I am not quite sure what the advantage is in having a few more dollars to spend if the air is too dirty to breathe, the water is too polluted to drink, the commuters are losing out in the struggle to get in and out of the city, the streets are filthy, the schools are so bad that the young perhaps wisely stay away, and the hoodlums roll citizens for some of the dollars they saved in the tax cut.
Stan Goff On Why U.S. Foreign Policy Endangers Us All
During the Clinton administration, when Hugh Shelton was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he began what Donald Rumsfeld calls the “revolution of military affairs,” which is the complete restructuring of the U.S. military. The shorthand for it is “full spectrum dominance.” This refers to dominance in three dimensions: technology, the full spectrum of conflict (from street riots to thermonuclear war), and geography. The belief that we can achieve such dominance is quite likely the most grandiose delusion in human history. It simply is not possible. It’s amazing and worrisome to me that people who hold the reins of power would actually believe in something like this.
Years before I had been stricken by a debilitating illness. Perilymph fistula’s symptoms are like those of multiple sclerosis. On some days I was functional. On others — and I could never predict when these days would strike — I was literally paralyzed. I couldn’t leave the house; I could barely stand up.
At Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, they hand out maps of the store, as if it were a forest you might get lost in. My mother is looking for a novel; I want something that will help me identify the birds and trees of the Northwest. Oregon is much more lush than I remember; its green makes California look brown. My mother grew up in Portland but doesn’t recall the names of things. I lived here until the age of seven.
All this makes me sound selfish. I have had to make room for this selfishness inside me, to accept the fact that alongside the Sue who cares deeply, grieves excessively, and fights fiercely for her siblings is the Sue who seethes beneath her horsehair shirt. People like Mother Teresa must practice selflessness until there is no self left to practice on.
We all want to be cared for out of pure love, but love does not come pure in this world. It comes stained, and sometimes stinking of urine, as her bedroom did near the end, when her catheter was leaking. In this world, love comes mixed with pity and anger and guilt and all those other less-than-noble emotions that we are not supposed to have. We should thank God love shows up at all.
It’s been raining all day, as remnants of the fourth hurricane to hit Florida this year sweep through the South. Some see the storms as an act of divine retribution, as if God, still irritable at the way votes were miscounted in the 2000 presidential election, had decided to hold Florida’s head underwater to make a point. I don’t find the suffering of Floridians who lost homes and loved ones amusing (though I wouldn’t have minded if God had just invited Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former Secretary of State Katherine Harris out for a little swim).
Nothing has changed in an obvious way. The sunlight slanting into his bedroom this morning is just as bright as it was the day before. Outside on the street, the mounds of dirty snow are perhaps a bit smaller. Water puddles on the sidewalks. For breakfast he fries eggs. He fetches the newspaper lying outside his apartment door. It’s probably just his imagination that the paper is heavier than usual, as if wet. The pages are dry. He tells himself that when he turns them, they will not glisten with blood.
Calling, “Soldiers! Americans!” Luu Mong hurried over the mounds of earth that connected the rice fields of the peasants. His mother’s voice trailed him (“Slow down, slow down”), a reminder that the enemy often left in a bloody heap any man, woman, or child who moved swiftly across the landscape. Luu Mong slowed to an amble, circulated among the peasants, and halted at the edge of the field where Thien and her grandma were weeding. “Soldiers,” he said. “Didn’t you hear me?”