The dazzling hypocrisy of "Don’t Make Us Pay"

I came across these ads recently:

Oh my god! The bad mean government wants to make you pay more to use debit cards! Are they levying a tax?

Of course not. This is a campaign by the banks to repeal a law that limits the fees they can charge retailers. They really don’t like any limitations at all, do they?

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Bastille Day in Egypt: Amn Dawla and the coming floods

There’s been very little that’s hit any mainstream news sources, but the Twitter hashtag #AmnDawla follows an astounding story.

Amn Dawla (أمن الدولة) means “State Security”. This is Egypt’s equivalent of the Stasi – spying on, controlling, and torturing the citizens of Egypt under Mubarak. And – this is really important – don’t forget that the US outsourced most of its torture to Egypt. The CIA kidnaps people off of the streets of cities like Milan, or takes them from battlefields, and then engages in “extraordinary rendition”: delivers them to third parties like Egypt to be tortured.

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Why the New York Times sucks

No NYT: 14 Per Cent Club

The excellent CounterPunch website has snarky t-shirts one can buy to support them. I own one, no longer available it seems, whose front displays, in a Gothic font, “NYT” crossed out in red and “14 Per Cent Club”. On the back it says

“14 per cent of Americans believe almost nothing of what they read in the New York Times.”

You Can Believe What You Read

In August, biking through wine country, I stopped at a winery in the middle of a scorching afternoon to cool down, drink prodigious amounts of water, and then try a little wine. An older gentleman asked me about that shirt, which I was wearing at the time. He asked what I had against the New York Times. I don’t think I gave a very good answer – he had not caught me at my best. So I thought I’d present my ideas here.

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Net Neutrality and Corporate Power

Arguing with libertarians about net neutrality is like trying to convince the Pope to open a condom factory. If you succeed, you’ve converted them. Belief that an unregulated market is always best is a fundamental libertarian plank. With the Pope you actually have a head start because he has admitted that there might be situations in which using a condom might be moral.

I’m not naïve. I’m no fan of state power. But neither of corporate power. The world in which we live today is a complicated one, in which corporate and state power are often intertwined or interdependent, but sometimes antagonistic to each other. A properly crafted net neutrality law would limit corporate power in the critical arena of internet access, and as a consequence would limit state power as well.

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