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

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – March 17, 2024

by Tony Wikrent

Strategic Political Economy

 “‘If something requires us to cease production, we will do that:’ FAA

[Leeham News & Analysis, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 03-13-2024]

“The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is considering whether to suspend the Production Certificate of Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) if it’s not satisfied changes to its safety culture are sufficient, LNA has learned. It’s the “nuclear option” LNA has written about on previous occasions following the Jan. 5 in-flight accident/explosive decompression of a Boeing 737-9 MAX operated by Alaska Airlines. Already under heightened scrutiny by the FAA, Boeing took yet another in a series of safety blows when a special panel of experts appointed by the FAA to independently review Boeing’s safety culture issued a scathing report on Feb. 26.” Lambert Strether: “See Water Cooler here; document is now readable.] More: “The FAA levied fines—and suspended some of them—for previous safety violations 36 times, according to a tracking website. And despite pledges and actions taken to improve safety following the 2018-2019 MAX crisis, Boeing still has fallen short.” FAA’s leverage: “So, what’s the ultimate hammer the FAA has? It’s suspending the PC 700 certificate, and this is under consideration, LNA is told…. Boeing holds what’s known as a Production Certificate, named PC 700. This allows Boeing Commercial Airplanes to produce commercial airlines and military aircraft that are based on airliners…. If the FAA imposed a full suspension of PC 700, all 7-Series airliners would be affected. So would the commercially-based P-8 and KC-46A. Deliveries of the inventoried aircraft likely would be suspended. The FAA could choose to segregate the PC 700 more narrowly.” And: “It’s an election year. There is bipartisan Congressional criticism of Boeing, including from Congressional members from Washington State where the 737, 767, KC-46A, P-8A, and 777 are built. Despite the bipartisan nature, if the FAA suspended the PC 700 authority, the damage to Boeing and the affected supply chains would undoubtedly be subject to criticisms of President Joe Biden by Republicans.”

Airplanes and engineering: The way we were

[Star-Tribune, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 03-12-2024]

When it changed: “Working for Honeywell in Minneapolis, I was involved in product developments for several Boeing aircraft: new platforms B-757, B-767, B-777 and B-787, and revisions on older designs, including the B-737. Each of these developments involved an intimate relationship between Boeing and Honeywell across multiple levels of organization. At the heart of the work were the customers’ requirements. Meeting these drove daily decisions in the project planning…. One afternoon, we started calling our contacts in Boeing Engineering. Engineering had prioritized the bidders and assured us Honeywell was their first choice. However, they would not confirm that Boeing management had signed off on the selection. We still believed we would win the program. In the past, Boeing always selected the highest technical bidder then renegotiated the price as the program phased into volume production. It was the best process to meet Boeing’s and the passengers’ quality demands… we were notified we were not selected for the program. Through several discussions with the Boeing engineering managers, we later found out that Boeing’s procurement process had changed. Boeing supply management downgraded the engineering assessment from prioritized capability to either meeting or not meeting the requirements. Then, procurement would select the lowest bidder from this pool of suppliers meeting the requirements. Engineering was no longer needed to sign off on the selection. (We heard that Boeing engineers wore a black armband for a month protesting the selection for this program.) The selection process could now be done in a spreadsheet with no account for the uncertainty that engineering often expected and hoped to have some insurance against. This would become a fundamental change in the aircraft industry.”

Who bears the risk? 

[aeon, via Naked Capitalism 03-12-2024] Important.

Under the guise of empowerment and freedom, politicians and business are offloading lifethreatening risk to individuals….

In Individualism and Economic Order (1948), F A Hayek wrote: ‘if the individual is to be free to choose, it is inevitable that he should bear the risk attaching to that choice,’ further noting that ‘the preservation of individual freedom is incompatible with a full satisfaction of our views of distributive justice.’ Over the past several decades, Hayek’s position has gone mainstream but also become somewhat emaciated, such that individual freedom substantively means consumer choice – the presumed sanctity of which must be preserved across all sectors. But devolved responsibility favours those with more capacity to evaluate and make decisions about complex phenomena – those of us, for instance, with high levels of education and social access to doctors and investment managers to call for advice. And indeed, it’s striking that the embrace of responsibilisation as a form of individual ‘empowerment’ has accompanied the deepening of inequality in Western democracies.….


Whether you find (like Thaler and Sunstein) that humans are poor decision-makers who need to be nudged toward virtue, or affirm (like Gigerenzer) that better public numeracy can improve our risk calculations, an antisocial logic clings to the actuarial self. Security becomes an individual privilege procured through the marketplace rather than a public right achieved at the social level. When it comes to personal safety, people of means are encouraged to manage risk by engaging in various kinds of social insulation (what I have called security hoarding), while those without are largely transformed into the ‘risks’ themselves. The uptick in vigilante acts and paranoid shootings in the US for ringing the wrong doorbell is a symptom of this antisocial logic taken to its natural, bloody end. The privatisation of security and violence are also forms of responsibilisation – ones where we can clearly see the costs associated with this form of ‘freedom’.

The good news is that there are wonderful alternatives to the hyper-individualised world of the actuarial self: apprehensions of security that think at the level of communities, neighbourhoods and towns or cities or nations. In a world facing rising temperatures, pandemics and a globalised financial system, many have come to recognise the highly individualised approach to risk as a relic of an irresponsible and iniquitous era. Building more capacious forms of security and networks of care will require looking beyond the actuarial self and the fundamentally conservative political agenda it serves.

‘Working-Class People Aren’t Lazy, They’re Fed Up,’ UAW Leader Tells Senate 

Jessica Corbett, March 15, 2024

Shawn Fain slammed “the Wall Street freeloaders, the masters of passive income,” for “how little they contribute to humanity.”….

Fain [testified] during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on a 32-hour workweek. “And I know what people and many in this room will say. They’ll say, ‘People just don’t want to work,’ or, ‘Working-class people are lazy.'”

“But the truth is, working-class people aren’t lazy, they’re fed up. They’re fed up with being left behind and stripped of dignity as wealth inequality in this nation, this world, spirals out of control,” he continued. “They’re fed up that in America… three families have as much wealth as the bottom 50% of citizens in this nation. That is criminal. America is better than this.”

“So, I want to close with this: I agree there is an epidemic in this country of people who don’t want to work; people who can’t be bothered to get up every day and contribute to our society, but instead want to freeload off the labor of others,” Fain added. “But those aren’t blue-collar people; those aren’t the working-class people. It’s a group of people who are never talked about for how little they actually work and produce, and how little they contribute to humanity. The people I’m talking about are the Wall Street freeloaders, the masters of passive income.”

Elon Musk Leads America’s Top Tax-Dodging CEOs

Jason Linkins, March 16, 2024 [The New Republic]

A new study reveals a staggering number of companies pay their CEOs more than they pay in taxes….

…For a report released Wednesday, the Institute for Policy Studies teamed up with Americans for Tax Fairness to spelunk into the balance sheets at some of America’s best-known tax scofflaws between 2018 and 2022. What they found was pretty consistent: The firms took home high profits and lavished their top executives with exorbitant pay, all while stiffing Uncle Sam.

The excess is stunning. “For over half (35) of these corporations,” the study reports, “their payouts to top corporate brass over that entire span exceeded their net tax payments.” An additional 29 firms managed this feat for “at least two of the five years in the study period.” Eighteen firms paid a grand total of zero dollars during that five-year span, 17 of which were given tax refunds. All in all, the 64 companies in the report “posted cumulative pre-tax domestic profits of $657 billion” during the study period, but “paid an average effective federal tax rate of just 2.8 percent (the statutory rate is 21 percent) while paying their executives over $15 billion.”

Which firms are the worst of the worst? You can probably guess the company that tops the list because it’s the one run by The New Republic’s 2023 Scoundrel of the Year. During the five years of the study, Tesla took home $4.4 billion in profits as CEO Elon Musk carted off $2.28 billion in stock options, which, since his 2018 payday, have ballooned to nearly $56 billion—a compensation plan so outlandish that the Delaware Court of Chancery canceled it. Tesla has, during that same period of time, paid an effective tax rate of zero percent through a combination of carrying forward losses from unprofitable years and good old-fashioned offshore tax dodging.

It’s hard to match Tesla in terms of its rapaciousness, but the other nine firms on the IPS’s “Terrible Ten” include some household names: T-Mobile, Netflix, Ford Motor Company, Metlife, and Darden Restaurants (owners of Olive Garden); a trio of energy companies (Nextera, Duke Energy, First Energy); and the shining star of the 2008 financial crisis, bailout baby AIG….

What sort of innovations have these CEOs wrought from this well-remunerated period? T-Mobile’s Mike Sievert presided over the Sprint merger that led to $23.6 million in stock buybacks and 5,000 layoffs. Netflix’s Reed Hastings poured $15 billion in profit into jacking up subscription rates. Nextera Energy has devoted $10 million in dark money in a “ghost candidate scheme” to thwart climate change candidates. Darden Restaurants has been fighting efforts to raise the minimum wage. Metlife has been diverting government money meant to fund low-cost housing into other, unrelated buckraking ventures. And some First Energy executives from the study period are embroiled in a corruption scandal that’s so massive that even Musk might find it to be beyond the pale.


Power in the shadows

Gladio Role in Aldo Moro Murder Confirmed

Kit Klarenberg, March 12, 2024 [Active Measures]

On March 4th, leading Italian daily La Repubblica published an astonishing interview with Roberto Jucci, veteran “general of top secret missions”, who over his lengthy career worked at the highest echelons of Rome’s security and intelligence apparatus, while enjoying an intensive “relationship of trust” with many of the country’s most powerful political figures and government agencies. Along the way, he exposed how US “centers of power”, in conjunction with notorious Masonic Lodge P2 (Proganda Due), were responsible for the murder of left-leaning statesman Aldo Moro….


Global power shift

China Outpacing U.S. Defense Industrial Base 

[Center for Strategic and International Studies, via Naked Capitalism 03-14-2024]

Global South Repositioning: A few notes from Tunis

Fadhel Kaboub, March 13, 2024 [via Mike Norman Economics

I explained why the Global South must decolonize the global economic architecture and I presented the main arguments from the Just Transition report (available in English & French) that we publish last May (published by The Independent Group of Experts on Just Transition & Development), and most importantly I discussed the role of Global South diplomacy in crafting a major geopolitical bargaining chip in this particular moment of geopolitical repositioning….

And last but not least, I presented “The Colonial Roots of Climate Injustice in Africa: A United Front for Strategic Repositioning of the Global South,” at CEMAT, which was followed by a lively discussion moderated by my colleague Max Ajl. However, the main reason for the entire visit to Tunis this week was to record an interview for Habib Ayeb’s upcoming documentary about climate change titled Waiting for the Rain, which we did on Saturday afternoon at the CMAT library. I can’t wait to see the full documentary, but I must also urge all of you to watch his brilliant documentary on food sovereignty: Seeds of Dignity (subtitled in English).

Haiti crisis boils over, forcing pivot in US policy 

[The Hill, via Naked Capitalism 03-14-2024]

How did Ecuador go from an “island of peace” to a “failed state”? 

[Nachdenkseiten, via Naked Capitalism 03-12-2024]


Gaza / Palestine / Israel

Biden’s Options

Josh Marshall, March 13, 2024 [Talking Points Memo]

There’s a good article in Haaretz today about the limits of U.S. sway over Israel with any kind of cut-off in U.S. weapons supplies….

The other point is one that I think has bulked much larger in U.S. decision-making than some suspect. The U.S. wants Israel to wind down its operations in Gaza. But it doesn’t want a war between Israel and Hezbollah in the north. Specifically, it doesn’t want to restrict the sale of weapons Israel would need in such a war. If Israel is seen as vulnerable on that front it could spur Hezbollah to initiate a war it has so far clearly wanted to avoid. Similarly if Israel believed it would face slowly dwindling stockpiles of critical munitions and thus grow weaker over time, that might spur Israel to strike preemptively while it still feels it is strong. In a way it’s the same difference: The central goal of U.S. policy from the start of this war has been to prevent a larger regional conflict. And a cut off or restriction of U.S. weapons supplies to Israel aimed at Gaza would be deeply destabilizing to the largely frozen conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

Late Update: Here’s a good Times of Israel piece about whether there’s a “red line” from the U.S. about an Israeli attack on Rafah….

Schumer on Netanyahu in Context

Josh Marshall, March 14, 2024 [Talking Points Memo]

There was really quite a stunning development in the Senate this afternoon. Schumer went to the floor to call for new elections in Israel, calling Netanyahu “an obstacle to peace” and going on to say he is pursuing “dangerous and inflammatory policies that test existing standards for assistance.” If Netanyahu remains in power after the war, the US should “play a more active role in shaping Israeli policy by using our leverage to change the present course.”….

That said, those managing the shift on the US side certainly won’t forget Netanyahu’s undisguised and brazen alliance with the GOP, meddling in the politics of what is, after all, the Great Power in the relationship.…

Schumer is clearly running interference for Joe Biden and the policy shift he is trying to achieve. It is one clearly informed by the domestic situation in the United States. But it would be a basic error to reduce it to only that… The White House has been signaling this pivot for weeks. Biden is a strong supporter of Israel going back literally half a century, though not of Netanyahu. He has also gone to great lengths, to his obvious political peril, to back Israel in recent months. But he’s still not Chuck Schumer. Schumer is Jewish and as the senior senator from New York comes from the cradle of American Jewry, New York City. Even today, with Jews decamped throughout the United States, New York City has the largest Jewish population of any city in the world, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem….

‘Out of Touch With Reality’ – White House Fails to Navigate the Israeli Re-calibration 

Alastair Crooke [Strategic Culture Watch, via Naked Capitalism 03-12-2024]

…The problem however, is the converse: It is that U.S. policy is deeply flawed, and wholly incongruent with majority public sentiment in Israel. Many Israelis feel they are fighting an existential struggle, and must not become ‘just fodder’ (as they see it) to a U.S. Democratic electoral strategy.

The reality is that Israel is rupturing with Team Biden – not the converse.

Biden’s key plan which rests on a revitalised Palestinian security apparatus is described – even in the Washington Post – as ‘improbable’. The U.S. tried a PA security ‘revitalising’ initiative under U.S. General Zinni in 2002 and Dayton in 2010. It did not work – and for good reason: Palestinian Authority security forces are simply viewed by most Palestinians as the hated stooges enforcing continued Israeli occupation. They work to Israeli security interests, not Palestinian security interests.

The other main components to U.S. policy is an even more improbable ‘de-radicalised’ and anaemic ‘two-state solution’, buried within a regional concert of conservative Arab States acting as its security overseer. This policy approach reflects a White House out of kilter with today’s more eschatological Israel, and one failing to move on from perspectives and policies hailing from decades past which, even then, were failures.

The White House therefore has resorted to an old trick: To project all of its own policy failings onto a foreign leader for not making the ‘unworkable’ work, and to try to replace that leader with someone more compliant.…

…U.S. administration officials heard from Gantz the very same policy agenda that Netanyahu has repeated to them in recent months: Gantz also warned that trying to ‘play him off’ against Netanyahu was pointless: He might very much wish to replace Netanyahu as prime minister at some point, but his policies wouldn’t be substantively different from those of the present government, he explained….

Team Biden urgently needs to reassess its approach, starting from the understanding that it is Israel that is rupturing from the stale, ill-judged U.S. consensus. Most Israelis agree with Netanyahu, who said again yesterday that “the war is existential and must be won”.

How is it that Israel can contemplate severing from the U.S.? Possibly because Netanyahu understands that the ‘power structure’ in the U.S. – as in Europe – that controls much, if not most of the money shaping U.S. politics, and particularly the stance of Congress, is heavily dependent on the Israeli ‘cause existing, and continuing to exist, and it is not therefore the case that Israel is wholly dependent on the U.S. power structures and its ‘good will’ (as Biden pre-supposes).

The ‘cause of Israel’ both gives domestic U.S. structures their political meaning, their agenda and their legitimacy. A ‘No Israel’ outcome would pull the carpet from under them, and would leave U.S. Jews experiencing existential insecurity.

[TW: Crooke may be correct — and I suspect he is — but left unanswered is what to do about the Palestinians. If saving Israelis from “existential insecurity,” involves the genocide of the Palestinian people, that is clearly unacceptable. Can the world community come up with enough hundreds of billions of dollars to convince Egypt to give a part of Sinai to the creation of a Palestinian state? And if Israelis are, as Cooke implies, nearly united in their opposition to a two-state solution, then perhaps it’s time to contemplate extending the U.S. nuclear umbrella to include Israel, thus guaranteeing Israel’s survival with the threat of the ultimate weapons. It might be the only way to get the Israelis to stop thinking of an independent Palestinian state as an existential threat.]

‘That’s the Law’: Senators Say Biden Must End Arms Sales If Israel Keeps Blocking Aid

Jake Johnson, March 12, 2024 [CommonDreams]

“The severe humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Gaza is nearly unprecedented in modern history,” the eight senators—led by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)—wrote in a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden. “Your administration has repeatedly stated, and the United Nations and numerous aid organizations have confirmed, that Israel’s restrictions on humanitarian access, both at the border and within Gaza, are one of the primary causes of this humanitarian catastrophe.”

The senators argued that the Israeli government’s systematic obstruction of aid deliveries violates U.S. law, pointing specifically to Section 620I of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. The law states that “no assistance shall be furnished… to any country when it is made known to the president that the government of such country prohibits or otherwise restricts, directly or indirectly, the transport or delivery of United States humanitarian assistance.”

Biden administration officials have admitted that Israel is impeding aid deliveries to desperate Gazans.

The White House knew Schumer’s Israel speech was coming. Israel will notice that

[Semafor, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 03-15-2024]

“The White House reviewed, but didn’t block, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer’s sharp attack on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday. While the administration has not embraced his explosive call for new elections, the lack of apparent pushback signaled a growing split between the two countries’ leaderships….. Both Netanyahu’s political allies and opponents pushed back hard against the comments coming out of Washington, charging they were designed to tip the political scales in Israel. ‘Regardless of our political opinion, we strongly oppose external political intervention in Israel’s internal affairs,’ former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett wrote on X. “We are an independent nation, not a banana republic.’”

Lambert Strether: “Lol, “external political intervention.” What we really ought to do is set up an IAPAC (Israeli America Public Affairs Committee) in Israel, and lavishly pump campaign contributions to Israeli politicians through it, including especially the real estate speculators goat sacrificers. Cheaper than sending in a wet team, and far less dangerous.” ]

AIPAC Talking Points Revealed 

Luke Goldstein, March 14, 2024 [The American Prospect]

NATIONAL HARBOR, MARYLAND – This week, approximately 1,600 foot soldiers from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) congregated inside the garish yet functional Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, for the PAC’s annual policy conference. It took place this year amid Israel’s bloody war in Gaza, which has left at least 30,000 Palestinians dead and is turning into a critical wedge issue in the 2024 elections.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed attendees by videocast, along with Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog. According to an incomplete speaker list, the entire Democratic and Republican leadership in Congress delivered remarks—Sens. Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell and Reps. Hakeem Jeffries and Mike Johnson. Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) and Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) were both in attendance, among other representatives.



The West’s Reckoning? 

Michael Brenner [ScheerPost, via Naked Capitalism 03-10-2024]

…Taken together, the actions by Western leaders – supported by their nations’ political elites – are indicative of a behavior pattern that has parted ways with reality. They derive deductively from dogmas unsubstantiated by objective fact. They are logically self-contradictory, impervious to events that shift the landscape, and radically unbalanced in weighting benefits/costs/risks and probabilities of success. How do we explain this ‘irrationality’? There are background conditions that are permissive or encouraging of this flight from sound reasoning. They include: the nihilistic socio-cultural trends in our contemporary post-modern societies; their susceptibility to collective hysteria/overwrought emotional reactions to unsettling events – 9/11, Islamic terrorism, the fable about Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election among other political matters, the conjuring of the menacing Chinese dragon, scary predictions of inevitable war with the PRC, outlandish claims that Putin is planning to launch an all-out campaign to conquer Europe up to the English Channel. The last two are fed by the free-floating anxieties, i.e. dread, engendered by the earlier bouts of mass psychopathology. Those allegations, in fact pure fictions, have gained currency among senior military figures, heads of government, and among strategic ‘thinkers.’


The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

Expect Another Surge in Food Prices Fueled by Dynamic Pricing

Michael Shedlock [via Naked Capitalism 03-12-2024]

A Year in Crises 

[Phenomenal World, via Naked Capitalism 03-12-2024]

…After overhauling its internal investment regime, the US has thwarted any meaningful structural changes to the global financial architecture. On IMF quotas, voting shares, taxation, and even on its measly contribution to the new Loss and Damage Fund, the US has been conservative and isolationist. There have been a few consolation prizes—Barbados’s PM Mia Mottley won debt payment pauses for natural disasters; the IMF will give slightly more interest-free loans to low-income countries—but, on the whole, the global financial safety net continues to ensnare, rather than rescue, the most vulnerable countries.

For every $1 the IMF provides to poor countries for social spending, it demands $4 in cuts in public spending. Countries do everything they can to delay and avoid bailouts since, when they come, they reduce domestic policy space and autonomy, and force countries to choose between debt repayments, social spending and climate.

Part-time jobs, no benefits: The real state of the working class 

[Struggle La Lucha, via Naked Capitalism 03-14-2024]

[X-Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 03-10-2024]



Predatory finance

FDIC Data Contradicts Fed Chair Powell: Shows Real Estate Problems Have Skyrocketed at Largest U.S. Banks, Not  the Smaller Regionals

Pam Martens and Russ Martens, March 08, 2024 [Wall Street on Parade]


Information age dystopia / surveillance state

America’s election chiefs are worried AI is coming for them

[Politico, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 03-11-2024]

“A false call from a secretary of state telling poll workers they aren’t needed on Election Day. A fake video of a state election director shredding ballots before they’re counted. An email sent to a county election official trying to phish logins to its voter database. Election officials worry that the rise of generative AI makes this kind of attack on the democratic process even easier ahead of the November election — and they’re looking for ways to combat it. Election workers are uniquely vulnerable targets: They’re obscure enough that nobody knows who they really are, so unlike a fake of a more prominent figure — like Joe Biden or Donald Trump — people may not be on the lookout for something that seems off. At the same time, they’re important enough to fake and just public enough that it’d be easy to do. Combine that with the fact that election officials are still broadly trusted by most Americans — but don’t have a way to effectively reach their voters — a well-executed fake of them could be highly dangerous but hard to counter.”

The TikTok Problem Is Not What You Think 

Matt Stoller [BIG, via Naked Capitalism 03-15-2024]

While I support the bill, and find most of these objections lacking in credibility, there is some legitimacy to the skepticism, which I’ll get into. But what I want to offer is some basic framing, which is that this legislation has to be understood not as a substitute to a broader movement for reform of social media and privacy, but as part of it. And there are two basic points here. The first is while it’s true that Congress hasn’t passed a ‘comprehensive Federal privacy law,’ it’s also true the Biden administration is orchestrating a remarkable revolution in privacy protections by resurrecting old legal tools. There are reasons you haven’t heard of this revolution that have to do with the incentives of privacy scholars, but the litigation here is fierce and deeply bitter. The second is those who say ‘we can’t even regulate social media and now you want to divest TikTok’s ownership!’ have it 180 degrees backwards. Being able to address Chinese ownership of one video sharing platform is part of the movement to reform all platforms.

Why the TikTok Ban is So Dangerous 

Matt Tabbi, via Naked Capitalism 03-16-2024]

A “foreign adversary controlled application,” in other words, can be any company founded or run by someone living at the wrong foreign address, or containing a small minority ownership stake. Or it can be any company run by someone “subject to the direction” of either of those entities. Or, it’s anything the president says it is. Vague enough?

As Newsweek reported, the bill was fast-tracked after a secret “intelligence community briefing” of Congress led by the FBI, Department of Justice, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). The magazine noted that if everything goes as planned, the bill will give Biden the authority to shut down an app used by 150 million Americans just in time for the November elections.

Say you’re a Democrat, however, and that scenario doesn’t worry you. As America This Week co-host Walter Kirn notes, the bill would give a potential future President Donald Trump “unprecedented powers to censor and control the internet.” If that still doesn’t bother you, you’re either not worried about the election, or you’ve been overstating your fear of “dictatorial” Trump.

[X-Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 03-13-2024]

15 CFR § 7.4 – Determination of foreign adversaries 

[Legal Information Institute, via Naked Capitalism 03-14-2024]

In the TikTok legislation, I questioned what “foreign adversaries” were. There’s a list, determined by the Secretary of Commerce, driven by Blob Vibes (“(4) Reports and assessments from the U.S. Intelligence Community, the U.S. Departments of Justice, State and Homeland Security, and other relevant sources“).

[X-Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 03-15-2024]


US Lawmaker Cited NYC Protests in a Defense of Warrantless Spying 

[Wired, via Naked Capitalism 03-16-2024]

Big Tech’s Election Interference: Why Google and Meta Went Shopping for Former US Intelligence Officers

[The Kennedy Beacon, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 03-12-2024]

“The number of former Intelligence Community staff hired by Google and Meta since 2018 is significant. Before then, there were only a few, but now the numbers are much higher: CIA – 36, FBI – 68, NSA – 44, DHS/CISA – 68, State Department – 86, DOD – 121.” No cites for those numbers, though. More: “The presence of Jacqueline Lopour as Google’s Head of Trust & Safety and Aaron Berman as Meta’s Head of Elections Content/Misinformation Policy, both with backgrounds in the CIA, highlights the significant influence exerted by the agency over online censorship.”

Google’s Gen AI Search Threatens Publishers With $2B Annual Ad Revenue Loss

[AdWeek, via Naked Capitalism 03-14-2024] Outright theft by Google

YouTubers Getting Crushed By Massive Copyright Violation Scams 

Garland Nixon, via Naked Capitalism 03-16-2024]

People shocked after finding out what clicking ‘I’m not a robot’ actually does 

[Unilad, via Naked Capitalism 03-12-2024]


Collapse of independent news media

The Outrage Industry 

Teri Kanefield [via Naked Capitalism 03-10-2024]

“The Locusts Of The Newspaper World”: How Fortress Investment Group Decimated Newspapers Before Gutting Vice 

[Defector, via Naked Capitalism 03-12-2024]

Wall Street Mega Banks Have Drawn a Law-Free Zone Around Themselves – The Media Is Complicit

Pam Martens, March 13, 2024 [Wall Street on Parade]

…One key factor stands out in our mind as to why today’s Wall Street mega bank era is so much more corrupt and dangerous than earlier times: the failure of mainstream media to do its job.

For the past decade, mainstream media has failed to adequately report to the American people the activities of the Wall Street mega banks and the insidious role of the Federal Reserve in being their secret bailout kingpin. Consider what happened with the Fed’s so-called repo loan bailouts in the last quarter of 2019.…


Climate and environmental crises

Global Warming Is Still Accelerating, in Three Graphs

Thomas Neuburger, March 13, 2024 [God’s Spies]

We’ve now experienced 365 days of continuous all-time highs at the surface of the world’s oceans.

Thomas Neuburger, March 15, 2024.


Forces shaping the future of energy 

[S&P Global, via Naked Capitalism 03-10-2024]

A New Surge in Power Use Is Threatening U.S. Climate Goals

[New York Times, via Thomas Neuburger, March 15, 2024]

Over the past year, electric utilities have nearly doubled their forecasts of how much additional power they’ll need by 2028 as they confront an unexpected explosion in the number of data centers, an abrupt resurgence in manufacturing driven by new federal laws, and millions of electric vehicles being plugged in. […]

US installs record 33.8 GW of clean power capacity in 2023

[Renewables Now, via American Clean Power 3-12-2024]


Creating new economic potential – science and technology

Brain Waves Travel in One Direction When Memories are Made and the Opposite When Recalled (press release)

[Columbia University, via Naked Capitalism 03-10-2024]

Tests show high-temperature superconducting magnets are ready for fusion 

[, via Naked Capitalism 03-10-2024]

“A new type of magnet, made from high-temperature superconducting material, achieved a world-record magnetic field strength of 20 tesla for a large-scale magnet. That’s the intensity needed to build a fusion power plant that is expected to produce a net output of power and potentially usher in an era of virtually limitless power production.”

James Webb telescope confirms there is something seriously wrong with our understanding of the universe

[LiveScience, via Naked Capitalism 03-16-2024]

Scientists Discover Simple Way To Prevent Life-Threatening Birth Defects 

[SciTech Daily, via Naked Capitalism 03-16-2024]


Democrats’ political malpractice

Is This What Happens When You Build a Real Social Safety Net, Then Take It Away? 

[New York Times, via Naked Capitalism 03-14-2024]

In 2019, unemployment insurance kept 500,000 people out of poverty; in 2020, that figure was 5.5 million. Yes, the program was riddled with problems, particularly technological ones, that made it difficult for many people to get enrolled quickly. But once they were covered, “They saw something close to the actual level of benefits that they deserve,” Mr. Díez said.
It was short-lived. By July 2020, the extra $600 in benefits had lapsed, and it wasn’t until December 2020 that Congress approved $300 payments with new restrictions. By May, some states started opting out, leaving their residents with the paltry benefits they would have gotten prepandemic.
…In the pandemic, the country created the most robust safety net we had seen in decades, buffering people against eviction, poverty, hunger and other suffering. Americans’ lives were materially and appreciably improved. Then we took it all away.
The message received is that the government could have done these things all along but had chosen not to — and has chosen once again to withdraw that kind of security. Before March 2020, Americans were used to piecing a living together without much government help, but now they’ve seen that it doesn’t have to be that way….


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

How Viktor Orbán Conquered the Heritage Foundation

Casey Michel, March 15, 2024 [The New Republic]

Last week, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán made waves by flying to the United States to meet with Donald Trump—but not with sitting president Joe Biden. It was, at a minimum, a severe breach of diplomatic protocol, and one that threatens to unravel Budapest’s strained relations with Washington even further….

But there was one other meeting that Orbán took while in the U.S. that hasn’t received enough attention—and points directly to how Orbán has cultivated American conservatives to his cause and created a beachhead for Hungarian influence in Washington. On Friday, he spoke at a closed-door meeting at the Heritage Foundation’s headquarters in the nation’s capital. Joined by Heritage president Kevin Roberts and failed presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, Orbán spoke, according to a readout, in front of an audience that “included renowned U.S. right-wing politicians, analysts and public personalities.”….

The Budapest-based Danube Institute is largely unknown in the U.S., but it has transformed in recent years into one of the premier mouthpieces for propagating Orbánist policies. While it is technically independent, it is, as Jacob Heilbrunn notes in his new book on the American right’s infatuation with dictators, located “next to the prime minister’s building and funded by Orbán’s Fidesz party.” Indeed, the Hungarian think tank is overseen by a foundation directly bankrolled by the Hungarian state—meaning that the Danube Institute is, for all intents and purposes, a state-funded front for pushing pro-Orbán rhetoric.…

Most important, however, is the man currently running the Danube Institute: John O’Sullivan, a British conservative who once served as the director of studies at—you guessed it—the Heritage Foundation. “With his extensive connections in the conservative universe, [O’Sullivan] became Orbán’s conduit to the American Right,” Heilbrunn noted.

[TW: “a British conservative” I’m always suspicious when the British are involved. Just look at the results of their handiwork in Palestine.]


Economics as cultural warfare

Gov. DeWine signs bill requiring ‘free market capitalism’ be taught in schools 

[, via Naked Capitalism 03-16-2024]


(anti)Republican Drive to Civil War

Critics Warn RNC ‘Bloodbath’ a Preview of What Project 2025 Would Do If Trump Reelected

Thor Benson, March 12, 2024

Over 60 staffers at the Republican National Committee have reportedly been let go following the change in leadership instigated by presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, and critics warn this could be a preview of what Trump would do to the federal government should he win reelection in November.

“In a letter to some political and data staff, Sean Cairncross, the RNC’s new chief operating officer, said that the new committee leadership was ‘in the process of evaluating the organization and staff to ensure the building is aligned’ with its vision. ‘During this process, certain staff are being asked to resign and reapply for a position on the team,'” Politico reports.

For some political observers, the purge at the RNC should serve as a preview of Project 2025, an initiative led by The Heritage Foundation and Trump allies, that would, in part, replace over 50,000 civil servants in the federal government with Trump loyalists. This would be accomplished through an executive order referred to as Schedule F that would allow Trump, if back in the White House, to fire large numbers of career government workers who currently have protected status….

The Right-Wing Attack on Democracy Is Not Limited to Donald Trump

Melissa Gira Grant, March 14, 2024 [The New Republic]

Attacks on abortion rights and LGBTQ rights are part of a broader assault on democratic norms….

The new report, Freedom Under Fire: The Far Right’s Battle to Control America, released Wednesday by MAP [Movement Advancement Project], considers the connections between different kinds of attacks on freedom. “These varied attacks may seem disparate and disconnected, but in fact they are part of a coordinated campaign,” noted Tessa Juste, a MAP researcher. The report identifies six overarching categories of attack: “restricting health care and the right to make decisions about one’s body”; “restricting freedom of ideas and the ability to obtain a comprehensive education”; “restricting travel and the ability to exist freely in public places”; “restricting the legal recognition of people’s identities”; “restricting freedom of the press, speech, and assembly”; and “restricting the right to vote.” The goal of all of these types of attacks is twofold and mutually supporting: “mainstreaming exclusion and undermining democracy.”….

Another new report this week exemplifies the more typical approach to defining the “defense of democracy” problem. In “Courts, campaigns, and confidence in American democracy,” the group Bright Line Watch asked close to 700 political scientists (as well as “a representative sample of 2,798 Americans”) to assess “current and future threats to democracy,” including what they thought of “the performance of U.S. democracy” and current legal actions against Trump. They asked about the likelihood of scenarios like Trump invoking the Insurrection Act to use the military on protesters or Trump attempting to remain president beyond his term. The consensus is, unsurprisingly, not great: Most of the experts surveyed said they believed Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act (59 percent) and attempt to remain in office (60 percent)….

[TW: I looked through Freedom Under Fire: The Far Right’s Battle to Control America. It is perhaps useful as a compilation of the many right-wing efforts to limit and control the democratic process, but it does not really address the question of motive. As I have argued before, it is major mistake to ignore the fact that the right-wing has developed a coherent philosophy of political economy that explicitly rejects the Founders’ civic republican philosophy of establishing justice, promoting the General Welfare, and doing good works. Greatly simplified, the right-wing philosophy is individualism constrained only by institutional traditionalism. I think any attempt to oppose right-wing efforts to limit and control the democratic process will be inevitably crippled if there is not also careful and continual scrutiny of the funding sources, such as below.]

Follow the Money Behind the Capitol Riot

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, January 25, 2021 [Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law]

…Let’s start at the top with President Trump, who egged on a crowd to go to the Capitol and “fight,” moments before they did just that. During the 2020 election, he was supported by two super PACs, America First Action and Preserve America PAC, according to Open Secrets. Preserve America PAC was primarily bankrolled by the late Sheldon Adelson — perhaps best known as the founder, chairman, and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Casino — who contributed $90 million.

Meanwhile, American First Action received significant donations from three related Florida sugar companies: $725,000 from Fanjul Corp (which sells the Florida Crystals brand of sugar), $450,000 from New Hope Sugar Co., and $450,000 from Osceola Farms. Vital Pharmaceuticals, which produces the Bang brand of energy drinks, gave American First Action $250,000 during the 2020 election cycle. Three other Florida agricultural firms — Agro-Industrial Management, Americas Export Corp, and Sem-Chi Rice Products — gave the super PAC $350,000, $350,000, and $250,000, respectively. America First Action also received a mysterious $1 million donation from “Deuterium Electron LLC,” which seems to have no other online presence.

Ken Paxton, America First Legal, and Premonitions of Project 2025

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal, March 15, 2024 [The American Prospect]

Over his nearly ten years serving as the attorney general of Texas—almost nine of which he has been under criminal indictment—Ken Paxton has pushed steadily more extreme, right-wing policies to deprive Texans of their rights…. In these efforts, Paxton has had help from right-wing influence networks. In recent years, that has been especially true of the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI). This partnership is important in its own right, but it also gives us a preview of what Project 2025—the Republican program for a second Trump presidency—looks like at the state level….

For readers who haven’t heard of it before, CPI is a Wall Street–backed conservative incubator and training organization that continuously challenges the Biden administration in court. It is also a holding tank for right-wing extremists, replete with former (and potentially future) Trump staffers, like Mark Meadows and Cleta Mitchell. It has seven sub-organizations spanning many issue areas and advocacy styles, including those detailed in Project 2025’s notorious policy agenda. CPI’s organizations include the Center for Renewing America (CRA), the Election Integrity Network (EIN), the State Freedom Caucus Network (SFCN), America First Legal (AFL), the American Accountability Foundation (AAF), American Cornerstone Institute, and American Moment (AM)….

It is no surprise that this dubious cast of characters has used AFL’s immense resources— entrusted to it in part via CPI’s own donor network, such as the Uihlein FoundationLynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and the Rizzuto Foundation—to litigate in support of the most extreme hard-right positions on a broad spectrum of local, state, and federal issues.

Dark Shadows: For More Than 40 Years, Christian Nationalist Groups Have Worked To Topple The Church-State Wall. Are They About To Succeed?

Liz Hayes, November 01, 2022CHURCH & STATE MAGAZINE

Hedge Fund Titan John Paulson Made $1 Billion in an Illegal Goldman Sachs Deal; Trump Is Now Floating Him for Treasury Secretary

Pam Martens and Russ Martens, March 14, 2024 [Wall Street on Parade]

We Have to Beat Donald Trump. Clearly, the Broken Legal System Won’t.

Michael Tomasky, March 15, 2024[The New Republic]

…When we talk about what’s wrong with our democracy, we talk about our political structures and processes. We talk about the Senate. We talk about the Electoral College. We talk about gerrymandering. And of course all these problems are real.

We don’t talk about our legal system. We should. The American legal system doesn’t uphold the values of democratic rule like equality. It far more often corrupts and perverts them. Rich people like Trump twist the system into a pretzel and win delay after delay after delay. Corporations pay fines, usually not that large when considered against their bottom line, and they admit no wrongdoing, even after their practices have killed people. Poor people, meanwhile, get pushed around by the system constantly.

There is no such thing in this country as equality before the law, and everyone knows it. And I would argue that this legal inequality does more damage to democracy than all the political inequities for the simple reason that they’re more visible. And they’ve never been more visible than they are now with Trump. If he is able to push all these cases back past November, or at least three of them (the Bragg case should proceed this summer), and then especially if he wins the White House and pardons himself, that will constitute the biggest failure of the rule of law in the history of the country.

Make the RNC White Again’: GOP Ends Minority Outreach Program.

Roger Sollenberger, March 13, 2024  [via]

“The program at issue is an initiative from the 2022 midterms where RNC field staff engaged voters through gatherings and events held at community centers in areas with heavy minority populations, most specifically Latino communities. The RNC had announced it would be redoubling its efforts in this arena and would be “opening 40 new centers in Latino, Black, Asian American, Native American, Jewish, and veteran communities across the country. That would include establishing outposts in key battlegrounds like Las Vegas, Nevada, Tuscon, Arizona, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Allentown, Pennsylvania… Jaime Florez, the RNC’s Hispanic communications director, told The Messenger that ‘Democrats have taken the Hispanic community for granted for far too long’ and vowed that the RNC planned to capitalize on those opportunities. ‘Republicans will continue to make historic investments in Hispanic voter outreach, from opening more community centers to launching Deposita Tu Voto, that will further our gains with Hispanic voters and deliver Republican victories in 2024,’ Florez said at the time.”

Sick Because of Roundup? These Bills Could Make Suing Impossible

Nick Tabor, March 12, 2024 [The New Republic]

…Since January, bills to shield pesticide manufacturers from lawsuits have been filed in three states where Bayer has a major corporate presence: Missouri (where Monsanto is headquartered), Idaho (where it has a phosphate mine), and Iowa (where it has a manufacturing plant). Daniel Hinkle, an attorney with the American Association for Justice, who works with trial lawyer associations throughout the country, predicted that if these bills succeed, Bayer will push similar legislation in a number of other states next year.

The company’s efforts have been supported by other agribusiness allies. Legislation of the kind they’re promoting would have implications for all pesticide manufacturers—especially Syngenta, one of Bayer’s competitors, which is facing a lawsuit over the pesticide paraquat from some 5,300 patients with Parkinson’s disease. Hinkle believes the bills would “condone” these companies’ “reported history of deception and fraud,” while putting the public at greater risk.


The (anti)Federalist Society Infestation of the Courts

Judge Shopping Ended—by Judges Themselves

Ryan Cooper, March 15, 2024 [The American Prospect]

For many years now, one of the most outrageous aspects of the American legal system… has been the practice of “judge shopping.” Interested parties can file lawsuits in particular locations and be certain or quite likely to draw a judge friendly to their case. This has played hell with federal policy in all sorts of arenas.

But this practice will be rolled back somewhat thanks to a recent decision from the Judicial Conference of the United States, which sets internal policies for the federal judiciary. Now, thanks to this change, any lawsuit attempting to overturn national legislation or regulation will be randomly assigned to one of the whole population of judges….

It’s hard to exaggerate how offensive judge shopping is to basic principles of the rule of law and democratic values. Government is supposed to be based on the consent of the governed, and the principal focus of the judiciary should be ensuring the law is applied in a consistent and coherent fashion rather than acting as an unelected legislature. That holds double when it comes to any one of 677 district court judges, who have no business whatsoever dictating terms to the people as a whole.

But with judge shopping, a random handful of extremists can file a lawsuit based on crackpot nonsense or actual lies, present their case to a carefully chosen friendly judge who will automatically rule in their favor, and seize control of some national policy.

Take a recent ruling from probably the most feral right-wing district court judge in the country, Matthew Kacsmaryk of Texas. (His district is situated such that if you file your case in Amarillo, you were guaranteed to get him, until this reform.) ….



Open Thread


Poverty, Wealth and Money In The New Green Age (Principles of the Green Age #1.1)


  1. different clue

    There is the tip of the iceberg and there is the rest of the iceberg.

    The Wall Street freeloaders are the visible tip of the iceberg. The hidden persons and families and foundations and etc. of vast wealth are the invisible rest of the iceberg. Wall Street serves them as well as itself. If the Invisible Icebergers felt that Wall Street wasn’t serving them, they would re-engineer it into a form that met their needs.

  2. —-
    “Free market capitalism”
    Finally! A political party that will uphold and defend free markets! Can’t wait for pharmaceutical costs to drop by 99% once the tyrannical government monopolies called patents are made history by the righteous freedom fighters.
    Ever wonder why your computer, smart phone and technology is so expensive? It is because the evil communist government will arrest people who violate tech company patents/monopolies.
    No way those republicans are simply using “free markets” to virtue signal as they loot and pillage the country for their masters.

    “There is no such thing in this country as equality before the law”
    “The executive of the modern state is nothing but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.”
    Sounds like that guy –despite that muskrat on his chin– understands the government is controlled by the oligarchs.

    The west1950-2023: “We have freedom unlike those evil countries where the government controls the press.”

    The West 2024: “We need to ban Tik-Tok because our government doesn’t control it.”

    The West 1950-2022: “Genocide is bad.”
    The West 2023-: “Genocide is defense.”

    Which mask do you think will fall of the west next?

  3. bruce wilder

    “if the individual is to be free to choose, it is inevitable that he should bear the risk attaching to that choice,” attributed to Hayek

    I haven’t gone back to see what Hayek wrote in context. He was every bit the right-wing jerkoff we all imagine, but he wrote at a time when that pose was heavily criticized and, also, he was smart. Usually, what he actually wrote in professional writing at least was a good deal more sophisticated than the hand-waving of his latter day acolytes.

    The first obvious point is that individuals “choose” in the context of a transaction where there will necessarily be at least one counterparty to the transaction, who may also reasonably be required to bear risk. (In any real transactional context, there will be “non-parties” to the transaction who will bear “externalized” risk, which can only be “priced” by the intervention of a public arbiter imposing a supplementary settlement external to the primary exchange of value.) Which of the primary parties to the transaction has better information and better risk-bearing capacity is recognized by (some) economists as critical to the efficiency of the transaction.

    Economics at the imbecile level from which glibertarians derive their bumperstickers doesn’t make feature risk: “you pay your money and you take your choice”. But, in real life, all prices are contingent with implied or explicit warranties that apply after exchange. We take this for granted when we return some unsatisfactory product for a refund.

    Here’s the thing: transactional efficiency cannot be achieved when the choosers are afraid. The risk-averse may veer toward the reckless or the excessively conservative — it doesn’t matter — either way is inefficient and suboptimal and all that economics stuff.

    One of the many reasons, economic inequality of wealth is so deleterious is that wealth is insurance: the rich can bear more risk without harming themselves and will use that capacity of greater risk-bearing against the poor, who are short of that capacity. That’s what usury is — the use of superior risk-bearing capacity to oppress — and that’s why it is bad.

    My cynical take is that the left tries too hard to be clever, to climb on top of a problem and be “smarter”. The “actuarial self”? Really. On some level, Suzanne Schneider is making good points. It is kind of ridiculous — and also human nature — for a surgeon to “explain” the risks of surgery to a patient and think he’s immunized himself against a malpractice suit, should he make a mistake. But, that’s not how a good society would arrange things. The politics has to find a way past the surgeon feeling that if he makes a good-faith effort no one should hold him accountable for the inevitable “risks” of the surgery — the things that “happen sometimes” despite everyone doing their best, to paraphrase Hirohito. Has Schneider confronted that political problem? She seems to be trying to transcend it all with abstractions.

    Economists are seldom held accountable for misinterpreting their own theories and doctrines, the better to serve the interests of the rich and powerful. But, no one confronts them either — not in the way Hayek would have anticipated being confronted 70+ years ago by intellectual equals. Someone like Schneider doesn’t even know that there’s a foundation of settled thought going back a century or more that’s identified these issues. Maybe she doesn’t want to know, because it would get in the way of playing with meaning.

  4. Z

    I get a bit annoyed at those who credit the Left’s lack of power wholely to their inability to organize well. Aldo Moro is one of many examples of the CIA seeking to regime change Leftist leaders; often with murder being their tool of choice. Not to mention that there has probably been multitudes of times that the CIA simply rigged elections and/or political processes to keep Leftists out of power (see Corbyn, Jeremy and Sanders, Bernie) that have never been acknowledged or revealed.

    Looking back at the carnage of Leftist leaders in the past, I gain even more respect for the ones who survived such as Castro and Chavez. Though, I have to mention that, according to Oliver Stone, Chavez thought the CIA did him in with cancer.

    I also get irritated by those who point towards economic statistics to criticize the economic policies of Castro and Chavez. Because even if we immerse ourselves into an imaginary world of kaleidoscope skies, seventeen suns, and one that the majority of the world’s economic statistics aren’t results-oriented mathematical manipulations, it’s still not fair to compare the economic stats of Leftists with capitalistic countries since it’s hardly an apple-to-apple comparison when the most powerful capitalistic countries collude to make it much harder for the Leftists to succeed.

    BRICS and the demise of the U.S. dollar (which are printed up and dangled through the World Bank and IMF to coerce countries … and bribe their leaders … into playing the game the West’s way) are strong steps towards empowering future Leftist governments. They’re also steps towards the empowerment of labor worldwide.

    Western immigration policies though are being tailored to counteract any labor empowerment and the expansion of BRICS will have an overall negative effect on the U.S. economy, and maybe a crushing one.


  5. Z brings up an important point. Leftist groups are weak (to what extent I can’t say) because their leaders get assassinated, their members get discriminated against and they get targeted by those with power. Many of those who started Black Lives Matter were “suicided”, killed or died under suspicious circumstances.
    In post ww2 America you were denied employment if you were a leftist.
    Malcolm X, both the Kennedy’s, and Martin Luther King were all likely assassinated by the CIA and FBI. Former members of the CIA and FBI admit to it and unless magic does exist they literally assassinated a sitting president and completely got away with it. Consider the implications of that.
    There is an old book called “The CIA and the cult of intelligence” by Victor Marchetti about how the CIA rigged elections, destroyed countries, started wars, and funded terrorists groups in most countries of the world in order to limit leftist organizations.
    The US and capitalist class put Venezuela into an economic depression in 2002-2003 in a failed attempt to coup Chavez. Developing a country is hard period. Imagine doing it while a sociopathic foreign power 1000 times your size is actively destroying your country.

  6. bruce wilder

    Many of those who started Black Lives Matter were “suicided”, killed or died under suspicious circumstances.

    Say what?

    Tometi, Cullors, Garza are all alive and cashing in. There’s your soi-disant

  7. Feral Finster

    @Oakchair and Bruce Wilder: If the Establishment is good at nothing else, it is very good at determining whom to co-opt, whom to buy off, whom to neutralize, whom to ignore.

  8. Z


    Which brings to mind another way that the CIA and FBI brings Leftist orgs to heel: sabotage at the top of them.

    This article ( notes that there are at least 60,000 people secretly employed by the Pentagon, some of them with secret identities, and figure that there are probably at least 25K who are currently operating domestically. Then you take it a step further and reckon that there are probably at least a hundred highly capable people operating in each major U.S. city who are above the law to some extent and are probably infiltrating any resistance and reporting on these groups’ activities and who their leaders are. Plus, I’d imagine that a non-trivial portion of them were already embedded into these organizations at top levels and built credibility within them before being leveraged by the government with a stick of a long jail sentence for something they or the group did and the carrot of a well-paying gig with a fair amount of freedom in which to operate within as long as they bring in the goods or “mis-lead” the orgs the way the Feds want them to.

    When you take that into account, you begin to understand why there’s no effective organized resistance to our predatory ruling class.


  9. Willy

    Strange how Boeing became all about profits today, to then lose profits tomorrow. Not. Bullshit works, for some, maybe most, long enough for them to make their getaway in the bouncy clown car made by Musk.

    There’s “the left” all over the place. But all they’ve got today is Biden trying to do an ‘FDR save capitialism’ bit. American conservatism (such as it is) holds the Trump cards of greed and deception. If they can’t dazzle you with brilliant bullshit, or baffle you with stupid bullshit, they’ll try to buy you off. Or kill you off if all else fails. They’re far better at this than anybody I know from the left.

  10. different clue

    The BLM “soi disants” that Bruce Wilder referrences were all hustlers seeing BLM as an opportunity to cash in on.

    The early actual on-the-ground organizers of BLM type protests in and around Ferguson, Missouri, who have been masterfully ‘suicided’ by professionals are the people Oakchair is referring to. Oakchair gave one example of several that I have read of.

    The American Power Structure players and servants have been ” mowing the Leftist grass” right here in America for over a century. If the “left” wants to resist getting “mowed” every so often, the “left” will have to figure out how to make itself “mower proof”. How does a movement-load of people practice Leaderless Mass Resistance through a ubiquitous multi-directional network of brain-to-brain Vulcan Mind Melding, such that there are too many hundreds of thousands of effective micro-leaders for the Power Structure players to assassinate them all or even know which ones to assassinate?

    An Air Force officer turned lawyer developed a theory he called “rhizome”. His name is Jeff Vail. Here are a couple of links to articles “about” this “rhizome theory of power” that Jeff Vail developed. It may be harder to find the original article than it used to be. ( I remember 10 or whatever years ago seeing that Jeff Vail’s article had won the ” Noam Chomsky Good Brainkeeping Seal of Approval”.

    And here is an article by Jeff Vail his own self.

    He also wrote a series of articles for The Oil Drum when it still existed called ” A Resilient Suburbia?” While reading it, one could think of a leaders mass culture change or culture shift targeted against the Establishment Death Culture, yet with so many hundreds of thousands of micro-centers that they can’t all be bombed, burned down, fired, lawfared, or assassinated. A leaner tougher meaner counter-culture, if you will. Here is the link.

  11. different clue

    By the way, about the suicided early BLM leaders in and around Ferguson and etc., I have read a theory that the professionals who suicided them were police. Certainly, since police know what clues to look for at a crime scene, they would also know what clues to remove or not even leave behind to begin with.

    People who have been disappeared by the authorities are referred to as ‘the disappeared’. Perhaps people who have been suicided by the authorities should be referred to as ‘the suicided’. That would create a new word-denoted category for people to think in. That would allow people to link together various suicided people into a unified concept and category.

    ‘The Suicided’.

    “Be careful out there. Don’t get suicided.”

  12. higgins'lads

    Tometi, Cullors, Garza are all alive and cashing in. There’s your soi-disant

    Exactly, BUT: Cullors et al aren’t the ones who started or funded BLM. They are the ‘useful idiots.’

    Everyone remains divided. This is always and everywhere the ongoing ‘end game’ accomplished via constant propaganda built into everyone’s daily experiences. And black ops.

  13. Mark Level

    I read the Common Dreams/ Jake Johnson piece, & while I commend the effort, I could only laugh at the belief that because the law clearly says something, the Elite psychopaths will ever in any case be constrained by it. The “Constitutional Scholar” Obama was not constrained by all the Treaties we signed saying we would punish state actors for systematic torture, all he did is admitted “We tortured some folks,” then let them go scot free. I applaud the effort, again, but it doesn’t matter.

    I won’t read the Josh Marshall pieces on Israel, he (like Howie Klein) has some misgivings about Netanyahu specifically (bad PR, like Trump) but he is down with the project of eliminating-expelling the Palestinians as much as all the other committed Zionists are. I used to read his take on domestic politics– he’s relatively smart for a Lib & had insider data that others didn’t. I respect the friends and disciples of Ezra Pound who cut him off when he went full-scale Nazi, the only sane thing to do & I follow that example when looking at sources currently. (I want to get to the ScheerPost piece at some point however, he is good & always has been, some folks stay true to their humanity & pay the price. In his case, being fired from the LA Times, etc.)

    I’m going to share a letter I wrote to my local free weekly which I had thought was pretty good until recently. The one actual Lefty on it had been good on many issues, including Ukraine, from the start. There is an older guy who is their moderate Lib (I think he’s in his 90s, was in the Korean War) who only mainly writes about Culture War issues, how much he hates the Catholic Church & dogma (which I can respect, a “Recovered Catholic” myself, I quit it when I was 17 years old with zero qualms then or since), shares how much he supports transsexual people etc. But he has insane hatred for “Putin” who has apparently destroyed his life (details on this unclear) & I had to make a rule early on to stop reading his columns as soon as “Putin” is mentioned. Their 3rd, right wing writer produces crazy word salad (sometimes literally unreadable, in his own ideolect), & has only one virtue which is in admitting that he is a “bad” person who loves to upset others & denouncing “do-gooders” & anyone who doesn’t worship TPTB reflexively.

    Anyway, the actual Left guy wrote a piece admitting Biden is committing a genocide & praising Hillary Clinton & telling us actual Lefties we MUST support Joe & the Genocide in the voting booth!! The Libs’ Cognitive dissonance is at least entertaining, if also vomit worthy. I will try to paste/copy his column & my response here (even if it kind of outs me & where I live.)

    The author is Phil Anderson, the title “Perfect Is the Enemy of the Good” [Good= Genocide]

    “We’d all like to vote for the best man, but he’s never a candidate.” Kin Hubbard (1868-1930), an American cartoonist, humorist and journalist .

    “How come we choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?” Anonymous

    I have been reading about and hearing from progressive’s who are not happy with President Biden. He is too old, too corporate, too harsh on immigrants, too soft on environmental issues and most significantly he is a war monger. He got us into another no-win war in Ukraine. Even worse he is complicit in the crimes against humanity being perpetrated by Israel in Gaza and the West Bank.

    All this is true. Biden falls short on many policy issues. In many ways he is a disappointment just like Obama, Clinton, Carter and many other politicians. No one is perfect.

    In our less than democratic two-party system, the best person is almost never on the ballot. We are stuck with the two major party candidates. I have frequently had to hold my nose and vote for the best available candidate. With the Miss America pageant there is a field of many beautiful, intelligent, talented and accomplished young women. We have 340 million people in this country. There are millions of good, capable, proven leaders who could represent us as President. But the reality is we only get two choices. Our political system works against the selection of the best candidates. Running for office is an expensive, grueling, soul crushing, sacrifice of one’s life and family. It is all about money. One must sell their soul to the big money donors. Only the most ambitious, power-motivated egos are willing to sacrifice everything (including principles) to get elected.

    The current gaggle of Republicans in the House of Representatives are proof of the broken system. These incompetents can’t get along with each other much less cooperate, or compromise, to accomplish the basic functions of governing. Case in point is their failure to pass a budget. We are into the fourth continuing resolution in less than a year to keep the government operating.

    Politics in our country has always been ugly and contentious. But the recent levels of gridlock and dysfunction are extraordinary. Contrary to popular belief this is not the result of both parties being unwilling to compromise for the greater good. The current dysfunction is clearly the result of the extreme right-wing faction of the Republican Party. The GOP has become a personality cult of MAGA zealots.

    A prime example of this problem is Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO). She is a MAGA rhetorical bomb thrower who prides herself on packing an automatic pistol. She is totally unqualified by education, experience, skills or temperament for public office. Reading her Wikipedia biography and observing the soap opera of her personal life proves this assertion. She is, like Trump, an embarrassment to the country.

    The aphorism “perfect is the enemy of the good” is about the harm that can happen when insistence on perfection crowds out good solutions. What is best may not be what is possible and sometimes half a loaf is better than none. In 2016 we saw what can happen when people are too ideologically pure, too principled, too unwilling to vote for the less than perfect Democratic candidate. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a wide margin. But because of the undemocratic Electoral College Trump won enough states (by tiny margins) to win the election. He won because too many people voted for a third party, or didn’t vote at all, because they didn’t like Hillary. This put in power the worst president in the history of our country.

    In 2016 Trump won Wisconsin by only 22,748 votes – 0.77 percent of the total vote. The Green Party candidate got 31,072 votes. The Workers Party threw away 1,770 votes. The write-in votes – the most irrational “protest vote” of all – got 35,000 votes. Other states had similar results. Clearly liberals elected Trump and unleashed his disastrous reign of error.

    As a result our country suffered four years of astonishing incompetence, social strife and erratic governance. The extremist’s control of the Supreme Court was made essentially permanent. The federal judiciary was packed with far right judges. Many important social, environmental and regulatory programs were gutted. A resurgence of hate, racism and bigotry was unleashed that is still increasing in vehemence.

    Now Trump has eliminated the last remaining primary contender. Barring some miracle, he will be the Republican nominee. There is speculation that significant numbers of Republicans and independents may refuse to vote for Trump. This would be wonderful but we cannot depend on it happening. In this election the consequences of failure are too great to take any chances. We cannot afford to waste votes on protest.

    None of this requires anyone to stop protesting the bad policy decisions of the Biden administration. We should be advocating for a ceasefire in Gaza. We should be advocating for a negotiated settlement in Ukraine. We should be speaking truth to power on many issues when Biden fails to lead in the right direction.

    Voting “uncommitted” in the Democratic primaries is an excellent way to show your displeasure with Biden’s support for genocide In Palestine.

    In the February Michigan primary “uncommitted” got 100,000 votes or 13% of the total. March 5th in Minnesota 19% voted “uncommitted.” On April 4th Wisconsin voters can choose “uninstructed” for a protect vote.

    In Duluth citizens are asking the city council to pass a resolution calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. Advocates for this action are urging people to contact their councilperson before the vote on Monday, March 25. People can also speak at the council meetings on the 18th and 25th. This is great way to pressure Biden, who was just in the Twin Ports.

    This year we simply cannot chance a repeat of 2016. Everyone who cares about our country must vote for Joe Biden. The risk is too great for protest votes or divisions over fine points of opinion, public policy, political philosophy or party affiliation. Electing Joe Biden is the only way to stop Trump and defeat his destructive cult following.
    Here is my response, electronically only– it’s a bit of a rant & I know they won’t run anything calling out Biden more than once (I got one printed months ago) on the physical paper’s pages. Only my ugly Teutonic appelido (surname) is omitted for reasons of privacy.

    Wow! What a disgraceful column. It is hard to summon up words, the author’s point of view is so degraded & hateful.

    He calls himself a “liberal” and perhaps implies he is “progressive,” then tells you that (in a “democracy”) you MUST support a vicious racist like Biden who is funding & expediting a full-scale starvation & genocide of the Palestinian indigenous people in the West-created haven for Ashkenazi Jews (whose ancestors converted to Judaism in the middle ages, look up “Khazars” on Wikipedia) who for the most part never had ancestors in the Kingdom of Israel which existed for less than 2 centuries!! But hey, the US is doing what it does best, murdering non-white people (Vietnamese, Indonesians, Syrians, Libyans, Hondurans, Cubans, Chileans, etc. ad infinitum) & Mr. Anderson, a good “liberal” is clapping loudly from the Peanut Gallery!! Just sickening.

    What’s the difference between a Liberal and a Fascist? A Fascist is less hypocritical and will tell you plainly that they enjoy oppressing & murdering non-white & poor people (including poor whites.) A “liberal” like Mr. Anderson will support the exact same policies (I bet Mr. Anderson thinks Victoria Nuland is a great thinker) and pretend to lament the death of innocents with crocodile tears.

    As my last name indicates, I am of partially Germanic stock & I hate and lament the crimes of my cousins there during the largest major genocide in the 20th century. Now we have a 2nd genocide occurring, 85% of the World knows it, Mr. Anderson even admits it is a genocide, & he tells me I must vote for Genocide Joe and enable it!! (NB– I was born in South Dakota as my poor German ancestors were driven out of there by poverty in the late 19th century, as my poor Irish ancestors were driven out of Ireland by famine deliberately created by the English at the same time. So nobody closely related to me ran the crematorium ovens, as far as I know.)

    No, Mr. Anderson, I won’t support any NeoCons, Joe nor the rest!! I won’t be complicit in genocide & if you had any humanity you wouldn’t demand I do so. Yes, people in Wisconsin & nationwide “didn’t like Hillary”!! She is equally racist & genocidal as Joe (Lock Up the Darkies) Biden, who wrote the “crime bill” creating criminal sentences for crack cocaine 100 times stronger than for good white Wall Street execs who like to snort an occasional line in their limos & never get arrested, resulting in decades long jail sentences for 1,000s of black, brown, & some poor white men & women over 2 generations, while people like his “wonderful” son Huntercan film themselves smoking crack & broadcast it and get nothing worse than paid “therapy.”

    Hillary Rodham Clinton was a Goldwater Girl who opposed the Civil Rights movement, MLK & equal rights for black Americans in the 1960s & ’70s. Her husband is (like Trump) a sexual predator & rapist & an associate of the pedophile Mossad agent Jeffrey Epstein, but hey, they mean well (?) She opposed gay marriage for decades. She never met a colonial US war she didn’t love. She spit in the face of voters like me (I was forced out of the Dem party after 40 years support when they stole the nomination from Sanders a 2nd time in 2020, openly) for years, calling us stupid & weak. They never oppose the “bad” Republicans with the hate and virulence they do with the actual Left, they are all buddies. She pulled a coup in Honduras during the 2nd Obama admin that resulted in drug dealers running the country, & mass, organized rapes against Honduran women until finally those monsters were ousted. Oh, & in Libya, which had the highest standard of living for decades after Gaddafi came to power, she ran another coup that split the country into 3 weak ethno-states ruled by Strongmen. In one of those, there are Slave Markets for blacks from Sub-Saharan Africa being openly sold– her “management” of foreign affairs must make you so proud, huh? Black chattel slavery in the 21st century (just like Joe pulled with the prison industry)– how praiseworthy is that!!

    Yes, Mr. Anderson, brandish your wonderful moral superiority over all of us who don’t support “the donors” who run both the Good Cop Dem party & the Bad Cop R’s and continue to shovel money uphill to the richest while slashing social services to the middle class & poor, betraying FDR’s legacy, who do NOTHING to confront or stop Climate Change, who start endless wars (as you yourself admit) & profiteer personally thereby. But if you have any intellect left (I used to respect you uniquely among the D.R. staff, you at least had a sane view of the US-incited Ukraine (Nazis) v. Russia war which will soon result in corrupt, small & poor Ukraine becoming even more hellish & backward), if you have any integrity left, I’d ask you to acknowledge that once you support genocide (as you admit you do) you are unworthy to even be called a “Liberal.” You are a Fascist & White Supremacist, based on the policies you support, just as much as both Biden & Trump are.

    If the “Overton Window” in this country has moved so far right that the Left, or “liberals” actively scold and demand that we all must SUPPORT genocide & the starvation & murder of civilian populations of women & children, the USA is NOT morally superior to Hitler’s Germany. It is equivalent.

    But continue to Punch Left and hate those of us who won’t support your beloved Uniparty. It pays the bills I’m sure. And you’re not important enough to be listed in the history books as someone who acted as a cheerleader for ethnic cleansing, apartheid, & genocide as you do in this article.

    The first letter to the editor I had published in the Reader denounced what I thought was your fellow columnist Drabnik’s false claims that Liberals are the real Fascists. Regretfully you have proven him partially correct.

    The rest of the world and history will dump the US Empire in the trash-can of history next to Nazi Germany, the North Koreans, the Burmese Junta, Pinochet’s Chile, Pol Pot’s regime, & settler-colonialist Israel. The US will be a Pariah State alongside the genocidal Israelis who we support while they slaughter the “human animals” Mr. Ben Gevir speaks of. The Military Industrial Complex owes you their thanks.

    From me, you only get contempt & shame (if you are even capable of that?) I won’t be reading you or the Reader in the future if this is the best that “Liberals” like you can do.

    Mark —-
    Location omitted

  14. Chuck Mire

    The shrinking “safe” areas of Gaza:

    (A well illustrated analysis that shows the lack of concern by Israel’s ultra right-wing government)

  15. Z

    Did War Pimp Zelensky play a tune on his piano for the Cattiest Bitch in the Senate? I’m sure Lindsey would appreciate it …

    Lindsey Graham pressures Kiev to increase mobilization. We need more people in the line,” he said

    Lindsey Graham, visiting Kyiv, urges Ukraine to pass mobilization law – The Washington Post


  16. Z

    Lady L would be hanging on every note …


  17. Z

    Got to respect the caginess of War Pimp Zelensky. He and his homie Yermak knew the best way to keep the U.S. invested in Ukraine, and money from the U.S. flowing to and through them two, was to hand the deeds to Ukraine over to Larry’s and Stanley’s Asset Inflation Factory BlackRock.

    “Our source in the OP said that Andrey Ermak flew to the USA to meet with the management of BlackRock, to whom he offered a full package of opportunities in Ukraine; we are ready to give up all strategic enterprises and land if the corporation helps to obtain a new package of military and financial assistance.”


  18. Feral Finster

    @Z: Meeting with BlackRock is smart, since donors are the ones who make the decisions in the US,

    Zelenskii does not care about Ukraine, as long as he can keep the war and the skim going.

  19. Z

    Feral Finster,

    I couldn’t agree more.

    There’s no entity better qualified to “influence” the skilled stockpickers who infest our rulers’ rigged obstacle course of a Congress than Larry’s and Stanley’s Asset Inflation Factory BlackRock.


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