Archive for December, 2020

Rain of Gold: an immigrant saga

December 31, 2020

RAIN OF GOLD by Victor Villaseñor is a novelist’s re-creation of the lives of his  Mexican immigrant parents—their childhoods in Mexico in the early 20th century, their arduous journey to the United States and their lives up to the point of their marriage.

It was published in 1990 after 15 years of research in the USA and Mexico.  I never heard of it until I happened to come across it a few weeks ago in a free book exchange in my neighborhood.

Villaseñor’s parents—his father, the fierce, macho Juan Salvador Villaseñor, a child laborer who became a successful bootlegger, and his mother, the beautiful and good Lupe Gomez—were amazing people whose lives deserve to be recorded.

The stories of their survival, and of how they met, are sagas in themselves. In the telling, Villaseñor gives a detailed, fascinating picture of Mexican and Mexican-American life in the early 20th century. 

What’s especially interesting to me is how his parents resolved the conflict between the Mexican culture based on defense of personal honor  versus the US American culture based on achievement for personal success.

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Juan Salvador was the grandson of Pio Castro, a soldier who fought with Benito Juarez in the 1860s to liberate Mexico from a puppet government established by the French.  Pio Castro then went on to establish a prosperous and free community in the mountains of central Mexico called Los Altos de Jalisco.

But the family was pushed aside during the reign of Porfiro Diaz, and we meet Juan Salvador as an 11-year-old boy, on the road with his mother, brothers and sisters. trying to get to the United States.  They were so poor that, among other things, they ate grain found by young Juan Salvador horse droppings.

By age 13, Juan Salvador was working as an adult for a copper mining company in New Mexico.  He was arrested and sentenced to six years in prison for stealing scrap copper.  While he was awaiting trial, he accepted an offer of $500 (more than $50,000 in today’s money) to his family if he pleaded guilty to a murder the rich man’s son had committed.  He was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder.

While on a prison work gang, he was set upon by rapists and nearly killed while resisting.  He escaped from the prison hospital and made his way to Montana, where he worked in copper mines there under a different name.

Still a teenager, he learned from a Greek-Turkish mentor how to play poker for money.  He later became a valued employee at Montana’s biggest and most exclusive whorehouse.

By age 21, he had done well for himself in Montana, but answered an appeal by his sister Luisa to rejoin his family, which had moved to California.  Her message was that individual success is meaningless unless it contributes to the building-up of a family.  

At this time, Prohibition was in effect.  He continued to do well at cards—without cheating, the author emphasized—and made some money smuggling tequila across the border with Mexico.

He found himself in jail, together with a group of other prisoners dominated by two brutal Anglos.  He put down the two thugs, and established a kind of government in the cell, with elected judges and enforcers of order, paid out of a carton of cigarettes he’d brought with thim. 

A middle-aged Mafioso in the cell was impressed by Juan Salvador and made friends with him.  He agreed, for a price, to tell him how to distill whiskey.

At that time, although Juan Salvador had learned his ABCs from a Mexican cook in prison, he was functionally illiterate.  He could not read a newspaper in English or Spanish, nor locate Europe or China on a map. 

Yet he was able to make acceptable whiskey based just on an interview of a single person, and also run a successful business which happened to be outside the law.

I am a college graduate, but such things would have been beyond my ability.

The important thing about Juan Salvador is that although he was a criminal, he was an honorable man.  He didn’t cheat anyone, he didn’t exploit anyone and he kept his word.  His family, friends and neighbors looked up to him.

He carried a gun and, although the author is coy about whether his dad actually killed anyone, he was capable of violence.  Yet he was gentle with his loved ones.  He and his equally violent brother, Domingo, gave absolute respect and obedience to their mother, Dona Margarita.

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Larry Summers says $2,000 is too much.

December 29, 2020

Larry Summers

Larry Summers is one of the USA’s most renowned economists.

He has been chief economist for the World Bank, Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton administration, president of Harvard University and director of the National Economic Council in the Obama administration.

As Matt Taibbi points out, Summers has consistently advocated for bailouts for failed financial institutions and consistently opposed help for individuals in distress. 

Currently he opposes sending $2,000 stimulus checks to Americans to offset the COVID recession because it would “overheat the economy.”

LINKS

Trump-Pelosi $2,000 Stimulus Checks Are a Big Mistake by Lawrence H. Summers for Bloomberg Opinion.  [Added 12/30/2020]

Neoliberal Champion Larry Summers Opens Mouth, Inserts Both Feet by Matt Taibbi for TK News.

Why Larry Summers MUST Believe $2,000 Checks Are a Bad Idea by Ian Welsh [Added 12/30/2020]

Nearly half of Americans blame GOP for lack of $2,000 stimulus checks by Business Insider [1/3/2021]

Homes of Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell Are Vandalized by CNN Politics.  [Added1/3/2021]

When “conservatives” and “liberals” unite

December 29, 2020

Community activists battling plans for a hideous Chicago shrine to Barack Obama have been dealt a series of blows in recent months.  Perhaps most notable was a rebuff from none other than Amy Coney Barrett, whose decision in favor of Obama bore all the hallmarks of ruling class solidarity.

How Amy Coney Barrett and Barack Obama Transcended Petty Partisanship to Crush Community Activists in Chicago by Liza Featherstone for Jacobin. 

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UpdateI was over-hasty in posting this link.  On sober second thought, it is unfair to attribute a bad motive to Judge Barrett.

In principle, the elected municipal government and its officials have better standing to determine what is in the public interest than do self-appointed community activists or un-elected judges. 

The former have to answer to the public at the polls; the latter do not.  Judge Barrett was acting according to the well-established legal philosophy of judicial restraint.

In practice, the Obama project seems like a horrible idea, and nobody who is responsible for it will ever face any kind of accountability. 

As the saying goes, hard cases make bad law.

Glenn Greenwald on the real threat to democracy

December 28, 2020

Monopolists Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, Tim Cook and Jeff Bezos

The Threat of Authoritarianism in the U.S. Is Very Real and Has Nothing To Do With Trump by Glenn Greenwald.  “The COVID-driven centralization of economic power and information control in the hands of a few corprorate monopolies poses enduring threats to political freedom.”

Domestic fossil fuel industries in crisis

December 28, 2020

The domestic U.S. fossil fuel industry is in trouble.  Hundreds of thousands of jobs are at stake.  President Joe Biden will face a choice: try to save them or replace them with something better.  There is a good article in Dissent magazine about this.

In 2016,  [Donald] Trump charged Barack Obama with waging a “war against coal” and promised to bring the sector back to its former glory.

He manifestly failed to do so, but his rhetoric still proved an effective bludgeon against Hillary Clinton in Appalachia during the campaign.  In fact, more coal plants were retired under Trump than in either of Obama’s terms in office.

U.S. coal production had already been declining for years, as cheap natural gas edged it out of the energy mix used in power plants.  Coal jobs had been disappearing for years even before that, as the industry replaced workers with machines.

At its peak in the 1920s, the industry employed over 800,000 people in the United States.  Today, only about 42,000 coal mining jobs remain.

As coal companies have gone bankrupt, they have shed their pension obligations to former workers, leaving the federal government to pick up the bill.  Last December, Congress bailed out nearly 100,000 coal miners’ pensions.

In the long run, this was a good thing, not a bad thing.  Of all the important sources of energy production, coal is the dirtiest.  It generates the most air and water pollution and the greatest hazards to its workers’ health and the public health.  Still, that is no consolation if your livelihood depends on coal.

As energy researchers point out, coal is the canary for other fossil fuel industries. Oil isn’t on quite the same decline yet, but it’s headed in that direction.

The American fracking industry has expanded rapidly in the past decade with the use of cheap credit, and with encouragement from Obama, who boasted of making the United States the world’s leading oil producer.

But the shale oil that fracking produces is only profitable when oil prices are relatively high, and the overproduction of shale gas has glutted global markets.

The combination of a pandemic-spurred decline in demand and a price war between Saudi and Russian producers sent oil prices plummeting this year, resulting in a record number of bankruptcies among American oil producers.  An estimated 107,000 oil industry workers lost their jobs in the United States this year.

While some of those may come back as the economy recovers (whenever that is), many will not. Some energy analysts suggest that the world may have hit “peak oil demand,” as renewable energy begins to replace fossil fuels.  The Houston Chronicle reports that oil production employment in Texas “may never fully recover” as the overextended shale oil sector consolidates and learns to get by with fewer workers.

Source: Dissent Magazine

The fact that the fracking industry, or any other fossil fuel industry, is unprofitable doesn’t necessarily mean it will cease operations.  The economic incentive for an industry in the red is to do everything possible—in this case, extract every little globule of shale oil and gas—to minimize the loss.

Of course, moving away from fossil fuels is a good thing, not a bad thing—also overall.  Global warming is not imaginary.  Greenhouse gas emissions are real.  But what about all the people whose jobs depend on oil and gas?

We need something like a Green New Deal to create useful and sustainable jobs to replace jobs lost.  Without some such program, Americans will be forced to choose between short-run economic survivable and a livable planet in the long run.

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A few words on the soul

December 27, 2020

by Wislawa Szymborska

We have a soul at times.
No one’s got it non-stop
for keeps.

Day after day,
year after year
may pass without it.

Sometimes
it will settle for awhile
only in childhood’s fears and raptures.
Sometimes only in astonishment
that we are old.

It rarely lends a hand
in uphill tasks,
like moving furniture,
or lifting luggage,
or going miles in shoes that pinch.

It usually steps out
whenever meat needs chopping
or forms have to be filed.

For every thousand conversations
it participates in one,
if even that,
since it prefers silence.

Just when our body goes from ache to pain,
it slips off-duty.

It’s picky;
it doesn’t like seeing us in crowds,
our hustling for a dubious advantage
and creaky machinations make it sick.

Joy and sorrow
aren’t two different feelings for it.
It attends us
only when the two are joined.

We can count on it
when we’re sure of nothing
and curious about everything.

Among the material objects
it favors clocks with pendulums
and mirrors, which keep on working
even when no one is looking.

It won’t say where it comes from
or when it’s taking off again
though it’s clearly expecting such questions.

We need it
but apparently
it needs us
for some reason too.

Source: A Few Words on the Soul

Once in Royal David’s City

December 25, 2020

This selection is lifted from Lambert Strether’s Christmas Eve 2020 message on Naked Capitalism.

I enjoyed the whole message and the comment thread that followed.

Merry Christmas 2020

December 24, 2020

Another selection lifted from Decker’s Dispatches from the Asylum

Religion and the U.S. political divide

December 23, 2020

It’s striking how religious divisions in the United State coincide with political divisions. It’s also striking how little the religious divisions have to do with theological beliefs.

Roughly 80 percent of white American evangelical Protestants vote Republican. Roughly 80 percent of Americans with no particular religion vote Democratic.

But this is not based on theological beliefs. Black American evangelical Protestants have the same theological beliefs as white evangelicals.

They believe in being born again and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. But black evangelicals are as reliably Democratic and white evangelicals are Republican.

I can remember the 1950s, when theological beliefs were important. Evangelical Protestants thought Mormons were a “cult.”

Prior to the Second Vatican Council, many Unitarians and Universalists thought that Roman Catholics, not evangelical Protestants, were the people you had to watch out for, precisely because of their theology.

Nowadays sectarian religious beliefs are less important. The division is between those who cling to traditional religion, of whatever kind, and those who embrace modern and secular ways of thinking.

Conservative Protestants, Catholics and Jews are on one side and liberal Protestants, Catholics and Jews are on the other.  People who used to think each other were bound for Hell are now political allies.

The argument is not over specific religious doctrines, but over whether and how much to accept what’s called modernity, including, in recent years, the sexual revolution.

My hope used to be that the old-time live-and-let-live liberalism offered a way for people of differing opinions to live together, but this does not seem to be on offer.

LINKS

Secular ‘values voters’ are becoming an electoral force in the US – just look closely at 2020’s results by Phil Zuckerman, professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College.

What the election tells us about religion in America by Jennifer Rubin for The Washington Post.

In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace by the Pew Research Center.

Trumpism and the revolt of rural America

December 22, 2020

My city neighborhood is full of Black Lives Matter signs.  But if I were to drive 20 or 30 miles beyond the city, I would soon see I was in Trump country.

A blogger named Crispin Sartwell sees Trumpism as a rural identity politics movement, like black nationalism and gay pride.

In these decades I’ve seen rural America sag severely: small manufacturers disappearing; farms foreclosed or folded into much bigger operations; small-town downtowns shuttered; kids living the song and leaving as soon as they can; schools and churches becoming abandoned buildings; waves of meth and opiates.

For decades, there seemed to be an effortless but bizarre assumption, even in the sociological research into rural pathologies, that everyone wanted to live in a city and eventually would, more or less, as the economy somehow transformed from making concrete things to providing abstract services.

Rural Americans were living in a way that was over, and the question was how to assimilate them into the globalized information economy of the 21st century, or whatever Al Gore was on about.

But what are y’all going to do, abandon 93 percent of the country and eat information?  Country people are often derided for ignorance, but they often deride you for living in a realm of delusion.

There are some problems with Barack-Obama-style technocracy I’d like to point out.  Rural people have been approached, at best, pretty much the way Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Bill Clinton approached black people: How can we address your pathologies? Maybe if y’all went to college…

Trumpism appears out here as a rural pride movement.  Such a movement strikes me as justified, necessary in some form: a culture, a way or ways of life, and the connection of people with the physical landscape of America have been endangered, devalued, sneered at, and devastated.

Country and small-town America has similar reasons as black America or trans America to unite and resist. I’m surprised that it didn’t happen before.

But I wish it hadn’t been Trump. I wish the sense of rural pride that has arisen wasn’t tainted with white pride, that there could be a rural nationalism that wasn’t connected in any way to white nationalism, that people out here weren’t falling for lies.

Rural America needed an avatar, but that New York developer with his rattletrap demagoguery and his relentless narcissism was both an unlikely and extremely unfortunate selection.  But personae as compelling and mercurial and bold as Trump’s, and as willing to smash the stultifying rhetorical conventions of American technocracy, are rare.

One wonders whether the sense of rural identity could’ve arisen at all without a big dose of these dark sides, and one bad thing about the ironic embodiment of rural identity in Trump is that it tends to confirm everything that Harvard profs and Atlantic staff writers think about us: that we’re ignorant, easily manipulated, evil, and stupid.

On the other hand, everyone is sort of paying attention now; everyone is sort of realizing that country people have them surrounded, that driving in any direction from any big city in America gets you to Trump country really quick.

They’re talking again about fixing rural people, or beaming more diabolically effective propaganda into our homes to relieve us of our ignorance, or educating children out of their parents’ values, all of which is just going to piss people off and exacerbate the divide.

But what I dream of seeing is a rural politics and a representation of rural people in the corridors of power that proceeds by some sort of expansion rather than various forms of exclusion, that demands recognition and concrete steps to help rural communities but does not configure around racial identities.

Some progressives complain that they can’t enact their agenda because of the over-representation of Trump voters in the Electoral College and the Senate.  This is baked into the Constitution and virtually impossible to change anytime soon.

With the depopulation of rural areas and the concentration of wealth in certain big cities, this disparity can only grown.  So maybe progressives should try instead to seriously address the problems of rural America, which in many ways are like the problems of urban America.

LINK

Trumpism as a Rural Identity Movement by Crispin Sartwell for Splice Today. (Hat tip to Gene Zitver)

Happy Holidays 2020

December 19, 2020

I lifted this from Decker’s Dispatches from the Asylum.  Every one of his posts is followed by a great music video.

Existential threats to humanity, in rank order

December 16, 2020

The Chart of Doom: Ranking Apocalypses by Jason Kottke for kottke.org.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

December 14, 2020

A writer named Edward Curtin had a good article in OffGuardian about the basic similarity of the Democratic and Republican parties.

Both are willing to bail out monopoly businesses. Both are unwilling to do anything meaningful to help the poor, working people or the middle class.

Both are committed to perpetual war. Leaders of neither party are willing to pardon Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden for the crime of pointing out how Americans have been deceived by their government.

The truth is that both the Trump voters and the Biden voters have been taken for a ride.  It is a game, a show, a movie, a spectacle.  It hasn’t changed much since 1969; the rich have gotten richer and the poor, working, and middle classes have gotten poorer and more desperate.  Those who have profited have embraced the fraud.

The Institute for Policy Studies has just released a new analysis showing that since the start of the Covid-19 “pandemic” in mid-March and the subsequent transfer upwards of $5 trillion to the wealthy and largest corporations through the Cares Act, approved 96-0 in the US Senate, 650 US billionaires have gained over a trillion dollars in eight months as the American people have suffered an economic catastrophe.

This shift upward of massive wealth under Trump is similar to Obama’s massive 2009 bailout of the banks on the backs of American workers.  Both were justified through feats of legerdemain by both political parties, accomplices in the fleecing of regular people, many of whom continue to support the politicians that screw them while telling them they care.

If the Democrats and the Republicans are at war as is often claimed, it is only over who gets the larger part of the spoils.  [snip]

I am well aware that most people disagree with my analysis. It does seem as if I am wrong and that because the Democrats and their accomplices have spent years attempting to oust Trump through Russia-gate, impeachment, etc. that what seems true is true and Trump is simply a crazy aberration who somehow slipped through the net of establishment control to rule for four years.

To those 146+ million people who voted for Biden and Trump this seems self-evident. But if that is so, why, despite their superficial differences – and Obama’s, Hillary Clinton’s and George W. Bush’s for that matter – have the super-rich gotten richer and richer over the decades and the war on terror continued as the military budget has increased each year and the armament industries and the Wall Street crooks continued to rake in the money at the expense of everyone else?

Source: OffGuardian

It’s a good article, well worth reading in full.  As Curtin points out, the same thing is going on in Britain.  My only quarrel with him is his focus on the “white working class.”  The American wage-earning class is multi-racial, and with a higher percentage of African-Americans, Hispanics, immigrants and women than the general population.

This is important to point out, because so many self-described liberals ignore this reality and set up a false opposition between racial justice and economic justice.

It is not as if black wage-earners are forging ahead and white wage-earners are the only ones falling behind.  Neither Barack Obama nor Bill Clinton did anything special to raise up black working people, either as a special group or part of the overall body politick.  Neither did Donald Trump nor George W. Bush did anything meaningful for working people—white, black or otherwise.

LINK

The Past Lives On: The Elite Strategy to Divide and Conquer by Edward Curtin for OffGuardian.  (Hat tip to Steve from Texas)

‘A libertarian walks into a bear’

December 13, 2020

How a New Hampshire libertarian utopia was foiled by bears by Sean Illing for Vox.  “Seriously, this happened.  You should read about it.”  (Hat tip to Steve from Texas)

The legacy of Trump

December 13, 2020

What I Saw at the Jericho March by Rod Dreher for The American Conservative.  Very revealing.  This craziness isn’t going to go away anytime soon.

It’s No Longer Enough to be Merely Anti-Trump by Kevin Drum for Mother Jones.

COVID deaths highest in U.S in rural Republican-leaning Kansas county by Trevor Hughes for USA Today.

Speculation swirls over Ivanka Trump’s potential run for US Senate in Florida in The Guardian.  [Added 12/14/2020] (Hat tip to Steve from Texas).

Can you name the missing seven states?

December 12, 2020

Via XKCD. Hat tip to kottke.org.

The twilight of the American university

December 11, 2020

When I think of the wonderful experience I had attending a university in the 1950s and the great teachers I had, I grieve for that this experience is rarely if ever available today, except for a few pockets where scholars stubbornly value learning for its own sake.

The faculty and administrators of the University of Wisconsin stood up for the right to tell the truth as they saw it, and not just for the rights of tenured faculty, in the era of Joe McCarthy.

Now college professors are under pressure from two directions—pressure to refrain from scholarship that is threatening to business interests, and pressure to maintain an ideological orthodoxy regarding race, gender, etc. These two pressures are not incompatible.

When I was a newspaper reporter, from roughly 60 years ago to roughly 20 years ago, there were only three categories of people I could interview who would speak their minds without fear—owners of successful businesses, members of strong labor unions and tenured college professors. Add to that civil servants talking about their areas of expertise.

The fear factor was much greater when I retired than when I started out. I am pretty sure it is not less today.

Universities are part of the institutional memory of civilizations. Their decline is one reason for the historical amnesia that exists today.

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Waiting for Biden

December 11, 2020

Trump’s Gone, So What’s Next for the Democrats? by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.  “The party needs to find another message besides ‘We are not Trump.’ “

The Biden Presidency: a New Beginning or a Fragile Interregnum? by Walden Bello for Foreign Policy in Focus.  (Hat tip to Steve from Texas)  “Hewing to its centrist instincts will be a disaster for the Biden administration.  The left must seize the initiative.”

The YouTube Ban Is Un-American, Wrong and Will Backfire by Matt Taibbi for TK News. “Silicon Valley couldn’t have designed a better way to further radicalize Trump voters.”

With News of Hunter Biden’s Criminal Probe, Recall the Media Outlets That Peddled the “Russian Disinformation” Lie by Glenn Greenwald.

Who the #Resistance Was Actually #Resisting These Past Four Years by Caitlin Johnstone.

Hope Lives: My Journey from Obama Loyalist to Advocating for Inclusive Justice by Teodose FIkremariam for Ghion Journal.

The twilight of academic freedom

December 10, 2020

R.I.P. The University, b. 1088, d. 2020, of Covid by “Lambert Strether” for Naked Capitalism.

The vertical forests of Milan

December 9, 2020

The Beauty of the Future by Ian Welsh

Vertical Forest | Stefano Boeri Architetti

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A split within the Black Lives Matter movement?

December 8, 2020

BLM Chapters Demand Accountability from Trio That Cashed in on the Movement by Glen Ford for the Black Agenda Report.

The lasting military legacy of the Trump era

December 7, 2020

President Trump lasting military legacy, according to  Michael T. Klare, is not how Trump waged or failed to wage the global war on terror.

It is something far different—the conversion of the U.S. military from a global counterterror force into one designed to fight an all-out, cataclysmic, potentially nuclear war with China and/or Russia.

In the Cold War years, Western strategists generally imagined a contest of brute strength in which our tanks and artillery would battle theirs along hundreds of miles of front lines until one side or the other was thoroughly depleted and had no choice but to sue for peace (or ignite a global nuclear catastrophe).

Today’s strategists, however, imagine far more multidimensional (or “multi-domain”) warfare extending to the air and well into rear areas, as well as into space and cyberspace.  In such an environment, they’ve come to believe that the victor will have to act swiftly, delivering paralyzing blows to what they call the enemy’s C3I capabilities (critical command, control, communications, and intelligence) in a matter of days, or even hours.

Only then would powerful armored units be able to strike deep into enemy territory and, in true Patton fashion, ensure a Russian defeat.  The U.S. military has labeled such a strategy “all-domain warfare” and assumes that the U.S. will indeed dominate space, cyberspace, airspace, and the electromagnetic spectrum.

In a future confrontation with Russian forces in Europe, as the doctrine lays it out, U.S. air power would seek control of the airspace above the battlefield, while using guided missiles to knock out Russian radar systems, missile batteries, and their C3I facilities.  The Army would conduct similar strikes using a new generation of long-range artillery systems and ballistic missiles.

Only when Russia’s defensive capabilities were thoroughly degraded would that Army follow up with a ground assault, Patton-style.

Russia is a nuclear power on a par with the United States, and China also has nuclear weapons.  So the administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review called for development of a new generation of unclear weapons, including battlefield weapons.

 It called for the introduction of two new types of nuclear munitions: a “low-yield” warhead (meaning it could, say, pulverize Lower Manhattan without destroying all of New York City) for a Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile and a new nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile.

President Trump scrapped the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which limited short-range nuclear missiles in Europe.  He has refused to renew the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expires Feb. 5, 2021—just two weeks after Joe Biden’s inauguration.

At best, this commits the United States to an expensive new arms race at a time when government on all levels is short of money to maintain basic infrastructure and provide for basic needs.  At worst, it threatens a nuclear war that would destroy industrial civilization and a large fraction of the human race.

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The passing scene: Links 12/6/2020

December 6, 2020

Make them cry: Tear-gasms now a matter for American boasting by Thomas Frank for Le Monde diplomatique.

After the Deep State Sabotaged His Presidential Bid, Bernie Sanders Mocks Those Who Believe It Exists by Glenn Greenwald on Substack.

The Lex Luthor-Jean Luc Picard-Jeff Bezos look

December 5, 2020

I’m far from the first person to have noticed the physical resemblance between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Star Trek’s Jean-Luc Picard and Superman’s nemesis Lex Luthor.

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China’s triumph in maritime shipping

December 4, 2020

Double click to enlarge

As recently as 2006, only three of the world’s 20 busiest ports were Chinese.  Now nine of them are, including seven of the top 10.

Notice that China’s largest port, Shanghai, does more than four times the business of the largest U.S. port, Los Angeles.

Along with this, the Chinese government plans to make China the hub of overland shipping within the Eurasian interior by constructing railroads and oil and gas pipelines.

The problem for the USA is not China.  It is that our American leaders have been pursuing a goal of military and financial dominance while neglecting the real sources of national economic strength.

LINK

Visualizing the World’s Busiest Ports by Nick Routley for Visual Capitalist.  Lots of interesting detail.  Note that the chart is nearly two years old.  Very likely China has increased its advantage since then.