Archive for May, 2012

Choice versus constraint

A piece of news out of Iran informs us that the country’s government, never particularly benevolent, is starting a more vigorous campaign against women who, disrespectful of Islam, choose to be fashionable—imagine!—rather than turn themselves into the subservient shadows of their lords and masters. (Converts and fanatics in the West might want to take note of what happens when covering up is an obligation rather than a whim.) The morality police is directed to patrol more intensively, including on highways, and fine or haul to jail female drivers mistakenly believing themselves safe in their own car.
To the invasive pc brigades in our countries–the free ones–people are all the same. According to their non-critical, non judgmental, and smug stance, we are all not only equal (glaring differences notwithstanding) but equally respectable, no matter our beliefs or ideologies. All systems of government are valid, all cultural values are good, all traditions respectable, all religions comparable in their teachings. Read more…


G8: Won’t someone open a couple of windows?

The air is so stale around the G-8 meeting, it almost smells like the cigar-smoke-filled rooms in the all-boys’ clubs of yore. Just as we still rely on fossil fuel (“fossil,” shouldn’t the very word scare us away?) and fight wars over it—killing an amazing number of people, with no one batting an eye—just as we build enough nuclear energy sites, shown catastrophe after catastrophe to be lethal, to give cancer to half the world population, we keep on trotting out workhorses that should have been put to pasture a while back. Even a village idiot understands that if he holds his hand to the flame, he’ll get burned. That’s called experience. But our leaders start every day anew, not having learned anything from anything. Read more…

Bravo, Obama!

Let’s hear it for the President. Bravo! Bravo is also Italian for brave and it takes a brave man and a strong heart to come out in favor of gay marriage in a country dominated by the raucous—and nefarious—Koch Brothers, Rush whats-his-name and assorted religious freaks. Whether Biden had been encouraged a few days ago or not to “force” Obama into making his own position clear is open to speculation but the result is what counts here.

Again, bravo. No matter how analysts cut and dice pre-election numbers, no matter how many votes Obama gets from the LGBT community, the liberal voices and some independents, he is at risk of losing more. So, unless he is as foxy as his detractors paint him and is two steps ahead, this is one of those too, too rare issues where conscience trumps worries about a political future. Read more…

The conditioned mind

Anyone masochistic enough to follow national discussions after the first round of French elections will understand my take on the ridiculous process: People are profoundly unoriginal. They have specific buttons you can push and, like a character  out of a Steinberg drawing, will have tapes of paper with pre-printed words tumble out, completely predictable, completely uninteresting. Watching the absolutely pointless debate between the two candidates or listening to Sarkozy cabinet members or to socialist contenders for possible winner Francois Hollande in the second round—tomorrow– seeing them arrive out of breath to this or that radio or TV studio, spill out the same absurd arguments with the same lack of logic and accusations and trumped-up statistics is a sad spectacle. The French are socialists, so Hollande is their guy. He will listen to workers and syndicates, return France to the prestige it lost since Sarkozy became Merkel’s best friend, take care of unemployment, open wide the gates to immigrants, give us “singing tomorrows.” Or the French are on the right, Sarkozy is their guy. He’ll get tougher on immigrants who won’t integrate, strengthen European bonds, ensure that France doesn’t sink to the miserable economic levels of Greece or Spain.
Where would be thinkers belonging to neither side, the ones who’d dare to say that both Hollande and Sarkozy have strengths and weaknesses, that if there ever was a time for thinking outside the box or actually reframing that box, this would be it? That the tried-and-true no longer exists in this fundamentally changed world, that things can be seen differently and new alliances formed?
The 1 percent are not the rich, they’re the original independent minds.

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