Links 9/6/2020

Jerri-Lynn here. Dear patient readers: Please recall that our comments major domo Jules is on holiday, and so Yves will be moderating comments. But as Yves indicated yesterday, she seldom faces the day before mid-PM, so please cut us some slack if your contribution gets snagged by our moderation tripwires.

We will also have some scheduled site maintenance late tonight. The site will NOT go down but it is likely to be very sluggish.

Why experts are overwhelmingly skeptical of online voting Ars Technica

Don’t Steal This Book Matt Taibbi (UserFriendly)

“We Are Witnessing the End of Independent Central Banks” Der Spiegel (re Šilc)

The Mathematical Model of Modern Monetary Theory 3 Professor Steve Keen (UserFriendly)

The ‘world’s loneliest elephant’ is finally cleared to find a new home WaPo


DAVID DAVIS: Our clumsy quarantine system is destroying livelihoods and making the UK a laughing stock… and it’s based on science as reliable as a weathervane in a whirlwind Daily Mail

UK police deal with thousands of potential Covid-19 quarantine breakers Guardian (re Šilc)

A Supercomputer Analyzed Covid-19 — and an Interesting New Theory Has Emerged Elemental (Rocky)

Is India missing COVID-19 deaths? The Lancet

How Feces and Other Bodily Fluids Can Help Track COVID Outbreaks Der Spiegel

A Doctor Went to His Own Employer for a COVID-19 Antibody Test. It Cost $10,984. ProPublica (UserFriendly)

RISK FACTOR What’s your risk of catching Covid… from opening your post to going to work or a bar? The Sun

Everyone was drenched in the virus’: was this Austrian ski resort a Covid-19 ground zero? Guardian (re Šilc)

I do not see a single student wash their hands’: teacher’s diary of the first week back at school Guardian (re Šilc)


Countdown to endgame on a Brexit deal RTÉ (vlad)

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

Eight case studies on regulating biometric technology show us a path forward MIT Technology Review

The FBI’s ‘Civil Liberties Training’ Is A Farce American Conservative (re Šilc)

NSA spying exposed by Snowden was illegal and not very useful, court says Ars Technica

Julian Assange

UK: Assange extradition hearing will be a key test for UK and US justice Amnesty International

A Special Note on CN Live!’s Coverage of the Julian Assange Extradition Hearings Beginning on Monday Consortium News

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Nearly all Black Lives Matter protests are peaceful despite Trump narrative, report finds Guardian (re Šilc)

Fascism and the Deadlock of Race Paganarch (UserFriendly)

Class Warfare

The Privileged Vs. The People American Conservative (re Šilc)

 Labor Day Homage to New Orleans’ Rebuilders Capital & Main

1000 Strikes since March 1st – Tampa Fast Food Workers Strike – 100 Days of Breonna Taylor Protests Payday Report

California Burning

The Former Prisoners Fighting California’s Wildfires Marshall Project

As second heat wave sears California, experts say health impacts will worsen with climate change LA Times

Trump Transition

Trump’s opponents need to take his patriotic card away and portray him as the true enemy of the nation – it can be done Independent. Patrick Cockburn.

If Trump is re-elected in November, will we be able to absolve the Americans this time? Independent. Robert Fisk.

America Through Foreign Eyes review: a Mexican take on the US under Trump Guardian (re Šilc)

How Trump Draws on Campaign Funds to Pay Legal Bills NYT (re Šilc)

At Least 4 Boats Sink During ‘Trump Boat Parade’ in Texas, Officials Say NYT (re Šilc)


Lifting Embargo on American Non-Lethal Arms to Cyprus Is Aimed Against Russia Antiwar (The Rev Kev)


‘Worst is yet to come’: India coronavirus cases top four million Al Jazeera

Coronavirus Crisis Shatters India’s Big Dreams NYT

After Defence Ministers Meeting, India-China Agree to De-Escalate Tensions The Wire

India implodes its own new Silk Road Global Research. Pepe Escobar.


Iran looks to China as US sanctions bite FT


Silence of the Dems: Why Aren’t There More Prop. 15 Endorsements? Capital & Main

Donald Trump vs Joe Biden: markets rattled by risk of a messy election result FT

How New York City’s Democratic Socialists Swept the Competition American Prospect (re Šilc)

Why I will not vote for Joe Biden Al Jazeera (UserFriendly)

Biden Needs to Talk About Jobs on Labor Day. And Every Day. The Nation (re Šilc)

Trump’s Pick for Afghanistan Ambassador Wants to Withdraw US Troops Immediately Mother Jones. re Šilc: “go trump go.”

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Clive

    Re: Suzie Dawson \ QAnon

    Suzie lambasts QAnon for being crazed conspiracy theory amplifier and originator in 25-tweet long crazed conspiracy theory diatribe where she “explains” QAnon in terms of a conspiracy theory.

    In doing so, Suzie has, I believe, created the world’s first documented sighting in the wild of a “meta conspiracy theory”.

    1. David

      That was exactly my reaction too, but then I’m so old that I remember when purported explanations of mysteries would be accompanied by what was then called “evidence.”
      These days it’s all about “what I feel”, and an honest version of the initial tweet would read something like:
      “I have no more idea what QAnon is about than you do, but I do have an active imagination, and I’d like to believe that it’s all an intelligence agency scam. So let me outline my fantasy for you.”
      The popularity of conspiracy theories, as everybody knows, lies in their ability to explain (or at least account for) puzzling and potentially frightening facts that we otherwise can’t interpret. I’ve always said (including here) that the response to a conspiracy theory is not another conspiracy theory.

      1. Sailor Bud

        I’m agnostic about conspiracy theories. Conspiracies happen, we are clearly ruled by liars, and people theorize, with or without evidence but hopefully with plausible speculation. I do it all the time.

        I start knitting the eyebrows and frowning when the theory is accompanied by outright belief, or statement of the theory as fact, especially without evidence.

        When Michael Brooks died, then David Graeber, I don’t mind admitting that my cynical modern mind went into theoretical territory, sans facts, that maybe they were offed. The left dies young, and traditionally assassination is part of the affair. Did I believe it was the TRVTH? Of course not, but the ignorance of what is true is still there and so is the question.

        Same with Bernie’s loss to Biden. There, I’m in the uncomfortable territory of not believing the results but at the same time believing they’re quite possible, and what the hell do I know anyway? What I do know is that my state had mail-in voting (WA), the ballot clearly said to send it back as soon as possible, and I got the ballot two weeks before the infamous mass dropout, yet Biden won WA anyway, in a state I would have sworn was pro-Bern. Hmmmm…

        1. Darius

          Michael Brooks’ death suggests to me a resolved asymptomatic COVID infection. He had been saying for weeks he was tired and run down. Blood clots are one of the possible after-effects of COVID.

          On the other hand, the isolation was causing him depression. That also could explain the fatigue, but not the blood clot. This was a profound loss to his friends and followers.

          1. Sailor Bud

            Ya, I mean, no matter what his death’s actual cause, the suspicion would be there, the germ of “conspiracy theory,” which is ipso facto tin foil hat stuff for some monstrous unknown X% of the general public.

            “How dare you even suggest that?” is antithetical to how my mind works, I guess, especially in a world that allows for Jeff Epstein and JFK theories and Iran-Contra, etc. There are of course things that just sound batsh…aving cream (be nice and clean).

            1. rhodium

              The human mind has already been proven by science to be far more prone to cognitive errors and generalizations than most people realize. We all think our opinions are true while we hold them, even if they contradict many other opinions. We can’t all be right, but none of us believe we are wrong. Everyone has a different perspective so maybe we can get closer to the truth by dialogue.

              My opinion is that one should pick their conspiracy theories wisely, but we also live in a world of human beings. How could one honestly expect the truth to always be accurately preached on a regular basis by humans? Believing every odd thing you hear is foolish, taking everything at face value and having a “how dare you suggest that?” mentality if something isn’t “official” seems equally foolish. The conundrum of it though, is if you were as skeptical as you probably should be in order to be realistic in admitting what you don’t know, you’d be so untethered from reality I’d think it would be existentially very difficult to maintain such a mindset. We naturally crave explanation.

              1. Sailor Bud

                Right. Love the last two sentences of your post. I live under the very true assumption that no matter how much genuine truth I’m exposed to, I could live to 130 years and will die galactically ignorant, and it doesn’t bother me. I still will have learned the most important things, like knowing that a #9 on an E7 chord is an Fx and exactly why!

                I think of covert sociopolitical evil in ranges anyway. Some whisp of a possibility is different from the mild suspicion, is different from the strong one, is different from the total belief – and all should be appropriately ranged from what we think is supportable by “known” fact, versus what is plausible by fancy yet improbable. I hope that doesn’t come off as overly platitudinal, but I’m no epistemology buff.

              2. campbeln

                The human brain is an pattern averaging machine with weighted averages based on our experience. PTSD from a war zone strongly influences the averaging of loud noises, for example.

                Without this pattern averaging, we’d not see elephants in clouds nor the tiger in the grass.

                Conspiracy theories fall under this umbrella as our experiences with a particular field (knowledge that something isn’t being said) or a particular entity (government agency, corporation, etc.; experience that they are not always honest) similarly colors our pattern averaging.

                1. BobW

                  Jumping away 99 times because of an imaginary lion in a bush is better than not jumping away once at a real one.

      2. Pelham

        Mostly agreed. I wish the author had qualified her ideas as you suggest.

        But as for answering a conspiracy theory with another theory, I think that in the absence of evidence or any present possibility of evidence, accumulating theories that over time could point in useful directions for further inquiry might be useful.

        Speaking of conspiracy theories, in the JFK assassination I have read in precisely one reference that the total weight of bullet fragments recovered from John Connally’s wrist add up to considerably more than the mass missing from the so-called magic bullet. This bugs me. I’ve done some (admittedly haphazard) research but haven’t found anything to back this up. Am I the victim of disinformation? Can anyone help?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          People love conspiracy theories. My memory is the one Oliver Stone prescribes to was Soviet propaganda put out in 3rd world countries, and it was just picked it up. Some of the stuff starts off because people don’t have enough knowledge. One example is the direction people are looking. Yes, it’s “odd” on the surface, but given how people react at various distances to loud noises, the shots were fired from the book depository. Members of the crowd are looking to the sound and others are looking for an escape.

          When you get into the mob stuff, that’s a little different, but the evidence indicates Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK on his own. As to whether he was hired or ran into people who suggested it, forensic scientists every few years set out to disprove the official account and wind up demonstrating the official account.

          Now, one thing that could be out there is how many people Oswald told and dismissed him as a crank, but the FBI had a Soviet consulate bugged. That in of itself is something that people would be eager to hide.

          1. zagonostra

            Wow someone who actually believes Oswald assassinated JFK. I didn’t think any existed within this ratified commentariat.

            I suppose NIST’s explanation of WT7 is scientifically sound. What is more troubling than meta conspiracy theories is the lack of historical memory or a contortionist interpretation of it.

          2. USDisVet

            I am surprised that you still believe in the Establishment view considering that the unequivocal evidence is that JFK was shot from in front of the motorcade and not from behind when Oswald supposedly fired.

          3. pjay

            “…the evidence indicates Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK on his own. As to whether he was hired or ran into people who suggested it, forensic scientists every few years set out to disprove the official account and wind up demonstrating the official account.”

            I will not debate the JFK assassination in this venue. But this statement demonstrates to me that you have not looked at the evidence yourself. Otherwise you couldn’t possibly believe this to be true, especially if by “official account” you mean the Warren Report. Also, although I’m pretty familiar with most of the pro-Warren Commission “debunkers,” the idea that Oliver Stone’s views are sourced to Soviet propaganda is a new one to me. If I remember correctly, Stone documented his sources in a separate publication. Some of them are pretty well known. We don’t have to accept them, or his interpretation. But to dismiss them with such a flippant remark about Soviet propaganda is pretty arrogant, especially today.

          4. neo-realist

            Could Oswald have blown his brains out the back of his head and created a massive exit wound in the back of JFK’s head with shots from the back??? Some pretty mean shooting for a mediocre Marine Corp rifleman. It took expert riflemen numerous shots to recreate Oswald’s alleged work at the TSBD.

            Why did so many people near the Grassy Knoll hear gunfire and see gunsmoke coming from the brush in that area??? Why was a bogus secret service agent telling people to stay away from the knoll???

            Lee Bowers, standing in a high tower overlooking Dealey Plaza, saw three cars drive into the grassy knoll area before the assassination and a flash of light or smoke in the vicinity of two men who were leaning up against the picket fence at the time of the shooting.

            1. Tom Stone

              Mitch WerBell the third was in Dealey plaza that day.
              A man who had a lot of interesting connections, to say the least.
              As to what happened the day of JFK’s Assassination, Earl Warren later disavowed the “Warren Report”.
              Beyond that, there so much chaff in the air and so many people and groups had both the means and opportunity to off JFK that it’s anyone’s guess.
              My guess, blowback from JFK’s decision not to back up anti Castro Cubans at the Bay of Pigs.
              It enraged the Mob which wanted their playground back, it enraged the CIA and anti Castro Cubans.
              And Hoover would have been delighted to look the other way, he despised jack and Bobby especially.
              The Kennedy’s Mob connections stemmed from the days of prohibition when Joe Sr was the biggest importer of booze from Canada.
              Nixon had plenty of Mob connections as well, the La Costa Country Club was a nexus, and of course Saint Ronnie did as well “Ronald Reagan, MCA and the Mob”.was an eye opener for me.
              Reagan was arguably stranger than even J Edgar Hoover.

          5. Yves Smith

            This isn’t up to the comment section’s standards. All you’ve provided is argument from authority and ad hom. Other readers have provided specific evidence that you hand wave away rather than address.

          6. Ford Prefect

            The best tool I have found for evaluating conspiracy theories is Hanlon’s Razor “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”


            Successful execution of a conspiracy requires purpose, intelligence, organization, secrecy, access, good cummunication, and attention to detail. History has shown that getting all of those to dovetail is rare, even when all of the resources of a nation ar put behind it, such as in a war.

            Usually when bad things happen, it is just a conjunction of stupidity and incompetence which are far more common and likely. But people like to think it happened on purpose.

            1. periol

              That works well unless there’s actual malice behind the stupidity. Sort of like how the Florida governor recently admitted in an interview that the state’s unemployment website was deliberately made impossible to navigate, to keep people from applying.

              Easy to blame on design-by-committee, government bloat, incompetence, etc. But no, the answer was maliciousness.

      3. hunkerdown

        Pointing out actual propaganda techniques in use isn’t anything remotely like a “conspiracy theory”. I see — not believe, not feel — I see that you’ve been very active in trying to manage conversations and you really like to put yourself forward as a norm of how other people should think. No conspiracy theory required to explain it; class interest is a conspiracy fact.

        1. Ford Prefect

          Class interest isn’t a conspiracy; it is out in the open. Even the Koch Brothers are generally doing things that can get tracked in the public record. Citizens United was done in public in the Supreme Court to give corporations the same rights as people, without the baggage of criminality warranting jail terms.

          They are all relying on people not doing the work to look under the hood to see what the mechanics and goals are so that they can wallpaper it with some propaganda. So far that approach has been very effective over the past 40 years.

      4. bassmule

        Question: If pedophile cannibals are actually roaming the halls of the Federal Government, who are they eating? It seems to me that there should be a crisis of missing children in the District of Columbia and environs, no? Or maybe they’re separate groups, pedophiles and cannibals?

      5. ArvidMartensen

        A few instances of conspiracies, sorry without refs/links because I don’t have a few hours.
        But, here we go.
        Conspiracy of business with near monopoly to set prices in collusion with other business selling similar stuff to make massive profits.
        Conspiracy of employees to hoodwink a board for personal gain (Calpers?).
        Conspiracy of elected politician to sell access to high ranking ruling politician to people who can pay.
        Conspiracy of politicians to stack and fund the organisations that select candidates for office, with people who support their own views and shore up their positions (every political party in the world. But in US, Dems most obvious lately)
        Conspiracy of insurance company to defraud customers by using out of date definitions of conditions like myocardial infarctions to deny claims (Commonwealth Bank Australia)
        Conspiracy of employee (government or business) to give contracts to outside suppliers for kickbacks (every country in the world, almost all of the time, this is a national sport)
        Conspiracy of a company selling products that harm the health of customers, to hide evidence that they know but keep selling (big Tobacco, big Pharma, big Agrichem)
        Conspiracy by mainstream churches to cover up all instances of pedophilia in ranks, and to discredit, discourage and demonise victims and their families, genuine police investigations, politicians etc.
        Conspiracy by leading government medical expert to dissuade ordinary people from using (dangerous, ineffective) PPE (masks) to perhaps? save it for medical staff (or to save embarrassment of insufficient stockpile), since admitted by Fauci himself.
        Conspiracy of secret services to hoover up all metadata and actual data that is communicated in electronic form around a country/the world (US court case just found this is illegal?)

        What is the difference between a conspiracy theorist and a whistleblower? Data. Evidence.
        First you have the conspiracy theorists who suspect, but they are mocked and lampooned as nutters and simpletons. (and some are for sure, and some theories are plain looney).
        Then you have the whistleblowers, and they are bullied, sacked, discredited, bankrupted, persecuted, jailed to let others know to keep their mouths firmly shut.
        Assange. Snowden. Manning. Witness K. Collaery. Kiriakou, Binney. hundreds +
        Nader. Then a whole lot of unsung business employee whistleblowers. thousands +
        Then a few political whistleblowers.

        1. Sailor Bud

          Yep. “Conspiracies” as some fact of life are really quite mundane – probably a chromosome removed from a simple con job.. But in internet terms, the merest suggestion of a fairly anodyne hypothetical is often given the harshest tinfoil treatment. If I were particularly foily, I might suggest it was on purpose!

          Otherwise, discernment across the usual parameters is all we can do. Identify theories that have sins of omission, or poor reasoning, that touch our shyster tripwires, that have correlation/causality issues, that are outright ridiculous, etc.

          Qanon just feels to me like a hustle, but I barely know anything about their spiel.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        My problem is that it seems to me in the fullness of time around 50% of CTs turn out to be CFs.

        And I seem to recall a very major CT where stunningly the FBI was accused of spying on presidential candidates and Vladimir Putin was said to be giving instructions straight to the White House. I’m so pleased that once the full facts came out on that, the people who pushed it relentlessly were shamed and ridiculed and laughed out of the public sphere, and all references to it were pulled from Twitter, FB, YouTube, Google etc. because they were so obviously “misinformation”. It’s so important that the companies with a monopoly on our news are held to a very high standard.

        OK, /sarc off

        Kind of puts later efforts to label *anything* after this “a CT” in perspective though doesn’t it.

      1. mpalomar

        Fredric Jameson has an interesting take on conspiracy theory from 1984, Postmodernism or, the Cultural logic of Late Capitalism
        “The whole new decentered (IT enhanced and engendered) global network of the third stage of capital itself… one is tempted to characterize it as high tech paranoia – in which the circuits and networks of some putative global computer hookup are narratively mobilized by labyrinthine conspiracies of autonomous but deadly interlocking and competing information agencies in a complexity often beyond the capacity of the normal reading mind. Yet conspiracy theory (and its garish narrative manifestations) must be seen as a degraded attempt to – through the figuration of advanced technology – to think the impossible totality of the contemporary world system.”

    2. The Rev Kev

      The operative concept being used here I think is Cui bono. A variation of this is to ‘follow the money’ but it amounts to the same. Also a useful concept when judging progressives, environmentalists, etc. by seeing who their actions benefit. It can, for example, explains why a guy that fights fracking tells people to vote for Joe Biden – who is absolutely for fracking and has said so on record a few days ago.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        “Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.”-H.D. Thoreau.

        she mentions this:
        “They” do this sort of thing.
        Successful Conspiracy Theory Ops take a bit of reality and wrap it up in some fantastical narrative.
        for instance,in this case, the part of Q about a global pedophile ring…see: Jeffery Epstein, and the exegesis from mint Press
        similarly and related, the idea of Honey Pots and Compromat…lol…like this never happens. It’s even in the Godfather, where the reluctant Senator wakes up in bed with a dead chick in a whorehouse.
        as I’ve related, I, myself, was witness(as the help/live band to a local elite party/epic debauch, wherein judges and preachers were openly photographed snorting coke off of naked chicks.
        so much of the machinations of Power are secret…we’ll never know the Capital T Truth of it all…all we can do is gather data points and filter them through our experience and critical minds.
        My late Dad worked for the DIA, circa 1966-1970. He only spoke of it once, when he told my brother and I how badly they had scared him when he left, and that there were “dossiers” on both of us(we were 11 and 13, respectively)…went on at some length about the spy satellite tech that he had used to identify poppy fields in Laos, and how they could identify us, sitting there in the convertible in Bay City, Texas, from space(this was in 1982 or so…he had been in Image Analysis, and went on to work for Nasa, interpreting Apollo Moon pictures(ask me about UFO’s,lol)).
        Mom talked of those days a whole lot more..the paranoia that coated DC, etc…the background checks, the spooks showing up when she had loose lips at the hair cutting place….
        This family history is a part of my own filters…there’s much that we don’t know…and there’s a lot that’s been more or less admitted to(first internet, ’99, i spent a lot of time with FOIA Docs), that we collectively then forget, because it’s too big and ugly, and we don’t want to deal with that kind of world.
        I agree with this Suzie Person…Q smells like an Op.
        That is enough for me to 1. Not Believe anything in that narrative on it’s face, and 2. keep an eye on the thing.
        It gels with my own hypothesis about the emergent Big Center Party, and the relegation of the Real Left into the Round File with the Birchers and other assorted loons.
        This is how “They” roll.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            dad wouldn’t say a word, but mom readily told the tale after the divorce: Apollo 14 or something(one of the missions you never hear about) had just got home, and his image analysis team was expecting to start collating and scrutinising piles of film.
            instead, boss man comes in with the usual big box of film, but doesn’t open it. hands them a bit of paper to sign. “here’s your ‘Findings'”.
            so they signed it, and then the box gets dumped on the table.
            they get ten minutes to look it all over(as opposed to the usual weeks, after which they would produce their “findings”). mom said dad told her that the images were of what could only be a spacecraft, and while nobody uttered “alien”, that it couldn’t be “from here”.
            thing had flown in formation with the command module most of the way back to earth.
            again, dad would never talk about it…changed the subject, or just got up and went outside.
            His mother confirmed it, though, before she died…said it…and the behaviour of his bosses…had really shaken him.
            after the divorce, he left me his collection of odds and ends from his time at Nasa…mostly photo’s on Nasa stock, and several reels of film negatives.
            He’d rescued all this from the dumpster at JSC…that collection is one of my prize possessions!
            I remember…after mom had told this tale…going through the film negatives with a flashlight, looking for aliens. But i never found anything,lol.
            I remain more or less agnostic on this…but i definitely lean towards “we ain’t alone”.
            Hopefully, if there’s any There, there, “they” will let it slip some day. when/if that happens, I predict that half the people will believe it, and the other half will not…and it’ll be just one more thing for us to fight each other over.

            1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

              I was doing some film work a few years back & got talking to a fella who owned a building company that also constructed film sets, who was once an OC for the Provisionals & apparently not to be trifled with. He was not what I expected – kinda like an Irish Joe Pesci.

              Somehow we got talking about google Earth & he showed me the version he had on his phone of which the definition was crystal clear & could zoom right down to the size of a front door in HD. He informed me that it had been passed on to all the OC’s a couple of years before the Good Friday Agreement, as in we can see you almost everywhere.

            2. jr

              Thank you. Here is a bit of weirdness from NYS yesterday:


              I’ve had three wishes since I was a kid. One, have a threesome. Check. Two, swim with whales: not yet but I did have one surface 15 feet off a boat and stare at me for a second and blow my mind, so half check. 3, hear of the proof of Others. After watching, along with recent events, this:


              (Watch through the terrible intro please or just jump to the children being interviewed.)

              I’m seriously starting to think I got all three.

        1. The County Clerk

          “Q smells like an Op”

          Here is the main problem with the idea that the original Q [all current Q posts are obviously authored by 8kun owner Jim Watkins] is some entity with some level of expertise in handling intelligence: the “tripcode” encryption system used to identify Q as the single author of the first posts on 4chan and 8chan is a laughably insecure method for anonymous communications. I believe it was only a few months after the first Q posts that the tripcode password was reverse-engineered and publicly posted. If the original Q posts are the work of a deep state agent, they would have used some more secure method for authorial identification. I would be amenable to the idea that Jim Watkins is acting on behalf of some agency or intelligence gang that has dirt on him. He is a sketchy character – an expat in the Philippines who married a national after only three weeks in the country, and an engineer that made his money providing web hosting to objectionable sites that can’t find hosting services anywhere else. The twitter thread in question was written before Watkins took the mantle of Q, but the risible lack of infosec knowledge exhibited by the use of the flimsy tripcode system implies a lack of intelligence involvement in the genesis of Q.

          However, it’s likely that Q couldn’t get off the ground without an initial seeding of promotional posts. The only way to cut through the digital informational noise of anonymous posting platforms is the manufacturing of some apparent support and consensus. This also serves to bump Q threads to the top of the forum. This doesn’t suggest some JTRIG op; a sufficient explanation is that some inventive crank with a Hubbard-like cocktail of megalomania, schizophrenia, and mania for systematizing generated a self-reproducing system. Q operates like a linguistic and informational virus. It therefore bears a greater resemblance to Manicheanism, Mormonism, the early Christian church, Gnostic cults, The Khlysty, and any mystical cult you would care to name. It also resembles anti-Masonic groups which had remarkable representation in the federal government around two centuries ago. It is a supercharged version that proliferates through social media. But it wouldn’t take some central intelligence operation to keep that machine running. Q is such a simple and efficient self-radicalization machine, simple like a virus. Old models of contagious internet radicalization schemes are like prototype automobiles: Q is the Model-T.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            i wouldn’t know a tripcode if it bit me.
            however, i get it.
            I’m not a believer, by any stretch….just reading tea leaves as best i can(pretty good track record, so far)

            perhaps the Teaparty(2.0, after the koch/fox teams hijacked it)was the Model T.
            That’s what this feels like….ginning up anger and a desire to “Do Something”, this time with more overtly messianic features.
            My brief wanderings in Qland(via the Facebook duckblind) point to a pavlovian trigger…but yes, it could be just random noise and pseudo moral panic.
            (i had a front row seat to a satanic cult scare when i was a junior in high school. this informs me, here.)
            If it’s the latter…well and good…nutters gonna nut, and lord knows the current mess is pretty fertile ground.
            but if it is the former(adjusts tinfoil), then we have to ask “to what end?”
            again, the sordid history of the spooks shows a penchant for bizarre shenanigans….sometimes successful, sometimes not…and often with unfortunate unintended consequences. Hubris runs deep in those circles.
            a civil war is something i’ve worried about since Lil George…the only Amendments in the Bill of rights that remain untouched are the 3rd\, and the 2nd: actively encouraging a well armed populace while at the same time impoverishing them and destroying their social supports seems pretty dumb, to me.
            But a hobbsean civil war would solve a lot of the aristocracy’s problems, if they managed to stay out of the way.
            we’ll see. It’s not like they’ve never done it before.(pick a Third World country,lol)
            even without all that, it looks like we’re in for a difficult winter.
            We’re in Hunker Down Mode, regardless.

          2. ObjectiveFunction

            Hey, don’t knock [up] ‘marrying a national after only 3 weeks in’ the Philippines until you’ve tried it!

            P.S. When I read about CTs, I always find myself quietly singing one of the best lyrical one liners evah….

            If you believe / they put a man on the moon (man on the moon)

    3. Jessica

      Nowhere in her twitter thread did I see Suzie Dawson castigating anyone for believing a conspiracy theory. What she did say was that folks should see who is promoting the specific set of conspiracy theories that is QAnon and for what purpose.

      1. Clive

        Suzie made assertions about the security services being behind QAnon. Nowhere were they evidenced. Therefore, it was a theory. The reasons given why the security services would do this was that they were conspiring, primarily, to further aims of capturing the identities (and secondarily, hijacking the narratives) of those who created and consume QAnon material. Therefore it was also a conspiracy.

        Now, I could say something here about how the first Apollo moon landing was fake (but please, I do hope we can all agree that really did happen, otherwise I’ll probably spontaneously combust) and that might all be a very interesting idea. However, in the absence of credible evidence then attributing that to some sort of wicked government agenda would render it as, yes, a conspiracy theory.

        I’m not sure what Suzie what attempting to do. I’m certainly sure that Twitter really wasn’t the best medium to do it in. But what she did do was construct a classic conspiracy theory, whether intended (I don’t think Suzie did intend to) or not.

        1. Synoia

          Unsupported allegations, which one is compelled to believe, are the province of Faith and Religion, and Execution.

          What’s next? Heresy hearings and stoning?

          Bring back the Star Chamber!!

        2. barefoot charley

          The underlying truth of QAnon is that, if the NSA wanted to, it could and would reveal or leak ‘Q’s’ identity, which would deflate the game. But it doesn’t. Which is odd because QAnon without question helps Trump’s re-election, and the Intelligence State opposes it. So the answer to the meta-riddle of QAnon’s meta-meaning may come clear in the weeks before the election with a story-arc arrival–or else it ain’t meaningful, just more clickbait. Unless the Deep State really simply wants us to think this idiotically, hmm, ipso facto. What base times we must survive.

          1. The County Clerk

            Intelligence might be keeping its hands off for the same reason the media had for so long: any attention paid to Q is good business. For whatever reason people are sucked into the irreality and illogic of Q, those people will be sucked in regardless of why they googled “Q anon” in the first place. All publicity is good publicity for Q. Unfortunately now the “awakening” is so greatly peopled that we can’t help but talk about it.

            The NSA won’t go through aggregated archives of 8chan posts to find Q’s identity through an IP address or browser fingerprint and then publicize having done so because they don’t want to call any more attention to the scope of their surveillance network. They leak things out here or there to remind us that they are always listening, so to speak, but they won’t go for this nickel and dime stuff just to discredit some nuts on facebook and twitter.

            Also, do we know for a fact that the NSA records all IP addresses and browser fingerprints for every 8chan post? Does PRISM undeniably have the power to store all of those personal identifiers for all communications? I don’t know how many posts per day 8chan was racking up in its heyday, but I’m guessing a system that sorts all anonymous posts and associates them with the identifier tags of their authors would be a storage nightmare, maybe even a logistical impossibility. If someone has info to the contrary, I ask that they jump in. NSA does have the power to store all phone calls and their various indirect associations with every other phone number, so I don’t know. On that tip, the NSA undoubtedly had their eyes and ear on all of 8chan given its reputation for criminal activity and illegal communications, things like shooters’ manifestos and child abuse material. Forgive me for speculating out loud, as it were.

            Also, could you point to any incident in which the NSA has intervened in some dangerous internet activity in the way you described that it could handle Q by “doxxing” the original poster? As far as I know, they didn’t scoop up the IDs of any of the manifesto shooters who posted on 8chan. A lot of this stuff probably comes down to managing operational capacity alongside the fact that a lot of this stuff just isn’t in anyone’s job description.

        3. t

          Would have been easier to say that because we don’t know who is creating Q posts, and because the posts are a garbage pile of nonsense, well-known information, and murky speculation, then people should ignore the posts

          Also, hasn’t the “Pied Piper” shifted direction about 12 times?

          If you want to get conspiratorial- why is this “Susie” using the term Pied Piper, a clear reference to a child-taker! The snake is reacting it’s own tail! Well-done with Ketchup and a Diet Coke!

          (Nitpick: Pied Piper would not have taken the children if the townspeople had paid what was owed.)

          1. Clive

            I read her tweets backward and got the lyrics for “Waterloo” by ABBA which, of course, is a reference to how the U.K. (where ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest, in Brighton) was therefore about to rejoin the EU because Putin and Macron are really twins, separated at birth and are constantly interchanging their roles in secret after which Russia, the EU (strengthened with the U.K. back as a Member State) would join forces to invade and occupy Sweden as revenge for, well, pretty much everything including depriving Lulu’s pre-agreed Eurovision victory with “Boom Bang-a-Bang” in the year ABBA won.

            Sigh. I’m old enough to remember when the Internet really did conspiracy theories properly — it’s all been going steadily downhill since then.

            1. John A

              ABBA’s late manager, Stikkan Andersson famously traded ABBA records for oil with the Soviet Union as a way round certain currency restrictions.

    4. lambert strether

      Two curious incidents of dogs not barking re: QAnon

      1) There has never been a “Who is Q?” moral panic

      2) There has been no throat-clearing from the intelligence community, despite (IIRC) gunplay during PizzaGate

      Instead, the focus is solely on the deplorables taken in by it (unlike those taken by RussiaGate, mainstream macro, TINA, etc.) The cynical might say that’s because Q adherents have little real power

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        And never, ever any mention of jeffrey epstein, whose mysterious wealth, circle of powerful “friends” and sketchy, serendipitous “suicide” makes pretending that there isn’t some sort of elite international pedophile network sound like the real “conspiracy theory.”

    5. km

      IIRC, “Q” has at times begged for donations, at least in the early stages.

      I’m pretty sure that the alphabet agencies do not lack for funds.

  2. zagonostra

    >Social Security benefit cuts could be coming — here’s who it will affect first – Fox Business

    At the end of April, the government projected that Social Security, one of the biggest federal benefit programs, would be unable to pay full benefits starting in 2035. At that point, only 76% of benefits could be paid out.s.

    The use of fear is so prevalent in politics that you can set your clock by it, kind of like Orwell’s “Two Minute Hate.” What is the cognitive use value of this headline when trillions were just created out of thin air? Fear. There are millions of elderly and disabled whose very existence depends on gov’t assistance provided by SocSec and SSI. They read the headline and experience anxiety. Keep the people in a permanent state of fear, in survival mode, and they will be paralyzed and incapable of rational thought. Fear is the mind killer (Frank Herbert). Michael Hudson summarized it well in yesterday’s meaty posting on the New Economic Archaeology:

    ...there is no assurance that societies automatically evolve onward and upward. Such determinism focuses on potential – what economies could achieve if they use all knowledge to best advantage. Warlords, creditors, landlords and monopolists have deprived populations of the fruits of technological potential throughout history.

    1. Ford Prefect

      This is actually a pretty good summary of the issue. Most Social Security stories just keep blaring that the trust fund will be insolvent without mentioning that three-quarters of the benefits will still be paid out of ongoing payroll taxes. That leads many people to assume that Social Security will effectively cease to exist.

      The lack of understanding about funding of Social Security funding, esepcially that the payroll tax is funding most of the current paid out benefits allows for Trump and many conservatives talk of eliminating the payroll task disconnected from the existential threat to many people’s retirement that it is. The burbling about permanently switching to the general fund for financing during a period of massive deficits is also not connected, so people don’t understand that this would mean that Social Security would be in jeopardy every time a budget has to get passed in Congress.

      There are periods of time when Americans can have rational discussions about policies and how they impact people. This is not one of those times.

  3. allan

    The last paragraph of “A Doctor Went to His Own Employer for a COVID-19 Antibody Test. It Cost $10,984.”
    should not be missed. Insanity.

    1. Tom Doak

      Damn, I had not read it all the way to the end. Not what I expected the summary to be, having read most of the article! But, of course, the complainant is also a doctor, and he had no reason to worry that the fraudulent billing is going to bankrupt him.

      Also, the article failed to mention that maybe the reason the insurance company didn’t care enough to investigate the fraud more closely, is that they get to charge cost plus 20% to their customers, via the magic of the Affordable Care Act.

      1. carl

        I’ve gotten kind of numb to these stories. I think it was Vox who did a series on outrageous medical bills last year. Nothing happened, just like now. The system is extremely resistant to change.

        1. Geo

          If they were passing a counterfeit $20 bill or selling loosy cigarettes the authorities would choke the life out of them. But, defrauding healthcare customers for billions and hooking them on deadly painkillers each year is OK. Encouraged even!


    2. Chris

      Got my very own COVID PCR test yesterday (Sunday). It went like this:

      0800. Woke up with a bad cough (not dry) and a runny nose
      1015. Rang the public health hotline and said I’d like to be tested
      1300. Testing coordinator rang me back to take details and give me an appointment time.
      1345. Drove to the testing centre (10 minutes away). At entry, security checked that my name was on their list. Drove up to the tent, wound down the window. Nurse (in full PPE) checked name and DOB, collected swab from throat and nose.
      1400. Drove home.

      I’ll get the results on Tuesday. If the test is negative, they’ll text my mobile. If it’s positive, they’ll ring and talk to me. My GP will get a copy.

      Cost to me: $0.00 (Public health resources free; lab test bulk-billed to Medicare, Australia’s government health funder).

  4. The Rev Kev

    “The Former Prisoners Fighting California’s Wildfires”

    This could be the beginning of a new system this. You would have men in women in prison being recruited and trained in firefighting which would basically be done on the government’s dime. Then when they leave prison, there would be a path for those who want to become full-fledged firefighters. I think that the past few years has shown that California is going to need more and more trained firefighters as time goes by, not less. And I don’t think that California can afford to say any longer to these men and women that yes, they have done their time but that they still intend to punish them for the rest of their lives. California had better be wary however. When the other States that suffer their own huge fires look at what is going on, they might try to recruit these people and offer to recognize their qualifications as Californian firefighters.

    1. Wyoming

      The reason that most former prisoners cannot be hired by fire departments is that the hiring standards of almost all fire fighting organizations prohibit the hiring of ex-felons. Additionally some also prohibit the hiring of those convicted of Class 1 (or A) misdemeanors and have further restrictions concerning lower class misdemeanors.

      To change this situation is not a simple decision as it requires legislative/regulatory changes which are hard to come by. And we could expect significant political/social components to the support/opposition to such changes by various actors. It is a tough problem.,Can%20You%20Be%20a%20Firefighter%20with%20a%20Felony%2FExpunged%20Felony,is%20classified%20into%204%20categories.&text=While%20there%20is%20no%20state,you%20from%20becoming%20a%20firefighter.

  5. jlowe

    Some of California’s air quality impacts (effects from the PM 2.5 fine particulates) are visualized nicely by the AIRNOW fire and smoke map. In addition to the permanent monitors, this map displays the low-cost PM sensors being promoted through citizen science initiatives. Before too long, we’ll all want to be wearing the monitors (eminently practical) and measuring in real-time breathing zone exposures during fire season so the data can be included in our medical histories.

    1. Lee

      With Covid-19, I could at least go out for walks. Now, with the heat and poor air quality, I’m holed up in my room most of the time with a humidifier, air conditioner, and air purifier. If the electricity gets cut I will retreat to the basement and hope for the best. I’ve lived near the SF Bay Area eastern shoreline for over 70 years. But I have pulmonary issues and I think I’m done here.

      Having had some good times up Portlandia way in the Columbia Gorge, I was thinking about relocating there, but was dissuaded by a member of the NC commentariat:

      heresy101August 24, 2020 at 1:59 pm

      Having grown up in Eugene and then moved to Portland, I had reached my limit 45 years ago of the perpetual rain (only July & August dry). The Oregon mist of 60-70 inches per year can take a week to put down a 1/4 inch. My choice was to choose which of the 14 bridges in Portland to throw myself off of or move to California. Since I am writing this, my decision was to move to the Bay Area, and I don’t regret it.

      I’m looking at the Mendocino coast now. One must go pretty far to get away from the effects of Silicon Valley money on housing prices.

      1. Laughingsong

        I moved to Eugene in the 90s, having been a Peninsula denizen my entire life to that point (minus the first year in Portland) and I have always loved it. Yeah it’s rainy but that’s actually good (and a subsequent 9 years living in Ireland changed my opinion of just HOW rainy Eugene is) I remember the first time mom came to visit (drove up from CA) and I asked her what she thought of OR: “Well …… it’s just so ….. green”. “Yes, mom, You see that’s the color of a healthy plant.”

        We of course have similar problems with fire and drought up here but not to the same extent as CA. And the traffic is much better than CA or Portland.

        TL;DR – come on up, the water’s fine :-)

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        for clean, dry air, might look at Alpine, Texas…a sort of Mini-Austin in the chihuahuan desert.
        it’s far away from anything else, too…which might be a plus if things get as idiotic as i expect.
        The Texas Hill Country is nice, too(I’m in the northwest hill country), but we have winter allergy issues that tend to lead to all year round allergy issues eventually(this is NOT in the brochure!)
        If you have even one liberal/lefty bone in yer body, I’d avoid pretty much everywhere else in Texas, however.

        1. carl

          Love the entire Big Bend area, and Alpine in particular. Marfa is just…weird. A tiny West Texas town infested with frou-frou Santa Fe and Cali fake artist types. They have a couple of really good restaurants, though.

          1. MichaelSF

            Here’s a fun fact about Marfa: at one time it was the home of Ray Hegy of Hegy Propellers which was (IIRC) THE place to go to get a wood propeller for your homebuilt aircraft.

      3. heresy101

        Eugene and Portland were that way 45-50 years ago. The mist was real and it made you depressed because of never seeing the sun through the perpetual mist. Oregonians said that you wouldn’t get sunburn but would rust.

        When talking to my sister who lives east of Salem recently, she said that the mist doesn’t occur as frequently as it used to.

        The other positive change is that the farmers can’t burn their grass seed fields anymore. When we were kids in Eugene, August would bring a black smokey sky from field burning that was worse than the smoke from our huge CA wildfires.

        1. Yves Smith

          Nah, I lived 30 miles from Portland as a kid for three years. I liked the weather. You West Coast people are spoiled.

          Rains are short. Cloud cover not heavy. Ambient light level is nearly always pretty high, unlike rainy or cloudy days on the East Coast.

      4. Janie

        We chose the Salem area and do not regret it. The weather suits us just fine. The comment you quote seems hyperbolic.

    2. JTMcPhee

      And the other data collected by these voluntary additions to our existing set of set of personal-rights-debasing cell phones, FitBits, key fobs and other data suckers will also be dumped into the Matrix, right? And of course the “government-like organizations” such as insurance companies described in the “Journey Into A Neoliberal” would NEVER be used to manipulate, control and loot us, now would they?

      “But… but… I think I cold really benefit from a centralized personal medical record!” Ayup…

      And I think the notion of a “Butlerian Jihad” is comforting, that somewhere down the road we mopes would cast off our data links and supply chains, but quaint and not likely to ever happen. Remember that the long theme of the Dune series was about liberating humans from all the mechanisms of control, whether electronic, mechanical, or “divine king,” so they could go about creating their beautiful squishy unspecified vast destiny…

      I think amfortas is one of the few on a real path to an individually attractive future, though the path takes its toll on body, mind and soul, and in the end, of course, barring success with the billionaires’ efforts to overcome the end point for themselves, we are all dead… And the resources (land, water, etc.) needed for amfortas’ path don’t exist in enough quantity to accommodate maybe more than a few million of us screeching naked apes…

    3. Skip Intro

      We will get a discount from our insurance company… shortly before they become effectively mandatory. The data will be owned the company you license the monitor software from, of course.

  6. Krystyn Podgajski

    Re: “A Supercomputer Analyzed Covid-19 — and an Interesting New Theory Has Emerged”

    I think this article was posted a few days ago, and I commented on it then, but I will here again.

    The key line; “ACE normally degrades bradykinin, but when the virus downregulates it, it can’t do this as effectively.”

    So ACE (not ACE2) metabolizes bradykinin. (One of the side effects of ACE inhibitors is a dry cough and this is why.) But why does ACE slow down when it is ACE2 that is used by COVID19 to enter the cell? The authors give this response which really says nothing;

    According to the team’s analysis, when the virus tweaks the RAS, it causes the body’s mechanisms for regulating bradykinin to go haywire. Bradykinin receptors are resensitized, and the body also stops effectively breaking down bradykinin.

    Yeah, but WHY are they “resensitized”? Maybe they need to understand that ACE and ACE2 both need z inc to function. Changes in zin c and cooper have been shown to change the response to bradykinin.

    Changes in the bradykinin conformation and oligomerisation caused by a metal (copper and zinc) imbalance result in the loss of pro-inflammatory properties of bradykin-in. An excess of copper ions, more than z inc ions, af-fects signal transduction via B1 and B2 receptors (22). These observations regard the nervous tissue affected by Alzheimer’s pathology, and it is commonly known that imbalance of these metals are studied as possi-ble reasons for this disease. With regard to Alzheimer’s disease it is now necessary to explain whether changes in the ion levels are a result or a cause of disturbances, and how they affect the activity of bradykinin and its receptors.

    And by the way, this is not new, researchers have been talking about this since May.

    1. Skip Intro

      This was posted last week. I found it very interesting in that the theory seemed to answer a number of questions. I wonder which were already known to researchers. I follow along but I didn’t know about:
      – Hyuralonic acid -> hydrogel pathway
      – The blood-barrier leakage caused by bradykinins as cause for many neurological symptoms
      – Association of taste&smell loss symptoms with ACE suppression
      – Virus-induced enhanced expression of ACE2

  7. a different chris

    Wow that TAC article starts off sounding sensible and then goes completely off the rails. It’s like that guy that starts talking to you at the bus stop…

    they spread impersonal ideologies that wage a relentless war on the permanent things: God, community, and family

    First place, everything always should be questioned. (Note; you don’t get to call it a war, BTW, if nobody is -well was, sigh- firing bullets) Nothing is permanent, and if you do want it to be relatively permanent (10 generations or whatever good luck with that) you have to question it just to find the flaws and continually patch them. Everything built by man has flaws.

    And that’s not even the worst of it. He completely inverts reality in his head, coming up with a ravenous “elite” but the guy that is the alpha of doing exactly what he describes is The Trumpster himself.

    Which the supposedly good people in his “story” support overwhelmingly.

  8. .Tom

    As a subscriber to Taibbi, I was disappointed with his review of Vikki Osterweil’s “In Defense of Looting”. It is the latest in a string of articles that take an egregious example of the woke crazies and ridicules how crazy it is. Seems like he’s failing to account for Surgeon’s law. Why waste his well earned platform and audience’s attention on such crud?

    1. Carolinian

      Guess you mean Sturgeon’s Law (I had to look it up)’s_law

      And since his whole career is about making fun of bad ideas I’m not sure you are a Taibbi fan. Indeed he has said the reason for his new Substack platform is so he can make even more fun of “crud” including the media variety without the constraints of a major outlet like Rolling Stone.

      Osterweil’s book did get promoted by NPR so that’s pretty mainstream. I’d say it’s entirely appropriate to draw attention to this “looting is ok” theory as it begins to become a campaign issue and one that can hurt the Democrats badly. You may say “woke” is off the wall but it’s where we live lately.

      1. .Tom

        Yes, Sturgeon. (The man in whose honor Kilgour Trout was named!)

        And, yes, despite having read and enjoyed his books over many years and his writing for Rolling Stone, I may not be a fan any more. The Business Secrets of Drug Dealing was good but Hate Inc. was turgid. Reading through his analysis of every detail of what happened on a particular TV news pundit sessions years ago was no fun for me and seemed mostly superfluous to the point he was making.

        I actually worry about Matt’s response to life in the plague. He shows little pleasure doing the podcast with Katie Halper now. The interviews can be good but the banter with Katie seems like a chore to him. He has been quite clear that he’s coping badly and quoted “Hell is other people.” If I had to read as much Twitter and mainstream news as he does while in social isolation, I’d can see myself ending up in a similarly bad place.

        1. Laputan

          Analysis of media punditry wasn’t relevant to the point of Hate Inc? Something tells me his thesis was lost on you.

          Your strange psychological profile aside, Taibbi does seem to be a little one-dimensional and repetitive lately. That doesn’t mean any of it’s wrong. It probably has to do with the fact that not much is actually happening in this uneasy stasis. And that there aren’t many commentators associated with the left calling this kind of behavior out.

          1. periol

            Honestly I find it a little disquieting his attention has shifted away from corruption in finance and government of late.

      2. ShamanicFallout

        Highlight of Taibbi’s essay- that part where the author of ‘In Defense of Looting’ writes “The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book without permission is a theft of the author’s intellectual property. If you would like permission to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), please contact… Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.”

        We are being trolled from everywhere

    2. Edward

      I have had the same thought. I think what is happening is that the left is becoming mainstream. A large number of people are embracing left issues. This will include some who are flakes like Osterweil; kooky books like hers probably just reflect the fact that there are now a large number of people on the left, including some flakes.

      On the other hand, this example could be symptomatic of a larger problem, although I can’t tell if this is really the case. One does see mistakes being made here and there and there needs to be a feedback/corrections process. I find the “cancel culture” worrisome. The left is benefiting from the failures of the status quo, but it needs to develop a viable program that works in the real world if it is going to last. The left has the opportunity right now to make its case. Will it succeed or fail?

      1. .Tom

        I am confident it can only fail. The “left” you see emerging into mainstream is characterized by its interest in identity and culture issues. It sustains the red/blue conflict that serves oligarchic power by preventing formation of coalition of the economic underclass. A “left” that’s focused on the identity and culture touchstones serves the status quo.

    3. William Phillips

      .Tom, ya I thought pretty much the same thing. The argument he tried to counter isn’t held by anyone except the author of it and maybe the Mafia. I asked Matt why. I wouldn’t say that that article was part of a ‘string’, but the the last couple were ‘out there’. Maybe he’s feeling nervous. He shouldn’t be in the last 250 years we have a dozen of elections like the current one. Everybody knows what to do.

      1. Carolinian

        Concern trolling much? The BLM spokesperson in Chicago openly described the extensive looting in downtown Chicago as collecting “reparations.” The new book may be over the top but mainstream Dems in some instances have been looting apologists and certainly have done little to condemn it or even draw attention to its existence.

        Be assured the right wing sites are more than happy to go on about its existence and use it as a political issue.

    4. diptherio

      What bugged me about this article was that Taibbi seems content to just call out the bad/dumb takes of his woke targets, without pointing out any of the truth that they contain (possibly because he just can’t see it). When dealing with Trump, for instance, he knows how to both ridicule the man, and also acknowledge that he sometimes has a point or is playing off a real, valid issue. But when it comes to dealing with the Left, he seems incapable of that kind of nuance.

      To quote Martin Luther King Jr., quoting Victor Hugo: “If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.” My problem with Matt here is that by failing to even mention the darkness or the causes of it, he leaves the reader with the distinct impression that he is simply condemning the sins of those left to suffer darkness, and ridiculing those who try (however ineptly) to defend or explain their actions. In this, he sounds exactly like a standard-issue Republican. It’s sad, really.

      1. .Tom

        I had some similar thoughts yesterday. For example, I care about theft and property damage when it hurts people. I don’t care much if Saks 5th Ave’s store front is vandalized. It seems therefore that theft and property damage aren’t my top concern or an absolute for me.

        Simply defending property rights (with no dialectic) leads to a libertarian dead end. Simply defending the rights of people (with no dialectic) winds up in conflict with the kind of “tend your garden” conservatism that Taibbi and many reasonable people are attracted to. Osterweil is surely a bad polemicist but if you’re going to give it a book review then maybe address the underlying issues while you’re at it.

        1. Laughingsong

          “I don’t care much if Saks 5th Ave’s store front is vandalized”

          The problem I see with this, though, is that looting by its nature looks like a pretty chaotic event. When looting is happening I just don’t see that there’s a mindful dynamic to only target big, rich corporations and multinationals. Rather the dynamic looks to be that whatever place has what the looters want. So once it starts some tragedies are going to ensue.

          I seem to recall a comments discussion a couple of days ago at NC about how there’s myths surrounding the small business and whether they are sh*te employers or really create jobs etc. I don’t really know. But there are real people behind these looted places. Without knowing each individual person and their story how can we say “it’s okay that this particular person was looted and all their efforts either set way back or ruined, because they didn’t make many jobs or otherwise deserved it”

          Looting might look like it’s only violence against property but realistically it is also violence against someone’s prosperity and livelihood.

          For myself I would really not want to be looted… therefore unless I am starving or succumbing to exposure for lack or clothing or shelter (even then I would like to think I’d ask first), I would not loot. Do unto….

          1. JTMcPhee

            Lots of looting is very systematic, when it’s Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo and Boeing and BlackRock doing it, the looting being of the “property” of the mope class.

            But that kind of looting is ok because it’s just how the neoliberal project gets carried forward.

            Why pile on Taibbi? There are so few sharp analytical voices who have tried to lay out the disease processes ravaging that old body politic. Of course in internet-time, everyone is a critic, and under the woke doctrine, their voice gets equal weight (unless,, of course, it transgresses one of the proliferating woke-isms that make up our new social catechism of ‘what is acceptable.”)

            Anyone got a pointer to the place where it is laid out, just what kind of political economy “we,” that inchoate agency-less pronoun, want to live in? And are willing to do what is required, in concert with hundreds of millions of others, to bring the desired result about?

      2. Fireship

        indeed, Manichean thinking seems to be a particular hobgoblin of the American mind, If I may murder a phrase. The lack of nuanced thinking is funneling people into silos. Another sign of US decline, I’m afraid.

      3. Dirk77

        When looters first target Amazon warehouses – which are everywhere – then I might consider that looters are trying to make some point other than just making real their Grand Theft Auto fantasy. Yet I have seen none. A friend, who slaved away in an Amazon warehouse recently until he mercifully found a desk job, thought the “BLM/Antifa” rioters (his phrase) must have been paid off by Bezos to stay away. So another voter goeth to Trump. You do have a point about desperate people doing desperate things, yet all I’ve heard about locally (OR) are bored wanna-be woke types hitting soft targets and thereby striking blows for their corporate masters. So if someone is getting time on NPR defending this, then criticism and scorn is important as it helps for people to think first about their actions. I’m not the only one whose first reaction to anything Thomas Friedman says is an eye-roll, and that’s partly due to Matt.

    5. jr

      Please, I beg you sir, point the way to the non crazy Wokester. I’ve dated them, drank with them, and argued with them aplenty, you name it. Some are more spittle flecked than others but none of them can assemble even a matchstick castle of a defense of their beliefs, if that term is even applicable. Self referential dopamine loops about white cis male bad, passive/aggressive speech tactics, contra arguments framed as “angry” and “scary.” This stuff is an intellectual contagion, the play-pen of the mental mediocrities, babbling on with word and name games all the while thinking they’re making the world a better place by wearing an article of clothing from the opposite sex.

      I found Taibbi’s article valuable because it further confirms my theory that Woksterism is designed to create boundaries, to reinforce hatred, and to always, always, always avoid working class organization. It whips the blue haired “identified” fashion queer’s into a frenzy just like Trump whips his dogs into a lather with truisms, othering, and notions of community with zero material basis. I believe there are the seeds of a fascistic formation within this ideology but Dr. John C. recently made a revealing comment here to the effect of needing the military/spies on your side so I need to process that a bit.

      Bottom line: give me a conservative or libertarian to argue with every time over a Wokester. At least they understand you need to plant your flag somewhere in the war of ideas. These mental bags of rainbow flavored marshmallows, without a hint of a clue, proudly tell us they have knowledge for us. Hear our cry!

      And what is that knowledge? That all knowledge is utterly subjective, that one’s subjective experiences are one’s epistemic foundation. Think how divisive this is! No shared knowledge amongst humans, it’s all one’s “take on things”, you can safely ignore opposing points of view literally because they just aren’t yours. Except their theories, of course. An article posted on NC a few weeks back or so discussed how this pseudo rationalism is infecting even mathematics and mathematicians. A recently posting here on anthropology noted the “baby with the bath water” approach this kind of thinking is bringing to the field.

      So please, if you know some sane folks from over the Rainbow, bring em by. Let them throw down their gauntlet here. I for one would dearly love to hear what they have to say.

      1. .Tom

        I have a couple of close friends who explicitly aspire to woke. What that means to them really boils down to not being a moral, political or ethical a-hole. So while I don’t like the word and don’t identify myself with it, in their view I share their aspiration. They are quite capable of reason and thoughtful arguments and we nearly always reach common ground.

        1. jr

          They sound like good people. I’m referring to the ideologues I’ve encountered proclaiming their “wokeness” while acting and thinking in a manner antithetical to any notion of awareness. In fact, acting in a deliberately obstructive way to disrupt any actual exchange of ideas. Like the genius Taibbi wrote about. If you’re friends are so inclined, I would be genuinely interested to hear what they have to say.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Bottom line: give me a conservative or libertarian to argue with every time over a Wokester

        This is probably because Woke is a top-level religion in its own right that brooks no apostasy. But the fascinating part to me is that the canon is always a work in progress, so even the most orthodox “wokester” can suffer the auto-da-fe. “I’m sorry I did not know that Joe’s coffee shop served almond milk from almonds picked by non-union workers in Argentina!” . Maybe we’re in the “Old Testament phase” of woke, and the latest impossible needles for people to thread will be revealed when the New Testament woke is finally published.

        It’s more than likely that the belief system of your conservative or libertarian arguers starts with an Enlightenment world view, then maybe an “organized” religion, then their political and economic beliefs live on top of those foundations.

        Any way you look at it, when somebody tells me how I am and am not *supposed to think* I get the same feeling I had when I was forced every Sunday to sit in the pews and correct my thinking to a world of magic and miracles, things that burned but were not consumed (?), bodies disappearing from caves, and creatures and manifestations that could not be seen. That’s all fine, but don’t tell me if I hesitate to take the leap of faith that my thoughts are “wrong”. They tried that, and a band of people who wanted to be free from that level of thought control decided to start a little country called America.

        1. ShamanicFallout

          Apropos to this- Just saw a tweet from Ibrahim Kendi that said “Trump doesn’t want a nation of critical thinkers. He want a nation of true believers’. Wha? This must classic projection right?

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            It’s hilarious to see Trump supporters called “crazy cultists” by those on the D side huffing the woke incense fumes emanating from the altar at B & M’s mansion on Martha’s Vineyard. “No scandals under Barrack”, “Joe has worked tirelessly for the middle class”, “Kamala is a fighter for justice reform”, “Geo Bush and John Bolton are Heroes of the Resistance”. Or the best one really: “Joe and the Dems are Uniters” (and are certainly not the ones who egged on the schism through the society with the terrible swift sword of racism…”Guilty” because I’m white? Really? How “unifying”)

        1. lyman alpha blob

          That’s it! Perfect description of the wokesters.

          One of my favorite jokes from that series was about Rik’s name being spelled with a silent ‘P’ – and the resulting noun being an extremely apt descriptor for wokesters as well.

          1. ShamanicFallout

            Yes the silent ‘P’ showed up on the famous Bambi episode when they took on Footlights Oxford (featuring a young Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry and Emma Thompson) in the University Challenge. A different university challenge going on these days. But, alas, poor (P)Rik!

    6. Musicismath

      I don’t know. Osterweil’s book has been a thing over the past week or so and Taibbi is hardly the only person paying attention to it. There was a major takedown of it in the Atlantic as well, which rivalled Taibbi’s piece for archness.

      Remember that Taibbi spends a lot of time on Twitter, so likely has a different sense of what is and isn’t taken seriously. There are rather a lot of accounts on Twitter right now that consider themselves communist (though would be dismissed as radlib by anyone who actually was a communist prior to about 2019) and which really do traffic in apologetics like Osterweil’s. Younger activists really do make the “insurance covers everything anyway” argument and there seems to be a sense among many of them that things can just respawn like in video game. Taibbi, I think, is responding to that.

      1. barefoot charley

        I remember when such dreck-logic only issued from English Departments that had stopped believing in literature. As the Academy becomes more useless, it becomes more toxic.

        I just realized, we can structurally oppose Left Woke with Right QAnon as corresponding infinite inanities standing in for economic and class reasoning and solidarity, rewarding idleness with dopamine. Hmm, Deep State, or Deep TV?

    7. Katniss Everdeen

      I don’t see it as “crud.”

      I, for one, appreciate that Matt takes any and every opportunity to publish truisms like this:

      ….All sorts of people now have to take responsibility for the mere possibility of, say, a student being fleetingly discomfited by a word or image in a novel or history book, but apparently we don’t have to worry about making someone sad by burning their house down and throwing their shit on the street to be gobbled up by strangers, an act of “communal cohesion.”

      ….. Adherents to this theology are characterized by a boundless, almost Trumpian capacity for self-pity, even as they’re advocating setting you on fire. They can make wrapping fishwiches sound like digging coal in Matewan, being deprived of a smartphone like being whipped by Centurions, and they matter because everyone, including especially Democratic Party politicians, is afraid of the fallout that comes with telling them to shut the fuck up. So their “ideas” spread like cancer.

      Wherever the opportunity comes from, nobody calls a spade a spade like Taibbi.

      1. ewmayer

        Thanks, Katniss – but I think the word you’re looking for in setting up your quoted snips is the opposite of truism, “a statement that is obviously true and says nothing new or interesting”. “Penetrating insights”, maybe? [Or are we no longer allowed to use the word “penetrating” for fear of offending the #BelieveWomen wokeistas?]

    8. flora

      Taibbi is an excellent reporter with a good eye for irony and a dry wit. I enjoyed the article very much. Reading it after reading Prof. Hudson’s article on debt and rules/regulations to prevent financial predation over the centuries (and the predator’s mantra was always a variation of ‘because markets!’ ) created a startling juxtaposition in my mind.

      This ‘looting is good’ is the perfect aburd conclusion of neoliberal economics, imo. The very funniest bit in Taibbi’s article is the “looting for me, not for thee” wokester sentiment toward their own property rights. (rights based on rules, law, govt, etc etc. )

      “There are a lot of reasons this book has gained attention in the last week, from public radio promoting riots in the middle of wide-scale urban unrest, to the preposterous premise of a white middle-class author promoting “controlled arson” as a way to strike blows against “whiteness,” to its hilarious hypocrisy — as the Atlantic’s Graeme Wood points out, the book contains one of the great copyright notices in the history of publishing, considering the context:

      The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book without permission is a theft of the author’s intellectual property. If you would like permission to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), please contact [permissions site]. Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.

      That’s absolutely hilarious. Looting other peoples’ stuff is righteous, looting my stuff is wrong and violates my rights.

      Somehow this seems like the ultimate perfect description of neoliberal economics in action.

        1. newcatty

          Exactly, as as been said in different ways:

          I welcome your hate.
          Consider the source.
          I am glad that you ridicule and disrespect me.

          Just the other day, when I pointed out a specific incident of hypocrisy, imo, by a commenter’s statement on an issue, I was told to ” go back under my rock”. I was accused of some kind of bad ID politics , which was funny cause it included calling me a Pocohanas in the tirade. This response was not from the original commenter, BTW, it was from I guess his “defender”. It really seemed to hit a nerve for the person.

    9. Ford Prefect

      Re: looting

      These people are thinking way too small. That is why they are getting in serious trouble with the law. That is similar to the people who get killed when pulled over for a broken taillight, selling untaxed single cigarettes, or having dated a drug dealer at some point.

      If you are serious about looting for personal gain, but are not a financial institution that is protected by the Fed and Congress, then you need to do it at a big enough scale (millions of dollars) over long enough (decades) and without breaking a window so you earn the respect of the police and judge which means you don’t get no-knock warrants in the middle of the night or jail time when found guilty.

      This story was stunning and exemplifies the hypocricy, racism, and classism of the US legal system.

      1. Lambert Strether

        On the list I’ve seen of buildings looted or burned, I have never seen a bank. It’s possible, I suppose, to make the argument that small business owners are class enemies of the working class, but I don’t see that argument made, and I don’t see it recast in racial/identity politics terms either.

  9. Olga

    Why I will not vote for Joe Biden Al Jazeera (UserFriendly)
    A well-thought out argument, certainly worth a read:

    “But in between the two choices [Max] Weber left us, emerges a third: An ethic of ultimate responsibility. Our specific and ultimate responsibility today is not to rush to vote for a lesser evil, as I also argued about four years ago when the choice was between Trump and Clinton, but to sustain the course of critical thinking that seeks to overcome both evils. More than 300 million human beings trapped to choose between a Coke and a Pepsi deserve and must strive for a healthier choice. An entire planet at the mercy of US militarism and warmongering most certainly has everything to lose from either of these two American calamities.”

    1. David

      There must have been a point in recent western history when elections became debased into popularity contests between This Person and That Person, with the Nicest Person winning, irrespective of the likely longer-term consequences. “I’m going to vote for X because Y is an even more horrible person” is not a grown-up response, but then perhaps we shouldn’t expect one, these days. The real question is: “What direction do I want my country to go in, and how will voting for X or Y affect that?” I’ve always said that if Americans think their system is realistically capable of saving they should vote for the establishment candidate, in this case Biden. If not, they should vote for the person likely to most quickly put it out of its misery – in this case Trump.
      Weber’s essay, by the way, continues to be creepily relevant to our modern society (though I’m not sure the author has read it through). Weber distinguished between adopting or arguing for a policy while accepting responsibility for the consequences, on one hand, and adopting or arguing for a policy because “it’s the right thing to do” irrespective of the consequences, on the other. The author’s “third way” seems to be to sit in splendid detachment from the election while waiting for the fairies to arrive and change things: I can’t imagine that Weber, deeply involved in the politics of his time, would be very impressed.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I don’t think it’s 1960 as there was more going on there (it’s time for a Catholic and ww2 vet and a GOP congressman saying what southern problem), but I do think the myth of the televised debates warped the country’s collective mind, preventing people who should know better for being better. JFK loved football, and now we are subjected to profiles of the Presidents watching sports as a result.

        The politico class looks to the debate and tries to replicate Kennedy’s perceived success (it wasn’t a blowout, but we act like it was). This is partially why they don’t get Trump’s appeal to non politicos or how Sanders appeals to young people. In a sense, keeping Sanders off TV was more important than any made up attack.

        1. urblintz

          And let’s not forget that Kennedy ran to the right of Nixon re: war claiming Eisenhower and Nixon had been too “soft” (The Missile Gap”) on… wait for it… Russia (ok – the USSR and things were decidedly different then but still…)

          “In 1960, Kennedy campaigned hard against the Republican negligence that had allowed the Soviet Union to overtake the United States in producing missiles.”

          And i dislike linking to wikipedia but:

          “John F. Kennedy is credited with inventing the term in 1958 as part of the ongoing election campaign in which a primary plank of his rhetoric was that the Eisenhower administration was weak on defense. It was later learned that Kennedy was apprised of the actual situation during the campaign, which has led scholars to question what Kennedy knew and when he knew it. There has been some speculation that he was aware of the illusory nature of the missile gap from the start and that he was using it solely as a political tool, an example of policy by press release.”

          plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

          1. barefoot charley

            I’m reminded of FDR at the last minute out-peaceniking Wendell Wilke in the 1940 election, while figuring out how to charge England retail for being her shy ally. Was Roosevelt ‘aware’? Well, Wilke was furious.

            And good old Woodrow Wilson ran on keeping us out of the 1914 war.

          2. Olga

            Well, yes, there was that ‘missile gap’ thingy to gain advantage in the election (he may have actually believed it, since once in power, he commissioned a study, which found no gap).
            But at least JFK had the decency to evolve… his June 1963 ‘peace’ speech is the one to remember. The political smoke-and-mirrors games have only been regressing after that, ever deeper into an abyss (from which the US is not likely to climb out).

            1. urblintz

              True that, Olga! I do not mean to dismiss entirely the “hope” which JFK seemed to embody and his assassination was a genuine tragedy in any event and in so many ways. After all, brother Robert was Joe McCarthy’s right hand man during HUAC years and I was convinced he had changed his stripes dramatically during his POTUS run.

              I hold no such optimism that Biden has become the concerned person he’s now pretending to be… and using his dead son as an electoral prop is beyond the pale. Then again, Trump has been beyond the pale since forever. Rock meet hard place…


              (I am convinced the phrase is not racist or I’d not use it:
              “the English settlement fortified its boundaries by turning the fenceline into an impressive barrier: a ten-foot-deep ditch surrounded by eight-foot banks on each side and ringed by a thorny hedge. These ramparts were never meant to be an impregnable wall, but they did provide a daunting obstacle to raiders stealing across the borders for English cattle. Within the Pale ditch, settlers lived under the protection of the crown. But once you passed “the Pale,” you were outside the authority and safety of English law, and subject to all the savageries of rural Ireland. “Beyond the pale” then became a colloquial phrase meaning “outside the limits of acceptable behavior or judgment.””

              Feel free to correct me if anyone knows more than I.)

              1. ewmayer

                Re. beyond the pale – your “thorny hedge” description actually makes less clear than it could the true origin of the saying, which is from “pale” in the sense of a wooden stake or post used as an upright along with others to form a fence, deriving from the Latin palus, “stake”. IOW “pale” in the same sense as “impale”.

                I can understand why e.g. “niggard” makes even many people who perfectly well understand its non-race-related meaning queasy, but to look askance at “pale” used in an obviously nothing-to-do-with-pallor sense is just wokeness-gone-wild-level silliness.

          3. NotTimothyGeithner

            Kennedy’s insistence on keeping a fraudulent promise certainly almost destroyed humanity, but I don’t think it was that important in the 1960 election or it would fall under the “its time for a Catholic.” Kennedy despite his knowingly bogus claim did campaign on the we can’t go back to the isolationist mindset. We can’t go back to New England Blue Bloods.

            Kennedy and his advisors very likely had a poor big picture view of US aggression because it wasn’t really part of curriculums. “Why England Slept” is garbage, and its part of our cultural bs history because the old man printed and distributed it. They likely saw the 20’s as a period of the US return to normalcy which means leaving the world stage…myth of the US and the League of Nations failure leading to World War II.

            When I say, “its time for a catholic,” JFK wasn’t the only failure of machines and family names being elected that year. He was representative of an expansion of “whiteness” and immigrants or kids of immigrants running and winning office along with military service in one of three big wars (Rev. Civil, and World War II). Today, we have the failure of Joe Kennedy III to capture imaginations because he was running on his blue blood status. Team Blue elites looked at JFK from the debate and have removed how he was expanding “whiteness” in this country and how JFK’s schtick reinforced the message/campaign.

        2. lyman alpha blob

          Maybe a few years later. This movie on the Vidal/Buckley debates in 1968 makes a good case that our media started going downhill right there – The Best of Enemies

          Probably most here have at least seen clips from these debates – it’s the one where Vidal makes Buckley lose his cool to the point he calls him a queer and threatens to punch him in the face on national TV. That probably happens a thousand times a day in today’s various video media, but in 1968 it was a big deal.

          The big takeaway for me from this documentary was the background of it all. ABC News was a distant third in the ratings behind CBS and NBC. They knew they could not compete with the other networks covering the political conventions, so they decided to do something different to see if it would boost ratings. Having an unabashed outspoken conservative like Buckley on was new at the time. IIRC, ABC contacted Buckley first about doing a debate and asked who he’d like to debate against. He said anybody but Vidal, so of course, wanting to see sparks fly and better ratings, ABC brought in Vidal.

          Not sure whether this was the first time a newsroom went for ratings over substance (although to be fair, while the name-calling gets remembered, there is a good deal of substance to these Gore/Buckley debates) but it definitely made a splash and at the time and these debates were groundbreaking. It’s been downhill form there and now it’s about all the “news” does anymore, and today’s pundits are no Buckley and Vidal.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        perhaps a fourth way is in order…which may or may not fall under your 3rd:
        I feel Personally Responsible for My Vote.
        If i waste my vote on a “Lesser Evil”, then I’m personally Complicit in that evil…however “Lesser” it may turn out to be.(and the usual “Lesser Evil”=Corporate Dems, which, while smiling and saying nice words, look pretty evil, to me)
        My own sense of Integrity and Morality cannot abide being so complicit.
        So I’ll vote Third Party, just like I’ve done in every Preznit election since 1988, save one(Obama’s First, in which i allowed Hopium to overtake me)
        For all the talk and lecturing I’ve endured in my lifetime about “personal responsibility” and “integrity” and, indeed, “Morality”, it’s sure given short shrift when the rubber meets the road.
        I guess we’re not allowed to decide such things on our own.

        1. Edward

          There is also a fifth way: vote pairing or swapping, where a Republican and Democrat agree to vote for third parties.

          1. Robert Gray

            Given the secrecy of the voting booth, such an approach would require not only ‘morality’ and ‘integrity’ but a huge amount of trust. Would you really trust your average person-of-the-other-party to honour such a deal? I’m reminded of a story.

            There’s a village in a region famous for its white wine. One year for some special occasion a bigshot is going to come to their harvest festival, so they’ve really got to make it super-duper. The 50 vintners in the area agree on a plan: each one will contribute 10 litres of his best wine to be blended in a 500-litre tank in the village square, to be consumed on the day. One clever fellow, however, thinks ‘Why should I give my best wine, if it’s just going to be mixed with 49 others?’ So when no-one is looking, he adds 10 litres of plain water to the tank. Well, you can probably see what’s coming. On the day of the festival they opened the tap to fill the carafes with the pride of the local vineyards — and what came out was pure, clear water.

            I’ll cop to cynicism (guilty these 40 years and more) but human nature being what it is I don’t see much hope for any vote-pairing scheme.

          2. skk

            Interesting idea ! At first sight this looks like the Prisoner’s dilemma game and amenable to game theory analysis to find the dominant strategy and finding the Nash equilibrium. The thing is – one needs to define the payoffs.

            What’s the various payoffs for voting or not voting for the third parties ?

            As an example for why you need the know the payoffs check out the appearance of the well-known poker player, British physicist Liv Boeree in the final of the game “Split or Steal”. You can find it on youtube.

        2. LawnDart

          If i waste my vote on a “Lesser Evil”, then I’m personally Complicit in that evil…however “Lesser” it may turn out to be

          Well, for the Lessor Evil One, your vote wasn’t a waste;-}

          I prefer the ballot box over the bullet, but I can’t bring myself to preserve let alone support the illusion of democracy as practiced in USA– as you mentioned, it’s a question of personal integrity. Not that the party/parties are giving us alternatives, as the present system works out just fine for them.

          But recall this lesson from Soviet Russia:
          In 1988, 18,000 Communist Party members left the party.
          In 1989, 137,000.
          In 1990, at least 4,200,000 turned in their cards and quit– fully 1/4 of the party.

          These numbers were driven by a dramatic fall in living standards for most Russians.

          Like the Russian Communists, our duopoly will be driven from power once enough people quit believing in it, and I believe that day will come only when the pain seems unbearable.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Hard to fight a reductio ad absurdam though. The biggest bloc in the country, +/- 100 million people, do not vote. The second biggest bloc do not identify and register with either party. That leaves Bloc 3 and 4, trailing badly. On the Dem side we supposedly got to exercise some preferences in the primary, but these were immediately cancelled by The Man Who Would Be King, who said “I know none of you wanted her but you WILL have Kamala as president because I say so”. This of course continues in the (newly) great Democratic tradition of being anti-democratic: if the election doesn’t go your way pretend it’s the Russian’s fault; if the plebes reject your candidate at the ballot box just ram it down their throats anyway.


            One of the major parties could offer the 100 million people not voting *a reason to go out and vote for them*. What a concept.

        3. Ken Murphy

          I’ve also been voting FOR my beliefs since 1988, which was my first opportunity to vote in a presidential election. I, however, considered Obama and rejected him when he rolled over on the FISA bill. Don’t know what kind of quid pro quo had been promised, but I could tell there had been one. That told me Obama was a politician, not a statesman.

          I generally frame things in terms of statesmen vs. politicians. Politicians are okay in the House of Representatives, but our Senators and President should be statesmen. Another way I look at it is in the context of the French concepts of homme (man), gentilhomme (gentleman), and prudhomme (wise or prudent man). In my view we should be looking for wisdom and prudence in our leaders, not what we’re getting. Time to start looking to succeeding generations for good leadership.

          Interestingly, I had a chance to meet Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka when I used to work in private banking. NDAs proscribe me from revealing any details, but I couldn’t be bothered to leave my desk. I’d read The Art of the Deal back when I was a wet-behind-the-ears international business and economics student and could tell what kind of guy he was. Which is one that I have no interest in meeting.

          Looks like Jo Jorgenson is my candidate of choice this year.

          You know what I really miss is the League of Women Voters. I used to rely quite heavily on their local election guides, because they used to cover everyone, even the Wiccan running for County Treasurer. Their debates would have more than two guys (representing flip sides of the same debased coin) flinging shade at each other. Sigh…the good ol’ days.

      3. Cat Burglar

        The author of the Al-Jazeera article is right about Biden, but seems to be making his electoral decision decision solely on being intellectually consistent. But this is a practical political decision with consequences we all have to live with, and with limited options available, like they always are in practice.

        Figuring out what to do has been a real head-scratcher, but it has been useful to try see all the options, and placing them within time (and not putting it in some kind of atemporal moral world). Chomsky justifies his vote for Biden by pointing out it is just one political decision during a life of being constantly politically active, and being active is more important than the vote. For him, Biden opens more options for action. But I remember how fast the antiwar movement disappeared after Obama was elected, and I suspect that there might be a big media effort to quiet any protest movements under Biden in the same way.

        Voting seems like a bigger gamble than usual this time. Living in a blue state makes the choice easy — I am voting Green. I agree with most of the Green policies. My rationale: if Biden is going to win the state, I want him to win weakly, because left voters deserted in large enough numbers to make it problem for him. Voters in red or swing states have a much harder decision to make, and I wonder what I would do in such a case.

        1. Michael

          Right with you!
          As I said the other day, if B&H win, it will like after 911…Let’s heal followed by Patriot Act.

        2. orlbucfan

          I live in a red, solidly crooked, corrupt state, and I will vote for neither yahoo. If I can write in, will do so. If not, will skip the POTUS space and move down ballot. The ‘Lesser of Two Evils’ con game is why there is nothing but garbage to choose from.

    2. KLG

      Can’t remember if a link to this has appeared on NC, but another take on Biden by Studebaker:

      My PMC colleagues are generally aghast that I can’t see much practical or functional difference between Trump and Biden, except that Biden will be the more effective evil, especially compared to a lame duck Trump on January 21st…Gonna lose more friends this year, I reckon.

    3. Edward

      Many Americans are fed up with the status quo. They want change, such as some of the reforms Sanders advocated. Despite the success of Sanders and the movement around him, Biden and the rest of the establishment seem to be trying to get away with no change. That is why they keep trotting out election gimmicks instead of discussing real issues. They want to fob voters off with a fuss about Trump’s alleged bad words about the military, or vignettes about Biden’s concern for a kid’s stuttering problem, and hope everyone forgets about Single Payer health care or the wars or campaign finance reform.

      1. The Rev Kev

        And the 1994 Crime bill and voting & pushing for the Iraq war and having student debt inextinguishable in bankruptcy and the plagiarism and the lying and all the rest of it too. With some people when you look at their careers, there is a case to be made that it would have been better if they had never been born at all because of all the damage that they have done to other people’s lives.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        One problem is Americans want easy answers. Obama for example claimed our problems were inour heads and could be solved with prayer and basic conflict resolution classes (2004 DNC speech). This is why the large Democratic primary was problematic. Instead of Biden being Biden, he was hidden behind vanity candidates auditioning for an MSNBC weekend job or to replace Chris Hayes.

        Biden as VP with his age and eventually the SS Clinton simply avoided criticism for years. If you onay watch msm sources which tend to only produce news content in the moment, you might think Biden is a guy who rides the train. It seems you would be getting a generic Democrat with none of the Bernie Bros. Even if they are charging $25 for signs, people are finding out what Biden is. They won’t look at themselves, but he is a pos. Now that McCain is dead, Biden is behind B. Clinton, Cheney, Shrub, and maybe Trump on the list of monstrous people. Though Trump with the affirmation of a reelection would be particularly loathsome, so I would argue Biden has caused much more damage through this point. The damage to infrastructure and bureaucracy in the 90’s severely reduced any ability to react in a cohesive way eve. If we wanted to.

        To a certain extent, Biden sounds easy especially for PMC. Their housing values and stocks were high, and with increasing segregation in communities through economics not official policy, they don’t even have to suffer white guilt anymore.

        1. Edward

          Some people want to blame Trump for all our problems. Biden’s resume of disasters also includes his role as VP in the post-2008 bailouts. The 2008 non-reforms have set this country up for another crisis. This was a deliberate choice; after 2008 there was no excuse for not restoring Glass-Steigall.

          1. Ken Murphy

            “ This was a deliberate choice; after 2008 there was no excuse for not restoring Glass-Stegall”

            Agreed 1000%. I remember complaining to my fellow analysts that repealing Glass-Stegall was a disaster in the making, though in my view at the time it was because the U.S. didn’t have the kind of merchant banking culture that would allow the changes to be used effectively. In any event, it was a license for the looting to begin (and for me to start looking for a way out of the financial industry).

            What I didn’t realize at the time was that Phil Gramm’s little derivatives/bankruptcy sleight of hand in return for a cushy job at UBS was setting the groundwork for what would become the 2008 derivatives near-explosion that was only doused with [family-blog]tons of taxpayer-funded liquidity.

            What 2008 should have been was the next generation S&L crisis, which would have led to a partial resetting of the financial industry as well as a transfer of assets into new hands, which is healthy for the economy overall even if a few rentiers take it in the shorts. There is, after all, a risk to all that reward…

          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Making The Orange One solely and uniquely personally responsible for every problem in the known universe has a wonderful side-effect: it lets everyone else off the hook

            So Cuomo gets to be the Hero of Covid, Liz gets to be the Hero of Native Americans, Joe gets to be the woke one fighting tirelessly for the working class, and Kamala gets to be the one best placed to reform policing. Dems bringing in hardcore Bush-era war mongers means nobody questions what Joe did to make sure the Iraq War happened, they were hailed as “luminaries” so the policy must have been a wonderful one…no?

        2. Olga

          I think you’re right about wanting ‘easy answers,’ and it being a problem. It strikes me that several aspects of the modern US mislead much of the population into this belief:
          (a) the newness of this country (i.e., barely 250 yrs as an organised political entity, so a limited time to go through the various struggles most other societies had to go through);
          (b) during that time, the seemingly unobstructed rise (well, at least, rise for some);
          (c) generally, fairly low level of education (and by education I mean, in part, the kind of wide-ranging sense of the world and history that would allow one to deduce/see cause and effect, and no or few analytical skills);
          (d) the relative isolation of the country; and
          (e) the refusal, or inability, or unwillingness of the politicians to tell the truth (otoh, when Carter did tell the truth, he was mercilessly attacked for the ‘malaise’ speech – proving that there’s no benefit to a politician to tell the truth… kinda no way out).
          Oh, and a never-ending stream of distractions…
          Hard to see what will bring change to such a society.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I would add:

            -Trump is a businessman. Lets run government like a business.
            -Hillary is the most qualified evah!
            -Mittens knows how to run things.
            -McCain is a maverick
            -Shrub is going to ask daddy’s friends for advice.
            -Even the Third Way’s whole argument is all they have to do to win is to brutalize the poor and everything will fall into place magically.

            Neither one of these arguments fits any elected office which are positions of moral leadership. The promise is they’ll do a good job, and you (the royal you as in everyone) can go back to sleep. If you pray, good things will happen. Its not terribly dissimilar to the Prosperity Gospel.

            Sanders’ message was to work for other people. He actually demands more than decency which is the bare minimum.

            I disagree about age of the country. I mostly blame television, but the state religion of the US has become a bizarre belief the US has an intrinsic goodness. People don’t think because it would undermine the belief. To be perfectly honest, I have a low opinion of most foreign electeds too, but many of them are under much newer governments and systems. They aren’t dealing with a compromise between slave and non-slave states for an agrarian society which was undergoing massive population growth which they didn’t grasp.

          2. Amfortas the hippie

            starvation might do it, if it’s widespread enough.
            internecine war on our doorsteps, too.
            it’s sad that that’s the sort of thing it seems like it will take to shake the average american out of his or her stupor.
            but everything for at least my lifetime has been leading exactly to this point.

            related and enlightening factoid on this very thing:wife had a student the other day fail a little geography quiz with a zero…as in he got nothing right.
            quiz was a matching exercise, where they were expected to draw a line from the word “argentina” to the place on the map. simple as passing gas…but this guy got a zero.
            she can’t get over it, as it’s the simplest quiz in the whole semester(Spanish I)…and the guy is not enfeebled or anything.
            Dude couldn’t find Mexico.

            1. LifelongLib

              I remember my parents saying in the 1960s that kids these days just don’t know geography, but we knew more than your wife’s student…wonder if easier access to books and now the internet has made it unnecessary (or at least unfashionable) to do the memorization that used to be routine. Pretty sure my son (age 35) couldn’t tell you when the U.S. Revolutionary or Civil Wars were fought, but if he wants to know the answers are a click away…

            2. howseth

              If the dude was not enfeebled sounds like something for a neurologist or psychiatrist – someone that ignorant – or stupefied is hard to believe – without something being off kilter. Extreme allergy to maps? Or maybe he resented the test – a rebel without a cause? Maybe he has auditory talents instead. Fascinating, – or just a depressing vision of someone without curiosity.

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                she’s settled on the “Lack of Curiosity” explanation, because it fits the best.
                sad as hell…and even sadder that it’s apparently not that uncommon…and not just with geography.
                (as the Rev shows, below)

            3. The Rev Kev

              There are any number of video clips on YouTube where ordinary Americans in the streets are asked to show where certain countries are on a map but fail big time. For this I do not blame those people but the degradation of education in America over the decades. Here is an example of this type of video where one young girl couldn’t even identify America on a map-


              1. howseth

                Holy Sh*T. I take back my remark above. All those seemingly ordinary people totally stymied by a world map to name ANY country! They were dressed fine, they spoke language fine. I’m sure they can navigate around the geography of their smart phones with ease.
                I must examine my assumptions. I do. Examine them more. I feel like I was slapped on the head.

                1. Wukchumni

                  Memorization skills just aren’t there anymore, why bother when a machine can do it for you…

                  What, you didn’t think there was a long term price to be paid by attaching ourselves to this tether?

    4. temporal

      We are being offered the chance, once again, to pick the lesser evil.

      War with China. War with Russia. Pick one or you will have wasted your vote.

    5. dcblogger

      my Twitter feed used to have plenty of “Bernie people need to stop with the purity tests and support Biden.” I have not seen one of those posts in weeks. but maybe that is just me. In any case, I hope his supporters do not return to that every ineffective tactic.

      1. Sailor Bud

        Well, the Democrats have destroyed, utterly, any pretense of voter shaming being even tenuously legitimate anymore. At least we have that consolation.

        I’m a very unprovocative person, so I have to resist the urge to laugh in the faces of my centrist friends trying to coax me via guilt to vote Biden, or – for that matter – anyone trying to coax me into voting for anything this election.

      2. Cat Burglar

        I loved it when they used the purity meme!

        I told them I would sell my vote in a minute to any sleazy opportunist ward-heeler for that got me single-payer, free public education, and an end to global military hegemony. Maybe disinter James Curley or Boss Tweed to do the job. I mean, let’s make a deal!

        That usually quieted them down.

        1. LifelongLib

          Boss Tweed had to do more for his constituents (patronage etc.) than any politician does today. He got his cut of everything but understood that he also had to give back to the voters. Nowadays the giveback is to somebody else….

    6. Pookah Harvey

      Is it possible that Sanders, West, Chompsky, Davis, Williamson understand that by refusing to choose between evils you may be embracing both? It is emotionally fulfilling to say you are taking “ultimate responsibility” while actually taking none. As George Carlin explained:
      “I don’t vote…. (I) am in no way responsible for what these politicians have done and have every right to complain about the mess that you (voters) created.”

      So taking “ultimate responsibility” seems to be just an excuse to b*tch.

      1. LawnDart

        In a system plagued by gerrymandering, dark money, election fraud, untrustworthy vote-tallying, and byzantine entry requirements to candidacy, what is it that you suggest? Complicity?

        1. Pookah Harvey

          Hmmm, is that b*tching I hear? Lucky thing you are not responsible for any of that. Sure wouldn’t want to vote for someone and then try to make their life miserable by holding them accountable and pushing them in a direction they don’t want to go. Voting is one small step, activism makes change.

          1. periol

            I really don’t think activism can make meaningful change in today’s USA. The best activism can hope for is to work the soil in preparation for shocks to the system, when meaningful change maybe possibly could be implemented. IMHO that’s the best-case scenario.

            You can vote for Biden or Trump all you want, but good luck holding them accountable and pushing them in a direction they don’t want to go. The system currently has many, many tricks up it’s sleeve to neuter your activism.

            1. Pookah Harvey

              So just as Bernie and the progressives have moved the Overton window further to the left than we have seen in a half century now we should give up?

              PS Tell it to the right-wing militias.

              1. periol

                I don’t think the Overton window was moved to the left by “Bernie and the Progressives”. If there was any movement, the windows was “inched” left, perhaps, maybe. What has this “move” accomplished, exactly?

                The right-wing militias are tools for those in power. When they have outlived their usefulness they’ll learn some hard lessons.

              2. Suburbancontrarian

                The problem is conflating identitarian politics, which not accidentally are embraced by the PR departments of multinational corporations, with populists demands to address unprecedented income inequality.

                Sadly–and I stand with Adolf Reed on this–the former not only fails to address the latter but in fact strategically undermines it, to the worst detriment of Black people, who would benefit the most from income redistribution plans.

              3. pasha

                the overton window has definitely moved left over the past five years — on larger and more active government, taxation of the wealthy, busting monopolies, workers rights, reasonable gun control, increasing acceptance of MMT — and bernie deserves a great deal of the credit. so why stop listening to him now?

                we are presently in our worst crisis since wwII, perhaps since the great depression. trump has shown that he and the republicans are unable to deal with this crisis. given control of congress and the presidency, we have a greater opportunity for implementing some of the left’s goals than we have had in our lifetimes. to vote for trump or a third party is to throw away this opportunity in the hopes that maybe the window will move further left on its own by 2024

                1. periol

                  “we have a greater opportunity for implementing some of the left’s goals”

                  Please share this opportunity you see. Biden and Harris were specifically placed to keep meaningful change from happening.

                  Funny that you don’t even mention the goal that really united “Bernie and the Progressives” – M4A. No real meaningful change is on the way.

                2. lyman alpha blob

                  given control of congress and the presidency, we have a greater opportunity for implementing some of the left’s goals than we have had in our lifetimes.

                  That would be true if you happen to be only ten years old.

                  Obama had the presidency and Congress when elected in 2008 and the Democrat party didn’t do squat. Some of us haven’t forgetten that just yet.

                3. HotFlash

                  so why stop listening to him now?

                  Uhn, that’s backwards. Seemed like Bernie was listening to me and a lot of other people back then. Oddly enough, that is what I expect from a person who wants to represent me. Now I’m telling him, not gonna vote for evil.

      2. dcblogger

        actually I just don’t like those posts and think they were counter productive. As AOC observes, the real swing voter is the non-voter who could be persuaded to show up if anyone asked. Also, I live in DC, Biden has a lock on those EC votes.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          who could be persuaded to show up if anyone asked.

          This would require full time organizers/field offices, campaign paraphernalia (brochures and items to identify staff/volunteers), and volunteers. If money went to this, it couldn’t go to Democratic strategists or the Lincoln Project.

          The trouble is the costs of these items, though pricey up front, are known within reason. Is James Carville going to cut turf and work the phones for under $20-40k? Landlords will give deals to campaigns instead of the space sitting especially since the campaigns won’t want anything special. What was Hillary’s ad deal with MSNBC? Unless she really was buying favorable coverage, every dollar spent on MSNBC to raise awareness of the Hillary campaign was thrown on the same fire as Jeb!’s campaign money. The slogan is “Hillary didn’t go to Wisconsin”, but the problem was resources were deployed to running up the score but to effectively the simple request for people to vote for you which is done by face to face interactions. Obviously, a Presidential candidate can’t do this, but they can create the conditions where people do it for them.

          Its hard work, and the big donors can see ad buys but they can’t see a person knocking doors. A campaign designed to appeal to the unseen has no immediate return on the investment of large donors. Certain campaigns become flushed with cash too late and ads are all they can do.

          An actual field campaign may not seem sexy, but it would clear up the various problems with registrations and where people vote which crop up in between elections and it means less savory actors know they are being watched. People can be prepared for long lines, have plans for election day shenanigans, and so forth. Kerry lost Ohio by 10,000 votes. Obama ’08 had 25,000 more votes in Cincinnati alone than Kerry, and the 2004 election was on all the time. Kerry had tons of cash when you include outside groups on the air in Ohio.

          1. HotFlash

            He could do it on the cheap. All he has to do is promise Medicare4All, free public colleges, universities, and trade schools, forgiveness of student and medical debt, legalizing marijuana, criminal justice reform, that kind of thing. Perhaps he even has a good friend who could help him draw up a platform.

    7. skk

      I don’t know whether this has been linked to – but the London Review of Books has a review of the book:

      Yesterday’s Man: The Case against Joe Biden
      by Branko Marcetic.

      the review is by Christian Lorentzen.

      The money quote for me was:

      ‘It puts me in a precarious financial position when you fellows don’t pay,’ Joe Biden wrote to his tenants when he was a landlord in his mid-twenties. ‘To get right down to it, I need money quickly. Please get in touch with me this weekend so that we can make some definite arrangements and I can get myself out of the hole.’ Just out of law school, Biden had borrowed money from his father-in-law and bought three houses, renting out one to students (‘you fellows’) from the University of Delaware. Biden and his wife, Neilia, lived in a cottage on the grounds of a [father-in-law’s] swimming club in exchange for managing the pool.

      So, a cad. Not as far down the slope as Trump who’s a scoundrel but a cad nevertheless. A pox on both of them.

  10. Wukchumni

    Everyone was drenched in the virus’: was this Austrian ski resort a Covid-19 ground zero? Guardian

    I read the new rules and guidelines for Alterra Countain Company, which owns 15 mostly higher end ski resorts, and they require reservations and minimized loading onto chairs & gondolas which would mean that there would have to be 2/3rds less skiers/boarders on the mountain to have some semblance of what it was like before, and busy weekends, yikes!

    My cadre of over the hill San Diegans is eager to get back on the slopes, i’m more cautious as the first outbreaks happened not just at this Austrian ski resort, but at damn near every one.

    My first inkling that something was very very wrong, was a group of Angelenos skiing in Italy in late February…

    LOS ANGELES, Calif. (KABC) — Cory, Dennis, and Brian Angel of Tarzana traveled to Italy in late February for a ski trip. Little did they know that all 13 skiers on the trip would catch novel coronavirus and accidentally bring it back to Los Angeles.

    1. periol

      Heaven forbid Trump had the guts to ban those wealthy losers from coming back to the USA. Cory, Dennis, and Brian aren’t Angels, they’re demons.

    2. rd

      Its not the chairs, gondolas, and skiing that cause the Covid spread. It is the apres-ski partying in close quarters that spreads it. Also, stuffing everybody into a small bus to get someplace will do it as well.

      Similarly, just hanging out on a beach doesn’t spread the virus. It is the clustering in the bars and restaurants. The same thing is going on at the universities where bars and dorm parties are causing spread.

    1. Pat

      And now a vital part of Joe Biden’s future presidency. That alone might be a reason to never vote for Joe Biden. Any presidency that advances future political prospects of Pete and Kamala should be killed with fire.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        You would think so, but I feel he has developed like Republicans has developed a few political sugar daddies who believe he’s Super JFK and will fund him to finish fourth in early primary states until the sun expands. Hell, they’ll probably buy up a printing of his book to goose the numbers.

        1. edmondo

          Buttigieg is one of The Chosen. He’ll be around forever. Why not? He’s pliable, has zero principles and proved during the Night of the Long Knives, that he will do as he’s told.

          I expect to be voting against him for president in 2024 or 2028.

      2. Pat

        Only if we make sure to road block him. His fifteen minutes of fame should have ended after his mayoral term instead he became one of the new faces of the Democratic Party.

        He and his husband both have books coming out. He has secured a teaching gig at Notre Dame, where he is sure to develop even more contacts. And Biden has just announced that he is joining his campaign in a vital role.

        Similar to Clinton and Biden and Bush and Cheney and… he will keep rising from the well deserved oblivion.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        But he has the wrong timbre. It’s part of the superficial nature of much of the politico world. It can only mimic the Obama show which was also superficial, but it played to Obama’s strengths.

        Then there is O’Rourke. He seems like a low energy guy, so he starts jumping on tables and going “double dumb a@@ to you to” to address the criticism. And it didn’t work.

  11. anon

    A John McCain republican: Vote yes for every opportunity to send young men and women to war. Same as a Joe Biden democrat.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Did you see some of the names giving Mayor Pete support in that tweet feed? People like Mia Farrow, Kamala Harris, The Lincoln Project, Rob Reiner, Beto O’Rourke. What else is to be said? They all of them belong together.

      1. Carolinian

        Of course my senior senator was once McCain’s best buddy and now a Trump ally so Republicans may not see this the way Pete and Mia Farrow want them to. Given Republican support for Trump is something like 90 percent is this attempt to divide and conquer the GOP likely to be successful? Surely the Dems should be going after independents and getting younger Dems to turn out and vote.

        And there’s no accounting for Hollywood. I watched the latest season of Larry David’s HBO show as Covid fare, and while it’s very funny, watching all these rich people (they go on about it) wander about Los Angeles doing aimless things suggests that these are Republicans pretending to be Democrats. Should some ghostly reincarnation of FDR propose raising the top tax rate back to ninety percent I doubt that they would like it.

        Which is to say you can be a FDR Democrat or a Third Way Clinton/Obama/Biden Democrat.

      2. urblintz

        Mia Farrow – nutball x10 on so many fronts

        Rob Reiner – deranged anti-Russian xenophobe/racist

        defenders of the odious war monger, HRC

        ’nuff said

      3. Geo

        This crowd:

        Coastal Elites is a socially distanced comedic satire that spotlights five characters breaking down and breaking through as they grapple with politics, culture, and the pandemic.
        Starring Bette Midler (Hello, Dolly!), Kaitlyn Dever (Unbelievable, Booksmart), Dan Levy (Schitt’s Creek), Sarah Paulson (American Crime Story), and Issa Rae (HBO’s Insecure), this special presentation explores our current world of deeply divided politics and the universal pursuit of human connection.

        1. ShamanicFallout

          Why, Geo, why? I was just about to have a nice Sunday dinner when I made the huge mistake of actually watching that trailer. Gives real meaning to the work “spoiler”. I am not hungry anymore

    2. bob

      Make sure to get in front of a camera and call your wife a C word too. That really shows off the class that we expect from the republicans and the democrats that love them

  12. The Rev Kev

    “‘Everyone was drenched in the virus’: was this Austrian ski resort a Covid-19 ground zero?”

    Interesting legal theory suing that place. Would that mean that people could sue Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for going ahead with Spring Break back in March? Everybody knew what was going to happen next but DeSantis wanted the loot. There were a lot of tourist places and ships that wanted to ignore the pandemic because their economy depended on visitors. Which ones do you punish, especially when governments are complicit?

    1. Tom Doak

      That is a fine article about the scale of the problem, and simultaneously the most depressing thing I have read in a while. By point #3 it was emphatically clear that our political system will not deliver any of the proposed reforms necessary to prevent a Depression.

      1. Basil Pesto

        indeed, and when he says this:

        No spirit of radicalism animates these ideas. They are not driven by ideology nor by any past commitment to any agenda.

        (which greatly appeals to me personally) not only do I believe him, but the contrast of his reasonable ideas that should at least be considered in good faith, with the reality of the incumbents’ refusal to even countenance them, illustrates just how radical and ideological those incumbents are, but their cockamamie ideas about money and the economy have been normalised. Yikes.

        And the situation’s not nearly as grim here in Australia in general, but we have a worrying tendency to follow America’s lead in many matters, and that’s the way it’s been going as far as politica economy goes. We’re an extremely imitative country.

        P.S. now’s maybe as good a time as any to say, confidentially, that I’m a great admirer of your work. Indeed in January I was using one of your books to plan a summer holiday to the UK, which sadly didn’t come to pass.

    2. VietnamVet

      This article is great counter to the ambiguousness of Wokenism or Conspiracy Theories.

      Classical economics earned the social science its bad reputation from its devout aid in helping the rich get richer at cost to everyone else. This article, on the other hand, deals in reality. The USA is in the worst crisis since the first American Civil War; 1) a pandemic that the USA is unable and unwilling to control that is projected to kill 400,000 this year and 2) the resulting depression that can only be countered by redistribution of wealth.

      Donald Trump has not and cannot lead the USA out of the disaster. Joe Biden, after the great fall, can’t put the Empire together again, will do nothing, except tack on four more years onto the Twenty Year War.

      The human mind is great at avoiding unpleasantness. But, still, unless government by and for the people is restored; the United States will in a few short years be the India/Brazil of North America. This will be such a great collapse, a second Civil War in a nation with 3000 nuclear warheads may become unavoidable. The current President encouraging violence in order to stay in the White House doesn’t help.

  13. Wukchumni

    As second heat wave sears California, experts say health impacts will worsen with climate change LA Times
    Rotisserie League Notes:

    The forecast now has parts of the SFV hitting 120 today although the high heat will be short lived and temps will be 25 degrees less in just a matter of days, but what about a week straight of it with no air conditioning as the grid simply done got overwhelmed?

    We’re 72 degree people with really no coping mechanism aside from going to the beach (who lives in a thick-walled adobe creating natural cooling in LA-aside from Pio Pico*?), where mercifully it’s only in the mid 90’s, and with so many human beans glomming together, there’s a little virus to worry about, but that’s a down the road problem.

    And then there’s all that concrete & asphalt everywhere to recreate the effects of a convection oven, uh LA la!

    Supposed to be 111 in the Sierra foothills and in the high 80’s here in the higher climes, with the smoke so thick you’d be excused in thinking we are all respiratory test dummies.


    1. kareninca

      It is 106 degrees where we are in Silicon Valley, but we live in a ground floor condo unit with a unit above us as insulation. And we keep the shades drawn when the sun is out. And there are trees around the unit. So we are actually cool in here. Insulation and shade make a huge difference. The upper level units are uninhabitable. When we bought the place it didn’t seem so nice since it was cave-like, but I chose it over a upper unit so the dogs wouldn’t have stairs in their dotages and so their romps wouldn’t bother people below. So this benefit was luck, but should be kept in mind by anyone buying.

  14. John Beech

    The guy writing in Al Jazeera regarding ‘not voting for Biden’ makes a more cogent argument than all the news shows on Earth. Me? Since Sanders was once again rejected by the powers that be, then it’s going to be Trump again. After all, better the Devil I know than a politician so bankrupt as to steal the words of others.

    Of course, the news has been non-stop in opposing Trump and illuminating him for the disgusting human being he is, whilst at the same time, conveniently ignoring the good parts. Seriously, a Nobel for Obama and nothing for the UAE-Israel pact?

    Anyway, the weak minded only hear what they want to hear and thus, many people have decided life will be better with Biden. All I can say is vote your conscience but mine tells me Biden is exactly who he has always been. I feel Biden remains the racist who opposed school busing in the early 70s (at the time of integration), the guy who eulogized the ne plus ultra of racist politicians (Strom Thurmond, SC), the racist who pushed through the crime bill of the 90s, and is a guy who will do or say anything to get elected. Ditto Harris, (except she’s probably not a racist).

          1. LifelongLib

            More or less true in the U.S. (although I suspect there are a lot of nuances we other ranks aren’t aware of). Maybe not so true in e.g. Europe where family heritage still counts for something but may not include a huge amount of money?

  15. Brian (another one they call)

    I have noticed that no one in government is worth the price of having them in government. The idea that we would have a voice with two senile old men as the only options is sad and perfectly to plan for the continuing destruction. All while the real looters are doing so with impugnity, from inside the goverment. One candidate doesn’t like war but is otherwise completely corrupt and a blithering idiot. The other likes war and is completely corrupt and a blithering idiot.
    Some choice eh? I know my state eliminated non party candidates after the turn of the century unless they pass a threshold. What am I if I vote for one of these two parties on offer? I will write in someone that if elected will not serve. An honest person.

  16. bob

    If only all of the republicans would call their wives a c&nt in front of a camera, like the sainted John McCain, everyone would realize how great the america of tomorrow will be

    Pete “CIA” Buttigieg

  17. chuck roast

    Der Spiegel: “We Are Witnessing the End of Independent Central Banks”

    I guess I should have read the small print on David Marsh…Monetary Policy Expert. I thought that it might be an eye-opener on how central banks operate independent of ordinary human beings, and how governments might finally be moving to curb these bank’s enthusiasm for slavishly serving the ruling classes. Nope. It was all about how inflation is lurking in the weeds and the banks are ignoring this problem. He says that the Fed is taking on the “new” task of fighting unemployment which he insists is the role of the politicians. Excuse me! I thought that the Fed had a dual-role…controlling inflation and maintaining full employment. Maybe I’m missing something. Has the Fed, at some time in the past, officially canned its inflation/employment policy and only now re-appropriated it? Or perhaps Marsh and Der Spiegel are simply adding a new chapter to the bulging book on monetary and austerian orthodoxy. Today’s must-not read.

    1. Grant

      Since private banks create most of the money, since there are clearly issues in regards to effective demand and also in regards to potential problems in the real economy (producing stuff), since we have a full blown environmental crisis that is largely a non-market affair, how exactly do we deal with our largest societal issues without pretty comprehensive economic planning and how can we really do what we need to do if we continue to rely on private banks and their credit money creation? I mean, how many economists with space in well known papers still use things like the loanable funds theory and ISLM? How many have delusions as far as monetizing those non-market environmental impacts? We have to choose between capitalism and an economic system that is actually sustainable. The time when we can use models based on assumptions radically violated in reality has run out. We should have listened to Joan Robinson at the end of her life and just did a “spring cleaning” in economics.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Iran looks to China as US sanctions bite”

    I think that the Iranian constitution forbids foreign bases on their soil but I wonder what would happen if the Iranians invited the Chinese Navy to “share” one of their naval bases so it is right in the Gulf. That would drive Washington absolutely bonkers that.

  19. Wukchumni

    At Least 4 Boats Sink During ‘Trump Boat Parade’ in Texas, Officials Say NYT (re Šilc)
    That’s similar to the amount of Japanese aircraft carriers lost @ Midway, but then we had broken the Japanese code and knew they were coming, what’s the Trumpist excuse?

    1. Ford Prefect

      They were swamped by wakes from bigger Trump-supporting boats. An excellent analogy for the entire US economy right now.

  20. jr

    Re: No Go for Lecherous Joe

    “ Voting for Biden is voting for the very foundation of a political culture that has a whole platoon of Trumps and Bidens waiting to surface.”

    Let it ring from the mountain tops!

    Joe B = Tom C!

  21. polecat

    To think differently ..

    from Holeybrained Joe, and his varitable cabinet of knife-wielding puppet’$-ears.. ?? yeah sure. That’s the ticket!


  22. tongorad

    From the I-deeply-regret-every-penny-I-donated-to-his-campaign dept:

    Sanders: America must be prepared for when Trump refuses to leave office –>>

    Sanders is planning a series of actions aimed at raising awareness of the possibility of Trump resisting leaving office if he does not win. The senator will give a speech on the issue in the near future, and send an email to his massive list of supporters about the topic on Friday.

    “What we have got to do in the next two months is to alert the American people about what that nightmarish scenario might look like in order to prepare them for that possibility and talk about what we do if that happens,” he said.

    According to an embargoed copy of his coming email, Sanders is planning to state, “This is not just a ‘constitutional crisis.’ This is a threat to everything this country stands for.”

    I don’t imagine this will go over well for any audience other than true OrangeManBad believers. Who is this suppose to impress and persuade?

        1. Quentin

          Horrible. Hysterical. Sanders get a hold of yourself. You almost seem to be inciting insurrection. You’ve lost your senses. Another election as in 2016: if they could only both lose.

          Here I can get something else about Sanders off my chest. His usage of the word ‘existential’ as scare modifier of threat is distressing. Before Netanyahu I’d not heard anyone use the turn of phrase. The word ‘existential’ is/was not in common usage. How many people even know what the word might mean?

          Trump is like a virus/bacteria, take your pick, that disturbs otherwise fine minds. Sanders has let himself be infected. He also seems to believe pure nonsense like Putin is running Trump’s show. Stop it Bernie and act your age. Please don’t deteriorate to Biden’s level….because Trump is Evil Even someone as renowned as Chomsky announces that Trump is worse than Hitler because he will destroy the world with his climate denialism. Biden fracks…so what? He’s not Trump.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Paging Mr. Alinsky…please pick up the courtesy phone.

            Just accuse the other side of doing what you are guilty of.

            So the party that did not accept the result of the 2016 presidential election…whose candidate last week said “under no circumstances should we concede”…is warning that *the other side* are the ones who will not accept the result of the 2020 election.


      1. edmondo

        The best part of being the target of a Bernie Sanders onslaught is that you can count on it being ineffective, laughable and, by the way, if you can contribute $27 that would be great. Not all charlatans are named Trump.

    1. voteforno6

      It is entirely possible that Sanders believes that the Orange Man really is that bad. Given how the Trump administration and his followers have behaved, it does have some foundation in reality.

      1. Zagonostra

        What Bernie has to say has lost the valance it once had. Now when I hear his rhetoric my filters are working overtime, to the point that everything he has to say is heavily discounted. It’s not as bad as the visceral dry heaves i get when I hear Obama though.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        After being shivved by the DNC not once, but twice, it’s Trump not abiding by the rules that Bernie is worried about?!?! Come on, man!

        1. anon in so cal


          There are former Bernie Sanders supporters on Twitter who have taken to blocking Bernie. It’s that bad.

      3. Ford Prefect

        The big question is whether or not Barr is focused on this. It will take some innovative legal justifications to send in the Feds into polling stations. There are so many polling stations, that it would require a massive diversion fo manpower. Trump doesn’t seem to understand that Sheriff Departments and State Troopers don’t report to the President.

        I don’t think the military would be interested in playing in this sand box. Trump would have to invoke the Insurrection Act to mobilize the National Guard into the states. His main manpower would likely have to come from the FBI and Homeland Security ICE and Border Patrol agents. In general, they are not well-positioned to address local polling stations.

        I don’t think state governors and secretaries of state are going to take kindly to Trump claiming that they are incompetent and denouncing any certifications of the results that they announce. Many of these state officials are Republicans and have pushed back hard on any attacks on their electoral process, other than gerrymandering and voter ID laws.

    2. Pookah Harvey

      Yep,that Sanders character is laughable. It is not like a major right wing thought leader would say something like:
      “The left is looking to create a coalition of minority victims that equals 51 percent so they can loot and oppress the other 49 percent. Our model is, one way or the other stop them from doing that.”
      The only problem is that is exactly what Dinesh D’Souza said today while talking about the rise of armed right-wing militias.

    3. anon in so cal


      After Dems effectively refused to honor the results of election 2016 by launching the multi-year Russiagate psy ops, Ukrainegate / Impeachment, etc. Bernie is parroting Hillary Clinton who basically told Biden not to concede.

      The Washington Post tweet from Sept 3:

      “Perspective: The election will likely spark violence — and a constitutional crisis.
      In every scenario except a Biden landslide, our simulation ended catastrophically.”

      What are they trying to do?

  23. Amfortas the hippie

    Rhyd Wildermuth is one of my favorite feral thinkers.
    and his take on that thorny patch of divisionary argle bargle is almost exactly where i stand on the matter of race.
    we’ll all be a lovely brown, some day.
    the current “antiracism” is like fighting against Capitalism by using Market Language and Logic.
    It’s good for a few gotcha remarks that set your opponents back for a moment, and gets you high fives from the Choir…but ultimately merely reinforces the Idea you claim to be fighting against.
    I’m czech/irish/choctaw, with rumored Bohemian Jews and a few black folks “in the woodpile”…wife is mexican, with rumored Yaqui somewhere in there…and, based on family historia, is descended in one lineage from the Borgias. Her great grandad rode with Pancho Villa, and came here to escape the noose.
    Ergo, our boys are not exactly white, and not exactly brown…”hybrid vigor!” is what our doctor said often during each of their childhoods….and Identify as Humans, to whatever degree they “identify” as anything at all aside from themselves.
    This shouldn’t be hard.
    some local racist people(white and brown, notably) occasionally take issue with their lack of “purity”…but this seems to be really just a cover for them being mad at them for something else(like being better liked by everybody,lol)
    a$$holes are gonna be a$$holes, and often need an excuse to hide their own identity as a$$holes from themselves.
    In studying racists over the years(getting harder to do, since overt racism is getting pretty rare…due to exposure, as near as i can tell)…white and brown…it appears to be something to cling to when they have nothing else to be all that proud of.
    This was certainly the case back home in East Texas…the most racist people i knew literally had nothing else…they were stupid, and knew it, clumsy and knew it, and so on.
    The second most racist people I’ve known got that way by being incarcerated…in the prison system, it seems, attaching oneself to one of the race based gangs is a matter of survival and protection. spend enough time in that world and it sometimes sticks.
    Out here, the most racist folks i know are a few of the mexican men in my wife’s familia….when i first came on the scene, i tacitly hid my knowledge of spanish(i have a weird habit of listening first), and learned the hard way what they thought of me, lol(“Guero”, “Maricon”, etc) . One day, at one of the thanksgiving get togethers, after lunch, when all the men were out in the yard with beer, practicing their rooster prance(see: machismo), i let fly with a string of texmex cussing that had all their jaws on the ground…and never had an issue with them, again…i became fully an honorary mexican that day(the women had already accepted me as such)

    this constant harping on race is counterproductive…unless the goal is to continue the division, and prevent po folks from getting together and discovering their common oppressions. This seems the most likely reason, to me, for the insane wokeratii business trying to pry it’s way into all our lives.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        He’s the Shit.
        color me smitten.
        he’s one of my faves.
        right close to where i’m at, in my wooded weirdness.

  24. Maritimer

    DAVID DAVIS: Our clumsy quarantine system is destroying livelihoods and making the UK a laughing stock… and it’s based on science as reliable as a weathervane in a whirlwind Daily Mail
    In my jurisdiction, the Government refuses to institute strict measures to control the entry of Covid through the airports. Such as, user pay testing, user pay quarantining when necessary and strict fines/penalties. If this is as serious as the Fearmongers say then forget self-quarantining.

    (Imagine a General, knowing the major attack points of his enemy, nonetheless distributing defense resources hither and yon rather than concentrating them at the points of attack.)

    So, at a major entry point for the disease the scientific experts see no need to crack down. Strange indeed……..Either stupid or some other reason.

  25. Tomonthebeach

    Steal This Book – Taibbi’s article is a reminder that even woke we still have blinders. Portland was so White Supremacy militia vs Antifa that is seemed to be staged. Is Danielson really dead? Where’s the body? Where’s Alex Jones?

    Although we are aware of the militia infiltration starting fires and looting to discredit BLM protesters, we do tend to overlook that there are also anarchists on both sides with far more destructive goals. I (we) tend to view real anarchists (as opposed to the RNC equating all Democrats as anarchists) as harmless nut cases. Nevertheless – both extreme left and right have ’em. And, nobody is likely to report on them until they blow up something big.

    1. Geo

      Sure there are loons on both sides. Years ago I was having a convo with my mother about her deep seated fears of the Black Panthers. She said back in her day they were terrifying and she was afraid they’d rise up again. I pulled up the Google-box and showed her a comparison of how many people were killed by BP’s versus the klan. Then I showed her how many people rightwing extremists have killed since McVeigh and his bombing compared to modern leftist movements. Coincidentally, a few months later the Bundy clan commandeered that BLM site (federal, not Black Lives Matter) a few towns away from her home in Oregon.

      Now when she sees how police/feds respond to Black Lives Matter protestors compared to the Bundy’s, Dylon Roof, the anti-face mask crowds, etc, she is horrified at how they are coddled while the leftists are met with brutal force.

      When lefties blow up a federal building, crash a plane into an IRS building, have militias training assault rifles on Feds, and shoot up churches (don’t forget rightwing loon David Adkisson’s church shooting too) then we can play the both sides “crazy fringe” game.

      I can’t stand the “anarchist” crowd on the left. I knew a few during the Iraq War protests two decades ago and they were basically just “club kids” who used protests as their party grounds. Once they got jobs they cut off their dreads and put on polo shirts. All of them became Obama obsessives and thought I was an extremist for voting third party in ‘08. (Fun times when a guy who bragged about starting fires at the Seattle WTO calls you an extremist for not voting for the banker’s president).

      But, none of them scared me like the militia/end-Times guys I knew growing up in rural America who spent their weekends battle planning how they’ll acquire gas and girls when it all goes down because gas is power and girls are currency.

      One side at least pretends their ideology care about lives. The other brags about feeling no compassion for others. And historical stats back up those claims.

        1. periol

          Watching on the livestreams the protestors don’t come across as “club kids”.

          But obviously that’s only a tiny window into the bigger picture. From Geo’s description of “club kids” they sound at least upper-middle class, and that is decidedly not the cohort of kids protesting at night. 100+ days straight? Those aren’t “club kids”.

  26. Wukchumni

    When I was hiking yesterday, i’d seldom seen the winds so full of powerful whimsy, blowing in every direction at such an extent that if I hadn’t tightened up the chin strap on my hat it would’ve ended up hundreds of feet away.

    The latest entrant to the fuego contest is the Creek Fire which has gone from barely lit on Friday to 45,000 acres in a hurry. This one threatens the infrastructure of the hydropower plants in and around Huntington and Shaver Lakes along with plenty of mountain cabins. That’s an amazing amount of growth, fueled by those winds i’d encountered, no doubt. All happening on the hottest temp Labor Day weekend ever.

  27. rtah100

    May I recommend a brief but bracing dip into the Daily Mail comments pool?

    The article is yet another neoliberal exhortation that the commuter class had better start dying for a coffee and go to Starbucks/the office or commercial real estate might have a sad. The comments are cheeringly, revivifyingly brutal and would suggest that the man on the Clapham omnibus has had his eyes opened to the possibility of living in new Jerusalem (or at least, within walking distance of it).

    This is how the revolution starts, by appealing to people’s self-interest and visibly improving their lives….

  28. Geo

    Trump’s Pick for Afghanistan Ambassador Wants to Withdraw US Troops Immediately Mother Jones. re Šilc: “go trump go”

    Wait, I thought Trump was complicit in the “Russian bounty” scandal? I wonder what nefarious compromat will be released tomorrow to perpetuate this war (and be quietly debunked and half-heartedly retracted by Friday). Or maybe Assad can “gas his people” for a fifth time? Doesn’t matter it’s a different country. As long as it keeps the gears grinding.

    1. anon in so cal



      A new study suggests that Trump won more votes from communities with high military casualties than from similar communities which suffered fewer casualties….

      “The high number of military casualties in Afghanistan under Obama is an under-looked reason for why Trump won. Vets and their families and communities vote, with implications for November’s election.”

  29. anon in so cal

    Fall migration is in full swing. We had Hooded Orioles all summer and they suddenly vanished the day before yesterday. This is from the nights of Sept 3-4:

    “The BirdCast model is predicting high intensity migration for the continental US for the night of 3-4 September 2020.

    We estimate this migration will comprise more than 200 million migrants over nine states (and an additional 210-220 million in the remainder of the contiguous US!), highlighting an amazing opportunity to experience migration, whether by listening at night to vocal birds in flight or observing the following morning for new arrival and departures.

    These intense movements also highlight an opportunity for conservation action – turn off lights at night to avoid attracting birds into hazardous conditions in which they can collide with buildings and other structures!

  30. Mikel

    “Countdown to endgame on a Brexit deal” RTÉ (vlad)

    What deal? Every region has its own state of economic shambles now. I couldn’t even imagine how any pain can be forced on the UK for the “no deal” with the Covid economy still leaving its wreckage all around.
    If not dealt with properly, the EU could see more departures just because the economies are already down, and what would the departing have to lose? I find it hard to believe how playing hardball with the UK now is even a priority.

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