Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Zenawi: The Ethiopian Marriage of Marxism-Leninism and Capitalism

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Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi died on Monday of an as-yet unspecified illness. Zenawi, writes the New York Times‘s Jeffrey Gettleman, “lifted his country from the ruins of civil war and transformed it into one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies and one of the United States government’s closest African allies.”
In reality, Zenawi, who ruled Ethiopia first as president and then as prime minister for more than 20 years, after leading the putatively Marxist-Leninist Tigrayan Peoples’ Liberation Front to victory over the previous regime, was a premier example of the modern managerial statist.
The economic and political fusions he orchestrated in Ethiopia — between state socialism and multinational corporations the one hand, pan-Africanism and US client statism on the other — are the textbook case of a dying form (the Westphalian nation-state) jumping directly from semi-feudalism to complete political vapor lock at the expense of its people.

The Security State: An Ever Bigger and Dumber Dinosaur

Posted by Kevin Carson

Stratfor internal documents posted on Wikileaks reveal that Abraxas corporation — a security state contractor with close ties to the spooks at the US National Security Agency — has developed a software system networking countless public surveillance cameras with a facial recognition database.
Meanwhile, the NSA is building a gargantuan data-crunching facility — the Utah Data Center — that it expects to become operational in 2013: “Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital ‘pocket litter.’”
Civil libertarian reactions to this stuff consist mainly — and quite understandably — of horror at the newly augmented power of the automated police state. In terms of the state’s intent and its legal figleaves for justifying it, this is obviously yet another step in America’s slide into full-blown security state authoritarianism a la the movie “Brazil.”

9 killed, 68 injured in blast in southeast Turkey, PKK denies responsibility

ANKARA, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- At least nine people, including four children, were killed by a remote-controlled car bomb in southeastern Turkey, Turkish officials said Tuesday, while the banned Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) denied responsibility for the blast.
A total of 68 people were injured in the blast near a police station in southeastern Turkish province of Gaziantep on Monday night, four of them in critical condition, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay told reporters on Tuesday.
Most of the others suffered slight injuries caused by shattered glass, said Atalay, adding that Monday's blast set several vehicles ablaze.
"The vehicle used in the attack was a stolen one. It was brought to the site of the blast by a tow truck, with a high amount of explosives on board," Atalay said.

Is Leon Panetta a Saint—or a War Criminal?

Is Leon Panetta a Saint—or a War Criminal?
David R. Henderson’s Introduction:
The first part of this article’s title is absurd, right? How could the head of the CIA, a man who sends drones to kill alleged terrorists and ends up killing not only terrorists, but also many innocent people, be a saint? Well, you probably don’t live in the Monterey area. I do. Leon Panetta is thought of as the local boy who made good. After President Obama decided to nominate Panetta for secretary of defense, the local newspaper, the Monterey County Herald, ran a pro-Panetta editorial making the case that he would be a fine secretary. Then, after Panetta’s participation in the successful plot to kill Osama bid Laden, many locals, including the Herald’s executive editor, Joe Livernois, advocated naming some local landmark after him. (For a letter of mine regarding an earlier disagreement with Livernois, see this.) Some, including a fairly smart local lawyer I used to be friends with, even advocated calling the local airport simply “The Leon.” Every few days in the Herald appears another encomium to Panetta.

The Drug War Finds New Ways to Fail

The Drug War Finds New Ways to Fail
The federal government’s effort to battle drug abuse has been a tragic and expensive failure. But of course, admitting that would make politicians, who regularly endorse it to sound tough, seem foolish and careless with taxpayer dollars. So the War on Drugs continues, while of necessity it slowly morphs into new forms of federal waste and unnecessary intrusion into people’s lives.
Militarized federal law enforcement just can’t cope with trendiness in recreational drug use. Cocaine use is so yesterday (the 1980s, to be exact) and is a declining problem. Even at the height of the crack cocaine epidemic in the mid-1980s, only 5.8 million people in a population of about 240 million were using the drug; the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that only 1.5 million in a population of 313 million use cocaine. In recent years, methamphetamine use has also declined. Lately, heroin use is up slightly but still affects a minuscule portion (less than .08%) of the American population.

Wars Have Unpredictable and Dangerous Collateral Effects

Wars Have Unpredictable and Dangerous Collateral Effects

The recent bloodless (referring to American blood — the most important to U.S. policymakers) overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya has been touted as a low-cost model for future U.S. military interventions. The recent Libyan election is said to have vindicated America’s “leadership from the rear” strategy — supporting indigenous armies on the ground and allied air forces with key items such as air-defense suppression, intelligence, and logistics. Yet U.S. military assistance to the rebellion in Libya is having unintended ill effects, much as have past U.S. interventions.

Romney the Businessman?

Romney the Businessman?
Mitt Romney has focused his run for the presidency on the superior skills he developed as a successful businessman, asserting that he alone has the knowledge, the experience, and the personal grit needed to repair the U.S. economy. Let us accept for a moment that Romney’s preferred narrative is true, i.e., that he actually was a respectable and honorable businessman, not just a predatory capitalist who bought up failing companies so he could enrich himself by stripping them of their assets and putting their employees out of work. If Mitt is the real thing, one should expect a president who will be a careful and cautious manager, making rational decisions based on available information, because whether businesses succeed or fail frequently depends on making the right judgments at the right time. Government admittedly provides services that do not exactly fit into a normal business model, but there nevertheless exists a broad consensus that a rational process should prevail that confers benefits on most of the citizens most of the time. As the dissatisfaction of most Americans with the status quo derives from the belief that the federal government is reckless and unresponsive and does not actually address the needs of the people, Romney’s claim that he can right what is wrong in the economy provides a compelling reason to vote for him.

Bibi’s War. We don't have to fight it

Bibi’s War
We don't have to fight it
Has there ever been a more brazen display of a foreign government dragging a more powerful nation into a war not of its own choosing? I’m talking about the almost comical efforts by the Israelis to goad Washington into attacking Iran: the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu has done everything and then some to put pressure on the Obama administration to act. The latest display of overt manipulation was recently featured on Israeli television:
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ‘is determined to attack Iran before the US elections,’ Israel’s Channel 10 News claimed on Monday night, and Israel is now ‘closer than ever’ to a strike designed to thwart Iran’s nuclear drive… The report added that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak believe Obama would have no choice but to give backing for an Israeli attack before the US presidential elections in November.”

Football and economics

Mexico 4, Brazil 2

CONGRATULATIONS are due to Mexico, which on August 11th won its first gold medal in the London Olympics, beating Brazil in the men's football final. After 93 frantic minutes, the final score was 2-1 to Mexico. Mass celebrations followed in Mexico City.
This blog’s headline isn't a misprint, but a reference to the score in a longer-term competition: economic growth. In recent years Brazil has outplayed Mexico, growing at 6% or more as Mexico bumped along in the slow lane. But lately that has changed. Last year Mexico grew by 4% and Brazil by 2.7%. This year Mexico is expected to get close to 4% again, whereas some economists reckon that Brazil's rate could dip below 2%. A recent report by Nomura predicted that Mexico’s economy, currently half the size of Brazil’s, could end up the bigger of the two within the next decade.

Angela Merkel's Dilemma: Euro or Her Government?

Approval of Congress Falls to All-Time Low

Ryan Calls for Akin to Step Down as Pressure Grows

CBO: Recession in 2013 If No Action by Congress

'False Balance'

'False Balance'

Why Obama is so out of touch.

The writer of this Associated Press headline is either witty or clueless: "Obama Defends Tenor of His Campaign, Slams Romney." The mixed metaphor almost seems appropriate for such a mixed message. At a press conference yesterday, the president "took questions from four reporters, the most he has taken from the national press corps in two months," the AP reports. One of the reporters, CBS's Nancy Cordes, actually asked him about the vicious tone of his campaign.
[image] Rex Features via Associated Press
I am not a jerk.
In response, Obama "defended the tone of his campaign . . . and insisted it's actually Mitt Romney's ads that are 'patently false.' " But his very denials of negative campaigning amounted to negative campaigning. As the AP puts it, he "did distance himself from a particularly provocative negative ad by a political group that supports him." Said the president: "I don't think that Governor Romney is somehow responsible for the death of the woman that was portrayed in that ad"--repeating the allegation in the course of weakly repudiating it.
Obama similarly employed apophasis when he asserted that "nobody accused Mr. Romney of being a felon." In fact, as the Washington Examiner notes, Obama aide Stephanie Cutter did just that, telling reporters last month "that Romney 'through his own words and his own signature' misrepresented 'his position at Bain to the [Securities and Exchange Commission], which is a felony.' " notes that last week, in an interview with "Entertainment Tonight" (!), Obama made this risible assertion: "I don't think you or anybody who's been watching the campaign would say that in any way we have tried to divide the country. We've always tried to bring the country together."
The reader who sent us this clip observes that Obama probably believes what he's saying and describes him as the "most isolated president since Nixon. That's always the problem. Who tells his boss he is acting like [a jerk]?"

Joseph Epstein: The Comic Stylings of Joe Biden

Joseph Epstein: The Comic Stylings of Joe Biden

The vice president is a three-letter word called fun. Or is it four?

With Democrats wondering whether President Obama should keep Joe Biden as his running mate, and some of them even suggesting Hillary Clinton as his replacement, I'm already beginning to miss the vice president. Mr. Biden, after all, supplies comic relief, a thing always in great need and inevitably in short supply in American politics. He is the only politician in recent years whose every utterance isn't predictable. Joe Biden himself must often be astonished at what comes out of his mouth.
The hair-plugs, the shysterish suits, the wiseguy demeanor, the low-grade lawyerly confidence of utterance, it's a grand show the vice president puts on. The first clue we had of Mr. Biden's quality was the long, lost Anita Hill weekend, back in 1991 during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he displayed his talent for asking all the wrong, which is to say so many of the embarrassing, questions. It was the way he asked them—with that smirky certainty of his own unproved astuteness—that is signature Joe Biden.
imageAssociated Press
Vice President Joe Biden

What Did Rand Paul Gain?

 – by Anthony Wile

Anthony Wile
Mitt Romney has picked the youthful warmonger Paul Ryan to be his running mate.
From my point of view, this leaves the junior senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, standing near the altar like a jilted bridesmaid. Not a very pretty picture.
And now what has Rand Paul got?
I'll tell you in four words at the end of this article.
No peeking.
First, the bigger picture ... So far Rand's gamble – endorsing Romney – doesn't seem to be paying off. And there may be a salutary lesson in this.
It is late in the day.

Ecuador President Rafael "We Are Not A Colony" Correa Stands Up To The Jackbooted British Gestapo

– by Paul Craig Roberts

Paul Craig Roberts
A coward dies many deaths; a brave man dies but once.
The once proud British government, now reduced to Washington's servile whore, put on its Gestapo Jackboots and declared that if the Ecuadorean Embassy in London did not hand over WikiLeaks' Julian Assange, British storm troopers would invade the embassy with military force and drag Assange out. Ecuador stood its ground. "We want to be very clear, we are not a British colony," declared Ecuador's Foreign Minister. Far from being intimidated the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, replied to the threat by granting Assange political asylum.

Nancy Grace Points the Way to Gold Confiscation?

 by Anthony Wile

Anthony Wile
We received a YouTube video address from a friend of the Daily Bell, and the power elite meme popped right out.
At the end of this article, I'll provide a video address, so you can see for yourself how Nancy Grace positions this particular analysis of "justice."
We've written in the past about how gold and silver confiscation might take place if the price becomes intolerably high from the point of view of the power elites that want to remain in control of central banking and fiat money.

Happiness and Success in Business

 – by Joel F. Wade

Joel Wade
Much as we are often motivated by what we think will bring us happiness, happiness is still seen as something of a trivial side issue; not a bottom line kind of thing at all. There are two major reasons for this as I see it:

Shrink YOUR Government

 – by Staff Report

Thomas Jefferson
The debate about shrinking government is mostly wishful thinking ... With the selection of Paul Ryan as the Republican vice-presidential candidate, it is clear both political parties agree that the central issue in the coming presidential election will be the scale and scope of government involvement in the U.S. economy. There will be disagreement over what constituted "normal" levels of spending in the past and indeed over what constitutes "spending." But there is a widespread view in both parties that it is feasible and desirable that in the future the federal government will be no larger as a share of the overall economy than it has been historically. Unfortunately, this aspiration is unlikely to be achieved. Even preserving the amount of government functions the U.S. had before the financial crisis will require substantial increases in the share of the economy devoted to the public sector. This is the case for several structural reasons. – Reuters/Lawrence H. Summers

Report: Obama Stimulus Bucks Paid for Advertising on MSNBC

A recent report has revealed that in 2009 Obama's Department of Labor used Obama stimulus bucks to fund advertising on MSNBC.

The advertisements were created to promote Obama's so-called "green training" job programs and were handled by the PR firm McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations LLC at a cost of $495,000 to the taxpayers.
Two video ads ran for two months, 14 times a week during Countdown With Keith Olbermann and The Rachel Maddow Show.

Romney Rising In Swing States: Polls Ahead of Obama in WI and MI

For a while now, and with some off-days, presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney has maintained a small but persistent lead in the two most reliable national polls, Gallup and Rasmussen. Swing state polls, however, have been less kind. Since Romney clinched the nomination, President Obama has consistently led in most of these crucial states, sometimes by wide margins that felt counter-intuitive when compared to the national polls.

Stephen K. Bannon and Citizen United's 'The Hope and the Change' Ready to Rock Obama, RNC

Stephen K. Bannon and Citizen United's 'The Hope and the Change' Ready to Rock Obama, RNC

Get ready, Obama administration. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

"The Hope and the Change," the latest project from Citizens United, directed by Stephen K. Bannon, the man behind "The Undefeated," "Generation Zero," and "Occupy Unmasked," will debut next week during the Republican National Convention in Tampa. And this is one partisan project not aimed at its own side. The folks behind the film are directly targeting Democrats who may have had enough of the president's "hope and change" razzle dazzle.

The film is slated for a September release in theaters, and will hit cable up until the election after that.
And it's not kind to Obama.

RNC: Hints of Violence as Law Enforcement Prepares for Tampa

Law enforcement agencies have been gearing up for the Republican National Convention in Tampa to be held August 27th – August 30th.  For many, that’s welcome news, as local and national anarchist groups have amped up the chatter in recent months.

On Tuesday, Tampa police said they confiscated “pipes, bricks and other suspicious items from the rooftop of a downtown building located about a mile from where next week's Republican National Convention will be held.”  The police chief also indicated that they have studied other protests in preparation for this month’s convention.

Poll: Romney grabs lead in Wisconsin

Poll: Romney grabs lead in Wisconsin

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has opened up a 1-point lead in the key battleground state of Wisconsin, according to a poll released Tuesday.
The poll by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling shows Mr. Romney leading President Obama 48 percent to 47 percent in the Badger State. The results are identical to those from a Rasmussen Reports poll released last week.
Mr. Obama, who won Wisconsin by 14 percentage points in 2008, consistently has led in state polls but has seen his lead evaporate in the two weeks since Mr. Romney announced Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate.
The poll showed that Republican voters have rallied behind the Romney-Ryan ticket, with 93 percent saying they will vote Republican, and that Wisconsin independents have shifted away from the president, who holds just a 4-point lead with them after enjoying a 14-point lead last month.

Labor Department spends stimulus funds for ads during Olbermann, Maddow shows

Labor Department spends stimulus funds for ads during Olbermann, Maddow shows

Contract shows no new jobs were created

The Labor Department paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal stimulus funds to a public relations firm to run more than 100 commercials touting the Obama administration’s “green training” job efforts on two MSNBC cable shows, records show.
The commercials ran on MSNBC on shows hosted by Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann in 2009, but the contract didn’t report any jobs created, according to records reviewed recently by The Washington Times.

In July, Romney raises $24M more than Obama with help of super PACs

By Luke Rosiak

Showing increasing strength in the money race, Mitt Romney in July outraised President Obama in all but 11 states, and in all nine of the most likely swing states, chalking up his strongest support yet from small donors.
Buttressed by his reliable large donors and a pair of supportive super PACs, Mr. Romney and his backers raised $24 million more than Team Obama in July.
Totals announced by the Romney campaign earlier this month may have overstated the July haul, however, because disclosures Monday showed that $20 million was transferred to party committees in strategically unimportant states as part of an arrangement between those parties and Mr. Romney’s joint fundraising committee, which focuses on raising funds from the wealthiest donors.

Obama’s dark side

Obama’s dark side

Defensive president tries to deny his dirty campaign practices

President Obama’s ugly campaign is backfiring. With bad news clouding over our struggling nation, Americans are sick of all the political lies, such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s claim that Mitt Romney hadn’t paid taxes for 10 years and the Obama camp’s inference that the Republican presidential candidate was guilty of a felony related to his business background. A defensive Mr. Obama even stopped hiding from the press for a few minutes on Monday to stammer, “We point out sharp differences between the candidates, but we don’t go out of bounds.” Yeah, right.

CBO: Feds flirting with double-dip recession

CBO: Feds flirting with double-dip recession

President Obama and Congress are flirting with both a recession and a bigger jump in unemployment next year unless they head off looming tax increases and spending cuts — but doing so could mean a fifth straight year of trillion-dollar deficits, the government’s chief scorekeeper said Wednesday.
The latest update by the Congressional Budget Office shows the time for hard choices that lawmakers have feared for years is now here: Leaders must choose between economic pain and budget-tightening now, or continuing to bolster the U.S. economy with the risk of a bigger fiscal collapse later.

Will Obama stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions?

Will Obama stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions?

Israel needs help from United States

The Western world’s media are again filled with speculation, leaks, purported leaks and flat-out disinformation about whether and when Israel will use military force against Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. As America’s Nov. 6 elections draw inexorably closer, pundits and commentators are assessing whether Israel can take seriously President Obama’s assurances that he will not permit Iran to become a nuclear-weapons state.

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