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What Can Taiwan Do to Protect Itself from China?


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – April 18, 2021


  1. Jeff Wegetson

    I really prefer reading over listening. But Alexander Mercouris at the Duran now forces me to listen. The Duran is one of those Russian fellow traveler sites where you feel like you are in an Alice in Wonderland chapter. The praise the US right wing icons but they actually understand things like Marxism and socialism from both directions. But I digress …

    Mercouris has become my go to source for the current Ukraine craziness. He has been saying all along that a war wasn’t (isn’t) going to happen and backs it up with sources in both English and Russian.

    The URL above from late in the day April 16th says it all if needing punctuation. US sanctions Russia and then begs for summit. Russia shrugs off sanctions. Russia shelves summit.

    He makes a strong case. Of course a single persons case is often strong even when they are wrong. Still …

    It’s a slow listen. But it builds and gets better. At the end he describes the current strengths of the Russian economy including its Mir credit card system and a functioning interbank alternative at least inside Russia to SWIFT, its lack of any significant externally denominated debt, and deft management of oil reserves to minimize oil price instability.

    Another perverse strength of the Russian economy is that it is using austerity measures and budget surpluses as management tools. Perverse because that’s like trying to drive with one foot on the accelerator and one on the brake. They have at times brought in economist Michael Hudson to advise them. Maybe Michael was too sophisticated for them. Maybe they need some pop-economics from Stephanie Kelton.

  2. NR

    So the cop who shot Breonna Taylor has written a book, and it’s being published by Post Hill Press, a small independent that specializes in “conservative politics” and Christian titles. Pretty interesting that the murder of innocent, unarmed black people is what passes for conservative politics and/or Christianity in America these days.

  3. good or decent liberal news outlet goes bad
    Jimmy Dore and Aaron Mate tag team to take down Amy Goodman and Democracy Now. Mate used to work at democracynow, and had great respect for their journalism. I think he still has a lot of respect for their journalism, but their embrace of the Russiagate nonsense was a bridge too far. ( I sort of agree, if you accept a left-wing bias; but they seriously punted on 911 “conspiracy theories”, which was probably before Mate’s time. ) Mate also points out that democracynow has frozen out previously frequent guests, like John Pilger, Robert Fisk (now deceased) and Stephen F. Cohen (now deceased).

    Mate blames TDS and cowardice for Democracy Now degenerating, but I think he should take a look at the funding flows diagram at archived, which shows CIA and CIA front connections.

    See “Former Employee BLASTS “Democracy Now” For Pushing Establishment Propaganda”

    good or decent liberal truth teller get censored by mainstream, so-called “left” main stream media
    Naomi Wolf is effectively being suppressed by the cnn’s, msnbc’s, etc. Her sin is blowing the whistle on the implications of the vaccine passports. She was recently interviewed by Steve Bannon on War Room Pandemic.

    See “Episode 874 – Not Science Fiction … Dr. Naomi Wolf Reveals Dangers of Vaccine Passports (w/ Dr. Naomi Wolf)”

  4. someofparts

    J Wegetson and metamars – wow, thanks to both of you – first thing in the morning and I have interesting links to follow

    As to Michael Hudson, he is already on the shortlist of people I follow closely. I did not know he had worked with the Russians, but he is currently working with China and has plenty of interesting things to say about that.

  5. Ché Pasa

    Re: Amy Goodman and DN!

    I’m so old, I remember when she was being blasted for bankrupting Pacifica. She had no regrets, not even a “too bad, so sad.”

    I asked her once what she thought about billionaires funding so-called alternative media, specifically in this case The Intercept, and she sort of gave me a spit take and said, “Well, it just depends on the work, doesn’t it?” Yah. Sure.

    A look at her funding sources brings up some very interesting questions on the one hand and explains much of the focus of her reporting. Which is not so much “lefty” as it is “leftish” these days.

    Have you noticed she’s taken to using colonialist terminology (Rangoon. Burma. etc.) when referring to the coup and uprising in Myanmar? Well, there you are then.

    Still, you see stories and interviews there you wouldn’t see elsewhere..

  6. someofparts

    Well, so much for withdrawing from Afghanistan.

    This lines right up with the replacement of the military/industrial complex with the military/private equity complex.

  7. I used to listen to DN regularly 30 years ago. Rarely nowadays. I really can’t remember specific reasons why I stopped – it was more than bad/insufficient 911 investigations – but I have grown much more intolerant of hearing “racism” blamed for so many things. Hey, here’s an idea, Amy: interview former Marxist Thomas Sowell. Also I spent 10’s of hours per week studying climate change since those days, so I know they’re not really interested in scientific truth the way I am.

    I will say this, for them. They have a high signal to noise ratio, which is a good thing.

    I used to frequently listen to WBAI’s Michio Kaku’s “explorations” show, but at some point I realized he was as reliable and one-sided about climate change as Amy Goodman; and reading “Not Even Wrong” and “The Trouble with Physics” made me very skeptical about string theory, in spite of Kaku’s insistence, quoting Faraday, I think it was, that someday governments
    “would tax” (the use of string theory). Kaku is a string theorist….

    Kaku has a frequent guest Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is always interesting. But Tyson spews the party line about climate change. His remake of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos was excellent, except for the garbage segment about climate change. To put it bluntly, deGrasse Tyson is as reliable on climate change as Tony Fauci is on covid therapeutics and prophylactics. He is what physicist and radical lefty Denis Rancourt would call a “service intellectual”.

    Gary Null, another frequent pacifica host, who has raised tremendous amounts of money for them, had done some segments about problems with DN and Amy Goodman, and it included stuff about how they handle money, but I can’t remember the details.

  8. Lee Stranahan and John Kiriakou interviewed Scott Ritter about the Ukraine standoff. See “First Biden, Now NATO Announces Withdrawal of Troops From Afghanistan” at Ritter says that Russia is on a war footing, but the US is not – in terms of a major, conventional conflict involving massive numbers of forces. Russia is the only country in the world that trains at “corps level”, which is multiple divisions or 10’s of thousands, scope of fighting, with combined air force, armor, and infantry. According to Ritter, the US has been doing low intensity warfare for 20 years, and hasn’t done the corp level training in this time. The Russians are ready to punch through “100 km” with such forces. (I don’t know if he meant “per day”, or not.) Also, the US doesn’t have enough air to air missiles to target all of the Russian planes (that can strike in Europe, I guess), even if they never missed.

    The American forces in Europe, if it “closed” with the combined forces that the Russians have assembled, would last for “hours”, and there would be nothing to replace it. It would take 6-8 months to assemble forces to match what the Russians have deployed. If they fight with just Ukraine, they will arrive in Kiev within “days”.

    He also says the F-35 can’t dogfight with the Russian SU-30 (I don’t think that would normally matter that much, but if your Air Force runs out of air-to-air missiles, it could matter a lot, assuming they can survive getting close to Russian planes)

    Ritter believe the Pentagon must have told Biden to shut up, just like they effectively shut up the Trump Administration’s threatening Iran.

  9. someofparts

    “He is what physicist and radical lefty Denis Rancourt would call a “service intellectual”. ”

    The antidote to civil rights perverted into woke identity politics is Adolph Reed. His term for a purveyor of racial identity politics is being a “voice”.

  10. Chuck Mire

    A veteran who fought in Afghanistan asks was it worth it:

    Also, there is a short video, “Democracy Doesn’t Come In A Box” where former veterans speak out.

  11. bruce wilder

    So the cop who shot Breonna Taylor has written a book, . . .

    He was not charged and he was himself shot; he and the boyfriend are locked in civil suits, each against the other.

    Is it right-wing to be stupidly self-justifying? Does he even realize that the antics of his team nearly got himself killed and did kill an innocent woman?

    There was a guy whose name slips my mind, who as an American military attache in Egypt during WWII took it upon himself to write elaborate critiques of British military planning and send them to Washington via an known-to-be-insecure channel. His dispatches were intercepted by the Germans and contributed to a series of what seemed at the time to be British missteps. He later participated in founding the John Birch Society.

    Somewhere today I skimmed an NBC report about Facebook groups for veterans full of QAnon and 2020 election cheating.

    There is a connection here.

  12. bruce wilder

    I should probably acknowledge that the cop turned author feels aggrieved by “inaccurate” Media coverage. Back in the day, the newspapers would struggle to spell people’s names correctly and anyone who participated in reported events would probably feel “the story” was somewhat inaccurate. Now, Media grab hold of “narratives”, some fed them deliberately by players, others chosen for their appeal to whatever flash mob improves the outlet’s ratings or clickthrus. Being at the center of a media firestorm, without resources to push your own side of a story that is ruining your career and provoking threats of violence against your life or family has got to be traumatic in itself. From the reports, this forms a large part of the author cop’s motivation to write.

    Some tropes are sickeningly predictable. In the Floyd case against Chauvin, Chauvin’s defense will predictably be that Floyd was high and “the drugs” killed him, or his heart disease killed Floyd, or . or . or. I understand the argument will be proffered that the crowd of onlookers alarmed at the ongoing murder “prevented” the cops from rendering medical aid to Floyd with their threatening agitation. Right-wing media picked up these themes long before the trial and pushed “narratives” that came close to fabricating evidence from the autopsies. “Left-wing” and mainstream Media push clickable narratives, such as a secret personal acquaintance and enmity. The actions of the two rookies on the scene were omitted or mischaracterized to make the story more morally outrageous and anti-cop.

    It is a media ecology that favors moral panic and excludes verifiable fact and moral ambiguity or alternative analytic frames. The Media will include factoids that reinforce the narrative script they are pushing, but will eschew inquiring into perspective-granting questions. The “left” mainstream corporate media always pushs “racism” as an explanator that excludes other factors and the alternative frames of analysis, just as the right-wing corporate media exploits the resentments of those who may feel they themselves are being called “racist” by implication.

  13. bruce wilder

    Jonathan Cook reporting the revelation that bogus charges of antisemitism were used to attack and oust Corbyn and some of his allies in the Labour Party.

    I am not quite sure what to make of the “revelations” aspect. Was this not obvious at the time the charges were being pressed forward?

    Who are the idiots who “believe”, who volunteer to be openly and cynically manipulated?

    Like who is ready to believe that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff tearfully pled to remain in Afghanistan to defend the rights of women?

    I get why people who identify with a group under attack will distort their own views. I just do not grasp this synthetic altruism that is ready to believe in the woke idealism of corporate business or military leaders and the secret “racism” of lifelong activists.

  14. Hugh

    The quality of policing depends on having strict, high standards for it. If you cut the police slack, you get sloppy, corrupt policing. If you hire ex-military to be police, if they don’t live in the communities they police, the police become an occupying army, and you get a lot of dead civilians, especially if they are black and brown.

    In Kentucky, Breonna Taylor died because of an unnecessary police raid that was a total botch. None of the police were charged for her murder. One, who is a poster boy of your corrupt cop, was charged for firing so wildly that some of his shots went into the apartment of Breonna Taylor’s white neighbor.

    The Kentucky Attorney General who investigated this is African-American. But he is also a Republican McConnell lapdog. And members of the grand jury to whom he presented his “evidence” said he actively misled them into believing that they could not decide on charges more severe than those he suggested.

    It is unsurprising that in this environment everything gets turned upside down, and that one of the officers involved gets to publish a book and make money off of how ill used he feels for not being thanked for his part in killing a random black woman.

  15. Ché Pasa

    Bruce makes some cogent points, but I suppose like we all do, he falls into narrative, the very media narratives he’s criticizing as non-objective.

    With regard to Sgt. Mattingly’s book about Breonna Taylor’s murder and its “cancellation” by Simon & Schuster, there’s not a lot to say about the specific action by the publisher. They’re a business, they can do what they want, and except by contract, they have no obligation to publish or distribute. They made a business decision, and as we’ve seen in other cases, another publisher picked up Mattingly’s tome, and the controversy around it is going to sell more books. Basically, what’s happened with the publication of his memoir and defense is all good for Mattingly and probably for his new publisher.

    As for Mattingly himself, I understand he was not Breonna Taylor’s killer, that he in fact was the cop-victim who was (possibly) shot by her boyfriend as the raid was taking place. The problem is that he could have been shot by friendly fire in response to the shot fired by her boyfriend. We don’t know.

    Mattingly himself comes across as a decent individual who feels aggrieved by the way the story is widely perceived (not necessarily the way it is told) as a “murder by cops.” Incompetent cops at that. His perspective is that it was a proper raid, improperly carried out, and it’s too bad the woman died. If they’d just jammed their way in without knocking — the way they were allowed to by the warrant, properly obtained — she would still be alive. Because they would have overpowered the suspects before they had a chance to respond. Basically, his defense for the tragedy is process. The cops were in the right, and Kenneth Walker had no right of self defense.

    In interviews, he’s made these points very clear.

    The counter narrative is that there shouldn’t have been a raid at all since the person who was the actual suspect had already been apprehended. But the incompetence of the police force ensured this was not communicated in a timely manner. Furthermore, why are these hopped up warrior cops out and about committing mayhem in the first place, hm? Why primarily against black and brown people?

    The two narratives collide, tensions mount, and as we’ve seen, little changes. Makes you think the collisions and tensions themselves might be the point, eh? This goes beyond reporting and into the overall social and political framework.

    Media, like publishing, is a business. They can do what they want. The media have never been the objective paragons we’re supposed to believe they used to be. They weren’t. Far from it. In some ways they were worse in the past than now. There was certainly a greater level of propaganda capture than now.

    We’re supposed to have the critical thinking ability to sort through the bullshit, but obviously we largely don’t. It’s much easier just to follow the lead of whatever media narrative we prefer. Certainly keeps our rulers happy! Well, at least until the rabble gets uppity and goes rampaging through the Temple of Democracy.

  16. Astrid

    Very convenient to have Hugh provide the example to Bruce Wilder’s excellent question. But Trump…Republicans…Russians…Chinese…!$@&-;’_!?

    They keep their minds so busy with outrage and hysteria that they never have to acquaint themselves with the other side of the story or ask cui bono about the reportage of their favored media endorphin source. They are pure of heart and have the best of intentions, this they *must* be right.

  17. bruce wilder

    the cops themselves always get blamed in most Media narratives, as if it were always a matter of going rogue, personal racial animus et cetera

    policy — how and why cops are deployed, training and use of force rules these are also to be blamed, but it is harder to tell that story and people do not want to read about corrupt brutality in white collars creating violence.

    that case where a phalanx of riot cops deliberately knocked down and seriously injured a lone, elderly activist was interesting in part because the cops all resigned from their “special” unit when their supervisors would not admit that they had been trained and deployed exactly what they did.

    i do not know the truth of the matter, but i read a story that suggested the cops in Taylor’s case were staging noisy nighttime raids as part of a scheme to clear a neighborhood for some real estate development project. again policy, not rogue cops

    of course the fish rots from the head. corruption and brutality among cops at street level is related to corruption and negligence higher up

  18. bruce wilder


    pay attention to the information vacuum

    the vacuum does a lot to induce people to supply from imagination and fantasy and prejudice and half-remembered history what they cannot learn from what they are told

    news that is all opinion and projection can have very little information and still fill hours and pages

    kafka-esque secrecy, privacy laws punish whistleblowers which contributes to the vacuum effect

  19. Stirling S Newberry

    John Williamson – coiner of the phrase “The Washington Consus” – dies.

    Lesson: if they use the term is because they want to do awful things under its name.

  20. Astrid


    What I also notice is weaponization of “good thinking”. The imprisonment of Assange of obfscated with accusations of purported sex crimes. The lawfare against Lula and Salmond under covers of anti-corruption and victim’s rights. The completely ridiculous charges of antisemitism against anyone with even a whiff of criticism of Israel’s apartaid state and its willing enablers in the English speaking world

    Funny that those so outraged by are still happy to vote for Biden despite his well documented track record of racist utterances, plagiarism, lies, and sexual harassment. Even when they know the truth and can’t deny its veracity, they will argue the “good” and yell it so loud that nothing else can be discussed.

  21. Hugh

    Cops kill black and brown people time after time after time. That’s a narrative. If almost anyone else kills somebody, that’s a crime. And even when you have cowboy cops running amok and killing people, it’s not their fault but higher-ups’ policy. As some racist said recently, how convenient.

  22. Astrid

    Belief in inherent goodness and honesty of attractive storytellers dies hard. And these psychopaths know exactly how to take advantage. I could show articles like this one below to my friends and family, but I don’t think they can connect the dots anymore. Instead, I’m accused of being shrill and going on about things that don’t matter, when they’re focusing on Trump supporters and the poor Uighurs.

  23. Astrid

    And here comes Hugh, expanding racism to cover skepticism about demonstrably false narratives. If someone believed in a false narrative before disavowing it, are they racist against their old themselves? Are they self loathing true believers? Or trans-skeptics? Inquiring mind (mine) wants to know!

  24. someofparts

    I watched a horrifying video yesterday that was bodycam footage of policemen arresting a dementia-addled 74yr old woman. As horrifying as the scenes of the policeman were, the biggest message I took away from it was that Walmart and all it represents was the real problem.

    If the town where all of this took place still had a main street and mom-and-pop stores, the outcome for the old woman would have been fine instead of surreal. In a town that still had a healthy local community somebody would know her family and local shop owners would recognize her as a harmless crank.

    Here’s the video if you want to subject yourself to it.

  25. Joseph E. Kelleam

    As an ex-sports fan, I finally grokked Astrid’s worldview: She’s the Vince Lombardi of Mideast politics. “Palestine isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

  26. Astrid

    Unlike a certain selfless Hasbarist and his “humanitarian” fellow traveler here, I actually have several selfish interests in play. The main one would be to avoid personally witnessing a nuclear WWIII. Supplemental interests include a MSM that is slightly trustworthy to avoid mental strain, not living under a venal and belligerent government whose actions constantly fill me with rage (constant rage bring terrible for ones physical and mental health), a populace that’s doing something to mitigate the impact of the head-on collision with climate change, resource depletion (because I don’t fancy my odds in a Mad Max world), and undoing physical/spiritual pollution of 40 years of Neoliberal/necon ascendency (see note on rage).

  27. Astrid

    But thanks for your high praise of my selfless interest in the welfare of Palestinians. I wish I could do more, but I’m a moral coward (having seen what taking a moral stand on this point did to the career trajectory of a good friend who is a Jewish socialist) and also think that fighting over a soon to be uninhabitable land (due to climate change) is pretty pointless. Though that doesn’t take away the immediate suffering Palestinians have endured in the hands of the Zionist apartaid government.

  28. bruce wilder

    Hugh: Cops kill black and brown people time after time after time. That’s a narrative.

    Yes, it is. A story that organizes and imposes meaning on a set of facts. A story is only as true as the accuracy of its account of facts in context and the identification of mechanisms in play allow. Excluding facts from consideration shapes the listener’s ability to discriminate among alternative narratives or even find and weigh an alternative. If wrong or misleading fact(oid)s are introduced, people make shit up — my point about information vacuums. This is why a civil or criminal trial which is a contest of narratives has the lawyers arguing over the admissability of facts and arguments.

    If almost anyone else kills somebody, that’s a crime.

    Not generally true. Many homicides, not just by cops, are excused in practice and it is a legal art to determine what the crime may be even when the outline of events is known.

    The news media rarely gives its viewers a scrupulously accurate perspective on the sociology of police violence, including homicides. There have been efforts — the Washington Post was keeping a database (something the FBI defies Congress by not doing properly) but citing it was never popular with journalists or editors.

    The cases where criminal conduct by the victim is not implicated and the victim is unarmed are very few in number. The mentally-ill are often victims. Superficially horrifying cases involving innocent whites do happen but do not attract more than local coverage.

    The basis for the warrant on which Duarte Wright was sought has been misrepresented some Media outlets (MSNBC i think) to sharpen their moral outrage. That is typical journalistic behavior these days. We are all Fox News now apparently.

    As for “policy” — if we as a polity are ever going to improve things we had better be prepared to talk policy. Policy is the umbrella term for the systematic interventions we might try.

    One of the things about the relentless use of “racism” as an exclusionary explanator is how it limits both the policy options and the politics to support policy reforms. Racism is surely a factor — race is sadly a trigger for expectations of criminal or violent behavior for lots of people, including police who may encounter black criminals frequently in some communities and well out of proportion to their proportion of the community. But, it is not the only factor in a complex phenomena. Politically, it would be helpful for citizens to know that white people, hispanic, native american, handicapped and mentally ill people are also unnecessarily assaulted by police and sometimes killed.

  29. Ché Pasa


    I saw that video of the special needs elderly lady tackled and trussed up like a Christmas turkey for… wait for it… disobedience of cop and I greatly admired the civilian who tried to intervene.

    He was calm, straightforward, knew his duty, and would not be dissuaded by cops’ impertinence, threats, or intimidation.

    Also he was not a native English speaker. I assume his native language was Spanish, but maybe not.

    The cops, all of them on scene, behaved like robot idiots. Couldn’t even figure out whether the lady was intoxicated or not. And most of all, they wanted to be sure they covered each other’s asses if, as was likely, the civilian filed a complaint.


    And of course, they badly injured their quarry without a care in the world.

    Their claim was she resisted. From what I saw, she disobeyed and only after she was man-handled did she resist. With today’s police, nothing is worse. It’s been the rationale for many killings by police.

    Washington Post deliberately only tracked shooting deaths by police, leaving out such things as what Chauvin did to George Floyd. The Guardian tracked most kinds of deaths at police hands, but the most comprehensive database, I found was “Killed by Police” — which ceased tracking some time ago when the bigger institutional media started doing it.

    Comprehensive government tracking still doesn’t exist. And for all the slagging of “The Media”, essentially all the tracking is done by volunteer civilians using media accounts or by the media itself.

  30. different clue

    Here is a sub-reddit which accepts postings of police nastiness from plain nastiness up to Blue Pig Murder.

    Here is a sub-reddit of public freakouts in general, a random some of which are by police.

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