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.


May 1st US Covid Data


Federal Funds Must Go to State and Local Governments


  1. Zachary Smith

    France set to impose 14-day coronavirus quarantine for travellers

    I’m not any kind of a medical person, and what little I know came by way of my reading through the years. That said, either a Border Closure or a long-enough Quarantine of incoming people would have been #1 on even my list of things to do.

    Here it is, May 2, and France is just getting around to this easiest of preventative actions? IMO, the US of A isn’t the only nation with a lot of incompetents in the government.

  2. Zachary Smith

    That Time US Firebombed a Japanese-Occupied Chinese City Killing 20,000

    What bothers me the most about this story is that I’d never heard of it before. This despite have a WW2 bookshelf several feet long. It seems to has been in nobody’s interest to publicize the story, but why didn’t some of my hot-shot authors see fit to at least mention it?

    Roosevelt was a dying man during 1944, and the US military had begun to run WW2 pretty much as it pleased. Despite Truman’s many faults, I’ll give him credit for taking control back from the crazed US warlords. The Navy wanted to starve Japan out. The Army wanted to invade. It’s no surprise so much ink has been spilled in trashing the Atomic Bombing decision, one which shortened the war and minimized the death toll of all involved, friend and enemy alike.

  3. Zachary Smith

    If Trump is a Pathological Liar, What Type of Liar is Biden?

    I’m coming around to the opinion that neither Tara Reade nor all the instances of Biden having “hands-on” with girls and young women ought to be given much attention. These are proving to be a really useful distraction from the real issues with Biden – that the man is a disaster in terms of his past and present politics, and how he lies about everything at least as much as Trump lies about things.

    A site I won’t name had the blogger there speaking on a podcast about how she is a truly dedicated Feminist, and also prides herself as a Civil Libertarian. The woman happily cast herself as a champion in both fields, but her love of the Law overcame the shaky 27-year-old tale of he-said/she-said stuff. I didn’t catch her saying anything at all about the rest of the Biden stuff.


  4. bruce wilder

    Have I ever mentioned how much I loathe the politics of Scott Lemieux (Lawyers, Guns & Money)?

    “Healthcare and [is one] of the most obvious areas where the fundamental policy problems aren’t that hard because of the countless examples of better policies in peer countries, but a high-veto-point system in which every veto point systematically over-represents rural whites (in one case by an absurd amount) makes the political problems immensely difficult-to-insurmountable.”

    Yeah, it is the arcane “system” — nothing to do with plutocrats or Lemieux’s favorite Democrats opposing reforms.

  5. Mark Pontin

    Zachary S. wrote: “neither Tara Reade nor all the instances of Biden having “hands-on” with girls and young women ought to be given much attention. These are proving to be a really useful distraction from the real issues with Biden.”

    Unfortunately, the problem there is that the real issues with Biden — the curriculum vitae of total corruption, continual grifting, shameless and arrogant lying, all the rest — are true of the majority of those in House and Senate.

    Because that’s the game. That’s how they got there.

    Firstly, most of these people wouldn’t have got the initial big money backing them if the big money didn’t have something bad on them to use to yank their chain if they got out of line. Then how they stay there is by doing what the big money tells them.

    Now I’m belaboring the obvious here because what most of us proles don’t get is how very profitable it is —

    “Federal lobbying spending surpassed $3.47 billion last year, a nine-year high … Not accounting for inflation, lobbying spending in 2019 falls just behind the record $3.51 billion spent in 2010 amid a lobbying bonanza around the Affordable Care Act.”

    Now divide that up among one-hundred senators and four-hundred and thirty-five congresspersons. That’s $3.51 billion divided among five-hundred and thirty-five. That isn’t bad, is it?

    They can then take that money and do insider trading, which they’ve made legal, to get really rich. Forex —

    Nancy Pelosi — estimated net worth of $114,662,521 in 2018.
    Mark Warner — estimated net worth of $214,092,575 in 2018.

    And so on.

    Again, I’m belaboring the obvious here — that the crooks have made it all legal and most of them do it — to make clear nobody’s going after Biden for corruption, because they’re all guilty of that.

    That’s why they went after Trump with the ridiculous “Russki, Russki, Putin’s tool” thing, not his emoluments and financial crookedness which, God knows, there’s plenty of evidence of.

    That’s why they hate someone Sanders, because he isn’t crooked.

    That’s why the media will never seriously attack pols on their corruption records. Big money donors who run the media have their own dogs in the race and journos are indoctrinated to Dem or Repug tribalism, usually Dem. If reporters try to push stories that attack pols from their own tribe, they won’t get past the editors and they’ll soon lose their jobs.

    (Full disclosure: I know. I was a journalist and I backed away from it in 2008-2010 in part because I couldn’t bear to write the fluffer stories about the great and good Obama and his wonderful administration I was being assigned to write.)

    Now I’ve gone at length telling you what anyone with eyes can see so as to make it clear that going after Biden or any of them on the real issues is the one thing that’ll almost certain never happen.

    What remains, then, are sexual issues. Short of, as the saying goes, catching a politician with a dead girl or a live boy — and some of them have gotten away with those — in this era charges of sexual assault against women have currency.

    Real issues, though? Never.

  6. Ian Welsh

    There may never be a blog with a better title than “Lawyers, Guns and Money” but I’m not a fan of their politics, at all. (They also are not a fan of mine, so, eh, whatever.)

  7. Z

    The difference between Trump’s lies where he’ll spit something off the top of his head one moment and then emphatically spout something completely different the next and the democrats’ contrived, shifty lies is that Trump’s lies only insult your memory while the democrats insult both your memory and intelligence.


  8. Z

    No one enjoys the performance art of politics as much as Pelosi, a star in a political play whose shallow vanity won’t allow her to leave the stage.


  9. Hugh

    Mark, the rich and corporations don’t have to have dirt on a pol. MBNA bought Biden and he stayed bought. There are plenty of people with the minimally right credentials who will come running for a chance at a certain measure of wealth, power, and of course fame, and sell their souls gladly in exchange. The system also uses a reverse kind of bribery. It offers a wide variety of post-office welfare gigs: lobbyists, consultants, law firms, think tanks, universities, corporate boards.

  10. Et tu, Bernie?

    Jimmy Dore finds out from an insider that Bernie isn’t completely above taking billionaire money. While it can be argued that that was a tactical necessity, the insider that Jimmy Dore interviews has more important concerns about the “movement” that Bernie was supposedly catalyzing.

  11. Stirling S Newberry

    “The Mirror and the Light” arrived! (Thomas Cromwell)

    Just finish a paper on a neural network for global pandemics – my prof man not like it, but it is genius.

  12. Zachary Smith

    Guess Who’s Finally Waking Up To What They Put In The White House

    A new SSRS poll for the Public Religion Research Institute is in line with what other 2020 election polls have been saying: Trump’s campaign is way up Schitt’s Creek without a paddle. His own evangelical base is finally noticing they elected a sociopath and that God has responded with a plague that’s getting them and their families and neighbors sick.

    Even if this is accurate, I view it as a “good news”/”bad news” situation. The good news is that we might soon be rid of Trump. The bad news is that we’d be trading him for Biden.

  13. Zachary Smith

    Tests in recovered patients found false positives, not reinfections, experts say

    Great news if true, and it’s my guess the Korean researchers are correct.

  14. KT Chong

    I have decided whom I am gonna vote for President. I am writing in “Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho” on the ballot for President!

  15. Chuck Mire

    How China’s ‘Bat Woman’ Hunted Down Viruses from SARS to the New Coronavirus

  16. bruce wilder

    in this era charges of sexual assault against women have currency.

    They sort of do. As do charges of “racism”.

    These are phenomena I have a lot of ambivalence about.

    There have to be some issues, some points of grievance, on which power is obligated to react and respond. That American politics and law narrowed the responsiveness of government and law to racism and sexism, however, was not a good thing, because it was done as support for neoliberal disabling of popular economic power. It was, I think, a concession offered almost as a distraction and it worked.

    It worked on many levels and in several contexts. The society can still almost manage a moral panic, can still almost be scandalized. In this narrow space, institutions can be made to act and politicians be disciplined by the revelation of “dirt” about their exercise of power, their reputations harmed by innuendo. Leaders can sacrifice one of their own and in the process demonstrate some sort of probity and a share in the common sense of morality. If leadership wants to sacrifice one of its own, . . .

    And, both “racism” and “sexism” conveniently feed the narratives of partisan division as shown in teevee. Being categories of prejudice, they cross-cut nicely with contempt for populism and the imagined depravity of the unenlightened “white voters”.

    There has been a remarkable investment in undergirding the racism and sexism narratives with academic support. There is an ideological superstructure.

    But, I cannot help but think these “hot buttons” are rapidly wearing out from overuse. I do not have a survey to hand, but the frequency of use seems to me to have increased over the last decade. Being able to elicit an emotional response, “outrage”, diminishes with overuse, and the “outrage” cultures of Fox News and MSNBC are focused on geriatric audiences to boot.

    If people simply drop out of “politics”, psychologically, cease to participate thru teevee proxies, what happens to public opinion as a political force in our oligarchy?

  17. Zachary Smith

    Opinion | She Predicted the Coronavirus. What Does She Foresee Next?

    Painful part:

    She mentioned she wasn’t shocked that a coronavirus wrought this devastation, that China minimized what was occurring or that the response in lots of locations was sloppy and sluggish. She’s Cassandra, in spite of everything.

    But there’s one a part of the story she couldn’t have predicted: that the paragon of sloppiness and sluggishness can be the United States.

    “I by no means imagined that,” she mentioned. “Ever.”

  18. bruce wilder

    @ Zach

    study this phrase more closely, please: topics unrelated to recent posts.

  19. Z

    Some people are distressed by the right wing performance art of armed thuggery at the Michigan state capitol building recently in demonstrations demanding for the lockdown to end. I’m not, I see it as a promising development. They may be wrong on their goals, but at least their aim isn’t off the mark. I’d rather see them go to DC and the Federal Reserve with guns than the Michigan state capitol but I don’t see anything wrong with some of the sociopathic Michigan state politicians becoming familiar with the metallic taste of fear in their mouths after the previous governor had so little fear of the populace that he did what he did to the people of Flint. That dude should be in jail, or worse.

    It’s better that that anger be directed towards our politicians than each other and if I was our political ruling class I’d be fearful about the fact that now that we are out of each others’ hair for the most part that people have more time to mull about who is truly responsible for their woes instead of making people pay for their frustrations based upon proximity and weakness. Hopefully, this anger and movement will eventually get targeted towards where our biggest oppressors do their dirtiest business: DC, the Federal Reserve, and Wall Street.

    It’s a process, and mass working class movements are a messy process I’d imagine, more sledge hammer than scalpel, but we know that our rulers won’t let their boot off our neck due to empathy or a sense of fairness. Their greed won’t allow for that and the only cure for greed is fear. So go ahead, wave those weapons around right wingers, they represent our interests magnitudes more than our scumbag, criminal rulers do.


  20. Ché Pasa

    About those militias and thugs and their hangers on behaving badly at various state capitols. They’re almost exact duplicates (probably including some of the same people) who marched on capitols and waved their guns around screaming during the recounts of the 2000 election. They’re organized by some of the same interests for the same purpose: intimidation of those in supposed authority. They are not “working class” or proletariat. They are mostly petit bourgeois manipulated by a faction of the overclass — the activist rightist faction — so as to further entrench extremist rightist power. It ultimately doesn’t matter what the cause is. But it’s funny as hell to see so many of the screamers, especially the women, railing about not being able to get their roots dyed during the stay-at-home orders.

    Note: Just like in 2000 they’re mostly getting their way. Beauty salons are opening almost everywhere now. In 2000 of course they were able to convince the Supreme Court to lawlessly intervene in the election to hand the White House to Bush/Cheney, and here we are.

    It worked then, it’s working now.

    And, no. The “left” won’t play this game. Nor will the Left at this time.

  21. Z


    You’re right most of the time and you are almost certainly right that at least some, if not all, of the protest groups are astro-turf roots movements, but obviously the organizers don’t have complete control of their lot.

    Without fear our rulers will do little to help the working class with the Fed backstopping their personal wealth and power and I don’t see police being outnumbered by armed protestors in front of a government building as a bad thing, even if it is mostly for show at this point.

    It will probably require a re-opening of the economy and then a second wave of coronavirus in the U.S. for anything to come out of the government that approaches the amount of financial support needed for the working class to comfortably quarantine.


  22. Mark Pontin

    What Ché Pasa says. The dolts with flags and guns are a small contingent stood up by vested interests among the kleptocracy, like de Vos

    The aim is to create pressure on both state and federal-level pols so they end shelter-in-place and lockdown policies and any other measures impinging on the kleptocrats’ ability to exploit the rest of us — and to hell with the deaths and permanent ailments among us proles resulting.

    Note especially that the dolts are given media coverage out of all proportion to their numbers even as the fairly widespread May Day rent strikes across the nation have gone relatively uncovered by the media thus far.

    Par for the course. In 2013 I was living fifteen blocks away from downtown Oakland when Occupy Oakland was there. The scale of the forces brought in by TPTB, and the strength of the resistance by Occupy — as well as the fact that its actual participants were a far more racially and class inclusive movement than, say, in Manhattan — went stringently unreported by the corporate media, by and large.

    The Revolution will not be televised. Not if the kleptocracy has anything to do with it, anyway.

  23. Mark Pontin

    Z wrote: “It will probably require a re-opening of the economy and then a second wave of coronavirus in the U.S. for anything to come out of the government that approaches the amount of financial support needed for the working class to comfortably quarantine.”

    It’s pretty to think so.

    I suspect it’ll take more than that.

  24. Mark Pontin

    Sorry. I mean 2011, not 2012, in regards to Occupy Oakland.

  25. Zachary Smith

    Just got in from a trip to a Big Box hardware store for some “stuff” I needed. At the entry door was a big sign which said in effect, No Mask, No Entry. There was a person there checking, too! Good for them, especially since they offered a $1 mask for sale right there at the door.

    Second wave is bigger than the first (Hokkaido, Japan)

    This big island wasn’t doing too badly until the government reopened things too early. Indiana hasn’t seen the crest of the first wave yet, but WE are also opening up again. Red State Insanity. Fortunately not everybody here is that kind of loco. Kudos to the hardware store I mentioned.

  26. anon

    Man, the Biden Bros are LOSING it over the Tara Reade allegations

    Some commenters wrote that they don’t care if Reade’s allegations are true. I’m glad that this story is finally proving that the majority of Democratic men and women will act the same way as misogynistic Republicans who defended Kavanaugh.

  27. Z


    Well, the snapping turtle from Kentucky seems hellbent on forcing the U.S. worker to fight for the right to work, or else he expects over a hundred million U.S.ers to calmly succumb to financial ruin while patiently waiting in their homes to be evicted or foreclosed on. The most immediate path for the working class to avoid this is is re-opening the economy so it’s no surprise that that’s what the initial push from the precariat is.

    The U.S. will likely re-open too early and then there will be a second, deeper wave of the coronavirus and I suspect our rulers are going to learn at that point that while the Fed can paper over markets, it can’t paper over hard reality.

    Though we have an hyper-atomized society that is economically structured such that we are in constant conflict and competition with each other you can’t keep a hundred million people in a tight pen for long IMO before some sort of powerful collective action to survive emerges that our rulers will be unable to comfortably isolate themselves from, probably in the form of more widespread rent strikes, mass looting, and demonstrations turned violent. Otherwise we’re docile cows following each other into the slaughter house and as low as I think of us collectively, as much as we’ve been beaten down, I don’t believe we’re that.

    Again, I’m encouraged that there are armed demonstrations in front of state capitols. They may be contrived and manufactured, but at least they are somewhat on target, though of course they’d be more justly aimed at the Fed, Wall Street, and Capitol Hill. I’d imagine they’ll eventually get there though, it’s got to piss people off hearing about the Dow rocketing up on the evening news while their personal financial outlook plummets. I’d imagine that there’s an increasing awareness that the Fed is behind that and how.


  28. Z

    The formula that our rulers have used in the past to keep the target of our anger and frustration on each other rather than on them is one heavily based on atomization and the structuring of our society so that we compete and fight each other for the gradually decreasing amount of seats (jobs) in our economic system of musical chairs.

    But now there’s no music and the chairs have all been taken away for the most part so the working class’s past docility has no bearing on what happens from here on out.


  29. Mark Pontin

    z wrote: “…some sort of powerful collective action to survive emerges that our rulers will be unable to comfortably isolate themselves from … Otherwise we’re docile cows following each other into the slaughter house and as low as I think of us collectively, as much as we’ve been beaten down, I don’t believe we’re that.”

    I agree.

    But one should underestimate neither the lengths an elite, defining themselves as the legitimate arbiters of social order, will go to so as to maintain their control nor the extent to which people, as rational animals wishing to survive, will submit.

    In some of the French army’s offensives during the later years of WWI, the French soldiers — poilus — were marched up to the front and then up over the tops of the trenches into no man’s land baaing like sheep en masse to signify their protest.

    Nevertheless, when the order came over the top those soldiers went, many to their slaughter. Because the alternative was what Kubrick showed in “Paths of Glory” — to be summarily court martialed and shot.

    So each soldier was making the calculation that he had some chance of surviving the next battle, but no chance of surviving being pulled out of the line and shot.

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