Mark Around the World — Oct. 18, 2013
Note from Dan: My longtime pal, who has posted lots of his thoughts here, has been mostly silent of late. But after the recent D.C. showdown, he issued the broadside below.
Don’t get caught up in the U.S. 24-7 mass media news cycle hysteria. The stand-off in Washington shocks me at how grossly incompetent both parties are. As a student of political history, I just don’t think there has ever before been a period where both sides are so clueless at lawmaking.
The media is pointing out the foolishness of the Republicans, but they seem to be ignoring the fact that Obama / Pelosi / Reid are just as incompetent while being nastier and more spiteful. Some liberals are celebrating that Obama succeeded in poking the loser Republicans in the eye. What a big-picture visionary achievement. Great . . . and a bird crapped on my car this morning. Besides poking fools in the eye who sit across the aisle, I think that’s about the only thing Obama will succeed in doing in his presidency, post Obamacare passage.
The whole Beltway scene is rotten and eroding the country.
A big macro problem is that the U.S. mass media has figured out that the best way to keep news ratings up is to turn politics and government into a professional sport, where there are only two teams, Republicans and Democrats. Americans love to pick their favorite team and then to loyally root for them no matter what. And so registered Democrats will never call Team Obama/Reid/Pelosi a bunch of losers, and likewise registered Republicans will continue to support their team even if its led by weirdos like Cruz / Palin / McCain.
I really don’t know what the solution to it is, but the evolution of news media is one of the keys to the root cause. Interestingly, our founding fathers thought long and hard how to avoid direct elections because they were afraid the masses are too easy to manipulate and too ignorant to make informed decisions. The new 24-7 mass media news industry is here to stay and it only magnifies the concern the Founding Fathers had 225 years ago.
Another macro-problem is that we are steadily giving away the dollar’s world-reserve-currency-position, which for the U.S. is akin to having 5 aces up its sleeve (I wrote a column about this subject last year). It won’t happen overnight and there will be no before/after moment, but it’s a process that’s begun and I don’t see any changes that could stop it before it becomes irreversible. Ten to 20 years from now we will realize that it has happened and American leaders will be calling it a tragedy the same way that these days Putin calls the demise of the Soviet Union a tragedy for Russia.
Shakespeare famously wrote “Let’s kill all the lawyers” in Henry VI. There is an opportunity here for a Broadway hit by tweaking the story and referring to “lawmakers” instead.