Monday, August 28, 2006

What Do I Know From Politics?

For the last 4 years or so I have been employed by a software firm, and have not made a secret of my political views. I am in the conservative suburbs of Atlanta, so my left-leaning moderation is considered Marxist by their standards. Over time they have gotten used to me, and sometimes as a sport they even try to goad me into a debate. Upon reflection, I have decided that this was a mistake. I don’t want to be anyone’s token liberal or office entertainment.

I start my new job next week. No more software development. I am going back into training. I have made the decision to remove the “No W” and peace-sign stickers from my rear bumper, and to never discuss my political or religious views with anyone at the new company. There quite simply is no ROI. I mentioned this to some of my friends here at the old place. They are betting against me. It is bet they will lose. I quit cigarettes cold turkey after being a 2_pack_a_day smoker. Never had another one. That was 20 years ago. They have no idea with whom they are dealing...

What do I know from politics?” That will be my new catch-phrase.

“Who are you voting for Governor?

“What do I know from politics?” Innocent grin.

“When should we leave Iraq?”

“Politics? What do I know from politics?” Bemused frown.


You get the idea. I really like the “from,” don’t you? It has a certain anti-intellectual connotation to it.

I am actually looking forward to it. It will be my own inside joke. And, it won't be that far from the truth.

A few months before the ‘04 election, the main water line to the house sprang a leak. The plumbers called in a leak-detection expert to find the problem. They showed up with a jack-hammer and were looking forward to busting up the ground-floor. Fortunately, the leak-detection expert was a kind and decent sort, and he told them the leak was probably 6 inches into the house and to dig under the house from the outside to find it. One of them was visibly annoyed, and none-too-swift because there was no way I was going to give them the work after that. The expert was correct and in the end saved us thousands of dollars. We hired another plumber.

I’m the sort of person who can easily strike up a conversation with total strangers. As we were waiting for the plumbers to find the leak, he mentioned to me that he was ex-NSA. I remember thinking, “A spy? This is going to be interesting!”


He told me he “gathered data.” He said the data was piecemeal and meaningless out of context. They turned it over to the analysts and never knew the outcome of their work. I found it ironic and amusing that after retirement he became a “leak detector” – he confessed that he'd never really thought of it that way.

At the time I was pretty fired up about the presidential election. John Kerry was not my first choice, but he was the nominee and I was trying to accept it. I asked my new friend what his views were on the war in Iraq and the election, already planning on hammering anyone who still supported Bush by saying, “Listen. I spoke to an ex-NSA guy. He said…"

He was reticent and non-committal. I pressed on, telling him that I was genuinely interested and would very much like to hear his perspective.

He said, (obviously paraphrased from memory:)

“You want me to choose between two people who would sell their own mothers without a moment’s reflection if it served their purposes? They both suck. Neither one of them give a rat’s ass about how many people die as a result of their decisions. They are both worthless human beings who care for no one but themselves. If they did, they wouldn’t be running for president today. They would have been weeded out long before they got to this point. You want me to give you an opinion on the war in Iraq? I tell you I can’t do that. Nobody knows why we’re in Iraq except for them. When the government decides we need to go to war, they never reveal the real reasons. Should we be in Iraq? How the hell do I know? I know do know this: We aren’t there to free the Iraqi people nor are we there to protect Americans.”

I think he should have a blog.

***

Articles of note:

Where Bush's Arrogance Has Taken Us
By Jim Hightower

The Language of Ignorance
By Sam Harris

Don't forget This Week's Top 10.

6 Comments:

Blogger Soundsurfr said...

I saw a bumper sticker a while back that said: "All wars are based on lies". I've never been able to refute it or get it out of my head since then.

But what do I know from politics?

12:03 PM  
Blogger Jeremy Cherfas said...

I really like the “from,” don’t you? It has a certain anti-intellectual connotation to it.

Au contraire, my dear Viscount. It has a certain Jewish connotation to it, and we all know what intellectuals Jews are, real or mistaken.

6:28 AM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

Au contraire, my dear Viscount. It has a certain Jewish connotation to it, and we all know what intellectuals Jews are, real or mistaken.

Even better!

rfzxsszl - Yiddish for "What do I know from...?"

10:14 AM  
Blogger roxtar said...

Jeremy beat me to it. "Too Jewish," as Mel Brooks might say. Since you'll be travelling, your challenge is to regionalize you disavowal of political knowledge. Some possibilities:

New England: "Ayup, don't traffic too much in politics."

Chicago: "I don't follow politics too much since my Uncle Stosh was indicted."

Florida: "Screw politics. Let's go to Hooters!"

West Virginia: "My vote's available for a pint of Old Grand-dad."

But when you get to Texas, you gotta let 'em have it with both barrels.

kosbya - liberal campfire song

6:13 PM  
Blogger Kevin Wolf said...

That leak detector guy should run for president.

I like the new tag line, but after your day at work please remember to come back and say what you want on your blog.

8:51 AM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

I like the new tag line, but after your day at work please remember to come back and say what you want on your blog.

Oh yeah, we are staying open for business. In fact, I expect some new life is going to be injected as I will be on the road a lot and will have more time to write.

9:01 AM  

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