Where’s the revolution? Or, a confession of insanity.

From the reading I’ve been doing lately, the question seems to be coming up a lot lately: if things are getting so bad for the middle and working classes, why is there no uprising? Even Barack Obama, who has been as insensitive to the plight of the unemployed and of homeowners who are losing their homes as anyone inside the Beltway, recently acknowledged—now that the 2012 presidential campaign is under way—at a town hall meeting, “I think a lot of people just feel like the American dream, the core notion that if you work hard and you act responsibly that you can pass on a better life to your kids and your grandkids. A lot of folks aren’t feeling that anymore.”[1]

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  1. [1]Michael D. Shear, “Town Hall Participants Ask Obama for Help,” New York Times, May 12, 2011, http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/12/town-hall-participants-to-obama-help-us-please/

A phony alliance

In all the rhetoric—some of it heated—about Pakistan-U.S. relations following the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, George Friedman finally addresses my suspicion, writing that “Posturing designed to hide Pakistani cooperation would be designed to cover operational details, not to lead to significant breaches between countries.”[1]

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  1. [1]George Friedman, “U.S.-Pakistani Relations Beyond Bin Laden,” Stratfor, May 10, 2011, http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20110509-us-pakistani-relations-beyond-bin-laden


When I was in college the first time, in the late 1970s, I did a very silly thing. I actually indulged the Jehovah’s Witnesses who came door to door in conversation. Of course, they were being silly too. They actually hoped they could convert me through rational argument.

The nature of faith is that it has no rational basis. But that hasn’t stopped people from trying to convince others that their own version of spirituality is superior to the rest. Red Jacket, a spokesman—I’m guessing because the Seneca thought the white men might listen to a man—for his tribe in the western part of what we now know as the state of New York, classically sent off a preacher who came to proselytize, much like those Jehovah’s Witnesses. He masterfully brought together the inconsistencies of Christianity, of proselytizing, and of the abuses American Indians had suffered at the hands of whites to form a magnificent rebuke (though it is doubtful that the translation in my possession is accurate) which apparently resonated: it was, according to a biography, widely published.[1]

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  1. [1]Christopher Densmore, Red Jacket: Iroquois Diplomat and Orator (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University, 1999).

Unemployment and Underemployment still sky-high–and staying there.

So it’s the first Friday of the month, which means it is time for more fiction from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to their release, the number of people employed rose a little bit, but so did unemployment.[1] They don’t really explain and, trying to minimize the adjustments they apply and trying also to acknowledge that people need to pay bills every month, whether or not they are employed, I choose the data which are not seasonally adjusted. The latter data are currently a little more optimistic.

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  1. [1]Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employment Situation Summary,” May 6, 2011, http://bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

Three years vegan

Vegans have something called V-day, an individual annual commemoration of the day they went vegan. It’s a bit like a birthday or a wedding anniversary. Mine is the day before I joined HappyCow.net, a guide to vegan and vegetarian restaurants. HappyCow.net sends out a yearly reminder and I just received one today.

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On jobs, who are you looking at?

I thought I might never see this:

“It appears that purchasing managers have undergone a reality check and may have suddenly woken up to the reality that no one is getting hired who can buy all the goods that their firms can produce,” said Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist at Mizuho Securities US.[1]

So capitalists are finally acknowledging that people have to have (well paid) jobs in order for them to consume? Perhaps, but if you thought that might mean they might take some responsibility for seeing that that happens,

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  1. [1]Dave Shellock, “Overview: Weak US data knocks risk appetite,” Financial Times, May 4, 2011, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/3a0f7a02-7696-11e0-bd5d-00144feabdc0.html

“Debate” on torture?

Several issues have arisen in the aftermath of the killing of Osama bin Laden in a risky raid in the sovereign territory of Pakistan. First, though Pakistan has apparently not objected to this operation, its legality under international law was dubious;[1] Pakistan has reportedly told the United States that its acquiescence on this occasion must not be mistaken as a precedent in future operations. Apparently, Pakistan’s Foreign Office was under the impression that “‘red lines’ earlier conveyed to the Obama administration by Pakistan had specifically stressed on ‘no foreign boots on Pakistani soil’.”[2]

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  1. [1]Nick Amies, “Bin Laden’s killing prompts uncomfortable legal, ethical questions for US,” Deutschewelle, May 4, 2011, http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,15048146,00.html?maca=en-newsletter_en_Newsline-2356-html-nl
  2. [2]Baqir Sajjad Syed, “Unauthorised raid must not serve as precedent, US told,” Dawn, May 4, 2011, http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/04/unauthorised-raid-must-not-serve-as-precedent-us-told.html

Bin Laden is killed in Pakistan, long live the warmongering fascist police state

It is hard to imagine that Liz Sidota, writing for the Associated Press, is completely correct when she claims that “Armed with intelligence showing bin Laden living in a secure compound outside of Islamabad, Obama authorized U.S. military action without Pakistan’s consent and bin Laden died in the ensuing firefight.”[1] As Juan Cole notes,

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  1. [1]Liz Sidota, “Delivering on vow to kill bin Laden boosts Obama,” Associated Press, May 2, 2011, http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_BIN_LADEN_POLITICS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

Analyzing the “rabid right” and the prospects for a coherent outcome to the 2012 presidential election

Those of us who consider ourselves social scientists (I’ll have to amend this soon; I’m entering a Human Science program), and who look at current events with an eye toward comprehending the rabid right’s hold on political discourse in the United States are faced with a challenge of synthesizing ideas that simply don’t go together. Indeed, there’s not a lot of sense to be found.

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