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Author Topic:   Broken Government - John W. Dean
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Message 1 of 3 (582672)
09-22-2010 6:23 PM

Dean carefully traces the development of [the] fundamental failures of the political system, from Nixon's imperial presidency through Reagan's popular disparagement of government to the doctrines that have reached their fullest expression in the administration of George W. Bush, a presidency that growing numbers of scholars have already begun to assess as one of the worstif not the worstin the nation's history. The reasons for that harsh judgment, and for the shameful state of our civic order, are methodically analyzed in this book: secrecy where there should be transparency, corruption where there should be accountability, self-interest where there should be public advocacy. All these symptoms can be traced, Dean believes, to a breakdown in the processes of government: the time-tested, regulating, and organizing principles that have dependably served our nation until they were trumped by politics. when those processes are abused or ignored, it causes breaks in the bedrock of our democracy.
What can the concerned citizen do to return America to its true legacy? His answers are practical, inspiring, and a foundation for a responsible future.
(Front and back inner flaps of book jacket)1,2

I am right now in the appendices. As someone with limited previous knowledge on political events, I was quite upset (but not surprised) at much of what I read about the antics of current Republicans. I was considering starting a slew of threads to look at different issues raised in the book, but I figure just one thread on the whole thing might do better for organizational purposes.

There are two things I thought might be particularly worth discussing:

1) The idea that too many Americans prefer "unseen governmental processes":

I would say at least a third [of the American people] are stealth democrats at heart but that is more impressionistic than based on a particular survey item or items. (John Hibbing, quoted on p. 188)

2) The use of the word "war" to describe terrorist activities:

[Bruce] Ackerman rejected the "war on terror" label. Ackerman's reasoning is quite compelling: He demonstrated how labeling terrorism as a war confuses the public in a manner that makes it too easy for a president to engage in additional wars. (p. 230)
[Philip] Heymann wrote, "Although these traditional characteristics of the term 'war' do not fit comfortably with its use to describe the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, that does not preclude stretching the concept if that has desirable consequences." While he explained how the term can be stretched, he believes that doing so is "dangerous in the longer run."
(p. 2323)
The very term ["war"] suggests a primacy for military force; that's what war has always been about. The military is the group to whom we have generally turned in situations of grave danger from hostile forces. In that sense, we may be captives of the dictum that "to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail."
(Philip Heymann, quoted on p. 233)

I'd like to see what sort of a discussion we can make on these points in relation to our own views and information and in relation to their handling by the author. I'm eager to learn more on this!

1 Dean, J. (2007) Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches. New York: Viking Penguin.
2 On Amazon.com

Edited by Jon, : typo

Love your enemies!
Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by Phat, posted 09-24-2010 5:37 PM Jon has responded

Posts: 10805
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
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Message 2 of 3 (583119)
09-24-2010 5:37 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Jon
09-22-2010 6:23 PM

Of course its all a war. A war to protect our money and interests. We may have no honor, but we are smart enough to fight rather than simply die.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Jon, posted 09-22-2010 6:23 PM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by Jon, posted 09-26-2010 4:12 PM Phat has not yet responded

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Message 3 of 3 (583372)
09-26-2010 4:12 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by Phat
09-24-2010 5:37 PM

Re: Obvious
we are smart enough to fight rather than simply die.

Why are these the only two options?

"Can we say the chair on the cat, for example? Or the basket in the person? No, we can't..." - Harriet J. Ottenheimer

"Dim bulbs save on energy..." - jar

This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by Phat, posted 09-24-2010 5:37 PM Phat has not yet responded

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