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

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – April 16, 2023

by Tony Wikrent

Climate and environmental crises

How an Early Oil Industry Study Became Key in Climate Lawsuits

[Yale Environment 360, via The Big Picture 4-9-2023]

For decades, 1960s research for the American Petroleum Institute warning of the risks of burning fossil fuels had been forgotten. But two papers discovered in libraries are now playing a key role in lawsuits aimed at holding oil companies accountable for climate change.

The thread that ties the recent chemical spills together

[Vox, via The Big Picture 4-9-2023]

The growing oil and gas industry means more incidents like East Palestine.

Inside the battle over who gets to build the grid of the future 

[Minnesota Reformer, via Naked Capitalism 4-11-2023]

The U.S. Department of Energy issued a draft report in February that found a “pressing need” for new electric transmission infrastructure across the country to improve reliability, connect a rapidly growing number of solar, wind and battery storage projects, supply increasing electric demand and alleviate scattered pockets of consistently high prices across the country.

To meet the future envisioned by the federal infrastructure act and the Inflation Reduction Act, which both contain major provisions to boost clean energy, the country needs to increase its current transmission system by an eye-popping 57% by 2035, the report says. Princeton University’s Net-Zero America study estimates expanding transmission capacity by 60% by 2030 will cost $330 billion and tripling it by 2050 will cost $2.2 trillion.

But in some states, bills that have been pushed by utilities to give them exclusive or preferential treatment for building regional transmission lines, called “right-of-first-refusal” laws, mean customers might pay more than they should for all those wires and towers, critics say.


The coming war on China: the real target are the American people 

Alex Krainer, April 15, 2023 []

Empire’s proxy war on Russia is rapidly coming to a head in Ukraine and the imperial guard might urgently need a new war. Their next target is China and once more we witness a relentless escalation of provocations and hostility. In his Wall Street Journal column this week, former National Security Advisor John Bolton laid out his “grand strategy” to confront Russia and China. His genius idea is to give Taiwan “much more military aid” from western nations and “embed Taipei into collective-defense structures.”

Bolton’s warmongering is only the last in the long sequence of proclamations by US officials indicating the direction of their foreign policy. Last month, U.S. Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) that the United States has “to prepare, to be prepared to fight and win that war” against China. This is not just idle talk: they really are preparing.
On Sunday, 10 January, Lieutenant General James Bierman, the commanding general of the Third Marine Expeditionary Force gave an interview to the Financial Times in which he said that his command is working hard to replicate the empire’s military success (!) in Ukraine. Bierman explained that the US and its allies in Asia were recreating the groundwork that had enabled western countries to support Ukraine’s resistance to Russia in preparing for scenarios such as Chinese invasion of Taiwan….

America faces a two-front war: Russia-China alliance moving ahead at great speed [Kissinger’s worst nightmare]

Gilbert Doctorow [via Mike Norman Economics, April 14, 2023]


Trading with the Enemy (excerpt)

Seymour Hersh, via Mike Norman Economics 4-13-2023]

The Ukraine government, headed by Volodymyr Zelensky, has been using American taxpayers’ funds to pay dearly for the vitally needed diesel fuel that is keeping the Ukrainian army on the move in its war with Russia…. Zelensky has been buying the fuel from Russia, the country with which it, and Washington, are at war, and the Ukrainian president and many in his entourage have been skimming untold millions from the American dollars earmarked for diesel fuel payments. One estimate by analysts from the Central Intelligence Agency put the embezzled funds at $400 million last year.

Global power shift

Waiting for the end of the world

Pepe Escobar [via Mike Norman Economics 4-12-2023]

We cannot even begin to fathom the non-stop ripple effects deriving from the 2023 geopolitical earthquake that shook the world: Putin and Xi, in Moscow, de facto signaling the beginning of the end of Pax Americana.

This has been the ultimate anathema for rarified Anglo-American hegemonic elites for over a century: a signed, sealed, comprehensive strategic partnership of two peer competitors, intertwining a massive manufacturing base and pre-eminence in supply of natural resources – with value-added Russian state of the art weaponry and diplomatic nous.

From the point of view of these elites, whose Plan A was always a debased version of the Roman Empire’s Divide and Rule, this was never supposed to happen. In fact, blinded by hubris, they never saw it coming….

we have China, the world’s largest economy by far when measured by purchasing power parity (PPP), as well as the largest exporter. And we have Russia, an economy that by PPP is equivalent or even larger than Germany’s – with the added advantages of being the world’s largest energy exporter and not forced to de-industrialize.

Together, in synch, they are focused on creating the necessary conditions to bypass the US dollar.

Cue to one of President Putin’s crucial one-liners: “We are in favor of using the Chinese yuan for settlements between Russia and the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.”….

And that brings us to something essential that was – predictably – ignored en masse by Western media: the Boao Forum for Asia, which took place nearly simultaneously with the announcement of Russia’s new foreign policy concept.

The Boao Forum, started in early 2001, still in the pre-9/11 era, has been modeled on Davos, but it’s Top China through and through, with the secretariat based in Beijing….

Yet nothing will change if the global financial casino is not subverted. Russia taught the world a lesson: it was preparing itself, in silence, for a long-term Total War. So much so that its calibrated counterpunch turned the Financial War upside down – completely destabilizing the casino. China, meanwhile, is re-balancing, and is on the way to be also prepared for Total War, hybrid and otherwise….

Globalist neoliberal totalitarianism of course won’t disappear under a sand storm. At least not yet. There’s still a maelstrom of toxicity ahead: suspension of constitutional rights; Orwellian propaganda; goon squads; censorship; cancel culture; ideological conformity; irrational curbs of freedom of movement; hatred and even persecution of – Slav – Untermenschen; segregation; criminalization of dissent; book burnings, show trials; fake arrest mandates by the kangaroo ICC; ISIS-style terror.

But the most important vector is that both China and Russia, each exhibiting their own complex particularities – and both dismissed by the West as unassimilable Others – are heavily invested in building workable economic models that are not connected, in several degrees, to the Western financial casino and/or supply chain networks. And that’s what’s driving the Exceptionalists berserk – even more berserk than they already are.

Russia leaves neoliberal West to join World Majority – Economists Radhika Desai and Michael Hudson explain

[Geopolitical Economy Report, via Mike Norman Economics 4-15-2023]

Video and transcript

So what Michael and I thought we’d do is focus on two particular points that we thought were interesting that I picked up when I was in Russia is that during the whirlwind of conferences that I was at, at which some very prominent Russians spoke, the one thing that I heard that was really interesting is a decisive statement coming from some of the most influential speakers, that essentially Russia is moving away from the West and will never return.

And the second idea, which is also very fascinating, is that increasingly the Russians are now thinking of themselves as part of a “World Majority.”

Welcome to a new era of petrodollar power 

[Economist, via Naked Capitalism 4-11-2023]

Two Nations Are Challenging Russia’s Arctic Shipping Dominance 

[Oil Price, via Naked Capitalism 4-11-2023]

  • China and Turkey are spearheading the construction of Arctic ice-breakers.
  • The Ukraine war has shifted priorities for the Kremlin, and there is less budget available to fund Moscow’s Arctic programs.
  • Some in Russia are alarmed by the prospect that China is on its way to becoming not only the dominant power of the NSR but also across much of Russian territory.

The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

Problems of an American Industrial Strategy I: Kindleberger’s Dilemma and the Development State 

Yakov Feygin [via Naked Capitalism 4-11-2023]

There is no equivalent theory for an advanced, developed country like the United States. Moreover, no theory can account for the unique features of the American economy vis-a-vis the rest of the world. Many of us who advocate for industrial policy see it as a way to quickly upgrade our capital stock to the challenge of climate change and geopolitical threats. As of yet, we have had no theory about how to do this in a country where you already have the world’s largest economy. At most, what we have is a theory of innovation. Scholars like Bill Janeway and Marianna Mazzucatto have given valuable insights into how states can stimulate and direct private-sector innovation. Yet, the black box of installation and production remains relatively closed. We will have to open this box if we are concerned about climate change since it is more of a coordination of capital investment problem than an innovation challenge (more on this in previous posts and later).

[TW: As usual, these ruling elites are stumbling about in the fog of their own intellectually arrogant historical ignorance. A full industrial strategy, and the “theory” for it — including the all-important aspect of Constitutional interpretation — were thoroughly elaborated by USA’s first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, in his series of reports to Congress on banking, credit, the mint, and manufacturing, and the report to President Washington on the constitutionality of a national bank. Given that Hamilton designed the USA economy, it is astonishing that so few economics textbooks of the past half century mention him. Astonishing, and also indicative of the reason why USA elites are unable to govern effectively and fairly. ]


Model vs reality

Lars P. Syll, via Mike Norman Economics, April 15, 2023]

Economic models are about economic relations among agents, which is only a small part of social relations. So naturally such models don’t represent reality but only the aspects they model. This is the difference between the approach of conventional economics and that of economic sociology, economic anthropology, cognitive science, and much of heterodox economics.

With inflation stubbornly high, 58% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck: CNBC survey

Jessica Dickler [CNBC, via Mike Norman Economics, April 13, 2023]

Fed Report: Largest 25 U.S. Banks Have Shed $700 Billion in Deposits Over Past Year

Pam Martens and Russ Martens, April 11, 2023 [Wall Street on Parade]

The reality is that the 25 largest domestically-chartered commercial banks in the U.S. have been bleeding deposits for most of the past 12 months, shedding more than $700 billion in deposits between April 13, 2022 and March 29, 2023. To put that in even sharper focus, all U.S. domestically-chartered commercial banks have lost a total of $970 billion during the same time period. That means that the largest 25 banks account for a whopping 72 percent of the plunge in deposits over the past year. (See chart below.)

They’re not capitalists — they’re predatory criminals

New Bombshells Filed in Court in the Jeffrey Epstein/JPMorgan Child Sex Trafficking Case

Pam Martens and Russ Martens, April 13, 2023 [Wall Street on Parade]

The newly filed second amended complaint also incorporates information obtained from a deposition of Mary Erdoes, the Chief Executive Officer of JPMorgan Chase’s Asset & Wealth Management division and one of the bank’s highest ranking women. Much of the new information is stunning in terms of just how much it alleges that the bank knew about Epstein’s sex trafficking while it displayed a callous disregard for the underage girls being impacted by its failing to take action.  It reads in part:

“In 2006, a JP Morgan Rapid Response Team noted that Epstein ‘routinely’ made cash withdrawals in amounts from $40,000 to $80,000 several times per month, totaling over $750,000 per year. In addition, Mary Erdoes admitted in her deposition that JP Morgan was aware by 2006 that Epstein was accused of paying cash to have underage girls and young women brought to his home. In the years that followed, JP Morgan employees, including senior executives, emailed internally that Epstein was under investigation or had been sued for trafficking or sexual abuse. This includes an email in 2010 between Mary Erdoes and Jes Staley regarding a federal investigation of Epstein for child trafficking; a 2011 email summarizing a few 2010 news stories connecting Epstein to human trafficking and promising to ‘monitor the accounts and cash usage closely going forward;’ and a 2011 compliance memo noting that ‘[n]umerous articles detail various law enforcement agencies investigating Jeffrey Epstein for allegedly participating in child trafficking and molesting underage girls’ and that ‘Epstein had settled a dozen civil lawsuits out of court from his victims regarding solicitation for an undisclosed amount.’ Internal emails also questioned who Epstein’s clients were, circulating an article regarding whether Epstein was running a Ponzi scheme.

“Indeed, Epstein’s behavior was so widely known at JPMorgan that senior executives joked about Epstein’s interest in young girls. In 2008, for example, Mary Erdoes received an email asking her whether Epstein was at an event ‘with miley cyrus.’ In her deposition, Mary Erdoes testified that JP Morgan terminated Epstein as a customer in 2013 after she became aware that the withdrawals were ‘actual cash.’ However, Epstein had made substantial cash withdrawals every year he banked with JP Morgan, including more than $800,000 per year in 2004 and 2005.”

There is also this:

“One internal document [obtained from JPMorgan Chase] describes the account of Epstein’s ‘assistant or young lady he brought over from Prague (or some place like that),’ clearly referring to Jane Doe 1. The document describes charges in New York, Palm Beach, and St. Thomas for lingerie and other sexually explicit material. Elsewhere, JP Morgan describes media reports referring to the fact that Epstein purchased her at age 14. She remained a customer of JP Morgan, and Epstein paid her more than $600,000, from his accounts at JP Morgan, including more than $165,000 after Epstein’s plea.”

All of this raises the critical question as to why this case has been left to the Attorney General of the U.S. Virgin Islands to bring to the federal court in Manhattan. Where is the highest law enforcement agency in the U.S. – the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice. For the insidious failings of the Department of Justice in the Epstein matter, see our 2019 report here.

$4 Trillion In U.S. Wealth Is Stashed Overseas, Much Of It In Tax Havens 

[Forbes, via Naked Capitalism 4-9-2023]

“Government Posing Greater Risk to Corporate Profits, Chamber Study Finds”

[Wall Street Journal, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 4-11-2023]

“Tax changes, regulatory enforcement and government policy shifts are posing a greater threat to corporate profits than they did a decade ago, according to a new study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The chamber study was based on an analysis of annual reports filed by publicly traded companies in the S&P 500 index. It found that companies used terms associated with potential risks from government action about 325,000 times in their 2021 annual reports, a 27% increase from 2011. In contrast, the chamber found that risks to corporate profits from nongovernmental forces, such as lawsuits or cost increases, remained relatively flat during the 10-year period.”

Tackling the biggest fraud in US history – pandemic relief 

[Christian Science Monitor, , via The Big Picture 4-9-2023]

With estimates indicating that as much as $560 billion, or nearly 20%, was stolen out of more than $3 trillion distributed through the three main pandemic aid programs, Mr. Jaklitsch’s case illustrates the twin challenges now facing states and the federal government as they grapple with what is likely the biggest fraud in U.S. history.

Lambert Strether: “This is America. How else were we going to distribute the money?”

J.P. Morgan flagged large Epstein withdrawals before his 2008 conviction, lawsuit alleges 

[MarketWatch, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 4-13-2023]

“J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. was reportedly aware that the late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein was paying underage girls to be brought to his home, years before he was convicted in 2008, according to a lawsuit filing released on Wednesday…. The new filing alleged that the J.P. Morgan Rapid Response Team had internally raised the alarm in 2006 that Epstein was ‘routinely’ making withdrawals, from $40,000 to $80,000 several times per month, totaling over $750,000 per year. Banks must file suspicious activity reports on large transactions. The lawsuit alleges that the bank failed to do so. The filing says that senior executive and head of asset and wealth management Mary Erdoes admitted in a deposition that the bank was ‘aware by 2006 that Epstein was accused of paying cash to have underage girls and young women brought to his home.’…. The filing also said Epstein’s interest in young girls was so notorious at the bank that senior executives would joke about it.”

Health care crisis

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 4-11-2023]


Disability Denied: Unable to Work, COVID Long Haulers Face Barriers to Benefits 

[Capital and Main, via Naked Capitalism 4-14-2023]

Colorado, other states confront medical debt that’s bankrupting millions 

[Colorado Sun, via Naked Capitalism 4-14-2023]

Private Equity and Its Hospitals 

[Washington Monthly, via The Big Picture 4-9-2023]

“Safety net hospitals” serve communities like those in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Finance companies serve themselves.

How Obamacare Created Big Medicine 

Matt Stoller , via Naked Capitalism 4-11-2023]

Today I’m writing about something that is pretty ugly, the American health care system after Obamacare. I’ll explain two things. First, I want to show how Obamacare spurred a big consolidation wave, transforming health insurers into much larger and more powerful conglomerates. Second, I want to offer that one key part of our health care problem is a simple conflict of interest, which is letting payers and providers be owned by the same entities….

The dominant trend of US social life over the last fifteen years is a stagnating, and then declining, life span. There are many reasons for this trend, such as violence, diet, suicide, drug addiction, and auto accidents. But for many reasons, our monopolistic health care system is a big part of the problem. A few weeks ago, I noted how monopolistic drug wholesalers fostered the opioid crisis, and now, for the same reason, they are creating shortages of prescription drugs. Untreated mental illness is a significant factor in elevated suicide rates. Not being able to get care when you need it is associated with higher levels of death and permanent injury. More fundamentally, knowing that there are no systems in place to protect or care for you undermines any sense of hope….

Yet over the last twenty years, something fundamental in the American health care system has changed. It’s not that people can’t get insurance, indeed America is more insured than it has ever been. It’s that the underlying quality inside the health system is falling apart….

But the one area where we’ve seen the emergence of a different and fundamentally corrupt business model is the insurer space. In 2007, for instance, UnitedHealth Group, one of our biggest insurers, had total revenues of $75 billion. Last year, the firm, having expanded far beyond insurance, had annual revenue of $325 billion. CVS Health, which bought insurance giant Aetna in 2018, had a similar trajectory, with $76 billion of revenue in 2007, and $322 billion in 2022.

The revenue only measures the power, it doesn’t describe it. UnitedHealthcare is not just an insurer, it employs around 50,000 physicians, it sells software. CVS is the largest pharmacy chain in the country and has a network of clinics, while Humana is now the biggest provider of home health care services in the country. Insurers control home health agencies, ambulance providers, and data management firms, as well as pharmaceutical middlemen.

Tacoma woman with tuberculosis found in contempt of court after refusing treatment 

[CNN, via Naked Capitalism 4-11-2023]

[TW: extremely interesting because of the issue public health, which has been horribly botched regarding COVID]

Creating new economic potential – science and technology

The Biggest EV Battery Recycling Plant In the US Is Open For Business 

[Canary Media, via Naked Capitalism 4-11-2023]

Information age dystopia

A Guide to Understanding the Hoax of the Century 

[Tablet, via Naked Capitalism 4-11-2023]

Since 2016, the federal government has spent billions of dollars on turning the counter-disinformation complex into one of the most powerful forces in the modern world: a sprawling leviathan with tentacles reaching into both the public and private sector, which the government uses to direct a “whole of society” effort that aims to seize total control over the internet and achieve nothing less than the eradication of human error.

Step one in the national mobilization to defeat disinfo fused the U.S. national security infrastructure with the social media platforms, where the war was being fought. The government’s lead counter-disinformation agency, the GEC, declared that its mission entailed “seeking out and engaging the best talent within the technology sector.” To that end, the government started deputizing tech executives as de facto wartime information commissars.

At companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Amazon, the upper management levels had always included veterans of the national security establishment. But with the new alliance between U.S. national security and social media, the former spooks and intelligence agency officials grew into a dominant bloc inside those companies; what had been a career ladder by which people stepped up from their government experience to reach private tech-sector jobs turned into an ouroboros that molded the two together. With the D.C.-Silicon Valley fusion, the federal bureaucracies could rely on informal social connections to push their agenda inside the tech companies.

In the fall of 2017, the FBI opened its Foreign Influence Task Force for the express purpose of monitoring social media to flag accounts trying to “discredit U.S. individuals and institutions.” The Department of Homeland Security took on a similar role.

At around the same time, Hamilton 68 blew up. Publicly, Twitter’s algorithms turned the Russian-influence-exposing “dashboard” into a major news story. Behind the scenes, Twitter executives quickly figured out that it was a scam. When Twitter reverse-engineered the secret list, it found, according to the journalist Matt Taibbi, that “instead of tracking how Russia influenced American attitudes, Hamilton 68 simply collected a handful of mostly real, mostly American accounts and described their organic conversations as Russian scheming.” The discovery prompted Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, to suggest in an October 2017 email that the company take action to expose the hoax and “call this out on the bullshit it is.”

In the end, neither Roth nor anyone else said a word. Instead, they let a purveyor of industrial-grade bullshit—the old-fashioned term for disinformation—continue dumping its contents directly into the news stream.

The Dirty Secrets of a Smear Campaign

[New Yorker, via The Big Picture 4-9-2023]

Rumors destroyed Hazim Nada’s company. Then hackers handed him terabytes of files exposing a covert campaign against him—and the culprit wasn’t a rival but an entire country….

Hazim assumed that a competitor had planted the item. But soon other wild allegations began appearing—too many to be chalked up to industry chatter. On January 5, 2018, Sylvain Besson, a journalist who had written a book purporting to tie Youssef Nada to a supposed Islamist conspiracy, published an article, in the Geneva newspaper Le Temps, claiming that Lord Energy was a cover for a Muslim Brotherhood cell. “The children of the historical leaders of the organization have recycled themselves in oil and gas,” Besson wrote. A new item in Africa Intelligence hinted darkly that Lord Energy employees had “been active in the political-religious sphere.” Headlines sprang up on Web sites, such as Medium, that had little editorial oversight: “Lord Energy: The Mysterious Company Linking Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood”; “Compliance: Muslim Brotherhood Trading Company Lord Energy Linked to Crédit Suisse.” A Wikipedia entry for Lord Energy suddenly included descriptions of alleged ties to terrorism.

Six months after the first Africa Intelligence item, World-Check, a database that banks rely on to vet customers, listed both Hazim and Lord Energy under the risk category “Terrorism.” Five financial institutions walked away from negotiations with Nada. UBS cancelled his personal checking account—and his mother’s, too.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the ruler of the United Arab Emirates, paid a Swiss private intelligence firm millions of dollars to taint perceived enemies. Many countries now outsource intelligence operations to Western companies….

Sheikh Mohammed, often referred to by the initials M.B.Z., was arguably the richest person in the world, thanks to his control of vast sovereign wealth funds. He commanded the Arab world’s most effective military, and paid large sums to lobbyists, think tanks, and former government officials to maximize his influence in the West. And, since the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, M.B.Z. had led a campaign across the Middle East to restore and fortify authoritarian order in the region. “M.B.Z.’s picture flashed before my eyes,” Nada told me. “An oil trader just wants you out of a territory. But this was someone with the resources of a state.”

A Front Company and a Fake Identity: How the U.S. Came to Use Spyware It Was Trying to Kill.

[New York Times, via The Big Picture 4-9-2023]

The Biden administration has been trying to choke off use of hacking tools made by the Israeli firm NSO. It turns out that not every part of the government has gotten the message.

The U.S. Cracked a $3.4 Billion Crypto Heist—and Bitcoin’s Anonymity

[Wall Street Journal, via The Big Picture 4-13-2023]

“Federal authorities have pierced the veil of blockchain transactions. Investigators can now identify supposedly anonymous wallet addresses associated with terrorists, drug traffickers, money launderers & cybercriminals.”

Democrats’ political malpractice

“AOC: The Biden Administration’s Rightward Turn Is ‘a Profound Miscalculation’” (interview) 

[AOC, Jacobin, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 4-11-2023]

AOC: “What this is about is building a very sophisticated infrastructure in the progressive movement that focuses on field operations and professionalizing how we can share that across the movement, because far too many campaigns start from scratch. That’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot and working on. I have a PAC, Courage to Change, that focuses on down-ballot elections and supporting progressives who are in that boat where they aren’t able to tap into these high-net-worth fundraising circles to build a super-well-funded campaign. We are starting to see more people win while being outspentIt needs to be down to blocks. You need to know your path to victory. This can’t just be a “post and pray” approach. We need to know what we are doing, and thankfully, I think that there’s been a lot of progress in that in that respect. But it is something that must be an ongoing commitment and project.” • “It needs to be down to blocks” is something I like, technically. That’s why I liked the Fetterman campaign: “Every county, every vote.” But on policy, what a disappointment AOC was; all that intelligence and verve, wasted in kowtowing to Pelosi. Since Democrats can’t go block to block on delivering anything but crumbs, that leaves the empty calories of tribalism. No thanks.

The Feinstein Affair: Senate Gerontocracy Reaches Absurd Heights

David Dayen, April 14, 2023 [The American Prospect]

Old senators, old rules, and old traditions all are cutting against what should be a simple task of confirming judges….

The cleanest way to solve this impending issue is for Dianne Feinstein, who may never come back to Washington again, to retire. Republicans will make the argument that Democrats are changing the rules midstream to get their activist judges onto the federal bench (although activism on the bench is a topic they should raise somewhat gingerly; see: Kacsmaryk). But if Feinstein retires, and her replacement is the one seeking the slot on Judiciary, that argument becomes far less potent. Republicans don’t want to be in the position of having their incoming senators denied committee slots; Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-NE), who replaced Ben Sasse earlier this year, got committees through a pro forma resolution passed with unanimous consent….

But the problem lies not with Feinstein alone. Senate Judiciary Committee chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) continues to give Republicans a veto on district court nominees in their home states through the “blue slip” procedure. Invoking this procedure, Republican senators Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) have rejected Biden judicial nominees already, and Republicans will surely do it again whether there’s a full Judiciary Committee or not. Durbin cannot possibly moan about Feinstein’s absence tying Democratic hands on the committee, as he has done, and not address the handcuffs he’s put on himself by honoring an outdated tradition.

The (Anti)Federalist Society Infestation of the Courts

The Thomas-Crow Affair: Daylight in the Garden of Evil 

John Ganz, April 10, 2023 [Unpopular Front]

Collecting sculptures of dictators and Nazi knick-knacks reveals more than bad taste, which, unfortunately, still cannot be counted as a crime. It is downright creepy. The reason it is creepy is that it shows an unwholesome fascination with power and domination. Crow might earnestly think he is buying this stuff to provide some kind of object lesson about the perils of tyranny, but there is an unavoidable suggestion of idolatry and vulgar power-worship just under the surface. The reason such objects would be impressive and interesting to a person like this and to his guests is that they are almost occult talismans: they are fetish objects, redolent of the power of evil. A certain hocus-pocus attaches to these things that says, “I am competent to handle and own these objects, because I am one of the rulers.” It’s similar to the attitude revealed by Crow’s membership in secret societies like the Bohemian Club: pretensions to membership in the world’s hidden elite.

The belief that by privately owning these objects, rather than giving them to a museum or archive, one is somehow helping the world is pretty dubious. He clearly feels the need to hold these baubles close to his breast. Such are the peccadilloes of the ruling classes: like cult practices, they are both a little bit silly and a little bit sinister.

The other notable and even quite funny thing is the total consensus among conservatives in publicly defending Crow. I haven’t seen them this together on anything since the Kavanaugh hearings. They clearly know who butters their bread. Marco Rubio held a fundraiser at the Crow mansion and now is dutifully returning the favor with stentorian defenses of his patron. Members of the right-wing intelligentsia, surely not all of whom can be direct beneficiaries of Crow, are mounting the barricades for this magnate. Whatever notions they have of their own little missions and independence, these intellectuals know when their real masters are in need, they must come running. The entire movement and party exists to do the political work of this class. Harlan Crow is a member of the regional, closely-held, and family business fraction of capital that has long been the central constituency of the G.O.P. These are the DeVoses, the Uihleins, the Mercers, the Kochs, the Kohlers, the Millikens, and, the Crows, of the world. Justice Thomas, of course, attacks all the things that bedevil these oligarchs, most especially labor unions and federal regulations.

[TW: The degeneration of the rich is much the same as the degeneration of a monarch.

Even when a prince was virtuous and began by desiring nothing more than the power allowed him by law, he was subject to greater temptations to invade the liberty of his subjects than human nature could be expected to withstand. “The strength of his own affections,” [Algernon] Sydney declared, “will ever be against him. Wives, children, and servants will always join with those enemies that arise in his own breast to pervert him; if he has any weak side, any lust unsubdued, they will gain the victory. He has not searched into the nature of man, who thinks that anyone can resist when he is thus on all sides assaulted.”26  Monarchy, in short, by the very constitution of human nature, tended always to degenerate into tyranny. It was a defective form of government because in the most important place of all it was lacking in those adequate restraints on the defects of human nature which all the classical republicans saw as an essential of any well-contrived government.

— Zera S. Fink, The Classical Republicans: An Essay in the Recovery of a Pattern of Thought in Seventeenth Century England (Evanston, Northwestern University , 1945, p 153.

This is why the rich have always been, and always will be, incompatible with self-governing republics. But the shift from civic republicanism to liberalism makes it nearly impossible to oppose the rich in the proper terms of civic republicanism as a philosophy of government. An excellent example of how liberalism cripples the ability to consider the rich as an internal threat, is “In Search of a New Political Economy,” by Daron Acemoglu on Project Syndicate, April 7, 2023. Modern social science is uncovering the mechanisms of this disability:

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 4-11-2023]  The Solomon Asch social conformity experiment:

Clarence Thomas and the Billionaire

[ProPublica, via The Big Picture 4-9-2023]

For over 20 years, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been treated to luxury vacations by billionaire Republican donor Harlan Crow. He goes on cruises in far-flung locales on Crow’s yacht, flies on his private jet, and keeps company with Crow’s powerful friends at the billionaire’s private resort. The extent of Crow’s largesse has never been revealed. Until now.

The Paid Pundits Defending Clarence Thomas And His Billionaire Benefactor

Andrew Perez, April 11, 2023 [The Lever]

Right-wing pundits rushed to defend Harlan Crow’s gifts to Clarence Thomas and his Nazi memorabilia collection — without disclosing their ties to the mega-donor.

“If You’re Getting a W-2, You’re a Sucker” 

[ProPublica, via The Big Picture 4-9-2023]

There are many differences between the rich and the rest of us, but one of the most consequential for your taxes is whether most of your income comes from wages.

Clarence Thomas’s brazen violation of ethics rules, briefly explained

[Vox, via The Big Picture 4-9-2023]

By allegedly accepting luxury trips from a Republican megadonor — and not disclosing them — Thomas may have run afoul of federal ethics law.

Thomas Pushed To Kill Disclosure Laws While Getting Secret Billionaire Gifts

David Sirota & Julia Rock, April 12, 2023 [The Lever]

“This court should invalidate mandatory disclosure and reporting requirements,” wrote Clarence Thomas, who did not disclose years of gifts from a billionaire….

In 2010, the Supreme Court issued its notorious Citizens United ruling, declaring that “independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption” — and therefore could be made limitlessly.

But that ruling, which unleashed billions of dollars in dark money election spending, did not go far enough for Thomas, who had previously insisted that there exists an “established right to anonymous speech.” He supported the Citizens United majority ruling, but issued a concurring opinion insisting that judges should overturn all rules that require transparency in political spending.

Billionaire Harlan Crow Bought Property From Clarence Thomas. The Justice Didn’t Disclose the Deal. 

[ProPublica, via Naked Capitalism 4-14-2023]

Clarence Thomas Broke the Law and It Isn’t Even Close

[Slate, via The Big Picture 4-9-2023]

[TW: The Democrats should be loud, insistent, and strident in their demands to investigate and pillory Thomas and force him to resign. They need to stop being nice, and study how Richard Nixon and his pack of rat-fuckers manufactured a scandal to force Abe Fortas off the Supreme Court in May 1969. ]

The Corrupted Federal Judiciary

[Talking Points Memo, via The Big Picture 4-11-2023]

There are few better examples of the right-wing corruption of the federal judiciary than what happened yesterday down in Amarillo, Texas, when federal trial court “stayed” FDA approval of the abortion drug mifepristone. Mifepristone was approved for use in the U.S. 20 years ago. There’s no serious or substantial question whether mifepristone is safe and effective for the purpose of inducing an abortion.

Pharma Cash Built the Conservative Court Majority That Now Harms Pharma 

David Dayen, April 12, 2023 [The American Prospect]

Drug industry CEOs angrily dispute Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s ruling on mifepristone. But they spent millions on the Senate Republicans who confirmed him.

Conservative / Libertarian Drive to Civil War

The Wonderful Death of a State

[The Baffler, via Mike Norman Economics, April 14, 2023] On Murray Rothbard.

In the United States, two groups formed an alliance in response to this moment of geopolitical churn: market radicals seeking passage to a capitalist polity beyond democracy and neo-Confederates seeking to resurrect the Old South. They wove together principles of decentralized capitalist competition and racial homogeneity and dreamed of Bantustans of choice—Grand Apartheid from below. Though their immediate goal failed, their vision of laissez-faire segregation lived on. For them, secession was the path to a world that was socially divided but economically integrated—separate but global.

The most important figure in the secessionist alliance was Murray Rothbard. Born in the Bronx in 1926, he came up through the world of neoliberal think tanks, becoming a member of the Mont Pelerin Society in the 1950s. Throughout his career, he developed a particularly radical version of libertarianism known as anarcho-capitalism. He had no tolerance for government of any kind, seeing states as “organized banditry” and taxation as “theft on a gigantic, and unchecked, scale.” In his ideal world, government would be eliminated altogether. Security, utilities, infrastructure, health care: all would be bought through the market with no safety net for those unable to pay. Contracts would replace constitutions, and people would cease to be citizens of any place, only clients of a range of service providers. These would be anti-republics, private ownership and exchange displacing any trace of popular sovereignty.

How to arrive at such an extreme destination? Although the idea of national self-determination was the basis of the modern state system he wanted to escape, he thought a radicalization of national self-determination might provide the means of exit. Accelerating the principle of secession would spark a chain reaction of disintegration. Most new polities would not be anarcho-capitalist, but the process of breakup would strip the state of its most precious asset—its impression of permanence. Creating new flags and new countries eroded the legitimacy of old ones and chipped away at their self-serving mythologies. If new territories avoided being crushed by the vengeful central government, they would take on different shapes and forms. What if some opted for his preferred mode of statelessness? “The more states the world is fragmented into,” Rothbard wrote, “the less power any one state can build up.” It was a first principle for him that secession movements should be celebrated and supported “wherever and however they may arise.” Crack-up was the flywheel of human progress….

What was needed, he thought, was a countermovement—a revolt against human equality. After helping found the Cato Institute with Charles Koch in 1976, he aided with the launch of a new think tank in the Deep South in 1982: the Ludwig von Mises Institute for Austrian Economics in Auburn, Alabama, named after Friedrich Hayek’s mentor, the Austrian economist whose seminars Rothbard had attended in New York from 1949 to 1959.

Although Mises was no anarcho-capitalist himself, the institute which took his name became the flagship think tank for the most radical strain of libertarianism. Its distance from the Beltway signified its rejection of the politics of lobbying used by more mainstream groups like Cato and the Heritage Foundation. Instead, it pushed more politically marginal positions like the virtues of secession, the need for a return to the gold standard, and opposition to racial integration. Its director was Rothbard’s kindred spirit and closest collaborator, Llewellyn “Lew” Rockwell Jr., both a radical libertarian and an advocate of racial separatism ever since his first position at the conservative publisher Arlington House (named, with little subtlety, after the last residence of Confederate general Robert E. Lee). As an editor, Rockwell commissioned books on the disastrous effects of desegregation and the betrayal of white politics in southern Africa, published alongside David Friedman’s Machinery of Freedom and panic-mongering bestsellers like How to Profit from the Coming Devaluation. One book Rockwell pitched to the communist-cum-IQ-race-scientist Nathaniel Weyl was called Integration: The Dream that Failed; Rockwell’s personal opinion was that the only option was a “de facto segregation for the majority of both races.”

Like Rothbard, Rockwell combined extreme laissez-faire politics with a fixation on race. In 1986, he began editing the investment newsletter of the politician and coin dealer Ron Paul, which trafficked in similar themes. The newsletters were lucrative—subscriptions brought in close to $1 million a year in revenue. A kind of IKEA catalog for the coming race war, the newsletter—which changed its name to the Ron Paul Survival Report in 1992—riffed on current events and listed books and services on how to bury your belongings, convert your wealth into gold or stash it overseas, turn your home into a fortress, and defend your family. “Be prepared,” it read. “If you live anywhere near a big city with a substantial black population, both husband and wife need a gun and training in it.”

[TW: A major source of frustration for me over the past decade and a half has been my inability to fully understand and clearly explain that there is a coherent ideology of political economy that unites market fundamentalists with neo-confederates. I now believe that I more fully understand this issue thanks to my reading of civic republicanism. Now, to work on elaborating a clear explanation…. ]

GOP advances bills that could let it throw out future election results in Texas’ largest blue county

Stephen Wolf, April 14, 2023 [Daily Kos]

…One of the GOP’s bills, first reported by Talking Points Memo, would empower Republican Secretary of State Jane Nelson to invalidate a county’s election results and order a do-over if she “has good cause to believe”—not necessarily hard proof—that at least 2% of the county’s polling places “ran out of usable ballots during voting hours” and “did not receive supplemental ballots.” This vaguely worded provision would, as one voting rights advocate put, set “really low thresholds” for overturning election results.

What makes this proposal so egregious is that the bill’s very own text says it only applies to counties with a population of 2.7 million or more. Why such an oddly specific number? Texas’ second-biggest county, Dallas, has a population of 2.6 million, according to the most recent Census Bureau estimates. The law would therefore cover Harris County and only Harris County….

Republicans have also advanced another bill that would let the secretary of state suspend and replace election administrators in counties such as Harris, which in recent years switched from having a partisan elected official oversee its elections to handing those duties to an appointed, nonpartisan administrator. Yet another measure would undo that reform outright by abolishing appointed administrators in counties of 3.5 million people or more—again meaning only Harris County—and transferring their duties to the elected clerk and tax assessor (though in Harris, both of those officials are currently Democrats).

These ongoing Republican attacks on Harris County’s elections aren’t an isolated development related to its 2022 results. In March, state officials announced their intention to take over the school district in Houston and appoint a new school board thanks to a law allowing such takeovers if even just a single school has a record of underperformance—precisely the case here.

Hounded by baseless voter fraud allegations, an entire county’s election staff quits in Virginia  

[NBC, via Naked Capitalism 4-11-2023]

The Republican Strategists Who Have Carefully Planned All of This 

Must-Read: The Republican long march to overthrow democracy is nearing the end stage

xaxnar, April 13, 2023 [Daily Kos]

Theda Skocpol, a professor of political science and sociology at Harvard, contended that many of the developments in states controlled by Republicans are a result of careful, long-term planning by conservative strategists, particularly those in the Federalist Society, who are developing tools to build what she called “minority authoritarianism” within the context of a nominally democratic system of government.

Skocpol outlined her thinking in an email:

The first-movers who figured out how to configure this new “laboratory of democratic constriction” were legal eagles in the Federalist Society and beyond, because the key structural dynamic in the current G.O.P. gallop toward minority authoritarianism is the mutual interlock between post-2010 Republican control, often supermajority control, of dozens of state legislatures and the SCOTUS decision in 2019 to allow even the most extreme and bizarre forms of partisan gerrymandering.

These organized, richly resourced actors, she wrote,

have figured out how to rig the current U.S. system of federalism and divided branches, given generational and geographic realities on the ground, and the in many ways fluky 2016 presidential election gave them what they needed to put the interlock in place. They are stoking and using the fears and resentments of about half or so of the G.O.P. popular base to undo American democracy and enhance their own power and privileges. They are doing it because they can, and they believe in what they are doing. They are America’s G.O.P. Leninists.

Skocpol did not pull her punches:

This situation, locked in place by a corruptly installed Supreme Court majority and by many rotten-borough judicial districts like the one in Amarillo, means that minority authoritarians, behind a bare facade of “constitutionalism,” can render majority-elected officials, including the president and many governors, officials in name only. The great thing from the minority authoritarian point of view is that those visible chief executives (and urban mayors and district attorneys) can still be blamed for government nonfunction and societal problems, but they cannot address them with even broadly supported measures (such as simple background checks for having military assault weapons).

Dark money groups push election denialism on US state officials

[The Guardian, via The Big Picture 4-9-2023]

The “Powell Memo” and the Supreme Court: A counteroffensive against the many

[Liberation School, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 4-13-2023]

“In hindsight, the private memorandum Lewis F. Powell Jr. sent to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on August 23, 1971—known as the ‘Powell Memo’—in many ways represents the inaugural moment in this counteroffensive. Titled, ‘Attack on American Free Enterprise System,’ the Memo clearly expressed the sharpness of the class struggle at that time and encapsulated the capitalist class’ fear that they were losing the battles of ideas and the world. It undoubtedly laid the groundwork for some key components of U.S. imperialism’s new offensive against the global revolutionary upsurge that characterized the immediate post-World War II environment, an offensive that is still with us today. Understanding the background, context, and content of the Memo helps us get a sense of the right-wing counteroffensive against domestic people’s movements. Powell eventually entered the Supreme Court and helped usher in a wave of reactionary rulings against the people and for corporate profits. Thus, while the exact impacts of the Memo are hard to ascertain, they eventually made their way into the law books, attacking affirmative action and establishing a theory of corporate speech and ‘personhood.’ More immediately, after the Memo’s circulation, the Chamber of Commerce ‘expanded its base from around 60,000 firms in 1972 to over a quarter of a million ten years later,’ spending almost $1 billion annually to promote their interests.” • A billion was real money back then. Yves has a chapter on the Powell Memo in Econned.

Before he murdered a protester, Daniel Perry did his research on what counts as murder

Laura Clawson, April 14, 2023 [Daily Kos]

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is planning to pardon Daniel Perry, the man convicted of murder for killing a Black Lives Matter protester at a rally in Austin in July 2020. Abbott is citing a “Stand Your Ground” law after Perry ran a red light and accelerated his car onto a street filled with protesters, then shot Garrett Foster, a protester who approached the car while openly carrying an AK-47. That Abbott wants to make Perry into cause celebre given the bare facts of the case is bad enough, but on Thursday, the Houston Chronicle released a 76-page filing by Travis County prosecutors that should really make Abbott think again, but probably won’t.

The filing includes page after page of social media posts and private messages filled with racism, violent imagery, and, tellingly, a strong preoccupation with exactly what counts as murder when it comes to killing protesters. The man did research on what he might be able to get away with—a search for “degrees of murder charges,” web history looking at Wikipedia on murder in United States law, a status posted about the distinctions between different degrees of murder and manslaughter, discussions of people who drove into crowds of protesters. Daniel Perry didn’t just happen to drive onto a street with protesters and then shoot and kill one of them. This was something he’d thought about a lot.

In the DailKos thread, Dartagnan posted this comment:

From Wikipedia:

On the night of 9 August 1932, five uniformed Nazi Stormtroopers (Sturmabteilung) burst into the apartment of Konrad Pietrzuch, a Communist miner and trade unionist, in the Upper Silesian village of Potempa (now part of the rural community of Krupski Młyn in Poland) and beat him to death in the presence of his mother. The five murderers did nothing to disguise themselves during the attack and they were quickly arrested. After a well-publicized trial in Beuthen (now Bytom, Poland), they were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Hitler, along with other senior Nazis, was furious not only with the verdict but also with the sentence. While the five murderers were in jail, he sent them a telegram: “My comrades! I am bound to you in unlimited loyalty in the face of this most hideous blood sentence. You have my picture hanging in your cells. How could I forsake you? Anyone who struggles, lives, fights, and, if need be, dies for Germany has the right on his side.”


On 21 March 1934, the Nazi government introduced legislation that granted amnesty to anyone in prison who had committed a crime “for the good of the Reich during the Weimar Republic”. All five murderers were released from prison that same month.

(Anti)Republican Party

Republicans’ Self-Inflicted Budget Impasse

Ryan Cooper, April 13, 2023 [The American Prospect]

House Republicans are in a fix. They had a simple, devious plan: take the debt limit hostage, and institute massive changes to the federal budget. But they cannot agree on either the list of demands for the former, or the specific budget changes they want for the latter. The New York Times reports that, with deadlines approaching, the party caucus can’t even decide on whether or not to balance the budget, much less the specific ways to get there. The newest demand is that the country be put “on a path towards” a balanced budget, an approximately meaningless phrase. Axios reports that this has strengthened Democrats’ decision to play hardball: demanding a clean debt limit increase and no negotiations on the budget until Republicans can present their own offer….

One aspect of this story is the utter intellectual debasement of the conservative movement. Its policy apparatus used to be dominated by Ayn Rand acolytes like former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who advanced a nakedly plutocratic agenda of welfare and social insurance cuts, deregulation, and tax cuts for the rich. His plans as written relied on ludicrous “magic asterisk” assumptions to get acceptable budget numbers. But at least there was a discernible program there: hand money to the rich by cutting social programs and blowing up the deficit.

Donald Trump proved there was basically no organic appetite for this agenda in the conservative base, when he won the 2016 Republican primary promising to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Ryan eventually snuck out of town.

Dramatic realignment swings working-class districts toward GOP

[Axios, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 4-13-2023]

“Nine of the top 10 wealthiest congressional districts are represented by Democrats, while Republicans now represent most of the poorer half of the country, according to median income data provided by Rep. Marcy Kaptur’s (D-Ohio) office. The last several decades have ushered in a dramatic political realignment, as the GOP has broadened its appeal to a more diverse working class and Democrats have become the party of wealthier, more-educated voters. ‘Republicans were the party of the country club, and they’re increasingly the party of country,’ lobbyist and political analyst Bruce Mehlman told Axios. ‘We have seen an inversion of Democrat and Republican shares of the highest- and lowest-income districts — and the highest and lowest college degree-holding districts,’ Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman told Axios. 64% of congressional districts with median incomes below the national median are now represented by Republicans — a shift in historical party demographics, the data shows.” • Handy chart:


Open Thread


The Teixeira Documents Are Being Kept Secret By Media


  1. Willy

    Regarding Seymour Hersch… how do we know he hasn’t just gone mad?

    I mean, don’t we readers need to know the specifics about how Ukraine is buying Russian oil, such as why Putin is allowing this to happen and how this oil gets to Ukraine? I’d also need to know how “ten” Kiev top officials would be able to “brazenly brag” and openly display their skimming of millions in Ukrainian military aid money and well-armed Ukrainian soldiers just let them get away with it. Inquiring minds need to know.

  2. DMC

    The von Mises Society is the very crux of where the reactionary libertarian right joins forces with the most extreme brand of Dominionism, namely Christian Reconstructionism. Its the paradox of Ron & Rand Paul in a nutshell. Gary North, a prominent Calvinist theologian( and son-in-law of RJ Rushdoony himself) was a notable voice associated with the society. These guys take Calvinistic predestination to ABSURD lengths, that justify the mass murder of anyone not sufficiently conforming to their notions of a “Biblically based society”. Read up on this if you think I’m exaggerating even a bit. Also have a look under “7 Mountains theology”, for how they plan to take control. They’re remarkably up front about it. And I hope you like a good tale of horror, because if you’ got the sense to pour piss out of a boot, then this will give a scare. Also, too have a look at the Work of Jeff Sharlett, who’s been tracking the elite versions of extreme Xtian Nationalism.

  3. different clue

    Willy raises a real question. How are we to know that any of this is true? And every other question Willy raises is a good one too.

    In theory, I can see why the RussiaGov would want to sell some diesel fuel to Ukraine. It keeps Ukraine fighting, which gives Russia more time to pursue its slow steady attritional grind-down of Ukrainian forces and economy and society. And it gives NATO members more time to bleed their military stockpiles closer to zero by stripping inventory out of storage and stockpilage and sending it all to be spent down to zero in Ukraine.

    And the Ukranormal majority is ruled by a Ukranazi minority which is probably a Death Cult which probably wants to kill every Ukrainian gloriously rather than see any sort of compromise truce with Russia which would involve the Ukranazi government losing its monopoly of power within functional Ukrainian borders.

    Still, as Willy says, ” inquiring minds want to know”.

  4. different clue

    @Tony Wikrent,

    You make a good case from multiple piles of evidence that the Republican Party is the greater threat to self government and the Democratic Party is the lesser threat to self government which is tagging along after the Republican Party. But the Republican Party is the greater threat.

    It is just too bad that Lambert Strether over at Naked Capitalism has decided that the Democrat Party is his White Whale and that he will be the Democrat Party’s Captain Ahab. This leads him into a position of ill disguised admiration for the Republicans and come-and-go support of them and excuse-making for them. Where the Democrat Party is concerned, Lambert Strether doesn’t have time to think, he only has time to feel feel feel. As do many of the readers over there. I would not be surprised if they advocate voting for Trump or DeSantis or whomever the Republican PrezNom turns out to be in order to get revenge on their behated Democrats.

  5. howie

    different clue – as a long time Naked Capitalism reader – you may be on to something about Lambert Strether – and I’m getting that overall vibe I’m from their site too. The loyal daily readers seem to be playing along with this in their comments. I’ve read compliments for Tucker Carlson, and also for Trump’s generosity: giving a job to an employee’s son at Trump Tower. I’ve also read Yves Smith’s ‘eye witness’ accounting of the mildness of the January 6 protest.
    I find myself wincing – and I find myself visiting that blog less often

  6. anon y'mouse

    the glibertarian spongiform dittohead tech bros will very likely (have already) joined forces with your Repub Dominionist free market fundamentalists, and they are generally associated with the DimCrap side since they are “information” workers.

    there aren’t sides except for the public spats that occur to keep the Punch & Jude show going. notice how they join together to vote for nearly every bad idea that business wants to put forward. the Dems are just lazier about their social issue stuff. if it involves anything other than wearing certain colors or patterns and using the “correct” pronouns and words, they don’t have the stamina.

    as for this Civic Republicanism, it still seems to me to be a rich man’s justification for why he gets to run the government here in the US. so same thing as the “woke” trying to relegitimize capitalist relations under a kinder, gentler (but useless) face.

    Hamilton was an elitist and so were all of them at the convention. of course they would write copious amounts at length about why that was for “the good of” everyone else. while they ensured they would get rich off westward expansion, run out on their bills to the military that had won them the revolution, etc.

    “theories of governance” matter very little when the rubber meets the road. it doesn’t matter which theories you use when corruption from top to bottom is the problem, does it? and yes, i understand a bit that you are trying to get at the root of “rooting out” corruption but i don’t see that as possible as long as the governance is a class based one of ownership and status markers, as it has been since humans decided to stop moving around and start collecting land and possessions.

  7. Ché Pasa

    “Civic Republicanism” on the Hamiltonian model and ideal doesn’t exist anywhere, and as far as I know, it never has. It’s a class-based model? Of course it is, and it is justification for those with abundant leisure time, thanks to their enslaved or nearly enslaved workers in the case of the Founders, to serve as Rulers. The problem is that the kind of engagement that’s necessary for the civic republican ideal is only possible for don’t have to spend most of their time toiling away — and who believe sincerely in the terms of governance and can act on those beliefs. The only ones who are able to are, unsurprisingly, are the best off among us, and unsurprisingly, they don’t believe in anything like civic republicanism. Thus Tony would have them barred from rule or even it seems participation in governance at all. Good luck with that.

    Everyone has their own reasons to hate Democrats. As I understand Lambert’s stories of rage, he was fired from his IT position by the Maine Democratic Party after he “lost faith” in the merits of the Party and its interest in serving the working class. He’s carried a grudge ever since and apparently has vowed to destroy the Democrat (sic) Party one way or another, and one way is through what he does with NC. And yes, it is objectively pro-R and pro-Trump (or whomever). Especially if they are accelerationists like Trump and many of his circle. What comes after The Collapse they long for is not their problem. I guess.

    Our warmongering sclerotic elites and those that serve and follow them aren’t doing such a bad job of bringing on The Collapse themselves, Dem or R or somewhere in between. I just wish there were something more we normal people could do to assure a better future for ourselves than Our Rulers have planned (and unplanned) for us. Yanno?

  8. Swamp Yankee

    Objections to corruption are, believe it or not, specifically civic republican in origin. You see this in various texts that were critical in the 18th c. Atlantic world, thing’s like “Cato’s Letters” and Addison and Steele’s “Spectator.” The use of public things for private gain being wrong _is in itself_ a republican (small “r”) objection.

    And yes, I agree with voices above re: Naked Capitalism. I find myself in general agreement with Different Clue and howie above. The site remains valuable, but the amount of genuinely mistaking the forest for the trees — yes, the Dems suck; and yes, the GOP is worse — makes me quite … I don’t even know what word to use.

    Part of it I wonder is to what extent Lambert and Yves really deal with hardcore Trumpists. They are not pleasant. But people who only deal with annoying PMC class liberals forget this, at their peril, in my view.

    The Jan. 6th thing was basically a deal-breaker for me. There is no way hard right mobs — and I don’t care that their putsch plan was abortive and poorly thought out , it’s still seizing the national legislature! — ransacking the Capitol is not a big and bad deal. It is a very, very big deal, and it is very bad. I deeply opposed Russia-gate, it’s simply not in the same category; Hillary’s annoying PMC stans didn’t storm the Capitol. Period, full stop. Hamilton 68 isn’t the same as wanting to lynch the Vice President and driving the legislature from its seat.

    The DeSantis stanning over there is getting genuinely weird, as are the increasing Men’s Rights dudes in the comments section. DeSantis is awful. MRA guys are likewise.

    I don’t know. I have great regard and appreciation for that site, but I visit it less and less.

  9. VietnamVet

    As of this moment we are still here. The earth, gravity, light and darkness remain the same for the naked apes that talks. Education, healthcare, policing, and war continue but are privatized to enrich the wealthy. “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” WWI remains the template for the proxy WWIII in Ukraine that will destroy Empires before it ends. But with nuclear ICBMs on high alert, the conflict has the potential to destroy the Earth and verify Fermi’s Paradox of why no sentient aliens have been found in the universe.

    OG’s leaks are very likely the US intelligence reports as of around March 1st 2023. Anything released after copies made it to Minecraft and 4CHAN chat rooms are part of the PSYOPs to mitigate adverse effects. Nevertheless, they document the inner conflict between US government agencies and a White House detached from reality.

    Basically Ukraine retaking Crimea is impossible. Russia will use tactical nuclear weapons rather than lose it again. Anyone who says it is possible, e.g. Secretary Antony Blinken, is certified crazy. On the other side, Russia will have to kill or maim every Ukraine male between 16 and 60 to take Odessa and let Poland, Romania, Hungary and Poland split up the rest. A neoliberal privatized Russia cannot do this anymore than the plutocrat run America can win its wars. Russia must mobilize and use all the wealth, manpower and resources it has to win.

    The crux of the problem is finding a peaceful way to restore functioning democratic republics in the West that put its citizens first. The Propaganda and Surveillance works well enough that nothing will occur except COVID rage, lone wolf attacks until there are obvious failures beyond the collapsing health/education systems and energy cost inflation. The loss of jobs, gasoline lines, electrical blackouts, and food shortages will trigger unrest. However, there is no Left left. Having an alternative blinds some to the reality that Radical Republicans care even less about Americans than the Woke Movement that doesn’t give a damn for underclass workers. Without good governance, most likely, the West will split apart into ethnic enclaves attached to the nearest nuclear armed military base.

    This summer is about the last chance before things go too far. The only way to avoid the destruction and bring peace to Europe is a UN Armistice and a DMZ on the line of contact separating Ukraine and Russia. The West must learn to live within its means and to cooperate.

  10. different clue


    I still find a lot of value over at NaCap and I still read it. And I read the ads too, sometimes, so that they can make some money selling adspace.

    That said, I was banned there long ago. I have learned that the NaCap owners have certain sacred cows which must never be criticised. Criticising them will get you banned. MMT is one of those ( as Hugh learned long ago). And there are some semi-sacred cows which too much criticism or criticism in language too harsh will get you banned. One of those semi-sacred cows is that the Christianazi Satanofascist militants are not worse either politically or as people than the PMC liberals. And if you say they are, either enough times or strongly enough, you will get banned.

    Well . . . NaCap is a business. And they have a business to run. And any style of commenter who leads the NaCappers to fear that the commenter in question will repel more readers than it attracts . . . will be banned. Preventing any rogue commenter from making the site ” look bad” is a major business priority there. So if you get banned over there, “this ain’t personal, its business” . . . as the mafia soldier said to his target.

    So all that said . . . . if you have something to contribute to one of their secondary areas of concerned discussion, why not go over there and contribute it? Just don’t talk too tough about any of their several sacred or semi-sacred cows.

  11. different clue

    @ Ché Pasa,

    . . . ” I just wish there were something more we normal people could do to assure a better future for ourselves than Our Rulers have planned (and unplanned) for us. Yanno?” . . .

    Well, I think there may be, for groups of Normals here and there. A new name for it just occurred to me. Take the best of Kurt Saxon’s “Survivalism” and the best of Tony Wikrent’s “Civic Republicanism” and try starting and growing something to be called . . . . ” Civic Survivalism”.

    Groups of high-skilled Normals in different places finding eachother and crafting their own little Lifeboat Survival Mini-Economy Mini-Society Lifeboats. Remain fully dependent on the Mainstream Economy for fun, but learn to become isolated from the Mainstream Economy for brute survival within one’s own little Civic Survivalist Lifeboat.

    Its just an embryonic thought so far. But if anyone thinks it can be taken somewhere, feel free. And feel free to borrow the word Civic Survivalism for it, too.

  12. howie

    different clue : “So all that said . . . . if you have something to contribute to one of their secondary areas of concerned discussion, why not go over there and contribute it? Just don’t talk too tough about any of their several sacred or semi-sacred cows.”

    Naked Capitalism: – I do feel I’ve learned things from their links, and once in a while from the comment section.
    My case: I was never up on political science, or economics, until about 13 years ago, being shocked on how the wealthy mobile park land owners, in my city, were ganging up together to eliminate the rent control protections in the local law. They found ways to wipe those protections from the books – despite the local governments strong protests. (I was one of those residents affected.) Cold blooded businessmen – and their hired thugs – I mean dapper lawyers.
    Naked Capitalism does blog on such abuses, amongst many others. However, like you said, do not step on their ‘sacred cows’ or you just might be bullied off their site – or at least severely reprimanded.

  13. howie

    Sorry – left out a word in the sentence above – ‘home’ . I meant mobile ‘home’ park landowners. Though the term ‘mobile home’ is a misnomer – none of the mobile homes were ever mobile – the rent control law was not for RV parks.
    ‘Trailer Park’ is that a better term? sounds trashy. These ‘mobile home parks in Santa Cruz County were not too trashy – a few were rather nice. We enjoyed living in one of these parks. However, we did not own the land below our ‘trailer’ – and the park owner would not sell the park to the residents. (He seemed to enjoy lording it over all of us.)

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén