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Monday: Rambling around

First of all: What Lambert Said.

Secondly, I found this story through an email message headlined, “Ayn Rand on the Public Dole” — which I think is a wildly dangerous joke (it doesn’t appear in the story.) Yes, we all know that Rand sneered at the very idea of a country feeling responsibility for it’s citizens. I’m sure she would have laughed her head off at the very idea of “It takes a village” … So what? The notion that people who are on Social Security are on the dole should stay as dead as she is.

Still, the irony is sweet:

Her books provided wide-ranging parables of “parasites,” “looters” and “moochers” using the levers of government to steal the fruits of her heroes’ labor. In the real world, however, Rand herself received Social Security payments and Medicare benefits under the name of Ann O’Connor (her husband was Frank O’Connor).

Cow Most Sacred: Why Military Spending Remains Untouchable

In defense circles, “cutting” the Pentagon budget has once again become a topic of conversation. Americans should not confuse that talk with reality. Any cuts exacted will at most reduce the rate of growth. The essential facts remain: U.S. military outlays today equal that of every other nation on the planet combined, a situation without precedent in modern history.

. . .

What are Americans getting for their money? Sadly, not much. Despite extraordinary expenditures (not to mention exertions and sacrifices by U.S. forces), the return on investment is, to be generous, unimpressive. The chief lesson to emerge from the battlefields of the post-9/11 era is this: the Pentagon possesses next to no ability to translate “military supremacy” into meaningful victory.

Lambert is live-blogging the live-stream Al Jazeera’s live stream — and their blog. He’s on his 4th post now. It’s a good way to catch up on what’s going on in Egypt if you can’t be tied to your own PC.

This post at Naked Capitalism discusses the looting and government thugs.

Guest Post: Is the Egyptian Government Using Agents Provocateur to Justify a Crack Down On the Protesters?

Al Jazeera reported today:

[Al Jazeera reporter] Ayman Mohyeldin reports that eyewitnesses have said “party thugs” associated with the Egyptian regime’s Central Security Services – in plainclothes but bearing government-issued weapons – have been looting in Cairo. Ayman says the reports started off as isolated accounts but are now growing in number.

The Telegraph reports:

“Thugs” going around on motorcycles looting shops and houses, according to Al Jazeera. They say they are getting more and more reports of looting. More worryingly, one group of looters who were captured by citizens in the upmarket Cairo district of Heliopolis turned out to have ID cards identifying them as members of the regime security forces.

There’s much more — many links and a historical discussion of the practice.

Medicare for Everyone — That’s how I’d do it. Without universal health care for everyone, ideas like this are a complete waste of time:

White House to launch job-creating start-up effort

Senior officials are to launch a national campaign called “Startup America,” which will encourage private sector investment in startups and small firms, accelerate research and address barriers to success for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Officials are to announce that President Barack Obama will propose making permanent the elimination of capital gains taxes on key investments in small businesses, a White House official said.

Oh, and by all means, keep lowering those pesky business taxes.

26 Responses

  1. Crap, I think I’m gonna have to start reading Atrios again:


    The best next step is a 150,000 person US occupation of Egypt so we can write their constitution, figure out who their interim leader should be, and then spend 10 years training security forces.

    Also mercenaries. Lots and lots of mercenaries.

  2. On Pentagon spending, the fact is that no politician is willing to annoy the military.

  3. course not..they got guns ;lol;

  4. Thanks especially for the link on the Egyptian live blog. A few takeaways:

    First, the roots of the E unrest are that for thirty years all the fruits of economic growth have been creamed off by a small neo-liberal kleptocratic elite, and everybody else has been flattened and ground down. Sound familiar?

    Second, for those of you who remember what network news used to be, Al Jazeera English should bring tears of joy to your eyes. There’s a reason why the cable weasels don’t want AJ in this country. (Of course, media critique applies to AJ as much as any other source, but there’s no detectable Islamist bias that I can see. They have talking heads from the Brookings Institute, for example; just Brookings Doha.) It’s just a joy to watch a real news gathering organization, with real anchors, and real bureaus, all at the top of their game, and covering the story of a lifetime. It goes to show so much of what has been taken from us in this country).

    Finally, there are persistent reports from the street that the “looters” are in fact Mubarak’s hated police, sowing disorder and creating fear; a well-known authoritarian technique. There are reports that some of have been captured and had police IDs on them. So treat reports of chaos with some contextualization.

    The courage and above all the maturity of the Egyptian people is very inspiring.

  5. Via Violet Socks Statues of Tutankhamun damaged/stolen from the Egyptian Museum.

    I’m with the first commenter on that site “One can only grieve”.

    • Most of the comments on there are very disgusting. How do these people value artifacts more than human lives? They are very entitled and arrogant. Some are calling for the criminals to be killed. True the artifacts are a big part of history but they are still objects.

      • What does destruction of a national heritage have to do with human lives? It is despicable that lawless opportunists attack a nation’s historical heritage during a time of upheaval.

        • There is more concern for objects than people in those comments. They act like this is something new. Never happened during Western unrests.
          Comments about how it is good that looters never returned the stolen artifacts that are now in foreign hands. People should have been there protecting ancient objects than protecting their own homes. I won’t make excuses for their arrogance.

      • When I posted the link I had only read the very first comment at the site, and “One can only grieve” exactly captured my sentiment.

        Then I went back to see what you were referring to, and to me the commenters seem to be very upset and saddened by the destruction of irreplaceable ancient artifacts. I don’t see “disgusting”, “value artifacts more than human lives” or “very entitled and arrogant” comments.

        Maybe, as does happen when blogging – to most of us at one point or other – we see what we expect to see, whether it’s there or not?

  6. Off topic: I haven’t stalked off in a huff for any reason. I just feel the need for a break from politics. I may be back tomorrow, or I may not come back for a month.

    May Haruhi bless you all. Ciao for nao. :mrgreen:

  7. Senior officials are to launch a national campaign called “Startup America,” which will encourage private sector investment in startups and small firms, accelerate research and address barriers to success for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

    the biggest barrier to success for entrepreneurs and small business being the lack of single payer healthcare…..
    I wonder if we could send the president a telegram?

    • How about a clue-by-four?

      • As Violet says:

        Forgive me for not being too enthused about the Fraternity of Godbags that’s currently dominating the opposition in Egypt. I’m sorry; “Muslim Brotherhood.”* They’re fairly moderate as far as Islamist organizations go, but still. The last thing women need is more fundamentalist godbags.

        *“A Christian Copt or a woman cannot be president of a Muslim nation,” said Shosha, a broad-shouldered man, who sat in the Brotherhood’s headquarters in Cairo watching the protests on TV. “This is a religious point, not a political one. But it will be the Muslim leader’s role to protect the rights of Copts and women.”
        Oh goody!


        why is it that leftist men and those who fall for their BS, don’t seem to get this?
        this may not be the orange revolution in the Ukraine where the people said they didn’t want a president tied to the old soviet union and got the leader they wanted. That was truly inspiring, though upsetting lo the far left which wanted a closet communist rather than a moderate to conservative Ukrainian to prevail.
        This may be an opening for the Muslim Brotherhood, which may be okay with the pseudo leftist dilettantes on the internet, but not with me.

        • I don’t think this is a good thing.

          I believe we have the same “policy” here in the US where the president has to be a Christian Male – they just don’t come out and say it.

          I hope it changes soon.

          • Agree.

          • it’s not so much that we have the same policy as we don’t have a lot of peopled willing to buck the party when they chose one more Christian white guy (to me Obama fits the category only he has darker skin) over the choice of the people. It’s easy to do when you call people racist or like my brother in law said to me, “you only supported Hillary because you have been disappointed by men”. LOL

            When we were disenfranchised what did we do other than bitch and moan on the internet?

            We have very different rules here, though I know it is fun to pretend otherwise sometimes.

      • ooops, meant to say that a “clue by four” might get us a year in Guantanamo.

        the other comment about the Muslim brotherhood was supposed to be independent in the comments sections.

    • Te lack of paying customers is kind of a downer you might want to think about before health care.

      • People don’t have money for healthcare or stuff. Even if you have managed to hold a job during the Great Recession, most people I know are concentrating on paying cash for things because of the uncertainty and sticking to must-have items.

        Businesses are still announcing job cuts.

        I have a good friend who is self-employed but didn’t have health insurance. He had a serious medical problem that has now put him out of work and in debt with medical bills. I really don’t know why he took the risk to not be covered (maybe a single policy isn’t that easy to get when you don’t have employees?) and I don’t have the heart to ask now.

  8. That piece of hypocrisy and downright deception figures in Ayn Rand’s pathology. Where do you get off thinking you own someone’s sexual fervor? Then for her pure capitalism it is necessary that you accept as a premise that man acts in his own self interest. Then to get back at Nathaniel she brings down the Objectivist empire he built for her, not with her. It was a fantastic money maker and she leveled it. In her own self interest? Like the self interest of the Wall Street looters?

    But she would never have advocated bailing them out with govt money. Never.

    But she did go to Alan Greenspan’s swearing in ceremony as he entered the Federal Reserve.

    Then Greenspan said he couldn’t find the flaw. He assumed these people would act in their own self interest and not destroy their companies. When Rand did the same as they.

    And someone this blind was the brains behind the money of the entire world. Scary.

    • Her and Francisco D’Anconia? Or her and Howard Roark?

    • Ayn Rand’s work had serious flaws.

      She worshiped the left half of the brain but ignored the right half. She ignores the free rider problem and does not understand that regulation helps responsible companies by reining in companies which are not responsible and would otherwise have a cost advantage.

      She did not understand how cigarettes caused cancer and was in denial so she kept smoking after her doctors told her to stop — until she had lung cancer.

      And her personal life did become quite the mess. Barbara Branden’s book The Passion of Ayn Rand is excellent. Ms. Branden was a protege of Ms. Rand and the wife Ms. Rand selected for Nathaniel Branden, before all that situation came undone.


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