The International Writers Magazine: Opinion
* In Memory of Dean Borok who died this day Jan 15th 2016
'If you tell the truth - you don't have to remember anything'
Truth and Consequences
People these days are less inclined than ever to state obvious facts, because if the truth came out it would mean the end of civilization as we know it.
It’s obvious that the human mind is not programmed to process nasty reality. Russia’s main political opposition leader, Boris Nemtsov is assassinated at the very gates of the Kremlin, right out of a Russian opera tragedy, and one instant later snow cleaning machines appear to obliterate the crime scene. What does that tell you? “Duh, I dunno”. Like the statue of the three monkeys.
Obama gives a comprehensive State of the Union address and the Republicans counter with a hick female senator from Iowa who attempts to endear herself to the audience with a little anecdote of her youth, about how she used to attend school with cellophane bread bags covering her feet. Is she retarded? Nah, it’s normal.
Bronx Democratic assemblyman Carl Heastie is elected to be Speaker of the state assembly to replace Sheldon Silver, who is under indictment for bribery, influence peddling and unjust enrichment, and whose wife sat on the board of a state-financed social services charity that was entirely looted, and it is revealed that Heastie’s own mother had to cop guilty to felony charges of embezzlement of state funds from another charitable organization. So what? What has one thing got to do with the other?
Whole careers have been built on nothing but nonsense. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was born Warren Wilhelm Jr.. Former mayor Rudy Giuliani acquired a reputation as a crime-busting prosecutor, but nobody mentions that his father and uncle allegedly worked as leg-breakers for Brooklyn gambling and loansharking interests. Giuliani portrayed himself as a conventional white ethnic Catholic defender of the sanctity of marriage, but there are multiple photographs of him wearing dresses, and he moved in with a gay couple after his wife left him to take a part in “The Vagina Monologues”. Real normal! New Yorkers are so phony and divorced from reality that you are suspect if you are judged to be too authentic, like the “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”.
People are wired to act, not to think. We don’t have the watt-power for analytic reflection. That’s what made Mr. Spock so special, but even there the writers of Star Trek felt compelled to make him half-human and to gravitate his orbit from the airless nether regions of deep space and close to colliding with the burning sun of human emotions.
When I was a kid, I travelled a lot with my crazy mother and I always had my nose in a book. As a result, I knew more as a teenager than most grown adults know today. It helped me a lot. In fact, I got away with murder. What I have never been able to figure out is, with all the elements and facts available, why are people not able to behave rationally? Instead of a straight line between two points, people are compelled to follow a PowerPoint squiggle that leads nowhere at all. In a lot of cases the obvious solution is just not the easiest or most lovely. It’s just too unpleasant.
So what do you end up with? Lying and deceit at the most fundamental level, the family structure, where everybody is playing games and lying just to get through the day. Then at the community level and then at the social and political level. Shit rolls uphill. The higher you get to the top, the more revolting it gets. “Behind every fortune is a great crime”. Obviously, the dysfunction leads to paralysis, and humanity is led to collision by the sheer inertia of mindless monolithic masses.
Everything you know is a lie, because you don’t know anything, unless you’re willing to spend years in a library doing research like a physicist or an economist. Here’s a case in point: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing to give a controversial address to a joint session of Congress. President Obama didn’t invite him, nor does he want him to give the speech, the executive branch having exclusive constitutional authority to determine foreign policy. Just to make things even worse, the speech is coming just before a hotly-contested election in Israel, where Netanyahu is trying to stay on top of a chaotic political situation. Not exactly a serene setting for a dispassionate analysis of the Iranian nuclear negotiations.
How did this farcical development come about? Did Netanyahu book the room like you would hire the Friars Club for a comedy roast? Hardly. He was invited to speak by House Speaker John Boehner, who decided to complicate life a little bit more for Obama, right at the crucial point of the Iranian nuclear negotiations, just when it would be most damaging.
What is Netanyahu going to say, “No”? Like any other comedian, he is going to say, “I’m very happy to be here tonight, ladies and gentlemen. In fact, I’m happy to be anywhere”. It wasn’t his idea, but what politician is going to take the ethical approach of not meddling in another country’s domestic policy when he has the chance to grandstand like Winston Churchill one week before his own election?
I’d like to state my own preference right here. I love Israel (I also love Canada, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, France, the UK, Italy, Spain etc. etc.) But Netanyahu, being an intellectual and the son of a distinguished scholar, should know better to take a wrecking ball to the U.S.-Israel relationship just for the sake of a speech that is only going to end up being derided and ridiculed, as all his other speeches have been in the past.
All this heat and fury has got to have a generating source, and I’d like to point out that neither Boehner or Netanyahu have got the resources to set this mess in motion. That comes from the ultimate Wizard of Oz, who is furiously pulling levers like crazy to drive as many wedges as he can between the U.S. and Israel; between the American public against itself and between American Jews, in an attempt to corral them into the Republican fold, multi-billionaire, reactionary casino magnate and political godfather Shelly Adelson (RIP Jan 2021). Adelson (it is alleged) finances Netanyahu’s Israeli political career as well as being a huge financier for the Republicans, and this whole imbroglio has his fingerprints all over it.
Everybody knows it, and nobody is talking about it, which is another instance of the world sticking its head in the sand. I got through watching the Sunday morning political talk shows on TV, and nobody brought up the fact of Netanyahu’s having been invited by Boehner or the obvious behind-the-scenes direction (I won’t call it manipulation because that requires a finer sensibility than I am willing to attribute to him) by Adelson, making it seem as though the whole situation just miraculously sprang up, like Topsy.
Republicans, flush with cash from the Koch brothers and Adelson etc. have abandoned any kind of collective reasoning. It’s like they tied the bread bags on their feet together, and they keep falling over. They have created an imbroglio over the financing of the national security apparatus that is guaranteed to land them a three-point landing on their face, but they are confident that they will be rewarded for it because the last government shutdown proved so successful for them, with control of congress.
But their reasoning has blocked out the main important element that got them off the hook the last time, the fact that nobody from either party wants to discuss: the incompetence of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius, whose disastrous development of the Obamacare website permitted them to escape the consequences of the government shutdown and immediately change the subject by screaming bloody murder about the insurance law.
I don’t think Obama is stupid enough to hand them another Get Out of Jail Free card like that again, and I certainly don’t believe that their minds will wake up from suspended animation in time to improve their prospects for the next election, which will be more national in nature. In the meantime, with Mr. Spock having passed away, one of the few voices for dispassionate rational reflection has died with him, but at least he still leaves behind a legacy of reason.
© Dean Borok March 2nd 2015