Links 6/11/17

Physicists review three experiments that hint at a phenomenon beyond the Standard Model of particle physics

Curiosity rover finds its crater was habitable for 700 million years Ars Technica

There are diseases hidden in ice, and they are waking up BBC

The 100 best solutions to reverse climate change, ranked

The Tribes of Climate Change The Paradox Project

Rethink 2% Brad DeLong, Grasping Reality

WTO Faults U.S. on Subsidies to Boeing WSJ

British Airways Flight Outage: Engineer Pulled Wrong Plug Bloomberg. That’s the headline. From the text: “[T]he issue remains of how a single technician could cause so much disruption, and why the airline’s backup systems failed.” So why isn’t the headline: “British Airways Executives SIgn Off on Broken IT System”?

Russian malware communicates by leaving comments in Britney Spears’s Instagram account Boing Boing


America is no longer a force for stability in the Gulf The Economist. And we tried so hard! Iraq, Libya, Syria…

U.S.-Led Forces Said to Have Used White Phosphorus in Syria NYT

‘Dereliction Of Duty’ Author Urges Escalation Of Unwinnable, Never-Ending War Duffel Blog (BC). BC: “You know all the wheels have fallen off the wagon when the only consistent source of insight is from the satirists.”

Crisis in the Gulf: Qatar faces a stress test FT

Timeline of Qatar-GCC disputes from 1991 to 2017 Al Jazeera

The only real way to stop atrocities like the Manchester attack is to end the wars which allow extremism to grow Patrick Coburn, Independent

Clinton’s charity confirms Qatar’s $1 million gift while she was at State Dept Reuters. From 2016, but a useful reminder.

UK Election Aftermath

UK voters want single market access and immigration controls, poll finds Guardian (RS). “I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it (you can’t have it).”

Theresa May’s plan to govern with DUP support thrown into confusion Guardian. Tory press office released news of DUP agreement prematurely, then retracted.

Who are the Democratic Unionists and what do they want? Politico

British PM’s top aides quit after election disaster AFP

Tories spent £1,200,000 on negative anti-Jeremy Corbyn social media adverts Metro

Jeremy Corbyn has prepared the electoral map to finish off the Tories The New Statesman

Labour and its Left mainly macro

Jeremy Corbyn was just 2,227 votes away from chance to be Prime Minister Independent


Brussels takes a step ahead in Brexit negotiations Institute for Government


China’s plan to run the world The Week (kfathi).

New Cold War

Did Comey Violate Laws In Leaking The Trump Memo? Jonathan Turley

On the “Nature of the Person”: Initial Thoughts on James Comey’s Testimony LawFare

Writers From the Right and Left React to Comey’s Testimony NYT

Trump sees Comey’s testimony as ‘complete vindication’ — and his fans agree WaPo

* * *

Did Trump break the law: the case for and against FT

Mueller’s Investigation of Obstruction of Justice: The Next Steps Just Security

Top Dem Donor Calls On Lawmakers To Take Up Trump Impeachment HuffPo

The Impeach-Trump Conspiracy The American Conservative

The Phony War Against Donald Trump The National Interest

* * *

Is Putin Getting What He Wanted With Trump? NYT

Trump’s Darling Zeit Online. “Gina Haspel, the new No. 2 at the CIA, played a leading role in the torture of terror suspects following 9/11. Now German lawyers are seeking criminal action against her.”

Russia may seize U.S. property if its own compounds not returned: Kommersant Reuters

Putin Pop: A Guide to Russia’s Most Patriotic Music Genre (MT).

2016 Post Mortem

The sad spectacle of Hillary Clinton’s slow-motion breakdown McClatchy

Can Hillary Clinton Please Go Quietly into the Night? Vanity Fair (Re Silc).

The billionaire GOP patron behind Trump’s social media bot army NY Daily News. But see NC here and here.

Twitter’s Pro-Trump Bot Crisis Is Really A Human Crisis Buzzfeed

US senator Bernie Sanders on socialism and Donald Trump FT

Kill Me Now

Citizen Zuckerberg The Baffler (Re Silc).

Trump Transition

The Worst of Donald Trump’s Toxic Agenda Is Lying in Wait – A Major U.S. Crisis Will Unleash It Naomi Klein, The Intercept (ChiGal).

Profiting off pain: Trump confidant cashed in on housing crisis Reveal News (Kokuanani).

Scam alert: Trump’s $1tn ‘infrastructure plan’ is a giveaway to the rich Guardian

Donald Trump’s secret isn’t that he lies. It’s that he crowds out the truth. Ezra Klein, Vox (Re Silc).

Democrats use Flint residents as props to push phony infrastructure plan WSWS (MT).. It would be nice if socialists understood MMT.

Health Care

Republicans’ Secretive Plan for Health Care NYT

McCaskill rips Hatch on ‘back room’ health care bill Yahoo News

The Senate’s three tools on health care: Sabotage, speed and secrecy WaPo

Another bite mark exoneration: Alfred Swinton released after 19 years in prison WaPo

Class Warfare

Drug crisis pushes up mortality rate for Americans in their prime WSWS. ‘For the first time, mortality rates are increasing without respect to geographic or racial boundaries, a harsh reflection of the widespread economic decline of America’s workers.” Let’s remember, at this point, that many liberals openly express the view that working class people deserve to die.

Rural America Is the New ‘Inner City’ WSJ

With opioid epidemic raging, calls grow for cheaper access to heroin overdose-reversing drug Los Angeles Times. Moar Band-Aids!

Survival of US profitability miracle depends on wages FT

Federal judges order California to expand prison releases LA Times. “Most of those prisoners now work as groundskeepers, janitors and in prison kitchens, with wages that range from 8 cents to 37 cents per hour. Lawyers for Attorney General Kamala Harris had argued in court that if forced to release these inmates early, prisons would lose an important labor pool.” Liberal rising star Kamala Harris’s views on slavery “an important labor pool” dovetail rather too neatly with liberal Hillary Clinton’s use of slaves prison labor in Arkansas, don’t they?

The evidence does not support Macron’s claim that deregulating labor market will boost economy Real World Economics Review (MT).

What It’s Really Like When People Shout At You All Day Medium

Economism and Arbitration Clauses Baseline Scenario

America Made Me a Feminist NYT

Study of the Week: Trade Schools Are No Panacea the ANOVA

Can We Blame the Mafia on Lemons? Atlas Obscura

Antidote du jour:

Critter swimming up the Stillwater yesterday evening.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. fresno dan

    Russian malware communicates by leaving comments in Britney Spears’s Instagram account Boing Boing

    Oh, baby, baby
    How was I supposed to know
    That something wasn’t right here?
    And give me a sign
    Hit me, baby, one more time

    I can now reveal all Britney Spears songs were written by KGB and communicated to me for dissemination through my bunny slipper antennae…..

    1. ambrit

      Comrade fresno dan;
      You along with Comrade Haygood are doing excellent work in hastening the end game of the Conundrum of Capitalism. The recent successes of the Magonia School of “Realignment” under the beneficent tutelage of Prof. Tremens now give hope to the (literally) downtrodden Cthonic Aboriginals of the American Littoral. Let us hope that the DNC doesn’t realize that the recent Presidential race could have been won by Mz Spears, instead of the badly “performing” Mz Clinton. If one wished to engage in a war of imagery, devoid of substance, (a concise description of the Democrat Party campaign,) a nubile young woman who flirts shamelessly and shows lots of skin is far preferable to the actual candidate. (In the interests of “family values,” and so as to not outrage the sensibilities of the readership, particulars and imagery analysis are redacted.)
      Keep up the good work, and soon you can return to sunken R’lyth in splendour.
      Two tentacles up!

        1. ambrit

          Oh yeah? Sez you! You do know that poking fun at the CAAL’s is not Politically Correct. I was threatened with “Mandatory Sensitivity Training” at my local FEMA camp if I didn’t cease and desist in my irreverent irruptions by no less than the Regional HERO co-ordinator for my Market Area.
          Something interesting in a tangential line:

    2. craazyboy

      Rush Limbaugh first reported on this during the Yeltsin Era, the peak of Brittney Spears’ vote medley gathering powers.

      Rush stated he first became suspicious when his lobster began acting strangely, sleeping with Rush’s bunny slippers (ménage a toi!) and holding antennas and generally acting amorous, for a lobster. Late at night, his lobster would begin dirty dancing, (again, for a lobster – eye of the beholder thingy, methinks.) waving his antennae around wildly and shaking it’s booty. (as much as a lobster can shake it’s booty.)

      Alarmed, Rush handed it a pen and taped a sample future voting ballot to it’s cage. Late at night, after Rush fell asleep from exhaustion, the lobster reportedly voted for Joe Biden.

      The next night, Rush printed up a fake ballot offering only two choices – Romney for President and Paul Ryan for V.P. The next day, Rush found the pen snapped in half and the ballot shredded and shit on. Rush speculated the lobster used it’s “crushing claw”.

      Naturally, Clintonites are attempting to undermine Rush’s credibility. They say the clinical voting trial is muddled and meddled, and an octopus should be used to observe and properly tally the vote. Always.

      Chelsea advised she knows where to get an ample supply of octopi.

      1. fresno dan

        June 11, 2017 at 8:46 am

        Its all so clear now…

    3. Pat

      fresno dan, didn’t pipe in yesterday as I was on my phone, but am very happy to see you still here and still here with us. Take good care of yourself, and keep piping in.

      She’s a slave for….

  2. allan

    Moar Band-Aids!

    Yes, in first aid, one should first stop the bleeding,
    and only then diagnose and treat the root cause of the problem.
    The same goes for making methadone treatment more widely available.
    Or should working any class addicts have to tough it out with at most faith-based addiction treatment,
    as Tom Price would like them to?

    1. ambrit

      True Calvinist social policy would posit that addicts and the other “deplorables” are d—-d from the beginning and so are fated to die anyway. The real secret to “faith based” anything is that it can absolve the “faithful” from responsibility for their actions or inactions. National Socialism partook of a religious sensibility and look where that ended up. American Exceptionalism is in the same category. Having “faith” in the Vaterland, Genius of Democracy, or any other “elite” movement allows us to stop thinking and blindly follow emotional cues.

      1. begob

        The dreaded double pre-destination, beloved of the Free Presbyterian Church aka the Democratic Unionist Party of Ulster at prayer.

      2. Skip Intro

        OTOH, eventually decimation of the ‘Working’ Class could lead to upward pressure on wages, a truly intolerable scenario. Someone get J-Yel on the horn…

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

      Anyone who has seen a loved one blue-faced and twitching on the floor brought back to life with a dose of Narcan will be eternally grateful for that “Band-Aid”.

      No one would die of a heroin overdose if the antidote were as available as insulin syringes for diabetic crises. As I have said before here, the damage profile of opiates to the organs is much less than those of alcohol, cocaine, nicotine, etc. Criminalizing its use is what makes it risky and possibly fatal.

      There is no improving the lot of the dead.

      1. ambrit

        As I posted just above, this policy of “benign neglect” is at heart, (assuming something not in evidence of course,) Calvinist and Social Darwinian.
        One of my favourite images of the “drug war” are the scenes in “French Connection II” where Popeye Doyle deals with heroin addiction himself.

      2. Swamp Yankee

        Yeah, “moar band-aids” snarking on this really rubbed me the wrong way. It’s life and death around here for people on whether they get the Narcan in time or not. I know NC likes to snark on bipartisan neoliberal failures, and rightly so — but the actual victims of this jab, probably unbeknownst to Lambert, are addicts, their loved ones, the first responders, and our communities that are ravaged by this. I think it’s frankly another place where the upper class stockings of this blog are showing, a decided lack of empathy and experience when it actually comes to the gritty realities of the problems it does well at discerning and decrying at the macro level.

        I know a guy who’s literally died six times and has been brought back each time, thank God. Or I remember when I was at a Taco Bell around 9 or 10 pm on a Sunday night a couple years ago at the edge of Plymouth, MA, cops everywhere, dogs, fire — they had just narcan’d a young woman back to life, and she woke up, as people tend to, freaked out and scared, and ran off into the (tens of thousands of acres) of woods. The Narcan was only good for 30 minutes or so, they were desperately scouring these pine barrens in the night to find and save this poor kid. Maybe if it had been available at the CVS down the street, she wouldn’t be forced to rely on cops, EMTS, fire, etc., with all that that entails, not to die. I think they must have found her; I never heard her in the regular local litany of ODs.

        So yeah, “moar band-aids” is frankly pretty glib and insulting to those of us who are living in the middle of this crisis. Like Allan and Chigal say, first you stop the bleeding.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      One should, but that’s not all that should be done. One waits in vain for the political class — especially the liberal goodthinkers, and not fools like Price — to medicalize the problem enough to start collecting some rents on it. So far, no.

      I mean, hundreds of thousands of excess deaths are a little disproportionate to the efforts made in prevent or cure, surely?

      1. PhilM

        Everyone must know that what is being done right now is exactly what is necessary to collect rents in this sector: the rent collection is being conducted by the public sector, and by the partner who shares its methods, namely, organized crime. The public sector has always led the world in force-based rent collection, with organized crime a close collaborator: they work together in all areas that involve vice. The drug war, like human trafficking for sex work, is an epitome of that synergy.

        The competition, in this case, that would eliminate the rents, and shortly reduce the problem to manageable proportions, would be unlimited free heroin and clean supplies for its administration.

        But no: instead, Narcan is the next rent vector. Narcan is being pushed everywhere, just as the opioids were. Look for example at low-dose naloxone, now being prescribed, without good evidence, for chronic pain, especially to people who have, in the past, had resort to even the mildest narcotic therapy.

        People start heroin because they are hopeless, or in agony of some kind and have no access to painkillers any longer, or equally tragically, at a moment of weakness, because somebody pushed it. Remove the pushers, and you remove the marketing department. Make it free, and you remove the business model for criminal organizations. Within a short time, the business shrinks to nothing; like the numbers racket after the lottery was introduced.

        None of this can be done under the current drug enforcement regime. The treatment for heroin use is not narcan; nor is is “treatment programs,” which have essentially no cost-effective long-term outcomes.What works is a steady supply of clean, properly dosed, free heroin, dispensed in a safe and comfortable place.

        Heroin addicts are a threat to no one if they have their drug, food, and a bed. They will use their drug peacefully until they die, probably of an overdose but if not, of something else, at basically less cost to anyone than under any other scenario. Do they deserve this? It does not matter, because their illness cannot be treated, nor the damage mitigated in any other way cost-effectively: not with cops, not with prisons, not with treatment programs, not with narcan. This epidemic must run its course, like most epidemics where the illness has no known effective treatment.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          While I agree that a safe, clean supply of legalized heroin is a good idea, it is not true that people don’t wean off, although the statistics show dramatic improvement in success rate after the age of about 50. Methadone is a good alternative and should as Allan suggests above be destigmatized and more widely available. Also, most people who try heroin do NOT get addicted: this is a myth.

          Narcan is not a substitute for treatment, but you can’t treat a dead patient.

          1. allan

            In the book Evicted by Matthew Desmond (highly recommended and truly horrifying), which is about the eviction industrial complex and the role it plays in keeping the underclass under, one of the people that Desmond follows is a white male nurse, Scott, who begins using, loses his nursing license and spirals down. After bumping along on the bottom, including being evicted and homeless, he begins AA style treatment, from which he relapses. It’s only when he is treated with methadone that he’s able to take tentative steps towards putting his life back together. The fact that it’s so difficult (and expensive, for some people) to get methadone treatment is disgusting.

  3. fresno dan

    Did Comey Violate Laws In Leaking The Trump Memo? Jonathan Turley

    Read this yesterday – can’t remember if it was this or the National Review article where Comey drags Lynch in on account of “matter” versus investigation – which sure makes it Looks like there is an Inspector Javert quality to Comey – well, just not that….

    “Victor Hugo depicts Javert as a character who is not simply villainous, but rather tragic in his misguided and self-destructive pursuit of justice. “[Javert] was a compound,” Hugo writes, “of two sentiments, simple and good in themselves, but he made them almost evil by his exaggeration of them: respect for authority and hatred of rebellion.”

    It wasn’t all that long ago that dems were appalled at the releasing of information about ongoing investigations…..(cough, cough,….coughs lung out – whoa, kinda of ironic given my recent situation….)

    1. Eclair

      We were driving halfway across the country during the day of Comey’s testimony and had NPR’s special coverage beaming into our car for twelve hours. I became violently hypertensive while railing that the whole ‘affaire’ was a sideshow and distraction, but my spouse, who has insanely high tolerances for pain, listened avidly.

      That evening, in a tacky motel somewhere in Nebraska, I watched a rerun, without commentary, of Comey testifying. I was gobsmacked. The guy is magnificent! He projects exactly the right amounts of ruefulness, lovable naiveté, ‘aw shucks’ stumbling, and self-deprecating humor. But you know that no one, no one, who is that person at core, gets to be head of the FBI. It’s all veneer. But what a masterful performance.

          1. ambrit

            Hmmm… That sounds like a good idea for a film: “Elmer Gantry Goes to Washington.” I also like: “Meet John Dough.”

      1. JTMcPhee

        I linked to it yesterday, but for political-theatre masochists, one could do worse than revisit the performance (after 6 months of intensive coaching) of one Lt. Col. (now beloved of the Right) Oliver North, before a Congressional ‘investigating” (sic) committee after the Iran-Contra shemozzle became slightly public. Links within the article are plentiful, including to all his moments before the cameras in the committee rooms. He did at least as masterful a job of playing the Patriot as Comey… Something for everyone, inlcuding North;s secretary, Fawn Hall, who helped shred docs and took some out of range in her knickers…

        Let us not forget the evil that “Iran-Contra” was all about, and what the events reveal about ‘Democracy in America, and us as the Evil Empire…” Do Five Eyes constitute an Axis?

        1. roxy

          In Doonesbury North was portrayed as a friendly little dog with an eager, good doggy look on his face.

        2. fresno dan

          June 11, 2017 at 9:21 am

          Seriously, I never understood why he wore the green uniform before congress instead of the blue dress – is there a rule about when and where you can wear the Marine blue???? Maybe the blue would have been too obvious??

          1. polecat

            ‘Instead of the blue dress’ …

            Too many stains, including that awful rung-around-the-collared !

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          Speaking of Ollie North:

          It’s always a danger, of course, but Oliver North says he feels confident that he will not be corrupted by Washington.

          With the same cock of his head, catch in his voice and altar-boy gaze that made him the top television celebrity of 1987, Mr. North observed today: “I think, really, the problem is that most of these politicians just stay there too long.” If he was elected, he said, he wouldn’t stay a moment longer than two terms.

          Which is to say 12 years, when he might be ready for an even higher office.

          I’m feeling a tingle down my leg…

          Anyhow, that article is from 1994. Remarkable how little has changed.

        4. philnc

          Arguably Iran-Contra was much worse than Comeygate, or even Watergate: as it involved supplying a foreign enemy power with sophisticated US anti-tank weapons (I bet there’s more than one former American tank crewman out there who’d like to have a word with the surviving conspirators about that). Treason at the top, if not common, has also not been rare. You could infer that it was in fact expected, along with bribery being the only specific offense cited as providing grounds for impeachment.

      2. mpalomar

        “The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.”

        I think I read the quip here on NC originally.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      With all the anonymous, high-level leaks driving the “news” these days, I can’t help wondering if this is the only leak for which comey was responsible.

      Somebody probably should have asked him the other day, seeing as how he was “under oath” and all.

      1. craazyboy

        The dyke broke years ago. It’s now an international swampland. Watch out for octopi. They are watching out for you!

            1. footnote4

              Down, craazyboy.

              Ice Cube’s response to Bill Maher’s flippant use of a weaponized term:

              You can use it as a weapon or you can use it as a tool. … I know you heard, it’s in the lexicon and everybody’s talking, but that’s our word now. That’s our word now, and you can’t have it back.

      2. wmkohler

        I remember well the deluge of damning articles quoting a “former senior FBI official” in the wake of Comey’s firing. Hard to see how the appellation wouldn’t spark exactly that sort of speculation, and likely by design.

  4. David

    The first round of the French Parliamentary elections is taking place today. Results (exit polls first) will start to come in from 2000 CEST this evening. The opinion polls (remember them?) are predicting a very good result for Macron’s République en Marche, but in the first round almost anything is possible. There are some thirty groups and parties declared (some in only a few constituencies) and very little chance of many constituencies being won outright, with 50% +1 of the votes. The best guess at the moment is:
    – Macron’s mob will do well, but how well is uncertain.
    – the Socialists will be lucky to avoid being wiped out.
    – both the National Front and La France Insoumise (Mélenchon) will probably do OK in the first round, but will have problems translating this into actual seats.
    – Turnout looks like being historically low.

    Meanwhile, a word on behalf of my favorite party at the moment, and one which all NC readers who like the daily antidote should wish well – the Parti animalistie. Here’s their poster

    1. ambrit

      Wonderful! This proves, (the KGB bunny slippers,) that those wily Russians are on the march world wide! Can this be the 11th dimensional International?

        1. ambrit

          Indeed, since it is the “Parti anamaliste” after all, shouldn’t the order be reversed? Like Sherman and Peabody, or Moose and Squirrel, or Bush and Cheney?

    2. LT

      If it’s low-turnout, that usually benefits the more conservative candidates or policies – just like in the USA.

  5. tony

    Stability is a code word for regimes that obey the US. Attacks on Iraq, Libya and Syria were all pro-stability as those countries tried to resist the US. Qatar however has a US airbase and a friendly government.

    Shlomo Gazit, former head of Israeli military intelligence and a senior official of the military administration of the occupied territories. After the collapse of the USSR, he writes,”Israel’s main task has not changed at all, and it remains of crucial importance. Its location at the center of the Arab Muslim Middle East predestines Israel to be a devoted guardian of stability in all the countries surrounding it. Its [role] is to protect the existing regimes: to prevent or halt the processes of radicalization and to block the expansion of fundamentalist religious zealotry.” To which we may add: performing dirty work that the U.S. is unable to undertake itself because of popular opposition or other costs. The conception has its grim logic. What is remarkable is that advocacy of it should be identified as “support for Israel.”

    With some translation, Gazit’s analysis seems plausible. We have to understand “stability” to mean maintenance of specific forms of domination and control, and easy access to resources and profits. And the phrase “fundamentalist religious zealotry,” as noted, is a code word for a particular form of “radical nationalism” that threatens “stability.”

    “Stability” by Noam Chomsky

  6. fresno dan

    The notion that Trump’s comments to Comey constitute obstruction of justice has been vehemently rejected by Trump’s supporters. Republican Senator Jim Risch of Idaho argued during Comey’s testimony that there is no legal basis to charge Trump for the comments Comey accused him of making.

    “You may have taken it as a direction, but that’s not what he said,” Risch responded. “He said, ‘I hope’ … You don’t know of anyone ever being charged for hoping something — is that a fair statement?” To which Comey replied he didn’t.

    But New York Times reporter Adam Liptak shared on Twitter an instance of a statement beginning with “I hope” *** being used by the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals in 2008 to form part of the basis for a sentence enhancement for obstructing justice.

    “I hope and pray to God you did not say anything about a weapon when you were in Iowa. Because it will make it worse on me and you even if they promised not to prosecute you,” a defendant wrote to his girlfriend, who was a potential witness.

    The defendant in the case, Collin McDonald, had pleaded guilty to one count of bank robbery — during which he carried a concealed knife, according to his girlfriend’s testimony — and was sentenced by a lower court to 175 months in prison, to be served consecutively to previous sentences he had been given by different courts.
    I saw the movie Founder” last night, about Ray Kroc and McDonalds, and there is a scene where Kroc is gifting the company away from the actual founders, the McDonalds. Kroc says that with the capital he has amassed, basically from defying the intent of the contract, the “the iron clad” contract with the McDonalds founders can be delayed and circumvented by all the money Kroc now has access to until the McDonalds founders simply do not have the resources to continue the court battle.

    It Trump proves anything, it is that the US “legal” system is designed, maintained, and incredibly efficient at keeping the rich people….rich and out of jail or consequences.

    *** and how many people are in jail who handled classified material in a LESS careless manner than Hillary? What is the difference – pretty sure it is resources.

    1. Carolinian

      I haven’t seen Founder but as to whether Trump did or did not commit obstruction it’s really irrelevant unless it can be shown that Trump committed enough of a crime for a Republican Congress to launch impeachment–the only remedy.

      The NYT and colleagues are just trying to keep the suckers under the tent. Any excuse for a story.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In theory, the government has more money than any individual to hire the best lawyers.

  7. Benedict@Large

    It would be nice if socialists understood MMT.

    In fact it is essential that socialists understand that the social state is not possible without understanding MMT and its endorsement of spending based upon need and not upon some desired budget outcome. The necessary resources are there to provide for the relative comfort of the population. What is missing is the money to move those resources to where they are needed, and to obtain that money, one need do nothing more than have the common will to create it for that purpose.

    1. Carla

      Good luck with that. So far, I haven’t had success getting the most basic elements of MMT (really all I have grasped, anyway) across to Anyone, let alone “socialists.”

      Most people’s utter lack of curiosity about how the world works is what drives those of us who find our way here to Naked Capitalism, and brings us back each morning. Many thanks to Yves, Lambert, Jerri-Lynn and all the others who keep this site humming. And of course, to the commentariat, from whom we all learn so much.

      1. Uahsenaa

        People, in general, lack a basic understanding of finance and macro-economics, in part, because economists go out of their way to mystify what is, at rock bottom, pretty straightforward. And because people lack this basic knowledge, the terms upon which you can build a more sophisticated understanding, it means you’re most likely to get nowhere.

        Here’s an incomplete list of the problems I run into when having to explain MMT: what a sovereign currency is, what the FED is, how it interfaces with banks, how it’s different from the Treasury, why a government isn’t like a household, that taxes are collected only after the money has been spent, where governments get that money they spend beforehand, why personal debt is mostly bad but government debt mostly isn’t, etc.

        There’s a fundamental mismatch between people’s personal experience of the economy and how it works from the top down. Getting over this mismatch is most of the work of explaining things.

        1. DJG

          Just getting people to understand that the government isn’t like a household may be enough. The conserva-Dems like to drag out the balanced-checkbook metaphor. And as commentators here have pointed out many times, a household doesn’t issue its own currency. Even at the state level, as in the fiscal disaster of Illinois, we have to make sure people understand that state budgets aren’t the same as household budgets.

          I am also hoping that people are finally understanding that government shouldn’t be run like a business, either. The current cast of glorious business luminaries like Trump, DeVos, and Tillerson should be enough for people to get this point, but again, the consera-Dems have harped on this for years: Hence the bipartisan attempt to destroy the post office.

          Usually, though, just getting people to understand that the government is neither household nor business is enough to get their thinking moving in new directions.

          1. cnchal

            Even at the state level, as in the fiscal disaster of Illinois, we have to make sure people understand that state budgets aren’t the same as household budgets.

            State budgets are essentially the same as household budgets.

      2. WobblyTelomeres

        “Most people’s utter lack of curiosity about how the world works is what drives those of us who find our way here to Naked Capitalism”

        That is certainly how I got here. Found myself passing out copies of Randy Wray’s magnificent “primer” to anti-choice protesters in front of a Huntsville, Alabama abortion clinic where I was an escort after arguing myself blue in the face about how austerity made no sense. When they finally decided to ask if I was an economist, I had to answer, “No, I’m not, just a retired programmer.” Months later, found myself in Tuscaloosa debating MMT with the economics dept there during an attempt to enroll in graduate school so I could become sufficiently credentialed to resume the sidewalk debates (“I’ll show ’em”) when I realized that the school had zero desire to see an old liberal disrupting their courtly games. Thanks for letting me join in.

            1. ambrit

              No, more of a State Socialist endeavour. Notice the lack of an Anarchist Comments section. That would be, eh, 16chan? (4 squared.)

      3. funemployed

        I’ve found that talking about the economy in terms of stuff is helpful. “If you were starving, would you rather have a steak, or a million dollars?” Everyone recognizes that the money would be useless, and the steak vital. From there, it’s usually possible to make the point that money isn’t real, but a socially constructed arrangement to lubricate the exchanging of stuffs and doings (liberal educated types tend to get “socially constructed,” or at least pretend to). Sometimes I point out that gold and diamonds have a cost that greatly exceeds their real value to reinforce this point.

        People usually get this if, like you say, every spark of curiosity hasn’t been drowned out by “education” and thoughtless media. Then I move from stuff to “value.” What is actually important for a human community? What makes life better? What makes life worse? How many vitally important things are excluded by our current monetary economy? Most people can name some, and some even wonder why they never thought about that.

        If they’re still with me, I move on from “value” to “power,” defining power simplistically as the ability to get someone else to do something or give you something they wouldn’t do or give you if you both had equal ability to reward and/or punish one another somehow. No need to belabor where it goes next to this audience, but sometimes, people think of things they’ve never thought before, and then they think, and think some more.

        At all costs I avoid mentioning words like “economics” “monetary” and “theory”

        1. Susan the other

          Brad DeLong above link “Rethinking 2%” is a start. It is the argument of 20 or more established economists that we need to let inflation rise to the level of a healthy labor market because we are too advanced to do it the old fashioned way (severe austerity) which is why it has not been working. But even this common sense approach to allowing more (wage) inflation is almost a form of heresy. It makes me feel like we have to beg the Fed, Please Sir, can we have some more? One way to shatter the illusions of ‘private money and only private money because stable currency’ nonsense is to demand better explanations of what the privateers use as a definition for “inflation”. I’ve never read any good justification for any of it. And the concept of private banksters making a profit off of public spending is offensive to almost everyone. People are very skeptical about the banks these days. And these things, public purpose spending, are starting to make sense. But don’t tell Zero Hedge because they won’t have a dead horse to beat anymore.

      4. tony

        I have never had an issue explaining it to anyone without a university degree. It’s very simple and your average working class person has no problem with it. The upper middle class people instead become unreasonably angry as people with indefensible positions tend to do.

    2. tony

      It is essential for socialists to oppose MMT. I have seen several arguments against MMT by socialists, and they boil down to: “If capitalism works, people won’t support a socialist revolution. Therefore MMT must be wrong, now we just need the argument”.

      MMT’s fundamental flaw is its assumption that the capitalist economy is geared to meeting paying needs – that, as Warren Mosler, the founder of MMT, has put it, ‘capitalism runs on sales’. Capitalism does of course need sales but profitable ones. It is not simply a system of production for sale, but of production for sale with a view to profit. It runs on profits and is driven by investment for profit, not people’s consumption nor government spending.

      This is something governments have to recognise and, on pain of provoking an economic downturn, give priority to profits and conditions for profit-making. It’s why governments have to dance to capitalism’s tune. No government can make capitalism work for the benefit of all. The ending of any link with gold has not given governments any more control over the economy than they had before. Pouring newly-minted money onto one side of the scales is not a magic way to balance the books, no matter what the MMT gurus say, and governments will resort to it at their peril.

      MMT: New Theory, Old Illusion

      This comes from Marx who “critiqued the basic institutions of the welfare state in his Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League by warning against the programs advanced by liberal democrats. Specifically, he argued that measures designed to increase wages, improve working conditions and provide welfare payments would be used to dissuade the working class away from socialism and the revolutionary consciousness he believed was necessary to achieve a socialist economy, and would thus be a threat to genuine structural changes to society by making the conditions of workers in capitalism more tolerable through welfare schemes.”

      The problem for socialists is that capitalist countries often provided great standards of living and secured legal and political rights incomparable the anything that has existed previously. Marxist revolutions have always been a disaster. I would prefer democratic socialism, because the capitalist system is literally destroying to world in its pursuit of growth, but I’d still help the government and support shooting any revolutionaries in my country.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        To me, the essence of MMT is putting money under democratic control. It’s hard to see how a socialist could argue with that.

        (As for “revolutionary consciousness,” I don’t think that’s an end in itself. Universal direct material benefits, especially for the working class, are the end. Revolution, reform, etc., are means. That doesn’t at all mean that I believe our current arrangements can deliver those things. I think it’s about, well, sales, making the case.)

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          We have a pesky little document that already puts money creation under democratic control: it’s called The Constitution. So first you’ll need to sort out why we live under a form of money creation that is prohibited by law.

          Maybe we should update that doc: “Money shall be created by commercial banks, regulated by a quasi-private for-profit group owned by those banks”. You could mount an effort to change the law to be orthogonal with reality, maybe the debate would then be open.

          “If the American people understood how money was created there would be a revolution tomorrow”. -Henry Ford

        2. tony

          Socialism to me is means to improve the lives of people, and presumably to any other socialists commenting here. That does not mean that is the goal of all or even most socialists. Think of the mass slaughter in Stalinist Russia and Maoist China.

          I think you are naive. The Holodomor included policies such as making it illegal for the people to gather grains from the ground after harvest. Such policies can not be motivated by anything else than malice. In Marxist countries the well being of the general population was obviously never the goal. There is little reason to believe that the Marxists of today have any purer motives.

        3. John k

          The essence of a democratic gov is that gov is under democratic control.
          Mor wars in ME?
          More guns?
          More subsidies/bailouts for banks?
          Increased pollution?
          Higher drug prices?
          Never ever uni health care?
          Austerity for workers, subsidies for Mic?
          I could go on.
          A nominally dem gov not responsive to popular policies is prima facia evidence of massive and pervasive corruption.
          So I agree our current arrangements (a two party system in which both parties exhibit intense animosity towards the workers) will never, ever do anything useful for the deplorable working class.

      2. voteforno6

        Unless socialists figure out a way to completely do away with money, I’m not sure if the question of capitalism vs. socialism is really that relevant.

      3. Grebo

        I would hazard to guess that most socialists are not Marxists. Murray Bookchin abandoned Marxism for anarchism when he eventually realised that his fellow factory workers would never be persuaded to revolt. They just wanted a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. Socialists have various schemes for achieving that which don’t require a revolution and MMT can be a useful addition to their toolbox.

      4. ChrisPacific

        This is something governments have to recognise and, on pain of provoking an economic downturn, give priority to profits and conditions for profit-making. It’s why governments have to dance to capitalism’s tune. No government can make capitalism work for the benefit of all.

        I think this is overstating the case considerably. At the risk of creating a possibly tortured analogy, it’s like saying that governments have to dance to gravity’s tune. If we managed gravity the way the USA manages capitalism, we’d remove all safety devices like guardrails, warning signs, scaffoldings etc. and accept the resulting large number of deaths and injuries from falls as a tragic but inevitable consequence of the important work gravity does in delivering optimal results for our society. We don’t do that, because it would be stupid. But we don’t try to abolish gravity either. We can and do mitigate its negative effects and make it work for us.

      5. UserFriendly

        You seem to be advocating ditching currency all together… That will never happen, sparing the complete collapse of society, for more reasons than I care to get into.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps that’s not just only one lone wolf socialist who thinks it’s crazy.

    1. craazyboy

      I’m guessing it’s the new Meta-Turd genus recently discovered by Boy Scout Scientists outside their Summer Republican Learning Camp. The Meta-Turd has developed an affinity for gathering and assimilating large amounts of plastic, potentially with the ability to grow to unlimited size. It was observed that opiates in the water supply do slow it’s growth. The Boy Scouts are attempting to determine why.

      Obviously, the Kochs were notified first, and are obfuscating the news.

      1. ambrit

        Ah. The “lowly” muskrat, a reverse example of the “invasive species” that the nutria exemplifies here Down South. They are supposed to be adapted to the Down South climate, but I do not remember seeing any. Maybe I wasn’t looking and so missed them.

      2. grayslady

        Muskrats typically keep only their heads above water (we have lots of muskrats around here, and I always enjoy watching them swim). I suspect today’s critter is a nutria because the body is barely submerged.

        1. ambrit

          Hmmm… I wonder how far north this picture was taken? Do nutria winter over well?
          I didn’t know this about muskrat swimming techniques. That makes my spotting one even less of a possibility.

  8. Jim Haygood

    In July 1896 William Jennings Bryan proclaimed:

    Our silver Democrats went forth from victory unto victory, until they are assembled now, not to discuss, not to debate, but to enter up the judgment rendered by the plain people of this country: You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.

    Now comes the John Law Society [Brad Delong “Rethink 2%” link] in a 21st century reprise:

    Even if a 2 percent inflation target set an appropriate balance a decade ago, it is increasingly clear that the underlying changes in the economy would mean that, whatever the correct rate was then, it would be higher today.

    To ensure the future effectiveness of monetary policy in stabilizing the economy after negative shocks–specifically, to avoid the zero lower bound on the funds rate–this fall in the neutral rate may well need to be met with an increase in the long-run inflation target set by the Fed.

    On their yachts in the blue Pacific, the Tech Lords [Bezos, Brin, Zuckerberg, et al] are serving jeroboams of champagne and ice-sculpture caviar all weekend to celebrate this marvelous communiqué. Without their even having to ask, the John Law Society has stepped forward to do their bidding with the central planners.

    MOAR free money, comrades: it’s the only way to ding the bell of Nasdaq 7000, giving the Tech Lords full dominion over the earth and the creatures therein. The alternative — a crash that would make the Fall of Rome look like a hair salon bankruptcy — is too awful to contemplate.

    Save us, J-Yel!

    1. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      June 11, 2017 at 8:31 am

      I will take the FED clowns and the DeLong DeClowns seriously when the FED commits to 2% real wage (and now that I am old, social security benefit benefit) growth above inflation…..
      CAN they not do that, or they DON’T wanna do that???

      1. Jim Haygood

        With “2% real” Soc Sec COLAs, the magic of compounding would ensure that seniors rule the earth by 2050.

        As they say down at the marina in Tiburon, “Where are the seniors’ yachts?” ;-)

      2. craazyboy

        What DeLong is fully aware of, and not saying, is the 99% doesn’t do enough useful stuff to justify their existence, therefore we need higher price inflation to reduce everyone’s purchasing power. So, we understand where that leads – another race to the bottom.

        However, I’m always reminded of Jay Gould’s quote: I can hire half the country to kill the other half!

        So the upper 50% will be made useful, and incrementally, get to “win” the game for some probationary period.

        DeLong gets $200K/year for salary and guaranteed pension contribution.

        He’s up there for an ample probation period. Plus he says soothing things neolibs like to hear.

        1. UserFriendly

          Inflation is good for the poor debt slaves. It only soaks the people who have enough money to save.

    2. Mel

      The only way I can understand this is to think they’re invoking the Phillips Curve, which claims there’s a relationship between inflation and employment. They seem to believe that if they can get some inflation going they can cause employment.
      Hiring people is known to cause employment.

      1. craazyboy

        They really are! At least so they say. Most people think they’re not that dumb. Just desperate.

        Also, the Phillips curve has been criticized roundly for being not only non-symmetrical with regards to cause and effect, but also has high hysteresis, as demonstrated by Volker and his “successful” use of interest rates to cause unemployment and in turn to reduce inflation.

        The prior Fed used it the other way around – cut rates to cheapen money for government borrowing and also push cheap money into the private sector to stimulate hiring and investment. That sorta worked – until we got big inflation in the later 70s.

        It’s one of the more broadly accepted economic jokes amongst economists in the know, during cocktail hour dismal breaks.

        Bankers and Wall Street refer to it privately as the “Useful Idiots Make Us Money!” Theory. UIMUM. (Nanny Gummint On Display)

        Well proven, too!

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Or maybe they can rethink their entire premise that falling prices, once known as “progress”, are bad:

        And speaking of the Great Depression, one commenter compared GDP growth during the Depression to today. The Fed works for price “stability”, but I’m reminded of The Princess Bride, when Montoya says “I do not think that word means what you think it does”:

        1930: -8.5%
        1931: -6.4%
        1932: -12.9%
        1933: -1.3%
        1934: 10.8%
        1935: 8.9%
        1936: 12.9%
        1937: 5.1%
        1938: -3.3%
        1939: 8.0%

        Average: 1.33%

        2007: 1.8%
        2008: -0.3%
        2009: -2.8%
        2010: 2.5%
        2011: 1.6%
        2012: 2.2%
        2013: 1.7%
        2014: 2.4%
        2015: 2.6%
        2016: 1.6%

        Average: 1.33%

    3. Goyo Marquez

      Well back in the day… when I was an undergraduate Econ major at UCLA the target everyone talked about was 4%. Of course that was back in the days of disastrous, runaway, inflation, when my working class parents were forced to pay off their house in 10 years. Oh the horror!

    4. Susan the other

      Well, 2 kinds of money isn’t all that bad an idea. We could use our money for public purpose which does not diminish the sovereign currency in any way; alternatively we could allow private banking to print and back their own money and use it exclusively, which likewise would not diminish the value of the sovereign currency in any way. But to have a big dead skunk in the middle of the road and call it a stable currency really stinks.

      1. craazyboy

        Except no one likes getting paid in the depreciating currency.

        It’s just swapping one game for another. They have lots of them.

        Command and control political-economies get good at it.

    5. Jess

      “a crash that would make the Fall of Rome look like a hair salon bankruptcy”

      Once again, Comrade Haygood for the win. The man can turn a phrase.

  9. fresno dan

    The Worst of Donald Trump’s Toxic Agenda Is Lying in Wait – A Major U.S. Crisis Will Unleash It Naomi Klein, The Intercept (ChiGal).

    As Milton Friedman wrote long ago, “Only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change.
    Now, as many have observed, the pattern is repeating under Trump. On the campaign trail, he did not tell his adoring crowds that he would cut funds for meals-on-wheels, or admit that he was going to try to take health insurance away from millions of Americans, or that he planned to grant every item on Goldman Sachs’ wish list. He said the very opposite.

    Since taking office, however, Donald Trump has never allowed the atmosphere of chaos and crisis to let up. Some of the chaos, like the Russia investigations, has been foisted upon him or is simply the result of incompetence, but much appears to be deliberately created. Either way, while we are distracted by (and addicted to) the Trump Show, clicking on and gasping at marital hand-slaps and mysterious orbs, the quiet, methodical work of redistributing wealth upward proceeds apace.
    When I have my three layers of Reynolds aluminum foil hat on, so that I can think critically in these bizarre times, I certainly ponder how much of Trump chaos is a neoliberal plan designed to distract from the serious business of screwing the 99%…..
    I bet a LOT of other people think that too

    1. Linda

      I mentioned the other day that The Intercept had hired several people recently. Naomi Klein is another new one. Scahill introduced her on his podcast in February as newly hired “Senior Journalist.”

    2. Linda

      Thanks for posting on this, fresno dan, to call it to my attention again. I had scrolled past it in the Links. (Probably just skipping Trump related this morning.) IMO, this is today’s Must Read. Long, (very long), but a must read.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I’m not sure what to make of the Naomi Klein link.

      I fully agree with your tentative assessment that “much of Trump chaos is a neoliberal plan designed to distract from the serious business of screwing the 99%”. I believe the plan to screw the 99% was the main platform of both parties in the last election. The main difference lay in who in the 99% would get screwed first and the worst. I hoped Trump might represent a tendency to keep the screwing local to this country. His “infrastructure” repairs and development plans fit nicely into that mold. Trump became scary outside this country with Pence as his Vice-President, Goldman Sachs as his cabinet and executive branch and a Pentagon unleashed to handle foreign affairs/wars [a little rhetorical hyperbole — but fun to write]. The U.S. has done so much harm in the world and created so many problems I hoped Trump might be a force to shift focus to doing domestic harm. But his seeming delegation of power to more globally inclined actors threatens broad global destruction to accompany domestic destruction. I tend to worry more about the global destruction Trump’s chaos hides — it seems more likely to get “out-of-control”.

      However, the Naomi Klein link repeats a long held fear of a potential “Reichstag” event — echoing fears of what GW might have made of the 9/11 attacks. I believe the Patriot Act — succeeded by the de facto Patriot Act incarnate in the many sections of our Homeland Security — provides more than enough means for the wrong person to do some very nasty shit with far less pretense than a precipitating national disaster and declaration of martial law. Why use a sledge hammer when mass confusion and fly paper will do?

      But which of Trump or Hillery or Pence is the worse wrong person it remains hard to judge which might make the alarms in my tin helmet chime the loudest. Trump, whom I view as a blow-hard demagogue seems most interested in the charms of lucre and status. The other two players and others not mentioned … not known — acting on motives more complex than than Trump’s greed and lust for fame seem much more dangerous. I do share Klein’s fear that Trump’s chaos might hide something more and as yet occulted.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          ????? Sorry — I’m stumped!

          It sounds like a case of regulation differently applied based on ????? I’m just an old retired guy in the U.S. and France is beyond my hopes for a visit.

      1. b1daly

        The problem with this argument, which I agree has some resonance, is that the President of the US is not the boss of everyone, He/She is but a player, in the complex system that governs our society.

        The biggest problem with Trump, is that he is a detestible man, especially to the very people he has to work with, to accomplish anything! He has managed to create such a chaotic power vacuum in the industrial-politician-military-financial complex, that the system has been put under severe stress, and seems to be on the verge of breaking down.

        In the meantime, some of the worst aspects of this governing elite’s philosophy are running unchecked. The few areas in which Trump has some power he is using to support policies that are the exact opposite of what he promised his motley bands of civilian supporters. (Increase military activity, trade agreements, Paris climate change, deregulation of financial industry)

        To the extant that voters for Trump wanted to delivered a big FU to the “system,” that they thought was not doing enough for them, they succeeded. Unfortunately, the childish impulse to kick the table over when you’re losing the game only results in everyone losing, and a big mess to clean up.

        That’s how I see it.

        I’m not a fan of the whole, “the system is corrupt, let it burn,” concept. Without systems, there is no way for a rich, large, heterodox country, like the US, to function.

        Sure, sometimes revolutions happen, coups, civil wars that end in decisive victories do happen. However, the cost to the society is immense, and on the narrow chance that, after the decades long rebuilding process, a new civil society is constructed, there is only a chance the new system is better than the old.

        Of all the bullshit Trump laid down in his campaign of mendacity, perhaps the most destructive was the notion of “drain the swamp.” Yeah, right. One dude is going to march into a system he doesn’t understand, and cause all of the swamp dwellers to lose their jobs? Never mind that he’s such a disaster, that he can’t even fill the positions he has some control over, because people with administrative competency don’t want to work for him!

        I think there is a part of Trump that is delusional enough to think he can bully powerful people, that aren’t financially dependent on him, and get his way.

        Our POTUS is a doofus, and he’s let all the inmates out to run the asylum.

        I don’t think it’s hard to make the case that even an evangelist degenerate like Mike Pence would be a (slight) improvement.

        I’m not sure there is as much cohesion to Klein’s shock doctrine as she claims. The notion that there is some Machiavellian conspiracy by the “neo-liberal elite ” that cleverly brought Trump into power explicitly to take advantage of the chaos doesn’t ring true to me, even with the tin-foil headgear in place. The most resourceful of these entities are simply rising to the occasion, that being the man made “natural disaster” of the Trump presidency, to do what they do, which is make a killing.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Oh, great. Now the cops will have yet another Gattacatool tracking device at their already vastly intrusive disposal, nominally to “fight crime,” crime being defined as anything that does not comport with the 0.01%’s notion (or the notions of Joe Arpaio and his sort) of what constitutes a well-ordered society.

      The comments to the article are illuminating, also…

      Interesting that the ratchet of oppression always seems to only move in the direction of “tighter…”

    2. Linda

      The thief was additionally helpful by dividing up the trackers and putting some of them in the storage shed with other stolen goods, and keeping some of them with him in the car!

    3. MoiAussie

      Only in countries like the US, where pre-trial death by cop is a significant risk, does being a bungling thief put you in the running for a Darwin award.

  10. leftover

    Re: It would be nice if socialists understood MMT
    There’s more to Socialist scholarship, theory, and understanding of monetary theory in America than the unverified assertions and monolithic maximalism emanating from the WSWS.
    For instance.

  11. funemployed

    “America is no longer a force for stability in the Gulf” No longer? Because Trump forgot there’s a US forward operating base in Qatar that we need in order to keep destabilizing the middle east as hard as we possibly can forever? How do the people who write this nonsense have better jobs than me? They don’t even know what the word “stability” means

    1. JTMcPhee

      “Words mean just exactly what I want them to mean, no more and no less,” said the Caterpillar (or words to that effect…)

    2. John Wright

      Perhaps a prime goal of editorials like this is to make reader feel ” How do the people who write this nonsense have better jobs than me?”

      Tom Friedman has this (very well paid) capability to make the reader feel they can write as well or better.

      Some years ago a Tom Friedman column of 15 Feb 2014 elicited a reader to comment

      Here is a portion of the reader’s comment:

      “Better yet, when with [s.b. will?] the powers that be at The New York Times realize that many of the people who respond to your columns are more creative and insightful than you are? (And can write for less money than you command.)”

      Note, while this comment was top ranked by readers, it was removed from the comments, so you won’t find it in the Times archive.

      I was able to track down the original author, who was/is? a small town journalist in the NYC area. She did not believe (want to believe?) the Times would delete her comment intentionally.

      I saw the comment as one that opened the curtain too much on the Times editorial process, so it had to be quashed.

      Trump needs to get with the program, Middle East stability is when the USA sells/gives weapons to all currently approved players and if one misbehaves, invades in an attempt to get them back in line.

      It is an oil to weapons/weapons to oil conversion program.

      1. funemployed

        Interesting. I’ve had a few very polite and not very controversial (IMO – cause facts) comments deleted/rejected by NYT. Also, when I attempted to cancel my online subscription, I was forced to call, during the day, not on a weekend (I set it up with a click), talk to a person, be put on hold, then have the exact same conversation with another person.

        As for the great moustache, I’ll admit I have a soft spot. His over the top silliness (and the many wonderful internet jokes about it) has delighted me more than any other opinionator out there. I mean, the man won this (not for children) contest without even trying. He’s kind of a genius in an Inspector Clusoe sort of way.

        1. John Wright

          Here is some advice I gave earlier.

          When I cancelled my NYTimes digital subscription, the Times webpage with my CC information would not let me delete my credit card information.

          Putting in bad credit card information would not work, changing the expiration date didn’t work.

          But I had a zero balance debit card that had not expired and I entered that number.

          The Times web-form was happy with that number.

          Times, try and get blood out of that turnip…

          Maybe this is a way to effectively cancel the Times, on line 24/7, without the requirement to talk with a person.

          1. John k

            Sometimes the bank loans you money, of course with a stiff fee, to cover your debit card overdraft.
            But cancelling the card the times is using should be safe.
            Must be getting worse, I cancelled a decade ago, no problem then.

            1. John Wright

              This was not a debit card attached to my bank account.

              An unexpired, but empty, rebate debit card from Staples should also work

        2. Roger Bigod

          In response to two separate Times pieces with rapturous praise of Milton Friedman and U of Chicago economics, I pointed out that the Chicago School’s most memorable and tangible accomplishment was a pile of bodies in a soccer stadium. As expected, they didn’t let my comments appear.

        3. Anonymous

          We cancelled our home delivery subscription and it was not easy. I was put on hold for over 10 mins. Then got a person who immediately put me on another hold. Came back on line and wanted to know the reason for cancelling (reasonable enough request). I told them we were tired of paying for their propaganda. The clerk re-phrased that as “content.” I was put on a 5 minute or so hold. Then she came back and confirmed the subscription was cancelled. Not easy.

          PS: Friedman is notorious for his column calling for the US to support ISIS in Syria. Unconscionable.

  12. dk

    Russian malware communicates by leaving comments in Britney Spears’s Instagram account Boing Boing

    Article fails to mention that posting encoded instructions to a bot on a generally accessible (nominally “public”) site is not a new technique. The method of passing control information to processes via IRC (internet relay chat) posts has been widely used since the early ’80 if not before. It has historically been the primary method for botnet control.

    By presenting these kinds of activity as novel, journalists further alienate the public from the world they’re living in, and have been living in for decades.

  13. Marco

    Rethinking differences between US and British politics and the Tory “dementia tax” debacle as the pivot for Labour’s resurgence. Republicans (and Neolib / Democrats) propose horribly unpopular measures all the time and seem to survive. I’m just surprised how the entire Brit media establishment turned on May in way that could never happen here.

    1. John k

      Doesn’t happen here because dems don’t really dislike most rep policies, so don’t make a stink about it.

  14. Bugs Bunny

    “With opioid epidemic raging, calls grow for cheaper access to heroin overdose-reversing drug Los Angeles Times. Moar Band-Aids!”

    Is “access” on Lambert’s list of neolib weasel words? Every time I hear it I cringe.

    Access to health care, access to housing, access to the courts, access to decent food… It’s all about gatekeepers and tolls.

  15. Bandit

    Concerning the comment that “many liberals openly express the view that working class people deserve to die.”

    The recurring theme through most of the comments is that the “deplorables” or white working class deserve a dose of their own medicine that they applied to minorities of color. And there is certainly a grain of truth in that. It is a sad but heartless commentary about the white working class now being the victims of their own prejudicial device. Now, I wonder how this may apply to the liberal Democrats who supported a corrupt Clinton and blocked every opportunity to vote for Sanders. Unfortunately, as yet there are no signs of them dying off in unprecedented numbers.

    1. kurtismayfield

      The whole “working class deserve this fate because of their votes” assumes that a viable alternative was presented to them. For forty years it has been “Republican” or “Republican-lite”, with the Republican-lite adopting the policies that the Republicans advocated for thirty years earlier (see Obamacare vs. S.1936). TINA is not a reason for come uppetance.

    2. ginnie nyc

      Why do you assume that the white working class, in its entirety, is possessed of “prejudicial device”, an obscure way of saying they’re all a bunch of racists? Where is the proof of your glib assertion?

      I’m just really fed up with the whole lying trope.

  16. craazyboy

    Here we go! Wapo hits it outta da park!

    This is I believe the pinnacle of Peak Propaganda writing.

    Great example of soft Prop Porn.

    Get that student loan, off to Yale or Columbia for that neolib arts degree, and maybe you too can get a unpaid intern job writing stuff like this. Caveat – you may have to set you sights low for the first ten years or so and write cat food and loan product ads.

  17. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: The sad spectacle of Hillary Clinton’s slow-motion breakdown McClatchy

    There’s no end in sight either for such self-imposed scab-picking; Clinton has not one but two books coming out this fall that will put her on stage after stage across the country with obsequious hosts feeding the Clinton ego with continuous curiosity about her thoughts and doings. Oh, and how in the world could Donald Trump have won?

    At some point you’d think a remorseless Clinton might run out of people, countries and conspiracies to blame for that historic upset in November. It was truly a devastating loss, perhaps the most shocking since Tom Dewey’s unanticipated flop in 1948. It’s understandable, if ominous, that the wannabe commander-in-chief was shattered and unable to appear election night.

    “Self-imposed scab-picking.” What a perfectly apt use of rhetorical imagery. The rest of the article is similarly accurate and relentlessly on point.

    But the real headscratcher is the caption under the accompanying photo:

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at a fundraiser for the Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel in Baltimore, Monday, June 5, 2017.

    As if Baltimore doesn’t have more pressing problems requiring elijah cummings’ attention. And hrc’s too, for that matter.

    1. craazyboy

      The two books is a head scratcher. The rest I got figured out.

      I guess you hafta call one book, “Left: What I Tell The Public – My Dreams And Accomplishments”

      The udder must be, “Right: What My Confidents Speak About With Me”

      I guess you sell them as a matched set, and Chelsea fakes her Mom’s signature for a few extra bucks?

      1. John Wright

        Maybe HRC’s efforts will actually result in four books with differing content.

        The text of HRC’s hardback “Hard Choices” was “edited” for the paperback edition as material was deleted (related to Honduras as I recall).

        Perhaps the same will happen for these books, so a true HRC fan may need to collect the two hardback and two paperback editions.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Besides the corruption of the Third Way, Third Way politcos are obsessed with mythical marginal voters, believing a few key ethnic groups can swing an election through an ethnic appeal. In this particular case, older Jews who the Third Way perceives as growing right wing as they age (no evidence of this; its more likely lefty Jews stopped voting for the Clinton or non voting right wing Jews from NY moved to Florida and became voters) are up there with suburban soccer moms who desperately want to see gang members and potential gang members imprisoned. Clintonistas picked Lieberman as Gore’s VP due to their views on how to win elections which is find an identity group they think they can swing and devote their campaign to them. If they can get a few Jewish Republicans by running on an issue most people don’t care about, they will be getting two votes because they will denying the GOP a vote. It’s a great plan if it works. It’s like beating a divisional rival in baseball. It’s like two wins!

      By making an identity based appeal, they aren’t ticking off potential donors who don’t care that much about social identity. I believe it worked in Arkansas for the Clinton with the two year cycle and lack of video based media. Bill could talk to the Moral Majority local and then talk to the ACLU with no one the wiser about what he said beyond the word of people who went.

      The result is you see someone with the standing of Hillary Clinton attending a goofy little program far away from where she lives (it would be different if it was local) because it’s all about the marginal ID voter and TINA for everyone else in 3rd Way Land.

      “Moderates who voted for Mittens” is an example. A moderate Republican is the kind of person who believes “pray the gay away” camp will fix their kid. The out of touch Clinton campaign was devoted largely to winning this voter and relying on TINA for everyone else.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          (language warning in the link…about time somebody got passionate about this however IMHO)

    3. s.n.

      As if Baltimore doesn’t have more pressing problems requiring elijah cummings’ attention.

      i’m sure that amply lining his pockets as befits any Friend of Israel providing so audacious a propaganda figleaf in this age of BDS and what have you is the number one top priority of Representative Cummings. And Hillary.

  18. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: The Phony War Against Donald Trump The National Interest

    Among media and political professionals, it’s taken for granted that there are informal rules—“norms”—that prevent too much politicization of police and intelligence agencies, even though the norms are not perfect. Even when politicization obviously does occur, as in the way intelligence was abused to concoct the case for the Iraq War, the pretense of sobriety and objectivity has to be maintained. Trump does not maintain that pretense, which is one reason why Washington’s political and media class united against him. He tears away the veil, and by doing crudely what other leaders do subtly, he shows how the machinery of executive government really works.

    And that, my friends, is the real “high crimes and misdemeanors” for which impeachment is the only appropriate punishment.

    Not to mention “tearing away the veil” is further indication of Trump’s rabid anti-muslim bias.

    1. ambrit

      “Tearing away the veil” could also be a subtle dog whistle to the evangelicals; ie. the “Veil of the Temple.” Your true believer Nazorites would consider it a blasphemy to equate the POTUS with the “Passion” of the Lord, but, politics has always been an art halfway between Iconography and Kitsch.

        1. ambrit

          Yaay! The dog, Toto in the film, and Trump have the same hairstyle! Who says history, real or imagined, doesn’t show clear Developmental Templates?
          See, where the “original” DT had a pretty and young female partner too! :

    2. sleepy

      The National Interest article is the best summary and analysis of the Comey matter I’ve read.

  19. tommy strange

    FYI: Yes most left socialists and anarchists, that are delving into capitalist econ history/theory, do agree with the basics of MMT, just don’t use the term. I have no problem with you doing links to the WSWS (love your variety!) but that is from the ICFI, all Trots! So their hideous anti democratic top down vanguard ism clouds their views about, well, just about anything, except well meaning care for the ‘workers’. Of thirty years of reading anarchist and LEFT marxists (council communists, libertarian socialists, etc) I have never read anyone from the somewhat educated working class/middle class left claim that capitalist democracies can ‘only spend’ depending on what taxes are brought it. The majority of my FB friends are real left, and the only heavy econ articles I see posted, are to Michael Hudson, NC, even Keynes memes sometimes..etc. It’s been generally understood that governments can make up all the money they want, but the majority will go to a police state, imperialism, and war…from Bakunin to Kropotkin up to present Graeber of course this is pretty much always been understood. I also have many friends from the sander’s camp, that ‘wish’ for a real left, and understand that capitalism itself has to be done away with, but for now, are holding out for immediate hope. From the beginning I’ve never seen ‘these’ people post Krugman articles. In fact many of them are well aware that ‘somehow’ the Fed was able to come up with trillions of hot money after 2008. Probably due much to people like you all…..And since you like counterpunch, I believe, but correct me if I’m wrong, for over 20 years they have had only a couple of people that ever worry about a government debt, but more how that new money is actually spent. Case in the point: Most of the criticism even about FDR is that he didn’t spend more! For the benefit of all. That only the massive increase of production for ww2 actually resolved the capitalists’ crisis of the depression. And at CP, from the beginning of Clinton term, railed against him for the balance the budget right wing bullshit.

    1. Susan the other

      I’ve wondered about MMT preventing Daddy Warbucks simply because even if the public money were spent on military causes, those causes would have to be cleanly justified and the financial profiteering would/might be eliminated.

      1. John Zelnicker

        @Susan the other – MMT can’t really prevent Daddy Warbucks. That task is, for better or worse, the responsibility of an enlightened citizenry electing enlightened politicians. Yes, perhaps that’s an oxymoron at present. But I don’t think we are going to get broad acceptance of the descriptive part of MMT (mechanics of our monetary system), much less the prescriptive part (JG), without enlightened citizens electing their enlightened compatriots.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The more citizens are enlightened, the more empowered they are or we are.

          And there are new citizens born, reaching the voting age or naturalized every day.

          So, the job is never done.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        We have to be eternally vigilant.

        Sometimes, or perhaps, often, public money is spent on adventures and with effective propaganda (funded also by MMT), they don’t have to be justified.

        As with all things, the more powerful the tool, (MMT in this case), the greater the damage when control (of the government, in this case) is captured.

  20. s.n.

    the mcclatchy The sad spectacle of Hillary Clinton’s slow-motion breakdown features her photo as she “speaks at a fundraiser for the Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel” a few days ago.
    Have to admit that I’d never heard of that one before, and after a few moments wasted googling, conclude that it sounds like a very clintonian sort of hustle.
    The full flavour of hillary’s vacuous speech there can be savoured at

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Clinton supports recycling:

      “There are so many ways for us to reach out, bring people together, set common goals and work toward achieving them, to help build that brighter future for generations to come and, yes, for building leaders by building bridges, not walls.”

      Firesign Theatre:

      I, as leader, will use power like a drum, and leadership like a violin. Take out any idea. Compare ideas, with the one idea left we are left you have no doubt and without a doubt we have enthusiasm! Gentlemen, gentlemen, please, gentlemen – to make life whole, it’s as easy as a bridge! Now, now, gentle- gentlemen, now that we have obtained control we must pull together as one – like a twin! Keeping the prophecy of power as enthusiasm! All for one!

      So is Medicare for All a wall, or a bridge?

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I like to compare such statements as Clinton’s support for recycling to the speech by Major Cole [Bill Murray] in the relatively little known kids movie “City of Ember”.

        “Mayor Cole: These are trying and troubled times. Our problems are grave. We need answers, but beyond answers, more important than answers, we need solutions. And in order to find those solutions, I propose we launch a thorough investigation.
        [Many members of the small crowd nod and say “Yes.”]
        Mayor Cole: I hereby declare the creation of a Task Force to Investigate the Blackouts.
        [the crowd claps. Lina looks cynical]
        Mayor Cole: Do I have volunteers?
        [Several hands rise into the air. Cole looks gratified]
        Mayor Cole: [grandiosely] Today, we, the people, stand united against the darkness!”

        We just need a Task Force to study the problem of Medicare for All.

        1. ambrit

          Good film, I have it on disc and enjoy Murray as the “heavy.” Murray does quirky roles with little or no fanfare.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            I too have the film on disk and I’ve watched it too many times to count. I am glad I’m not alone in enjoying Ember. Murray is a much under-appreciated actor.

            And I very much admire the acting of Saoirse Ronan.

            1. ambrit

              Try “The Island of Lost Children” if you liked “Ember.” Similar sensibilities, and a European style of presentation. The closest American films I can think of on short notice are “Popeye,” “Invaders From Mars” and perhaps “The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T.” “The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao” came close.

      2. Gaianne

        . . . . and all for one!

        Let me hear it for me!

        You’re under arrest! . . .

        ; )


  21. David Carl Grimes

    Regarding the Vanity Fair article on Hillary, Thomas Frank makes a valid point. Al Gore sort of disappeared after his loss to Bush II for a while. But he made a lot of money – around $200 million from media deals plus board membership in Apple. Why can’t the Clintons follow the same model. Maybe Obama will follow in Gore’s footsteps or maybe not. Obama just bought a house in DC for $8M, which indicates that he might stay in DC longer than the two years it will take for his second daughter to finish high school.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Gore sold a product at the end of the day (green sheen). The Clintons sold future access to the White House. Bill had to serve as Epstein’s wing man until Kerry lost at which point Hillary became viable as a candidate. Long term, I’m not sure what Obama will sell. I don’t believe he is as marketable as Gore. Obama has never been on the right side except the political right of any issue. Gore unlike Hillary had an election stolen by “moderate” Republicans such as Jeb Bush. Hillary has lost twice to completely vacuous opponents and almost lost to an old, bald man from Vermont despite a loyal establishment.

      The Clintons can sell nursing homes I suppose, but even then, the people shopping for nursing homes are comfortable with established brands. Bill is too old to become a wing man again.

      If Hillary leaves, the Clinton dynasty ends. Chelsea isn’t Jack Jr or Caroline by any stretch. Since the Clinton lacks any shred of character, they can’t reinvent themselves like Carter through hard work. I believe the decline of the Democratic Party under Obama’s watch is a killer for his future prospects. Despite the promise of a demographic wave, Obama led the Dems to a place where Donald Trump is President despite a billion dollars to waste.

      Obama might stay in DC, but to maintain relevance, he will have to work hard. Obama like many politicos excels at the fun parts of the job, but Michelle probably isn’t running for office. He doesn’t have a generation of politicos to oversee. The youth have moved on. Obama for all his popularity produced a nominating contest between Hillary and Sanders, who are both inherently anti-Obama candidates, one on personality, one on substance.

      1. fresno dan

        June 11, 2017 at 11:57 am

        “Chelsea isn’t Jack Jr or Caroline by any stretch”
        NTG – Dude, that is cold….true…..but kinda like saying a orangutan is no baboon….

  22. Jim Haygood

    If you can’t be a Tech Lord, be a Bond King:

    The best returns are not in the riskiest stocks but in the least risky bonds. But you can’t get them without leverage. That philosophy helped Asgard Fixed Income Fund deliver a 19 percent return in the past year.

    The 600 million-euro ($670 million) fund bets on yield spreads, country spreads and money market spreads in the European fixed income markets. To offset the interest rate risk the fund hedges the bonds with derivatives and is only exposed to the spread.

    The spread is usually small so the fund must borrow money to boost the return. Current leverage is about 11 times and has been as high as 25 times, according to [its investment adviser Morten] Mathiesen. The volatility target is about 6 percent.

    “We’ve been successful in providing alpha,” or excess returns, he said. “We’ve produced a higher risk-adjusted return than what the carry should justify in the positions we hold.”

    Mirabile dictu, as Yves Smith is wont to say … it’s like alchemy or something. Fat, junk-bond sows-ear returns from triple-A silk purse credits.

    Why does this remind one of Long Term Capital Management? If you’re betting on spread compression at 11X leverage and one night a big bank blows up without warning, you dead.

    All the folks in heaven know it’s true
    I got diamonds, baby, for no one but you
    I got houses ‘cross the country from end to end
    Every woman I know wants me to be her friend
    I got riches, baby, near and far
    If you come to my house, honey, you can just smoke my cigar

    — Rev Solomon Burke, Ain’t Got You

    1. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      June 11, 2017 at 10:46 am

      It looks like a no lose proposition for them – they get the profits and the public gets the bail out expenses…..

    2. Alex Morfesis

      LTCM ist verboten to be discussed mit out das propers kleeranz ast das off book privat funding oft operatziones by das miracle und tax free shorting oft das krash(und oder krasht) ist only das spoken in das privat sessiones uft das “con-greasing you” komite…

      Das ulmost ast baad ast der discuzione uft dem bcci und das BNL

  23. Pat

    You’ll be happy to know that Lindsay Graham was on Face the Nation this morning saying that the Russians are guilty guilty GUILTY and no one should deny it. Oh, and Trump is innocent, and no one should pursue it.
    BTW he says that Congress is going to push forward with punishing Russia, this after listing a whole raft of “crimes”, a list that easily could apply to the US.

    He did advise the President to STFU, although more politely.

    I have to admit I had my doubts about Trump’s guilt, but considering that Lindsay is an opposing weather vane (as in consistently pointing in the wrong direction), I might have to rethink that.

    1. fresno dan

      June 11, 2017 at 10:47 am

      “Lindsay Graham was on Face the Nation this morning saying that the Russians are guilty guilty GUILTY”

      Oh yeah, all the people in the US congress guilty of cognitive dissonance. Man, these people deserve each other….

      1. polecat

        So Lindsay ‘The Mouth’ Graham continues to spew sh!tty swamp water at the veiwers ….

  24. Pat

    I should add that Lindsay wants to take the 10% of the American population who are ‘driving medical costs’ and put them in a government managed care program and let the private business model work for the rest of Americans.

    Wow ACA wasn’t enough of a bail out…

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      “take the 10% …”

      Ugh, thinking of the PeeWee’s Playhouse references yesterday, maybe the Internetz need to spend the second week of each month on “The Way Things Work: This Week’s Word is “INSURANCE.”” Graham doesn’t have to stop being an edge-hawk, he just needs to demonstrate the most passing understanding of what “Insurance Pool” means. You can still be a Libertarian, but you’re being a Vogon if you don’t understand that ‘market driven vaccination’ is right up there with ‘goats blood on a brush’ for clinical effectiveness. You can still be GWD, but if your assumptions include secret volcanoes and people pumping up oil and just forgetting where they put it, maybe you should investigate those assumptions a little bit more. ‘Cause that would in fact be very interesting.

      tl;dr, the internet’s epitaph is going to be:

      Step 2: ???

  25. nothing but the truth

    “British Airways Flight Outage: Engineer Pulled Wrong Plug ”

    you aint seen nothin yet.

    wait till it goes all “AI, machine learnt and Cognitive”.

    We are in a “talkingheadocracy”. No one dare challenge the narrative being put out by the MSM for fear of “not being a team player, Luddite, etc”.

    The road we are going down is very dangerous, not only technologically but also sociopolitically.

    The people who make the decisions will always be bailed out. And they are making all the decisions only to benefit themselves and ruin all others.

    So the destruction of society is guaranteed.

  26. David

    Turnout in the French elections at 1700 CEST was only just over 40%, against 48% in 2012. Not unexpected, but it looks like the Abstention party will win the first round.

  27. Susan the other

    It pains me to see McMaster orchestrate what looks to be a quagmire. But some very strange things are going on in the ME. I assume it is critically unstable these days. Probably thanks to us.

  28. fresno dan

    All the other Batmen should go to Adam West’s funeral, like when a former president dies.

    When I was recently in the hospital, there was a very sad case of a young man who I struck up a conversation with (23 or 24 who looked like a young Latino Gregory Peck) who had been there for 7 months (apparently his relatives were less than attentive) from an injury suffered in an automobile accident. Anyway he had his own room and it was labeled the “Bat Cave” as Batman was his favorite super hero – he was not mentally diminished – he just couldn’t stand and could only speak slowly – but he put forward a pretty compelling argument why batman is the best super hero (all the others are dependent on their super powers).
    We both agreed that Michael Keaton was actually the best Batman and he thought Ben Affleck the worst, but I thought George Clooney was the worst….

    However, I would concede that the Lego Batman is now the best Batman….

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Affleck had to carry Captain Boring and participate in the most inorganic team up since Kirk and Picard came back from Heaven to beat up a scientist (or at least as poorly orchestrated). “Our mothers have the same name and we are character owned by the same parent company. Lets be friends after almost killing you with a magic rock!”

      Much of the good will towards Wonder Woman is a result of her not sharing screen time with Captain Boring who has no sense of fun.

  29. Carey

    Nothing but the Truth at 10:56 am: Agreed on all counts. This can’t last long. On the other hand, I think I said that around 1981…

  30. DJG

    Is the lemon the main cause of the rise of the Mafia?

    Well, not likely. The economic history of Sicily is too complicated.

    I was tipped off to some fudging when the authors wrote that the lemon was introduced to Sicily in the eleventh century. I consulted Mary Taylor Simeti’s great culinary history and recipe book, Pomp and Sustenance. She hints that it was earlier, using primary sources. Denis Mack Smith puts the Norman invasion of Sicily at 1071. Was the lemon a parting gift of the Arabs? (And, yes, Sicily had its own Normans.) So a minor misstep by those authors, but it may be telling.

    The mafia clans have been around for a while. And one of the causes is no mystery: Sicily has a long history of bad governance. After the Sicilian Vespers, when the Catalan king was called in, there was good Catalan-style government for a while. But that was the last effective government. After that, you had the Bourbons for four hundred years. Simeti remarks on the sheer numbers of people who claimed to be noble: You had a big, parasitic upper class that required enforcers for their dubious claims on the land—and for tax collection, because the nobles didn’t pay taxes.

    Further, the mafia operates in parts of Sicily that aren’t devoted to lemon production. In fact, citrus fruits in Sicily have caused problems of overproduction. Simeti reproduces a long anecdote from Elio Vittorini’s Conversations in Sicily, in which he describes Sicilian peasants trying to sell oranges unsuccessfully and ending up eating meals of oranges. And these were oranges that were only a step up from those used to polish silver, as Vittorini remarks.

    The mafia is active in the almond region in the south of Sicily. It is also active in the wheat regions in the center of the island, and wheat is the historic mainstay of Sicily, not citrus. The Leopard by Tomasi di Lampedusa, set in the wheat country, hints at mafia influence. Tomasi di Lampedusa also has a good eye for the financial incompetence of the nobility, which made them easy prey for the rising new class of exploiters.

    So lemons as the source of Sicily’s main problem, which is an undercurrent of criminality? Maybe not. The eastern part of the island, which has a better record of economic development, has less of a problem with the mafia. But Catania has problems with organized crime even still.

    And on a personal, genomic note: Simeti claims that people of Sicilian descent can eat lemons, whereas non-Sicilians can’t just take slice of lemon and chomp on it. I have inherited the lemon-eating gene, via my maternal grandparents. But that doesn’t make me a mafioso either.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      “… because the nobles didn’t pay taxes.”

      Wait! That sounds very familiar. Maybe “trickle down” — not lemons — lead to the Mafia.

  31. dcblogger

    Emails Expose How Saudi Arabia and UAE Work the U.S. Media to Push for War
    The UAE’s man in Washington enjoys a cozy relationship with a top Beltway pundit.
    Yousef al-Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the United States, applauded journalist David Ignatius for his writing on Saudi Arabia. Ignatius is notorious for fawning coverage of the kingdom, promoting its supposed efforts at reform and taking its line on regional conflicts without a shred of skepticism.

  32. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    British Airways Flight Outage: Engineer Pulled Wrong Plug Bloomberg. That’s the headline. From the text: “[T]he issue remains of how a single technician could cause so much disruption, and why the airline’s backup systems failed.” So why isn’t the headline: “British Airways Executives SIgn Off on Broken IT System”?

    We’re lucky that…so far…it’s not ‘British Airways customers picked a wrong airlines.’

    But how long will ‘The customer is always right’ last?

    “He should have given up his seat willingly and promptly.”

  33. XXYY

    “British Airways pointed to human error as the cause for mass flight cancellations that grounded at least 75,000 passengers last month. An engineer had disconnected a power supply at a data center near London’s Heathrow airport, causing a surge that resulted in major damage when it was reconnected. … Still, the issue remains how a single technician could cause so much disruption, and why the airline’s backup systems failed.”

    I find it incredibly easy to believe that something like this could “cause so much disruption.” There seems to be a popular idea that complex, highly interconnected systems should by default fail gracefully and predictably when something unexpected happens. In fact, of course, graceful and predictable failures in such systems are likely only when good failure handling has been carefully designed in to the system and rigorously tested over and over. This is not unheard of, but is unusual; usually, other considerations, like making more money, take precedence with the result that key systems are brittle and prone to fail unpredictably.

    The writer’s hypothetical “backup systems,” even if they exist, are no panacea. Backup systems of course make the overall system even *more* complex and interconnected and can fail themselves; the ability to fail over cleanly from a primary system to a backup is a huge engineering effort in its own right and requires a lot of assumptions about the failures that are likely to occur (e.g., the Fukushima reactors’ backup power system, which was needed to keep the plants from melting down, assumed the ground floor of the reactor buildings would not be flooded by salt water); graceful failure handling also requires periodic testing and drilling which are expensive and are themselves risky to the whole system and are therefore tempting to skip or postpone.

    The famous sociologist Charles Perrow hypothesized that serious accidents in complex systems are unavoidable (“normal”) beyond a certain point, the only remedies being to revert to simpler systems or avoid the problematic technologies altogether.

  34. ocop

    Per my wife, our neighbor’s teenage daughter had added a Bernie “birdie” bumper sticker to her car recently, and was subsequently harassed into removing it by the trump-supporting peers at the local (wealthy, “academically prestigious”) high school.

    During the election I had my Bernie magnet stolen off of my car when left at the airport for a week–albeit during the DNC so political leanings of the perpetrators are not quite as immediately evident. I prefer to assume Clintonistas since there had been no trouble prior to the DNC or after acquiring a replacement. .

    Not sure how meaningful either of these observations are (kids in general are terrible, East TN* is not particularly welcoming of lefties) but these seem like odd on-the-ground observation about the state of our politics. I assume this is nothing new to people who use Facebook, but I’ve abstained from social media for going on a decade now.

    *Ironies abound given our quite explicitly socialist approach to generating electricity.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Thanks for the warning. I think I will go out and pull the Bernie magnets off my cars and move them to the fridge for a while for safe-keeping.

      1. different clue

        Why not put on some rubber gloves and then harvest a bunch of poison ivy leaves? Then dissolve the oil off the leaves and put some of it on your bernie magnets.

  35. EGrise

    Re: “What It’s Really Like When People Shout At You All Day”

    I’m pretty sympathetic to most of the stories related in the article, but the Foreclosure Agent? [Family blog] that guy.

    The repo men I’ve known understood perfectly well what they were doing, and while it is (I suppose) a necessary job they were under no illusions as to what they were up to, or how people viewed their actions. This guy is a repo agent for homes – he doesn’t get to be upset when people yell at him for taking their homes, much less hide behind his faith to justify his actions. If you’re going to do an unpopular job, expect to be unpopular (no matter how well you think you treat the homeowners), or find another line of work.

  36. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    ‘Dereliction Of Duty’ Author Urges Escalation Of Unwinnable, Never-Ending War Duffel Blog (BC). BC: “You know all the wheels have fallen off the wagon when the only consistent source of insight is from the satirists.”

    Sometimes you escalate and sometimes you don’t?

    Lincoln wanted someone who would fight…escalate, I suppose…and he got Sherman.

        1. Alex Morfesis

          Jimmy hoffa ?? Growing up, racing down (or up) riverside drive to avoid west side highway back ups, that mess we know as grants tomb had been allowed to sit fallow and who could have imagined at a young age what it was, sitting in the middle of a little speedway with no real safe way to get to it and nothing to suggest it was what it was…a perfect symbol of how easy it is to bury history…

  37. Toolate

    100 best ways to fight global warming is conspicuously missing something:
    Shrink the military!

    Surely that would top the list?

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Excellent catch!

      I was surprised by how little the list could offer — but very pleasantly surprised by the absence of geoengineering solutions — “space mirrors” or their like. Many of the measures seemed truly oriented toward “improving humanity” — to which I would add improving the world. Grasping at an old formula: could we claim we leave the world a better place than the world we were born to?

      1. MoiAussie

        I cringe when I see rankings like this, with little mention of assumptions, and no consideration of uncertainties and interactions. Click through to the actual table on the book website, and you find items expressed like this

        10 Rooftop Solar Energy 24.60GT $453.14B $3,457.63B

        The idea that you can quantify the future costs and benefits of a mediation to 5 or 6 significant figures is quite ludicrous, but economic modellers do this routinely, coz excel.
        What it should say is something like:

        10 Rooftop Solar Energy 25±9GT $450±200B $3.5±1.5T

        and be accompanied by an extensive footnote explaining why it’s a reasonable guess.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I’ve been working my way through the book (I’d recommend it, there is an enormous amount of interesting stuff in it). You are quite right that such precision is suspicious, but they seem to have tried to just use a standardised method of assessment using available data to ensure a fair comparison, and this system spits out figure like this. But the overall text is fine, it acknowledges all the uncertainties, although annoyingly doesn’t say much about the second level impacts or interactions between proposed solutions, probably because thats just too complex to deal with in just one study.

  38. petrel

    From the LA Times: “The British election is a reminder of the perils of too much democracy”

    “Beneath Corbyn’s avuncular exterior lies an extremist, one who, from the very beginning of his political career, has expressed alarming sympathy for his country’s enemies, from the fascist Argentinian junta to the Irish Republican Army to Vladimir Putin’s Russia. That this man today has even a chance of becoming prime minister of the world’s fifth largest military power is clearly traceable to two instances of democratic overzealousness: the opening of the Labor leadership race to every Tom, Dick and Harry, as well as May’s unnecessary and opportunistic decision to call a snap election. Like Cameron’s Brexit referendum, which was disguised as serving the national interest even though its origins lay in partisan politics, May’s desire for a “mandate” from “the people” will have chaotic consequences.”

    Sounds very Straussian. The elite need you merely to rubber stamp the choices they have otherwise made; beyond that they have no use for you.

    1. MoiAussie

      Sheesh, what a hit piece. An op-ed from the loathsome Yale graduate and “Useful Idiot of the Right” Kirchick, who advocated the death penalty for Chelsea Manning. Works for Kagan at the Foreign Policy Initiative think tank, so what do you expect.

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        Kagan’s father the historian either has a lopsided take on history or didn’t teach his son very much. Daddy is a big fan of Classical Greece…Democracy was a big thing although limited, hoplites who fought for their country got rights, citizens had a stake, you could ostracise the likes of Kagan. etc I imagine they see themselves as inheritors of that tradition, but perhaps the mirror truly reflects the bloated over extended Persian Empire of Xerxes.

        The Spartan general Pausanius after winning the battle of Plataea upon discovering the huge feast & riches in the Persian leaders tent, prepared for certain victory… the effect of ” What kind of imperialist dogs would come here to rob us of our poverty ? “.

  39. Alex Morfesis

    Can we blame wall street on the mafia and lemons…extortion, extraction, regulators and rentiers colluding, revolving door, groups working together to keep the uninvited and unwashed from participating, using politicians to attack potential competition…

    the Palermo institute of advanced business science at new haven…

    Olde pyrates yes they rob I…
    sold I to the merchant ship..
    Minutes After they took I…

  40. David

    First estimates from the exit polls, Macron and co have done well as expected (32%) traditional Right badly dented (21%); National Front and Mélenchon’s people at 14% each, and the poor Socialists on 10%. Very optimistic scenarios being painted of an absolute majority in the second round for Macron, but that is some way off.

  41. Jess

    Re: UK voters want single market access and immigration controls, poll finds Guardian (RS). “I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it (you can’t have it).”

    The headline is exactly what I referred to yesterday in my questioning comment on how Corbyn arranges a soft Brexit which keeps market access but eliminates the free flow of immigrants. Seems that will be a nice trick if he can pull it off, especially in light of this from the article:

    EU leaders have repeatedly said freedom of movement is inseparable from the other aspects of single market membership. Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister and Eurogroup president, has said that by suggesting Britain could achieve both things, Johnson was promising the public a deal that was “intellectually impossible” and “politically unavailable”.

    1. Anonymous2

      Why would that stop Johnson promising it? This is a man who has been sacked twice for lying.

    2. Grebo

      Since Corbyn didn’t actually win the question of how he arranges Brexit is entirely hypothetical.
      Dijsselbloem is right, given the current institutional setup. So, hypothetically, a solution to the conundrum requires a change in the institutional setup. If I was King for a day I would present the required changes to the EU with the suggestion that if they were adopted I would have grounds to call another referendum which I would likely win. So the EU would be saved with the UK still in.
      Would Germany go for it? Absolutely not.

    3. Spring Texan

      But Corbyn has NEVER been anti-immigrant, so doubt he really wants to stop it. Which is fine.

  42. David

    Participation in the French elections is less than 50% according to unofficial figures. Very bad news, and at least as bad as expected. Fairly consistent pattern where Macron’s gang lead with about 30%of the vote.

    1. Sputnik Sweetheart

      The Figaro has a graph showing that participation rates in legislative elections have been steadily declining from 1993 onwards (where they used to be at 69%):

      In this legislative election, the young were the least likely to vote (abstention at 64%) as well as white-collar (61%) and blue-collar workers (66%). On the other hand, more than half of people in middle management showed up (only 45% abstained).

      38% of people who voted for Macron in the first round abstained, as well as 38% of Fillon’s voters, 43% of Hamon’s voters, 53% of Melenchon’s voters, and 57% of Le Pen’s voters.

    1. allan

      If Ossoff wins, the Dem leadership will say, “We’ve got this covered, hippies”, and double down.

      If Ossoff loses, the Dem leadership will say, “You didn’t clap hard enough”, and double down.

      Heads Blue State Digital wins, tails you lose.

      1. kimsarah

        Heads or tails, the Obama and Clinton Dems have no credibility. They are irrelevant. And their constant babbling, whining and finger-pointing is no longer amusing, it has become annoying.

        1. different clue

          It seems like the Democratic Party is forcing us into a binary choice . . .

          Either we bernie it up, or we burn it down.

    2. Vatch

      From the article:

      Yet the party’s elected leaders, and many of its candidates, are far more dispassionate, sharing a cold-eyed recognition of the need to scrounge for votes in forbidding precincts.

      The Democratic party did nothing to scrounge for votes on behalf of James Thompson in the forbidding precincts of the Wichita, Kansas, region. Until the final 24 hours, they did nothing, and they spent nothing. In those final 24 hours, they did some phone banking. Whoop-tee-doo! Compare that to the millions that they have spent in Georgia. None of this was mentioned in the article.

      The article also did not mention that in the Montana Quist campaign, where the Democratic party did spend a decent amount of money, they only spent the money in the final weeks of the campaign, after many Montanans had already voted by mail. In both Kansas and Montana, the national Democratic party explicitly tried to lose, and they succeeded in losing both campaigns. Well done, Tom Perez of the DNC!

  43. Plenue

    >Putin Pop: A Guide to Russia’s Most Patriotic Music Genre

    While these are indeed cringeworthy, it should be noted that there were not one but two films about Obama while he was still president. Oddly, neither one focused on his being an empty, backstabbing narcissist.

  44. ewmayer

    o “Physicists review three experiments that hint at a phenomenon beyond the Standard Model of particle physics” — Yah, been there, seen that; see [phys dot org/news/2016-10-universe-rateor dot html] and [
    www dot wired dot com/2016/08/sorry-folks-lhc-didnt-find-new-particle] for some notable recent examples of similar hugely-hyped-headlines (and even a Nobel Prize in the first case) which were followed by later “hmmm…” or even outright retraction. Here’s how to spot such take-with-huge-grain-of-salt announcements: “experiments hint at” is the science equivalent of a WaPo-style “unnamed officials said” verbiage in identifying an establishment propaganda piece.

    o “America is no longer a force for stability in the Gulf The Eclownomist.” — LOL, “no longer”. “How long have you been beating your wife, sir?”

    o “Timeline of Qatar-GCC disputes from 1991 to 2017 Al Jazeera” — I still fail to grasp what the open-source Gnu Compiler Collection’s involvement in all this is. (I experienced similar bafflement when reading all the stories the past year about the Internet Movie Database’s ties to Philippine-leadership corruption.) Could someone help me out?

    o “Is Putin Getting What He Wanted With Trump? NYT” — Classic example of an MSM assumes-facts-not-in-evidence headline. Well played, NYT editors!

    o “Profiting off pain: Trump confidant cashed in on housing crisis Reveal News” — Creative attempt to snazz up a headline that, were it honest, would simply read “Trump is an Oligarch, After All.” Cf. the Geoff Epstein Files, and try to find some major East Coast big-money type or elite-pol said serial pedophile hasn’t rubbed elbows with.

    o “Survival of US profitability miracle depends on wages | FT” — As in, keeping them ruthlessly suppressed? Also curiously omits the role of CB-provided endless EZ-Money in said “profitability miracle”.

    o The evidence does not support Macron’s claim that deregulating labor market will boost economy | Real World Economics Review (MT)” — But it will certainly boost the “economies” of Macron’s true constituents, which is the common theme of all such neoliberal proposals.

    1. MoiAussie

      Commiseration on your physics allergy which causes you to massively overreact to any mention of new, in-progress, often uncertain, understandings of our universe. Unfortunately, chronic conditions such as yours have a poor prognosis as no effective cure is known.

      The headline in question Physicists review three experiments that hint at a phenomenon beyond the Standard Model of particle physics is not “hugely-hyped” in any sense whatsoever. Neither is the content of the article, which is written in better than average science-for-the-masses style. Blame the journalist for the Star Trek reference, not the physicists. It is you who have gone unjustifiably over the top in your dismissal of it.

      Experimental physicists actually have a better understanding of uncertainty than any other segment of the human population, actuaries and bookmakers included. They quantify their claims rather carefully, or get shredded for it. If only economists were 1% as rigorous. Let’s see what the article actually claims, and how it is expressed.

      A new review of results from three experiments points to the strong possibility that lepton universality—and perhaps ultimately the Standard Model itself—may have to be revised.

      […] we saw the first significant observation of something beyond the Standard Model at the BaBaR experiment conducted at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory,” Franco Sevilla said. This was significant but not definitive, he added.

      “The tau lepton is key because the electron and the muon have been well measured,” Franco Sevilla explained. “Taus are much harder because they decay very quickly. Now that physicists are able to better study taus, we’re seeing that perhaps lepton universality is not satisfied as the Standard Model claims.”

      While intriguing, the results are not considered sufficient to establish a violation of lepton universality.

      “We’re not sure what confirmation of these results will mean in the long term,” Franco Sevilla said. “First, we need to make sure that they’re true …”

      “strong possibility … may have to be revised … not definitive … perhaps … not considered sufficient to establish … need to make sure that they’re true”. Absolutely no hype here, just carefully qualified reporting of intriguing possibilities.

      For those who care about the actual physics here, a possible explanation for the discrepancies is general relativistic effects, which are not accounted for by the Standard Model. Effective integration of GR with Quantum Mechanics remains a cherished dream.

  45. Altandmain

    More class warfare:

    War on African Farmers

    Under the new law, Tanzanian farmers risk a prison sentence of at least 12 years or a fine of over €205,300, or both, if they sell seeds that are not certified.

    Corporate greed taken to extremes.

    The Atlantic in denial

    They understand that there is a problem and they seem to realize that people have grievances, but they don’t want to acknowledge their part in it.

    South Korean Generation Y

    What you would expect to see in a third world nation, not a modern nation like South Korea. I wonder how many American Gen Yers are in such a predicament.

    Minimum wage increases are fine

    The real world data does not support the neoliberal or right wing assertions.

    Finally …. Sanders is unhappy with the Democrats

    I think that it’s the Democrats who are “irredeemable” – which is ironic, considering Clinton’s deplorables comment.

    1. ewmayer

      Re. South Korean Gen Y – the neoliberal 2-tiering (an ever shrinking % of ‘permanent’ hires vs an ever-expanding horde of short-term low-wage serial temps) of the SK job market is featured in quite a few SKorean contemporary office dramas. See my IMDB user review of one such dramedy on IMDB, and note the shout-out to NC.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I find the plot of that drama quite interesting because I know a few Japanese and Korean women who use the temping system for their own purposes. I was curious about these women (always women, men don’t seem to do this) who spend years travelling and/or studying in Europe and the US, always popping back for half a year so as not to overstay their visas, yet seemingly had no problem getting reasonably paid work back home to top up their bank accounts for the next trip. Most talk about their horror at getting caught into the grind of permanent office life. Its the flip side I suppose of the loss of jobs-for-life.

        1. ewmayer

          Hi, PK – As I noted in my IMDB review, strong element of farce in that series, but perhaps it will offer you some insight into the phenomenon you describe.

          The Korean iffice-drama series I’m currently watching is – at least in English translation – called Radiant Office.

      2. Blennylips

        Thank you for that.

        The first 10 minutes of episode one offered on YT grabbed me. I want more!

        It is online … but “Sorry, this content is not available in your region“.

        Oddly enough, some kind soul is sharing it on a [family blog]-sharing site since 2013. Now, if there were only someone I could pay…

        1. ewmayer

          Just did a quick search on ebay for “korean drama dvd queen of office”, that turns up a DVD set with a buy-it-now price of $16 and free shipping. You can almost always resell these for just-about-what-you-paid-for-them when you’re done watching. Just make sure to check the region code – I have a cheapie $35 all-region-code DVD player which I bought precisely because I enjoy non-US TV series.


  46. Alex Morfesis

    The pieces process continues in Libya and following in the footsteps of Nuremberg death sentences after ww2 not being acted upon, baby Gaddafi is freed…some self proclaimed official group granting him amnesty and just like that…the great game continues…playboy saif is out in the open…

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