Monday, March 14, 2011

The Sea

Sandy Denny

Browsing around this weekend, at James Wolcott's place in particular, I discovered that Keith Olbermann now has a blog.  I posted a link in the "tubes" section.  I have heard rumors that he will resurface on the teevee at some point, perhaps with a chunk of time on the "Current" channel, which is 196 on Dish and probably other things on other systems.  While television will have it's place in the coming months and years--it can deliver a certain kind of real news very well if its cameras are pointed at the right piece of real estate--it appears that points of view as mild-mannered as Olbermann are going to fade away from general public view, to be discovered only by an apparent minority who bother to look for them.  And this ain't news, except to some few who have been engaged elsewhere.  The fact that the right is determined to bury NPR/PBS is testimony to a determination to remove any alternative to the vast corporate point of view which utterly dominates all mass media.  Any sensible person not already entirely under the sway of the corporate point of view can see that NPR is 99% about delivering factual information.  Thus, the goal of the right is not to stamp out some supposed doctrinaire infection of the national conversation, but to keep people in the dark.  It is a sad truth, but it is obvious.

Some truth is too big to deny.  Such are the on-going events in Japan.  On the sub-topic of the failing nuclear power plants, too many liberal commenters seem to see these failures as simple indictments of what they already "knew," that nuclear power is too dangerous to consider as an alternative power source.  While the siting of these Japanese plants seems fundamentally shortsighted--since tsunamis are after all a Japanese concept as well as a fact, and since plate techtonics was known by the '70s, and beyond that, Japanese engineers certainly knew that for whatever reason Japan was highly subject to major earthquakes--carping from liberals who are knee-jerk anti-nuclear is also myopic.  After all, the fact is that Japan is oil poor.  One could actually say that Japan's part in World War II has a lot to do with their lack of oil (and also with the Tokyo earthquake of 1923, come to think of it).  What are they to do.  Nuclear energy is probably a reasonable option, particularly given that they were utterly defeated by the United States in 1945--flattened in a way almost identical to the situation they now face on their northeast coast.

I've never been to Japan, but of late I've grown more and more fond of the Japanese culture, as expressed in the films of "Beat" Kitano in particular.  (You might want to watch his film, "Dolls," which is as epic and culturally aware as Ford's "The Searchers.")  Someone remarked in the coverage of the disaster that Japanese culture embodies a deep fatalism which is grounded in their environment--a world in which the sea can engulf the land at any moment, and where all that is constructed can be broken asunder by both water and the very ground itself.  I kept thinking of two songs on the subject--Gram Parson's beautiful, surreal dreamscape, "A Song For You": "Oh my land is like a wild goose, wanders all around, everywhere; trembles and it shakes till every tree is loose, rolls the meadows and the rolls the nails...." and Sandy  Denny's "The Sea."  To have one's simple, literal, everyday world upturned in an instant--that would indeed be a perspective changing experience.

And is that moment, when Sandy Denny sang this beautiful song, any less vanished than these tragic vistas in today's Japan--houses with cars on their roofs, ships lying in gardens, highways split and chasmed, desolate lines of people waiting for water in the snow.

Update: on our local morning curmudgeon drive show, the opinionator remarked that we had better not give any aid to Japan, because "we're broke" and "they're a first world country."  This is what passes for "conservative thought" these days.   In the afternoon Mr. Gingrich continued his current theme--that the United States can achieve energy independence if only we'll drill willy-nilly within our borders.  "We were not designed for $5 gas," he said to Mr. Hannity.  How a conservative can talk of removing from a world commodity market and keeping gas prices low by fiat--yet at the same time be "against big government," is remarkable.  But then, Mr. Gingrich continues to pass as an intellectual, when what he really is is a poseur who learned some decades past that if you say things with a certain tone and keep your chin at a certain angle, quite a few people will mistake your views for intelligent ones.  Gingrich is a fraud.  He's been a fraud.  And he's also a weasel who will say absolutely anything to get a vote.  Had things not gone so well for him at the public trough, he would have become a true criminal.  He has the mind for it.  He lies constantly to himself.

Update 2.  My commenter pretty much misses all the points I'm making.  Mr. Gingrich is indeed proposing American "energy independence."  That's exactly what he said on Hannity on Monday.  That such an idea is preposterous in the context of his own alleged principles seems to matter not to Mr. Gingrich, which fact makes him patently a con-man.  Moreover, the general Right Wing assertion that we are not drilling for oil in the US is simply false.  No doubt there are some other considerations to be taken into account when particular drilling sites are either ratified or rejected at any given time.  This is simply prudent, and would be the case whatever party was in power (Tea Party being the case that would prove the rule, for if a real Tea Party President is elected we will find only that priorities will change, e.g., there will be no oil wells in certain Wasilla, Alaska, backyards.)   The oil industry is an international industry based on the extraction of energy resources located around the globe.  No doubt many American industry workers are working overseas--and no doubt they pay American taxes.  The huge problem of blue collar job exportation is not particularly about the oil industry.  It's primarily about manufacturing.  

Re his assertion that the Japanese nuclear plants have survived--it seems a bit early in the day for that assertion, but no doubt there will be a Rumsfeldian response to the facts as they unfold, no matter what they happen to be.  That is in the order of rhetoric however, not observation.  I have not argued in a blanket way against nuclear power--on the other hand, this nuclear disaster in Japan is a wake-up call to the US, particularly as we have a number of similarly designed plants, as well as plants situated near seismic faults and even near potential tsunamic activity.  The primary reason we have not been building new nuclear plants is that investors have not been interested in them, given the track record.  The Japanese events will not reassure investors--that's my guess anyways.  Perhaps our coming Tea Party Administration will invest tax dollars in Nuclear Plants, if they can find suitable backyards?  They'll have a lot of spare cash after they've defunded NPR, and, with leaders like Gingrich, they'll have no problems with intellectual consistency.  Maybe they'll even have government subsidies for gas at the pump so's to keep the price reasonable--the implication of Gingrich's most recent "position statement" on Hannity.  I've always loved the music of the tango. 

1 comment:

  1. Olbermann's name seems to have sunk without a trace -- an no one, with the possible exception of Olbermann himself, seems to care.

    As for oil, well, the US is not going to supply all its demand from domestic sources. That simply makes no sense. But expanding our drilling efforts makes a lot of sense.

    The oil industry pays high wages to its workers. Moreover, if we do not pay Americans working in America to provide as much of our oil as possible, we will ship the jobs to other countries that will sell us their oil.

    It's remarkable that people who deplore companies that send jobs to other countries because wages are lower are willing to send high-wage jobs to other countries because they have an irrational hate for oil.

    If the experience of Japan has a positive side, it will be to show that as damaged as the nuclear plants have become, the 40-year-old reactor housings survived.