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Open Thread

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Stopping Sinema and Manchin From Electing Donald Trump


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – October 24, 2021


  1. Willy

    Attacking the left from the left to become “so frustrated with the left” that one turns right (and all that money), is such an old grift that there should be a name for it. Something pithier and catchier than “Sucking Off Plutocrats With Too Much Money To Spend”.

    Musk’s goal-directed results-oriented status quo does seem preferable to Boeing’s expensive failure general incompetency status quo. Maybe the latter is the end game of unrestricted government pork, while the former is also the end game of unrestricted government pork. As Ian has often noted, wealth and power cannot be allowed to be refuges from punishment due to incompetency. And we can’t go around creating more problems from “solutions” which then need to be “solved”. Spending on infrastructure has to have competency strings attached.

    But that’s way off the topic of Manchin threatening to turn Republican if his donors don’t get his way

  2. bruce wilder

    Yesterday, Lambert Strether in NC links, listed a Bloomberg article,
    “How Donald Trump, Elon Musk, and Gwyneth Paltrow Short-Circuit Your Ability to Think Rationally”

    I am interested in the tricks of what might be called, rhetorical hypnosis, but this article was not just superficial, but decidedly odd. It was decidedly “one-sided” in its choice of examples, drawing all its current examples from a blue urn, but that is standard journalistic practice these days.

    The last example in the article was this word salad:

    Secondary Infektion is a multiyear effort that originated in Russia to plant fake and forged material across the internet in Europe and the U.S., according to the research firm Graphika, which said the intent was to seed conflict and create confusion. Material such as faked correspondence among U.S. senators was meant to set Americans against Turkey, while documents, photos, and videos were attributed falsely to groups that included the Committee to Protect Journalists and Greenpeace.

    Talk about being lost in the forest! Or is the whole article intended to do what it is reporting on: spread disinformation and confusion?

  3. Hugh

    Manchin and Sinema who are Democrats are destroying the spending bills and with them, the Democrats’ chances in the 2022 elections. So naturally, it is up to Bernie Sanders who isn’t a Democrat to try what he can for the Democrats. All this stuff is a lot easier to follow if you assume it is, and has been from the start, an exercise in bad faith.

  4. bruce wilder

    Speaking of bad faith, Neera Tanden is the new Staff Secretary. She hates Bernie, as famously documented on Twitter and Manchin hates Neera, having vetoed her appointment as OMB chief.

  5. Mary Bennett

    If you insist and persist in the practice of favoritism for self-absorbed lookers the likes of Sinema is what you get. Then us more ordinary women have to clean up the messes all the Sinemas, Palins, etc. leave behind in their quests for excitement and attention. Is it any wonder that many of us ordinaries among American women ain’t too impressed with a lot of American men–very much including so-called Alphas–at the present time?

  6. NL

    To prevent prices for food and other everyday items from rising, the FED needs to stop direct lending to businesses and stop directing commercial banks to lend for unproductive activity, and Congress needs to stop government from creating money through taking on more debt. Pandemic funding must end, because the pandemic is over to the extent that we accepted it and learned to live with — this is our new normal.

    What I would like to see is the Congress getting conscientious and passing next fiscal year’s budget on time, instead of having these seemingly never ending continuation bills.

  7. someofparts^tfw

    regarding a tour of the port complex at Long Beach

    if the clowns in government can’t put aside their stinking greed long enough to fix this mess we should march on Washington and torch the place

  8. someofparts

    scroll to the top of the page that twitter link takes you to to begin the start of the thread

  9. Hugh

    The port problem seems like a pure management issue that could be seen coming a couple of months out and required secondary storage facilities to move goods out of ports and end users triaging and prioritizing their shipments to reduce spot shortages. We have these things called computers and this seems like just the thing where they would come in useful. But that would take some management, and apparently no one does that anymore.

    On another subject, a one or ten trillion dollar platinum coin would eliminate the need for the government to take on any more debt. Nor am I sure what is accomplished by ignoring the pandemic simply because it is inconvenient dealing with it.

  10. As soon as the Ports of LB/LA stopped requiring ships to take away their share of empty containers — creating a clog in the pipe as it were — paralysis was inevitable. In theory, the containers are managed by leasing companies. Want to bet the flood of Fed money took critical pressure off the leasing companies? Just speculation on my part, but financial senility is everywhere for a reason.

    Another observation: truckers won a huge lawsuit over a system that kept truck drivers at the Ports in queues up to 10 hours long and unpaid. But, the court decision still did not require they be paid for being stuck waiting going forward. So why manage?

  11. Mark Pontin

    ‘if the clowns in government can’t put aside their stinking greed long enough to fix this mess’

    To be clear, you’re under a misapprehension about how things really work because the ‘clowns in government’ are exactly that — performance artists or front men (and women) put in place for the American populace to observe and think that they’re seeing something real. Almost all the actual work of policymaking and governance — such as it is — is done by the lobbyists, who are the actual competent operators in DC (to the extent, competence exists at all).

    Thus, if the LA/Long Beach mess gets fixed, it’ll be because the behind-the-scene operators have cared about it enough for somebody to go there, understand the problem, and work out a deal.

  12. Mark Pontin is right, of course, as far as it goes, though I think lobbyists as a class understand how the Congress and the regulatory apparatus work, not how the actual economy works. For that, they are dependent on cadres of staff experts in a mix of large corporations and specialist consulting service firms, cadres that have been steadily diminished over time by the pressures of financialization.

    Even though the fundamental problems — the most acute ones at least — might seem obvious and could be modeled quantitatively by any graduate student with a mastery of queuing theory (which is far from rocket science, as they say), imbuing an official with appropriate legal authority to tell the various administrative hierarchies what to do in a way that it happens is more difficult than figuring the technical requirements of an effective plan of operation. And that assumes the people doing the doing have enough hours in the day and do not fall over each other due to naive “commands” from on high.

    On a higher, meta-level, I suppose we are seeing what happens when our overly complex systems have to move to a lower state of complexity to function and the System resists.

  13. Hugh

    Maybe somebody should ask Walmart how many Christmas trees they expect to sell in January.

  14. bruce wilder

    In other news (Maeve Sheehey, POLITICO):

    The U.S. is nearing a formalized agreement with Pakistan to use its airspace to conduct operations in Afghanistan, according to a CNN report Saturday. . . . Pakistan “expressed a desire” to sign a Memorandum of Understanding in exchange for help with its counterterrorism efforts with India, though negotiations are ongoing, CNN reported on Saturday.

    Nothing evil is ever allowed to just end. It has to go on and give birth to more evil, because what would be more fun than stepping into Pakistan’s propagation of terror against India (or vice-versa)?

    Meanwhile, just as Hugh foresaw, the Taliban find the Afghan economy in freefall with the withdrawal of Western aid from state pipelines.

  15. different clue

    @Bruce Wilder,

    I read the paragraph you offered, starting with the words Secondary Infektion. I see the words. Where is the salad?

  16. Hvd

    What makes you think that there is any urgency in solving this “problem”. This is just another case of squeezing out the retail competition who desperately need to move product to survive while the oligopolitic retailers live off huge capital bankrolls. All of this just forces up prices for those same oligopolists who I’m sure can afford to get first call on product coming out of the ports now and then to get fat on as the logjam starts to clear.

    All of this while creating just the right sort of political turmoil. This trifecta of win-win-win certainly beats the Chinese paltry win-win schemes.

  17. Bridget

    Nothing evil is ever allowed to just end.

    No, the Truman Show continues. The substantive agreement with Pakistan was already in place well in advance. The narrative fit for public consumption is being released now.

  18. different clue


    Those mere citizen-consumers who understand the problem in these terms can’t do anything to affect the political side of a system which has denied us any effective access to its levers, knobs and dials of power.

    So what can we do? We can passively-defensively buy from small retail and wait as patiently as we can for “things” to “arrive” there, and we can avoid spending at Big Box and we can refuse to spend ever at Big Bezos. If enough citizen-consumers direct their spending at the sort of small retail they wish to keep existing, they might help just enough of it to survive to avoid drowning in the flood of Big Bezos. If we can keep some little isolated bits of small retail alive for the duration, they might still exist if changing conditions exterminate Big Bezos. If that happens, and if little refugia of small retail survive, they can innoculate the abandoned stripmine-scape left behind by Big Bezos.

  19. dc: “Where is the salad?”

    This paragraph was ostensibly offered by way of illustrative example, but reference to a specific example of the technique, its application and effect is effectively omitted. The paragraph appears grammatically correct, but where one is looking for subject, verb, object with definite referents, there are instead vague abstractions. “originated in Russia” obfuscates the intentional actor (I am presuming there should be one.) Faked correspondence between U.S. Senators, “disclosed” to whom, where was supposed to make Turkey mad at the U.S. or vice versa?

    Maybe we are all suppose to immediately recognize this set of alleged events and recall these omitted details as examples of the “rhetorical” techniques examined in the article. I certainly do not.

    Given the role of Graphika in “reporting” this, I am suggesting this is an example of designed disinformation. You are intended to fill out the blanks with imagined activities and assertions, or just cast doubt on speculations and reports from whatever source.

  20. someofparts

    My work ethic is a blind spot big enough to drive a truck through. When I see a problem with a clear solution on some gut level it just seems natural and satisfying to fix things. It takes a moment of deliberation and taking a step back from instinct and emotion to remember that the people running the game have different objectives and play by different rules.

    But I will say this. People all around me are already organized as neighborhoods. We have our farmers’ markets and gardens with chickens and internet bulletin boards. Anything I need from groceries to doctors to friends is easy to get to on a bicycle. As things get harder for regular people we will be developing and depending on these networks more and more.

    Also, since this is an open thread and I can talk about anything, tonight Atlanta is going to stomp the Dodgers and go on to win the World Series!

  21. someofparts

    The news just keeps getting worse.

    No wonder I retreat to the opiate of baseball.

  22. Hugh

    Some countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, increasingly Turkey, add your own candidates here, fall into an expanding group of “with allies like these who needs enemies.”

  23. Mark Pontin

    Bruce W: ‘I think lobbyists as a class understand how the Congress and the regulatory apparatus work, not how the actual economy works.’

    And I think you’re right, with the qualification that they may myopically understand what the specific corporations they represent need from the economy.

    I was suggesting, I guess, that that myopia would be one reason of our governance problems.

  24. bruce wilder


    As Matt Stoller’s narratives inform us, their corporate masters seem to have 20-20 vision when it comes to designing the dysfunction necessary to extract more and more financially from the bottom 80%.

    When I was very young, I served as staff to a Congress critter and later as a civil servant, but it was in a different world, when the world of corporate business was far more fractured and the monolith of Finance was just a dream. In those days, lobbyists did tattle on each other: if you wanted to know what the trucking companies were up to with their legislative proposals, just ask the railroads or the Teamsters. Insurance companies would expose the deceits of investment banks for a nod.

    I think the knot of transportation giants and financial entities around the operational structure of the twin ports of LA and LB is tied very, very tight.

    I will again suggest that the core problem is that the system became “too complex” and simply cannot be made to work again after the full shock of China’s economic dominance has been felt post-COVID. The choking surfeit of empty containers is just a manifestation of a new reality of economic balance in which the U.S. lacks domestic competence and industrial capacity and cannot extract the same margins from China’s exports to the U.S. The locus of operational control, even only local control, can only return to the U.S. if the system architecture can be simplified and that will break some American rice bowls, to excuse an expression.

    Just adding buffer stocks again to the supply chains (or return source to the U.S. for control leverage) would be both a simplification administratively, but would also require major additions to tangible capital stock, sucking up cash flow and breaking leveraged deals that have channelled the cash thrown off from decades of public and private disinvestment upward.

    The political interest in reversing decades of disinvestment in manufacturing capacity, in infrastructure, in educating the mass of the population is threatening the engine of disinvestment that has made so many fortunes and left so many communities wrestling with homelessness, opioid addiction and Trump voters (or Biden voters). We are yet to have a moment of political clarification on that and it may never come before simple breakdown overwhelms rational political thinking and the political vultures of disaster capitalism resume their feast.

  25. different clue

    @Bruce Wilder,

    I think I see what you are saying now. I was confused by your use of the phrase ” word salad”. I understand “word salad” to be a bunch of words with no relationship to eachother or any goal in mind or anything else. Something upon which no trace of meaning can be extracted nor upon which any sense of meaning may be imposed.

    And this wasn’t that. It was a more orderly bunch of words all ordered and directed to lead the reading mind to some desired endpoint.

  26. Chris “Early Treatment” Martenson, PhD liked
    Wall Street Silver
    China has shut down magnesium smelters to save electricity during their energy crunch.

    Without magnesium, there is no Aluminium.
    We are weeks away from shutting down .

    87% of magnesium comes from China, because it is impossible to build a new smelter in the EU, USA or Canada.

    Aluminum production cratering is predicted to lead to shutdowns of automobile production, in Europe. Should be the same here, I would think.

  27. Trinity

    “Musk’s goal-directed results-oriented status quo does seem preferable to Boeing’s expensive failure general incompetency status quo. “

    It’s more likely that Boeing’s expensive failure was deliberate, to ensure the success of “others”. This idea that failure is caused by incompetency needs to die an earlier death. We may have been told it’s about incompetency, and we are served appropriate scapegoats, but that doesn’t make it so. If I recall correctly, Boeing engineers were replaced by bean counters to prepare for the “asset sale” and the usual gutting of what once was an exemplary engineering culture.

    “designed disinformation” and “No, the Truman Show continues. The substantive agreement with Pakistan was already in place well in advance. The narrative fit for public consumption is being released now.”


    Bruce, complex systems by definition contain chaotic elements and are difficult to predict for that reason. The backlog of shipping is merely a complicated system, highly controlled (as is the narrative about it). The pandemic was a thorny problem to solve, but enough knowledge exists to have solved it. If we dig deep, the problem will be revealed to be the same problem as elsewhere, too low pay, poor working conditions, carefully curated news, a hierarchy for the few fortunate, lobbying, judges on the take, etc. There really is only one very, very large problem with multiple facets and an outcome that keeps repeating. We are always told “but other reasons” to hide that fact. A true analysis leads to the same conclusion every time, which we’ve been hearing now for decades, but many people keep ignoring that for some unknown reason.

  28. Mark Pontin

    Bruce W: ‘“myopia”!? …. their corporate masters seem to have 20-20 vision when it comes to designing the dysfunction necessary to extract more and more financially from the bottom 80%.”

    Yes. Isn’t that myopic in that there will be no more American society to extract more and more from at some point? And this sooner rather than later.

    Talking of myopia, I noticed about fifteen years or so ago that between the ever-increasing slices demanded for healthcare, housing, education, transportation (cost of new vehicles), and so on, the industries respectively involved were at that time already competing to extract financially about 20 percent more from each individual American than that American in total possessed. It’s only gotten worse, of course.

    The story about what this meant that we’re all familiar with is that Americans have for some decades had to survive more more and more on credit with results like, most obviously, the GFC in 2008 when that bubble collapsed.

    But it struck me then that there’s a deeper story that’s obviously also true, but that’s never mentioned. In fact, you’re treated as being naive and stupid if you bring it up.

    And that deeper story is this. If money is created as credit — and it is — and if the other side of credit is debt — and it is — then the increase in the number of American billionaires and Jeff Bezos being on the way to the becoming the world’s first trillionaire must have as its corollary the increasing, corresponding immiseration via debt peonage of the mass of Americans.

    It’s that simple. So where the propaganda always has it that the increasing money supply — or notional debt — that’s necessary to support the increasing number of billionaires that the US produces is a sign of US wealth — a product and token of the country being the richest in the world’s history — in reality the opposite is true: the increasing number of American billionaires literally creates — indeed demands — a more or less equal and corresponding immiseration of the American population as a whole.

    Pardon me for being so naive and simple-minded as to suggest such a thing, of course.

  29. someofparts

    And it is the fault of those unworthy poor people that we can’t pay the dentists or the educators the madly escalating costs they require, oink oink. The PMC around here are becoming so fascist so fast you can practically smell it on them.

    Went to the dentist Friday for a checkup I get every four months. The cost more than doubled since my last visit. Because of the lobby by dentists we can’t have dental care under Medicare. Because of the lobbyists for universities, we can’t have free community college.

    This classic was posted again at NC this morning. It is the best description I have found of the people who convince themselves they are noble while they enrich themselves by immiserating their neighbors with debt.

  30. This is a fake website of a man named Ian Welsh who spreads lies about India , and who comes from a scottish fairy land. hahahahahaha. India will always be a secular state and will never become a Hindu Rashtra as you have said Ian. Unlike the stupid countries of Balkans , India will never disintegrate and India has always provided a safe haven for people of all religions unlike selfish racist countries of Europe.

  31. Jim Harmon

    Cool pseud, bro.

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