An attempt to destroy a political system necessarily coincides with an attempt to destroy the economy of that system. Economic sabotage is not the fictitious activity of nonexistent groups. It is the activity of real enemies, foreign and domestic. Watch the players at work. Consider which nations are manipulating oil prices, grain prices, and strategic metals. Ask yourself what their goal is. Why are they doing it? Are they attempting to raise the standard of living within their own countries, or attempting to smash the standard of living in the United States? In a recent speech on August 3, David Horowitz said, “We are in a war with enemies both internal and external who seek our destruction.” Horowitz was accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Young America’s Foundation. If anyone understands America’s internal enemy it is Horowitz. He was raised by communists, and broke with the Left when he realized what the Left actually signifies.
Last week’s meeting of 700+ scientists, policymakers, and concerned citizens in Chicago to discuss the science and economics of global warming at the Fourth International Conference on Climate Change was a huge success as measured by the intent of its sponsors: to establish once and for all that the climate realist position is increasingly the accepted conclusion among thinking people in the three categories noted above. That position is this: manmade global warming is not a crisis.
Yes, all parties at the conference pretty much agreed that there was a good deal of warming in the 1980s and 1990s, and that the trend stopped and reversed in the current decade. Global temperatures have been falling in recent years, even though the weather stations and other data chosen to represent the official temperature records are in fact skewed to show higher and more-rising temperatures than are actually occurring.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have become gigantic financial black holes that the U.S. government endlessly pours massive quantities of money into. Unfortunately, if the U.S. government did allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to totally implode, both the mortgage industry and the housing industry in the United States would completely collapse. So essentially the U.S. government finds itself between a rock and a hard place. Prior to the financial crisis of the last few years, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were profit-seeking private corporations that also had a government-chartered mission of expanding home ownership in America. But now that they have been officially taken over by the U.S. government, they have become gigantic bottomless money pits. It is hard to even describe just how much of a mess Fannie and Freddie are in. However, the unprecedented intervention by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the mortgage market over the past couple of years has been about the only thing that has kept it from plunging into absolute chaos. So what does the future hold for Fannie Mae and for Freddie Mac? Well, according to one estimate, it could take another 5 trillion dollars to “fix” Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac.
I have tried to remain quiet on this issue in the hope that common sense would prevail. However, since it seems that what is a very simple matter is being hijacked for political expediency, I can no longer in good conscience remain silent.
As a Libertarian, the ground zero mosque issue is not really an issue. The Constitution protects the religious rights of all religions and the right not to believe. The Constitution also protects the rights of organizations and individuals to own and administer legally owned property. The laws regarding the regulation and enforcement of zoning, something I often don’t agree with, have permitted the use of this building by the organization wanting to build a center there. Everything else is irrelevant.
New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly climbed to a nine-month high last week, yet another setback to the frail economic recovery.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 500,000 in the week ended August 14, the highest since mid-November, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast claims slipping to 476,000 from the previously reported 484,000 the prior week, which was revised up to 488,000 in Thursday’s report.
A Labor Department official said there was nothing unusual in the state level data. The data covered the survey week for the government’s closely watched employment report for August, scheduled for release early next month.
“There are some technical factors out there and the seasonal factors seem to be pushing it up a little bit. But given the trend of claims it looks like the economy ran into a wall in August,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-MitsubishI UFJ in New York.
On Tuesday the market celebrated the profits of Wal-Mart (WMT) and Home Depot (HD). Their earnings made perfect sense in light of the recently reported large increase in balance of trade deficit, as these two companies are the biggest purveyors of Chinese manufactured goods in America. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are humming with record incoming container shipments that are far outstripping outbound cargo shipments.
But is this what a healthy economy is really all about – simply more consumption and more corporate profits? Do unemployment and trade deficits, as some have suggested, just not matter any more? Or does this sound like one of those new paradigms, like the dot com paradigm where businesses didn’t need real products any more, or the paradigm that helped inflate the real estate bubble – the one where people didn’t need real incomes to take out mortgages anymore? Are we now trying out a paradigm where we don’t need real employment, or, what the hell, even a real economy anymore?
When our fears have all been serialized, our creativity censured, our ideas “marketplaced,” our intelligence sloganized, our strength downsized, our privacy auctioned; when the theatricality, the entertainment value, the marketing of life is complete, we will find ourselves living not in a nation but in a consortium of industries, and wholly un-intelligible to ourselves except for what we see as through a screen darkly. -Toni Morrison(1)
As the link between the media and corporate power becomes more integrated, the visual theater of terror mimics the politics of the “official” war on terror. Echoing the discourse of the “official” war on terror, the violence of extremist groups as well as state-sanctioned and corporate violence are understood almost exclusively within the discourse of moral absolutes pitting good against evil. Whether it is former President George W. Bush’s claim, “You are either with us or against us,”(2) or Osama bin Laden’s injunction, “You are either a believer or an infidel,”(3) this is a repressive binary logic that not only comes from the mouth of too many politicians, but also saturates the media.
Within the current spectacle of politics, fear and the rhetoric of terror prevail. Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, lashes out at leftist critics suggesting they are both losers and drug users. As Glenn Greenwald points out, Gibbs seems to be in denial over a number of substantive criticisms of the Obama administration raised by the left, including the fact they have “done so little about crisis-level unemployment, foreclosures and widespread economic misery,” exhibited an “endless devotion to Wall Street,” expanded “a miserable, pointless and unwinnable war that is entering its ninth year…. claimed the power to imprison people for life with no charges and to assassinate American citizens without due process, intensified the secrecy weapons and immunity instruments abused by his predecessor, … found all new ways of denying habeas corpus…. granted full-scale legal immunity to those who committed serious crimes in the last administration [and] failed to fulfill – or affirmatively broken – promises ranging from transparency to gay rights.(4)
American pundits, Nobel laureates included, are predicting Japan-style deflation for the U.S. and Europe. They are urging the Federal Reserve to pursue another round of quantitative easing to stop the onset of an Ice Age for Western economies. The Fed didn’t oblige at its last meeting, but it threw a bone to the deflation crowd by promising not to pull money out of its previous round of asset purchases to stimulate a recovery.
On the other side of the world, consumer prices are surging. Emerging markets as a whole now have an inflation rate of more than 5 percent. India is registering price increases of more than 13 percent. China’s are more than 3 percent. But it surely feels a lot higher for average Chinese.
Much of the “heat” comes from the property market in emerging markets. Million-dollar flats in Mumbai have panoramic views of the city’s slums. Hong Kong’s real-estate prices have almost reclaimed their 1997 peak, though the economy has barely grown since then in per-capita terms. Overpaid bankers who pay 15 percent income tax in Hong Kong are stretched to buy Beijing or Shanghai properties. Moscow is somehow always near the top of the list of the world’s most expensive cities.
The emerging markets are on fire.
Deflation prophets in the West are in for a rude awakening. Eastern fire will turn Western ice into a mess, and 2012 looks like it will be the year of melting. The fuel for the fire is coming from deflation-fighting stimulus programs, such as that of U.S. President Barack Obama.
Stimulus is prescribed as a panacea for recession. In today’s global economy, it isn’t effective in the best of circumstances and is outright wrong for what ails the West now.
This week the conservative echo chamber is buzzing with righteous outrage over the fact that Muslims are building a “mosque” at ground zero. This is an insult to those died on that fateful day. How dare they! Palin called on Muslims to “refudiate” the building of it. Newt Gingrich, Rick Lazio and even the Anti-Defamation League have condemned it. Emails are flying and the blogosphere is lit up like a Christmas tree in Times Square. It’s even been implied that Muslims are trying to impose Shariah law on innocent Americans.
In 1962, the historian Barbara Tuchman published a book about the start of World War I and called it The Guns of August. It went on to win a Pulitzer Prize. She was, of course, looking back at events that had occurred almost 50 years earlier and had at her disposal documents and information not available to participants. They were acting, as Vietnam-era Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara put it, in the fog of war.
So where are we this August of 2010, with guns blazing in one war in Afghanistan even as we try to extricate ourselves from another in Iraq? Where are we, as we impose sanctions on Iran and North Korea (and threaten worse), while sending our latest wonder weapons, pilotless drones armed with bombs and missiles, into Pakistan’s tribal borderlands, Yemen, and who knows where else, tasked with endless “targeted killings” which, in blunter times, used to be called assassinations? Where exactly are we, as we continue to garrison much of the globe even as our country finds itself incapable of paying for basic services?