31 August 2023

She's just mad about me

I had this weird little computer disaster that freaked me out and no one seems to understand how it happened, so I lost some work on this post and also some time trying to get my mojo back, so I'm just gonna post what I have here and hope it all works normally this time.

Doctorow, "How the kleptocrats and oligarchs hunt civil society groups to the ends of the Earth: It's a great time to be an oligarch! If you have accumulated a great fortune and wish to put whatever great crime lies behind it behind you, there is an army of fixers, lickspittles, thugs, reputation-launderers, procurers, henchmen, and other enablers who have turnkey solutions for laundering your reputation and keeping the unwashed from building a guillotine outside the gates of your compound."

"SoCal Gas spent millions on astroturf ops to fight climate rules: It's a breathtaking fraud: SoCal Gas, the largest gas company in America, spent millions secretly paying people to oppose California environmental regulations, then illegally stuck its customers with the bill. We Californians were forced to pay to lobby against our own survival."

Dean Baker, "It Was Never About 'Free Trade,' Can We Stop the Stupid Charade Already? Over the last four decades administrations of both political parties have pushed trade deals that were designed to redistribute income upward. These deals were routinely referred to as 'free trade' deals, implying that they were about eliminating barriers to trade. This was clearly not true. The trade agreements did remove barriers to trade in manufactured goods, thereby putting downward pressure on the wages of manufacturing workers and workers without college degrees more generally. However, they did little or nothing to remove barriers in highly paid professional services, such as those provided by doctors and dentists. And, they increased some barriers, most notably government-granted patent and copyright monopolies. This mix of barrier reductions and barrier increases had the unambiguous effect of shifting income from ordinary workers to highly educated workers. Stronger patent and copyright protections make people like Bill Gates and workers in the biotech industry rich, they don't put money in the pockets of retail clerks, truck drivers, and custodians. In fact, patents and copyrights take money out of their pockets since they make them pay more for drugs, medical equipment, software and thousands of other items, thereby reducing their real wages."

"Remote work wasn't a problem when Jason Fried wrote about it in 2010, but the second that interest rates no longer benefited venture capital it became something that had 'fooled smart people' and had to be reigned in." And bosses apparently don't get to feel as bossy, and owners feel like workers have too much power, and they just don't like it and they want to make people come back to the office for no reason.

Jon Schwarz, "The Big Myth About 'Free' Markets That Justified History's Greatest Heist: A recent book details how the top 10 percent stole $47 trillion via intellectual warfare. [...] Finally, there's the historical fact that no country has ever gone communist gradually, starting with minimum wage laws and ending up with gulags. Rather, it happened in various fell swoops in places with glaring injustices and vicious capitalistic inequality, and even then generally has required contemporary wars. [...] The book is an incredible work of scholarship, and every page has at least one sparkling, fascinating fact. Adam Smith's 1776 book The Wealth of Nations is now seen as the key text proving the virtues (economic and political) of unregulated capitalism. This is not true at all: Smith argues that bank regulation is crucial; that workers should unionize; that businesspeople have often 'deceived and oppressed' the public; and that any political proposal they make should be viewed with the utmost suspicion. George Stigler, a prominent economist at the University of Chicago and colleague of Milton Friedman, produced an edition of 'The Wealth of Nations' that dealt with Smith's inconvenient views by quietly excising many of them." And that explains something that has baffled me for decades — how did all these kids grow up thinking that Smith was a voice for monetarism? They clearly think they've read him, but they missed all the good parts!

There's always a thread somewhere about how Bernie and AOC are sellouts, so it's interesting to see two articles showing up saying otherwise. From Charlie Heller in The Nation, "A Longtime Political Organizer in AOC's District Says She's the Real Deal: She has used her skills to win concrete, historic political victories." And Branko Marcetic in Jacobin, "AOC and the Squad's List of Left-Wing Accomplishments Is Quite Long: As with any elected official, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Squad should be criticized when needed. But left-wing vitriol is unwarranted: it ignores the Squad's many progressive accomplishments and their legislation's aid to activist campaigns."

"Gender Criticism Versus Gender Abolition: On Three Recent Books About Gender" — I think there's a large extent to which when I read any article about the transgender wars, I'm really looking for a clue as to how it happened that at a time when the entire world seems to be collapsing, this subject suddenly and inexplicably became of paramount importance to so many people who must surely have better things to focus on. Grace Lavery doesn't seem to know, either, but at least she sees the problem.

Donovan, "Mellow Yellow"


  1. I like Lavery's review of the anti-trans books – thanks for the link.

    I too am puzzled by the whole thing. My attitude can be mostly summarized as "Who cares?" (except for actual trans people and their friends.) But I've lost an old friend to this garbage, a non-het-normal man. It's not just a matter of the right-wing crankery of the day, it has legs. I have no idea why. Like, we understand that anti-black racism is out there and it only took someone talking it up to make it visible again. But transphobia never was much of a thing before. So why has it emerged?

    1. My theory: When Obergefell v. Hodges made gay marriage legal across the United States, the conservative outrage machine needed some other way to whip people into a frenzy, and it was ready to go with "trans people are going into the wrong bathrooms, invading our children's most private time." I feel like I started seeing those stories online within a week of Obergefell, which was decided in late June 2015...and in fact, Google Trends shows the first major spike in searches for "transgender" in July 2015.

      But I think this idea worked better than expected, because some people who could shrug off "gay men are coming for your boys" were more vulnerable to "men dressed like women are coming for your girls." That idea can also easily tie into various conspiracies about child trafficking and be part of a larger, more sinister feeling of "there's nefarious deeds afoot."

      So, long story short: I think transphobia used to be "that lady flirting with you might be hiding a secret," but various groups looking for political and financial power have cynically repackaged it as "that man is wearing a dress so he can corrupt and abuse our precious children."

    2. I'd be inclined to agree with you, Brian, but it seems to me it started much earlier.
      With things like this.