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Three score and ten or more

Thursday, May 29, 2008


These are not personal things or things about my family, and I am trying hard not to get into politics, but for a thinking person, this has been a hard week.

I have taught rhetoric for years, and much that deals with rhetoric has to do with motive and with ethos or character as perceived. Psychologists have, for years, dealt with motive in the analysis of action, and from Mazlow up and down the line one of the chief motivations for action has been the ethos of the speaker, and the way that the proposition advocated would improve the sense of honor and well being of the audience. (This is why, sometimes, that giving a reward - plaque, trophy- for actions is sometimes more effective than giving such an obvious thing as money. The recipient of money will be joyful, but he/she will run out an spend the money, but the trophy or T-shirt that was awarded for an act will sit on the mantle or hang one the wall for years.) We all (well, maybe not bank robbers or thrill killers) like to think of ourselves as "good" or "honorable". The title "honorable" makes folks accept what we say more quickly (though it can be used against us. For those who read Shakespeare, think of Mark Antony's funeral oration and the use HE makes of the phrase "and Brutus is an 'honorable' man.")

Regardless we make excuses, sometimes tell lies, sometimes work very hard in difficult situations, or participate in "run -walk for life" events just to make us feel better about ourselves (and sometimes make others feel better about us).

With all this in mind, think about Scott McClellan. Thing about the lies he must tell himself each day to convince himself that Scott McClellan is an honorable man. Look at the pain in his face as he is interviewed on TV that reveals that he no longer really thinks of himself as an honorable man. I don't know if he has a wife or children but imagine what he must say to them to try to maintain the fiction that Scott is an honorable man. It is a little sad.

It reminds one a little of Peter as he repeated near the trial of Jesus "I never knew the man", and the horror he felt as he ultimately realized what he had done. Let us hope that, like Peter, there will be some other acts of valor and honor on the part of Mr. McClellan to overcome that horror, and that the realization of the failure of personal honor will not affect Scott as it did that "other apostle" who went out and destroyed himself.

Off that subject and on to my other pet peeve, bureaucracy and bureaucrats and the ultimate CYA that motivates them all.

There is a Sergeant in the U.S. Army who was stationed at Ft. Stewart in Hinesville, Ga. who retired from the military in February, but has not yet received a penny of his 2000 plus dollars to which he is entitled due to retirement. I wanted to put a link to the article in last Tuesday's Savannah Morning News which explored this situation, but my computer ineptitude seems to have made it impossible. Any of you good souls who can access that article, read it. If you have a heart, it will tear. If you have a temper, you may be a little profane.

It seems that he started to retire a couple of years ago but was not able to do so because of the military stop-loss program, and the dipstick bureaucrats who deal with military pay can't seem to get the almost retirement and the real retirement tied together.

I was interested that military pay people who should take care of this have even ignored the angry voice of Congressman Jack Kingston who is on the committee that deals with military finance.

I don't know of many bureaucrats, anywhere, in government, in education, in churches of all types, who shouldn't occasionally receive a brain enema (if there could be such a thing) that would blow out the need to create paperwork to justify existence, the millions of stored excuses that justify incompetence, and the generally superior attitude that seems (to them) to justify their silly existence.


At 11:29 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I've been trying for months now to remember the name of the Italian philosopher who said: "Communism is not the greatest danger. Bureaucratism is."

After the Federal gov, the military is the worst bureaucracy.

McClellan is married but does not have kids. I'm about to do a post about him being a closet queer.

At 9:16 AM, Blogger Gayle said...

I was going to tell you about McClellan's marital status but Patrick beat me to it.

Hannity fairly shouted on Hannity's America yesterday: "THE GOVERNMENT'S JOB IS TO PROTECT US AND LEAVE US ALONE!" Amen!

At 5:29 AM, Blogger Norma said...

No, Patrick, the Communists just took bureaucracy to new and loftier heights. Lots of bureaucracies are quite benign; communism/marxism never is.


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