Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Howard Kurtz Sells Out

I am disappointed at Howard Kurtz for moving to Fox without maintaining his journalistic integrity.  On Fox's "MediaBuzz" he slants his reporting to the Fox line, and just in case he doesn't, he has his pretty, blond minder along side to keep him in line, just like the North Koreans and old Soviets assigned a minder to watch visitors and make sure they didn't see or say anything that the government didn't want them to say.  Pravda's editorial policies are alive and well at Fox, and Howie is towing the line.  He was better at CNN's "Reliable Sources" than the new guy at CNN, but the new CNN guy, Brian Stelter, has more journalistic integrity now than Kurtz has at Fox; so, his show is better than Kurtz's.  I hope that Kurtz is getting paid lots of Fox money to disgrace himself.

Now it looks like Maria Bartiromo is going to follow Kurtz down the Fox media hole for money.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Russian Empire

Yesterday on Fox, George Will said that Russia had to learn to accept its loss of empire -- Ukraine -- as the British did.  But I think it he looking at the wrong countries that left the empire.  Ukraine is not like India or the Burma, but to Russia it is more like Scotland or Ireland.  Scotland is still part of the UK despite a long-running effort to separate, and there was a bitter terrorist war in Northern Ireland over the empire's control which might not be entirely extinguished today.

Not only is Kiev in many ways the first capital and heart of Russia, but the Crimea on the Black Sea is one of Russia's most important naval bases.  It is unlikely that Russia and Putin will quietly walk away from these ties, although they may eventually have to give them up.  I doubt they will go quietly, whether it means actual fighting or not.

However, I thought during the breakup of the old Soviet Union that the independence of the Baltic countries -- Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia -- was a step too far that would be resisted by Russia.  I was wrong; they have been some of the most successful of the old Soviet satellites.  But I am guessing that Putin regrets what happened with the Soviet Union disintegrated, and will not let Ukraine go quietly into the night.

We'll see.

One issue that seems to cut both ways for me is the Russian economy. It's not in good shape, and is unlikely to get better as fracking reduces natural gas prices and oil prices along with them.  Oil is Russia's main source of foreign exchange.  This Russia will be weakened in whatever it does to retain Ukraine, but on the other hand, because of economic pressures, it will be loath to lose an important partner and ally.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Comcast To Buy Time Warner Cable

This Comcast-Time Warner deal is clearly an agreement in restraint of trade that should be blocked by antitrust laws, but probably will not be.  These huge deals creating a few dominant companies in almost all sectors of the economy are bad for America in the long run.  Google-Yahoo, JP Morgan-Goldman Sachs, Comcast-DirecTV, GM-Ford, United-Delta Airlines, all of these, and more, oligarchies dominate their markets.  They can largely ignore their customers, because their customers have little or no choice.  If you want this service, you have to work with two or three companies; that's it.

Obama is a Democratic President who should be concerned about this, but he and his attorney general, Eric Holder, are too concerned about gay marriage and killing American citizens with drones to worry about antitrust issues.  We might as well have George W. Bush as President.