Sunday, November 7, 2021

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – November 7, 2021

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – November 7, 2021

by Tony Wikrent

Strategic Political Economy

Billionaires Are Not Morally Qualified To Shape Human Civilization 

Caitlin Johnstone [via Naked Capitalism 11-1-2021]

Human civilization is being engineered in myriad ways by an unfathomably wealthy class who are so emotionally and psychologically stunted that they refuse to end world hunger despite having the ability to easily do so.

The United Nations has estimated that world hunger could be ended for an additional expenditure of $30 billion a year, with other estimates considerably lower. The other day Elon Musk became the first person ever to attain a net worth of over $300 billion. A year ago his net worth was $115 billion. According to, America's billionaires have a combined net worth of $5.1 trillion, which is a 70 percent increase from their combined net worth of under $3 trillion at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

So we're talking about a class which could easily put a complete halt to human beings dying of starvation on this planet by simply putting some of their vast fortunes toward making sure everyone gets enough to eat. But they don't….

Billionaires should not exist. They should have their power and wealth taken from them, and the steering wheel of humanity should be given to the ordinary people who are infinitely more qualified to navigate us through the rough waters ahead for our species.


The Democracy Crisis That Is Never Discussed

David Sirota and Andrew Perez [The Daily Poster, November 2, 2021]

In 2014, Northwestern and Princeton researchers published a report statistically documenting how lawmakers do not listen or care about what most voters want, and instead mostly care about serving their big donors. Coupled with additional research documenting the discrepancy between donor and voter preferences, they bluntly concluded that the “preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically nonsignificant impact upon public policy.” ….New polling demonstrates the silencing effect that systemic corruption is having on voter preferences:

  • 82 percent of registered voters support adding dental and vision benefits to Medicare — and this is voters’ “top priority” for Democrats’ social spending bill, according to survey data from Morning Consult. Conservative Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have pushed to keep these benefits out of the bill, following an aggressive lobbying campaign by health insurers who enjoy massive profits from the privatized Medicare Advantage program.
  • Another top priority for voters is allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, with 72 percent saying they support the idea, according to Morning Consult. Sinema and a few House Democrats backed by the pharmaceutical industry managed to block the party’s original drug pricing measure from being put into the reconciliation bill….

This Is The Hostile Takeover

Taken together, this is the democracy crisis thrumming underneath all the media noise — the day-to-day erosion of democracy by corporations that use a system of legalized bribery to buy public policy, which then erodes Americans’ faith in their government and leads to all the down-ballot that unfolded on Tuesday night.

And yet this erosion does not get discussed in a media-directed democracy discourse that focuses almost exclusively on the January 6th insurrection or Republican efforts to deny election results and limit voting.

That dichotomy is an expression of corporate power. Corruption is omitted from most corporate media coverage because their corporate sponsors are the ones doing the vote-buying. By contrast, the insurrection and GOP assault on voting are safe topics for corporate media, because they do not threaten the power of the media’s corporate sponsors.

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 11-1-2021]



India among world’s hungriest despite record harvests

[Asia Times, via Naked Capitalism 11-1-2021]

Neoliberalism requires a police state

WATCH: Hedges & Lauria on Assange Hearing 

[Consortium News, via Naked Capitalism 10-31-2021]


The Federal Court system is corrupt 

[The Cavalier Daily, via Naked Capitalism 11-5-2021]

A student newspaper steps in to fill the mainstream void.

Steven Donziger, an American attorney who waged a legal battle to fight Chevron’s pollution in Ecuador, was sentenced for contempt of court Oct. 1. The lawsuit against Donziger was riddled with flaws, its conditions were excessive and arbitrary — to such an extent that the UN Human Rights Council condemned it — and the process was mired in alleged corruption. But what the Donziger case most represents is that the U.S. Federal Court system is broken, corrupt and in desperate need of reform.

The legal trials and tribulations of Donziger began in 2014 — four years after he won a $9.5 billion judgement against Chevron for polluting the Amazon — when he was sued in American courts for alleged ethical impropriety. Chevron had no real grounds to sue Donziger — leaked Chevron documents have proved that the company explicitly sought to “demonize” him. Instead, Chevron took advantage of how America’s court system effectively allows a wealthy party to bury another in a complex lawsuit until they run out of money to fight it.

The (Anti)Federalist Society Infestation of the Courts

How Dark Money Captured The Supreme Court

[The Daily Poster November 3, 2021]

As Congress nears a deal on Biden’s Build Back Better reconciliation bill, a separate battle is quietly playing out within the Democratic Party over how to handle the extremism and minoritarian rule of the Supreme Court.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., published a report on the way that dark money and corporations have captured the Supreme Court.

The report lays out how an extensive network of right-wing groups — including the Federalist Society, the Heritage Foundation, and organizations in the Koch network — have worked to appoint judges who undermine voting rights and favor corporate interests.

What is perhaps most remarkable about the report is that three senators, including the Senate majority leader, are raising serious questions about the legitimacy of an institution that many Democrats are unwilling to confront….

Whitehouse separately wrote a law review article last week about the influence of dark money and dark money groups’ use of amicus briefs to influence the court.

A Flood of Judicial Lobbying: Amicus Influence and Funding Transparency

Sheldon Whitehouse [Yale Law Journal, October 24, 2021, via The Daily Poster 11-3-2021]

This Essay explores how amicus briefs became a tool for coordinated judicial lobbying by dark-money interests. I show how current funding-disclosure rules for amici fail to provide genuine transparency—undermining fairness—and discuss reforms that could improve the judiciary’s amicus-disclosure regime and restore faith in the courts….

“The effects of this litigation strategy on our democracy are frightening: the courts are becoming an arena for enacting policies by judicial decree that are too unpopular to pass through democratically elected legislatures,” he wrote. “These coordinated efforts warp the judiciary toward anonymous, ultrawealthy donor interests, all without the public ever learning about the role of dark-money interests in shaping the law.”

The Great Resignation

Public feelings about economy diverge from feelings about job market

Joe Weisenthal [Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-1-21]

“In the meantime, this is a really striking chart. The yellow line is the Conference Board’s Labor Differential index, which basically measures how the public feels about the job market. The white line is a separate survey of how the the public feels about the economy overall. For over a decade the job market *was* the economy. The two lines moved in tandem more or less. What’s new is the pronounced gap. Perceptions of the job market are at their highest level since 2000. Meanwhile perceptions of the broader economy have turned sharply lower. This dynamic is reflected in numerous surveys. In political polling, Democrats are getting clobbered by Republicans in terms of handling the economy.”

Here’s the chart. So, there’s more jobs, easier to get, but they’re still crappy jobs that don’t pay enough to live on. What’s the wonder? 

Viewpoint: Beneath Striketober Fanfare, The Lower Frequencies of Class Struggle 

[Labor Notes, via Naked Capitalism 11-4-2021] Detailed and sobering.

The 1945-1946 strike wave was five million workers

[“Today’s Flashback,” The Daily Poster, November 3, 2021]

From 1945 to 1946, nearly five million workers, or 15 percent of the workforce at the time, united against employers of major industries to demand greater pay and benefits. In contrast, around 15,000 workers went on strike last month.

According to labor historian and activist Toni Gilpin, “What unions won in '46 ushered in the only period in modern American history when all income [growth] went to the bottom 90 percent of the population.” Click here to read Gilpin’s full thread on the greatest strike wave in U.S. history.



The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

Breakpoints and Black Boxes: Information in Global Supply Chains 

[Post-Modern Culture, via Naked Capitalism 11-5-2021] Today’s must-read:

The first kind of data necessary for a supply chain is data about labor—which is to say, about human beings. What happens to human beings in a supply chain may be disastrous, but it is also an algorithmic imperative. A calculation about human value demanded the murder of enslaved people on the Zong, just as it demands that workers at a Samsung supplier in Huizhou, Guangdong, earn an average of 238.55 USD per month (An Investigative Report on HEG Technology). These decisions, at least rhetorically, are beyond anyone’s immediate control. Companies like Apple and Nike may occasionally say they want to clean up working conditions for their subcontractors, but in truth, of course, they depend intimately on the kind of logic that categorizes and assigns lower value to the labor of people in the global South; otherwise, we wouldn’t have global supply chains, at least not to any great extent.

Bus Drivers Saga Lays Bare the Divide Between Unionized and Non-Unionized Public Sector Workers 

[Capital & Main, via Naked Capitalism 10-31-2021]

Truckers tired of taking blame for congestion crisis at California ports 

[Freight Waves, via Naked Capitalism 11-4-2021]

“As terminal operators pushed for automation to reduce human interaction, a glitch in the system can render crane operators and truck drivers unable to move without further instructions, [Bill Aboudi, president of AB Trucking] said. ‘It’s the terminal operators that are not managing the workforce properly and don’t realize that they had a problem with a computer system until it’s too late,’ Aboudi told FreightWaves. ‘It’s often the longshoremen and the truck drivers that pay the price and are forced to sit because of the terminal operators’ mistakes.'”

Health Care Crisis

ACA Marketplaces Became Less Affordable Over Time For Many Middle-Class Families, Especially The Near-Elderly (Abstract only)

[Health Affairs, via Naked Capitalism 11-4-2021]

“In 2015 half of this middle-class population would have paid at least 7.7 percent of their income for the lowest-cost bronze plan; in 2019 they would have paid at least 11.3 percent of their income. By 2019 half of the near-elderly ages 55–64 would have paid at least 18.9 percent of their income for the lowest-cost bronze plan in their area.” Everything’s going according to plan.

“#PizzaIsNotWorking: Inside the Pharmacist Rebellion at CVS and Walgreens”

Matt Stoller [BIG, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-5-21]

“many pharmacists are now employees of big chains. And yet working as a pharmacist for a giant chain has also become increasingly difficult. Work loads have doubled over the last ten years, pay is down, and student debt loads are up (to nearly $200,000 for a recent graduate), even as the profits of Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart skyrocket. And that was before Covid, which put extra strain on pharmacists and technicians. The worker stories coming out of the chain pharmacy world are awful. No bathroom breaks. No time for meals. Unforgiving corporate metrics like demerits for taking too long to answer the phone or fill prescriptions, requirements to ask a certain number of people per week to get a flu shot, and always a relentless push for more items to do than time to do them. And these sweatshop conditions for medical professionals don’t just mean an unpleasant day for a pharmacist or technician, it means more mistakes, and accidental deaths. In fact, before the pandemic, the third leading cause of death in America was medical errors, at between 250,000 and 440,000 people a year, roughly the the size of Reno, Nevada dying annually. And of course, when there are safety issues caused by understaffing, the chains don’t stand by their pharmacists in front of state boards of pharmacy. If a pharmacist loses his or her license, they can’t practice. All of this has caused deep concern within the profession. ‘I am a danger to the public working for CVS,’ one pharmacist wrote in an anonymous letter to the Texas State Board of Pharmacy in April. Public officials and corporate executives have been hearing the complaints for years. But when things get really bad, the typical response from higher-ups for flagging morale is to… buy their pharmacists pizza. And that condescension from corporate executives and human resources officials is what finally lit the spark.”

Restoring balance to the economy

“Highly Paid Union Workers Give UPS a Surprise Win in Delivery Wars” [Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-4-21]

“The massive labor shortage that’s rocked the U.S. since the pandemic and disrupted long-established employment relationships hasn’t had much impact on UPS, which pays its unionized drivers the highest wages in the industry. That’s helped it maintain a stable workforce and rising profits throughout the current disruptions. Meanwhile, lower-paying, nonunionized FedEx racked up $450 million in extra costs because of labor shortages. And while UPS easily beat earnings expectations and predicted a rising profit margin in the U.S. for the fourth quarter, FedEx signaled that its profit margin will fall further. The lack of workers is taking a toll on its reliability, too. FedEx’s recent on-time performance for express and ground packages has sunk to 85%, while UPS has met deadlines on 95% of those packages, according to data collected by ShipMatrix Inc.” • A unionized workface as a competitive advantage. Who knew?

South Korea’s new workplace safety law alarms foreign companies 

[Financial Times, via Naked Capitalism 11-5-2021]

“Under the new law, senior executives could be held criminally responsible for a range of accidents and work-related injuries and illnesses unless they can demonstrate compliance with a long list of criteria.”

Justice Department Sues to Block Penguin Random House’s Acquisition of Rival Publisher Simon & Schuster 

[Department of Justice, via Naked Capitalism 11-3-2021]

Texas Belies `Best for Business’ by Trailing Major States 

[Bloomberg, via The Big Picture 11-3-2021]

Low taxes and few regulations have failed to propel the economy anywhere near the top of the national rankings. 

Class war and economic disequilibrium

As closed-door arbitration soared last year, workers won cases against employers just 1.6% of the time 

[Washington Post, via The Big Picture 11-2-2021]

U.S. companies are increasingly relying mandatory arbitration to settle employee and consumer grievances during the pandemic. Family Dollar closed 1,135 such cases last year, up from three in 2019.

Creating new economic potential - science and technology

All of science gets a general index

Cory Doctorow [Pluralistic, via Naked Capitalism 11-3-2021]

It's hard to overstate what a scam academic and scientific publishing is. It's run by an oligopoly of wildly profitable companies that coerce academics into working for free for them, and then sell the product of their labors back to the academics' employers (often public institutions) for eye-popping sums.

Here's how that works: a publicly funded researcher (often working for a public institution) does some research. In order to progress up the career ladder and secure more funding, they need to publish their research in a prestigious journal. That journal asks other publicly funded researchers (chosen by a volunteer editorial board of publicly funded researchers) to peer-review and edit the paper. If the paper is selected for publication, the researcher signs over their copyright in it – life plus 70 years – to the journal, for free….

If someone at that institution were to share the paper their colleague produced in the next lab over, they'd be committing copyright infringement – because their colleague had to give their copyright away to the publisher as a condition of publication, which is, in turn, a condition of career advancement.

The US Coast Survey under Bache - excerpt from Dupree, Science in the Federal Government - HAWB

Tony Wikrent, November 7, 2021 [RealEconomics]

“The great object of the institution of civil government,” President John Quincy Adams declared in his first annual message to Congress, December 6, 1825,

“is the improvement of the condition of those who are parties to the social compact, and no government, in what ever form constituted, can accomplish the lawful ends of its institution but in proportion as it improves the condition of those over whom it is established…. moral, political, intellectual improvement are duties assigned by the Author of Our Existence to social no less than to individual man.”

In the Introduction to his landmark history, Science in the Federal Government: A History of Policies and Activities to 1940 (Harvard University Press, 1957), — sponsored by Sponsored by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences — A. Hunter Dupree wrote

“…all the institutions of the country in which science exists have found the actions of the government in conducting research and and in contracting for it are factors of first importance…. Indeed, before the rise of the universities, private foundations, and industrial laboratories, the fate of science rested more exclusively with the government than it did later…. The idea that the federal government should become the patron of science was easily within the grasp of the framers of the Constitution. As educated men of the eighteenth century they knew that European governments had often supported science, and their set of fundamental values led them to hold all branches of philosophy in high regard.”

Climate and environmental crises

What Big Oil Knew About Climate Change, in Its Own Words 

[Counterpunch, via Naked Capitalism 10-31-2021]

The Toxic Ten: How ten fringe publishers fuel 69% of digital climate change denial

[Center For Countering Digital Hate, via The Big Picture 11-4-2021]

A Missing Link in the Fight Against the Climate Crisis

[The American Prospect, November 3, 2021]

Under Trump and in the years of austerity, scientists fled the EPA and other agencies. The race to save the planet requires swift and extensive hiring policies….

The trend toward staff attrition at federal agencies is nothing new. Even as the country’s need for scientifically informed federal policy has grown—in line with a growing population, the proliferation of pressing scientific challenges, and the increasing sophistication of corporate-funded “scientific” influence campaigns—the federal government’s capacity to deliver has fallen. This divergence accelerated under Obama, and Trump’s record of downplaying climate change and sabotaging climate efforts made an already severe problem even worse. From 2010 to 2020, the EPA lost 17.9 percent of its staff members.

The EPA wasn’t the only key climate agency that Trump decimated. Over the four years Trump was in office, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) lost 2.5 percent of its STEM employees. Two of its climate research subagencies, the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, lost 75 percent of their employees—amounting to “hundreds, if not thousands of staff years of expertise”—after the agencies’ offices were suddenly and needlessly moved from Washington, D.C., to Kansas City, Missouri. Staff attrition from the relocation was not an unintended consequence. Trump’s White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney referred to the move as “a wonderful way” to shrink the federal government.

The Dawn Chorus is getting QUIETER due to climate change: Intensity of bird song has reduced across North America and Europe over the last 25 years as warming temperatures have shifted the distribution of species, study finds 

[Daily Mail, via Naked Capitalism 11-3-2021]

Vapor Storms Are Threatening People and Property 

[Scientific American, via Naked Capitalism 11-3-2021]

Fossil fuels doomed in New York as regulator blocks new gas power plants 

[Ars Technica, via Naked Capitalism 10-31-2021]

How the Netherlands is turning its back on natural gas 

[BBC, via Naked Capitalism 10-31-2021]

Energy Dilemma 

[New Left Review, via Naked Capitalism 11-6-2021]

….capitalism has already experienced the first major economic shock related to the transition beyond carbon. The surge in energy prices is due to several factors, including a disorderly rebound from the pandemic, poorly designed energy markets in the UK and EU which exacerbate price volatility, and Russia’s willingness to secure its long-term energy incomes. However, at a more structural level, the impact of first efforts made to restrict the use of fossil fuels cannot be overlooked. Due to government limits on coal burning, plus shareholders’ growing reluctance to commit to projects that could be largely obsolete in thirty years, investment in fossil fuel has been falling. Although this contraction of the supply is not enough to save the climate, it is still proving too much for capitalist growth.

Putting together several recent events gives a taste of things to come. In the Punjab region of India, severe shortages of coal have caused unscheduled power blackouts. In China, more than half the provincial jurisdictions have imposed strict power-rationing measures. Several companies, including key Apple suppliers, have recently been forced to halt or reduce operations at facilities in Jiangsu province, after local governments restricted the supply of electricity. Those restrictions were an attempt to comply with national emissions targets by restricting coal-fired power generation, which still accounts for about two thirds of China’s electricity. To contain the spillover of these disruptions, Chinese authorities have put a temporary brake on their climate ambitions, ordering 72 coal mines to increase their supply and relaunching imports of Australian coal that were halted for months in the midst of diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

In Europe, it was the surge in gas prices that triggered the current crisis. Haunted by the memory of the gilets jaunes uprising against Marcon’s carbon tax, governments have intervened with energy subsidies for the popular classes. More unexpectedly, though, gas price increases have precipitated chain reactions in the manufacturing sector. The case of fertilizers is telling. A US group, CF Industries, decided to shut down production of its UK fertilizer plants, which had become unprofitable due to price increases. As a by-product of its operations, the firm previously supplied 45% of the UK’s food-grade CO2 – whose loss unleashed weeks of chaos for the industry, affecting various sectors from beer and soft drinks to food packaging and meat. Globally, the surge of gas prices is affecting the farming sector via the increase in fertilizer prices. In Thailand, the cost of fertilizers is on track to double from 2020, raising costs for many rice producers and putting the planting season at risk. If this continues, governments may have to step in to ensure essential food supplies.

Wealthy Countries Are Spending More on Border Security Than Climate Aid Gizmodo, via Naked Capitalism 11-5-2021]

“Want To Know What’s In Your Water?”

[The Brockovich Report, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-5-21]

Yes, that Brockovich. “We can’t solve all these issues overnight, but we can help spread awareness and give more people tools and information to fight back. The first step is knowing what chemicals have been detected in your tap water. That’s why I’m so excited for Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) newly released update to the Tap Water Database, adding two more years of test results from nearly 50,000 water utilities across all 50 states and cataloging more than 320 contaminants.”

Information Age Dystopia

A critical opportunity to ban killer robots – while we still can 

[Amnesty International, via Naked Capitalism 11-6-2021]

Apple’s New Screen Repair Trap Could Change the Repair Industry Forever 

[Fixit, via Naked Capitalism 11-6-2021]

The new iPhone 13 completely disables its flagship Face ID functionality when you replace its screen. We have confirmed this repeatedly in our lab, testing with many different phones on iOS 15 and 15.1, and our results have been replicated by numerous repair professionals.

This is a dark day for fixers, both DIY and professional. One of the most common phone repairs that could once be done with hand tools now requires a microscope. This means you won’t be able to fix your iPhone screen yourself without sacrificing major functionality. It also has huge implications for the professional repair industry, for which Apple is the dominant brand to service. Small shops could be shuttered, forced to choose between spending thousands on new equipment or losing a major source of income.

The Booming Underground Market for Bots That Steal Your 2FA Codes 

[Vice, via The Big Picture 11-5-2021]

‘The Problem Is Him’: Kara Swisher on Mark Zuckerberg’s crisis and ours

[New York Magazine, via The Big Picture 10-31-2021]

One of the main problems is what he needs to be is a nearly impossible job for anyone and he is particularly ill-suited given his lack of communication skills. He’s undereducated for the job he has because he’s not just a technologist; he’s a social engineer. And a very powerful one with no accountability. He’s like an emperor that he so admires; he was a fanboy of Augustus Caesar. That was his hero. But Augustus Caesar wasn’t really equipped to be emperor either.

Institutionalists = Obstructionists

“Democrats Dropped Medicare Dental and Vision Coverage From Their Social Spending Bill. Voters Say It’s Their Top Priority”

[Morning Consuilt, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-3-21]

Here is the complete list: GRAPH

Democrats’ Betrayals Are Jeopardizing American Democracy

David Sirota [The Daily Poster, November 1, 2021]

The year before a fulminating Nazi rally in a packed Madison Square Garden in New York, FDR warned that the global rise of fascism was the result of democratic governments doing the opposite of the New Deal and protecting an economic status quo enriching a tiny handful at the expense of everyone else.

“Democracy has disappeared in several other great nations, not because the people of those nations disliked democracy, but because they had grown tired of unemployment and insecurity, of seeing their children hungry while they sat helpless in the face of government confusion and government weakness through lack of leadership,” he said in a 1938 radio address. “Finally, in desperation, they chose to sacrifice liberty in the hope of getting something to eat.”

To know Roosevelt’s analysis was correct is to look at how his investments ultimately rescued the economy, beat back fascists, got him re-elected in landslide elections, and created a 40-year epoch we now call the New Deal era. His prescience was also confirmed by what concurrently happened in Germany, where leaders imposed spending cuts.

“Austerity measures implemented between 1930 and 1932 immiserized and radicalized the German electorate,” found a recent study from economists and historians looking at Weimar Republic data showing a statistically significant link between local budget cuts and working-class voters’ support for the Nazi Party. “Austerity worsened the situation of low-income households, and the Nazi Party became very efficient at channeling the austerity-driven German suffering and mass discontent.”

They conclude: “Imposing too much austerity and too many punitive conditions cannot only be self-defeating, but can also unleash a series of unintended political consequences, with truly unpredictable and potentially tragic results.”


In 2008, Democrats won the presidency and a huge majority in Congress in a landslide election, after they promised transformative change to a nation ravaged by the same forces of corporate greed that had pillaged the country during FDR’s day. But soon after winning, Democrats did the opposite of Roosevelt.

Led by President Barack Obama, Democrats used their new power to enrich their corporate donors with a multitrillion-dollar bailout, while throwing stimulus crumbs at the rest of the country. The Obama administration also refused to prosecute a single banker involved in the financial crisis and allowed bailout money to subsidize Wall Street bonuses, no doubt pleasing the finance-industry moguls who funneled a record amount of cash to Obama’s campaign. Then Democratic leaders rescinded the rest of that bailout money before it could be used for its intended purpose: to directly help millions of homeowners going into foreclosure.

Perhaps most tone-deaf of all, Democrats mimicked what Weimar leaders did in the early 1930s — they championed an austerity agenda in the name of fiscal responsibility, launching a high-profile initiative to slash Social Security benefits amid an economic emergency.

Democrats’ Massive Tax Cut for the Wealthy 

[TaxBytes, via Naked Capitalism 11-6-2021]

According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CFRB), by no means a conservative organization, the SALT cap repeal is the LARGEST single line item in the Democrats’ reconciliation bill. Bigger than health care, bigger than childcare, bigger than paid family leave, and bigger than climate initiatives. The biggest line item in the Democrats’ reconciliation bill is a massive tax cut for the wealthy.

“Youngkin Defeats McAuliffe”

Josh Marshall [Talking Points Memo, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-3-21]

“Then there’s the other problem: President Biden looks weak. The pull out from Afghanistan plays some role in this. But the real driver is the months long spectacle of the President and his party unable to pass the basic legislation that makes up his agenda. Negotiating, begging, false starts, canceled votes. A President of the United States stymied by two obscure Senators the vast majority of Americans have never even heard of. Obviously this has deeply demoralized Democrats around the country – a fact which I think played a significant role in McAuliffe’s defeat. But for less committed voters – a smaller portion of the electorate but the floating segment that decides most elections – the President just looks weak. He says this and that is important but can’t seem to get this or that done. It’s through that prism that these voters view an uncertain economy. Regardless of what the President is trying to do, he can’t do it. If you’re not terribly ideological or plugged into the policy and legislative details what you see is a country beset with problems and an ineffective President. That’s a bad, bad combination for the President’s party.”

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-4-21] 



“Illinois Dems carve up liberal giant-slayer’s district in new congressional map” [Politico, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-1-21]

“Illinois’ state legislature passed a new congressional map early Friday morning that likely secures Democrats’ control of 14 of the state’s 17 congressional districts — but it also condemned liberal freshman Rep. Marie Newman to an uncomfortable fate at the 11th hour. Newman, who rose to fame in 2020 after ousting a veteran conservative Democrat, Dan Lipinski, fell victim to last-minute changes by Springfield legislators plotting to both boost Democratic Rep. Sean Casten and create a new district where the Latino community could elect their candidate of choice. Now, Casten and Newman are set to clash in a primary next June.” • What liberal Democrats always do. Nevada, India Walton, Sanders… Learn nothing, forget nothing.

The Dark Side

“‘When do we get to use the guns?’ The life-or-death stakes of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial”

Will Bunch [Philadelphia Inquirer, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-1-21]

“This is a 55-gallon drum of highly flammable political rage — not something that you want to come anywhere near with a lighted match. Unfortunately, Monday marks the launch of a Wisconsin murder trial with the potential for exactly that. It’s not just that the hotly disputed case of Kyle Rittenhouse — the now 18-year-old Illinois teen who picked up an AR-15-style rifle to join vigilantes during the August 2020 unrest after a police shooting in Kenosha, Wisc., and then killed two people and wounded a third during a series of altercations — could lead to near-term unrest, although there is surely that potential…. The greater risk to the republic is that a successful self-defense argument from attorneys for Rittenhouse — already a cause célèbre for the Trumpian right, which raised the $2 million to release him on bail — will be interpreted by all of the worst people as a sign from the U.S. justice system that it’s not only OK but heroic for citizens to take up arms for their perceived — and in too many cases invented — grievances.”

God, Trump and the Closed-Door World of a Major Conservative Group

[Washington Post, via The Big Picture 10-31-2021]

What internal recordings and documents reveal about the Council for National Policy — and the future of the Republican Party.

Jan. 6 Protest Organizers Say They Participated in ‘Dozens’ of Planning Meetings With Members of Congress and White House Staff

[Rolling Stone, via The Big Picture 11-30-2021]

Some of the planners of the pro-Trump rallies that took place in Washington, D.C., have begun communicating with congressional investigators and sharing new information about what happened when the former president’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Rolling Stone spoke extensively in recent weeks to three of these witnesses, and they detailed explosive allegations that multiple members of Congress were intimately involved in planning both Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent. 

The Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol was neither a spontaneous act nor an isolated event. 

[Washington Post, via The Big Picture 11-1-2021]

The consequences of that day are still coming into focus, but what is already clear is that the insurrection was not a spontaneous act nor an isolated event. It was a battle in a broader war over the truth and over the future of American democracy. 

January 6 timeline: How Trump tried to weaponize the Justice Department to overturn the 2020 election 

[CNN, via Naked Capitalism 11-6-2021]

Is Trump running in 2024? The Claremont Institute hopes so 

[MSNBC, via The Big Picture 11-2-2021]

Once one of the most prestigious bastions of conservative thought, Claremont now spends its time putting lipstick on the Trumpian wildebeest. How a bastion of conservative thought devolved into Trumpian madness 

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