Saturday, September 09, 2006

A true test

of whether, short of running out of each other to kill, the sectarian violence in Iraq will cease. Al-Sistani, the heaviest Shiite cleric, has called for unity among all Iraqis and an end to the killing. If his words aren't heeded, it's going to be a long, hard slog indeed.

Friday, September 08, 2006

On a blustery Sunday afternoon

check out this site to learn (and view) what some thinkers have to say about "the meaning of life."

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Thank God for the Internets

Where else, how else, could one learn in such effectively-presented detail the history of the Bush administration's lies that allowed it to invade Iraq? Ya done good, MoJo.

"Another country heard from"

on the subject of those secret foreign prisons. Ya gotta love those pesky Europeans.

If it walks like a duck

This isn't civil war?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

What's in a name?

Here's the only essay I've found addressing the question of terminology of the administration's dealing with the attacks on US people and property in the last several years. Rather than adopting the GWOT lingo the writer, supported by numerous authoritative sources, contends the "global war" term is not just inappropriate but counterproductive. It turns out that, as John Kerry contended in the 2004 presidential race, the most effective way to deal with those who would attack the US by "terrorist" means is through law-enforcement and intelligence channels. It's only the Bush cabal that prefers to call it "war," and they do so for a solidly successful purpose: to become warriors and to cow the opposition--not the enemy, but the political opponents at home.

Proof positive

In case you ever doubted it, here's a headline and a lede that says it all:

"Wall Street Lower, Wage Hikes Stir Fears AP -
Stocks fell Wednesday after the Labor Department said productivity decreased and wages increased in the spring, stoking fears that wage inflation will prompt the Federal Reserve to return to a policy of interest rate hikes."

You see, neither the Federal Reserve nor investors in the stock market--large financial and capital institutions, mostly--are fundamentally at war, economically, with the workers who toil in investor-owned corporations. During the "Bush recovery" increased productivity (meaning a decrease in, or stable, number of worker hours needed to produce increasing corporate revenue) resulted in escalating corporate profits while wages didn't move in dollar terms, and actually decreased in terms of the cost per unit of production. This allowed corporations to gain profit without increasing price--without, therefore, causing price-driven inflation--and to do so on the backs of the workers' increased productivity, without, in other words, passing any of the increased profit down to the workers in the form of wage increases.

But now, with signs that wages may actually be increasing (as certainly they must, to keep up with the increasing prices of consumer goods, especially gasoline but also most other products)investors fear that the foregoing situation may no longer be extant, that workers may actually be able to participate in the increased profit of their employers' business. This, "wage inflation" may, they worry, cause the Fed to slow down corporate activity--meaning, to the worker, fewer jobs and no more pay increases--by raising the cost of borrowing.

That prospect--of the Fed's increase of interest rates--will do two things that stock investors fear: (1) It will diminish corporate profit; and (2) it will make bond interest-rates more attractive as an investment. The market's negative reaction to pay increases for workers is therefore classically anti-worker and is built into the system. Even if, in theory, such pay increases should lead to greater consumer spending--and hence a well-founded continuation of economic recovery--it is now the case that such increases will likely only go to lending institutions which, by way of credit-card debt and increased mortgage payments due to the flurry of mortgage refinancing, have been the source, for the last five years, of most of consumers' cash availabilty.

So--it's bad news for Wall Street that the workers are finally getting a pay increase. Except, perhaps, for the brief periods when workers actually gained wages in tune with increasing productivity, it always has been.

Here's something I didn't know

The US is going to turn over to Iraq its "operational control" of Iraq's military force in a day or so. What I didn't know is that the US military has all this time been in control of Iraq's military. I thought we'd turned over to Iraq its "full sovereignty" more than a year ago, didn't you?

Letter to the editor

Herewith is a letter I sent to the SB News-Press this evening. Nothing new in it, just thought I'd shake the readership up a bit. Not easy to do with a 250-word limit. If you stumble across it in the paper, let me know since I rarely read the thing and I'd like to cut it out for my memoirs.

To the editor:

Bush’s "war on terror" has doomed Americans to endless conflict, the continuation of which benefits both the terrorists and the Bush administration. The terrorists of course gain from our ongoing turmoil; but so does Bush, as evidenced by his reliance on repeated chants of fear come midterm-election time, in the hope that Americans will once again vote for his party out of reaction rather than for the opposition through reason.

Indeed, the administration’s chants have lately taken an insidious, demonic twist, with Bush/Cheney/Rummie drawing parallels between this conflict and World War Two and calling those of us who demand our troops’ withdrawal from Iraq "appeasers"; while Condi likens us to those who opposed engaging the South in the Civil War.


A handful of crazed men attacked us before 9/11, twenty more on 9/11. A few hundred men trained to do so, perhaps a thousand, five thousand tops. But now, because of Bush’s rampant warmaking, those who aspire to kill Americans number in the hundreds of thousands and are spread around the globe. His policies have ensured that their enmity will last lifetimes: the lifetimes of the children of thousands of the people he’s killed—and the lifetimes of our children, too.

The resultant eternal, world-wide “war on terror” is therefore more the product of Bush’s actions than it is of Osama bin Laden’s; and so it is correct to say, as many Americans—and others—have concluded, George W. Bush is the world’s most dangerous terrorist.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Where Liberals and Libertarians meet

Okay, I know I've linked to Justin Raimondo's blog before, but his latest essay about fascism is too good. If you're too busy, I present herewith the money quote:

"There is a fascist threat to America, all right, but it isn't coming from overseas. It isn't hiding in the caves of Wahhabistan, but lurking in Washington's corridors of power. The same people who warn us of a "fascist" threat coming from abroad are the main purveyors of authoritarianism on the home front. And that is what life is like in the Bizarro World of America in the year A.D. 2006, where the most militant fascists of all style themselves the leaders of a new "anti-fascist" popular front."

Is state warfare terrorism?

A debate has long raged about the distinction between bombing done by state-owned and directed machines and non-state explosions, and more specifically between bombing that theoretically targets an armed enemy (but incidentally kills innocents) and bombing that targets innocents. Certainly, if the latter is done by a state, it's as much "terrorism" as if done by a nonstate, which is why our bombings of Dresden and Tokyo (not to mention Hiroshima and Nagasaki) were clearly acts of terrorism. The targets were not militarily significant, the purpose of the bombings being to break the political will of the people.

So the question is one of intent, right? If one intends to kill civilians for the purpose of changing a nation's course of action, it's terrorism; whereas if one intends to inflict military damage, but incidentally kills civilians, it's not.

So what about bombing that purports to target a military objective (or, even, an objective that has "military significance" such as a roadway or a radio station or a bank or an oil depot). Or for that matter, what about bombing that targets a neighborhood in which both civilians and enemy activists live?

Here's how Howard Zinn sees it.

The repeated excuse, given by both Pentagon spokespersons and Israeli
officials, for dropping bombs where ordinary people live is that terrorists
hide among civilians. Therefore the killing of innocent people (in Iraq, in
Lebanon) is called accidental, whereas the deaths caused by terrorists (on
9/11, by Hezbollah rockets) are deliberate.
This is a false distinction, quickly refuted with a bit of thought. If a bomb is deliberately dropped on a house or a vehicle on the grounds that a ``suspected terrorist" is inside (note the frequent use of the word suspected as evidence of the uncertainty surrounding targets), the resulting deaths of women and children may not be intentional. But neither are they accidental. The proper description is

I of course agree, and Zinn's analysis calls to mind a legal principle, under US law, that defines intent as including the notion that one can intend a result--can be held to have intended it--if the result is so likely as to be undeniably predictable. If one shouts fire in a crowded theatre and some is killed in the stampede, one is as guilty of murder as if the victim were shot in the face. You get the drift.

To me, both the Bush/Cheney/Rummie cabal with, inter alia, its "shock and awe" campaign over Baghdad, and , Osama and his buddies with their shock and awe over NYC and DC on 9/11, are terrorists. And so, to me, the "war on terror" includes war on both forces.

Cats in a gunnysack

What's next in this sorry land? If they can't agree on a flag, what can they agree on?