Murtaza Hussain at The Intercept assesses “The Dark Odds Facing Iran’s Brave Protestors.” Protests have followed the state’s murder of a woman for not wearing her hijab in strict accordance with new right-wing government laws, and though we want better for good Iranians, Egyptians and Syrians have failed to capitalize on the Arab Spring because “life under dictatorship had not allowed any alternative institutions to grow that could easily replace the tyrannies now in place”; Iran’s police state has similarly suppressed such institutions. That’s a cautionary tale for those Americans who think crime is the number one issue facing them because they’ve watched the same four or five clips on the TV news for two years now.
Matt Stoller assesses our progress in our fight against monopolies. Long story short: yes, our government loses antitrust cases in court, but has also made progress on right-to-repair, wage-fixing, and price-fixing. Still, “(i)n a highly concentrated economy, losing merger challenges simply shouldn’t happen,” but he also reminds us that we lose before very, very bad judging. Mr. Stoller remains hopeful that lawyers will figure out how to win cases even against bad judges, and that judges aren’t evil per se but “just operating on autopilot with antitrust. And he also reminds us that the “narrative of powerlessness is perhaps the most powerful weapon in the monopolists’ arsenal, because it causes us to give up on self-government itself.” We definitely need to hear that more often! The “phony war” metaphor at the beginning is a bonus.
When I hear that 80% of Americans want a federally-funded paid family/medical leave program, I recall that Newt Gingrich used to say if 70 percent of Americans want something, they should get it, though I bet he would just mouth a bunch of BS about it now and our “liberal” media wouldn’t challenge him on it. I’ll bet most of Joe Manchin’s constituents want a paid family/medical leave program, too, and if he’s scared that his approvals in West Virginia are upside down now that he’s helped bring the Inflation Reduction Act to fruition, I would remind him that his job ain’t just to do his constituents’ will, but to convince them when he’s actually done it.
Ho hum, Nevada’s Republican Secretary of State candidate wants to end mail-in voting because of alleged/nonexistent “voter fraud,” but not only has he voted by mail numerous times, he’s also done it while living in a different state from the one in which he was voting. In a sane, moral, and decent civilization, this news would finish his campaign; in this sick, immoral, and decadent society, he needs only hope he’s worshiped enough at the altar of His Personal Lord and Savior Donald Trump to please the big man’s votaries. Having claimed to be a “victim of election fraud” as the Republican nominee for Nevada’s 4th U.S. House district in 2020 – he lost that race by over 16,000 votes and nearly five percentage points – he may be well on his way toward this goal.
When I hear that Republicans actually plan to campaign on repealing drug-pricing caps passed entirely with Democratic votes – and that they’re using the same horsedoodle arguments about “stifling innovation” and “drug takeover schemes” and “price controls,” phrases that anger far-right partisans and literally no one else – all I can say is that I guess they’re counting on gerrymandering to deliver them the House, because they sure ain’t counting on making winning arguments. The shame of it is that it might work, especially given our well-founded suspicion that Democrats don’t want to win elections as much as they want to raise campaign money.
Finally, how about some good news? Over 270 workers at the Roosevelt Boulevard Home Depot in Philadelphia have filed a petition with our National Labor Relations Board to form a union. Much like Walmart, Home Depot has unusually terrific workers they get to treat like crap because those workers don’t have the opportunity to take their skills somewhere else anymore – which, of course, is because Home Depot has crushed smaller, independent hardware stores everywhere it’s gone. So let’s add “balancing monopoly power” as yet another reason we need more unions.