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

Open Thread

Use to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts (aka. Covid. Go wild w/Ukraine if you so desire.)


Immune And Vaccine Escape Covid Variants


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – May 8, 2022


  1. bruce wilder

    Hey, about Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland!

    The Northern Ireland Protocol seems likely to get a majority in its favor at Stormont.

    Is Ireland slip-sliding toward unification? Will the Derry Girls go south?

  2. Mark Pontin

    Bruce W.: ‘Is Ireland slip-sliding toward unification?’

    Much of the rest of the UK devoutly hopes so. North Ireland ran at a deficit of £15 billion — or 18 billion — last year, paid for by the London government. In 2019 North Ireland’s population was 1.885 million, so you do the math.

  3. bruce wilder

    Rightly or wrongly, I feel like it would be too much work to form an opinion regarding the tendency of events in the Ukraine war. The winds of the West’s narrative blow with great force in one direction. I wonder if even hard reality is likely to emerge to arbitrate the dispute over interpreting the war’s course, or can be allowed to. Is Russia “winning” on the ground? Or are they stalled and frustrated? Are Russians alone responsible for every reported atrocity and war crime?

    I read the NY Times, which is a floodtide of sympathetic coverage from a Ukrainian government POV. I also glance at dissenting views, which I note are generally extremely marginalized: Scott Ritter (a convicted child molester) as a military expert, Alexander Mercouris (disbarred barrister) of The Duran Report on European politics, Gonzalo Lira (men’s rights activist? I don’t even . . . ) on U.S. – Ukraine politics and Victoria Nuland, and it just goes on like that before getting to the Russophiles and Russian ex-pats like Gilbert Doctorow and John Helmer (how long since he has even been in Russia? Does anyone know?) and The Saker.

    Weirdly the NY Times has been running pieces on U.S. war crimes. An on-going trial of a detainee has occasioned a review of four years during which the CIA tortured the guy at sites across the world. A few weeks ago, the American policy of carelessness about civilian deaths in the attacks on ISIS were recalled — yes, the Russians look scrupulous by comparison. Packing peanuts for the Judith Miller school of journalistic ethics? Maybe. The same paper is very reluctant to mention the Azov battalion in relation to that beseiged steel plant despite many, many reports.

    NC had a tweet from some guy reporting on a Ukrainian army unit’s surrender this morning and some guy’s twitter account was suspended before I got out of bed — and I was awake early! Consortium News lost their PayPal account. The company rep offered no explanation, but did hint fearing for her own job. TPTB are serious about keeping marginal voices marginal.

    Even if I felt confident I understand the basic outline of what is going on, militarily or politically, I know I would not be “taking sides” or cheerleading. I am horrified by Western efforts to escalate and prolong the conflict, which is the interpretation I give to policy moves as well as narrative manipulation.

    One bloc of dissenting opinion seems to think Russia is “winning” militarily in contrast to Western narrative of prolonged stalemate. I do not know whether emergent reality is likely to decide who is right, or force any reevaluation of views in the near future. I know plenty of people whose subscription to Russiagate was renewed in Ukraine, and never noticed their own lies being exposed.

  4. KT Chong


    “Since 2020 the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia has been the site of a civil war between ethnofascist former rulers of the African nation and its current elected government. As activist and Ethiopian-American reporter Hermela Aregawi ( explains, the United States has been stoking the regime change fires of the war, hoping to undermine democracy and bring back to power the faction that previously allowed the U.S. to do its bidding all over the Horn of Africa.”

    “Jimmy (Dore) and Hermela discuss the roots of this civil conflict and how the United States seeks to silence any critics of its policies in Africa or favored groups on the ground in Ethiopia.”

  5. Z

    Even if one only considers their first terms (Clinton – NAFTA, etc.; Bush Jr. – Iraq, etc.; Obama – Wall Street bailout, etc.; Biden – agitating for nuclear war, etc.), Trump’s incompetency has cemented his “legacy” as the least damaging U.S. president since Bush Sr..


  6. bruce wilder


    The figure I have seen bandied about is £5000 per capita. That is a lot!

    Is it just part of a pattern of London money-laundering paying for the consequences of de-industrialization? Some of it has to be accounting conventions covering some of the excessive costs of being under UK administration. What do they spend it on? Derry is very poor and Belfast shabby.

    The political reporting on the vote wasn’t good. Sinn Fein made no discernible gain — they held onto their vote, that was all. The Alliance gained and DUP suffered without any big shift in unionist v republican first-preference sentiment. The DUP has made such a mess of everything, it would shocking if they did not suffer at the polls.

  7. Mark Pontin

    Burce W: *Some of it has to be accounting conventions covering some of the excessive costs of being under UK administration.*

    The deficit is — obviously — the shortfall between taxes collected and costs of government and services provided. This piece from the IRISH TIMES casts some light on that —

    And includes this claim: –

    “A question regularly posed is how much of the North’s deficit – presuming it continues – would fall on the shoulders of any new all-island administration in the event of a united Ireland. A new study by Dublin City University (DCU) academic John Doyle concludes that as little as £2-£3 billion (€2.3-€3.5 billion) of the £9.4 billion would carry over into an all-Ireland entity. ”

    And this fact: –

    “The single largest element of the subvention in 2019 was £3.4 billion in pension payments paid by the British state to pensioners in Northern Ireland. While the UK could theoretically walk away from this obligation in the context of a united Ireland, there is no reason to assume it would as the pensions are based on contributions made to the UK exchequer. ”

    That big chunk for pensions goes a long way towards explaining the size of N. Ireland’s deficit which, yes, in that light starts to look more like an artifact of ‘accounting conventions.’

  8. Trinity

    Climate Anxiety is a White Person Phenomenon

    “The prospect of an unlivable future has always shaped the emotional terrain for Black and brown people, whether that terrain is racism or climate change.” Or colonialism. The IPCC has grown a pair, and mentioned colonialism as a factor in climate change.

    “Instead of asking “What can I do to stop feeling so anxious?”, “What can I do to save the planet?” and “What hope is there?”, people with privilege can be asking “Who am I?” and “How am I connected to all of this?” The answers reveal that we are deeply interconnected with the well-being of others on this planet, and that there are traditions of environmental stewardship that can be guides for where we need to go from here.”

    In my own personal experience, there are many reasons people of color don’t worry as much (overall), but the main reason is that they know they have each others’ back, and their community does, too. Not so with the greedy, isolated (and sometimes downright nasty) white people. For the record: I’m white, about as white as you can get. And just plain envious, often, about the closeness and the support networks that I see in groups with other skin hues, including Asian.

    White people really, really need to start thinking in a different way, instead of the way that’s been ingrained in us for the sole purpose of furthering oligarchic economic agendas.

  9. Anon123

    Dear Mr. Wilder

    Your comment re the Ukraine shoots the messenger not the message. It is too bad you have no interest in sports as the sports media has much to learn from. You should judge the message not the messenger which is what you have done.

    How often have we seen a former champion become a sports analyst and totally suck because the analysis is not good? Same thing with the Ukraine War – all of a sudden economics bloggers are now military experts. It is even funnier with the lack of sports interest and bias you see in sites like these.

    Please remember Mr. Wilder that you can get good analysis from questionable sources.

    Personally what I see is projection and panic from our propaganda machine. And this is a cause for concern. I also see the effects of comic books. War is supposed to be over in 1 hour right? I mean in movies complete cities are destroyed in a matter of minutes. And why not just send in the 82 airborne and just kill Putin? That simple right? Or maybe Jack Reacher or Batman for that matter?

    Reality is getting blurred. You would have thought the fail with covid would have brought reality back into focus.

    Prediction for Ukraine. Russia will end up winning. But as with covid, reality will not have any impact on us or our media or way of thinking.

  10. Trinity

    Currently reading The Dispossessed (1974) by Ursula K. LaGuin. Highly recommend.

    It’s about a planet and it’s habitable moon. The planet is the usual capitalist society we all know (and some love) and the moon is inhabited by “anarchists” who emigrated from the planet and built a culture/system that requires no money. None.

    “A bleak moon settled by utopian anarchists, Anarres has long been isolated from other worlds, including its mother planet, Urras—a civilization of warring nations, great poverty, and immense wealth. Now Shevek, a brilliant physicist, is determined to reunite the two planets, which have been divided by centuries of distrust. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have kept them apart.

    To visit Urras—to learn, to teach, to share—will require great sacrifice and risks, which Shevek willingly accepts. But the ambitious scientist’s gift is soon seen as a threat, and in the profound conflict that ensues, he must reexamine his beliefs even as he ignites the fires of change.”

  11. Z


    The Dispossessed is a good book.

    Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness is a better written book.

    The Dispossessed is more about socialism and The Left Hand of Darkness more about feminism.


  12. Z

    The leak on the Supreme Court decision on abortion couldn’t have come at a better time for our rulers. Just when things were beginning to stir about climate change, labor power, student debt forgiveness, inflation, and the increasingly dangerous situation in Ukraine (((exacerbated by our rulers doing end zone dances for their part in sinking $750 million Russian military flagships and knocking off Russian generals))).

    Those movements didn’t have much resistance to them and potentially could have built into something powerful and uniting. This issue is going to tear the country further apart.


  13. Z

    I bet Putin is beginning to get suspicious as to why U.S. and other western leaders keep continually flying into Kiev to personally support Zelenskyy. Doesn’t the $33 billion the US government sent him show him that they care? Does Zelenskyy need a belly rub to cheer him up too ?

    It was Speed Queen Nancy P’s turn last week and today Weekend at Biden’s leading stiff’s live half showed up unexpectedly for Mother’s Day. And Justin Trudeau too. Why? You can’t put it past them smuggling weapons on those jets.

    Not much Putin can really do about it though: shooting down the First Lady’s jet on Mother’s Day isn’t worth the PR hit even if they are.


  14. Astrid

    I think the Duran and other “bad cis male” info sources for one thing right. For the US war in Ukraine isn’t about Donbas, Ukraine, and maybe not even Russia (even if Nuland and company still believe that another color revolution is possible). It’s waged against the Europeans to cleave from from the Eurasian heartland. The spoils will keep things going for the Anglo plutocrats for another 5-10 years. After that, IBGYBG, many of them literally as they’re so old.

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