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

Open Thread

Use the comments to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts.


Remember 9/11, When America Went Mad


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – September 13, 2020


  1. bruce wilder

    What is going around the thesis of the Jeff Gibbs / Michael Moore documentary, Planet of the Humans?

    More broadly, is any thing changing in the non-thinking surrounding climate change?

  2. Jeff Wegerson

    @bruce wilder. Well Gov Newson says the debate is settled. The climate is not going to change, it is changed now. But his state is different than mine.

    So my wife concernedly asked me could we actually get into another Great Depression here.

    I started to answer but then found my thoughts diverted.

    Great Depression is now an antiquated concept. It’s like asking an astronomer to confirm an astrology concept. Or a doctor about whether blood letting might help.

    Dépressions don’t happen to us, we impose them on ourselves. Money is simply a tool we can use badly or well.

  3. S Brennan

    Repeating a portion of a previous post. REF; graphs that Ian posted on Covid-19/SARS II:

    “…Below is graph that shows average 25 OHD/vitamin D serum levels over the course of a year with two decades of flu season deaths graphed alongside. What is happening this year with Covid-19 deaths closely resembles this graph and ought to inform us of what well could happen if we do not now start to take precautions.

    Indeed, I wrote Ian the other day, [not to ask him to curate the comment section], but, to remind him that the season for change in average 25 OHD/vitamin D serum levels was about to occur alongside a new study* that showed 25 OHD administration** at initial hospitalization for Covid-19 led to a dramatic change in outcomes. It takes about 3 days for our bodies to metabolize D3 into 25 OHD, so keeping your D3 levels up should help your outcome as Covid-19 will spread more easily in the late-fall/winter/early-spring.

    ….endlessly talking about things you can not control, to the exclusion of things that you can control, things you can do for your immediate circle of Family, Friends and Colleagues does nothing for any cause you happen to champion. Be the guy who helped people get through this tragedy, not the guy who spends his time hectoring passersby from a soapbox.

    *It was small and needs to be enlarged but, as the treatment is dirt cheap FDA/CDC/Fauci et al will have no interest in whether it works or not. It’s not clear to me if the FDA can ban the use of Calcifediol as a Covid-19 treatment; for now, the FDA doesn’t have to, as few know about it.

    **With standard treatment at that hospital”

  4. bruce wilder

    From Digby @ Hullabaloo, under the title, What are politics anyway?:
    “This little quote from an undecided voter makes you want to bang your head against a wall:

    Ellen Christenson, a 69-year-old Wisconsinite, said she voted for former President Barack Obama twice before backing Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee, in 2016. Now Ms. Christenson said she was torn between Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden and “could go either way.”

    Mr. Biden, she said, had not sufficiently “condemned the violence and the burning.”

    Originally a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, Ms. Christenson said she now felt it had “gone too far,” and she said she “kind of resented” that her workplace recently forced her to take a seminar on microaggressions.

    “Ok, so a supporter of the first Black president now think BLM has gone too far and resents being told about microaggressions. So, while she voted for the far-left Jill Stein in 2016 now she thinks she might vote for … the fascist Donald Trump.

    “This person is incoherent about politics and clearly is not voting on the basis of any rational consideration of character, culture or ideology.

    “There are a lot of people like this.”

    In the meantime, at there’s this little gem:
    under the title, The West Wing’s’ idealism looks even better 20 years after its first Emmy

    I suppose one can vote for Joe Biden in the spirit of hopelessness, while holding one’s nose after rational consideration of character, culture or ideology. But, really is it “incoherent” to vote at random when no choice has any effect on what the political system does?

    And, why shouldn’t Ellen Christenson, working at age 69! resent some idiotic training on microaggressions?

    Biden has tried to sound strident in condemning the rioting and violence, and the Republicans are blaming the Democrats for not suppressing the violence anyway. But, really the rioting and protesting might as well be against Biden as Trump, no? Do we just ignore Biden, long-time Senator from MBNA, and his role in the crime bill, in welfare reform, in financial deregulation, free trade and de-industrialization, in the bankruptcy bill, promoting the Iraq War? Is that how we become “coherent”?

    This smug self-deception is what passes for political insight in Democratic Party enthusiast politics.

  5. S Brennan

    Bruce, normally I “get” your comments, whether I agree or not but, the one above left me hanging; I was not able to connect your usually well connected dots? Could you rephrase, I am not sure where Digby ends and you begin?

  6. bruce wilder

    Every thing above the reference to the absurd CNN piece recalling the West Wing is Digby. Everything below is me commenting on Digby and her ilk. The somewhat random interjection of the CNN reference between was disruptive seasoning.

  7. Dan

    I’ve felt rather bland of late. Thanks for the “disruptive seasoning” Bruce!

  8. Hugh

    Digby embraced her role of Democratic mouthpiece, There are a certain number of these bloggers I gave up on so long ago I didn’t know they were still blogging. But a grifter gotta grift, I guess.

  9. Seattle Resident

    @Bruce Wilder

    I don’t expect Nirvana from a Biden administration, but I know that he won’t select Federalist Society Nazi judges who will uphold voter suppression, e.g., the Trump judges that upheld a poll tax in FL that will likely suppress POC ex cons who want to vote, uphold suppression of civil liberties, and oppose abortion. I understand that both candidates would select judges that will be pro corporate.

    I also don’t expect Biden to use the power of government to destroy non-violent political opponents as the Trump administration will do at a heightened level — federal agent kidnappings of demonstrators for detainment akin to a Banana Republic dictatorship and potential use of RICO statutes against the organizers of the demonstrations. Not to mention the likelihood that Biden will not enable white nationalist groups and cops to unite and wage street war against POC and progressives.

    Furthermore, re Ellen Christensen and her and your resentment of microaggressions in the workplace, it appears that you’re not a black employee in Corporate America who has to deal with subtle and sometimes overtly racist crap from employees and managers (the ones that did have the satisfaction of turning down the black person for employment). If employees don’t like training in microaggressions, then they should accept and respect (if not like) the presence of POC in their companies and stop disrespecting them as if they shouldn’t be there.

    When white americans wonder why there is a gap in wages between blacks and whites, they should look closely at employment practices and attitudes like Ellen’s for clues. If she resents microaggression training and doesn’t understand the need for it, then maybe she has a problem as well. 50 years after the civil rights legislation, the more things change, the more people (like Ellen) remain the same.

    She certainly possesses the “resentment” that will make her a repeat Trump voter.

  10. nihil obstet

    @Seattle Resident

    The Obama administration, in which Biden was vice president, carried out ghastly policies violating civil and human rights. Obama is the only president to date that has on the record not only claimed but exercised the right to extrajudicial execution of an American citizen and of a member of his family in a separate action. When the leader — whether you call him president, tyrant, Fuhrer, generalissimo — can on no more than his own decision kill people, you’re at Nazi, already.

    The Obama administration waged a war on whistle blowers that violated both the Constitution and Congressional law. It reinstituted prosecutions under the horrible 1917 Espionage Act that the Bush administration had dropped and instituted new ones. In the process, it tortured Chelsea Manning; to the UN rapporteur on torture, Obama said that he had asked the army about the conditions of imprisonment and he had been assured that they were fine. He instituted the case against Julian Assange, whose extradition show trial is going on in the UK now (an Australian citizen and journalist who published on non-American territory is being prosecuted for breaking a very bad American law. What foreign country can arrest and extradite me for breaking one of their press suppression laws?) And there’s Edward Snowden. These are just the headliners. Biden has not indicated that he disagrees with these prosecutions or would drop them if elected.

    The Obama administration coordinated nationwide raids against peaceful protests to destroy the Occupy movement.

    Biden’s commitment to judges on the right side of the culture war is suspect. Do you remember how he chaired the hearings that put Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court? And of course, “we’ll do better on the Supreme Court than they will” would be more convincing if Obama and Biden had not meekly accepted the Republicans’ taking the seat that came open. There was a constitutional issue there, and the Democrats refused to fight. Of course, the Republicans have been able to stack the judiciary for years, because the Democrats, both Bill Clinton and Obama, didn’t bother to make appointments to a lot of the federal seats. They campaign on it, but don’t prioritize it.

    But Biden’s the lesser evil?

  11. Dan

    Microaggression training? I sense a good South Park episode. This is not to say the underlying problem isn’t real. But just as with identity politics in general, these endeavors tend to exacerbate what they seek to eliminate. There must be a better way to move forward.

  12. Seattle Resident

    The Obama/Biden administration was nothing to be proud of – at least Obama commuted Manning’s sentence – and Trump got her locked up again.

    Clarence Thomas was a Bush I appointee not a Biden one and even though Biden enabled it, no dem president would have selected, even if Biden was in that situation as President then and if he is elected, won’t select a reactionary black candidate such as Thomas –the base wouldn’t allow it.

    Many of the abuses you mentioned will be exacerbated by a 2nd Trump administration, particularly the police power against progressives. Unlike Obama and Biden, Trump will look to wipe progressives off the face of the country through vigilante terror, voter suppression and legal maneuvers such as the RICO statutes.

    I have a little bit of hope that things may be different because in addition to the present rage in the streets that you didn’t have during the Obama administration, you’ve got progressive politicians getting elected in the down ticket races — Cori Bush, AOC, Hakeem Jeffries, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Pramila Jaypal — that you didn’t have during the error of hope and change that will be putting pressure on a potential Biden administration to push policies that benefit Main Street. The times will make it too difficult to go back to austerity as usual.

    I’ll roll the dice on a Biden Administration than the known and much greater overtly fascist and racist Trump Administration.

  13. S Brennan

    “…but I know that [Biden] won’t select Federalist Society Nazi judges who will uphold voter suppression” – Seattle Resident

    Really? Well Mr. Seattle Resident perhaps you should do some reading up on recent political history before you opine. Judge Thomas sits on the supreme court because of Biden.

    Pull up a chair sleepy head and I’ll tell you the story of Anita Hill and Joe Biden as head of the Judiciary Committee…oh wait, it’s past your bedtime already, shucks…perhaps tomorrow.

    Oh, one more thing, on your way to looking up the Hearings, skip the recent articles, they are Orwellian rewrites, go back and find article from 1991..sweet dreams.

  14. Hugh

    SR, Trump is well on his way to killing hundreds of thousands. He’s already at nearly 200,000. He’s done deep damage to the country. Biden is no prize, but (lesser of two evils, I know) he’ is in no way comparable to Trump. And I agree about Trump’s fascism and racism and would add his can’t-do-ism unless you’re in the top 1%.

  15. KT Chong

    Not sure if Biden would be better than Trump for America as the President, but a President Biden will definitely be worse for Latin America:

  16. KT Chong

    Biden won’t be any better than Trump as the President for America — likely worse because Biden will start new forever wars, (i.e., Trump has NOT started a new war.)

  17. Seattle Resident


    Trump is already enabling a war against progressives and black activism in the homeland. If that counts as a war to you, at a cost of American lives.

  18. Hugh

    KT, how many hundreds of thousands of Americans has Biden killed this year? Meanwhile Trump continues to find ways to sell lots of arms to the Saudis so they can keep slaughtering Yemenis.

  19. S Brennan

    Rep Barny Frank [D] was repelled by transgender people and often spoke against and acted in an official capacity to strip away provisions in employment bills that would have afforded some protection to the most economically and socially oppressed group in America, a group who’s unemployment rate is well over three times that of young black males, who’s murder rate is over three time that of black males…

    Fortunately for transgendered people Trump’s Supreme court nominee Neil Gorsuch felt otherwise…

    “Gorsuch framed the question before the court as a straightforward one: “Today,” he wrote, “we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender.” The answer to that question, he continued, “is clear.” When an employer fires an employee “for being homosexual or transgender,” that employer “fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”

    Gorsuch began by explaining that the Supreme Court generally interprets a law by looking at how the public would have understood the law when it was passed — “the ordinary public meaning” of the law. Here, he reasoned, the word “sex” means either male or female. Under the plain terms of Title VII, then, an employer violates Title VII “when it intentionally fires an individual employee based in part on sex,” even if “other factors besides the plaintiff’s sex contributed to the decision” and even if “the employer treated women as a group the same when compared to men as a group.” All that matters, Gorsuch stressed, is whether “changing the employee’s sex would have yielded a different choice by the employer.” As an example, Gorsuch offered the case of an employer with two employees who are both attracted to men and are, for all intents and purposes, identical, but one is male and one is female. If the employer fires the male employee only because he is attracted to men, while keeping the female employee, Gorsuch wrote, the employer has violated Title VII.

    Gorsuch rejected the idea that because Congress did not address sexual orientation or transgender status specifically in Title VII, Title VII does not protect LGBT employees. Discrimination against LGBT employees, Gorsuch made clear, “necessarily entails discrimination based on sex; the first cannot happen without the second.” Moreover, Gorsuch added, there is no “such thing as a ‘canon of donut holes,’ in which Congress’s failure to speak directly to a specific case that falls within a more general statutory rule creates a tacit exception.” Rather, Gorsuch explained, if Congress establishes a broad rule without any exceptions, “courts apply the broad rule.”

    The employers’ argument that Congress has considered, but failed to pass, bills that would clarify that Title VII’s protections apply to LGBT employees got similarly short shrift. We don’t know why those bills didn’t pass, Gorsuch explained, but one reason might have been that Congress believed that gay, lesbian and transgender employees were already covered by Title VII. “All we can know for certain,” Gorsuch wrote, “is that speculation about why a later Congress declined to adopt new legislation offers a ‘particularly dangerous’ basis on which to rest an interpretation of an existing law a different and earlier Congress did adopt.”

    Turning next to the employers’ argument that most people in 1964 would not have expected Title VII to apply to LGBT employees, Gorsuch pointed out that the employers suggest not “that the statutory language bears some other meaning,” but “that, because few in 1964 expected today’s result, we should not dare to admit that it follows ineluctably from the statutory text.” That argument asks the court to “merely point out the question, refer the subject back to Congress, and decline to enforce the plain terms of the law in the meantime.” But even if it were true that no one in 1964 would have expected this result (and Gorsuch pointed to lawsuits filed by LGBT employees in the late 1960s and early 1970s to counter that “at least some people foresaw this potential application”), Gorsuch stressed, that “is exactly the sort of reasoning this Court has long rejected.” Indeed, Gorsuch observed, “many, maybe most, applications of Title VII’s sex provision were ‘unanticipated’” when Congress passed the law in 1964.

    Gorsuch pushed back on another argument by the employers, who invoked a popular principle of statutory interpretation, the idea that Congress did not intend to “hide an elephant in a mousehole.” Gorsuch explained that the principle is intended to recognize that when Congress wants to make important changes to a regulatory scheme, it does so clearly, rather than using “vague terms or ancillary provisions.” And Gorsuch agreed that today’s ruling “is an elephant.” But Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination in employment, Gorsuch emphasized, is no mousehole, but instead “a major piece of federal civil rights legislation” “written in starkly broad terms.” “This elephant has never hidden in a mousehole,” Gorsuch concluded; “it has been standing before us all along.”

    Gorsuch addressed some of the broader concerns that the employers had raised in the three cases, about the effect of the court’s ruling on issues like bathrooms in the workplace, locker rooms and dress codes. None of those issues, Gorsuch reiterated, were before the court in these cases. Instead, he stressed, the court is ruling only that an “employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.” Whether sex-segregated bathrooms or locker rooms or dress codes might violate Title VII “are questions for future cases,” Gorsuch wrote.

    The same is true, Gorsuch added, for questions involving the relationship between Title VII and federal laws and constitutional provisions protecting religious freedom. Although “other employers in other cases may raise free exercise arguments that merit careful consideration, none of the employers before us today represent in this Court that compliance with Title VII will infringe their own religious liberties in any way.”

  20. Hugh

    It was a 6-3 decision with Kavanaugh (a Trump appointee), Thomas, and Alito voting against.

  21. Bruce

    Your open thread is full of trolls….
    Nothing worth responding to here… full of obfuscation… I’m bailing…

  22. nihil obstet

    This all makes a lot of history more understandable. How can people follow a leader who orders the killing of his people on his own say-so only and has his enemies tortured? From “The King has low-born councilors” through “If only the Czar knew” through “The lesser evil”, we come to willing submission.

  23. Keith in Modesto

    Trump vs Biden – which is the lesser evil and which the greater? Many may find this debate a grimly enjoyable pastime, but that’s not a hill upon which any self-aware citizen should be willing to die, in my opinion.

  24. anon y'mouse

    we are not electing Biden. we are “electing” his advisors. Larry Summers, Susan Rice.

    we are also not “electing” for the next 4 years, but the next 12. because you can bet, with the full acquiescence of the media, it will be “back in the high life again” if Biden & Kamala get in there, and then we will almost-guaranteed have Kamala for two full terms.

    so many fake “leftists” will be snowed by their “competence” and a temporary cease in the seeming-chaos, that it will be conceived of as “better” and people will go along with it.

    and then we will have a competent tRUMP. a real rightist, and a real fascist.

    both of these parties push each other rightward, by playing up their “anti communist” bona fides.

    all of this represents serious trouble.

    do we have another decade+?

  25. Hugh

    So anon y’mouse, who are you electing with Trump?

  26. NR

    So yesterday, Trump promised to hold power for at least 8 more years and said that the only way the Democrats could win is if they rigged the election. He’s also praised the extrajudicial killing of a left-wing American by federal agents, contradicting public statements by police and publicly saying it was retribution.

    People need to stop being concerned about potential fascism in the future and start worrying about the fascism that’s happening right now.

  27. S Brennan

    Hugh, compare and contrast:

    Trump’s response to the Supreme Court Ruling on transgender rights, talking to reporters on Monday,

    “They’ve ruled. I’ve read the decision. And some people were surprised. But they’ve ruled and we live with their decision.”

    Trump’s pretty ho hum huh; sounds like a guy who doesn’t give an eff doesn’t it? Now let’s compare that to Barney Frank [D]…

    Barney Frank [D] responds to critics for his decision to strip transgender people from a long-sought bill to protect sexual minorities from job discrimination.

    “Clearly angered by unaccustomed criticism from gay rights organizations, Frank called a press conference Thursday…”let them get their own bill”…a strident Barney Frank intoned”


    Short version of Trump’s reply at losing a transgender case…gosh golly we gave it the old college try


    Frank’s livid anger at being subject to criticism from LBGT advocates for screwing over transgenders on an employment bill that wasn’t even going to pass anyway.

  28. S Brennan


    I googled “Trump promised to hold power for at least 8 more years” and the first 20 entries came up with nothing of the sort, please provide link for your assertion that:

    “Trump promised to hold power for at least 8 more years”

    I find your claim difficult to believe, I’m guessing you took what he said and passed it through the DNC’s funhouse mirror…you know the same mirror that promised that “Trump is a Russian spy”.

  29. bruce wilder

    the idea that the mommy party and the daddy party alternate in control of the Presidency in a good cop, bad cop routine and the New Hitler will come from “the right” — the Republican Party — because they are the bad cops may run smack dab into the realignment going on in our present Era of Bad Feelings — a political moment when both Parties are bad cops representing overlapping small elite groups of big donors and dedicated to manipulating voters.

    The Democratic Party has been running on a brand management model since Obama took over and the theory defining its “electoral base” — the emerging majority of demographic inevitability as the country becomes minority-majority — depends on communication strategies drawn from a mix of advertising (“brand management”) and subversive propaganda (e.g. “crazy” social media memes, Russiagate) drawn from latent emotional associations in the collective subconscious so to speak. IdPol plays a big part in the Democratic Party’s communication and manipulation strategy, a strategy being supported and enabled by national Media (CNN, WaPo, etc.) — IdPol divides the country into categories and prescribes how and why people falling into the intersections of those categories should identify in partisan terms and therefore how they should vote. This is very much a top-down “political culture” strategy (as opposed to a “political interests” or political institutions strategy and it fits with their centralizing, pro-globalization, “cosmopolitan” brand, and is consistent with their promises on policy to a donor base dominated by financial elites and top management of global corporations.

    I think you can see right here in comments the fall-out from this strategy. That clip from Jimmy Dore that Thomas B Golladay posted goes directly to the disconnect between Obama’s brand and actual policy commitments and actions: Obama’s brand is pro-environment, but the reality is that neither Party is doing anything. Obama went the wrong way on most critical issues including controversial pipelines and frakking. (My question at the top about the document, Planet of the Humans, goes to this point more broadly as the Jeff Gibbs/Michael Moore film draws attention to this disconnect more broadly as corporate money funds brand management for Bill McKibben and company, but nothing is done and critical thinking is actively shut down.)

    Seattle Resident has hope because the national Media features AOC as representative of a supposed wave of “progressive” Democrats, but ignores the much larger number of conservative, security-state Democrats sponsored by DNC and DCCC that came into Congress in 2018, shifting the ideological balance of the House majority to the Right and helping to enable the crazy consensus for using a misguided “Impeachment” gambit to consume all the political time and space. SR seems to buy into the Obama brand on civil liberties issues, too, but the policy reality was heavily weighted toward reinforcing the authoritarian apparatus.

    The emphasis on brand management and electoral base manipulation has only been reinforced by the migration of political operations grifters from the Republican into the Democratic Party, as exemplified by the Lincoln Project. The Democrats apparently are hoping to squeak by in 2020 with political converts of suburban Republican (women) and maybe flipping Texas.

    The politics of ethnic demographics goes on, of course, though I think the Republicans are probably gaining among Latinos, who identify as “white”, they are taking zionist Jews and a lot of conservative gays. For all of his supposed racism, Trump is assiduous in cultivating his celebrity black support, making gestures that contradict the Democratic “racist” meme and it will have its effect at the margin.

    The politics of political interests is where the big shifts are occurring. First of all, 70% of the potential voters have no interest in politicians of either Party, because the system as a whole is completely unresponsive to everyone except the 1% and above. Most of the 20+% who are complacent are, imho, fooling themselves because their economy recovered after 2008 and they just refuse to see how the economy never came back for the rest. The predation of the globalized, financialized 1/10th of 1% and their staff support among another 30% of the economy are eating the American economy from the bottom up, demolishing the foundations first. Unless you think the American economy of JPMorganChase and Google and Apple and Disney can simply float in the globalized cloud, buoyed by the reserve currency status of the dollar and agreements on IP and financial services liberalization, this economic strategy is not going to last long, especially under increasing pressure from China and from climate change.

    The Democrats kept the loyalty of the working classes long after they went neoliberal, because the working classes were offered nothing by the Republican Party but symbolic gestures on so-called social issues (racist dog-whistles, anti-gay ballot measures in 2004, continuing campaigns to rally evangelicals around abortion, et cetera). The fractured lockdowns of the Covid-19 pandemic and the deadlock in Congress over economic relief in which the Dems are led by Pelosi (the 80!!! year old mastermind) are destroying both small business and the people who work for them. (Target and Amazon are doing great though.)

    In the dying of the neoliberal Imperium, it is natural to suppose that people who are dependent on “local” resources and structures are going to find some common cause in hostility to the centralization of globalized, financialized power. There’s no room for them in the Democratic Party that I can see. The idPol ideology of the Democrats is inclined to condemn as “class reductionist” any economic demands for those below the 20%.

    Political realignments — especially long-delayed ones like this one, which really should have happened in 2006-8 — can be forced by generational change. Trump, Biden, Pelosi, McConnell — they are all too old for this game.

    When basic economic structures of production are as decrepit as the American ones, collapse from some catalyzing event is certainly not of the question. My own affection for anticipating dramatic “world-historical” events — which I try to keep dulled down — is probably not a good guide to what is or is not possible, let alone probable. But, there sure are a lot of indications of decrepitude. If the U.S. cannot produce reagents, cloth masks or ventilator valves, if Boeing cannot get a plane safely into the air, if the U.S. Navy can not navigate the sea lanes without having its destroyers run over by commercial vessels or repair a ship in yard without having it burst into flames and burn to the waterline, . . . [many other examples], well . . . . The historical precedents of imperial overreach do not have many exceptions that I recall, and the U.S. is very far advanced along a path of elite stupidity.

    The bottom line here is that political realignment puts the Democrats on the side of centralization of power pretty unequivocally. The contra-case that the Republicans are to be feared more is based in large part on the extent to which leading Republicans are even more obvious and untactful grifters than leading Democratic powers and operatives. But, the Democratic political coalition strategy is pushing a lot of people out of politics altogether and they are up for grabs. The new great depression that is following on the pandemic lockdowns (which Democrats are culturally more identified with because of their moralizing poses — a politics of political culture and symbol manipulation has its hazards, too!) is creating a class of ex-business owners/managers who probably feel more Republican and also a lot of young wage workers with no one to represent them. A politics of localism and international isolationism has a lot of potential appeal.

    Whether authoritarian repression is more likely to appeal to the security-state Democrats, in their alliance with the so-called intelligence community and the neo-con Republicans of the Lincoln Project, I leave as an exercise for other commenters to work out. For myself, Kamala Harris is as good a candidate for New Hitler as anyone on the horizon based on her personality and policy record and in a better position to secure such a role.

  30. NR

    S Brennan,

    You must not have looked very hard, because it’s quite easy to find. For example:

  31. S Brennan


    Anybody with common sense would read through that article and determine that when you said: “Trump promised to hold power for at least 8 more years” you knowingly lied.

    A statement so heavily parsed that there is not even an entire sentence…WTF:

    ““After that,” Trump said, “we’ll negotiate,” asserting that he’s “probably entitled to another four after that” based on “the way we were treated.”

    Pathetic…you’ve disgraced lack intellectual honesty, you’re just another election year DNC hack.

  32. Willy

    Maybe it’s just Trumps sense of humor? Like the time he said that coronavirus was just a DNC/Chinese hoax, when he clearly knew that it wasn’t? We’d all be rolling on the floor with that one, if we weren’t such liars.

  33. NR

    S Brennan,

    I know you can’t stand anyone saying that your Dear Leader isn’t completely perfect, but accusing people of lying when they’re simply telling the truth about what he said is pathetic. Here’s video of exactly what he said, not that you care of course, but others might:

    “Based on the way we were treated, we’re probably entitled to another four after that.”

    There he is, in his own words, promising to remain in office after his constitutional term is over. And you and your fellow fascist enablers would just love that, wouldn’t you, S Brennan?

  34. S Brennan

    No NR, you are unskilled political hack putting words in Trumps mouth, he’s not saying anything like your original claim“Trump promised to hold power for at least 8 more years”

    He’s saying to his base he was unfairly treated*, if life were fair he’d get a do-over. You and political hacks like you parse through what he said, taking away the context, you prop up your strawman argument and sing in unison that the straw man is evil.

    And then anyone who challenges your overt lies you imply must be a fascist, again, without evidence.

    *To the best of my knowledge no political party in United States history has ever claimed that a sitting president was working as a agent for a hostile foreign country. And I add, without a shred of evidence, just baldfaced lies. The damage the Democratic party has done to this nation by attempting an internal “color revolution” when the election didn’t go as planned will, in all likelihood lead to a totalitarian government in the not to distant future; should the ringleaders go unpunished.


    Because DNC hacks lie about people here;

    For the record; this year I did support Tulsi Gabbard who was also accused by staffers of Bernie Sanders [in coordination with the DNC] of being a Russian Spy. Then those same staffers of Bernie threw the attack that Tulsi was a fascist Hindu-nationalist for meeting with Modi. One presumes that would hope to gain Muslim votes. And then there was the joint DNC/Bernie smear that Rep. Gabbard was an anti-American Assad apologist for leading a congressional delegation on a fact finding tour of Syria.

    So yeah, I’m effing sick of the lies of the DNC/Hillary/Biden/Bernie nexus and I find Vichy propagandist like NR particularly disgusting.

  35. bruce wilder

    well, yes, Willy, I think it is Trump’s “sense of humor” combined with a wilful insistence among partisan Democrats on taking whatever interpretation will justify their taking on a pose of “principled outrage”. Trump’s “sense of humor” leads him to play on this predictable behavior among his partisan opponents and the journalists who feed them whatever they want to hear. It’s pattern now, which Trump for his part, invests with deep resentment, which you see in the YouTube video and which requires literal-minded and ungenerous interpretations by his journalistic critics and partisan opponents. It is of a piece with Mueller insinuating in a legal indictment a causal link in an alleged coincidence of supposed Russian official interest in email espionage and Trump in a July 2016 news conference rhetorically calling out to Russia to help find “the 30,000 emails that are missing”. In the more recent speech, Trump is explicitly making a point about how he was treated — investigated and slandered relentlessly on false premises. Sure, if you just disappear down the memory hole the fully justified animosity Trump feels toward Democrats and much of the mainstream media concerning Russiagate, then, yeah, maybe this is Trump as Mussolini speaking.

    Here in reality, Trump is a terrible and grossly incompetent President of a country in deep crisis where every fundamental has to change, and the Democrats are running a geriatric bologna sandwich against him, a bologna sandwich who asserts, “nothing would fundamentally change” to comfort his donors. Biden was piously wringing his hands over “inequality” when he said that and Democrats may well assert that empathetic Biden means well, but he’s not willing to do anything beyond being the not-Trump. The actual Trump is pretty bad as President, but instead of making out that Trump is worse than he is on some fictitious dimensions (and largely ignoring some of the ways in which he really is terribly wrong on major policy because the Democratic donor base likes much the same policy portfolio of upward income redistribution), maybe the Democrats could commit to do something for the 80% of the country that is precarious or destitute. And, not say, Trump-the-man is the only problem and a bologna sandwich is a lesser evil, even at the risk of losing a close election, just because you don’t want to do anything to upset the donor base that is doing so well in the crisis.

  36. NR

    S Brennan,

    Your Dear Leader said what he said, and that was that he would “negotiate” because “Based on the way we were treated, we’re probably entitled to another four [years] after that.” You and your fellow fascists can lie and spin all you like, but that is a clear and explicit statement of intent to remain in office after his constitutional term is over.

    All else is noise attempting to deceive, deflect and distract.

  37. Willy

    Sure, if you just disappear down the memory hole the fully justified animosity Trump feels toward Democrats and much of the mainstream media concerning Russiagate, then, yeah, maybe this is Trump as Mussolini speaking.

    Justified animosity? Part of me believes that he knows full well that this is all just a power game (between powerful sociopaths) and that he cannot ever ‘feel’ that has any integrity or American values to actually defend. That part of me might be convinced if you can recount the times when he’s specifically “joked” about the Clintons being in bed with major kleptocratic donors and clearly detailed how his swamp is so much better than theirs.

    Just because the Russians weren’t as influential as the DNC-military-media complex says it was, doesn’t mean they still aren’t out to get us.

    One line of thinking is that Trump is so incompetently narcissistic that he could only ever badly fail at trying to implement an actual fascism. And then we the people would finally be ‘woke’, and then move towards demanding better elites.

    Another line of thinking is that Trump will continuously lower the bar / muddy the waters / divide the nation / soil the common culture…. while failing at fascism. And then we the people will be even lower, muddier, divided, and soiled…, while the sane minority watches in despair, knowing it won’t matter what animal the competent fascist ultimately gets to ride in on.

    And S Brennan is a cherrypicking liar.

  38. Hugh

    Apparently, Trump is running against Barney Frank. Who knew? And Trump is all LGBTQ for the next 5 minutes. So everything is OK now, or as long as Trump’s miniscule attention span is longer than his supporters.

  39. S Brennan

    Excellent Comment Mr Bruce Wilder, as always, we are not in total agreement…”but then again who does”

  40. Dan

    I second S Brennan’s compliment. Bruce, I’ll be sharing this comment often:

    Thank you.

  41. bruce wilder

    Willy: Part of me believes that he knows full well that this is all just a power game (between powerful sociopaths) . . .

    I think the Birther-in-Chief has no personal moral standing to complain really about the unethical way the game is played. My objection is to the way ordinary people jump into the outrage game, pretending as if they cannot understand what Trump is saying and insisting on painting an absurd caricature and want me to accede to a seriously deceptive narrative. When he does complain about the unethical tactics of his partisan opponents, I am not going to pretend I do not know what he’s referring to.

    Trump has, of course, commented on the relationship of the Clintons to their kleptocratic donors. He was one of those donors as he famously attested.

    I think Trump makes a pretty strong case against Biden, even though there is no case I can see “for” Trump in any of it. Not feeling any need to justify or even acknowledge his own fetid swamp must be liberating. The Democrats cling to an unfounded smug self-righteousness and make at least some of their most passionate attacks against Trump not on Trump, but on Trump’s imagined supporters, those deplorable racists of legend and lore voting against their self-interest and delusionally for their guns and love of their (our?) despicable country.

    If there is a lesser evil there I cannot confirm that any of it is “lesser”.

  42. NR

    The way that modern fascists engage with media and the public (and they’ve been doing this for a while now) is that they are *always* trying to see what they can get away with. If they CAN get away with something, then they were being serious. If they CAN’T get away with it, then they were “just joking” – for now, and they will try again later.

    A big part of battling fascists has to be not letting them get away with this bullshit anymore.

  43. Hugh

    NR, excellent observation.

  44. bruce wilder

    russiagate was a laugh riot

  45. Willy

    So Bruce is saying we get to choose between eating dog shit, and licking out a dirty toilet bowl (or maybe staying at home to piss and moan, while stockpiling ammo and food).

    I thought I’d been clearer in stating that the choices were poor, beyond any lesser evil. But strategically speaking, thinking of some distant brighter future (or more interesting riot lifestyle) what’s your suggested course of action? Which vote leads to what?

  46. S Brennan

    No Willy, what Bruce is saying is; if you, as a person, don’t want be identified as a lying political hack…don’t repeat/embellish media lies here or on other blogs. Accurate criticism and it’s rebuttal is a good thing.

    Two examples:

    Lying political hack: – “Trump is a fascist dictator…everybody who does hate him as much as I do is a blackshirt that deserves death; Biden is one the noblest men in this country’s history, by loving him you can show others that you are virtuous”

    Accurate critic: – “Trump’s tax policies suck, they advantage the rich over the poor, although they aren’t any different than Biden’s. However, there are areas of real difference, Biden/Harris promise to take away legally owned firearms from law abiding citizens, whereas Trump continues to believe that background checks prevent criminals from acquiring guns legally. And while it’s true, criminals use illegal firearms almost exclusively, I live in a great zip code with excellent police response time, I don’t need* a firearm.

    *and if I don’t have one nobody else should have one either.

  47. Willy

    What is bruce wilder’s answer?

  48. different clue


    I am not Bruce Wilder, obviously, but . . . pissing and moaning as against stockpiling food and ammo are two different things.

    If someone is stockpiling food and ammo, they are not just pissing and moaning. They are doing something. Something good? Something bad? Certainly something.

  49. Willy

    I’ve known people to do both, such as Wranglerstar the Youtube homesteader, as well as those prone to doing those things exclusively.

    Does anybody see a voters strategy? The PTB have had an effective one in place, against voters, for decades.

  50. different clue


    A voter strategy? Those who don’t see a name they can vote for by name might come out and vote about the downticket things they care about. Even just one thing. And then make a point of leaving the “president/vice president” pick-line blank. If a hundred million NOTA voters came out and voted “blank”, it might be hard to ignore their presence.

  51. bruce wilder

    Which vote leads to what?

    People sometimes make a big deal of one vote among millions and the vanishingly small impact of any one vote.

    The philosophically imponderable existential question of what is the consequence of the symbolic gesture of a vote rarely gets the attention it deserves.

    You cannot know the consequences of something as discrete and ephemeral as “a” vote: politics of the nation-state take a zig-zag course. The popular guy becomes a pariah; for every action there is a reaction.

    I think one of the results of our top-down politics of propaganda manipulation is that people most vote at random. It does not feel that way to the voter, but having been herded into the veal pen by experts, your views and the narratives you buy into, the so-called tribe you identify with, is just you bouncing around like a pinball. Your vote, even your opinion, is not an expression of your citizen’s will or a critical assessment from your perspective.

    To be politically effective in shaping the future, your one vote does indeed mean very little. To be politically effective and non-random, you must act in concert with many others, be part of a mass movement, not the product of a social media campaign, “informed” by brand.

    I do not discourage voting as a rule. I think it is a citizen’s duty to vote, even if you have no idea of the consequence and no opportunity to act in concert with a purposeful, intentional movement rooted in its members’ interests.

    If you cannot act as part of a movement, because there is no movement, the best you do is to tell yourself and others the truth about your impotence. Do not let the bastards buy you off with “hope” or optimism.

    Between Biden and Trump, I cannot see a difference I feel would play out predictably for humanity. ymmv

    Maybe just try to find a way thru voting or not-voting to signal your availability to some one organizing a member-driven movement. Not a performative hustle, 0r a “protest”, but a determined effort to seize power and govern, create institutions, build, solve genuine problems.

    Politicians who want to solve the problem of the deficit and give tax breaks to billionaires or fight perpetual war or please the totebag liberals who listen to NPR or any number of silly, inconsequential things they know how to “get done” can manufacture votes without me helping them or lying for them.

  52. Willy

    You might be right bruce. Trump lost me somewhere between pussy grabbing and those unpaid contractor videos. For life. I’ve learned from experience that the general nature of people doesn’t much change, and that extreme personalities change even less. Trump hasn’t disappointed me since.

    A part of me believes that the system matters little more than the quality of the elites managing whatever system. Trumps lying about coronavirus (and a thousand other things) suggests to me that he’s also lying about climate change. Not a minor thing. Even if obnoxiously obvious lies are no different from highly rationalized white lies, people do notice. And one will degrade our culture much faster than the other.

    But then I’m that rare guy who seriously believes that Bruce Jenner going from Wheaties box hero to trans-crossing whatever, is a direct reaction to our PTB who can get away with whatever it is they want to, without personal consequence.

  53. neil tuchin

    I like this blog, and I admire Ian. But I’ve never read such a load of crap as much of what’s above. Folks are as polarized here as Trumpers/lefties. Those here that hate basically all establishment figures (and for good reason!) get all black and white about it. Minds are mostly closed now. A sign of the times, sigh… What’s the wise course, given the situation as I understand it? Lets try and take the emotion out of it as much as possible. None of the options are to my liking so what do I do? I see very little of that.

    My view is similar to Seattle Resident. I read this the other day and I smiled:

    [At this point, “I can’t vote for Biden” is the left’s version of “I will not wear a mask.” It’s a personal choice that could disproportionately hurt the most marginalized people among us, but at least yer doing your thaaang!] (Morgan Murphy)

  54. nihil obstet

    @neil tuchin

    I’m always glad to see a seldom commenter add to our discussion. You do realize, however, that your comment against polarization is pretty polarized? “at least yer doing your thaaang!” doesn’t start me down a path that I’ve explained my problems with. If I can explain more clearly the thinking behind what you disagree with, I’ll be happy to try.

  55. neil tuchin

    nihil obstet, I appreciate your comment. And yes, my comment was polarized, and you’re correct in pointing it out. The part of the quote that was significant to me is “It’s a personal choice that could disproportionately hurt the most marginalized people among us…”

    And that’s where it is with me. I haven’t seen any argument that human suffering won’t, in the short or long term, be accelerated with trump in office. Trump appeals to the worst in humanity; a deranged egoist who destroys everything he touches. Biden is just another crook. America’s going down under any circumstances, I think. Yet, does it still matter, for example, if appointed judges have at least a basic level of competence? Would an RGB be better than another Thomas, or Gorsuch? Were talking real suffering here. You know all the arguments – believing in science rather than distorting it, marginalizing racism, at least a minor attempt deal with climate issues…

    I believe it does come down to choosing the lesser evil. In what way would you say that doesn’t make sense? Who wouldn’t do that? Perhaps there’s an argument for not doing that. Will you tell me what that argument is?

  56. nihil obstet

    neil tuchin, We disagree on basics.

    Trump is a vulgar, crass, dishonest, man who should have a criminal record that would have prevented any run for the presidency. But he was never prosecuted for his crimes, as our governments do not appear to prosecute white collar crimes by the rich and well connected. His presidency generally has simply been a routine Republican administration, with tax cuts and judgeships. I gave my view of the judge appointing argument above — Democrats have not pushed for the judiciary over the past 30 years, and I see no evidence that they plan to now. They wail, “Think of the Supreme Court” at election time, and forget it when there’s a real chance to do something. And their appointments, like RBG, tip towards what’s generally called liberal in the culture wars, but the problem for the “most marginalized” in our society isn’t about decorating wedding cakes. It’s about governance by corporation (profits over people), and RBG has been a good pro-corporate judge.

    In 1984, Walter Mondale ran the last Democratic presidential campaign that focused on a decent society. For the 36 years since then, the Democrats have run away from policy, settling 20 years ago on “the lesser evil” argument. In that time, life has gotten worse for most Americans, and significantly worse for the “most marginalized”. This really accelerated during the last Democratic administration, with increasing debt and shortening life spans. It’s hard to judge whether the situations in war and peace, civil liberties, human rights, economic security, health care, and the rest would have been better if the Democrats had stayed in power. We know that the Democrats supported the Republican administrations throughout that time and then did very little during their own administrations because the Republicans wouldn’t let them. The exception is the 2008 to 2010 period when the Democrats had the presidency and a large majority in Congress. Bush had pretty much destroyed the Republican party. Obama said that a tw0-party system was important in America and worked to rehabilitate the GOP. He also said that policy should be bi-partisan and kept weakening proposals to get GOP senators to sign on. They didn’t, but Democrats still say that the GOP stopped real reform!

    So meanwhile, after nearly 40 years, the country is getting, from my point of view, worse and worse. The “lesser evil” has not worked to assuage suffering. Instead, we need to say to those seeking office, “You must work for us.” You can call it a vote strike if you wish, since workers got decent jobs through use of the strike — you know you can work at an inadequate wage for a day which is a lesser evil than just walking around outside with a sign, but the strike works long term. That’s the argument for not continuing to provide justification for evil.

    Sorry that this is so scattered. I tried to respond to your questions that cover different topics and approaches. There is of course lots more, but this is too much already. I hope you can think that those who disagree with you may have real motives and not all is vanity.

  57. neil tuchin

    nihil obstet
    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. But really, we don’t disagree on the situation, or the history, but what to do under these particular circumstances today. But I wonder – do you think Gore would have attacked Iraq? I wouldn’t think so. There are a couple hundred thousand Iraqi people that would see a difference between Gore and Cheney. Can we just say that while the US is run by and for the wealthy they are not all the same. Even the wealthy benefit when the bureaucracy works for everybody, when a pandemic response is rational, when the air is breathable, etc. (Although greed does seem to get the best of most of them.)

    I’m a believer re strikes. Capitalism, I think, ultimately leads to fascism. It’s being played out now. A general strike would make a huge impact. But what if workers don’t want to bargain collectively? We’re all in this together is NOT the American way, although it has been sometimes in the past, at least as an ideal.

    What I’m interested in is, given the circumstances today, what do you see as the practical result if everybody agreed with you and didn’t vote (or voted green, etc.) How does that play out? At this time…

    I don’t think your comment was at all scattered. What was scattered was my initial comment, which would lend itself to answering as you did. I was grumpy at the time also, but I do value thoughtful disagreement. I just think getting rid of trump is vital as he is a malignant tumor on the body and soul of humanity. I don’t see how it benefits any of us if people don’t vote and he is reelected. I appreciate your patience..,. -Neil

  58. nihil obstet

    neil tuchin

    What I’m interested in is, given the circumstances today, what do you see as the practical result if everybody agreed with you Well, that’s easy. If everybody agreed with me, we’d have perfect government for the perfect people we’d be! But since everybody falls short, we have to deal with the situation in a different way.

    On Gore — not only do I think he wouldn’t have attacked Iraq, I think he would have prevented the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I was working with FEMA closely enough at the time to know that prior to the attack, their management were virtually hysterical about the possibility of terrorism. I will hand it to the Bill Clinton administration — they were good, effective administrators. The media talked up the “adults” in George W. Bush’s administration, but they were pretty incompetent. They always looked to me like the group you could find pontificating self-righteously at the 19th hole of a small town country club. This is a tough call, however. Clinton imposed sanctions on Iraq that killed an estimated half million children by blocking food and medical supplies. Kill them with weapons or let them die of hunger and illness? We have to find another alternative.

    The biggest voting block in the U.S. for some years has been the non-voter. I don’t support that — our politicians would have fewer people vote, who could be controlled more easily. I still say that we should vote for a third party candidate or a write-in. Say, “I went to the poll, I voted, and I refused to make it a vote for you.” The Democrats have blamed, not the non-voter but the alternative voter, for their losses. In Florida in 2000 there were clearly illegal purges of over twenty thousand Democrats off the list of registered voters, but the Democrats ignore it in favor of blaming a few thousand Nader voters. They’re happy if you don’t vote, but terrified if you vote for an alternative.

    But to the question of can I live with a Trump re-election caused by my write-in vote? Yes. I don’t see Trump as the major danger that I’m told he is. If he is such a danger, Congress should do their duty and defend the Constitution. The fact that their pitiful show impeachment centered on a phone call in Ukraine pretty much says it all about Trump and them. I’m hearing virtually nothing from the Democrats except calls to vote Democratic. If they can’t be bothered to stop Trump’s crimes, waiting for me to stop them, they’re not very serious. (The “they” is ambiguous — both crimes and Democrats.)

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