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

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – April 28 2024

by Tony Wikrent

Global power shift

Ukraine: A Guide For The Perplexed 

Aurelien, via Naked Capitalism 04-27-2024]


Gaza / Palestine / Israel

Naked Capitalism Links 04-21-2024, by Lambert Strether, has a series of X-tweets regarding the suppression of pro-Palestinian protests in USA, France, and other countries, the attempt to label protestors as anti-Semitic, and commentary about ties to intelligence agencies and suborning of police.

Israel’s defense minister calls for halting pro-Gaza protests at US universities 

[Anadolu Agency, via Naked Capitalism 04-25-2024]

Netanyahu Calls for Crackdown on Pro-Palestine Protesters in the US

Dave DeCamp [via Delphi Initiative, April 24, 2024]

Echoing President Biden, Netanyahu labeled the demonstrations ‘antisemitic’ by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday called for a crackdown on Americans protesting against Israel’s slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza at college campuses across the United States. “What’s happening in America’s college campuses is horrific. Antisemitic mobs have taken over

Israel’s Doom Loop for Our Democracy

Skip Kaltenheuse [via Thomas Neuburger, God’s Spies, April 26, 2024]

Would it go over if any other foreign country’s minions publicly announced they’d spend a hundred million dollars to defeat a handful of US Representatives who opposed ethnic cleansing? If they offered bribes of 20 million dollars to people to primary those they want removed?

Free Speech on the Ropes: Legislation to Revoke Not-for-Profit Status of Organizations that Support Palestine Protests Passes in House

[Naked Capitalism 04/26/2024]

[X-Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 04-27-2024]


[X-Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 04-23-2024]


Leaked USAID Document Concludes Israel Impeded Gaza Aid

Brett Wilkins, April 26, 2024 [CommonDreams]

Officials at the United States Agency for International Development concluded in a confidential memo to Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Israel is violating a White House directive by blocking humanitarian aid from entering the besieged Gaza Strip during its ongoing genocidal assault on the Palestinian enclave, according to a report published Friday.

Devex‘s Colum Lynch reported that the confidential communication—entitled Famine Inevitable, Changes Could Reduce But Not Stop Widespread Civilian Deaths—states that USAID “assesses the government of Israel (GOI) does not currently demonstrate necessary compliance” with a February 8 White House memo requiring the secretary of state to obtain assurances from governments receiving U.S. military aid that such assistance is used in compliance with human rights law.


My Dinner With Andreessen: Billionaires I have known: Part One of a three-part series

Rick Perlstein, April 24, 2024 [The American Prospect]

…It was 2017, and a YIMBY activist invited me to talk about my book Nixonland with his book club, which also happened to be Marc Andreessen’s book club. They offered a free flight and hotel… I was vaguely aware of Andreessen as the guy who invented the first web browser, a socially useful accomplishment by any measure and a story I had long kept in the back of my mind as an outstanding proof text that useful invention often flourishes best when government subsidizes it, socialism-style—given that Andreessen had created it while a student at a public institution, the University of Illinois. Then I boned up on what he was up to now, courtesy of a gargantuan 13,000-word profile from two years earlier in The New Yorker.

Andreessen, I learned, was “Tomorrow’s Advance Man.” He superintended the “newest and most unusual” venture capital firm on Menlo Park’s Sand Hill Road. He “seethes with beliefs” and is “afire to reorder life as we know it.” His enthusiasms included replacing money with cryptocurrency; replacing cooked food with a scheme called, yes, “Soylent,” and boosting the now-invisible Oculus virtual reality headset….

I had been told, via email, a little about the people I would meet: mostly fellow investment magnates ….

Another attendee seemed to see politics as a collection of engineering problems. He kept setting up strange thought experiments, which I did not understand. I recall thinking it was like talking to a creature visiting from another solar system that did not have humans in it. I later conveyed my recollection of this guy to an acquaintance who once taught history at Stanford. He noted a similarity to a student of his who insisted that all the age-old problems historians worried over would soon obviously be solved by better computers, and thus considered the entire humanistic enterprise faintly ridiculous.

I also remember I raised an objection to Silicon Valley’s fetish for “disruption” as the highest human value, noting that healthy societies also recognize the value of preserving core values and institutions, and feeling gaslit in return when the group came back heatedly that, no, Silicon Valley didn’t fetishize disruption at all….

The subject of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) came up. They rose up in thunderous hatred at her for blocking potential “innovation in the banking sector.” (She’ll make a similar cameo in Part Two of this series.) I suffered an epic case of l’esprit d’escalier at that.

I thought it was pretty much universally understood by then that the fetish for “innovation in the banking sector” was what collapsed the world economy in 2008. Had I not been stunned into silence, I could have quoted Paul Volcker that the last useful innovation in banking was the automatic teller machine, and pointed out that it was only by strangling “innovation in the banking sector” that (as Elizabeth Warren always points out) the New Deal ushered in the longest period of financial stability in American history, and the golden age of global capitalism to boot….

I KNEW FROM THE NEW YORKER THAT ANDREESSEN had grown up in an impoverished agricultural small town in Wisconsin, and despised it. But I certainly was not prepared for his vituperation on the subject. He made it clear that people who chose not to leave such places deserved whatever impoverishment, cultural and political neglect, and alienation they suffered.

It’s a libertarian commonplace, a version of their pinched vision of why the market and only the market is the truly legitimate response to oppressive conditions on the job: If you don’t like it, you can leave. If you don’t, what you suffer is your own fault….

And that’s when the man in the castle with the seven fireplaces said it.

“I’m glad there’s OxyContin and video games to keep those people quiet.”….

There is something very, very wrong with us, that our society affords so much power to people like this.

It’s Not Me, It’s You: Blaming the Public’s “Perception of the Economy”

Matt Taibbi, April 25, 2024

If you think you spent twenty years being ripped off while a generation of rent-seeking scam artists was showered with public subsidies, experts agree: your “perception” needs correcting….

Especially in the last two decades, the public has been served one financial “shit burger” after another (see today’s Q&A with Chris Irons a.k.a. Quoth the Raven for more). They’ve been ripped off by everyone: banks that sold defective mortgage securities to their retirement funds, pharma companies that charge them thousands per course of medication, private equity titans who strip healthy firms for assets and vaporize jobs, all phenomena that widened inequality and were enabled by hyper-aggressive monetary “rescues” and stimulus programs like Quantitative Easing.…


The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

Making the World Safe for KFC: How Development Banks Underwrote Fast Food’s Global Takeover 

Alex Park [DeSmogBlog, via Naked Capitalism 04-24-2024]


[X-Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 04-22-2024]

[TW: 19 years later, Biden’s Federal Trade Commission has killed all non-compete terms of employment.]


Boeing and the Dark Age of American Manufacturing 

[The Atlantic, via Naked Capitalism 04-21-2024]

The sight of Bill Boeing was a familiar one on the factory floor. His office was in the building next to the converted boatyard where workers lathed the wood, sewed the fabric wings, and fixed the control wires of the Boeing Model C airplane. there is no authority except facts. facts are obtained by accurate observation read a plaque affixed outside the door. And what could need closer observation than the process of his aircraft being built? One day in 1916, Boeing spotted an imperfectly cut wing rib, dropped it to the floor, and slowly stomped it to bits. “I, for one, will close up shop rather than send out work of this kind,” he declared.
When David Calhoun, the soon-to-be-lame-duck CEO of the company Boeing founded, made a rare appearance on the shop floor in Seattle one day this past January, circumstances were decidedly different. Firmly a member of the CEO class, schooled at the knee of General Electric’s Jack Welch, Calhoun had not strolled over from next door but flown some 2,300 miles from Boeing’s headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. And he was not there to observe slipshod work before it found its way into the air—it already had. A few weeks earlier, the door of a Boeing 737 had fallen out mid-flight. In the days following his visit, Calhoun’s office admitted that it still didn’t know quite what had gone wrong, because it didn’t know how the plane had been put together in the first place. The door’s restraining bolts had either been screwed in wrong, or not at all. Boeing couldn’t say, because, as it told astonished regulators, the company had “no records of the work being performed.”
The two scenes tell us the peculiar story of a plane maker that, over 25 years, slowly but very deliberately extracted itself from the business of making planes. For nearly 40 years the company built the 737 fuselage itself in the same plant that turned out its B-29 and B-52 bombers. In 2005 it sold this facility to a private-investment firm, keeping the axle grease at arm’s length and notionally shifting risk, capital costs, and labor woes off its books onto its “supplier.” Offloading, Boeing called it. Meanwhile the tail, landing gear, flight controls, and other essentials were outsourced to factories around the world owned by others, and shipped to Boeing for final assembly, turning the company that created the Jet Age into something akin to a glorified gluer-together of precast model-airplane kits. Boeing’s latest screwups vividly dramatize a point often missed in laments of America’s manufacturing decline: that when global economic forces carried off some U.S. manufacturers for good, even the ones that stuck around lost interest in actually making stuff….
Beyond that were the problems that a Boeing engineer, L. J. Hart-Smith, had foreseen in a prescient white paper that he presented at a 2001 Boeing technical symposium. With outsourcing came the possibility that parts wouldn’t fit together correctly on arrival. “In order to minimize these potential problems,” Hart-Smith warned, “it is necessary for the prime contractor to provide on-site quality, supplier-management, and sometimes technical support. If this is not done, the performance of the prime manufacturer can never exceed the capabilities of the least proficient of the suppliers.”
Boeing didn’t listen. Wall Street dismissed Hart-Smith’s paper as a “rant,” and Boeing put each supplier in charge of its own quality control. When those controls failed, Boeing had to bear the cost of fixing flawed components. Most troubling was the dangerous feedback loop Hart-Smith foresaw. Accounting-wise, those fixes, which in reality are the costs of outsourcing, would instead appear as overhead—creating the impression that in-house work was expensive and furthering the rationale for offloading even more of the manufacturing process.
In the short term, this all worked wonders on Boeing’s balance sheet: Its stock rose more than 600 percent from 2010 to 2019. Then the true folly of this approach made its inevitable appearance when two strikingly similar crashes caused by faulty software on Boeing planes killed a total of 346 people….
A plane is a complex system in which the malfunction of one piece can produce catastrophic failure of the whole. Assembly must be tightly choreographed. But now—especially with Boeing continually trying to wring costs from its suppliers—there were many more chances for errors to creep in. And when FAA investigators finally toured the premises of Spirit AeroSystems—maker of the blown-out door as well as the fuselage it was supposed to fit in—they did not find a tight operation. They found one door seal being lubricated with Dawn liquid dish soap and cleaned with a wet cheesecloth, and another checked with a hotel-room key card….

Precaratize bosses 

Cory Doctorow [Pluralistic, via Naked Capitalism 04-21-2024]

…But when businesses don’t face competition, they can make you eat their increased costs. Take Verizon. They made $79b in profit last year, and also just imposed a $4/month service charge on their mobile customers due to “rising operational costs”:….

For 40 years, neoliberal economists have emphasized our role as “consumers” (as though consumers weren’t also workers!). This let them play us off against one-another: “Sure, you don’t want the person who rings up your groceries to get evicted because they can’t pay their rent, but do you care about it enough to pay an extra nickel for these eggs?”

But again, there’s no obvious reason why you should pay that extra nickel. If you have the buying power to hold prices down, and workers have the labor power to keep wages up, then the business has to absorb that nickel. We can have a world where workers can pay their rent and you can afford your groceries.

So how do we get bosses to agree to take less so we can have more? They’ve told us how: for bosses, the thing that motivates workers to show up for shitty jobs is fear – fear of losing their homes, fear of going hungry.

When your boss says, “If you don’t want to do this job for minimum wage, there’s someone else who will,” they’re telling you that the way to get a raise out of them is to engineer things so that you can say, “If you don’t want to pay me a living wage for this job, there’s someone else who will.”

Their accusation – that you only give someone else a fair shake when you’re afraid of losing out – is a confession: to get them to give you a fair shake, we have to make them afraid. They’re showing us who they are, and we should believe them.

In her Daily Show appearance, FTC chair Lina Khan quipped that monopolies are too big to care:….

Capitalists don’t want market economies, where they have to compete with one another, eroding their margins and profits – they want a planned economy, like Amazon, where Party Secretary Bezos and his commissars tell merchants what they can sell and tell us what we must pay:

Capitalists don’t want free labor, where they have to compete with rival capitalists to bid on their workers’ labor – they want noncompetes, bondage fees, and “training repayment agreement provisions” (TRAPs) that force their workers to stay in dead-end jobs rather than shopping for a better wage:


Capitalists hate capitalism, because capitalism only works if the capitalists are in a constant state of terror inspired by the knowledge that tomorrow, someone smarter could come along and open a better business, poaching their customers and workers, and putting the capitalist on the breadline.….

How much does the ‘American dream’ cost in your state? 

[The Hill, via Naked Capitalism 04-23-2024]

The US military is embedding its officers in corporate America 

[Responsible Statecraft, via Naked Capitalism 04-24-2024]


Predatory finance

Investing in Distress

Andrew W. Kahrl, April 26, 2024 [The American Prospect]

Tax lien investing allows hedge funds and private equity firms to exploit mostly poor, elderly Black and Latino homeowners, leveraging the machinery of local tax enforcement.

Restoring balance to the economy    

Another Small Emerging Economy Just Dealt Another Big Blow to the Global ISDS System 

Nick Corbishley [via Naked Capitalism 04-21-2024]

Ecuador was one of the first countries to reject international investment arbitration, back in 2008. Its new ultra neo-liberal government just tried to reverse that. Voters refused to let it.


[UAW, via Heather Cox Richardson, Letters from an American]

The UAW has reached a historic tentative agreement with Daimler Truck ahead of the contract’s expiration at midnight on Friday, April 26, after mounting a massive campaign and strike threat against the multibillion-dollar manufacturer.  [UAW Local 3520 in Statesville, NC]

The four-year agreement delivers major economic gains for 7,300 workers, including raises of more than 25%, the end of wage tiers, and the introduction profit-sharing and Cost-of-Living (COLA) for the first time since Daimler workers first organized with the UAW. The deal delivers on the union’s pledge that record profits mean record contracts.

Where Militant Unionists Come to Plan

Nelson Lichtenstein, April 25, 2024 [The American Prospect]

The 3-to-1 victory of the United Automobile Workers in a National Labor Relations Board election at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga factory last Friday has been the big news on the labor front. For the first time in decades, a Deep South auto plant has been organized, with over 4,200 production workers soon to be covered by a collective-bargaining agreement.

But success in Chattanooga, on the third try in the last decade, might not have been possible without the growing influence of a Brooklyn/Detroit-based organization called Labor Notes. As the news flashed north that the UAW had finally won, more than 4,700 labor activists were assembled at Labor Notes’ conference in an airport hotel near Chicago. The news was electrifying, but they were not there merely to celebrate.

Labor Notes is both a monthly magazine and an organization that publishes books and pamphlets and holds conferences and workshops seeking to “put the movement back in the labor movement.” It was founded in 1979 by Trotskyist-oriented New Left radicals whose post-’60s “turn toward the working class” took many out of the classroom and into the factories, mills, and trucking barns of Middle America.

The group began holding biennial conferences in the early 1980s. During an era of union defeat and concession bargaining, these meetings gave shelter, comradeship, and a measure of inspiration to the scattered radicals and oppositionists who could still be found in many trade unions. Labor Notes fought the idea that a new era of labor-management cooperation was the path toward industrial renewal and union survival, but its staffers and partisans were never simply ideologues. Labor Notes published columns and put out handbooks on grievance handling, worker engagement, strike mobilization, running for office, and all the nuts-and-bolts problems facing unionists and organizers in difficult times. One of the most successful was A Troublemaker’s Handbook, first published in 1991 and continuously updated ever since. It was packed with tactics, strategies, and examples of how unions were built and how they remain strong. At its conferences, Labor Notes celebrated movement troublemakers and successful militants, but perhaps even more important, it hosted panels where speakers offered practical, on-the-ground solutions informed by a movement-building union ideology.

Why Is the Biden Administration Completing So Many Regulations?

Gerard Edic, April  23, 2024 [The American Prospect]

The answer is the Congressional Review Act, which Republicans in a second Trump presidency could use to further attack the administrative state. Finalizing rules early protects them from this fate.

Nearly every day for the past month, the Biden administration has made an announcement about a finalized regulation. They have completed a minimum staffing ratio for nursing homes, conserved 13 million acres in the Alaskan Arctic, designated “forever chemicals” as hazardous substances, invested in rooftop solar panels in low-income communities, banned most noncompete agreements at U.S. businesses, directed federal agencies to purchase sustainable products, and closed the “gun show loophole,” to name just a few.

Why has April been a month of regulatory action? The administration surely wants to show key constituencies that they have made progress. But policymakers are also racing to get regulations done to protect them from being overturned in the next Congress.

Nearly every day for the past month, the Biden administration has made an announcement about a finalized regulation. They have completed a minimum staffing ratio for nursing homes, conserved 13 million acres in the Alaskan Arctic, designated “forever chemicals” as hazardous substances, invested in rooftop solar panels in low-income communities, banned most noncompete agreements at U.S. businesses, directed federal agencies to purchase sustainable products, and closed the “gun show loophole,” to name just a few.

Why has April been a month of regulatory action? The administration surely wants to show key constituencies that they have made progress. But policymakers are also racing to get regulations done to protect them from being overturned in the next Congress.

FTC Enrages Corporate America by Eliminating Non-Compete Agreements

Matt Stoller [via Naked Capitalism 04-24-2024]

Plaintiff Trying to Reverse Noncompete Ban Is Trump’s Tax Adviser 

David Dayen, April  24, 2024 [The American Prospect]

G. Brint Ryan has advised Trump on tax policy. His company is dedicated to ‘liberating our clients from the burden of being overtaxed.’

Biden administration expands overtime pay to cover 4.3 million more workers. Here’s who qualifies.

[CBS, via NC AFLCIO 4-26-2024]

The U.S. Department of Labor on Tuesday unveiled a new rule that will extend overtime pay to salaried workers who earn less than $1,128 per week, or $58,656 annually. Previously, only workers who made $684 or less each week, or $35,568 annually, were eligible for OT.

Businesses are required to pay workers 1.5 times their pay if they work more than 40 hours a week, but that protection has been limited to hourly workers and lower-earning salaried employees. Because of the salary cutoff, many salaried workers were performing the same duties as their hourly coworkers, but weren’t able to qualify for overtime, Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su said in a statement.

“This rule will restore the promise to workers that if you work more than 40 hours in a week, you should be paid more for that time,” she said.

The new rule could result in an additional $1.5 billion in pay for employees, according to an estimate from the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank.

The Transportation Department’s New Path 

David Dayen, April  23, 2024 [The American Prospect]

In a busy week for regulatory action, Pete Buttigieg’s emergence in fighting corporate power should not be overlooked….

In just the past few days, the executive branch has banned all employee noncompete agreements, enacted a minimum staffing ratio for nursing homes, initiated the American Climate Corpsopened up overtime benefits to more employees, updated the definitions that require investment advisers to operate in the best interest of retirement savers, enhanced privacy protections for medical records for out-of-state abortions, and prevented illegal fees in mortgage servicing. It is only Thursday, with more actions still to come this week.

I have written about most of these issues at one point or another, and several of them were part of our Day One Agenda series. But there are only so many hours in a day. So I will restrict myself to commenting on just one set of these, the Department of Transportation’s new rules on refunds for air travel delays and elimination of hidden airlines fees. That’s because it is an admirable example of policymakers responding to circumstances, and of policymakers also growing when it came to their regulatory positions….

Under the new rule, passengers would not have to affirmatively request a refund in these situations; it would be delivered automatically within seven business days for all credit card purchases (which is almost always the way that airline tickets and services are purchased). Vouchers or travel credits would not be allowable unless the passenger agrees.

A second rule is intended to end the practice of “drip pricing,” where customers get hit with a cascade of fees after starting the process of making a purchase. The rule would require airlines, online travel sites, and ticketing agents to describe all fees up front. That includes ancillary fees for checked bags, carry-ons, and changing or canceling a reservation, and all the rules surrounding them….

Airlines have been profiting from hiding fees from customers for many years now. There’s a bizarre consulting firm called IdeaWorks that holds an “Ancillary Revenue Master Class,” which schools executives on how to layer on more junk fees. Ancillary fees, not surprisingly, have increased significantly in recent years. IdeaWorks will actually tell you that in its glowing press releases; last year, those fees hit $117.9 billion in revenue globally, a new record. DOT estimates that U.S. passengers will save more than $500 million due to the rule, obviously a small portion of the global total but a significant sum of money that people shouldn’t be charged.

Challenge to Fashion Merger Shows a New Antitrust Philosophy in Action

David Dayen, April  24, 2024 [The American Prospect]

Are My Neighbors Job Killers? 

Les Leopold, April 24, 2024

… Researchers at California State Polytechnic University found that the bankruptcy rate for leveraged buyouts 10 years after was 20 percent, compared to just two percent for companies that weren’t leveraged buyout targets.  Overall, a Harvard Business School study of thousands of leveraged buyouts between 1980 and 2013 shows that, on average, employment at bought-up firms shrank by 13 percent.

Is this the price of progress?  Don’t mass layoffs help the economy move from low value-added jobs to high value-added jobs?

….What can my friends and neighbors do about mass layoffs?

First, they could change Wall Street’s culture.  Before firms were permitted to do leveraged buyouts and massive stock buybacks at will, shareholders, employees, and the community had roughly equal claims as corporate stakeholders.  Executives of companies large and small were embarrassed to lay off their workers.  It was considered a mark of failure. During recessions, layoffs might be needed temporarily, but not during good times. But those days of shared social values are long gone. Now, the first word associated with Wall Street by the average American is greed.

Next, they could support efforts to eliminate stock buybacks and greatly reduce the debt loads permitted in corporate acquisitions. Let companies make their money the old fashioned way, by making good products rather than manipulating their share price.

Finally, they should advocate for a simple rule change: any corporation receiving government contracts or subsidies is prohibited from making compulsory layoffs. Taxpayers should not be funding corporations that lay off taxpayers.  Instead, layoffs should be voluntary. Corporations taking government funds would have to encourage departures through negotiated payouts and benefits.


Disrupting mainstream economics  

The Homo Economicus as a Prototype of a Psychopath? A Conceptual Analysis and Implications for Business Research and Teaching 

[Springer, via Naked Capitalism 04-24-2024]


Information age dystopia / surveillance state

The Belmarsh Tribunal on Julian Assange — Marjorie Cohn

[YouTube, via Thomas Neuburger, God’s Spies, April 26, 2024

Last December, Ryan Grim and Amy Goodman hosted the Belmarsh Tribunal on Julian Assange at the National Press Club. There were many speakers, but this, from Marjorie Cohn is particularly cogent. I’ve queued the video to start with her testimony.

[X-Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 04-21-2024]


The Man Who Killed Google Search  

[TechMeme, JustTheFacts, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 04-24-2024]

[Lambert Strther: “Grab a cup of coffee, this is great. It’s so horrid I really can’t pick out on item more horrid than the next The only thing that surprises me is that there’s no Google equivalent for Boeing’s John Barnett. Can’t we just nationalize Google, fire the top management, roll the code base back to, say, 2009, and start over?” ]

The specific process by which Google enshittified its search 

[Pluralistic, via Naked Capitalism 04-27-2024]

Microsoft is a national security threat, says ex-White House cyber policy director 

[The Register, via Naked Capitalism 04-22-2024]

‘Thunder Run’: Behind Lawmakers’ Secretive Push to Pass the TikTok Bill 

[New York Times, via Naked Capitalism 04-25-2024]

In Defense of Eric Nshimiye

Ann Garrison, April 24,  2024 []

Longtime Uniontown resident and Goodyear Tire engineer Eric Nshimiye stands accused of lying on his immigration application by hiding crimes he allegedly committed thirty years ago during the Rwandan Genocide. Specifically he is accused of rape, murder, and lying under oath in defense of Jean Leonard Tegana, a Rwandan friend accused of similar crimes. He and his friend were both medical students at the National University of Rwanda in Butare, Rwanda, at the time.

These are horrific crimes, but I believe Eric is innocent. As a Pacifica Radio reporter and Contributing Editor to Black Agenda Report, I have covered many similar cases over the past 15 years, and I know a witch hunt when I see one. The most high-profile case is that of Paul Rusesabagina, the real-life hero of the movie “Hotel Rwanda,” whom the Rwandan government kidnapped in 2020 while he was boarding a flight from Dubai bound for Burundi. Rusesabagina was released in 2023, thanks to an international lobbying campaign inspired by his status as the hero of “Hotel Rwanda.”….

Eric will be tried “on the merits of the case,” meaning on the specific accusations against him, but both his friends and neighbors and the wider world should understand their political context, as revealed in a recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) report titled “‘Join Us or Die’: Rwanda’s Extraterritorial Repression .” Much of the report is summarized in a shorter HRW release titled “Rwanda: Global Playbook of Abuse to Silence Critics .” The latter begins with three bullet points:

  • Rwandan authorities and their proxies are using violence, judicial mechanisms, and intimidation to try to silence criticism from Rwandans living around the world.
  • Rwandans living abroad practice self-censorship, refrain from political activism, and live in fear of traveling, being attacked, or seeing their relatives in Rwanda targeted.
  • Rwanda’s partners should open their eyes to the consequences of three decades of impunity for the ruling party, see this wide-reaching repression for what it is, and demand that it stop.

It goes on to describe “a global ecosystem of repression, aimed not only to muzzle dissenting voices but also to scare off potential critics.” “The Rwandan government,” it says, “has sought to use global police cooperation, including Interpol Red Notices, judicial mechanisms, and extradition requests to seek deportations of critics or dissidents back to Rwanda.”


Collapse of independent news media

California wants Big Tech to pay for news. Google is fighting back. 

[Washington Post, via Naked Capitalism 04-23-2024]

Google Wants to Destroy the Mountain Weekly News & Kill Small Publishers Across the Globe In Favor of Large Media Corporations 

[Mountain Weekly, via Naked Capitalism 04-26-2024]

Right-Wing Critiques Miscast NPR, NYT as Lefty Bastions 

[FAIR, via Naked Capitalism 04-25-2024]

On Short-Short Blogging 

[Random Notes, via Naked Capitalism 04-25-2024]

[Lambert Strether: “It’s nice to know there are still blogs out there, even if the platforms are attempting to starve them of readers and revenue while stealing their content. I found this through Kagi’s Small Web RSS feed. I’m not sure about Kagi as a business, but “Small Web” is a righteous endeavor.” ]


Creating new economic potential – science and technology

Single atoms captured morphing into quantum waves in startling image 

[New Scientist, via Naked Capitalism 04-24-2024]


Democrats’ political malpractice

Believe Me, I Didn’t Want To Weigh In on The Student Protests

Howie Klein, April 25, 2024  []

If you follow me on Threads, you may have seen, a couple of hours before sunrise, that I had noted that I’m so old that I heard the argument being advanced by the Biden campaign before… and captured in this little meme I created. This is how we wound up with Richard Nixon in 1968 after the country had already rejected him 8 years earlier. Biden and his people are so, so wrong if they really think they can dismiss these protests and the sentiments behind them! Republicans know how to spin this kind of thing to create a media environment that will help them electorally….

The Biden people are insane if they think this is no big deal and don’t understand it’s just the very beginning and it’s going to spread. They’re going to be responsible for putting Trump back into the White House and irreparably damaging American democracy. “What began last week when Columbia University students refused to end their protest against Israel’s war with Hamas [as the US corporate media calls Israeli genocide against Gaza] had turned into a much larger movement by Tuesday as students across the nation set up encampments, occupied buildings and ignored demands to leave….

This Feels Like Vietnam

Robert Wright, April 26, 2024 [Nonsero Newsletter]
The last two weeks have been more reminiscent of the Vietnam War era than any two weeks since… the Vietnam War era. After the mass arrest of students at Columbia University failed to squelch their anti-war protest encampment, the attendant publicity helped inspire protests, and encampments, at campuses across the country.

We’re nowhere near peak Vietnam. As someone old enough to dimly remember the protests of the late 1960s (if not old enough to have participated in them), I can assure you that college students are capable of getting way more unruly than college students have gotten lately.

Nonetheless, this week various authority figures decided that this whole thing has gone far enough. Texas Governor Greg Abbott, declaring that “these protesters belong in jail,” sent 100 state troopers to the University of Texas, where dozens of students were arrested.…

And the Columbia campus (as if it hadn’t suffered enough) received a visit from House Speaker Mike Johnson. Johnson, braving chants of “Mike, you suck!,” called on Columbia’s president, Nemat Shafik, to resign unless she could “immediately bring order to this chaos.” He declared that “if these campuses cannot get control of this problem,” they “do not deserve taxpayer dollars”—and said he and his colleagues would continue “to work on legislation” to that effect.…

Sen. Tom Cotton—who has a big constituency of enthusiastically pro-Israel evangelicals—says we’re seeing “a nascent pogrom on these campuses.” Bibi Netanyahu (who is also said to have pro-Israel leanings) declared this week that “antisemitic mobs have taken over leading universities. They call for the annihilation of Israel. They attack Jewish students. They attack Jewish faculty. This is reminiscent of what happened in German universities in the 1930s.”

Bernie Sanders to Netanyahu: ‘It Is Not Antisemitic to Hold You Accountable’

Jake Johnson, April 25, 2024 [CommonDreams]

Jewish U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders issued a scathing statement Thursday pushing back against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s characterization of burgeoning protests on American university campuses as “antisemitic,” declaring, “It is not antisemitic to hold you accountable for your actions.”

“No, Mr. Netanyahu. It is not antisemitic or pro-Hamas to point out that in a little over six months, your extremist government has killed 34,000 Palestinians and wounded more than 77,000—70% of whom are women and children,” said Sanders (I-Vt.). “It is not antisemitic to point out that your bombing has completely destroyed more than 221,000 housing units in Gaza, leaving more than one million people homeless—almost half the population.”

“Antisemitism is a vile and disgusting form of bigotry that has done unspeakable harm to many millions of people,” continued Sanders, who lost family members to the Nazi Holocaust. “But, please, do not insult the intelligence of the American people by attempting to distract us from the immoral and illegal war policies of your extremist and racist government. Do not use antisemitism to deflect attention from the criminal indictment you are facing in the Israeli courts.” ….

In his statement Thursday, Sanders emphasized that criticism of Israel’s massively destructive assault on Gaza cannot be conflated with antisemitism.

“It is not antisemitic to note that your government has obliterated Gaza’s civilian infrastructure—electricity, water, and sewage,” said Sanders, who earlier this week voted against a foreign aid package that included $17 billion in additional U.S. military assistance for Israel.

“It is not antisemitic to realize that your government has annihilated Gaza’s healthcare system, knocking 26 hospitals out of service and killing more than 400 healthcare workers,” he continued. “It is not antisemitic to condemn your government’s destruction of all of Gaza’s 12 universities and 56 of its schools, with hundreds more damaged, leaving 625,000 students with no education.”

The Newcomer From the Shop Floor

Luke Goldstein, April  23, 2024 [The American Prospect]

Dan Osborn is a mechanic who had never been to Washington until this month and doesn’t own a suit. He wants to be Nebraska’s U.S. senator, running as an independent.…

“This is my first time in Washington,” Dan Osborn told me at a rooftop cocktail event earlier this month. He said it as a statement of fact, but it’s a humblebrag for his outsider campaign for U.S. Senate in Nebraska. A union leader who organized the 2021 Kellogg strike, Osborn is a first-time candidate running as an independent, and with no Democrat in the race, he’s the sole challenger to unseat two-term Republican Deb Fischer.… despite the advantage in fundraising, a Change Research poll from December made a splash, showing Osborn leading Fischer.


(anti)Republican Drive to Civil War

Trump plans to sanction countries for refusing to use dollar – Bloomberg 

[RT, via Naked Capitalism 04-27-2024]

Right-Wingers Plot to Give Trump Control Over Federal Reserve If Reelected

Jake Johnson, April 26, 2024 [CommonDreams]

Right-wing allies of former U.S. President Donald Trump are reportedly crafting a plan to give the executive branch control over Federal Reserve policy decisions, an effort that comes as the presumptive GOP nominee continues to signal his authoritarian intentions for a potential second term.

The Wall Street Journalreported Thursday that former Trump administration officials and other supporters of the ex-president “have in recent months discussed a range of proposals, from incremental policy changes to a long-shot assertion that the president himself should play a role in setting interest rates.”

“A small group of the president’s allies—whose work is so secretive that even some prominent former Trump economic aides weren’t aware of it—has produced a roughly 10-page document outlining a policy vision for the central bank,” the Journal reported. “The group of Trump allies argues that he should be consulted on interest-rate decisions, and the draft document recommends subjecting Fed regulations to White House review and more forcefully using the Treasury Department as a check on the central bank. The group also contends that Trump, if he returns to the White House, would have the authority to oust Jerome Powell as Fed chair before his four-year term ends in 2026.”

The UAW’s Historic Tennessee Victory Is Breaking GOP Brains 

Thom Hartmann, April 26, 2024 [CommonDreams]

The UAW’s successful unionization effort last week at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee—the first successful unionization effort at a car factory in the South since the 1940s—is breaking the brains of Republicans in that region. They’re truly astonished that workers might not trust their corporate overlords with their working conditions, pay, health, and retirement.

Tennessee’s Republican Governor Bill Lee—along with Governors Kay Ivey (Alabama), Brian Kemp (Georgia), Tate Reeves (Mississippi), Henry McMaster (South Carolina), and Greg Abbott (Texas)—issued a joint statement last Tuesday condemning the vote:

”We the Governors of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas are highly concerned about the unionization campaign driven by misinformation and scare tactics that the UAW has brought into our states…

“In America, we respect our workforce and we do not need to pay a third party to tell us who can pick up a box or flip a switch. No one wants to hear this, but it’s the ugly reality… The experience in our states is when employees have a direct relationship with their employers, that makes for a more positive working environment. They can advocate for themselves and what is important to them without outside influence…

“[W]e have serious reservations that the UAW leadership can represent our values. They proudly call themselves democratic socialists and seem more focused on helping President Biden get reelected than on the autoworker jobs being cut at plants they already represent.”

The (anti)Federalist Society Infestation of the Courts

Supreme Court to hear case on criminal penalties for homelessness 

[SCOTUSblog, via Naked Capitalism 04-22-2024]


Elite impunity

No prison time for developer who bribed city officials for 18 years 

[San Francisco Standard, via Naked Capitalism 04-22-2024]

‘Son of Bush v. Gore’ Day at the Supreme Court

Harold Meyerson, April 25, 2024 [The American Prospect]

…While most of the Republican justices seemed willing to imply that not every action a president commits is inherently immune from the laws that every other American is obliged to follow, they made clear that courts had to distinguish those actions made as president from those actions made, say, as a candidate, or a bribe recipient, or an abusive husband, or a belligerent drunk. And unless they choose to spell out these distinctions in their own ruling, the Republican justices are likely to send this case back to the federal district court whence it originated, requiring the judge there to rule which of the charges brought against Trump pertain to his presidential duties and must therefore be dismissed, and which do not. This would surely push Trump’s trial into next year, or into never-never land should Trump win the November election.

Rather than deal directly themselves with the case filed against Trump, most of the Republican justices sought to cloak themselves with a patina of concern for larger questions. “We’re writing a rule for the ages,” Justice Neil Gorsuch (R) intoned, raising the specter of future presidents being persecuted during their well-deserved retirements.

The redoubtable Sam Alito (MAGA) expanded that thought to the point that it quite reversed the identity of the guilty parties in the assaults to American democracy…. “A stable, democratic society requires that a candidate who loses an election, even a close one, even a hotly contested one, leave office peacefully,” Alito said. Then, however, he noted that if a president thought he might be prosecuted for whatever he did to cling to the office, he would be likely to keep clinging by any means possible. So as to the possibility of post-presidential prosecution, Alito pondered, “Will that not lead us into a cycle that destabilizes the functioning of our country as a democracy?”

In Alito-Land, it’s not the insurrection that destabilized American democracy, it’s prosecuting the guy who fomented that insurrection. Never mind that the case before the justices concerned whether fomenting that insurrection was a prosecutable offense….

Heather Cox Richardson, April 24, 2024 [Letters from an American]

“I am in shock that a lawyer stood in the U.S. Supreme Court and said that a president could assassinate his political opponent and it would be immune as ‘an official act,’” lawyer Marc Elias, whose firm defends democratic election laws, wrote today on social media. He added: “I am in despair that several Justices seemed to think this answer made perfect sense.”.…

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson noted: “If someone with those kinds of powers, the most powerful person in the world with the greatest amount of authority, could go into office knowing that there would be no potential penalty for committing crimes, I’m trying to understand what the disincentive is from turning the Oval Office into, you know, the seat of criminal activity in this country.”

In contrast, the right-wing justices focused on the risk of vindictive prosecutions, which has been the heart of Trump’s argument for complete immunity. Trump insists that without immunity, a president will be afraid to make controversial decisions out of fear of later prosecution. Such a lack of immunity would destroy the presidency, he has argued, claiming that he is simply trying to protect the office….

As Justice Elena Kagan noted today: “The framers did not put an immunity clause into the Constitution. They knew how to; there were immunity clauses in some state constitutions. They didn’t provide immunity to the president. And, you know—not so surprising—they were reacting against a monarch who claimed to be above the law. Wasn’t the whole point that the president was not a monarch and the president was not supposed to be above the law?”


“[W]here, say some, is the King of America?” Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense, the 1776 pamphlet that convinced British colonists in North America to cut ties with their king and start a new nation. “[I]n America the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.”

The Court Just Sealed Everyone’s Fate, Including Its Own

Brynn Tannehill, April 26, 2024 [The New Republic]

This week, the Supreme Court managed to fail to meet the already extremely low expectations most sane people already had for it. First, during the Idaho EMTALA case on whether hospitals receiving federal funding can refuse to provide abortions to women who are actively dying as a result of a pregnancy, we heard debate over which, and how many, organs a woman had to lose before an abortion becomes legally acceptable. By all appearances, it looks as though the court is going to gut the already laughably weak “life of the mother” protections by a 5-4 vote.

It followed up this abysmal performance with hearing the Trump immunity case the next day, and the comportment of the same five male, conservative justices was even worse. When Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked Donald Trump’s lawyer, “If the president decides that his rival is a corrupt person, and he orders the military or orders someone to assassinate him, is that within his official acts for which he can get immunity?”, he replied, “It would depend on the hypothetical, but we can see that would well be an official act.”….

Elie Mystal, justice correspondent at The Nation, perhaps captured my response to the Supreme Court’s arguments best: “I am in shock that a lawyer stood in the U.S. Supreme Court and said that a president could assassinate his political opponent and it would be immune as ‘an official act.’ I am in despair that several Justices seemed to think this answer made perfect sense.”

At a minimum, it appears the court will send all of the federal cases back down to lower courts to reconsider whether Trump’s crimes were “official acts.” It’s also likely that their new definition of “official acts” is likely to be far broader than anyone should be comfortable with, or at least broad enough to give Trump a pass. This delay all but guarantees that Trump will not stand trial for anything besides the current hush-money case before the 2024 election….

Sam Alito Thinks We’re All Stupid

Susan Rinkunas, April 26, 2024 [The New Republic]

During Wednesday’s Supreme Court arguments over life-saving abortions in emergency rooms, a few things became clear: The male justices are unconcerned by women’s suffering, and Justice Samuel Alito thinks there aren’t enough abortion restrictions across the U.S.—but if you press him on that point, you’re the ridiculous one.

The case, United States v. Idaho, is about whether emergency rooms in Idaho—a state that bans all abortions except those done to prevent death, not to preserve health—are in violation of a federal law that requires E.R. patients to be stabilized. The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA, says hospitals that accept Medicare funding have to stabilize patients facing threats to their health, and for pregnant patients facing complications, the treatment is sometimes abortion.

But this is not a normal case: Idaho is represented in part by Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF, a far-right legal activist group that is pushing for nationwide restrictions, including a national abortion ban. Idaho and ADF argued in case briefs and before the court that a fetus is a separate patient under EMTALA and deserves equal treatment in E.R.s. This is a fetal personhood argument, and if it’s taken to its logical endpoint, it would lead to a ban on all abortions nationwide, the end of IVF as we know it (see: Alabama), and restrictions on certain forms of birth control. In practice, women whose water breaks too early could be forced on bed rest to try to save the fetus, or given C-sections against their will….

…Alito expressed concern that “one potentially very important phrase” may not have been mentioned: “EMTALA’s reference to the woman’s ‘unborn child.’” ….He was not-so-subtly hinting that he thinks there’s a legislative basis for fetal personhood hidden in the law….

Not only did Alito ignore evidence from multiple states showing that bans are limiting women’s access to health care, he also disregarded the stated goal of one of the law firms involved in the case. As ADF CEO Kristen Waggoner recently told Politico, “We do believe at ADF that the Constitution protects the life of an unborn child and that that is in the 14th Amendment.” That would be game over for abortion—along with a lot of other reproductive healthcare…..

Shocker From Top Conservative Judge: Trump Likely To Skate Completely 

Greg Sargent, April 27, 2024 [The New Republic]

J. Michael Luttig sees two potential outcomes from Thursday’s Supreme Court arguments. Both are grim for our democracy.


Civic republicanism

The WA GOP put it in writing that they’re not into democracy

[Seattle Times, via Howie Klein, April 25, 2024,]

…The Republican base, it turns out, is now opposed to democracy. Their words, not mine, as you’ll soon see.

After the candidates left, the convention’s delegates got down to crafting a party platform. Like at most GOP gatherings in the Donald Trump era, this one called for restrictions on voting. In Washington state, the delegates called for the end of all mail-in voting. Instead, we would have a one-day-only, in-person election, with photo ID and paper ballots, with no use of tabulating machines or digital scanners to count the ballots. All ballots would be counted by hand….

But then the convention veered into more unexpected anti-democratic territory.

resolution called for ending the ability to vote for U.S. senators. Instead, senators would get appointed by state legislatures, as it generally worked 110 years ago prior to the passage of the 17th Amendment in 1913.

“We are devolving into a democracy, because congressmen and senators are elected by the same pool,” was how one GOP delegate put it to the convention. “We do not want to be a democracy.” ….

They passed a resolution calling on people to please stop using the word “democracy.”

“We encourage Republicans to substitute the words ‘republic’ and ‘republicanism’ where previously they have used the word ‘democracy,’ ” the resolution says. “Every time the word ‘democracy’ is used favorably it serves to promote the principles of the Democratic Party, the principles of which we ardently oppose.”

The resolution sums up: “We … oppose legislation which makes our nation more democratic in nature.”


The Court is Corrupt. Say It With Me.

Josh Marshall, April 25, 2024  [Talking Points Memo]

I was watching cable news this afternoon at the gym. And I saw one of those examples of what has now become a Trump/Roberts Court-era set piece, where principled and very smart lawyers and/or legal academics have to say, I guess I was a chump.

Sure the Roberts Court is partisan, I thought. But there’s a threshold level belief in the rule of law… My guiding heuristic has been that the Roberts Court, especially in its post-2017 iteration is thoroughly corrupt and will generally do whatever is in the interests of the GOP so long as it doesn’t put too big a dent in the Court’s own perceived legitimacy and elite social standing….

Everything comes into conceptual alignment if we understand the Court’s corruption: corrupt in its construction, corrupt in its jurisprudence, venally corrupt as well, though that is the least of its problems.

On this show I still saw people saying things like, “I hope this isn’t the case.” “I hope I’m wrong.” Don’t hope you’re wrong. This just leaves us still in some hunt for the silver lining in the Court’s corruption. Or even worse, this undermines faith in the Court. No. We don’t want to shore up faith in a corrupt institution.

We are where we should know we are. The Roberts Court is a corrupt institution which operates in concert with and on behalf of the Republican Party and to an ambiguous degree right-wing anti-regulatory ideology. If we believe in a different set of policies or even democratic self-governance we will have to succeed at that with the Supreme Court acting as a consistent adversary.

[TW: I am not sure how expansive Marshall intends to be by using the word “corruption.” I think he is a good bit beyond the type of corruption we associate with payola schemes. But I think it is useful to note that at time of the founding of USA, corruption included a very expansive conception of the social rot of normative standards and morals. And the source of corruption was firmly understood to be the wealthy:

The historian Plutarch warned us long ago of what happens when there is no brake on the power of great wealth to subvert the electorate. “The abuse of buying and selling votes,” he wrote of Rome, “crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread in the law courts and to the army, and finally, when even the sword became enslaved by the power of gold, the republic was subjected to the rule of emperors.”

If “public virtue,” does indeed require that “each individual … repress his personal desires for the greater good of the whole,” then the ideas of Ayn Rand and modern American libertarians strike a fatal blow at the very root of American self-government and republicanism, and Marshall is more correct that he knows: the fundamental problem is “right-wing anti-regulatory ideology.” Indeed, the very idea of Adam Smith’s invisible hand – that all men acting in their own self-interest will automatically and magically lead to the greatest public good: the elevation of the individual vice of greed to the theological basis of economic ipolicy – is a foreign, hostile, and destructively corrosive acid eating away at American republicanism. ]

Johnson, E.A.J., The Foundations of American Economic Freedom: Government and Enterprise in the Age of Washington (University of Minnesota Press, 1973)

The general view, discernible in contemporaneous literature, was that the responsibility of government should involve enough surveillance over the enterprise system to ensure the social usefulness of all economic activity. It is quite proper, said Bordley, for individuals to “choose for themselves” how they will apply their labor and their intelligence in production. But it does not follow from this that “legislators and men of influence” are freed from all responsibility for giving direction to the course of national economic development. They must, for instance, discountenance the production of unnecessary commodities of luxury when common sense indicates the need for food and other essentials.  Lawmakers can fulfill their functions properly only when they “become benefactors to the publick”; in new countries they must safeguard agriculture and commerce, encourage immigration, and promote manufactures. Admittedly, liberty “is one of the most important blessings which men possess,” but the idea that liberty is synonymous with complete freedom from restraint “is a most unwise, mistaken apprehension.” True liberty demands a system of legislation that will lead all members of society “to unite their exertions” for the public welfare. It should therefore be the policy of government to aid and foster certain activities or kinds of business that strengthen a nation, even as it should be the duty of government to repress “those fashions, habits, and practices, which tend to weaken, impoverish, and corrupt the people.” [pp. 194-195]

Webster’s Dictionary 1828: Annotated

[JSTOR, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 04-22-2024]

“Noah Webster’s roles in the formation of the early United States were manifold: editor of the Federalist Papers, owner and editor of the first American daily newspaper, textbook author, a founder of Amherst College, promoter of the first US copyright laws, and author of one of the first works on epidemiology, used by nineteenth-century medical schools. But his 1828 dictionary is what he’s remembered for, coming at a tremendous personal cost: twenty-one years invested, and a lifelong struggle with debt. In his preface to the three-volume work, he writes of his hopes that the dictionary will result in his fellow Americans’ “improvement and their happiness; and for the continued increase of the wealth, the learning, the moral and religious elevation of character, and the glory of my country.’”

[TW: I have written a number of times that one of the key tenets of civic republicanism, all too often overlooked by even proponents the past half century, is a positive requirement for individuals to “do good” by contributing to the advance of human knowledge and ability. Webster’s sentence bolded above is characteristic of how this was expressed. I have encountered such expression repeatedly when reading the history of the development of US science, industry, agriculture, and transportation. ]

The Puritan Ethic and the American Revolution 

Edmund S. Morgan, “The Puritan Ethic and the American Revolution,” The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 24, No. 1 (Jan., 1967), pp. 3-43

[TW: One note before the excerpt: the transition, under liberalism, from political economy to economics and politics as two separate bodies of intellectual pursuit involved removing the questions of morality (ethics) from economic considerations: only market forces were the acceptable means for judging economic outcomes.]

“The Ethic conveyed the idea of each man’s and woman’s “calling” in life. “The emphasis of [work or labor] was on productivity for the benefit of society. In addition to working diligently at productive tasks, a man was supposed to be thrifty and frugal. It was good to produce but bad to consume any more than necessity required. A man was but a steward of the possessions he accumulated. If he indulged himself in luxurious living, he would have that much less with which to support church and society. If he needlessly consumed his substance, either from carelessness or from sensuality, he failed to honor the God who furnished him with it.”


“The calling of a ruler, as the colonists and their Puritan forebearers saw it, was like any other calling: it must serve the common good; it must be useful, productive; and it must be assiduously pursued.”


The Puritan Ethic whether enjoined by God, by history, or by philosophy, called for diligence in a productive calling, beneficial both to society and to the individual. It encouraged frugality and frowned on extravagance. It viewed the merchant with suspicion and speculation with horror. It distrusted prosperity and gathered strength from adversity…. The merchants actually had more than a short-range interest at stake in their reluctance to undertake nonimportation. The movement, as we have seen, was not simply a means of securing repeal of the taxes to which merchants along with other colonists were opposed. The movement was in fact anticommercial, a repudiation of the merchant’s calling. Merchants, it was said, encouraged men to go into debt. Merchants pandered to luxury. Since they made more on the sale of superfluous baubles than on necessities, they therefore pressed the sale of them to a weak and gullible public. What the advocates of nonimportation demanded was not merely an interruption of commerce but a permanent reduction, not to say elimination, of it. In its place they called for manufacturing, a palpably productive, useful calling.

So the Washington state GOP declares itself in favor a republic, but does not understand what a republic is supposed to be; nay, more, is hostile to the classic understanding of republicanism.]


Open Thread


How To Deal With Student Protest Camps (FDR Edition)


  1. The short-sightedness of the Israeli gov is astonishing.

    Have war criminal Genocidal tyrants ever been known for thinking long term?
    Israel’s GDP shrunk 20% in the last three months of 2023.
    And their government is busy ranting about how opposing genocide of Semites makes one anti-sematic (Palestinians are by definition Semites).
    At the rate Israel is destroying itself there won’t be an Israel for future Americans to support or oppose.

  2. bruce wilder

    It has been at least thirty-five years since my opinion of Israel shaded negative, but it still feels now as if something fundamental has shifted only recently.

    The shamelessness with which U.S. politicians and university Presidents and even Nancy Pelosi suck up to the Israeli leadership, as corrupt and cruel as it is, is remarkable. Craig Murray wrote a piece, titling it “Worse than you can imagine”. Genocide Joe, indeed.

  3. VietnamVet

    Roughly 100,000 years ago, humans started burying the dead and later added slaves to serve the Elite in the afterlife. This example of superiority in a human pyramid hierarchy and the nearly half a million dead soldiers In Ukraine are actual power. For two years, drones and satellites have prevented the massing of armor for maneuver warfare. The only success comes from storm troopers seizing opposing trench lines. Like WWI since armored troops can no longer get into the rear and disrupt logistics, the Ukraine Russian War will drag on through January 2025 and much longer if Joe Biden is re-elected until one side or the other runs out of money, men and armament. The Kremlin has point blank declared that it will defend Russian territory which includes Eastern Ukraine and Crimea with nuclear weapons.

    For now, an Iran – Israel War and gasoline lines from Middle East petroleum shortages has been prevented. But the Gaza and Ukraine wars will keep add bodies to the graves. Current Western leaders enable it. Yet, the West does not have the power to reopen the Suez Canal to Western shipping. The Axis of Resistance has interior Eurasia transportation land lines. Inflation in the increased costs of imported goods is a given. Either the West, accepts reality and gives peace a chance by signing armistices and creating effective UN DMZs between combatants, or the Western Empire will fall apart thanks to the ageless upper-class delusions brought on by arrogance and incompetence.

  4. Purple Library Guy

    Quick note on the Federal Reserve thing: I’m unhappy about the idea of Donald Trump and his coagulation of fascists getting their paws on control of ANYTHING. But that’s the only reason I object to this–the basic idea of the democratically elected government regaining control over a central bank is a GOOD thing, not a bad one. The main point of central bank independence as we’ve seen it in operation since the 80s is, damaging the economy to make war on the lower classes. They know doing this is unpopular because duh, so they needed to insulate the people who do it from democracy.

    On the Ukraine war . . . it does look kind of like WW I, in the sense that territorial movement is slow. But it’s different, in that both sides avoid massing troops, and in that while it looks fairly even it isn’t even at all. As far as I can tell the attrition is quite lopsided. With the drones plus a few other things, both sides have the ability to most of the time stop armoured attacks. But outside of actual attacks, most of the casualties are inflicted by artillery and bombs dropped from planes. Russia has an overwhelming edge in both of these things, which it has made even more lopsided with a strong dedication to eliminating the enemy’s artillery. The day-to-day what’s-happening-on-the-front-line video I watch used to feature a fair amount of Ukrainian artillery fire; now there’s hardly any. Either there’s no HIMARS or M777s left, or they’re holding back a few for some REALLY important moment because they know as soon as they start shooting they will get creamed.

    One result is a difference in what counts as “cover” for the two sides. Trenches are better than nothing but somewhat inadequate for both sides, because FPV drones are effective against them. Tough old Soviet high rises and similar hardened buildings are fairly effective for both sides, although the Russians will eventually bring one down if it annoys them enough and they can’t go around. But smaller buildings are effective cover only for the Russians. The Ukrainians will attack these buildings with soldiers in them using little mortars and FPV drones; these do some damage, but leave the buildings still quite workable as shelter. The Russians attack these buildings with huge howitzers and 500 kg bombs; these leave them flat, whoever was in them dead and their weapons destroyed.

    As a result, while the Russians can keep up with the level of attrition they’re taking almost indefinitely, the level of Ukrainian attrition is much, much higher. I don’t think it matters how much funding and armament they get at this point, they’re running low on trained soldiers, starting to be forced to plug people into the front lines when they’re only halfway through basic training. Plus new equipment shows up too slowly to ever give them parity at any given moment, so they’ll just keep losing it to counterbattery fire before it can be very effective. The defensive lines are gradually starting to buckle, the very slow creep forward by the Russians is turning into a slightly less slow creep; not all the weak points can be shored up at the same time. I think this gradual acceleration will continue. I don’t think this can go far into 2025.

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