flASHback: Place your bets

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November 13th, 2009 :: Permalink

Aloha ~
Mahalo for the comments from BobMob and Pat ... since we've had interesting debates on David's blog recently about our mission in Afghanistan, I invited an Afghan-American leader to dinner last weekend. I summarized some of the comments from our discussions and asked, "What do the Afghan people want?"

My friend reflected and said, "You know, after 8 years of engagement, the Afghan people remain unclear about one thing: is America in Afghanistan as an occupying power or as our friend?"

I was stunned. I picked my teefus from the floor and said, "My brother, you know me ... what do you believe I want for Afghanistan?" Khan replied, "Yes, my brother, I do know you and know what you want but you are not your government. Afghans still do not trust the policies of Washington."

Eight years of sacrifice ... countless billions of taxpayer dollars and unacceptable loss of American blood ... and still today we are unable to convince Afghans of our intent.

It's time to come home ...


Aloha WooWoo821 ~
Mahalo for the charts. You asked if I could reconcile these seemingly paradoxical findings. They make sense when one considers that survey respondents are expressing their views about Congress as a whole. If one asks respondents their views about their particular representative or senator, we would see a closer relationship to the re-election results.

On a particular policy issue my senator or representative may vote as I prefer, thus earning my future support, while the Congress as a body may vote against my position thus earning my contempt.

I'm not a fan of term limits per se. The political science literature suggests term limits simply open the door to greater manipulation of the system by career bureaucrats, powerful lobbyists and special interest groups.

The longer an elected official remains in office the better equipped s/he is to fend off these "professional and career" advocates. We don't vote for these individuals thus I prefer to neutralize them as much as possible.

We all get frustrated by democracy ... yet as we have discussed democracy is characterized by compromise. You want Plan A; I want Plan B; yet after we beat the issue through our legislative process, Plan C emerges.

Nobody truly wanted this option. Thus you might feel cheated; I might feel cheated; and we can easily fall prey to cynicism and alienation.

An enlightened citizenry therefore must understand the limitations of participatory government. It is better to get a little of what one wants than nothing at all. And getting some of what we want tends to keep us seated at the public table rather than seeking more violent or less civil means to resolve conflict.

Outside our civil war we have done a pretty reasonable job finding suitable compromise to our challenges. Although I didn't get what I wanted from Election 2000 I was ultimately impressed that nobody threw a punch or shot somebody during the chaos and confusion. Few nations in the world can make this boast. We saw what happened in Iran, as Neta's death will be immortalized in their culture.

With all the craziness we see and frustration we feel ... I'm going to be the corny one who flies the flag high this fine Friday and says, "Three cheers for the Red, White and Blue ..."

We're not a perfect union but thankfully we have the opportunity to participate in continuing to perfect this experiment. Now if David will just get busy over the weekend, I'm sure he can have all the loose ends tied up by Monday's column.