SteveG


Capitalism: Not With a Bang But With a (Prolonged) Whimper

Naked Capitalism has the article Capitalism: Not With a Bang But With a (Prolonged) Whimper.

“How will capitalism end?” is the title of a brilliant book by the German thinker Wolfgang Streeck. (Verso, London 2016, published in India by Juggernaut Books.) It provides a cogent and persuasive critique of the nature of contemporary capitalism, and describes its ongoing extended demise, without surrendering to any optimism that as it fails to deliver even in terms of its own logic, all the nastiness and injustice it has generated must inevitably change for the better.

I don’t believe it is quite as dire as the book’s author and the article’s author think it is. It is normal for us not to be able to predict the future. If we can’t see the solution now, it is a failure of our imagination. It is not proof that there can be no solution. Some of us, particularly science fiction writers, can imagine a better future. We just don’t know exactly how we will get to that better future. Admittedly, the path to that future may not be smooth and painless.


Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media   Recently updated !

The Guardian published the article Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media with a dateline of Thursday 17 March 2011 09.19 EDT.

Military’s ‘sock puppet’ software creates fake online identities to spread pro-American propaganda.

This article is over six years old. Remarkably, this indicates that the USA was developing a capability that they now disingenuously accuse Russia of using. One way to figure out what to accuse your enemy of doing is to pick the worst thing you have done yourself and accuse the enemy of doing it.

I can only imagine that our government has developed techniques of countering this type of weapon. Their only stumbling block is to convince the USA citizens that in this one tiny little aspect, we need to put constraints on the freedom of our press. They are evidently working at this countermeasure, and succeeding.


The Democrats Confront Monopoly   Recently updated !

The Washington Monthly has the article The Democrats Confront Monopoly.

Taking on corporate concentration has gone from a fringe idea to a key plank of the party’s strategy. Here’s how that happened—and why it matters.

I have been saying for years that the recent failure to aggressively enforce the anti-trust laws was leading to a lot of our economic and societal ills. I never did understand all the forces that led to this abandonment of the policy that had done so much for the world.

This article explains the academic forces that were arrayed against anti-trust to drive it from the field of economics and thus law and politics.

As I was reading the article, I was waiting for some hint that the Democratic Party was serious about this. Toward the end of the article I was getting bored and tried to skim through to the punchline. I don’t think there is a punchline.

The Democratic Party, as now constituted, will never truly face the issue. Their donors won’t allow it. Senator Elizabeth Warren has shown her true colors by willingly trying to sell us Hillary Clinton, when Warren knew that Clinton was nothing like what Warren was trying to sell us.

It’s a lot to ask of a political candidate, in the midst of a campaign, to simultaneously run on an issue and teach voters what it is.

The above belief was the weakness of the Clinton campaign and most other Democratic candidate campaigns. Not believing this was the strength of Bernie Sanders’ campaign. A weak politician tries for what is politically possible in the current political climate. A strong leader knows that it is her or his job to change the current political climate.

The counter to the Bork argument that monopoly or oligopoly is good for the economy is the failure to understand how monopolies work. Monopoly wannabes may lower prices to drive their competition out of business, but when that job is done, the prices go way up.

The way Amazon and Walmart got to be so powerful was that for years their investors subsidized the low prices so that they could get to the promised land of monopoly. Now Amazon is going after the grocery market via Whole Foods’ drastic price cuts.


Climate Change and Water Woes Drove ISIS Recruiting in Iraq   Recently updated !

National Geographic has the story Climate Change and Water Woes Drove ISIS Recruiting in Iraq.

Across rural Iraq and Syria, farmers, officials, and village elders tell similar stories of desperate farmhands swapping backhoes for assault rifles. Already battered by decades of shoddy environmental policies, which had hobbled agriculture and impoverished its dependents, these men were in no state to navigate the extra challenges of climate change. And so when ISIS came along, propelled in large part by sectarian grievances and religious fanaticism, many of the most environmentally damaged Sunni Arab villages quickly emerged as some of the deep-pocketed jihadists’ foremost recruiting grounds.

Not only is this a lesson in how we should change our policy in the middle-east, but it is a lesson for policy in our own country. Perhaps one of the few things missing for repeating the depression of the 1930s is the dust bowl that affected farmers so severely. Ignoring climate change could be the final step in repeating our depression history.

There are so many lessons in this article besides the ones mentioned above. There is also the story of the cost of doing additional direct environmental damage over and above climate change. Indiscriminately damming rivers and spilling oil from pipelines come to mind.


The Democrats Used to Love Russian Oligarchs

Truthdig has the article The Democrats Used to Love Russian Oligarchs.

The Democrats were there at the birth of the Russian mafia-oligarchy, clucking and cooing like godmothers. Bill Clinton and platoons of Wall Street advisors guided the dissolution of the Russian state and redistribution of public assets among the new class of gangster-owners. They openly backed the drunken quisling Boris Yeltsin for president in 1996, and were assured by the nouveau gangster capitalist class of continued subservience to Washington. To this day, the U.S. government (and the New York Times) treats fallen Russian oligarchs like political prisoners, and exiled mafia as allies, and has installed an oligarch-run regime in Ukraine. They hate Putin because he “tamed” the most unpatriotic elements of Russian oligarchy, and put his country on an independent international path.

This is the part of adopting some capitalism by Russia and China that I find the saddest. If they had to recognize the value of some capitalism in their economic systems, why did they have to include the adoption of the worst parts of capitalism?

Yes, Putin’s worst crime as far as the Clintons are concerned may be his trying to reign in these new Russian oligarchs. I am not saying that Putin is perfect, but I did understand the logic of trying to undo what some of these Russian oligarchs did.

Hence, another reason to dislike the Clintons for favoring oligarchs all over the world instead of the regular people of the world.


Registering the Cable Channel RT as a Foreign Agent Is a Threat to Press Freedom

The Nation has the article Registering the Cable Channel RT as a Foreign Agent Is a Threat to Press Freedom.

Still worse, branding RT’s news coverage as merely “Russian disinformation” will only further crowd out dissenting views and circumscribe the robust debate we desperately need, making proponents of alternative views even more fearful and self-censoring.
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In this context, the closing lines of George F. Kennan’s famed “Long Telegram” remain perhaps more relevant than ever. At the very start of the first Cold War, Kennan urged Americans to “have [the] courage and self-confidence to cling to our own methods and conceptions of human society…. the greatest danger that can befall us in coping with this problem of Soviet communism, is that we shall allow ourselves to become like those with whom we are coping.”

It is nice to see that I am not the only one that has grave concerns about how we are treating our First Amendment rights to free speech and independence of the press.


Norman Solomon and Paul Jay discuss the Struggle in the Democratic Party

The Real News Network has the interview Norman Solomon and Paul Jay discuss the Struggle in the Democratic Party.

We’re down in the hole, we do not have a lever to pull that can move the Democratic Party in a progressive direction, and yet there’s tremendous organizing going on.


Norman Soloman is still holding on to the crackpot reality he decries. Toward the end of the first part he explains why it is a waste of time to form a third party. However, for most of the hour he makes a darn good case that the Democratic Party cannot be rescued. (See the quote above that I have taken from the interview.)


Russia was told about North Korean plans to launch nuclear strike against the US

The Duran has the story BREAKING: Russia was told about North Korean plans to launch nuclear strike against the US.

3. The most recent major weapons test in North Korea came on 15 September of this year, when North Korea tested a ballistic missile. Since then, there have been no missile tests or nuclear tests. It is entirely possible, given this new information that Russia has used its diplomatic channels to de-escalate the situation unilaterally as the US refuses to engage directly with Pyongyang and China’s relations with the DPRK are incredibly strained at this time.

If the DNC has its way, we can generate enough Russia hysteria, that Russia will no longer feel inclined to save our bacon. Who wins if the DNC succeeds?