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Showing posts from November 8, 2015

Yes, it is war

The headline of Le parisien saddens me: cette fois, c’est la guerre. It saddens me because it implies that France has not been at war. While, in fact, you cannot bomb territories and your foreign minister cannot keep saying we are at war with DAECH or ISIS without being at war. This is what war looks like. You can be for the war or against the war, but it has been war for a while, indisputably. As so often , the wars have been  fought according to the old presumption of colonial war: the front is over there in the distance. But this simply isn’t true any more.   Drone some Yemen wedding, bomb Isis, but don’t think that the forces who’ve been armed to the max by the worldwide flow of arms – none of which are of Middle eastern manufacture - are powerless to respond on your home territory.  This isn’t about moral equivalency, it is simply about the way wars are fought.  The irresponsibility of populations who finance huge war machines and let their presidents play with them, play wit

the myths of the labor "market"

  John Quiggin, the Australian economist, haswritten a post about the business cycle over at Crooked Timber, and in it herings my chimes – or he makes me mount on my hobbyhorse, to use an older cliché. Specifically, he defines recessions in terms of unemployment, mostly, which I think is a good thing – but he defines employment, implicitly, in terms of a labour market analysis, which is a normal thing, but I think is fundamentally misleading. In a footnote, this is how he defines full employment: “ Full employment doesn’t mean zero unemployment, since some people are always changing jobs, or are in the process of leaving the labor market. Roughly speaking, the employment is at full employment in the sense required here when any additional job creation in one sector of the economy is feasible only by attracting workers away from other sector s.” Implicitly, what is happening here is a vision of laborers as sovereign consumers in a market place, chosing this or that place to work. O

sick humor, State department style

I think Americans who have some moral sense should be outraged at the American foreign policy that has supported a civil war in Syria based on the premise that Assad is a dictator who slaughters civilians while providing logistical support for Saudi Arabia as it bombs and starves civilians in Yemen. As this article shows, it is a joke, officially supported by the Obama State department, that the Saudis are fighting for democracy in Yemen. Although this is a joke that is so sickening that even the State Department doesn't push too hard on this line. They did, of course, congratulate the Saudis when they were elevated, in another of those sick jokes, to the head of the UN Human Rights commission. An endless line of sick humor, death and destruction - there you have the Clinton-Bush-Obama Middle Eastern policy in a nutshell.

the view from 1968: the moral and practical problem of encouraging police to shoot to kill

In 1968, Ramsey Clark, at that time the Attorney General, made a speech in response to Mayor Daley’s remark, about rioters in Chicago, that the police should shoot to kill looters. The speech is relevant now, when the head of the FBI and the DEA have expressed support for police responding immediately and lethally in situations that would formerly have been handled with the finesse police should be trained in. Oh, they didn’t express that support directly – the FBI head and the DEA head were sneakier than that, saying that the emphasis on police killings was contributing to a rise in crime. Here’s a graf from Clark’s speech. “A reverence for life is the sure way of reducing violent death. There are few acts more likely to cause guerilla warfare in our cities and division and hatred among our people than to encourage police to shoot looters or other persons caught committing property crimes. How many dead twelve year old boys will it take for us to learn this simple lesson?” Tho