By Kenneth T. Walsh – President Donald Trump’s decision to give the Pentagon the authority to make policy in Afghanistan is one of his most important, far-reaching and dangerous choices as commander in chief so far.
In the near term, it will almost certainly mean an escalation of the conflict with the addition of thousands of U.S. troops to the war zone. The fighting in Afghanistan has already lasted for 16 years and is America’s longest sustained war, extending over the tenure of three presidents of both major parties – George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Only the U.S. commitment to Vietnam came close to this mark, and it was a very polarizing, detested venture and ended in a defeat that Americans want to avoid repeating.
Over the long term, it means more U.S. entanglements in a region that few Americans understand, that U.S. policy makers often misjudge, and that has been the graveyard for potential occupiers and conquerors such as Alexander the Great, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. more> https://goo.gl/pmjecw
By Stuart N. Brotman – The growing restrictions on internet freedom around the world are easy to document; less so any visible American strategy that would reverse the ominous trends at hand.
According to its most recent annual report in this area, Freedom on the Net 2016, two-thirds of the world’s internet users live under government censorship. Internet freedom around the world declined in 2016 for the sixth consecutive year.
The types of blocked content include political communication aimed at promoting democratic values, such as online petitions and calls for public protests. Even satire can be punished severely: a 22-year old in Egypt was imprisoned for three years after photo-shopping Mickey Mouse ears on President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Unfortunately, this type of criminal penalty is hardly unique.
Overall, Freedom House deemed only 17 surveyed countries to have real internet freedom; 28 were partly free and 20 were characterized as not free. The leading bad state actors should not be surprising: China, Syria, Iran, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan and Cuba (North Korea was not included in the survey, alas).
The U.S. would be hurt if the marketplace of ideas and the online commercial marketplace that thrive here are diminished overseas.
However, there has been radio silence to date about this issue from the White House and the Department of State. more> https://goo.gl/msTcLz
Posted in Broadband, Business, Communication industry, CONGRESS WATCH, EARTH WATCH, Economy, Education, History, Leadership, Media, Net
Tagged Digital privacy, First Amendment Rights, Government, Internet freedom, Repression, Surveillance state
By Matthew Spalding – Today, the primary function of government is to regulate.
When Congress writes legislation, it uses very broad language that turns extensive power over to agencies, which are also given the authority of executing and often adjudicating violations of their regulations in particular cases. The result is that most of the actual decisions of lawmaking and public policy – decisions previously the constitutional responsibility of elected legislators – are delegated to bureaucrats whose “rules” have the full force and effect of laws passed by Congress.
The modern Congress is almost exclusively a supervisory body exercising limited oversight over administrative lawmakers.
If the development of the rule of law and constitutional government is the most significant accomplishment of the long history of human liberty, the greatest political revolution in the United States since the establishment of the Constitution has been the shift of power away from the lawmaking institutions of republican government to an oligarchy of experts who rule by regulation over virtually every aspect of our lives.
The result is an increasingly unbalanced structural relationship between what amounts to an executive–bureaucratic branch that can act with or without Congress to pursue common goals, and an ever-weakening legislative branch unable or unwilling to exercise its powers to check the executive or rein in a metastasizing bureaucracy. more> https://goo.gl/Jp3xRz
Posted in CONGRESS WATCH, Economic development, Economy, Education, History, Leadership, Media, Net
Tagged Big government, Bureaucracy, Congress Watch, Constitution, Regulations, Rule of law
By Reid Wilson – The Hill spent months digging deep into decades of data that illustrate the nation’s changing demographics, economics, culture and politics.
Those glimpses of a changing America are evidence of a series of countervailing demographic, political and economic forces that have long exerted themselves on the nation — and now define the quadrennial struggle between two sides of the political aisle that are deeply polarized along race, class, economic and educational lines.
At the center of the divide are two sets of divergent trends.
The first set contrasts the changing face of America, which is being hastened by the rising influence of the most diverse generation in American history, with a radical political shift among the nation’s still-dominant cohort of older whites, who now act as a more homogenous voting bloc than ever before.
The second set reflects the changing nature of how Americans live, work and build economic power. A generations-long trend toward wage stagnation, automation and globalization is in the final stages of exterminating the blue-collar manufacturing jobs that once sustained America’s middle class in the heartland. more> https://goo.gl/YgDUA0
Posted in Business, CONGRESS WATCH, Economic development, Economy, Education, History, Net, Technology
Tagged Demography and Population Studies, Globalization, Manufacturing, Polarization, Trends
By David Kully – The source of the increasing concentration in many markets, in the view of some commentators, was a shift that began in the 1970s in how antitrust enforcers and the courts view the role of antitrust enforcement.
At that time, economists in the “Chicago School” led an evolution away from concern about protecting small competitors from larger competitors to a current enforcement paradigm that emphasizes “consumer welfare” and calls for intervention by the government only if a merger or alleged anticompetitive practice is likely to harm consumers – through higher prices, lower output, poorer quality products or services, or diminished incentives to innovate. This shift, according to critics, made antitrust enforcers less likely to go to court to block large mergers or take on monopolies, with the result being the concentrated marketplaces we see today.
The nostalgia for the antitrust enforcement of the past, however, ignores important concerns about an approach predicated on attacking large firms merely because of their size. The evolution in antitrust thinking that began with the Chicago School was driven by economic research establishing that some mergers and certain practices that antitrust law previously forbade offer tangible benefits to society. Critics offer no countervailing basis to believe that these benefits would not be lost if we were to revert to past thinking. more> https://goo.gl/rt1ZSQ