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

Open Thread

Use the comments to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts. No comments about Covid.


Once More About Sending Your Kids Back to School


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 22, 2021


  1. Hugh

    The media hissy fit over Biden’s departure from Afghanistan continues even as polling indicates a majority of Americans supported it. This is even with conservatives who barely made a peep when Trump announced his intention to withdraw and who are now angry when Biden actually does it.

    I have been surprised at the lack of criticism of Anthony Blinken. It really was the State Department that slow walked the paperwork for the translators we promised to get out. They could have and should have been cleared out before the fall of Kabul. Where was Anthony?

    In a larger sense, the chaos of the evacuation illustrates the fact that there are millions of American and Western ex-pats around the globe living in countries of dubious stability. Even with the best of planning and communication a fair number will get caught in country when things fall apart. The problem is the large number who don’t bother even trying to come up with a personal exit plan or only try to come up with one long after it is way too late. The question is how many more Kabuls do we have in our future. How many evacuations, and beyond them refugee migrations?

  2. Plague Species

    Buck Stopping

    In otherwords, Biden appears to be a continuation of the McDonald Trump administration in regard to Afghanistan. As it is with Biden’s response and plan related to the COVFEFE-45 pandemic, it is with Afghanistan. There appears to be no distinguishable difference between Biden and McDonald aside from public relations and optics.

    Why did Biden not call the following out in public and castigate McDonald Trump and Mike Pompeo and Stephen Miller for the callous, malevolent ghouls they are. Biden could have made an Oval Office speech to the American people excoriating these ghouls for what they did and then laying out a plan for how he was going to make it right and yes, that would have required deferring, for at least a year, the withdrawal from Afghanistan because haste will always make waste, and unnecessary suffering I might add.

    Instead of doing that, Biden kept this all hidden from the American public, the perfidy of the previous administration, and by virtue of the Shit Show the current withdrawal is, Biden is now complicit with that perfidy by adopting it and extending it and by virtue of not coming clean with the American public in the sentiment of transparency he has provided cover for it.

  3. bruce wilder

    I read reports after Trump signed his withdrawal agreement with the Taliban that the Pentagon had gone merrily on renewing contracts with support contractors in Afghanistan that would have to be terminated — with penalties paid by the government — when the U.S. withdrew, as was scheduled. The implication that thousands of Americans and other foreigners or Afghan collaborators would be paid to be there for the photo op was not explored.

    I do not find it at all surprising that a military and diplomatic service that could not win a war with 2.2 billion dollars and twenty years could not manage a withdrawal either. What I do not quite understand are the Media who cannot find any voices supportive of the policy of withdrawal and critical of the Pentagon or State Department for bad planning for something that was a long time coming.

    The argument that withdrawal was rushed is absurd and ignores the sufferance given by the Taliban over the last two years as the U.S. promised withdrawal. Do these critics think the Taliban shooting at the troops to force withdrawal would produce prettier pictures?

  4. Ché Pasa

    Where are the voices of sanity and reason wrt Afghanistan? I keep hearing that Our Media does not allow the counter-narrative that withdrawal is the right thing to do, and as messy as it is, it could be far worse if the US had not reached out to the Taliban and made “certain arrangements”.

    I don’t know the truth of the claim that the counter-narrative isn’t heard, because I’ve been hearing it from the beginning, sotto voce to be sure, but it’s there. I don’t have or watch cable “news” so maybe that’s the difference?

    Medea Benjamin walks us through some of the realities and truths that the Major Mass Media is obscuring or ignoring about Afghanistan and our imperial debacle there:

    Truth is, I’m not much of a fan of Medea or Code Pink, but damn, she’s right.

    PBS NewsHour has had on many (well, compared to the other outlets) alternative voices who have made some headway against neocon overkill. They’ve actually interviewed people who’ve been on the ground outside Kabul and have witnessed for themselves why the Ameri-Nato Imperial Project was doomed, and why the Taliban were likely to succeed.

    There are lots of anti-Imperial voices on the internet, most of whom were and are right about Afghanistan, even the dreaded Glenn Greenwald.

    That these people do not dominate the cable news commentary probably inevitable. The media in general has a lot invested in the Forever War project and in the reanimation of Imperialism the way it was supposed to be. Teach those Wogs civilization! This time they’ll get it right.

    But more and more they’re learning they’ve lost. At least for the moment. And it… hurts their feelings… sniff.

    It is all very reminiscent of the media in the aftermath of the Fall of Saigon. Much running around screaming, rending of garments, gnashing of teeth. No, it didn’t go well at all. Who was to blame? Most of it fell on Ford. But we know, don’t we, that the debacle was all but pre-ordained. At least going back to the Tonkin Gulf Resolution based on falsehoods.

  5. From the “when you’ve lost Bin Laden” department, this somewhat humorous article

    says Bin Laden didn’t want his followers to target Biden for assassination, because he was incapable of leading the US, competently. Instead, they should focus on Obama and Petraeus.

  6. bruce wilder

    Petraeus? Competent?

  7. Hugh

    Obama? Competent? I would add.

  8. Plague Species

    I would say both of them were competent, just not competent in the official sense of competent. They did their job well. Glowingly, in fact. Their REAL job.

  9. bruce wilder

    Obama was the most skilled politician I have seen at the Presidential level in my lifetime.

    I only voted for him once and I felt betrayed by him. But in terms of skill in playing the game he was a master.

    “Competence” in a politician or statesman or general seems a difficult concept to grasp, not least because most of us have no experience of wielding power or authority from such heights and, not incidentally, because we have difficulty separating “good” from “great” in describing accomplishment or failure from high office.

    I do not think Biden competent. His age and incipient senility tell against him. Even when younger, he did not seem that bright to me and he conspicuously lacked personal integrity. But in a politics of model-spokesperson politicians he fits right in, fills his spot and channels his masters, even flubbing his lines as if on cue.

    It is pretty obvious the type of brain-dead conservative the NY Post targets: the guy who thinks it matters much to what is done or how, Trump v Biden. Biden’s people are marginally better at finding levers of power, perhaps, but they spend their time spinning and manipulating the media, not governing. Governing is left to business corporations and their lobbyists.

  10. different clue

    Deferring Afghan withdrawal for a year would have given the Deep State and the Contractor Industrial Complex time to sabotage the policy and delete the goal and keep the US forces in Afghanistan for years to come so the Deep State players could have their gratification and the Contractors could harvest more money.

    By pulling out the pit props, Biden allowed the Afghanistan Mine to collapse thoroughly enough that no future President will be able to send Americans back in any time soon.

    Separately, about surviving hard times, Lebanon and the Lebanese are going through very hard times just now. Those Lebanese who end up surviving in place best of all will have many lessons to offer a world of future Lebanons and future Lebanese.

    Also, I notice that Myanmar and Ethiopia are hardly being discussed anywhere. Why is this? My speculative guess is that the blame-America-first community can’t figure out how to blame America for events in Myanmar and Ethiopia, and so they consider Myanmar and Ethiopia unworthy of notice. And the hate-America community can’t figure out how to hate America for events in Myanmar or Ethiopia, so they also don’t find Myanmar or Ethiopia worthy of notice.

    I think Ethiopia is a future Yugoslavia in the making. And Myanmar could become a feast of Khmer-Rouge Cambodias, Rumanias, etc. Eventually, they will get so bad as to compel attention. But not just yet.

  11. Chuck Mire

    Doomed by corruption, shifting goals and bureaucracy from the start.

    Just like Vietnam, there was a demand for “feel good news” (inflated enemy body counts) at the expense of brutal truthfulness.

  12. Greta Thunberg has outdone herself. I imagine being a spokes-puppet for the climate change alarmism movement is keeping her in the green. In the following, she’s in shimmering copper.

    Copper, green, it’s all good! I’m sure she’ll educate herself in computer modeling and physics, so that she knows what she’s talking about. Then, we can take her even more seriously.

    “Greta Thunberg calls out fashion industry as ‘huge contributor’ to climate change… while gracing the cover of Vogue” @ rt dot com

  13. Hugh

    “a spokes-puppet for the climate change alarmism movement ”

    translation: concerned individual; antonym, metamars.

  14. Canada is having federal elections this September ahead of time since the last election was 2019.
    The 2019 election results were:
    34% C,
    33% L,
    16% NDP,
    7.5% Bloc
    6.5% Green

    8 polls were released on/after August 18th. Their results on average are:
    32% C, 33%
    L, 19%
    6% Bloc
    5% Green
    4% PPC

    Due to the first the past the post electoral system the Liberals and the NDP would likely gain seats.

    Electoral politics in the provinces have had some shifts relatively recently.
    In the 2019 Alberta election the United Conservative regained the legislature from the NDP. The current polls have the NDP with a lead ranging from a few points to double digits.

    The NDP has also polled ahead of the Conservatives by a few points to double digits in Manitoba which has elections scheduled for 2023.

    2 of the more right-wing provinces in Canada have weak to non existent Liberal parties at the province level. Interestingly the NDP which is considered more left wing is polling ahead at the province level.

    Ontario has seen the Conservative lose support but like in 2018 the split between the 3 other parties (NDP, L, and G) would mean the C would likely win again.

  15. NR

    Seeing the utter viciousness with which right-wingers attacked a teenage girl for the terrible crime of wanting a livable world was just one more piece of evidence of how utterly morally bankrupt the modern right is.

  16. different clue

    Well, if Metamars had not mentioned how Greta Thunberg had outdone herself this time, I would not have even known the matter existed to either be given thought to or not given thought to. But since Metamars brought it up, I decided to toddle on over to Vogue and see what I saw there.

    So here is where I went.
    I read the article. Including the interview bits. I didn’t see where anything Greta Thunberg had to say ran counter to any actual facts. She seemed entirely informed about the difference between “fast fashion” which she was addressing and “not fast fashion” which was not the focus of her concern in this instance. The headline did not make that clear. But how often do headlines ever make anything clear anymore, in this age of clickbait and grab-them-by-the-eyeballs?

    “Fast fashion” ? What is that anyway? And why is it a problem? An NPR program called 1A ran an episode about Fast Fashion recently, explaining some of that. Here is a link.

    What I found especially intriguing about this show is the unavoidable and growing role of China in the Fast Fashion sector. The program, without quite meaning to, shined a light on some of what is involved in China ” building prosperity for the Chinese” so quickly, but at what cost to the living planet? That is a question for the consumers of fast fashion more than for all the rest of us who are merely helpless downwind victims of the Fast Fashion craze.

    This could pose an interesting challenge for the Hansbarists to meet and defeat, if they can.

  17. different clue

    Here’s a funny political cartoon about Joe Biden and the “voices of the dismayed” over “how he wound up the Afghanistan deal”.

  18. Ché Pasa

    Major Mass Media of course has been complicit in and has often cheered whatever the warmongers want wherever and whenever they want it. This seems to be built in to the programming of the field and goes back a long way, for all intents and purposes to its origins.

    Getting rid of it means remaking the whole from the ground up, and we’re not at that point.

    “Freedom of the press” means that there are alternative voices available — though you may have to hunt to find them. No, the Major Mass Media is not obligated to feature or even acknowledge other voices than their own, and they certainly have no obligation to show or say anything about all those who were right about Afghanistan from the beginning. That’s not their job.

    I’m no great fan of Medea Benjamin or Code Pink, but here’s something from her in a fairly prominent alternative perspective news site that gets into the fact that she and a bunch of others were right from the beginning of the Afghanistan misadventure, and yes, the Major Mass Media ignores it, as they have all along.

    More voices, though, are turning up among the MMM to say that getting out is the right thing to do, and getting in was wrong.

    Some are even suggesting there is History to consider…

  19. Synoptocon

    The key in the election is going to be the turnout – how does the pandemic interact with the inefficient NDP and Con electorates.

    Barring a major misstep by one of the leaders, I have a feeling this is going to prove to be a mistake for the Liberals. If the opposition parties are able to run effectively with the notion of this being an unnecessary election – which was a poorly formed idea in the mind of the electorate when the Libs were doing their polling to decide on pulling the trigger – the Libs may find themselves with a number of unanticipated battleground ridings. I know the incumbent in my riding is worried about it and he should be – if NDP central doesn’t screw things up not listening to the riding level (which they have commonly done), they may make some significant progress. Heck, I may vote for them to spank the Libs and I think they’re a vapourware touting implementation disaster in waiting. That’s how pissed any thinking person should be.

  20. Trinity

    14 year old boy commits suicide from midtowns’s The Vessel, fourth in just two years:

    Billionaire developer states he just doesn’t understand it. “We thought we did everything that would really prevent this,” Ross said. “It’s hard to really fathom how something like that could happen.”

  21. Plague Species

    I have no doubt that kid’s death is attributed to the vaccine.

  22. @ metamars and Hugh

    Instead of addressing the issue of climate change metamars attacked the messenger. Hugh called out that bad faith post which should be done. I wonder though if Hugh has the insight to recognize that he constantly does exactly what metamars did? I find it interesting how many people seem to think it is okay for to use logical fallacies to support their opinion while everyone who doesn’t share their opinion should be held to a higher standard.

  23. @ Plague species

    According to the corporate studies done on the experimental Covid injections the injections cause over 75% of people to get sustained physical pain and cause some people to develop depression like symptoms. The injection could cause someone enough suffering to cause suicide.

  24. Hugh

    I wonder though if Oakchair has the insight to recognize that he constantly does exactly what he accuses everyone else of doing? Certainly, he wouldn’t recognize a logical fallacy if he got run over by one.

  25. Speaking as somebody who wore bell bottoms in the 70’s – the SAME bell bottoms – literally until they wore out, I’ll guess for 5 years, I’m not impressed if somebody aspires to ecological virtue by avoiding “fast fashion”, while still appearing on the cover of a fashion magazine. That was the extreme example, because I particularly liked the way those pants were cut, with the outside side seams curving inwards and meeting about 1/3 below the belt line. (I’m hard to fit. Alas, never saw pants like that, again, even without the bell bottoms, which I’m indifferent to.) But I generally wear clothes that I buy until they wear out (as opposed to clothes that are given me as gifts, which I tend to give away, and not wear at all.) Those pants’ lasted a lot longer than most clothes I buy, except maybe blue jeans.

    How many sets of new clothing does the average Vogue magazine consumer get, per year? Not per 5 years, but per year.

    Somewhere on youtube, there’s a very well done video about built-in obsolescence. They mentioned the well-known deliberate degradation of nylon stockings by manufacturers. I don’t remember if they mentioned outerwear, but I remember my mother telling the story of how she used to buy a brand of pants for us when we were kids, called “Billy the Kid”, that “lasted forever”. At some point, such clothes were not for sale.

    Maybe Greta Thunberg could address built in obsolescence, instead of an extreme iteration of it – even if upsets greenie virtue signallers who are as ignorant of climate science as she is. As Denis Rancourt says, the way to fight against pollution is to fight against pollution, not fight a proxy issue that you don’t understand.

    Ooo, I can’t wait to find out Greta Thunberg’s position on $1 throwaway masks, vs. (what should be, but isn’t, in the US) cheap ivermectin. I’m sure it’s similarly enlightened, and accurately reflects a rational cost/benefit analysis, as opposed to whatever superficial memes her handlers are telling her to champion.

    Anybody wanna bet that Greta Thunberg has had even 1 second of reflection on whether her “listen to the (climate) scientists” plea might have been reconsidered in light of what a horrible job the medical scientists have done to a good deal of the world, wrt covid? Or is she so superficial that she fails to notice that the “follow the science” mantra is rarely backed up, at all, much less with fraudulent ‘science’ like the crap, retracted articles attacking hydroxychloroquine, fudged Surgisphere data, and all?

    Having said all that, I wasn’t aware that “fast fashion” was more than marginally faster than the already fast fashion that was common (relative to a cheapskate like myself), and reinforced with built-in obsolescence. So, good on her to draw attention to that, because it is a thing. But appearing on the cover of Vogue undercuts her credibility, whether you like it or not. Not that she had much credibility to begin with.

  26. Jason

    I feel sorry for Greta Thunberg. Her parents desperately wanted their daughter to be an actress. That desperation doesn’t usually bode well for the kid. Cory Morningstar and “Wrong Kind of Green” do excellent work outing these types of astroturf campaigns.

    It perhaps should be more concerning that someone like a Chris Hedges supports “Extinction Rebellion” and is on board with the same soylent green fantasies that give Bill Gates orgasms.

    Is Hedges simply ill-informed? Is this simply a case of the proverbial “strange bedfellows? Or is there more to Chris Hedges than we’re led to believe?

  27. different clue


    I have read that Thunberg may also have some mild level of autism or aspergers or some such thing. Hopefully she will learn more about different things and stuff over time. That said, I still don’t remember her interview featuring any factually unfounded or unbased statements.

    I am disappointed to hear that Chris Hedges may be some sort of Gatesian. It goes to show that people can be right about some things and wrong about others at the very same time. Like Hedges being right about Clinton and Free Trade and wrong about Gates at the very same time.

    So we do the best we can. We learn things. We see what has been happening around us over the last few decades. We try finding out if anyone predicted these things. If anyone did, we try finding out if these things happened the way they predicted them. If they did, we suspect it was their theory of the subject-at-hand which allowed them to predict these things. If any one else had a counter-theory at the same time which allowed them to make as many correct predictions about the same events, then we have to look deeper because in that case the counter-theory was just as predictive as the theory.

    Can anyone offer a real-time example over the last few decades of a theory and its counter-theory both leading to the same predictions with the same accuracy?

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