Today marks the 68th anniversary of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor

Obama the betrayer?

Chris Hedges, for one, does not believe the president a turncoat. :But always Hedges expected Obama to be what he has shown himself to be:

I am not disappointed in Obama. I don't feel betrayed. I don't wonder when he is going to be Obama. I did not vote for the man. I vote socialist, which in my case meant Ralph Nader, but could have meant Cynthia McKinney. How can an organization with the oxymoronic title Progressives for Obama even exist? Liberal groups like these make political satire obsolete. Obama was and is a brand. He is a product of the Chicago political machine. He has been skillfully packaged as the new face of the corporate state. I don't dislike Obama — I would much rather listen to him than his smug and venal predecessor — though I expected nothing but a continuation of the corporate rape of the country. And that is what he has delivered.

Hedges instead puts his pen to work on worthier targets:

I save my anger for our bankrupt liberal intelligentsia of which, sadly, I guess I am a member. Liberals are the defeated, self-absorbed Mouse Man in Dostoevsky's "Notes From Underground." They embrace cynicism, a cloak for their cowardice and impotence. They, like Dostoevsky's depraved character, have come to believe that the "conscious inertia" of the underground surpasses all other forms of existence. They too use inaction and empty moral posturing, not to affect change but to engage in an orgy of self-adulation and self-pity. They too refuse to act or engage with anyone not cowering in the underground. This choice does not satisfy the Mouse Man, as it does not satisfy our liberal class, but neither has the strength to change. The gravest danger we face as a nation is not from the far right, although it may well inherit power, but from a bankrupt liberal class that has lost the will to fight and the moral courage to stand up for what it espouses.

Anyone who says he or she cares about the working class in this country should have walked out on the Democratic Party in 1994 with the passage of NAFTA. And it has only been downhill since. If welfare reform, the 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act, which gutted the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act — designed to prevent the kind of banking crisis we are now undergoing — and the craven decision by the Democratic Congress to continue to fund and expand our imperial wars were not enough to make you revolt, how about the refusal to restore habeas corpus, end torture in our offshore penal colonies, abolish George W. Bush's secrecy laws or halt the warrantless wiretapping and monitoring of American citizens? The imperial projects and the corporate state have not altered under Obama. The state kills as ruthlessly and indiscriminately in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as it did under Bush. It steals from the U.S. treasury as rapaciously to enrich the corporate elite. It, too, bows before the conservative Israel lobby, refuses to enact serious environmental or health care reform, regulate Wall Street, end our relationship with private mercenary contractors or stop handing obscene sums of money, some $1 trillion a year, to the military and arms industry. At what point do we stop being a doormat? At what point do we fight back? We may lose if we step outside the mainstream, but at least we will salvage our self-esteem and integrity.

"If not now, when," a sage once asked.


Boy, those cell phones are handy…

Christopher Soghoian writes:

Sprint Nextel provided law enforcement agencies with its customers' (GPS) location information over 8 million times between September 2008 and October 2009. This massive disclosure of sensitive customer information was made possible due to the roll-out by Sprint of a new, special web portal for law enforcement officers.

I find this report neither surprising nor alarming. What I do find surprising and alarming is that surveillance of this sort does not surprise or alarm me. It is, according to my experience of the world, a normal feature of our shared everyday life. Will Americans ever feel abandoned when they learn that Big Brother no longer watches over them?

It’s about earning and spending

Michael Lind makes a commonsensical case for a massive federal effort to repair America's compromised and increasingly dangerous infrastructure, shore up its financially-strapped state and local governments, stimulate the crisis-laden economy and, last but not least, put people to work. He also warns his readers that this kind of effort is likely to produce another bout of Beltway foolishness — e.g. a good bit of rightwing identity politics (i.e. race- and class-baiting), programs designed to maximize the PR-value available to Congressmen and women and a knee-jerk rush to offer tax credits to capital. Lind instead argues that this federal effort should be massive and recurring investment in the country's institutions. How, according to Lind, would America pay for a program of this magnitude? A Value Added Tax!

Lind's proposal makes sense, of course. It surely is an appropriate response to one of the crises of the moment. But is it a feasible proposal? Can Washington act rationally?