You've successfully subscribed to The Political Economy of Everything
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to The Political Economy of Everything
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Billing info update failed.

Newsletter 11-5-2021

Colin Powers
Colin Powers

Hi everyone. Thanks for subscribing. If you have the means, please consider becoming a paying member. If you have the inclination, please pass this newsletter around to others who might enjoy the read. Now onto this week's edition of No Craic, Mad Craic, and Great Craic.

(Am on the road the next few weeks folks so apologies for the atypical brevity.)

No Craic

(1) A few days after a Da'esh attack on the Kabul airport murdered 169 Afghans and 13 American servicemen, the Pentagon claimed they had successfully identified and killed those responsible. Alas, it was later revealed that the people they had served drone justice to were not, in fact, associates of the Islamic State, but instead Zemeri Ahmadi, a long-time employee of an American-run humanitarian organization, and eight members of his family (including seven of his children). Lest the tragedy need be further underscored, Ahmadi and his family had been scheduled to be evacuated and brought to the United States within a week of their deaths.

An independent Pentagon review of the incident just released its findings. After finding no evidence of misconduct or negligence, Lieutenant General Sami Said and co. recommended against any disciplinary actions being taken against those implicated. Per Said, U.S. forces "genuinely believed that the car they were following was an imminent threat and that they needed to strike it before it got closer to the airport."

I genuinely believe JP Morgan shouldn't have all that money and consider it an imminent threat to the welfare of people across the globe. Inshallah Lady Justice leans on precedent when my time before her comes.

(2) More fortunate amongst Afghan evacuees were a score of CIA assets holding horrifying records of human rights abuse.

As Emran Feroz details, the rank and file of the Khost Protection Force--a notorious outfit operationally independent of the Afghan National Army which had spent the better part of a decade terrorizing the Loya Paktia region of Afghanistan's southeast--has managed to successfully decamp for the United States since summer. The lads and their families are currently hanging out at military bases throughout the country where they await final resettlement plans.

Who said Uncle Sam was short on imperial etiquette?  

(3) Over the past week, Israel has been sending around a Shin Bet-authored dossier to diplomats around as part of an attempt at legitimating the state's recent assault on Palestinian civil society.

The only heavy shit in the dossier is speculative testimony furnished to Shin Bet by two Palestinian accountants, neither of which had any direct involvement with the organizations in question, and both of which had been fired from their places of work under suspicion of financial malpractice. The lawyer for the persons in question--currently in Israeli prison--has alleged his clients also made their various nonsensical claims under the force of torture.

Despite all this, the juiciest fictions that could be conjured up by Shin Bet's informants (and compiled in the aforementioned dossier) concerned a cockamamie plot in which the six Palestinian NGOs targeted by Benny Gantz conspired to sponsor dabke events--performances of a traditional Palestinian dance--as a way of secretly building ideological support for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Israel genuinely jumped the shark at least a decade ago; their flight into the absurd was of course best commemorated by Bibi Netanyahu going before the UN bearing a cartoon drawing of a bomb. Alas, things can always get more deranged...

(4) The Federal Election Commission has ruled that foreign donors can finance US referendum campaigns.

Given the Softbank/Wework connections, I look forward to seeing Saudi Arabia back future Jay Carney-laundered efforts to deprive Uber drivers of basic labor rights. I can very much imagine the UAE and Israel throwing $200 million into some ballot measure to declare all supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement enemies of the state as well.

Seen in light of the failure to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, it ought be clear that the hashtag adults in the room are doing a wonderful job protecting American democracy.

(5) Weetabix, staple of my father's diet since as long as I can remember, is experiencing some labor tension.

Aiming at greater cost efficiency, the company is attempting to swing a fire-and-rehire maneuver. If successful, it would allow management to arbitrage changes to employee contract terms in order to boost profits. The same labor capacity would be retained and pushed to increase output via longer working hours; reduced wages, meanwhile, would mean ownership not only captured gains from expansions to revenues, but from their increased share of the income pie. The firm is pushing forward with this gambit despite having seen its profits jump nearly 20% since Covid.

Mad Craic

(6) The Democrats lost the Governor's office in Virginia.

It is difficult to do an autopsy in real time but it seems causation lies in the coalescence of (i) a manufactured, well-financed moral panic over Critical Race Theory (and libs' wholesale inability to talk about any form of identity in a way that doesn't involve adding x's to words or leaning on academic mumbo jumbo); (ii) the alienating indifference/incompetence the Dems continue to exhibit in Washington (and at a time of such enormous popular demand for changes to existing arrangements around work, raising children, healthcare and climate); and (iii) a McAuliffe strategy fixated on Trump's endorsement of Youngkin rather than his standing as a gross kleptocrat enriched by decades of work with the Carlyle Group. Youngkin also managed to flip some PMC whites in northern Virginia, considerably outperforming Trump amongst these populations of rentiers and arms dealers.

Any way you cut it, in a year, the Dems managed to lose the 10% margin Biden carried Virginia with. It don't bode well for midterms.

Great Craic

(7) Boston has a new mayor, Michelle Wu.

Friends of the show have cautioned that some of her lefty positions on housing may be a product of virtue signaling more than earnest ideological commitments. Nevertheless, she seems a pretty cool cat and one thoughtful/skillful enough to rally a diverse coalition for a bold and transformative agenda. Per The New Republic, Wu's greening goals include "achieving 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2040, repairing and retrofitting buildings to reduce emissions, growing a “green work force” to maintain the city’s new climate-friendly infrastructure, planting more trees and greenery to eradicate heat islands, and divesting from not just fossil fuel companies but also private prisons and gun manufacturers." She's also made noise about rezoning, rent control, seed-funding cooperative housing, and fare-free public transportation.

God speed, Mayor Wu.  

(8) Here you can see a house cat chase off a bear. Pretty good.

Have a great weekend.          


Colin Powers

Colin received his PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in 2020. He is a two-time Fulbright Fellow.