Saturday, October 22, 2011

Politics: catching up on Glenn Greenwald

I'm using a rare bit of down-time to catch up on the news. I cannot recommend Glenn Greenwald highly enough. It sometimes seems that he is the only voice of sanity left in the whole of the news media. Time is tight, and internet connectivity is flaky, so I can't write much well-considered commentary. Instead, I'll just point to two particularly noteworthy recent items and encourage you to read them in their entirety:

A remaining realm of American excellence

When President Obama announced the killing of Osama bin Laden on the evening of May 1, he said something which I found so striking at the time and still do: “tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history.” That sentiment of national pride had in the past been triggered by putting a man on the moon, or discovering cures for diseases, or creating technology that improved the lives of millions, or transforming the Great Depression into a thriving middle class, or correcting America’s own entrenched injustices. Yet here was President Obama proclaiming that what should now cause us to be “reminded” of our national greatness was our ability to hunt someone down, pump bullets into his skull, and then dump his corpse into the ocean.

What are those OWS people so angry about?

... growing wealth and income inequality, by itself, would not spark massive protests if there were a perception that the top 1% (more accurately thought of as the top .1%) had acquired their gains honestly and legitimately. Americans in particular have been inculcated for decades with the belief that even substantial outcome inequality is acceptable (even desirable) provided that it is the by-product of fairly applied rules. What makes this inequality so infuriating (aside from the human suffering it is generating) is precisely that it is illegitimate: it is caused and bolstered by decisively unfair application of laws and rules, by undemocratic control of the political process by the nation’s oligarchs, and by a full-scale shield of immunity that allows them — and only them — to engage in the most egregious corruption and even criminality without any consequence (other than a further entrenching of their prerogatives and ill-gotten gains).

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