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

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 18, 2019

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 18, 2019
by Tony Wikrent
Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus

[TomDispatch, via Naked Capitalism 8-16-19]

How the Supreme Court Is Rebranding Corruption — Ciara Torres-Spelliscy

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy [via Mike Norman Economics 8-8-19]
Summary of “Deregulating Corruption,” (pdf) Harvard Law & Policy Review, Vol. 13, No. 2, 2019

From its very first term, the Roberts Supreme Court has been rebranding the meaning of the word “corruption” both in campaign finance cases as well as in white-collar crime cases. And in Kelly v. United States (better known as the Bridgegate case), the Supreme Court may do even greater damage to the concept of corruption.

What has the Roberts Supreme Court done to corruption? I discuss this in my recent Harvard Law & Policy Review article, “Deregulating Corruption,” and in my soon to be released book, Political Brands. First, they have narrowed the meaning of the word in a series of election law cases that address the constitutionality of various campaign finance laws. In cases like Citizens United v. FEC, which allowed corporations the First Amendment right to spend an unlimited amount of money on political ads, and McCutcheon v. FEC, which allows the rich to support as many congressional candidates as they want with contributions, the Roberts Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 that “corruption” only means quid pro quo exchanges.

This approach to corruption sets the Roberts Supreme Court apart from other Supreme Courts. For over a century, previous Supreme Courts upheld campaign finance laws and other regulations which try to keep graft and political intimidation at bay precisely because as the Supreme Court recognized in Ex parte Yarbrough in 1884, “[i]n a republican government like ours, where political power is reposed in representatives of the entire body of the people, chosen at short intervals by popular elections, the temptations to control these elections by violence and by corruption is a constant source of danger…. no lover of his country can shut his eyes to the fear of future danger from both sources…”

Even the Rehnquist Supreme Court—no bastion of liberals— was more thoughtful about political corruption than the Roberts Court is. For example, in 2003, the Rehnquist Supreme Court ruled in FEC v. Beaumont that there is a “public interest in ‘restrict[ing] the influence of political war chests funneled through the corporate form.’ …; ‘[S]ubstantial aggregations of wealth amassed by the special advantages which go with the corporate form of organization should not be converted into political ‘war chests’ which could be used to incur political debts from legislators.’”

In a twin 2003 decision, McConnell v. FEC, the Rehnquist Court asserted that the “crabbed view of corruption”—which would limit the term to actual quid pro quo corruption—“ignores precedent, common sense, and the realities of political fundraising.” The Roberts Court has rapidly put that capacious concept of political corruption in exile and knocked down nearly every campaign finance law it has been asked to review. (The Supreme Court left in place a ban on foreigners spending in US election and a ban on judges personally asking donors for money, but these are the exceptions that prove the rule.)

But wait, there’s more. The Roberts Supreme Court has also rebranded corruption by changing what counts as white-collar crimes. In Skilling v. US (a case brought by disgraced ex-CEO of Enron Jeff Skilling challenging his 24-year prison sentence for defrauding the company’s shareholders), the Supreme Court agreed with Skilling that he should not have been charged with honest services fraud because his crimes did not involve a bribe or a kickback. This Supreme Court decision led to Skilling getting 10 years shaved off of his original sentence. He was released from jail in 2018 and left his halfway house in 2019. He is now a free man.

Also in the criminal context, the Roberts Supreme Court invalidated the conviction of ex-Governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell. McDonnell, who had money troubles while he was Governor of Virginia, accepted money and gifts from a businessman named Jonnie Williams who wanted to sell his tobacco pills (I’m not making any of this up) to Virginia employees. The Governor set up a few meetings for Williams and once touted a bottle of the tobacco pills in a meeting.

In McDonnell v. US, the Supreme Court decided that none of what Governor McDonnell did was “an official act,” and thus he could not be guilty of a quid pro quo exchange with Williams. No one disputed that Williams had given the governor lots of money. What the Supreme Court didn’t buy was that the Governor did enough in return for the largess to constitute a crime.

Tom Hickey, who posted this at Mike Norman Economics, asks further:

Corruption isn’t a partisan matter. Both Democratic and Republican politicians have been accused of abusing their offices for private gain. And using the Roberts Supreme Court cases to their advantage is equally bipartisan….Is the intent to install plutonomy, the oligarchy of wealth, under the veneer of representative democracy?

Interestingly, in Western liberal “democracies”, the oligarchy of wealth called plutonomy is institutionally formalized through the “sanctity of private property,” which includes hereditary transfer of ownership through inheritance, establishing a wealthy elite in power across generations. Looks more like neo-feudalism.

The Failure of Establishment Neoliberal Economics

Lambert Strether adds: “It’s actually even worse than that since the commonly-cited measure of CEO pay lowballs it. See How the SEC Enabled the Gross Under-Reporing of CEO Pay. It looks as if the EPI used the conventional method for stock option valuation, which means the picture is even worse than they indicate.”
Life, Deferred: Student Debt Postpones Key Milestones for Millions of Americans
August 16, 2019 [openDemocracy, via Naked Capitalism 8-16-19]

Game over: Middle-class and poor kids are ditching youth sports

[CBS, via Naked Capitalism 8-16-19]

But the rising cost of playing sports, coupled with rising economic inequality, is increasingly leading poor and even middle-class families to hang up their cleats.

That trend is being fueled by the growth in “pay-to-play” sports, which is making organized athletics prohibitively expensive for many households. Participation in sports among families earning less than $75,000 has dropped since 2011, according to The Aspen Institute’s Project Play.

By contrast, children from better off families are participating in ever great numbers. About 7 of 10 children from families that earn more than $100,000 play sports, compared with 3 in 10 from families earning less than $25,000, the non-profit think tank found in a 2018 report.

[Business Insider, via Naked Capitalism 8-12-19]
[National Academy of Social Insurance, via Naked Capitalism 8-12-19]

“[Bob]. Rosenblatt takes us back to the decisive winter of 1965: A newly reelected President Johnson has large congressional majorities and is committed to the idea of Medicare. Writing as if he were witnessing for the first time the political and legislative events that transpired 50 years ago, Rosenblatt provides us with an informative (perhaps even entertaining) look at leaders in the 89th Congress and other major players. Covered is written with the recognition that the effort to get universal coverage, let alone health care for the elderly and low-income individuals, was – and continues to be – a decades-long fight.” • Ends with: “July 30, 1965 – Post 30 – Johnson Signs Historic Medicare Bill Assuring Health Coverage for Millions.”

Climate and environmental crises

[Below, Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 8-17-19]

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is melting and has probably passed the tipping point to its complete demise, causing a long-term sea-level rise of 3 meters. But is that our fault? That has long been unclear, but now a new paper in NatGeo finds: yes, it is.

The Antarctic ice sheet is melting and, yeah, it’s probably our fault.
Glaciers in West Antarctica have thinned and accelerated in the last few decades.  A new paper provides some of the first evidence that this is due to human activities.
[Real Climate, via Twitter 8-17-19]


“South America’s Glaciers May Have a Bigger Problem Than Climate Change” 

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism 8-16-19]

“Chile has one of the world’s largest reserves of fresh water outside the north and south poles, but the abundant glaciers that are the source of that precious commodity are melting fast. That’s not just an ecological disaster in the making, it’s rapidly becoming an economic and political dilemma for the government of Latin America’s richest nation. A toxic cocktail of rising temperatures, the driest nine-year period on record and human activity, including mining, is proving lethal for the ice of Chile’s central region. Built up over thousands of years, the ice mass is now retreating one meter per year on average. Glaciers happen to cover some of the massive copper deposits that make Chile the world’s largest producer of the metal, with about a third of the world’s copper output coming from its mines each year. Mining is key to Chile’s economy, making up 10% of its gross domestic product and comprising just over half its exports. That economic reality is at the heart of the government’s quandary, evaluating the trade-offs required to protect the environment while supporting an industry worth some $19 billion to the economy.”

[Climate Liability News, via Naked Capitalism 8-12-19]

[Mexico News Daily, via Naked Capitalism 8-12-19]

“The future of groundwater in sub-Saharan Africa” 

[Nature, via Naked Capitalism 8-13-19]

“The population of sub-Saharan Africa is currently about 1 billion, and is predicted to double by 2050 (, whereas the region’s climate is predicted to become drier during the same period1. Clearly, the demand for fresh water will increase. Whether groundwater can satisfy this demand is a looming question. Little is known about the rates at which water is replenished to groundwater aquifers in that region, and thus the rate of sustainable withdrawal. Writing in Nature, Cuthbert et al. identify the processes involved, and examine the long-term trends of aquifer replenishment in sub-Saharan Africa. The authors conclude that future drying climatic trends could affect surface-water supplies, but might not decrease groundwater supplies.”


“Insect ‘apocalypse’ in U.S. driven by 50x increase in toxic pesticides” 

[National Geographic, via Naked Capitalism 8-12-19]

“America’s agricultural landscape is now 48 times more toxic to honeybees, and likely other insects, than it was 25 years ago, almost entirely due to widespread use of so-called neonicotinoid pesticides… Using a new tool that measures toxicity to honey bees, the length of time a pesticide remains toxic, and the amount used in a year, [Kendra Klein, senior staff scientist at Friends of the Earth US] and researchers from three other institutions determined that the new generation of pesticides has made agriculture far more toxic to insects. Honey bees are used as a proxy for all insects… The study found that neonics accounted for 92 percent of this increased toxicity…. Regulatory agencies such as the EPA have concluded that seed treatment with neonics poses a low risk, [David Fischer, Chief Scientist and Director, Pollinator Safety, at Bayer Crop Science] wrote in an email.”

Republicans’ War on Science

USDA Chooses Kansas City as New Home for Two Research Agencies, in Move that Jeopardizes Science Research
[Union of Concerned Scientists, via Kansas City Star 7-16-19]

Against the backdrop of mounting staff resignations, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today named Kansas City as the new home of two critical research agencies within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The decision comes as opposition to the secretary’s reorganization reaches an all-time high. Droves of researchers are leaving their posts amid widespread concern about the politicization of federal science.

Below is a statement by Mike Lavender, senior manager of government affairs in the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“The damage was already done before Secretary Perdue made his decision. It was clear from the start that the Trump administration was systematically hollowing out USDA’s ability to produce objective science. The White House proposed budget cuts to eliminate research that’s inconvenient to its interests and at the same time they’ve created this unnecessary relocation crisis, which is driving off scientists who conduct that very research.

“This is a blatant attack on science and will especially hurt farmers, ranchers and eaters at a particularly vulnerable time. The House Agriculture Appropriations bill includes language to stop the move and we encourage the Senate to follow suit.


Fewer than half of USDA researchers will follow agency to Kansas City

Kansas City Star, July 16, 2019 [via DailyKos 8-11-19]

Fewer than half of the USDA researchers offered transfers from Washington, D.C., to Kansas City will follow their jobs here, the agency announced Tuesday.

But those who did decide to make the 1,000-mile journey still don’t know exactly where they’ll be working.

A USDA spokesperson told The Star that 72 employees in the ag department’s Economic Research Service accepted their transfer to Kansas City. Another 99 turned down the offer — a number that included employees who did not respond by a Monday deadline. In USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, 73 employees signed on to the transfer while another 151 turned it down.

The agriculture department has argued that moving to Kansas City will put researchers closer to farmers and drastically reduce expenses given the Midwest’s relatively lower cost of living. But many scientists — including the Union of Concerned Scientists — suspect that USDA’s relocation is meant to diminish USDA research.

The Milwaukee-based Agricultural and Applied Economic Association predicted the move could cost U.S. taxpayers upward of $182 million in lost productivity and research capacity.

Predatory Finance

Should This Be Illegal – Banks Recommending a Stock to the Public then Secretly Trading It in their own Dark Pool?
Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 16, 2019 [Wall Street on Parade]

Three of the four banks mentioned above, UBS, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, own Dark Pools that actively trade Citigroup’s stock every single week – in the dark. The public doesn’t get a look at what was traded in these Dark Pools until three weeks after the fact. And when that Dark Pool data is finally reported by Wall Street’s self-regulator, FINRA, it doesn’t show what day of the week the trades occurred or what time of day. The essential data that would allow a forensic investigator to see if there is funny business going on is missing.


Companies Use Borrowed Billions to Buy Back Stock, Not to Invest

[Bloomberg Businessweek, via The Big Picture 8-11-19]

“Uber Created a $6.1 Billion Dutch Weapon to Avoid Paying Taxes” 

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism 8-14-19]

“San Francisco-based Uber generated the outsized deduction before its initial public offering in May because it moved some of its offshore subsidiaries to different countries as a result of new European Union rules governing multinational companies. The $6.1 billion deduction came through an increase in the value of intellectual property that Uber transferred between its offshore subsidiaries, according to the company’s first quarterly filing. When an intangible asset increases in value, so do the tax deductions that come with its use over time. ‘It’s safe to say that Uber will not be paying any taxes for the foreseeable future,’ said Robert Willens, an independent tax and accounting expert in New York.”


“Colored Property & State Debt with David Freund” (interview)

[Freund, via Naked Capitalism 8-13-19]

“My first book–Colored Property–is centered on a story about the federal government’s role in creating a racially segregated housing market in the United States after World War II. Many people might be familiar with the story of the Federal Housing Administration and redlining…. Ultimately, it’s a story about mortgage lending and the creation of debt instruments… as I was encountering this story about money and debt, it seemed very odd to me. The documentary evidence showed me that government policy was creating debt instruments and that those debt instruments were creating conditions under which new homes were literally being built. Public policy was creating wealth. Meanwhile, I saw how those policies explicitly channeled that new wealth primarily to white people, especially to white men. People of color and single women were usually denied these new mortgages and this was by federal mandate. To me, that suggested that the government was creating wealth for some and not for others.”

Enemy Actions

They’re confirming judges who want to render us powerless to stop mass shootings.
[Slate, via The Big Picture 8-11-19]

Shortly after the El Paso, Texas, shooting on Saturday, the New York Times published an article that inadvertently presaged Republicans’ nonresponse to the imminent bloodbath. Senate Republicans, the Times noted, have passed virtually no legislation of any kind so far this year. In the face of mounting crises, the Senate’s GOP leaders have allowed little deliberation and few votes. They certainly won’t bring H.R. 8, a universal background check bill that already passed the House of Representatives, to the floor.

Instead, the Senate operates as “an approval factory” for Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, the Times found. Under Trump, the Senate has confirmed two Supreme Court justices, 99 district courts judges, and 43 federal court of appeals judges. Today, nearly 1 in 4 judges on the powerful courts of appeals was nominated by Trump. The president is reshaping the judiciary in the image of the Republican Party’s far-right conservative wing.

It would be a mistake to claim that the Senate has taken no action on gun control. While the House passes gun safety measures, the Senate installs judges who are eager to strike such measures down. Republican lawmakers have taken the long view: They may lose majorities in Congress and state legislatures, but Trump’s judges will sit on the bench for decades to come. Any future firearms restrictions may be invalidated; many existing gun safety laws are in serious jeopardy. The GOP may have no plan to stop mass shootings, but it does have a plan to ensure that Democrats can’t stop them, either.

Health Care Crisis

[Below graph, conversableeconomist.blogspot.com, via Naked Capitalism 8-15-19]


“Some labor unions split with Biden on ‘Medicare for All’”

[Politico, via Naked Capitalism 8-12-19]

“Those supporting Medicare for All — or at least not yet ruling it out — say health care increasingly dominates contract battles, consuming bargaining power that could instead be directed toward raising wages and improving working conditions. ‘When we’re able to hang on to the health plan we have, that’s considered a massive win,’ Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, told POLITICO. ‘But it’s a huge drag on our bargaining. So our message is: Get it off the table.’” • Nelson would make a fine Secretary of Labor in a Sanders administration.

Information Age Dystopia

Google’s War on Publisher Paywalls
[BIG by Matt Stoller, via Naked Capitalism 8-11-19]

Creating new economic potential – science and technology

Ebola Is Now Curable
[Wired, via Naked Capitalism 8-13-19]


NASA 3D Printed Habitat Challenge champions AI SpaceFactory discuss the trials and tribulations of 3D printing and robotic construction.
David Malott, CEO and Chief Architect, AI SpaceFactory, May 20, 2019 [ , via Naked Capitalism 8-11-19]

MARSHA is our prototype Mars habitat, robotically 3D printed with materials indigenous to Mars. AI SpaceFactory was awarded in both the design and construction phases of NASA’s four year long, multi phase challenge, culminating in a thrilling 30 hour head-to-head final versus Penn State. We dubbed our 15-foot tall 3D printed prototype ‘MARSHA-alpha’, meaning it was our first attempt at constructing MARSHA, and certainly not our last….

So looking back, what are the lessons learned from MARSHA-alpha?

  • First, we developed a sustainable and recyclable material, made essentially of plants and rock, which outperformed concrete in every strength, durability, freeze-thaw, and quality test
  • Second, our material can be successfully extruded to create complex, high-performance forms with speed and precision. Since our material is recyclable, we can go out and print our Earth habitat version this summer
  • Third, we can use a single robot to both 3D print the structure and to autonomously place pipes, windows, and (next time) a skylight
  • Fourth, 3D printed construction is far from a fully autonomous process and requires human eyes on the print, practice, and improvisation
  • Fifth, we succeeded in printing what is believed to be the world’s tallest in-situ 3D printed structure in just 30 hours. Chris believes, “As far as our material is concerned we could print taller. The height itself doesn’t seem to be the problem. Someday it will be possible to 3D print a skyscraper.”
Want to Achieve High-Volume Laboratory and Biopharma Throughput?
[Machine Desigm Today 8-14-19]

Recently, Synchron and Festo applied assembly line strategies with Industry 4.0 concepts to laboratory automation for the extraction of plant DNA for an agricultural genetics company. This first-of-its-kind DNA extraction device increased output from an industry average of about 5,000 extractions per day to up to 40,000—an eightfold increase. The key to the device’s success is an ordinary conveyor transporting samples from process to process.

Disrupting mainstream politics

Bernie Against the Beltway
[Jacobin, via Naked Capitalism 8-11-19]


Here’s The Net Worth Of Every 2020 Presidential Candidate

[Forbes, via Naked Capitalism 8-15-19]

“The Campaign Press: Members of the 10 Percent, Reporting for the One Percent”

Matt Taibbi [Rolling Stone, via Naked Capitalism 8-16-19]

The news media is now loathed in the same way banks, tobacco companies, and health insurance companies are, and it refuses to understand this. Mistakes like WMDs are a problem, but the media’s biggest issue is exactly its bubble-ness, and clubby inability to respond to criticism in any way except to denounce it as misinformation and error. Equating all criticism of media with Trumpism is pouring gasoline on the fire….

Anyone who’s worked in the business (or read Manufacturing Consent) knows nobody calls editors to red-pencil text. The pressure comes at the point of hire. If you’re the type who thinks Jeff Bezos should be thrown out of an airplane, or that it’s a bad look for a DC newspaper to be owned by a major intelligence contractor, you won’t rise. Meanwhile, the Post has become terrific at promoting Jennifer Rubins and Max Boots. Reporters watch as good investigative journalism about serious structural problems dies on the vine, while mountains of column space are devoted to trivialities like Trump tweets and/or simplistic partisan storylines. Nobody needs to pressure anyone. We all know what takes will and will not earn attaboys in newsrooms. Trump may have accelerated distaste for the press, but he didn’t create it. He sniffed out existing frustrations and used them to rally anger toward ‘elites’ to his side. The criticism works because national media are elites, ten-percenters working for one-percenters. The longer people in the business try to deny it, the more it will be fodder for politicians. Sanders wasn’t the first, and won’t be the last.”


“Koch brothers funded centrist Democratic group Third Way, according to new book” 

[Salon, via Naked Capitalism 8-14-19]

“Koch Industries secretly funded a report by Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank, to sell liberals on their trade agenda, according to the new book “Kochland” by investigative reporter Christopher Leonard. The Kochs enlisted the help of Third Way, a corporate-funded centrist group that has long opposedprogressive populists like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, after the Democrats won control of Congress in 2006…. The report was released in 2007 in coordination with two members of Congress, Rep. Joe Crowley of New York and Rep. Melissa Bean of Illinois.”

“The outreach to Third Way was far from the Kochs’ only effort to influence Democratic politics, although it has been more customary for the billionaire brothers to back Republicans. Koch Industries was also a member of the executive council of the Democratic Leadership Council, another centrist group aimed at countering progressives inside the party. Hall, whom Third Way thanked for conceiving and designing its report, was a member of the DLC’s event committee.” • If you wonder why so many centrists are indistinguishable from Republicans…


Climate Could Be an Electoral Time Bomb, Republican Strategists Fear

[New York Times, via Naked Capitalism 8-13-19]


Open Thread


Our Leaders Kill for Their Own Benefit


  1. Hugh

    Corruption nowadays is perfectly legal. The rich buy politicians openly, but wink, wink call it free speech, and that makes it’s OK. And of course, for politicians who play ball, there’s a whole spectrum of post-office goodies they can look forward too: lobbying and “consulting” positions, positions on boards of directors, trade associations, think tanks, and law firms, directly in corporations, and as fellows or profs at universities.

    Darkpools like HFT (high frequency trading) are scams and should be illegal.

    “Companies Use Borrowed Billions to Buy Back Stock, Not to Invest” and are any of us the least surprised by this?

    Re the media, beginning reporters are poorly paid. They do what they are told or they starve. Then you jump up to the big leagues, and these are people who haven’t met an ordinary American in so long that they wouldn’t know one if they did. Naturally, this doesn’t keep them from speaking authoritatively about what we want and think.

    I think it is funny that the Koch brothers spent money on the Third Way since it would have done their bidding anyway.

  2. bruce wilder

    It is interesting that you juxtapose the nearly 1000% increase in CEO pay with the Supreme Court’s erasure of “corruption” from the legal dictionary.
    When the top rates of personal income tax came down from 70% or more to less than 50%, it became a practical option to pay CEO’s very large amounts.

    Being a CEO at a large and successful company was always a good gig. High income tax rates meant that there were very generous perks of office provided as a tax dodge. But, prestige and status and opportunities to wield power in long-term achievement weighed heavily in a basket that could not practically be filled with money given the limits imposed by income tax. CEO was often a long tenure position and the incumbent was jealous of his (sic, since this was a job of males historically) status in the community and inclined to exercise civic-minded leadership, if only to realize a return from his status position.

    Being paid a ginormous amount changed everything. Tenures shortened as as the corporate game of thrones heated up. Of course, when pay was in the tens of millions, even a few years at the top made a successful executive independently wealthy.

    Academic economics provided a convenient ideology to justify both high pay and ethics-free means to generate it, with elaborate rationales for stock options et cetera to “align” CEO incentives with Capital returns. Capital had found a way to convert the top of the professional classes to their cause.

    The shift was an important factor in setting in motion the corruption of the whole society that Hugh observes.

  3. edmondo

    “Corruption nowadays is perfectly legal. The rich buy politicians openly…”

    It has always been legal. This is nothing new. Everett Dirksen, the senate minority leader in the 50s and 60s, was openly corrupt and got called out by one of his senate opponents for being too greedy and not sharing the loot. LBJ was elected a congressman at 29 and spent his entire life on government payrolls yet somehow ended up with a controlling interest in the 7-11 Corporation.

    Arlen Specter from Pennsylvania opened up his own law firm the day after he was elected to the senate. Guess which law firm you needed to have on retainer if you wanted to talk about government business? Joe Biden was elected to the senate at 29 but now lives in a million dollar estate in Dewey Beach. Move along. There’s nothing to see here.

  4. Willy

    Most people are wired to be authoritarian followers but have great difficulty understanding who it is that achieves authoritarian status. These leaders aren’t kindly and wise as appearances might suggest and as authoritarian followers own temperaments want to project, but crafty gamers of whatever system is being played.

    Early conservatism accepted this as fact and threw in the towel, proclaiming government to be the problem. Unfortunately, without checks and balances for the ethicals at least trying to limit overall societal corruption, government has become the solution for the gamers of the system.

  5. Hugh

    No, edmondo, we have always had corruption and a fair number have gotten away with it. The difference now is that it has been institutionalized and been given legal cover.

  6. Z

    If our rulers are able to pull off basically force feeding us Biden as the democratic nominee and he can make it to the finish line (I have my doubts that he can even find it) and he becomes president, they really risk a revolution from the young. Maybe not an armed one, but one that will force our rulers into large scale violence to maintain the system they have imposed on us.

    They’re going to have a doddering corporate controlled clown who is going to make stupid and insensitive gaffe after gaffe trying to maintain some sort of legitimacy to policies and a system that is in direct conflict with 90% of the American people and to the survival of life on earth. He ain’t Obama. He ain’t the big corporate lapdawg Clinton. Any teflon Biden ever had has flaked off or worn away.

    It’s going to start a huge generational divide as the young are going to watch this fool work against their interests and wonder who elected him? The conclusion will be the old. Then throw in the urgency of the climate and environmental issues which may threaten their ability to live full lives. Though our rulers have come to instinctively desire any divides that aren’t economically class based, that one at this time can bring a real threat to their control of this country.

    If Biden runs, they are much better with Trump winning, that way they can continue to point at Trump as the cause of it instead of it coming into tighter focus that it is the whole political and economic system that is the enemy of the vast majority of American citizens, particularly the young, who’ve had little say in it, but are slated to pay the biggest price.

    Of course, our rulers have taken an “anybody but Bernie” stance and will probably try to stand up Biden, one way or the other, and throw progressives a bone with having him pick Warren as his running mate thinking that they can defeat any major legislation that Warren tries to lead that seriously threatens the power structure and let her have a bunch of Lily Ledbetter sized victories they can have their media proclaim as change on the way.

    Next to that, their best bet is Warren herself and to go through the same routine of defeating any substantial legislative changes she tries to drive. Warren buys into the value of meritocracy in our market-based system and she’ll compromise. She speaks their language. She doesn’t have much charisma and won’t be able to lead any large scale movements against our rulers. Her support doesn’t come from those type of people. She won’t even have the interest IMO, because in too many ways, she is one of them. She doesn’t see them as a direct enemy. She taught at an Ivy League school, she’s had pleasant personal experiences with our ruling class and thinks they are decent people you can talk things over with. I do think she’d be a good vice president, potentially great if Sanders was the nominee, but I don’t think she has what it takes to lead the wholesale changes that need to start being moved on quickly for the increasingly impatient public who have to live with the corporate and Wall Street driven madness our rulers have subjected us to.

    It looks like Harris is drifting back as the best of a third tier of candidates with the vacuous Beto, McKinsey Mayor Pete, and Booker. Her surge began fading a week after the first debate as the Adderall liberals who run her campaign had the great idea to have $30 tee-shirts ready for sale a day after her obviously planned and contrived attack on Biden. Harris has a serious authenticity deficit she would have had to overcome as it is, she is so transparently about nothing but herself, and has no large scale, grass roots backing of her candidacy. But her staff was too anxious to strike when the hammer was hot, probably in hopes of parlaying legitimacy to her candidacy into big bucks from Obama’s merry band of big money bundlers, and blew her chance to gain solid traction among actual voters.


  7. Hugh

    I agree with Z. By attacking Biden, Harris asserted a claim to a leadership role. But that means standing up and standing firm. It also means to get out in front on her controversial decisions as a prosecutor. Instead Harris immediately started walking back her stands on things like Medicare-for-All and she didn’t address her past leaving herself open to Gabbard’s devastating attack. Going to the Hamptons to suck up to the rich just completed her meltdown as a credible candidate.

    I would say that the Establishment would favor Biden except even they don’t think he’s up to running against Trump, let alone the country. What they really want is some dependable sellable apparatchik, like Harris or Buttigieg, or to a lesser extent Warren. If nothing else, throwing some “love” to Warren now has the added benefit of torpedoing Sanders.

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