Oligarchs in Name Only

“If the people who are in charge in the EU believe that because of sanctions, I could approach Mr. Putin and tell him to stop the war, and it will work, then I’m afraid we’re all in big trouble. … The power distance between Mr Putin and anybody else is like the distance between the Earth and the cosmos. To say anything to Putin against the war, for anybody, would be kind of suicide.”

— Mikhail Fridman, the owner of Alpha Bank, and one of Russia’s wealthiest oligarch’s told Bloomberg that sanctions will not deter Vladimir Putin from continuing with his invasion of Ukraine, warning the West that it is failing to understand how power in Moscow works.

Carter: Political System Has Become an ‘Oligarchy’

It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members.

– Former President Jimmy Carter, quoted by the Huffington Post.

The Romney Campaign Has Had Weeks, At Least, to Prepare for Release of Devastating Video – Knowing the End Was Near Could Explain Its Infighting and Fumbles

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It has been less than 24 hours since Mother Jones magazine released the video of Mitt Romney disparaging half the electorate as government-dependent freeloaders, and many pundits are already suggesting that Romney may not be able to recover from it, and they may well be right.

But, as Rachel Maddow reported last night, the national media has been aware of the video for weeks and even months. Excerpts were first posted anonymously on YouTube as long ago as May, not long after the fundraiser took place. They were also posted by someone using a couple different YouTube accounts in late August, around the time of the Republican National Convention in Tampa. If the media elite have known about this potentially devastating, game-changing video for three weeks and longer, then it’s a sure bet that both the Romney and Obama campaigns have known about it that long, too.


Fallows: Five Signs That the United States Is Undergoing a Right-Wing Coup

Graph showing rise in filibuster abuse by Republicans
Graph showing rise in filibuster abuse by Republicans

Writing last week before the Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, James Fallows at the Atlantic suggested that by subverting one branch of government — the Judiciary, and in particular, the Supreme Court — Republican corporatist radicals are staging a slo-mo coup right before our eyes:


The Confederate Flag: A Short History

"Stainless," the last of the three official national flags of the Confederacy in its three and a half years of existence
“Stainless,” the second of three official national flags of the Confederacy in its three and a half years of sovereignty

Update June 20, 2015: This story from June 2008 is getting attention in light of the right-wing racist terror attack on the Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston this week.


The title of a story I wrote last week — World’s Largest Swastika, Um, Confederate Flag to Fly in Tampa — upset a few people.

Some are proud, lifelong Southerners, who took offense because, as they saw it, comparing the Confederate flag to a swastika was the same as saying Southerners are Nazis. To them, the Confederate flag represents the people of the South, just as the U.S. flag stands for the American people.

As I wrote last week, I used to see the Confederate flag in a more benign light, but my perspective has changed, and not just because I’ve been expatriated from the South for 24 years. My perspective has changed because, in my youth, I saw the flag as a symbol of Southern separateness, of regional pride. But that idealization has been eclipsed by the reality that, whatever the flag may have represented in the past, today it is nothing more than a symbol of hatred and oppression.

I have also become aware that the flag we think of as the Confederate flag is not what has been purported to be. In the Confederacy’s three-and-a-half years of sovereignty, it had three national flags, but today’s Confederate flag was not one of them. Today’s rebel flag is a 20th century adaptation of a battle flag that was square, not rectangular, for one thing.

Still, the Southerners’ visceral reaction to my comparison of the flag to the Nazi emblem prompted me to do a little digging on the history of the Confederate flag. Here’s what I found: