Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Election Recess

Remember those days as a kid
When school was nothing but fun
As down the slide you slid
And life had just begun
Responsibility was off in the mist
As you checked out and read the books
On and off the reading list
And then remember the looks
When the bell for recess rang
And glee painted each face
While we cheerfully sang and sang
With joy for the human race

The 2012 election is over and it appears that sanity prevailed by about 3 million votes.  So now it is recess and we can sing and breathe a sigh of relief that we will not have to do this again for another 4 years.  Or, can we afford to take recess?  Aside from the threats of secession and more threats from Grover Norquist to scuttle the sequestration process, jobs are increasing and the economy is building, if not booming.  Is there a need for concern?  We may need a recess, if only to think.

Virginia, there really is no Santa Claus.  The fundamental mechanisms that were operating prior to the election have not abated. In fact, they have accelerated by those bent on changing our way of life to the image of a simpler two-class society.  “Smaller Government” is actually a euphemism for selected application of government.  The GOP has not historically produced a government smaller in numbers.  In fact, GW Bush grew the government astronomically.  It changed, however.  We put two major wars on our credit cards and we outsourced many of the functions to well-connected private firms who charged multiples of standing government rates for logistics and security operations in and out of combat zones.  Romney wanted to add ships that the DOD never asked for and he was only the GOP candidate.  A dozen other GOP leaders have made similar proposals before and since the election.  The rhetoric says “small,” but the reality says “big.”  Twenty-four states have GOP super-majorities.  Many of those states have refused the insurance exchanges for the Affordable Care Act (with the first 3 years being paid for by the federal government) and yet they have enacted legislation that cuts other funding for healthcare such as Planned Parenthood services that are mostly preventive care and 97% non-abortion services.  Worse, they have MANDATED intrusive ultrasound procedures that must be paid for by the women being forced to undergo them.  As they swell the government for women who swell, they also swell the government to enforce “carry your papers” laws in many of these states, especially Arizona.

All this points to rigid ideology that lost the national election, but stays rooted in the GOP platform, despite the majority presidential vote.  Curiously, GOP pundits have mainly supported the losing platform but have decried how the message was packaged.  “If we only changed how we talked with Latinos, they would have voted for us.”  “We would have won and been the majority.”  Wrong again.  Asians (70%) also voted for Obama despite not being singled out for slander as Latinos were…or ordered to present papers showing citizenship based mainly on their looks.  If we look into the private sector, wages have again become the focus for millions of Americans who are not able to earn a living wage.  The Papa John’s Pizza CEO announced elimination of full time work because of the Affordable Care Act saying it would increase the price for pizza by 14 CENTS (turns out to be only 4 cents).  Yet, he gave away 2 million pizzas even as he embellished the pizza price increase.  Major restaurant chains have eliminated full time work and have slashed wages to $2.13/hour and forced pooling of tips.  The Hostess Baking Company filed for bankruptcy rather than bake Twinkies and pay a living wage.  Once again, management wanted to force lower wages on employees for a company that was poorly run.  Those workers suffered a wage cut from $45,000 annually to $35,000 at the last restructuring in 2004.  As they announced lower wages this time, the employees went on strike, but the CEO had just tripled his salary and senior executives had just doubled theirs.  The unions even made concessions adding to $110 Million/year.  Hostess spent nothing on new equipment, products or processes.  So the union is to blame?  Of course.  I get it.  If we could only get happy slaves, we could have more rich executives.  This from the party of Lincoln?  All this has the odor of maximizing the value of executives no matter how incompetent and minimizing the value of labor, no matter how competent. 

Two Koch brothers were recently found to have funded the NO campaign on California Proposition 30 (a tax to support schools) and the YES campaign for Proposition 32 (union killing by demanding specific member permission to spend money on political campaigns).  While I can understand union killing and not agree with it, the money spent to kill education smacks of a desperate attempt to avoid the support of the middle class.  Are we witness to crass attempts to frustrate socio-economic mobility?  Since the start of the latest recession, 97% of the added wealth has gone to the top 2% of our American society.  The middle class has lost ground in the last decade.  People are working longer and harder at more and more minimum wage jobs and some companies have put that limbo bar even lower by going sub-minimum, like Olive Garden and Red Lobster, or moving to China like Sensata Technologies (a Bain Company in Freeport, IL).  Sensata has been wildly profitable with over a half $ Billion profit in each of the last 3 quarters, but their average wage while making that profit was $18/hour, while it will be $ 1/hour in China.  Worse, much as a sordid 19th Century novel, Bain-Sensata made the US employees train their Chinese counterparts before they moved the equipment to China.

At what point do the middle and lower classes collapse to subsistence levels of existence?  We are currently on a trajectory to widespread poverty.  Forgive me for invoking Charles Dickens again, but we are repeating the painful history of the 19th Century and the “Roaring 20s” of more recent times when the obscene and ostentatious living of the wealthy was coupled with deliberate abuse of workers and their families.  It led to unions that are not in vogue or power today when only 7% of manufacturing is represented by unions.  Most employees now sign mandatory arbitration clauses to have any protection at all.  They cannot complain.  They cannot sue and, more importantly, they cannot strike or their jobs will be outsourced to China.  Child labor has again become an issue for employers seeking progressively cheaper labor.  In 2008, some 389 undocumented immigrants were apprehended, working in a kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa.  Of these, some 57 were minors as young as 13. Meatpacking is notorious for safety violations.  Being both undocumented and underage, worker ability to protest is nil.  Exploitation?  Of course not.  That is merely prudent management to make a buck for shareholders after rewarding executives. Unfortunately, things have only become worse as highlighted by the 2012 practices of Apple in China (at Foxconn where 14 year olds were earning $.20 / hour during 60 hour work-weeks) despite the efforts of “Free the Children” as seen on 60 Minutes. Incidentally, Foxconn produces about 40% of all electronic products regardless of brand name, so Apple is not the only abuser of Chinese child labor.

Mussolini aptly called his brand of Fascism “corporatism.”  His early government moves were designed to eliminate unions.  At this moment, we have powerful corporations that have more rights than breathing people.  It was Mitt Romney who callously explained at a 2012 campaign rally: “Corporations are people, my friend.”   With a nod to the Supreme Court, perhaps we need government intervention again, but on the side of breathing people, this time.  There are yet hidden ironies about all this.  In the headlong movement to lower wages, saying that any job is better than none, two things happen; first, an offending company like Hostess stops looking for ways to improve business practices and it relies on the worker to assume the burden of achieving profit goals; secondly, at some point, workers have insufficient disposable income with which to purchase the goods and services of the offending company.  Even Henry Ford, who was an ultra-conservative even by today’s standards, knew that he had to pay workers enough to afford his automobiles.  That knowledge appears to have been lost on today’s business scions.  Wal-Mart (our nation’s largest employer) avoids worker benefits and counsels employees to apply for Medicaid and even food stamps so it can dodge that benefit expense.  It avoids full time employees so that contributions to pensions and Social Security are minimized or avoided.  An inherent irony with Wal-Mart is that the US and each state must support Wal-Mart because of our laws.  Yet, many of those who swear by Wal-Mart prices quickly forget that Wal-Mart requires government subsidies for its company through its workers, thus creating an image of self sufficiency that is a fraud by increasing both Wal-Mart profits and taxes by ordinary Americans.

Let me summarize the mechanisms at play here.  Yes, Obama won the election by a wide margin.  However, 24 states have governments that are in direct conflict with the concept of ”Commonwealth.”  They promote “right to work” rules that crush collective bargaining and result in lower wages that do not approach living wages.  The Supreme Court decision to permit unlimited political contributions has unleashed the hounds of hell upon collective bargaining and worker’s rights.  Education, that was the ladder out of poverty for generations, has been snuffed by high tuition and low investment.  Education is no longer the engine for technology and creating jobs.  Access to healthcare by lower and middle class families has declined, especially for women, due to states reducing Medicaid and even Planned Parenthood.  Corporations have continued to depend on worker concessions instead of innovation and sound management.  Increasingly generous inheritance rules have made it easier to sit on money rather than invest it at risk.  The middle class was decimated in the last recession.  Public workers were eliminated by the thousands with no hope of returning to work and no private economy opportunities paying living wages.  Austerity which has already sent much of Europe into a second recession is being praised by conservatives to solve a deficit condition before people get back to work at good jobs.  We Know that will guarantee economic failure and cause increased pain and personal suffering that will accompany a second recession so close to the last.  The fact that the House of Representatives passed only ideological bills bodes ill for the Republic because it lacks the possibility of compromise.  The House appears to focus on its prurient interests in private bedrooms rather than expansive boardrooms.  The rules of the Senate essentially ensure minority rule thus supporting gridlock.  Obama won a mandate that the losers are unwilling to acknowledge despite the overwhelming plurality in votes.

Many conservatives want government to be run as a business.  It is not a business and running our government that has a mission statement, not to make a profit, but to protect and help all its citizens grow and prosper, requires different goals and different means.  We need only to look at the history of failed businesses to demonstrate the folly of that proposal.  HP is suffering from a loss of more than $ 5 Billion from its decision to buy software that is useless for today’s products of smart-phones, etc.  GM created Saturn as a whole new company to avoid unions only to discover a couple decades later that the wholly new company sans unions was unable to make a dollar.  GM dysfunctional management followed GM to a right to work state.  GM nearly went out of business because of weak management.  When GM had to spin off Delco parts and it became Delphi, the stock price went to 77 cents and Mitt Romney made millions selling it at $ 22, none of which went to GM. Digital Equipment Company (DEC) was a formidable computer company that failed to keep pace with the trend in smaller computers.  Kodak failed to keep pace with digital photography.  Corn alcohol producers provide a product that requires more energy than it produces and it sponges off taxpayers by continuing its subsidy appetite. BP criminally cut corners on safety and environmental protection and caused a human global economic and environmental disaster.  Xerox became arrogant about its unique position in the photocopy industry but failed to keep up its engineering and even its customer relations.  Japanese technology easily outpaced Xerox with better equipment and service.  Run the nation as a business?  Really?  And we should do this by having people that openly hate government transform it into a business?

We are in the middle of a very short recess.  Don’t wait for the bell to ring.  Enjoy yourself, but be prepared to get with your friends to create some workable solutions.  Time is running out.  We need to get our government(s) to support our people…the ones that breathe. We cannot wait until the next election to fix problems or allay the pain.  Fix problems now, one at a time.  Build a middle class.

George Giacoppe
27 November 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

You Can't Kill Them All

One of the things that occurs to me as I watch the horror videos of Israeli airstrikes once again battering the 1.5 million defenseless people of the Gaza strip with U.S.-supplied rockets, bombs and god knows what else, is that though the Israeli military, with American help, has the capacity to kill all the Palestinians, it can’t quite bring itself to do it. This is not because its own public opinion would object. According to a report by Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada (, recent rallies by Israeli citizens and remarks by its public officials indicate that a large portion of Israelis would like nothing better. Gilad Sharon, the son of former prime minister Ariel Sharon, for example, recently said this:
            We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza.Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop withHiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire. (emphasis added by Abunimah)
No, it’s because, despite the wonderful example of the United States (which Israel could in fact follow exactly with its arsenal of hundreds of nuclear weapons), Israel fears the negative world opinion that might result. This is due to the fact that most Americans still believe Israeli propaganda—that it is this lonely democracy trying to defend itself from hordes of crazed Arabs and Muslims out to destroy it.
            As to why Arabs and Muslims side with the Palestinians, neither Israel nor the United States media ever really addresses that. The “conflict” or “war” is always presented as if it just broke out spontaneously, usually when the Palestinians do something bad, and Israel has no choice but to “defend its people.” ‘They fired rockets at us. They have fired over a thousand rockets at us. They have even fired rockets as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem! And their rockets don’t try to avoid killing civilians, as ours do.’ As if the Palestinians, a refugee population under as severe a military blockade as has ever existed, could even get their hands on sophisticated rocket systems capable of precise targeting. And as if poor little Israel did nothing, has never done anything to incite that pathetic rocket fire.
            The truth, though, is that both historically and proximally, Israel has been provoking and attacking and ethnically cleansing and starving the Palestinians for the better part of a century. Most recently, they shot and killed a mentally deficient boy who wandered too close to their security fence keeping Gazans in their open-air prison. And shortly after that, eviscerated another young boy playing soccer—apparently a suspect activity for Gazans. And shortly after that brought off one of their “targeted assassinations” by killing the Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari and his son with a drone strike on his car. (Here again, the imitation of one nation’s tactics by another is haunting: after Israel’s success with these targeted killings—no arrest, no charges, no trial, just kill the bastard—the Obama administration has adopted this tactic as its favorite in Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere.) As to the history, a recent piece by renowned Israeli historian Ilan Pappe reminds us of just how commonplace and enduring Israel’s attempt to get rid of the Palestinian people entirely has been. What Pappe reminds us—in a piece whose main burden is to show how even today, the ethnic cleansing operation known by Palestinians as the Nakba is continuing in the plan to forcefully remove 70,000 Beduoins from the Negev Desert, their home for millennia—is that the very term Nakba was first used by Israel’s military. Here is part of his discussion:
Long before the Palestinians themselves understood what was the essence of the Israeli master plan to expel them, and the far-reaching implications of the country’s ethnic cleansing, the perpetrators themselves found an adequate term in Arabic to describe it: Nakba (catastrophe)….The term was mentioned for the first time not in Arab or Palestinian sources but in Israeli military intelligence sources. It appeared in leaflets the Israeli air force distributed during those ten days in July on the eve of a very singular attack on a village or a town….The leaflets demanded in the main the “peaceful” eviction of the village and its surrounding areas. If not, the leaflets warned, the village would be severely punished. We do not have all the leaflets but here is the one rained on the huge and beautiful village of al-Tira near Haifa in the middle of July 1948:
“The sword will cut your throats without pity or compensation. If you insist and continue with your wrong doing … you should know that our airplanes, tanks and artillery will grind your village to dust, shell your houses, break your back, uproot you from your land … and your village will become a desert. Oh the people of al-Tira, if you wish to avoid a Nakba [sic] … surrender. The victorious Israeli army has already demolished the criminal hotbeds of Jaffa, Acre, Tiberias and Safad. It has occupied tens of villages in the south and the north, and this triumphant army will destroy you in several hours.” (Ilan Pappe,, 20 July 2012)
            It is, of course, this very Nakba (a term recently proscribed by an Israeli law upheld by its courts; the authorities don’t like being reminded of the murderous theft their nation has engaged in any more than Americans like being reminded of ours) and its final solution that Palestinians have been fighting in any way they can. What else can a people like the Gazans, blockaded on land, sea and air, whose airport and most other infrastructure including potable water has been destroyed, whose fishermen cannot fish, whose economy—what was left of it—was destroyed in the 2008 Israeli invasion and who now, 80% of them, live on the relief food provided by UNRWA (with Israel fiendishly calculating how many calories a day will prevent Gazans from starving, but “keep them on a diet”)—what can such people do to salvage a sliver of dignity other than protest? Other than fight back against their occupier? Other than launch a stone or a curse or a rocket?
            To be met, when they do so, by a mainstream media in the U.S. and Britain describing the resulting massacre as a “war.” A “rocket war.” As if there were two roughly equivalent nations engaged on a field of battle. As if a people with no protection whatever, no anti-aircraft system, no system of air-raid shelters, no air force, no artillery, no military equipment to speak of other than what can be smuggled in through tunnels, can be at war with one of the most modern, best-equipped, nuclear powers in the world. It’s an absurdity. There can be no war between two such antagonists. Which is really what frustrates the Israelis. If only they could go all out and flatten Gaza, as most Israelis seem to prefer. If only they could somehow magically “disappear” all of the Palestinians, not over time, not little by little as they have been doing, but instantly, quickly, with some sort of death ray that would leave no trace.            
           Fortunately, there is still an outside world, still world opinion, still a few people of conscience left in the world who can express their outrage, and more important, an elected government now in Egypt run by the elder brother of the Hamas regime in Gaza (the Muslim Brotherhood). This is why there is now talk of a cease-fire. This is why there is now a trip to the region by Hillary Clinton. This is why the Israeli army apparently won’t be unleashed for a second time in five years to go house to house on their killing spree. They know that “killing them all” would not play well on the nightly news, much less in an increasingly-inflamed Arab world. Even killing a dozen or so from one family is met with hand-wringing in the world press. So if ‘killing them all’ is to have any chance, it will probably have to be the slow holocaust that has been in progress now for over sixty years. And the world will have to go on lamenting the ‘stubborn’ nature of this ‘conflict,’ and American presidents will have to go on blessing poor Israel’s “right to defend itself” until, it hopes, as Israelis hope, there will one day be no more Palestinians to defend against.
            But oh, how long that might take. And oh, wouldn’t it be so much cleaner and easier if killing them all were still an option.
Lawrence DiStasi

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Election High

I don’t know about you, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching the election returns last night. It was a little like watching the World Series, only with all four games coming in one night. And like the recent series, it was a virtual “sweep” for the team I was rooting for, team Obama. All that was missing, for me at least, was the chance to be a fly on the wall of Romney headquarters—it’s always interesting to see how losers respond—or even better, on the wall of Repuglican headquarters in Mississippi or Alabama or Kentucky or Texas. To be able to observe how these folks reacted to the outcome they most dreaded—the “black socialist” in the White House for four more years—would’ve been sweet indeed. As it was, it was pretty sweet to see how the mainstream pundits reacted. Most kept trying to keep up the pretense that “anything could happen,” and “it’s far from over yet,” when, in fact, the election was over pretty early in the evening. CBS was already predicting that Ohio was “leaning” to Obama by around 7PM if I remember correctly. They had Nevada “leaning” too. Then when Wisconsin fell to the President, and Pennsylvania came through as well, the writing was on the wall for all to see—the President had not only won, but would win big.
            The only real mystery in this election was how Romney did as well as he did in the first place. The guy is a robot. And a Mormon to boot—Mormonism being the weirdest religion ever invented, not to mention the most racist (Mormons traditionally believed that Black people descended directly from Cain—you know, the guy who killed his brother Abel and then wondered if he were his brother’s keeper—pretty appropriate, come to think of it, for a capitalist like Romney). And made his money in leveraged buyouts, perhaps the most heartless form of financial skullduggery yet invented by the Wall Street boys. I mean of all the candidates that a Repuglican party might have selected to represent them, could anyone imagine they’d choose the one most easily caricatured as the essence of rapacious, self-aggrandizing, look-out-for-number-one, white-bread capitalism? And yet they did, holding their collective Tea Party noses as they did so, or not. All of which goes to show that once again, Barack Obama is the luckiest politician alive when it comes to the self-destructive dopes who run against him.

So the mantra of the Clinton administration, it’s the economy, stupid, ought to be amended here: it’s the Repugs, stupid. I mean, they’ve invested their whole strategy in a vanishing constituency: mostly old, mostly southern, mostly racist, sexist white guys. And suddenly, last night, there they were, looking around and wondering if perhaps they ought to figure out another way to win elections. And all you had to do was compare the crowd in Obama’s Chicago headquarters, with the crowd in Romney’s Boston mausoleum—all older, white, lookalike and increasingly grim faces in the latter (at one point they started to sing, to scream, really, God Bless America; which was quite eerie); a rainbow of colors and types and smiles on the faces of the mostly young, dancing, flag-waving crowd with a sense of destiny in the former. Two Americas. One dying. The other coming into its own like a gathering tide. What’s hardest to understand is how these older, and presumably wiser folk can’t seem to get this. Or maybe they can. Maybe that’s what really animates them: their sense of foreboding and growing certainty that rich as they are, powerful as they are and have always been, their days are numbered. That, amazingly, they are not going to able to “take back the last century” as they had hoped. And from my perspective, it couldn’t be happening to a more deserving bunch of dinosaurs.
            What remains, now, is for the progressives who have had to live through all of Obama’s ditherings these past four years to figure out how to keep his feet to the fire. Because the table is now set for a still-hopeful Obama (as was clear in his speech last night) to bend over backwards once again to try to get people who hate his guts to make nice with him to “solve the country’s problems.” Uh oh. Here we go again. Here we go into Grand Bargain time. And if Obama, as representative of the left, can be pressured into yielding ground on the basic social contract enacted by FDR and Johnson and the rest—Social Security and Medicare and Civil Rights and Rowe v Wade—in order to get the Repugs to agree to raise taxes a hair, then his re-election campaign would be better off having failed. The point is to keep that from happening. It may take marches and demonstrations and civil disobedience. It may take more (I keep having this fantasy of Wall St bankers barricaded in their gated mansions, with marauding bands of desperate workers howling outside). But whatever it takes, it’s going to have to be done because we know, now, after four years, that Barack Obama will only respond to popular pressure. If he’s left to his own advisers and his own instincts, he’ll allow himself to be rolled again and again by filibustering Repugs.
            So here’s to last night. And here’s to Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin. And here’s to the end of Romney. And here’s also to the coming struggle; because as we should all know by now,  election victories are only the first step in a marathon. As we in California found out to our horror when the $36 million dollar campaign to defeat Proposition 37, (a modest attempt to force the food industry to label genetically modified foods—what a concept!), succeeded in so confusing the masses that they voted it down. How anyone could vote against knowing exactly what one is putting in one’s body is beyond me, but a majority actually did. So don’t think the oil barons or the corporate food kings or the Walton family or the pharmaceutical drips or the military-industrial hogs or the banksters are finished. They’ll be out in force, perhaps greater force than ever. And it falls to us, the people, to do everything possible to curb that power, to bring it to heel, and keep it there.

Lawrence DiStasi

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Kismet for Christians

Kismet is fate after all
And God has a grand plan
That we might never call
On Him to help a man
Overcome predestination
Or use our will to make a path
To a higher calling or station
Without engaging His wrath
And after watching the tape
It was God who planned the rape
In Mourdock’s fundamentalist logic
But I think that makes me sick

The far right has struck again and their logic is indisputable.  Rape of women is in God’s plan, therefore we should embrace rape as an opportunity to make babies.  Richard Mourdock (Indiana) then went on to explain his remarks by agreeing that rape is horrible, but that because it is part of God’s plan, we should embrace the results.  Surely, I am no theologian, but does that not assume that we have no free will and cannot chart our own course in life?  Even more recently, John Koster (Washington) demonstrated that he would not allow free will for the woman raped.  I know that the GOP prides itself as the party of freedom, but it begs the question of freedom for whom.  How can this party of “small government” that would cut FEMA funding by 40% if Paul Ryan’s plan is approved, also be the party of treating women like property?  I used quotes on small government because that is the GOP mythology although it is unsupported by recent experience when Bush II grew government at a faster rate and greater size than anybody in recent history.  Practically speaking, there is a “morning after” pill that would prevent conception, but since these social extremists will not permit contraception, the woman raped is not only scorned, but sentenced to carry the child of a hostile sexual attack.

If this were not alarming enough, there is more.  In 31 states, rapists have custody and visitation rights.  These are the same rights as other fathers have.  Tell me again that this is jurisprudence and not weighted insanity that continues to place the woman in jeopardy.  Tell me that this is not some twisted law of property that allows the defiler equal rights with the defiled.  This validates Todd Akin and his insanity, but does not do much for women or for children.  It validates the sick notion that women are merely chattel to be controlled by the state, while corporations have all the freedoms of real persons.  Cuddly Mittens Romney put it so well:  “Corporations are people, my friend.” 

Lest you think that insanity is limited to a sociopathic treatment of women, there is more.  The recent and tragic Superstorm Sandy points to another form of insanity.  Here, Mittens has clearly sided with corporations over people who feel hunger, cold, pain and physical suffering.  His statement during the Republican primaries would have had each state deal with the searing pain and destruction caused by Sandy to be faced by each state individually (“and preferably by private enterprise.”)  Actually, we saw the effects of promoting the use of private enterprise during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when GW Bush failed to preposition resources to permit immediate response to help save lives and property.  It was weeks after the initial storm before significant help arrived and it was largely through questionable contracts for goods and services that were not certified.  The housing purchased from vendors by the government was chemically contaminated and the death toll was immediately over 1,800 with estimates that exceed 4,000 if we include the following weeks of turmoil.   As a trained logistician, my observation is that the apathy and incompetence demonstrated by a regime that hated government led to monumental errors and criminal folly.  Not only was the housing unhealthy, but payments made for shipping and counter-shipping fuel and ice and water and medicine was outrageously high and uncontrolled.  Worse, it did not get to the real people who needed it.   Corporations were paid.  The response was late and uncoordinated despite Bush’s assertion:  “You’re doing a hell of a job, Brownie.”   Ironically, horse manager Brown (the butt of Katrina gallows humor) has now claimed that Obama moved too soon for Sandy.  If you hate government and government saves people, what does that say about your concern for people?  Maybe it was Kismet again (God’s will that people drown, die of exposure, lack food, medicine and shelter?)  I will not only stick with the concept that the federal government has a responsibility to help the helpless, but also that I prefer my God to theirs.  Maybe I don’t have the “rapture,” but I have love and a command to “love my neighbor as myself.”  (Today’s gospel tor those who care.)  Government is as government does, and being tardy for a storm is unconscionable.  What could be more effective than coordinated federal government action for a storm that affected at least 13 states.  Surely it would be less quick or effective to wait for the storm to begin contract talks with vendors for goods and services.  Add to that the reality that once the storm hit, that states and individuals would be at the mercy of corporations that do not exhibit that “mercy” quality of personhood.  The bottom line does not include mercy.

This brings me to my last point about Kismet.  Kismet and blaming God for the bad things in life is common with fundamentalists including certain Islamic and Christian sects.  This creates new mythologies.  These can then be exploited by the unscrupulous to avoid the pressure of improving lives and taking responsibility for helping others.  It simultaneously dampens the motivation of the uneducated and the poor to better themselves, for it is Kismet, after all.  This means that we do not need to concern ourselves with the melting of the polar ice caps or the rising waters of Florida and Bangladesh or the extreme heat and cold of the past couple decades or the effect of the Koch brothers’ bituminous coal or other fossil fuels or ways to reduce carbon emissions.  Pretty neat, right?  We can do as we damn well please and then blame God.  Whether you believe in God or not, that is surely convenient and effective.  Who is going to question it?  Bush essentially said:   “How was I to know.  Nobody predicted it.”  The truth is that Katrina was predicted as was Sandy and we have experienced enough storms to know what can happen.  Blame it on big government for rapes and small government for storms, but please don’t blame it on God.  Blame climate change on ignorance of remedies or fundamentalism to avoid confronting it, but if you won’t acknowledge that the earth is older than 6,000 years, you are either severely conservative or severely (intellectually) handicapped.  Go vote.

George Giacoppe
04 November 2012