Context Change

The Berkeley City Council, after passing a resolution  calling for the resettlement of detainees released from Guantanamo in the United States, voted against inviting such persons to live in their fair city, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Earlier, an organization called "Move America Forward, proposed in a statement that Berkeley City Council members 'go live in GITMO where they can hang out with hundreds of terrorists.' The group said it would pay for their air fare."

Meanwhile, Nir Rosen, who scoffed at Lara Logan's assault in Tahrir Square, was fired from his position as fellow at the NYU's Center on Law and Security. Jim Geraghty at the National Review says he never thought to see the day, but is glad the Center on Law and Security did it anyway.

From Karen J. Greenberg, Executive Director, Center on Law and Security

Nir Rosen is always provocative, but he crossed the line yesterday with his comments about Lara Logan. I am deeply distressed by what he wrote about Ms. Logan and strongly denounce his comments. They were cruel and insensitive and completely unacceptable. Mr. Rosen tells me that he misunderstood the severity of the attack on her in Cairo. He has apologized, withdrawn his remarks, and submitted his resignation as a fellow, which I have accepted. However, this in no way compensates for the harm his comments have inflicted. We are all horrified by what happened to Ms. Logan, and our thoughts are with her during this difficult time.

Why the outbreak of reason? A succession of recent events, from the financial crisis to the wave of unrest sweeping the Middle East, has created a new sense of mortality in everyone. Dick Morris, in an article titled "The Damage Obama Has Done," presents a table, which while not entirely the best source for identifying the various factors which went into causing the change,  nevertheless gets the point across: reality hurts. For all its shortcomings, Morris' table best explains our new psychological world.

Things look different to frightened, 60 something year old people facing an uncertain future than to 18 year olds at Yasgur's farm on their way to Paradise. The idea of actual terrorists living down the block from the drugstore and the idea that a newspaperwoman can be raped like an animal being eaten alive by wolves terrify them.

Carol Hanisch's dictum that the "personal is political" got it wrong. In reality, when something becomes personal it stops being political. A Guantanamo detainee living in America is political. The same detainee living next door is personal. The masses taking their revenge on the imperialist West is political; Lara Logan being raped is personal. When somebody else is being beheaded one can examine which political attitude to take. When it happens to you, then you just want it to stop.

January 2009Today% chgSource

Avg. retail price/gallon gas in U.S.$1.83$3.10469.6%1
Crude oil, European Brent (barrel)$43.48$99.02127.7%2
Crude oil, West TX Inter. (barrel)$38.74$91.38135.9%2
Gold: London (per troy oz.)$853.25$1,369.5060.5%2
Corn, No.2 yellow, Central IL$3.56$6.3378.1%2
Soybeans, No. 1 yellow, IL$9.66$13.7542.3%2
Sugar, cane, raw, world, lb. fob$13.37$35.39164.7%2
Unemployment rate, non-farm, overall7.6%9.4%23.7%3
Unemployment rate, blacks12.6%15.8%25.4%3
Number of unemployed11,616,00014,485,00024.7%3
Number of fed. employees, ex. military (curr = 12/10 prelim)2,779,0002,840,0002.2%3
Real median household income (2008 v 2009)$50,112$49,777-0.7%4
Number of food stamp recipients (curr = 10/10)31,983,71643,200,87835.1%5
Number of unemployment benefit recipients (curr = 12/10)7,526,5989,193,83822.2%6
Number of long-term unemployed2,600,0006,400,000146.2%3
Poverty rate, individuals (2008 v 2009)13.2%14.3%8.3%4
People in poverty in U.S. (2008 v 2009)39,800,00043,600,0009.5%4
U.S. rank in Economic Freedom World Rankings59n/a10
Present Situation Index (curr = 12/10)29.923.5-21.4%11
Failed banks (curr = 2010 + 2011 to date)14016417.1%12
U.S. dollar versus Japanese yen exchange rate89.7682.03-8.6%2
U.S. money supply, M1, in billions (curr = 12/10 prelim)1,575.11,865.718.4%13
U.S. money supply, M2, in billions (curr = 12/10 prelim)8,310.98,852.36.5%13
National debt, in trillions$10.627$14.05232.2%14

That's why the Berkeley City Council voted against inviting detainees; and that is why, whatever one's politics, most will agree that Nir Rosen deserved to be fired. Moments of historical crisis are clarifying periods because they reduce everyone to the least common denominator: the human race. The "design margin" that used to make petty politics possible has now evaporated.  Those who still haven't caught on, soon will.

No man is an island,

Entire of itself.

Each is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less.

As well as if a promontory were.

As well as if a manor of thine own

Or of thine friend's were.

Each man's death diminishes me,

For I am involved in mankind.

Therefore, send not to know

For whom the bell tolls,

It tolls for thee.

John Donne

Tell me what's the difference between us and them!!?

Because...we live here!

Red Dawn


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