Saturday, November 27, 2004

The 8th Circle

The US government, at least at the federal level, increasingly resembles a king's court daily. The smallest amount of criticism towards King George, from any agency over which he has even the slightest bit of influence, quickly turns the agency into a shadow of its original self, as its experienced officials "resign".

The remnants of such agencies, as well as the survivors of the purgings, are best described as flatterers. The new head of the CIA, former Republican Congressman Porter Goss, recently sent an email to CIA employees stating
"We support the administration and its policies in our work.

As agency employees we do not identify with, support, or champion opposition to the administration or its policies.

We do not make policy, though we do inform those who make it. We avoid political involvement, especially political partisanship."
Interesting. Goss claims that the CIA is supposed to avoid partisanship, but also states that it supports the administration, and will not support opposition to the administration. Sounds very apolitical to me...

Now, as we also know, some of upper-tier administration officials are best described as deceivers.

Considering this pairing of flatterers and deceivers reminded me of Dante Alighieri's figurative description of hell in his work "The Inferno". In this tale, in which Dante's pilgrim travels deeper and deeper into the depths of hell, Dante reveals his perspective on the harmfulness of given sins. The more destructive a sin, the deeper Dante places it in hell. In total, Dante divides sin into 9 levels of destructiveness, in which both flattery and deception are placed in the 8th circle, and thus only less harmful than treason. Of course, it is also arguable that some of the actions of the current administration could also be viewed as treason... actions such as sending young men and women off to die in a meaningless war and thus weakening our defenses against future threats.

Note, this "ranking" of sins is not firmly based in Christian theology, and is mostly the work of Dante's creativity, but it is still something to consider. I have tried to fathom what traits our administration could exhibit that would result in greater harm to our nation, and I haven't been able to devise any...

We have our leaders misleading us onto a destructive path, and "credible" people praising such leadership...