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October 02, 2007

The Brooklyn Dodgers Explain Everything?
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

Being born into Red Sox Nation myself, I was feeling Ilan's pain about the Mets, and delighted to see this Richard Cohen column which makes a nice link between what sports can teach us and what went wrong in Iraq:

Had Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and the rest been Dodgers fans they never would have counted on things going right in Iraq. They would have known that The Thing could happen. They would have known you could look at the plans, the way Charlie Dressen looked at his roster, and never see defeat staring you in the face. Defeat is like a two-way mirror. You cannot see it but it can see you. "The Giants is dead," Dressen famously, erroneously and ungrammatically had remarked. It was the "mission accomplished" of its time.

Note to Richard Cohen:  I'm still not reconciled to your irrational Hillary-hating.  But this was a great column.

Note to Don B. and friends:  loving sports doesn't mean one doesn't care about Darfur, Iraq, etc etc.  Everyone needs coping mechanisms to keep on keeping on in the face of all that's bad and uncontrollable in the world, and it's the wise people who find and make use of them, whether it's opera, sports, shooting small animals, yelling at your kids, whatever.


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Well of course you can like sports, Heather. But you should still answer my question about why on Earth you had to sign a non disclosure agreement to participate in that Clinton conference. Seems to me the rest of us have a right to know what went on there.

Mike M. is right. This sort of thing makes us Democrats look like hypocrites. When Republican fat cats get together with Dick Cheney to plan the world's energy future with no public record, it's a cabal. When Democratic fat cats get together with Bill Clinton to plan the next wave of globalization with no public record, it's "progressive."

Dan and Mike need to learn their place. They are not inspiring or historic, or warm and funny. They did not go to Yale Law, and they are not Bill Clinton's Wife -- which has nothing to do with why Mrs. Clinton is a Presidential candidate, or a Senator from New York for that matter.

Heather Hurlburt is merely a little ahead of the rest of us in recognizing that Bushes and Clintons as far as the eye can see are the best we can do in 21st Century America. She has accepted this, chosen her side, and waits now to take her place in the new order. Which will look a lot like the old order, and people had best get used to that also.

Ok, ok. There's an important distinction between government officials holding policy meetings and refusing even to divulge the attendees on the one hand, and something which is essentially a club of private entities (CGI) asking its staff and volunteers (me) not to disclose what they hear. I am frequently asked to sign non-disclosure agreements in my work with political, not-for-profit and for-profit entities of varied political stripes. It's endemic to a society in which information is both power and money. Which means that when private entities do things with private money -- as is the case with CGI -- we don't in fact have any kind of "right" to know what goes on. And the fundamental issues underlying THAT are much deeper, Zathras, than our dynastic politics. (I think they should let the media in more, because much of what gets said deserves wider airing, and if there are any secret cabals they never happen near me, but unless y'all elect me for president in a write-in vote my personal views on openness are kinda beside the point.)

Which means that when private entities do things with private money -- as is the case with CGI -- we don't in fact have any kind of "right" to know what goes on.

Yes, this sort of unaccountable power is the American Way alright. But apart from general concerns about the proper democratic regulation of private wealth, secrecy of this kind feeds into standard conspiracy theories: Bilderburg, Trilateralism, George Soros Taking Over The Universe, Freemasons, etc., as well as less extravagant worries about who is actually running things in this country, and which politicians owe what favors to which backers.

Well, Heather... one could certainly argue that as a former President and the husband of a Senator who might be President, who says or does what with Clinton's charitable initiatives IS something that the public has the right to know. Not to mention that there are a lot of folks basically auditioning for jobs in an HRC administation at these events. And CGI might be private but it's also tax exempt, right? So we're all subsidizing it to some extent (not that there's anything wrong with that, I just think it entitles us to more transparency). Beyond that, I want to know what the elites are saying and doing because they have more influence than the rest of us, often only by way of having more money.

Oh, I forgot to say 2 things.

1) Thanks for answering.

2) It's not like they're protecting trade secrets, are they? I gather you mostly agree with me but is there anything that goes on at something like CGI that would actually be undermined if the public knew about it? If so, how?

A relevant question is whether people conferring on behalf of a Presidential candidate in secret should be expected to behave any differently in the event their candidate wins, and they become public officials.

I imagine that in Sen. Clinton's case the answer will depend on whether she thinks it in her interests. Which, as I suggest and Ms. Hurlburt appears to confirm above, will be fine as far as those people of inferior connections and social standing who know their place are concerned. Why shouldn't what is good enough for Bangladesh be good enough for the United States of America?

For the record, I don't think ANY issues are deeper than our dynastic politics. They symbolize a level of decadence in the American body politic that is a greater threat to the democracy we have inherited than anything in the world today.

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