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

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – June 23 2024

by Tony Wikrent


Strategic Political Economy

Is the 4th Amendment Dead in Cyberspace?

Tracy Mitrano [Inside Higher Ed, via Thomas Neuburger, God’s Spies, June 21, 2024]

Over a year ago former director of both the NSA and CIA, Michael Hayden, flat out admitted, “we kill people based on metadata.” He quickly distinguished between the metadata about which the debate was focused, telephone records, and other forms of surveillance metadata upon which covert actions are taken. Not surprised about the actions, I confess I was taken aback when I considered the implications that this disclosure has on Fourth Amendment jurisprudence in cyberspace.

Ever since the USA-Patriot Act in 2001, I have been harping on complications of the Fourth Amendment between content and metadata in data networking. For as many years I have hoped for a revision of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to correct the discordance. In all that time, I have assumed that a restructuring of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence around these distinctions might be possible.

I no longer believe that is a reasonable fix. The advanced algorithms applied to metadata in government surveillance make metadata the equivalent of content. That is what struck me about Hayden’s remarks. Not just occasional leaks of subject lines or an Internet Protocol address that resolves to a web page found in routing records, but the sorting, combining and redefining of that data into identifiable predictive behaviors that function as the basis of military or law enforcement actions. It is in this sense that I declare the Fourth Amendment dead in cyberspace. The only way to resurrect the Fourth Amendment could be to place all data, both content and metadata, under Fourth Amendment rubric.

[Neuburger: “The Fourth Amendment is gone. It was lost in 1928. So, to the question above, will we see it enforced again — in today’s security-fed state, the answer is no.” ]


Why Won’t the US Help Negotiate a Peaceful End to the War in Ukraine?

Jeffrey D. Sachs, June 19, 2024 [Common Dreams]

For the fifth time since 2008, Russia has proposed to negotiate with the U.S. over security arrangements, this time in proposals made by President Vladimir Putin on June 14, 2024. Four previous times, the U.S. rejected the offer of negotiations in favor of a neocon strategy to weaken or dismember Russia through war and covert operations. The U.S. neocon tactics have failed disastrously, devastating Ukraine in the process, and endangering the whole world. After all the warmongering, it’s time for Biden to open negotiations for peace with Russia.

Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. grand strategy has been to weaken Russia. As early as 1992, then Defense Secretary Richard Cheney opined that following the 1991 demise of the Soviet Union, Russia too should be dismembered. Zbigniew Brzezinski opined in 1997 that Russia should be divided into three loosely confederated entities in Russian Europe, Siberia, and the far east. In 1999, the U.S.-led NATO alliance bombed Russia’s ally, Serbia, for 78 days in order to break Serbia apart and install a massive NATO military base in breakaway Kosovo. Leaders of the U.S. military-industrial complex vociferously supported the Chechen war against Russia in the early 2000s.

To secure these U.S. advances against Russia, Washington aggressively pushed NATO enlargement, despite promises to Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin that NATO would not move one inch eastward from Germany. Most tendentiously, the U.S. pushed NATO enlargement to Ukraine and Georgia, with the idea of surrounding Russia’s naval fleet in Sevastopol, Crimea with NATO states….

Brzezinski spelled out a chronology of NATO enlargement in 1997, including NATO membership of Ukraine during 2005-2010….

…In my view, [the February 2014 Maidan revolution in Ukraine] was a standard CIA-led covert regime change operation, of which there have been several dozen around the world, including sixty-four episodes between 1947 and 1989 meticulously documented by Professor Lindsey O’Rourke. Covert regime-change operations are of course not really hidden from view, but the U.S. government vociferously denies its role, keeps all documents highly confidential, and systematically gaslights the world….


Global power shift

US reputation on the line at Second Thomas Shoal 

[Asia Times, via Naked Capitalism 06-22-2024]

June 17 saw the most recent and most violent effort yet by the China Coast Guard to prevent the Philippines from resupplying the BNP Sierra Madre, an old navy ship deliberately grounded on Second Thomas Shoal and manned by a detachment of sailors and marines to assert Philippine control of the sea feature.


British meddling in Macedonia backfires, exposing coup machinations 

[The Grayzone, via Naked Capitalism 06-18-2024]


Why the US and Ukraine Should Accept Putin’s Latest Peace Offer 

David Pyne [The Real War, via Naked Capitalism 06-20-2024]


Gaza / Palestine / Israel

House Republican Claims Every GOP Colleague Has an ‘AIPAC Babysitter’ Pressuring Them to Cast Pro-Israel Votes 

[Mediaite, via Naked Capitalism 06-16-2024]


We’ve Seen This “Antisemitism Crisis On The Left” Script Before 

Caitlin Johnstone, [via Naked Capitalism 06-19-2024]



Timothy Mellon, Secretive Donor, Gives $50 Million to Pro-Trump Group

[New York Times, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 06-21-2024]

“The cash from Mr. Mellon, a reclusive billionaire who has also been a major donor to a super PAC supporting Robert F. Kennedy Jr., is among the largest single disclosed gifts ever.” Whoopsie, sorry Bobby. More: “Timothy Mellon, a reclusive heir to a Gilded Age fortune, donated $50 million to a super PAC supporting Donald J. Trump the day after the former president was convicted of 34 felonies, according to new federal filings, an enormous gift that is among the largest single disclosed contributions ever. The donation’s impact on the 2024 race is expected to be felt almost immediately. Within days of the contribution, the pro-Trump super PAC, Make America Great Again Inc., said in a memo that it would begin reserving $100 million in advertising through Labor Day.”

Billionaire Grandson of Gilded Age Plutocrat Gives Trump Super PAC $50 Million

Jake Johnson, June 21, 2024 [CommonDreams]

Billionaire businessman Timothy Mellon, the grandson of Gilded Age plutocrat Andrew Mellon, made a $50 million donation to a pro-Donald Trump super PAC last month, a day after the former president was convicted by a New York jury on 34 felony counts.

Mellon had previously donated $25 million to super PACs backing both Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an independent presidential candidate….

Mellon is one of at least a dozen billionaires supporting Trump’s bid for another four years in the White House. The former president has solicited donations from fossil fuel executives and hedge fund investors, promising to deliver regulatory rollbacks and more tax cuts if he defeats President Joe Biden in November.

Trump has also actively courted casino billionaire Miriam Adelson—his biggest 2020 donor and a fervent supporter of Israel—with apparent success: Politicoreported last month that Adelson is “planning to play a major role in funding Preserve America, a pro-Trump super PAC founded during the former president’s 2020 reelection campaign.”


The Ending of Hereditary American Fortunes — Gustavus Myers, 1939

( J. Messner, Inc., New York, 1939, reprinted by Augustus M. Kelley, New York, 1969.)


‘Fight Goes On to Tax the Rich,’ Says Warren After Supreme Court Ruling 

Jessica Corbett, June 20, 2024 [CommonDreams]

“Right-wing billionaires hoped an obscure legal case would blow up the tax code to avoid paying what they owe, but this effort failed at the Supreme Court,” Warren said in response to the 7-2 ruling in Moore v. United States. “The fight goes on to tax the rich, pass a wealth tax on ultra-millionaires and billionaires, and make the system more fair.”

Although the narrow decision doesn’t explicitly affirm the constitutionality of federal wealth tax proposals from congressional progressives including Warren, court watchers had feared a ruling in favor of Charles and Kathleen Moore—a Washington couple who challenged the mandatory repatriation tax (MRT) in Republicans’ 2017 tax law—would disrupt efforts to impose such policies.


CEO Compensation Skyrockets While Workers’ Pay Barely Keeps Up

Mark Kreidler, June 20, 2024 [The American Prospect]

Private sector workers gutted it out in 2023. Their overall compensation rose 4.1%, according to data reported last week by The Associated Press—just enough to keep pace with inflation after getting pounded by rising costs the year before.

Corporate executives, on the other hand, had a field day. The study, a collaboration between the AP and the research firm Equilar, found that median total compensation among S&P 500 CEOs in 2023 rose 12.6%, more than three times the rate of inflation and their workers’ increases.


The Senate Race in Ohio Is the Sickest in U.S. History in Terms of Billionaire Money from Outside the State

Pam Martens and Russ Martens, June 18, 2024 [Wall Street on Parade]

Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat and life-long Ohioan, is running for his fourth term in the U.S. Senate, after more than 17 years of proving consistently with his voice and actions that it’s the working class of Ohio that he stands up for in Congress. It would seem that Brown’s reelection should be an easy win. Instead, it will be one of the most expensive Senate races in U.S. history with the outcome dependent on just how vile and vicious the attack ads funded by out-of-state billionaires are against Brown. According to, outside groups have reserved $92.8 million in ads they plan to run supporting Brown’s Republican challenger….


The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

US executive pay rises at fastest rate in 14 years 

[Financial Times, via Naked Capitalism 06-18-2024]


Predatory finance

CBDCs Are Instruments Of Control—And They’re Here 

[Forbes, via Naked Capitalism 06-18-2024]


Ditching paper money has made Sweden a haven for online scams 

[Straits Times, via Naked Capitalism 06-21-2024]


Restoring balance to the economy

This Ecuadorian forest thrived amid deforestation after being granted legal rights 

[The Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 06-20-2024]


A Fighter for the Working Class

Alissa Quart, June 21, 2024 [The American Prospect]

Journalist Linda Tirado is dying after being shot by cops while covering the George Floyd protests. Her work told the story of poverty from the inside out….

It started when Tirado covered a George Floyd protest in Minneapolis in 2020. She was shot in the face with a rubber bullet by a police officer. While rubber bullets, law enforcement assures us, are nonlethal, the force of a shot can fracture skulls.

Tirado lost her sight in one eye, and over the last few years the full extent of her injury became clear. She also had brain damage and it was getting worse. And now, as her recent co-authored Substack informs us, “she is dying. Slowly, painfully, and with none of the dignity she’s earned and all of the TBI-induced dementia that’s stealing her limited time left with her kids.”

Disrupting mainstream economics

Isn’t it Time to Stop Calling it “The National Debt”? 

Steve Roth [Evonomics, via Naked Capitalism 06-20-2024]



Information age dystopia / surveillance state

Intelligence Officials Secretly Paid by Big Tech to Fight Antitrust Reforms 

[Lee Fang, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 06-17-2024]

“High-level former intelligence and national security officials have provided crucial assistance to Silicon Valley giants as the tech firms fought off efforts to weaken online monopolies and force competition on major platforms… ‘We need to keep Big Tech strong — so it can keep America strong,’ claimed Robert O’Brien, the former White House National Security Advisor to President Trump. O’Brien has appeared on cable news programs and penned several opinion columns rallying opposition to tech antitrust reforms in Congress…. .The disclosures show that the tech group not only paid a group of former Trump intelligence officials but also retained the services of Global Strategy Group, a polling and consulting firm that advises the Democratic National Committee. CCIA, notably, repeatedly cited O’Brien’s concerns around national security and China, casting him as a neutral expert rather than a paid consultant.”


This Week in AI: Generative AI is spamming up academic journals 

[TechCrunch, via Naked Capitalism 06-21-2024]


As AI is embraced, what happens to the artists whose work was stolen to build it? 

[LA Times, via Naked Capitalism 06-20-2024]


The Unknown Toll Of The AI Takeover 

Lois Parshley, June 19, 2024 [The Lever]

As artificial intelligence guzzles water supplies and jacks up consumers’ electricity rates, why isn’t anyone tracking the resources being consumed?

…Each time you search for something like “how many rocks should I eat” and Google’s AI “snapshot” tells you “at least one small rock per day,” you’re consuming approximately three watt-hours of electricity, according to Alex de Vries, the founder of Digiconomist, a research company exploring the unintended consequences of digital trends. That’s ten times the power consumption of a traditional Google search, and roughly equivalent to the amount of power used when talking for an hour on a home phone. (Remember those?)….


New Wi-Fi Takeover Attack—All Windows Users Warned To Update Now 

[Forbes, via Naked Capitalism 06-16-2024]


Climate and environmental crises

Courage or Hope? Facing the Climate Future

Thomas Neuburger [God’s Spies, June 19, 2024

‘Courage is the resolve to do well without the assurance of a happy ending’


‘We need the world to wake up’: Sudan facing world’s deadliest famine in 40 years 

[Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 06-18-2024]


Big Oil’s Plan To Criminalize Pipeline Protests 

Emily Sanders, June 17, 2024 [The Lever]


It’s Ridiculous Just How Good the Economic Case Is for a Rapid Clean Energy Transition 

David Suzuki, June 23, 2024

There are no valid economic arguments against rapidly shifting from burning polluting fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources….

Of course, the global consumer-based capitalist system encourages waste and destructive practices in the name of financial gain, so the necessary transformational change really requires a shift in economic paradigms. But even under the current system, or a similar one modified to remove the worst elements of greedy profiteering, the economic advantages of acting are clear….

One recent study in Nature conservatively estimates damages from climate change will cost six times as much as limiting global heating to 2 C within the next 26 years — with average incomes falling by 19 per cent.

Another study in Nature estimates the annual cost of climate-related extreme weather damages alone from 2000 to 2019 “average around $143 billion, which breaks down to around $16.3 million per hour,” and that “Over the past 20 years, extreme weather events globally, like hurricanes, floods and heat waves, have cost an estimated $2.8 trillion.” Those figures are rising rapidly.


Creating new economic potential – science and technology

Europe’s largest rare earth element deposit discovered in ancient Norwegian volcano 

[The Watchers, via Naked Capitalism 06-17-2024]


Democrats’ political malpractice

Capital Won’t Love You Back, Mr. President

Max Moran, June 20, 2024 [The American Prospect]

Recall the Business Roundtable confab with Trump last Thursday. Less remarked upon—and more telling of why a second Trump term is so terrifyingly probable—was that he was only one of the speakers. Representing the other side, and attending in Biden’s place while he was at the G7, was current White House chief of staff Jeff Zients.

If Trump’s talent is saying out loud what the rich are thinking, Zients’s talent is saying out loud what the rich want to hear. As I’ve written for the Prospect before, Zients became a billionaire through management consulting, essentially being paid to give businessmen permission to be cruel. He then became the Obama White House’s go-between for corporate America, once telling a group of CEOs, “You are the customers” of Obama’s economic policy. Zients spent the Trump years investing in surprise medical billing firms, then became Biden’s first COVID-19 czar in 2021. He failed miserably; that winter, Zients left Americans short on masks, tests, and treatments—all of which the administration could have produced domestically via the Defense Production Act—after ignoring months of pleas by epidemiologists to stockpile early….

THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION HAS HAD SOME GENUINE, even populist, successes in the Zients era. But these have mostly come from independent agencies and their directors, like Rohit Chopra at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Lina Khan at the Federal Trade Commission, or Jennifer Abruzzo at the National Labor Relations Board. Biden nominated all of them, so he can take some credit for their achievements. But they do lead independent agencies—Chopra, Khan, and Abruzzo do not take orders from the White House. If Zients had disapproved of their antagonizing Wall Street and Big Tech ahead of an election, he could not have stopped them.

Moreover, Biden has done little to tout these accomplishments from his team. His communications officials routinely balk at even talking about actions against big business. If this was meant to show corporate America that Biden isn’t as scary as The Wall Street Journal editorial board makes him out to be, clearly it hasn’t worked. It never could. It is abundantly clear to the world that Joe Biden is a capitalist — it’s in all of his speeches, it’s why moderates united behind him in the 2020 primary, it’s something anyone with a passing knowledge of his 50 years in national politics could tell you. The C-suites are fully aware that Joe Biden is not a socialist bent on their destruction. They don’t care.

Conservative / Libertarian / (anti)Republican Drive to Civil War

Trump super fans are impossible to argue with because they don’t actually believe in logic

[Flux, via The Big Picture 06-23-2024]

The far-right worldview is incomprehensible until you realize that devotees believe truth flows from authority rather than reality.


$800,000 wire transfer from billionaire donor to US Chamber raises curtain on dark money 

[The Hill, via Naked Capitalism 06-16-2024]


Sinclair floods local news websites with hundreds of deceptive articles about Biden’s mental fitness

[Popular Information, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 06-17-2024]

“On June 13, Sinclair’s National Desk published an article headlined, ‘Biden appears to wander away during G7 summit, escorted back by Italian PM.’ The article links to a social media post by right-wing polemicist Collin Rugg, who commented on a video clip by RNC Research. Rugg says Biden ‘appears to start wandering off at the G7 summit and has to be handled back in,’ describing it as a ‘clown show.’ The Trump campaign claimed Biden was ‘wandering around like a brain-dead zombie.’ Sinclair, echoing the Trump campaign’s political attack, described it as one of ‘a string of strange incidents for Biden.’ There was nothing strange about the incident. The G7 leaders watched a skydiving demonstration, with each parachuter carrying a flag for each nation. Biden briefly walks away from the group to give another parachuter a thumbs up. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that Biden ‘was being very polite and went over to talk to all of them individually.’” I did, in fact, see what purported to be the full video, which does this (video “purports to be” until proven otherwise). More: “Each of these crass political smears masquerading as journalism was syndicated to at least 86 local news websites owned by Sinclair. ”


Another Thing Trump Killed And Buried: Godwin’s Law

Howie Klein, June 21, 2024  []

What got me going down this road today was a post on Public Notice by Stephen Robinson, Don’t be gaslit: Trump’s corruption is unparalleled in which he talked about the unprecedented corruption at the heart of Trump’s first term and how Trump tries projecting that onto Biden. What caught my attention was his discussion of Trump’s refusal, soon after he was declared the winner, despite losing the popular vote, to divest from his personal business interests. “Before 2016,” wrote Robinson, “it was standard procedure for presidents to divest from their business interests before taking office… Trump made mouth noises about following precedent, pledging he would leave ‘my great business’ during his time in the White House. ‘While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses,’ Trump tweeted on November 30, 2016. It quickly became clear, however, that Trump’s divestment plan was a joke: He merely turned over active control to his two sons, Don Jr. and Eric, which hardly satisfied ethics experts. For instance, Richard Painter, former ethics counsel to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, argued that Trump should ‘put all his conflict-generating assets in a true blind trust run by an independent trustee.’ Trump held a press conference a week before his inauguration that was supposed to clarify how he planned to hand the family business over to his sons. However, the documents placed next to him as evidence of his complex financial preparations were just props, binders filled with blank paper.”

Trump’s whole family got in on the act. Lara Trump claimed her family was “not going to do any more international business deals,” but that was a lie. The nonprofit government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington concluded based on an analysis of tax returns made available only after Trump left office that he made up to $160 million from international business dealings during his presidency.
…When Trump announced he wouldn’t divest from his business, he tried to throw people off the scent by vowing he wouldn’t take actions as president that would benefit him personally. That claim was almost immediately proven false. As president-elect, he met at Trump Tower with Indian business partners who were constructing a Trump-branded luxury apartment complex south of Mumbai. Don Jr. furthered the family’s interests in India and he had no problem learning his father’s ‘brand’ during negotiations, a brand significantly more valuable now that his dad was president.
…Perhaps most egregiously, in 2019, Trump selected his Doral resort as the site where world leaders would gather for the G7 summit.
That proved too much even for some Republicans to swallow, and Trump ultimately backed down. It was one of the few times his self-dealing knew any limits.


Ever Wonder What Michigan Gun Nut Nazis Look Like when They’re Elected To The State Legislature? Meet Kornelius Friske (R)

Howie Klein, June 21, 2024  []

n the legislature, he advocated a eugenics agenda that would increase the birthrate of upper class whites and decrease it for “welfare recipients.” The Nazi Michigander was proud to babble nonsense about a need to “curb the growth of the drone population that weakens our society. Educated, propertied Americans need a vigorous pro‐natalist outlook, but the tax pressure on the middle class all but forbid this outlook. The danger today is that educated, propertied Americans will limit their families, while the ignorant, dependent elements will multiply. Bright young people in college are being persuaded that they shouldn’t have more than two children because of a global population explosion. The birth rate among this element is already beginning to decline. But the population growth in America’s slums, where the welfare population resides, is explosive. Those who have to pay the taxes, who in many cases provide quality education for their children because public schools have been wrecked by political and sociological experiments, seem to be deciding that the middle class will have to limit the size of families in the future. Those who live out of the public trough, who subsist on food stamps and welfare checks, are continuing to have big families. They are confident that Uncle Sam will pick up the tab for food, housing, medical care, education and even recreation.”

He accused the Republican governor, William Milliken, of being part of an “international satanic conspiracy” planning to take over the world. He also claimed the JFK, LBJ and Nixon were deliberating selling out the county to Communists. He was defeated for reelection in the GOP primary in 1972, ran unsuccessfully for Congress and subsequently lost 2 more GOP primaries to get back into the state House. In 1999, he contributed $1,000 to KKK Grand Wizard David Duke when he ran for Congress in Louisiana.


Donald Trump’s Get-Out-The-Vote Plan is Bonkers 

Bill Scher, June 20, 2024 [Washington Monthly]

The Trump campaign is tasking the far-right Turning Point network with spearheading its ground game despite having no track record of success.

Trump’s Tax-by-Tariffs Plan Would Enrich the Wealthy, Cripple the Economy, and Send Inflation Soaring

Robert J. Shapiro. June 20, 2024 [Washington Monthly]


The (anti)Federalist Society Infestation of the Courts

Hedge Funds’ Secret Weapon to Fight the SEC Lives in Texas 

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism 06-20-2024]

The National Association of Private Fund Managers, a little-known group whose main focus appears to be challenging SEC rules, has sat tucked in a Fort Worth law office since its founding in 2022. Its home is 1,500 miles from many hedge fund campuses in leafy Connecticut, and even further from London or Singapore, where its impact is being felt.

But the group’s address at 301 Commerce Street in Texas’s fifth-biggest city is serving a greater purpose. NAPFM, the clunky acronym the association goes by, is giving hedge fund and private equity titans access to what’s quickly become one of the financial world’s most important venues: The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.


‘Truly Evil’ Clarence Thomas Offers Defense of Guns for Domestic Abusers 

Jessica Corbett, June 21, 2024 [CommonDreams]

“The Thomas dissent is only further proof that he is simply a threat to America,” said the father of a mass shooting victim….

Thomas wrote Friday that after Bruen, “this court’s directive was clear: A firearm regulation that falls within the Second Amendment’s plain text is unconstitutional unless it is consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation. Not a single historical regulation justifies the statute at issue.”

However, given the majority, Stern predicted that “A LOT of lower court decisions that interpreted Bruen as a maximalist cudgel against virtually all modern gun safety measures—and struck down a bunch of laws accordingly—are about to get vacated and remanded by the Supreme Court for reconsideration in light of Rahimi.”


Is This the End of the Clarence Thomas Court?

Matt Ford, June 21, 2024 [The New Republic]

In Friday’s ruling on domestic violence and the Second Amendment, the other eight justices rejected his approach to originalism.

Civic republicanism

How Democracies Decline Into Autocracies 

[Madras Courier, via Naked Capitalism 06-17-2024]

Plato, the Greek philosopher, had utter disdain for democracy. He contended that late-stage democracies, which contain the seeds of tyranny, degenerate into an authoritarian yoke when the time is ripe.

Plato’s discourse on democracy appears in his magnum opus, The Republic; in books eight and nine, he elucidates the sequence in which egalitarian social systems retrograde into tyrannical oppression.
Interestingly, other great political analysts and philosophers such as PolybiusAristotleMachiavelli and John Adams did not refute Plato’s treatise on the irredeemable fate of democracies. However, modern-day academics, public intellectuals and political strategists dismiss Plato as ‘a genius political philosopher but a shoddy political scientist.’
Plato wrote The Republic in BCE 375. But it seems that 2400 years later, Plato has been proven right. In the twenty-first century—marked by technological advancements and the unprecedented proliferation of knowledge societies in human history—democracies of the world are turning into autocracies. V-Dem, a ‘research group’ based at the University of Gothenburg, which monitors and analyses the quality of democracies worldwide, states in a 2021 report that more than seventy per cent of the world’s population live in autocracies—a significant increase from forty-nine per cent in 2011.


On Juneteenth, Let’s Examine the Link Between MAGA and the Old South 

Thom Hartmann, June 19, 2024 [The New Republic]

We face a second insurrection in this country today, and most people have no idea how closely it’s modeled on the first one….

…The people who’ve captured the Republican Party envision a day when they won’t have to even pretend that they’re engaging in good-faith political discussions or negotiations because they will have outlawed, sidelined, or intimidated their opposition into impotence and silence.

They’re using our political system this election year, in other words, so they can seize enough power to destroy our political system. And they have a model they’re using for what they want to replace it with: the Confederacy….

The wealthiest among the Southern oligarchs colluded on price-fixing to bankrupt and then buy out small farms and plantations for pennies on the dollar. Within a few decades, by the early 1840s, a handful of fabulously wealthy families had seized complete control of the economic and political systems of each state in the Old South.

And they brooked no opposition: White men who dared run or vote against them in elections were often assassinated or lynched; newspapers were seized and handed over to oligarchs friendly to the plantation owners; elections became a mere charade. They even monitored the mail: If you wrote a letter to a friend complaining about the end of democracy, you’d find yourself in prison or hanged from a tree….

As historian Dr. Forrest A. Nabors wrote in his brilliant book From Oligarchy to Republicanism: The Great Task of Reconstructionthe richest families in the South had replaced democracy with a violent oligarchy, what today I’d call fascism: “A new generation of rulers reshaped the South around their new ruling principle.… The development of Southern oligarchy portended the rupture of the union, regardless of the ties that bound them together, because no ties, physical, legal, or otherwise, can overcome the difference between fundamentally opposed types of political regimes.”

The Origins of the Major Questions Doctrine (PDF) U of Michigan Public Law Research Paper No. 24-008, via Naked Capitalism 06-16-2024]

From the Abstract: “Rather than upholding separation of powers principles or agency adherence to the text of its authorizing statute, the Supreme Court’s benzene decision is best characterized as a judicial power grab at the expense of both agency expertise and the democratically elected branches of government. The paper concludes by showing how the Supreme Court’s missteps in the benzene case – exaggeration of economic costs, ignoring statutory constraints on agency discretion, and deferring to unqualified experts – have continued to plague the Supreme Court’s ‘major questions’ decisions, and provides suggestions for how the courts and agencies can avoid these problems.”

Don’t Be Fooled By Liberalism’s Modesty

Representative Jamie Raskin,  June 21, 2024 [The New Republic]

I’ve traveled to 19 states in this campaign, and I find old-fashioned Enlightenment liberalism alive and well at ground level in the surging party of democracy. The abortion issue catalyzing activism everywhere has become a fight not just for women’s access to health care but an organizing juggernaut for the rights of women and men to make their own life decisions free from the designs of the misogynist theocrats, billionaire plutocrats, and plundering kleptocrats who make up the sinister autocratic cult of Trump.

Local activists, ACLU lawyers, and teachers are defending books and libraries against book-banners and government censors with gusto. Liberal feminists are defending birth control and IVF against nasty puritan scolds in state capitols. A surging movement of secular citizens is defending the separation of church and state against cultists and the local bosses of right-wing megachurches. And everyone from the League of Women Voters to the NAACP is fighting for our voting rights against the mutating tactics of voter suppression, the endless cycles of gerrymandering and the straight-up disenfranchisement of millions of people, including former prisoners in at least eight states, 3.3 million Americans in Puerto Rico, and around 689,000 Americans living in Washington, D.C.
Meantime, online progressive liberals with an attitude are zealously fighting for free expression and reason in the cyber-trenches against high-tech fundamentalism, racism, antisemitism, fanaticism, fascism, and tribalism, as well as the disinformation and propaganda interjections of foreign state actors like Vladimir Putin….
There’s an old saying, commonly attributed to John Dewey, that the only cure to the ills of democracy is more democracy, and what we are suffering from today is not democracy but all the structural impediments to it, like gerrymandering, voter suppression, right-wing judicial activism, the filibuster, and the antiquated, anti-democratic, and manipulable Electoral College system. The system of anti-democracy, the GOP’s bulging bag of tricks, thwarts our democracy and our freedom at the same time.


Defend Liberalism? Let’s Fight for Democracy First

Jefferson Cowie, June 21, 2024 [The New Republic]

…American liberals would like to see U.S. history bursting forth from its Jeffersonian roots, launched on a steady march from monarchy to democracy, from slavery to freedom, from rapacious Gilded Age capitalism to robust regulatory state. Instead, confusion reigns. By the time I get to the 1980s in my history classes, for instance, it takes me a 45-minute slog of a lecture just to explain the etymology of “neoliberalism.” The root of the term is a nineteenth-century Manchester-style economic “liberalism” deployed to overturn a twentieth-century New Deal and Great Society “liberalism.” That nineteenth-century version was a very selective implementation of a more abstract liberal idea—one that highlighted free trade (a total myth in the U.S. case) while often ignoring the liberties of free citizens, the rights of workers, or the process of democratic government. When I suggest to my students that the individualism of their generation’s identity-based liberalism could be said to feed the hypercapitalism of neoliberalism, their heads are spinning….

…this year, Steven Hahn finally wielded his hefty historian’s hammer, sinking nails in the coffin of liberalism by separating Hartz from fact in his perfectly titled book, Illiberal America: A History. Hahn writes “not of the country’s recent departure from long-established and entrenched ‘norms,’” but instead “how our present-day reckoning with the rise of a militant and illiberal set of movements has lengthy and constantly ramifying roots.” He also shows how the mythology of liberalism has been sustained less by its proponents than by its anxious critics. The right attacks it, while the left defends some kind of imaginary norm to fight off the new assault on great (mythical) American values.

Individual freedom is often seen as the core of liberalism (root: liber, free), that most cherished of American values. Yet the practice of freedom hardly holds up to any litmus test of American liberalism. In my recent book, Freedom’s Dominion: A Saga of White Resistance to Federal Power (2022), I found a near two-century history of the practice of Jeffersonian-Jacksonian freedom wielded by white elites to dominate the land, labor, and political power of other people. Freedom for white Americans meant the freedom to control, exploit, subjugate, deny, and even murder. When, for instance, the federal government intervened militarily to back the political rights of formerly enslaved people, elite Alabamians fought the feds with a twisted but enduring version of the liberal ideal. Whites saw federal intervention as a “flagrant and dangerous invasion of the ancient conservative principles of personal liberty and free government.” ….

When it comes to the modern civil rights era, it is worth mentioning that the brave actions of the Little Rock Nine integrated Little Rock High School, but it also took the illiberal means of Eisenhower’s executive order and a show of force by the 101st Airborne Division to make sure the job got done. This is an age in which liberal stalwart Hubert Humphrey, segregationist Senator Richard Russell, and master manipulator Lyndon Johnson—and perhaps even Eisenhower himself—were all liberals. How can that be?

[TW: Indeed: “the federal government intervened militarily to back the political rights of formerly enslaved people”  to enforce the Guarantee Clause of the Constitution, that each state in the Union must have a republican form of government. Liberalism can be twisted by an elite — whether majoritarian, as then, or minoritarion, as now, does not matter — but republicanism cannot. Because republicanism demands there be institutional arrangements designed to protect against the inevitable corruptibility of humans. By contrast, liberalism favors institutional arrangements  based on “popular support.” If a demagogue can persuade gather enough supporters — or the rich can purchase enough support — liberalism grants them legitimacy. Republicanism demands that institutions and policies be just and promote the General Welfare, else they are not legitimate.  Politics then becomes a never-ending attempt to answer “what is the General Welfare?” while the social sciences strongly indicate that a sense of fairness and justice is deeply ingrained in almost all individuals.]

[Jefferson Cowie received the Pulitzer Prize in 2023 for his book Freedom’s Dominion: A Saga of White Resistance to Federal Power. He teaches history at Vanderbilt University.]

[TW: Also note how republicanism’s demand for justice quite simply obliterates Justice Thomas and the “originalists” legal theories of “history and tradition.” In his 1945 book, The Classical Republicans, historian Zera S. Fink wrote that Algernon Sydney argued

time conferred rectitude on nothing; that laws and constitutions, however ancient, should be weighed and if bad abolished; that it was stupid to follow what one’s fathers had done if it was evil; that “we are not therefore so much to inquire after that which is most ancient, as after that which is best”; that “we are not to seek what government was the first, but what best provides for the obtaining of justice and the preservation of liberty”; that the fact that there had been kings in the past did not forever oblige men to continue them; and that “there can be no reason, why a polite people should not relinquish the errors committed by their ancestors in the time of their barbarism and ignorance, and why we should not do it in matters of government, as well as in any other thing relating to life.” ]


Open Thread


UK’S Reform Party Is Poised To Destroy the Consersvatives, and Deserves To


  1. bruce wilder

    “Is the 4th Amendment Dead in Cyberspace?”

    It was never alive. The foundational architecture — generally, every component was always the simplest protocol that would still work cobbled together in the simplest way that would still work — was transparent in its simplicity.

    It is not possible to give legal effect to any principle that is not supported by functional structure and sustained thru any subsequent redesign of functional structure. Disembodied principles are no more substantial than wispy ghosts floating about the ether, not able to touch or move any lever of the institutional user interface that lies like a skin over the bony anatomy of the technical architecture.

    Another way of saying this is the now proverbial: “code is law”.

    To make “privacy” work would entail prescribing in a technically sophisticated way the ways in which websites and applications identify users and access their accumulated, aggregated knowledge about individual users. Right now, can claim access to your cellphone even if you don’t install the app on your phone. Your local police department doesn’t need a search warrant for a wiretap; it just needs access to your Google Account, to know everywhere you’ve been in the last two years or more. We live in a commercial surveillance dystopia and what few rights we have come down to the totally annoying prompts to reject cookies that you have to respond to three dozen times a day.

    At an absolute minimum, I think effective reform would require giving people the ability to wear masks, literally and figuratively (that is, in the technical world of cyberspace). Wearing a mask, as in a masquerade, doesn’t mean simply obscuring your identity, but actually adopting multiple identities each with enough attributes to complete transactions of interest to their user/owner, but armoured against the ability of large databases to put 2 and 2 together to identify the universe of a single, unique individual. I expect the user might also have to legally own most data about one’s multiple selves and to make claims against those who would store and use that personal “IP” without permissions, permissions that could not be extorted as a condition to do business.

    If you begin to think about the problem realistically, you begin to realize that idealism is not helpful at all in finding a workable solution to restoring privacy after the emergence of universal commercial surveillance. The technical apparatus that enables universal commercial surveillance was put together originally by idealistic nerds. The same nerdy people, in the same spirit, created the world of computer viruses and spam and ransomware. To fix this, you need to find people who can think like professional conmen, to build an architecture of locks and keys and traces and disguises.

    After that, you can bring in the lawyers.

  2. VietnamVet

    The rush of traffic here and there. The desperate need for profit by any means. The merger of corporation and state (Fascism). The total ignoring of any consequences has culminated into the USA’s 2024 election to choose the Western Emperor from one of the last two American Presidents. Grabbing one’s cut of the 16 billion dollars in election money being spent is the whole point.

    But even “Pravda on the Potomac” has published “Meet the ‘double haters’ who could decide the election”. The proxy World War 3 in Ukraine and Gaza that is spreading to Taiwan has already had a significant impact with higher inflation and shortages. Although the Heartland has not been hit with missiles and drones like Russia with a little help from NATO; it is inevitable here in North America, sooner or later, unless an armistice is signed and DMZs constructed. The Biden Administration can’t acknowledge another stunning defeat after the loss of Kabul and the blockade of the Suez Canal and a Trump Administration will extract revenge on the “Deep State” for making him a felon leading to an inevitable red blue state separation. The only way out is the restoration of the Constitutional Republic and the creation of a political party dedicated to the return of global peace and which acknowledges the truth. This is a multi-polar world again and nuclear safeguards are the only way to avoid Doomsday.

    The first intercontinental missile attack (or economic crash) and reality bites back violently.

  3. Adam Eran

    Why renewables aren’t replacing conventional energy sources more rapidly. Short answer: they aren’t as (short term) profitable.

    Long answer:

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