19 August 2022

Credibility Gaps

That's the common theme on this platter today, which follows the DC version of an old, class-warfare-hidden-in-"manners"-based aphorism: "If you don't have anything nice to say, let's hear it!" And if you've read this blawg before, you know I seldom have very much nice to say.

  • We'll start with sport. All kinds of credibility problems here, and American football is far from the most lacking. I won't bother with links to the NCAA, or FIFA, or the AFL, or the Premier League… and that's just varieties of football. No need to mention either figureskating or gymnastics, right? And track-and-field is right out!

    That said, the athletes are usually more insightful and credible than the administrators, despite the graduate degrees and class credentials usually possessed by the administrators and lacking in the athletes. And since this is especially prevalent in team sports, one wonders whether the necessary team orientation for immediate function of the athletes — as distinct from the careerism of the administrators — might be relevant in bridging credibility gaps… especially since, with unfortunately rare exceptions, the longer the athletes are from their playing days, the bigger their blind spots.

  • Then we've got the incumbent prospective loser of the primary in a de facto one-party state whingeing that her party is "sick." No kidding, and one can confirm that by looking at her surname. And that's less a criticism of her father in particular than it is of "familial right" as embedded in party leadership. Multiple generations of Bushes, of Drumpfs, and so on at the national level are pretty persuasive evidence that descent from the powerful as an indicator of worthiness for office was rightly rejected in the Constitution (even if the Founders promptly screwed it up with the horror show of the Adams family). There are plenty of examples on the local level; and the other party is by no means better.

    This is why I advocate for and follow a simple rule: I do not vote for any individual whose parent, spouse, sibling, aunt/uncle, or child has held similar or higher office. Ever. There are plenty of appointment opportunities to use real expertise (equally subject to abuse, of course) — but I draw a hard line at the ballot box. Which is one of the reasons that I never supported Ted Kennedy, despite my general agreement with his stated policy preferences.

  • Then there's the problem of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of California being shocked — shocked, she says — at impossible-to-deny-as-perversions-of-justice problems with "private judges" who are fundamentally not subjected to oversight, regulation, or appeal. Well, at least she's shocked, or at minimum capable of expressing shock… three months before her previously-announced retirement.

    One might wonder if these problems — among many, many others — will lead to the organized bar in California (or anywhere else) reexamining the usefulness of the bar exam as a, and often the sole, gatekeeper to practicing law. One might so wonder, that is, if the organized bar had not long ago sunk into being a competition-suppressing trade association while forgetting that there's an awful lot of misconduct (all too often by "leaders") that merits discipline; misconduct that neither has anything to do with mishandling of client funds nor is actually controlled — with astoundingly rare exceptions — by the courts to whom the disciplinary systems purportedly defer.

  • Perhaps the less said about publishing executives claiming "art" as one of their priorities, the better. They're incapable of recognizing the target-audience mismatch of their main feeder system for "prestige" works that is used as a magician's assistant to distract from their real, class-based-and-borderline-bigoted conduct. And for those who snootily prefer cats, I ask you this: When do you think the last time one of those publishing executives devoted a whole week to either poetic cats or art-novel dogs actually was? It certainly hasn't been since 1973…
  • And the broader arts are little better. Reading two largely oblivious white guys lamenting my local arts scene (while never questioning the sources and objects of the previous greater funding, as anyone who was paying attention in the 1970s around here would have, especially after having seen guards at a museum they named turn away sweaty undesirables who had just finished basketball practice and wanted to see an exhibit on its last weekday before an unconscionably early closing time established for the benefit of the white-tie fundraiser that evening). That's certainly not to say that arts funding is adequate; it's only to point out that the particular kind of arts funding they advocate as having the greatest merit has no objective claim to that merit.

    Meanwhile, in another part of publishing problems that became obvious not later than half a century ago are getting long-overdue criticism — but the problems are being severed from their actual sources because those sources are complex and difficult and almost never read by actual publishing/arts decisionmakers and, perhaps most of all, are less financially successful than their pale imitators. So, kids, all I can really say is don't latch on to the "obvious" cause of the "problem" when that obvious cause is probably — perhaps almost certainly — derivative of much older sources (that were equally, if not more, misunderstood). Often much darker sources, too, leading to trips of self-discovery of a kind almost never undertaken in Manhattan-echobox publishing circles at just about any level…