War is peace

When reading the article published today in The Financial Times, Pentagon sees ‘war on terror’ lasting 20 years, it is difficult not to get reminded of George Orwell’s well-known doublespeak sentence in his novel “1984”: “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength“. Gore Vidal does deserve some credit too, having warned in his book “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace” about the situation described in the Financial Times’ article.

Some excerpts:

“The US “war on terror” against al-Qaeda and its affiliates could last “at least 10 to 20 years”, a senior Pentagon official warned on Thursday, an indication of the concern in the Obama administration about the spread of Islamist radicals in the Middle East and north Africa.”

“Speaking at a congressional hearing, the Pentagon officials said threats from “murky” groups linked to al-Qaeda justified the continued application of the 2001 law that underpins the “war on terror” despite criticism from some senators of the way the law had been used.”

“The comments about the terrorist threat contrast with the tone of official discussion last year when senior administration officials talked about how the “core” of al-Qaeda had been “decimated”, even if some of its affiliates remained active in places such as Yemen.”

“Asked how long he believed the “war on terror” would last, Michael Sheehan, assistant secretary for special operations at the defence department, replied: ‘I think it’s at least 10 to 20 years.'”

“Robert Taylor, the Pentagon’s acting general counsel, said the US remained in a state of armed conflict with both al-Qaeda and “associated forces”, a phrase the administration now uses to justify military operations in places very distant from the initial battlefield in Afghanistan.”

“The expansive interpretation of the law used by the Pentagon was sharply criticised by senators who said it contradicted Congress’s power to declare wars. Angus King, an independent from Maine who sits with the Democrats, said the evidence from Pentagon officials was “the most astounding and most astoundingly disturbing” he had witnessed at a hearing. “You guys have essentially rewritten the constitution here today,” he said.”

“John McCain, the Republican senator who supports expanding the law to cover new threats, told the Pentagon officials their legal interpretation meant ‘basically you’ve got carte blanche as to what you are doing throughout the world‘.”

TYR reads ” 5 Reasons…Mainstream Media…Pro-War”

5 Reasons that Both Mainstream Media – and Gatekeeper “Alternative” Websites – Are Pro-War @ Washington’s Blog  asks why there is so much Pro-War reporting, not only by mainstream media, but also by big “alternative” (blog) websites. Like all Washingtonsblog articles, this one is well researched, but perhaps an image, a chart, will go a long way in order to explain why free journalism barely exists anymore in the USA, although self-censorship also plays a big role in allowing this situation to persist. As Mark Twain once said, “We write frankly and freely but then we ‘modify’ before we print.” Why do we modify the free and frank expression of journalistic truth? We do it out of fear”.

Wasteland of the Free

In 1996 Iris DeMent released The Way I Should, an album containing ”Wasteland of the Free” a blunt indictment of the right-wing political and social agenda dominating in the US. As Richard Phillips reports, “ Iris DeMent explained that “Wasteland of the Free” was a difficult song to perform because it was so direct. “But I can’t keep quiet about these things,” she added”. 17 years later, it sounds prophetic.

Living in the wasteland of the free…

We got preachers dealing in politics and diamond mines
and their speech is growing increasingly unkind
They say they are Christ’s disciples
but they don’t look like Jesus to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got politicians running races on corporate cash
Now don’t tell me they don’t turn around and kiss them peoples’ ass
You may call me old-fashioned
but that don’t fit my picture of a true democracy
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got CEO’s making two hundred times the workers’ pay
but they’ll fight like hell against raising the minimum wage
and If you don’t like it, mister, they’ll ship your job
to some third-world country ‘cross the sea
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

Living in the wasteland of the free
where the poor have now become the enemy
Let’s blame our troubles on the weak ones
Sounds like some kind of Hitler remedy
Living in the wasteland of the free

We got little kids with guns fighting inner city wars
So what do we do, we put these little kids behind prison doors
and we call ourselves the advanced civilization
that sounds like crap to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got high-school kids running ’round in Calvin Klein and Guess
who cannot pass a sixth-grade reading test
but if you ask them, they can tell you
the name of every crotch on MTV
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We kill for oil, then we throw a party when we win
Some guy refuses to fight, and we call that the sin
but he’s standing up for what he believes in
and that seems pretty damned American to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

Living in the wasteland of the free
where the poor have now become the enemy
Let’s blame our troubles on the weak ones
Sounds like some kind of Hitler remedy
Living in the wasteland of the free

While we sit gloating in our greatness
justice is sinking to the bottom of the sea
Living in the wasteland of the free
Living in the wasteland of the free
Living in the wasteland of the free

TYR reads “…It’s a Different Economy”

College Grads: It’s a Different Economy @ Of Two Minds Charles Hugh Smith aptly summarizes and describes the structure of the post-2008 USA economy, a description that by extension and with some tweaks can be applied to most western economes. An economy in which processes in the making since the end of WW2, if not sooner, are finally rising to the fore. It is not pretty. One could perhaps add a couple of points, but perhaps one  would not dare. Let’s hope that his half-optimistic concluding remarks are right. I am not so sure. CHS:

1. Getting a college degree, even in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects, no longer guarantees a job.

2. Those millions of Baby Boomers clinging to their jobs can’t afford to retire, partly as a result of Federal Reserve bubble-blowing and zero-interest rates.

3. Many of those Boomers clinging to jobs are doing so to support you.

4. We now have a bifurcated economy: we have what’s left of the open-market economy and we have the cartel-state economy of various rentier arrangements. Arentier arrangement is one in which the input costs can keep rising due to political power/protection while the output declines.

Our economy is now dominated by rentier arrangements. This is one of the core reasons it is stagnating, the other being a parasitic, corrupt financial sector that depends on phantom collateral and accounting trickery for its survival.

Rentier arrangements include the financial sector (hated by the public but politically sacrosanct), the National Security State (you can never have enough people spying on the world, including Americans), healthcare (costs triple while the availability of care and the health of the populace decline) and education (college tuition rises 600% when adjusted for inflation but a third of the graduates learned essentially nothing).

Protected from the discipline of the market, these quasi-monopolies vacuum up an ever-increasing share of the national income while their output/yield declines. Where $200 million bought four top-line fighter aircraft a decade ago, now it buys one; we have reached the point where we can’t afford our own fighter aircraft. And many in the military conclude the $200 million-each F-35 Lightning (by some estimates of full program costs, $300 million each) is an underpowered, bug-ridden dog, less capable than competitors and the aircraft it replaces at four time the cost, the F-18 E/F Super Hornet.

For decades, those entering the rentier cartels were assured of lifetime security.Get a job in healthcare or education or the defense/national security sectors, and you had it made. But these bloated rentier arrangements are bankrupting the nation.

Lacking any limit on their cost inputs, these sectors have expanded at rates far exceeding the growth rate of the economy that supports them. Healthcare once absorbed roughly 5% of the economy; now it is consuming 18% and is on track to consume 20%. Healthcare alone will bankrupt the Federal government and the economy.

5. The private-sector economy is bifurcated as well.

6. The older generations will have to adjust to demographic and financial realities.

7. There are two sets of laws now: one for the Elites and the state, and one for the rest of us.

8. We are a free-lance nation.

He concludes:

There are opportunities, but they require a deep understanding of risk and security. A livelihood with day-to-day low-level insecurity and volatility is actually far more stable and secure than the cartel-state one that claims to be guaranteed.

The burdens of Fed manipulation and the cartel-state rentier arrangements will come home to roost between 2015-2017. Those who are willing to seek livelihoods in the non-cartel economy will likely have more security and satisfaction than those who believed that joining a rentier arrangement was a secure career.

There is a price to joining a parasitic rentier arrangement, a loss of integrity, agency and independence. Complicity in an unsustainable neofeudal society has a cost.