I like Pat Bagley‘s take on the Amazon forest fires because I don’t know what’s going on down there, but I know it doesn’t help to have people dismissing it or obscuring it or exploiting it.
Which is to say that the level of crisis seems less dependent on the actual impact on our climate and more dependent on how you feel about Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who either started the fires or is ignoring them or … I dunno.
I know that Brazil way overspent on the World Cup and the Olympics and didn’t do right by the poor in their favelas and had sewage in the waters where the boating events took place.
I try to be fair about this: If the jungle caught fire in Venezuela, I wouldn’t know what to think about that, either, because I don’t know what the hell is really going on there.
Which leaves it here: The fires in Brazil are a bad thing and I rather doubt there are enough water bombers in the world to put them out.
But it doesn’t help that it seems to be as much an argument over power as it does an environmental crisis and I wish there were more clarity because I don’t trust anybody’s explanation so far.
Plus, it’s one thing to look at Nicaragua or Honduras and wonder what the hell they’re up to this time, but when you are dealing with an economy the size of Brazil’s and a forest fire the size of the Amazon’s, you don’t really have the luxury of shrugging it off.
And ditto with Hong Kong, summarized here by Pia Guerra, who apparently remembers what happened when we all went gaga over Tianamen Square a generation ago.
For those who missed it, there were wonderful demonstrations in support of democracy and all the students turned out and they resisted the tyranny of the central government and that brave guy stood in front of the tanks and his image gets trotted out any time brave people stand up to power.
Only he couldn’t stand there forever and either hundreds or thousands of people were slaughtered, depending on whose numbers you believe, and the central government not only disappeared the bodies but seems to have disappeared the whole incident.
It never happened, as Western journalists discovered when they tried to do stories about the anniversary. Nobody has memories to share because, well, it just never happened.
And I don’t know how things are going to be sorted out in Hong Kong, but that giant fist and those delicate umbrellas seem about right to me.
If you look back at the comments on various #BoycottMulan postings, you’ll find a lot of people saying, “I don’t care what she said – it’s my favorite movie and I’m going to go see it anyway!”
Whether or not Lao-tze is at the base of Chinese governmental theory, his call to place cooperation above striving is at the base of what we are watching unfold.
Not to honor men of worth will keep the people from squabbling; not to value rare goods will keep them from stealing; not to display that which is desirable will keep them from being frustrated.
Therefore in governing the people, the sage empties their minds but fills their bellies, weakens their wills but strengthens their bones. He always keeps them innocent of knowledge and free from desire, and ensures that the clever never dare to act.
Take action by not taking action, and order will prevail.
Hong Kong’s colonial past places it in a wrinkle between East and West and I don’t know how their dual philosophy can endure.
I wish I felt otherwise.
I’m at least inclined to be more optimistic than Benjamin Slyngstad, though he’s right that the Oklahoma decision, holding Johnson & Johnson partially responsible for the state’s opioid crisis, is little more than a slap on the wrist.
The company plans to appeal, but, as noted in that linked article, two other companies settled out of court for similar amounts, suggesting that it will be hard to prove the decision was out of line.
That is, companies tend to fight the ones they think they can win, and two out of three rolled over, which should tell us — and other courts — something.
And Oklahoma is one of 50 states. If even a third of them were to make the same effort as Oklahoma, it would bite into those profits considerably.
If looking back to Tianamen Square makes me pessimistic about Hong Kong, looking back to the tobacco settlement gives me hope in this case.
The hidden trickery of the tobacco companies pales beside the blatant, outrageous behavior of the opioid makers and their puppet pharmacies, and even Frat Boy Kavanaugh never said, “I like smack.”
My cynicism in this rests entirely with how it’s all written up when it comes down, because a lot of states have stolen the tobacco settlement money to cover the shortfalls of their cheap-ass budgets.
And this isn’t Brazil, where such juggling of books is punished.
Elsewise a president who promotes his own golf resort for the next G-7 Summit would be looked upon as Ann Telnaes looks upon him.
I don’t know what else we should expect from an administration that began by unfolding an ethics policy apparently consisting of blank papers.
But, FWIW, the 2012 G-8 summit was hosted at Camp David and, while I’m sure it wasn’t cost-free, the funds involved were traceable and fell within ethical constraints.
Plus it had an air of relaxed, natural gravitas, which we certainly haven’t seen recently.