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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@NYT: Nothing quite compares to @nytdavidbrooks, as a Modern Day Babbitt. While Bloomberg reports on one more Bank Failure

Old Socialist comments.

Headline: The Power of American Capitalism

The window dressing of this essay/propaganda is of interest

Pay attention to the Framing. Mr. Brooks shamelessly appropriates Mark Twain.

The mighty Mississippi rolls on.

The mighty rolling river sweeps up new generations.The mighty rolling river sweeps up new generations.

But American capitalism rolls on.

Here is a sample of the Brooks’ argument:

The mighty Mississippi rolls on. If you don’t live near it, you might never think of that wide, powerful river. You may associate it with old Mark Twain stories. But every day, 24/7, it rolls on.

American capitalism is kind of like that. You can invent fables about how America is in economic decline. You can rail against “neoliberalism.” But the American economy doesn’t care. It just keeps rolling on.

The Economist magazine published a report on American economic performance over the last three decades. Using an avalanche of evidence and data, the main thrust of the article is that far from declining, American capitalism is dominant and accelerating.

Back in 1990, for example, America’s gross domestic product per capita was nearly neck and neck with that of Europe and Japan. But by 2022 the U.S. had raced ahead

Brooks is a modern day Babbitt. Should The Reader even be surprised? at who the villain is, in this would be polemic?

In 2013, Thomas Piketty published a much discussed book called “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” arguing that widening inequality is an inherent feature of modern capitalism. The problem is that right around the publication of his book, inequality stopped widening, the economist Noah Smith notes, and it now appears to be slightly decreasing.

The American model of capitalism is under assault from the left, which rails against the supposed horrors of neoliberalism and globalization, and from Tucker Carlson-style populists, who often treat American capitalism as a great betrayal. But it has proved superior to all real world alternatives.

In fact, I’m kind of amazed. We’ve lived through a wretched political era. The social fabric is fraying in a thousand ways. But American capitalism rolls on.

Bloomberg offers some Sobering News:

Old Socialist

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The Freudian Apologists can’t let go of their ‘Great Man’: Adam Kirsch postulates ‘Freud as Talmudist’

Philosophical Apprentice comments.

I will begin with a link to my January 4, 2019 essay:

On ‘Becoming Freud’ : Adam Phillips as incompetent Freudian Apologist/Propagandist. A comment by Philosophical Apprentice

I am reading ‘Becoming Freud’ and read this paragraph with amazement :

Freud always presented Psychoanalysis as a Science, not a tool for Jewish Emancipation, from European oppression in all its iterations, but as a methodology for liberation from the interaction between the Id, Ego and Super-Ego and the malign Unconscious. Freud constructs a Melodrama taking place inside the person.

How can a person raised in ‘complete ignorance of everything that concerned Judaism’, a  defender of Enlightenment rationality, the author of a ‘Science’ called Psychoanalysis be allied in the project of Jewish Emancipation as Mr. Phillips presents it?

That Phillips somehow thinks that part  of his readership might not be former analysands, and or readers/explorers of Freud and his critics strikes this reader as the myopia of the propagandist: the evidence that leads this reader to that conclusion is the Phillips engages in the denaturing of the language of Freud, his arcane jargon,  to borrow Adorno’s more that fitting description of Heidegger’s rhetorical practice,  is disappeared, in favor of a set of easily understood concepts. All of this is made more palatable by Phillips’ fluid writing style, that serves him well.

Phillips ‘biography’ is not just flawed, but is an incompetent apologetic for Freud: Phillips is not just inconsistent, but just sloppy from chapter to chapter about Freud’s childhood, his father kept all thing Jewish from his son…

Mr. Kirsch in his review of ‘Freud: The Making of an Illusion’ by Frederick Crews’ of Sept. 29, 2017, postulates that Freud ‘His claims may seem unscientific or absurd, but we still inhabit the mental universe that he created.’

The appearance of Mr. Crews’s book, which focuses on the early part of Freud’s career before he became world famous, has renewed all these charges in the press. Mr. Crews is trained as a literary critic, not a psychologist, yet in the course of a decades-long obsession with Freud, he has made himself an expert in everything related to his quarry, from the history of neurology to the side effects of cocaine. The Javert of psychoanalysis, Mr. Crews aims not just to debunk Freud, but to defame him, to banish him from serious consideration forever. The index entries under “Freud, Sigmund” give a sense of the book’s tenor: “abandoned by patients; alcohol, recourse to; bribery on behalf of; impotence of; vindictiveness of” and more. Yet Mr. Crews’s quest remains self-contradictory, for you can’t destroy a thinker’s legacy by attacking him; only oblivion can do that, and criticism is the opposite of forgetting. Reading this book, you can’t help feeling that Freud must be important indeed to inspire such anger and warrant such effort.

Mr. Crews’s full-spectrum attack has the unintended effect of undermining Mr. Crews’s valid insights into the deep flaws of Freud’s thinking. It would be enough to prove Freud was not a scientist, and that psychoanalysis is not a science—claims that are now widely accepted. But when Mr. Crews adds that he was a liar and thief, or speculates that he practiced incest with his sister and adultery with his sister-in-law, the reader starts to lose faith in his impartiality.


I find the last sentence, of this part of Mr. Kirsch’s essay, highly implausible, at the very least. Mr. Cruz is too careful a writer/thinker to be careless about facts, and the avoidance of hyperbole, as a toxin that renders argument null. The Reader can explore the ‘Cruz Argumentative Methodology’ by reading this, posted by By John Horgan on June 12, 2019 in the Scientific American:

Headline: Why Freud Should Be Dead

Sub-headline: Freud’s most implacable modern critic recounts the flaws of psychoanalysis and its founder and deplores their persistent influence


And this exchange of letters in The New York Review of Books of April 21, 1994 issue:

Where else might The Reader look, for the use of the Talmud, as an intellectual prop for a polarizing thinker//writer ?

Headline: Leo Strauss and Modern Judaism

So, then, why have I been asked? As has been mentioned, I dedicated my last book1 to the memory of Leo Strauss. But why did I do that? One does not do such a thing lightly. I think if one dedicates a book at all, there should be some thought behind it. I could quote Allan Bloom, who has written, “[T]hose who have lived with his books over a period of many years have been changed, as were Glaucon and Adeimantus, by the night they spent with Socrates.” I take it this is not a controversial statement. In my case this has been true, though not with his books but with certain crucial encounters. I would not be immodest enough to mention my own affairs were it not for the fact that I think that Judaism-or at least Jewish faith and destiny in our time-has been at stake in these encounters.


Winter 1985

Thank you to the patient Reader!

Philosophical Apprentice

Added April 30, 2023 :

In my haste I had forgotten Thomas Szasz invaluable book, that makes available Karl Kraus’s comments on Freud, Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry and provides invaluable historical context.

’Anti-Freud: Karl Kraus’s Criticism of Psychoanalysis & Psychiatry’

Thomas Szasz (Preface, translation, commentary)Karl Kraus


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@NYT: Bret Stephens reminisces about his long ago casual conversation with Rupert Murdoch…

Political Cynic wonders why and how this was published by The Paper of Record!

Note how Stephens opens his essay:

In the summer of 2011, Rupert Murdoch stopped by my small office at The Wall Street Journal, where I was a columnist and editor. He was just back from London, where he had given testimony to a parliamentary committee investigating the phone-hacking scandal by his British tabloids (and where he was attacked with a shaving-foam pie). The scandal ultimately resulted in the closure of News of the World, at one point one of the world’s biggest-selling English-language newspapers.

This was about the ‘murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’ : Mr. Stephens feigns ignorance?

I don’t remember many specifics about the conversation — Murdoch loved to talk politics and policy with his journalists, sometimes by taking us to lunch at the Lamb’s Club in Midtown Manhattan — but I do remember the gist of what he said about the fiasco: Never put anything in an email. His private takeaway, it seemed, wasn’t to require his companies to adhere to high ethical standards. It was to leave no trace that investigators might use for evidence against him, his family or his favorite lieutenants.

Here is how Reuters covered the ‘murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’

LONDON (Reuters) – Journalists from the News of the World tabloid misled police after hacking the mobile phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, action which sparked a scandal engulfing News Corp, a letter from police published on Monday said.

Surrey Police said reporters had lied to police after hacking into Dowler’s voicemail messages in 2002 and put pressure on detectives working on her case.

The paper, part of News International, the British arm of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, had demanded answers after claiming it had information Dowler had contacted a recruitment agency, the force said.

One of its reporters had claimed the tabloid had got Dowler’s mobile phone details from school children, while the letter discloses someone had called the agency pretending to be Dowler’s mother.

It later emerged a message from the agency had mistakenly been left on Dowler’s phone because they had the wrong number on their files.

The force dismissed speculation that information published by the News of the World (NOTW) had come from collusion between detectives and the paper.

“The NOTW obtained that information by accessing Milly Dowler’s phone,” Surrey’s Assistant Chief Constable Jerry Kirkby wrote in a letter to lawmakers investigating phone-hacking.

It was the revelation by the Guardian newspaper last July that the tabloid’s reporters had illegally accessed the voicemail of missing Dowler, who was later found murdered, which caused the phone-hacking to hit the headlines amid widespread public revulsion.

News Corp took the drastic step of shutting down the 168-year-old paper, pulled its plan to take full control of Britain’s highly profitable satellite broadcaster BSkyB and Murdoch also personally donated 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) to charities nominated by the Dowler family.

News International also paid the family a further 2 million pounds for behavior Murdoch described as “abhorrent.”

“The interception of Milly Dowler’s phone was shocking and totally unacceptable,” a News International spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

“The abhorrent nature of what was discovered to have happened at the News of the World ultimately led to its closure last year,” she added.

In a twist to the Dowler story last December, police said there was no evidence about a central claim in the original Guardian story that News of the World journalists had deleted voicemails, which had given her parents false hope she was still alive.

An inquiry set up by Prime Minister David Cameron into newspaper practices in the wake of the furor heard that the most likely explanation was that the voicemails had been automatically removed after a 72-hour limit.


Mr. Stephens’ long ago encounter with The Great Man, led to the preposterous title of his essay ‘The Tragedy of Fox News’ ? Mr. Stephens in not a Journalist!

Political Cynic

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@RColvile on the Dominic Raab Political Melodrama.

American Writer comments.

Being an American Hick, I can only think that Robert Colvile’s essays on British Politics, reminds me of those BBC adaptations of Anthony Trollope’s Pallisers Novels. Though I read a part of ‘Vivian Grey’, until he left England for the Continent, and his encounter with Marquess of Carabas. I later read with profit Benjamin Disraeli: The Novel as Political Discourse by Michael Flavin and The Silver Fork Novel Fashionable Fiction in the Age of Reform by Edward Copeland

Such is Mr. Colvile’s attempts at political reconstructions, he brings a novelists mentality, that makes way for even what might be considered gossip, for the politics of the British Present, for example this paragraph:

For George Osborne, it was Cornish pasties. For Dominic Raab, it is Pret A Manger. Back in 2018, the then housing minister’s diary secretary was caught advertising on a website for “sugar daddies”. But what transfixed Westminster was her revelation that her boss always ordered the same lunch: a chicken and bacon baguette, superfruit pot and vitamin volcano smoothie. More recently, it was Pret tomatoes that the justice secretary was accused of hurling in a “fit of rage”.

Mr. Colvile offers more of this political gossip, he strays into the territory of the tabloid:

Now, the man some of his colleagues duly nicknamed “The Vitamin Volcano” is out, but not without one last eruption. The deputy prime minister’s resignation letter made it clear that he was going with the most intense reluctance. It was accompanied by a lengthy column in The Daily Telegraph, in which he robustly defended his record and complained of “trial by media for six months, fuelled by warped and fabricated accounts leaked by anonymous officials”, talked about “informal tip-offs . . . that unionised officials were targeting me and other ministers” and complained of enduring a “Kafkaesque saga . . . shorn of the safeguards most people enjoy”.

The quick appearance of Rishi Sunak is introductory to public moralizing:

For many people, this will come across as intensely hypocritical. A bullying politician has been found out, and received his comeuppance. Spare the pity for the people who had to put up with him. But it’s not as simple as that — although it would be a lot easier for the government if it were.

Enter Adam Tolley KC

Reading through the report by Adam Tolley KC, it is clear that Raab is a driven and often abrasive character. Two of his permanent secretaries took him aside to ask him to treat staff better — awkwardly, he disputed both accounts, although Tolley found firmly for the officials. There were definitely people who felt emotionally bruised and battered after having to deal with him.

Mr. Colvile explores the ‘Rabb Managerial Style’ that is 763 words: a pastiche of the novelist’s of character analysis? I’ll take the liberty of quoting portions of this part of the essay:

But equally, the picture that emerges is not quite the tomato-throwing tyrant of the media allegations.

When Raab expressed his frustration, it seems to have been over bad work rather than bad people. Some people found being upbraided “humiliating and upsetting”.

But Tolley finds against the original collective complaint from within the Ministry of Justice that Raab had created a “perverse culture of fear” (though he praises the complainants for having the courage to come forward).

When Raab expressed his frustration, it seems to have been over bad work rather than bad people.

At the heart of this, in other words, is a gap between what was meant and what was felt. Raab saw himself as enforcing high standards, in pursuit of urgent national priorities — for example, in negotiating the fate of Gibraltar post-Brexit, or trying to push through the Ministry of Justice’s “cultural resistance”.

Some will feel that politicians should be held to a higher standard; others that the threshold for dismissing the deputy prime minister should be more categorical, or that there should be a halfway house between innocence and dismissal, as there would be in any other workplace.

 But as mentioned above, he is not going quietly. Raab and those around him insist that the complaints were part of a co-ordinated campaign, spearheaded by a few determined people rather than representing the collective verdict of the department.

 There is already a conviction in the Tory party that the state is not working as it should. Some whisper darkly of a Remain-voting “blob” determined to frustrate their efforts.

The final paragraphs of Mr. Colvile’s essay, as a would be ‘political novelist’ of the present, looks like what he is, in actuality, a Tory Loyalist Technocratic, in its British Newspaper.

Of course, there are many ministers, including Dominic Raab, who praise the calibre and dedication of officials they work with. But it is hard to avoid the sense that something within the relationship has curdled.

The other week, a new group called the Effective Governance Forum published a report on Whitehall. Among its criticisms was that ministers control vast organisations with little management experience at sufficient scale, in uneasy coalition with the permanent secretary who actually runs the department. The Raab controversy is likely to make those relationships just that little bit harder to manage — and the government’s priorities that bit harder to deliver. 


American Writer

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@NYT: Neo-Con Bret Stephens attacks ‘the progressive left’…

Old Socialist comments.

Neo-Con Bret Stephens attacks ‘the progressive left’ that all purpose epithet, as a place holder for actual thought. The use of the ‘lower case’ is an act of political diminution, in sum shaming!

Headline: Undeterred Criminals Plus Demoralized Cops Equals More Crime

Mr. Stephens provides two narratives of the Adam Toledo shooting:

Version One:

Two years ago, a white Chicago police officer named Eric Stillman fatally shot Adam Toledo, an unarmed 13-year-old Mexican American with no criminal record, while the boy was complying with the officer’s orders following a late-night foot chase. The killing brought greater awareness to police brutality in Latino communities, yet no charges were filed against Stillman. Since then, Chicago has been able to turn a corner on violent crime, thanks partly to investments in after-school youth programs. Murders are down by 20 percent from two years ago.

Version Two:

Another version goes like this. On March 29, 2021, at 2:36 a.m., Stillman and his partner responded to a call that shots were being fired. Stillman pushed Ruben Roman, a 21-year-old with a criminal record, to the ground and chased Toledo, who was holding a 9-millimeter handgun, down a dark alley. Stillman yelled “drop it.” Toledo tossed the gun behind a fence and turned toward him. The officer fired the fatal shot less than a second after Toledo got rid of the gun. Stillman then immediately jumped to Toledo’s aid and called for an ambulance.

Does this interjection between the versions offered by Mr. Stephens surprise the reader?

That’s one version of events, the version favored by the progressive left.

The essay then becomes statistical :

Homicides are, in fact, down in Chicago, but they remain at some of the highest rates since the 1990s, and overall crime spiked by 41 percent between 2021 and 2022. Last weekend alone, mass hooliganism overwhelmed Chicago’s downtown while 11 people were killed and 26 wounded in shootings across the city.

Mr. Stephens resorts to Political Melodrama:

Maybe there’s a lesson in this, simple and old-fashioned as it may seem. When bad guys walk free and brave cops have to fear for their jobs for doing their jobs, crime tends to go up. And when the national conversation about the Adam Toledo tragedy revolves around the officer’s split-second, life-or-death decision instead of the question “What is a 13-year-old child doing with a 21-year-old criminal firing a gun at 2:30 a.m.?” then we are deeply confused about the nature of our problems, to say nothing of the way to a solution.

A sample of sentences, paragraphs that follows the above, indicate that The Reader is confronting propaganda:

A similar dynamic is playing out in other big cities, too. Police morale is abysmal. One way in which this fact registers is in high levels of voluntary resignations and early retirements, leading to critical staffing shortages.

New Orleans isn’t alone. A recent academic analysis found that 11 out of the 14 cities it studied suffered from higher-than-expected losses to their police after the George Floyd protests of 2020, with Seattle losing the highest proportion of its force.

Then there’s the other side: The growing sense of impunity among the criminally inclined.

In Chicago, the proportion of crimes reported that resulted in arrest, which stood at nearly 31 percent in 2005, fell to 12.3 percent in 2021, according to an analysis last year by The Chicago Sun-Times.

In New York, where major crimes rose by 22 percent last year, complaints of shoplifting have nearly doubled over the past five years — while the arrest rate since 2017 fell by almost half.

In other words, lax enforcement when it comes to petty criminality has led to big-time criminality. And the consequence of supposedly “victimless” crimes like shoplifting has created a palpable sense of disorder, menace and fear — each conducive to the anything-goes atmosphere in which crime invariably flourishes.

Will things get better? Eventually, yes, when a critical mass of voters recovers the simple combination of common sense and political will. But whether it occurs sooner or later is a difference that will be measured in thousands of lives, harmed or ended by the crime we collectively let happen.

We have heard voices like Mr. Stephens before, Joe Biden:

Hillary Clinton:

1996: Hillary Clinton on “superpredators” (C-SPAN)

Old Socialist


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@CoreyRobin opines on Clarence Thomas: ‘It’s about his jurisprudence.’

Political Observer comments.

As well argued as it is, Mr. Robin essay fails to look at the fact that, if I have the cash, to make a donation to the Supreme Court ‘charity’, I can purchase an audience with a Supreme Court Judge. What might that mean? Corruption is a fact of the life of the Supreme Court?

What might Minding the Law by Anthony G. Amsterdam and Jerome Bruner offer? a pathbreaking approach to Jurisprudential Interpretation ?

In this remarkable collaboration, one of the nation’s leading civil rights lawyers joins forces with one of the world’s foremost cultural psychologists to put American constitutional law into an American cultural context. By close readings of key Supreme Court opinions, they show how storytelling tactics and deeply rooted mythic structures shape the Court’s decisions about race, family law, and the death penalty.

Minding the Law explores crucial psychological processes involved in the work of lawyers and judges: deciding whether particular cases fit within a legal rule (“categorizing”), telling stories to justify one’s claims or undercut those of an adversary (“narrative”), and tailoring one’s language to be persuasive without appearing partisan (“rhetorics”). Because these processes are not unique to the law, courts’ decisions cannot rest solely upon legal logic but must also depend vitally upon the underlying culture’s storehouse of familiar tales of heroes and villains.

But a culture’s stock of stories is not changeless. Anthony G. Amsterdam and Jerome Bruner argue that culture itself is a dialectic constantly in progress, a conflict between the established canon and newly imagined “possible worlds.” They illustrate the swings of this dialectic by a masterly analysis of the Supreme Court’s race-discrimination decisions during the past century.

A passionate plea for heightened consciousness about the way law is practiced and made, Minding the Law will be welcomed by a new generation concerned with renewing law’s commitment to a humane justice.


My copy is dated 2000. A review in the Los Angeles Times of Sunday ,December 17, 2000, by Edward Lazarus, titled ‘Sorting It Out’ still acts as my book mark.

Mr. Robin offers – its almost Marxian, of a sort ?

Perhaps, taking a page from Clarence Thomas, we can pursue a different path. If money is speech that secures outsized influence and access for the wealthiest citizens, maybe the problem is not the presence of money in politics but the distribution of money in the economy.

As radical as that claim may sound today, it has been the heart and soul of democratic argument since the founding of the republic. Noah Webster, of American dictionary fame, claimed in 1790 that “the basis of a democratic and a republican form of government is a fundamental law favoring an equal or rather a general distribution of property.” Without that equal distribution of wealth and power, “liberty expires.”

If money is speech, the implication for democracy is clear. There can be no democracy in the political sphere unless there is equality in the economic sphere. That is the real lesson of Clarence Thomas.



On this vexing question:

…when liberal titans William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall co-authored the Buckley decision, which held that campaign expenditures are in fact speech — progressives have sought to reverse the oligarchic turn of American society by getting money out of politics.

If a Jurist is to become a viable candidate for the Supreme Court, she/he must be Capitalist Friendly!

April 19, 2023: Some further thoughts:

Is Mr. Robin ‘playing it safe’ by not expanding his critique of Clarence Thomas’ corruption, to the rest of the Court? Bill Blum of Truth Dig offers this on John Roberts’ ‘Annual Report’:

Headline: Chief Justice Roberts’ Annual Report on the Federal Judiciary Is a Study in Hypocrisy

Sub-headline: A Supreme Court ritual ignores a crisis of legitimacy.

On Dec. 31, 2022, John Roberts, the chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, released his annual report on the state of the federal judiciary. The report is a yearly ritual in which the head of the high tribunal provides a statistical summary of the number of cases filed in the federal courts during the previous 12 months, and in which the chief typically extols the virtues of the men and women who staff the third branch of our national government. 

This year’s report, however, made no mention of the court’s current crisis of legitimacy, which was greatly aggravated by its decision last term rescinding the federal constitutional right to abortion. Nor did Roberts discuss the urgent need for the court to adopt a code of ethics to prevent the justices from engaging in rampant conflicts of interest, such as those involving Justice Clarence Thomas and his right-wing activist spouse Ginni Thomas.


Chief Justice Roberts’ Annual Report on the Federal Judiciary Is a Study in Hypocrisy

Mr. Bloom also offers this telling critique of The Supreme Court

Headline: Part II: It Will Take a Political Movement to Reform a Politicized Supreme Court

Sub-headline: It is time to revive Franklin Roosevelt’s court-expansion plan in defense of democracy and the rule of law.

The radical right’s long crusade to capture the Supreme Court is over. Anyone who doesn’t realize this hasn’t been paying attention, or has imbibed the Kool-Aid served by Chief Justice John Roberts at his 2005 Senate confirmation hearing, when he promised to work as a neutral arbiter on the bench much like a baseball umpire, calling only “balls and strike, and not to pitch or bat.”

Instead of minding the strike zone, Roberts and his Republican confederates old and new have changed the rules of the game in a concerted effort to drive the country backward. Under the aegis of the regressive legal theory of “originalism” (see Part I of this series), they have issued a blistering succession of reactionary rulings on voting rightsgerrymanderingunion organizing, the death penaltyenvironmental protectiongun controlabortioncampaign finance, and the use of dark money in politics. Before the court’s current term concludes at the end of June, it likely will wreak more havoc in a series of pending cases on “religious liberty” and LGBTQ discriminationaffirmative actionstudent-debt forgiveness, and, once again, voting rights.

The court is at war with democracy and modernity. It must be stopped.


Political Observer


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Some telling quotes from Thatcherite @RColvile on Starmer: framed by a belief in the political existence of the purged ‘Labour Left’.

Old Socialist engages in ‘waste management’.

@RColvile opens with these two paragraphs:

It is one of the most extraordinary statistics in British politics. Unless Rishi Sunak hurries to the polls, the next election will take place a full 50 years since any Labour leader not called Tony Blair beat the Tories. No wonder Sir Keir Starmer has been taking large chunks from the Blair playbook — moving to the centre, talking tough on crime, wooing business, committing to spending restraint and, above all, infuriating his party’s left wing.

Of course, there are a few differences between the two. Blair was by far the more gifted performer. His poll leads were larger. He never accused John Major of being soft on paedophiles — the charge levelled against Sunak in a bizarre attack ad the other week. It was all the odder given that Starmer, as director of public prosecutions, helped set the guidelines his party was denouncing, at a time when his rival wasn’t even an MP.

As Mrs. Thatcher remarked ‘Blair was her greatest accomplishment’

I’ll quote from Colevile’s collection of unadorned ‘Labour Left’ exhumations. This Times propagandist, hasn’t bothered with the inconvenient ‘The Labour Files’, as demonstrative of an utterly corrupt Political Class!

But there is still a shred of consolation for the Labour left — and a warning for any Tories tempted to think warmly of a restorative spell in opposition.

Now Starmer is very obviously no Jeremy Corbyn. For one thing, he is qualified to be prime minister. For another, he is not as viscerally tribal.

But Starmer is also very obviously no Blair. After the 2001 election, a veteran backbencher asked the great helmsman whether they could finally drop the New Labour stuff and do what they actually believed in.

Like Blair, Starmer is tacking to the centre on policy. Labour is busy setting out its “five missions”, which appear to involve matching some lofty goal — the highest growth rate in the G7, restoring the reputation of Britain’s police forces — to a series of worthy but inadequate policy solutions. (A task force on supply chain needs, tough penalties for fly-tippers and so on.)

But unlike Blair, there are clear limits. Many of Starmer’s policies are still to the left of anything contemplated by Blair or Gordon Brown —…

Labour is committed to continuity on tax and spend, and to accepting the Brexit verdict. But that is emphatically out of electoral necessity rather than conviction. Angela Rayner —…

You may retort that the reason Labour hasn’t accommodated itself to the Conservative record since 2010 is that it has been so much less impressive than Thatcher’s.

There is absolutely no sign, in other words, that Starmer and co have made an intellectual journey like Blair.

The fact that he has repudiated pretty much all of this out of electoral expediency — to the justifiable fury of the hard left — doesn’t change the fact that he said it. Or that he served under Corbyn, and campaigned for him to be prime minister, when more scrupulous figures stepped back.

What is Labour’s view on phonics, the curriculum, free schools? It says it wants to build, but where and how? Does it still view planning reform as a “developer’s charter”? Does it share Joe Biden’s vision of business policy as a form of woke corporatism where you lavish firms with investment incentives, but only as long as they recognise unions and commit to a host of quotas on diversity, equity and inclusion?

At the moment, Starmer is promising to govern as the technocratic scourge of the fly-tippers, his time as a Corbynite shield-bearer dismissed as the youthful folly of his, er, mid-fifties.

Starmer has been ruthless in weeding out Corbynite parliamentary candidates. But people who want to be Labour MPs still tend to be pretty left-wing.

Over the past few weeks, the polls have started to shift in Sunak’s direction. But Starmer is absolutely in pole position to become the next prime minister — especially if the SNP continues its implosion. It is time to talk less about whether he can win, and more about what he will do if he does.

Viewed in isolation these fragments of @RColvile’s essay use of catch words, phrases, as I have indicated by placing these in bold font, is pure Thatcherite political hysteria mongering. With Corbyn and his proffered fellow travelers, and even Joe Biden, as like political actors, in Colevile’s wan Political Melodrama.

Old Socialist

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@NYT & Roger Cohen, on their once Neo-Liberal Golden Boy Macron, and his Diplomatic Missteps.

Political Observer comments.

Headline: French Diplomacy Undercuts U.S. Efforts to Rein China In

Sub-headline: Allies don’t always see things the same way, as Emmanuel Macron’s cozy visit to Xi Jinping made abundantly clear.

Macron has shown something resembling political independence from the American Hegemon ? The Reader might look to the Full Scale Rebellion against Macron’s raising the Retirement Age, was it a political mistake to bypass the Senate? as part of a ‘why’ of Macron’s seeming independence, of action and words, involving China- a maladroit attempt at changing the subject ?

In a scant 1.211 words Mr. Cohen offers what will be a provisional framing, of the issue, of the subsequent and evolving Party Line, of the respectable cadre of Corporate Media Technocrats?

President Emmanuel Macron of France complimented China’s top leader on the “very fragrant tea.” President Xi Jinping recalled “taking notes in order to understand” when he visited his father, then governor of the southeastern Guangdong province, in 1978. He also observed, extolling Chinese economic development, that the province now has “four cities with more than 10 million people.”

It was an exchange of remarkable intimacy, the two leaders, tieless, sharing pleasantries in what was once the official residence of Mr. Xi’s father. The conversation came at the end of a three-day visit by Mr. Macron that was notable for the exceptional attention showered on him, and for the commitment in a concluding joint statement to a “global strategic partnership.”

What exactly that will mean — beyond the commitments to the development of civilian nuclear power stations, the transition to carbon-neutral economies, sales of Europe’s Airbus aircraft and the promotion of pork exports — is not altogether clear.

But at a time when Sino-American relations are in a deep freeze, Mr. Macron staked out an independent European position, and both leaders repeatedly lauded a “multipolar world,” thinly disguised code for one that is not American dominated.

Mr. Cohn repeats political commonplace’s in his opening paragraphs: the New York Times is the voice of the American Government: ‘All the news that’s fit to print’ was once the motto of this Newspaper. Mr. Cohn repeats ‘the conventional wisdom’ and or offers a reconstruction of that wisdom.

The visit, overall, said a loud “No” to the economic “decoupling” favored by the United States as a means to reduce security risks through sweeping export controls and reordered supply chains. It delicately balanced Western and Chinese views on the war in Ukraine without achieving any breakthrough. It was singularly quiet on China’s threat to Taiwan.

Above all, in a new phase of history, one where the United States faces in China a competitor stronger than any it has confronted since becoming the world’s dominant power, Mr. Macron’s embrace of a Chinese partnership suggested that the battle underway to preserve the liberal institutions of the postwar order against an assault from Beijing and Moscow will be complex and nuanced. Not all of America’s allies look at it in the same way.

Through multiple allusions to the need to “reinvent an international order of peace and stability,” Mr. Macron appeared to inch France closer to the Chinese view that the world is undergoing “changes that haven’t happened in 100 years,” as Mr. Xi put it at the end of a warm visit to Moscow last month, even as the French leader hews to the American view that many of those changes are malign and must be resisted.

The Reader arrives at 399 words that ends here ‘ … even as the French leader hews to the American view that many of those changes are malign and must be resisted.’ Further diagnosis of Macron’s deviationism, and his dissent on ‘Russia’s war against Ukraine’, “a manifest violation of international law, a country deciding to colonize its neighbor.”.

“In the context of a deepening Cold War with China, this shows that Macron definitely wants to go against the tide,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a political scientist at Hong Kong Baptist University. Mr. Macron, he said, was playing “the Gaullist card,” a reference to Charles de Gaulle’s bristling assertion of independence from the United States once World War II was won.

Mr. Macron, while appearing to embrace aspects of China’s worldview, was unequivocal about Russian aggression. He told students at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou that they should be worried about the state of the world. The main reason, he suggested, was Russia’s war against Ukraine, “a manifest violation of international law, a country deciding to colonize its neighbor.”

Some deft pruning of Mr. Cohen Foreign Policy chatter, reveals what that provisional framing offers to likeminded Technocrats?

At the same time, Mr. Macron accepted several terms that China included in its 12-point proposal for the “political settlement of the Ukraine crisis,” issued in February and dismissed by the United States. 

Among them were the need for “a balanced, effective and sustainable European security architecture” and the need to prevent “bloc confrontation,” which the Chinese regard as reflecting a “Cold War mentality.” 

Because Europe’s current security architecture is built around NATO, the assertion that a new, balanced one is needed implicitly questions the Atlantic alliance. 

In exchange, Mr. Macron and Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, who traveled with him, secured a vague undertaking from Mr. Xi that he would speak to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine at some unspecified date.

A little over a year ago, a couple of weeks before the war in Ukraine started, Mr. Macron traveled to Moscow to meet Mr. Putin at either end of a very long table in the Kremlin.

Mr. Putin’s words proved worthless. 

Whether Mr. Xi is serious about talking to Mr. Zelensky, and whether China can offer any effective mediation to end the war, will become clear over the coming months.

Another priority, however, as Mr. Macron’s visit made clear, is wooing Europe and ensuring that American “decoupling” does not also become European.

The Chinese economy has been hard hit.

On the issue of the island democracy of Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory in increasingly bellicose terms, Mr. Macron was notably reticent.

The final communiqué reaffirmed the commitment of France to a “One China” policy — that mainland China and Taiwan make up a single nation.

Within hours of Mr. Macron’s departure early Saturday, China announced that it would conduct three days of military drills around Taiwan.

The drills underscore the current fraught state of Sino-American relations. Since the cancellation of a visit to China by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken in February, caused by a clash over a Chinese spy balloon that flew over the United States, no high-level meetings have taken place, and none are planned. 

As they sipped tea at his father’s former residence on Friday, Mr. Xi said to Mr. Macron: “If you stay longer, you are welcome to live here.” 

The sentences and paragraphs acting as singularities, can become riffs on the ideas, themes, postulations, by Mr. Cohen, that offers much to the writer of Foreign Policy Chatter, to adapt as need arises.

Political Observer

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@thetimes: Melanie Phillips diagnoses the current malady of ‘Militant Unions’, as the result of ‘a weaker society’.

Queer Atheist confronts an ‘Old World Thinker’.

Headline: Militant unions thrive in a weaker society

Sub-headline: Extremism is increasing as economic and political objectives merge with the culture wars


Let me begin with these paragraphs steeped in political paranoia:

Teachers, civil servants, nurses, transport workers and others have been mounting months of strike action, variously causing disruption, misery and harm to the public.

Ostensibly, this is being driven by pay restraint, cutbacks and inflation causing distressing rises in the cost of living. However, while this may be the motivation for some strikers, it’s not the only reason. More radical agendas are at work. For starters, there is an explicit aim to bring down the whole political order. Last October, Frances O’Grady, then the general secretary of the TUC, told its annual conference: “The Tories are now toxic. It’s time for change.” In February, a leaked memo revealed that members of the RMT union, who have been mounting rolling transport strikes, told their leader, Mick Lynch, to do more to speed up “the suppression of the capitalist system by a socialistic order of society”. This kind of trade union militancy was last seen in the Seventies and Eighties. So why has it resurfaced now?

Like Mrs. Thatcher, Melanie Phillips: ‘who has championed traditional values in the culture war for more than three decades.’ are political/moral conservatives always in search for the destructive political non-conformists, in sum The Left, her diagnosis of the problem is shopworn paranoia!

The short answer is that the unions are taking advantage of a cultural and political vacuum that has been deepening for years. There has been a profound loss of trust in the entire constitutional order. To many people, if not most, politicians of all parties appear rudderless and unprincipled. The bonds of nation, inherited culture and normative values that once held everyone together have been shattered. Now, warring tribes snipe at each other from either side of a political chasm.

She paraphrases Professor Matthew Goodwin’s book Values, Voice and Virtue.

In his new book Values, Voice and Virtue, Professor Matthew Goodwin argues persuasively that politics is being driven by a “new elite” composed of the professional, educated middle classes who wield immense economic, cultural and political power. Committed to universal laws and institutions, they no longer believe elections matter much any more. The rest of the public has been left effectively disenfranchised. More than half the population now think no party represents their priorities and values. As Goodwin observes, “populist” revolts took place against this new elite through the Brexit vote and the election of Boris Johnson as prime minister. However, there has been another outcome: the draining of authority from parliament to groups wielding cultural, social or economic power over others.

How very convenient that Mr. Goodwin’s book Values, Voice and Virtue was reviewed in the TLS of March 31, 2023 :

Melanie Phillips, with the bit between her teeth, proceeds at full gallop …

This has led to the emergence of a ruthless militant agenda among trade unions and other groups that have seized their chance. While the Labour Party has freed itself from its capture by the hard left under Jeremy Corbyn, militancy and power have flowed from mainstream politics into the trade unions and other groups, fuelling the rise of street politics, which many now believe has greater legitimacy than representative democracy. The anti-capitalist Occupy movement, Black Lives Matter and the eco-warriors have all promoted mass-based political action from below. Last October, protesters took to the streets in more than 50 towns and cities in simultaneous protests co-ordinated among multiple groups and trade unions, including Just Stop Oil, Extinction Rebellion and the Revolutionary Communist Group, to maximise their impact.

There is a still more profound agenda driving this turmoil. Economic and political objectives are merging with the culture wars. This is all too visible in the civil service. Formerly crucial in keeping the show on the road regardless of the manifold inadequacies of elected politicians, civil servants are fast becoming synonymous with incompetence, ideological brainwashing and politicised obstruction. Last year ministers accused Whitehall of having “a political agenda to erase women and the concept of biological sex” with its deployment of non-specific language.

The final paragraph of this hysterical screed is predictable. I’ve highlighted one of the sentences warning of ‘ destroying the normative values of society’ and other expressions of doom and gloom– the world is changing, in frightening dramatic leaps, and Melanie Phillips is in a panic, about that Old World’s waning imperatives: political, moral, and sexual have reached, if not it’s terminus, or one of its many dénouements?

Piling the preposterous on the reprehensible, the National Education Union has said that drag queens and LGBT+ authors should be invited into schools to make them more inclusive. This would help to challenge the “heteronormative culture and curriculum that dominates education”. So this has nothing to do with inclusion and everything to do with destroying the normative values of society. Democratic governance is based upon mutual respect, shared goals and civil liberties. Under the sanctimonious pretence of inclusion and empowerment, this is being replaced by coercion, threats and bullying as political, cultural and moral boundaries are smashed. It’s Britain’s post-democracy moment.

Queer Atheist

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‘Novelist and a Humorist’ Christopher Buckley, in ‘The Paper of Record’ on Trump…

Myra Breckinridge reads selected portions…

Headline: 8 Years in Trump Prison, and Still Waiting on Parole

Son of Wm. F. Buckley Jr. is now billed as a ‘a novelist and a humorist’ : what reader can forget ‘Thank You for Smoking’ of 1994?

The opening paragraphs of his latest ‘essay’ doesn’t demonstrate ‘humor’, but untalented chatter, perfect for The New York Times Readers, at their breakfast tables?

On Monday, a friend breathlessly and sheepishly emailed: “Yes, I admit it: I’m watching the motorcade from LaGuardia to Trump Tower. It’s like O.J.’s Bronco ride! And I swear, the lead car in the motorcade looks like a white Bronco! Could this be an inside joke by the N.Y.P.D.?”

As delicious — indeed, bewitching — a possibility as this might be, I found myself shrugging. I didn’t watch the motorcade, nor could I watch the arraignment, though long have I fantasized about seeing Donald Trump perp-walked, mug-shot, fingerprinted, shackled, summarily convicted and motorcaded directly from court to the South Street Seaport and put aboard a ship for St. Helena.

Why am I not jubilating, wallowing in a deep, warm bubble bath of schadenfreude? Why, instead of humming “Ding, dong, the witch is dead!” am I pressing buttons on the remote control to see what else is on — some politically themed movie, say, where the president more or less gracefully accepts proof of his villainy, resigns and helicopters off to exile in, say, California? Those were the days. Instead, what’s currently on more resembles “Groundhog Day,” a replay of a movie about replay.

Much as I hope to see justice served — if not, at this late point, piping hot — it feels as though we’re the ones who are already in jail. Mr. Trump came down that escalator into the lobby in 2015, making this the eighth year of our sentence in Trump Prison.

The Reader can thank her word count feature, that informs her that 686 words remain of this – what to name it? Father and Son were/are not talent-less word-smiths, amended by a kind of earnestness of execution, to express it in the most back-handed way. Now I could be wrong! when I read a paragraph like this, but the ‘Oh, the humanity!’ insertion blunts the power of his description.

Mr. Trump’s fame came largely from a reality TV show, every episode of which concluded with his snarling at someone and telling them they were fired. His genius was to make us participants in this garish melodrama. Though many of us — but, alas, apparently not enough of us — yearn fervently to fire him, he has proved unfireable. Teflon, Kevlar, whatever your metaphor for “unassailable” — he endures. The show is renewed for another season. The concept of becoming ridiculous and tiresome by “jumping the shark” does not apply. The bigger the shark, the higher the jump. On to the Capitol! Hang Mike Pence! — who was last heard bemoaning the “weaponization” of justice. Oh, the humanity!

Sincerely yours,

Myra Breckenridge

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