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October 20, 2008
The System of the World (Sidebar)By Greyhawk
Should John McCain lose the election "economic issues" will definitely (and rightfully) bear much of the "blame". (Though there will be plenty of "blame" to go around.) Oddly enough - and perhaps maddeningly frustrating to the McCain campaign - this will be so in spite of the fact that McCain's position was fundamentally correct (I'm not talking nth details here). And just as (if not more so) with his position on Iraq (and a thousand smaller issues) his main problem wasn't the fierce opposition from across the aisle, it was from within his own Party.
I'm a believer in free markets and small governments. But that can't be taken to a point of absurdity; a do-nothing government that stands in silent witness to economic collapse will in turn collapse shortly thereafter. Thus the questions on our current situation boil down to
"How close were we to economic collapse a few short weeks ago?"
"On what scale?"
"How fast did/do we need to act?"
and "how close are we to collapse now?"
The answers to questions one, three, and four are "very". The answer to question two is "global". My answers come from my own research over the past several weeks, in which I've attempted to draw as much as possible from material published "pre-crisis" to avoid as much post-mortem spin as possible. I'll be sharing what I've found in this ongoing series, and you can draw your own conclusions from that. But one undeniable conclusion is that no one who hadn't done some amount of research could provide a quick answer to what was going on.
And anyone who had blind faith in the market to correct itself was dangerously wrong. But that was the knee-jerk reaction from a lot of talk radio (and other) pundits, who were dismayed (if not surprised) to discover John McCain didn't share their views. It may be that McCain should have followed the Obama example and kept his hands clean on the whole affair, and simply offered encouragement and assurance from the sidelines while those in the trenches praised his leadership and connectedness. But with a sizable percentage of Republicans (but not John McCain) wrongly convinced that "nothing" was exactly what congress should do, that option was perhaps perceived as off the table.
If it isn't obvious, I parted ways with many Republicans on the answer to question three above. If you were convinced - as I was - that the answer is "very" then you also must accept - as I did - that the solution will be far from perfect, involve much compromise and shifting of positions, and utlimately require additional solutions. (And if you're cynical as I am, you'd expect it to be loaded with previously unobtainable pork.) It was all that. The Democrats scored mightily in keeping their presidential candidate "above the fray" (even if in congress there really wasn't much of one after all). Republicans shot themselves in the foot (if not the head) by rapidly demanding exactly where their candidate should lead them. (Though McCain's initial claim that "the fundamentals of our economy are sound" may have been perceived as a rally point that moved drastically upon their arrival.)
What's done is done, what remains to be seen is whether those dirty hands are actually perceived as a plus or minus in the eyes of voters. After election night - even though the current conventional wisdom is that there is "much blame to go around" on the current crisis and no time now for finger pointing (beyond blaming "greed") - it will be decided exactly who will bear that blame (and personify "greed"). Unless one believes in "statesmanship" one shouldn't expect the designated deciders to accept their fair share. Likewise, unless one believes in freedom of the press one shouldn't expect much help from that quarter. So it may turn out that blame falls squarely on only a few.
Posted by Greyhawk / October 20, 2008 12:18 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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