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Friday, March 20, 2009

Stream of Consciousness [updated]

“Eventually all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”
Norman McLean, “A River Runs through It”

A number of things came together for me today during a quick drive downtown listening to NPR and then a read of this morning’s NYT. Are they really connected? Well, I think so.

Immediate interpretation on the radio: can Pres. Obama & Congress do all that they want? Republicans and some "moderate" Democrats are expected to push back.

My immediate reaction: here we have the fruit of the recent years’ Republican/conservative/libertarian goal to "starve" government by tax cuts. And so now, we can’t afford to address the recession or the auto industry or healthcare or. . . . At least, so goes the argument.

Of course, the rich got much richer over those same recent years: and now, thanks to AIG, we see how. I really do not wish any AIG employees harm, but apparently they feel they need—and can afford— private security guards. Should they (not just AIG execs) become richer still?

Welcome to the Banana Republic of America. (The NYT published another article today on the struggles of Zimbabwean schools and widespread poverty, and the new Mercedes offered by Mugabe to the Minister of Education—just a, you know, bonus.)

  • Item: NYT report today on stories from the Israeli army of wanton killings in recent Gaza incursion.
  • [Update item: see the charming story about Israeli army T-shirts celebrating the death of pregnant Palestinian women and their fetuses (Haaretz via Huffingtonpost): murder-themed T-shirts, one more America cultural export. Thank you, Rush.]

My immediate reaction: anger, and a re-emergence of my initial anger at the special violence of the Israeli attack back when it happened—phosphorous munitions and so forth.

But then I thought about Guantanamo, and Iraq, and Abu Ghraib, and special rendition, and enhanced interrogation, and American drones firing missiles at both militants and weddings in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It ain’t (just) the Israeli army, now, is it?

Then there was the Israeli political scientist quoted at the end of the NYT article: “the army believes that a weak spot of Israeli deterrence is its strong commitment not to kill civilians, and there has grown the sense that it might have to temporarily overcome that weakness in order to restore deterrence.” A bit chilling: chillingly fascist.

  • Items: separate NYT stories about (a) polar bears (and other wildlife) endangered by loss of Arctic ice caps, and (b) Bangladeshi efforts to raise low-lying areas against rising sea levels. (Oh, yes, and yet another article on (c) disappearing species of American birds-- esp. in Hawaii.)

What do I need to say, beyond pointing out that a Michael Steele still wants to play games on this subject of global warming and cooling?

  • Item: David Brooks’ NYT column today, “Perverse Cosmic Myopia”.

He seems to call Obama back to the immediate issue of the “collapsing world financial system”, and away from more “complicated” problems of healthcare, energy, and so forth. Then he criticizes European leaders who are insisting on “global architecture to regulate finance”.

Mr. Brooks (may I call you "David"?), the definition of “myopia”, when used metaphorically, is: “Lack of discernment or long-range perspective in thinking or planning." Pardon me, but the “perverse myopia” is your own as much as anybody's!

What is the river running through it all? A culture of wanton privilege, presumption, and self-absorption. This is the issue of the AIG bonuses, and, costlier still, former Treasury Secretary (and former Goldman Sachs CEO) Hank Paulson’s work on behalf of AIG in such a way that his former firm is the single largest beneficiary! And nobody is calling for hearings and trials on that, yet. How many Goldman Sachs bonuses have US taxpayers funded?

The river is bi-partisan, unfortunately. Yet Paulson needs to be made accountable, so that we can really address the issues of integrity (moral and corporate) in the financial industry; so do the former President and Vice President and hundreds of others, before we can speak effectively to the brutality of Israel’s—or Hamas’—military methods.

One thing David (that's "Mr. Brooks," to the rest of you) said rightly was the last thing he said: “We don’t have to wonder any more [about how it was that past world leaders could have been so myopic at one time or another]. We get to watch the cosmic myopia replay itself in our own times.”

Um, yeah.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

When ChiTom writes, he tells it like it is!

7:39 PM  
Blogger ChiTom said...

Thanks, Mom!

10:29 PM  
Blogger KISSWeb said...

Well, I ain't your Mom, and I agree. Welcome back.

12:49 AM  

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