Monday Mashup Part One (6/28/10)

  • 1) In response to this pic, I only wish to ask the following question…

    This is CNN?

  • 2) Also, Tyler Cowen of the New York Times wrote an entire column yesterday about our economy with not a single mention of this country’s chronic unemployment (here).

    Meanwhile, in the reality-based community, Paul Krugman gives us the following (here)…

    We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost — to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs — will nonetheless be immense.

    And this third depression will be primarily a failure of policy. Around the world — most recently at last weekend’s deeply discouraging G-20 meeting — governments are obsessing about inflation when the real threat is deflation, preaching the need for belt-tightening when the real problem is inadequate spending.

    In the face of this grim picture, you might have expected policy makers to realize that they haven’t yet done enough to promote recovery. But no: over the last few months there has been a stunning resurgence of hard-money and balanced-budget orthodoxy.

    As far as rhetoric is concerned, the revival of the old-time religion is most evident in Europe, where officials seem to be getting their talking points from the collected speeches of Herbert Hoover, up to and including the claim that raising taxes and cutting spending will actually expand the economy, by improving business confidence. As a practical matter, however, America isn’t doing much better. The Fed seems aware of the deflationary risks — but what it proposes to do about these risks is, well, nothing. The Obama administration understands the dangers of premature fiscal austerity — but because Republicans and conservative Democrats in Congress won’t authorize additional aid to state governments, that austerity is coming anyway, in the form of budget cuts at the state and local levels.

    And who will pay the price for this triumph of orthodoxy? The answer is, tens of millions of unemployed workers, many of whom will go jobless for years, and some of whom will never work again.

    What a shame that those in the “pain caucus” such as Cowen, who seem to have no problem whatsoever with a national unemployment rate of 9.7 percent, apparently can’t or won’t find an appreciation for the plight of those worse off than they are.

  • 3) And in the department of corporate media illogic, Ross Douthat of the Times tells us the following today about Afghanistan (here)…

    Advocates of a swift withdrawal tend to see Biden as their ally, and in a sense they’re right. His plan would reduce America’s footprint in Afghanistan, and probably reduce American casualties as well.

    But in terms of the duration of American involvement, and the amount of violence we deal out, this kind of strategy might actually produce the bloodier and more enduring stalemate.

    It wouldn’t actually eliminate the American presence, for one thing. Instead, such a plan would concentrate our forces around the Afghan capital, protecting the existing government while seeking deals with some elements of the insurgency. History suggests that such bargains would last only as long as American troops remained in the country, which means that our soldiers would be effectively trapped — stuck defending a Potemkin state whose leader (whether Hamid Karzai or a slightly less corrupt successor) would pose as Afghanistan’s president while barely deserving the title of mayor of Kabul.

    At the same time, by abandoning any effort to provide security to the Afghan people and relying instead on drone strikes and special forces raids, this approach would probably produce a spike in the kind of civilian casualties that have already darkened America’s reputation in the region.

    Shorter Douthat…

    We have to stay in Afghanistan and execute McChrystal’s counter-insurgency strategy, including rules of engagement that allow our people to get killed easier than they might otherwise, because if we pull out (and Heaven forbid we execute some cowardly li-bu-ruul strategy like that), we’ll just have to go back in and start all over, and in the process, kill more people than we are now. Is that about right?

    But just remember that Douthat tells us that “success is the only way out.”

    With all of this in mind, I give you the following from U.S. House Rep Dennis Kucinich (here)…

    In a little more than a year the United States flew $12 billion in cash to Iraq, much of it in $100 bills, shrink wrapped and loaded onto pallets. Vanity Fair reported in 2004 that “at least $9 billion” of the cash had “gone missing, unaccounted for.” $9 billion. Today, we learned that suitcases of $3 billion in cash have openly moved through the Kabul airport.

    One U.S. official quoted by the Wall Street Journal said, “A lot of this looks like our tax dollars being stolen.” $3 billion. Consider this as the American people sweat out an extension of unemployment benefits. Last week, the BBC reported that “the US military has been giving tens of millions of dollars to Afghan security firms who are funneling the money to warlords.” Add to that a corrupt Afghan government underwritten by the lives of our troops. And now reports indicate that Congress is preparing to attach $10 billion in state education funding to a $33 billion spending bill to keep the war going. Back home millions of Americans are out of work, losing their homes, losing their savings, their pensions, and their retirement security. We are losing our nation to lies about the necessity of war.

    Bring our troops home. End the war. Secure our economy.

    Amen to that.

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