It's August, the proverbial home of slow news days and famous for being the month
"you don't launch new products in."
And so... item the first... the swearing in of the nation's 112th Supreme Court justice, fourth woman, and I believe, youngest person, Elena Kagan I've stated my feelings on the subject.. The confirmation hearings have not changed my view... and as an added bonus, there is a strong possibility that Justice Kagan will have to recuse herself on any "national security" cases, effectively reversing Justice Stevens without having to go on record. No point in getting all "partisany;" my college classmate the President has 59 senators, and for Supreme Court nominees, the benefit of the gentlewomen from Maine (though the gentleman from Massachusetts made the reverse calculation)... meaning, the President could have chosen a genuine progressive, or a genuine intellectual giant, or both... and instead, like everything else he does, he went as conventional as it gets. There is this delusion that somehow "if only the Republicans get out of the President's way, he'll give us all this hope and change he promised." The reality is that the President IS getting what he wants: a nation safe for the military industrial complex, irresponsible oil drilling (and business practice in general), a health care plan more beneficial to insurers than to the public, and a conventional Supreme Court justice likely to be pro-business, and especially pro-Imperium. Elect an inexperienced highly conventional politician with an unnatural predilection toward other office holders.,. and you get what you get.
On to item the second: WaPo has found a Muslim survivor of a parent killed at the WTC on 9-11, who suggests "Greater Ground Zero" be "a religion free zone.". While others have said it as well, I'll defer to Jesse Taylor's smackdown. Short answer: there are lots of religious institutions around the WTC site, notably some Catholic churches... shall we bulldoze them too... or is freedom of religion really a core American value?
And on to item the third, this suggestion from Edmund Phelps, one of my alma mater's many Nobel laureates, that what we need is a more sensible industrial policy (actually, my words, not Prof. Phelps'; I suspect the idea that our government actually acknowledge its role in interfering in our economy is some kind of taboo subject for public intellectuals to express). Phelps suggests encouraging investment in all sectors, particularly lower wage as well as high-tech, high-skill jobs.
The "value added" the few dozen of you still with me have come to expect here at TTD is... the synthesis of these three divergent strands. Thing is: a country so parochial and so afraid of its ass that something as great a symbol of tolerance and pluralism as a cool, progressive Muslim mosque a few hundred yards from a construction site (and when finished, an office complex) is something we're afraid of... or a country whose political leaders think that a woman with impeccable academic career who has managed to excel as athe ultimate conventional toady, be it of Larry Summers or of Barack Obama, is somehow "a bold choice"... is probably not the kind of country that has what it takes anymore to be a world leader in... anything.
And there you have it: courage first... everything else follows. I fear that without that key ingredient, and our corporate overlords and their captive media, in the interest of stamping out any kind of human dignity, let alone "class-consciousness" or any other threat to it,.. may have stamped out the genuine courage that this nation once had (the real kind... not merely the kind associated with bringing mass murder to foreigners). Most people have become "small c" conservative-- just trying to hold on to their ever-shrinking piece of the pie, and not seeing the big picture-- or even that the big picture is corrupt and should be reformed, if not smashed. And until we have the kind of "courage" to believe that freedom really means "nothing left to lose," (don't ask me how we'll get it), we can expect the economic and existential malaise to continue until the final implosion,
Pretty? No. But that's how it is. This has been... Sunday Sunday.