Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for November 15th, 2016

Turns out that deregulating airlines and relying on competition didn’t work: United Airlines takes a new step to make air travel more unpleasant and more expensive

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Michael Hiltzik reports in the LA Times:

Airlines are even better than banks at squeezing customers with higher fees and lousier service while claiming it’s in the interest of “serving you better.”

But United Airlines may have retired the trophy with an announcement Tuesday of a new fare, baggage and seating policy, which it says is aimed at becoming the “best airline for employees, customers, and investors.”

Don’t be fooled by the order in which those stakeholders are listed. The investors are the people who count; employees and — especially — customers are going to become collateral damage.

United’s initiative is part of a financial strategy that includes deferring the purchase of as many as 61 new aircraft, all aimed at adding $4.8 billion a year to its bottom line.

The fare restrictions are sure to grab the most attention. Here’s how Julia Haywood, United’s chief commercial officer, described this breakthrough in customer relations: “United’s customers have told us that they want more choice and Basic Economy delivers just that. By offering low fares while also offering the experience of traveling on our outstanding network, with a variety of onboard amenities and great customer service, we are giving our customers an additional travel option from what United offers today.”

Make no mistake: Unless United offers a significant discount for the basic economy fare, this is a price increase. The new fare will become the benchmark, and today’s economy fare is almost certainly destined to rise. Basic economy passengers with suitcases will have no choice but to check them, at a fee of $25 (for the first checked bag). Does anyone doubt that the airline, thirsting for more revenue, eventually will jack that fee higher? Back in 2014, United shrank the permissible dimensions of carry-ons, but there’s plenty of room to shrink them further. So even if the new fare is discounted, United will take back the savings via baggage fees.

Add the indignity and inconvenience of not choosing a seat in advance. United says basic economy passengers traveling as a group will have to acknowledge at the moment of purchase that they have no right to be seated together.

United is touting its new fare with all the transparent flapdoodle available to corporations with big PR staffs. It asserts that its new system “provides the added benefit for customers and employees of simplifying the boarding process, as fewer customers will bring overhead bags on board.”

What should concern air travelers is . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

15 November 2016 at 7:50 pm

OMG:Kansas’ Kris Kobach, immigration hardliner, could be Trump’s attorney general

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Kris Kobach as the US Attorney General? This country is going to be unrecognizable. And he’s a big believer in voter fraud (aka voter suppression), as well. And note this from the McClatchy story:

He tried unsuccessfully to force a Democratic candidate for Senate to remain on the ballot in 2014 after he submitted his letter of withdrawal, a move that some political observers saw as intended to help incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts against an independent challenger.

His office faces a still-pending federal lawsuit from a former employee who alleges she was fired for refusing to attend a prayer service, an allegation Kobach calls ridiculous.

Written by Leisureguy

15 November 2016 at 5:45 pm

Biggest Spike in Traffic Deaths in 50 Years? Blame Apps

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One hopes the apps are worth their cost in human lives. Here’s the repport.

Written by Leisureguy

15 November 2016 at 5:40 pm

Wow! Rudy Giuliani is a perfect exemplar of whom you do NOT want as Secretary of State!

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Just read this column by Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post. Do read the whole thing. It concludes:

. . . Russert marched Giuliani through the list of shady characters with whom he and/or his law firm had done business — Hugo Chávez, a “Las Vegas developer that you worked with who had a close partnership with Hong Kong billionaire who was close to Kim Jong Il,” etc. (My colleague Josh Rogin also details Giuliani’s ties to “the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), a Marxist Iranian opposition group that claims to be the legitimate government of Iran and resembles a cult” — and which was classified as a terrorist group.

Perhaps Giuliani, who famously recommended Bernie Kerik for homeland security (Kerik never made it and instead was convicted for corruption) and was ensnared in allegations about misuse of public money (when he was having an affair with his then-mistress, now current wife), makes it through the nomination process. Republicans seem all too ready to roll over for the new administration. But isn’t Giuliani precisely the sort of character Trump and Bannon would rail against? Isn’t he the model for the American operator who would get rich from dealings with America’s foes?

Add in the crew of advisers who’ve made money off of Russian ties (e.g. Mike Flynn), and you begin to see a pattern among Trump and his closest advisers: While they dabble in conspiracy theories, give comfort to the alt-right and cozy up to the national-front parties in Europe (which are invariably pro-Vladimir Putin), their own portfolios are rife with shady connections and their views run counter to long-standing American interests. Maybe Hillary Clinton should have run against all that.

Written by Leisureguy

15 November 2016 at 4:55 pm

This will be interesting: Race for Next DNC Chair Is Between America’s First Muslim Congressman and Two Corporate Lobbyists

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Zaid Jilani writes in The Intercept:

The Democratic trouncing last week has set off a contest for control of the party. So far, three individuals have stepped up to announce their bids for chair of the Democratic National Committee, vying to replace interim chair Donna Brazile. It’s a race that pits a left-wing member of Congress against two corporate lobbyists.

First, there’s Minnesota Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim-American ever elected to Congress. Ellison has long been an advocate for his party’s left faction, and is currently a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

In announcing his bid for DNC chair, Ellison emphasized the need for the party to adopt a full-time organizing approach and build a multiracial coalition.

“It is not enough for Democrats to ask for voters’ support every two years. We must be with them through every lost paycheck, every tuition hike, and every time they are the victim of a hate crime,” he said in his announcing statement. “When voters know what Democrats stand for, we can improve the lives of all Americans, no matter their race, religion or sexual orientation. To do that, we must begin the rebuilding process now.”

Two other individuals have thrown their hats into the ring, and both have deep ties to Washington’s lobbying industry. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

15 November 2016 at 4:38 pm

Posted in Democrats, Politics

This List of Fake News Websites Proliferating on Facebook Is Staggering

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Facebook must face up to its media responsibilities. Here’s what’s happening.

Written by Leisureguy

15 November 2016 at 4:02 pm

Texas wants to force women to bury their miscarriages and abortions

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Not a war on women at all. Just a war whose victims happen to be women. Story here.

If these guys really do want small government, I have an idea where they could start.

Written by Leisureguy

15 November 2016 at 4:00 pm

The F-35 Stealth Fighter Is Politically Unstoppable—Even Under President Trump

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I expect we’ll see a lot of reversals such as this one on the F-35: things are going to look a lot more complex to President Trump than they did to GOP Nominee Trump, and of course he’s now responsible for making things work, especially since he also has a GOP Congress (both houses). According to all we were promised, things should now really start to hum. Let’s see: privatize Social Security, kill Obamacare, gut Medicare, deregulate banks and businesses so they can do as they please, . . . It will be interesting times.

Written by Leisureguy

15 November 2016 at 3:48 pm

Maybe we’re heading toward a modern 1177 BCE?

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If you have time, this video (which I blogged a day or two ago) is well worth watching: it’s about what collapsed at the end of the Late Bronze Age and why. As he points out, there are some interesting similarities to our own time.

James Fallows points out how the nature of daily life in China is changing the challenges our China policy (now in the able hands of Rudy Giuliani (Secretary of State designate) and Donald Trump:

What if china is going bad? Since early last year I have been asking people inside and outside China versions of this question. By “bad” I don’t mean morally. Moral and ethical factors obviously matter in foreign policy, but I’m talking about something different.

Nor is the question mainly about economics, although for China the short-term stability and long-term improvement of jobs, wages, and living standards are fundamental to the government’s survival. Under China’s single-party Communist arrangement, sustained economic failure would naturally raise questions about the system as a whole, as it did in the Soviet Union. True, modern China’s economic performance even during its slowdowns is like the Soviet Union’s during its booms. But the absence of a political outlet for dissatisfaction is similar.

Instead the question is whether something basic has changed in the direction of China’s evolution, and whether the United States needs to reconsider its China policy. For the more than 40 years since the historic Nixon-Mao meetings of the early 1970s, that policy has been surprisingly stable. From one administration to the next, it has been built on these same elements: ever greater engagement with China; steady encouragement of its modernization and growth; forthright disagreement where the two countries’ economic interests or political values clash; and a calculation that Cold War–style hostility would be far more damaging than the difficult, imperfect partnership the two countries have maintained.

That policy survived its greatest strain, the brutal Tiananmen Square crackdown of 1989. It survived China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001 and the enormous increase in China’s trade surpluses with the United States and everywhere else thereafter. It survived the U.S. bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999 (an act assumed to be intentional by every Chinese person I’ve ever discussed it with), periodic presidential decisions to sell arms to Taiwan or meet with the Dalai Lama, and clashes over censorship and human rights.

The eight presidents who have managed U.S. dealings with modern China, Nixon through Obama, have essentially drawn from the same playbook. The situation could be different for the ninth. The China of 2016 is much more controlled and repressive than the China of five years ago, or even 10. I was living there at both of those earlier times—in Shanghai in 2006 and in Beijing five years later—and have seen the change firsthand. Given the chaotic contradictions of modern China, what any one person sees can be an exception. What strikes me is the consistency of evidence showing a country that is cracking down, closing up, and lashing out in ways different from its course in the previous 30-plus years.

The next president, then, will face that great cliché, a challenge that is also an opportunity. The challenge is several years of discouraging developments out of China: internal repression, external truculence, a seeming indifference to the partnership part of the U.S.-China relationship. The opportunity is to set out the terms of a new relationship at the very moment when it is most likely to command China’s attention: at the start of a new administration.

You can tell which issues a new administration takes seriously and considers crucial to its political and substantive success. The president gives a major policy speech; big thinkers write essays; Cabinet departments roll out implementation plans; budget decisions follow. That’s the kind of effort I hope to see early next year. I can report that across the world of China scholars and policy veterans, people are already thinking hard about what should be in such a speech.

Dealing with China is inescapable. It is becoming more difficult, and might get harder still.

Why does china need to be high on the new president’s priority list? Because an important assumption has changed.

In both word and deed, U.S. presidents from Nixon onward have emphasized support for China’s continued economic emergence, on the theory that a getting-richer China is better for all concerned than a staying-poor one, even if this means that the center of the world economy will move toward China. In one of his conversations with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, Barack Obama said, “I’ve been very explicit in saying that we have more to fear from a weakened, threatened China than a successful, rising China.”

Underlying this strategic assessment was an assumption about the likely direction of China’s development. This was not the simplistic faith that if China became richer, it would turn into a liberal democracy. No one knows whether or when that might occur—or whether China will in fact keep prospering. Instead the assumption was that year by year, . . .

Continue reading.

China’s changing, the US is changing, the EU seems to be changing… indeed, there seems to be a general movement in an authoritarian direction.

Written by Leisureguy

15 November 2016 at 3:10 pm

I just learned of Space Ghost Coast to Coast: Terrific

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Take a look.

Written by Leisureguy

15 November 2016 at 2:52 pm

Posted in Movies & TV

With Trump, when you fall everything you’ve touched falls as well: Chris Christie edition

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Brendan Gautier writes in Salon:

President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team said adios to former Michigan congressman Mike Rogers on Tuesday, according to Bloomberg.

And with him left years of national security experience: Rogers spent four years as the chairman of the House intelligence committee, five years as a special agent for the FBI and is a CNN’s national security commentator.

“Rogers’ abrupt departure came at the request of team officials, said two people familiar with the matter,” Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs reported, noting that Rogers was appointed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie “to help guide the new administration on national security issues.”

In a statement issued on Tuesday Rogers wrote, “These past six months, it has been an honor to serve as National Security Senior Advisor to the Trump transition team,” He added, “Our work will provide a strong foundation for the new transition team leadership as they move into the post-election phase, which naturally is incorporating the campaign team in New York who drove President-elect Trump to an incredible victory last Tuesday.”

Christie formerly led Trump’s transition team before Vice President-elect Mike Pence took over the role last week. Christie is now a co-vice chairman along with former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn. The transition team’s new leadership axed Christie’s former chief of staff Richard Bagger, who had been helping manage the 16-member committee, and former Christie law partner William Palatucci, who served as the committee’s general counsel. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

15 November 2016 at 1:43 pm

The price for opposing Dear Leader: David French reports

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David French reports in the National Review (quite conservative):

I distinctly remember the first time I saw a picture of my then-seven-year-old daughter’s face in a gas chamber. It was the evening of September 17, 2015. I had just posted a short item to the Corner calling out notorious Trump ally Ann Coulter for aping the white-nationalist language and rhetoric of the so-called alt-right. Within minutes, the tweets came flooding in. My youngest daughter is African American, adopted from Ethiopia, and in alt-right circles that’s an unforgivable sin. It’s called “race-cucking” or “raising the enemy.”

I saw images of my daughter’s face in gas chambers, with a smiling Trump in a Nazi uniform preparing to press a button and kill her. I saw her face photo-shopped into images of slaves. She was called a “niglet” and a “dindu.” The alt-right unleashed on my wife, Nancy, claiming that she had slept with black men while I was deployed to Iraq, and that I loved to watch while she had sex with “black bucks.” People sent her pornographic images of black men having sex with white women, with someone photoshopped to look like me, watching.

When we both publicized some of the racist attacks — I in National Review and Nancy in the Washington Post — things took a far more ominous turn. Late the next evening — while Nancy was, fortunately, offline attending a veterans’ charity event in D.C. — the darker quarters of the alt-right found her Patheos blog. Several different accounts began posting images and GIFs of extreme violence in her comments section.

Click on a post and scroll down and you’ll see pictures of black men shooting other black men, close-up images of suicides, GIFs of grisly executions — the kinds of psyche-scarring things that one can’t “unsee.” Had I not deployed to Iraq and witnessed death up close, the images would have shocked me. I quickly got on the phone with Nancy, told her not to look at her website, and got busy deleting comments and blocking IP addresses, but in the meantime a few friends and neighbors had seen the posts.

The next Sunday, friends from church approached, expressing concern not just for our safety but for theirs as well. We live in a community where most of the streets have similar names, and it’s common for UPS drivers, FedEx deliveries, and friends to end up at the wrong house. They interpreted the images as threats, and they didn’t want anyone to drive into our neighborhood, looking for the Frenches, intent on turning image into reality. . .

Continue reading.

And do read the whole thing: it gets worse for French and it turns out to be widespread.

We’ve seen this pattern of behavior before. I’m trying to recall. The wealthy put a raving nationalistic populist in power to quiet the rabble, but he turned out to have power with rabble. The wealthy thought, “Control him, and you control the rabble.” But then he turned out to be difficult to control and he seized power…  it will come to me in a minute. But you do see the similarities, right?

See also this post: “Steve Bannon Is Not a Nazi—But Let’s Be Honest about What He Represents.” And he is adviser to Trump.

Written by Leisureguy

15 November 2016 at 1:22 pm

Here’s How Facebook Got Worked

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Kevin Drum gives an example of why concentration of monopoly power is bad. In this case, controlling one company’s behavior (Facebook’s) controls what millions and millions see.

There are lots of wingnut sites that traffic in conspiracy theories and urban myths. But that’s not all. There are also fake news sites, deliberately crafted to look real and fool people into believing outrageous stories. The most infamous at the moment is the Denver Guardian, which peddled a fake story written in pseudo-AP style about an FBI agent involved in investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails who was found murdered. Sites like Google and Facebook should work harder to eliminate junk like this from their search results and news feeds, and in Facebook’s case it turns out they have a pretty good idea of how to do it. But Gizmodo reports that they were afraid to pull the trigger: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

15 November 2016 at 1:07 pm

An abrupt reversal by the GOP on lawsuits against sitting presidents

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Against Bill Clinton, sure. Against Donald Trump—well, no, because he’s a Republican.

The actual reason offered—see this post by Kevin Drum—is that being President doesn’t allow time for lawsuits: hold them until he’s out of office. But that was true of Bill Clinton, and the GOP decided then that the reason offered now was no good. If it was no good then, it’s still no good. Just because the President is of a different party doesn’t change the argument. Or shouldn’t, though for the GOP it obviously does.

Some Trump supporters (Rudy Giuliani, for example) are quite vocal about their support for the law and law enforcement. Thanks to the GOP, the law, according to the court’s decision, is that lawsuits against a sitting President proceed. And they did. And so they should now.

As Kevin says, everyone knew Trump was embroiled in lawsuits: that was part of the package. Live with it.

Written by Leisureguy

15 November 2016 at 1:00 pm

How the Democrats killed their populist soul

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Tbone in a comment pointed out this superb article by Matt Stoller in the Atlantic. It should be required reading for all Democrats.

It was January 1975, and the Watergate Babies had arrived in Washington looking for blood. The Watergate Babies—as the recently elected Democratic congressmen were known—were young, idealistic liberals who had been swept into office on a promise to clean up government, end the war in Vietnam, and rid the nation’s capital of the kind of corruption and dirty politics the Nixon White House had wrought. Richard Nixon himself had resigned just a few months earlier in August. But the Watergate Babies didn’t just campaign against Nixon; they took on the Democratic establishment, too. Newly elected Representative George Miller of California, then just 29 years old, announced, “We came here to take the Bastille.”

One of their first targets was an old man from Texarkana: a former cotton tenant farmer named Wright Patman who had served in Congress since 1929. He was also the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Banking and Currency and had been for more than a decade. Antiwar liberal reformers realized that the key to power in Congress was through the committee system; being the chairman of a powerful committee meant having control over the flow of legislation. The problem was: Chairmen were selected based on their length of service. So liberal reformers already in office, buttressed by the Watergate Babies’ votes, demanded that the committee chairmen be picked by a full Democratic-caucus vote instead.

Ironically, as chairman of the Banking Committee, Patman had been the first Democrat to investigate the Watergate scandal. But he was vulnerable to the new crowd he had helped usher in. He was old; they were young. He had supported segregation in the past and the war in Vietnam; they were vehemently against both. Patman had never gone to college and had been a crusading economic populist during the Great Depression; the Watergate Babies were weaned on campus politics, television, and affluence.

What’s more, the new members were antiwar, not necessarily anti-bank. “Our generation did not know the Depression,” then-Representative Paul Tsongas said. “The populism of the 1930s doesn’t really apply to the 1970s,” argued Pete Stark, a California member who launched his political career by affixing a giant peace sign onto the roof of the bank he owned.

In reality, while the Watergate Babies provided the numbers needed to eject him, it was actually Patman’s Banking Committee colleagues who orchestrated his ouster. For more than a decade, Patman had represented a Democratic political tradition stretching back to Thomas Jefferson, an alliance of the agrarian South and the West against Northeastern capital. For decades, Patman had sought to hold financial power in check, investigating corporate monopolies, high interest rates, the Federal Reserve, and big banks. And the banking allies on the committee had had enough of Patman’s hostility to Wall Street.

Over the years, Patman had upset these members by blocking bank mergers and going after financial power. As famed muckraking columnist Drew Pearson put it: Patman “committed one cardinal sin as chairman. … He wants to investigate the big bankers.” And so, it was the older bank allies who truly ensured that Patman would go down. In 1975, these bank-friendly Democrats spread the rumor that Patman was an autocratic chairman biased against junior congressmen. To new members eager to participate in policymaking, this was a searing indictment.

The campaign to oust Patman was brief and savage. Michigan’s Bob Carr, a member of the 1975 class, told me the main charge against Patman was that he was an incompetent chairman (a charge with which the nonprofit Common Cause agreed). One of the revolt’s leaders, Edward Pattison, actually felt warmly toward Patman and his legendary populist career. But, “there was just a feeling that he had lost control of his committee.”

Not all on the left were swayed. Barbara Jordan, the renowned representative from Texas, spoke eloquently in Patman’s defense. Ralph Nader raged at the betrayal of a warrior against corporate power. And California’s Henry Waxman, one of the few populist Watergate Babies, broke with his class, puzzled by all the liberals who opposed Patman’s chairmanship. Still, Patman was crushed. Of the three chairmen who fell, Patman lost by the biggest margin. A week later, the bank-friendly members of the committee completed their takeover. Leonor Sullivan—a Missouri populist, the only woman on the Banking Committee, and the author of the Fair Credit Reporting Act—was removed from her position as the subcommittee chair in revenge for her support of Patman. “A revolution has occurred,” noted The Washington Post.

Indeed, a revolution had occurred. But the contours of that revolution would not be clear for decades. In 1974, young liberals did not perceive financial power as a threat, having grown up in a world where banks and big business were largely kept under control. It was the government—through Vietnam, Nixon, and executive power—that organized the political spectrum. By 1975, liberalism meant, as Carr put it, “where you were on issues like civil rights and the war in Vietnam.” With the exception of a few new members, like Miller and Waxman, suspicion of finance as a part of liberalism had vanished.

Over the next 40 years, this Democratic generation fundamentally altered American politics. They restructured “campaign finance, party nominations, government transparency, and congressional organization.” They took on domestic violence, homophobia, discrimination against the disabled, and sexual harassment. They jettisoned many racially and culturally authoritarian traditions. They produced Bill Clinton’s presidency directly, and in many ways, they shaped President Barack Obama’s.

The result today is a paradox. At the same time that the nation has achieved perhaps the most tolerant culture in U.S. history, the destruction of the anti-monopoly and anti-bank tradition in the Democratic Party has also cleared the way for the greatest concentration of economic power in a century. This is not what the Watergate Babies intended when they dethroned Patman as chairman of the Banking Committee. But it helped lead them down that path. The story of Patman’s ousting is part of the larger story of how the Democratic Party helped to create today’s shockingly disillusioned and sullen public, a large chunk of whom is now marching for Donald Trump.

While not a household name today, Wright Patman was a legend in his time. His congressional career spanned 46 years, from 1929 to 1976. In that near-half-century of service, Patman would wage constant war against monopoly power. As a young man, at the height of the Depression, he challenged Herbert Hoover’s refusal to grant impoverished veterans’ accelerated war pensions. He successfully drove the immensely wealthy Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon from office over the issue. Patman’s legislation to help veterans recoup their bonuses, the Bonus Bill—and the fight with Mellon over it—prompted a massive protest by World War I veterans in Washington, D.C., known as “the Bonus Army,” which helped shape the politics of the Depression.

In 1936, he authored the Robinson-Patman Act, a pricing and antitrust law that prohibited price discrimination and manipulation, and that finally constrained the A&P chain store—the Walmart of its day—from gobbling up the retail industry. He would go on to write the Bank Secrecy Act, which stops money-laundering; defend Glass-Steagall, which separates banks from securities dealers; write the Employment Act of 1946, which created the Council of Economic Advisors; and initiate the first investigation into the Nixon administration over Watergate.

Far from the longwinded octogenarian the Watergate Babies saw, Patman’s career reads as downright passionate, often marked by a vitality you might see today in an Elizabeth Warren—as when, for example, he asked Fed Chairman Arthur Burns, “Can you give me any reason why you should not be in the penitentiary?” Despite his lack of education, Patman had a savvy political and legal mind. In the late 1930s, the Federal Reserve Board refused to admit it was a government institution. So Patman convinced the District of Columbia’s government to threaten foreclosure of all Federal Reserve Board property; the Board quickly produced evidence that it was indeed part of the federal government.

Patman was also the beneficiary of the acumen of one of the most influential American lawyers of the 20th century, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. In the 1930s, when Patman first arrived in Washington, he and Brandeis became friends. While on the Court, Brandeis even secretly wrote legislation about chain stores for Patman. Chain stores, like most attempts at monopoly, could concentrate wealth and power, block equality of opportunity, destroy smaller cities and towns, and turn “independent tradesmen into clerks.” [cf. Wal-Mart – LG] In 1933, Brandeis wrote that Americans should use their democracy to keep that power in check. Patman was the workers’ and farmers’ legislative hero; Brandeis, their judicial champion.

Brandeis did for many New Dealers what he did for Patman, drafting legislation and essentially formalizing the populist social sentiment of the late 19th century into a rigorous set of legally actionable ideas. This philosophy then guided the 20th-century Democratic Party. Brandeis’s basic contention, built up over a lifetime of lawyering from the Gilded Age onward, was that big business and democracy were rivals. “We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few,” he said, “but we can’t have both.” Economics, identity, and politics could not be divorced, because financial power—bankers and monopolists—threatened local communities and self-government.

This use of legal tools to constrain big business and protect democracy is known as anti-monopoly or pro-competition policy. This tension stretched back to colonial times and the nation’s founding. The British East India Company was a chartered corporation organized to monopolize the tea business for its corporate owners and the Crown—which spurred the Boston Tea Party. Alexander Hamilton’s financial architecture concentrated power and wealth—which prompted the founding of the Democratic Party along more Jeffersonian lines, promoting private small-land ownership. J.P. Morgan’s and John D. Rockefeller’s encroaching industrial monopolies were part of the Gilded Age elite that extorted farmers with sky-high interest rates, crushed workers seeking decent working conditions and good pay, and threatened small-business independence—which sparked a populist uprising of farmers, and, in parallel, sparked protest from miners and workers confronting newfound industrial behemoths.

In the 20th century, Woodrow Wilson authored the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Federal Reserve Act, and the anti-merger Clayton Act, and, just before World War I intervened, he put Brandeis on the Supreme Court. Franklin Delano Roosevelt completed what Wilson could not, restructuring the banking system and launching antitrust investigations into “housing, construction, tire, newsprint, steel, potash, sulphur, retail, fertilizer, tobacco, shoe, and various agricultural industries.” Modern liberals tend to confuse a broad social-welfare state and redistribution of resources in the form of tax-and-spend policies with the New Deal. In fact, the central tenet of New Deal competition policy was not big or small government; it was distrust of concentrations of power and conflicts of interest in the economy. The New Deal divided power, pitting faction against other faction, a classic Jefferson-Madison approach to controlling power (think Federalist Paper No. 10). Competition policy meant preserving democracy within the commercial sphere, by keeping markets open. Again, for New Deal populists like Brandeis and Patman, it was democracy or concentrated wealth—but not both. . .

Continue reading.

This offers a blueprint for effective change, but power and wealth are now so concentrated that effective change will be an enormous uphill struggle against a force that has more financial resources and more clout that those who are being exploited.

Written by Leisureguy

15 November 2016 at 12:00 pm

Whipped Dog silvertip, Meißner Tremonia Moroccan Rhassoul, and the iKon 101

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SOTD 2016-11-15

I really like this 22mm Whipped Dog silvertip set at the standard depth. (Setting the knot deeper reduces softness and lather capacity, though it will still work. I just prefer the feel of a more fluffy brush.)

No trouble at all in getting a good lather. This soap contains clay (duh: rhassoul is a type of clay), but it loaded easily with an additional driblet of water.

The iKon Shavecraft #101 is a top-notch razor, IMO, doing an extremely good job with great comfort. Three passes left my face totally smooth, and a good splash of Barrister & Mann Reserve Spice finished the shave in great comfort.

The post is late because I got a request for an answer on Quora and ended up writing a short (well, 2000-word) answer, which took more time than I expected—the entire morning, in fact. But perhaps it will help some.

Written by Leisureguy

15 November 2016 at 11:49 am

Posted in Shaving

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