Glenn Greenwald points out that:
That the Obama administration is now repeatedly declaring that the “war on terror” will last at least another decade (or two) is vastly more significant than all three of this week’s big media controversies (Benghazi, IRS, and AP/DOJ) combined. The military historian Andrew Bacevich has spent years warning that US policy planners have adopted an explicit doctrine of “endless war”. Obama officials, despite repeatedly boasting that they have delivered permanently crippling blows to al-Qaida, are now, as clearly as the English language permits, openly declaring this to be so.
It is hard to resist the conclusion that this war has no purpose other than its own eternal perpetuation. This war is not a means to any end but rather is the end in itself. Not only is it the end itself, but it is also its own fuel: it is precisely this endless war – justified in the name of stopping the threat of terrorism – that is the single greatest cause of that threat.
Naturally, war is peace.
Laura Finley states a truth which ought to be publicly announced every day until its truth become obvious:
Guns. Media. Mental Illness. Lax Security. All these and more have been offered as explanations for the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday, December 14 that left 26 people, including 20 children, dead. And all of those things may have played a role. But none are the cause of the problem. And heated debate about them, while important, serves to obscure some other very important conversations about the root issue, which is that the U.S. is a violent, militaristic culture that, in virtually every institution, demonstrates violence as a means of solving problems.
The US is a society organized for war. We spend almost 50 percent of federal tax monies every year on military — not just to pay soldiers and veterans, but to engage in conflict, for research and development of weapons and equipment, and more. When this amount of funding is spent on military, it clearly cannot be used to build infrastructure, to enhance the quality of our public schools, to provide social services, to assist the poor, hungry and mentally ill, etc. Our military budget is equal to that of the next fifteen countries combined. More than this, however, militarism is an ideology that privileges certain values, including hierarchy, competition, authoritarianism, and obedience, among others.
Politicians, fearful of being seen as “soft,” engage the country in still more violence, at the same time inadequately addressing human needs. This militaristic ideology has shaped the ways our schools are structured, what we teach, and how we teach it. It impacts our media, as commentators on either side of the political divide use the same aggressive methods of yelling at and interrupting one another and degrading their “enemy” whenever possible. Media over-represents the amount of violent crime, for which creates a fearful populace that will sometimes accept any effort that is supposed to keep us safe. Our criminal justice system is militaristic, from our incessant “wars on” mentality to our arming and equipping military-style swat teams and more. I could go on, but I hope the point is made.
- Learning from Endless War (consortiumnews.com)
- Psychiatry Has No Answer to Gun Massacres By: Peter R. Breggin, MD (prn.fm)
- Newtown kids v Yemenis and Pakistanis: what explains the disparate reactions? | Glenn Greenwald (guardian.co.uk)
- The NFL and Newtown: Reflections on a Violent World (bagnewsnotes.com)
- Are Violent Games Linked to Violent Crimes? (voanews.com)
- The Beginning of the End for Mindless America Support for Israel? (counterpunch.org)
Hostess Brands, the makers of Wonder Bread, Twinkies and Ding Dongs intends to go out of business because of a recent labor strike.
Hostess expected its Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union members to sign a concession-laden contract produced by a bankruptcy court, which its union members refused to do.
Soon, Americans will no longer have the opportunity to purchase unhealthy food with brand names that became pejorative words some used to describe persons they considered insubstantial and ridiculous.
Michael Doliner (his blog can be found here) wrote a restrained yet powerful essay describing the personal and social disasters which mark homelessness in Los Angeles. In his telling and my interpretation of it the homeless are homo sacer, beings present in society only as those excluded from its common practices, its typical places and from the law itself. Doliner does not use this term but the point of using it appears with clarity in the following passage:
Naturally, the police cruise the zone [in which the homeless live]. Almost always, along fifth street, one or even two cruisers sit at the curb. Beside them a couple of officers usually scold a homeless man or two. I wonder what, given their passivity, the homeless guys might have done? In any case the police seem only to talk to them, for what else can they do? Drag them in? Fine them? I have seen no real violence. It all seems rather routine. Clearly, a modus vivendi has developed.
In these districts a minor ironic reversal of privilege prevails. The homeless stagger about in the street, often down the center of the street with impunity. California has a no-jaywalking law the police gleefully enforce. The fine is $200. But the homeless are immune. Where are they going to get $200? Give them a summons and they are likely to use it for toilet paper. And what is the city going to do about it? Jail them? They might prefer it to the street. Recently, while in the fabric district just above an area particularly dense with the homeless, my friend, Liam, warned me that although the homeless were wandering about in the street it was not safe for me to do so. I looked like I could pay the fine, and the police would single me out among the jaywalkers.
The homeless are sacred and profane, legally controlled but autonomous, inside and outside society. They are the bad fate which can befall anyone who participates in a money-driven social order. And they are “superfluous,” as Doliner remarks. They cannot be rehabilitated or given a secure place in society. As such, they strongly structure the personal horizons of most Americans, for losing one’s home and becoming homo sacer is but a job loss away during the new Age of Austerity and Barbarism.
Doliner’s essay is worth reading.
Some of the explanations for America’s current relatively high gas prices contain a kernel of truth. Countries have hoarded petroleum in order to have enough of it on hand if Israel and the United States attack Iran and thereby disrupt the flow of crude oil from the region. There have been incidental disruptions to the global production of gasoline that do account for local price increases. But the speculative trading of crude oil is the primary mechanism for the price increases seen by consumers at the pumps over the past year. Rentier capital now dominates the commodity market for crude oil, according to a McClatchy report:
Historically, financial speculators accounted for about 30 percent of oil trading in commodity markets, while producers and end users made up about 70 percent. Today it’s almost the reverse.
A McClatchy review of the latest Commitment of Traders report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates oil trading, shows that producers and merchants made up just 36 percent of all contracts traded in the week ending Feb. 14.
That same week, open interest, or the total outstanding oil contracts for next-month delivery of 1,000 barrels of oil (about 42,000 gallons), stood near an all-time high above 1.486 million. Speculators who’ll never take delivery of oil made up 64 percent of the market.
Speculators are motivated only by profit-taking. Thus:
Not surprisingly, big Wall Street traders on Tuesday projected oil will rise above $112 a barrel; some such as Swiss giant Vitol even suggested $150-a-barrel oil is coming soon. When they dominate the market, as they do, speculators’ bids can make their prophecies self-fulfilling.
Austerity is for the “have-nots,” Alan Simpson’s “little people.” Times are fat for the “haves,” who have the means and the will to profit well from the misery of others.
- Repost: Once again, speculators behind sharply rising oil and gasoline prices (shady stuff. I HATE these speculators) (ghettoracer.wordpress.com)
- speculation is expensive! (dimitrisnowden.wordpress.com)
- Blame Oil Speculators, Not Obama, For Rising Oil Prices (kaystreet.wordpress.com)
- Wall Street greed fueling gas prices (cnn.com)
- Rove and Hannity’s Barely Conceal Glee Over Rising Gas Prices Ignoring Primary Cause — Oil Speculators (crooksandliars.com)
- Rise and Rise of U.S. Gasoline Prices: Wall Street and Big Oil to Blame? (ibtimes.com)
- Oil Speculators Cash in on Washington’s Lapse (thestreet.com)
- Montreal drivers hit with 14-cent spike in gas prices (ctv.ca)
There are so many nits to pick, foolish claims to debunk, neoliberal hooey to ridicule…. I shall limit myself to three points the President failed to address last night:
- Weakening the dollar
- Dismantling America’s empire
- Planned reindustrialization
A strong dollar cheapens the price of America’s imports. It also feeds Wall Street with foreign capital. It is, in other words, the chief reason the United States has a service economy dominated by the FIRE sector.
America’s empire absorbs capital and labor power, it wastes both on non-consumable goods, it drives the growth of the security-surveillance apparatus, it directly and indirectly undermines the Constitution and it creates political and military debacles which produce blowback. It must go as quickly as it can be safely dismantled.
Education and training will do Americans little good if they fail to find jobs which make use of their cultural capital. In fact, an educated and trained work force that fails to make good on its talents is one that wastes resources. To avoid wasting these resources, the United States ought to institute an industrial planning agency with the capital resources and legal means to develop an ecologically sound industrial sector. It makes no sense to demand a low rate of employment for a well-educated workforce when those workers will work at service sector jobs that pay little.
These reforms are radical with respect to the social system now in place. If achieved,they would decisively change the identity of that system. But they are not comprehensive and do not touch on so many related problems that would also need to be addressed. These include reforming the tax code, making it strongly progressive; developing public transportation; reforming the campaign-finance laws; etc. But the three points listed above would be one place to start.
- President Obama Delivers State of Disarray Address (thecollegeconservative.com)
- 2012 State of the Union Initiatives (continuumfi.wordpress.com)
- Missed It? Read the Highlights of Obama’s State of the Union Address (thebullmhs.com)
- The State of the Union: Our Real Social Wealth (blogher.com)
- Furniture maker lands coveted spot at State of the Union (money.cnn.com)
- Obama Talks Jobs, Economy In ‘State Of The Union’ (huffingtonpost.com)
- 2012 State Of The Union Address: Obama Declares Himself King (5440fight.com)
- YOU LIE MR.PRESIDENT: Fact Checking Obama State of the Union Speech (votingamerican.wordpress.com)
- Obama Invites 5 Clean Energy Guests to State of the Union (ecopolitology.org)
The U.S. recession officially ended in June of 2009, but most Americans don’t feel like we are in a recovery. That’s because it’s been a weak recovery, with the size of the economy barely bigger today than it was four years ago, when the recession started.
Since America is a rich country, it is not growth itself that matters most but employment and, of course, the distribution of income. And the employment numbers are just terrible.
The simplest measure is the percentage of the working-age population that is employed. That peaked at 63.4 percent in December 2006. It plummeted to a low of 58.2 percent last July and is hardly different now — 58.5 percent in the latest figures.
What this means is that we need about 10 million jobs to get back to full employment. There was a lot of happy talk earlier this month when the December job numbers were released. They showed 200,000 payroll jobs added in December, and the unemployment rate falling to 8.5 percent. Adding even 200,000 jobs a month is not very good for an economy that needs at least 90,000-100,000 jobs a month just to keep up with the growth of the working-age population.
And as my colleague Dean Baker pointed out, the latest jobs numbers have probably been over-optimistic. Realistically, he notes, at present trends of job growth we will not hit full employment until 2028. This would be an economic failure of disastrous proportions.
- Nation’s Mayors Worry as Job Growth Moves Out of Cities (247wallst.com)
- More on the Celebration Over December’s Job Report (my.firedoglake.com)
According to a New York Times report:
After crisis talks on Sunday night, Prime Minister George Papandreou and his main rival agreed to create a new unity government in Greece that will not be led by Mr. Papandreou, according to a statement released Sunday night by the Greek president, who mediated the talks.
Mr. Papandreou and the opposition leader Antonis Samaras agreed to meet again on Monday to hammer out the details. The name of the new prime minister is not expected until then.
The new government is intended to govern for several months to put in place a debt agreement with the European Union, a step European leaders consider crucial to shoring up the euro. Then it is to hold a general election and dissolve.
The new government will unify around imposing a new austerity regime on Greece. It will exist only to serve that end. To be sure, this will not be an all-inclusive political settlement. After all, the government will not include representatives of the Greek protesters who have made their will known on this matter. It will merely be a unified Greek elite who will stand alongside of European Union political elite.
- Greek prime minister won’t head interim government – USA Today (usatoday.com)
- Euro debt crisis: Greek prime minister George Papandreou to resign once coalition deal is struck (telegraph.co.uk)
- Euro debt crisis: Greek PM George Papandreou to resign (guardian.co.uk)
- Greek PM George Papandreou Expected to Resign (blippitt.com)
- Greece works throughout weekend to avoid bankruptcy – Christian Science Monitor (csmonitor.com)
- Papandreou out as Greek leaders agree unity government deal (guardian.co.uk)
- Papandreou to resign when coalition deal made: lawmaker (business.financialpost.com)
- Greek president to host key talks (bbc.co.uk)
- Greece prime minister struggles to form coalition (msnbc.msn.com)
- Greek Pm Happy Believers Movement (socyberty.com)