First They Came for the Foreigners’ Bank Accounts

            Adam Smith wrote that the efficiency of markets relies on the free movement of goods. What happens when governments seize property in order to exert political pressure—or out of greed?             A major, arguably the primary, incentive of the capitalist system is that it offers the potential of accruing wealth. Individuals and companies rely on government to maintain order, keep conditions like interest rates stable and protect accumulated assets from bank failures, devaluation, fraud and theft, without regard for the political orientation of their owner. In recent years, however, the United States has increasingly been putting its thumb on the scale for ideological reasons, taking assets by ethically and legally dubious means, and imperiling its reputation as a safe haven for deposits and investments.             From the 62-years-and-counting trade embargo against Cuba to the severing of ties with Iran following the hostage crisis to the isolation of South Africa to punish apartheid, the U.S. has repeatedly turned to economic…
Read More

Biden is Giving $40 Billion to Ukraine. Here’s What That Money Could Do Here.

            On top of the $2 billion it already sent to Ukraine, the Joe Biden Administration has asked Congress to ignore its previous request for a $10 billion to pay for updated COVID-19 vaccines for American citizens (pandemic? what pandemic?) and send an additional $33 billion to Ukraine instead. The House of Representatives not only obliged, but authorized more than Biden wanted, $40 billion.             The U.S. Congress does this with military spending all the time. They live to please!             Every Democratic congressman voted “yes” to send weapons to a country that has “several hundred monuments, statues, and streets named after Nazi collaborators,” according to The Forward. That even includes AOC’s “Squad,” who claimed to be progressive.             In the Senate, a rare voice of opposition was raised by libertarian Republican Rand Paul. “We don’t need to be the sugar daddy and the policemen of the world,” Paul remarked. For his trouble, Paul was bizarrely accused of “treason” by…
Read More

How the U.S. Lost the Ukraine War

The effect of Western sanctions may cause historians of the future to look upon the conflict in Ukraine as a net defeat for Russia. In terms of the military struggle itself, however, Russia is winning. Watching American and European news coverage, you might ask yourself how can that be? It comes down to war aims. Russia has them. They are achievable. The United States doesn’t have any. “As the war in Ukraine grinds through its third month,” the Washington Post reports, “the Biden administration has tried to maintain a set of public objectives that adapt to changes on the battlefield and stress NATO unity, while making it clear that Russia will lose, even as Ukraine decides what constitutes winning. But the contours of a Russian loss remain as murky as a Ukrainian victory.” War aims are a list of what one side in a military conflict hopes to achieve at its conclusion. There are two kinds. The first type of…
Read More

Better a Pretend Fight Than None at All

           A friend and I were at a bar when someone opined that France didn’t resist the German invasion in 1940. “It’s true, France lost fast,” my friend replied. “But they fought hard. They lost 90,000 troops in six weeks. It was a bloodbath. We lost 58,000 over a decade in Vietnam but we’re still whining about it.”             Every conflict ends with a winner and a loser. There is no shame in losing—only in not trying.             Democrats need to learn this lesson. Voters want their elected representatives to fight for them. This administration is not without accomplishments: last year’s coronavirus stimulus package saved millions of Americans from bankruptcy and prevented a recession; though poorly executed, President Biden deserves praise for the withdrawal from Afghanistan; and, inflation aside, workers are benefitting from rising wages and record-low unemployment. The pandemic seems to be in our rearview mirror. Now, The New York Times reports, party bosses are trying to decide on…
Read More

In Defense of Defamation Lawsuits

            “He that filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him, and makes me poor indeed,” Iago tells Othello in Shakespeare’s play. The belief that defamation is serious, and that the perpetrator of libel or slander deserves to be punished, is a standard trope in popular culture. The Hollywood screenwriter falsely accused of communist sympathies struggles to clear his name in the 1950s. The journalist breaks a big story only to be smeared by the rich and powerful men whose crimes he exposed. The narrative of the innocent person sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit relies on dual tragedies, the injustice of undeserved suffering as well as a conviction that results in society wrongly believing that the condemned is an evildoer. In the real world, however, there is little sympathy for a person whose reputation has been damaged by a falsehood spread by a malicious enemy. One example is actor Johnny…
Read More

When It Cares, the U.S. Government Is Extremely Efficient

           As the COVID-19 pandemic has made painfully clear, our healthcare system is a disaster. 12% of Americans are uninsured and 21% are underinsured. Many counties have zero or just one healthcare plan on offer through their local ACA marketplace, so there is no price competition whatsoever. Due to the lack of competition, and price gouging, by for-profit insurers, the average family of four who buys insurance through Obamacare pays a whopping $25,000 a year in premiums and deductibles—more than a third of their income after taxes.             More than 18,000 Americans die annually due to lack of medical insurance.             This is very sad, especially for them and their families. But nothing can be done about it. Lame as it is, the Affordable Care Act is as good as it gets. Until the Republicans get back in charge, when they will try to get rid of it again. Political dysfunction, amirite?             When they care about something, however, the…
Read More

After Ukraine, Other Stupid Ideas for Virtue Signaling

            Team Politics has gone international! Who cares if you can’t find Ukraine on a map? Festoon your home with Ukrainian flags! Change your Twitter avatar to a heart-shaped Ukrainian flag! Tattoo your entire body blue and yellow! It’s all about Ukraine — until the next war or the Azov Battalion gets caught doing something awful, whichever comes first.             But why limit yourself to the yellow-and-blue bicolor you never heard of before two months ago? The United States is directly involved in such a wide range of foreign conflicts, regime-change operations and proxy wars that there’s a shallow virtue signal for every wardrobe choice—including yours.             You probably haven’t given much thought to the six years-and-counting civil war in Yemen. The American media hasn’t either. But your ignorance doesn’t stop you from pontificating about Ukraine—nor should it mean you shouldn’t rush to pick sides in this colorful blood-soaked extravaganza that has claimed tens of thousands of lives. Wearing a…
Read More

Biden Is Making Fools Out Of Progressive Democrats

            Like a lepidopteran Charlie Brown drawn to Lucy van Pelt’s flaming football, Congressional progressives keep falling for corporate Democrats’ pathetically predictable, and transparently self-serving, pleas for unity. Support our priorities, the centrists keep urging, and we’ll get around to your stuff later. How much later? We’ll tell you later.             “Progressives have grown increasingly accustomed to disappointment with the Biden administration,” the Daily Beast reports with the breaking-news tone of “sun rises in east,” “and now a proposed increase in Department of Defense and law enforcement spending are causing them to air their grievances anew with just months left before the 2022 election.” Insanely—remember, we just left Afghanistan so war spending should drop precipitously—President Biden’s latest budget proposes a record high of $813 billion in military spending, an increase of $30 billion from last year. He just sent $13 billion to Ukraine. Plus he wants $32 billion for cops.             Refund the police.             Whether working inside a system…
Read More

The Left Must Continue to Avoid the Ukraine Trap

            “Find a way to be against the war in Ukraine, please.” That was the subject line of one of my recent hate emails. “If you look through Mr. Rall’s cartoons for the past month, there isn’t a single one condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” an anonymous online commentor chided. “There’s plenty of ones based around whataboutism condemning us for condemning them but not a single one that just comes right out and says what Russia is doing now is wrong.”             The Right—in the U.S. that includes Republicans, Democrats and corporate media—has set a clever trap for the antiwar Left. The rhetoric in this essay’s first paragraph is an example. If the Left were to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Right would portray us as Russia-loving hypocrites who only oppose wars when the United States starts them. If the Left backed Ukraine, they’d be joining an unholy alliance with a government installed in a CIA-backed coup, that pointlessly…
Read More

DMZ America #41: Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings, Ukraine and Kinky Sex

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson appears almost certain to be headed towards Senate confirmation as soon as the next US Supreme Court justice. What does it say about America that she is taking heat for representing Guantánamo detainees? Ted is dismayed by Jackson stated acceptance of late Justice Antonin Scalia’s radical-right originalist theory of constitutional interpretation. Scott and Ted debate major talking points surrounding America’s involvement in the war between Russia and Ukraine. Finally, Scott comes out as the most sexually repugnant thing you can be in the age of libertinism: a prude. Christine Emba’s new book “Rethinking Sex: A Provocation” is the starting point of the discussion about how younger women feel pressured to do things in bed that they really don’t want to do.      
Read More
Menu
css.php