Last week, my progressive counterpart wrote a column that decried gerrymandering as being an enemy of “good politics.” While I agree with his distaste for gerrymandering - the practice of defining boundaries for voting districts to favor one political party or the other - “good politics” is a foreign concept. An oxymoron is an expression with contradictory words.
Politics - at least as it is practiced in the United States - is seldom, if ever, good. Which sure makes this expression sound like an oxymoron.
Beginning with President Washington the development of political parties served to divide rather than to unite the country. So when you combine parties with politics - which boiled down to its essence is nothing more than quid pro quo by another name - the vote trading in the development of legislation and laws usually serves to benefit special interests, powerful companies, individual political parties and others.
If the general public gets something out of the deal too, that is usually what is trumpeted to high heaven while the other stuff is hidden behind the curtain.
This past weekend one of the Sunday programs featured a segment on Franklin Delano Roosevelt who was faced with the Great Depression. The segment was a two-pronged approach, one that discussed how FDR had used the fireside chats to reassure the public the government was attempting to improve things, and it examined the evolution of presidential usage of the media.
Surprisingly, but truthfully, the segment acknowledged that it took World War II to break the country out of the depression.
However, the final part of their report seemed to criticize the amount of news coverage that President Trump has received as though he was responsible for it. As I sat listening to their words I was struck by the fact that virtually all organs of the media are doing as much as they can to make the president look bad ... and by doing so he dominates the news coverage, and they are shutting out much of the other news and many other personalities.
Sometimes the media is its own worst enemy
Another thing that struck me last week was Gov. Walz addressing the problem of so many COVID-19 virus deaths in senior citizen facilities. Let’s think about this. When the virus first hit Seattle, where did most of the deaths occur? In one senior citizen facility if you’ve forgotten.
In New York they moved some people who contracted the virus into senior citizen facilities, with predictable results. And it’s not just the patients, but the health care workers in those facilities who are also endangered. I hearken back to the 1950s and the “moron” jokes; I wonder if a cycle isn’t repeating itself.
As things start to ease in the commercial world a couple of things are obvious to me. One is that inevitably the number of infections is going to increase; how rapidly and by what percentage is anyone’s guess. And some of that increase will be a result of expanded testing.
Secondly, “one size fits all” regulations were unworkable and perhaps moronic themselves. The jokes about holding church services in the plumbing section of Home Depot, Lowe's or Menards were accompanied by similar jabs at Amazon and Walmart.
In my last active duty I had to deal with computer models that supposedly measured the effectiveness and benefits of different types of electronic warfare equipment. I grew to be suspicious of anyone who relied on the results of modeling and simulations. These are tools that can be manipulated to aid a decision maker. But they can provide any answer you want with just a few tweaks one way or the other.
As in any other situation, ask yourself who benefits from having a large portion of the citizenry in a state of near panic over this virus?
Let’s hope it doesn’t take another world war to work our way out of this economic hole.
Well, that’s the way I see it.