2:00PM Water Cooler 5/20/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Kerry: “Globalization has no reverse gear, my friends” [Seattle Times]. And “Corporations are people, my friends.”

Clinton: “I have been for trade agreements, I have been against trade agreements” [U.S. News]. Syrup with those waffles?

Warren and Manchin propose amendment to kick any bill with ISDS off Fast Track [Real Clear Politics]:

ELIZABETH WARREN: I’ve joined with Senator Heitkamp, Senator Manchin and a number of other senators to propose a simple change to the fast-track bill, a change that would prevent Congress from using this expedited process on any trade deal that includes so-called investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions, and I come to the floor today to urge my colleagues to support this amendment. …  Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that we should not give “investors the power to sue foreign governments to weaken their environmental and public health rules.”

Ouch (?). Manchin’s West Virginia went for Clinton in 2008, as Clinton must surely know.

Senators are proposing Fast Track Amendments, but “none of these amendments would alter the substance of what Fast Track is—a bill to authorize the President to enter into binding trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) without proper congressional oversight over these secretive, industry-led deals” [EFF]. As they say in the Navy: You can’t buff a turd.

“Hundreds of tech companies line up to oppose TPP trade agreement” [Guardian]. “Letter signed by more than 250 companies demands greater transparency and says ‘dangerously vague’ language would criminalise whistleblowers.”

Of particular concern to the tech community is an “Investment Chapter” of the TPP drafted in 2010 and leaked by Wikileaks. The letter’s signatories argue the provisions would allow corporations to use an international legal system to override national sovereignty: “The TPP Investment Chapter contains text that would enable corporations to sue nations over democratic rules that allegedly harm expected future profits. Companies can use this process to undermine US rules like fair use, net neutrality, and others designed to protect the free, open internet and users’ rights to free expression online.

Of course, the tech companies that are already oligopolies didn’t sign: Google, Facebook, Apple… So what does that tell you about TPP and “innovation”?

NAFTA, too, was sold as a “high standard'” agreement. “I was covering the trade deal at the time and interviewed top trade officials of both administrations. They also sold it as an advanced, high-standard deal that would lift Mexico from the Third World to the First World” [Seattle Times]. “TPP is sold as a ‘high-standard’ agreement. But would it do what NAFTA didn’t? We can’t say for sure because the complex agreement is secret. But history suggests more of the same.”

Tyler Cowen: “I say let’s just have a two-way button and ask everyone to press it: do you believe that TPP would lead to a net gain in economic welfare or not?” [WaPo]. Classic exhibition of the rhetorical brilliance and crippling sociopathy that are the deformation professionnelle of your typical professional “economist.” (1) “Net gain” for whom?, and (2) is the surrender of national sovereignty really measurable in terms of “economic welfare”? (Just for the record, I say “Not me, and nobody like me,” and “No it isn’t, you… economist.”)

New Zealand: “Leaked documents show New Zealand is one of several countries trying to include education in the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), a 23-nation free trade deal” [Radio New Zealand]. So awesome. More Corinthians!


“In their own ways, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jeb Bush have brought unintentional attention to the role of money in politics and public life” [Dan Balz, WaPo]. 

The S.S. Clinton

“America Rising [Bush’s outsourcing SuperPAC] has sent out a steady stream of posts on social media attacking Mrs. Clinton, some of them specifically designed to be spotted, and shared, by liberals” [New York Times].

“While the overwhelming majority of [the young women interviewed] said they would likely vote for her in 2016, only about a quarter of them were enthusiastic or emphatic in their support” [National Journal]. Young women who identify as feminist, drawn, so far as I can tell, from the political and chattering classes (e.g. a 22-year-old Vice editor).

“Hillary Clinto [sic] is defending her ‘loyal old friends.’ Here’s why that’s a mistake” [Chris Cilizza, WaPo]. Cilizza goes on to compare Clinton to the 76ers’ Allen Iverson (!). Like I said: “[A] ginormous and ever-evolving hairball of tangled and conflicted personal and institutional relationships.”

“If she really thinks money is corrupting politics, she can take concrete steps right now. She could pledge to return immediately to the public finance system and call on pro-Clinton super PACs to cease and desist — if her Republican opponents will do the same” [Dana Milbank, WaPo]. Somebody seems to have thrown a switch at WaPo.

“[Clinton] told the gathering at Mason City [Iowa,] that her early campaign stops had convinced her that drug addiction and mental health issues should be a focus of her White House bid” [Reuters]. Hmm.

“I do believe she’s right about one thing. ‘I made a mistake,’ Clinton said about her Senate vote to authorize war against Iraq. ‘Plain and simple.'” [Ron Fournier, National Journal].

Republican Establishment

Bush II’s chief of staff, Andrew Card, rebukes Jebbie on handling Iraq questions [Politico].

Jebbie, having blown off the Iowa straw poll, heads for New Hampshire, where he leads in the polls [New York Times]. “Which Early State Does He Win?” [HuffPo].

Republican Principled Insurgents

Questions on Wisconsin Economic Development agency dog Walker [Journal Sentinel]. But that’s all they do….

Pew Survey: 70% of Republicans who have “thought a lot” about the primary favor Rubio, but only 40% of those who haven’t do [National Journal]. Marco Rubio: The thinking Republican’s candidate.

Anecdotally: “Rand inherits part of his father’s base, it seems, but far from all of it” [WaPo].

Paul (against) disgrees with Christie (for) on PATRIOT Act [Wall Street Journal].

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of May 15: “Purchase applications fell 4.0 percent in the May 15 week though, year-on-year, applications are still up a very strong 11.0 percent” [Bloomberg]. “The ongoing run up in mortgage rates may be easing demand for mortgage applications just at the time that demand for purchase applications had been gaining steam.” Mosler: “note how depressed sales and starts remain” (ugly charts) [Mosler Economics].

“At last a tailwind for U.S. economy: housing” [Marketwatch].

ATA trucking index declined 3% in March [Econ Intersect]. But: “This data series is not transparent and therefore cannot be relied on.”

“April 2015 Sea Container Counts Continue to Demonstrate Weak Conditions in the USA and Globally” [Econ Intersect]. “The continued underperforming of exports is not a positive sign for GDP as the year progresses.”

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Obama signs “Blue Alert” bill [Baltimore Sun].  Like Amber alert, but for cops.

If a Tweet or a Facebook post can pose a “credible threat,” that means that any bent cop, FBI agent, DHS contractor, or Fusion Center goon with a fake account can trigger a “Blue Alert.” Also, all of these agencies regard protest as such as a credible threat. What could go wrong?

Police State

“Feds launch body camera website for police” [Union-Tribune]. With handy diagram of where to find the off switch, no doubt….

“[Mobile Justice app] sends videos to local American Civil Liberties Union chapters if users believe that law enforcement officers are violating civil rights” [WCJB].


“News Corporation Australia has admitted that it is the only company in the Tax Office’s high-risk category for tax avoidance, while refusing to answer further questions put by the Senate economics references committee” [Australian Financial Review].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

FDR’s HOLC [Home Ownership Loan Corporation] mapped and divided cities by race [Slate]. “Working with [chief economist of the Federal Housing Authority, Homer] Hoyt at the FHA, the HOLC would map cities and divide neighborhoods into various risk categories that were based on his ethnic hierarchy and coded accordingly.” Genuinely horrible; the standard talking point is that FDR made a devil’s bargain with Southern segregationists to pass the New Deal, but here we have a New Deal program that drove segregated housing patterns through the entire post-World War II era, and up to this day, as the demographics of St Louis, including Ferguson, show. (We might also note “coded accordingly”; this is the ’30s equivalent of “big data.”) I hate to say it, but HOLC makes HAMP look good.

“St. Louis cop who killed 18-year-old avoids charges” [CBS]. Film at 11.

“Protesters arrested outside of St. Louis circuit attorney’s home” [KPLR]. “[The police] had to  [?] use pepper spray, and at one point, a protester smeared pepper spray on Police Chief Sam Dotson” [CBS].

“Reflecting on #VonDerritMyers (May 18, 2015)” [Sean Jordan].

“Taser shooting in Broward ruled a homicide” [Miami Herald]. Informally, I remember the first intimations of out-of-control police violence surfaced with tasers (“Don’t tase me, bro!”). I don’t know if the cops escalated to guns after tasers didn’t do whatever they were supposed to do, or whether gun and taser escalations occurred in parallel.

Class Warfare

“What if everybody didn’t have to work to get paid?” [The Atlantic]. BIG getting a little traction in the political class, oddly. Or not.

“Of course you don’t love your job. You’re not supposed to” [WaPo].

Climate Change

“Biotic interactions mediate soil microbial feedbacks to climate change” [PNAS] Translation: “Worms and other small, soil-dwelling animals act as a buffer against climate change” [Al Jazeera]. Worms like sheet mulch, so sheet-mulch your goddamed lawn and grow flowers and vegetables. We can all do our little bit.

News of the Wired

  • Coping with the grief of losing our world [Common Dreams]. Personally, I believe that the planet embodies some sort of intelligence (though not a supernatural one), which is just as capable of optimizing conditions for its own continued existence as we are. So look out.
  • IMF: Fossil fuel companies getting $10 million a minute in subsidies [Guardian]. That seems like a lot of money!
  • “The Walled Gardens Of The Web Are Growing” [ReadWrite]. Ugly, and potentially inimical to NC and sites like it.
  • The Museum of Bad Art is ready to accession more works [International Business Times].
  • “Why an iron fish can make you stronger” [BBC]. So cool, and an excellent example of “low impact” intervention.

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant, the third of Gardens, Week Three (Gene & Julia):

2015-05-18 04.01.27

G & J write:

My 89 year old friend, a master gardener, gave me these iris last year w/ the caveat that they might not bloom the first year. Well, they did and they’re magnificent. I have about 19 more buds!

Delphinium is to the immediate left, bee balm far left. To the right is spider-wort.

I love iris; they’re my favorite flower, although mine are two or three weeks away, at least. And bee balm attract hummingbirds!

Readers, please send me more pictures of your gardens; I understand that heirloom iris growers, besides being generous with their bulbs, are highly competitive ;-)

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. It’s the soil, seeds, flats, and planting season! Also too Godaddy!


(Readers will notice that I have, at long last, improved the hat!)

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. ChrisFromGeorgia

    “Globalization has no reverse gear, my friends”

    Oh for crying out loud! They’re still trotting out the same shopworn rhetoric … T.I.N.A.

    There most certainly is a reverse gear, but it would involve the 1% getting their due, the details of which would probably make the devil blush.

    1. Brindle

      Agreements made by elites (Globalization) are not the same as physical laws such as gravity, water boils at 212* etc. They are social constructs and that means they can be undone by people, citizens of nations. The Big Lie that Kerry and Obama are peddling is the inevitability and permanence of these elite created structures.
      They can be stopped, overturned, dismantled.

      1. ChrisFromGeorgia

        Absolutely … the first step is to expose the rhetoric and apply logic as you have done.

    2. hunkerdown

      The political class is 100% disposable, my friends.

      I mean, if we’re just going to stand around reciting truths in a condescending manner, at least we can do ourselves a service by adding some 80%er truths to the discussion.

    3. tommy strange

      Sabot. And General Strikes…long lasting. Only way to slow the oligarchy is to realize the working class, and middle class only source of power left.

    4. DJG

      On a level with “We tortured some folks.”

      What a bunch of hollow men the Obama administration is. And hollow women, too–let’s never forget the appointment of Penny Pritzker.

  2. micky9finger

    Once again I ask; can’t some hackers get the text to the TPP and punish it for all to read?
    If not what good are they?

    1. hunkerdown

      There’s only so much you can do to hack an air gap. Why don’t you give a hand?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      The ultimate hackers are the Congress Critters who can read the text — albeit in a danger room without taking notes — and then summarize the high points on the House or Senate floor under their Constitutional grant of parliamentary immunity under the Speech and Debate clause. Article I section 6:

      They shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other place.

      Wikipedia says the courts have interpreted the Speech and Debate Clause narrowly, but Mike Gravel, who read the Pentagon Papers into the record and then published them, lived to a ripe old age. Sadly, we don’t have Congress critters of his stature, today.

      1. micky9finger

        All true except the part of me giving a hand(don’t have the skills).
        I truely was suggesting the actual illegal act of stealing the text and then, possibly legal, publishing it.
        With this ridiculous secrecy over such a public law, treaty, what choice do we have?
        Well, of course the congress critters could do something, but they would have to read the treaty or whatever it is. That leaves maybe one or two.

  3. Anon

    Re: Milbank

    He has his moments, but when you’ve lost Dana Milbank…

    Also, regarding the walled gardens – this becomes quite the scary prospect. I can still remember the days when AOL was ISP and browser. Thankfully, I was spared that visually confusing mess fate by dealing with Verizon and their 33.6kbps (upgraded to 56K eventually) speeds, along with IE5.

    1. juliania

      “If she really thinks money is corrupting politics, she can take concrete steps right now. She could pledge to return immediately to the public finance system and call on pro-Clinton super PACs to cease and desist — if her Republican opponents will do the same” [Dana Milbank, WaPo].
      Ah, he’s not gone. To rephrase: If she really thinks money is corrupting politics – she could return immediately to the public finance system — PERIOD.

      No ifs, ands, or buts.

  4. jo6pac

    “With handy diagram of where to find the off switch, no doubt….”

    “To illustrate this, she noted the San Diego agency recently changed its body-camera policy after a veteran officer failed to turn on his camera on a call in which he ended up shooting and killing a man said to be menacing others with a knife.”

    Not worry about the off switch thingy

  5. Carolinian

    Ian Welsh saying some smart things about political parties and ideology.

    In first-past-the-post systems, there are often two or three parties which are viable. In most places with real democracy parties do not have more than two or three terms, then the public grows tired of them and votes for the second party.

    If your ideology controls the second party, odds are strong you will eventually wind up in power, just because of public fatigue with the current party.

    Therefore your job, as a left-winger, right-winger, or whatever, is to keep control of that party. This takes precedence over winning the most immediate election. Winning by becoming a lite version of the other ideology does not serve you. Having the second (or every) party be neo-liberal is not in the interests of anyone but neo-liberals.

    If you are the first party, of course, it is your job to make it so that the second party (and however many other parties there are, if possible) accept the postulates of your ideology. As many have noted, Margaret Thatcher was not successful so much because of her policies, but because Labour came to adopt them as well, just somewhat watered down.


    These aren’t new ideas, but they are nevertheless highly relevant to the Democrats. Back in 1992 there was a “meme” that after three losses the Dems might never gain the Presidency again–this despite their then lock on the House. It was an idea bandied about by newspaper pundits who were still in awe of their hero Reagan, and formed the basis of both Clinton’s strategy and the rise of the Third Way. In Britain Blair eventually aped Clinton.

    Clinton won, but arguably the Dems and all the rest of us would have been a lot better off if he hadn’t. After another four years of Bush snr the While House would have been Democrat for the taking and the House of Representatives very likely wouldn’t have been lost.

    No real moral to the story at this late date and time except perhaps just one: don’t elect another Clinton…..

    1. edmondo

      don’t elect another Clinton…..

      But, she’s the working man’s friend! Honest to God this time.

      1. Carolinian

        Yes, she’ll soon be trotting out It Takes a Village part deux.

        Insider accounts say that Hillary was the driving force behind all of Bill’s left betrayals, recommended Dick Morris etc.The one time Goldwater Girl justified this as the necessity of “practical politics.” The HRC administration will be more of what we’ve come to expect from Obama, who is himself a Clinton disciple in governing style.

    2. John Merryman

      I think you underestimate the degree to which finance has come to control both the levers of power and the desires of the people. The power of money is that it is marketed as quantified, distilled, refined(as in refined sugar) hope and politicians are in the job of selling hope. Consider the power of lotteries among the poor.
      The only real hope at this point is that bankers are becoming their own biggest danger.

  6. hunkerdown

    Looks like the (or at least a) play is to “sacrifice” (until-next-time) the ISDS so that the IP/labor/finance stuff can go through with exaggerated sighs of relief and even plaudits on O’s watch.

  7. Alert on this, Asshole

    Allow me the honor of triggering the first Blue Alert:

    The next time a police officer murders or tortures a citizen with impunity, we in America have an imperative moral obligation to kidnap the accused killer in accordance with the precedent of Adolf Eichmann’s trial and render him or her to one of the many responsible jurisdictions that support justice for death squads or victim recourse for paramilitary torture. Depending on the circumstances, the appropriate jurisdictions may include, inter alia, Malaysia, Namibia, Poland, Ireland, Denmark, Egypt, Switzerland, Thailand, or the Czech Republic. All these jurisdictions have publicly expressed concern about US official impunity for widespread and systematic crime. Ending the disgrace of US police impunity is an obligation erga omnes and an imperative of domestic civil resistance.

    I pledge to assist in this effort.

  8. Jess

    TYPO Alert: “[Mobile Justice app] sends videos to local American Civil Liberties Union chapters if users believe that law enforcement officers are violating civil rights”.

    Kinda changes the whole meaning of the sentence.

  9. Jeremy Grimm

    The iron fish idea is great and the fish looks great … but $25 for a cast iron fish? I could buy an old cast iron pan and break it into pieces and have a lot of cast iron pieces to do the same trick … just not so cool.

    1. Mojah

      It probably does not have the same rate of leaching or absorption into the food as the fish.

    1. ChrisFromGeorgia

      I tend to think that in the unlikely event Warren were to be successful in stripping the ISDS from the TPP, the whole thing would dissolve into dust like that scene in LOTR where one of the black riders (Nazgul) gets a sword in the face from the cool blonde princess.

  10. tommy strange

    Regarding HOLC and rating neighborhoods. This was covered in-depth in the classic Crabgrass Frontier which is still used in Urban Studies classes. My view is that no one should write a word for a blog article or newspaper about gentrification, segregation and affordable housing availability until they have read this book. Family Properties, about Chicago is another must read as is Sugree’s Detroit urban crisis. Case in point; you can’t find one well meaning activist or writer in the bay area that has an inkling of why so much city housing was actually affordable in the 60’s through mid 80’s. They say ‘white flight’ and that’s the end of it. Actually it was a mostly democratic mayoral and fed level subsidy and mandate that created the empty old stock. They then put themselves in an unsolvable position of expecting mostly Democratic city mayors to be able to build a bunch of affordable housing. City taxes, profits, rely so much on gentrification, they are NOT going to slow it. Duh. (and no, of course I am not a republican!)

    1. Paul Tioxon


      The New Deal is now known better as the White New Deal, due to the systemic exclusion of African-Americans due not only to housing discrimination, but the fact that the overwhelming majority did reside in the still very rural South. FDR did have to deal with the most reactionary racists of American, The Southern Plantation Capitalists who for all intents and purposed, prolong the political consequences of slavery by permanently relegating African-American to menial servitude with complex set of laws constituting an Apartheid society completely dominated by White business interest and White civil society over all. The minimum wage laws to this day reflect the agricultural workers and other service workers complete exclusion from the the advance of labor, unorganized and organized. Waitresses live on tips and paid around $2/hr. Migrant farm labor is as close to slavery as you can openly see outside organized crime human trafficking.

      The red lining by ethnic group was promoted and carried out by National Realtors Associations, not solely by government policy or administration of such policy by out and out racists. Italian South Philly, Jewish West Philly, Irish Kensington and other River Wards weren’t solely the result of happy go lucky birds of feather flocking together. Breaking out of the ghetto usually meant you were the lone member of one ethnic group on a block full of a more dominant group in newer, less congested urban neighborhoods. You can see the working class and blue collar of non-African-American backgrounds make startling improvements in their lives with the GI Bill college funds as well as VA Mortgage programs. African Americans found it almost impossible to keep up either due to outright punitive neglect by government bureaucrats at the state of federal levels or deliberate intimidation by civil society, Northern and Southern to buy homes, get mortgages, get certain jobs, send their children to public schools, etc etc.

      It is quite clear that FDR did have a New Deal for workers overall, which was fought in the courts, in Congress and in state capitals and board rooms all across America to curtail any workers, white or Black from materially improving their lot in life. But the particular organized opposition by the Southern political establishment and its deliberate and conscious united front of racial oppression enforced by the Klan is one obstacle FDR could not overwhelm and its resulting long delayed benefits not seen until the 1960s Civil Rights legislation began a reparation movement of political and economic equality. You could easily see FDR being disemboweled on this site by the uber radicals much as Obama is, by ignoring the progress that was made for so many and focusing on those left deliberately behind by political compromises. FDR made major structural changes to the political economy of America, but hardly lead a socialist revolution or any revolution at all. It preserved the status quo of capitalism by providing a safety valve for the bust portion of the business cycle, it did not change the relationship of capital to labor, both remaining a commodity priced by the market mechanism with some influence by government legislation to enure a redistribution on surplus wealth that would maintain the social order, the capitalist social order.

  11. DJG

    “Blue alert.” David Bromwich and his essay in Harper’s Magazine (June’s lead article) made me wonder if there is a fairly simple reason for Obama’s failures: Bromwich hammers away at Obama and the path of least of resistance. So today we get a blue-alert law. Seems like the path of least resistance, a sop to police officers and still another way for police to try to kettle protesters. It’s another Obama-style win-win.

  12. OIFVet

    Yesterday someone asked who the US’ agents of destabilization in Macedonia could be. Beside the ethnic Albanians, I mentioned the possibility of US Balkan colony Bulgaria playing a role in destabilizing the situation. Today, an article in Sputnik News expounds on that possibility: What’s Brewing Along the Bulgarian-Macedonian Border? It outlines recent moves by Bulgaria’s military and leading politicians and nationalists, and provides a somewhat tendentious but still very informative overview of the history between Bulgaria and Macedonia.

    I tend to dismiss the importance the article gives to Bozhidar Dimitrov, the man is a clown that is somewhat at the margins of the political spectrum. Socialist leader Stanishev is a well-connected neoliberal so his visit to Skopie might reflect EU’s moves, but he has been a non-factor in Bulgaria since he served as a Prime Minister and ushered in a wave of neoliberal policies that lost the socialist most of their electorate. As far as the military’s deployment to the border, the army is a shadow of its former self and I seriously doubt that it is capable of launching and sustaining any sort of offensive operations. During my deployment to Iraq I had the opportunity to participate in joint operations with the Bulgarian contingent, and while they were brave and competent, their logistics were entirely dependent on the US and the Poles. The air force is almost non-existent (with US F-15s providing air patrols) so there is extremely limited capability for ground support. Unless the US is providing a lot of support, Bulgaria is incapable of military operations against Macedonia (and thank god for that).

    The involvement of foreign minister Mitov, OTOH, can indeed be used to support the case for a Bulgarian role in destabilizing Macedonia. Some may recall that I have written about this guy before. He is a former US functionary and as both interim and now confirmed FM his actions have been antagonistic toward Russia and subservient to US interests in the region and in Europe as a whole. So I think that this is another piece of the puzzle that points toward a US meddling in Macedonia.

    The current government in Macedonia is awful, of course, but I hate the very idea of another color revolution, especially this close to the old country. Bulgarian nationalist and Bulgarian-Macedonian VMRO nationalists should not be given a cause such as Macedonia, it never ends well for anyone involved. Regardless how awful Gruevski is (and he is terrible), it is an internal matter for Macedonians to solve.

  13. C

    “There is nothing progressive about blaming trade or trade agreements for the inevitable economic shifts that are brought on by technology and time,” Kerry said.

    Have you ever noticed how such problems are never the fault of anyone and there is never any agency to this nor any responsibility for addressing it. The negative outcome of these trade deals are always the “inevitable result” of “historical forces” but the benefits, fictitious as they are are always the result of their efforts.

    It must be nice to be part of an elite that can always blame “technology and time” for the problems that they are causing. That frees them up to take a victory lap when some big company promises to make a handful of jobs in exchange for our national sovereignty.

  14. kj1313

    Lambert good point about Earth. I always said that it’s not Save the Planet, It’s save the Human Race. At the end of the day, Earth when conditions become inhospitable the planet will just shake humans off like a dog shakes off water.

    1. Jack

      This always strikes me as a weird critique. You’re basically just arguing over word usage; I don’t think anyone seriously thinks the planet itself is going anywhere, merely the ‘the world as we know it’ will end.

      1. Ned Ludd

        I saw a logger wearing a T-shift that read: “Earth First, we’ll get to the other planets later.” It showed a logger taking a chainsaw through the center of the world. Save the planet? For much of Western civilization, destruction is a testament to human mastery over the Earth.

        For people who boast about how many “resources” (trees, water, minerals) they can extract and haul off, you need a message that bypasses their cultural blinders.

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