When the mundane becomes revelatory, when banal pronouncements are considered startling epiphanies, when orchestrated spectacle is considered the apex of statesmanship; a society is fast approaching the finish line in its race to the bottom.
The corrupt leaders of society’s broken institutions remain busy spinning a self serving zeitgeist of denial, sowing gardens of ubiquitous ambivalence. The liturgy of mass self delusion anoints a polity comfortably numb and safely ensconced in a political paralysis; keeping the Bozos bouncing along on the bus sans wheels, happily enthralled in the reverie of their disillusionment.
Sarah Palin, looking slim and extremely fit slugs down a mega calorie Big Gulp on the CPAC dais. Sarah’s slurp becomes an iconic moment in GOP history, as fawning star struck conservatives believe it to be the symbolism of a new Statue of Liberty.
Morning Joe stuffing handfuls of Captain Crunch into his mouth to tweak the eat healthy nose of liberal manikin Mika, cheers the American driving public for making the 6 mpg Super Duty pickup the best selling truck in the USA. Morning Joe relishes any opportunity to confirm the resplendent truth of America’s voracious appetite for radical entitlement.
Newly elected Pope Francis closes his first Sunday address by advising visiting pilgrims to “have a good lunch” and the media falls all over itself with adulatory elation.
In a world understood as a branded sound bite, the affirming credo an individual adopts as holy gospel is self serving institutional propaganda that vigilantly defends the status quo.
In such a world, sound bites have become a school of famished piranhas that are devouring the body of rational understanding and the ability to peek beyond the veil of obfuscation.
The messages and symbolism signaled from our leaders and political celebrities is clear, loyal constituents are offered an absolution to remain stuck in the certitude ensuring the perpetuation of failing institutions badly in need of reform.
The CPAC crowd cheers Palin’s clownish moxie as she charges the battlements of Bloomberg’s Nanny State. Though I wonder if Palin’s salute to Seven Eleven was more of a product placement exercise than astute Kabuki theater; Palin’s masterful pandering played well to the partisans. She brought down the house and successfully sidestepped the issue of a commercial food chain that is progressively poisoning their customers with unhealthy food due to lax regulatory oversight, harmful food additives and corn fructose syrup infused processed food that is driving an obesity epidemic amongst the poor and minorities residing in the food deserts of America’s cities.
Palin’s showmanship appeals to the growing libertarian streak in the GOP. Let the market decide is the mantra. The jury is out but when the toxic food chain has killed off enough of the process food industries customers, General Foods will hire a Stanford MBA as a new product manager to design and market better foods for a better world. After all that’s how responsible job creators work.
Mornings Joe’s insistence on his free market right to be a mindless consumer is codified in the divine celestial ledgers of Laissez-faire capitalism. His fattened bank balance is the sole moral imperative to drive an inefficient gas guzzling truck that poisons the environment with carbon emissions. This is the same mind set that insists on building vacation homes on barrier islands. If a major storm destroys the dwelling so be it. FEMA and private insurance have socialized the risk to preserve the right of these homesteaders to settle on endangered land, tipping into the swelling seas, fueled by a changing climate brought on by excessive carbon emissions from Morning Joe’s Super Duty.
In the aftermath of the Newtown Massacre the yearning of citizens to strengthen gun control laws is met by the intransigent commercial interests of gun manufacturers. In a society bleeding from gun violence the NRA got busy greasing the palms of senators with filthy lucre to encourage diligence to protect 2nd amendment right to market high powered automatic rifles and 30 round magazines that can spray instant death into a room full of 1st graders.
Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the NRA gave an impassioned speech at the same CPAC conference pointing to “the Washington elites” and “liberal media” as the root of all evil. States LaPierre, …gun control advocates “insult [us], they denigrate, and they call us ‘crazy’ for holding fast to [our opposition to gun control]. In their distorted view of the world, they’re smarter than we are; they’re special; they’re more worthy than we are; they know better than we do,” he said. “The liberal media can keep hating on me, but I’m still standing.”
How the CPAC attendees and the three million members of the NRA can fail to see the irony in Mr. LaPierre’s condemnation of “Washington elites” escapes me. To be sure, like many CPAC attendees, Mr. LaPierre and the NRA are fully integrated with the elites of Washington. In point of fact many are on the NRA payroll. His pernicious attack on a free press belies his unquestioned fealty to the constitution.
Which brings us back to Pope Francis. He is hailed as a much needed change in a scandal ridden Vatican. The global prevalence of sexual abuse by clergymen and the institutional protection of predatory pedophiles continues to trouble the church. Money laundering and other untoward financial transactions conducted by the Vatican Bank is another explosive issue that continues to fester. The rising voices of women and LGBT communicants seeking reforms to fully enfranchise them as equal citizens in the church are liturgical and theological issues that will continue to be repressed. These questions beg an urgent response from the ossified paternal hierarchy that resists transparency and fails to transcend practices that sacrifices the faith in service to the institutional religion.
Yes the monied pilgrims that made their way to Rome will enjoy the day and most surely find a wholesome meal to eat. What will sate today’s pilgrims and sustain the future generations will be to sit at an inclusive communion table to richly feast on the bread of truth. Throw the institutional banalities into the ovens to stoke the fires capable of baking a rich wholesomeness into the glorious bread of life.
Music Video: Fleetwood Mac, Hypnotized
Risk: political, religious, psychological, cultural
The flood of Cedar Rapids seems like an ugly rerun of the Katrina disaster. Hospitals are being evacuated, homes abandoned, businesses closed, commerce halted and a community is in acute distress.
The City of Five Seasons, population of 120,000 boasts a strong economy, rich culture and engaged citizens whose civic pride and community involvement is the city’s greatest asset. It is a great city of The Great Plains and its people will rise to the challenge to rebuild itself. The Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce lists 1700 members. Some will do well as a result of this flood. Construction companies, waste management firms, building suppliers and others will find opportunity as the flip side of this risk event.
This extreme risk event however, may prove to be a coup de grace for small businesses already stressed due to the slow economy and inflationary pressures. As this incident unfolds the disaster response agencies FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security will be closely watched to see how they perform in their recovery and restoration efforts. We wish them well.Floods and their destructive aftermath are becoming a cruel joke on the American people because these types of events can be mitigated. I am of the mind that the severity of geo-risk events can be mitigated by investing in the country’s infrastructure like levees, dams and other engineered solutions.
It is a question of priorities and all citizens should ask why the Federal Government continues to ignore the crumbling infrastructure of this country? Why must needless lives be lost, businesses bankrupted and communities destroyed because the priority seems to be an open checkbook to fund the prosecution of a war that is exhausting the political, emotional and economic capital of this nation.
The administration spends over $10 billion dollars a month to bolster the failed state of Iraq in their nation building project. What they seem to have forgotten is that the infrastructure of the USA is worthy of this type of investment and certainly demands its undivided and immediate attention.
Consider what New Orleans cost this country and the many billions of dollars we continue to spend to partially recover from the Katrina disaster. Consider what the return on investment a $1 billion improvement project to upgrade New Orleans’s antiquated levee system prior to Katrina disaster would have yielded the American taxpayer? Not to mention the avoidance of the utter devastation of a great American city and it’s people.
That’s the hallmark of true leadership. Leaders need to offer solutions to problems before they occur. Unfortunately, current leaders are too preoccupied with other priorities and immediate returns on political capital to propose solutions that look beyond the next election cycle or special interests checkbooks.
Today in Cedar Rapids the front line in the war on terror is being fought against an unrestrained river that is carrying away lives, fortunes, dreams and the personal security of citizens that only a strong, vibrant and stable community can provide.Yes, infrastructure is an area where government matters. Being anti government, anti tax, anti federal bureaucracy are nice radical platitudes that play on voters political suspicions and partisan sentiments; but eventually the bill comes due at all to often too high a price. This country can ill afford to lose another city.
All politicians should note, as the Cedar River rises’ so too does the personal anguish and political discontent of our citizens. We pray for their safety and full restoration.
Here is another version of Five Feet High and Rising by the great Johnny Cash.
Risk: geo-risk, small business, political, infrastructure, opportunity, community, culture, ROI, opportunity cost
The earthquake that devastated the Sichuan Province in China, the cyclone that flooded the Irrawaddy River delta in Myanmar and the hurricane that leveled the beloved American city of New Orleans is an interesting study in comparative approaches to disaster response.
All of these natural disasters were terrible human tragedies. The significant loss of life, the destruction of property and environmental damage has forever altered the way of life for millions of people. These disasters have also revealed telling insights into the values of the national governments responsible for rescue, relief and recovery efforts.
The Myanmar effort or more appropriately, non-effort to address the mass misery of its people is a stunning example of authoritarian ambivalence towards the suffering of its subjects. This abomination is more criminal then tragic and is a striking example of the lengths a despotic ruling clique will go to preserve its power through control of the means of subsistence.
Myanmar’s paranoid government uses obfuscation to conceal the impact of its governance practices on its people is damning. Clearly the world has a clear understanding that the Emperor has no cloths and hopefully it will not be long before the people of Myanmar will be able to fully execute its will and rid itself of a repressive government that’s sole purpose is the perpetuation of its oppressive rule.
The Peoples Republic of China’s response is the antitheses of Myanmar’s government’s non-response. China has quickly and efficiently mobilized its state apparatus with military precision. China’s militarization is pervasive and its army is a powerful extension of the state that touches many aspects of daily life and serves as an organizational focal point for the culture and the country’s rural political economy. Here the military is an instrument of relief not of repression as in the case of Myanmar. To be fair the economic strength of China puts it in a better position to respond and provide the relief that a disaster of this magnitude demands. The earthquake has silenced the public relations debacle of the worldwide tour of the Olympic Torch. The Olympic Torch tour has served as a focal point of protest and has eroded the stature of China’s reputation. The earthquake has helped to create some sympathy for the people of China and has shown that the rulers of the Forbidden City are very capable managers of a very formidable state apparatus.
The US Government’s rescue and response efforts following Hurricane Katrina have been scrutinized, dissected and politicized since the time of the event almost three years ago. Lots has been written and we should examine in more detail the risk management lessons from the numerous historical, political, economic and cultural dimensions of the Katrina event. The most salient feature of the US response was how FEMA and Homeland Security could organize and manage a market solution to Katrina. Wal-Mart had the trucks and the logistics, Home Depot had the generators, AT&T the phone cards, General Honore brought the honor and President Bush dispensed funds from the Federal treasury.
I suspect that the Federal Government’s initial reticence to respond to the Katrina crisis was the ideological conviction that the market will provide a solution. Bush’s circle knows that capitalism like nature abhors a vacuum. The spirit of entrepreneurialism will fill the breech that Katrina blew into the intricate levee structure of America’s most idiosyncratic city.
You Tube Video: Dr. John, Sweet Home New Orleans
Risk: Force Majeure, Government, Market, Political, Civil Stability