Saturday, September 22, 2007

Book Tours and Our National Security

Feds gather Americans' travel records read the headline this morning. Right down to the books we carry on board. Homeland Security has imposed itself into our lives to a ridiculous extent - even noting the size bed you request when booking your hotel room. Not a candidate out there has yet had the courage to say enough, we've gone way overboard with all this in trying to determine who is actually a security threat. It has become one of life's absurdities we're forced to live with.

Another struck me and had me laughing to the point Hub threatened to have me committed. Here we are in a society where newspapers are floundering and students supposedly can't read at their grade level. On the other hand everyone and their pet dog (except mine) is writing a book! Go figure.

What interests me is the apparent requirement to appear on the Daily Show as part of the promotional tour. Just in the past couple of weeks Jon Stewart hosted both Alan Greenspan and former President Bill Clinton. Pretty impressive guest list for a show known for its satirical take on the news and sophomoric humor. It must be a requirement cooked up by the publishers who don't realize Stewart's audience is most unlikely to read a book by the likes of a Greenspan.

Often times, however, Stewart has read them. His questions are too penetrating to have come from staff notes. That's why I enjoy watching him. He also has the ability to cajole his sometimes stuffy guests into showing a human side.

Not that Bill Clinton has ever been accused of being stuffy, but in an interview segment that had nothing to do with his book, he came up with a most interesting theory as to why our government doesn't function as well as it should. Sleep deprivation. Yep. Goes to show they don't read a lot of these books or they'd get more sleep than they need, but that aside, his argument may be valid.

His contention is that, unlike the days of old when long distant transportation was more time consuming and less convenien, Congress actually stayed in Washington and got some work done. They also had off hours opportunity to get to know their colleagues and form relationships that often bridged the partisan gap. When they did go home to their districts they had time to enjoy their families and real time to visit with and listen to constituents.

In today's world they go home weekends, no matter where they live, working only a three day week in Washington. Combined with all the hearings that are held it's no wonder little legislation is finished! Who needs a budget anyway? It's more important to have hearings on a whacked out political organization that makes smear ads.

Even on longer breaks we rarely see our congressman. The last time I saw him, he was standing behind Senator Craig during his famous "I may or I may not resign" speech. The point, however, is that these people who make the laws by which we are forced to live, are so deprived of proper rest (and probably nourishment unless corn mash is considered such) they are cranky, thin skinned and haven't even coffee jittered patience to read through what legislation they do pass before voting on it.

It's a topsy turvy world for sure. Let's hear it for the book tours and do away with Homeland Security. Just listen to those who have been there and done that and hit the books!

By the way, think about how many former Generals have had books concerning the war on recent best seller lists! Listen up, you grunts! Read me?

1 comment:

Bill McCrory said...


For an interesting viewpoint on how elected officials use massive collective shocks - wars, terrorism, natural disasters - to push through legislation that would not have even otherwise been considered, read "The Shock Doctrine - The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" by Naomi Klein. Essentially, her point is that immediately following a massive collective shock (e.g., September 11, 2001) the public will for a short time be willing to accept just about any legislation that would otherwise have been far too intrusive or would have been laughed off as absurd.

As a companion to "Shock Doctrine", I'd also suggest reading Egil "Bud" Krogh's book "Integrity - Good People, Bad Choices and Life Lessons From the White House." His is a very personal anlaysis of just how easily otherwise sensible and intelligent people are led to follow and be seduced by the power of "Ladies and Gentlemen - The President of the United States". I emailed the president of NIC, suggesting that she read the book and then consider inviting Bud Krogh to be a guest speaker at Tinkertoy Tech. He's an attorney in Seattle now, and quite eager to talk to students to help them recognize and avoid the pitfalls of the seductive and corrosive power of political influence.