Weekend Quick Takes

The special prosecutor, an American traitor and Sen. Elizabeth Warren were personalities in news this week. Highlights and quick take comments on each in this edition…

Special Prosecutor Releases Report

The biggest news of the week is that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller finished is work looking into potential collusion in the 2016 Presidential elections and turned over his report to the Attorney General as required. Details have not yet been released, but let us hope that both sides who previously professed that they wanted a legitimate and fair investigation will take the report and believe its findings. We don’t yet know the contents. We don’t know if it casts the President and his campaign in an embarrassing light and we don’t know if it totally exonerates him. Let the law speak for itself and the moderating calm voices in the US Senate who have urged letting the process play out continue to do so and may their voices be heard (and let us tune out the nuts and robots on each side of the political aisle who had already formed their opinions long ago).

“American Taliban” John Walker Lindh Nearing Release from Prison

John Walker Lindh, a former American Taliban militant convicted in 2002 for supporting the terrorist organization, is due to be freed in May.

The former Islamist fighter, dubbed “Detainee 001 in the war on terror,” was arrested in 2001, just months after the Sept. 11 attacks. He was captured in Afghanistan fighting among a group of Taliban soldiers.  Within a year, Walker Lindh was convicted of supporting the Taliban and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

His years in prison have not changed his mind on his political and terrorist ties.  In 2016, the National Counterterrorism Center found that Lindh was continuing to ‘advocate for global jihad’, according to documents obtained by the journal, Foreign Policy.

He was also continuing to ‘write and translate violent extremist texts’, it added. The document also claims that in 2015 Lindh told a television news producer ‘that he would continue to spread violent extremist Islam upon his release’.

Walker was found fighting US forces. He should have been tried for treason and executed. No worse crime against your country can be committed and his punishment should have fit the crime.

Elizabeth Warren on College Cheating

After news broke this week of a scam involving a number of celebrities and rich parents who paid bribes to get their children into colleges, Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren offered her opinion on the scandal while appearing on the news show, Morning Joe. Warren said she had ‘no sympathy’ for the parents who were arrested for the unethical college admissions.

One couldn’t help but note the irony of Warren commenting on such matters, since she also had a questionable past in gaining status in her previous job as a college professor at Harvard. She was recognized as ‘the first woman of color’ to join the faculty when she claimed she was Native American, Cherokee to be specific. The Cherokee nation, however, issued a stern rebuke and Warren later apologized though she did not deny her heritage. Trying to get ahead of the issue before she announced her run for President, she took a DNA test and published the results. Unfortunately for Warren, she became the object of even more jokes when it showed that she was less than something like 1/1000th Native American.

Cheating the system to get ahead is only bad when it’s someone else, apparently.

Good Ideas Are Good, No Matter Where They Come From

Speaking of Elizabeth Warren, during interviews this week she also offered a variety of opinions on various topics. Among them, she spoke out against big business as she usually does but this time she specifically said that Amazon ought to be broken up. Frankly, that idea is worth examining.

The fundamental idea of capitalism, and a reason why it is the most successful economic system in history, is that people who have great new ideas and you use innovation to bring people things that they want can make a lot of money when they do so. Do something people like and that meets the demands of consumers and you are rewarded-everyone wins.  And Amazon has certainly done that and we should always be careful not to punish someone for being successful.

Yet we also have to make sure that competition is free and that one company or group can’t dominate others and, by doing so, eventually make consumers pay more by those tactics. And that’s why we have anti-trust laws, to keep companies from hindering competition. And we may need to look to see if Amazon has become so large that it’s doing that. When Amazon announces that it’s entering a market, whether it be grocery delivery or web technology services, it immediately becomes a major player and is able immediately own a major market share that can signal a power that can drive out competition and hurt consumers. And Amazon may be unique in that it can do that across so many industries, which of itself may indicate a growing power to distort the market for consumers.  When most of us think of Amazon, we think of the online retail version where we do our Christmas shopping  But Amazon has gotten far past being a retailer and is into transportation, is now is a major player in technology and cloud computing, has announced a venture into health care, among others. When it gets large enough to use its power in one sector to immediately be a player in several other sectors of the economy, it deserves a look by anti-trust regulators.


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