First the political, then the personal.
Anybody else feel this way lately– like your brain is being eaten? That it ain’t the heat, it’s the stupidity? That there are too many dumb and-or crazy things going on to address?
The inspiration for this essay came to me a few weeks ago, when it was announced that Chris Christie has privatized New Jersey’s water supply. This is a scam the WTO and World Bank have been pulling all over the developing world–essentially buying water rights from governments that have no idea what the water is worth. When people subsequently find out what it’s worth, the monies received from said companies are nothing compared to the profits the companies receive (assuming they sell to locals AT ALL).
News flash–actions of the NJ governor do NOT automatically go away if (as seems eminently possible) he gets a perp-walk for past misdeeds (not including the Port Authority case that may also draw in NY’s own Andrew Cuomo). Nixon’s trip outta Dodge in 1974 did not negate all the horrible bills he’d signed or other schemes he’d played into. Jersey voters won’t find out for awhile what this means to them. It won’t be pretty once they see what they’ve been screwed out of.
I’d say that was enough, but it’s the constant buzz of more and more bad things coming to pass. The protesters got the state of NY to ban Fracking, but the state is apparently letting Pennsylvania dump its waste-water here. That kind of negates much of the ‘victory’, am I wrong? The KXL pipeline ‘victory’ (with President Obama vetoing the congressional resolutions) reads well for a certain kind of Democrat, but read between the lines, kids–the tar sands oil is still coming, it’s just coming by rail. And the company that profits most from this is the owner of the Burlington North Santa Fe railroad–that would be Berkshire Hathaway, headed by Warren Buffett, who (unlike most hedge fund billionaires) has been generous to the Democrats. And remember, Obama only vetoed the Fast Tracking of the KXL. He’s still waiting on a report on the environmental impact statement. We could still get the pipeline, and even if we don’t, the oil is still coming down to the refineries by rail. So here’s a meme we need:
Speaking of the president…
President Obama is now asking for congressional approval to scale up actions against ISIS and (by extension) Syria. A couple years ago I talked to Tangerine Bolen, an activist who was one of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case against implementation of indefinite detention of US citizens under the NDAA. Is this request for authorization for military force similar to the Obama administration’s change to the NDAA? In other words, would passage of this act retroactively make legal a bunch of things that the US has already done in Syria? Interesting question (not that I’m a conspiracy theorist).
The US also seems to be pushing for a war in Ukraine. The latest outrage is a US military detachment joining the upstarts in ‘training exercises’. Readers do understand that such actions could lead to the splitting of atoms, right? And there’s some suspicion that there are already Americans over there helping the upstart Ukraine (bolstered by video like this). Spare me the rehashed Cold War rhetoric. This is about money and destabilizing Putin. In working for a smooth transition for the Former Soviet Union, the US offered assurances that it would not try to break off the former republics and pull them into NATO. That we’re going back on that promise (which was so 1990’s of us) should surprise no one.
After all, the US government is stealing from the people of the Indian Nations again, right? This week, Congress pushed through a new defense authorization bill with a rider that would (once again) steal sacred land from Native Americans. And this is a bi-partisan puppy–the mineral rights that aren’t being handed off to a foreign country are being held as a deal-sweetener to get Iran to bargain about their nukes.
This is all on top of the ongoing outrage at the lack of justice for victims of police brutality like Eric Garner and Michael Brown. The protests were vibrant in December, and there was an edge of change coming. But now, the energy seems spent. There are the usual squabbles about leadership, but let’s be fair–squabbles about leadership in communities of color isn’t what put these men (and hundreds like them) in early graves. If you’ve got a few minutes, let’s talk about the wealthiest 1% of the world owning half of everything by 2016. But the problem is endemic to human rights struggles from the anti-war movement to the anti-nuke movement. My interaction with the predictors of near-term human extinction are their own burden. The people in our society who care about anything but the Kardashians and other ephemera are at burn-out.
Which brings me to the personal:
One of the things I’ve come to terms with in the last few days is just how lonely it is to be in struggle. I’d never realized it before, but it’s really, really hard. And the more strident you are, the more likely it is that you’re on your own a lot of the time. Social media helps somewhat (you may not have a support community for yourself where you are physically located). But being Cassandra does not make you a welcome guest at parties. And if you’ve read the legends, being Cassandra wasn’t exactly fun for Cassandra, either. The people who are my inspiration and my heroes are frequently shadow boxing against the apocalypse. I need to remember that. So to my activist friends (you know who you are), I hear you.