The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Open Thread

Use this post to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts. (So, no Covid convo, for example.)


How The Metaphysics Of Capitalism Destroyed The World


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – July 25, 2021


  1. I thought this was interesting–suicide rates among youth and teens dropped when school was out of session during the pandemic. When young people and teens were forced to return to school, suicide rates went back to their previously high level. Not only that, but according to the link, the correlation between school and suicide rates has been known for some time–rates always go down in the summer and increase in the fall:

    This recalls something Ian wrote a bit ago: Do Adults Really Not Remember School Sucked?

    I didn’t like school, and I remember that almost no kid I ever met, even those who did, preferred school to days off…School is, well, mostly bad. It teaches things slowly, it mostly trains obedience, and it’s a social horror show. When we say social dynamics are like high school, we never mean anything good, and there are dozens of movies about how awfully students treat each other. And most of what is taught in school and university is quickly forgotten.

    This confirms my belief (and my lived experience) that even a “standard, normal” childhood in America basically amounts to child abuse. We’ve been warehousing children in these unnatural Lord of the Flies environments for less than a century; it seems the most cruel thing we could possibly do. It’s psychological torture on a societal level. It certainly influenced my decision to never have children.

    School is clearly designed not for learning, but as a holding pen so both parents can go to work earning money for rich capitalists. It clearly doesn’t take twelve years to learn to read and write sufficiently, which is all that’s really needed for participation in society (the rest is basically self-taught–no one can force you to learn anything you don’t actually want to).

  2. bruce wilder

    I never had children because I never could imagine being able to sustain my economic commitment to them for twenty years in a world that always seemed determined to keep me precarious.

  3. Ian Welsh

    Nice catch Chad11, may use it for an article. Thanks.

  4. Willy

    I must’ve gotten lucky in high school. I should’ve been a prime target for bullying as one of those very late growth spurt guys with the added bonus of being young for my grade. Yet I never really was a target for serial bullying. Maybe I was just good at laying low. For any dissatisfactions with my status I usually blamed my parents who I viewed as extremely naïve and “uncool”.

    But I did notice that alpha males tended to command a far larger harem of women than made rational sense. I’d think that even immature high school girls would’ve had the sense to know that males ‘above their station’ could never be more than a fantasy. People hang with their own kind, right? Yet I knew a lot of otherwise nice and intelligent girls who fawned over dumb jock assholes. So I’m gonna go ahead and play devils advocate here and blame the women. The irrational impulses of femaleness is what makes high school a living hell, for some.

    Which brings me to Jordan Peterson. He once made the claim that most Americans would’ve been Nazis in Germany. Then somebody noted that Nazis never got more than a third of the vote and only a tenth of Germans were ever party members and that lots of people got the hell out when they took power. I think that more accurate is that the few can control the many if they know how. And that it’s in high school that kids are beginning to understand this.

  5. @ChadH

    School is designed for learning. Learning how to behave and think in the ways society and those with power want you to. Learning truths and topics society and the powerful “benevolently” dictate are important. School teaches people how to obey authority rather than use critical thinking. “Teacher says so. The textbook says so.” Kids who don’t get with this program are deemed as mentally ill and forcibly addicted to meth/cocaine like stimulants. The lesson being obey or be punished.

  6. In Episode 1,117, of ‘Bannon’s War Room’, Bannon interviews a woman who is a leader in gathering legal support for the ‘insurrectionists’, and their families, which have been targeted by the corrupt FBI for ruination. Because jailing people for 6 months is so appropriate for a misdemeanor trespass, it being such an existential threat, ya know? You all remember the coup attempt of Jan 6, don’t you? Where the insurrectionists forgot to bring even a single pea shooter, because who in their right mind would go up against Capitol Police, who were armed with pistols, without having a scary response, of their own?

    The guy with the horns was a clever exception. He had 2 deadly weapons mounted on his head, but everybody assumed he was just a colorful nut. I wonder how many Capitol Police he gored to death.

    Anyway, afterwards, he had on Darren Beattie, who broke the story about FBI collaborators on Revolver news. (And followed up with evidence for it being an FBI setup, not just an infiltrated operation.) He asked obvious questions along the lines of “where are the Republicans?” including President Trump

    So, Beattie doesn’t overtly call Trump a feckless coward, like I do; instead he pulls his punches, enough for Steve Bannon, by diplomatically saying “I think it’s about time that the GOP politicians stopped being the most worthless creatures on the planet, and give this the attention it deserves…and people need to address it. And frankly, I think that includes former President Trump. I think he needs to show leadership on this.”

  7. bruce wilder

    Schools sort people out. Teaching anything useful for a humane life, for a citizen or even a worker is incidental, something wedged in there by people trying to make something good out of an institution designed to warehouse and to reproduce the social and economic hierarchy.

    There are teachers and “educators” idealistically trying something else — and they fail like priests and preachers trying to make saints and for many of the same reasons.

    Most students are taught failure, before, like Afganistan, they are abandoned by professionals who take no responsibility for the failure.

  8. Jason

    In the final episode of Steve Bannon’s War Room, he interviews the Chinese billionaire he’s in bed with. Stay tuned!

  9. Jason

    Oh yeah, and the vaccines aren’t working, and the vaccinated are beginning to show higher viral loads.

    Have a good weekend.

  10. nihil obstet

    Part of school’s mandate is to justify the status of most people as prey for the elites. Financial literacy courses are a current craze. High schoolers can learn about things like the “true cost” of credit, so they’ll be able to borrow money responsibly. This means that money lending doesn’t need to be regulated.

    The alternative would be to mandate that clear and direct information be provided at the time of the borrowing. It would be simple enough to create a one-page 14-point-text form that lenders must fill in and supply to prospective borrowers, stating “You are applying for $______ at _____% interest. This table shows how much you will have paid at the end of the debt. . . .”

    Generally, when the schools are instructed to teach students how to navigate modern society, a purpose is to maintain the corporate right to mislead customers.

  11. Synoptocon

    Public school sucked – like 0 mm Hg, hard vacuum, interplanetary space suck.

    Private school was pretty good. Smarter teachers, different expectations, no “more convenient for teacher trumps better for student” bullshit, no administration afraid of parents *and* teachers…

  12. Joan

    The issue with schooling is a complicated one because being home with my stay-at-home parent would have been worse. I don’t know what percentage of children are born to neurotic/emotionally abusive parents, but for me school was better. I’m lucky I was never physically bullied at school, though I was teased very often.

    My childhood was spent isolated in a suburban home, so I couldn’t go anywhere without Mommy Taxi, and well, the taxi decided I should just stay home with her!

    Anyway, surely over-centralization is part of the problem, because it leads to super crowded schools. My high school was packed. I hardly got to sit in a chair, because the first thirty kids into the room sat in chairs, and the next twenty kids sat on the floor around them.

    The only upside to a huge packed school is they had an Advanced Placement program, oops, that they canceled my junior year!

  13. Hugh

    Education, especially public education, in the US was instituted to create a well formed citizenry to ensure both freedom and prosperity. It is also why there were laws prohibiting slaves learning how to read.

    Education now is actively discouraged. An informed populace might just wonder at the unrestrained greed of our unproductive, parasitic rich and self-serving, self-perpetuating elites. Ignorance as a ruling strategy works. Just look at the comments. They’re conspiracies, delusions, and lies nonstop.

    Metamars cites fascist and fraudster Steve Bannon using the old “deny, delay, and trivialize” approach that our powers that be have been using since forever. As does Jason taking no responsibility for the 600,000 dead from covid his malevolent stupidity helped produce.

    Democracy in the US, a well formed citizenry, such good ideas. Maybe we should try them sometime.

  14. Jason

    As does Jason taking no responsibility for the 600,000 dead from covid his malevolent stupidity helped produce.

    I take full responsibility Hugh. I’m going on “Tucker” next week to tell him to shape up as well.

    Best wishes. I love you.

  15. Hugh

    Jason, deny, delay, trivialize. Check.

  16. NR

    I’m not going to address Jason’s unsubstantiated comment about vaccines, because Ian asked for no COVID discussion on this post, but it is an example of something you see a lot here, and on many other websites/social media of course. And that is the unfortunate reality that it takes much, much more time and effort for someone to debunk and disprove right-wing lies than it does for right-wingers to invent those lies in the first place. And then when someone does go through the trouble to disprove their lies, they don’t acknowledge it, they just move on to the next lie, and the next, and the next, and the next. That’s just the way it works on the modern internet where anyone can lie about anything and not only do they suffer no consequences for doing so, they are often actually rewarded for it through more traffic to their websites or social media accounts, which translates (directly or indirectly) to more $$$ in their pockets.

    This fact has thoroughly poisoned our public discourse, and I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse in the future, not better. “A lie can make it halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on” has never been more true than it is today.

  17. someofparts

    Teenager was a concept that did not exist before Madison Avenue invented it in the 40s. I think extended years of education has happened because widespread middle class wealth emerged and parents needed to be a jobs to keep the machine running.

    I was struck by the fact that the older Abrahamic faith communities, Jews and Catholics, each have a public rite of passage that happens at the point when a child becomes old enough to have children of their own. It makes me think that before we had a large, well-to-do middle class and the attendant years of schooling required to sustain it, the distinction between being a child or an adult was simple. In a funny way, locking people old enough to have children in schools and expecting them to be celibate little drones until they are on the brink of their twenties is bound to be a strain.

  18. It is interesting how in 2021 not blindly believing marketing spin from corporations who’ve been fined billions for fraud by the “corporations have more rights than people” US courts is “right wing.” Next we’ll find out that believing people should have the right to control their own bodies is “right wing.” Oh wait, we are already there.

  19. Hugh

    There is no such thing as an absolute right. All rights are made possible and balanced by one’s duties and responsibilities as a citizen and member of society.

    Where society has an overriding interest, it can limit a right. You have no Freedom of Speech right to yell Fire in a movie theater or infect your neighbors.

  20. Ché Pasa


    “They are casting their problems at society. And, you know, there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours.” – That British shopkeeper, the first female PM, in an interview in Women’s Own in 1987

    Who knew when she said that, it would become doctrine not only in Britain but nearly everywhere in the Anglosphere as well as most of the West. Only now, there’s little interest or obligation to look after one’s neighbours either, is there?

  21. NR

    “Next we’ll find out that believing people should have the right to control their own bodies infect other people with a deadly virus is “right wing.” Oh wait, we are already there.”

    Fixed that for you.

  22. Hugh

    99.999% of who we are or even that we are we owe to our society. So the libertarian and neoliberal trick is deny that debt we owe each other even to the point of denying society itself. It is profoundly dishonest but can be used to justify any inequality and repudiate any obligation we have to others.

  23. “Drugs without evidence of safety forced on all because the corporate seller says it prevents 0.8% of people from catching a virus that has a mortality rate below 0.13%. Anyone disagreeing with forced experimental drugging is a ring-winger.”
    -Person pretending she/he isn’t a sophist despot.

  24. bruce wilder

    Good little Democrats, blaming the deplorables, never noticing the incompetence and authoritarianism that “their side” is engaged in.

    “Divide and rule” is a very old strategy, but one meant to paralyze and disable democracy. Why participate in such nonsense?

    Other people are going to have views and preferences that contrast with your own. Human politics are an expression of human ambivalence; every doubt, prejudice, take, notion, suspicion, conviction, reaction “they” express, you have in you; they just select differently from their inner chaos. Your views, even if more considered, are incomplete, too, with regard to the human experience.

    We don’t have to sing kumbaya. I am not saying that. I am saying insults and labels and denial drawn from a tendentious, partisan narrative as seen on teevee or twitter are not intelligent arguments.

    And, it is not about anyone here being right. It is about noticing how narrative drives unnecessary division and alienation, while distracting attention from the failures of elite authority to perform adequately in stewarding the polity they lead or manipulate.

  25. Astrid

    Given that there is indisputable evidence that vaccinated people can have mild infectious Covid cases, it’s not at all clear to me who would represent the greater danger to public health. The vaccinated *may* be more likely to unknowingly spread Covid to others under the assumption that they are now free to go into crowded indoor situations and not wear a mask. They may be less infectious on average than unvaccinated individuals, but if they are less symptomatic and are out and about more, and especially if others consider them safe because if vaccination, then they could be spreading the disease further and also doing their part selection for vaccine resistant variants.

    If we had properly designed mass studies that regularly test for infections and behavior amongst the 2 groups, perhaps we can get a fuller picture. Since the FDA and CDC doesn’t actually care about public health, so we are all flying blind with no full knowledge about actual short term pro/con of vaccination, nevermind the long term impact and whether we are even able to take twice annual boosters or if they would be effective against current and future variants.

    And then there’s the policy to hoard and dispose unused vaccine doses while other countries are desperate for them to protect their most vulnerable. If you cared about human life, you would insists that the US let those unused vaccines into COVAX, rather than moralizing against people who have good reasons (side effects, time to get two shots, lack of long term testing, lack of protection or recognition for those sickened or killed by vaccine) to not take it.

    Of course, to consider any of these points might require a brain and a heart. Hugh long ago proved that he has neither. He’s just a limbic system getting triggered by specific cues to defend the Democratic party at every turn, despite claim not to be a Democrat.

  26. someofparts

    change of topic – this is about the fate of the UK now that it is not part of the EU, and also the fate of Scotland were it to go it alone – framing events in meta-strategic verities, kind of like Ian does

  27. Willy

    bruce wilder, please remind us of some socially responsible intelligence coming from the our current modern conservative side, anything which should be respected.

  28. Thomas B Golladay

    NR, demonstrates why the “left” is more dangerous than the “right.”

    Republicans didn’t censor people on social media or call for it. Democrats did and also turned on their own. Republicans didn’t burn cities and kill hundreds in the BLM riots, the Democrats did and even went on to bail the rioters out so they could commit more crimes. And the majority of the victims of BLM riots were minorities and the majority of the businesses burned down were minority owned.

    Kyle Rittenhouse, a Hispanic kid, was defending an Asian owned business being attacked by white BLM protestors and was fired upon and attacked by said BLM members. A clear case of self-defense.

    1/6/21, a few agitators and FBI provocateurs caused a riot while Trump was still speaking about protesting and noting who failed to vote to reject certification so they could be primaried. Only months later as Legal Discovery takes place are we learning the truth about how this was actually planned by the FBI along with the Whitmer Plot. So much so, they are trying to silence a former DEA Officer Mark Ibrahim who was present outside the Capitol Grounds with an FBI Informant he knew from Iraq but never entered the grounds.

    If anyone is a threat to “Democracy,” never mind we’re a Republic, then its the Democrats.

    However, this is sorting itself out as the States head towards peaceful divorce with Red States politely ignoring Biden and heading into simply not answering his phone calls. Alt-tech platforms are springing up and an entire parallel business infrastructure is building up around said Alt-tech platforms such as Gab which is in the process of creating its own bank.

    Also unlike the Democrats, the Republicans are purging and primarying out the Neocons and Pro-Israel groups out at every level of the political apparatus. What have the Democrat base actually done to get the party where it wants it? Answer is nothing as the Establishment Democrats rigged everything and bought off the leakers.

  29. bruce wilder

    I am not much for twitter, so maybe I missed the substance. I do tend to find Studebaker’s highly articulate takes very attractive, though often way too abstract.

    The EU does not protect all of its members, nor is it in operation democratic. The EU is savaging the UK to the extent that it can without reprecussion; we will see how far it can go. I do not think the viciousness of the EU’s neoliberalism and its anti-democratic nature is down to some universal tendency common to trans-national federations, but maybe I just lack examples to gain that insight.

    I do understand that small countries need trans-national alliances or federations to survive and international conflicts drove the development of larger, stronger nation-states out of fractured monarchical patrimonies, historically in Europe. The UK was formed out of English imperialism and the scaling up of England into a dominant European power. The EU was not a solution to any problem England recognized in the configuration of Europe and the EU constitution is very unlike the UK “unwritten” constitution in its architecture. The UK politicos tried very hard to set themselves up to dominate the EU as it emerged in the 1990s. Thinking that voting mattered, they insisted on adding to their portfolio of allies by adding Malta and Cyprus to an eastern expansion thought bound to favor France and Germany and found themselves flooded with immigrants and an ostracized debtor within an EU dominated by the creditors of the North, creditors which were part of England’s cultural sphere but no longer dependent on Britain.

    I do not think the UK will survive — Ireland is slipping away. But, Britain may. A UK = Britain might be a stable reduction. The ability of national self-governance to assert itself depends on escaping both the neoliberal EU and the ideological dominance of the PMC. The first is in place, but thinking outside the cloying strictures of the neoliberal consensus is less likely as the Labour Party refashions itself as a The Democratic Party, UK edition, like an exported teevee show.

  30. bruce wilder

    Willy, you misunderstand me if you think I favor the mindlessness of the nominal right over the mindlessness of the psuedo-left. It is the passionate rejection of “the other” I suggest fuels fights that do nothing but sustain the plutocratic status quo and throw off disinformation. I am saying, stop playing. Not change sides.

  31. Hey, Bruce Wilder, you can tell Willy about Steve Bannon.

    Naomi Wolf, author of “The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot”, was interviewed on the latest episode of Steve Bannon’s Warroom Pandemic Show: “Episode 1,120 – Dirty Dozen: The 12 Most Dangerous People in America”.

    Dr. Robert Malone, inventor or co-inventor of mRNA vaccine technology, is also interviewed.

    Wolf has been sounding the alarm against the takeover by totalitarians, at least since “End of America”, having studied the common techniques used by both Communists and Fascists. The US is near the end point of this process, as evidenced by vaccine passports. It’s something like #19 or #20 out of step 20.

    The Malone segments were as interesting as the Wolf segments were alarming. Malone says that it’s been Federal policy since the 50’s to suppress public information that would discourage Americans from taking vaccines. Probably the key difference, now, is that the censorious Federal policy is being amplified by Big Tech. Malone also goes into specific Fauci claims that are true, and which are lies.

  32. Hugh

    No matter what the subject the lines show up in the same places: there is the whack right in its Trump and supposedly non-Trump flavors; there is the you must hate and blame the Democrats always and for everything group, and if they think you don’t enough to satisfy them, then you are a DEMOCRAT which is the worst thing in the world for them. Somehow they always seem to end up defending and agreeing with the Trumpers but that is a coincidence we are not supposed to notice; and similar to them we even have the pro-China trolls. China is the most perfectest country around and not to say so often means you are an enemy.

    With these groups, we keep coming back to the 2 + 2 = 4 problem. Whenever reality, science, math, experience do not agree with them then reality, 2 + 2 = 4 is wrong. They can deny and make up whatever they want because they know the TRUTH.

    We live in a complicated world. We are facing existential crises. And we are not going to understand and solve any of them with people who think 2 + 2 = 4 is just another conspiracy.

  33. Mary Bennett

    I think High School as presently constituted is worthless. What I would like to see in its’ place: A minimum basic skills test taken by every American teen at about ages 12-maybe 14. That would cover practical skills, driving, typing, grow a garden, sew a simple garment, prepare a simple meal, how to read a map might be some examples, and basic knowledge of subjects like geography, natural science, civics, basic arithmetic up to first year algebra, English language (and maybe Spanish as well) comprehension, including how to write a sentence, how to write a letter or essay, etc.

    After that kids could have a choice among things like apprenticeships, including interns in business, magnet schools for science and the arts. Standards for university admission for liberals arts students, at any age from 15 or older would be extremely high, demonstrated competence in English and Spanish and perhaps one other language, detailed knowledge and understanding of world history and literature, for example. Public universities would be free for American citizens and high tuitions would be imposed for all others. My bias on this is clear and I don’t mind stating it. I think we need to give up the fantasy of cosmopolitan internationalism and take care of our own first.

  34. Willy

    Yes Bruce, just because our corrupt PTB found conservatives the more easily corruptible, doesn’t mean they don’t try to corrupt the left as well.

    You don’t exactly sound like that grifter Jordan Peterson proclaiming that I would’ve been a Nazi in 1940’s Germany. You sound more like one of those pacifists who proclaimed that fighting to keep a Nazi minority from taking over, was a bad thing.

  35. Willy

    I agreed with some of what Trump said. I utterly disagreed with most of what Trump did.

    Why is that so hard for most people to get?

  36. Willy

    It is the passionate rejection of “the other” I suggest fuels fights that do nothing but sustain the plutocratic status quo and throw off disinformation. I am saying, stop playing. Not change sides.

    By this logic, the German Nazi’s were defeated because we stopped playing with them. In the magical world of bruce, all the Germans just came together and the Nazi leaders saw all the love stacked against them and just willfully stepped down. No bruce, I do believe that we had to get in there and literally kick their asses and that this was far from our first choice.

    Why not just fight the disinformation bruce?

    I was naïve before. As always, we get the citizenry we have and not the citizenry we wish we had. Sometimes you’ve just gotta fight.

    I get frustrated by the impossibly irrational rules of our auto-moderator.

  37. Willy

    My first paragraph was a direct quote from bruce.

  38. bruce wilder

    I am sure Trump may have agreed with something Trump said, but I cannot determine what it may have been.

  39. Here’s a puzzle, which should not be attempted by the enumerate. If you’re enumerate, that will add a level of complexity which you cannot surmount, while obstructing the true point of the exercise. If you sadly fall into this bucket, you’re allowed to ask a trusted loved one what the correct answer is.

    Here ’tis:

    If you add:

    2 Nazi regimes which:
    spit on individual rights, bastardize science to fit their ideology, and ignore the Nuremberg code (e.g., against forced medical experiments)

    together with:

    2 Communist regimes which:
    spit on individual rights, bastardize science to fit their ideology, and ignore the Nuremberg code (e.g., against forced medical experiments)

    do you get:
    4 regimes which:
    spit on individual rights, bastardize science to fit their ideology, and ignore the Nuremberg code (e.g., against forced medical procedures)?

  40. js

    “I was struck by the fact that the older Abrahamic faith communities, Jews and Catholics, each have a public rite of passage that happens at the point when a child becomes old enough to have children of their own.”

    It just doesn’t though. If it’s age 15 or 16 that celebrates maturation, the average age girls have their first period is 12.5 these days, so pregnancy is possible even though fertility is not yet at it’s peak. But in no universe is this anything resembling mental adult maturity in the world as it is. It’s just not. That 13 year old girl is not really a consenting adult. Our definitions of legal adult are better formed than that. I could see high school stopping at 16 though. So a quibble over whether adulthood should be 16 or 17 or 18, okay, but it’s definitely not 12. And then letting young people pursue an adult path. An actual path that it is not just dumping them into the world to sink or swim, but training them on the actual practicalities they can use to make a living. We don’t have a society that cares about people though nor whether they are able to make a living. Uh oh.

  41. I’d like to suggest periodic Covid Open Threads, since even Covid related comments can obscure the intent of a Covid diary that is focusing on a single aspect. E.g., quarantines.

  42. NR

    Welcome to 2021, where common-sense public health measures that were completely uncontroversial a century ago are now called despotic and Nazi-esqe by neo-libertarians. Gotta love it.

    Oh, and I see that Oakchair is now posting a false COVID fatality rate to go along with his false figure for vaccine effectiveness. As I said, people can just lie without consequence on the modern internet. But it’s okay, I’m sure that won’t cause any problems for us!

  43. Willy

    I am sure Trump may have agreed with something Trump said, but I cannot determine what it may have been.

    I sure can. By observing his behavior. I guess that’s the difference between us.

  44. Willy

    I suggest a thread called “metamars speaks”. That way we don’t have to get cramps in our scrolling down finger.

  45. Wow, a Congress critter says the quiet part out loud:

    Rep. Jim Banks, one of the Republicans barred from the January 6 Committee by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has accused her of being responsible for the breakdown in security during the protest at the Capitol that day.

    It’s now July 25. Where was this guy, all this time?

    And what about the rest of the quiet part – Mitch McConnell, Deep State, Capitol Police clowns that made a conveniently brief appearance just before Ashli Babbitt was supposedly shot? And the clowns who rendered her ‘first aid’?

    Oh, and let’s never forget Trump’s cowardly silence, either.

    Also, is it just me, or is the lack of a warning by General Flynn kind of suspicious, also? As ex-head of the DIA, he should have a very good idea how color revolutions work….

  46. I suggest a thread called “metamars speaks”. That way we don’t have to get cramps in our scrolling down finger.

    That’s pretty funny, Willy! Awe, too bad you’ll never read this, though.

  47. NL

    “Welcome to 2021, where common-sense public health measures that were completely uncontroversial a century ago are now called despotic and Nazi-esqe by neo-libertarians. Gotta love it.”

    Apologies for this post, but we need to combat dysinformation…

    Absolutely not true, in English speaking countries, vaccination has always been controversial and always imposed onto the population through punitive measures. I have talked here about the Leicester experiment, which sprung out of the anti-vaccine movement in mid 1800s and did well in terms of combating small pox. The city relied on test, trace and isolate + selective vaccination of health care professionals. Likewise, whether vaccines or sanitation defeated the diseases of early industrial age is also debatable — sanitation improvement began before mass vaccination and when vaccination for many disease started, these disease (whooping cough, measles) were already on a major decline. The New Deal was also about sanitation. One example, I quote from elsewhere:

    “In 1939, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, and his New Deal Public Works Administration (PWA), wrote: “Water is life. Apparently this fundamental fact must be learned on the battlefront of experience again and again. When this lesson is forgotten, even for a moment, the consequences are immediate and disastrous” (America Builds: The Record of PWA, 1939, p. 169). This is why Ickes approved well over 2,000 PWA-financed waterworks projects across the nation. We are still using many of these projects today, significantly past their intended lifespans.”

  48. bruce wilder

    Nearly twenty years ago, I was happy to identify myself with the “reality-based community” and make jokes about “facts having a liberal bias” and criticize the press for false balance and “the view from no where”. I identified as a Democrat, and shrugged off the more cringe-worthy assertions of my partisan allies. I was sure we all agreed that the invasion of Iraq was criminally bad policy with catastrophic consequences, the rise of unregulated finance and the export of industrial jobs were bad for the country and single-payer was how we should reform health care. I voted for Obama and I found out I was wrong. I found out that my views and values were neither widely shared nor respected by the political classes in elective office or media.

    The truth of Obama’s administration was that he continued the Bush Administration’s economic and foreign policy, even retaining some personnel. There was no reform or reversal. The only change was aesthetic: the quality of empty rhetoric improved with respect to its grammar. The Democratic electoral coalition required a different style of manipulative management, a set of narratives that left Obama’s failures and betrayals uncriticized and the failure to address the interests of its voting constituents unmentioned or blamed on the devilish Republicans.

    I got off the bus. I did not vote for Obama a second time. I did not vote in the general election of 2020 at all. I wondered at the sanity of people who thought Biden v Trump posed a choice. (I thought the top of the tickets was a fu to America.)

    The narratives that now hide, excuse and protect the deep corruption of the Democratic Party and not incidentally fail to oppose the reactionary economic agenda of the Republicans are distasteful to me. Hugh talks of 2 + 2 = 4 as if simple truths were getting a hearing in the discourse, and I do not see that they are, or really need to be. It is not simple truths that are being denied; the problem is that complex or inconvenient truths are not being exposed or discussed at all.

    Democrats attacked Trump for years as a virtual traitor on the basis of Russiagate, a completely imaginary scandal. Does Willy imagine that was a fight worth having, with Rachel Maddow filling the air with groundless speculation? Why would anyone of good will want to join that farce?

    It is a matter of unquestioned dogma that Trump’s appeal is “racist” and that is all any right-thinking folks need to know about Trump and his supporters. That is very convenient for Democrats who want to veal pen their minority voters.

    You can have a “fight” based as much on your own side’s lies as on “theirs” but it will not accomplish anything but preserve the deteriorating status quo so satisfactory to the plutocrats and their PMC helpers.

  49. Willy

    I wondered at the sanity of people who thought Biden v Trump posed a choice.
    So did I. An idiot narcissist vs an aging neoliberal shill. Whoopee. But then, which one appears to be capable of actually feeling some heat from the economic populist segment?

    Democrats attacked Trump for years as a virtual traitor on the basis of Russiagate, a completely imaginary scandal.
    A waste of time indeed. Yet why is it impossible for Trump to have been backed by Russian elites as a useful dupe for their own purposes?

    Just because Rachel Maddow was seen on lunch dates with her friend Roger Ailes, doesn’t mean she isn’t in it soley for the money. Your point?

    You speak as if you’re only capable of seeing “sides”. Why not also see layers? Die hard racist, anti-science, reactionary Trumpians need to be mercilessly mocked. Former Trumpians who now see him as no more populist than Obama ever was, can be forgiven. New Trumpians (or neoliberals, neocons, neoapathetics…) need to be warned about the way things really work and the way things are actually heading.

    And I haven’t even gotten into the level of mental dysfunction it takes to smear feces on the Capitol walls and demand the hanging of one’s own Vice President, just because of an irrational rumor. Or to embrace a single beloved information source as Absolute Truth.

  50. Hugh

    The Democrats are worthless, and the Republicans are fascist. Bipartisanship with fascists is suicidal idiocy. You do not play nice with them. You fight them, period. Trump is a carnie. Biden was running fifth or sixth in the Democratic field until he was anointed their nominee. It was a dreadful choice, but Trump is a fascist and Biden for all his faults and sell-outs isn’t. That’s about all you can say for him.

  51. someofparts

    js – Sounds like I got things wrong as to the role of confirmations or bat mitzvahs. I was absolutely talking about traditions I only have second-hand familiarity with.

    I don’t think anyone is ready for adult responsibilities by their mid-teens in the world we live in these days. I did, however, wonder if the ages when the young were considered old enough to shoulder adult roles was younger in times and places less complex than the ones we live in these days. I do believe there have been, and continue to be, places where girls that young are treated as adults who begin having children, although I’m sure we agree that this is not a good thing.

    As far as ideas about alternatives to our current school arrangements go, Mary Bennett’s ideas seem interesting.

  52. someofparts

    bruce wilder – Your response to the Studebaker twitter thread I post was just over my head. I tried to learn a thing of two from it, but I don’t begin to know enough about the situation to have a useful response.

  53. bruce wilder

    “Trump is a fascist and Biden for all his faults and sell-outs isn’t.”

    I suppose it depends delicately on what one means by “fascist”. If “fascist” in our 21st century context means corruptly merging the state with corporate business interests to authoritarian ends, such as pervasive censorship, Biden (or maybe Harris?) seems to be on task toward implementing fascism.

    It seems to me that Hugh bases his “fascist” quotient on his aesthetic appreciation rather than policy or politics. Trump likes to pose like Mussolini, so he must be the primary fascist threat. The former Senator from MBNA who wants to recycle public assets to private equity as a substitute for desperately needed infrastructure investment — he gets a pass. Help Facebook with its censorship program — he gets a pass. Lets his son secretly auction his “art” — gets a pass.

  54. Mark Pontin

    @ someofparts —

    Studebaker’s Twitter comment: “When you’re a small country inside a regional federation, you can join with other small countries to protect your interests”

    Yes. Again, that’s worked so well for Greece, hasn’t it?

    ‘The burden of disease in Greece, health loss, risk factors, and health financing, 2000–16: an analysis of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016’

    To precis it very roughly, 50,000 or so Greeks died because Merkel in Germany and Hollande in France were unwilling to tell their electorates they had to bail out German and French banks, and so the bailout to those banks was carried out through the backdoor of Greece with 92-93 percent of those funds going directly to commercial financial institutions in Northern Europe and never touching the Greek economy.

    Moreover, this was done at the same time that Mario Draghi at the ECB was initiating his policy of doing “whatever it takes” in terms of quantitative easing. The entire Greek debt would turn out to be less than a couple months of ECB money printing.

  55. Ché Pasa

    Binaries = Death

    Team A is not all right; Team B is not all wrong. Politics is nasty business and everybody hates it. Totalitarianism, fascism, personality cults of the Righteous Leader, none are any better, and all are ultimately worse.

    To claim that there are only two sides, and only one is right, the other wrong is a fool’s game that Our Rulers love to see us play. Summertime’s a great time for ginning up this sort of thing, and so it is, so it will be, at least as long as finding the Missing White Woman no longer captures rapt attention.

    What we see of our politicians is more for amusement and entertainment while they do their deviltry behind the scenes out of sight of the masses. And they all do deviltry. It’s baked in.

    What we see of our Overlords is even less, and we can believe they are up to no good whatever.

    Ian says we must discipline our elites or (paraphrase) they will devour us and the Earth along with us, and he’s right.

    Yet no one has found a perfect — and successful — way to do it.

  56. Hugh

    I talk about the hate the Democrats no matter what crowd and there pops up bruce wilder right on schedule. And of course for him the real fascists are Biden and son. Why? Because they’re Democrats. And fierce progressive that he is, he somehow manages to give Trump a pass. I don’t know why he can’t just say he supports Trump because he always ends up defending him or changing the subject back to his hatred of the Democrats when his name comes up.

  57. nihil obstet

    Hugh, those interested in good policy rather than in the political brand management propaganda game show why rewarding the two legacy parties with your vote will never change anything. It’s just binary thinking.

    The powers that be demand that we have a two party system and then demand that everything should be “bipartisan”. The Republicans don’t argue for bipartisanship. The Democrats do. The Republicans are pretty upfront about using all the power they can grab. The Democrats pretend to the high ground. For most “centrists”, going after the Republicans is refusing to accept a confession, not taking yes for an answer.

  58. Jim Harmon

    There are nuttier folks on the left than Rachel Maddow. Here’s Keith Ollbemann spewing Nazi-like filth at Russians:

    (Fast forward to 5:40 to see and hear him bellowing “Russian Scum!”)

  59. China’s first commercial nuclear thorium reactor slated to arrive in 2030

  60. Hugh

    Nihil, I am concerned about the rise of fascism in the US. The business as usual vacuous Democrats versus Republicans paradigm no longer captures what’s going on.

  61. Jason

    Binaries = Death

    Yes. That’s why they reduce everything to a binary.

    But it’s not much of a binary. Pepsi tastes slightly different from Coke, but they’re both flavored carbonated sugar water. The substance is the same. And there’s no difference between Lowe’s and Home Depot.

    We could use a political True Value or Ace Hardware.

  62. Plague Species

    Unlike bruce wilder, I have never considered myself a democrat let alone a republican.

  63. Jason

    I got off the bus. I did not vote for Obama a second time. I did not vote in the general election of 2020 at all. I wondered at the sanity of people who thought Biden v Trump posed a choice. (I thought the top of the tickets was a fu to America.)

    My “political awakening” followed a somewhat similar course, but 9/11 and my “research” into the events of that day in the early 2000’s was the beginning of my “coming of age.” In hindsight, I of course should have known that Obama was a fraud, simply by virtue of the environments and systems that produced him.

  64. nihil obstet

    Hugh, sorry I don’t understand your comments on the “hate the Democrats” crowd. You’ve seemed to defend the Democrats, so that I at least have thought you were a Democratic Party loyalist, maybe hoping for a few tweaks.

  65. Hugh

    Nihil, I was thinking of bruce. Whenever the subject of Trump or the Republicans comes up, bruce will use it as an excuse to go off at length against Biden and the Republicans. I always think of bruce as the king of false equivalency. Trump, for example, is a climate change denier. The Democrats could do a lot more on it but at least they don’t deny it and are doing something however small. Bruce may or may not have a line about Trump and then we get paragraph after paragraph lambasting the Democrats.

    I’ve been an independent all my life. Bruce to me is what I would call a disappointed Democrat. They obsess, obsess, obsess on the Democrats. I wish they would just get over it. Not everything is about the Democrats, or principally about them, or squint real hard until you see them. And it tended to minimize and even defend some of the really bad stuff Trump was doing. And like all propaganda it tends to stick. So I become a Democrat because I don’t buy into his simplistic, binary view.

    As I look through these threads I see very little discussion or analysis. Except for a handful of comments, its Trumpers, hate-Democraters, and pro-China all the time.

  66. js

    “I did not vote for Obama a second time. I did not vote in the general election of 2020 at all. ”

    That’s a problem as there were really critical bills on the ballot in CA, like the Uber bill. It does all everyone has said, sets a nationwide precedent for treating employees as contractors. It was a big win for anti-labor forces. And no it can’t be organized around, that’s forbidden. Now of course nothing is won or lost on one vote, but I can’t even see being so angry at Biden and Trump not to vote on that and mail in votes were counted as was handing in a ballot etc..

    The President was the last thing on the ballot. I hesitated and thought about voting Green (the only other issue I hesitated on was a strictly local bond measure) because CA does not determine the Presidential election (nor the Dem nominee, remember we voted for Sanders as a state – we’re big and blue and nobody really cares about us at the end of the day). I hesitated and voted for Biden in the general without regret. But why when my vote doesn’t even matter? Because if Trump won I wanted to register my protest to his regime, as insignificant as such a vote is.

  67. nihil obstet

    While there are commenters on this list whose absence or at least brevity I would welcome, there are commenters who are attempting to discuss what’s going on in the world. In terms of either reality or propaganda or both, I read you as reducing it all to two sides and expecting equivalency between the two.

    I find Bruce’s comments interesting and frequently informative. If I want to read about China’s bad behavior, there’s always the New York Times and the Washington Post. They transcribe elite political view rather accurately. What’s missing is critical assessment of the depiction of China as a necessary target in a new Cold War. I like reading people trying to see through the imperial propaganda.

    This comment is just a push back against what I see as inaccurate summary of other interesting commenters.

  68. js

    “As far as ideas about alternatives to our current school arrangements go, Mary Bennett’s ideas seem interesting.”

    Yes, I figured stop high school at 16 (or 2 years of high school) and begin real job training at that point. But perhaps it might be better to have completed job training for some things at 16-18. But the world we are in is far too brutal for that. I mean I’d feel pity for a 16 year old dumped entirely into existing job markets. I also might want my brain or other surgeons to be at least in their mid 20s 🙂

  69. Astrid

    Anyone who comprehended what I or Che wow on China would realize we’re not pro-China and find plenty wrong with it, are uncertain about where it’s all leading, and aren’t even sure how good our current data set is. I simply know China well enough to know there’s a lot more than the USian narrative on China, and it’s one that more and the more of the world is hearing despite Hugh’s “facts”.

    I’m just excited to find a government that seems able to course correct and learn from its/other’s mistakes/experience. That should be something every decent human organization can manage, but something it’s proven impossible for Anglosphere and perhaps EU governments.

    The fact that Hugh can’t comprehend this point, after it’s been pointed out to him dozens of times, speaks both to his brain dysfunction in not reading it and mine for still trying to point this out to him (though I claim to do it for my own benefit and benefit of others with more functional minds).

  70. someofparts

    Mark Pontin – Solid painful point about Greece

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