2015

FIFA. Seriously?

I was in a taxi chatting with the driver; the usual conversations I seem to have with fellow immigrants: how long have we been here? Is the family with us? How often do we go back home to visit? Always delightful! Conversation soon drifted to soccer.

“We say football,” he tells me. “What this American name soccer? It is foot, because you use foot to kick ball, right?”

I agree with him. It is Football from the alleys of Jerusalem, Caracas, Abuja and covering the entire continents of Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and everywhere else.

Anyway, I asked him what he thought of the FIFA bribery scandal.

He turns around, “You know Maradona?”

“Of course!” I answered.

“Yes! Yes! Mees (Miss, endearingly pronounced by a Latino). Maradona talk about corroption (not a typo; it’s just how he pronounces it) and bribery for FIFA years ago!”

Indeed! It seems that the whole world has known about this for some years now. Did it take our Justice Department that long to put together their case, or was this the opportune political moment for the scandal to erupt? Just asking!

My friends, Marianne and Nancy (not their real names), have tuned out the world recently, and they have stopped watching, reading or listening to the news. “It’s just too much,” they said. “It seems as if there is some sordid scandal every other day! Pretty disgusting!”

In my mind, I reviewed some of those recent scandals:

There’s Hastert and his scandal with hush money paid out to cover sexual misdeeds. And is he the Only politician with ghosts in his closet? Believe it not!

Then the Duggars and that sexual molestation issue. Honestly, some of those “Holier-than-thou” evangelists are simply preposterous! How can they continue to preach piety to the hapless crowds that believe them and support their lavish lifestyles with their contributions? Pretty corrupt!

Migrants! By the boat loads, they are fleeing their countries. Moreover, is the Western World going to succeed in stemming their huge flow as they cross borders and brave oceans to flee their desperate conditions? Not happening! Not a chance. Unless, instead of all those trillions on arms and wars, we go to these places and help to fix them up so that people don’t need to escape? Much, much less costly than the money we are pouring in now to create more dysfunction all over the world. Heartbreaking! Scandalous!

I also recall that half million dollars worth of weapons that went “missing” in Yemen earlier this year? How does that happen? And all those millions upon millions misspent on mostly failed reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, in Iraq and, don’t forget Haiti! Remember all the millions collected from you and me? They rarely reached those who really needed them on that miserable island – and are still to this day in need of them. Corrupt!

Oh, but wait, because, here we go again, this time building “lily pads” in Iraq! Again? With a new spin, a different name, a bit more choreography. Don’t we ever learn? Then this, at a White House press briefing: we cannot do for the Iraqis (in fighting ISIS) what they must do for themselves (I’m paraphrasing)!!! That said with a straight face and none in the elite press corps attending challenged it! Hypocrites! Cowards! We invade and occupy Iraq, smash it to bits, dismantle it totally, choose one leader over another while ignoring the catastrophic repercussions of our choices and actions in order to bring about “freedom and democracy” and then we have the temerity, the audacity, the vulgarity to tell the traumatized, stricken Iraqis that they should do more for themselves? Seriously? Scandalous!!

Oh, wait! There’s more! The TSA – into which our government and its “Homeland Security” has poured millions upon millions for training, equipment and to ensure safety on airplanes – failed 95% of the testing in locating weapons at airports! Are we hauling anyone’s ass to jail for that? Scandalous! In addition, and despite the fact of the relentless and constant surveillance we are enduring, the records of millions of US Government Employees have been recently hacked. Does this mean that the billions of dollars spent on the security hullabaloo since 9/11 have merely produced a Paper Tiger? How does that happen? Mind-boggling!

G7, anyone? It was G8, you know, before those smart alecks and one sorry woman, cavorting in that exclusive club, decided to expel Putin. You’d think that Angela would have told them: Now, now, boys! Let’s just all play nice together, shall we? Instead, she played along! And what is that achieving? Has this club solved ANY world problems yet as they frolic around in medieval castles while our world is in this desperate Free Fall? Shameful! Disgraceful!

There is a young Black man, Kalief Browder, a Teenager at the time of his incarceration, who spent three years in Solitary Confinement, without a trial in Rikers Island. He committed suicide because of the beatings and trauma of that experience! A teenager! Three years? No trial? He is not the only one in a criminal corporate prison system that makes a farce out of “we are a country of laws!” As for Solitary Confinement and Capital Punishment? These are barbaric and inhumane! But, what should we expect from a government that sanctions Torture and is still at it! Scandalous!

And, only lately, Charleston, South Carolina exploded on our TV screens with news of Nine Black People mowed down by a white racist punk loser! The world is aghast! This is not only Scandalous, but, moreover, Totally Unacceptable and Blatantly Racist!

Moreover, that White cop in Texas throwing a Black bikini-clad Teenager on the ground and practically mauling her. Apparently, his excuse is that he was “stressed” and so took his frustrations out – gun in hand – on a group of Unarmed Teenagers! This is just one more example of mostly innocent black people (as well as other minorities) being specifically targeted. Scandalous, or what?

Until when is this to go on encouraged by some politicians who are oblivious to inane and inflammatory words like “We Need to Take Our Country Back” (from Whom, pray?) and “Our Religious Freedoms Are Threatened” (By Whom?) These are simply code words and innuendo for racism, bigotry and the preservation of white privileges! Ordinary people know what they really mean!

Lastly, need I mention that charade of a parade of the same old politicians vying for the title of POTUS in these United States? Are we again to buy into those rousing speeches with all their hollow promises? Moreover, with the billions being poured into this upcoming election are they to succeed in brainwashing the electorate again into voting and, sadly, believing that the promises this time will deliver? Seriously?

. . . and, of course, there’s much, much more unfolding Every Day! The Rot is seeping from the very top and oozing its way downward into all segments of society like a virus gone viral!

Frankly, and though I am neither Catholic nor anything else anymore these days, the Only World Leader making any sense at all currently is Pope Francis! FIFA? Convince Pope Francis and me that this is the Ultimate Case of Corruption! Not even close! Nevertheless, Truth, especially these days, cannot remain undercover anymore whether it concerns FIFA, our rotten politicians, or anything else.

But then, and to use an already overused comparison: we, ordinary citizens, are like that frog sitting in warm water that is slowly being heated up while it adapts and adapts some more until the water gets so very hot that it finally dies.

. . . and that, in a nutshell, is what is happening . . . unless we somehow jump out of that hot cauldron, get involved, speak out and vote all the corrupt scoundrels out?

Mind you, and just in case you think that I am being too critical of the United States, these scandals are not only happening here. Across the world, and in the majority of its countries, the ruling classes and their cohorts are behaving in similar corrupt ways. Scandalous! Deplorable! Unsustainable!

You, Reader, and you, my friends Marianne and Nancy, do you feel that you cannot do anything about all this corruption? Have you no other options than tuning out? Really? So, are you that wretched, helpless frog simmering in hot water? Just asking!

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