We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us!

One of my recent posts at Bring It On garnered plenty of comments action, even though it was merely a short blurb. The little-reported story - which broke the same day as the London bomb plot was revealed - detailed Bush administration attempts to yank $6 million dollars earmarked for developing bomb detection technology from the Homeland Security department.

I intended the post to demonstrate how disingenuous the Bush administration can sometimes be - a view the story confirms is shared by "lawmakers and some of the department's own experts". In my mind, Bush's attempt to block this funding was a demonstration of how style trumps substance all too often in the current White House. The administration has told us repeatedly for the past five years that everything is hunky dory and the world is much, much safer thanks to his practical and heroic actions against what he's taken to calling "Islamic fascists". The point was not the relatively small amount involved nor whether I thought the $6 million would be the end all to the problem.

And, it certainly wasn't about any of the subjects that eventually crept into the discussion thread.

The comments on the post - 24 and counting as I write this - were a little surprising to me, although I suppose they shouldn't have been. A flame war erupted when one commenter suggested the $6 million was a drop in the bucket and went on to charge that more than that amount was wasted in "office supply theft by union government employees".

Somehow, the subject had taken a sudden right turn into paper clip theft by unionized government employees. I was a bit confused as to how a discussion thread on bomb detection technology turned that corner. I was even more surprised when the commenter then went on connect the funding question and union employee theft to government-run health care.

I thought, as Mr. Bush is so fond of saying, "we've turned another corner" - apparently one which leads to subjects not even being discussed.

The comments continued - becoming more vitriolic with each post - and began incorporating plenty of other topics having nothing to do with the original - budget surpluses, the methods the would-be bombers were going to use, whether the government is as efficient as the private sector, economic theory, and plenty of discussion about who was an idiot, stupid, fuckwit, troll, lunatic left-wing fringe nut, pompous bag of hot air, and stupid.

By the end, I thought "stupid" was almost quaint given the context of the discourse.

So let me make the point to this post abundantly clear. Passion about these topics is a good thing. It is the oil that keeps the cogs of a democracy running. It has a place and in some cases, can do a world of good.

It's one thing for a bunch of amateur pundits - and I include myself in that description - to sit around calling one another idiots, it's quite another for the politicians we elected to do the same thing. Many times they demonstrate the same inability to stay focused on a topic as this discussion thread showed. You start out talking about bomb detection technology and end up in an insult-laden, circular discussion about health care with the result that the country ends up neither safe nor with viable health care.

As I stand back and look at the mess our country has become I can't help but borrow a line from the old Pogo comic strip, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Bring it On!

The Poobah also appears at Bring it On!

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, August 15, 2006

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