Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Conventional Wisdom and Its Ramifications

Conventional Wisdom Canonizes Mediocrity, Glorifies Incompetence

One might argue: Why get so annoyed?

Tough work to pursue, tougher still unemployed

What with inflation going up by the hour

'Tis no simple mission to get worth for your dollar.


Well, then, it is obvious, there isn't any choice;

Methinks it takes genius, takes cunning otherwise;

Some take the drudgery, all day, nine to five,

Mischief and trickery, nay, sin to survive!

        --A Worker's Lament

It has been commonly said (and betimes accepted as gospel) that the most hackneyed cliché embodies the essence of the distilled wisdom of the ages. A plausible argument can be made that the stubborn tenacity of a cliché transitions the practice of traditional therefore casual adherence to common sense into a timeless enshrinement of any aphorism or ritual in the hallowed pantheons of conventional wisdom, as originally coined by John Kenneth Galbraith of The Affluent Society fame. There may not be any specific GPS coordinates to locate that pantheon. But no less a luminary than the New York Times resident economist Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman had alluded to both its power and preponderance.


Conventional wisdom had it that the bureaucratization of national security would produce both efficiency and effectiveness. Thus when the Jamie Gorelick "Wall of Separation" was blamed for the breakdown of intelligence sharing amongst the various agencies which could have conceivably prevented the disaster of 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security was born. This was nothing more than a superimposition of another layer of bureaucracy upon an already dysfunctional mosaic of quasi-autonomous bureaus. DHS begot the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as one of its primary tentacles of implementation.


Since then the TSA's modus operandi had been primarily characterized by an effort to catch up with and prevent or contain the further deployment of the terrorists' latest weapons of attack as revealed by the last failed attempt gratuitously foiled by the perpetrators' bungling incompetence. Lest I be misunderstood, it behooves to emphasize that I have nothing but respect and awe for the individuals who devote themselves to the service of their community and country in these agencies. I however contend that the barren rigidity brought about by bureaucratization corrodes the human dignity which is intrinsic in every human soul. Hence the various personages in these agencies devolve, in varying degrees, from being decent caring human beings into senseless and meticulously rules-driven insensitive therefore nonsensical bureaucrats.


This unintended consequence makes the TSA perpetually one step behind every aspiring terrorist. How does that exactly make the travelling public safer, is anybody's "suspension of disbelief," as more recently famously formulated with her avowed "willingness," by then New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton respecting General Petraeus' progress report on Iraq. Only a bureaucracy can seriously propose that profiling the various trinkets and array of gadgetry that the Jihadists had thus far deployed is a viable method to engineer effective counter measures to neutralize the threat of terrorism. Human beings with a modicum of common sense would propose to profile both the people and the modus operandi of the enemy as essential to the task of architecting an effective strategic counter measure to prevail over the enemy and ensure victory.


When the TSA institutionalized full body scans or a more thoroughly intrusive pat downs, as the latest fail-safe counter-terrorism preventive measure, the air travel public collectively sought solace in the mantra "better safe than sorry," and willingly if begrudgingly adapted to the new security regimen as a way of life. Thus a new equilibrium of civil decency has been inducted and canonized, fait accompli, into the pantheons of conventional wisdom by bureaucracy.


The path of least resistance still remains ever reliable as the overriding determinant to the evolutionary trajectory of the equilibrium of the universe. Alas, to our collective misfortune the truism encompasses societal attitudes and their compelling attendant consequences. Thus the seductive inertia of "Being There" canonizes acceptance of the status quo as the latest variant of conventional wisdom that warrants the perpetuation of the catatonic bliss of ignorance and apathy. It conveniently eluded the national consciousness that the new intensive TSA pat downs had nothing to do with security. Rather it had been a subtle probe into how much government intrusiveness can the public tolerate without being incited into an open rebellion.


It was precisely in this context that the "Revolt of the Masses," as unmistakably evinced by the last midterm elections, assume its full measure of historical significance. The institutionalization of incompetence as most fragrantly showcased by President Obama when he nonchalantly turned over the Presidential lectern to ex-President William Jefferson Clinton, encapsulated the new mindset that would most certainly crystallize in all its grotesque splendor as conventional wisdom for the Obama paradigm of governance, and its repugnant implications.


So it came to pass that the Republicans after winning an electoral mandate conceded a $313 billion in superfluous spending to buy a two-year lease on life of the Bush era tax cuts. It used to be a nugget of conventional wisdom that when and where any policy benefited the national polity, such policy should be worth keeping in perpetuity until such time as the benefit would be negated by a changed configuration of reality. But political spin works magic on the delusional conscience of professional politicians. For reasons only they are biologically equipped to comprehend, every policy that has been deemed and proved to be beneficial to all has to contain a sunset provision.


It seems to be the karma of Republicanism to maintain a congenital deficiency in the DNA that supports a backbone and a commensurate abundance of the DNA that compellingly urges to compromise whatever priceless evanescent vestiges of political capital and personal dignity one may have heroically salvaged, and wallow in the delicious agony of defeat on the intoxicating lap of victory. The latest manifestation of this phenomenon was the 71-26 grotesque ratification of the New START treaty, despite this terse condemnation by Sen. John Cornyn (R- Texas):

"I fear that the New START treaty will serve as another data in a narrative of weakness, pursuing diplomacy for its own sake or indulging in a utopian dream of a world without nuclear weapons divorced from hard reality."

Republicans just seem to be congenitally incapable of resisting the penchant to self-destruct without any prodding, or incentive of a prima facie political gain. Their urges to compromise seem as irresistible as the pre-pubescent initial awakenings of the libidinal hormones of adolescence.


The celebration of incompetence ever so vainly camouflaged by political spin as the hallmark of sophistication and pizzaz, lends the aura of credibility to a gullible nation, a prima facie façade of due diligence at promoting the national well being. The jury is still out whether the Bill Clinton deployment to the press briefing on the Bush era tax cut compromise would prove to be a stroke of genius for President Obama's political comeback or the moral equivalent of a political hara-kiri, as laid out by Peggy Nonan:

The president must have thought that distancing himself from left and right would make him more attractive to the center. But you get credit for going to the center only if you say the centrist position you've just embraced is right. If you suggest, as the president did, that the seemingly moderate plan you agreed to is awful and you'll try to rescind it in two years, you won't leave the center thinking, "He's our guy!" You'll leave them thinking, "Note to self: Remove Obama in two years."


It all depends on how forthrightly and how much backbone the new breed of Republicans can muster to give the country the overdue wake-up call thereby enabling them to wrestle the helms of power to restore the country on the right track, after two years of the Obama regime's conspiratorially unadulterated reckless plunder of the national soul, on the promise of a
vaingloriously vacuous transformational post partisan national well-being. In the spirit of the Christmas season, when charity behooves to be the order of the day, I grant the Republicans the benefit of the doubt, and just hope that they shall see for the coming New Year the guiding light to gain prudence in all their political decisions.


For everybody else, regardless of political inclinations, goals, and prejudices, I send the following recycled wishful sentiments for the season from my family and myself:


                Seasons' Greetings

            Often the truth we sadly miss

            As we see only what we know.

            Nor each occasion could reveal

            The gravity of what we feel,

            On things we dare and dare not do.

            Yet, though in vain, let me express

            One simple thought, one sincere wish:

            That may with love and peaceful bliss

            Replete you find the Holidays!


            And may the seasons thereafter

            Be seasoned with mirth and laughter.

            The rare occasioned somber sky

            May not but serve to amplify

            The happiness of days gone by,

            And glories of unyielding prime,

            And promises of days that lie

            Uncharted in the blue abyss

            And daunting vagaries of Time!


            May each grief find sweet redress;

            Alien to fears, much less to tears,

            May triumphs and exploits increase,

            All through the fast succeeding years!


            Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year!!