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

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – May 14, 2023

by Tony Wikrent


Strategic Political Economy

Population Decline Will Change the World for the Better 

Stephanie Feldstein, May 4, 2023 [Scientific American, via Naked Capitalism 5-7-2023]

[TW: Feldstein’s article is representative of elite thinking on the issue of population growth, which is neo-Malthusian while straining to avoid the appearance of eugenics, which is considered very politically incorrect. Notably absent in this elite thinking is a sense of human purpose and even human grandeur, which used to be imparted by the ideology of civic republicanism before it was smothered by liberalism. Basically, human purpose should be to uplift and better the condition of all human beings, economically, materially, and culturally—in short, to build civilization. This does not mean humanity has absolute dominion to use and exploit nature at will. Rather, the human purpose includes a stewardship over nature: to continually explore and investigate nature and advance our understanding of nature, so that our use of nature and our relationship to nature become ever more aligned with the laws of nature. We know now that certain elements are toxic—in the 1950s, radium dosages were acceptable as a means of treating certain skin conditions, and widespread use and discharge of lead caused no concern. We also now realize that liberalism as political economy violates a number of laws of social science (very well documented in the 2009 book by Kate Pickett and Richard G. Wilkinson, The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better.) Fieldstone reflects some of these lingering ideas of civic republicanism when she writes:

Governments must invest in health care, support caregivers, help people who want to work longer do so, and redesign communities to meet the housing, transportation and service needs of older people. We need to move our economy toward one where people and nature can thrive. That means managing consumption, prioritizing social and environmental welfare over profits, valuing cooperation and recognizing the need for a range of community-driven solutions. These practices already exist—in mutual-aid programs and worker-owned cooperatives—but they must become the foundation of our economy rather than the exception.

We also need to bring together the reproductive rights and gender equity movements, and the environmental movement. Environmental toxicity, reproductive health and wildlife protection are deeply intertwined. Pollution, climate change and degraded ecosystems harm pregnant people, fetuses and children, and make it difficult to raise safe and healthy families.

Benjamin Franklin wrote that he was greatly influenced by Cotton Mather’s 1710 tract Bonifacius: Essays to Do Good.

There needs abundance to be done, that the Miseries of the World may have Remedies and Abatements provided for them; and that miserable people may be Relieved and Comforted. The world has according to the Computation of Some, above Seven hundred millions of people now Living in it. What an ample Field among all these, to Do Good upon! In a word, The Kingdom of God in the World, Calls for Innumerable Services from us. To Do SUCH THINGS is to Do Good. Those men Devise Good, who Shape any DEVICES to do Things of Such a Tendency; whether the Things be of a Spiritual Importance, or of a Temporal. You see, Sirs, the General matter, appearing as Yet, but as a Chaos, which is to be wrought upon. Oh! that the Good Spirit of God may now fall upon us, and carry on the Glorious work which lies before us!

This is the component of civic republicanism that modern proponents, such as Arendt, Rawls, and Skinner overlook: the positive requirement to do good. Or as Franklin summarized these ideas in his 1743 A PROPOSAL for Promoting USEFUL KNOWLEDGE among the British Plantations in America (pdf), the aim of a citizens is to “Ease” the condition of their fellow human beings, “and afford Leisure to cultivate the finer Arts and improve the common Stock of Knowledge.”]


(Anti)Republican Party debt charade

What the Debt Limit Fight Is Actually About 

Jon Schwarz [The Intercept, via Naked Capitalism 5-8-2023]

Why the Debt-Ceiling is Unconstitutional

Laurence Tribe [New York Times, via The Big Picture 5-12-2023]

The president should remind Congress and the nation, “I’m bound by my oath to preserve and protect the Constitution to prevent the country from defaulting on its debts for the first time in our entire history.” Above all, the president should say with clarity, “My duty faithfully to execute the laws extends to all the spending laws Congress has enacted, laws that bind whoever sits in this office — laws that Congress enacted without worrying about the statute capping the amount we can borrow.”

This Is What Would Happen if Biden Ignores the Debt Ceiling and Calls McCarthy’s Bluff 

Robert Hockett, May 9, 2023 [New York Times]

Finally, even the serious prospect of U.S. default would quickly raise debt-servicing costs, rendering our deficit larger than it currently is — a consequence dramatically at odds with Republicans’ professed concerns about tying the debt ceiling hike to massive budget cuts.

It almost makes you think that fiscal responsibility isn’t what House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s caucus really wants….

But only the beginnings. The president’s multiple arguments would be compelling, and the markets, in any case, are already pricing in worries of this sort. The prospect of an end to the too-often threatened fiscal terrorism that is debt ceiling gamesmanship, moreover, would surely be more welcome to the markets than would be continued hostage taking and associated uncertainty of the kind that Republicans now regularly impose on the nation and its creditors….

Will invoking the 14th Amendment amount to a constitutional crisis, as Ms. Yellen suggested this week? Not really. For one thing, as noted above, there are multiple grounds upon which Republican hostage taking on the debt ceiling is contrary to law, and not all of them implicate the Constitution. For another thing — and, in my view, yet more important — the present issue is not really a legal issue pitting the president against Congress.

The current debt ceiling nonsense is a case of one faction of Congress being pitted against Congress itself. Our legally contracted debt is congressionally legislated debt; refusal to pay on this debt boils down to the House Republican faction refusing to pay what Congress itself has mandated we pay.

[TW: Surprisingly, the Cato Institute is in general agreement: ]


Is the Debt Ceiling Unconstitutional? What about Default?

First, duly enacted appropriations are legally the counterpart of “public debt … authorized by law.” Second, default on public debt, like repudiation, casts doubt on the debt’s “validity,” and therefore is unconstitutional under the Public Debt Clause. Third, a congressional ban on all funding sources to pay principal and interest would lead ineluctably to default, and is thus unconstitutional as well. But fourth, a debt ceiling that forecloses only one source of funding, leaving open several alternative sources, passes constitutional muster. On the other hand, if default loomed because Congress and the president were unable to agree on a solution, I believe the president would be justified in breaching the debt ceiling.

The Debt Limit and the Constitution: How the Fourteenth Amendment Forbids Fiscal Obstructionism

Jacob D. Charles [62 Duke Law Journal 1227-1266 (2013)]

US debt ceiling crisis can be explained in three words: Marjorie Taylor Greene

Rex Huppke, May 3, 2023 [USA TODAY, via The Big Picture 5-7-2023]

Raising the debt ceiling has never been a big deal when there’s a Republican in the White House

Republicans in Congress raised it three times under President Donald Trump without issue, even as Trump was adding nearly $7.8 trillion to the national debt. It’s a dumb and dangerous cudgel being swung about by lummoxes who don’t care if others get hurt….

These are not serious people. They are opportunistic destroyers of logic, and Biden should not negotiate with them over something that has always gotten done in the past and absolutely has to be done now.

Fatuous nonsense

digby, May 12, 2023 [Hullabaloo]

Kaitlin Collins:You once said that using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge just could not happen. You said that when you were in the oval office.

Donald Trump: That’s when I was president

Collins: So why is it different now, when you’re out of office?

Trump: Because now I’m not president

Raucous laughter and applause from the cult.

I’ll just leave that there for you to ponder. This is what passes for serious political discourse on the right. Here;s a member of Trump’s braintrust pretty much saying the same thing:

“Former Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow says, “I just don’t buy these horrific scenarios” about the debt ceiling. “If, you know, if an interest rate payment was 10 days late, and the price of that would be a major, major spending reduction, it probably would be a good idea.” “

This is drastically different from where Kudlow was back when he was in government, and told Fox News Radio in 2019: “We can’t have a default, Brian [Kilmeade]. That would just a monkey wrench into the financial world and the economy.”

Why Is Biden Scared of the Most Logical Solution to Debt Ceiling Insanity?

Jason Linkins, May 13, 2023 [The New Republic]

…as TNR contributor Tom Geoghegan has explained at length, the Founders would have rejected the modern-day notion of a “debt ceiling” outright, so anything that defuses or abolishes it is on safe grounds.

But the biggest thing you need to know about the debt ceiling is that it’s fake. It’s not an actual thing. It didn’t exist until 1917, when it was created specifically for the purpose of funding America’s involvement in World War I. It was extended to government debt broadly in 1939, and thus became a political football. For decades, members of Congress have marked the occasion of raising the ceiling with grandstanding speeches about the other side’s spending priorities….

Two things changed to bring us to the point of crisis. First, President Obama made the fateful decision to use a debt ceiling deadline to invite bipartisan budget negotiations. This coincided with the Republican Party’s shift from a loyal opposition party to a gang of rabid extremists who will treat every debt ceiling deadline under a Democratic president as an opportunity to take hostages.

The Judicial Deus Ex Machina Debt Ceiling Option

David Dayen, May 12, 2023 [The American Prospect]

…a bondholder would be an ideal plaintiff to sue Janet Yellen for refusing to pay legally obligated debt, in violation of the 14th Amendment clause that “the validity of the public debt … shall not be questioned.” So far, a litigant in that predicament has not stepped forward, but the National Association of Government Employees (NAGE) has. If they succeed, the waiting game that Yellen and Biden have said precludes them from taking unilateral action would be turned on its head; the courts will have issued a ruling that the government must repay these previously incurred debts.

It’s rather incredible for unions and liberals to be counting on the conservative judiciary to bail the Democratic president out of a hostage-taking event from House Republicans. But if the case advances through Massachusetts district judge Richard G. Stearns—a Clinton appointee—to whom it has been filed, and to the Supreme Court, John Roberts and his colleagues would have to decide whether they want to be the sole reason that America enters financial collapse. In terms of political tactics, this seems smart enough—it would be a difficult position for them to take.

But is the current NAGE case, the only one on the docket at the moment, the right vehicle for this effort? Let’s read the complaint, which is only 11 pages. The plaintiffs actually don’t merely invoke the 14th Amendment, but rather offer a number of constitutional grounds for the courts to latch onto in ruling the 1917 debt ceiling statute unconstitutional.


Savvy Beltway Reporters’ Debt Ceiling Duplicity

Ryan Cooper, May 11, 2023 [The American Prospect]

As we have pointed out over and over again, Republicans are making aggressive, hyper-ideological demands to harm the country if they don’t get their ransom, despite holding just one branch of Congress—sweeping spending cuts, work requirements for Medicaid, repeal of the core of President Biden’s climate bill, and more. In 2019, by contrast, House Democrats conducted ordinary budget negotiations in which both sides got a little something they wanted, and then threw in a debt ceiling increase because it would be needed anyway.

For the situations to actually be comparable, Democrats would have had to make similarly extreme demands—say, Medicare for All, repeal of the Trump tax cuts, free postal banking, and a pony for every child under 11—with the explicit threat that otherwise the global economy gets it.

Twelve Years of Being the Most Responsible Guy in the Room

David Dayen, May 10, 2023 [The American Prospect]

In 2011, for the first time ever, Barack Obama knowingly used the debt ceiling as a way to begin negotiations on a “grand bargain” on deficits and debt. Most observers conclude that it didn’t work out, thanks mainly to Republican Tea Partiers rejecting tax increases. But we ended up with protracted austerity in the form of across-the-board sequestration cuts and the lowest level of public investment since Eisenhower, which prolonged the agony of the recovery from the Great Recession.

The sad spectacle accomplished something else. It set a precedent, among policymakers and especially the media, that the debt ceiling in divided government was a time for negotiation and compromise. It legitimized the hostage-taking event. The way the debt ceiling is covered now, chiding Biden’s previous stance of no negotiations as “increasingly untenable,” flows right from the 2011 standard.

Of course, that standard is only applicable when the divided government involves a Democratic president and Republicans in some leverage position in Congress. In 2019, under a Trump administration and a Democratic House, Democrats—proudly—did not demand the rollback of the Trump tax cuts, more spending on social programs, or new rules favoring renewable energy in exchange for enabling continued federal borrowing. That’s because Democrats in Washington like nothing more than being seen as respectable. And when Democrats have the White House, they’ll “do the right thing” by defusing the debt ceiling time bomb, which comes down to negotiating the terms of the ransom. Random Democratic frontliners have been calling for negotiations for several days now.




Taiwan Will Defend TSMC From US Bombing in the Event of a China War 

[Tom’s Hardware, via Naked Capitalism 5-10-2023]

How the U.S. Is Trying to Block China’s Control of Ports Around the Globe 

[Wall Street Journal, via Naked Capitalism 5-12-2023]

“Those Who Do Not Learn History Are Doomed to Repeat It” 

Larry Johnson [via Naked Capitalism 5-10-2023]

Americans do not care because they did not pay a steep price in helping bring down Hitler. Just the opposite. America prospered and became the Supreme Global power thanks to the decimation visited on Europe… But the fact was that very few families in America experienced the loss of a loved one who fought in either the European, North African or Pacific theaters. America got back to business and the memory of World War II fades into oblivion as the few surviving soldiers, sailors, marines and air men succumb to the ravages of time.

Who remembers? The nations and peoples who paid the most blood and who endured the most pain, that is who. Between China and Russia, as many as 56 million of their soldiers and civilians perished in that conflict. At least 26 million Russians at the hands of the Nazis while as many as 30 million Chinese were exterminated by Japanese soldiers. Those are staggering numbers and Americans simply have nothing in their experience to be able to grasp the magnitude of such losses. That is why Russia remembers and the grand children and great grandchildren of Soviet soldiers still march once a year carrying placard with the photos of their courageous ancestor. War on the scale experienced by Russia between 1941 and 1945 made an indelible tattoo, carved with blood on the soul of all Russians.

The failure of American politicians and the average citizen to understand this profound fact helped create the war in Ukraine. From the U.S. standpoint expanding NATO to the borders of Russia was just an administrative move. But Russia, who has experience multiple invasions from the West during the last 230 years, sees such decisions as an existential threat.

The ultimate Blob blind spot 

Robert Wright [Nonzero Newsletter, via Naked Capitalism 5-13-2023]

If you had to come up with a grand unified theory of US foreign policy failures—isolate a single meta-failure that underlies all or at least most of them—a good candidate would be cognitive empathy deficit. US foreign policy elites seem to have trouble understanding how people abroad view the world.

So, for example, these elites have been known to assume that American troops would be greeted as liberators in countries that wind up making the troops feel intensely unwelcome. Or, to take a current example: Many in the foreign policy establishment have been surprised at the number of world leaders who refuse to join America in sanctioning and condemning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. (Two-thirds of the world’s people, according to the Economist, live in one of the dozens of countries that either support Russia or are neutral.)

So it is cause for celebration when the most elite of all US foreign policy journals—Foreign Affairs—makes a concerted effort to address cognitive empathy deficit. The current issue features no fewer than five essays that aim to illuminate the perspective of “the nonaligned world”—nations that have refused to rally around the US effort in Ukraine or have refused, more broadly, to choose sides in the intensifying struggle between the West and its big adversaries, China and Russia….

Our “rules based order” allows us to inflict mayhem when and where we please, because it doesn’t involve the consistent application of rules. It’s an “order” that camouflages the pursuit of US interests as the US (however confusedly) conceives of them. And people in the “nonaligned world” see this—which helps explain why they’re not signing onto our mission.

The people who don’t see it are the people responsible for it: US foreign policy elites. So their failure to understand the motivations of other world actors is sometimes intertwined with, and in a sense rooted in, a failure to understand their own motivations—the ultimate blind spot.


The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

ALEC’s State Ratings Favor Corporate Policy Wish-List Over Quality of Life 

[Center for Media and Democracy, via Naked Capitalism 5-11-2023]


[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 5-9-2023]


Your boss wants AI to replace you. The writers’ strike shows how to fight back

[Los Angeles Times, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 5-12-2023]

“One of those workers put it to me bluntly on the picket line, where screenwriters were protesting, among other things, the entertainment industry’s openness to using artificial intelligence to churn out scripts: ‘F— ChatGPT.’ But it’s not just screenwriters — the movement includes illustrators, freelance writers and digital content creators of every stripe. ‘Every day,’ the artist and activist Molly Crabapple tells me, ‘another place that used to hire human artists has filled the spot with schlock from [AI image generator] Midjourney. If illustrators want to remain illustrators in two years, they have to fight now.’ Each week brings more companies announcing they will replace jobs with AI, Twitter threads about departments that have been laid off, and pseudo-academic reports about how vulnerable millions of livelihoods are to AI. So, from labor organizing to class-action lawsuits to campaigns to assert the immorality of using AI-generated works, there’s an increasingly aggressive effort taking shape to protect jobs from being subsumed or degraded by AI. Their core strategies include refusing to submit to the idea that AI content generation is “the future,” mobilizing union power against AI exploitation, targeting copyright violations with lawsuits and pushing for industrywide bans against the use of cheap AI material. They’re just getting started. And for the sake of everyone who is not a corporate executive, a middle manager or an AI startup founder, we’d better hope it works. Whose future does AI really serve? The answer to that is ‘Big Tech’ and, to a lesser degree, your boss.’”

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 5-12-2023]


Big Food Raking in Huge Profits From Price Hikes as US Hunger Persists: Analysis

Jessica Corbett [Common Dreams, via Naked Capitalism 5-11-2023]


Threat to the republic

Why the super rich are inevitable 

[The Pudding, via Naked Capitalism 5-7-2023]

In 2002, physicist Anirban Chakraborti published a paper that laid out the Yard-sale model – the simulation we played in the introduction….

This is the crux of the Yard-sale model. In a free market, one person ends up with all of the wealth – completely by chance.

This is completely counterintuitive. If everyone wins half their games, everyone should end up approximately where they started, around $1,000.

In other words, the Yard-sale model can’t really inform specific policy decisions since it doesn’t capture the complex variables in the economy.

But it can be useful as a way to think about the general “trickle-up” characteristics of a free market. It’s contrary to what many conservative politicians have argued for decades – that wealth trickles downward. They’ve said the government should just get out of the way to let the wealthy create jobs for the rest of us. This ideology has led to massive tax cuts for the rich, from Ronald Reagan’s tax cut in 1981 to Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cut.

In his 2002 paper on this model, Chakraborti wrote, “[Wealth concentration] can be prevented, for example, by government intervention via taxes.”…..

  • For a more in-depth but still accessible explanation of the model, read Tufts University math professor Bruce M. Boghosian in Scientific American.

Hannah Gadsby Addresses Sackler Ties to Their Brooklyn Museum Show: “There’s a Problem with Money in the Art World” 


“Last month, the Brooklyn Museum announced that comedian Hannah Gadsby, whose 2018 Netflix special memorably skewered the male-centric art canon, had been tapped to co-curate an exhibition on Pablo Picasso. This week, Gadsby addressed a controversy trailing the upcoming show—the museum’s lingering ties to the infamous Sackler family. ‘I’m doing a show at the Brooklyn Museum. There’s one Sackler on the board [trustee emerita Elizabeth A. Sackler]. We vetted this. Apparently, they’ve separated their earning streams from the problematic one,’ Gadsby told Variety. ‘I mean, take that with a grain of salt. Doesn’t matter what cultural institution you work with in America, you’re going to be working with billionaires and there’s not a billionaire on this planet that is not fucked up. It is just morally reprehensible.’ Gadsby, who uses they/them pronouns, added, ‘I was assured that they’d separated from the opioids strain. That’s where it lands. I don’t see it as a clean win-win. That’s for sure, but I’m not sure how to navigate this world.’” More: “They continued: “There’s an elephant in the room [with Elizabeth A. Sackler], yeah. There’s a problem with money in the art world, generally. That also is part of my perspective on Picasso. Like, is he a hero, or is he just worth a lot of money?’”


Health care crisis

Bring Back the Public Option! 

Ross Barkan [New York Magazine, via Naked Capitalism 5-8-2023]

[TW: Inlcuded not for Barkan’s article, but for Lambert Strether’s comment: “A hardy perennial: “Barack Obama lost a large House majority after the passage of the Affordable Care Act.” “After,” forsooth. What caused Obama’s loss was his miserably inadequate handling of the contemporaneous foreclosure crisis.”]

Health Insurance Claim Denied? See What Insurers Said Behind the Scenes 

[Pro Publica, via Naked Capitalism 5-11-2023]

“Learn how to request your health insurance claim file, which can include details about what your insurer is saying about you and your case.” News you can use!

Saving Lives and Making a Killing 

New York Review of Books. L 5-10

For financial investors, the beauty of the drug…was that even though the drug worked, it didn’t work too well. Ibrutinib was not a magic bullet cure. The cancer was never fully cleared from the blood and rarely went away completely…. Patients would need to take a pill once a day, every day, for a long time—years….

The analysts [at banks and hedge funds] took the relatively large number of CLL patients and multiplied it by the sky-high price that similar cancer drugs commanded in the market. Then they tried to estimate how long those patients would continue taking the drug. The analysts figured the drug could generate billions of dollars.

“We Want Them Infected”

[bioethics today, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 5-9-2023]

“During a raging pandemic with a brand-new virus, influential doctors from prominent universities advocated for the mass infection of unvaccinated youth in the failed hopes of achieving herd immunity. In an effort to unpack this physician-led misinformation disaster, I recently published a book titled ‘We Want Them Infected.‘ I catalog how vocal physicians from prominent universities embraced the anti-vaccine movement in the failed quest for herd immunity and blinded Americans to the threat of COVID. The book title’s four words, we want them infected, come not from some random crackpot, but from Dr. Paul Alexander, an epidemiologist and official in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the Trump administration. On July 4, 2020, before anyone had been vaccinated, he said: “Infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle-aged with no conditions, etc. have zero to little risk….so we use them to develop herd [immunity]…we want them infected….” Dr. Alexander avoided euphemisms and spoke in plain language. His stated plan was to use unvaccinated young people as human shields to open everything up and ‘protect the vulnerable’ via ‘natural immunity.’”

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 5-9-2023]


“Air Distribution — Fans, Personal HEPA Filters, Plexiglass & Short Range Transmission”

Joey Fox [It’s Airborne, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 5-11-2023]

“You can supply clean air to a space, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that people will be breathing it in. It’s possible the air will never make it into their breathing zone. Air distribution deals with how well that clean air is supplied throughout the space. It can also refer to issues of dead-spots — places within the zone where the air is not well mixed and the concentration of pollutants is higher. While there are different types of air distribution systems, the vast majority are mixing ventilation systems and consequently, I will be dealing with mixing ventilation systems in this post. The goal is for all the clean air and pollutants to be evenly distributed throughout the space. If this doesn’t happen, the concentration of pollutants will be higher in some parts of the space and they will pose an increased risk to anyone located there.”

CDC sets first target for indoor air ventilation to prevent spread of Covid-19 

[CNN. ASHRAE too (PDF), via Naked Capitalism 5-13-2023]



Auto Claim Severity Up 35% over Pre-Pandemic Rates – LexisNexis Report 

[Insurance Journal, via Naked Capitalism 5-13-2023]

“Motorists are driving like the roads are still empty.

[Lambert Strether has been highlighting this sort of news and suggesting it reflects the cascading disabling of the general population from long COVID.]

Medical Mysteries Are the New True Crime

Eleanor Cummins,  May 11, 2023 [The New Republic]

…patients with chronic health issues, including long Covid, chronic Lyme, and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, have found themselves thrust into a debate about whether their conditions exist at all. For these individuals, the medical establishment often provides few answers and even less guidance. By necessity, the patient becomes their own detective.

Meghan O’Rourke, a regular contributor to The New Yorker and The Atlantic, has been investigating her own symptoms for a decade, a search culminating in The Invisible Kingdom. Cheryl Strayed has observed that Porochista Khakpour’s 2018 Sick—her account of life with chronic Lyme—“reads like a mystery.” In her 2021 book, The Lady’s Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness, Sarah Ramey writes that she “Miss Marpled for my life” after a botched procedure left her “undead.” In her new book A Matter of Appearance, Emily Wells likens her body to an “escape room” she can’t quite solve. Allison Behringer’s confessional, critically acclaimed podcast Bodies (tagline: “a show about people solving the mysteries of their bodies”) is now in its fourth season. And sickfluencers dominate TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. Everyone is their own cold case, waiting impatiently to be solved….

But for many, to become chronically ill is to become a stranger to oneself. The patient is robbed of their identity (“I’ve had my entire adult life stolen by an invisible and malicious leviathan,” Ramey writes). They feel they have been left for dead (“I settled into life as a young woman in mourning for her body,” Wells recalls).

Children and Youth Nearly Twice as Likely to Die in the South as in New England 

[CEPR, via Naked Capitalism 5-12-2023]

Mass Incarceration’s Impact on US Life Expectancy

Fred Clasen-Kelly [KFF Health News, via Naked Capitalism 5-9-2023]

A major reason the U.S. trails other developed countries in life expectancy is because it has more people behind bars and keeps them there far longer, said Chris Wildeman, a Duke University sociology professor who has researched the link between criminal justice and life expectancy.

“It’s a health strain on the population,” Wildeman said. “The worse the prison conditions, the more likely it is incarceration can be tied to excess mortality.”

Mass incarceration has a ripple effect across society.

Incarcerated people may be more susceptible than the general population to infectious diseases such as Covid and HIV that can spread to loved ones and other community members once they are released. The federal government has also failed to collect or release enough information about deaths in custody that could be used to identify disease patterns and prevent fatalities and illness inside and outside of institutions, researchers said.

Over a 40-year span starting in the 1980s, the number of people in the nation’s prisons and jails more than quadrupled, fueled by tough-on-crime policies and the war on drugs.

America Has Decided That Homeless People Aren’t People

[Vice, via Naked Capitalism 5-10-2023]

Disrupting mainstream economics

Almost Every Powerful Economist We Have Went to 1 of 6 Schools. That’s Not Great! 

[Slate, via The Big Picture 5-12-2023]

New research shows how narrow the field of American economics has become…. the “oligopoly” at the heart of the economics profession, which channels power to a handful of institutions and marginalizes thousands of economists working outside them. Graduates of these institutions are vastly overrepresented at one another’s universities, dominate the leadership of the American Economic Association, monopolize the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, and receive most of the field’s top honors. The result is an old boys’ network that limits the development of knowledge and illustrates the severity of America’s obsession with top universities, even among academics who preach the importance of competitive markets.

“Economics is a hierarchical, oligopolistic scientific field,” says Andrej Svorenčík, an economist at the University of Pennsylvania who recently co-authored a paper on this phenomenon with Hoover, now a professor at Duke University….

Hoover and Svorenčík’s paper examines the leadership of the American Economic Association, the profession’s powerful governing body. According to their research, since 1985 almost 70 percent of the leadership of the AEA have been doctoral graduates of Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago, or Stanford University—a staggering overrepresentation, given that around 150 American universities grant doctorates in economics.

But the dominance of graduates from these institutions is not limited to the AEA. It also extends to economics’ most prestigious prizes. Sixty-five percent of Nobel laureates in economics since 2000 received their Ph.D. from one of the world’s top six universities for the study: Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Princeton, Chicago, and the University of California, Berkeley. That dominance is even more pronounced for the Clark Medal, or “baby Nobel”: 83 percent of medalists since 2000 received their Ph.D. from Harvard, MIT, or Stanford.

The Right And Wrong Ways To Interview Elite Economists 

[Revolving Door Project Newsletter, via Naked Capitalism 5-13-2023]

In a recent interview with Former Treasury Secretary and frequent austerity pundit Larry Summers, tech journalist Kara Swisher finally asked what we at the Revolving Door Project have been beseeching the media to spotlight for months. To Summers’ clear displeasure, Swisher asked why he has been so comfortable legitimizing the fraudulent cryptocurrency industry.

Restoring balance to the economy

Reparations panel, in historic vote, proposes payments, reforms and apology for Black Californians

[LA Times, via Naked Capitalism 5-7-2023]


Climate and environmental crises

In Norway, the Electric Vehicle Future Has Already Arrived

[New York Times, via The Big Picture 5-10-2023]

About 80 percent of new cars sold in Norway are battery-powered. As a result, the air is cleaner, the streets are quieter and the grid hasn’t collapsed. But problems with unreliable chargers persist.

“Carbon Capture Is Hard. This Plant Shows Why”

[Wall Street Journal, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 5-12-2023]

“Only one commercial power plant in North America is currently operating with carbon capture. Its experience hasn’t been as smooth—or climate-friendly—as proponents of the rules might hope. That plant, the Boundary Dam Power Station Unit 3 in Canada’s Saskatchewan province, turns locally mined coal into enough electricity for 100,000 homes…. One of the plant’s generating units is outfitted with a $1.1 billion carbon-capture system, which utility officials say is now collecting around 80% of the unit’s carbon-dioxide emissions—some 875,000 metric tons in the past year…. The destination for all that captured carbon dioxide isn’t particularly green. Three-quarters of it is pumped underground to squeeze more oil out of a field 36 miles away operated by a different company—a solution that only adds to the problem of global greenhouse emissions. The rest of the captured carbon is stored nearby in an underground geologic formation. The unit is designed to operate until 2044, but Boundary Dam’s owner, SaskPower, says the benefits of operating a coal-fired power unit using carbon-capture technology are becoming less apparent. ‘Utility operators in the United States will be in the same boat as we are,’ said Rupen Pandya, president and chief executive of SaskPower. ”

The U.S. Needs To Double The Size Of Its Energy Grid


Collapse of independent news media

Judgment Day Has Arrived for the Journalism Business 

[The Honest Broker, via Naked Capitalism 5-7-2023]

Facebook and other social media sites eventually discovered that people clicked on these links, but didn’t spent much time with the Upworthy articles—and rarely gave them likes and shares.

The stories just weren’t very good—and certainly not as interesting as the headlines. So the algorithms started to punish clickbait articles of this sort.

The Upworthy empire collapsed as quickly as it had risen.

In retrospect, the problem with this gimmicky strategy is obvious. If you trick people into clicking on garbage, your metrics are impressive for a few months. But eventually people can smell the garbage without even clicking on it.

There’s also a deeper reason for this collapse—which I’ll get to in a moment.

‘Celebrity Nation’: New Book Tracks How Celebrity Worship Took Over in the United States 

Landon Jones, May 1, 2023 [Teen Vogue, via Naked Capitalism 5-7-2023]

Like many of us, I used to think that celebrity culture was an amusing diversion — sometimes intriguing, often superficial, but not harmful. But that was before, as a founding editor of People magazine in 1974, I watched the celebrity state morph into a vast profit-generating enterprise we can think of as the celebrity-industrial complex.  When I started writing for People, the other journalists in the Time-Life Building saw it as a déclassé distraction from the important issue-raising they were doing for the nation every week. But by October 1975, People was selling a million copies a week on newsstands, and by 1980, the weekly circulation was 2.5 million copies. When John Lennon died, the issue with his photo on the cover sold 2.6 million copies. We had conclusively legitimized a new genre: celebrity journalism, a name that once sounded like a contradiction in terms….

… Celebrity worship has become a disorienting force, hurting not only celebrities but the nation as a whole. This isn’t to say you can’t be obsessed with your favorite musician and also organize around issues that matter to you. But it’s where fandom tips into obsession that the risks become more clear.

Here, drawing on my book, Celebrity Nation: How America Evolved into a Culture of Fans and Followers, are five ways that celebrity worship hurts us all.

BuzzFeed’s Jonah Peretti and Gawker’s Nick Denton on why the 2010s digital media boom went bust

[Vox, via The Big Picture 5-8-2023]

A conversation with two media pioneers — plus Ben Smith, whose new book chronicles their rise and fall.


Information age dystopia
/ surveillance state

Everything Google Announced About AI, Bard, and PaLM 2 at I/O 2023 

[Gizmodo, via Naked Capitalism 5-11-2023]

The future of search: [Screenshot of new Google “search” results generated by AI]

So now “search results” means a paragraph of bullshit, instead of something I can check? This really is taking putative PMC authority to new heights! Of course, the beauty part of all this is that Google hoovered up the Intertubes for its training sets — theft of intellectual property on a breathtaking scale — and gives nothing back to those who created the content it stole. No more links! (And don’t try to tell me about the little images at right; that looks like existing Google machinery, which is also crap, besides being an inefficient use of space put beside a simple list of links.) Whatever this is, it’s not search. Except for profits, of course.

Cory Doctorow Explains Why Big Tech Is Making the Internet Terrible 

[Jacobin, via Naked Capitalism 5-10-2023]

Amazon Is Being Flooded with Books Written Entirely by AI

[Futurism, via Naked Capitalism 5-10-2023]

Pearson Taking Legal Action Over Use of Its Content To Train Language Models 

[The Standard, via Naked Capitalism 5-10-2023]

Artist sues AI generators for allegedly using work to train image bots: ‘industrial-level identity theft’ 

[FOX, via Naked Capitalism 5-11-2023]

[TW: It used to be, ages ago, before civic republicanism was smothered by liberalism, most business leaders felt a strong moral obligation to share the wealth they had been charged to be stewards of. Railroad annual reports from the 1840s and 1850s are incredibly different than any corporate reports today, with obvious solicitude by executives for being good stewards of the community’s wealth. In 1955, Jonas Salk famously refused to patent his polio vaccine, explicitly explaining his desire was to maximize its distribution not just nationally, but also globally. During the design and construction of Disneyland, Walt Disney personally queried Ed Morgan and Karl Bacon of Arrow Development Co. to make sure they were making a profit on their contracts to design and build the amusement rides (see Robert Reynolds, Roller Coasters, Flumes and Flying Saucers, The Story of Ed Morgan and Karl Bacon, Ride Inventors of the Modern Amusement Parks, 1999, Northern Lights Publishing). My favorite example is Burgmaster, as told by Max Holland in his book, When the Machine Stopped: A Cautionary Tale from Industrial America. Burgmaster was the largest USA machine tool builder west of the Mississippi, with its industry leading numerically controlled turret drills and lathes. Holland’s father was a machinist at Burgmaster and consequently enjoyed access to dozens of former factory floor workers. The story they tell has no similarity to the exploitative economics described by Marx (a good short summary of Marxist economics is provided by British activist Chris Nineham in The great denial: Why they don’t want us to talk about class)—until, that is, Burgmaster is taken over and looted by Houdaille in one of the first leveraged buyouts. Houdaille in turn was acquired and squeezed dry by the infamous predatory LBO “boutique” Kohlberg, Kravis, and Roberts, which remains to this day a noxious multi-million dollar supporter of the USA (Anti)Republican Party. The story of Burgmaster’s industrial murder by financial predators is a case study in how the USA industrial base created by civic republicanism was dismantled and shuttered by liberalism increasingly unmoored from any sense of responsibility to community.]

Report on the Censorship-Industrial Complex: The Top 50 Organizations to Know 

[Racket News, via Naked Capitalism 5-12-2023]

[Lambert Strether advises: “Must read, grab a cup of coffee, and keep it well away from your screen.”]

Great chart (click for full size)

Why Disinformation and Misinformation Are More Dangerous Than Malware

[PC Mag, via The Big Picture 5-8-2023]

Combatting misinformation and disinformation online is no easy task, but the cybersecurity community needs to fight it anyway, experts argue at RSAC 2023.

Jack Dorsey Has a Lot to Say, Including About Elon Musk and Twitter

[New York Times, via The Big Picture 5-9-2023]

The Twitter co-founder has posted prolifically on two new social networks, Nostr and Bluesky, which he also backed financially.


Democrats’ political malpractice

How Democratic insiders are thinking about 2024 

Ryan Grim, May 8, 2023

Big money made a big comeback in 2022 in Democratic politics, more than matching the surge in small dollar contributions that had been kicked off first by the Howard Dean campaign and then catapulted by Bernie Sanders back in 2015 and ‘16. The potential held within that political transformation was the subject of my last book, called We’ve Got People, which drew its title from a line from AOC, “They’ve got money, but we’ve got people.”

We still do have people, but they’ve got more and more money, and they’ve been increasingly willing to spend it bigly. One of the leaders of the big money counter revolution is not a household name. He’s a tech executive named Dmitri Mehlhorn, whose largest source of power comes from his connection to his college classmate Reid Hoffman, the billionaire founder of LinkedIn who was recently in the news for having financed E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit against Trump….

He has directed much of that money, in alliance with the group Democratic Majority for Israel, targeting progressive Democrats in primaries, burying them under an avalanche of Super PAC spending. I interviewed him for the most recent episode of my podcast Deconstructed, which came out this weekend. It’s a wide ranging conversation, and I suspect the rationale he lays out for his spending decisions will be deeply frustrating to many readers, though I think it’s important to understand what arguments are being made in meetings that we’re not invited to. This interview is a rare glimpse into that world. A transcript is below and you can also find it on any podcast platform — just search “Deconstructed.”….

DM: Ah, so, as a strategic — The only thing that I am focused on is making sure that Mr. Trump does not get another term of office. I believe that would be a catastrophic event…

RG: And to you, is this a momentary strategy to deal with an immediate threat? Or would you see this as kind of the basis for a political party to organize itself around?

DM: The former. There are a lot of people who believe — and you see it a lot — that Trump is a symptom, and that if we over focus on him, we will ignore the underlying disease. We are strongly in disagreement with that perspective. He is the disease….

…It is not merely that I am anti-fascist. I am currently professionally anti-fascist, but that is not the only thing I care about politically. I also am an extreme libertarian….

…The reason we invested in groups like the Mainstream Democrats, who elevated Shontel Brown over Nina Turner, is we believe that Nina Turner was actually training her fire on somebody other than Mr. Trump; specifically, Mr. Biden, who was actually the center of our team. So, our decision to start investing in groups like Mainstream Democrats is a relatively recent phenomenon, and it came up after the exposure of working with these groups.

So, beginning in 2017 and 2018, when we were experimenting with different approaches to defeating the Trumpist movement, we actually put considerable investments behind fairly aggressive leftist groups. We supported open Socialists, for example, in the 2017 Virginia House of Delegates races, and some of them won. And in the 2018 midterm, we supported Richard Ojeda and Krystal Ball and the People’s House Project. We supported the Progressive Campaign Change Committee. We were major early backers of Indivisible. We put a lot of money into these groups that anchored what is now seen as the left because we didn’t know, and frankly didn’t care, so long as they were on the same side.

What we observed through the evidence of watching different races and monitoring them is that the more extreme leftist position did worse in the elections. You know, going hard-left cost us about one or two percentage points, which is decisive in a lot of these races, number one. And number two, people on the left were extremely enthusiastic about taking the fight in terms of salience and issues, in a way that we found to be helpful to Mr. Trump and hurtful to Trump’s enemies. So, that’s why we have moved the way that we have….

And while Roe was law, the Republicans could basically run to gather the pro-life votes, and they could also appeal to that uncomfortable center. And they could even appeal to the pro-choice folks, because the pro-choice folks would know that Roe was a backstop. And so, if the pro-choice folks happened to agree with Republicans on some other issue, like economics, they could swallow the abortion thing because it wasn’t real. That’s what happened until Dobbs….

And when the Democrats were considering whether to do this kind of work on the Senate floor to expose the extremism in the Republican Party, they chose not to, because Democrats were concerned that Republicans would simply use this to de-extremize themselves. They would stand up and, you know, Adam Laxalt might say, “Oh, I would vote for that Schumer bill,” and therefore, Cortez Masto would not be able to use Dobbs against him. That was the theory.

And what I think that misunderstands is, it just doesn’t understand the way that politics has turned in the last few years. It is impossible, in my view, for Adam Laxalt, or any Republican, to disavow their extremists, because the extremists have become the critical part of their coalition. They control the state and local party, they cannot be disavowed. And so, if you go extreme, it’s not that, suddenly, they’re going to use your symbolic vote as a way to position themselves as moderates. They’re going to be screwed, unless we decline to take the option, which we did.

[TW: Dmitri Mehlhorn’s thinking is an excellent example of why I believe liberal Democrats are philosophically incapable of opposing conservatism and libertarianism. Mehlhorn argues Trump is the problem and strongly disagrees that “Trump is a symptom,” then a few minutes later argues that it is impossible for “any Republican, to disavow their extremists.” Without grounding in the philosophy of civic republicanism, with its emphasis on individual liberty counterbalanced by responsibility to community, liberals are left floundering when, for example, they try to justify restrictions on economic predation, such as leveraged buyouts, aka private equity, or cryptocurrencies. COVID put this into sharp focus: sustaining proper public health measures became impossible in the face of the liberal cult of individual liberty, of which libertarianism is only the logical extension of. See link below, How Ron DeSantis transformed into an anti-public health crusader. I think this also explains why Democrats today have barely moved the ball in forcing Clarence Thomas to resign, as compared to how Nixon and his rat-fuckers forced out Justice Abe Fortas in 1969.]


The (anti)Republican Party

Michelle Goldberg is a must-read today: Timothy McVeigh’s Dreams Are Coming True

xaxnar, May 9, 2023 [DailyKos]

Timothy McVeigh, the right-wing terrorist who killed 168 people in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, cared about one issue above all others: guns. To him, guns were synonymous with freedom, and any government attempt to regulate them meant incipient tyranny.

“When it came to guns,” writes Jeffrey Toobin in “Homegrown,” his compelling new book about the Oklahoma City attack, “McVeigh did more than simply advocate for his own right to own and use firearms; he joined an ascendant political crusade, which grew more extreme over the course of his lifetime and beyond.”

Reading Toobin’s book, it’s startling to realize how much McVeigh’s cause has advanced in the decades since his 2001 execution. McVeigh, who was a member of the K.K.K. and harbored a deep resentment of women, hoped that blowing up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building would inspire an army of followers to make war on the government. This didn’t happen immediately, although, as the historian Kathleen Belew has written, there was a wave of militia and white supremacist violence in the bombing’s aftermath. But today, an often-inchoate movement of people who share many of McVeigh’s views is waging what increasingly looks like a low-level insurgency against the rest of us.

The statements of McVeigh’s beliefs at the wikipedia entry on him sound all too familiar today to those now mainstreamed by Republicans and their media.

McVeigh wrote letters to local newspapers complaining about taxes. In 1992, he wrote:

Taxes are a joke. Regardless of what a political candidate “promises,” they will increase. More taxes are always the answer to government mismanagement. They mess up. We suffer. Taxes are reaching cataclysmic levels, with no slowdown in sight. […] Is a Civil War Imminent? Do we have to shed blood to reform the current system? I hope it doesn’t come to that. But it might.[29]

Dumbing Down Red-State Universities Will Provoke a Brain Drain

[Los Angeles Times, via The Big Picture 5-7-2023]

Universities in these states are on the glide path to uselessness, especially since the assault on higher education is unfolding in the same states that are at war with women’s reproductive health and voting rights. Already we have seen faculty candidates, college-age students and medical professionals checking these states off their lists. This trend is almost certain to get worse before it gets better as America devolves into two countries: one that nurtures brainpower, and one that watches proudly as it drains away.

The Texas GOP’s War on Renewable Energy

[Texas Monthly, via The Big Picture 5-13-2023]

What’s behind the Legislature’s relentless campaign against wind and solar power, which are saving Texans billions?

The doctors leaving anti-abortion states: ‘I couldn’t do my job at all’ 

[The Guardian, via The Big Picture 5-7-2023]

How Ron DeSantis transformed into an anti-public health crusader

DeSantis’s surgeon general is accused of manipulating data to justify an anti-vaccine agenda. How did we get here?  (Vox, via The Big Picture 5-9-2023]

The pro-Trump pastors embracing ‘overt white Christian nationalism’ 

[The Guardian, via The Big Picture 5-7-2023]

Group Pastors for Trump is drawing sharp rebukes from mainstream Christian leaders for being extremist, distorting religious teachings and endangering American democracy.


The (Anti)Federalist Society Infestation of the Courts

One very rich billionaire bought Supreme Court and made himself richer

Joan McCarter, May 12, 2023 [Daily Kos]

Last year, The New York Times broke a story about the largest nefarious dark money deal to date, a $1.6 billion transaction that gave arch-conservative activist Leonard Leo even more power to run the whole show on the right. The Times has a follow-up this week detailing where a small pot of that money has gone: to the vast web of dark money groups Leo controls, and back into his own pocket.

Marble Freedom Trust, the entity Leo created with that $1.6 billion, paid out $182.7 million in the first year, according to tax filings obtained by the liberal transparency group Accountable.US and shared with the Times. The Schwab Charitable Fund got $153.8 million and the Concord Fund, formerly known as the Judicial Crisis Network, got $28.9 million….

There’s no direct documentation showing what the two groups did with that $182.7 million but records from the groups show that the Schwab Fund gave $141.5 million to The 85 Fund during the same time frame. The 85 Fund, by the way, is another Leo project that in turn funds an entire network of groups Leo has set up. That includes the Honest Elections Project, a voter suppression campaign group. In 2021, The 85 Fund paid $21.75 million to the for-profit CRC Advisors consulting firm. Guess who runs it? If you guessed Leonard Leo, you’re catching on to how all this works.

Clarence Thomas Had a Child in Private School. Harlan Crow Paid the Tuition.

[ProPublica, via The Big Picture 5-7-2023]

Crow paid for private school for a relative Thomas said he was raising “as a son.” “This is way outside the norm,” said a former White House ethics lawyer.

Clarence Thomas Reversed Position After Gifts And Family Payments 

Julia Rock & Andrew Perez, May 9, 2023 [The Lever].

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas changed his position on one of America’s most significant regulatory doctrines after his wife reportedly accepted secret payments from a shadowy conservative network pushing for the change. Thomas’ shift also came while he was receiving lavish gifts from a billionaire linked to other groups criticizing the same doctrine — which is now headed back to the high court.

“The so-called ‘Chevron deference’ doctrine stipulates that the executive branch — not the federal courts — has the power to interpret laws passed by Congress in certain circumstances. Conservatives for years have fought to overturn the doctrine, a move that would empower legal challenges to federal agency regulations on everything from climate policy to workplace safety to overtime pay. Thomas wrote a landmark Supreme Court opinion upholding the doctrine in 2005, but began questioning it a decade later, before eventually renouncing his past opinion in 2020 and claiming that the doctrine itself might be unconstitutional. Now, Thomas could help overturn the doctrine in a new case the high court just agreed to hear next term. nGroups within the conservative legal movement funded by Leonard Leo’s dark money network and affiliated with Thomas’ billionaire benefactor Harlan Crow have organized a concerted effort in recent years to overturn Chevron. That campaign unfolded as they delivered gifts and cash to Thomas and his family in the lead-up to his shift on the doctrine.”

The Right’s War on Student Debtors May Cost Us All

Ryann Liebenthal, May 9, 2023 [The New Republic]


Open Thread


China Has A Huge Lead In Patents


  1. Willy

    As for population declines and humanity doing good…

    As a kid I’d wonder what the world would be like if we had neolithic populations but advanced technologies. Plus human malignancies were kept well-controlled so the rest of tiny-population humanity could just get on with our lives, coexisting well with nature and without all the nasty brutishness.

    But as I aged I slowly realized that most people don’t want to live that way. In fact, most people don’t even know how they want to live. They seem to need to be told. And these people are prime targets for malignant narcissists who become expert at exactly how, when, and where these untermensch will allow themselves to be used. And so we wind up with myriad definitions of “good”.

  2. anon y'mouse

    too many humans won’t make for more human purpose nor grandeur, and will likely continue to make for less equality.

    fewer humans would increase your “purpose” and grandeur, and possibly lead to more equality.

    as long as we remove the ideas about who should and should not breed (it should be a choice made as freely as possible) and as long as we envision lives that are about more than simply spawning seed (i note that many artists and intellectuals of all kinds have avoided doing that and they managed to find both purpose and grandeur, no?) and that each person has more of a contribution to make than simply genetic progeny, and stop tying ourselves in knots about the retirement ratio since technology allows us to produce sufficient necessary goods for all, i disclaim entirely your notion that to be anti-population growth and pro-decline makes me a misanthropic malthusian.

    but of course, you won’t bother to learn anything from what i’ve said. your mind is made up on that and all other issues. i make the statement so others can ponder these thoughts, and consider the many individuals who contributed to humanity without a single child birthed (or at least, a legal heir that anyone knows about).

  3. Laura

    Nixon and his rat-fuckers forced out Justice Abe Fortas in 1969

    Fortas was a rat-fucker himself, who destroyed a 200-year old American tradition that is directly in line with civic republicanism. This is a snippet from an Alison Weir piece I posted here recently:

    “The Supreme Court has handed down some significant decisions over the years related to Israel.

    One of these was in 1967, when an Israeli citizen brought a case before the Supreme Court that ended up changing a longstanding American tradition.

    A naturalized American named Beys Afroyim, who had then become an Israeli citizen, sought to overturn a law that prohibited dual citizenship. Afroyim, whose original name had been Ephraim Bernstein, was a member of the communist party who had fled the U.S., lived in Cuba for awhile, and then moved to Israel.

    While a previous lawsuit on behalf of a Mexican individual had failed, the Israeli lawsuit had a different fate. Although both the Washington DC District Court and the Court of Appeals had affirmed the U.S. law, the Supreme Court overturned their decisions and found in favor of the Israeli.

    The swing vote was cast by Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas, an Israel loyalist. The Jewish Press reports that Fortas “was an unabashed Israel supporter who influenced LBJ’s strong pro-Israel position during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War; as author/historian Laura Kalman aptly put it, he was ‘a Jew who cared more about Israel than Judaism.’”

    Author Donald Neff writes: “Among his first thoughts when he was unseated from the court had been to visit Israel. There was nothing wrong with that, obviously, but it did indicate an attachment of such personal importance that he should have recused himself from the dual citizenship case.”

    Neff concludes: “His action, along with four others on the court, had destroyed a 200-year tradition.” This occurred without the concurrence of the American people.

    Fortas was eventually forced to resign over allegations that he had accepted a bribe from his friend corporate raider Louis Wolfson to protect Wolfson from going to prison for stock manipulation. Wolfson was reportedly “a staunch benefactor of Jewish causes and of the state of Israel.” Wolfson also allegedly bribed radio host Larry King during the episode.

    (Fortas was also charged with being soft on pornography. Newsweek reports that the porn charge was “based in fact. Fortas was involved in several rulings that effectively legalized pornography.”)

    In “What Reagan Reads” published in the winter 1987/88 edition of Propaganda Review, Philip Paull reviews the manufacture of Ronald Reagan’s campaign against “international terrorism.” Reagan much preferred movies, television, and note cards to books, with a notable exception: Benjamin Netanyahu’s book “Terrorism: How the West Can Win”

    Paull documents the beginnings of the international “war on terror” as having taken place largely at the behest of Zionists, both in Israel and the United States. The plan was essentially announced at the Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism in 1979, convened by Netanyahu’s “private” foundation, The Jonathan Institute:

    “Within days of the close of the 1979 conference, a global media explosion on “international terrorism” began. The Jonathan Institute publication World Press Coverage boasted that “the major themes of the Conference were echoed in newspapers, magazines, radio, and television in many parts of the world…the Conference’s message penetrated into many of the leading newspapers and journals in the United States, Western Europe, South America, and elsewhere.”

    Eighteen months later, no one was unduly surprised when “international terrorism” became a centerpiece of the Reagan Administration’s foreign policy. In June 1984, a second Jonathan Institute conference was held in Washington, D.C., one result of which was Netanyahu’s “how-to” book.

    The 1984 conference was marked by Secretary of State George Shultz’s public acceptance of the Israeli “active strategy” against terrorism – according to which the best defense against terrorism is preemptive attack, even if it is unconstitutional and illegal.

    This was a coup for Netanyahu, who had worked hard to accomplish it as deputy to Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Moshe Arens.”

    This is Benjamin Netanyahu in 2001 talking about his inside knowledge of the US system. Based on intel Israel gets from its elephantine lobby apparatus, which function first and foremost as Israeli spy organizations – and a network of sayanim, including plenty of dual nationals – he can confidently say that America is a thing they can “move very easily.” Of course, he begins by talking about destroying the Palestinians:

    Nahum Goldmann, an arch Zionist who founded the World Jewish Congress with “reform” rabbi Stephen Wise and also served as president of the World Zionist Organization, wrote this in his 1915 book “The Spirit of Militarism:

    “The historical mission of our world revolution is to rearrange a new culture of humanity to replace the previous social system. This conversion and reorganisation of global society requires two essential steps, firstly the destruction of the old established order, secondly, the design and imposition of the new order, the first stage requires elimination of all frontier borders, nationhood and culture, public policy
    ethical barriers and social definitions. Only then, the destroyed old
    system elements can be replaced by the imposed system elements of
    our new order.”

    “The first task of our world revolution is destruction. All social strata and social formations created by traditional society must be annihilated. Individual men and women must be uprooted from their ancestral environment, torn out of their native milieus, no tradition of any type
    shall be permitted to remain as sacrosanct. Traditional social norms must also be viewed only as a disease to be eradicated. The ruling dictum of the new order is, nothing is good so everything must be criticised and abolished. Everything that was must be gone.”

    Nothing is good so everything must be criticized and abolished. Everything that was must be gone.

    RFK, Jr is currently embarking on a presidential campaign in which he’s openly talking about the probability the CIA killed his father and uncle.

    Martin Sandler, editor of “The Letters of John F Kennedy” has spoken of the very angry letters back and forth between Kennedy and Israel founder and PM David Ben Gurion. Sandler described the letters as “surprising” and emphasized their extremely angry tone.

    Kennedy was working towards a nuclear test ban treaty and had even gotten de Gaulle to agree, which was quite an accomplishment. Ben Gurion wouldn’t agree to a test ban at Dimona, as he told Kennedy he’s surrounded by “angry Arabs” (who were being terrorized and killed, their land stolen by Ben Gurion et al’s armies, acting at the behest of, and funded by, world Zionism).

    According to Sandler, Kennedy threatened Ben Gurion in such a way that Ben Gurion resigned. Sandler goes on to say that he “found articles…not in any crackpot publications, but in very sophisticated publications, saying ‘forget Lyndon Johnson, forget the CIA, forget Fidel Castro. The Mossad killed Kennedy because they were so upset over what he did to Ben Gurion.”

    I would suggest that, rather than a revenge motive, Israel killed Kennedy because he was every bit as adamant that its organizations register as agents of a foreign power under the FARA act.

    The World Jewish Congress, founded by Nahum Goldmann, serves as the coordinating body for many of the Jewish organizations outside Israel. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations works specifically in the US to “strengthen US-Israel ties” etc.

    Isaiah L. “Si” Kenen had gone from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs to directly running the American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs, which was a lobbying division of the American Zionist Council.

    Grant Smith writes in his “Foreign Agents: The American Israel Public Affairs Committee from the 1963 Fulbright Hearings to the 2005 Espionage Scandal” that “It is impossible to understand AIPAC without understanding its precursor, the American Zionist Council.”

    Where Did AIPAC Come From?:

    Michael Oren wrote that “AIPAC had only now in the mid-70s achieved the financial and political clout necessary to sway congressional opinion.”

    George Lenczowski also noted of the rise of AIPAC power: “The Carter presidency also coincides with the militant emergence of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as a major force in shaping American policy toward the Middle East.”

    And 1979 brings us the JCIT and the world “terrorism” problem.

    1985 brings us the Israel-US “trade deal” which was the impetus for NAFTA.

    And Sept 11, 2001 brings us Larry “we decided to pull it” Silverstein and the dancing Israelis who, upon being arrested in a van with explosives and box cutters headed for the George Washington Bridge after earlier having been seen celebrating the destruction of Larry’s towers, tell the police that “We are not your problem. Your problems are our problems. The Palestinians are the problem.”

    Ehud Barak had resigned as prime minister of Israel in May of 2001 and disappeared from public view, reappearing conveniently in BBC’s London studios so he could go live an hour after 9/11, where he recited what would become the official story:

    Barak is a close friend and confidant of Bibi Netanyahu and Frank Lowy, he of Westfield Properties and the Mall at the World Trade Center (Larry Silverstein) – as well as terrorist group Hagannah.

  4. DMC

    Barak also shows up repeatedly in the Jeffery Epstein affair, in various business deals based in Israel.

  5. Ché Pasa

    Re: Overpopulation and the little pup-sheds to put the homeless (and I suppose others) in — until they die?

    Much of the world has already started on the population growth downslope. People are breeding less and in significant parts of the world, lifespan is diminishing — particularly true of the US, but not limited to it. So what, exactly are the overpopulation mavens on about? Well, is it because the downslope isn’t yet directed by eugenicists? Or is it?

    We’ve seen with Covid that the old, the sick, the poor, the black, and the brown were and are the principle victims, but there’s nothing new about that. They’re consistently the victims in health and other emergencies, or at least they have been for the recent past. They’re hardly noticed when they are gone, right?

    As for the little pup-sheds that are all the rage for “housing” the homeless, those who say they look like and feel like prisons are probably right. The sheds are smaller than cells, but they officially hold as many inmates/guests/residents. The point is often made that these are not really temporary or transitional housing options because there is nothing for the inmate/guests to transition to — except back on the street. So what are they really for? What are they really about?

    Ultimately I see the little pup-sheds and pseudo-villages as a means to condition the public first and foremost into believing a proper solution has been found to the Homeless Question, and that these “temporary” facilities are it. Soon enough their residents will share the public’s fondness. Those who don’t will wind up dying in the desert tents. And these “temporary” places will evolve into permanent camps where the unnecessary surplus population can be sheltered until their time is up.

    Together with prisons and workhouses, the Problem will be quickly and efficiently solved. Once and for all.

    This has been a long time dream and quest for a segment of the population. We’ll keep hearing about how horrible overpopulation is and how disgusting homelessness is for many years to come, no doubt for long after the Problem is solved.

    But that’s what I see going on now.

  6. Feral Finster

    re: “Blob Empathy Deficit”

    Once you understand that the people running US foreign policy (and not only) demonstrate behavior indistinguishable from that of sociopaths, everything they do makes perfect sense.

    For that matter, the infamous leaked State Department memo to Rex Tillerson spells it out in black and white.

  7. anon y'mouse

    as an addendum:

    i don’t know about you, but some of the most selfish fuckers in the world i’ve ever met have had kids.

    they didn’t claim the entire planet and the future for themselves, oh no. they selflessly claimed the ability to do anything, go anywhere and use up any resource at all for their kids.

    because how dare any of us think their kids should accept anything less than all that they can manage to grab.

    if you believe the elites want the rest of us to decline in numbers, it won’t be because they expect their offspring to use up less, though. you’re likely right on that one. we, the useless and “productive less” or as you stated, “purpose less” people should be the ones to stop using resources for their kids.

    you see, a lot of people don’t have kids out of anything other than having a built in programmed dolly that will automatically love them. lots of people have kids without even a thought except “won’t this be great!” and then expect the rest of us to agree even when the bloom has worn off for them.

    oh, and then there are those who have kids as an excuse to relive their own childhoods and/or go shopping, and show off the little dolly. AbFab had a great one on that, but in that case Edina was Grandma instead of mom, who are another whole group of people who want kids for their own selfish reasons, even when they found raising their own to be not as thrilling and fulfilling as they thought it would be. but hey, their kids having kids can give them a second chance on that one!

    more people doesn’t really help anyone except those who want to treat the lower classes like interchangeable cogs that can be tossed as soon as we are worn out, or at least tossable as soon as we figure out how we’re being scammed by them.

    how about long fulfilling lives with or without kids, and how about being a good, supportive aunt or uncle? and by supportive, i mean towards the parents too. since it’s so obvious that most are overwhelmed by the whole thing and our culture is weird in that it expects this “nuclear family” to turn out perfectly done humans like an Easy Bake oven turns out muffins.

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