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 discuss topics unrelated to recent posts.


The Left-wing “Shit Sandwich” Dilemma


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 16, 2020


  1. Z

    Rooting for a congressperson to die during their recess.

    Schumer, McConnell, and/or Pelosi would be nice …


  2. profan

    Any insights into Belarus? After “losing” Ukraine to the West, Russia will be hit hard if they also lose Lukashenko. At the same time, the current protests after the (most certainly falsified) presidential elections do not seem to be going away. What is Russia’s long game here?

  3. Stirling S Newberry

    Julian Breem dies:

    Putin is nowhere close to being a competent nefarious despost as he is portrayed. It is just that America is incompetent in elect leaders.

  4. Hugh

    I agree with Stirling. Putin is a dictator and thug. People are so reflexively anti-American that they end up justifying and defending no matter what screw up a Putin makes. So either he didn’t do it or he has some unknown but cunning plan.

  5. bruce wilder

    I would welcome learning more about Belarus. The Saker basically says that Putin’s problem is that Lukashenko has played the part of “our bastard” for the Russians for so long that it is hard to shake ownership as the time comes to overthrow the old regime.

    It is easy to see that Russia’s interest lies in absorbing and integrating Belarus into the Russian Federation, but how to bring that about? And, bringing it about requires making it seem a solution to the problems of Belarus’ populace, major institutions and business. It cannot be a conquest. And, there are real risks as the crazies in U.S. foreign policy that we saw on full display in the Ukraine try to (in their demented minds) “take strategic advantage”.

  6. Zachary Smith

    Diseased Chicken for Dinner? The USDA Is Considering It

    The reason housewives have to do a major disinfection of their kitchen after handling current chicken products is because US chicken processors produce filthy meat. Before it hits the big Chlorine tank the stuff is said to be as dirty as if you were to dip the cut-up bird into an unflushed toilet. Even after the disinfectant bath the meat is still pretty bad, but the fact every single current kitchen cleanup is done perfectly makes the deliberate addition of a new disease quite safe! So don’t worry!

    Anyhow, our dedicated Chicken Workers have fabulous eyesight and won’t miss any of the cancers. American cooks will continue to cook their Cancer Chicken at safe temperatures. Those adventurers who like ‘rare’ meat and are already discuss cooking temperatures of 135°F most definitely know what they’re doing. (and all meat thermometers in the US are known to be extremely accurate and are always used) The anti-maskers show some people aren’t a bit afraid of Fake Viruses in the so-called Covid epidemic, and I doubt they’ll be very concerned about Big Chicken’s products either. The link has the Trumpie view about this:

    While the FSIS did not grant me an interview, Tom Super, the NCC communications director, offered the following statement by email: “As a taxpayer and a consumer of chicken, I would much rather have the government focus their efforts on things that might actually make someone sick and have a real impact on public health, rather than looking for lesions, bumps and bruises that are easily trimmable.”

    See? Not A Problem At All. Enjoy your cancerous chicken, and pray for the reelection of our glorious Orange Leader.

  7. Ian Welsh

    Don’t really know enough about Belarus to comment, except on the geopolitical dangers. We’ll see how it goes. Russia did get the part of the Ukraine that mattered most to it, but it was obviously sub-optimal.

    We’ll see how things shake out as nations start coming apart under climate change.

  8. S Brennan

    Russians evil, Putin evil…must spend trillions against evil, must ignore China blah..blah..blah!

    The endless blathering of dithering idiots who studiously ignore [or are truly ignorant] of the west’s endless plots and wars to seize Russia’s assets. Spoiler alert, the plots/wars[1] go back farther than communism, farther than Zbigniew Brzezinski and his fanboys ever acknowledge in their misleading comments

    The argument that if you think Putin is competent and reasonably decent then, [insert ad hominem here] is a tired canard. Factually noting the international skulduggery that Clinton, Bush [the 2nd], Obama and now Trump engaged in to make territorial gains that have established artillery fire-bases close enough to shell Russian cities with a 155mm Howitzer, does not make me un-American as Hugh piously pontificates from his pulpit.

    Indeed, unlike Hugh & Stirling, “who had better things to do”, I served in the US Army opposite the USSR and was in the service when the USSR ceded, of it’s own good will, all of Stalin’s ill gotten gains. I was overjoyed at the outcome of the cold-war. Unlike Hugh & Stirling, “who had better things to do”, I did/do not seek advantage in a wars wreckage, that particular behavior is what caused the horrors of WWII and I am disgusted when hear non-service people engaging in it.

    If America’s major cities were threatened by the Russian equivalent of our 155mm Howitzers, we would be throwing nukes, burning the world down in a war to end all wars [at least for few centuries]. I am disgusted by those who have never served, “who had better things to do” endlessly posting diatribes demonizing Putin/Russia as a necessary precursor to having a “war of aggression” against Russia. I have had enough of the regime change wars that D’s and R’s have foisted on us…and enough of people “who had better things to do” foisting corporate media’s blood-lusting demonizations.
    [1] In 1605, King Sigismund III Vasa informally invaded Russia until the death of False Dmitry I in 1606, and invaded again in 1607 until Russia formed a military alliance with Sweden in 1609. Sigismund formally declared war on Russia in response, aiming to gain territorial concessions and weaken Sweden’s ally, winning many early victories such as the Battle of Klushino. In 1610, Polish forces entered Moscow. Whereupon Sigismund seized the Russian throne for himself. Russian resistance emerged and the war ended in 1618 with Russia ceding territory to the Polish-Lithuanian league in exchange for allowing Russia’s to exist.

  9. Z

    It’s amazing watching the demo-zombies shake their head about Schumer (D-Wall Street) going all in for Amy McGrath against McConnell and therefore working against much more liberal Charles Booker in the democratic primary when Booker drew a much greater contrast to McConnell than McGrath, who bragged she’d be better to work with Trump, and Booker therefore had a much better chance of winning as if this was a strategic mistake by Schumer without ever considering that McConnell’s hard ball pro-business pro-Wall Street politics might be exactly what Sly Chuckie wants to be “forced” into ceding to.

    As bad as Pelosi is, and she’s horrible, Schumer is just as bad, if not as worse, and probably even more deceitful.


  10. Hugh

    Somehow I missed the ad where it says join the Army and become an automatic foreign policy expert. Good to know.

  11. NL

    “Russia did get the part of the Ukraine that mattered most to it, but it was obviously sub-optimal.”

    My understanding is that Russia wanted Crimea (home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet), but not Donbass. Donbass was more of a spontaneous thing driven by the Cossacks, who live on both sides of the Ukrainian Russian boarder there, and Russian nationalists. Crimea is being rebuilt and lavishly funded. Donbass became a lawless boarderland attracting criminal and ideological elements. Many of the visible field commanders and leadership in Donbass have been assassinated. Some of this have been probably done by Ukraine, some have come out of internal infighting, but some might have been done by Russia. More radical elements wanted to take the part of Ukraine all the way to Dnieper and the Southern Steppe area, but seems the order came to leave Donbass or “your security will not be guaranteed”. Some left, others were assassinated. The future of Donbass is uncertain, and if anything it may contribute to an eventual breakdown of Russia into ethnic groups.

    BTW, Trumps’s favorite doctor Vladimir Zelenko must be a descendant of Jewish Cossacks:

  12. NL

    As to Belarus, Lukashenko as well as Russian nationalists have made a wrong conclusion from the Ukrainian Maidan (aka the 2014 Revolution of Dignity). They concluded if only Yanukovych was not such a pussy and gave the order to shoot to kill, the Maidan uprising would’ve been suppressed, the war in Donbass would not happen, Ukraine would still be relatively prosperous. Kill a few now to save many later — so the thinking goes. This theory is being tested now in Belarus (although they just beat people up for now), and early results are so so, and Lukashenko and Co realize it.

    Belarus, Russia and Co still do not get the importance of human mind in this things. Like Musk said, “Who controls the memes, controls the Universe”…

  13. S Brennan

    Yes Hugh, you do miss a lot, often very studiously, for example, you just confused war for foreign policy, that’s quite a miss. Of course we can always count on you to express the banality of mainstream media thought, which in the US, does conflate war with foreign policy.

    And yeah Hugh, people who have had to absorb the reality of war, particularly when they mature, tend to be a lot more cautious than those armchair Rambos pounding their keyboard for war.

  14. Hugh

    Trump, hydroxy chloroquine, and Putin, why is it believers in whackery can’t seem to get enough of their nuttery. They have to keep adding to it, stacking one weird reality-challenged idea on top of another. It seems a great way to discredit yourself with anyone who hasn’t already drunk the koolaid, but is the very opposite of what is needed to understand the world we live in or solve any of its problems.

  15. Zachary Smith

    When a bizarre internet fad of men pointing guns at their crotches popped up last May, it figured to be a matter of time before someone shot themselves in the nuts. That day has finally come.

    Moron + Second Amendment = .45 caliber hole through testicle.

    These fellows 1) hate women. 2) love the “unborn”. 3) adore Trump.

    I’m not linking the article which tells of a bunch of heroes who got sick and tired of being told gun-owners ought to know how to use firearms safely. So they started “owning the libs” by posting Facebook pictures of themselves pointing their cocked firearms at their own crotches.

    His buddies now hail the fellow as “king”, another internet term beloved by these types. This seems to be how the folks who do things like using their own reproductive equipment as a pistol target signal to a fellow moron he is now greatly respected by them.

  16. Trinity

    Crimea, because “warm water” port. Although, if they wait long enough, all that methane beneath the Arctic Ocean will release, and we will have “warm water” ports everywhere! Too bad we may all be a little too crispy to buy Russian. I am, however, never too crispy for some chilled Stoli.

    The whole thing about Russia, and China, and [insert foreign power here who refuses to accept the planned global government run by US corporations] is they refuse to give their consent to be governed by [insert current front runner for Davos Man in Charge here].

    In this sense, they are really our greatest hope to prevent us having to mine the asteroid belt for the FaceGooZon corporation, and losing so much bone density we can never, ever return to Earth. (Although I think that bird guy is hoping for this particular outcome.)

    Our current crop of oligarchs are stupid enough to pull a Napoleon. As was Russia in Afghanistan. The world has always been full of stupid politicians, which should be a clue about political systems. Any few exceptions make the rule.

  17. Z

    Kind of odd how all of the political strategic “mistakes” that the Speed Queen Nancy P and Schumer (D-Wall Street) make all seem to benefit our filthy rich over us.

    Why can’t they ever learn …


  18. @hugh
    “Trump, hydroxy chloroquine, and Putin, why is it believers in whackery can’t seem to get enough of their nuttery.”


    “Those who have eyes, let them see.”

  19. bob mcmanus

    Listening to a lot of Sor, the Romanticism comforting me.

    Reading Gass on Rilke I am struck by how either of my favorites, Rilke and Stevens, although modernists, whatever that means, do not present a layer of typographical art in distinction to Stein or Joyce. Yet this isn’t true Rilke and Stevens still divide the text into lines and rhymes and follow a left margin. This presentation prior to meaning or maybe even reading. Before the words are seen as words the page of poetry is sculptural or pictorial. It is shape, a form.

    Heian poetry sometimes presented more than half its meaning in the calligraphy and was considered by some to leap off the page and physically interact with the environment like a successful incantation. And of course haiku out of tanka will remind readers of another layer of form, renga the linked composition by a circle of poets, each in his turn.

    Rilke and Stevens conservative, Stein and Joyce progressive, tanka fascist?

    Form is ideological.

  20. Plague Species

    I don’t give a shit about Belarus. It’s a non-issue. A distraction. Do not take the bait.

  21. bruce wilder

    Real men study epistemology, apparently.

  22. StewartM

    Well the past month or so, America’s dysfunctional health care system hit my home.

    About 12 years ago, a friend of 36 years (we met when I was in college) moved into a basement apartment that my house has (long story about us). He does construction work, and has developed back problems, so I let him stay there rent-free in that apartment. In return, he could do and did stuff around the house, I gave him a Lowe’s card in my name and said “if you see something that needs fixed, buy it on the card and just let me know”.

    About 7 years ago, he met a woman who became his girlfriend. She moved in, and also did things like looking after the animals and cutting the grass (she insisted). She even would do things like come upstairs to my place and tidy up unasked for (I used to joke it was like I lived in a hotel). She kept a watch on the house during the day when I and my friend were at work and was a welcome addition to our household.

    A little more than a month ago, she noticed a lump in her breast. I should note at this time my state took advantage of the Trump administration’s attempt to undercut the ACA by letting insurers offer “Obamacare-free plans”. As both my friend and his gf were poor, they were put on such private health care plans by my Trump-loving state as a substitute for Medicaid. So when that woman went to the doctor and got the diagnosis–breast cancer–the private insurer, as one could predict, promptly cancelled her insurance when it became apparent that covering her would cost them more than they’d ever get in payments. It took weeks to switch her over to Medicaid proper, during which time the medical providers did nothing but run tests–no treatment, even though she was progressing quickly downhill. A month later she was acting like a person with Alzheimer’s’–confused, talking nonsense, unable to walk straight without falling down—even though she was only in her early 40s. By that time, we called the ambulance who came and took her to the hospital, and she died a week later. She *never* got any treatment of any kind to attempt to arrest the disease.

    Switching her to Medicaid may or may not have made a difference—the reimbursement rate to providers is so slow that they tend to view Medicaid patients as akin to pro bono work. Nor, perhaps, would have getting treatment, given the rate the disease progressed. But the fact that NOTHING WAS EVEN ATTEMPTED to treat a poor patient, that there was apparently no sense of urgency, tells one enough. There was no “damn, we have to act quickly!!” about any of this. I only found out most of these details (including the insurance cancellation) after she died.

    The funeral itself was a bit of a drama, as no one in the family had the money. Again, the story of “60 % of Americans don’t have $400 to cover an unanticipated cost”.

  23. bob mcmanus

    Won’t link, but LGM is having a group patonback about the cancelling of Adolph Reed’s speaking engagement. Race over class, they say. Jacobin and DSA and other Marxists are racists. Meanwhile, reparations are Obama’s coastal mansion.

    Marxists are historians. Where we are, this anti-racism based reformism and opportunism (and all the other idpol) at the expense of class solidarity has an insanely close parallel in the Imperialist period 1880-1914. Nationalism. “I am a German before a worker.” said the millions marching to the trenches. “We are Aryan before socialist.” was the next step.

    This will progress, and very soon, to horrors ten times worse than your worst imaginings. Blacks are not going to win this race war. They will be exterminated. Women will be re-enslaved. And these fokkers will blame the Marxist left.

    And I no longer give a damn.

  24. NL

    Plague Species PERMALINK
    August 16, 2020
    I don’t give a shit about Belarus. It’s a non-issue. A distraction. Do not take the bait.

    Western governments do, including yours if live in US, UK, Germany or Poland. Distraction from what?

    Distraction from what?

  25. bruce wilder

    Erik Loomis endorsing the cancelling Reed was revealing in itself, but his rationale was puerile, even for him. Talk about lack of self-awareness.

  26. Plague Species

    Distraction from what?

    From issues in our own backyards while at least some of us still have backyards, that’s from what. I would think that answer would be obvious. Those clamoring for a discussion on Belarus are either CIA operative trolls or Russian trolls. Belarus is a small, insignificant blip on the radar compared to what ordinary Americans are facing. The aforementioned CIA operative trolls and Russian trolls can shove the debate about Belarus up their ass. I’m not biting and I’m not alone.

    And, you know what, the American government is not me. It’s not most Americans. It’s an occupying force at this point. One with nukes and a bloated, kleptocratic military budget — a military it is prepared to use against Americans if need be.

    If Putin has a problem with what’s going on in Belarus, let him confront the American government head on mano y mano like a real man rather than using it as a means to divide and fracture the unwashed Americans even further in his proxy battle with American intelligence services.

  27. Joan

    @StewartM, I’m so sorry to hear that story. What a tragic loss. I will keep that woman in my thoughts. I’m glad you are nearby to her boyfriend in case he needs a friend. And yes, I’m not surprised to hear that on the medical side of things.

  28. NL

    Plague Species

    Belarus is a case study in the evolution of counter-color revolution methods being developed by the ‘dictators’.

    As far as distractions go, D v R party politics is a distraction, obsession with K Harris race/ethnicity is a distraction, BLM is, I am sorry to the supporters, a distraction. We are awash in distractions and memes.

    Musk is on to something: who controls memes (and distractions), controls the universe.

  29. Plague Species

    I agree with you that the rest of what you mentioned is a distraction as well. A distraction from the revolution that must be but never will, televised or not.

  30. NL

    How do we even define a revolution: a change in political economy or a change in the form of government? I guess communist theory would be that one can not go without the other. I am actually not sure. And what it is that we want to revolutionize to? The oligarchic form of government is still on the march now in Belarus, tyrants are struggling.

    Martin Powers at has interesting opinion on liberty and Western superiority.
    “Most people think liberty refers to the protection of universal rights but for most of British history it meant special privileges enjoyed by groups”

    “Our textbooks tell us the Baron was a champion of “liberty”, but fail to mention that “liberties” back then meant aristocratic privileges. We also learn he was opposed to “despotism”, but are not informed that “despotism” referred to stripping the nobility of their “liberties”.
    Certainly, China was guilty of that. In China, any educated man could hold office, but Montesquieu insisted that commoners should never hold office. Genuine reformers like Abbe Raynal continued to promote China-style equality right up to the American and French Revolutions, but Montesquieu’s disinformation persisted as well.”

  31. Plague Species

    Good point about revolution. A better term is evolution. Revolution is round and round we go, when we get off, nobody knows. We sorely need an evolution the world over, but I see no sign that’s even possible. One of the reasons it’s not possible, is the distractions. There are many more reasons as well, obviously.

    I appreciate that take on liberty. I believe it was the Founding Fathers notion of liberty as well. They were only interested in liberty for themselves — the landholders, or the ones with means. How else could they talk and write so eloquently about liberty and yet hold slaves in bondage long after England had abandoned the hideous institution?

  32. Ché Pasa

    What’s happening in the streets of the US right now is neither revolution nor evolution. It’s education. What’s happening in the streets is a daily/nightly demonstration that the police are exactly the brutal and murderous feral hogs (aka: “pigs”) they’re accused of being. To show it over and over again is seen as a good thing by those who feel protected by the police and those who feel abused by them. Let the people see. Let the people know. Let the people understand reality.

    Major mass media operates to distract not just from that lesson, but from everything that might otherwise be important. It’s their job. They do it the best they can. On-scene reports from the streets get an occasional highlight from the mass media, but often presented without context or understanding. It’s entertainment. Just like the protests in Belarus. Or anywhere else for that matter. Everything is a distraction from everything else, meant to be that way so the proles never focus on what really matters.

    But we’re facing an increasingly dire situation for more and more Americans who’ve run out of options. Hunger has stalked the land for many years. Mutual aid can mitigate some of the hunger for a while longer, but then… starvation for some is inevitable. Homelessness has been an issue for decades; doubling and tripling up can mitigate some of the housing problem for a while longer, but then… mass eviction will trigger a miserable winter for millions, not the hundreds of thousands we’ve come to expect.

    Hundreds of thousands have been sacrificed to the virus already (I suspect the real death toll is close to double the official count) but many more will go to their final reward even with a vaccine. The prediction of millions dead will come to pass, simply because our rulers have decided it will. Too many useless eaters for their comfort and convenience. Out with them. To the precipice. Off the cliff.

    This is bipartisan, both sides agree. There are simply too many of us. Disposal of the excess will be quick and compassionate in some cases, slow and brutal in others. But the cull will continue.

    It’s a good time to review Kropotkin.

  33. Plague Species

    One of the few times Donald Trump isn’t lying. And yet there are some here who want us to vote for it again. And again. And again. A vote for Team Blue is a vote for Donald Trump or something even worse in four to eight years. There is no time left for incremental lesser evilism.

    This quote is from Trump’s twitter account

    Somebody please explain to @MichelleObama that Donald J. Trump would not be here, in the beautiful White House, if it weren’t for … your husband, Barack Obama.

    In the miraculous chance Trump is defeated in November and leaves the office (which is not a given), you can be sure all he has done will be forgotten and he and Michelle will be bestest buddies in no time just as Dubya and Michelle are bestest buddies. Venal doesn’t even begin to describe these courtiers.

    All of these people, every last one, must be, quite literally, sliced to ribbons before there can be any evolution. They are the impediment and they will not go quietly into the night. The only way power can be wrested from them is from their cold dead hands. They feel the same as the Belarus dictator who said the only way he’s leaving office is for the unwashed to kill him. It’s an ultimatum. A challenge. America’s ruling elite has issued the same ultimatum and challenge and instead, buffoons are telling us to vote for them rather than rip their heads off.

  34. Dan

    Nothing will change until the fear of god is put into them.

  35. Trinity

    How do we even define a revolution: a change in political economy or a change in the form of government?

    This is a great question.

    What do we want? After decades (centuries, really) of someone else telling us what we should want, we don’t know how or where to begin to answer any question about what we want, except by it’s negative: “not this!” Until we can answer this, and similar questions, things will continue as they are (which is what THEY want).

  36. different clue

    @Plague Species,

    This may seem like a minor quibble over a minor point, but if/when Trump leaves office, I don’t think he will be rehabilitated into best buddy status with the Bushes and the Obamas and all the rest. They all view Trump as being sort of like the butt-crack cable-guy who somehow got a billion dollars and crashed their party. Their distaste for him is Social Register style-and-status snobbery based. They don’t like his style and his looks. The preppie-poo Wasperrific snooty-snobs of Old New England ( and maybe even today) had an acronym . . . NOKD. Which meant Not Our Kind, Dear. And Trump is NTKD . . . Not Their Kind, Dear.

    So my prediction is that after leaving office, Trump won’t be invited to all the best parties and all the best clubs and so forth. He will go back to the flashy and the gaudy and the skeevy from whence he came. ” Its a small club. And he ain’t in it”.

  37. Plague Species

    You may be right, dc. We’ll see. Or maybe we won’t. Every day now I expect the dreaded EMP.

  38. different clue

    @Plague Species,

    If Trump leaves office , and if we see him leave office, and if the media is still mediacating the mind of the nation; then we will get to see what social circles Trump moves around in. That’s an awful lot of conditions which have to be met just right, and in just the right sequential order.

    But if all these things happen just right, and we actually get to see Trump out of office and after office for several years, then I will stand on my prediction. If all these conditions get fulfilled, we will see Trump crawl back into the solid-gold toilet from which he first emerged.

    What amazes me is that for all the performative displays of Trump Hatred by all our Foreign Friends overseas . . . . that none of our Foreign Friends has yet bothered to organize a worldwide extermicott against every business bearing the name “Trump”. If the name “Trump” were to be exterminated from the face of the commercial resort earth . . . within Trump’s own still-sentient lifetime . . . . his bitter humiliation would be a joy to behold.

    I hope all of our Foreign Friends get to work on that. Erase TrumpCo Incorporated from the face of the profit-making Earth.

  39. Plague Species

    Good points, dc. We know one thing for certain, if and when Trump leaves office he will for certain be invited as a guest on Dancing With The Stars. Afterall, it’s ALL entertainment, even our demise as a species and the demise of the living planet. The late night hosts and the comedians will cackle themselves silly to the very end as though laughing about it is somehow a constructive opposition. There’s big bank to be made on the end of the world as we know and knew it.

  40. different clue

    Trump-out-of-office could get his own News Analysis show on Fox News. His first special guest could be Tucker Carlson. His second special guest could be Steve Bannon.

    Maybe he could have them both on at the same time now and again. Maybe he could catalyze their coming together to run for the P/VP election . Think of it: Carlson/Bannon. Or maybe Bannon/Carlson. After (biden)*/ Harris spend 4 or 8 years bringing us a New False Dawn For America, the vacuum created should suck Carlson and Bannon right into office.

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