Posted by: quiscus | September 10, 2010

September 10, 2010

1.  “Why Libertarians Oppose War

War Is Anti-Market

Many on the right see no contradiction between their (nominal) support for capitalism and their support for war.  Many on the left believe capitalism and militarism go hand in hand.  Libertarians say they’re both wrong because war interferes with the free market.

War disrupts the market by directing society’s resources away from productive uses and toward destructive uses, or at least toward things that people didn’t voluntarily demand.  Nonetheless, the myth persists that war is good for the economy.  For example, many people still insist that World War II ended the Great Depression, but libertarians have pointed out why this is false.

Wars are not good for the economy, but they are good for some businesses: those that produce military equipment and weaponry, such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman; those that provide “infrastructure” in occupied territory, such as Halliburton and KBR; and those that provide “private” military services, such as Blackwater.  These “merchants of death” are not “free-market” entities; without a government buying their goods and services to wage war, they would not exist as we know them.  They are economic parasites, who take society’s resources but do not produce anything for civilian use in return.  Libertarians have consistently echoed President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s warning about the dangers of the “military-industrial complex” – a warning that Republican and Democrat politicians have almost universally ignored as the war profiteers successfully lobby them year after year. ”

2.  “The Most Terrifying of All Battles: When the Enemy Lies Within Ourselves

Those who repeatedly and furiously denounce the “Ground Zero mosque,” as they speak in horrified tones of the coming conquest of America by Islam, tremble before one possibility far more than any enemy they have chosen to identify. Their capacity for more accurate perception and even minimal self-awareness is altogether obliterated by their greatest of all fears: that they might have to hold up a mirror to their own souls and see the diseased, twisted nature of what they have allowed to permanently reside there.

Such people cannot be reasoned with, and it is futile to try. But we should always remember what it is that actually drives them to such destructive rage, and that it has nothing at all to do with the source they are willing to identify. This pattern is, of course, as old as humankind. What we loathe in ourselves, we place in others. Then we destroy those others, believing we thus destroy what we loathe.

But the enemy still lives, inside us. Until that is understood, the battle will never end, nor will the destruction, the suffering and the death.”

3.  “US judge: ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ unconstitutional

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips ruled Thursday that the prohibition on openly gay service members was unconstitutional because it violates the First and Fifth Amendment rights of gays and lesbians.

The policy doesn’t help military readiness and instead has a “direct and deleterious effect” on the armed services by hurting recruitment efforts during wartime and requiring the discharge of service members who have critical skills and training, she said.”

4.  So I guess that means the US should go down there and kill’em:

“Mexico’s drug gangs are like an insurgency: Hillary Clinton”

5.  “Corporate Welfare: Obama Unveils Pro-Business “Jobs” Plan

President Barack Obama’s Wednesday speech on the economy in Cleveland, Ohio was an exercise in deceit and demagogy. Presenting himself as a defender of the middle class against the wealthy, Obama outlined a “jobs plan” based on a series of corporate tax give-aways that have long been championed by the Republican Party. The president made no proposals for direct job creation.

The Cleveland speech is part of a campaign to stave off what are widely predicted to be major losses for the Democrats in the upcoming November elections. It comes on the heels of Obama’s Labor Day speech in Milwaukee and in advance of a Friday press conference on the economy.

Obama’s new plan hinges almost exclusively on tax breaks for corporations, justified with the threadbare claim that the windfalls will convince firms to hire more workers. This ignores, for one thing, the fact that US banks and corporations are already sitting on a cash hoard of over $1 trillion.

By way of defending his opposition to public works programs or other forms of government job creation, Obama offered a bald statement of his subordination to big business. “I’ve never believed that government’s role is to create jobs or prosperity,” he said. “I believe it’s the private sector that must be the main engine of our recovery.”

The speech was two-faced throughout. Appealing to elderly voters, he promised to fight “the efforts of some in the other party to privatize Social Security, because as long as I’m president, no one is going to take the retirement savings of a generation of Americans and hand it over to Wall Street.”

But minutes later, Obama signaled to the ruling class that he was preparing, after the elections, to impose harsh cuts in basic entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. “[O]nce the bipartisan fiscal commission finishes its work,” Obama said, “I will spend the next year making the tough choices necessary to further reduce our deficit and lower our debt.”

Obama was referring to his National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which in December—one month after the elections—is expected to propose a series of “reforms” of Social Security, including reductions in benefits, an increase in the retirement age, and the introduction of private “add-on retirement accounts.” (See “US ruling class prepares attack on Social Security”)

Obama is playing his role in a carefully orchestrated political act. The media incessantly claim that the primary concern animating voters is their fear of “deficit spending,” and that businesses have frozen hiring due to excessive government intervention from the Obama administration. This is counterposed to the Republicans’ central policy goal—the extension of tax breaks for the extremely wealthy and the rejection of any form of assistance to the vast majority of the population.

In reality, both the Democrats and Republicans are committed to making the population foot the full bill for the economic crisis, the bailout of Wall Street, and the cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

6.  “cheap, selective concern for “blood-spilling”

After WikiLeaks published the Afghanistan war logs, political and media figures fell all over themselves to publicly condemn the group for having “blood on its hands,” despite the fact that (1) there is, as Wired noted just yesterday, “no evidence to date . . .  that anyone has suffered actual harm due to the documents” and (2) many of the people most vocally condemning WikiLeaks have enormous amounts of blood on their own hands from the endless wars, bombing campaigns, occupations, and detention regime they supported and still support.  But condemning WikiLeaks offers an opportunity for cheap, self-glorifying moralizing; the group has very little power or prestige in Washington and is thus an easy target for royal court journalists.  Media figures who treat actual blood-spillers with great reverence thus suddenly found within themselves oh-so-profound concern over “blood-spilling.”  Along those lines, contrast the well-deserved contempt Tony Blair is facing as he tries to peddle his self-justifying book with the media red carpet rolled out for every pro-war Washington official — and the treatment George Bush will receive from the U.S. media when he releases his book — who spilled gigantic amounts of blood in Iraq and other places in the Muslim world.

On a related note:  I find the reflexive, intense condemnation of speech on the ground that it will “harm the troops” to be quite creepy and dangerous.  Obviously, the calls one heard in that above MSNBC video from Pat Buchanan and others for the “Commander-in-Chief” to forcibly prevent the Pastor’s speech is pure authoritarianism, but even the reactions that fall short of that — including the decision of the web hosting company to cease hosting the Church’s website — are quite disturbing.  This “endanger-the-Troops” theme has been used to justify everything from demonizing war opposition as vaguely Treasonous to re-writing FOIA to suppress torture photos.  We’re frequently told that what our Troops fight for is our core freedoms, so demanding that those freedoms be curtailed in the name of the Troops — either forcibly or through self-censorship — makes little sense.  What actually endangers the Troops by spawning anti-American hatred is what Ted Koppel described:  sending them to invade other countries, dropping bombs on civilians with robots from the sky, imprisoning the invaded populations without due process and torturing them, etc. etc.  Those who claim to be so concerned by the welfare of Our Troops would be well advised to oppose those policies rather than demanding that American citizens refrain from expressing their views on U.S. soil.  Burning Korans is a repellent thing to do because of how bigoted and hateful it is, not because it harms our war efforts.”


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