Tag: Philosophy

Something that Trump Got Spectacularly Right

For decades, the Fed comported itself as an expert witness for deficit hawks on Capitol Hill.

Now, under the leadership of a Republican banker, the Fed is using its technocratic credibility to bolster big stimulus (and marginalize Larry Summers)https://t.co/LyyZxcssS8

— Eric Levitz (@EricLevitz) February 11, 2021

Because he is NOT an Economist

Specifically, he put Jerome Powell in charge of the Federal Reserve, whose background is as an investment banker rather than an economist, and because of this, he has not dedicated himself to fighting invisible mythical inflation preemptively, nor has he attempted to create prosperity by invoking the equally mythical confidence fueled austerity fairy.

It turns out that there is a profession more useless than that of the investment banker, it is that of the economist.

While Trump always found him too hawkish on monetary policy, he has been the most dovish Fed chair in at least 30 years, largely because he is not comparing penis size with other economists:

For most of the past four decades, the Federal Reserve has comported itself as a corroborating witness for deficit hawks on Capitol Hill, and a security system for anti-inflation paranoiacs on Wall Street.

In the late 1970s, stubbornly high inflation taught the central bank that the conflict between its dual objectives — to promote full employment and price stability — was fiercer than it had previously thought. Specifically, the Fed decided that it would need to preemptively cool the economy when unemployment got too low, so as to snuff out inflationary spirals before they took hold. This was because tight labor markets allowed workers to hold their employers hostage to unreasonable wage demands; with no reserve army of the unemployed to draw new hires from, bosses were forced to placate existing staff. Thus, employers ended up overpaying their workers and then trying to compensate by overcharging consumers. Workers, being consumers themselves, responded to such price hikes by extracting even higher wages from their employers, causing employers to enact even more extortionate price increases, setting off a vicious inflationary cycle. Therefore, central banks had to proactively preserve slack in the labor market — both by slowing economic growth through interest-rate hikes when unemployment got too low, and by encouraging Congress to rein in deficit spending lest it spur excessive demand for labor.


But times have changed — and so has the Fed.

Under Jerome Powell, the central bank has brought American monetary policy into belated alignment with federal law and empirical economics. Instead of attempting to preempt high inflation by sustaining a cushion of unemployment, Powell has waited for inflation to actually show itself before deliberately cooling the economy, a posture he has justified by emphasizing the myriad economic and social benefits of maximizing employment.

As a result, the Fed’s role in America’s fiscal policy debates has flipped. This week, Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan took on some friendly fire from center-left economists Larry Summers and Olivier Blanchard. While both endorsed the necessity of significant stimulus spending, they suggested that Biden’s package was excessively large, and would risk “overheating” the economy — which is to say, the stimulus would risk injecting more demand into the economy than the nation can satisfy, given the size of its labor force and the productive capacity of its capital stock. And when demand outstrips supply, the result is inflation.

On Wednesday, the Fed effectively intervened in this debate on Biden’s behalf. In remarks to the Economic Club of New York, Powell argued that America’s actual unemployment rate is not 6.3 percent (as official data suggest) but 10 percent, once classification errors are accounted for; that it will take “continued support from both near-term policy and longer-run investments” to restore maximum employment; and that had the pandemic not intervened, there is “every reason to expect that the labor market could have strengthened even further without causing a worrisome increase in inflation.” That last statement is key. Not only does it suggest that Powell believes the U.S. economy can support an unemployment rate significantly below the 3.5 percent we saw in early 2020, the statement also implicitly rebukes the Congressional Budget Office’s official estimate of how much more demand the economy can accommodate without overheating. Which is significant, since Summers built his “overheating” argument around the CBO’s (historically unreliable) estimate of that figure.


The Federal Reserve’s authority over monetary policy — and technocratic credibility on questions of spending — gives it considerable power to shape the economic paradigm within which democratic politics operates. In the late 1970s, the central bank used this power to consolidate a reactionary turn in American economic policymaking. In 2021 — under the leadership of a Trump-appointed, Republican investment banker — it is doing its darnedest to consolidate a progressive one.

IMHO, Trump got it right by mistake, but he got this one very right.

Fuck Me, I Agree With Pat Buchanan’s Rag

At the American Conservative, they write, “Don’t Let the Riots Legitimize Facial Recognition Tech,” and they are correct.

Law enforcement has an endless appetite for expansion of their powers, and will always do so.

Letting the Capitol insurrection to give additional powers to the US State Security Apparatus is a bad idea, particularly given the predilection of law enforcement to ignore right wing terrorists to go after left wing protesters.

This May be the Worst Idea in Economics

There is a lot not to like about Economics.

It seems that most streams of economics appear to be a means for justifying the existing power structure, with the benefit being that economists are given (relatively) high positions within that power structures.

Political economist Blair Fix makes a good argument that modern Human Capital Theory, which resembles a toxic mix of Social Darwinism, and emerged largely from the University of Chicago.

The short version, to use Ayn Rand pulp fiction (and pulpier philosophy) as an example, the investor who pays scientists to create “Reardon Metal” is responsible for all the value derived from this wondrous material.

The scientist who creates this material adds no value, neither does the army of workers who labor to manufacture this material and forge it into shape.

If this sounds non-sensical, note how this is identical to the justification for paying obscene remuneration to founders and CEOs.

The little people just don’t mater:

If there was an award for the most pernicious scientific idea ever, what theory should get first prize? I would vote for eugenics, a theory that claims we can ‘improve’ humanity through selective breeding.

If there was a second prize, I’d give it to human capital theory. I think of human capital theory as ‘eugenics light’. It purges the idea that abilities are innate (and that we should selectively breed the ‘fit’). But human capital theory keeps the Nietzschean idea that humanity’s success can be attributed mostly to gifted übermensch.

Among us, human capital theory claims, walk individuals who are unfathomably productive. These übermensch produce more in an hour than most of us do in a week. Take just 1% of these top individuals, and you’ll find that they outproduce the bottom half of society!1 According to human capital theory, then, we could do away with half of society with no great loss to economic output. Of course, few human-capital theorists advocate such atrocities. But my point is that their theory contains the seeds of eugenics … even Nazism.

The ethical problems with eugenics and human capital theory are easy to spot. But what about the scientific problems? These are more difficult to tease out. Eugenics is based on the hard truth that many traits are heritable. Similarly, human capital theory is based on the reality that some people earn hundreds of times more income than others. Where both theories go wrong, however, is that they misunderstand humanity’s social nature.

Yes, many individual traits are heritable. But it is a fallacy that traits that are good for individuals are also good for society. That’s the core scientific flaw in eugenics. And yes, it’s true that some people earn far more than others. But it’s a fallacy that this income is caused by traits of the individual. In reality, income is a social trait.

My goal in this post is not to rigorously debunk human capital theory. (I’ve done that here.) Instead, I’m going to chart its rise and speculate about its eventual fall. I’ll do so by looking at the rise and fall of eugenics. What’s ominous is that the theory that debunks eugenics is today still more obscure than eugenics itself. In a century, will something similar hold for the theory that debunks the idea of human capital?

He then compares this to experiments in animal and human eugenics:

In the 1990s, geneticist William Muir conducted experiments on chickens to see what would improve egg-laying productivity. In one trial, he did exactly what the eugenicists recommend — he let only the most productive hens reproduce. The results were disastrous. Egg-laying productivity didn’t increase. It plummeted. Why? Because the resulting breed of hens was psychopathic. Instead of producing eggs, these ‘uber-hens’ fought amongst themselves, sometimes to the death.

The reason this experiment didn’t work is that egg-laying productivity is not an isolated property of the individual hen. It is a joint property of the hen and her social environment. In Muir’s experiment, the most productive hens laid more eggs not because they were innately more productive, but because they suppressed the productivity of less dominant chickens. By selecting for individual productivity, Muir had inadvertently bred for social dominance. The result was a breed of bully chicken that couldn’t tolerate others.

The lesson here is that in social animals, traits that can be measured among individuals (like productivity) may not actually be traits of the individual. Instead, they are joint traits of both the individual and their social environment. Here’s evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson reflecting on this fact:

Muir’s experiments … challenge what it means for a trait to be regarded as an individual trait. If by “individual trait” we mean a trait that can be measured in an individual, then egg productivity in hens qualifies. You just count the number of eggs that emerge from the hind end of a hen. If by “individual trait” we mean the process that resulted in the trait, then egg productivity in hens does not qualify. Instead, it is a social trait that depends not only on the properties of the individual hen but also on the properties of the hen’s social environment.

—(David Sloan Wilson in When the Strong Outbreed the Weak)

A key problem with eugenics is that it neglects the social nature of human traits. It assumes that productivity is an innate trait of the individual, and that breeding for this trait would lead to a better society. It’s a seductive idea that is deeply flawed. In all likelihood, selectively breeding people for productivity would, like chickens, lead to a psychopathic strain of human.

This sounds a lot like the sociopaths who are in the top 1% of the 1%, doesn’t it? 

Jamie Dimon seems to be the apotheosis of such a process. doesn’t he?

The ground work for human capital theory was laid just as eugenics fell out of favor. In the 1950s, economists at the University of Chicago tackled the question of individual income. Why do some people earn more than others? The explanation that these economists settled on was that income resulted from productivity. So a CEO who earns hundreds of times more than a janitor does so for a simple reason: the CEO contributes far more to society.

The claim that income stems from productivity was not new. It dated back to the 19th-century work of John Bates Clark and Philip Wicksteed, founders of the neoclassical theory of marginal productivity.3 Clark and Wicksteed, though, were concerned only with the income of social classes. What the Chicago-school economists did was expand productivist theory to individuals.

  Doing so required inventing a new form of capital. The idea was that individuals’ skills and abilities actually constituted a stock of capital — human capital. This stock made individuals more productive, and hence, earn more income. Figure 3 shows key papers that initiated human capital theory.


The idea that skills constituted ‘human capital’ was initially greeted with skepticism. For one thing, the term itself smacked of slavery. (Capital is property, so ‘human capital’ implies human property.) For another, human capital theory overtly justified inequality. It implied that no matter how fat their incomes, the rich always earned what they produced. Any attempt (by the government) to redistribute income would therefore ‘distort’ the natural order. During the 1950s and 1960s, there was little tolerance for such views. It was the era of welfare-state expansion, driven by Keynesian-style thinking. Yes, big government may have been ‘distorting’ the free market — but society seemed all the better for it.


We can see the scientific flaws by returning to William Muir’s chicken experiment. I’ve already told you about his psychopathic chickens, created by breeding the most productive hens. But I haven’t told you about his alternative trial. In it, he bred the most productive group of chickens. The result was an astonishing increase in egg-laying productivity.

The reason this group selection worked is that chickens are social animals. That means productivity is influenced by the social environment. By selecting productive groups, Muir selected for egg-laying ability, but also for sociality. The resulting social hens flourished together.

Something similar holds true for humans. The abilities of individuals cannot be separated from the social environment in which they occur. For this reason, any selective breeding based on individual traits is likely to have unintended consequences. If Muir’s chicken experiment is any indication, breeding übermensch wouldn’t create an uber-productive society. It would create a psychopathic one.

The reason comes down to the unit of selection. As social animals, humans have been strongly shaped by the selection of groups. This group selection has tended to suppress selfish tendencies that are otherwise beneficial for individuals.

The bottom line is this:

Human capital theory supposes that income stems from productivity, and that this productivity is an isolated trait of the individual. This thinking, when taken to the extreme, is ludicrous. It implies that an Egyptian Pharaoh was thousands of times more productive than his slaves. Moreover, because this productivity was embodied in the Pharaoh, he could do away with his slaves and still retain his wealth. It gets worse. According to the logic of human capital theory, the Pharaoh’s slaves were actually a burden on the kingdom’s per capita productivity. If the Pharaoh exterminated them, per capita productivity would skyrocket.


We are run by a bunch of psychopathic hens.

Well, psycho chickens makes a fuck-load more sense than that whole QAnon lizard people thing.

Megan McCain, Communist

McCain: “I started getting angry that conservatives in particular, given we are the party of family values.. that we are leaving women in this country without the capacity and ability to heal physically [after childbirth]”

— Emily Peck (@EmilyRPeck) January 4, 2021


It’s axiomatic that conservatives suddenly become liberals when the business of governing touches upon them and theirs.

We saw this with Sandra Day O’Connor, where her reputation for moderation was better described by narcissism:  If she had been effected by it, whether it be sexism or reproductive rights, she was suddenly moderate.

About people who weren’t her, and did not look like her or live a life like her, it’s back to conservatism.

And now we see Meghan McCain doing the same thing.

After having a baby, she realizes that there needs to be some sort of regulation mandating paid maternity leave.

Socialism for me, and capitalism for thee.

If you are morally incapable of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes unless it happened to you, you might be a conservative.

A Definition of Advancement That I Was Unfamiliar With

I have to agree with the cartoonist, the fact that a woman is raining down death and destruction upon black and brown people throughout the world is not a cause for celebration, a better solution is to stop the bombing:

In a historic first, the Navy has recommended a female officer to command an aircraft carrier.

Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt is one of six officers recommended to command a nuclear-powered carrier in fiscal 2022. Also selected for the job were Capts. Colin Day, David Duff, Brent Gaut, David-Tavis Pollard and Craig Sicola.

Naval Air Forces did not respond to requests for comment from Bauernschmidt, or questions about when the captains will be assigned to carriers and what having a woman serving in this role will bring to the force.

Bauernschmidt has already broken barriers in her Navy career since leaving the Naval Academy in 1994. She became the first woman to serve as executive officer on a nuclear warship, the carrier Abraham Lincoln, in 2016.

The definitive word on this is Caitlin Johnstone’s essay, “Biden Will Have The Most Diverse, Intersectional Cabinet Of Mass Murderers Ever Assembled.”

It is not enough that women or minorities have an equal opportunity to oppress.  The oppression should stop.

H/t Naked Capitalism., both for the article and the cartoon.

Interesting Concept

This proposal to weaponize federalism against the right wing is fascinating.

The short version is that it is an invitation for Republicans to destroy themselves in the same way that Sam Brownback destroyed his political career and nearly destroyed the state of Kansas though his insane adherence to the dogma of tax cuts:

As the euphoria fades, reality sets in. America remains divided geographically, with no relief from our partisan stalemate on the horizon. If we want to hold the republic together, we need to get creative.


There’s a little-noted firewall protecting Republican politicians from the consequences of their rhetoric. Embedded protections at the federal level mean red-state voters never feel the full consequences of electing idiots. No one pays for the stupidity of Republican economic policy because Congressional stalemate and the Federal bureaucracy block Republicans from creating the dystopia of their dreams.

Want to rescue America? Embrace a soft secession. Frederick the Great once explained, “defending everything defends nothing.” Stop trying to civilize the red states. Instead, embrace the progress that can be achieved at state levels. Remove the blue state welfare system that insulates rural white Republicans from the consequences of their politics. The stark geographic split in our politics is as much an opportunity as a threat. Earn progressive policy wins for blue states by offering Republicans the chance to live in the country they’re trying to create. If Democrats truly believe in the power of their policies, they should be ready to weaponize federalism.


Use federalism to exploit the disconnect between the priorities of Republican politicians and the priorities of their voters. Pass progressive policies in the House with state-level opt-out provisions. In some cases, sweeten those bills with offers Republican elected officials (and their donors) can’t refuse, but their voters will hate. Bait Republican Senators into passing them.

Pass a national $15/hour minimum wage bill. To lure Republicans into backing it, offer opt-outs that would let Republicans realize one of their most fantastic dreams, elimination of the minimum wage in their states. Republican Senators would jump at the opportunity. Bait Republican Governors or Legislatures into stripping wage protections from workers and watch what happens at election time.


Offer Republicans a state-level opt out provision which grants those opt-out states the right to pass up the additional upper-income tax increase and receive all of their Medicare & Medicaid taxes as a block grant. In other words, dangle in front of them the chance to eliminate Medicare and Medicaid in their states. Would they turn that down? Hell no.


Most importantly, Republican elected officials would finally face the consequences of their politics. What would happen to Republican politicians in Ohio when voters next door in Pennsylvania suddenly had access to cheap universal health care? What would happen to those voters when no worker in neighboring Pennsylvania was earning less than a living wage?


Would it be cruel to let red states fall behind? No, it’s democracy and it’s entirely fair. At some point it becomes a message of simple respect for democracy and the continuation of the American project. One of the reasons racist whites sit beyond the feedback loop, immunized from the consequences of their choices, is that Democrats haven’t let them experience the consequences of their choices. Let red states live in the country their leaders want to create, to the extent possible without dragging down other states.


We can hold the country together and potentially soften the impact of our political divide by granting states more rights and more consequences. Odds are, this will inspire a revolt in Baptistan as soft R voters wake up to the consequences of their choices, but perhaps it won’t. It doesn’t matter. Win where you can win. Achieve progress where it’s available, and let Republicans live in their own mess. It’s a small price to pay to avoid a second Civil War.

The obvious question here is, “But what if Republicans, actually improve the status of their states, through their delusional policies?

Well, if their policies actually work, then we adopt those policies.

If not, let the Republicans cut their own throats.

Na Ga Na Happen

A candidate for new head of the DCCC, Sean Patrick Maloney, is promising a major overhaul of the House Demococratic campaign apparatus

He is claiming that it is inefficient, ineffective, and technologically moribund.

He may be sincere, but inefficiency is money in the pockets on the consultants, who cycle through the Democratic Party establishment’s (There is no Democratic Party establishment) functionary positions, so anything that he tries will be fought tooth and nail by the staff:

The polling is antiquated. Money is being frittered. Diversity is lacking. And digital outreach lags far behind the times.

These are the warnings from Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a four-term New York Democrat who’s vying to lead the party’s campaign arm in the next Congress.

Democrats are expecting a tough environment in the 2022 midterms, and Maloney’s message is a foreboding one: Modernize the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), he says, or President-elect Joe Biden will be battling a House under Republican control come 2023.


To move the party into the future, Maloney is vowing to listen to younger progressives when it comes to social media and digital outreach; to shift away from “stuffy old traditional crappy polling” and adopt community-based focus groups; and to reject the idea that big fundraising hauls are synonymous with election success — a formula that didn’t play out this year, when Democrats raised historic amounts of campaign cash but still lost House seats.

“When I look at the amount of money that the major committees on both sides and independent groups deployed this cycle, I think there must be a big room in Washington somewhere where they bring big bags of money and burn it. Because I don’t know what the hell anybody got out of it,” Maloney said.

The consultants get their kid’s tuition to tony private schools out of it.

“We have been seduced by this notion that big money and big TV wins elections, and I just don’t see the evidence for that,” he added.

The consultants get a proportion of the ad buy, so the consultants go for the most expensive media buys possible.  KA-CHING!!!

Maloney will square off with Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) in an internal, secret-ballot election that will decide who becomes the next DCCC chairman. That vote is scheduled after Thanksgiving.

Cárdenas, 57, who’s run the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s (CHC) campaign arm Bold PAC for the past six years, has pitched himself as a proven fundraiser and someone who can help Democrats make up lost ground with the tens of thousands of Hispanic voters who backed President Trump this year in places like Texas and Florida.

Well, we know who the consultants will support.

Tweet of the Day

There’s a lot of work going into 10 page memos on why putting poor people into wood chippers is a bad idea, because some of the “Obama people” economists are obsessed with the idea after CBO scored it well.

— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) November 20, 2020

I know that this is snark, but I can think of no better metaphor for the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment).

Today in Mediocre French (With Subtitles)

Always fun to get RT’d but we’re about ten minutes away from actual French people coming in here and telling me all the mistakes I made (I’ve counted three so far!!)

— Pjörk🐷 (@NicoleConlan) November 12, 2020

Before this, I never truly understood the deep existential angst that is Gritty before this, and it is completely appropriate that it is being said in French. (with subtitles)

H/t Naked Capitalism.

Mr. Koch, Would You Please Dine on Excrement and Expire?

So now, Charles Koch is apologizing for funding the Tea Baggers and creating a hyperpartisan political atmosphere.

F%$# you.  Just f%$# you, and your fortune, which was made building refineries Stalin.

I get it:  Now you want to buy Democrats.

F%$# you:

The billionaire Charles Koch, who has funneled millions into the GOP and conservative movements, reportedly expressed misgivings over how that money had fueled excessive partisanship.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal’s Douglas Belkin published Friday, Koch spoke about his new mission of unification across partisan lines.

He also shared with The Journal parts of his new book, “Believe in People: Bottom-Up Solutions for a Top-Down World,” in which he said he regretted his partisanship and the divisions it fostered.

“Boy, did we screw up!” he wrote, according to The Journal. “What a mess!”

Koch and his brother David, who died last year, were major players in the rise and shaping of the tea party. The brothers founded the conservative organization Americans for Prosperity in 2004.

In her 2015 book “Dark Money,” the New Yorker writer Jane Mayer tracked how they used their fortunes to amass political influence and further a libertarian agenda.

If there is any justice in the world, Charles Koch will be mauled to death by bears in Grafton, New Hampshire.

Political Data Point of the Day

In an OP/ED, Bernie Sanders notes that the people supporting a bold progressive agenda won while the conservative careerists lost:


Now, with the blame game erupting, corporate Democrats are attacking so-called far-left policies like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal for election defeats in the House and the Senate. They are dead wrong.

Here are the facts:

  • 112 co-sponsors of Medicare for All were on the ballot in November. All 112 of them won their races.
  • 98 co-sponsors of the Green New Deal were on the ballot in November. Only one of them have lost an election.

It turns out that supporting universal health care during a pandemic and enacting major investments in renewable energy as we face the existential threat to our planet from climate change is not just good public policy. It also is good politics. According to an exit poll from Fox News, no bastion of socialism, 72% of voters favored the change “to a government-run health care plan” and 70% of voters supported “increasing government spending on green and renewable energy.”

The lesson is not to abandon popular policies like Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, living wage jobs, criminal justice reform and universal child care, but to enact an agenda that speaks to the economic desperation being felt by the working class — Black, white, Latino, Asian American and Native American. People are hurting, and they are crying out for help. We must respond.

The Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) has been aggressively recruiting candidates with no moral compass beyond political careerism.

It works for the political consultants, because these folks spend their time and effort on fund raising rather than policy,  which means that there is more money going to the consultants, but it also means that at best the Democratic Party is a bunch of folks who don’t do anything.

It doesn’t win elections, and it does not benefit the republic.

I Just Had a Real Political Insight

I was in an online discussion today about the inaccuracy of the polls, and I noted that one of the issues is that people are no longer answering their phones because of the deluge of robocalls.

And then I made the throw away line:

If Donald Trump Has Promised to Nuke Bangalore to End the Spam Calls, He Would Have Won 48 States.

I just realized that there is a real and deep truth, and I made the point by accident.  (Which is probably the only way that I could find a deep insight, I’m kind of shallow.)

Also:  If a presidential candidate promises to crack down on robocalls, they will top 400 electoral votes.


Glenn Greenwald makes a very good point, that by any impartial measure George W. Bush was a more damaging to the US and the world:

That the liberal belief in and fear of a Trump-led fascist dictatorship and violent coup is actually a fantasy — a longing, a desire, a craving — has long been obvious.

The Democrats’ own actions proved that they never believed their own melodramatic and self-glorifying rhetoric about Trump as The New Hitler — from their leaders joining with the GOP to increase The Fascist Dictator’s domestic spying powers and military spending to their (correct) belief that the way to oust The Neo-Nazi Tyrant was through a peaceful and lawfully conducted democratic election in which vote totals and, if necessary, duly constituted courts would determine the next president.


I began writing about politics in 2005 as a reaction to the lawlessness, executive power transgressions and authoritarian Article II theories imposed by Bush/Cheney officials in the name of fighting terror. They claimed the right to violate Congressional statutes restricting how they could spy, detain, or even kill anyone, including American citizens, as long they justified it as helpful in the fight again terrorism.

They invented new theories of secrecy to hide virtually everything they did and, worse, to bar courts from subjecting their actions to legal or constitutional scrutiny. Josh Marshall’s entire career is based on a well-documented claim that the Bush White House and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales fired U.S. Attorneys who were investigating their own associates, including those of Karl Rove. The Obama administration prosecuted more whistleblowers and sources under the 1917 Espionage Act — enacted by Woodrow Wilson to criminalize dissent from U.S. involvement in World War I — than all prior presidents combined.


That the War on Terror itself was racist and Islamophobic — how else to explain year after year of predominantly Muslim countries being bombed by the Bush and Obama administrations? — was barely disputed in liberal discourse. Karl Rove’s core campaign strategy in 2002 and 2004 was to place anti-gay referenda on as many state ballots as possible, and disseminate slanderous propaganda about same-sex couples, all to incentivize evangelicals to vote. And now we’re subjected to the revolting sanctimony of the very same same operatives and supporters who did that, trying to prove the unprecedented evil of Trump by insisting that at least prior administrations did not rely on bigoted tropes or racist rhetoric.


And even if Trump has lied more frequently and more blatantly than prior presidents — a conclusion I would probably accept — how do those lies compare to the one sustained over many years, from liberals’ most currently beloved neocon pundits and journalists, that convinced Americans that Saddam Hussein was pursuing nuclear and biological weapons and was in an alliance with Al Qaeda and thus likely responsible for the 9/11 attack, leading to the invasion and destruction of a country of 26 million people and, ultimately, the rise of ISIS?


And even if Trump has lied more frequently and more blatantly than prior presidents — a conclusion I would probably accept — how do those lies compare to the one sustained over many years, from liberals’ most currently beloved neocon pundits and journalists, that convinced Americans that Saddam Hussein was pursuing nuclear and biological weapons and was in an alliance with Al Qaeda and thus likely responsible for the 9/11 attack, leading to the invasion and destruction of a country of 26 million people and, ultimately, the rise of ISIS?

It is not an exaggeration to say that much of the division on the center-left over the past four years has been shaped by whether one sees Trump as a symptom of American pathologies or as its primary cause, of whether one views the return of pre-Trump “normalcy” as something to loathe or something to crave, of whether one views the Bush/Cheney years and War on Terror abuses (to say nothing of the horrors of the Cold War) as at least as bad as anything Trump has ushered in or whether one sees those pre-Trump evils as somehow more benign and less ignoble. 

Bush killed more people, Obama deported and assassinated more people, and both of them normalized the excesses of the US state security apparatus.

Trump is a lesson that can be learned from, because the evil that put him in power did not come from him, though he certainly has no lack of personal evil, it came from a broken and corrupt society.

No fundamental change means that in 4 or 8 years something worse, if just because it is more subtle and more competent, will be knocking at the orifices of the American body politic.

DeNazification Plan?

The author of this tweet wonders whether or not Biden will have a DeNazification plan followign the election.

Marcel Marceau answered this question in the film Silent Movie,a nd Joe Biden has repeatedly, and explicitly said that he will not take any actions against the most egregious malefactors of the past 4 years.

There will be no deNasification, period.

In the words of Marcel Marceau, “No”.https://t.co/J5sT53zKLU

— Jack Dorsey Is Objectively Pro-Nazi (M.G. Saroff) (@40_Years) November 2, 2020

Sorry for subtweeting @EclecticRadical.

Headline of the Day

We Can’t Follow Obama Back to Brunch

The Daily Poster

David Sirota and Andrew Perez offer a long overdue explanation of how Donald John Trump is not the disease, he is the symptom.

Seriously, if we give politics to the people who screwed everything up in the first place, we are setting the table for someone even worse than Donald Trump.:

In the closing hours of the 2020 election, Donald Trump is dishonestly casting his reelection bid as a crusade against the corrupt swamp that he helped expand and profited from, while Democrats are promising that if Trump is defeated, voters will finally be able to go back to brunch as the Washington establishment returns itself to power.

The former’s message is laughably dishonest, the latter’s message is profoundly cynical and potentially dangerous.


To counter Trump’s assault, the Democratic campaign this weekend returned to Flint, Michigan — the place the Obama administration left to suffer through a horrific toxic water crisis, exacerbated by Michigan’s then-Republican governor (who has since endorsed Biden).

During the event, Biden declared that during his last tour of duty as vice president, we “went through eight years without one single trace of scandal. Not one single trace of scandal. It’s going to be nice to return to that.”


This was the party’s flaccid message in the nation’s poorest city, a former General Motors manufacturing hub destroyed by deindustrialization and offshoring.  


It is true that the Obama years were not defined by petty bullshit that is routinely called “scandalous.” However, his two terms were hardly free of actual scandals. They were just the type of scandals that ruin regular people’s lives, but not the lives of people who wear expensive suits to work in Washington.

Obama helmed a presidency bankrolled by Wall Street donors that refused to prosecute a single banker who engineered a financial crisis that destroyed millions of lives.

He turned promises of significant health care reform into legislation that included a few positive consumer protections, but also enriched and strengthened the power of private insurance companies and dropped a promised public option. 

He acknowledged the threat of climate change, but then publicly demanded credit from the fossil fuel industry for helping boost oil production during a climate apocalypse.

He pledged to walk picket lines if workers’ union rights were under attack, but then he promptly walked away from promised labor law reform.

And yes, Obama’s administration slow-walked the response to the environmental catastrophe in Flint, Michigan.


That refrain represents a longing that has pervaded Democratic politics in the Trump years, embodied by the now-infamous protest signs insisting that “if Hillary was president, we’d all be at brunch.”  


However, Obama’s Flint speech went further. Echoing a previous refrain from Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, it was a call to resurrect Brunch Liberalism whereby large swaths of the American left disengage and defer in much the same way it did during the Obama administration, to disastrous effect.

Though it is now forgotten history, the history is clear: After years of mass protest and activism against the George W. Bush administration, many liberal activists, voters and advocacy groups went to brunch after the 2008 election, fell in line and refused to pressure the new administration to do much of anything. Those that dared to speak out were often berated and shamed.

In touting a presidency we don’t have to think much about, Obama conjures the notion of a Democratic administration once again insulated from pressure from an electorate whose poorer populations are too busy trying to survive, and whose affluent liberals are thrilled to be back at Sunday morning brunch after watching an MSNBC host reassure them that everything is All Good.

We cannot allow a corrupt and increasingly geriatric Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) to continue business as usual.

About F%$#ing Time

Chile has finally a ditched the neoliberal Milton Friedman abomination of a constitution that the murderous Agusto Pinochet foisted on them almost 40 years ago.

Over 70% of voters have approved a plebiscite to replace that constitution.

Milton Friedman, and his “Chicago Boys” made Chile, and the rest of the world a much worse place.

At some point, we should total up the deaths from their machinations.

I don’t think that they would beat out Josef Stalin, but I’m pretty sure that they make Pol Pot look a piker.

Today in Appropriate Priorities

I’m taking on a new mission, one that keeps my feet planted here firmly on Earth and prioritizes my most important crew – my family. I’ll still be working hard with the #Starliner team and the @NASA_Astronauts on our crew. pic.twitter.com/PgdhPqwYQS

— Christopher Ferguson (@Astro_Ferg) October 7, 2020

Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson has bowed out of the first manned flight of the first “Starliner” flight because it conflicts with his daughter’s wedding

 I wholeheartedly approve:

It was a defining moment for Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson when he chose dedication to family over a flight to the International Space Station.

Serving as the commander of Boeing’s first astronaut-led flight, Ferguson announced Wednesday that he has pulled himself off the crew so he can attend his daughter’s wedding next year. Ferguson posted a video on Twitter that revealed his decision to stay at home with family.


A Good Take on Woke Politics

I agree with the folks at Redline, “Wokies are the Establishment.”

It’s why we see things like the New York Chapter of DSA black-balling one of the foremost scholars of race and class in the nation, wokeness is a way that people with comfortable lives can pretend that they are doing something to resolve inequality and corruption in our society while benefiting from that inequality and corruption in our society:

In the absence of a better word with which to refer to the rabid activists who claim progressivism while demanding adherence to an increasingly prescriptive set of political beliefs, I call them “woke”. With its roots in Black American slang, the term originally denoted a person or a group who were enlightened on social justice issues and awake to the inequalities in America. As words do, it has evolved from a self-descriptor to more of a term the fed up masses use to describe the drivers of cancel culture and identity politics throughout the anglosphere and indeed most of the West.

Wokeism claims Marxism as not only an influence, but as foundational political doctrine on which their various social justice issues are based. So fierce are their claims on modern Marxism they have all but consumed many of the traditional Marxist organisations and re-educated the world on their new brand of socialist theory. However, even someone with the loosest understanding of the writings of Karl Marx and the complicated history of his movement is able to discern some serious flaws in the woke iteration. Not only does it differ from the previously accepted principles and aims of Marxism, stark contradictions can be seen in much of the behaviour exhibited by wokeists.

For a group of people with an aggressive aversion to binary concepts e.g. binary biological sex, wokeism has pounced on the binary tension between oppressor and oppressed that is at the core of Marxist theory. It is perhaps the only place in which they can be said to really resemble the political theory they have claimed. Unfortunately, however, these usually middle-upper class, educated elites have little time for the analysis of class that is supposed to underpin this exploiter/exploited and oppressor/oppressed concept. Rather they will apply it to whichever pet social justice issue they are espousing at the time.

The woke appropriate the struggles of various marginalised groups and collect their oppressions in order to rail against their perceived oppressors. They have entrenched themselves in the politics of race and transgenderism in particular and while there are of course some valid discussions to be had in regards to inequalities and discrimination faced by people of colour and transgender people, the narrative set by woke activists is riddled with disingenuity and gaslighting.

It is time that society catches up and realises that wokeism is not the movement for the disadvantaged and oppressed. Wokeism is the establishment. It is inextricably linked to corporate politics and capitalism. Woke activists have disproportionate social power in today’s fraught world. They are the establishment in the culture wars. Consider this:

Wokeism is performance. It is mostly educated, establishment youths LARPing the struggles of truly marginalised groups. It is time we stopped letting them pretend to be saviours when they’re just malignant power in a different outfit.

This critique strikes at the core of both “Wokism” and “Identity Politics.”