Archive for March 2011
March 28, 2011
We don’t last, and there’s no warranty
By Fred Reed
Jocotepec, Mexico — Joe lived awhile down the lake. We would visit him of an afternoon, Vi and I, and find him, a bear of a man, bearded mountain Buddha, writing on the porch of his one-room place in Ajijic. Always he wore his old fishing vest, in which I suspect he was born, and sometimes he carried a small laptop in one of its pockets. Usually we adjourned to the living room, which was also the bedroom, dining room, and salon. He would fetch bottles of local red, or make the jalapeño martinis he invented — there was a bit of mad chemist in him — and we would talk for hours of art, music, the news, politics, and people. Especially people. Sometimes he grabbed one of the guitars from the wall and sang blues, at which he was good. I guess growing up dirt poor in West Virginia puts that kind of music in you.
Joe could fool you. He talked slow and Southern, lacked pretensions, and you could talk to him for weeks without realizing how very damned smart he was. One day we dropped in and he said he had just found that he had cancer. It went fast. He died Saturday.
A news discussion on CNN yesterday revealed the Army’s reversal of charges of dereliction of duty by superior officers Army accused of covering up mistakes in Afghan battle evidently in the hallowed tradition of “protecting the institution” and blaming the dead……
I noted another article in The Scientist which discusses the same inclination in scientific circles:
Sometimes going public with an accusation is the only way to bring the truth to light……..the local commission investigating the case might delay, play down or even suppress incriminating evidence, perhaps going public was the only way to see that justice was served.
A South Carolina news item Ideology trumps health reports:
Dr. David Cull, a prominent vascular surgeon in Greenville, had invented a small valve system that, if it works, could spare 300,000 dialysis patients across the country enormous suffering and save U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars.
But Cull’s hometown senator, Jim DeMint, would not write a letter supporting the surgeon’s application for a federal grant under the landmark health care bill that President Barack Obama signed into law a year ago today….
DeMint vowed in 2009 to make health care Obama’s “Waterloo” and is leading Republican efforts in Congress to repeal or deny funding to the law.
All our institutions are prone to cover their butts, choose ideology over the public good and discard those who seek justice.
In effect this delays institutional ability to learn from mistakes, and it used to go on for generations. New technology and recognition of the value of “transparency” (in word if not in action) are game changers. Recent comments by Fouad Ajami about WikiLeaks in Foreign Policy magazine included observations that nothing particularly new was revealed, just confirmation of what people already knew but was not officially acknowledged.
The powers-that-be are certain to push back in order to censor or punish those who reveal painful truths. But those with the courage to go public today are challenging traditions of smirking hypocrisy, institutionalized corruption, and blaming the victim. I applaud them!
see also: Despite Reforms, Whistleblowers at Development Banks Face Retaliation
By Charles Davis
by Charles Davis March 20, 2011 false dichotomy
The United States is the world’s biggest arms dealer — guns and bombs are the only thing America really makes anymore — and Barack Obama is the national-salesman-in-chief, jetting across the globe to sell foreign governments on how, with no down payment and low APR financing, they can be the proud owners of a U.S.-made weapon of mass murder. He’ll even throw in a free undercoating.
While those who fetishize political power and the cult of the presidency would like us all to believe the American head of state meets with his counterparts abroad to engage in weighty, high-minded discussions about John Rawls and the burden of maintaining the social contract, the reality is Obama — like Bush, like Clinton, like Reagan — is little more than a well-dressed shill for the military-industrial complex. But don’t take my word for it.
“President Barack Obama made a strong pitch for the Boeing F-18 jet fighter in a meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff,” the White House announced on Sunday, according to Reuters.