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

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – February 7, 2021

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – February 7, 2021
by Tony Wikrent

Strategic Political Economy

If There’s No Fear of Inflation, Why is GOP Against More Stimulus? – Rana Foroohar and Mark Blyth — Transcript here

​​​​​​​Mark Blyth. ….arguing about deficits is just a footnote on the wider agenda of power for the sake of power. Why do they do this? Because they know that existentially Republicanism has run its course. As Rana just said, there’s only so much you can give to business before they’ve got everything, which is pretty much where we are now. There’s nothing more to give. We need huge amounts of infrastructure repair. We need huge amounts of social investment in the economy and elsewhere. And this is anathema to everything the Republicans have stood for and delivered on for the past 30 years, which is simply more money for me and to hell with the rest of you. So they’re not going to turn this around….

Rana Foroohar. I completely agree with that. And I think it actually brings up something I’m quite worried about, which is the fine line that the Biden administration has to walk right now in executing even part of their Build Back Better, Reward Work Not Wealth strategy, without creating such a bumpy ride from here to there that the Republicans can say, well, look, look what Joe Biden did. Now the markets have crashed… because if you think about what we’re trying to do, if we pull way back, this administration is trying to shift the American economy structurally from being an economy that is based on debt and asset price bubbles to one that is based on income and wage growth. And that’s a laudable goal. But it’s also like turning the Titanic.

….you might actually know when the markets crash that things are getting better in the U.S. economy because certain things have to be done. Raising taxes on companies, the labor share rising, some of the push for union labor that’s coming with the Defense Production Act. All of that is going to dampen profits. It’s going to frighten investors and the hot money is going to run.


Mark Blyth. ….the weird thing is there’s $18 trillion in negative yield and long-term government debt in the world today. Right. The existence of this is a bit like the existence of dark matter. It’s what binds the universe together. And if it exists, it means that all those other stories about hyperinflation, they simply can’t be true…. Because what it means is investors are willing to buy government debt at a loss. And if they’re willing to buy government debt at a loss simply because they want to purchase security, because they’re uncertain about the future, then by definition they cannot be expecting an inflation. Because if they were, they would insist on a higher interest rate, not a negative one….

….So let’s think about some of the models, that constrain us here. And I don’t mean sort of the fancy formal ones. I mean the informal ones in our heads. Most people do not understand that governments are not like households. Most people do not spend their time thinking about the difference between money and high-powered money, bank reserves, and all the rest of the stuff that makes government’s ability to finance itself qualitatively different from households, we’ve definitely love the household analogy… you’ve got to deal with the folk models in people’s heads. And the vast majority of Americans do not think that running up extra 15 trillion dollars in debt just because there’s a virus that’s taking out one in a hundred people is a good idea. And if you do that when it comes to the midterms, you’re going to pay an awful electoral price even if it is the right thing to do.

Severe Dysfunction in Washington and Wall Street Puts the U.S. at Risk of Capital Flight

Pam Martens and Russ Martens: February 3, 2021 [Wall Street on Parade]

There is recent evidence that the U.S. is already seeing capital flight. According to a January 24 report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, China beat out the U.S. in foreign direct investment inflows last year, receiving $163 billion versus $134 billion for the U.S. That was a radical change from 2019 when the U.S. received $251 billion in foreign direct investment versus $140 billion for China.

Capital flight could accelerate this year if the craziness in Congress and Wall Street continues. Just ask yourself this, would you want to invest in a country that had scenes of a bloody attempted coup of the government featured on the front pages of newspapers around the world? Would you want to risk your savings in a stock market that has ceased to perform its two key functions: a pricing mechanism for the value of companies and efficient allocation of capital to worthy businesses and industries.

Elon Musk Interview: 1-on-1 with Sandy Munro

Elon Musk Discusses Build Quality Problems With Engineer Who Compared Model 3 To ‘A Kia In The ’90s’ 

[Jalopnik, via The Big Picture 2-4-21]

Progressives and leftists using a Marxian type of class analysis have failed to notice that Musk has accomplished something no one else has done in just over a century: achieve mass production of a new automobile in USA. While Musk’s relations with his employees leaves much to be desired, and his political views are anything but progressive, the fact is that Muck is providing a rare example of new technologies being implemented to create an economic phase shift. Those critics who point out that Musk’s companies depend on government support miss the point that government support is exactly what is needed to push the economy in new directions — in this case, ending our dependence on burning fossil fuels.  In their conversation, Musk and Munro discussed a number of topics that illustrate the analytical power of Veblen’s business versus industry paradigm: design of seats for passenger vehicles; wire harnesses; modern road design; and why getting an MBA prevents you from managing an industrial corporation competently.

What happens when you take a manufacturing expert with decades of automotive engineering experience and put him in a room with a science nerd like Elon Musk? ….He recently sat down with one of Tesla’s biggest build-quality critics, manufacturing expert Sandy Munro, founder of the benchmarking consultancy Munro & Associates. Here’s what Musk had to say about large panel gaps and poorly designed body structures in what has to be one of the most epic technical interviews I’ve seen in a while….

Tesla’s CEO then fesses up to his company’s build-related mistakes and dives into why they’ve been happening….  “The organizational structure errors, they manifest themselves in the product,” he begins. “We’ve got probably the best material science team in the world at Tesla. Engineers would ask what’s the best material for this purpose…and they got like 50 different answers. And they’re all true individually, but they were not true collectively,” he admits.

“When you try to join all these dissimilar alloys…you’ve got gaps that you’ve got to seal, and you’ve got to join these things, and some of them need to be joined with rivets, some of them need to be joined with spot welds, some of them need to be joined with resin or resin and spot welds,” he continues. “Frankly, it looks like a bit of a Frankenstein situation when you look at it all together.”

….The rest of the interview remains thoroughly nerdy. There’s discussion about cars’ natural frequencies, about how reducing polar moment of inertia by bringing mass toward the car’s center of mass yields better handling. There’s discussion about tolerance stack-up and how that leads Tesla to almost always err toward fewer pieces and Lego-like parts precision.

Munro mentions his company’s BMW i3 findings, lauding the German automaker’s excellent build quality for the carbon-fiber body. Musk replies that one of his major concerns about use of carbon fiber is that it has a vastly different coefficient of thermal expansion than aluminum or steel, and this can cause fitment issues when the vehicle is subjected to certain thermal environments.

When the Electric Car Is King, Less Energy Is More 

[Bloomberg, via The Big Picture 2-3-21]

Here’s a surprise: Electrifying U.S. vehicles wipes out the equivalent of our entire current power demand.

“General Motors to eliminate gasoline and diesel light-duty cars and SUVs by 2035”

[Washington Post, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 2-1-21]

“General Motors has pledged to stop making gasoline-powered passenger cars, vans and sport utility vehicles by 2035, marking a historic turning point for the iconic American carmaker and promising a future of new electric vehicles for American motorists…. GM has said it would invest $27 billion in electric vehicles and associated products between 2020 and 2025, outstripping its spending on conventional gasoline and diesel vehicles. That figure includes refurbishing factories and investing in battery production in conjunction with LG Chem, a South Korean battery maker.”

Biden Wants the Government to Run on EVs. It Won’t Be Easy

[Wired, via Naked Capitalism 2-2-21]

South Korea Leads World in Innovation; U.S. Drops Out of Top 10

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism 2-3-21]

The U.S., which topped the first Bloomberg Innovation Index in 2013, dropped two places to 11th. In a report last year, the National Science Board found that “where once the U.S. was the uncontested leader in science and engineering, we are now playing a less dominant role.”

The country scores badly in higher education, even though U.S. universities are world-famous. That underperformance was likely made worse by obstacles to foreign students, who are usually prominent in science and technology classes — first due to the Trump administration’s visa policies, and later to the pandemic.

Manufacturing: “U.S. Is Losing the Battery Race Despite Having the Right Stuff” [Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 2-4-21]

“[T]he U.S. has most of the ingredients it needs for a battery-building industry. It has the raw materials, with three companies developing facilities to extract lithium from subsurface brine in the Southern California desert, while similar projects are under way in Arkansas and Nevada. It also has the demand. Utilities are plugging big batteries into the electric grid to store renewable power and protect against blackouts. And U.S. automakers are ramping up production of EVs… For U.S. automakers, there’s good reason to want batteries built here. In an era of trade turmoil, relying on imported batteries could be problematic, even if President Biden abandons his predecessor’s use of tariffs. And with car companies worldwide shifting to electrics, Detroit will need an ample supply to keep car prices low. Plus, EV battery packs are big and heavy, making them expensive to ship. The pack for a compact Chevrolet Bolt, for example, weighs about 950 pounds. U.S. battery factories feeding U.S. auto plants could reduce those costs. ‘Think about shipping a couple million battery packs from Asia—it’s a nightmare,’ says Brett Smith, director of technology for the Center for Automotive Research. ‘It just becomes more logistically reasonable to build it here.’”

You’re Doing It Wrong: Notes on Criticism and Technology Hype

[Lee Vinsel, via Naked Capitalism 2-2-21]

It is outrageous that I can point to gobs of people in my field working on synthetic biology, “AI,” self-driving cars, and blockchain but not a single person researching septic tanks, mobile homes, trailer parks, or even housing more generally, even though these latter topics are full of technological issues and true human suffering that IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW.

The Epidemic

Hacks That Really Work 

[CovidStraight Talk, via Naked Capitalism 1-31-21]

Very useful chart showing airborne mitigation techniques

Here’s how American stimulus checks stack up to other countries’ Covid relief

[CNBC, via Naked Capitalism 2-4-21]

Housing Precarity and The Covid-19 Pandemic (PDF)

[NBER, via Naked Capitalism 2-1-21]

From the Abstract: “We find that policies that limit evictions are found to reduce COVID-19 infections by 3.8% and reduce deaths by 11%. Moratoria on utility disconnections reduce COVID-19 infections by 4.4% and mortality rates by 7.4%. Had such policies been in place across all counties (i.e., adopted as federal policy) from early March 2020 through the end of November 2020, our estimated counterfactuals show that policies that limit evictions could have reduced COVID-19 infections by 14.2% and deaths by 40.7%. For moratoria on utility disconnections, COVID-19 infections rates could have been reduced by 8.7% and deaths by 14.8%.”

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 2-1-21]

Collapse of Independent News Media

A West Virginia newspaper company is suing Google and Facebook over online ads.

[New York Times, via Naked Capitalism 2-1-21]

“There is no longer a competitive market in which newspapers can fairly compete for online advertising revenue.”

What the next generation of editors need to tell their political reporters

Dan Froomkin [Press Watch, via Naked Capitalism 2-1-21]

Historically, we have allowed our political journalism to be framed by the two parties. That has always created huge distortions, but never like it does today. Two-party framing limits us to covering what the leaders of those two sides consider in their interests. And, because it is appropriately not our job to take sides in partisan politics, we have felt an obligation to treat them both more or less equally.

Both parties are corrupted by money, which has badly perverted the debate for a long time. But one party, you have certainly noticed, has over the last decade or two descended into a froth of racism, grievance and reality-denial. Asking you to triangulate between today’s Democrats and today’s Republicans is effectively asking you to lobotomize yourself. I’m against that….

While we shouldn’t pretend we know the answers, we should just stop pretending we don’t know what the problems are. Indeed, your main job now is to publicly identify those problems, consider diverse views respectfully, ask hard questions of people on every side, demand evidence, explore intent, and write up what you’ve learned. Who is proposing intelligent solutions? Who is blocking them? And why?

Health Care Crisis

The diabetic who ignores his debt

[Sick Note, via Naked Capitalism 2-1-21]

Naked Capitalism commenter: “This is no movie. This is real. It makes Kafka look like The Little House on the Prairie.”

“American Healthcare System Failed Black Americans. Medicare for All is the Most Pro-Black Policy Platform”

[Nick’s Newsletter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 2-1-21]

“Big Pharma’s investment in Black leaders bought their opposition to Medicare for All. Jim Clyburn has been a vocal advocate against it. Barack Obama worked behind the scenes to stop it and continues to undermine it at every turn. The leader of the Democratic Party, President Joe Biden, said he would veto it if it somehow magically passed through the House and the Senate. 46% of Republicans support Medicare for All. Our Black Leaders and Democrats are to the RIGHT of almost half of Republicans voters on healthcare. What has been the result of our leaders cozying up to health insurance companies? Black Americans suffer some of the worst health outcomes in the country. Despite being only 13% of the population, we hold 31% of the recurring medical debtBlack men have the lowest life expectancy and it’s not even close. Black women face intense racial bias in the healthcare field. Black women suffer from the highest rate of infant mortality in America, a rate 3-4 times higher than white women. How can liberals so easily ignore the grim reality that our healthcare system has brought upon black Americans?

Disrupting mainstream politics

“The Bernie movement: An assessment”

[Noah Smith, Noahpinion, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 2-1-21]

“Bernie’s Theory of Change might have been right (see previous section). But his Theory of Power was wrong. This was proven in dramatic fashion on March 3rd, 2020, when Biden crushed Bernie in the Super Tuesday primaries and went on to cruise to a victory infinitely more decisive than Hillary Clinton’s. Bernie believed that only his brand of politics could drive a turnout surge; instead, the turnout surge was all for Biden. Bernie believed that he would be able to unite the White working class and the Black working class; instead, the two united in their support for Biden. Bernie bet on a big surge in youth turnout; it just didn’t happen. America’s young people were willing to pour into the streets to fight racist cops, but they couldn’t be persuaded to pour into the voting booths for single-payer health insurance. And online activism turned out to be less potent of a weapon than some had allowed themselves to believe.”

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 2-3-21]

Lambert Strether added: “Exactly as with Iraq, everybody who was wrong is still in power (and rich), and everybody who was right is marginalized, unserious, and scratching.”

Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 2-4-21]

The Dark Side

The Lousy Tippers of the Trump Administration: They were exhausting, impossible, stingy, and cruel, just like at their day jobs.
Moe Tkacik, February 03, 2021 [Slate, via The Big Picture 2-5-21]

Trump couldn’t pull off a coup, but he had inspired thousands of regular-ass Americans to roam the streets of their own country like Blackwater mercenaries screaming obscenities to $12-an-hour retail workers and restaurant hostesses for having the audacity to ask them to don masks during a pandemic that was killing more than 100 fellow citizens every hour…. But now that they’re gone, good God it must be said: They really were the scum of the earth

“A Punishing American Zeitgeist”​  An Interview with Nikhil Pal Singh

[The Drift, via Naked Capitalism 2-4-21]

We can think of that trajectory as beginning with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and the rise of Margaret Thatcher in England. These two figures consolidated a profound reorientation of government towards market-friendly, upwardly redistributionist, and highly punitive domestic policy, which in the U.S. includes mass incarceration. Trump bursts on the public scene in this period, emerging in New York City as a swaggering real estate developer and socialite in the 1980s, when he’s still nominally a Democrat, although he’s already a disruptive political figure.

He made what we might now see as a signature intervention after a terrible incident when a white woman was raped and brutally beaten in Central Park. Five black teenage boys, interrogated by the NYPD under extreme duress, confessed to the crime, and ended up going to jail for a long time. Trump put out a big ad in the New York newspapers calling for the execution of the five boys, who, as we found out recently, were innocent. It is telling that he began to consolidate his image as a public figure by latching onto a wave of racialized authoritarian politics and inviting a spectacle of public vengeance….

Another figure who rises in that moment, and who remains central within Trump’s orbit, is Rudy Giuliani, who became mayor of New York in the 1990s after, interestingly enough, leading a riot of mostly off-duty New York policemen on the steps of City Hall to protest the Dinkins administration’s plans for an all-civilian police review board. Talk about an echo. The police riot at City Hall launched Giuliani into the NYC Mayor’s office. There he was again before the riot at the Capitol on stage with Trump calling for a “trial by combat.” ….The riot on the city hall steps in the 1990s helped Giuliani ride the wave of “law and order” into a highly successful and remunerative public career… A lot has changed since the 1980s and 1990s, but Trump and Giuliani have been remarkably consistent in the way they plotted their path through a punishing American zeitgeist.…

The government has been oriented, for the last fifty years, towards a tremendously unbalanced and unequal political economy and criminal punishment regime…. A context for all of this is that we have been largely inured or habituated to what I would call the macro-aggressions we are now subjected to: extreme wealth polarization, declining living standards, declining life expectancy, heavy surveillance, substantial erosions of our capacities to ensure collective flourishing. And we have no clear way forward. So in these large-scale ways, we’ve become almost dulled and fatalistic, in the sense that we expect decline. We expect a future that is worse than our present.

Meanwhile, we’ve become more and more sensitized to the microscopic and frankly minor forms of abuse that are given watchful attention. The upsurge of trainings around sexual harassment or around white privilege are examples of these controlling tendencies and administrative approaches, and I don’t think they can attain the goals that they set (i.e., social justice), because they suffer from an elite skew…. We’re sort of caught between a type of progressive conformism on the one hand, one that speaks a language of inclusion and diversity, and on the other hand, a reckless right-wing vision of freedom, understood as the impunity to do whatever you want under terms of protected wealth and status, damn the consequences. And between those two poles we’ve grown massively unbalanced, with a tremendous sensitivity to microaggression and a dullness to macro-aggression….  what I am calling the elite skew that frames a logic of cancellation actually means that macro-aggressions mostly go unpunished. The well-heeled perpetrators — those most responsible for big risk and big ruin, like war and financial crisis — fail upwards. Meanwhile, smaller players face personal ruin and disproportionate punishment for small risks, badly taken. Cancellation thrives in a culture and economy in which wealth, legacy powers, and institutions are protected and the threshold of disposability for everyone else is exceedingly low.

“Why are grandiose narcissists more effective at organizational politics? Means, motive, and opportunity”

[Personality and Individual Differences, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 2-2-21]

“We report the results of three studies that show: (1) those higher in narcissism are more likely than those who are lower to see organizations in political terms (opportunity), (2) they are more willing to engage in organizational politics (motive), and (3) they are more skilled political actors (means).”

“How Billionaire Robert Smith Avoided Indictment in a Multimillion-Dollar Tax Case”

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 2-4-21]

“But rather than expose a man worth about $7 billion to a possible prison term and potentially force him to give up control of his private equity firm, Vista Equity Partners, Barr signed off on a non-prosecution agreement. It required Smith to admit he had committed crimes, pay $139 million and cooperate against a close business associate indicted in the largest tax-evasion case in U.S. history—Texas software mogul Robert T. Brockman. Smith, the richest Black person in the U.S. according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, agreed to cooperate after spending years raising his public profile as a philanthropist and advocate for racial justice. He praised the Trump administration’s efforts to provide economic assistance to minority business owners amid the Covid-19 pandemic. As his wealth tripled over the past five years, he also gave away more than he had hidden abroad. All that complicated the possible prosecution of a defendant whom jurors may have viewed sympathetically.”

“FTC says Amazon took away $62 million in tips from drivers”

[ABC, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 2-2-21]

“The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday that for more than two years, Amazon didn’t pass on tips to drivers, even though it promised shoppers and drivers it would do so. The FTC said Amazon didn’t stop taking the money until 2019, when the company found out about the FTC’s investigation…. The drivers were part of Amazon’s Flex business, which started in 2015 and allows people to pick up and deliver Amazon packages with their own cars. The drivers are independent workers, and are not Amazon employees. The FTC said Amazon at first promised workers that they would be paid $18 to $25 per hour, and also said they would receive 100% of tips left to them by customers on the app. But in 2016, the FTC said Amazon started paying drivers a lower hourly rate and used the tips to make up the difference. Amazon didn’t disclose the change to drivers, the FTC said, and the tips it took from drivers amounted to $61.7 billion.” • And a “team” at Amazon reprogrammed the app to steal tips. Managers, programmers, testers, documentation specialists, accountants, database wizards, etc. Nobody said a word. All corrupt to the bone. “Learn to code!”

“Independent business groups push Biden against FTC, DOJ appointees with ties to Big Tech”

[The Hill, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 2-4-21]

“A coalition of independent business associations is urging President Biden against appointing individuals with ties to the four biggest tech companies to top antitrust enforcement roles at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The associations, representing more than 60,000 independent businesses, sent a letter to the president on Wednesday calling for him to appoint individuals that will ‘prioritize reinvigorating anti-monopoly policy.’ … ‘We believe that it is imperative that you avoid appointing individuals who have served as lawyers, lobbyists, or consultants for Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google to key antitrust enforcement positions. Instead, we encourage you to appoint experienced litigators or public servants who recognized the dangers of, rather than helped to exacerbate, these corporations’ market power,’ the letter continued.”

There is no bipartisanship because Republicans don’t want it”

Ryan Cooper [The Week, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 2-3-21]

“It is somewhat mysterious why bipartisanship became a sort of fetish object for some D.C. lifers. It probably has something to do with how it obscures responsibility — if you are some kind of lobbyist or part of the imperialist foreign policy “blob,” bipartisanship can facilitate financial deregulation, or yet another pointless increase in the military budget, without it being clear who is to blame. A proper democratic system has clear lines of accountability, so it is obvious what the people’s representatives are doing with their power. Bipartisan compromise is the exact opposite. At any rate, for whatever reason Biden felt the need to pander to this sentiment during the campaign by promising a return to bipartisan comity that was absolutely never going to happen. He duly gave Republicans their opening, and now that they rejected the offer it’s on them. But perhaps now Democrats can try the novel strategy of trying to do a good job all by themselves, and allowing voters to judge them on their performance.”

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 2-3-2021]

“Trump pollster’s campaign autopsy paints damning picture of defeat”

[Politico, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 2-4-21]

“The post-mortem, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO, says the former president suffered from voter perception that he wasn’t honest or trustworthy and that he was crushed by disapproval of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic…. The findings are based on an analysis of exit polling in 10 states. Five of them — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — are states that Trump lost after winning them in 2016. The other five — Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas — are states that Trump won in both elections. The report zeroes in on an array of demographics where Trump suffered decisive reversals in 2020, including among white seniors, the same group that helped to propel him to the White House. The autopsy says that Trump saw the ‘greatest erosion with white voters, particularly white men,’ and that he ‘lost ground with almost every age group.’ In the five states that flipped to Biden, Trump’s biggest drop-off was among voters aged 18-29 and 65 and older. Suburbanites — who bolted from Trump after 2016 — also played a major role. The report says that the former president suffered a ‘double-digit erosion’ with ‘White College educated voters across the board.’”

Lambert Strether sums it up: “Shorter: No pandemic, Trump wins.”

Rise of the Barstool conservatives

[The Week, via The Big Picture 2-2-21]

What Trump recognized was that there are millions of Americans who do not oppose or even care about abortion or same-sex marriage, much less stem-cell research or any of the other causes that had animated traditional social conservatives. Instead he correctly intuited that the new culture war would be fought over very different (and more nebulous) issues: vague concerns about political correctness and “SJWs,” opposition to the popularization of so-called critical race theory, sentimentality about the American flag and the military, the rights of male undergraduates to engage in fornication while intoxicated without fear of the Title IX mafia. Whatever their opinions might have been 20 years ago, in 2021 these are people who, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, accept pornography, homosexuality, drug use, legalized gambling, and whatever GamerGate was about. On economic questions their views are a curious and at times incoherent mixture of standard libertarian talking points and pseudo-populism, embracing lower taxes on the one hand and stimulus checks and stricter regulation of social media platforms on the other.

I have come to think of the people who answer to the above description as “Barstool conservatives,” in reference to the popular sports website….

 I fully expect the future of the Republican Party to belong to Barstool conservatives, which is to say, to a growing but so far almost invisible coalition that could very well carry the White House. The Barstool conservative movement will not have institutions in any recognizable sense, certainly not think tanks or highbrow magazines, but it will be larger, more geographically disparate, younger, and probably more male. It will also, I suspect, be more racially diverse, much like the portion of the electorate that gave Trump 74 million votes in 2020….

“Poll: 64 percent of GOP voters say they would join a Trump-led new party”

[The Hill, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 2-5-21]

“A majority of Republican voters said if former President Trump were to start a new political party they would likely join, a new Hill-HarrisX poll finds. Sixty-four percent of registered Republican voters in the Jan. 28-29 survey said they’d join a new political party led by the former president, including 32 percent who said they would very likely join.”

The Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election

The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election

Molly Ball, February 4, 2021 [Time, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 2-5-21]

Trump’s election in 2016–credited in part to his unusual strength among the sort of blue collar white voters who once dominated the AFL-CIO–prompted [Mike] Podhorzer to question his assumptions about voter behavior. He began circulating weekly number-crunching memos to a small circle of allies and hosting strategy sessions in D.C. But when he began to worry about the election itself, he didn’t want to seem paranoid. It was only after months of research that he introduced his concerns in his newsletter in October 2019. The usual tools of data, analytics and polling would not be sufficient in a situation where the President himself was trying to disrupt the election, he wrote. “Most of our planning takes us through Election Day,” he noted. “But, we are not prepared for the two most likely outcomes”–Trump losing and refusing to concede, and Trump winning the Electoral College (despite losing the popular vote) by corrupting the voting process in key states. “We desperately need to systematically ‘red-team’ this election so that we can anticipate and plan for the worst we know will be coming our way.”

It turned out Podhorzer wasn’t the only one thinking in these terms. He began to hear from others eager to join forces. The Fight Back Table, a coalition of “resistance” organizations, had begun scenario-planning around the potential for a contested election, gathering liberal activists at the local and national level into what they called the Democracy Defense Coalition. Voting-rights and civil rights organizations were raising alarms. A group of former elected officials was researching emergency powers they feared Trump might exploit. Protect Democracy was assembling a bipartisan election-crisis task force. “It turned out that once you said it out loud, people agreed,” Podhorzer says, “and it started building momentum.”

….On March 3, Podhorzer drafted a three-page confidential memo titled “Threats to the 2020 Election.” “Trump has made it clear that this will not be a fair election, and that he will reject anything but his own re-election as ‘fake’ and rigged,” he wrote. “On Nov. 3, should the media report otherwise, he will use the right-wing information system to establish his narrative and incite his supporters to protest.” The memo laid out four categories of challenges: attacks on voters, attacks on election administration, attacks on Trump’s political opponents and “efforts to reverse the results of the election.”

….In Podhorzer’s presentations, winning the vote was only the first step to winning the election. After that came winning the count, winning the certification, winning the Electoral College and winning the transition–steps that are normally formalities but that he knew Trump would see as opportunities for disruption. Nowhere would that be more evident than in Michigan, where Trump’s pressure on local Republicans came perilously close to working–and where liberal and conservative pro-democracy forces joined to counter it.



Open Thread


Bitcoin Is Reactionary Money


  1. Plague Species

    Do people seriously believe we can maintain the same economic system and just substitute electric powered vehicles for gas powered vehicles and that will solve the climate crisis?

  2. S Brennan

    “Why is GOP Against More Stimulus”

    Hmmm…that’s a tough one, could it be that for over 9 months preceding the election the neoD’s were “Against More Stimulus” because they were gaming the election? Could tit for tat still be strategy used by all sides? Hmmm… Oh well, as Orwell said, history starts today…and every day.

    “[The USA] scores badly in higher education, even though U.S. universities are world-famous. That under performance was likely made worse by obstacles to foreign students, who are usually prominent in science and technology classes — first due to the Trump administration’s visa policies, and later to the pandemic.”

    Hmmm, so the solution to poor US education is to reduce educational opportunities by importing people from other countries? Lovely. Another WTF from our scribes who write whatever their gilded-age [sans mercantilism] overlords tell them to.

    This weekly list should be re-titled: Neoliberalism Weekly

  3. bruce wilder

    Here’s a surprise: Electrifying U.S. vehicles wipes out the equivalent of our entire current power demand.

    That certainly would be a surprise, but reading the article it seems like an expectation borne of magical thinking applied to Sankey diagrams and energy accounting.

    The only way to “wipe out power demand” is radical energy conservation.

    Somehow, we have to find a way to convey the insight that all energy use from whatever sources of generation has consequences in waste of some kind.

  4. Joan

    These are good points regarding electric cars. I have a friend who drives a Prius in a city with good public transit. She also flies to other countries for yoga vacations. But don’t worry, she’s vegan. One of the grocery chains was considering implementing a kind of Golden Goat program where people could bring the glass milk bottles back and get twenty cents. I was in favor of it (still not as good as a real milk man!) but this friend actually tried to tell me that washing and reusing a glass bottle took more energy than the hard recycling method of destroying the bottle and creating a new one. There’s a lot of disinformation flying around and a lot of misinformed people who are so convinced they don’t even have cognitive dissonance!

  5. KT Chong

    The value of the US dollar is tied to global oil consumption, (i.e., that’s why it’s call the “petrodollar”.) The world must burn for the US economy to sustain. If electric cars become the global standard, the US dollar will collapse, and the US economy will be in trouble.

  6. different clue

    We had an economy before we used oil and coal. If we delete oil and coal from our energy use portfolio, we could still have an economy. And we could still have a dollar. Only it couldn’t be a petrodollar any more.

    If we went all-electric, we could have a kilowatt-dollar. And if that required economic shrinkdown, the key for “the rest of us” to survive would be to figure out how to shrink the economy from the tippy-top downward . . . . to shrink-wrap the economy around the face and nose of the Overclass so as to shut off their revenue-stream “oxygen supply” and cause them all to die from fiscal smotherization, so to speak.

  7. sanely maladjusted

    A lot of the oil and other dirty industries will continue in the background – hell, may even increase – as the media and others carry on about electric and other earth-saving technologies that allow flighty humans to carry on in their fantasies indefinitely.

    Don’t forget to celebrate Earth Day.

  8. edmondo

    So EVERYONE joined hands, ignored the obvious and jumped in bed with Joe Biden – including the NSA crowd who need someone to convince that a war is necessary – plus the Democrats used their friends in our “non-political” judiciary to streamroll the Green Party off the ballot in PA and AZ (someone knows how to count) and yet they were only barely able to carry tired Joe Biden across the finish line – (if about 60,000 voters change sides in the right states, Trump is re-elected).

    There is no fucking way they can pull this off in 2024 when Joe is even tireder and older.

  9. Greta T-Borg

    I’ll show you the way.

  10. sanelymaladjusted

    I mean, what don’t people understand about this simple premise:

    The only way to “wipe out power demand” is radical energy conservation.

    Anything else is masturbation.

    Somehow, we have to find a way to convey the insight that all energy use from whatever sources of generation has consequences in waste of some kind.

    “waste of some kind” is putting it mildly. The human and environmental tolls are devastating, which is why companies to go such great lengths to hide them from the public. And are there to immediately destroy the lives of those who dare uncover their ongoing daily atrocities, i.e. take Steven Donziger as a recent example. And the behavior he uncovered is mild. I could go on and on and on and on and on.

  11. Plague Species

    Getting set to watch the Super Bowl. They just had a shot of the crowd in the stadium. It’s full. No social distancing. The pandemic is officially over. McDonald Trump has been defeated signifying the end of it. Happy days are here again.

  12. Hugh

    It is possible to have phase shifts without shoveling tens of billions of dollars to anti-labor pirates like Musk and Bezos.

    Fantasy and incoherence are essential parts of neoliberalism. Trumpism simply rubbed our faces in it on a daily basis. Reaganomics/supply side economics was just carnie talk to justify the looting of the many to enrich the few. Mitch McConnell’s sanctimonious reasons to refuse allowing Obama to pick a Supreme Court nominee and then doing a complete about face to ram through a last minute one for Trump just underlined that it is always about the power. The reasons are for the rubes. The Republicans passing a $2 trillion tax cut for the rich then and worrying about covid relief for the many now is just par for the course. And while these examples focus on Republicans, it was Clinton and Summers who set up the conditions for the 2008 meltdown and the subsequent Obama bailout of Wall Street.

  13. different clue


    Simple Joe Malarkey won’t be on any ticket in 2024. The simplest guess is that the Countess Draculamala will be running for Prez in 2024.

    In her ideal world, President Biden would resign the Presidency due to health reasons after serving 2 years and 1 day. That way ( so she thinks), Kamalabama will get to be President for TEN years. And maybe it really will work out that way.

    If the Rs find another hideous gargoyle to run, Countess Draculamala could indeed be elected and re-elected. Because the prospect of another 4 or 8 more years of Trumpitude would deter a lot of otherwise-protest-voters from voting their protest.

  14. Chicago Clubs

    >Progressives and leftists using a Marxian type of class analysis have failed to notice that Musk has accomplished something no one else has done in just over a century: achieve mass production of a new automobile in USA.

    Who cares. The fact is, electrifying cars solves nothing because the car itself is a huge contributor to American social decay just because of how utterly disconnected it makes everything from everything else. It’s a total dead end.

  15. Ché Pasa

    It is always about power…Hugh


    The US is in yet another iteration of the English Civil Wars — they never ended here, not from the prelude of the Pilgrims’ landing in 1621 to now, it just goes on and on and on, over and over again, all about power, who will rule and how. Satan or God?

    The religious right’s rhetoric is no different than that of the Puritans and Cromwell, all so absolutely certain of their godly righteousness and the satanic arrogance of the Other Side. It’s not the Stuarts anymore, it’s the Demonrats, the Arch-Bitches, the unannointed.

  16. bruce wilder

    Cromwell was competent and the Stuarts were both incompetent and unlucky. It is hard to believe either Party today could muster anything like competence.

    And the British Civil Wars generated a great length and breadth of ideologies, religious and political. The doctrines of the Presbyterian and Anglican and Methodist churches trace to that period as do the Quakers and Unitarians. The Diggers were proto-communists, the Levelers gave the world an idea of political and legal equality and the soaring rhetoric of Lilburne. The Whigs and Tories distilled political analysis and ideology from well-founded paranoia.

    We have neoliberal TINA. Oh for an idea!

  17. VietnamVet

    Mark Blyth always has an insight that rings true that I hadn’t come across before. “The GOP as the new working-class party, because the Democrats strategy in the election was essentially urban, suburban, educated, coastal elite, everything except the working-class. They didn’t actually include the American working class coalition. They built a box around them.”

    This is why the National Guard troops still surround the Capitol with no exit strategy and no metric for what success looks like. Democrats are the top 10%. Workers are the others, racist seditionists.

    The US Post Office has screwed up my half century old paying my bills by the mail. I got a February bill with a late charge before the January one even showed up. NBC News had a minute and half blurb about the delivery collapse.

    The US federal government has failed. Across the board. What capital (wealth) is left doesn’t work. America is sick and for-profit vaccines and a money extracting healthcare system won’t control the coronavirus pandemic. The 18 trillion dollar big bang comes when it becomes obvious that the USA is no longer a safe haven. A civil war would be hard to ignore. A war with China, Russia or Iran goes worldwide.

    If the Biden/Harris Administration doesn’t start governing for all Americans, the end is near. But, I doubt they even recognize it. “Janet Yellen made millions in Wall Street, corporate speeches.” They are paid to ignore reality.

  18. bruce wilder

    Yes, Vietnam Vet, all of that and Biden has promised “nothing fundamentally will change.”

    Blyth and Foroohar imagine a fantasy version of a Biden Administration that will actually try to change the direction of the American economy — the feeble attempts of Trump to do so were ridiculed by all the oh-so-smart people — and conclude any honest attempt to do so will crash the financial markets.

    Trying to turn the Titanic after hitting the iceberg . . .

  19. Ché Pasa

    Cromwell was a religious nut and a genocidal maniac, but oh well, he was “competent.” At least there’s that. The trick for the Stuart Restoration (Brits found they were not fond of the Puritan interregnum) was to translate that energy of hatred and destruction outward toward the colonies and expanding Empire. The Stuarts couldn’t figure it out, but eventually the aristocracy and Parliament got a handle on it. The upshot wasn’t pretty.

    It’s a wonder the US ship of state still sails given the numerous icebergs it’s encountered just since the ’90s. Perhaps it’s dead in the water for the time being, but it hasn’t quite sunk.

    There is a Bourbonesque or Stuartish quality to the current Restoration in DC. They’ve forgotten nothing, but they’ve learned a thing or two. Go big, go fast and then….? That isn’t clear yet, is it?

    Contra a widespread consensus of Permanent Republican Rule, we are witnessing the disintegration of the Republican Party as a viable political entity. As Blyth says, it’s run its course. And now it’s on the verge of extinction. There is no there there anymore, and the pure power plays it engages in are transparent. Power for its own sake and nothing else, not even profit for its adherents, is an empty cause not worthy of fighting for.

    The Dems, for their part, have yet to recognize their political liberation from under the thumb of their R abusers. When I see the tears in Congress over the January 6 attack, I’m moved, and yet I know that the electeds have to get past that shock (among so many) and find a new balance which will amount to putting the lie to Biden’s assurance to the FIRE sector that “nothing fundamental will change.” Oh but it must.

    And it will.

  20. Plague Species

    Actually, there were fake people in the stands at the Super Bowl upon closer inspection. Quite literally fake people as in cardboard cutouts. Great metaphor, by the way, intended or not. Still, there were many more people, real people if you can call them that, in the stands at the Super Bowl than have been at NFL games thus far this season, so my point is still valid and worthy of further discussion, if that’s alright with “Interesting Take” who’s sarcasm implies there are more important things to discuss like how to properly raise squash and tomatoes in an ever changing and chaotic climate or the subtle and nuanced differences between the democrats and the republicans. This morning, fyi, on CNN and MSNBC, there were no COVFEFE-45 statistics shown in the upper right hand corner of the screen as has been the case for the past year, thus further emphasizing my point.

  21. Patrick Byrne’s expose, the series “How DJT Lost the White House”, is unmentioned. This is of major historical importance, even to people who hate Trump, I should think.

    I, OTOH, informed my 8 followers on my vanity sub-reddit, The_Donald_GoodAndBad, as part of the recent installment: “(BAD TRUMP) Trump Betrays MAGA Movement, MAGA followers”. About the kindest thing I can say about Trump, at this point, is that Byrne and Barnes are much kinder to Trump than I am, even though (to me) their revelations show Trump in an extremely bad light.

    Candace Owens, an articulate* conservative, has expressed an interest in running for President. While I could easily support her, I’d have an issue with her if she doesn’t have the moral courage to point out Trump’s betrayals. She should do so more diplomatically than me, but if she chooses to pretend that Trump is just some sort of great man, who fell helpless victim to the system, well, then, she embraces a fundamental dishonesty, or lack of judgement.

    * and stable, which one normally wouldn’t point out, except for the possibility that she will run against Trump

  22. nihil obstet

    After Bush destroyed the Republican Party, Obama rescued it. He said that a two-party system was important. He preached about the need for bipartisanship — he never preached about any need of the people. He carried on about the only legitimate governance being one that has a Republican onboard. He dismantled the Democrats’ grassroots fifty state strategy. And so the Republicans swept the midterms and got over 1000 state and local elected officials during Obama’s administration. The centrist Democrats loved it. They found it to be great star performance by a cool guy and they were relieved of having to do anything by the nasty old Republicans that they claimed were elected only because of racism.

    Biden has similarly talked about the value of the Republican Party and the need for bipartisanship. It’s not that Democrats need to recognize their liberation from under the thumb of their R abusers. It’s that Democrats need to govern for the people and they need the Republicans to give them an excuse not to.

  23. Ché Pasa

    Ah but what I see happening is that the Ds are absorbing some of the saner Rs and are letting the rest go, poisoned by their own venom.

    Biden/Harris isn’t trying to revive the Republican Party the way Obama did. Nope. Not this time. If it doesn’t dissolve itself, it’s close to RICO-time.

    Meanwhile, the Ds are solidifying as the Rockefeller Republicans they’ve always been at heart. That leaves a huge vacuum to fill.

    Point being, Dems don’t need to be The People’s Party. A genuine People’s Party must arise, not from the wreckage of the Rs, but from the grassroots and an amalgam of the Greens, DSA, various workers’ parties, labor unions, public interest groups, and so on. Soon we’d see who’s really on the People’s side and who isn’t.

    The alternative is revolution, and in the current atmosphere, the rightists and fascists and Nazis would win, without question and barely without conflict.

    If we don’t want that to happen, it’s time to get real about obtaining and using political power for the People not against them.

  24. js

    “These are good points regarding electric cars. I have a friend who drives a Prius in a city with good public transit. She also flies to other countries for yoga vacations. But don’t worry, she’s vegan. ”

    It’s possible being vegan does bring her carbon footprint about equal to a non-vegan American who doesn’t go on vacation. As an American getting very little vacation time I seem to use them all as mental health days to recover from work.

    A lot of people might be on board with radical conservation but have no actual capacity to insulate their studio apartments in order to use less energy. If we ever got government programs for this maybe it would happen.

  25. Mark Pontin

    Che Pasa: “Cromwell was a religious nut and a genocidal maniac, but oh well, he was “competent.”


    First thing to understand is that they were religious nuts on _all_ sides. At the start of 1649, the Irish threatened to invade England to restore Catholicism and the monarchy, proclaimed Charles II king of Ireland, and placed Irish Confederate Catholic forces under the command of Royalist officers. Royalist troops were assembling in Ireland; privateers (pirates) out of Irish ports were attacking English ships.

    The English parliament weren’t going to ignore a threat like that. They also wanted to punish the Irish for atrocities against Scottish Protestant settlers during the 1641 Uprising.

    So Cromwell and his New Model Army went in. One way to understand the English revolution is that the English got their communist revolution over early (i.e. with movements like the Diggers and the Levellers among the revolutionaries) and Cromwell was a Lenin or Stalin-like figure suppressing enemies of the Protestant revolution. The New Model Army was recruited exclusively from what we today would consider Protestant fanatics.

    Within that frame, Cromwell was very competent. The New Model Army swept through Ireland. Some 50,000 Irish people, including prisoners of war, were then sold as indentured servants and sent to English colonies in North America and the Caribbean.

    Same deal in 1745, with the Scots attempt to put ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ on the throne in England and restore Catholicism then. The English put the Scots down and the losers got shipped to the English colonies, mostly in America.

    In fact, the original English-speaking population of the U.S.A. — especially the South — was in large measure composed of the losers or their descendants in these wars within the British isles. Also, of straight out religious nuts, like the pilgrims, and chancers who fell afoul of the authorities in Britain and got shipped out to the colonies.

  26. Hugh

    Trump’s impeachment trial starts tomorrow. Is it Constitutional? Yes, impeachment and trial of an official out of office was already answered in 1876 in the impeachment and trial of Grant’s War Secretary Belknap, both of which took place after his resignation.

    The argument has also been made that Trump had a free speech right to give his speech. It has been odd and kind of funny to see right wingers citing the Supreme Court decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) . It is a short opinion but still not really read carefully. This is the operative part, “the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action”

    It is the last bit that gets missed. Trump does not have to say, “Go storm the Capitol” to go beyond his First Amendment protections. All he has to do is things that likely result in them storming the Capitol as in inviting his nuttiest supporters to Washington, telling them it’s going to be crazy, and spending an hour haranguing them about he, and they, were robbed before sending them to the Capitol. It is the effect, not the precise words, that count. So no legitimate free speech defense although one will no doubt be invoked anyway.

  27. Hugh

    Did not want to hijack the following thread but comment got thrown into mod anyway. Trump’s impeachment trial starts tomorrow.

  28. bruce wilder

    Competence is harder to denote than to define; many think they would know it, if they saw it, but they cannot see it even when manifest.

    The characteristic political disease of our time is incompetence, exemplified in Trump and Biden, but also amply demonstrated by the rapid deterioration of whole industries and companies recently fabled for capability.

  29. bruce wilder

    In retrospect, the British Civil Wars were a crucible for modernity: the conflagration of political violence among elites that accompanied the emergence of modern political institutions amidst the rubble of feudalism left by the Tudors. It should not surprise me that Hugh and Che Pasa would scorn the simple observation of Cromwell’s amazing competence as a general and a political leader, ignoring the effect the contrast of his example of competence with the depthless incompetence of the Stuarts would have on subsequent events. Of course in a storm of religious conflicts they would label as a fanatic, a leader evidencing tolerance and practical good sense.

    Historians seeking a universal template for the emergence of political modernity in revolution have struggled to reconcile the shape of the French Revolution with that of the British. Reactionary English monarchists among the scribes, determined to conclude that the whole thing was much ado about nothing, a waste of blood and time, inexplicable really obscuce as much as the Marxists of the state building.

    We live in the 21st century in an era of only one pale ideology left standing in which political beliefs are ascribed more passionately than they are held, so it is hard to grasp the murderous violence let alone the genuine faith that accompanied the cacophony of religious conformity and dissent that exploded in the wake of the Elizabethan settlement and the rise of literacy. So much insistence on things that did not matter lit the fire of the British civil wars. The worst “fanatics” at the outset were arguably figures like Laud seeking ritual conformity. The deep hostility to and suspicion of Catholicism was not without reason, entangled as Catholicism was with absolutism and hypocrisy and its own brand of fanatical intolerance.

    Government, by its nature, is problematic, entangled with structures of domination, dispute, arbitration, “justice” and mechanisms of common purpose. The drapery of ethical political culture that decorates, disguises and hides the dangers posed by the machinery does not spring spontaneously into being anymore than the machinery itself does. The 17th century in Britain saw the political machinery of modernity built and the drapery fabricated and hung. English political culture struggles mightily with whether the hideous nature of its steep hierarchies of domination and extraction should be celebrated or ignored and misunderstanding its own history is part of the solution the English have embraced.

  30. Plague Species

    Trump’s impeachment trial starts today. So what. What’s the point? The outcome is already determined. Not guilty. Guilty as hell, but not guilty. We’ll have to rely on the Iranians to mete out justice to McDonald Trump since the cowardly Dems won’t do it and since the American wealthy elite consider him one of their own and therefore will not hold him to account because they and their’s are above and beyond the law.

    Meanwhile, today, again, CNN and MSNBC did not have the COVFEFE-45 statistics in the upper right hand corner of the screen as they have for the past year as if to say the pandemic is behind us. My wife listens to NPR on her way to and from work and she says they are doing an excellent job of covering it and that it sounds awful and dire. The scientists are not sure the vaccines will be effective against the variants and increasingly the experts are suggesting that COVFEFE-45 may be with us for good every bit as much as the common cold, but ever more deadly. I’m guessing the pharma companies have ordered MSNBC and CNN to downplay the pandemic thus giving the impression that Biden and the vaccines have conquered the plague.

  31. Plague Species

    And in answer to my question what’s the point, don’t give me “for posterity.” Posterity, like everything else including us, is dead.

  32. Ché Pasa

    As I say, the civil and religious controversies, conflicts, and quests for power that generated the English Civil Wars were brought to the North American colonies in the early 1600s and are still present in the US and continuing to generate the kind of fervor that can lead to yet more civil and external wars.

    Not only was Cromwell a murderous, genocidal maniac and a religious nut, the one informed the other. That he was “competent” in murder and genocide and was intent on imposing anti-Catholic religious conformity doesn’t speak particularly well for him, it seems to me. Nor was his dictatorial political rule an example that long survived him in Britain. It may, though, have been an example for many a modern military dictatorship and even for 20th Century fascist totalitarianism. The point being that the Cromwellian Will to Power is not much different than any other absolutist quest.

    In the end, the British appeared to prefer the relatively easy-going tolerance of the Stuart restoration, though eventually James II was deposed over religious intolerance among other things. Nevertheless, the Brits (for all their many faults) have never repeated the experiment in Cromwellian totalitarianism, and it’s unlikely they will.

    Sometimes narrow “competence” isn’t the best thing, yanno?

  33. goth teen in solid black attire

    plagues species, will you marry me? i’m attracted to your personality.

  34. Mark Pontin

    Cromwell is a Hegelian world-historical figure. Therefore, inevitably controversial: Trotsky believed he was a class revolutionary; John Milton, who served in Cromwell’s government, and Thomas Carlyle considered him a champion of democracy; conversely, Winston Churchill described him as a military dictator and the historian David Sharp as a regicidal one.

    I have to side with Trotsky and Milton. Cromwell’s competence served, firstly, to execute the king and forever end the ascendancy of the absolutist doctrine of the divine right of royalty in Britain, and, secondly, to forever prevent the restoral of all the ghastly machinery of Catholic absolutism there.

    If it took an absolutist like Cromwell to end just one of those absolutisms, so be it. The achievement of ending both was a massive, unalloyed historical good.

    Especially the latter. I’ve recently read an account of Galileo Galilei’s’s life, and (as different figures in Rome maneuvered for the Papacy and used him as a political pawn) all the endless cringing trips to the Vatican and doctrinal pleading and twisting and turning he had to do so as to not go the way of Giordano Bruno and be burned at the stake. Roman Catholic hegemony was truly a ghastly, repressive, stupid, and corrupt thing.

    By contrast with England, moreover, which got its revolution over early, in most of mainland Europe the religious wars and the feudal dominance of monarchs and aristocracies continued much longer, inflicting far greater costs in terms of number of lives and cruelty in the end run.

  35. different clue

    Trumpeachment! What will happen?

    These are just my best guesses. Since the Dem Officeholders were personally rattled, they will make a serious attempt to show all the ugliest sides of Trump to every possible disadvantage. They may even go so far as to permit testimony from Qanon Shaman and other Trump rioters about the exact quotes from Trumptalks and Trumptweets they acted upon . . . to demonstrate that this was exactly Trump’s riot.

    They may even go so farther than far to expose all possible testimony about how Trump spent several crucial riot-time hours obstructing ( and witnessing his people obstruct) early efforts to bring in National Guard troops to stop the riot.

    Trump itself will claim it never told anyone to riot, that the rioters thought it up all on their own. Trump will disown all its rioters and some of them will see how the Trumpster used and abused them. Those “some” will quit Qanon and maybe even quit MAGA Incorporated.

    The truest believers won’t quit. The truest Qanons will join the truest MAGAs in becoming Jonestown Trumpanons. We will see how many millions of people reach the Jonestown Trumpanon end state. Millions and millions at least.

    The Republicans will vote to aquit and Trump will go free. He will continue using his fan base to disrupt and prevent The Republican Elite from disowning and disavowing the Jonestown Trumpanons going forward. The Jonestown Trumpanons will be THE BASE of the Republican Party. What will the Republican Elites do about that?

  36. Hugh

    Well, so far, the House managers did a thoughtful, well argued presentation. Trump’s lawyers are mostly into atmospherics. The first was folksy and rambled. The second, currently, is all angry and accusatory, even with threats.

    It’s very schizophrenic on the Trump side, no content. It’s like the old lawyer’s saying: if the facts are on your side, hammer the facts; and if the facts aren’t on your side but the law is, hammer the law; and if the facts and the law aren’t on your table, hammer the table.

  37. Willy

    Trump’s lawyers are/will present everything in power that’s to the left of Reagan as an abomination that’s in lockstep cahoots to ruin the very foundations of American democracy. Still our friends?

  38. Willy

    2/3 of Republicans polled said they’d quit to join a MAGA party led by Trump. Still think the other side ain’t nuts?

  39. Hugh

    It’s funny to hear Trump’s lawyers make the unity argument after 4 years of the most divisive president I can remember. Now they are shifting to “process” arguments. They are reading into the Constitution all kinds of things that aren’t there. An impeachment is not determined by judicial process. The Constitution is explicit that this is not so. Sole power of impeachment resides with the House and trial with the Senate, period. They even go so far as to invoke the Constitution’s prohibition of bills of attainder to try to prohibit an impeachment, although they are completely different: a law written against an individual is not the same as an impeachment of an individual. Now we are getting the argument that since Trump is out of office, he can’t be impeached, although Belknap showed this wasn’t true. I would note that at the time of the Framers it took weeks or months to get together. They had horses not jets. So this modern notion of a President or officer must be impeached while still in office isn’t historical. You impeach when you can, not according to some artificial timeline.

  40. different clue


    Trump starting his own Political Party would be a good thing. It would get all the worst of the Jonestown Trumpanons in one visible place. It would let us see how many tens of millions of them there really are.

  41. On youtube: “HL-117: Why Trump’s Impeachment is UNCONSTITUTIONAL – Viva & Barnes HIGHLIGHT” Features the brilliant, ethical pro-populist lawyer Robert Barnes.

    Barnes has made the comment that “if you’re a constitutionalist, you can no longer be a Democrat”. The Democrats don’t care about the rule of law, and their apparent blindness to their own mega-hypocrisy apparently grows out of their lust for power. Both D and R parties are corrupted by Big Money, and thus don’t do much for their constituents, compared to the donor base. However, the D’s embrace of lawlessness reveals them to be the more dangerous authoritarians. I’m not aware of a good, succinct label to apply to them. I sometimes think “CommieFascists” would give an approximation of their ruthlessness and embrace of BIG LIE’s, but I am not an influencer or trend-setter, so would mostly confuse people. Somebody else must come up with a good term. I find just “Communist” to be annoying*; and “socialist” doesn’t imply undue authoritarianism. “CommieFascist” at least would focus people’s minds on what is common between Communists, Fascists, and Democrats. But somebody more consequential than myself must take up the job of a good propagandistic framing of them.

    Unfortunately, Barnes has questionable choices in attire. I’m referring to his blue collar glued to his white shirt. Perhaps it’s better to just listen to this particular youtube.

    * having worked in China in 1999, and told by my boss that the street vendors would have been arrested back in his day, I’m pretty sure they don’t have my grandfather’s communism.

  42. different clue

    About who is or isn’t a Constitutionalist . . .

    I remember once reading where an American Indian once said: ” Of COURSE we Indians believe in the US Constitution. In fact, we are the ONL Y people in America who DO believe in it.”

    Now why do you suppose he would have said such of a thing?

  43. Hugh

    Thanks, metamars, for keeping us abreast of what the fascist right’s response is to their insurrection. First, ignore it. Second, take no responsibility for it. Third, act like they care about the Constitution after leading an insurrection against it. Fourth, read into the Constitution all kinds of things that aren’t in it or its history. And fifth, blame anyone but themselves. I appreciate you going through all this cowardly slime so we don’t have to.

  44. Willy

    Hugh, to be honest, I don’t think most people in that crowd knew what was going on at the time. Only later, after they’d thought about it for a while (with most needing to be told what to think about it) did they come up with their various mental defenses, excuses, and other lies in desperate attempts to duck personal responsibility and try and paste it all on the libs. Force of habit I suppose.

    Sadly, not only is social responsibility a leftist thing, but personal responsibility is also a leftist thing. And as an added bonus, the future of the Christian religion in America is also now a leftist thing. Nothing but babbling buffoons on the other side. It’s a heavy burden the left now carries on its shoulders.

  45. TheGatewayPundit is carrying an article “EXCLUSIVE: Ashli Babbitt’s Legal Team Breaks Silence on Capitol Tragedy – Requests Public’s Help in Identifying Persons of Interest”. Curious thing about this legal team – no members are identified, and there’s no website mentioned in the article, or their twitter account, @ForAshli.

    When you read the comments, there now very few about this being a false flag, but a lot about antifa and blm provocateurs. Wh-h-h-y-y-y, it’s almost like nobody’s heard about false flags, which is a little surprising, as people have certainly heard lots about the Deep State during the Trump Presidency. But, wouldn’t you know it, there’s not many comments about the Deep State, either. In fact, I don’t see any. Must be those damn leftists, AGAIN!

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch (i.e., here), we can read accusatory comments about “fascist insurrection”, that are so much verbal diarrhea. No interest by these luminaries in Deep State provocations (false flags), either.

    I don’t believe we’re just seeing hyper-partisan projection coupled with extreme irrationality. I believe people are payed to steer conversations into non-productive and/or delusionary routes.

  46. Hugh

    B-b-but, metamars, what about the Martians? You can’t have a decent conspiracy theory without a few. As for false flags, we all saw the dude in the Capitol carrying the Confederate battle flag. Who or what could be falser than the Confederacy?

  47. Willy

    All the phone videos, and video links to people, and people linked to pasts, and witnesses describing these pasts… have been faked. All the way down to the smallest detail.

    The Dark State is indeed powerful. It is a hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.

  48. Hugh

    The Martian Deep State can’t prevail as long as there are so many Republican Senators bravely cowering in their seats. If they did nothing to challenge Trump anytime the last 4 years, they aren’t going to start now.

  49. different clue

    Here is a little reproduced statement from one of the Capitol rioters. It illustrates a dawning understanding on the part of some of Trump’s supporters.

    I think the Trumpeachment is a good thing, as well as being necessary, because it will make very clear to some of Trump’s supporters that he never supported them. They were just either coal or overburden to Trump . . . . or maybe just “pets or meat” as Michael Moore put it in another context.
    When Trump makes totally clearest his utter and final abandonment and discardment like-to-much-used-kleenex of all his most faithful and risk-taking supporters at the Capitol, some of them will drop out of the Trump movement.

    And then only the Jonestowniest MAGAnons will remain.

    Here is the link.

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