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

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – June 25, 2023

by Tony Wikrent

Strategic Political Economy

In Delaware, Corporations Are Dangerously Close to Acquiring the Right to Vote 

[Jacobin, via Naked Capitalism 6-22-2023]

As GOP states across the country aim to limit voter participation, Delaware’s Democratic-controlled legislature has been considering a bill to allow the expansion of the franchise to businesses. The Republican legislation would explicitly permit the city of Seaford, Delaware, “to authorize artificial entities, limited liability corporations’ partnerships and trusts to vote in municipal elections.”

The legislature has until June 30, when the legislative session ends, to vote on the bill.

With hundreds of thousands of corporations officially headquartered in a small Wilmington warehouse, Delaware has long been known for its business fealty. The state’s new legislation would allow corporations to upend the balance of power in Seaford, a small eight thousand–person city twenty miles north of Salisbury, Maryland. Just 340 people voted in the most recent election on April 15 — and the bill would potentially provide as many as 234 votes to businesses in the community.

The State That May Let Corporations Vote In Elections

Matthew Cunningham-Cook, June 20, 2023 [The Lever]

No, We Haven’t Lived with Diseases for Millions of Years. 

Jessica Wildfire [via Naked Capitalism 6-21-2023]

You hear this a lot: Apparently humans have lived with germs and diseases for millions of years. There’s no need for masks or vaccines. Nobody needs clean air. Natural immunity works just fine.

It’s wrong.

It couldn’t be more wrong.

We’ve never been able to live with diseases, not like we do now. Most westerners have no idea. Before medicine, life looked different.

You couldn’t even drink the water.

As an article in Scientific American points out, “water was unsafe to drink for most of human history.” According to Paul Lukacs, humans had to drink wine. It wasn’t fun, either. Ancient texts describe wine as “wretched, horrible, vinegary, foul.” The only thing worse was plain water. You often had no idea if it was safe to drink. For thousands of years, humans opted for beer and wine instead. There was just enough alcohol to kill germs….

Scientists and historians from all disciplines agree on this point: For most of our history, our lives were short. Average life expectancy remained well below 50 for millennia. We didn’t get eaten by tigers.

We got eaten by plagues.

When you look at the last 2,000 years across the world, you see the same thing. About half of all children died before reaching adulthood. Scientists confirm this trend all the way back to the stone age. As Oxford scholar Max Roser says, “Whether in Ancient Rome, in hunter-gatherer societies, in the pre-Columbian Americas, in Medieval Japan or Medieval England, in the European Renaissance, or in Imperial China, every second child died.”

Epidemics have upended countless civilizations, from Rome to the Akkadian Empire. These societies didn’t just live with it. Death and grief played a central role in their cultures, because it happened all the time. It was a different world that most people today can’t wrap their heads around.

They didn’t shrug it off.

They chased answers.

History is full of doctors and scientists who devoted their entire lives trying to treat and cure diseases that plagued us. It’s also full of quacks and charlatans who made fortunes by selling fake miracle cures. There’s a reason why historical novels and movies feature apothecaries and snake oil salesmen. Almost everyone was sick or scared of getting sick and dying….

Diseases have always hit the poor worse than everyone else. Throughout history, the rich have invested in sanitation for themselves first while leaving everyone else behind and blaming them for their own deaths….

[TW: The role of government in fighting disease is central, One indication is to scan the list of Nobel Laureates affiliated with or funded by the USA National Institutes of Health.

“To date, 169 scientists either at NIH or whose research is supported by NIH funds have been the sole or shared recipients of 101 Nobel Prizes.”

And, then there is the fight for clean water supplies.
Chronology of American Waterworks from 1649 to 1865
Chronology of American Waterworks from 1866 to 1880 ]


Conservative charade of poising as economic populists

[TW: The next few links are about the new conservative manifesto just published by American Compass, which has been carefully written to reflect working Americans’ economic angst. The liberal response so far is frighteningly inadequate. There is a good chance conservatives using this new manifesto can steal the thunder of the Democratic Party and much of “the left” to make significant electoral gains. But as I discuss later, liberals are philosophically incapable of defending against this new conservative manifesto. It is best refuted by appealing to core principles of civic republicanism. ]

Conservatives Only Pretend To Be Pro-Union

Timothy Noah, June 21, 2023 [Backbencher]

You should read American Compass’s new manifesto, Rebuilding American Capitalism: A Handbook for Conservative Policymakers. Some of it is pretty good! American Compass is a right-wing group founded three years ago by Oren Cass, a young and ambitious ex-Bainie who was a domestic policy adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. The group’s mission is to come up with conservative economic policies to solidify the working class’s allegiance to the GOP….

The American Compass manifesto breaks new conservative ground. It acknowledges and documents the reality of expanding economic equality. It even recognizes that strong labor unions are a necessary prerequisite to reversing it. But a close reading of Rebuilding American Capitalism reveals that this is a bait-and-switch. The report calls for empowering labor unions in the headlines, but in the fine print it furnishes a roadmap to eviscerating them. That’s the topic of my latest New Republic piece.

Conservatives Aren’t Serious About Empowering the Working Class

Timothy Noah, June 21, 2023 [The New Republic]

A new manifesto by the nonprofit American Compass capably identifies the problems facing the working class but stumbles on the solutions—especially labor unions.

For years we’ve been hearing about Republican strategies to displace the Democrats as the party of the working class, but conservative efforts to define what that means have always faltered….

American Compass was created three years ago to change that. Founded by Oren Cass, a fortyish former Bainie and domestic policy adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, American Compass is a conservative nonprofit that fashions itself pro-worker. It just produced a manifesto titled Rebuilding American Capitalism: A Handbook for Conservative Policymakers that attempts to define a set of conservative economic policies to help the working class. It will host a conference to discuss these on Wednesday afternoon in the Russell Senate Office Building, with remarks from Senators Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, J.D. “Hillbilly Elegy” Vance, and Todd Young.

Rebuilding American Capitalism acknowledges wage stagnation, decries stock buybacks, bemoans financialization, and rejects “market fundamentalism.” It knocks libertarians for disdaining government and mocks Glenn Hubbard, President George W. Bush’s chief economic adviser, for stating that “the goal of the economic system [is] optimizing consumption.” It recognizes the serious problem of growing economic inequality. Except for progressives, whom it denounces cartoonishly as disdainful of the private sector and overly “eager to use public programs to provide whatever the market does not,” the manifesto is against the right things. The trouble arises when it’s called upon to be for something—specifically, labor unions….

Ultimately, Rebuilding American Capitalism, for all its proletarian posturing, can’t muster much enthusiasm for labor unions. After its very good review early on of the data on growing income inequality, and a less-good section accusing liberals of not supporting apprenticeship programs (not remotely true), the manifesto gives the game away by stating that “although most Americans … wish they had more opportunities for their voice to be heard” in the workplace, “the traditional labor union is not the model they prefer.” Oh, please. Anybody who’s paid the slightest attention knows that labor unions enjoy more public support today than they have in half a century. It’s inconceivable that the authors of Rebuilding American Capitalism don’t know this.

Hope in a Bankrupt America 

Micah Meadowcroft, Jun 21, 2023 [The American Conservative, via Naked Capitalism 6-23-2023]

Rebuilding American Capitalism: A Handbook for Conservative Policymakersforeword by Oren Cass, American Compass, 104 pages….

Ours is still a capitalist regime, and, as Trump’s fellow populist in that early campaign, Sen. Bernie Sanders, might put it, American capitalism is bankrupt, too. American Compass agrees. Last week, the small think tank—the vanguard of the GOP’s much-discussed “realignment”—released its “Handbook for Conservative Policymakers,” a plan for Rebuilding American Capitalism. Today, in a show of force, Compass hosts four Republican senators—Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, J.D. Vance, and Todd Young—on Capitol Hill. Readers of The American Conservative may have long nurtured fears from the right about libertarian economics and the consequent wage stagnation, inequality, and two-income trap, but now we are not alone.

Speaking at the conference, The Washington Examiner reported Rubio argued,

…we must consider what to do when the interest of the market is not in line with our national interest. He answers his own question by arguing we can no longer look at the market as an infallible system that will always take care of us all but rather as a tool to advance the national interest. The government certainly has a role to play here, Rubio says, because the only people who will put American interests first are American policymakers. Not businesses. Not global institutions. Just American policymakers.

Rebuilding American Capitalism: A Handbook for Conservative Policymakers (pdf)

[foreword by Oren Cass, American Compass, June 2023]

[I will begin by offering a few excerpts from this conservative manifesto to show how it closely it mimics left populist critiques of the USA economy: ]


Conservatives now realize that economics needs politics to define the ends that markets should advance, and policymakers must be responsive to their constituents. The market has incredible power to orchestrate millions of individual actions through price signals and freely chosen transactions. But the market has no power to recognize, let alone provide for, the many needs tha tare not reflected in price signals,even when they are more important to people’s lives and require greater coordination and cooperation.

“Building a Coalition That Builds,” by Ruy Teixeira, p. 25

What should these policies be? Start with what they shouldn’t be. They should not reprise the traditional Republican playbook of cutting taxes and shrinking government on the theory that doing so will allow the free market to enrich everyone. That ship has sailed. Working class voters do not have a knee-jerk hostility to government and government spending and do not believe that unleashing corporate capitalism, based on its track record, is likely to benefit them. They certainly do not believe  that tax cuts skewed toward the wealthy and corporations, as in the one major legislative achievement of the Trump era—the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017—are going to do much to improve their lives or opportunities. Conservatives must advocate a robust policy program for national economic renewal, not a tired rerun of Reagan-era policies. That most assuredly includes a role for government, albeit one that is consistent with conservative principles of individual responsibility and dynamic entrepreneurship and commitments to the social bedrock of family and

Establish a financial transaction tax (FTT) of 10 basis points on secondary-market sales of stocks, bonds, and derivatives. Use the proceeds to fund a pro-investment tax policy such as permanent full expensing of capital investments or a lower capital gains tax rate for longer-term investment.

[TW: Democrats should seize on this proposal for a financial transaction tax; it has been a progressive proposal since 1972, when economist James Tobin proposed it in the Eastern Economic Journal. But I seriously doubt that conservatives will work together to actually get such a new tax passed. Democrats should press the issue, and force the “no new taxes” worms out of the woodwork. In addition, tax law must be changed to assess a company based on its financial reporting to investors and owners, and eliminate entirely the sham of companies using different accounting systems and methods to diminish income or produce losses reported to the IRS. This discussed in detail by David Cay Johnston in his 2005 book, Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich–and Cheat Everybody Else.

[Most importantly, the American Compass report completely ignore the interrelated problems of economic inequality and how inequality corrodes and corrupts democratic forms and processes of government — a problem that historically has been a central concern of theorists of civic republicanism. As Michael J. Thompson explained in his 2007 bookThe Politics of Inequality: A Political History of the Idea of Economic Inequality in America:


…the economic egalitarian tradition that I will present here is so crucial because it is at the heart of the American republican project itself. The American idea of a democratic republic had always been premised on an antipathy toward unequal divisions of property because early American thinkers saw in those unequal shares of economic power echoes of what had been historically overturned: a sociopolitical order of rank and privilege; a static society that sought to crystallize power relationships and hierarchical economic and social relations characterized by corruption and patronage; in short, a feudal order where the exercise of power was arbitrary and the prospect of domination pervaded everyday life. The reason I trace the historical development and inevitable dissolution of the discourse on economic inequality in American political thought is to show that the American republican project was, in fact, deeply tied to the issues of economic inequality as a reaction to feudal social relations. Any political community that suffers from severe imbalances between rich and poor is in danger of losing its democratic character….

…economic inequality must also be seen in political terms: in the ways that it creates new forms of hierarchy, social fragmentation, and constraints on individual liberty. American political thought was, at least through the beginings of the twentieth century, a mixture of liberal and republican themes. Politically, the emphasis on individual liberty was matched by a concern for a community of equals. Republican themes emphasized the need for the absence of domination, which was itself understood as the ability of one person to arbitrarily interfere with another. This was a more robust understanding of freedom than liberalism offers since it was sensitive to the ways that institutions bound working people to conditions that eroded their substantive freedom and rights….

[The absence of any consideration of economic inequality and its effects on democracy of course means that there is no discussion of oligarchy, and the unique pathologies of the rich and powerful. Classical theorists of civic republicanism such as Plato, Cicero, Machiavelli, Algernon Sydney, and James Harrington have repeatedly discussed how wealth corrupts, and great wealth corrupts greatly, summarized by John Milton’s Satan declaring “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.”

[Tellingly, corruption is mentioned only twice in the the American Compass report: “Both corruption within American unions and illegal union-busting by American corporations are far too prevalent” and Chinese investment “operate outside of American securities law and transparency requirements,corrupting the American market and subjecting retail investors and pension funds to excessive risk.” See  my comment on Zephyr Teachout’s work on corruption, further below. Zephyr Teachout has detailed how the rich have been able to change the law and jurisprudence so that more and more corrupt activity is given the cloak of legalism. Outright lobbying used to be a criminal offense in the 1800s.

[Finally, the American Compass report completely ignores environmental and ecological problems. The only mention of climate change is a complaint that the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act codified an “imbalance of support between renewables and alternatives like nuclear” and “clean coal” in accord with “the preferences of the educated elites that dominate the Democratic Party.”]

Why It Seems Everything We Knew About the Global Economy Is No Longer True

[New York Times, via Naked Capitalism 6-19-2023]

…The economic conventions that policymakers had relied on since the Berlin Wall fell more than 30 years ago — the unfailing superiority of open markets, liberalized trade and maximum efficiency — look to be running off the rails….
The idea that trade and shared economic interests would prevent military conflicts was trampled last year under the boots of Russian soldiers in Ukraine.
And increasing bouts of extreme weather that destroyed cropsforced migrations and halted power plants has illustrated that the market’s invisible hand was not protecting the planet….
Associated economic theories about the ineluctable rise of worldwide free market capitalism took on a similar sheen of invincibility and inevitability. Open markets, hands-off government and the relentless pursuit of efficiency would offer the best route to prosperity. It was believed that a new world where goods, money and information crisscrossed the globe would essentially sweep away the old order of Cold War conflicts and undemocratic regimes….
Poorer nations were pressured to lift all restrictions on capital moving in and out of the country. The argument was that money, like goods, should flow freely among nations. Allowing governments, businesses and individuals to borrow from foreign lenders would finance industrial development and key infrastructure. “Financial globalization was supposed to usher in an era of robust growth and fiscal stability in the developing world,” said Jayati Ghosh, an economist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. But “it ended up doing the opposite.”….
“It was naïve to think that markets are just about efficiency and that they’re not also about power,” said Abraham Newman, a co-author with Mr. Farrell of “Underground Empire: How America Weaponized the World Economy.”

Our Systems Reward Dysfunction And Destruction

Caitlin Johnstone [ia Naked Capitalism 6-20-2023]

Our civilization is sick because all its systems ensure that human behavior is driven by profit, and health isn’t profitable. Nobody gets rich from everyone staying healthy all the time. The gears of capitalism will still keep turning if its populace is made shallow and dull by bad education and crappy art made for profit. Billionaires aren’t made by leaving forests and oceans unmolested, consuming less, mining less, drilling less, using less energy….

….the death of activist movements didn’t just happen on its own, right? We all know about COINTELPRO? Known instances where one out of every six activists was actually a federal infiltrator? The roll-out of the most sophisticated propaganda machine that has ever existed?

The amount of energy the western empire has poured into killing all leftist and antiwar movement is staggering, but people just think the acid wore off and the hippies turned into yuppies and the Reagan administration happened on its own. It didn’t. They had to work hard at that.

The revolution didn’t organically fizzle out, it was actively strangled to death. And what’s left in its place is this defeatist attitude where people want a healthy society but believe it can’t be attained, so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.


End game in the Ukraine war approaches with lightning speed 

Gilbert Doctorow [via Naked Capitalism 6-21-2023]

Today Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made an announcement that has not yet been carried in Western media but which is of the most grave nature.

According to the latest intelligence reports, Russia believes that the Ukrainian armed forces now intend to cover their failed counter-offensive in the Donbas by using US-supplied Himars multiple launch artillery and UK-supplied Storm Shadow cruise missiles, possibly in the longer range domestic version, to attack the Crimea.

If this happens, says Shoigu, Russia will consider both the United States and Britain to have fully entered the war as co-belligerents. And Russia will immediately respond to any such attack on its territory by destroying “the decision making centers” of the Kiev regime.

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 6-19-2023]


The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

The New Global Financing Pact equals the old failed global financial arrangements

William Mitchell [Modern Monetary Theory, via Mike Norman Economics, June 21, 2023]

From tomorrow (June 22 to 23), the so-called world leaders are meeting in Paris for the – Summit for a New Global Financing Pact – which is being hosted by the French president. The aim, apparently, is to build a new global architecture to replace the Bretton Woods system (they left it a while!) to ‘address climate change, biodiversity crisis and development challenges’. The solution that is being proposed is to allow the financial markets to create debt and speculative derivative products to fund the new architecture because, apparently, governments do not have the financial capacity. The whole initiative is about replacing defunct financial architecture but it still proposes to rely on the same (defunct) approach to public infrastructure development and the like that has failed dramatically to reduce inequality and poverty.

A Return to Rentiership 

Luke Goldstein, June 20, 2023 [The American Prospect]

A new paper shows that rent-seeking by firms with dominant market positions has exploded since the 1980s.

Over the past month, the once-maligned “greedflation” theory has gained credence within mainstream circles, including with a profile in The New Yorker about one of its early proponents, UMass Amherst professor Isabella Weber. Though it goes by other names, such as “excuse-flation” or “choke-flation,” the theory posits that large corporations have used the recent inflationary period as opportunistic cover to drive up prices even higher.

Economists and pundits alike are just now lending it credibility, even though companies have been openly admitting to using “pricing power” on earnings calls for the past three years. A study from the Kansas City Fed found that upwards of 60 percent of inflation in 2021 could be accounted for by corporate profits.

Inflation profiteering, in this sense, could be seen as just the most recent outbreak in a contagion of rentiership that’s been growing across the economy, according to an emerging body of research. A recent paper from City, University of London maps how corporate concentration and financialization over recent decades have funneled a greater share of economic gains to a rentier class of investors and intellectual-property holders, who put a lead weight on the economy.

Transcript: Gretchen Morgenson: From Wall Street to Journalism (podcast)

Barry Ritholz [The Big Picture 6-20-2023]

RITHOLTZ: So we’re going to talk a lot more about the book, “These Are the Plunderers” But I have to mention the run of names that you really focus on in the book. These obviously aren’t all of private equity. There’s a whole lot, hundreds of other companies. But Apollo, Blackstone, Carlisle, and KKR really seem to be the key focus. Is it their size, their sector, the way they practice their business? What led you to those four?

MORGENSON: Well, it’s their size first, Barry. I mean these are the leaders of the pack. These are the folks and the firms that set the tone, lead the way. Other people mimic them. KKR was behind the big Kahuna deal of the late 1980s, RJR Nabisco.

So this is a group of firms and people that really were there at the creation of what we now call private equity. And they do it in such size and in such scope that they have enormous impact. And that’s why we’re focusing on them.

Yes, there are many, many private equity firms, but these really are the folks who set the tone.

The labor force is smaller than you think and that’s making the Fed very nervous

[Fortune, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 6-22-2023]

“The leading cause of the worker shortfall, according to research by the Fed, is a surge in retirements. In his recent speech, Powell noted that there are now about 3.5 million fewer people who either have a job or are looking for one compared with pre-pandemic trends. Of the 3.5 million, about 2 million consist of ‘excess’ retirements — an increase in retirements far more than would have been expected based on pre-existing trends. Roughly 400,000 other working-age people have died of COVID-19. And legal immigration has fallen by about 1 million.”

A restaurant must pay workers $140,000 after allegedly hiring a fake priest to extract confessions of workers’ ‘sins’  

[CNN, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 6-21-2023]

“The US Department of Labor said an employee testified that owner Che Garibaldi, who operates two locations of Taqueria Garibaldi in northern California, hired a fake priest to hear confessions during work hours and ‘get the sins out,’ including asking them if they had been late for work, stolen money from the restaurant or had ‘bad intentions’ toward their employer.”

Zombie Mortgages Could Force Some Homeowners Into Foreclosure

[Wall Street Journal, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 6-20-2023]

Homeowners say they are getting bills and foreclosure threats on second mortgages they thought were taken care of long ago.

A Slow-Moving Disaster — The Jackson Water Crisis and the Health Effects of Racism 

[New England Journal of Medicine, via Naked Capitalism 6-18-2023]

Predicting building ventilation performance in the era of an indoor air crisis (PDF)

[Building Simulation, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 6-23-2023]

“The COVID-19 pandemic clearly illustrated that there are enough poorly ventilated spaces in almost all countries and cities to sustain chains of infection. Given this reality, it was asked why such spaces’ ventilation was not improved immediately (Dancer et al. 2021). The answer is that achieving such improvements is highly challenging. First, there is a lack of ventilation performance data. Second, ventilation performance is not constant. Third, it is not the overall ventilation performance that matters, but ventilation rate per person at any time, and occupancy varies significantly, in both space and time. Therefore, a building must provide sufficient ventilation at its maximum occupancy. That is, its ventilation ability dictates its maximum occupancy; a higher number of occupants than the maximum should be avoided.

The power of prediction for determining the ventilation performance of buildings lies in the fact that a validated predictive tool can be applied at low cost to many buildings, provided adequate input data are available. Prediction is therefore an economic approach for assessing ventilation performance at a city or global scale, as it is cheaper to use a reliable predictive tool based on building, system, and climatic factors than to perform field measurements. Such a tool can be physics-based or driven by building ventilation system, envelope leakage, and weather data, supplemented by other monitored data, such as CO2 concentrations.” And: we call for national governments to consider mandating real-time indoor air quality monitoring in at least all public buildings, as people have a right to healthy air in the buildings they must use (Mølhave and Krzyzanowski 2000). We remain optimistic that future innovation will result in advances in economic monitoring and predictive tools for determining ventilation performance in the billions of indoor spaces worldwide.”


Health care crisis

The System Makes Patients Sick And CEOs Rich 

Wendell Potter, June 20, 2023 [The Lever]

Healthcare executives’ pay topped $335 million last year while 100 million Americans were saddled with medical debt.

The Obscure NIH Official Blocking Lower Drug Prices

Ananya Kalahasti, June 23, 2023 [The American Prospect]

While Astellas and Pfizer currently manufacture the drug, Xtandi was developed at the University of California, Los Angeles with funding from the U.S. Army and the NIH. UCLA licensed the Xtandi patent to Medivation in 2005, which then entered a collaboration agreement with Astellas in 2009 to jointly develop and commercialize the drug. In 2016, Pfizer acquired Medivation and took over the collaboration with Astellas on Xtandi. Pfizer valued interest in its newly bought drug license at $8.7 billion.

Astellas and Pfizer have since repeatedly hiked the price of Xtandi in the U.S. even as individuals in Canada, Denmark, and other high-income countries access the medication for a fraction of the U.S. price. Currently, Xtandi costs $130 per unit, or nearly $200,000 per year, in the U.S.; in other high-income countries, the drug goes for around $20 to $45 per unit.

There are nearly 250,000 prostate cancer diagnoses per year, but this prohibitive price point limits access to the treatment. In light of this barrier to access, four prostate cancer patients, joined by Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) and Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) filed a petition in 2021 urging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to utilize its authority to ease access to enzalutamide. HHS, under Secretary Xavier Becerra, referred the petition to the NIH.

March-in rights allow the U.S. government to grant patent licenses to groups other than the owner of the patent, if the patented technology was subsidized by federal funding, and if the drug is not being offered on “reasonable terms.”

The enzalutamide petition was endorsed by several groups and organizations, including a group of Harvard Medical School faculty, several United States representatives and senators, and multiple organizations advocating for lower prescription drug prices.

The Unfolding Medicaid Disaster

Andrew Perez and Nick Byron Campbell, June 21, 2023 [The Lever]

Now that Biden and Congress have ended pandemic protections, nearly a million have lost Medicaid coverage for procedural reasons so far — and many more will.

Climate and environmental crises
[Grist, Jund 21, 2023]
Millions sweat it out as heat indices reach 120 degrees and outages plague Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
[Nature, via Daily Kos 6-22-23]

[Good News Network, via Daily Kos 6-20-23]

Of South Korea’s countless kilograms of annual food scraps, very few will ever end up in a landfill. This is because of two reasons—the first is that it’s been illegal since 2005, and the second is because they have perhaps the world’s most sophisticated food waste disposal infrastructure. While representing a significant burden on the economy [around $600 million annually], the food waste disposal nevertheless produces ample supplies of animal feed, fertilizer, and biogas that heats thousands of homes. ✂️

[After being collected in special bins or in food waste disposal machines,] the food is sorted for any non-food waste that’s mixed in, drained of its moisture, and then dried and baked into a black dirt-like material that has a dirt-like smell but which is actually a protein and fiber-rich feed for monogastric animals like chickens or ducks.

This is just one of the ways in which the food scraps are processed. Another method uses giant anaerobic digestors, in which bacteria break down all the food while producing a mixture of CO2 and methane used to heat homes—3,000 in a Seoul suburb called Goyang, for example. All the water needed for this chemical process comes from the moisture separated from the food earlier. The remaining material is shipped as fertilizer to any farms that need it. All the water content is sent to purification facilities where it will eventually be discharged into water supplies or streams.

“Washington State could soon be key player in sustainable jet fuel industry”

[KIRO, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 6-21-2023]

“Imagine Making jet fuel out of the air, or using Hydrogen to fly a plane. It’s the future of aviation and Washington State could soon be a key player in the effort to make fuel sustainable. The whole topic is being discussed at the Paris Air Show where Boeing is working to secure contracts, and Governor Jay Inslee is working to secure business for the state. Inslee led a 100-member delegation to the show and tried to showcase Washington as a place for investment in the sustainable fuels sector. A company called ‘Twelve’ says it can make jet fuel out of abundant carbon dioxide. We know CO2 is in the atmosphere and frankly is a pollutant that some scientists believe is harming the environment.”


Creating new economic potential – science, technology and infrastructure

LA Metro Opens Downtown Regional Connector Subway

[StreetsBlogLA, via Daily Kos 6-20-23]

Earlier today, Metro opened its long-anticipated new Regional Connector subway project. The $1.8 billion 1.9-mile long project ties together three existing Metro rail lines, adding three new downtown stations. The new facility doesn’t look like much on a map, but it is making a big difference for Angelenos. Trips in and through Central L.A., trips that used to involve one or two transfers will be one-seat rides, with no transfers. This connectivity saves transit riders a great deal of time, by eliminating the wait time for connecting trains.

The three new stations in downtown L.A. are: Little Tokyo/Arts District​, Historic Broadway, and Grand Av Arts/Bunker Hill. Photos of these are below.

The newly connected light rail lines through downtown are:

  • The A Line now runs all the way from Long Beach to Azusa – 49.5 miles. According to Metro, it’s the longest light-rail line in the world, and it will be even longer when construction extending the terminus to Pomona finishes in a couple of years. (The A combined the former Blue Line and Foothill Gold Line.)
  • The E Line now run from Santa Monica to East Los Angeles – 22.5 miles. (The E combined the former Expo Line and Eastside Gold Line.)


Information age dystopia / surveillance state

Plagiarism Engine: Google’s Content-Swiping AI Could Break the Internet

[Tom’s Hardware, via The Big Picture 6-18-2023]

“Instead of highlighting links to content from expert humans, the “Search Generative Experience” (SGE) uses an AI plagiarism engine that grabs facts and snippets of text from a variety of sites, cobbles them together (often word-for-word) and passes off the work as its creation. If Google makes SGE the default mode for search, the company will seriously damage if not destroy the open web while providing a horrible user experience.”

Meta Says Its New Speech-Generating AI Model Is Too Dangerous For Public 

[The Verge, via Naked Capitalism 6-20-2023]

[Yves Smith comments: “A very tech connected reader (as in both skill and contact wise) says the reason for the AI scaremongering (which he points out is auto complete using huge matrices) is that Silicon Valley has worked out that there’s nothing protectable there, that anyone with enough computing power could do this…including on a small scale, like a law firm mining their past correspondence and articles and having AI generate client letters. So the hysteria is to get Congresscritters to pass legislation that will have the effect of creating barriers to entry or otherwise restrict use.]

How Your New Car Tracks You 

[Wired, via Naked Capitalism 6-22-2023]

The Elite War on Free Thought 

Matt Taibbi [via Naked Capitalism 6-24-2023]

But after looking at thousands of emails and Slack chats, I first started to get a headache, then became confused. I realized the old-school Enlightenment-era protections I grew up revering were designed to counter authoritarianism as people understood the concept hundreds of years ago, back in the days of tri-cornered hats and streets lined with horse manure.

What Michael and I were looking at was something new, an Internet-age approach to political control that uses brute digital force to alter reality itself. We certainly saw plenty of examples of censorship and de-platforming and government collaboration in those efforts. However, it’s clear that the idea behind the sweeping system of digital surveillance combined with thousands or even millions of subtle rewards and punishments built into the online experience, is to condition people to censor themselves.

In fact, after enough time online, users will lose both the knowledge and the vocabulary they would need to even have politically dangerous thoughts. What Michael calls the Censorship-Industrial Complex is really just the institutionalization of orthodoxy, a vast, organized effort to narrow our intellectual horizons….

Over and over we saw algorithms trying to electronically score a person’s good-or-ungoodness. We found a Twitter report that put both Wikileaks and Green Party candidate Jill Stein in a Twitter “denylist,” a blacklist that makes it harder for people to see or search for your posts. Stein was put on a denylist called is_Russian because an algorithm determined she had too many beliefs that coincided with banned people, especially Russian banned people.

We saw the same thing in reports from the State Department’s Global Engagement Center. They would identify certain accounts they claimed were Russian operatives, and then identify others as “highly connective” or “Russia-linked,” part of Russia’s “information ecosystem.” This is just a fancy way of saying “guilt by association.” The technique roped in everyone from a Canadian website called Global Research to former Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and former Italian Democratic Party Secretary Nicola Zingaretti.

If you apply these techniques fifty million, a hundred million, a billion times, or a billion billion times, people will soon learn to feel how certain accounts are deamplified, and others are not. They will self-sort and self-homogenize.


Collapse of independent news media

Udo Ulfkotte Exposed the CIA’s Role in Controlling Worldwide Media in his book “Journalists For Hire” and Should Be Celebrated Among the Great Whistleblowers of All-Time 

[Covert Action, via Naked Capitalism 6-20-2023]


Democrats’ political malpractice

Democrats fed up with Tuberville want to change Senate rules 

[The Hill, via Naked Capitalism 6-21-2023]

Senate Democrats say they’re ready to take another look at rules reform to break through the blockade Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) has put in place against more than 200 military promotions to protest the Pentagon’s abortion policy.

Other Republican senators are jumping into the contentious battle over President Biden’s nominees, further fueling Democrats’ frustration….

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has indicated his preference is for Senate Republicans to figure out among themselves how to persuade Tuberville to back off his blanket hold on military promotions.

Speaking on the Senate floor last month, Schumer cited a letter from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin detailing how Tuberville’s hold poses a “clear risk” to military readiness and directly impacts military families.

Austin’s letter highlighted that the Senate would be required to act on hundreds of promotions over the next several months, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, chief of staff of the Army, chief of staff of naval operations, and commandant of the Marine Corps.

The Death of ‘Deliverism’

[Democracy, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 6-23-2023]

“Deepak had worked on various efforts to secure expanded income support for a long time—and was part of a successful push over two decades earlier to increase the child tax credit, a rare win under the George W. Bush presidency. His students were mostly working-class adults of color with full-time jobs, and many were parents. Knowing that the newly expanded child tax credit would be particularly helpful to his students, he entered the class elated. The money had started to hit people’s bank accounts, and he was eager to hear about how the extra income would improve their lives. He asked how many of them had received the check. More than half raised their hands. Then he asked those students whether they were happy about it. Not one hand went up. Baffled, Deepak asked why. One student gave voice to the vibe, asking, “What’s the catch?” As the class unfolded, students shared that they had not experienced government as a benevolent force. They assumed that the money would be recaptured later with penalties. It was, surely, a trap. And of course, in light of centuries of exploitation and deceit—in criminal justice, housing, and safety net systems—working-class people of color are not wrong to mistrust government bureaucracies and institutions. The real passion in the class that night, and many nights, was about crime and what it was like to take the subway at night after class. These students were overwhelmingly progressive on economic and social issues, but many of their everyday concerns were spoken to by the right, not the left.”

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 6-23-2023]



Daniel Boguslaw, June 16 2023 [The Intercept]

This week on Deconstructed, Daniel Boguslaw, politics reporter at The Intercept, interviews Manchin’s former political operative and right-hand man, Scott Sears, about the senator’s career and political ambitions. Sears helped Manchin secure political wins across the state before switching parties and throwing it all in for Donald Trump.


(anti)Republican Party

Texas overrides local jurisdiction’s rules on water breaks for construction workers

Pakalolo, June 18, 2023 [DailyKos]

Texas has the most deaths for outside workers nationwide; 96 died last year alone in the Lone Star State. In response, Governor Abbot signed legislation overturning local ordinances requiring water breaks for construction workers during extreme and deadly heat days….

From the Texas Tribune:

In a week when parts of the state are getting triple-digit temperatures and weather officials urge Texans to stay cool and hydrated, Gov. Greg Abbott gave final approval to a law that will eliminate local rules mandating water breaks for construction workers.

House Bill 2127 was passed by the Texas Legislature during this year’s regular legislative session. Abbott signed it Tuesday. It will go into effect on Sept. 1.

Supporters of the law have said it will eliminate a patchwork of local ordinances across the state that bog down businesses. The law’s scope is broad but ordinances that establish minimum breaks in the workplace are one of the explicit targets. The law will nullify ordinances enacted by Austin in 2010 and Dallas in 2015 that established 10-minute breaks every four hours so that construction workers can drink water and protect themselves from the sun. It also prevents other cities from passing such rules in the future. San Antonio has been considering a similar ordinance.

Easy to read death rates for Florida, Texas, California and New York

pecanjim, June 19, 2023 [DailyKos]


[TW: Reminded me of Stirling Newberry’s post on December 20, 2008, The Cost of Conservatism, in Trillions.]


A Neocon Monster: The Ruinous Lies & Crimes of Bill Kristol, Now a Major Foreign Policy Thought-Leader in the Democratic Party 

Glenn Greenwald [via Naked Capitalism 6-21-2023]

One of the most extraordinary, alarming and baffling developments to witness in American politics is the complete rehabilitation of neoconservatives. Most Americans who know this term first learned of it in 2002 during the run-up to the American and British invasion of Iraq. The neocons were the most vocal and vehement advocates, not just of the invasion of Iraq, but more importantly, of the warmongering framework undergirding that attack….

The neocons went a bit underground after the Bush administration, but they never really went away and, in 2013 and 2014, they began to detect a shifting political reality: anti-war sentiment was growing in the Republican Party – as it was before 9/11 – as evidenced by Ron Paul’s campaigns or George Bush’s 2008 presidential campaign plank that the U.S. needed to have a more humble foreign policy. At the same time, Democrats were becoming increasingly enchanted with the promises, power and profit that war provides. In 2013, and 2014, neocons became especially enamored of Hillary Clinton. And though the narrative we’re fed now claims that neocons only migrated back to the Democratic Party as a reaction to Trump – as the neocons are such honorable patriots and devotees of democracy that they simply could not abide Trump’s anti-democratic impulses – the reality, as is easily demonstrated, and as we will show you, is the neocons who began maneuvering, reattached themselves to the Democratic Party long before Trump emerged, and they were especially excited by the prospect of a presidency led by Hillary Clinton, whose criticisms of Barack Obama was that – despite bombing eight different Muslim-majority countries – Obama was insufficiently aggressive, bellicose and militaristic….

Bulwark: Four Tests for America

The Big Picture 6-19-2023]

Jonathan V. Last is the editor of The Bulwark, and previously was senior writer and digital editor at The Weekly Standard and GOP thought leader; he has become known as one of the founding intellectual authors of the Republican “Never Trump” philosophy….

Donald Trump’s authoritarian attempt has presented four tests to American democracy.

The first test was for the institution of the Republican party. The GOP failed this test….

The second test Trump presented was to the general public. Demagogues often come to power via the popular will. Trump did not. The majority of Americans voted against him in 2016. When the Electoral College allowed his minority rule, an even greater majority came out to remove him from office in 2020. The majority of Americans passed Trump’s test.

The third test was for the rule of law. Would the structures of the American legal system be sturdy enough to hold Trump’s crimes to account? Would the potential downstream effects—of protests, political upheaval, electoral consequences—prevent the rule of law from being applied to Trump? This test came in multiple parts, but as of last night, we have a fairly definitive answer: The rule of law held….

The final test Trump has posed is to Republican voters…. Another failed test.

[TW: Trump is also a test of the news media, and whether it can abandon “both siderism.”]

Trump’s post-indictment speech was a master class in alternative facts and false victim narratives

[Vox, via The Big Picture 6-18-2023]

Though it seemed like his camp was initially reticent to address the specifics of the indictment, Trump went into a detailed defense before a crowd at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club. He presented alternate histories, legal disinformation, and false claims of political victimization to craft a narrative that he seemed to believe his followers will accept as fact. Overall, the speech previewed a strategy to neutralize the impact of a case that could stretch well into the 2024 election and beyond.

How much did Congress lose by defunding the IRS? Way more than we thought

[Washington Post, via The Big Picture 6-23-2023]

Unfortunately, it’s likely to have the opposite effect. Every dollar available for auditing taxpayers generates many times that amount for government coffers — and the rate of return is especially astonishing for audits of the wealthiest Americans, according to new research.

Most GOP Elected Officials Don’t Care That The Public Opposes Their Draconian Abortion Restrictions: They’re Hanging Swing District Republicans Out To Dry

Howie Klein, June 24, 2023 [downwithtyranny]


Judith Levine, June 24 2023 [The Intercept]

…As the surrogate for his boss, the fiercely anti-abortion Indiana state Attorney General Todd Rokita, Voight wanted to tear the defendant down emotionally and in the eyes of the public. Asking a woman in a professional hearing about a mark on her body — using the word “body” — was part of a larger strategy, one long deployed by anti-abortion forces against abortion-seekers. Now they’re using it against providers and advocates as well. The strategy is humiliation….

AS BOTH THE method and the goal of misogynists, racists, abusers, tyrants, torturers, and the systems that uphold their power, humiliation can be its own reward. But it is not merely a social tool, and it does not act alone. Humiliation, along with shame and fear, are produced by and in turn fortify the laws that intrude on intimate life, control bodies, and punish those who resist. Together, restrictive laws and destructive emotions create the disciplinary environment that the right’s culture warriors have prayed and labored toward for decades.

When We Are Afraid

[Longreads, via The Big Picture 6-18-2023]

On teaching in a red state, the silences in our history lessons, and all I never learned about my hometown.

Trump Slithered Into The White House Because Of So-Called “Small Town Values”

Howie Klein, June 21, 2023 [downwithtyranny]


The (anti)Federalist Society Infestation of the Courts

How Nine Months Of Dobbs Changed America

[FiveThirtyEight, via The Big Picture 6-21-2023]

Texans making 4,000-mile round-trip journeys for abortions. Weeks-long waits for appointments at clinics across the Midwest. Desperate calls to abortion funds asking for help with procedure costs, flights and gas. One year after last summer’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, this is the new reality of abortion in the U.S., as thousands of people are unable to obtain abortions in their home states or nearby — and tens of thousands more travel farther and farther to end their pregnancies.

Justice Samuel Alito Took Luxury Fishing Vacation With GOP Billionaire Who Later Had Cases Before the Court 

[Pro Publica, via Naked Capitalism 6-21-2023]

Singer was more than a fellow angler. He flew Alito to Alaska on a private jet. If the justice chartered the plane himself, the cost could have exceeded $100,000 one way.

In the years that followed, Singer’s hedge fund came before the court at least 10 times in cases where his role was often covered by the legal press and mainstream media. In 2014, the court agreed to resolve a key issue in a decade-long battle between Singer’s hedge fund and the nation of Argentina. Alito did not recuse himself from the case and voted with the 7-1 majority in Singer’s favor. The hedge fund was ultimately paid $2.4 billion.

Alito Could Deliver Another Ruling For Billionaire Benefactor

David Sirota and Julia Rock, June 23, 2023 [The Lever]

The hedge fund of Justice Samuel Alito’s billionaire benefactor has been using a recent Alito-backed Supreme Court ruling to try to pressure federal regulators to back off new financial rules designed to fight fraud, according to documents reviewed by The Lever.

The hedge fund, Elliott Management, has been arguing that the rules are unconstitutional, and could ultimately try to bring a case before Alito to strike down the new regulations if they are enacted. The high court is currently considering a petition to hear a separate case involving the same firm….

Elliott’s efforts to weaponize a recent Supreme Court case to block anti-fraud rules — and to potentially use the high court to kill them — spotlights how judges are in key positions to help billionaires who provide them with gifts and other largesse.

[TW: Zephyr Teachout has detailed how corruption was legitimated as USA shifted from civic republicanism to liberalism: ]

The Triumph of Corruption

Jedediah Britton-Purdy  [Dissent, Winter 2015]

Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United
by Zephyr Teachout
Harvard University Press, 2014, 384 pp.

It is a bleak irony that the Supreme Court’s narrow definition of corruption has swelled a great wave of political spending, which the justices define as ordinary democratic politics, and which many ordinary citizens would call corruption. After all, many of us find it obvious that a system awash in “dark money” and the empires of patrons like Sheldon Adelson, Tom Steyer and a handful of other magnates is thoroughly corrupt, whatever five of the nine justices of the Supreme Court call it.

This more ordinary sense of corruption has deep historical roots. Teachout dug into the records of constitutional debates and found that the framers thought of corruption in a way that is very different from today’s Supreme Court, and much closer to the angry opponents of Citizens United. The founders’ conception of corruption may support the common perception that our politics, influenced as it is by organized capital, is corrupt.

Eighteenth-century republicans were obsessed with an idea of corruption that was not at all restricted to bribery. For them, a politician or official became corrupt when he was inappropriately dependent on some patron or superior and put that person’s interests before the public interest. What made you corrupt was that you came to power, or stayed there, on someone else’s say-so, which meant your judgment was always susceptible to your patron’s priorities.

This concern had its ideological and political roots in English politics: Whigs abhorred the corrupting influence of royal patronage, and reformers denounced the “rotten boroughs” from which a few hundred villagers, generally in the pocket of some local grandee, could send the grandee’s favorite off to Parliament. This old idea of corruption also reflects a republican vision of the political citizen, one dedicated to the commonwealth over private advantage. To prevent this kind of corruption, Teachout shows, the Constitution’s framers ensured that Congressional districts would be updated regularly and prohibited Congressmen from serving simultaneously in other paid jobs—such as plum positions that the president might hand out. In these and other respects, the Constitution is an anti-corruption document. One of the framers’ goals, therefore, was not merely to protect free speech but also to ensure the freedom of politics from the corruption of private interests.

The kind of corruption that the Constitution was written to prevent, then, is not bribery, as recent Supreme Court rulings have narrowly construed it. It is structural corruption: dependence that emerges from the way the system brings people to power and keeps them there….

The Student Loan Case’s Unwilling Participant 

David Dayen, June 19, 2023 [The American Prospect]

MOHELA, the loan servicer that is the basis for standing in the Supreme Court case against student debt cancellation, didn’t want to be associated with it at all, according to newly released documents….

The documents are internal emails from the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA), a student loan servicer that conducts day-to-day operations on federal student loans. Its role in the student debt case is central: The state of Missouri, one of the plaintiffs, is claiming that MOHELA will lose revenue as a result of debt cancellation, and therefore would be unable to repay money into a Missouri state fund that funds in-state schools.

That claim has been called into question. In Supreme Court oral arguments, it was revealed that MOHELA hasn’t made a contribution to that fund in 15 years; MOHELA has also said in its own financial documents that it doesn’t plan to make any payments in the future. Furthermore, an analysis from the Roosevelt Institute and the Debt Collective shows that MOHELA stands to gain revenue if debt cancellation goes forward, because it received additional servicing rights and its liability on certain accounts would be extinguished.

Nevertheless, the MOHELA situation has been the only successful standing argument that the coalition of six states suing the Biden administration over student debt cancellation has put forward. Standing is central to jurisprudence; a plaintiff has to show harm in order to make a case. The six states have come up empty in all federal courts on standing except with respect to the dubious notion of MOHELA losing revenue.



As the nation celebrates Juneteenth, it’s time to get rid of these three myths about slavery

[CNN, via The Big Picture 6-19-2023]

Myth No. 3: Enslaved Africans were brainwashed by a White man’s ‘pie-in-the sky’ Christianity

In the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, there is a special exhibit of an artifact that is so rare that there are only a handful now in existence. It is what historians call a “Slave Bible.” It is a copy of a Bible that was used by British missionaries to convert enslaved African Americans. Published in 1807, the Bible deletes any passages that may inspire liberation – about 90% of the Old Testament is missing along with half of the New Testament.

“They literally blacked out, portions of the Bible that had anything to do with freedom, anything to do with equality, anything to do with God delivering folk,” says Leon Harris, a theology professor at Biola University in California.

There is misconception that Christianity was successfully used to create docile slaves who were conditioned to heed New Testament passages such as “slaves obey your earthly masters.” Malcolm X derided Christianity as a White man’s religion used to brainwash Black people to “shout and sing and pray until we die ‘for some dreamy heaven-in-the-hereafter’” while the White man “has his milk and honey in the streets paved with golden dollars right here on this earth!”

But historians like Harris say most slaves disdained the type of Christianity that was taught to them. Many instead discovered those missing passages in the Slave Bible, such as the Old Testament stories of God freeing the Israelites from Egyptian captivity. It’s no accident that many Black leaders who have led freedom struggles, from Nat Turner to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., were Christian ministers.



Prigozhin Launches A Coup Effort (And It’s Over)


What’s The Good Future Look Like In Environmental Collapse?


  1. StewartM

    Wouldn’t a higher minimum wage increase wages across the scale (well, until you hit like the 80-90th percentile or so, in which case they might actually decrease them)?

    Isn’t that the very reason why big corporations who pay well above the minimum wage against it., as they realize that this will require them to also pay more?

    A higher minimum wage–if accompanied by real anti-trust and other actions to promote actually market competition on prices–is a key part of any strategy to promote income and wealth equality.

  2. StewartM

    More on “deliverism”—wouldn’t the students’ reaction be more the result of the relentless right-wing propaganda they get (even if they’re not regular Fox viewers, mainstream media also repeats it) than a neutral response to the policy?

    Also there’s just selfishness, the result of 40-plus years of Ayn Rand individualism and the trashing of any notion of ‘common good’, being parroted and propagandized. Polls showed the child tax credit of 2021 wasn’t as popular as expected because, well, childless people weren’t getting anything. Even though you’d think that yeah, as children are the future of the nation that anything that helps children will also help everyone else, including yourself.

  3. Swamp Yankee

    I knew Oren Cass pretty well as an undergrad. I used to spar with him in our college paper. What strikes me then and know was how utterly full of shit Cass is. He believes none of this. The tell is that he doesn’t mention corruption or inequality or the corrosion of democracy is because he doesn’t really care about these things, despite the Christian Democracy-type gesturing he makes of late.

    He is on the side of the big battalions, yes, but being utterly full of shit and having utterly different private vs. public views is one of my enduring impressions of Cass.

    To whit: we were chatting once in the course of our work on a student publication. I noted that he was reading _Othello_, and he replied that it was for the class our English Dept. ran on Shakespeare. I remarked how beautiful the language is in _Othello_, but he cut me off pretty quickly, almost with exasperation, explaining that he was only taking the class so he could use Shakespeare in the course of rubbing elbows with elites in the future — the self-same elites he’s denouncing after going to work for Bain post undergrad.

    Fast forward about 9 months. Cass writes a paint-by-numbers 2000s conservative undergrad screed about how the College had too many classes about class, gender, race, social movements, etc., and was neglecting the classics.

    Ahem. This is the guy who really doesn’t actually like Shakespeare (wtf?), but finds him useful for personal ambitions and therefore takes the class on him, now having the temerity to complain that we aren’t focusing on the beauty of the classical canon!

    So I humiliated him in print, pointing to the fact that one could take classes touching on Western Painting, Dante, WWI, WWII, The American Revolution, SHAKESPEARE, Western Architecture and Sculpture, The Bible, etc.

    I defeated his candidate for a class-wide office, by a landslide margin, and boy, was he unhappy about that!

    An utter charlatan and transparent fraud.

  4. StewartM

    Swamp Yankee,

    This reminds me of other rightwing students I have known in both high school and college. Knowledge to them is only useful as a means to power and privilege and wealth, never for enlightenment and never for its own sake.

  5. Dayen and Stoller’s reply to “Death…” in The Prospect;

    How too-too on the nose that someone would ‘prove’ that voters don’t care about their economic conditions, written for the exact same faction elected on “It’s the economy stupid”.

    First it was ‘helping people, but better, using markets and tough love’. Then it was ‘winning elections by appealing to middle-class voters.’ I guess ‘people don’t actually care if they are suffering,’ still beats; “because rich people pay better.”

    Just a guess; the only reason the ‘Death paper was written, is because the author with the street cred was ready to sell out, and this is what they could get him to sign on to.
    I wonder what his particular payoff was, for putting his name on this. Was it just; “fuck it, one article won’t make a difference, and I need money, bad?”

    How precious that the idea that serving the interests of the people who elected you needs to be dressed up in a special, justifying ideology in order for it to be cool enough to be talked about.

    Possibly, there is an organized, rich-people funded effort to attack the idea that delivering on economics wins elections, head-on.

    As the stakes of the chicken-game that the Democratic Party has been playing with its voters gets higher and higher, some officials need reassurance, that they are being smart by spitting in their voters faces, and daring them to do anything about it.

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