The Talking Dog

May 1, 2009, May Day... or is it "Mayday! Mayday!"

Certainly, this occasion purportedly for the workers of the world to celebrate the achievements of the labor movement... may not quite work out that way this year, with riots all over Europe, ostensibly fueled by the financial and economic crisis now gripping the globe. While millions of Americans are feeling the hit here (and indeed, millions have lost their jobs here just in the last few months)... by and large, Americans seem eerily nonchalant about it... just as we seem to be eerily nonchalant about everything else... such as...

Well... we can talk about the financial and economic crisis it self. And so... let me be among the last to comment on this indispensable piece in The Atlantic by former International Monetary Fund chief economist and MIT Professor Simon Johnson entitled "The Quiet Coup: how Bankers Took Power, and How They're Impeding Recovery." The title pretty much says it all, and the point seems obvious: just as the dons of finance have seized economic power in the last decade or two (and I mean "dons" in exactly the sense that you think I do), that economic power is also political power. Which means, the financial sector is the main resistance against the absolutely critical restructuring (and, quite frankly, dismemberment) of the current oligarchy that commands the financial sector, including the prompt downsizing of entities that are too big to fail because quite frankly, such entities are too big to exist. Anyway... the scenarios painted therein are grim: our mega-bankers in the United States are behaving exactly as their counterparts have done in developing economies (think crony-capitalism on steroids)... grabbing what they can at the expense of taxpayers and whatever else they can steal... just like here, and now! [And this is true regardless of fools' rallies spouted by fool/shill journalists.) The fundamentals... ain't good. [We won't even talk about global warming...]

And we can talk about swine flu, which seems to have the crap scared out of public health officials from Queens to Queensland, but is taken with a strange nonchalance by many Americans... indeed, it seems, it is being reported that even researchers can't agree on its severity, which, insofar as that might or might not even be true, in turn, feeds into the rather confused and disconnected overall coverage of this flu, which some officials are treating as an all-out nightmare pandemic, while others (and certainly, most people I encounter in New York, perhaps led by our obsessively flippant Lord Mayor) seem to be treating this all with the total-- and frightening-- nonchalance, with which they seem to treat everything else.

And finally, we can also talk about the apparently significant fighting going on between Taliban insurgents and government forces within sixty miles of the capital. No, no... not Kabul, the capital of perennial basket-case and failed state Afghanistan, but Islamabad, the capital of shaky, but nuclear-armed Pakistan. The thing with the Taliban is, unlike the Iranian mullahs, they have a clear history of nastiness, and indeed, craziness, a history of state-sponsored terrorism... but no history of rationality at all. And these lunatic extremists, with the apparent connivance of a Pakistani establishment that can't quite think of them as "the enemy" (perhaps after so many years of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence Agency ("ISI") financing and supporting the Taliban all these years), are within two days' walk of control of Pakistan's capital, with Rawalpindi, home of Pakistan's military command and its nuclear program not much farther.

This last one: the possibility of confirmed psychopaths who enjoy blowing world treasures up, be they the World Trade Center or the Bayamon Buddhas, gaining control of a country of over 100 million people that also controls nuclear weapons. Let me just say that the total nonchalance from all corners... is scaring the hell out of me, anyway...

This has been... May Day... or is it "Mayday! Mayday!"