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

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – February 18, 2024

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – February 18, 2024

by Tony Wikrent


Who will guard the guardians? 

U.S. Government Is Hiding Documents That Incriminate Intelligence Community For Illegal Spying And Election Interference, Say Sources 

Public, via Naked Capitalism 02-15-2024]

“Former CIA Director Gina Haspel blocked the release of ‘binder’ with evidence that may identify her role in the Trump-Russia collusion hoax.”

CIA Had Foreign Allies Spy On Trump Team, Triggering Russia Collusion Hoax, Sources Say 

Michael Shellenberger, Matt Taibbi, and Alex Gutentag [via Naked Capitalism 02-14-2024]

[TW:  I want to put forward the observation that given Trump’s close association with Roy Cohn, and business dealings with the Russian mafia, it would have been malpractice for USA intelligence agencies NOT to make such requests. The real problem with this is that there is no longer any reason to believe the the CIA, FBI, NSA and other intelligence agencies actually serve the General Welfare of the citizens of USA.

Or to put it another way, how would we want an intelligence agency to have dealt with Aaron Burr when Burr was running for president? Or how about dealing with Secretary of War Jefferson Davis in the 1850s as the sectional crisis worsened? What do we want an intelligence agency to do when one such appears headed for the highest office in the land? Or actually wins it?

There are many people who have a knee jerk reaction against intelligence agencies.  Are we to abolish any and all intelligence agencies? I have no doubt that there are many people who immediately answer with an emphatic “yes!” I would ask them to take the time to read James Fenimore Cooper’s The Bravo/ It is Cooper’s “novel” of how the secret service of Venice blackmails a poor man into being an assassin. At the very least, read Cooper’s Introduction; there is nothing fictional there at all. Cooper explains that he wrote the novel to explore the process of cultivating evil in the dark recesses of government power, and how that contrasts to the process of acculturation in civic values that is supposed to occur in a real republic.


In the case of Trump, we know that his behavior and character was molded in profoundly evil ways because Trump was tutored in Cohn’s methods and philosophy of government. But, again, what are we to do about this when we no longer have government institutions steeped in the civic values of republicanism? Recall that Jeffrey Epstein’s first troubles with law enforcement were dissipated by the intervention of intelligence agencies with the district attorney in Florida who wanted to bring charges.

Lambert Strether applauds (anti)Republicans for opposing the campaign of the intelligence agencies against Trump, but I do not think these (anti)Republicans are acting from any moral commitment to the good. Rather, their position is part of their partisan warfare against the Democrats, calculated to gain a political advantage.  The excesses and coups of the CIA, let us remember were committed as much, if not more, under Republicans as Democrats. The names Dulles, Helms, Colby and Casey come to mind. And then there is George Bush Sr., who was both CIA director and POTUS. And I think it is a mistake to assume that only the Democrats thought they would benefit from the RussiaGate operation. Trump is as much a danger to the Republican establishment as he is to the Democratic Party. Nobody yet has been much interested in looking for a RussiaGate connection to the Bush family apparatus yet, but I suspect there are some important stories there waiting to be uncovered.

It is useful to look at the history of intelligence activities before the formal establishment of intelligence agencies — and especially the creation of the national security state — beginning with Franklin’s and Washington’s espionage operations during the Revolutionary War. Why were there no scandals arising from those operations? Or from the Union Army and Pinkerton operations during the Civil War? I contend that a large part of the reason was that the guardrails of public duty as defined by civic republicanism were still in place and quite robust.

In the final analysis, the only real way to “guard the guardians” is to make sure that the doctrines and values of civic republicanism a suffused throughout the nation. But capitalism, and its single-minded emphasis on self-interest, is a strong and dangerous corrosive element that must be reckoned with. — TW]


Death of Aleksei Navalny: the Brits did it! 

Gilbert Doctorow [via Naked Capitalism 02-17-2024]

…In all of the false flag operations that have been directed by the West against Russia over the past decade or more, I have argued that the old Roman investigative principle of cui bono militated against the Kremlin having been involved in any way.  So it is today:  why would Putin want to murder Navalny, when the man is now largely forgotten within Russia. Navalny is yesterday’s news and his ‘anti-corruption’ campaign is irrelevant to Russians in the midst of an existential struggle with the Collective West that is being fought on the territory of Ukraine?  However, the murder of Navalny clearly serves the interests of that same Collective West.…

Let us go beyond the cui bono argumentation to circumstantial evidence that is damning for the Brits. As the Americans like to say, there are ‘fingerprints’ of the Brits all over this death of Navalny.

A fair number of the poisonings and other assorted deaths of people who could be said were ‘inconvenient’ to the Kremlin happened in the U.K., after all. That is where Boris Berezovsky, the exiled oligarch who opposed Putin tooth and nail, was ‘suicided’ and it occurred in 2013 at his London estate when it was widely rumored he was looking for forgiveness for his treachery and was preparing to return to Mother Russia with a trove of documents.  Earlier still, the U.K. is where the Berezovsky employee Alexander Litvinenko met his death in 2006 from polonium poisoning in a very British cuppa tea.

However, more recently there were incidents in the U.K. which bear directly on the fate of Navalny, and their timing is very relevant. I am thinking about the Novichok poisoning of former Russian spy Alexander Skripal in Salisbury at the start of March 2018, ahead of the 18 March presidential elections in Russia that year, when Putin was making his return to power following the interregnum when Dmitry Medvedev was president….


Global power shift

Maersk CEO Says Military Operations Can’t Guarantee Safety of Ships in Red Sea
HEATHER MONGILIO, February 8, 2024 [USNI News]

The military operations in the Red Sea cannot guarantee the safety of commercial shipping in the region, the chief executive officer of a major shipping company said on Thursday.

During a 2023 third-quarter earnings call, Maersk CEO Vincent Clerc mentioned the lack of guaranteed safety in the Red Sea, which has come under several attacks by the Yemen-based Houthis in a Thursday interview on Bloomberg T.V.

Clerc said disruptions in the Red Sea have affected about a third of the company’s container volume, which was less than the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve not seen the level of threat peak, to the contrary,” Clerc said. “The amount or the range of weapons that are being used for these attacks is expanding and there is no clear line of sight to when and how the international community will be able to mobilize itself and guarantee safe passage for us.”

Russia Expanding Munitions Production, Says Norwegian Foreign Minister
JOHN GRADY, February 8, 2024 [USNI News]

Russia has ramped up its capacity to produce munitions, despite two years of war draining its stockpiles and increasingly severe economic sanctions, to continue its fight in Ukraine, Norway’s foreign minister said Wednesday.


Gaza / Palestine / Israel

Patrick Lawrence: The Crisis at The New York Times 

February 12, 2024 [Scheerpost]

…It has been evident to many of us since the genocide in Gaza began Oct. 7 that Israel risked asking too much of those inclined to take its side. The Zionist state would ask what many people cannot give: It would ask them to surrender their consciences, their idea of moral order, altogether their native decency as it murders, starves and disperses a population of 2.3 million while making their land uninhabitable.
The Israelis took this risk and they have lost. We are now able to watch videos of Israeli soldiers celebrating as they murder Palestinian mothers and children, as they dance and sing while detonating entire neighborhoods, as they mock Palestinians in a carnival of racist depravity one would have thought beyond what is worst in humanity—and certainly beyond what any Jew would do to another human being. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports, as American media do not, that the Israel Defense Forces covertly sponsor a social media channel disseminating this degenerate material in the cause of maintaining maximum hatred.…

Post–Gaza, apartheid Israel is unlikely ever to recover what place it enjoyed, merited or otherwise, in the community of nations. It stands among the pariahs now. The Biden regime took this risk, too, and it has also lost. Its support for the Israelis’ daily brutalities comes at great political cost….

Max Blumenthal thinks the crisis inside The Times reflects a deep divide between the newsroom, where there seems to be a surviving cohort of conscientious  journalists, and the upper reaches of management, where the paper’s ideological high priests reside. I have not been inside the Times building in well more than a decade, but there is a history to support this thesis. It goes at least as far back as the 1950s, when Aurthur Hays Sulzberger, as publisher, signed a secrecy agreement with the Central Intelligence Agency and gave tacit approval to correspondents who wanted to work for the agency.

Israel and Hamas 2023 Conflict In Brief: Overview, U.S. Policy, and Options for
Congress (pdf)

Congressional Research Service, November 30, 2023

[TW: Where there is no vision the people perish.]

Gaza and the End of the Rules-Based Order 

[Foreign Affairs, via Naked Capitalism 02-16-2024]

Why a Demilitarized Palestine Won’t Work

[Foreign Policy, via Naked Capitalism 02-16-2024]



Inside European finance’s most secretive society 

[Financial Times, via Naked Capitalism 02-11-2024]

FT. The Institut International d’Etudes Bancaires.

The IIEB was founded in Paris in 1950 by the heads of four lenders from across the continent — Crédit Industriel et Commercial, Union Bank of Switzerland, Société Générale de Belgique and Amsterdamsche Bank — with the aim of holding regular top-level discussions on developments in the banking sector, as well as the economy and monetary system.  It was part of a raft of cross-border institutions set up during that period to encourage closer ties between organisations from countries that had recently been at war with one another…. Ilaria Pasotti, a researcher who has studied the organisation’s early archives,
Jospeh Bullington, February 15, 2024 [In These Times]
A great many inholdings, including Crazy Peak and the meadows below it, had recently been sold to Switchback Ranch LLC, owned by billionaire private equity investor David Leuschen. And the company had plans for this property. One day, I followed a helicopter to a cabin construction site by an alpine lake on one of the company’s inholdings, 8,000 feet up and miles from a road. The area bristled with fresh ​“No Trespassing” signs.
Meanwhile, down in the foothills, other landowners were choking off public access routes and effectively privatizing vast swaths of the mountains.

What was going on here?

The Crazies, it seems, have been swept up in the wave of wealth and gentrification that is reshaping the West — driving up housing costs in nearby towns, displacing working-class residents and carving up the landscape for profit. Among the newcomers to the Crazies is CrossHarbor Capital Partners, which owns the Yellowstone Club, an ultra-exclusive residential development near Big Sky that boasts the only private ski and golf resort in the world and where membership costs millions of dollars. In 2021, CrossHarbor bought (through one of its subsidiary companies) the 18,000-acre Crazy Mountain Ranch and later announced plans for two golf courses. ​“As incredible a setting [as] there will ever be for the game of golf,” says the website. The company plans to run the ranch as ​“a private membership experience.”

Donald Cohen Exposing The Lies That Protect Power And Wealth in America

[Corporate Crime Reporter, February 14th, 2024]

…“As remarkable as this political progress has been, the political rhetoric surrounding the minimum wage remains surprisingly unchanged,” Hanauer writes in his new book (co-authored with Donald Cohen and Joan Walsh) titled Corporate Bullshit: Exposing the Lies and Half-Truths that Protect Profit, Power and Wealth in America (The New Press, 2023).

“Minimum wage opponents continue to deride every proposed increase as a surefire job-killer, while reporters and pundits reliably characterize the passage of every minimum wage ordinance and statute as a dangerous experiment that threatens to harm the very people it’s intended to help.”

….How did the book get started?

“It grew out of a project I was working on called The Cry Wolf Project,” Cohen told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview last week.

The Stories Corporations Tell 

Adam M. Lowenstein, February 16, 2024 [The American Prospect]

Two new histories of American capitalism reveal how alluring narratives have nurtured corporate power.

Taming the Octopus: The Long Battle for the Soul of the Corporation

By Kyle Edward Williams


One Day I’ll Work for Myself: The Dream and Delusion That Conquered America

By Benjamin C. Waterhouse



Taming the Octopus, which gets its title from a 1904 cartoon that depicted the Standard Oil trust as a sprawling, uncontrollable sea creature with tentacles reaching toward every corridor of power, traces the centuries-long American debate about the purpose of the corporation in society. It documents how the notion that private companies, rather than governments, should solve public problems—“corporate social responsibility” to most; “woke capitalism” to Vivek Ramaswamy and other Republican politicians—is a feel-good story that company bosses, academics, journalists, and “thought leaders” have been honing for decades.

Another new book, Benjamin C. Waterhouse’s One Day I’ll Work for Myself: The Dream and Delusion That Conquered America, charts the rise of the “persistent myth,” as the author puts it, that individual entrepreneurs and small businesses anchor the U.S. economy, and that every American would be better off “going it alone.”

Together, these histories trace the emergence and entrenchment of ideas about capitalism that have deeply infiltrated the American psyche. As a consequence, countless people live under the gnawing weight of economic precarity, and the notion that we might solve problems through collective action and democracy has been shattered….

One conclusion that emerges from Williams’s detailed and timely history is that little of today’s chatter about “stakeholder capitalism” or “ESG investing” (investing based on environmental, social, and governance standards) is as new, or as transformational, as the hype suggests. Time and time again, Williams demonstrates matter-of-factly, corporations have responded to public criticism with increasingly well-honed storytelling campaigns, designed primarily to resist momentum for new laws and regulations. And time and time again, journalists, professors, and thought leaders have been ready to endorse polished assurances that corporations really are different now.

[TW: One example of the idea of collective action having been shattered is the Obama administration’s refusal to discuss or even consider public works programs during the economic crises resulting from the financial crash of 2007-2009. In January 2008, I wrote about how Harry Hopkins, director of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Civil Works Administration (CWA), prevented mass starvation by putting over four million American on government payrolls in the winter of 1933-34. A commenter noted that “1934 was the last midterm congressional election when the Democrats gained seats in Congress with a Democrat in the White House.” A useful contrast: After Roosevelt, we got a half century of Democratic Party dominance that cemented in place Social Security and other New Deal programs. After Obama, we got a 47 percent increase in the cost of health insurance … and Donald Trump. ]

[TW: And just in case you forgot exactly how we got here, with the (anti)Republicans fighting to use the issue of immigration as a bludgeon against Democrats in the 2024 election: ]

Blame the poor and immigrants – clip from the closing scenes of The Big Short


The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

Boeing is a wake-up call: America’s businesses gambled that ‘greed is good.’ Now they’re losing that bet, big time.

[Business Insider, via The Big Picture 02-17-2024]

South Africa’s failed infrastructure privatisation and deregulation 

[CADTM, via Naked Capitalism 02-13-2024]

The Economics Teacher of the New Generation: Cryptocurrency Ideology 

[MR Online, via Naked Capitalism 02-16-2024]

The widespread ownership of crypto currencies has created the grounds for a very reactionary economic understanding among broad social segments, especially among young people.

Torching the Google car: Why the growing revolt against big tech just escalated 

[Blood in the Machine, via Naked Capitalism 02-15-2024]

…we know that trust in Silicon Valley in general is eroding, and anger towards the big tech companies — Waymo is owned by Alphabet, the parent company of Google — is percolating. Not just at self-driving cars, of course, but at generative AI companies that critics say hoover up copyrighted works to produce plagiarized output, at punishing, algorithmically mediated work regimes at the likes of Uber and Amazon, at the misinformation and toxic content pushed by Facebook and TikTok, and so on.

It’s all of a piece. All of the above contributes to the spreading sense that big tech has an inordinate amount of control over the ordinary person’s life — to decide, for example, whether or not robo-SUVs will roam the streets of their communities — and that the average person has little to no meaningful recourse.

Especially when government seems incapable or unwilling to push back. In the case of the robotaxi, even after public opposition from San Francisco city officials, firefighters and emergency responders and months of activist protest, a state body, the CPUC, overrode the city’s concerns and approved allowing more on the streets. Around the same time, California governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have required a human operator in self-driving trucks. Shortly after both decisions, the Cruise car hit the pedestrian.

When people feel like their backs are against the wall, that their voices are not being heard, that those who profit from the deployment of invasive technologies are being given free reign, well, it creates the kind of conditions in which we might not be surprised to see more drastic measures taken up directly against those technologies.


Information age dystopia / surveillance state  

how to uninstall copilot? i dont want to disable it i want to completely remove it from my system its a waste of space to me. 

[Microsoft, via Naked Capitalism 02-16-2024]

Co-pilot is Microsoft’s new AI tech, which is now “integrated with operating system” exactly as Internet Explorer once was.

The Bipartisan Bid to Stop Surveillance Reform

Luke Goldstein, David Dayen, February 16, 2024 [The American Prospect]

Rep. Mike Turner may have overstepped by publicly warning about Russian space nukes, but Democrats were also trying to use the intelligence to influence the vote on warrantless spying.

‘Enough Is Enough’: Australia Says Free Assange

Amy Goodman, Denis Moynihan, February 18, 2024 [CommonDreams]


Predatory Finance

Five Wall Street Banks Hold $223 Trillion in Derivatives — 83 Percent of All Derivatives at 4,600 Banks

Pam Martens and Russ Martens, February 13, 2024 [Wall Street on Parade]

[TW: USA 2021 GDP was $23.3 trillion; world 2021 GDP was $96.5 trillion.]

How to Diffuse the Derivatives Time Bomb

Ellen Brown, February 18, 2024 [CommonDreams]


Restoring balance to the economy

FTC Chair Khan: Stop Monopolies Before They Happen

[Axios, via Naked Capitalism 02-14-2024]

[Corporate Crime Reporter, via Naked Capitalism, February 15, 2024]

LERACH: “The Democratic administration – because politically they are dependent on corporate money, Wall Street money, the accounting firm money, corporate community money – they have become soft on prosecuting big corporate cases.”

“On the other hand, these cases are hard to prosecute. These corporate executives are smart. They are surrounded by lawyers and experts. They get opinions. They insulate themselves. To us, we might say – the conduct there is so bad they ought to be prosecuted. But when you get into it, proving criminal intent can be difficult.”

“So what are the results? A system whereby deferred prosecution agreements and big fines paid with corporate shareholder money, not the individual wrongdoers money, create headlines, create statistics for the prosecutors and a perfectly acceptable world for the corporate criminals where they can just go on with their conduct paying for it with the shareholders’ money. Now that’s not a good system.”


CCR: If Congress were to act to control corporate wrongdoing … what would you propose
that they do?

LERACH: I would re-establish aiding and abetting liability for professionals. I’d get rid of the strong inference subjective test in the PSLRA [Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995]. I would get rid of the ability to appeal interlocutory and class certification orders. I would get rid of the Morrison decision so that the poor class action cases don’t lose half their damages when they are filed because many investors are foreign or are buying on foreign exchanges. You do those things, you will see bigger recoveries, more lawsuits and more justice.

Major new study to identify Kleptocratic “red flags” and craft new anti-corruption rules 

[University of Exeter, via Naked Capitalism 02-14-2024]

Professor Heathershaw said: “Lawyers, accountants, company service providers and other professionals often play essential roles in the movement of illicit wealth. They can be enormously powerful and effective at resisting both scrutiny and regulation. This influence, along with the complexity of this terrain, has led to a lack of consensus around what counts as “enabling” activity and what consequences should follow.

Public Ownership of Housing Could Be Closer Than You Think

Mindy Isser, February 15, 2024 [In These Times]

Forget private developers—cities and states could just build their own housing to solve the crisis. In New York, now there’s a bill to do it….

New York is not the only state dealing with a housing crisis, which legislators and activists around the country are working creatively to solve. In Montgomery County, Maryland, an affluent suburban area outside of Washington D.C., legislators resolved to increase the affordable housing stock by using public money to create a revolving fund that would finance the building of nearly 9,000 new units. It’s a relatively new plan, passed by the Montgomery County Council in 2021, but so far it appears to be working: the first publicly-funded project opened in April 2023, and is 97% rented. And last February, voters in Seattle approved an initiative to create the Seattle Social Housing Developer, a public development authority to create social housing in the city.

Barbara Lee calls for $50/hour federal minimum wage 

[National Desk, via Naked Capitalism 02-17-2024]

…The representative continued, citing a United Way report that showed $127,000 is “just barely enough to get by” for a family of four in the San Francisco Bay Area. Another individual making $104,000 annually would be classified as low income, Rep. Lee said, citing another report.

“Just do that math. Just do that math,” Rep. Lee said. “Of course we have national minimum wages that we need to raise to a living wage. You’re talking about 20, 25 dollars, fine. But I have got to be focused on what California needs and what the affordability factor is when we calculate this wage.”


Collapse of independent news media

Over Three Decades, Tech Obliterated Media: My front-row seat to a slow-moving catastrophe. 

Kara Swisher [New York Magazine, via The Big Picture 02-11-2024]

In the early 1990s, I was a reporter at the Washington Post. Having just turned 30, I was the “young” person in the newsroom, so when the digital-media start-ups appeared, I got what many reporters looked at as the short end of the beat. They had no interest in understanding the massive changes that were happening. As I learned more, it often fell to me to explain what this newfangled internet was as if I were trying to explain a tree to a child….

In 1995, a quirky programmer in San Francisco named Craig Newmark started emailing friends a list of local events, job opportunities, and things for sale. The next year, he turned Craigslist into a web-based service and eventually started expanding it all over the country and the world.

It was clear this list was a giant killer, and I told everyone who would listen to me at the Post that we needed to put all the money, all the people, and all the incentives into digital. I insisted that the bosses had to make readers feel like digital was the most important thing. But the bosses never did because the business they knew was the physical paper….

Climate and environmental crises

28-Ton, 1.2-Megawatt Tidal Kite Is Now Exporting Power To the Grid 

[New Atlas, via Naked Capitalism 02-13-2024]

…Just as land-based wind energy kites fly in figure 8 patterns to accelerate themselves faster than the wind, so does the Dragon underwater. This, says Minesto, lets the Dragon pull more energy from a given tidal current than other designs – and it also changes the economic equations for relevant sites, making slower tidal flows worth exploiting.

These are by no means small kites – the Dragon 12 needs to be disassembled to fit in a shipping container. It rocks a monster 12-meter (39-ft) wingspan, and weighs no less than 28 tons. But compared to other offshore power options like wind turbines, it’s an absolute minnow, and extremely easy to install using a single smallish boat and a sea bed tether.

Chernobyl’s mutant wolves appear to have developed resistance to cancer, study finds

[Sky News, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 02-13-2024]

“Dr Cara Love, an evolutionary biologist and ecotoxicologist at Princeton University in the US, has been studying how the Chernobyl wolves survive despite generations of exposure to radioactive particles….. The researchers discovered that Chernobyl wolves are exposed to upwards of 11.28 millirem of radiation every day for their entire lives – which is more than six times the legal safety limit for a human. Dr Love found the wolves have altered immune systems similar to cancer patients undergoing radiation treatment, but more significantly she also identified specific parts of the animals’ genetic information that seemed resilient to increased cancer risk.”


Democrats’ political malpractice

The Democrats Are Blowing the 2024 Election

Jason Linkins, February 17, 2024 [The New Republic]

Joe Biden’s reelection hopes have been ill served by his complacent colleagues—who are currently getting pummeled by their more vigorous Republican counterparts….

There are always good reasons to complain about the political press—and Republicans do their own share of carping. But Democrats too often operate as if the media they’d prefer to have—temperate and fair, dedicated to substance and nuance, committed to preserving democracy—is the one that actually exists. Republicans don’t believe that the press is a noble institution and they don’t treat its members that way. Instead, they innately understand that the political press is just a ravenous, insensate maw looking for its next hot meal of crassness, chaos, conflict, and controversy—and Republicans always come with a heaping plate.

What Would Happen If Biden Stepped Aside?

Thomas Neuburger, February 13, 2024 []

…If Biden were to remove himself from the race, the answer to what would happen is already before us. Just examine the 2016 primary race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, and consider the role of superdelegates….

Consider a state like Michigan, where Sanders won the popular vote. The pledged delegate allocation was 67-63 Sanders. But with superdelegate preferences added in, Clinton won the state — it was reported as such on the national news — and the delegate distribution changed to 75-67 Clinton. Several states went from the Sanders column to the Clinton column in this way.

But worse, consider states won by Clinton in the popular vote, Iowa, for example. The pledged delegate count was 23-21 Clinton. With superdelegates added in, the count went to 29-21 Clinton. In Connecticut, 28-27 Clinton became 43-27 Clinton. The differences are most striking in states like California and New York, with their large delegate totals.
In all, with a total of 712 superdelegates available, Clinton started the race with an opening lead of 572-42. In the end, without her superdelegates, Clinton would not have won on the first ballot, even with the skewed reporting that served to depress the Sanders vote….

I’ve often written that had Sanders won the Democratic nomination, he’d have beaten Trump handily in the general election.

There are many arguments for this, including the fact that in many “open” primaries, where a voter could choose either a Democratic or a Republican ballot, Sanders beat Trump in most of them.
For example, in the open same-day primary on March 8 in Michigan, these are the popular vote totals:
  • Sanders: 595,222
  • Trump: 483,751​​​​​​​


A Biden Pre-Convention Withdrawal

The rules for superdelegates have changed a little since 2016. They’re now not allowed to vote on the first ballot. In this case, though, that wouldn’t matter. Since the Democratic leaders chose not to hold a real primary, almost no one but Biden will enter with a delegate count. Without Biden to vote for, the convention would be brokered from the start, and anyone could win — so long as they had superdelegate support….
If Biden Drops Out After the Convention
If Biden drops out after the Convention, the voters would have no say at all. According to Lee Fang in a paid post, superdelegates would “maintain direct control of the process if Biden were to step down after the convention.”

If Biden Steps Aside, Lobbyists Poised to Select Democratic Presidential Nomination 

Lee Fang, February 12, 2024 [via Thomas Neuburger]

If President Biden steps aside after the convention, the Democratic nomination is entirely in the hands of a small set of DNC insiders and corporate lobbyists….

Following Biden’s election in 2020, the president, as the de-facto leader of the Democratic Party, appointed former corporate lobbyist Jaime Harrison as DNC chairman. Harrison used his role to bring more business representatives into superdelegate positions and voted down proposals to limit the influence of special interests within the party.

Rather than limit the influence of lobbyists, the DNC doubled down. Harrison’s appointments DNC members include Lacy Johnson, who leads the lobbying practice at Taft’s Public Affairs Strategies Group, a firm that assists Koch Industries and a trade group for oil refineries with government outreach; Marcus Mason, a lobbyist who represents Google and Navient; and Nicole Isaac, a former Meta and Google official, now leads Cisco’s global lobbying operations.

The Harrison-led DNC has blocked efforts to curb corporate influence in the party. The Rules and Bylaws Committee has instead concentrated more power to a select group of DNC insiders. The committee is also responsible for the decision to remove Iowa and make South Carolina the first official primary election….

Minyon Moore, co-chair of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee, is an influential lobbyist who previously served as an aide to Bill and Hillary Clinton and now works at Dewey Square Group. DSG has worked for a variety of corporate interests. Lyft tapped DSG to fight proposals in California and Massachusetts that would force the company to provide benefits and minimum wages to its drivers….

Democrats Have Themselves a Victory in New York. But They Also Have a Problem 

[Slate, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 02-16-2024]

“The key to this race was the money. Democrats spent nearly $14 million, almost double the GOP’s $8 million investment in the race. According to AdImpact, the total ad spend for just this Long Island district totaled an eyewatering $21.4 million. That’s more than quadruple the outlay of the 2022 race that yielded Santos…. Waiting for the national party to airdrop a spending advantage of millions of dollars is not a sustainable way to win elections. The difficulty of this win and the price tag show the cost of the New York State Democratic Party’s refusal to reconcile with the failures of the party apparatus after the 2022 midterms. This district will also have to go back to the polls for this same race in November. How many millions will that cost? It could be a problem for Biden too. He may be old. He may be unpopular. But New York Democrats are a millstone around his neck, not the other way around. ‘This should not be a close race,’ said Klein, the progressive organizer, on election day. “It makes me very nervous for November.”

[Lambert Strether adds: “Lots of not-very-encouraging detail on NY Democrats.”]


(anti)Republican Party

Breaking: Talking Points Memo has details of the legal warfare to keep January 6 going for days

xaxnar, February 13, 2024 [DailyKos]

Talking Points Memo has gained access to a trove of documents that lay out how Kenneth Chesebro and other Trump attorneys planned to keep the 2020 election from being certified for days, until the Supreme Court would be forced to step in to settle….

”Today, we published a story — the first in a three-part series based on the documents — which reveals Trump’s attorneys theorizing about how a never-ending Jan. 6 could be engineered, and what it might look like. They envision hearings in Congress over the endless, mythical voter fraud claims which abounded after Trump refused to concede the 2020 election and, most of all, appeals to the Supreme Court to do in 2020 what it did in 2000: step in and resolve the count in favor of the GOP.

“Chesebro appears to have live-tweeted his plans along the way, via an account I uncovered called “Badger Pundit.” He cuts a bizarre figure: a well-credentialed outsider, willing to take on the persona of influential White House attorney at exactly the moment when the Trump campaign is desperately searching for a legitimate-seeming means to postpone the inevitable: recognizing that it lost the election.”

Trump’s ‘Knock on the Door’

Ron Brownstein, The Atlantic, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 02-13-2024]

“[Stephen Miller, Trump’s top immigration adviser] outlined the Trump team’s plans for a mass-deportation effort most extensively in an interview he did this past November on a podcast hosted by the conservative activist Charlie Kirk. In the interview, Miller suggested that another Trump administration would seek to remove as many as 10 million ‘foreign-national invaders’ who he claims have entered the country under Biden. To round up those migrants, Miller said, the administration would dispatch forces to ‘go around the country arresting illegal immigrants in large-scale raids.’ Then, he said, it would build ‘large-scale staging grounds near the border, most likely in Texas,’ to serve as internment camps for migrants designated for deportation. From these camps, he said, the administration would schedule near-constant flights returning migrants to their home countries. ‘So you create this efficiency by having these standing facilities where planes are moving off the runway constantly, probably military aircraft, some existing DHS assets,’ Miller told Kirk. In the interview, Miller acknowledged that removing migrants at this scale would be an immense undertaking, comparable in scale and complexity to ‘building the Panama Canal.’ He said the administration would use multiple means to supplement the limited existing immigration-enforcement personnel available to them, primarily at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, better known as ICE. One would be to reassign personnel from other federal law-enforcement agencies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the DEA. Another would be to ‘deputize’ local police and sheriffs. And a third would be to requisition National Guard troops to participate in the deportation plans.” Interestingly: “If Trump invoked the Insurrection Act, which dates back to 1792, he would have almost unlimited authority to use any military asset for his deportation program. Under the Insurrection Act, Trump could dispatch the Indiana National Guard into Illinois, take control of the Illinois National Guard for the job, or directly send in active-duty military forces, [Joseph Nunn, a counsel in the Liberty & National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School] said. ‘There are not a lot of meaningful criteria in the Insurrection Act for assessing whether a given situation warrants using it, and there is no mechanism in the law that allows the courts or Congress to check an abuse of the act,’ Nunn told me. ‘There are quite literally no safeguards.’”

The Right to Protest Is in Peril at the Supreme Court

Matt Ford, February 15, 2024 [The New Republic]


Disrupting mainstream politics

Are You An Activist? Do You Have A Dilemma? What Are We Going To Do About The Genocide In Gaza?

Howie Klein, February 12, 2024  []

Robb Willer is a much admired Stanford sociologist who studies, among other things, the effectiveness of activists’ tactics. I heard him on NPR talking about it yesterday. It didn’t surprise me when he said that when passionate activists use violence or aggressive disruption to protest their cause, they tend to turn off more people than they recruit to that cause— and it’s not even close. I wish I could have talked to him about how to protest the urgency of something as existential as genocide….

Four years earlier, Willer and Feinberg had already conducted 6 studies with over 1,300 participants. Willer told the Stanford News that they found “the most effective arguments are ones in which you find a new way to connect a political position to your target audience’s moral values… Moral reframing is not intuitive to people. When asked to make moral political arguments, people tend to make the ones they believe in and not that of an opposing audience— but the research finds this type of argument unpersuasive.” Feiberg added that “Our natural tendency is to make political arguments in terms of our own morality. But the most effective arguments are based on the values of whomever you are trying to persuade.”

Willer laid out this part of their research (more reframing) well as part of a TEDTalk he did in 2017. Watch:



Open Thread


Lightning Strikes And Third Parties


  1. Jefferson Hamilton

    Tony, do you have a “civic republicanism” reading list? A book or handful of books that explain what it is, how it used to operate on a day to day, local and federal basis in the United States? I think you may have posted something like that in the past.

  2. different clue

    Well! . . . Lambert Strether’s thinly veiled magasbara for Trump and the Trumpists has finally reached the point of reaching the necessity of being overtly noted by Tony Wikrent.

    I suspect it is only a matter of time before Strether in particular and NaCap in general moves from stealth support for Trump-in-particular to overt support for Trump-in-particular, and the stealth “amen closet” for Trump which many commenters over there have maintained for quite a while will become an open amen-corner before the election. And they will play the “TDS card” more and more and more.

    And in the other direction, I assume Chris Hedges will advise people to vote against Biden one way or another because the moral burden of voting for genocide Joebama is just too great to bear no matter what the consequences of the return of the Trump. I suspect that Thomas Franks and Noam Chomsky will advise people to vote for Biden because the “greater evil” of the return of the Trump will be too much greater to be endured. And I suspect Ralph Nader will treat us to some irrelevant twittering about how there is not a ” dime’s worth of difference ” between them because they both represent “corporate America”.

  3. different clue

    Rep. Barbara Lee’s call for a $50.00/hr Federal Minimum Wage is a good idea and would be an interesting experiment. If it could somehow be forced into law it would raise the living standard of ordinary Americans living in low-ish priced places for a few years before the lords of property raised prices in those places enough to nullify the value of $50.00 an hour. And if they actually did that, they would make clear by their own actions to a 100 million ordinary Americans who try their hardest not to think about any politics at all, let alone Class politics, that they do indeed have enemies and who those enemies are.

    And it the shortest run, it would enable several million Californians to be able to afford to flee the Silicon Shithole which the Tech Industry has turned the entire Greater Bay Area into.

    Barbara Lee would be a Democrat I could vote FOR for President.

  4. surreal

    “Lambert Strether applauds (anti)Republicans for opposing the campaign of the intelligence agencies against Trump, but I do not think these (anti)Republicans are acting from any moral commitment to the good. Rather, their position is part of their partisan warfare against the Democrats, calculated to gain a political advantage.”

    Indeed. This has become particularly more apparent of late.

    Naked Capitalism does a fair amount of gatekeeping, and as bruce wilder once stated, “Yves Smith” breaks all her own rules.

  5. VietnamVet

    The first axiom is that for civilization to exist it needs government to organize the economic and political structures of humans in groups larger than 150 people. So far this has evolved into governments of autocratic hierarchies, cartels of oligarchs, or democratic republics. Republics have two main advantages 1) peaceful transfer of power and 2) feedback from the governed. Culture and education keep civilization going.

    Basically, the US Republic was overthrown in Nov. 1963 in Dallas Texas and the transition to the Western Empire was complete with the Iraq Invasion which was not in the best interests of the American people. The Empire has been at war with Russia since 2014 and still occupies Syria and Iraq but lost the war of occupation in Afghanistan.

    Dick Nixon first used the Southern Strategy in reaction of the Civil Rights movement to get elected but he didn’t understand that the Deep State has its own imperial objectives. For withdrawing from the colonial war in Vietnam, they used Watergate to force his resignation. Jimmy Carter started the privatization of government. Ronald Reagan ignited the plutocrats counter-revolt that ended the “New Deal”. Bill Clinton used divide and rule to gain power. George W Bush, Barrack Obama and Joe Biden were pulled from behind the curtain to rule as the oligarchs want — expand corporate profits from war, pandemics, and resource/worker exploitation — “Greed is Good”.

    Donald Trump was Americans reaction to the globalist rule. He has been levied 350 million dollars for daring to run again for Emperor President. Prison or worse awaits. WW3 is underway, ocean shipping choke points are closing, and a peaceful transfer of power seems unlikely. The Deep State and Corporate Oligarchs must give sovereignty back to the People if they want to keep their jobs, wealth, lives, and avoid the looming chaos of losing a world war.

    The first priority to avoid Armageddon is signing UN Armistices, separating the combatants with strong borders /DMZs, reestablishing diplomacy, and acknowledging the validity of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).

  6. It is interesting how Naked Capitalism thinks it’s bad that a criminal capitalist after spending decades committing crimes and fraud is finally getting charged after he became a politician. Like , oh noes the CIA spied on someone with foreign mob connections how horrible! Whatever is the country coming to that a rich guy can’t do what ever they want? That there is a line before fines and charges start coming.
    Lambert and Yves at Naked capitalism do like to censor comments critical of their opinions. Another example of the new boss being the same as the old.

  7. I agree with both Tony Wikrent and different clue and surreal above. While I think NC provides valuable links, I find the editorial position that the site has taken on Trump a bridge too far.

    Like Tony, I’m a civic republican (a complicated read on civic republicanism that is worthwhile can be found in J.G.A. Pocock, _The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition_.).

    With that in mind, January 6th was an extremely serious violation of the constitutional order. January 6th was more in character with events from the post-bellum South in which armed mobs attempted, and sometimes did, overturn the lawful election of candidates for public office – than, say, Shays’ Rebellion, though all are insurrectionary (I wrote my undergrad thesis on Shays’ Rebellion and am sympathetic to it, but it was definitely an insurrection).

    Indeed, I think it’s notable that Lambert, who for so many years has declared his hatred for the Confederacy, is forced now to maintain that the storming – by a violent mob with the Stars and Bars flying – of the seat of the national legislature was somehow not an insurrection against the Constitution.

    Nor is it supportable to say that because Russiagate was bad and bullshit – which it was! – that Jan. 6 was somehow not insurrectionary. In addition to being a _tu quoque_ argument, it ignores one critical fact: Russiagate did not resort to force. This is a crucial distinction.

    And while Democrats contested the 2000 Election, when the legal system gave them an answer they didn’t want to hear, they didn’t like it, but nevertheless accepted it. They did not make the appeal to force that was made on Jan. 6th.

    It’s hard for me to divine what Naked Capitalism/Lambert/Yves’ actual ideology is these days. I find the line that goes something like: “I hate the Democrats for not being left enough, so will tacitly or overtly support the far right” to be an insupportable one.

  8. Feral Finster

    N.b. Roy Cohn died in 1986. The idea that admitted ties to Roy Cohn should inspire spying 40 years later is silly. As is the idea that Trump had some tie to the Russian Mafia.

    Didn’t vote for Trump in 2016. Didn’t vote for Trump in 2020. No present intent to vote for Trump in 2024.

  9. Tony Wikrent makes a good point about Lambert Strether’s not too subtle pro Trump advocacy. I agree with prior comments that there is an amen chorus of pro Trump support on that site. As for Susan Webber’s rules based orders for comments, yes, she and Lambert routinely disregard those strictures. Naked Capitalism is a haven for contrarians. I am a contrarian, but a return of Trump will not provide a haven any longer for us.
    Neither the Democratic party nor the Republican party will field presidential candidates that will strive to meet the terrible challenges that confront the world: unregulated rapacious corporate capitalism, COVID and climate change. Reigning in the first of that list enables tackling the next two.
    For us, neither party shows the slightest inclination to reform our military industrial complex. The Ukraine proxy war has shown what an absolute boondoggle our military munitions design and procurement is.
    I am going to ignore the Naked Capitalism dictate and vote Green.
    Let me close in praise to this site and in particular Ian Welsh — these two articles were prescient and have stood the test of time:

  10. bruce wilder

    it would have been malpractice for USA intelligence agencies NOT to make such requests

    Say what?

    I guess I had a “knee jerk” reaction to further confirmation that the national security state has been herding the U.S. into a war with Russia over Ukraine since 2008 and did not want Orange Bad Man interfering. I thought disabling the Presidency was akin to overthrowing the decayed remnants of the Republic — elections, rule of law, open debate, free press, you know those trivialities.

    I had no idea that the Republican spirit of Brennan, Clapper, and Comey was there to save us. I am so glad you opened my eyes.

  11. Z

    Does anyone know where I can get a “Go Yemen!” t-shirt?


  12. different clue

    All these grievances over NaCap having been aired, it remains to be said that Lambert Strether’s covid-tracking work over the past few years is valuable beyond the value of value. And the advice from all different people about withstanding covid one way or another would be very valuable if filtered out from its extremely diluted spread among all the NaCap comment threads and all copy-pasted here in the appropriate threads so it could all be found in one place at one time.

    That would be a time-intensive labor-of-love-and-duty for one of us commenters to perform, or maybe several of us to perform parts of.

  13. CH

    Heartening to see people finally coming to their senses and starting to realize that Naked Capitalism is basically a Russian front site, a product of their investments in infiltrating the Far Left (with MAGA being a product of their investments in the Far Right). I’m waiting for someone to do what they did for Zero Hedge a few years back and dig who’s really behind this site, and the backstory of the mysterious “Lambert Strether” (a pseudonym from a Henry James novel) and “Yves Smith” (Susan Weber, whom I’ve actually met in real life). Back in the 1980s, there was a lot of recruiting of finance people on Wall Street sympathetic to the cause (see also, Hudson, Michael). Those investments are now paying off.

    And speaking of people with Russian connections, rather than believe discredited hack Matt Taibbi (Elon Musk’s best pal), if you actually read the Muller report you would know that Russiagate is hardly a “hoax.” It’s free online if you dare:

    Or you could peruse Wikipedia’s page on links between Trump and Russian officials:

    Oh, but it’s all CIA propaganda, right? Lol!

    Maybe Leftists will realize that invasion, imperialism, and dictatorship are wrong, even when the Russians are doing it. The fact that you people are listening to a former KGB agent who has been in power over 20 years, just recently assassinated one his main rivals, claims Alaska still belongs to Russia, and has actually INVADED A FOREIGN NATION is so farcical as to beggar belief. But no, please tell me once again how the U.S. is the biggest threat to peace in the world today. And spare me the conspiracy theories. Maybe the American Left has a chance to regain its moral compass.

  14. In response to Jefferson Hamilton’s request:

    There are, of course, the ancient texts on republicanism, the foremost being Plato’s Republic., and Cicero’s works. It is my belief that there has never been a time in human history when whatever power structure existed embraced republicanism. Hence, the historical record has been muddied and twisted, often quite deliberately. This should always be kept in mind. It is why (I believe) it is taught that Machiavelli’s most important work was The Prince, while mention is avoided of The Discourses on Livy,
    which is actually Machiavelli’s most through discussion of government and republicanism. Similarly, it is taught that John Locke was a major influence on the American founders, but a handful of scholars whom I consider most familiar with the founders – such as Bernard Bailyn – report that James Harrington was a much greater influence.
    So, beware whenever you find someone interpreting republicanism as a prop for an existing power structure. There has been a constant battle to define and interpret republicanism, and its enemies have not been shy about claiming the title for themselves. The most outrageous example may be the attempts by the southern slaveholders to masquerade their slave societies as republics. This is one of the reasons James Fenimore Cooper wrote The Bravo.

    During and immediately after the American Civil War, the Senators and Representatives of the Union had to define what a republic is, and what it isn’t, as they discussed and debated how best to bring the militarily defeated slave states back into the Union. This is the subject of an excellent and important book by Forrest A. Nabors, From Oligarchy to Republicanism: The Great Task of Reconstruction (Columbia, Mo., University of Missouri Press, 2017).

    Out of that struggle to define a republic, comes what I judge the most comprehensive explanation of civic republicanism: the two-day speech by Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts in February 1866. Sumner is proposing what become part of the Reconstruction Amendments passed over the next few years. It is long, and perhaps tiring and even grating on our modern ears, but it is thorough, and a beautiful example of 19th century American political oratory. Since reading it, I continue to be astonished that it is so often not included or mentioned in most books on American history and theory of government.

    Senator Sumner was such a persistent and powerful critic of Southern slave holders that in May 1856, South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks nearly killed Sumner on the floor of the Senate by beating him over the head with a cane. Brooks continued to beat Sumner even after Sumner had lost consciousness. It was a planned and coordinated attack. Other Senators were prevented from stopping the attack by Virginia Representative Henry A. Edmundson and South Carolina Representative Laurence Keitt, who brandished a pistol. Sumner required three years to recover before he could return to his Senate seat, and suffered chronic, debilitating pain for the rest of his life. Two weeks after the attack, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “I do not see how a barbarous community and a civilized community can constitute one state. I think we must get rid of slavery, or we must get rid of freedom.”

    This first link to Sumner’s speech is to the scans of the actual pages in an 1876 book. Sumner included a large number of quotes from the founders, so you will save yourself a lot of time and research just going through Sumner’s speech looking for them, if that’s all you want. If you don’t want to read the entire speech, I highly recommend reading at least pages 176 to 188.

    If you want a summary, Sumner explains that the most important principles of republicanism are justice, and the general welfare.

    1. The Equal Rights of All: The Great Guaranty and Present Necessity, for the Sake of Security, and to Maintain a Republican Government. Speech in the Senate, on the proposed Amendment of the Constitution fixing the Basis of Representation, February 5 and 6, 1866. With Appendix . .
    Charles Sumner, Works, Volume 10, p 174ff,
    The Works of Charles Sumner, Vol. X., Boston: Lee and Shepard. 1876.

    P109 Disenfranchisement inconsistent with republican government, (very germane to what (anti)Republicans are doing today, in Georgia, and other states)
    P136 Guarantee of republican form of government

    This second link is a shortened version of excerpts I posted in July 2022.
    Charles Sumner speech on civic republicanism, February 1866, excerpted

    Nabors summarizes and excerpts Sumner’s speech on pages 107 to 113.

    2. The Creation of the American Republic 1776-1787, by Gordon S. Wood (University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC, 1969) is quite readable, but also very long—627 pages. Wood devoted one chapter to explaining republicanism, and it is available online here:
    “REPUBLICANISM” from Gordon Wood’s Creation of the American Republic.
    This one chapter is probably the second best thing to read, after Sumner’s speech.

    3. Bonfield, Arthur E., “The Guarantee Clause of Article IV, Section 4: A Study in Constitutional Desuetude”, [On the Constitutional guarantee of the federal government that each state shall have a republican form of government]
    46 Minnesota Law Review 513 (May, 1961)

    4. The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, by Bernard Bailyn (Harvard University Press, 1967)
    Bailyin spent untold years tracking down and studying over 600 pamphlets, broadsheets, and newspaper commentaries of the Revolutionary era. These were published in a series of books by HUP. But Ideological Origins is Bailyin’s masterful summary of this work. While hailed as a landmark of American historiography, Bailyin is often ignored completely. Just another reminded that existing power structures have no tolerance for a widespread dissemination of the ideas of republicanism.

    In 1988, an entire issue of the Yale Law Review was entitled, “Symposium: The Republican Civic Tradition.” Yale Law Review, Vol. 97, No. 8, Jul., 1988.Two of the articles in it are my sixth and seventh recommendations.

    6. Law’s Republic, by Frank Michelman
    Not an easy read – a few months ago, when I referred to it, one person dismissed it as a mishmash. But I think Michelman’s concept of “juris-generative” change to conform ever more closely to the republican ideals of justice and the general welfare is both beautiful and elegant.

    7. Beyond the Republican Revival, by Cass R. Sunstein (actual article in pdf)

    8. Erwin Chemerinsky, Why Cases Under the Guarantee Clause Should Be Justiciable, 65 University of Colorado Law Review 849-880 (1994).
    Chemerinsky is reportedly the most cited “liberal” constitutional scholar alive today.

    9. Fink, Zera S., The Classical Republicans: An Essay in the Recovery of a Pattern of Thought in Seventeenth Century England, ( Evanston, Northwestern University, 1945). This is, in my opinion, the clearest and most accurate summary of some of the ancients, especially Harrington. I am unhappy that Fink has so much material on Venice, but the discussion in interesting and informative nonetheless. As far as I am concerned, Venice ought never be considered a proper republic. Again, refer to Cooper’s The Bravo.

    I am sympathetic to bruce wilder’s reaction. It highlights the essential tension between civic republicanism and the real world: is it possible to maintain moral purity in a world full of sinners? Even worse, most often, the wicked are triumphing. (Psalm 94). So the role of intelligence agencies in a republic is a most interesting – and vital – issue. I have to wonder if bruce wilder would have a similarly strongly reaction to the stories of how slaves spied for the Union during the Civil War. Or the example of a particularly cruel slave owner who was murdered in his bed by a pro-Union partisan guerilla, who was carried by the plantation’s slaves several hundred feet from his horse to the slave owner bedroom window, then carried back again, so that the blood hounds the next day had no odor trail to follow? (Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves, Matthew 10:16).

    Tomorrow, I shall post on the issue of the political economy of civil republicanism.

    I hope this helps. I alos hope there is some feedback.

  15. bruce wilder

    @CH. Oh, but it’s all CIA propaganda, right? Lol!

    The Mueller Report repeating what Mueller was told by the CIA is, yes, CIA propaganda. Duh.

    The provenance of that Wikipedia article is probably not much better.

    I wish we could trust both, but we cannot and that goes directly to the damage the CIA does to the republic and to the political discourse.

    The system of classification is the bane of democratic deliberation. It isn’t like most of what is classified is really a secret, but classification serves to prevent discussion by making it illegal for officials to acknowledge “classified” facts or even look at “classified” documents that leak.

    The intelligence agencies pretend that they have superior knowledge that they cannot share and then make claims and “assessments” without disclosing the supporting facts — there may not be any supporting facts!

    The republic goes to war on false premises. The war is conducted on false premises and contrary to public strictures. People and political movements are subjected to illegal surveillance.

  16. Tony Wikrent

    There are painfully few books on the proper economics policies for a republic. I believe this is because liberalism has almost entirely supplanted republicanism as capitalism developed, and has been crushingly ascendant the past half century or so. The early economic history of USA is murky because of the struggle between republicanism, and the oligarchs of the southern slave holding states. It is important to further note that the north was not at all unified in this struggle, because the shipping families and interests of New England were morally corrupted by their involvement in the slave trade, and then the opium trade.

    Nonetheless, we can look at the basic policies implemented by first Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton for guidance. A major problem here is that Hamilton has been relentlessly slandered as an elitist and even a monarchist. Actually reading Hamilton’s major reports to Congress, and his report to President Washington on the constitutionality of a national bank, thoroughly refutes these slanders. Most especially Hamilton’s December 1796 Report to Congress on the Subject of Manufactures, with its emphasis on increasing the productive powers of labor by developing machine technology. Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamiton is excellent, but for a treatise more focused on Hamilton’s economics, I highly recommend

    Parenti, Christian, Radical Hamilton: Economic Lessons From a Misunderstood Founder, New York, London, Verso, 2020.

    Hamilton’s policies were the foundation for what became known as the American System, and historians generally agree there were three principal tenets:
    • A protective tariff to prevent Americans from having to compete with the slave labor of the British empire, and the encourage the development of infant industries;
    • Internal Improvements, or building what we call today infrastructure;
    • A national banking system that constrains the abuses of speculation.

    In addition, I believe there are three more tenets that are crucial to the political economy of a republic, but which, for whatever reasons, have been ignored or overlooked by historians:
    • A doctrine of high wages, most often called “the economy of high wages”;
    • A positive requirement to do good, as exemplified and expounded repeatedly by Benjamin Franklin.
    • Support and direct funding for science, and development of new technologies.

    Perhaps the most important book, given the economic and political conditions we now face, is
    Thompson, Michael J., The Politics of Inequality: A Political History of the Idea of Economic Inequality in America, New York, NY, Columbia University Press, 2007.

    “….the economic egalitarian tradition that I will present here is so crucial because it is at the heart of the American republican project itself. The American idea of a democratic republic had always been premised on an antipathy toward unequal divisions of property because early American thinkers saw in those unequal shares of economic power echoes of what had been historically overturned: a sociopolitical order of rank and privilege; a static society that sought to crystallize power relationships and hierarchical economic and social relations characterized by corruption and patronage; in short, a feudal order where the exercise of power was arbitrary and the prospect of domination pervaded everyday life…. (p. 4)
    ….In contrast to the liberal vision, the republican idea of equality and freedom saw political and social freedom more in terms of the elimination of institutions that would interfere with the freedom of individuals and the arrangement of institutions so that domination and interference of individual freedom were eliminated. Even more, they were able to see the political implications of inequality in the ways that perverted power relations would unduly affect the public good, steering democratic institutions away from their universalist ends….

    “The kind of republicanism that informed the views of the critics of economic inequality throughout the nineteenth century saw such inequality as the result not of merit and reward but of the emerging economic institutions of capitalism. Inequality was produced by a new economic aristocracy, and as inequality grew, the disparity in the relations of power between workers and capitalists would continue to broaden. The emergence of the wage system was particularly problematic not only because it would create a new form of economic servitude—something that the critics of inequality thought the American Revolution had eliminated—but because, as an institution, it was creating an unequal society based on the unequal division of property and wealth rather than one based on merit and reward. There were no illusions about what capital actually was and what its effects would be. The republican themes of this critique were essential because they enabled egalitarian critics to view inequality not as a phenomenon of interpersonal differences but as an institutional phenomenon that was intimately tied to the politics of human liberty. (Pp. 191-192)”

    In addition:

    Huston, James L., Securing the Fruits of Labor: The American Concept of Wealth Distribution, 1765-1900, (Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 1998), has some excellent material on the economy of high wages”

    Schoenhof, J., With an introduction for the Garland edition by Michael Hudson, The economy of high wages.

    Hudson, Michael, America’s Protectionist Takeoff 1815-1914: The Neglected American School of Political Economy, Islet-Verlag 2010.

    Kasson, John E., Civilizing the Machine, Technology and Republican Values in America, 1776-1900, New York, Grossman, 1976; Penguin 1977.

    Boritt, Gabor S., Lincoln and the Economics of the American Dream. Memphis, Memphis University Press, 1978.

    Larson, John Lauritz, Internal Improvement: National Public Works and the Promise of Popular Government in the Early United States, Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2001.

    Dupree, A. Hunter, Science in the Federal Government: A History of Policies and Activities to 1940, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1957, reprinted by Harper Torch Books, 1964.

  17. anon

    “Lambert Strether” posted this in his “standalone water cooler” today:

    I posted this in reply:

    NOTE Adding, there are real vascular effects from Covid, no question. But these “white fibrous clots,” putatively encountered by embalmers, and now going viral, are not real.


    Putatively: generally thought or claimed to be a certain way, although it may not be

    Lambert, I know this is that dreaded homework assignment that’s against the rules (you guys once banned me for breaking your “Harvin Ellison rule” I believe it was. I forget, it’s hard to keep track).

    Anyhoo, please reach out to Air Force Major Tom Haviland and the two embalmers Dr John Campbell – who has written three books on physiology himself – has had on. Calling John Campbell a charlatan doesn’t pass the smell test. Nor does posting pictures of sausage and pasta and not the pictures that Air Force Major Tom Haviland and others have provided to Campbell.

    I know Major Haviland would love to share his findings with you and Naked Capitalism.

    Also. since you’re already doing this bit of homework, and in parallel with this assignment, please reach out to Dr Peter McCullough. I’d love to hear you talk to him about the “real vascular effects” of covid. And also the shots.

  18. Jefferson Hamilton

    Tony, thanks very much for posting all that. Certainly far too much for me to go through in short order, but I am reading that chapter from the Wood book and may have some thoughts next week.

    In the meantime, maybe take a look at this article by Tanner Greer (a conservative) and see if it jibes with your ideas of civic republicanism, because when you talk about it, this is the sort of thing I think of:

    To my mind there are really four questions that have to be answered about the idea of civic republicanism:

    1. What *is* it? You’ve provided an awful lot of reading material, which I hope to go through, but at least so far it seems more like an attitude than anything else. Greer, at least, seems have some kind of organizing principle in mind that could theoretically be actualized.

    2. What form did it take in the past? Your answer appears to be (correct me if I am wrong) no form per se because it was incompatible with any previously actually existing form of government. Greer’s answer would probably be an (admittedly, attitude-based) bottom-up organization of civic groups.

    3. Why did it fall out of use/favor?

    4. How could it be reconstituted today?

    Anyway, back to reading.

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