Why Do We Let Ourselves Be Ruled By Garbage?

Contrary to my high school opinion, not all politicians are bad. Some actually appear to have decided that what they want to do in life is serve the public.

Imagine if there was someone whose hobby, or art-form, was public service. They want to be good at it, for the sake of the public not for the sake of their own ego.

Doubtless Ardern is not perfect. but when you compare her to the creepy nihilist gerontocrats who run the US, all I can say is, “why can’t we have leaders like her, please?”

Why do humans seem to allow the worst examples of humanity to step into leadership roles?

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Unrelated (I will delete this eventually) I intend to do some posts about my brain-o and what it felt like from the inside. Eventually. It’s interesting, or it was to me. It’s also a little easier for me to contemplate nuclear war than to contemplate my brain going woobly. So I am gonna have to creep up on the topic. The short form is that I’m doing really great and have a full panoply of diagnostics looking at whether there are any other problems, etc. So far all signs point to green.

I will tell you something I feel guilty about. I had a consult with my cardiologist (first time I met the guy and he’s awesome) and he asked if I had any idea what might have caused my clot, and I looked at him with big eyes and said “I had the vaccine” then fell out of my chair apologizing and giggling. He said that it would have been funny, except it was not and suggested that if that was my sense of humor I needed a psychologist not a cardiologist. After that he gave me a really amazing technical brief on some stuff, which I unfortunately only spottily managed to transfer from short term to long term memory but if I focus on it, I can remember. One of the weird things that happens when your ability to lay down long-term memories is wobbly is that it’s harder for me to describe what happened during my last week and ER visits and all than it would be to tell you about, say, the battle of Tsushima. I haven’t tried to get into those topics with you because I literally can’t. But maybe I can talk about forge linings or vices because that was 2 weeks ago.


  1. klatu says

    I will delete this eventually

    I kinda hope you won’t? Sharing deeply personal troubles takes a lot of bravery. It also signals that being publically vulnerable is okay.

    But I’ll stop stop right there. I really don’t want to pressure you. Just know that you have my sympathies and I hope you can find your place again, if that makes sense.

  2. Jörg says


    all I can say is, “why can’t we have leaders like her, please?”

    Amen to that!

  3. Jean says

    The amount of money in US politics will attract all the shittiest people who can be bought. I’m not familiar with how it is in New Zealand but I assume it is quite different.

  4. crivitz says

    Glad to hear that your recovery is going well, hopefully Fetterman will fare as well as you have. He seems to be one of the politicians that are in it for public service.

  5. kestrel says

    Great story… poor cardiologist! :-D

    I volunteer on the local level in my community and it is nearly impossible to get people to help out with the work, let alone good people. We do have a volunteer who probably secretly sees himself as the next Hitler, and we can’t get rid of that guy for love nor money, but all the good people absolutely refuse to step up and help out. And I get it – it’s a hard job and most of what you get is criticism, usually for stuff you have no control over (like the weather). I intended to help out for a couple of years and then give someone else a chance… here it is ten years later and apparently everyone in the community just assumes I’m going to do this job until I drop dead. I recently talked a great guy into filling one of the positions we had open, and a month later he resigned. That’s why we end up with garbage people running things. People who are smart and talented won’t put up with the abuse. Garbage people just want to be in charge (as long as they don’t have to actually do the work) and boss people around. Apparently I’m pretty stupid for sticking this out. I am certainly not motivated by wanting to boss people around. I have no idea how to change that, but when you’re even superficially in charge, a lot of people see you as a punching bag.

  6. says

    Regarding doing things for the public good:
    There is an old saying that no one goes into teaching to get rich. They’re doing it for other reasons, eh?

    I’m not saying that all teachers are golden, but on a percentage basis, our government would be much better (and our schools less so) if the teachers and politicians switched places. US politics seems to attract precisely the wrong kind of people for public service. I assume it is because the system has so much money tied up in it. My solution (such as it is) would be to allow only individuals to donate to politicians (no corporations, lobbying groups, etc.). The “free speech” thing is BS because every individual who works for one of those groups has a voice and can vote. Allowing the corporation or other group to do so strikes me as double-dipping. Further, people should only be able to give money (and a only a reasonable amount) to people who directly represent them. That means everyone can donate for president, but no one in NY can donate to some pol in Texas (and vice versa), or to a House candidate who is not running for your district. That would severely limit $ which would limit negative ads and also shorten the campaign season. Also, no so-called “issue PACs” allowed (which are just dark money funnels that coordinate via a wink and a nod, rather than formally). Politicians should also be required to have a platform consisting of appropriate answers to questions of the day, such that anyone could look up said data on public sites. It ain’t perfect, but it’s a start. It won’t happen though because only things that make someone more money get done in the USA today, and this stands to cause some folks to lose money.

  7. says

    Re-define what a “donation” is. Any politician taking “donations” is taking bribes; they are corrupt. The way the US political system runs on formalized bribery is undemocratic and immoral.

    Politicians caught taking gifts or money from influence peddlers or voters are corrupt. They should be taken out of office, given a brief rest in federal prison to think about their mistake, and barred from running for public office for 10 years.

    The idea that companies have free speech and a right to ritually bribe politicians is goat-fucking absurd. We need to stop tolerating companies that openly bribe politicians, while pretending “oh its just a gift.” Let the companies try to bribe the voters. But we should not tolerate corporations trying to play politics – by definition, it’s corruption.

    Election campaigning should be a federal service with even support for candidates that can demonstrate enough voter support to get on a ballot.

    There would be really interesting game-play around trying to get opponents to take a bribe, disqualifying themselves – and careful scrutiny paid to candidates’ finances.

    That’s my platform. Make me dictator for 3 years and I’ll clean this shit up, so long as the firing squads’ ammo doesn’t run out. (The firing squads are for the people who resolutely refuse to get the point or who continue trying to corrupt their politicians)

  8. Rob Grigjanis says

    Not a solution, but a major (IMO) step, would be scrapping the first past the post bullshit. Worth noting that New Zealand has had mixed-member proportional representation for over 20 years.

    Generally (again, IMO) the more progressive parties tend to attract more people who genuinely want to serve. In Canada, for example, that would include the Liberals, NDP and Greens. The FPTP system works against them, because the leftish vote is split. A fresh example is the just concluded provincial election in Ontario. Conservatives won a massive majority of seats with about 40% of the vote. Liberals and NDP each got about 24%*. In a ranked ballot system, either the Libs or the NDP may well have been able to form at least a minority government.

    Not immediately sure how that could benefit an entrenched two-party system like the US, but it might encourage the formation of new parties.

    *Why they don’t form a coalition to simply keep the Cons out is beyond me.

  9. Tethys says

    I think there are people who do want to get elected to office for noble reasons, however the US has a problem with capitalists and dark money PACs.

    Very few people win elections without the monetary support of political parties.
    AOC is a one of the few members of congress who managed to win, and she clearly wants to pursue a more leftist agenda that includes action on climate disaster and green energy.

    Non- dependence on fossil fuels is going to become a very wise thing to pursue for political reasons. The invasion of Ukraine is illustrating that this dependence is something that needs to end ASAP.

  10. Tethys says

    One of my Senators is Tina Smith. Her twitter feed is filled with plans to fix the stacked courts, address gun control, and extend legal rights for LGQTB people. I would not refer to her as garbage.

    I don’t know how much will actually be achieved, but the only roadblock to all those issues is the GOP. I would love it if some of those ancient bigots would finally retire, and agree that they are due to be relegated to the trash heap of history.

  11. Mano Singham says


    I am really sorry to hear about the clot. I hope that the wobbliness of your memory clear up soon.

    And thanks for the clip of Ardern. She makes our so-called leaders seem so pathetic and craven.

  12. says

    Mano Singham@#12:
    I am really sorry to hear about the clot. I hope that the wobbliness of your memory clear up soon.

    Thanks, Mano. Things are ok and improving rapidly. Some issues transferring short term memories to long term. Hitches in conversation. So, I started stick-welding a new lid for my dumpster. That works just fine. It’s weird as hell.

    Anyhow, yeah, Ardern seems like a gem, to me. A politician who is funny and passionate and is not “funny” in the sense of “what the f….?”

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