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

Open Thread

Use the comments to this post to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts.


Killing Herd Animals


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – December 8, 2019


  1. Herman

    Some sobering reality when it comes to jobs. Most of the jobs being created are bad jobs.

    This is not a new phenomenon. Most new jobs created since 1990 have been bad jobs.

    But according to people like Steven Pinker and his fans among the affluent everything is just great and getting better! Panglossian fantasists are the worst.

  2. First… I called those Mexican Mormons getting killed last month a false flag …

    This doesn’t do much to change my mind: Drumpf uck is going to invade Mexico:

    Trump will ‘temporarily hold off’ plan to send US military into Mexico

    President Donald Trump has called off floated plans to use U.S. military for cross-border incursions into Mexico.

    In November, Trump floated the idea, which was blasted as deranged, but in a Friday evening news announcement, Trump tweeted he would “temporarily suspend” the plan.

    “All necessary work has been completed to declare Mexican Cartels terrorist organizations,” Trump tweeted. “Statutorily we are ready to do so. However, at the request of a man who I like and respect, and has worked so well with us, President Andres Manuel we will temporarily hold off this designation and step up our joint efforts to deal decisively with these vicious and ever-growing organizations!”

    Just because they’re white, and Mormon, doesn’t make them ‘Americans’. Those people renounced their citizenship and fled the country in violation of American law, today sneaking back into the country to work illegally – to take jobs from Americans – not across the river as their cousins but in white Cadillacs.

    They’re not Americans, they’re Mexicans, the ‘incident’ a false flag. 

    Second… You want to talk about ‘drug cartels’? OK. First let’s talk about nineteen cro-magnons armed only with razors hijacking aircraft over the most heavily guarded airspace in the known history of the universe and crashing them into iconic structures designed specifically to withstand just such impact and miraculously causing them to implode into their own footprints, and causing a nearby unimpacted neighboring building to implode into its own footprint as well.

    I seriously doubt there are drug cartels. Think about it, weed is legal, ain’t nobody crop-dusting kilos into Yuma; hillbilly heroin is basically free for the asking, so to adderall, doctors hand ’em out like candy. Nobody’s running weed across the border, nobody’s running smack, or cocaine, the drug cartels are a bullshit story, manufactured ‘terror’. Stupid-ass ‘Americans’ will believe anything. As big a bullshit story as calling those Mexican Mormons ‘American’.

    My most hits ever (couple million): Be Afraid. Be afraid, be afraid, be very afraid. Oh yeah. Usama binDead of liver failure since December 2001 there were obits published around the world and his gang of born-again gay Mexican Muslims are coming t’get’cha. Eyup, gonna rape all the (white) women and steal all the jobs … Drug cartels my rosy fed ass.


    The Intercept does an even better job of exposing Trump’s Naziesque pardoning of the Navy SEAL war criminals. It’s alleged in the article Gallagher shot through the head of an infant to kill an “ISIS” soldier and bragged about it thereafter. The monsters win when you become the monsters you’re fighting. These pardons are also an impeachable offense as far as I’m concerned.


    An excerpt from the article. God bless America, my ass. God damn America is more like it. This guy’s going to do something horrible in the next several years to a decade. He’s already done horrible things and he has uncontrolled PTSD and he’s a drug addict on top of that. Trump has now given him sanction and a green light to be Trump’s personal domestic sleeper terrorist who could blow at any moment. Any school in proximity to where this freak resides is in danger. His wife is in danger. Innocent civilians are in danger. This freak can and will blow at any moment. The best result would be for him to off himself without hurting anyone else, but we know that’s not how these cowards roll.

    One of those incidents involved 2010 deployment to Afghanistan during which Gallagher was accused of killing a child. Gallagher shot at a Taliban fighter who was holding a girl in his arms as a human shield, killing both the child and the militant, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Gallagher’s lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, told the paper that Gallagher “felt remorse,” adding: “He tried to take a head shot; it went low.” Gallagher was investigated and cleared of wrongdoing in connection with the shooting, according to the Union-Tribune.

    But two SEALs with direct knowledge say that Gallagher continued to revel in the story and retell it, using it to promote his image as a tough, battle-hardened SEAL. One of those SEALs told The Intercept that when Gallagher was a BUD/S instructor, another instructor who had served with Gallagher in Afghanistan told a group of trainees about the operation in which the girl was killed. He described a Taliban fighter or other militant who used his small children, including a baby, as human shields in an effort to avoid a U.S. attack. The instructor described two SEAL snipers in his platoon setting up for a shot on a day when the target cradled a very small child against his chest. One of the snipers was a young SEAL, new to the platoon, the instructor said. The new SEAL refused to shoot the target while he held the child. But the second sniper was willing and fired through child to hit the target, killing them both. The instructor derided the young SEAL and told the class, “Thank God we had a real Team guy,” willing to shoot the child. Gallagher subsequently confirmed that he had been the shooter, telling his trainees, “I got him.”

    Later, Gallagher told the story again to his new platoon in SEAL Team 7, adding that he shot the very young girl in the skull because “you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet,” according to a SEAL who heard Gallagher tell the story. In hindsight, each “red flag” should have been an indication that Gallagher needed to be disciplined or removed from his leadership position in the platoon.

  5. realitychecker

    All is well.

    Seriously, folks, time to educate yourselves about the basic foundation of fairness that underlies the formal process rules and also the very concept of due process referenced in the Constitution.

    Process just means “the most basic rules of the game”; everybody is supposed to understand those basic rules, which are supposed to guarantee that we all get the exact same kind of treatment once government power is being deployed.

    Then we build upon the foundation provided by those basic rules more specific statues and regulations with the legitimate purpose of providing specific guidance with reference to all the various possible fact and behavior combinations that are known to commonly arise in civilized, organized societies.

    Liberals are historically quick enough to recognized and complain about any instance where they feel that THEIR process rights are infringed. How can they all be so comfortable with the easy dismissal of all the process violations that we know about re the Dem pursuit of all things Trump?

    It’s hard to respect anyone who is willing to go along with this wave of “It’s just a process argument” talking points that we are being bombarded with these days. It’s hard to imagine a more “cart before the horse”-ey mindset than to assert that the facts can get a fair hearing where the process has already been deliberately eviscerated.

    Any serious person should know, just as EVERY lawyer knows, that when the basic process rules have been violated, you address that before you start arguing about specific facts, because the way process has been followed or violated constitutes the equivalent of the framing of the discussion, and therefore goes a long way toward defining, limiting, and controlling the discussion that follows.

    So, when someone argues that process violations don’t matter, one should immediately know they are ignorant, hypocritical, operating in deliberate bad faith, and/or have slipped into willful amorality.

    Those are all despicable characteristics. Good people would maintain higher personal standards than to sink so low just to try and ‘win’ a political argument.

    By their fruits shall we know them.


    That head shot to the young child the “ISIS” soldier was using as a shield is the same thing as Viagra for Trump. Melania can’t get him up any more, but porn like this makes him spill his damaged, inferior seed without him having to even touch himself. See, Trump’s graduated from throwing rocks at toddlers as was his wont when he was just a young lad. He now prefers head shots to infants and his supporters emphatically cheer him on until they are no more.

  7. bruce wilder

    It has occurred to me that idiocracy might not be properly attributed to any of the visible social processes that produce its artifacts — talking heads shouting on teevee, celebrity journamalists doing political reporting as if it were theatre criticism, cultural memes so stupid and historically inaccurate that crows and dogs remain skeptical, government policy so completely controlled by greedy, cruel rich people that no one even questions the outcomes. It could all be something like lead poisoning in the 1960s from lead in gasoline pervading the atmosphere: some insidious by-product of, say, plastics and petrochemicals and herbicides and nerve-agent insecticides. Humans are being taken down by the same or similar mysterious combination of accumulating environmental poisons taking down the bees and other insects.
    While we are waiting for our population growth and economic growth to exhaust our resources, and our accumulating wastes to overwhelm the assimilation capacity of the earth’s atmosphere and oceans, hoping human intelligence is not a mirage, we have lost the capacity to reason collectively to . . . maybe the fad for “disposable” plastic that isn’t.

  8. nihil obstet

    Reading about Trump’s plans to invade Mexico, it occurred to me that the president of Mexico is getting a wall built to protect Mexico from invasion, and he’s getting the U.S. to pay for it!!!

  9. Ché Pasa

    Anticipating the 20th Anniversary of the Supreme Court’s lawless intervention in a presidential election to hand victory to G W Bush and cronies because Sandra Day O’Connor couldn’t stand the thought of Al Gore as president and Antonin Scalia was convinced there would be a civil war if Bush wasn’t handed the presidency — and chortled about it the rest of his life.

    Nothing really has improved since then.

    We live in those fabled Interesting Times.

  10. KT Chong

    I just found out why many Asians do not support Bernie Sanders, (i.e., myself is a Bernie supporter.) It has to do with education, more specifically, the student loan forgiveness program.

    Most Asian and immigrant parents in America save money, mortgage their houses or take out loans to send their kids to colleges and universities, because they do not want their kids to be saddled with heavy debts for education. On the other hand, my understanding is Black and White kids often have to take out student loans on their own because American parents typically do not pay for their kids who are 18 or older. That explains why a lot of Asian Americans (including Andrew Yang) and immigrants do not support Bernie Sanders’ student loans forgiveness program — because Asians won’t be able to benefit from the programs, (i.e., given that most Asian parents instead of their kids take out the loans for the Asian kids’ education.)

    So, relatively speaking, a lot of Asians will be disadvantaged by Bernie’s student loan forgiveness: as American (Black and White kids) will be absolved from their student loans, Asian parents will still have their second mortgages or loans that they take out to send their kids to college. In a way, Asians are being penalized by the student loan forgiveness. It is yet another example of how different ethnics often have very different interests, and how one program designed to help one demographic groups would inevitable hurting another, (like affirmative action.)

  11. Hugh

    So far this year (January-November), net total nonfarm (i.e. public and private sectors combined) job creation sits at 2.421 million. This is 618,000 fewer than my benchmark year of 2014, a year of solid jobs growth, but almost identical to the 2.419 million jobs created to this point in 2016, a bad year for jobs.

    In the private sector alone, November was a good month for jobs growth at 504,000, seasonally unadjusted (vs 351,000 in 2014). But what this indicates is that employers are hiring noticeably later (also fewer and for a shorter period of time) for the end of the year holidays job build. Net job creation in the private sector for the year is 2.137 million, compared to 2.797 million in 2014 (660,000 fewer) and 2.099 million in 2016 (or 38,000 more).

    Bottomline, 2019 has been a bad year for job creation in terms of the numbers, this before we even begin to talk, as Herman notes, about job quality. It is frustrating to see stories in neoliberal rags like the NYT or hear pundits on cable with their seven figure incomes (most of whom have never read a jobs report and certainly none of whom understand what the numbers actually mean).

    Note: Net job creation means the January-November increase in jobs minus the previous December to January drop off in them. All numbers are seasonally unadjusted, that is closer to showing what actually happened in the economy.


    KT Chong, how’s the weather in Idaho? Are you and Randy going rabbit hunting tomorrow?

  13. Hugh

    This is the ethnic composition of the US according to the US Census:

    White alone, not Hispanic or Latino 60.4%
    Hispanic or Latino 18.3%
    Black or African American alone 13.4%
    Asian alone 5.9%
    Two or More Races 2.7%
    American Indian and Alaska Native alone 1.3%
    Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone 0.2%

    Not sure why some fraction of 5.9% of the population should call the tune for the rest of us.

  14. bruce wilder

    apparently the “left-wing” President of Mexico wants protection for his country’s wage repression scheme more than he wants to solve the problem of gangs or petty corruption. (Could absurdly low wages be related to emigration, crime and official corruption? No word on that.)


    Mexico’s a lot like America. They should become one. Just like in America, Mexico’s president is owned by the cartels.

    You want to put an end to the cartels? In Mexico at least? Decriminalize cannabis and end the war on drugs entirely.


    Not sure why some fraction of 5.9% of the population should call the tune for the rest of us.

    Great point, Hugh. As well, the 20% (the oligarchy and their managers) should not get to call the tune for the rest of us. Scratch that, on second thought. The 20% may call the tune but not for us. They call it and we have to live, and ie, with it and by it with no say whatsoever.

  17. realitychecker

    Any reliable numbers on the percentage of the population in the “transgender” category?

    Just askin’ . . .

    Don’t ask me why.

  18. Z

    Well, Harris is out, a political performance actor that got onto a stage that was much too large for her. And Beto too.

    I thought they might get enough funding to keep them in the primary to take dilute Bernie’s share of the votes in their huge home states. But Beto owes a lot of his political standing in TX to DSA and that wouldn’t have played well with them. And apparently Harris was looking at an embarrassing showing in CA, which would have weakened her political standing in the state so she dropped out a few days before the deadline to withdraw from the CA primary. Neither of them had the gravitas to survive the scrutiny of a presidential campaign and never will IMO. I’m thoroughly amazed they even thought it was in the their interests to run, particularly Beto. They both embarrassed themselves in the end.


  19. Z

    Young Republican Pete will be the next biggest name to go. (What is the first thing a gay republican does if he decides to run for political office? Become a centrist democrat!) He is just in it for the brand building. Some of our rulers probably think that he can be of some use to them so they have him performing on the national political stage. (What you are against the bill Pete proposed that lowers taxes on hedge fund owners? You must be homophobic!) The stage is not too big for him though. He is much calmer and collected than Kamala and Beto. Our rulers will probably find him a liberal district and try to get him a House seat.

    There is no other argument besides brand building for him to stay in the race. He has no electability argument because there is no way that a gay man will become the president of the United States. And he is of no value as a running mate, he’s a ball and chain.

    A gay woman has a better chance of becoming president than a gay man. And it is just as well. A gay woman president will get merely a weary shake of the head from the religious right. A gay man president will bring about anger and marches and a right wing religious sect that believes that what the left mistakes as global warming is actually God slow roasting us because we have elected a gay male president in God’s chosen country. Visions of God and Satan around the fire pit with God tending to the fire and turning humanity on the spit and God looking across the burning coals to Satan and saying, “Well, you won the bet.”

    But YR Pete is going nowhere in his political career IMO. People aren’t drawn towards centrists when they think the planet is literally turning into hell.


  20. Z

    Bloomberg and Patrick are in and they both should be considered together because I think that’s the plan: Patrick being Bloomberg’s running mate. The hopes are that Bloomberg can gain some support as a centrist democrat, grab some of Biden’s supporters as his mental condition deteriorates, and Patrick can use his melanin to peel off some black Obama supporters as well to run as 3rd party candidates to prevent Bernie from winning the presidential election. I think they’ll fail badly at building enough support to do that and Bloomberg is about to personify peak billionaire hubris and will become a joke with how much money he will end up spending per vote. Patrick does not resonate with black America either. Maybe the idea is to do it in the other direction: Patrick as the one and Bloomberg as the two, but Bloomberg’s ego probably won’t allow that even though that would be their most effective combination. He could bankroll it though. Note that the democratic party is not asking him, as far as I know, to pledge to support the nominee like they did with Bernie.

    Anyway, they offer no one anything except as a protest vote against the vulgarities of Trump and the “evil” ideology of socialism. But if people feel that strongly about not voting for either one of the major party candidates, why would they even bother lifting a pencil to vote for the representatives of the billionaire party? I can understand people voting for the Green Party (I done it!) or with libertarians as a protest because you believe in their ideology and are proud enough to vote for it even though you know they’re not going to win. But Bloomberg-Patrick doesn’t offer that or any electability argument. I think they would even probably hurt Trump more than Bernie with some moralistic republicans disgusted by Trump and wary of socialism so they choose the only sane candidate: a centrist billionaire.


  21. Z

    Warren is fading. That started after she started qualifying her support for medicare-for-all. And Bernie also got a boost in his polling numbers as Warren has lost support. I find that development very encouraging. To me that means that young women that may have been supporting her because she was a woman are leaving her and going to Bernie. And rest assured that where young women go, young men are sure to follow. “Me too, baby.”

    Warren is peeved about the injustices of the American economic system, she is not pissed like Bernie is. She is irked instead of angry. She looks at the injustices of the economic system in terms of numbers and statistics. It’s not fair that so many families have to struggle and how some of the rich prey upon them. But she doesn’t know or relate to the people or their problems. Bernie does.

    They both apparently grew up lower middle class but part of the difference is that Bernie grew up in a very densely populated city and probably lived in an apartment building. The kind of place where you could hear Mr. and Mrs. Jones argue about the Mr. losing his job and how they were going to be able to scrape by until he found another one. And you saw their son Bobby crying when he fled the apartment to get away from the fighting to get away from it and be with his friends. Both of Bernie’s parents died when he was fairly young as well so he realizes first hand how this economic system literally grinds its workers to death.

    Eventually, Warren will have a big decision on her hands when she drops out of the race: back Bernie or Biden? It probably won’t have a decisive influence on the race but it will distill precisely who she is and what her character is. She could always hide behind her “I believe in markets” schtick and throw herself behind Biden, but how could she back the man who wrote the bankruptcy bill she rails about and still maintain any moral consistency?


  22. Z

    Bernie is probably going to win the nomination if he is not murdered first. It’s start to shape up that he can have a very big first weekend and if that happens Warren’s candidacy may be mortally wounded and Biden’s, like himself, in tatters. His polling numbers are very likely understated and probably majorly so. Biden’s are probably inflated. I believe that youth vote is going to be much larger than ever before. They are mobilizing and feeling desperate because they perceive their capability to live full lives is being taken away from them.

    If it ends up being Bernie against Trump in the general election, it is going to be one nasty general election season. There is no love lost between those two and Trump is going to hit him hard on immigration so there’s probably going to be major pro and anti immigration rallies, perhaps dueling ones at times.

    Bernie was wrong in joining in the Trump is a national crisis hysteria and should have shown Trump some more respect as a human being than he has. I believe he got caught up in it when he campaigned for Hillary because what else could he campaign on? He couldn’t campaign on the basis of her policies after attacking her on them during the primaries, so all he had left was to attack Trump.

    And where Bernie was wrong in that is that he still supports Obama though Obama was much worse than Trump. But Bernie is caught in that position as well in some ways because he’d probably lose a substantial amount of support within that f’ed up party if he harshly criticized Obama and his policies.


  23. Z

    If Trump loses to Bernie, I will consider his four year reign as successful since it led to Bernie. As it is now, I have no hatred towards Trump. He is a much better president (read: less damaging) IMO than the last three have been. Even if you go by just the first terms, thus far compared to Clinton (NAFTA), Bush (Iraq War), and Obama (selling out a nation’s hopes to his sponsors), I see it as pretty clear that he has been better.

    And the basis of that is partly because he hasn’t started any new wars. He hasn’t taken the bait that Israel lays in front of every president to go into Syria by their false flag gassing. Going to war with Iran would have been incredibly stupid, but though he has blustered about it, he hasn’t gone into there. He scared me by bringing in Bolton, but obviously he did not defer to him and despite his impulsiveness and childishness, he’s actually been a mature adult about going to war.

    And maybe part of that is due to him wanting to give his supporters at least that to defend him on. He ran as being critical of the U.S.’s wars and say what you will he’s lived up to it for the most part. If the only reason he’s doing it is so his supporters can always say that, well good enough for me. He lives up to it, I’ll be glad to say it.

    The difference between Trump and the last three presidents is that he is not as much of a political performer as they are. He is a reality TV show performer turned president. He plays to the crowd while the other three have played to their sponsors.

    That’s not to say that he has lived up to most of his promises. He’s only gone small ball as far as I can see in H1-B visa restrictions and a major infrastructure spending program is still non-existent as far as I know. His trade policy with China has been haphazard and off the cuff, but at least he’s done something about it and has drawn some blood from that side.

    But what Trump has done is he has ground the gears a bit of our rulers’ machine. It’s not been nearly enough, he’s not even been a good president and is emotionally unfit for the position, but he’s been better than his predecessors who gave our rulers damn near everything they wanted.


  24. Z

    And the Head PR Man of the One Percent is looking on nervously. And he is looking old as well.

    I am usually sympathetic to people looking older, but I’m glad to see it happen to him. He deserves to have his betrayals weigh on his skin. Bush looked five years younger five years out of office, Obama looks ten years older three years out. What he never understood is that he not only sold himself out, he sold his daughters out as well. They’ll be the ones living with his “legacy” which is deteriorating by the moment.

    He’s showing his ass an awful lot lately and if I was him I’d have nightmares about that video of him selling the citizens of Flint out with his condescending circus show with him asking for a glass of water, arrogantly admonishing the audience for their gasps, and then fake drinking it. If there is anything that captures his true essence it is that.

    His day of reckoning is coming. The Clintons have gotten their humiliation by Hillary’s 2016 loss and I don’t know what form Obama’s will come in, but it will come from the black community in one form or another. When he loses their support, he’ll lose a large part of his white support too.


  25. Hugh

    “Due process” is mentioned in the 5th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution, not the Constitution itself. Due process does not mean any process. The 5th Amendment makes clear that due process means legal process: [no person shall] “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The 14th Amendment which comes out of the Civil War and the nation’s recent history of slavery, repeats this language with special focus on the states: “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” I included the phrase which follows merely to point out that “due process of law” and “equal protection of the laws” are not the same thing, although both are fundamental legal concepts.

    Impeachment, however, is a Constitutional, not a legal process, that is it is governed directly by the Constitution, and not by any law or group of laws. The Framers, as they often did, intentionally left both the grounds and the actual process of impeachment and trial fairly open–beyond establishing a few general parameters. House does this, Senate does that. Impeachment for things like treason and bribery, but not just those kinds of things, i.e. high crimes but also misdemeanors. So no, Virginia, legal procedure does not and was never meant to govern here. What the Framers were looking for was a reasoned and considered process, albeit one emanating from and consonant with the ruling class to which they belonged. Any resemblance to legal process was precisely that, a resemblance, an inspiration, but not a requirement.

    Trump has clearly out of his own mouth and those of officials close to him committed bribery. He has abused his office and obstructed all attempts to hold him to account. All these things are impeachable offenses. Of course, most of our Presidents have committed impeachable offenses. What sets Trump apart is his sheer lawlessness. With previous Presidents, they broke the law, they committed ghastly acts, but at least we had some idea they had limits. They might break laws and lie in certain areas, but not others. They might go only so far but no further. Pushback was possible. But with Trump all these limits as damning as they often were don’t exist. He doesn’t just break laws. He is lawless. He will break, not just some law but any law, and he will do so not for some supposed good to the country however debatable that might be but simply if he sees any benefit to himself personally coming from it. And that is the real danger Trump poses to us. We don’t know what he will trash next, only that he will. At the same time, we have the spectacle of his supporters demanding “process” and “legal” requirements for a President who has no use for either. And indeed for whom no process and no legal threshold could possibly meet their demands, except no process, no investigation, and most importantly, no impeachment at all because Der Fuehrer hat immer recht.

  26. bruce wilder

    I see the words on the page: bribery, clearly, lawlessness, trash. I see the long preface about impeachment meaning whatever Congress chooses to do with that label. I see Godwin’s law satisfied.

    I still do not understand what this is “really” about.

    Trump is crass. He sometimes says the quiet part out loud and acts without the cutouts used by others for plausible deniability. He talks like a third-grader. He shows symptoms of hypomania. And, he is (too) old for the demands of the job. He is weak, in the sense that he has no commitment and no apparent depth as far as policy is concerned.

    The thing is, policy and governance have been so bad, Trump is merely mediocre, in policy effect another reactionary conservative for the most part.

    But, I do not see that the Democrats have made a case for extraordinary removal from office. They marched some self-regarding members of the Blob before the cameras to express dismay that he isn’t reckless enough in antagonizing a nuclear power.

    Trump, chief magistrate of the United States, asking a head of government for an investigation, is not a crime or a sin. That he did so with arguably mixed motives is far from a prima facie case. That he resists mightily the invasion of a President’s prerogative to conduct the foreign policy of the U.S. is to be expected — it is required by his role.

    That the Dems would go after Trump for going after Biden and in the process go after Trump for doing what Biden did (and bragged about!) is proof that the first casualty of purely partisan politics is irony.

    The deep problem here is the legitimacy crisis that has developed as the Democrats have become the other corrupt, stupid conservative Party supporting tax cuts for billionaires and perpetual war and an authoritarian surveillance state and harvesting the people for banksters. The deep problem is that Democrats (and those identified with their neoliberal/neocon politics) cannot admit they offer no good or even substantively different alternative. Every damn thing they accuse Trump of doing, their own chief candidates do. Biden is every bit the doddering old fool with an uncontrolled mouth and family members with their hands out as Trump.

    Sure, I get that impeachment is what the House votes it is. Fine. But, what is the point? To get Pence? To lose another election in less than a year? Or, to win the election and change nothing? (Like the Dems did in 2006-8?)

    Hear of the fire next time?


    Hugh, that is an excellent non-partisan, independent, objective analysis, the last paragraph especially. My thoughts and sentiments precisely.

    Here’s an excellent video related to #KillingForProfit. If Medicare For All were to miraculously be accepted and legislated, this MUST BE ADDRESSED as part of the reform. My mother, who passed a couple of weeks prior at the age of 91, had a pacemaker implanted several years back and the diagnosis she needed one was flawed because the protocol to determine this does not support & enable or encourage consultation between respective treating physicians. Had the cardiologist been incentivized to consult with my mother’s general practitioner physician prior to implanting the pacemaker, the expensive procedure never would have been performed. Medicare paid nearly $20,000 for all of this. My mother was experiencing heart block which means your heart rate falls below a certain threshold. In my mother’s case her heart rate fell to 35 bpm. As it turns out, it was because of several medications she was taking. The medications were causing the heart block and they could have been altered to mitigate this effect but instead, an unnecessary pacemaker was implanted. My mother was cremated and all seven of my siblings and I had to sign a legal document indicating we consent to our mother being cremated. As part of that document you are required to certify as to any knowledge you have related to devices/substances that may have been implanted in your loved one. I indicated the pacemaker. The attestation seems pointless and unnecessary because, come to find out, they scan the corpse before cremation and remove any devices and/or substances that show up on the scan. I wonder, what does the funeral home do with the still-functioning pacemaker? Do they sell it for several thousand dollars on the secondary market to unwitting recipients in Kenya and Libya? My guess is they are making bank on it in some way and yet that bank is not used to offset the price the funeral home charges for cremation and burial services. I believe the proceeds should back to Medicare and/or Medicaid since Medicaid paid for her nursing home care for the past three years and for her hospice care in the last days of her life. It would be a great story for an investigative journalist, if any are left, to cover. The burgeoning market for second-hand used medical devices such as pacemakers.

    Anyhow, with that aside, here’s the link for those interested. It’s related specifically to stents & statins but it’s emblematic of the for profit healthcare system in general. It’s so egregiously exploitative, it’s downright vampiric.


    So, once again we see the defense of Trump is as realitychequer says, “Whataboutism,” and ironically it’s not how realitychequer presented it since he applied it to Dems and what they do versus Trump supporters and defenders.

    News just in. Everything you say about the Dems is true. So what? We’re talking about Trump. To point to previous presidents and political parties as cover and an excuse is the definition of “Whataboutism.” If that’s your defense, it’s no defense at all.

  29. Marcus

    I recently started reading Morris Berman’s “Wandering God” and it’s stabbed to the heart of why I’ve been fed up with “adult dialogue” as of late.

    My wife is part of our local, small Wisconsin town’s Extinction Rebellion chapter, and they just entered a holiday parade with their Earth funeral art piece (a glowing, paper-mache Earth on fire, being carried in a coffin by pallbearers with skulls painted on their faces, and a rollerblading grim reaper with a sythe going round and round it.) They’d done the demo before, at the town’s harvest parade, but this time it was the last straw. The nice people felt protective over their Christmas and their kiddo’s apparently damaged psyches, and there was outcry to fire the town hall member who approved their parade application, and also a lot of hullabaloo about what this means about the integrity and tactics of XR and its few local members.

    What Berman points out in his book is the water that we have been swimming in for the past however many tens of thousands of years, that we not only can’t see out of, but that we think is the very solution for the problems created by our tunnel vision. Despite the projections of modern historians, pre-contact wandering peoples did not endorse a “religion” or a “spirituality.” They did not rely on idealogy as their bread and butter, because they didn’t live a life anywhere near as ridiculously mediated as we do today. They were WITH all their relations, and that was their spirituality. I once wrote a hip hop lyric about the roadkill moose I turned into meat, lamenting how one of my teachers had drilled into my head that I’m supposed to spiritualize nature in order to become one with it:

    “Cause the truth of the moose is in her use
    Not using her to be somebody’s spiritual muse”

    Berman also writes about how this mediation from the divine, from truth, or from an “effective life” has made rhetoric, charisma, and shopping for the right worldview to become the bastions of our culture. No longer does it matter if someone knows how to just BE with their relations, what’s important is how you sell your product, your ideology, or your latest enlightening revelation (and I mean even sell it to yourself.) He calls civilized culture vertical, and wandering cultures horizontal. Status climbing and lunging for the divine versus already being there, all on the same plane.

    My sense about this XR and climate change drama as a whole is that we as a culture have become so lost in this verticality that we almost don’t know how to do anything but value signal. My XR friends keep repeating lines from the XR Handbook, and why doing such and such is good because it will create such and such a reaction, which will bring about the desired results. And it’s just bizarre to me. It’s like we’ve become so drunk on our ability to “make progress happen” that we can’t do anything but apply the same magical thinking to every problem that arises.

    I can’t help but sense that the way to be in relationship with what is these days is to accept climate change as THE solution. Not the thing we need to fix. That’s not to say that there’s not places and times, different for different people, where they are called by their own relationships with that everything-that-is to act. But…what arrogance to think we could come up with a better solution to the earth’s crises than the earth’s actual solution?

    Instead, what we have now are a bunch of people arguing over who’s going to speak too soon while the wheel’s still in spin. Which is not only a petty continuation of business as usual, but totally delusional in that it buys into the same old progress myth: if we’re the next culture changer, then history will laud us as the ones that decided the next direction for humanity. But we’ve never been in control.

  30. Ché Pasa

    Trump is in office due to an anachronistic quirk in our electoral system and a very hinky voting and counting process that has led to often unverifiable results over and over again. The electoral college should have been abolished a century ago or never instituted in the first place. There is no excuse for repeated failures to cast and count verifiable votes accurately — except profit.

    In addition, active voter suppression has been a feature of US elections from the beginning. With the removal of the restraints in the Voting Rights Act, voter suppression has gone into hyperdrive, and not just in the South.

    In other words, if those factors were rectified as they should have been, Trump would not be in office. Even he seems to know that. Though what he actually knows at any given moment is a mystery given his advancing addled pate.

    That Trump is not always wrong about everything does not mitigate the harm he does as president. Those who see his actions, non-actions, and rhetoric in purely personal terms: ie, “He hasn’t personally harmed me, and if anyone has been harmed, let them suck it up and carry on — or leave” — are of course going to cheer him on and vote for him again. It’s not by any means a majority of the electorate, but because of those quirks mentioned earlier, it could result in a sufficient plurality of the votes counted (heh) to give him another term.

    In addition, we need to recognize that Trump has been protected against the consequences of his statements and actions all his life. And he still is being protected. He serves the interests of a faction of the Overclass. Apparently, he learned early that if he did that, he could do pretty much whatever he wanted.

    Which he believes he can do as President, too. The constitutional consequence for which he’s eminently qualified is impeachment, but it’s been so long delayed and is so narrowly focused at the moment, it’s almost impossible to think he would be removed from office by the Senate — and he very well might not be if the Senate was controlled by Democrats.

    So that leaves us with a seriously broken presidency; and whatever follows Trump will have as precedent his routine outrageousness, abuses of power, authoritarianism, lawlessness (the second branch of government to adopt a lawless creed, the first being the Supreme Court), greed, personal enrichment and routine maligning of any segment of the population, domestic or foreign, that doesn’t show sufficient fawning and flattery toward the Presidential Person. 

    We can whine all we like about how bad other presidents have been (particularly Democrats of the last generation), but this one is unique, and he is — whether consciously or not — changing the parameters of presidential probity, duty and behaviour. There’s no going back in our system. The precedents he sets now will be used by those who follow him, regardless of party.

    Those who give Trump a pass (because some other candidate or president was “worse”) really need to think about that. You want a fully formed dictatorial presidency? You want to get rid of the permanent government — and replace it nothing or with personal rule from the White House?You want harsh treatment of brown people as the standard? You want looting and pillage of the working class to continue increasing? You want foreign policy chaos?

    That’s what we’re getting — and so much more.

    This is not the better future I envisioned, that’s for sure.

  31. Marcus

    Ian’s post about the people that never have to admit they’re wrong made me think of this. I think the extreme entitlement and manipulations by the uber wealthy are just one manifestation of what I wrote about in the above.

    I’ve been neck-deep in the “alternative community” for a long time. These are the people who are willing to switch to starting fires with sticks or forego electricity and build old fashion windmills to run their wells. And while, sure, they don’t (currently) have the capacity to create as much human and non-human suffering as the super-wealthy, the mindset and valuation of rhetoric and ideaology-world-shaping is just as intense.

    A friend recently pointed out that he thought XR was shortsighted because they don’t have a logistical solution to replacing fossil fuel dependency, and all the implications of their demands. I think the same, except that I think the thing we need to replace/do away with is the mediated reality we live in in our own minds and realities. And, once again, I think the earth will be solving that for us. She’ll run out of gas, literally, and our mediation levels will plummet.

    Eventually, the ability to be and thrive with what is will be once again the sine qua non of being human. And it might take the world and our relationships a hundred years to get there. Rhetoric, I think, can only slow that process down.

  32. Z


    Were you this concerned about the “changing the parameters of presidential probity, duty and behaviour” when Obama claimed the right to murder U.S. citizens without any due process? If not, why not? That should have been the most alarming thing of all, worse than anything Trump has done IMO. Bush lied us into a war that did incredible damage to this country and more importantly led to hundreds of thousands of dead innocent Iraqis (they’re brown too you know if melanin is something you place particular importance to). Bush should be in jail. Clinton got NAFTA passed and unleashed Wall Street and so many other damaging things that I’m not going to bother listing.

    Both candidates knew the rules of the game, Clinton sure used them to her advantage during the primaries. Trump heavily campaigned in the pivotal states that led to him winning the election while Clinton sat on her privileged ass. That Trump won due to some “anachronistic quirk in our electoral system” doesn’t effect his legitimacy. It’s hard to believe that Trump, who never held public office before and doesn’t have nearly the influence on people that could pull large scale voting fraud as Clinton had, benefited overall if there was any cheating.

    Our rulers, the government’s sponsors, have been dictating the rules against the working class well before Trump and if anything had more influence over the last three presidents, who were basically their errand boys, than they have over Trump. Obama had a hell of a lot more to do with the current state of the working class than Trump with his Wall Street bailout and almost unlimited funding for their further corruptive influences on our economy, the sky rocketing health care costs with his health care corporate friendly bailout bill that mandated that we have to buy their product with almost no (if not absolutely no) cost controls, and the merger mania he allowed to happen during his 8 years.

    I definitely prefer Trump’s “foreign policy chaos” over an orderly march to unnecessary wars.

    There is no guarantee that “the precedents he sets now will be used by those who follow him, regardless of party”. The presidents that follow him will have free will. That’s just flat-out histrionics.

    Trump is not pretty. He is not a good president. He is not an acceptable president. But much of the histrionics about removing him from office are based upon the fact that he is Trump and his crassness and immaturity and if he did the same shit but hid it better and had the media on his side, most of the movement against him wouldn’t even exist. The proof is in the fact of what Obama did to the state of this country, which was worse and you could even point to some of his impact on immigrants, and he has something like a 90% approval rating among democrats and a lot of the republicans that hate him hate him for being a Kenyan socialist for goodness’ sake.


  33. bruce wilder

    “We’re talking about Trump.” & ” Trump is unique. ” are doorways to a semantic space where your language makes little sense to anyone outside your tribal bubble. It defeats the purpose of political discourse, which is to coordinate cooperation with at least some people with whom you disagree. For that purpose, you have to be willing to acknowledge an objective reality in common with people of differing points of view, which in turn requires standards of comparison for measurement, the only possible basis for objective as opposed to purely subjective judgement and solipsism. That’s not “whataboutism”. It is sanity.

    Trump, unfortunately, is most certainly not unique or unprecedented or, fortunately I suppose, the new Hitler.

    “You want looting and pillage of the working class to continue increasing? You want foreign policy chaos?”

    No, I do not, but I got them anyway from Bush II and Obama and a fair promise of the same from Hillary and “no malarky” Joe. I saw a parade of “witnesses” to nothing make the case for foreign policy chaos as the divine right of the deep state of which they are paid-up members in good standing, so impeaching Trump as a means of deliverance is not looking real convincing to me.

  34. Willy

    Most of Trumps supporters are not those willing to eliminate neoliberal policies. Most of Trump’s supporters are white evangelicals who believe that he’s a miracle from a God who forgives his many, many well-documented sins because he’s on a mission from that god for some higher purpose.

    You seriously want to coordinate cooperation with people like that?

    It’d be better to mock them mercilessly into oblivion, since the women, youth, minorities and working class being ruined by neoliberal policies are in the majority.

  35. bruce wilder

    Willy: “Most of Trumps supporters are not those willing to eliminate neoliberal policies.”

    You have some polling on that?

    ’cause I recall Trump having to promise to ditch the TPP and NAFTA to win their votes, just as one example

    As far as I can tell from casual observation, most of Trump’s most media-visible opponents are not willing to eliminate or reform neoliberal policies. Or end perpetual war. Or enact Medicare4All. Or raise the minimum wage. Or reform trade policy.

    Helping superannuated Nancy Pelosi, who wasn’t willing to impeach George W Bush over lying us into Iraq and who opposes M4A and other progressive policy, put Mike Pence (or Joe Biden) into the White House does not strike me as helpful.

    On a side-note, evangelicals are not necessarily my favorite people, though I am not OK with your eliminationist rhetoric. As a group, white evangelicals strongly supported Trump, but they make up roughly only a third of the Republican vote.

  36. realitychecker

    The left, when I was a dedicated supporter into the Obama era, was proud of the fact that we seemed objectively justified in being the mockers. But now, it has become clear that the putative left is only fit to be the mockees.

    Logic and reason are better than raw emotion and unthinking appeals to supposed authority. Period.

    I really pity the ones who just can’t seem to get that through their heads.

    And I am grateful for the few who seem to still appreciate the value of careful, precise analysis. Epitomized by bruce wilder, I must say, with unbounded admiration. 🙂

    Perhaps the most important thing would be to stop relying on authority, and start having our own minds and thinking for ourselves, step-by-step, and prioritizing reason over emotion when they seem to be in conflict?

    (Or, we could say, “Nah, that’s just a process argument” lol.)

  37. Hugh

    Trump is racist, fascist, authoritarian. You support Trump, then you buy into those things as well. There is no escaping or equivocating that lets you off the hook on that. No appeal to an amorphous and ever changing, plug in as needed “deep state” gets you a pass. You’re there. Own it.

    Not every argument has two sides. Climate change denial, Holocaust denial, flat eartherism, these are not arguments. They are positions, immune to facts, reality, compromise. If I say two plus two equals four and you say it equals twenty-two, there is no compromise, no way to run a world by splitting the difference and saying it equals thirteen. And as Willy says, if the people you are dealing with are so out of tune with reality, why would they bother to “compromise” from one irreality to another? The Trumpers I know do line up each day to receive their talking points from Fox News or the great leader directly. But the thing is they don’t need to. In the absence of these, they simply invent their own. And it always follows the same formula: Conclusions first, and argument, facts, and evidence twisted or dispensed with until they fit this conclusion. And if they really feeled pressed, there is finally the “What about Hillary and Obama?”

  38. Z

    I suppose what befuddles me the most about the let’s-impeach-and-potentially-criminally-prosecute-Trump crowd is that if he is indeed the madman despotic monster that you say he is then why would you want the stakes to him maintaining his power to either do that or possibly go to jail? That’s what I don’t understand. And he has slightly less than a year left in his term.


  39. Z

    … slightly MORE than a year


  40. Z

    This madman must be stopped!

    And the best way to deal with a madman is to make him madder instead of just voting him out.


  41. Z

    Pelosi recently said that she knew that Bush lied the country into war but she didn’t consider that an impeachable offense.

    You can’t honestly talk about politics in this country without considering cynicism. Cynicism is the currency of our political economy, the lifeblood of our political system. It’s what our politicians too often sell. Who the cynicism is serving is what I place the greatest importance on. And also the magnitude of the damage from that cynicism and who it fell on.

    I saw over 24 years of U.S. Presidents use their cynicism to serve unaccountable entities … corporations, Wall Street, the intelligence agencies … and act against the best interests of the working class and create an economy that grinds its human capital down, mentally, physically, and psychologically.

    From what I see in this Ukraine affair, at worst, is Trump using his cynicism to serve himself and get information on a potential political opponent.

    Sorry, if I can’t be outraged by this matter. I also don’t think impeaching him is of great importance at this point, with slightly more than a year left in his term. Why now over this? To make a stand about the rule of law after all we’ve seen?


  42. Willy

    bruce wilder: so what’s your source? There’s this:

    ’cause I recall Trump having to promise to ditch the TPP and NAFTA to win their votes, just as one example

    Trump made many promises. Yes I know that Republicans are incredibly labile for such “principled” people, but what percentage of whom did he have to promise this ditching?

  43. Ché Pasa

    Defenses of Trump become self-parodies very quickly. What he’s doing and what he’s done are dangerous for the country and the sustainability of life on earth. This does not mean in any way that previous presidents have not been dangerous in their own right. And they were rightly criticized when they were in office just as Trump is rightly criticized now. The strange thing is that his defenders cannot bring themselves to think of him in critical terms on his own account or to criticize him for anything — except possibly his Twitter habit.

    I’ve pointed out some of the specific dangers he represents for the future, perhaps most importantly acceleration of the headlong rush into executive dictatorship, the ultimate confirmation of the Imperial Presidency which has been a factional goal since Nixon. Yes, it’s been a problem with previous presidents — in fact, it goes back to the origin of the country and is embedded in the constitutional concept of the presidency as something akin to an elected (and supposedly legally and ethically constrained) monarch. We’ve gradually jettisoned the constraints over the centuries, and now we have a president in office who has no sense of duty, ethics, or legal constraint on his actions. Whoops! He believes himself to be King-God-Emperor, and many of his fans think of him that way too. It’s what they want.

    As I observe the situation, it’s clear that despite the Impeachment Reality Show (more than one side can play this game, you know), Trump’s mainstream political opposition is preparing to capitulate if they haven’t already done so. He may be an obscenity in office, but his direction is not that much off the track of the trends of the presidency at least since Nixon. The efforts to thwart those trends have become more and more ineffective and ridiculous as the failures pile up. Congress has ceded too much of its authority, the high courts have become partisan handmaidens to factional power, and the People have almost no say in their government, not that they ever had that much.

    And so the full abandonment of functioning constitutional self-government — which has been the trend for generations — is almost here. When his defenders celebrate it with glee, unconcerned for the future, it’s sad but relatively unremarkable in a partisan environment. When Trump is allowed by the supposed opposition to get away with his bullshit, corruption and contempt for “norms,” that’s it, it’s over.

    The fact that he is being impeached for a political crime, trying to strong-arm foreign dirt on his rival for office, and not for any of his other destructive actions is a sure clue that the direction toward dictatorship is not going to change whether or not he stays in office.

    He may be doing the deed poorly and chaotically, but he’s doing it.

    That doesn’t mean we should sit back and cheer it on any more than we should have done so during previous presidencies.

    Lots of people like to claim this is “the end of Empire.” But it’s not. It’s the end of the Republic and the full-on establishment of a very violent and exploitative Empire that brooks no rivals. It’s intended to last till the end of days, which may or may not come by the end of the century. Those who are pushing this future don’t care. They’ve got theirs, don’t they?


    Well said, Ché. I concur. Trump is the symptom, a symptom, and a pernicious one at that. Not something to be cheered and coddled and enabled, but instead something to be loathed.

    Tying this back to an earlier discussion, Aldo Leopold wrote a chapter on cheat grass, or Bromus tectorum if you will, that describes Trump perfectly in metaphorical terms.

    Here’s a link to that chapter. It’s appropriately titled Cheat Takes Over.

  45. ” Climate change denial, Holocaust denial, flat eartherism, these are not arguments.”

    Ah-h-h-h, the Flat Earther top dog believes in what you would call “climate change”. From

    “Flat Earth Society President Daniel Shenton has said in the past that he accepts the science of human-caused climate change. ”

    Why does this not surprise me?

  46. Z

    Who is cheering Ché? I’m just not frothing at the mouth for an impeachment under the circumstances when the reason our rulers are going after him is primarily so that they can arbitrarily impose their power on someone who doesn’t completely adhere to the tenants of neo-liberalism. They don’t care about Trump and his dealings with Ukraine, Biden admitted to doing damn near the identical thing, maybe even worse, and they didn’t lift a finger to investigate it. What our rulers care about is that he is against our trade imbalances with China, has slowed the flow of cheap labor coming into this country, and that he hasn’t obeyed the deep state when they say jump into military action.


  47. Z

    Context is everything when there is no consistency.


  48. Willy

    Cant Trump just be a swampy asshole who occasionally gets it right? Why he occasionally gets it right might be worth discussing. Since Trump pretty much serves Trump, what’s in it for him?

    If Ian’s the preacher, bruce the chief elder, realitychecker the chief elders bitch, Hugh the treasurer and metamars the guy who believes most of what’s being preached except for the fire and brimstone bit… From these humble beginnings where can we all go with this?


    What our rulers care about is that he is against our trade imbalances with China, has slowed the flow of cheap labor coming into this country, and that he hasn’t obeyed the deep state when they say jump into military action.

    Trump is not against any of that and “our rulers” are not that concerned so long as their net worth is not only protected but expanded upon and Trump is doing that. Trump has no ideology unless you call narcissism an ideology versus an affliction. I suppose narcissism can be both. Trump is the Narcissist in Chief. Everything he does is about his own glorification, not some greater cause beyond that. This is why he has such an affinity to Kim Jong-un. He’s envious.

    Without a comprehensive strategy that accomplishes buy-in across the board, Trump’s actions, because collectively they’re not a strategy, are doomed to make matters worse, not better. Industrial jobs are not coming back to America. This is the thing Trump supporters cannot grasp. It’s called automation and AI. It is replacing humans, so even if Trump’s actions towards China manages to get a few companies to manufacture in America, it will be in a highly automated environment and will create very few jobs with a living wage.

    I wasn’t aware the deep state told Trump to jump into military action. Please provide proof that the “deep state” has been egging Trump on to start his own personal war. Instead, he’s sided with bullies the globe over in their tyranny of their various respective polities, Israel the most prominent among them with Saudi Arabia a close second with their genocide of people of Yemen.

  50. Z


    See Iran, see Syria.

    No, I don’t have undeniable proof of what the deep state wants, they don’t invite me to their meetings and allow me to bring a tape recorder, but you can get a pretty good idea from what their embedded mouthpieces in the media tell us. Bolton is a member of the deep state, though a particularly unhinged one, I don’t believe many would deny that.


  51. Z

    Trump didn’t side with Israel on Syria.


  52. Z


    “Without a comprehensive strategy that accomplishes buy-in across the board, Trump’s actions, because collectively they’re not a strategy, are doomed to make matters worse, not better.”

    Why? Haven’t we had bipartisan buy-in into some of the most damaging actions our government has taken? The Wall Street bailout and Iraq immediately come to mind.


  53. I have started a new sub-reddit, called /r/bad_science_culture , which is meant to document dysfunction concerning the various scientific and medical fields (rather than debate specific scientific issues). It is more about exposing bad BEHAVIOR amongst scientists and medical researchers and practitioners, rather than the merits and demerits of specific scientific claims and practices.

    The first blog post ultimately sources from a scientist, Cliff Mass, who believes anthropogenic CO2 is a serious concern, to the extent of calling for carbon taxes. He seems to be, nevertheless, highly ethical.

    From Cliff Mass’ blog:

    This blog will describe a series of serious violations of freedom of speech and academic freedom at the University of Washington.

    It will describe how a Dean and her senior staff at UW’s College of the Environment (COENV) have suppressed diversity of viewpoints and censored the social media of faculty and staff, including this blog. I will review apparent violations both of the faculty code and constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech.

    What I will describe should concern you, no matter where you are on the political spectrum. Progressive or Conservative, Democrat, Republican or Independent, you should care deeply about the suppression of viewpoint diversity and the restriction of freedom of speech in favor of the partisan agenda of a group of university administrators.

    With any luck, I will DOUBLE the number of followers from my first sub-reddit, from 3 to 6! Woo, hoo!

  54. Willy

    I know this new study won’t sway climate change deniers. It can’t, because nothing can. The reason for that is simple: This isn’t about the science. If it were, the conversation would have been over years ago. Instead, it goes on, because it’s about ideology, not facts. It’s nice to see the previous scientific studies bolstered by this independent one, and there’s more good news in that the American public now seems to understand that global warming is indeed real

    –Phil Plait, AKA The Bad Astronomer

    Blasphemer. No blasphemers should be allowed in. Not only is Phil an astronomer, for chrissakes, but a bad one as well!

  55. Hugh

    Trump pulled troops out of Syria, except for where the oil is, but we actually have more troops and military assets in the Middle East now then when he did this. Most of the forces from Syria went to bases in Iraq and troop levels in the KSA were increased. It makes for an interesting exchange. We send troops there to defend the Saudis and they send products of a virulently xenophobic, anti-Western education system here to kill us.

    Trump’s trade war with China led to $16 billion in subsidies to large agri-business types and some farmers even as Trump is now cutting 700,000 to a million off food stamps. Priorities, priorities! Meanwhile some American businesses like the piratical Apple have decided to move some of their manufacturing out of China (hooray!), not back to the US but to places like Vietnam (oh!).

    BTW Hamilton favored a monarchy and wanted to make Washington king. Fast forward two hundred years and we have a bunch of Americans who want to make Donald Trump, a clown version of Benedict Arnold, king. Is that progress or what? I see Trump as the last gasp of angry white men to keep control of the system through such measures as a dictatorial Trump, voter suppression, gerrymandering, the Senate, and the electoral college. Thing is for all this anti-democratic manipulation of the system, they are still losing control over it. Most of them have gotten nothing and often a lot less than nothing from this system they have lied and cheated so much to maintain, but they certainly have honked off an increasingly large majority of the country to whom that control is passing. Rather than make alliances with that majority and maybe get something from a system that has been screwing them over too they seem intent on going all Untergang and defending the current one to the end.

  56. @Willy

    “This isn’t about the science. If it were, the conversation would have been over years ago. ”

    You haven’t given enough context to know what this new study is; nor what definition of “climate science denier” Plait is making use of.

    IIRC, an average IQ of a Ph.D. recipient is about 120. It’s probably a bit higher for astronomy Ph.D.’s I have to assume that Plait has the intellectual machinery to disambiguate “climate change” and “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming”.

    If he consistently fails to do so, then, we can conclude (at least I do) that he is functioning primarily as a propagandist. He is like the dishonest players at the University of Washington that Ciff Mass describes:

    “When I objected to Mr. Albright’s firing and the exaggeration of the snowpack loss, I was told that although I might be scientifically correct, I would be helping “climate deniers” if I gave the correct information. I needed to stand with those pushing excessive numbers, to get people to do the “right thing.” Even for the wrong reason. According to some of my colleagues, the ends justify unethical and untruthful means. I just couldn’t go there.”


    There’s little point attempting a rational debate, on a relevant subject (e.g., CAGW, and not “climate change”) with people who have no real interest in doing so. Similarly, there’s little point attempting a rational debate with a bona fide, dishonest propagandist and/or tribalist.

    I wish Cliff Mass good luck, but he is up against a special brand of dishonesty. In general, it’s “six of 12 of one vs. a half dozen of the other” as to whether it’s better or worse to waste energy interacting with a special brand of dishonesty, vs. a special brand of stupid. In Mass’ case, his career may hang in the balance, so he may not have a choice.

    If they have any (political) brains, groups like the Heartland Institute would leap to Mass’ defense. If they don’t, I hope Mass has the good sense to appeal to them for help.

    So…. do tell us, Willy, whether Plait is functioning as a propagandist. Because if he’s not, then his statement doesn’t make much sense. There is, in fact, lots of evidence and analysis that we have not injected catastrophic levels of CO2 into the atmosphere. If Plait discovers yet another piece of “science” that says, otherwise, he should at least delve into the details, if he want to be taken seriously (as a scientist; as opposed to a successful, but dishonest, propagandist). And that’s just for starters. Otherwise, we may just have to lump him into the the same sort of group of “ends justify the means”, liars and cheats, that Mass is exposing.

    The situation with Mass illustrates another reason I’m not thrilled with Trump, though I thank God he’s the President, and not Hillary Clinton. Trump has done nothing (that I know of) to clean up the financial basis of corruption of both major political parties (as researched by Gilens and Page). And he has also COMPLETELY FAILED (again, AFAIK) to clean up any of the scientific swamps.

    In fact, except for mess with climate science, I’m not even sure that he knows anything about these other swamps. Having a “low information” President, even if he’s an outlier in many ways (some good), has a stiff downside.

  57. bruce wilder

    Ché Pasa: The strange thing is that his defenders cannot bring themselves to think of him in critical terms on his own account or to criticize him for anything

    I don’t see that at all. Even our own metamars takes a couple of swipes at him.

    Ché Pasa: the full abandonment of functioning constitutional self-government — which has been the trend for generations — is almost here. When his defenders celebrate it with glee, unconcerned for the future, it’s sad but relatively unremarkable in a partisan environment. When Trump is allowed by the supposed opposition to get away with his bullshit, corruption and contempt for “norms,” that’s it, it’s over.

    I fear that when the partisan “opposition” focuses on “norms” but refuses to oppose Trump on substantive policy, it’s over.

    Years ago, I remember reading Paul Kennedy’s The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (1987), well-timed as it was for George H.W. Bush’s New World Order, I naively thought, well, this popular and accessible book will instill self-awareness among political leaders and, surely, this time will be different.

    As we know, that book, like many better books before and since, had absolutely no effect that I have been able to detect.

    The questionable mental state that leads Nancy Pelosi to excuse her own refusal to impeach George W. Bush while pressing the impeachment of Trump over trivialities seems almost dictated by the course of History.

    By giving passes to Bush and Obama, the country’s political class has confessed that it simply lacks conviction that morality matters at all. So, we are left with class-based etiquette about the importance of speaking in code and acting indirectly.

  58. Hugh

    Trump doesn’t do policy. And bribery, abuse of office, compromising national security for personal gain, and multiple instances of obstruction of justice aren’t trivialities.

  59. BlizzardOfOzzz

    The paradox about Trump is that he should have / could have been a realignment candidate. He is basically a liberal in his orientation, similar to Bill Clinton. Trump’s core positions are extremely popular — who but a big-biz shill would support the neolib economics (outsourcing good jobs to cheap labor countries while importing an infinite stream of cheap labor immigrants) that Trump opposes, for example? By opposing Trump unconditionally, libs have ironically pushed Trump towards his only remaining possible institutional support, the Republicans with all their donor-imposed constraints. So his administration has been far more conventionally Republican than his long-stated beliefs, or his campaign platform. It seems possible that in another version of events, a Trump presidency could have gotten a bunch of stuff done that overall would appeal to traditional Ds and Rs — immigration restriction, onshoring of manufacturing, universal health insurance, etc. It was not to be.

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