Friday, April 10, 2015

Which Way is Up?

It’s an upside-down world for those who came of age before . . . . who came of age.

The most self-evident truths now conflict with conventional craziness.

Peace is better than war?  Not any more.  The Republicans have gone bonkers because President Obama just took a small but important step toward peace in the Middle East.  Upside down: here’s the untried war criminal, Dick Cheney, telling us that Obama is trying to “bring America down.”  He served as vice president to that monument to incompetence, George W. Bush, who endeared himself to his electorate because he “didn’t do nuance.”  It’s an electorate whose collective ignorance would be the laughing stock of the world if its electoral choices didn’t have such hideous impact on the rest of the world.

Jonathan Gruber, an MIT professor of economics, rightly denounced “the stupidity of the American voter.”  Although he was the architect of “Romney care” in Massachusetts, of which the federal Affordable Care Act is a virtual clone, the state dumped him from its health care commission because of his blunt honesty. A fellow faculty member noted that being “explicitly honest is a tradition at MIT,” but added that only sometimes is it “a good thing.” As Voltaire wrote, “It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong." In fact, in today’s USA, being explicitly honest is a very rare thing, and a non-existent thing in the political sphere. And so the adage generations grew up by — “Honesty is the best policy” — has been turned upside-down.

Truth, logic, science and historical fact have all been turned upside-down in the United States.

In New Mexico, after almost a decade of severe drought, the Rio Grande is a dry bed  for six months of the year.  In California, the governor has restrictions on water use (though absolving the businesses that caused its drought). In China, a 1,300 square mile freshwater lake — more than four times the size of New York City — dried up due to an ongoing drought.  In the high Sierra of America’s West, bears have forgone hibernating as a result of warm conditions.  In Maine, increasing ocean acidity has accelerated  the spread of coastal “dead mud,” bringing disaster on clammers, lobstermen, oyster farmers, and others whose livelihoods depend on healthy coastal ecosystems.In Australia, blistering heat chased koalas from the trees, baked100,000 bats to death, threatens cattle and crops and has tripled the risk of forest and grass fires.  The list of environmental catastrophes attributable to climate change is almost endless.  And yet we not only elect kooks like James Inhofe of Oklahoma to the U.S. Senate, we make him chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. When Inhofe threw a snowball at the presiding officer of the U.S. Senate last winter, even the conservative Washington Post editorial page was moved to say, “The Republican Party should be mortified by the face of their environmental leadership.”
The political whores who denounce Obama’s breakthrough diplomatic agreement with Iran over nuclear issues echo the Israeli government’s wild-hare notion that it is a threat to Israel’s very existence.  It’s Israel that has more than 200 nukes, refuses to sign the international weapons control protocol, and refuses to admit IAEA inspectors to the country.  Iran has no nukes, is a signatory to the international agreement, has been regularly inspected by the IAEA and has no present capability for making nuclear weapons. 
Half a century ago we passed a civil rights law designed to make just justice color-blind.  Today we tolerate a system of “justice” wherein our militarized white police without fear or favor gun down blacks, especially if they are young, wearing hoodies, carrying Skittles, driving with a broken tail light or have their hands up in the universal gesture of surrender. That same system of “justice” permits men in $1,500 suits to commit fraud and robbery without penalty because they are the managers of banks that are too big to fail.
That’s another self-evident truth that’s been turned upside-down: “All men are created equal.”  Tell that to a Walton.

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