Daily Archives: October 4, 2008

Revisiting The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

Why did that Milan Kundera novel come to mind as I thought about yesterday’s Vice-Presidential Candidates Debate? You will recall I was not much impressed by it. Janet Albrechtsen in today’s Oz finds Sarah Palin “charismatic”! My own view is that anyone who finds either Palin or Biden charismatic needs a new dictionary. And again, what debate? You may read the transcript and judge for yourselves. Sure, we had a number of exchanges of views, but we also had one participant who refused to engage time and again.

I thought of Kundera because of the erasure of what has really happened in Iraq since 2003, when John Howard put forth The Line so well that the current Canadian PM, then Opposition Leader there, used it verbatim, as we now now; and John stuck to that line as reality dissolved around him year after year. See for example some posts I put up along the way: John Howard on Iraq (October 22, 2007) and Want a cheap and nasty debate? Visit the Senate…  (December 5, 2006) lead you in turn to others back to 2003.

Palin wanted to forget everything older than six months in the Iraq story. She didn’t want to concede that the current problems in Afghanistan and on the Pakistan border areas might conceivably be as they are because Bush chose Baghdad as prime target and did not commit enough to Afghanistan. I am sure the idea that Al Qaeda had minimal interest or participation in Iraq before the US-led invasion may not pass muster with her, or her supporters. And yet it is true. To go even further back, of course, the idea that Al Qaeda itself, and the Taliban, are not unrelated to US policy towards Afghanistan in the later years of the Cold War would also be inscribed in the Book of Forgetting.

Renegade Eye has a good post on Al Qaeda.

Al Qaeda is talked about in a metaphysical manner. Stratfor presents an assessment that can be used, no matter what your viewpoint, to at least talk on the subject, with reality.

I am glad that there are promising signs in Iraq, after so many have died and so much has been ruined. I hope it works; having made a bum choice, Bush and the rest of us are stuck with the consequences and really do have to make the best of it. But it is hardly cause for patriotic chest-puffing…

As for the bail-out and what led to it, that may not be the world’s best idea, but a lot of wise heads say it has to happen, that money from The United Arab Emirates or China really is needed to save the US financial system from complete meltdown. We can but hope and pray, I guess.

But there has been an air of unreality about talk about this too. That was brought home to me by something Tony Delroy said on ABC’s Night Life last night: the figures mean that 70,000 US households per day — that is families, men, women — have been losing their homes! The numbers are simply staggering, and the human cost is also hard to conceive. This story helps.

As the vice-presidential candidates talked about the financial crisis gripping this country and the House and Senate sparred over the $700 rescue bill, the crisis got a little darker for at least one family as CNN reported that a 90-year-old woman shot herself in the wake of an eviction attempt. The woman, from Akron, OH, survived, and has become a flash point for the debate — she was mentioned on the floor of the House on Friday.

Foreclosures have all sorts of victims and we’ve been reporting on them since the beginning of the crisis, but the stories of real people may have gotten a little lost over the past few weeks as the banking crisis has spiraled out of control. How do you process the plight of one woman losing her home against the backdrop of a $700 billion rescue plan? Both are impossible to fathom. And this woman has not been the only one to come to national attention for attempting suicide — there was a case back in July of a Massachusetts woman who committed suicide as she faced eviction.

Perhaps as Congress considers the big picture of the financial crisis, it’s important that they are reminded of the very real human costs of our economic condition.

George Soros saw it coming, I should add. See The Age of Fallibility (2006) pp. 144-5 and 159-161.

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Posted by on October 4, 2008 in America, culture wars, current affairs, globalisation/corporations, right wing politics, terrorism, USA


Welcome: week ending 11 Oct 2008

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