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

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – April 3, 2022

by Tony Wikrent

Strategic Political Economy

Nearly 1 in 3 food companies forced to reduce or shutdown production 

[Brussels Times, via Naked Capitalism 4-2-2022]

Yves Smith added: “From IM Doc, independent of above story, by e-mail:”

2 interesting patient conversations this week…The other was the retired CEO of one of our big Ag corps. He told me in no uncertain terms to begin to do everything I could to prepare. All kinds of problems are brewing with the nation’s food supplies and supply chains and the real pain will not start until later this summer or fall – but it is going to be really ugly. He rates the likelihood to be somewhere between “epic and biblical”

Child poverty spiked by 41 percent in January after Biden benefit program expired, study finds 

[Washington Post, via Naked Capitalism 3-29-2022]

‘Their Inflation Strategy Is Working’: Corporate Profits Soared to Record High in 2021

Jake Johnson [Common Dreams, via Naked Capitalism 3-31-2022]

The US Empire’s Ultimate Target Is Not Russia But China 

Caitlin Johnstone [via Mike Norman Economics 3-31-2022]

Ukraine / Russia

Biden Confirms Why the US Needed This War 

[Consortium News, via Naked Capitalism 3-28-2022]

The U.S. got its war in Ukraine. Without it, Washington could not attempt to destroy Russia’s economy, orchestrate worldwide condemnation and lead an insurgency to bleed Russia, all part of an attempt to bring down its government. Joe Biden has now left no doubt that it’s true.

The president of the United States has confirmed what Consortium News and others have been reporting since the beginnings of Russsiagate in 2016, that the ultimate U.S. aim is to overthrow the government of Vladimir Putin.

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said on Saturday at the Royal Castle in Warsaw. The White House and the State Dept. have been scrambling to explain away Biden’s remark.

Just where is Joe Biden going to find gas for the EU?

[Politico, via Naked Capitalism 3-28-2022]

A senior U.S. official clarified that the promise of 15 bcm this year is actually a commitment to try and help convince companies in Asia or elsewhere that were expecting cargoes this coming winter to agree to send them to Europe instead. That would be a repeat of what happened this past winter, the official said.”

Global commodity shifts in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine 

[Splash 247, via Naked Capitalism 3-28-2022]

Shifting global commodity patterns in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine are proving seismic.
On Friday, the US agreed to attempt to deliver an additional 10m tonnes of LNG to Europe in 2022, equivalent to around 14% of total US LNG exports last yea,r as Europe weans itself off its dependence on Russia, the world’s largest energy producer. In the longer term, the US has agreed to supply a further 35m tonnes of LNG to Europe per year out to 2030, should the additional LNG consumption remain consistent with existing European decarbonisation plans.

Russian Oil Is Too Cheap To Resist For China And India 

[OilPrice, via Naked Capitalism 4-2-2022]

Russia’s Gazprom exits German business amid crisis in energy ties 

Reuters, via Naked Capitalism 4-2-2022]

Follows a raid on Gazprom offices in Germany.

Whose Bright Idea Was It to Extend NATO Membership to Ukraine? 

Harold Meyerson, Marchl3 1, 2022 [The American Prospect]

That master of foreign and military policy, George W. Bush

The new buttresses of the dollar system.

Adam Tooze [via The Big Picture 3-31-2022]

Triggered by the sanctions imposed on Russia’s central bank there is a lot of excited talk right now about the possibility of major holders of reserves diversifying away from the dollar. The main lesson from Russia’s experience is that there is nowhere else to go….

Since the 1970s the dominance of the dollar has been maintained by scrambling improvisation. And in recent decades the euro has emerged as an alternative. I sketched a possible historical narrative along these lines in a piece for Foreign Policy back in January 2021.

But, as the current crisis illustrates, a diversification out of dollars into euros has turned out, as far as Russia is concerned, to be a difference that does not make a difference. Russia finds itself in what amounts to a euro-dollar trap – a triangle consisting of dollars, offshore euro-dollars and euros. It is this triangle of currencies that dominates the North Atlantic and East Asian financial hubs. It is subtended by dollar swap lines in unlimited amounts and is buttressed by a similar expansive monetary relationship with Japan.

George Kennan, NATO, covert guerrilla warfare 

Yasha Levine [via Naked Capitalism 3-31-2022]

What Putin did with his stupid invasion was invalidate retroactively the correct positions and predictions that people like Kennan made back then and to prove right the positions of all the worst people — the rabid neocons and Atlantic Council-type meddlers and expansionists, who’ve been escalating and heatings things up for years on Russia’s borders. As far as the popular discourse goes now, it no longer matters what caused who to do what: Putin attacked first and so Europe needs NATO now more than ever! It’s what everyone’s saying…. And that’s a massive downside of Putin’s war. He’s empowered all the worst people over here. They have the upper hand — more than ever before.

The pandemic

Schools left ‘scrambling’ after Missouri treasurer tied bond deals to AG’s COVID demands

[Missouri Independent, via Naked Capitalism 4-1-2022]

Without warning, and with little explanation, school superintendents discovered they were now required to certify their district had complied with Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s demands to drop any and all COVID-19 mitigation measures, such as mask mandates.

If they refused, state Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick would not sign off on school districts’ refinancing of debt at a lower interest rate through the state.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars were on the line. The deadline to comply or refuse was only days away for schools with pending deals.

Schmitt should be tried for murder or at least manslaughter, but the evidence is solely the statistical difference in infection and death rates.

For red and blue America, a glaring divide in COVID-19 death rates persists 2 years later 

[ABC, via Naked Capitalism 4-2-2022]

An ABC News analysis of federal data found that on average, the death rates in states that voted for Trump were more than 38% higher than in states that voted for Biden, post widespread vaccine availability.

In addition, in the 10 states with the lowest percentage of full vaccinations, death rates were almost twice as high as that of states with the highest vaccination rates, the analysis found.

Over the span of the last 10 months, in the 10 states with the lowest vaccination rates, where between 50 and 54.5% of the total population had been fully vaccinated, there was an average of 153 COVID-19-related deaths per 100,000 residents.

Did Sweden beat the pandemic by refusing to lock down? No, its record is disastrous.

[LA Times, via The Big Picture 4-1-2022]

A new study by European scientific researchers buries all those claims in the ground. Published in Nature, the study paints a devastating picture of Swedish policies and their effects. “The Swedish response to this pandemic,” the researchers report, “was unique and characterized by a morally, ethically, and scientifically questionable laissez-faire approach.” (LA Times)

Predatory Finance

Without Registering as Stock Exchanges, Citadel Securities and Virtu Financial Account for More Stock Trading than the New York Stock Exchange

Pam Martens and Russ Martens, March 29, 2022 [Wall Street on Parade]

The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

Ban Secret Deals

[Boondoggle, via Naked Capitalism 4-1-2022]

Elected leaders literally voted to hand out huge sums of public money to corporations, with some of them not knowing the intended recipient and the rest bound by contract not to divulge its identity or what its specific plans are. It happens all over the country, all the time, in deals involving Amazon, Facebook, Google, Rivian, and on and on.

This practice is corrupt and needs to be banned. Instead of just complaining, today I’m going to explain a new effort to do just that.

My shop, the American Economic Liberties Project, teamed up with a group of state-based and national organizations to form Ban Secret Deals. It’s a coalition that, like it says on the tin, is going to push for state-level bans on NDAs in economic development deals. You can check out our website here.

This Is What Happens When Globalization Breaks Down

[New York Times, via The Big Picture 4-2-2022]

The story of one shipping container from a factory in China to a warehouse in the United States traces the arc of a global supply chain consumed by trouble.

Farmers on the Brink

[Doomberg, via Naked Capitalism 3-27-2022]

The tempest caused by the European energy disaster has merged with the hurricane of consequences flowing from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, forming the genesis of a generational crisis in food that will leave few unaffected. While we’ve been warning about just such a scenario for some time, after spending the past two weeks traveling across the US Midwest and conferring with our contacts in the agricultural sector, even we are a little spooked by what we’ve learned. In a financial crash, the correlation between all asset classes converges to one. The coming crash in global food supply will be driven by a similar phenomenon across virtually every input into farming – they are all spiking to historic highs simultaneously, supply availability is diminishing across the spectrum, and the time to reverse the worst of the upcoming consequences is rapidly running short….

We begin with the price of fertilizer, which has been soaring to record highs across the globe. Key sources of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous – important inputs into soil fertility, crop yield, and plant maintenance – have all gone vertical. Ammonia is derived directly from natural gas, and the price of natural gas outside of the US has gone vertical. It’s no surprise that the price of ammonia has tripled over the past twelve months.

P&O and the Tory Road to Serfdom

Craig Murray [via Naked Capitalism 3-27-2022]

What has happened to P&O workers is exactly how deregulated Britain is meant to operate. With British regulations abolished or inoperative and EU regulations void, predatory international capitalists are free to treat workers like property, to be picked up or disposed of at whim, with no consideration at all other than the profit of the company.

Politicians have reacted to the public disgust at the summary sacking of 800 people (disguised as redundancy even though they are to be replaced by cheaper labour), by expressions of disgust, but with no proposals at all to do anything about the particular or the general situation. Nobody has contradicted the statement in the Commons by junior Tory transport minister Robert Courts that “P & O’s finances are a matter for them alone”.

Government ministers, most notably Kwasi Kwarteng, have noted that P&O’s actions are probably illegal, but nobody in government seems to feel the slightest urge to intervene to stop a major company deliberately acting illegally and on a major scale. P&O appears to have calculated that the paltry fines and three month extra salary compensation payouts that may result from illegality are outweighed by the savings it will make. Government fury seems to be confined to the vicious way the redundancies were announced….

There is no salvation to be had from the elite and their stranglehold on the political system and the mainstream media. We have to go back to the basics and build again the notion of horizontal solidarity in society. Liberal philanthropy did once assist the development of a more equal society in the UK, which reached its zenith in the 1970’s, but working class self-organisation, particularly through the union movement, was always essential to societal advance.

“Inflation Stings Most If You Earn Less Than $300K. Here’s How to Deal”

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 3-29-2022]

“Economists say the overall share of income spent on gas is lower than it used to be, and despite the increases, prices are still relatively low by historical standards. That’s true, but it offers little consolation these days for someone on the lower end of the income distribution who drives to work. Food prices are also up, posting their biggest monthly increase since April 2020. There, too, those making less than $19,000 spend much more of their income — almost 15% — compared with higher earners, whose total food spending is just 4% of their income. Households with income of about $50,000 spend 8.5% of it on food. The most recent barometer of consumer sentiment showed the highest-ever share of Americans expecting their finances to worsen in the coming year. About 54% think their incomes will lag behind inflation in the year ahead — a pretty high percentage historically.” But then: “When it comes to food, don’t be afraid to explore.”

1 in 5 workers runs out of money before payday, survey finds

[CNBC, via Naked Capitalism 3-31-2022]

Lights Out: Profitable Utility Company Shut Off Electricity to Homes Hundreds of Thousands of Times

[ProPublica, via The Big Picture 3-27-2022]

Three months into the pandemic, Michigan’s largest power company, DTE Energy, began ramping up power shut-offs for customers behind on their bills. A regulatory system built to prioritize investors, not affordability, let it happen.

The Ironworkers Resurrecting ‘Joy Silk’

[The American Prospect, March 31, 2022]

After months of complaints over basic safety standards, a majority of workers in a fabrication plant demanded union recognition, but the company refused and retaliated….

Currently, the ironworkers are in a bind. Union representative Vince Di Donato told the Prospect that what happened at G&D Integrated is exactly why the “Joy Silk doctrine” must be reinstated. That refers to the Joy Silk Mills case, a 1949 NLRB decision stating that, in instances where a majority of workers had expressed their intent to join a union and employers had used unfair labor practices to block those efforts, the company would be ordered to recognize the union and enter into collective bargaining.

This doctrine was watered down in a 1969 Supreme Court ruling, its Gissel Packing decision. But last year, the Prospect reported that NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo issued a memo signaling staff attorneys to go by “the standards of Joy Silk.” This would put teeth back into U.S. labor law, and G&D Integrated could provide an initial test case.

Health Care Crisis

The Red Wedding for Rural Pharmacies

Matt Stoller, March 28, 2022 [BIG, via Naked Capitalism 3-30-2022]

Biden just tried to regulate CVS, United Health, and Cigna. Cigna struck back, and is now trying to wipe out independent pharmacies and harm patients. Plus, antitrust enforcers are getting real….

The message from Frey to all future rivals was crystal clear. Don’t mess with me. Though fictional, Game of Thrones draws from medieval history, and such tales of vengeance are not unusual. English history, French history, and many empires of conquest pursued such a strategy of brutalizing subjects so viciously they wouldn’t consider fighting back in the future. These strategies are common because they work. For instance, Mongol empire had many cities surrender without a fight, due to fear that the Mongols would massacre everyone inside should they put up an inch of resistance.

The point of these stories isn’t just about geopolitics, but what happens when humans have too much power over other humans. Which brings me to the problem of monopolies, and what some of them do when they are even slightly challenged. A few months ago, the Biden administration put out a rule to regulate the pharmacy benefits management business, an opaque but massive part in the pharmaceutical drug supply chain. PBMs handle the drug benefit piece of insurance plans. They maintain a list of drugs for insurance companies, they negotiate drug prices, and they manage reimbursements to pharmacies.

The original idea behind PBMs is they would be able to get enough bargaining power by representing multiple insurance companies that they could negotiate to bring down drug prices. And accumulate bargaining power they did, merging until three PBMs control 80% of the insurance market. They are also vertically integrated with insurance companies and drug store chains. The top three PBMs are owned by CVS, United Health, and Cigna.

Unfortunately, because of an exemption from anti-kickback laws, PBMs don’t use their bargaining power to reduce consumer prices. Instead, they force pharmaceutical firms to compete over who will give the PBM the biggest kickback, which in the industry is known as a rebate. Take insulin. In 2013, Sanofi gave a 2-4% kickback to PBMs to prefer their product to customers. In 2018, that number went up to 56%. In other words, more than half of the price of insulin is going to a middleman who does nothing more than push around paper.

Why well-qualified medical school graduates can’t get jobs — despite doctor shortages 

[Vox, via Naked Capitalism 3-28-2022]

At the root of the mismatch between physician supply and demand are decades-old limits on medical school enrollment and outdated rules governing the federal funding for most residency programs. While Congress has taken some baby steps toward increasing that funding, it has yet to make the kinds of bold changes necessary to create a sustainable and pandemic-resilient physician workforce….

An intensified physician shortage would be bad for the nation’s health. Life expectancy is lower — and mortality due to cancers and heart and lung disease is higher — in areas with fewer primary care providers, and those with fewer OB/GYNs have higher maternal and infant mortality rates. And in states with large populations outside big cities, rural physician shortages are linked with a variety of negative health outcomes….

Since the Medicare and Medicaid Act was first passed in 1965, medical residents have been paid for mostly by the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The goal was to ensure Medicare beneficiaries had access to the best health care, which was thought to be found in teaching hospitals.

In 1983, Medicare made changes to the way it reimbursed hospitals for residency programs. At that time, it created formulas that calculated the dollar amount of residency training funds it supplied to each hospital as a percentage of that hospital’s care expenditures and its volume of Medicare patients — sort of like a restaurant tip, said Orr.

Those formulas have never been updated — and because they tie funding to the cost of care, they have resulted in better funding for hospitals providing high-cost care in high-cost (usually urban) areas.

Over the years, this inequitable distribution of residency program funding has meant that hospitals prioritizing primary care services in rural areas get less funding and fewer residents than those that perform lots of expensive procedures in cities. That leads to fewer primary care specialists, and because physicians often practice near where they train, fewer rural physicians….

Worse yet, to reduce Medicare expenditures, the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 capped the number of resident slots that could be funded by Medicare each year. It also capped the number of residents each hospital could have at their 1996 levels, which meant hospitals couldn’t get additional residents even if the population they served ballooned in size. Obamacare undid this restriction in 2010, and since then, the number of residency spots has grown modestly.

Restoring balance to the economy

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 4-1-2022]

“Amazon Spent $4.3 Million On Anti-Union Consultants Last Year”

[HuffPo, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 4-1-2022]

“Faced with a wave of worker activism in its warehouses last year, Amazon paid anti-union consultants roughly $4.3 million in an effort to beat back union organizing campaigns, according to new filings with the U.S. Department of Labor. The disclosures from Amazon offer a glimpse into how far the online retailer is willing to go to stay union-free. Many employers hire anti-union consultants to hold meetings with workers and dissuade them from unionizing, but none seem to match the scale or price tag of Amazon’s efforts over the course of just one year in its sprawling warehouses.”

YOU LOVE TO SEE IT: A Historic Union Victory

Matthew Cunningham-Cook & Julia Rock, Apr 2, 2022 [The Lever]

I also must note that ALU is a Black and young-person led union, in a labor movement where not a single major union is led by a person under the age of 50, much less an Black person under the age of 50. Black workers like Smalls and his lieutenants Derrick Palmer and Connor Spence, as well as Latina ALU leader Karen Ponce, represent a new vanguard against the staid, conservative leadership of unions that have led us to a private sector union density rate of just 6.1 percent, down from 16.8 percent in 1983. Besides ALU, there is no other union whose officers are as young as that of ALU. The critical role that Black workers play in the future of the labor movement, and in organizing Amazon in particular, is an issue that Marc Bayard and I covered in The American Prospect in February.

A Generational Worker Revolt Hits Its Stride

Harold Meyerson, April 1, 2022 [The American Prospect]

So many of the standard rules, both of unionizing and union-busting, have been broken with this victory, in ways that suggest that something more profound must be going on. Consider: The workers of the Amazon Labor Union who did the organizing (remember, no union provided them with professional organizers; the organizers were the workers themselves) only got the signatures of the bare minimum of workers legally required to demand an election—30 percent. Hardly any union calls for an election unless it has the signatures of 70 percent of the workforce, since they anticipate management’s threats and opposition will bring that figure way down by the time the actual election takes place….

Of course, the Staten Island workers at JFK8 now must negotiate a contract with their stubbornly unwilling employer (though the new regime at the National Labor Relations Board appears determined to penalize employers who stall in hopes that the workers will give up). Nearly 20 years ago, the workers at a Walmart store in Quebec voted to unionize, and within six months the company shut the store down. But Amazon, by virtue of its promises on one-day delivery, simply cannot shutter large warehouses with thousands of workers in giant metropolises where a lot of its customers live. If anything, the company needs more infrastructure, not less. The ubiquity of Amazon locks them into employing a workforce that wants more from their jobs….

Still, I can’t help but think that this could portend the rising not just of a share of the workforce but also of a generation, whose politics are at least as left as any generation in American history. The workers and organizers of the last great private-sector union surge, the CIO organizers who during the 1930s built the only genuinely powerful labor movement we’ve ever seen in this country, were disproportionately young, too. The Reuther brothers (socialists) and Bob Travis (a communist) who helped build the UAW sit-down strike were in their twenties. Chris Smalls, the lead organizer at JFK8 in Staten Island, is in his early thirties; the baristas leading the Starbucks campaigns are similarly youthful.

The sooner that workers such as these expand their leadership roles, either within the established union movement or to new unions that can rise alongside the old, the better. Some existing unions—such as SEIU, which backs the baristas at Starbucks and has waged the fight for a $15 minimum wage during the past decade—may be more receptive to such a transformation. Others may be wary. (I’m thinking of the UAW, which, unable to organize the non-union auto plants in the South, turned to organizing college campuses, and now finds that nearly a quarter of its members are grad students.)

Judge: Seattle concrete companies intentionally drove into striking workers at picket line 

[FOX13, via Naked Capitalism 3-31-2022]

“Trouble in the Tulips: Organized Farmworkers Win Basic Demands in a Quick Strike”

[Labor Notes, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 3-31-2022]

“Yes, the fields of flowers are so beautiful they can take your breath away, but the conditions under which they’re cultivated and harvested can be just as bad as they are for any other crop. ‘Tulips have always been a hard job, but it’s a job during a time of the year when work is hard to find,’ says farmworker Tomas Ramon. ‘This year we just stopped enduring the problems. We decided things had to change.’ On Monday, March 21, their dissatisfaction reached a head. Three crews of pickers at Washington Bulb accused the company of shorting the bonuses paid on top of their hourly wage, Washington’s minimum of $14.69. Workers get that extra pay if they exceed a target quota set by the company for picking flowers. The parent company of RoozenGaarde Flowers and Bulbs is Washington Bulb, the nation’s largest tulip grower. When the company wouldn’t talk on that Monday, 70 workers voted to strike the following day. Another 20 joined them the next morning, when they again demanded to talk with the company. This time one of the owners told them he wouldn’t talk if the president of Familias Unidas, Ramon Torres, was present. ‘So we said, ‘If you won’t talk with our representative, we won’t talk without him,” Tomas Ramon remembers. ‘We have a union and you have to make an agreement with him.’ So the owner got angry and left.’ That Wednesday the flowers were just waving in the breeze, waiting for someone to pick them. The day after, the company lawyer was on the phone to union attorney Kathy Barnard. With a commitment to begin negotiations, workers agreed to go back into the rows after the weekend, and talks got started. ‘By the first day of the strike the workers had already met, elected a committee, and put their demands in writing,’ said FUJ’s political director Edgar Franks. ;After the four years of fighting for the contract at Sakuma Farms, they knew how to organize themselves quickly. They had community supporters on their picket lines after the first day. They had their list of demands, and finally forced the company to accept it.’”

The Memo Writer: Jennifer Abruzzo, general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, has outlined an agenda that would transform the American workplace.

Harold Meyerson, March, 2022 [The American Prospect]

Washington’s Best Hope: Rohit Chopra’s unconventional methods for making change happen in a sclerotic government

David Dayen, March 28, 2022 [The American Prospect]

You will not hear Chopra take anything approaching credit; he constantly defers to his colleagues. But in just over a decade in government, he has been astonishingly effective in finding ways to make even unfavorable positions in Washington work for the public good. In this way, he has swum against a tide of lost faith in institutions that dates back decades….

But one aspect of Chopra’s life before public service was extensively covered in real time: his year as president of the Undergraduate Council at Harvard…. Chopra’s relationship with administrators would often turn adversarial, yet earned him broad respect. As one faculty member told him, “Rohit, you have mastered the art of saying ‘fuck you’ with a smile.” One of those administrators was Larry Summers, then president of Harvard. “Professor Summers and I had a very spirited set of engagements,” Chopra told me. “I thought that we had certain people running the university who were pretty unaccountable.” One of Chopra’s classmates put it differently, thanking him at the end of his term for “being brave enough to tell Larry Summers … ‘to shove it.’”

….In between Harvard and the CFPB, Chopra had earned a business degree at Penn’s Wharton School (“He didn’t come over to the law school to get a real education,” Warren joked) and did a stint at McKinsey, the controversial management consultant. “I really got an in-depth education in how boardrooms make decisions and how Wall Street makes decisions,” he said. “It’s not what the textbooks teach you: investing to dominate, to exclude, to conquer.”

Supply Chain Fixes, Energy Transition Take Major Steps Forward

David Dayen, April 1, 2022 [The American Prospect]

Nobody will tell you, but Congress came closer to re-regulating an economic sector while the president began the wartime mobilization of clean energy….

Three major issues stand out beyond the usual dynamic of supply and demand. First, any cargo owner not named Amazon or Walmart can’t secure normal space on container vessels and so must pay a premium, which further drives consolidation. Second, companies are being charged “demurrage and detention fees” to get their goods cleared from port terminals and get containers back onto ships, when the ports are so clogged there’s no way for them to actually do that. And third, there is so much profit in China/U.S. shipping that it’s become more profitable for ocean carriers to grab empty containers and chug back eastward than wait to carry exports, particularly agricultural exports. So, as Matt Stoller has written, shipping companies don’t see the financial reward in exporting food from America, “even in the midst of what looks like a global famine.”

All of these issues point back to the last changes in ocean shipping rules, in 1998, which deregulated the industry, allowed secret deals between shippers and cargo owners that could discriminate on price against rivals, made no effort to require ocean shippers to carry U.S. exports, and did nothing to stop exorbitant price-gouging and unconscionable fees.

The bill now passed by both houses of Congress actually seeks to reverse these trends. It would empower the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to investigate and regulate ocean carrier contracts, with minimum service standards. It also subjects demurrage and detention fees to regulation (which the FMC has long wanted to do)….

Another case in point was Thursday’s announcement by the Biden administration, which the media largely focused on the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for the next 180 days…. What’s been left under the radar is the third part of the announcement, which is the administration’s most novel use of executive authority to spur a green-energy transition.

In a presidential determination, the administration vowed to use the Defense Production Act of 1950 to require homegrown companies to produce minerals used in the production of large-capacity batteries in the transportation and power sectors. The minerals include lithium, cobalt, graphite, manganese, and nickel, which has been in a commodity crunch of late.

This presents the energy transition as the national-security priority that it is….

Senate Dems Demand Biden Stop Crushing Student Debtors

Julia Rock & David Sirota, April 1, 2022 [The Lever]

Senate Democrats are demanding the Biden administration back off its attempts to overturn court rulings that help student debtors. The new demands were prompted by The Lever’s original series showing the administration has been betraying Biden’s campaign promise to allow borrowers to discharge their student debts through bankruptcy. Instead, the administration has fought debtors in bankruptcy court.

“Over the past several decades, Congress and the courts have together nearly eliminated bankruptcy as a viable path towards financial recovery for most Americans struggling with student loan debt,” 27 Democratic senators wrote in a letter to the Education Department and Justice Department on March 31, the Washington Post reported. “The federal government’s aggressive litigation challenges against students who pursue undue hardship claims further exacerbates this situation,” the letter added.

How to Solve the Housing Crisis With One Weird Trick 

Ryan Cooper, March 1, 2022 [The American Prospect]

American cities are (finally) beginning to hear about social housing.

Climate and environmental crises

Chart: The One Percent’s Huge Carbon Footprint 

[Statista, via Naked Capitalism 4-2-2022]

The world’s richest ten percent are responsible for an estimated 47 percent share of global CO2 emissions. This is the result of a recent study published in the journal Nature Sustainability, which focused on how alleviating poverty worldwide would impact carbon emissions. As our chart shows, the difference between the poorest and wealthiest people not only shows in their emission share.

On average, a person filed under the lower 50 percent income group only produces about one ton of COper year compared to about 48 tons of carbon dioxide per capita emitted by the wealthiest one percent.

California Snowpack Melts, Leaving State Desperate for Water 

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism 4-2-2022]

Green New Deal – An opportunity too big to miss

Climate change: Wind and solar reach milestone as demand surges 

[BBC, via Naked Capitalism 4-2-2022]

US seeks new lithium sources as demand for batteries grows.

[AP News, via The Big Picture 3-30-2022]

The U.S. will need far more lithium to achieve its clean energy goals — and the industry that mines, extracts and processes the chemical element is poised to grow. But it also faces a host of challenges from environmentalists, Indigenous groups and government regulators.

Is the Salton Sea hiding enough lithium to power America? 

[Freethink, via Naked Capitalism 4-2-2022]

Tom Kuhn, Heather Zichal & Abigail Ross Hopper via RealClear Policy
[ZeroHedge, via Mike Norman Economics 3-28-2022]
Over the last six months, the U.S. solar supply chain has been subject to not one, but two, attacks perpetrated by companies attempting to leverage trade laws for their own self-interest when those laws were meant to protect the public interest. These companies want the U.S. Department of Commerce to apply substantial tariffs to solar modules imported from select Asian countries. These modules are critical inputs to the execution of solar projects installed in the U.S. today by American companies….

The latest effort at gaming the system is a circumvention filing by Auxin Solar to the Department of Commerce. Their filing claims that certain solar panel parts originate from countries that should be subject to antidumping and countervailing duties on their importation. A very similar claim was made and rejected last year, but as long as the system entertains these claims, they will keep coming.

This one company wants the U.S. government to make it prohibitively expensive for solar panel installers to buy their panels overseas from trading partners that the nation needs and that are providing critical value along the supply chain. The company making the complaint is hoping that the government will force all American solar companies to source the panels from a tiny group of U.S. assemblers that includes them at a huge cost and no benefit to anyone else.

Oligarchs’ war on the experiment of republican self-government

Tax Regime: An interview with Robin Einhorn

[Phenomenal World, via Naked Capitalism 3-27-2022]

[Robin] Einhorn’s second book, American Taxation, American Slavery, argues that hostility to taxation in America originated with slaveholders who worried about protecting their property from non slaveholding majorities. Whereas northern colonies developed comprehensive property tax systems, enforced by local officials, southern colonies create a lenient tax code friendly to the growth of slavery, with long term consequences for American state institutions….

RE: In mid-nineteenth-century America, many aspects of government were structured in a manner which bypassed public debate. One of the most highly regarded state-level laws among economists was the “uniformity clause,” which stated that all forms of property had to be assessed the same way and taxed at the same rate. Well, why would you want to do that? Economists in the twentieth century argued that the clause would ensure that industry paid its fair share. This was a story about democracy in the West, in line with Frederick Jackson Turner’s famous frontier thesis.

I made a list of the order in which states inserted this clause into their constitutions, and found that the economists had it wrong. The first state to develop this rule was Maryland, in 1776. A series of southern states, along with Illinois, which had slavery at the time, followed. When I looked at the language, I noticed new peculiarities: in Tennessee, the clause stated that “no one species of property on which a tax shall be collected, shall be taxed higher than any other species of property of equal value.” As a nineteenth century historian, I knew that the term “species of property” was a reference to slavery. Through this process, I realized how important slavery was to these uniformity clauses in state constitutions….

NM: It is useful to think of fiscal history as a story of struggle over the demarcation of spheres for legitimate public debate. This is especially interesting in the American context, where propertyless citizens had the right to vote, and consequently we see the emergence of these protected decision-making spheres. We could frame the entire fiscal history of the United States in the nineteenth century around the efforts of those who own the property to shield themselves from public arenas where they would be forced to negotiate with the rest of the population over how to distribute burdens and rewards.

RE: The upper South states in the 1830s and 1840s are a perfect case of that. With the elimination of property qualifications for suffrage, a growing number of non-slaveholding yeomen in the western parts of North Carolina, northern Georgia, or eastern Tennessee, were enfranchised. They demanded more representation in the legislature. They want reapportionment, which slaveholders feared would lead to the abolition of slavery. The yeomen wanted roads and schools, the slaveholders worried they would tax slavery out of existence. This is the fear expressed by Hinton Helper in the Impending Crisis, a book which spread through the South in 1857.

The deal became that reapportionment in the legislature could take place only if the non-slaveholders agreed that their land and livestock would be taxed at the same rate as slaves and land and livestock. They could try and get their roads and schools, but not by taxing slavery at a higher rate.

Howard Historian Daryl Scott on ‘Grievance History,’ the 1619 Project and the ‘Possibility that We Rend Ourselves on the Question of Race’ (interview)

[The 74, via Naked Capitalism 3-28-2022]

It’s the collapse of multiculturalism. What brought it to a head was the arrival of Barack Obama, and what that meant to people on both sides of the political divide. One side thought it would mean racial progress, in the sense that the needs of the Black community would be better met. There’d be affordable education, affordable housing, and we’d have more progressive politics. The other side said, in effect, “They’re now playing quarterback, and we’re represented by a guy who’s not like us.” And what better way to express that than by saying he was a Muslim born in Kenya?

I trace a straight line going all the way back to the 1960s and the end of the white supremacist Democratic Party. Some of those people found a home in the Republican Party — for a price. The price of the ticket was this: “We’ll talk about and the excesses of liberalism on race, but we’re not a white supremacist party, and we’re going to keep you in the background.” And by the time you got to Obama, the people who had been in the Klan had retreated from politics. They couldn’t articulate their racism fully until Trump came along. There was an acceptance of a multicultural society where Republicans would elect people like Bobby Jindal and Tim Scott and tell you that diversity was our strength. But after Trump, multiculturalism dies out on that side.

On the left, it dies out as well. It dies out because people thought they were getting a return to Great Society liberalism with race-conscious programs for Black people, and a lot of those folks were disillusioned. With the economic decline of the 2010s, Black wealth dropped precipitously, and it’s as if the Civil Rights Movement had done nothing for Black people economically. There’s a denial about the society-wide growth of inequality, and instead of this being talked about in class terms, it gets talked about in racial terms.

“The Truth About Bama Rush Is Hiding in Plain Sight”

[New York Magazine, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 3-29-2022]

“A 2014 study from Cornell University found that despite the fact that only 2 percent of Americans join a fraternity, 80 percent of Fortune 500 executives and 76 percent of U.S. senators and congressmen were fraternity members.”

Information age dystopia

The Workaday Life of the World’s Most Dangerous Ransomware Gang 

[Wired, via Naked Capitalism 4-2-2022]

How Your Shadow Credit Score Could Decide Whether You Get an Apartment 

[ProPublica, via Naked Capitalism 4-2-2022]

I Want You Back: Getting My Personal Data From Amazon Was Weeks of Confusion and Tedium

[The Intercept, via Naked Capitalism 3-28-2022]

“Disappeared”: Chris Hedges Responds to YouTube Deleting His 6-Year Archive of RT America Shows 

[DemocracyNow!, via Naked Capitalism 4-2-2022]

Democrats’ political suicide

Democrats Creating Their Own October Surprise

Jon Walker, March 30, 2022 [The American Prospect]

Imminent congressional inaction on Affordable Care Act subsidies will doom 14 million people, the party’s midterm chances, and health care reform for a decade.

The Corporate Threat In Dems’ Must-Win Senate Race

Julia Rock & Andrew Perez, March 29, 2022 [The Lever]

An outside group planning to attack Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman for supporting single-payer health care is being led by a consultant whose firm works for the health insurance giant Cigna, documents show.

The super PAC, Penn Progress, says it is supporting conservative Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb in the Pennsylvania race because he represents the party’s “strongest chance to flip the seat” — despite the group’s own polling data finding that Fetterman, the lieutenant governor, is trouncing Lamb in the primary and performing better than Lamb against at least one top Republican candidate, according to reporting by Politico.

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 4-1-2022]

A Google billionaire’s fingerprints are all over Biden’s science office

[Politico, via Naked Capitalism 3-29-2022]

“The Corporate Threat In Dems’ Must-Win Senate Race”

[The Lever, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 3-29-2022]

“The super PAC, Penn Progress, says it is supporting conservative Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb in the Pennsylvania race because he represents the party’s ‘strongest chance to flip the seat’ — despite the group’s own polling data finding that Fetterman, the lieutenant governor, is trouncing Lamb in the primary and performing better than Lamb against at least one top Republican candidate, according to reporting by Politico. While Fetterman might actually be Democrats’ best chance to take the seat, Politico obtained a slide deck prepared for donors showing that Penn Progress is preparing to attack Fetterman as a “socialist” who supports a “government takeover of health care.” These are standard talking points used by Republicans and corporate health care propagandists — which makes sense, given the super PAC’s ties to the industry. Penn Progress’ executive director, Erik Smith, leads a communications firm that works for Cigna, one the nation’s largest health insurers, according to a corporate financial filing.”

“Senate Turns Back David Weil as Labor’s Top Wage-Hour Enforcer”

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 3-31-2022]

“The Senate Wednesday turned back President Joe Biden’s nomination of David Weil as the U.S. Department of Labor’s top wage-hour regulator…. Weil came under criticism from business groups and Republicans over his scrutiny of gig-economy companies’ labor practices since that time. … Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who expressed concerns about Weil’s nomination last year, voted ‘no’ in the procedural vote. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) also voted ‘no.’”

The Shame of Corporate Democrats

Robert Kuttner, April 1, 2022 [The American Prospect]

The failure of Manchin, Sinema, and Kelly to confirm David Weil as the top official cracking down on wage theft is not principled moderation. It’s all about corporate money.

David Weil’s Defeat on the Senate Floor Is an Outrage

Timothy Noah, March 31, 2022 [The New Republic]

What’s the point of a Democratic Party if it isn’t going to protect the interests of working people?

….As I’ve written before (herehere, and here), Weil was opposed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the International Franchise AssociationHeritage Action for America, the National Taxpayers Union, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and various others because when he ran the Wage and Hour Division under President Barack Obama, he tried to revive the pitiful enforcement of labor laws on the books since the 1930s. Businesses had gotten used to these laws going largely unenforced, and they didn’t cotton to Weil reversing their de facto repeal of New Deal protections on overtime pay, minimum wage, Social Security, and other matters.

“Amazon hired an influential Democratic pollster to fight Staten Island union drive”

[CNBC, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 3-31-2022]

“Amazon tapped an influential consulting and polling firm with close ties to Democratic political groups to help the company thwart a critical unionization effort at a Staten Island, New York, warehouse, CNBC has learned. Global Strategy Group, which served as a polling partner for a pro-Biden super PAC ahead of the 2020 election, has been working for Amazon since at least late last year to produce anti-union materials, according to documents viewed by CNBC.”

“Is The Timing Right To Take On The Hudson County Democratic Machine?” [Down with Tyranny, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 4-1-2022]

“Conservative Democrat Albio Sires is retiring from Congress, basically to make room for a little nepotism, specifically for the son of corrupt New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez. The mostly Hudson County district– which includes Hoboken, Elizabeth, Union City, West New York, Weekawken, Harrison, parts of Jersey City, Kearny and Bayonne and about half of Newark– is a majority Hispanic district that was D+46 before redistricting and is now D+47. The Democratic primary is the election. Most of the Democrats who wanted to run when Sires said he was retiring have given up, afraid to piss off Menendez Sr and the venal Hudson County Democratic machine. But there’s one brave soul running against them– and we invited him to introduce himself today.” David Ocampo: “I’m not saying that this will be an easy election, but it’s winnable. Autocracies are at their most vulnerable during the transition of power from one generation to the next. When voters in New Jersey’s 8th District step into the ballot box on June 7th, they’ll be faced with a clear question: is it okay for someone to inherit a Congressional seat?”

The Democratic Party’s Biggest Problem Is Its Conservative Wing 

Ryan Cooper, March 21, 2022 [The American Prospect]

Rep. Stephanie Murphy got everything she wanted, and it’s a disaster, so she’s retiring…. It’s notable that Murphy doesn’t mention a single item in BBB that she opposed, much less that would bring socialism to our shores. Nor does she provide any evidence whatsoever that destroying Biden’s agenda was even helpful to her politically. That’s probably because the particulars of BBB poll at about 65 to 70 percent support. Letting Medicare negotiate prescription drug prices, for instance, polls at 4-to-1 support—and it’s something Democrats have been promising to do for almost two decades straight. By the same token, even a passing familiarity with peer nations renders her notion that Biden’s agenda is some kind of Bolshevik revolution totally unhinged. It wouldn’t be out of place in a center-right German party platform, let alone the Nordic social democracies.

And now, instead of fighting it out in a district that might be more Republican-leaning after redistricting (maps are not out yet), but would surely still be worth a shot, she’s giving up. Like so many centrists, she got everything she asked for, the party’s prospects have been trashed as a direct consequence, and now it’s everyone’s fault but her own.

Conservative / Libertarian Drive to Civil War

Death Penalty for Abortions Becomes Pivotal Issue in GOP Runoff in Texas 

[Newsweek, via Naked Capitalism 3-29-2022]

The Bottomless Corruption of Ginni and Clarence Thomas 

[New Republic, via Naked Capitalism 3-29-2022]

The Money Trail to the Ginni Thomas Emails to Overturn Biden’s Election Leads to Charles Koch

Pam Martens and Russ Martens, March 28, 2022 [Wall Street on Parade]

The QAnon Style of Politics Is Taking Over America — This isn’t a conspiracy theory. It’s the conspiracy itself.

Jason Linkins, April 2, 2022 [The New Republic]

The truth is, QAnon is just a new digital patch for an old way of doing conservative politics, something that TNR’s Melissa Gira Grant and, more recently, Jezebel’s Kylie Cheung have done a great job teasing out. Grant has long argued that QAnon is only a “slightly moderated form of the child sex trafficking paranoia” that has long been “utterly mainstream.” Cheung notes that the “rise of cultural lore about supposed pedophilia and child sexual abuse at daycare centers in the 1980s was deployed as part of anti-feminist backlash against mothers for supposedly endangering their kids by dropping them off at daycare to go to work.” TNR contributor Talia Lavin goes even further, placing the roots of the QAnon style of American politics all the way back in the twelfth century.

New Documentary by Frontline and ProPublica Reveals Origins of the Stolen Election Myth 


The Lesson in Republicans’ Alarming Embrace of “Classical Education”

Annie Abrams, March 30, 2022  [The New Republic]

Religious charter schools are plainly a threat to pluralistic society. But should liberals learn something from them?

To promote classical charters, the GOP is rebranding as the party that nourishes human flourishing and intellectualism, inconsistent as this posture may be with its actual policies. The shift demands scrutiny. Adherents to the movement are building an infrastructure that includes conferencestraining, and credentialing programs. At the center of this activity is Jeremy Wayne Tate, a podcast host and the CEO of an organization offering an alternative to the SAT and ACT called the Classic Learning Test, or CLT. The movement’s worship of hierarchy is clear in the CLT’s insistence that “the most important exam” should test the “most important ideas, texts, and subjects.” According to Tate, the problem with the College Board, which offers the SAT and AP exams, is that it tries to “censor the entire Christian intellectual tradition.” This complaint is patently absurd—Martin Luther King Jr., to take just one example, appears frequently in SAT prep. The real danger of the College Board, a $1.3 billion business, is its perverse financial incentive to crush the intellectual vitality of students and teachers alike by insisting on the centrality of multiple-choice standardized exams. Far from redressing this problem, the CLT reproduces and builds on it.



Open Thread


Another Stock Up Moment


  1. Z

    I predicted a few weeks back that protests would be raging throughout Europe within a month due to increases in food and fuel costs from Biden’s Sanctions. I tend to be overly optimistic about such things though largely due to a yet to be validated belief that the human race has some collective consciousness that will eventually kick in and bring together a critical mass of us when our species’ survival is threatened.

    There is some fire to report on that front though:

    I also read today that German retailers plan on raising prices on food 20 to 50% tomorrow, but it was single sourced and sounds a little too crazy even for these times.

    Revolutions don’t start on pleasant, sunny days when the vast majority of people are well fed and happy. Things got to get pretty bad to get enough people off their cellphones chasing dopamine pings and willing to risk their lives. It’s going to require a huge international movement to turn this barge around that our rulers have steered into the swift current towards hell and the fact that Biden’s sanctions will existentially endanger so many people across so many countries at once does create the necessary conditions for such a movement.

    I’d imagine that if it happens one of the precursors to it will be anti-U.S. protests which involve burning down and pillaging U.S. businesses overseas. They’ll start in one country and eventually catch like wildfire. Toss into the bonfire some climate cataclysms in the northern hemisphere this summer and who knows …

    Our rulers have gotten extremely arrogant from enriching themselves while passing on costs onto the world’s working class and poor in their Financialization vs. Humanity campaign and their scheme of using Ukrainians and the rest of the world as fodder for their imperial ambitions and blaming it all on Putin is both transparent and reckless. I’ve read some folks stating that the U.S. forced Putin’s hand by pushing him into a war that the U.S. wanted in order to destroy him, and that may well be true, but Putin in turn forced the U.S. to toss a considerable largess into the poker pot in their gamble to remove him, the one that so much of their dominance is dependent upon: the supreme power of the U.S. dollar.


  2. Z

    One of the things that I found interesting about Guillermo Lira’s recent youtube on Ukraine and Victoria Nuland was that he said it is very strongly rumored that Israeli mercenaries were the ones who shot civilians in Kiev during the Maidan Revolution (((Coup))) in 2014. Also he mentioned that Nuland and her husband have strong ties with the Ukrainian-Jewish oligarch (Kolomoyskyi) who bankrolled Zelenskyy’s political career and presumably some of the considerable money that Zelenskyy has come into since he became president, which was uncovered somewhat in the Pandora Papers.

    There’s no way that Putin doesn’t understand that the majority of people that most want him out of power are Jewish-Zionists or that the Russian people, who we never heard much from in our media even prior the war, don’t remember the strong connection between the economic decimation of their country and Jewish-Zionists.

    One of the weaknesses IMO of Lira’s video on Nuland, and I believe Lira to be smart and insightful as well as a little too high on himself and possibly a bit too high on drugs at times (((which are commonly related))), was that though he talked of a Jewish-Zionist connection to the war, somewhat reluctantly, he went off into one of his romantic tangents that it was due to Eastern European Jewish generational bitterness about how Russia has treated Jews in the past, but he blissfully breezed over the importance of more recent Jewish-Zionist reasons for tensions with Putin such that Yeltsin top two economic advisors (Gaidar and Chubais) were Jewish (, almost the entirety (if not all) of the Harvard Boyz who economically raped Russia presumably with the invitations from Yeltsin’s economic advisors were Jewish (, the vast majority of the most powerful oligarchs that came out of that pillaging of Russia were also in fact Jewish (, and that Putin replaced their bribed and blackmailed politicians by fiat and ran most of those Jewish-Russian oligarchs out of Russia. Many of those oligarchs happened to end up finding refuge, along with a lot of their money, in Israel.

    Think they’re not bitter and vengeful towards Putin and that they can’t find ways to corrupt the U.S. government, in which the top three in Biden Administration’s State Department (Blinken, Nuland, and Haines) are also all Jewish-Zionists, towards pushing Putin to the brink on Ukraine? Sounds a lot more feasible and profound to me than Nuland being pissed about the way her grandfather was treated.


  3. Z

    One of the ways our rulers can attempt to head-off European protests against their bought-off and blackmailed leaders for obeying U.S. diktat’s on sanctions is to pour in aid somehow to those countries, in essence using the power of the U.S. dollar, which they’ll essentially print and pass over to Europe, for Europe to cover some of those increased food and fuel costs to their citizens in some way or another.

    Our rulers don’t have any plans to help U.S. citizens though, there’s no mentions about that because they don’t worry about us. They have their punitive economic system, their beefed up police, and, if need be, their robot dogs to keep us in line.

    It’s a bit dicier for the European leaders though. Their citizens expect more and they would be protesting about them being puppets for U.S. interests. That brings patriotism into it which potentially gets stronger every time they put down the protests.

    I read in an article recently from one of the statestream sources that said that Team Biden talked with European leaders recently because they were concerned that they might encourage Ukraine to come to a peace agreement with Putin to end the war. I bet.

    Germany holds a lot of power in this matter. I can’t imagine their fealty to the U.S. is going over well right now with their people and that their citizens are going to silently pay the price for it.


  4. Z

    I don’t agree with the conclusions of the article that I linked to earlier about Russian Shock Therapy, by the way, but it did get into who Yeltsin’s top economic advisors were.


  5. Z

    Excuse me, I meant who the Harvard Boyz were.


  6. VietnamVet

    “It no longer matters what caused who to do what: Putin attacked first and so Europe needs NATO now more than ever! It’s what everyone’s saying…. And that’s a massive downside of Putin’s war. He’s empowered all the worst people over here. They have the upper hand — more than ever before.”

    The real conspiracy is mankind’s addiction to greed and power with no thought to the consequences. The earth’s pinnacle solar energy consumer, human beings, in the last several hundreds of years, discovered and exploited solar generated fossil fuel to conquer the earth. But is now flailing around as recoverable, affordable, stored energy and minerals disappear.

    A million Americans have died in the last two years with COVID-19. A milestone left unnoticed in the world war. Dead because they don’t matter. Basically, there is not enough energy or resources left to provide healthcare for all Americans and to fund a campaign to eradicate the virus in the West.

    The most efficient way to transport humans, goods, and commodities is electrified steel wheels on rails. In the last 14 years China has built 23.500 miles of high speed rail. The USA none. California High Speed Rail is an expensive boondoggle that may one day carry 79 mph Amtrak trains or, if not, leave crumbling relics of a lost civilization in the Central Valley.

    The real question is why did the Kremlin snap? Sure, they were poked and prodded by the West so Chevron can gain access to Russia’s oil and gas fields. However, not mentioned is that their military has been privatized just like the West. They are mercenaries paid to fight endless unwinnable wars. The Ukraine War will keep going as long as each side’s logistic system keeps working. The withdrawal from Kiev, shows the dark underbelly of war. Russia, to save face, must now seize all of Donbass.

    Due to the world war and lack of rationing by the West’s dysfunctional governments, by next winter, Westerners will be dying in war, from the cold, and the lack of food. If lucky, they will be atomized instantly in a nuclear holocaust that seems to be unavoidable.

    The “big lie” corporate/state propaganda is to hide all of this.

    Unless there is a Reformation to build societies that can face the truth and work together, the invasion of Ukraine will simply accelerate the ongoing collapse of western civilization due to dissipation of energy and pollution of the earth.

  7. Z

    The accusations made that Russia executed civilians in Bucha doesn’t make it any more or less likely it happened because it’s pretty predictable our rulers had something like this up their sleeve … yellowcake uranium, Atta at a Prague cafe sharing croissants and coffee with an Iraqi agent … to try to get the public, including the European public, to keep on supporting their war against Putin.

    Could it be true? Sure, but if anyone says they know that it’s true after all the one-sided views we’ve heard from Ukraine and the U.S. statestream media you know they are selling it instead of telling it.

    But they have witnesses! Well, that proves it. We all know humans never lie.

    Our rulers want to impose upon our consciousness the guilt trip that if you don’t support the war that you don’t care about innocent civilians being killed and they’re turning the situation inside out when its actually the other way around.

    They are all in on this war, their credibility and the power of the U.S. dollar is on the line, and they do not want Ukraine to reach a peace agreement that would in fact save Ukrainian civilians’ lives.


  8. Soredemos

    Russia doesn’t have to ‘save face’. Eliminating the Ukrainian Donbass front was always their primary goal, and the feint towards Kiev was part of that plan. It’s interesting to watch a Vietnam veteran just blindly accept western media narratives of a war. You literally lived through your own era of lies and experienced epic deceit first hand.

    Also, there’s been speculation since the start of the invasion that at some point a chemical attack false flag would be staged. That may still happen, but might I also suggest that the current claims that Russia decided to (why? Oh, right, Ivan is just evil, of course, how could I forget) massacre 400+ civilians right before withdrawing* and just leave the bodies for the Ukrainians to conveniently discover amount to the same thing.

    Until I see real evidence of hundreds of bodies, and evidence Russia killed them, I completely disbelieve this entire narrative. Just as I completely disbelieve the absurd casualty figures Ukraine keeps claiming Russia has suffered (tens of thousands dead in a month? Pull the other one, it’s got bells on).

    I do think the corpses on the street from that one video are real, but I note they all seem to have white wrapped around their arms, which is something people adopted to show their support for Russian. I think what we’re actually seeing is the aftermath of a Ukrainian reprisal purge, which they then filmed and blamed on Russia.

    *also the timeline doesn’t make any sense. The town was retaken three days ago, yet Ukraine has only started claiming to have found bodies in the streets in the last 24 hours.

  9. Ché Pasa

    It doesn’t much matter what we contrarians believe or don’t believe any more — if it ever did. Narratives are set, the propaganda is intense, and the fact that we see things differently is in line with GWB’s infamous retort to someone who questioned the Iraq invasion lies: “Who cares what you think!”

    I was at some of the anti-Iraq-invasion demonstrations. We probably forget, but they were enormous, huge outpourings of people in the streets objecting to the impending or actual catastrophe unleashed on Afghanistan, Iraq and then spreading throughout the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia… and on and on.

    We were right, and it didn’t matter. We couldn’t stop it; we couldn’t influence it in any way.

    Now we’re in a situation where we didn’t choose to be in a war with Russia, but we have no choice. It’s happening despite our objections. We’re overwhelmed with lies and propaganda. We know it and our rulers don’t care that we know it because they are intent on their plans laid many years ago to undo the Russian Federation, scatter the parts and abscond with the spoils. They get all. We get nothing but more misery and hardship.

    Our rulers are not just fighting to the last Ukrainian to fulfill their objectives, they’ve enlisted all of us in their campaign to take and destroy Russia in preparation for their hostile acquisition of the real prize, China.

    I’ve been seeing some “On to Moscow! Burn the Kremlin! Hang Putin!” rah-rah-ing based on the fantasies of Victorious Ukrainian… Nazis. But since they are “our” Nazis, there’s nothing they can’t do.

    We may think our rulers are out of their minds, and they are, but they don’t care.

    You see? They don’t care.

    Knowing about it while being unable to do anything about it while they go about their bloody business of conquest and destruction… it’s hard to find any light in this looming darkness.

    Ah but outside my window, the sun is shining and the birds are singing. The trees are starting to bud and the tulips and daffodils are up.


  10. someofparts

    Z – Thank you for all your great work in this thread. I listened to the Gonzalo Lira thing about Nuland and learned a lot. Even so, you have filled out the picture in more detail. The things you spell out do indeed explain the situation better than mere ancestral animus.

  11. Willy

    It’s easy to see how western media is compelled to lean things in the neoliberal direction, by their corporate advertisers which feeds them. It’s even easier to see how Russian media is compelled to lean things in the Putin direction, which will harm them if they don’t. While one might lose some profits in a less “free” world, the other could lose a lot more if they go against Putin.

    It seems easier for leftists to just support the masses who want less of either.

  12. different clue


    Since I don’t have my own computer at home, my screen-time is limited to time-not-working at my place of work, or visits to the public library computers. So I cannot follow all the narratives with the thoroughness and time-investment of those who have their own home computers at home.

    So given that constraint, I sort of try following the various narratives while not being sure of what or whom to believe about what.

    Colonel Lang has been dismissed by left wing thinkers for his analyses of Russian military weakness and failures in this endeavor. But I would note that it was Colonel Lang himself who first warned us about false-flag chemical attacks in Ukraine, probably being engineered by the same British Intelligence conspirators who helped arrange them and pretty-them-up in Syria. Here is his post on the subject ( which appears to be a repost from something called “grayzone”.

    As left-wing readers read this post ( if they read it) , I would suggest they set aside their stereotypically reflexive belief in “EUrope and NATO” as America’s lapdogs, and consider the possibility that NATO is a decades-long European and British conspiracy against America itself, to trick America into wars for Europe’s and Britain’s benefit in collusion with America’s own pro-British anti-American ruling elite. Wouldn’t EuroBritain just love for America and Russia to destroy eachother in a war so that EuroBritain could then ooze up out of the rubble and rule what is left of the world.

  13. Lex

    Nuland is the lynchpin of the Ukraine mess, though Lira goes a little too conspiracy theory on it with the whole jewish-zionist angle. It’s much more simple. Brzezinski was her mentor at Harvard and he was absolutely fixated on Ukraine as the source or destruction of Russian power. To that you can add the PNAC connection with Kagan and world domination fantasies. And to that you can add that the US intelligence connections among Ukrainians has tended towards the OUN-UPA types since 1945.

    Brzezinski got her her first gig at DoS under Strobe Talbot but she was also Cheney’s deputy chief of staff for foreign affairs. And she was Biden’s point person for Ukraine in the Obama administration when Biden was the pointman for Ukraine in the Obama admin. Her best Ukrainian contacts back around 2014 were the Right Sector guys and that’s probably because DoS has morphed into the public facing organization of CIA.

    Nuland put the Right Sector types in power after Maidan because they were effective, hate Russians and were most likely to either provoke Russia or break Ukraine off from Russia permanently. The whole ethnic cleansing angle was probably viewed as an unfortunate byproduct but at least they were just Russians. Kolomoisky is clearly the Dems Ukrainian oligarch of choice. It appears that Kerry’s stepson, Pelosi’s kid and Biden’s kid have been on his payroll. He owns Burisma and Zelensky. But the Jewish angle is relatively pointless in Ukrainian and Russian politics.

    For one, finding someone from the wide area formerly known as the Pale of Settlement without any Jewish heritage is probably difficult. But more importantly, Jews were the first people allowed to emigrate from the USSR so lots of people found Jewish heritage as it made access to Israel, the US and even Europe much easier. It’s why “Jewish” Ukrainians have so little problem supporting anti-Semitic fascists and it’s why the Ukrainian fascists tolerate “Jewish” leaders like Zelensky. He’s good cover because “How can Ukraine have nazis with a Jewish president?!”

  14. Z

    different clue,

    Yeah sure, I can see it, it makes sense: Britain and the other European countries want the world’s two greatest nuclear powers to destroy each other so that they can share the ashes of what’s left.


  15. Z


    You’re welcome.

    Yeah, listening to Lira is useful IMO, if you want to get an on-the-ground, more objective account of what is going on than what we get from the Ukrainian Ministry of Truth and the U.S. statestream media. I hope he stays safe.

    The NYZ Times, the Grey Jezebel, our rulers’ paper of propaganda, is pushing heavily to blame Russia for the civilian deaths in Bucha, something that they can’t actually confirm but will do their best to mislead the world into believing that they have.

    This is all very predictable. The tidal wave of higher food and fuel costs are about to hit shore and they need some sensationalism to gird up public support, or at least create enough to divide the public, for Biden’s sanctions and the war itself.

    Again, it could even be true, maybe some Russian unit executed a bunch of civilians in Bucha, how would we know, we weren’t there, but the fact that the NYZ Times says it is doesn’t make it any more or less likely that it is.


  16. different clue

    Zbiggie-poo Burrzinsky was descended from one of the Zlachta ( Fine Old Polish Noble) Families in-around the Greater Galicia area from when it was a Polish possession. Perhaps his hatred for Russia is rooted in his grievance over his ancestors losing all their power and position and wealth and privilege in one of the Partitions of Poland.

    Here is a wiki article about the Szlachta ( wiki spelling) and it is pretty long, which says to me that this subject is considered so obscure that no one has come by to edit it, reverse-edit it, sabotage it, vandalize it, etc.

  17. Ché Pasa

    Lira is informative for those who haven’t been following along for years and years, but I’d recommend caution. He takes too long to get to the point, and sometimes when he does, there is no point.

    I didn’t know Nuland’s family history before he explained it all, but her actions alone for years were enough for me to infer that she was of Ukrainian Jewish ancestry and her ancestors must have experienced, survived and escaped from Czarist pogroms. Kagan (her husband) is just a hater, as far as I can tell. So many Jews with Eastern European, Ukrainian or Russian ancestors are not haters but the Kagans, Kristols and Nulands most assuredly are.

    That they have such an influence on US foreign policy is terrible, but I think it is wrong to think that “Nuland is behind all of it.” She’s part of the US foreign policy nexus, but she isn’t “it.” She carries out policy set elsewhere by other people — who no doubt listen to her input, sometimes agreeing with her, other times no. But she’s not in charge, and when she’s tried for war crimes, that will be among her defenses.

    Whatever the case, our system has no way to thwart or control these people. The systems instead encourage and support them. The rest of us get to trail along or do our damnedest to stay out of the way.

    We’re not getting out of this World War unscathed.

  18. VietnamVet

    My maternal Grandfather immigrated to Canada and then the USA to avoid Sweden’s WWI draft. It was voluntary and turned out well for him although he was identified as such by his Swedish accent.

    The Balkans are the cradle of war. The generational hatreds from there were not forgotten by those who were forced to leave and ended up in North America or by their descendants. When Globalists sing “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” there is a basic disconnect with them and the offspring who work in the revolving door executive branch, intelligence agencies, military contractors, and NGOs. The Imperialists are simply great at stoking ethnic conflicts to settle old scores, preserving the Empire, and getting paid too.

    When the participants, armed with nuclear weapons, are in an ethnic war like the Russian Ukraine Conflict; the haters won’t acknowledge that they are pushing a war that will likely cause severe food and energy shortages in the West and could escalate into a nuclear extinction event. The only way out is if Ukraine is partitioned with access to the Black Sea and a peace treaty is signed with Russia quickly.

    There will be no winners in a Forever War between Europe/North America and Russia/China.

  19. Z

    One of the things that makes a sentient human being suspicious about the claims of Russian troops executing people in Bucha is the lightning-quick sales job by the U.S. and Ukraine on it. Their immediate, hysterionic uproar about it … atrocities! horror! … and the bum rush to conclusions.

    There are some pointing out that at least some of the bodies appear to be near mortar blast holes. There hasn’t been many, if any, photos of bullet holes in any of the victims from what I’ve read.

    Looking at the zoomed out overhead of all the people killed on the street, one of the things I’m stricken by is that it looks to me like the spacing of those bodies is what you might expect to see of an infantry unit, patrolling a street on either side when they got hit by artillery fire. Almost all the bodies were on a side of the road too. None appear to be hiding behind cover.

    Could Ukraine have tossed some civilian clothes on a group of dead soldiers who got killed by artillery fire while on patrol ? It’s certainly possible.

    It does make one wonder about the mix of those victims. In particular, how many were men? And what’s their ages?


  20. different clue

    Here’s a you tube video about how 2 Russian soldiers have died and others very sickened after eating poisoned pies given to them by Ukrainian civilians. Is this even true?

    If it is, it is both a nasty and stupid thing to do. Nasty for reasons that nice people don’t need to have explained to them. Stupid because it will make Russian soldiers much more hateful and much more willing to “crush, kill, destroy” then they might have been before this incident . . . if it really happened.

  21. Willy

    A teachable moment, dc. Maybe the next time we invade somebody else’s country and shell their grandmas apartment, don’t be accepting any pies. Especially if Dear Leader promised us the invadees would be welcoming us with open arms, and lotsa pies.

  22. different clue

    ” Careful of that pie. It could be from the Unabaker.”

  23. bruce wilder

    . . . it is both a nasty and stupid thing to do. Nasty for reasons that nice people don’t need to have explained to them. Stupid because it will make Russian soldiers much more hateful and much more willing to “crush, kill, destroy” then they might have been before this incident . . . if it really happened

    Fixed it for you. Doesn’t matter whether “it” “really happened”, does it?

    Those who will be motivated by such a story in one manner or another will; and quite a few who have discovered their own virtue will make such use of this bit of “intelligence” (as they say when “assessing” their little hearts out between broadcasts of disinformation).

  24. different clue

    @Bruce Wilder,

    If it really happened. Fixed it back for you.

    It really matters to me if it really happened or not. The people who will choose to believe in it or not believe in it whether they know whether it happened or not are not my responsibility, even if they find a way to make themselves my problem.

  25. Soredemos

    @different clue

    Lang is a crazy cold warrior nutjob. He’s ecstatic at the prospect of dead Russians. I completely ignore him jumping on every absurd bit of propaganda he comes across that portrays Russia as failing, but it is interesting that even he is super skeptical of any suggestion of Russia using chemical weapons.

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