Just another skirmish in the Civil War

I have written about this before,[1] but as the United States veers toward a possible default on its debts,

In a letter to his Republican colleagues on Friday night, Mr. Boehner said, “A deal was never reached, and was never really close.” He added: “In the end, we couldn’t connect. Not because of different personalities, but because of different visions for our country.”[2]

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  1. [1]David Benfell, “A divorce for the United States,” DisUnitedStates, December 14, 2009, http://disunitedstates.org/?p=994
  2. [2]Jackie Calmes and Carl Hulse, “Debt Ceiling Talks Collapse as Boehner Walks Out,” New York Times, July 22, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/23/us/politics/23fiscal.html?_r=1

Blood Rites: An Exercise in Prejudice

In critiquing Barbara Ehrenreich’s Blood Rites,[1] I must at once confess to lacking an adequate substitute for her theory on the origins and development of war. But I believe she has seriously misjudged indigenous societies and that she is reckless in her treatment of feminist scholarship.

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  1. [1]Barbara Ehrenreich, Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War (New York: Metropolitan, 1997)

Keys to the Kingdom for Crooks

There was a moment in the comprehensive exams I took for my Master’s degree when my prospects seemed pretty bleak, a moment that I gather is part of the ritual in which the professors on the committee seek to make a candidate feel inadequate. They do it well, and I am unconvinced that it is necessarily a bad thing for someone about to receive an advanced degree to experience a bit of humility.

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Conservatives as victims, as victimizers, as fascists

I’m not interested in the story about the Sarah Palin movie. But the U.S.-Israel double flag pin in the accompanying photograph (fig. 1) caught my eye.[1]

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  1. [1]Andrew Malcolm, “Sarah Palin documentary ‘The Undefeated’ to roll out to other cities,” Los Angeles Times, July 17, 2011, http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2011/07/sarah-palin-documentary-the-undefeated-opens-will-roll-out-to-other-cities.html

Conservatives say gays should be bullied

It was a story that must nearly have disappeared against the ongoing drama of attempts to ensure that bankers—particularly “too big to fail” bankers—are protected, better known as the battle to raise the federal debt limit,[1] which if we could accept the veracity of President Barack Obama, would be reminiscent of Charlie Brown, Lucy, and a football, in which “the goal post will be moved again, further right. Again, and again, and again.”[2] But as tempting as yet another harangue about jobs or Obama’s malfeasance might be, the story I’m thinking of was about a law passed in California

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  1. [1]Daniel Indiviglio, “Another Casualty of U.S. Downgrade: Too-Big-to-Fail Banks,” Atlantic, July 15, 2011, http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/07/another-casualty-of-us-downgrade-too-big-to-fail-banks/242016/
  2. [2]Joan McCarter, “Obama on progressives, deficits, jobs and entitlements,” Daily Kos, July 15, 2011, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/07/15/995025/-Obama-on-progressives,-deficits,-jobs-and-entitlements

Moral hazard and the vampirism of oligarchs

I keep hearing that high unemployment is due to a lack of demand, due to deleveraging.[1] Households, it is said, have taken on more debt than they can handle, with the drop in housing prices inhibiting them from earlier practices of using their homes as ATMs to fuel spending.[2] Let’s make no mistake:

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  1. [1]Paul Krugman, “Debt, deleveraging, and the liquidity trap,” Vox, November 18, 2010, http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/5823
  2. [2]Charles Hugh Smith, “The Red Queen Of Deleveraging Trumps Bernanke’s Plan To Reignite The Goldilocks Economy,” Business Insider, January 10, 2011, http://www.businessinsider.com/bernanke-goldilocks-and-the-red-queen-2011-1

The respectability of “worthiness.”

It is hard not to notice how misdirected the emphasis on deficit-cutting is, against a dire employment situation (my analysis of the numbers that came out yesterday yields a U3 of 14.06 percent, a U6 of 19.42 percent, and 31,671,000 underemployed or unemployed people), so of course a number of people are remarking on this. But as an old communication major, I look at the phenomenon that the priority is on deficit-cutting, that the priority is on raising the debt limit so the rich can be paid off, and that the priority—as seen again and again in Obama’s “compromises”—is to hurt the vulnerable.

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