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.


Mini Electronic Vacations


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – September 4, 2022


  1. NR

    It’s pretty funny how Republicans instantly pivoted from calling Joe Biden a senile old codger who didn’t even know who he was or what day it was, to calling him Emperor Palpatine about to seize dictatorial powers after he gave a speech (accurately) describing them as fascists in front of a red background. We really do live in the dumbest timeline.

  2. Z

    I honestly believe that the heroic pharmaceutical team and production crew of Weekend at Biden’s tuned up their Lead Stiff and dollied out the old stage whore to give his/its scripted, demonic address as part of a duplicitous get-out-to-vote drive for the republicans in the hopes that they can incite them into trouncing the democrats in the mid-terms. As The Head PR Man for the Point Zero One Percent Obama demonstrated during the Robber Rubin II Administration: a republican Congress makes it easier to “compromise” towards the dancing partner parties’ dual sponsors’ desires.

    If the republicans win then Sweet Auntie Anita Dunn will pull Biden’s strings to get Let Them Eat Shit Mitch’s old handie man to reach across the aisle again and make Mitch’s five chins quiver by whispering to him about conspiring on another sequester to “force” the democrats into “tough” decisions, you know the type that used to titillate the sadio-empath Biden back in his more sentient days when he salivated over screwing over the U.S. working class and poor (((instead of drooling on his bib))) and then leeching on to them to “comfort” them by giving them a hug and maybe copping a hair sniff or two. You know, the old Tears and Suffering shtick he and Obama inflicted on the working class while they and Robber’s handpicked economic team made the entity most responsible for the 2008 economic meltdown, Wall Street, whole and then plenty some (

    Biden, now known affectionately as the Der Red Führer to the demo-zombie avocado toast crowd, has never inspired any democrat voters on a national level to do anything that they wouldn’t have done anyway. Hell, he couldn’t even get anyone to knock on doors or put out a lousy yard sign for him during the 2020 presidential elections or the democratic party primary that coronated him the nominee to “put the adults back in charge” and defeat an opponent that supposedly endangered the entire world with his recklessness and rude manners. Weekend at Biden’s script writers know that. So, the logical reason for the Lead Stiff’s speech was to rile up the republicans, not that he/it knows it anymore.


  3. bruce wilder


  4. bruce wilder

    Russia’s War in Ukraine continues with no indications that either Russia or its adversaries in the U.S. or E.U. let alone the Ukrainian government have an end-game or want to do anything to end the war. There is little objective information and the narrative I see in the New York Times and in the short news items branded by Newsweek or CNN continues to relentlessly spin an unbelievable story.

    I do not think the Russians have a clear path to a “military victory” in a recognizable form: that is, there is no clear way by use of force to get to a settlement with a credible Ukrainian government, which would have acceptance in whatever remains of Ukraine and would have to be accepted in the E.U., which could again normalize its relations with Russia and vice-versa.

    By all accounts, Western Europe — particularly Britain, Germany and Italy — face economic devastation. And, so far, I hear little in the way of opposition let alone any prospect of political overthrow. The British are hearing projections of alarm over planned energy utility rates that anticipate mass death and business bankruptcy. And the ruling Tories are calmly moving to make Liz Truss PM. The unreality of all this is illustrated by speculation that Truss might call early elections. (She is widely regarded as stupid, so “maybe?” seems to be the pundit attitude.)

    The idea that a peace might be preferable to breaking the world system does not appear to occur to anyone. Russia is actually selling this war to South Asia and China as a blow against the overripe hegemony of the G-7 and no one in the G-7 seems ready to acknowledge that this ends with breaking the power of the G-7 even as the economies of the previously richest European countries head toward a crash.

    I know disaster capitalism has worked out well for the Owners recently, but can they (whoever “they” are) really believe this will continue? Yikes.

  5. Z

    Putin dropping truth bombs (((the bombs our rulers, currently safe and snug, fear the most))) …


  6. Joan

    I am curious how the midterms will shake down. I’d thought the Republicans would sweep, but that was back before Roe was overturned. Now I wonder whether a lot of people who are disillusioned with the Dems will still bother to vote for them this time because they are startled at Roe being overturned and they worry what could happen next.

    I worry the court might go after gay marriage, and that there could be an evangelical push to restrict more regular forms of birth control (morning after pills, IUDs, the pill, etc.).

  7. StewartM


    The R response is actually what the Nazis *did*–mock the German Social Democrats as being a bunch of ‘tired old men’ while at the same time fearmongering them as “dangerous ‘reds'”.

    Heck, they even did that to their own, after Hitler off’ed Rohm and the SA leadership, claiming that they were both plotting a putsch against Hitler while being caught in bed with young boys (the first part was untrue; the second part, largely true, if you have read the details of the SS raid led personally by Hitler himself; only one of the leaders was caught with in bed with a girl early that morning 😛 ).

  8. StewartM

    As yet another Artemis launch date was scrubbed due to technical problems, is anyone else thinking that the US government is now getting the same level of service we peons have been getting for decades now from our Milton Friedman-approved-stockholders-come-first, customers-and-workers-come-last, corporate leaders?

  9. Willy

    Is senile old Biden’s magical transformation into devious Dark Brandon proof of the existence of Satan? Well, I know many who trusted Palpatine as a kindly old man, oblivious to the transformative power of the dark side. Bwahahahahahahaha!

    Tucker Carlson delivered his summary of Biden’s speech before he’d even seen it, ready to go and transcribed onto the teleprompters just as Biden was talking. And the MAGA supplicants ate it all up. Could this little glitch in reasoning/sanity abilities for an outspokenly large minority, be why as soon as human civilization starts getting nice things we can’t seem to hang onto them for very long?

    But then I did see the Majority Report video interviewing former conservative Christian comic James Austin Johnson. He said most of his age group have seen the radical change in their peers and want no part of it, with many leaving their religion.

    Maybe Dark Brandon is behind this as well.

  10. StewartM

    As someone modeling their retirement….

    “The Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) overarching focus right now is to bring inflation back down to our 2 percent goal. Price stability is the responsibility of the Federal Reserve and serves as the bedrock of our economy. Without price stability, the economy does not work for anyone. In particular, without price stability, we will not achieve a sustained period of strong labor market conditions that benefit all. The burdens of high inflation fall heaviest on those who are least able to bear them.”

    My reaction is “what is he smoking?” The mean historical US inflation rate, since 1960, is 3.8 %. Measure the same metric since 1914, it’s 3.3 %. Why is the official Fed policy to institute an inflation rate lower than our history suggests can be maintained?

    And, moreover, as someone who is looking at retirement and supposedly at-risk more from inflation, I can say for sure that the Fed driving the markets down is not in my interest. I am modeling a 4 % inflation rate into my calculations, which is more in-line with US history. If the market returns its historical average of 10 % a year, a 4 % inflation target still leaves me safe with room to spare, given the usual advice that you can withdraw 3-4 % of your savings and preserve your capital.

    So this is not in MY interest. A 2 % inflation goal in practice also crushes workers’ wages, which in turn crushes SS funding, and that’s not in their interests nor mine. So who’s this being done for?

    My suspicion–it’s for the large institutional investors, who count every inflation percentage point as theft from their profit margins, and moreover as they aren’t withdrawing money from the markets to live on each year, can weather a short-term market downturn in return for much higher profits tomorrow.

    Of course, this also exposes the bad policy of forcing people to live off market returns, as opposed to them having robust (and expanded) SS and a universal inflation-adjusted pension to meet their basic needs. That would mean that they could weather any market downturns in stride, as their SS and pension would be enough to pay their expenses.

  11. StewartM

    I would also add that the Fed’s policy isn’t really addressing the true causes of inflation–it’s not worker pay, guys!–but supply chain snafus (the result of allowing oligopolies to form, and outsourcing production outside the US) and the lack of competition in many markets, for the same reason. The maligned “handouts” that the Larry Summers of the world decry didn’t even replace lost income for workers during the pandemic!!

    Fix those things, and you fix inflation. Moreover, increasing worker pay also drives up workforce participation (i.e., it makes going back to work worthwhile) and moreover the IRS hiring more to enforce rich tax cheats would lower the deficit as well.

  12. Chuck Mire

    Have Come to Bury Ayn Rand:

    A prominent evolutionary biologist slays the beast of Individualism.

    Welcome to the David Sloan Wilson Archive:

    Name your own price:

    Since the word “give” was banned from the vocabulary of the ideal society imagined by Ayn Rand in her novel Atlas Shrugged, we are please to restore it in offering David Sloan Wilson’s novel Atlas Hugged.

    David is pleased to give you a copy for free in the electronic version and at cost for the print version. Please give what you want and are in a position to give in exchange.

  13. Newsom is a nightmare

    Hmmm, posted the following paragrahs at a larger blog, because it receives so many eyes, and it vaporized. Perhaps it can be posted here? And, nice to know that there are those who lay pretense to being on the side of the voiceless, yet act utterly contrary to that. I don’t believe their spam blocker (which is used here also) vaporized it, though I’m sure that would be the claim made. But it was assigned a comment number (after it first showed as being in moderation), but was and still isn’t showing, despite being eventually assigned a comment number that no longer noted ‘in moderation’ in the url for my coment. The comment:

    Re Gov. Newsom’s court-ordered treatment plan for homeless Californians passes final test

    Underneath it all, this is toxic, particularly when California’s Court System is a nightmare for those of little means, made far, far worse by Newsom’s brutal budget slashing. Worse, the mental health system for those with little means (probably about 40% or more of the population) in California is, and has been, broken for quite some time, most particularly in it’s wealthiest counties. I’ve witnessed it close up via someone ensnared in it, who is fine when they have the proper medications, and had countless conversations with those ensnared in it, or working in jobs that serve those with mental health backgrounds. California’s very large amount of renters are highly susceptible to at least temporary mental health issues because, increasingly, they apparently cannot afford to live. This, while California legislators seem to do everything they can to make it even harder to live by either failing to write Regulations with teeth in them; failing to sufficiently fund the regulators that exist; or allowing their own regulations to be repeatedly ignored by nefarious means (e.g. )

    Anyway, this comes as no surprise, there have been countless occurrences of Newsom’s California, and its broken and/or grifter filled State Agencies allowing horrid things to happen to its most vulnerable citizens, with his own ‘blessing.’ He is not a decent human being, by any stretch of the word, and neither are the vast majority of California’s bipartisan (predominantly democrat) legislators.

    ABC10 in Sacramento has done some excellent reporting on some of these issues and unlike so much of California’s News Media Coverage (even Non-Profit news coverage), don’t seem at all so prone to protect Newsom so he can run for President. Though, it’s way too bad that ABC10 and it’s newspaper and TV ilk don’t do more pre-disaster coverage to prevent the disasters from happening in the first place, (but I guess awards are more important to them):

    Here’s a much better plan for California (and the US at large): don’t create the mental health issues you’ve been creating, traumatizing your own populace because they can no longer afford a roof over their heads. Institute policies where your citizens can afford a decent and safe, roof over their head (and no, it is not at all true that the California homeless are mostly from other areas, versus areas they’ve lived in and worked in since birth, or for years.), instead of Grifter Legislators instituting policies for the sole purpose of State Revenues, versus providing the safety nets that are a must in any healthy society (and actually save the government money in the long run). Examples: Kamala’s Prison Firefighters, or 2020’s Vile Legislative Constitutional Amendment (ACA11), Proposition 19, funded by the Real Estate Industry. The Proposition which leaves older renters, the one’s most likely to be renting from even older landlords, at total threat of homelessness. It also brutally hits the older offspring of such older landlords, who won’t be able to afford the huge jump in property taxes if they’re unable to move into their parent’s property. Bottom line: the proposition increases residential rents, increasing homelessness for very vulnerable populations many on fixed incomes; and thieves inherited property from those of little mmeans, and/or on fixed incomes themselves.

    This, in a State that hasn’t done anything to ensure affordable Senior Housing (especially given California’s senior population), along with a Media which has completely ignored the issue for decades, because they’d have to pick on mostly democrats. The majority of those renters at threat are single females (many whom are State employees) forced to work till they drop if they have no one to live with, women who’ve made two third of a males dollar. So much for Newsom’s way, way, way overhyped gender equality, but hey ,it got him where he is amongst those not paying enough attention. Telling single people in their late sixties and older, on fixed incomes, to just move to another state is sadistic on so many levels) Further I believe that such safety nets actually save the State a ton of money in the long run.
    ********[End of coment]
    I am using the same user name, Newsom is a nightmare, and email address in this post, as I did there; which were, both, a first time (and clearly the last) there.

  14. different clue

    @Newsome is a nightmare . . .

    What was the name of that larger blog which vaporised your comment? Is it too dangerous to say?

  15. NR


    True. That’s a common fascist assertion: that the enemy is both weak and ineffectual, and incredibly powerful and dangerous, at the same time.

  16. Newsom is a nightmare

    Thank you so much for posting my comment, Ian, and I hope all is doing okay for you, being a renter yourself.

    @different clue, re:

    @Newsome is a nightmare . . .

    What was the name of that larger blog which vaporized your comment? Is it too dangerous to say?

    l’ll just say, very easy to find out (I suspect you already know (smiles bleakly)). I tried to post it there yesterday, in response to an article they linked to, so choose the earliest, most obvious choice of two). If there were any other Newsom link responses there (none show), they were vaporized also.

  17. bruce wilder


    The Dems are mocking MAGA Republicans as what? Alternately ridiculous and existentially dangerous, no? Sound like a familiar pattern?

  18. Tallifer

    (Quoting Bruce Wilder) “Russia’s War in Ukraine continues with no indications that either Russia or its adversaries in the U.S. or E.U. let alone the Ukrainian government have an end-game or want to do anything to end the war.”

    Zelensky has clearly stated the obvious goal for the Ukraine: the liberation of the Crimea and the far eastern Ukraine. The route thereto presumably is relentless struggle supported by the overwhelming Western economies to break the will of the Russian mercenaries and conscripts of Putin. Morale means more than artillery in war. The Ukrainians are not like the warriors mown down at Omdurman; they have the skills to exploit modern technology and tactics to defeat less motivated soldiers. It took six years to liberate Europe from Hitler and forty years to drive the Russians and Americans out of Afghanistan (and a hundred years to expell the English from France), so the West should not be discouraged.

  19. Willy

    The Dems are mocking MAGA Republicans as what? Alternately ridiculous and existentially dangerous, no?

    I don’t know if anybody else noticed the misdirection. The difference from the comment answered to is the power which the “existentially dangerous” force is willing and able to wield. “Weak and ineffectual” is not also “incredibly powerful and dangerous.”

    More intellectually honest might have been to describe how Biden is using MAGA (which really is a proven threat to American democracy) as a shiny diversion to deflect from a still-ongoing neoliberalism which has been dangerous for many.

  20. bruce wilder


    Yes, Zelensky’s statement of war aims is conspicuous for its exclusion of any possibility of negotiating any Russian claims, including notably the claims of Russian-speaking resident populations.

    I am no pacifist, but I do recognize that deep investment in economic cooperation produces wealth and conflict of interests. “and” Being able to benefit from the products of social and economic cooperation requires political cooperation to minimize the costs of resolving those conflicts, which to me means both avoiding distribution of benefits so extreme as to undermine the functioning of social institutions of economic cooperation (hence the concept of “equity” among others) and, also avoiding violence and war.

    Like I said, I am no pacifist. I think if we are not to be ruled by bullies and reduced to routine states of extreme inequity by sociopaths willing to resort to violence impulsively and individually or deliberately and collectively, people generally have to be willing and able to fight and to engage individually and collectively in acts of “altruistic punishments”, that is to fight fights that do not pass a narrow cost-benefit test.

    I explain all of this, by way of saying also that deep political ideas are implicated when I judge that Russia ought to be able to negotiate its interests and claims. Russia initiated the war, which is morally bad and on Putin, but they did so after attempts to negotiate settlements of conflicting claims failed repeatedly and after an aggressive policy program by the U.S. to undermine Russia as a unified great power had proceeded over many years.

    I do not see Putin’s regime as a sacred object. Putin is no “good guy” in my judgment and I do not cheerlead for him. His regime may eventually be destroyed or simply superseded during the course of this conflict, which is set to be prolonged. I believe Putin himself chose war at this moment, anticipating that he will shortly retire as soon as 2024 and a major realignment and restructuring of Russian political institutions will occur. He is using the war in a domestic attempt to build nationalism and detachment from the West. But I digress.

    War is costly and destructive. The West should definitely be discouraged from another prolonged, enormously costly war. If Ukraine were to achieve Zelensky’s stated war aims, much of the Russian-speaking populations of Crimea and Donbas would be killed or expelled or suppressed culturally and linguistically. It would be a lot simpler, if Ukraine could reconcile itself to achieving a ethno-national uniformity by shedding territories peopled by Russians.

    It is true that WWII, “a good war” in memory, resulted in mass expulsions of German-identified populations from Eastern Europe. For centuries, there had been Volga Germans, Baltic Germans, Transylvanian Sudetenland and on and on. Stalin moved Poland almost 300 miles west and made the coronation city of Prussian Kings a Russian city. Wars have such outcomes.

    And this war may have such an outcome, too. But, I do not encourage it or see reason in any view of justice to advocate it. What seems far more probable in the immediate future is great hardship and destruction in Ukraine, which must be experiencing massive loss of soldier’s lives, and also a great “loss of abundance” in Western Europe.

    The propaganda narrative pushed thru the mainstream media is touting the heroic potential of underdog Ukraine and Churchillian Zelensky to win. That Zelensky is hateful and corrupt and authoritarian is overlooked in telling that tale. The ready backing of increasingly sociopathic and incompetent Western leaders for Zelensky is not persuasive to me. ymmv

  21. StewartM


    Hmm–I think the ‘dangerous” assessment outweighs the “comical” by a large margin.

    And were Hitler’s critics of his era wrong to point out how comically he was divorced from facts? Where Charlie Chaplan’s spoofs of Hitler a) wrong or b) trivializing (it wasn’t)

    “The Great Dictator is a classic for a reason. It’s startling in its depictions of violence, which stand out less for their outright brutality than for how memorably they depict the Nazis’ betrayal of everyday humanity. And it’s renowned as well as for its resourceful and original humor, which combines Chaplin at his most incisive and balletic with raucous displays of verbal wit. This was Chaplin’s first sound film; his previous feature, the 1936 masterpiece Modern Times, was by the time of its release considered almost anachronistic for being a silent film in a sound era. Dictator avails itself of this technological progress, making perhaps its most successful bit out of the way Hitler speaks, the melange of rough sounds and brutish insinuations that have long made footage from his rallies as fascinating as they are frightening.”

    (And people who make differentiate Hitler was being much more competent than Trump are simply wrong–he wasn’t. They are very much alike in being tethered to fact. The keep thing to keep in mind is–they won because they got a *lot* of institutional help).

  22. Chuck Mire

    The Story Of Fascism In Europe:

    From Rick Steves comes a thought-provoking one hour documentary that revisits the rise of fascism in Europe, reminding us of how charismatic figures like Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler came to power by promising to create a better future for their frustrated, economically-depressed countries–a future that recaptured the glory of some mythologized past. Once in power, these fascist leaders replaced democracy with a cult of personality, steadily eroded democratic norms and truth, ratcheted up violence, and found scapegoats to victimize–something facilitated by the spread of conspiracy theories and propaganda through modern media. They would lead their nations into war, and ultimately ruin, but not before creating a playbook for other charismatic autocrats who entice voters with simplistic solutions to complex problems.

    Originally aired on PBS television, Steves has released the documentary on YouTube, hoping that 21st century citizens can “learn from the hard lessons of 20th-century Europe.”

  23. different clue


    Except that Crimea never was part of Ukraine. It was conquered from a Tartar Khanate by Russia and was therefore Russia’s by right of conquest ever since it was not the Khanate’s anymore.

    Just because it was fake-“reassigned” to Ukraine by USSR ruler Kruschev as some sort of gift to Ukraine did not make it Ukraine’s , and does not make it Ukraine’s now.
    So Ukraine cannot “liberate” what was never part of Ukraine to begin with. Ukraine can try to conquer Crimea and if Ukraine can actually conquer Crimea from Russia then it becomes Ukraine’s by right of conquest as long as Ukraine is strong enough to defend it.

    But Russia will probably defend its own Crimea much harder than it may eventually try defending its Donbassian conquest. Ukraine may or may not wear down Russia enough to eventually wear out Russia into surrendering its Donbassian conquest, but if Ukraine wants to conquer Crimea for the very first time ever from its Russian owners, it will have to outright conquer it.

    The wily old rogue Kissinger recently suggested that a long-term truce, or even a Cold Peace between Russia and Ukraine would involve Ukraine recognizing the fact that Crimea rightfully belongs to Russia ever since Catherine the Great’s conquest of it, and that Donbassia will be an Autonomous Republic Zone barely connected to Ukraine in the loosest possible way and speaking Russian. Oh, and . . . Ukraine will never ever be any part of NATO. Never. Ever.

    Ukraine can accept that or Ukraine can keep on fighting fighting fighting . . .

  24. Trinity

    “Putin dropping truth bombs (((the bombs our rulers, currently safe and snug, fear the most))) …”

    Yes, this. Inflation is due to our Western oligarchs, although I heard it from a different source, regarding their sociopathic greed for profits. Feathering their nests?

  25. bruce wilder

    The Story Of Fascism In Europe:

    The narratives of the rise of right-wing politics driven by the ability of demagogues to manipulate a fearful and anxious populace tend to minimize either the genuine economic precarity suffered or neglect to acknowledge how elites failed to respond to those problems responsibly.

    The working classes have an almost insurmountable set of political problems: how to select a trustworthy leader to pursue their interests and bind that leader to the interests of the working classes generally. And, not incidentally, to judge the leader’s performance in selecting and pursuing ways and means.

    In the context of those political problems, the working classes are often fooled or betrayed or both. And not just by demagogues bent on authoritarian practice. The oh so serious, grey centrists betray and exploit and oppress effortlessly.

    Mussolini’s rise to power was preceded by an appalling elite performance in the World War. Hitler was aided by the disastrous centrist embrace of austerity in response to the Great Depression. This background should not go unremarked.

    If fascism is on the rise in the U.S., Obama bears a lot of responsibility.

    I see Dems in deep denial about the consequences of their policy failures since 2005-9.

  26. multitude of poors

    @bruce wilder

    If fascism is on the rise in the U.S., Obama bears a lot of responsibility.

    Yep, the Obama administration perpetrated a ton of misery on those with no Lobby™ which gets worse and worse (deaths of despair all over the map), not that his bipartisan predecessors don’t share the white gloved blood on his hands of their own US residents, let alone all over the world.

    For those who had inexplicably missed other glaring Obama clues (DRONES at blood misted wedding parties, et al, all over the globe), the following should have been eye openers for millions. The Jobs For the Middle Class,™ Chattanooga Tennessee Amazon Fulfillment Facility Speech on July 30, 2013; along with his Silicon Valley Revolving Door—02/18/11 <a href='s some social network! Obama toasts the future with America's titans of technology – including stricken Apple boss Steve Jobs. Megalomaniacal monsters to a person in this photo: (Al Gore greatly amped up the CIA funded Silicon Valley tech on testosterones though, and made enormous profit from it 1.. Something I’m dumbfounded so many either don’t know, or don’t seem disturbed by; he’s as rottenly amoral as Bill & Hillary, and all the other bipartisan, presidential predecessors.) .

    Remarks by the President on Jobs for the Middle Class, 07/30/13 Amazon Chattanooga Fulfillment Center Chattanooga, Tennessee:

    So I’ve come here today to talk a little more about something I was discussing last week, and that’s what we need to do as a country to secure a better bargain for the middle class -– a national strategy to make sure that every single person who’s willing to work hard in this country has a chance to succeed in the 21st century economy. (Applause.)

    Sorry, didn’t have the time to find what I’m sure is an even better excerpt than above (time being one of the most unacknowledged, nefarious, white gloved, lethal thefts DC, et al have perpetrated against their own populace, as they desperately struggle to keep their heads above the sewage filled flood waters).

    1) Along with Al Gore’s long time Board membership at Apple, and Senior Advisorship to Google, the Venture Capital [VC] firm Gore is still a Partner at (since 2007, as was General Colin Powell, from 2005, and possibly, till his death), Kleiner Perkins [Caufield & Byers], is nothing nice. I’ll never forgive myself for voting for Gore, thinking Ralph Nader wouldn’t get the votes.

    gotta go, will check back.

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