Posts from September 2002

Economy? What Economy?

Since I’ve posted two stories on Iraq in a row, I would also like to take this time to remind you that the aftermath of the past 10 years of reckless corporate welfare giveaways and rank corporate malfeasance by cronies of, among others, George W. Bush, continues to make for an extremely fragile economy, with low profits, surging oil prices (as a direct result of U.S. sabre-rattling), and dismal retail results.

The lowest US interest rates for 40 years have helped keep the American economy afloat, especially through strong consumer spending. But companies are still struggling to make profits in an environment of low prices while saddled with debt accumulated in the 1990s boom. Analysts thought companies would be over the worst by now, but the stream of profit warnings and credit downgrades shows no sign of drying up.

Well, it should be noted that the coexistence of "the lowest U.S. interest rates in 40 years" and accumulating debt is not merely a coincidence. When your central bank is giving away basically free money, and the legislature is stealing money from workers in order to write billions of dollars in corporate welfare checks, the amount of investment is artificially jacked up. That will jack up the economy temporarily, but eventually the chickens will come home to roost: artificially low interest rates means artificially high malinvestment – pouring cheap money into bad projects because the risk is artificially lowered. We are now living with the hangover of our central planners’ and corporate bureaucrats’ long investment binge in the 1990s.

The Bush apparatchiks, of course, have been trying to blame this all on Clinton. And certainly Clinton’s economic policies helped create the bubble economy and continued the long tradition of massive corporate welfare giveaways. Rush Limbaugh has gone so far as to claim that every single problem Bush faces – from international terrorism to the going-nowhere economy – is not, in fact, the result of any of his own numerous fuck-ups, collusions of interest, or back-room deals. Instead, it’s all messes that Clinton left for Bush to clean up. Why? Because Clinton was too distracted by the Monica Lewinski investigation! (In other news, Limbaugh announced that four legs good, two legs bad.)

Let’s get serious, folks. We have an administration in power that is dedicated to increasing command and control over the economy by central planning bureaucrats – in corporate boardrooms and in government offices. The economy has been weak for the entire Bush Presidency and it shows no signs of letting up. He’s had a year and a half now; by now, even the lagging indicators (such as unemployment levels) are reflecting decisions made under the Bush administration. The problem is that the Democratic leadership is too spineless and too cowed and too much in collusion with the same corporate interests to point out that Bush’s policies have been making things worse, not better. Once again, more proof that we desperately need a system that allows for vibrant third parties in America. We desperately need a lot of other things, too–like an end to corporate welfare and centralized command-and-control over the economy–but until we have some basic democracy reforms we are very unlikely to get any of that.

Al Gore the Peacenik?

You know, it’s really just pathetic when the Democratic leadership’s most forceful condemnation of reckless international aggression comes from Al fucking Gore. If he ends up being the most pro-peace Democratic candidate for the Presidency in 2004, I think I am going to go insane and start systematically knocking off people’s hats.

Meanwhile, in DC, the waffling continues:

Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the House’s second-ranked Democrat, said yesterday that she didn’t think Democrats would offer a single alternative to the Bush proposal. Her party, she said, was working on a number of different approaches that she hoped would become a part of the resolution that Congress finally votes on.

This is precisely what the problem is. Despite some high-level divisions, the Right is overwhelmingly lining up behind George W. Bush. They’re pushing this issue as hard as they can and trying to use it as a wedge for November. The Democratic Party, meanwhile, because it’s viscerally terrified of anything that might vaguely resemble a consistent commitment to social justice, or an opinion seriously challenging the Administration on foreign policy, has no unified plan, is making no common voice, and generally is letting the Right-wing nuts have a field day with it.

This is precisely why we need a vibrant multiparty system, so that the many people who are now in the Democratic coalition (Congressional and otherwise) who know that the present course of the Party leadership is politically suicidal and fundamentally reckless and stupid, actually have some leverage to challenge the War Party toadies and the Right-wing maniacs.

Unelected Government of Rogue Nation Threatens World Security, Part II

photo: Donald Rumsfeld

Donald Rumsfeld gives up on trying to think up new excuses.

(link courtesy of This Modern World weblog)

No longer content with ignoring Iraq’s decision to acquiesce to U.S. demands on weapons inspectors, the Bush administration has now declared that it will actively work to prevent weapons inspectors from going to Iraq [BBC].

Three words: What the fuck?

The Bush administration has apparently become so convinced of its divine right to bomb the world that they don’t even give a damn anymore about keeping up appearances out of a decent respect for the opinions of mankind. They urged the U.N. to take responsibility for the situation in Iraq, and then days later the Bush-Rumsfeld junta demands carte blanche from Congress for unilateral aggression. They demanded Iraq let weapons inspectors back in, and now that Iraq has spoiled their war plans by acquiescing, the junta says they’ll do what they can to keep the inspectors out!

Take Action!

The War Party toadies in Congress are trying to work out just how to get President Bush’s war resolution through, in spite of reservations by some Right-wing Republicans and growing division amongst Democrats. Take some time today to write or fax a polite but firm letter to your Representative and your Senators urging them not to approve any resolution authorizing force against Iraq. Then send a copy of your letter to the editor of your local newspaper. You may want to use MoveOn’s No War on Iraq letter as a template, but be sure to put your own pen to paper. The situation at this point requires more than just petition drives.

Think Locally, Act Globally

Now that Saddam Hussein has caved in and accepted the return of weapons inspectors to Iraq, the Bush administration has declared that it doesn’t give a damn and it wants Congressional carte blanche to bomb Iraq whenever it pleases [NY Times]. Although they are lobbying the UN Security Council for a resolution authorizing police action against Iraq, Bush wants Congress to authorize war whether or not the UN goes along with his transparent plan for conquest and plunder.

The toadies in the War Party of Congress — Daschle, Gephardt, Hastert, et al. — are all lining up to cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war, but there is a growing amount of grumbling amongst Congressional Democrats. With good reason — not only is Bush’s plan transparent conquest, it’s also transparent attempts at an October Surprise to derail the Democrats’ chances of holding on to the Senate and retaking the House in November by energizing a hawkish coattail once the anti-Iraq media blitz hits the airwaves. As Roderick Long has pointed out, Bush should get a t-shirt with his new slogan: Think locally, act globally.

The Bush-Rumsfeld junta claims that Iraq is a unique threat to the world:

Iraq is unique, Mr. Rumsfeld said. No other living dictator matches Saddam Hussein’s record of waging aggressive war against his neighbors, pursuing weapons of mass destruction, using them against his own people, launching missiles against his neighbors, brutalizing and torturing his own citizens, harboring terrorist networks, engaging in terrorist acts, including the attempted assassination of foreign officials, violating international commitments.

Rumsfeld is correct that the peace and welfare of a great many people in the world is in peril from a rogue state, which

  • … pursues aggressive campaigns of conquest and plunder against sovereign states
  • … has imprisoned thousands of its own civilians without basic civil rights protections
  • … does everything it can to stockpile weapons of mass destruction and has threatened to use them unprovoked [*]
  • … flouts international agreements and threatens war in violation of international law
  • … has used poison gas against its own people in acts of repression
  • … is goverened by a maniacally hawkish, unelected head of state

… and so on. But as you’ve probably guessed by now, it’s not Iraq. Anyone want to guess who it is? Anyone? Anyone?

In Other News

The Bush administration is, of course, doing everything it can to use the war issue as a media smokescreen over issues that it would prefer to go away, here’s a brief review of some U.S. news tidbits:

It’s a Noun, It’s a Verb, It’s a Weblog

O.K., so I was planning on putting out a post about the silly little debate that the conservative and libertarian webloggers were having amongst themselves recently about the liberal Southern white boys who inhabit their own media bubble. But for the time being Andrew Sullivan’s pit of narcissism website is offline, so that will have to wait.

In the meantime, however, I would like to bring a happy addition to the web world to your attention. For your reading pleasure, Bitch Magazine has converted their online (S)HITLIST section into a very readable MovableType weblog format. They update about twice a month or so, and their archives are eminently readable. Warning: this weblog may cause sleep deprivation – the night I found out about this I ended up getting to sleep about 4 hours later than I’d intended, because I spent so long combing through their entire archives.