By Jim Beers
i-ro-ny (I' re ni), n., 3. simulated ignorance in discussion (Socratic irony), 4. (in tragedy) the quality or effect of speeches understood by the audience but not grasped by the actors on the stage (tragic irony).
Let us begin with today's GW (global warming) update. Last night, 4 February 2009, the predicted low temperature in Jacksonville, Florida was 22 degrees: tonight the predicted low is 21 degrees.
Now I know, per the "experts", that GW isn't "warming" but the cause of "all variances of hot and cold and extremes of weather". I certainly would be the last to say, "Aha, if it is so cold in Florida; how can anyone say that the "globe" is "warming?" Rather I think we should consider the children of Florida. The young Floridian munchkins are bombarded with teachers, a President and Congress, television worthies, books, and assorted "guest speakers" preaching all manner of doomsday effects from GW if we don't shut down energy use, power development, livestock operations, and grant the central and even the much-needed "world government" complete control of our lives. If their parents are skeptical, they should be either converted by the children or ignored since that is like racism per one ex-Vice President. If they are not successful in this campaign, plant life will surely disappear along with animal species and there will be flooding of coastal
cities as exemplified by how drinks with melting ice cubes (overflow?); this last one probably strikes a chord with Jacksonville kids that play on beaches. What must these innocents think it was like years ago? Was Florida weather once like Minnesota before the evil capitalist white Europeans spoiled everything and "warmed" it up? If "they" (the "scientists and politicians) are going to cool down the "globe", what will summer on the beaches be like? If a "cooled" earth means lower ocean levels, where will the "beach" part of the desert between Jacksonville and the ocean be? How far will they have to go through sand dunes to reach it? Shouldn't a "cooler" Florida be less hospitable to the boa constrictors and piranhas and alligators and poisonous snakes that make Florida living perilous for children not under the "care" of the bureaucrats that hold them captive each day? This scenario might be considered an example of tragic irony.
Then we have yesterday's White House pronouncement that henceforth any (private?) enterprise taking any of the proffered Billions (one is reminded of the M-44 coyote getter, a scented ball that encourages a coyote to pull on it with his mouth thereby firing a poison cartridge into his mouth and killing him) may not pay any executives more than $500 thousand per year. "Hooray" we all say, "yeah if 'they are going to take 'our' money, they should dance to our tune"; the egalitarian fairness boggles the mind.
Then there were the news items accompanying this socialist dream mandate:
- The President's nominee to "Direct" the Central Intelligence Agency (a former Congressman and White House Chief of Staff) made $700 thousand last year giving "speeches" to whomever. As one who dabbles in that pursuit, I know how hard it would be to make such a sum! Be that as it may, why is it bad for an executive of a large (private??) enterprise to make whatever the enterprise will pay if they take the federal "dole" but it is of no moment when a retired and pensioned politician collects $700 thousand per annum for hobnobbing? If the companies go broke, unlike the Secretary of the Treasury job that can "only" be done by the incumbent so be it, however the (free?) enterprise system assures that they can replace the "over-paid executives" or else other companies will "out-compete" them and take their place with more efficient operations. This whole government takeover and precedent
seems to be an example of Socratic irony.
- Speaking of the CIA Director nominee, if as has been discovered he has received emoluments (money) from organizations and corporations that do business with federal intelligence agencies, wouldn't that disqualify him from holding such a powerful office that controls Billions of dollars of such business? I guess not if we accept this as an example of tragic irony.
- If the former (as of yesterday) nominee for the Secretary of Health and Human Services "position" that collected $5 Million plus a car and driver over the past two years (does that make him a "bad" person?) from medical and pharmaceutical firms, since he lost reelection (will miracles never cease?) as a US Senator can still be supported by the President and his former colleagues in the US Senate well, such business connections must be viewed as "advantageous" in spite of his "understandable mistake" of not paying $150 thousand or so ( without penalties) worth of taxes. Aside from this bit of cynicism there is the additional assertion by the President and his staff that this former HHS Secretary nominee was NOT a lobbyist since he did not "register" as a lobbyist. Maybe, like the other two tax cheat nominees one of who is now Secretary of the Treasury and the other one that
also withdrew yesterday, he didn't "realize" he had to register. The fact
that his wife that was a "registered" lobbyist, making more, no doubt, than the currently mandated "$500 thousand per annum for executives" while he was a US Senator and that so she remains today, should not indicate a person that we should expect would know about "registering" as a lobbyist. Therefore he was "what?" A "fixer?" A "front man?" A "behind-the-scenes-guy?" Such questions reflect a suspicion of Socratic irony in the matter.
- Then there is the Congresswoman nominated as Secretary of Labor. She likewise was "regulatory-requirements challenged". She never told anyone or much less "registered" as required by law (this must be a funny law that applies to Congressmen and not like other laws intended only for the rest of us) that she was a Treasurer for a Fabian Socialist Union organization while she was serving in Congress. She, like her tax-cheat cohorts simply made an "understandable mistake". Like all the others, she will not be prosecuted, fined, pay any penalties, or even be described as anything but smart and worthy of a child's role model. Tragic irony abounds here.
- As we talk about lobbyist spouses, registration requirements, and the integrity of government how can we ignore the newly appointed Secretary of State? Not only does her spouse collect millions of dollars per year from foreign governments for?? Not only are the records of past collections by this spouse, much like the list of the donors that contributed the record amounts of cash to the current President's campaign, unavailable to the public: this spouse has just held a one-hour meeting with the (Prime Minister/President/Dictator?) Putin of Russia as the Russians are muscling us out of the only and vital Afghanistan operations-support airbase in one
of their (former?) satellite states. Who allows such American citizen diplomacy? What was said? What real or implied authority does the husband of the Secretary of State or an ex-President exert? Why not just let Jimmy Carter "handle" North Korea and Israel while the current President and his "Cabinet" handle Argentina and Australia? This is classic Socratic irony.
Something that has long puzzled me was way in which British voters kicked out the Churchill government as soon as WWII was over. It had always seemed to me that he was an inspiring leader and had done a creditable job in very trying circumstances. A couple of nights ago, the reason for that abrupt governmental change became clear to me as I read Fabian Freeway by Rose L. Martin. That change, both the reasons for it and the results of it, is very important to understand in the USA today.
During and after WWI and through the 20's and 30's Europe was convulsed by radical movements and social turbulence. Communist savagery in Russia, Nazism in Germany, Socialism in Italy and all manner of revolutionaries in other European nations. During this period in England a mixture of every European revolutionary movement existed and amongst them was a flock of rich nobles and writers like Shaw and Wells et al that envisioned a Nirvana of social equality and universal welfare. During the late 1930's this group of "intellectual" activists began destroying the Liberal party to bring its' members into a Labour Party that they were redesigning with unions and an array of social and anti-colonial activists. Sound familiar regarding "smart people", "experts", and "scientists" since the 1960's in the US?
During WWII there was an agreement amongst British political parties to suspend political rivalries while fighting the war. Labour Party leaders secretly disregarded the agreement and worked up a program (actually a "study" and "proposal") of social welfare and security for all English citizens that they announced halfway through the war. Obtaining the support of the US Ambassador who was very sympathetic to socialism on the heels of the US Depression, British citizens from soldiers and sailors to factory workers and farmers tired of restrictions and hardships learned of the proposed "heaven-on-earth" that Labour would establish. Sound like a recent election?
When the war ended everyone was spent from fighting, rationing, and wartime mandates. The promised "Nirvana" was not only jumped at, it was embraced with all the fervor of honeymooners. Labour won a landslide victory and kept an iron grip on absolute power for six years. Although socialists blamed the war recovery at first, prices shot up, people did not seek work since the government "promised help", private housing g was discouraged and "public" housing was slow and generated ever-greater waiting lists, government nationalized almost half of the economy and businesses dwindled, government mandates and regulations and prosecutions proliferated steadily, things like a ration of one and a half eggs per person per week became common, and taxes went up and up as businesses went down and down. British working class tourists taking a ferry to Ireland received sympathy and
charity from Irish working class persons that felt sorry for their condition, especially for the children: an ironic turn-around if ever there was one. Britain was changed irreparably and shows the wounds to this day. President Bush, Iraq, Guantanamo, government takeover, economic downturn, asking for the "support" never given the previous guy, and promises of "heaven-on-earth" anyone?)
Does any of this sound familiar? Social turbulence? A populace tired of war? Radical claims and ideas? Economic "emergencies"? Central government control and intervention for every concern? Central government authority and planning for everything? Denigration of the former leadership? A promise of solutions to all problems if government can get and spend more? Government housing control? Government spending of unheard of amounts that can only be fed by more taxes? Disincentives for work as government "takes from the rich" thereby discouraging investment and "gives to the poor" thereby encouraging workers to only work when employers offer "enough"? Concomitant losses of rights as government authority encompasses all things? Elimination of culture and traditions? Charismatic leaders painting a future that is neither achievable nor respectful of human dignity?
Put this all together and in the context of the USA in 2009 and it adds up to irony of the highest order. We believe in and remind others to support corrupt leaders that lie to us and ignore the rules of civil order. We tell everyone that we "must want our leaders to succeed" (Bill O'Reilly et al) even though their goals are inimical to freedom and hostile to the principles and words of the US Constitution. Call me cynical but I anticipate an ironic tragedy, minus the irony based on the way things are heading. Jim Beers 5 February 2009
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