Links 4/4/17

Civil Rights Lawyer William Coleman Dead at 96 C-SPAN (Kevin C)

This Photographer Photographs Farm Animal Like No One Else Bored Panda

The decade-long, $6M effort to put a 74-year-old WWII boat back to water ars technica (Chuck L)

A new nerd resource, courtesy guurst: Lexicty: The first and only comprehensive index for ancient language resources on the internet.

Ridding the oceans of plastics by turning the waste into valuable fuel PhysOrg (Chuck L)

International scientific teams find potential approach against parasites PhysOrg (Chuck L)

‘Sniffing’ urine to detect prostate cancer could prevent unnecessary biopsies MedicalXpress (Chuck L)

Behold the New Vantablack 2.0, the Art Material So Black It Eats Lasers and Flattens Reality ArtNet (Robert H). This is totally cool. But I am waiting for this to be outlawed. Makeup in Vantablack, strategically applied, would defeat face recognition software. Of course there are more elaborate options out now I don’t see used much/at all.


China’s ‘bad banks’ thrive as alternative lenders Financial Times

What’s Really Driving the Trade Deficit With China Bloomberg (Chuck L)

Rising Yuan Undercuts Trump’s Currency Manipulation Claims Wall Street Journal

Soon you’ll be able to make payments using WhatsApp in India Mashable. Help me. Jerri-Lynn has discussed long-form how the hype is ahead of reality, given low cell phone penetration, as well as to poor connectivity even in major cities like Calcutta, plus erratic electricity outside big cities.

Bloomberg’s Hit Job on Venezuela – and Me Counterpunch. Eek. But Hudson unfortunately got the journalistic rules wrong. A conversation is on the record unless you say no. You don’t get to see the context in which a quote is used in the piece before it runs. The most you might be able to negotiate is to get them to agree to approve any quotes they use for you for accuracy or to say the discussion is on background but you’ll consider letting them put certain quotes on the record if they run them by you in writing for approval. It is sadly common for reporters to cherry pick what a source tells them to advance a story line. For instance, Neil Barofsky was particularly unhappy with how the New York Times reported an interview with him.


On The EU & Brexit Cassandra. Vlade found this post from Cassandra, who was an insightful regular during the crisis but has gone quiet since then. Even though it’s from February, it has some great observations. My fave, in response to a reader saying “Worse, it has become clear that the power driving the new EU Nation would be centred on Berlin and Frankfurt with its Admin Centres in Brussels and Strasbourg so as to save face for the French.”:

I appreciate there some British suspicion and jealousy exists. But to me as a detached American observer, living in Britain with a European Passport, it appears that the neutral Belgians got the Senior Admin, the French got the Parliament (some spillover bens to Germany), the Dutch got the judiciary, the Danes got the Environment, the Germans took the ECB, & the Brits got The City as the central Financial & Insurance capital, AS WELL AS the Euro equiv of the FDA.

Chicken Shop murder: Man cleared of bike lock killing BBC. More detail on the killing here. Vlade:

This is already causing political waves in CZ, where most of the comments on the news sites are along the lines “so we see, a different justice for EU immigrants and for the UK bullies” + a strong wish to get the UK “punished”. This comes from population which up till now was rather positively skewed towards the UK. So unless a VERY good explanation would be coming from the UK shortly (which I doubt), UK just made an enemy from a former friend. Given that the Visegrad 4 (CZ, Slovakia, Poland + Hungary) now with UK out of the EU have blocking minority, and that Poles and Slovaks are already upset with the UK, this doesn’t bode well for any Brexit deal.

The truth about Brexit Absolute Return Partners (Scott). Got this just before I turned in so I haven’t had time to read it with care. On the whole, puts together a lot of very useful data, although I quibble with one inference: the chart on UK nationals “upskilling” during the period when more immigrants were entering. There’s no evidence that the natives that got higher skill jobs would not have gotten them whether or not there was immigration, as in you would have instead seen tighter labor markets and/or more entry/reentry of marginally attached or flex laborers (older and young men, more women who could do part time work) in the low skilled jobs that the immigrants took up.

Tensions rise as EU says Spain has its ‘full support’ for Brexit power grab over Gibraltar Daily Express

Downing Street defends ex-Tory leader Michael Howard’s claim UK would go to war with Spain over Gibraltar Independent

Why Gibraltar is British – in 60 secs BBC. Nice inclusion of Larry in the closing shot. The intensity of the coverage is not a good sign. I assume this was a combo of a poke in the eye plus a trading chip, but if both sides dig in, this will get stupid.

The Labour party is set to lose hundreds of council seats across the UK in May Business Insider


US Military Should Get Out of the Middle East Jeffrey Sachs, Boston Globe (Sid S)

New Cold War

Putin Derangement Syndrome Arrives Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone. A great piece despite the “arrives” in the headline, which is presumably not Taibbi’s doing. Key paragraph:

One way we recognize a mass hysteria movement is that everyone who doesn’t believe is accused of being in on the plot. This has been going on virtually unrestrained in both political and media circles in recent weeks.

Demonizing Russia — The psychology and consequences of Neo-McCarthyism Storm Clouds Gathering (Sid S)

Searching for Russia Vineyard of the Saker. Chuck L: “Broad brush on deep Russian history plus observations on how its present day government functions and its echos from the past”

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

AIG taps into consumer fears with new cybersecurity product Reuters (Chuck L). You cannot make this up. The answer to deficient products (in this case hackable software and devices) isn’t to make the manufacturer liable or have the Feds all over them to get them fix the problem. It’s another level of grifting called insurance (although in some cases the insurer will seek to recover from the tech co).

Trump Transition

Top Obama Adviser Sought Names of Trump Associates in Intel Bloomberg. Lambert: “Read last para, very dry.”

Paul: Susan Rice should testify under oath about Trump unmasking The Hill

The Real Russiagate: Obama’s Stasi State Michael Hudson and Paul Craig Roberts

Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel Washington Post. Note the Post has to concede that there’s no evidence Prince was authorized by anyone on Team Trump. Looks like an entrepreneurial/influence currying effort to me.

Sweeping Federal Review Could Affect Consent Decrees Nationwide New York Times. This looks cack-handed. It’s supposed to curry favor with police but looks primed to backfire where the police have been working to improve relations with minority communities where there has been a record of misconduct. Policing is less dangerous when enough of the locals trust the gendarmes so as to give them decent intel.

Why, when it comes to the Right, do we ignore events, contingency, and high politics? Corey Robin (martha r)

Trump gives part of salary to US parks BBC. Headline out of synch with article, which is mainly about the backlash re this gesture.

Trump Cracks Down on Visa Program That Staffs Silicon Valley Bloomberg. Lead story as of this hour.

Trump just made it harder for companies to hire foreign workers in the tech industry TPM (David L). TPM uploaded the revised guidance here.

Visa Applications Pour In by Truckload Before Door Slams Shut New York Times. In the NYT’s middle of the night e-mail “top stories” blast, yet underplays the new guidelines issued per the above stories that will have a meaningful, and potentially big, impact on the H1-B program.

First Lady Melania Trump’s official portrait unveiled BBC. Wonder if she is choosing to buck norms for this sort of thing or does not know how to do otherwise.


White House, conservatives mull deal to revive Obamacare repeal Politico. Haven’t they learned not to touch a hot stove?

Trump White House Pushes New Health-Care Deal, Lawmakers Say Bloomberg

Dems reach magic number to block Supreme Court nominee The Hill (furzy)

Democrats Choose Path on Gorsuch That Could Change Washington Bloomberg. Misleading headline. It is the Republicans that would be choosing to use the “nuclear option,” not the Dems.

Former Obama staffers run for office to protect the progressive policies they built Guardian. Martha r: “Is this something we should be worried about? /s”

How Bill Clinton Remade the Democratic Party by Abandoning Unions: An Arkansas Story Labor and Working Class History Association. Max J: “An old piece from November 23 2016, but haven’t seen it posted before.”

Seattle mayor to Democrats: ‘Anger has to be attached to a strategy’ Politico. Note the “purity test” framing.

Tech Founders Want IPO Riches Without Those Pesky Shareholders Wall Street Journal. Translation: common stock is to be even more trading sardine like than ever before.

Finally a real reason for markets to fear Donald Trump MacroBusiness. A tad melodramatic, but the general thrust makes sense.

Markit PMI vs. ISM Fantasyland GDP Projection: Stagflation Lite? Michael Shedlock

Guillotine Watch

StanChart to double minimum wealth for private bank clients Financial Times

Class Warfare

Monopolization and Labour Exploitation The Bullet (Sid S)

In Anaconda, Montana, History Repeats Itself Counterpunch (Chuck L). The anodyne headline does a big disservice to the piece.

How French “Intellectuals” Ruined the West: Postmodernism and Its Impact, Explained Areo (Mike R). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour (Carole):

And a bonus, hat tip Scott. Be sure to watch to the end:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Foppe

    Re: the stuff about making french intellectuals responsible for the uptake of their pet theories: I’m not going to go into the (intellectual) history provided there; the author’s conclusion seems to me more important(ly problematic): “the Left needs to recover a strong, coherent and reasonable liberalism”.
    I would contend that Lockean liberalism is actually a very large part of the problem, because of the sanctity of property + meritocracy as an organizing principle. Both presuppose that desert (social status as well as access to goods and services) is and should be mediated by merit, as achieved through competitive mechanisms. It’s bad enough when only the top few % believe this system works for them, and should thus be maintained, while the rest of the population is marginalized by it; but with the democratization of access to ‘higher’ learning, and the creation of a large group of people who self-identify as ‘professionals’ / ‘knowledge workers’, this mindset must be confronted head-on, and dealt with. Until it is, we’ll be stuck in (this ever-expanding) bureaucratic hell, in which the professional class will only pretend-concern itself with the provision of access to education to the undeservingly poor, while anyone who’s “proven” themselves to be wanting, may go die. (And with meritocracy as the organizing principle gone, we’ll finally be able to move on from liberalism.)

    1. Bugs Bunny


      The problem seems to me to be a very problematic interpretation by the American academy of what is meant in these texts and the philosophical historical context in which they were written. The greatest crime (and some would say the end result of) of scientific modernity had just taken place and there was a requirement to examine how we had arrived there and how philosophy was both responsible for it, and how to avoid it happening again.

      1. fosforos

        To say “the greatest crime…of scientific modernity had just (sic–it was three decades earlier) taken place” to condone a type of thought derived from the Nazi “philosopher,” *parteigenoss* Heidegger, is just…stupid.

        1. Bugs Bunny

          You refute your own assertion within your comment. Had you philosophized in the early 60s, it was only yesterday. Nothing in my statement attacks Heidegger. We “philosophers” had to confront him, however.

    2. DJG

      Foppe: This Area article has been making the rounds, and I was surprised that people consider it to be news. Camille Paglia has criticized the French poststructuralists for years, especially Foucault, yet the response among academics and liberals has been that she is a deranged conservative with attitude problems.

      The problem with deconstructionism is that it is an artifact of French culture and French language. As “raw material,” the French language is a highly artificial structure, easily deconstructed. Not so, the English language. Further, the U S of A is an artificially constructed republic, based on its constitution, an Englightenment document, and deconstruction has done the U.S. polity no favors.

      Finally, deconstruction as an academic pastime has led to the proliferation of many fierce (and they do like the word fierce) critics (and they consider themselves critics) who are ensconced in departments of critical studies, with triple appointments (because academic disciplines are so obsolete). So deconstruction has been great as a jobs program at universities. As an engine of culture in the U S of A? Not so much.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Paglia definitely has “attitude problems;” that’s what makes her interesting. “Conservative” is weird, though; she voted for Jill Stein. Paglia is a committed feminist, albeit a very cranky one.

        I’m afraid I find such furor over philosophical abstractions bizarre. I’ve seen descriptions of “deconstruction”; also bizarre, and patently wrong. So why take it so seriously?

    3. Absolute Negativity

      I disagreed with that conclusion as well, but I don’t think the point’s so far off. I would reframe it: recovering the legacy of the Enlightenment is important for the left. The original critique of liberalism on the left wasn’t that liberalism was an absolute evil but that its professed goals of freedom, rationality (in government and society), and equality were at odds with the means it was using to realize them.

      1. Foppe

        I don’t know if recovering legacies is really all that desirable a goal to strive for, especially given how tied up our thinking about the Enlightenment, via (neoliberal) new Atheism, is with xenophobia and essentialist thinking about other peoples / cultures. (See this two-part essay: part 1 & part 2 for background.)
        Aside from that, I’m mindful of the fact that pretty much none the Enlightenment thinkers favored radical egalitarianism in which human needs outweighed “economic realities“; so on that front too, I don’t see particular value in taking a soft look at that past.

        1. Absolute Negativity

          New Atheism is a distinctly modern phenomenon, not one of the Enlightenment. Although they wish to claim that mantle (as the article you cited points out), they don’t really do so successfully, even as they use similar rhetoric. There were many Enlightenment philosophers against the Catholic Church as it existed at the time, but very few who were antireligious in the modern sense (mainly limited to d’Holbach and de Sade, so far as I’m aware).

          Essentialist thinking did exist among Enlightenment thinkers, but it didn’t typify the Enlightenment as most philosophical thinking was essentialist up to that point; the essentialist strain is very strong in Aristotle which thereby influenced medieval thinking up to the Leibnizian rationalist philosophy that Kant critiqued and dispensed with. In fact, one of Kant’s main points is that the thing-in-itself is in its essence unknowable through the senses.

          If anything, the Enlightenment began to move away from essentialism, even while still being mired in it in certain respects. The real break with the idea of essence came only slightly after the Enlightenment’s end in Hegel who was himself deeply influenced by Kant (as well as Fichte and Schelling, all followers of Kant) and motivated to write his Phenomenology by the French Revolution, the last gasp of the Enlightenment era.

          As for xenophobia, that certainly predated the Enlightenment. It began to be expressed in new forms that are still with us (racism, for example), but it was hardly a novelty.

          I originally had “recover the positive legacy of the Enlightenment,” but “freedom, rationality and equality” seemed to imply that already. And I do think that’s worth recovering, in a modern form at least.

    4. George Lane

      I agree. I have many criticisms of post-modernism, but it is something we must contend with, and certainly not in the way this article does, which seems to seek a return to a naïve worldview of an inherently consistent reality, and with it, an inherently consistent subject. I won’t get into a philosophical debate as this seems not the forum, although I am more than happy to if provoked ;) .

      What I will say though is that a fundamental presupposition for this author is the validity or necessity of liberal democracy. After the crisis of 2007-2008, a certain amount of anti-capitalist discourse has become acceptable in polite society. The sacred cow of the West though still seems to be liberal, representational democracy, and this is an idea and political system which in my view must be radically questioned if we as humans are to have any hope of something better. Liberal democracy is just as broken as neoliberal capitalism, and liberalism has its roots, as you say, in fundamentally capitalist and imperialist thought, such as Locke. Something radically new is needed. This is not to say I am opposed necessarily to reform of course, but this is another discussion. The point I want to make here is just that it is well past the time to abandon liberal democracy as some kind of a priori inherent good.

      1. b1daly

        What do you propose?

        I see conflict as inevitable in human affairs. Changing the organizational structure of society won’t change this.

        So the question becomes what “concrete” structures and systems allow for this conflict to handled as constructively as possible.

        The concepts of “liberal democracy” appear to me to do the best, so far.

        I am wary of “revolutionary” ideas for changing society that will only succeed if the population at large undergoes a radical “shift in consciousness,” inline with the “thought leaders” of the Revolution’s prescriptions.

        The “ideology” of Western Liberal Democracy is rather loose, and therefore allows some flexibility. Which has been demonstrated in the many notable successes of societies that have incorporated such principles into the power structures that govern them.

        In my view, the most salient aspects of such societies are the following principles:

        1- conflicts and other issues related to power and distribution of wealth are subject to a rule of law

        2- the sovereign state has a monopoly on legal violence.

        3- citizens are to be afforded legal protections as a basis and condition of citizenship.

        The concept that the “consent of the people” is required to give the government legitimacy is in there too, but that’s more of a descriptive observation, than prescriptive. It derives from the fact of individuals being agents of autonomy.

        There are many other philosophical foundations for organizing human society. The ones I’ve been acquainted with are abhorrent to me

        That doesn’t mean there isn’t some much superior system of government out there; I’ve just not heard any proposed that sound promising.

        There has been some discussion here lately around the ideas of a “post-industrial” society, where constant growth is not required to keep everyone employed. This sounds like a good idea, and I think a liberal, Democratic system could be a good foundation for such a society.

        It would not inherently lead towards it though. Things could go a lot of different ways. The motivation for such changes would come from extra-governmental societal resources, of which there are many.

        1. George Lane

          Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I don’t know if you’ll see this as it’s an old link now but I’ll respond anyway.

          What do I propose? F*cked if I know! All I can offer are the most general sketches and platitudes that we need something new. But this nonetheless doesn’t invalidate or change my position that liberal democracy’s time is up. As a concrete example, even for the western elites, those who ostensibly have a vested interests in keeping liberal democracy alive, this form of government is slipping more and more to authoritarian control. Take the euphemistically-termed “capitalism with Asian values”: China and Signapore, especially the former, have proven better managers of capital than the west itself, and we can see with the rise of Trump or Le Pen for example that western countries are slipping more and more into this kind of way of ruling. Not that authoritarian control is anything new to the west of course, but the nakedness that it is being exercised now with Trump for example shows that things are really changing rapidly and the left needs to be ready with alternatives otherwise things are really looking grim.

          So even for the status quo liberal democracy is less and less viable. And certainly I don’t think going back to some sort of welfare state is going to work anymore. I can’t offer you a concrete proposal of what a new government would look like, to be honest, all I can say is that we as people really need to put our heads together and think, how would a non-capitalist globalized world look like? How to arrange the state such that it serves people? Etc. The three bullet points you present are true insofar as how liberal democratic states present themselves, but they break down in practice. Conflicts related to power and distribution of wealth being subject to rule of law loses all meaning when corporations and banks can change or circumvent the rule of law as they please, the monopoly on legal violence is meaningless when the US fights illegal wars all over the world and controls international tribunals and private military contractors act with total impunity, legal protections for citizens are a joke when black and brown and poor citizens are not afforded these rights.

          I agree with you in a very basic sense I think, of what priorities society should have, but again I think something radically different from liberal democracy is needed in these times. I’m sorry I could not offer something concrete as a counter-proposal but the truth is I have no such proposal, but that is precisely needs to be really thought about, something else. Because certainly the answer is not to be found in looking backwards – one should always learn from the past of course, study it intensely, what worked, what didn’t, and always keep it in mind – however a return to liberal welfare state, or state socialism, or anything else, is not the answer. Of this I remained convinced.

          Of course the immediate reproach is, “well what do you propose then?”, but while it is a valid question, I also think it can be often used as a kind of blackmail and way to dismiss the fact that what we have is simply not working, and it will take a lot of hard work, both practical and theoretical, to think of something else. Sorry if all this was a bit incoherant, but I am just typing more or less stream of consciousness.

    5. craazyman

      let’s read the article to those birds and see what they say.

      I’m not sure I can trust another writer. If I have to read all the French books myself it would take me so long — and first I’d have to learn French! — that Post-Modernism would be over by the time I’m done, so what difference would it make?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s the journey part that makes it all worthwhile.

        A mental inquiry can, simultaneously, be irrational, rational, emotional, intellectual, empirical, theoretical, etc.

        An ongoing mental inquiry is often terminated when imprisoned within an -ism. We are better off, it seems to me, to take one statement at a time.

      2. JEHR

        I worked my way relentlessly through the article and am left wondering how these insights would be greeted by Trump, for example.

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        One thing I notice about the French is their movies.

        Some French films have more words spoken, maybe 10 times more (so we’re talking about order of magnitude difference) than an average film worldwide.

        At some point during a viewing, one is confronted with this question: Is it better if I just get the movie script and read it in bed?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I love monsieur Hulot.

            It’s some French movies that can be, er, book-like, and when some are adopted from books in the first place, one wonders.

          2. Mel

            I’m appalled by what the American release did to Playtime. The incessant muttering ruined a beautiful perceptual puzzle. (Initially, there had been only one line of dialogue in the whole thing.) Now that you remind me, if I could find a european version, in wide-screen (some of the jokes were built for wide screen), that would be one movie I’d own.

          3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Thanks for that Etaix reference. I look him up and remember Robert Bresson who was also very good.

          4. robnume

            “Le Grand Amour,” by Pierre Etaix is one of my favorites. Thanks for including him. And “Mon Uncle,” by Jacques Tati is one of the best comedies ever made.

        1. Carolinian

          Speaking as a movie guy and not a philosopher your point is well taken and one must say that the French are intensely vain about their intellectual heritage and are often advocates of the idea that high flown talk is a winner when added to the intensely visual film medium. Square peg meet round hole.

          That said, Jean-Luc Goddard (who was Swiss, actually) is great–he made talky “anti-cinema” work–and these days French movies (and French culture in general?) seem to spend a lot more time aping their US counterparts than the Nouvelle Vague.

          As for the article in Links, obviously relativistic notions of truth are a rejection of science but people are entitled to believe what they want as long as they are consistent. You can’t one moment worry about global warming and in the next breath claim that reality is personal. Trying to tie it all into Trump is a stretch though. “Truth” in politics has always been relative.

        2. craazyman

          they all have subtitles too — unlike American movies. You can just read them! You don’t even need the pictures or the sound.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Many can only watch a Hillary speech video subtitled that way, so they don’t need, as you say, the pictures or the sound.

      4. Susan the other

        I adore you Craazy. That’s how I feel about this stuff. Much of it good – in fact all of it good. But I’d rather go for a hike. Never could figure out what these arguments were even about. Amusing that postmodernism gets caught in its own denouncements. Picasso is reported as saying (upon seeing the cave paintings at either Altamira or Lascaux) “We have learned nothing.” I’d just like to say I think it is all good. Morality is not relative and never will be. It will always be a combination of hope and grief. It’s a double helix of flexibility and conservatism.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          The thing about philosophy is that philosophers generally aren’t saying anything particularly profound – they just wonder about the same things everybody else wonders about (do you see blue the same way I see blue?) but like to speak about it all in incomprehensible neologisms rather than plain vernacular. And then sometimes they like to go to far with their intellectual arguments to the point they have no basis in reality (which is a problem postmodernists solve by redefining reality).

          I do think morality is relative. Being a member of NAMBLA today gets you thrown in the slammer for pedophilia but in ancient Greece men often had teenage male lovers. But ask a ancient resident of Athens about the Macedonians and they’d tell you they were barbarians because they still took young men as lovers even after they started growing beards which was not acceptable to the cultured Athenians ( I like to tell that story to some conservative modern Greeks and watch the smoke come out of their ears). But at the same time I think most people in all ages agree that living by the Golden Rule isn’t such a bad thing.

          But just because one concept such as morality is somewhat relative doesn’t mean everything is. Arguing that a giraffe is not necessarily taller than an ant may be a fun intellectual game, but it has no place in the real world. At some point we simply have to come to an agreement on some basic facts by using our senses the best we can to discern them, otherwise we’d be paralyzed by solipsism.

          That’s science, empiricism, the Enlightenment, whatever you want to call it. Sue there are bad scientists but you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. IMNSHO postmodernists are to philosophy are what L Ron Hubbard is to religion.

          Like you said, better to go outside and go for a hike then try to fathom some of these arcane arguments. Or maybe a row, gently down the stream…

          1. susan the other

            it’s like existential crises are prone to more devastating existential crises, so is the relative position of morality… in fact I’m thinking “morality” may have been the first definition in words for the impulse to define what was, in fact, good enough to live by.

          2. b1daly

            I agree, we must have some shared notion of objective reality to avoid solipsism.

            I think the Post Modernists were onto something though.

            Namely, that the system that produces scientific truth cannot itself avoid being part of a power structure, which is maintained by arbitrary beliefs, along the lines you described with ancient attitudes about sex with minors.

            Another way to put this might be:

            -true scientific knowledge is powerful

            -when harnessed by humans, this power brings “might”

            -such humans can tend to fall back on the old truism that “might makes right.”

            The post modern line of reasons challenges this argument.

        2. DJG

          Susan the other: Quoting Picasso also is (almost) always good. And quoting the one woman he could not dominate, Françoise Gilot, is a good idea, too. She’s still alive.

          I think that Picasso’s openness to the modern and the primitive at the same time is something that postmodernists can quite wrap their heads around.

          1. susan the other

            I think that’s because art goes beyond us unless we take the spiritual time to slow down… I just don’t think words are very spiritual – it’s like it is something they lost along the way…

        3. reslez

          > Picasso is reported as saying (upon seeing the cave paintings at either Altamira or Lascaux) “We have learned nothing.”

          For a Cubist to speak that way about the caves makes perfect sense. But if you took someone like Bouguereau there I think he’d recognize a fellow master with lesser materials and technique. An Enlightenment thinker would say cave artists didn’t have the ability to paint something like Nymphs and Satyr. A cultural relativist would say they didn’t want to.

          They’re both right, but I think the Enlightenment thinker is getting at something more fundamental. If you don’t have access to a cultural library of skills and techniques there will always be some options not available to you. That seems to be something the relativists like to disregard — pretending that all cultural libraries are equivalent when they’re simply not.

    6. David

      Yes, agreed. I read this a while ago and didn’t find it convincing. The idea that the Left should embrace liberalism (what has it been doing for the last generation?) is about as rational as saying it should embrace a hungry wolf. What people like Foucault actually did was simply to demonstrate that the ideology of liberalism can be deconstructed and, once you’ve done that, there’s nothing but a series of arbitrary assumptions left.
      There were two major problems here. The first is that a lot of the salient texts were never translated, or badly translated, and so US academics wound up with a very weird idea of what a lot of post-modernism was actually about. This led, certainly, to some bizarre and even dangerous theories, but its not the fault of the original authors, any more than you can blame Charles Darwin for the Third Reich.
      Second, as others have said, translation is difficult anyway. French just works differently to English, and in particular the playful, paradoxical tone of a lot of Barthes or Derrida, for example, is very hard to translate.

      1. Foppe

        Thanks for the mental image, it’s lovely. :)

        Quibble: I wish it were as easy as convincing people to not become liberals, though. Much easier than convincing them to undo their mental allegiance to its shackles. I recently found this talk from 1983 or so by David Harvey. Quite lucid, and still sadly (only more?) relevant: (Imagine this: they intended to shop this talk to C4.)

      2. cat's paw

        I’m by no means fluent in French, but in my limited understanding (and from what I’ve read and heard from trusted sources) French is a more conceptual language than English. Thus, perhaps a little paradoxically, concepts themselves have more materiality or appear and feel more concrete when working in French and so are used and invoked much more frequently than is common among English speakers. This is certainly true in an obvious or mundane sense. Among so-called pomo thinkers seemingly obscure concepts proliferate. But just go back and read Descartes, for example. The same is true of his writing.

        There is a lot that is lost in translation, but it is not just a matter of poor translation. For not a few English speaking academics (and grad/undergrad students) there is tendency to wander off into some nebulous blue working with concepts of French origin (I’ve seen it for a very long time) when for the French the given concept appears much more concrete and precise.

        Another thing: by now everyone has heard of postmodernism but knows little to nothing about what actually constitutes it–having never read any of the key texts. So the term is diluted into near meaningless at this point. More often than not when I see the term being used it has nothing to do with what postmodernism in its various guises was about.

      3. b1daly

        Asking kind of an oversimplification here, but would post modern thinking extend that analysis to all ideology?

    7. Foppe

      there should’ve been a closing /i tag after ‘should be’, as well as emphasis tags around ‘merit’ — sorry.

    8. Portia

      not criticizing, really, but while ya’ll are opining about the number of devils fitting on a pinhead, I will be carrying on starting my garden, and engaging with the present. sheesh. just decide how you feel right now, and go for it! otherwise you will wake up out of this dream of potentialities with nothing to show for it.

      1. witters

        As everyone seems happy to get into (well, talk about and judge) philosophy, can I say that this sentence is plain wrong: “just decide how you feel right now”. (“How do you feel?” – “”Umm, let me decide…”). For those interested in why this is so, and who do want to read some philosophy, I suggest Bernard Williams’ essay from ‘Problems of the Self’, ‘Deciding to Believe’.

        1. Portia

          not getting bogged down in self-reflection is what I am getting at–acting on a decision, instead of getting tied up in doubt and never actually taking action

          words fail me in these situations. I, however will not work to feed a philosopher when he/she can just get off his/her fat ass and help, even if they haven’t justified it with their reason.

    9. LT

      Those views came at a time when Europe had global empires.
      The panic now is that Europe is not the center of the world.
      The problem with the enlightenment ideas is they were created during a time of belief that anything outside of Europe bordered on uncivilized or was uncivilized and savage because it wasn’t “European.” At root, even if some writers may have occasionally expressed humanitarian brotherhood, the ideas came from a deep Eurocentric view of the world.

    1. allan

      As a bonus, it will make housing discrimination even harder to prove.

      Like Uber for Jim Crow.

    2. cocomaan

      Another app that replaces genuine human interaction.

      The entire premise for the old TV show and one of my favorites, Spaced, which is about landlord/tenant interaction.

      I much prefer the personal interview to verifying credentials online like everyone is passing through friggin’ E-Verify.

      1. Eureka Springs

        And another ap which takes all your personal information and does doG knows what with it.

        Considering the costs I really cannot imagine using this rather than craigslist. I mean a landlord could easilly open up a listing to some sort of bidding on their own if they want… and keep all the dinero.

          1. Katniss Everdeen

            Another rent-seeking parasite intermediary masquerading as “progress” and “innovation” because it’s mediated by a hand-held surveillance device masquerading as a “phone.”

          2. jrs

            A rent-seek parasite intermediary on top of a rent-seek parasite (that would be the landlord).

    3. crittermom

      GREED. Total disregard for those needing the most help, especially in housing.
      Another, in the same vein, also starting up, according to the article.

      Maybe someone will ‘leak’ a story (from an anonymous source, of course), saying ‘all the personal info of those trying to use it has been horribly hacked’, making folks flee from using this type of ‘service’ and it dies a quick death.

      Sad to see we’ve turned into a nation of, ‘Do onto others before they stick it to you’ attitudes.

    4. jhallc

      My daughter just paid a full month’s rent as a fee to a realtor/agent for her new Boston apartment. Most apartment’s come with this finder’s fee. Does this replace that fee or is it on top of that? Realtor/agents will not be happy if it’s the former.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Bizarre. That’s some messed-up rental market.

        They haven’t heard of Craigslist? The newspaper?

  2. taunger

    Statements such as this reveal the need for the postmodern critique:

    Despite all the evidence that racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia are at an all-time low in Western societies, Leftist academics and SocJus activists display a fatalistic pessimism, enabled by postmodern interpretative “reading” practices which valorize confirmation bias.

    I have no idea of what evidence supports the statement that racism etc. are at an all time low or how it was interpreted. Even if the statement is valid, does it justify the mass incarceration of black people and the ongoing civil rights struggles of trans- and homosexuals? I think criticism against the social mores supporting mass incarceration and homophobia is valid.

    Surely Yves posted this because of its commentary on identity politics; is it a good explanation of how an academic discourse that uses language (oppression, violence) the author may never well understand has mutated in the popular discourse into an untenable political movement.

    Nonetheless, the above quote makes clear the postmodernists have some points regarding skepticism of power, whether that power is rooted in identity (white male), appeal to “evidenciary” authority (i.e. damned lies and statistics), or unquestioned faith (New Earth, etc).

    1. Outis Philalithopoulos

      I didn’t agree with everything in the article, and I agree with you that there are sometimes interesting ideas that can be gleaned from the “postmodernist” writers. In fact, one topic that I wish Pluckrose had explored further is the considerable extent to which the “SocJus activists” she refers to have departed from the mentality of people like Foucault.

      That being said, I don’t think the central argument of your response treats the author fairly. You take a single paragraph in an essay, and as far as I can tell, didn’t choose the paragraph because it sums up the essay as a whole, but instead because it can be easily portrayed as an infraction. The conclusions drawn are not necessarily reliable ones – for example, I would be quite surprised to learn that the author thinks the mass incarceration of black people is “justified.”

      As a method of criticism, this reminds me a bit of the old-school censors who would watch a movie, ignoring the plot, characters, and themes, and simply tally all incidents of profanity, sexual explicitness, and so forth.

      1. MoiAussie

        At this point in time the comments here on the Pluckrose critique of postmodernism are mostly dismissive of it, on largely spurious or unstated grounds. This confirms and reinforces the critique, as postmodernism’s main global influence has been to cripple the thinking abilities of many of those educated in the arts and social sciences over the last 30 years.

        Like a CIA hacker’s toolbox, it has gifted us the language, tools and methodologies to advance any “story” as being as valid as any other, irrespective of any evidence for or against it (unless it is told by someone oppressed, in which case it is doubly or triply valid), and to unhear or dismiss any counter-narrative. As adapted and misused in modern education and now politics, postmodernism is a poison of the mind, as narcissistic as solipsism, as deluded as scientology.

        1. Uahsenaa

          Okay, a specific example:

          We see in Foucault the most extreme expression of cultural relativity read through structures of power in which shared humanity and individuality are almost entirely absent. Instead, people are constructed by their position in relation to dominant cultural ideas either as oppressors or oppressed.

          This is simply incorrect. Sure, you might be forgiven for thinking as such, if the only thing you’d ever read is Discipline and Punish, but the College de France lectures from late in his career (early 80s) deal specifically and at great length with “the individual,” namely how one becomes a subject of discourse in the first place and how that functions as a process of self-care (what he calls “subjectivation”), which Foucault identifies throughout the history of philosophy in the West, especially in Plato, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Descartes. In other words, the phenomena he identifies are not new at all, so the underlying thrust of the piece linked above, that somehow PoMo represents a radical departure, just doesn’t hold water.

          Also, the assertion earlier in the piece that each one of these authors identified is unconcerned with ethics is also a load of crap. Much of what Heidegger says about technology could just as easily be posted as an Archdruid blog. Then there’s the assertion that this strain coming out of Nietzsche somehow created relativism, when relativism is at least as old as Protagoras (the “man is the measure of all things” guy).

          There is also a baby and the bathwater problem here. While on the one hand it probably is absurd to assert that a giraffe is taller than an ant is an article of religious faith, it’s not all that absurd to assert that in the sciences methodology precedes the collection of data, that methodologies can themselves often be profoundly transformed by ideology, and that empirical observations that do not match with the methodology are often simply ignored or dismissed as irrelevant. This actually happens in the sciences, even the so-called hard sciences. A terracentric universe was not compatible with a number of observed astronomical phenomena, so, for some time, they were simply ignored or provided with special rules governing them so as not to upset a Ptolemaic view of the solar system. Eventually, that methodology was simply discarded, later circular orbits went the way of the dodo, and one imagines a possible future in which our current cosmology will seem as silly as Ptolemy’s does to us now. That doesn’t change the fact that our current model is still useful for the purposes that we put it too.

          You could take what I just said right out of Heidegger or Foucault, who, admittedly, say it in much more obfuscating terms.

          1. MoiAussie

            Also, the assertion earlier in the piece that each one of these authors identified is unconcerned with ethics is also a load of crap.

            Strawman. There is no such assertion in the piece.

            Let’s not waste any more words on this. You are a purist, defending some lamentably misunderstood philosophers and their writings. Pluckrose, I and others here are criticizing the impact of postmodernism on modern thought and attitudes, and particularly, on politics. Surely you can see the difference.

            1. Uahsenaa

              Um, then you need to explain to me how you’re reading this:

              It [the “it” here is PoMo] rejected philosophy which valued ethics, reason and clarity with the same accusation.

              is literally something stated in the piece.

              If the point of the piece is to address the destructive impact on politics of what is in practice a diverse philosophical discourse, then it is even MORE misguided, for the simple reason that both the philosophers and their attendants in academe wield no significant power at all. The US, UK, France, Germany, China, Japan, just to name a few, are all technocracies, the Western ones generally of the neoliberal variety. The experts brought in to advise the Senate, the Congress, and parliaments of the West are all–not some, not most, all of the supposedly objective sort. The political discourse within institutions is all about data-driven this and public-private partnership that, often with the effect that pre-existing social relations and modes of self-determination get steadily eroded. Naomi Murakawa’s excellent book (The First Civil Right), as one example, shows in excruciating detail just how the liberal obsession with technocratic solutions to presumed social ills facilitated the creation of our bloated prison system.

              You can dismiss this all you want. But I can keep providing examples…

              1. MoiAussie

                PoMo rejected philosophy which valued ethics, reason and clarity with the same accusation.

                the accusation being that it was
                naïvely universalizing a western, middle-class and male experience.

                There is no universe in which the above quotes from the piece can be fairly accused, as you did, of asserting

                that each one of these authors identified is unconcerned with ethics.

              2. clinical wasteman

                + many thousand, Uahsenaa. I had some examples in mind too, but it looks like you have it fully in hand.
                The most pertinent critique of Foucault I know of (but so suavely done that most admirers think it’s a tribute) — ‘History of Sexuality’ & lectures from around then in particular — is Giorgio Agamben’s ‘Homo Sacer’, which is as far from a neo-Enlightenment tract as you can get, but maybe even further from anti-historical ‘primitivism’, Romantic or otherwise. It’s also a throw-away-the-key indictment of scientific-administrative business-as-usual as the missing defendant at Nuremberg.* Add the documentary work of historians like Goetz Aly,, and the case Fosforos wanted thrown out is already proved.

                *Not quite missing, come to think of it: it was there on the prosecution team, and also busy rushing some of the worst offenders off to their new life in Operation Paperclip.

                & + thousands to witters too re: ‘decide what to believe’.

            2. visitor

              the impact of postmodernism on modern thought and attitudes

              More accurately: the impact of postmodernism, as understood in the USA, on North American modern though and attitudes.

              The odd pathologies described in the article (extreme value relativism, political correctness, etc) are not prevalent in France itself.

              1. MoiAussie

                The odd pathologies described in the article (extreme value relativism, political correctness, etc) are not prevalent in France itself.

                Sure, but they are not confined to North America. They are widespread in Australia, and I suspect in much of the Anglophone world.

                1. visitor

                  Widespread in Australia?

                  Holy cr*p.

                  Then this raises an interesting question: what weakness made the intellectual environment in English-speaking countries so receptive for those ideas and for their denaturing in the first place?

                  1. MoiAussie

                    Is political correctness a phenomenon in say, Germany? Do they now have trigger warnings in Israel? I have no idea. I’m sure there are studies on the spread of PC that could shed some light on the assumption behind your question.
                    Not nitpicking, but I suspect one would find the pathologies have taken root in many developed democracies, in part because they empower people to project ideas without the need for evidence or reasoned argument, and to shutdown any opposition.

          2. Geof

            “it probably is absurd to assert that a giraffe is taller than an ant is an article of religious faith”

            I tripped over that claim too. A giraffe is bigger than ant, but for most people it is not something we believe because it is true, but because we have been told so. In that sense, it is a product of our faith in whoever told us.

            Similarly, I believe that the earth orbits the sun not because I figured it out for myself, but because that is what scientists and my culture tell me, and I have faith in them on this count.

            In the same way, many people believe that a untrammeled market produces the most just distribution of wealth. It is an article of faith for them in exactly the same way that my belief in the earth’s orbit is for me.

            One could throw up one’s hands and say that because we cannot be certain, there is no truth. Many people appear to have done so. But faced with problems like climate change (and market fundamentalism) I think that’s exceedingly self-indulgent.

            One could reject deconstruction altogether, asserting that there is Truth and it is possible to know it with certainty. People who take this stance are liable believe that they, in particular, are its possessors. Their complaint is with the fools who refuse to acknowledge truth (and typically their own superior knowledge): voters in Kansas, for instance, who do not know their own self-interest.

            Or we could use this insight to do our best to find what is true (or rather, as you suggest and I agree, what works), and to recognize that others are in the same uncertain boat as we, so that we do not take it for granted that truth will speak for itself or that our expertise exempts us from the need to explain.

            In other words, deconstruction can be taken as a justification for calling everyone else a fool (and rejecting it can justify the same): or for reflection and compassion, understanding that we are all fools together.

            1. reslez

              > A giraffe is bigger than ant, but for most people it is not something we believe because it is true, but because we have been told so. In that sense, it is a product of our faith in whoever told us.

              I don’t think this is truthful. I’d estimate that a rough majority of people (in the population of concern, those of us in industrialized countries) have visited a zoo in childhood and personally observed a giraffe. I would estimate a vastly larger proportion have seen a photograph of a giraffe and therefore have a factual basis in reason to accept that giraffe > ant.

              The statement is ludicrous and was well chosen.

              1. witters

                I have never seen a giraffe live, and photos prove zilch about actual size. And besides, I’ve certainly never seen every ant there is (no-one has), so have no idea if there isn’t a monster out there.

                At present, and with that arch post-modernist (really – if you hate PoMo this is the man to blame) the happy Scott David Hume, I take it on faith (custom, habit, tradition).

                1. MoiAussie

                  photos prove zilch about actual size
                  You are using prove in an absolute, philosophical sense, which is an absurd standard to demand, as nothing can be proved to this standard. Yes, photos can be faked, but to claim photos prove nothing is to assume bad faith on the part of someone, the photographer, the publisher, etc. Courts convict on the basis of photos, videos, etc. Do you claim they never should?

                  1. clinical wasteman

                    Actually they could just quit throwing people in jail altogether, that would be fine.

              2. Geof

                Seeing one or two giraffes is not enough to make a general claim about giraffes and ants.

                Is a man taller than a woman, for example? In the vast majority of man-woman pairings I have seen, the man is taller. Up to a certain age as a child, it was probably true of every pairing I had seen. Yet I shouldn’t make the general claim that a man is taller than a woman. It’s not true, and I would be wrong to make it on the basis of a few examples.

                Maybe there is a giant species of ants somewhere, and a dwarf species of giraffes! I believe this is not the case. Why? Because I have faith that someone would have told me if they existed. Also because exoskeletons can only get so big. Or so I have been told; I take it on faith that the claim was true.

                1. Oregoncharles

                  There cannot be ants (or insects) that big, because their construction principles won’t support such size (literally – they would collapse).

                  Insects are supported by their exoskeleton – their stiff surface. As size increases, weight increases by the cube while surface (the exoskeleton) increases by the square. At some point, the exoskeleton loses the race. Internal bones don’t have that limit, as giraffes and elephants demonstrate.

                  Inflatable animals could get very large, too, but we don’t seem to have those, aside from Portuguese men-of-war.

          3. fosforos

            The Ptolemaic model was useless, and always was. if our current cosmological model is “as silly” (actually, much sillier) than that one, we surely have asolutely “no useful purpose to put it to.” The objective truth of science is in the human practice that gives rise to its observations and methodologies and the improvement in that practice resulting from the application of scientific methodologies. Galileo derived the laws of ballistics from the practical operations of the gunners and their cannons, not from theory or experiment. As Major-General Stanley might say, “when you know what progress has been made in modern gunnery” you’ll know more about science than the “novices in a [postmodern] nunnery.”

            1. clinical wasteman

              Well yes as far as that goes, but — if the military metaphor can be stretched just a bit further — if you’re a major-general and you’re the world’s greatest empirical expert in cavalry charges (having won your knowledge the hard way by despising mere book-learning and silly civilian chatter), you won’t know what hits you — or rather your conscript troops — when you charge heroically into combined aerial bombardment, machine-gun trenches and gas attacks. And you’ll understand even less when the surviving conscripts mutiny, blaming you for heroically sacrificing them by proxy and maybe nominating you for that coveted first spot against the wall. And if someone told you that the conscripts on the ‘other side’ were doing exactly the same things for the same reasons, perhaps you’d tie the blindfold on and walk to the wall yourself.
              All of which actually happened, of course, within a few years either side of 100 years ago today. Apologies for lack of convenient sources, but the cavalry-besotted French, Austrian, British and Russian generals tend only to be mentioned in passing in most histories of that war, although the great cafe/nunnery pamphleteer Karl Kraus made deadly serious sport of them at the time.
              And it’s well documented that German and Austrian soldiers and sailors (& also French ones, by some accounts) mutinied just as furiously as their Russian ‘enemies’/comrades did, but were bayoneted in the back by slick Social-Democrat management. Even if that weren’t well documented I would know it to be true because my great-grandfather and his brothers at Scapa Flow (Orkney Islands, Scotland), watched the interned Imperial German High Seas Fleet sinking itself on its own commanders’ orders: the mutiny had gone so far that the admirals scuttled the ships — pride of Bismarck’s Thanatotech[TM] — project in the hope that the sailors’ soviets would drown or at least be shipped anywhere else. (Nobody drowned: the sailors were re-interned on land and eventually shipped home, where they continued to mutiny, while the officers were treated more or less as honoured guests of their British class peers while they watched the remainder of their world implode then reconstitute itself under new political branding.)
              This aspect of the ‘great scuttle’ is only hinted at in military/naval histories and books like Malcolm Brown, ‘Scapa Flow’ (Pan), but I had it at least second-hand from Jim Irvine, a member of the supply fleet — locals who fed the interned sailors as ordered and also ‘fraternized’ with them against the strictest orders and outright threats. Local history pamphlets acknowledge all this more than other publications do, but you’d have to go to Orkney (yes, do!) to find them.
              It also so happens there’s a song partly about it at: []. That’s a mid-scuttle German destroyer in the picture.

    2. cocomaan

      Surely Yves posted this because of its commentary on identity politics;

      No, I think Yves posted the article because it’s another in a long string of academics pushing back on Foucault, Derrida, and the related authors. There are plenty of other similar articles out there. One of my favorites, which I’ve posted here before, is called When Nothing is Cool, about the real problems present in critical theory and how, for lack of a better way to describe it, souls are being destroyed:

      you could say that what is cool now is, simply, nothing. Decades of antihumanist one-upmanship have left the profession with a fascination for shaking the value out of what seems human, alive, and whole. Some years ago Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick touched on this complex in her well-known essay on paranoid reading, where she identified a strain of “hatred” in criticism.

      I’ve read my fair share of critical theorists, having studied philosophy in undergrad and in grad school. Many in the humanities, inspired by critical theorists, are involved with an obsessively disturbing way of “reading into” society. Theories like Foucault’s (that genuineness and individuality are sublimated to invisible power structures unearthed by theorists) strip agency from individuals to favor what he called an archaeology of knowledge. It’s outlived its usefulness in many cases.

      Anyway, it’s all in the article.

      Even if the statement is valid, does it justify

      I’m not the author, but I’m sure the answer to that question is no. The statement is not justifying anything of the sort. If they wanted to justify horrific abuses they’d do it by saying, “I think the current justice system is the best we can do”, or something similar.

      1. JTFaraday

        I like that article, but I also like postmodern philosophy. The best way to approach post-modern theorists is by putting them in the service of historicization, not necessarily so much in terms of immediately undermining ones’ own identity and necessary pragmatism in ones own habits and practices. Foucaultians, for example, have written brilliant histories. George Chauncey’s Gay New York, comes readily to mind, (although indeed that text could also cause one to question one’s identity).

        On balance, it is very important for Americans, living as we do in a very young country, to recognize that there is nothing natural, necessary and given about “our way life.” We don’t do a very good job of teaching history as such at all, throughout our typical educational curricula. Postmodern theory (and, indeed, Marxism and feminism) was a way for liberal arts instructors to more generally unsettle their students’ received ideas, on the cheap as it were.

        I very much agree this didn’t always go down so well. But, it also seems to me that a big part of our public political disturbance today arises from the fact that all too many people were surprised by historical change, when we perhaps should not have been.

      2. skippy

        As far as I can tell the currant – Justice – system is based on Judaic Christian platitudes and little to do with Foucault or post modernists, especially wrt C-corps.

        disheveled…. as far as individualism goes…. how many have I been and how many will I be before morte….

    3. MoiAussie

      Statements such as this reveal the need for the postmodern critique: …

      I have no idea of what evidence supports the statement that racism etc. are at an all time low… Even if the statement is valid, does it justify…

      The statement, valid or not, does not justify, try to justify, or rebut the acts you referred to. You seem confused as to the meaning of your quote, but then you can’t be, because it has no meaning other than your interpretation of it – how convenient.

      And thanks for so clearly demonstrating my point – Bugger the evidence, sorry, “evidence”, I know what I want to think and I’m sticking with it. Coz oppression.

  3. Uahsenaa

    The “French Intellectuals” piece is precisely the sort of lazy argument about post-structuralism you see pop up now and again since the 80s. I wish I had the time this morning to pick it apart, but I have things to do. Maybe later today.

    The gist being the thinkers name-dropped throughout have argued wildly divergent things and were just as critical of each other as of liberal humanism. Nietzsche =/= Heidegger =/= Lyotard =/= Althusser =/= Deleuze =/= Derrida =/= Foucault etc.

  4. Antoine LeBear

    The article about postmodernism seems to me like an attempt to defend scientists many mistakes (case in point: diets, percentage of non-reproducible peer-reviewed publications, etc.) by claiming the scientific theory is under attack by barbarians of the empirical.
    It also strikes me as funny that when liberal ideas become mainstream and thus metanarratives and incidentally the postmodernist deconstruction attacks them, the liberals shout and complain like the conservatives before them whose ideas were deconstructed by Foucault etc.

    1. MoiAussie

      Science, like medicine and law, has always been infested with incompetent individuals who should never have been allowed to practice, and others who are readily bought off to produce what is needed, whether it be proof that sugar is harmless or new weapons of oppression. The infestation has grown in modern times for various reasons, related to funding, the ease with which the promotion system can be gamed, the commercialization of universities, and lowering of the bar to entry.
      This crapification says nothing about the validity of science as a way of knowing, but speaks volumes about the reliability of publicly reported science in this epoch of decline.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Want to see “science in action”? Looking here!

        Quoth the scientiist, “I wonder what would happen if we set up a kind of Potemkin village with well- and indifferently-maintained houses at various distances from Ground Zero?”

        And then there’s this, for those not raised on “duck and cover” or born long after the Reagan people aggravated the long delay infection of Exceptionalism-cum-Survivable-Nuclear-Warism…

        1. River

          Science in action is you just typing your post.

          The amount of chemistry, physics and math that had to be developed to allow you to do this was simply staggering and is a wonder to behold. Centuries of equations and experimentations went into something that you now denigrate.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Yah, all this centuries of Progress have brought us to a very high pitch of progress and perfection, haven’t they? Sorry you find it appropriate to take certain reservations and my personal appreciation for the futility and silliness of so much of it personally.

            I grew up learning to “duck and cover,” to go to school with kids who said “IF i grow up,” not “WHEN.” And the political debate even then was in part about who was more likely to trigger what we were sorta left feeling was the inevitability of a species-ending thermonuclear war. I just found that Civil Defense video to be very illuminating of the kind of idiocy that “science” (nuclear and biological and chemical wea[ons and their complicated “rocket science” delivery systems) can produce. Along with penicillin, which along with other antibiotics gets used to (science again) fatten cattle faster and let chickens with their beaks ripped off live packed cheek by jowl until the superbugs suddenly materialize and humans get diseases for which there is no medication treatment.

            So you can sneer over your scientist glasses and past your pocket protector all you AI want. The world, in my estimation and on balance, is not a better place for most of the human interventions and discoveries that get lumped under “science.” And my computer stuff, like the computer stuff that facilitates “high speed trading/frontrunning,” is mostly TECH and engineering, which is a much different thing than “science.”

            1. MoiAussie

              The world, in my estimation and on balance, is not a better place for most of the human interventions and discoveries that get lumped under “science.”
              When people like you do the lumping, that’s not surprising. You would presumably blame the evils of Big Pharma on science, just as you’ve blamed the evils of factory farming. To you, science seems to be the all purpose scapegoat for what is wrong with the world, even if the truly responsible parties are leaders, military, business people, or all of us.

              And my computer stuff, like the computer stuff that facilitates “high speed trading/frontrunning,” is mostly TECH and engineering, which is a much different thing than “science.”

              Boy, you really are confused. When it’s something you approve of, it’s not due to science. Science invented the transistor, the IC, the laser in your DVD, the magnets in your hard drive, flash memory, fibre optics, WIFi, etc. Engineering took the science and refined it into devices that could be made. The result is technology.

              1. Marina Bart

                I think it’s clearer and more accurate to say, capitalism ruins everything. Because it does. There’s nothing wrong with the scientific method. What’s wrong is global financialized capitalism warping the system which uses the method, by bribing and oppressing the people using the method.

                I am aware of Yves’ counterpoint to this, which is that capitalism was reasonably well-restrained in the middle of the 20th century, and could be again. But that took a World War breaking countries and putting the US in the position of having to do a little bit for its vets when it was fairly easy to do it because of the damage the military theaters sustained, plus there was the USSR as a possible anti-capitalist model if people suffered more obviously under capitalism.

                Why keep a pet tiger, if you know you can never train it not to think of you as a tasty snack? Capitalism is designed to exploit the majority to funnel the economic rewards of their labor into the hands of a minority. You can put it in a cage, and put a muzzle over its mouth. But it’s still a tiger. We keep failing to put a strong enough cage around it. Maybe it simply isn’t possible. Whatever argument for its greater societal value there may once have been — and frankly, I’d be game to dispute even that, given how many people have been exploited and immiserated by it — that need is long gone. Now, the argument tends to be, well, we can’t get rid of it peacefully, because the weapons and their wielders are controlled by capital.

                But we can at least see it for what it is, and say the truth. Capitalism is evil. It is innately corrupting and exploitative. The rationale for its being “good” relies on Lockian notions that the elite will act in the best interest of those beneath them. But that’s been disproven again and again and again. Capitalism has eaten through its restraints again and again and again. The elite today is no more wise and beneficial today than it was in 1815 — you could argue that it’s worse.

                There is no evidence that capitalism works for the many. It needs to be replaced. And in the meantime, let’s stop pretending it’s either inevitable or positive. It is neither.

                  1. clinical wasteman

                    Way too late by now I know, but yes, 100% agreement with that 100%, even if the reasons may be 50-80% different.
                    Thanks Marina, that short statement should probably be posted on walls, studied in schools and generally learned by heart until something very surprising happens. Especially the part to the effect of: no, we don’t even know if it can be replaced short of total catastrophe, but we can at least tell the truth about it. Because life/death decisions about things that actually can be un/done depend on the underlying idea of how everything works and whether or not ‘everything’ is worth preserving. Especially when the people making the decision think it has nothing to do with these ‘big questions’: that it’s all about some immediate, isolated problem, so that ‘getting up and acting’ with blundering force is better than getting ‘caught up in doubt’. Ideology loves nothing better than passing itself off as ‘common sense’, whereas sense or understanding that can actually held in common tends to be painfully aware of its own partisanship. I doubt that anyone in this thread is kidding her/himself that s/he is politically ‘neutral’ or a ‘floating voter’ on theories of knowledge, and that’s probably why the whole thing is insightful rather than insufferable.
                    But that’s also what I mean by 50-80% different reasons, MoiAussie. I agree that ‘crapification’ isn’t scientific method, but the blameless potential of that method will never be applied outside some sort of blameworthy historical context, and so far those contexts have always been either mercantile or capitalistic, and of course they have determined what science has actually done: namely, produce brilliant insights and inventions, many of them worth keeping and all of them irremediably implicated in the worst aspects of the world around them. Implicated just like my life and yours, however sincere our hostility to all that. Which is why, even though I tend to agree that overhyped consumer-digital ‘engineering’ and the more serious engineering of the last couple of centuries do generally fit under ‘science’ (while economics, linguistics, psychology and history most definitely do not), I’d much rather be counted with the supposedly “confused” “people like”(!?!) JTMcPh. who are so rudely slapped down in the reply before last. Part of JT’s far-from-confused point, I thought, was that the notion of ‘science, in itself’, is a meaningless ‘thought experiment’: scientific method is part of history, and all history is dirty. And ‘context’ isn’t wallpaper: the singular event is so much part of its context that neither makes sense if they’re separated. In other words, scientific method, which necessarily and usefully isolates a few factors in order to answer narrow questions, is unrealistic outside the bounds of each controlled experiment. The sterile, almost-variable-free experimental space is a useful fiction for the purpose of testing a single hypothesis, but it’s just bad poetry when used as interpretive metaphor in trying to understand the world at large, which includes the historical existence of scientific method itself. I’m grateful to that method for the fact that I’m using electricity to write this and for the fact that the street below me is paved (I know, not to everyone’s taste). But because you can’t fix the parameters of any social/historical experience in time, let alone turn it meaningfully into a double-blind clinical test-object, ‘scientific’ description of human interaction will always be disingenuous. Methodological refusal to consider its own conditions of possibility (i.e. that pesky rest of the world that refuses to stand still with the dissected object; the incorrigible way the present keeps becoming the past and the future all at once…) makes that use of the method trivial at best or a handy weapon for proprietors (think: “studies show” … supply side incentives … shock therapy) at ordinary worst.

                1. b1daly

                  Do you think “capitalist” societies, as an aggregate, have produced more suffering than non-capitalist societies? That seems to me to be an absurd proposition.

                  As far as I can, societies organized under the myriad of other forms of economic activity have produced just as much, and probably much more human suffering.

                  This might lead one to conclude that the economic principles used to structure the productive activities of a society are not the prime determinate of how much suffering is endured by the population(s).

                  Other factors must be much more relevant.

                  In any case, I think Capitalism is a misnomer. It is not really an ideology in the way that Marxism, Socialism, Fascism, etc, are.

                  Those are true ideologies ; people actually thought them, the principles, then attempted to impose them on a population.

                  There is no parallel for capitalism. Many of the ideas associated with it, derive from attempts to understand how market based economies work.

                  They are primarily “descriptive” not “prescriptive.”

                  What I observe is that, despite the occasional honest attempt to implement market based reforms by policy makers, the loose agglomeration of overly simplified concepts that fit under the rubric of ” capitalism” are simply used by power players to justify what they were going to do anyway.

                  Politicians in the US who proclaim the “free market” to be the generator of all that is good, simply use the “Incanations” associated with ” free market capitalism ” as signifiers to the powerful corporate elites. In the same way “social conservatives” rely on incantations about “guns, God, and hats,” to signify to their followers.

                  So called “Libertarian” philosophy has always struck me as a joke, because it’s obvious that “market” economies are dependent on a functioning system of law and government.

                  So I think it’s worth considering what it is you really mean, when issuing blanket condemnation of loose concepts like “capitalism”.

                  That’s just my ten cents.

                2. JTFaraday

                  Pet tigers are baked in. Today it’s “capitalism,” tomorrow it’s something else. All you can do is seek them out and put them in cages.

                  That’s all folks. No universal elixir.

              2. JTMcPhee

                “People like me?” Speaking of lumping.

                There’s science that discovers stuff that makes the planet a better place to live, and then there’s science, as folks here have worked to refine the definition, that definitely makes the world a whole hell of a lot worse place. Lots of “promise” in recombinant DNA and CRSP-R, fiddling with genetic material and fairly randomly generated proteins “to test their properties.” No possible down-side to that, right, mate?

                Of course, there’s the wonderful scientists who said “Hey, we can re-create the 1917 influenza virus that killed millions — cool!” Or the other “scientist” who figured out how to re-order the structures of other pathogens, to make them invisible to the immune systems of most humans, COOL idea! Someone else here commented a while ago that “All scientific advances and innovations are always examined for how they can be weaponized.” Yep. But “science” good, questioning any aspect of “science” bad. Check.

                And I guess the neurotoxin and growth-regulation and other research that gives us all these pesticides (with their persistences and “effects” on other than target species and whole parts of the ecology) are all well and good, eh?

                I would hope that more people might be on the side, eventually, of questioning the free-range “science” that is done at DARPA, or by our wonderful Spy-vs-Spy people in the realm of torture, testing psychotropic drugs like LSD on unsuspecting mopes, or how about doctors sworn to do no harm, infecting black inmates with what was it, hepatitis, to follow the disease process. Here’s a few more examples of what “your side,” that you apparently claim to belong to, believers in science would it be, then?, might want to examine for any kind of even utility (whatever that obtuse term is taken to mean):

                And if you go to the trouble of doing a search on “evil science experiments” there’s a whole lot more where those examples came from.

                “Science” is a tool, I guess — so are guns, and knives, and even arrows and clubs and atl-atls — products of the process of “Science.” As are the many “advances” in greenhouse-gas-producing, externality-borne-profit-generating technology, from steam engines to internal combustion-powered automobiles and all the technological marvels like satellite music providers like XM, and now hackable “self-driving vehicles” and even lesser automata in the auto field, where a young “scientist” can figure how to lock your doors and windows, and even steer you off the (yes, science-based) superhighway, with no brakes…

                I don’t think I’m confused at all. I have a sense, that satisfies my moral compass at least, of good and bad, in science and other stuff like political economy. But for some reason there’s this fascinating need for lots of people to leap to the defense of science, that enormous category, as if any critique of, or dissatisfaction with, what unbridled inquiry in the form of “science” has “innovated” into the place that both of us, and perforce all the rest of us, have to live.


                1. b1daly

                  Geez man, science is indeed just a tool. Your critique of science seems illogical, as the evils you describe are all the product of human agency.

                  Since people have done all sorts of bad things, do you consider humans to be inherently evil?

                  Since armies are fed by food, is agriculture evil?

                  Since money pays for war, is money evil?

                  As ridiculous as I find these propositions, one doesn’t have to look far to find people to whom they are self evident.

                  Generally, most people alive receive many benefits of the fruits of science, in some cases even being alive at all.

                  I don’t know of any intelligent person who simplistically declares any product of science to be “good”.

                  Sometimes bad, but I unintended consequences from the practice of science happen. These are accidents.

                  If such an accident was foreseeable by a person with some control over the activity, then we can say that person was careless or negligent.

        2. visitor

          The proud introduction to the film as a production of the National Clean up, Paint up and Fix up Bureau looks like a Monty Python joke, but it seems to have been a genuine organization.

      2. mpalomar

        “The infestation has grown in modern times for various reasons, related to funding, the ease with which the promotion system can be gamed, the commercialization of universities, and lowering of the bar to entry.
        This crapification says nothing about the validity of science as a way of knowing, but speaks volumes about the reliability of publicly reported science in this epoch of decline.”

        I think what you are describing here is part of the problem identified by postmodernism, not the result of it. The relative height of, ‘the bar to entry’ is a description of the undertaking of Foucault and others to critique institutions and hierarchies. Those responsible for setting the conditions surrounding the bar are the keepers of the ‘Overton Window.’ They are not postmodernists but are some of its targets.

        As you suggest, ” the reliability of publicly reported science” with the growth of privately funded think tanks, “the commercialization of universities,” should be scrutinized. This is what Foucault identified as part of the problem, i.e. the danger when power is knowledge. Therefore mega narratives must be challenged; for instance, the guiding hand of the market or the compatible and engendering relation of capitalism and democracy.

        Foucault and the postmodernists were identifying a problem with modern epistemology particularly in light of the over confidence engendered by the spectacular success of the enlightenment and science by way of the industrial revolution. Who could argue with science? It had given us the certainty of a Newtonian clock work universe (and then along comes Einstein’s relativity and quantum probability). Postmodernism may be just a reiteration of the questioning aspect of the scientific method and a sensible way to look at the accepted maxims that underlie the structure of culture, society and government.

        1. MoiAussie

          Your thoughtful reply deserves a response, sorry it comes a bit late.
          First, I wasn’t blaming postmodernism for the crapification of science, just trying to defend science as a way of knowing and counter what I see as largely unjustified blaming of scientists for the world’s ills. In fact, I have no beef with postmodernism’s opposition to traditional authority, critiquing of power structures, support for the oppressed, and desire for a better world. And I fully agree that most human thinking is constrained and shaped by language in ways few really understand.

          What I reject is it’s dismissal of objective reality, truth, facts, evidence and reason, it’s failure to adequately understand mathematics and science, and it’s elevation of opinion, belief, faith, interpretation, and subjectivism. In this, I side with Chomsky and Dennett.

          To me, the special position in postmodern thought of humans as the creators of reality is as deluded as every other attempt to put humans at the centre of the universe or at the peak of creation. What humans do is to experience the observable effects of reality, and create, individually and collectively, imperfect, often inconsistent, descriptions and conceptualisations of it, but also of unreality, such as when postulating irresistible forces, immovable objects, omnipotent gods, and perfect markets and democracies. It seems the epitome of vanity to think that the only realities that exist are the ones we create for ourselves.

          1. JTFaraday

            No one has done this. You are fighting a chimera of your own invention. Or, rather, of the conservative noise machine’s invention.

    2. LT

      That happens when science is politicized.
      I also think there is a broad tendency to call any criticism of a scientific theory (especially if a person feels invested in it in any way) a rejection of science.
      I also don’t think all the post-modern theorizing is a rejection of “reason.”
      People have a lot more science to do and a lot more reasoning to do and times change.
      But some people need more “authority” in their lives than others. It will probably be that way until the end of time.
      I’m just going to keep dodging control freaks in my day to day no matter what side of the political fence they come from.

  5. Reno/Dino

    The Real Russiagate: Obama’s Stasi State

    Trump blinked when he fired Flynn instead of defending him for being unmasked in violation of Federal Law. For days afterward, Trump asked everybody if he did the right thing, realizing too late he did the wrong thing. Since then, Trump has been running scared despite his claims the Russian story is a witch hunt. His insane method of revealing information to Nunes with a clandestine meeting in the White House only to call him back in the next day to reveal that same information is proof he still refuses to confront the threat head-on. All the information he needs to blow things wide open is at his finger tips, yet he refuses to use it hoping this will all blow over. Even if evidence of Russian collusion is never found, his refusal to confront his accusers with real accusations of his own makes Russiagate the accepted meme.

    1. fred

      No. Flynn got fired for lying to Trump and Pence. Do you have some actual evidence that Trump called Nunes?

      1. fosforos

        No, he was allegedly fired for not fully informing Pence–about matters which have absolutely nothing to do with the vice-president’s soke constitutional function!

      2. Izziets

        Trump got fired for lying to Pence.

        As for Trump, Flynn either:

        a) didn’t lie to him (as in Trump knew what he was up to) or
        b) did lie to him, but Trump didn’t consider it a fire-able offence.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      He’s refusing to confront the accusers in the similar way he refused to confront the issue of his tax returns.

      He took hits but they found nothing to bring him down.

      1. RenoDino

        No question that Russiangate won’t bring him down because there is nothing there. But the only reason I voted for him was because he promised detente with Russia and that’s not going to happen. The investigation is responsible for that outcome making even all out war a possibility. No, it won’t bring him down, but it brought me down for a multitude of reasons.

        1. b1daly

          I stumbled across this article today. I can’t vouch for the reporter’s credibility, but it makes it look like there is far more going on with “Russiagate” than I would have thought.

          The article proposes that Trump has been included as a subject of a long time, ongoing FBI investigation of the activities of the Russian mob, and it’s connection to Putin.

          I agree minimizing conflict with Russia is a “good thing,” and one of the few realistic policy proposals of Trump.

          Ironically, his ability to deliver on this is being undermined by a confluence of interests from the political and intelligence infrastructure.

          I think Trump is mostly a menace, so if it slows down his ability to implement the rest of his ghastly agenda, I’ll take that as a win.

          Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

          1. Marina Bart

            Sadly, given how who is driving the Russiagate coup and why means that he is being blocked from being his few good things, and pushed into doing the many bad things he wanted to stop (or at least, wasn’t interested in.) So if Russiagate keeps going, we could get lose/lose — all of his worst conservative policies, and the neocons’ desires, and the neoliberals’ desires.

            But it could be worse. It could be Hillary.

  6. MartyH

    Democrats Choose Path on Gorsuch That Could Change Washington Bloomberg. Misleading headline. It is the Republicans that would be choosing to use the “nuclear option,” not the Dems.

    Given the situation, I find this a little disingenuous … the Democrats are working to force a filibuster, fine and dandy. It’s a well-honored tactic. But the Democrats (Harry Reid) changed the rules of the Senate to shut down a filibuster on something they desperately wanted. This opens the door to the Republicans doing exactly the same thing. Having invented the “nuclear option” and USED IT … we are to hold them blameless when they seem quite openly to be daring the Republicans to follow their example? Hmmm.

    1. Eureka Springs

      A little disingenuous?

      There is no way either party, nor the press, has the constitution or the peoples interest in mind. Best case scenario we will always horse trade a Bork for an Alito… and never ever simply say I refuse to play along.

      It’s almost embarrassing watching democrats play along with their so-called party and this kabuki.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      The rules of the Senate lapse with the start of each Congress. The filibuster was largely an agreement between Southern Democrats and national Democrats to not upset Jim Crow. “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” is garbage. The Republicans keep it because they can get a couple of safe Dems whenever they need to, and the Dems love it because people think that Capra movie is real and can vote for good policy while not actually passing good policy.

      The nuclear option is simply the constitutional requirement. The “rules” of the Senate don’t over rule the constitutional order.

      The “nuclear option” was a big deal in 2005 and 2006 when Frist brought up the nuclear option. The Gang of 14 organized to overcome potential filibusters on judicial appointments in exchange for being patted on the head and press preening. Joe Lieberman and “moderates Republicans” such as Collins would get to huff and puff and then vote for Shrub’s appointments anyway. It was a bipartisan love fest.

      The Republicans would always get rid of the filibuster or go around the “rules” hone they needed to. The Democrats part isn’t passing good policies that would win elections. If McConnell was minority leader and Sanders was President, none of this would be an issue.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Even if it wasn’t “unprecedented,” why not demand changes to the laws? Relying on Republicans for “good behavior” is like trusting a rabid dog not to bite.

          Of course, the Senate is a joke of a tradition anyway. We should have abolished it in 1865 when it’s purpose was made unconstitutional.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            That small states have two senators in the Senate, the same more populous states have, seems so unnatural.

            1. Anon

              Two Senators per state is the “Connecticut Compromise”. That may have seemed reasonable when the US was mostly rural, but no longer.

                1. NotTimothyGeithner

                  It was about slavery. The South was a weird place slavery aside. Government was based on how many slaves you had and whether you could get away to govern.

                  This meant slaveholders controlled the state legislatures and the Senate appointments. Abolitionists wouldn’t be able to win Senate seats because Senators for the most part would come from state legislatures who were all slave holders. This was the property requirement.

                  Madison and Hamilton knew how the South operated. The Senate exists to protect slavery. It has nothing to with urban or rural. The United Senate is and always has been an embarrassment on its best days.

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    Still can’t get over that we did not reciprocate French assistance against Cornwallis when they needed our aid a few years later.

                    To say that the alliance was with King Louis XVI and it ended with his death was a bit too lawyerly. (Don’t know if that was indeed the case, but I saw that in HBO’s John Adams).

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          We have entered the Nuclear Option Age.

          Once one was launched, MAD stopped being operative.

          The next Republican move may be to increase the size to 19 justices, with the new ten nominees all from the right.

          That will take a long time for the Democrats to recover, enough with more exercises of nuclear option in the future years and decades, if and when they regain majority.

          1. b1daly

            Well, it’s just going to make it easier for whichever party has a majority to do what they want. The benefits and costs acrue to the Dems and Reps equally.

            There’s no good reason I can see for the Dems not to filibuster now: it’s a political act.

    3. Octopii

      Most unnerving to me is that it apparently does not take sixty votes to change the rules…. thereby nullifying any other sixty-vote requirements. Asinine.

      1. MoiAussie

        Reminded me of Nomic, a fascinating but largely unplayable game which is played by changing the rules of the game.

        Any rule in the game, including the rules specifying the criteria for winning and even the rule that rules must be obeyed, can be changed. Any loophole in the ruleset, however, may allow the first player to discover it with the chance to pull a “scam” and modify the rules to win the game. Complicating this process is the fact that Suber’s initial ruleset allows for the appointment of judges to preside over issues of rule interpretation.

  7. Linda

    First Lady Melania Trump’s official portrait unveiled BBC. Wonder if she is choosing to buck norms for this sort of thing or does not know how to do otherwise.

    She can’t help it that she’s beautiful, Yves. ;)


    Vogue points out that Melania’s photo is similar to Nancy Reagan’s.

    But what is perhaps most striking is how similar Trump‘s portrait is to that of Nancy Reagan. In her own official White House portrait, Reagan was shot head-on in front of the exact same type of White House window as Trump. The images‘ compositions are almost identical, down to the fact that both women were depicted wearing a small bow tied at the neck.

    Laura Bush’s portrait here shows her, as is Melania, in a black jacket, from the hips up, with arms crossed in front.

    1. crittermom

      Not sure I’m looking at the same photo (linked) that Vogue is describing?

      Nancy Reagan is not in front of a window. (Michelle Obama is)
      Reagan is not wearing a bow, either.
      Vogue appears to be blatantly overreaching in its attempts to point out similarities.

      What’s most striking about the differences is that Melania Trump has her arms crossed differently, carefully exposing that gigantic rock on her ring finger, appearing to use her right arm to help prop up the left from the weight of it.

      Yes, she is beautiful, but to me, she appears to have more of a ‘ruler’ look about her that I find unsettling.

      1. Linda

        The picture at the Vogue link does show Reagan in front of a similar window and with a bow. The windows may be a stained glass – at least I think they are windows, and they are similar to me.

        1. crittermom

          Oops? I hadn’t linked to Vogue. I was referring to the other link showing 2 other photos.

          1. Linda

            Nancy Reagan is not pictured at the other link, so that is the problem. :) It shows Obama, Bush, and Clinton.

        2. optimader

          Vogue pictures

          I think that is a fan window in the private residence? At least it is in House of Cards! HAHAHA

          Scrolling down unwittingly, that picture of Nancy gave me whiplash…

          Ah… Michelle.. I subliminally strain to see a shoulder tattoo. Her elbow is artfully placed to more sveltely frame the width of her boxcar….. Sympathetic photographer

          Melania could be the Cosmetics counter manager at Macys, but all in all an inoffensive portrait.

          Melania is working with what Mother Nature gave her, as supplemented by Estée Lauder. Tasteful makeup IMO… but secretly, women’s makeup can tend to freak me out in person and close up. Not Yves, she doesn’t need makeup.

    2. Eclair

      All the Trump women (Trumpettes?) have that airbrushed look. Long, straight blondish hair, plumped lips, no laugh or worry or age lines on their faces, firm boobs, flat tummies, high heels and long legs. Great manicures.

      Well, it’s the ‘American Girl’ look, prevalent in films and on cable. Pushes the delusion that the true ‘American’ is northern European, or a reasonable facsimile.

      1. optimader

        .Pushes the delusion that the true ‘American’ is northern European, or a reasonable facsimile.

        Yes, in the theme set by Michelle Obama, right?

        break out a map.. She is from SE Slovenia, former Yugoslavia, which is South Central Europe.

        Long, straight blondish hair
        BTW, isn’t she a brunette?

    3. Anon

      Like the “Farm Animal” photo’s link, Photoshopping (“air brushing”) to create staged compositions is now extant.

    4. craazyboy

      I think Melania is really missing an opportunity here.

      I’ve been thinking Melania looks kinda like Agent 99 on the old Get Smart teevee show. (Back when they did good TV)

      Been looking thru Agent 99 pics here.

      The similarity in looks would be more apparent if I could find a pic of Agent 99 without bangs, fake eyelashes and looking squinty eyed into the camera. Or vice a versa for Melania pics.

      Nonetheless, The Agent 99 idea fits extremely well with the whole Russian Spies in the White House narrative. Especially not really knowing who is one whose side, or even what the sides are, anymore. I bet Putin doesn’t even know what side he is on. Like Chaos has taken over Washington DC.

      But that shouldn’t derail a photo op, especially if you’re photogenic and are a DeeCee and media personality. (See Kim Kardashian – even a Muslim sounding name doesn’t screw it up for ya!)

      If you can work in tech and it’s popular icon, the smartphone, so much the better. A ” Get Smart Shoe Phone”?? Almost too cutesy, but I’ll defer to Focus Group.

      So here’s the photo idea. A presidential couple version – just make believe Melania and Donald are the subjects…

      Or maybe an individual sitting with a serious look on one’s face. This one shows Max and his shoephone, so you have to imagine Melania and a shoe pump instead.

      1. craazyboy

        Jeebus. I just noticed something important. Kim Kardashian has a North Korean first name and what could be a Iranian last name! Her middle name would be the axis of evil. Or maybe it is “Axis_of_Evil”??

        How did our press and IC fail to pick up on this?

    5. Portia

      it’s extremely expensive to look like that. I remember in Tootsie, he wonders how women can afford to look the way they are “supposed” to look on a working person’s salary.

        1. Portia

          attractive in a corn-fed way, yes. I knew this woman who worked for AT&T in sales, and she had to dress to the nines, hair, nails, designer clothes, or, she told me, she would get “pulled into a room”. beauty? what the hell is it really

          that photo made me shudder. LOL a bunch of fat old guys with an undernourished model

          1. optimader

            with an undernourished model

            Actually she looks like she has some pretty fit looking guns that she could put to use sucker punching Bill in a pinch, literally in a pinch

    6. Yves Smith Post author

      She looks like a sex object even in a black suit. She’s shot and made up and airbrushed to look like one. Way too much “come hither” on display.

    7. reslez

      I don’t care if the First Lady is airbrushed. I mean, she’s obviously surgically altered, what’s a little airbrushing? She’s a beautiful woman, good for her. What bothers me is the gauze over the lens. Way too much gaussian blur, guys. You don’t see any of that in First Lady Obama’s or Bush’s official portraits. It’s off-putting, like something from Glamour Shots in the 90s.

  8. duraki

    from Stasi state link:
    “Why hasn’t the Trump administration had the Secret Service to arrest Comey, Brennan, Schiff, the DNC and Hillary for trying to overthrow the President of the United States? ” – I see, legal investigations and surveillance are an indication of a Stasi state, we should arrest the investigators! And “The DNC”! You know, like they do in freedom-loving Russia, Trump should go Magnitskiy and Navalniy on their asses.

    “Eric Prince did it on his own”, says NC. LOL!

    Rand Paul – Susan Rice should testify because what she did SHOULD be illegal (the fact that it wasn’t doesn’t matter, you see).

    You forgot to link to this development – Carter Page, of the dossier fame, and how his recruitment by Russian spies began:

    1. Gareth

      Quoting from the article:

      Page was working as an energy consultant in New York when Podobnyy met with Page. According to ABC News, the court record shows the FBI interviewed Page in June 2013. Page said he met with Podobnyy “periodically” and “exchanged emails about the energy industry,” ABC reports. The network news report added that “nothing in the court document suggests that Page shared any sensitive information.”

      …According to ABC News, at one point the Russians “were heard laughing, saying Page had no idea they were government agents.”

      Amazingly, the Russians knew over three years before the election that Trump would win the Republican nomination and the Presidency.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Susan ‘Who on Frist’ Rice.

      “I leaked Nothing to Nobody.”

      “Go locate the file under Nothing.”

      “Where is agent Nobody? Go find him too.”

  9. manymusings

    Glad to see other commenters defending “French intellectuals” and their contributions to what many like to derisively call “post modernism.” The critique is as lazy and self-important as the cringe-worthy trends in Social Justice Activism that it seeks to pin on the likes of Lyotard, Foucault, Nietzsche and Heidegger. (and BTW Nietzsche and Heidegger weren’t French, but why let facts interfere with a bitter, culturally-based smear headline?)

    Getting into it would be a longer post than I can muster right now, but I’ve always understood MMT through a sort of “post-structural” or “deconstructive” lens, in a good way, and it’s this mode that dismantles the planks of neoliberalism and typical “economics.”

    1. MoiAussie

      Did you even read it? There’s nothing in the piece suggesting Nietzsche and Heidegger were French. The only people conflating them are some of the kneejerk defenders here.

      Postmodernism, most simply, is an artistic and philosophical movement which began in France in the 1960s and produced bewildering art and even more bewildering “theory.” It drew on avant-garde and surrealist art and earlier philosophical ideas, particularly those of Nietzsche and Heidegger, for its anti-realism and rejection of the concept of the unified and coherent individual.

      1. cocomaan

        I’m not sure why people are getting this confused. And indeed, the only mentions of these Germans are in understanding the philosophical roots of the French thinkers in question.

        German existentialism was absolutely a block in the foundation for critical theory, post modernism, and post structuralism. Nietzsche is a titan in continental philosophy. You can’t mention Foucault or Derrida without giving pause for the giant footprints of Nietzsche.

      2. craazyman

        A minor technicality. They probably both spoke French and visited France more than once. If not, they would have if they had the chance. No excuses!

      3. manymusings

        My point is that the article doesn’t exactly use precision in blaming a broad field(s) of theoretical work for driving American liberalism off course — and the “French intellectuals” headline is part-and-parcel of a tactic to use broad strokes and charged labels as a way of sandblasting a topic of any nuance and invoking a generally negative sentiment. Sort of like, oh, I don’t know, what some Social Justice Activists like to do to gin up resentments.

        Not sure what justifies the label “knee jerk.”

        1. MoiAussie

          and BTW Nietzsche and Heidegger weren’t French, but why let facts interfere with a bitter, culturally-based smear headline?

          Aren’t you just a bit guilty of using charged labels as a way of … invoking a generally negative sentiment against the piece?

          Maybe, as an outsider, I’m missing some nuance about the acceptability of including the country of origin of the philosophical movement in the headline.

          As for knee jerk, several of the defenders here essentially or explicitly said “I don’t need to read this, but it’s crap” or clearly didn’t read it with any care. Did you?

          Finally, do you truly think the piece is written for an academic audience? Much of the pushback here seems to be the type of carping and nitpicking that predominates when experts in any field read articles written for a broader audience.

          1. manymusings

            My initial post and response weren’t personalized, they were focused on the article. Not sure what’s motivating a direct confrontation toward me personally.

            I’m not going to explain why “French intellectuals” is a charged label or why I consider the range of theoretical work swept up in the article conspicuously broader than the label conveys. And, no, I don’t see how calling out the possible significance of a discrepancy between the headline and the content of the article is “using charged labels to invoke a generally negative sentiment” about the article. It’s a specific criticism, not an attempt to smear through connotation, but I suppose the accusation sounds clever. Not saying I expect everyone to agree, and I see the point that Nietzsche and Heidegger aren’t the focus of the article, but I still think my point is a fair one too.

            And yeah, I did read the article. I’ve also read the theorists/philosophers the article discusses. (I find it needlessly confrontational to accuse/imply to other commenters, unprompted, that they haven’t read what they’re commenting on.)

            And whether the article was written for an academic or non-academic audience, I think substantive fairness matters. And, sure, those of us who’ve read this stuff might find things we take issue with in the article, which I suppose could end up sounding like “carping and nitpicking.” So, I get it, message received. Article not meant for readers informed on the topic, who are apt to let their knowledge of the thing discussed stop them from getting the point.

            I’m not going to reply again. This feels like empty sparring over something stupid.

    2. Ranger Rick

      Ctrl-F: Sartre
      0 results found.

      Didn’t need to read a word of the critique. You can’t talk post modernism without invoking Sartre and his “hell is other people.”

        1. JTFaraday

          You’re just mad that the 1950s narrative could not hold, and are stuck looking for a cause.

  10. L

    Seattle mayor to Democrats: ‘Anger has to be attached to a strategy’ Politico. Note the “purity test” framing.

    What is interesting about this piece is that he discusses “purity tests” about faith. That is the claim made by some unstated persons that you cannot be religious and a Democrat. So when talking about purity tests generally his only real example is an anecdotal strawman.

    He then goes on to talk about delivering results around immigration which he has taken a public stand on and which, purely accidentally I suppose, aligns with the interests of Seattle’s largest companies.

    And note that the interview was conducted at Michael Bloomberg’s “What works” conference. So his perspective on actual policy goals probably differs from some other people.

    1. Katharine

      How is stating his own experience a strawman?

      “In the parishes that I go to, I’ve never had anyone get on me for being gay, but I’ve certainly have had people in the gay political community in Seattle get on me for being a Catholic,” Murray said.

      Certainly that is anecdotal, but it is a first-person anecdote. Are you going to reject it because he doesn’t have video and affidavits?

      1. manymusings

        “Strawman” has nothing to do with the credibility of the anecdote. I think the point is that it’s a “strawman” to implicitly suggest that a “purity test” over religion explains or stands for what’s preventing “unity” among the democrats. Corporate dems insist on keeping an iron grip on the party and its agenda, and meanwhile obfuscate policy differences on things like single-payer and trade with pablum about “inclusivity” as if that’s what the critical differences among “progressives” are really about.

  11. Jesper

    The Clintons were nice to finance and after leaving the White House then finance was nice to the Clintons. Probably no connection between the two stories or backs being scratched… But anyway, any news about where Obama will find new income?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Bill was a wingman for sleezy billionaires until Kerry lost. Hillary was an Investment opportunity, not a payoff. Bill didn’t set up his offices in Harlem to be trendy. It was as close to Wall Street as he could afford.

      The Clinton Foundation opened the CGI in January 2005 with Hillary’s path to the White House seemingly cleared when the serious money rolled in. Donations to Chelsea’s allowance…her husband’s hedge fund and the CGI stopped in December.

      Obama will be paid to make appearances and hopefully add sheen to the otherwise repulsive elements of the world, but he won’t bring in the big bucks.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I think this is a good point – there are different types of corruption and payoff. The Clintons are/were very much pay as you go, quid pro quo types – the money piled in when they were delivering, now they are not, it will dry up. Obama is the much more subtle type. No direct payoffs, no obvious linkages, just ‘understandings’. Many wealthy people owe him big time (he saved them from the pitchforks after all) and they will deliver so the message to the next Obama will be loud and clear.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Owe him? Do NFL players get paid for past performance? What leverage does Obama have? The Clintonistas are still the Democratic establishment. Obama didn’t bring in a new generation of Democrats, replacing an old one.

          He is a former President. People pay for celebrity appearances at Bar Mitzvahs and Sweet Sixteens. Obama will have to do this to earn his pay check.

          Obama has to hang out with Branson. If he didnt hang out with Branson, Obama wont get paid. When Kerry lost, people like Branson went to Bill and paid homage for an in when they would be back in the White House. I’m sure Branson could hire Derek Jeter or Justin Timberlake for the same effect, but a former President confers a certain mystique. Obama doesn’t have a co-President or a political class to directly influence or hold arbitration rights over.

          1. John k

            If you don’t pay the last guy you won’t get favors from the next one. If trump isn’t paying attention, you can be sure Pence is.
            And… they might really need favors, plus a few hundred mil among the big banks is no big deal.
            I’ve always thought big o would get his.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Then explain Bill’s lack of funding until Kerry lost. Or Carter’s. His efforts on behalf of the defense industrial complex were simply breathtaking, not to mention his efforts against unions.

              1. pretzelattack

                when carter wanted to give the panama canal back to panama? or spoke up for human rights in central america, for which the right heavily criticised him. how about when he used the bully pulpit to criticise america’s inordinate fear of communism? that was the military preference?

    1. Brian

      Thank you IDK; The fab five (two George’s) created a new modern music. The walls were torn down for windows to the world.

    2. Portia

      yes, interesting. I wonder what the Beatles listened to, growing up, that influenced them. My music theory teacher thought that Barry Manilow was a very influential genius of harmony also.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Growing up? I don’t know, but “The Beatles” name was a tribute to Buddy Holly and The Crickets. Little Richard was also a big deal. So they were basically kids from Liverpool, listening to the same music as anyone else.

        I read not too long ago that George Harrison shortly before he died was eager to meet Weird Al and was a huge fan.

        1. Mark P.

          ‘So they were basically kids from Liverpool, listening to the same music as anyone else.’

          Right there, being kids from Liverpool, they em>wouldn’t have been listening to all the same things as anyone in Macon, Georgia, or Brooklyn.

          In the 1940s and ’50s, beside the regular rock and roll the kids who became the Beatles would have heard a heap-load of English music hall songs, British hymns and trad jazz — basically, dixieland played by white people (if the name Acker Bilk means anything to you, like that). So they’d be familiar with music with different kinds of chord changes than American kids would have been.

          Then, the rock n’ roll and the R&B, British kids in the 50s and 60s heard in a different way than American kids. Not so much as ‘race’ or negro music, more as different strains of American music.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Why Gibraltar is British…

    Is that like Puerto Rico or Guam is US?

    Or South China Sea Chinese?

    1. craazyman

      They probably just want the insurance company that comes with it. That’s all this is. It should be obvious!

    2. vlade

      Gibraltar wants to be British by an overwhelming majority – last two polls were both >99%. Gibraltar was under UK control (captured 1704, ceded 1714) for longer then the UK existed (1707), and longer than under Spanish control (1462, although it was briefly under Castillian occupation a bit earlier too).
      Spain repeatedly blocks the attempts to decolonize Gibraltar in the UN, even though Gibraltar is self-governing and was for last few decades.

      Spain is not very keen to give up its enclaves in Morocco either.

      1. DJPS

        It’s hard to believe Spain and the EU could be so stupid as to go there! Nothing is going to make Brits happier about article 50 being triggered. I honestly thought it was a joke when I heard the news, because the timing is so perfect for Theresa May and Co.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          At least they are not involving the Argentinians and the Falkland Islands at this time.

      2. ChrisPacific

        I think the UK responses on the issue are particularly thick-headed. There’s no need to go all Churchillian about it. Just assert that the people of Gibraltar should have the right to make up their own minds on the issue. Since we already know they want to remain British, that would amount to the same thing in practice, except that now the UK is defending the right of a small population to self-determination instead of playing geopolitical games with Spain. I think that’s a much stronger position politically – there are plenty of provinces and small countries in the EU that would be deeply disturbed by the prospect of Gibraltar being annexed to Spain against the wishes of its people. The UK has a chance to win allies and create divisions within the EU bloc here by standing up for a principle.

          1. ChrisPacific

            Fair points, but speaking as a citizen of a country that was colonized even more recently and as a descendant of said colonists, I am still not comfortable with the idea of my rights as a resident being dismissed based on something my ancestors may have done hundreds of years ago (even if they did behave less than honorably, which was certainly often the case). My own country has grappled at length with the question of what to do about past injustices, and numerous actions have been taken, but only the worst of extremists have ever suggested that colonial descendants should pack up and leave, and they are not taken seriously by either side. (Where would we go?)

            I’d suggest that if you want to redress the sins of Empire, ignoring the views of local residents and conducting a political battle between two large regional powers over who gets to determine their fate is not the way to do it, and is in fact an example of precisely the kind of high-handed behavior that you condemn in a historical context. Maybe they are indeed all money laundering tax dodgers, but if so that’s a separate problem that requires a separate solution (and you might want to take a look at the City of London while you’re at it).

        1. vlade

          I agree – I wasn’t defending Howard or similar jingoist claims, but making a point that Spain’s claim for Gibraltar is political, driven by internal politics and national pride rather than anything else.

  13. Vatch

    How French “Intellectuals” Ruined the West: Postmodernism and Its Impact, Explained

    Thanks for this article. One doesn’t have to agree with everything in the artlcle to accept its thesis that there are severe problems with postmodernism. There have been times when I have made the mistake of trying to read the introduction to a book (usually a book about history), only to be bogged down in meaningless references to Foucault or Derrida. Eventually, I give up, and I stop reading the book, which is unfortunate, because the rest of the book might have value for me. Now I often skip the introduction to many books, out of fear that I will be trapped by po-mo silliness.

    I think this cartoon does a good job of satirizing this realm of thought:

    1. Jan

      Vatch, should you be interested, Guido Preparata’s The ideology of tyranny, esp. the first chapter is a good introduction to the effects of post modernism on American politics.

  14. crittermom

    I’m still chuckling over today’s antidote of the squirrel. LOVE it! Hilarious!

    Also really enjoyed the photos of barnyard animals (“Dog & Pony Show” by photographer Rob MacInnis). Still can’t figure out how he could have gotten so many perfectly posed at the same time?
    I’ve been photographing various animals for years and it’s often difficult enough to even get one critter in that ‘perfect pose’. (I once stood in hip-deep snow, ten-degree weather for 40 minutes to capture a photo of a buffalo I wanted ‘just so’).

    NC always has great antidotes for the (often depressing) news/truth it reveals. Thank you!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It seems the poor bird was being involuntarily excited, or intruded with foreign objects or sound waves into its body.

      “Sorry, I don’t know why I am so out of control today. I will make it up to you once we escape this crazy human wildly striking a strange looking, not very natural for sure (never seen once in the wild), thing.”

    2. Anon

      Still can’t figure out how he could have gotten so many perfectly posed at the same time?

      Because they’re not! Those photo’s are Photoshopped.

  15. optimader

    Makeup in Vantablack, strategically applied, would defeat face recognition software

    You should expect some politically correct backlash on this. You can also figure it to get quite hot out in the daylight as the carbon nanotubes covert the light spectrum to heat.

    Beyond trivial uses like exploiting the alleged 0.9998 emissivity property as the ultimate heat exchanger coating, I have already applied for two patents on more serious applications.

    1.) The perfect Kat /Dog Cage. A big roll up vinyl sheet in the shape of a donut. Place it on the floor in the middle of a room and put your pet in the center with a bowl of food and a litter box. Would probably work with children too! And pet cows, hell they wont even walk on grates.

    2.) Don’t want Solicitors/Relatives/Neighbors at your door? Roll out my coated vinyl sheet product called “it’s not that I don’t like People, I just prefer when they aren’t around” on your front stairs. It is coated black and has an overlaid image of concrete rubble, post a sign: “Sorry for our Dust Under Construction :o) “

  16. Ned Fischer

    Great critique of postmodernism. Just because you criticize them doesn’t mean they don’t have anything valid to say.

    Foucault has some good points about Power as a relation and how Power is porous through out the State and individual. (What would he say about the “deep state” and NSA?)

    Derrida has some interesting stuff about Law and his “Political Turn”. There is a spectre of Marx Haunting the USA in 2017, to paraphrase Derrida.

    Also no Delueze? I give it a C+ Just joking.

  17. LT

    Re: On EU & Brexit by Cassandra

    Lots of talk about the good intentions of EU and/or Eurozone project, but it only flows because she doesn’t talk about Greece, Italy’s banking problems, among other things. I don’t know if I could ever convince a Europhile that what is happening to Greece is a feature of the project, to be spread across the periphery countries of the Eurozone, and not just a hiccup in a grand enlightened project. Time will tell how the axe falls. I really hope to be proven wrong about this assesment.

    Cassandra then says Brexiters are hypocritical to point out that EU officials are unelected, appointed officials far removed from their experiences when much can be said of the current set up if the British government. But it’s not hard for me to imagine that the Brextiters are well aware and struggle enough daily with the appointment heavy British government without wanting to add yet anothet level of unelected officials even further away.

    Then she talks of “immigration.” She is an immigrant – an American with an EU passport living in Britain who went there by choice. Some Brexiters may have harsh racist views, but alot of the heavy migration to Europe of late is not immigrants. It’s refugees. People FORCED to leave their homeland and often enduring traumatizing events in those lands and on their journey out. These are who the less privileged members of Britain and Europe are having to integrate into their communities. So their vew is a little bit different from those who are cohorting with a globe trotting American.

    She did mention something specifically interesting – the view EU as an alliance of developed Western European countries. That goes back to an inherent bias against the Southernmost and Eastern European…”those primitives.”

    Then I read a bit of the Russophobia back in vogue. Yeah, Russia has deveolved into a bizarre type of gangsta capitalism from a bizarre type of Alice in Wonderland controlled economy, but they simply are NOT the Soviet Union anymore.

    Britain may be in for hard times. Tories love austerity and so do EU/Eurozone bankstas.
    Luckily, the Brits kept the pound. That’s the only thing that makes their current situation plausible (even if it is rocky). But the people are going to take their chances with one level of unelected beaurocrats instead of two.

    1. vlade

      Greece and Italy’s problems are EUR driven. EUR != EU.

      I also pointed it before, but will repeat it again: no-one forced Greece, Spain, Portugal or Italy to join EUR. That doesn’t absolve EURozone from the blame of forcing idiotic solution on them when they did run into trouble, especially since Germany/France etc. also share the blame by accepting them in the first place, but let’s put things into some perspective.

      UK took on minimum of refugees (compared to Germany/France).

      1. LT

        Yeah, I know Britain kept the pound. It’s one of the reasons they can even explore Brexit.
        But EU and Eurozone are both propagating the same hopes for periphery nations that I do not think they will deliver on.
        And it only takes a few Goldman Sachs bankstas to cook the books for gov’t insiders to clean up in the short run and leave the rest of a country hanging for the long run…all the while selling them the dream of being a part of the European glory. Looking at you, Greece.

    2. MoiAussie

      Some Brexiters may have harsh racist views, but alot of the heavy migration to Europe of late is not immigrants. It’s refugees…. These are who the less privileged members of Britain and Europe are having to integrate into their communities.
      Not in Britain. According to the British Red Cross, refugees are less than 0.2% of the UK population. And the Pro-Brexit sentiment was strongest in areas with low immigrant populations.

      1. LT

        My post was long so I’ll expand further.
        You have willing migrants and migrants that have to move because of events beyond their control and did not make plans on leaving their home country.
        Sometimes forced migrants are designated “refugees” and other times not.
        But there is a difference between Cassandra and displaced people…wherever they come from or whatever label the statisticians want to give them.

      2. Anonymous2

        ‘ And the Pro-Brexit sentiment was strongest in areas with low immigrant populations.’

        Yes, this was one of the strangest aspects of the vote. Fear of immigration was undoubtedly the emotion driving the Leave vote – you only had to see how the tabloids hammered away day after day with stories along the lines of ‘this is your last opportunity to stop foreigners coming here’. to see that they saw it that way. And yet, the areas which have experienced high immigration voted Remain while it was the areas where there were very few immigrants (and frankly where immigrants probably would not go because they are depressed areas) which voted Leave. Fear of the unknown?

        1. LT

          For those depressed areas you speak of, you could just as easily say the Brexit vote was a “what have you done for me lately” vote.
          Everybody sees that they are depressed areas, but then the main concern of the gov representatives is what?

  18. jfleni

    RE: Visa Applications Pour In by Truckload Before Door Slams Shut

    About time! At least HB1 racket demise will give many deserving Americans jobs; now is the time for nimble universities and community colleges to start training them for same.

    But not the drivel that foreign diploma mills peddle — employers are mostly
    fed up with that; good training for good jobs: Linux, network operations, etc.!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      H1B, finally!

      Many have been looking forward to this from Trump.

      Next up, maternity motels.

      1. The Cleaner

        Don’t pop open the champagne yet. All the order did — and you really should read the original order since all of the reporting on it has been quite inaccurate — was to say that Nebraska center should use the same standards that all other centers are using. The number of H-1B petitions at the Nebraska center is quite small and won’t make a big difference.

        Me, I’ll wait until real reform before popping the champagne.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Why only the Nebraska center?

          I and many will be waiting as well….Rome wasn’t built in one day…

  19. allan

    Pilots who work for Amazon and DHL set to protest outside White House [McClatchy]

    … A few dozen pilots who work for Atlas Air, a New York-based cargo airline with a hub in Miami, will stage a protest on Wednesday amid disagreements on working conditions between pilots and some of the country’s largest shipping companies.

    The pilots argue Atlas and four other cargo airlines have an outsized portion of their business with Amazon and DHL, resulting in the shipping companies essentially controlling the work environment for pilots.

    “DHL is trying to depress labor prices for pilots in the U.S., which doesn’t keep levels of safety and experience high,” said Michael Griffith, an Atlas Air pilot who is organizing the protest with the Airline Professionals Association. …

    About 250 pilots represented by the Airline Professionals Association from ABX Air were blocked from striking by a federal judge in November after a judge ruled it was in the public’s interest to get holiday packages on time. ABX also conducts a large share of its business with Amazon and DHL.

    “Imagine Christmas without Amazon,” U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black wrote in his ruling. …

    Motherhood, apple pie and Amazon.

    1. human

      That is the whole purpose of striking; to cause disruption. Gaining media coverage is a plus. Gaining a judge’s okie dokie seems immaterial.

      But, then, St Ronnie ™ showed how it was done some 35 years ago. Get back to work or get fired.

  20. Eureka Springs

    Michael Hudson and Paul Craig Roberts nail it.

    The Obama/Clinton cover story is now falling to pieces. That explains the desperation in the attack by Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, on Committee Chairman Devin Nunes to stop the exposure. Russiagate is not a Trump/Putin collusion but a domestic spy job carried out by Democrats.

    Law requires Trump to arrest those responsible and to put them on trial for treason and conspiracy to overthrow the government of the United States. If Trump fears to prosecute the Obama operatives within the Deep State, they will try all the harder to attack him to the point of forcing his removal or at least discrediting him and his fellow Republicans to pave the way for the 2018 elections.

    1. HopeLB

      Huffpo and CNN are already declaring this a total non-story (and pleased damnit “Look Away!”) because Trump was clearly fraternizing with “bad guys”.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      11 moves earlier, Trump was labeled a wannabee dictator.

      Any arrest would validate the chess grand master as the greatest ever.

  21. justanotherprogressive

    In Anaconda, Montana, History Repeats Itself
    And keeps repeating itself.

    The history of the Butte-Anaconda area is a history of Capitalism at its worst and the terrible toll it took on the people who tried to fight back until they just couldn’t any more, and what’s left after Capitalists get done with you…..

    It starts with the Copper Kings and their buying of government and judges in Montana (sound familiar? It should), to the formation of unions for worker safety, through the Pinochet years, to the abandonment of copper mining and corporate refusal to clean up their mess so that the area is a Superfund Site with no way to clean it all up.

    It has all the side stories too, like how a company got the water company basically for free and ran it to the ground (for a year, the water was undrinkable) until the city was forced to buy it back for $30 Million. It has the story of deregulation and the boom and the loss of Montana Power. It is the story of how to screw a gubenatorial candidate – ARCO had him announce “new plans” for opening underground mining and then the next day, ARCO announce that mining is being shut down. Yea, he lost big….and Butte did too – within a few months, many small businesses in Butte (including ours) went bankrupt. It is also a story of what people do when they have nowhere else to go! Yep, the Butte-Anaconda story has it all!!

    It seems like everyone with a brain who ever moves to Butte writes about it – because it actually is an unbelievable (but true) story, but most of those writers fail to realize that it didn’t have to be this way, or that Butte-Anaconda is a cautionary tale of exactly what anyone should expect from rampant Capitalism, like the Capitalism we have now……

    1. susan the other

      here are a few things: it is not impossible to survive Montana winters. even without fossil fuel heating… It only requires planning… and preparation – but not prepping which is idiotic… sorry peppers…. Here’s an actual niche where identity politics might be positive and a lesson forward – how to prepare sensibly for the funking winter. etc.

      1. susan the other

        if you replace the n with a c you will get the literal word… but if not, you will get the inferred meaning, so it doesn’t matter… soon funking will mean the same thing… or does it already? and I’m weary of overriding my computer censor with the intended spelling… those assholes.

    2. Ed Miller

      I am so glad to see a local commenting on the Anaconda story. For those not intimately familiar with that valley’s history I recommend looking at the original story in the Last Best News:

      The photo in the article gives a hint of how bad ACM trashed the valley environment, but only a hint. You can see the lack of significant vegetative growth in the photo, but what can’t be shown is the contrast to adjacent valley hillsides filled with tall ponderosa pines (on the north facing side of course). I grew up in Boise but had a summer job in Montana in 1967 which gave me the opportunity to drive through Anaconda while going to a new job site. I detoured off I-94 just to see that valley.

      Although 1967 is a long ways back I still recall that the soil actually colored with a copper tint from so much pollution – and nothing would grow normally. The whole valley was like some hell hole because it was. After growing up in relatively pristine Idaho (excepting the silver valley up north) I could never forget. Today there is some recovery, and one can actually see significant growth and a forest developing. Look closely and you will notice all the trees are about the same age – no old timber anywhere.

      Then there is the Butte Superfund site – the big blue hole I saw in passing on the way to Great Falls which is now filled with toxic water that is a death trap for migrating birds, as posted some time ago here at NC.

      Another old nightmare, this time in Idaho: The big underground fire in the silver mine 45 years ago just outside of Coeur d’Alene. Mining just keeps giving and giving it to us.

      1. justanotherprogressive

        I’m no longer a local. I was one of the lucky ones. I got out, as did my family and friends. There was just nothing we could do to fight what was happening there although so many of us tried so hard to save at least something……

  22. Katharine

    Thanks for Lexicity!

    Also for the squirrel. I would love to know how it wound up that way. It looks as if it had been on a bender. Was the cup previously full of beer?

  23. VK

    re Lexicity

    very interesting, and a very usable site!
    Beeing able to read the original sources (and to know that & where they exist) is the first step to/of questioning and understanding history.
    It is very refreshing to see that people don’t let go and keep critical expertise at life.
    Those seemingly arcane acedemic disciplines all to easily fall prey to dumb budget cuts under the title “Who needs that?”
    Some years ago there was a little storm in the media and the academic, when it got public that King’s College London wanted to close the UK’s only chair of palaeography. Read something about that in a blog run throug The Times those days


    Sometime one gets the impression, there’s a malevolent steering hand behind all that, but that unvisible hand is likely pure and simple stupidity, which in turn serves those well, who want to rule stupid masses.

    1. John k

      Seems much higher min wage fights this trend, the value of non direstvworkers is low wages, the cost is no loyalty, high turnover, mistakes, training costs.

  24. joe defiant

    Funny that all the virtue signallers ignored the St. Petersburg tragedy. They didn’t even change their pictures to the Russian flag colors like France and all the other ones. I guess showing sympathy for Russians is against the rules. It’s amazing how quickly propaganda can dehumanize people and set the stage for war.

    1. joe defiant

      The way propaganda completely dehumanizes people is scary. They even can do it with the same people but arbitrary differences in their situation. For example, people with the means to escape the US bombs in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Yemen, etc. and make it here are treated with sympathy and any attempt to stop them from finding refuge is met with scorn. But. those without the economic means to flee their homes, well forget them. Politicians who very openly state they will continue to drop these bombs are still cheered as heroes the way children talk about superman and wonder woman.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I didn’t link to it because the press here was emphasizing that Putin was in town, ie, the presumed protest, as opposed to the human cost.

  25. purplepencils

    On the quote of Cassandra’s blog post: isn’t the judiciary in Luxembourg? As opposed to the Netherlands? A slight quibble.

  26. another

    For me, that Lexicity link arrives with a timeliness that verges on the miraculous. Thank you, guurst and Yves!

  27. allan

    Rice was within legal rights to ‘unmask’ Trump associates [The Hill]

    … This brings me back to the issue of Rice’s conduct. Even in her role as national security advisor, Rice lacked the authority to compel the unmasking of U.S. persons’ identities in the NSA documentation she was apparently provided in the course of her official duties. At most, she could request that the identities be unmasked, and NSA could either approve or deny the request. Even if we were to assume for the sake of argument that the NSA representative detailed to the National Security Council (over which Rice presided) had the authority to grant her unmasking request(s), and if we also assumed that NSA official did not feel it was prudent to seek approval from someone of greater seniority at NSA, Rice would still would have had to convince the NSA official that the circumstances justified the unmasking.

    This is the necessary safeguard put in place to minimize (if not outright prevent) the politicization of the unmasking process, and there is no indication that safeguard failed here.

    It may ultimately come to pass that new information comes out demonstrating not only that Rice’s unmasking request was strictly politically motivated, but that the decision by NSA to approve it was similarly political. In all honesty, that scenario is unlikely and improbable, but certainly not impossible.

    Until that occurs, however, claims that the unmasking was illegal or unethical remain premature and likely erroneous.

    Written by a defense attorney who works on national security and whistle blowing cases.
    Not as much fun as “Obama’s Stasi State”, but maybe somebody who knows what he’s talking about.

    If newly woke people want to let the FISA Amendments
    (which many on both sides of the aisle voted for) sunset, that would be great.

    1. fresno dan

      April 4, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      The problem is that most of this spying is never revealed. And, the very term “spying” is pretty elastic. If I am a Russian, and I “report” facts on American, am I undermining America? In a time of universal deceit – is telling the truth terrorism?

      “Contrary to the claims by NSA defenders that the surveillance being conducted is legal, the Obama DOJ has repeatedly thwarted any efforts to obtain judicial rulings on whether this law is consistent with the Fourth Amendment or otherwise legal. Every time a lawsuit is brought contesting the legality of intercepting Americans’ communications without warrants, the Obama DOJ raises claims of secrecy, standing and immunity to prevent any such determination from being made.

      In his interview with the president last night, Charlie Rose asked Obama about the oversight he claims exists: “Should this be transparent in some way?” Obama’s answer: “It is transparent. That’s why we set up the Fisa Court.” But as Politico’s Josh Gerstein noted about that exchange: Obama was “referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court – which carries out its work almost entirely in secret.” Indeed, that court’s orders are among the most closely held secrets in the US government. That Obama, when asked about transparency, has to cite a court that operates in complete secrecy demonstrates how little actual transparency there is to any this.”

      As a result, under the FAA, the NSA frequently eavesdrops on Americans’ calls and reads their emails without any individualized warrants – exactly that which NSA defenders, including Obama, are trying to make Americans believe does not take place. As Yale Law professor Jack Balkin explained back in 2009:

      “The Fisa Amendments Act of 2008, effectively gives the President – now President Obama – the authority to run surveillance programs similar in effect to the warrantless surveillance program [secretly implemented by George Bush in late 2001]. That is because New Fisa no longer requires individualized targets in all surveillance programs. Some programs may be ‘vacuum cleaner’ programs that listen to a great many different calls (and read a great many e-mails) without any requirement of a warrant directed at a particular person as long as no US person is directly targeted as the object of the program. . . .

      “New Fisa authorizes the creation of surveillance programs directed against foreign persons (or rather, against persons believed to be outside the United States) – which require no individualized suspicion of anyone being a terrorist, or engaging in any criminal activity. These programs may inevitably include many phone calls involving Americans, who may have absolutely no connection to terrorism or to Al Qaeda.”
      It is beyond irony that so much of the yammering about why we were attacked on 9/11 is that they hate us for our freedoms…and than so many of our constitutional freedoms were abridged.

      We don’t know how many Americans are listened to, what the probable cause for listening is, and how many prosecutions and convictions have resulted from all this snooping OR OTHER OUTCOMES.

      It is an astounding thing that newspapers with slogans like “democracy dies in darkness” and “the truth is hard” (I think) believe that secret courts conducted in secret is why this country is still great…or sumthin’

      It is unfortunate for the defenders of the constitution that so many of the Trump bunch appear to be so truly sleazy, as it makes the danger of unlimited secret government snooping appear to have happened to a group that deserved it. Unfortunately, lost in the partisan rancor is how many Americans no longer have a 4th amendment and how little concern there is regarding this.

    1. Vatch

      Oh my. So Shelly thinks that a couple of million Wall Street barons made a bunch of $27 donations to the Sanders campaign to stop Hillary Clinton. I love surrealism!

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I suspect the well meaning marks who weren’t believers in Hillary but voted with the assurances of local Dems that Hillary was “battle tested” are tired of being duped and want to know what went wrong.

        Since nothing went wrong with the Clinton campaign that wasn’t a problem in 2008, there isn’t an excuse for Hillary.

        Oh, and Sanders won by 15 points in Rhode Island, and if you are winning 18 year Olds, it’s likely you would have won the 16 year olds too. I bet Whitehouse isn’t receiving applause for “OMG Putin. ” People should be crazy super delegates and Southerners who never win anything put up a dope like Hillary.

        1. pretzelattack

          and silicon valley and wall street, who win consistently, whichever candidate wins. nice comeback for goldman sachs.

  28. susan the other

    Just gotta say the antidotes, both of them, were to die for. Those birds were classic. And the squirrel would never relinquish his post. We should take these things into consideration.

  29. ewmayer

    o “This Photographer Photographs Farm Animal Like No One Else | Bored Panda” — Don’t tell me, lemme guess … Robert Mooplethorpe?

    o “International scientific teams find potential approach against parasites | PhysOrg (Chuck L)” — Don’t tell me, lemme guess … Radical banking-sector reform?

    o “Behold the New Vantablack 2.0, the Art Material So Black It Eats Lasers and Flattens Reality | ArtNet (Robert H)” — To quote England’s Loudest Band™, “what could be blacker than this? Why, nothing. There could be none more black.” So potential market niche for heavy-metal album covers. See, if you’re playing with the albedo turned to 0, and you need to go even darker, what do you do? We just turn these albedo knobs down to -11…

  30. screen screamer

    I find it interesting that the accompanying photo of Mr. Cho with POTUS has an avowed communist standing right behind them both. Couldn’t tell a better story.

  31. Olivier

    Re. “Putin Derangement Syndrome”, am I the only one to be reminded of the bizarre and protracted Ergenekon saga in Turkey? Those needing a refresher can read, e.g., Claire Berlinski’s article for City Journal.

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