Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Say what?

Yes, it's been a while. We are winding down the Summer A semester (today was my last class session) and the preceding six weeks have been somewhat hectic. But I'll try to take time to make a few comments about things people have said recently.

Here's "Newt" Gingrich, on June 9, reacting to President Barack Obama's self-characterization as a "citizen of the world":
"I am not a citizen of the world. I think the entire concept is intellectual nonsense and stunningly dangerous!"
Is a doctorate in history really this easy to obtain? As I suggested Monday in my class on peoples and cultures of the world, the Columbian Exchange, which began in the fall of 1492 when Christopher Columbus ran into the Americas on his way to Asia, made everyone a citizen of the world. Columbus set in motion the process we now refer to as globalization. He did this by bringing together the First Earth (Eurasia, Africa) and the Second Earth (the Americas), regions that had been substantially separated from each other for at least 10,000 years except for a minor incursion here and there (the Vikings in northeastern North America, for example). This set in motion a vast transfer of people, plants, animals, ideologies, and technologies between the two Earths, so that they became, in effect, one.

Consider sugar. Columbus brought sugar cane, a plant native to Papua New Guinea, which was already being grown and processed around the Mediterranean, with him to the Americas. It soon became far more important to the European merchant classes than the precious metals of Mexico and Perú. The profits made by European based corporations from the cultivation and processing of sugar cane by enslaved Africans working on plantations in the New World fueled the Industrial Revolution. In addition, the sugar plantation became the model for the developing factory mode of production; and, the machinery used on the plantations was the product of some of the earliest industrial factories.

We are all, like it or not, citizens of the world.

Moving on. Here's John McCain calling attention to the possibly questionable reelection of President Ahmadinejad in Iran on NBC's Today show, June 16:
"He should speak out that this is a corrupt, fraud, sham of an election. The Iranian people have been deprived of their rights."
Who remembers him saying anything like this about G. W. Bush's "election" in 2000 (or 2004, for that matter)? Hypocrisy, thy name is McCain. Enough said.

Moving further on, here's Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) bloviating over the Obama Administration's attempts to reform the way access to health care is provided here in the US:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said President Barack Obama's plan to include government-backed health insurance for the public is a "non-starter" for most Republicans considering health care reform.

Appearing on CBS' Face The Nation Sunday, McConnell told host Bob Schieffer that Mr. Obama's plan for a government health insurance plan would essentially crowd out other insurers from the private market, eliminating competition.
McConnell makes me reluctant to admit that I was born in Kentucky. He wants access to health care to be determined by "competition" among mega-extortion agencies like Blue Cross/Blue Shield, AvMed, and United Health. Folks without insurance can live or die, but the corporation must endure. What makes people like him think like this? Anthropologically, it's tempting, and probably not far off the mark, to chalk it up to US-style independence training and the culture of capitalism. But it's also emotionally tempting to just call McConnell and the others who think like him (and there are plenty) evil swine. Explanation does not always bring satisfaction.

Summing up, right-wingers in the US...
  • ... believe that Americans should think of themselves as totally insulated from the rest of the world;
  • ... can spot a rigged election thousands of miles away, but not in their own back yard;
  • ... want people to live or die for the profit of the "insurance" industry.
This is the thinking of psychotics and sociopaths.

1 comment:

  1. In my darker moments I wonder if we're just chimpanzees with a very thin veneer of civilization. It's discouraging that most of the time logic and reason seem to play such a small part in our decisions and actions. Perhaps our actions spring from some primitive decision making process and only afterward do we decorate our decision with the semblance of logic and reason.

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