Shared posts

17 Aug 03:27

The Nature of Security Clearance & A Case to Impeach the President

Tom Roche

https://kpfa.org/episode/letters-and-politics-august-16-2018/
Melvin Goodman @ JHU on security clearances and Trump revoking Brennan's
Ben Clements on The Case for the Impeachment of Donald Trump

15 Aug 17:14

Thomas Frank LIVE: What's the Matter with Liberals?

Tom Roche

very excellent, but skip 1st 9:42

bonus: https://www.patreon.com/posts/20353124 Gable Pacheco and I talk to Thomas Frank at a live taping of the Katie Halper Show. Frank, the author of "What's the Matter with Kansas" and "Listen Liberal," whose writing appears in The Guardian and Harpers has just come out with "Rendezvous with Oblivion," a collection of essays. Thomas talks to us about how Hillary Clinton could have won, what turned him from Republican to Democrat, what turns him off about the Democrats, and what turned him from academic to journalist.
15 Aug 15:45

Jacobin Radio: Katie Halper; Murray Mednick and Maury Sterling

by Jacobin magazine
Tom Roche

the Katie Halper interview is especially excellent

Suzi and Alan Minsky talk to Katie Halper of WBAI's The Katie Halper Show about the role of independent media and politics in the Trumpian landscape we inhabit. Then Suzi speaks to prolific, award-winning playwright Murray Mednick, whose enigmatic  "Mayakovsky and Stalin" runs until August 19 at the Lounge Theatre in Hollywood. The play examines two lives and two suicides, related but distant, responding to the liberating freedom of revolution in the Soviet Union, but then increasingly strangled and suffocated by the top down brutal dictatorship of Stalin, played by actor Maury Sterling (best known as Max on Homeland), who joins the conversation. The play traces the parallel stories of the giant of Russian poetry, Vladimir Mayakovsky, and his relationship to his love and muse, Lilya Brik (darling of Russia’s avant garde) and her husband, the literary critic Osip Brik. Their relationship exemplifies the freedom from conventional mores in the early years of the revolution. The second life and suicide is that of Nadezhda Alliluyeva, Stalin's young wife who committed suicide during a state dinner in 1932, renouncing her husband and his horrific policies, reflecting her despair and suffocation being married to the supreme dictator while millions perished.

13 Aug 14:00

Duane W. Roller, “Cleopatra’s Daughter: And Other Royal Women of the Augustan Era” (Oxford UP, 2018)

by Mark Klobas
Tom Roche

very excellent

For the most part women in the classical world have suffered from what Duane W. Roller terms “near-invisibility,” obscuring the consequential roles that at times they played in government and politics. In his book Cleopatra’s Daughter: And Other Royal Women of the Augustan Era (Oxford University Press, 2018), Roller recounts...
09 Aug 19:23

Remarkable Manuscripts

Tom Roche

rerun

Surprisingly, medieval books fare much better than other artefacts in the survival stakes.
09 Aug 13:35

Lost Alternatives of Gorbachev: 1 of: 3: Thirty years later. Stephen F. Cohen @NYU @Princeton (August 2017)

by The John Batchelor Show
Tom Roche

rerun

AUTHOR.

(Photo:C44173-23, President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev checking their watches while waiting for their wives in the White House Diplomatic Reception room. 12/9/87.

Date 9 December 1987

Source http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/photographs/gorby.html

Author Fed Govt )

http://JohnBatchelorShow.com/contact

http://JohnBatchelorShow.com/schedules

Twitter: @BatchelorShow

Lost Alternatives of Gorbachev: 1 of: 3: Thirty years later. Stephen F. Cohen @NYU @Princeton (August 2017)

"...His father was a combine harvester operator and World War II veteran, named Sergey Andreyevich Gorbachev. His mother, Maria Panteleyevna Gorbacheva (née Gopkalo), was a kolkhoz worker.[8] He was brought up mainly by his Ukrainian maternal grandparents. In his teens, he operated combine harvesters on collective farms. He graduated from Moscow State University in 1955 with a degree in law.

In 1967 he qualified as an agricultural economist via a correspondence master's degree at the Stavropol Institute of Agriculture. While at the university, he joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) and soon became very active within the party.

Gorbachev met his future wife, Raisa Titarenko, daughter of a Ukrainian railway engineer, at Moscow State University. They married in September 1953 and moved to Stavropol upon graduation. She gave birth to their only child, daughter Irina Mikhailovna Virganskaya (Ири́на Миха́йловна Вирга́нская), in 1957. Raisa Gorbacheva died of leukemia in 1999.[9] Gorbachev has two granddaughters (Ksenia and Anastasia) and one great granddaughter (Aleksandra)...."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Gorbachev

08 Aug 13:09

"Many and ludicrous are the stories of the Greeks!" "Battling the Gods: 1 of 3: Atheism in the Ancient World" by Tim Whitmarsh (Author)

by The John Batchelor Show
Tom Roche

rerun

AUTHOR.

(Photo:Echo and Narcissus (1903), a Pre-Raphaelite interpretation by John William Waterhouse )

http://JohnBatchelorShow.com/contact

http://JohnBatchelorShow.com/schedules

Twitter: @BatchelorShow

"Many and ludicrous are the stories of the Greeks!" "Battling the Gods: 1 of 3: Atheism in the Ancient World" by Tim Whitmarsh (Author)

https://www.amazon.com/Battling-Gods-Atheism-Ancient-World/dp/0307948773 How new is atheism? Although adherents and opponents alike today present it as an invention of the European Enlightenment, when the forces of science and secularism broadly challenged those of faith, disbelief in the gods, in fact, originated in a far more remote past. In Battling the Gods, Tim Whitmarsh journeys into the ancient Mediterranean, a world almost unimaginably different from our own, to recover the stories and voices of those who first refused the divinities. Whitmarsh provides a bracing antidote to our assumptions about the roots of freethinking. By shining a light on atheism’s first thousand years, Battling the Gods offers a timely reminder that nonbelief has a wealth of tradition of its own, and, indeed, its own heroes.

07 Aug 13:25

The Yazidis: "Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms: 1 of 4: Journeys Into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East" by Gerard Russell.

by The John Batchelor Show
Tom Roche

rerun

AUTHOR.

(Photo:

English: A French post card showing Yezidi leaders meeting with a cChaldean clergyman in Mesopotamia.

Date 19th century

Source http://mideastimage.com/result.aspx

Author Unknown)

http://JohnBatchelorShow.com/contact

http://JohnBatchelorShow.com/schedules

Twitter: @BatchelorShow

The Yazidis: "Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms: 1 of 4: Journeys Into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East" by Gerard Russell.

https://www.amazon.com/Heirs-Forgotten-Kingdoms-Disappearing-Religions/dp/0465049915/ref=sr1fkmr2_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1533526479&sr=1-1-fkmr2&keywords=heirs+to+the+fortune+kingdoms+gerard+russell

Despite its reputation for religious intolerance, the Middle East has long sheltered many distinctive and strange faiths: one regards the Greek prophets as incarnations of God, another reveres Lucifer in the form of a peacock, and yet another believes that their followers are reincarnated beings who have existed in various forms for thousands of years. These religions represent the last vestiges of the magnificent civilizations in ancient history: Persia, Babylon, Egypt in the time of the Pharaohs. Their followers have learned how to survive foreign attacks and the perils of assimilation. But today, with the Middle East in turmoil, they face greater challenges than ever before. 

In Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms, former diplomat Gerard Russell ventures to the distant, nearly impassable regions where these mysterious religions still cling to survival. He lives alongside the Mandaeans and Ezidis of Iraq, the Zoroastrians of Iran, the Copts of Egypt, and others. He learns their histories, participates in their rituals, and comes to understand the threats to their communities. Historically a tolerant faith, Islam has, since the early 20th century, witnessed the rise of militant, extremist sects. This development, along with the rippling effects of Western invasion, now pose existential threats to these minority faiths. And as more and more of their youth flee to the West in search of greater freedoms and job prospects, these religions face the dire possibility of extinction. 

Drawing on his extensive travels and archival research, Russell provides an essential record of the past, present, and perilous future of these remarkable religions.

05 Aug 01:08

Capitalism Killed Our Climate Momentum, Not “Human Nature”

by Naomi Klein
Tom Roche

comment @ https://theintercept.com/2018/08/03/climate-change-new-york-times-magazine/?commentId=bf4d0131-e140-42a4-bcb7-5eac56c2eb19

[start Klein] humans are capable of organizing ourselves into all kinds of different social orders, including societies with much longer time horizons and far more respect for natural life-support systems. Indeed, humans have lived that way for the vast majority of our history and many Indigenous cultures keep earth-centered cosmologies alive to this day.[end Klein]

To be fair--and accurate--we should note that technological level probably influences ecodestruction at least as much as ideology. American archaeology demonstrates that, shortly after their arrival, and with only Neolithic technology, the ancestors of the indigenous Americans drove much of the even-more-indigenous megafauna to extinction. Were their ancestors "just like us," or did their culture not do the work implied by Klein? More recently, Diné (and, to a lesser extent, Hopi) elites have enabled and supported coal mining and burning on the Black Mesa. (The latter generating stations are shutting down, but due to excess economic cost, not "earth-centered cosmologies.")

The better explanatory hypothesis seems to be, "power tends to corrupt"; the confirmation is, given access to advanced technology, indigenous peoples tend to behave like other humans. (For another example, consider the Comanche Empire.) Contrapositively, it's much harder to destroy your environment when you lack large populations, draft animals, and (non-jewelry) metallurgy.

[start Klein] socialism isn’t necessarily ecological, but that a new form of democratic eco-socialism, with the humility to learn from Indigenous teachings about the duties to future generations and the interconnection of all of life, appears to be humanity’s best shot at collective survival.[end Klein]

Mysticism can be interesting, and probably rhetorical useful for some people, but earth-system science beats "Indigenous teachings" for understanding and protecting those connections. No mythology required, just (for want of a better term) "earth-system socialism."


The skyline of Manhattan is seen at sunset in New York, May 23, 2018. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

The skyline of Manhattan at sunset in New York, May 23, 2018.

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images


This Sunday, the entire New York Times Magazine will be composed of just one article on a single subject: the failure to confront the global climate crisis in the 1980s, a time when the science was settled and the politics seemed to align. Written by Nathaniel Rich, this work of history is filled with insider revelations about roads not taken that, on several occasions, made me swear out loud. And lest there be any doubt that the implications of these decisions will be etched in geologic time, Rich’s words are punctuated with full-page aerial photographs by George Steinmetz that wrenchingly document the rapid unraveling of planetary systems, from the rushing water where Greenland ice used to be to massive algae blooms in China’s third largest lake.

The novella-length piece represents the kind of media commitment that the climate crisis has long deserved but almost never received. We have all heard the various excuses for why the small matter of despoiling our only home just doesn’t cut it as an urgent news story: “Climate change is too far off in the future”; “It’s inappropriate to talk about politics when people are losing their lives to hurricanes and fires”; “Journalists follow the news, they don’t make it — and politicians aren’t talking about climate change”; and of course: “Every time we try, it’s a ratings killer.”

None of the excuses can mask the dereliction of duty. It has always been possible for major media outlets to decide, all on their own, that planetary destabilization is a huge news story, very likely the most consequential of our time. They always had the capacity to harness the skills of their reporters and photographers to connect abstract science to lived extreme weather events. And if they did so consistently, it would lessen the need for journalists to get ahead of politics because the more informed the public is about both the threat and the tangible solutions, the more they push their elected representatives to take bold action.


NYTMag-cover-1533248495

The Aug. 5, 2018, issue of the New York Times Magazine.

Image: Courtesy of the New York Times

Which is why it was so exciting to see the Times throw the full force of its editorial machine behind Rich’s opus — teasing it with a promotional video, kicking it off with a live event at the Times Center, and accompanying educational materials.

That’s also why it is so enraging that the piece is spectacularly wrong in its central thesis.

According to Rich, between the years of 1979 and 1989, the basic science of climate change was understood and accepted, the partisan divide over the issue had yet to cleave, the fossil fuel companies hadn’t started their misinformation campaign in earnest, and there was a great deal of global political momentum toward a bold and binding international emissions-reduction agreement. Writing of the key period at the end of the 1980s, Rich says, “The conditions for success could not have been more favorable.”

And yet we blew it — “we” being humans, who apparently are just too shortsighted to safeguard our future. Just in case we missed the point of who and what is to blame for the fact that we are now “losing earth,” Rich’s answer is presented in a full-page callout: “All the facts were known, and nothing stood in our way. Nothing, that is, except ourselves.”

Yep, you and me. Not, according to Rich, the fossil fuel companies who sat in on every major policy meeting described in the piece. (Imagine tobacco executives being repeatedly invited by the U.S. government to come up with policies to ban smoking. When those meetings failed to yield anything substantive, would we conclude that the reason is that humans just want to die? Might we perhaps determine instead that the political system is corrupt and busted?)

This misreading has been pointed out by many climate scientists and historians since the online version of the piece dropped on Wednesday. Others have remarked on the maddening invocations of “human nature” and the use of the royal “we” to describe a screamingly homogenous group of U.S. power players. Throughout Rich’s accounting, we hear nothing from those political leaders in the Global South who were demanding binding action in this key period and after, somehow able to care about future generations despite being human. The voices of women, meanwhile, are almost as rare in Rich’s text as sightings of the endangered ivory-billed woodpecker — and when we ladies do appear, it is mainly as long-suffering wives of tragically heroic men.

All of these flaws have been well covered, so I won’t rehash them here. My focus is the central premise of the piece: that the end of the 1980s presented conditions that “could not have been more favorable” to bold climate action. On the contrary, one could scarcely imagine a more inopportune moment in human evolution for our species to come face to face with the hard truth that the conveniences of modern consumer capitalism were steadily eroding the habitability of the planet. Why? Because the late ’80s was the absolute zenith of the neoliberal crusade, a moment of peak ideological ascendency for the economic and social project that deliberately set out to vilify collective action in the name of liberating “free markets” in every aspect of life. Yet Rich makes no mention of this parallel upheaval in economic and political thought.

FILE - In this May 9, 1989 file photo, Dr. James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, testifies before a Senate Transportation subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., a year after his history-making testimony telling the world that global warming was here and would get worse. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook, File)

In this May 9, 1989 file photo, James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, testifies before a Senate transportation subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., a year after his history-making testimony telling the world that global warming was here and would get worse.

Photo: Dennis Cook/AP

When I delved into this same climate change history some years ago, I concluded, as Rich does, that the key juncture when world momentum was building toward a tough, science-based global agreement was 1988. That was when James Hansen, then director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, testified before Congress that he had “99 percent confidence” in “a real warming trend” linked to human activity. Later that same month, hundreds of scientists and policymakers held the historic World Conference on the Changing Atmosphere in Toronto, where the first emission reduction targets were discussed. By the end of that same year, in November 1988, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the premier scientific body advising governments on the climate threat, held its first session.

But climate change wasn’t just a concern for politicians and wonks — it was watercooler stuff, so much so that when the editors of Time magazine announced their 1988 “Man of the Year,” they went for “Planet of the Year: Endangered Earth.” The cover featured an image of the globe held together with twine, the sun setting ominously in the background. “No single individual, no event, no movement captured imaginations or dominated headlines more,” journalist Thomas Sancton explained, “than the clump of rock and soil and water and air that is our common home.”

(Interestingly, unlike Rich, Sancton didn’t blame “human nature” for the planetary mugging. He went deeper, tracing it to the misuse of the Judeo-Christian concept of “dominion” over nature and the fact that it supplanted the pre-Christian idea that “the earth was seen as a mother, a fertile giver of life. Nature — the soil, forest, sea — was endowed with divinity, and mortals were subordinate to it.”)

When I surveyed the climate news from this period, it really did seem like a profound shift was within grasp — and then, tragically, it all slipped away, with the U.S. walking out of international negotiations and the rest of the world settling for nonbinding agreements that relied on dodgy “market mechanisms” like carbon trading and offsets. So it really is worth asking, as Rich does: What the hell happened? What interrupted the urgency and determination that was emanating from all these elite establishments simultaneously by the end of the ’80s?

Rich concludes, while offering no social or scientific evidence, that something called “human nature” kicked in and messed everything up. “Human beings,” he writes, “whether in global organizations, democracies, industries, political parties or as individuals, are incapable of sacrificing present convenience to forestall a penalty imposed on future generations.” It seems we are wired to “obsess over the present, worry about the medium term and cast the long term out of our minds, as we might spit out a poison.”

When I looked at the same period, I came to a very different conclusion: that what at first seemed like our best shot at lifesaving climate action had in retrospect suffered from an epic case of historical bad timing. Because what becomes clear when you look back at this juncture is that just as governments were getting together to get serious about reining in the fossil fuel sector, the global neoliberal revolution went supernova, and that project of economic and social reengineering clashed with the imperatives of both climate science and corporate regulation at every turn.

The failure to make even a passing reference to this other global trend that was unfolding in the late ’80s represents an unfathomably large blind spot in Rich’s piece. After all, the primary benefit of returning to a period in the not-too-distant past as a journalist is that you are able to see trends and patterns that were not yet visible to people living through those tumultuous events in real time. The climate community in 1988, for instance, had no way of knowing that they were on the cusp of the convulsive neoliberal revolution that would remake every major economy on the planet.

But we know. And one thing that becomes very clear when you look back on the late ’80s is that, far from offering “conditions for success [that] could not have been more favorable,” 1988-89 was the worst possible moment for humanity to decide that it was going to get serious about putting planetary health ahead of profits.

President Ronald Reagan signs legislation implementing the U.S.-Canada free trade agreement during a ceremony at the White House, Sept. 28, 1988.  (AP Photo/Scott Stewart)

President Ronald Reagan signs legislation implementing the U.S.-Canada free trade agreement during a ceremony at the White House, Sept. 28, 1988.

Photo: Scott Stewart/AP

Recall what else was going on. In 1988, Canada and the U.S. signed their free trade agreement, a prototype for NAFTA and countless deals that would follow. The Berlin wall was about to fall, an event that would be successfully seized upon by right-wing ideologues in the U.S. as proof of “the end of history” and taken as license to export the Reagan-Thatcher recipe of privatization, deregulation, and austerity to every corner of the globe.

It was this convergence of historical trends — the emergence of a global architecture that was supposed to tackle climate change and the emergence of a much more powerful global architecture to liberate capital from all constraints — that derailed the momentum Rich rightly identifies. Because, as he notes repeatedly, meeting the challenge of climate change would have required imposing stiff regulations on polluters while investing in the public sphere to transform how we power our lives, live in cities, and move ourselves around.

All of this was possible in the ’80s and ’90s (it still is today) — but it would have demanded a head-on battle with the project of neoliberalism, which at that very time was waging war on the very idea of the public sphere (“There is no such thing as society,” Thatcher told us). Meanwhile, the free trade deals being signed in this period were busily making many sensible climate initiatives — like subsidizing and offering preferential treatment to local green industry and refusing many polluting projects like fracking and oil pipelines — illegal under international trade law.

I wrote a 500-page book about this collision between capitalism and the planet, and I won’t rehash the details here. This extract, however, goes into the subject in some depth, and I’ll quote a short passage here:

We have not done the things that are necessary to lower emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism, the reigning ideology for the entire period we have been struggling to find a way out of this crisis. We are stuck because the actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe — and would benefit the vast majority — are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our major media outlets. That problem might not have been insurmountable had it presented itself at another point in our history. But it is our great collective misfortune that the scientific community made its decisive diagnosis of the climate threat at the precise moment when those elites were enjoying more unfettered political, cultural, and intellectual power than at any point since the 1920s. Indeed, governments and scientists began talking seriously about radical cuts to greenhouse gas emissions in 1988 — the exact year that marked the dawning of what came to be called “globalisation.”

Why does it matter that Rich makes no mention of this clash and instead, claims our fate has been sealed by “human nature”? It matters because if the force that interrupted the momentum toward action is “ourselves,” then the fatalistic headline on the cover of New York Times Magazine – “Losing Earth” — really is merited. If an inability to sacrifice in the short term for a shot at health and safety in the future is baked into our collective DNA, then we have no hope of turning things around in time to avert truly catastrophic warming.

If, on the other hand, we humans really were on the brink of saving ourselves in the ’80s, but were swamped by a tide of elite, free-market fanaticism — one that was opposed by millions of people around the world — then there is something quite concrete we can do about it. We can confront that economic order and try to replace it with something that is rooted in both human and planetary security, one that does not place the quest for growth and profit at all costs at its center.

And the good news — and, yes, there is some — is that today, unlike in 1989, a young and growing movement of green democratic socialists is advancing in the United States with precisely that vision. And that represents more than just an electoral alternative — it’s our one and only planetary lifeline.

Yet we have to be clear that the lifeline we need is not something that has been tried before, at least not at anything like the scale required. When the Times tweeted out its teaser for Rich’s article about “humankind’s inability to address the climate change catastrophe,” the excellent eco-justice wing of the Democratic Socialists of America quickly offered this correction: “*CAPITALISM* If they were serious about investigating what’s gone so wrong, this would be about ‘capitalism’s inability to address the climate change catastrophe.’ Beyond capitalism, *humankind* is fully capable of organizing societies to thrive within ecological limits.”

Their point is a good one, if incomplete. There is nothing essential about humans living under capitalism; we humans are capable of organizing ourselves into all kinds of different social orders, including societies with much longer time horizons and far more respect for natural life-support systems. Indeed, humans have lived that way for the vast majority of our history and many Indigenous cultures keep earth-centered cosmologies alive to this day. Capitalism is a tiny blip in the collective story of our species.

But simply blaming capitalism isn’t enough. It is absolutely true that the drive for endless growth and profits stands squarely opposed to the imperative for a rapid transition off fossil fuels. It is absolutely true that the global unleashing of the unbound form of capitalism known as neoliberalism in the ’80s and ’90s has been the single greatest contributor to a disastrous global emission spike in recent decades, as well as the single greatest obstacle to science-based climate action ever since governments began meeting to talk (and talk and talk) about lowering emissions. And it remains the biggest obstacle today, even in countries that market themselves as climate leaders, like Canada and France.

But we have to be honest that autocratic industrial socialism has also been a disaster for the environment, as evidenced most dramatically by the fact that carbon emissions briefly plummeted when the economies of the former Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s. And as I wrote in “This Changes Everything,” Venezuela’s petro-populism has continued this toxic tradition into the present day, with disastrous results.

Let’s acknowledge this fact, while also pointing out that countries with a strong democratic socialist tradition — like Denmark, Sweden, and Uruguay — have some of the most visionary environmental policies in the world. From this we can conclude that socialism isn’t necessarily ecological, but that a new form of democratic eco-socialism, with the humility to learn from Indigenous teachings about the duties to future generations and the interconnection of all of life, appears to be humanity’s best shot at collective survival.

These are the stakes in the surge of movement-grounded political candidates who are advancing a democratic eco-socialist vision, connecting the dots between the economic depredations caused by decades of neoliberal ascendency and the ravaged state of our natural world. Partly inspired by Bernie Sanders’s presidential run, candidates in a variety of races — like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York, Kaniela Ing in Hawaii, and many more — are running on platforms calling for a “Green New Deal” that meets everyone’s basic material needs, offers real solutions to racial and gender inequities, while catalyzing a rapid transition to 100 percent renewable energy. Many, like New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon and New York attorney general candidate Zephyr Teachout, have pledged not to take money from fossil fuel companies and are promising instead to prosecute them.

These candidates, whether or not they identify as democratic socialist, are rejecting the neoliberal centrism of the establishment Democratic Party, with its tepid “market-based solutions” to the ecological crisis, as well as Donald Trump’s all-out war on nature. And they are also presenting a concrete alternative to the undemocratic extractivist socialists of both the past and present. Perhaps most importantly, this new generation of leaders isn’t interested in scapegoating “humanity” for the greed and corruption of a tiny elite. It seeks instead to help humanity — particularly its most systematically unheard and uncounted members — to find their collective voice and power so they can stand up to that elite.

We aren’t losing earth — but the earth is getting so hot so fast that it is on a trajectory to lose a great many of us. In the nick of time, a new political path to safety is presenting itself. This is no moment to bemoan our lost decades. It’s the moment to get the hell on that path.

The post Capitalism Killed Our Climate Momentum, Not “Human Nature” appeared first on The Intercept.

05 Aug 00:09

The Washington Post Thinks It Is a New Idea to Tell People to Worry About Mobility and Not Inequality

Tom Roche

pullquote:

> Suppose that someone, we'll call them Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg, was really good at printing counterfeit bills. Imagine that they printed up trillions of these counterfeit bills. This would make them incredibly rich[, so they would be] creating demand for goods and services with their consumption. If the economy is below full employment this would be good news, since any source of demand will generate more output and jobs. However, if we are near full employment, or the Federal Reserve Board thinks we are near full employment, then this demand comes at the expense of the paychecks of ordinary workers.

> Prices like house prices and rents are driven up by our counterfeiters and the demand created by their servants. The Fed raises interest rates to slow growth and employment and lessen the ability of ordinary workers to get pay increases since the labor market will be weaker.

> Now, folks may object that Bezos and Zuckerberg are not like counterfeiters, they actually generate value for the economy. While this undoubtedly partly true, it is also the case that much of Bezos' wealth came from avoiding the requirement that retailers collect state and local sales taxes. Zuckerberg's wealth came from control of a monopoly platform and Blankfein's wealth came from running a too big to fail institution with friends in high places. [Since] productivity has been growing at an incredibly slow rate for the last dozen years (just over 1.0 percent annually) it seems in aggregate that these incredibly rich folks are much better at generating wealth for themselves than for the economy as a whole. This makes the rent-seeker story look very plausible.

> While Lowenstein's plea for greater mobility is about as old as capitalism and has been incredibly unsuccessful, let me propose something considerably more original that you probably won't see in the Washington Post. Since we have so completely bombed at providing anything like equal opportunity, and no serious person can think this is about to change in the decades ahead, how about we structure our economy so that it makes less difference whether someone ends up at the top end like Jeff Bezos or at the bottom, earning the minimum wage?

Just when you thought economic commentary in the Washington Post couldn't get any more insipid, Roger Lowenstein proves otherwise. In a business section "perspective" he tells readers:

"But what if inequality is the wrong metric. Herewith a modest proposition: economic inequality is not the best yardstick. What we should be paying attention to is social mobility."

Wow, what a novel new idea, as though right-wingers have not been pushing this line since the dawn of time: "don't worry that your standard of living is awful, the important thing is that your kids will be able to get rich." (It doesn't help his story that his poster child for the rich being good is Lloyd Blankfein, who made his fortune shuffling financial assets at Goldman Sachs and benefitted from a massive government bailout.)

But let's be generous and try to take Lowenstein's story seriously. He goes on:

"Rising inequality, although a fact, is also very hard to find a culprit for. Not that economists haven’t tried."

Really? There are plenty of really good explanations for rising inequality, many of which are in my [free] book Rigged. I suppose in the Age of Trump it is appropriate that the Post has a business columnist determined to flaunt his ignorance.

Read More ...

05 Aug 00:01

China and the United States: Who Has More Innovation to "Steal?"

Tom Roche

pullquote:

> The vast majority of us don't own any substantial amount of intellectual property that is being compromised by China's practices, Somehow we are supposed to be concerned that Boeing, Microsoft, Pfizer, Disney, and the rest are seeing lower profits because China doesn't follow the rules they want them to follow. [...] These are huge multinationals that have made their largest shareholders and top executives incredibly rich. The rest of us are supposed to want to stick it to China to make these people even richer?

> It's actually even worse. The simple story is that if China has to pay less money to Boeing et al. for their intellectual property claims they will have more money to buy other things from the United States, like soybeans and whiskey. Tell me again about "our" intellectual property.

One of the truly amazing aspects of Donald Trump's trade war with China is how all the pundits agree that we have a legitimate beef with China over stealing "our" intellectual property. This is true pretty much across the board, even among the harshest critics of Trump and his tariffs. As I have argued almost alone, this one needs a bit more thought.

First, the "our" part of the story needs some examination. The vast majority of us don't own any substantial amount of intellectual property that is being compromised by China's practices, Somehow we are supposed to be concerned that Boeing, Microsoft, Pfizer, Disney, and the rest are seeing lower profits because China doesn't follow the rules they want them to follow.

Sorry folks, these are not the homes teams that we are supposed to root for in baseball. These are huge multinationals that have made their largest shareholders and top executives incredibly rich. The rest of us are supposed to want to stick it to China to make these people even richer?

It's actually even worse. The simple story is that if China has to pay less money to Boeing et al. for their intellectual property claims they will have more money to buy other things from the United States, like soybeans and whiskey. Tell me again about "our" intellectual property.

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04 Aug 13:34

Behind the News, 8/2/18

Tom Roche

Adam Tooze and Leo Panitch, separately, on globalization, Trump, the American empire, declinism

Behind the News, 8/2/18 - guests: Adam Tooze, Leo Panitch - Doug Henwood
03 Aug 13:03

Courtney Fullilove, “The Profit of the Earth: The Global Seeds of American Agriculture” (U Chicago Press, 2017)

by Lance C. Thurner
Tom Roche

too much meta (about writing the book, etc), not enough book/material

The Profit of the Earth: The Global Seeds of American Agriculture (University of Chicago Press, 2017) examines the social and political history of how agricultural knowledge was created in the 19th century.  Over the course of the 19th century, rural America transformed into the familiar arrangement of large scale, mechanized...
01 Aug 13:37

Jacobin Radio: Russiagate

by Jacobin magazine
Tom Roche

403s as of 1330 UTC 1 Aug 2018

Suzi talks to Jacobin's executive editor, Seth Ackerman, and editor of Critique (and Russia expert) Hillel Ticktin, about the actual state of US-Russia relations and how they are portrayed. Seth Ackerman skewers mainstream-media reporting on Russia and asks why there is such a divergence between the substance and fact of US Russia policy — and what the media obsession and hysteria over the supposed Russian threat represents. Hillel Ticktin asks why the US has been so harsh on Russia, when Putin represents a Christian capitalist, if authoritarian, politics? We’ll get his take on what is behind making Russia our archenemy once again, now that it no longer pretends to be communist, and is indeed a fraction of what it was industrially, in terms of its population, and its strength.

01 Aug 13:32

Nevis: how the world’s most secretive offshore haven refuses to clean up – podcast

The years since 2008 have seen a global crackdown on offshore finance. Yet a few places have doubled down on offering secrecy to the super-rich. Among these, one tiny Caribbean island might be the worst offender • Read the text version here
31 Jul 14:25

Sabina Leonelli, “Data-Centric Biology: A Philosophical Study” (U Chicago Press, 2016)

by Mikey McGovern
Tom Roche

very excellent, esp on open data and open science

Commentators have been forecasting the eclipse of hypothesis-driven science and the rise of a new ‘data-driven’ science for some time now. Harkening back to the aspirations of Enlightenment empiricists, who sought to establish for the collection of sense data what astronomers had done for the movements of heavenly bodies, they...
31 Jul 13:57

First Horseman: "Spillover: 1 of 3: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen

by The John Batchelor Show
Tom Roche

rerun

AUTHOR.

(Photo: )

http://JohnBatchelorShow.com/contact

http://JohnBatchelorShow.com/schedules

Twitter: @BatchelorShow

First Horseman: "Spillover: 1 of 3: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen

https://www.amazon.com/Spillover-Animal-Infections-Human-Pandemic/dp/0393346617/ref=sr11?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1532911599&sr=1-1&keywords=spillover+quammen

30 Jul 18:36

Jake Yapp’s Media Circus

Tom Roche

very excellent

Jake Yapp applies his sharp-satirical eye to the modern media, exploring its strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies through stand-up, sketch and music. Episode 1 - Daytime TV Jake turns his focus to the Daytime TV schedule. Exploring its most common tropes and iterations while attempting to explain why he finds so much of it unwatchable. Written, performed and composed by Jake Yapp Starring George Fouracres and Emily Lloyd-Saini Additional material by Robin Morgan Produced by Joe Nunnery A BBC Studios Production
29 Jul 13:07

The bitter conflict over Poland’s communist history – podcast

Many Poles remember Soviet soldiers saving them from Nazi occupation. But a growing number are rejecting that narrative, and the monuments that come with it Read the text version here
28 Jul 05:25

Classic Dead Ringers

Tom Roche

very excellent, up there with the Dead Ringers Christmas specials

A classic episode of Dead Ringers from Friday 16th June 2017. Recorded the day before transmission, the satirical sketch show remains as sharp and topical as ever. Impressions and caricatures are the charming couriers of explosively satirical truth-bombs. The series is written by Private Eye writers Tom Jamieson and Nev Fountain, together with Tom Coles, Ed Amsden, Sarah Campbell, Laurence Howarth, James Bugg, Laura Major, Max Davis, Jack Bernhardt and others. The series stars Jon Culshaw, Jan Ravens, Lewis MacLeod, Debra Stephenson and Duncan Wisbey. A BBC Studios Production.
27 Jul 00:56

Understanding Marx’s legacy

27 Jul 00:56

Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics

27 Jul 00:56

Aristocracy, Oligarchy, and Donald Trump

27 Jul 00:56

This Is How An Empire Falls

22 Jul 01:19

The Roman Occupation of Britain and Queen Boudica’s Rebellion

21 Jul 04:25

Behind the News, 7/19/18

Tom Roche

Rebecca Gordon explains why Nicaraguans are protesting the Ortega government (article @ https://nacla.org/news/2018/07/09/nicaragua-barricades ) • Alex Gourevitch @ Brown on how the workplace is authoritarian, and why strikes are essential (article @ https://jacobinmag.com/2018/07/right-to-strike-freedom-civil-liberties-oppression )

Behind the News, 7/19/18 - guests: Rebecca Gordon, Alex Gourevitch - Doug Henwood
20 Jul 12:28

Clayton Nall, “The Road to Inequality: How the Federal Highway Program Polarized America and Undermine Cities” (Cambridge UP, 2018)

by Heath Brown
Tom Roche

very excellent

Several recent guests on New Books in Political Science have talked about the path to political polarization in the US, including Lilliana Mason, Dan and Dave Hopkins, and Sam Rosenfeld. The deep divides between the parties have an obvious geographic dimension, but what is the cause? What has allowed people...
18 Jul 21:58

Democracy Now! 2018-07-16 Monday

Tom Roche

Part 1 of pre-summit debate on U.S.-Russia relations between Joe Cirincione (president of Ploughshares Fund) and Glenn Greenwald (part 2 @ https://www.democracynow.org/2018/7/16/part_2_debate_on_russian_meddling )

Democracy Now! 2018-07-16 Monday

  • Headlines for July 16, 2018
  • Mass Protests Meet Trump-Putin Summit in Helsinki over Human Rights, Free Speech, Climate Action
  • Debate: Is Trump-Putin Summit a "Danger to America" or Crucial Diplomacy Between Nuclear Powers?

Download this show

18 Jul 21:55

Why we may never know if British troops committed war crimes in Iraq – podcast

The Iraq Historic Allegations Team was set up by the government to investigate claims of the abuse of civilians. After its collapse, some fear the truth will never come out • Read the text version here
15 Jul 13:52

Frank L. Holt, “The Treasures of Alexander the Great: How One Man’s Wealth Shaped the World” (Oxford UP, 2016)

by Mark Klobas
Tom Roche

very excellent

Most studies of the Macedonian conqueror Alexander III focus on the military aspects of his life and reign. Yet Alexander’s campaigns would not have been possible had it not been for the enormous plunder his armies seized in their conquests. In The Treasures of Alexander the Great: How One Man’s...