Monday, August 1, 2011

Not Since 1945

Bill O'Reilly has criticized the baggers for holding the debt ceiling hostage to extreme demands and risking the first Federal government default in the history of the US. No doubt O'Reilly's accountant informed him that a default would a) cost him a lot of money and b) lead to mobs of desperate poor senior citizens and disabled persons with nothing left to lose rising up like the fishwives of Paris in 1789, brandishing walkers and canes instead of pikes, storming his gated community as if it were Versailles and burning it to the ground, if he did not distance himself from the mishigas.

When O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann agree on something, it ought to make you stop and think. (Not the baggers-- you. When I find something that will make the baggers think, I will let you know immediately, I will alert the media, I will email the White House and my Congressional representatives. When and if.) Economists from every point on the political spectrum, including some people who never before in their lives have agreed with each other about anything, have agreed that this hostage situation with the debt ceiling has been bad. Very, very bad. Investors from all over the world have agreed, many of whom could not name a half dozen American politicians to save their lives. The Wall Street Journal and the Times of London and Mother Jones and Der Spiegel and Jungle World and le Figaro all agree, and the Asian markets, and the Argentinian gauchos.

The only comparable group, the only group I can think of of such international breadth and ideological diversity who ever were united against anything, is the group of countries who declared war against Germany in World War II: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Byelorussia, Canada, Chile, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iran, Iraq, Italy (in 1943), Lebanon, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, The Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Syria, Turkey, the Ukraine, the Soviet Union, the UK, the USA, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yugoslavia, and I'm sincerely sorry if I left anybody out. How often, before or after the provocation of the Nazis, did a half, or a third, of all of those nations ever agree about anything?

It took a hell of a lot to get all of those countries to declare war. It took quite a lot for some reputedly smart people to oppose them at all. Neville Chamberlain met with Hitler and described him as a reasonable man.

In hindsight, although people might and do argue about whether Hitler was Christian, or pagan, or agnostic or atheist; whether he was neurotic, or psychotic, or quite sane and crafty -- no-one describes him as reasonable anymore. Early on in his career, in the 20's and early 30's, people often were appalled at the way the German Communists physically fought in the streets against the Nazis, with all the violent force they had -- eventually the whole world had to do the same thing. Because they would see no reason, would make no compromise, would tolerate no contradiction.

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