Links 2/5/17

Readers, the number of links is a little excessive, even though I’ve filtered on things that Trump might do, and gaslighting/clickbait generally (“terrifying” in the headline is a good indication). Too much going on! –lambert

A history of dark matter Ars Technica (CL). As in so many eco-disaster SF novels, wonderful science is being done in the midst of the chaos and collapse….

Deadly new wheat disease threatens Europe’s crops Nature

Federal Court Basically Says It’s Okay To Copyright Parts Of Our Laws TechDirt

Romanian Government Backs Down on Graft Decree Amid Protests Bloomberg

A CEO’s tale: How demonetisation halved the profits of a multinational company that used no cash The Scroll (J-LS).

Artificial Intelligence Goes All-in …on Texas Hold’em WSJ

LG 5K display must be kept at least 2 meters away from Wi-Fi routers Ars Technica. Maybe Apple outsourcing monitors wasn’t such a great idea…


Iran Carries Out Military Drills as Standoff With U.S. Heats Up WSJ

The Empty Threat Against Iran – National Security Advisor Flynn Embarrasses Himself Moon of Alabama

The Dangers of Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons The Diplomat

Trump, Poroshenko Discuss Ukraine Conflict, Call for Cease-Fire Bloomberg


James Mattis reaffirms US’s Asia policy FT

China Assails U.S. Pledge to Defend Disputed Islands Controlled by Japan NYT

Asian banks unwilling to give up London as Brexit looms… at least for now South China Morning Post (J-LS).

Game-changers ahead on the (long) Maritime Silk Road Asia Times

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

The FBI Is Building A National Watchlist That Gives Companies Real Time Updates on Employees The Intercept

Our Famously Free Press

Chill, America. Not every Trump outrage is outrageous WaPo. “Still furious over the outcome of the election, Trump’s critics seize on every move as if there is a Watergate moment to be found if only they look hard enough. But even Nixon didn’t fall to a sudden scandal: He was a deeply consequential president who governed his way to a reelection landslide before his eventual resignation.”

Russian tech exec sues Buzzfeed for publishing unverified Trump dossier CNN. “Within hours of the lawsuit’s filing, BuzzFeed blacked out the name of Aleksej Gubarev in the dossier on its site and apologized.”

The Three Most Believed Fake News Stories of the Election (Tested by Stanford) Favored Hillary emptywheel

Tweeting Out Falsehoods Isn’t OK Just Because It Makes Trump Look Bad Michael Tracey

Trump slammed the Berkeley protesters. One responded by building a news app with his roommate. WaPo. This one app will shock you! Surprisingly, the app itself is useful: It’s about delivering primary sources from the White House. Since press coverage of Trump has, with rare exceptions, been focused on building clicks rather than sober reporting, primary sources are always useful as a check.

Me, Me, Me, Me, Me Frank Bruni, NYT. Fun, but really, I can get stuff like this at Kos for free. I understand that the Times has economic imperatives, but still…

Trump Transition

Climate Science Denial Shifts to a New Tactic Among Trump Appointees Jeff Masters, Wunderblog

Get Ready, Supreme Court Fans. Brush Up on Your Chevron Doctrine. Bloomberg

Trump defends ‘killer’ Putin: ‘You think our country’s so innocent?’ The Hill. And: “[TRUMP:] There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers.” Clinton: “We came. We saw. He died.” Obama: “[I’m] really good at killing people.” But this time, cue the hysteria. And By Criticizing This Liberals Look Like Fools Ian Welsh. “[Trump] [1] lies a lot, yes, but he [2] tells truths that no one else is willing to say, and he has, so far, [3] kept his high profile promises.” All the yammering is on point [1]. But points [2] and point [3] are more important. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that clickbait on [1] is easy for lazy people to generate. But [2] requires work; truth-telling always does, like it or not. And evaluating [3] requires actual reporting and analysis; more work. Once more: Do not underestimate Trump!

White House Pulls Back From Bid to Reopen C.I.A. ‘Black Site’ Prisons Charles Savage, NYT

Act One, Scene One LRB

* * *

Justice Department files notice to appeal judge’s ruling blocking immigration ban McClatchy

The Latest: Trump Appeal: Aliens Lack Constitutional Rights NYT. Wrap-up of the day’s events.

The little-noticed bombshell in Trump’s immigration order Politico. Useful despite the sexed-up headline.

* * *

Capturing the Energy of the Left WNYC. No, not the usual Democrat decapitation story…

The Left Needs to Be a Movement, Not a Bunch of Lobbyists Counterpunch (Furzy Mouse).

Democrats would be smart to embrace Keith Ellison as DNC chair Vox. Matty throws in the towel. And if Ellison wins, the first thing to say to the Democrat Establishment is: “That’s nice, but what have you done for us lately?”

* * *

How Stephen Miller’s Rise Explains the Trump White House The Atlantic. Given the givens, I’m discounting access journalism at nearly 100%, but this seems well-researched.

Should business collaborate with Donald Trump or resist? Gillian Tett, FT

The case against the American Constitution Ryan Cooper, The Week (Furzy Mouse).

It would be incredibly difficult for California to pull off a ‘Calexit’ and secede from the US Business Insider.

Will Lady Gaga Take on Trump at the Super Bowl? Place Your Bets! WSJ

Scientists Now Know Exactly How Lead Got Into Flint’s Water Smithsonian. Infrastructure!

Don’t Neglect `Invisible Infrastructure’ Bloomberg. Wireless. More infrastructure. Personally, I’d make every US Post Office the site for free municipal WiFi as a universal benefit, but that’s just me.

Class Warfare

MTV News staff votes to unionize under Writers Guild of America, East Los Angeles Times

Why We Need a Federal Job Guarantee Jacobin. Awesome.

There’s a Huge Gap Between American Economic Hopes and Reality Bloomberg

Women, Race & Wealth Samuel Dubois Cook Center on Social Equity, Duke University

Bourgeois Feminist Bullsh*t Current Affairs

Intra-Elite Competition: A Key Concept for Understanding the Dynamics of Complex Societies Cliodynamica

The end is nigh and plutocrats are on the run FT. How come it’s only squillionaires who can get second passports? Why no mass market? Where’s “Mr. Lee’s Greater Hong Kong”?

Gangsters and ‘slaves’: The people cleaning up Fukushima Al Jazeera (Integer).

Against Willpower Nautilus. Highly relevant to “deaths from despair” a la Case-Deaton.

Football ‘literally killed’ a 24-year-old Iowan. His family vows to make the sport safer. Des Moines Register

How America Lost Its Identity Der Spiegel. Another in the “road trip” genre; starts in Burlington, VT. Et ego in the Beltway:

Among Trump’s most popular tirades is the one about how American airports are “like from a Third World country.” And he’s right. American streets are full of holes, its airports exude 1970s charm and every couple of weeks, a tree falls onto the overhead power lines resulting in hourslong outages. Today’s America is simultaneously the country of the iPhone and the country of potholes; it isn’t just coated by the gloss of the future, but also by the musty odor of the past.

In the four years that I lived in Washington, D.C., I had to replace the tires on my car three times. The first occasion was after I drove through a giant pothole that frost had bored into a park road. The second was the result of construction workers leaving nails behind on a thoroughfare they had been working on. The third set was ruined by sharp chunks of metal that had been lying about on a street for several weeks. The situation is so bad that drivers in Washington, D.C., can submit pothole damage claims to get their money back.

In his speeches, Donald Trump addresses this impression of community dysfunction — and it is one that can be observed everywhere you go.

You can see why “America is already great” didn’t resonate with more than a small, and very privileged, segment of the population, given that the rot has reached so high that even a Der Speigel reporter based in the Beltway can see it. “[T]ruths that no one else is willing to say….”

Antidote du jour:

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. fresno dan

    Trump defends ‘killer’ Putin: ‘You think our country’s so innocent?’

    President Trump seemed to give Russian President Vladimir Putin a pass on state-sanctioned murder in a TV interview that will air Sunday afternoon.

    Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly asked Trump why he respects Putin given that Putin’s “a killer,” and got this answer from the president:

    “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our country’s so innocent?”
    Astounding. In my view, the truest words and most important words spoken by a president in decades. Trump just attacked THE most politically correct thing in America – far above attacking McCain or Gold Star families. And he did it on Fox – I would be interested to know what O’Reilly said…
    It is a fairy tail held by both sides, but I doubt most people in fly over country, or the country as a whole, are that naive.
    Will the libruals double down on their defense of the CIA?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Invisible infrastructure.

        In this case, invisible killings…like being nagged by someone for 10, 20, 30 or more years, shortening one’s expected life span.

        Thus, we have to count deaths caused by exporting GM foods, pesticides of the green evolution, the popularizing globally of the idea of Standard American Diet, etc.

        And we will never know how lives could have been saved had the best and brightest stayed in their native countries, instead of helping to fill out our ever-sprawling suburbia. We do suck in the best and brightest (and healthiest), don’t we?

        Do you think we issue H1B visas to learning disabled foreigners? Or trash collecting untouchables?

    1. Pavel

      Can someone provide a body count of the USA vs that of Russia over the last 30 years?

      Russia had a skirmish in Georgia and (I suppose) the Crimea and now Syria.

      Compare and contrast with:

      –[Grenada, Panama, and all those peskie Caribbean countries]
      –Iraq (under Bush père, WJC, GWB, Obama)
      –Afghanistan, Pakistan
      –Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia…

      You all get the idea.

      1. fresno dan

        February 5, 2017 at 9:29 am

        And of course, and I believe you have pointed this out, all the secret overthrow of countries or manipulation of their policies. The US reminds me of all those 70’s televangelists, holier than thou, but f*cking like rabbits.

        1. craazyman

          Back at the Frat House we’d come home from the bars and keg parties, loaded with beer, grain alcohol and bounteous numbers of bong hits and watch Ernest Angley on the tube. Hahahaha. OUT EVULLL SPEERITS! He’d bang some dude on the head and that woould be that.

          Ernest Angley! The dude. LOL, He was best drunk and on reefer.

          Then there was Jim and Tammy Fae. Whoa! Talk aboout Power Jesus. Talk about the dark side of the American moon. The Catholics would never do that but they would behind the curtain and with hubris. haaa. Fukkin A. Look at the lawsuits. I mean really. Jesus? Puh-leeeze. But there wasa sometthing about both of them that I think even Alex de Tocquville would have recognized. There was a little Tammy Fae in Hillary. No lie! There was. There is. No past tense! Maybe we’ll see more of it.

          It was a distillation of something in us all. No lie. If we’re Americans. It’s in us. Don’t fool yourselves with high and mighty self regard. Gnothi seuton.

      2. HBE

        20 million post world war II has been the number floating around for a few years. I would say once you include the indirect aspects; selling arms to countries while they are in mid genocide (Timor among others), implementing sanctions on life saving supplies when you know that it will kill large numbers (Iraq), acts of economic war that leave whole countries destabilized, and you actual wars, proxy or otherwise which are guided by the US’s guiding hand.

        20 million seems to be fairly accurate, while you might disagree with methodology, just rough estimates get you fairly close to 20 million anyways.

        1. Ignim Brites

          Why limit the calculation to Post WWII? Was the slaughter in the Pacific and Europe absolutely necessary? Why was unconditional surrender of Germany and Japan required?

          1. Petter

            Why was unconditional surrender of Germany and Japan required?

            Because that’s what losers are required to do???

            1. Stelios Theoharidis

              You guys are silly. Many of you are clearly incapable of doing a full accounting. Especially when it comes to body counts. And, it only makes you look like a politically motivated accountant.

              The Russians and the US have both been the major exporters of arms across the world in the 20th century as well as the major supporters of various authoritarian rulers across the world. The Russians have often maintained support for the regimes that the US has not supported and vice versa. What you basically have to do is count both the conflicts that each country has entered into as well as the damage inflicted by the authoritarian regimes that each has supported. Had the Russians or the US not supported the authoritarian regimes then the outcome would have certainly been different. But, it is impossible to do a objective counterfactual so you just have to do a net body count.



              What you will find is that after the conflicts and the authoritarian regime support, both countries have a significant amount of blood on their hands. It really depends on what type of time frame that you utilize for the analysis more than any other factor. You can cherry-pick based upon time frame by including or not including the major conflicts that each country has entered or supported.

              If you go into more recent history the US you have to account for the decline of Russia as a power and the growth of the US into a relatively uncontested military force in the world. But, you would probably have to account for the dispersal of weapons formerly from the Russian state in the black market as well to fuel various conflicts across Africa. While it wasn’t necessarily the Russian state, it was the collapse of it that facilitated illicit arms transfers. If you do a long time frame you have to account for the Russian brutality and mass starvation of various eastern European and Russian peoples before, during, and after WWII.

              We generally see what we want to see to confirm our own biases. Neither country is a force for good in the world. Most of our interventions have been foolish, brutal, and based largely upon ideological threats that were perceived and implicit support of our military industrial complexes rather than actual threats posed by brown foreigners thousands of miles away from our borders.

              1. JTMcPhee

                I kind of think that was Trump’s point. Empires and Great States and Not So Great States (Belgium, eg) staff up their field forces and political leadership and “statecraft” structures with people just too happy to shed other people’s blood in large quantities. mostly for a buck but also because it is so much fun..

            2. ook

              No, negotiating terms of surrender is normal. Unconditional surrender is unusual, and arguably counterproductive in terms of ending a war quickly and with minimal casualties.

              1. Procopius

                Yes, there was a lot of discussion after WWII whether it was a mistake to demand unconditional surrender. Certainly the case was made that it made the Japanese fight longer. Basically it was justified by referring to the German Dolchstosslegende — the Stab In The Back claim after WW!, which said the civilian politicians had stabbed the military in the back, preventing them from winning. Kind of like the right wing claims we could have won in Vietnam if only the civilians had let the military do their job (we wouldn’t). It was decided by top policy makers that this time it would be necessary to make the Germans acknowledge that they were really, truly beaten. Then the policy was applied to the Japanese without much thought. Heck, there was even serious thought given to de-industrializing Germany, turning them into a completely agricultural economy. Luckily fear of Communism ended that fantasy.

      3. Bill

        Guess what Pavel? “Vietnam” no longer falls within “the last 30 years” !

        Picky I know, but time flies, I was there in ’66, 41 years ago. Ten years later, it was over.

        1. RabidGandhi

          I was going to point that out too, than I calculated all the unexploded orndance in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, plus the horrible cancerous effects of Agent Orange et al., plus the effects of the economic sanctions against Vietnam… and that most likely far outweighs what the Russians achieved in Georgia, Chechnya and Syria.

          1. Isolato

            In the 1990s I traveled to Angola to cover the work of CARE there in demining the countryside. Angola then had the highest number of traumatic amputees in the world and an estimated 10 million unexploded anti-personnel mines. These devices are purposely designed NOT to kill, but to maim, and for the cruelest reasons only a demon could conceive of. They cost $3 to manufacture. It costs about $1000 to dig them up.

            The outcry was so great (and thank you Princess Diana!) that an international treaty to ban these weapons was signed in Canada in Ottawa in 1997. Guess which country refused to sign?

            Yeah, we are good at killing “folks”

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Is there anything, any idea that anyone can put forth that will ensure we, or another nation (our primary responsibility should not be us only) will never again kill folks?

              Or am I tilling at windmills?

              1. JTMcPhee

                Examine the nature of humanity as displayed by every observation by every discipline that catalogs such behaviors over the last what, 10,000 years, and look at all the humans today whose “living” comes from killing people. Not just the MIC, but Big Pharm, Monsanto/Dow/Etc., auto manufacturers, on and on…

                “That is one beeeg windmill you are aimeeeng yore lance at, Don Quixote…”

      4. ChiGal in Carolina

        Small reality check: Chechnya, Afghanistan (Tajikistan), and multiple lesser (including ongoing) conflicts with various ethnic attempts at self-determination, per Wikipedia.

        I have a Latvian-American friend who when I mocked the “Russians are coming” hysteria said for her that is a real fear. She was steeped in the culture and language growing up in a Latvian community in Minnesota.

        All imperialist aggression is ugly. And yes, it’s nice to hear ours named. I doubt his having done so will prevent Trump from continuing in the same vein. After all, it is just bullying writ large, and he is nothing if not a bully.

        1. Elasmo Branch

          Thank you. I would add Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Russia’s support of Serbia in Bosnia-Herzegovina to the list, but only to support a balance-of-power stability view of the world. To subordinate US interests to the Russo fiduciary interests of Exxon and the First Brood may benefit in the short term, is folly. Although, one might believe this Russian rapprochement has more to do with past FCPA violations involving the Middle Kingdom and possible future unpleasantness.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s important to keep notes for history.

          What the president said should be a significant first step. Maybe a starting point for many school homework assignments.

          “You together have to force change. No one person can do it alone.”

          1. NYPaul

            Born in Russia, I (my family) emigrated to the U.S. in the early 1950’s.

            My mother, having a good sense of anti-Russian sentiment at the time (“The Red Scare”) pounded into my brother’s and my heads that we were Americans now, and forbid us from speaking Russian, even at home. She wanted us to lose our accents as quickly as possible. Good move, my sixth grade teacher, as part of the American History curriculum, had us write an essay, “What it means to be an American.” She instructed us to incorporate into the essay, and explain, the meaning of/in the following topics:

            The Star Bangled Banner
            The Pledge of Allegiance

            Finishing with:

            “My country, right or wrong”
            and (love it)

            “Might makes right”

            11 years old, and, I was ready to join the Marine Corps.

      5. NotSoSure

        Ah but if you include the Stalin era, you can add A LOT of dead Russians to the tally. I guess it depends on how far back you want to look. Here’s the thing though: at least the Russians weren’t as hypocritical.

        1. EndOfTheWorld

          Joe Stalin definitely mowed down some folks. He had one army sergeant whose job consisted of shooting people all day every day. Eight hour a day firing squad.

          I got this from a good biography of Stalin I read a few years ago. The author gleaned a lot of info from the voluminous written correspondence they had due to a poor phone system.

          Stalin had a habit of sleeping on a different couch in his big house every night so if somebody wanted to kill him they wouldn’t know where he was.

    2. OIFVet

      LOL, turns out that American Exceptionalism is malodorous! Not that most of us here didn’t already know that, but it really is astounding for president to say it. Noy that American meddling will cease under Trump, but it might not always be served to the public with a side of diabetes-inducing syrupy paens about freedumb, democracy, and apple pie. I am mildly grateful for that unexpected bit of realism and frankness.

    3. ScottW

      Interesting take by Jeremy Scahill concerning Trump’s statement: “Takeaway from Trump is not that he is wrong about US engaging in mass killing. It is that he likes it and views it as acceptable, preferable”

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          Which seems like a good thing, until you remember that even hollow words say something about a nation’s aspirations.

          What was singular about the Third Reich was not the death and destruction inflicted on the Other, but that this was elevated to a state goal.

      1. marym

        This seems correct based on the portion of the interview that’s circulating; and on Trump’s presidency so far. He would like to partner with Putin in furthering the killing currently known as “fighting ISIS” and he continues the killing elsewhere.

        1. witters

          ‘Currently known as “fighting ISIS”. So what is it really? Vicious unprovoked assault on secularist feminist LGBT animal lovers and ecologists generously funded by our allies the Humanist Absolute Monarchies of the Gulf?

          1. duck1

            butterflies will not fly that create new Enlightenment in northern europe . . . there will be less energy to burn

    4. Sam

      Funny how Trump never refers to America’s murderous history when he’s discussing Mexico.

      I guess that’s Obama’s fault, too.

      1. kees_popinga

        Prof. Juan Cole has a post today using Trump’s “America’s not so innocent” line as a lead-in to a rant about Dylan Roof and other imagined Trump supporters. “I would like to point out that we do know who murders in the United States,” Cole writes (and it’s not Obama or Clinton). Cole has complained about death by drone, etc, but since it’s Trump speaking truth here, it must be about the racism of the “bubbas.”

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        After Obama, the Nobel Peace committee might want to come up with a new, different award.

      1. mundanomaniac

        and after nomination, election, Inauguration, now the game for the state
        which has been formed past 1945 by a new time and the tool found in the generation
        fight for a state, and a people, to be picked up, where it’s at

        China, Iran… – he is no ideologue, he is a Lion = a Gambler, for the collective
        American family with a pragmatic Twin – heart in the planetary game.

        His partner in contradiction might be the spirit of the continent in American natives and the lot of humble ‘fly-overs’.

        He is for the first: America without perfumed veils – an antidote for the planetary
        hypocrisy, whom nobody expected.

    5. Allegorio

      Barry Obama: “It turns out I am good at killing.”. “We came, we saw, he died”, cackle. Q.E.D.

  2. Bryan Sean McKown

    “Justice Department Files Notice to Appeal ….”

    The Ninth Circuit (Friedland and Canby) have already denied the DOJ’s Motion for an (immediate) Stay of Judge Robart’s Order pending appeal. However, the Court has set a very tight briefing schedule for a more substantive review. The Oppo is due tonite at midnite and the Reply tomorrow at 3:00 pm.
    You can track the briefs on the 9th Circuit website. Judge Friedland has only been on the Federal bench for 2 years or so, but she is a diligent jurist.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is it Constitutional or is it not?

      No one knows for now. Those who spend their entire careers in the field want to hear both sides of issue.

      If no one knows at this time or immediately upon facing it, is it still an intentional violation of the Constitution if it is determined so in the future?

      1. Allegorio

        Firstly, we are no longer a nation of laws. I believe above and beyond the constitutionality of travel ban is the Judiciary letting Trump know who is boss.

    1. Eureka Springs

      The black hooded black blockers could learn a thing or two from this fellow.

      And thanks to Lambert for the – The case against the American Constitution – link. Much needed focus on the core of our woes, thus where to begin to focus, to fight for real remedies. If you conduct basic duck duck searches, the right wingers are talking about constitutional changes a lot. The so-called left isn’t at all…. not even discussing core problems with the one we have.

      1. UserFriendly

        The right wingers are a handful of state governments away from party line votes to amend the constitution. If I was them that’s what I’d be talking about too.

      2. Oregoncharles

        I’ve written about it here, as the move for a Constitutional Convention was in links a few days back. The EC is especially a travesty of democracy (not that I wanted Clinton, either, but the person who gets the most votes should really get the job.)

      1. lambert strether

        Reminds me of an old cartoon about the difference between “duck” and “goose.”

        That said, what intrigued me… Was the dog! Why?!

  3. PlutoniumKun

    Re: The Politico story on the hidden bombshell in the Immigration order.

    It reports that the order will actually be very damaging for tourism as it seeks to apply a universal set of criteria to visas. Given that Trump’s investments are so tourism oriented (and NY is maybe the city that benefits more than any in the US on tourism), I can only assume this shows that either he is genuinely no longer thinking of his own business interests, or someone in his staff really screwed up. Most likely the latter.

    I doubt Trumps supporters would be bothered at all by a drop in European and Asian tourists, but on the coastal Dem strongholds it will be a very big deal for many businesses. Of course, if Europe (in particular) decided to use it as an excuse to restrict travel to the US by imposing Trumps requirements very literally, then no doubt he would react in kind. Its exactly the sort of stupid distracting trade war that would benefit nobody that Trump may well stoke up.

    But on the other hand, a huge drop in transatlantic and transpacific flights might well do more to reduce climate emissions than anything HRC would have done, so there’s a silver lining everywhere.

    1. David

      I suspect it’s primarily incompetence, but to the extent that the order has any logic, it’s that attackers these days may well be nationals of advanced, developed countries, and even born there. French-born attackers of Tunisian origin, British-born attackers of Pakistani origin, as well as naturalized citizens of a number of countries would all be included under this heading. (The Paris attacker this week was an Egyptian living in the UAE, whose own nationals are exempt from the visa requirement). This is why focusing on particular countries actually doesn’t make much sense. It all looks like a clumsy way to address what is actually a real problem, if you want a screening system to be effective, though obviously the actual screening process can’t be so exhaustive in practice as to paralyze travel. That said, automatic databases will do much of the work for you these days.
      In any event, we shouldn’t idealise the US as a tourist destination, or a place to travel to on business. Even getting a tourist visa until the late 1980s involved filling in forms and going to the local Embassy, sometimes for an interview (in those days the criterion was “are you now or have you ever been …”) and people were refused visas because of their political activities. Even under the current programme, you can still be refused entry or held for hours for questioning (I know people to whom this has happened). Foreign government representatives have been refused admission or taken aside for questioning (it famously happened to a British Minister, from the Home Office of all departments because he had a suspicious sounding name.) South Africa is still not on the waiver list, and I know officials of that government who have been refused entry on official business because their ANC activities in the 1970s had placed them some “terrorist” list. The US is a country I always found it intimidating to visit, even on business, and I think that once the policy is clarified, we’ll find that, yet again, it’s not very different from what’s happened in the past, just publicly acknowledged.

      1. Clive

        I agree with you, the US has a reputation for hostility to visitors — and I think that reputation is pretty well deserved. I like to travel and would love to make a point of revisiting the US but merely having to grapple with ESTA is a big disincentive. There are other nice places to visit that don’t throw a tonne of bureaucracy in your face before you’ve even got up off the sofa.

        That said, I suspect we will in the future look back on the early part of the 21st century wistfully as a passed era where travel was relatively uncomplicated; history shows that it was almost always a rigmarole to get your visa, permits, passport stamps and so on in order to be allowed into a country and we may simply be reverting to past trends.

        1. Emma

          Here’s a thought – To make America great again, why doesn’t Mr Trump, in collaboration with leaders of other nations, arrange an increasing number of unrestricted work visa agreements for Americans to live and work ABROAD for a minimum two years. But not simply as expats in gated expat enclaves, and with all the associated perks and benefits that come with such a convenient set-up.

          If American companies not only hire non-native executives, but easily go away for growth, why can’t Americans be permitted to do likewise in much larger numbers?

          For when American companies go abroad, they encounter a new variety of experiences……and this allows American companies to take the best of what they experience abroad and import it back home. They also get to leverage all that the world has to offer, don’t they?! This is what makes them ‘great’.

          For “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page”. So, if you hail from the construction sector like Mr Trump, you’d best be doubly careful about how you build walls. When compared to other industries, the construction sector is predominantly local, isn’t it? Therefore, how can a nation allow its’ people to become ‘great’ like its’ corporations, if its leader is afraid of having his own mind opened up, and of allowing his fellow compatriots to do likewise?

          1. RabidGandhi

            No thanks. We do not need Yanks leeching on us to solve their own social/political deficiencies. They are unhealthy due to their horrible health care and poorly educated because of their privatised education system. Not to mention many of them come addicted to narcotics. In fact, I hear Mexico will be putting up a wall to keep them out.

            ¡Just kidding gringos! You’re welcome here (leave your guns at home)

        2. Jeremy Grimm

          I’m retired and a little slower than I once was — that said I think the US is one of the most unhelpful nations in making its mass-transit — such as there is — foreigner friendly. [Driving here given the poor signage forces foreign visitors to have excellent GPS apps.] I recently made a trip cross-country using mass-transit in lieu of renting an automobile or hiring taxis. Before attempting my trip I spent several frustrating hours playing “dungeons and dragons” exploring the websites of our trains, subways, trams and buses and printing as much advance information as I could gleen from those sources. Equipped with a small sheaf of printed out maps and directions — and of course a ready fluency in American English — I made my journey.

          Our airports and airline travel have attained a level of quality even third world countries might exceed. Long-distance coach on our Amtrak trains — though much slower and “destination challenged” seemed the height of comfort and elegance compared with airline travel. Some of our train stations still exude the glamor of the long past rail era. The main stations in Los Angeles, in Chicago, and in New York City are jewels. I feel great affection for Amtrak and rail travel — but all that said — our best rail travel pales in comparison with the comfort, convenience and ease of the rail travel I enjoyed in my youthful treks through Europe in 1970. Some of the sections of rail on major lines connecting LA to Chicago and Chicago to Philadelphia were slower, shakier, and more wobbling than some of the worst sections of the Austrian Red-Line into the small-town Alpine areas of 1970 Austria. I can’t make any meaningful comparisons between Amtrak and the bullet train I rode in Korea from Seoul to a Daeju in Southern Central Korea, around the year 2005. They are from entirely different eras of human progress. I haven’t been on the new trains in Europe. The scenes of Jason Bourne traveling on the train from Marseilles to Switzerland seem like scenes from a science fiction movie of the future.

          As for navigating our exceedingly limited mass-transit — I found it easier to get on the right train to Narita from Shinjuku at rush hour than getting on the A-train to the Air-Train for JFK airport leaving from Pennsylvania Central Station in NYC — and without any time pressure to impede or impair my decision precesses in PennCentral. To provide further context — I was traveling in Japan in the mid 1980’s and had to navigate Shinjunku station using a combination of English (which disappeared well before I found the right rail), some random Kana, and mostly Kanji — which I cannot and will probably never be able to read or reliably reference for directions. I grant I was much younger when I navigated Tokoyo in the mid 1980’s — but at least I like to believe I haven’t lost that much of my mental abilities.

          The US is not only unfriendly to foreigners … it’s antagonistic. As for native Americans — we’re only mildly less disparaged from travel outside our locales

          I should add this lack of respect and consideration for foreign visitors deeply offends me after the many considerations and courtesies I’ve enjoyed in my travels abroad.

      2. MsExPat

        Interestingly the US health care mess is an overlooked negative to the tourism industry. Our medical system is famously the most expensive in the world, and there’s a big risk in coming here without emergency coverage, particularly if you are older. I have been researching temp policies for US visitors and they are fairly awful–they don’t cover or existing conditions, and just about anything that might land you in a US hospital save getting hit by a bus is defined as “prexisting” in the policies I’ve read. One insurance broker I looked at even recommends that Indian expats living in the US go visit their parents over there, rather than risk having them land in an extortionate US hospital during a visit to America (high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney stones are all “preexisting” and not covered. ) It’s not a question of money–there just aren’t policies out there with adequate protection. Nobody’s willing to underwrite them.

        Would I want to travel to a country with ridiculous crazy medical prices and no sure way of insuring myself adequately? Nope.

    2. RabidGandhi

      My kneejerk reaction when I see analyses relating Trump policy to Trump’s economic interests is that it’s more a byproduct of misguided Democrat hyperventilation than an actual factor in policy formation (the Democrats share all the wrong policies with Trump, so they have no idea how to attack him). A classic example was the first Resistance reaction to the immigration ban: “the countries on the list are the countries where Trump doesn’t do busines. Corruption!” of course omitting the far more sinister fact that the targeted countries were also singled out by Bush and Obama and that is why Trump did not do business in them. The charge of personal corruption serves to obscure the sick policy normality of the Blob.

      I am not a billionaire (heck I’m not even a thousandaire) so I cannot claim to know for sure how a billionaire would think, but I generally have not observed a tendency amongst presidents to place major emphasis on enriching themselves. I have rather observed them going to ridiculous ends to increase their own personal power and prestige. Thus to the idea that the effects on his tourism business interests would be a major factor in Trump’s immigration policy, I am unconvinced. Instead, we have seen Trump make certain bombastic promises on the campaign trail and pulling out all the stops to try to at least give the appearence of fulfilling them. Furthermore, he decided in order to win the election he had to bring on board some of the strangest cats in the US political scene, who once they were in the bag left him with an unweildy set of policy goals dictated by an unruly bag of cats– which Trump seems to think he can control. Attributing the crazy policy decisions emmanating from the bag of cats to Trump’s personal financial interests (or as per Medium the other day to a calculated plan for a coup for crissakes) does not make sense.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Did Trump expect to become President November 1st or start his own media network? Now he’s President and needs to look like he’s President, doing stuff.

        Democrats delayed passage of the fixed Lilly-Ledbetter Act, knowing Shrub wouldn’t veto, so Obama would have something to “accomplish” and brandish in the campaign trail. My guess is Trump has no set of plans or much of an agenda and is searching for items he can do that won’t cause immediate disruptions. Blocking visas to countries with significant economic sanctions will inconvenience a number of individuals but won’t shut down a GE style outfit.

      2. fresno dan

        February 5, 2017 at 9:59 am

        “… omitting the far more sinister fact that the targeted countries were also singled out by Bush and Obama and that is why Trump did not do business in them. The charge of personal corruption serves to obscure the sick policy normality of the Blob.”

        Extremely excellent point RabidGandhi. I suspect the critics who attribute corruption (and don’t get me wrong – with Trump I don’t doubt corruption past, present, and future as with the ENTIRE blob) with regard to the ban would simply be unable and unwilling to accept that the countries chosen are on account of Bush….and the policy was extended and …..DARE I say it??? “normalized!!!!!!!!!!” under Obama.

        “….but I generally have not observed a tendency amongst presidents to place major emphasis on enriching themselves.”

        I would agree with that. The only part I would quibble with, is that I view enpowering/enriching as two sides of the same coin, and for the rest of the blob, getting remuneration isn’t anything so crass as gold sinks or mink underwear. It is never a quid pro quo – it is always to benefit the public…..but these deals require people of “great talent” so unless they are compensated, the private sector would steal them away.

        I am sure that the Clintons view the money they have “earned” not as some Nouveau riche flaunting of wealth, but as the necessary accoutrements of power – she travels by private jet, of a certain size, to accommodate her entourage, and so she can do her power brokering without delay. She NEEDS a big limo to hold meetings with staff while being whisked around and having all her briefing folders spread out. Blob members need mansions to host dinner parties where “networking” and the private, REAL deals are made…You can’t expect your Goldman Sachs guess to drink 2$ chuck….

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          After a certain threshold of wealth — how what is the distinction between accruing power and accruing wealth? Wealth and power seem as one past that threshold of wealth.

        2. different clue

          And she needs a hundred million dollars so all the Davos men and Davos women will take her seriously.

      3. Lord Koos

        It’s more about enriching their friends and donors – the payback comes after you leave office.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Do these billionaires lend without collateral?

          What guarantees performance ‘after?’

    3. armchair

      Does a tourist coming from Hong Kong or Berlin want more than anything, to be in another urban rat race? Sometimes, yes, but for many foreign tourists riding a horse or whitewater rafting sound much more appealing. If you want to hear foreign languages and accents, go to Yellowstone, Glacier, Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon. Another slight possibility is that Trump is not capable of analyzing what he signs. Plenty of red states have international tourism.

    4. Dave

      You don’t get it. It will be used to discourage African, Middle Eastern, Israel?, and South American tourism and will not be applied to European tourism.

      Also, as per above, the typical Midwesterner will not be affected. The Clinton Archipelago, especially the West Coast, will be affected.

      BTW, it’s no big deal to add “A radical Muslim” to ” A member of the Nazi Party” on immigration questionnaires.

  4. fresno dan

    By Criticizing This Liberals Look Like Fools Ian Welsh. “

    Normal politicians tell the truth about things Trump lies about, but those things are less important than the truths Trump tells and the promises he keeps that normal politicians break (for example, Obama saying he’d re-negotiate NAFTA.)
    When the “decent” people like Obama and Clinton and Bush (who liberals are now saying was actually pretty good) don’t do the right thing, and lie about what matters most, they open an opportunity for demagogues. Now they have one and squeal, but it is what their actions and words earned.

    The ban of Muslims from 7 countries, currently stayed, is something I think was a bad idea and which has hurt people, but it was not more evil, say, than what the US did to Libya under Obama, which occasioned far less outcry. Not by any reasonable standard: a lot less people are dying because of it; getting raped because of it; losing their homes and livelihood because of it. Almost certainly Trump will do truly horrible things yet, but this wasn’t truly horrible. What it was was a strike at something liberals care about greatly, an emotive issue for them: the right for some people to move freely between countries. (Notice no similar outcry for the 2.4+ million deportations by Obama.)
    Again, there has been something of a “religion” in this country for a long time now. What I view actually as a sacrilegious idea – the idea that America is more beloved by God than any other country (what about Israel??). It makes many policy ideas debated essentially at the level of, “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it”
    Indeed, the MSM takes the idea that Russia isn’t the Satan of earth as equivalent to saying, “the devil has his good points” – something that can never be spoken and should never be thought.

    I wish it would be a far bigger kerfuffle than it will turn out to be, because the examples of American perfidy are extensive, and having debates about it on FOX would be a good thing.

    1. Carolinian

      My brother says he has stopped watching MSNBC and started watching Fox News which isn’t as bad with the departure of Ailes. Not having cable I am gratefully free of both of them. But the majority of the media are in danger of making themselves the news source for only fifty percent of the country. One reason for the (often pretend) objectivity stance of the past was that partisanship can be bad for the newser’s bottom line.

    2. shinola

      About that Russia as Satan fetish: The WaPo article “Chill America…” (1st item under Our Famously Free Press) contains this line:

      “I am appalled at the closeness between an American administration and the Russian enemy regime led by Vladimir Putin.”

      Seems they just can’t help themselves

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        They’re slipping.

        It should be ‘the current American regime and the Russian enemy junta, led by dictator Vlad the Impaler Putin.’

    3. Local to Oakland

      Dating back to John Winthrop and the first historically noteworthy Jonathan Edwards and the City on a Hill rhetoric.

    1. Glen

      Where’s “Mr. Lee’s Greater Hong Kong”?

      Nice! One of my favorite SF novels.

      I’ll bet NZ wishes there was one. If I had to decide between Peter T. and genital warts it would be tough, really tough.

  5. msmolly

    Nitpicky: The item “Trump slammed the Berkeley protesters. One responded by building a news app with his roommate. WaPo.” appears twice. Under “Famously Free Press” and again a few items later. Guess I should go read it!

  6. fresno dan

    The Three Most Believed Fake News Stories of the Election (Tested by Stanford) Favored Hillary emptywheel

    Buried deep inside the story is a detail one or two people have noted, but not mentioned prominently. Among the fake news stories studied by the authors (which were limited to stories debunked at places like Snopes, which is a significant limit to the study), two stories favorable to Hillary were the most believed.

    Not quite as ironic as the Clintonistas trying to foster unfaithful electors at the electoral college and than getting more electors to defect from Clinton than Trump, but never the less, poetic justice.

  7. fresno dan

    Tweeting Out Falsehoods Isn’t OK Just Because It Makes Trump Look Bad Michael Tracey

    According to a report by NPR:
    By around 5 a.m. Sunday, the raiders were gone and the skies were clear, locals said. Abdullah al-Taissi, a tribal sheikh who lives in the village and confirmed much of Jawfi’s account, watched the attack from his house.
    “Around 5 a.m. Sunday” would’ve been around 9:00 PM EST Saturday night (January 28) as there is an eight hour time difference between the U.S. East Coast and Yemen (Yemen is 8 hours ahead). That means, according to this NPR on-the-ground report, the raid would’ve been complete by around 9:00 PM EST on January 28. Trump then tweeted the aforementioned tweet at 7:00 AM EST on Sunday, January 29, a full 10 hours later. Put another way: Trump’s tweet came at 3:00 PM Yemen time, at which point the raid had been over for 10 hours.

    Maybe it was all those Tom Clancy novels, but what REAL purpose does it serve to have the president sitting in an office during a raid – and that was proposed, designed, and approved weeks if not months earlier? Does the POTUS order the troops to concentrate fire on the 2nd window from the left on the ground floor??? Does he make sure the helicopter has a “Stay at a Trump hotel” sticker on it? Is POTUS concerned that his flunkies will tell him it was a great success, when in fact the mission went tits up??? (the only realistic rationale in my view)

    I understand it is a myth that a live feed is transmitted and the president gets to watch IT (LET THAT SINK IN….). Is there anything that reflects the Hollywoodization of Washington more than this hackeyed bromide of the president in the “situation room”???

    I note that Trump was not in fact in the situation room. Like those “intelligence indoctrinations…uh, I mean briefings” – good for him.

    1. Tom

      And if he had been in the situation room, we would be hearing all kinds of hand-wringing and hysterics about that! I can see the memes now …

      Did Trump distract the Seal Commander by tweeting to him during the raid?

      Trump watches Seal raid and his only comment is “my helicopter is nicer”

      From situation room, Trump declares Seal raid “a ratings loser”

  8. Merf56

    RE Calexit: Ernest Callenbach and his book Ecotopia (written around the mid 1970’s I think) lays out a scenario for an entire Pacific Coast exit. An interesting book..

    1. ambrit

      Wasn’t that the one with the “Chopper War?” It reminded me a lot of Wright’s “Islandia.” Both fall into the category of Utopian Fiction. Comparing the tone and sensibility of the two, and add in Stephenson’s “Diamond Age,” for updating, and the shifting of the Western psyche over recent time begins to show.

      1. jefemt

        Don’t forget

        The Postman

        , and also fairly recent

        Dog Stars

        by Peter Heller. Plenty of western US dystopia out there …. Oh, and we too have potholes and rotting bridges.

        1. ambrit

          If your “handle” is any guide, you do have Boulle et autres. C’mon, I liked “The City of Lost Children,” and “La Jetee.” Also, your bridges have history. Think of all the aristos who have swung slowly in the wind from those decrepit beams.
          Brin’s “The Postman” is really, a post apocalypse book. Varley did a somewhat send up named “Slow Apocalypse.” Not with a bang, but with a hiccup.
          I haven’t read “Dog Stars” yet. Something new for late night, thanks.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Self-driving cars.

            A self-driving car is driving itself down a narrow street.

            Suddenly, to the left, appears a right-coast Homo Sapiens.

            At the same time, to its right, there is a left-coast human.

            It can’t stop in time to avoid hitting them (both or either).

            What is it programmed to do?

            Hit the left coast human on the right?

            Or Run over the right coast Homo sapiens on the left?

            Does it depend on which company that created the self-driving car (that is, its creator)?

        2. lyman alpha blob

          The Dog Stars is a great book and doesn’t give you permanent nightmares like some other dystopian fiction – talking to you Cormac McCarthy.

          When the revolution comes, we’re all going to want Bangley as our buddy. ;)

          1. Petter

            Men have in their minds a picture of how the world will be. How they will be in that world. The world may be many different ways for them but there is one world that will never be and that is the world they dream of.
            Eudardo the pimp in Cities of the Plain – Cormac McCarthy

    2. Ignim Brites

      Seems like hubris to write off the possibility of a #Calexit when a majority of the nation is still wrestling with the reality that Trump is President. At the same time we see Ryan Cooper’s expression of disgust for the undemocratic features of the Constitution, “The case against the American Constitution”. Meanwhile Bernie Sanders continues to push the Democratic party towards revolution and in the streets of Berkeley revolutionary legality trumps (ha) bourgeois constitutionalism. Seems like a lot of improbabilites are a lot less so these days. What will happen when La Raza demands California citizenship for the millions of undocumented within the CA borders?

      1. Yves Smith


        1. The Fed can shut off California’s access to the banking system and can require member banks not to process Visa and Mastercard transactions. And please do not mention ApplePay, it sits on top of those payment processing channels and is not a substitute.

        2. The overwhelming majority of people who carry guns as part of their job, including cops in blue cities, voted for Trump.

        3. CA depends on water from Colorado

        CA can’t even withhold payments made by residents to the IRS. It has no army. It is not an autarky.

        And the Central Valley, where corps are grown, is conservative.

        1. Brad

          And farm-worked by “mexican rapists”. Like to see all those overweight white guys with the picking tomatoes with their guns until they keel over.

          1. Stephan

            Get a grip. You know who he was talking of. Every Society has members we men would rather not deal with if we don’t have to, our women clasp their purses tighter as they walk by. Then there are those who are worse.

            A South/Central American, Mexican criminal would be stupid if he didn’t think there’d be richer targets in the US. The wanted criminal finding new hunting grounds.

            Municipalities unloading their trouble makers and burdens into the US.

            The problem we have with you farm workers. You sh!t in the lettuce instead of using the porta-pots. Yeah I know, time is money, but dude?

  9. oho

    >How America Lost Its Identity Der Spiegel.

    One of our many problems: America spends 4%+ of GDP on the military. Germany spends a little over 1%.

    A cause that many on the Left and Right share—-get the US military out of Europe. And dissolve NATO while we’re at it.

    And if the Poles, Germans and Baltics are so afraid of Russia, do what the Taiwanese, Israelis and South Koreans do—universal male conscription.

      1. Carolinian

        I believe they do. It’s America’s next step as Israel imitators (drones, targeted airport screenings).

      2. JTMcPhee

        Worth reading about how women participate in the IDF (maybe not such harsh “conscription?”): “‘One of the boys’: the conscription of young women to the Israeli military,”

        Also worth reading, on the many parallels between the dysfunction (from the “ordinary person” standpoint, maybe) of US and Israeli political economies is this article: “Netanyahu scandals reflect corruption at the heart of Israeli society,”

        “We are staunch allies, and faces in the mirror…”

        1. integer

          Regarding your second link, Arnon Milchan is a name I have seen come up more than a couple of times. From the article:

          Milchan is undoubtedly at the centre of the shadowy world of power and finance that corrupts public life in Israel. Not only is Milchan a highly influential Hollywood figure, having produced more than 100 films, but he has admitted that he is a former Mossad agent. He used his Hollywood connections to help make arms deals and secure parts for Israel’s nuclear weapons program.

          One can only wonder whether Milchan was not effectively set up in his Hollywood career as a cover for his Mossad activities.

          But Milchan, it seems, is still wielding influence in Israel’s twilight world of security.

          Yossi Cohen was appointed head of the Mossad a year ago, after a government vetting committee accepted that he had no personal ties to Netanyahu. But Cohen forgot to mention that he is extremely close to Netanyahu’s high-flying friends – connections that are now under investigation.

          Milchan set up a global security firm in 2008 called Blue Sky International, stuffed with Israeli security veterans. Packer soon became a partner. They developed close ties to Cohen, first while he was a senior official at the Mossad and later when he headed Israel’s national security council.

          Milchan seems like someone worth keeping an eye on. As well as his Mossad background and all that those sorts of connections entail, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it came to light that he was one of Hollywood’s key political opinion shapers/enforcers.

          1. integer

            I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it came to light that he was one of Hollywood’s key political opinion shapers/enforcers.

            Working behind the scenes, of course (pun intended – how did I miss that?)
            Anyway, here is the Bloomberg company profile of Blue Sky International. It is a subsidiary of Ultra Electronics Holdings plc.

            Ultra Electronics Holdings plc, together with its subsidiaries, provides electronic and software solutions for the defense and aerospace, security and cyber, transport, and energy markets in the United Kingdom, North America, and internationally. The company operates in three segments: Aerospace & Infrastructure, Communications & Security, and Maritime & Land. The Aerospace & Infrastructure segment offers electronic control systems, such as position sensing and control; airframe and engine ice protection and detection; electronic architectures; weapon control; and noise cancellation systems, as well as instrumentation, control systems, and software solutions to the aerospace, rail, energy, and nuclear markets. The Communications & Security segment provides mission critical information dominance solutions; cyber security, communications, surveillance, and electronic warfare solutions; and tactical command and control systems that help warfighters integrate, share, and act on time-critical information. This segment serves governments, law enforcement agencies, defense, and commercial entities. The Maritime & Land segment provides sensors, combat management systems, and power solutions for surface and sub-surface applications, as well as unmanned platforms. This segment also offers systems for modern military manned- and unmanned-vehicles that range from electronic architectures to specialist equipment and components. Ultra Electronics Holdings plc was founded in 1993 and is headquartered in Greenford, the United Kingdom.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In addition,

      (Spending x% of GDP) ≠ (x% of GDP received by the citizens)

      For example, if you need to put in a new water treatment plant, and instead, you spend the money digging and filling trenches, you are impacting the country differently (focusing only on the first order of the spending impact).

  10. oho

    ‘You can see why “America is already great” didn’t resonate with more than a small, and very privileged, segment …’

    Exhibit #29,302 of the tone-deafness of Team DNC/Clinton/Obama/Identity Politics Left.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      Lowest labor participation rate in decades

      Lowest homeownership rate in decades

      Largest inequality ever

      The Aristocrat choir sings, “what’s the ruckus?”

      1. Dave

        “OooooBama Depresssion, gonna drag us all down,
        One, thrilling combination,
        every move he makes.
        One smile and suddenly nobody else will do,
        You know you’ll never be solvent with you-know-who.”

        Sung to the tune of “One, Singular Sensation”

  11. Montanamaven

    Guiottine watch: Has the “Diva of Distressed” been covered here? Lynn Tilton’s “Patriarch Partners” closed down three companies last year with 2,000 employees losing their jobs. Somebody explain to me how this can happen? This kind of small company with 157 workers seems a good candidate for a workers cooperative. Maybe the President could look into a loan for them.
    Diva of Distressed

    1. Yves Smith

      I’ve sort of ignored her because she is comparatively low end (her funds are not all that large) but she’s managed to get PR out of proportion to her importance. And her emphasis on S&M and trashy selfies in her fundraising has long smelled like she is not on the up and up…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s much trickier to walk one’s pet ant.

        You would need a single strand silk leash, I imagine.

  12. Watt4Bob

    Pakistan takes immense pride in its nuclear capability, which is indeed formidable. But it is time Pakistan conveyed its nuclear maturity by talking more about its nuclear security provisions. Such debates would create awareness amongst the Pakistani masses about their individual responsibility toward their country’s nuclear arsenal. It would also deter attempts by non-state actors to involve the local population in any sabotage attempts against nuclear facilities.

    In the same way that most Americans are acutely aware of their individual responsibility toward our country’s nukes?

    As for the non-state actors, when they have the cooperation of radical military insiders, who here sees any necessity to involve local populations?

    Tactical nukes in the hands of field commanders, and in “ready-state” was also implemented by the soviets, and last I heard, some of them, small enough to be loaded in the back of a small pick-up truck are still unaccounted for.

    This whole situation puts the lie to the neocon’s hysteria over Iran’s relatively non-existent threat, considering the very real and present threat that tactical, “ready-state” nukes represent in the hands of a military that so obviously stands close to some sort of tipping point between opaque and unreliable ‘ally’, and full-on end-game jihad.

    1. David

      As I recall, nuclear issues in Pakistan (like practically all security issues) are in the hands of the military, and even civilian politicians don’t have much influence. The idea of ordinary Pakistanis having “responsibility” for their nuclear arsenal is frankly ridiculous. In addition, the threat of non-state actors has been around for at least forty years, to my knowledge, and there have been precisely zero cases.
      FWIW control of nukes in the old Soviet Union was firmly in the hands of the Party, not least through the GRU and the political commissar system. My recollection is that the GRU, rather than the Army, actually controlled the weapons.

      1. Watt4Bob

        You are flat out wrong.

        Soviet army had tactical nukes, some so small that they were referred to as “suitcase” bombs, and these were under the direct control of the commanders of the equivalent of our Green Berets, or Special Forces.

        They could be taken into battle and deployed against opposing forces at the discretion of the units commander.

        The reason these “suitcase” bombs are of particular concern to our intelligence organizations is the fact that when the Soviet Union fell, some of these weapons went missing, and it is feared that commanders of impoverished troops who hadn’t been paid in many months, and had been growing their own food on base, may have sold them in order to pay for food.

        I have connections with ex-military intelligence personnel who describe driving 2 1/4 trucks full of MRE rations to the border between the Soviet Union and West Germany and trading them to hungry Soviet troops for what was then top-secret radio communications equipment.

        I also had a brother-in-law who would never engage in conversations about his job, but did reassure me that they were hot on the trail of these missing “suitcase” bombs.

    2. RabidGandhi

      It is a real, present threat to the neocons, in that if Iran is able to build nuclear weapons, an attack against Iran would have to be taken off the table– in fact this is the best defence against a US regime change operation.

      Wherever he may be at this particular juncture, I’m sure that Muamar Gadafi is ruing the day he gave up his nuclear weapons programme.

      1. Watt4Bob

        Yes, you are right.

        It is also true that Iran has twice as many people, and also sits in a tactically superior position compared to Iraq, so even without nukes, Iran is a much more formidable enemy if we were foolish enough to attack them.

        It should also be clear to anyone with two brain cells that talk to each other that Russia does not intend to sit idly by as we move to remove every ‘hostile regime‘ right up to Russia’s borders.

        Conjures up images of idiots poking an angry bear with sharp sticks?

    3. fresno dan

      February 5, 2017 at 9:34 am

      “In the same way that most Americans are acutely aware of their individual responsibility toward our country’s nukes?”

      Great minds think alike – I read your excerpt and I was thinking the exact same thing. Is it like those “adopt a highway” signs by the roadsides where your suppose to pick up trash along side the street – do you mow the fields the launchers are in? Or plant flowers in the fields (I imagine daisies are verboten….) Or go inside the silo and polish the missiles?

      1. Watt4Bob

        I love the way we go crazy about the possibility that some country may try to develop nuclear bombs, but as soon as they have them we shut up and deal with it.

        Notice how North Korea helped us ‘decide’ not to release the movie “The Interview” as scheduled, to make after-the-fact edits, and basically send it straight to online rental.

        Does anybody think Iran could in any way influence Hollywood in a similar way?

        There has been much reporting about the fact that many in the Muslim world consider the Pakistani bomb to be “The Muslim Bomb” and some of those people think it’s only a matter of time before they ‘loan’ one to radicals of one sort or another.

  13. efschumacher

    In the four years that I lived in Washington, D.C., I had to replace the tires on my car three times.

    In about 1988 I drove down 23rd Street and at the point where it meets Constitution Avenue and hits the camber there was a raised manhole. This took out my oil pan. So not much has changed in the intervening 28 years.

  14. MarkerZero

    Re: Why We Need A Federal Jobs Guarantee, Jacobin
    You are right. Awesome.
    It occurs to me that mobilization for WWII was, in effect, pretty close to a federal jobs guaranty. It defeated the Nazis and the Japanese, and it also defeated the Great Depression. (The New Deal fell short. See David M. Kennedy, Freedom From Fear.) Better now to put people to work to fight climate change; build infrastructure; provide public safety; provide child care, elderly care, and assistance to the disabled and disadvantaged; provide health care; and provide public education. Lots of threats to the public to be defeated. Lots of work to be done.

      1. fosforos

        It was not even mentioned in this article that Benoit Hamon won overwhelmingly the French left’s primary on a program whose most notable points were Universal Basic Income and Cannabis legalization. His UBI proposal is for a phase-in starting with youth up to 24 years of age. It is dangerous to counterpose a central-government guarantee of full-time full employment (achievable only with the sort of politico-economic revolution that Long and King were murdered to prevent) to the immediate need for UBI. At present, Hamon is positioned to win the presidential election. The danger is that Mélenchon would, in an act of irremediable sectarianism, use the full employment/UBI counterposition to divide the left vote and allow the big-business candidate, Macron, to sneak into the final round against Marine.

    1. tongorad

      Since we’re talking about things that will likely never happen, the 40 hour work week is excessive and must be radically reduced as well.
      Also, who gets to decide what counts as work or a job? The capitalists…again?
      Heck, why not go back to the past, IWW stylee:
      Abolition of the Wage System
      Abolition of Unemployment
      Shop Democracy
      Good pay or bum work

    2. cnchal

      The basic contradiction is that a jawbs guarantee, guarantees that moar energy, in whichever form it comes in, is required, when we, as a species can see the end coming if we do moar of what we are doing.

      I propose a jawb guarantee. The jawb is to do nothing.

    3. John k

      The new deal did not fall short. By 1936 the country was growing strongly, albeit not back to where we were in 1939. This strong growth convinced Fdr we could cit stimulus and revert to austerity, country reverted to recession in 1937.

      Modest stimulus was plenty, no need for WWII and the massive loss of life and destruction.

  15. jrd2

    “How come it’s only squillionaires who can get second passports?”

    You don’t need to be a a squillionare to get a second passport. I could get one. The squillionaires flying their own jet don’t actually need to use their passport; those are for the plebes. Really.

    1. Toolate

      Not true in my experience. One doesn’t need to go through normal clearance procedures but in most countries the immigration officer steps on board and at least pretends to review ones passport

    2. Toolate

      thanks for the “left needs to be a movement”link. Seems like a good first pass at reasonable and critical goals.

    1. Lee

      Most interesting and informative. Thanks for directing my attention to it and so add to my admittedly limited knowledge of French politics.

      My two cents worth:

      Focusing on citizenship preference in hiring and other benefits is becoming an ever more convincing argument. As globalization and neoliberal policies concentrate property and opportunity into the hands of the metropolitan global elites, citizenship becomes the only birthright left to a growing number. Globalization absent neoliberal policies might be a good alternative but we aren’t quite ready for that yet IMHO. Nation states, with their monopolies on money and guns are still where the action is and it is only relatively recently that ordinary citizens have gained a modicum of power within some of these entities. Progressive transnational power is an aspiration too far at the moment.

  16. broadsteve

    Re: Bonus Antidote, I really think some shoes are in order. More on the subject here. (Google books)

    IIRC part of the early origins of Lloyd’s Bank was to extend credit to welsh fowlers who drove their geese to London on foot.

  17. cocomaan

    The article on Job Guarantee article makes good points. However I think any discussion of JG should also discuss the number one danger of UBI that I saw mentioned here on NC, which is that we’d probably see the elimination of cash, as well as a fueling of other civil-liberty depleting enterprises.

    You just know that UBI would be distributed via an EBT system run by JP Morgan or some such disaster, just as it is now. It would further solidify the already solid truth that rights like privacy are a refuge only for the well-off.

    And $10,000/year for UBI? That’s pathetic. I still have questions about JG and pointless employment but this was a good primer.

    1. Eureka Springs


      How about?

      BIG minimum 24k
      JIG minimum (if utilized at full time 32 hours a week?) 40k

      The JIG is up!

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Yes, they don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

        And if we ever do get to the point that either is seriously considered, then I think the country might also be at the point where the bankers have been reined in to some extent and the rest of us might have some say in how they are administered.

        You bring up a good point cocomaan –

        You just know that UBI would be distributed via an EBT system run by JP Morgan or some such disaster, just as it is now.

        Doesn’t have to be though. I was appalled to find out that my state distributes benefits through bank cards that incur fees for trying to use them. We do still have the option though of having the funds direct deposited to a bank account. So while we’re reworking the economic system, throw in a postal banking system so everyone has access to a free bank account and then we’re really getting somewhere.

        1. cocomaan

          I actually dealt with JP Morgan EBT cards in a former job in 2009. It was extremely strange to watch the financial system implode while knowing that they and others were without a doubt TBTF given that they were providing the means of exchange for food to millions – as far as I know, most states don’t allow for that direct depositing.

          Poor Bernie. We actually had a chance once for something like a postal banking system.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            If knowledge is money, then a library banking system would be great.

            “Our library bank is backed by all the books in our building…that’s a lot of knowledge and a lot of money. Your account will be very safe.”

            1. cocomaan

              “See these hardbacks?”

              *slaps the reference section with an open palm*

              “That’s solid binding right there. We’ve still got a Grolier’s encyclopedia down the stack, it’d survive an EMP attack. Unlike that Wiki Pedia.”

      2. Yves Smith

        That is basically what Randy Wray and the others associated with MMT, who have been advocating this policy for over a decade: a UBI at a lower level that a JG but still a viable income.

  18. bwilli123

    Re Act One, Scene One LRB
    “What is ominous is the uncertainty and the leaderless state of the opposition. The Democrats are at their lowest ebb since 1920, and this is anything but a sudden misfortune: the loss of nerve started with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, which surprised the Democrats and shook their confidence in the tenability of the welfare state..”
    This is a wanton and wilful forgetfulness of history. There was no passive and reactive shock.The post-Vietnam “Atari” Democrats and the incipient Neo-Liberals were anti-new dealers keen to divide those left behind into the deserving and undeserving poor.

    “On the one hand, (Charles) Peters (A Neoliberal’s Manifesto) showed how much the neoliberal was indebted to the Great Society ethos of the 1960s. That ethos was a departure from the New Deal insofar as it took its stand with the most desperate and the most needy, whom it set apart from the rest of society. Michael Harrington’s The Other America, for example, treated the poor not as a central part of the political economy, as the New Deal did. The poor were superfluous to that economy: there was America, which was middle-class and mainstream; there was the “other,” which was poor and marginal. The Great Society declared a War on Poverty, which was thought to be a project different from from managing and regulating the economy.”

    Also instructive, Alexander Cockburn in The Village Voice from Feb 1975. ” Why they sacked the bane of the Banks”,2141525&dq=wright+patman+replaced+chairman&hl=en

  19. RabidGandhi

    Full credit to neoliberal logic: just when you think it has jumped the sharks, it finds a new set of Great Whites and busts out a new set of skis. Thus

    Federal Court Basically Says It’s Okay To Copyright Parts Of Our Laws

    twists constitutional protections in a way that would leave Orwell gobsmacked, all in the name of Because Markets. Nevertheless it is well worth a read, at least for the masocihistically inclined.

    Basically, the DC District Court found that since some technical standards prepared by private companies are subject to copyright, when those standards are cited in a given law, anyone who wants/needs to know the provisions of that law should pay for the copyright use. Want to know if what you’re doing is legal? Insert credit card info.

    In other words, these private organisations make a living off of having their standards receive copyright protection from the public. If a company has its standards incorporated into a law, then they have hit paydirt, because anyone who needs to be in compliance with that law will need to pay to access to see what it is the law requires of them. Not only does this leave citizens defenceless in de facto legal uncertainty, but it also practically guarantees corruption, as private standards issuing companies race to the graft trough to get their copyrighted standards included in laws.

    Of course there are simple solutions to this problem: have standards prepared by public organisations instead of outsourcing them out to private rent seekers, and eliminate the state-sponsored intellectual property racket whereby the nanny state guarantees corporations rents off of intellectual property rights that should be in the public domain. But under neoliberal logic, these ideas are utter lunacy, so the shark jumping shall continue.

    1. Montanamaven

      Indeed. I’m not a lawyer, but this practice of copywriting building codes and having to pay to find out what they are is really cuckoo.

    2. TheCatSaid

      It’s an important article and a huge issue. I’ve seen this up close and personal regarding building code and consumer products safety codes.

      The author of the article makes a case for why this should be appealed, particularly based on Fair Use.

      It is outrageous that people cannot access standards without having to go to a private reading room in DC, for example.

    3. Carolinian

      Well the building code that my community uses is probably under copyright but I am able to go to the library and make copies from it. The requirement for access that the court mandated may not always be as onerous as flying to DC.

      Plus this does appear to be different from the case where Georgia claimed their entire state code was under copyright and allowed a privately run website to charge for access (that was struck down).

      And ultimately in this digitally promiscuous age there is what Cory Doctorow calls “Piracy, the obvious choice.” IP is under major assault in the era of computer copying. Abuse of copyright under such conditions can be self defeating.

      1. RabidGandhi

        Again, I’d highly recommend reading the article. Neither of the examples you give (whole building codes being publicly available and copyrighting the entire state code) are what is at issue, but rather the question of whether certain standards cited by reference can be restricted from general access. The Georgia case would make for a poor precedent because it clearly did not contain exclusively proprietary material.

        My job entails extensive work with copyright law, and at least from where I stand IP is not under major assault; quite the contrary it is IP that is making a major assault on the public domain, as characterised by this District Court Judgment or on a larger scale by things like TPP/TISA.

        1. Carolinian

          From the article which I did indeed read

          Imagine you’re trying to build a house, and every time you want to check if something is up to code, you have to go to DC to a special reading room, find the standard, check the details, but you can’t print it out or download an electronic version.

          Like I say I don’t have to imagine this because our local building codes are freely available at the public library in a publication that the library undoubtedly did have to pay for and thereby making payment to the standards association which put it out.

          The problem is that the article is short on examples–only the one from the EPA–and therefore it’s difficult to judge the scope or seriousness of what they are talking about. It’s unclear whether Malamud is fighting this as a matter of principle or that businesses who have to access these standards really regard the law as abusive.

          And I bring up the Georgia case in order to show that extreme claims of copyright have been disallowed by the courts.

          And finally the reason IP is under assault is that if Malamud has put this material on the web before the ruling then it would take a mouse click to download and put into a private archive regardless of what the court ruled. These days bottling up simple information is not that easy. Google up Cory Doctorow’s views on the Darknet and how computer copying makes open source the future for a great many things including, probably, the legal code.

  20. efschumacher

    Why We Need a Federal Job Guarantee Jacobin. Awesome.

    A thorny question to tackle early is, to what extent will the Federally guaranteed jobs be top-down selected from programs dreamed up by a cadre of work creators. Related is whether there would be a 2 class system of job guarantors and job holders, with, or without movement in both directions..

    Given a guaranteed income for ‘useful’ work, a much more dynamic utility-recognition system is possible. Essentially, those individuals and groups who can identify and propose their own useful jobs will convince a small group of others of its usefulness, and be given the job. Nobody has to be part of a group, if they can propose their own job: this prevents exploitation at the bottom level.

    In some ways, propose your own job is how Science in Federal Agencies has been evolving in recent years. Since you can’t force people to be productive (or happy) in jobs foisted on them, senior Federal Scientists get to declare and work on their own projects, under broad Agency parameters. Cybersecurity, for example, is an enormous umbrella with options large and small for working on highly intricate building bricks. Open source allows for thorough open testing, and ever larger scale integration, with surprisingly small groups working under no coercion whatsoever. Indeed, the direction of evolution of the Science enterprise can server as the model for the direction of the open economy, but ongoing planning and inventorying at very local levels, responsibly scrutinized, is continually necessary.

    Needless to say, self-determined projects cannot be done in the absence of tools and resources. So a job guarantee pretty much has to come with a set-up grant of say $5,000, to build a basic toolbox, with annual tool maintenance of say $1,000 a year, to keep your tools (hardware, computers, whatever) up to scratch.

    1. TheCatSaid

      “Given a guaranteed income for ‘useful’ work, a much more dynamic utility-recognition system is possible. Essentially, those individuals and groups who can identify and propose their own useful jobs will convince a small group of others of its usefulness, and be given the job. Nobody has to be part of a group, if they can propose their own job: this prevents exploitation at the bottom level.”

      What a superb idea! This would address my ongoing concerns about the concept of “work” in general.

      I remember reading about so-called “primitive” indigenous societies who don’t even have a concept or word for work. They only have words describing different activities.

      “Work” (like “Money”) is one of those deeply-entrenched concepts that we’ve been brainwashed over hundreds of years into believing is necessary because it suits the interests of those doing the brainwashing.

        1. efschumacher

          Bard College: that’s the Alma Mater of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker (Steely Dan). their collaboratively created contributions to American (and World) culture are immense. Include a piano, guitar and sound mixer under the heading ‘toolbox’.

  21. nmtdoc

    Speaking of infrastructure, there are 2 bills on fast track for passage through congress, the Mobile Now Act (S.19) and the Digital Act (S.88). These bills will facilitate the roll out of 5G wireless and the construction of Distributed Antenna Systems nationwide. This will require from 10 to 100 times as many antenna than currently in use. Here in Santa Fe NM the city council recently voted to surrender any and all public participation in the citing process of these antennas, which will now become ubiquitous throughout our city. As a doctor, I have noticed a striking increase in the number of people who are sensitive to the relatively low levels of emf from the wifi router in my office. 5G will increase this exposure exponentially, and there will be no legal remedy available to the general public. As Lambert used to be fond of saying, ka-ching!

    1. Eureka Springs

      Thanks for this news.

      When I read sites like dsl reports I find 5G does not yet exist with any specificity. But were are promised, like 4G, it will be marvelous. I found 4G on my phone to be difficult to discern from old 3G, yet prices went from 25 a month unlimited to 70 with choke on 3G home wifi. Also, faster speeds with greater restrictions and higher costs render faster speeds pretty much useless to most people. I recently switched my home service from 3G wifi to satellite which did improve speeds a little for about the same price, but for 70 bucks a month and a ten gig limit I am no better off. In fact I live in nervous fear of opening a web page with so much as a youtube or video ad running. If I fail to notice I can use up a 10 to 20 bucks worth of gigs in no time.

      We flyover deplorable s can’t get the word/photos/video out! And many of us refuse job offers to do so because of these limits.

    2. TheCatSaid

      nmtdoc, can you say more about what you observed? Was it you and your staff who were impacted, and/or patients? What was their experience, and how did you become aware it was affecting them?

    3. Grebo

      I have noticed a striking increase in the number of people who are sensitive to the relatively low levels of emf from the wifi router in my office.

      Putting the router where they can’t see it will cure them.
      The Science.

    1. DJG

      Yep. The estimable Yasmin Nair slices deeply into the bullshit with great precision. She explains Clinton, Palin, Pelosi, and DeVos in one paragraph:

      “The mantra of “choice” is taken to mean that there are multiple kinds of feminism, including the sort where women relinquish their economic independence, or support the erasure of abortion rights. The feminism Traister upholds, as Hillary Clinton upheld, is what we might call a “Big Tent Feminism,” the sort that makes allowances for every possible variation of “feminism” under the logic that If Women Want It, It Must Be Feminist. No matter how poisonous the effects may be (such as Hillary Clinton’s vote to authorize a brutal war that killed many thousands of innocent women), an empowered woman’s act is always a feminist act.”

      Once feminism became mainly about white women’s careers, it has been all too easy to hijack.

      1. different clue

        It almost suggests the need for an article with a compelling title.

        Perhaps: Goldman-Sachs Feminism and the Tiffany Glass Ceiling. Or something like that.

    2. flora

      Yes. The one thing the author apparently won’t discuss is economics. In an attempt to fill that gap, I recommend a book that came out 25 years ago, but is still relevant re laws, pensions, jobs, age and sex discrimination, SS and Medicare, divorce, etc as they affect women:

      ‘Women and Money’, by Frances Leonard. Leonard was a former legal counsel for the Older Women’s League in Washington D.C. and an attorney in California.

      To quote a tiny bit from the intro:
      “Financially, midlife is different for women than for men, and women must plot a different course. There are critical differences between your life, your work, your family roles, your life expectancy – and those of the men in your life. Subtle though they may be, such differences add up to different planning strategies for women who want to come out economically on par with midlife men. Experts agree that, without such planning, even if you are well paid, your [older years] will almost certainly be substancially poorer than a man’s.

      “Surprisingly perhaps, the biggest problems are nestled in the folds of progressive laws. …These and other good laws enshrine policies which fit the male work pattern or family role. For women they come out just a little wrong, like an ill-fitting garment you yank and twist, but never can make just right. As a result, women must chart a separate [financial] course to reach the same end.
      You cannot escape these gender-biased laws – but you can work around them – and showing you how to do that is the purpose of this book.”

      1. flora

        adding: chapters include
        making the best of a midlife divorce
        facts of life and law for married women
        sex, age, and your job
        pensions and Social Security
        homemakers and paid work.

        The basic nuts and bolts of finance and law for women. Useful stuff. Apparently Rebecca Traister thinks all those problems have gone away, or are unimportant.

    3. Montanamaven

      It’s today’s must read:

      Clinton and Traister’s bourgeois feminism therefore absorbs the logic of capitalism — the accrual of wealth by the few — and vomits it out again as the affirmation of gender. In Traister’s worldview, single women are defined largely by their gendered interests, with economic interests being secondary. Traister makes feminism about empathy, desire, and shopping. But feminism is not something that comes about simply because of the presence of women; it is fundamentally about changing the world so that everyone, regardless of gender, has the same access to material benefits without needing to perform some economically useful function to the state and society. Gender is the tunnel through which we travel and understand one set of very, very stark oppressions. But a feminist revolution that simply ascribes “proper” functions to women alongside men or other women is not a revolution; it is simply a realignment of the status quo.
      Feminist principles are not, ultimately, simply about making things better for women. They are about paying attention to gender in order to think about policies that make things better for everyone.

      So women who support war and killing children, Madeline, are not feminists and shouldn’t talk about tears flowing down the cheeks of the Statue of Liberty.

  22. lyman alpha blob

    RE: How America Lost It’s Identity

    Today’s America is simultaneously the country of the iPhone and the country of potholes…

    My folks live near one of the richest towns in VT. Lots of very well heeled people with clandestine 2nd or 3rd or 4th homes or visiting the high priced resort with all the latest amenities. The few streets it has are riddled with potholes. Despite having more than enough money to fix these potholes, the town has not done so. They decided to put up a sign that says ‘beware of potholes’ instead which drives my dad absolutely nuts. My only guess as to why they won’t repair them is that in order to do so they would likely need to close down the only street that runs through the center of town, which would hurt the business of all the antique shops, artisanal eateries and high end clothing boutiques catering to the out-of-state squillionaires.

    1. Octopii

      Street fixing in the US is mostly low tech and unimaginative. A better way to do it, and quickly, is a grinding machine immediately followed by a paving machine. With this technique resurfacing the road takes one relatively quick pass. The DC beltway gets repaved every year or so with this method.

      1. Carolinian

        My town has a shiny new pothole fixer truck. Apparently it just dumps in some asphalt and flattens it in one step.

        And isn’t DC’s budget controlled by the Congress? Could explain a lot.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          When archaeologists conduct digging at a site, they usually find layers of artifacts of previous human habitation.

          We humans usually just build over whatever is there.

          Though, I sometimes wonder. If you obliterate, say, the Acropolis, don’t you have to remove all the stones and have a level pad, before you build again?

          1. Oregoncharles

            The acropolis is on top of a rock. There are probably foundations of earlier buildings under the temples, but in general, it’s hard to cover them over up there. In the past, it appears people typically levelled or buried what was there to build new – in many case, the buildings were some form of adobe; that is, dirt. For one thing, elevation was considered desirable, for both drainage and defense. That’s why fortresses were built on top of rocks – sometimes you wonder how on earth they got all that stuff up there.

    2. uncle tungsten

      In the mighty wealthy Byron Bar Shire, locals now paint beautiful designs around the potholes so you can see them coming.

      Time for people to do that everywhere. It tends to motivate the local town administration.

    3. JTFaraday

      “The few streets it has are riddled with potholes.”

      I have a few of those particularly bad streets near me, and I am convinced they are there because they don’t want the rest of us driving on them. Ditto the county parks in this same area, with their very long unpaved entry roads.

      If you replace your car all the time anyway, you don’t really care.

  23. Vatch

    Deadly new wheat disease threatens Europe’s crops Nature

    It’s not just European wheat that it threatened by stem rust. Ug99 threatens wheat in Africa and the Middle East, so bread and pasta could become more expensive. Years ago, I read No Blade of Grass, sometimes titled The Death of Grass, by John Christopher, a novel about what could happen if a worldwide pandemic were to affect crops such as wheat and rice.

    1. Foppe

      think more of fodder — most of the wheat the world produces is used by animal ag, not for human consumption. Then again, we’re more likely to let others starve than to decrease animal product consumption, what with the latter’s “importance” for the economy, and precedent.

        1. Foppe

          Where do you get that from? the first table on p.2 from this report seems pretty clear that the opposite is the case. The table on p.4 is even clearer, esp if you take out India, the only big country where the opposite is the case.

            1. Foppe

              okay, so it’s ~25% for wheat proper vs. 60% of total “grain (which includes soy, for whatever reason)” consumption. Either way, that’s a huge amount of farmland that could be put to use for the production of crops intended for human consumption, a huge driver of monocropping, etc.

              1. nowhere

                Agreed. The reason I looked it up was that I didn’t recall animal feed really being composed of wheat; it’s still shockingly high.

          1. Vatch

            Foppe, you’re correct that most grain is used for animal feed, but that’s because corn (maize) and soybeans are mostly used as animal feed, rather than as food for humans. Most wheat is used as food for humans, and little, if any, rice is used as animal feed.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Perhaps the next human species evolves from that particular trait.

        It’s been a while, but I think we are due to be replaced. It’s unlikely we are ‘the best and finest’ evolution can offer

    2. Katharine

      I notice the story says nothing about monocropping, which in the circumstances seems analogous to leaving dirty dishes all over an apartment with a roach problem.

    3. Chauncey Gardiner

      The widespread emergence of a particularly virulent wheat fungus is worrisome. We in urban areas often forget that agriculture is foundational.

      Quality of the research teams appears to be very high. Was interested in their assessment of potential causal factors, including global warming.

  24. Corey

    Among Trump’s most popular tirades is the one about how American airports are “like from a Third World country.” And he’s right.

    Uhh, no. Anyone who thinks America is like a Third-world country should really try living in (not just visiting) one. You will very quickly experience the absence of infrastructure and amenities you take for granted every day. Reliable electricity, drinkable water, decent roads. Not perfect in America, surely. But no comparison to a real 3rd-world country. And then there is what happens when the fuel supplies are interrupted. You can watch an entire city slowly coast to a stop as the gasoline runs out.

    But there are trade-offs. In my particular corner of the 3rd-world [I write this to the hum of a backup power generator since the electricity is out again] the pace of life is slower, the culture more traditional, people are more interested in family, friends, dancing, and the casual enjoyment of life, rather than the smooth functioning of industry. Money is earned grudgingly, as a necessity, but it is not the focus of life. If the power is out or the roads are worn, it is a nuisance but doesn’t threaten anything really important. Light a fire, pour a drink, prepare a meal with family or friends. Life goes on.

    Comparisons between the United States and 3rd-world countries are difficult because wealth and GDP and technology and material comfort may not capture true quality of life. People are poor, utilities are unreliable, the water is not fit for drinking, but they seem much happier here than back in America (and in studies they self-report as being happier). America is not like a 3rd-world country at all. But it could afford to learn just one or two things from one.

      1. Anonymous

        Every time I see her name it reminds me of her massive ethical violations committed during her ethnographic study in Ireland

    1. RabidGandhi

      It’s a category error. I too live in what is generally classified as a third-world country (in a particularly third-worldy region thereof), but if one goes to certain neighbourhoods of the capital, none of the disadvantages you mention (and which I am more than familiar with) ever appear. The same is true from my experience of the US. Whether one has modern infrastructure, reliable internet, drinkable water… all vary by zone and income level. So is the US a third-world country? Depends on where you live and how much money you have.

      In that regard, the “banana republic” tag here at NC is quite apt, as the US takes on the characteristics associated more with the third world: rampant inequality, thoroughly corrupt political institutions, outright oligarchical graft…

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Are you sure you live in a 3rd World country? There are countries in “bad repair” but where you live seems more like 4th, 5th or worse World country.

    1. IdahoSpud

      Heh. On the bright side, we would get to witness what a state-size gated community looks like…

      1. RabidGandhi

        I for one am confused as to the contours of that gate. For example, does it include the deplorables living in trailor homes in the Inland Empire? What about the Hillary Hating Marine Widows in Oceanside? Where does Victorville with its unemployed methadone users fit on the map? Is Redding to be cast into the irredemable darkness?

        Not that I’m accusing the innovativey-smart ultra-credentialled #Resistance of not thinking things through…

        1. IdahoSpud

          Pretty sure that all gated communities have an underclass to tend the Commons. It’s not as if ‘those people’ would be living within walking distance of the tennis court!

      2. wilroncanada

        Knee-jerk categorizing is something this site has always striven to avoid. It doesn’t contribute anything but noise. As a Canadian East Coast comic once said: “I hate knee-jerk categorizers, they’re all the same.”

  25. fresno dan
    Automation is coming….

    “Experts predict interactive and virtual porn—along with super-realistic computer generated “actors”—will become the next big thing in the world of adult entertainment. But as the technology becomes cheaper, more user-friendly, and socially acceptable, it’s poised to become (literal) stiff competition for the adult movie industry and the people who work in it, according to futurists, innovators, and porn executives.”
    They can have my real hot sex movies when they pry it out of my cold dead Hard drive…..

    1. ambrit

      I worry about those cases where “red hot (and illegal in a jurisdiction near you,) sex movies” are downloaded onto someones, ahem, “hard drive” to create grounds for prosecution.
      Automating the sex trade is sort of the entire point of the exercise. A good story about such a quandary is “Blue Champagne” by John Varley. The idea of capturing and playing back emotions is the real fascination, and the real terror. Imagine having feelings implanted in your brain. True “deep programming” would then be possible. A Brave New World indeed!
      This sounds like someone read Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” and then fell asleep ruminating. Next up will be Huxley’s “feelies” from “Brave New World.” As a woman of my acquaintance once replied to a fellow student’s boast about his “automatic” sex drive; “What’s the matter? Manual isn’t good enough for you?”
      On a side note; what, pray tell, is a “porn executive?”

      1. UserFriendly

        On a side note; what, pray tell, is a “porn executive?

        I’m assuming a slightly overweight creepy guy who finances the film, shows up at shooting day to ‘supervise’ and then manages to take the majority of whatever profit is made.

  26. dcblogger

    I am THRILLED with all the anti-Trump protests. This is what we should have done after the Supreme Court stole it for Bush.

    1. Sally

      Protest is pointless unless you offer an alternative.

      Obama promised to end the wars but left office with America in more wars…. Lybia, Syria, Sudan, Yemen. He promised to go after the bankers but gave them more bail outs, and didn’t prosecute a single banker. His appointed Larry Summers and Tim Guietner at Treasury, which told you everything you needed to know about that betrayal. He appointeed people to his justice department from a law firm in New York whose biggest client was a Golden Sachs.

      He promised a public option on health care but ended up pushing the giant give away to the medical insurance companies and big phama. It was Romney care, which was written by The Herritage foundation. So now the Democratic Party owns that just like they own NAFTA after Bill Clinton past that bill.

      He abolished Habeas Corpus, and used the espionage act to prosecute more whistle blowers than all previous presidents combind. It used terrorism laws and the NSA to destroy the occupy movement. I could go on for pages and pages but I will stop here.

      Where were your protests for all this stuff? Please don’t tell me you were thrilled with it.

      1. Vatch

        Protest is pointless unless you offer an alternative.

        Partly true. Initially, protesting Trump’s nominations can prevent some very bad people from taking office. In these cases, there really aren’t alternatives, other than the hope that Trump will get the message and nominate people who are less extreme. And he really might do that, since his negotiating strategy seems to be that he likes to start from an extreme position, and if his counterpart objects, then move closer to a mutually agreeable position.

        Eventually, the alternative is going to have to be someone from the Bernie Sanders realm of politics. We can’t settle for Cory Booker (aka Obama II) or similar people.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The last person Trump converses with tends to leave the deepest impression – that’s what I have read.

          Perhaps the key then is to make the meeting the last appointment of the day.

          1. Vatch

            Few of us have the option of talking to Trump. We can’t even talk to our Senators, but we can talk to a Senator’s staff person who answers the phone. All of us need to do what is feasible.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              We the people are little.

              i was thinking maybe Tulsi, Bernie, Warren, Kucinich or Ellison. People he might see. When they see him, try to get the last appointment.

      2. jrs

        I don’t think protest is pointless unless you offer an alternative (should those protesting the Iraqi war have offered an alternative before protesting it, uh no, the alternative was just not to go to war). But protest against a person rather than a policy is somewhat pointless (except maybe for longer term movement building which eventually will have to take on issues).

        1. Vatch

          Yes, although I think that Sally’s point is that Obama wasn’t much of an alternative to the Republicans. With the exception of a few social issues, he was identical to the Republicans. Maybe you know that, and your (correct) point is that Obama did not do the alternatives.

      3. fresno dan

        February 5, 2017 at 2:00 pm


        It is unfortunate how little emphasis is placed on what politicians actually do, and so much on their PR.

    2. Montanamaven

      What I learned from 2000 was that most of us were asleep. I was definitely asleep during th 1990s and didn’t realize what a horror Bill Clinton was and the hurt he inflicted from NAFTA to the Telecommunicaions act to repeal of Glass Steagall to the spread of the exurbs to mass incarceration of people of color. (Catch the Oscar nominated doc “The 13th” about the 13th amendment and the book “The New Jim Crow”.
      Al Gore was more of the same. He even was for the Iraq War (so don’t go there with “if we had elected Al” baloney).
      So, no or NO (in caps). Sally points out that having an alternative vision is essential. Scatter shot demonstrations that seem more about making the participants feel good than about making change, are pretty useless. Direct Action is needed. Sit ins are needed. Hello, not calling your senators office but what about sitting in your senator’s office. In Vietnam days, people raided draft offices and burned the draft records. In the gay “Act Up” movement, the dying HIV men sat in offices and wouldn’t leave..
      Forgive me if I’m not impressed with these “protests” of people showing up at airports saying “I’m an immigrant”.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Yeah, I’ve sat in in Peter DeFazio’s office. (Wyden’s was closed in our honor.) It does get their attention – they really don’t like having constituents arrested.

        It was Clinton that made me a Green. Reagan made me a Democrat (vaguely New Left, before that); Clinton cured me.

  27. susan the other

    Thanks for A History of Dark Matter and its link to new theories about gravity. ARs tech. A certain Dutch physicist, Herr Verlinde, is looking at gravity as the explanation for the phenomenon we call dark matter. Gravity can explain all the weird things just as well as dark matter can, eliminating dark matter speculation altogether perhaps. The speed of light really isn’t such a constant constant – there are event horizons whenever it is breached. It appears the one constant is gravity. Now if they could just define it. Just like the new thinking on the origin and survival of life, gravity “is a consequence of information and is driven by entropy.” OK then. And entropy is relative to particle physics, etc. So, does entropy cause the illusion of dark matter? The physicists are now looking for a “massive particle” to explain the universal surplus of gravity.

    1. RMO

      I find the whole dark matter and dark energy thing fascinating. It reminds me a little of circular orbits with epicycles – it seems like there may be a big advance coming in our understanding of the universe.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I feel we are on the verge of major advances in physics, genetics and chemistry. I blame the Neoliberal Science for hire as the villain slowing these epocal discoveries.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Epicycles: my thought exactly. Dark Matter (and probably Dark Energy, as well) is a kludge, something they dreamed up to patch a contradiction in their results. That doesn’t mean it isn’t so; but they’re remarkably close to an extraordinary achievement, proving something’s nonexistence. The more they look and the more they spend, the more they don’t find it.

        A big advance, if the physicists are lucky. Otherwise, it’s just turtles all the way down.

    2. craazyman

      If you pull on the rope long enough what comes out of the dark water is s a great Spider who wove the Univerrse and all the machines and all the math are dim approximations of the glistening of the stands in its web. It makes you wonder whether Art or Science has the final word. The more I think about it, the more I think Art does.

      You have a wondeful mind. You should teach your self some math! LOL

      1. flora

        Well, now I’m worried for myself, because you make sense, in a completely non-linear and nonsensical way. “…a great Spider who wove the Universe…” Something beyond reason. uh-oh…. Art jumping vast chasms of linear, scientific reason to cross the void. Yet, I cannot discard the enlightenment and its rigorous fealty to reason and proof. I’m so confused.

    1. Katharine

      I tried for five minutes to find an adequate comment, couldn’t do it. If she ever gets arrested, I hope that staggering little self-revelation is entered as evidence.

    2. Massinissa

      I would be ok with it if all she did was steal things like avocados. But she steals random shit like scented candles.

      Does she really need scented candles to survive? Heck, why would she even want a scented candle so badly that she would steal it? Its not like stealing a novel or dvd or perfume bottle, even. Why a scented candle? They arnt useful or even particularly fun. Will stealing a scented candle really improve her quality of life in any way? Stealing a scented candle seems bourgeois somehow.

      Seems like nothing more than a kleptophile trying to explain away her compulsion.

      As you say, when black women go around stealing scented candles, they end up in prison.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Les Miserables would read a lot different had Victor Hugo’s protagonist stolen scented candles, instead of pain.

  28. JEHR

    Trump is being blamed for his many lies and hypocrisies, but he is only continuing the government lies and hypocrisies that have been ongoing for years, if this article is to be believed.

    1. fresno dan

      February 5, 2017 at 2:17 pm

      They are subjects that serious reporters and commentators have the deeply indoctrinated common sense to avoid.
      The first source was the town’s mayor, Chris Louras, who has been leading an effort to make Rutland a refugee resettlement hub that would welcome 25 Syrian families in 2017. When asked about why he’s been pushing for this, the mayor cited humanitarian concerns (“it’s the right thing to do”) but also (and above all) mentioned economic considerations. Rutland’s unemployment rate of 3 percent is “dangerously low,” making it hard for companies to find workers and thereby inhibiting investment and “growth,” the mayor told CNN.
      Don’t take it just from left radicals past (King) and present (Hedges). In his recent magisterial study of the overlapping “deep state” concentrations of corporate, financial, and governmental power that control American society beneath and beyond the nation’s quadrennial electoral carnivals, the former longtime Republican Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren notes that the U.S. struggles with widespread poverty, rotting infrastructure, inadequate health care, and deficient pubic services (schools, transportation, and more) not because the government lacks money but because too much of its money goes to serve entrenched interests. Top among those interests is the nation’s enormous military-industrial complex, funded by a Pentagon budget that accounts for more than half of U.S. federal discretionary spending and nearly half the world’s military outlay.

      It seems to me that most of the article is irrefutable on the facts. It is an amazing thing how we go on about our “free press” when it is in fact so self censored – so, so many questions not asked.

      Some of the self censoring is due to money, but I think most of it is due to the same reason everybody in small southern towns goes to church – humans for the most part are fearful of confronting the almighty – if America has NEVER stopped being great, why are things so f*cked up?

  29. Toolate

    “This is our truncated version of Rob Mielcarski’s outline for our predicament:
    pauls-web.jpgThe short-term solution to our problems is the long-term cause of our problems: economic growth;
    The long-term solution to our problems is the short-term cause of our problems: reduced consumption;
    All political parties in all countries and almost all citizens, including the few citizens that understand our predicament, reject our best course of action: austerity;
    The only problems society does not acknowledge, or discuss, or act on, are the only problems that matter: species extinction, limits to growth, debt, overshoot, resource depletion, climate change, sea level rise, fisheries collapse & ocean acidification, nitrogen imbalance & tree decline;
    The only possible permanent solution is rejected by the belief systems of 90+% of citizens: population reduction;
    Citizens have wildly different beliefs about our predicament: there is no problem; there is a problem but it’s not caused by humans; I don’t want to think about it; technology will save us; it’s in the hands of God; I’ve already done enough; someone else needs to do something first; my actions won’t make a difference; someone else will consume whatever I give up; it’s too late to do anything;
    The leader of the free world denies science and issues daily, jaw-dropping, cringe-inducing tweets: Trump
    The one world leader that did understand the problem and spoke out was rejected by the citizens and no longer speaks out: Jimmy Carter
    We do not acknowledge that the world’s economic problems began with the peaking of a key non-renewable resource: conventional oil
    Every country has similar economic problems and not one leader anywhere in the world connects the dots and publicly acknowledges the root cause, even after they leave office: energy extraction cost + debt
    The professionals with the most influence on public policy use models that violate the most trusted laws of physics: economists
    The scientific theory that explains the relationship between the economy, energy, and climate is ignored by everyone that should understand it: Tim Garrett
    The people who deserve the most respect and admiration get the least: scientists
    The people who deserve the least respect and admiration get the most: celebrities
    All types of non-fossil energy do not provide a substitute for the only energy we can’t live without: diesel for trucks, trains, ships, tractors, and combines; natural gas for fertilizer
    All climate science models that do not predict disaster now depend on an unproven technology that we probably can’t afford and other species definitely can’t afford: BECCS (bio-energy with carbon capture and storage)
    Earth with its diverse complex life and a highly intelligent species is extraordinarily rare, precious, and worth fighting to protect, yet we dream of other barren homes: colonizing Mars
    The tool that could be used to unite citizens in common purpose and useful action is instead being used to create tribes that reinforce preexisting beliefs: internet
    The few sources of information that understand and communicate the truth are under threat: fake news”

  30. djrichard

    Re: Intra-Elite Competition: A Key Concept for Understanding the Dynamics of Complex Societies — Cliodynamica

    Interesting read. I think the answer to this conundrum is that “war campaigns” have been submerged into “marketing campaigns”. As in, “why are we fighting when there’s plenty of spoils to go around?”.

    After all, it’s not like everybody wants to assertively stake their ground in the game of empire. Those that don’t are therefore part of the spoils. Either their wallet is, or their vote is.

    And this works beautifully. It yields a self-organizing mafia: all the winners get a share of the spoils, organized into a food-chain where the best marketing percolates to the top. It’s a veritable meritocracy.

    The fly in the ointment of all this of course is when meritocracy of marketing campaigns runs head-long into brute populism. In a way, populism is anathema to marketing campaigns. Vice versa: marketing campaigns are anathema to populism. Because marketing campaigns are what’s required when there are many losers and few winners. As in real wars. As in what neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism has produced in the world. It took a lot of marketing to get to where we’re at today.

    So when I see the media fighting Trump, it isn’t because he’s an orangutan. Rather, the media is fighting for a way of life, one where the media has a central role, the role of being the conduit for marketing campaigns. What role does media have in a society organized around populism? Indeed, what role do the elite have when the society they planned to conquer through marketing campaigns has been conquered through populism?

    What’s fascinating is to see the flag for marketing campaigns being carried not just by the media and the elites, but by a good amount of the common people too. One would think people would naturally gravitate to populism. I’m guessing people weened on marketing campaigns can’t imagine another way for the mafia of elites to be organized. I don’t know something like, “It’s the rightful inheritance of elites to seduce us to be their spoils.”

  31. Foppe

    Brock/Sirota-like ‘token progressive’, or more worrisome?

    For all the media hype, the Obama campaign’s organizing strategy is still not well understood. Organizer, writer, and Open Society Fellow Zack Exley led a conversation about how the Internet actually contributed to efforts on the ground, what worked and what didn’t, and how the organizers’ training and work was a radical departure from traditional electoral politics.

    He discussed how the campaign borrowed strategies from the community-organizing world and specific innovations that can be exported back out to nongovernmental organizations. Exley also looked at what activists inspired by the campaign are doing today.

    Leonard Benardo, director of the Open Society Fellowship program, introduced the event.

    Exley being the dude who was part of Bernie’s campaign, and one of the authors of the book that was being promoted as describing the keys to their success. Now part of the Justice Democrats. Oddly, his linkedin doesn’t mention his work for the OSF: Bit of a transparency fail.

    1. UserFriendly

      This isn’t really directed at you Foppe, or this one instance, but more at the general ‘red under the bed’ mentality people have when looking for Soros puppets.

      I would absolutely love it if Soros kept his money to himself from now on, but seeing as how that is unlikely I don’t really see the point of the neverending witch hunts about who has gotten what money from him and where. IMO we should be worried about if any of his funding came with strings. It would be next to impossible to route out everyone who has ever touched Soros money. It would involve telling people like Zephyr Teachout, who literally wrote the book on corruption, to get lost because she didn’t pass muster. INET, one of the very few places that does any decent economics, was funded almost entirely by Soros.

      It would also mean that we need to follow right wing nut jobs down rabbit holes like this:

      I’m just not buying that Soros funded 63 out of 400+ partners to the women’s march with the goal of funding the opposition to the inevitable Trump Presidency. Or:

      I’m not all that surprised that a bunch of groups founded to protect immigrants mobilized in response to Trump’s ban, Soros funded or otherwise.

      Is his money corrupting to the process? Absolutely. Should we seek to minimize whatever influence he has? Definitely. Does that mean excommunicating everyone who ever did anything in his orbit? no.

  32. tgs

    re Trump Defends Killer Putin

    Life under Trump is quite a roller coaster ride. Yesterday, my sympathy was at a low ebb. Then he goes on O’Reilly, says something that is obviously true and important, and gets pilloried, especially by liberals.

    Of course, he’s probably up to something right now that will have me pulling my hair out later tonight.

    1. Sally

      It’s not just the liberals…..Jack McCain, son of John McCain just tweeted this….

      “My nation of laws just got compared to one that murders journalists that don’t fall in line and kills political opposition……… Awesome ”

      Jack MCCain is obviously a dewy eyed idiot. His dad lives off the military industrial complex. How much money is Jack going to inherit that came on the death of millions?

      1. craazyman

        It reminds me of what a dear friend, a poet and playwright who waso one of the most intellectually vibrant lights I have ever known, with the highest concciencce and integrity of spirit, said about Alexandar the Great, “He probably never had an original thought in his life.” It’s probably true.

  33. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thanks for the link to the article by the Indian corporate CEO about the damage to India’s economy caused by Modi’s demonetization.

    Don’t know if it’s related to the economic damage and political blowback from the Indian government’s failed “War on Cash” that has so damaged not only those who rely on the Cash economy for their living, but even large transnational corporations; but CNBC reported a few days ago that the government of India is reportedly now considering a Universal Basic Income targeting the most impoverished segments of Indian society. As in France and Finland, it will be interesting to see if the proposal gains political traction.

  34. Stephen Tynan

    You are on fire today, Lambert.
    It’s like reading the Sunday Times (of London) with better content.

  35. Vatch

    The U.S. Senate will convene at noon Eastern Standard Time on Monday, February 6, 2017 (calendar). So if you haven’t had a chance to contact your Senators’ offices about pending nominations, you still have time. You can also call over the weekend, but by now almost all of the voice mailboxes are likely full. So please call on Monday morning to express your opinion about Betsy DeVos, Steven Mnuchin, Scott Pruitt, et al!

    Here’s contact information for the Senate:

    If you live in a state with only one Republican Senator, your call will have extra weight. For self preservation, Senators in split states need to pay attention to people from the other side (not that all of them do that, though). These are the split states:

    North Dakota
    West Virginia

  36. Oregoncharles

    “Membership for the Democratic Socialists of America, or the DSA, has nearly tripled in the last 6 months, up from 6,000 to 15,000 nationwide. ”

    Heartwarming, yes, but the Green Party has almost that many registered members in Oregon alone, and gets several times that many actual votes simply by putting our name on the ballot. Even our numbers aren’t that impressive, but they’re way beyond 15,000. As for growth: we began the year by losing almost half our registrations, and wound up with a substantial gain, so our numbers doubled after the primary. (Registration matters in Oregon; we have closed primaries, and registration numbers are critical to ballot access. About 5,000 people changed their registration to vote for Bernie in the primary, then changed it back.) Realistically, we owe Bernie a lot for stirring the pot so thoroughly.

    In Oregon, the Green Party are the Socialists, because when the latter party lost their ballot line, most of them switched to Pacific Green. And nationally, recent additions to the platform make the US Green Party socialist, too. Yes, I’m being competitive: this is about politics. It’s also about economic policy.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In the movie Reds, Ten-Days-That-Shook-The-World Reed played by Beatty argued with Fraina, played by Paul Sorvino, about either to take over the Socialist Party, or to form a new party.

      If history doesn’t repeat itself. Today, it’s whether to form a new party or take over the Democratic Party.

      Shortly after, in the film, they clashed again. This time over who to get recognition from Comintern. Should the Russians or rather, the Soviets, recognize the Communist Party of America, or the Communist Labor Party of America?

  37. fresno dan

    The Super Bowl has become the Red Carpet of the NFL; it’s more for celebrities and non fans to be seen than for the true diehards. For crying out loud, the commercials of this event are celebrated. For such a lucrative game, they get volunteers to work and compel cities to fork over the money to host. Essentially, the NFL is paid to host the Super Bowl, not the other way around.

    I guess what I hate is how money and soap-opera type drama dominates the game. I watch many people struggle to pay bills, yet this NFL machine won’t stop consuming. All for what? What is the return? A 20-minute game?
    When I was young (BEFORE Monday night football), because being on the West coast, it was possible to see three games on a Sunday (before VCR). My Mom used to ask how I could sit there for so long watching people, who she said “all they do is fall down.”
    With the years come wisdom…or at least in my case a diminishment of stupidity. You were right Mom.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In a Butterfly Effect sort of way, the games at the Imperial Homeland can be linked to deaths (people, animals and plants) all over the world…to need to consume, the need to urge consumers to consume, the need to make more money to consume what the commercials urge the consumers to consume, etc.

      So, a question can be asked: Did the games kill more than our presidents? Will they kill more in the future?

  38. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


    In Maine, that’s what they say, ME ME.

    In California, we say, CA CA.

    And in Georgia, they say GA GA.

  39. Blurtman

    Under a program established by the U.S. State Department and negotiated with the government of Austria, members of certain Iranian non-Muslim religious minority groups are eligible to receive visas to travel to Austria, where they can be safe while the U.S. government processes their applications for refugee resettlement. This arrangement is a lifeline for Iranian religious minorities, since the United States has no embassy in Iran, and cannot interview applicants there.

  40. Praedor

    Ummmm. The Jacobin article on a job guarantee vs universal basic income…it notes that the job guarantee would provide more than twice the income of the UBI, as if this is organic to the two ideas. Why not do a UBI that starts at $23k/yr? There is no reason other than choice that a UBI should only offer 10k/yr. Hell, make it 30k! See how simple that is? The very same policy CHOICE that would make a job guarantee pay 23k or more a year is the same policy choice available for UBI.

    1. integer

      I note that drones were used in the halftime show.
      Unfortunately none of them were armed and targeting Lady Gaga.
      Where’s the luck?

  41. ewmayer

    Re. Super Bowl 51: Glad I sneaked a few peeks back at the score in the 3rd quarter, then watched all of the 4th and the OT.

    Hope my fellow watchers are getting treatment for their heart attacks. :)

    1. ProNewerDeal

      I was rooting for the ATLiens as if I were Andre 3000 or Big Boi from OutKast. I grudgingly credit the Patriots for the impressive comeback win, which in THIS season was apparently done without any known cheating scandal.

      I suppose ConManD0n, friend of the Patriots owner, coach & QB, will somehow try to steal credit for the victory as if here were the QB Brady himself

  42. udlee

    “An infection that struck wheat crops in Sicily last year is a new and unusually devastating strain of fungus, researchers say — and its spores may spread to infect this year’s harvests in Europe, the world’s largest wheat-producing region.”

    Europe is the wolds largest wheat producer? Not a chance.

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