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

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – November 21, 2021

by Tony Wikrent

Conservative / Libertarian Drive to Civil War

Notes on an Authoritarian Conspiracy: Inside the Claremont Institute’s “79 Days to Inauguration”

[The Bulwark, via The Big Picture 11-14-2021]

… report published in mid-October 2020 by the Claremont Institute and Texas Public Policy Foundation’s (TPPF) called “79 Days to Inauguration,” prepared by “Constitutional scholars, along with experts in election law, foreign affairs, law enforcement, and media . . . coordinated by a retired military officer experienced in running hundreds of wargames.”

Among these luminaries were figures such as John Eastman—lawyer for Donald Trump and author of a memo advising Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally block certification of Joe Biden’s win in order to buy time for GOP-controlled state legislatures to send competing slates of electors—and K.T. McFarland, who served as deputy national security advisor under Michael Flynn in the Trump White House.

Other participants include Kevin Roberts, then-executive director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation (soon to be head of the Heritage Foundation), Jeff Giesea, “a [Peter] Thiel protégé and secret funder of alt-right causes,” and Charles Haywood, a fringe blogger who anxiously awaits an American “Caesar, authoritarian reconstructor of our institutions.”

….Practically, the report is an instruction manual for how Trump partisans at all levels of government—aided by citizen “posses” of Proud Boys and Oath Keepers—could, quite literally, round up opposition activists, kill their leaders, and install Donald Trump for a second term in office….

are via emailThere’s more irony in how the task force imagines right-wing gangs would operate during such a period: with quiet discipline and in cooperation with law enforcement…. In reading the report, it becomes clear that task force participants see law enforcement as a critical adjunct to the more traditional political actors and that they believe law enforcement could act with greater impunity and force, independent from—and at times in defiance of—elected leaders…. Earlier this year the Claremont Institute created a Sheriffs Fellowship program. Claremont claims that this program will offer “training of unparalleled depth and excellence in American political thought and institutions.” But then, this is the same group that produced a report hoping that “several sheriffs in conservative counties” would give groups like the Proud Boys actual legal authority.

According to, the largest funders of the Claremont Institute are the Sarah Scaife Foundation ($300,000 to $400,000 a year for the past several years; the John M. Olin Foundation ($100,000 annually), and The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation ($100,000 annually). The Sarah Scaife Foundation is part of the late Richard Mellon Scaife network, whose wealth was inherited from the Mellon banking family.In a healthy republic, dedicated to promoting the General Welfare, the rich would not be allowed to pass massive wealth from from one generation to another, thus solving the two interrelated problems of wealth inequality, and the worsening sclerosis and maintenance deprivation of the national economy and physical infrastructure. The Wikipedia entry states that in April 2021, Claremont senior fellow Glenn Ellmers wrote an essay in Claremont’s The American Mind,  “ “Conservatism” is no Longer Enough: All hands on deck as we enter the counter-revolutionary moment,” arguing that the United States had been destroyed by internal enemies and that

“Let’s be blunt. The United States has become two nations occupying the same country. When pressed, or in private, many would now agree. Fewer are willing to take the next step and accept that most people living in the United States today—certainly more than half—are not Americans in any meaningful sense of the term…. “They do not believe in, live by, or even like the principles, traditions, and ideals that until recently defined America as a nation and as a people. It is not obvious what we should call these citizen-aliens, these non-American Americans; but they are something else.”


Menace Enters the Republican Mainstream

[New York Times, via The Big Picture 11-14-2021]

Threats of violence have become commonplace among a significant part of the party, as historians and those who study democracy warn of a dark shift in American politics.

At a conservative rally in western Idaho last month, a young man stepped up to a microphone to ask when he could start killing Democrats.

“When do we get to use the guns?” he said as the audience applauded. “How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?”


The Federalist Society’s newest enemy: Corporate America.

[Vox, via The Big Picture 11-20-2021]

America’s most powerful legal organization has lost faith in the market’s power to impose its values on the nation.

Very informative name dropping. For example, Newsweek opinion editor Josh Hammer is a member of the (anti)Federalist Society.


Oklahoma Guard goes rogue, rejects COVID vaccine mandate after sudden change of command

[Air Force Times, via Naked Capitalism 11-14-2021]


Secret ALEC-run ‘Academy’ of right-wing lawmakers met to discuss voter suppression strategies
Rebekah Sager, November 17, 2021 [Daily Kos]


Voting Rights Roundup: Conspiracy-driven Wisconsin GOP looks to take over election administration
Stephen Wolf, November 19, 2021 [Daily Kos]


Nazis Call for Dead Leftists to be ‘Stacked Up Like Cord Wood’ Following Rittenhouse Acquittal
mceades , November 20, 2021 [Daily Kos]


So, America has lost the plot entirely.

LaFeminista [DailyKos, 11-19-2021]


Strategic Political Economy

Bolivian President Luis Arce on Country Recovering from US-Backed Coup & Latin American Unity 

[Orinoco Tribune, via Naked Capitalism 11-18-2021]


John Pilger: The Great Game of Smashing Nations

[TeleSUR, via Naked Capitalism 11-18-2021]


They’re not capitalists – they’re a criminal predatory class

“Dirty Dollars II: West Virginia”

[Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-19-2021]

The deck: “Accused money launderers secretly moved millions into America to buy steel mills — while elected leaders helped them fend off U.S. regulators and foreign competitors. Left in the wake: hazardous waste and injured workers.” And who might those elected leaders be? You’ll never guess: “Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito joined other lawmakers in firing off a letter to the agency in 2015, saying the plant in their home state and another in Ohio could shut down if they were forced to install expensive equipment and submit to testing under a strict deadline.”

Of course, no mention that one of the first lootings of USA steel companies was in the 1980s, when Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross bought and destroyed Weirton Steel: BEFORE PUSHING TARIFFS, WILBUR ROSS HAD A MESSY HISTORY WITH THE U.S. STEEL INDUSTRY [The Intercept, March 5, 2018]

The commerce secretary made a fortune selling U.S. steel companies to a foreign entity and evaded responsibility for environmental cleanup….

At the time of the ISG sale, the Washington Post noted that Ross was able to make a stunning 12-fold gain on his initial investment in part by not paying steel workers’ pensions and retiree health care costs. But there was another way that Ross maximized his profits: by not putting up millions of dollars to ensure that the environmental messes associated with the plants he bought would be cleaned up.

Several state and federal environmental laws require owners of industrial properties to place bonds to cover the estimated future costs of cleaning the sites. The government had requested $162 million from Bethlehem Steel to clean nine Superfund sites associated with the company, according to a 2007 report by the Center for Public Integrity, but the bankrupt steel company wound up negotiating a deal that was worth “$9,000 at the end of the bankruptcy process, or three-tenths of a cent on the dollar.”



[Tax Justice Network, the Global Alliance for Tax Justice, and Public Services International, via The Daily Poster 11-17-2021]

The State of Tax Justice 2021 report finds countries are losing $483 billion in taxes a year to tax abuse by multinational corporations and wealthy individuals — “enough to fully vaccinate the global population against Covid-19 more than three times over.” The report, published by the Tax Justice Network, the Global Alliance for Tax Justice, and Public Services International, shows that countries are losing $312 billion per year to cross-border corporate tax abuse by multinational corporations, while $171 billion is lost to rich individuals’ offshore tax evasion. Read the full report here.


“4 Major Plot Holes in the ‘Organized Crime Rings Are Closing Walgreens!’ Narrative”

[The Column, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-19-2021]

“Regardless of what one thinks Walgreens’ business logic is for the closings, one cannot deny the story—either by design or incident—has become a full blown reactionary meme with a specific political context. As Steven Keehner documented at FAIR in July, a single viral video of shoplifting at Walgreens solicited over 300 articles nationwide, not including write-ups in South Africa, Mexico, UK, and South Korea. If you’re wondering this is, dollar for dollar, 474,183% more coverage than the one (1) mainstream media article about Walgreens admitting it stole $4.5 million from its employees over several years.”


The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

Corporations are using inflation as an excuse to raise prices and make fatter profits — and it’s making the problem worse

[Business Insider, via Naked Capitalism 11-20-2021]


As America Falls Apart, Profits Soar

Matt Taibbi [TK News, via Naked Capitalism 11-14-2021]


Natural gas customers in Texas get stuck with $3.4 billion cold-snap surcharge

[Ars Technica, via Naked Capitalism 11-14-2021]


Too Big to Sail: How a Legal Revolution Clogged Our Ports

Matt Stoller [BIG, via Naked Capitalism 11-14-2021]


Elon Musk targets Bernie Sanders over tax: ‘I keep forgetting you’re still alive’

[The Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 11-16-2021]


Wall Street bankers and traders are set for biggest bonuses since Great Recession

[CNBC, via Naked Capitalism 11-16-2021]


Restoring balance to the economy

Spain takes on private equity landlords as cost of housing soars

[FT, via Naked Capitalism 11-15-2021]


US school bus drivers in nationwide strikes over poor pay and Covid risk

[Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 11-17-2021]


NC School Worker Strike Wave Spreads – After Getting $15 an Hour, Pittsburgh Workers Still Walk Out – Kellogg Looks to Hire Scabs

[Payday Report, via Naked Capitalism 11-17-2021]


The epidemic

Lambert Strether [Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-16-2021]

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s not too soon to plan. Leaving aside vaccination, masking, and social distancing, let’s talk about another layer of defense: Ventilation. It has struck me powerfully that all the thinking we put into insulating houses can also be applied in ventilating them. (“A banker? Me?” “Yes, Mr. Lipwig.” “But I don’t know anything about running a bank!” “Good. No preconceived ideas.” “I’ve robbed banks!” “Capital! Just reverse your thinking,” said Lord Vetinari, beaming. “The money should be on the inside.” One metaphor I learned is that This Old House is like a chimney: It sucks in air at the bottom, and expels it at the top. Of course, insulation solved; previously, the house had pinned the blower door. But now, reverse your thinking. Don’t simply ventilate the spaces where are guests are gathering; open a window upstairs or in the attic. Create a draft. Just reverse your thinking.


“Displacement ventilation: a viable ventilation strategy for makeshift hospitals and public buildings to contain COVID-19 and other airborne diseases”

[The Royal Society, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-16-2021]

From the Abtract: ‘Adequate building ventilation in hospitals and public spaces is a crucial factor to contain [Covid]. We argue that displacement ventilation (either mechanical or natural ventilation), where air intakes are at low level and extracts are at high level, is a viable alternative to negative pressure isolation rooms, which are often not available on site in hospital wards and makeshift hospitals. Displacement ventilation produces negative pressure at the occupant level, which draws fresh air from outdoors, and positive pressure near the ceiling, which expels the hot and contaminated air out. We acknowledge that, in both developed and developing countries, many modern large structures lack the openings required for natural ventilation. This lack of openings can be supplemented by installing extract fans.”


“Among the Unvaccinated”

Chris Arnade [via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-16-2021]

“Everyone mentioned above… has had a rather rough life. As measured by someone like me, or by most readers of this. Not as measured by any of them. They are just getting by doing the best they can and that means some bumps in the road here and there. Sometimes that includes accidents, overdoses, firings, bankruptcies, felony gun charges, addictions, etc. But that is just life. Everyone was without a college degree. Or in my lingo, in the Back Row. Everyone was proud of being unvaccinated, and almost everyone told me without me asking. They wanted me to know, much as someone wants you to know they are a Packers fan, or an Ohio State fan. The demographics of the unvaccinated I have met is very similar to the demographics of the rest of the Back Row. It is mostly white, but minorities are over-represented, relative to the general population of the US. To the degree they are political, it is mostly non-voters, and like non-voters, while they may have a strong allegiance to a ‘side,’ they don’t think much of the process. ‘Everyone is equally corrupt, but at least Trump is honest about it.’ The whites in the group mostly support Trump, but that isn’t really surprising. Some like Old Man Bernie. Some think he is a commie. Some even voted for Biden, ‘But I got a lot of shit for that.’ Some are, by income alone, upper middle class. They might own a small chain of local tire stores. Or they might have a lawncare biz that has done well. Most aren’t though. Most are lower middle class to poor. But that is the Back Row. What they all have in common is a distrust of certain authority. Mostly that means academics and bureaucrats who do things they can’t fully understand, see the value in, or ever aspire to. Like what do you actually do? Like what do you build? People pay you for that? Or to frame it as they would, if they knew the language, ‘A justified cynicism of an out of touch bureaucratic elite.’ Vaccines are being touted by those types of elites. So they must be questioned. Must be pushed back against…. There is about 15% – 30% of the population who won’t get vaccinated, almost no matter how hard you try. It has become core to who they are. The only way to possible reach them is by people like them. You can’t put an outsider on the TV to preach to them. Certainly not one with lots of credentials. It has to come from within their community. But not the mayor, or the local this or that. It has to be a normie like them.”


Health Care Crisis

Will California Get Its Shot at Single-Payer Health Care?

[Capital & Main, via Naked Capitalism 11-14-2021]


“Why Health-Care Workers Are Quitting In Droves”

[The Atlantic, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-16-2021]

“She felt like a stranger to herself, a commodity to her hospital.” She felt that way because she is. That’s what selling your labor power for a wage is all about. It’s not a metaphor. More: “[Morning Consult] found that 31 percent of the remaining health-care workers have considered leaving their employer, while the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses found that 66 percent of acute and critical-care nurses have thought about quitting nursing entirely. ‘We’ve never seen numbers like that before,’ Bettencourt told me. Normally, she said, only 20 percent would even consider leaving their institution, let alone the entire profession. Esther Choo, an emergency physician at Oregon Health and Science University, told me that she now cringes when a colleague approaches her at the end of a shift, because she fears that they’ll quietly announce their resignation too. Vineet Arora, who is dean for medical education at University of Chicago Medicine, says that ‘in meetings with other health-care leaders, when we go around the room, everyone says, ‘We’re struggling to retain our workforce.’”


Drug overdose deaths top 100,000 annually for the first time, driven by fentanyl, CDC data show

[CNN, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-18-2021]



“Dutch Divorce: How Shell Split With Netherlands After 114 Years”

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-17-2021]

Shell leaves the Netherlands for London. “‘Shell threatens to leave because they have to pay taxes on dividends,’ Jesse Klaver, the leader of GroenLinks, a left-wing political party, tweeted on Monday. ‘What does the cabinet do? Propose to scrap the entire tax. That is not the solution, that is blackmail. Who runs the Netherlands actually?’ The relationship between Shell and its home country had been under strain for some time. Hosting a company that pumps more than 3 million barrels equivalent of oil and gas each day is increasingly awkward for many in Dutch society, even though Van Beurden has committed the company to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Earlier this year, a judge ruled Shell’s transition to clean energy wasn’t happening quickly enough and ordered the company to slash greenhouse gases even faster out of respect for the human rights and opinions of Dutch citizens. Last month, the pension fund for government employees in the Netherlands decided in to dump all oil company shares, a decision that infuriated Shell’s management team.”


“Ice on the edge of survival: Warming is changing the Arctic”

[Associated Press, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-16-2021]

“The fate of the Arctic looms large during the climate talks in Glasgow — the farthest north the negotiations have taken place — because what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. Scientists believe the warming there is already contributing to weather calamities elsewhere around the world. ‘If we end up in a seasonally sea ice-free Arctic in the summertime, that’s something human civilization has never known,’ said former NASA chief scientist Waleed Abdalati, a University of Colorado environmental researcher. ‘That’s like taking a sledgehammer to the climate system.’ What’s happening in the Arctic is a runaway effect. ‘Once you start melting, that kind of enhances more melt,’ said University of Manitoba ice scientist Julienne Stroeve. When covered with snow and ice, the Arctic reflects sunlight and heat. But that blanket is dwindling. And as more sea ice melts in the summer, ‘you’re revealing really dark ocean surfaces, just like a black T-shirt,’ Moon said. Like dark clothing, the open patches of sea soak up heat from the sun more readily. Between 1971 and 2019, the surface of the Arctic warmed three times faster than the rest of the world, according to the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program.”


“Enormous cost of relocating US climate refugees from coastal town a stark example for the whole world, researchers warn”

[Frontiers Science News, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-16-2021]

“The town of Tangier on Tangier Island, Chesapeake Bay, has lost 62% of its original habitable upland area since 1967, a new study has found. It will see further decline within the next 15-30 years, leaving hundreds of people without homes and income. The researchers estimate that fully protecting and restoring the town would cost roughly between $250m and $350m. The case of Tangier is a prime example of the consequences of continued sea level rise and human displacement due to the climate crisis…. A prominent example of the consequences of human driven sea level rise is the case of the Tangier in Tangier Island, Chesapeake Bay, US. Tangier Island is one of the last remaining inhabited islands in Chesapeake Bay and is primarily a fishing community. The town’s population has shrunk from more than 1,100 inhabitants in the early 1900s, to 436 in 2020 and consists of three upland ridges: Canton, Main, and West.”


“The carbon capture plants that COP26 didn’t discuss”

[Nation of Change, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-19-2021]

A summary of carbon capture options, not completely accurate IMNSHO (BECCS is not “promising”). But this is interesting: “Unfortunately, even this broad look at the problem of carbon capture fails to discuss two other solutions which are relatively inexpensive and which avoid problems that trees involve. These two solutions are cultivating hemp and bamboo. Both of these grow a lot faster than trees, provide better carbon capture, and offer product uses that many of the other solutions do not offer…. Why weren’t these plants discussed at COP26? Probably because hemp has a bad reputation of being related to marijuana, and bamboo is an enemy of wood lumber companies. But those aren’t good reasons. Fast growing plants are better than trees and cheaper than mechanical devices like DAC. The time has come to stop viewing these plants with a blind eye and start to use them in an effective way.”


Creating new economic potential – science and technology

NASA spacecraft will slam into asteroid in first planetary-defence test

[Nature, via Naked Capitalism 11-20-2021]


First electric autonomous cargo ship launched in Norway

[TechXplore, via Naked Capitalism 11-20-2021]


The Brain Can Recall and Reawaken Past Immune Responses

[Quanta Magazine, via Naked Capitalism 11-20-2021]


Some outstanding photos of the longest partial moon eclipse in 580 years

[DailyKos, 11-19-2021]


Green New Deal – An opportunity too big to miss

“World’s first all-electric freight locomotive to be used in western PA”

[GoErie, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-16-2021]

“Roy Hill, an iron ore mining, rail and port operation in western Australia, was the first announced buyer of Wabtec’s new FLXdrive, a battery-electric locomotive built in Erie. The company’s second order, however, promises to put the innovative new locomotive — which creates a hybrid train when paired with one or more diesel locomotives — on a stage closer to home. Canadian National has announced plans to purchase Wabtec’s 100% battery-electric locomotive to operate on its Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad, which runs from the PIttsburgh suburb of Penn Hills to Conneaut, Ohio. No sale price was announced for the purchase, which was supported in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.” • The locomotive is pictured; it lacks the enormous radiators that today’s EMD and GE diesels use to throw off their excess heat.


Information Age Dystopia

Vizio makes more money spying on people who buy TVs than it does on TVs themselves

[Pluralistic, via The Big Picture 11-16-2021]

Time and again, we learn that companies spy on you whenever it suits them even companies that make a lot of noise about how they don’t need to spy on you to make money. If a company has power because of lock-in and if the company can make money by abusing you, it will abuse you.


Surveillance Capitalism: You Are the Object of a Secret Extraction Operation

[New York Times, via The Big Picture 11-16-2021]

Facebook reached trillion-dollar status in a single decade by applying the logic of surveillance capitalism — an economic system built on the secret extraction and manipulation of human data — to its vision of connecting the entire world. Facebook now control information flows and communication infrastructures across the world.


Amazon liable for crash because software “micromanages” delivery drivers, victim says

[ars technica, via Naked Capitalism 11-16-2021]


“Amazon Sued Over Crashes by Drivers Rushing to Make Deliveries”

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-16-2021]

“[Ans] Rana filed a lawsuit in Georgia state court, alleging that Amazon is liable for [his] accident, [after which he will never walk again]. Central to the complaint: the algorithms, apps and devices the company uses to manage its sprawling logistics operation. Amazon says it isn’t legally culpable because the driver worked for Harper Logistics LLC, one of thousands of small businesses launched in recent years specifically to deliver Amazon packages. By focusing on the key role played by the algorithms, Rana’s attorney, Scott Harrison, is looking to prove that the company controls the operation, managing everything from how many packages drivers must deliver to whether they should be kept on or fired. Demonstrating Amazon isn’t just a customer of Harper Logistics, but actually manages it from afar, is critical to any attempt to put the e-commerce giant on the hook for Rana’s medical bills and a lifetime of diminished earnings. Amazon closely tracks delivery drivers’ every move, the lawsuit states, including “backup monitoring, speed, braking, acceleration, cornering, seatbelt usage, phone calls, texting, in-van cameras that use artificial intelligence to detect for yawning, and more.” If drivers fall behind schedule, Amazon employees send text messages “complaining that a certain driver is ‘behind the rabbit’ and needs to be ‘rescued’ to ensure that all the packages on Amazon’s route are delivered in compliance with Amazon’s unrealistic and dangerous speed expectations.”Most commercial vehicle injury lawsuits are settled quietly between attorneys and insurance carriers. Rana’s case stands out for the severity of his injuries and his legal team’s argument that Amazon’s technological hold over its delivery partners makes it culpable in the crash.”


The Pentagon’s $82 Million Super Bowl of Robots

[Washington Post, via The Big Picture 11-20-2021]

The competition was a major test of the proposition that someday teams of robots could help first responders assess disaster zones before risking human lives. It also marked an audacious step toward robot independence, since the robots would have to do their work mostly beyond human control. Inside a three-year competition that raises the question: How long until humans are obsolete?


Collapse of Independent News Media

“The end of “click to subscribe, call to cancel”? One of the news industry’s favorite retention tactics is illegal, FTC says”

[Nieman Labs, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-16-2021]

“Discovering they had to get on the phone to cancel a subscription they signed up for online rankled several respondents in our survey looking at why people canceled their news subscriptions. The reaction to the call-to-cancel policy ranged from ‘an annoyance’ and ‘ridiculous’ to ‘shady’ and ‘oppressive.’… The Federal Trade Commission, meanwhile, recently made it clear that it sees the practice as 1) one of several ‘dark patterns that trick or trap consumers into subscriptions’ and 2) straight-up illegal. The FTC vowed to ramp up enforcement on companies that fail to provide an ‘easy and simple’ cancellation process, including an option that’s ‘at least as easy’ as the one to subscribe.”

See Naked Capitalism here in 2019 on dark patterns.


NYT in Translation: Democrats Shouldn’t Challenge Oligarchy

[Consortium News, via Naked Capitalism 11-20-2021]


Institutionalists = Obstructionists

Obama’s Failure to Adequately Respond to the 2008 Crisis Still Haunts American Politics

Jacobin, via Naked Capitalism 11-15-2021] From October, still germane.


It’s Not Just White People: Democrats Are Losing Normal Voters of All Races

Ryan Grim, Intercept, via Naked Capitalism 11-16-2021]


Dems Are Giving The GOP Another Political Bailout

David Sirota, November 16, 2021 [The Daily Poster]

The last time Democrats held the presidency and Congress, the party spent its first year in power enriching big banks that had cratered the economy and then letting public money subsidize the Wall Street bonuses of their campaign donors. The spectacle gave Republicans a political bailout in the 2010 midterms, allowing the GOP to depict itself as anti-establishment populists challenging an elitist government.

Twelve years later, history is rhyming. Democrats were vaulted into office on popular promises to tax the wealthy, but they are now generating national headlines about their proposal to provide new tax breaks narrowly targeted to enrich their affluent blue-state donors, just as a new survey shows nearly two thirds of Americans see the party as “out of touch with the concerns of most people.” And now the Republican machine is already gearing up to demagogue the issue in 2022….

The GOP seems to sense the opportunity already. Its media and political apparatus is already weaponizing the SALT proposals ahead of the 2022 elections.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page and the Heritage Foundation are deriding Democrats for trying to give new tax breaks to the wealthy. Similarly, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) recently tweeted, “The Democrats’ SALT tax deduction is almost exclusively a tax cut for the rich. They’re out here yelling ‘tax the rich’ while crafting handouts for the wealthy behind closed doors.”

In October, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) criticized “Democrats’ obsession with the so-called SALT cap,” saying: “Even as our colleagues draft the biggest tax hikes in half a century, they cannot resist the concept of special tax cuts for high earners in blue states.”


[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-16-2021]


“The Outer Limits Of Corporate Politics”

David Sirota and Andrew Perez, October 28, 2021 [The Daily Poster].

“Democratic Party leaders on Thursday united around a plan to halve their economic agenda, which had already been nearly halved a few months ago. The full loaf is really a quarter loaf, but at this point, it’s actually less than that, because they also slashed promised regulatory and tax provisions that might have reduced medicine prices, provided workers some paid leave, and made billionaires start paying taxes. In the coming days, we will learn more of the granular details in the 1,600-plus page bill — but the overall agreement amid a flood of industry campaign cash is an illuminating moment: It reveals the outer limits of possibility for corporate politics, and the human costs of those politics. In general, the reason the Democratic Party always sounds so helplessly incoherent is because its lawmakers are trying to simultaneously appease their corporate donors and look like they are fulfilling their public promises to fix problems created by those corporate donors. In most cases, this is impossible. You cannot protect pharmaceutical and fossil fuel industry donors and also reduce the price of medicine and solve the climate crisis. If you try to pretend you can do both, the donors always eventually win out. So you end up talking in circles, complaining accurately about the problems while doing nothing to solve them, and then portraying marginal victories as huge wins to voters who must wonder why their lives aren’t improving.”


[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-19-2021]


Pharma Dems Saved The Drug Industry Half A Trillion Dollars

[The Daily Poster, November 17, 2021]

Corporate Dems saved Big Pharma $450 billion by watering down the party’s drug pricing plan.
Big Pharma’s massive lobbying campaign and advertising offensive against Democrats’ drug pricing plan saved the industry nearly half a trillion dollars. That represents a return of more than 1,700 times the investment the drug industry has made on lobbying Congress this year.
This outcome illustrates why industry groups are willing to throw ungodly sums of money at influencing Washington lawmakers. While spending hundreds of millions on lobbying and advocacy efforts might seem exorbitant, it’s nothing compared to the hundreds of billions these business interests stand to lose if legislative decisions don’t go their way.

The dark side

The Man Who Made January 6 Possible: The story of Johnny McEntee—the “deputy president” who rose to power at precisely the moment when democracy was falling apart

[The Atlantic, via The Big Picture 11-14-2021]

How the Trump amateur hour was pushed into prime time. Hard to believe details of boorishness and thuggery. 


Marco Rubio Is Burnishing His Nihilist Credentials in a Political Party Gone Mad 

Charles Pierce [Esquire, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-18-2021]



2021 Fundraiser


Comment Moderation


  1. Hugh

    Tony begins with articles that show fascism is alive and well in the US. These are not people who are silly or misguided. They mean it.

    ” It is not obvious what we should call these citizen-aliens, these non-American Americans; but they are something else.”

    Fascism needs enemies, people it can blame. What the fascist Glenn Ellmers wants is to make them into the New Jews. American fascists are different from their German forebears in that they are more like the Taliban. Being ideologically pure is more important than knowing how to do anything useful, like run a country. What they don’t get and their ideology blinds them from seeing is that most of the brains and brawn it takes to make a country work, the essential workers and experts, aren’t them.

    This is also what keeps them so attached to an idiot like Donald Trump. He gives them permission to come out of the woodwork. As President, he even lent them a certain legitimacy. In this, they have found unexpected support from a media and political Establishment who refuse to call them what they are, fascists, be cause if they did, they would have to something about them. So much easier to pretend they’re not really there. Who knows, maybe they will go away on their own.

  2. bruce wilder

    Very first comment a Godwin’s Law violation — good job, Hugh.

    I wish I could disagree on how alarming the polarizing division is, but I may be more alarmed by Hugh’s taking the clickbait than I am by the “revelation” that Hillsdale College and Claremont nurture the “intellectual” far-right. These institutions have been doing it for a long, long time. We have to look much harder — much, much harder at ourselves — to really see what is going wrong in the polity, making “civil war” — or just escalating political violence in a country where mass-shootings are hardly even news anymore — very real possibilities.

    I wish Tony had picked up the MIT Technology Review article on how Facebook and Google pay clickbait factories to flood the world with disinformation that feeds political outrage.
    It doesn’t really tell us much more about how this all works than anyone who is paying attention already knows and it focuses on far away conflicts (Burma), but what is most revealing in the essay is unintentional: the “fake” in fake news is just the hook, but not the chosen enemy of the journalists / editors at MIT Tech Review. The enemy is radicalism and the displacement of mainstream sources of information. If this is how the PMC “think” about the problem, this is not going to end well.

    What MIT Tech Review gets right, I think, is that the problem of polarizing politics is systemic — a product of a system of news/political opinion dissemination and not of the intentions of people who play malevolent agents/actors on teevee and teh internets. If he had not killed two people and seriously wounded a third, Kyle Rittenhouse would be just another pathetic teenager getting carried away, but now he gets to fill the rice bowls of millionaire Cable TV hosts and random loudmouths on YouTube and Twitter.

  3. different clue

    One of the articles asks ” what will we call these not-American-anymore people?”

    One could call them Americanons.

    Or one could be more brutally descriptive and call them Republicanazi Fascistrumpanon Americanons.

  4. StewartM

    Bruce Wilder

    I may be more alarmed by Hugh’s taking the clickbait than I am by the “revelation” that Hillsdale College and Claremont nurture the “intellectual” far-right.

    largest funders of the Claremont Institute are the Sarah Scaife Foundation ($300,000 to $400,000 a year for the past several years; the John M. Olin Foundation ($100,000 annually), and The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation ($100,000 annually).

    If you watched William F. Buckley’s “Firing Line” and the credits. you’d recognize these names. This is not a case of “mainstream conservatives becoming radicalized”, it’s more a case of “movement conservatives showing what they really were all along”–an ideology fundamentally at odds with democratic and popular government and tolerating it (as Gay Wills wrote) only when it provided a facade behind which the conservative “true elites” of a society could maintain and exercise power. Once that was no longer true, they were ready to ditch it.

    And–their readiness to use force against their political opponents and crack heads show their true commitment to “liberty”. Again, if you remember the 1950s and 1960s and the Civil Rights movement, the “Support Your Local Police” bumper stickers were printed and distributed by these very same folks.

    We deconstructed the German state apparatus after WWII to get rid of these types, not only the outright Nazis but their fellow traveler conservatives who had aided and abetted the Nazis. We needed to do the same here; but instead, starting with Truman and continuing through Eisenhower, we purged the Left instead.

  5. bruce wilder


    I’m from Michigan and I live in Southern California — I have known all along what Hillsdale and Claremont were all about. People who were repulsed by Trump (and who wouldn’t be?) but were delighted to see Lincoln Project come to the defense of the Republic . . . well . . . lots of people in this country do not want to face who these plutocrats and their servants are and always have been. What is new is not this capitalist right, but the near absence of an organized populist or socialist left.

    I’d be careful with an easy story that they were purged in the McCarthy era. In a more egalitarian era, a younger, foolish generation did not see the need to fight against the rich and powerful business. Those were the ones who saw William F Buckley as a droll sesquipedalianist on teevee instead of their class enemy and a viciously anti-democrat.

    Abandoning institutions like the CIA or the Defense Department to their monopoly power is almost worse than ceding the Federal Reserve. The soi disant Left did not want to govern, because it would mean grubby struggles for power and learning the details of policy — not when personal fulfillment beckoned in endless reenactment of now anachronistic protest in the causes of anti-racism and sexual politics.

  6. Astrid


    Indeed. When we wonder about why the left is so feeble in the US, we shouldn’t assume that Americans are incapable of leftist movements (the very active progressive and labor movements of the 19th and early 20th century show we are) but look at who actively destroyed the left for the past 3 generations, until all we have left are Bernie and The Squad, who are only allowed because they lack the spine or even intellectual capacity to act.

  7. Plague Species

    Excellent retort, StewartM, but we must take care never to side with one faction of the wealthy elite versus another in what is a class war. The wealthy elite, whatever side, is the enemy. They may be having a squabble, but when it comes to us versus them, their side, the them, has solidarity against the unwashed whereas our side, the us, has virtually no solidarity let alone cognizance and organization. Morning Joe does not an evolution make and yet it informs the PMC and wealthy elite daily.

    Quite The Pickle

    Perhaps this is what the stoking of a civil war is all about. The wealthy elite know the gig is up and the carrot that engenders PMC capitulation and subservience is rotting from the inside out and is soon no more. A civil war would distract from seeing the true enemy — the wealthy elite. They can, once again, divide and conquer as the wealthy elite always have done throughout history with a few notable exceptions — early 20th century Russia being one such example.

    The wealthy elite have long viewed fascism as a stop gap at times like these when capitalism has run amok and backed itself into a corner. The wealthy elite of Germany and Italy sided with the fascists and backed them to power. America and England had their fair share of wealthy elite who were sympathetic to Hitler and Mussolini. Same goes for Canada. Yes, Canada believe it or not. Home of Enbridge.

    See link

  8. Ché Pasa

    The issue wrt the crypto-Nazis in our midst is that the US and most of the Anglo-sphere has never come to grips with the significant minority that believes the Allies were on the wrong side in WWII. We saw a fluorescence of that point of view during the Bush-Cheney regime — all but openly stated by Rumsfeld among other regime pooh-bahs. For them, the issue was how to reverse history and restore the world to its Anglo-Saxon/ Aryan righteousness which had been lost during the FDR years and afterwards.

    This minority is and has long been very influential and it will seize power given the opportunity and favorable political winds. In that context, Trump was an experiment in just how much these people could get away with – and they got away with a lot. We’ll be living with that legacy for many years to come, perhaps most apparent in the continuing inability to appropriately address the climate crises. Those who keep us from doing so simply don’t want an appropriate response. They will do most anything to prevent it.

    So it goes.

    The crypto-Nazis are winning. Or maybe in actuality they’ve already won. Rather than stomping it out as should have happened, Americans (and many others) have rather passively accepted the triumph of crypto-Nazi will. There’s no going back, but I hope there is a way to change it, even if at the moment, it seems to be too late.

  9. bruce wilder

    A brave new world combining a corporate, privatized surveillance state and robot servants — finally a fascism capitalists can love. (As it happened, 1940s fascism was not a winner — too much state enterprise, not to mention all the boom-boom)

    And, do not think it is not a fully bipartisan project.

    My fantasy is that some one who actually cares about progressive economic policy and changing the political system to allow votes to trump dollars (even just threaten the possibility) steps forward and challenges Madame Pelosi — refer her to ethics, refer her for criminal prosecution for insider trading. On social media, people openly mimic her stock market trades (“and never lose”) — the corruption is open and unambiguous. It is only partisan loyalty that keeps her 80 year old butt in her seat instead of jail.

    It is just a fantasy, but it gives perspective on what it takes to break the power of the mega-wealthy — there cannot be mega-wealthy and being their servant has to be criminal.

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