salon.com — Here’s a summary of the Western media discussion of what motivated U.S. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales to allegedly kill 16 Afghans, including 9 children: he was drunk, he was experiencing financial stress, he was passed over for a promotion, he had a traumatic brain injury, he had marital problems, he suffered from the stresses of four tours of duty, he “saw his buddy’s leg blown off the day before the massacre,” etc. Here’s a summary of the Western media discussion of what motivates Muslims to kill Americans: they are primitive, fanatically religious, hateful Terrorists. Even when Muslims who engage in such acts toward Americans clearly and repeatedly explain that they did it in response to American acts of domination, aggression, violence and civilian-killing in their countries, the only cognizable motive is one of primitive, hateful evil. It is an act of Evil Terrorism, and that is all there is to say about it.
truthdig.com — Here we go again. With the economy showing faint signs of life and their positions on the social issues alienating most moderates, the leading Republican candidates, with the exception of Ron Paul, have returned to the elixir of warmongering to once again sway the gullible masses. The race to the bottom has been set by Newt Gingrich, the most desperate of the lot, who on Tuesday charged that “The president wants to unilaterally weaken the United States,” because his administration has dared question the wisdom of Israel attacking Iran and proposes a slight reduction in the bloated defense budget. Let the good times roll with a beefed-up military budget justified by plans to invade yet another Muslim country.
tomdispatch.com — In the American mind, if Apple made weapons, they would undoubtedly be drones, those remotely piloted planes getting such great press here. They have generally been greeted as if they were the sleekest of iPhones armed with missiles. When the first American drone assassins burst onto the global stage, they caught most of us by surprise. Ever since, they've been touted in the media as the shiniest presents under the American Christmas tree of war. And can you blame Americans for their love affair with the drone? Who wouldn’t be wowed by the most technologically advanced, futuristic, no-pain-all-gain weapon around? Here’s the thing, though: put drones in a more familiar context, skip the awestruck commentary, and they should have been eerily familiar. If, for instance, they were car factories, they would seem so much less exotic to us.
Social Security Works spoke to several conservatives at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this past Friday, who were none too pleased to hear Mitt Romney he plans to cut Social Security and Medicare.
tomdispatch.com — Significant anniversaries are solemnly commemorated -- Japan’s attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, for example. Others are ignored, and we can often learn valuable lessons from them about what is likely to lie ahead. Right now, in fact. The Iraq war is an instructive case. It was marketed to a terrified public on the usual grounds of self-defense against an awesome threat to survival: the “single question” was whether Saddam Hussein would end his programs of developing weapons of mass destruction. When the single question received the wrong answer, government rhetoric shifted effortlessly to our “yearning for democracy,” and educated opinion duly followed course; all routine. Later, as the scale of the U.S. defeat in Iraq was becoming difficult to suppress, the government quietly conceded what had been clear all along.
Michele Bachmann's speech at CPAC 2012 wasn't quite the start turn that her appearance in 2011 — when Americas Bachmannia infection started spreading. I guess that's the difference between being a newly-announced presidential candidate and being a newly-dropped-out presidential candidate. (She was asked to leave. Twice. So, did she drop out or was she dismissed? A little from Column A, and a little from Column B?)
tomdispatch.com — Make no mistake: we’re entering a new world of military planning. Admittedly, the latest proposed Pentagon budget manages to preserve just about every costly toy-cum-boondoggle from the good old days when MiGs still roamed the skies, including an uncut nuclear arsenal. All this should reassure us that, despite the talk of massive cuts, the U.S. military will continue to be the profligate, inefficient, and remarkably ineffective institution we’ve come to know and squander our treasure on. Still, the cuts that matter are already in the works, the ones that will change the American way of war. They may mean little in monetary terms, but in imperial terms they will make a difference. A new way of preserving the embattled idea of an American planet is coming into focus and one thing is clear: in the name of Washington's needs, it will offer a direct challenge to national sovereignty.
thenation.com — The grades for the president's State of the Union are in and the critics have been kind. In fact, it's chilling to see just how few hits the president takes for couching his entire address in unqualified celebration of the U.S. military. Speaking of the troops, President Obama began: "At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations." The president chose to celebrate the U.S. military; the press chose not to raise a peep about the spread of US militarism. Yet U.S. targets proliferate—abroad—with unmanned drones assassinating un-convicted suspects in innumerable undeclared wars. And militarism spreads at home. The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act makes indefinite military detention without charge or trial a permanent feature of the American legal system. It's kind of the critics not to mention that—or the president's four-year-old pledge to close Guantánamo, and to restore the "rule of law."
In the GOP response to President Obama’s state of the union address, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels argued that Social Security should be means-tested, rather than asking the rich to pay their fair share of taxes to the program. While this proposal may sound innocuous, in fact, means testing would save Social Security little money, erode its fundamental character, and cost it political support.
huffingtonpost.com — I'm a runner, and before every race I write students' names on my jersey. "Because you keep me going," I tell them. As I attended President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night, I was not alone. I represented all of the teachers and support staff from across the country who are struggling with too few resources and too little support. This invitation was an honor, but my dedication to education is not exceptional or unique. Because, for all teachers, it is our students that keep us going. That commitment to quality public schools is even more important during these tough and uncertain economic times. Public schools and teachers need the basic resources necessary to effectively do their jobs. Our students deserve the best this country has to offer, and we all have a shared responsibility to make sure they receive it. However, too many politicians are balancing the budgets on the backs of students.