Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Three Horsemen And The Three Stooges

December 22, 2004

Re: The Three Horsemen And The Three Stooges.
From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
VelvelOnNationalAffairs.blogspot.com

Dear Colleagues:

A major goal of this blog, as readers know, is to discuss three prevalent phenomena which, individually and collectively, are playing hob with America. The three phenomena are lack of concern for truth (including the widespread secrecy and nondisclosure which deliberately hide truth from us), incompetence, and failure to have any concern for others. Change these all-encompassing three horsemen, and the improvement in the country would be dramatic. At least that’s one person’s idea.

Holding this view, this author thought to write a post detailing examples of these phenomena from the news and opinion columns of a single day’s newspapers, in this case the papers of Tuesday, December 21st. In a way, of course, noting some of the dishonesty, incompetence and secrecy contained in the news and opinion columns in one day’s newspaper is cheap and easy pickings, since so much in every day’s newspapers is comprised of these things. Yet, it also seems true, at least to one person, that it is not often recognized that the same three phenomena are the common root of so much that otherwise seems disparate. Perhaps if one were to constantly show the common root, people would begin to wise up as to what is fundamentally wrong in this country. So let’s cursorily list just some of the examples of the three horsemen in Tuesday’s papers.

1. There was discussion in a column of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s previously disclosed purchase of precious stringed instruments for $18 million. The essence of the discussion is that, although the orchestra apparently lucked out and got a good deal anyway (although this is not yet absolutely certain, I gather), its Board of Trustees failed to get pertinent crucial information from management, which gave it "scant details." Such Board and management failures were said to be symptomatic of non profits, as shown by prior scandals at the United Way and the Red Cross. The bottom line? Two horsemen: incompetence and, on the part of management, dishonesty through nondisclosure.

2. There was disclosure of memos detailing more torture in Iraq and at Guantanamo. The torture included putting lighted cigarettes in prisoners’ ears, beating and choking them, and leaving them chained in fetal (and I guess other) positions for 18 to 24 hours (or more) while they urinated and defecated on themselves. The memos disclosing this further showed that torture was known to many high Washington officials, and were further refutation of prior government bovine defecation saying torture was the rogue misconduct of a few low level types.
The bottom line in terms of the three horsemen: once again secrecy had been used to hide horrible misconduct.

3. During a security drill at the Oak Ridge facility that stores our highly enriched uranium -- the kind, one gathers, that we don’t want Iran to have lest it make atomic bombs -- a team of guards went looking for another group of guards in order to shoot them. This occurred because of a massive screw up in a security drill, a screw up which caused the "killer guards" to think the others were actual invaders, not a mock invasion group. It was further revealed that there have been other major security screw ups at the Oak Ridge plant. And this at a plant where, it was written, "A suicidal terrorist who gained access to the uranium here might be able to assemble it in a few minutes into a nuclear explosive, and detonate it on the spot, experts say." (Emphases added.) Bottom line? Gross incompetence.

4. There was discussion of the fact that a major immigrant-registration program created by the Department of Justice after 9/11, a program which apparently registered scores of thousands of people, resulted in catching exactly no terrorists. (Some officials claim it resulted in the arrest of six people linked to terrorism, but this is challenged by such as the September 11th Commission, and it seems to be admitted that no registrants were charged with crimes relating to terrorism.) But while catching no terrorists, the registration program alienated immigrants who otherwise might have been helpful to us in catching terrorists, alienated other countries, and now has to be defended, in regard to terrorists, by various 2004 equivalents of the bootless 1960s "battle cry" of McNamara and his ilk during Viet Nam: "We’re making it harder for them." Bottom line: Incompetence.

5. Apparently because of "territorial" claims, i.e., claims to power and fiefdoms, Congress refuses to restructure itself in a manner that would enable it to effectively oversee the intelligence community. Instead it wishes to continue the long existing structure of fiefdoms which is described as "dysfunctional." This is thought to threaten our security. Bottom line? Incompetence and a form of not caring about others, in this case not caring about the security of our citizens.

6. There was discussion, sparked by the Vioxx and Celebrex fiascos, of how it is that dangerous drugs have gotten onto the market. This comes down to such things as the weakness of the FDA, panels of the FDA being "larded with scientists tied to private companies," FDA reliance on pharmaceutical companies to finance FDA activities, company financing of continuing medical education courses, and companies themselves, not the FDA, are the primary monitor of the post-approval safety of their own drugs. Bottom line: Incompetence, lack of truth, and not caring about others.

7. George Bush announced that Winnetka Don Rumsfeld (alias The Humvee Kid), who had letters of condolences to the families of his slain troops signed with a mechanical device instead of signing them himself, has done a fine job and is filled with anguish over the casualties and grief caused by the war. Need more be said before one gets the point here? Bottom line? Lying, incompetence, and no concern for others.

That is just some of one day’s news, just some of the stories that have as a common root our daily American fare of lack of truth, lack of competence, and lack of concern for others. But I cannot resist mentioning one more "story" so to speak. This week’s Time has a spread that it calls The Best Pictures Of The Year. One two-page picture is of Bush at his ranch in Texas with Cheney on his right (the viewer’s left) and Rumsfeld on his left (the viewer’s right). The picture is called Three Amigos. One wonders: why isn’t it given its more appropriate name, The Three Stooges? Or maybe Curly, Moe and Larry. Or, to indicate their deeply perceptive natures, maybe even "Curly, Moe and Larry, At Texas Ranch, Claim That They Are In Middle Of Rocky Mountains." Or maybe Curly, Moe and Larry Puzzled By Disappearance Of Shemp.*

*If you wish to respond to this email/blog, please email your response to me at velvel@mslaw.edu. Your response may be posted on the blog if you have no objection; please tell me if you do object.

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