A Time Ripe to Do Right, Colltalers
‘We’ve done this for 51 weeks in 2013, sending Colltales editorial commentary to our friends every early Monday.’ That’s how we’ve started our Newsletter last week, in what became the first part, the first six months of the year, of a retrospective of some of the themes that dominated 2013.
Picking it right up where we’ve left it off, by July the revelations about NSA spying on common citizens, which is well above its stated purpose, had started to take hold of the national debate, and challenge the Obama administration’s intentionally dismissive tone denying them any merit.
By dispatching its minions to occupy media outlets with a rhetoric centered on a global manhunt for Edward Snowden, the government, through the Justice Dept., tried to divert what had become obvious: that the leaks were an intolerable violation of U.S. citizens’ constitutional rights.
The Supreme Court, meanwhile, made history by declaring the Defense of Marriage Law, and its ugly clones, unconstitutional, effectively opening the way for same-sex weddings nationwide, which was great, but failed voters miserably, by striking down a key Voting Rights Act component.
The results showed right away as many southern states moved to restrict access to minority voters, in what’ll be another attack on our electoral process going forward. Back to spying, the nightmarish reality of the existence of a parallel court system in the U.S. was finally confirmed.
We’re in shaky ground when hopes rest on August, and it wasn’t any different this time, as the SEC finally took an almost unknown bond trader to court, and fined Goldman Sachs $500 million for their roles in the great financial swindle of 2008, which is a drop in the bucket for the giant bank.
With net income close to $2 billion in a mere quarter, it was an obvious display of incompetence from a regulatory agency with subpoena powers. It got worst, when the DoJ fined Halliburton $200 thousand for destroying evidence related to its multibillion dollar Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
What takes 23 seconds for Halliburton to recoup, BP, the other culprit for the disaster, spends daily in ads trying to get out of its obligations.
Unsurprisingly, Pv. Manning was found guilty and Snowden became a target for the U.S. global intel, until he got stranded in Russia and was granted a temporary asylum. August also marked another grim milestone: the 1,000th journalist since 1992 was killed covering an armed conflict.
September will be forever stained by the 9/11, but we added some perspective mentioning the 9/11/1973 CIA-supported coup that deposed and killed Chilean president Salvador Allende. We’ve also added the anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, whose early demise has been greatly exaggerated.
But the biggest news of the period was the looming threat of yet another armed intervention by the U.S., this time in Syria. For a moment, it seemed all but inevitable, until a good old fashioned dose of diplomacy averted the crisis. Which is still on but could have become much worst.
When October broke, the NSA revelations (no, we won’t let it up) had become even more insidious via UN, with reports of U.S. spying into foreign corporations, diplomatic corps and even citizens, because, why stop there? The GOP was about to have its day in the (dark) sun, though.
And it was as ugly and disgusting as having a shotgun aimed at 300 millions heads, demanding them to go back on what they’d already reaffirmed in two presidential elections: Americans want jobs, more government support to the economy, not less, and are not interested in budget cuts.
Almost surprisingly, President Obama himself didn’t budge this time around. But almost six months later, with the cuts to unemployment and food stamps programs going into effect, even without casting the vote of the majority, the Republicans did score a victory then and now.
It didn’t help that the rollout of the president’s signature law, the Obamacare, was an inexcusable disaster, as it squandered precious political goodwill, wasted a great opportunity to exercise government efficiency, and showed exactly why a single payer system is still a better idea.
We’ve concluded the month with a quick view of the new pope’s style, the horrible witch hunt of the Roma in Europe, the chosen scapegoat for all evil, and the sad tale of how long it took Army Capt. William Swenson to get a Medal of Honor for his acts of heroism in Afghanistan.
Last month, we traced a fair but obviously one-sided comparison between two young titans of our era, Snowden and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and how their radically opposing characters have shaped the world we live in into a schizophrenic duality of absolute abhor and incredible hope.
Born within a year of each other, Zuckerberg, driven by ambition, became a billionaire with an invention that makes the scary prospect of a 24/7 surveillance state ever more possible, while penniless Snowden has added a courageous dimension of human dignity to what means to be a citizen.
Twice in November we were visited by the climate change issue, what’s causing to our world, and what we’ve been doing, or rather not, about it: Typhoon Haiyan left indelible scars in the Philippines, and a UN climate conference in Poland was hijacked by global polluters and their lobbyists.
Our centerpiece of the month, though, was Brazil and its process of reawakening to its past, while seriously reconsidering its options for the future. Since June, the whole country seems to be willing to go where it hasn’t before, even if it takes questioning the merit of hosting the World Cup.
There’s no question that the cup will happen, but the fact that Brazilians are even putting that on the table, along with painful recollections of the dark years of the military dictatorship signals progress towards a more equalitarian and enlightened society. Brazil can use that, no doubt about it.
And dark is the prefab tradition of Black Friday and its disgusting underbelly of bare knuckled crassness and greed, all wrapped into a senseless shopping marathon no different from the ancient Roman art of entertaining the crowds by staging them being devoured by wild beasts.
The month proceeded with no much hope of a last minute turnaround towards some badly needed, and under served, priorities, as yet another multination conference, this time over international trade, was taken over and dominated by a narrow agenda favoring the world’s biggest powers.
A timid provision of the Dodds-Frank set of regulatory reforms of the financial system went finally into effect, without much expectation that it’ll reign in on out of control banking practices, of betting against customers’ best interests or even adding more transparency to their inner workings.
As the year ends with the prospect of an extended recession, at least for millions of working and out-of-a-job stiffs, while corporations get ready for another boom of sky high profits, we need to resort to a certain measure of irrationality to wish us all the strength we’ll need coming January.
Fittingly, such irrationality may come from a dead hero, Nelson Mandela, whose powerful message of tolerance and hope in the future will certainly outlive the living and still serve as guiding lights to the children of our children and beyond. As he was laid to rest, we took a moment to reflect on the inspiring arch of his trajectory, and how in life and death he’s always managed to stop the world on its tracks and reset its priorities.
‘We must use time wisely and realize that it’s always ripe to do right,’ reads one of his better known quotes. We couldn’t improve on that even if we wanted to. Our best wishes to Colltales readers, for your kindness gracing us with the power of your attentive eyes and ears. Thank you all so very much.