Sunday, February 28, 2021

On Golden Idols

 IN Exodus it is reported that while Moses spent time on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments from Yahweh, the people of Israel down below got tired of waiting for him and so constructed at least one, maybe more than one, as silver is mentioned along with gold, statue to be worshipped, with the golden idol, usually claimed to be of a calf, the most notorious.  When Moses returned with the Commandments he was wroth with anger and denounced them for this perfidy, and Exodus reports that Yahweh destroyed this idol, turning its gold into "dust" or other kinds of small particles depending on the translation, and then a part not usually discussed forced the people who had worshipped this golden idol to drink a liquid containing this dust. Of course one of the first commandments forbade the making of "graven images," with this golden calf or whatever and any silver idol being clear and prime examples of what was clearly forbidden.

So it is ironic that at a conference heavily attended by religious right fundamentalists who most certainly know this passage a golden looking statue of our most recent president has been publicly displayed. The group doing so apparently had a panel not open to the media, although QAnon believer Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was seen entering the location of the panel when it was held.  I saw on the internet a photo of a man bowing in front of this absurd statue and placing his hands on it in a clearly reverential way.  I have also read of a man in India who made a statue of our former president and was outright fully worshipping it as a god.  That reportedly healthy middle-aged man recently keeled over dead from a heart attack.  In any case, at CPAC in Orlando we pretty clearly have people worshipping a golden idol, one depicting a living man who does not seem even remotely worthy of a thread of respect, much less worship.  All this in advance of him making a speech that many people see as him solidifying his apparent dominant control over the current opposition political party in the US.

I do not want to go on about this too much, but even though now the Dems control, just barely in the Senate, both the White House and both houses of Congress, clearly the GOP is in position to possibly retake control of onw or both of the Congressional houses in 2022, and even possibly reelect the former POTUS, or is not him then somebody who has been worshipping his golden statue or at least figuratively doing so.  His critics appear to be being purged from the party, or at least isolated.

The most damaging thing about this, even if the Dems are able to hang on to power over the next few years, is that even the possibility of him or somebody following his views returning to power at all in the foreseeable future means that the damage he did especially to US foreign policy and commitments is difficult if not impossible to overcome.  I already have concerns about some overly hawkish tendencies in the Biden admin, but if even in areas such as rejoining the Paris Accord or negotiating with Iran or China or allies, other nations will no longer be willing to accept commitments made by this president or his admin because they might be so easily overturned after another election, well, this is serious harm and damage.  It means that while maybe parts of the post-WW II era that Trump overturned needed changing, those parts that were benevolent may not be able to be restored.  We shall be stuck drinking a fluid made of gold dust instead.

Barkley Rosser


Anonymous said...

I thought of the same golden calf metaphor in seeing the Trump gold tribute. I used to be a glass half full person, but I am afraid we will have to drink that bitter drink of future golden Trump influence from a glass that is half empty.

Sandwichman said...

"I have also read of a man in India who made a statue of our former president and was outright fully worshipping it as a god. That reportedly healthy middle-aged man recently keeled over dead from a heart attack."

Sounded too good to be true...

"Telangana man who built Donald Trump’s statue and worshipped him dies of heart attack"

Anonymous said...

This is an excellent, hopeful essay.

Still, what should be understood is that the Biden administration has already made clear that the United States is the same country we were through the Trump years, which means threatening and belligerent. The same Democratic officials who were openly critical of the bombing of Syria during the Trump years, evidently have no criticism of the Biden bombing of Syria.

The arbitrary bombing of Syria is no small diplomatic matter, and goes along with the Biden administration already promising to continue to interfere in the domestic affairs of several Latin American countries. Have US sanctions against any foreign officials or peoples been removed?

Any leaders of non-allied countries that count on a diplomatic and reliable US would actually be irresponsible.

Anonymous said...

The antagonistic and belligerent way in which the Biden administration has in particular been dealing with China so far makes a reliable and diplomatic United States foolish to count on for leaders of non-allied countries. The Trump administration used historic racial prejudice to allow for continually vilifying and even encouraging a splitting apart of China, and for repeatedly trying to undermine the Chinese economy. That the Trump administration was always unsuccessful in trying to "contain" China is not diplomatically reassuring and the approach seems to be continuing.

I do not understand how a Cold War-like policy of trying to contain China can possibly be reassuring beyond say a Britain or an Australia. Fostering racial antipathy to China can be no reassuring way to construct US foreign policy.

This essay was excellent, but I am not so far assured by the Biden administration. Samantha Power of the Biden administration, for instance, has just attacked China fiercely and with no evidence to think the attack justified, the episode is not isolated.

Anonymous said...

Since President Trump arbitrarily chose to break America’s agreement to a multination nuclear pact with Iran, let alone assassinate a Iranian military official, let alone sanction Iran several times. Biden could have chosen to abide by the pact with Iran again. Biden however chose to keep the sanctions on Iran and set out new conditions for the nuclear pact. The Trump assassination was even supported by the new Secretary of State.

I suggest America is not yet being reassuring in this manner.

kevin quinn said...

Many of the CPAC speakers assume that Trump is still President. I have a competing religious analogy. Trump is evidently Imam Mahdi, the 12th Imam, hidden behind the Gate of Occultation at Mar-a-Lago.

Hilary got a lot of grief for calling Trump's followers a "basket of deplorables," but that description is certainly apt for the CPAC crowd. said...

I am concerned about various things going on with foreign policy in the Biden admin. Much is reportedly still "under review," but I am sorry Wendy Sherman has not been approved by the Senate yet for her position, with more hawkish types certainly making a lot of unpleasant noises.

On Iran I am hoping that what we are seeing on both sides, with Iran's foreign minister just rejecting publicly an invitation from the EU to start public negotiations over getting the JCPOA back and operational fully, is a lot of loud noise to keep hawkish home folks happy, and that in fact as has often been the case for such things that there is a secret negotiation happening in Oman or wherever that will result in everybody getting back on board with the treaty. Biden has been around long enough and has people who have as well to know how to do this. I just hope that is happening rather than this important matter getting taken over by a bunch of loud mouthed hawks who do not seem to represent what Biden ran on regarding this.

Anonymous said...

Fine hopeful statement on Iran. The Treaty as it was needs to be re-entered and sanctions for the American withdrawal need to be ended.

Anonymous said...

Important article relevant to the post on digital currency:

March 1, 2021

m-CBDC Bridge project showcases future of global banking
By Matteo Giovannini

China's relentless effort to elevate its role and prestige in global finance is proceeding through continuous technological advancements towards a not-so-distant future where all transactions are going to be conducted in a totally digitalized form, and has marked another decisive milestone this week.

As reported by several business media outlets the People's Bank of China (PBOC) has joined this week central banks from Thailand, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Hong Kong in a project nicknamed m-CBDC Bridge that is aimed at developing a distributed ledger technology for real time cross-border transactions involving domestic and foreign currencies.

The initiative is not surprising since China and the UAE have simply expanded an initiative started last year under the name of Project Inthanon-LionRock by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and the Bank of Thailand (BOT) whose goal was to utilize central bank digital currencies (CBDC) in order to circumvent the banking network and allow direct payments among banks.

In my view, this move represents a major breakthrough in the development and implementation of China's virtual currency since, for the first time, it shows an attempt to test the digital yuan outside of the country's borders giving a significant acceleration to a development process that has lasted for over five years....

Anonymous said...

An aside for Barkley Rosser:

March 2, 2021

China's Inner Mongolia to end all cryptocurrency mining projects

North China's Inner Mongolia considers to end all cryptocurrency mining projects and stop reviewing new projects in energy-consuming industries, in an attempt to meet energy efficiency targets.

The draft rule posted online on February 25, opening for public consultation until March 3, said the northern province plans to cut the amount of energy consumed per unit of GDP by 3 percent from 2020 levels in 2021.

Besides targeting traditional energy-consuming industries, including steel, coke, and methanol production, the new rule also set limits on cryptocurrency mining.... said...

Thanks, A., on the Inner Mong. mining story. Thought that had stopped awhile ago, but not surprised it had not.