Monday, December 28, 2020

British Medical Educator Aghast At Mass Travel During Raging Pandemic

 "I've just listened to a popular news report. There's one hundred and fifteen million people traveling for Christmas and New Year in the United States. One hundred and fifteen million people traveling. Can this be true? Can an intelligent, sophisticated nation like the United States embark on this suicidal path? It appears so. One hundred and fifteen million people are traveling. So let me tell you what this means. It means the infection is spreading rampantly. It means we're going to get a massive increase in diagnosed cases in the next week or two. It means that cases are going to absolutely surge in January, the beginning and the middle of January. The first three weeks in January cases are going to absolutely surge and that means hospitalizations and deaths will surge towards the end of January. This is like night follows day. This will happen."


        --------Dr. John Campbell, December 24, 2020

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Debating Chomsky on Lesser Evilism, BLM, Stolen Elections, and Responsibility For WWII

Noam Chomsky has long stated that the judgment as to which of two candidates represents the lesser evil is a virtual no-brainer, requiring no more than a few minutes time to make. So how come he himself can't make it? To wit:


In a July, 2020 interview he declared that there “was a big difference” between Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon in the 1968 presidential elections, a difference “you could count in several million corpses in Indochina.” But, Chomsky added, “a lot of the young people on the left said, “I’m not going to vote for Humphrey. He’s a corporate Democrat. I can’t sully my hands on that. So I won’t vote.” In effect, said Chomsky, this meant that they “help[ed] Nixon win,” and more specifically, they “help[ed] kill a couple million people in Indochina, plus a lot of other (bad) things.”

In other words, Humphrey was the lesser evil in 1968.


Twenty years ago, speaking with David Barsamian of Alternative Radio about the very same elections, Chomsky said the opposite:
“I could not bring myself to vote for Humphrey. I did not vote for Nixon. But my feeling at the time, and in retrospect I think it’s probably correct, was that a Nixon victory was probably marginally beneficial in winding down the Indochina wars, probably faster than the Democrats would have. It was horrendous, but maybe less horrible than it would have been.

In short, Nixon was the lesser evil in 1968.


So Chomsky disagrees with himself on this topic. The question is why.


Unless he's lying, which is extremely unlikely, the answer has to be that determining the lesser evil between two appalling choices is not so easy, and certainly not the no-brainer Chomsky claims it is.  


A further contradiction involves what Chomsky calls an "organizing space," which he claims it is very important to have. Under Biden, he alleges, organizers will at least have some room to present their case and agitate for it to be adopted, whereas under Trump he claims this space does not exist, or won't be effective, which amounts to the same thing.


But for years he has said that organizing is a function of popular will, not of what already exists to be taken advantage of. He's pointed out that "people have gotten themselves organized" in far more difficult circumstances than those that prevail in the United States, mentioning El Salvador in the 1980s as an example. There, a largely peasant society was subjected to near-genocide, but got itself organized and became part of the power structure, though the basic class conflict is far from resolved even today. Still, Chomsky is right to point to it as a success of popular organizing.


But today, he says, effective organizing is an impossibility in the U.S. because Donald Trump. 


Tell it to the ghost of Archbishop Romero.


Furthermore, the phenomenon of Democratic Party "tolerance" for mass movements raises other issues. For example, this past summer Democratic leaders sanctioned mass protests of the George Floyd murder, but this contradicted their previous warnings that mass congregations were deadly super-spreader events. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio absurdly announced that all mass gatherings were banned for public health reasons, except for BLM protests. Chomsky implicitly praised the BLM protesters by observing that they were risking their lives (in a presumed noble cause), but made no mention of their infecting and killing other people, which public health warnings indicate they inevitably did.  Subsequent announcements to the effect that American race relations are a public health emergency, too, and therefore BLM protests deserve to be excused from coronavirus guidelines, were unconvincing in their partisanship, inasmuch as small business owners protesting the destruction of their livelihoods failed to qualify for a similar exemption. 

This can only encourage the conclusion that liberals and leftists are interested in virtue-signaling for their pet causes, not in justice for all. 


Yet more double standards emerge from the whole issue of Trump's brazen attempt to steal the 2020 elections, which are not over even now.  After all, Chomsky concedes that JFK stuffed the ballot in order to win the 1960 election, but praises Nixon's forbearance in accepting the illegitimate result for the good of the country. This is a curious stance. The implication would seem to be that we should just accept it if Trump fails to vacate the Oval Office come January 20. 


 Yes, for the sake of consistency, folks, a second term for the Donald -  an unearned one, just like JFK got! 


And unlike JFK, Trump actually won legitimately - in 2016 - but the DNC, the entire corporate media (except for Fox), and the intelligence agencies refused to concede the fact, spending four years carrying out a rolling coup d'etat against him. Attempts were made to make electors in the electoral college vote for someone other than Trump, show trials were carried out in the media (Russiagate, etc.), tech giant censorship was eagerly promoted, and on and on and on.  


But now the only thing that allegedly matters is Trump's counter-coup. Long live hypocrisy. 

Finally, Chomsky likes to remind the American left of the 1932 German elections, when social democrats and Communists failed to come together to stop Adolf Hitler from taking power. He places the blame primarily on the Communists for this, as they called everyone but themselves "social fascists," thus suggesting that there was no essential difference between social democrats and Nazis. 

Here Chomsky omits any mention of how the Social Democrats might have come to be so labeled.  For example, in 1924, political scientist Michael Parenti reports, Social Democratic officials in the Ministry of Interior used Reichswehr and Free Corps fascist paramilitary troops to attack left-wing demonstrators. Seven thousand workers were jailed and Communist newspapers were suppressed. Maybe this is why Chomsky concedes that the Social Democrats "weren't much better" than the Communists he condemns.


In fact, they may have been worse.  In the December 1932 elections there were three candidates in the running:  the conservative Hindenburg, the Nazi Hitler, and the Communist Thaelmann. Thaelmann argued that a vote for Hindenburg was essentially a vote for Hitler, and would result in war. The Social Democrats joined with the bourgeois press in denouncing this view as "Moscow inspired." Hindenburg was re-elected while Nazi support in the Reichstag dropped by about two million votes from its previous peak. The Social Democrats refused to form a last-minute coalition against Nazism, preferring to side with reactionaries rather than "Reds." 


Meanwhile, the right coalesced behind the Nazis, and Hindenburg shortly invited Hitler to become chancellor.


After that, it was a long, complicated path to world war, with blame falling on many sides; and without world war, it's extremely unlikely that truly massive killing of Jews and other minorities would have occurred. In other words, the German left's failure to stop Hitler's ascension to power, while lamentable, can't reasonably be held responsible for crimes committed during wartime a decade later. War always has deep roots and multiple causes, and can't be said to be the product of a single election, however important.


So there was plenty of blame to go around for the coming of war. For one thing, the fanatical anti-Communism of what later became the Allied powers made it impossible for them to join in a united front with Stalin until far too late, though the overture was repeatedly made. They preferred to turn Hitler loose in the East, where it was happily anticipated he would be massacring Communist hordes, not human beings, who were assumed to exist only in the West.


Failure to perceive our common humanity unleashed the demons of our common inhumanity. By the end of the "good war" the "morals of extermination" (Lewis Mumford) emerged as the property of the proud victors as much as they were of the vanquished, witness the mass cremation of Dresden, Hamburg, and Tokyo, and the atomic incinerations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 


Maybe we should blame American voters for unleashing a genocidal FDR on an unsuspecting world?




On the 1932 German elections, see Michael Parenti, Blackshirts & Reds - Rational Fascism & the Overthrow of Communism (City Lights, 1997) p. 5 


On Humphrey being the lesser evil in 1968, see WowFEST: Lockdown Presents Noam Chomsky “A Letter From America,” You Tube, July 14, 2020


On Nixon being the lesser evil in 1968, see Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian, “Propaganda and the Public Mind,” (South End, 2001) p. 136


Tuesday, December 22, 2020


 "In the middle of the seventeenth century, agrarian communities that defied the all-powerful nobility spread across the fields of England and survived."


"Centuries have passed and the words spoken and written by one of the communities' stalwarts, Gerrard Winstanley, still resound: 

The Father is the Spirit of Community and thy Mother is the Earth.

In the beginning of Time, the great Creator Reason, made the Earth to be a Common Treasury, but not one word was spoken that one branch of mankind should rule over another.

Every man and woman shall have the free liberty to marry whom they love, if they can obtain the love and liking of that party whom they would marry.

If the earth were set free from kingly bondage, many secrets of God and his works in nature would be made public, which men nowadays keep secret to get a living by. But when commonwealth's freedom is established, then will knowledge cover the earth, as the waters cover the seas."


------Eduardo Galeano, Hunter of Stories

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Thomas Sowell vs. Noam Chomsky


In an interview with Peter Robinson, Thomas Sowell (Hoover Institution) criticizes the political work of Noam Chomsky on grounds that make clear he does not distinguish Chomsky's libertarian socialism from the technocratic and highly militarized state capitalism favored by liberal elites. Incredibly, Sowell lumps him in with the liberal intelligentsia Chomsky has long attacked, ignoring the glaring fact that liberal elites loathe Chomsky precisely because of the brilliant and unanswerable nature of that attack. 


It is unclear if Sowell knows anything at all about Chomsky, as he cites nothing from his work and even mispronounces his name. His complaint is directed at intellectuals in general, and Chomsky by arbitrary inclusion, namely, that he, and they, go beyond their areas of specialized knowledge to ignorantly comment on society and politics, leading the unwary masses that embrace their ideas to catastrophe, when they otherwise might have achieved the best of all possible worlds by accepting the choices offered by the "free market," supplemented by those presented in periodic political mud-wrestling contests known as elections. Embodied in these two institutions, apparently, is the greatest social and political wisdom of which the human species is capable, a rather nauseating thought.


In any event, here is the part of the interview that deals with Chomsky: 


Peter Robinson: When you refer to intellectuals in Intellectuals and Society, whom do you mean?


Sowell:  I mean people whose end products are ideas. There are other people with great intelligence whose end products are things like the Salk vaccine. . . . the engineer is judged by the end product, which is not simply ideas. If he builds a building that collapses it doesn't matter how brilliant his idea was, he's ruined. Conversely, if an intellectual who is brilliant has an idea for re-arranging society and that ends in disaster, he pays no price at all.


Robinson: (Quoting directly from Sowell's book Intellectuals and Society): "The fatal misstep of intellectuals is assuming that superior ability within a particular realm can be generalized to superior wisdom or morality overall. Chess grand masters, musical prodigies and others who are as remarkable within their respective specialties as intellectuals within theirs, seldom make that mistake."


Robinson (in his own voice): Noam Chomsky, whom you write about in Intellectuals and Society, whose work in linguistics - in the first place I can't understand it - but as best as I can tell - 


Sowell: Highly regarded.


Robinson: Exactly. Everyone who understands his technical work within the field, within his discipline in linguistics, considers him one of the great figures of the twentieth century. And his work in politics?


Sowell: Absurdity. The same could be said of Bertrand Russell and his landmark work on mathematics and other people in other fields, but they step outside their fields, and when you step outside your level of specialty, sometimes that's like stepping off a cliff . . . If Noam Chomsky had just kept on, stayed in linguistics, neither of us probably would have ever heard of Noam Chomsky. He would have been just as famous around the world among linguists, nobody else would have heard of him.[1]


In short, he's become famous because the stupid masses he appeals to don't recognize that in venturing an opinion outside his academic specialty he's peddling nonsense.


This critique of Chomsky makes little sense. In the first place, he was a political activist long before he was a linguistics professor, so the question is not why he left a field he was knowledgeable in to become a leading figure in a field he knew nothing about, but actually the reverse: How did the (broadly learned) activist Chomsky become a specialized linguist? The answer is that his father was an accomplished linguist himself, and young Noam read his work on medieval grammar, later developing ideas of his own that ended up revolutionizing the field. Then in the Vietnam years he was drawn into anti-war activism that nearly earned him a long prison term when he turned up on Richard Nixon's enemies list, though he was saved at the last minute by the Tet Offensive. Be that as it may, Chomsky never attempted to use his specialized knowledge of linguistics to claim special insight into politics, and regularly corrected those who assumed he had special insight. Over and over he stated that he acted as an ordinary private citizen, just as others ought do, aided only by honesty and common sense, which he insists are the only necessary qualities for engaging in political work. Apparently, Sowell believes in the infallibility of established institutions, as he automatically labels protest against them "absurdity." But what possible grounds can there be for such a peculiar belief? 


Interestingly, Chomsky actually agrees with Sowell that intellectuals function as a secular priesthood whose ruinously destructive ideology is a mask for self-interest,  and has advanced a far more thorough and penetrating critique of their illegitimate authority and moral bankruptcy than anything Sowell has on offer.  His fundamental criticism, however, centers on the obvious (that social science isn't really scientific):


"I would simply like to emphasize that, as is no doubt obvious, the cult of the expert is both self-serving, for those who propound it, and fraudulent. Obviously, one must learn from social and behavioral science whatever one can . . . But it will be quite unfortunate, and highly dangerous, if they are not accepted and judged on their merits and according to their actual, not pretended accomplishments. In particular, if there is a body of theory, well-tested and verified, that applies to the conduct of foreign affairs . . . its existence has been kept a well-guarded secret . . . To anyone who has any familiarity with the social and behavioral sciences . . . .the claim that there are certain considerations and principles too deep for the outsider to comprehend is simply an absurdity."[2]


In other words, ordinary citizens' educated guesses as to the nature of society and politics are as valid as anyone else's. Just how is this an example of the "star power" of a public intellectual leading the masses to perdition? If anything, it demonstrates the opposite: a helpful reminder to ordinary citizens that they have at least as much insight into current events as the most brilliant intellectual, and need not defer to anyone else on politics. But Sowell grants Chomsky no credit for this sharp attack on the central fallacy of meritocratic intellectualism, preferring to mindlessly accuse him of being the embodiment of elite condescension, instead of its most powerful critic.


Indeed, if Chomsky is out to conquer the non-specialist with misapplied expertise, he has a peculiar method - unilateral disarmament. For as he openly states, specialized knowledge is irrelevant to developing political insight:


" . . . . . to take apart the system of illusions and deception which functions to prevent understanding of contemporary reality, that's not a task that requires extraordinary skill or understanding. It requires the kind of normal skepticism and willingness to apply one's analytical skills that almost all people have and that they can exercise."[3]


Which is why Chomsky is famous for clarity of expression in speaking and writing about politics. Leaving aside specialized terminology in preference for an honest exchange with ordinary people on issues of mutual concern, his reward is not a puffed up reputation based on intellectual grandstanding, but large, appreciative audiences who sell out his political talks years in advance throughout the world. For Sowell, these people can only be dupes of an unprincipled Chomsky lording his presumed intellectual superiority over the gullible masses. But what is this if not standard contempt for the allegedly stupid masses by an elite intellectual, in this case Sowell himself?


In any event, Chomsky would likely agree that much "consequential knowledge" (Sowell's term, referring to knowledge necessary to society being able to function) is widely dispersed, not narrowly concentrated in the hands of the intelligentsia, which is why ordinary people need to come together to promote democratic policies that can overcome the self-serving ideology of elites, not passively accept as some kind of evolutionary limit the commodified choices offered in the shopping mall and voting booth.


Following Michael Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin, Chomsky criticizes representative democracy under state capitalism for having "a monopoly of power centralized in the State, and secondly - and critically - because representative democracy is limited to the political sphere and in no serious way encroaches on the economic sphere." This leaves people "compelled to rent themselves on the market to those who are willing to hire them," which subordinates them to vast concentrations of private wealth in a system that exhibits "striking elements of coercion and oppression that make talk of democracy very limited, if even meaningful."[4]


So the conservative call to protect individual freedom from the encroachments of the state is sadly inadequate to our plight. We must also, as Chomsky emphasizes, "dissolve the authoritarian control over production and resources" which lead to such grotesque wealth disparity that it "drastically limits human freedom."[5]


This can be done, says Chomsky, only if "workers .. . become masters of their own immediate affairs, that is, in direction and control of the shop," but also by making "major substantive decisions concerning the structure of the economy, concerning social institutions, concerning planning regionally and beyond."[6] Naturally, such developments would require workers to obtain administrative knowledge currently monopolized by credentialed experts, the vast majority of whom, however, have no claim to scientific expertise. In short, such non-specialized knowledge might very well be transferred to ordinary workers, so that democratic self-management could evolve out of the current autocratic system.


Such economic democracy, of course, is exactly what Sowell means when he warns that intellectuals are inherently susceptible to adopting "an idea for re-arranging society that ends in disaster." The problem for him, however, is that an all-enveloping "free market" disaster is already here, having delivered three economic collapses in a generation and promising more and worse to come in the future.


Not to mention that Sowell's brand of "libertarian" economics represents an even more unrestrained form of private tyranny than the current neo-liberal nightmare, which, if implemented, might very well yield complete social collapse. Recall the Chicago Boys' experiment on Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship, using the economic recommendations of Sowell's mentor Milton Friedman: broad privatization, deregulation, and deep cuts to social spending, all allegedly demanded by the "natural" laws of economics. 


The result? Inflation hit 375% in the first year-and-a-half, local business collapsed, unemployment soared, and hunger ran rampant. President of the National Association of Manufacturers Orlando Saenz, who had invited the Chicago Boys into Chile in the first place, called the results of their experiment "one of the greatest failures of our economic history." He was replaced. And naturally the free market geniuses had a ready answer for criticism: their economic shock treatment hadn't been thorough enough. More and faster social service cuts and privatization were needed. 


In the midst of it all, Friedman arrived in Santiago to rock star treatment, calling for more cuts in government spending - 25% across the board - while simultaneously pushing a slate of pro-corporate policies designed to move towards "complete free trade." Health and education took devastating hits. In 1975, the Pinochet regime cut public spending by 27% all at once, and kept cutting. By 1980, social spending was half of what it had been before Pinochet seized power. Even The Economist, a free-market cheerleader, called the cuts an "orgy of self-mutilation." 


The Chilean economy plunged into a deep recession. Nearly three-quarters of an average Chilean family's income was needed just to buy bread. Free milk at school was increasingly unavailable, leading to fainting spells among the students. The school system was replaced by vouchers and charter schools, health care became pay-as-you-go, kindergartens, cemeteries, and Chile's social security system were privatized.  


Reality quickly made a hash of Friedman's sunny predictions of short-term pain followed by broad prosperity. Deep poverty and high unemployment stubbornly persisted, and the crisis lasted for years. In 1982, Chile's economy crashed amidst exploding debt, hyperinflation, and a staggering 30% unemployment rate. Pinochet was forced to nationalize many of the same companies socialist Salvador Allende had, and was saved from complete disgrace only by the state copper company that Allende had nationalized.[7]


And all of this was in addition to the mass torture, murder, and terror that were used to make the noxious "free market" draught go down. 


In short, the Chicago Boys' insane ideas led to catastrophe, and the intellectual responsible for dreaming them up never faced any consequences.


Meanwhile, the admiring Sowell refrained from dismissing his mentor's ideas as "absurdity."




[1] Thomas Sowell on Noam Chomsky, Cornel West and Other left-wing Intellectuals, You Tube, December 12, 2020,

[2] Chomsky quoted in Raphael Salkie, The Chomsky Update, (Unwin Hyman, 1990), p. 140

[3] Noam Chomsky, The Chomsky Reader, (Pantheon, 1987) p. 35

[4] Noam Chomsky, Radical Priorities, (Black Rose, 1981) pps. 245-6

[5] Noam Chomsky, Radical Priorities, (Black Rose, 1981) p. 31

[6] Raphael Salkie, The Chomsky Update, (Unwin Hyman, 1990) p. 190

[7] Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine – The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, (Metropolitan Books, 2007) pps. 77-87

Monday, December 14, 2020


 "In the year 2014 the international Monetary Fund issued an infallible prescription to save the world from economic crisis: lower the minimum wage.


"Experts at the IMF had discovered that reducing the minimum wage would create more jobs for young people, who would earn less but then make up the difference by working more.


"We all should be thankful for such generous minds, however, days keep going by, years too, and their ingenious recipe has yet to be brought to bear on a global scale."

--------Eduardo Galeano Hunter of Stories, p.103

Sunday, December 6, 2020

U.S., Proud Home of the Entrepreneur, Gives Zero Payroll Support to Small Business

 Public Citizen
Nov 30
Percent of wages currently subsidized by governments due to COVID:

Japan: 100% for small businesses; 80% for large firms

Netherlands: Up to 90%

Norway: Up to 90%

Germany: Up to 87%

France: Up to 84%

Italy: 80%

United Kingdom: Up to 80%

Canada: Up to 75%

United States: 0%

Friday, December 4, 2020

Michigan Restaurant Owner Calls For Popular Uprising Against Hypocritical Covid Policy

As U.S. death tolls from Covid 19 spiral towards three or four thousand a day, health officials urge us to stop breathing on each other while saying nothing about the vast majority being dependent employees or small entrepreneurs, not free agents, thus unable to cheerfully comply with draconian public health orders that torpedo our jobs and businesses while remaining silent on how the bills are supposed to get paid. 

While one searches in vain for intelligent commentary in the corporate media about this dilemma, ordinary Americans are well aware of the problem, as well as of the contempt with which they're being treated. Consider Dave Morris, owner of the D & R Daily Grind Restaurant and Cafe in Portage, Michigan, who interrupted a local CBS News broadcast a few days ago to explain why he was defying shutdown orders. In two minutes he told more economic truth than one hears in a year of listening to the experts on corporate media.

Morris:  Our government leaders have abandoned me.


Reporter: Are you the owner? 

Morris: They took four trillion dollars of stimulus money. They gave it to who? Special interest groups and campaign donors. I'm Dave Morris. I own the place.


Reporter: So what's going on?


Morris: What's going on? You know what's going on. 


Reporter: You tell me. 


Morris: Hey, we got a government that has taken the stimulus money. They gave it to special campaign donors. They gave it to special interests. They abandoned me and they had put me in a position where I have to fight back. O.K.? 


Reporter: Do you feel that this is the right thing to do?


Morris: Absolutely. I feel everybody needs to stand up. Hey, listen. There was enough money to give every family, every family in this country $20,000 to go home for two months. They chose to give it to special interests, and campaign donors, the Kennedy Space Center, and they abandoned us. You could've given me money [and] I'd gladly walk away for sixty days and let the virus settle down. [But] I'm not going to do it alone, O.K.?


Reporter: Are you going to continue to violate the state's orders and stay open?


Morris:  State order (tone of disgust). This isn't an order. This is a conspiracy. This is a tyranny. 


Reporter: What do you want to tell other restaurant owners?


Morris: (raising his arms) Wake up! Stand up! This is America. Be free! I got patriots coming out supporting me the last two days. You know what? It's a great thing. Wake up! This is America. Don't let them ramrod you. This is crazy when you turn around and you watch what's going on Westnedge Avenue. The big department stores, the train stations, the airports. Side by side eating meals for four hours. And you're going to blame me? Come on! (sarcastic) Come on! This is not right and you guys know it. Everybody knows it. Stand up, America. Give us the money to shut this thing down and calm this virus, but don't take it out on a select few.


Reporter: Is there anything else you want to add, sir?


Morris: That's it, brother (smile). I'm glad you listened to me. Thank you. Hey, I'm really a generous guy.


Reporter: The entire Western Michigan just listened to you. You're live on T.V. right now.


Morris: I'm glad to hear that, O.K.? I'm really a good guy. I've been married thirty-eight years. I got a wife, three kids; I got four great-grandchildren. Let me tell you something:  I got a good life and I've worked hard for it. I'm not giving up easily. I'm not going down alone. They want me to go down and be quiet. They never want to hear from me again. I'm not going to put up with it. It's time to rise up. Shut it all down or don't shut any of us down. (emphasis added) That's the only way to get control of a virus.



Of course, Morris is wrong in attributing policy to a conspiracy, which it is not, but that's merely a technical point. (The problem is not the government per se, but the massive private concentrations of wealth that dominate the government). He is completely right that current policy is disingenuous and hypocritical, not to mention nearly impossible for the economically dependent to adhere to, that is, a large majority of the American population. 


So let's stop pretending that the American people are "stupid" for not complying with such policy. And remember that this is the policy that first said masks were useless and now says they're essential; that first denounced large congregations of people as deadly, super-spreader events, then praised huge gatherings of Black Lives Matter protesters for risking infection in pursuit of a noble cause; that first urged everyone to "follow the science," then let airports and bars be open while schools remained closed.


This is what we get when we divorce "science" from any rational analysis of society and politics. The feigned neutrality that results is an elaborate rationalization of the favoritism-for-the-rich that dominates the disastrous status quo. It's also a prominent feature of the Osterholm Update, a weekly podcast by public health expert Dr. Michael Osterholm (recently appointed to Joe Biden's Covid 19 Advisory Board), about the latest developments in our battle with coronavirus.

Dr. Osterholm loves to pretend that's he's above the political fray, just calling "balls and strikes," not making value judgments. But that stance itself rests on a value judgment about value judgments, i.e., that public health officials ought not to make them. But if the medical experts are unwilling to call out the government for failing to give proper economic support to American workers during the prolonged quarantine policy they insist we all embrace, the policy of physical distancing means very little, in spite of its medical utility. After all, what good does it do to tell people to stay home, when they have no money to pay rent with? Everyone knows they're going to go out and work, since they have no other way to stay housed. And even when they're home, the wage-dependent are often sharing cramped space and stagnant air with other tenants, because with rents high and wages low it takes many tenants to keep the rent paid. Therefore, it should be obvious that non-union workers - virtually the entire private sector in the United States - are the least able to live in the uncrowded, well-ventilated spaces our public health authorities say are medically necessary, because maximizing private gain requires the opposite. Space, like everything else in this profit-obsessed culture, has to be paid for, and poor people can't afford nearly enough of it. 


In 1949, the National Housing Act established the goal of a decent home in a suitable living environment for all. Most people would surely include sunlight and uncrowded space in that definition, both known to be essential to good health, and especially useful in resisting the spread of coronavirus. But seventy-one years after passing that act, we are far from achieving that sensible housing goal.  While the stock market booms and home sales soar, millions of renters are paying more than half their income for poor quality housing in polluted neighborhoods that should have been declared a national health crisis long before coronavirus appeared on the scene. 


So we can't just call "balls and strikes," we have to get our hands dirty and comment on the perverse values of the politicized culture within which we all live and work. The bottom line here literally is profit, which is more important than human life. That's why there's no coherent coronavirus policy, no sensible economic relief package, and no end of news stories telling us Americans continue dying in grotesque numbers. 




"Angry Man Interrupts Live Newscast With A Surprisingly Rational Point," The Rational National, December 4, 2020 (You Tube) 


Osterholm Update available at: edu 


Housing info from The Joint Center For Housing Studies, "The State of the Nation's Housing 2020," available at 



Saturday, November 28, 2020

Coronavirus: The Alarming Truth About Where It Comes From

"Everyone knows that coronavirus was caused by a new variant of superthermite developed by the Chinese intelligence services in collaboration with George Soros and dispersed via the cellphone network through a conspiracy of the Illuminati and the Sanhedrin.

"It's obvious.

"If you see strange flashes from your telephone, dunk it immediately in a solution of colloidal silver and chicken soup, stand on your head, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance backward ten times.

"You'll be all right."


Comment by Farans Kalosar on "Louis Proyect - The Unrepentant Marxist," April 3, 2020

1:57 pm

Friday, November 13, 2020

Blue Mirage


Disaffected Groups: "We need to unite!"

Sympathizer: “What shall we unite around?”

Democratic Party organizer: “Our differences!”


“I kind of wanted everyone to lose.”


-------Krystal Ball “Rising,” on the 2020 elections


            The electoral verdict is in and the American people have rejected media drama in favor of thinking for themselves. They dislike Donald Trump’s governance, but are far from pronouncing him an Adolf Hitler clone, having awarded him some nine million more votes than last time around, to the horror of “woke” partisans, who are far more disliked than he is.


            Supposedly a vicious misogynist, Trump’s share of the white woman vote, already a majority, went up. Widely referred to as the most racist president ever, his vote among blacks and Latinos also increased. Allegedly popular only with “white nationalist” voters eager to usher in fascism, his share of white, male, non-college educated voters went down. Either he or they are not as fascist as we’ve been led to believe.


            To repeat: after four years of saturation media coverage denouncing Trump as racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, neo-Nazi scum, more Hispanics, Blacks, and white women voted for him than did four years ago, while his support among the “fascist” demographic declined.[1]


            Meanwhile, the hoped for blue wave that would soundly repudiate President Satan once and for all was nowhere to be seen. The Democrats lost House seats, failed to capture the Senate, and flipped not a single state legislature.[2] 


            Predictably, the corporate Democrats blame the “radical” New Deal base of their party for this dismal performance, ignoring mounting evidence that the programmatic preferences of that base are, in fact, quite popular with the American people, sometimes even with Trump supporters. For example, every swing state House Democrat that supported Medicare For All won while stand-for-nothing “moderates” lost. More striking, “conservative” Florida passed a $15 an hour minimum wage by 60%, and also voted for Trump. Similarly, recreational marijuana won in Montana and South Dakota, and medical marijuana in Mississippi, all states that went for Trump by double digits. Other “radical” proposals, like student debt forgiveness, paid family leave, a Green New Deal (with federal jobs guarantee), and the breaking up of “too big to fail” banks, continue to win strong public support. Perhaps most surprising is a Business News report from this past January headlined “Majority of Americans favor wealth tax on very rich,” a position that “free trade” enthusiasts regard as the very gateway to Bolshevik slavery.[3]


            In short, the American people are not ideological fanatics of either the left or the right, but practical-minded folks seeking a better life by embracing social and democratic norms widely accepted throughout the developed world. But how can corporate America enhance its power and profit out of a “narrative” like that? It can’t, so we hear instead that a deeply-divided country is headed for civil war over cultural issues. If that turns out to be the case, both sides will have succumbed to vulgar sectarian propaganda.


            Chief among the ideological arsonists pushing us in that direction, of course, are Democratic Party elites, currently celebrating Joe Biden’s victory at the polls. But exactly what does this “triumph” prove? No more than that Democrats can win by a narrow margin against a reality T.V. buffoon who won the presidency with a 31 percent approval rating in 2016, and then convinced enough people that they were “better off” during a raging pandemic and economic collapse than they were under Biden-Obama to nearly do it again. Just 150,000 votes in four states would have delivered re-election to Trump.[4] Is this really something to celebrate?


            Recall that this is Biden's fourth time running for the presidency, and each previous attempt showed his public support dropping commensurate with the amount of media exposure he got. In other words, the more people got to know him, the less they wanted anything to do with him. The only reason it turned out differently this time was coronavirus and Trump, a deadly combination that made the doddering imperialist Biden appear marginally less disastrous than reactionary nationalist Trump.


            But nobody really wants Biden, since he had no detectable campaign in the primaries, and barely any in the general election. In lieu of issues, he piously opposed an imaginary American Nazism while making vague references to restoring the nation’s “soul.” But he militantly opposed material aid to Americans trying to survive medical and economic catastrophe, especially single-payer medical care and universal basic income, both achieved elsewhere but not in the “greatest, powerful, decent nation in the world,”[5] as Biden refers to the United States. If it hadn’t been for the black vote in South Carolina and Barack Obama’s successful effort to organize a united front of neo-liberal suck-ups behind him, Biden would have remained mired in the obscurity that characterized his other three campaigns for the presidency.


            So just exactly who is this masked man? To put it simply, he’s a career Reagan Democrat with pugnacious contempt for virtually every key Democratic constituency. Blacks are either “superpredators” (HRC coined the term, but Biden concurs) or spongers on the look-out for “free stuff.” Hispanics are unworthy of attention, unless they express impatience with mass deportation (far higher under Obama-Biden than under Trump) in which case they are contemptuously urged to “vote for Trump.” Young people, their lives torpedoed by Biden and the “free traders” years ago, are crybabies who shirk the responsibility to miraculously rise from the economic rubble. College males are instinctive rapists deservingly subjected to Star Chamber proceedings that destroy their lives and careers before they start. Women exist to be sniffed and fondled, except for gender ideologues, whose “diversity” dogmas are to be exploited for political gain. Seniors struggling on fixed incomes with all the afflictions of advanced age are balanced-budget obstructionists whom Biden must keep in line by slashing their Social Security and Medicare.


            While thus releasing his bowels on the groups that make up the Democratic base, Biden avidly courts the loyalty of a handful of Republicans in the suburbs that have no ideological affinity with any of them. Look no further for reasons why he nearly lost the election: the grim march of the coronavirus death toll was the only thing he had going for him.


            In the face of all this, we are told, quite absurdly, that Joe Biden “underperformed,” which is certainly one way to describe a campaign where the candidate hibernates in his basement to hide an increasingly obvious inability to utter a comprehensible sentence. But we could say with equal validity that Biden and his addled brain over-performed, thanks to an undisclosed pharmaceutical regimen and the weakness of his political opponent, a loud-mouthed imbecile with a lousy record. Obviously, the bar couldn’t have been lower for Biden. All he had to do to achieve the much-desired repudiation of Trump was offer something useful to the American people: Medicare For All, debt relief, a housing guarantee - anything. But he couldn’t, not because he’s under-performing, but because he’s overly-prostituted – to capital and the national security state.


            And who knows how long he can sustain the farce that he has what it takes to be an effective president? Given his frequent lapses into gibberish and embarrassing inability to identify his own whereabouts or what day of the week it might be, it’s very likely he’ll fail to complete his term in office.


            Which brings us to Prom Queen Kamala Harris, a self-declared “top tier” candidate who soared to 2% in the polls before dropping out of the race long in advance of the primaries. Popular with the media, if not with anyone else, she brought melanin and female genitalia to the Biden ticket, neither known to be an effective cure for infectious disease or economic collapse, but nevertheless Biden prerequisites for the vice-presidency.


            Such priorities are reflective of an already failed identity politics that seeks to sever class loyalties with discrete market demographics around gender, race, and ethnicity. The technique is to convert blacks, women, Latinos and other constituency clienteles into professional grievance-mongers entitled to symbolic redress, so as to avoid having to offer anything of political substance to the oppressed majority of the population – subordinated order-takers forced to labor for those who own.


            Diverted by this zero-sum competition of marginalized minorities seeking top victim status, Democrats have come to be known (and increasingly despised) for their wafer-thin multiculturalism and deep identity chauvinism, both oblivious to contradiction.


            Inordinate attention is given to fighting “hate,” which is denounced and penalized with ever greater zeal, making it increasingly difficult to separate the haters from those who would see them properly punished. [New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg, reporting on the ground from Charlottesville: “The hard left seemed as hate-filled as alt-right. I saw club-wielding ‘Antifa’ beating white nationalists being led out of the park.”][6]  In short, the more “hate” is condemned, the more it flourishes, and the more that legal penalties are applied to it, the less that real tolerance for others can actually exist. Straight into the trash go mutual concern, shared purpose, compassion, and understanding – the essence of a politics of justice – each deliberately amputated from the body politic by ideological knife blades carving out turf for official minorities.


            New gender identities are continually advanced, whose “cause” pushes into the shadows the increasingly dire problems of an economic majority producing more and more for less and less with no hope of relief. Economic exploitation is forgotten as the aggrieved guardians of identity boundaries mobilize to police attitudes rather than economic priorities. By now it is a familiar sight to see billionaires awash in gluttonous excess compete to become the world’s first trillionaire while far below them on the wealth pyramid ant-size “victims” argue about pronoun use, safe spaces, and toilet access.


            Somehow such discussions have gotten the label “Marxist,” though there is nothing at all Marxist about them. Marxism is a commentary about hierarchically ordered classes in conflict over the production of goods and services necessary to general survival, not a perpetual status squabble about whose intrinsic qualities are most important. The central idea in Marxism was never that workers should “hate” owners (or even that owners necessarily hate them), but that they should organize and overcome the hierarchical structure of classes, so that wealth can be produced and distributed rationally and democratically. The point was not to denounce individual capitalists for embodying evil, but to note that their struggle to avoid bankruptcy required that they embrace cutthroat competition to push down wages to starvation levels. Whatever its flaws, Marxism was at least focused on the contradiction between hierarchical economics and democratic politics, which continues to cause serious and perhaps terminal problems to human society down to the present day.


            But for Democratic Party elites and other adherents of identarian politics this is all quite irrelevant. For them, political conflict involves a moral crusade, not a test of reasoning power and social organization. Thus, the reactionary right must not be opposed by argument and evidence - a pointless strategy against the evil partisans of hate - but by violence and censorship. The enemy must not merely be defeated, but annihilated.


            Obviously, mutual respect based on common appreciation of the unique miracle each of us actually is can have no place in our public discourse if these assumptions are correct. Division of the spoils mediated by selfish competition between “winners” and “losers” is all that there is. Little wonder that many Americans have become so distrustful that they venture out in public only when fully armed. Others consider it proof of great moral courage to break up a “hate” speaking event or physically attack “the enemy” in the streets. It’s true that the United States is flirting with fascism, but it’s anybody’s guess as to which groups are the most “fascistic.” The totalitarian impulse runs along the entire political spectrum.


            For what it’s worth, fascism historically involved a strong charismatic leader of a disciplined, armed party, imposing unity and conformity on the basis of a clear program commanding mass support. It is difficult to see how this applies to Donald Trump, who has no discipline, is too lazy to adhere to doctrine (or even understand it), and who sows chaos and division rather than unity and order. At least as authoritarian as he is are his dogged opponents, who tried to interfere with the electoral college to change the outcome of the 2016 elections, and later staged media show trials (Russiagate) and imposed censorship in order to delegitimize his victory, which to this day they do not accept. Ever since then free discussion has been increasingly hamstrung by tech giant censorship and slimy red-baiting charges against all who criticize, plus the traditional informal imposition of doctrinal unity on all key issues – the Middle East, Russia, “dictators,” free trade, NATO, immigration, climate change, and “diversity.”


            All of which points up the fact that our real dictator is the entertainment and information industry, which holds nearly unlimited power without ever having to endure the indignity of a democratic election.[7]










[1] Matt  Taibbi, “Which is the Real Working-Class Party Now?” November 6, 2020, On Latino support for Trump see Suzanne Gamboa and Carmen Sesin, “Trump’s gains among Latino voters shouldn’t be a surprise. Here’s why.” NBC News Online, November 5, 2020


[2] Ralph Nader, Why Was It So Effing Close? Ralph Nader Radio Hour, November 7, 2020.

[3] Paul Blest, Discourse Blog, quoted by David Doel on the Rational National, November 8, 2020


[4] Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti, “Rising,” November 9, 2020. According to Ralph Nader, a shift of a mere 43,000 votes in Arizona, George, and Wisconsin would have produced an electoral college tie, throwing the outcome into Congress, where Trump would have son. Nader interviewed by Brianna Joy, Bad Faith Podcast, February 2, 2021

[5] Cas Mudde, “Trump is pushing nationalist myths. But Democrats indulge lavish patriotism, too,” The Guardian, September 20, 2020

[6] Stolberg later amended her tweet, replacing “hate-filled” with “violent,” to accommodate the Trump = Nazi party line. The original and modified tweets can be seen in Blake Montgomery, “Here’s What Really Happened In Charlottesville,” Buzz Feed News, August 14, 2017.

[7] This analysis of identity politics closely parallels that found in Diana Johnstone, Circle In The Darkness – Memoir of a World Watcher, Clarity Press, 2020, pps. 421-423