The United States claims its drone attacks target militants. However, hundreds of civilians have been killed in such imprecise attacks since 2008.It’s perfectly obvious that drone attacks are indiscriminate, yet does any major outlet ever use even a mild word like “imprecise” to describe them (apart from a faux-balanced “some say the world is round, others differ” construct)?
The issue of civilian casualties has strained relations between Islamabad and Washington, as statistics show that the US missile strikes have killed more than 1,000 people, mostly civilians over the past two years.
One of the hazards of an omnivorous military/spying industry is that certain kinds of lawbreaking is covered up. Or: Equal justice under the law just took a few more steps away.
Steven Aftergood on the latest effort of the Pentagon to ensure favorable coverage: “Unauthorized disclosures - even incomplete or partially inaccurate ones - often serve a valuable public policy function, at least when they do not trespass on legitimate secrets, because they enable reporters and others to develop an independent account of events and to generate a more complete public record.” (Via.) Does that mean he is re-evaluating his previously dim view of WikiLeaks?
It looks like if Pentagon messaging fails, the fallback position is to buy all copies of the offending publication and burn them. By the way, the book doesn’t appear to be available on the Kindle. Hm.
Phenomenal post from bmaz:
As Zeitoun spoke on the phone to a concerned relative overseas, a group of at least six National Guardsmen and police officers, in full out battle dress and armed with automatic weapons, broke the door down, stormed in and seized Zeitoun and the three other men in the house. Zeitoun tried desperately to show his legal identification and convey that he was the owner of the house, that the others were legitimately there and there was nothing improper going on. This, of course, was all to no avail whatsoever.As he writes, this is who we are.
Zeitoun and the others were handcuffed and shackled at automatic weapon point, thrown like meat into a boat and transported to “Camp Greyhound”. If you are not familiar with Camp Greyhound, you should be. If there was any doubt as to whether American citizens could be portaged off to a Gitmo like gulag with no due process right here on American soil, Camp Greyhound will disabuse you of such notion.
The 4th Amendment erodes a little further. Merits of any individual case aside, it is striking how uniformly the movement has been towards more intrusive government and the chipping away human rights of civil liberties. There doesn’t seem to be any sort of “2 forward, 1 back” dynamic - it’s all just in one direction.
Remember when we couldn’t look back because that would be criminalizing political differences? Here’s the inevitable result. Oh, and isn’t it great that we haven’t looked back at Jay Bybee either? He just slunk away and was never heard from again; the shame was just too much. Not.
Wal-Mart has been playing a very slick game, essentially using shell companies in order to benefit from brutal working conditions. They aren’t alone, but have the biggest footprint and have earned the scrutiny.
Winston Churchill has enjoyed an almost uniformly positive regard here in America, but a new book might tarnish the halo a little. Deservedly.
A fascinating history lesson from Gabriel Winant.
Some funnies. This from Tom Tomorrow, this from Thers and another one from him as well: “Dana Milbank believes he is witty. Dana Milbank believes he is fun. Dana Milbank is a smug halfwit cretin in whom a lack of elementary ethical principle, or indeed simple human feeling, is grotesquely coupled with an appalling absence of anything remotely resembling a critical intelligence.”
Collateral damage: “As strange as it may seem now, the reason the US has had the deepest capital markets wasn’t simply the size of our economy, but the perception that we had the most open and fairest regime for investors.”
the neoclassical paradigm is that of pure competition, where providers are mere price takers and cannot influence market dynamics. But that is a profoundly unattractive business proposition. Even if one were to wave a wand and reconfigure the modern economy along those lines, it would in short order coalesce into larger units as individuals did deals (either via alliances or merging operations) to gain the advantages of greater size, and sought to distinguish their offerings to give them pricing power. Differentiation doesn’t necessarily mean having unique products, but can come through the service related to the products. For instance, convenience stores charge more for staples like milk by virtue of location (on highways where there are no alternatives nearby) or by being open at 3:00 A.M.
Yet larger enterprises, or indeed anywhere group ties matter, are weirdly disturbing to neoclassical loyalists. One of the reasons they cling so fiercely to ideas like individuals as the locus of activity, along with rationality and welfare-maximizing results (despite the considerable distortions that result) is that they believe any other stance would support a restriction of personal rights. (As an aside: this view is counterfactual. Societies where social bonds have broken down and many individuals are isolated are in fact much more subject to totalitarianism and manipulation by propaganda.)
Neoclassics seek to eliminate power from the construct. As Nobel laureate George Stigler put it: “The essence of perfect competition is…the utter dispersion of power.”
But large-scale organizations inevitably involve concentrations of power. If Wal-Mart has wiped out many local retailers and you badly need a job, you have to accept Wal-Mart’s terms. And while neoclassical theory acknowledges the existence of monopolies and oligopolies, they are treated as curiosities and put aside. Moreover, industry groups can achieve economic power via their access to and use of political influence, as anyone dimly familiar with special interest group politics knows all too well. Wall Street is a prime example of political clout in excess of votes.
But again, neoliberal thinkers see only the state as a threat to individual rights. They do not consider that businesses or other private groups can amass so much wealth that they can assume state functions or otherwise coerce individuals. Thus they fail to consider that the government can play a useful role in restricting concentrations of power by private parties.