Saturday, August 31, 2013

Expectations: Baseball and Everything

The radio sports host was frustrated with calls about Clay Buchholz. Everyone wanted him back pitching, dammit, and not wussing it up sitting around and being too careful in his rehab. The host pointed out other Red Sox pitchers who had come back too soon and been useless, or re-injured themselves. In fact, he noted, that may have been true of Buchholz's last start this year. So which do we want, really? "We just want him to pitch and be great again. Because we need it. Because we want it. Because we can imagine how great it would be. We don't want explanations. We don't want reality. We just want him to go out there and be great somehow."

One of my reminders to other social workers at my hospital is that everyone else in the building believes in magic ponies.  I used to say that it is our job to point out they don't exist, but this year I have made that more dramatic.  Our job is to kill those magic ponies in front of everyone.

We have the same expectations of medicines, and pharmaceutical companies.  Of all medical practice, actually.  We want the medicine that doesn't have any side effects but works great.  We want the FDA to get those on the market ASAP, with no delay from all ridiculous overfussiness of testing again and again.  But we also want to sue the bastards when the medicines actually do have side effects.  Oh, and BTW, we want it cheap, preferably free, even if it's brand new and didn't even exist last year. Because we want it.  We can imagine how great life would be if we had that.

We want that in foreign policy as well, I fear.  We want the military intervention with no side effects, that makes bad guys stop and turns over power to the good guys.  Failing that we want to do nothing and let other people sort it out on their own without involving us.  Because that never goes wrong, does it? Wars in other places never affect us if we just get on our magic ponies and get out of there. Whew.  Glad we avoided that.

From the little I know, intervening in Syria looks like a first-class bad idea to me.  (And yes, it does annoy me to listen to people who thought that Bosnia was a good idea, Iraq a bad one, and now Syria a good one on partisan basis, and to note that even the consistent liberals who oppose interventions aren't you know, protesting by the millions or anything.) But somehow it seems that when people get to be president and have to actually make decisions to keep Americans safer they find military solutions more attractive.*  Hippie president Bill Clinton thought Bosnia looked like a great place to fix.  Bush 43 ran as something of an isolationist in 2000, and now proudly antiIraq Obama has had it with those knuckleheads in the ME who won't follow his lead and wants to punish the worst of them

This tells me that if we sat in their seats we would likely favor intervention as well.  We've got plenty of stuff to fight with. If we make an example of a few, the rest will fall in line. We can take just a nip, just one, with surgical precision and sit back.

With all the controversy about leaked information, and ample evidence that Americans have not always acted with highest honor in war zones, and the general paranoia of the antiglobalists who swear it's all oil/corporate/banks (mostly leftist, but some rightist), look what we have created.  We have limited war to essentially preannounced, public, unambiguous attacks on stuff, not people, no matter how evil.  These ultimately cost lots more money and kill more people, but we think it is more honorable, somehow. Honorable wars that kill more people, because we all really do subscribe to the Colin Powell doctrine of "If you break it, you own it." It just looks so evil if we don't move in and fix everything for people who have no intention of being fixed.

So President Obama and everyone else in that chair has more limited choices in what he can do, and just maybe, all of the choices are bad.  But we still want the pill with no side effects.

*Reagan kept talking about shoving those Russkies around but invaded tiny Grenada.  Go figure.


james said...

It is easy to believe your own press releases. We advertise "magic". The most recent fighter is infinitely better than the old ones. Doing war games on computer is so much better than moving figures on a board that we have to be able to win.

"For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard—
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not Thee to guard.
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!"

William Newman said...

You wrote "this tells me that if we sat in their seats we would likely favor intervention as well."

Maybe, but succeeding in politics selects for a different personality type than writing, reading, or commenting on weblogs, and provides some different incentives as well. If you looked only at the way that self-made zillionaires behave, you might arrive at a different conclusion about how wealth changes people than if you broadened the sample to include people with other sources of wealth, such as heirs and lottery winners.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

William. Fair point.

Anonymous said...

Imagine you are a typical member of the political class.

You believe that Muslims are merely progressives who dress in funny clothes, unlike those horrible Christians who burn black children on their altars and drink the blood of transexuals.

One day, you are in power, and you notice some Muslims have failed to get the message of how good and nice Muslims are. You embrace a Muslim preacher as prince of moderate Islam, and then, alas, he so seriously misunderstands Islam that you put him on the drone operator's kill-on-sight list.

You add a rapidly increasing number of misunderstanders of Islam to the kill-on-sight list, but, strange to say, they keep right on misunderstanding Islam. What, you ask, do you need to do get Muslims to rightly understand Islam, understand it the way you do?

You don't notice that your policy is morphing into "Invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to ... progressivism"