Links 3/10/17

Malta’s ‘Azure Window’ rock formation collapses into the sea Reuters (YY)

Alaska’s Big Problem With Warmer Winters Bloomberg (resilc)

Dying robots and failing hope: Fukushima clean-up falters six years after tsunami Guardian

Researchers create ‘time crystals’ envisioned by Princeton scientists PhysOrg (guurst)

Quantum leaps Economist (David L)

Dental plaque DNA shows Neandertals used ‘aspirin’ PhysOrg. Chuck L: “And Penicillium fungus!”

Ancient technique can dramatically improve memory, research suggests Guardian (Chuck L)


As North Korea loses its use, China loses its patience South China Morning Post

Tesla humiliates Do-nothing Australian government MacroBusiness

Professor Steve Keen on the problem with Europe Daily Reckoning (Chuck L)

Wilders’ one-man band heads for Dutch poll destiny Financial Times

Germans Really, Really Love the Euro – Bloomberg (Chuck L). As they should. A new Deutschemark would shoot to the moon and kill Germany’s trade surplus. Not that it is healthy for them but they are fixated on it, sort of like Alberich and his gold.

Charismatic legitimacy Irrusianality


We’ll fight EU demand for £52bn ‘divorce bill’, warns May: PM tells leaders British people did not vote for Brexit to carry on sending money to Brussels DailyMail. Help me. Again, the EU has been crystal clear: we aren’t negotiating with you on your new trade arrangement until this tab is settled (or more accurately, a way to settle it has been sorted out/finessed). As we described in our post yesterday, the UK has a ton more to lose than the EU if it triggers Article 50 and then gets to the end of the 24 month “you are out, deal or no deal” period with no deal. The British obtuseness about their upside and downside makes Trump look like a paragon of circumspection by comparison.

Britain will have to pay Brexit ‘divorce bill’, says Irish Prime Minister Independent

Mrs May is our first Catholic prime minister The Times. Wow, you can publish openly bigoted stuff like this in the UK as long as you wrap it in enough historical blather. To their credit, the Times’ readers savaged the piece.

Poland reacts with fury to re-election of Donald Tusk Guardian

Vault 7

The WikiLeaks revelations and the crimes of US imperialism WSWS (Micael)

Let’s Give the CIA the Credit It Deserves Norman Solomon, Common Dreams

The Conflict within the Deep State Just Broke into Open Warfare Charles Hugh Smith

New Cold War

Debunking the Trump-Putin conspiracy stories Fabius Maximus (resilc)

Putin’s Ears Must be Burning: a Report on the Banality of Propaganda Counterpunch


IS conflict: US sends Marines to support Raqqa assault BBC (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Lessons From the CIA Hacking Leak: How to Keep Your Data Secure Bloomberg (furzy)

Trump Transition

The Conflict within the Deep State Just Broke into Open Warfare Charles Hugh Smith (dougie)

A Key Part of the GOP’s Plan to Overhaul the Tax Code Is in Deep Trouble Bloomberg. We told you that the Republicans were going to find it hard to all get on the same page on tax…and this is far from the only issue they have to sort out.

Trump Mulls Cutting $6 Billion From HUD to Fund Defense New York Magazine (resilc)

Gutting Dodd-Frank Is Hard, So Republicans Focus Elsewhere Bloomberg (resilc)

More US states challenge Trump travel ban BBC

On Labor and Beyond, Trump Is Following Scott Walker’s Playbook Truthout

The Rehabilitation of George W. Bush, War Criminal Alternet (Sid S)

2016 Post Mortem

To win, the anti-Trump resistance must learn from the Clinton campaign’s mistakes Salon (John Z)

The Problem With the Democratic Party in One Milquetoast Tweet New York Magazine (resilc). OMG, this is SO embarrassing!

Bernie Sanders Has A Plan To Win Back Trump Voters Huffington Post (UserFriendly)


WH privately supports earlier rollback of Medicaid expansion: report The Hill (UserFriendly)

Cruz: Let’s overrule Senate officer to expand ObamaCare bill The Hill (UserFriendly)

Samsung to expand in U.S., shift some manufacturing from Mexico: WSJ Reuters (furzy)

US Infrastructure Report Card: America gets a D Plus, and a Big Bill to Fix it Wired (resilc)

Exclusive – Saudis tell U.S. oil: OPEC won’t extend cuts to offset shale – sources Reuters (resilc)

Guillotine Watch

This Rolls Royce is painted with real diamond dust CNN (UserFriendly)

Class Warfare

Technology outsmarts the human investor Financial Times

Rise of the Machines: A Burger Flipping Robot Is About To Start Work at a Fast Food Chain Food & Wine (resilc)

What Happens if You’re Too Poor to Pay Bail? Nation (resilc)

American Carnage Christopher Caldwell,First Things (resilc)

Antidote du jour. Timotheus: “An Icelandic horse, taken by a friend.”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. Benedict@Large

      At the outset, Germans were reluctant, so since they were critical to the project, they were brought in under advantageous terms. Then, when they failed in their obligations early on, the same people who are noe pillaging Greece let them off the hook. Twice advantaged, Germany then proceeded to well outpace all of her new partners. Even now, when Germany’s banks should all long ago have collapsed from their loans, they are again being bailed out by forcing those bad loans onto others for payment.

      Of course Germany loves the Euro. They own it.

      1. Tom

        [It is absolutely not true] that Germany wants the Euro because it futhers her surplus. Ever since Germany entered the world market in industrial goods she has run a surplus. In fact the country of origin requirement was invented by the British in the late 19.century because they believed “Made in Germany” would keep the English from buying goods made by the Huns. Instead it turned into one of the greatest Trade marks the world has ever seen.
        In the Twenties Germany and even more the Thirties the dominant colonial powers France and Britain kept Germany out of world markets. Henry Wallace, Keynes and other progressives warned of the consequences and made a new world trade order the cornerstone of post WWII economic order.
        From the Sixties Germany ran a trade surplus. In fact it became to huge that the US went off the gold standard. But not before the Bundesbank had the third largest Gold vault in the world. Which Germany loyally deposited in New York where half of it still remains.
        The seventies and eighties saw an ever increasing German trade surplus. It grew even after the Plaza accords which forced up the value of the Mark.
        There was a short period in the beginning of the Nineties when Germany ran a deficit. But that was only because f reunification.
        Ever since its been back to the way it has been whenever Germany had full accesss to foreign markets.
        Just as an illustraion here a chart form wikipedia showing German foreign trade since 1965

    1. craazyman

      I thought the eyes were human eyes dropped in with photoshop, but I looked on the internet for “horses eyes” and see they’re all like that, almost the same anatomy as human eyes.

      That horse looks more capable of deep thoughts than I am.

      I just wonder where the friend took the horse. You’d think it would be hard to take a horse out of Iceland — you only have boat and plane and neither one would be easy.

  1. gsinbe

    I’d call the Common Dreams article a quick “must read”. A snippet:

    “And how about the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? The Kremlin can only marvel at the way that the CIA, the NSA and the bipartisan leadership in Washington have shredded the Fourth Amendment while claiming to uphold it.”

    1. DJG

      Agreed. I doubt that it will end all of the hyperventilating and bad faith, but the article is a small start.

      A quibble: He should not have let Hillary Clinton off the hook. She is part of the surveillance state and got hoisted on her own petard.

      1. Plenue

        Common Dreams won’t be worthwhile again until they stop the daily ‘RESIST DAY #X: What You Can Do Today’ posts. Of course, for me that would just be the first step, since my personal experience with them has been completely soured by the fact that they purged my account and banned my IP the day after the election. I’ve browsed their comments sections in the months since, and my perception is that was quite a lot of IP banning; there seems to be a lot less critical and erudite commentary than there was before the election.

        On a related note, Democracy Now! has gone full bore DNC apparatchik. They’ve lavishly covered the various fake protest parades (Women’s March etc), with as far as I can tell nary a single critical voice suggesting that “hey, isn’t this whole thing kind of bourgeoisie and out of touch?”, blindly accept the word of the intelligence community (just a few days ago they had a ‘debate’ over whether Trump’s Russia ties were a real security issue or just fodder for critics. The idea that he doesn’t have meaningful ties wasn’t a valid option), and of course an endless stream of pretentious artists and dubious activists lamenting the state of doing X in the age of Trump, as if things were meaningfully different under Obama.

        Not just the election, but the aftermath continues to be wonderfully illuminating.

        1. Oregoncharles

          It’s a long tradition at Common Dreams, just one reason I go there only if it’s linked by someone I trust. There is, if you’ll believe it, a website devoted to the issue.

          Welcome to the club.

          Options were narrower back when, so we changed our IP to get back in under different pseudonyms. When I called our ISP (a local business) to make the change, the tech immediately asked “Because you were banned by a web site?” – so it’s not uncommon. They changed the IP for us anyway. You can also just change ISP.

        2. hidflect

          I was banned for “right wing propaganda” when I pointed out the DNC emails were leaked, not hacked. Barry went on to say the same thing.

  2. fresno dan

    The Rehabilitation of George W. Bush, War Criminal Alternet (Sid S)

    It is another to acknowledge the authorship of the United States in the destruction of nations in the region, and its role in the incubation of groups like ISIS. How does one even begin to consider that Bush—the instigator of the destruction of Iraq—is now considered to be an avuncular figure among liberals?

    How did Obama get to be a hero among liberals? How did the CIA become the defender of truth and justice? Propaganda 24/7

      1. jrs

        Depends on what is meant by liberals, if what is meant is the Dem leaders, they never had any real problem with W but they had to pretend to for votes.

    1. Deadl E Cheese

      It’s more jarring to see liberals rehabilitate George W. Bush because A.) they constantly use his victory in 2000 election as a cudgel against anyone slightly to their left and B.) the pundits of the more militant Balloon-Juice/Daily Kos/Daily Show style liberalism not only made him their folk devil for sixteen years but they literally made their careers off of dunking on him.

      There’s been a lot of ink devoted to Mommy Dearest’s irresponsible and profoundly reactionary campaign where she stoked Russophobia for political utility, but comparatively little on how Abuela intentionally rehabilitated monsters like Reagan and Kissinger and Negroponte. But that’s pretty much what we’re seeing here.

      1. RabidGandhi

        I for one think it’s a good thing liberals are now seeing that Bush and Obama are the same. Now if we could just transmorgify that same treatment from sycophantic deference to war crimes prosecution.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Problem is that “liberals” see they are exactly the same but think that’s perfectly OK. So identity politics and virtue signalling etc aside, isn’t it time to declare that Americans as a whole love foreign wars, pervasive government spying, a free ride for criminal bankers, and health care designed to enrich billionaires? Is it just a few aging hippies with white hair who remember what it meant to fight for peace and economic justice?

          1. RabidGandhi

            Everything you mentioned– foreign wars, pervasive gov’t spying, free rides for criminal bankers and health care designed to enrich billionaires– are all consistently opposed by vast majorities in US polls.

            Thank Vishnu, the liberals are a fleeting minority.

        2. jrs

          Meanwhile conservatives KNOW they aren’t the same. Obama has dark skin!

          Really truly how much of the devastation of Democrats after Obama (and I know the Dems suck badly, but it’s not like we’re getting anything better now that Rs hold all the power), was really just LBJ losing the South all over again? Only this time not just losing the South for a generation but the country for a generation.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Same sh*t, different day [from BBC link above]:

      The US has sent 400 additional troops to Syria to support an allied local force aiming to capture the so-called Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa. They include Marines, who arrived in the past few days. US special forces are already in Syria.

      Meanwhile, US-led coalition air strikes killed 20 civilians – including children – near the city, reports say. “Secretary Tillerson has been crystal clear that defeating Isis (IS) is the state department’s top priority in the Middle East,” acting state department spokesman Mark Toner said.

      Winning hearts and minds, as “we” used to say in Vietnam. Slaughter their kids, then expect them to shower our troops heroes with rose petals and chocolates.

      Speaking of which, where are our 535 Kongress Klowns? The president can just launch a war on Syria on his own initiative?

      Victory in Raqqa would be the same thing as victory in Kabul: another trillion-dollar tar baby, in endlessly propping up a squalid puppet regime in a wrecked country.

      We’ve engaged the turbo boosters on imperial decline. Prepare for a Challenger-style rocket ride into terrain under America’s deranged War Party leadership.

    3. John Wright

      One must give George Bush credit, he has been working overtime to improve his image.

      He graciously agreed to only charge 100K to speak at a 2012 veterans charity event, attended by some veterans who lost limbs in wars promoted by Bush.

      His normal fee is 250K, so he gave a 150K discount,probably making it difficult for him to understand why any veterans would be unhappy with his fee..

      The same article mentions HRC receiving $225K for speaking at the University of Nevada.

      HRC did donate the fee to charity.

      The charity being, of course, The Clinton Foundation.

    4. Ernesto Lyon


      Have Dems lost their blessed minds?

      Does the embrace of W. by the Obamas mean W. is now on their side , or the Obamas are on his?

      Eurasia is now the enemy. Eurasia has always been the enemy.

      We’ve gone full rabbit hole.

  3. fresno dan

    American Carnage Christopher Caldwell,First Things (resilc)

    Fifty-two thousand Americans died of overdoses in 2015—about four times as many as died from gun homicides and half again as many as died in car accidents.
    And yet, after five decades of alarm over threats that were small by comparison, politicians and the media have offered only a muted response. A willingness at least to talk about opioid deaths (among other taboo subjects) surely helped Donald Trump win last November’s election. In his inaugural address, President Trump referred to the drug epidemic (among other problems) as “carnage.” Those who call the word an irresponsible exaggeration are wrong.
    You didn’t think I could stop from commenting about “Carnage?” As bad as Trump is, when I think about all the yammering from the 4th estate about how wrong it is to use that word, “carnage” I can see we are at the mercy of the irredeemably clueless or the illustriously self satisfied.

    1. Carolinian

      This is a great article and a subject that seems swept under the rug by our exceptional nation promoting media. Perhaps substance abuse can be taken as a kind of societal vital sign and thus this American plague compared to the Nazis and their amphetamines or the Yeltsin era Russians and their vodka. In any case thanks for the link!

      1. Ancient 1

        The LA Times ran an in depth investigation in opioids. the pharma complex and life in West Virginia, a few month ago (can’t remember the link.) Their effort was fruitless, no one paid attention.

        1. John k

          LA times probably least biased in country, and covers real issues such as options for CA single payer, though certainly resisting.

      2. Olga

        Yes, it is quite a thorough – and thoroughly depressing – article.
        And the best part?
        Sacklers – of the oxycontin fame – made out with a cool $14 billion…
        Who says capitalism does not work?!

    2. jrs

      Trump sees the problem because his brother died of alcoholism maybe. Of course his solution to drugs at this point is to crack down on states legalizing marijuana. He’d make a good prohibitionist.

    3. ewmayer

      How dare you, sir, prioritize the mass dying-off of clearly obsolescent Deplorables over the consensus top domestic issue facing the nation today, which is of course that of who gets to use which bathroom.

      An ambitious gay boy of Khartoum
      Took a lesbian up to his room.
      But they argued all night
      About who had the right
      To do what, and with which, and to whom.

  4. stefan

    The notable English art historian Dame Frances Yates wrote a number of truly great books related to the art of memory, Giordano Bruno, and memory theaters. Well worth reading.

  5. HotFlash

    Re Bernie Sanders has a plan..

    Yeah, well, he usually does. Smart guy, that Bernie. And as I read it, he is doing what so many people, including presidents, have requested, or threatened, or advised, but never, ever done. He is holding The Donald’s feet to the fire. Trump voters did not “vote against their own interests”. Many of them were Bernie supporters who, when push came to shove, decided to take a chance on Mr. Chaotic Neutral rather than Ms Lawful Evil.

    1. Vatch

      Here’s a nice article about Sanders:

      When Donald Trump delivered his first address to Congress 10 days ago, sticking dutifully, for once, to the teleprompter, the media praised him for sounding statesmanlike and presidential. But one person, sitting in a front row seat just a few feet away, thought differently.

      Bernie Sanders was growing more aghast with every sentence. Then, when Trump began to talk about the environment, the 75-year-old independent senator from Vermont nearly laughed out loud. Earlier that day, the president signed an executive order that gutted federal controls against the pollution of rivers and waterways. Now he was standing before US legislators pledging to “promote clean air and clear water”.

      “The hypocrisy was beyond belief!” says Sanders, still scarcely able to contain himself. “To talk about protecting clean air and water on the same day that you issue an order that will increase pollution of air and water!”
      . . . .
      “These are very scary times for the people of the United States, and … for the whole world. We have a president who is a pathological liar. Trump lies all of the time.” And Sanders believes the lying is not accidental: “He lies in order to undermine the foundations of American democracy.” Take his “wild attacks against the media, that virtually everything the mainstream media says is a lie.” Or Trump’s denigration of one of George W Bush’s judicial appointees as a “so-called judge”, and his false claims that up to 5 million people voted illegally in the election. Such statements, which Sanders calls “delusional”, are meant to lead to only one conclusion, he says: “that the only person in America who stands for the American people, who is telling the truth, the only person who gets it right, is the president of the United States, Donald Trump. That is unprecedented in American history.”
      . . . .
      In the Senate, too, he’s active in the confirmation process for Trump’s nominations. In particular, he vows to give the president’s pick for the vacant seat on the US supreme court, Neil Gorsuch, a rough ride over his stances on abortion and the Citizens United campaign finance ruling, which unleashed corporate money into elections.

      Gorsuch hasn’t ruled on abortion directly, but he has indicated that he believes that the “intentional taking of human life is always wrong”, and on campaign finance he has hinted that he would open up the political process to even more private cash.

      I ask Sanders why he isn’t minded to go further with Gorsuch. Why not take a leaf from the Republican book and just say no – after all, they refused even to consider Obama’s supreme court choice, Merrick Garland, effectively stealing the seat from the Democrats.

      “There are reasons to say no. You don’t say, ‘I’m going to vote no before I even know who the candidate is.’”

      But that’s what the Republicans did, I press.

      “I think it’s more effective to give a rational reason,” he replies with finality.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        “The hypocrisy is beyond belief.”

        I feel that’s the way all politicians talk…”I endorse Hillary for president”…maybe hypocritical, maybe not, but for sure, beyond belief.

        Talk the talk – I read when Trump speaks to a group, he tends to say what they want to hear.

        So, when after meeting with pharmaceutical executives, he was suddenly no longer talking the federal government negotiating with drug companies.

        And the same happened after meeting with health insurance executives – now, it’s ‘the issue is very complicated’ or something like that, when it comes to Obamacare.

        This brings us to how we can take advantage of this observation, instead of just making sure his presidency fails (and we all suffer for that). Maybe some caring person ought to go in there, together with an MMT economist, and talk to him about single payer.

        I think it’s possible that after the meeting, we get good news.

        You don’t know until you have given it a try.

        So what if you feel you can’t lower yourself to talk with him?

        1. jrs

          Well unless we tweet at Trump, it’s the rich and powerful that have access to him, so if he is really so suggestible it doesn’t take a genius to see who is going to benefit. Those with access and that’s not you and me. If Bernie or someone get to talks to him good for them. But honestly I think a lot of them TRIED Tulsi etc., many made the pilgrimage to Trump, and it’s not them who have his ear.

            1. NYPaul

              Right, Trump has displayed a certain amount of respect for Bernie, and doesn’t openly attack him venomously as he does other pols. Also, Trump rightfully understands there’s a certain kind of natural affinity between his supporters, and Bernie’s.

      2. voxhumana

        Trump has taken a page from Obama’s playbook, apparently…. I remember 44 speechifying about the dangers of nuclear proliferation, indeed, taking credit for reducing the number of nuclear weapons in the world, at the same time he was signing over a trillion dollars to upgrade and modernize the US nuclear arsenal… over the next 30 years…

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A plan to win back Trump voters sometimes equals a plan to help Americans.

      Sometimes, it doesn’t…sometimes, to help Americans might lead to a better tomorrow and Trump voters stay Trump voters.

    3. UserFriendly

      Additionally, I was incredibly frustrated that the dem controlled media reported that he ruled out ditching the dems when he very clearly and explicitly didn’t. And the staffer leading the #DraftBernie Campaign has been in contact with Bernie so there is still hope for that.

      1. neo-realist

        I like to think that the corporate media is not dem controlled per se, but rather plutocrat controlled w/ a willingness to throw support behind politicians on either side of the street as long as they supported economic and foreign policies favored by the plutocrats.

        1. UserFriendly

          I guarantee you if that interview was on fox instead of nbc the headline would have been ‘Sanders leaves door open to starting a new party”

          They all hate Trump and therefore a weak dem party fracturing is their worst nightmare.

  6. allan

    Trillion-dollar question looms as Aramco audits oil reserves [Reuters]

    When Saudi Aramco [IPO-ARMO.SE] reveals a Western audit of its oil reserves, investors will be looking for two answers: How much oil and how much detail?

    Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih has hinted at a surprise on the upside on reserve volumes ahead of Aramco’s 2018 share listing, but industry sources say detail on individual deposits – which investors have long sought – will be thin.

    Saudi Arabia’s reserves of easily recoverable oil have long been the world’s largest.

    But there also have long been questions about the volume and quality of those reserves. For nearly 30 years – despite rising production, wild swings in oil prices and improved technology – Riyadh has annually reported the same number for reserves of 261 billion barrels, according to BP’s statistical review. …

    This is not mathematically impossible. And when have the Saudis ever played fast and loose?

    1. Expat

      It is mathematically possible. The Saudi oil field have been in production for a very long and those reserves have been revised upward in the past as more fields were discovered. Additionally, technology such as horizontal drilling, has increased recoverable reserves. The Saudis have been drilling like mad for the past fifteen years both in the desert and a bit offshore.

      Okay, it seems pretty unlikely that after 66 years of product, the Ghawar field should perhaps have shrunk a bit, but the Saudis seem confident. I was there recently talking to Aramco about this; they believe the numbers are accurate and will be proven valid. As for the value of Aramco on that basis, take on 95% of the reserves to begin with since that goes to the State. Take off another 3% for instability. Suddenly Aramco is NOT the biggest company in the world.

    1. UserFriendly

      I am so sick of all the nuclear power scaremongering. More people die in the process of making solar panels or wind turbines from raw materials than have died from nuclear power. Nuclear has done far far less damage per kW but people just hyperventilate from what they don’t know. The Sun is one big nuclear reactor that is slowly giving us all cancer, quick lets send someone to turn it off before we die. How much would you like to bet big oil has a hand in promoting that kind of journalism?

      1. Dead Dog

        aliteralmind, thanks, was looking for link.

        UserF – I am so sick of all the nuclear power scaremongering.

        You do realize that there is reporting ban on Fukushima in Japan? I want more reporting because I think the scale of disaster is being covered up.


        More people die in the process of making solar panels or wind turbines from raw materials than have died from nuclear power.

        Link to that please

        1. fosforos

          And when you link, also cite deaths from cancer among uranium miners and among the cleanup crew at Chernobyl.

  7. fresno dan

    Putin’s Ears Must be Burning: a Report on the Banality of Propaganda Counterpunch

    In a dark propagandistic sense, creatively frustrated journalists in the West have collectively conjured an antagonist, an anti-hero, to become the latest lightning rod for the systematic violence of the capitalist West. But, this is what they have always done. Much of what is written about Путин (Putin)is completely fabricated, and the fundamental premise of the subject is always distrust.
    The Western media is weaponized against “Putin” to elicit a negative emotional response with the mere mention of his name. Any gesture of dissent, such as Trump’s question of American innocence, threatens the official narrative and the psychological management of the zeitgeist. Deviation from the script is met with overwhelming disdain.
    “Deviation from the script is met with overwhelming disdain” – and I would add, UNANIMOUS disdain. Part of the propaganda is that we have 2 parties, and a diverse and varied press, and that they disagree, e.g., on you getting screwed. Whether it is “Putin” or “Carnage” there are words and ideas that if strayed from mark one as a heretic.

    1. HotFlash

      The Western media is weaponized against “Putin” to elicit a negative emotional response with the mere mention of his name.

      Well, Tim Horton’s can scrap that idea.

      1. clinical wasteman

        Having lived in Montréal not long before, I was convulsed with laughter in 1999 when Putin was named as Yelstin’s latest prime minister/understudy and I saw a French newspaper spelling it as ‘Poutine’. I couldn’t decide whether it was a joke at Russian or Québécois expense, but it seems to have stuck. In retrospect the target, if any, was probably the Québécois, because French geopolitical belligerence was a serious matter even pre-NATO reconciliation, but smug upscale Parisians have never missed an opportunity to spout the absurd claim that Québécois is a different language, or at best an ‘inferior’ dialect, when it’s really a matter of an accent, a few local vocabulary quirks and Parisian envy of Montréal as by far the less moribund urban/linguistic culture. (I mean francophone and bilingual anglo-Montréal here: gilded-anglophoney Westmount can float off to sea and become a British Virgin Island for all I care.)
        I hold no brief, candle or other metaphorical object for the late William Safire (and in this column of 2005 [] he somehow misses the fact that the phonetically inaccurate ‘-ine’ has been the most common French transliteration of Russian ‘-in’ endings for many years, as in ‘le prince Mychkine’, ‘Lénine’ and so on), but he does raise the interesting idea that ‘Poutine’ was a deliberate attempt to avoid any spoken resemblance to ‘putain’. In which case the French political/media elites, who just like their US and UK counterparts remained fans of Yeltsin to the end and didn’t turn against Putin until after he finished off Yeltsin’s murderous Chechen war, may be kicking themselves now over that particular piece of linguistic diplomacy.
        NB. Personally I found Poutine inedible, but that was mainly because an upbringing in 1980s New Zealand instilled in me a lifelong horror of brown gravy. ‘Cheese curds’ aside though, as far as I remember Montréal had the best sit-for-hours-over-one-refilled-coffee/the-works-for-C$5 diners in the world.

    2. Deadl E Cheese

      The Western media is weaponized against “Putin” to elicit a negative emotional response with the mere mention of his name.

      I wonder if liberals have even fleetingly considered the possibility that the only reason why their strategy has even a chance of working is because of sublimated racism in their rank-and-file. I wonder if any liberals at ALL have considered the possibility that pursuing this strategy will make them even more bigoted and will empower reactionaries in the long-run.

      1. Eureka Springs

        Good questions. In conversation rather than bigotry I call it manufactured fear and or hate.

      2. OIFVet

        The current anti-Russian hysteria is about several things:
        1. The MIC profits, baby! More guns, less butter! Our freedom and democracy are closely tied to the profits of the industry and its lobbyists! The bigger its profits, the more Freedom™ and Democracy™ we get to enjoy, so much in fact that we then export the surplus of these great American Values® to others, whether they want them or not. It is our Manifest Destiny!
        2. The Clinton and the Obama wings trying to maintain their grip on the Democratic Party by claiming Russian interference, in order to obscure both their political incompetence and the utter indifference of the Party toward the working Americans it abandoned long ago yet still claims to represent, and
        3. Good old-fashioned Anglo-Saxon Russophobia and Slavophobia, especially that of the political elites.

        That last one goes unmentioned in polite society, though parts of it accidentally come out in the open now and then. One example is the dog whistle claim that Russians are Asians rather than Europeans (read inferior), or some unholy Euro-Asian mongrels carrying Genghiz Khan’s murderous genes. The 19th Century Great Britain wasn’t nearly so PC, thus all kinds of “scientific evidence” was produced to “prove” the racial inferiority of Russians and Slavs (particularly that of the Balkan Slavs in order to justify their continued oppression by that great friend and ally of Great Britain’s humanitarian mission to civilize the world’s savages, the Ottoman Empire).

        My favorite example of Russophobia and Slavophobia is contained in ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ (the book, not the terrible movie where Philip Seymour Hoffman sports a pornstache). I remember reading it in a 120 degree tent during my deployment, and coming to this part:
        “Something seemed to be energizing him. It was a dream – a recurring dream that began coming to him almost nightly. It always began the same way, in an Afghan village where four or five Hind gunships are sweeping in low… And then, as in a movie close-up, the pilot’s Slavic face comes menacingly into focus, leering as he opens fire with his guns, mowing down the villagers.”

        So I am reading this passage and thinking: “I am here in part because Congressman Charlie Wilson was a flaming Slavophobe, to whom we Slavs are bloodthirsty savages who take pleasure in indiscriminately killing brown and Muslim people in faraway lands.” That passage became particularly ironic in the wake of Chelsea Manning’s leak of the footage showing an Apache gunship mowing down defenseless Iraqi civilians, but the propaganda seeking to inflame Americans against a designated evil ‘other’ is oblivious to irony.

        That leering Slavic face is a recurring theme in the book, haunting Charlie Wilson’s nightmares until he finally manages to procure Stinger rockets for the mujahideen. After all, hate tastes twice as good when an US Congressman can also use it to secure profits for the MIC.
        Today, that designated evil other used by the establishment to distract the public is Russia, and the face of the leering Slav is that of Vladimir Putin. He is apparently an omnipotent force of evil, a stone cold killer, a thief, etc. These charges seem to particularly resonate with liberals, who didn’t bat an eyelash at Obama observing “Turns out I’m really good at killing people. Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.” Or Hillary Clinton laughing and clapping “We came, we saw, he died!” as she helped to plunge a country into unspeakable chaos, unleashing a refugee wave that washed over Europe while the US, protected by an ocean and ruled by humanitarian liberal interventionist and Nobel Peace Laureate Obama, accepted barely several thousand people. Yeah I know, when America and its leaders wage war and drone people it is good, because America is just so gosh darn exceptional that Obama believed in its exceptionalism with every fiber of his being! America is good because America is exceptional, and America is exceptional, because America is good. This circular reasoning is increasingly about all the justification our elites can muster to explain away American aggression abroad and increasingly at home, while they charge Vladimir Putin with being an extraordinarily prolific murderer. I guess it takes one to know one.

        But really, all that our elites are doing is trying to pull the wool over Americans’ eyes. It has been the pattern throughout human history: when domestic troubles hit and there is a danger to the decaying system, find a foreign enemy. And if we can’t find one, we will simply make one. The only thing that surprises me is how many otherwise educated, intelligent, and thinking liberals are falling for it. All because the incompetent Hillary and the Democratic Party conspired to keep that socialist guy in his place as a favor to their campaign contributors, while the incompetent and sclerotic Republican establishment managed to recruit Jeb! to reclaim the lost glory of Dubya, and both establishments lost to an orange pumpkin in the process. It would be funny, if only the game the bipartisan establishment are now playing wasn’t so dangerous to the rest of us.

        1. sid_finster

          “One example is the dog whistle claim that Russians are Asians rather than Europeans (read inferior), or some unholy Euro-Asian mongrels carrying Genghiz Khan’s murderous genes.”

          That trope has long been a favorite of Ukrainian nationalists, although sometimes they throw in “finno-ugric” for good measure.

          This is then contrasted with the Lily white racially conscious Aryan natives of western Ukraine, practically Germans, you see!

          1. OIFVet

            Much the same phenomenon occurred in Bulgaria just prior and during WW2. Having allied itself with Nazi Germany, Bulgaria saw fit to emphasize its Aryan credentials by pretending that it is not Slavic. True, the proto-Bulgarians came to the Balkans from the Eurasian steppes of Ukraine, but they did eventually get subsumed by the Seven Slavic Tribes who had moved to the Balkans in the 5th and 6th centuries. Today, the Eurasian origin of the proto-Bulgarians is not very convenient to the America For Bulgaria Foundation’s paid Russo- and Slavophobes, so the new theory is that modern Bulgarians are nothing less than the old Thracians (with the added bonus that the Thracians were feared by the ancient Greeks). Never mind that Bulgaria’s location at the crossroads means that we are a mixture of all the people (but still predominantly Slav) who settled or just passed through the Balkans, anything to differentiate ourselves from the Russkis and ingratiate ourselves with our new overlords.

              1. OIFVet

                Yes, the tzar’s fascists tried to have their cake and eat it, too, by refusing to declare war on the Soviets. A day before the Soviets invaded, Bulgaria declared war on Nazi Germany, seeking to prevent the invasion. It did not work out, but at least the fact that the Bulgarian Army went on and fought the Nazis with distinction all the way to Hungary and Austria, together with the fact that it saved her Jews from Hitler’s extermination camps, served to get Bulgaria rather good peace terms. It not only didn’t lose territory, but got back Southern Dobrudja from Romania. Rather strange WW2 for Bulgaria to be sure, but I am personally still ashamed that my motherland joined the Nazis, and occupied parts of Greece. The Berlin Conference of 1878 really didn’t do much to settle the Balkan question, if anything it ensured endless bloodshed in the Balkans…

            1. RabidGandhi

              Ironically to this, in my younger days I was summarily “disinvited” from Greek class after retorting to my teacher’s blatant pro-junta racism that what is now Greece had been fully overrun by the Slavs in the VIIth Century. (I still own the text, and I would post a photo if I knew how; it looks like a Hellenic version of a Hitler Youth recruiter pamphlet.)

              Anyway, your point that

              [our] location at the crossroads means that we are a mixture of all the people (but still predominantly Slav) who settled or just passed through the Balkans, anything to differentiate ourselves from the Russkis and ingratiate ourselves with our new overlords.

              can apply to everyone in the Balkans (and elsewhere), even the “proud descendants of Pericles” (/sarc).

              1. OIFVet

                LOL, my favorite thing to do when I dine out in Greektown is to order Turkish coffee after dinner. Just to tweak their Byzantine pride a bit ;) The thing about the Balkans is, we get along just fine as people for the most part. The anarchist part of me thinks that the Balkans would be much better off if government of all forms were abolished there. No more corruption and no more wars. Except with the village 3 kilometers down the road, Mihail’s fiancee ran off with a man from there, and if we let this stand then we are lost as a village :)

                1. cojo

                  I think the nationalism of the Balkans cuts both ways. After the disintegration of the Ottoman empire, and the Turkish threat was defeated, the different ethnic factions were polarized and aligned with various superpowers of the time (England, France, Germany, Russia). The subsequent Balkan wars were essentially proxy wars of the superpowers along with newly “recreated” nationalities that had been enveloped by the Ottomans, Byzantines, Romans, and Macedonians prior to that. Most of the major cities and trade centers were able to retain a certain ethnic distinction, while most of the agrarian lands were occupied by the Slavic tribes you speak of. As for Turkish coffee, most Greeks call it that and don’t really think much of it ;)

                  1. RabidGandhi

                    I would frame that quite differently. The Ottoman Empire was not composed of various nationalities, since nationalities as such did not exist at the time. Rather, people in the empire self identified with their religion (parallel to the Empire-wide millet system) and their local town or smaller region. There were therefore no ethnic factions that needed to be “recreated” as the empire fell, because they really never existed as such. What we have now are all– silly irredentist aspirations notwithstanding– really creations of the Western Powers to pick away at the decaying bones of the OE.

                    We saw this pattern again in the 2nd Yugoslavia: the country was comprised of citizens with intersecting personal affiliations, but practically all of whom self-identified as Yugoslavs. The German/Nato method to undo this unity was to balkanise the previously solid country into a number of increasingly smaller divisions. creating nationalities that would have been as unthinkable as a creating a nation of Adirondackians in the US.

                    This process is what OIFVet is referring to now in Albania and Macedonia: more divide and conquer to create whatever chaos suits TPTB at the moment.

        2. Carolinian

          Could go back to the yellow peril days and WW2 where caricatured Japanese faces were to be seen in aircraft cockpits rather than Slavs. Disney propaganda films of the era come to mind. Or there’s always Time magazine’s opening sentence after Pearl Harbor–and I think I’m quoting this correctly–“Why the dirty yellow bastards.”

          Perhaps the bottom line is that those who claim to be free of racial prejudice often simply have more politically correct prejudices. Those mostly working class whites mentioned in today’s Caldwell article were called Bitter Clingers by cool cat Obama while his big money contributor audience no doubt nodded approvingly.

          1. OIFVet


            There is indeed no better illustration of the depth and breadth of racism than the rotating cast of designated villains. I am increasingly dismayed and bitter about it all. The only good ‘other’ in America and abroad is the one who is willing to be subjugated by its exceptionalism without making too much of a fuss in the process. That the concept of ‘American Exceptionalism’ implicitly asserts the inferiority of everyone else is completely lost on the self-proclaimed “open-minded and tolerant” liberals, despite all of their learning and credentials from high-falluting temples of “knowledge and thinking” like Hahvahd.

            BTW, I had a nightmare last night. I was boarding a plane and a kindly TSA personnel escorted me from my seat to a special section aboard the airplane, where I was shackled to a special seat along with other people. I asked why, and was told that that’s because my online activity was flagged by some algorithm, because it indicated that I am not a right-thinking person, and thus I am considered a potential threat. I woke up feeling angry, humiliated, and crying due to impotent rage. What kind of effed-up country is America becoming?!

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            I wonder about Southern Democrats and their successors (the GOP too). I wonder if their anger goes back to the Czar’s decision to sail the White Fleet between London and New York in the 1860’s, ending the chance for British and French intervention on behalf of the slave empire.

            Poor whites in the South were known for draft dodging in the 1860’s. The Confederate Army wasn’t made up of “deplorables.”

            They have been forced to alter the racial hierarchy a bit, but the reported remarks of Hillary toward Brazille (still a moron) last August compared Brazille to a buffalo and told her to “janitor up” the mess.

        3. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website

          OIF vet,

          Thank you for posting that comment. It’s the best comment I’ve read in a long time.

          1. OIFVet

            Thank you! I truly wish I didn’t feel compelled to write it, I really do. I first posted it to my Faceborg page a couple of weeks ago in response to my liberal friends’ incessant posting of “Russia is evil” and “Putin stole our election” articles. My post offended some, made a few to contact me privately to tell me that it did make them think, but the overwhelming response was crickets. Please feel free to share the comment with your readership, if you wish.

            1. Dead Dog

              Yes thanks, mate.

              Try posting with picture of cat and you’ll get more shares

              Crickets too from my knowledgeable ‘friends’

          2. clinical wasteman

            yes+ any number you care to name, applied to those several comments. Thanks OIFVet.

        4. Ivy

          I never fully understood how a Charlie Wilson could cause so much trouble, carnage, death and all-around bad news. Were there no adults in the room who saw that coming, shades of QEII’s question about the 2008 Crash?

        5. fresno dan

          March 10, 2017 at 10:31 am

          “So I am reading this passage and thinking: “I am here in part because Congressman Charlie Wilson was a flaming Slavophobe, to whom we Slavs are bloodthirsty savages who take pleasure in indiscriminately killing brown and Muslim people in faraway lands.” That passage became particularly ironic in the wake of Chelsea Manning’s leak of the footage showing an Apache gunship mowing down defenseless Iraqi civilians, but the propaganda seeking to inflame Americans against a designated evil ‘other’ is oblivious to irony.”
          thanks for that….irony indeed

        6. Oregoncharles

          The racial stuff is silly, of course, as photographs reveal instantly (and Finnish may be finno-ugric, but the Slavic languages are Indo-European.) Culturally and historically, though, Russia is the borderland between Europe and Asia. Russia was founded by the Vikings, especially Kievan Russia, now Ukraine, and the boyars claimed Viking ancestry right into modern times. But Muscovite Russia, the modern version, began as a Mongol vassal.

          To modern eyes, Russian history is baroque, and a lot of it does recall “oriental despotism.” It was feudal into the 19th Century, when the serfs were finally (and I think fictionally) freed. On the other hand, Russians have always aspired to be western. Before the Revolution, educated Russians all spoke French, and many were educated in western Europe. Most of their trade was with Europe – except from Vladivostok, Asian markets were a long way away. (Were they transporting Alaskan furs all the way across Eurasia to sell? Maybe – don’t know about that detail, but it may have been the reason for selling Alaska.)

          All that history looms over the present, for both Russians and westerners. To a great extent it creates an illusion, as you describe, that Russia is more alien than it really is. Because of their long record of expansion, they actually have a lot in common with the US. But it’s true that Russia has very little experience with democracy – very briefly after the Revolution, an experiment quickly ended by the Bolsheviks, and then since Yeltsin, which was hardly an auspicious start.

          All that history lesson may be gratuitous; the most important factor is probably that Russia is a rival great power. Still, cultural history does matter.

  8. Bunk McNulty

    Speaking of Republicans “turning their attention elsewhere”:

    GOP lawmakers are about to pass two laws that would make it nearly impossible to sue corporations (Raw Story)

    “The first of the two laws, would make it more difficult for Americans to file class action lawsuits against a corporation….[and]….H.R. 720, the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act, would require federal judges penalize or otherwise discipline any attorney that brings what they consider to be a “frivolous lawsuit.” Currently, this decision is left up to the judge’s discretion.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      More like Europe…it is not quite that, but in many countries, it’s the English rule (loser pays the other party’s legal fees…here, a penalty for bringing a ‘frivolous lawsuit.’).

  9. tgs

    While the chattering classes hyperventilate that our democracy has been ‘hacked’, the Obama admin (in cahoots with Soros) was apparently spending American tax dollars in the millions hacking democracy in Macedonia.

    on February 28, the American conservative group Judicial Watch cited official documents that apparently revealed “the U.S. government has quietly spent millions of taxpayer dollars to destabilize the democratically elected, center-right government in Macedonia by colluding with left-wing billionaire philanthropist George Soros.” Judicial Watch further claimed that “Barack Obama’s U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia, Jess L. Baily, has worked behind the scenes with Soros’s Open Society Foundation to funnel large sums of American dollars for the cause, constituting an interference of the U.S. Ambassador in domestic political affairs in violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

    Macedonia’s Crisis Isn’t Going Away

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Thanks to watching many brainwashing, sorry, make that it, Hollywood spy movies, most of us are not shocked anymore to read that.

    2. OIFVet

      Goodbye Macedonia, hello Greater Albania. The US seems hellbent on starting Balkan War 3, whether by design, hubris, or sheer ignorance about Balkan history. Only this time, it will be several NATO and non-NATO states fighting against another NATO member. So, goodbye NATO, too?

      1. RabidGandhi

        Admittedly, I’m no expert on Macedonian politics, but I have a hard time seeing how the US decides which rooster to bet on in this cockfight. So on one hand they have the anti-communist VMRO-DPMNE in power, which I believe is pro-Nato, thus making them a natural ally on two counts. On the other hand there is SDSM/Zaev who are the “progressives” and who are more amiable to Albanian sovereignty and further balkanisation (pun intended), which has been Nato’s MO in the Balkans for the last 30+ years. So since both parties seem to have plenty for Tío Sam to like, how does he choose?

        I wonder if the default here isn’t just to defer to the current Putinophobia. The article mentions Russia potentially taking action to defend Russian nationals in Makedonia. Are there really that many Russians to be significant? Or could the West be looking to parry a possible replay of Russian intervention in the Balkans in the late nineteenth century as “Defender of the Slavs”? (RG: with defenders like that, who needs attackers…)

        Either way, perhaps regime change is like Krispy Kremes… once you start you just can’t stop.

        1. OIFVet

          All VMROs are nationalistic, but DPMNE is the most hardcore nationalist of them all. So that’s not exactly conducive to the globalisation and multicultural ideals used to gradually destroy sovereignty and nation states.

          Also, the article talked about Russian minorities in the Baltics, not in Macedonia. It is a legitimate point.

          I had linked to a Bloomberg article describing a (Gallup?) survey which shows that several NATO nations view Russia as a more reliable protector than NATO. Amongst them were Bulgaria and Greece, both of which have certain interests in regards to Macedonia. Where it gets interesting is that Turks, too, views Russia as a more reliable protector than NATO. Now, in a greater Balkan War due to the disintegration of Macedonia, Turkey would take the side of Albania, and Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia would ostensibly go to bat for their own interests in Macedonia. All of these have well-founded distrust and fear of Turkey, so needless to say things would get very bloody and very messy, with Russia as the best-positioned and, for historical reasons, most trusted power by the Balkan nations. So in the end, Russia will dictate terms. In a way, this all reminds me of Iraq: by destroying Saddam, America managed to strengthen Iran. Then again, no one ever alleged that the American elites are smart and capable of learning from their mistakes. The biggest problem from my POV is that it will be us Balkan people who would pay the price for American idiocy and hubris.

          1. RabidGandhi

            Thanks OIFVet!

            With that alliance arrangement it sounds like a repeat (or at least a rhyme) of 1911-12, but this time with the possibility of (lit.) nuclear escalation in the event of a repeat of 1914. Furthermore it’s even scarier to think that much of the US public has already been primed to be on board, seeing as it was Putin who threw all those Ukrainian babies out of their incubators before blowing up the Maine.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              My reaction is: pain.

              It’s painful to have a passing knowledge of history, to know what The Maine was, to remember the “baby incubator” phrase, and to watch what passes for rational political discourse these days.

              Billionaires riding absolutely roughshod over the 90% and the 90% lapping it up and begging for more. People agitating for nuclear WWIII without batting an eye. The government penetrating the last vestiges of our privacy and decency and the public just hitting the snooze button.

              Digital data means we can now record everything, but we seem to remember nothing. 2 million Vietnamese dead for no reason. 6 trillion dollars wasted in Iraq. 10 million people tossed from their homes. Forget it. Forget the people who did it.

              The real pain comes when I think that the last people who remember The Dream, of peace, of justice, of decency and privacy, may just die off. Will a new generation rise to carry the baton? Or does the world just forget, and completely turn to sh*t. And just keep getting sh*ttier. I used to believe that innate goodness and fairness will rise up, will cut through, and people will say they’ve had enough. Now I’m not so sure.

          2. Olga

            You guys are trying to think about this waaayyy too logically.
            I think the main purpose is just creating chaos – if one cannot control the situation or over-power the “enemy” – a general state of chaos will suffice…

  10. BeliTsari

    The Resistance™ seems to be yet another shock doctrine set-up? Shaking-down affluent liberals, who will blame the “alt-left,” all the usual minorities and mysterious outside forces; as 60 million deplorables project Trump’s silly-ass, carny barker kleptocracy on anysomebody but their own servile, craven, racist delusions & inebriate grandiosity? Hilarious, to watch the YOOJ Librul media jump bad on Brock, now that we’re truly fucked?

    1. Outis Philalithopoulos

      Once we subtract 60 million “deplorables,” who in your account seem to be unironically irredeemable, as well as the “affluent liberals” and who knows how many others who fall short in one way or another, how many people remain as part of the elect?

      1. BeliTsari

        232,476.381… unironically? I doubt any of my coworkers thirst much for redemption, at least not from folks tearing past this (quite literally) Dickensian hell-hole in Audi Q7s & BMW X5s. When we had that mid February warm snap I had three, out 270 workers here come to me in private asking if I believed in anthropogenic climate change, since we’re working on one of the largest of 19 YOOJ fracked gas & liquids pipelines. They have little faith in any improvement in their ever worsening situation, but many were in Afghanistan, Iraq or East Africa, so they’re trying to hang onto this, until half of them are left go, probably in late summer. Yep, we’re pretty deplorable alright. Since I had no opportunity to respond, until I was already half asleep in the mill, I’ll simply refer you back to Joe Bageant’s essays… these blogs used to just LOVE quoting him? this is where Barack Obama learned not to tell the truth… “You go into these towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them… They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” Moderate away, I’m just too pooped…

        1. Outis Philalithopoulos

          I’m actually quite confused by your response. Are you saying tons of Americans are warped individuals and you, BeliTsari, are one of them? Are you saying tons of Americans are warped individuals and you, BeliTsari, are not one of them? Are you saying that Obama’s statement was accurate but he was punished for it, and otherwise he would have been a sincere and straight-talking politician?

          In your original comment, you said that 60 million people have “servile, craven, racist delusions” [of?] “inebriate grandiosity.” I can’t tell from your response in what sense you meant any of this.

        2. Outis Philalithopoulos

          Thanks for your additional reply, BeliTsari (the one you said not to publish). It helped in seeing where you are coming from.

  11. DJG

    This comment by Yves makes me wonder if much of the current crisis is parochial, confined to the declining Anglo-American world:

    “Again, the EU has been crystal clear: we aren’t negotiating with you on your new trade arrangement until this tab is settled (or more accurately, a way to settle it has been sorted out/finessed). As we described in our post yesterday, the UK has a ton more to lose than the EU if it triggers Article 50 and then gets to the end of the 24 month “you are out, deal or no deal” period with no deal. The British obtuseness about their upside and downside makes Trump look like a paragon of circumspection by comparison.”

    I think that the London-Washington-NewYork-CityofLondon Axis of Terminal Mediocrity may be melting down. Truly, only the English-speaking world believes the crap that Trump, the Clintons, Tony Blair, and the Tories dish out.

    So how much of what we are witnessing in Brexit and Trumpxit is truly on an international scale? How much is the much-to-be-hoped-for die-off of pampere local elites that are so absurd even Monty Python Flying Circus couldn’t have portrayed them?

    1. OIFVet

      Dunno, the non-Anglo part of the EU core is just as noxious as the Anglo-Americans. I haven’t seen it discussed here on NC, but the concept of multi-speed EU is under serious consideration amongst the French-German PTB that form the core of the EU. Basically, adopting the concept of multi-speed Europe would mean that the core will codify the periphery’s status as a colonial appendage, and will keep extracting profits from the periphery without returning some of them as EU subsidies and developmental funds. The Visegrad 4 and the rest of Eastern and Southern Europe is not amused, and are denouncing the proposal rather harshly in advance of the March 25 meeting where it will be discussed by EU heads of state. One more reason to hate the EU. The French-German elites are just as idiotic as the Anglo-American elites. If the proposal is implemented, then the rise of the right wing will accelerate both in the East and in the West, and the disintegration of the EU will become inevitable. Which wouldn’t normally be something that would break my heart, except that the chances of accumulated grievances boiling over into destructive wars would be greatly increased by a break-up under these circumstances, IMO.

      In conclusion, this is all Putin’s fault, and his genius for evil knows no bounds.

      1. DJG

        OIFVet: Yep, I read a few articles in an edition of La Stampa about the two-tier Europe when I was in Italy last week. The invitees, though, for 25 March are an odd bunch: France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Two “modern” states and two PIIGS. Who’da thunk it? Of course, the meeting will be in Roma, so they had to invite the darn Italians and not just force them to cater the dinner parties.

        Nevertheless, given the tendency of the Anglo and American elites to go out into the world and inflict damage, especially these last sixty years or so, I am more mistrustful of the Anglo-American echo chamber than I am of Madame Merkel. Although what Merkel and Lagarde did to Greece recently is a testament to how criminality knows no gender.

        And yet, I tend not to blame Putin, unlike you. You have been in Hyde Park too long. I got out. I blame all of this on the U of Chicago [™] Department of Economics and that “Chicago Booth” thingamabobo. And on Rahm, of course, our own little artery-clogging poutine, whose mediocrity knows no bounds.

        1. OIFVet

          Hehe, that Putin thing was tongue in cheek :) My eyebrows shot up too, when I read about Spanish and Italian involvement in the multi speed Europe policy. My best guess is that France and Germany need some Mediterranean cover as a feeble attempt to claim legitimacy. Eastern Europe is far from the mood to tolerate being bossed around though, so it remains to be seen what will come out of the meeting.

          I hope that you will be in town and will come to the NC meet-up on the 24th. Opti too, I look forward to meeting everybody in person.

          1. DJG

            OIFVet: Friday, 24 March? Birthday dinner for some of us March Hares. So I may not be available in the evening. Do you have a place and time selected?

            This isn’t your grand farewell before your move, is it?

            1. OIFVet

              Yves will put out the info sometime soon. If I remember her post correctly she is thinking 6pm on the 24th in the downtown area. Hopefully you can make it, but if not, my move is on hold for three years so I am sure we will have the chance again :)

        2. Olga

          Well, this should be interesting. Of the Vysehrad 4, Slovakia has euro. Poland is worried because it now gets the most money from EU. And what happened to the Benelux countries? Which EU they would be sent to…?
          Putin probably planned this evil scheme…

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        I did see an article about Merkel discussing a “two speed” Europe some weeks back, same idea, but wan’t sure what the various proposals were. Thanks for this.

  12. DJG

    Use of the term Deep State.

    I thought that we had an informal ban on use of the term. (I’m noticing it in the titles of today’s links, and I understand that even Yves and Lambert do not control terminology at other publications, James Wolcott and his assertions notwithstanding.)

    I don’t believe that there is a deep state. The most well-developed version of the concept comes out of Turkey, with its Ottoman politics and paranoid style of political discourse: See Erdogan at his ranty best.

    In the Anglo world, what we are seeing is a revolt by our bureaucracies. One of the characteristics of the decadent economies of the U.S. and U.K. is the middle-person-i-zation of everything, the astounding bureacracy of our daily lives. Think of what it takes to close on a house in the U.S. of A. You end up with an entourage bigger than the one Louis XIV had.

    So what we are seeing is the revolt of people with tenuous jobs who want to hold on to those jobs. I have no use for Trump and his gang or the Clintons and their train of toadies, but they represent bureacracy at its most elaborate, least efficient, and most suffocating. Throw in the patriotic gore of National Security and the enemy of the day, and you end up with a leaking Intelligence Community (and let’s talk oxymorons here).

    No deep state. Our crisis comes from our stagnation (you know, all these years of “incremental change”).

    1. Anonymous2

      I am a fan of Steve Keen but on immigration to the UK his representation of events is out. The great bulk of EU migration to the UK in recent years has been from Eastern Europe especially Poland. Ironically, the UK was possibly the strongest advocate of extending the EU eastwards. No doubt the sluggish performance of the Euro zone economy will not have helped but that is a secondary consideration.

      On Italy’s performance I have long wondered whether a major reason for its woes in recent times might have been competition from China in the clothes and footwear markets, which used to be Italy’s area of strength. Does any commenter have insights here?

      1. Tom Reed

        We buy lots of “designed in California, manufactured in China” products hearabouts.

        I recall a BBC? video where Italian looms and other cloth manufacturing equipment was shipped to China. Of course it happens, that’s a given. What’s sad is that people continue to buy the Chinese junk without demanding a steep discount to reflect the true cost of production.

        An attitude that needs to spread is, “OK, I get it, it’s made in China. Labor is really cheap there. I’ll offer you 1/4 the price on the sticker…”

        1. oho

          >> recall a BBC? video where Italian looms and other cloth manufacturing equipment was shipped to China.

          Supposedly it goes the other way as well, especially w/clothing,—-“globally sourced” constituents get shipped to Italy.

          Just enough Italian labor (ie, sweatshop migrant labor) is added to make it “Made in Italy” and get the appropriate markups.

          At the cost of harming business for honest, 100% domestic “Made in Italy” manufacturers using employees paid living wages.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Just a note about the “steep discount discount to reflect the true cost of production”. A recent survey showed that the manufacturing labor cost advantage of China over the US was down to 4%. China has had stunning progress in wage rates, no big surprise as they are currently manufacturing in excess of $1 trillion in new free money to fling around per month.

    2. Alex Morfesis

      Every political entity ends up with a bureaucracy and when there is a large military contingent within the political enterprise, a deep state develops…

      there has always been a deep state…the nomenclature might be exchanged(the royal court, the nobility, the fermiers generaux, the centurians, the trojan heredity of the roman senators)…yet there has always been a madame de pompadour if you pay attention to the details…

      it is the natural inclination of the internally weak to attach themselves to levers of power and then hold on for dear life, taking the entire political enterprise down a rabbit hole or to its weakening and eventual demise…

      The usa always had a rather small military designed to bully rather than fight in an expansionist manner…even our invasions of russia and china 100 years ago were of somewhat smallish forces…our forward thrust into europe to end ww1 was a changing of the guard globally…but our troops did not remain and Wilson’s infirmities led to many events which helped move forward the american economic invasion of european financial houses former domains…but only reluctantly led to any overall value for the average american…

      Warfare is usually economic…by the time the military gets directly involved, the money interests have decided the maroons need to die to keep the monets hanging on the walls…

      Within the “military” much lost economic strength is squandered and/or diverted since it is a “military secret” & therefore can not be reviewed nor questioned…it is a scam that has been rolling along for 2 million sunsets…from country to country…empire to empire…

      The current american mess, IMNSHO, began with the well planned loss by the nazis…bretton woods was drawn out to see if the war might be over with the purported “assassination” attempt of mein dummkopf…but the photo shoot of the purported july 20th event left enough detail to even a basically trained eye to allow the conclusion it was part of an elaborate scheme…

      Today we are fed nonsense about noble eastern European “freedom fighters” who just “happened” to hug nazi germany out of convenience…

      And the abwehr was fighting against mein dummkopf even before he was born since they all read nostradamus…

      From Huntsville to Ft. Dix to the school of the americas, our military operations and intelligence services have been infested by this disease…

      When we have an honest discussion about how these elements have infused themselves into our everyday lives, we will stop crawling around in the dark wondering why we keep stubbing our toes on immovable objects…

      We should have stuck with the morgenthau plan for germany…

      Let’s you and him fight…

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Lambert and I don’t like the term “Deep State” because 1. Some of the key works on it have been intellectually incoherent; 2. It implies that the they are unified when they aren’t (competing power factions); 3. Suggests they are super powerful when they aren’t necessarily. But it’s become widely used, so it’s hard to keep fighting that battle. For instance, Greenwald has also objected to the use of the term yet it’s been in his headlines.

  13. fresno dan

    Democrat super-lobbyist Tony Podesta was paid $170,000 over a six-month period last year to represent Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, seeking to end one of the Obama administration’s economic sanctions against that country, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group has learned.

    Podesta, founder and chairman of the Podesta Group, is listed as a key lobbyist on behalf of Sberbank, according to Senate lobbying disclosure forms. His firm received more than $24 million in fees in 2016, much of it coming from foreign governments, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
    The discovery of high-profile Democrats like Podesta being paid lucrative fees for lobbying to lift U.S. sanctions on Russia contrasts with charges from Democrats that President Donald Trump and his key aides are soft on Russia while the Obama administration was tough on Moscow.

    Was this linked before? Hope I’m not repeating something.
    “….paid lucrative fees for lobbying to lift U.S. sanctions on Russia” – -Trump is always yammering how he will do things cheaper. I’m not gonna say this whole Trump/Russia kerfuffle is about undermining lobbying fees…..nope, not gonna say that….because that would be cynical….and everyone in the US government is only concerned about this country that never stopped being great….PUTIN!!! ….so, so, so dangerous only an blue lobbyist knows how to deal with him…

  14. fresno dan

    (approval of CIA) Among voters who supported Trump and campaign foe Hillary Clinton, the difference was even more stark, with Clinton voters registering a net +39 percent favorability for the agency, while Trump voters gave it a net rating of just +2 percent.

    That’s a particularly significant reversal for a party that has typically led the charge against intelligence agency overreach. In 1975, for example, a special Senate panel led by Democrat Frank Church investigated the CIA and other intelligence agencies, probing the legality of assassination attempts of foreign leaders, domestic surveillance practices and the monitoring of political activities by American citizens.

    One wonders how far this goes…..Trump says he hates Putin, dems nominate Putin as 2020 presidential candidate….

  15. allan

    House Republicans would let employers demand workers’ genetic test results [STAT News]

    A little-noticed bill moving through Congress would allow companies to require employees to undergo genetic testing or risk paying a penalty of thousands of dollars, and would let employers see that genetic and other health information.

    Giving employers such power is now prohibited by legislation including the 2008 genetic privacy and nondiscrimination law known as GINA. The new bill gets around that landmark law by stating explicitly that GINA and other protections do not apply when genetic tests are part of a “workplace wellness” program.

    The bill, HR 1313, was approved by a House committee on Wednesday, with all 22 Republicans supporting it and all 17 Democrats opposed. It has been overshadowed by the debate over the House GOP proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but the genetic testing bill is expected to be folded into a second ACA-related measure containing a grab-bag of provisions that do not affect federal spending, as the main bill does. …

    From the party of Freedom™ and Family Values™.
    Like living in a Neal Stephenson novel, but a lot less fun.
    Another solid for the back row kids.

    Edit: it’s not as if the story reflects well on the previous administration either.

    1. Vatch

      Is there no end to the ways that giant corporations, the billionaires, and their servants in legislatures will try to peal away our rights? The good news is that this bill is being processed by four (!) committees, because of overlapping jurisdiction. So there’s still time to ask our Representatives to oppose it.

      03/02/2017 Referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce, and in addition to the Committees on Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

      Contact information for member of the U.S. House of Representatives:

    2. reslez

      One wonders what possible need employers have for genetic data when they cycle through employees so quickly. Genetic-related illnesses can take decades to develop — or not — by which time the employee has long ago been pushed out the window.

      Are they planning to only hire on the genetically pristine ala Gattaca? Isn’t that still against the law? So what is the point of collecting the information?

      Every time a worker switches employers, their genetic data will end up in a new pair of hands. Talk about data proliferation. If you’ve ever worked at Wal-mart — which includes millions of people — they get to know your genes and half your kids’, forever. With all the mergers and consolidation going on, I think that in a few years there will only be about 3 corporations left anyway. Imagine targeting a company for acquisition because you get access to their employees’ genes.

  16. Tom Reed

    The N.Y.Magazine article has an interesting paragraph:

    “Since 2015, low unemployment has had the predictable effect of forcing employers to offer better wages to attract and keep their labor force. While incomplete, the data so far suggests wages up and down the income ladder have grown smartly for two years. In 2015, wages actually grew more rapidly at the bottom of the income ladder than at the top:”

    Didn’t that correspond with the period of “the deporter in chief’s” heaviest deportations?

  17. Vatch

    Trump Mulls Cutting $6 Billion From HUD to Fund Defense New York Magazine

    Uh oh! Housing and Urban Development Secretary Doctor Ben Carson had better do something quick about this. Large Egyptian style pyramids are expensive.

  18. tgs

    Debunking the Trump-Putin conspiracy stories

    Good list of articles debunking the myths behind the continually rising hysteria. However, neglects to mention a really great piece on the subject by Yasha Levine at the Baffler.

    From Russia, with Panic

    Levine’s piece is also interesting as it traces the origin of the current dust up back the the Georgian/Ossetia war in 2005.

  19. justanotherprogressive

    There have been many exciting advances in the study of Neanderthals lately – some of them may upend how we see ourselves.
    The big question to be answered is still why the Neanderthals disappeared. Was it because modern humans out-competed the Neanderthals or was it because they absorbed the Neanderthals? Or to put it another way, was it due to competition or cooperation?
    There is such a shortage of bones that at present that the definitive answer still escapes us so I am eagerly awaiting the next great find……

    1. Katharine

      It needn’t have been one or the other but a mixture. There seems to be some evidence of interbreeding, which suggests some cooperation, and perhaps rather more evidence of competition. The urge to simple answers may be powerful (think of the parental standby, because I said so!) but life generally turns out to be more complex.

    2. reslez

      Also fascinating to think of the Denisovans, a species we know mainly from a single finger bone. Yet there’s ample genetic evidence that intermixing happened thousands of years ago with traits that show up today. Imagine how exciting it would be to find a complete specimen.

  20. Alex Morfesis

    Have been suddenly infused with the notion erdogan is the source for wikileaks and not putin…judicial watch had put out some anti clinton anti huma emails on gulen supporter ozkok just a few days before the coup attempt…and cnn turkey ran the story the morning of the coup as the narrative made its way around the globe…

    Not that russia could not have done the hacks but they are either much more incompetent than we can imagine or they didnt do it…they could easily have done the work in chinese and used the tens of thousands of open wifi networks around the globe to probe and attack…that some bond wannabee wrote a report claiming the rooskeez backed up trump and confirmed by the klownstrike company insisting the rooskeez/putin were the hackerz…klownstrike co-founded by a rooskee…incredible…

    America…what a concept…

  21. allan

    Federal share of basic research hits new low [Science; subscription req.]

    For the first time in the post–World War II era, the federal government no longer funds a majority of the basic research carried out in the United States. Data from ongoing surveys by the National Science Foundation show that federal agencies provided only 44% of the $86 billion spent on basic research in 2015. The federal share has been falling steadily since the 1970s, when it topped 70%, and it dipped below 50% in 2013. The sharp drop in recent years is the result of two contrasting trends—a flattening of federal spending on basic research over the past decade and a significant rise in corporate funding of fundamental science. Spending on basic research by all U.S. businesses has nearly doubled, from $13.9 billion to $24.5 billion, from 2008 to 2014. [Who knew?] . That second trend flies in the face of conventional wisdom, which paints U.S. companies as so focused on short-term profits that they have all but abandoned the pursuit of fundamental knowledge, an endeavor that may take decades to pay off. …

    The stimulus in 2009 had hefty short term increases for research, including at NIH, DOE and NSF.
    But rather than taking advantage of the dire economic situation to hard-wire in more modest but longer term increases (along with infrastructure), the administration decided to keep the Serious People happy.
    Because Green Shoots and Summer of Recovery.

    It turns out that `never let a crisis go to waste’ only applies when you have neoliberal goals.

    1. dyno

      The situation is even worse than the numbers in the Science article imply. A lot of businesses misclassify activities as basic science or research for the associated tax benefits, and so it is hard to get reliable numbers. My anecdotal experience is that business spending on actual basic science or research is either stagnant or dropping.

  22. fosforos

    The Caldwell article is at the standard of the Weekly Standard. Conservative in the worst sense, prohibitionist and repressive, and incredibly obtuse. “The best way for a society to avoid the dangers of addictive and dangerous drugs is to severely restrict access to them.” This Drug Warrior writes as if there were not a universally known, long used, safer-than-beer alternative to opioids in nearly all of their current usages–while appropriate medicinization of any opioids, emphatically including heroin, takes care of that “nearly.”
    The best way, the only way, to avoid the “dangers of addictive and dangerous[sic] drugs” is to provide safe (and superior) alternatives to nearly all their current usages while guaranteeing their safe utilizations where their medical usage is appropriate.

  23. flora

    Huge wildfires in Kansas have destroyed thousands of acres, herds of cattle, homes and property.

    Fire fighters from across the state are helping battle the blazes. In local disasters we have to count on each other. The blabber-fest in D.C. is useless.


    On Wikileaks/CIA and Assange offering the tech data to tech companies so they can close the holes: It’s a very nice idea. However, anyone in the US shown to be in possession of stolen classified data is going to be in a world of serious legal difficulty. Doesn’t matter if the data was “over classified”. Or if the intent is to reduce cyber vunerabilites. The tech companies are between a rock and a hard place. They’d probably love to close the holes but are wary of accepting information that could put them on the wrong side of the law. A classic “you can’t get there from here” dilemma.

    I wonder if tech companies should share what they discover about security breaches with each other before they notify the feds; before the feds have a chance to classify the data and remove it from view of the tech companies who need it to close the holes and secure the computer/network environments.

    1. dontknowitall

      Turns out the toolset was not classified to enable its use in internet hacking. If CIA had classified the tools just CIA officers using them on the internet would have violated rules on exposing classified information in open networks. SO it’s all good.

  24. Vatch

    Here’s a long article about Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos:

    Betsy DeVos’ Holy War: Her appointment as education secretary marks the crowning achievement of the Christian right’s campaign to infiltrate America’s secular institutions

    A sample paragraph:

    At the national level, Dick and Betsy DeVos founded a group called All Children Matter, which funded PACs to repeat the process in multiple states. In 2003, its first year, ACM spent $7.6 million “directly impacting statewide and state legislative elections in 10 targeted states,” according to its media materials, winning 121 out of 181 races, “phenomenally successful for a political organization.” Thirty states and the District of Columbia currently have some form of school-choice legislation on the books. Some of the most expansive are in Louisiana, Arizona and Indiana, where Gov. Mitch Daniels, backed by ACM, launched a private-school vouchers program in 2011. Two years later, then-Gov. Mike Pence greatly expanded the program, creating what Mother Jones described as “a $135 million annual bonanza almost exclusively benefiting private religious schools.”

    A portion of another paragraph:

    . . . In 2016, evangelicals and born-again Christians constituted 43 percent of Trump’s total vote. Conservative Christians have been tapped to occupy the top Cabinet posts in the departments of Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Justice; they are also set to serve as the president’s director of National Intelligence and head of the CIA. The vision is simple, as the political strategist puts it: “What they want is for churches and nonprofits and business to run the country.”

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