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

Open Thread

Feel free to use the comments to this post to discuss subjects unrelated to recent posts.


An Australia Picture Worth Those Thousand Words


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – January 12, 2020



    We live in a time when we have too much information and yet not enough. Information overload inundates our capacity to assimilate it via our mental process models. It all becomes so much noise. But all this information isn’t about us any longer or our capacity to process it all. It’s to feed AI so AI can ultimately feed us. Fattening us up for the slaughter to come. Legalizing cannabis is a gesture to keep us compliant & sated as we’re herded and penned in before we’re zapped, much like khat was used in Yemen before the civil war descended harvesting millions in what is an unfolding genocide.,8599,1917685,00.html


    “I want to find out, what has happened to this country?”

    See the parallels? I do.


    Fyi, me pointing out the parallels is not me criticizing legalization of cannabis as a matter of principle. It’s me pointing out that the “powers that be” don’t relinquish something like this without an ulterior motive. The illegal drug trade is a huge profit center for them and it allows them to maintain their black budgets. To relinquish even part of that illegal drug trade means they have something up their sleeve. Is cannabis legalization a trojan horse and a harbinger of terrible things to come?

    “Chill, dude, and pass the dutchi pon the left hand side.”

    “Chelax, bro, don’t look a trojan gift horse in the mouth.”


    Meet the new Shah, same as the old Shah

    Khamenei’s pussified response to Trump murdering his top general isn’t out of concern for “his people.” It’s out of concern for his pocket book. Plus, no doubt Trump and Pompeo offered Khamenei a quid pro quo. If Khamenei digs up dirt on Hunter and Joe Biden, Trump won’t bomb Iran’s cultural sites.

    Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s supporters brag about his modest lifestyle. They fail to mention that he runs a multibillion-dollar corporate conglomerate to fund his political patronage networks. His three most valuable possessions are the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order, or EIKO ; the Mostazafan Foundation; and the Astan Quds Razavi. These businesses have an interest in nearly every Iranian industry and are worth approximately $200 billion, according to our estimates.

    The entities acquired a considerable share of their assets from the systematic confiscation of private property that followed the Islamic Revolution of 1979. They don’t pay taxes, and only the supreme leader’s office can audit them. They use their political connections to outmaneuver their rivals and to win lucrative government contracts. It is no wonder so many Iranians, deprived of basic necessities, resent their leaders.

    A 2013 investigation by Reuters estimated that EIKO was worth around $95 billion, with more than half of its assets in real estate. Established in the late 1980s, its three main holdings are the Tadbir Group, Rey Group and Barkat Foundation. Dozens of subsidiaries and front companies make it hard to ascertain the full extent of the network.

    Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Mr. Khamenei’s predecessor, created the Mostazafan Foundation after the Islamic Revolution. Designed to seize and manage assets owned by the deposed royal family and its associates, the foundation now controls hundreds of companies. A few months ago it published annual financial statements that declared its assets to be around $16 billion—likely a deliberate understatement.


    America preferred an Islamic fundamentalist government in Iran that sought to roll back social and cultural reforms instituted by the Shah (his White Revolution) rather than allow a Marxist government to take power that would have expanded those social reforms and complemented them with more egalitarian economic reforms. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever will be. This is why Bernie will never be POTUS or anyone like him despite the hype.

    The chaos in Iran had alarmed most of Iran’s Arab neighbours, who feared that after the Shah’s downfall armed Marxist groups would take over. A CIA assessment concluded Arab conservatives found it hard to believe Khomeini or a regime associated with his ideas could be a lasting government in Iran.

    But the ayatollah would soon eliminate all the Marxist groups that had supported his struggle. Before liquidating the left, Khomeini and his radical followers would push out the moderates, including Yazdi, on the grounds that they were pro-American and not real revolutionaries.

    A lesson to all so-called “Marxists” and “Leftists.” A lesson to all moderates as well. Never get in bed with these fundamentalist religious tyrants — they are as much an enemy as are the plutocratic capitalists.

  6. Willy

    What do religious tyrants and plutocratic capitalists have in common?

    They would’ve gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling kids! Shouldn’t you all be out getting high or playing video games or studying coding or something?

  7. Herman,

    Yes, the United States is partially responsible for the rise of extreme Islamist movements in the Muslim world. We supported the religious fanatics in order to undermine socialists and secular nationalists. This has caused immense suffering in much of the Muslim world. For example, you could make a strong argument that whatever the sins of the communist government in Afghanistan, most Afghans, and especially women, were better off under the communists. The same is likely true of Gaddafi’s Libya for example, which, while far from perfect, at least was not in the hands of violent militias and did not have literal slave markets for sub-Saharan Africans.

    As for Bernie Sanders, I am somewhat less pessimistic in the sense that I think Sanders can win. Sanders is not really that radical. He is basically a throwback to the New Deal era. I think Sanders can win but he will have to deal with opposition from Republicans and some centrist Democrats as well as from the entrenched federal bureaucracy. That is why I predict that many of Bernie’s more radical supporters will likely turn on him if he gets into office because he will have to make many compromises just to be able to have a functioning administration.

  8. Hugh

    Well, it’s official. 2019 was the worst year for jobs in the last six years. Seasonally unadjusted, as in what really happened, in December the private sector lost 149,000 jobs.
    In my reference year of 2014, a year of solid jobs growth, January-December the economy added 5.210 million jobs vs 4.412 million in 2019. Net job growth (the January-December [12 months] increase minus the previous December-January [one month] post-holiday season drop-off) was 2.906 million in 2014 but only 1.981 million in 2019. A difference of 925,000 and of course, the population, and in particular, the jobs age population, are larger.

    Total nonfarm jobs (public and private sectors combined) seasonally unadjusted tells a similar story. In December 2019, the economy lost 278,000 jobs vs 5,000 in 2014. January-December growth was 5.838 million in 2014 and 5.047 million in 2019, and net growth was 3.034 million in 2014 and 2.139 million in 2019, a difference of 895,000. What this says in terms of jobs is that 2019 sucked, and that almost of all of this suckery came from the private sector which with all the corporate tax cuts isn’t investing and isn’t creating jobs. But I think you all knew that. Still the corporate media continue to push the line that the economy is really strong and a positive for Trump and jobs are being created left and right.

  9. Everyone keeps dancing around it, coming up with all kinds of bullshit stories to distract from the key take away: Iraqi PM Abdul-Mahdi has reported that Soleimani was on the way to see him with a reply to a Saudi peace proposal. Who profits from Peace? Who does not? I’m not necessarily willing to chalk all of this up to drumpf uck, somebody put the target on him. May have been the apocalyptic doomsdayers, the authoritarian dominionists who want to see 2/3 of Israel, 2/3 of the Jews destroyed; may have been Israel’s thrice indicted three-time election loser Nutty Yahoo; might have been the House of Bone Saws, who’s to say. Trump was the tool, someone else pulled the trigger. Every contrived story left to right is just dancing around it.


    Hugh, according to Trump and his cult, 2019 was the best year ever for jobs and no amount of proof will prove otherwise to them.

    I have noticed that food delivery is a burgeoning industry now and being a food deliverer is considered gainful employment. What’s next? Ass wiper?

  11. BlizzardOfOzzz

    Well Hugh, I guess it’s hard to evaluate those numbers without more detail. Obviously it would be a terrible tragedy (for you) if your precious scab labor / commie voter bloc had to return to their respective shitholes. But if their former employers had to then hire 1 American at a living wage where they formerly employed 4 slaves, then that would be a good thing (for us).

  12. Ché Pasa

    Well, lessee, Puerto Rico is going through the grinder again.

    Oz continues burning merrily, but formerly giddy Scott Morrison is now ultra serious about maybe he might-could have done something a bit differently, but Those People down there are just so emotional, maybe not. Things burn, force of nature, oh well.

    Jobs, jobs, jobs. As before, some people are making out like bandits — because they are. Everyone else? At least they can, more or less, get by with their multiple gigs; if not, they were probably nothing more than surplus eaters anyway, right? Right?

    Too many people. Can’t support them all. May as well shed the excess sooner rather than later…

    Meanwhile, it’s interesting that the Iranian gov’t owned up to the shoot-down of that passenger plane on something like an accelerated schedule. I don’t remember how long it took for the US to acknowledge — but not apologize for — shooting down that Iranian plane back in the day. But I’m sure it was way more than three days. More interesting still is the media obsession with the Ukrainian plane and the protests in Iran while maintaining near silence about the actions that touched all this off. Can Regime Change be far behind?

    Well, that and the hoo-hah over Harry and Megan escaping to Canada which absolutely dominated the news feeds while all this other shit and more was going on. Our celebrity culture must have its dose of Royal Scandal, no? Jeeze.

    Oh and Brexit, right.

    Everything’s going according to Plan.

  13. Eric Anderson

    I’ll just file this right here in the “How to Fix Fake News” category.
    The CNN journalists should be forced to stand before a jury of their peers and answer for their crimes.

    But no. The system works just fine.
    More consumer media education. Surely, that’s the ticket.

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