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

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – February 9, 2019

by Tony Wikrent

Strategic Political Economy

Altruistic food sharing behavior by human infants after a hunger manipulation
[Science, via Naked Capitalism 2-5-20]

From the abstract: “In a nonverbal test, 19-month-old human infants repeatedly and spontaneously transferred high-value, nutritious natural food to a stranger (Experiment 1) and more critically, did so after an experimental manipulation that imposed a feeding delay (Experiment 2), which increased their own motivation to eat the food. Social experience variables moderated the expression of this infant altruistic behavior, suggesting malleability.” dk asks: “But were the test subjects the babies of elites? At 19 months, some patterns may have already been acquired…”

The Carnage of Establishment Neoliberal Economics

WEALTH INEQUALITY: The richest 1% controls more wealth now than at any time in more than 50 years
[Twitter and Yourtube below, via Naked Capitalism 2-2-20]

WEALTH INEQUALITY: The richest 1% controls more wealth now than at any time in more than 50 years. But what does wealth inequality really look like?

@TonyDokoupil  turned America’s economic pie into a real one and asked people a simple question: Who gets what? Link here if pic missing below

Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior

[PNAS, via Naked Capitalism 2-4-20]

Seven studies using experimental and naturalistic methods reveal that
upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class
individuals. In studies 1 and 2, upper-class individuals were more
likely to break the law while driving, relative to lower-class
individuals. In follow-up laboratory studies, upper-class individuals
were more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies (study
3), take valued goods from others (study 4), lie in a negotiation (study
5), cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize (study 6), and
endorse unethical behavior at work (study 7) than were lower-class
individuals. Mediator and moderator data demonstrated that upper-class
individuals’ unethical tendencies are accounted for, in part, by their
more favorable attitudes toward greed.

The Biggest Lie in Personal Finance: Why Cutting Spending Isn’t the Key to Financial Independence
Nick Maggiulli, February 4, 2020 [, via The Big Picture 2-5-20]

… if you look at the percentage of after-tax income that the
poorest 20% of U.S. households spend on Food, Housing, Healthcare, and
Transportation, it becomes quite clear that low income is the problem

 ….the next 20% of U.S. households aren’t that much better off than the
bottom 20%.  For example, even though the next 20% of U.S. households
has an annual after-tax income ~3x higher than the lowest 20% (at
$31,200), they still spend most of their income on the necessities:

….This is an unfortunate reality, but one that more clearly demonstrates
why so many U.S. households find it difficult to save money.  They end
up spending most of their pay on just the basics!

The Verdict Is In: Farm Bankruptcies Up in 2019 
[Farm Bureau, The Big Picture 2-3-20]

New U.S.-Canada-Mexico trade accord fails farmers again
Darvin Bentlage [St. Louis Post Dispatch 2-6-20]

The U.S. Senate and House approved the United States-Mexico-Canada
Agreement, effectively replacing the North American Free Trade

Milk giants Dean Foods and Borden Dairy have declared bankruptcy. Wisconsin has lost 818 dairy farms, or 10% of its dairy farms. In the last decade, the state has lost 44% of the farms.

Cattlemen are not faring much better. We have lost a quarter of our American cattle producers since NAFTA was adopted. America’s herd has lost almost 7 million cattle, and the country eliminated 25% of livestock auction barns, 48 meatpacking plants and 75% of all cattle feedlots. The U.S. also has a $1.4 billion annual deficit in the trade of cattle and beef with Canada and Mexico.

Beef exports to Canada, the fourth-largest U.S. export market, are down 11.3% this year, while imports of beef from Canada are up 8%. Canada, the No. 1 foreign supplier of beef to the U.S., stands at 27.7% of America’s total beef imports.

Mexico is the third-largest foreign supplier of beef to the United States. U.S. beef exports to Mexico are down 3.5% while imports of beef from Mexico are up 14%. Mexico exported 1.3 million feeder cattle to the U.S. — the largest number in 14 years. Mexican feeders sold for $200 less than U.S.-sourced feeders. This is especially important to Missouri cattle producers as Missouri is the No. 2 state for cow/calf production. The profit per pair was $438 in 2015, and this year, profit is projected to drop below $138.

Because the new North American free trade agreement involves the two countries that caused Congress to repeal country-of-origin labeling, American negotiators should have taken the opportunity to raise that subject anew. Mandatory country-of-origin labeling was implemented in 2009 and led to a steady increase in feedlot cattle until its repeal in 2015. The repeal saw a 34% drop in feedlot cattle prices in one year.

Urban Institute: Thirty percent of student debtors are enrolled in Income-driven repayment plans [Condemned to Debt, via Naked Capitalism 2-4-20]

A recent report from the Urban Institute (authored by Kristin Blagg, Laurie Goodman,
and Kelia Washington) noted that 8 million student-loan debtors are in income-driven repayment plans (IDRs).  According to this report, that amounts to about 30 percent of all college borrowers.

That’s really scary because almost no one among those IDR participants
is paying down the principal on his or her debt.  Instead, just about
all of these 8 million people are making very small monthly payments
based on their income–not the amount that they borrowed.

Homeless US student population ‘highest in more than a decade’ 
[BBC, via Naked Capitalism 2-5-20]

Detroit’s Land Bank Holds More Trouble for City’s Remaining Homeowners
[Real News Network 2-3-20]

What happens to the remaining homeowners, their properties, and their neighborhoods in Detroit after the foreclosure crisis created a glut of abandoned, city-owned houses?

….a lot of property wasn’t initially given to the Detroit Land Bank
Authority. The authority was revamped after the bankruptcy and a lot of
property, we’re talking it went from about 1500 to over 90,000 in around
2014, that sort of huge transfer was an effort to consolidate the
ownership with the authority because land banks have special powers to
clear title, and at the time that’s what the city thought was best.

So, as far as what happens with the vacant property, there are a slew of
reasons why it could face delays, but what we hear from residents is
basically not much. That if they are living next to it, we hear from
folks who have boarded up the vacant properties next to them, in part
because even if it is boarded up by the city, maybe it isn’t reboarded,
whether because of the weather, or because of squatters, or someone who
is coming in to strip the property. There are a whole bunch of reasons
why the boards might come off, and the city might not necessarily
reboard it.

Limited Liability Is Causing Unlimited Harm
Katharina Pistor (Professor of Comparative Law at Columbia Law School, is the author of The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality) [Project Syndicate, via Naked Capitalism 2-6-20]

 The original purpose of limited-liability protection was to encourage
investment in – and risk-taking by – corporations, whose resulting
innovations would benefit society. Yet by allowing shareholders to
profit from the harms caused by corporations, limited liability has
evolved into a source of systemic market failure.

Cincinnati students expose how privatization corrupts public universities
David Akadjian [DailyKos 2-7-20]

Restoring balance to the economy

Painters’ union calls for consumers to boycott PPG brands including Glidden, Olympic
[Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, via Naked Capitalism 2-2-20]

Video Spotlight: Ellen Brown and Walt McRee discuss a public bank’s ability to fund a Green New Deal
[Public Bank Institute 2-6-20]

PBI Chair Ellen Brown and Senior Advisor Walt McRee discuss how public banks and the central bank can fund investments such as those proposed in a Green New Deal without inflating consumer prices.

The Public Banking Solution, 6.19 from Princeton TV on Vimeo.

Climate and environmental crises

How the Lawyer Who Beat Chevron Lost Everything
[The Intercept, via Naked Capitalism 2-2-20]

The developments that led to Donziger’s confinement were, like much of the epic legal battle
he’s been engaged in for decades, highly unusual. The home confinement
is his punishment for refusing a request to hand over his cellphone and
computer, something that’s been asked of few other attorneys. To
Donziger, who had already endured 19 days of depositions and given
Chevron large portions of his case file, the request was beyond the
pale, and he appealed it on the grounds that it would require him to
violate his commitments to his clients. Still, Donziger said he’d turn
over the devices if he lost the appeal. But even though the underlying
case was civil, the federal court judge who has presided over the
litigation between Chevron and Donziger since 2011, Lewis A. Kaplan,
drafted criminal contempt charges against him.

In another legal peculiarity, in July, Kaplan appointed a private law
firm to prosecute Donziger, after the Southern District of New York
declined to do so — a move that is virtually unprecedented. And, as Donziger’s lawyer has pointed out, the firm Kaplan chose, Seward & Kissel, likely has ties to Chevron.

Making the case even more extraordinary, Kaplan bypassed the standard
random assignment process and handpicked someone he knew well, U.S.
District Judge Loretta Preska, to oversee the case being prosecuted by
the firm he chose. It was Preska who sentenced Donziger to home
detention and ordered the seizure of his passport, even though Donziger
had appeared in court on hundreds of previous occasions.

Shale pioneer John Hess says key U.S. fields starting to plateau
[Reuters, via Naked Capitalism 2-5-20]

Climate Change Predictions Have Suddenly Gone Catastrophic. This Is Why
[Vice, via Naked Capitalism 2-8-20]

“Arctic sinkholes open in a flash after permafrost melt”
[Live Science, via Naked Capitalism 2-6-20]

“Arctic permafrost can thaw so quickly that it triggers landslides, drowns forests and opens gaping sinkholes. This rapid melt, described in a new study, can dramatically reshape the Arctic landscape in just a few months. Fast-melting permafrost is also more widespread than once thought. About 20% of the Arctic’s permafrost — a blend of frozen sand, soil and rocks — also has a high volume of ground ice, making it vulnerable to rapid thawing. When the ice that binds the rocky material melts away, it leaves behind a marshy, eroded land surface known as thermokarst. Previous climate models overlooked this kind of surface in estimating Arctic permafrost loss, researchers reported. That oversight likely skewed predictions of how much sequestered carbon could be released by melting permafrost, and new estimates suggest that permafrost could pump twice as much carbon into the atmosphere as scientists formerly estimated, the study found.”

Health Care Crisis

How CVS Became A Health Care Tyrant
Matt Stoller, [BIG, via Naked Capitalism 2-2-20]

Followup to yesterday’s NYT story.

In 2018, the Capitol Forum reported
how CVS leverages its various lines of business to roll up power. Five
weeks before CVS announced it was buying Aetna, its Caremark PBM
subsidiary began telling independent pharmacies that their reimbursement
rates for key medicines was going to go down.

As an example, “one pharmacy went from earning $41.63 for selling Metronidazole—an
antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections—to losing $72.27 per sale of the treatment.” Immediately after announcing price cuts, CVS began sending out letters offering to buy independent pharmacies who had just had their revenue slashed. In one solicitation letter, CVS’s head of acquisitions wrote that, as a pharmacist himself he knew “what independents are experiencing right now: declining reimbursements, increasing costs, a more complex regulatory environment.”

When confronted with it by independent pharmacists in front of Maryland state
regulators, CVS lobbyists said the reimbursement cuts were simply the result of a ‘computer glitch’.

Information Age Dystopia

Hiding in plain sight: activists don camouflage to beat Met surveillance
[Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 2-2-20]

Paper Masks Are Fooling Facial Recognition Software
[Entrepreneur, via Naked Capitalism 2-8-20]

German TV Exposes the Lies That Entrapped Julian Assange
[Consortium News, via Naked Capitalism 2-8-20]

«A murderous system is being created before our very eyes»
[Republik, via Naked Capitalism 2-8-20]

For the first time, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer,
speaks in detail about the explosive findings of his investigation into
the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange….

The case falls into my mandate in three different ways: First, Assange
published proof of systematic torture. But instead of those responsible
for the torture, it is Assange who is being persecuted. Second, he
himself has been ill-treated to the point that he is now exhibiting
symptoms of psychological torture. And third, he is to be extradited to a
country that holds people like him in prison conditions that Amnesty
International has described as torture. In summary: Julian Assange
uncovered torture, has been tortured himself and could be tortured to
death in the United States. And a case like that isn’t supposed to be
part of my area of responsibility?

….It quickly became clear to me that something was wrong. That there was a
contradiction that made no sense to me with my extensive legal
experience: Why would a person be subject to nine years of a preliminary
investigation for rape without charges ever having been filed? …I have never seen a comparable case.

Tesla Remotely Disables Autopilot On Used Model S After It Was Sold
[The Verge, via Naked Capitalism 2-8-20]

Imperiled information: Students find website data leaks pose greater risks than most people realize [Harvard School of Engineering, via Naked Capitalism 2-5-20]

[I]n less than 10 seconds she produced a dataset with more than 1,000 people who have high net worth, are married, have children, and also have a username or password on a cheating website. Another query pulled up a list of senior-level politicians, revealing the credit scores, phone numbers, and addresses of three U.S. senators, three U.S. representatives, the mayor of Washington, D.C., and a Cabinet member.


[Twitter below, via Naked Capitalism 2-5-20]

I had to get a background check for my job, and it turns out the report is a 300+ page pdf of every single tweet I’ve ever liked with the work “fuck” in it.
Enjoy your dystopian bs! *waves*
43.8K   1:56 PM – Jan 27, 2020

Anatomy of a rental phishing scam
[Jeffrey Ladish, via Naked Capitalism 2-5-20]

Welfare Surveillance System Violates Human Rights, Dutch Court Rules
[Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 2-6-20]

Google Releases a Tool To Spot Faked and Doctored Images
[MIT Technology Review, via Naked Capitalism 2-6-20]

Creating new economic potential – science and technology

The Battery Supply Problems Faced by Electric Air Taxis
[Avionics, via Naked Capitalism 2-5-20]

The limits of high speed rail
[ 1-22-20, via Naked Capitalism 2-7-20]

On April 3, 2007, the French TGV V150 (150 meters per second) train broke the world rail speed record, reaching 574.8 km/h. The feat required a period of careful technical preparations undertaken by RFF (Network Ferré de France), Alstom and SNCF. The train was heavily instrumented to acquire data on very high speed rail operations: Link here if pic missing below

Disrupting mainstream politics

Bernie Sanders Leads the Popular Vote in Iowa; Wall Street-Friendly Bloomberg Has a Plan
Pam Martens and Russ Martens: February 5, 2020 [Wall Street On Parade]

Bloomberg is a multi-billionaire whose wealth derives from leasing financial data terminals to Wall Street’s trading floors around the globe. Bloomberg’s police force bloodied, brutalized, pepper-sprayed and engaged in mass arrests of peaceful protesters during the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2012. (See the video below that was submitted in a court case as an indication of what kind of President Bloomberg would make.)

Mike Bloomberg is also the majority owner of Bloomberg News, which announced in November that it would not be allowing investigative reports on Mike Bloomberg or any other Democratic candidate. That policy, however, did not extend to its OpEd columnists. At 6:30 a.m. on Monday, the very day of the Iowa Caucuses, Bloomberg News published an opinion column by Michael R. Strain, the Director of Economic Policy Studies and a resident scholar at the Koch-funded, right wing, climate change skeptic think tank, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). The bold headline screamed: “Trump Hurts the Economy. Sanders Would Be Worse.” The article mapped out a preposterous doomsday scenario of what would happen economically to the U.S. if Sanders were elected, ignoring the legitimate threat of what would happen if Wall Street is not reined in and needs another $29 trillion bailout.

Love the billionaire bucks flooding the 2020 elections? Thank Charles Koch
[Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 2-8-20]

Why Democrats share the blame for the rise of Donald Trump
Robert Reich [Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 2-3-20]

In the fall of 2015, I visited Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio,
Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Missouri and North Carolina, for a research
project on the changing nature of work. I spoke with many of the people I
had met 20 years before when I was secretary of labor, as well as with
some of their grown children.

What I heard surprised me. Twenty years before, many said they’d been
working hard and were frustrated they weren’t doing better. Now they
were angry – angry at their employers, the government, Wall Street. Many had lost jobs, savings, or homes in the Great Recession
following the financial crisis of 2008, or knew others who had. Most
were back in jobs but the jobs paid no more than they had two decades
before, in terms of purchasing power.

I heard the term “rigged system” so often I began asking people what
they meant. They spoke about flat wages, shrinking benefits, growing job
insecurity. They talked about the bailout of Wall Street, political
payoffs, insider deals, soaring CEO pay, and “crony capitalism”. These complaints came from people who identified themselves as Republicans, Democrats and independents. A few had joined the Tea Party. A few had briefly been involved in the Occupy movement.

The 2016 rebellion is ongoing
With the 2016 political primaries looming, I asked which candidates they
found most attractive. At the time, the leaders of the Democratic party
favored Hillary Clinton and Republican leaders favored Jeb Bush. Yet no one I spoke with mentioned Clinton or Bush.

They talked instead about Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. When I asked why, they said Sanders or Trump would “shake things up” or “make the system work again” or “stop the
corruption” or “end the rigging”…. it wasn’t due to Sanders’ magnetism or Trump’s likeability. It was a rebellion against the establishment. That rebellion is still going on,
although much of the establishment still denies it. They prefer to
attribute Trump’s rise solely to racism.

The most powerful force in American politics today continues to be
anti-establishment fury at a rigged system. There is no longer a left or
right. There’s no longer a moderate “center”. There’s either Trump’s
authoritarian populism or democratic – small “d” – populism.

Charities steered $65M to Trump lawyer Sekulow and family
[AP, via Naked Capitalism 2-2-20]


Open Thread


“Construction of Reality” First Draft Sent to Editor


  1. Willy

    Out of sight out of mind. Damned emotional plasticity. I knew a well-off self-made guy who in retirement, started having severe anxiety attacks which he couldn’t explain. He told me that nothing had been more humbling than that experience and with that humility came empathy. Before all that he’d been a highly motivated worldbeater intolerant of “losers and fools”. Apparently, even if one is well educated and experienced, if one isn’t ‘feeling’ some situation up close and personal, that situation may as well not exist. That might explain the Obamas and the Clintons.

  2. Stirling S Newberry

    Black in the Man
    Man in Black
    Accidentally gospel
    Memphis Tennessee.
    New Deal acoustic.
    Trains and Murder make up
    scripture and conviction
    Department of hodgepodge
    meditations on theodicy and fatherhood.
    Nouns careers imprison.
    Performance Belshazzar cumulative concordance.
    exegesis Apostle denounced.
    Kingdom come.

  3. Joan

    Thanks for this. I definitely agree with the article talking about people being for either Sanders or Trump because they are anti-establishment. People are disillusioned and angry. They want someone to shake things up.


    Trump IS NOT ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT. That is a lie. The nucleus of the establishment is the oligarchy, and Trump is an oligarch. If Trump was not part of the establishment, no one would know him. His name would not be a known quantity. He’d be a nobody because that’s what a true anti-establishmentarian is, a nobody. Even Bernie’s not fully anti-establishment, but certainly much more so than the orange dildo in chief.

  5. different clue

    Since most people do their thinking with the speech center in their brains, and those people think in words; it is hard for those people to think of something or think about something if there isn’t even a word for it.

    I hypothesize that “Populism” has become an insufficient word for people who would be able to think about a left-leaning or small-d form of populism . . . if there were a word for it. I believe there is a way to test that hypothesis. If a widely distributed critical tipping-point massload of of people were to try coining such words and injecting them into the language stream here and there, we could see if any such words were useful enough for people to think with, take up and adopt.

    I will suggest a few-couple such words myself in case anyone who sees them decides to try working with them.

    Populeft. Populeftist. Populeftish. Populefty. Populeftism. Populiberal. Populiberadical. Populoradical. I give these words away if anyone wants them. I encourage everyone to try thinking of better words, if they think better words can exist.

    Because right now, ” Populism” MEANS right-wing Big-Man Leader authoritarian Caudillo-ism.
    I’m afraid it just does. Sorry about that.

  6. Stirling S Newberry


    theory obliterated
    contests outvoted
    leapfrog Boomers
    generational unfamiliar
    discouraged participating sheepish
    galvanized politics
    Equal Rights Amendment,
    nomination Republican
    unprecedented gender gapped
    polarized elites
    attuned threshold.

  7. Hugh

    Another week of incredibly depressing news and this is even without mention of the coronavirus.

    I remember in the days before Piketty and Saed doing my small part to redirect attention away from income inequality and on to wealth inequality. Someone who makes $30,000 a year, at the end of each year will still be stuck with zero or negative wealth. Their outflows exceed or match their inflows.

    But for someone making $130,000, their inflows exceed their outflows. And this happens year after year in an additive fashion. But that is only the beginning of the story. Even some of their outflow, like purchasing a nice house, creates an asset that can increase in value. They can buy stocks, pay lower tax on them, and, as we see, watch them rise rapidly in value through Fed policy, completely divorced the underlying fundamentals.

    And then there are those with serious bucks who can hide their wealth or simply buy the political system and without regard for any social good distort the laws to both maintain their wealth, having government bail them out or subsidize them as needed, and increase their wealth by helping them create monopolies.

  8. bruce wilder

    dc – ” Populism” MEANS right-wing Big-Man Leader authoritarian Caudillo-ism.

    Not to me. To me, “populism” refers to particular types of political appeals, rhetorical forms almost, that tend to be persuasive for people whose social and economic dependence, followership and precarity puts them on a spectrum of political attitudes that we might commonly call, “authoritarian follower”.

    It is true that authoritarian followers are vulnerable to sociopathic demagogues, people whose orientation to social dominance and amoral ethics lead them to seek to exploit the naivete and prejudices of people whose life experience leaves them with a limited perspective and suspicion of elites, but little native discernment.

    Left populism is certainly possible, but liberals are often too invested in their own superiority and class privilege to be comfortable making populist appeals, even when some case must be made to counter the rise of some conman or demagogue.

  9. Joan


    Oh sure, I completely agree. Trump is not actually anti-establishment, but people voting for him thinking that he was.

  10. Hugh

    Meanwhile Trump is going to release his budget Monday, it isn’t realistic but says a lot about his priorities. Extend tax cuts for the rich. Cut non-defense spending by 5%, cut foodstamps, Medicaid, student loan forgiveness, slash EPA funding by 26%, cut CDC spending, more funding for the wall, etc. And even though Trump is running trillion dollar deficits, there is even a projection to balance the budget in 15 years. Forget fiat currency and all the criminal misallocation of funds for a moment. The joke here is that by law the government has to do 10 year projections of its spending and revenues (you know, to be fiscally “responsible”). So the Trump “plan” is 5 years beyond that. But here’s the thing. Budget projections are notoriously bad. They’re lucky to be ballpark 1 year out and that declines until anything beyond 3 years is worthless. And the Trump budget is also full of dicey growth projections, so even more worthless and faster to boot.

    And on Morning Joe this morning harder to listen to than usual. Bernie is ahead in New Hampshire and with what was essentially a win in Iowa, the gnashing of teeth is at a roar. The Democrats for some neoliberal definition of Democrat are clutching their pearls and even borrowing their neighbors’ pearls so they can clutch them too, because “they” are concerned that there isn’t some good neoliberal who can beat Trump. So they talk up Bloomberg. And then a Bloomberg-Sanders fight that would allow Klobuchar or one of the second tier Establishment conservative neoliberal Dems to be the “alternative” to these two. Listening to this bilge, I couldn’t help thinking of what their reactions would be if Biden or Buttigieg or who knows why they like Klobuchar was doing as well as Sanders has in Iowa and is set to do in New Hampshire. Imagine all the smug triumphalism. The paeans to whoever that candidate, not Sanders, was. I had to turn the sound off.


    Bernie needs to sh*t or get off the pot. He can’t have it both ways. If he believes he was cheated out of Iowa, he needs to state that he was cheated and show and explain his reasoning. If he doesn’t, and instead says he believes there was no cheating, then he needs to accept the results at this point and refrain from declaring himself the winner in Iowa because as of now, the Iowa Dem party has awarded two more delegates to Buttigieg, a few more to Warren and a few more to Biden per their recanvassing thus making Buttigieg the “official” winner in Iowa.

  12. nihil obstet

    I think I’m probably too confrontational and unbending, but even I think you have to pick your fights. Going all in on the Iowa caucuses may delight the political hobbyists, but would simply produce a “plague on all your houses” among the general voting population. And then, there’s the issue of whether those of us who fight our battles on the keyboard really have better electoral strategy than the guy who’s leading all the polls nationally.


    Will you feel the same way when Buttigieg wins in New Hampshire and Nevada? If Buttigieg does, Bernie and the movement are toast. The early states are crucial to Bernie’s chances, polls be damned.

  14. nihil obstet

    Will I feel as though I could have run a better campaign? Nope.

  15. Tom

    The entire Turkish 2nd Army has begun a multi-divisional assault on the Syrian Army in Idlib. Erdogan has lost all patience and sent the Russian Envoys home a few hours ago.

    This time Erdogan is not stopping. He is truly pissed especially after the Syrian Army tweeted videos of digging up graves and mocking the dead

    As for Bernie, if he keeps failing to call out the DNC on their cheating, and they steal the nomination again, I’m done, I vote Trump again and throw all support to the Louisiana Democrats. It is shaping up that the current Democratic Party is too beholden to Abortion and Gun Control to break the Red Wall. Only the Louisiana Democrats can do it and put bullets into the heads of the Oligarchic Right and Identitarian Left who are both authoritarian fascists.

  16. Hugh

    Last I heard, Bernie won both rounds of the popular vote in Iowa. It is only the typically anti-democratic process of the Democrats which went against this and awarded Buttigieg one more national delegate than Sanders, 13-12. So yes, Sanders can claim a win in Iowa where it is supposed to count, you know, with the voters. Losers in Iowa were in descending order the caucus system, the Iowa Democratic party, Tom Perez and the DNC, and Buttigieg. Why did Buttigieg lose in Iowa? Because he exited the state as Pete the Cheat, someone who can’t in in a fair fight but only through manipulation, throwing the system into chaos (his staffer releasing the backup call-in number), and jumping the gun on declaring victory.

    Iowa was a state that was prime territory for a candidate like Buttieg: white and conservative, but again he lost the popular vote there to the democratic socialist New Dealer Bernie Sanders.

  17. realitychecker

    @ dc

    Popurazzi? 🙂

    @ 450 and Joan

    Trump is “anti’ the CURRENT corrupt generation of Establishment baddies, i.e., both parties and the corporate media-they are ALL destroying themselves in their efforts to destroy Trump, who is an outsider to their club. They know he is, even if you don’t lol.

    Without someone like Trump, we would be helpless to displace the Establishment types that have brought us to this sorry state. If you can’t see the truth of that, then nobody can help you.

    My advice would be this: Be grateful for the obvious pragmatic benefits of Trump, and later we can concentrate on putting better Democrats in place. Knowing that without Trump, we would still be ‘lesser-evil’-ing ourselves into the dustbin of history.

    Which, honestly, I’m starting to wonder if that is what we deserve . . . (sigh)

  18. Hugh

    Well written take on Bloomberg from Nathan Robinson via NC comments. The last line says it all:

    “Bloomberg has shown a far more terrifying form of clientelism even than Donald Trump. If someone opposes him, he simply uses his money to overpower them. Because Bloomberg’s wealth is virtually infinite (even the billion dollars he will spend this year will not diminish his net worth at all, since it’s just the money his money makes), if a newspaper reporter tries to expose him, he can just buy the newspaper and shut them down. If a nonprofit group complains about him, he can just give them a pile of money to shut them up. The reason this is a kind of dictatorship is that people need money, so it’s very hard to turn it down when it’s offered. How can a struggling city turn down Michael Bloomberg’s checks? Yet if they take them, they have to do what he says. The Michael Bloomberg pitch is that because of his money, he is not beholden to anyone. But leaders should be beholden—only a dictator is beholden to no one. When Bloomberg says that nobody owns him, it’s because he owns you.”

  19. Dan

    Adding to Hugh’s post on the Bloomberg oligarchy, a post from yesterday at NC includes both a brief transcript of an interview with Lee Fang as well as a link to the audio interview in its entirety:


    Too funny.

    But leaders should be beholden.

    They are. America’s leaders, traditionally, are beholden to the big money interests. To the plutocracy/oligarchy. Politicians are whores, plain & simple. He argues as if there is an alternative. There isn’t. Nathan is exactly emblematic of the conundrum. He fails to see what is versus what should be. You have to work with what you have or revolt against it or drop out altogether and leave it to fate. What we have is a political process owned by the oligarchy where you can be led indirectly by the oligarchy via one of their appointed whores, or you can be led directly by a member of the oligarchy in which case if both presidential nominees are oligarchs, your best bet is to vote for the least malevolent or the most benevolent. You don’t like that? Fine, I understand you don’t. I don’t either. It’s far, far from ideal by any stretch. So, revolt. Or start a revolution. Or don’t vote. But don’t imply that currently there is an alternative because there isn’t one. Nathan is wrong. Donald Trump is ten times worse than Bloomberg. Bloomberg, like Bernie, can beat Trump. They are the only two candidates who can beat Trump and hold off full-throated fascism a while longer.

  21. Dan

    There’s two ways to go about campaign finance reporting to understand the money trail and both are simultaneously important. One is well covered in the mainstream press and that’s, you know, these required disclosure reports when Bloomberg or Bernie—they buy a radio or TV ad, the FCC has to report that and then later the FEC has to report that. And knowing the kind of disclosed traditional money system is important to see who’s raising the most from whom and how they’re spending it

    But there’s the other side of this that’s dark and murky and we have less answers and is just as important. Bloomberg spent over a billion dollars a year just on his philanthropy and, you know, we want to talk about “political machines.” When you say that term that it evokes the image of Tammany Hall/early 20th-century big cities bosses, trading patronage jobs at the post service for votes and sewage collection or whatever. But here in the 21st century, we have a different type of political machine.

    We have an interlocking network of big corporate foundations, corporate consultants, lobbyists and nonprofits run by a group of people who are friends, who work together, who have a similar kind of neoliberal ideology, who have incredible influence in the political process. And Hillary Clinton did a very good job in creating this kind of 21st century Tammany Hall with her own Clinton Foundation and the many different—you know, Media Matters, Center for American Progress, American Bridge group—advanced her political fortunes or attempted to advance her political fortunes.

    This is nothing compared to what Bloomberg has. Bloomberg has the same style of a 21st-century political machine but instead he’s got this billion-dollar-a-year philanthropy that has trained hundreds of mayors, that gives them speaking fees, that has funneled tens of millions of dollars to Democrats who have run and are now members of the state legislature in Virginia. I mean he basically paid for half of that election that we just had last year. There are members of Congress. He’s one of the biggest funders of climate and clean energy groups in the country, definitely the biggest funder of gun safety groups. When he unveiled his African-American outreach program in Tulsa just last month, if you actually watch the press conference, it’s speaker after speaker thanking him for the various grants that he’s planted in Tulsa over the years. Go to any city in America—the mayor there has likely attended a Bloomberg boot camp and has received a Bloomberg “innovation grant” for infrastructure or art or whatever in their city. Bloomberg’s handed out a lot of favors.

    And a lot of this isn’t disclosed traditional campaign money. This isn’t stuff you’re going to find in a campaign finance report, but it’s money. It’s money that has influenced people’s political preferences. And for a lot of folks looking at the Bloomberg campaign, they also see the opportunity to make money down the road. When he ran for mayor, not were his staffers some of the best paid staffers we’ve ever seen in the political race, they received a $300,000—I think even up to $400,000—bonus after he won. So we can’t imagine this.

    You know, some people think Tom Steyer is wealthy? Tom Steyer is a peasant compared to Michael Bloomberg. Forbes just upgraded his evaluation—just a month ago, I saw stories saying he was worth $55 billion. Now it’s $60 billion? It’s a rounding error to him? This type of money has not been seen in American politics before.


    Trump must be removed. In fact, he must be imprisoned as far as I’m concerned. To achieve that, it’s vote Bernie first and foremost and if Bernie fails, vote Bloomberg as the failsafe. Don’t hand me that crap that Trump = Bloomberg or Bloomberg is worse than Trump. Yes, they’re both oligarchs but that’s where the comparison ends just as the only comparison you can make between Bernie and Biden is that they are both long-standing members of the political class. Aside from that comparison, Bernie is far superior in every way to Biden just as Bloomberg is compared to Trump.

  23. Hugh

    Trump is a sour grapes oligarch. He just was never good enough at it, with his multiple bankruptcies, to break into the top tier where the likes of Steyer and Bloomberg live. He isn’t for the the lower 80%. He wants to cut programs for the poor. He wants to give more money to the rich who already have way too much (see Michael Bloomberg). He hasn’t brought back a single good job or saved one from going to China or Mexico. His pointless trade wars screwed over soy and corn farmers. His essential continuation of NAFTA is doing the same to cattle and dairy farmers too. That’s reality.

    When you don’t like your house but still live in it, you don’t hire a guy to randomly drive a bulldozer into it. That’s just stupid.

    As for Bloomberg, there is not such thing as a good oligarch. It’s like talking about a good cancer. Oligarchs, kleptocrats, like Trump or Bloomberg, are what are killing us. It’s weirdly suicidal to keep going back to them like they have anything to offer but more pain.

  24. bruce wilder

    I am actually fairly tone deaf to the range of reactionary and conservative opinion. I know some people on the Right well and truly hate Trump, but I am really unclear on what subtle principle or interest they base their animosity. Table manners? Could be, as far as I know.I

    I am simple-minded about the Right: I figure that for conservative elites, it is about the money. Beyond that, I rarely speculate.

    I do think that globalization is past its sell-by date. In 2016, if you were against perpetual war and a globalized economy, Trump was pretty much the only game in town by the time November rolled around. Even now, after Trump’s attempts to rebalance trade, I do not see much will on the left to conceptualize trade or industrial policy for a post-global world. The rhetoric is vague and abstract; the narrative to the effect that Trump did little and that little was a net negative. There may even be some set of quantified facts to back up that narrative; I have not seen any facts. What there isn’t is a well-thought-out alternative.

    Sanders has been pressed by his allies into passively accepting a non-policy policy on immigration by the “open borders” left. The centrist left basically rejects re-industrialization as a non-starter — China and robots are a continuum on the way to just “printing” the money for a UBI or a job guarantee. “Renewables” are “cheaper” than fossil fuels, so why worry?

    When Trump in his simple-minded stream of consciousness way calls into question some element of the Morning Joe consensus of “serious” people, I tend to think it is like a bell ringing for some people, for whom talk of politics is impenetrable cant. I think Trump is an idiot savant of media manipulation, more accidentally than on purpose. But, where are the deliberate and thoughtful pundits, striving to call the People to Wisdom as the Prophets called the Kings?


    Bloomberg’s got the NRA-loving conservatives in progressive clothing shaking in their dung-filled boots. He’s going to beat Trump and then he’s going to take your guns away, stop you from making abortion illegal and strengthen and enforce laws related to separation of church and state. The Family will be no more. Oh, and he will be taking on the sugar lobby as well because M4A is meaningless and doomed to fail unless America addresses the obesity and diabetes epidemic and sugar is at the dark heart of that epidemic.

    Bloomberg won Dixville Notch as a write-in candidate. He hasn’t even campaigned in the state. Dixville Notch, whilst conservative for the most part, did vote for Obama in 2008 and Hillary Clinton in 2016 over Trump.

    Bloomberg will enact sensible and enforceable gun control legislation to include the melting down of the arsenals of the super-owners who own many guns. It’s time to put a stop to egregious gun violence once and for all and to prosecute the NRA as a terrorist organization.


    Kudos to Bloomberg for taking on the sugar lobby in New York City. He also has taken on the NRA — the gun lobby. Not being beholden means not being beholden to lobbyists. Like the sugar lobby and the gun lobby or the fossil fuel lobby or the pharmaceutical lobby. You name the lobby, Bloomberg is not and will not be beholden to any of them. That’s real power to get things done. Ask AOC about those pesky lobbies she has to mandatorily (DNC rules) navigate for a large part of her day. Bloomberg took a lot of flak for his policies related to obesity and sugar in New York City. Guess who was at the center of that flak? That’s right, the sugar lobby.


    Bernie, it’s going to take more than Nina Turner. The Bernie Bro stigma is a huge red flag for blacks. Hell, it has an effect on me. One of them threatened to put a bullet in my skull with a multi-round sniper rifle for wanting to purge Nazis from Bernie’s ranks if the law would only allow it. But because I’m steeped in research into all of this, I will vote Bernie first because my morals and ethics are most aligned with Bernie’s policy platform, Bernie Bros be damned. Bloomberg is the failsafe and I don’t blame blacks for being wary of Bernie considering that Enfield threat. If Trump and the GOP are defending Bernie against the DNC, you know something isn’t right. They have something up their sleeve if they want Bernie as their preferred opposition.

    But losing his national lead isn’t the worst news for Biden. After New Hampshire, where Biden has low exceptions, comes South Carolina, where Biden’s strong support among African American voters was expected to keep him on top. According to the Quinnipiac poll, as Axios noted Tuesday, his black firewall is burning. Biden’s support among black Democrats dropped to 27 percent in the new poll, from 51 percent in December. And it appears that much of that support shifted to Bloomberg, who jumped to 22 percent support among black voters, followed by Sanders (19 percent), Warren (8 percent), and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg (4 percent). All the Democrats beat President Trump in head-to-head matchups, but Bloomberg’s 51-42 percent margin of victory was the largest.

  28. Hugh

    Shorter 450.0rg:

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.


    Not exactly, Hugh. We’re slaves, Hugh. Let’s accept it for what it is. We are slaves. Until an Abe Lincoln comes along and emancipates us, and who knows, Bernie may be that metaphorical Abe Lincoln, it’s what we have. We are slaves and the oligarchy comprises the plantation owners. Slavery sucks, no doubt about it. It’s insane to argue otherwise. But, considering we’re slaves and there is no way out of our predicament, or at least yet there isn’t that I can see, it behooves us to choose the most benevolent, or the least malevolent, master. At least we have that choice when historical slaves didn’t. Roots was airing recently. Per that made for television mini-series, it was revealed not all masters were equal in their treatment of their slaves. Some were more benevolent than others and a slave considered themselves fortunate to be owned by a more benevolent master versus a malevolent one of which there were many. Politicians are the overseers. They enforce the status quo but beyond that don’t have the power to change the master/slave paradigm. Voting for a politician and appealing to one is a fool’s errand. They don’t answer to us, they answer to the master.

  30. Z

    If I was the DNC the possibility that would cause beads of sweat to form on my overheated forehead as I try to arrange the pieces to rig the primary so that they can keep Bernie from the nomination is if they do successfully muscle Bernie from the nomination in the same ham handed fashion they did in Iowa (one major embarrassment, one corrupt insider scheme revealed, and we got 49 states left to go!) and Bernie backs off and lets them run Bloomberg or whomever and there is no third party run is that now the DNC would be empowering the man who the democrats have just tried to remove from office for corruption, the guy who they threw all those Russia Russia Russia accusations at, to have to make only one simple campaign promise to basically clinch the election: to do a thorough investigation of the DNC’s conduct during the 2020 democratic primary if reelected. That’s all it would take. The majority of the public, all of MAGA gang and a healthy portion of Bernie’s Army, would be for it and that would unleash a flurry of memes on the internet that an impulsive egomaniac like Donald Trump lives for: of him sitting at his big oak desk in his leather, high-backed executive chair and looking across at the DNC seated on a rickety wooden chair on the other side and The Donald saying, “You’re f*ed”. Not to mention he could walk away from the Oval Office in four years to a $50M advance for a book sequel to The Art of the Deal with a title inspired by Sun Tzu: The Art of Political War.

    Ha! And wouldn’t there be ironic justice in that! The DNC’s stealing the 2016 primary and the leak that followed led to all the Clintonite misdirection that the Russians were behind the DNC leak, though Wikileaks continually insists it was an inside job, which they tried to tie to Trump to keep everyone’s eyes off the fact that their precious DNC, their neo-liberal democratic party presidential candidate sausage factory, is corrupt and was all in for Hillary. None of that stuff that got leaked ever was denied by the DNC and Wasserman-Schultz, the head of it, was forced to resign. Her successor, Donna Brazile, also got busted and resigned.

    That ploy by the Clintonites to misdirect attention from the DNC, backed by their media who only makes ho-hum references to the fact the DNC got busted in 2016 basically working as an arm of the Clinton campaign, was what led to a lot of this Trump is Putin’s evil twin cousin nonsense to begin with.

    Would Trump make that campaign promise to clinch the election? Trump, the attention whore who craves to be admired for his shrewdness and for always coming up the winner in the end?

    Could he resist?



    The brazen irony of the NRA running articles about Bloomberg being racist. The irony is, Bloomberg is trying to get guns out of the hands of those who illegally have them. His gun control policy addresses all manner of gun violence and that includes the most egregious gun violence which is minority on minority gun violence to include blacks. The methods used thus far in NYC can be criticized and should be criticized, but the goal should not be dismissed or marginalized. Minority on minority murder by gun is an abomination. Yes, poverty has a lot to do with it, but that doesn’t excuse it, it only helps to explain it and address it more effectively.

    Here’s an excellent article from two black women, two minorities, about the effect gun violence has on minority communities. Dems should be ashamed of themselves. The NRA has made substantial gains under the Dems’ watch for the past 50 years or more. The NRA obviously wants minorities to genocide one another. Bloomberg wants to help end the genocide. Gun control with teeth is part of that solution as is ending poverty. Bloomberg at least has half the equation right and perhaps he can be brought to see the other half is as equally important to ending gun violence, especially minority on minority gun violence that further decimates impoverished communities.

    Twenty percent of all firearm homicides occur in the 25 largest U.S. cities (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, 2011). Of the 12,979 firearm homicides in the United States in 2015, 81% occurred in urban areas (CDC, 2017). The disparity is even greater in certain geographies of large cities, specifically those that are more racially and ethnically diverse. For example, in 2014, in Philadelphia’s safest police district, which is approximately 85% White, no one was reported killed by gun violence. In the most violent district, with a roughly 90% Black population, there were 189 shooting victims and 40 deaths (Philadelphia Police Department, 2017). The homicide rate for Black Americans in all 50 states is, on average, eight times higher than that of Whites (CDC, 2017). In general, U.S. residents are 128 times more likely to be killed by everyday gun violence than by international terrorism; Black people specifically are 500 times more likely to die this way (Xu, Murphy, Kochanek, & Bastian, 2016). Importantly, most urban areas, especially those that experience the most gun violence, are characterized by poverty, inequality, and racial segregation (Sampson, 2013).

    Most recently, attention has been focused on mass shootings in schools. As of August 2018, there were 56 incidents of gunfire on school grounds in 2018. But most people hear on the news about the Sandy Hook, Parkland, and Santa Fe incidents—shootings in suburban areas with majority White populations, even though Black and Brown communities—including the Newark Anti-Violence Coalition, the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center, the Wear Orange Campaign, Mothers in Charge, Mothers Against Senseless Killings, Black Lives Matter, and the Community Justice Reform Coalition—have been voicing concerns over gun violence for years. Gunfire on school grounds disproportionately affects students of color, occurring most often at schools with high enrollments of minority students. Although racial/ethnic minority students may not succumb to gun violence in mass shootings at the same rate as White children do, they still fall victim to and are exposed to gun violence at higher rates. Almost 3,000 children are shot and killed every year in the United States, with guns taking the lives of 10 times more Black children than White children (Fowler, Dahlberg, Haileyesus, Gutierrez, & Bacon, 2017).

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén