Monday, November 7, 2011

when all else fails, have a war

World War II is sometimes seen as the global eruption that lifted (among others) the United States out of a crushing Depression. It got the factories humming. It muffled discontent that might otherwise have been directed at those who declared the war and sought re-election. It brightened the colors of the flag. With death as an alternative, who could complain about a lack of peace and plenty? In one narrow sense, then, World War II, redirected a mounting discontent by replacing it with a greater discontent. Fear is an effective technique for those who lack the skill and imagination to find a more enduring solution.

-- Today's Washington Post page one off-lede announces that intelligence provided to U.N. nuclear officials shows "that Iran’s government has mastered the critical steps needed to build a nuclear weapon, receiving assistance from foreign scientists to overcome key technical hurdles...." In the same department, Russia warned Israel -- a close U.S. ally, to understate the case -- that an attack on Iran would be  a "very serious mistake fraught with unpredictable consequences." The Russians were reacting to a comment from Israeli President Shimon Peres that an attack on Iran was becoming more likely.

-- Another sort of fomentation arrives today in the form of an Associated Press story detailing the divisive wealth divide between older and younger Americans. This gap puts a new focus on Social Security and Medicare payments: If the supercommittee wrestling with the problem of coming up with $1.2 trillion in budget cuts over the next decade feels there is enough support, perhaps they can equalize the wealth disparity between young and old... at the expense of the old. This sort of legerdemain draws attention away from the functions that have allowed some to manipulate the system in order to accumulate wealth and places it on those who worked within the system in order to assure some sort of security. I see this as another version of blame-it-on-the-Germans-blame-it-on-Iran prestidigitation.

-- Thousands turned out on Sunday in Washington, D.C., to protest the oil pipe line between Canada and the Gulf of Mexico. Here's a self-descriptive video from Reuters that lacks narration:

-- A smaller sort of conflict -- something with a little comic relief, perhaps -- has erupted between Fairfax County, Va.'s Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church and TopGolf, an adjacent recreational spa whose golf balls have occasionally broken church windows and injured parishioners. Nobody is talking about God's wrath ... but it is hard not to imagine it for those inclined to credit God.

-- And sticking with the God theme, a friend sent along this (threatening???) letter posted on It's egregious enough to be true, but I have no way of verifying the authenticity.

Imagine that ... threatening someone with an unpleasant eternal repose by suggesting that the church and its texts are somehow a legitimate artiber of that heavenly or hellish repose. It boggles the mind in one sense ... not that the church and its minions could be so overreaching in its poorly-proved arrogance, but that, assuming the letter is true, someone might actually put themselves in a position of believing it and being, as intended, mortally or immortally afraid. The unkindness is mind-boggling ... but no unkindness seems unwarranted where the goal of 'kindness' is involved.

At least being afraid of falling golf balls has a certain common sense about it.

1 comment: