Killer dies

It is a shame he did not live another century.

Re: The State of the Union

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.

An Occupy Pittsburgh statement on Militarism

The Pittsburgh General Assembly passed this statement on 11.1.2011.

The public source for the Statement can be found here. I have included a copy below.

Read more of this post

Quote of the day

Ralph Nader channels a new kind of bacteria:

Escherichia coli: Scanning electron micrograph...

Escherichia coli

My name is E.coli 0104:H4. I am being detained in a German Laboratory in Baveria, charged with being “a highly virulent strain of bacteria.” Together with many others like me, the police have accused us of causing about 20 deaths and nearly five hundred cases of kidney failure — so far. Massive publicity and panic all around.

You can’t see me, but your scientists can. They are examining me and I know my days are numbered. I hear them calling me a “biological terrorist,” an unusual combination of two different E.coli bacteria cells. One even referred to me as a “conspiracy of mutants”.

It is not my fault, I want you to know. I cannot help but harm innocent humans, and I am very sad about this.

I want to redeem myself, so I am sending this life-saving message straight from my Petri dish to you.

This outbreak in Germany has been traced to food — location unknown. What is known to yo

u is that invisible terrorism from bacterium and viruses take massively greater lives than the terrorism you are spending billions of dollars and armaments to stop in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Malaria, caused by infection with one of four species of

Plasmodium, a parasite transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes destroys a million lives a year. Many of the victims are children and pregnant women. Mycobacterium tuberculosis takes nearly three million lives. The human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) causes over a million deaths. Many other microorganisms in the water, soil, air, and food are daily weapons of mass destruction. Very little in your defense budget goes for operational armed forces against this kind of violence. Your agencies, such as the Center for Disease Control, conduct some research but again nothing compared to the research for your missiles, drones, aircraft and satellites.

Your associates are obsessed with possible bacteriological warfare by your human enemies. Yet you are hardly doing anything on the ongoing silent violence of my indiscriminate brethren.

Maureen Dowd — Moral idiot

Dowd’s latest sees her opining:

I don’t want closure. There is no closure after tragedy.

I want memory, and justice, and revenge.

When you’re dealing with a mass murderer who bragged about incinerating thousands of Americans and planned to kill countless more, that seems like the only civilized and morally sound response.

We briefly celebrated one of the few clear-cut military victories we’ve had in a long time, a win that made us feel like Americans again — smart and strong and capable of finding our enemies and striking back at them without getting trapped in multitrillion-dollar Groundhog Day occupations.

But for the nay-sayers, Dowd would be all aglow with the sense of entitlement and efficacy she believes to be her due as a member of the American elite. She thus takes after the Republicans here and the leaders abroad for criticizing the bin Laden assassination. What she fails to grasp is that killing the Boogeyman was a political spectacle that will only justify the “multitrillion-dollar Groundhog Day operations’ she dislikes and the kind of Presidents that will start them and see them through to the end. The bin Laden assassination was an instance in which the American empire practiced the propaganda of the deed.

Capturing and trying bin Laden was the only civilized response, at least for those individuals for whom the rule of law is a key component of a civilized society.

Quote of the day

This one issued from Mike Whitney‘s keyboard:

What does the assassination of Osama Bin Laden have in common with Guantanamo Bay?

They’re both intended to send a message that the United States has sunk deeper into savagery and abandoned any commitment to conventional norms of behavior. That’s the message, and we hear it “loud and clear”.

We don’t need our Harvard-educated president to crow about his latest gangland “hit” to know that America has turned into a moral swamp. That’s obvious in every area of policy, foreign and domestic. It’s just that certain incidents draw more attention than others, like when a drone incinerates a home full of women and children in the Pakistani outback or when F-16s reduce a city of 300,000 (Falluja) to rubble leaving behind a legacy of birth defects, cancer and grinding poverty. These are the real “headline grabbers”, like shrugging off the sovereign rights of an ally, invading their airspace, and deploying special ops to conduct a Rambo-style massacre in a civilian section of town.

Booyah. You go America! U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A.

Well, yeah, that’s a problem….

Seal of the Central Intelligence Agency of the...

Image via Wikipedia

Ray McGovern, a retired CIA analyst, tells us that:

The news that President Barack Obama has picked Gen. David Petraeus to be CIA director raises troubling questions, including whether the commander most associated with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will tolerate objective analysis of those two conflicts.

What if CIA analysts assess the prospects of success in those two wars as dismal and conclude that the troop “surges” pushed so publicly by Petraeus wasted both the lives of American troops and many billions of taxpayer dollars? Will CIA Director Petraeus welcome such critical analysis or punish it?

The Petraeus appointment also suggests that the President places little value on getting the straight scoop on these key war-related issues. If he did want the kind of intelligence analysis that, at times, could challenge the military, why is he giving the CIA job to a general with a huge incentive to gild the lily regarding the “progress” made under his command?

McGovern does not dwell upon the most relevant question in all of this, namely, “What danger does the United States confront by putting a military man in charge of a key component of the surveillance apparatus?” The relevance of this question ought to be obvious. In fact, it is so obvious that an important legal-constitutional and thus political goal of every administration ought to include the confining the military to its proper sphere. Boundary maintenance between the civilian and military functions of the government is an elemental institutional component of a modern political freedom. Thus, having a member of an already politicized officer corps lead the CIA will only undermine civilian control of the military and, more generally, the security-surveillance apparatus.

The Petraeus appointment is another unfortunate and disturbing move by a President that ought to know betters.

Update (5.1.2011)

Another warning that targets the Petraeus nomination:

David Petraeus’ appointment as CIA director speaks to the increasing dominance in counterinsurgency in policy and raises a series of troubling questions about general militarization of American society. Petraeus is the man who literally rewrote the book on counterinsurgency and is set to lead the most powerful covert agency in human history. His appointment means that the CIA is going to be even more involved in the shadowy, protracted, ambiguous conflicts that involve building up governments and social movements that support US policy and destroying those that do not.

McQuade continues:

What will Petraeus’ tenure as CIA director mean for future political developments in the United States? “Counterrevolutionary chickens,” [Eqbal] Ahmad presciently noted in 1971, also “have a tendency to come home to roast. Whether the ‘homecoming’ is complete or partial depends on the strains and stresses of involvements abroad a government’s ability to extricate itself from the war in good time. The [French] Fourth Republic survived the first Indochinese war but collapsed during the Algerian. It is impossible to tell how many more Vietnams the American republic can sustain. There is, however, considerable evidence that forces of law and order, including the army and several local police departments are applying the theories of pacification and counterguerilla warfare to problems at home.”

Yet, the Petraeus nomination may be best considered a symptom, not a cause, of America’s current predicament. As Glenn Greenwald points out.

The nomination of Petraeus doesn’t change much; it merely reflects how Washington is run. That George Bush’s favorite war-commanding General — who advocated for and oversaw the Surge in Iraq — is also Barack Obama’s favorite war-commanding General, and that Obama is now appointing him to run a nominally civilian agency that has been converted into an “increasingly militarized” arm of the American war-fighting state, says all one needs to know about the fully bipartisan militarization of American policy. There’s little functional difference between running America’s multiple wars as a General and running them as CIA Director because American institutions in the National Security State are all devoted to the same overarching cause: Endless War.

In other words, Petraeus is not the real danger to Americans; the real danger is the American political system as a whole.