Rotting Fish

Congress has just failed to pass the 9/11 health care bill, which would have compensated and provided medical care for thousands of first responders, those who have become gravely ill from breathing toxic dust at the World Trade Center nearly nine years ago. Hundreds have already died. At the time, our government declared the air at Ground Zero safe, just as it had vouched that Agent Orange was harmless several decades earlier, or Corexit innocuous now. Soon enough, thousands of BP clean-up workers will have to litigate, and many, if not most, will die before they’ll see a penny. Same old, same old.

Opposing the 9/11 bill, many congressmen complained about its 7.4 billion price tag. Enough of big government, it’s belt tightening time! We’ll only loosen our purse string, of course, to assist distressed banks. In 2008, Washington gave $12.9 billion to Goldman Sachs, which came to $42 for every American man, woman and child, including the unemployed and the homeless. Come on, man, don’t be so stingy! It’s Goldman Sachs, dude! The 9/11 health bill would have cost each of us 24 bucks, but you must get your priorities straight, and our leaders, whether Republican or Democratic, always know who they must take care of first, last, and always. Pennsylvania Avenue and Wall Street run in a loop.

Unlike Salahi or Lewinsky, Goldman Sachs alumni don’t need ruses or tricks to party inside the White House. Guess whose head’s been bobbing all this time? Speaking of noggins, here is some good news: Unlike in the Third World, where there’s corruption at every level, where nearly everyone with any power, whether a policeman, fireman, clerk or teacher, uses it as leverage to earn a few extra bucks, we are, for now, only rotting at the top. Only our head stinks.

And boy, does it stink! This week, we learn that the Pentagon has “misplaced” $8.7 billion in Iraq reconstruction funds, money made from the sale of Iraqi oil and gas, and from assets frozen before we invaded. We stole their money, in short, and they are suing to get it back. White-collar thieves normally tweak ledgers, but the Pentagon was so corrupt, it didn’t even bother. Billions have disappeared before without provoking an outrage. With our beer and SUV peddling media spewing nonstop garbage, nothing of consequence can stay in focus for long. Today’s headline: “Animal Experts Debunk the Alpha-Dog Myth.”

Until now, corruption has remained an abstraction to most Americans. That’s why it doesn’t quite hurt. Soon enough, however, expect to experience it up close. As all of our governments, from federal on down, continue to operate in the red, municipal wages will fail to keep up with costs of living. That’s why petty graft will become a part of daily life, just like in the so-called developing world.

In fact, we are already a part of the undeveloping world. Are we not men? We are undevo. As we unravel, be prepared to pay traffic cops when they stop you for any violation, real or imagined. “Speeding? But I wasn’t speeding, officer!” “Of course you were speeding.” Be ready to tip teachers so they will give your kids a better grade and won’t ignore them in class. As we slide, government will become much more inefficient, to the point where you must pay a bribe to get anything done. If you need a passport or a driver’s license, there’s no harm in greasing the palm of that unsmiling clerk.   

The poorest Americans already know about the insolence, contempt or brutality of some petty officials, for they have long experienced Third World conditions inside this “greatest of nations.” For most of us, that sucker punch still coils. We’re still number one, if only in our minds. Why, there’s an impressive new skyscraper in downtown Manhattan, catty corner from the site of the World Trade Center. It’s the new headquarters of Goldman Sachs. With a timely assist from American working stiffs, the world’s leading swindling outfit is not doing too badly, it is clear. Should this gleaming edifice ever blow up, however, I’d advise future first responders to think twice before inhaling the pulverized banksters. These silk-suited gentlemen are more toxic than anything you can imagine.

Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a novel, Love Like Hate. He's tracking our deteriorating social scape through his frequently updated photo blog, Postcards from the End of America. Read other articles by Linh.

8 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Don Hawkins said on July 31st, 2010 at 9:21am #

    Linh great witting dam it let’s fight back. Went to your new photo’s and so it goes. Of course the word from the few will be just more illusion to believe in. If you be like us you can have it all. You mean I can have a wedding party with port-a-potty’s that have porcelain seat’s where do I sign up.

  2. Don Hawkins said on July 31st, 2010 at 10:20am #

    In 2008, Washington gave $12.9 billion to Goldman Sachs, which came to $42 for every American man, woman and child, including the unemployed and the homeless. Come on, man, don’t be so stingy!

    Can we think of any investment bankers in the new’s today in a secure location getting married in upstate New York who work’s at Goldman Sachs. Watch that temper Bill oh just on the off chance the greatest minds in human history pass cap and trade a joke on the human race Goldman will make billions I tell you as we all go down the drain in not such slow motion forget porcelain toilet seat’s Gold. Of course we could make a real try tax carbon the tax back to the people and Goldman Sachs doesn’t get one thin dime. Watch that temper Bill. Any downside well yes for the so called elites for the rest of us my kid’s and there kid’s a planet that can still support life.

  3. Don Hawkins said on July 31st, 2010 at 12:54pm #

    Oh the games people play now every night and every day now. This administration any change no nothing a big zero. Health care bill oh please the financial bill come now smile on your brother. The climate bill well they were so tired playing games they will have to go rest now. How about Fox New’s and the whole Socialist part tea party and all that. It does appear just the game they play with one another help’s them get up in the morning. In reality yes still here they appear to be lazy, talk show’s, addresses to the nation, a dinner here a dinner there a vacation here a vacation there. Of course some get caught on that corruption part and must fall on the sword. Is there such a thing as legal corruption Goldman Sachs comes to mind and yes only the tip of the iceberg and so it goes. Say the other side if there is such a thing get’s into power then what? Not much the game starts again as we the people go down the drain in not such slow motion. You have to admit that must be a real kick as these few play the game and pit one person against another then go have dinner pitch a new book or take a vacation such tiring work. Remember just on the off chance what we now see with our own eye’s and what the science tell’s us that is now in old twenty ten pretty much a nobrainer to play the game with climate change that this very day they are doing if nothing else takes a lot of nerve who the hell do they think they are to make that decision? Well granted they have porcelain toilet seat’s, air conditioned tents the leader of the free world just had a party with those tent’s who was that for that’s right the White House Correspondents dinner and party as Rome burns oops don’t tell anybody suppose to be a secret.

  4. GLebowski said on August 1st, 2010 at 12:26am #

    Not only those at the dregz bottomz of this greatest of nations has felt the sting of rebuff at the hands of petty officials. It’s why they’re called ‘petty,’ doncha-no. Unbeknownst to meself, I’ve been playing an American on TV for a good while now, and I wasn’t at the dregz bottomz. But I’m there now! Oorah

  5. kanomi said on August 1st, 2010 at 5:53am #

    The author notes, “This week, we learn that the Pentagon has ‘misplaced’ $8.7 billion in Iraq reconstruction funds, money made from the sale of Iraqi oil and gas, and from assets frozen before we invaded. ”

    Let’s not forget, that on September 10th, 2001, then Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld noted that the Pentagon could not account for $2.3 TRILLION:

    That is orders of magnitude greater fraud and corruption. Not to diminish the current looting and thievery, but let us keep to some common narrative. Let us not forgive the crimes of the past, even as we are overwhelmed by the crimes of the present.

    Record, remember, dissimenate. These criminals can’t get away with their abominations forever. These elites are a guild of thieves and assassins, and every gang of butchers eventually turns on each other. These tyrants and monsters are no different.

    Record their crimes, and if we don’t prosecute them, our grandchildren will have enough evidence to take the wealth they have stolen back and return it to the people.

    That is a fact.

  6. Don Hawkins said on August 1st, 2010 at 6:32am #

    There is no wealth the wealth we human’s gained was from the Earth. Today the wealth is an illusion look no further than Wall Street very clear. Already what we have done to the eco system of Earth a miracle of the solar system and beyond is not to bright. Could it heal yes it sure could and so far without much of the life we now see including human’s. James Lovelock put it well when he said human’s are active animals and do not have the intelligent’s to overcome a problem as big as climate change. That’s not exactly true as we do have the knowledge now but so far will not use it. The human’s in power today and there are many all have a few things in common what ever it takes to make a profit of course the profit with a few look’s good on paper and as we see full speed ahead so as to have dinner and take a vacation from all that hard work. Do they work together sort of but still hate one another. Any attempt so far at imagination, reason is meet with illusion lawyer talk and downright bullshit. Full speed ahead off to the Stars.

  7. Don Hawkins said on August 2nd, 2010 at 9:39am #

    Fourteen extreme national high temperature records have been set in 2010
    This year now ranks in second place for the most number of countries that have set extreme heat records, according to a list supplied to me today by Chris Burt. The new list removes a number of old disputed records, resulting in the year 2007 surpassing 2010 as the year with the most extreme heat records–fifteen. Keep in mind that the matter of determining extreme records is very difficult, and it is often a judgment call as to whether an old record is reliable or not. The list of countries (225) includes islands that are not independent countries, such as Puerto Rico and Greenland. One-third (33%) of those heat records were set in the past ten years. Ten years have had extreme heat records set at five or more countries on Mr. Burt’s list:

    2007: 15 records
    2010: 14 records
    2003: 12 records
    2005: 11 records
    1998: 9 records
    1983: 9 records
    2009: 6 records
    2000: 5 records
    1999: 5 records
    1987: 5 records

    I highly recommend the book Extreme Weather by Chris Burt for those interested in weather records. I thank Mr. Burt and weather record researchers Maximiliano Herrera and Howard Rainford for their assistance identifying this year’s new extreme temperature records. Here’s a list of the fourteen nations that have set extreme heat records this year:

    Finland recorded its hottest temperature on July 29, 2010, when the mercury hit 99°F (37.2°C) at Joensuu. The old (undisputed) record was 95°F (35°C) at Jvaskyla on July 9, 1914.

    Qatar had its hottest temperature in history on July 14, 2010, when the mercury hit 50.4°C (122.7°F) at Doha Airport.

    Russia had its hottest temperature in history on July 11, when the mercury rose to 44.0°C (111.2°F) in Yashkul, Kalmykia Republic, in the European portion of Russia near the Kazakhstan border. The previous hottest temperature in Russia (not including the former Soviet republics) was the 43.8°C (110.8°F) reading measured at Alexander Gaj, Kalmykia Republic, on August 6, 1940. The remarkable heat in Russia this year has not been limited just to the European portion of the country–the Asian portion of Russia also recorded its hottest temperature in history this year, a 42.3°C (108.1°F) reading at Belogorsk, near the Amur River border with China. The previous record for the Asian portion of Russia was 41.7°C (107.1°F) at nearby Aksha on July 21, 2004.

    Sudan recorded its hottest temperature in its history on June 25 when the mercury rose to 49.6°C (121.3°F) at Dongola. The previous record was 49.5°C (121.1°F) set in July 1987 in Aba Hamed.

    Niger tied its record for hottest day in history on June 22, 2010, when the temperature reached 47.1°C (116.8°F) at Bilma. That record stood for just one day, as Bilma broke the record again on June 23, when the mercury topped out at 48.2°C (118.8°F). The previous record was 47.1°C on May 24, 1998, also at Bilma.

    Saudi Arabia had its hottest temperature ever on June 22, 2010, with a reading of 52.0°C (125.6°F) in Jeddah, the second largest city in Saudi Arabia. The previous record was 51.7°C (125.1°F), at Abqaiq, date unknown. The record heat was accompanied by a sandstorm, which caused eight power plants to go offline, resulting in blackouts to several Saudi cities.

    Chad had its hottest day in history on June 22, 2010, when the temperature reached 47.6°C (117.7°F) at Faya. The previous record was 47.4°C (117.3°F) at Faya on June 3 and June 9, 1961.

    Kuwait recorded its hottest temperature in history on June 15 in Abdaly, according to the Kuwait Met office. The mercury hit 52.6°C (126.7°F). Kuwait’s previous all-time hottest temperature was 51.9°C (125.4°F), on July 27,2007, at Abdaly. Temperatures reached 51°C (123.8°F) in the capital of Kuwait City on June 15, 2010.

    Iraq had its hottest day in history on June 14, 2010, when the mercury hit 52.0°C (125.6°F) in Basra. Iraq’s previous record was 51.7°C (125.1°F) set August 8, 1937, in Ash Shu’aybah.

    Pakistan had its hottest temperature in history on May 26, when the mercury hit an astonishing 53.5°C (128.3°F) at the town of MohenjuDaro, according to the Pakistani Meteorological Department. While this temperature reading must be reviewed by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) for authenticity, not only is the 128.3°F reading the hottest temperature ever recorded in Pakistan, it is the hottest reliably measured temperature ever recorded on the continent of Asia.

    Myanmar (Burma) had its hottest temperature in its recorded history on May 12, when the mercury hit 47°C (116.6°F) in Myinmu, according to the Myanmar Department of Meteorology and Hydrology. Myanmar’s previous hottest temperature was 45.8°C (114.4°F) at Minbu, Magwe division on May 9, 1998. According to Chris Burt, author of the authoritative weather records book Extreme Weather, the 47°C measured this year is the hottest temperature in Southeast Asia history.

    Ascention Island (St. Helena, a U.K. Territory) had its hottest temperature in history on March 25, 2010, when the mercury hit 34.9°C (94.8°C) at Georgetown. The previous record was 34.0°C (93.2°F) at Georgetown in April 2003, exact day unknown.

    The Solomon Islands had their hottest temperature in history on February 1, 2010, when the mercury hit 36.1°C (97°F) at Lata Nendo (Ndeni). The previous record for Solomon Islands was 35.6°C (96.0°F) at Honaiara, date unknown.

    Columbia had its hottest temperature in history on January 24, 2010, when Puerto Salgar hit 42.3°C (108°F). The previous record was 42.0°C (107.6°F) at El Salto in March 1988 (exact day unknown). Wunderblog dot com

  8. mary said on August 2nd, 2010 at 2:15pm #

    The poor people in the North West of Pakistan received 322mm of rain in one day last week resulting in these disastrous floods which have swept away roads, bridges and houses and have killed 1,500 people. Another monsoon system is heading in and will result in flooding of the Indus basin further south. The previous record rainfall was 256mm in the whole of the month in June 1956.

    Amd here in the SE of England, we have received no rain for 10 weeks plus high temperatures which is very unusual for an English summer.