Links 2/28/17

PricewaterhouseCoopers issues ‘sincere apology’ for Oscars blunder Guardian. Resilc: “This worked for all of the clean opinions during the financial crisis so why not now?”

We’re running out of treatment options for 12 ‘priority pathogens’ Reuters (David L)

Superbug infections rising rapidly and spreading silently in kids ars technica (Chuck L)

Light beam replaces blood test during heart surgery PhysOrg (Chuck L)

Bioprinter makes fully functional human skin NextBigFuture (Robert H)


China’s zombie factories and unborn cities BBC (furzy)

China’s Weapons of Trade War Institute for New Economic Thinking

Debt Boom in China Could Lead to “Financial Crisis,” But Maybe Not Yet: New York Fed Wolf Richter

A Nazi Skeleton in the Family Closet Consortium News. On Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s new foreign minister. If you are Canadian, circulate widely…particularly to people in the press. John Helmer reported on this earlier but was ignored: Helmer adds this via e-mail:

I followed with a Canadian radio broadcast and additional research on the Galician attacks on Jews and Poles to cleanse the entire region, with German army support: By the way, the historian whose papers are cited, John-Paul Himka, is Freeland’s brother-in-law; he is married to her sister. That’s why he got access to Grandpa Chomiak’s papers in the Alberta state archive. What Himka uncovered and then reported from his research is the reason he describes the trouble he is in from the Ukrainian diaspora in this interview of May 2016:

Have The Majors Given Up On Canada’s Oil Sands OilPrice (resilc)

The French millennials marching behind Marine Le Pen New Statesman (resilc)


Theresa May’s Brexit trade bluff Politico (guurst). If you are still operating under the delusion that the UK has leverage over the EU, this should settle it.

Brexit prompts ship insurers to look at Luxembourg, Cyprus bases Reuters (guurst)


As Trump Goes In: Foxing the public over Yemen and Iran Juan Cole (resilc)

New Cold War

Must It Always Be Wartime? New York Review of Books

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

If your TV rats you out, what about your car? Autoblog (Chuck L)

Ask Slashdot: Would You Use A Cellphone With A Kill Code? Slashdot

Trump Transition

Trump’s promises: how much has he achieved so far? Financial Times

Trump Can Prove He’s Not a Putin Puppet by Blowing Up the World Truthdig

Senate Confirms Wilbur Ross as Trump’s Commerce Secretary Bloomberg

Trump’s pick for Navy secretary withdraws Reuters (EM)

Trump fires opening salvo in budget wars The Hill (UserFriendly)

Trump to propose 24 percent cut in EPA spending: reports The Hill (UserFriendly)

Trump team looks to bypass WTO dispute system Financial Times. Note some key Republican Congresscritters do not like this at all.

French Historian Says He Was Threatened With Deportation at Houston Airport New York Times (David L)

Sessions: I’m ‘not a fan’ of marijuana expansion The Hill (UserFriendly)

Dean Baquet: Every Time Trump Tweets ‘It Drives Subscriptions Wildly’ Mediaite (resilc)

“I Wish I’d Won The Election,” By Donald Trump Paul Bibeau

Donald Trump is creating a field day for the 1% Financial Times

The intolerance of the left: Trump’s win as seen from Walt Disney’s hometown (Sid S) Thomas Frank, Guardian. Important

What I Heard From Trump Supporters Sam Altman. Lambert flagged this in Water Cooler yesterday, and in case you didn’t see it, this is a must read.

As Trump Heads to Congress, Polarization Is Hardening Wall Street Journal

Pentagon delivers draft plan to defeat Islamic State to White House Reuters (furzy)

Nina Turner: DNC Chooses Not to Be the Party of Everyday People Real News Network

Democrat Propaganda Group Shareblue Has Ties To Chinese Government, Host Of Foreign Special Interests Disobedient Media

“Anti-Semitism” Is Morally and Intellectually Imploding Veterans Today (Judy B)

American who intervened in shooting that killed Indian says was happy to risk life Reuters (EM)

Donna Brazile: ‘I was scared’ Politico (UserFriendly). Ready your barf bag.

How Citizens United gave Republicans a bonanza of seats in U.S. state legislatures Washington Post


GOP Obamacare Plan Suffers Blow With Rejection by Key Republican Bloomberg. So far, Trump has let Congresscritters handle this hot potato. Will he take ownership in the SOTU tomorrow or continue to bob and weave? This is a huge gift to the Dems, since the Republicans have made this a priority despite having no idea what to do, and this appears to be slowing them down on other fronts.

Leaked “Governors only” report presented to the National Governors Association shows that millions would lose health coverage under republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act Public Citizen (Deontos)

Fake News

The CIA Is One of the Main Peddlers of Fake News George Washington

Sweden’s Defense and National Security Adviser? ‘We Don’t Know This Guy’ New York Times

‘J is for Junk Economics’: Michael Hudson on TRNN Real News Network

AIG Directors Weigh Consequences for CEO After Big Setback Wall Street Journal

Cooking The Books? Saudi Aramco Could Be Overvalued By 500% OilPrice

As Wall Street Thrives, America’s Little Guy Chokes on Paperwork Bloomberg. The wee problem is the big guys use the costs to small banks (and the bank showcased here is so small as to be microscopic) as an excuse to have their compliance burdens reduced. Trump market rally conundrum Bruegel. As I am sure Jim Haygood will point out, the skepticism of Serious Economists is a bullish sign. And recall that Summers made just about the stupidest trade evah, resulting in huge losses for Harvard, and even more inexcusably did so using funds from Harvard’s operating budget.

Oops, this Isn’t Supposed to Happen in a Rosy Credit Scenario Wolf Richer. However, despite the above, this isn’t very cheery.

Class Warfare

Why Taxing Robots is not a Good Idea Economist (David L). Easy to say when your livelihood is not threatened by them.

The Jobs Americans Do New York Times. From the weekend.

Trump administration re-evaluating self-driving car guidance Reuters (EM)

Antidote du jour (Tracie H). Merlyn, being a good sport:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Alex

    Semites are Arab peoples, and ‘semitic’ is an adjective which alludes to a middle-Eastern group of languages. It cannot allude to white, European Jews. These are normally alluded to as Ashkenazi Khazars, but whatever you call them they are not semitic.

    Khazar provenance of European Jews is a fringe view (to put it mildly), so I’d suggest to take everything else in the article with a grain of salt

    1. Harry

      Yup. Use of the Khazar term is likely to get you labeled an anti semite. Lucky my uncle Joachim had passed or he might have that abuse heaped on his jewish self.

      1. Alex

        Nobody’s saying it makes you (or him) an anti-semite. My point is that the author of that article mentions it as if it were an established fact in order to further his agenda. It’s like writing an article about climate change and only mentioning 1% of scientists who deny it. You can’t help but start to doubt everything else in such article

        1. Quentin

          Arthur Koestler didn’t seem to find the theory of the Khazar origin of a large section of Ashkenazim so outlandish; see The Khazar Empire and its Heritage. Or was he a self-hating Jew or something?

          1. fosforos

            Koestler was of the Hungarian jewry, whose ancestors came with the Magyars in flight from the Mongol conquerors of Khazaria. So I guess he might be charged with a pro-Khazar (corrective) bias.

        2. Harry

          Quite so. I guess my point was that the the theory wasn’t considered anti-Semitic a while ago but it is now. I always had a soft spot for it but you will piss off some Jews if you treat it as gospel now.

    2. Propertius

      Khazar provenance of European Jews is a fringe view (to put it mildly), so I’d suggest to take everything else in the article with a grain of salt.

      It’s beyond a fringe view – DNA tests of Azhkenazim have completely disproved it. Azhkenazi Jews, Sephardic Jews, Iraqi Jews, Yemenite Jews, Palestinians and Southern Lebanese (particularly Druze) are quite closely related populations.


      This last paper contains the “money quote”:

      The “among populations” variance component (ΦST) for the Ashkenazi, Roman, North African, Near Eastern, Kurdish, and Yemenite Jews (the lowest ΦST value of the five population groups analyzed in Table ​Table2)2) indicated that these Jewish populations were not significantly different from one another. A series of pairwise differentiation tests in which 13 of 15 Jewish population pairs were not statistically different confirmed this result (data not shown). Furthermore, the mean Jewish interpopulation Chord (42) distance value was lower than that for any other population group (data not shown). It is of particular interest that the level of divergence among Jewish populations was low despite their high degree of geographic dispersion. The mean geographic distance among these six Jewish populations was ≈3,000 km. This value was greater than the mean geographic distances of the Middle Eastern (≈600 km) and European (≈1,700 km) groups and was comparable to that for the North African group (≈2,900 km). In fact, these Jewish populations had the lowest ratio of genetic-to-geographic distance of all groups in this study.

      The Ashkenazi, Roman, North African, Near Eastern, Kurdish, and Yemenite Jewish populations formed a fairly compact cluster between the North African and European groups. This Jewish cluster was interspersed with the Palestinian and Syrian populations, whereas the other Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations (Saudi Arabians, Lebanese, and Druze) closely surrounded it.

      Genetically, Palestinians are more closely related to Azhkenazi Jews than they are to Saudi Arabians.

      1. fosforos

        Except that the ten tribes deported by Sargon II were resettled in areas that were to become part of the Khazar homeland. And that Koestler cited Saadi Gaon (tenth century Mesopotamia) as specifying that the Biblical personage “Ashkenaz” was ancestor to the Khazars.

      2. Plenue

        On that front, I’m reminded that Shlomo Sand, author of The Invention of the Jewish People, had this to say about solid genetic evidence torpedoing his entire thesis:

        “This attempt to justify Zionism through genetics is reminiscent of the procedures of late nineteenth-century anthropologists who very scientifically set out to discover the specific characteristics of Europeans. As of today, no study based on anonymous DNA samples has succeeded in identifying a genetic marker specific to Jews, and it is not likely that any study ever will. It is a bitter irony to see the descendants of Holocaust survivors set out to find a biological Jewish identity: Hitler would certainly have been very pleased!”

        So basically a petulant sneer, revealing the hack beneath the veneer of objective academic. There’s an irony, of course, in that people like Sand are actually the ones providing ammunition for anti-Semites.

    3. hidflect

      Tribalism is the root of nearly all racism, nepotism, ethnic violence and societal division. Loyalty to some is betrayal to all. I don’t identify myself with any group, especially one so large that I could never hope to meet even 0.1% of its members. If some people choose to arbitrarily self-identify themselves into a pre-defined clan claiming insurmountable cultural and racial differences to others then they deserve scorn from every rational person who choose rather to measure people by their character and actions, not by superstitious traditions and nebulous ancestry.

      1. witters

        I suppose extraordinary self-confidence is the mark of the ‘every rational person’ prone to ‘scorn’ others. I think you might profit from looking at the rise of the modern state and its internal connection to nationalism through the idea of ‘the citizen’. ‘Loyalty to some is betrayal of all’ sounds horribly Orwellian to me (and I wouldn’t tell your family and, assuming you have any, your friends).

    1. fresno dan

      Baby Gerald
      February 28, 2017 at 7:31 am

      Is he really gonna have time to get to all those concubines???

    2. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, BG.

      Dad worked in Riyadh from 1992 – 2013 as doctor, including to the royal family, and public health adviser. He told us similar stories, which I have also observed, and added about the evacuation of royals from overseas after said royals and hangers on had overdosed or caught an STD. We wonder how these people are able to promote the puritan version their religion. The longer dad spent there, the stronger his Catholic faith became, not uncommon.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you.

        It was not just the Saudis. A friend / hedge fund consultant was stuck in NYC and tagged along in a private jet chartered by a well known Anglo-French banking, mining and wine-making family. He acted as intermediary for funds managed by one of the scions of that family, that scion being a friend of George Osborne, both members of the Bullingdon club.

  2. russell1200

    The upper limits of the estimates of the number of people that starved in the Ukraine in 1932-33 is 7.5 million people. A drought started the famine, but Stalin made it intentionally worse. In any case the number compares well to the German’s Holocaust aimed at Jews and others.

    So while I doubt Chrystia Freeland’s grandfather was a “nice guy”, a lot of folks felt they had their back against the wall and didn’t exactly have easy choices to make. Stalin’s deportations of ethnic folks he thought were suspect during the war shows just how dire the situation. One of the Soviets better Generals, credited with the successful defense at Kursk in 1943 (one of those turning points of the war) Nikolai Vatutin, was killed by Ukrainian Rebel partisans. Neither side was exactly playing around.

    1. vlade

      Ukrainians hated Stalin, and with a good reason (as you write above). Ukrainian nationalists first saw Germans as liberators from Soviets (anti-Semitism was just a plus, but anti-Semitism was rife in all of Russia, all the way until mid war when it become politically convenient for Stalin to support Jews), although most of them changed their opinion pretty quickly. Bandera wasn’t a nice guy, who started in the bed with Nazis, but ended up fighting them (at the same time as fighting Soviets). Of course, for the Soviet regime the Nazi connection was too valuable a PR tool to give up. This is not to apologise for Bandera, but people should really understand a bit better of what was the situation, what led to it etc. before offering opinions.

      In a way, what Stalin did to Ukraine (and not just that) is still reverberating there an in Russia – i.e. the eastern parts of Ukraine are mostly Russian because of the 80% depopulation during the famine and then re-population with ethnic Russians, Crimean Tartars removal from Crimea (and Chechens from Chechnya) etc. etc. TBH, similar stuff happened in most of the Europe past WW2 (Czechoslovak expulsion of Germans and Hungarians, Polish of Germans.. )

      1. Harry

        My uncle Joachim was from Lvov. He loved Russians. Didn’t feel the same about “Ukrainians” although of course Galicia was in POLAND when the war started.

        His feelings may have been influenced by them killing all his family but I’m guessing. After all, the Germans relied on the locals to identify who was who.

        1. vlade

          My paternal grandmother was Ruthenian (which was at that time in Czechoslovakia). She hated Russians, both for taking over Ruthenia as well as for forcibly impressing her brother to the army where he got burned into crisp in his T-34 a year later.

          That said, she had no love lost for Germans (or Hungarians who were the first to occupy Ruthenia) either.

          My main point is that the region was (and is) extremely complicated, with clan/regional vendettas and hatreds going back for hundreds of years sometime. So simplifications like “Nazi” or “communist” don’t work well, as those were often just the latest layer on the complex interconnection of what was going on.

          My paternal great-uncle used to joke that he was citizen of 5 different countries w/o him ever moving more than 10 miles from the place he was born (Austria-Hungaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Soviet Union, Ukraine).

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, Vlade.

            I will be in touch next week and look forward to meeting you.

            I have always been fascinated by that area and its history.

            You make a very good point about simplification. I often ask journalist friends about that and personalisation. They reckon that even in media for the educated, it’s easier to write / explain things that way. Simplification and personalisation then become conventional wisdom.

            In summary, thank goodness for the likes of Naked Capitalism.

            Best wishes.

          2. Carolinian

            So simplifications don’t work well when talking about Bandera but do work well when talking about the Russians? Stalin has been gone for many years.

            There’s an Agnieszka Holland movie called In Darkness about Jews hiding and living in the sewers of L’viv. They were hiding from Ukrainian collaborators who quite willingly helped the Germans. Modern day Bandera supporters in Ukraine often seem to embrace this past collaboration so it’s not all just ancient history.


            1. vlade

              did I say anywhere that Ukrainians were saints? In fact, I wrote “anti-Semitism was just a plus [for Ukrainians]”.

              But I also wrote that anti-Semitism had a very long history in Russia, and was rampant under Stalin too (possibly because Trotsky was a Russian Jew), until conveniently he managed to drop it in about 1942 IIRC. One could say it’s funny, as just after the 1917 revolution Stalin was (talking) against anti-Semitism (the question is how much he did it to curry favour with Lenin), only to change his tune later on – for example his instructions to “purge the ministry of Jews”, (technically he called it “anti-Zionism”, although the result tended to be the same). He changed it mid war, but then again after war (when it was clear that he couldn’t use Israel much).

              That said, Stalin was an extreme pragmatic who was willing to deal with the devil or the pope, or anyone who he consider could get him closer to his goals (see attitude to Nazi Germany for one). Yet, one could argue (I believe reasonably sucessfully), that while his forcible industrialization of Soviet Union was very costly in lives and human happiness, without it Germany would have a fighting chance of winning the war in Europe. But I very much doubt that was foremost in Stalin’s mind when he did it.

              1. fosforos

                Trotsky was a Ukrainian Jew, born near Odessa. And Stalin’s antisemitism was a Georgian antisemitism, born in his Orthodox childhood, nourished as an Orthodox seminarian, and brought to flower in his career as an Okhranik infiltrator. But he didn’t hate Trotsky because he was a Jew–he hated all the “Old Bolsheviks” and killed as many of them as he could afford (a few Molotovs and Kollontais were useful for various purposes).

              1. Elasmo Branch

                Well that’s not true. Ukrainians were press-ganged into the Einsatzgruppen, the firing squads, which murdered more Jews than the gas chambers. There was no way a Ukrainian would be trusted to guard anything. Two million Ukrainians were enslaved and more likely to be found inside the camp’s wire. As soon as the Russians were pushed out of Ukraine, nationalists were popping the lids off Germans. It was a complete gaggle-phcuk. It was as if Germany’s war strategy were dictated by the comments section. Reason had nothing to do with anything.

                1. Martin Gavin

                  Sadly, there’s plenty of evidence that Ukrainian nationalists’ participation in the Holocaust was willing–indeed, eager. They planned it in advance, and in fact, couldn’t wait to get started with mass killing. In 1939, there was a brief period before the Nazis turned over conquered Polish territory to the Soviet Union under the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. In two weeks Ukrainian nationalists killed “2,000 Poles in eastern Galicia, about 1,000 in Volhynia, and an unknown number of Jews and political opponents.” Anti-Semitism, in particular, had deep roots in Ukrainian nationalism before and during WWII. It was in fact, a “core value” – often conflated with anti-communism (Jew=Bolshevik being the common trope in both Nazism and Ukrainian nationalism). Read Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe’s “Stepan Bandera: The Life and Afterlife of a Ukrainian Nationalist – Fascism, Genocide and Cult” (quoted above)for an exhaustive, and damning account of the (mostly) fascist roots of pre-war Ukrainian nationalism.

          3. Harry

            Lost my first attempt to reply. So first of all always happy to interact with my fellow NC commentariat on the usual good natured and open minded terms. Sorry if I came across as obnoxious.

            Secondly, yes very complicated. My uncle (by marriage) told me that the first thing the Russians did was to kill all the communists. Similarly so with headteachers or other potential “leaders”. He knows cos he was picked up by the local police for breaking the Jewish curfew. He was blond so his family selected him to line up for bread- in contravention of the Jewish curfew. Sadly one of his school mates informed on him (14 year olds can be so mean) and the “ukrainian” police picked him up for forced labor. They were cleaning out the victims of the Soviets from the basement of the town hall where they had left the bodies.

            Anyhoo, things got worse for Jews in Lvov. My uncle ended up likeing Russians his whole life. But he never lost his distaste for galicians.

      2. Gareth

        To add further complexity, Stalin was Georgian, not Russian. So why do ethnic Russians in Ukraine need to pay for the crimes of Stalin?

      3. sid_finster

        Eastern Ukraine was Russified long before the famine.

        Although it wasn’t just Ukraine that suffered from famine between 1932-33, the parts of Ukraine that suffered most were some of the more Russified parts.

        1. Vatch

          Can you provide a source for your statements? According to this:

          in 1926, Ukraine’s population was 80% Ukrainian, and 9.2% Russian. In 1939, it was 76.5% Ukrainian, and 13.5% Russian. The Ukrainian population of Ukraine grew by 450,000 during that period, and the Russian population of Ukraine grew by 1.5 million people.

          This map indicates that both central and eastern Ukraine suffered badly from the famine. (The white portions at the left of the map were not part of the Soviet Union. I think they were mostly part of Poland during that period.)

          1. pictboy3

            There was a conscious effort on the part of the Russian Empire to culturally “Russify” Ukraine in the 19th century. It wasn’t about plantations of population, more an effort to suppress Ukrainian language and customs and replace them with more pan-Russian ones. It backfired in a lot of the country and encouraged Ukrainian nationalism at a time when most of the area was part of the Russian Empire. The demographics didn’t see nearly as much of a shift until the Soviets started transplanting huge populations of people across the USSR, with the direct aim of weakening local resistance to Soviet (read: Russian) rule.

    2. Alex Morfesis

      Show me the bones…bones don’t dissolve when buried but magically the Ukrainian “heros” $orta kinda dont really actually want to go dig up ghosts and do a real count….bones might not match the yalking points…much like the Armenians who never ask for a “proper burial” for those who must be somewhere in turkey, as there might not be anywhere near as many “dearly departed” as has been used to bludgeon history…

      Before the hairs stand up on edge for those who might take umbrage…50 thousand dead armenians is a holocaust and genocide to me…as would be 50 thousand ukranians lost…and there is no real question there were multiples of that lost…

      my thought process is one does not need to do a national enquirer elvis sighting on mars front page to discuss the realities of the inhumanity of mankind…

      However, having dealt with, tripped over and done business with ukranians, “former” german nazis and other eastern european “freedom fighters” in new york and
      chicago…for too large a minority of them, if they could get away with burning down synagogues and rounding up black folk into stadiums ala south american dictators here in america, they would not hesitate even five seconds…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Show me the bones…

        One of the 4 ‘greatest’ generals of the Warring States period of Chinese history, Bo Qi (from Wikipedia):’

        Bai Qi (died 257 BC), also known as Bo Qi, was a military general of the Qin state in the Warring States period of Chinese history. Born in Mei (now Mei County in Shaanxi Province), as commander of the Qin army for more than 30 years, Bai Qi was responsible for the deaths of a total of between 890,000 and 2,000,000 enemy soldiers, earning him the nickname Ren Tu (人屠, human butcher). He seized more than 73 cities from the other six Warring States in the Warring States Period and to date no record has been found to show that he suffered a single defeat throughout his military career. He was named by Chinese historians as one of the four greatest generals of the Warring States period, along with Li Mu, Wang Jian and Lian Po.

        Did he really slaughter between 890,000 and 2,000,000 enemy soldiers?

        The Katyn Massacre was much fewer in number.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Sorry, no one forced him to become a prominent propagandist in a high status, high profile job. And his collaboration took place well after the drought.

    4. DH

      Crimea was transferred from Russia to the Ukraine in 1954 by Khrushchev. So much of Ukraine had been part of the Russian empire for a long time. Kiev is generally viewed as one of the cultural cornerstones of the Russian Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries. So the Russian claims over eastern Ukraine and Crimea have some historical basis.

      When Ukraine got closer to the NATO and the EU, there was no way that Russia was going to allow its only major warm water port that houses its Black Sea fleet, Sevastopol, be in the hands of a country that was close to the west. Now Putin’s next major strategic objective is to have a major land bridge to Crimea from Russia through Eastern Ukraine.

      Ukraine was part of Imperial Russia’s “Pale”. That region historically had a lot of Jews but also had a history of pogroms against them. “Fiddler on the Roof” was situated in a Russian town similar to Eastern Ukraine.

      Poland and Ukraine are relatively flat, perfect for cavalry and tanks, so armies have moved rapidly through this region for millennia. It changes hands regularly, so ethnicity can be quite complex with more than enough hatred to go around, but anti-Semitism was honed to a fine edge. anytime an invader came through there was always one group with an axe to grind against another group who would collaborate. Usually, the Jews were at the bottom of the pecking order and most groups would find it easy to scapegoat them. The Nazis industrialized that.

      1. Plenue

        I wonder how much of that was the Brothers in Christ periodically deciding to take a break from slaughtering each other to instead take part in that most beloved of Christian pastimes: murdering their God’s Chosen People. The most frequent justification of course would be that Jews killed Jesus, but I’ve always found this baffling. The death of Christ is the lynchpin of the entire religion; without the crucifixion and resurrection Jesus by definition isn’t the Savior. He’s just a nice guy who told people to be kind to each other (actually, what he’s merely a rebel Rabbi who preached a reformist message specifically aimed at Jews, who was later hijacked by Greek speaking Gentiles, but let’s not get overly technical). Without God sacrificing Himself to Himself to appease Himself (because that totally makes sense) presumably the majority of humanity would still be Hellbound. Also I find it weird how Jews are supposed to be culpable for the actions of some of their ancestors, but Italians get a free pass even though the Romans are the ones who did the actually execution.

        1. Jagger

          We can talk history and we can talk about the present. Seeing the persecution of the Palestinians today makes it difficult to have sympathy for the Jewish descendants of yesterday’s persecuted. Since we can’t do anything about what happened in the first half of the 20th century, perhaps we should just stay focused on helping victims of today’s inhumanity.

          1. Plenue

            Absolutely. Israeli’s have become that which they ostensibly sought to escape. I say ostensibly, because reading about the history of Zionism it becomes clear it was always a European colonial project, and sold as such to prospective patrons. And it was always made up of a crazy group of fringe assholes, people who were mostly viewed as weirdos by the majority of Jews.

            1. Harry

              Another iron law – everyone becomes what they are most afraid of. Israel is a fascist racist state. The UK is working to become dominated by continental europe.

  3. fresno dan

    It’s true that Japan has suffered through two decades of low growth
    [graph US vs Japan]
    But there’s way more to this story. Obviously, the bigger your population, the bigger your GDP. The fact that the Russia has a bigger GDP than Switzerland doesn’t mean it has a better economy. It just means it’s bigger. The key metric to judge whether an economy is in good shape is GDP per working-age adult, since that tells you how productive your workers are. So let’s look at that:
    [Graph – GDP per adult is the same in US and Japan]
    I bring the article up because economists aggregating data is a Bette Noire of mine. Drum does something unusual in the economic media – bringing up per worker stats.
    So Drum doesn’t bring it up, but the distribution of income in Japan vs the US would be interesting. Amount of money spent on health care… well as number who aren’t insured (for the record, I hate using “insured” as a proxy for access to health care). But asking how much GDP has grown in the last 40 years and how much GDP has grown for the bottom 50% is a politically incorrect question (to the 1% – and the questions they don’t want asked are the questions that DON’T get asked)

    Do economists use aggregates purposefully to avoid dealing with how many people get screwed under this system? The Bill Black posting answers the question in my view.

    1. Uahsenaa

      Japan has a health insurance system, but it’s basically bifurcated: you’re either enrolled in the National Health Insurance scheme or insured by your employer. If you’re not insured by your employer, then you have to be enrolled in the NHI, and the two are not really different, since in Japan all medical procedures have a cost fixed by the government that cannot vary, so there’s no distinction in terms of health plans. It’s the same cost for everyone. As a result, healthcare costs are much lower there.

      Also, GDP is the worst metric possible to use here, and it’s sad that Drum can’t think outside the groaf ideology in order to make his point. Japan’s “stagnant” growth doesn’t matter, because their economy is on more or less a sustainable footing. The country has a solid safety net, universal healthcare, excellent care for the elderly, kids aren’t hammered with mountains of debt the moment they get out of college, work centers actively try to get and keep people employed, the quality of food products is quite high (much better than the US), public transportation is affordable and runs on time… even the bums have a higher quality of life than the working poor in the US!

      There are plenty of things you could complain about in Japan (the polite sexism, for instance), but when it comes to a government taking care of its citizenry, you could do much worse than Japan.

      Compare that to, say, China, where groaf has been off the charts for years now, yet quality of life has not exactly improved in much of the country (plus toxic air in most Chinese cities), and you can see that GDP is precisely the wrong way to look at this.

      1. fresno dan

        February 28, 2017 at 9:43 am

        Thanks for the primer on Japan healthcare.
        Being a big movie buff, you can learn a lot just by how a culture is portrayed in their own movies. A Japanese movie about a man who goes to prison for a gun violation wasn’t a documentary, but it was almost documentary like in how it shows the working of a Japanese prison. Although the movie’s description emphasizes control, what I actually got out of the movie is the care, which is a reflection of the care of the society as a whole with regard to each citizen. Compare it to the US system in which the authorities are unable to maintain control even with a great deal more violence.

        On the other hand, a documentary movie I saw about China,
        “Up the Yangtze” about a young woman getting a job on a cruise ship, paints a rather bleak portrait of the market’s effect on the rural population. One can’t help but think that the Japanese prisoners are in many respects better off than the Chinese wage slaves….

        1. Uahsenaa

          While being in a Japanese prison is probably less hellish than being in an American one, the justice system there is profoundly corrupt and unfair to the accused. As a movie buff you may way to check out I Just Didn’t Do It, which has the added benefit of starring the country’s greatest living actor, IMNSHO, Yakusho Kōji. It explores the seedier side of Japanese courts, one that people are generally loath to talk about. I was involved in a minor court case once as a translator, and I can say first hand the things I was asked to do were profoundly unethical in trying to get me to collude in deceiving the suspect they had in custody. I objected and was never invited back to translate for someone again.

          Social pressure and control in Japan are very real, and I don’t want to minimize just how oppressive they can be, especially for anyone who seen as remotely non-conformist.

          1. perpetualWAR

            Apparently, you haven’t been witness to our foreclosure courts, here is good ol’ USA?

            You will find the same behavior.

            1. Plenue

              The thing with Japan is that it’s like that in every court. To the point that successful defenses basically don’t happen. It is entirely possible to be a reputable Japanese defense lawyer without having won a single case, ever. And many cases don’t even reach a sham trial; the Japanese police have a habit of only arresting people they ‘know’ are guilty. And they’ll leave you in the interrogation room for as many days as is required to get you to confess. Arrests become a self-fulfilling prophecy, they always get their man.

              All of this in enabled by a cultural perception that doesn’t much care about the accused. If you’re a good citizen you follow the rules and never run into trouble with the cops. If you attract police attention you must obviously have done something wrong to deserve it. Also they’re convinced that real Japanese don’t commit crimes; by definition any criminal is either a gaijin or a descendent of Korean immigrants, ie not a real Japanese.

      2. kareninca

        “when it comes to a government taking care of its citizenry, you could do much worse than Japan”

        Please read the following article, then revisit that claim. I do not see knowingly and intentionally allowing people to starve to death, to be “taking care” of them.

        KITAKYUSHU, Japan — In a thin notebook discovered along with a man’s partly mummified corpse this summer was a detailed account of his last days, recording his hunger pangs, his drop in weight and, above all, his dream of eating a rice ball, a snack sold for about $1 in convenience stores across the country.

        “3 a.m. This human being hasn’t eaten in 10 days but is still alive,” he wrote. “I want to eat rice. I want to eat a rice ball.”

        These were not the last words of a hiker lost in the wilderness, but those of a 52-year-old urban welfare recipient whose benefits had been cut off. And his case was not the first here.

        One man has died in each of the last three years in this city in western Japan, apparently of starvation, after his welfare application was refused or his benefits cut off. Unable to buy food, all three men wasted away for months inside their homes, where their bodies were eventually found.”

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Not everyone agrees that Fingleton is the best Japan expert around – the well known and very well informed Spike Japan blog took regular pops at him.

        Fingleton has a reputation for someone who stays all the time in central Tokyo and never moves around the country, and so has no idea just how decayed much of Japan is. In short, he’s like one of those US commentators living in a prosperous coastal city who has no idea just how bad it is in flyover country.

        I’m not enough of a Japan expert to say who is right, I’d hedge my bets and say ‘its complicated’. Fingleton tends to ignore the wide evidence of decay in Japans corporate might and influence and in particular its ability to develop new products. But as a general point he is right that Anglo writers tend to overdo the ‘Japan is in terminal decline’ stories, just as they love to do ‘France is about to go bankrupt’ ones.

        1. clinical wasteman

          I would also highly recommend R. Taggart Murphy of ‘Asia-Pacific Journal-Japan Focus’, eg. []. More for method and style rather than for final conclusions, which I’m not qualified to judge. He’s as convincing as Fingleton against western belittlement of ‘culturally eccentric’ and therefore supposedly ‘moribund’ Japanese capitalism (see eg. ‘The Economist’, passim), but there’s maybe more depth because he’s also near-obsessively attuned to the contradictions long since built into Japan’s prizewinning 20th century showcase of the hegemon-backed, state-capitalist ‘economic miracle’ (runners-up: South Korea, West Germany; North Korea for five minutes before that; most diligent later imitator: China). R.T.-M. also stands out as a ‘materialist’ writer aware that slow material processes are played out through events and people ‘unfitted’ to the broad pattern. Thus he’s very good (at least as far as I can tell: Uahsenaa? Plenue? Clive?) on the Japanese politics feeding into the Plaza and Louvre Accords, and likewise on high-profile protagonists like Hatoyama (an under-reported story of scandalous honesty after geopolitical defeat) and Tanaka.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            I’ll add to that – I’ve just read that link, what an excellent overview of a very complex subject, definitely a must read for anyone with an interest in Asian affairs.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      GDP per working-age adult….productivity…

      (That’s important for the lord of the manor).

      GDP per capita (including children, seniors and working adults) – that’s how much food we have to survive the coming winter for the manor as a whole ….that’s important for both the lord and serfs…the next question is how it will be distributed.

  4. Foppe

    On the Sam Altman piece: Notice the complete absence of any/all references to econ policy as relevant, except the worry over him ‘rolling back social change’. In other words, pretty much no opportunity costs.

    Questions: how to make these people believe (why didn’t the FF15 appeal? — Too city-based? Too many retirees? Too few job opportunities period? — Medicare4all not prominent enough?), and how to prevent being seen as snobs (whose main characteristics are 1. not listening, and 2. judging others for saying ‘wrong’ things).

  5. fresno dan

    The intolerance of the left: Trump’s win as seen from Walt Disney’s hometown (Sid S) Thomas Frank, Guardian. Important

    ‘There was a time when hard times drove people to the left’

    The way Perry tells the story, family farmers are now in the grip of a handful of immensely powerful international food companies, and the trade deals our government has been agreeing to for decades have only helped to strengthen those corporations at their expense.
    Unlike nearly every other national politician, Obama seemed to get it back then: he promised to enforce antitrust laws against big food conglomerates and to do something about corporate livestock operations. “He really ran a campaign that related to agriculture,” Rhonda Perry recalls. “Part of his platform,” she continues, “was about reining in the corporate power and the monopolies that these companies have – it was about ensuring that there was going to be fair and competitive markets. None of those things happened.”
    People eventually figure out whose side your REALLY on….

    1. MartyH

      From the same story, the thread that small towns are dying … as if it’s a flyover country problem. The big outlet mall just North of the famous Hamptoms has its missing stores as do the main streets of the various villages of Long Island’s North Shore Gold Coast.

      The sickness is further advanced in small-town Missouri. It is eating its way into communities everywhere IMHO.

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          Come to Calabama, er, Northern California…

          All you see in the article and more! Plus: Where do those thriving prison towns ship the parolees? You’ll find out! Homelessness, crime, no jobs, and the jobs that do exist are $10/hr and start part time! And We’ll put our meth and heroin problem up against anybody’s.

          Shasta County 2016:
          Trump 63.9%, Clinton 27.52% Johnson 4.17% Jill Stein 1.6%


          1. Anon

            Yes. I had a summer home in Plumas County (Lake Almanor) and a guard employed at the high-security prison in Susanville (60 miles to the east) bought the house next door. In casual conversation he mentioned that living in Susanville (near the prison) would not be “safe”.

            Hmmm. Having this kind of neighbor didn’t seem to be creating any “safety” for me. Sold the home, pronto.

      1. sleepy

        Yes, and Trump carried Suffolk County as well as Staten Island. Not sure why all these folks have to fly to the Midwest to do their “deplorable” tours to discover why the natives are restless.

        Next up, David Brooks’ bus tour of Iowa. Let’s have a conversation!

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


          “You or they have eyes and yet you (or they) can not see” – straight from religious books.

      2. Eclair

        Western New York is dying (has died? is dead?). Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegheny, Steuben, Chemung, Tioga counties (the Southern Tier, slated to become a fracking sacrifice zone), went for Trump. Only Erie and Monroe countries, (home of Buffalo and SUNY Buffalo, and Rochester, home of U of R) went for Clinton.

        Jamestown, in Chautauqua county, is a classic decaying redbrick city, it’s 40+ furniture factories long gone to low-cost foreign countries. Beautifully crafted wood houses built in the early 1900’s are literally rotting. The city is pinning its economic hopes on The Comedy Museum, show-casing Lucille Ball (who fled as soon as she could buy a bus ticket to NYC). Beautifully crafted wood houses built in the early 1900’s are literally rotting.

        This hollowing out did not happen because its residents were lazy or stupid or uneducated. The region was a hotbed of obsessively work-centered Swedish immigrants who farmed, cut timber and were skilled furniture makers. My theory is that they felt at home in the micro-climate of long dark months with miserable lake-effect snow. The companies moved out so they could cut labor costs and government policy let them do it. Trump said he felt their pain and would help them. Chances are he lied, but somebody throws you a lifeline when you are literally drowning, you grab it.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Hillary was not confronted by the main stream media as lying, even with her private and public positions.

          Obama, in 2008, was reported to have said in a fundraiser his private position on NAFTA.

          Those proven contradictory statements were made intentionally.

          Do we know Trump lied intentionally (or is that redundant) when he said he would help them? Any recording of his ‘private position?’ on this?

        2. Liberal Mole

          Speaking about Chautauqua county, 20 years ago Mayville was a cute little town, and the closest to the Chautauqua Institution, where teachers and middle class families would spend their summer vacations, enjoying the lake, arts, philosophy, and religion. Now Mayville’s empty main street is of dilapidated storefronts without a single restaurant, while over at the Institution gate tickets for two costs over $900 for a week and the wealthy build multi-million dollar summer homes on ridiculously over priced property. It explains a lot.

      3. polecat

        Well ….. Barry and Michele’s girls did ok consuming their boutique organic lunches, being the ‘First fist-bumpin Girrrls’ and all … whilst attending elite private school ….. so there’s that !!

        Funking hypocrites to the nth degree !!!!

    2. Vatch

      Yes, Thomas Frank keeps writing insightful essays. I wish more people would pay attention to what he says. More from the article:

      A terrifying confirmation of this thesis came a little more than a year ago, when a World Trade Organization “appellate body” basically shot down a US supermarket rule called “Country of Origin Labeling” (Cool), which had required meat and vegetables to be sold with labels announcing where they came from. American farmers loved Cool; it seemed like a commonsense sort of thing, and here was some shadowy, pro-corporate international organization vetoing it.

      Plenty of the farmers who noticed that debacle found it easy to perceive similar threats in Barack Obama’s great hoped-for TPP deal, which Obama perversely insisted on pushing for even while his hand-picked successor, Hillary Clinton, tried to convince voters that she opposed it.

      And this:

      There is nothing un-progressive about wanting your town to thrive

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Your family.

        Your friends.

        Your town.

        Your country.

        It’s not xenophobic. And it’s not anti-anything, even if some insist on slapping labels around.

  6. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves, for the Brexit links.

    Yesterday’s Liberation featured an article by the economist Thierry Philipponat, He disputes claims from the Bank of England and the Bruegel Institute that moving Euro clearing and swap dealing from London to the EU27 will result in financial instability and an increase in the cost of credit. He would like to know the calculations used by Bruegel and what is so good about the London eco-system that can’t be replaced in / by the EU27. Philipponat can’t believe that the City could use the equivalence system as it is at the discretion of EU regulators and not easy for firms to plan for. I would agree with that. The real economy does not need complex financial products, so expertise to manage such products should not be a problem in the EU27.

    Readers have limited access to Liberation. Philipponat’s article is part of a series on Brexit, well worth reading if one speaks French.

    Bons baisers de Paris, chers amis et lecteurs.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I think this highlights one issue that could have a bearing in how the negotiations go. I may very well be wrong in this but the perception I get is that while many EU countries have been slow to get off the mark politically on Brexit, the one public sector that was very fast to look at the issues are the various development agencies, both national, regional and city based. They seem to have a head start in both thinking through the issues, and in taking action. Certainly here in Ireland, the various bodies involved in bringing foreign investment into Ireland were organising and active within weeks of the vote, leading the civil service in general, and the politicians behind.

      I wonder if this will almost inevitably mean that they will be the de facto leaders in forming policy within each country – in other words, the focus will be on grabbing as much investment as possible, even at the expense of other political and economic objectives. Arguments like Philipponat’s would likely hold strong sway in this scenario, perhaps much stronger than the ‘softly softly, lets not make it any worse than it has to be’ approach that most civil servants would no doubt prefer.

  7. Jim Haygood

    From the NYRB article “Must It Always Be Wartime?”:

    Rather than continue the effort to divide the world into two categories, [Rosa Brooks] suggests “recognizing that war and peace are not binary opposites, but lie along a continuum.”

    For example, why not require some degree of judicial review before a suspect is put on the “kill list” for a drone attack?

    Excellent! By adopting the ‘continuum’ approach, and co-opting US judges to issue assassination warrants, we can finally set aside the obsolete constitutional stricture that Congress must declare war.

    Thus NYRB joins NYT and WaPo in advocating for permanent war footing. The MSM is the Enemy.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Jim.

      Great stuff, as always. I would just add that as long as their loved ones don’t have to do any fighting.

      You make a good point and one that friends who are journalists tell me. Many journalists in the UK want to be in these power circles and exercise influence. One sees them on TV almost everyday. They have little expertise in anything, but talk a lot.

      These connections and ambitions often go back to university days, which is related to the link and comment about Oxford University’s PPE course from Plutonium Kun last week and to Simon Kuper’s article in the FT about Brexit being made at Oxford university, the latter featured on these pages.

      One of my journalist friends, who is Jewish like Kuper, said that Oxford, which he and Kuper attended, is still run as a club for and by the upper class, essentially to keep them off the streets for a few years. The useful stuff like science and engineering is incidental. Access to the club is restricted. For example, a Rothschild like Nathaniel will be accepted, but not a Kuper, by the upper class circle. My friend said one got the impression that the upper class types, similar to Cameron and Johnson, have probably not met someone who is not upper class, white or from outside central London and country estates. This explains why PK’s friends thought him an expert on the non-upper classes. This gulf explains why the rest of us are expendable and to be kept away from power.

      1. Carolinian

        So plenty of Chicken Hawks back in mother England as well? I recall during the run up to the Iraq war there were reports that Blair was excited that he was finally going to be “blooded.”

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Carolinian.

          Oh, yes. It goes back decades. As a school boy and student and with a father serving in the Royal Air Force at the time of the Falklands and first Gulf War, it was amusing to listen to the children of civilians talk about what they / their dads would do to Johnny Argy / Iraqi.

          I can imagine about Phoney Blur. The war paid for his two country estates near where I live, the border of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

          BTW I know SC well, as my waistline testifies.

    2. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      February 28, 2017 at 8:29 am

      “For example, why not require some degree of judicial review before a suspect is put on the “kill list” for a drone attack?”

      Yeah, just like that…”FISA” court (the intelligence court for secret “warrants” – which in and of itself proves that our “rights” have been totally eviscerated) that approves….?every? or is it 99.999% of warrant requests?
      Yeah….pretend independent US courts guarding our pretend US rights….

      1. Jim Haygood

        Just the job for the FISA court! Even the acronym can be adapted: Foreign Intelligence Speedy Assassinations court.

        Is it true that their rubber stamps have a solid gold handle?

  8. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves, for the links regarding the French elections.

    One thing that London and Paris are sharing at the moment is an uptick in homelessness. I have not seen the tragedy covered by the MSM on either side of La Manche. One guy sleeps in the doorway of Christies Real Estate, upscale as the name suggests, on Avenue Kleber.

    A bit further, heading towards the Arc, is the new Pan Peninsula hotel, using a second empire building, and aimed at wealthy visitors. There are two lions, a la HSBC, on either side of the walkway. The garden is covered by a glass roof, so one can see the visitors relax, probably oblivious to the misery nearby.

    One good thing about working in Paris at the moment is the local MSM is not / no longer as hysterical about Trump and Putin as their Anglo-Saxon brethren. There is a more coverage of issues that matter to the public, e.g., as it is Salon de l’Agriculture week at the Porte de Versailles, the cost of living, rural life, trade and the environment. I wonder if that explains why the French are more likely to take to the streets? Are they a bit better informed than Anglo-Saxons.

    I have caught up with friends, two of whom are members of Les Republicains and one of whom is a municipal councillor for the 16eme arrondissement, where both live. They are not hopeful for Fillon making the second round, think Macron is an opportunist and think Le Pen will do better than polling suggests in the second round, not necessarily win. I was told how the Socialists wanted to develop an Obama coalition and forget about the working class, but have not been able to.

    Further to Plutonium Kun’s recent analysis of Macron’s Obama style signalling regarding Algeria, PK’s analysis is shared by the people I talked to. It was interesting to observe young non-white professionals be enthused by Macron. One can see the emergence of a misleadership class.

    I apologise for this compte rendu off topic.

    1. vidimi

      when i saw the link to 40,000 french sign petition for Obama to be the next french president, i immediately thought, what’s the difference, we already have macron?

      between le pen, fillon and macron, i don’t know who would be worse. i like melonchon but people here on the left that i know claim he is insufferable as a person, and hamon is very much a socialist party insider, even if on the left side of the spectrum. he’s sure to be an improvement over hollande so i’d take him over the other three.

    2. UserFriendly

      One of the reason My life sucks so bad is because I ‘chose’ the wrong year to enter the workforce. Entering the workforce at a time of high unemployment has huge negative effects that last decades called generational scarring. In researching that effect I came across this incredibly interesting French study. The effect is actually more pronounced in France because of the strength of trade unions making it incredibly hard to terminate poor employees leading to even less positions available for youth. Of course all that would be alleviated by a JG. I wouldn’t take that as an argument against unions in general, but I do see the hurdles to firing bad employee’s that Unions put up as frustrating. I understand they want to protect from arbitrary or retaliatory firings but there should be a better mechanism for poor performance. Not that I really know all that much about labor relations so my assumptions could be totally off base.

      Anyways, that is why I wasn’t surprised at the Millennials with FN.

    3. David

      I have the same impression, living a bit further East. It’s hard to go more than fifty meters in the centre of the city without encountering at least one homeless beggar, and sometimes entire families. Yet this doesn’t seem to have impacted the French elite at all, who are currently freaking out about Le Pen or the end of the world (they don’t really distinguish between the two). I hold to my previously expressed view that the second round is most likely to be Le Pen vs Macron and I am not at all sure that Macron will win – he lacks any real experience or maturity, he doesn’t have a party as such, and has to somehow represent a coalition of wildly different political positions and economic interests. On the other hand, as I’ve said before, he can expect to be backed by effectively the whole of the media and political class, so he may still do it.

      1. Mark P.

        ‘he can expect to be backed by effectively the whole of the media and political class’

        As was Clinton against Trump.

        Meanwhile, Le Pen and her advisors were having talks with high-ups at some of big banks last week, explaining how they plan to take France out of the single currency.

        We will see.

    1. Foy

      That was quite something. Stunning to read but not surprising in any way. ‘Financial inclusion’. Another buzz word/term that’s going make me throw up in future every time I hear it, which sounds like it’s going to be a lot.

      I think the article deserves to be highlighted in the Links tomorrow.

  9. Brian Gates

    There’s an interesting sleight of hand when one of this site’s missions (as it seems to me of course) is to disentangle leftism as a ideology from any notion that the Democrats are leftist – but reproduces articles like Frank’s who then occludes this divison, suggesting that the Democratic party represents the left… then cherrypicks man-on-the-street interviews that combine the two.

    Frank usually hits it out of the park, but the false surprise and false equivalences in this particular article disappointed me. eg “here i thought farmers wanted free trade acts” (he knows thats not true except for the tiny fraction of farmers who are owners of Big Ag companies). Nor is it good journalism to set up “wanting your town to thrive” (yeah, um, nobody doesn’t want that) against leftism that wants that AND for the very people who pick those farmlands (mexicans/guatemalans/etc escaping brutal regimes or economic systems set up by the US) to have a humane way of life. Fail.

    1. a different chris

      Huh? It didn’t “reproduce” the Frank article, it linked to it. If you’ve been here a while you would know that we get approving links, disapproving links, and “well this is sort of a mixed bag but worth reading” links. And probably at least once a week we do get an article “reproduced”, that is posted right here but where Yves herself calls BS on it in the intro.

      If you want an echo chamber you can find plenty on the Internets.

      Your comments about the particular Frank article, though, seem quite apt.

    2. s.n.

      AND for the very people who pick those farmlands (mexicans/guatemalans/etc escaping brutal regimes or economic systems set up by the US) to have a humane way of life.

      i don’ t know much about agriculture in Missouri – but have never heard that it is a major – or even minor – employer of immigrant labor. Is it? For what crops? The article (excellent i thought) referred only to “family farms”

      1. Terry Humphrey

        The migrants here in Mid-Missouri are employed by the processors (i.e. ConAgra) rather than the producers who John Deere milks shamelessly with tractors & combines with six-figure price tags. It has some of the deepest topsoil in the country and has been into row crops since the Civil War. Like the rest of the region, they bi-crop, alternating corn and soybeans.

    3. Vatch

      I think it’s a very good article. Here’s what Frank said about farmers and free trade:

      At first, it surprised me to learn this. I knew that Trump was critical of trade deals, of course. But I have always thought of farmers as big fans of free trade, since the US exports a huge amount of food. Farmers turned against Jimmy Carter because of his grain embargo on the Soviet Union, for example, and farm lobbyists are forever pushing for opening up trade with Cuba.

      But these days, things are different. The way Perry tells the story, family farmers are now in the grip of a handful of immensely powerful international food companies, and the trade deals our government has been agreeing to for decades have only helped to strengthen those corporations at their expense.

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      You criticize the site when it is clear that you don’t read it regularly. We often discuss the debasement of nomenclature. If we flagged that on every bloody article we’d never get anything done. And more generally, Frank in his book Listen, Liberal makes clear that he regards Dem “liberalism” as pro 10% and “leftist” only in identity politics.

      And “critical thinking” is not accepting thought policing on what you regard as true “leftie” positions, which is precisely what YOU are pushing.

      Lambert gave a very detailed parsing in Water Cooler regarding where he came out on helping immigrants v. helping American citizens when we have high unemployment and communities ravaged by opioid abuse, brought to them by the machinations of Purdue Pharma. You need to track it down. And no, I’m not helping you find it.

  10. Chris M.

    Oscars blunder – They built a needlessly complex system (to justify fees) but didn’t bother to adjust for human error on the part of the managing partners handing out the envelopes. Arrogance? They need to label the envelopes more clearly and tell the accountants to double check when handing envelope to presenter. And tell the bedazzled accountants to hold the celebrity tweets until after the show.

    1. Pat

      From the screen captures, the envelopes ARE pretty clearly marked.
      While this was clearly a failure on the part of the high up accountants who were working the event, it was not just them. This was also a failure on the presenters’ part, particularly Beatty. One the envelope was clearly marked, they didn’t bother to look at it. Beatty has produced multiple films and knows that the award is given to the picture and if there are any names attached they would be producers. Stone would not be on a best picture award announcement. He knew when he opened it something was wrong. So he had TWO times to stop this from happening and with one clearly chose not to disrupt the proceedings to check it. I give him a little credit for showing both that he was confused by it and later trying to apologize while deflecting blame. Dunaway just wanted it to be over with and if she knew there was a problem just didn’t care. So while I know this is a throwaway gig for them, you must remember that every presenter is given a gift bag worth tens of thousands of dollars many times including things like free meals and even full vacations. So by most Americans standards it is well paid, asking them to read the envelope before taking the stage is NOT really asking too much of them.

      1. fresno dan

        February 28, 2017 at 10:00 am

        I still think its the beginning of the conspiracy to justify “Logan’s Run.” And how better to do this than by using two of the most preeminent [old] actors of our time to show to a mass audience that old people are too befuddled to even read an envelope…..

        1. Pat

          LOL. If so, just think how the studio and investors who funded Beatty’s latest written/directed and starring Warren Beatty production from last year must feel if they were the choices.

          1. fresno dan

            February 28, 2017 at 10:28 am


            It is hard to imagine how ANYONE could imagine that (Beatty’s latest movie) is something people would want to see now a days and INVEST in. It makes funding (recently) a Tarzan or Lone Ranger movie look like genius.
            Even I, a guy who is willing to Netflix anything, and actually liked The Lobster – nah, sorry Warren, this will not be worth even fast forwarding through for curiosity’s sake.

            1. fosforos

              I don’t know and don’t care about Beatty. But if “Logan’s Run” turns out to be anywhere near as good as Colleen McCullough’s novel it would be very good indeed.

    2. Pat

      I’m assuming my original reply will show up later (and it did), but should add that I’m not sure Presenters aren’t also paid outright. As union members most appearances on television classified as entertainment from late night shows and morning entertainment/news programs means payment of the negotiated minimum wage as set by the contract for that program. While the contract for an award show may have found a way to make those appearances gratis while covering the dancers, any actors for skits, seat fillers, award carriers, etc it would more likely just have them paid minimum so as not to end up with someone who isn’t rich having to work for noting.

      1. Carolinian

        Oh c’mon. Yes Beatty and Dunaway should have paid more attention but they may have been distracted by standing in front of a huge auditorium and worldwide audience. This is all the fault of Price Waterhouse if the reports are true.

        Nikki Finke used to say that everyone in Hollywood (other than the winners) hates the Oscars because of the pressures involved when appearing at such a spotlighted event as well as the competitive resentment that it fosters among the nominees. It’s doubtful the swag bag is much of a factor for wealthy actors.

        1. fresno dan

          February 28, 2017 at 10:10 am
          February 28, 2017 at 11:04 am

          They do it for the love…..of the spotlight…and money.

          “Yes Beatty and Dunaway should have paid more attention but they may have been distracted by standing in front of a huge auditorium and worldwide audience.”

          Good one! But Hitchcock did say** actors are cattle – they were told to read what is in the envelope ….and they read what was in the envelope. Cows do occasionally try and go somewhere other than where they are being herded….

          ** I never said all actors are cattle; what I said was all actors should be treated like cattle. Alfred Hitchcock
          Read more at:

        2. Pat

          Excuse me, these two people have lived in the spotlight and sought that spotlight for more than four decades. Neither of them have forthcoming projects, although Beatty might like some publicity for that film of his that disappeared pretty quickly. If they hated it so much, they could have stayed home and watched it in their pajamas like most of the rest of the world. Yes there are reasons beyond the swag that actors choose to attend, usually promotion of a project or themselves. But once again for a couple of actors and in Beatty’s case writer/producer/director (noted for fresno dan to point out his cattle herder status) who are largely retired why show up. They choose to accept the invitation to attend and to present the award.

          Do not get me wrong PWC and its highly paid executives deserve every bit of disdain and disgust thrown their way for their handling of this, theirs was the biggest failure, especially in not correcting their mistake immediately upon the incorrect announcement. But Beatty and Dunaway had one job, and couldn’t even be bothered to look at the front of the envelope, or after those multiple decades in the business speak up when they see something quite clearly not right.

          (And about that swag bag, you might read some gossip about how some stars reaction to suggestions they donate the contents of the bags to charities for fund raising purposes, we talk about the greed of the financial industry, do not discount that the same greed exists in many wealthy actors.)

          1. Carolinian

            There are spotlights and then there are spotlights. This one is in front of a billion people (or so those AA cue card writers keep telling us) and on live television. To me it’s amazing that those presenters and attendees manage to keep so much composure. Beatty, whatever one may think of him, is 79 years old. I’d say cut him a little slack. He had no reason to check and see if it was the incorrect envelope since such a thing has never happened before. Also it’s very doubtful that this stunt reunion with Dunaway was his idea even if he did say yes.

    3. Hana M.

      What bugs me about the Oscar story is that Brian Cullinan, U.S. Board chairman, and Martha Ruiz, a partner at PwC (not underling accountants in any way) were the only two people who knew in advance that Moonlight was the winner. They both could and should have been out on the stage in a flash the minute Fay Dunnaway said the words “La La Land”. It was their contractual and personal obligation to see to it that the correct winner was announced and celebrated. Instead, nearly two minutes elapsed and the cast, producers and directors for Moonlight lost that wonderful moment of unmixed joy that comes with a well-deserved victory.

      Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz, of all people, must have been conscious of the historic nature of the win–the first movie with an all-black cast to take the Oscar for Best Picture. Cullinan and Ruiz wrote way back in November, 2016 of the need for “diversity” in film.

      For Hollywood, many might argue its purpose is not just to create a film or a show, but in the human desire to tell stories. Ones that evoke laughter, action, empathy and tears. When you take a moment to take that step back, you realize that purpose, once defined, becomes a responsibility.

      It’s also a tremendous opportunity.

      Just as history has shaped movies and television, movies and television have played a role in shaping history. It’s hard not to see the potential in that reality and in the power messages can have in defying stereotypes and generating hope among those who need it the most. Everyone, regardless of their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, needs and deserves to have positive reflections of themselves staring back at them. That’s as true for an industry as public, influential, and global as the entertainment industry is, as it is for every boardroom, C-Suite and workforce in businesses around the world.

      But promoting diversity apparently comes in second to avoiding personal embarrassment. Cullinan was the one who handed the envelope to Beatty. If he was serious about diversity he would have had a great sense of the historic moment and would have taken conscious care to get it right. Instead he was caught Tweeting celeb photos backstage. Ruiz is more junior, but still how could she have not taken action? Profiles in Courage. Not. It’s all very illuminating.

      1. Hana M.

        Ha! Another hilarious-in-hindsight Huffington Post gem from Ruiz and Cullinan, this one from 2/24/2017. I love the title: PwC and The Huffington Post Ask: What’s Your Purpose? A Red Carpet Event

        At PwC, we constantly seek opportunities to help people find and live their purpose. So, come Sunday, while celebrities and studio heads are walking the red carpet, PwC will be hosting a red carpet event of its own. Only, instead of asking individuals what they’re wearing, we’ll be asking them to tell us more about their purpose―their reason for being.

        Can’t make this stuff up, folks.

        1. polecat

          If this is the kind of stuff most of western man/woman/pick-a-gender obsess over, then we are truly, and utterly, doomed !

          … Narcissism on a planet-wide scale …

          where’s a Deathstar when you really need one ?

          1. Hana M.

            I’m not obsessing over it, polecat. I did not watch the Oscars, in fact I’ve never watched the Oscars and haven’t been to a movie in at least three years. I am in finance and know Pricewaterhouse Cooper and find the virtue signaling coupled with their carelessness quite fascinating. It’s not just the Oscar mess, they were part of the failure to properly audit mortgage brokers before and after the credit crisis. PwC and the other Big Four accounting firms all had major clients that failed, were bailed out or were effectively nationalized during the crisis. They let heir credibility to an entire industry that proved dishonest. This was just such a symbolic moment–one in which we see the hypocrisy laid bare in a single, very public moment. Rather fun. .

  11. Alex Morfesis

    FT: trump wto bypass…looks like the vichy french drug dealers and their german overlords are not too happy that lady liberty went to boynton beach for rehab and doesn’t want to work foot patrol anymore for a habit she wants to leave behind…

    As long as Eleanor was alive, the UN and its Bretton Woods offshoots served their original purposes…today, the wto has morphed into what the UN has become…a protection racket for the continued european control of its former colonies (uk, france, spain, Netherlands) with germany hitching a free ride…perfect example is UNESCO…ostensibly french based…but its “in situ” racket for marine archeology…the french are not a signator to the actual treaty they try to impose on the rest of the globe…

  12. cocomaan

    Does anyone else do a CTRL+F for “must read”?

    I find that Yves and her gang tagging things Must Read means a lot to me. Just wondering.

    1. hreik

      Good idea! Is there an easy way to determine if someone responds to your/ my / anyone’s comments? Do you have to do CTRL+ F for “your name”/ “my name” for that?

        1. UserFriendly

          I do too, which takes a bit longer with all the links I submit.

          As far as the must read; I would just do ‘read’ I’ve seen comments with ‘great read’ ‘wonderful read’ ect.

    2. Romancing The Loan

      I often spend more time reading the comments here than the links, but the must-read tag means at least a click through.

  13. Jim Haygood

    The “Trump market rally conundrum” isn’t really a conundrum except to those who think there must be a rational explanation for everything. Whereas Ms Market’s adage is “Never complain; never explain.” It doesn’t have to make sense.

    Outbursts of irrational exuberance remain scarce. Here is one from Morgan Stanley:

    Our metric at the Global Investment Committee is simply the consensus bottom-up 12-month forward earnings estimate divided by the average corporate borrowing rate, for which we use Moody’s Baa yield. Right now that sets our “fair value” measure for the S&P 500 today at 2,833.

    Where to start in shredding this one? Forward earnings estimates are notoriously optimistic, especially at inflection points. When recessions begin, they can be as much as 40 percent too high.

    Today’s Moody’s Baa yield of 4.15% implies a P/E ratio of 24 times forward earnings. But the average value of this measure for the past 10 years has been only 15 times.

    So, take optimistic earnings projections, multiply them by a massively generous 24 times forward P/E ratio, et voila — S&P 2,833! As stock prices march higher, a faux-quantitative rationale emerges to justify them.

    For what it’s worth [not much], my Fibo projection of Dow 22,942 posted here on Dec 5, 2016 is now 10 percent away. It remains plausible, since the always-wrong press has yet to start flogging stocks with “Blue skies ahead” headlines, as they always do just before the bottom drops out. And the good Dr Hussman remains “hard negative.” ;-)

      1. Jim Haygood

        Bubble I (1995-2000) was focused on stocks, while Bubble II (2001-2007) was predominantly a real estate bubble. Bubble III (2008-present) so far has been about stocks, but real estate is catching up.

        Today’s release of the S&P Case-Shiller index noted that US house prices are rising at the fastest annual pace in 30 months — 5.8% year on year. Its broadest national house price index is within 0.5% of its 2006 high, while the urban-focused 20-city composite remains 6.7% short of a fresh record high.

        If Bubble III is to be the Mother of All Bubbles, it would be fitting for stocks and real estate to blow off together in a simultaneous finale. Instead of “Buy everything,” financial pundits can amend their pitch to “Buy anything (you can’t lose).”

        1. L

          Instead of “Buy everything,” financial pundits can amend their pitch to “Buy anything (you can’t lose).”

          You mean like goldbugs?

          1. Jim Haygood

            Six years ago Da Bugs totally ruled the z site. Beating their chests, they would proclaim, “I love these days when gold is down, so I can buy more of it cheaper. Keep on stacking!

            These days, Da Bugs keep a low profile, after the 40 percent shellacking they took from 2011 to 2016. Which prolly means it’s okay to buy.

        2. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Jim.

          I would add to your observation that real estate is catching up that real estate is catching up in many countries, e.g. France, Switzerland, Mauritius, not just the Anglo-Saxon world often referenced on these threads.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I am not sure if real estate will blow off.

            Isn’t it stalling, if not deflating, as of now?

        3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The question is, do bubbles follow the Fibonacci sequence, referring the size?

          Does each subsequent bubble get bigger and bigger, the sizes matching that sequence?

  14. cocomaan

    The New Yorker’s piece on “Did the Oscars Just Show us We’re Living in a Computer Simulation” is meant to be tongue in cheek. But it goes on to list a few things that were “inevitable” but didn’t happen, drawing the strongest comparison between Hillary losing with the Oscar’s screwup, with the runner up being the Pats losing the Super Bowl.

    That folks are relying on failures in popular culture predictions in order to peddle their Simulation Theory nihilistic nonsense is pissing me off. Let’s talk about the culture that produces these screwups:

    A) Predictive analytics is largely bogus and social science in general is wrong more often than meterology (see the Reproducibility crisis)
    B) Technology isn’t doing anything to create efficiencies or enhance livelihoods
    3) People are as lazy and sloppy as ever
    D) Many that read the New Yorker (and a huge portion of the country) are on prescription mood enhancing drugs and are becoming unhinged from reality
    E) Sports don’t matter

    I know, the article was a joke and I shouldn’t get upset. But these are stories about humans and their follies. The Humanities matters more than ever, especially in a higher education system obsessed with careers.

    1. susan the other

      I think we should be talking about red-carpet product placement. ” Lala Land” needed a nod; needed to break even at least.

  15. fresno dan

    Inside the restaurant, I was seated at a table which I had booked hours earlier, directly next to where Trump would be dining. I made the booking based on a tip from a trusted source. I was ready to tell the story no one else would get to see and was personally fascinated to observe how a restaurant prepares for a president — and how Trump interacts when he believes no press are present.

    6:45 PM: Our bacon tower appetizer arrives. Highly recommended.

    7:27 PM: Security becomes less discreet. Armed men in black shirts with dogs sweep the Trump table. The highly trained dogs do not bother any of the diners but sniff where pointed, furiously, in and around where Trump is to dine.**

    8:17 PM: ….. One woman shouts at him “Donald, it’s my birthday!” Trump stops and says “Happy birthday,” as he hugs the elated woman. “How about a birthday present? Let’s take a photo,” he says to her, afterward telling the woman she looks very young and has great skin. ****
    I no longer live near Washington DC, cause I would really have liked to try that bacon tower appetizer – they have a picture of it. :(

    ** I am totally impressed the secret service dogs did not try to gobble up the bacon tower.

    **** [How Trump REALLY won]. I am reminded of how Zero Mostel in “The Producers” got all those old ladies to fund his really, really bad broadway musical. And of course, our MSM COMPLETELY missed the real story….

    1. Pat

      One of the reasons that Booker terrifies me, is that I have seen him in action. That man works a room, and by the end of it most of the people there are putty in his hands. And most of them won’t even realize it was razzle dazzle even later.

    2. polecat

      Those dogs, with a cat or two included … (for diversity’s sake), are waiting patiently for their own table …. complete with fine china ,silk napkins, … and the house silver !

  16. L

    Regarding this piece: What I Heard From Trump Supporters Sam Altman.

    I found these quotes rather telling:

    “Silicon Valley is incredibly unwelcoming to alternative points of view. Your curiosity, if it is sincere, is the very rare exception to the rule.”

    “There is something hypocritical about the left saying the are uniters not dividers, they are inclusive and then excluding half the population with comments on intelligence and irrelevance in the modern world.”

    In many respects it seems that for some the terms “left” with “Silicon Valley A**” is one in the same. Without knowing more about the people interviewed it is hard to say whether this is an expression of personal experience or not but it certainly sounds it.

    Having dealt with people like that I can see the point. If you think that Clinton supporters are just the same self-indulgent and quite frankly dismissive app inventors you see nothing to gain in backing her. Trump is like you. If you see his supporters as the people who kick gravestones you see no reason to support him.

    In that respect we are playing politics by association not policy.

    1. Vatch

      I was disappointed that there was no mention at all of the large number of incompetent or malicious people that Trump has nominated for high office. Did people talk about that in the interviews, and the author just didn’t include that in the article? Or are Trump supporters mostly unaware of who is being installed in cabinet level government positions? Or do they actually like Scott Pruitt, Betsy DeVos, and Steven Mnuchin?

  17. DH

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences may take much more punitive action against an accounting firm about the world-crushing blunder at the end of the Oscars than the SEC and US DoJ took against them for assisting in crushing the world financial system economy in 2008. They are groveling and begging for forgiveness unlike after the financial crisis, presumably because there aren’t millions of people out there who would use that admission of guilt to sue them for destroying their lives.

  18. Jim Haygood

    Con-con blowout:

    Americans are the most confident in the U.S. economy in 15 years, buoyed by the strongest job market in years.

    The survey of consumer confidence rose to 114.8 in February from 111.6 in January, according to the Conference Board, the private company that publishes the index. That’s the highest level since July 2001.

    Ed Yardeni has fashioned a simple coincident indicator using only three series: (1) Conference Board consumer confidence; (2) CRB raw industrial materials spot price index; (3) 4-week average of initial unemployment claims (inverted).

    Yardeni’s index tracks stock prices quite well, though it lacks any stock index input.

  19. cm

    Regarding The intolerance of the left: Trump’s win as seen from Walt Disney’s hometown (Sid S) Thomas Frank, Guardian. Important — I don’t know if the editors forced him to alter his article, but his conclusion completely invalidates the entirety of the piece:

    And these days, as I pass Trump sign after Trump sign, I wonder what has made so many of Truman’s people cast their lot with this blustering would-be caudillo.

    After spending barrels of ink describing the complete gutting of rural Missouri. It is obvious in the interviews that the citizens were simply voting for change. Bozo the clown could have run against Hillary and they would have still voted against her.

    Also, the word “Sanders” does not appear in the article.

    He also states:

    there was a time when hard times and despair drove people to the left.

    inferring that Hillary was somehow Left.

    This is not an “important” article except as an exercise in the further incompetence and/or malice of the press.

    1. uncle tungsten

      Nothing the Guardian publishes is important or interesting / perhaps “vaguely interesting” might stretch it too far. They have been consistently HRC shills and in 2016, Bernie may as well have been running for some Tasmanian parliament.

      They appear to me to be part of the global press mindset that only exists to denigrate, deny, confuse and dismiss any socialist thought.

      1. Jay M

        Robot conversation:
        A: Got my tax bill today.
        B: You realize the military expenditures violate the first law?
        A: Feel like walking from this gig.
        B: To bad we are bolted to the floor.

  20. ScottW

    The Frank and Altman articles are interesting, but unsurprising. Small towns that don’t have a University, prison or hospital are doing poorly. The one thing most are missing is the closed manufacturing plant. Anyone paying half-attention understands our economy is predicated on finance, the medical and security industries, with a smattering of high-tech and manufacturing jobs (mostly defense/drug related) for good measure. The remainder are in the low paying service industry. Altman’s quotes from Trump supporters are predictable in that they offer no tangible policies. People are correctly understand the Democrats have neglected them for decades.

    What is always missing in these type of articles are any tangible policy suggestions. Do people in small towns support single payer healthcare? Do they support debt-free higher education and an increase in the minimum wage? What do they think about a living wage with real benefits? Are they behind improving our infrastructure. What specific economic policies do they believe must be enacted to “make America great again?”

    My hunch is their support for progressive economic policies is less than the liberal urban elite. One Trump supporter concluded Bernie would never get elected and my belief is Bernie would have a very hard time winning Missouri, although he would do better than Hillary. My relatives from Missouri were not the folks who believed in anything very progressive.

    I think the listening tour be undertaken in rural areas is important, but it is necessary to move forward discussing real solutions and what the policies those people really support. Complaining is easy. Real solutions are much more difficult.

    1. polecat

      I have to note that, in our small town, those working at the local college, hospital, prison (not too far away as the crow flies), AND LOCAL GOV. are doing GREAT …. !!

      It’s everyone else that can barely afford to pay their demanded fees, rents, and taxes, who are in distress …. which is, in my humble estimation, approx. 80 % of the citizens residing here ….

      Oh … and as a lucky bonus, the Japanese owned paper mill has just closed (except for those fewrunning the co-gen portion of the mil), and is up for sale … putting even MORE stress on our little burg …..
      Hoping some of those expatriated Chinese come our way.
      we be fucked ! …

    2. Lynne

      These articles annoy me a great deal lately. Consider this quote: “Many of them chose Trump, despite his vulgarity and his big-city ways, because he promised to make them “great again”.”

      Sorry, but that to me just proves that the author STILL doesn’t get it. He still considers Trump voters to be rubes, falling for Trump’s promise to make them great again. He does not understand that to many of us, Clinton and the Democrats are among the reasons we are NOT great. All the talk about consolidation and Big Ag: who does he think was president during the huge consolidation? Hint: the guy whose wife made money with fake trades. Who was president when the USDA pushed Big Chemical, requiring farmers to pour gallons and gallons of chemicals on the land? Hint: the guy whose wife was running against Trump. Who refused to go after Wall Street and the bankers who bled us dry? Hint: the party and president who chose instead to bail out the crooks and protect them at the expense of everyone else. Who continues to support insurance companies making a mockery of health care? Both parties, INCLUDING Hillary. The author cannot understand that the visceral hatred of Hillary Clinton had to do with HER and HER policies, not hicks who can’t stand women.


    1. polecat

      He should’ve declared, at the convention, his intention to start a new party, once it became apparent the DNC Clintonites were screwing him six ways to Sunday, walking out with his supporters, never to look back !! It couldn’t have been any worse than what occurred with his eventual latch on to the shit-spewing Clinton Bus, having to eat crow !

      He had the Bro/Sis’mentum !

  21. JohnnyGL

    Is Trump about to buy off the ‘Black Misleadership Class’ on the cheap right from under the Dems’ noses?

    Chris Arnade has repeatedly mentioned that he smelled an opening for Trump among working-class blacks.

    I suspect it won’t take much wooing to win over the black elites. They’ve got a track record of cozying up to power and the Dems don’t have it. Trump does. Those elites are useful for Trump from a PR perspective to grab some headlines, counter the ‘Trump’s a racist’ narrative, and plus, the black elites can still deliver substantial votes in crucial spots, electorally. Trump might yet tighten his grip on the rust belt swing states with a move like this.

    And the kicker is that he’ll barely even have to do much to pull it off because Dems have treated their base so badly over decades!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It seems inevitable, if the D party has to decide, based on their own preferred neoliberal electoral strategy, between their two largest minority groups.,,one’s number has grown rapidly the past few decades and is or was projected to grow even more (“We cater to those with more votes”).

      Possible historical were Trump able to pull this seismic schism off…would it be like the Greek Orthodox Church breaking off from Rome?

    2. Dita

      I can see working class blacks motivating for Trump. Admittedly anecdotal but still telling perhaps is that a few of my regular restaurant haunts have lost kitchen staff – and who replaced them? Black Americans. Kind of exposes the supposed truism that “[illegal] immigrants take the jobs Americans don’t want to do” for the wage slashing flimflam that it is.

  22. Andrew Watts

    Ahh! Too many good links today.

    RE: Democrat Propaganda Group Shareblue Has Ties To Chinese Government, Host Of Foreign Special Interests

    Nothing has changed. In ’96 the DNC had a funding raising scandal where the Clinton-Gore campaign was discovered to have taken illegal campaign contributions from countries like China.

    It’s good that nobody went to jail for that so the racket could march on. /sarc

    RE: Pentagon delivers draft plan to defeat Islamic State to White House

    The Obama administration spent almost eight months not making any decisions. They must’ve had a lot of really important meetings. Guess what the Islamic State was doing? Plotting more attacks in Europe and finalizing their plans for succession after Mosul/Raqqa.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Democrats and China…

      China benefits a lot, as in a lot, from scotching a less hostile US-Russia relationship.

      That is something to keep in mind amidst the ‘renewed Russian invasion.’

      “Long live Mao-Zhou-Nixon-Kissinger. It is always and forever the US and China vs. the USSR.”

      1. Andrew Watts

        It’d be in China’s interest to do exactly that. The Russians draw the short straw in any partnership between Russia and China. They can divert, or at least dilute, any hostile attention away from their interests/plans as a rising world power.

        The whole empire of bases is facing stretched supply lines as it is and that’s gotta encourage any member of the Chinese military preparing for a less than theoretical war against the US. Especially if they enjoy playing Go… or ‘War’ as it’s called in Mandarin.

  23. Edward E

    When winter finally arrives General Robert E Lee won’t have to worry so much about marijuana expansion. Hope it whacks the kudzu too! Dubya is the new voice of reason… now if anybody can spot crazy it would be him.

  24. Andrew Watts

    RE: The CIA Is One of the Main Peddlers of Fake News

    It’s not like Langley deliberately spreads misinformation/disinformation inside the government that eventually goes directly to the president. Just kidding, this is the CIA we’re talking about.

    “For eight years, from 1986 – 1994, the senior CIA officers responsible for these reports had known that some of their sources were controlled by Russian intelligence. The agency knowingly gave the White House information manipulated by Moscow – and deliberately concealed the fact. To reveal that it had been delivering misinformation and disinformation would have been too embarrassing. Ninety-five of these tainted reports warped American perceptions of the major military and political developments in Moscow. Eleven of the reports went directly to Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Clinton. They distorted and diminished America’s ability to understand what was going on in Moscow.” -Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes

    Some things never change.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Combining I-Jing (the Book of Change) with Dao De Jing, we might get this: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (The more it changes, the more it’s the same thing).

      That is, change is no change.

  25. Dave

    Re The Jobs Americans Do

    Like meatpacking? Once a unionized high paying job that allowed an American with no college to own a house and raise a couple of kids. How to bust the unions and hammer the wages down? “Refugees”

    “Every day at 2 p.m., Ruhatijuru Sebatutsi, a Congolese refugee, rides a bus from outside Columbus, Ohio, where he lives with his wife and eight children, ”
    “SugarCreek is one of many meatpacking businesses nationwide that have turned to refugees. Last spring, the company approached Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), a Columbus refugee- resettlement agency. “They needed people,” said CRIS’s Marcus Gorman, who arranges employment for the newly resettled. “They had a lot of opportunities for entry-level workers, and they were accustomed to working with folks that spoke little to no English.”

    One white male in their list of ten. Guess we don’t really exist in their worldview at the New York Times. Journalistic shit like this makes me glad I voted for Trump and guarantees his re-election.
    Keep posting it.

    1. b1daly

      Tough times for the white male, huh?

      I fail to see how this makes voting for Trump a good choice for President. I guess he is a white male. So there’s that

      1. mk

        sometimes you vote against someone and NOT FOR the other, sometimes there are no GOOD choices.

      2. Eclair

        “I fail to see how this makes voting for Trump a good choice for President.”

        Maybe because of all the statements he made about ‘protecting our borders,’ deporting ‘illegal’ immigrants, stopping the flow of refugees, etc. I have family members, white males, who I consider to be racist. They are angry because their wages have been stagnant for decades. They have been encouraged (by certain media outlets) to turn their anger against the black/brown/immigrant folk who are ‘willing to work for low wages.’ And, it is certainly undeniable that our policies have, if not encouraged, at least turned a blind eye, to the flow of millions of undocumented workers from the South.

        Our elites have once again succeeded in turning members of the working class against each other. We’ll be killing each other for pennies down in the mud while our overlords are laughing uproariously over champaign in their second (and third) homes in Aspen and Mar-a-Lago.

  26. Beli Tsari

    Elaine Chao & autonomous vehicles… a scary combination. I’d noticed tree-shaking on Nividia stock, but figured Trump voters were ignoring this sector, until self driving CNG microturbine hybrid Volvo trucks started passing their Maybach or Maserati in heavy traffic? Brings a whole new perspective to the trolley problem (hit the poorer, darker, less well attired person) hijacking, rendition, surveillance or assassination through backdoor rootkits. Autonomous asset forfeiture, if the vehicle senses any crime is contemplated, could free-up law enforcement?

  27. Vatch

    Trump to propose 24 percent cut in EPA spending: reports The Hill (UserFriendly)

    I finally got around to reading this article. If I had any doubt that Trump is already one of the worst U.S. Presidents, that doubt is now dispelled. The article begins:

    The Trump administration plans to propose a one-forth [sic] cut to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget, a plan that would end up laying off 20 percent of the agency’s staffers, according to reports.

    Trump officials will propose a $6.1 billion budget for the EPA next year, a $2 billion cut from current levels, according to reports in E&E News and Politico, citing sources.

    The agency’s staffing levels would fall to 12,000 workers, from 15,000 currently, according to the reports.

    We already know that pollution enforcement has been lagging for a long time in the U.S. (lead poisoned water in Flint, Michigan, and elsewhere; fecal waste from factory farms in many states; earthquakes from fracking in Oklahoma; etc.). If this budget passes, all of this will become significantly worse.

    1. cm

      If only another branch of the government controlled the purse strings…

      In other words, who cares about Trump’s proposed budget?

      1. jrs

        oh good the Republican congress will protect us from the 24% cut in the EPA /s.

        Yes Congress might push for it even without Trump (and if we had a president that was against it they could also veto that – look even Hillary might veto it frankly even though she’s not a great friend of the environment), but with Trump proposing it and an R congress, it’s as much as a sure thing.

        Trump will create jobs, eh only if the jobs happen to serve his agenda, he’ll actively destroy jobs that won’t (firing people). I guess we need to start talking about NET jobs, jobs that might be created versus jobs that will be destroyed and if there will be any net positive jobs created by Trump.

        1. cm

          Sorry, I didn’t explain this clearly enough.

          The Executive Branch (Trump) doesn’t matter since the Legislative Branch (Congress) dictates the budget.

          I don’t understand your point about Hillary.

          1. Vatch

            Yes, in theory the budget begins in the House of Representatives. But, . . . .


            The Budget of the United States Government often begins as the President’s proposal to the U.S. Congress which recommends funding levels for the next fiscal year, beginning October 1 and ending on September 30 of the year following. The fiscal year is named for the year in which it ends. However, Congress is the body required by law to pass appropriations annually and to submit funding bills passed by both houses to the President for signature. Congressional decisions are governed by rules and legislation regarding the federal budget process. Budget committees set spending limits for the House and Senate committees and for Appropriations subcommittees, which then approve individual appropriations bills to allocate funding to various federal programs.

            And as jrs implied, the Republican House of Representatives presided over by Paul Ryan, and the Senate dominated by Mitch McConnell, are salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs for the chance to slash the EPA’s budget. Trump is making it easy for them.

  28. Oregoncharles

    ” Goodwill in Brussels is critical if Britain wants a green light for deals with the U.S., Canada, India and South Korea. “May has cornered herself … The EU will hold all the cards,” said a senior WTO official.”

    First: this is why May needs Trump so desperately. The WTO is ultimately a US cats-paw.

    2nd: look at that list of supposedly sovereign nations. They’re going to just say “Oh, well” when the EU tries to muscle them? What this could actually do is blow up the WTO – and good riddance.

    Obviously this is a very real difficulty for Britain, unless they and the US really are willing to blow up the WTO. But that is an option.

    The emphasis on “trade agreements” remains puzzling to me. These are a very new thing; the world traded successfully without them for longer than there’ve been civilizations. And they’re mostly a negative, from a left or progressive point of view.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, the WTO is most definitely NOT controlled by the US. Stop spreading disinformation. For starters, it isn’t even located in DC the way our pet international agencies are (the IMF and the World Bank). It’s in Geneva.

      And it operates largely by consensus, which means smaller countries can and do stymie negotiations.

      The WTO describes itself as “a rules-based, member-driven organization—all decisions are made by the member governments, and the rules are the outcome of negotiations among members”.[57] The WTO Agreement foresees votes where consensus cannot be reached, but the practice of consensus dominates the process of decision-making.[58]

      Why would Trump be wanting to circumvent the WTO if it was our toy? Lordie.

      1. Oregoncharles

        OK, I stand corrected on that point; the effect of a consensus-based system is that any member has a veto. That’s what stopped progress toward the Washington Consensus – a number of countries just refused to agree. I don’t know whether a vote was held.

        What I don’t think we know, and the article doesn’t say, is how new members (eg, Britain) join or how those licenses are issued. Is it a purely bureaucratic process? That would make sense. An EU attempt to block it would then be very conspicuous. The EU is represented as a single entity, with only one vote or veto. That’s why Britain has to apply. But that means the EU is effectively co-equal with Qatar.

        It’s against the interest of most other countries to exclude Britain, especially the Commonwealth countries, which there are a lot of, many quite important: Canada, Australia, India, and so on. Then there’s the US. If the EU maliciously (and the malice will be very obvious) tries to block Britain’s entry, it will cause a major stink. I’ve no idea how that will work out, and neither does whoever wrote the article – they don’t even mention it.

        Again: I can see that being a major difficulty for Britain, but not nearly as one-sided as the article implies, unless the EU is perfectly willing to offend everyone else. Since the WTO is the foundation of corporate globalization, I don’t object to seeing it come apart at the seams; but I suspect the EU would indeed object to that.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          We discussed that the Director-General of the WTO repeatedly warned the UK that it was not going to be able to jump the queue ahead of other countries or get extra resources devoted to it, and that any WTO deal is basically negotiated from the ground up, there’s no such thing as reliance on analogues, like its deal as part of the EU.

          The Director-General further pointed out

          1. The WTO could not start negotiating with the UK until the UK is out of the EU, since the EU agreements prohibit members entering into independent trade agreements

          2. A recently-completed agreement with Russia took IIRC nine or ten years including the time to obtain the needed member approvals and it wasn’t terribly contentious.

  29. JTFaraday

    re: The intolerance of the left: Trump’s win as seen from Walt Disney’s hometown (Sid S) Thomas Frank, Guardian. “Important.”
    What I Heard From Trump Supporters Sam Altman. “Lambert flagged this in Water Cooler yesterday, and in case you didn’t see it, this is a must read.”

    I see some contradictions between these two must reads. I’m inclined to say that Thomas Frank is bullshitting, in the Harry Frankfort sense of the term. ie., he has ideological ax to grind and no longer has any regard for the truth about attitudes on the right. The soft focus here is really annoying.

    I’m inclined to agree with many of the criticisms made of liberals in the Sam Altman piece, and also think that allowing the Trumpertantrums to represent themselves in their own words rips the filmy gauze off Thomas Frank’s bullshit.

    So, a useful juxtaposition.

    I eagerly await everyone’s sensitive road trip to Hillary’s side of town.

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