On the murder of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, as reported @FT

Headline: Machine guns and a hit squad: the killing of Iran’s nuclear mastermind

Assassination set to escalate tensions as US president-elect Joe Biden keen to restart nuclear talks


Note that Mohsen Fakhrizadeh is named as the sinister, in fact evil ‘nuclear mastermind’

My comments:


How soon will the comments section get too pointed, so that the editors close down the comments section, of the reworked Mossad propaganda from yesterday? When the going gets tough…

Headline: Iran’s nuclear mastermind ‘assassinated’

Sub-headline: Officials in Tehran suggest Israel involvement in killing that escalates tensions with US


What if an American Scientist was murdered inside America? What would be the punishment for the responsible party, who hired thugs to do their dirty work?


In reply to Koln

Do better!!! I’m in America not in Tehran, and I have voiced my opinion, just like you have! Iran threw off the yoke of Imperial Oppressors.  A coup conducted by BP and Kermit Roosevelt and the CIA removed the democratically elected Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953, and put the Shah, and his secret police in power: this was the incubator of the mullah’s that you now inveigh against.
The Iranians come by Anti-Americanism and Anti-Britainism  via the route of the machinations of the American National Security State and British Petroleum to deny the sovereignty of a state because Mossadegh said he would Nationalize Iranian Oil.
‘The West’ is the object of Iranian rage for very good reasons as I have mentioned.
The final question in my post still stands unanswered. Because the answer is clear!

Thank you for your comment.



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The Proud Boys, as reported in the London Sunday Times. Old Socialist comments, and asks a question.

Headline: Meet the Proud Boys — Trump’s unofficial militia spoiling for a fight

Sub-headline: Sporting Fred Perry shirts and heavily armed, the American far-right group the president refused to condemn is on patrol at his rallies

‘ I initially thought McInnes’s list of Proud Boy “degrees” of membership must be another one of his jokes. Initiates must swear allegiance to the fraternity, get beaten up until they can recite the name of five cereal brands, adhere to a “no wanks” pledge (so young men stop watching porn and meet actual women, Aaron explained) and get a Proud Boy tattoo.
It made them sound like a bunch of incels (involuntary celibates). Could this be for real, I asked Aaron, who, like Mike, is 33 and single. Yes, the rules were rules. He took my question about the ban on masturbation well — “It does wonders for your determination, energy levels and productivity” — but denied they were incels. “That’s just a cheap lowball insult,” he said.
Nor were they misogynists, he insisted. “We do venerate housewives, though we respect women who work. We want to put women back on their pedestal. They have a cherished role in western civilisation.”
In fact, he was off to see his girlfriend in Seattle this weekend, a black foreign exchange student from the Democratic Republic of Congo. “I’m not a racist, 100%,” he added.
Aaron went on to remind me that there was a further “degree” for members — “getting into a physical altercation with Antifa”. He fulfilled that pledge in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in August when there was a violent clash with the far left. He sent me a video link. “It was wild,” he said. As he slugged it out with Antifa, he got hit in the face with a street sign.
If there is election chaos after November 3, as Trump has predicted, Aaron will be back on the streets with his Ruger AR-566 — all in the name of “self-defence”. If they are going to play at being Trump’s vigilantes, it will be a terrible joke on the American electorate.


Sexual Puritanism & Violent Reactionary Politics, if the Freudians still enjoyed cultural/psychological currency they would … If only Eric Ericson and his clique!
Add to the ‘Proud Boys’ the ‘Bugaloo Boys’ and ‘The Oath Keepers‘ that represent an American political nihilism, that dwarfs ‘Antifa’ and ‘BLM’ that leads inexorably to the question: will America’s Second Civil War begin on November 4, 2020?

Old Socialist

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Andy Divine depends on the ignorance of his readers, Episode MCCVII: On Concentration Camps & more pressing Evils. Old Socialist comments

I’ll bypass the first two installments of the Mr. Divine’s encyclical of June 21, 2019:

The Next Step for Gay Pride

The Trump Code

I’ll just read this next segment of moral shaming with which Andy confronts his readers:

The Totalitarian Nightmare the World Is Ignoring

I don’t want a new Cold War with China. But it is, in my view, an evil regime, and we should have no illusions about that. Twitter has been having a great time this past week parsing whether detention camps for illegal immigrants in the United States should be called “concentration camps.” In China, this debate might seem somewhat beside the point. Over a million Muslims who have crossed no border and committed no crimes are being taken from their homes en masse and subjected to brainwashing in vast camps and compounds from which there is no escape. Watch this excellent new BBC piece on these “thought transformation camps” — and feel the fear everywhere. The BBC was given access to a show camp, which is creepy enough. We can only imagine what goes on in the hidden ones.

Somehow Andy has become an expert on ‘concentration camps’: now Andy isn’t very adroit about his attack on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and her very welcome plain speaking on the concentration camps used by ICE to hold the Mestizo Hordes ,that are invading the land of Anglo-Protestant virtue, as articulated by that American political hysteric Samuel P. Huntington: in his Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity. The separation of children/infants from their parents , not to speak of caging these human beings, is an action used by Trump and his minions: ‘Give me your tired,your poor ,your huddled masses…’! An utter betrayal of ‘American Values’ ?

Andy likes to engage in the time honored tradition of One-up-man-ship pioneered by Stephen Potter. Virtue signalling is the current term of abuse, but Potter’s old stand-by fully describes Andy’s dull-witted practice . His argument:  You’ve averted your eyes from the ‘Evil Chinese Regime‘  for too long -its Human Rights abuses! In sum, the Concentration Camps used by ICE are by comparison to the Chinese Regime’s forms of oppression/re-education are evil, while the human rights abuses practiced by ICE are subject to a kind of pseudo- apologetic! In sum,  the crimes of ICE are minimized in comparison to the Chinese.


On the left, we worry about Islamophobia, or we expend our energies protesting the oppression of Palestinians by Israel’s occupation. On the right, we talk of religious freedom too often as if it only applies to Christians or Jews.

Yet, here is a man and writer whose moral/political enthusiasms for ‘The Bell Curve’ and the War in Iraq are facts that Andy can’t overcome. At least with his readers whose memories reach back to Andy’s reprehensible political past.  Andy achieves his ends by means of hectoring moralizing, in service to Andy’s pathological egotism, wedded to his political nihilism.

Old Socialist



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On Joe Biden’s Inaugural Address. American Writer comments

Watching Joe Biden’s Inaugural Address, a collection of cliches, and labored metaphors- perhaps he is sincere, or as sincere as an old pol can be. His appointments of Blinken, Nuland & R2P zealot Power offer, not hope, but demonstrates the utter persistence of a toxic American Exceptionalism. And a Technocracy, in thrall to an etiolated mythology, of the indispensability of American Leadership, as the placeholder for a ruthless, violent hegemony.

American Writer

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Janan Ganesh confects a Joe Biden Melodrama, out of a collection of aphorisms? Political Thinker comments.

The reader of Mr. Ganesh beguiling collection of aphorisms, that frame his History Made to Measure, has to admire its style, yet its measure of not the ‘world’s authoritarians’, but that of China, the featured player in this paragraph. (There is so much to choose from, I’ll be selective.)

It is not as if the world’s authoritarians need the reputational boost. New data confirm that China’s economy did more than merely avoid recession last year. Its Covid-19 vaccines have takers from Indonesia to Hungary via the Gulf, neatly inverting the Sino-Soviet split of the 1970s, Beijing has struck an investment deal with the EU. Those sounds you hear are the first notes of transatlantic discord over the emergent superpower.

Next to be featured in the Ganesh Melodrama:

Such is the world that confronts Joe Biden as he takes office on Wednesday. Not since 1945, when Harry Truman felt the weight of the “moon, the stars and all the planets”, has more rested on a new US president.

What really weighed upon Truman? Hiroshima and Nagasaki? And Joe Biden is the almost last gasp of the New Democrats, Harris is the Second Generation, waiting in the wings.

Mr. Ganesh then presents two hypotheticals :

If he governs well, mending the economy, dispensing vaccines, and calming the home front, he can stem the trickling away of US (and by extension western) credibility since the millennium. What started with the US’s “forever wars” and worsened with the 2008 financial crash reached a negative apotheosis with the still-raging pandemic. The west needs a success story for its own morale as much as its outward reputation.

If, on the other hand, Mr Biden fails, the sense of Chinese momentum will start to feel less like form and more like destiny. Countries with systems somewhere between multi-party democracy and absolutism might come to see the second as this century’s strong horse. Within the US, the soil will be fertilised for a populist comeback — an abler Donald Trump — in the 2024 election, with all that implies for domestic peace and intra-western comity. There is a circularity to decline.

Is this is the ‘where’ and the ‘what’ that Mr. Ganesh was aiming for?

The US had moral credit to spare, and such supremacy that it was neither easy nor worthwhile to identify the second mightiest country.

The closing paragraph, in all its historical/political obtuseness, of this Biden Apologetic, and its aim of ‘the shoring up of liberalism’s good name‘, as the most accurate descriptor of the Biden Project- the rhetorical guise of the aphorism, reminds the reader of the poverty of style over substance.

As a rule of thumb, a democracy is in good health to the extent that its politics do not matter. Ideally, the spread of outcomes from a new president should be a slightly better healthcare system or a slightly worse one. Mr Biden’s spread is nothing less than the shoring up of liberalism’s good name, or the extension of its malaise, until it hardens into fate. There is an air of the last chance about this presidency.


Political Thinker

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New Cold War Pyrotechnics, at The Financial Times of January 18, 2021. American Skeptic comments.

The Financial Times on the jailing of Alexei Navalny:

Headline: Russia jails opposition activist Alexei Navalny for 30 days

Sub-headline: Two EU countries call for bloc to impose sanctions if Putin critic is not released

Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny has been sentenced to 30 days in jail a day after returning to the country, following threats from EU member states to impose new sanctions against Moscow if he was not released.

Mr Navalny was detained by police at Moscow’s main airport on Sunday evening after returning from Germany where he had recovered from an assassination attempt involving use of a nerve agent from the novichok group.

The attempt on his life in August last year was blamed on the Kremlin and sparked widespread condemnation from western governments. Moscow denied any involvement and has suggested Mr Navalny could have been poisoned outside Russia.

The anti-corruption campaigner, who has emerged as president Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critic, was found guilty of breaching the terms of a suspended sentence on Monday by a hastily assembled makeshift court set up in the police station where he was held overnight, according to his lawyer.


The designation of ‘a nerve agent from the novichok group.’ helps avoid the vexing issues that Novichok, itself, is immediately toxic. The Heroes and Villains, here are Duchamp’s Ready Mades, in rhetorical guise. The disappeared Skipals , now long forgotten, here is a reminder:

The latest example of alleged Russian perfidy – the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia – is yet another case of faith-based attribution. In accusing Russia of some heinous crime – in this instance, the murder of a former double agent working for MI6 – one needn’t present any real evidence: it’s only necessary to point the finger at the Kremlin. And of course we haven’t had any real evidence proffered by the British government: Prime Minister Theresa May simply declared that Russia is the culprit and gave a midnight deadline for the Kremlin to explain how “its nerve weapon” – as NBC reported it – was used to attacked Skripal on British soil. She has since announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats. The absurdity of this was inadvertently underscored by the comments of Vil Mirzayanov, the Russian-born chemist who first revealed the existence of “Novichok,” the nerve agent developed by the Russians. Mirzayanov came to the United States in 1995: in 2007, he published a book, State Secrets, which tells his story as a chemist working in Russia’s secret chemical weapons facilities. Now 83, he gives the following explanation for the attack on Skripal:


The reader wonders as to who wrote the final version of this ‘news story’: Henry Foy in Moscow, Michael Peel in Brussels, Guy Chazan in Berlin, James Shotter in Warsaw?


Ben Hall on the arrest of Alexei Navalny in Moscow, under the rubric of ‘Opinion’.

Headline: Alexei Navalny is Russian for ‘domestic enemy number one’

Sub-headline: Arrest of opposition activist has only elevated his status as a symbol of repression

In 1976, a year after he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for being “spokesman for the conscience of mankind”, Andrei Sakharov was classified by the KGB as “domestic enemy number one”.

Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition activist arrested on his return to Moscow on Sunday, may not possess the same righteousness as Sakharov, the most famous of Soviet dissidents. But there is no doubting his courage. Or that today’s Kremlin regards him as its greatest domestic enemy. As with the nuclear scientist half a century ago, Mr Navalny’s treatment by the Russian government has only elevated his status as a symbol of repression.

The cruel suppression of Sakharov came to symbolise the moral bankruptcy of the Soviet system and helped galvanise western, especially European, opinion against it. It would be naive to think Mr Navalny’s treatment will have a similar effect. The cold war is long over and most western capitals have other interests beyond countering Russian aggression.

But just as the KGB fretted about Sakharov’s impact, so Russian president Vladimir Putin fears that Mr Navalny can mobilise opinion against his increasingly autocratic regime. Russia is due to hold parliamentary elections in September and Mr Navalny and his fellow activists have been organising surprisingly successful campaigns in local elections. They are rallying support for any candidate able to beat incumbents from Mr Putin’s ruling party, which has suffered a fall in popularity ratings to record lows in recent months.

The Kremlin’s high-visibility persecution risks turning Mr Navalny into a rallying point for domestic opposition. He must be effective if Mr Putin fears him so much. The Russian leader does not seem to care that dispensing with due process makes Mr Navalny a symbol of the abuses of an authoritarian regime. But the west must.


Ben Hall focuses his History Made To Measure on Sakharov, yet forgetting Alexander Litvinenko, and the long-ago assassination of Soviet Dissident Georgi Markov, and the Skripals are again absent. The Heroes and Villains of The New Cold War narrative are the constants of the Financial Times’ writers.


Here is Gideon Rachman making his contribution to the ‘Yellow Peril’ variant of The New Cold War, couched is a self-serving political nostalgia, in sum, more of the same History Made to Measure, the sine qua non of political fiction writers.

He watches the Kennedy 1961 Inaugural Address, focused on the American Political Present, in the waning days of Trump and Trumpism. And the looming threat of China, as America’s self-obsessions gives opportunity to its enemy. At least as Rachman presents them. Does this even make any kind of political sense? The reader need only think of the careers of James Clapper and John Brennan, and their long service to the American National Security State. The operatives of this Security Sate never sleep! Mr. Rachman relies on a serviceable rhetorical naivete, as to the how and why of American Intelligence Operations. Mr. Rachman insults his readers, with such a pastiche of dull-witted naivete, passed off as informed comment.

Headline: America’s disarray is China’s opportunity

Sub-headline: China’s economy is growing strongly while the US is mired in a political crisis

On January 20 1961, John F Kennedy, America’s youngest ever elected president, gave his inaugural address from the steps of the Capitol. Exactly 60 years later Joe Biden, America’s oldest ever president, will be sworn in at the same place — just days after it was stormed by a riotous mob.

Kennedy used the magisterial backdrop of Congress to proclaim that the “torch has passed to a new generation”. Mr Biden is the representative of an older generation — one that now fears the torch of liberty is in danger of being extinguished, even in the US itself.

Watching Kennedy’s address again, it is striking how much of it was addressed not to the American people, but to the leaders of the Soviet Union. JFK was speaking at the height of the cold war. Much of the American elite now believes that the US is on the brink of a second cold war — this time with China. But, unlike Kennedy, Mr Biden cannot promise to “pay any price, bear any burden” to ensure the “survival and success of liberty” around the world.

Mr. Rachman’s political/historic despair, flirting with nihilism, doesn’t quite match the Manchurian Candidate variant of 1962?

America’s disarray is China’s opportunity. As part of a planned pushback against China, Mr Biden had planned to call a summit of the world’s democracies. But, after an attempted coup d’état by a sitting president, America may lack the credibility to act as convener of the free world. Mr Biden’s democracy summit is likely to be quietly shelved in favour of a D10 meeting of 10 democracies, brought together by the UK.

A large part of America’s emerging struggle with China will be a battle for economic influence around the world. When 2019 ended, 128 of 190 countries in the world already traded more with China than with the US. China’s centrality to the global trading system will increase this year — with the World Bank projecting the Chinese economy to grow at around 8 per cent compared to 3.5 per cent for the US.

The Americans are also in a struggle with China to shape the technical standards and regulations that govern the world economy. The US needs new tools that go beyond the coercive power of sanctions.



As presented by the Financial Times’ writers ‘we’ face the implacable enemies: Putin and China! Mr. Rachman expresses a deep pessimism:

America’s disarray is China’s opportunity. As part of a planned pushback against China, Mr Biden had planned to call a summit of the world’s democracies. But, after an attempted coup d’état by a sitting president, America may lack the credibility to act as convener of the free world. Mr Biden’s democracy summit is likely to be quietly shelved in favour of a D10 meeting of 10 democracies, brought together by the UK.

American Skeptic

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Niall Ferguson, on the events of January 6, 2021. Publius comments.

Niall Ferguson in his search for historical analogies to the events of January 6, 2021, and the political phenomenon of Trump and Trumpism leads to – his rambling essay is chock-a-block with these examples: Plague and political irrationalism are twin political phenomenon

“History of the Peloponnesian War,” by Thucydides and the plague of 430 and 426 & the Oligarchy in 411

The Black Death in 1340 , Cross-Bearers, Flagellant Brethren or Brethren of the Cross,

The Spanish Influenza of 1918-1919, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and his fellow Bolsheviks, (with walk-on by Winston Churchill and Herbert Hoover) explicitly referred to the “plague of Bolshevism.”

The plague metaphor still remains but ‘evolves’ into the biological .

Adolf Hitler — used similar biological metaphors (“racial tuberculosis”) 

Hitler had “saved all Europe from the red plague of Bolshevism,” in the words of the German-American poet George Sylvester Viereck.

This search for analogies is interrupted by three paragraphs of his own observations on the events of January 6, 2021. To speak bluntly, nothing like what might be considered insightful. Ferguson returns to the subject of historical analogies:

 Cromwell’s dissolution of England’s Long Parliament in 1653?

The dissolution of the French National Assembly by Louis Napoleon Bonaparte in 1851? 

How about Mussolini’s March on Rome in 1922?

Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch of 1923

My Bloomberg Opinion colleague Noah Smith draws a parallel with Japan in the 1930s,

Something similar goes for the Tejerazo, the storming of the Spanish parliament by 200 Civil Guard officers led by Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero in 1981.

Mr. Ferguson appears to have found his rhetorical footing?

There is another reason none of these analogies works: They all omit the peculiar conditions created by a pandemic. It is not coincidental that the nadir of modern American politics was plumbed last week just as the third wave of Covid-19 seemed to near its crest. 

A quotation that hints that Ferguson has given up his search for that ‘perfect historical analogy’? Or a rhetorical feint?

Pandemics, remember, are associated with religious and political extremism. The fear of illness, mutual suspicion, quack theories, hypochondria, hyper-skepticism and general mental dislocation caused by social distancing, lockdowns and unemployment — taken together, these things tend to generate outlandish behavior.

Ferguson is a pedagogue, by nature, so he instructs his readers, constitutive of ‘students’ , who must be shaped, molded by his superior grasp of History. That ‘History’ of the Peloponnesian War, The Black Death, the Spanish Influenza are the most instructive, and in terms of propaganda, more serviceable to his History Made To Measure. Yet there are 979 words left of his polemic, in which he explores, the ‘Left-Wing Mob’s‘ destructive record. While ignoring, that the modes of The American National Security State, in its Wars of Empire, has infected American Police with its toxic Colonial Mentality. That Ferguson is a Neo-Conservative, or at the least a fellow traveler, this stance is not a surprise.

To the historian, it was not altogether surprising back in the summer to see hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of mostly white protesters take to the streets in processions of expiation for the sin of racism. The left-wing violence that turned parts of Portland, Seattle and Kenosha, Wisconsin, into no-go zones was more destructive than the right-wing invasion of the Capitol, even if the latter’s political significance was greater. 

Look, if you want evidence of pandemic madness, at the people who ran amok among the legislature last week. The idea that this was a false-flag operation by far-left Antifa in disguise is obviously absurd. Although the mob seems to have included a few retired military members or off-duty police who had the training and the tools for a serious terrorist attack, this was mostly the lunatic fringe of the American far right in an unholy alliance with the QAnon conspiracy cult

Mr. Ferguson can’t let go his pedagogic self, and the thickets that constitute the remainder of his polemic, still awash in those ubiquitous analogies. He tries the patience of this reader, he misses the imperative of propaganda, the exercise of succinctness is its sine qua non. The last two paragraphs of his essay are instructive about Ferguson’s one imperative, the care and maintenance, of a carefully cultivated bourgeoise political respectability.

This, at least, is my earnest hope: That, having once been infected by the virus of antidemocratic politics, Americans have now acquired some resistance to it. The optimistic view of the pandemic is that natural infection plus mass vaccination will get the U.S. to herd immunity by around May. The optimistic view of politics is that we can achieve herd immunity against Trumpism in a roughly similar timeframe. 

Shorn of power, assailed by litigation, his finances tottering and his access to social media abruptly curtailed, Trump may fade as quickly as a virus with a reproduction number below 1 — to become no more than a seasonal malady, threatening only to those with the intellectual equivalent of comorbidities. The lesson of history is that pandemics eventually end — and so do political manias of the sort that briefly seized the Capitol last week. 



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Michael Moritz battles extremism in the pages of The Financial Times. Political Reporter comments.

Why it unsurprising to read a Capitalist warning, in this newspaper, about the danger of the Right and Left Extremes, as the threats to the business of profit taking! The fact of the Shoah frames this polemic, it is meant to evoke fear and revulsion, that features, at the least, one faction of those extreme political actors. The reader should consult Victor Klemperer’s ‘I Will Bear Witness‘ volumes I & II , he remained in the Eastern Sector of Germany, after the War.

In American the ‘Political Center’ is now defined as the Alliance of New Democrats, in sum Neo-Liberals, Neo-Conservative, and the now disappeared Lincoln Project. That toxic alliance evolved and produced the 2008 Depression, via the Free Market delusion: the wholesale destruction of the Welfare State and the rise of Robber Capital – all this is ignored in Mr. Moretz’s Morality Play. The watershed of 2008 was Occupy Wall Street, decimated by Oligarch Michael Bloomberg and President Obama, yet Piketty appeared as the vindication of that band of dissenters, in the heart of Wall Street Temples!

What did Obama offer to that 2008 Depression? ‘Let’s put it behind us’ and Simpson/Bowles, the apotheosis of an utterly failed Austerity. Is this what Mr. Moritz might opine as the sine qua non of his garlanded ‘Centrism’ ?

So, now, it’s up to all of us in the world of business to play our part and make sure the extremism of both left and right in America is seen for what it is: a menace to our future together. We are all culpable.

Some of us were ineffective with our warnings. Some provided support to forces of darkness. But all of us are guilty of not listening closely enough to the arguments of our opponents.

Mr. Moritz then self-reports:

Almost five years ago, I tried, in vain, to highlight for the business community Mr Trump’s past as a conman, bully, racist, failed entrepreneur and authoritarian. I also wrote about the differences between him and the people who start Silicon Valley companies, noting: “They are not nationalists who stir up dark memories of purges, pogroms, the 1930s, Latin-American strongmen or central African dictators.”

Those ‘Silicone Valley Companies’ : Google, Twitter, Facebook now determine who can use, and speak on their apps, as if the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are/were null and void. This does not register with Mr. Moritz. His penultimate paragraph is an instruction as to when ‘self-interest’ must yield to a moral imperative, which is hard to argue against. Except to the diehard followers of Mises, Hayek and Friedman, in which ‘The Market’ is the sine qua non of Human Knowledge.

The past four years have demonstrated there are times when it is best to set self-interest aside. Given the choice between appealing polices and a dark character, and objectionable policies and a respectable character, it is always safer to pick the latter. 


Political Reporter

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@jonathanchait Charter School Shill.

Charters have increased the number of ‘extra days’ of instruction. That is all. The ‘values’ of ‘The Market’ has no place in Education ! This Charter School movement, has been corrupt from the beginning. 3 Billion lost to fraud. Charters are about destroying very powerful Teachers Unions. Charters are the product of the mendacious Neo-Liberals, and Mr. Chait is their advocate/apologist!

‘The increasing focus on charters’ financial effects inevitably leads to the question of their academic effects. But, much the same as charter schools throughout the country, California’s sector has yielded mixed results.

“The charter sector in California looks like a microcosm of the charter sector nationally,” said Martin West, an education professor at Harvard. “That’s not too surprising, since California charter schools make up a non-trivial segment of the national charter data.”

Indeed, a comprehensive 2014 study from Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) found that students who attended California charters performed a bit better in reading, and a bit worse in math, than their peers attending traditional public schools. That nuanced picture dovetails with charter performance nationally, which is roughly as good, on average, as the public schools run by local school districts.

But tucked beneath the topline results, the data show that charters perform better for the state’s least advantaged citizens. Specifically, CREDO found that poor black students at charters gained an average of 36 extra days of learning in literacy, and 43 extra days of learning in math, than those in traditional public schools; poor Latino students gained 22 extra days of literacy and 29 extra days of math. In general, charter schools in urban areas, where many of those students are clustered, were measured as much stronger than those in suburban and rural areas.’



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American Political Hysteria, post January 6,2021: Bret Stephens, Andrew Sullivan, Rod Dreher. Political Cynic comments

Bret Stephens January 6, 2021  

These paragraphs of Mr. Stephens’ essay of January 6, 2021 exemplify his Anti-Trump polemic. Neo-Conservatism shares an equal toxic politics, but achieved by a stealth attack on American Institutions , by political actors, that cultivate a scrupulous, if utterly mendacious adherence, to the ‘norms‘ of bourgeoise political respectability.  The reader need only look the Fukuyama’s The Decay of American Political Institutions .

Headline: Impeach and Convict. Right Now. 

Sub-headline: Trump is too dangerous to leave in office for even another minute. 

It wasn’t hard to see, when it began, that it would end exactly the way it has. Donald Trump is America’s willful arsonist, the man who lit the match under the fabric of our constitutional republic. 

The duty of the House of Representatives and the Senate is to reconvene immediately to impeach the president and then remove him from office and bar him from ever holding office again. 

To allow Trump to serve out his term, however brief it may be, puts the nation’s safety at risk, leaves our reputation as a democracy in tatters and evades the inescapable truth that the assault on Congress was an act of violent sedition aided and abetted by a lawless, immoral and terrifying president. 

From the moment Trump became the G.O.P. front-runner in 2015, it was obvious who he was and where, if given the chance, he would take America. He was a malignant narcissist in his person. A fraudster in his businesses. A bully in his relationships. And a demagogue in his politics. 

He did not have ideas. He had bigotries. He did not have a coalition. He had crowds. He did not have character. He had a quality of confident shamelessness, the kind that offered his followers permission to be shameless, too. 

Mr. Stephens’ essay begins with the self-serving assumption that Trump appeared out the unknown depths of American political irrationalism. Instead of being the monster, that forty years of the ascent and victory, of the Neo-Liberal Swindle, and its toxic effects on the Middle and Working Classes. Mr. Stephens being one of peddlers of that political/economic snake oil.Reading all of Mr. Stephens’ essay, or more appropriately a riff on The Bill of Attainder, as he adds to his cast of mendacious actors, and the politically virtuous, that veers into Political Melodrama. Tinged with echoes of Saints and Sinners: Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards, the precursors of American Moralizing. With the bit between his teeth, Stephens is at full gallop! 

Andrew Sullivan January 8, 2021 

Headline: This Is The Face Of The GOP Now 

Sub-headline: The descent from conservatism to nihilism is now complete. 

For anyone with eyes not blinded by tribalism or ears deafened by denial, what happened in Washington this week was always going to happen.  

Trump’s character and profound psychological deformation always, always meant he would not relinquish power without an almighty struggle. We elected an instinctual tyrant, preternaturally incapable of understanding the give and take of democratic politics, for whom losing in any contest threatens the core of his very being, and who has no effective control over the roiling emotions that course through his thickened arteries. 

Some of us were ridiculed for saying from the very beginning that there would have to be some kind of violence to remove him, if he were to lose the next election. We still are. We’re called victims of TDS, or Trump Derangement Syndrome, as if this were not the only sane position when a delusional, malignant, tyrant-wannabe has an entire political party in his grip, aided and abetted by tribal media tools. For myself, from the very beginning, having examined Trump’s past and observed his plain-as-day pathology, I just couldn’t envision how this figure could psychologically, voluntarily ever leave the Oval Office. Every single day of his presidency has confirmed this. He has blown through every guardrail against presidential abuse that exists. 

Trump is now and always has been delusional. He lives in an imaginary world. His insistence that he won the last election in a “landslide” is psychologically indistinguishable from his declaration on his first day that his Inaugural crowd was larger than his predecessor’s. For four years, the actual evidence did not matter. It still doesn’t. Any rumor that helps him, however ludicrous, is true; every cold fact that hurts him, however trivial or banal, doesn’t exist. For four years as president, any advisor who told him the truth, rather than perpetuating his delusions, had an immediate expiration date. For four years, an army of volunteer propagandists knowingly disseminated his insane, cascading torrent of lies. 



Unlike Mr. Stephens, Mr. Sullivan is at immediate full gallop,  as if the reader were a rider on a runaway horse, such is Sullivan’s polemical screech, at full celerity. Note that further on in his essay, he presents himself as the victim of doubters, it is, and has been a nearly formulaic rhetorical stance!  

The reader is presented with a mere 1830 words, for the subscriber to his blog. The succinct is utterly foreign territory to this writer.  I’ll just quote his two concluding paragraphs stepped, if not marinated in the moralizing rhetoric of Johnathan Edwards, as it has evolved in American political/religious discourse, carefully manicured for the political present. 

I can’t see this happening without a split, or an open internecine struggle. If the result is a deeper commitment to an ideology of stab-in-the-back neo-fascism inspired by a seditionist president-in-exile, then the GOP needs to be burned to the ground. But if someone can emerge who can marshal the ideas that helped the GOP make gains in the House last year, and excommunicate the seditionists and bigots and fanatics, then we have something to build on.

Joe Biden has a massive task ahead of him, but this week may help him find common ground with those Republican Senators who have begun to understand that the forces they have unleashed and enabled are deeply dangerous to the entire project of self-government in America. Since his election victory, Biden has struck the right note every time the country has needed him to. Steer us back toward a sane center, Mr President-elect. Save the soul of this teetering, torn remnant of a republic, before we lose it for good.

Rod Dreher January 8, 2021

Headline: The Left’s Reichstag Fire

In 1933, shortly after Adolf Hitler took power, a Dutch communist allegedly started a fire in the German Reichstag building. Hitler used this act as a pretext to begin seizing dictatorial powers. The term “Reichstag fire” in popular culture refers to an event, possibly a false flag (historians can’t agree on whether or not the Reichstag fire was started by a lone communist, a communist acting with others, or was a false flag by the Nazis) that serves as a pretext for repression.

If you are only just now coming to this blog via social media, you should know that I have been a sharp critic of the Stop The Steal movement from the beginning — you can look it up on this site — and that I am disgusted and appalled by what happened on Capitol Hill yesterday. Yesterday, I predicted that the Left and the liberal Establishment would use the failed Beer Belly Putsch as an opportunity to begin to implement the rudiments of a social credit system, and to otherwise marginalize and suppress right-of-center discourse and people.

The Left’s Reichstag Fire

Mr. Dreher resorts to the Reichstag Fire, Oliver D’Arcy, BLM, Glenn Greenwald and other cast members, that swells into an even longer essay, than Sullivan’s with ‘updates’ that exhausts the hyperbolic, and the readers patience !

Political Cynic

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Edward Luce ‘experiences’ the American Nightmare! Political Skeptic comments.

On January 03, 2021 Mr. Luce issued a stern warning about the Fed, and its toxic effects, the exacerbation ‘inequality’, a la Piketty?


Late yesterday Mr. Luce faced the grim reality of that ‘inequality’ , and its toxic effects, on large segment of an American population? Anarchy abetted by the D.C. Police, as the video on Social Media makes abundantly clear. Where were the Armed Troops of the BLM demonstrations in D.C. ? Even Mr. Luce manages to make that same inquiry.

Mr. Luce’s scolding of these ‘deplorables’, and its leader Trump, in which he conveniently elides the transgenerational effects of the Neo-Liberalism, he and his newspaper have championed, since the rise of Thatcher/Reagan. The rhetorical strategy that Luce adopts is to focus on the ‘Evils of Trump’ as the root cause, attempting to confront the effects of a more than forty year attachment, to the Hayek/Mises/Friedman amalgam of Neo-Liberalism, is simply an impossible thought, to even entertain. The immerseration of both the Working Class and the Middle Class is the result of this forty year Social/Political Engineering. The ‘as if ‘: Trump just appeared out of the American Political Swamp sui generis , instead being a product of this economic/political collapse.

The Whole of America’s Political Class birthed Trump, with the help of political scribblers like Mr. Luce and his newspaper.

The patient reader, will confront, at the end of Mr. Luce’s essay, Mitt Romney, Mr. 47% , as the paradigmatic Political Hero, made by Mattel.

As senators were being hurried to safety by Capitol Hill police, Mitt Romney, the Utah senator, who has been a rare Republican voice warning of Mr Trump’s authoritarianism, yelled to GOP colleagues: “This is what you’ve gotten.” He was right.

Agree with him or not, Mr Romney speaks for the party that used to care about the US constitution, law and order, America’s standing in the world, and civility in politics. Those who have thrown their lot in with Mr Trump are now tied to his mob. They may not have expected events to turn quite so dark. But that was the gamble they took. As John F Kennedy said in his own inaugural address: “Those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.”


Political Skeptic

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Janan Ganesh on what Joe Biden will discover. Political Reporter comments.

How can the reader resist Mr. Ganesh’s adoration of the literary capon, and American Dandy, as conceived by Walt Disney, Tom Wolfe? I received a copy of ‘A Man in Full’ from a friend, who missed sending in her reply card to The Book of the Month Club. This book had the page count and heft of my copy of ‘War and Peace’ .
It was a better sleep inducer than Lunesta or Kubrick’s ‘2001’! Yet Mr. Ganesh thinks it a document about Mr. Wolfe’s prescience, his narration of Wolfe as seer, or perhaps Prophet?

A Man in Full considered the city, and the state that it anchors, as America’s potential future. Some 23 years on, Georgia continues to grow in population as several other states shrink. Once uncompetitively Republican, it is now the nation’s political schism in miniature.

Nowhere was closer-fought in the US presidential election two months ago. If the Democrats take both of its Senate seats on Tuesday, to go with Joe Biden’s win there, imagine the symbolism. Here is a party going with the grain of the nation’s evolution.

This ‘evolution’ is in fact a question of demographics, not of an imagined or fictional state of ‘going with the grain’ . One of the facts of American life is that regions of the country experience the boom and bust of growth and decline, that are dependent on economic factors: Manufacturing was once ascendant, now its is Silicone Valley, Georgia has become the home of Movie Studios :


This provides mere backdrop to Mr. Ganesh political insight on a ‘divided politics‘. The ‘as if’ here, is that it were not the case in an inconvenient ‘past’, as viewed in the political present!

But not, it is worth saying, a party with a suddenly free hand. A split Senate, with the vice-president casting decisive votes, does not assure Mr Biden a radical presidency. His chances of that waned when the “blue wave” of Congressional gains failed to materialise in November. His subsequent nominations to the executive — their mildness, their familiarity — admit as much. His flirtations with the left are just a few months old but feel a century ago. 

The usual Ganesh ‘maps of misreading’s’ topped with the political fiction of Biden’s ‘flirtations with the left’. As yet the ‘Progressive Wing of the Party’ is not represented in any of the Biden choices!

I was wrong about the ‘flirtations with the left’ ? but note this is contingent on whether the Democrats win in Georgia!

Headline: Joe Biden Was Against $2,000 Checks. After Enormous Pressure, He’s Reluctantly Changing His Tune.

Sub-headline: Joe Biden is no friend to progressive politics of any kind. But after constant pressure, the president-elect has changed his stance on $2,000 survival checks if Georgia Democrats win.

After weeks of progressive pressure, President-elect Joe Biden on Monday promised to immediately deliver $2,000 survival checks to millions of Americans if Georgia Democratic senate candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff win their races this week. The comments come a month after Biden reportedly told congressional Democrats to accept stimulus legislation that included no checks.

“One state can chart the course — not just for the next four years, but for the next generation,” Biden said in a speech in Atlanta on Monday night. “By electing Jon and the Reverend you can make an immediate difference in your own lives, the lives of people all across this country because their election will put an end to the block in Washington on that $2,000 stimulus check, that money that will go out the door immediately to people who are in real trouble.”

Biden’s shift comes only a month after he helped convince congressional Democrats to support stimulus legislation that did not include the checks, according to the New York Times. At the time, Biden suggested he did not oppose checks, but he pushed Democrats to accept a deal without them, raising concerns that he may revert to his past support for budget austerity.


What follows in the next 642 words is nothing akin to Mr. Ganesh’s literary hero Mr. Wolfe- no Pop Fizz! The recitation of political possibilities, impediments to action, time, and the persons, and political factions that might impede the Biden Politics of Redemption, rather than Mr. Ganesh’s ‘Mr. Biden a radical presidency’, in the wake of the overheated actions and rhetoric of the 2020 election campaigns. The reader can’t deny Mr. Ganesh talent as an evocative stylist, but note the final two paragraphs of his essay are striking both in argument and style. Perhaps he is riffing on the good grey Walter Lippmann?

America’s bifurcation, once it feeds into legislative numbers and conduct, puts paid to grand schemes. Voters in the middle find themselves in the oddest of predicaments: scandalised by the viciousness of politics and yet served by its results.

“Moderate”, to be clear, is not a synonym for “good”. This time last year, immoderate measures against the coronavirus pandemic would have saved lives. Splitting the difference on Mr Trump’s attempt to stay in office would be a nonsense. Equidistance from opposing arguments is no guarantor of sound policy. It is with surprise, then, not elation, that we should record this oddity of modern politics. Our era is one of extreme sentiments and loyalties. It is not always one of extreme outcomes.


Political Reporter

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Edward Luce on the danger of the Fed, Jan 03, 2021. Almost Marx comments (Revised January 4, 2021)

‘Its the Fed stupid’ complete with a ‘Formula’, a la Piketty? Mr. Luce lives in the Financial Times bubble, in which the earthquake and devastation of the Crash of 2008 didn’t even register. His appointed task, being one of the barkers selling the ‘snake oil’ of Neo-Liberalism. 

The History that Mr. Luce attempts to white wash the rise of Thatcher/Reagan and their successors New Labour and New Democrats: the harbingers of a disaster that continues in waves of political/cultural despair that produced the Populists, that is at the root of Mr. Luce’s exercise in self-serving misdirection. The reader will recall that the Randian Fundamentalist Greenspan ran the Fed, wreathed in laurel.

So Mr. Luce pointing to the Fed as the culprit is misdirection employed by the salesmen whose ‘product’ turned to shit! 


Almost Marx


(Added January 4, 2021)

Mr. Luce’s sudden concern for ‘wealth inequality’ is here linked to threat to ‘American political stability’ : more of the shadow of Piketty ?

The response to critics is the same today as it was after the 2008 crisis: that the Fed is doing whatever it takes to prevent a depression. But the risk is that each new chapter tightens a doom loop in which the US sovereign must eventually reckon with the ever-widening class of risk it is underwriting. America’s national debt is already past 100 per cent of gross domestic product for the first time since the second world war. It nearly doubled after 2008 and is rising sharply again. As Japan has shown, high indebtedness need not trigger a crisis. Its national debt is well over 200 per cent cent of GDP. But as the issuer of the world’s reserve currency, the US must guard its role carefully.

The most visible threat, however, is to US political stability. The Fed’s quantitative easing boosts wealth inequality by increasing the net worth of those who own financial assets, chiefly of stocks and bonds. The top 10 per cent of Americans own 84 per cent of the country’s shares. The top 1 per cent own about half. The bottom half of Americans — the ones who have chiefly been on the frontline during the pandemic — say they own almost no stocks at all.

The final two paragraphs, completed, by his numerical rhetoric of a ‘Formula’, that equals ‘Populism‘, is representative of a particular kind of maladroit reductivism. Yet within his essay, it reads as a kind of desperation to demonstrate his expertise. It is comic, at best!

Here are the potential seeds of America’s next populist crisis. The Fed is pledging to do what it takes, while America’s elected officials seem unlikely to agree on fiscal policy. The right emphasis, as Mr Powell keeps reminding Congress, would be the other way round. Monetary policy is a blunt tool. Spending by contrast can be targeted at those who need it and help lift America’s growth potential.

Alas, the chances are that the Fed will remain “the only game in town”. This would be both a missed opportunity and pose a severe danger. The opportunity is for the US government to borrow long term funds at near zero rates and invest it in productive capacity. The danger of not doing that can be expressed in a simple equation: QE — F = P. Quantitative easing minus fiscal action equals populism.


Almost Marx


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