Archive for the ‘USA’ Category

Irelands Cost of Living vs. the US, vs. the Euro v

Eanáir 19, 2009

Responding to a post by Rob Dreher (Mr. Crunchy Con) about “Europe’s Economic Agony“:

On January 14, Bloxhams – an Irish stockbroking firm – pointed out:
“The weakness of Euro membership for Ireland is highlighted into today’s Lex column.
With the UK doing what is needed to adjust to the new economic reality and devaluing its currency, Ireland is unable to devalue its currency to restore competitiveness. Therefore Lex points out that wages in Ireland will need to fall, something which is exceptionally difficult to achieve. While the Euro zone has provided us with the buffer of a central banking guarantee, the downside pain is in a loss of competitiveness against our nearest neighbour, the UK.”

I would like to point out, however, that at least in places like Ireland universal health care is an accepted part of the national infrastructure (like roads, police etc.) – not a right-wing ooga-booga talking point and socialist plot for world domination.

Consequently, the personal cost of living and financial security – in some respects – is far less than in the US.

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James Howard Kunstler: We’re all antisemites now

Eanáir 15, 2009

A brief exchange with James Howard Kunstler, Peak Oil expert and foe of suburbia; following his rather extraordinary recent post in which he basically claims that:

1) Israel – a country with 200 nuclear warheads – is engaging  in existential self-defense by bombing what is essentially a huge concentration camp of its own making (an area half the size of County Kerry, containing 1,500,000 people), destroying its physical infrastructure and civil institutions, killing 900 people, wounding 4,000, 40% of all which casuaties are children, because

a) Some Palestinians believe the state that created the Ghetto they now live in, is illegitimate and ought to be removed by violence if necessary;

b) Approximately 14 Israelis have died, 4 of whom shot each other by mistake, as the result of over-the-fence bazooka attacks from inside the Ghetto;

2) Despite his own writing style being deliberately caustic, provocative, and outrageous – but because he has been verbally and nastily attacked online:

a) Essentially, all critics of Israeli policy are either American crypto-nazis or American Left-wing traitors to western civilisation, in addition to which;

b) Those Gazan kids deserve whatever they get, and it’s all very pragmatic and simple.


Dear Mr. Kunstler,

I sympathise with your response to any anti-Jewish nonsense that you have been subjected to (I don’t actually want to read the garbage, I take your word for it), however you should know that rational critics of Israeli policy get the same sort of hysterical prose – check out the comments Phillip Weiss gets. May I also please remind you that Arabs are a semitic people too, and that the charge of anti-semitism can equally apply to anyone who would so casually and flippantly dismiss the suffering in Gaza as you seem to have done in your recent article.

I’m also a little fed up with otherwise intelligent American-based commentators, assuming that the peculiar cultural manifestations of their parochial left-right pathologies are somehow of universal application to all intellectual discussion on any topic worldwide (I’m not a big fan of HuffingtonPost either). I couldn’t care less about the hang-ups of rightwing fruitloops or the hypocricies of American leftwing academics, for example, when discussing the morality of what is happening in the Gaza strip, because they are and ought to be of no consequence to a rational consideration of presumptive fundamental decency – none. Unless, that is, one’s moral compass is merely some sort of emotional pinball machine that simply bounces around in reaction to other people’s fixed talking points.

The Irish, like the Israeli’s, also gained their (three quarters) independence from Britain by blowing stuff up on the fly. The Zionists even called one of their operations after Michael Collins, since he invented modern urban guerilla warfare. So I’m not innately hostile to the Israeli project (there is also a forestry plantation in northwestern Ireland named after its late sponsor, an Irish American lawyer – who with his Jewish law colleagues, smuggled guns to the early Israelis).

Gosh darn it though, I have this thing about how these other people were also dispossessed of their own homes, much as the Indians were in the US, and the Irish were in their own country – and the Jews were throughout history. This doesn’t make me a hypocrite, it makes me consistent. And I don’t see how the deaths of 13 Israelis (four killed in “friendly fire”) – may God have mercy on them – really justifies the deaths of 900 Palestinians, with 4,000 wounded, and about 40% of all of them children, inside a giant open-air concentration camp.

I have followed your weekly writings eagerly for sometime – often the highlight of my week, intellectually. It doesn’t bother me that you are cantankerous, or bitchy, or over the top. It does bother me however, that an otherwise smart person could so childishly take personal umbrage at what some obvious idiots had written, that you would callously and unthinkingly condemn an entire, unrelated, imprisoned population to such barbaric conditions.

They didn’t ask to get their homeland invaded, and you’d probably be pretty pissed off too if you were confined to a ghetto on the outskirts of your own homeland. I understand that the Jews in 1948 were a desperate people, much like the Irish immigrants in the US circa 1848 – and after the man-made famine, the brutality, and the coffin ships, how could we blame desperate immigrants for signing up to Manifest Destiny (a concept courtesy of one Mr. O’Sullivan) in their new homeland, if it meant land and freedom – even if this meant the brutal dispossession and ghettoisation of the native tribes? I don’t blame desperate Jews for essentially signing up to a Zionist Manifest Destiny either. But we are still faced with the issue of this land’s dispossessed native people, also ghettoised, and barbarised, in the here and now as a result. Irish patriots also fought with the Boers against the British for South African independence in the nineteenth century. This does not mean that we were dishonourable in recognising the immorality of apartheid later.

Israel is essentially a delayed nineteenth century pan-ethnic/religious nationalist european project, much like the other nationalist projects of the time – pan-slavism, Irish nationalism, the Boer war etc. It’s tragedy is that it has had the contradictions of european polity vs. dispossession of non-european natives telescoped into two decades rather than two centuries, right after experiencing the horror of it’s own people’s near annihilation. It is also, now, the French Algeria of the Western World – the West here primarily being its main material sponsor and political fountainhead, the United States. Much like the French Algerian Ultras, it is claiming to be upholding the best of Western Civilisation while engaging in the worst aspects of that civilisation’s practice against outsiders (the so-called outsiders actually being natives); and like the Ultras, also yelling betrayal and infamy at any dissent in the mother country.

You often declaim against exurbs and suburbs and Las Vegas; but doesn’t it occur to you that Israel itself is the ultimate Western exurb in the Middle East? A national counterpart to the wealthy fraccionamientos of Latin America: with their armed guards, shopping trips to – and kids in college in – “the States”; ever higher electrified barbed wire fences against the poverty outside; and the neighbourhood air-raid siren to alert of armed attacks by thieves and kidnappers? Don’t the crumbling, empty buildings of the Tel Aviv advance capital give you pause for concern? If you genuinely care about the fate of the Zionist project, shouldn’t you be concerned about its near total reliance on massive subventions – military, political and economic – from it’s American sponsor and european watershed? The massive influx of ex-Soviet immigrants, unenculturated by Western norms of liberal democracy or even the ideals of the early Zionist project? The proto-fascist fanatics who insist on the continued theft of private Palestinian land, the humiliation and subjugation of it’s people – and the Orwellian use of “settler” as though this private property was empty? The Israeli soldiers who risk their lives to guard goatherds, and exurbs with no economic or social reason for existence other than pure colonisation? How can you condemn the wasteful yet peaceful “Inland Empire” of the US and not see the parallel with the colonial exurbs – by gunpoint – of Israel?

Can you please form and articulate your own, independent and intelligent analysis of Israel – pro or con – that does not simply rely on reacting to what other people say, and without the casual, Stalinist airbrushing of its native population from the pages of history? You can do far, far better than by simply stooping to the childish tone of your most idiotic attackers. Please do.

Sincerely


May I also please remind you that Arabs are a semitic people too, and that the charge of anti-semitism can equally apply to anyone who would so casually and flippantly dismiss the suffering in Gaza as you seem to have done in your recent article.

That’s too fine a distinction.
The Palestinians have declared that the destruction of Israel is their official policy.
They need to change their policy.

Jim
James Howard Kunstler
“It’s All Good”


Mr. Kunstler,

I’m sorry you didn’t seem to get past the first paragraph; and the “Palestinians” (and the 40% casualties who are children) are not Hamas, or the rocket firers, just like the Israeli militarists and expansionists are not all Jews. And it is anti-semitic – or how about just inhumane – to assume otherwise.

Sincerely

Does Obama Really Plan To Govern from the Center-Right?

Samhain 24, 2008


Progressives are as irrelevant to the Democratic power-brokers as evangelicals are to the Republicans’: both parties know that they can take these groups completely for granted. Both parties throw them some mostly symbolic scraps from the table occasionally, that they can bark loudly about, and put on some street theatre with the other side to rally the troops.
But in the end, the neocons or corporate republicans are just as willing to abandon the religious right as Hillary et al are willing to cosy up to them (the neocons etc.). Well done chaps: just keep telling yourselves Obama’s a progressive, and blame all his apparent failures on the equally ineffectual Jesus-freaks.
More on Barack Obama
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Sarah Palin TV Interview Turkey Incident: OMG!

Samhain 22, 2008


No one who had grown up on a farm would even bat an eyelid at this non-story. That meaty stuff you eat for Thanksgiving, you do realise that comes from a live animal that has to be slaughtered by someone, yes? You do all realise where the bacon in BLT sandwiches come from, right? Or do all HuffPost readers eat only seaweed and tofu and live in tree-based upper-canopy ecopods?
More on Sarah Palin
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Hoping Hillary Says Yes?

Samhain 22, 2008


Phillip Giraldi (The American Conservative): “The neocon surge towards Hillary as Secretary of State, a position which she reportedly has accepted, has already begun.”

Philip Weiss (Mondoweiss): “Jacob Heilbrunn, neocon spotter, has a fine piece in Huffington Post pointing out that the neocons, deprived of a host by McCain’s demise, are, surprise, relaunching as Hillary Clintonites. Obama? No problem. The Weekly Standard has apparently been adoring Hillary. And of course there’s Joe Lieberman extolling her.”

But at least Hollywood is impressed, so I guess that’s what’s important.
More on Obama’s Cabinet
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Everyone’s a comedian II

Samhain 9, 2008

Sarah Palin! Tina Fey’s impression on Saturday Night Live (Katie Couric interview, VP debates etc.) So good that the suits in NBC have effectively banned it from the Internet outside the US, until they can figure out how to charge somebody fees… you have to wonder if these guys would ban VHS tapes if given the chance – I mean, you can just record anything you want off of the TeeVee, and then swap it with friends! The horror!

These are courtesy of our good friends at http://www.thepiratebay.org

VP debate:
http://www.airstripone.com/images/tina_fey_sarah_palin_vp_debate_snl.flv

http://www.airstripone.com/images/tina_fey_sarah_palin_vp_debate_snl.m4v

Tina Fey/Sarah Palin with John McCain, Saturday Night Live, QVC spoof:
http://www.airstripone.com/images/tina_fey_sarah_palin_john_mccain_snl.m4v

Tina Fey/Sarah Palin, “Hillary”, SNL skit:
http://www.airstripone.com/images/tina_fey_sarah_palin_hillary_clinton_snl.m4v

Tina Fey/Sarah Palin, “Katie Couric” interview, SNL spoof:
http://www.airstripone.com/images/tina_fey_sarah_palin_katie_couric_interview_snl.m4v

And so it begins…

Samhain 7, 2008

These news items brought to you via RationalReview.com:

Forget the honeymoon
AntiWar.Com
by Justin Raimondo

“When I hear talk of a ‘honeymoon’ for the President-elect — to last as long as six months, by some accounts — I think: ‘Fine. You lay off, and I’ll do the same.’ But oh no, it doesn’t work that way. Obama has already started in on us, and he hasn’t even taken the oath of office yet. I’m talking about his appointments, starting with Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff.” (11/07/08)

http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=13728

And then there’s the hangover
KN@PPSTER
by Thomas L. Knapp

“As everyone keeps pointing out, president-elect Barack Obama is a ‘transformational figure,’ by which I assume they do not mean that he can turn himself into a truck or an airplane or whatever and fly off to fight evil robots invading from space (although it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that some people do, in fact, believe that as well). The thing with ‘transformational figures’ is that they produce transformations. And the thing with transformations is that they tend to be unpredictable, both in detail and with respect to their effects on ‘the big picture.'” (11/06/08)

http://knappster.blogspot.com/2008/11/and-then-theres-hangover.html

Three predictions for Obama’s America
Reason
by Nick Gillespie

“Will President Obama be a, coff-coff, game-changer? His fans certainly believe so, attributing to the junior senator from the Land of Lincoln all manner of supernatural powers. He will, we can rest assured, singlehandedly make Iran, whose president literally exhausted himself hating on the Great Satan, and every other country in the world, bless these United States once again. He will raise average wages, either through passing pro-union legislation such as ‘Card Check’ or through sheer force of personality. He’ll make a beer that really does taste great and is less filling. He’ll resolve that great epistemological conundrum that haunted Dr. Johnson and Bishop Berkeley’s correspondence: Is Razzles a gum or a candy? Barack Obama’s
foes — excuse me, Barack Hussein Obama’s foes — ascribe to him the same Superduperman-like abilities but worry that the guy will be kryptonite to the American nation, the American Dream, the American economy, and more.” (11/06/08)

http://www.reason.com/news/show/129958.html

Obama’s disappointing first choice
The Nation
by John Nichols

“House Minority Leader John Boehner and other Republican insiders in Washington are griping about President-elect Barack Obama’s selection of Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel to serve as White House chief of staff. Emanuel, they complain, is too partisan. If only that were the case. Partisan true believers stand strong for the ideals and principles of a party, they want to follow the dictates of the platform and stay in tune with grassroots activists. That’s not a description of Rahm Emanuel. In fact, Emanuel is the opposite of a partisan. He is someone who has worked very hard for a very long time — first in the Clinton administration and then in Congress — to change the Democratic party into a more cautious, centrist and compromised institution.”
(11/06/08)

http://www.thenation.com/blogs/thebeat/381333

A look under the hood of an Obama Administration
CounterPunch
by Joshua Frank

“Tuesday’s celebration hangovers have finally started to wear off, and the pieces are beginning to fall into place. Change will be coming to Washington in January, but it is difficult to decipher what form it will take. Early clues, however, suggest that Barack Obama’s administration will prove unlikely to alter the fundamental political machinery that has led us into war and economic turmoil. Below is a brief summary of Obama’s potential choices for a few key roles in his administration.” (11/06/08)

http://counterpunch.org/frank11062008.html

Can Obama stop the Bush administration’s final economic heist?
AlterNet
by Naomi Klein

“The first order of business — and one that cannot wait until inauguration — must be halting the robbery-in-progress known as the ‘economic bailout.’ … the $700-billion ‘rescue plan’ should be regarded as the Bush Administration’s final heist. Not only does it transfer billions of dollars of public wealth into the hands of politically connected corporations (a Bush specialty), but it passes on such an enormous debt burden to the next administration that it will make real investments in green infrastructure and universal health care close to impossible. If this final looting is not stopped (and yes, there is still time), we can forget about Obama making good on the more progressive aspects of his campaign platform, let alone the hope that he will offer the country some kind of grand Green New Deal.” (11/06/08)

http://tinyurl.com/5v55e7

Chris Mathews: dumb rednecks vote Republican

Samhain 5, 2008

Oh boy.

Listening to Chris Mathews on CNBC. His thesis on the Democrat vote is this: a lot of younger college educated white voters, who aren’t threatened by competition; whereas the Republicans have uneducated and older whites, who are threatened by other emerging groups’ aspirations; you see, they fear competition, so they’re right wing, and competition is good!

Great. The poor bastards who can’t afford college, who slog at minimum wage jobs, who have to compete in an economy wrecked by globalised financial idiocracy, while Megamart Inc. drive down wages by exploiting undocumented Mexicans in the name of efficiency…. I bet these working class stiffs really appreciate this kind of condescending liberal claptrap. Way to go.

Some thoughts on Race

Samhain 2, 2008

Some comments on the comments to an article by Justin Raimondo over at The American Conservative blog:

The whole fixation on white, and other, races as relatively fixed categories is (seems?) a very American phenomenon. Not saying it isn’t a useful generalisation sometimes – in the same way as talking about Texans versus Californians – but it’s not necessary to use DNA characteristics to justify it.

The whole “stuff white people like” for example, is funny hilarious because it’s a lot of stereotypes about white liberals in US coastal cities. But outside of Blue State cities it starts to fall flat – and in rural European communities people wouldn’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

I understand that angry or alienated and politically dispossessed people who are white in the US might not have any other immediate banner of solidarity to rally around. But that kind of very broad generalisation doesn’t really export well outside of that context.

White Europeans, Black, Brown and Yellow men have all been more than willing to slaughter each other within their skin colours’ boundaries, and still do.


While I sympathise very much with sentiments expressed against excessive and rigid racialism in thought and deed, it is refreshing to see a quality forum where these topics can be discussed and argued about openly and intelligently.

Especially so to see this come from a thinking conservative/right point of view. A lot of the left seem content to be abdicate their public responsibility about this, and just engage in self-righteous sloganonanism.

A lot of wounds fester badly when kept covered up. That there exists an undercurrent of racialist thinking and grievance in American society might suggest that it’s better to draw it out and deal with it responsibly rather than have it build up, neglected, and rupture.

HuffPost – Voter Beware: Of Ralph Nader

Samhain 2, 2008

“…it is just possible to see how Nader, with his messianic vanity, and destructive urges that are best explained by God or psychiatry, can again determine the future of America. From almost any non-Republican perspective – except nihilism – this is a travesty.”
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

1. What a proto-totalitarian mindset – that anyone has a God-given right to a political monopoly of change and dissent! This is a democracy; are Democrats so utterly precious and vain – and so incompetent or weak on a popular basis – that they are intolerant of the democratic process itself? Suck it up!

2. A majority of the electorate don’t vote: is this not a condemnation of both Democrats and Republicans? Who are any of them to lecture anybody who gets people motivated to go out and vote? How do they know the Nader voters wouldn’t have stayed away as the real silent majority without him as on option – or have voted other third party – or Republican?

3. A significant number of Conservative or Libertarian dissidents are advocating Nader – e.g. at The American Conservative’s Amconmag.com/blog or Taki Theodoracopulous’ Takimag.com or over at Antiwar.com . As much as they might disagree with him on other things, he has some appeal to many libertarians and conservatives who detest current foreign policy and corporate socialism; they even can appreciate his idealism – remember that thing? So chill dude; a vote for Nader is not necessarily a vote lost to Obama, despite your certainty-without-evidence to the contrary (unless there shouldn’t be ANY other parties…?)

4. Democrats shouldn’t feel so worried; whatever they lose to Nader you will gain in Corporate Republicans, Conservative-Lites, and Fairweather Neocons endorsing Obama. ‘Plus ca change‘ we can believe in!
More on Barack Obama Ralph Nader [Update: interesting how the WordPress submission button at HuffPost includes a link to it’s entire Obama category, but has nothing to Nader n’est pas?]