Friday, October 16, 2009

one in six

The number of people on the planet who go hungry. This is a problem that will not go away. Investing in agricultural research sounds nice. Redistributing wealth and eliminating structural barriers to access to proper nutrition would sound a whole lot nicer.

H/t Party of 1

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The coup in Honduras is over?

According to one article I just ran into, that would appear to be the case. Zelaya should (hopefully) shortly be back in office, over three months after he was ousted by right-wing thugs. That said, let us not forget the martyrs in the struggle.

You know when someone's a racist when

they begin sentences with statements like "I am not a racist, but" and "I have tons of black friends." Besides isn't that whole anti-miscegenation vibe so 19th century?

Sign of the times

One way to get the US military to meet its recruiting targets: a 10% unemployment rate:
Of course, they're unlikely ever to admit the corollary, which is that, without 10% (or 20% depending on how you measure it) unemployment and large bonuses, they could never motivate people to "fight for their country" when they can't even give an explanation (even from their point of view) of why "we" are now fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere.
Starve to death or become a bullet-stopper (but be fed until then)?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Deflation, anyone?

Certainly, in terms of wages, it's looking pretty damned deflationary for most - the exception being those on Wall Street. Where I work, we've had no pay cuts yet. We didn't get a pay raise this year, and probably won't receive one the next year. When you're single-income and raising a sizable enough family, that can be bad news - especially when your income level places you right on the border line of qualifying for such things as food stamps. There was a threat at the beginning of the fiscal year to increase our teaching load, which would have amounted to a de facto pay cut - extra workload without a corresponding increase in compensation. So far that threat has not come to fruition (knock on wood). I realize some of my colleagues in other states have been dealing with furloughs and other such nastiness. I do have a really nifty job title, though. Too bad you can't feed a family with a title.

In the meantime, aside from moonlighting and begging the spouse to find some means of supplementing the family income the status quo has come to mean smaller Christmases (not a very big deal to me, though much more so to the spouse), and simply failing to replace major appliances as they break down (all of mine are over ten years old, including vehicles). That is the reality of the shrinking US middle class for you.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Some anniversaries are just too fun to ignore

O'Reilly Falafel Suit Turns Five. Seems like only yesterday.

Too late

Sen. Lindsey Graham on the GOP:
We're not going to be the party of angry white guys.
That's all that's left, and it's pretty hard to build a majority with that shrinking demographic. Granted it's a demographic that can do some damage given its members' propensity to packing heat at town hall meetings and using violent rhetoric.

Where do I even begin?

From Booman's latest rant:
You call him a warmonger, but he gets the Nobel Peace Prize.
So what? There is no end in sight to the military presence in Iraq (nor to increases in the Iraqi civilian casualty rate), and last time I checked, the administration was escalating things in Afghanistan along with the requisite escalation in death tolls for US troops and of course Afghan civilians. So Obama gets a Nobel Peace Prize. Isn't that special. It's been said better by others that it is practically impossible to be nominated by either the Dems or GOP without an enthusiasm for waging more and more war. At this point in our empire's twilight, that would appear to be a truism.
He ends torture and allows his Attorney General to investigate it, and you call him a torturer.
Did his administration really end torture? That's never been entirely clear. The expansion of the gulag in Bagram is not an especially good sign. And although any AG investigation is a good sign, the tendency of Obama to take a "let's put the past behind us" mentality to the use of torture by the previous White House is not a good sign.
He tries to enact health care reform with a robust public option and you accuse him of seeking every opportunity to sell-out to the insurance industry.
Obama's own rather tepid pursuit of such reform was quite the give-away, don't you think? Personally, I haven't been disappointed on that front since I expected so little from this administration in the first place on the matter of health care reform. If anything, I think the administration and Congress have done better than I had hoped, though still constrained by our own brand of capitalist orthodoxy. I don't consider the dude a sell-out in the sense that there was nothing to sell out.
He bails out the cratering financial services industry and prevents a second Great Depression, and you accuse him of selling his soul to corporate CEO's.
That bail out was largely a Bush II creation, and like any monstrosity from that era, it managed to transfer wealth from workers to the CEO class. The tepid discussion of more oversight and regulation of what has essentially functioned as a casino on Wall Street has been an ever-so-slight step in a positive direction, but I have yet to see any real indication that those bailed out have learned their lesson - if anything, the lack of behavioral change suggests the contrary. As to preventing a second Great Depression, that seems more the talk of fantasy than reality. The reality is that things have stabilized globally for the last few months - but something similar happened initially after the stock market crash of 1929, before the global economy plummeted further. I'm under the impression that if anything, we're a long way from being out of the woods. A stronger stimulus bill earlier this year would have helped the US somewhat more than the weak stimulus bill that we got instead. I'd invite Booman to read Calculated Risk or Naked Capitalism for a while, and see if he could maintain his optimism about avoiding a second Great Depression.

Again, I'm not seeing any change I can believe in, but then I really didn't expect much. I agree that Obama is no sell-out, but only because his actions betray that of someone who truly believes in American Exceptionalism and neoliberal (or what others call neo-classical) economic orthodoxy.

Monday, October 12, 2009

In the mood for some optimistic reading?

Check out the latest article on Gore Vidal, "Gore Vidal's United States of Fury". Then read about how a second Great Depression is still possible. As bleak as such material must read, I assure you that there is plenty of reason to get up in the morning. I just simply find the current "happy talk" about green shoots and the stirring speeches about "winning" the war in Afghanistan as akin to Siren songs.

In moments of desparation

I suppose you go for a Hail Mary pass, which may well be what the health insurance executives are doing in a final bid to prevent any form of health care reform from passing. Granted the reforms are pretty damned tepid, and well within the boundaries accepted US ideological orthodoxy. However, even baby steps would be welcome given the tremendous costs of a health "care" system that has utterly failed its clients.

Happy genocidal slave trader day

A blast from the past: Columbus Day is little more than a holiday for White Supremacy