Foreign Policy

I, like most westerners, am not a big fan of Iran these days. Which is all the more reason to expect that the reasons we mistrust them be TRUE.

“If our goal were to create a world where Iran was incentivized to obtain nuclear weapons, we couldn’t do a better job than we’re doing now.
“As the invasion of Iraq demonstrated, the kind of fear-mongering, reckless, and outright false “reporting” we’re seeing already — and have been seeing for awhile — over Iran’s nuclear program poses a far greater danger to the U.S. than anything Iran could do.”

While we’re drawing Snidely Whiplash sharpie mustaches on our pictures of Ahmadinejad, the Italians are apparently doing our intelligence gruntwork for us, seemingly against their own economic interests.

“U.S.-led international sanctions haven’t stopped the illicit sales, experts say, because European countries have longtime commercial ties to Iran and aren’t inclined to crack down, particularly in the current economic slump. Italy alone did more than $9 billion worth of legitimate trade with Iran in 2008.”

Media / Technology

Now that most television has gone digital, there’s a large amount of available broadcast spectrum, or potential broadcast capacity, generally regulated by the FCC. According to this article, only, roughly, 10% of that capacity is still being used for broadcast television. The FCC wants that capacity to be made available for cellphone usage. And the FCC is opening a very large, very contentious can of worms.

“Does this mean that the iPhone should be “entitled” to more spectrum? Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and wireless broadband! I don’t know if I’d go that far, but it’s hard to deny the implications of the numbers. The FCC reports that on AT&T’s network, wireless data consumption has risen 5000 percent in the last three years, largely because of the iPhone…
“Growth numbers like that imply that spectrum can be more profitably employed by the telcos than by TV broadcasters. According to the FCC, the market value of spectrum auctioned for mobile broadband use in 2008 was about ten times greater than the value of spectrum bands used for TV broadcasting.
“The FCC’s recommendations on wireless spectrum are part of its larger agenda on a national broadband strategy. Since the U.S. has fallen sadly behind other industrialized countries in providing broadband Internet access via land-lines, the FCC believes that Congress should move aggressively to authorize the FCC to ensure that the nation spares no attempt to make sure its wireless broadband networks are second to none.”

Luckily for the telecom companies, most American consumers have no basis of comparison to discover that our cell service, too, has already “fallen sadly behind other industrialized countries,” international iPhone availability notwithstanding. Nonetheless, whether U.S. broadcasters like it or not, they are being relegated to ‘buggy-whip manufacturer’ status. Yes, it happens that fast these days.

Politics / Socioculture

Chris Hedges, and Cynthia McKinney, definitely represent the far left side of political thought. But Hedges’ credibility, after the publication of ‘War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning’ (a must-read!), is, to my mind, irreproachable. He’s been there and seen that, far more than most. If he’s this worried, I’m listening.

“The Democrats and their liberal apologists are so oblivious to the profound personal and economic despair sweeping through this country that they think offering unemployed people the right to keep their unemployed children on their nonexistent health care policies is a step forward. They think that passing a jobs bill that will give tax credits to corporations is a rational response to an unemployment rate that is, in real terms, close to 20 percent. They think that making ordinary Americans, one in eight of whom depends on food stamps to eat, fork over trillions in taxpayer dollars to pay for the crimes of Wall Street and war is acceptable. They think that the refusal to save the estimated 2.4 million people who will be forced out of their homes by foreclosure this year is justified by the bloodless language of fiscal austerity. The message is clear. Laws do not apply to the power elite. Our government does not work. And the longer we stand by and do nothing, the longer we refuse to embrace and recognize the legitimate rage of the working class, the faster we will see our anemic democracy die.
“The unraveling of America mirrors the unraveling of Yugoslavia. The Balkan war was not caused by ancient ethnic hatreds. It was caused by the economic collapse of Yugoslavia. The petty criminals and goons who took power harnessed the anger and despair of the unemployed and the desperate. They singled out convenient scapegoats from ethnic Croats to Muslims to Albanians to Gypsies. They set in motion movements that unleashed a feeding frenzy leading to war and self-immolation. There is little difference between the ludicrous would-be poet Radovan Karadzic, who was a figure of ridicule in Sarajevo before the war, and the moronic Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. There is little difference between the Oath Keepers and the Serbian militias. We can laugh at these people, but they are not the fools. We are.”

Politics / Socioculture

Another indulgence of my man-crush on the mind of Frank Rich:

“If Obama’s first legislative priority had been immigration or financial reform or climate change, we would have seen the same trajectory. The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House — topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman — would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play. It’s not happenstance that Frank, Lewis and Cleaver — none of them major Democratic players in the health care push — received a major share of last weekend’s abuse. When you hear demonstrators chant the slogan “Take our country back!,” these are the people they want to take the country back from.”