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Are you tired of the calls for "conversations"? Am I the only one who finds this annoying? It seems whenever something troubling happens, a problem that obviously needs fixing and is once again highlighted by a disaster, a politician or a pundit says "We need a national conversation about __." or "I welcome the conversation about ___."

After the murder of children in Newton we needed a "national conversation" about gun laws. After Hurricane Sandy it was time we conversed about global warming. A host of revelations about the massive and unconstitutional security state leads to Obama welcoming a national conversation. And now the freed murderer of a 17 year old boy has led to many calls in the press for a "conversation about race."

What we need is national action. Talk is cheap. What we need is our elected representatives to get out in front of these things and to use effective government to address these problems. Why do we elect them? By their fruit you will know them. The government's job is to prevent these things from happening, and if that isn't working they need to figure out what does. What we need is a press that accurately informs the public, and a press that does not give platforms to racists, gun-nuts, global warming deniers, or officials who have been caught lying about the reach of the NSA (or those who are profiting handsomely from government contracts). A press that explicitly recognizes that one side has no interest in conversation. We would only be too glad to help, but let's not pretend that "conversing" will do a damn thing.

Gun related deaths are nothing new, school shootings are not new, supporters of unfettered gun ownership are not interested in conversation, and the government needs to act. Climate change is nothing new and the national reach of the federal government is absolutely necessary to address this huge problem. Opponents of action don't want to converse, they lie repeatedly, and they see no problem. The government needs to act. The government spying on its own citizens is nothing new. We now know, with no help from government transparency (and a lot of confusion due to government lies) that there is a secret court enabling covert action against all Americans, costing us treasure, trust, and ignoring our Constitution. I'm glad the president welcomes this "conversation", though you'd think if he really welcomed it he wouldn't have worked so hard to hide it from the American people. However, it's action that we need not more talk. And race? We need to discuss race? If you don't know that race leads to different treatment by the law, by the government, by the private sector, I'm quite sure you can't hold a meaningful conversation about it. The outright or closeted racists sure don't want to talk about it. George Wallace didn't want to converse about it--but I'm sure he would've been glad to spew his poison all over you if you had let him. Maybe Lou Dobbs will converse with us? We do not need a conversation, we need fact finding, transparency, we need to get rid of privatization of the military and our security services and prisons and schools, we need to end the enormous failure known as the War on Drugs, we need to do a lot of things. Conversing with people who are clearly willing to lie and mislead and have done so over a number of years will not help, and as a waste of time and energy it will actually hurt.

Converse all you want, but if you really care about these problems (and they are not new and shiny and need studying) do something! Give the people initiatives they can rally behind. Hope and change, remember? Obama has often asked that the left push him to do things, but isn't that why he was elected and re-elected? Who does he think voted for him? He does quite a bit for the right and the corporations, often very quietly with little prodding (see Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership or NSA expansion or drone programs and many more). This usage of "conversation" is shorthand for "let's wait until people are distracted about something else that we can encourage a conversation about so that people are distracted until the next problem..." I do not welcome these conversations.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (9+ / 0-)

    You can wake someone who is sleeping, but you cannot wake someone who is pretending to sleep.

    by gnothis on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 08:26:30 AM PDT

  •  All Obama did is put a list (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT

    together of all of the things he as president could do without the approval of Congress (since Congress won't do one thing about guns). And then he implemented every last one of them. And yet, even though he over and over tried to use the bully pulpit to pressure Congress to change, and even though he did all that he personally could, the result is

    Who does he think voted for him?
    The truth is that the American people who live in Southern and rural Western states want no part of any changes in our gun laws, and no prodding on the part of the president is going to change that. Just how many states have done anything (other than start allowing guns in schools, if you want to count that) since Newtown? Is President Obama also to blame for each of the 50 state legislatures and governors doing absolutely nothing?
    •  Just because I mentioned him by name (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      terrybuck, CroneWit, Shahryar, greengemini

      doesn't mean I want Obama to do everything. You take what I said and then turn it into a silly straw man that is easily knocked down. When did I write that Obama was to blame for each of the 50 state legislatures and governors doing nothing? We have other elected representatives too--and if you actually read what I wrote you'd know that I was not only talking about Obama. I was upset when Obama said that crap about welcoming the conversation w/r/to the NSA leaks. Regardless of that, listing accomplishments is no justification for not doing other things. You assume that he's done "all he personally could", I don't.

      Your point about the western and southern states ignores poll data showing a lot of support for sane gun regulations in those areas. Obama did do a great job in using the bully pulpit pushing for better gun laws. He's not used the bully pulpit very well overall. Tell me about the great job he did in selling the public option, and then later the ACA? When did he use that pulpit to address NSA overreach? How about his continued prosecution of federal drugs laws in states that have adopted saner laws? Where is the bully pulpit on things like the privatization of schools, prisons, national security, and the military? Or how about using it to oppose international trade treaties that will hurt American and foreign workers and the global environment (as opposed to negotiating in secret and hiding it from the public)? And you seem to have forgotten his tendency to negotiate with himself, and his futile efforts to try to reach bipartisan compromises with a nihilistic opposition party. Or the many lines in the sand he drew that were redrawn as Republicans stomped all over them. I don't think Obama is or should be perfect, but I will not look at him through rose-colored glasses because he's a democrat, and I think his "welcoming the conversation" about NSA snooping was disingenuous at best.

      You can wake someone who is sleeping, but you cannot wake someone who is pretending to sleep.

      by gnothis on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 09:14:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Boy, ain't that the truth? (8+ / 0-)
    This usage of "conversation" is shorthand for "let's wait until people are distracted about something else that we can encourage a conversation about so that people are distracted until the next problem..."
    It's called Lip Service, and our government has been utilizing it for at least fifty years that I'm aware of ;)

    This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

    by lunachickie on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 08:59:13 AM PDT

  •  Its not just you (6+ / 0-)

    Ive come to hate that expression. Because its such a lame and lazy response to, well, anything. Because it used mostly by what the Beltway defines as 'centrists' or weakly left leaning MSNBC-friendly pundits. And because its basically kabuki for "lets form a circle jerk and fill up a lot of air time blowing smoke up each other's asses that won't change anything or help anyone but will get me lots of face time on TV and show what a deep thinker I am."

    •  Not just lame and lazy (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, CroneWit

      it's a definite diversion. "Buying Time", if you will. But yeah, all the other stuff you said? Too true....

      its basically kabuki for "lets form a circle jerk and fill up a lot of air time blowing smoke up each other's asses that won't change anything or help anyone but will get me lots of face time on TV and show what a deep thinker I am."

      This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

      by lunachickie on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 09:10:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What's to talk about? (0+ / 0-)

    Moderator: "Tonight, we're here to have a conversation.  The proposition for debate is, killing an unarmed teenager who didn't threaten you is morally unjustifiable and should be classified as murder.  How many of you out there agree with this?"
    [everyone in audience raises their hand]
    Moderator:  "And how many of you disagree?"
    [nobody raises their hand]
    Moderator: "Erm, this is going to be a long hour.  Let's take you to our sponsor, Koch's, er, America's Oil and Gas Producers..."

    For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. --John Maynard Keynes

    by Kurt from CMH on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 12:19:53 PM PDT

  •  In almost 40 years as an activist (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gnothis

    I've seen innumerable calls for "conversations".  One thing that all those "calls" have in common, including the "calls for conversation" I've been a party yo, is that none of them actually want a real conversation.  Usually they come from power centrists who, regardless of letter after name, want to make the existing centers of power even more powerful.  To extend their range of reach and actions.  For all cases, the "conversation" is intended to be a monologue owned and operated by the callers and their political allies.  No one wants to actually have to listen to contrary, or even much worse, oblique opinions.  And they won't for very long, those not on board the "conversationalists" agenda will soon enough be talked down, or if necessary shouted down.  

    "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" ~Dr. Samuel Johnson

    by ActivistGuy on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 01:55:41 PM PDT

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