Monday, September 22, 2008

Shark jumping can be habit forming

Flying in the face of Congress and both presidential campaigns, Treasury is resisting efforts to impose pay limits on Wall Street executives and bankers whose companies stand to be helped by the government’s $700 billion rescue plan for the financial markets.(...) Treasury argues that the requirements will make it harder to convince companies to sell their troubled assets to the government. - Politico

Up to 10,000 staff at the New York office of the bankrupt investment bank Lehman Brothers will share a bonus pool set aside for them that is worth $2.5bn (£1.4bn), Barclays Bank, which is buying the business, confirmed last night. The revelation sparked fury among the workers' former colleagues, Lehman's 5,000 staff based in London, who currently have no idea how long they will go on receiving even their basic salaries. Independent

"I have concluded that Americans, who pretend in public to be straitlaced, are in fact rabid masochists addicted to whips, black leather and the application of fists." Juan Cole

"It is certainly not conspiracy that causes revolution, and secret societies -- though they may succeed in committing a few spectacular crimes, usually with the help of the secret police -- are as a rule much too secret to make their voices heard in public. The loss of authority in the powers-that-be, which precedes all revolutions, is actually a secret to no one, since its manifestations are open and tangible, though not necessarily spectacular; but its symptoms, general dissatisfaction, widespread malaise, and contempt for those in power are difficult to pin down since their meaning is never unequivocal. Nevertheless, contempt, hardly among the motives of the typical revolutionist, is certainly one of the most potent springs of revolution; there has hardly been a revolution for which Lamartine's remark about 1848, 'the revolution of contempt' would be altogether inappropriate. Hannah Arendt - "On Revolution" pg-260
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There is a very dangerous mood about. Simple contempt for the political representatives, the media and the giants of finance, abounds. This is an inflammable mass, like gasoline vapors, just waiting for a spark. So much contempt for others always contains much self-contempt, which is perhaps humanity's most murderous emotion.

America has the good fortune to possess noble, time-tested, institutions, but institutions without people to color in the lines are only historical curiosities to be studied in libraries. S
ociety and institutions are not one and the same thing. Great institutions, of themselves are not enough, the society that inhabits them counts for much more. Institutions and societies can be hollowed out and the process is mysterious to all who live through it. We must also include our new technologies in the mix; they lend the speed of light to man's natural cupidity and stupidity and make our era look even more sordidly tacky than it would if all we had were the steam engine and the telegraph to magnify our will and transmit our desires.

We have come to a point where,
with this alignment of the planets, in many countries around the world anything could happen. Only our long democratic history and our constitutional traditions reassure us that all will finally be well.

However, if we say that Guantanamo is twenty first century America's answer to habeas corpus, FISA, twenty first century America's answer to English common law, and Paulson's bailout,
twenty first century America's answer to free market capitalism; then how much of all that is really left?

A global village is bound to have a global village idiot.


Anonymous said...

habeas corpus only applies to american citizens, and FISA only applies to wiretapping foreigners or american citizens suspected of communicating with suspected terrorists in foreign countries not under our jurisdiction.

the paulson plan is a dangerous step away from our principles. not irreversible, but still dangerous.


RC said...

I debate that so much contempt for others always contains self contempt. I don't debate that we {or the US citizens} should be inspired by Robespierre.
I don't think the middle class in any towns or cities in the US will be rising up, however. They haven't so far, and what is happening now is just the consolidation of what has gone on since 2001.
On the other hand, I have now moved to the position where not only do I find the leadership of the US to be contemptible, but I find the citizens to be so too.
I don't live there and have not for decades. I am very sure, however, that they see themselves, supposed leaders and apparent followers all, as not responsible for any of the crises, political, constitutional or economic that have been assiduously attached to the hull of the Nation. The passengers on that ship would like to believe their actions or apathy were not involved. Indeed, they do believe that.
It is very late now to avert the rapid slowing of that ship, and the best that can be hoped for is to avoid foundering or visiting Davey Jones. The die was cast when the vote to invade, or to allow Bush to decide to invade Iraq, was taken: everything since was just the unraveling. But I still doubt very much that in the individual or group mindset in the US, contempt would be directed at the self. That isn't how unconsciousness works. Immaturity always seeks an exterior causation when calamity strikes.
Perhaps now the US body politic will move toward some wisdom. Of course, first, the pain will be setting in any month now.

RC said...

Out of curiosity I linked to your contempt URL. The rantings of a few media exposed famous Lesbians are hardly a good exhibit "A" for your contentions, and Mr. B. of that site is a clear obfuscator. Stitching together a number of facts and extrapolating odd opinions and behaviors to the population at large, or at least half of it, he makes his fractured theories whole.
For somebody. He has only met logic halfway at his little fiefdom.
I will concede that homophobia is rampant in the Latin and Black spheres in the US {I can only say so from studying opinion from afar, I admit}, but it is also rampant throughout the entire US population. Like racism, it just isn't cool to advertise your homophobia anymore. Laws pass when 50% of the lawmakers pass them. That doesn't mean that everyone agrees with them, or even that the majority of the population does.
Finally, I will also concede that I, personally, do have contempt for most of the media darlings in the US, no matter what their politics. I'm happy to live in a place and in such a way as to hardly ever be exposed to their images or ill-formed opinions.