Tuesday, September 27, 2011

An article at AlterNet asks: "Mental Illness Rates Are Up. Could Climate Change Be to Blame?," by Julianne Escobedo Shepherd. For example, it seems to have unhinged Prof. Dr. Algore. (See: escapetyranny.com/2011/08/08/al-gore-appears-to-have-literally-gone-insane-watch-this-and-see-if-you-agree).

For the mental-illness theorists, a few real tests:

Will they still want to stop climate change if it turns out that it makes people more liberal?

How about if it makes them less Christian?

How about if it makes them less likely to oppose abortion?

Suppose it makes them less violent?

Or more likely to be vegans?
--Nick Strakon

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Some Lessons of 9/11

1. Killing one or many innocents, regardless of one's grievances, is monstrous. This elementary principle would seem to apply to George Bush, and now Barack Obama, as much as to Osama bin Laden. Can someone say why it doesn't?

2. Despite all its guarantees -- contrary to its ideological justification for existing -- the state can't protect us -- even from a ragtag group of hijackers. Trillions of dollars spent over many years built a "national security apparatus" that could not stop attacks on the two most prominent buildings in the most prominent city in the country -- or its own headquarters. That says a lot. No. That says it all. The state is a fraud. We have been duped.

3. The shameless state will stop at nothing to keep people's support by scaring the hell out of them. (Robert Higgs writes about this.) That people have taken its claims about "why they hate us" seriously after 9/11 shows what the public schools and the mass media are capable of doing to people. But the people are not absolved of responsibility: They could think their way out of this if they cared to make the effort.

4. Blowback is real. Foreign-policy-makers never think how their decisions will harm Americans, much less others. They never wonder how their actions will look to their targets. That's because they are state employees.

5. As Randolph Bourne said, getting into a war is like riding a wild elephant. You may think you are in control -- you may believe your objectives and only your objectives are what count. If so, you are deluded. Consider the tens of thousands of dead and maimed Iraqi and Afghanis (and dead Pakistanis and Yemenis and Somalis and Libyans). What did they have to do with 9/11?

6. No one likes an occupying power.

7. Victims of foreign intervention don't forget, even if the perpetrators and their subjects do.

8. Terrorism is not an enemy. It's a tactic, one used by many different kinds of people in causes of varying moral hues, often against far stronger imperial powers. Declaring all those people one's enemy is criminally reckless. But it's a damn good way for a government to achieve potentially total power over its subjects.

9. They say the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Maybe, maybe not. But it seems abundantly clear that the enemy of my friend is also likely to be my enemy. See the U.S.-Israel relationship for details.

10. Assume "your" government is lying.

11. Politicians will stop at nothing to shamelessly exploit the memory of the American victims of blowback if it will aggrandize their power. No amount of national self-pity, self-congratulation, and vaunting is ever enough.

keeping my yuan in the U.S.

The evil dragon used to be Japan. Now it's China. India will get its turn soon enough. Americans are supposedly out of work because of China.

The fact is, Chinese imports are marginal to the U.S. economy. How marginal? You tell me. (Then I will tell you.) What percentage of Americans' personal consumer expenditures (PCE) is met by imports from China? Take a guess. Here was the correct answer in 2010.

Chinese goods account for 2.7% of US PCE, about one-quarter of the 11.5% foreign share. Chinese imported goods consist mainly of furniture and household equipment; other durables; and clothing and shoes. In the clothing and shoes category, 35.6% of US consumer purchases in 2010 was of items with the "Made in China" label.

Obviously, if a pair of sneakers made in China costs $70 in the United States, not all of that retail price goes to the Chinese manufacturer. In fact, the bulk of the retail price pays for transportation of the sneakers in the United States, rent for the store where they are sold, profits for shareholders of the US retailer, and the cost of marketing the sneakers. These costs include the salaries, wages, and benefits paid to the US workers and managers who staff these operations.
--gary north

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sigrid Undset as a young girl

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Artist Alexa Meade paints real people to look like paintings.

Contract With Atrocity

Amazing news story: The Guardian reports on a remarkable case of private contractors who flew American Terror War captives to various sites around the world to be tortured now coming to blows in court over a grubby dispute over expenses. Unbelievable that the details were allowed to come out in a routine civil case for unpaid invoices.

The mass of invoices, receipts, contracts and email correspondence – submitted as evidence to a court in upstate New York – provides a unique glimpse into a world in which the "war on terror" became just another charter opportunity for American businesses.

They reveal how a single plane, Richmor's N85VM, ferried dozens of captives -- seized and held in secret, without charges, without representation, outside any legal process, even the "laws of war" -- to grim fates in the far-flung gulag:

Over the next three years, this plane flew at least 55 missions for the US government, to Guantánamo Bay, Kabul, where the CIA ran the notorious "Salt Pit" prison; Bangkok, where Abu Zubaydah was first taken and used as a guinea pig for "enhanced interrogation techniques"; Rabat, where prisoners were kept incommunicado and tortured by Moroccan agents who passed information to the US and Britain; and Bucharest, one of the European secret jail sites.

Some of the most chilling aspects of the case concern the "human cargo" the profiteers were shipping for the torture bosses back in Washington. Not only did they willingly transport men who had been tormented, tied up, drugged and humiliated, they referred to the victims by the truly Orwellian term, "invitees."

What to do in the face of this grim reality? Many things; but as a general rule, I come back to the words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, voiced by one of the characters in his novel on the theme of moral complicity with a system given over to pervasive evil:

"It impossible that evil should not come into the world; but take care that it does not enter through you."
--Chris Floyd