Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – November 15, 2020


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – November 15, 2020

by Tony Wikrent

America is an undeveloping state

Trump Is Staging A Coup — Why Are Dems Not Sounding The Alarm?

David Sirota, November 10, 2020

Most ominously of all, Republican lawmakers in PennsylvaniaGeorgiaWisconsinMichigan and Arizona are already insinuating the results may be fraudulent, even though they haven’t produced any evidence of widespread fraud.

Why is public perception so important? Because as Ohio State University law professor Edward Foley shows in a frighteningly prescient 2019 article, legislatures could use the public perception of fraud to try to invoke their  constitutional power to ignore their states’ popular votes, reject certified election results and appoint slates of Trump electors.

Trump is attempting a coup in plain sight

Ezra Klein, November 7, 2020 [Vox]

[Twitter, via Heather Cox Richardson 11-9-2020]


The Empire Strikes Back

The Democrats Are Already Back on Their Bullshit: The party is back to what it does best: blaming the left for its failures.

Paul Blest, November 6, 2020 [discourseblog]

Rep. Jim Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House who represents deep-blue Charleston, SC, implied during the call that if the Democrats talk about Medicare for All or really anything that would remotely seem like the they might try to improve people’s lives once they’re in power, it would be disastrous in Georgia, where the party is trying to secure a Senate majority by taking two seats off Republicans in January runoffs.

This is despite the fact that most of the incumbent freshman members who co-sponsored Medicare for All—many of them not exactly self-described progressives, aside from Katie Porter, the most successful of the bunch—all won their races….

One thing centrist Democrats might consider is that in a lot of places, their brand is absolute garbage even if their policies are well-liked. How else do you explain a 23-point victory for a $15 minimum wage in Florida and a three-and-a-half point loss for Biden, who supported it? How do you square a 67% defeat of right-to-work in Missouri in 2018 along with a six-point loss for Claire McCaskill? What is the lesson from voters casting ballots for recreational weed in Montana and South Dakota, and medical weed in Mississippi, despite those states all going for Trump by double-digits? It’s not the fault of trans peoplesocialists, or Black Lives Matter.

The Democrats are struggling in these places for the same reason they’re beginning to get successfully primaried from the left, at the local, state, and federal level, in the urban centers they’ve ruled forever. They have not learned the lesson of why Bernie Sanders was such a force in the last two primaries even if he ultimately came up short, or the lesson of why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez resonates with so many people

Corporate Democrats Are Attacking So-Called Far-Left Policies

Senator Bernie Sanders, November 11, 2020 [USA Today, via David Sirota’s Weekly Poster 11-13-2020]

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

Here are the facts:

►112 co-sponsors of Medicare for All were on the ballot in November. All 112 of them won their races.

►98 co-sponsors of the Green New Deal were on the ballot in November. Only one of them have lost an election.

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

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Biden’s Win, House Losses, and What’s Next for the Left (interview)

[New York Times, November 7, 2020]

I think it’s going to be really important how the party deals with this internally, and whether the party is going to be honest about doing a real post-mortem and actually digging into why they lost. Because before we even had any data yet in a lot of these races, there was already finger-pointing that this was progressives’ fault and that this was the fault of the Movement for Black Lives.

I’ve already started looking into the actual functioning of these campaigns. And the thing is, I’ve been unseating Democrats for two years. I have been defeating Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee-run campaigns for two years. That’s how I got to Congress. That’s how we elected Ayanna Pressley. That’s how Jamaal Bowman won. That’s how Cori Bush won. And so we know about extreme vulnerabilities in how Democrats run campaigns.

Now We Have To Fight Trump’s Tin-Pot Coup — And Biden’s Worst Instincts

Naomi Klein [The Intercept, via David Sirota’​​​​​​​s Weekly Poster 11-13-2020]​​​​​​​

“we have to do it all: Stop the Republicans from stealing an election they lost and stop the Democrats from blowing a mandate they won.”

….most progressive organizations are working hard to avoid a repeat of a different variety of Democratic Party debacle: the one that unfolded in 2008-2009, in the months between Barrack Obama’s euphoric election win in November and his inauguration in January. That’s when Obama surrounded himself with a team of hardcore neoliberal economists and Wall Street bankers. And so, despite campaign promises to “rebuild Main Street,” address structural market failures, and arrest the climate crisis, they spent the transition mapping out a maddeningly inadequate response to the raging financing crisis, one that grossly failed working people and the planet.

As the new cabinet was being assembled and its agenda set in stone, anyone who raised concerns about where this train was obviously headed was promptly told to pipe down and “Give the guy a chance….”

What Will A Biden Presidency Be Like?

Ian Welsh, November 9, 2020

Next let us acknowledge that Biden’s career is that of a very conservative liberal. He was against de-segregation. He has voted for war over and over. He is a fiscal conservative in the worst way (aka. has often talked of cutting Social Security and Medicare.) He was for the crime bills of the 90s and a driving force behind the bankruptcy bill which made it impossible to discharge student loans, thus causing the current student loan crisis. He has said many good things about the environment lately, but he has also said he will not ban fracking. In terms of his actual record, about the only high point is his work against violence on women….

In terms of the economy, Biden is likely to bow to the deficit myth. Especially if Republicans hold the Senate (most likely), he will struggle to get money for his priorities, but worse, his career has generally shown him to be a fairly standard Democratic centrist who believes that only Republicans have the right to spend large amounts of money and that Democrats should reduce the deficit and instead of spend, rely on tax cuts. At worst Biden may be willing to cut a deal to reduce Social Security and Medicare benefits to “fix” the deficit. (This is nonsense, but it is nonsense Biden has believed his entire career.)

….One can assume that a Biden administraiton will generally be more technocratically competent. I expect the Covid response to improve significantly, for example, though stubborn red state governors and legislatures will remain a problem. Trump’s propaganda that masks don’t work; Covid is no big deal and that the closures are the problem, not the disease, will remain a huge issue crippling any American response, as will fears and refusal to take vaccines.

Getting any large aid bill through Congress will be nearly impossible if Democrats don’t retake the Senate, for the simple reason that there’s no reason for Republicans to give Democrats a win like that.

The great fear of a Biden administration, and why I only reluctantly supported Biden, is that he will start a new war…. 

Meet the contenders for Biden’s Cabinet

[Politico 11-07-20]

“What It Took”: The Price of Democrat Victory in 2020

Lambert Strether, November 9, 2020 [Naked Capitalism]

1)The Professional Managerial Class (PMC) attained class consciousness.

2) The PMC was and is embubbled by a domestic psyop.

3) The press replaced reporting with advocacy.

4) Election legitimacy is determined by extra-Constitutional actors.

5) “Fascism” became an empty signifier, not an analytical tool.

The First 100 Days

The Day One Agenda: Now More Than Ever

David Dayen, November 12, 2020 [The American Prospect]

Without signing a single new law, the next president can lower prescription drug prices, cancel student debt, break up the big banks, give everybody who wants one a bank account, counteract the dominance of monopoly power, protect farmers from price discrimination and unfair dealing, force divestment from fossil fuel projects, close a slew of tax loopholes, hold crooked CEOs accountable, mandate reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, allow the effective legalization of marijuana, make it easier for 800,000 workers to join a union, and much, much more.

America Can Have A Boom Economy Six Months From Whenever It Gets Serious

Ian Welsh, November 13, 2020

The solutions are so damn obvious and so easy…. which makes the centrists’ lack of interest even more maddening. 

….we have been unable to accomplish anything important for over 50 years. The last significant US project was the moon landing. Failure or muddled success is the norm, now. The US even loses or muddles all its wars, and when it “wins” as with Libya, well, “made a desert and called it peace.”

Because nothing really works, and because every effort is half-assed (some tax cuts and an underfunded program run by corrupt incompetents) we don’t think anything big CAN be done….

You make a mandate to get every single building energy neutral at least. The Federal government effectively guarantees all mortgages; it sets the norms. You state that no mortgage is considered conforming starting in a year to three years if it doesn’t meet the new standards. You then offer the funds for the refit. This isn’t a gift, it is paid out of savings on utilities: half to the building owner so they win, half to the government. If you insist on doing this thru financial markets, then half goes to the entity who puts up the fund….

There are a bunch of other things to do (for example, rebuild wetlands around cities and on the coast; build sea walls around cities which are too low, blah, blah), but the point should be obvious by now: you can help the environment, produce a massive number of jobs and create an economic boom. It isn’t hard (though it is complicated) you simply have to have the will to do it. Further, if you can get it going, it will soon have massive support because it will create a truly good economy for the first time in 50 odd years. People will have better things to do than squeal about red state/blue state bullshit, the era will be like the post-war period: people are making money and kids and politics is, in fact, largely consensus driven because everyone sees that what is being done works.

My one quibble — and it is not small — is that the modern conservative and libertarian movements were expressly designed, created, and lavishly funded by rich reactionaries to attack and destroy the post World War Two “liberal consensus,” which was the same as what Welsh describes here. Heather Cox Richardson provides the details of this in her book, How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for America (Oxford University Press, 2020):

In 1951, William F. Buckley Jr., a devout Catholic fresh out of Yale, the son of an oilman, suggested a new approach to destroying the liberal consensus. In God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of 'Academic Freedom," Buckley suggested that the whole idea that people would, make good decisions through argument based on evidence—the Enlightenment idea that had shaped America since its founding—was wrong. Had that been true, Americans would not have kept supporting the government activism launched by the New Deal. Americans' faith in reasoned debate was a worse "superstition,',' he said, than the superstitions the Enlightenment had set out to replace."

Rather than continuing to try to change people's beliefs through evidence-based arguments, he said, those opposed to the New Deal should, stand firm on an "orthodoxy" of religion and individualism' and refuse to accept any questioning of those two fundamental principles. Buckley's book showed how this should be done. Rather than making a reasoned argument that fairly presented others' positions, it misrepresented the views of the professors with whom Buckley disagreed, claimed that the wealthy white Yale-educated Buckley was a 'member of a persecuted minority, and smeared supporters of the liberal consensus as the tools of socialists and atheists. (p. 152)

Disrupting mainstream economics

Introduction to The New Economics: A Manifesto 

Steve Keen [via Naked Capitalism 11-14-20]

...the epicentre of the Great Recession was the US financial system itself: the crisis came from inside the economy, rather than from outside. Surely there were warning signs? As Queen Elizabeth herself put it when she attended a briefing at the London School of Economics in 2008, "If these things were so large, how come everyone missed them?" (Greenhill 2008).

Not all economists did: there were some who warned that a crisis was not merely likely, but imminent. The Dutch economist Dirk Bezemer identified a dozen, of whom I was one (Keen 1995; Keen 2007; Bezemer 2009; Bezemer 2009; Bezemer 2010). Though these economists came from disparate backgrounds, Bezemer noted that they had one negative characteristic in common: "no one predicted the crisis on the basis of a neo-classical framework" (Bezemer 2010, p. 678).

The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

“Non-Competes and Other Contracts of Dispossession”

[SSRN, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-12-20]

“Employers have used non-compete clauses to deprive tens of millions of workers of the freedom to change jobs or start their own businesses. In occupations ranging from home health aide to journalist and sandwich shop worker, employers have used this legal power to their great benefit. Non-compete clauses reduce worker mobility, help employers keep wages and wage growth down, deter small business formation, entrench potentially abusive, discriminatory, or hostile work environments, and fortify market power to the detriment of workers, rivals, consumers, and broader society…. Non-competes are merely one example of abusive contractual terms that the legal system has condoned or tolerated. Other terms, such as mandatory arbitration, class action waivers, confessions of judgment, and unilateral modification, reflect a ubiquitous economic and political problem. Corporations use these contractual terms to unilaterally rob consumers, suppliers, and workers of a wide range of constitutional and statutory rights. Like non-competes, these contractual terms are established in an environment of radical inequality between a corporation and a worker, consumer, or small business and are often contingent and non-salient to the person or business who must accept them. The result of these contracts of dispossession is the loss of legal recourse for wrongdoing, loss of possessions, and the imposition of unaccountable private governments.”

“California’s 40-Year-Old Tax Revolt Survives a Counterattack”

[ New York Times, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-11-20]

“The new law, Proposition 15, would have removed commercial properties like office buildings and industrial parks from Proposition 13’s limits, and it would have given labor and progressive groups a long-sought victory to increase funding for education and local services. The Associated Press called the result of the Nov. 3 vote on the measure on Tuesday night, when the count was 51.8 percent to 48.2 percent against it.”

“‘Proposition 22 Is a Backlash to Victories Workers Have Had” (interview)

[FAIR, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-12-20]

Rey Fuentes, Partnership for Working Families: “That’s what we think is the worst component of the ballot initiative; it’s really actually two things that have not received as much attention as possible. And, again, the quick efforts by these companies to spin the narrative as something about protecting employee freedom and independence, and protecting flexibility, have really provided the type of misdirection that has prevented people from realizing that, exactly as you described, the proposition contains a 7/8ths supermajority vote requirement. So if the legislature in the future wants to expand rights for these workers, or wants to ensure that some other protections are provided, they will be unable to do so unless they get a 7/8ths majority vote of the state legislature. And I heard somebody say something pretty funny, but horrible in this situation, that you couldn’t get a 7/8ths majority vote for a Happy Mother’s Day Proclamation from the state legislature. So it’s difficult to imagine important social legislation protecting workers passing by that threshold in our current legislature. And the other thing that it does, that I also think was underreported, was the fact that it now preempts, or cancels, any local law that would protect workers, and regulate things like local wages, access to tips or insurance requirements for drivers: All the things that local governments are best suited to do in their jurisdiction, they now do not have the power to do it, because the ballot initiative preempts those laws. So they’ve essentially knocked out any way to change the law from the top, or any way to improve it from localities on the ground. That’s why we’ve described it as an attempt to essentially deregulate these industries, and at least as of Tuesday, they were successful, but I don’t think the fight ends there.” 

Biden’s Transition Team Is Stuffed With Amazon, Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb Personnel 

[Vice, via Naked Capitalism 11-13-20]

….such as Bridget Dooling, a professor at George Washington who works out of the “non-partisan” Koch-funded Regulatory Studies Center who conjures academic research defending the deregulation of the fossil fuel industry.

Staffing a transition team with lobbyists and tech insiders (even ones with a lot of government experience) certainly cuts against the message that Biden is leading an effort to bolster labor and bring Silicon Valley to heel. This is especially critical since Uber has said that it would seek to expand Proposition 22 beyond California.

Slice the Money Cannon Into Money for the People

David Dayen, November 12, 2020 [The American Prospect]

The latest Institute for Policy Studies reporting finds that just the top 644 U.S. billionaires have made $931 billion since roughly the passage of the CARES Act, a figure that more than doubles the $454 billion in public dollars authorized to construct it.

“Virgin Hyperloop Has Invented The World’s Crappiest High-Speed Rail”

[Defector, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-12-20]

Virgin Hyperloop, an American company despite the Richard Branson branding, proposes to use a combination of magnetic levitation, or “maglev”—a decades-old technology that has been in commercial operation moving real trains filled with real people in, for example, Shanghai, China, at speeds up to 268 miles per hour, for 17 goddamn years…. 

France opened the TGV in 1981. Japan’s oldest high-speed line debuted in 1964—1964!—and was better and faster then than Amtrak’s Acela trains go now. Shanghai’s maglev train has been operable since John Kerry was campaigning to unseat George W. Bush as president. Measure speed by the number of riders the respective services will have moved by, say, 2050. Measure it in carbon emissions. By the year 2020, the best-funded and most sophisticated high-speed rail developer in the United States moved two (2) people 500 meters.

The United States is generations behind much of the rest of the wealthy, industrialized world in this area. For all but a very narrow corridor along the East Coast serviced by the weak half-a-loaf shit that passes for high-speed rail in this country, the best an American commuter can hope for in intercity rail options are crappy and ancient diesel Amtrak trains that top out at around 80 miles per hour. Most American cities simply are not serviced by any intercity rail network at all. 

The Pandemic

The Great Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020—7 Critical Lessons 

[JAMA, via Naked Capitalism 11-12-20]

Pandemics that changed the world: historical reflections on COVID-19 (PDF) [Journal of Global History, via Naked Capitalism 11-12-20]

Lambert Strether: “This is the introductory article to a special issue on the pandemic. Lots of free (!) good stuff here.”

Health Care Crisis

Picking the wrong health insurance is a $2,000 mistake 

[MarketWatch, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-11-20]

“Almost a quarter of employees faced with the choice of two employer-sponsored health-care plans picked the one that left them worse off financially, even though they offered the same non-cost benefits, according to new unpublished research we conducted. Using data from a large university in the Midwest that offered to subsidize one of two health-care plans, we wanted to see how hard it is for people to make the better choice when given only two options. The plans were identical in every respect other than their costs. One plan had much higher premiums but lower out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles and co-payments for the employee. Our analysis found that 97% of the 2,300 employees would have been better off with the other plan, which had lower premiums but higher cost-sharing. Yet 23% chose the higher-premium plan anyway. The average cost per year of choosing the wrong plan was over $2,000, according to our paper, which we plan to submit for publication soon.” • First, why are people even forced into this insane choice? What is the point? Second, perhaps the “high premium”/”low deductibles” plan let those who chose it sleep better at night. Who wants to stump $10,000 as soon as they need care?

The United States is an Outlier

Barry Ritholtz, November 11, 2020 [The Big Picture]

Restoring balance to the economy

“Can the Bank of Solidarity smash payday lenders?”

[Alice Marshall, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-12-20]

“After Bernie withdrew from the Presidential race I began to look for ways I could make a difference. I remain convinced that electoral activism is part of how we take America back; but for the immediate future all meaningful progress will come out of direct action. I have started to get active with the DC Tenants Union and Stomp Out Slumlords, because it is clear that our elected leaders have no plan to cope with the coming eviction crisis. However, eviction resistance was not enough for me, so I decided to join DC Mutual Aid. You have to fill out a form and be approved, to prevent law enforcement from infiltrating the group. DC Mutual Aid grew out of the local Black Lives Matter organization. Every mutual aid group will reflect the community that created it…. Once a week people are allowed to post requests for cash. (the Cash App, Pay Pal, Venmo, or whatever they are using). Usually they are short of their electricity bill or have some other emergency where you really need cash. It seems there is some controversy about this, traditionally Mutual Aid does not involve cash. But speaking for myself, I am glad for it, because otherwise I would not be able to participate in the work of the group. Every Friday I give what little I can spare and feel a little less helpless…. The more I thought about it the more I realized how important the Friday cash requests are to the movement. When someone is in a bind what choice do they have? Too often it is go to a Pay Day Lender. When they come to Mutual Aid we can take care of their need and deprive Pay Day lenders of a victim. Could we build up the group enough to smash the local Pay Day lenders? I don’t know, but it is worth a try.”

Predatory Finance

The Fed Says It’s Considering a Central Clearing Facility for the Treasury Market
Pam Martens and Russ Martens, November 13, 2020 [Wall Street on Parade]

The Vice Chairman for Supervision at the Federal Reserve, Randal Quarles, dropped a bombshell during the House Financial Services Committee hearing held yesterday, but because mainstream media ignores these hearings unless they have something to do with Donald Trump, this critical news went unreported….

“So, as we look at the lessons from the Treasury market in March, we have been looking closely at this issue of central clearing of Treasuries. The advantage would be that central clearing would reduce pressure on dealer balance sheets. The current system requires dealers take those Treasuries onto their balance sheets when there isn’t another side to the trade. That’s obviously a significant strain.”

….One critical aspect regarding securing the integrity of the U.S. Treasury market involves the failure of William Barr’s U.S. Department of Justice to properly charge JPMorgan Chase for what the Justice Department described on September 29 as “thousands of instances of unlawful trading in U.S. Treasury futures contracts and in U.S. Treasury notes and bonds…” JPMorgan’s illegal manipulation of the Treasury market, which is essential, as Congressman Foster said, to the confidence in the U.S. Dollar as the world’s reserve currency, went on for more than eight years.

Information Age Dystopia​​​​​​​

Your Computer Isn’t Yours 

[Jeffrey Paul, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-13-20]

“On modern versions of macOS, you simply can’t power on your computer, launch a text editor or eBook reader, and write or read, without a log of your activity being transmitted and stored…. It turns out that in the current version of the macOS, the OS sends to Apple a hash (unique identifier) of each and every program you run, when you run it. Lots of people didn’t realize this, because it’s silent and invisible and it fails instantly and gracefully when you’re offline, but today the server got really slow and it didn’t hit the fail-fast code path, and everyone’s apps failed to open if they were connected to the internet…. The day that Stallman and Doctorow have been warning us about has arrived this week. It’s been a slow and gradual process, but we are finally here.” 

[via The Big Picture 11-12-20]

Disrupting mainstream politics

The Three Progressive Policies Voters Seem to Love
By JORDAN WEISSMANN, NOV 06, 2020 [Slate]3

Why is it that the three m’s seem to have so much bipartisan appeal? If I had to guess, I’d say it’s because each of them is a fairly simple, easy-to-understand policy that can make a concrete difference in people’s lives and appeals to Americans’ sense of fairness without overly upsetting the status quo. Do you think workers deserve to be able to support themselves? Then vote for that minimum wage hike. Do you think everyone deserves health care, even if you’re nervous about the government toying with your own plan? Then back Medicaid. Do you think people should be able to enjoy a mostly harmless buzz without having to worry about the cops? Then legalize ganja. These aren’t complicated tax credits or grand schemes to combat income inequality. They’re bread-and-butter items that people like, and that Republicans tend to stubbornly oppose (especially the Medicaid expansion).

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism]


[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-11-20]



[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-11-20]


“A Battle for the Soul of the Democratic Party”

Marianne Williamson [Newsweek, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-9-20]

“Donald Trump did not create those situations; those situations created Donald Trump. And if the Biden administration reflexively falls back into the institutionalized patterns of soft injustice that produced the dysfunction to begin with, rather than springing forward into fundamental disruptions of those patterns, then the next truck could be even bigger…. Joe Biden’s win is not a healing; it’s a reprieve. Now, not later, is the time to make that very clear both to ourselves and to him. The Democratic Party has no basis for self-congratulations at this point. When your opponent is a neo-fascist who has more in common with Mussolini than with Lincoln and has supervised the death of almost a quarter-million Americans, yet all you can do is beat him by a razor-thin margin, that is not a sign that things are going well. It’s a sign that some merciful force to be greatly praised came through at the last minute and saved you.”

“Bernie would have already won”

Carl Beijer [via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-11-20]

“The answer to that last one is clear: if you wanted to landslide Trump, you should have nominated Bernie Sanders. There are two basic prongs to this; let’s address them both in turn. (1). Biden’s supposed advantages over Sanders have proven to be grossly overstated. One major argument for Biden, promoted by everyone from his campaign to Lincoln Project / Never-Trump pundits, was that his candidacy would be uniquely appealing to conservatives and Republicans…. Despite highly publicized defections from Trump among elites and a historically unprecedented outreach campaign to Republicans and conservatives, Joe Biden has performed worse among these groups than Hillary Clinton did in 2016…. (2). Biden’s weaknesses were Sanders’s strengths… Biden may have slightly improved on Clinton’s poor showing with poor voters, but he is still significantly underperforming the standard set by Obama in previous years. We have good reason to believe that Sanders — running on a platform of single payer healthcare, generous welfare benefits, and other programs aimed specifically at the poor – would have fared much better…. Note that Sanders also had a higher proportion of voters among the middle income bracket: the group where Biden overperformed, winning a 13 point margin among voters that Democrats have lost since 2008. Meanwhile, the only income group that Biden tended to fare better among — the wealthiest — is the group that he lost to Trump by a decisive 11 points. These numbers correspond directly with standard socialist intuitions about how a Sanders campaign would have played out. He would have run on class war, running up his margins among the poor and middle income brackets (IE, the overwhelming majority of voters) while boxing Trump in among the wealthiest voters. … Sanders also performed strongly among another major voting group that Biden struggled with: Latinos.”

The Good Scenario For America’s Future

Ian Welsh, November 10, 2020

So, the default scenario is that Biden rules for 4 to 8 years, maybe Harris for another 4, then we get a more disciplined right wing “populist.” In the meantime, nothing that will actually change the trend-lines has been done about climate change or the continued concentration of wealth and power. America continues to be divided into two tribes who hate each other, while the West as a whole stagnates under neoliberalism….

What’s the good scenario for the United States?

AOC, basically. In 2022 she takes out Schumer and becomes a Senator. In 2024 she primaries Biden or Harris and wins. AOC is popular, Schumer is a lame duck. If she goes for him, I give her the nod to win. Having taken out the Senate leader, she looks unstoppable.

The primary will be extremely difficult to win. Obama, Clinton, Clyburn and all the usual suspects will do everything they can to cheat her of a win, just as they did with Sanders twice. But AOC is clearly Bernie’s heir, having saved his bacon when he had a heart-attack, and never having betrayed him as Warren did. Unlike Sanders, she is genuinely charismatic, and like him she will pack massive arenas and have huge support from the grassroots and activists….

Then we come to the general election. Contrary to what centrists claim, progressives running on Medicare-4-All did very well in this election, as did policies like a $15/hour wage. An aggressively progressive platform, with concrete job promises so people know where they go when fracking goes away, can win. A real Green New Deal offers tens of millions of good jobs…. In fact, I see the primary as a bigger problem than the General: if AOC gets the nomination, she’s likely to win, because she can run both against unpopular Democratic politics and Republican ones. Running on an actual popular program, she stands a good chance of controlling both the House and Senate.

“Democrats Can’t Blame the Left for Their Lackluster Election Results”

[Jacobin, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-13-20]

“Had Democrats delivered the landslide many were promising right up until election day, it’s not difficult to imagine the conclusions that would have ensued. Having defeated Bernie Sanders’s insurgent campaign for the Democratic nomination and run the pathologically centrist Biden in his place, centrists would have viewed the result as ultimate proof of the Left’s irrelevance. We all know, of course, that the election yielded nothing of the kind…. As both Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have argued, no fewer than a hundred twelve House cosponsors of Medicare for All stood for election and not a single one lost (at least eight Democratic House members who ran against Medicare for All, meanwhile, were defeated). Of the Green New Deal’s ninety-three cosponsors, ninety-two will be returning to Congress in January. As Ben Burgis points out, left-wing organizing work in states like Michigan also played a significant role in ensuring Biden’s victory at the top of the ballot.”

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-11-20]


[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-11-20]


DeSantis pushes expansion of Stand Your Ground law as part of ‘anti-mob’ crackdown 

[Miami Herald, via Naked Capitalism 11-14-20]

Gov. Ron DeSantis has drafted “anti-mob” legislation that would expand Florida’s Stand Your Ground law — a move that critics say will allow armed citizens to shoot suspected looters or anyone engaged in “criminal mischief” that disrupts a business.

Lawyers say it’s just one of the many troubling aspects of the draft bill being pushed by the Republican governor in response to police-brutality protests that erupted across Florida and the United States this summer.

“It allows for vigilantes to justify their actions,” said Denise Georges, a former Miami-Dade County prosecutor who had handled Stand Your Ground cases. “It also allows for death to be the punishment for a property crime — and that is cruel and unusual punishment. We cannot live in a lawless society where taking a life is done so casually and recklessly.”

The Conservative Movement Needs a Reckoning

[New York Times 11-9-2020]

The second reason Trump lost is that conservatives never tried to check his immorality. They rationalized, excused, enabled and ultimately celebrated it. For Trump’s presidency to have had even a faint chance of succeeding, he needed his allies and fellow travelers to provide reality checks and expressions of disapproval, including occasions of outright revolt. What he mainly got was an echo chamber….

Less forgivable was the political Manichaeism turned into moral nihilism: When the left is always, definitionally, “worse than the right,” then the right feels entitled to permit itself everything, no matter how badly it trashes conservative policies (outreach to North Korea), betrays conservative principles (trade tariffs), debases the office (arms-for-dirt with Ukraine) or shames the nation (child separation). Stalinists used to justify their crimes in much the same way.

Two recent developments will force the ad industry to democratize RW radio. 

[DailyKos, November 12, 2020]

Two reasons why the advertising industry will have to break up Republican talk radio

1 — Artificial intelligence — Advances in artificial intelligence make it faster, easier, and cheaper to accurately transcribe talk radio, with little or no actual listening required. Every advertiser and university and professional sports team that broadcasts on those stations can be directly associated with the content they are helping to sponsor. They all share responsibility for the Trump and COVID disasters and whatever happens in the transition to the Biden Harris administration. Digitizing and monitoring talk radio will force them to own that responsibility….

2 — Limbaugh is on the way out — Rush Limbaugh has recently  announced that his lung cancer is terminal. The Republican talk radio monopoly was built around him. 

Charles Koch Says His Partisanship Was a Mistake 

[Wall Street Journal, via Naked Capitalism 11-14-20]

Lambert Strether’s summary: “Translation: Now he thinks he can buy Democrats too.”

And, some of the reactions from commenters on the DailyKos story on 11-13-2020, “Charles Koch: "Boy did we screw up! What a mess!": 

Nov 13, 2020 at 06:03:11 PM

I decorated the whole place in oily rags, then I invited a bunch of meth heads over, cranked up Korn and Wagner at the same time, and left them in the living room with fireworks and a crate of matches. Things didn’t work out well. Sorry about your house. Still friends, though, right?


Nov 13, 2020 at 07:30:13 PM

The killing was a mistake, all it caused was unneeded death.

The Dark Side

In wake of election, 25 lawsuits filed over election’s conduct 

[Ballotpedia, via Naked Capitalism 11-12-20] Finally an aggregation ffs.

Growing Discomfort at Law Firms Representing Trump in Election Lawsuits

[New York Times 11-9-2020]

Some senior lawyers at Jones Day, one of the country’s largest law firms, are worried that it is advancing arguments that lack evidence and may be helping Mr. Trump and his allies undermine the integrity of American elections, according to interviews with nine partners and associates, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect their jobs.

At another large firm, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, based in Columbus, Ohio, lawyers have held internal meetings to voice similar concerns about their firm’s election-related work for Mr. Trump and the Republican Party, according to people at the firm. At least one lawyer quit in protest.

Jones Day To Prepare For A Bad PR Campaign The Likes Of Which They’ve Never Seen Before: Their clients can also expect an onslaught.

[Above The Law, via The Big Picture 11-12-20]

“Hal Rogers’s Kentucky Kingdom” [Tarance Ray, Dissent, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-13-20] “[A]s a former Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, the elite “College of Cardinals” that manages the government’s budget, and the ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, [Rogers is] one of the most powerful men in Washington…. Most people, when they think of powerful politicians from Kentucky, think of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who over the last decade or so has singlehandedly reshaped how Congress functions, and has all but ensured the prioritization of corporate interests within the federal judiciary. So you’re telling me there’s another powerful congressman from Kentucky who has control over virtually every aspect of my life? That is indeed what I’m telling you, my friend, and it’s no coincidence that both of these men come from the mostly rural state of Kentucky…. As the nation’s rural regions experienced deindustrialization, out-migration, drug-assisted suicide, or a combination of all the above over the last three or four decades, rural elites had to figure out a way to maintain control over their constituents. Many of them turned to Rogers’s example.” • This is must read; I can’t really excerpt it properly, it’s so dense.

[via The Big Picture 11-11-20]