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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)
The global economy is like fried ice cream: If you don’t act fast, it turns into a mess.
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?
“From now on, depressions will be scientifically created.” — Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh Sr. , 1913
Everyone loves money. Even people like myself who abhor the abuse of money and commerce, who understand the fraudulent nature of the system we live in, still work hard and save so that we might attain a sense of stability within that system. Many people see money as a focal point to their existence. But is it really money that they are after, or is it something else entirely? In truth, money represents ‘security’ in the minds of the masses. Money affords us the ability to survive, and the more of it we have, the safer we all feel. Because we subconsciously associate the extension of our very life with the variable health of the economic structure in which we live, we tend to become unwitting devotees to its continued existence, even if it is corrupt and condemned to failure. We gullibly deny the system or the currency that supports it is doomed to the contrary of all evidence because, even though it has beaten us bloody, we have never known anything else.
In light of this entrenched way of perceiving things, especially in the U.S., it is difficult enough to convince some people that the economy is in fact not providing the security they desire, but is actually destroying their future completely. To explain to them that this is deliberate, that the economy is designed to self-destruct, that is another prospect altogether.
Last week the monthly first time unemployment claims number rose “unexpectedly” to a seasonally adjusted 484,000 new recipients. There are many things wrong with this number other than the fact that establishment economists can never seem to anticipate what is obvious. The first problem with the 484,000 new claims number is that it was seasonally adjusted, the real number is higher. Seasonal adjustments came into being as a means to show stable employment figures around holidays such as Christmas and the vacation season. In the summer months the government has historically used the seasonal adjustment to account for periods in the production cycle of the auto industry where American manufacturers have shut down and not produced any vehicles and laid off huge numbers of workers. To adjust, the government takes out a certain number of people counted among the unemployed to account for the typical seasonal fluctuations. There is a major problem in using a seasonal adjustment this year, the car companies have not shut down this summer and there is no typical fluctuation. It is a knowing manipulation of the headline labor statistics (since the BLS did this as well for the U-3 statistic). This is nothing new of course. When including discouraged workers the broadest U-6 employment metric has unemployment figures north of 16% for some time now. When actually looking at people who never fall into an employment category, independent contractors, the unemployment number is around 22% (John William’s Shadow Statistics). Since contractors such as independent real estate agents, stock brokers, carpenters, etcetera, do not lose a job, they just lose income, they are not employed in the first place to BLS statisticians and are not counted in the ranks of the jobless when they stop getting contracts. Not getting paid and being unemployed is the same thing of course to real people who live outside the calculators of government pencil pushers.
The United States is running out of time to get its budget and trade deficits under control. Despite the urgency of the situation, 2010 has been wasted in hype about a non-existent recovery. As recently as August 2 Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner penned a New York Times column, “Welcome to the Recovery.”
As John Williams (shadowstats.com) has made clear on many occasions, an appearance of recovery was created by over-counting employment and undercounting inflation. Warnings by Williams, Gerald Celente, and myself have gone unheeded, but our warnings recently had echoes from Boston University professor Laurence Kotlikoff and from David Stockman, who excoriated the Republican Party for becoming big-spending Democrats.
Dr David Kelly was on a hitlist, says UN weapons expert as calls grow for full inquestBy Miles Goslett and Arthur Martin
A leading UN weapons inspector last night added his voice to the growing clamour for a full inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly.
Dr Richard Spertzel claimed Dr Kelly was on a ‘hitlist’ in the final years of his life.
The former head of the UN Biological Section, who worked closely with Dr Kelly in Iraq in the 1990s, has written to Attorney General Dominic Grieve about the ‘mysterious circumstances’ surrounding the death.
The weapons inspector’s body was found after he was unmasked as the source of a damaging BBC news report questioning the grounds for the Iraq war.
Officially, he took his own life.
S 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010, may be the most dangerous bill in the history of the US. It is to our food what the bailout was to our economy, only we can live without money.
“If accepted [S 510] would preclude the public’s right to grow, own, trade, transport, share, feed and eat each and every food that nature makes. It will become the most offensive authority against the cultivation, trade and consumption of food and agricultural products of one’s choice. It will be unconstitutional and contrary to natural law or, if you like, the will of God.” ~Dr. Shiv Chopra, Canada Health whistleblower
President Obama has abolished the position in his White House dedicated to transparency and shunted those duties into the portfolio of a partisan ex-lobbyist who is openly antagonistic to the notion of disclosure by government and politicians.
Obama transferred “ethics czar” Norm Eisen to the Czech Republic to serve as U.S. ambassador. Some of Eisen’s duties will be handed to Domestic Policy Council member Steven Croley, but most of them, it appears, will shift over to the already-full docket of White House Counsel Bob Bauer.
Bauer is renowned as a “lawyer’s lawyer” and a legal expert. His resume, however, reads more “partisan advocate” than “good-government crusader.” Bauer came to the White House from the law firm Perkins Coie, where he represented John Kerry in 2004 and Obama during his campaign.