Political Articles from 2017
America’s Military-Industrial Addiction
By JP Sottile
Posted December 29, 2017
Polls show that Americans are tired of endless wars in faraway lands, but many cheer President Trump’s showering money on the Pentagon and its contractors, a paradox that President Eisenhower foresaw.
The Military-Industrial Complex has loomed over America ever since President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of its growing influence during his prescient farewell address on Jan. 17, 1961. The Vietnam War followed shortly thereafter, and its bloody consequences cemented the image of the Military-Industrial Complex (MIC) as a faceless cadre of profit-seeking warmongers who’ve wrested control of the foreign policy. That was certainly borne out by the war’s utter senselessness … and by tales of profiteering by well-connected contractors like Brown & Root.
Over five decades, four major wars and a dozen-odd interventions later, we often talk about the Military-Industrial Complex as if we’re referring to a nefarious, flag-draped Death Star floating just beyond the reach of helpless Americans who’d generally prefer that war was not, as the great Gen. Smedley Darlington Butler aptly put it, little more than a money-making “racket.” More…
How the U.S. Dictatorship Works
by Eric Zuesse
Posted December 28, 2017
A recent article in the Washington Post described how the current US tax-‘reform’ bill is being shaped; and it describes, basically (at least as far as tax-law changes are concerned), the operation of a US dictatorship by the super-rich.
First of all, however: there is no longer any realistic question as regards whether the US in recent decades has been a dictatorship, or instead a democracy. According to the only scientific analysis of the relevant data, that has been done in order to determine whether the US is a dictatorship or a democracy, the US is definitely a dictatorship that’s perpetrated by the extremely richest, against the public-at-large; in other words: the US Government functions as an aristocracy, otherwise referred-to as an oligarchy, or a plutocracy, or a kleptocracy; but, in any case, and by whatever name, it’s ruled by a tiny number of the extremely wealthiest and their agents, on behalf of those few super-rich, against the concerns and interests and needs of the public (everyone else).
So: instead of being rule by the public (the “demos” is the Greek term for it), it’s rule on behalf of a tiny dictatorial class, of extreme wealth — by whatever name we might happen to label this ruling class. More…
Israel Tackles Existential Threat Posed By 16-Year-Old Palestinian Girl
by Robert Mackey
Posted December 26, 2017
On Wednesday, an Israeli military court extended the detention of Ahed Tamimi, a 16-year-old girl who has become the face of Palestinian resistance to Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank for many who follow the weekly protests in her village through social media.
The girl was arrested in an overnight raid of her family’s home in the village of Nabi Saleh early Monday.
As Palestinian activists noted, however, that reading of the incident ignores the fact that the soldiers were on the family’s property, in an area that has been under military occupation for more than half a century. More…
Posted December 20, 2017
As the net neutrality debate continues, Silicon Valley has increased its Washington presence, and heavy hitters like Comcast are making themselves heard on this issue. Below are some “fast facts” about the major money players seeking to influence lawmakers.
Comcast: Comcast, the cable, internet and content giant, is one of Washington’s most powerful influence-wielders.
For starters, at least 31 members of Congress owned shares in Comcast in 2015. In the 2016 cycle, 360 House members (out of 435) and 52 senators were recipients of campaign donations from either Comcast’s corporate PAC or employees of the company. Comcast donors gave a total of $3.9 million to congressional candidates. With Comcast’s sprawling empire of subsidiaries, including NBC and Universal Studios, not all of that money was necessarily directed by people with a direct interest in the net neutrality issue, but it’s hard to ignore the size of Comcast’s campaign cash largesse. More…
The Future Is What We Make of It – Part 1
by Michael Krieger
Posted December 17, 2017
2017 has been a really strange year for me. As tens of millions of my fellow Americans have experienced mental breakdowns following the election of Donald Trump, an unexpected sense of calm has come over me and I can’t remember the last time I was this optimistic about the future.
Importantly, the optimism I feel isn’t the demented, tribal and transient sort that many people experience when their politician of choice wins an election. I strongly disliked both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and I refused to support or vote for either. As such, I already knew going into November 2016, that we’d emerge on the other side with a dangerous authoritarian in power, and I mentally prepared myself to push back against whoever won. Although I think Trump is a terrible President and a fake populist, I think his winning the election might serve as the necessary kick in the ass our society needs in order to evolve. More…
Turning the tide against water privatization in Wisconsin
By John Stewart
Posted December 15, 2017
The pieces were in place for the water industry to take control of Wisconsin’s public water systems and reap a huge profit at the community’s expense.
Aqua America, one of the largest water corporations in the United States, had hired a former Wisconsin state legislator to push a bill that would make it easier for towns to sell or lease their water systems to out-of-state corporations by eliminating democratic safeguards.
The bill was close to becoming law. Neither the public nor the media had latched on to the issue. It seemed likely the bill would breeze through the state senate — that is, until the right people came together to stop it. More…
This City Hall, brought to you by Amazon
By Danny Westneat
Posted December 14, 2017
There’s rising worry that corporations are taking over America. But after reviewing a slew of the bids by cities and states wooing Amazon’s massive second headquarters, I don’t think “takeover” quite captures what’s going on.
More like “surrender.”
Last month Amazon announced it got 238 offers for its new, proposed 50,000-employee HQ2. I set out to see what’s in them, but only about 30 have been released so far under public-record acts.
Those 30, though, amply demonstrate our capitulation to corporate influence in politics. There’s a new wave, in which some City Halls seem willing to go beyond just throwing money at Amazon. They’re turning over the keys to the democracy. More…
America’s Enemies, Who’s On the List?
By Prof. James Petras
Posted December 14, 2017
The politicians and propagandists in Washington can blather about Russia’s interference in the US’s corrupt electoral theater and scuttle moves to improve diplomatic ties, but they cannot counter Russia’s growing influence in the Middle East and its expanding trade with Asia, especially China.
The US ‘priority’ targets are unattainable and invulnerable. In the midst of the on-going inter-elite dogfight within the US, it may be too much to hope for the emergence of any rational policymakers in Washington who could rethink strategic priorities and calibrate policies of mutual accommodation to fit in with global realities.
The US would regain some of its credibility if it operated within the contexts of global realities and pursued a win-win agenda instead of remaining a consistent loser in a zero-sum game. More…
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