Author's Note: Some 30 years ago, as an undergraduate studying Economics, I took a course in Industrial Organization and Public Policy. I have been mulling some of the ideas I first encountered in that course ever since. The following is the product of just such mulling.
Many Americans are at least passing familiar with the 19th-century rise of corporate monopoly power in this country to set prices when selling and the subsequent development of the anti-trust regulations and legislation that came about to limit the power of monopolies. Far fewer Americans, however, know about the flip side of monopoly: monopsony. Put bluntly, a monopolist controls the prices of goods and services it sells. By contrast, a monopsonist controls the prices of goods and services it buys.
Continues below fold
Author's Note: I sent this to Counterpunch as a written rebuttal, but heard no response from them and can only assume I failed to satisfy their editorial needs or standards. More's the pity. Link to the orignal piece is here: The Frauds of the Gettysburg Address
In his “The Frauds of the Gettysburg Address” (Counterpunch, November 18, 2013), Kirkpatrick Sale has slandered a great figure in world history and a great document in the history of human freedom and the tradition of rhetoric. Abraham Lincoln is long dead and buried and so it remains to us the living to defend his legacy and so to consecrate his contributions to our collective experience.
Continues below the fold
I followed with great interest yesterday two excellent threads concerning the recent CBS' Sixty Minutes broadcast about Benghazi, subsequent revelations of shoddy journalism, and insufficient retractions (corrections) thus far:
I was struck and touched by the calls for boycotting the show and its advertisers and for contacting the show's production team to register one's absolute displeasure.
I could not comment easily yesterday, because I had only my smart phone with which to recommend threads and various replies thereto. But in the process of reading I had some further thoughts about how to influence matters in the best interests of journalism, the American public interest and the truth.
In short, time to think like a capitalist and consider selling your stock in CBS. I don't own any stock (or bonds) in CBS, you say, so how can I sell stock in CBS?
More below the fold:
Call me petty, call me mean-spirited. But I want to see Republicans publicly mocked, excoriated and humiliated for their shenanigans with the CR and DL. For the second time in his presidency (the first being January 2009), Obama has them on the mat and down for a 9-count. This time around, no playing nice. I want Obama, Reid and Pelosi to squish them like bugs into the dustbin of history, mixed metaphors be damned.
Those assholes actually thought they could use the sovereign debt of the United States as a bargaining chip and get away with it. Now even the bankers and business elite are abandoning them. Time for Obama to administer the final coup de grace. For starters, any deal on the CR and DL should be coupled with the resignation en masse of the entire House Republican leadership from their leadership positions. Next, the 49 Teabillies should have to apologize publicly for their role in undermining the full faith and credit of the United States. Finally, any deal to let Republicans off the hook should be predicated upon a rider that the DL never again be used in such a manner.
More below the fold.
Author's Note: I no longer post at DemocraticUnderground.com but I still routinely surf the boards there to see what my old amigos are up to from time to time.
I saw this rant there last night and post it for your edification-amusement. My wife and I have been dissolved in fits of giggles ever since:
From a fairly new DU user named 'Toby Jo':
I want a cell phone I want a smart phone I want computer access I want to call around the world I want to be free of attacks I want to be plugged in all the time to everyone in the world wherever they are I want it all.
Don't tell me there are bad people in the world and make me face reality. I want it all. Life is beautiful. Fuck you go away you fascist pig, you.
I don't want to have to pay.
Goddam crybabies. Spoiled brats. Grow up. Really how would you handle the complex, huge, fast-moving world of today were you charged with the security of your neighbors and family? Tell them 'everything is beautiful' ? Hope for the best? Cite your amendments. Go ahead. That 2nd one is working out well. Back in the day....
And for the record, the govt is into some seriously evil shit - I lobbied against them ages ago and we were simply told 'we're not going to deal with that. Hearings were put off.' This data collection is not it. This is child's play. Get your fucking shit together.
On a serious note, people whose connection to reality may have been a bit tenuous to begin with may find this story feeding their paranoid delusions on a massive scale and I honestly don't know what to do about that. NSA-Gate certainly has had my wife and me way more emotionally volatile than we would be in other times.
Does anyone know a good answer to the question: "Why are you worried if you don't have anything to hide?" or refutation to that type of thinking?
My wife and I were bumping into this repeatedly on Facebook yesterday among various knuckle-dragging types while discussing the NSA spying stories and we found ourselves sputtering from time to time because we could not find the right wording.
I would say something like "Civil liberties and due process are not about who THEY are. They are about who WE are." And I like that line, but I think for this specific question there's bound to be a more effective rejoinder.
Thanks in advance. Will respond to all good faith substantive comments, as time permits.
As soon as I heard Edward Snowden's name revealed yesterday as the source of the most recent revelations about NSA domestic spying, I knew the name sounded familiar. I went traipsing through the smoke rings of my mind and, sure enough, in the file labelled 'Best (American) Novel Since 1945," I found the answer.
In Joseph Heller's Catch-22, Snowden was the tail-gunner in Yossarian's plane who dies in Yossarian's arms after getting hit by anti-aircraft fire while on a bombing run over the French city Avignon. One could argue that Snowden's death marks a crucial turning point in the events of the novel and in Yossarian's state of mind (or lack thereof, as the case may be).
I've copied one relevant portion of Catch-22 below the fold. Wouldn't you know it, the snippet also has a major intelligence (used with all the ironic suggestions Heller would have seen in the word) twist to it:
If your household is anything like mine, over the past few days you've done nothing but discuss (not necessarily in this order): Bradley Manning, Barack Obama, the NSA and Glenn Greenwald.
If your household is anything like mine, over the past few days the following words to describe emotions have received prominent play:
Well, this morning, while making my coffee, I had a minor epiphany. Back on May 8, I had published a diary about Mark Sanford's election to the House and how the psychological concept of 'Cognitive Dissonance' might have played a role in explaining, among other matters, why Romney won the district by 18 points in 2012 but Sanford only won by 9 points:
Cognitive Dissonance, Mark Sanford and the Current Republican Electorate
That diary did not receive an overwhelming response and I'm not sure it should have, given the convincing rebuttals in the Comment section. But that does not mean that Cognitive Dissonance does not play a role in social psychology and might not be a useful tool to contribute to our understanding of other political events.
Ah-ha, I thought to myself this morning. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Might not Cognitive Dissonance also be at play here and might it not also explain the relentless sniping and circular firing-squad-ism on display these last few days at DailyKos, DemocraticUnderground and other progressive spots?
Continues below fold:
He attended an all-expenses paid junket to a conference in August 2008 sponsored by a Libertarian think tank funded by the Koch brothers.
This Conference had the all-too-delicious acronymn of -- get ready -- 'FREE' (' Foundation for Research on Economics & the Environment'). I swear you can't make this shit up.
I'd love to see the Senate Judiciary Committee haul this shithead before it and under penalty of perjury get him to explain how he has avoided any conflicts of interest in his judicial conduct since then. Go over every case one by one in the harsh glare of media scrutiny while this shitbird justifies his parasitism.
Can you say 'Corrupt'????? I know what I'm going to be calling Senator Boxer and Maxine Waters about on Monday. (I'm guessing Feinstein's number will still be busy, as it was when I called today.)
(Candidate) Obama 2007:
"When I am President, one of the first things I'm going to do is call in my Attorney General and say to him, 'I want you to review every executive order that's been issued by George Bush; whether it relates to warrant-less wiretaps, or detaining people, or reading emails, or whatever it is-i want you to go through every single one of them.' And if they are unconstitutional, if they're encroaching on civil liberties unnecessarily, we are going to overturn them."
(President) Obama 2013:
"Nobody is listening to your telephone calls . . . What you’ve got is two programs that were originally authorized by Congress, have been repeatedly authorized by Congress. Bipartisan majorities have approved them. Congress is continually briefed on how these are conducted. There are a whole range of safeguards involved. And federal judges are overseeing the entire program throughout."
(Candidate) Obama 2008:
"We only know these crimes took place because insiders blew the whistle at great personal risk ... Government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal."
(President) Obama 2011:
"Bradley Manning broke the law."
Boy, was I a schmuck. I won't get fooled again.
In modern psychology, cognitive dissonance is the discomfort experienced when simultaneously holding two or more conflicting cognitions: ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions. In a state of dissonance, people may sometimes feel "disequilibrium": frustration, hunger, dread, guilt, anger, embarrassment, anxiety . . . . Cognitive dissonance theory explains human behavior by positing that people have a bias to seek consonance between their expectations and reality. According to Festinger, people engage in a process he termed "dissonance reduction", which can be achieved in one of three ways: lowering the importance of one of the discordant factors, adding consonant elements, or changing one of the dissonant factors. This bias sheds light on otherwise puzzling, irrational, and even destructive behavior. (Emphasis added)
I have not seen anyone yet discuss the role cognitive dissonance might have played in yesterday's special election in South Carolina's 1st Congressional District, an election that saw the self-confessed philanderer and disgraced former governor Mark Sanford win over Elizabeth Colbert Busch (ECB). The district went overwhelmingly for Romney in 2012 (by 18 percentage points), so I think it fair to label the district a pocket Republican borough. And yet, Elizabeth Colbert Busch lost by only 9 points, only one half the margin by which Obama lost in 2009. Why is that?
Cognitive dissonance theory offers one explanation for why Sanford managed to win but also why ECB managed to halve the margin by which a Dem last lost the district.
Continues below fold
Author's note: I cross-posted this from my blog because of its timeliness, even though the subject matter is somewhat out of the scope of this site. A part of me hopes that Zach frequents these parts and will PM me after reading this.
Here's something you'll never see in Braille: "If you see something, say something."
Zach Galifianakis, Saturday Night Live, May 4, 2013
In 1998, I began playing covers and newly written original songs each Monday evening at an open mike in Santa Monica, CA at a wonderful venue on Pier St. called simply 'Creativity.' The venue had an enormous stage and seating for about 50-75 audience members. I was an amateur on the pop music scene and had only recently begun writing my own songs, so the Monday open mike was a chance to play before other musicians and stand-up comedians, all of us trying to break in to our respective entertainment fields and all searching for that key to unlock entry to the entertainment world.
The venue Creativity seemed tailor-made for my efforts, as its proprietor kept the Open Mike strictly acoustic. (Although this occurred during the hey-day of the "Unplugged" fad that swept alternative rock, I suspect the devotion to acoustic had as much to do with the proprietor not wishing to pay ASCAP and other fees.) The stand-up comedians at the time were practicing a new form of comedy called 'Alternative Comedy" or "Alternative Standup". Rather than recite a pre-canned and memorized routine, the stand-up comedians would stand on the stage holding little notebooks or pieces of paper with their observations of funny things that had happened to them just that day or that week.
Continues below fold: