Monday, December 13, 2004

The day the music died

I've heard and seen NOTHING on mainstream media (MSM) about this item from BBC News:

Romania is demanding that the United States hand over a US marine who left the country after being involved in a car crash that killed a top rock star. Police say a breath test suggests the marine had been drinking when his car hit a taxi carrying Teo Peter, 50, bass player with Romanian group Compact.

The US ambassador expressed regret but said the US authorities would first conduct their own investigation.

Romanians have reacted with shock and grief to the veteran rocker's death.

The marine, who has not been named, worked as a guard at the US embassy in Bucharest.

Police say he was driving a car that failed to stop at a junction in the capital. He hit a taxi, killed Peter and injuring the taxi driver.

Romania's foreign ministry has expressed "consternation" that the marine left the country immediately after the incident.

It sent an official protest to the US embassy, asking for the man to be brought back and to have his diplomatic immunity lifted.

I googled "teo peter" and the first 38 hits were from news sources outside the US. Nothing in the major news.

This is just another example of how we treat, and how much attention we pay to issues of other countries. With actions like this, we cement our position as the world's bully, with all that entails. And, like most bullies, we can dish it out but we can't take it. I can virtually guarantee that if this happened in the US things would go a bit differently.

Imagine a drunken Romanian embassy guard smacking into and killing Bruce Springsteen. I suspect the guard would be hauled off to the nearest jail, and the National Guard would have to be called out to protect him-wait, I forgot, the National Guard is kinda busy right now. But that's another topic. And Romania would be screaming about "diplomatic immunity" in the world press. And we in the US would smugly sit back and say that Romania had no right to press us in this, after all we're the US, dammit. We're the greatest country on earth!

Well, we used to be. But with the dollar falling against the Euro everyday, and China and Japan holding most of our national debt, we're not such a tower of strength anymore. The rest of the civilized world thinks we have become reactionary 18th century warlords. With our zeal for building wealth for those who already have it, our disdain for our own poor, our lack of finesse in world affairs, we are not so much a world power as the last vestiges of a failed experiment in self governance. They are moving past us.

In a recent book, it was pointed out that standards of living judged by wages, paid vacation, health care, and infant mortality are higher in all other first-world countries. We're 29th in infant mortality. CEO wages are rising exponentially while at the same time worker's wages and benefits are falling. In short, we're doing just about everything wrong, and not much right.

And yet the battle this election was about "values." We care more about gay marriage than about education for our kids. We care more about abortion than the deaths of children from malnutrition. We care more about Scott Peterson than we do about 1,294 American soldiers killed in Iraq. And we certainly don't care about an idiot American who should be punished by the country he offended by killing one of their beloved artists.

What in the hell is wrong with this picture?

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