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

Open Thread

Use this to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts. No Covid.


Calling My Shot on Letting Omicron Rip


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – January 16, 2022


  1. bruce wilder

    I have a four dollar a month subscription to the NY Times. The insipid — it burns!

    The director of national intelligence, Avril D. Haines, has appointed a new officer to oversee threats to elections, filling a critical role in the nation’s efforts to counter foreign election interference, her office said on Friday.

    The new officer, Jeffrey Wichman, who has worked at the C.I.A. for more than three decades, will take over as the election threats executive at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence next week . . .

    Individual intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command have already begun stepping up election threat monitoring ahead of this year’s midterm elections. But without a new election threats executive, some on Capitol Hill had feared progress had stalled, coordination had diminished and important analytical differences had been left unresolved.

    Mr. Wichman’s appointment came after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was forced to delay plans to create a foreign malign influence center that would oversee efforts from abroad to influence elections and American politics more generally. Creation of that center has been slowed by disagreements on Capitol Hill over the size of the effort and its funding.

    ” a foreign malign influence center”!! How about a domestic malign influence center to study the CIA, NSA and Facebook Meta?

    The White House accused Moscow on Friday of sending saboteurs into eastern Ukraine to stage an incident that could provide President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia with a pretext for ordering an invasion of the country.

    The administration did not release details of the evidence it had collected, but Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the operatives were trained in urban warfare and explosives.

    “Russia is laying the groundwork to have the option of fabricating a pretext for invasion,” Ms. Psaki said, “including through sabotage activities and information operations, by accusing Ukraine of preparing an imminent attack against Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.”

    They never stop. And by “they” I am not sure who I might be talking about. Is Ms Psaki telling us that CIA trained goons are in eastern Ukraine? The NY Times is not curious. But they report things are still being worked out.

    For years, U.S. officials have tiptoed around the question of how much military support to provide to Ukraine, for fear of provoking Russia.

    Now, in what would be a major turnaround, senior Biden administration officials are warning that the United States could throw its weight behind a Ukrainian insurgency should President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia invade Ukraine.

    How the United States, which just exited two decades of war in Afghanistan, might pivot to funding and supporting an insurgency from fighting one is still being worked out.

  2. someofparts

    I tried to watch ABC evening news earlier this evening. The first segment was tolerable, pointing out that N95 masks are better than simple cloth masks and urging people to wear them. Then they launched into some brazen propaganda about Russia instigating a war in Ukraine, and it made me furious. The amount of sheer corruption and stupidity it takes to start a war with Russia is hard to fathom. Of course, even my limited grasp of history includes the knowledge that mind-boggling levels of hubris and stupidity have caused massive wars in the past, so why should things be any different now.

  3. Ché Pasa

    This notion that “we have to fight them Over There so we don’t have to fight them Over Here” is ultra-tiresome. That Russia-China is some kind of ultra-menace is just as tiresome.

    For my money, the Ukraine Thing is more on behalf of Disintegrating Yurp-NATO than it has to do with the United States of Error. Our rulership is treading very carefully so as not to agitate the Bear too much. The whole False Flag hoo-hah is obvious bullshit, is it not?

    The Russian Invasion meme has been flogged to death. The Kremlin isn’t going to do anything to mire itself in another mudhole. Viz: Kazakhstan. In and out to support the government (a nasty one, too) putting down a pseudo-Color Revolution. One and done, that’s it. Ukraine had its Color Revolution — a nasty one, too — and after seizing Crimea, Russia with the murderous Nazi assholes. To hell with them. Let them drown in their own venom.

    Thing is, there are still all those ethnic Russians in Donestk who have been under siege by the Ukrainian Nazis for years and years. Russia has not really protected them and has certainly not “invaded” to do so. When we hear about casualties, understand that most of them have been ethnic Russians in the “separatist territory” subjected to artillery, air bombardment, special forces wet work, and what have you.

    What we’re hearing from the propaganda mills is mostly lies.

  4. Ché Pasa

    –Russia was done with the murderous Nazi assholes.

  5. Trinity

    I stopped reading Morris Berman’s blog a few years ago, but stayed connected using RSS. The way he uses examples of the few worst of us to malign all of us irritates me, not to mention it’s a logical fallacy. He is more often wrong in the general, but more often right in the specific.

    Recently, he’s started posting more substantive articles, and this is the most recent:

    In the context of secession, I like this partial paragraph, as it speaks to the “why” people like to believe (and share) lies.

    “Wokism, virtue-signaling, is a religion, and thus acts as psychological glue, providing the mind with (pseudo-)integrity. Dialogue with a woke is about as fruitful as dialogue with a bubba: once you’ve got The Truth, you are no longer capable of dialogue. Doris Lessing pegged this syndrome for communists in the 1930s, in The Golden Notebook, where she wrote that communism literally served to create a psychological existence for its adherents.” Or put another way, it provides meaning for their lives, which is one of the main problems in our culture. Buying shiny things and displaying them is a meaningless existence. The never-ending game of oneupmanship is meaningless.

    Both Berman and those-who-choose-lies-and-half-truths are guilty of the same thing: the logical fallacy that a characteristic of one person in the group also belongs to every individual in the group. Or that one observed characteristic of the group is shared by every individual in the group. This is what irritates me. This is also part of the “ignoring complexity” that I always yammer on about.

    I think these issues can be attributed to poor education (do they even still teach logic classes at any level?) And this logical fallacy is also strongly encouraged through fake narratives/fake news as well, as it makes it much easier to get ordinary people to scapegoat other ordinary people, and ignore the real culprits.

  6. Ché Pasa



  7. Z

    Once President he/bipartisan Biden gets the hook and Delegate-less Harris takes over and gives another of her inspiring “the time is now and now’s the time” speeches … hopefully soon! … our rulers will probably appoint Young Republican Pete as VP and then the NYZ Times, our rulers’ paper of propaganda, the Grey Jezebel herself, will earnestly begin sluicing the white working class for anecdotal nuggets to support a narrative of a virulent racist-misoginist-homophobia movement sweeping the country.


  8. different clue

    Here is an ad I saw on the reddit purporting to get Canadian readers to support using Alberta Tar Dreck ( ” oil ” ), stating that support for Wokeness requires support for Alberta Tar Dreck. A very cynical and clever use of Wokeness.

    Wokeness. Its what’s for dinner.

  9. Ché Pasa

    Boonies Sitrep: New Mask Guidance: Took a little over a day, that did. Masks are now worn by almost everyone, indoors and out — except in the field, on the range, etc. In our little hamlet, I didn’t see but one person going mask-free. A couple were not wearing them properly, and there are still a lot of useless cloth masks, but for the most part, surgical masks are the rule, and they are often doubled. N95s are not available. None in stock anywhere, and online offerings are paltry. This was predicted/predictable, but still, it grates.

    Shortages and high prices at the grocery store continue; bare shelves are not uncommon at the dollar stores — we have two, whoo-hoo! — either. Cat food in critically short supply. (Note: shortage of cat food specialty brands [ie: vet recced or prescribed] began well before the pandemic. Something’s going on, eh?) No lack of meat, chicken at the local grocery — never has been. And the prices are not (yet) that much higher than pre-pandemic except for bacon. (meat/chicken 30% higher; bacon double or more) Don’t even think of buying it. Crackers in short supply. No whole wheat crackers on the shelves in months. Go figure. Pasta? Ha! Nope. Ramen and other such products? Nope. Canned meat? Not much. Rice and beans? Yes, whew! Tortillas? Depends on day of the week. Sometimes yes, sometimes no (Delivery issue). Refrigerator canned biscuits? Nope. For a long time, our favorite unflavored potato chips (Tom’s) were out of stock, but they seem to have come back.

    Gasoline prices have moderated. For a few days, it was even under $3.00 a gallon. Then it shot back up to $3.30, then back down to $3.15 where it’s been for several days. We always used to love the gas price reports on the Big Media News where our observed $.30 rise in price at the pump was translated to $.03 “nationwide.” And any slight decline was exaggerated in the other direction. And all, always, “because markets,” which was obvious bullshit from the get go.

    We’re still being charged almost double for natural gas for heating even though the price has not risen nearly as much as predicted and probably won’t. (Well, insofar as any of this can really be predicted.)

    The burned out Walmart in the next town over reopened. But our local pharmacy closed abruptly sending shockwaves through the community. There was no notice, and everyone’s prescriptions were sent to a pharmacy quite a distance away (there is no closer one, btw. There were two pharmacies in this county, 60 miles apart. Now there’s one.) Just getting refills has proved to be a problem for many, let alone the long drive to pick them up — no delivery out here. One elderly woman I chatted with the other day said that even though she’s been with that pharmacy for a long time, her refills are almost never ready on time; she’s run out again and again and it is an hour-and-a-half drive (round-trip) to pick them up. I mentioned on-line pharmacies. She doesn’t have a computer and wouldn’t know how to work it if she did.

    Did someone mention something called The Big Sort? Well, if we haven’t noticed, that’s what’s going on… in so very many ways.

  10. alyosha

    @Trinity – I have a similar complaint about Berman’s blog, but do read it from time to time. Being an academic, he’s had more than the average exposure to wokeness and so perhaps can be forgiven. I too was struck by his particular false equivalence: bubbas on the right, and the woke on the left, an oversimplification at best.

  11. Mary Bennett

    Che Pasa, I read the Berman article to which you linked. At the bottom of the article, I read
    “We are a nation of extreme individualists, all trying to show we are better than the next person.”

    IDK whom this Berman guy has been talking with, but where I live, white working class neighborhood in upstate NY, most of us haven’t the time, resources or inclination for one-upmanship games. That remark reminds me of leftist activists in the late 60s whining about “community”, which meant they couldn’t snag a free meal or crash pad.

    Fanon, Lessing, et al, Berman almost sounds like a literary critic. Alleged coming dissolution of the USA is possible, sure, but not yet a certainty, and most of us Americans are actually not interested in being ruled by China or Mexico nor in being reincorporated into the British Empire.

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