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

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – October 8, 2023

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – October 8, 2023

by Tony Wikrent


Hamas Attacks, What Does It Mean?

Ian Welsh, October 7, 2023

Hamas actually captured the Israeli southern command base briefly. It was retaken with massive air strikes (meaning Israel was willing to hit its own people.) In the initial 12 hours or so they wiped the floor with local Israeli forces….

As I have said repeatedly, and as the last war with Hezbollah showed, the Israeli army, no matter how many weapons or men or planes it has, is weak and incompetent. This is not the military of 1967 or even 1980, when the legend of Israeli military brilliance was created.

This is due to serving primarily as an occupation army. All occupation armies, fighting against the weak, become weak, brutal bullies incompetent at fighting real opposition.

The Israeli army was slow to respond, a general was captured and a command base. This is, again, humiliating.


Humiliation is the word of the day. Just as a bully whose victim manages to get in a few good punches has to be brutal in response, so Israel will lash out massively….


In some ways this is the bottom line. Israel has nukes. If they did not, I would expect Iran to join in and if I were Egypt, I might invade. Israel is weak and humiliated. But as long as they have nukes, other countries will shy off from direct war unless they think they have a way of taking out those nukes.

Diplomatic Damage

Israeli-Saudi Arabia negotiations are dead for the time being and other Arab allies will not be able to do anything but condemn Israel. There are massive demonstration in support of Hamas in Turkey, Egypt and many other Muslim countries….

The Ukraine Connection

Of significant amusement is that it appears that much of the weaponry used by Hamas is from stockpiles sent to Ukraine and sold on the black market. This spread of weaponry was predicted and lo….


Invading Mexico to Destroy the Drug Cartels? Here’s How!

Harold Meyerson, October 5, 2023 [The American Prospect]

The Republican candidates for president, The New York Times reports, have united around a common solution for the scourge of fentanyl and other drugs coming across the border: invading Mexico. Almost to a person, they are calling for sending our armed forces—chiefly, special operations troops—into Mexico “to annihilate the Mexican drug cartels,” as Vivek Ramaswamy recently put it.

More than 20 Republican House members are co-sponsoring a bill that would authorize the deployment of U.S. forces against nine of those cartels. And a Reuters/Ipsos poll from September shows considerable public support for such action: By a 2-to-1 margin (52 percent to 26 percent), respondents favored sending troops there to take on the cartels. Even Democrats were narrowly divided: While 47 percent opposed such action, 44 percent backed it.


John Helmer [via Naked Capitalism 10-03-2023]

Who Is Operating Ukraine’s New Abrams Tanks? Presence of U.S. or Polish Contractors Likely 

[Military Watch Magazine, via Naked Capitalism 10-01-2023]

Army War College Report Predicts Mass Casualties in Near-Peer Fight Against [Russia] – Analysis 

[Simplicius the Thinker(s), via Naked Capitalism 10-05-2023]

…The general gist of their chief point of concern is something we’ve all known, and something I’ve continuously written about, including in the previously posted report. It’s the fact that the past two decades of U.S. military action abroad have been nothing more than glorified policing actions against insurgent threats, dealing primarily with COIN (Counter Insurgency) training, tactics, and general strategic doctrine.

They now understand that years of fighting in a way where signal dominance and air supremacy reigned, allowed the U.S. to become undisciplined and lax, never having to worry about being ‘contested’ in any domain. This is the same point made by Dr. Philip Karber’s West Point Talk, where he repeatedly emphasized how bright the U.S. army’s rear logistical and C2/C3 points “glow” in the electromagnetic spectrum, and how easily this would be seen and pinpointed by Russia or any advanced peer force….

The Plan to Avert a New Cold War

Blaise Malley, October 5, 2023 [The New Republic]

Michael Doyle’s new book lays out how to avoid conflict with China and Russia.


Strategic Political Economy

Political vs. Physical Tipping Points

Ian Welsh, October 7, 2023

Back in the 2000’s I belonged to the Netroots movement. Our mantra was “more, better democrats.” We ran primaries, fundraised and put pressure on politicians, on top of all the normal blogging stuff, much of which we were the first mass practitioners of.

We failed. Obama was our loss moment, as he bypassed us and was able to get our readers without having to appease us.

But Obama was something more important. The financial crisis of 2007-9 was a moment which would have allowed for radical change. An FDR figure could have changed the nature of America in their response to it, breaking up banks and other monopolies and letting a vast swathe of the rich go bankrupt and charging them with crimes, thus breaking their power for generations to come.

Obama didn’t do that. He didn’t even seriously consider it….

I considered it then, and now, a political tipping point. The financial crisis was the last real political chance to change the direction of society, globally (since an American response would have cascaded throughout the world, as it did), enough to perhaps stave off climate change and ecological collapse, since politically dealing with those required breaking the power of the wealthy.

The most important political tipping point was actually the neoliberal empowerment moment: 79’s election of Thatcher and 80’s election of Reagan. Clinton and Blair ascending to the top of the Democrats and Labor were the second political points, since each of them institutionalized the changes made by their Republican/Conservative predecessors. Thatcher understood well, noting that her victory was sealed by Blair….

The physical tipping point for climate change was reached this year or last year, I’m reasonably sure. The ecological collapse tipping point may have been somewhat earlier. The civilization collapse point has also probably passed, and I put that around 2020….

The year poverty began to end

Nate Bear [Do Not Panic, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-02-2023]

“From 2020 to 2021 every marker of poverty, from child poverty, to overall poverty, to food insecurity, to homelessness, plummeted in the richest countries….. In 2021, US poverty fell to a record low, as did child poverty, which was almost halved, an achievement without precedent in modern US history. These achievements equated to lifting nearly 5 million children out of poverty…. It turns out that when you give people money and food and homes, they no longer suffer from a lack of money and food and homes. It turns out that poverty in rich countries is a choice…. As this transformation was underway in 2020 and 2021, the media was flooded with articles along the lines of: will we learn the lessons from the pandemic? I think we know the answer. Who talks now about the unprecedented reduction in rich world poverty? No one. Not even the left. So predictably, all these gains have been lost…. Homelessness and poverty is capitalism’s live stream, broadcast everywhere to ensure you can never fully escape the sense of precarity about what might be.” • At least for Covid, we also tested a single payer system and found it workable. That was erased, too. (I like the metaphor of “capitalism’s live stream.”)

Democracy Awakening: historian Heather Cox Richardson on the state of America

TW: Q. Are we moving toward civil war? A. We already are in one (because of gun violence). A. Is there hope? Yes, because their moment for victory has passed, and the American people are paying attention now, unlike ten years ago.]

The Open Plot to Dismantle the Federal Government

(The Atlantic, via The Big Picture 10-03-2023]

 “As he runs again for a second term, Trump is vowing to ‘dismantle the deep state’ and ensure that the government he would inherit aligns with his vision for the country. Unlike during his 2016 campaign, however, Trump and his supporters on the right—including several former high-ranking members of his administration—have developed detailed proposals for executing this plan. Immediately upon his inauguration in January 2025, they would seek to convert thousands of career employees into appointees fireable at will by the president. They would assert full White House control over agencies, including the Department of Justice, that for decades have operated as either fully or partially independent government departments. Trump’s nearest rivals for the Republican nomination have matched and even exceeded his zeal for gutting the federal government. The businessman Vivek Ramaswamy has vowed to fire as much as 75 percent of the workforce. And Florida Governor Ron DeSantis promised a New Hampshire crowd last month, ‘We’re going to start slitting throats on day one.’ These plans, as well as the vicious rhetoric directed toward federal employees, have alarmed a cadre of former government officials from both parties who have made it their mission to promote and protect the nonpartisan civil service. They proudly endorse the idea that the government should be composed largely [doing a lot of work, there] of experienced, nonpolitical employees.”

Why Our Popular Mass Movements Fail

Chris Hedges , October 1, 2023 (Sheerpost)

The wave of global popular protests that erupted in 2010 and lasted a decade were extinguished. This means new tactics and new strategies, as Vincent Bevins explains in his book “If We Burn.”

The “techno-optimists” who preached that new digital media was a revolutionary and democratizing force did not foresee that authoritarian governments, corporations and internal security services could harness these digital platforms and turn them into engines of wholesale surveillance, censorship and vehicles for propaganda and disinformation. The social media platforms that made popular protests possible were turned against us.

Many mass movements, because they failed to implement hierarchical, disciplined, and coherent organizational structures, were unable to defend themselves. In the few cases when organized movements achieved power, as in Greece and Honduras, the international financiers and corporations conspired to ruthlessly wrest power back. In most cases, the ruling class swiftly filled the power vacuums created by these protests. They offered new brands to repackage the old system. This is the reason the 2008 Obama campaign was named Advertising Age’s Marketer of the Year….

An absence of political theory led activists to use popular culture, such as the film “V for Vendetta,” as reference points. The far more effective and crippling tools of grassroots educational campaigns, strikes and boycotts were often ignored or sidelined.

As Karl Marx understood, “Those who cannot represent themselves will be represented.”

If We Burn: The Mass Protest Decade and the Missing Revolution,” is a brilliant and masterfully reported dissection of the rise of global popular movements, the self-defeating mistakes they made, the strategies the corporate and ruling elites employed to retain power and crush the aspirations of a frustrated population, as well as an exploration of the tactics popular movements must employ to successfully fight back….

The seasoned activists who Bevins interviews echo this point.

“Organize,” Hossam Bahgat, the Egyptian human rights campaigner, tells Bevin in the book. “Create an organized movement. And don’t be afraid of representation. We thought representation was elitism, but actually it is the essence of democracy.”….

The Iranian American sociologist, Asef Bayat, who Bevins notes lived through both the Iranian Revolution in 1979 in Tehran and the 2011 uprising in Egypt, distinguishes between subjective and objective conditions for the Arab Spring uprisings that erupted in 2010. The protestors may have opposed neoliberal policies, but they also were shaped, he argues, by neoliberal “subjectivity.”

“The Arab revolutions lacked the kind of radicalism — in political and economic outlook — that marked most other twentieth-century revolutions,” Bayat writes in his book “Revolution without Revolutionaries: Making Sense of the Arab Spring.” “Unlike the revolutions of the 1970s that espoused a powerful socialist, anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, and social justice impulse, Arab revolutionaries were preoccupied more with the broad issues of human rights, political accountability, and legal reform. The prevailing voices, secular and Islamist alike, took free market, property relations, and neoliberal rationality for granted – an uncritical worldview that would pay only lip service to the genuine concerns of the masses for social justice and distribution.”

The Mass Disappointment of a Decade of Mass Protest

Osita Nwanevu, September 20, 2023 [The New Republic]

The demonstrations of the last decade were vast and explosive—and surprisingly ineffective….

The age of mass protest ushered in by the Arab Spring is hardly over, but that record of failures, setbacks, and cataclysms has been dispiriting even to many of the agitators and demonstrators who shaped the movements in question and whom Bevins has spent the last 10 years or so following and interviewing in search of answers. “The point was not just to notice that the mass protest decade hasn’t really worked out,” he muses toward the end of the book. “The idea was to understand why.” Fortunately, he comes away from his globe-trotting search with critical lessons for activists both here and abroad. Setting the world afire, it turns out, is easier than one might expect. Tending to the flames is harder.


Civic republicanism

Is America uniquely vulnerable to tyranny?

[Vox, via The Big Picture 10-01-2023]

…In their new book Tyranny of the Minority, Harvard political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt — the authors of How Democracies Die — argue America’s founders faced an analogous problem: navigating between two types of dictatorship that threatened to devour the new country.

The founders, per Levitsky and Ziblatt, were myopically focused on one of them: the fear of a majority-backed demagogue seizing power. As a result, they made it exceptionally difficult to pass new laws and amend the constitution. But the founders, the pair argues, lost sight of a potentially more dangerous monster on the other side of the strait: a determined minority abusing this system to impose its will on the democratic majority….

How Do We Survive the Constitution? 

Corey Robin, October 4, 2023 [New Yorker]

[TW: Robin, as usual, is worth reading in full.]

…The most influential authors of the Constitution were terrified of democratic majorities. They devised a government with a sluice of filters—at least six, which Levitsky and Ziblatt note is “an unusually large number”—to push majorities to the side. More than two centuries later, we still have this “uniquely counter-majoritarian democracy,” which is hardly a democracy at all…. All of the antislavery bills that passed the House between 1800 and 1860 were killed by the minoritarian Senate….

Many nations entered the twentieth century saddled with the yoke of counter-majoritarianism. They got rid of it. We haven’t, thanks to our mega-counter-majoritarian requirement for constitutional change, which is the sixth and most important filter. Two-thirds of both houses in Congress propose an amendment, and three-fourths of the states must then ratify it. According to Levitsky and Ziblatt, a political scientist has devised something called the Index of Difficulty to measure how hard it is to change a country’s constitution. Ours tops the list, by a wide margin….

…Yet Levitsky and Ziblatt aren’t equipped for war. Like many analysts, they believe that today’s right is driven by a primitive fear. Conservative voters fear the simple fact of demographic change. As immigrants, people of color, women, and sexual and gender minorities assume greater visibility, dominant groups—straight, white, cis, native-born men—fear a loss of status. That fear of erasure fuels the G.O.P.’s “turn to authoritarianism.” Holding on to government power is an “existential” imperative for the Party and the groups it represents.

This argument, now ubiquitous on the left, has come to seem like a natural law of the political universe, describing our most elemental drives of identity and anxiety. It makes sense that conservatives would believe it, as they’ve been pushing it since the French Revolution. But it poses a problem for the left, and for Levitsky and Ziblatt, in particular.

If dominant groups can get members of subordinate groups to identify with them, they may not need minoritarian tyranny to stay in power… Small shifts of nonwhite voters away from Democrats and the rise in the number of Republican candidates of color suggest that this phenomenon remains salient, even in the age of Trump. In today’s environment, where elections are won at the margin, the effects can be lethal….

It wasn’t always so. The United States has seen many movements for democracy. The successful ones have treated the Constitution not simply as a document of constraint, weaponized by the courts and politicians, but as a charter of expanding freedom, wielded by and for the people. As Joseph Fishkin and William Forbath detail in their wonderfully counterintuitive book, “The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution,” the very document that Levitsky and Ziblatt are so dissatisfied with is annotated with statements of astonishing democratic vision, penned by the great social movements of the past.

From the earliest days of the Republic, those movements insisted that the greatest threat to democracy is not the tyranny of one man but the oligarchic rule of wealth. Poor citizens, at the mercy of richer ones, could not be full citizens. More than a moral or political argument, this is a foundational claim about the Constitution and the economy, or what we might call the political constitution of the economy. When we think of the Constitution today, our minds drift to civil rights or to the obstacle course described by Levitsky and Ziblatt. Historically, Fishkin and Forbath remind us, Americans have thought of the Constitution as a weapon in the struggle for economic equality, as a real presence in their material lives….

Instead of accepting oligarchy as the inevitable consequence of the Constitution, the Populists and Progressives looked for alternatives in the text. Through a close reading of James Madison’s notes and papers, they uncovered an argument for the national government’s design and regulation of the economy. In the commerce clause, they found a tool for Congress to “secure the Blessings of Liberty,” which later proved critical to the passage of the Wagner Act—the cornerstone of workers’ right to organize unions—and the Civil Rights Act. The Gold Standard, which enriched bankers and burdened farmers, was deemed a violation of the equal-protection clause. And, in a brilliant marriage of substance and strategy, the Progressives joined forces with the feminist movement, arguing that women voters would help strengthen child-labor laws, health and safety protections, and so on….

…To overcome oligarchy—and Levitsky and Ziblatt’s tyranny of the minority—that political economy must be remade.

Reconstruction and the New Deal offer instructive examples. “By building up a ruling and dominant class,” the congressional Joint Committee on Reconstruction declared, slavery “produced a spirit of oligarchy averse to republican institutions.” Slaveholders had accumulated vast wealth and power, not just through enslavement but by forcing wage workers, Black and white, in the North and South, to accept harsh conditions on the ground that they weren’t as bad as slavery….

We’ve come to think that Reconstruction and the New Deal were defeated by racism and violence in the factories, fields, and streets. But the higher reaches of reaction took a different form: severing race from class and class from race. If overthrowing oligarchy required racial equality in the economy, the oligarchs could best maintain their position by hiving off civil rights from economic issues. Beginning in the eighteen-seventies, reactionary courts and liberal politicians narrowed the meaning of the Reconstruction amendments, applying them to Black Americans only, rather than to workers as a whole….

Regulation as Respect 

[Law and Contemporary Problems, via Naked Capitalism 10-04-2023]

From the Abstract:

The modern regulatory state does not have effective mechanisms for absorbing public perspectives in all their variety and nuance. Notice and comment rulemaking is a bust for ordinary people who want to be heard; structural reforms to inject more public voice into regulatory agencies have gone nowhere; and broadly deliberative, civic republican reform recommendations are not – have never been – a solution. Yet the problem goes deeper than just the need for some new communication tool. In recent decades, regulators’ responsibilities for exercising subject matter expertise have come to be lodged within a broader managerialist model, which evaluates success not by outcomes for ordinary people, but rather by reference to a separate layer of compliance metrics, private sector-derived methods, and a correspondingly hollowed-out normative mandate

Fascism as triage 

Steve Waldman [via Naked Capitalism 10-03-2023]

…A free and equal society, like all societies, requires that its public think and understand the world in ways conducive to the effective coordination at scale that prosperity and defense require. But a free and equal society does not have the luxury of overtly coercing its public to think as they are told. A free and equal society must persuade its public — with speech that individuals are genuinely free to reject, with carrots for prosocial behavior rather than punishments for dissenters — to develop ways of thinking under which people voluntarily, “naturally”, act in ways and within bounds consistent with the functioning of the polity.

A free and equal society is a harder thing to govern and to keep than a more authoritarian system which can impose ideology, culture, authority, hierarchy by force. But an effective free and equal society is a much better community for a human being to be a part of….


There Will Be Blood. Review: End Times: Elites, Counter-Elites and the Path of Political Disintegration, by Peter Turchin 

[Dublin Review of Books, via Naked Capitalism 10-03-2023]

…There are two primary and two secondary ‘structural drivers’ of instability. One of the latter is external political causes… The other is the state’s loss of legitimacy (usually accompanying a decline in its fiscal health), though this is often a product of the two primary structural drivers. These are ‘popular immiseration’ and ‘elite overproduction’, a combination which Turchin finds that again and again throughout history presages revolution or state collapse. As a driver of instability, popular immiseration needs little elaboration; the interest of Turchin’s analysis is that dangerous immiseration runs across classes, and is often masked. It means not starving masses of peasants, but generalised insecurity caused by stagnation of or decline in real wages over time, imperilling intergenerational upward mobility. Immiseration of this kind in the United States is very real, and is reflected in population vital statistics, not only in rising ‘deaths of despair’ (from suicide, drug abuse or alcoholism) among uneducated populations… Immiseration is commonly masked in statistical analyses concentrating on gross national or domestic product and consumer price indices; its sting is felt most harshly in larger, longer-term outlays, particularly the costs of education (student debt), healthcare and housing, all of which are far more expensive relative to median wages than in previous decades. In the US, in the forty years from 1976 to 2016, ‘the relative wage [wages divided by GDP per capita] lost nearly 30 percent of its value’.

Popular immiseration comes about because of what Turchin calls ‘the wealth pump’. This is the funnelling to a small number of elites of an ever greater proportion of a nation’s wealth. Where wages are depressed or stagnate, the money produced has to go somewhere else; since the proportion taken by the state in the US has remained relatively constant over decades, this has meant increasing profits to the extremely wealthy and an explosion in billionaires, centimillionaires and decamillionaires. The turning on of the ‘wealth pump’ in any society has calamitous consequences; if it is not turned off, in time revolution or collapse will ensue. One consequence of the situation is that entry into the elite (broadly, those in a society who bear some power or influence) becomes essential for any security in life, making places in elite professions or positions more desirable. This is one trigger for ‘elite overproduction’, a concept which can justly be called Turchin’s most important….

Who Did in Kevin McCarthy? Maybe Not Gaetz. Maybe Not Even Trump.

Timothy Noah, October 5, 2023 [The New Republic]

The bond market is a little like the pilot light on your furnace. You only remember that it exists when it flickers out. My onetime Wall Street Journal colleague David Wessel, who runs the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution, told me it “drives me nuts sometimes” that the only market indicator the press usually reports on is the stock market, when it’s really the bond market that affects normal people by raising or lowering the price of car loans and mortgages. Investors’ current flight from the bond market, which has pushed up 10-year Treasury bond yields to 16-year highs, is, Wessel said, “probably a more significant event in the economy than the stock market moving 500 points.”

To extend the pilot-light metaphor: The bond market has flickered out. There’s a huge sell-off going on, and, as Nick Timiraos wrote Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal, “the exact triggers for the move are unclear.”

…starting in mid-May, the bond market stopped making sense. Treasury yields resumed their climb, even though inflation was continuing to come down and the Fed was pretty obviously preparing to cut interest rates in 2024. According to Timiraos, “The likeliest causes appear to be a combination of expectations of better U.S. growth,” which will increase demand for borrowing, “and concern that huge federal deficits are pressuring investors’ capacity to absorb so much debt.”

….Almost nobody in my Harvard graduating class of 1980 did what Harvard President James Bryant Conant and Henry Chauncy, a Harvard assistant dean who went on to create the Educational Testing Service, envisioned Harvard graduates doing when, during the 1930s and 1940s, they assembled the machinery of the modern meritocracy. Conant and Chauncy thought they were creating a class of public philosophers who would guide American government into the twenty-first century. But almost nobody I knew in college went to work for the government. You know what they did instead? They became bond traders. That was 43 years ago, but things don’t appear to have much changed. Over the past 20 years, surveys have shown anywhere from one-third to one-half of all Harvard graduates went directly into finance or management consulting. If Harvard (and Yale and Princeton and Stanford) governs America, then it’s hard to escape the conclusion that America is governed by a bunch of bond traders….

… Biden is the bond vigilantes’ ally, to the limited extent anybody is. He wants to raise taxes. Wall Street wants to raise taxes! Only a Democrat can do that. I don’t think our bond-trader overlords give a damn whether the taxes are progressive or not, so we might as well make them progressive. Let’s do as the bond market tells us and raise taxes. It worked for Clinton, and it can work for Biden too.

The collapse in Treasury bonds now ranks among worst market crashes in history 

[Business Insider, via Naked Capitalism 10-06-2023]


Global power shift

GRAPH China is well past USA as the world’s biggest manufacturing power 

[Statista, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-03-2023]

Mineral-hungry clean tech sees countries seeking to escape China’s shadow  

[Agence France Presse, via Naked Capitalism 10-04-2023]

GRAPH — Geographic concentration of key minerals 

[Oil, Natural Gas, Copper, Nickel, Cobalt, Graphite, Rare Earths, Lihium]

How to Break China’s Hold on Batteries and Critical Minerals  

[Foreign Policy, via Naked Capitalism 10-05-2023]

Lovins’s insight was that people do not want oil or electricity but rather cold beer and warm showers, and there are easier ways to deliver those. Similarly, our goal today is not more lithium or copper—although we will surely need both. Rather, our goal is the ability to store energy so cars can run on electricity and the grid can handle much more energy from solar and wind that is not always available and therefore needs a backup source of power. As was true a half-century ago, there is a soft path to meeting the challenges of energy storage by reducing the need for critical minerals in the first place.

Rather than cram ever-larger and more mineral-intensive batteries into cars to extend driving range to 500 or 700 miles, for example, fast-charging that allows drivers to charge in minutes combined with more abundant charging infrastructure could allow drivers to embrace cheaper cars with smaller batteries and less range. Rather than use more and more minerals, technological innovation can reduce the amount and types of metals and other minerals needed for batteries, such as chemistry that replaces the need for lithium and copper with more plentiful sodium, aluminum, and manganese. New electrolytes can enable getting more energy out of the same mineral content in lithium-ion batteries so range can be extended without larger and more mineral-intensive batteries. Up to 10 percent of critical mineral needs can be met with improved recycling, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). And there are promising technological approaches in energy storage, such as pumped hydropower and compressed air, that avoid the use of batteries—and critical minerals—altogether.

$67 Billion of Rare Minerals Is Buried Under One of the World’s Biggest Carbon Sinks

[Wall Street Journal, via The Big Picture 10-04-2023]

A fight is brewing in Canada about how, or whether, to dig out materials essential for EV batteries that lie deep beneath vast peat bogs.

Restoring balance to the economy

GM Battery Workers Will Be Union

David Dayen, Lee Harris, Jarod Facundo October 6, 2023 [The American Prospect]

The union has secured that workers at General Motors’ joint-venture battery plants will be covered under the Big Three master agreement. It’s a major step in a just transition.

“Never Seen Anything Like It:” The Biggest Month in Antitrust in 50 Years 

Matt Stoller [BIG, via Naked Capitalism 10-01-2023]

[X-Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 10-02-2023]


Lawsuit Highlights Why Meat Has Been Overpriced for 40 Years

David Dayen, October 3, 2023 [The American Prospect]

Agri Stats lets meat processors coordinate their pricing. The Justice Department finally decided to go after what it calls collusion.

[X-Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 10-07-2023]


The Price-Fixing Economy 

Matt Stoller [via Naked Capitalism 10-07-2023]

Amazon Used Secret ‘Project Nessie’ Algorithm to Raise Prices 

[Wall Street Journal, via Naked Capitalism 10-05-2023]

The government’s case to break up Amazon, explained 

[Vox, via Naked Capitalism 10-05-2023]

The Bottomless Swamp of Regulatory Capture 

Charles Hughes Smith [via Naked Capitalism 10-07-2023]

As Richard Bonugli and I discuss in our podcast on How Regulatory Capture is a Net Negative to Society, The opportunities for grift are not a bug to those at the top of the democracy machinery, they’re a feature: how else can an opportunistic parasite gain wealth while “serving the public”?

In the old days, warlords exacted tolls at bridges and on pathways. Today, parasitic corporations stripmine the public with cartels, quasi-monopolies, price-fixing and predatory pricing mandated by the government. Look no further than Americans paying 7 to 10 times more for insulin than the citizenry in other developed nations for an example of how modern-day parasites maximize profits while delivering no additional value for the predatory 7X cost.

Theoretically, democracies are supposed to limit the pillage, predation and parasitic exploitation of the public by warlords–oops I mean corporations. But democracy is in effect a wide-open auction of favors in which corporations bid for loopholes inserted in 700-page congressional bills, regulatory tweaks that favor their interests at the expense of competitors and innovators that might threaten their monopoly, etc….

A BRICS+ Bank: How Would It Really Function?

Michael Hudson [Naked Capitalism 10-04-2023]

Finding the Money: New Documentary on the Paradigm-Shifting Modern Monetary Theory Features Levy Scholar Stephanie Kelton and Bard Economists

[Mike Norman Economics, October 31, 2023]


Information age dystopia / surveillance state    

How Google Alters Search Queries to Get at Your Wallet

[Wired, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-02-2023]

“Google likely alters queries billions of times a day in trillions of different variations. Here’s how it works. Say you search for ‘children’s clothing.’ Google converts it, without your knowledge, to a search for ‘NIKOLAI-brand kidswear,’ making a behind-the-scenes substitution of your actual query with a different query that just happens to generate more money for the company, and will generate results you weren’t searching for at all. It’s not possible for you to opt out of the substitution. If you don’t get the results you want, and you try to refine your query, you are wasting your time. This is a twisted shopping mall you can’t escape. Why would Google want to do this? First, the generated results to the latter query are more likely to be shopping-oriented, triggering your subsequent behavior much like the candy display at a grocery store’s checkout. Second, that latter query will automatically generate the keyword ads placed on the search engine results page by stores like TJ Maxx, which pay Google every time you click on them. In short, it’s a guaranteed way to line Google’s pockets. It’s also a guaranteed way to harm everyone except Google. This system reduces search engine quality for users and drives up advertiser expenses. Google can get away with it because these manipulations are imperceptible to the user and advertiser, and the company has effectively captured more than 90 percent market share. It’s unclear how often, or for how long, Google has been doing this, but the machination is clever and ambitious.”

A Digital Coup 

John R. MacArthur (Publisher’s Note) [Harper’s, via Naked Capitalism 10-04-2023]

“Zuckerberg fancies himself the pharaoh of the Web. He uses it to act beyond all regulatory limits, in defiance of national borders and democratic principles.”

In the early morning of June 23, the supranational company Meta (formerly Facebook) launched a digital coup against Canada, an ostensibly sovereign nation, consisting—as many Canadians but few Americans now know—of a pre-emptive strike launched by Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook. Its aim, clearly, was to intimidate Ottawa’s parliament and punish it for having dared to pass a law—C18, which was designed to promote fairness between the media and online platforms–that could eventually put an end to the systematic theft of the work of journalists and publishers whom Meta is currently outright robbing.

With another coup on August 3, using even harsher methods, this vengeful extortion campaign blocked public access to all Canadian and global media publications through Facebook and Instagram. Sharing ad revenues with those who deserve them—as law C-18 stipulates—is not part of the Meta strongman’s master plan.

An Orange County entrepreneur’s $60-million legal battle to stop Apple from steamrolling startups

[Los Angeles Times, via The Big Picture 10-06-2023]

Apple hatched a plan to obtain or emulate the technology without paying for it. Instead of acquiring it, Apple decided it could simply emulate its technology while raiding its brain trust. A decade later, they are locked in an acrimonious legal battle, alleging Apple infringed on his patents and stole trade secrets. If Kiani wins, it could stop Apple Watches, which are manufactured in China, from being imported into the U.S.

The New Push for Censorship Under the Guise of Combating Hate

[The Tablet, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-06-2023]

“What, then, do we know about the CCDH? In effect, it seems, the organization provides the White House with a powerful weapon to use against critics including RFK Jr. and Musk, while also pressuring platforms like Facebook and Twitter to enforce the administration’s policies. While few journalists have bothered to investigate the opaque group, the available evidence paints a picture that is likely different from what many in the public would expect of a ‘public interest’ nonprofit. The scale of the CCDH’s success must be emphasized for those unfamiliar with the crowded mob of D.C.-based nonprofits churning out reports that seldom get a passing glance from the nation’s policymakers. For a tiny, unknown, nonprofit to gain so much attention in D.C.’s crowded, competitive policy space is akin to a pudgy, amateur athlete catching the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl, while setting a new world record in the marathon, all in one week. So who is the CCDH’s founder and leader Imran Ahmed? Where does he get his money? Why did he decide to leave behind politics and start a nonprofit focused on misinformation? And perhaps most importantly, how did a relative unknown from London gain such enormous influence from the White House bully pulpit and within Democratic Party politics? Imran Ahmed is a political operative who spent several years advising conservative members of the British Labour Party before jumping into nonprofit campaigning to run two interrelated dark money groups: Stop Funding Fake News and the Center for Countering Digital Hate. Shortly after appearing on Twitter in 2019, Stop Funding Fake News claimed some very sizable left-wing scalps in London, mostly by lobbing vague accusations of fake news at political enemies. The group helped to run Jeremy Corbyn out of Labour Party leadership while tanking the lefty news site Canary, after starting a boycott of their advertisers, according to reports in British media outlets, sources who spoke with Tablet, and CCDH’s own claims of success

FCC issues first-of-its-kind space debris fine against Dish 

[CNN, via Naked Capitalism 10-03-2023]


The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

The Life and Death Stakes of Labor Power 

How Things Work, via Naked Capitalism 10-01-2023]

There is a new research paper out from Anne Case and Angus Deaton (the economists who coined the term “Deaths of Despair”), which is always an exciting opportunity to reflect upon a new way in which the United States of America’s shiny facade conceals a monstrous soul. The problems they identify, though, carry with them an inspiration for how to build a better path forward.

Their new study looks at mortality differences over time between Americans who do and do not have college degrees. The findings are grim. Those with degrees have always had longer life expectancies, but the gap has widened considerably in recent years. In 1992, people with degrees could expect to live 2.6 years longer than those without. By 2021, that gap had grown to 6.9 years—and for men, 8.3 years. Here are two charts which illustrate the trend unambiguously….

Workers Funding Other Workers’ Misery

Rachel Phua, October 4, 2023 [The American Prospect]

Billions of dollars in public pension fund money flow to private equity–owned firms that union-bust, violate labor laws, and put workers’ safety at risk.

A Nobel Laureate Offers a Biting Critique of Economics 

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism 10-03-2023]

Angus Deaton says Larry Summers and other great minds in the profession have lost sight of its most important mission: Improving people’s lives.

Accounting for the widening mortality gap between American adults with and without a BA 

Anne Case and Angus Deaton [Brookings Institution, via Naked Capitalism 10-01-2023]


Biggest Republican advantage on economy since 1991

[X-Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-03-2023]


Lawyers, Not Persuaders

Jarod Facundo, October 5, 2023 [The American Prospect]

The anti-labor law firm Littler Mendelson’s reputation is a premier example of the limitations in existing labor law.

How a Big Pharma Company Stalled a Potentially Lifesaving Vaccine in Pursuit of Bigger Profits 

ProPublica, via Naked Capitalism 10-06-2023]

When 80 percent of US generals go to work for arms makers 

[Responsible Statescraft, via Naked Capitalism 10-06-2023]


Climate and environmental crises

‘A ticking time bomb’: Why California can’t provide safe drinking water to all its residents 

[Los Angeles Times, via Naked Capitalism 10-01-2023]

The Climate Crisis Is Salting the Water in Major Coastal Cities 

[Common Dreams, via Naked Capitalism 10-02-2023]

Small farmers are up against California’s $1.1 billion carrot industry in a vicious fight over groundwater: ‘We are being totally overrun’  

[Fortune, via Naked Capitalism 10-02-2023]


Creating new economic potential – science and technology

DARPA Hopes to Beam Power Across 200 Kilometers 

[Spectrum IEEE, via Naked Capitalism 10-03-2023]

Ingenious solar distiller makes fresh water from seawater for less than 1¢ a gallon

skralyx, September 30, 2023 [DailyKos]

…This device breaks the record for rate of fresh water production from seawater by a solar device, and as awesome as that is, it’s actually kind of a charming side note.  The bigger breakthrough is that the device can keep running up near this rate for a long time without getting fouled by salt accumulation, and it does this by emulating natural processes that occur in the sea.  That cuts costs by about 10x compared to typical solar desalination, making the cost of the fresh water it produces comparable to that of tap water.

Oh, and because it doesn’t accumulate salt, it can process water containing up to 20% salt (seawater has only 3.5% salt, and salt-saturated water has about 26%).  Other solar desalination devices can’t even operate with water that salty.  That means you can use this kind of device to process the wastewater from existing desalination systems, to get even more fresh water.

Metal From Seawater

Lee Harris, October 1, 2023 [The American Prospect]

An Oakland, California–based startup has a business plan that sounds like modern alchemy: turning seawater into metal, and using it to build cars, airplanes, satellites, and drones.

Magrathea Metals, named after a planet in the Douglas Adams sci-fi epic The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is developing a more cost-effective way to reduce saltwater to cooked-down brines, and electrolyze the leftover salts to produce magnesium metal….

Metal from seawater may sound fantastical, but the U.S. was already making it a century ago. Dow Chemical began producing magnesium for aircraft, car parts, and bombs in the 1920s. In the 1940s, Dow refined the process Magrathea is now hoping to resurrect, gleaning magnesium from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.


Collapse of independent news media

While many small-town newspapers are vanishing, these Coloradans are working to keep local news alive 

[Colorado Sun, via Naked Capitalism 10-04-2023]

The Media Is Giving Us 2016 Flashbacks

[Vanity Fair, via The Big Picture 10-03-2023]

After four indictments, two impeachments, and one insurrection, Donald Trump shouldn’t be covered like a conventional candidate. And yet.


(anti)Democratic Party

Against the Current 

Andrew Cockburn [Harper’s, via Naked Capitalism 10-01-2023]

“Where’s the support for Democratic insurgents?”

Have They Gone Mad? 

Matt Taibbi, October 6, 2023

Hillary Clinton last night on CNN said of Trump supporters, “You know, maybe there needs to be a formal deprogramming of the cult members.” This among other things came in the context of a report in Newsweek to the effect that the federal government, and the FBI in particular, has “quietly created a new category of extremists that it seeks to track and counter: Donald Trump’s army of MAGA followers.”

That seems… like a lot of people? In addition to the obvious observation that people like Hillary seem increasingly unmoored from reality, as well as wilfully deaf to the political consequences of their words — Maybe we need to formally deprogram you makes the “Basket of Deplorables” episode seem like a Valentine’s Day card — someone should point out that a month ago, on September 8th, Joe Biden renewed the original State of Emergency issued three days after 9/11 by George W. Bush. We spent the last 22 years giving presidents the ability to surveil, isolate, and detain even American citizens….

Is the White Working Class anti-Immigrant?

Les Leopold, October 7, 2023

Our research for Wall Street’s War on Workers has uncovered compelling evidence that challenges stereotypical views about how working people view divisive social issues.

The dominant media narrative suggests that the white working class has grown increasingly illiberal on a wide range of social issues including race, gender, and immigration. Pundits, including many progressives, often claim, or assume, that these racist, homophobic, xenophobic white workers form the dreaded MAGA base that has welded the Republican Party to far right-wing positions on social issues.

Today’s newsletter examines a key survey question concerning undocumented immigrants. It comes from the Cooperative Election Study which has 524,713 respondents overall….

According to this mammoth survey, (many times more respondents than any pre-election poll we see in the media) the white working class is more than twice as likely now to support granting legal status to undocumented immigrants….

Our basic claim is this: The number one reason why working people have been abandoning the Democrats over the last 25 years is the failure of the party to address mass layoffs.  We estimate that during that time over 30 million working people have experienced layoffs involving 50 or more people.  These are life-shattering experiences for working people, especially in rural areas.

Our goal is to get this story out.  It’s time to stop blaming working people for positions they do not hold. And it’s time to understand just how Wall Street is financially engineering layoff after layoff.

It’s the Global Economy, Stupid

Lily Geismer, October 6, 2023 [The American Prospect]

A new book on the Clinton presidency reveals how it abandoned a progressive vision for a finance-led agenda for economics and geopolitics.


They’re not capitalists — they’re predatory criminals

Five-Count Felon JPMorgan Chase Gets Hit with Another Federal Fine for 40 Million Derivative Violations; Pays 37 1/2 Cents Per Violation

Pam Martens and Russ Martens, October 2, 2023 [Wall Street on Parade]

GOP Dysfunction On Display– Let The New Speaker Votes Commence; Patrick McHenry, Acting Speaker!

Howie Klein, October 3, 2023 []

I hate to do this to you, but it would really help if you could surf over to this 2007 post about McHenry’s involvement in a triple gay homocide-suicide. Short version: The murdered gay Republicans include Ralph Reed’s purported ex-lover, Ralph Gonzalez (former head of the rabidly homophobic Georgia Republican Party), GOP lobbyist David Abrami and McHenry guy-pal Robert Drake, allegedly the shooter. All three were victims in a murder-suicide in an Orlando apartment. According to right-wing website the North Carolina Conservative, “All three men were active in Republican politics.” They mention that Drake is “an associate” of McHenry’s but don’t define that. He is alleged to be an associate of quite a few younger men, some of whom are gay and some of whom are just gay-for-pay.

Drake was associated with the owner of a gay escort service in the Virginia Beach area. The owners of that escort service– there have been unconfirmed rumors that McHenry was both a client and a silent partner– are facing charges that they murdered Bryan Kocis, the owner of a rival gay escort service. When I called McHenry’s congressional office, the guy who answered the phone confirmed that Drake “worked” there but said he didn’t know what his duties were. When I asked to speak to the congressman or someone who would know, he put me on hold, then came back, audibly upset, and said he was mistaken and that he didn’t know anything and no one else was in the office and then quickly hung up on me. The murder was completely covered up by the Orlando police department and everything about it pretty much disappeared.

Lost Boys film-makers on exposing Brit-protected Troubles paedophiles 

[The Irish News, via Naked Capitalism 10-02-2023]

Lost Boys documentary links British intelligence to decades old mystery of missing boys 

[Belfast Live, via Naked Capitalism 10-04-2023]


(anti)Republican Party

The House GOP’s Self-Immolation

Robert Kuttner,  October 4, 2023 [The American Prospect]

It’s a mistake to see the Republican split as normal conservatives versus a far-right splinter. The vast majority of the GOP caucus is almost as extremist on the issues as the Gaetz faction, wanting drastic cuts in domestic spending including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Some of the more florid lunatics in the Republican Caucus, including Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene, did not even vote to oust McCarthy.

It has become conventional to view Matt Gaetz as someone purely on an ego trip to settle a personal score, with no convictions other than a wish to tear the House down. But if you listened to his performance last night, you could discern an ideology.

Gaetz’s attack on McCarthy for making a budget deal with Democrats is just a more extreme version of what most Republicans want. Only eight Republicans voted to depose McCarthy, but 90 voted against the budget deal that kept the government running for 45 days. The problem is that both the Gaetz version and the slightly less extreme version are wildly unrealistic, as substance and as politics.

Perhaps the most important takeaway is that this was a big personal win for Hakeem Jeffries. Going into this fight, some Democrats were uncertain whether their new leader had the stature or savvy to fill the giant shoes of Nancy Pelosi. He does. Over the weekend, there were rumblings that some “Problem Solver” Democrats were inclined either to support McCarthy against Gaetz or to vote “present” to tilt the arithmetic in McCarthy’s favor.

A Broken Congress Is What MAGA Always Wanted 

[Daily Beast, via Naked Capitalism 10-07-2023]

What Do Fascist Intellectuals Think About?

Howie Klein, October 3, 2023 []

Over the weekend, Jason Wilson explained a term popular among right-wing self-styled intellectuals: red caesarism. The idea is that because “an entire cosmopolitan class that includes much of the entrenched bureaucracy, the military, the media, and government-sponsored corporations” opposes the right-wing anti-democratic project, they need a “post-Constitutional leader,” a dictator.

Wilson wrote that “For the last three years, parts of the American right have advocated a theory called Caesarism as an authoritarian solution to the claimed collapse of the US republic in conference rooms, podcasts and the house organs of the extreme right, especially those associated with the Claremont Institute thinktank. Though on the surface this discussion might seem esoteric, experts who track extremism in the US say that due to their influence on the Republican party, the rightwing intellectuals who espouse these ideas about the attractions of autocracy present a profound threat to American democracy.Their calls for a ‘red Caesar’ are now only growing louder as Donald Trump, whose supporters attempted to violently halt the election of Joe Biden in 2020, has assumed dominant frontrunner status in the 2024 Republican nomination race. Trump, who also faces multiple criminal indictments, has spoken openly of attacking the free press in the US and having little regard for American constitutional norms should he win the White House again.

The idea that the US might be redeemed by a Caesar— an authoritarian, rightwing leader— was first broached explicitly by Michael Anton, a sleazy former private equity executive for CitiGroup and BlackRock and Trump presidential advise, now ensconced at Claremont. He wrote speeches for Rupert Murdoch and Rudy Giuliani. Ardently anti-American and violently Islamophobic, Anton is an Italian-born neo-fascist who argues that “Diversity’ is not ‘our strength’; it’s a source of weakness, tension and disunion.”….

Red airwave: America’s conservative talk radio saturation 

[Agence France-Presse, via Naked Capitalism 10-07-2023]

When the GOP establishment crafted immigration reform in 2007, conservative radio helped tank it, in what historian Paul Matzko calls “the beginning of the rise of ethno-nationalist nativism in American politics.”….

“We are all in this business as entertainers,” Katz acknowledges.

He dismisses their frequent insults — Biden was called a “walking vegetable” on Beck’s program — as on-air personalities just being “passionate” about politics.

“Conservatives in America have for a long time felt marginalized, they’ve felt that their voice is not respected,” Katz says….

Radio deregulation in 1987 opened the floodgates to partisan programming, and ex-DJ Rush Limbaugh, a master of political bombast, blazed a rightwing trail to challenge the National Public Radio network routinely accused of reflecting liberal sentiments.

“News talk radio at present is dominated by conservative hosts — and yes, it’s very influential,” says Michael Harrison, publisher of leading trade magazine TALKERS.

Back in 2016, several hosts were Trump skeptics. But they noticed their ratings jumped when he came on their show.

“The audience loved Trump,” Harrison says. “As a result, radio hosts started to be more Trump than they were before.”

Trump And The Rise Of Political Violence In America– He And His Cronies Must Be Held To Account — Why Isn’t Bannon In Prison Yet?

Howie Klein, October 5, 2023 []

“Bannon,” wrote Annie Karni, “represents a clear through line from the grievance-driven MAGA base to Congress. And his role in the meltdown that played out this week in the House helps explain why the Republican Party appears to be eating its own. He is a vital part of a feedback loop of red-meat media hits and social media posts, online fund-raising and unfettered preaching to an often angry and fervently right-wing base that rewards disruptions and detests institutions… [H]e offers an unfiltered platform where individual rabble-rousers can speak directly to the base, known on War Room as ‘the posse,’ creating more incentives for them to wreak havoc on the House floor… Bannon, an unrepentant agent of chaos, admits he was spoiling for a government shutdown. ‘You create a firestorm now that totally changes things,’ he said. ‘People right now think government is a benefit. I’m going to show government spending as cootie-infested.’”

Zach Basu wrote that Trump’ violent rhetoric has been growing more extreme as he contemplates, after all these decades of getting away with everything, Justice coming after him. “Since he left office,” wrote Basu, “Trump’s erratic behavior has been masked, numbed and normalized by the political fatigue permeating the media and the public. But his words’ violent turn in recent weeks— calling for a U.S. military leader to be executed, mocking a potentially fatal assault on a congressional spouse, urging police to shoot shoplifters— suggest a line has been crossed…. Much of the public may not be aware of Trump’s darkening rhetoric… but the people most likely to be radicalized by him or to act on his incitement already hear him, loud and clear.”

IMPEACHMENT: ‘Cognitive Warfare’ on Capitol Hill 

[Consortium News, via Naked Capitalism 10-02-2023]

John Kelly goes on the record to confirm several disturbing stories about Trump 

[CNN, via Naked Capitalism 10-03-2023]


Seymour Hersh [via Naked Capitalism 10-06-2023]

After 50 Years, This Right-Wing Law Factory Is Crazier Than Ever 

Arn Pearson, David Armiak [The American Prospect]

The American Legislative Exchange Council is where corporations and far-right groups go to buy government policy.

North Carolina Shuts Government Off From the People

Ramenda Cyrus, October 3, 2023 [The American Prospect]

A change to public records laws, which takes effect today, allows legislators full discretion to retain, sell, or destroy their own documents.


The (anti)Federalist Society Infestation of the Courts

This Supreme Court’s ‘Originalism’ Doesn’t Have Much to Do With History 

[Brennan Center for Justice, via Naked Capitalism 10-06-2023]

The main story that the originalism wants to tell—and then lock us all into for the rest of time—is the story of the Constitution’s “original meaning.” But historians know that the Constitution, like most texts or historical events, doesn’t have (just) one historical meaning. Debates over its meaning raged during its framing and its ratification. They were widespread through the struggles after the Civil War over the Reconstruction Amendments, amendments that continue to play an important role in American life. And they are still happening to this day because the Constitution is complex.…

The problems run deeper. The court’s originalist opinions strip away all the context necessary to make sense of the past. All historians know that context is key to understanding any historical source, including the Constitution. The court’s originalist opinions, however, lack that key background. They offer the public hyper-focused discussions of individual words and historical dictionaries alongside lists of citations to old statutes and cases that seem arbitrarily chosen (or arbitrarily rejected). Facts that are key to understanding what was going on at the time are omitted. Can one really interpret the Second Amendment without acknowledging that the vast difference in lethality between contemporary assault rifles and the “arms” borne by Americans in the late-18th century—commonly muskets and flintlock pistols that could only fire one round at a time and with little accuracy? This isn’t history. It’s just a collection of old things….

History can help us all—lawyers, judges, scholars, and everyday people—expose blind spots in old ways of thinking about the Constitution and point to new ones. It can shed light on the values and beliefs that have shaped our politics and law in the nation’s earliest years and show how later generations have met them, exceeded them, failed them, and changed them. It can present the stories of people who were excluded from constitutional decision-making in the past and challenge us to reconsider our constitutional commitments with their perspectives and interests in mind. Remember—history reminds us—women did not have the right to vote at the time the 14th Amendment was ratified. And that’s just for starters.

History can help the law move forward. Whatever the court’s doing in fixating on the past, it’s not doing that.

Consumer Agency Hated by Republicans Is in Fight of Its Life at Supreme Court 

[Yahoo!, via Naked Capitalism 10-03-2023]

Supreme Court Seems Hesitant to Toss Out the CFPB 

David Dayen, October 3, 2023 [The American Prospect]

Oral arguments today saw the justices skeptical that the Constitution doesn’t allow Congress to fund the CFPB in a particular fashion.

This Supreme Court Term’s Grimmest Cases Share One Thing in Common 

[Slate, via Naked Capitalism 10-02-2023]

A Supreme Court case about hotel websites could blow up much of US civil rights law 

[Vox, via Naked Capitalism 10-04-2023]

The Supreme Court Could Eviscerate Rent Control

Matt Ford, October 6, 2023 [The New Republic]

New York City landlords have petitioned the high court to repeal the laws that have benefited the city’s tenants for generations.

Maritime Coverage Case About To Make Waves at Supreme Court 

[New York Law Journal, via Naked Capitalism 10-04-2023]

Clarence Thomas’ Latest Pay-to-Play Scandal Finally Connects All the Dots

[Slate, via The Big Picture 10-01-2023]

ProPublica released a new report on Friday detailing Justice Clarence Thomas’ close relationship with the Koch brothers with previously undisclosed and extraordinarily damning new details. According to ProPublica, the justice developed a friendship with the Kochs as they were funneling hundreds of millions of dollars into right-wing causes, many of which ended up before the Supreme Court. The brothers then used Thomas to raise money for their sprawling network, inviting him to speak at “donor events” that brought in millions of dollars. He disclosed none of these activities on his annual disclosure forms, an obvious violation of federal ethics law.  If I were writing a column on SCOTUS I would have to title it “Criminal Justice”

A new Supreme Court case could trigger a second Great Depression

[Vox, via The Big Picture 10-01-2023]

America’s Trumpiest court handed down a shockingly dangerous decision. The Supreme Court is likely, but not certain, to fix it.



Open Thread


Hamas Attacks, What Does It Mean?


  1. somecomputerguy

    RE; US military’s loss of big war expertise; while that was happening, we need to remember it lost the small war it was supposedly focusing on.
    As for sending the above organization against the cartels, just be prepared to kill the entire collective membership of the cartels three times, and mysteriously still be fighting twenty years later. If we want the cartels to run Mexico, can’t we find a less bloody way to achieve that?

    Charles Smith is 40 years late; what we have now isn’t regulatory capture; its what happens when you render government powerless.

    Lily Geismer appear to be one of those scholars who does amazing work, but seems afraid to embrace the implications of her research, or declines to do so for tactical reasons. Her last book; “Left Behind
    the Democrats’ Failed Attempt to Solve Inequality”; New Dem Clintonites justified their policies on two grounds; they were still about helping the poor, just in a different way, with tough love. Or, they were necessary to win elections. Mysteriously, the poor are actually worse off, and Democrats can’t win elections against lunatics. Needless to say, the New Dem war on inequality ran the same way; when they started, inequality was just beginning to be a problem, after their remorseless opposition, it has metastasized into the controlling social pathology. Their policies were accomplishing the exact opposite of their stated aims, and yet they seem to have been completely undeterred. Golly gee, what if, their stated reasons weren’t their actual reasons?

    So SCOTUS is now accepting conservative cases tactically, for their extremism, for the purpose of shooting them down, to kill talk of reform.

  2. Soredemos

    Something I’ve noticed is that there is a highly idealistic (in the Marxist sense; material analysis vs thinking ideas drive events) strain among Russian thinkers and opinion makers, and those sympathetic to Russia often take to parroting it. This group is obsessed with the idea that there is a genocidal war aimed specifically at Russian civilization, that Russia is targeted simply because it is Russian. It’s a counterpart to the goofy American belief that ‘they hate us for our freedoms’. The US, Europe, NATO etc ostensibly hate Russia because it’s Russian, and this is a pathological hatred that goes back to at least Napoleon.

    It’s the complete abandonment of even the pretense of real geostrategic analysis. To me the much simpler explanation is that Russia’s ‘crime’ is being a great power striving to exist outside the Washington Consensus. No one in the West has a problem with Russia in the periods when it’s being sufficiently subservient. No one even thinks about it much at all, other than as the vaguely defined mysterious land movie villains come from.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén