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

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – May 21, 2023

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – May 21, 2023

by Tony Wikrent


(anti)Republican Party debt charade

Six Legal Reasons the Federal Budget Is Its Own ‘Debt Ceiling’ – and ‘Floor’

Robert Hockett, May 11, 2023 [Forbes, via It’s not just the 14th Am. There are (at least) 5 other ways the Debt Ceiling is unconstitutional, by Bethesda 1971, DailyKos]

… In 1921, through the Budget & Accounting Act, Congress vested primary budget formulation responsibility with the President, establishing both detailed timetables and the predecessor of today’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to help shepherd the process along. The ‘debt ceiling’ is rooted in this era, during which Congress relinquished its previous role as legislator of every distinct federal bond-issuance. This Congress did to afford the President – by their own law our primary budget-formulator – more flexibility in determining revenue sources for funding the growing variety of legislated programs. That’s right, the original ‘ceiling’ was about affording the President more discretion, not less.

It is no accident that the Liberty Bond Act of 1917 (original source of the ‘ceiling’), the 1913 vintage 16th Amendment to the Constitution authorizing the federal income tax, the thereby enabled Revenue Act of 1913, the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, and the aforementioned Budget & Accounting Act of 1921 all came in rapid succession. In effect, these enactments, all passed by Congress and signed into law by the President, constituted one coherent federal budget regime.

All of this changed, however, in 1974. The ‘crisis’ that occasioned the change was brought on, like so many others of the era, by President Richard Nixon. Nixon had an unfortunate tendency to think himself more ‘imperial’ than the Constitution allowed, and took it upon himself to decide with unprecedented frequency what Congressionally legislated and funded programs, even though he had signed them into law in the first place, were worthy of actual execution and funding.

The practice in which he manifested this proclivity was known as ‘impoundment.’ The idea was that instead of spending what Congress had instructed him to spend and what he had agreed, by signing their legislation, to spend, Nixon was routinely spending only what he wished to spend, while ‘impounding’ the rest – in effect, holding it hostage.

Congress put an end to this chicanery by passing the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, pursuant to which both Congress and the President go through detailed procedural steps in formulating their own budgets, which budgets are then ‘reconciled’ and collated before being legislated into law piecemeal through sundry program authorization and appropriations acts passed by Congress and signed by the President. (The Supreme Court closed all plausible loopholes in the Act in Train v. City of New York one year later.)


AOC Dunks on McCarthy: If You Want To Cut Spending, What About No Yacht Tax Breaks?

Prem Thakker, May 19, 2023 [The New Republic]

[Twitter, via The New Republic 5-19-2023]


The Beltway Media Is Spreading Debt Limit Misinformation

Jason Linkins, May 20, 2023 [The New Republic]

The political press bears a share of the blame for the fact we are once again on the precipice of default.

…this might be a good occasion to point out the other big mistakes that have brought us to this point. Namely, those of the political media, who can rightly be said to have spent the last decade botching their coverage of the debt ceiling, mainly by failing to speak one plain truth: We keep getting dragged to the brink of default because the GOP has become a gang of extremists. This is villainy—their villainy—and the media has let them off the hook by treating this psychosis as all part of the natural order….

That the media cannot keep what is and what isn’t a “norm” straight in their head is the venial sin embedded within their debt ceiling coverage. The mortal sin is that the media has essentially conferred on the Republican Party the right to regularly stage these extortions. Imagine what would happen if the shoe was on the other foot—that a Democratic-controlled House majority was threatening to push the country into default unless a Republican president consented to a massive increase of the welfare state. It’s hard to imagine journalists referring to liberal hostage-taking as merely “the ordinary stuff of politics.”

This is another big lesson of the Obama era: The burden of bipartisanship, and the compromises that the media covets to a fetishistic extent, must be entirely shouldered by Democrats. (Marvel at the double standard: David Broder once made the insane insistence that the Obama-era Democrats needed to earn 70 Senate votes for any law they passed to be considered legitimate.) Throughout his tenure, Obama was regularly filleted for failing to reach a compromise with a Republican Party that had vowed to make him a one-term president by denying him a bipartisan win on anything. Pundits contorted themselves into pretzels in an attempt to ignore the fact that Obama and his fellow Democrats were the only party willing to stand in the ideological middle to make deals….

Obama spent an inordinate amount of time trying to play this game and please the naysayers. He allowed bipartisan “gangs” to build out their own health care reform ideas alongside the Affordable Care Act. He stumped for the votes of people like Olympia Snowe and Charles Grassley. He signed the Budget Control Act into law, unleashing the doomed “super committee” and the brutal sequestration budget cuts. And as soon as Obama was out of office, the moronic pundit drumbeat demanding more and bigger compromises fell silent. Donald Trump was never burdened by any such demands. The media’s bipartisanship fetishists essentially took four years off.

The Vanishing 14th Amendment Case

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

Plaintiffs claiming that the debt ceiling is unconstitutional didn’t file a motion for immediate relief. Therefore, the case has sat dormant.

Global power shift

China became the world’s largest vehicle exporter in Q1 2023, surpassing Japan 

[Car News China, via Naked Capitalism 5-14-2023]

China Opens New Channel Giving Access to $3 Trillion Swap Market 

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism 5-16-2023]

China’s loans pushing world’s poorest countries to brink of collapse 

[Associated Press, via Naked Capitalism 5-20-2023]

The Creation of Nigeria 

Howard W. French [The New York Review, June 8, 2023 issue]

Britain’s consolidation of Nigeria as a single colony has been the source of most of the major political conflicts that have roiled the country since independence….

Nigeria’s 213 million inhabitants account for one of six people in Africa. It currently ranks sixth in population internationally, three below Indonesia, which also commands scant Western attention. But like most of the fast-growing continent, Nigeria is gaining demographic momentum at breakneck speed. In remarkably little time it will sprint past Indonesia’s 273 million on its way to 400 million people by midcentury, according to the projections of the United Nations Population Division, and by 2100 its population will reach 700 million, making it, with an area roughly one third larger than that of Texas, the third most populous in the world, trailing only India and China.

Chronic economic underperformance and political dysfunction have plagued Nigeria since it gained independence from Britain in 1960. They are the shared legacy of the fanciful design of a state that was hastily cobbled together late in the colonial era and, relatedly, of a political class that generates economic spoils for itself by manipulating Nigerians along ethnic lines. If the country continues on this course, though, it will weigh tremendously on the fortunes of an entire continent. With a vastly larger population that already skews heavily toward youth—the median age today is seventeen, half that of the US—it is also likely to be an outsized part of the global workforce and of both refugee flows and legal migration to countries with much older populations in Europe and North America.

As dramatic as Nigeria’s demographic future appears, it would be wrong to assume that this is the only way to appraise the country’s impact on the world, which has long been extraordinary, albeit overlooked. The territory that constitutes this former British colony was the source of nearly 3.6 million of the 12.5 million enslaved people brought by Europeans across the Atlantic from Africa, second only to a region known as west-central Africa (essentially Congo and Angola). As I have argued in my book Born in Blackness, African labor, which was violently expropriated from the enslaved over centuries, was decisive in the economic ascent of Europe in the modern era and in the development of the so-called New World.

That is because the labor of enslaved Africans was vital to making Europe’s colonization of the Americas economically viable. Prior to 1820, four times as many people were brought across the Atlantic from Africa as from Europe….



Why the economic war against Russia has failed 

[The Spectator,via Naked Capitalism 5-15-2023]

But these figures do not explain the scale of the failure to damage the Russian economy. It soon became clear that while the West was keen on an economic war, the rest of the world was not. As its oil and gas exports to Europe fell, Russia quickly upped its exports to China and India – both of which preferred to buy oil at a discount than to make a stand against the invasion of Ukraine. Worse, some of the Russian oil exported to India appears to have been siphoned back to Europe, with a rise in the number of ships taking refined oil from India through the Suez Canal.

There seems to be some siphoning in the other direction, too. An investigation by the German newspaper Bild has uncovered a disturbing growth in exports to countries bordering Russia. The importing of German motor vehicles to Kazakhstan, for example, rose by 507 per cent between 2021 and 2022 and to Armenia by 761 per cent. Exports of chemical products to Armenia increased by 110 per cent and to Kazakhstan by 129 per cent. Sales of electrical and computer equipment to Armenia are up 343 per cent. What happens to these goods once they reach these former Soviet republics is not easy to establish, but one likely explanation is that they end up in Russia as diverted trade flows. And even if such commodities are not formally being re-exported, many Russian citizens retain visa-free access to those countries and are able to take goods across the border.

The intoxication of war 

Chris Hedges [Salon, via Naked Capitalism 5-14-2023]

The intoxication of war is a plague. It imparts an emotional high that is impervious to logic, reason or fact. No nation is immune. The gravest mistake made by European socialists on the eve of the First World War was the belief that the working classes of France, Germany, Italy, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Russia and Great Britain would not be divided into antagonistic tribes because of disputes between imperialist governments. They would not, the socialists assured themselves, sign on for the suicidal slaughter of millions of working men in the trenches. Instead, nearly every socialist leader walked away from their anti-war platform to back their nation’s entry into the war. The handful who did not, such as Rosa Luxemburg, were sent to prison.

A society dominated by militarists distorts its social, cultural, economic and political institutions to serve the interests of the war industry. The essence of the military is masked with subterfuges — using the military to carry out humanitarian relief missions, evacuating civilians in danger, as we see in the Sudan, defining military aggression as “humanitarian intervention” or a way to protect democracy and liberty, or lauding the military as carrying out a vital civic function by teaching leadership, responsibility, ethics and skills to young recruits. The true face of the military — industrial slaughter — is hidden.

America can’t get there from here

Godfree Roberts [via Naked Capitalism 5-15-2023]

As Alastair Crooke observed, China killed Western inflation by providing affordable goods (a US-made iPhone would cost $2200), which Russia complemented with cheap energy. Between them, they kept western economies (barely) competitive, and (almost) inflation free for two decades.

The descent from Paradise began when the US began treating its providers of energy and goods as enemies and has developed such momentum that severed trading blocs are breaking free of old hegemonies.

In this wobbly, unpredictable context, war with a Great Power like China, far from America’s shores, will be extremely expensive and require years of preparation….

To fight China the US must double defense spending through 2030. Today’s USAF and USN fleets are aging and shrinking while China’s bigger, younger fleets are growing rapidly. The US must also contend with Russia’s powerful Atlantic and Pacific navies, armed with hypersonic anti-ship missiles against which the US has no defense.

To finance a China war, Washington must grow the economy five times faster. In order to grow at its 1.6% historic rate, the US borrows $3 trillion/year. The notion that the country could borrow three times more, $10 trillion/year, without triggering hyperinflation, is fanciful.

To decouple from China, the US must double manufacturing’s share of its economy from 12% to 24% (China’s is 27%). As TSMC has learned to its dismay, skilled workers are rare and expensive in the US.

To challenge China’s science lead the US must multiply its annual R&D investment tenfold through 2045. Nowadays, more research scientists move to China than to the US.

To compete in the world market with China, America must

  1. Eliminate the health deficit that keeps its labor force participation at 62% (vs. China’s 72%).
  2. Double literacy and numeracy. The US, #22 in world rankings, spends $14,000/child annually on education. China spends $9,000 PPP and is doubling rural education spending.
  3. Boost social wellbeing. The US is a shining example neither of democracy nor legitimacy: there are more hungry children, drug addicts, suicides, executions, and illiterate, incarcerated, poor, homeless people in America than in China.
  4. Make up the $3 trillion infrastructure deficit and invest an additional $3 trillion to match China, whose 40,000 km. of high speed trains move entire armies across the country in hours.
  5. Restore confidence in the dollar. Central banks saw Washington’s sanctions on 30% of the world’s nations and its theft of Russia’s reserves as portents of disaster. They are already finding alternatives to the dollar and demanding higher yields on US bonds.
  6. Plan, coordinate and manage the additional $6 trillion of economic activity each year, with the additional energy, commodities, labor and infrastructure that it requires. Effective management of major, long-term projects is a national weakness, as the F-35 and the Navy’s LCS programs demonstrate.

Safeguarding Your Mental Health from the Harmful Effects of Western War Propaganda – Ten Top Tips 

Geoffrey Roberts [via Naked Capitalism 5-16-2023]



[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 5-14-2023]

[TW: Not only did fatal infections of children spike five fold after the public was convinced to go back to work, but the death rate for children from June 2022 onward is now about double what it was before COVID. For our neo-Malthusian elites, as George W. Bush proclaimed, “mission accomplished.”]


“The government giving up on COVID protections means throwing immunocompromised people to the wolves”

[Salon, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 5-16-2023]

“The medical model focuses on preventing and treating individual conditions in individual bodies, rather than correcting systemic factors that affect people at the community level. It’s a reductive approach that ignores the social determinants and forms of discrimination that shape health outcomes. It’s concerned with correcting deviations from a normal defined by the absence of disease and disability…. The Biden administration has employed the medical model’s good health, good morals paradigm to rationalize abandoning vulnerable Americans to disability and death from COVID-19. Biden’s policies are designed to get everyone back to work, but they also appeal to well and non-disabled people’s fear of a medicalized “abnormal”. According to Biden and the CDC, people who have bad health outcomes from COVID-19 have made bad individual choices- they are unvaccinated , politically undesirable, or have “comorbidities.” The problem with this narrative is that individual good fortune is not necessarily the result of good behavior. Individualism — even when it’s billed as morality — cannot protect people from an airborne, ever-mutating virus. This can only be done through public health policy that protects the collective, with the needs of its most vulnerable as its foundation…. [The erasure of sick and disabled people from the public sphere] in turn normalizes the continued abuses of sick and disabled people. We are ignored by public health policy and denied critical care, but our suffering is unseen, confined to private homes and medical-industrial complex “care” facilities. Keeping our unnecessary deaths out of sight and out of mind is an American tradition. In fact, it is the foundation of eugenics in the United States.”

The covid public health emergency is ending: it now joins the ordinary emergency that is American health

[BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal], via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 5-16-2023]

“It’s worth noting that during covid, the US also accessed our better selves. The country made sweeping changes to daily life to prevent the collapse of the healthcare system. Free covid testing, vaccines, and treatment made healthcare affordable and accessible, even if only narrowly and temporarily. The uninsurance rate in the US fell to a historic low of 8%, thanks to the expansion of Medicaid enrollment. Policymakers transformed the country’s tattered, piecemeal social safety net into a system of robust social protections. These experiences might have inspired Americans to think differently for the future. We could embrace a ‘new normal’ that includes Medicaid expansion and paid leave—recognising that these policies are essential not only for managing covid-19 but also for improving health more broadly. We could shore up our safety net hospitals and make bold investments in growing the health workforce in rural and underserved communities. We could make permanent pandemic innovations such as expanded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, the Child Tax Credit, and eviction prevention programs that protected Americans’ health and our economy. We could invest in the kinds of infrastructure that would make our schools, workplaces, and public spaces safer now, as well as better prepared for future pandemics. If the end of the public health emergency does not feel as full of celebratory closure as it should, it may be because many of our ’emergency’ responses felt like simple decency: covid called for a society that safeguards health. But the starting point should be to cure the country’s larger affliction—its ethos of giving up.”

As Long Covid Increases Expect Government Policy To Rush Death

Ian Welsh, May 18, 2023

…We aren’t increasing health care staffing and funding to deal with a pandemic that never ends and with all the damaged people. We aren’t increasing help for people with disabilities or who can’t work or can work less. We are pretending that “the emergency is over” means we can go back to the world of 2019.

But we’ve decided to live with an ever-increasing number of disabled people, with a pandemic that never ends, and with an ever-increasing number of people with long term health problems caused by Covid, even if those people aren’t disabled. (Dead people are the least of the problem, from a social and political perspective, though not from a human one.)

Governments don’t want to pay for human welfare. They don’t want to pay to help the people the pandemic is hurting but not killing. They don’t want to increase the number of nurses and doctors and home care assistants and long term care facilities for disabled people who don’t live at home.


[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 5-19-2023]

[Lambert Strether: “The targets of our elite’s depopulation efforts aren’t dumb, and they know what’s being done to them:”]


Health care crisis

The Pandemic Isn’t Over. Here’s How to Stay Safe 

[Wired, via Naked Capitalism 5-17-2023]


[Law and Political Economy Project, via Naked Capitalism 5-15-2023]

Back Bay to Nubian Square: 2 miles and a 23-year life expectancy gap 

[WBUR, via Naked Capitalism 5-15-2023]

In Boston, a two-mile difference in where you live may mean a 23-year difference in life expectancy.

That startling analysis from the Boston Public Health Commission shows the longest average life expectancy is nearly 92 years, for residents in a section of the Back Bay. Residents near Nubian Square in Roxbury have the shortest expected life span, just under 69 years.

The Harms of Hospital Mergers and How to Stop Them

[American Economic Liberties Project, via The Big Picture 5-16-2023]

There is robust evidence that hospital mergers cause an array of problems, whether between direct competitors or not. “Well, the consolidation we predicted has happened: Last year saw 112 hospital mergers (up 18% from 2014). Now I think we were wrong to favor it.”


The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

How Wall Street Feeds Itself

Robert Kuttner,  May 17, 2023 [The American Prospect]

Stock buybacks hit a new record last year. According to a report in the Financial Times, the world’s 1,200 largest publicly traded companies spent $1.3 trillion to buy back their own shares. Another study shows that U.S. corporations lead the world in buybacks. Almost 80 percent of American firms have engaged in buybacks, compared to about 45 percent in the rest of the world.

This practice is a scam intended to pump up share prices. Companies often borrow money in order to buy their stock, in a kind of arbitrage play that adds nothing of value to the economy but enriches insiders.

It’s often forgotten, but stock buybacks were illegal until 1982, as a flagrant form of stock manipulation. In that year, Reagan’s SEC adopted Rule 10b-18 to allow them.

“American worker productivity is declining at the fastest rate in 75 years—and it could see CEOs go to war against WFH” [work from home]

[Fortune, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 5-16-2023]

Think CEO Pay Is Outrageous? Get a Load of CEO Retirement Plans

Timothy Noah, May 18, 2023 [The New Republic]

…you may not have considered how extravagant retirement planning for top executives beggars the rest of us. That’s something that never occurred to me before I read a new report on retirement inequality from the Institute for Policy Studies, or IPS….

It’s different, of course, for the rich. According to the IPS study, at the end of 2021, the average retirement balance for an S&P 500 chief executive was $19.4 million. The IRS report is filled with examples of similarly grotesque inequalities. C. Douglas McMillon, the chief executive at Walmart, where median annual pay is $27,136, will, when he retires, receive monthly checks of $1,042,300….

“Congress never explicitly decided to give top hat plans favorable tax treatment,” Mark Iwry, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, explained to me. “But by largely prohibiting Treasury and IRS from regulating their taxation, it allowed the system, based on general tax principles, to evolve to its current state.”

Out-of-state banks own nearly all of Bangor’s vacant homes 

[Bangor Daily News, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 5-19-2023]

“Out-of-state banks or investment holdings own 56 of the 70 total vacant residential properties in Bangor, according to Jeff Wallace, Bangor’s code enforcement director. The remaining 14 vacant properties are owned by individuals…. Maintenance completed on those properties is typically “minimal at best” and often requires prodding from the city’s code enforcement department to get necessary upkeep completed, Wallace said. Large out-of-state companies owning properties also makes it difficult for the city’s code enforcement officers to find the right person to send violation notices to.”

FDIC Seizure of Foreign Deposits at SVB Opens Pandora’s Box at JPMorgan Chase and Citi – Which Hold a Combined $1 Trillion in Foreign Deposits with No FDIC Insurance

Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 15, 2023 [Wall Street on Parade]

…there were gasps of shock on Saturday evening at around 5:30 p.m. when the Wall Street Journal (paywallpublished the stunning news that depositors in the Cayman Islands’ branch of Silicon Valley Bank had their deposits seized by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which they are unlikely to ever see again.

As Wall Street On Parade has previously reported, under statute, the FDIC cannot insure deposits held on foreign soil by U.S. banks. What it can do, however, is to sell those deposits to the bank that acquires the collapsed bank. In the case of Silicon Valley Bank, the acquiring bank was First Citizens Bancshares which, apparently, declined to purchase the foreign deposits in the secrecy jurisdiction of the Cayman Islands….

What the Wall Street Journal has actually done with this report is to open a Pandora’s box regarding the vast sums of foreign deposits held in foreign branches of JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup’s Citibank – none of which are covered by FDIC insurance. It further raises the question as to why the banking regulators of these two Wall Street mega banks have allowed this dangerous situation to occur.

According to the year-end call report filed by Citibank, it held a stunning $622.6 billion of deposits in foreign offices. (See page 34 of call report.) According to the year-end call report filed by JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A., it held $426 billion in deposits in foreign offices. (See page 34 of the linked report.) Together, these two banks held just over $1 trillion in deposits on foreign soil – which had no U.S. deposit insurance backing….

[TW: Very, very interesting that USA government can so easily seize assets in the Cayman Islands…. Interesting precedent set…. ]


Disrupting mainstream economics

New Study Finds a High Minimum Wage Creates Jobs 

[New York Magazine, via Naked Capitalism 5-14-2023]


Climate and environmental crises

How Tokyo Became an Anti-Car Paradise

Heatmap, via The Big Picture 5-17-2023]

The world’s biggest, most functional city might also be the most pedestrian-friendly. That’s not a coincidence….

Overall in fact, people in Tokyo have one of the highest qualities of life in the world. A 2015 survey by Monocle magazine came to the conclusion that Tokyo is the best city on Earth in which to live, “due to its defining paradox of heart-stopping size and concurrent feeling of peace and quiet.” In 2021 The Economist ranked it fourth, after Wellington and Auckland in New Zealand, and another Japanese city, Osaka. Life expectancy overall is 84 years old, one of the highest levels of any city on the planet. A good part of this has to do with the lack of cars. Air pollution is considerably lower than in any other city of equivalent size anywhere in the world….

Part of the reason, Sorensen explained to me, is just historical chance. Japanese street layouts traditionally were narrow, much like medieval alleys in Europe. Land ownership was often very fragmented, meaning that house builders had to learn to use small plots in a way that almost never happened in Europe or America. And unlike the governments there, the government in postwar Japan was much more concerned with boosting economic growth by creating power plants and industrial yards than it was with creating huge new boulevards through neighborhoods. So the layouts never changed. According to Sorensen’s research, 35 percent of Japanese streets are not actually wide enough for a car to travel down them. More remarkably still, 86 percent are not wide enough for a car to be able to stop without blocking the traffic behind it….

And even if you are willing to pay all of the taxes, you cannot simply go and buy a car in the way that you might in most countries. To be allowed to purchase a car, you have to be able to prove that you have somewhere to park it. This approval is issued by the local police, and is known as a shakoshomeisho, or “garage certificate.” Without one, you cannot buy a car….

Under a nationwide law passed in 1957, overnight street parking of any sort is completely illegal. So if you were to somehow buy a car with no place to store it, you could not simply park it on the street, because it would get towed the next morning, and you would get fined 200,000 yen (around $1,700). In fact, most street parking of any sort is illegal. There are a few exceptions, but more than 95 percent of Japanese streets have no street parking at all, even during the day….

Parking rules are not, however, the limit of what keeps cars out of Tokyo. Arguably, an even bigger reason is how infrastructure has been funded in Japan. That is, by the market, rather than directly by taxes…. What that meant was that, from the beginning, roads did not have an unfair advantage in their competition with other forms of transport. And so in Japan, unlike in almost the entire rest of the rich world, the postwar era saw the construction of enormous amounts of rail infrastructure. Indeed, at a time when America and Britain were nationalizing and cutting their railways to cope with falling demand for train travel, in Japan, the national railway company was pouring investment into the system.

Here’s Why Toyota Isn’t Rushing to Sell You an Electric Vehicle 

[Jalopnik, via Naked Capitalism 5-20-2023]

Like Germany, The US Is Greening Its Grid Towards Catastrophe 

[Return, via Naked Capitalism 5-15-2023]

A Chicken and Egg Problem: How Germany’s Hydrogen Boom Stalled 

[Der Spiegel, via Naked Capitalism 5-20-2023]

‘We Have to Find a Way, for the Sake of the Planet, to Use Things Longer’ 

[FAIR, via Naked Capitalism 5-15-2023]

Wheelchair users in Colorado now can fix their own chairs when they break. It did take a new law, allowing them to access the parts, tools and diagnostics they need to do that—for the same reasons that, for years, John Deere argued that farmers don’t really own the tractors they buy. Because those tractors carry computer codes that are proprietary, farmers just have an “implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle.”

As our next guest has said, the notion of actually owning the things you buy has become revolutionary, if ownership includes your right to modify or repair those things. But it’s a revolution that is underfoot. So let’s catch up.

Kyle Wiens runs iFixit, an online repair community and parts retailer that demystifies technology and empowers consumers. He joins us now by phone.

All the arguments against EVs are wrong EVs are just going to win

[Noahpinion, via The Big Picture 5-16-2023]

Some on the political right are still suspicious that EVs are a government-subsidized scheme to reduce their standard of living, while some on the left worry that EVs will cause exploitation and environmental destruction and suburban sprawl. And pretty much everyone is asking whether the world has enough minerals to complete the transition.

The New EV Gold-Rush: Automakers Scramble to Get Into Mining

[Wall Street Journal, via The Big Picture 5-16-2023]

A scarcity of EV battery materials pushes car companies and miners to work closer together; for both, there is a learning curve

Gas-Powered Cars Won’t Die Off Any Time Soon 

[Axios, via Naked Capitalism 5-17-2023]

New Water Treatment Zaps “Forever Chemicals” for Good 

[SciTech Daily, via Naked Capitalism 5-16-2023]


Information age dystopia / surveillance state
[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 5-16-2023]


Google sued over ‘interception’ of abortion data on Planned Parenthood website 

[The Register, via Naked Capitalism 5-17-2023]


Democrats’ political malpractice

Biden Is Letting Think Tanks and Dodgy Foreign Funders Get Cozy Again 

[The New Republic, via Naked Capitalism 5-14-2023]


[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 5-14-2023]


Biden Nominates Legacy Entertainment Industry Copyright Enforcer To Be New IP Czar 

[Techdirt, via Naked Capitalism 5-15-2023]

The Religious Landscape is Undergoing Massive Change. It Could Decide the 2024 Election 

[Politico, via Naked Capitalism 5-15-2023]

Joe Biden’s ‘Thank You’ In South Carolina

Andrew Perez, May 19, 2023 [The Lever]

South Carolina’s 2022 Democratic candidate for governor is helping lead a third-party astroturf campaign that could help tank Biden’s reelection….

Joe Cunningham, a former South Carolina congressman and Democrats’ 2022 gubernatorial nominee, recently joined No Labels — a pro-business, outwardly centrist advocacy group — as a national director. He is working on its reported $70 million ballot-access project laying the groundwork for a third-party challenger to Biden.

The move comes after Biden selected South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison to run the Democratic National Committee at the urging of powerful Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), whose endorsement was pivotal in helping Biden win the state’s primary and the Democratic nomination in 2020. Biden also convinced committee leaders to reorganize the party’s primary schedule and make South Carolina the first state in the Democratic presidential nominating process next year.


(anti)Republican Party

GOP presidential candidate tells young Iowans US should raise voting age from 18 to 25

[USA Today, via Naked Capitalism 5-14-2023]

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy told Iowans Thursday night he supports raising the minimum U.S. voting age from 18 to 25.

Under Ramaswamy’s desired amendment to the U.S. Constitution, those ages 18-25 would be allowed to vote only if they participate in a six-month “national service requirement” — in the military or as a first responder — or complete a civics test identical to the one required to become a naturalized citizen.

The policy, Ramaswamy told a crowd at the Royal Flooring furniture store in Urbandale, is “ambitious,” and some “will not agree with it.” But he described it as a critical stepping stone for restoring “civic pride” and “American identity” among young people.

The Corruption of Lindsey Graham 

Will Saletan, May 9, 2021 [Bulwark, via The Big Picture 5-14-2023]

WHEN HISTORIANS TRY TO EXPLAIN the decline or fall of a democracy, they often look for fatal moments or decisions. But sometimes there’s no decision. Sometimes it’s just inertia. By the fall of 2018, the threat to American democracy was about to escalate for entirely mundane reasons: normalization and polarization.

When an authoritarian rises to power in a democratic country, it can be a shock. But over time, the shock wears off. As the new leader tramples norms and rules, people get used to it. That’s part of what happened to Graham and his colleagues in Trump’s first year. They got used to the president’s behavior. It began to feel normal….

The second stage is more serious. Once the authoritarian’s allies have normalized his behavior, they rally around him just as they would rally around any other leader of their party. And they attack his opponents just as they would if he were a normal president.

This changes the nature and consequences of their collaboration. By treating any criticism of the president as an attack on the party, and by savaging anyone who gets in his way, they become soldiers for authoritarianism. They don’t just protect the leader. They clear his path as he abuses and expands his power.

A California journalist documents the far-right takeover of her town: ‘We’re a test case’. 

[The Guardian, via The Big Picture 5-16-2023]

Doni Chamberlain’s been a journalist in Shasta county for nearly 30 years. Now she’s targeted by the extremists who are looking to reshape the region….

But there was more than just a backlash under way. The anger coalesced into an anti-establishment movement backed financially by the Connecticut millionaire Reverge Anselmo, who has a longstanding grudge against the county over a failed effort to start a winery.

‘We Just Want Someone Sane’: What Happens When a Small Town Goes MAGA.

[Bloomberg, via The Big Picture 5-16-2023]

Washington County, Pennsylvania, was never known as Crazytown. Then election deniers decided to run for local office….

“There is a tremendous impact that this movement has had on government that the public may never see directly or understand,” she said. “We have an executive assistant in our offices who is retiring Thursday. And the first candidate we offered the job to declined because they don’t know what the atmosphere could be like after this election.”

In truth, the atmosphere hasn’t been great for a while. Vaughan has spent the years since November 2020 fending off wave after wave of loony accusations and seedy vitriol. When one conspiracy theory is shut down, another rises to replace it. Last fall she told me that, after 2020, she had been given a list of local dead people who had voted in the election. She found all of them “very much alive.”

Commission meetings have been transformed into open venting sessions for MAGA activists like Duff who could never be satisfied by evidence or facts. The opportunity costs to local governance, when so much attention is diverted from roads and contracts to rebutting the fantasies of activists, are difficult to quantify. But Vaughan said she has personally spent hundreds of hours dealing with MAGA nonsense. “So have our staff and legal team, researching their claims, which are all baseless,” she said, costing taxpayers “a great deal in resources.” The cost of rage and suspicion is even harder to quantify. Both are ever-present….

Trump did well in Washington County in 2020, winning 61% of the vote. But the “zealot-class people” in the party, Ball said, some of whom rarely encounter a Biden supporter, insisted that Trump someway, somehow, must have done better — locally, statewide, nationally. One explanation of Trump’s shortfall was that Washington County voting machines, which are not connected to the Internet, had been manipulated by a wireless thermostat

When Do We Officially Declare that the GOP has Killed America?

Thom Hartmann, May 17, 2023 [DailyKos]

…Jared and Ivanka made $640 million while working in the Trump White House, and then apparently sold US intelligence and their defense of the Khashoggi murder to the Saudis for over $2 billion the month after Trump left office.

Trump himself is now taking “a huge amount of money” from the Saudis, laundered through the LIV Golf Tournament they began when Biden became president. At the same time, he continues to mimic Putin’s positions on everything from Ukraine and NATO to their shared dislike of liberal democracy.

Down in Florida, DeSantis is shoveling millions in pension funds to poorly-performing hedge funds, which then recycle part of that money via the Republican Governor’s Association back into DeSantis-supporting super-PACs.

This is what the Republican Party has come to. Lacking any core beliefs or principles other than obeisance to billionaires and the fossil fuel industry, the GOP has become one giant grift, trying at every turn to convert whatever is in front of it into money, power, or both.

All while essentially telling the rest of us Americans to go screw ourselves. They really don’t appear to care how many of our kids die from guns, how many of our queer children die from suicide, or how many women die from pregnancy….

Since [the Shelby County] decision, Republican governors shut over 2000 voting locations in mostly minority districts, gerrymandered numerous Black elected officials out of both state and federal office, and purged over 16 million mostly Black and Hispanic voters from the rolls, resulting in states like Texas, Georgia, Ohio, and Florida moving suddenly from purple to bright red.


How mifepristone became a target of the US anti-abortion movement

[The Guardian, via The Big Picture 5-19-2023]

The abortion pill, first invented in 1980 in France, was slow to be accepted in the US. Now, it’s at the center of a major court fight.

Conservative pundits are increasingly open about who they think should be killed

John Knefel, May 16, 2023 [MediaMatters, via Eschaton]

Right-wing media figures are celebrating both Florida’s expansion of the death penalty for people who have sexually assaulted children as well as the extrajudicial homicide of Jordan Neely, a Black homeless man killed by a white former Marine on the New York City subway on May 1. The two stories illustrate a growing trend in right-wing media to argue that the deaths of marginalized and criminalized populations are not only justified but actually desirable, whether those killings are carried out by the state or by vigilantes….

But DeSantis has recently captured the right-wing media’s attention with a bill he signed earlier this month that would make convicted child rapists eligible for the death penalty. The new law violates Supreme Court precedent set in Kennedy v. Louisiana, a 5-4 decision in 2008 that found that the death penalty can’t be applied in the case of the rape of a child that didn’t result in murder. Legal challenges to the new Florida law are widely expected.

Conservative media figures cheered on DeSantis’ signing of the bill, often in language mirroring anti-LGBTQ rhetoric that is now ubiquitous on the right. Over the last year, right-wing media have revived a longstanding myth that LGBTQ people are dangers to children, frequently referring to them as “groomers” or pedophiles and endorsing violence targeting their events and communities. Conservative commentators have adopted eliminationist rhetoric toward trans people, openly calling for them to be expelled from public life entirely….

“On the merits of this legislation, it’s clearly the right thing,” Walsh began on his May 2 show. “The idea that you can only have — we can only impose capital punishment on someone who kills another person, it’s completely arbitrary. There’s no, nowhere is that written in the heavens. Certainly the opposite. I mean, if we want to talk about biblical precedent, then that’s not biblical precedent.”

Walsh then indulged in an extended thought experiment about having to choose between which types of convicted criminals should be executed, happily concluding that the state doesn’t in fact need to make that choice and should be killing many more people.

“If we have this weird rule that we’ve imposed on ourselves that we can only execute one, either murderers or child rapist, like if we had to choose between those two categories of people to execute, then I would say, well, if we don’t do one, then I’d probably murder the — I’d probably execute, rather — execute legally the child rapist,” Walsh said. “But in fact, we don’t have to choose. You know, that’s the wonderful thing.”

“We don’t have to make choices. We can execute all of them,” he continued. “We should be able to, anyway. Execute all the worst people, all of the worst criminals. Just execute them all. And this is the right first step. There’s a lot more that needs to be done. I mean, this is actual criminal justice reform.”


Disinformation wars

Durham is Too Late to Stop the Madness 

Matt Taibbi, May 16, 2023

I read Special Counsel John Durham’s “Report on Matters Related to Intelligence Activities and Investigations Arising Out of the 2016 Presidential Campaigns” yesterday in a state I can only describe as psychic exhaustion. As Sue Schmidt’s “Eight Key Takeaways” summary shows, the stuff in this report should kill the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory ten times over, but we know better than that. This story never dies. Every time you shoot at it, it splits into six new deep state fantasies.

I’ve given up. Nearly seven years ago this idiotic tale dropped in my relatively uncomplicated life like a grenade, upending professional relationships, friendships, even family life. Those of us in media who were skeptics or even just uninterested were cast out as from a religious sect — colleagues unironically called us “denialists” — denounced in the best case as pathological wreckers and refuseniks, in the worst as literal agents of the FSB.

Eight Takeaways From the Durham Report

Susan Schmidt [Racket News, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 5-17-2023]

“A quick read revealed the following key takeaways: 1 There was no valid predicate for the investigation, and the FBI knew it. 2. ‘There’s nothing to this, but we have to run it to ground.’ 3. ‘It’s thin’; ‘There’s nothing to this.’ 4. The Trump campaign investigation was premised on ‘raw, unanalyzed and uncorroborated intelligence,’ and U.S. intel agencies possessed no ‘actual evidence of collusion’ when the probe began. 5. Sensational stories published in the New York Times in February and March 2017 claiming Trump associates were in contact with Russian intelligence agents were false. 6. FBI Director James Comey pushed heavily for an investigation of Carter Page, starting in April 2016 when Page was a government witness in an espionage investigation of Russian diplomats in New York. 7. At the direction of the FBI, confidential human source Stefan Halper recorded lengthy conversations with Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, in which each denied the campaign had any involvement with Russian officials. 8. Durham was highly critical of the FBI’s ‘startling and inexplicable failure’ to investigate the so-called ‘Clinton Intelligence Plan.’”

Report on the Censorship-Industrial Complex: The McCarthyism Reboot 

Matt Taibbi  [via Naked Capitalism 5-20-2023]

Both in the accustatory questions thrown at three FBI whistleblowers in congress yesterday and in two new contributions to Racket’s “Report on the Censorship-Industrial Complex,” it’s clear America’s tendency toward debilitating state paranoia, deranged ideological surveillance schemes, and wild accusations of disloyalty are not only not over, but trace more than a hundred years into our past, with no signs of stopping.

At the whistleblower hearing before the House Weaponization of Government Subcommittee yesterday, we saw yet another loud display of the once-disgraced tactic of questioning the loyalty and patriotism of American witnesses, in this case FBI agents who’d taken issue with the Bureau’s handling of J6 cases. The Democratic members’ questions gave off a strong echo of the infamous House Committee on Un-American Activities. A scene involving California Democract Linda Sanchez and agent Marcus Allen was particularly upsetting.

Allen’s security clearance has been revoked, he’s lost his health insurance, and the FBI has not given him permission to seek other employment, all because he quietly sent a letter to superiors suggesting “federal law enforcement had some degree of infiltration among the crowds gathered at the Capitol,” which he felt raised “serious concerns” about the case.


The (anti)Federalist Society Infestation of the Courts

The Right’s Assault on Divorce Will Put More Women at Risk 

[Vanity Fair, via Naked Capitalism 5-14-2023]

What if Roe was just an opening salvo in the war against women’s autonomy? We often think of Roe’s fall as the culmination of decades of conservative lobbying, but what if it was just the first step? Look no further than the private-jet-setting justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote in his 2022 concurring opinion to Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization: “In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.” After dismissing nearly a half century of precedent in Dobbs, and eliminating an existing constitutional right, Thomas opened the door to targeting the right to use contraception, which was decided in Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965.

The line in Thomas’s opinion that haunts me (and should haunt you too) is: “We have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents.” Correcting the error would mean ending the rights to same-sex marriage (Obergefell), private sexual conduct between people of the same sex (Lawrence), and birth control. “Correcting the error” could be the perfect maxim for men’s rights activists, who’ve been galvanized by the end of Roe and seized another target to reverse the gains made by women: no-fault divorce.

Right-wing YouTube star Steven Crowder released a segment in June 2022, on the heels of the Dobbs ruling, in which he mused that “no-fault divorce…means that in many of these states, if a woman cheats on you, she leaves, she takes half. So it’s not no-fault, it’s the fault of the man.” Crowder added, “There need to be changes to marital laws, and I’m not even talking about same-sex marriage. Talking about divorce laws, talking about alimony laws, talking about child support laws.” (Earlier that month, Tim Pool, another host popular on the right, posted a video titled “No-Fault Divorce Has DESTROYED Men’s Confidence In Marriage, Men Don’t Want To Get Married Anymore.”)

Who Is Leonard Leo’s Mysterious Dark Money King?

Nina Burleigh, May 16, 2023 [The New Republic]

America needs to know who Barre Seid is, what kind of country he wants, and just how massive an impact his $1.6 billion gift can have on our political discourse.

The gift from nonagenarian electronics magnate Barre Seid (pronounced Barry Side) is effective altruism in reverse: a fire hose of cash aimed at destroying American liberal culture through lawsuits and support for politicians challenging gay rightsunionsenvironmental protection, voting rights, and public education. The money will last a good long while. Philanthropic recipients usually follow a 5 percent rule: They try not to spend more than 5 percent of the endowment per year. Seid’s pile is so large that it could return an average $136 million a year, or north of $230 million on a good year, to influence U.S. law and policy. Without ever having to touch the nut. For a sense of how enormous that is, consider this. The Heritage Foundation and its affiliates spent about $86 million in 2021….

Leo, a New Jersey Roman Catholic and grandson of an Italian immigrant who worked for Brooks Brothers, hobnobs around the upper echelons of American power in natty suits with vests and a pocket watch on a gold chain. This foppish dandy is the Penguin in the pantheon of Washington, D.C., DC Comics villains. Leo is a proud “Knight of the Sovereign Order of Malta,” and his long career has been motivated by fanatical opposition to women’s rights to reproductive choice. Since Seid handed the money over in 2021, part of the pile has been funneled into black boxes like Donors Trust, a mega-donor money-washing machine. Having succeeded at subjecting American women to forced pregnancy, Leo, 57, is directing the money toward other goals: stopping “woke” culture, ending federal regulations on climate change, and limiting voting rights. Ultimately, Seid’s money will be used to shore up society’s winners—the American oligarchy, inherited trusts, CEOs, self-made billionaires, corporations—against the demands of the weak. It will be used to make the United States a tougher and, for many, a nastier country, where big money always wins, under the eye of Rambo Jesus.


The two Constitutions

Free speech or federal crime? Protesters are still marching outside conservative Supreme Court justices’ homes 

[NBC, via Naked Capitalism 5-16-2023]

The Second Amendment Allows a Ban on the AR-15 

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism 5-16-2023]

The Two Constitutions 

David W. Blight [The New York Review, June 8, 2023 issue]

Historians can and do change their minds about interpretations of events and the uses of evidence. We may be dead certain, or even mildly sure, about facts and the stories we tell about them, but our craft requires us to remain open to new persuasions, new truths. James Oakes used to believe that the United States Constitution was essentially proslavery in its foundations, and that any attempt to breathe antislavery meaning into it was strained or rhetorical and not textually supported. But no more. In his remarkable and challenging book The Crooked Path to Abolition, he makes the case that there were effectively two constitutions written in Philadelphia that summer of 1787, one proslavery and one antislavery, which would be in conflict with each other for more than the next fourscore years.

Oakes, a distinguished professor of history at the CUNY Graduate Center, is not the only historian to have changed his view on this matter. In my first book, in 1989, I treated Frederick Douglass’s development of an antislavery interpretation of the Constitution as a slowly evolving perspective on his road to becoming a pragmatic political abolitionist and as a form of wish fulfillment in the absence of alternatives. I called his antislavery constitutionalism “dubious”—a search for political and moral ground on which he could stand to avoid embracing violent revolution by the 1850s. But I have come to see him as a deeply committed political thinker who argued his way, through what he called “careful study,” using legal and moral logic, to a vision of an antislavery Constitution. Guided by the natural rights tradition, Douglass found the core meaning of the American crisis. “Liberty and Slavery—opposite as Heaven and Hell,” he wrote in 1850, “are both in the Constitution.” What divided the nation was a Constitution “at war with itself.”

….The combination of all these clauses and principles allowed some abolitionists to declare the Constitution a bulwark for human equality and not merely, as Oakes says, a “hypocritical fantasy” crushed by white supremacy and a larger history. Some modern readers who are now conditioned to see the United States only as a progenitor of racial inequality may, misguidedly, find this claim on behalf of abolitionists a bridge too far….

By 1860 Douglass had explicitly enlisted Madison on the antislavery side of the Constitution, taking dead aim at the “property in man” argument. He saved his most poignant eloquence, though, for a broader claim. The “language” of the preamble, Douglass pointed out in a speech in Glasgow, Scotland, is

“ ”we the people”; not we the white people, not even we the citizens, not we the privileged class, not we the high, not we the low, but we the people; not we the horses, sheep, and swine, and wheel-barrows, but…we the human inhabitants; and if Negroes are people, they are included in the benefits for which the Constitution of America was ordained and established.”

….We still have two Constitutions on many issues: the nature of federalism, voting rights, election laws, the right to bear arms, and much more. We have a majority on the Supreme Court determined to return every power possible to the states, reverting the “Union” to many decades ago when it was a collection of battling legal sovereigns with common borders. The historical template for these and other future debates may always be the profound failures and triumphs of antislavery constitutionalism’s struggle against proslavery constitutionalism in the 1850s and 1860s. The heat in our public history wars today needs the light of this kind of scholarship, however difficult it is to sustain faith in truth, persuasion, and historical consciousness itself.

Behind the mask

The Anglo-American Hand Behind the Rise of Fascism Then and Now 

[The Last American Vagabond, via Naked Capitalism 5-17-2023]

Adolph Hitler or Benito Mussolini were never “their own men”.

The machines they led were never fully under their sovereign control and the financing they used as fuel in their effort to dominate the world did not come from the Banks of Italy or Germany. The technologies they used in petrochemicals, rubber, and computing didn’t come from Germany or Italy, and the governing scientific ideology of eugenics that drove so many of the horrors of Germany’s racial purification practices never originated in the minds of German thinkers or from German institutions.

Were it not for a powerful network of financiers and industrialists of the 1920s -1940s with names such as Rockefeller, Warburg, Montague Norman, Osborn, Morgan, Harriman, or Dulles, then it can safely be said that fascism would never have been possible as a “solution” to the economic woes of the post-WWI order. To prove this point, let us take the strange case of Prescott Bush as a useful entry point.

The patriarch of the same Bush dynasty that gave the world two disastrous American presidents made a name for himself funding Nazism alongside his business partners Averell Harriman and Averell’s younger brother E. Roland Harriman (the latter who was to recruit Prescott to Skull and Bones while both were studying at Yale). Not only did Prescott, acting as director of Brown Brothers Harriman, provide valuable loans to keep the bankrupt Nazi party afloat during Hitler’s loss of support in 1932, when the anti-Fascist General Kurt von Schleicher was appointed Chancellor, but was even found guilty for “trading with the enemy” as director of Union Banking Corporation in 1942!



Open Thread


Capitalism’s “Invisible Hand” Is Prescriptive More Than Descriptive


  1. different clue

    Here’s an article I found at Naked Capitalism which I think would be a good companion to Tony Wikrent’s ” behind the mask” article titled . . . ” The Anglo-American hand behind the rise of Fascism then and now” . It is titled ” ” Global Britain and King Charles’s Great Reset.” Here is the link.

    I continue to think that Jeff Wells’s ” Rigorous Intuition 2.0 ” articles on Fascism would also be good additions to these two articles. An especially good R.I. article to start with would be this one . . . Patterns of Force.

    For those with more patience than I have, perhaps all the David Emory broadcases and/or transcripts of those broadcasts from the Spitfire List and For The Record would also be good to listen to.

  2. darms

    i take issue w/the Racket.News ‘Durham Report’ story you link to, “Eight Takeaways From the Durham Report” – It makes me wonder whether the author is reading the same report as i am. For example i read Marci Wheeler at when she talks in depth about George Papadopoulos where as the author dismisses him in points 1 & 7 based on a misreading of the Mueller Report

  3. Ché Pasa

    How can we tell that the Debt Ceiling “Un-Constitutional” Argument this time isn’t a real argument but something like a moot court exercise? Why hasn’t it been brought up and highlighted before? Why wasn’t it litigated in 1917, or 1974, or 2011 or all the times before and since when the national budget and the debts incurred were held hostage for some political end? You see, if it were a real argument, the debt ceiling would have been set in concrete or be done away with long ago, but it not only didn’t happen, the “Un-Constitutional” argument wasn’t even brought up before this time. It is a ploy to keep the plebs occupied while the ::adults:: engage in the serious work of demanding more from them while lightening the burden on the Overclass, which is what happens when the Rs demand cuts in the forthcoming budget in order to secure their agreement to raise the debt ceiling. They always get them, or at least 60% of their demand. It happens because the Ds want those cuts too.

    Every time. Catching the car would be the last thing they’d want.

  4. VietnamVet

    With corporate media ignoring reality, if not June 1st, one day the USA will default and/or will lose the proxy WWIII in Europe. This was inevitable since 1963 when the Atlantic Alliance became the Western Empire.

    The Week-end Wraps are quite clear that the Empire (the hegemon) is composed of a clan of global upper class/caste families, corporations, and the Imperial Deep State who rule the world to exploit labor and extract the worlds’ resources to get richer with absolutely no concern for the consequences. “Greed is Good”. Except on a finite world, this is crazy — impossible.

    To pacify North America, the global Jet Set have provoked the eleven ethnicities to be at each other’s throat. Simply, either there is an armistice and DMZ in Europe, a multipolar world of sovereign nations, and the rule of law; or the earth will literally die from manmade pollution, radiation and a nuclear winter.

    A hot NATO war with Russia and/or China is totally insane.

    If North America is to survive it must conserve and follow Alastair Crooke lessons listed above;
    1. Eliminate the US health deficit.
    2. Double literacy and numeracy.
    3. Boost social wellbeing.
    4. Rebuild infrastructure that reduces energy use.
    5. Restore confidence in the US dollar.
    6. Plan, coordinate and manage.

    Democracy (Government by and for the People), National Service, working nuclear weapons, and effective Naval, Air, and Coastal defenses are needed to deter any possible future Eurasian invasions of the Western Hemisphere. In other words, live within one’s means and stop stealing others’ wealth. “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

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