Periodic Posts

Posts made periodically by a particular author. The periodicity may be totally random.


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.
.
.
.
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?


Meet the Teen Who Discovered the Secret of Social Capital

Psychology Today has the article Meet the Teen Who Discovered the Secret of Social Capital.

Brainteaser: Two children are being bullied.
One child breaks down crying.
The other child kicks her tormenter in the shin.
Which one continues to be bullied?
Hint: it’s simpler than you think.*

The answer to this brainteaser is at the end of the article. I have read a few comments that some people were bothered by the question and the answer. I thought it was somewhat profound, myself. I wondered if the people who were bothered really got the point of the article. See what you think.

As an adult, I have known children who have suffered with this type of problem, and I have never found a satisfactory answer to give them. This article gives me some new avenues to think about.

The article also has a link to the TEDx Teen talk Natalie Hampton.



The Silencing of Dissent

Truthdig has the Chris Hedges article The Silencing of Dissent.

My show on RT America, “On Contact,” like my columns at Truthdig, amplifies the voices of these dissidents—Tariq Ali, Kshama Sawant, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Medea Benjamin, Ajamu Baraka, Noam Chomsky, Dr. Margaret Flowers, Rania Khalek, Amira Hass, Miko Peled, Abby Martin, Glen Ford, Max Blumenthal, Pam Africa, Linh Dinh, Ben Norton, Eugene Puryear, Allan Nairn, Jill Stein, Kevin Zeese and others. These dissidents, if we had a functioning public broadcasting system or a commercial press free of corporate control, would be included in the mainstream discourse. They are not bought and paid for. They have integrity, courage and often brilliance. They are honest. For these reasons, in the eyes of the corporate state, they are very dangerous.

I have started following Chris Hedges long before he was on RT. This is a real serious threat we are facing. The dissident voice had many outlets a couple of years ago, but almost all of them have been shut down. RT is almost the only outlet left. That is why almost all the dissidents have been forced to use RT as the only possible outlet.

The endless wars, fought largely to enrich the arms industry and swell the power of the military, are futile and counterproductive to national interests. Deindustrialization and austerity programs have impoverished the working class and fatally damaged the economy.

I am just hoping that because I earned mine before the economy was fatally damaged, I will be able to skate through as long as I am alive. I know that seems like the philosophy that Elizabeth Warren used to decry – “I’ve got mine, the rest of you are on your own.” The difference I claim is that on my blog and elsewhere, I am trying to help others who have not got theirs yet, but if the others refuse to help themselves, I have to at least protect myself and my immediate family.

This is a war of ideas. The corporate state cannot compete honestly in this contest. It will do what all despotic regimes do—govern through wholesale surveillance, lies, blacklists, false accusations of treason, heavy-handed censorship and, eventually, violence.

I noticed that lately I have come under attack for reminding people of historical facts that were news worthy only a few years ago. Not only have people forgotten, but they just don’t want to hear about it either.


Democratic Party ‘responsible for Trump’ – activist   Recently updated !

YouTube has the RT video Democratic Party ‘responsible for Trump’ – activist.

How will progressives make their voices heard in 2020? It may not be through the Democratic Party, after the fallout from the 2016 primary. Nick Brana, founder of Movement for a People’s Party, blames the DNC for President Donald Trump’s election. He tells RT they not only intentionally boosted Trump, but also abandoned the middle class.

View this video now before YouTube decides or is forced to take this down. Our current fearless leaders are afraid to touch the Second Amendment, but they are starting to attack the First Amendment. Because this interview took place on RT, they don’t think you are qualified to judge it yourself.


How to Fix the Democratic Party

Politico has the Bernie Sanders article How to Fix the Democratic Party.

Independent voters are critical to general election victories. Locking them out of primaries is a pathway to failure.

What was infuriating during the primaries was that so many Democrats thought that they could win with a candidate that Democratic Party insiders loved, but the general public hated. They didn’t seem to understand that in the general election, all people get to vote, not just Democrats as in the Democratic Primaries.