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 comments for discussion of topics unrelated to recent posts.


Biden Has What It Takes to Lose


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 30, 2020


  1. Dr. Todaro, M.D., who runs (a covid-19 site, largely but not entirely related to hydroxychloroquine treatment) gave a talk that should be heard by all, to a gathering of America’s Frontline Doctors. The transcript is at, in an article entitled “Gilead: Twenty-one billion reasons to discredit hydroxychloroquine”.

    Like me, he makes a case that there is much more to the suppression of hydroxychloroquine than damaging Trump.

    Some quotes:

    “Many attribute this negative publicity to anti-Trump sentiment from mainstream media outlets including CNN, MSNBC, Washington Post, New York Times and Huffington Post. This thesis does not entirely hold up to scrutiny though. President Trump named both hydroxychloroquine and Gilead’s remdesivir as a “game changer” in his breaking March 19th press conference.

    The effort to undermine hydroxychloroquine appears to have begun months prior to Trump’s announcement.

    Through lobbying efforts, regulation may have been the first step to control the availability of hydroxychloroquine.
    This may have been what occurred in France. Hydroxychloroquine was available without prescription in France for years. This came to an end on January 13, 2020, when hydroxychloroquine was classified “in all its forms” as a “list II poisonous substance.” [7] After decades of widespread use, hydroxychloroquine quickly became a restricted substance in France in the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Gilead’s stock rises and falls based on the successes and failures of both hydroxychloroquine and remdesivir. Immediately before Trump first announced hydroxychloroquine as a promising therapeutic for COVID-19, GILD traded at a local high of $85 per share, a price unattained since early 2018. Hours after Trump’s press conference, GILD dropped 8.7%, and then continued to plummet to $69 per share the following week—erasing $21 billion from its market cap in mere days. Immediately after Dr. Fauci announced the success of remdesivir in the NIH trial, GILD stock surged back to $85 per share.

    The connection between Gilead and the study authors is tenuous. What is known is that both Dr. Mehra and Dr. Sapan Desai (founder of Surgisphere) have openly praised remdesivir in various interviews and tweets. Of note though, Dr. Mehra was one of just a few experts selected to speak at a Gilead sponsored COVID-19 conference live-streamed by thousands of experts worldwide in early April. [21] Without a formal investigation into this affair, it is likely the motivation—be it attention seeking or the meddling of big pharma—will never be fully revealed.”

  2. bruce wilder

    I objected on an earlier thread to making long lock downs the litmus test of arguably correct policy response to the pandemic.

    A long lockdown, where “lockdown” encompasses a large urban area and serious constraints on all business activity are in my opinion simply not possible, both because of the level of business activity necessary to sustain an urban area and because of the limited capacity of people to tolerate isolation and boredom.

    My point was about politics, not public health however. Fixating on “lock downs” tends to create political polarization, because as a policy, lockdown will provoke ambivalence, opposed interests and hostility. If your politics thrives on scorning the feelings and interests of large groups of others, advocating “lockdown” the longer the better will serve your purpose.

    The public health measure that arguably works is very large-scale, rapid turnaround testing as part of organized surveillance, contact tracing and so on.

    The U.S. response has fallen down especially on testing. And, the Trump Administration continues to do wrong things in this regard. So, if criticizing the competence of U.S. response for something that matters is the game, testing is an option. Focusing on the failure to do months-long lock downs, of dubious feasibility and efficacy, must have other ulterior motives and not very nice ones. imho

  3. Hugh

    Yes, no masks, no distancing, we need more sports events, more concerts, and meatpacking plants. Sturgis forever.

  4. js

    The “not very nice” motives for wanting longer lockdowns may have just been workers afraid of going back to dangerous workplaces, with a virus still out of control and wanting instead government economic help until the virus was gotten under better control. If you don’t have skin in that game, of course you can posit distant “not very nice” motives, instead of raw fear and survival instinct among people who know they don’t have any power in whether their workplace even practices the most basic safety measures which still of course aren’t sufficient for an airborne virus.

    Now obviously income support measures while combating the virus are a no-go in the present U.S. (or maybe ever in the U.S., let’s face it this place is awful and people’s ability to see how bad things are is very poor). But still some people can see it was done elsewhere. Many wanted lockdowns to last until testing and tracing and isolation was in place. Of course present U.S. is also incapable of those things it turns out. If you want to criticize Trump on coronavirus the list is endless. It is not just “falling down on testing” although of course that exists. The Trump administration has just recently pressured the CDC to say asymptomatic people shouldn’t be tested. That’s recent. Local public health departments are like wait a second here: we want asymptomatic people with exposure to get tested! It’s as if the coronavirus itself was the main donor to the Trump campaign.

  5. Brian A. Graham

    I think we should take a moment to reflect on the year Barack Obama is having. Sure, his wife is dealing with a case of the sads, but in 2020 Obama is having the type of year that would make the ghost of J. Edgar Hoover proud. Obama has stuck a shiv in the backs of Bernie Sanders and his supporters and singlehandedly convinced the Democratic establishment to coalesce around a senile candidate who was running behind Klobachar and Buttigieg for Christ\’s sake. Make no mistake about it, if Trump truly is an existential threat to American democracy, would choosing a man who it took 36 years of running for President to win his first primary be your choice?

    As if that weren\’t enough, Obama derailed the NBA strike in support of the latest round Black Live Matter protests in the wake of the Kenosha police shooting. If a Republican pulled this off, the liberals would be up in arms! That is the power of branding. There was a reason why some marketing organization gave their year end award to Obama\’s 2008 campaign.

    Make no mistake about it, Obama is evil and a threat. He\’s the oligarchy\’s most used tool, the iron fist in a velvet glove.

  6. Plague Species

    Very interesting to see Gelernter lend advocacy and legitimacy to those who subscribe to the theory of Intelligent Design. I happen to believe the theory has much merit but I depart substantially, entirely I would say, as to the implications of it. Most advocates of ID use it to justify a God and as such they are devout theists. That’s an enormous, unsubstantiated leap to go from advocating, and proving scientifically, that intelligent purpose is behind the creation of the universe and all life and non-life it propagates, to claiming this intelligent purpose corresponds to the God of the Bible or to Allah of the Koran. In fact, I made the case in a previous thread, that it can just as easily be claimed, using the theist’s logic if you can call it that, the intelligent designer is an evil genius much like the Gnostics believed. Life is many things and one thing it is, is suffering. Tremendous suffering. The intelligent designer engineered purposeful tremendous suffering, therefore, the engineer must like suffering. It must receive some satisfaction from tremendous suffering, otherwise, why engineer it into your creation?

    Here is what I posited on another thread.

    I increasingly believe an evil intelligence created the universe and life within it. I say it is evil because it gave us them. It has rewarded them. And as if that isn’t cruel enough, it punishes us for their transgressions against its creation. I truly believe this intelligence behind all of this delights in it. The irony is, this intelligence behind it all is a sad, pathetic, bad joke. Donald Trump sits atop the pinnacle of power of this intelligence’s greatest creation and the pinnacle of its creative endeavor. The orange douchebag is abominable in every conceivable way. Donald Trump is the culmination and reflection of the character of this “intelligence’s” creation. Either the “intelligent” creator (it could be more than one creator admittedly) is either a malevolent sadistic psychopath who enjoys torture pain and suffering and murder, or, whilst intelligent, is a royal fuckup and that’s an understatement.

    As an fyi, in the following video, look at Gelernter’s arm. It’s a prosthetic. He was one of the Unabomber’s victims. Note I don’t say one of Ted Kaczynski’s victims. I’m not thoroughly convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Ted Kaczynski is the Unabomber.

  7. Dmitry Plotsynopsis

    I just heard Elon Musk opine that after the big bang there was only hydrogen and eventually hydrogen discovered boredom and started talking to itself.

  8. Mark Pontin

    Observations from on the ground —

    I went driving through the East Bay yesterday on business. On the Oakland side of the Oakland-Berkeley border, a series of streets run east-west between two north-south main drags, and on each of these streets there’s a long block where the BART train system has an overpass running overhead, making that block a de facto shelter for the homeless.

    After 2008 — and frankly through the next six years of the Obama “recovery” — there commonly were homeless populations of 60-200, almost entirely African-American, living under the BART overpasses on each of these blocks’ sidewalks, with mattresses, shopping baskets piled with their junk, and at best crude tents. Over the last six years, that population of homeless dwindled, sometimes to zero.

    Yesterday, I drove along a couple of those blocks. Populations of homeless were now thickened to maybe 200-300 a block, more than I saw post-2008.

    Furthermore, what was novel — different from post-2008 — was how many relatively new model crossover SUVs were parked beside relatively decent tents set up on the sidewalks. The general density of people, alongside the vehicles and the tents, was reminiscent of the crowds you get at a tailgate party or street fair.

    It’s not even the end of the month yet, when the evictions and foreclosures will really kick off. But it’s already clear that there’s now a whole lot of newly homeless folks out there, who very recently had jobs and homes, and who still have their cars. They’ve now been thrown down the toilet by TPTB, and some are relatively healthy and even young, and have relatively little to lose.

    Similarly, I was driving through an intersection up in the Oakland hills earlier in the afternoon. There were stop signs, with a couple of cars were pulled up at the sign the other way, when suddenly a BMW swerved past them at 40 mph, *over* the stop sign, and into the intersection towards me. I floored the accelerator, and if I’d been a second slower in doing that I’d be in hospital today as that BMW would have hit me.

    I saw this kind of driving behavior in 2008, during the days of the actual financial crash as people went out of their minds because they were losing everything and failed to register the traffic lights and the cars around them, and at 30-40 mph ran into cars halted ahead of them.

    And the point is, August isn’t even over. These behaviors only going to increase. What are October and November in the US going to be like? Interesting, obviously.

  9. jonboinAR

    Trillbilly Podcast, they’re a little too foul in their expression for my sensitive hearing. How about “Propaganda Report”? Although I generally regard Libertarianism as fairly a silly idea, kind of like Anarchism, as in “Yeah, that’s really likely to work out for the benefit of everyone” /unsarc, I find their analysis to often be cogent, reasonable, and well-expressed.

  10. Chuck Mire

    The social consequences of “god” always depicted as white:

  11. KT Chong

    I’m gonna get this off my chest, call me racist or whatever, but I don’t care:

    Blacks in the Democratic primary in South Carolina voted for a Dixiecrat (Biden) who supported segregation, opposed busing, and gave an eulogy at Strom Thurmond’s funeral, while they refused to support the “Jew” (Bernie) who marched and was arrested in civil right protests. Let’s be frank here, anti-Semitism still runs strong in Black communities in the South, and it was a main driver for the results in the South. It is too politically incorret to report, say or even suggest it, but we all know what was going on with Bernie and Blacks.

    And now Black Lives Matter in blue states – like in California, where I live – are STILL protesting, rioting and spreading the coronavirus even as the Democratic governors are forcing small businesses to shut down since March. Everyone else has been ordered to make HUGE sacrifices during the pandemic, while we have to watch the BLM continue to be be cradled, continue to do whatever they want: protest, riot, spread around the disease to make pandemic worse, prolong the shutdown and force everyone else to suffer and pay the price. How do you think small business owners and workers who can’t work/lost their jobs feel about the BLM??

    And the so-called “victims” for whom the BLM has been protesting and rioting over: George Floyd, Jacob Blade, going all the way back to Michael Brown — all have later turned out to be BAD people. It’s hard to feel sorry or sympathy for people like them: an idiot who was crazy and high on drugs, a wanted felon with a rap sheet of sexual assault and other violent crimes, and a fat kid who were captured on video for having just robbed a convenient store. Not saying they deserved to die, BUT after having found out what they had done that led to their deaths, I certainly do NOT feel bad for them. And… the BLM protested, rioted, burned down buildings, and make everyone suffer for THOSE kinds of people!?! Really??

    Trump is gonna win, and Blacks are gonna pay a price for the BLM and suffer — and they DESERVE it. I’m gonna enjoy it.

  12. Willy

    Over 400 CV vaccines and treatments are currently under study as researches rush for that lucrative cure. Nothing wrong with that. I don’t mind capitalism, as long as it’s reasonably well managed. But with credible information sources having been discredited by discredited information sources, figuring out the most effective treatment is gonna be a bugger.

    Reminds me of trying to find a good auto mechanic. With all the bad ones using questionable social networking review companies that falsify their qualities, it’s damned near impossible to separate the good ones from the bad anymore.

    Speaking of dehumidifiers, my old Kenmore broke after 25 solid years. So I went with a 9.9 star review on Amazon from over 500 reviewers. They claimed it would handle the same (1500) square footage. After a week the new one has proven to have nowhere near the capacity of the old one – perhaps 250 square feet. So we either have idiot consumers who don’t understand square footage, or false advertising and reviews.

    I know the libertarians have an answer to all this, somewhere. But as for effective covid treatments, their recommendations lie somewhere between “deep state conspiracy” and “go fuck yourself”. Sorry , but this just isn’t quite good enough for me.

  13. Willy

    KT Chong, you’d do better to understand that angst by trying to figure out why modern blacks prefer a quasi/anti-MLK, who was a social democrat. Should Bernie have advertised that better?

  14. KT Chong

    Don’t care… they get what they deserve.

  15. Willy

    You don’t care that most blacks just are gonna go watch MSNBC’s Joy Reid or Sharpton or Steele to be repeatedly told about those pesky Russian and BernieBro kids meddling with their politics again?

    How do the ignorant get what they deserve, when they don’t even know that they deserved it?

  16. different clue


    You just raised an interesting question. Should we feel empathy for all those Biden-voting Black people who get all their disinformation from MSDNC’s Joy Reid or Sharpton or Steele to be told about the pesky Russians and those meddling BernieBro kids?

    If we should; then by the same token, should we feel empathy for all those Trump-voting White people who get all their disinformation from Fox’s Shawn Hannity or Carlson or Fox-and-Friends to be told about the pesky Socialists and those meddling RioterLooter kids?

  17. someofparts

    how to find a good mechanic

    NPR has a show called Car Talk or something like that. You can find the website for the show at the NPR master website. At the car talk web page there is a link where you can enter your zip code and get a list of good mechanics in your area. The list is compiled from recommendations called in by viewers.

  18. Willy

    different clue,

    You said empathy, I didn’t. In my better world I’d slap em upside the head and tell them to start reading sites like this one to try and become a bit more well-rounded. Or at least brush up on their MLK. It aint you suckers. It’s been them all along, just like MLK said.

    I asked, How do the ignorant get what they deserve, when they don’t even know that they deserved it? You know that Fox News is just gonna twist any truth and scapegoat whatever sounds most plausible. Repeat repeating that Biden is a Marxist will eventually filter back to the blacks, who’ll assume he’s kinda that way just doing his best like Obama “did”. For their part MSNBC simply ignores inconvenient issues as if they’re not even news. I dunno, maybe we best get cracking and get more of them in here.

    The point is that most people are too busy and emotional to study up on all the facts. The rest are idiots. We have to deal with the citizenry we have and not the citizenry we wished we had. Corporatists figured that one out long ago.

  19. Hugh

    KT Chong, I don’t get the “unless you are a perfect person, it’s OK for the police to torture and kill you.” Under this, why have laws or a Constitution? Why have rights? Who is this perfect? Jesus? What did that get him?

    As for South Carolina, how come voters and politicians in the rest of the country plus the media didn’t point out that South Carolina was about the last state to go Democratic in a general election? So what it did in a primary was beyond irrelevant.

  20. Willy

    Thanks someofparts. Back in olden times, you’d just ask a friend or neighbor. These days they’ll as likely refer you to the R or D of their choice.

    I had a dentist once where I could choose my video to watch during the procedure. I chose a show with Neil deGrasse Tyson. The dentist told me he didn’t appreciate the way Tyson talked about religion. I just nodded, wanting to get my tooth successfully filled without incident. The dentist palmed me off on his young partner and I never saw him again.

  21. KT Chong

    >I don’t get the “unless you are a perfect person, it’s OK for the police to torture and kill you.”

    You do NOT have to be “perfect” to be NOT get crazy and high on drugs, NOT have a rep sheet of sexual assault and criminal violence, and NOT have robbed a convenience store. Stop conflating being an imperfect human with being CRIMINAL. Hugh, you were being rhetorically dishonest.

    I am not perfect, but I have never been a criminal either. Being imperfect ≠ acting, behaving and/or committing criminal. What we have found out about George Floyd, Jacob Blade, and Michael Brown is that they were CRIMINALS or had behaved criminally that, in one way or another, DIRECTLY led up to their deaths. Sure, those criminal still have their “rights”. However, BLM keep protesting, rioting and making the pandemic worse, IN THE NAMES OF THOSE CRIMINALS, is repulsive. It is turning off people.

    Black Lives Matter is supporting criminals and criminal behaviors, and it is turning off people. You can’t criticize BLM. The media is covering up for the BLM. Dissidents are being silenced and cancelled. But guess what, I can vote at the ballot box to send a message.

  22. KT Chong

    White people are putting up with all these BLM shits because of your white guilt. I am Asian, and I do NOT owe Black people SHIT, even though Black people keep thinking the whole world and everyone else owe them shit. Guess I’ll have to vote and hope the election will teach them a harsh lesson in reality.

  23. different clue


    Here is what makes “what South Carolina did in a primary” relevant. I’m not sure exactly who or when placed South Carolina so early in the DemParty primary season, or placed other Southern States so early as well, or who decided to bunch them up into Super Tuesday.

    But I have seen a good explanation as to why. South Carolina is more conservative than many other states. And South Carolina Democrats are more conservative than many other Democrats.
    Putting South Carolina ( and then the Super Tuesday states) so early is to skew the primary numbers against liberal or liberadical Democratic nomination-seekers who might very well win the election if nominated. But the Catfood Democrat leadership wants to prevent such liberal/ liberadical Democrats from arising to get the nomination, maybe win the election, and then breaking the Catfood Democrats’s rice bowls. And the Catfood Democrats’ patrons’ and
    owners’ rice bowls as well.

    So the Black voters of South Carolina helped to clyburn and obomb the runway in front of Sanders to help stop Sanders from taking off. That’s what makes South Carolina so relevant, and part of what makes the Catfood Democrat Party’s continuing insistence on having the South Carolina primary so early so very telling.

  24. someofparts

    Before we rage against people who vote foolishly lets be sure elections are honest in the first place. If the people who run elections wanted them honest we would be using paper ballots everywhere. Instead we use machines that are easy to hack. If the objective was to design a system meant to make it easy to falsify votes it would look just like what we have in place right now, so I assume that is just what our misleaders mean to do every chance they get.

    In South Carolina and the rest of the state primaries every exit poll showed the votes to be way off the mark. The variances between exit polls and actual vote counts always went against Bernie and for Biden. Observers saw Steyer’s votes actually go backward for close to an hour in one primary.

    The conservative black voters of South Carolina were not even going to vote for Obama until they saw him win Iowa. The Iowa race shows them which candidate can win conservative white voters. Traditionally they vote for the most progressive candidate that the white majority won’t reject. That is why mayor Pete’s people hacked Iowa to scramble the vote. Even when Iowa got the mess cleaned up and wanted to recount to get an honest total, Tom Perez would not let them. Bernie would have swept Iowa so they party poohbahs pulled brazen dirty tricks to stop him.

    Also, if there is a race war, don’t assume that the folks with confederate flags on their trucks will win. I’m just a little old gray-haired socialist lady but I am armed. If you showed up and started going after my black neighbors I would drop you in your tracks and never lose a wink of sleep over it.

  25. bruce wilder

    What is wrong with Black Lives Matter?

    I think the underlying psychology of the narrative messaging is dangerously provocative and devisive, while the policy program, such as it is, is too easy on economic elites.

    The U.S. took a long time getting to a nearly universal consensus that racism and white supremacy are morally wrong. Along that path, the U.S. was also moving haltingly toward a consensus that authoritarianism in government policy and business practice was morally wrong. Those movements in thought and sensibility were largely in parallel. In memory, they carried along waves of women’s liberation, respect for personal privacy and other elements of social and political reform that we do not always acknowledge as streams in a common flow.

    BLM is part of a propaganda program that subverts the anti-authoritarianism of the older, larger project. It does that in subtle ways, beginning with its own incomplete answer-response format. black lives matter, [fill in the blank]. People could fill in the blank with all lives matter but BLM do not endorse that.

    The narrative of murderous police violence is almost exclusively one of racially charged context. The corporate media blare out every instance of cops killing a black person, but not many of the instances of police killing white people. Sometimes a side-long glance at a case of police killing a mentally ill person will get some sympathetic attention. (There is a long time movement seeking to reform how police approach the mentally ill.). In general, police murders of white people are ignored by the national media.

    One result is that a politics of anti authoritarianism is starved of narrative fodder. The underlying problem has to be the racism of individual police. No other hypothesis need apply. And if it does surface, it will be starved of attention.

    The tendentitious media narratives that try to obscure the complicating details to give people their 15 minutes of outrage without ambiguity leave people ignorant.

    The police murder of George Floyd did not need the lynch mob atmosphere that has led to the prosecution of all four officers, but acknowledgment that at least one of the rookies tried repeatedly to get the senior officer to relent.

    The politics of BLM fit nicely with the narrative insistence that Trump’s populist appeal is racist and that is all anyone needs to know. Who does that serve?

    It is an unfortunate truth of American politics that only a claim of racial disparity opens the court house door on a case against authoritarian behavior and policy. Mere cruelty or arbitrary policy is not enough.

    There is a pseudo-intellectual foundation for BLM, that anchors it in the thinking of educated upper class kids. You can see it in the NYT’s 1619 project to rewrite American history. There is a theory! And, it helps the defenders of class privilege to feel good about their struggle against injustice, natch.

  26. Plague Species

    Continuing with the “naming names” theme from a previous thread related to knowing thy enemy, generally and specifically, I bring you this.

    Martin Richenhagen’s career ascent proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that a higher education curriculum in business is purely a scam and for companies to make this a mandatory requirement of employment makes them, collectively, complicit in the ripoff.

    Martin Richenhagen did not fulfill the mandatory requirements to work for a company in the capacity in which he has worked for companies, and yet he was granted special access and ascended quickly to the helm, no business degree(s) necessary.

    If I had my druthers, all institutions of higher learning would be significantly scaled back, many would be shuttered in fact, and business degrees would be a thing of the past. Business is learned on the job, not in the classroom. Martin Richenhagen’s success is a spit in the face of ALL graduates who spent loads of filthy lucre obtaining a degree that conveyed them with no skills at all to operate a business or within a business. Martin Richenhagen, because of wealthy benefactors via networking, cheated the draconian system that requires those seeking employment to spend their life savings in advance (soaring cost of tuition) to attain that employment thus ensuring they are debt slaves in perpetuity.

    When I graduated from gymnasium, which is the equivalent of high school and two years’ college in the United States, I went to France for half a year, just to learn the language better. Then I went to the University of Bonn, and to the Sorbonne for a year, too. I graduated with degrees in theology, French literature and philosophy.

    Fyi, he’s a firm believer in meritocracy. His son and daughter both are employed with AGCO. His son is a senior vice president. He has treated AGCO all these years as though, even though it’s a publicly-traded company, it’s his private enterprise, and the shareholders, i.e. the wealthy global elite, are just fine with it.

  27. @bruce wilder

    You are among the most interesting commentators, here.

    Regarding BLM, are you familiar with their co-founder Patrisse Cullors’ claim as being “trained Marxists”?

    Most Americans are not down with Marxism. But now, the NBA has painted the slogan “black lives matter” on their courts.

    Last I checked, the NBA is not a socialist property. So, my question to you is, “do you believe the Trump administration are ‘propaganda idiots’ for not needling the NBA, as well as a few prominent players, to disambiguate their allegiance to a positive slogan, from an ideology that negates their very legitimacy?”

    “Black Lives Matter”, the slogan, reminds me of “climate change”, as memes which are too high up on what Barrie Zwicker calls “the abstraction ladder” to be useful in rational debate; but are repeatedly wielded as propaganda weapons, precisely for that reason. “Climate Change” luminaries, like Al Gore and Greta Thunberg, are about as interested in rational debate as I imagine Patrisse Cullors would be.*

    The key to disempowering propagandistic ambiguity, I would think, is to “heighten the contradictions” between the different rungs on the abstraction ladder. After almost 4 years, I don’t see any signs of any communication/propaganda strategy, at all (aside from the usual reactive obfuscation one hears from the White House press secretary, and the like). By communication/propaganda strategy, I mean something designed to either promote or destroy a particular meme or ideology, and that is executed pro-actively, over a long period of time. Such a strategy would have long term goals of changing hearts and minds, not just greasing the skids for some policy goal or current piece of legislation, or making the next election go more in your favor.

    What is the White House strategy of destroying any legitimacy of the organization BLM, as a tool of Marxism, e.g.? (Well, Marxists might welcome BLM being widely known as a Marxist organization; but I am talking about destroying it in the eyes of most Americans, black and white.) As I see things, the NBA has given the White House a huge opportunity, which it is squandering. As usual.

    There’s even comedic, especially sarcastic/comedic, opportunities. E.g., Trump could tweet “Since the NBA doesn’t condemn the Marxist BLM organization, I think fans should help the NBA prepare for a no-profit future, by refusing to purchase any NBA merchandise or tickets!” A real propaganda effort requires much more than low-investment tweets, but that would be a start.

    What is their strategy for destroying crypto-Marxist organizations, in general? It’d be nice to see them also destroy or degrade faux-progressive organizations that are actually co-opted by Democratic Party operatives, though they then run the risk of faux-conservative organizations being exposed, thus discredited, in retaliation. Which is just fine, with me.

    * As Noam Chomsky would agree, I believe, “Support the troops” is also too ambiguous to stimulate rational debate. Just the opposite. This slogan obscured the real issue of “should we support this war?”. It’s designed to stifle serious debate, not encourage it.

  28. Instead of “Defund the Police”, or worse, yet, riots, arson, and Molotov cocktails thrown at police officers and laser beams blinding them, I’d like to see legislation
    a) requiring officers to only fire rubber bullets into somebody’s back, unless they have real reason to believe a suspect may be reaching for a weapon (as, e.g., reaching into a car); guns aren’t heavy, so they can carry 2 kinds of guns, easily
    b) forbidding kneeling on somebody’s neck any longer than it takes to handcuff them. If a handcuffed arrestee refuses to cooperate entering a vehicle, then some other means of further restraints could be mandated; or, conceivably, tasing or firing of rubber bullets into their legs. My guess is that just taping people ankles together, say with a foot or two of play, is enough restraint 90% of the time.

    I’ve also heard that officers’ guns, by default, fire in bursts. And so, we can’t be too hard on them if they turn some suspects into swiss cheese.

    Hey, if we can put a man on the moon, we can make guns that only fire single bullets, by default. And which can be unlocked to fire bursts, if the officers are being fired upon.

    Further legislation could make it illegal for an officer to work with a gun if his mandatory video cam isn’t working. (I have no idea if Federal law can mandate such things.) If an officer is found to have fired his gun, and the video cam was inoperable during a mandated check, or conveniently forgotten, he goes to jail.

    Having said all that, some lunatic DA’s, of the Democratic persuasion, are making citizens’ exercising their gun rights and right to self-defense something to be punished. If they’re doing this to citizens, they’re probably going to do it to cops who legitimately use their guns, if they haven’t done so, already.

    We have many swamps to drain….

  29. bruce wilder

    Trying to re-attach the visceral fear of the Cold War to “socialist” and “Marxist” would be a pointless exercise in antiquarian linguistics.

    The gestures of a millionaires’ club like the NBA players are about as important as retiring Aunt Jemima. Which is kind of the point of riling them up in the first place, I would think.

    My simplistic theory of social attitude change thru repetitive propaganda is one of incremental movement thru the population aided by generational turnover. Moral panics and ritual humiliation are theatrical weapons deployed periodically along the way and narrative explication of the past is woven into hypnotic stories celebrating and mourning. Gradually the hot buttons are worn out. Organizations are built, evolve and degenerate (Iron Law and all that)

    In American history, powerful movements to use racism as an organizing principle in politics and law have competed with liberal reform movements to eliminate or deprecate racist principles as illegitimate and evil. The resulting cross-currents of competing narrative and expected emotional response are the legacy modern propagandists have to work with, as well as a foundation in law and political norms.

    For the most part, anti racism today would be flogging a dead horse if they were only continuing the liberal tradition for its own sake. But, they aren’t. They are defending class privilege in an age of extreme economic inequality and inverted totalitarianism. Saturated with propaganda, the population is divided by changing material conditions. Thirty or forty percent are themselves comfortable enough, except for anxiety over increasing precarity. The material foundations for the lives of the rest are visibly washing away, with 5% eliminated in 2008 and another 5+% disappearing permanently now, while 30% try out “temporary” deprivation of the means of livelihood.

    Interesting times.

  30. Willy

    It’s been a while since I’ve seen or heard the term “white guilt”. Wasn’t it was pop-kitsch back when Obama was governing as a moderate republican / socialist? And now “Marxist” seems to have overtaken “socialist” as the proper, easily-digestible-for-the-too-busy-consumer smear for liberals, progressives and social justice whatevers.

    Whatever. Whatever confusion keeps the fertile ground out of reach for the masses.

    But yeah, BLM is probably overstaying its short American attention span welcome with these seemingly never ending “riots”. You’d think that these people might be kept complacent with decent careers, decent American Dreams. But having them chase after the latest injustice-de-jour works well as diversion.

  31. Mark Pontin

    Bruce Wilder wrote: ‘You can see it in the NYT’s 1619 project to rewrite American history.’

    I have zero patience either for ‘critical race theory’ or the NYT’s low-IQ, idpol-based corporatist product. So I’m not going to plow through any of the ‘1619 project’. I did glance at the wiki account of it anyway, because of the WSW’s and Adolph Reed’s condemnations of it.

    But if the claim is that the 1619 project was wrong to say that the revolution of 1776 had as one of its aims the preservation of slavery, that claim is patently untrue. The revolution of 1776 clearly had the preservation of slavery as one of its goals to a greater or lesser degree. The evidence is too overwhelming.

    The U.K. had just had the Somerset vs. Stewart case in 1772.

    England had never condoned slavery in the home islands. Rich colonials were bringing their wealth and their slaves back to the home country. One slave escaped; there was a test case. Lord Mansfield ruled: –

    “The state of slavery is of such a nature that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political, but only by positive law [statute] … It is so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it, but positive law. Whatever inconveniences, therefore, may follow from the decision, I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of England; and therefore the black must be discharged.”

    Yes. slavery continued throughout the British empire till abolition in 1834. But it was very clear which way the wind was blowing. You can for instance, read Benjamin Franklin’s writings from the 1860s crowing about how great it was to be an Englishman and how all of North America would soon be English. And then something changed. If you dig into the primary sources, you can find some of the Founding Fathers post-1772 and pre-1776 complaining and raging about Mansfield’s ruling.

    I note from the wiki on the 1619 that “leading American historian … Gordon Wood … responded in a letter, “I don’t know of any colonist who said that they wanted independence in order to preserve their slaves […] No colonist expressed alarm that the mother country was out to abolish slavery in 1776.”

    Very simply, Gordon Wood, leading American historian, is a liar or incompetent or both. Because there’s plenty of documentation in the primary sources of colonists expressing alarm that the mother country was out to abolish slavery.

  32. Ché Pasa

    About the ratchet effect:

    The deaths and injuries connected with the protests and “riots” are rising. And there will be no going back. Blood has been spilled too often to just return to some fantasy of previous calm, but note, that’s what our politicians would have us believe we can do — if we only follow them and their orders.

    Not going to work.

    Last night an apparent Patriot Prayer/Trump supporter was killed in Portland during a chaotic parade by big ol’ trucks flying Trump and Blue Lives flags through downtown, heckled by BLM and “Antifa” activists the while. Dozens of people were made targets for the big o’ trucks to aim at; the victim was apparently shot (by someone…) after he pepper sprayed (or was it bear maced?) the shooter in a confrontation barely caught on video.

    The contrast between the parade of hundreds of $60,000-$70,000 trucks and the mostly on foot or bike/scooter/skateboard hecklers couldn’t have been more acute. This is where the battle lines have been drawn: between the almost all white but highly precarious haves and the no-more-fucks-to-give multi-racial have nots.

    Both sides are being exploited — of course they are; they must be. Late stage neoliberalism requires it.

    But complete cynicism about what’s going on in the streets and who is participating is not warranted.

    There has long been a problem with racialized policing in this country, and so far, no effort at reform has been entirely successful, in part because our rulers see advantage to themselves by maintaining things the way they are (note, California legislature just rejected BLM proposed policing reforms in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.) This has been the pattern for decades, and it is not changing anywhere any time soon.

    The police kill something like 1,100 people every year no matter what “reforms” are advocated or put in place. The dead are disproportionately black and other people of color and the mentally ill. These numbers have barely budged over the years that records have been publicly available. BLM proposals to “defund” police are focused on limiting police responsibility for many of the calls they are sent out on, and on providing alternatives (social workers, paramedics, mental health professionals, etc.) to police. Reconceiving police and policing. This is terrifying to the overclass who benefit in so many ways from the way things are. Bugger the dead and injured at police hands.

    To say this isn’t a problem worth bothering with, or contrary-wise, that the police aren’t bloodthirsty enough is bizarre. Of course it’s a class issue as well as one of race and condition. I don’t know anyone who denies it.

    But positing a civil war or something between the well off but precarious white folks and the no-more-fucks-to-give underclass rabble — which is what the current efforts seem to be leading to — only benefits that overclass, and that’s the point of it. If they exterminate one another, so much the better — at least for our rulers.

    There’s a bare possibility things won’t go that far, but signs are grim. So much mutual animosity has been built up over so long a time, and the current social and economic conditions continue to deteriorate.

    There is no responsibly-acting political leadership at all. If anything they’re adding gasoline to the fire and dancing around it.

    I saw lots of comments on the Twitter that “this is it, it’s finally started” last night before the internet went out. Whether that’s true or not, we’ll see.

    The big ol’ trucks people and the police have already combined forces. They think they have overclass backing, but they don’t, not really. They’re just as expendable as the rest of us are in the end.

  33. different clue

    Some middle-class precariats spend their $60 000 on big ol’ trucks. Other middle-class precariats spend their $60,000 on Priuses The big ol’ truckin’ precariats recognize the Priusing precariats to be cultural opponents and they roll coal on Prius drivers whenever they can or they vandalize Priuses whenever they catch them parked.;_ylt=AwrEze3n_UtfAawAIhxXNyoA;_ylu=Y29sbwNiZjEEcG9zAzIEdnRpZANDMDE2MF8xBHNlYwNzYw–?p=rolling+coal&fr=sfp&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly9zZWFyY2gueWFob28uY29tL3NlYXJjaDtfeWx0PUEyS0liWnhiLjB0ZjBTUUF3QWxERFdWSDtfeWxjPVgxTURNVEU1Tnpnd05EZzJOd1JmY2dNeUJHWnlBd1JuY0hKcFpBTXdibTFhZERKWlgxTkhlVVpYWDNoNlQwaE5MbFJCQkc1ZmNuTnNkQU13Qkc1ZmMzVm5ad014TUFSdmNtbG5hVzREYzJWaGNtTm9MbmxoYUc5dkxtTnZiUVJ3YjNNRE1BUndjWE4wY2dNRWNIRnpkSEpzQXdSeGMzUnliQU14TkFSeGRXVnllUU55YjJ4c2FXNW5KVEl3WTI5aGJBUjBYM04wYlhBRE1UVTVPRGd4TlRjeE9RLS0_ZnIyPXNiLXRvcC1zZWFyY2gmcD1yb2xsaW5nK2NvYWwmZnI9c2ZwJmlzY3FyeT0&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAALFWpC56a20wnKnNtFvvu2bUhQpdsnJsDnBSHxpL1VDP6E8xKyVMEzVlQKhscHIbOW9SybcplqwVwoKYyHyu8-ViaWWyLMpVXT0Lja2F2Sboi7CSbdHKsuD4i5v4TZbsQ3NEd7jVmjas7E3dqEb4XW6q7X3F8G2L_zc8N2EkV8nU&_guc_consent_skip=1598815777

    The Priusers should accept the challenge and oppose the big ol’ truckiners right back. But legally. Are the big ol’ truckiners concentrated in certain industries? Is it possible fro Priusers to switch their buying and getting and spending patterns away from those industries? ( They are already symbolically lowering their oil use which gets the big ol’ truckiners so mad to begin with). The point would be to degrade and attrit those industries so significantly, by shrinking their revenue streams so much, that the big ol’ truckiners lose their big ol’ trucks. And then lose everything else step by step by step until they are ready to negotiate a cultural truce with the Priusers.

    Then a Priuser- big ol’ truckiner coalition can work on the shared problem of finding a Final Solution to the Overclass Question in America today.

  34. Gunther Behn

    @Chuck Mire — This, from 1990:

  35. bruce wilder

    The police kill something like 1,100 people every year no matter what “reforms” are advocated or put in place. The dead are disproportionately black and other people of color and the mentally ill. These numbers have barely budged over the years that records have been publicly available. . . .

    To say this isn’t a problem worth bothering with, or contrary-wise, that the police aren’t bloodthirsty enough is bizarre. Of course it’s a class issue as well as one of race and condition. I don’t know anyone who denies it.

    I think you may have just “denied it” in a way.

    How many of those 1100 people are white or Hispanic? Do you have any idea? How many of those people are killed in circumstances that might be “justified” by some specific policy standard for the use of deadly force? How many are mistakes of the heat of the moment, attributable to poor training or badly conceived standards of conduct? How many result from applying policy that leads to confrontation or struggles for control with a civilian?

    The news media know how to frame a narrative to bait clicks and further a moral panic. They are not very much interested in carefully researching facts and when they do do the job of gathering facts, those facts are often ignored by the editors and the audience the editors herd together with screaming chyrons and film at eleven.

    I do not think we are necessarily well-served by the media’s relentless and exclusive focus on racial disparity in deaths from police violence. Do these things ever happen to (poor) white people — presumably they do, but we are rarely told about those cases. Do white lives matter? Apparently not to the news media.

    The terrible legacy of centuries of racism are undoubtedly reflected in racial disparities, but racial disparity is a statistic; it is not, per se, the injustice of the incident. When someone is murdered by the police, as George Floyd was, the injustice is in the murder, not in Floyd’s race and not even in alleged pattern of such cases. Murder by the police would not be OK, if it were racially proportionate.

    Racial animus or phobia could be a proximate factor in instances of police violence. It is a reasonable hypothesis, but it is hardly the only possibility. Weighting the cases presented to the public by omitting the homicides of white people (and indeed of Hispanics) from consideration is not helping the public assess the problem of police violence.

    Racism, as it is conceived for the purposes of the common journalistic narrative, is an individual, malicious motive, answerable by criminal prosecution. That is an extreme and prejudicial view, I think, but it flows naturally from the selective way major news media approach these cases. Selective, in that they tend to feature cases where the victim is black, and also selective in that they simplify the narrative by eliminating inconvenient facts. Which inconvenient facts get slighted depends on the outlet — Fox approaches these things differently from MSNBC or CNN. Professional journalistic integrity is a sometime thing even at the best outlets. You can get headlines that do not match the story at the N.Y. Times, for example. Undoubtedly, the audience catered to by the outlet is a factor in what is selected — so reflexity sets in.

    My point is — if as you say, there has long been a problem with racialized policing in this country, and so far, no effort at reform has been entirely successful — maybe the demands for reform are focused on ill-chosen strategic interventions. Maybe the militarism of police equipment and training are partly at fault. Police need intensive training in how to remain calm and focused in high-adrenaline situations. They also need to be following guidelines that leave them free to de-escalate situations. The element of judgment is inherent to the job, but police are embedded in bureaucracies, where organizational design and management matter, a lot. And, maybe the racist attitudes of an individual officer are not the critical problem.

    Police violence, viewed as a matter of class, involves white and Hispanic people as victims. Poverty may be disproportionally visited on black people, but most poor people are still white in a country where roughly three-quarters of the population is white. And, police violence, controlled by bureaucracies, is also a matter of class in that the rank-and-file police are basically drawn from what we used to call the working classes, while the leadership and management have different class allegiance. And, of course, the police remain an instrument of economic oppression and humiliation while their role as enforcers of racial divides is vestigial (given the prohibition on racial discrimination in law) and incidental to the economic functions in most of the country most of the time.

  36. different clue

    @bruce wilder,

    White Privilege theory is designed to suppress and prevent understanding the exact thing you are writing about. The accusation of “White fragility” is used to suppress and persecute every effort to raise the issues you raise. Even if it doesn’t specifically happen in these threads, it happens over and over wherever these problems are discussed.

    I have been thinking about how to detonate and dispose of the White Privilege Theory land mine and the weaponize accusation of White Fragility which are used to destroy any consideration of generalized police cop-ism against citizens. And I may have come up with something which could show some promise. Others may choose to refine it if they think it has potential merit.

    When someone lectures about White Privilege as a problem, one might pretend to be in pro-active agreement. One could cite back to the accuser some possible examples of White Privilege and see if they admire your understanding of the issue. For example, is the police killing more Black people as percent of Black population than they kill White people as percent of White population an example of White Privilege? It IZZZZ? WELL!! Here’s how to solve it.
    Just have the police kill as high a percentage of the White population as the percentage of the Black population they currently kill. Hey Presto! No more White Privilege. Problem solved.
    See how simple?

  37. Ché Pasa

    For Bruce and others,

    I wrote my first report on police violence in 1996 in California, and I’ve kept up with what’s going on in the field ever since. “The media” does not so much racialize police violence as they feature police violence in general on the principle that if it bleeds, it leads, and if it keeps the lower orders in fear and in line, so much the better.

    The fact that so many Black victims of police violence are featured is because so many are the victims. Odd that.

    Proportionally, Blacks suffer police violence somewhat less than Native Americans. Not a whole lot less, but somewhat. Hispanics suffer police violence somewhat less than Blacks. Whites/Anglos much less than Blacks. Asians much less than Whites.

    About a third of victims are Black — way more than their proportion of the population. About a third are unarmed and not a mortal threat. About a third are suffering from mental health issues and should not be subjected to police at all. The number of calls for help with someone in emotional/psychological crisis that are answered by police who kill is insane. But the protocol in many jurisdictions is to send police on all emergency calls.

    Defund the police/BLM movement is trying to get police off of calls where they shouldn’t be sent — because they escalate problems. But resistance is strong and so far able to maintain the status quo.

    Police are trained to use force and to kill. They are trained in dominance, not de-escalation. The police are wildly inappropriate in many of the situations they are expected/required to deal with. They know this as do their leaders, yet not enough has been done to correct obvious problems.

    Not enough — if anything — is done about police violence and racialized police training because it serves the interests of the overclass in most areas not to. The only time I have seen serious efforts to reform or reenvision policing is where and when the local poohbahs see it is in their pecuniary and social interests to do so. For example, in Albuquerque, the city was paying out tens of millions of dollars in settlements and court awards for police violence claims. The daughter of a judge was shot and killed — said by police to have a gun but doubt exists. The unarmed son of the deputy county manager was shot and killed. He was having a mental health crisis. It was costing the city so much to settle these and many, many other cases, and police violence was impacting the reputation of the city (scaring people away) and the fortunes of the high and mighty. Something had to be done and was: first a consent decree with DOJ and then serious efforts undertaken to reduce police violence substantially and replace police with social service specialists wherever appropriate. The results have been mixed: some things are better, some not. But I think the direction is positive overall.

    Class issues are of course at the root of police violence along with racial prejudice. If you were to witness some of the scenarios police are trained with you’d see very clearly how the two are intertwined. If you were to listen to some of the high profile police trainers (cf: Dave Grossman) you’d know why they are so often so quick to kill.

  38. Hugh

    different clue, I agree the South Carolina primary was important in determining the nominee. My point remains that importance was manufactured –by party insiders.

    KT Chong, (sigh). Being Asian does not confer a free pass on racism. Almost anyone can be accused of being a criminal, or turned into one, for some definition of that term. That does not give a policeman the right to preempt the legal and judicial systems and murder someone for minimal, completely disproportionate, supposed infractions of them.

    I have no particular stand on BLM as an organization, but one of the slogans associated with it says everything about our times: No justice, no peace.

  39. Ché Pasa

    A major trigger for police to kill and maim people is disobedience. They are trained to dominate and command obedience, and when they don’t get it more or less instantly, some become enraged and exact summary judgement.

    It’s become part of the culture of policing to such a universal extent that officers who don’t behave that way are often shunned or called juvenile names.

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