Links 6/29/2020

Extraordinary ‘megaflash’ lightning strikes cover several hundred kilometres, smashing records UN News (BC)

On “White Fragility’ Matt Taibbi (UserFriendly)

California set to ban all heavy diesel trucks and vans by 2045 Ars Technica

Bastard Foreigners London Review of Books

How hackers extorted $1.14m from University of California, San Francisco BBC

#COVID-19

‘Window is closing’ for US to get coronavirus under control, Trump’s HHS secretary warns CNN

Experts are calling for a 9/11-style commission on U.S. coronavirus response. Here’s where it could start Stat

Is the coronavirus pandemic entering a second wave? SCMP

World hits coronavirus milestones amid fears worse to come AP

The Global Death Toll Now Tops 500,000 NYT

Worst virus fears are realized in poor or war-torn countries AP

A new dilemma for Trump’s team: Preventing super-spreader churches Politico

Quarter of businesses in Pacific fear they will not survive Covid-19 pandemic Guardian

How Texas Swaggered Into a Coronavirus Disaster NYT

Coronavirus: ‘Swift and dangerous turn’ in Texas cases, says governor BBC

The Triple Crisis Shaking the World Project Syndicate

Why Meatpacking Plants Are Superspreaders Der Spiegel

Science/Medicine

Mask Vs. No Mask Experiment Shows How Important It Is To Wear Masks To Stop The Coronavirus Bored Panda

As U.S. soars past 2.5 million coronavirus cases, Pence urges Americans to wear masks, social distance WaPo

U.S. Officials Press President Trump to Wear Mask in Coronavirus Fight WSJ

Rising Coronavirus Cases Put Fresh Strain on Mask Supplies WSJ

UK

Into the fog: How Britain lost track of the coronavirus Reuters

Boris Johnson warns Britons are ‘significantly fatter’ than other nationalities (except the Maltese) as he launches drive against obesity -and dismisses ‘complete nonsense’ claims he is struggling to recover from coronavirus Daily Mail. Okay, I admit I couldn’t resist the headline.

Class Warfare

EY prepares for backlash over Wirecard scandal FT

Safety Unknowns Await Returning Medical and Dental Workers Capital & Main

Coronavirus: Why US is expecting an ‘avalanche’ of evictions BBC

One of America’s Wealthiest States Might Pass Up an Opportunity to Tackle Housing Segregation ProPublica

Washington Post public editor: Jeff Bezos could solve pay equality tomorrow. He makes token gestures instead. Columbia Journalism Review. A couple of weeks old, but still germane.

The Supreme Court Is Still Repeatedly Ruling in Favor of the Ultra-Wealthy Jacobin. David Sirota.

The True Cost of Dollar Stores New Yorker

Black Injustice Tipping Point

WHAT LAW DID WE BREAK? Intercept

Waste Watch

Developing stories on PFAS, the ‘forever chemicals’ looming large for the waste industry Waste Dive

India

The Pillage of India New York Review of Books Rview of two books you should read, the latest from the pens of Williiam Dalrymple and Shashi Tharoor.

The Political Fix: Can the rural economy pull the rest of India out of its post-lockdown malaise? Scroll

Timeline: How Did India Get to More Than Half a Million COVID-19 Cases? The Wire

Pakistan

Pakistan attack: Deadly raid on stock exchange in Karachi BBC

China?

US bill aiming to delist Chinese companies could claim American investors, businesses as unintended victim SCMP

Why Hong Kong residents are buying prime London properties the Times

What Are China’s New Market Demands After COVID-19? Jing Daily

2020

From sleepy to senile: Inside the Trump campaign’s effort to rebrand Biden Axios

Progressives zero in on another House chairman in primary The Hill

Libya

Libya: The Ultimate Free-For-All Foreign Intervention American Conservative

Is Egypt really preparing to jump into the Libyan fray? Qantara

Syraqistan

Only Idiots Believe The CIA, And Other Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix Caitlin Johnstone

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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221 comments

  1. Feinman

    In recent links post, I see lots of anti-facial recognition actions by corporations and gov’t. Here’s an example: https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/security/2-democratic-senators-propose-ban-use-facial-recognition-federal-law-n1232128

    Recently ibm said it would stop selling facial recognition tech.

    This seems like a distraction: avoid facial recognition so the public fears surveillance less, while using other tech that works just as well. Do you know what that other tech might be? I can find lists of ways humans can be identified like thermally or by their gait, but I’m curious if anyone knows what the next best type of id’ing tech is, or what’s behind these public avoidance of facial recognition. Thanks.

    1. Maritimer

      They can always morph back to face recognition if needed. Keep all possibilities open. As far as IBM, maybe they were behind in development, decided to cut their losses and tossed it out as a Feel Good Story. Be assured that they are monitoring public opinion to explore their options.

      The Covid Opportunity is 9/11, Patriot Act, Total Information Awareness (if anyone remembers all that) on steroids. Dick Cheney drools in envy at the present totalitarian opportunities. Cellphone tracking already being “voluntarily” implemented for instance and will be eventually mandatory. (Anyone who has listened to Existential Threat Experts knows that one thing they propose as protection is total monitoring of all the population. This is no secret.)

      I see this every day in many of the links at NC.

      Funny that NC today links to a story about a Commission for US covid response. Those who remember the 9/11 Commission know that the two co-Commissioners were stonewalled by CIA, US security interests and never got to the root of the matter. As they say, wash, rinse, repeat.

  2. David

    For those who may be interested, there were local (municipal) elections in France yesterday. This was the second round, postponed from March after an extremely controversial first round held under the shadow of the virus. Three points are worth taking away.
    First, turnout was catastrophically low by French standards – around 40%, less in some areas. This continues a potentially very dangerous trend of alienation from the political process which has been going on for a few years now.
    Second, Macron’s party failed to make any kind of breakthrough at local level, which is worrying in a political culture where the local counts for a lot. In particular, they came a humiliating third in Paris, which they originally hoped to take, and had a hard time everywhere, even when they made electoral pacts with old-style traditional Right parties they had earlier tried to differentiate themselves from. The real success, ironically, was Edouard Philippe, the Prime Minister, who convincingly retained the post of Mayor of Le Havre (the Communists came second). Philippe won in spite of, rather than because of, his association with Macron, and the political world is feverishly debating whether he will stay or go, and challenge Macron in 2022. The Rassemblement National did OK, picking up Perpignan, their first city of more than 100,000 inhabitants.
    Third, the big winners , arithmetically, were the Greens, who took a number of important cities, often in alliance with the Socialists (yes, they do still exist, just). This is partly explained by the virus and its wider effects, and partly by a restive middle-class electorate disillusioned with the Socialists and looking for something else. The Greens don’t have much of a coherent ideology, and are weak in terms of leadership, but at the moment are acting as a middle-class protest vote. Quite a lot of Macron’s disillusioned PMC supporters have drifted off there.
    Short verdict: traditional Left in pieces, traditional Right recovering, RN doing OK, Greens currently in fashion, Macron in deep trouble.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      Thanks for this summary. I was on a conference call earlier today where the French election results were discussed, and I meant to include a link, but forgot.

    2. mle detroit

      Yes, thanks, David. Particularly for your capsule description of the Greens, which may equally apply in the US.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Thanks for the update, David. I have a question here. This election comes on the tail end of a coupla months of lockdown and reduced activity which led to a clearing of the skies, waterways, etc. Do you think that the clearing of the environment may have been a factor in making people realize the effect of pollution which made the Greens a more attractive choice than normal?
      I bet Macron turned a shade of verte when he saw the results of the election.

      1. David

        Good question, and something the commentators have been chewing over. I think there are two separate things. There’s a lot of churning in French politics, and, especially at the moment, people are switching votes around between a proliferation of different parties. People who are disillusioned with Macron (but not only them) see the Greens (but not only them) as a safe, cuddly place to put their vote. But with the focus on the environment and the high profile given to the reduction in pollution, I think that Green issues were just topical, and wandering and hesitant voters went with them. Of course, the Greens have been doing quite well for a while now, because they have inherited much of the old Socialist vote. But they are such a divided and unstable lot that it will be interesting to see how well they bear up, now that they control some really big cities (Bordeaux, lost by the Right for the first time in three quarters of a century!)

        1. Ignacio

          It is somehow surprising because, it is said, in times of turmoil or problems, people tend to vote conservatively and also tend to back the government in charge when is seen figthing the pandemic. I am wondering on the reasons for such a low turnout which is indeed bad news and shows a that a significant part of the electorate is showing their backs to the political class. This is a huge electoral hole and looks like next could be the occasion when the RN wins big.

          1. The Rev Kev

            It could be the reason for the low turnout is that people did not want to risk getting Coronavirus. If so, then this may point to what may happen in the US come November.

            1. Ignacio

              Thank you, that was the other big reason I was missing. This could possibly affect disproportionately voters living in larger families with children, grandparents around…

            2. David

              Well, this is the big question. If the low turn-out is virus related, then the political establishment can relax a bit, on the basis that turn-out will recover in time. But I don’t think that’s the main reason: participation has been declining for a while, now. People are going to shops and restaurants, and going to a voting station is at least as safe. I think it’s a mixture of some genuine concern; some people who are using the virus as an excuse, and a lot of people who just can’t be bothered.

              1. John k

                In the us it’s the older ones that mostly vote, but with the virus these people are staying home, not going to bars or restaurants etc. so maybe in France it’s a loss of older ones fearful of standing in poll lines.
                The us looks to be moving to mostly mail ballots, which will allow seniors to vote safely. Trump logically hates that, he would prefer voting be limited to the dedicated and fearless, such as his base.

              2. Susan the other

                As far as the US goes on politics, politics is/was always the default position. You elect your “representatives” to do your bidding – but they never really do it because they get bribed, and etc. But at least you did your part, you got up and went to vote, right? Voting has come to mean almost nothing. Something might be said for gravitas here – France is a more politically compact society. It always seems to have back pressure. The PM should run against Macron. He’d probably win because he actually goes out and does stuff. The distrust of Macron and his arrogance and cluelessness is virtually insurmountable now. And, hopefully, as France goes, so goes democracy.

        2. Bugs Bunny

          Saw that a PS-Green coalition led by Normalien Fabius offspring won the Rouen mayoral contest with +/- 29% turnout. How can that even be considered legitimate?

          Sorry to see the utterly incompetent Hidalgo win again in Paris but there was no one to really challenge her. She’s made the city into an unlivable mess. I can’t see how the Olympics can even take place 4 years from now in such chaos.

    4. PlutoniumKun

      Since we are discussing European politics, for those interested I’ll give an update on Irish politics, also relevant to the Greens (who have been split in Ireland between the ‘middle class protest vote’ and a more radical leftist wing.

      A government has finally been formed in Ireland, 5 months after the election. It is a coalition between the two (yes, two!) centre right parties and the smaller Greens. Leo Varadkar will share power with Michael Martin, the leader of the other centre right party. His party is a little more rural based and traditionalist than the more overtly neoliberal party Varadkar leads, although interestingly, Martin is distinctly to the left of his own party and would be considered fairly left by US standards. He is, for those interested, the man responsible for all those smoking bans, as Health Minister 20 years ago he made Ireland the first country to ban smoking indoors, and his legislation was followed more or less exactly by countries all over the world (presumably on the basis that if the Irish can survive not having a cigarette with their pint of beer, anyone can).

      The Green Party very nearly split over the decision and decided on a vote of their membership. There was a lively debate between the younger, more radical wing and the more mainstream centrist wing. The media enjoyed hyping the high profile ‘no’ campaigners (many suspected that Varadkar was hoping for a ‘no’, as the polls suggest he’d do better in a new election and he could blame the Greens for a new poll). To the general shock of the radical wing of the Greens the vote was overwhelmingly to go into government. They got a rude awakening to find that Twitter is not real life. Most members saw the political realities were that they had no real choice but to go into government.

      So the Irish government is now an uncomfortable coalition of two very similar parties who loath each other for historic reasons, but generally agree on policies, with the Greens trying to soften things. The Greens have full control of transport and energy policy, along with the arts/media policy as part of the deal. The other two parties have full control of the economic ministries, along with health and education. There is an uncomfortable mix in agriculture, where the Greens insisted on a junior Minister to act as a spoiler in the countries policy of churning out endless beef and milk. So the Greens have essentially agreed a deal which will let them steer transport and energy policy to a more sustainable course, while rubber stamping some no doubt horrible economic/health/education policies.

      The main opposition now is Sinn Fein, on a populist centre left nationalist platform. The Irish Labour party, representing trade unions, has been reduced to a stump, mostly because of its embrace of austerity and identity politics. There is one small anti austerity centre left party (called the Social Democrats, even though they aren’t really), plus a random scattering of Trots who will devote all their energy to denouncing each other for a lack of purity as usual.

      1. Laughingsong

        Thanks for the update. Himself and I never much liked Martin, and we’re disappointed at the coalition. Something similar happened with the Greens while we were still living there (although then it was just Greens + Fianna Fáil with no Fine Gael). Trevor Sargent stepped down as Greens leader because he wasn’t for it, and Gormless (Gormley) took over and pushed it through. The Greens seem to do this regularly….

    1. rd

      “Worst virus fears are realized in poor or war-torn countries”

      This clearly explains why the US has had such a bad response and is becoming an Abbotoir :)

  3. fresno dan

    So, uh, I have a friend, because of course, I’m not that cynical, that believes big corporations, when they have a chance to make more money, always cloak it in self aggrandizing public service blather. So why are companies REALLY not advertising on Facebook?

    1. Pat

      I think you are missing something even more basic. That when a corporation can not only get free advertising but save themselves even more money in the process they will “take a stand”. In this case it also limits their exposure to blowback. Staying on Facebook will make them a target leaving not so much.

      Is it pointless pandering? In most cases, yes. But that is S.O.P.

    2. Quanka

      b/c many of them are probably on brink of insolvency – the fed has zombified this economy and the companies that comprise it – and desperately need to save cash. And consumers aren’t spending b/c despite the “reopening” many Americans are still fearful of what is coming down the pike.

    3. The Historian

      According to this article, Facebook is not doing enough to control its content, so the corporations are using the only method they have to send a message to Zuckerberg.

      What I get from this article is that corporations are taking over policing of ‘free speech’ in this country. Facebook still has a lot of hateful material on its pages, but I am not sure I want corporations deciding what I should or should not see.

      https://www.adexchanger.com/platforms/facebook-tightens-its-policies-on-hate-speech-in-ads-as-more-brands-join-the-boycott/

      1. The Historian

        Add “on the internet” to the end of my second paragraph. Corporations already control what we can see or not see on television.

    4. Lou Anton

      Because they’ve potentially known for a while that it doesn’t generate a consistent return on investment. They just kept doing it because it’s hard to argue against “billions of impressions” and “precise targeting” points by senior management. And no one wants to get off the treadmill first, giving competitiors a potential advantage.

      P&G gave the warning shot (link) a few years ago, now everyone else has a good excuse to pull the plug.

      1. Off The Street

        Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, the trouble is I don’t know which half.

        Attributed to John Wanamaker, he of that old Philly department store that was subsumed into Macy’s.

        Later analyses try to put finer points on that through measures like Customer Lifetime Value. That leads to a basic question: When was the last time you really felt valued by a company, as in not treated like a number? That list is pretty short, beyond my local grocery stores.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          And they still don’t know which half. A study from Google itself a few years back that I’ve linked to a few times showed that half of all internet ads are never even seen by a human being, but someone paid for them anyway.

        2. Susan the other

          that’s because of Lincoln’s calculation: some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, and all of the people none of the time… that filters down to about half of the people at any given time ;-))

      2. lyman alpha blob

        Agreed. I’ve been wondering just how long it will take for these corporations to realize that Fleecebook can’t target their ads to nearly the extent that they claim and that they have been grossly overcharging for a decade plus based on these baseless claims, to the point where an awkward, mendacious, [family blog]er with zero integrity or personality and who couldn’t find a date with a fistful of hundreds in a roomful of hookers is now one of the most powerful people in the world.

        Maybe these corporations got tired of Zuckerberg owning better politicians than they do.

        1. Conrad

          Well said. I firmly believe that social media marketing is the biggest scam of the century.

    5. JCC

      Matt Taibbi said it best in his book review of “White Fragility”

      For corporate America the calculation is simple. What’s easier, giving up business models based on war, slave labor, and regulatory arbitrage, or benching Aunt Jemima?

      This applies to any stand Corporate America takes about any thing.

      1. flora

        This reporting from The Tennessee Star is unintentionally hillarious. Pretty damned expensive “woke insurance”. /heh

        DiAngelo, who is white, charged the University of Kentucky $12,000, not counting travel expenses, housing accommodations and meals, for a two-hour “Racial Justice Keynote and breakout session” in March, according to a copy of the speaking contract obtained by the DCNF through public records requests.

        “Dr. DiAngelo’s schedule cannot accommodate phone calls related to services,” the contract states, instructing that all communications be sent via email or through DiAngelo’s assistant. “If phone calls are deemed necessary, they will be charged at a rate of $320 per hour.”

        https://tennesseestar.com/2019/07/31/lecturers-earn-6000-per-hour-pushing-white-privilege-to-students/

        It’s all about the grift. (Dem consultants must be sooo jealous.)

  4. Sam Adams

    Does anyone remember Us Congressman Wilson and Joanne Herring’s war game in Afghanistan? I

    1. Off The Street

      The spineless, willfully ignorant Congresscritters who aided and abetted in Charlie Wilson’s War probably angled to get tickets to the movie premier to see how they turned out on screen.

      Gee, I hope I get played portrayed played by someone attractive.

    2. rd

      Both of them were really pissed when the US walked away from the Afghans after the Soviets left. Both of them wanted the US to help the Afghans reconstruct. The cynical and short-sighted failure to do that led to 9/11 by creating a vacuum in the country that the Taliban and al Qaeda exploited. Since there was no oil, minerals, or legal agriculture to exploit easily, the US had no interest once the Soviet Union fell.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Boris Johnson warns Britons are ‘significantly fatter’ than other nationalities”

    In earlier news, Winston Churchill warns Britons about the dangers of smoking while looking for a match for his cigar.

    1. Synoia

      Lady Astror To Winston: You are drunk
      Winston: Yes, and you are ugly. Tomorrow I will be sober:

      1. Big Tap

        Lady Astor: “Winston, you are a drunk!”
        Winston Churchill: “And you, madam, are ugly. But I shall be sober in the morning.”
        (Reported exchange will Winston Churchill.)

        Lady Astor: “Sir, if you were my husband, I’d poison your tea.”
        Winston Churchill: “Madame,i f you were my wife, I’d drink it!”
        (Exchange with Winston Churchill)

        (Exchange with Winston Churchill)
        Churchill explains that having a woman in Parliament was like having one intrude on him in the bathroom, to which the Lady Astor retorted, “Sir, you are not handsome enough to have such fears”.

  6. timbers

    Watching the Greenwald / Hillary video:

    While watching this, It occurs some differences btwn Trump vs Hillary. Will note just one that jumped to mind while viewing:

    Trump is mostly clueless and no idea what really is going on when we do things like Iraq/Afghanistan/Libya. Thought I’ll admit I mostly tune Trump out and pay almost no attention, being as he is so non sensical it seems a waste of brain cells to get to wrapped up in him.

    Then there is Hillyar. Hillary knows what is going on, all the down and dirty, the non sensical blood shed, the waste of nation and trueasure, the hypocracy and all it’s unspeakable badness. And she doesn’t fix it. None of it. And she doesn’t much care or shy away from doing it all if that’s what her donors want.

    It’s almost just a job or (in the example of the video) talking point to her. To look wonkish maybe.

    Think that this is part of the reason I ignore Trump, but recoil in disgust to Hillary/

    1. marcyincny

      Thank you for voicing my sentiments. Frankly I don’t have a clue what Donald Trump thinks about anything but I can clearly discern the evil of Hillary Clinton, et al.

      1. Carla

        It seems to me Trump acts entirely on instinct, and thought is foreign to him. In my view, he is predictably narcissistic and dangerous.

        Hillary, on the other hand, is always thinking. In my view, she is predictably evil.

        Biden, on the other hand, at this point has no agency at all. He is strictly a tool, and in my view, not a good one.

        1. John k

          So, to an extent it will depend on Biden’s handler(s). No doubt including the son, who seems to me a younger, equally corrupt, version of Biden.
          But Biden has his priors. Long since sold himself to the credit card folks. And now has a whole new set of banking and other buyers to whom he promises no change. Plus, for sauce, his lifelong racist friends and love for incarceration of blacks.
          I think he’s part of the large class that see politics as where you go if you can for the comfortable and powerful good life, this fab gig, and all you have to do in your cushy job is vote for whatever your donors want. This lot doesn’t think they’re evil, they think they’re smart and that they won.

      1. newcatty

        Well said, yes. Only thing I might change is that ,yes, they think they’re smart and they know they are evil. They have won, so far.

    2. Tinky

      That is very similar to the reason that I consider Obama to have been much more insidious than GWB. A trojan horse corporatist, who also received the most ironic Nobel Prize ever awarded.

      Bush/Cheney were, in stark contrast, completely transparent, and therefore in many ways less dangerous.

      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        Well, there is Kissinger — but I suppose one could argue that at least then the committee could have argued he had to get one if Le Duc Tho did. . . .

    3. fresno dan

      timbers
      June 29, 2020 at 8:16 am

      I think that is a good insight – malice versus ignorance (an obnoxious, obstinate ignorance which is why I react so strongly to it…)

    4. Oso

      timbers, the comparison between trump and clinton brought to mind a comparison someone had made between bush jr and kissinger. if “trotskyist” was referenced in a humorous manner kissinger might smile at the jest, bush jr would only have looked back blankly.

    5. Maxwell Johnston

      Thank you Glenn Greenwald, for posting this priceless video. But there’s something sad about it. Hillary is articulate and intelligent and well-informed. Like so many in the USA ‘establishment’. But she lacks any moral compass and any sense of history and any broad sense of how her nation fits into the grand scheme of things on our planet. Like so many in the USA ‘establishment’. If I were a USA citizen, I would vote for Trump; simply as the lesser evil, as the candidate most likely to cause the least amount of damage.

  7. Henry Moon Pie

    Dollar stores–

    Just a couple of anecdotes from the Dollar General store down the street from us. The general scene inside and out is one of disarray. Aisles are often blocked with unloaded pallets. The outside parking lot is always filled with trash that blow throughout the neighborhood. This store happens to be the last one I entered (on 2/29) because I was out of brownie mix.

    During the shutdown, a young girl came to the store unmasked. The sole attendant (that’s almost always the case) objected and told her she need to get a mask to shop. She left and returned with her brother who shot the attendant dead.

    Two weeks ago, a young man entered a barbershop that sits next door to the Dollar General. When he pulled a gun and tried to hold up the shop, the two barbers drew their guns and shot the would-be robber twice. He fled bleeding profusely to the Dollar store, but before he could enter, the attendant locked the automatic opening doors. He then instructed the patrons in the store to withdraw to the back and lie on the floor, keeping the door locked until the police arrived. Pretty quick and commendable thinking on that clerk’s part.

    This Dollar store, like the Rite-Aid half a block away, never have security guards. These chains are all a curse to these neighborhoods.

  8. PlutoniumKun

    On “White Fragility’ Matt Taibbi

    I’d rank this as a ‘must read’. The usual brilliant and brave writing from Taibbi.

    This dingbat racialist cult, which has no art, music, literature, and certainly no comedy, is the vision of “progress” institutional America has chosen to endorse in the Trump era. Why? Maybe because it fits. It won’t hurt the business model of the news media, which for decades now has been monetizing division and has known how to profit from moral panics and witch hunts since before Fleet street discovered the Mod/Rocker wars.

    Democratic Party leaders, pioneers of the costless gesture, have already embraced this performative race politics as a useful tool for disciplining apostates like Bernie Sanders. Bernie took off in presidential politics as a hard-charging crusader against a Wall Street-fattened political establishment, and exited four years later a self-flagellating, defeated old white man who seemed to regret not apologizing more for his third house. Clad in kente cloth scarves, the Democrats who crushed him will burn up CSPAN with homilies on privilege even as they reassure donors they’ll stay away from Medicare for All or the carried interest tax break.

    1. The Rev Kev

      It is a good article this. If this whole thing got its start in elite schools in America, then this would go a long way in explaining how for years now you have ‘safe spaces’ in universities and students resorting to colour-in books when dealing with stress. If this idea had been properly challenged, it would have died in the crib. I always thought of places of higher education being like bear-pits for ideas where any stupid idea gets torn to shreds but apparently this is no longer true and has not been for a long time.

      And because of this you have stupid things like the New York Times’s 1619 Project and the ‘purification’ of public opinion. No wonder the hyper-sensitivity of these inquisitors is killing modern comedy. What is needed in the present and future tough times is unity of people across beliefs, religions, classes, etc. but with this toxic idea floating through society, that will only fragment society into smaller and smaller shards. Come to think of it, if Martin Luther King was still alive, he would be a priority target for all these people and there would be no place for him.

      1. Off The Street

        Waiting for that pendulum to change direction, while avoiding the pitfalls of modern life.

        There is an excessiveness and vacuity to so much of what makes it into so-called news, that the absence of any notion of truth is beginning to be noticed. The realizations of deception and reactions thereto won’t be pretty.

      2. Burns

        I’m sadly skeptical that true unity will ever be attainable.

        It’s one thing to call for equality under the law, which is a worthy and laudable goal. However, things like the 1619 project – which is nothing but a political polemic and has been roundly criticized by professional historians for its factual inaccuracies – show me that there’s someone who always takes it too far. Tracts like 1619 and White Fragility are basically power plays for control of the narrative.

        Now, I agree that for a long time the narrative has been white supremacy, but the (to my mind) deliberately inflammatory tone of these polemics will only serve to enrage conservative nationalists who were already prone to dismissing calls for equality, and also confuse the well intentioned but somnambulent who think there’s no race problem in America.

        It doesn’t help your cause to deliberately piss off the people you want to have accept you as fully equal and fully human, hence my skepticism that there will ever be true reconciliation. My hope is that the wealth gap can at least be bridged, so more minorities can insulate themselves from the predator state.

        But then we’ll have balkanized communities all across the nation. Which is all to say, there’s truly no good solution.

        1. marym

          Yes, if there’s anything people who have actually (not “taking it too far”) been in and built this country since 1619 — fought in every war, contributed in every field of endeavor — need to do it’s avoid upsetting people who don’t accept them as fully equal and fully human. /s

          Maybe it’s the unacceptors of people’s equality and humanity who need the lectures?

          1. Burns

            Did you even read the Taibbi article? That’s not the way human psychology works, and research has shown these kind of polemics actually increase prejudice in some cases. There’s a very big difference between telling someone to respect another’s common humanity through emphasizing those commonalities versus telling someone they’re a worthless asshole who can never do better because they’re irredeemably racist.

            1. Aumua

              …telling someone they’re a worthless asshole who can never do better because they’re irredeemably racist.

              Who is saying that?

          2. Aumua

            Yep. I see this whole process as something like poison being drawn out of a wound. It might not go all that smoothly or be very comfortable, but it is necessary before we can really begin to have the ‘beyond race’ discussion.

        2. pjay

          I agree that Taibbi’s article is a must-read, and very relevant in today’s surrealistic political environment.

          It should be noted, however, that like “political correctness” and other charges, the “color-blindness” trope has long been used by conservatives and right-wingers to avoid addressing contemporary racism. There have been many *good* critiques of “color-blindness” as ideology. I’ve used them and made similar arguments myself in the classroom over the years.

          Unfortunately, like so much else in the bubble of academic liberalism, a useful tool has become twisted beyond recognition in a way guaranteed to “sow chaos and division” — and we can’t blame Putin for it.

          Like other NC readers, I witnessed this devolution first hand from my undergraduate years in the 1970s through my grad student days in the late 70s/early 80s up to my retirement from academia a few years back. As a middle-aged white guy, I always addressed this issue head-on in the classroom when dealing with race or ethnicity (or gender for that matter). I only started having problems my last few years of teaching. For example, during my last year I had an African American student stand up and criticize me for using the term “colored man” in class. I was reading a quote from WEB Du Bois! That didn’t matter. My using that term was offensive and disturbing to him. To my great relief, other minority students jumped all over him for this. But by that time I had a few faculty colleagues that probably would have sided with the student’s objection.

          I think the most important part of Taibbi’s piece is his last sentence: “It’s almost like someone thinks there’s a benefit to keeping people divided.”

          1. Nakatomi Plaza

            It’s become very challenging over the last several years. The more empowered students and administrators feel to challenge course content, the more guarded you need to be, and the process repeats until “academic integrity” is just an abstraction.

            I’m in English Composition, and we never, ever discuss anything related to English or Composition in meetings or prof dev. It’s almost always about social justice or student outreach (which is really just about retention with so much competition for students now). Composition has been completely politicized, and it seems like a contest to see who can create the most diverse and anti-white (you know what I mean) curriculum. I think half my peers are just frustrated social workers who happened to end up teaching; they’re far more interested in promoting their personal politics and saving the world than teaching literacy.

            1. periol

              “they’re far more interested in promoting their personal politics and saving the world than teaching literacy.”

              I’m sorry, is this in a college? I would hope the students already know how to read. I’m not sure what to make of the rest. You seem really bothered by it though.

              Remind me again why we need people to major in “English Composition”?

    2. Mangeons les Riches!

      In addition to the myriad issues with the antiracist movement Matt points out in his article, the imprimatur of academia is also particularly troublesome. This a movement born from echo chambered schools of sociology and social work that rely almost exclusively on narrative as opposed to data. Unsubstantiated, emotionally charged stories are then left to masquerade as a discipline. What’s more, it’s been allowed to gestate unchallenged for so long, it’s essentially impossible to combat it without immediately being suspected as someone who is a little bit too preoccupied with combating “antiracism.” And if you’re against antiracism..well, you know what label logically follows from there.

    3. Carolinian

      Had another comment that seems to have been swallowed but I’d say anyone who thought he might pull his punches after his previous blast will be disabused. Great stuff.

    4. Aumua

      I’m gonna have to break with Taibbi on this (and most of NC I guess too). I don’t think he understands, or he deliberately misunderstands what the book is saying, because the part of his ego that is white (the social construct) is having a knee jerk reaction. He’s actually demonstrating “white fragility” in a little theatrical performance.

      I’m not saying you are a bad person if you’re white, but that we have all grown up in a world where racial oppression exists and its manifestations are fractal in our society. Every step of the way in my life, there has been some influence, large or tiny, that my skin color has played. Being a white man, I have always been on the better end of that influence. Acknowledging that and taking responsibility for changing it when and where I can does not reduce my identity to race.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > He’s actually demonstrating “white fragility” in a little theatrical performance.

        You mean, as opposed to an H.R. consultant’s presentation and subsequent book deal?

          1. JBird4049

            I do not see an ad hominem attack in either your comments or his. I do see two people speaking the truth as they see, and honestly speaking the truth as one sees it is not an insult. It merely is, but riddle me the following:

            (My apologies. This is far, far too long. I do want to make an extremely important point, which seems to me to need a lot of background.)

            The racial categories of white and black were developed around 1600. Probably a little after by wealthy Americans who used it to keep divided Black slaves, poor often indentured Whites, and the often enslaved Indians. These people were not disposable because they were useful as workers, but who often worked and even socialized frequently. As a group they had potentially considerable political power during the 1600s. This was deliberately dealt with. The Blacks were brutally suppress with (the category of Black indentured was eliminated. There was no Southern style chattel slavery for Blacks at first). The Whites were placated with some very modest reforms. The Indians (labeled as savages) were just driven off at gunpoint. This is also where the Southern Slave Patrols started to terrorize and keep down the slave population as well as keep down any poor whites. Where they started asking for people’s papers.

            When my Irish great whatever grandfather stepped off the Coffin Ship around 1850, he was barely considered human, never mind white, and about on par with the black community. This was true for decades as were the “Irish need not apply signs” and the creation of the Paddy Wagons. Would you consider him having White Privilege?

            It was only after the development of political power over multiple generations that the Irish-Americans were given the status of being both human and white, which only really happened during the early 20th century. Similarly with the Italians, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Italians, Greeks, and so on. Then there are the Jews. The Italians only finally became real whites after the Second World War although I do not think that they were quite as abused as the Irish. Going up to an individual in these groups at anytime before the 1960s and saying that they have White Privilege would have had them laugh at you in your very face. Today, they have been giving the category of White with its very real privilege of being treated like a human being, so long as you are not poor. But in the past?

            During the Antebellum South and after Reconstruction when a poor white farmer or laborer even got friendly with a black person, the local wealthy white landowner and his hired goons would often beat up the offending white man. After Reconstruction, the allied white and black reformists in the South were literally extirpated via guns and the rope. If they were lucky and in the government, they were merely deposed, and run out of town by armed white supremacists during actual coups. Much like the American led coups in the Americas and elsewhere.

            When a leader, especially a black one, becomes successful in his leadership and starts to bring up class and poverty, to suggest crossing class and race as well as mentioning our common humanity they often wind up dead like MLK and Fred Hampton. Working just on racism is much less dangerous.

            Actually in the South and Southwest during the 19th century Blacks, Hispanics, and the very, very occasional White who were too successful as business owners were sometimes lynched for just that reason. To destroy the opposition.

            There are a number of ways to destroy reformists movements besides murder especially those that threaten the power and money of the elites. Hell, you can find elite co-option, police and goon squad assassinations in the labor movement, equal rights movement, even in feminism (no murders, but plenty of false arrests and beatings). All of these movements were captured by elitists who expunged first the non-whites, then the socialists, then the working class from what became their movement. Any economic benefits from these “reforms” only accrued to the Upper Class Whites.

            Why do cries of racism become so strident and the very real problem of racism become something that must be solves right now, today when cries of poverty and want are also raised. Every single time? Do you think that the current debates about racism just happened right after Bernie Sanders near success and the rise of an actual American Left fifty years after it was destroyed is a coincidence? Really?

            If this was really and truly about racism or even poverty, why are the Native Americans, trapped on their Reservations with the highest poverty, drug use, rape and murder statistics of any group of Americans, bar none, not mentioned. They have the most police brutality as well and some of the reservations, due to legal loopholes, are happy hunting grounds for rapists coming from outside of some of the reservations. Their leaders usually do not have political power and wealth and they are isolated and beaten down at least compared to the national political leadership. So just under three million people are ignored and targeted.

            People are finally taking some notice of the shrinking middle class and of the increasing homeless population. If you wanted, I can take to some of the skosh less then fifteen thousand homeless in San Francisco. Or the over one hundred thousand throughout the state. At least half of whom are White. Are there any real protest over them? We can look at the millions wasted every year by San Francisco with cushy jobs being created, but not much progress. However, there are fine demonstrations on racism, which is good because racism and also police brutality with no mention of the increasing poverty in this country. Even now large sums of cash are used to “deal” with the problems, nationally. Problems that always get worse.

            So cui bono? At least half of any negative statistic one could name, with the possible exception of prison, which IIRC only one-third are White. Unemployment, poverty, drug use, police brutality and police murders. Poor and struggling people are much easier to manipulate, aren’t they?

            However, when there are protests about those issues it very often morphs into one about just racism. Let’s tear down some statues. Yah! When ever there is smart, hardworking, talented, and dedicated reformist or a successful non-profit making progress dealing with those issues, including racism, money from somewhere drops from the sky like manna. So long as small concessions are made. Or a slick person applies for a job there. Always has money somehow and eventually takes over or at least co-opts the organization. Or cushy jobs are offered elsewhere to certain people. In the old days like the 1960s and before, if that didn’t work s*** would happen, sometimes fatally. Sometimes nothing needs be done because often college educated are already brainwashed into uselessness by Neoliberal propaganda. The wealth and power of the Haves remain protected.

            As an aside, Social Darwinism and Eugenics were created and spread by very wealthy people and foundations in the United States. Much like racism. If one doubts this, I can recommend some books I have. A good start would be War Against the Weak by Edwin Black.

            So, in two part harmony, the Black Misleadership Class starts it latest performance along with the Backup of the White Misleadership Class (what else should I label Pelosi, Schumer, and McConnell? Or the leaders of the entire state of California?). Racism, the horror! And the police, oh my! Screaming, shouting (a whisper about poverty, homelessness, hunger, unemployment.) Perhaps Obama pops out and says some soaring nonsense or some very poor white fool is interviewed. A fantastic tempest in a teapot with nothing every actually getting done.

            Then some Alt-Right creeps pop out and start saying you are White or not, and that’s all that matters! There is no American nationalism, only White Nationalism. White Power! Join us! (and don’t forget the Jews!) Finally, lies like the 1619 Project or propaganda like White Fragility are published.

            Yes, racism does exist, and as a percentage of all the ills of our American nation, Blacks get it the worse excepting the Native Americans, of course. White Privilege is a real thing. But just as the categories of White and Black, of racism were deliberately created in the 17th century, for benefiting the powers that be, I wonder about Identity Politics and Cancelling. That blend of Nazi racialism and Maoist thought control. I wonder how racism and its pernicious child Identity Politics has been created, nurtured, fed a steady diet of hate, and then used as a weapon upon those who would care about everyone regardless of there supposed identity. I also wonder what would happen if I approached the man sleeping on cardboard, perhaps in the usually three month rainy season, or that family living in their car/van/RV on some out of the way road, that the do have White Privilege, which the do and usually means being treated as a human being. I also wonder about my nose.

            1. Aumua

              Thanks for taking the time to write all that out. You throw out so many assertions and loose numbers and make so many different points that it becomes overwhelming. I could maybe engage in an actual discussion on one point at a time, but otherwise it’s hard to know where to begin to respond. I possibly agree with some of it, and take issue with other parts.

              I will say this though: I’m someone who (in the past) has been homeless for years, and a drug addict, and lived on begging and charity and dumpster diving. Also working in communal situations. I’ve lived out of vehicles when I had them, or had some kind of camp otherwise. I’ve lived on the street too, in cities. I lived essentially without money, waay below the poverty line, for years. I did not have any job. I was dirty, my hair was dreadlocked and I got a lot of shit from normal society, and from the cops. I was undesirable by polite society’s standards. But in spite of all that, I know damn well that I got less shit and had an easier time because I’m a white man than someone who is a minority would. Even on that ground level of survival, I know that I had privilege.

              1. JB4049

                Overwhelming? Well, I am compressing four centuries of history into single “comment,” which can be a bit of a problem. :-)

      2. Carolinian

        You are entitled to feel that way. You just aren’t entitled to insist that I feel that way. And that’s what Taibbi is talking about. Cancel culture is about firing or silencing people who don’t toe the line. He gives several examples.

        1. periol

          Can’t you basically be fired for any or no reason just about everywhere in America? Hard for me to care about this cancel culture stuff when it’s been going in the other direction for a long, long time. I learned a long time ago bosses weren’t big fans of my left-leaning political tastes.

          1. Carolinian

            Well there used to be these things called unions. For academics there was tenure. Both are on the wane, obviously.

            And in Europe workers are protected from arbitrary firing.

        2. Aumua

          That’s a bit of a straw man there, because while you might be able to argue that “cancel culture” has happened to arise directly from the notion of “white fragilty” and/or the book itself, the book that Taibbi reviewed is not about cancel culture (a rather ill-defined term) nor does it directly advocate it AFAIK. It is about the “discomfort and defensiveness on the part of a white person when confronted by information about racial inequality and injustice.” aka white fragility.

          1. Carolinian

            You’re right. I haven’t read the book. But the premise you supply assumes that “white” is a category of thought and attitude rather than simple skin color and that is precisely the sort of racialist analysis that Taibbi is calling “dumb.” You can’t argue against a belief in stereotypes by promoting yet another stereotype–at least not if consistency means anything.

            1. Aumua

              Well, white is not a skin tone at all, and neither is black, and in fact there were no white people before sometime in the pre-revolution American colonies, when “whiteness” (the social construct) came into being. There were European people, which encompassed a rather wide range of skin tones.

              The notion of “white people” as a unified race came from the ruling class of that time as part of a tactic used to divide the working class into a marginally more elevated white class/race, and an enslaved black class/race. See: “The Invention of The White Race” by Theodore Allen for a meticulously documented description of how this happened.

      3. Mangeons les Riches

        You can’t dismiss someone who disagrees with you because of their identity and then rely on some concocted, phony academic term to legitimize your dismissal.
        She’s not identifying some important phenomenon. Are there racist people who bristle at being thought of as racist? Sure, we call them…most racists. Are there people who don’t believe DiAngelo’s worldview who would likewise be offended at the term? Yes, that would seem to be the logical response. If you don’t subscribe to all of Robin DiAngelo’s belief system, then it just becomes this recursive gaslighting that could only serve to make more people more angry.

        1. Aumua

          It is messy, no doubt, and there is that vicious circle aspect of it where it seems like we are hurtling toward some kind of ultimate polarization. As I have noted elsewhere I’m not sure there is any stopping it. The time is now to draw out the long time poison that has been hiding itself for hundreds of years.

          You can’t dismiss someone who disagrees with you because of their identity and then rely on some concocted, phony academic term to legitimize your dismissal.

          What do you mean you can’t? Of course you can. But aside that, I don’t believe that is what the author of the book is doing. Some other may be trying to abuse the idea of white fragility that way, I will grant you that.

          1. Mangeons les Riches

            I don’t believe we’re headed toward some “ultimate polarization” at all. Sure, there are still millions of people who believe in some flavor of racial supremacy. But they’re shrinking more and more with each generation. The effort should be to keep the spotlight on those people, rather than move the goalposts and define all white people as racists. Then racism stops really having any explanatory value; it’s just everything and nothing.
            And you can’t perform the sleight of hand the author is making if you want to have a legitimate argument. It’s exactly what she, who coined the term, is doing. If you disagree with her fundamental worldview that all white people are socialized to be racists, to her that’s you expressing your white fragility. It’s an easy get out of jail free card.

    5. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Not content with dividing people along every possible axis except *class*, this “movement” gets people to self-divide and self-flagellate along an axis they cannot possibly avoid or deny or bridge: the color of their epidermis. The objective is the complete dissolution of their identity, which makes it a simple matter to get them to submit to anarcho-tyranny. Of course real anarchy might be easier to survive because new forms of organization could emerge, for example based on shared local economic interests like food production, but these would threaten both the corporation and the state. This is lost however on the geniuses in the halls of Berkeley and Oxford, which is maybe why the name of Taibbi’s show is: Useful Idiots

      1. flora

        If they can get you asking the wrong questions they don’t have to worry about the answers. ;)

  9. cocomaan

    Taibbi’s piece was welcome. Academia is exporting philosophies with no solution that are only serving to reinforce the worst excesses of corporate structures in this country.

    The Me Too movement got “Baby It’s Cold Outside” banned, and took down some celebrities, but, in the end, didn’t do much else. I suppose you could say it energized suburban white women to go to the polls.

    The current racial justice movement is probably going to end the same way.

    1. Aumua

      “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is not banned. You can listen to probably every version of it ever made right now if you want to, with no barrier whatsoever to doing so. Same thing with “To Kill a Mockingbird”. One or a couple of schools removing it from their curriculum or whatever != BANNED. Keep your pants on.

  10. Big River Bandido

    Re: Triple Crisis

    I thought the name Joschka Fischer rang a bell…sure enough, Finance minister and Vice chancellor of Germany. Someone who likely has a lot of “skin” in the neoliberal “game”. Thus I was not at all surprised to read the following (which IMO undercuts the credibility of the entire piece):

    If US President Donald Trump were to win a second four-year term, the current global chaos would escalate dramatically, whereas a victory for his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, would at least bring greater stability.

    The hubris and total lack of self-awareness on the part of the neoliberal establishment would be hilarious were their failures not so catastrophic and the situation not so dystopian. Christ Almighty, who does Fischer think led us to this point?

  11. Wukchumni

    Cash was king, but that was then and this is now, and the only business completely devoted to long green, semollians and the like are the various baked shoppes, er marijuana stores.

    What a perfect case study of employees there, to see if filthy lucre is passing Covid currency, and is it chronic?

    1. Jack

      At least where I come from there’s a yuuuge number of barber (males only) shops taking cash only. In my three score and ten plus life I have never used anything but cash as payment for having my ears lowered.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “680 000 Swedes are currently ill. Of those, 260 000 have been ill for longer than 10 weeks”

    Something is off here. According to worldometers, there are a total of about 65,000 that have or have had Coronavirus for Sweden. The numbers on that tweet are off by an order of magnitude-

    1. rusti

      65,000 is a definite under-count of total infections because testing has been, until recently, largely limited. But the 680,000 people “currently suffering” number Novus reports is based on a web-survey methodology.

      The regional public health authority here is conducting random sampling (as Stockholm did) to estimate current active infection numbers, one of my good friends just got a letter requesting he go get a swab jammed down his throat and nose. I expect those numbers are more reliable, but I don’t think they capture people who don’t have an active infection who are suffering from complications from an earlier infection. One of my colleagues at the University is in her mid 20’s and has had severe complications with her cardiovascular system after catching it 3 months ago

      1. Otis B Driftwood

        How is that any different than anywhere else in the world? No country has tested all of its residents or even a significant percentage thereof.

        The Johns Hopkins data isn’t perfect, but it’s the best we have.

        And, on a related note, I remember looking askance at the data coming out of India several weeks ago. I’m sorry that I was right in suspecting something was off.

        So … maybe we’ll the same with Sweden in a few weeks. I hope not.

        1. rusti

          It wasn’t my intention to contend that other nations have correct counts, but it’s really only in the last few weeks or month that an otherwise healthy young person could even get tested here so I expect that 65,00 is more of an undercount than any of our neighbors, proportionally.

          Johns Hopkins is getting the data from Folkhälsomyndigheten.

      2. Jesper

        Here is a link to the actual report:
        https://novus.se/novus-coronastatus/

        For those who do not read Swedish, sorry, there is no translation – run it through some online translator.

        Possibly this part:

        1 125 000 (15%)
        Vuxna svenskar tror de smittats av Corona (både sjuka och tillfrisknade)

        Or this part:

        Idag är det 100 000 svenskar som tror de smittats av Covid-19 mellan november och januari. Långt innan det var känt att Covid-19 fanns i Sverige.

        Might be interesting to run through a translator

        1. Alex V

          I speak Swedish… First number is number of adults who believe they’ve had Coronavirus, both sick and recovered. Second is number of adults who believe they had it between November and January. All of these numbers are extrapolated from surveys, not testing.

        2. Alex V

          Interestingly, latest numbers from public health authority say 17% of Stockholm metro area (around 1/5 of Swedish population) has antibodies, extrapolated from physical testing. So somewhat correlated to believers, but given what is known about prevalence of asymptomatic cases perhaps also just coincidence.

        1. rusti

          I don’t know anything about public health, but it seems unlikely to me that web polls built on a voter opinion surveying platform asking people to self-diagnose for COVID-19 are likely to be especially accurate.

      3. Alex V

        The Novus survey seems to have asked if people have cold/flu/corona symptoms, not if they explicitly have corona. So it likely still captured people with “regular” illnesses. They didn’t post the questions as asked however so somewhat hard to know.

        Interestingly the government also gathers data on sickness during normal times as part of employment data. I’ve personally been contacted periodically by the central statistical bureau in this regard and they ask if you’ve been out sick in the previous week. Novus is however a private research firm.

        1. Alex V

          It seems the survey question is, roughly translated, “how would you evaluate your current health status?” with reply alternatives of:

          Recently sick but health again
          Mild cold
          Mildly sick
          Very sick (in bed)

          And up until April 2 they had chronically sick as a choice. So those people now answer with one of the other choices.

          As best as I can tell, nothing explicitly about COVID-19.

          Sample size is 1000-2000, seems to be a phone survey.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      It seemed way off to me as well, especially since the Indians are flagellating themselves for having a little over half a million. That’s probably undercounted by a large amount because of the limited ability to get accurate rural numbers. But still – if the percentages vs. population were the same, we’d be talking about India all day long.

  13. Wukchumni

    I’m a little worried for my community, in that the neat resort with about 15 rental cabins & restaurant not too far from our private cabins, has replaced about 40% of last year’s guests from overseas who stopped coming with Los Angelenos oh so happy to be away, and their business is good-even better than last year…

    …but all it takes is 1 asymptomatic little devil from the City of Angels, and the staff get it, and they infect 2 friends and so on

  14. fresno dan

    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/the-likely-reason-trump-wasnt-briefed-on-russias-taliban-plot

    The New York Times correctly reported on Friday that U.S. intelligence officials believe Russia’s GRU intelligence service paid the Taliban to attack coalition forces in Afghanistan. But even as he hasn’t refuted the reporting, the director of national intelligence has confirmed the White House’s statement that President Trump did not receive intelligence briefings on the matter.

    A few things are going on here.

    First, note that belief and some evidence do not alone make a presidential-level intelligence product.

    That said, the New York Times’s reporting is broadly accurate. I have moderate-high confidence that illuminating the GRU operation has been best enabled by very closely guarded CIA reporting. However, the other keystone Russia-collection agency, the NSA, appears to have been unable to corroborate the CIA’s reporting with their own signal collection efforts. This means that the United States currently lacks a direct operational link from the plot to the Kremlin (which would figure because communicating with Moscow would trigger attention from various U.S. intelligence capabilities) having been established. Whether the Taliban have actually carried out any attacks at the GRU’s specific behest is also unclear.
    ==============================================
    If you had told me 10 17 years ago (that Iraq thing) that I would find the Washington Times more measured, serious, and circumspect in its reporting than the NYT, I would have said that you have impaired metal faculties.
    Sure, I would like the Washington Times to have the perspective that if you engage in war, as the US is constantly doing, all sorts of bad things by both you and your enemy happen, so it is of dubious importance – kinda like Taliban Bullets kill people!!!!!!!!!!!! OH, the things our enemies stoop to!!!!!!!!!! But you get your news from the media you have, not the media you wish you had…
    There are a million VALID reasons to criticize Trump. We don’t need….Trumped up reasons.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Of course this whole thing about Russians putting a contract on American soldiers is a crock. That is why Nancy Pelosi is backing it as is the regular media. Would you believe that the media is working out exactly how many American soldiers have been killed for these “bounties?” Even the media in Oz is repeating this story as if it was a real story. Unbelievable. Next thing you know, the Democrats will demand a volley of missiles be launched against the Russian base in Syria as payback. But not to worry, your Rev Kev is on the job.

      After intense research on the internet, I have been able to get to the truth. I made contact with an American officer who has command of an Air Force bomber base that gave me the low down. There was no bounty offered by the Russians but something more nefarious instead. According to USAF General Jack D. Ripper, the Russians have been poisoning the water with flouride and he discovered this when he was not able to sexually perform once. He said-

      ‘Fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face…do you realize that in addition to fluoridating water, why, there are studies underway to fluoridate salt, flour, fruit juices, soup, sugar, milk… ice cream. Ice cream…..children’s ice cream. Nineteen hundred and forty-six. 1946. How does that coincide with your post-war Commie conspiracy, huh? It’s incredibly obvious, isn’t it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual. Certainly without any choice. That’s the way your hard-core Commie works. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.’

      Just before he terminated the conversation he assured me that he was now going to take action against those Russkies.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Hi Olga. About to go crash (1 am here) so will only answer briefly. Yes, it is absolutely true. It is trial by a compliant media and the Government is making this out to be all about the big bad Chinese out to get us. It is disgusting. Scotty from Marketing is trying to pick a fight with China to get in Trump’s good books and is saying that China is spying on us and has been hacking us. It is all part of an orchestrated campaign for weeks now.
          Gotta go now but will leave these two articles to show that we are not lily white with the Chinese either-

          https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1192847.shtml

          https://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-08/the-chinese-embassy-bugging-controversy/5079148

      1. The Historian

        I have no idea whether Russians are paying to kill American soldiers or not. After all, the US has done the exact same thing – remember Charlie Wilson’s War?

        But this also may be propaganda to prepare us to accept something like more involvement in Afghanistan or a cold war with Russia.

        I simply don’t know what is going on with this right now so instead of jumping to conclusions, I am waiting for the next shoe to drop.

        1. barefoot charley

          It may just be a stab at second life for Russiagate, to get the flagging faithful through the election season. There’s nothing else to believe in, and Joe can stay in the victory-basement where he belongs.

        2. periol

          Frankly, I don’t care if there is a bounty on US soldiers. It’s called war, and we shouldn’t be there anyways.

        3. MLTPB

          That’s a reasonable position.

          It may seem familiar with the past, but each situation can be looked on its own.

      2. fresno dan

        The Rev Kev
        June 29, 2020 at 10:42 am

        I think a dispassionate analysis shows that we may have to go all the way and nuke the russkies – how else do a free people respond to the provocations of bounties and water fluoridation? I know it sounds horrific, but I think we have to weigh our options. Fortunately, an assessment has already been done:

        Dr. Strangelove: I would not rule out the chance to preserve a nucleus of human specimens. It would be quite easy…heh, heh…at the bottom of ah…some of our deeper mine shafts. Radioactivity would never penetrate a mine some thousands of feet deep, and in a matter of weeks, sufficient improvements in dwelling space could easily be provided.
        Muffley: How long would you have to stay down there?
        Dr. Strangelove: Well let’s see now ah…cobalt thorium G….Radioactive half-life of uh,…I would think that uh… possibly uh… one hundred years.
        Muffley: You mean, people could actually stay down there for a hundred years?
        Dr. Strangelove: It would not be difficult, Mein Führer! Nuclear reactors could, heh…I’m sorry, Mr. President. Nuclear reactors could provide power almost indefinitely. Greenhouses could maintain plant life. Animals could be bred and slaughtered. A quick survey would have to be made of all the available mine sites in the country, but I would guess that dwelling space for several hundred thousands of our people could easily be provided.
        Muffley: Well, I, I would hate to have to decide…who stays up and…who goes down.
        Dr. Strangelove: Well, that would not be necessary, Mr. President. It could easily be accomplished with a computer. And a computer could be set and programmed to accept factors from youth, health, sexual fertility, intelligence, and a cross-section of necessary skills. Of course, it would be absolutely vital that our top government and military men be included to foster and impart the required principles of leadership and tradition. Naturally, they would breed prodigiously, eh? There would be much time, and little to do. Ha, ha. But ah, with the proper breeding techniques and a ratio of say, ten females to each male, I would guess that they could then work their way back to the present Gross National Product within say, twenty years.
        ======================================
        and I have to say, the breeding ratio intrigues me…uh, to get back to nominal GDP

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      I’m putting this in the “Any stick to beat a dog during an election season when one of the two candidates needs to hide in his basement because he can’t complete a sentence” category.

      Members of the military should “never, never, never face a threat like this, with their commander-in-chief turning a blind eye to a foreign power, putting a bounty on their heads. If I’m president, this and so many other abuses will not stand.”

      If he’s elected, Biden said, “Vladimir Putin will be confronted and we’ll impose serious costs on Russia.”

      Oh, goody. It’s Corn Pop all over again.

      https://gulfnews.com/world/americas/biden-slams-trump-for-inaction-after-russian-bounty-report-1.1593347210284

      1. Lambert Strether

        Another unnamed source — have there been any? — but with a different story:

    3. Bill Smith

      Having known a person who spent a year as one of the editors of the PDB, I heard some (summarized) stories about the lobbying that went into getting something into it.

      All the different agencies, in effect, ‘compete’ to get into that document. It gives them exposure which they believe is beneficial at budget time.

      The editors, would try to shift though some of that to figure out what to include and what not to include. One of the constraints was not to make the document (even now that it is on a tablet) too long.

      I later read this:

      “The President’s Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America’s Presidents” by David Priess

    4. curlydan

      Two key things to note in the original NYT piece (buried deep in the article of course) were that only 4 U.S. troops were killed in combat so far in 2020 and there have been no Taliban attacks on U.S. positions since February. The “war” is hopefully winding down, and yet here are so many wanting to pump it up again and turn up the rage meter.

  15. CanChemist

    Meanwhile in Ontario, Canada, where most of the deaths were in long term care homes, the Ford government is ramming through an even more comprehensive deregulation of the system, Bill 175.
    https://www.rankandfile.ca/ford-government-moving-ahead-with-home-care-privatization-bill/

    ““The Super Agency (Ontario Health) is governed by a Board that is not subject to the Ontario public service legislation regarding conflict of interest and includes an array of pro-privatization business people, bankers and corporate executives, has no regulations for public input, open board meetings, public access to information and even less democratic protections than the LHINs,” reads the Health Coalition’s analysis of Bill 175.

    Ontario Health’s Board of Directors includes Shelly Jamieson, who was previously the executive director of the Ontario Long-Term Care Association, the lobby group that mainly represents for-profit nursing homes.”

    On the US situation, the Guardian had an article this weekend that really hit the crisis home.
    “‘Like leaning into a left hook’: coronavirus calamity unfolds across divided US ”
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/27/coronavirus-cases-us-trump-politics-masks

    “Then a black resident stood up. Six of his relatives had died from Covid-19. His brother was on a ventilator. “This is not about masks,” he said. “The question on the table is, ‘Do black lives matter?’ I lost six of my family to Covid. How would it feel if it was your family?”

    If a pandemic comes through, we do not throw our constitutional rights out the window
    Brantley Lyons, councilman

    The council debated for two hours. White council members asked if young children could get carbon monoxide poisoning from masks – no, the doctors firmly told them – and spoke portentously about individual rights.

    “At the end of the day,” said councilman Brantley Lyons, “if a pandemic comes through, we do not throw our constitutional rights out the window.”

    When the vote was called, it divided on largely racial lines. Black members voted for masks, in order to prevent more families losing six loved ones. White members voted against masks, to preserve the fundamental right not to attach a cloth to your face.

    In a 4-4 tie, the ordinance failed. As he left the chamber, Dr Saliski uttered just one word: “Unbelievable.””

    1. Synoia

      If a pandemic comes through, we do not throw our constitutional rights out the window…

      Constitutionals Rights end when the infection droplets leave your face.

      Carry a Gun but unprovoked shooting me is NOT protected by your Constitutional Rights.

      Keep your microbes to yourself.

  16. Carolinian

    Too many great lines to quote in Taibbi’s latest but here’s a summer upper

    White Fragility, which may be the dumbest book ever written. It makes The Art of the Deal read like Anna Karenina.

    Some of us had begun to worry about the long wait after Taibbi’s last column but looks like he’s still around and still not mincing words. Carlson–whatever one thinks of him–has taken up the same line which is that the intellectual underpinnings of cancel culture are featherweight at best. Censorship and the impulse to erase history are the desire of those whose arguments are weak.

    1. Aumua

      Really? As much as Taibbi might say some things I agree with in his article, it’s lines like that that lead me to believe he’s not seeing things clearly. He’s actually not saying anything at all there, just hurling sh*t. Why is he so offended, and/or defensive?

      1. Carolinian

        Oh I’d say he goes on to make his case that the book is “dumb.” Dumbest ever? Was Goldman Sachs really a blood funnel? Words are weapons and this is indeed a battle of ideas.

  17. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: On “White Fragility’ Matt Taibbi (UserFriendly)

    At a time of catastrophe and national despair, when conservative nationalism is on the rise and violent confrontation on the streets is becoming commonplace, it’s extremely suspicious that the books politicians, the press, university administrators, and corporate consultants alike are asking us to read are urging us to put race even more at the center of our identities, and fetishize the unbridgeable nature of our differences……It’s almost like someone thinks there’s a benefit to keeping people divided.

    Racial division as a means of distributing the electorate between the two political parties has been a “strategy” for decades. Despite being heralded as a triumph, obama’s election represented a crack in the edifice–blacks and whites voted for a black man who at least “promised” economic deliverance.

    In 2016, the electorate again chose the outlier candidate based on economic considerations, legitimately or not. The reliable system of power distribution was threatened again.

    This year biden “won” the nomination based on race in South Carolina. He has no other policies, and hiding from voters is his campaign strategy. The “racial divide” needed to be reignited in order to create the only problem voters could delude themselves into thinking he could “solve.” And so it is happening.

    An awful lot of damage is being done to the country right now in an effort to reestablish long-standing political power relationships based on race, and precluding any need to address the REAL source of the nation’s increasing anger–economics.

  18. John Mc

    Just read Taibbi’s white fragility piece. Very thought provoking. It reminded me of a video I’d seen recently of a lecture by Philip Mirowski (co-author of the book The Road to Mt Pelerin).

    The lecture was called “Hell is Truth Learned Too Late” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBB4POvcH18 )

    Central points of the 1hr46min Mirowski lecture include: a fundamental misreading of the opposition by the left, the use of fog-distraction-circus as a weapon against truth/expertise, and the use of double truths for different populations that are signals to other more difficult to sell ideas — fits well with Taibbi’s hate inc and recent articles.

    Cheers

    1. Toledo

      The whole idea of white privilege is horseshit. Tell that to a coal miner in Appalachia or a light skinned Ecuadorian dishwasher in Chicago.

      If whites are a unified group, are fragile and must fix themselves to become anti-racists,
      then why aren’t blacks a unified group that should fix themselves with their inherent strength?

      This whole thing could seriously backfire on the CMs that are promoting this movement:
      White people might start self-identifying as that first, and begin to vote and only adhere to policies that promote their own interests over that of all Americans, or the nation.

      1. Aumua

        White people might start self-identifying as that first, and begin to vote and only adhere to policies that promote their own interests over that of all Americans, or the nation.

        What do you mean they might start doing that? They definitely are doing it, and have been throughout American history.

        I do sometimes think we’re in a kind of finger trap, where nascent fascist/white nationalist movements are being fed by and also feeding this focus on racial oppression. But I don’t know if there’s anything we can do to avoid it. Ready or not, the time has come for us to look at this and address it, squarely. So if you still got a problem with that then get ready for an even bumpier ride, cause it’s not going away.

      1. John Mc

        Yes, this paper does cover it. The video provides for some unique explanation at crucial places… Well done.

        1. hunkerdown

          Indeed, and thanks for pointing that keynote out so I could find text. It also validates my belief that cancel culture, by which I mean forcibly ejecting neoliberal voices and lies from the discourse is an important solution to neoliberal noise. #CancelNeoliberalism

          (I have quiet dreams that militant Christians can be gotten together to show that everything the GOP is telling them is literally Mammon worship and that they will have set themselves in opposition to the Almighty if they don’t learn proper economics quickly. Oh, and then the marches into the gated communities, yessss…)

    2. Pelham

      Thanks much for that link!

      I like Taibbi’s piece but, holy cow, he’s running by far the biggest risk yet of being canceled. I’m sure he’s aware of this. The fragility book, however, is just the most egregious example of the slushy thinking behind the cancel culture. I see it in part as the so-called progressive wing of the Democratic Party substituting race, race, race for the neoliberal wing’s Russia, Russia, Russia.

      Although it appears the Russia hobby horse is being reassembled and rekitted in the form of evidence-free reports that Putin put a bounty on US troops. BTW, I see this Lincoln Project outfit apparently had a slick TV ad all ready to go based on the NYT story. Isn’t that a bit suspicious?

  19. fresno dan

    https://www.businessinsider.com/mike-pence-dallas-megachurch-choir-no-masks-coronavirus-spike-texas-2020-6

    A choir of more than 100 people performed for Vice President Mike Pence without face masks on Sunday at a megachurch in Dallas, Texas, CNN reported.

    Footage of the “Celebrate Freedom” event at the First Baptist Church, where Pence also gave a speech, showed the choir spaced around two feet apart as they performed several songs at a distance from the audience.
    ============================================
    Well, this will add to the data base of aerosol transmission of covid.
    In further news, some political entities have suggested that jumping off bridges without wearing a bungee cord is fine…

    1. Tvc15

      “Celebrate Freedom”, that’s really funny. Add this to the other Orwellian named looting and surveillance legislation like the CARES Act, Patriot Act, and of course the ironic “Defense” budget.

    2. Geo

      My mood has been like a pendulum lately. Reports like this make it swing wildly to the nihilistic side. Kinda want them to do more of these events.

      Maybe if we’re lucky their virtue-signaling to Trump will get them raptured. How soon before they start chanting “¡Viva la Muerte!”?

      Erich Fromm defined evil as, “life turning against itself.” These acts of defiance to public health are pure evil. Hypocritically, now I find myself losing a sense of value for their lives so I guess I’ve become evil too now.

      1. jr

        “so I guess I’ve become evil too now.”

        +1

        I have felt this way a lot lately as well. When I see video of some moron driving around with his sisters panties on his face flipping COVID the bird or a sidewalk seating cafe with drunken twits eschewing masks as yet another way of broadcasting their privilege to the world, I start channeling Stalin and dreaming of roundups and relocations to off coast islands…

        I think Vonnegut’s “Mother Night” made a related point. A good man fighting the good fight by engaging in evil discovers he has….done evil. In other words, in innumerable ways and even in the good, evil begets evil.

        By the way, if you want to see Nick Nolte in a role other than an alcoholic, abusive cop, check out the film adaptation. It’s quite good. It has a scene where Nolte’s character, Campbell, literally encounters his maker….I don’t usually approve of such cinematic stunts but it’s actually really powerful.

        1. periol

          I’m not a Christian but I do like to remember the story of Jesus clearing the temple with whips. There is such a thing as righteous anger.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        I’ve had the same problem.
        since at least the aftermath of 9-11, and watching the more or less decent people around here turn into crazy zombies, I’ve struggled with misanthropy…me, a Humanist, dyed in the wool!
        the politicisation of mask wearing, and the bifurcated reality at large in the world again…as well as the almost impossible to defend against Mess that Tiabbi talks about….has that misanthropy creeping back in, again.
        I hate it…and I hate hating those people.
        I can be pretty scary looking, so no one has confronted me about my mask, yet…but the glares are there,lol.
        and one of the craziest parts of this, is that 99% of the people I’ve run across in real life for the past 20+ years have been self-professing Christians…most often with outward signs of this profession…be it a tshirt, a cross, or a WWJD bracelet…and in fact, during my big, long virtual field study of the Right, the most distressing thing was learning about how that religion had been so utterly perverted by the Righty Counterrevolutionary Machine.
        It’s amazing, to me.
        I’m not a christian…but find repeatedly that I am a better “christian” than most of the actual Christians I know,lol.
        that things like trump’s tulsa riot/superspreader event for patriotism made me not-quite, but almost ,wish that they would infect themselves and remove themselves from the polity is a grievous blow to my identification as a Humanist.
        self righteous morons coughing on people on purpose?
        To make a pseudopolitical point?
        Geez!

        1. Laughingsong

          Agreed Amfortas, I don’t like feeling that way, it feels like being dragged down into a pit, when I would rather be strong enough to drag them out, and then get angry with myself for not being strong enough.

          I will say that there are still many excellent Christians out there… they unfortunately don’t have the megaphone that the questionable ones do. But I used to regularly attend an annual peace conference in Kildare Town, and I have met them- religious that are understated but very involved in doing good works around the world, sometimes in dangerous places. I try to keep them in mind.

          1. periol

            I think Christians these day are like cops, at least in America.

            There might be good ones, but it’s pretty hard to see them through the haze. And there are so many bad ones, to be honest, it colors everyone with a bad brush. In my personal opinion, some of the worst people in the entire world call themselves “Christians” (and people in their churches do as well). I have found things bad enough that now I deliberately avoid businesses that advertise themselves as Christian (fish or cross in their signage), because I have found anecdotally those businesses are more likely to try to cheat me.

            As a former Christian who never abandoned spirituality, I decided change from within was impossible and left the church a long time ago. Anytime I meet someone who tells me they are a Christian, I tend to shy away, same as I do anytime I see a cop. I’d need to see some proof that they’re one of the very few “good ones”.

            1. MT_Bill

              Re-read what you wrote and replace “christian” with some other identity and see how it sounds. Try a few: Muslim, Jew, black, irish, latino, etc.

              Sigh.

              1. periol

                Pretty hard to be a former black, former irish, former latino. I’m not the only formerly religious person to decry the religion they once believed was the way.

                You can sigh all you want, but people who profess to be Christians aren’t a race, and they are a major part of the reason the country is in the state it’s in. I wish the few people who could actually look Jesus in the eye weren’t hidden in the weeds.

        2. jr

          I’ve met maybe 10 people in my life who claimed to be a Christian and actively tried to live life accordingly. No doubt there are many more but that’s my experience.

          It’s not easy, Im sure. The vast majority of self identified Christians hadn’t seemed to put a lot of thought or effort into it except when it was time to lecture a young atheist about why he should care about this thing they never really seemed to care too much about. My views on such things have expanded considerably since then and I live in a locale where no one gives a rolling donut about one’s religious beliefs so I don’t hear the preachifying as much as I used to.

          1. Aumua

            Back when I was a neo-hippy, hitchhiking around the country, I noticed that there were several general categories of people who would pick up someone hiking on the Interstate. One of them was what I liked to call “real Christians”. They would maybe witness a little bit to you, but not really pushy. I think they were mostly motivated by simply helping someone along their way, and to me that was a powerful testament in itself. I appreciated those rides more than some of the other rides I got, let me tell ya.

            1. jr

              Yes, I got a similar sense from practicing Christians I’ve met. A kind of friendly introduction to themselves and their faith, a usually pleasant conversation, and when parting a request to take a look at the Bible sometime. There was no agenda apparent and I never felt leaned on.

              Those were the Protestants, the cool Catholics I knew growing up were the younger nuns who taught in my school. They talked about Jesus as joy and acceptance whereas the older ones were of a grimmer cast of mind. The priests were aloof as I remember.

              One elderly nun stands out though in my memory, she was the organist for the parish church. She was a magnificent organist and would ascend into rapture as she played, I mean her face was transformed. The music damn near lifted the building from the ground. She was always happy and smiling and obviously only lived in this world part time…

        3. hunkerdown

          Just remember that neoliberals aren’t human and do not feel pain, and the next few years will be much easier.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      Not specifically aimed at you, fresno, but, in general……

      No one who did not resoundingly denounce the George Floyd “mass gatherings” for their covid-disseminating potential has any credibility on this issue, and they should just STFU.

      Covid containing “droplets” are covid containing “droplets,” regardless of the perceived righteousness of the cause for which they are expelled.

      To quote the only sentence joe biden can reliably complete, “Period.”

  20. Geo

    “Experts are calling for a 9/11-style commission on U.S. coronavirus response.”

    Oh good. Our response to 9/11 was rational, thoughtful, and productive. Can’t wait for Two decades from now when Dems will to talk about what a great leader Trump was during this time and how law-abiding he was. “Look forward, not back!”

    There’s always been conspiracy theories but the 9/11 commission and our government response to that attack is, in my opinion, where any faith in the news went down the toilet. Since then it’s impossible to have any major event that a quarter of the country doesn’t think was a false flag. You don’t have to be a “truther” to know that whole charade of a response was manufactured to start wars, cover-up failures, and crush civil liberties.

    1. Bernalkid

      Qualifications for the commission members should be: at least 75-80 years old, heavily botoxed, no grey hair, net worth $100mm plus, traveled in private jets and limos exclusively for the past 20 years. It must mirror the nation, ie the gerontocracy.

  21. jr

    Taibbi on point as usual:

    “The downside, which we’re already seeing, is that organizations everywhere will embrace powerful new tools for solving professional disputes, through a never-ending purge.”

    I may have an Acme Co. anvil drop on my head from the blue for even writing this but Tucker Carlson made a related point in one of his rants the YouTube algo sends me too after listening to Dore or Useful Idiots. He said the ascending ID pol “Left”, from his lips a disparagement that is simultaneously correct and way off base, will increasingly use racial politics as a cudgel to destroy political enemies and infiltrate bases of power with Manichean purity tests etc. I think, in parallel to Taibbis point of endless HR purges, he’s right.

    Now I have to rinse my mouth out with soap…

    1. Toshiro_Mifune

      He said the ascending ID pol “Left”, from his lips a disparagement that is simultaneously correct and way off base, will increasingly use racial politics as a cudgel to destroy political enemies and infiltrate bases of power with Manichean purity tests etc.

      Well, he is correct about that. I’ve said before that I view it as a rebirth of the doctrine of Original Sin, with the same ‘guilt as a means of control’ purpose.

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        But original sin, guilt and penance (reparations) with no redemption and no absolution, only endless scornful hectoring, is going to attract how many converts again?

        I also quite liked Sam Kriss’ take on Robin diAngelis, our “Witch Fynder Generall”:

        Imagine a devoted cultist of Tengrism, who sometimes gets invited by company bosses to harangue the workforce on how the universe is created by a pure snow-white goose flying over an endless ocean, and how if you don’t make the appropriate ritual honks to this cosmic goose you’re failing in your moral duty.

        But every time she gives this spiel, she always gets the same questions. Exactly how big is this goose? Surely the goose must have to land sometimes? Geese hatch in litters – what happened to the other goslings?

        Something must be wrong with these people. Why don’t they just accept the doctrine? Why do they hate the goose? We need a name for their sickness. Call it Goose Reluctance, and next time someone doesn’t jump to attention whenever you speak, you’ll know why.

        Of course, the comparison is unfair; ideas about eternal geese are beautiful, and DiAngelo’s are not. But the structure is the same. Could it be that Robin DiAngelo is a poor communicator selling a heap of worthless abstractions? No, it’s the workers who are wrong.

        1. Geof

          original sin, guilt and penance (reparations) with no redemption and no absolution, only endless scornful talk is going to attract how many converts again?

          Massachusetts was settled by Calvinists after all. So potentially quite a few.

          The Calvinists believed that a small elect of believers were predestined for evil, while the vast majority were doomed to eternal damnation. You could do nothing to influence God, so you deserved no credit for your salvation. Nevertheless you should work tirelessly at purifying yourself and the world in order to show that you were one of the elect. Though that was never certain. They literally dragged their children to empty graves, forcing them to stare in and imagine an eternity in Hell. And they believed in grace, a personal transformative revelation from God. They were woke.

          The Calvinists were also remarkably egalitarian, treating equally pretty much equally before the law, and possessed a strong community spirit. The highly valued social harmony, and punished deviance harshly, even for the time (I wonder whether this is a reason for America’s harsh justice system). In one case, a man was crushed to death by stones for refusing to testify in court. In another, neighbours sent a husband to court, where he was convicted, for yelling at his wife, even though the wife did not want him charged.

          These people were key founders of the republic. They were obsessed with education and created many of the first American universities – among them especially Ivy League schools that are most passionate about social justice. Deriving mainly from the old Danelaw region, many had Scandinavian ancestors (Scaninavia being another centre of social justice). And they influence American values today, right down to the taste for dapper (“sadd”) colours of clothing in New England.

          I do not understand why Godless social justice Calvinism attracts converts, but I do not doubt that it can.

        2. Burns

          The aspect of converts and endless scornful hectoring is exactly what I was getting at in my Above comment about the article. This is simply not how human psychology works when you want to change behavior.

        3. hunkerdown

          It’s not about attracting flock. It’s about attracting lords and making sure the flock stays subordinate.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        or John Calvin and Torquemada’s love child.

        Thankfully, this phenomenon hasn’t made it way out here, yet…just good old fashioned righty pseudochristian morality policing every now and again(as in “spiritual warfare” against “dominions and principalities”…Hagee material…and not very popular out this way).
        of course, we have no visible Democrats(they’re still in hiding in their hill forts), no academics, and most who’ve been to college got an ag or mech or tech or business-related degree.
        there’s also only 2 Black People…one, a midnight plumber and honorary redneck(friend of mine)…the other, a gay educated guy.
        The Mexican American population is around 40% or so, and has just sort of organically become a part of the whole in the last 20 years(as i’ve elucidated many times), due to intermarriage and working and schooling and playing football together…exposure is the cure for racial animus!
        there is a lingering racial animus, regarding “the Messkins”, but it’s noticeably fading, and only really erupts at the Catholic Church any more, because of a handful of old white a$$h)les who are vocal enough with the Bishop to still have an influence…these are, thankfully, on their way to their reward. Their kids and grandkids are embarrassed by them.

        The one BLM protest was an instance of a couple of the Hillfort Dems coming down among the mundane…only people who noticed the performance were the small cadre of hard core teabilly types with FB pages(they were worried about antifa)

        even with the current politicisation of Masks(which looks like an attempt to engineer a tea party type surge of interest in GOP politics), I really don’t think this woke robbespierre -ism would be tolerated here…runs so counter to the communitarian spirit of the place, for all it’s flaws and shortcomings.

        1. Off The Street

          To a non-Texan, Hillfort could be either a local place or some Clintonista bugout bunker spot, or maybe both.

          Is it a defensible position, with a water supply and an airstrip?

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            our local dems generally live in a hill top ranchion(“ranch-mansion”), somewhere on their old settler family’s spread.
            last dem meeting i was invited to, for Obama’s second inauguration, was in a well appointed house with a waterfall on the Rich Hill west of town…huge window looking down towards the Barrio,
            when they finally got around to asking me what i thought, i pointed out that window, and down at the Barrio(where i lived at the time), “I think we oughtta get down off this hill and go down there and cook cabrito and get a few kegs and register folks to vote”
            I haven’t been invited to a local demparty function since.
            They’ll fly off to Ohio to campaign for Hillary, but won’t deign to rub elbows with the poor and downtrodden(and brown) a stone’s throw away….another common feature is the utter terror at Uncle Billy Ed discovering that they’re pinko commies(as if he didn’t know,lol)
            Ergo, Hillfort.

            (if you can’t tell, i have little use for our local dems, even though i like some of them personally)

      1. Off The Street

        We can win-win it.
        Your program needs a budget.
        My kid needs a job, and I need a donation.
        Offshore, of course.

            1. newcatty

              In the spirit of inclusiveness…back to the CIinton/Obama cabal.

              There’s a place in Hell
              For women who don’t vote
              For Hillary or for the woman
              On Biden’s ticket

              She’s got a ticket to riiiide. And she don’t care

    2. Watt4Bob

      I’ve personally witnessed members of the PMC, (non-profit board members), using the #metoo thing to replace a popular head, and founder of a successful non-profit with one of their cronies.

      One of the prime movers in this despicable action was a board member, and had been a ‘close friend‘ of the ousted leader, who had, incidentally, provided this woman and her young child shelter on the organization’s property for six months in the aftermath of her husbands death. This woman saw it as a opportunity to take the man’s place. Among other actions, she used her position on a public university faculty to turn many naive students into a vociferous mob.

      In the end, she didn’t get the position because it was already intended to go to a friend of the board chairwoman. This woman subsequently retired and left town.

      The man’s behavior that resulted in his ouster was an example of poor judgement, but it did not include taking advantage of his position, or coertion, and did not negatively impacting the alleged ‘victim’ beyond her temporary discomfort.

      Basically, he made a young woman uncomfortable, she told him so, he immediately apologized.

      He notified the board of the incident, and on his own accord talked to the young woman’s father.

      There were no threats of legal action, there was no claim of harm on the part of the ‘victim’, but the self-confessed mistake was enough to start the ball rolling, a man’s reputation was destroyed, the fruit of his life’s work was taken from him, and the organization he built is fast devolving into a pale shadow of its former existence.

      I know of two other board-instigated take-overs, of even more substantial organizations, where the founder was ousted and the replacement led the organization into bankruptcy.

      I believe that in all three cases, the founder chose the board members themselves.

      America’s corporate culture, where these board members come from is a nest of vipers if you ask me.

      1. flora

        I saw the same thing happen 3 times in 3 separate volunteer organizations in my town over the past 10 years, a uni town if that makes any difference. All 3 cases were of someone wanting to pad their resume by ousting the current head and taking their place. All 3 cases resulted in the organizations going downhill once the resume-padders took over. These were once great and vital, longtime (20+ years) community volunteer organizations built by people more interested in the work to be done than the credit to garner. Two of the organizations have since folded. The resume-padders built nothing but their resumes. (One of them turned to be embezzling from the organization. )

        1. jr

          Same in the non profits in Philly, the venerable settlement houses etc. were gutted by grifters and careerists seeking heartwarming material to include in their applications for the MBAs that often followed the BAs in social work or education. The new ones that’s popped up were pure grift: warehousing students, inflating numbers, and dumping the utterly alienated students onto the poorly paid, bewildered teachers who thought they were getting paid to make a difference.

          I taught to an empty classroom for three months, dutifully filling out lesson plans and logging zero attendance. Turned out the program in Harrisburg had allocated millions to Philly to spread the word of the program via television and radio, according to a fellow teachers brother who worked for the city the money was detoured to pay other bills. The higher ups suddenly began talking about “neighborhood outreach”, teachers walking through some of the hardest ghettoes in Philly knocking on doors asking people if they were interested in getting a GED. People quit left and right, the program straggled on aimlessly for another year then collapsed. Two years later the settlement house was rocked with embezzlement scandals, audits. This was 15 years ago, I just checked and they’re back, poverty pimpin’…

    3. Mangeons les Riches

      As much as I loathe Tucker Carlson, I don’t believe he goes far enough with this take. Perhaps he may be referring to the more mainstream ID pols – the kind that voted for Hilldog or want a VP selection based solely on ID characteristics – but the more strident faction are not wrong for the right reason, doe-eyed partisans, their beliefs are actually nefarious.
      Making no excuse for his dalliance with the alt-right, the Evergreen State/Bret Weinstein affair is fairly representative of what ID politics is like on college campuses. There is no clearer example of the disdain for civility, or any room for disagreement, that is embedded in their ideology than the videos where faculty members are shouted down without any provocation who then capitulate almost immediately for fear of being considered racist. It’s totalitarianism. Plain and simple.

  22. Matthew G. Saroff

    Even if you do not agree with Taibbi, his negative reviews of a book are a joy to behold. (I agree with his basic thesis).

    No one, except perhaps Rex Reed, give such an enjoyable negative review.

    This is great writing.

    1. Duke of Prunes

      I keep seeing sane and reasonable publications from evms. Sometimes they contradict the CDC/WHO (e.g. they were recommending hydroxychloroquine and zinc pretty early on, also early on the steroid use). I had never heard of them prior. Good for them.

    2. juno mas

      Interesting link. However, the minerals (Zinc, Vit. C & D, etc.) do not have to be taken as supplements. These (prophylactic) elements can be part of a healthy diet. Zinc is found in meat, shellfish, nuts, etc.. Vit. C in oranges, strawberries, bell peppers, chili peppers. And, of course, Vit. D is created by the human body with sun exposure (and added to fortified milk).

      The dosages in the prophylaxis list seem a bit high (Zink at 75-100 mg is well above the RMD of 7-8 mg. And 500 mg of Vit C would require a good helping of strawberries in the morning, a couple oranges at lunch, and some kale in the dinner salad.

      I would add a regular dose of exercise (preferably strength training; not in a gym) to my daily diet to maintain a vibrant immune system to help ward off Covid-19. (Disclaimer: I’m no doctor, nutritionist, or physical therapist.)

      1. MLTPB

        The one I’m taking for zinc has only 7 mg.

        Should I look for something with more zinc?

    3. WhoaMolly

      Thanks MT_Bill. I’ve ordered the supplements. I also forwarded the PDF to several family members.

      The recommendations seem sensible to me. From a quick review of EVMS, they appear to be a reasonable, conservative source of information.

      On a personal note… I spent some time in Norfolk and Virginia beach a while back and liked the area a lot. My completely irrational good feeling about Norfolk probably influenced my decision to trust EVMS recommendations.

  23. Wukchumni

    A friend who knows somebody that works for the NPS came back from a longer 10 day backpack and was dismayed by how much trash he encountered along the way on the PCT, around 50 pounds worth that he hiked to a backcountry ranger station.

    This is very unusual behavior, i’d guess in 35 years of walking in Sequoia-Kings Canyon i’ve brought out enough litter* to fill a full backpack, maybe not even that much. It had always been a point of pride to bring out what you brought in.

    Why the sudden change of behavior among those that more likely lean left politically?

    Sticking it to the rules?

    *this year’s prize was a string of a dozen metallic balloons that had drifted into the Garfield Grove of Giant Sequoias, most of which still had air in them, and many loud pops latter fit easily into my pack.

    They didn’t even have a message on them like ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY’ or anything, more of a strength by numbers gig in letting them drift into the High Sierra.

    1. RMO

      I doubt the mylar balloons were packed into the park. They can break away from their tether and they are remarkable resilient and able to hold on to their helium for a really long time. In that time they can be blown pretty far. I’ve seen them being blowed along by the wind at four or five thousand feet over some pretty inaccessible terrain in the coast mountains here in BC when I’ve been glider flying. It’s amazing how strange their apparent motion is when sighted from another aircraft – at first glance I think I’ve finally spotted a flying saucer!

      As for the increase in rubbish that has undoubtedly been carried in – I don’t have a clue. Could it be just from a total increase in visitors? Maybe people new to the world of hiking haven’t had anyone teach them the “if you bring it in full, you can damn well bring the container out empty” lesson? I hesitate to say people are just getting more selfish. Maybe the “stick it to the rules” thing really is it?

      1. newcatty

        RMO…Well I have read, or heard, that UFOs can cloak or shape shift. Mylar balloons would be a clever disguise! 😉

  24. Wukchumni

    …didja hear about the protest group calling for ‘Wide Supremacy’, who were quite strident in their demand for all you can eat buffets to come back

  25. John Anthony La Pietra

    Money quote IMO from the Project Syndicate “triple crisis” article:

    If US President Donald Trump were to win a second four-year term, the current global chaos would escalate dramatically, whereas a victory for his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, would at least bring greater stability.

    Stability. That’s it, right there. That’s the real case for Mr. “Nothing Will Fundamentally Change”. It even gives us a truth-in-advertising slogan:

    Joe Biden. Because crisis can be harder to steer.

      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        Well, to be fair, they said it. OTOH, I have gotten a little enjoyment from KAOS now and again — even if they were the bad guys.

        OTTH, there was that one episode centered around a shadowy organization called Assassins, Bullies, & Cutthroats. That’s right, ABC — a third spy network! (Shows how old I am!)

  26. IMOR

    9/11 style commission on covid19
    So many outlets, ‘reporters’, pundits really and truly ARE just troll-ing us 24/7 now… .
    That commission agreed to limit its own access and powers as aprecondition, and even in a still largely paper era accepted fake documentation, further elided already redacted documents, and refused to report what it actually learned. It made the Iran/Contra panels look good.
    Greeaaat model.

  27. Wukchumni

    New TV Show:

    Who WantsTo Be A Thousandaire?

    Contestants will do anything for another $1200, watch their zany antics living la vida top ramen, alms for the poor, else the arms do pour.

  28. Ignacio

    RE: Into the fog: How Britain lost track of the coronavirus Reuters

    I personally have to feel reassured by this article that shows Reuters used the same methodology I used to analyse how Covid-19 spiralled out of control at NC. From reports of casualties they go back to estimate how many infections were occuring in the early days of the epidemic in the UK. There are small differences as they try to track numbers of infected, not contagions, so they do not account for the incubation period and their estimate for mortality in the UK is 1% and not the 1.3% I used for Spain.

    Their study shows how the head of the Public Health England (PHE), Duncan Selbie, was well out of touch of what was really happening in the early days of February, when he was claiming full control of the epidemic, while the disease was freely spreading unnoticed. Later on, he not only fails to recognize the failures but praises himself and the PHE for the many lives saved, so we can apply to Mr. Selbie the phrase that Lambert cites in the Water Cooler from Talleyrand.

    1. Clive

      The big UK COVID-19 scandal is care homes. c. 40% of COVID-19 deaths in the UK were in care home settings https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsregisteredweeklyinenglandandwalesprovisional/weekending12june2020 (sorry, a rather long report, it’s in Fig. 7).

      Of course, some COVID-19 deaths in care homes were probably unavoidable. But a significant proportion were almost certainly as a result of poor care sector worker PPE standards and dumping of COVID-19 patents in an effort to avoid “bed blocking” in hospitals.

      My grandfather died of COVID-19 in his care home. I’ve been struggling to get any information out of the provider of the sheltered accommodation where he lived. It was owned by a local authority rather than a private operator so you’d think there’d be less concerns about talking to relatives through fear of litigation, but both the home manager and the relevant local authority are empathising, offering sympathy and condolences, being as nice as they can be in terms of making the right noises, but refusing to give anything like straight answers to straight questions. It’s not like I’m asking difficult things — merely “were any COVID-19 patients discharged from hospital into the home?” and “were residents isolated?” or “what PPE policy was in force for staff in the run-up to my grandfathers death?”.

      Luckily, if luckily is the right word, it is a government agency or agencies which are responsible, so I’m using Freedom of Information request to get some data. But this is a long process.

      Unlike some above who express doubt about the wisdom of a Public Enquiry, I’m more amenable to this as being a way forward. So long as it is run as South Africa’s “Truth and Reconciliation Committee” — i.e. a genuine attempt to learn and do better in future, it may give me genuine facts and proper evaluations of what, if anything, could have or should have been done differently.

      1. Ignacio

        Yeah Clive I feel quite sorry. In Spain up to 70% of Covid-19 deaths were amongst the elder, mostly in care homes. And the reasons this occurred were very much the same plus authorities doing nearly nothing to prevent this. I think you are doing the correct thing and have my moral support on this. It is important to find responsabilities because not caring about care homes was indeed the worst mistake made as it was known from the beginning this disease was particularly damaging for the elder. This cannot get a free pass as if nothing happened and it has to be carefully examined as you say.

  29. fresno dan

    https://tonyisola.com/2020/06/theres-no-price-high-enough-to-sell-your-soul/

    Pharmaceutical and Financial Services share something demonic – misleading marketing.
    Both industries pay beaucoup advertising bucks to generate short term profits at the expense of the health and wealth of their clients.

    You don’t have to believe me. Ask Janet Capron about her experiences pushing often useless and sometimes dangerous prescription drugs.

    Janet holds a unique perspective. In her previous life, she worked as a prostitute. She details her experiences in her memoir Blue Money.
    ======================================
    equating pharmaceutical sales reps to trollops is an insult…to the trollops

  30. hunkerdown

    Reddit launches new content policy, bans r/The_Donald and r/ChapoTrapHouse (landlords are a protected class, apparently). Both parties get their worst insurgents taken care of in the middle of an election season the establishment wishes weren’t so contentious.

  31. bayoustjohndavid

    Since “The Hill” article on Richard Neal only mentions his opposition to Medicare for All, I thought this old link should be paired with it. Not sure if that’s the exact link Naked Capitalism had in December, but same basic facts.

  32. Wukchumni

    The True Cost of Dollar Stores New Yorker
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Somehow we went AWOL on the General, er Dollar General.

    Every other little tom dick & harry town fell for them like so many quickie marriages of convenience store, but not our plucky place.

    Now if we can have a ‘true cost of vacation rentals’ saga, there I can compete.

  33. Wukchumni

    I’ve gone through nearly 4,500 feet in vinyl orange flagging tape around upstanding members of the community that died with their roots on when the Beetlemania graze was the thing during the drought. Must’ve wrapped 500 trees to be horizontal by this time next month.

    Looking at my work, i’m convinced i’m the new Christo, and my ‘art exhibit’ will be in all its gory to passing cars on a limited engagement, Timber!

    ‘Wrapsody in Orange’

  34. John Anthony La Pietra

    For me, the big takeaway quote from the Project Syndicate article is this one:

    If US President Donald Trump were to win a second four-year term, the current global chaos would escalate dramatically, whereas a victory for his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, would at least bring greater stability.

    Stability. That’s the ticket. Some might argue it’s the best possible case to be made for Joe “Nothing Would Fundamentally Change” Biden. Why, it even gives us a slogan that former Press Officer for the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) Terry Pratchett might be bemusedly proud of having inspired:

    Joe Biden. Because turmoil is hard to steer.

  35. Mikel

    Re: The Triple Crisis Facing the World

    “As if this combination of health, socioeconomic, and geopolitical upheavals were not destabilizing enough, one also cannot ignore the Trump factor. If US President Donald Trump were to win a second four-year term, the current global chaos would escalate dramatically, whereas a victory for his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, would at least bring greater stability….”

    Stopped reading at that point. After they start off with:
    “..With economies in free-fall and geopolitical tensions rising, there can be no return to normal: the past is passed, and only the future counts now..”
    They go back into the dreamworld bubble of the establishment.

  36. Goyo Marquez

    Re: Taibbi
    I don’t disagree with what he’s saying, but among my evangelical friends “I don’t see race” is a way of saying “I don’t see racism.” If I don’t see race then I must judge the killing of George Floyd as having nothing to do with George Floyd being black, seems to be the argument.

    Another of their common arguments, which Taibbi again seems to be echoing, is that talking about racism creates racism. Pointing out an incident as racist is itself the cause of racism, or as they continually repeat, “they’re trying to divide us.” To which I query is it the racists, or the people pointing out the behavior of the racists, who are trying to divide us?

    I’d say one of the main obstacles to arriving at some kind of just conclusion to the racism of our culture, and moving toward the day when we judge people by the content of their character, is the failure to acknowledge, to own, to confess, the sins of racism. As one person commenting on a protest outside the home of his neighbor, the mayor of Los Angeles, put it, we’ve never had our Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Instead,150 plus years after the civil war, we still have huge numbers of Americans trying to justify the kidnapping, torture, imprisonment, forced labor, rape, sale, human trafficking, terrorism, lynchings, implicit threats, unconstitutional deprivations of life, liberty and property, withholding of benefits, systems of economic and cultural subjugation, of black people in service to mammon and the continued honoring of people who did those things. Why aren’t southerners as ashamed of their past and their part in it as the Germans are of their Nazi past.

    When my son was graduating from the Naval Academy the whole family, grandma and grandpa and our best friends a black pastor and his wife and their children from North Carolina went out. So we decided to take a tour of the Capitol building . Our tour guide was a middle aged black lady. At one point during our tour we came to statuary hall where each state is allowed to place a statue to honor some famous citizen, people like Edison, Eisenhower, Philo Farnsworth, Hellen Keller. As I was looking around I came across the statue of Jefferson Davis. How can this be I asked our black tour guide? Each state is free to choose who they want to honor she replied. Is this the act of people who have acknowledged their sins and repented of them or of people who are still trying to justify them?

    1 John 1:5-10 (NLT) 5 This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. 6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

  37. GF

    A new dilemma for Trump’s team: Preventing super-spreader churches Politico

    It would be better for all of us if the evangelicals were raptured via the virus than Nuclear Armageddon.

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