “deliverance from the power and penalty of sin, redemption” (per my copy of Webster’s)?  I’m not sure how much to read into the chosen wording but I’m pretty sure it was selected not to mean specifically “survival” of the state, “empowerment” of the state, “prosperity” of the state, “generosity” of the state, and probably not even “monthly check from” the state.


It struck me again how even such preserved wisdom of the ages seems lost on the voting generations of the early twenty-first century.  When undefined “CHANGE” and a paper thin resume garners 52% of the vote during a time of war and world wide economic collapse, I see a citizenry that is wholly undeserving of the awesome responsibility of caring for this ongoing experiment of freedom. 


I won’t even go into the embarrassment that is the current congress…with plenty of shame on both sides of the aisle. This further demonstrates that the problem isn’t just with red or blue states and it wasn’t just one election.  The American Citizen is failing.


The voters are not alone in this dereliction of duty.  It seems to me our media needs to realize they are not partisan cheerleaders…they are citizens first.  More importantly in the coming weeks and months, our congress needs to realize they are not check writers and givers of rights…they are citizens first.  That responsibility seems forgotten once most of them enter their “kingdoms” in Washington, DC.


(2) One morning I passed by a TV tuned into CNBC and paused just long enough to hear one of the on-air personalities mock the conspiracy theorists who still have the foolish audacity to believe that speculators had anything to do with last years spike in oil prices. 


Hours later I came by again in time to hear another market expert explain that whatever it is these speculators have or have not been doing and whether that manipulated the market or not, I need to know it is very important to me that they are doing it.  (Whether I’m smart enough to understand it or not, I presume.) 


Further bastardizing a sentiment that I long ago stole from someone much wiser than me, this story continues to erode any remaining confidence I have in any media source to actually understand the facts and context of a particular story and, even worse, casts larger doubt that they have the intelligence or the will to report it accurately.


(3) It is simply amazing how often you come across numbers so preposterous and/or overly-massaged into meaninglessness that are so easily and mindlessly repeated by local and national media figures alike…even when you are purposely not paying any attention. 


“Forty-odd million uninsured” this and “ump-teen thousand lose coverage every day” that…it is all so shocking and without context…just as intended.


But it’s the ignorant recitation of such numbers by policy makers that drives me nuts.  A little real knowledge (and honesty) would prevent embarrassments like “five hundred million job losses per month”, “six hundred thousand Iraqi civilian deaths”, and “twenty foot rises in sea level”.  I seem to remember an episode back in the mid-nineties when someone threw out a figure on Crossfire that equated to 110% of all American women as being battered.  And, of course, it never occurred to anyone to challenge it.


(4) As I worked my way through the halfway portions of McCullough’s “Truman”, I came across this nugget from the former President:


“If a man is acquainted with what other people have experienced at this desk it will be easier for him to go through a similar experience.  It is ignorance that caused most mistakes.  The man who sits here ought to know his American history, at least.”  If ever there were a “clean break from all that had gone before,” … the result would be chaos. (Page 558)


There’s a lot to think about in there…much of it leads into the next topic.


(5) Just a few pages later in the same book the Truman administration realizes the opposition is playing a completely different game:


But Stalin had asked what difference it made if there was no agreement.  “We may agree the next time, or if not then, the time after,” Stalin said, as he idly doodled wolves’ heads with a red pencil.


Stalin’s indifference made a profound impression on Marshall.  The Soviets, it seemed, were quite content to see uncertainty and chaos prevail in Europe.  It served their purposes to let matters drift. (Page 661)


It appears the old international version of the anti-individual-freedom playbook is very similar to the domestic translation.  Don’t ever let a crisis go to waste…and bring on the politburo (or maybe just an unaccountable collection of czars). 


With that last reference, it is unfortunate that new boundaries of federal power are quietly being marked and solidified while “we” all focus on important things like the over-organized spontaneity of a White House photo-op involving beer.  When the fog of “chaos” lifts, even many of last November’s fifty-two percent may not like what they see. 


All in all, I’m not so sure I’m looking forward to my return to normalcy.



Proud Member for 4 years 11 months


PS. Who was on that plane?