Links 10/18/2020

Cruise will soon hit San Francisco with no hands on the wheel Ars Technica

Unelected Bolivian govt detains, doxxes, threatens international observers on eve of election Grayzone

Sacha Baron Cohen: This Time He’s Serious NYT Just watched the Chicago 7 film on Netflix and it wasn’t half bad. In my next life I want to come back as William Kunstler.

France teacher attack: Suspect ‘asked pupils to point Samuel Paty out’ BBC

As Greek Nazis Go to Prison, Their Poison Runs Free Project Syndicate. Yanis Varoufakis.

Biden: Let the troops decide where to invade next Duffelblog

We know it intimately London Review of Books

The two months in 1980 that shaped the future of biotech Stat


Covid-19: The global crisis — in data FT

Global coronavirus rise by one-day record of 400,000 Reuters

After sidelining scientists, Europe plays catchup with new coronavirus wave Politico

Inside the Fall of the CDC ProPublica

When does incompetence turn into a crime? This is the question we should be asking as government fails again Independent. Patrick Cockburn on failure of UK’s contact tracing system.

Test and trace system failed to reach nearly 250,000 close contacts of people who tested positive for coronavirus, figures reveal Daily Mail

COVID-19: The Case Against Herd Immunity Consortium News

Coronavirus Threatens to Push the Child-Care Industry Over the Edge WSJ

Donald Trump vows to ‘make China pay’ for coronavirus pandemic SCMP

Coronavirus: Empty streets in France as curfew enforced BBC

The UN’s Existential Crisis Project Syndicate. Shashi Tharoor.

Wuhan, Former Pandemic Center, Emerges as Tourist Hot Spot WSJ


Experts claim Boris Johnson’s ‘thin’ EU deal will cause major economic upset Guardian

British business groups sound alarm over no-deal Brexit FT

Brexit: “ready” is not an option EU

Murderer who tackled London Bridge attacker with narwhal tusk pardoned Guardian

Trump Transition

How Trump Still Divides The Republican Old Guard American Conservative

Roaming Charges: Pray, Grin and Barrett Counterpunch

Thousands protest Trump’s Supreme Court pick at Washington Women’s March Reuters

Trumpworld’s Corruption Is as Globalized as the Ultra-Rich the President Mingles With Foreign Policy. Find little to disagree with here; only difference for Trump is a matter of degree and not in kind from other members of the world’s elite. That is a nutshell is our problem.

Class Warfare

The San Francisco Ruling Class Is United in Their Hatred of the City’s Socialists Jacobin

Congress Needs To Take Seriously The House Reports On Big Tech’s Anticompetitive Behavior The Federalist


Facebook and Twitter Have Made a Mess of the New York Post’s Hunter Biden Story The New Republic

Republicans in a Twitter rage over Hunter Biden story FT

Joe Biden’s polling lead slips in wake of Post report on Hunter NY Post

Europe Preparing for the Worst in Washington Der Spiegel

How a contested election in key states could send the U.S. into a constitutional crisis MarketWatch

‘What the hell is wrong with this guy?’ Biden slams Trump for his response to the plot to kidnap Michigan governor Business Insider

California Wildfires

California’s record-breaking wildfires consume nearly 1 million acres in a month CNN

White House Reverses Decision And OKs Wildfire Aid For California NPR

California Wildfires Bring On ‘Catastrophic’ Year for Ranchers Bloomberg

Owls, caribou and B.C. forests on the chopping block The Narwhal


Arms embargo on Iran expires despite US opposition Al Jazeera


The Next China? India Must First Beat Bangladesh Bloomberg

Kingdom Fifty Two


Why the US Luxury Recovery Is Not Comparable to China’s Jing Daily

The Logic of Sino-Western Détente Jim O’Neill


Armenia, Azerbaijan accuse each other of violating new ceasefire Al Jazeera

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. fresno dan

    Person Woman Man Camera TV
    · Oct 16
    1/ I am enraged. Excellent reporting from WSJ’s @dseetharaman and @EmilyGlazer finds that Facebook engineers—with sign-off from Zuckerberg himself—retooled their algorithm to throttle traffic to high-value progressive news orgs, @MotherJones IN PARTICULAR
    Yet everything I read is that it is the right that is being censored by Facebook and twitter. Kinda like that assertion that the product of Hollywood and TV is liberal…

    1. griffen

      How was the evening with those Cowboys cheerleaders? I know it purportedly may or may not happen in the near future ( or never ). But we deserve unsubstantiated details.

      I’ll buy fiction if there are details !

      1. fresno dan

        October 18, 2020 at 10:56 am

        Well, the news reports did hedge – saying a day, a week or two, or a month…
        Alas, no cheerleaders last night.
        But, hope, among other things, springs eternal…
        and I did enjoy all the chardonnay

        1. ambrit

          Comrade fresno dan! Today wear your Pink Bunny Outfit! Womenx are purported to become labile and licentious in the presence of menx [and sometimes womenx] in uniforms! (Even ‘underground’ uniforms.)
          The above idea leads to all sorts of ruminations concerning visual cues, clothing, and emotional states, but, that’s a subject for the Credentialed Overlords Class.

      2. bruce

        Those weren’t Cowboys cheerleaders, they were Laker girls. I’ve been a fan since 1960 when they moved to LA, and we have another title now, and I am one of the most prominent Laker fans in SW Oregon. How did your team do this year?

        It’s nice to have someone hand you a narwhal tusk during a melee. I would prefer a .357 Mag or a katana, but I’ll roll with whatever I’ve got.

    2. hunkerdown

      Liberalism is a center-right ideology. So they’re actually correct.

      Just like the Third-Way-possessed Mother Jones.

      1. ambrit

        Good catch. How far “Right” are the Silicon Valley Oligarchs in reality if they consider Mother Jones a credible threat?

    3. km

      “Big Tech censors* the Right!”

      “Big Tech censors* the Left!”

      These two assertions are not mutually excluaive. Big Tech censors* anyone outside the mainstream of either of the two legacy parties.

      *Yes, Big Tech is nominally a private actor. And if you believe that they are restricting traffic solely on their own and with no nudging from existing political or governmental forces, then I have a bridge to sell you.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “As Greek Nazis Go to Prison, Their Poison Runs Free”

    ‘the only openly Nazi party to have won seats in any parliament since the 1940s – is a victory against far-right extremism in Europe.’

    Ukraine: “Hello. Hello. Over here!”

    Project Syndicate: “Shut up! That doesn’t count because they’re our Nazis.”

    1. timbers

      One of my favorite articles of all time is one at MOA entitled “When nothing Left is left the People will vote far right.” That certainly applied to the 2016 election Trump vs Hillary. It does not seem to apply in 2020, but this time the far right is running an incumbent with a pretty bad 4 yr record, so yes circumstances can alter the equation. Also, Hillary had high negatives and even despised by a notable segment of voters. Not so Biden.

      Another is “Why some of the smartest progressives I know will vote Trump over Hillary.”

      1. John

        I loved berni and tulsi. I voted trump first time around because I hated Hillary and we needed change, any change to break the establishments stranglehold even if it throws the system into gridlock. Trump gets my vote again because Biden was part and parcel of everything that got us to this point of sickness to begin with. I also despise how the dems handled the primaries. Snakes. If more pain is needed before we get healthy so be it. At least trump makes the sickness obvious. Also he’s predictable and forces the powers that be to reveal their control and manipulation over media. Buckle up it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

        1. Wyatt Powell

          Hell yes John, Couldn’t say it better myself.

          Just to add:
          No way im throwing a vote to a man whos on his death bed and wont last to midterms.

          Even as a man, im not comfortable (not that I like her policies anyway) with the first woman President being handed power instead of winning it in her own right. If she wants to be President so bad, it should be her name at the top of the ticket, not sitting in the wings waiting for Biden’s heart to finally stop.

          Burn this f**cker to the ground, good riddance to the American Empire, may it die a painful, horrible, violent death.

          Trump 2020

          1. bassmule

            Gangster or Zombie? The choice is yours. I’m going for the Zombie, mainly because, speaking of “dead by midterms,” I’m looking forward to our first Canadian President.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Of course there is this to consider so it may be more zombies and vampires instead of gangsters or zombies – ‘In 2009, a “science and pop culture” blogger crunched the numbers and found a correlation between movie monsters and who’s president. When a Republican is president, zombie movies are popular. When a Democrat is in the White House, vampire flicks rule’-


              So when was “Zombieland: Double Tap” released?

            2. Wyatt Powell

              Excellent way to put it. Gangster vs Zombie

              Unfortunately, in our Coke vs Pepsi, Red vs Blue, Right vs “”””Left”””” world we live in…. im going Gangster cause he causes the Elites Pain.

              The Elites made my life a joke, they destroyed my family, my father, my job. Now its their turn to feel an ounce of that pain.

              To hell with em

              1. diptherio

                You know DJT is an elite, right? I can understand your hatred for the Dem elite, but voting Trump is still voting for a member of the elite. Your rage and pain is and will remain totally ineffective if voting for the Republican is all you can figure out to do with it.

                1. edmondo

                  How patronizing of you to point out the attributes of his preferred candidate as if he had no idea for whom he was casting a vote. Can we stop vote-shaming on here? There are no good choices. We are picking the candidate who we think will screw us the least. There are arguments to be made for either candidate and they are all wrong. I have not yet decided which electoral abscess gets my vote so please refrain for telling me which candidate is better for me.

                  1. sd

                    I’m leaning towards leaving it blank – essentially none of the above. It’s a choice I can live with.

                2. timbers

                  Elite yes, but not an establishment elite. And once in a while he says things that are most evil of evils within the Elite Establishment…like ending wars/withdrawing troops/working folk need healthcare which can be paid for via MMT just like wars are.

          2. dcblogger

            this is what your are voting for when you vote for Trump

            it is not a choice between Trump and Biden. You have other choices. You can vote for Howie Hawkins, or other candidates. Or you can just not vote for president and just vote for the down ballot candidates. This is not a contest between Biden and Trump. If you vote for Trump you are endorsing his presidency.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              I’ve made my choice! The horrible Trump people want to let the Soviet Union run willy-nilly all over Europe instead of arming the brave people of the Ukraine to the teeth. Brezhnev must be stopped! Trumpers also want opinions and information to get out before The Facebook Council of Deciders has had a chance to go over it, what a dangerous idea. They’re even against 8-year olds demanding gender change surgery! And to top it off they think it’s somehow wrong for top government officials to take multi-million dollar bribes for doing the bidding of foreign powers, I mean come on, man! It’s a no-brainer, and I mean that in the nicest possible way.

            2. chris

              Refreshing to see someone with a moniker of “dcblogger” take that tack with voting.

              Most of my anti-Trump friends and colleagues tell me that voting for anyone other than Biden is a vote for Trump. But then, they also say that voting for Biden isn’t a vote for Biden – it’s a vote for…everything else? Something else that his administration is supposed to be? Kamala in one year?

              I understand the desire to vote Trump and hope that action leads to burning it all down. I’ll be voting Green though.

            3. Procopius

              Heck, you can even vote for Don [family blog] Blankenship of the [family blog] U.S. Taxpayers Party! He was only found guilty of a misdemeanor, not a felony for being responsible for 29 deaths in his mine.

        2. Dalepues

          So you’ve reasoned it out pretty well. I went to my gut for the decision and it told me that the nausea and depression caused by looking at or listening to Donald Trump, if even for only a few seconds, might be remedied with a vote for the insipid Joe Biden. So that’s how I decided to vote. There is no guarantee that the nausea and depression will go away, but it’s worth a try.

          1. USDisVet

            Although there are links above that suggest the contrary, it does appear that the Hunter Biden laptop is a real smoking gun and a true October surprise. The ownership has been verified and the FBI suppression of its contents lends more credence. So how can anyone vote for an obviously corrupt candidate who is also a traitor?

            1. Dalepues

              I despise both, so it’s really a matter of which of the two I despise more. As of this moment, I despise Trump more and I really don’t see how it’s possible to measure which of the two would be worse for our country.

        3. The Historian

          I think that is called cutting off your nose to spite your face.

          Do you really think you will punish the Democrats? No if they lose, they will again blame the progressives wing of their party and work even harder to get rid of them. The Democrat powers that be never learn.

          Do you know who did the most to encourage the progressive movement? Obama! His turn to the right on economic issues basically created the new progressives. But then we had time to think about what was important – we weren’t divided as much on social issues as we are now. We need time and relief from all the divisiveness to get the progressive movement built up again. We won’t get that if Trump wins again. We will get more of the same and I am not sure America can stand that!

          Or maybe you have some fantasy idea that we should drive this country to the edge? I know from history that those countries that change from within without revolution have a better chance of succeeding than those that revolt. Those countries that have driven themselves to the edge always end up in a worse place than they were before. Do you think France was better off after the revolution? Do you think Russians were better off after their revolution? Did the people get what they wanted? Or perhaps you think that the French really wanted Robespierre or Napoleon? And did the Russian people really want Stalin?

          Be careful what you wish for – you just might get it!

              1. hunkerdown

                Usually not a good use of opportunity to retreat while the enemy is trying to rebuild, and therefore uniquely soft.

                1. The Historian

                  The Democrats are not our enemy. Our enemy is the people who control both parties. Taking down just the Democrats doesn’t do a thing for that, does it?

                  A famous line from one of my favorite movies: “Remember who the real enemy is!”

                  1. Alex Cox

                    Poor people in Vietnam, Nicaragua and Cuba (and formerly poor people in China) might disagree with you regarding the benefits of a revolution.

                  2. mpalomar

                    “Taking down just the Democrats doesn’t do a thing for that, does it?”
                    – Since the Democrats were at one time the party of organized labour and stood in some semblance of opposition to the corporatists and Wall Street denizens one might harbour some remote hope that crashing the reprehensible current leadership might have favourable consequences.

                    Then again over the decades I’ve been watching and voting failed candidacies like McGovern, Kucinich and Sanders types in primaries and then watching as the emergent centrist party adopts triangulation strategies and shifting so as to absorb disaffected Republicans.

                    As newly elected Democratic progressives become assimilated to the campaign money fueling the political ecosystem, their priorities seem to change for the worse and we are left desperately hoping that some remnant of their presumed original reform minded political motivations and intentions will resurface as they rise through the legalised corruption (Buckley v Valeo and Citizens United) of the electoral process and ascend the committee oriented seniority power structure; regrettably their idealism typically seems to dissipate into the ether. (Matt Stoller in Goliath notes the paradox of Wright Pattman)

                    The process is perhaps beyond reform yet the consequences of burning it down will possibly result in an excuse for further takeover by the security state.

                    The most delusional Trump supporters in 2016 hoped that his free wheeling attacks from both the left and right actually represented some sort of policy conviction instead of “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

                    2020 and there is a mutant version of TDS that believes a vote for Trump will hasten the end of this malfeasance; indeed it might.

                    1. Bern Unit 101

                      Bern victims need to come to terms with the fact that had the FBI not sat on Biden’s laptop, their man might well be the nominee.

                2. tegnost

                  I see it a bit differently hunker, the “progressives” should do what bernie did and retreat, and let the scoundrels weaken themselves in their never ending race to the bottom. Then come back swinging.

                  1. flora

                    That sounds a lot like “keeping their powder dry.” imo. Were they elected to retreat? That’s the Dem estab’s gambit.

                    1. tegnost

                      I was more meaning that those voters who support bernie but not biden, who are being cajoled and offered no alternative or quarter, could retreat and not provide affirmation to policies they are opposed to.

              2. lyman alpha blob

                According to the conventional wisdom we see from the liberals, it’s always time to retreat and rebuild. Gotta keep that powder dry!

                1. Procopius

                  Minor quibble: Sun Tzu was a successful general in an era of competing small kingdoms. He didn’t advocate war, he was just very good at it.

                  1. Tom Stone

                    Sun Tzu was for very good reason considered to be the greatest strategist the world has ever produced, until John Boyd came along.
                    It amuses me that the Marines erected a statue of him at Quantico while the Air Force still mostly looks at him askance.

          1. Wyatt Powell

            So vote for the idiots that never learn?

            So I’m d*mned if I do, d*mned if dont?

            Ill stick with burning the whole rotten ediface to corruption down.

            God help us either way, we are screwed.

            1. Katniss Everdeen

              And every four years that goes by puts the democrat dinosaurs that much closer to extinction.

            2. Phillip Cross

              A small correction.

              Even though there was a brief moment in 2016 when it appeared a vote for Trump was a vote for “burning the whole rotten ediface to corruption down”, it has since become apparent that a vote for Trump is a vote for standard G.O.P. policies, benefiting their rich benefactors, with a side of far right rabble rousing from a bloviating bell-end.

              1. flora

                At least T did send some financial relief, not much but some, to everyone when the lock downs started. He’s offered to do that again but Pelosi walked away claiming she’s more interested in “legislating” than another immediate short term financial aid package.

                Note to out-of-touch Nancy, millions are newly desperate, food and rent can’t wait 3-6 months for your “legislation”. Take the money to help people now.

                1. tegnost

                  Don’t forget deep 6ing TPP and the individual mandate. That and being mostly ineffectual has led to at least some gridlock which is always preferable to being railroaded by the common cause of wall st. I’ll take gridlock and chaos over a unified grifter class any day.
                  “We had to pass the bill to see what’s in it”
                  is not democracy

                  1. Phillip Cross

                    A truly delusional take. Gridlock? Maybe, but only on stuff that helps regular folks. Every pro oligarch measure he put up went through in no time. They abolished inheritance tax ffs! …And you cannot be serious regarding wall street! Has there ever been a president more openly beholden to the stock index levels and the chamber of commerce?

                    1. flora

                      The Dems voted for that stuff in near uninamity. That’s how that stuff passed.

                      We still don’t have a TPP or TPIP and aren’t in a hot war with Russia. So that’s something, at least.

                      p.s. The Chamber of Commerce has swung to Biden this year. First time ever they’ve backed a Dem pres candidate. And they’re supporting 14 Dem house members re-election. That’s a big clue about where they think their best chances are for higher profits, lower wages, and fewer restrictions on activities and outsourcing. If Biden wins he’ll be even more beholden to the Chamber than T, imo.

                    2. tegnost

                      This chart is before the donald.
                      Show me where there is a difference between dems and repubs in these charts.
                      From the AOC post…
                      “Although Trump loves to tout the stock market gains that have occurred during his tenure, Wall Street has donated more money to Biden and Democrats this election cycle than to the president and his party. Biden has praised and reassured corporate leaders, shareholders, and the wealthiest Americans, promising to not “demonize” them and vowing that “nothing would fundamentally change” for them if he is elected.”
                      Yes I am totally serious.

                    3. Phillip Cross

                      “Show me where there is a difference between dems and repubs in these charts.”

                      Precisely my point.

                      That’s why I find the legions of Trump apologists on here so frustrating. Most politicians, and both the political parties of the United States are utterly despicable.

                      Just because you don’t agree with one “team” on some issues, it doesn’t absolve their opponents of all their unforgivable problems.

                      Just because the Democrats suck, that doesn’t make Trump good.

                      They can, and do, all suck simultaneously.

                      Don’t play their never ending lesser evil game.

          2. km

            Contemplate The Iron Law of Oligarchy and The Iron Law of Institutions.

            Over time, an organization becomes so corrupt as to be unreformable.

          3. CitizenSissy

            +1000. For those who want to “burn (the U.S.) to the ground, keep in mind that that cleansing fire will probably take down your house.

            1. Pat

              Unfortunately that is already targeted to go to Blackstone or some other such entity if we don’t burn it down.

              Everyone arguing retreat may be missing that since no corrections have been made disaster looms ever closer for more and more.

              1. Procopius

                … disaster looms ever closer for more and more.

                And yet …
                I remember 2008-11. There were daily reports of evictions, repossessions, bankruptcies, foreclosures. I don’t see any of that in the news now. I was trying to explain to my niece’s husband today (they’reThai) what was going on, and I realized how much dissonance I feel. All the commenters I see on the internet seem to be doing OK, if not prospering, with few exceptions. There were a few stories back in March, April about miles long lines at food banks. Now, the sound of crickets. I presume it’s because the half dozen corporations who own the media don’t think stories about the 20% of ALL American children who have gone without a meal in the last week will create a lot of clicks. Maybe they worry such stories would produce more in the way of pitchforks and torches. How many people were evicted in the past week? How many people have been foreclosed on? What’s going on with the food banks? How are people who’ve been unemployed more than 27 weeks coping? The supplement to unemployment insurance ended at the end of May — how are people who were getting that coping? I have seen passing mention that millions of people still have not had their unemployment insurance approved after six months. Lemme repeat that — MILLIONS of people. How are they doing? Are there more homeless people now? Are there Trumpvilles and Pelosistans? So many questions, and what we see are stories about gutbuckets with guns invading state capitols protesting orders to wear masks. They seem to be pretty well fed.

          4. edmondo

            …No if they lose, they will again blame the progressives wing of their party and work even harder to get rid of them.

            See, you make this argument like it’s a bad thing. You do know you are unwittingly saying a vote for Trump is a vote for a new progressive party. Four years of Trump is a small price to pay for an end to the Dem Party as we know it.

          5. JCC

            Not to mention that the Dem/liberal/neocons will make a small fortune in donations to fight the monster. They will win either way, either more money or direct power.

            I refuse to cut off my nose to spite my face. I’ll vote third party. I don’t care which third party. I refuse to feel any responsibility, as little as it will be, for voting either one of these totally unfit people/Parties for the Presidency.

            Since the Empire appears to be collapsing anyway, why would anyone care who wins? Either way the internal domestic failures and strife are guaranteed to continue, if not escalate.

            Save my money and get the heck out of this country one way or the other is my philosophy.

            1. montanamaven

              Joe Jogensen is a woman and candidate for president in the Libertarian Party. The Montana Dems decided to get the Greens kicked off the ballot. When they called asking for money, I told them I was very much annoyed with that move. They sounded surprised.

        4. neo-realist

          The pain of risking the arrests of non violent progressive organizers on RICO and Sedition charges in a second Trump term isn’t worth having the country devolve into banana republic/KGB/Stasi level oppression (to me at least) to teach neoliberal dems a lesson (The kidnapping of demonstrators by federal officers was a sample of bigger injustices to come in a second Trump term.) Not to mention potentially cripple the ability of down ticket progressives to ascend to office due to the appointments of more Heritage Society right wingers by Trump to uphold voter suppression and gerrymandering. In a broader sense, IMO, a second Trump term would lock in such institutional authoritarianism that it would be very difficult to create the progressive political and economic changes that much of the NC commentariat seeks.

          1. ambrit

            And you argue that a Biden Administration won’t do the same? Have you looked at the potential Biden Cabinet being floated? Roughly, a return from the crypt of the Bush Obama apparat.

            1. lyman alpha blob

              The other Biden administration did do the same already. Let’s not forget who coordinated at the federal level with all the Democrat mayors to crush the Occupy movement.

              It’s amazing to me how many people have seemingly forgotten the recent history of this country prior to Trump.

              I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the reason that a lot of people really hate Trump is because he’s a funhouse mirror version of the typical DC pol and he reminds people a little too much of what they’re really voting for when they gladly cast a ballot for a Bush or Clinton or Obama. We like our warmongering thieving bankster sycophants to be polite, dammit!

              1. montanamaven

                You pretty much hit the nail on the head. I try to forgive but never forget. But I cannot cannot cannot forgive or forget what Obama did to “Occupy Wall Street”. It was brutally put it down in those Democratic cities and it was coordinated. They destroyed the free bookstores. They hurt the homeless. Made Portland look like a walk in the park. We know what the neo Liberal Obama/Biden/Clintons would do since they already did it. Biden and Harris will do what they are told and with relish.
                As you say, why don’t people remember this fundamental thing along with what they did to homeowners who are now living in vans, if they are lucky. Oh, and turning Libya into a hell hole. I’m going to bet mad all over again.

                1. km

                  Not to mention, Syria, Yemen and Ukraine.

                  I refuse to vote for people in foreign lands to suffer and die so that I can preen myself about how progressive I think I am because pronouns.

            2. neo-realist

              I argue that non violent lefties are not going to be assessed punishing fines and receive long prison sentences for organizing by a Biden administration. This is understanding that Biden is not a progressive panacea in any way shape or form for the economic and social ills that plague the country. But progressives unlike in a Trump administration will have the space to work for change without overt police harrassment/punishment.

              1. Dr. John Carpenter

                The treatment of OWS and various government/MIC whistleblowers under the Obama/Biden administration doesn’t exactly support your thesis. Biden’s own comments about retraining cops to shoot people in the legs rather than chest and his own record of “law and order” doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence wither.

                1. neo-realist

                  Never said Obama/Biden were ideal or good, but they never went nearly as far as Trump/Barr plan to do in broader repression of organized protest and resistance in a second term. Don’t believe Biden will go down the road of using RICO and sedition statues as Trump will as I have said. Bad vs. really really bad. Bad with a space to organize vs really really bad with zero space for political change agents to work.

                  1. Person

                    “Really really bad” leads to popular mobilization, while just “bad” leads to complaining over brunch while the grifters go through your wallet.

                  2. albrt

                    Honestly, there is no difference. The suppression of Occupy Wall Street was much more brutal and efficient than anything Trump could organize – he’s too busy firing his own cabinet members.

                  3. Temporarily Sane

                    Your “bad vs. really bad” is just lesser evilism reworded. That’s been preached relentlessly since at least 1980, yet somehow the Democrats have moved so far to the right that they now control the wealthiest districts in the nation, are the preferred party of Wall Street, out hawk the Republicans and don’t even pretend to care about the poor and the former middle class. Hell, they’ve even embraced George W. Bush, John McCain and Colin Powell!

                    The lesser evil/less bad “strategy” is a scam that in 40 years hasn’t yielded any of the promised results. None. Nada. Zero. Zilch. It’s pure gaslighting. The country is collapsing in case you haven’t noticed.

                    In practical terms at this point I don’t think it matters who you vote for in presidential elections, the result will be terrible regardless of who wins or loses. But the Democratic Party deserves to go down in shrieking agony…half a decade of gaslighting, scamming and lying to their ostensible base does not deserve to be rewarded.

          2. Cat Burglar

            The candidates are tools for the interests backing them, and so we should regard them as our tools. The question is, what can they get us that we need? If your medium-term goal is to have a basic social democratic setup with single-payer, with worker, SME, and farm protections, serious financial and environmental regulation, and ending the constant wars — neither candidate is useful.

            If you want to apply any immediate moral judgement to them, you don’t get very far: they are both responsible for unimaginable amounts of suffering, death, and destruction. So which criminal tool has a greater chance of producing more accidental openings for what we need?

            My guess is that a Biden administration is likelier to do that, because the Dems rely, to some extent, on left voters. They have to service those voters, though usually they just give us the mushroom treatment. So, voting in a Dem state Biden is sure to win, I am voting Green — I want to create a political management problem for the Dems on their left. A perceivable decline in their support in a stronghold definitely sends a message to them — remember Neera Tanden’s blackguarding Sanders voters for “electing Trump?”

            Who can say a Biden administration will do much good, really? My hunch is that BLM, the Resistance, and maybe Antifa will quickly go silent if Biden ascends, like the antiwar movement after the Obama accession, but without much repression. Word will go out informally that people don’t need to push so hard now, and some positions will open up for the right people. The real test will be keeping the pressure on after the election.

            1. km

              “My hunch is that BLM, the Resistance, and maybe Antifa will quickly go silent if Biden ascends, like the antiwar movement after the Obama accession, but without much repression. Word will go out informally that people don’t need to push so hard now, and some positions will open up for the right people. The real test will be keeping the pressure on after the election.”

              Someone gets it. Notice how the violence and protests have already largely cooled off. Don’t want to spook suburban moderates.

              1. montanamaven

                Well, yesterday a bunch of Antifa protesters attacked some pro-Trump free speech protesters in San Francisco on their way to Twitter. Only a dozen of the pro-Trump people and hundreds of Antifa protesters , according to Fox News. One Pro- Trump guy had his teeth knocked out and another one was carried off on a stretcher.
                I guess if it’s not reported, it won’t get attention. And they were Trump supporters so maybe “they had it coming.”
                I think the BLM protesters going to restaurants and harassing people were what shocked a lot of people including suburban moderates. And some guy smacked Rick Moranis with a bottle on a NY street was another thing. These kinds of incidents might not stop after Nov 3 , no matter who wins. So the Dems might think they have this under control since they control the upper echelons of these groups, but the people on the street maybe not so much.

              2. dcblogger

                I think that demonstrations will pick up once Biden takes power, indeed, even before, as soon has his horrible cabinet choices are announced. There are many lefties currently busy campaigning for down ballot progressives. Directly the election is over, they can turn their energy to Direct Action. People are not as invested in Biden psychologically as they were in Obama. I think that Chris Hedges was right.

            2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              I’ve made my choice! The horrible Trump people want to let the Soviet Union run willy-nilly all over Europe instead of arming the brave people of the Ukraine to the teeth. Brezhnev must be stopped! Trumpers also want opinions and information to get out before The Facebook Council of Deciders has had a chance to go over it, what a dangerous idea. They’re even against 8-year olds demanding gender change surgery! And to top it off they think it’s somehow wrong for top government officials to take multi-million dollar bribes for doing the bidding of foreign powers, I mean come on, man! It’s a no-brainer, and I mean that in the nicest possible way.

        5. Pelham

          One could go even further making the case that Trump is the lesser evil. The Bidens have made millions of dollars off their shady association with China and, even more alarmingly, this aligns them with corporate America, which is all too eager to sell us out. At least Trump occasionally makes the legitimate case that China is something to worry about.

          1. Aumua

            Yeah, well what are you gonna do about China? What are “we” going to do about them? This planet is getting pretty damn small lately. We (humans) better figure some things out sooner rather than later.

        6. JP

          Even here on NC the presidential race is all about the false equivalents at the top of the ticket rather then the trajectory. Because HCR was hated on the right and left, we will now will have 25 years of any progressive legislation knocked down at the appellate and supreme court level. You may ask where the progressive legislation will come from with Biden at the helm but that is again the wrong perspective. The solution is running and voting progressive in local and state elections. Just like it is understandable that not voting or third party voting is a noble choice and sends a message, it is only marginally effective unless there is a popular ground swell ahead of the vote. It is a mistake to think this isn’t a game we all need to get better at.

          1. montanamaven

            I’m now getting old and very jaded. Perhaps “progressives” are and always have been the problem. “Progress” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sometimes the old ways are pretty good. Was listening to Dr. Paul Sardino on Joe Rogan talking about the carnivore diet and how eating everything from nose to tail was a good thing. How some tribes he’s studied won’t eat tubulars or plants unless they have to. Some of our “progress” like growing corn and soybeans “to feed the world” is doing the opposite. It makes for factory farms and corn syrup. The problem is that the people who go into politics, even if they are well meaning at first, become part of a corrupt system. Joan Didion wrote about this years ago and it is ever thus. So I hold out no hope that more and better “progressives” will solve any of our problems. Taking over the Republican Party seems to be a better idea. Or at least a newer one than the same old same old “change the party from within” that I got conned into back in 2004 and 2008. Both political parties will not address healthcare which grieves me. But at least the conservatives I know hate all these phony foreign wars and for that I am in wholehearted agreement.

            1. Person

              Don’t forget that “progressives” were the original eugenicists. Blind pursuit of “progress” is as harmful as reactionary Luddism.

              These days I am of the belief that politics at global scale (or even a USA scale) is an unsolvable problem. Our increasingly complex and brittle systems will shatter when the cheap energy binge runs out. Better have a good relationship with your neighbors.

        7. Oh

          Voting for a crooked guy like Trump is cutting off your nose to spite your face. Try voting for the Greens or don’t vote at all.

    2. Carolinian

      Re the French teacher case–leaving aside the terrible murder perhaps the French should do some soul searching about when “secularism” becomes hate speech. Isn’t displaying naked cartoons of Mohammed a way of showing contempt for that religion and defying anyone to object? Here in at least theoretically church/state separated America religion is a subject that is not even supposed to come up in government run schools (many of my Southern neighbors might disagree). I also wonder whether, in the name of secularism, French teachers are also debunking Christianity, Judaism etc. Reportedly there’s social unrest there among Muslims who feel singled out and given second class status–not to mention the historic grievances generated by French colonialism in the Mediterranean area. Even more recently he French have been gung ho for interventions in Libya and Syria that have caused terrible harm. It’s easy to play the innocent, perhaps not so much to face up to one’s own shortcomings.

      1. a different chris

        > I also wonder whether, in the name of secularism, French teachers are also debunking Christianity, Judaism etc.

        Yeah and I’m ready to blow up buildings because The Great Spaghetti Monster is not getting the respect he/she/it/whatever deserves.


        >Isn’t displaying naked cartoons of Mohammed a way of showing contempt for that religion and defying anyone to object?

        You are allowed to object. You are allowed to ignore. You are not allowed to kill people because your feelings are hurt because somebody doesn’t feel the same way about a person who has been dead 10 centuries that you do.

        Yes, the Muslims are not being well treated by the French. I do not like military interventions at all. But I do not think the guy who was beheaded really had much to do with that, he wasn’t exactly Macron’s right hand man was he?

        1. Carolinian

          You think French contempt for other cultures has nothing to do with the military interventions, colonialism?

          See my comment below. Religious fundamentalism is often a proxy for a simple wish to be left alone. Why are so many Muslim refugees in secular France? It could be because we are bombing the crap out of their countries and fueling internal conflicts. Beheading someone is a horrible crime but then there are really big horrible crimes (such as hundreds of thousands dead in Syria) that nobody talks about.

          That and only that is my point.

          1. Oh

            Torturing people, not disclosing torture photos, capturing people at the behest of their enemies and taking them to a far away island to torture them and imprison them indefiitely, drone bombing marriage processions or suspects far away is okay. /s

        2. ex-PFC Chuck

          “[Blasphemy] is a crime that was invented by priests for the purpose of defending doctrines not able to take care of themselves.” Robert Green Ingersoll

      2. Wyatt Powell

        The Abrahamic religions are dying a slow death in the Post-Modern world, we are just seeing the death gurgles and twitches.

        Something will undoubtedly replace the dumbdumb masses need for “salvation” and “hope”. But the point stands that the old religions of the Middle East are dead/dying, F*ck em.

        Embrace the truth of reality, Buddhism, we are all a small piece of the universe, the children of dead stars given life and eventually consciousness. We all need to treat each other better because WE ARE each other**. We all return to the same formless energy that we started as.

        There is no afterlife
        There is only an after-us
        Or after-ego if you will

        ***That being said, im tired of playing in to Jews, Christians, Muslims deluded ideas of a Patriarchal God Figure ruling justly over the cosmos. They can believe what they want, and I dont openly spit on them in the street. But spiritually? They are lost, living in hate, ignorance and intolerance (before the liberals ruined that word).

        1. Carolinian

          Dying out–perhaps. But they are still front and center in much of world conflict and particularly in the Middle East. One could make a case that the rise of religious fundamentalism is itself a proxy for defiance of the Western enthusiasm for intervention in societies that would prefer to follow their own path. If left alone they’d probably be happy to secularize, buy iPads.

        2. diptherio

          I dare say your disdain for members of religions that you do not share betrays that you have failed to understand much of Buddhism. Perhaps you should try reading Shantideva’s The Way of the Bodhisattva. Understanding that, as you say, “WE ARE each other” would, hopefully, result in much more than simply refraining from “openly” spitting on people (is the implication that you “covertly” spit on them?).

          1. jr

            Agreed. Another school of thought teaches that all religions are sacred in that all of them represent some facet of the Unity.

            “See that ye blaspheme not the Name by which another knoweth his God. For if ye do this in Allah, ye will do it in Adonai.”

            Or in the Buddha.

            1. ambrit

              This misses the point that France has had a reasonably long history of active anti-clericalism. That impetus is ‘equal opportunity’ as we say in the States. So, consider the French educational system as a gatekeeper to and ‘shaper’ of the public consciousness. Right now, as far as I can glean, “Secularism” is the unofficial State Religion of France.
              Under proper secularism, all religions are equally valueless.

              1. jr

                Ok, that’s good to know, but I was responding to Powell’s spittle-flecked, juvenile condemnation of Western religions and their adherents. He is tossing out a lot of babies with the bathwater, to put it mildly. And I’m quite familiar with secularism, I only recently left it behind me.

                1. ambrit

                  Fair point.
                  Query: To what did you gravitate after ‘secularism?’ (Real question. Understanding the reasons for adherence to any particular one of the myriad of philosophies is enlightening, in the best meaning of the word.)

                  1. jr

                    I became introduced to the idea of monistic Idealism about three years ago, the notion that consciousness is the fundamental stuff of reality. It was a book by Bernardo Kastrup called “Brief Peeks Beyond”. Rather than our minds giving rise to our individual consciousnesses as say a PC produces the images on it’s screen, consciousness, or rather Consciousness, is disassociated, fragmented, into the innumerable shards that comprise every living thing. Matter is from this perspective a by product of Consciousness; the baroque furnishings of a palace where God dreams lucidly through an infinitude of eyes.

                    Yes, God. Not the God of Abraham, the Father figure, counting dead sparrows, not some anthropomorphized entity somewhere above the clouds. This is the literal warp and weft of the Cosmos we are talking about.

                    Kastrup calls it “Mind at Large”; there are countless appellations. I’m reading another book of his now, “Decoding Schopenhauer’s Metaphysics”, where he describes Schopenhauer’s belief that behind the appearance of the material world lies will, or as I prefer Will, pure potentiality, the quantum superposition of everything not being observed by something. The “real” world is the representation, the Metaphor, of this Will. Kastrup believes that Schopenhauer’s notion of the Will resolves the metaphysical issues with relational QM, namely that the relationships between volitional states ground all physical quantities (matter is a representation of the Will in all it’s multiform aspects), that these states provide a substrate for information (we perceive those representations via the senses), and solipsism is avoided (each individually perceived world is actually immersed in the Meta consciousness. ) I know zilcho about RQM but I do know that it gives me some argumentative ground to stand on, ontologically speaking.

                    So that is my understanding of God, now for my spiritual practice. Around the time I discovered Kastrup, I began to practice ritual Magic. I had no prior beliefs, literally, I was an atheist and a proud one. I did it for the hell of it. I still am three years later.

                    1. ambrit

                      Thanks for taking the time and effort to reply. Sincerity is best expressed through action.
                      About as useful an attitude towards “reality” as any I have heard.
                      Having read a bit about the Alchemists, I can appreciate the desire to ‘master’ Ritual Magic. In the Abrahamic religions, the godhead is approached through ceremony and tradition. Christianity as presently practiced did not appear full blown at a certain time two millennia ago. It followed earlier traditions and syncretized much. The Old Testament covers up much about the forms of worship used by the early Hebrews.
                      At least the Alchemists admitted to not knowing. The opposite trend, embraced by the ‘authoritarian’ religions leads to all sorts of mischief.
                      Good luck on the journey.

                    2. Janie

                      Jr, thank you for your post. New-to-me ideas worth pondering. I am often in awe of the wide-ranging interests and knowledge at this site.

                    3. jr

                      Thanks for the comments guys. I have little hope of mastering ritual Magic, I’m far more concerned with mastering remembering to meditate daily. 98% of the Sacred Science is about self control and balance, not my best areas.

                      I have no time for authoritarian visions of the Godhead. Any attempt to bind God to a particular image or interpretation is a fools errand in that God is all of them and more. Same with gender, God is the ultimate fluidity. These are aspects of It and should be studied but they are far from the whole story.

                      It is also, I think, a misunderstanding of the immediacy of the Divinity. God doesn’t order, or act, or weigh in, strumming fingers with boredom waiting for us idiots to figure things out or checking off a list. God is the flow of events around us, the thoughts and actions and things. We, on the other hand, if we wish to experience a taste of this primal state of existence while corporeal, have to climb.

        3. Lee

          I do very much prefer Galina Vromen’s naturalistic version of the story of Abraham and Isaac, which she titles “Sarah’s Story“, to that of the original in which the Jewish god requires a detestable test of loyalty befitting a Mafia Don. Spoiler alert: no supreme beings or angels involved.

          At one point Sarah reflects:

          “God is impossible, I thought to myself. How can He be so unreasonable? We judge our own success in life by our ability to learn the art of moderation, knowing how to ask in moderation, knowing how to give in moderation. But God is immoderate, both in what He gives us, and now, in what He is asking us to give up.”

        4. Henry Moon Pie

          “The Abrahamic religions are dying a slow death in the Post-Modern world, we are just seeing the death gurgles and twitches.”

          Those Abrahamic religions stem from an original source that was henotheistic, not monotheistic. Each nation had its own god just as each had its own king. In fact, the mythologies of the time envisioned heavenly wars between gods in parallel to human conflicts.

          With the fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the temple which was thought of as YHWH’s physical house and the exile of political and religious elites to Babylon, the stock of that henotheistic god YHWH suffered quite a drop. Beginning perhaps with the writer known as Second Isaiah, there was a move to monotheism and the bold claim that YHWH, whose people had lost everything, was in fact the one and only God. This bold doubling-down was complete when the Ezra school put together the Torah and the histories, and the fall of Jerusalem was explained as punishment for Israel’s/Judah’s unfaithfulness.

          That account of things worked pretty well as it mirrored the top-down human political world of the time, and as this monotheistic strain morphed and expanded into Christianity and Islam. As Western perspectives began to broaden some with the Renaissance, the Reformation and Enlightenment, science presented a challenge, but ironically, Galileo’s revelation that the heavenly bodies around us performed in such an orderly fashion that it appeared clock-like implied a clockmaker, even if a Deist god was a faint echo of the jealous YHWH and his cosmic temper. The idea of a transcendent god was actually strengthened even if Christianity, at least, would be undermined over the longer term.

          Science over the past 100 years has pointed in a different direction toward a universe of constant change, infinite complexity and dazzling diversity, at least for those born on a living planet. The clockmaker analogy has lost its grip and the king analogy has been swept away by history, so there’s not much room for a transcendent God, especially a patriarchal one.

          But science is revealing a world to us much more consonant with what the Buddha, Lao-Tzu and others perceived intuitively with the aid of serious self-discipline.

          1. jr

            “so there’s not much room for a transcendent God”

            God is the room for God. God defines and delineates the absolute limits of what is possible, therefore there is always room for God.

          2. JP

            Dear Lord, now that most peoples recognize only one of you, would you please stop cultivating tribal loyalties. Pray you admit that belief is an impediment to higher mind. That reality is beyond any concept of you. That your main utility, aside from cultural identity and authoritarian control, is to assuage fears of death and time. Pray do away with yourself.

            Amen (or some other Egyptian)

            1. ambrit

              “Pray do away with yourself.”
              There, in a nutshell is the problem with authoritarian religion. The arrogation to itself of supreme authority. Such insularity is a sure recipe for eventual sterility and dissolution.
              Be safe! It’s a Plague of Gods out there!

          3. ckimball

            and Greek philosopher such as Heraclitos also
            Thank you so much for this Henry Moon Pie.
            For some reason it is very moving for me.

          4. ckimball

            and Greek philosopher such as Heraclitus also
            Thank you so much for this Henry Moon Pie.
            For some reason it is very moving for me.

        5. BlakeFelix

          What? In what world are the Muslims or the Jews or even the Christians dying out? They are more like intentionally breeding as fast as possible so that they are better prepared for the race wars or whatever nonsense they have planned. While our PMCs do an impression of that couple at the start of Idiocracy. I think that our only Supreme Court Justice who isn’t Catholic or Jewish is Clarence Thomas, and he’s Protestant. Who is slowly dying out again? Based on what? Yoga? Modi isn’t noticably better. I mean, I like Yoga and the Dalia Lama or whatever, but I’m not seeing his unstoppable march to victory. Unless you mean Abrahamic faiths are all going to die in CCP reeducation camps, which does look to be on the table…

          1. flora

            Thomas is Catholic. I think there’s an Episcopalian on the Court who was raised Catholic but left the church.

            1. fwe'zy

              Which “movement” is different from this broad stroke you’ve brushed over “Communist movements”? The National Endowment for Democracy? Petty Bourg Autonomy? Oil N Gas Funded Plastics Recycling movement?

              1. ambrit

                I deal here with belief systems. I’ll assert that classical Communism, as an intellectual blueprint for governance, is based on the Romantic Movement’s concept of the Perfectibility of Humans. Throw in a quasi mystical ‘Genius of History’ to move things along in a linear manner and we have a basic belief system indistinguishable from a traditional religion.
                Let’s not get bogged down in State Socialism versus Fourth Internationalism versus Socialism in One Country, ad infinitum. Each facet can be viewed as a sect or cult of the original Communism.
                A Tankie I am not.

                1. fwe'zy

                  I don’t know enough to comment on Trotsky etc. I just know that people are already spying on us and controlling us in a whole range of ways, under capitalism. The homelessness joblessness situation is out of control because these overlords have us on accelerated sink-or-swim. They push malthusian scare agendas and truly hate human beings and the yumanities.

                  What little communist material I’ve read is neither deterministic, mechanistic, nor linear. In fact, Marxism seems very context-specific. It discusses material conditions and relationships, real af, as opposed to airy fairy exhortations to transcend the flesh.

                  Marxism teaches that human nature is very context-specific. I don’t see a focus on human perfectibility in communism, but on dismantling distortions in our natures caused by perverse tendencies / structures in our arrangements around production/ “way of life.”

                  If it takes Tanks to disgorge some criminal CEOs and re-organize away from inhumane and extractive overproduction of our commonweal, so be it. I’ve seen some bloodlust up in these comment threads, but none to match that of the corpse class. Would you have been against tanks to disgorge slavery? Howbow Epstein?

                  1. ambrit

                    I see America’s Civil War as a power struggle between the Northern and Southern elites. Slavery just happened to be a “hot button issue” of the day. Slavery is still with us, as in the Libya fiasco. If America’s ruling elites really did adhere to the professed ‘values’ of the culture, we would be in Libya right now trying to right the wrongs we created. We certainly ‘broke’ it, but we haven’t ‘bought’ it.
                    The treatment of children is a particular issue of importance to me. My thinking is that Epstein’s Island would have rated a visit from Seal Team Six at least twenty years ago.

      3. Jesper

        I am baffled by this

        leaving aside the terrible murder

        Leaving aside the terrible murder?

        Well sure, if we leave aside the terrible murder then what is left is just an objection (newspeak now for murder?) to an offensive cartoon so why should anyone care about an objection to a cartoon?

        This piece by Nassim Taled came to mind (& it also came to mind when reading about the COVID-measures (masks))

        The French now have a couple of options on how to deal with such ‘objections’:
        1. Make such objection legal
        2. Keep such objections illegal and the people who want to object in such ways can then make the choice of trying to change the laws to make it legal or move to a country where such objections are legal

        1. Carolinian

          They have a third option which is to say that all speech is allowed (not the case now….France has laws that can put you in jail or force large fines for speech that is considered offensive or dangerous to some groups) but that stupid and sophomoric cartoons showing a naked Mohammed are offensive to sensible people and should not be lionized in mass marches that pretend intellectual integrity is the issue. In the US the ACLU defended the right of the KKK to march in Skokie (they might not do that now). They didn’t say that the KKK was a good thing or wear Je Suis KKK t shirts.

          You don’t have to agree, but I’d say those much vaunted French intellectuals have a problem with consistency.

          1. Jesper

            The majority of the people in France appear to be ok with the law, changing a law that a majority agrees with against the majority wishes to suit a minority seems like a very undemocratic way. Doing so would to be an indication that it is not a democracy.

            Most intellectuals everywhere have problems with consistency, but I am not sure that I see an inconsistency here. The laws are as the majority want them to be, how can that be inconsistent in a democracy?

            1. ambrit

              You take a naive view of modern law making. (Things would be much “better” under your scheme, I’ll admit. Polities could then figure out where their allegiances lie. Political realignments would then follow. Hopefully peacefully, but, change they would.) There are many cases where minorities ruled over larger non similar groups. Just look at the history of European colonialism.

              1. Jesper

                I’d say that the laws are created by the powerful. Which in a democracy with proportional representation might represent the wishes of the majority but in countries with first by the post systems (and the different versions of that) then the many have little to no influence on the law-making.
                The first by the post system guarantees stability in government as in the long run the parties will all be parties run by and for the benefit of the same ‘elite’ with some minor cosmetic disagreements to provide an illusion of choice in the elections.

                I’d say that my opinion is the opposite of naive (but like most people I have blind spots about myself and my own opinions).

      4. Geof

        perhaps the French should do some soul searching about when “secularism” becomes hate speech. Isn’t displaying naked cartoons of Mohammed a way of showing contempt for that religion and defying anyone to object?


        If you refuse to stand by your principles, don’t be surprised when someone else comes and imposes his on you.

        If it’s hate speech, that’s for the French to decide. As an anglo-Canadian, I am quite aware of critiques of their concept of laïcité. The same debates take place in Canada, with woke anglos lining up to denounce secular francophones. It was but a couple of generations ago that the anglos (my ancestors) were the oppressors of theirs (true fact, though I bear not an ounce of guilt). Now many in Quebec sense that the attempt to impose wokeness on them is old wine in new bottles. I think they’re right. And you sure as heck don’t promote global diversity by smothering the world with the latest variant of crusading Christian doctrine (wokeness, lest the point not be obvious).

        “Monsieur l’abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.” That is Voltaire in 1770. I think that is an excellent principle. If we cannot be offensive, if we cannot show contempt, then we cannot say anything meaningful at all. This is foundational to what is best in western civilization. Use it or lose it. It is positively essential that someone be giving offense. If anything, the problem is that no-one is offending the Christians and the atheists. Someone should get right on that.

        There is a sordid history of Americans (if you are indeed American) accusing others of imperialism, then using that as an excuse to colonize them – formerly politically, these days culturally. As a Canadian, that is exactly how I see this attemp to export America’s moral values. France is not Xinjiang, and French classrooms are not internment camps.

        Point taken about France’s history of imperialism. As I said, I think this idea of solving imperialism with imperialism is more of the same. Old wine in new bottles. And it really is imperialism: because the new colonies are the rural areas (especially in France) and the working people. Bearing the rainbow flag, the winners of globalization ostentatiously perform their shame for the crimes of the past as a way of silencing protests by the losers of globalization against the crimes of the present.

        From Christophe Guilluy’s analysis of French politics in Twilight of the Elites (pp. 95-6):

        One aspect of antifascism’s usefulness as a class weapon is a special interest. It allows distrusted elites to reclaim the moral high ground by treating all criticism of the effects of globalization as proof of hateful motives. In order to be a lastingly effective strategy, however, the fascist enemy has to be made into a permanent obsession – hence the saturation coverage of the National Front in the media. The struggle against fascism is therefore waged today by promoting fascism, by building it up – a perversely protracted fight to the death whose purpose is not to destroy the enemy, but to ensure its indefinite survival.

        1. Carolinian

          Please see other comments I made on this page to which I will add my American (but hardly majority American) sentiments that the French are being hypocrites on the issue of free speech since they suppress some speech and not others and that the question of the Muslim cartoons is one of taste from an outfit that was closer to Mad Magazine than Voltaire. It’s not about banning speech. It’s about everyone trying to get along and not spending time trying to make points about how smart they are in an already volatile situation. Which is to say it’s best not to get confused about who are the ones making the power play.

          Truth to tell while America may have culturally colonized France –with their all too willing cooperation– it is we who are being colonized by the notion that some speech is sacred and other speech must be suppressed with an example just this past week.

          1. Geof

            I agree with you on selective application of the principle of free speech. It’s a universal principle and it should be universally applied.

            As I said, there should be offense give to all groups and beliefs, not just some.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              That ship has sailed, we now have the Facebook Council of Deciders determining what information people are allowed to see based on what The Atlantic Council says. You know, the AC, that crowd that is determined to check the advance of the Soviets in the face of Brezhnev’s aggression. And to tie it up in a neat little bow, the AC received a $300,000 “contribution” from…Burisma. Nice!

              Leading the Facebook Truth Council is Anna Makanju, previously the special policy adviser for Europe and Eurasia to former US Vice President Joe Biden. Mm-k. With Twitter censoring the official White House account. Uh-huh. Vote this crowd in and at least you know what you will get: bribery, censorship, and war. But with nice personal pronouns everywhere, and no more rude Tweets!

        2. flora

          Bearing the rainbow flag, the winners of globalization ostentatiously perform their shame for the crimes of the past as a way of silencing protests by the losers of globalization against the crimes of the present.

          Yes, it seems wokeness is elite virtue signalling; they are not only more educated but are morally better (they think) than the less elite, the less academically educated. Sanctimony in a new disguise.

        3. Ander

          “ If we cannot be offensive, if we cannot show contempt, then we cannot say anything meaningful at all.” I’ve never really understood contempt or public denigration to be necessary to meaningful conversation, but maybe you and I just converse in different ways ?

  3. The Rev Kev

    “China warns it will detain American nationals following Justice Dept prosecution of Chinese scholars: report”

    China further says that any American nationals arrested will be placed under house arrest with only bland foods in the house to eat and nothing to do. In other words, it will be just like being under lockdown at home. Only difference will be that through a subtle Chinese torture, that American prisoners will be able to see out their windows people going about their everyday business, going to bars, restaurants, parks, playing, dating, bike-riding, etc. which the incarcerated Americans will not be able to take part of.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      But I thought free trade was going to make China a Jeffersonian style democracy? Easily my second free trade bs line. My first being exporting legal expertise.

      1. cnchal

        > . . . exporting legal expertise.

        First they came for the production worker, and I said nothing, because I wasn’t a production worker . . .

  4. timotheus

    Re Europe “sidelining scientists” (& the populace getting worn out with restrictions): people are appearing on the NYC subways without masks. A week ago, this was not happening.

  5. griffen

    Trump dividing the old guard. So he’s equal opportunity minded. To be fair, it isn’t like the old guard has avowed poverty and live a paupers life.

    There are few James Bakers around these days. On either side of the aisle. And I’m not talking specific to policy or political choices.

  6. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Cruise will soon hit San Francisco with no hands on the wheel

    And I say kudos to the ‘self driving’ car companies! It’s very considerate of them to donate a fleet of vehicles to enterprising ̶h̶a̶c̶k̶e̶r̶s̶ ̶c̶a̶r̶j̶a̶c̶k̶e̶r̶s̶ entrepreneurs who may not be able to afford a new vehicle of their own due to the rapidly rising cost of living caused by big tech companies like those who make ‘self driving’ cars.

    1. JTMcPhee

      “rapidly rising cost of living”? Social Security COLA for 2021 is 1.3%. While, of course, the looters in Congress do self-serving stock deals, pull in billions in corruption, and half of America is tapped out. And no fiscal policy for the mopes, because “deficit” and/or “that woul let Trump put his name on more MMT distributions to the “bases.”

      The real world..

      1. JCC

        A good example of the real world, inflation, COLA, etc.

        8 months ago I loaded up on 6 cans of corned beef hash (nothing but scrap meat and potatoes) at around $1.29 per can. Last week, the same store, the same brand, was $2.64 per can – about 104% inflation rate.

        We are so screwed…

        1. Maritimer

          “(nothing but scrap meat and potatoes)”

          You hope. It would depend on the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service and with the US corporate/business/oligarch unrestrained and metastasizing Crime Wave, their inspection is seriously in doubt. In addition, with inflation on the rise, then adulterate the “food” (just material that looks like food maybe but definitely is not nutrition); stick in some filler or other cheap stuff.

      1. hunkerdown

        That’s fine, we’ll booby-trap the server-side message queue then smoke ’em out like Pappy Bush.

    2. Carolinian

      Given high unemployment (and bound to go higher) it does seem like a solution in search of a problem. The safety issue would only be addressed if there were no human drivers. This doesn’t seem likely.

      Gotta say though that I now have a more recent car and do appreciate all those computer run gadgety features. For example if I leave the key in the ignition it won’t let me lock the doors.

    3. chris

      Besides all the articles NC has run discussing the criminal enterprise that is Uber, I still don’t understand why these companies are so hot for self driving cars instead of continuing to underpay desperate people to depreciate their own property? So now people think maintaining high tech robots thay are sent into a difficult environment is going to be more profitable? This is madness.

      1. flora

        Cruise is a GM subsidiary. GM is a car company (mostly) with a nationwide network of dealers and service departments. GM can run their own cars, insure/license/depreciate them on the books and maintain them in their own inhouse dealership service departments.

        Uber and Alphabet can’t service inhouse and don’t have nationwide networks of dealership/service departments. Uber is already losing so much money even with foisting car costs/depreciation/maintenance onto its drivers that I see self-driving cars finally sinking both Uber and the Alphabet self-driving subsidiary. Alphabet may only be in the game for the data collection value. my 2 cents.

        1. chris

          Ah, I had missed the GM angle. That does make more sense. It would be hard to any Uber wannabe to compete at the scale of a GM. Who knows? That might even lead to a surge in new jobs for mechanics and techs.

          Still scared of seeing what’s essentially a huge IoT experiment run by people who have never even had to think about these kinds of consequences released into the wild.

      2. Count Zero

        Chris: why are these companies so hot for self driving cars instead of continuing to underpay desperate people? Because the employer’s dream is always an enterprise without workers — a large machine that simply pumps out money. It saves a lot of trouble. Of course, this utopia has a downside. Er,… who is going to buy the commodities and services now produced without labour?

        1. chris

          Sure. But they’re literally killing the dingy goose here. They can wring all the “value” they like out of people who aren’t allowed to form unions and have next to no other rights. And they’d rather deal with fussy robot cars instead? Ok… that’s not going end how they hope.

          But the angle with GM being in charge makes a ton of sense for reasons others have already discussed.

      3. Sebastian

        In solidarity with Uber drivers, cab drivers, and the working class in general, and to promote public safety and to protect the children, any driverless car that I see moving down the street, with no passenger inside, gets a brick through the windshield, or whatever I can throw, or I gouge the side with a nail or kick it. You should too.

  7. Wukchumni

    Goooooood Moooooorning Fiatnam!

    Operation Freedom Train was our mission to drop so much money from on high via B-52’s, that the peasantry would suddenly become solid middle class citizens desirous of consumer goods.

    It all went well until one of the planes neglected to take the bands off of bundles and a number of Fiatnamese peasants were hit with ad hoc bricks from 30,000 feet, leaving nasty paper cuts & occasionally a reversed ink image of Benjamin Franklin’s head on body parts in their wake on direct hits.

    Undaunted despite grievous injuries, the village people would go about collecting the largess in large rice bowls, some becoming quite adept at flutter technique as manna from the skies drifted into their receptacles held up by both outstretched arms.

  8. fresno dan

    I don’t know where I came across the piece above, whether NC or a poster on NC. But I think it has some good points.
    (from the article)
    Unlike many of the president’s detractors, I don’t think he everywhere and always endeavors to purposefully lie. Sometimes he does. Maybe even most of the time. But lying (and especially keeping up with one’s lies) is a ton of work. And Trump isn’t one for work.
    And while the president is racist, he’s not a racist, in my judgement. That’s a distinction worth making. Trump’s racism* is just like everything else associated with his name — cheap, lazy, and vacuous. That doesn’t make it forgivable by any stretch, but it’s different from the virulent, dangerous strain he not-so-subtly pushes to his base. As I often put it, you won’t find Trump awake in the wee hours of the morning penning manifestos by candlelight. You might, however, find him eating a Klondike bar by the glow of his Twitter app.
    But when it comes to business acumen and the economy, he believes it. Or at least he wants to believe it, where “it” means his own balderdash. If he accepts the reality of his business career and economic record, then what would he have to lean on when it comes to positive personal affirmation? The facts (e.g., the figure below, which I use quite often) elude him, in some cases because he refuses to engage with them. And he understandably expects his base to exhibit a similar aversion to the truth. After all, they’ve always had a penchant for suspending disbelief, so why should that stop now?
    The Boxer (Simon and Garfunkel)
    I am just a poor boy
    Though my story’s seldom told
    I have squandered my resistance
    For a pocket full of mumbles
    Such are promises
    All lies and jests
    Still a man hears what he wants to hear
    And disregards the rest

    * e.g., Trumps’s racism versus Woodrow Wilson’s racism

      1. ambrit

        Having been to a few Klan rallies in Louisiana back in the seventies (so short a time ago,) and met and talked to a few avowed Klansmen, I will assert that there is racism and then there is Racism. Lazy racists are capable of changing their attitudes. Profound Racists will die before changing a jot or tittle. The Ultras would prefer that someone else die before changing.

  9. cnchal

    > if I leave the key in the ignition it won’t let me lock the doors.

    That’s been around for decades.

    1. tegnost

      I’m fine with tech that’s driver assist, love cruise control for instance. It’s the idea that a computer can do it better than a brain (level 5) that I find hard to believe. I think the tech silly con valley solution will be to make the self driving cars safe from pedestrians rather than the other way around. Dedicated roads and that sort of thing, of course funded by the gov, profits to the scoundrels.

      1. RMO

        Stability control, brake assist and autonomous emergency braking have proven in service to have real benefits to safety. One thing they all have in common is that they are not features the driver is aware of an counting on to do the driving for them which is what the various “self-driving” setups (including Tesla’s badly named and marketed Autopilot) try to do. With those the driver has to pay serious attention monitoring the systems and be ready to take control immediately when they can’t cope. This is something humans are not particularly good at. The three features I named at the start on the other hand aren’t really “visible” to the driver normally and just sit there as a last ditch safety measure if the driver screws up so it’s like driving a regular old car except that it may well save the driver and other people in an extreme situation. I think that unless self driving technology can be developed to the state where it is, in all possible situations, better than at least the average driver (which seems awfully far off at best) it’s a non-starter.

        For me, it’s the back up camera though which I’ve found to be the most useful new feature for everyday driving. My 2018 car didn’t come with one in the lower trim level I bought (it’s included on higher spec versions with a nav and “infotainment” screen) and I had it added with a manufacturer’s accessory mirror. The much wider field of view and coverage of blind spot areas that the mirrors have make backing up and – especially – parallel parking vastly easier. I actually think I like the low end version I have over the ones that display on a larger center dash screen because it lets me keep my head and eyes up at window and mirror level at all times rather than having to look down to see the backup camera image.

  10. David

    For those still interested, an update on the situation in France two days after the murder of schoolteacher Samuel Paty.

    Tens of thousands of people joined rallies in the major cities of France this afternoon. The Prime Minister, the Education Minister and others addressed the rally in Paris, at the Place de la République, which, as far as I could see from the TV, was full to overflowing. I haven’t seen any reliable figures for Paris yet, but 15,000 people attended the rally in Lyon, the country’s second city. Politicians across the spectrum have expressed solidarity: both Yanick Jadot of the Greens, and Olivier Faure of the Socialist Party, whose parties have flirted with IdPol extremism in the past, came out solidly and emphatically for republican values. Jean-Claude Mélenchon, the Clown Prince of the Left, turned up in Paris and muttered a few banalities before scuttling away. He looked a bit apprehensive, as well he might, since he was demonstrating next to islamic fundamentalists only a few months ago. Meanwhile, the French media has been discovering, to its astonishment, that for twenty years now teachers have been threatened, harassed and even physically assaulted in certain areas for teaching the Theory of Evolution, the emancipation of women or the sufferings of the Jews in the Second World War. And amazingly, it appears, the Education hierarchy did nothing to support teachers, but told them, in the classic phrase not to “make waves.” Gosh, said the French media and establishment as one person: why did nobody tell us? To which the answer quickly arrived: we’ve been telling you for twenty years and you didn’t (familyblog)ing listen. And it’s true: there are any number of books, articles, even official reports, setting out the gradual installation of Salifism in Muslim communities in France, and its effects. For at least as long people have been warning about the abandonment of poor areas of high immigration by the State, and the denigration of the importance of the teaching profession. But nobody listened.

    So why are they listening now? Because, for the first time, French elites feel concerned and even threatened. The first victims of the Salafists, of course, were Muslims themselves: women not allowed out of the home without a male escort, children prevented from having a proper education and soaked in religious indoctrination. The first victims of the real violence in 2015 were journalists at a small circulation satirical magazine, and young people attending a rock concert. And later, a few working-class policemen were attacked. But now, the victim is someone the elites can identify with: a middle-class professional who was doing his job. It sends a cold feeling down the spine. So, present at today’s rally was Dominique Sopo, President of SOS Racisme, a tiresome IdPol organisation that usually warbles about “Islamophobia.” But Sopo talked aggressively of the defence of republican values. Why? Well, it turns out he’s a teacher, and he realises that, for all the rallies he’s been on and petitions he’s signed, he could be next.

    One reason why this is traumatic is the long, bitter struggle throughout modern French history to secure the domination of the State over organised religion. In 1905, the law separating Church and State was published against bitter resistance from the Vatican and the Church hierarchy, and the government was forced to send the Army into schools to evict nuns who had been teaching there and refused to leave. It was not until after the First World War that the Vatican finally accepted that the State, and not the Church, should be in charge of education, and the Church was among the warmest supporters of the authoritarian Vichy regime. And the Church continued to interfere in politics in an attempt to overthrow the Republic: until well into the twentieth century, country parishioners could expect to be told that to vote in elections was a mortal sin which was punishable by damnation. The choice of the Place de la République for the Paris rally was not an accident: it’s the secular values of the Republic that are under threat. The thought that the country might be about to go through a second such episode is almost more than some people can contemplate.

    But it may be too late. A generation of neglect of the poor suburbs, of endless cuts in education and social services, of “don’t make waves” and tolerance of radical salafist preachers from the Gulf, has produced a situation which has no obvious remedy. A report produced a few months ago (then ignored but now suddenly taken notice of) showed that perhaps a quarter to a third of young French Muslims accept the basic salafist premise that religious doctrine has priority over the laws of the country, and a worryingly high percentage of those do not condemn, and even approve of, violence against unbelievers. Get out of that one.

    1. jax

      Thank you, David, for the brush strokes on French politics and culture. I agree that the long neglect of the colonialized returning to the mother nation, then the immigration fiasco of 2015, has put the French into what a terrible condition.

    2. Carolinian

      I don’t think any of us are defending religious domination. Where I live there was also once a fight about prayer in schools and the teaching of evolution.

      But is it not possible that Macron and crew are now using secularism as a club instead? Didn’t they for awhile try to suppress the Yellow Vests on the grounds that it was an anti-Semitc cabal (Putin not available apparently)? When Macron tells young Muslim women that they can’t wear head scarves is that a blow for secularism or simple intolerance? I just think there are ways of moving the ball without deliberately offending people.

      1. Maxwell Johnston

        Carolinian, I read all your comments re the murder of the French teacher. I think you are well-intentioned but fundamentally wrong, and your last sentence “….without deliberately offending people…” neatly encapsulates your misunderstanding. Some people in our world are going to take offense no matter what the rest of us do, and Islamic fundamentalists fall squarely into this category. There is no way to reason with them, no way to compromise. They are fanatics. They will never fit in to ‘our’ rules; they expect us to fit in to ‘their’ rules. The French have a huge problem (as do several other Euro societies), and I do not envy their predicament. As an aside, I am mildly amused that this particular nut was a Chechen from Moscow. If VVP is successfully exporting these wackos to the EU (“political asylum”, yeah, right…), then I tip my hat to him. Well played.

        1. Donald

          Carolinian was talking about head coverings and there is no contradiction between saying that we shouldn’t offend people unnecessarily and acknowledging that there are some extremists who can’t be reached.

          I can’t comment about France, but in this country the way the liberal fanaticism about Trump and Putin and Trump’s own anti-Muslim fanaticism has been a good thing, because Islamophobia is no longer a respectable liberal bigotry as it was some years ago. Now the respectable American liberal hates Russians and since Trump is Islamophobic, for liberals Islamophobia is now a bad thing. Every moral judgment in America has to be filtered through the two party system.

          1. albrt

            Give it about 5 minutes after Trump leaves office and the liberals will be back to actual, mass-scale extrajudicial killing of Muslims. I’m not sure that’s an improvement on verbal bigotry.

      2. David

        Macron has nothing to do with the present situation apart from choosing a really lousy time to be elected President of France.
        The head-scarves issue goes back nearly twenty years, and applies to schools only. Muslim women wearing headscarves are a frequent sight in certain areas, and they are also allowed at Universities: the current President of the UNEF, the largest students’ union, is a Muslim woman who pointedly wears a headscarf all the time. In theory religious symbols are banned from all public buildings, but it was decided, to avoid a fuss, to give more latitude to Muslims. But religious symbols or garb of other religions are not allowed: a few years ago there was a fuss when the right-wing mayor of a town in the south of the country wanted to put a Christmas crib in the town hall.

        Religious dress or symbols of any kind (crucifix, jewish head covering) are banned in schools. This battle was won against the Church several generations ago, as I have recounted, and Catholic priests and nuns (who are not particularly welcome) are careful to turn up in civilian dress. Go to a French school at Christmas, for example, and there are no angels, no mangers, no nativity plays or anything religious. But about twenty years ago, and for the first time, girls started turning up at school in head-scarves. After a brief struggle, this was declared illegal and hasn’t been a problem since.

        You see many, many more Muslim women wearing had-scarves than you did a generation ago, when it was almost unknown. This is simply due to community pressure in certain areas and the influence of radical imams, mostly from the Gulf, who were allowed in because there were not enough French ones to cope with the massive increase in the Muslim population. Likewise, few Muslim women now wear skirts or dresses, for fear of being chased down the street by young men calling them prostitutes (this isn’t considered sexual harassment because racism). All of this (like the cartoon issue, which is a diversion) is the result of a careful, considered, campaign which has been going on since the 90s, to implant political Islam in France, which is a high priority objective, since it has a third of all the Muslims in Europe. Those behind this (including Qatar and Erdogan’s Turkey) see it as a way of extending their political and cultural influence. They are, as I understand it, quite similar to the religious Right in the United States, and their objectives and methods are very similar. Their purpose is to build a para-state, outside existing political structures, which they can control. They are entirely open about this objective, although they moderate their tone a bit for the media. They will push and push and when they find a weakness they will exploit it.

    3. Jos Oskam

      Thank you David for this enlightening summary. I live in France and read French newspapers but have not yet encountered a clear and concise analysis such as yours.
      And, as if to underline your conclusion, interior minister Gerald Darmanin now starts bloviating about throwing 231 radicalized immigrants out of the country.
      Talk about closing the barn door after the horses have bolted…

  11. David

    I have posted an update on the situation in France after the murder of the schoolteacher which has – not surprisingly – disappeared into moderation. If you’re interested, check back later when it will hopefully have emerged.

    1. elissa3

      Thank you David for your reporting and considered point of view. As a (long ago) French resident I like to keep up without having to look at 2 or 3 of the French dailies.

    2. flora

      Thanks for this report and yesterday’s report.

      I see parallels in a less virulent form, and not religiously oriented, with events in the US re: freedom of speech .

    3. Pavel

      Just to say thank you also, David. I have been following the tragedy fairly closely but you added a lot of detail I hadn’t seen elsewhere (during a very hectic few days). Merci.

      One would like to be able to hope that religious fanatics would put aside their, er, fanaticism during these fraught times, but it seems that a cartoon image displayed after appropriate warning is too much to handle.

      DISCLAIMER: I am an atheist and will find plenty to condemn in most religions and especially the Desert God ones. But this killing is especially abhorrent IMO.

    4. barefoot charley

      I too very much appreciate your explanations of longue duree. You’re explaining not terrorism, but France. It’s fascinating.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Thanks for all these reports David. I never would have thought that France had such a history of the Church vs the State and so recently too.

  12. Pelham

    Re Facebook and Twitter messing up the Post’s Biden takedown: As with the Podesta emails in 2016, once again a key part of the narrative is focusing on how emails were obtained rather than the content.

    Let’s say that the emails were obtained by Russia in a bid to upset the apple cart. So what? If the content is genuine, Russia (or whoever) has performed an important public service. This is vital information, all the more so because it has been revealed in an election season.

    Of course, if the story gains traction, it will upset the presidential race. Good! Biden is a nonpareil example of Washington sleaze, a well established fact over decades that somehow hasn’t made much of a public impression. This needs more exposure, and the Post’s work on this is commendable — IF the content of the emails is genuine. If it isn’t, the Bidens should forcefully take issue and offer any evidence they have to the contrary.

    However, with that stipulation of authenticity, is there any decent argument against the voting public being fully informed on these matters?

      1. Pelham

        Agreed, although the foreign policy is enmeshed with the crimes or self-dealing. The likely attitude toward China, however, is truly alarming. Multinational corporations are so committed to that market, which inevitably entails a sellout of American workers and US security.

        How likely is it that we’ll be informed about this stuff? Not very. The media have their own interests in China, especially the social media that filter our news. And then our “famously free press” (really just the thinly staffed cable news networks and the three univocal East Coast newspapers) depend heavily on ad revenues from the big corp.s that operate in China (handing over US-taxpayer-funded technologies as well as jobs) and even on direct advertising by the Chinese government itself.

        China manufactures the chemicals that go into fentanyl and ships them here, causing thousands of deaths yearly. And there’s a pretty good chance they manufactured the coronavirus. Did they release it on purpose? If so, cui bono? The virus kills mainly the aged, and I’ve read for many years that China itself has an overabundance of old people. And it’s wreaking havoc with our economy and status in the world, hastening as well the die-off in “flyover,” a bastion of American skepticism about China and a rapidly fading stronghold of “deplorables” that our China-adoring Professional Managerial Class would rather not have to mess with.

        Regarding many of these ills, Lambert often comments, “everything is going according to plan.” I choose to take that seriously.

        1. km

          Afganistan manufactures lots and lots of opiates. Lots of people die from Afghani opiates. Therefore, it is likely that Afghanistan also manufactured the COVID, since lots of people die of that, too.


          1. Pelham


            There’s no dispute that the virus orginated in Wuhan. The question is whether it was lab-generated.

            And Afghanistan had cut way back on its opiate production under the Taiban — until the US intervened and cleared the way for poppy production to ramp back up. Sooooo ….

            1. Olga

              There’s no dispute? I’d think we don’t know where it came from.
              Just because it was first identified in Wuhan does not mean that is where it actually originated. There had been reports of people experiencing similar symptoms in other parts of the world before the news from Wuhan.

      1. Mummichog

        Common Orange-Crested Dotard—That is a good one. I also like the Delaware Creeper posted above. In that light, I never understood why Obummer never caught on. Also, General Bone Spurs would, I think, have been very effective but never or little used.

        In our age, we really miss the acerbic writings of an H L Mencken and many of the journalists/commentators/observers of his day. The only biting writing I see at all is at the Daily Mail, Hitchens and a few others obliging. One the other day by a writer there something like “…and old Boris Johnson and his coterie expect us to swallow all this old flannel….”

        In this World Of Old Flannel, more caustic comment please.

  13. George Phillies

    China invades Taiwan.

    As was explained by President Eisenhower, since World War 2 large-scale amphibious invasions against great powers or their allies have become impossible. Nuclear explosions sink them. So long as the warheads are delivered under water, it is not even possible to tell for sure who delivered them.

    1. Glen

      China is already winning the battle for Taiwan. All China has to do is let America be America, and sooner or later Taiwan will cut a deal with China.

      America only exists as a viable partner to Taiwan while it can provide a market for goods, and a source of technology. America’s CEOs and billionaires are fixing that: crushing the middle class, outsourcing technology, and dumping R&D. It’s simply a matter of time given the path we are on. To Trump’s credit he can see that the out sourcing is a problem and tried to do something about it, but he could not attack the root cause of the problem: American CEOs and billionaires put greed before patriotism and continue to move American jobs and technology to China.

  14. fresno dan

    So I did my first skype call ever.
    So browbeaten by friends, I caved in and bought a webcam to do skype and/or zoom calls – (it will be fun)
    So, I know how grotesque I look, but to have the image up on the screen, moving around and talking, was shocking and alarming – and I don’t know how or if it is possible to have that little image of oneself in the corner not show. I found seeing myself so appalling and fixated on the hideousness so much that I could scarcely think of anything to say. I think I’m scarred for life.
    Not every “advancement” is an improvement…

  15. Biph

    I’m voting for Biden because he wears a mask, doesn’t mock people for wearing masks and doesn’t hold super spreader events. I was going to vote Green or none of the above, but Trump’s horrible behavior on this front has convinced me he has to go. No matter how awful Biden is and will be at least he’s acting like a responsible adult when it comes to mask wearing and avoiding large gatherings.

  16. Roland

    Can’t but pity US voters. If they want “normalcy,” they must vote for war. But if they want peace, they must re-elect a buffoon.

    Unfortunately, Trump is what passes for a dove in today’s America. Nevertheless, the question of peace and war is the most important thing in all of statecraft. When it comes to this question, Trump mostly gets it right while his opponent mostly got it wrong. Therefore, if I were a US voter, I would vote Trump.

    As for civil liberty, expect a crackdown from a Biden/Harris White House, immediately after they win, since Business As Usual matters more to them than black lives. On the other hand, a vindicated Trump will probably clear the streets, too. Crackdown either way. Civil liberty in the whole Western World has been bleeding to death since 2001, while the bourgeois consensus looks on.

  17. VietnamVet

    The tragedy is that both heads of serpent are corrupt and incompetent. There was a conscious decision in the 1980s to get richer at the expense of everyone else and hide it with propaganda. Dismantling American democracy accomplished it. Both US Presidential candidates and their apparatchik are a gerontocracy in total denial. When the truth leaks out, anyone from the Russians to the liberal media are blamed rather than admit their own complicity.

    Without a functional government that cares for its citizens, controlling the coronavirus pandemic is simply impossible. Most likely, the pandemic will wax and wane, and a million of older obese Americans will be dead. Any pretense of the USA being a democracy under the rule of law is gone. The White House is a super spreader site. The Mandate of Heaven departed. With most of the natural resources gone, a new Empire can’t rise anew. Civilization will burn and wash away. The hoarded digital wealth vanished when the electricity turned off.

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