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 previous posts.


June 3rd and 4th US Covid Data


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – June 7, 2020


  1. Stirling S Newberry

    Cross-Channel Trip

    report Normandy
    wardroom LCIL
    bobbing French lee
    complement officers watch
    resistance miles not Kilo
    B.B.C. announcer
    impressions artillery
    position surprising
    smashed occupied approximately
    good-tempered face
    drinking coffee
    impervious mustard gas.
    le grand tourisme frankfurters
    our fleet of little ships

  2. Z

    The worst elements of the U.S. right have shown themselves to be much less concerned about freedom than they are with privilege.

    Again, this is the worst elements of the U.S. right, I’d imagine that there are plenty of exceptions, but the majority of them seem more worried about having something taken off of them personally than freedom for everyone.

    It’s a zero sum game to them and they allow the authorities to dictate the size of the pie that the working class will fight over rather than fight for a bigger pie for us all.

    Freedom is just a branding they hide behind to make themselves feel just.


  3. Z

    -I would be borderline shocked if Trump doesn’t decline the republican nomination and essentially hand it to over to Pence, but I also predicted Obama wouldn’t run for a second term either since he had so little interest in anything to do with the job besides the celebrityhood that came with it from being the U.S.’s first black, half-black actually, president.

    I’d imagine that he’ll drop out due to the “health reasons” which would be completely accurate since he is a complete mess at this point: mentally, psychologically, and physically. I think he’ll probably work out some agreement behind the scenes so that he won’t have to face a bunch of legal problems after he leaves office, which will be an easy deal to negotiate with the democrats. It’s not like they’re eager to bring accountability to public service.

    -Trump was never about power; he’s only about winning. Power requires some long-term thinking and vision and he is probably more deficient in those two qualities than any other leader of any country in the world. To him, this uprising is only personal, which makes the situation particularly dangerous.

    The Tinpot video of him walking the streets of DC and then awkwardly holding the Bible up for the money shot was the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen yet out of a U.S. president. Low budget banana republic propaganda porn. I’d about guarantee that was 100% him that pushed that and that doesn’t bode well for his judgment at this point.

    -The White House has got to be a madhouse right now with the lack of capable and mature leadership. I want to believe that there is someone in that administration with some brains who has learned how to properly massage his ego to get him to do the smart thing from time to time, but since Bannon left the biggest hope for delivering it now might actually be Melania. She’s not the smartest one, but she might be the sanest since she probably has the least strain on her.

    The best we can hope for is probably a tag team with her and Barr, Barr being too proud and gruff to kiss Trump’s ass and telling her, “Hey Melania, could you tell Donald …” and her nodding and thinking to herself about what would be the right moment for it. She ultimately has the most influence over him being the one who has the most access to his ego.

    Oh, the poorly written books that will come out of this administration …


  4. Z

    The best case for voting for Biden is that the dems still have to pretend to care about civil liberties and that there is a segment of the party that supports that so they’ll have a harder time quelling protests.

    Whomever they have stand in for Sloppy Joe won’t have the celebrity teflon that Obama had.


  5. bruce wilder

    Protest matches are a distraction. Political rhetoric about racism is a distraction.

    The economy is teetering on a cliff’s edge. Vast sectors of the economy are barely hanging on and others are facing nightmare scenarios ahead.

    Leadership on COVID19 is almost pointless at this late stage: the disease is endemic and there are only a few pockets of the U.S. that have the means to control it effectively. We can hope that it evolves in a less lethal direction and peters out — probably won’t.

    The U.S. economy on the other hand will be a shambles very shortly without some kind of vision. Any of that likely from either Party?

  6. bruce wilder

    What passes for a left does not want power and does not want to persuade. As long as they are content in their virtue, nothing will happen.

    We (people who are open to backing reform and restructuring) really need to think about why the MSM’s version of “a liberal” is so feckless and why people of (potential) good will accept this model so readily.

    It is not enough to know what “the Right” is supposedly doing. It is essential to know why the Left offers no opposition and no program of its own.

    If anyone on the left is interested in justice, why is it that there is no criticism of the decision to charge not just the murderer of Floyd, but the two rookies?

    Why is Tara Reade a cause célèbre?

    Why was there so little dissension from Russia,Russia,Russia?

    Why did Sanders meekly endorse Biden?

  7. krake


    Electioneering Democrats are not the left. They are corporatists who just don’t want visible banana-republic problems.

    The left, even those of us aging brigands left over from the Reaganist years of despair, or earlier, is shattered. The New Left hid out in academia, fiddling with dialectics and post-Marxism, while unions, communities and ecosystems were subject to 40 years of criminalization and pillage. Generations of common wealth were stolen, and the so-called liberal opposition settled for symbolism and sinecurage. Corporate education has paid out in acquiesence and collaboration.


    I will reply only as one old leftist (though the Trots and Leninists would surely denounce me as a splitter, since my materialism demands no mystical dialectic):

    Justice is a distraction. It is a bourgeois fetish. Like any commodity/image/ideal that has been fetishized, it serves to anchor those who desire it to the system of their oppression. If you seek justice, you preclude liberation. If you want justice, you don’t want to lose your shackles, you just want a broader distribution of en-shacklement. You want more chains, and lrettier ones. Justice is vengeance, with the state’s patronage. And the oligarchs who maintain that state benefit most of all: the people surrender their autonomy and their collective independence, always more and more, to buttress the legitimacy and the autarky of their rulers.

    As for power that is used to dismantle repression and alienation, such a thing is almost a chimaera. It demands discipline. Revolutionary discipline.

    And there is no revolutionary left remaining. It will take years, years we probably don’t have, to forge new associations, new cells, and a new discipline.

    If the oligarchs fail to install Biden…if Trump and Barr aren’t curtailed, we may get a chance to (l)earn that discipline.

    Or, we may get the ruination of all.

  8. nihil obstet

    What passes for a left stopped long range thinking, in favor of incremental improvement. I don’t know why. Maybe it was the battles of the 60s — the leaders were assassinated, and the masses were met with violence. Those who usually do the thinking and educating the next generation — the labor unions and the professions — did well enough financially to resist big change. They were susceptible to the arguments for fixing small bore shortcomings. And to the arguments that conceding valuable territory was a short-term band-aid for a problem that would be reversed when the problem was solved. So, for example, too many unions accepted two-tier pay and benefits, college professors accepted adjuncts, mid-level management accepted defined contribution retirement. The habit of solidarity was lost.

  9. Arthur

    I was just watching the news in my city. Of course the lead story was the ‘peaceful’ protests against police brutality and whatnot. A few folks were interviewed. I just shook my head. Now full disclosure: I have no intention of marching peaceful or any other way. I’m just glad I’m 65. So take my comments as strictly observations not judgments.

    I consider myself liberal on most issue of importance. I do own a gun and really think more liberals should. Frankly, I think a number do but just don’t like to say so out loud. One thing I noticed about the interviewees is that they appeared to be white suburbanites who said they came down to share the pain. I have no idea what that means. Did they go back home after the march for drinks and BBQ?

    I just don’t see how anyone can think walking around with a picket sign is going to change anything. As Berman says over at Dark Age America change will need true political will and most likely guns. I agree with him that that is unlikely to happen. And would people have the stomach for it if it really began. I know many posters believe that stomach exists on the right but is woefully lacking on the left. I agree. It is woefully lacking on the left. But I do not believe it exists that much more on the right. Of course, at the fringes of both groups the will exists, but not in the center. People in the center of both right and left want to play at rebellion then watch the Bears vs. Packers on Sunday.

    So I go back to what I’ve said before. We are seeing the beginning of the breakup of the United States. Some areas will do well, others okay, and still others will slide into the Dark Ages. How long this will take is anyone’s guess. And it may not matter anyway. May was the hottest May on record, storms are getting worse, and best of all lots of volcanic action in Yellowstone recently.

    To everyone: Stay safe, love those around you, and hug the dog.

  10. Plowhard

    Two great quotes to think of as we watch these young, misguided protesters on tv.

    “ All liberalism is born of low self-esteem.” – a wise anon

    “ Leftism is a religion of self-loathing. It teaches white people to hate their race, boys to hate their sex, women to hate their femininity, Americans to hate their country, westerners to hate their history. What a contemptible, toxic thing it is.

    It also teaches wives to hate their husbands, mothers to hate their children, children to hate their parents. That’s all it does. Turns groups against each other and individuals against themselves. I hate everything about it. It’s poison.”

  11. Stirling S Newberry

    November prominent
    futurist activist
    Momentum Igniting
    tensions Seventeenth
    mechanics suspended
    work stuck dying
    digital-marketing pioneer
    buzzy empowering identifying
    chasm northern central
    short stories rumored
    artificial environment
    unmute candidates

  12. Stirling S Newberry

    One wonders if there was a plan to kill black people to get young voters to riot and die.

  13. bruce wilder

    no plan, stirling, but sometimes things just work out

  14. Z

    -I have never witnessed a revolution unfold, but I’d imagine that they are disorderly processes.

    -If the driving force behind this movement was simply racism then it would have dissipated by now. Instead it keeps gathering momentum.

    I believe one major thing that many do not fully appreciate is just how united the younger generations are in the belief that time is quickly running out for us on this planet, that the systems in place are driving us to extinction. They have the most at stake, hopefully the most life yet to live, and justifiably the greatest sense of urgency. They also have no future in this economic system; capitalism is chewing up the planet and the human stock on it.

    That belief, the belief that our rulers are killing us as a species and that they have to be stopped in order for human life to survive is becoming the driving force behind this movement IMO.


  15. Z

    Our rulers have no moral legitimacy, they’re corrupt thieves, and the younger generation are looking at them like who the fuck are you to impose misery and a decreased lifespan on us.

    They have a point …


  16. Z

    And there is no political solution.

    The energy of the younger generations was poured into the Sanders campaign and then our rulers cheated them out of a fair shake and forced through a candidate who was partly responsible, integral to much of it, for all the sh*t they hated and wanted to change. Plus the dude is obviously demented!

    How can young people look at that and have any respect for the political system, or any belief that there are political solutions available to them? Especially with time running out.


  17. bruce wilder

    Z, I think the idpol outlook of some of Sanders’ youthful support contributed to his campaign’s inability to get past 35%.

    It is tricky business, building a coalition. There is a push-pull involved. Affinity for one group repels another.

    The powers-that-be use idpol, left and right, quite effectively to prevent political organization from below.

    Even the authoritarian brutality of Floyd’s murder can be lost in the narrative of racism, which is the point of pressing the BLM rhetoric. To make the politics ineffectual.

  18. Z


    I look at it this way: there were an unusually large amount of candidates in the race, but Bernie was winning and his supporters had the most passion, by far, and that enthusiasm, that fire would have spread and Bernie probably would have won if it played out politically. He was the most popular candidate in the field when taking into consideration voters’ second and third choices. Instead the DNC cheated right and left and our rulers played heavy-handed chess behind the curtains pulling some candidates off the board and using them to crown Biden and continuing to fund Warren just to hurt Bernie and their maneuvers thwarted the political will of the voters.


  19. Stirling S Newberry

    Bush is thinking about voting for Biden.

  20. Hugh

    Stirling, what is surprising about one conservative Republican voting for another conservative Republican?

  21. Stirling S Newberry

    The failure of the continued conservative-reactionary alliance.

  22. Ché Pasa

    “Defund the Police” is a more serious and widespread movement than I thought. It’s also more complicated than simply zeroing out police budgets.

    Minneapolis boy-mayor Jacob Frye was told to “go home, Jacob, go home!” when he refused to endorse defunding the police at a demonstration the other day. Minneapolis city council, on the other hand, is “exploring” the notion along with other police reform ideas, some of them endorsed by boy-mayor.

    The underlying problem of overtly racist policing is apparently intractable. Police departments cannot be reformed sufficiently to remove it. Therefore, alternative approaches, including abolishing police altogether, are necessary. “Defunding” is one of the alternatives.

    Defunding essentially transfers a significant portion of police budgets to community services. Replaces police with social and health care workers to deal with nearly all the problems individuals and communities face. Reduces or eliminates “policing” as it’s been known. Disarms most or all police.

    There are many steps between the over- and underpolicing that takes place now and the alternatives being seriously discussed in city halls and county governments all over the country. The idea is no longer radical, but it’s not yet popular because most people have no idea what “defunding” or the other alternatives mean. Or how their own safety and security can be enhanced or ensured in the first place.

    There seems to be greater support for transformation or elimination of the very idea of “police” than I thought, too. Some of it coming from the Overclass. So I’d be very careful about what is being proposed. On the other hand, the current situation in unsustainable.

  23. GlassHammer

    So in the spirit of posting something of use and easily accessible I will share one food growing tip. (Food growing is what I spend my time on in the summer so it’s going to be the focus of any piece of advise I have.)

    Tip1. When starting a garden all you need is a shovel and the ability to dig two holes. You don’t need a tiller. Just dig a hole deep enough to cover the end of the shovel plus a few inches. The soil you moved out of the ground needs to be placed on the surface and broken up into small pieces and the soil at the bottom of the hole needs to be broken up as well. Use your shovel and hands to break up the soil in the ground and in the pile of dirt you removed. Repeat this process for the second hole. Now you should have two holes and two piles of broken up soil. Now what you are going to do is move the piles of dirt into the opposite hole (the one it didn’t come out of). Congrats, now you have two plots ready for two plants.

    Now before the last step you can add biomass into the hole before it’s filled, I like using small sticks and leaves since they will slowly decay and feed the garden. (I got the idea from hugelkultur gardening) Just avoid putting things with too much nitrogen in the hole since it can damage the roots of your plants.

    To scale this method you would be digging two trenches to form your garden. Just scale it based on what you can manage, you don’t need to injure yourself.

    I should point out that there are better methods of starting a garden that are less disruptive to the soil structure but this is the best I know of for people with very little cash.

  24. bruce wilder

    “Defund the police” is not senseless as policy (especially in places like NYC where the police force is huge and clearly overfunded). But, it will also seem on its face as absurd to a lot of people: as politics, it seems almost designed to provoke a hostile reaction and pushback from certain classes in the community. The merchants on Melrose Avenue, who desperately put BLM slogans on the plywood covering broken windows, are not going to be a source of support long-term. If you have windows broken, broken windows policing makes a lot of intuitive sense.

    And then there is what centrist politicians and media are going to do to pervert and subvert the politics of an anger that can be redirected into impotence by manipulating tribal hostilities. Making police themselves an irredeemable enemy that must be eliminated is not a good look. Identifying an enemy is making an enemy. And, the centrists will help identify the wrong enemy everytime.

    Keith Ellison is not a friend. He showed that when he charged the rookies. If the problem is the “system” the sponsors and managers of the system have to be exposed to liability. So far, the anger is being deflected from the monopoly of political power held by billionaires and their neoliberal lackeys.

  25. It never fails to amaze me when people, large numbers of people, decry “police brutality” and support public unions. Do they not realize that it is police unions which make it impossible to fire bad cops? The Minneapolis cop who had his knee on George Floyd’s neck had 18 complaints of excessive force against him. Two resulted in letters of admonition, 16 were dismissed altogether. Some were undoubtedly bogus complaints, but…

    Don’t get me wrong. I am a “union guy.” I was a member of the IBEW for 12 years, and of the Teamsters for 14 years. Labor and management in the private sector can work together to provide great prosperity, and did so for many years.

    Public sector unions are anathema for several reasons, the first being that the conduct of their business omits one of the stakeholders; the one that pays the wages, the taxpayer. Business is conducted between the workers and elected officials and the taxpayer gets stuck with the bill and with the performance issues that arises from negotiated performance issues.

    Worse yet is that those negotiations are conducted between two parties, one of which has huge influence upon the survival of the other. As one public union official put it, speaking to a City Council, “We put you in office and we can throw you out.” Public sector unions have huge influence on the elections of elected officials with whom they are negotiating. The whole process is inherently corrupt.

    And it results in brutal cops who cannot be fired, along with sexual predators who cannot be ejected from our schools.

  26. Z

    As far as the economic aspects behind the protests, the black community is feeling that most acutely. It’s anecdotal, but Floyd was arrested on suspicion of forging a $20 bill. That’s a pretty desperate measure and not one you’re likely to pull off successfully more than a few times before you get caught, especially with the proliferation of surveillance cameras in these stores these days.

    Note also that there are more people in the black community, partly due to the fact that they are more likely to have criminal records, who are financially surviving through the black market, selling drugs and whatnot, and are not eligible for unemployment benefits so even the temporary economic relief our stingy government offers the working class, while generously lavishing the rich with trillions through the stock market, through the increased unemployment payouts isn’t available to them.

    So, it’s not hard for them to come to the conclusion that the government is systematically destroying them anyway so might as well fight and that fight goes beyond police brutality. George Floyd was financially desperate enough to try to pass a forged $20 bill and three cops were on him with one kneeling on his neck and they choked the life out of him. Beyond what physically happened to him it also symbolizes what the black community is facing in this economic system.

    Then, of course, adding tinder to the fire is the rest of the country, particularly the youth, who are facing a bleak future with no economic security. So, it’s no surprise that the two demographics that are most visible during the protests are those two: blacks and young people.


  27. Z

    If nothing else, and there’s a lot more else, a coalition is forming for a national strike.


  28. Z

    Here’s probably another thing fueling the popularity of the protests: as long as you don’t get arrested, protesting is free and a lot of people don’t have much money right now. It’s a free mobile party, bring your own water and mask.


  29. Ché Pasa

    Well, we’re now in the “national conversation” phase of Defund the Police, with more and more outlets picking up and picking apart the idea, without explaining quite what it might be, and sides are being chosen without knowing what the options are. Binary all the way. That’s what happened to Frey. He chose the wrong side for the moment and was unceremoniously told to go home.

    Because there is some Overclass backing of the debate, if not the actuality, it’s likely nothing substantive will change for years if ever, and if by some miracle police departments are defunded, they will be promptly resuscitated and replaced with private security outfits. That’s already happening in some places.

    And that’s probably the goal of many of those pushing the idea anyway.

    Never let a good crisis go to waste, right?

  30. Z

    At least private security forces would be limited in their scope, probably primarily to protect property, and wouldn’t have the legal cover to pull people over driving down the street, wouldn’t have the legal protection if they used force that police have, and wouldn’t have the presumed innocence that the police have if they get dragged into court, nor the cozy relationships that currently exist between DAs, judges, and the police.


  31. NR

    Z – And who, exactly, would drag those private security forces into court if there were no police?

  32. Z


    I don’t believe that all police should be eliminated. I don’t believe that many people believe that. What I want is a lot less public money going to the police.


  33. Z

    I think that term “defund” is getting misunderstood by a lot of people, including myself. I’ve heard it used in the context of decreasing funding to the police but looking at its dictionary definition it means to “prevent from continuing to receive funds”, so its strict definition means pulling all funding. I’d bet that many, like myself, want funding for the police significantly reduced but not to totally eliminate all police.

    When I replied to Ché’s post the scenario I was referring to is if the police force is reduced due to decreased funding and therefore property owners are worried about protecting their property due to decreased police patrols so they hire security guards.

    I definitely would not want armed private security forces roaming our streets enforcing all of our laws.


  34. Ché Pasa

    As they say, “When you’re explaining, you’re losing.” The ::debate:: over defunding the police reminds me of the “single payer” debate back in the day. Nobody but activists had ever heard of “single payer” and nobody knew what it meant, and it was easy for the overclass to muddy the waters and get what they wanted — unlimited subsidies for the insurance cartels. And here we are and have been for more than a decade. I’d guess that most people still don’t know what “single payer” health care was or was supposed to be.

    Just so with Defund the Police, and some of the “progressives” over at DKos among others are having a collective freak out over it. On this the “progressives” and the fascists agree entirely: You cannot “defund the police!” If anything they need more money, more and better training and equipment, more, more more, more.

    But the debate will continue as a distraction from what the police are doing for as long as it takes to reach consensus that we need more, not less police and all that goes with them, and if it doesn’t work, well then, we’ll have another circular debate, and keep going like that forever.

  35. Z

    It looks like the movement towards defunding the police is not to completely abolish the police, but instead the first step towards restructuring the police towards having a much smaller part of the budget. That would allow more money to be spent on social services for the community. I think that’s a great idea.

    “In 2013, the Camden Police Department was disbanded, reimagined, and born again as the Camden County Police Department, with fewer officers, lower pay—and a strategic shift toward “community policing.”


  36. Foxnews has graciously informed us “Elmer Fudd will not use a gun in new ‘Looney Tunes’ cartoons”

    I have a simple question: Is nothing sacred?

    What’s next? Will they strip Wile Coyote’s ability to buy explosives from Acme?

  37. Willy

    Elmer shoots at Bugs, who seems a lot more human to me than actual bunnies are. Maybe they should’ve just made a new and improved Bugs to be more like real rabbits?

    Plus I don’t think the good people at Looney Tunes have nearly the lobby clout as does the NRA. Maybe they’re just doing what little they can to keep all their people and fans and advertisers happy.

    But if they start preaching about climate change in their cartoons, well then, my own looney tune about Looney Tunes might change.

  38. Z

    Maybe ‘privilege’ is a poor choice of words to use to describe the concerns of the worst elements of the U.S. right, but this is a group that went ape shit with defiance, egged on by astro-turfers no doubt, when ordered to quarantine but then basically obediently tucked themselves in their bed at 8PM when the authorities told them to as long as those authorities promised to punish those that disobeyed the curfew.

    They don’t seem to be very principled about their concerns about personal freedom. And they didn’t complain much about stop-and-frisk in NYC either, probably because the practice fell heavily on minorities and not themselves.

    I wonder how those “brave patriots of the U.S. right” would have reacted if they had been beaten upon like the protestors were. I doubt they’d have come out for seconds and thirds like many on the left did.


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