The trifecta scandals remind me of something Richard Ben Kramer once wrote

In his book (political bible), the late Richard Ben Kramer imparts many truths. One of which has come to my mind many times over the course of this past week as the media picks apart Benghazi, the IRS, and the DOJ/AP “scandals.” I put them in quotes because it depends who you talk to. Most people in my immediate circles apply them to the last two but definitely not the first, for example.

Regardless, I felt the need to remind those of you who may stumble across this blog of these words from “What It Takes.” While they were written about Reagan, Bush 41, and their involvement in the Iran-Contra, they work just as well today. After all, our big questions are still – on all of these three fronts – who knew what, when. He writes:

“Alas, it is the surest sign that official Washington remains a precultural swamp that it has not offered mankind any refinement of language to illuminate its own constant preoccupation, the basic activity of its single industry, the work of its days and the spice of its nights, which is knowing. There are, in the capital, a hundred different ways to know and be known; there are fine gradations of knowing, wherein the subtlest distinctions are enforced. But to discuss this art and passion, we have only the same bland flapjack of a verb that flops each day onto our plates, along with the morning paper: To Know.

About this preoccupation there can be no dispute: knowledge is power, and the capital is a city built on power, which means known and being known. But this is more than a business in Washington. It is life. Only in the bars of Capitol Hill will you hear a normal, healthy young woman responding to the blandishments of her handsome swain with the delighted, breathy question, “You know Kerrey?”…This is knowing in the sense of acquaintance, of connaissance, but this is only the most basic way To Know.

…Then there is the matter of being known, which can be more important than knowing. If a Washington man is well-known as a man in the know, then his knowing is seldom tested. In fact, it is fed daily by people who come to him to see what he thinks about what they know…As a result, he ends up knowing pretty much what everybody else knows, which is usually enough.

…Then there is another shade of the verb, To Know, in the sense of awareness. It is about what’s going on right now, and as such, is Washington’s highest branch of knowledge. Encyclopedia scientia on the theory, history, and practice of progressive taxation in America is nothing, less than nothing, compare to knowing (a week before the vote) Chairman Rostenkowski’s bottom line on depreciation of timber assets. One brand of knowing (scientia) earns a ratty office and a shared secretary at the Heritage Foundation. The other (awareness) bring power, money, fame…

But the highest form of capital-knowing, the quest for awareness is also the most dangerous. Clearly, the lack of this knowing can undermine reputation or power, especially if…one ought to know. To be unaware, to be Out of the Loop, is allied in the tribal consciousness with impotence, inability, imbecility…and ultimately with the fatal affliction of ridiculousness. But there is also, in success, in wide awareness, a danger just as mortal. For this is the brand of knowing that is closest to Eating from the Tree of Knowledge, and can result in expulsion from Eden. When things foul up in a massive way; when The Washington Post, like God, is angry; when Committee Chairmen vie for jurisdiction of the hearing that will make them well known as the scourge of evildoing; then this is the knowing implied in the most portentous of capital questions:

What did he know, and when did he know it?

And so, there has developed, in Washington, a kind of knowing without being known to know, for which there is no word at all. It is a nonoperational, untraceable knowing, which can seldom be proven or disproven. Indeed, its vaguely oriental essence can barely be expressed. It is yin-and-yang, knowing-not-knowing.”

Man. I feel pretty Steve Kornacki, right now.

The Joys of Excelling (or at least attempting to)

As the first hour of this 25th day of January approaches, I find myself mindlessly clicking, combing and scanning my screen for any scrap of potentially pertinent research information. Oh, Howard Tilton, you are just too packed with overly wordy information. And I don’t mean that in a praiseful way. I mean you are REALLY over saturated with information. I feel like I’m one of those poorly cast characters in a Bing! commercial.

And so why, at 9 minutes to 1 in the morning am I searching for anything related to media, communication, politics, rhetoric or any keyword that would bring up a profitable search? Well readers, Honors Thesis season is upon us. Well, at least in its preliminary and base level stages. And after a fruitless search for any loop hole in the Tulane system to graduate with Honors sans thesis, I’m resigned to the idea that this may just be a very long semester and one where my recently bought “ALL NIGHTER MUG” (complete with “sleep is for the weak” slogan) will be getting a lot of play. On the positive side, I’ve made great strides already – but I guess that’s inevitable when you go from having no topic at all to a now pretty good idea. I would follow this with something tacky and proverbial: Rome wasn’t built in a day or some shit but honestly, I’m not trying to build Rome. And in fact, anyone who has used that as a qualifying or comforting proverb is just lying to themselves because that phrase applies to no real life situation because no one is trying to rebuild Rome. Hmm, Rome…think I could create something thesis-y and meaningful out of that? It might require a trip back, ya know, for research purposes…I’m gonna have to think about this (again).

Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?

“Wizard: As for you, my galvanized friend, you want a heart. You don’t know how lucky you are not to have one. Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.
Scarecrow: But I still want one.”

-The Wizard of Oz, 1939

A short story: Le petit prince et le renard

Ainsi, le petit prince apprivoisa le renard. Et quand l’heure du départ fut proche:
-Ah! dit le renard…Je pleurerai.
—C’est ta faute, dit le petit prince, je ne te souhaitais point du mal, mais tu as voulu que je t’apprivoise…
-Bien sûr, dit le renard.
—Mais tu vas pleurer! dit le petit prince.
-Bien sûr, dit le renard.
—Alors tu n’y gagnes rien!
-J’y gagne, dit le renard, à cause de la couleur du blé.

-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le Petit Prince

A page from ‘Marius’

“Silence! (Il prend un ton solennel.) Donc, nous allons boire le coup du depart. C’est emouvant le coup de depart. On quitte sa famille, ses amis, ses clients. On part pour les mers inconnues d’ou l’on est presque sur de ne pas revenir. Alors on prend son verre d’une main qui ne tremble pas. On boit le dernier coup sur la terre ferme…le coup du depart…c’est emotionnant…A votre sante.”

-Cesar, “Marius” par Marcel Pagnol