Friday Homestead Dispatch
Catatonic Demonic Escargot
“No American ought to turn away from January 6, 2021, until all of America comes to grips with what befell our country that day, and we decide what we want for our democracy from this day, forward.” – former federal judge J. Michael Luttig
Gol-dang, gas is high. Why, you and everyone else asks? According to Hoaxlines it’s about industry greed. It was reported that A survey of 132 oil and gas firms shows investor pressure is the biggest restraint on increasing supply. About 60% of respondents answered, “What is the primary reason that publicly traded oil producers are restraining growth despite high oil prices?” with “investor pressure to maintain capital discipline” (Plante & Patel, 2022).
They go on to say With the majority of their compensation coming from stock options and stock awards, senior corporate executives have used open-market repurchases to manipulate their companies’ stock prices to their own benefit and that of others who are in the business of timing the buying and selling of publicly listed shares. Buybacks enrich these opportunistic share sellers — investment bankers and hedge-fund managers as well as senior corporate executives — at the expense of employees, as well as continuing shareholders.
If you can stand it, read more about the record profits that Marathon Oil, Pioneer Natural Resources, Occidental Petroleum, Diamondback Energy, Devon Energy, Laredo Petroleum, Hess Corporation, and many others are raking in. For their already rich investors. To be more rich. To buy bigger yachts and houses. To insulate themselves from the common people. Get it?
Before we go too much further, you need some Rodney Norman today.
Speaking of slamming the rich…have you heard of Kshama Sawant? Probably not, unless you live in Seattle. And then, probably not. She doesn’t really think of herself as a politician, even though she has served on the Seattle City Council since 2014. She is an activist, organizer, and socialist, and is a member of Socialist Alternative, in solidarity with the Committee for a Workers' International, which organizes for working-class interests on every continent.
She has done some remarkable things for the city of Seattle, including going up against the biggest money in town. According to Chris Hedges In December Socialist Alternative leader and Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant defeated a well-funded campaign by the city’s business community to remove her in a recall vote.
Since being elected to office in 2013 Sawant and her socialist party have been locked in a bitter battle against the city’s moneyed elites, which has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into a corporate PAC called “A Better Seattle” and saturated television and digital platforms with negative advertising. She and her party have been denied ads by Google, YouTube, and Hulu. Amazon alone spent over $3 million to defeat her run for office in 2019.
Sawant is hated because she is effective. She helped lead the fight in 2014 that made Seattle the first major American city to mandate a $15 dollar an hour minimum wage. Following a three-year struggle against the richest man in the world – Jeff Bezos – and his political establishment, she and her allies pushed through a tax on big business that increased city revenues by an estimated $210 to 240 million a year.
She was part of the movement that led to Seattle’s successful ban on school-year evictions of schoolchildren, their families and school employees. She was a cosponsor of a bill that protects tenants from being evicted at the end of their “term leases,” requiring landlords to provide tenants with the right to renew their leases and prohibiting landlords from evicting tenants for non-payment of rent if the rent was due during the COVID civil emergency and the renter could not pay due to financial hardship.
Her leadership and her party provide an example of effective resistance to the war being waged on the working class and the poor—but, as she explains in this episode of The Chris Hedges Report, every victory has been won in spite of entrenched opposition from Democrats. Instead of depending on the Democratic Party establishment, Sawant says the only way to make advances in the class war is through class struggle and mobilizing ordinary people.
If I was an oil baron investor type, I’d be purchasing this retirement home and studio in the Mill Valley. Time for a $2.7 million GoFundMe?
Blah, blah, blah, the economy, blah, blah, interest rates, blah, blah…the headline in the New York Times screams Fed Takes Aggressive Action in Inflation Fight. Well, it didn’t really scream, but Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, raised interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point on Wednesday and signaled that it is prepared to inflict economic pain to get prices under control. Oooh, so sexy.
I wrote a bit about my Facebook acquaintance Jeffrey Anthony back in May as he doesn’t hold back his opinions regarding finances and economic matters. Even though it’s difficult at times for me to wrap my head around how the economy is tied into the Federal Reserve is tied into the Treasury is tied into interest rates, etc., I was intrigued by his tweet on Powell’s recent move mentioned above: What's remarkable to me is how Powell & the Board portray themselves as working hard & making tough choices to ‘fix’ the economy when their prescriptive fix is the easiest choice requiring the least amount of work and responsibility from the Fed, WH, Congress, and Treasury.
Powell et al are phoning it in & we're supposed to be in awe of their laziness? What this crisis requires is creative bold policy making that acknowledges the awesome powers inherent in the Fed, Treasury, & Congress to put to work idle resources, building capacity & resilience that will bring down inflation, while increasing employment, wages, and economic security, and set us on a path to tackle the transformative challenges facing us in the coming decades ahead. But instead we get interest rate hikes. Who are we even kidding?
Mainstream economic models are so popular & widely used because they foreclose the creative process, thereby giving policy makers an out for their lack of creativity & work ethic. Seriously, all you have to do is say 'Well the economics say this is the way it has to be.' Pathetic
Intrigued, I commented on his post that I would like to hear more specifics about "putting to work idle resources, building capacity & resilience" to fight inflation. What kind of ideas do these entail? Who would make these decisions? Congress won't release any more money into the mainstream economy and half of them are more concerned about helping the economy tank which will help them get re-elected come November.
He responded, in part, that The big takeaway is the Federal Reserve has the legal and technical tools to be much more nimble and particular in their approach to credit instruments and how those would influence directly and indirectly the economy. Interest rate hikes are the bluntest, and as I said, laziest, way to deal with our current situation. He also provided a link to back that assertion.
Another point he made, which is much more interesting to me, is when it comes to Congress, WH, and even Treasury, there are many options that could be taken. One extreme is that the Biden WH can implement the Defense Production Act, which they have done already for Baby Formula, but they could start using it more liberally to get around Republican intransigence. Then Congress can set up a National Investment Authority that has independent powers to invest and put to work idle resources to build infrastructure. We currently control all 3 houses of government and if we wanted to mobilize the forces of legislative action - media, think tanks, donors, and sustained messaging in Congress and WH - we could get something like this passed, but the Dems are not doing it. I do blame the Dems for not even trying. Implementing the NIA along with direct qualitative credit regulation would reduce inflation, put more people to work, increase prosperity, and prepare us to meet the challenges of climate change. Again, a link that backs this up.
Maybe now it might be time to demand our congress-critters on the left be more aggressive, with more progressive agendas being put on the table. But also, you know what? Just. Vote. Blue.
One more reason to vote blue…
In watching the hearings yesterday (I missed the second half due to a rehearsal) I kept thinking that former federal judge J. Michael Luttig, one of the two main witnesses sworn in, must’ve been a founding member of this club:
Luttig, very much a conservative, had some very serious things on his mind, however. He was appearing as a facts witness as, in the lead-up to Jan 6, he told then-VP Mike Pence to ignore the advice of John Eastman, a former Luttig clerk who hatched the scheme to persuade Pence to overturn the results of the 2020 election by rejecting electoral votes from states former President Trump lost.
In his opening remarks, he said A stake was driven through the heart of American democracy on January 6, 2021, and our democracy today is on a knife’s edge. America was at war on that fateful day, but not against a foreign power. She was at war against herself. We Americans were at war with each other— over our democracy. January 6 was but the next, foreseeable battle in a war that had been raging in America for years, though that day was the most consequential battle of that war even to date. In fact, January 6 was a separate war unto itself, a war for America’s democracy, a war irresponsibly instigated and prosecuted by the former president, his political party allies, and his supporters. Both wars are raging to this day. These senseless wars are of our own making, and they are now being waged throughout the land, in our city centers and town squares, in our streets and in our schools, where we work and where we play, in our houses of worship—even within our own families. These wars were conceived and instigated from our Nation’s Capital by our own political leaders collectively and they have been cynically prosecuted by them to fever pitch, now to the point that they have recklessly put America herself at stake. America is now the stake in these unholy wars. Serious thinkers about the American experiment who are not given to apocalyptic prophesying question whether America is on the verge of a literal civil war. It is breathtaking that these arguments even were conceived, let alone entertained by the President of the United States at that perilous moment in history. Had the Vice President of the United States obeyed the President of the United States, America would immediately have been plunged into what would have been tantamount to a revolution within a paralyzing constitutional crisis.
You can read the entire statement here.
In the meantime, this just in…according to the Guardian, the British home secretary, Priti Patel, has approved the extradition of Julian Assange and turned investigative journalism into a criminal act, and licenses the United States to mercilessly hunt down offenders wherever they can be found, bring them to justice and punish them with maximum severity. All while Trump and his cronies are still free to roam the range.