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The situation with the Rio Olympics becomes more untenable every day. It’s like watching a terrible train wreck about to happen and not being able to do anything about it.
You’ve got a governing structure—at all levels, federal, state and local—that would win gold medals in every category covering abuse of basic civil rights and institutionalized corruption. Violent crime (assault, robbery, rape) is so far out of control that the regular cops can’t handle it so the army is used to patrol portions of the country and Rio de Janeiro itself.
The country is walking on the edge of a political-economic cliff and it’s not impossible to imagine a military coup or popular revolt.
One of the courses I took in college—it was a required course if you were a political science major—was economics. I never could quite grasp the concepts involved and just managed to escape with a “C” in the course. About all I remember from that puzzling class is that the textbook was written by Paul Samuelson and that at any given time, a country had to choose between “Guns or Butter.”
Since I was so incredibly bored by this class, I used to imagine guns that shot butter or guns made out of butter. Now that would have been a radical change in the way world worked—don’t you think? But, alas, since I was sleeping through the class, I missed my chance to suggest this to the professor.
I was once walking in Riverside Park with my son—he was about four years old—and he asked me, “Dad, does a squirrel know he’s stupid”? Interesting question (one of the many he used to come up with).z
A similar question comes up constantly with Donald Trump.
Does he have any real conception of how his unfiltered utterances affect other human beings? Does he know how insensitive and cruel he sounds?
The attacks in Paris, and most recently the attacks in Brussels, inevitably bring back tremors of the stark terror we felt on September 11th, 2001—now almost fifteen years ago. Most people in New York were scared for months, even years—especially going into skyscrapers, being in places with large crowds and riding the subways. That subterranean river of fear still runs through the subconscious of everyone who was there that day—and what just happened in Brussels taps straight into that fear. Along with the shock and horror we feel for the people in Brussels, there’s the generally unspoken fear that it could easily happen here again. Continue reading