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

Open Thread

As usual, feel free to use the comments to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts.


Should NATO Exist? Will It?


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – September 22, 2019


  1. KT Chong

    Not sure if I have already posted it here, but I highly recommend a relatively new channel on YouTube – i.e., The Hill. The Hill publication is actually very neoliberal and pro-establishment, BUT its well-produced “Rising” morning show is very insurgent and anti-establishment.

    Here are samples/segments of the show from just this week:

    Corporate Dems’ Bernie Sanders nightmare has already come true:

    War on Drugs – Andrew Yang vs. Bernie Sanders:

    Kamala Harris is finished:

    A host responding to Rush Limbaugh’s smear:

    On Tulsi Gabbard:

    End the War:

    P.S. The #WYSC show is the neoliberal and pro-establishment part of the channel, so you can skip any videos marked with #WYSC.

  2. Hugh

    So a few days back on MSNBC, Chris Hayes had a show on climate change. Al Gore was one of the guests. Hayes asked him which of the Democratic candidates had the best climate change policy. It was quite funny in a depressingly expectable way. On the one hand, there was this existential threat Gore had been talking about. On the other, was his class allegiance. No surprise which he chose. He punted. Why it sounds like you are asking me to endorse a candidate, Gore deflected. Yes, yes, I am said Hayes. Gore responded with pap. All the Democrats have good stands on climate change, and I can’t endorse any one for a lot of reasons. When push comes to shove, Gore and our political Establishment in general are unserious about climate change. They can talk, but choose, let alone fight based on their convictions, especially if that would mean going against that Establishment, no way, Jose.

    We continue in the US to have the spectacle of a political leader who completely refuses to discharge their duty, but whose control of their party is such that no matter what they do, ho poorly they act, no one in their party in Congress will challenge them on. And then there are the Republicans.

  3. different clue


    Perhaps Gore fears his personal political endorsement of any office-seeker could be a kiss of death for the victory chances of that office-seeker.

    I hope Gore decides to endorse Joe Biden.

  4. nihil obstet

    I developed a hostility to Gore some years back. He was the lead propagandist for NAFTA in the 90s. His response to the absence of labor and environmental protections in the proposed treaty was that this was a first step, and such things as environmental protections would be added. Then after his 2000 surrender on the presidency, he became the great environmental guru with an Oscar-winning movie and a Nobel Peace Prize. What he did not do, was publicly demand that the promised environmental protections be added to NAFTA. Given his role in the treaty’s adoption, he was morally obliged to do so.

  5. KT Chong

    Al Gore was – and still is – a neoliberal Third-Way “New Democrats”. ’nuff said.

  6. In “Yellow Vests not ‘corporate approved’ like climate protests – Galloway” @ , George Galloway says,

    (emphasis mine)

    Myself, I think carbon taxes will cause some income redistribution, but since carbon footprints don’t scale with income indefinitely, they will be regressive with respect to the uber rich vs. everybody else, at the very least. I expect that “everybody else” will include most well paid professionals. I can’t recall exactly, but I think in the book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, the author goes into how changes in tax law made being a doctor, e.g., a less enriching career than previously. We will see something similar, I believe.

    As Europe is ahead of us in carbon taxation, if I’m correct, this hypothesis should already be born out over there, at least in the individual states where this is a thing.

    Of course, one of the biggest income redistributions that will be exacerbated is money away from citizens to the governments, themselves – ultimately, to government bondholders and crony capitalists who are symbiotic with corrupt “public servants” that they own.

  7. According to Christopher Monckton, there’s been relatively recent, stunning, empirically derived measures of climate sensitivity to atmospheric CO2. The CO2 catastrophist crowd have gone into overdrive to keep their results unknown. (which is quite distinct from shooting down their work using scientific arguments). That’s because their results are consistent with, say, the results of the brilliant Israeli physicist Nir Shaviv; and not with the dire forecasts of the CO2 catastrophists, who are keeping Greta Thunberg awake at night. Their moral and intellectual cowardice is self-evident, and consistent with what we’ve come to expect from too many in the CO2 catastrophist establishment.

    Will Greta and her backers breathe a sigh of relief and focus on other subjects (e.g., real pollution, including air pollution)? Will they even make sure the new Irish study is fully vetted?

    Not a chance. She wants us to listen to “the scientists”, but only those who embrace the doomsday scenarios. That is her only path to a Nobel prize. While she, personally, may not care a fig about a Nobel, some of her backers will crave this sort of recognition and ‘validation’ – scientific ethics be damned.

  8. edmondo


    Any thoughts on the Justin Trudeau black/brownface? Is he really this obtuse?

  9. Chuck Mire

    Sandy Hook Promise ‘Back to School’ ad

    View the Back to School Essentials PSA here:

    Amazing that only in the USA are gun-nut parents willing to possibly submit their children to this. The Republican “Trumpian” leaders are a bunch of gutless individuals who place their careers ahead of the children’s safety and well being.

  10. Hugh

    Justin Trudeau is 47. In 2001, at the time of one of the brown face incidents, he would have been a mere babe of 29 teaching French and math at the posh private West Point Grey Academy in Vancouver. I think his brown face had less to do with racism and more to do with a general sense of entitlement. Personally, I really am not looking for leaders to live blameless lives. It is his neoliberal ideas in the here and now that bother me a lot more.

  11. Herman

    Al Gore, for all of his environmental activism, is still a mainstream figure so he will never stray too far from the mainstream political consensus on the environment which is that we can have our cake and eat it too. Gore and most mainstream figures on the left are not honest about the major lifestyle changes that will be necessary to avoid environmental disaster since being honest would require telling Americans and others that the days of endless growth and consumerism are coming to an end one way or another. Most people don’t want to hear this or if they do it usually never amounts to anything other than lifestylism and ethical consumerism which people usually give up by the time they want to settle down in the suburbs.

  12. GlassHammer

    “Most people don’t want to hear this or if they do it usually never amounts to anything other than lifestylism and ethical consumerism which people usually give up by the time they want to settle down in the suburbs.”

    People want the social signaling, not the hard work.

    This is why you can’t sell “de-growth” to anyone.

  13. bruce wilder

    People want the social signaling, not the hard work.

    Or the political and cultural change, let alone the constraints necessary to reduce the impact people (collectively) have.

    People protest in large numbers, but i have never seen an inkling of the kind of comprehensive planning work that would be necessary to even figure out what kind of policies would be necessary, what kind of physical structures for transportation, energy production and distribution, agriculture, not to mention preservation of the natural world, would be feasible.

    Sure, people make gestures, but they are only waves of the hand, not large-scale modeling and calculation. The IPCC reports are an illustration of my thesis, not a counter-example, and to preserve a positive, can-do tone, they have to project large-scale extraction of carbon from the atmosphere by untested means organized by an unspecified economics or finance not previously exampled in the history of humankind.

    There are people who have speculated about a civilizational collapse into a new primitivism, as if their steam-punk fantasy world would have less environmental impact, a view contrary to the historical facts: the waste of humankind using highly inefficient technologies could be phenomenal.

    There are lots of fragments, broken shards of thinking floating around. Notions about veganism. Solar panels and electric cars as a means to reproduce our “happy lives” without petroleum. Including some truly delusional denialism: natural gas displacing coal (which I would think quite obviously has no appreciable effect in terms of global warming or greenhouse gases and must be ephmeral for other reasons if the costs are not to skyrocket) is regarded quite positively by many establishment figures apparently. The neoliberal dictum of carbon taxes seems to paralyze, which I cannot help but think was the intention — in any case, like all neoliberalism real bad economics, as the price of carbon emission cannot motivate the kind of comprehensive, coherent structural changes, nor does it do anything to impose the kind of constraints necessary to overcome the Jevons effect of improving technology. (the Jevons effect implies: To get a benefit say from the shift from incandescent light to LEDs — there are huge efficiency gains normalized against a fixed requirement for light — it would be necessary to legislate against new and expanded use of lighting and even reductions in profligate uses (eg more community dark sky initiatives) )

    I think Al Gore back in the 1990s thought politics would eventually get serious and responsible about dealing with “the threat”, but it never happened and “the threat” stage has passed without getting the response of political consciousness he envisioned. He would have to come up with a new theory of politics to have even a glimmer of understanding of what is going on in politics in the non-response to the compounding crisis and a realistic view might be more darkly pessimistic than he could handle or articulate. (I cannot blame him. What if his private calculation leads him to regard a nuclear war to reduce population and induce an interval of nuclear winter as a reset on forward forcing of climate as the only politically practical expedient? Would he say that on national tv?)

  14. GlassHammer

    “comprehensive planning work” – bruce wilder

    You need more than a plan, you need tons of trial and error based learning and the time to do it.

    You need mastery and to quote a friend, “there ain’t no shortcut for that”.

    We are not “out of time” to make an initial attempt (or even a few more attempts after that) but we are “out of time” to make enough attempts to master the thing. What we are going to get is a bunch of novice level solutions which will be miserable to live under.

  15. different clue

    @ nihil obstet,

    Every time I try to forget about Gore’s role in securing NAFTA, someone reminds me.

    Yes, I remember Gore’s TV debate against Perot. I remember being disappointed by Perot’s inability to counter-argue against the clever diversions and sly illogic of Al Gore.

  16. KT Chong

    While we are on the subject of climate change, check this out:

    i.e., public investment in thorium molten-salt nuclear energy, as proposed by Andrew Yang.

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