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

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 23, 2020

by Tony Wikrent

The Pandemic

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 8-20-20]

Estimated cost of recent epidemics/pandemics:
SARS (2003) – $40 billion
H5N1 (2006) – $40 billion
H1N1 (2009) – $45 billion
Ebola (2014) – $55 billion
COVID-19 (2020) – $8.8 TRILLION
Investing in public health preparedness is FAR cheaper than the economic impact of a pandemic.
3:57 PM · Aug 19, 2020

Something Remarkable Just Happened This August: How the Pandemic Has Sped Up the Passage to Postcapitalism
Yanis Varoufakis, August 22, 2020 [Lannan Foundation, via Naked Capitalism]

Following the crash of 2008, capitalism changed drastically. In their attempt to re-float the crashed financial system, central banks channelled rivers of cheap debt-money to the financial sector, in exchange for universal fiscal austerity that limited the middle and lower classes’ demand for goods and services. Unable to profit from austerity-hit consumers, corporations and financiers were hooked up to the central banks’ constant drip-feed of fictitious debt.

Every time the Fed or the European Central Bank or the Bank of England pumped more money into the commercial banks, in the hope that these monies would be lent to companies which would in turn create new jobs and product lines, the birth of the strange world we now live in came a little closer. How?

As an example, consider the following chain reaction: The European Central Bank extended new liquidity to Deutsche Bank. Deutsche Bank could only profit from it if it found someone to borrow this money. Dedicated to the banker’s mantra “never lend to someone who needs the money”, Deutsche Bank would never lend it to the “little people”, whose circumstances were increasingly diminished (along with their ability to repay any substantial loans), it preferred to lend it to, say, Volkswagen. But, in turn, Volkswagen executives looked at the “little people” out there and thought to themselves: “Their circumstances are diminishing, they won’t be able to afford new, high quality electric cars.” And so Volkswagen postponed crucial investments in new technologies and in new high quality jobs.

But, Volkswagen executives would have been remiss not to take the dirt-cheap loans offered by Deutsche Bank. So, they took it. And what did they do with the freshly minted ECB-monies? They used it to buy Volkswagen shares in the stock exchange. The more of those shares they bought the higher Volkswagen’s share value. And since the Volkswagen executives’ salary bonuses were linked to the company’s share value, they profited personally – while, at once, the ECB’s firepower was well and truly wasted from society’s, and indeed from industrial capitalism’s, point of view….

My difference with fellow lefties is that I do not believe there is any guarantee that what follows capitalism – let’s call it, for want of a better term, postcapitalism – will be better. It may well be utterly dystopic, judging by present phenomena. In the short term, to avoid the worst, the minimum necessary change that we need is an International Green New Deal that, beginning with a massive restructuring of public and private debts, uses public financial tools to press the oodles of existing liquidity (e.g. funds driving up money markets) into public service (e.g. a green energy revolution).

“Meatpacking Companies Dismissed Years of Warnings but Now Say Nobody Could Have Prepared for COVID-19”

[ProPublica, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 8-21-20]

“[A] ProPublica investigation has found that for more than a dozen years, critical businesses like meatpackers have been warned that a pandemic was coming. With eerie prescience, infectious disease experts and emergency planners had modeled scenarios in which a highly contagious virus would cause rampant absenteeism at processing plants, leading to food shortages and potential closures. The experts had repeatedly urged companies and government agencies to prepare for exactly the things that Smithfield’s CEO now claims were unrealistic…. Instead, the industry repeatedly expressed confidence in its ability to handle a pandemic, and when asked to plan, relied on a wait-and-see approach, records and interviews show.”

Decline of USA power


Dealing with America in Decline

[Valdai Discussion Club, via Naked Capitalism 8-17-20]

It would be too extravagant to pretend that the American factor in international politics does not exist. The country is the source of too many world problems, it influences too much because of its remaining power capabilities. Due to the fact that the United States is the only power in the world comparable to Russia militarily, Moscow’s interest in American affairs is quite understandable. This is not a matter of being “obsessed” with the United States an idea which can often be considered if one goes by the word-for-word opinions of Russian experts. Russia is hardly worried about the situation in America as such, even if the pre-election passions lead to new measures of economic pressure on Moscow. These measures, in themselves, do not threaten the Russian economy and society much. The dynamics of American foreign policy and the domestic state of this country are important for international security and stability.

Explaining that no one needs the collapse of the United States is a waste of time. All the arguments presented can be replaced by one: do not forget about the American nuclear arsenal and its fate if the country really becomes engulfed in a civil war. In fact, nothing else matters. If the United States seriously fails, no “power vacuum” in international affairs will arise – there will immediately be many willing or unwillingly willing to fill it.

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 8-21-20]

Adam Tooze
China now has more companies in the Fortune 500 than the US.
@ISABELNET_SA via @SoberLook

How Japan Talks About Security Threats

[The Diplomat, via Naked Capitalism 8-19-20]

Mondoweiss, via Naked Capitalism 8-19-20]

Information Age Dystopia

How Northern California’s Police Intelligence Center Tracked Protests
[The Intercept, via Naked Capitalism 8-19-20]

Miami Police Used Facial Recognition Technology in Protester’s Arrest
[NBC Miami, via Naked Capitalism 8-19-20]

The Carnage of Establishment Neoliberal Economics

Companies spent $340 million on high-priced consultants to bust unions
Economic Policy Institute, August 11, 2020

Ensuring that workers have access to a union is one of the most effective ways to strengthen our nation’s collapsing middle class. But instead of paying workers what they deserve, big name companies are spending huge sums of money on high-priced consultants to bust unions.

In a new report called “Fear at Work,” EPI examines the extent some employers go to block unions….

A $340 million industry of “union avoidance” consultants helps employers exploit the weaknesses of federal labor law to deny workers the right to collective bargaining. Over the past five years, employers using union avoidance consultants have included FedEx, Bed Bath & Beyond, and LabCorp, among others.

Economic disequilibrium

CEO compensation surged 14% in 2019 to $21.3 million: CEOs now earn 320 times as much as a typical worker

[Economic Policy Institute, 8-21-20]

Last year, annual CEO compensation at the United States’ top 350 firms grew to an average of $21.3 million, a 14% increase, according to new analysis by EPI’s Lawrence Mishel and Jori Kandra…. In addition to the pay ratio, EPI data makes clear that from 1978 to 2019, CEO compensation grew by a staggering 1,167%. Meanwhile, the compensation of a typical worker rose just 13.7% during that entire period.

“The rich get richer” doesn’t even begin to tell the story these days. According to the Institute for Policy Studies, the wealth of the top 12 billionaires in the U.S. recently exploded to more than one trillion dollars — yes, 13 digits. The statistic, of course, is an eye-popping figure on its face, made even more so in light of the devastation in the broader economy due to the coronavirus pandemic. Since the pandemic first blew up in the U.S. back in March, the ‘Oligarchic Dozen’ has enjoyed a 40% surge in its combined wealth — or an increase of $283 billion.”


Using Koch Money, Cato Institute Has Led the Drumbeat to Denigrate and Privatize the U.S. Postal Service
Pam Martens and Russ Martens, August 19, 2020 [Wall Street on Parade]

The first thing you need to know about the right-wing Cato Institute is that it quietly began its life as the Charles Koch Foundation in 1974. The name was changed to the Cato Institute in 1977 according to the restated articles of incorporation. For decades, the Cato Institute enjoyed a taxpayer subsidy as a nonprofit while being secretly owned by a handful of men, two of whom were the fossil fuel billionaire brothers, Charles and David Koch – libertarians with a radical agenda. (David Koch died in August of last year.)

The second thing to know about the Cato Institute is that over the past 35 years, Koch-related foundations have pumped more than $22 million into its coffers to help Cato get out its messaging of killing off the following: Social Security; federally-subsidized school lunches; the minimum wage; collective bargaining; and, of course, the unionized U.S. Postal Service….

On April 28 of this year, Cato’s Chris Edwards wrote an OpEd for the New York Daily News calling for the privatization of the U.S. Postal Service, writing that “To survive and even thrive in the changing economy, the U.S. Postal Service should be moved to the private sector.”

A year earlier, Edwards was testifying before the House Oversight Committee on how “Congress should privatize the USPS” and “allow entrepreneurs to compete in the postal industry.” (It should be noted that UPS and FedEx are already major competitors.) Edwards holds a Masters in Economics from George Mason University, another outpost of massive amounts of Koch money.

Political Tide Begins to Turn in Postal Service Crisis
David Dayen, August 17, 2020 [American Prospect]

A ridiculous and useless argument sparked on Twitter over the weekend about whether Bernie Sanders, somehow, is to blame for Trump’s commandeering of the Postal Service, through blocking appointments to the Board of Governors. This showed a lack of understanding of how the Board of Governors operates. I wrote this back in 2014 about the Board of Governors, a nine-member panel whose terms expire on a staggered basis. Even if President Obama got a full complement onto the board (and he didn’t, not because of Bernie Sanders holds, but because he didn’t fill the vacancies for many years to begin with, and didn’t prioritize the board when Democrats held the Senate), Trump would have been able to secure a majority by filling expiring seats.

Climate and environmental crises

California Reveals That the Transition to Renewable Energy Isn’t So Simple

[Slate, via Naked Capitalism 8-20-20]
“Millions of Beetles Are Wiping Out Forests All Across the World”
[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 8-17-20]

“A plague of tiny mountain pine beetles, no bigger than a grain of rice, has already destroyed 15 years of log supplies in British Columbia, enough trees to build 9 million single-family homes, and are chewing through forests in Alberta and the Pacific Northwest. Now, an outbreak of spruce beetles is threatening to devour even more trees in North America just as similar pests are decimating supplies in parts of Europe, creating a glut of dead and dying logs. The bugs are thriving as climate change warms winters that would normally keep them at bay, destroying a swath of the world’s timber supplies.”

‘Insanely hot’: Death Valley records world temperature record

[Al Jazeera, via Naked Capitalism 8-18-20]First ever double hurricane could hit the Gulf of Mexico
[ 8-21-20]

Next week for the first time on record, two hurricanes could hit the Gulf of Mexico at the same time. Twice before, in 1959 and 1933, two tropical storms have entered the Gulf at the same time. But never before have both been hurricanes.

It might not go that way. Only one of the storm systems has yet strengthened into a tropical storm — a dangerous cyclone, but not yet a hurricane. The other remains a tropical depression, and its future is still unclear. But forecast models have suggested the possibility since at least Thursday (Aug. 20), and the storms are still following the path that would lead to double Gulf hurricanes….

The 2020 hurricane season has been extraordinarily busy, with Laura already a record setter today (Aug. 21) as the earliest “L” storm ever. (Tropical cyclones are named in alphabetical order as they achieve tropical storm strength.) This year also saw the earliest C, E, F, G, H, I, J and K storms, as Houston-based meteorologist Matt Lanza noted on Twitter. If tropical depression 14 becomes Marco, it will be the earliest M storm on record. (These records date back to the late 19th Century, and include storms from the era when tropical storms were numbered but not named.)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that as climate change warms the oceans, strong hurricanes are likely to become more frequent than they were in previous years.

Derecho Flattens Iowa Corn
[, August 11, 2020]

On August 10, 2020, an unusually strong and long-lasting line of thunderstorms—a derecho—battered vast swaths of Iowa and the U.S. Midwest. More than a week after the storm, tens of thousands of Iowans were still without electric power, and many farmers were mulling whether they could salvage crops and repair grain silos before the coming harvest….
While large hail can quickly strip stalks and pulverize corn and soybean plants—leaving dark brown stripes across rural landscapes—much of the damage in August 2020 was caused by fierce winds that toppled stalks that were already heavy with maturing corn husks, explained Christopher Schultz, a NASA Marshall Space Flight Center meteorologist. However, the damage was not exclusively caused by wind. In some areas, small hail battered plants and sliced away leaves.
It is possible that some of the toppled plants still have intact roots and will continue to grow in the coming weeks; others could be used for silage or other purposes. But many experts anticipate severe losses and big challenges for harvesting and storing anything that remains. While damage estimates are evolving, agricultural economists project that the storm likely caused nearly $4 billion in damages, which would make it one of the costliest thunderstorm events on NOAA’s weather and climate disaster tracker for the past decade.

A Rush is On to Mine the Seabed, But the Effects are Unknown

[The Maritime Executive, via Naked Capitalism 8-18-20]

Disrupting mainstream politics

Sixty Seconds to Self-Sabotage The DNC’s choice of who to feature speaks volumes about the party’s inability to see its own future.
Rebecca Traister [thecut, via Naked Capitalism 8-18-20]

Merger between Democratic Party and Republican Party at the national leadership level.
Lambert Strether [Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 8-19-20]

My current still-being-worked out theory goes like this: We really are looking at a merger between the (factions of) the Democrat Party and (factions of) the Republican Party at the national leadership level. (That makes Dionne’s “United Front” theory wrong, and Dionne himself a useful idiot; this realignment is not a temporary thing. Ditto Reich.) From around 2000 to 2016, the Democrat theory of change was the “coalition of the ascendant,” as theorized by Ruy Reixeira. This “coalition” was in fact ill-defined and quite fragile, and in fact was not Obama’s theory (though, naturally, we can only reverse engineer what he really believed). What Obama believed evolved into what I have labeled The Great Assimilation™, and began in 2008 with Obama’s revision to the Preamble of the Democrat platform, which stressed the requirement for a functional Republican Party in a two-party system. (Obama’s shorthand for this was waiting for “the fever to break,” the “fever” being right-wing populism.) Obama followed through on his vision of a functional Republican Party with his (disastrous) negotiation with Republicans on ObamaCare, where he treated the Republicans as a trusted interlocutor. (For those who came in late, Obama in 2009 had his boot on the Republican throat. He could have crushed them. Instead, he gave them a hand up, dusted them off, and let them right back in the game.)

Fast forward to March 2016, when Thomas Frank’s Listen, Liberal! was published. Frank — promptly ostracized along the Acela Corridor — had the nerve to point out the central contradiction of the Democrat Party under the “coalition of the ascendant” theory: The Democrat base was the PMC, but the Democrats also could not win without working class votes (and those voters had both values and interests at odds with the PMC, as the chart below shows). Some insiders thought that the way to resolve the contradiction was to jettison working class votes; as Schumer famously remarked: “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.” Then, in 2016, Sanders stuck a fork in the “coalition of the ascendant” by peeling off the Hispanic vote entirely. In the short term, liberal Democrat responded to the threat of populism from the left by immediately removing Sanders from any position of authority in candidate selection for 2020, by defenestrating Sanders’ candidate for DNC leadership, Ellison, and more centrally by removing all (100%) Sanders supporters from the all-important Rules and Bylaws Committee, where challenges to primary votes are adjudicated.

In the long term — and here, since internal Democrat deliberations are entirely informal and secretive, I speculate — liberal Democrats decided to achieve their majority not with the failed strategy of “the coalition of the ascendant,” but by jettisoning the working class entirely, and peeling off suburban Republican voters. (Black Democrat voters should take note; underneath all the “listen to Black women” foofrah, I doubt that liberal Democrats like being beholden to Black constituencies any more than they liked being beholden to the working class. For the nature of the Black people liberal Democrats do accept and respect, see Adolph Reed here; Reed is, I think, restating the idea of “the talented tenth.”) The key inflection point that signalled this strategic shift came in 2018 at John McCain’s funeral, where war criminal and torture advocate George W Bush. famously gave Michelle Obama candy; she later said, on the Today Show: “He’s my partner in crime at every major thing where all the ‘formers’ gather…. I love him to death. He’s a wonderful man, he’s a funny man.” (Somehow I can’t imagine Michelle Obama saying that about Bernie Sanders.)

Hence the presence of Republicans in the Democrat campaign (the Lincoln Project), and their dominance at the convention (Kasich, Whitman, Powell, Molinari, Cindy McCain., etc.), greatly in contrast to the minute given to, say, AOC, or Sanders supporters generally.

Now, one could argue that we are merely looking at a temporary alliance (indeed, a “United Front,” just as Dionne and Reich suggest). One might also argue that all that the Democrats want is a strong Republican party, a rational interlocutor, to whom one could extend the right hand of good fellowship without having it ripped off up to the shoulder. In neither case, liberal Democrats don’t actually want to assimilate Republicans. Here are some reasons why that’s not so: First, if liberal Democrats make suburban Republican voters part of their base, the Republican leadership must follow. Second, liberal Democrats and non-populist Republicans are ideologically more alike than different; both are neoliberals. Why not put the tribalism aside and share power? Especially when only the dirty populists are racists? Third, Republicans would bring to the Democrats a focus and ability to execute that liberal Democrats lack, and know they lack (a lot of Democrat jaws are dropping at the Lincoln Project’s work). Fourth, if Schumer (and Obama) are right, they have an electoral winner. And who doesn’t want to play for a winner?

Some consequences follow if I am correct: First, the working class is up for grabs. (Some of the more creative Republicans are figuring this out.) Second, the path forward for working class electeds is not through the Democrat Party; they are not wanted (this implies that I don’t think Sanders electoralism is viable, though I respect Sanders’ desire….

Joe Biden is already planning a failed presidency

[The Week, via Naked Capitalism 8-20-20]

The great problem with the United States today is twofold: First, the country is falling to pieces under President Trump, the most corrupt and incompetent president in American history. Second, as I have argued at length previously, the U.S. has been suffering severe problems for decades that Trump leveraged to squirm into power. Deindustrialization, the opioid epidemic, poverty, inequality, and so on — these are the soil in which racist demagoguery grows. Obama threw homeowners under the bus to save the banks, endorsed austerity instead of full employment, and Republicans reaped the political benefit in 2010, 2014, and 2016.

We see here a certain political trajectory that has ended in right-wing dictatorship on multiple occasions in other countries in the past. A country is being devoured from the inside by gangrenous capitalism. The status quo elites, who benefit from the rigged economy, are strong enough to throttle any reform effort from the democratic left. But they are not strong enough to fend off an anti-democratic attack from the right — or worse, they actively welcome it as the only way to avoid higher taxes and more regulation. As Dan O’Sullivan wrote after Trump was first elected, “This is all the result of kneecapping any attempt at reform of the system — the reform fails, the pain remains, only now it comes out sideways, through the only permissible path: the far right.”

Again, the problem is fundamentally ideological; in this case, what you believe about austerity: 
[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 8-20-20]

Stephanie Kelton
“When we get in, the pantry is going to be bare,” said Mr. Kaufman, who is leading Mr. Biden’s transition team. “When you see what Trump’s done to the deficit…all the deficits that he built with the incredible tax cuts. So we’re going to be limited.” 😞

“Would a Biden Victory Be a Win for the Working Class?”

Michael Lind [Tablet, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 8-20-20]

“The suggestion that a Biden administration would be pushed in a pro-worker direction out of fear of incurring the wrath of veterans of the Sanders campaign and the feckless Democratic Socialists of America could make a cat laugh. A Biden administration would be staffed by conventional, conformist, careerist retreads from the administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, representing the pro-Wall Street, anti-labor wing of the Democratic Party that has been dominant since the 1990s. Biden Democrats are likely to use a combination of social liberalism and fiscal conservatism to bring well-heeled Bloombergian independents and country-club Bush Republicans permanently into the Democratic coalition, accelerating its transformation into an alliance of affluent whites with members of minority groups who vote on the basis of race, not class. As long as enough well-off whites and African Americans and Hispanics vote for the centrist candidates of the Clinton-Obama-Biden machine, neoliberal Democrats have nothing to fear from ‘democratic socialist’ poseurs in pricey hipster neighborhoods and college towns.”

“Listen to Episode 160: Neither Snow Nor Rain Nor Chronic Lyme” (podcast)
[Trillbilly Worker’s Party, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 8-20-20]

Terance: “People have been protesting in Louisville for 85 days over Breonna Taylor’s murder. 85 days. And the fact that the powers that be can just withstand that, and just not even respond to it, and be like “That’s nice, just keep doing your thing,” that tells me that we have to develop some sort of new way of applying leverage to them.”

What’s Up With White Evangelicals?
Steve Hochstadt [LAProgressive 8-22-20]

Why didn’t an irreligious and publicly immoral candidate present moral difficulties to a religious group which has traditionally emphasized the close connection of faith and character? Many skilled researchers and analysts have tried to understand how people who profess such devotion to Jesus and the Bible could see Trump as their prophet. I have no better explanation than anyone else.


I’m disappointed Hochstadt does not mention the obvious historical example of the white churches in the South leading up to, during, and after the Civil War. As the slavery issue grew more contentious in the 1830s and 1840s, the major protestant denominations in the country all broke apart: “The Presbyterians divided in 1837, the Methodists in 1844, and the Baptists in 1845.” [Gordon Rhea, Why Non-Slaveholding Southerners Fought]
In the North, the Christian churches succored and nurtured abolitionists, even after the 1850 compromises made abolitionists political outcasts from the Whig Party [James Brewer Stewart, Reconsidering the Abolitionists in an Age of Fundamentalist Politics, Journal of the Early RepublicVol. 26, No. 1 (Spring, 2006), pp. 1-23]  The Whigs may have slammed the door shut in their faces, but the abolitionists refused to compromise on the their principles. This, of course, was in stark contrast to the church leaders of the South, who curried the favor and support of the slaver oligarchs by twisting and mutilating scriptural precepts to create a doctrinal defense of slavery. There was never any point at which it was possible for the two sides to achieve “bipartisan” cooperation (recall that Lincoln’s Secretary of State William Seward actually advised that war with the South could be headed off by going to war with Britain instead). The Whig Party, having discarded its moral backbone, collapsed and was replaced by the new Republican Party — the only instance in American history in which a third party successfully displaced a legacy political party. This should be a clear warning to the Democratic Party leadership today that their continued opposition to progressive demands and activism will not end well. 
In the South, Rhea writes, “Churches were the center of social and intellectual life in the south. That was where people congregated, where they learned about the world and their place in it, and where they received moral guidance. The clergy comprised the community’s cultural leaders and educators and carried tremendous influence with slaveholders and non-slaveholders alike. What were Southern pastors, preachers, and religious leaders telling their flock? Southern clergy defended the morality of slavery through an elaborate scriptural defense built on the infallibility of the Bible, which they held up as the universal and objective standard for moral issues. Religious messages from pulpit and from a growing religious press accounted in large part for the extreme, uncompromising, ideological atmosphere of the time.”
The same process of corruption has taken place today. Grasping for a way to get rid of Roosevelt and the New Deal, the entrenched wealthy of USA paid for surveys which found that, after the military, the churches were the most trusted institutions in USA. The wealthy then established foundations and programs to indoctrinate America’s clergy with the historically false doctrine of the superiority of the “free enterprise” system as the foundation of the USA economic progress. (In fact, it was Alexander Hamilton’s recognition that even entrepreneurs are reluctant and hesitant to try new ways of doing things, and therefore the government must systematically encourage the development and dissemination of of new science technologies, such as the Coast Survey of the 1820s, the canal building of state governments at the same time, and the railroad surveys and land grants of the 1850s and 1860s). Kevin Kruse details this corruption of American Christianity in his 2015 book, One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America
Unfortunately, many on the “left” today are openly hostile to organized religion, and have utterly failed to identify and oppose this operation of deliberate cultural warfare.  This, despite the clear historical record of the crucial leadership role of such as Rev. Martin Luther King Dr., Rev. Ralph Abernathy, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and, today, Rev. William Barber of North Carolina. I believe this problem of the left stems from the ideological zombiefication of marxists, that renders them unable — just like conservatives and libertarians — to acknowledge and analyze the failures of their ideology.


Open Thread


Why QAnon Resonates


  1. Bruce

    Doesn’t any kind of “green new deal” require money from capitalism? [Unless our supply of dilithium crystals just came in.] So, if capitalism is decamping, how will it happen? Our imaginations are still capitalist.

  2. bruce wilder


    do you really read and understand nothing? (despite your excellent name!)

    Doesn’t any kind of “green new deal” require money from capitalism? [Unless our supply of dilithium crystals just came in.]

    I am only a reluctant fan of MMT, but surely something of their message must have reached you?!?

    Money is a creature of the sovereign state, the means of taxation. It does not “come from” capitalism; it comes from the government and its exercise of political power and authority. And, money is essentially a language for imaginative fictions. Why would we be short of it? Or waiting for an Amazon package to arrive?

  3. Hugh

    Not mentioned but the Republican convention is going to be Trump, Trump, Trump, –not in a predictable political way but in a creepily, narcissistic, often self-destructive demonstration of his pathology kind of way. With Trump, it is always about his pathology, and the more pressured he feels the weirder he gets. As this election is not going to be about policy but Trump fatigue, this is both inevitable and does not bode well for him.

    The figures on previous epidemics show that an ounce of public health prevention is worth pounds of cure. The one being worth about 150 times the other.

    The US economy became fully financialized in the nineties and aughts. The rich and corporations figure they can make a lot more money from grifts than in anything productive, let alone socially responsible. So endanger workers (meatpacking), keep them weak (no unions), par for the course really.

  4. nihil obstet

    Apologists for capitalism argue that capitalists produce stuff. If that’s ever been true, it isn’t now. That list of the oligarchic dozen includes not one person whose wealth comes from producing food, clothing, civil infrastructure, or anything else in which material goods are created. It’s all software, merchandising, and finance. As Dire Straits has it, Money for Nothing.

  5. bruce wilder

    with Trump, i suspect it is really always about “our” pathology — like it or not, he remains a symptom of a disease afflicting the body politic

  6. Ian Welsh

    As Keynes noted, anything we can do we can afford. Money only limits you if you let it.

  7. Plague Species

    Politics has been so hijacked, it’s not even politics any longer. I’m not exactly sure what it is and by the time we nailed down what it is, it will have transmogrified into something else. As such, conventions aren’t conventions any more. They’re comedic infomercials, and in the case of Trump’s convention this year, and yes it is the Trump convention versus the Republican convention, it will be a comedic circus/carnival.

    For those who think Trump is funny? No, he’s not funny. I know comedy, and Trump is no comic. He’s not even funny by accident. He’s no more funny than the two atom bombs dropped on Japan during WWII were funny. I say this because I was just watching some Norm MacDonald and he had the unmitigated gall to say Trump is funny. No he’s not, Norm. You can be funny on occasion, Norm, but many times you’re not. It all depends. But Trump is not funny. Obama is not funny. Clinton isn’t funny. Politicians, real politicians, are never funny and neither are narcissistic silver-spooned multi millionaires who have surfed oceans of debt and grabbed pussy their entire privileged lives.

  8. Willy

    Sociopaths have a mean spirited ‘humor’ which they think is funny. Self-effacing humor is one way to usually tell a regular guy from somebody who needs to be in dominance control at all times. But occasionally a sociopath will go that way to camouflage themselves from a superior who they’re trying to gain favor from and/or influence over.

    The usual comedians should have plenty of material to work with from Trump’s convention.

  9. Ché Pasa

    Notes on the protests.

    You know they haven’t stopped. Every day and night there are dozens of protest marches and rallies around the country, some of which have been going on for nearly three months. There may or may not be a note now and then in the news, primarily noted when something burns, but I bet you didn’t hear about the guillotine that was wheeled up to the Multnomah County sheriffs substation in Portland the other night, triggering yet more police violence and rioting. You probably didn’t hear about the brawl between the white rightists and BLM/Antifash in Portland either, the one where police just watched and snorted until the fascists were forced to withdraw. Then, and only then, was an unlawful assembly declared and the DHS goons stationed nearby were dispatched to beat and gas the antifascist victors.

    So it goes.

    There have already been numerous instances of white rightist violence against BLM and antifascist protesters, mostly by running them down with their vehicles. Brawls are not unusual. Guns have been drawn, some have been fired, and at least one young veteran was killed by the wilding rightists. For the most part, the white rightists are few, disorganized and clownish in their cosplay outfits, but they are nevertheless dangerous. The police routinely ignore or excuse their threats and violence in order to more efficiently police the BLM/Antifash marches and rallies.

    They’ve been modeling the Charlottesville police.

    None of this has yet turned into the all out free-for all that’s been predicted and desired by some of the groups prepping for glory. Numerous incidents, spread throughout the country, some leading to severe injury and a few deaths, almost all suffered by the BLM/Antifash demonstrators.

    The guillotine was a nice touch, but it wasn’t real.

    So far, most of those in the streets are from relatively marginalized groups, though there are many ‘ordinary’ working people, students and “moms” among them. BLM is a remarkably popular movement (ah, shades of Gene Sharp). Antifascism has a way to go. And it may never achieve popularity. But oh well, Antifa is the vanguard, no? Sacrificial, too.

    Is there a Revolution brewing? A revolution won’t come as long as enough people still believe in the efficacy of voting in elections. But once that faith is dashed, all bets are off. If there is a revolution, it will initially likely be similar to Gene Sharp’s Color Revolutions — in other words, radical neoliberalism. But we’re at the point where that sort of thing is so far past its sell-by date that the Color Revolution phase probably won’t last long.

    What lies beyond that?

  10. Plague Species

    Know thy enemy. Richenhagen made $20 million last year and he will make it again this year despite slumping sales. It’s a club and you’re not a member. This ass was placed in his position as CEO of this company not because of any particular skill he possessed, but because of his Nazi lineage. He’s a Welfare Queen. Inverse welfare.

    It’s a misleading headline. Slanted. Racist. Racist cops. They gave the Nazi, quite literally a Nazi in fact, the benefit of the doubt no doubt because he’s a real in-the-flesh Nazi and because they believe, like the Nazi, that the black woman was his subhuman inferior.

    The details in the article contradict the title of the article. Per the witness Nate Crosby, Richenhagen assaulted Ronny Renee Forney by pushing her to the ground. She then pulled a knife to defend herself. If Forney was a white wannabe racist redneck Nazi and Richenhagen was a poor black man of poor black woman, the police would have supported their right to blow away anyone who pushed them to the ground, but since it’s a black woman, well, we can’t have uppity subhuman black women defending themselves with knives, or guns, against equestrian well-heeled Nazi nobility, can we?

    Police do not know what provoked the incident, but Martin Richenhagen said it started when he asked Forney for change for a parking meter at the ATMs on Raleigh Street.

    Richenhagen said Forney became aggressive and called him “old” and “ugly.” Richenhagen said when he tried to calm Forney down, she pulled out a knife. He described the knife as similar to a Swiss Army knife.

    Nate Crosby, a courier for University Libraries and a witness at the scene, said he saw Richenhagen push Forney to the ground. Crosby said Forney got up and pulled out a knife after being pushed.

    “She would have been OK if she didn’t pull out the knife,” Crosby said.

  11. different clue

    @Plague Species,

    When you say this Richenhagen is of “nazi lineage”, is this to say that he is an actual descendant of genuine Germanazi Hitlerians who were paper-clipped into this country as part of the US Deep Nazi FedRegime’s project to save as many Aristocrat-Class nazis as they could from the coming defeat of Nazi Germany? And if that is indeed what you are saying, would this lend support to David Emory’s and Jeff Well’s theory that part of what has “gone wrong” with America since WWII has been driven by the vast ” rescued Nazi” infrastructure paper-clipped and ratlined from late WWII Europe into America all during the latest 40s and early 50s?

    By the way, it has occurred to me that a possible new word for upper class welfare queen . . . reverse welfare queen if you will . . . might be “richfare queen”.

    No one owes the rich a living. No more richfare for the already-rich.

  12. Dan

    Ah yes, the evil Nazis. And not a word about Zionism. No wonder nothing makes sense.

  13. different clue


    Is Richenhagen actually a Zionist? And if Richenhagen is really Zionist, would that make it all make sense?

  14. Dan


    Yes, that would solve it. Case closed.

  15. different clue


    If that is all it would take to close the case, then it really would be helpful to know just what this Richenhagen really is. And descends from.

    And then we could know if it does close a case, or at least advance a case, or just what. And what case that would be.

  16. Plague Species

    Prussian nobility, the Germanic upper classes, loved, and love, their horses. Richenhagen, and his wife, are wealthy, well-connected horse people. Renowned equestrians. Since when are thoroughbred horse trainers CEOs? “You’re doing a heck of a job, Brownie.”

    Rather than seeking to combat Nazism, the elite hoped to co-opt Hitler, with chancellor Franz von Papen offering him the role of vice-chancellor. “A metaphor these people used a lot – because most of them were noble horsemen – is that they wanted to ride the Nazi movement like a horse,” says Malinowski. “They would use the momentum and the political potential of the Nazi party but still keep it at bay. The idea of ‘framing’ – to control Hitler, to keep him in a conservative ‘frame’ – was the key concept in 1933. And it was a moment of deep misery in the history of German conservatism.”

    “From horse trainer to executive manager – neither Hollywood nor the Brothers Grimm could have imagined such an unusual story. This is the American dream and your story is one of courage, determination and passion.” With these words, the German Ambassador, Dr Peter Wittig, opened the medal ceremony at a reception and dinner for 50 guests at the German Embassy in Washington.

    He’s an emphatic advocate for the TPP and the TPIP. Merkel loves him. Communists have no problem with fascists, at least not these days but maybe always considering Stalin’s initial pact with Hitler before Hitler betrayed it as was always his intent. He has no business being a CEO and he couldn’t manage his way out of a paper bag although he did manage to get all the wealthy AGCO investors to, like the Welfare Queen he is, fund his lavish, entitled lifestyle. He doesn’t even have a clue that his middle managers consistently lie to his upper management in order to secure their promotions and bonuses. The price clueless, self-serving upper management pays for making sycophancy a mandatory requirement of all subordinates. In Nazi organizations don’t you dare talk back. The only acceptable behavior is boot licking. The North American operations are barely profitable because it is impossible to build competitive, affordable farm machinery in America, hence India’s TAFE will more than likely acquire AGCO within the decade, maybe the next five years. Richenhagen made huge bank on setting AGCO up to be acquired by foreign interests. I don’t feel sorry for America’s farmers, the ones still in business. They enabled all of this as did Wall Street. They stole from the future to the point there is no future for them. Now they must lay in the bed they made. Unfortunately, we must too. This is why any evolution must involve extracting agriculture from private hands and returning it to the people. Industrial farmers and Wall Street have compromised American food security. There are obviously other factors that compromise food security, i.e. environmental degradation to include climate chaos, but that unholy alliance is as much to blame as anything else.

  17. different clue

    @Plague Species,

    Thank you for this clarifying detail. It seems unlikely that this Richenhagen would be a Zionist, then. Certainly not a Jewish one.

    This all lends further support to hypotheses advanced and strongly backed by David Emory and Jeff Wells that America’s own Deep Nazi Overclass paperclipped and ratlined thousands of EuroNazis of various ethnicities into America for ready-reserve and future use in further rounds of battle the Fascintern ( Fascist International) might care to resume after recovering from having overtly lost their Germany-bet in World Battle Two.

    If any ZioJews are involved in all this, it would be as useful idiots-of-convenience for the Deep PaperClip-Nazi State. If their usefulness comes to an end ( as Epstein’s usefulness clearly did), then they will be disposed of ( as Epstein clearly was.) If that happens, it will show the ZioJews to have made a bad bet, Darwinianly-speaking.

    By the way, if any Legacy Clinton Worshippers are reading this, here is a little gift for you.
    Epstein was a perfect expression of everything that Hillary-Billary stand for. Bon apetit’ .

  18. Dan


    I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to spend an inordinate amount of time on any one individual. In fact, more often than not, it’s an intentional runaround.

  19. Dan

    Incidentally, I used to listen to Dave Emory back in the 90’s on WFMU. That was before my political awakening. He was fun, though I much preferred the Alan Watts lecture series.

  20. Plague Species

    When I say “know the enemy,” I am using Richenhagen as an example. He’s a CEO. CEOs are the enemy. All upper management is the enemy. Corporations as they are currently structured and staffed are the enemy. Those who own the corporations are the enemy. In that process of knowing thy enemy, we can be both general and specific. Richenhagen is a specific example of the general fact that CEOs are the enemy. The fact he’s a Nazi is ancillary to that but also validating. So no, Dan, it’s not just one person to whom I’m referring as an intentional runaround, but all these generalities have faces and names and when and if the time comes for justice to be had, those names and faces must be brought to account for their legal and illegal criminality for there can be no progress without justice.

  21. Dan


    Thank you for clarifying. And to clarify on my end, my point was general; I wasn’t intending to infer that you specifically were in any way misleading people.

    I think “those who own the corporations are the enemy” says enough. They and their functionaries must have the fear of god put into them.

    “…all these generalities have faces and names and when and if the time comes for justice to be had, those names and faces must be brought to account for their legal and illegal criminality for there can be no progress without justice.”


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