Week In Review
A Weekly Column by Bill Onasch
March 22, 2011
It was thoughtful of President Obama to choose the anniversary of GW Bush’s second war to launch the first of his very own. The imminent danger of weapons of mass destruction didn’t seem appropriate for Colonel Khadafi so the secondary motive for the invasion of Iraq was recycled in Libya. With his buddies Sarkozy, Cameron, and Harper eager for a taste of glory and a boost in domestic polls as well, the President told us the Free World could not idly stand by while a dictator ruthlessly repressed those under his rule.
Such a noble mission might seem more credible had not these same leaders done nothing while Saudi armed forces killed and dispersed those challenging their puppet in Bahrain. Or if they hadn’t ignored the massacre of dozens of Yemeni protesters by government rooftop snipers. Or if they hadn’t only denounced the victims of nearly daily deadly air incursions by Israeli forces in to Gaza. No talk of no fly in any of those places.
I’m no more a fan of Khadafi than I was of Saddam Hussein or am of the Taliban. Ruthless tyrants, be they secular or theocratic, deserve to be overthrown and dealt with–by those they rule, not by the powers enforcing the global corporate agenda. The peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq are worse off than ever after all these years of occupation under two administrations in Washington. Regime change through conquest is not liberation for oppressed working people.
While the French and British clamored first and loudest for going after Khadafi it was the might of the U.S. war machine that delivered most of the Shock and Awe. Firing more than 100 sea-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles (current retail @½ million dollars a piece), flying in stealth bombers from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, and sending in carrier-based F-15s, they took out not only Libyan air defenses but also command-and-control centers where Khadafi might well be present and have even hit tactical ground targets as small as personnel carriers.
Many from both parties in Congress are upset the President didn’t go through the formality of seeking a congressional authorization. Only a few have actually denounced starting a third U.S. war. More surprising and disappointing is the number of leftists in Europe that I have respected being bamboozled in to temporizing or even supporting the attack on Libya.
Obama and friends hope Odyssey Dawn will end quickly with a regime change they can control, securing a million barrels of oil a day in the process. Perhaps it will. But that was what Bush thought about Afghanistan and Iraq–where there are still American boots on the ground. And, if you check Webster’s, you’ll find odyssey is a long journey indeed.
Be it short or long it’s still wrong. Hands off Libya–Bring All of Our GIs Home Now!
Dimes at the New York Times
After this week, the Daily Labor News Digest we have maintained since Bill Clinton was President and Netscape was the browser of choice, will likely start sliding down a slippery slope. Over the past eleven years we have posted more links from the New York Times than any other commercial source. Soon there will be no more.
If you haven’t heard, the most prestigious of the U.S. boss media is now going to require paid subscriptions from those reading as few as 21 articles in a month. They are trying to work out the kinks in this system on our Canadian cousins this week. If they make this bold move profitable, it’s a safe bet that other major papers such as the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and the McClatchy chain will follow suit. The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times have long arbitrarily selected “premium content” for which you must pay but also still offer some useful “free” stuff.
Of course, the “free sites” have not been provided as a public service. Every time you access a page you trigger numerous ads, cookies, beacons, and who knows what else. These “ca-chings” add up to a tidy profit and free access was designed to build both volume of users and rates that could be charged advertisers. The Times hopes we’ll keep coming and now pay for the privilege of boosting ads.
Even if I personally ultimately bite the bullet and pay them, I will not post links that drive our readers in to the brave new world of digital subscriptions. If you can’t live without All the News That Enhances Revenue you’re on your own. If additional sources also demand a taste of our digital pie as well we’ll have to drastically modify the way we bring you news.
Friends Looking Out For Us–Better Look Out
As we were inspired by the big worker actions in state capitals over recent weeks skullduggery continued in Washington. I want to thank Sandy Eaton of the NNU for forwarding an article in The Hill I had not seen, Sixty-four senators call on Obama to take up tax and entitlement reform. Of course taxes on corporations will be cut. Entitlement “reform” means attacks on such vital programs as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Even though these are funded by dedicated payroll taxes, this super-majority of the Senate wants to follow up on the President’s debt reduction commission’s lie that they are a major cause of the Federal deficit. In case you’re curious about where your Senators stand here’s the list of signers:
Republicans signing the letter:
Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), John Barrasso (Wyo.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), John Boozman (Ark.), Scott Brown (Mass.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Dan Coats (Ind.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Bob Corker (Tenn.), John Cornyn (Texas), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) John Hoeven (N.D.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), Jim Inhofe (Okla.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Mike Lee (Utah), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio), James Risch (Idaho), Pat Roberts (Kan.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), John Thune (S.D.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.).
Members of the Democratic Caucus who signed the letter:
John Kerry (Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Joseph Lieberman (Conn.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Thomas Carper (Del.), Mark Udall (Colo.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Dianne Feinstein (Caif.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Christopher Coons (Del.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Al Franken (Minn.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Mark Warner (Va.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Tom Harkin (Iowa), Herb Kohl (Wis.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Jeff Bingaman (N.M.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Tom Udall (N.M.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio).
The bean counters for Globalization at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have weighed in as well as described in a New York Times article entitled, Report Urges Even Higher Global Retirement Ages. The OECD reports with alarm that life expectancy throughout the developed countries is rising faster than the increase in pension ages, by an average of two years for men and 1.5 years for women. They, like Obama’s Commission, see only one solution to this bad news of workers living longer without working–make them work closer to death. Of course, the USA already has a leg up on our competition. We currently rank number fifty among nations in life expectancy, not too far behind Puerto Rico and Bosnia.
¶ The Wall Street Journal reported on a Washington committee charged with deciding what health care services the state can afford to provide to 750,000 public employees, prisoners, and Medicaid recipients. Among those likely to be chopped are spinal injections for extreme chronic pain and monitoring diabetic kids’ glucose at home.
¶ According to the UN, world food prices went up 25 percent last year and are still rising sharply. If you do the grocery shopping you’ve noticed the same trend in the USA. Of course, there have been some natural causes such as drought, new pests, untimely freezes, etc contributing to this but that’s true on a global scale every year. Most agree that corn is the key culprit in the disappearance of cheap food. While we don’t eat all that much sweet corn field corn is the number one feed for livestock and a newly prosperous layer of the Chinese population is demanding a lot more beef. At the same time American government policy is mandating much more consumption of corn-based ethanol. Food-to-fuel means the days of cheap food have gone the way of secure good jobs.
¶ Soaring fuel as well as food prices sent real hourly wages of American workers sliding down ½ percent for the month of February.
¶ Japan has a population of about 127 million. They also have no fewer than one-million outdoor Coca-Cola vending machines that require both heat and refrigeration. While many factories have shut down to conserve electricity in the wake of the earthquake and meltdown of Fukushima reactors, Coke’s energy hogs are still plugged in, offering the pause that refreshes.
A couple of housekeeping notes. Some of our e-mail subscribers couldn’t get the PayPal “donate” button to work. Some ISP e-mail servers automatically disable such fund-raising links. If you go to the WIR posted on the kclabor.org site the link will work.
We also had two complaints about being unable to sign up for the e-mail list. That link maintained by I-Contact, was indeed broken. There’s now a sign-up link that goes directly to me.
There was certainly a lot more that happened over the past week worthy of comment. But since we try to keep these columns to manageable size we’ll say,
That’s all for this week.
Alliance for Class & Climate Justice
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