For your benefit? Well, lets just suppose you and I are comparing notes since we don't all read the same things
Two gobs of muck today. One is an excerpt from a new book Are We Rome? by Cullen Murphy, reprinted in Vanity Fair. On the strength of a few other good articles and Walcott's wit, I broke down and subscribed to VF. The topic is comparing the bloat and degeneracy of American empire with that of Roman empire. That comparison is a theme that comes without tutoring into the mind of anyone with even a half decent education in history. The excerpt takes only the essay on venality and privilege, the privatization meme, from the broader comparison, i.e. just the culture of corruption part. Walter Isaacson reviewed the book for NY Times last month. He gets right to the polar extremes between the nation we might once have been and could yet be and the nation our present leadership permits and encourages:
Laudably, he ends on some optimistic notes, and some prescriptions.... At home, it should resurrect the ideals of citizen engagement and promote a sense of community and mutual obligation, rather than treating most government as a necessary evil.The one thing a government run by and for K-Street does NOT want, would not even survive, is an engaged citizenry. A body politic that in its persons and its minor councils felt a "sense of mutual obligation" would demand as much from its leaders. Nothing that goes on in our nation's capital today would measure up. Selfishness as I have said, is the bad coin that drives out the good so I am not as optimistic as Mr Murphy.
The other gob is from the TPM Muckraker pages, a veritable storm drain of patronage news from which the daily e-mail alerts alone would provide me most of a day's reading. Today, TPM's Laura McGann details the naked venality of Rep. Don Young who was supposed to be doing the business of the people of the state of Alaska.
And for dessert, and justice, I cannot ignore one glaring exception. William Jefferson exhibits what I have called Republican values but he is a Democrat. An explanation of sorts for this oddity was provided by Jon Stewart last night on The Daily Show: "He has discovered what it takes for a black man from New Orleans to get some attention from Washington".