Links 6/16/17

The oldest living thing on Earth BBC

On the rise of unproductive entrepreneurs like Travis Kalanick Izabella Kaminska, FT. With a shout-out to Hubert Horan’s article here yesterday.

Google faces big EU fine over search practices FT

Facebook has a solution to all the toxic dross on its site – wait, it’s not AI? The Register

Policing the power of tech giants Axios (Re Silc).

Making Humans a Multi-Planetary Species Elon Musk, New Space. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are why the aliens quarantined the Solar System in the first place.

Ominous signs for states as revenue targets missed The Hill

The mystery at the heart of the 2017 economy Politico

Hospital Sends Legal Threats To Researcher, Then Asks For Her Help Identifying Breach Victims TechDirt

DiCaprio returns Brando Oscar as part of Malaysian laundering probe Reuters

Fraud hotspots revealed by Which? The Spectator

Hutt River Province’s Prince Leonard slapped with $3 million tax bill The West Australian (Richard Smith). Sovereign citizens in Oz.

British Election Aftermath

The ugly politics of the Grenfell Tower fire Vox Political. Lots of detail. (This is a UK “Vox,” not the American Vox, or Vox EU.)

A fire in the world’s laudromat Open Democracy (Richard Smith). Important.

Grenfell Tower: Theresa May’s ‘Hurricane Katrina’ moment? The Spectator

Fireproof cladding that would have prevented Grenfell Tower tragedy ‘would have cost just £5,000 extra’ – and the cheap version that WAS used is BANNED in America Daily Mail

London fire: Corbyn calls for empty homes to be requisitioned BBC

Why trying to understand GE2017 as “the young vs the old” is a bad idea London School of Economics Blog

New poll confirms Macron’s party set for landslide victory The Local

A Wave of Anger Crashes over Britain Der Speigel (Re Silc)


The election changes nothing – we need to get on with Brexit Brexit Central. “There’s no alternative but to suck it and see.”

Eurogroup grants long-term debt relief for Greece Al Jazeera

New Brussels Reforms: Path To More Austerity For Italy Social Europe (MT).

Berlin hits back at US move to tighten sanctions on Russia FT


China successfully sends pairs of entangled photons from space The Economic Times

Can the U.S. Pivot Back to Asia? Foreign Affairs

In Philippines battle, troops pinned down by sniper fire, Molotov cocktails Reuters

Solving the Korea Crisis by Teaching a Horse to Sing Thomas Friedman, NYT. Or a New York Times columnist to write?

Dennis Rodman just gave Kim Jong Un “The Art of the Deal” by Donald Trump, plus soap and a mermaid puzzle Moneyish

Belleville Shooting

Scalise in critical condition ‘but has improved’ after third procedure for gunshot wound McClatchy

Scalise, Sanders, Caesar and Me The American Conservative

Dems ask themselves: Has their rhetoric gone too far? McClatchy. “‘We have an obligation to point out what his policies are doing for everyday American people,’ [Nina] Turner said. ‘We have an obligation to do that, but we also have an obligation for people to understand we are talking about the policy positions and not trying to strip this man of his humanity. It’s hard, but we can do both.'” Never, ever….

New Cold War

Mueller, Known for Being Above the Fray, Is Now in the Thick of It NYT.

Mike Pence Lawyers Up The Atlantic

‘All this circus’: Putin takes heat from broke, angry Russians in live call-in show WaPo

Putin ready to provide political asylum to former FBI director TASS (MT). Cheeky!

The Madness of King Donald Richard Evans, Foreign Policy. Must-read.

Lambert here: Evans is a scholar; he wrote the brilliant and illuminating Third Reich trilogy; that he doesn’t choose the Hitler analogy to characterize Trump should, one would think, dispose of that lazy trope once and for all. That said, Evans poses the question: “What happens when a political elite concludes that the real or titular head of state has to be deposed in the interests of the country as a whole?” A question to which one answer has been gradually exposed ever since liberal Democrats proposed their “faithless elector” ploy: A change in the Constitutional order. The change Evans proposes is this: “If Americans prove incapable of deposing[1] their debilitated president, they may soon earn[2] the mild relief of one, or more, informally appointed American regents.” Evans’ idea of a “regent” parallels the idea that the Trump administration is missing what the Beltway establishment calls a “wise man” — somebody like Bush the Elder’s James Baker — to mediate between the political class and the President; ballast to the Trump administration’s disequilibriated ship; the idea is clever because it could be presented as, indeed might be, [genuflects] “bipartisan.”

FWIW, although I find the concept of a “regent” more attractive than the concept of giving The Blob veto power over the appointment of the President, as in execution the Democrat proposal for faithless electors would have done, I see some problems. First, could it be the case that “if this were going to happen, it would already have happened?” As of this writing, Trump has been in office 146 days, 16 hours, 1 minute and 47 seconds. One would have expected the conservative factions of the political class already to have produced and installed such a “wise man,” especially given that it’s clearly in their interests to have done so. Second, should we not be careful what we wish for? Suppose the “regent” turned out to be, well, crazypants and effective, like Bush the Younger’s Dick Cheney? Third, Evans is in essence proposing a new branch of government — neither executive, nor legislative, nor judicial — and there’s no reason to think it won’t be permanent, “mild” or no. Who checks the power of this revolutionary innovation? Fourth, Evans’ talent for scholarly invective has burnished the “Bush is senile” trope, which originally slithered up from the Democrat war rooms infested by David Brock, to a high sheen, but consider: “Debilitated” as Trump may be, he somehow managed, in a little under two years, to overpower all the dominant factions in the political class, whether liberal or conservative, to win the Presidency, laying waste to great swaths of long-fabricated conventional wisdom in the process. To me, that argues that the political class is, itself, debilitated. Why should anybody trust any choice they would make, and why would anybody regard their choice as legitimate? Our political elite, over the last few decades, has invested a good deal of political capital in proving that it’s always possible to make things worse, and I have no reason to think they won’t run true to form, should they attempt to carry out the change in the Constitutional order proposed by Evans.

NOTES [1] “Deposing.” How would that have been done, exactly? [2] “Earn” is a curious formulation; apparently, for Evans, the people have a duty to live up to the high standards of elites, a stance that seems somewhat lax, for a small-d democrat. As Algernon remarks in The Importance of Being Earnest: “Really, if the lower orders don’t set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them? They seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility.” Evans, remarkably, seems to share the deeply frivolous Algernon’s views.

Trump Transition

What is in Trump’s $200 billion infrastructure plan? WSWS (MT). “The Democratic Party and Republican Party have both stressed the need for public-private partnerships as the solution to the infrastructural and local-public debt problem in the United States. In the Detroit metro area, for example, Democratic politicians have played a key role in selling off infrastructure to private companies.”

How Trump Can Make Apprenticeships a Hit Bloomberg

Tort Reform Bills Are Silently Advancing Through Congress Bigger Law Firm (DK).

For Trump, Signs of a Softening Base WSJ. No wall, jobs are not better (surveys are, but data isn’t, nor are anecdotes), and health care is still a mess. Clearly, Democrats should double down on Russia, keep whinging about “norms,” and continue to ignore policy.

More states are registering voters automatically. Here’s how that affects voting. WaPo

GOP sirens blaze over Georgia special election Politico

The Koch Brothers Want To Rewrite The Constitution. They May Succeed. International Business Times

Our Famously Free Press

No Wonder the Washington Post Is Fawning Over the Intelligence Community Washington’s Blog.

Action Alert: With Sleazy Innuendo, NYT Lays Virginia Attack at Bernie Sanders’ Feet FAIR (DK). Guess who?

Don’t Believe Anonymously Sourced Reports, Justice Official Says NYT. Amazingly, or not, the lead exposes the headline as a lie: The Justice Official, Rod Rosenstein, is quoted as saying “skeptical about anonymous allegations.” “Be skeptical” is not the same as “Don’t Believe”! Has the Times newsroom been so gutted that it can no longer perform basic copy editing functions?

A local paper’s dogged search for details about Alexandria shooter CJR. Good news on the news, actually.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Telegram founder: U.S. intelligence agencies tried to bribe us to weaken encryption Fast Company

Health Care

GOP Senate leaders aim to bring health-care legislation to the floor by end of June WaPo

Secrecy Surrounding Senate Health Bill Raises Alarms in Both Parties NYT

Why The GOP Is So Hell-Bent On Passing An Unpopular Health Care Bill FiveThirtyEight

Insurers Look to Ramp Up Premiums in Health Law Exchanges WSJ

The Basis For Compromise On Medicaid Reform And Expansion Health Affairs

Imperial Collapse Watch

Why Bernie Sanders is an Imperialist Pig Black Agenda Report

U.S. Navy Can’t Figure Out Why F-18 Pilots Are Running Short of Oxygen Bloomberg

Class Warfare

The U.S. Is Where the Rich Are the Richest Bloomberg

Tax evaders exposed: why the super-rich are even richer than we thought Guardian

Kshama Sawant calls out Steve Ballmer over income tax MyNorthwest

Maryland Island Denies Sea Level Rise, Yet Wants to Stop It Scientific American

Oil’s pipeline to America’s schools Center for Public Integrity (GF).

Movies show the hidden truth about romance & marriage: they’re dying Fabius Maximus

Lead Detected In 20% Of Baby Food Samples, Surprising Even Researchers Kaiser Health News

The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge Harpers (1939).

Antidote du jour (via):

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. Carla


      Clearly, just one word will never describe Travis. He contains multitudes.

      1. visitor

        Just “preneur”.

        In French, the word means “taker” — which summarizes quite well the world perspective of TK, i.e. take everything.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Human entrepreneurs should be unproductive.

          If we wanted productive ones, we’d brought in robot entrepreneurs….they are very efficient.

    2. semiconscious

      uber isn’t a ‘business’, it’s simply a financial instrument. & it’s ever-rising stock has made a number of people (including kalanick) very wealthy already. It could evaporate tomorrow. it’s pretty much served its purpose :) …

      1. Carla

        Let’s hope some of those un-earned, mis-begotten spoils disappear, too — and take along those who plundered our society.

      2. different clue

        If Kalanick has left all his Ubershares in Ubershares, then he isn’t necessarily rich yet. If he sells a bunch of Ubershares for a billion one-dollar Federal Reserve Notes or some other form of money, then that is a billion he will still have if Uber goes extinct and takes all the Ubershares with it. Unless he waits too long, and Uber goes extinct with all his Ubershares still in Ubershares.

        1. Procopius

          I think the way it works, he and a few of his “good buddies” have what are called “super-shares,” which have ten votes each, in addition to many millions of common shares. I don’t know the actual structure of the company, and I believe that’s the way it’s meant to be. I’m pretty confident that Kalanick has already sold many millions of common shares and moved the proceeds to other assets and he will never be poor. Sad.

    3. CD

      Are Kalanick and the internet entrepreneurs a sign that our innovation coming to an end? Are we seeing the exhaustion of US innovation?

      Making things allows people to be novel, sometimes innovative, and, in some cases, creative. But it’s a lot tougher to be these when creating services.

      Another way to say this is that manufacturing has a much higher value added than do services.

      We’ve shipped out our manufacturing so all we have now is creating novel services.

      Given this, it’s likely we’ll have a continuing drop in US gdp growth and innovation. As well as low or stagnant wages for many.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        They are exhausted, and I am too…exhausted from trying to catch up with their innovating.

        “Sir, may I take a break from your disruptive technologies. sir? I am so tired from and of being disrupted Sincerely, your enervated Luddite.”

      2. Left in Wisconsin

        I wonder if the death of innovation isn’t more demand- (or lack-of-demand-) driven. It seems like (once you get beyond Amazon), every new “great idea” involves a monthly subscription. Instead of buying a one-off, where you can decide on usefulness, quality, value, etc., and even if you make a bad impulse decision the stakes are not that high, everyone now wants to get their hand in your bank account on a recurring basis. Perhaps because they realize that the disposable income we are left with after recurring monthly charges is to small to be worth it. Except for luxury goods makers, of course.

        1. CD

          Yeah,you’ve got a point. I suspect that the same firms are going after the same pieces of the same credit cards. It may be that there are no pieces left.

          But don’t forget, if we become too poor in the US, there’s always Europe and Asia to tap. Is this the big idea behind globalization?

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Can’t use innovations ‘cuz got no money> ergo let’s innovate money itself, it needs an upgrade ‘cuz it’s all getting stuck at the top. Version 1.0: DFM (Drano For Money) unclog the pipes and let it flow downwards; Version 2.0 MFA (Money For All), MMT, GMI or whatever it takes to get public money. Time to put a fork in Private Money.

  1. Cocomaan

    Good god, things have gotten crazy. These links are nutty. Factions are rising and it’s not good.

    This is anodyne of me to say, but we have to get along.

    1. Jim Haygood

      No sooner than you said that, the Supermarket Wars broke out:

      Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM) today announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Amazon will acquire Whole Foods Market for $42 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $13.7 billion, including Whole Foods Market’s net debt.

      In the US, Kroger, Wal-Mart, Sprouts, and Target are plunging … WMT -4%, TGT -5.5%, SFM -7.6%, KR -12% … and in Europe, Ahold, Carrefour and Tesco are falling.

      Bezos is in his flivver and all’s well with the world …

      1. craazyboy

        When you can justify going to Wal-Mart based only on the better décor, makes one wonder if we really need WFM?

        1. Jim Haygood

          From @CarlLantz:

          “Alexa, what grocery store is closest to me?”

          “The closest grocery store is Whole Foods, 9 miles away.”

          1. Linda

            Bezos: “Alexa, buy me something from Whole Foods”

            Alexa: “Buying Whole Foods”

            Bezos: Shit

            [Seen in a tweet.] haha

      2. allan

        Time to update Friedman’s Law:

        No two countries with Amazon fulfillment centers have ever gone to war with each other.

      3. cocomaan

        So you’re saying if we just let Bezos buy up the world, everything will be alright and we’ll all get along.

        1. Bullwinkle

          Are you referring to Aldi’s or Lidl’s grocery stores? Lidl’s is just making its American debut now.

            1. Vatch

              Thanks. That sure seems like a high price to pay for not much in return. But I guess if we keep pushing the price higher, soon Jeff Bezos will be the richest man in the world, without actually producing anything. I think we can be very proud of his achievement — I’m sure the people who work in his warehouses adore their Dear Leader.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                The Dear Leader – maybe people on the look out for the next mustached artist-wannabee Austrian corporal should pay attention here.

                1. Vatch

                  They also are able to avoid charging sales tax to some of their customers, which gives them a huge advantage over their brick and mortar competitors. I think the number of U.S. states where they can do this is decreasing as they expand their number of warehouses. They can’t evade the sales tax in states where they have a physical presence.

                  1. Lambert Strether Post author

                    The states are starting to claw back their sales taxes.

                    However, in the beginning Amazon’s growth was based on evading the sales tax. Fraud. Typical Silicon Valley success story.

                2. Left in Wisconsin

                  1. Instead of trying to maximize profits, Amazon plows the cash its businesses spin off into expansion/growing market share.
                  2. Eventually, they own/control everything.
                  3. There is no step 3. (This is where, IMO, the ones that think A will eventually jack prices to make mega-profits are incorrect. It’s not about money, it’s about power.)

                  1. Left in Wisconsin

                    That seems like a pretty good piece to me. The key part:

                    Amazon has perhaps 1% of the US retail market by value [this is 2014]. Should it stop entering new categories and markets and instead take profit, and by extension leave those segments and markets for other companies? Or should it keep investing to sweep them into the platform? Jeff Bezos’s view is pretty clear: keep investing, because to take profit out of the business would be to waste the opportunity. He seems very happy to keep seizing new opportunities, creating new businesses, and using every last penny to do it.

                    Still, investors put their money into companies, Amazon and any other, with the expectation that at some point they will get cash out. With Amazon, Bezos is deferring that profit-producing, investor-rewarding day almost indefinitely into the future. This prompts the suggestion that Amazon is the world’s biggest ‘lifestyle business’ – Bezos is running it for fun, not to deliver economic returns to shareholders, at least not any time soon.

                    But while he certainly does seem to be having fun, he is also building a company, with all the cash he can get his hands on, to capture a larger and larger share of the future of commerce. When you buy Amazon stock (the main currency with which Amazon employees are paid, incidentally), you are buying a bet that he can convert a huge portion of all commerce to flow through the Amazon machine. The question to ask isn’t whether Amazon is some profitless ponzi scheme, but whether you believe Bezos can capture the future. That, and how long are you willing to wait?

                    But the middle paragraph again says investors want profits when the sentence before says investors want to make money. IMO, those are not the same. And the part about fun is just dumb.

        1. kurtismayfield

          As long as Wall Street keep approving of Bezos’s “make little profit and keep increasing revenue” model, then their dominance will continue.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              The next step is actually coming up with genuine innovative stuff to sell.

              Like the hoverboard from Back to the Future II.

              The interesting thing about that movie is that it almost correctly predicted the Cubs would win the World Series…in 2015, instead of actually winning in 2016.

              The film failed BIG TIME in not predicting drones, surveillance state (Mr. Jitsu monitoring his employees notwithstanding), the smartphone, the internet, but instead, predicted falsely of flying cars by 2015.

              1. craazyboy

                Methinks underwear – proven biz model.

                Also sexy lingerie – for the under 60 market.

                Gotta stay with affordable stuff – mortgages are a mistake unless you can sell ’em off to rich people you know (that can’t read so good)

                But 1 hour min wage prices are a good level to be at.

                Back to the Future had some good points tho.

                Funny instead of stoopid, being an important one..

                I liked the nutty perfesser with the wild hair. They knew how to do wild hair back then. There was even a musical about it. “Hair!”

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The Jam-Tomorrow business model.

          The origin of which dates back to, I believe, Zarathustra.

          “Tomorrow, he that believeth in me, shall dwell in heaven.”

          And so, we also have the gospel, the good news, today, that we are a multi-planetary species, from our science and technology huckster, sorry, prophet.

          “You’re a star child. Dream on.”

          Thus, nothing is new under the sun – the sales technique is familiarly the same.

      4. David Carl Grimes

        Isn’t Uber just another version of Amazon? Doesn’t Amazon use its investor’s tolerance for little or no profits to drive competition (such as Mom & Pop stores and now whole department store chains) to bankruptcy? Once they’ve done that and established themselves as a monopoly, they start raising prices?

        1. oho

          short answer—yes. It’s good to be a CEO with an easy-to-please, don’t-care-about-profits shareholder base.

          (but Amazon/Uber have addicted their customers to low prices—-customers will revolt if/when prices try to rise to a sustainable level)

          1. CD

            Hey, that’s the next merger —

            Bezos — Alexa, get me a cab.

            Alexa — Just bought Uber.

            [Apologies for the crib.]

          2. different clue

            If the Amazon/Uber customers succeed in helping Amazon/Uber exterminate Retail/cab companies, then the Amazon/ Uber customers will have no one to defect to once they start feeling like rebelling at the rising prices.

        2. polecat

          Just wait till those Amazon drones start zeroing in on the desperate shop lifters … or anyone in the return aisle !!

        3. Left in Wisconsin

          The difference is that Amazon can self-fund its expansion through cash flow. It doesn’t make profits but it doesn’t lose money hand over fist either, unlike Uber.

          Personally, I think everyone who says this is all just part of a (very, very) long game in which A eventually resorts to monopoly pricing when “everyone else is out of business” are not correct. Amazon is not Apple. Apple wants to make lots of money and doesn’t want to take over the world. Amazon does not care about making lots of money; it wants to take over the world.

      5. kurtismayfield

        So, now the plan is to use all those prime customers to create pressure in the home grocery delivery market (because free). Plus Amazon can afford to suck up losses to artificially lower the prices on their groceries. Yay.

        I am starting to enjoy our new tech gilded age.

        1. oho

          another “killer app” will be the ability to pick up/return Amazon packages at Whole Foods, especially for city dwellers who don’t have a secure drop-box at their home/building.

      6. Mike Mc

        Bezos is Steve Jobs minus the charm and humanity. He’s becoming – like Zuckerberg – a Bond villain minus the soundtrack, handsome hero and Bond girls. Doing okay on the gadgets though.

        1. mpalomar

          Speaking of Bond genre villains he bears a resemblance to Mike Myers’ Dr. Evil or maybe mini me.

          1. Lynne

            Apple *used* to be about making money. Haven’t seen Tim Cook care much about making money lately, but he’s darn sure cares about power. Honestly, he’s such a power-hungry misogynist, he couldn’t even use basic courtesy in a Brussels meeting to plead his tax case:

            When Tim Cook, the company’s CEO, made a surprise visit to Brussels in early 2016 to lobby European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, things couldn’t have gone worse.

            People briefed on the meeting recall Cook as insistent that he was right, and as a poor listener who frequently interrupted Vestager.


            And whether or not you agree his political opinions are correct, you must agree he’s not been at all shy about using Apple’s power to enforce his views.

          2. cnchal

            Imagine Amazon making 80% of the profits in every market it enters, like Apple’s share of smartphone profits, would they be happy then or would they still want moar?

      7. Alejandro

        Before Bezos and this, there was Alan ‘greenspeak’ Greenspan, afforded a platform to pose as an “intellectual” benefactor…hyper-credentialed to create an illusion of credibility, and a beneficiary of a re-defining ‘ethos’ by displacing character with branding as a “sage”…all working to legitimize, spewing his Randian “anti-Antitrust” nonsense…

      8. oh

        This AH Bezos is using his empty shell of Amazon (with negative earnings) to try and build a company but evaluations will fall and he’ll have to dump his stock. WFM will turn into a sweatshop market with no a/c or heating and the young people whom they exploit will stop working there. Bezos will need imported (slave) labor.

    2. Swamp Yankee

      Agreed, Cocoman. We’re seeing these factions form in real time, in a dysfunctional federal continental-scale empire with about a dozen constituent nations, awash in arms and poverty. Ominous rumblings, as Hunter S. Thompson would say.

      There’s a definite whiff of the 1850s and 1770s about; I wish, following Col. Lang at Sic Semper Tyrannis, that our ruling class would read some history, literature, philosophy, instead on their near-total incubation in neoclassical economics, quantitative political science, and various types of social psychology. They would see that Clio is an ironic muse, with ironic rhymings, and perhaps discern the ways in which they are sealing their own fate and repeating the mistakes of past ruling classes.

      But I guess that doesn’t get you ahead in the Acela Corridor!

      Back to my potato patch I go.

  2. integer

    Russia’s military says may have killed IS leader Baghdadi

    “On May 28, after drones were used to confirm the information on the place and time of the meeting of IS leaders, between 00:35 and 00:45, Russian air forces launched a strike on the command point where the leaders were located,” the statement said.

    “According to the information which is now being checked via various channels, also present at the meeting was Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was eliminated as a result of the strike,” the ministry said.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I remember this story. It’s hard to tell with the wire reports everywhere, but Syrian state TV said a week ago he was killed.

        It’s possible this is meant as a positive id. It looks like one of his lackeys was killed in April. I recall a bit about the potential for having injured Baghdadi.

        1. craazyboy

          I remember the name…Baghdadi. Easy enough. It was a week ago in Syria, come to think of it. Now Afgania?

          Maybe they have a martyr false flag strategy at ISIS… Benefits! You have your death faked and get the safety of being dead and then qualify for the pension plan – but alas, no dental – dental records are traceable? But a bank account in Citi of Geneva to pay for stuff.

          Then run the Holy War from your mountain cave retreat!

      2. Alex Morfesis

        Is/was “abu” real or was he simply the most interesting terrorist in the world…

        or was he really “Baghdad-bahbi”…

        $tay legendary my friends…

    1. integer

      And from a decade ago: Seymour Hersh – The Redirection

      In the past year, the Saudis, the Israelis, and the Bush Administration have developed a series of informal understandings about their new strategic direction. At least four main elements were involved, the U.S. government consultant told me. First, Israel would be assured that its security was paramount and that Washington and Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states shared its concern about Iran.

      Second, the Saudis would urge Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian party that has received support from Iran, to curtail its anti-Israeli aggression and to begin serious talks about sharing leadership with Fatah, the more secular Palestinian group. (In February, the Saudis brokered a deal at Mecca between the two factions. However, Israel and the U.S. have expressed dissatisfaction with the terms.)

      The third component was that the Bush Administration would work directly with Sunni nations to counteract Shiite ascendance in the region.

      Fourth, the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations. Syria is a major conduit of arms to Hezbollah. The Saudi government is also at odds with the Syrians over the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, in Beirut in 2005, for which it believes the Assad government was responsible. Hariri, a billionaire Sunni, was closely associated with the Saudi regime and with Prince Bandar. (A U.N. inquiry strongly suggested that the Syrians were involved, but offered no direct evidence; there are plans for another investigation, by an international tribunal.)

      Worth a read imo.

  3. flora

    re: On the rise of unproductive entrepreneurs like Travis Kalanick – Izabella Kaminska, FT.

    Uber (and Wells and others’) business model appears to be piracy. Maybe that’s the underlying neoliberal economic model, too.

  4. allan

    About 4,000 more US troops to go to Afghanistan [AP]

    The Pentagon will send almost 4,000 additional American forces to Afghanistan, a Trump administration official said Thursday, hoping to break a stalemate in a war that has now passed to a third U.S. commander in chief. The deployment will be the largest of American manpower under Donald Trump’s young presidency. …

    The bulk of the additional troops will train and advise Afghan forces, according to the administration official, who wasn’t authorized to discuss details of the decision publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. A smaller number would be assigned to counterterror operations against the Taliban and IS, the official said. …

    Gotta be patient. We’re only 32 Friedman units into the war.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Still “training,” after all these years. That Afghan skills gap appears to be a pretty tough nut to crack.

      Oh well, quitters never win and winners never quit.

      1. craazyboy

        It’s a clever and devious plan to eliminate the terrorist gene from the ME.

        We train ’em, ISIS feeds ’em, then we try and find someone to kill ’em.

        Also, poppies.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.’ — James Mattis

        Mattis, who many including myself regard as the living reincarnation of General Curtis LeMay, is setting himself up to be a big-time bagholder. It’s his decision, and he owns this debacle now.

        After 15 years and a peak troop strength of over 100,000 under Airman Obama, 4,000 troops are gonna turn the tide … YEAH, RIGHT!

        With his signature big mouth, one imagines Mattis sweeping into Kabul on his next tour of the front and announcing, “Welcome to the Stone Age, suckers!

        1. CD

          Love it — Be polite, be professional …

          Priceless. This should go into some suspense/action screenplay.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          I need to check the weather, but he might be trotting out the Iraq surge strategy which was designed to coincide with the Summer declines in violence which were obvious to anyone over the age of 5.

          -send a paltry number of extra troops
          -payoff everyone you can find
          -take credit for a summer time lull. The average overnight temperature in Baghdad, Basra, and Mosul is brutal.
          -bring troops home as winners in early August (i don’t know if this is the plan, but the highly publicized MOABs and now a seemingly insignificant surge). It’s familiar.

          This was Petreus’ strategy. It was a PR strategy which is why he couldn’t replicate it in Afghanistan, less TV viewers. Obama’s refusal to leave the green zone and our support for militant shenanigans created conditions where ISIS could draw us back. I actually a LOTE about this scam back in the day before the surge started.

          The dates of D-Day were chosen based on tide charts. Weather isn’t lost even on today’s army.

          If I recall, Friedman always had a big “one more F.U. column” that came after the summertime lull or near the end of it because he had been assured by his cabbie there was a new strategy.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            The Iraq Surge was a repeat of Kissinger’s Vietnam exit strategy (Peace with Honor. I know right). He expanded the bombing so he could sell a win. Yes, butchering people is just part of his media strategy.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            -take credit for a summer time lull. The average overnight temperature in Baghdad, Basra, and Mosul is brutal.

            It’s interesting that the earliest civilizations should take place in such hostile environment, unless it was cooler five, six thousand years ago.

            From Ur to Haran to the Promised Land…the Fertile Crescent.

        3. cocomaan

          I had a barber once who fought in Afghanistan for the Soviet Union, probably went to him around 2010 or so. He told me about how they spent a lot of time building roads and schools, then guarding them. Talked at length about how the Afghanis remained ungrateful and did not want them there, even with all their civilization.

          Graveyard of Empires indeed.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I’m reminded of troubles in the Massachusetts area over the presence of British troops, but it probably blew over.

            The lesson is nobody really wants soldiers around, especially foreign soldiers. There is no recourse for grievances. Even though the Soviets were invited, it’s not surprising the weren’t welcome.

            1. WobblyTelomeres

              From Red Dawn (1984)

              Matt Eckert: Tell me what’s the difference between us and them?
              Jed Eckert: Because WE LIVE HERE!

  5. skippy

    Ref: The Madness of King Donald Richard Evans, Foreign Policy. Must-read.

    Lambert were right back at 1776.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is he the new Mad King Ludwig? Mad King George?

      Is he the American Caesar? The American Shiva? Mao Zedong? Der Fuerher?

  6. Carolinian

    Re The Madness of King Donald. If the worry is that Trump is erratic and has too much power then perhaps the first step would be to repeal the AUMF and restore the quaint notion–in the Constitution actually–that all wars have to be declared by Congress. We have a system that was designed to maintain checks and balances on the power of the president because the last thing the founders wanted was a king (well, maybe not Hamilton). Of course taking away the ability to attack other countries on a whim would be a blow to the MIC which makes lots of money off those whims.

    All of which is to say it’s a bit silly to suggest we need a “wise man” regent when the entire current system is a cock up. Instead of trying to “fix” the Constitution we should instead take it more seriously.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The answer is five.

        You need 5 wise men, according to the Germans – (“Fünf Wirtschaftsweisen”)

        1. John k

          So… three appointed by reps, and two by dems? Or vice versa? And what are they to decide?
          Maybe just grit teeth and wait him out…
          Course, lotsa dems still think it’s her turn…

    1. Pat

      Funny, I was thinking that the problem is not that the President is erratic, but that Congress is and has been dysfunctional for half a century. Yes, the problem with an erratic and unstable President would be largely moot if Congress had not abdicated many of its responsibilities, but that doesn’t address the problem that Congress is just as erratic and unstable.

      And I truly do lay most of that at the feet of our campaign and lobbying system. We have guaranteed that we have a governing body that is made up of scoundrels and thieves.

      1. jsn

        Inured by the Chicago Boys to the ideology of “utility maximization”, both Congress, with Buckley vs Valeo, and the Press, with repeal of The Fairness Doctrine, became increasingly possessed by the “income” sides of their respective ledgers.

        This inspired a Congress committed to delivering goodies to its funders, requiring the pretense of being “not responsible” for the deteriorating conditions to which this arrangement inevitably subjected voters. At the same time the Press discovered the lucrative possibilities of hosting the ideologies of the same funders now sporting Congresscritters (who should be required to wear race driver suits emblazoned with the appropriate logos, hat tip to whoever originally proposed that!).

        This combined condition worked fine so long as there was a plausibly “serious” leader (Shrub and Obama plumbing the lower bounds of such plausibility) to be “responsible”: these the “tough decisions” Hillary was spoiling to make. At a certain point, such crappification leaves nothing but the underlying b*ll sh*t: this is where we now find ourselves.

        1. Whine Country

          Clearly in our system of checks and balances, the definition of checks has transitioned from rules intended to prevent one person or group from having too much power within an organization to written orders directing a bank to pay money as instructed. Similarly balances now refer to one’s cash balances. Maybe it is time for a constitutional amendment.

      1. jrs

        hasn’t he turned those policies over to the military, so that it hardly matters what he wants?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          True enough. On the other hand, it wasn’t the Pentagon that petitioned for strikes against Syria; Clinton’s diplomats at State did that.

          Adding, State’s bellicosity under Democrats goes back at least to Albright: “What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” (Probably to become a talking head on TV and cash in, at least for a lot of the generals, but that’s different from actual warfighting.)

          1. voteforno6

            That remark from Albright didn’t go down too well among the rank-and-file in the military, at least those that I was around.

            1. John k

              Better generals that know their soldiers will die than those never to even be on the continent where the fight takes place… and who expect MIC to pay up…

        2. jsn

          I expect the morning of the DeFlynnestration the Donald awoke to find a horse head where he half expected Melania to be. Mean reversion in policy across the board began immediately thereafter.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Forgive but don’t forget.

            They have to ‘trust but verify’ Trump constantly, ever since the ‘mistake to go to Iraq’ insult of Bush.

            If Trump was sane once in a mad, mad, mad world, it’s important to keep him mad always. It was like that with Snowden – they gave him a second lie-detection test.

    2. Scott

      I’m deeply troubled by the article for many of the reasons already stated.

      Rather than focus on those, I think it’s interesting that Evans doesn’t try to even find comparable precedents in American history. Ronald Reagan was almost certainly suffering from Alzheimers while in office with his staff and the media complacent in hiding it from the American public:

      In addition, there is speculation that Calvin Coolidge suffered from clinical depression after the death of his son prior to his election in 1924 for a full term:

      Neither was removed from office, and there was never a serious effort to do so. Why not? In part because it is difficult to make the diagnosis that the mental condition is so bad as to prevent any individual from working, but the political pressures make it all but impossible.

      1. sid_finster

        Because Evans starts with his conclusions and then looks for justification.

        Notice the examples he doesn’t bring up, like Henry VI and Richard the Duke of York. Or for that matter, Richard III.

  7. fresno dan

    HICAP/medical saga follow up

    May 31, 2017 at 1:09 pm
    Which reminds me, why no more comments? does volunteer healthcare work require a security clearance and non-disclosure now?

    I guess it might. Being sensitive info and such.
    So I had my delayed meeting/sign up for HICAP volunteering Thursday (June 8) and did it yesterday (June 15) – one week after my medical event had postponed the original date. And yes, sensitive stuff, so I will carry a badge….well, a photo ID identifying me as certifiable…uh, certified medicare counselor…I expect to be able to whip it out (the photo ID) at early bird dinners and pick up the medicare eligible babes with my inside part D knowledge….
    And by sheer coincidence, this Thursday was the follow up to that medical event that determined that I had pneumonia….OR a “spontaneous airway event.” Whatever was wrong with me, the physicians at the hospital, determined that air, that had fixed everything immediately and effectively, was insufficient, and that further blood letting and torture…er, I mean treatment and diagnosis, was necessary, and the best treatment was to continuously extract, from an organ known as the “wallet” in a procedure know as a cashnectomy, with the hospital employing the variant “creditcardnectomy” as well. Indeed, my own physician entirely concurs in this treatment plan – good to know that there is consensus…..
    Indeed, this procedure is so necessary for health, that I just got an email from my insurance company that it will also employ it, even though they are not actually doctors, undoubtedly in a bid to advance my health as well….
    Its funny how medical treatment works – merely air had fixed me and made me feel better, but the more these cashnectomy procedures are employed, the worse I feel….

    1. Anonymous2

      The London fire.

      My sources tell me that there are over a hundred bodies in the building (only 30 dead so far announced as far as I know). Many children.

      The emergency services are traumatised by what they are finding.

      This will have political repercussions. The Council is Tory. Johnson’s actions and statements on safety issues while Mayor are being scrutinised.

      1. jsn

        That is horrifying! Insulation is notoriously poisonous when burned, many producing cyanide gasses as a product of combustion. I deeply hope the rumors you are hearing are wrong, but smoke inhalation is the leading cause of death in fires.

        1. fajensen

          Only Plastic Insulation does that.

          The only place that stuff is legal to install just about everywhere in Europe is inside of refrigerators, double-walled refrigeration containers and embedded inside concrete floors. Panels and cladding for multi-story houses must be inflammable (the Swedes do make 2-story houses in wood, though, the insulation is inflammable Rock-wool and they are big on fire escapes and alarms).

          In Scandinavia and Germany, they would have used Rockwool panels (maybe ONE example where lobbying did good):

          Obviously, the current UK leadership didn’t and doesn’t want “to be told what to do from Brussels”. ….

          1. jsn

            From descriptions I’ve read it sounds as though plastic foam insulation was used. By code in the US these can be used where suitably encased by a fire resistant material and frequently get used for roofing assemblies above a fire proof steel or concrete deck. This is common on large scale projects in Europe as well. These products are also common in wall assemblies where they are covered over with fire rated coverings.

            There was a fire in Las Vegas 15 or 20 years ago in which the Exterior Insulation Finish System (EIFS) caught fire and laid waste to the entire building facade on a high rise building. This caused a modification of fire codes in the US that has been incorporated into the IBC, a joint EU/US base construction code. Maybe it’s not been incorporated into some of the local codes in London, but more likely a “de-regulated” permitting process has been gamed to do something illegal.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Funny how nobody seems to be game to bring up the 1974 film “The Towering Inferno” – a film about a fire in a high rise caused by cutting corners on building standards and materials whereas the the Grenfell Tower fire was probably due to – oh, wait!
        When it is all over someone will suggest that they tear the building down and put a pretty memorial park in its place like they did in Oklahoma City but I say just leave the building exactly how it is, a permanent reminder to what happens when you value some people’s lives more than others.

        1. CD

          Warsaw still has several bombed-out buildings, near city center, standing un-repaired.

          They’re very unsubtle reminders of the WW2 uprising. Maybe it’s good to remember the nasty times and events.

      3. voteforno6

        This will have political repercussions.

        As it should.It would be nice to see officials held to account for the consequences of their actions.

        1. Indrid Cold

          Knowing the British, there will be a lot of posturing and a big concert featuring pop’s most anodyne and saccharine acts to raise relief funds. They love that stuff over there. Then back to business as usual.

          1. Pat

            Why one could almost substitute ‘Americans’ for ‘British’ for most tragedies. Wait….what almost…

    2. WobblyTelomeres

      fresno dan: I’m curious. By “air” do you mean Albuterol on a nebulizer? Worked wonders for me when I stupidly applied some wood treatment spray without a mask.

      1. fresno dan

        June 16, 2017 at 9:38 am

        actually, oxygen. That took care of everything.
        At first they thought I had pneumonia (I have had all my life a high white blood cell count). Than they kinda thought it was a spontaneous airway event (asthma) even though I had never had been diagnosed. Hopefully, one and done.

    3. craazyboy

      Congrats! On passing state secrets via NC, I’ll suggest using Morse Code. They don’t teach it any more in West Point or the agencies – gone 128bit digital encryption – now everything is mumbo jumbo, and secure!

      Pneumonia is bad stuff. They die from that in old movies, I found out. I think they need to give penicillin type antibiotics to knock out the infection. 2-3 weeks.

      In the mean time, generic “tussin” is cheap and will have you gushing thinned down mucous like Ol’ Faithful.

      After it’s gone, do deep breathing exercises on a regular basis. It’s a lot more important to exhale completely than inhale. COPD and chest infections are interrelated because germs get caught in the small air pockets deep in the lungs. These get clogged with only normal congestion, so you want to squeeze your chest down hard and together while exhaling hard. You may even hear whistling noises as air escapes deep in the lungs. This is good!

      The Illuminati have recently determined exhaling hard does improve COPD!

      1. fresno dan

        June 16, 2017 at 10:12 am

        I am skeptical of having pneumonia. When I had Hodgkin’s disease (when I was 25, thirty five years ago now – I didn’t have health insurance than, I was treated because I was a veteran), they noticed high WBC counts unrelated to the lymphoma, and went through some extraordinary measures (tagging my own WBC’s with radioactive isotopes and reinjecting them into me) to try and find a latent infection. Never did find anything. Over the years, WBC counts always high.
        I told the emergency room doctors this….but they had to find out for themselves.
        So the bottom line is something happened – spontaneous airway event (and I sure hope “one and done”) – and I’m just grateful American medical infrastructure was there for me this time and in the past times as well, which I fear is more and more imperiled, and I believe may have saved my life. (People think I’m nuts when I say how lucky I am – I survived Hodgkin’s, and a heart attack – hey, I’m alive and I feel good…James Brown good!)

        1. craazyboy

          P is like bronchitis, when after 3 days your 103 temp goes to 104.

          Nothing what you’re describing. That sounds more like a sepsis somewhere. Except for the ” spontaneous airway event “. I think those pair with a heart attack.

          Not trying to sound scary, but they gotta diagnose it before they can treat it. It does sound fishy, however, like it’s the med version of “make work”.

  8. Watt4Bob

    One would have expected the conservative factions of the political class already to have produced and installed such a “wise man,” especially given that it’s clearly in their interests to have done so.

    The problem IMHO, is that Trump is not likely to accept the council of a “regent”.

    My guess is that he would avoid even a hand-shake.

    The “regent” by definition being an individual respected by the political class and experienced in navigating “the swamp” seems an attractive idea to those appalled by Trump, and in search of a “solution”, but Trump is not interested in advice on how to get along with the political class.

    Trump is at heart, an autocrat, he’s a boss, he wants the political class to do what they’re told, and he’s going to do the telling.

    Trump’s base elected him to be the “boss”, they expect him to make our country “Great Again” by ordering it done.

    The one thing, the only thing “working” for Trump at the moment, is his autocratic style, the essence of his popularity with his base.

    Trump can fail to fulfill his campaign promises and his base will still love him, but if he stops being the “boss” he’s going to frustrate his “followers” and somewhere in his lizard-brain, he understands that maintaining the enthusiasm of his “followers” is the key to his success.

    Any “wise-man” qualified for the job of “regent”, would be wise enough to understand it’s a suicide mission, and respectfully decline the “opportunity”.

    If Trump could be lured away from the clutches of his “followers”, that is, if he is more susceptible to greed, than the adulation of the mob, perhaps he can be bought-off, but we’re not going to fix the “problem” by having a wise-man whisper in his ear.

    My guess is he’s both determined to make the most of this opportunity to enrich himself, and more and more addicted to the adulation of “his people”, so we’re in real trouble.

    Funny in a truly pathetic way, that the wholly corrupt, and greedy “political class” finds itself threatened by a wholly corrupt, and greedy individual, empowered by, and leading the very mob that they’ve nurtured ever so carefully to be their loyal subjects.

    Who knew that the creation of a class of autocratic followers would result in the rise of an uncontrollable autocrat?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Trump can fail to fulfill his campaign promises and his base will still love him

      Trump needs his base plus his marginal voters. The former won’t abandon him, any more than loyalists abandoned Bush, Obama, or Clinton. The marginal voters (volality voters; voters who flipped from Obama to Trump) are already evaluating him on performance. I suspect they will turn on Trump for failure to deliver far faster than Democrats turned on Obama for his bait and switch operation on “hope and change” (aka MAGA). The issue is where will they go, especially since the Democrat establishment plans to offer them nothing.

      1. Whine Country

        Can’t disagree with your analysis but the question is: Does Trump care? Am I the only one who believes that there is no way Trump comes back for a second term (that is, if he makes it through his first term). I say no way. At the end of the day, Trump will admit that even he couldn’t clean up the unimaginable swamp that exists and he’ll opt to return to the good life. Trump’s election was a random event principally caused by the Dem’s catastrophic decision to elect Hillary. (I believe that, at the end of the day, the Republicans could have nominated just about anyone and won against her) It should then be recognized by most that it’s going to take a movement and not a single individual who can somehow work the election system to get past the gatekeepers. The only thing that Trump can achieve is to demonstrate that with the right combination of resources, one can luck out and win the presidency. But, that does not mean that you can bring order to the inmates currently running the asylum, so there is no upside for him. As Trump declared, the swamp must be cleared. But, as the swamp critters are making perfectly clear, no one person is powerful enough to do it.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The Dem brand might be in the gutter they would have similar problems beyond Hillary. Obama’s margins over Mittens weren’t as triumphant as the electoral college might indicate and were dependent on incredible minority turnout. Between nostagia, tokenism, and loyalty, its possible Hillary was the best the DLC type Dems could put up.

          Consider Booker, Cuomo, Biden (his record is particularly attrocious), now TerryMac…its um…not exactly a strong bench.

          In 2014, Mark Warner passed Ed Gillespie, a Republican with relatively no money or presence in the state, by only 20,000 votes despite being elected in 2008 by the highest percentage margin.

          Between the decline of organizing and the brand problems, I’ll be bold enough to say Hillary was the best establishment Dems could come up with. I don’t think Trump is a singular event. Trump after all is the famed “pussy grabber.” Its astonishing he is President. Kasich could be President right now, and he is a nut who use to fill in for Falafal Bill. Mittens could be.

          1. Whine Country

            Bernie would have beat Trump. People wanted change. Hillary was a vote for the status quo and the enough voters were not going to let that happen. Trump sold himself as the change candidate and people held their noses and voted AGAINST the status quo. If Hillary promised anything other than a total continuation of the same old policies, I don’t know anyone who heard it.

        2. Watt4Bob

          Does Trump care?


          …so there is no upside for him…

          Actually the grid-lock he has precipitated is better than full-steam-ahead war that we would have had with almost anyone else.

          So we have that going for us.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Like Edward Fox in Force 10 from Navarone said, looking at the lovely dam, you have to patient.

            What the American Shiva will do to fulfill his eponymous destiny will take time to fully unfold.

          1. Whine Country

            The answer to your question is irrelevant. The issue is was he able to get enough voters to believe that (1) it is an important issue to them and (2) he was serious. I err on the side of caution and rarely believe anything a politician says these days, though I hope we will be surprised some day. My feelings are similar to Watt4Bob’s, best we can hope for is gridlock and that we are saved from having Hillary and her crowd have their way.

      2. Ernesto Lyon

        Trump only needs to be less transparently despicable than the Dems, which isnt hard.

      3. Watt4Bob

        Trump needs his base plus his marginal voters.

        To what end?

        Those ‘marginal voters’ don’t attend his ‘rallies’ and bow down in admiration of his greatness, so what good are they?

        Trump isn’t going to want to be elected again, even if he makes it through this term.

        I doubt he has any real policy aims that won’t be addressed by Congress in their default, full-court-press to up-the-rich.

        I’m thinking his aims are getting richer, and now, because he’s become addicted to it, basking in the adulation of his “followers” to feed his limitless ego.

        He was never going to do anything for the common good, so I think we have to assess his real intentions.

        Is there anybody willing to say that Trump took this job because he felt called to serve his country?

          1. Watt4Bob

            Ok, what odds are they giving him in Las Vegas?

            What odds are you giving; on his odds of not cracking under the pressure?

      4. John k

        Is trump having a good time? How about over the next three years? What if we have a recession? I suspect he won’t want a second term.
        He needs his base as insurance against impeachment, doesn’t need the flippers.
        Pence vs Biden… another unattractive choice. Biden would likely win…
        We need Bernie… some pundit said he’s a shoo in because will probably be in reasonable health. Hope so… maybe needs a taster…

        1. different clue

          Sanders as DemParty nominee would drive the Black Agenda Reporters to transcendental peaks of rage and hate. They were not upset at his “being a sheepdog”. They were upset because they thought he was leading the sheep to the DemParty instead of leading the sheep into the Radical Marxist Corral. They were upset because he wasn’t THEIR sheepdog.

          Their impotent rage over DemPrez nominee Bernie will be delicious to see.

    2. sid_finster

      I am not sure that Trump’s followers will just go along quietly, even if The Better People say it is for their own good.

      The average frustrated Trumper seems a bit more ornery than his Berniecrat counterpart.

      1. Watt4Bob

        Exactly, which is why I would council patience, and an appreciation for gridlock.

        It’s the best we can hope for.

        “Getting rid” of Trump would most likely cause mayhem, no matter how it was accomplished.

  9. dontknowitall

    The idea of a regent brought in through a soft coup to be present in the same room or even the same country as Trump is laughable.

    For one thing almost all the people involved would necessarily be the current republican leadership of the Congress many of which were ignominiously defeated by Trump in the election. So the accusation of sore losers defying the will of the people would come up right away. Remember John McCain trying desperately and failing to look credible defending Trump while questioning Comey.

    On top of that, the Dick Cheney comparison is not apt since the Cheney ‘regentship’ was setup that way from the very beginning and he was not brought in later in a coup to create ‘bipartisanship’. I believe people would rightly think the system was being rigged again to deny them the full power of their vote which was effecting change through a radical non-politician outsider. The consequences would not be predictable.

    The idea that the Trump administration lacks a steady senior policy hand is likely false. This is a fake impression created by the newspapers and republican policy wonks purposefully denied access to offices they felt entitled to. Just because we don’t agree with their concept of what constitutes policy and how the White House chooses to pursue it doesn’t mean a cadre of steady hands doesn’t exist. They may be unknowns to the regular denizens of the Dupont Circle steakhouses but they are there and they are steadily and quietly pursuing the wholesale dismantling the regulatory system while Trump creates wholesale distractions and the Dems fake worry about the Russians.

    And where would the regent idea stop ? Is Bernie deserving of being president alone or should the ‘elders’ in Congress assign a bipartisan nanny just in case ? Should Hillary, if she runs again and wins, have a republican nanny assigned by the bipartisan ‘elders’ just in case she goes off the rails ?

    My impression is regencies have historically very bad outcomes and I am surprised Evans would come up with that lousy idea. It has only been workable in the very limited area of Defense where historically Dem presidents give the job of Secretary of Defense to a Republican elder for the sake of credibility.

    Trump should get his four years as awarded by the people as set down in the Constitution untrammeled by a bipartisan conspiracy of dunces.

    1. Anonymous2

      Are there any genuinely wise elder statesmen in the GOP under the age of 90?

      I ask because my father knew and respected George Schultz. But he is 96/97?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          He wrote “wise” and “statesman” not “murderous” and a “fraud.”

          Didn’t Powell present a slam dunk report to the UN? Then the pig wrote a book blaming everyone else and had the nerve to say he was just following orders.

          Powell isn’t someone one might merely disagree with. He is simply a vile human being. He has career of it going back to his efforts to cover up the Mai Lai massacre.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        No. The last GOP “moderate” was Jeffords. The other “moderates” made a clear decision about who they were when they didnt leave with Jeffords (I cant remember if Jeffords tried to recruit McCain; it says a great deal about the maverick). Chaffee plays a “moderate” these days because he is desperate to get to Versailles.

  10. Ann O'Nimus

    Re King Donald:
    First off, how about a “wise woman” as Regent?

    Second, Evans states that President Trump is “committed to populism” as evidenced by his disregard of the Establishment. It should be clear by now that he is, and has always been, solely committed to himself. He is the ultimate narcissist.

    On a separate note, I think it is very foolish of Trump to rely on a commercial & corporate litigation lawyer, for advice relating to Russia issues. You need a DC insider, with DOJ experience preferably. But undoubtedly he won’t want to listen to someone like that.

    1. Watt4Bob

      First off, how about a “wise woman” as Regent?

      We’re probably luckier than we know that he is married, and to a woman who appears to be much saner than he.

      She may just be the only ‘wise’ opinion that he might listen to.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > how about a “wise woman” as Regent?

      Because “wise man” is the cliché; see the link.

      And what woman did you have in mind? Peggy Noonan? Not sure she’d want to…

  11. kurtismayfield

    RE: The Madness of King Donald

    Donald Trump has proven unwilling to play by the rules or respect the constitution of the country that elected them.

    #1. Exactly what has President Trump done that doesn’t respect the Constitution? The author doesn’t present one bit of evidence. Is he referring to the Comey affair? If we take what Comey is saying as 100% truth, Trump may have acted unethical but I wouldn’t say it was unconstitutional.

    #2. Is the author talking about the Constitution, or the unwritten Washington playbook that you *have* to run your administration by?

    Why should the 50 states of the Union respect any “Regent” placed by the political class who live in Versailles on the Potomac? This would cause a Constitutional crisis that we haven’t seen since 1860. I know the author is just reaching into what he knows (the past) to find a present day solution, but this is way too dangerous a proposal. If the Constitution is so fragile that it can’t sustain a President who doesn’t play the Washington DC game by their rules, then we are already in trouble.

    1. sid_finster

      You miss the point. The point is that the Political Class wants Trump gone or neutered.

      Any justification put forth need only be a pretext, and doesn’t have to stand up to any sort of reasoning.

      1. Kurtismayfield

        The Republican Congress is doing a fantastic job of keeping Trump neutered, by not passing anything (Thanks Freedom Caucus!). 2018 could also neuter him, if the Dem’s get it together. So our already existing Constitutional order is doing a good enough job at doing that the Political class wants.

        1. Pat

          Oh, they are passing things (lots of times with Democratic help), lots of people just haven’t noticed because it isn’t one of the big two (health care/tax reform) and lots of Russia/Russia/Trump is making sure the bread and circuses distract everyone.

  12. Merdi55

    RE: The mystery at the heart of the 2017 economy.

    “Cheap smartphone plans are to blame”

    Can anyone explain this point to me? How can smartphone plan prices be so significant that a price war would noticeably affect the inflation rate of the entire US economy? Are they supposedly so ubiquitous and large a component of household budgets that they would affect workers’ wage demands or aggregate spending cash that it spirals out? It struck me as about as poignant as pointing out that ketchup prices were low so obviously inflation… I followed the link through to the Fed’s page, but found little illumination there.

    1. Jef

      As always they try and blame the common man so as to distract from the fact that all the trillions being pumped out are ending up in the hands of a very few thus no inflation visible.

    2. cnchal

      . . . Of course, the cell phone wars have been going on for a few years. Why did they just show up in the data recently? Because in January, the government changed how it accounted for unlimited data plans in inflation statistics, resulting in a shift downward. This statistical quirk is likely to be a one-time occurrence, but it helps to explain the recent decline in inflation, and Fed officials are taking it into account.

      The Bureau of Lies and Statistics just doing their jawb.

      I found this part amusing.

      . . . As evidence for this, Holtz-Eakin points to the difference in inflation for goods, which can be traded between countries, and services, which largely—though not always—cannot be traded. Think about it this way: A person in Paris cannot get a haircut from a barber in New York, but can purchase a hat from a Brooklyn retailer. Thus, goods exist in a global market, whereas services are more local. Over the past year, prices on goods have risen just 0.3 percent, while they have risen for 2.4 percent for services.

      It obliquely touches on the real reason for economic dis-function. Services trade existing wealth, making stuff creates new wealth, and that has been in terminal decline in “the west” having been outsourced to China, which now creates the wealth that is being used to eat us alive. Try to find a smartphone, or any other electronics not made in China. Apparently Foxconn is going to build an electronics plant somewhere in the US to produce stuff here. I wonder how soon suicide prevention nets sprout from the building? If they were smart it would be under ground, then the nets only need to go into the stairwells.

      And seriously? A person in Paris buying a hat from somebody in Brooklyn. Why not cut out the middleman and order it from China directly? China even subsidizes the shipping so it a real sweet deal.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Favoring the raffish straw hat look in summer, I buy panama hats straight from Ecuador, where they’ve got the essential panama straw, Carludovica palmata.

        Had ol’ David Ricardo (a big fan of exchanging English cloth for Portuguese wine) done the same, he coulda been the toast of Ascot instead of a scribbler of economics tracts. :-(

        1. Carl

          I got mine directly from the shop in Cuenca, where the old guy who’d been making them for 50 years or so pointed me up the rickety stairway to the “showroom,” which was the size of a small bedroom.

      2. Left in Wisconsin

        Services trade existing wealth, making stuff creates new wealth

        So if I make a pizza that costs me $3 and sell if for $10, I have made $7 in new wealth. But if someone in China makes the pizza for $1 and I import it for $3 and sell it for $10, I haven’t made any new wealth. But the Chinese pizza maker has only created $2 of new wealth. Or has the Chinese pizza maker created $9 in wealth because I eventually sold it for $10. But they just wouldn’t know it because they have no idea what I sold it for.

        That does not make sense to me.

    3. Jim Haygood

      According to the detailed breakdown in the CPI report, wireless telephone services are 1.544% of the CPI, and were down 12.5% in price in the past 12 months.

      The 12.5% decline in wireless telecoms knocked two-tenths off the CPI’s percentage increase, versus the percentage increase had wireless telecoms been flat. That is, the CPI actually increased by 1.87% yoy instead of 2.07% (had wireless telecoms not declined).

      This may sound like small potatoes. But the Treasury has $1.25 trillion of TIPS bonds indexed to the CPI. Wireless telecoms just saved the gov $250 million in indexed principal … yowza!

  13. Blennylips

    Making Humans a Multi-Planetary Species

    Gee Elon, have you considered desiring a Multi-Species Planet instead?

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      I think the thought/threat of the Singularity is what is driving him. That and wanting to be The Most Famous Man In History.

      1. oho

        I hope that I don’t have wobbly telomeres—just nice indestructible ones so I can live to a ripe old age.

      2. Blennylips

        That’s as good a guess as any.

        Reports vary, but something like Over Half of Earth’s Wildlife Has Been Killed in the Past 40 Years.

        sgt_doom yesterday pointed us at

        The rush to social collapse cannot be stopped no matter what is written or said. Humans have never been able to intentionally-avoid collapse because fundamental system-wide change is only possible after the collapse begins.

        Pretty sure a viable biosphere is not possible in a human only habitat. We need (as well as adore) plant and animal antidotes every day.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          There used to be elephants and rhinos in central China.

          You see them depicted in Shang dynasty bronzes, particularly the type of wine vessel known as Zun.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          There used to be elephants and rhinos in central China.

          You see them depicted in Shang dynasty bronzes, particularly the type of wine vessel known as Zun.

    2. bdy

      Wow that dude is obtuse. Current events c. 2000 or so, Mars is under constant bombardment from deadly solar radiation. Astronauts’ hearts are failing from spending 90 days on a space station. Apart from two sentences about how Mars can be “warmed up,” and an atmosphere denuded by eons of solar bombardment might be “compressed,” his We Can Colonize Mars argument consists of describing a vehicle and its cost.

      “So Elon, how do you jumpstart a planet’s magnetic field that’s been dead for a billion years or so? And why on earth (sic) would you want to extract resources from a dead rock at the bottom of a gravity well with all these convenient moons and asteroids nearby?”

      “Uh huh,” says Elon, “Exactly! Mars. And here is the car that will get us there. The Future! A personal check is fine if you don’t Venmo.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I only know you can’t day-trade stocks from Mars.

        The time lag would kill you.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I only know you can’t day-trade stocks from Mars.

        The time lag would kill you.

      3. WobblyTelomeres

        Earth has an iron core. Mars does not.

        Earth’s magnetosphere protects the atmosphere and surface from radiation. Without an iron core, Mars has no magnetosphere, a wispy atmosphere, and a surface bombarded by solar radiation.

        Put another way, one ill timed coronal mass ejection (CME) and we lose a few satellites. Anything on the surface of Mars is toast.

        Because of this, life on Mars will be underground. Less Eloi, more Morloch (Marloch?).

        1. ewmayer

          Actually, Mars has an iron core like Earth, but it went dormant billions of years ago, perhaps because it was sufficiently smaller in size that the heat balance (radioactive decay producing heat, convection carrying it toward the surface, and long-wave radiation out into space) meant gradual cooling, causing the magnetic dynamo that existed early in the planet’s history to gradually shut down.

  14. RenoDino

    The Madness of King Donald

    The American imperial project has been masquerading as the indispensable and exceptional nation relying on patriotism rather than social justice to make the required sacrifices demand of its citizens.
    All Trump has done is remove the mask and reveal the true nature of the Empire. He actually looks sane by comparison to the neoliberals who have lied their way to power.

    The collective madness of those who want to dispose him warrants equal consideration. They have demonstrated alarming levels of hysteria, anger, anxiety and denial. Saying Trump made them this way is no excuse. Neither is hearing his voice in their heads. Hallucinations that Trump is a Russian agent are probably a symptom of a more serious psychological condition.

    Senseless over reaction to an unpleasant situation is not normal even if a pollster says it’s OK.

  15. Pat

    Have had a couple of thought realignment moments over the last few weeks.

    First was a realization that waving away the job losses attached to single payer is far too similar to what happened with regard to the loss of middle class manufacturing jobs from globalization deals. Oh, they’ll have other opportunities, training, etc. Even though I truly believe that single payer is a net good for America, unlike globalization as configured by the usual suspects, the job losses do need to be addressed if we were ever to really decide not to be a third world country regarding the health care of our citizens.

    Second is my growing ambivalence regarding Congress and the President and our selection procedure for both. It isn’t just getting the money out of the process, although that is huge. It is also finding a way to make sure that the best interests of their constituents is vital, including those with the least. Surprisingly enough, the most recent election made me rethink my long held contention that the popular vote should determine the President. Clinton’s popular vote lead being essentially contained in one state coupled with her decision to ignore large numbers of states, to essentially write off entire sections of the US, made it clear that we do need to give leverage to less populous states. But in a similar fashion we also need to find a means to make our regionally selected legislators more accountable to their constituents. I don’t have any answers, but advertising, money and gerrymandering have made it almost unnecessary for some of our Senators and Congresspersons to ever really interact with the people they are supposed to represent, certainly not the more rural, poorer, and or challenged among them. And more and more the answers I see to address this would only make that worse – like the popular vote determining the President.

    And it is connected. Jobs are important. Not just job numbers, but the type of jobs. If you don’t have to face the people who were able to support themselves and their families but can’t any longer because a policy you supported eliminated their job, it makes it a whole lot easier to wave away job losses as an elected official. And it goes from there, it is fouled water, crippling loans, corrupt banks, etc…

    1. dontknowitall

      You hit a very important consideration in health reform. I would just note that while all countries in Europe have single payer the private plans and private insurance have not disappeared and thrive actually due to wealth disparities, class issues, convenience for those that can afford it and the illusory belief that private is better than public in quality even though recent studies have proven that is not true.

      So a single payer scheme would not do away with private insurance schemes but you are right the employment mix would certainly change and that should be addressed head on with real solutions not magical thinking.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Pat and dontknowitall make a couple of good points regarding possible Health Ins Co shrinkage from Medicare for All implementation. However, I think it severely overstates the case to compare to offshoring of manufacturing jobs to China and Mexico from NAFTA. Those estimates run in the neighborhood of 5M or so lost jobs over a decade. Summing up the total employment of the major Health Ins Cos doesn’t even get you to 500K jobs in total. I don’t think more than 1/2, at most, would be laid off, probably much less. Much like you point out, the Health Ins industry would have to reinvent itself to offering supplemental plans as seen in Europe or Australia. Inequity would certainly continue and manifest itself in different ways, but at least some effects would be less pronounced in the health sphere.

        Also, it’s worth pointing out that the benefits of globalization have mostly gone to Walmart and to the executive class. The benefits of Medicare for All would be plain to see for everyday Americans who stop getting bills in the mail every month. There’s little that’s more tangible for people than stopping additional bills from showing up in your mailbox each month.

        1. Pat

          I’m afraid I didn’t put it well. Although I don’t consider the globalization deals a step forward, almost all change, including a most beneficial one like real health care reform in America, includes losers. Supporters of change largely downplay the number of losers AND wave the problem away with retraining. They also usually overestimate the ‘winning’ involved in making the change be it increased trade and therefore an increase in jobs, or quite possibly the number of jobs that single payer would bring. And single payer advocates can be seen doing that hand waving at the reported job losses.

          The problem here is NOT that single payer would mean job losses, the problem is we have a system that does not support and protect real living wage jobs, be it through free education (across all spectrums vocational, community, graduate), laws on exporting jobs, requiring companies to have training programs for specialized skillls rather than a visa program for cheap workers, etc, etc, etc. And as much as we need the beneficial changes to the system, like single payer, doing so without protecting the losers or changing that paradigm overall is still a recipe for pain, distrust, anger, etc.

          1. JohnnyGL

            Nope, you articulated yourself just fine. I agree with you on values. I’m saying your analysis of the landscape of winners/losers is less of a worry than you think.

            Globalization offered big benefits for elites, big losses for large numbers of manufacturing workers and their communities, and small gains on the consumer end of things (mostly in clothes and consumer electronics, offset by rising healthcare and education costs).

            Single-payer offers equalizing benefits for everyone, rich and poor alike. It offers limited losses for much smaller numbers of billing-related claims staff (as you point out). And those people who lose the claims processing jobs won’t get buried in medical bills even after they lose their jobs!

            Plus there’s the pride of work factor:
            “We used to build things” vs. “We used to reject provider claims”. No one is going to romanticize about the 2nd statement.

      2. marym

        European countries have universal health care using the Bismarck model – standard coverage on a multi-payer, private, highly regulated, not-for-profit basis – not single payer.

      3. marym

        In addition to provisions for training and priority placement HR 676 also provides 2 years of salary continuation for insurance workers who are unemployed as a result of implementation.

        PNHP FAQ says they have worked with unions on a job conversion program, but I didn’t find any further documentation of this.

        Here’s a link (PDF) to a NNU study that claims a 2.6 million net job gain. If they explained the methodology it went over my head.

        If that’s all there is to be found, some serious study is needed. That should include analysis of current voluntary attrition; types of already occurring/occurred job loss through automation, off-shoring, mergers); numbers of people close to expected retirement; numbers of people who would stop working if they had health insurance.

        edit: was supposed to be reply to Pat’s original comment.

    2. juliania

      It’s the money that’s the biggee. Once you don’t get rich by running for office, and once you don’t have to be rich (or know rich people or be beholden to the same) just to run for office, ethical people can make ethical decisions to actually abide within Constitutional norms.

      I suppose others have noticed the irony in calling that treasonable Supreme Court decision ‘Citizens United’. Talk about Orwellian.

      It would be a great name for a new party, however.

    3. mpalomar

      The loss of jobs issue impeding health care reform was frequently raised by relatives of mine. As others have noted the imperative in health care policy is essentially about cost effective universally accessible medical service, only peripherally about jobs; attempting to craft policy from the jobs perspective seems like a losing proposition.

      The trade deals like NAFTA contained jobs as part of the central element of the policy at least as it was falsely sold, i.e better jobs would actually be created and re-training would be a major component.

      Medical insurance here in Canada and I suspect elsewhere is a wedge used by the private sector to undermine single payer and create a multi tier system. It may be unavoidable in the mix but it is also a tool the privatizers use to degrade universal health care.

      1. curlydan

        Here’s how I would sell it. Will jobs be lost in the short-term in a transition to single-payer? Probably. Let’s not forget, though, that our health insurance system is a highly inefficient, wasting billions on glorified paper pushing.

        Our current health insurance system also greatly inhibits entrepreneurship. How many smart, motivated people are sitting in corporate offices/cubicles, dying to start their own businesses but trapped due to the cushy health care benefits they’ve got and would lose if they went out on their own? Possibly millions.

        In a well-constructed single payer model, these possible entrepreneurs are freed. And instead of staffing doctors’ offices and hospitals with a phalanx of talented, college educated (mainly) women pushing paper and billing records back and forth in an extractive enterprise, we actually free these talented workers to more productive enterprises.

        You could call it a leap of faith, but when we have 20+ other countries obviously doing it better, it’s more than just faith.

    4. TK421

      Yes, it would be a shame if people who work in health insurance lost their jobs. But our current health care system is causing people to lose their lives.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > waving away the job losses attached to single payer

      Surely the health insurance industry is the worst make-work program imaginable, aside perhaps from the Pentagon?

      I agree that the issue does need to be addressed; but it also seems to me that other countries have managed this and therefore so can we. Frankly, for most single payer advocates, the effort to get a policy so successful elsewhere onto the national agenda here has been so great, there’s been little time left over to figure out who to copy on implementation.

      The best solution is, of course, a Jobs Guarantee. Everything is deeply intertwingled.

  16. mpalomar

    London’s Grenfell fire appears like the culminating event in a series that includes Brexit and the two recent terror attacks that are accumulating evidence that should condemn decades of neo liberal policy as practiced by both Tory and Liberal to the dust bin of history if the dots are connected (the picture is already so clear the dots are coming together by themselves.)

    Corbyn’s rise on the political landscape, despite the poisonous counter narrative from the media and Labor establishment in the run up to elections, is dramatic timing that should provide the voice to the narrative that is being spelled out so explicitly by events. The media can be counted on to once again defer illustrating the connection between neo liberal policy but the evidence is becoming so clear denial and obfuscation may be impossible.

    One element of the reporting that has been badly translated in the US coverage of the fire is the nature of Grenfell social housing, what the councils are, the equivalency with US public housing, etc.

      1. mpalomar

        After reading numerous articles I’m still not clear on the ownership of the blocks and the units and the role of the councils. The buildings seem to be older high rise, badly constructed and rental though with recent avenues for people to purchase (privatizing).

        I think most in the US (not at NC) are missing the context that Grenfell and Lakanal House, Southwark are public housing. How they relate to US public housing projects like Cabrini Green or Pruitt Igoe, which were underfunded and built to punish and fail residents is not clear. The term Housing Estate “is quite broad, and can include anything from high rise government-subsidised housing, right through to more upmarket” construction. -wikipedia.

        Not surprisingly this is not being clearly reported in the US. There is a subtle and distinct history that goes back at least as far as Octavia Hill and John Ruskin’s odd couple collaboration on housing for the underclass in the UK.

  17. DJG

    Aha: The use of the term “left” with regard to the Virginia massacre. Given that I have already been red-baited by Clintonians for triple heresies of (1) voting for Green candidate Jill Stein, (2) pointing out that it is not an “e-mail account” but a piece of equipment that violates the law and was secreted in her basement or somewhere, and (3) opposing the endless war that the Democrats invariably cannot locate, I find it no surprise that the gun man is being portrayed as a leftist. All correct-thinking regular Democrats know that, and they will be only too happy to report that info to their Republican friends.

    As always, if anyone so much as drops a paper cup at a demonstration , it is out-of-control leftist violence. This is well known.

    I’m surprised that this guy isn’t getting the “crazy white guy” exemption. Or should I not be surprised?

    1. Uahsenaa

      Most of the violence one sees at protests these days are agents provocateurs. A great deal of effort and planning is directed toward identifying and nullifying or mitigating their effects as quickly as possible. So, not only are leftists by and large non-violent, we also have to go out of our way to deal with state agents who would seek to do violence among us.

      Of course, I’m not including those anarchists who have no qualms about doing damage to property, but even they would make the distinction between harm to stuff and harm to human beings, which those who suppress protests have absolutely no problem with.

      1. Byron the Light Bulb

        Yes, I’ve always wondered why these Bloc types break windows instead of security cameras, which are the obvious first things that should be disabled if one were interested in mayhem. Obvious to anyone not a police informant. Then again, typical strategy includes shaming nation-states and corporations, entities all incapable of having an emotional response, and will weather it’s human members quitting in disgust, dying of illness, or being rapture-ed.

        The common thread that unites both sides of the barricade is boredom. People dying of boredom.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        false flag operations.

        It seems to be easier, for not a few, to take the fake news if it concerns Trump supporters. That’s my impression and an opinion. Perhaps only a independent investigation can shed more light on the question.

      3. polecat

        Ah, but what of that bike-lock welding Berkley prof who was charged with assault recently for injuring supposed right wing protesters ??

  18. Jim Haygood

    High-rise fire safety — UK, Germany, US:

    Omnis Exteriors manufactured the aluminium composite material (ACM) Reynobond PE cladding, which is £2 cheaper per square metre than the alternative Reynobond FR, which stands for “fire resistant” to the companies that refurbished Grenfell Tower.

    The company paid a dividend of £950,000 to its sole shareholder, an investment group specialising in construction companies called Xerxes Equity. The chairman of Xerxes and its largest shareholder is the corporate grandee Tony Rice, who is a former chief executive of the telecoms multinational Cable & Wireless and is also a trustee of the housing charity Shelter.

    German construction companies have been banned from using plastic-filled cladding, such as Reynobond PE, on towers more than 22 metres high since the 1980s when regulations were brought in to improve fire safety at residential blocks. [exactly as an architect commented on Water Cooler yesterday]

    US building codes also restrict the use of metal-composite panels without flame-retardant cores on buildings above 15 metres.

    Wikipedia claims that the recladding was done with a perfunctory “building notice” which didn’t even involve the submittal of plans and specifications. Sounds pretty soppy, don’t it?

    1. Plenue

      What’s this now? A Haygood post lamenting a lack of properly written and enforced government regulations?

  19. rich

    HOT David Rubenstein Named Chairman of the Board of the Council on Foreign Relations

    David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and managing director of the private equity firm the Carlyle Group, has been named chairman of the board of the Council on Foreign Relations effective July 1. He succeeds both former U.S. Trade Representative Carla A. Hills, chairman and CEO of Hills & Company, and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin, who are concluding their ten-year terms as co-chairs.

    CFR has also named Jami Miscik, CEO and Vice Chairman of Kissinger Associates and former Deputy Director for Intelligence at the Central Intelligence Agency, and Blair Effron, co-founder of the investment banking firm Centerview Partners, as vice chairs of the Board.

    Rubenstein is one of the most significant players in the Deep State. He is smart, calculating and accessible.

    I reported this story about him in 2010:

    Laura Bush is out with her memoir, Spoken from the Pocketbook Heart.

    Fed chairman Ben Bernanke doesn’t make it into the book, neither does Treasury Secretary during the GW years, Hank Paulson. But what’s a White House memoir without a memory of David Rubenstein, the co-founder of the private equity firm Carlyle Group, who made George H. W. hundreds of millions after he left the White House ?

    Laura tells us that not only did Rubenstein show up at the White House for a 60th wedding anniversary party for George H.W. and Barbara Bush, but he gave the toast!…

    Laura describes David as a “long time friend.” Translation: Anybody that can figure out how to exploit George’s connections for more money than any of them had ever seen before can certainly be a life long friend.

    Look, Rubenstein on a personal level is a nice guy. Whenever I have spoken to him, he has always been polite to me. When I have asked him a question out of left field to throw him off, he tends to really spend time to think about the question and give me a thoughtful answer, but of all the people George and Barbara have met over the years, and some probably truly long-term friends, it is remarkable that Rubenstein, who is roughly 30 years younger than George H. W., is giving a toast at at the Bush’s 60th wedding anniversary.


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Sure, sure. Nice guys and nice gals all around.

      Perhaps it’s the banality of greed.

      “Relax, it’s OK. Normalcy all day long in what we do.”

      Strangely, everyone at the soiree later confessed to being shocked, just shocked, upon finding out what their friend and neighbor was doing at work.

  20. oho

    Amazon buying Whole Foods, Walmart and Target stock freefalling.

    dream coming true—just need to add Starbucks and then all a neoliberal’s favorite progressive brands will be under one roof.

  21. Romancing The Loan

    The Fabius piece was strange enough that I’m not sure why it was included. He talks about ten and twenty year old movies in the service of displaying sexual insecurities (“beta”) that are cringeworthy in a young man but almost unbearably sad in a man over 60.

    1. Stephanie

      I think the “terminal decline of marriage”, evidently foreshadowed by a knock-off of The Princess Diaries, is the “consequence” he was warning about previously wrt overweight college girls with unshaved underarms.

      Seems legit.

      1. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website


        “he was warning about previously wrt overweight college girls with unshaved underarms.”

        It’s not nice to lie. I pointed to an article by Milo Yiannopoulos about this and said:

        “The next step in women liberating themselves from men’s desires.”

        And so it is. If you find that to be a bad thing, too bad. Get used to it.

        To be even clearer, I described Milo: “He has gathered a large and growing following for his often-weird views.”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      My guess is that 60 is now the new 20.

      Eternal youth and all that…Puer Aeternus.

    3. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website

      Romancing The Loan,

      That’s not what the article said. Not even close.

      “sexual insecurities (“beta”)”

      Beta is a pop-sociology term referring to a kind of social class. It has nothing to do with “sexual insecurities.”

      1. footnote4

        Beta is a pop-sociology term referring to a kind of social class

        What kind of social class would that be?

        1. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website


          “What kind of social class would that be?”

          Good question! Alpha men are leaders, socially adept. Beta men are the second tier, followers with lesser levels of the skills valued in that society (i.e., that time and place). Most of us are betas.

          Omegas are the third tier.

          Like the similar political classification of Left and Right (born in the 1789 National assembly of France), it is a one dimension description. Handy, flexible, easily understandable by most people.

          Such concepts are well-suited for use in 1,000 word discussions of complex topics for a general audience. That is, for introductions to the subject.

    4. Plenue

      Not only is the idea of marriage not in any danger, the franchise has been extended to gays. Romance and the desire for companionship are as prevalent as they’ve ever been, that people aren’t legally binding themselves to each other as much as they used to is because of a combination of people realizing you can have permanent companionship without paperwork, and the simple fact that people are increasingly not economically secure enough to think marriage is a good idea.

      And yes, the use of asinine internet beta/alpha, red pilled gibberish terminology in a senior citizen is deeply pathetic and sad.

      1. jrs

        anyway if anything is deeply personal it’s peoples loves lives, yes statistically trends have social influence, but individually people are as likely to model their marriage on their parents as anything else probably. If that leaves some people not eager to marry – so be it.

        Even if women were deliberately trying to escape male attention, so what, when one doesn’t know their history, doesn’t know that they even like men, and doesn’t know that they haven’t been horribly abused by men growing up or later in life (1 in 3 women were sexually abused as children or something like that, not to mention the prevalence of rape). One’s love life is not fodder for political opinions.

        1. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website


          “One’s love life is not fodder for political opinions.”

          I’m sure we all agree about that for the individual. You, me, the people next door. But this post discusses institutions — romantic marriage and the nuclear family. How they evolve is both shaped by public policy — and has a massive influence on society.

          Think about laws concerning marriage, divorce, custody and support of children, contraceptives, abortion-foster care – orphanages, what we teach children — and a thousand other public policy issues. Getting these right requires understanding what individuals want, the problems they face, and what kind of society we want.

          Attaining the right balance among these many factors requires clear sight and deep discussion.

          More broadly, these create demographic change — one of the most powerful of forces affecting society. That too has to be understood and planned for.

      2. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website


        “Not only is the idea of marriage not in any danger”

        Your opinion is as valid as any others when guessing about the future! But such assertions don’t help much. So many of the economic and social foundations of the nuclear family have changed, it logical to ask if it can continue in anything like its present form (the nuclear family was a source/spark of the 18thC creation of the modern concept of romance). I point to cracks in the structure. Boldly denying them isn’t a rebuttal.

        “asinine internet beta/alpha, red pilled gibberish terminology in a senior citizen is deeply pathetic and sad.”

        If ony name-calling and insults were rational discourse! But they’re not.

        1. Plenue

          Marriage isn’t going anywhere. It may change, but it won’t disappear. You’re clearly focused on one comparatively recent version of it; the nuclear family. We may see a major shift back towards extended kinship groups, with multiple generations living together, which seems to have been the norm for most of human history. The nuclear family as the norm is very much an artificial creation associated with capitalism, with antecedents in deliberate church policies that aimed to break up extended family groupings to make people more susceptible to church control of social interactions.

          I would think a conservative might have some appreciation for older forms of social organization, ones that could address various defects in the more atomized way Western civilization has operated for centuries. Clearly not, though.

          Also, whiny MRA types are never rational. And hell, the very use of terms like ‘beta’ is insulting to begin with. Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it in return, ass.

          1. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website


            “Marriage isn’t going anywhere. It may change, but it won’t disappear.”

            That’s a good point. But it is a rebuttal to something I never said. See the first line: “ilms show us how romance is changing in America.” The subject was, technically, romantic marriage (aka “American marriage”). Gripping titles have to be brief.

            “The nuclear family as the norm is very much an artificial creation”

            Most social mechanisms are “artificial”. As for the rest of your first paragraph, I said much the same thing (are you sure you read my post?).

            “We have had the current social system of romantic love and nuclear families for an eyeblink of time in humanity’s long history. It is no more natural than the many other systems our species has used.”

            “We may see a major shift back towards extended kinship groups”

            I said exactly that. Did you read the post?

            “I would think a conservative might have some appreciation for older forms of social organization,”

            I’m not a conservative.

            “whiny MRA types are never rational. …Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it in return, ass.””

            if only insults were rational discouse, think how advanced humanity would be by now! But it’s not.

            “the very use of terms like ‘beta’ is insulting to begin with”

            So much effort to control other people’s language. So much sensitivity and outrage. No wonder the left is losing.

            1. Plenue

              “Most social mechanisms are ‘artificial’.”

              Not if they naturally developed without much (or any) conscious thought put into them. Extended kinship groups resemble how various apes organize themselves.

              “I’m not a conservative.”

              Coulda fooled me.

              “So much effort to control other people’s language. So much sensitivity and outrage. No wonder the left is losing.”

              Spare me. I didn’t censor you, nor suggest you be censored. I’m saying that if you’re going to start flinging around insults, don’t then whine when someone insults you back.

              And the Left isn’t losing. Liberals are losing. There’s a massive difference. Corbyn just showed that the Left is very much alive and their ideas popular.

              1. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website


                “Not if they naturally developed without much (or any) conscious thought put into them. ”

                Yes, I agree. But that’s how the nuclear family developed. Why do you say it is “artificial.”?

                “Coulda fooled me.”

                I guess you don’t know much about me. I’d be interested to compare my writings with yours. I was writing about our mad wars in 2003, about rising wealth and income inequality since the FM website opened in 2007, about Wall Street’s domination of the economy since early 2008, about our drift towards fascism since 2009, and so forth.

                ” don’t then whine when someone insults you back.”

                On that nutty note I’ll end this discussion. I’ll respond if you have anything substantive to say other, other than making stuff up and insults.

                1. Plenue

                  >Why do you say it is “artificial.”?

                  Because it is? The nuclear family and marriage as commonly understood in the West was something that was deliberately pushed by the Catholic Church as social engineering.




                  >bunch of things that he think proves he’s not a conservative

                  Looks like stuff I’d see written at The American Conservative.

                  >nutty note

                  ‘Beta’ is literally an insult. It’s consistently used on the internet as an insult. You’re not only treating it as a serious term, but attempting to elevate it to describe some sort of social category. The only way you could be more ridiculous would be to throw in ‘cuck’ as well. If you were to write an article about how ‘kike’ is a serious term and describes a distinct class, no one would tolerate you claiming insults coarsen the ensuing discourse.

      1. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website


        As I said, it is a pop-sociology term referring to a social class of men.

        Yes, we’re neither dogs nor wolves. That’s a nice reminder, but most people already know this.

          1. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website


            When people refer to “hivemind”, do you post a comment saying that we are not bees? Or that bees don’t have minds as we do?

            As I said, “it’s a pop sociology term referring to social class of men.” It’s about us, not dogs.

            I like pedantry, but not using it as a way to prevent discussion.

          2. Oregoncharles

            Sorry, that’s not what the article says – or rather, not what it demonstrates. It shows (1) that the concept doesn’t apply well to wolves, at least not in normal conditions. That’s important, in that wolves are social predators like ourselves. However, the concept is hardly restricted to wolves. (2) That the term originates with female chickens, not male wolves. That suggests that females may have their own dominance hierarchy. OTOH, those hierarchies are often quite fluid and dependent on circumstance.

            Since our societies are organized hierarchically, it’s pretty silly to say that humans don’t have dominance hierarchies, both formal and informal, and among both sexes. Since the formal hierarchies of most of our societies consist of males, and violence is always potential (as it is with chimps, but interestingly not with bonobos), I think the basic point is well established – unfortunate, but a fact of life. It’s worthwhile, but often a struggle, to develop other forms of organization.

      1. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website


        Exactly! New ideas, discussions of things on the edge of the known, are usually strange. The question of their utility often can be seen in the audience’s response.

        (1) A dead end is shown by rebuttals in the form of “it’s proven wrong by facts A and B” and “the logic fails because X and Y doesn’t imply Z”. We’ve all had this happen to us.

        (2) Indications of hitting pay dirt: declarations that the theory is wrong without any support, misstating it and declaring the wrong version to be incorrect, and pedantic focusing on trivial or irrelevant details. It’s “hitting a nerve”, avoidance or denial. See the Right’s reaction to the IPCC’s reports for classic examples of this!

        Western society is changing. A common belief is that this will not affect core aspects, usually by people who don’t know the shallow roots of these core aspects — such as the brief history of the nuclear family and romantic marriage.

        To take us to a stronger future we need to see clearly what’s happening. Marx said religion and ideology tend to fog our vision. We can afford neither today.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I’ve hated romance for years. I loathe the self-regarding sentimentality and the imposed stereotypical behaviors. If romance is dying, let me be the first to dance on its grave.

          1. jrs

            It probably takes a bit of WILLFUL sentimentality to make a relationship work (since real people are pretty darn imperfect when you get down to it), if making a relationship work is what one is after. Of course within limits. Stereotyped behaviors and the expectation of such I could do without.

          2. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website


            As a genre, it’s not for everyone.I enjoy it, but I’m a sentimentalist. The post includes a link to 9 great modern romance films. You’d probably dislike them all!

            Speaking for readers here (you already know this), this post discusses “romantic marriage”. To grossly oversimplify, people in the 18th century (e.g., Rousseau) invented romance as a scaffolding to the modern version of the nuclear family (the institution).

            Also, a note about Naked Capitalism. I’m impressed that you include such controversial material in your links. That’s rare in these increasingly tribal times, where forums (L and R) tend to publish only things doctrinally correct, filtering out anything that might disturb the flock.

    5. Oregoncharles

      Well, ” Marriage rates will begin a substantial fall in the decade. ”

      As, indeed, they are. (Recent news report, and discussion here on NC.)

      Our family system has a 50% failure rate and is obviously unstable. Are movies a clue? I think an anthropologist would call them “myth” – that is, unintentionally revealing.

      Some very sloppy language in the piece (beta), but I’m afraid he has a point. It MAY just be that gender roles are still adjusting to the recent tectonic changes. That’s inevitable, and often painful. But other aspects of society are obviously breaking down, too.

  22. Tim

    Interesting article on Neil Kashkari of the fed. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so hard on him in the Cal Election when he ran for governor.

    His only vice is he appears to be (from his rhetorical question) he is naïve to what drive’s the people around him. He is a former engineer which means he has a sense of being rewarded for seeking out the truth, which many around him have been discouraged from doing since day 1.

    1. UserFriendly

      Yeah, I’ve had my eye on him. He appears to be an honest guy…. which is so exceedingly rare. I disagree with him some, but he isn’t bought and paid for. He’s my bet for next Fed Chair, especially if Yellen keeps up these rate hikes.

      1. craazyboy

        He is bought and rented. Long career ahead. Honest? They can say anything they want, and it doesn’t matter. He can afford to say honest things to the press now and then. Good PR.

        He didn’t practice engineering very long. Went back to Wharton biz school, nailed down a job at GS. Not that he wanted too. haha. Maybe it was the money?

        The next non-sequitur is he’s a tad naïve about complicated stuff, like setting interest rates, and underwriting mortgages? That would be compared to easy stuff like rocket science and aeronautics?

        Nein, nein, nein!

        You learn Fed smarts in about 6 months – 179 days unlearning BS economics, 1 day learning why the Fed does its one thing – with many names. And 12 people get to vote on it to add to the drama.

        I needn’t go on about what happens next.

        1. UserFriendly

          I’m not saying he’s perfect; I’m saying I don’t think he’s in it for the money. Just the impression I get. I could be wrong.

          1. John k

            Plus he’s said some smart things the other best and brightest aren’t…
            Pick of the litter… but not likely to be picked, probably has banking enemies… why would they want somebody that doesn’t worship money, the only thing they have?

  23. XXYY


    To me, that argues that the political class is, itself, debilitated. Why should anybody trust any choice they would make, and why would anybody regard their choice as legitimate?

    This seems like the most pressing and urgent question of our time, not of course just on this one matter. Our entire information system, and in many ways our deeply wired ways of thinking, are premised on the idea that there are wise people in charge, and that ultimately decisions are being made in accordance with the common good. This extremely fundamental assumption, I think, has been exposed as a fraud in the last few years.

    It’s hard to overstate the impact of this.

    1. Oregoncharles

      I don’t really think that’s a new discovery. What do you think drove the later 60’s?

  24. Sutter Cane

    RE: The mystery at the heart of the 2017 economy.

    Inflation is supposedly low, but no mention of insanely inflating rents and housing prices, or out of control health insurance premiums.

    Cheaper phone plans are nice an’ all, but don’t amount to much when all of your paycheck goes toward not living under a bridge and not dying.

    1. craazyboy

      Heaven and Hell are outside the plan service area as well.

      Roaming charges apply. :(

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Cheaper to track and monitor you (which you volunteer by buying) through a smartphone.

        “But why? The surveillance state has as much money to spend as it wants. Just buy and gift everyone one.”

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      The fundamental issue is that inflation in economics is a one-size-fits-all concept but in real life, different causes of inflation mean entirely different things. Economists see all inflation as meaning that “the economy is overheated,” so the response is always to try to “slow the economy,” which means raising interest rates and making sure working people don’t get raises. But we haven’t had wage-push inflation, the kind that signals an over-heated economy in this country since, at best, the 1970s (if ever).

      Obvious, to a normal human, is that inflation caused by high oil prices or out-of-control health-care costs or asset bubbles that inflate housing costs are all different things that mean different things and none of them means the economy is overheated. But to economists, they are all the same.

      And that is without even getting into the details of what is and isn’t included in the basket of goods used to measure inflation, which is quirky in the extreme and in no case could reflect a universal experience anyway. Just to take one example (that is about 1/3 of the CPI), housing cost inflation is an entirely different phenomenon if you are a home-owner with a fixed-rate mortgage vs a renter, and entirely different if you are a homeowner living in a house you bought a long time ago vs very recently, or in the Bay Area vs. Syracuse (an example I know).

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        One’s inflation is another’s deflation.

        That’s the other aspect of the 2017 economy.

        If you buy an duplex for twice what it was worth 3 years ago, but can only charge the tenants 50% more, then, it’s return-on-investment deflation for you, and rent inflation for them.

  25. TarheelDem

    How is a regent not like a tribune? What are the checks and balances on a regent from the Congress and the courts?

    Isn’t it interesting that whether it be a constitutional convention or a regent, the solutions seem to ease the normative ideas of US government out of the 218-year-old constitutional order.

    All because one guy is completely out of control and the Congress of his party does not believe it has a function to limit the guy of their own party. Party over country spawns its mirror image in the other party.

    Why hardball politics finally does not work in a constitutional government.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Perhaps our written constitution is out of whack with our unwritten one. For all his flaws (slaveholding) I prefer Madison to whatever the hive mind of today’s political class has put together (“But norms!”).

  26. Oregoncharles

    The mystery at the heart of the 2017 economy

    As the Fed considers raising interest rates on Wednesday, low inflation remains a puzzle”

    Is that by any chance because interest rates are themselves important contributors to inflation, but policy proceeds as if they weren’t?

    After all, interest is a price, the price of money; and a cost of doing business. Furthermore, it’s a universal price – it affects virtually everything.

    Of course, it’s also because this is a very qualified sort of recovery.

    I also noticed that we in fact have negative interest rates: the target rate of inflation is 2%, and the actual rate is 1.7%. That’s low, but it’s MORE than many interest rates. If you leave your money in the bank, it evaporates; or is the word sublimes? Disappears into thin air, anyway. A very dubious store of value.

  27. Susan the other

    Thanks for the article about the oldest living creatures on the planet. I know both those guys! We used to have a cabin at Fishlake – like another world, and so I’m not surprised that that famous stand of ancient aspens has been estimated to be 80,000 years old (collectively). The locals called it ‘aspen heart’ in the fall because the center of it turned almost red – unlike the more modern aspen gold. So that center heart might have retained some much older dna. And we also had a local bristlecone pine celebrity too – really dry and twisted with only a few sprouts of evergreen – reputed to be 3000 years old back then. I betcha it was really 5000 years old.

    1. juliania

      I’ll also say thank you for posting the Black Agenda Report article. Sometimes the truth hurts.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          From the article:

          Back in April of this year, on NBC’s Meet The Press, Sanders purposely mimicked The Godfather when asked what he would do to force the Russians “to the table” in Syria:

          “I think you may want to make them an offer they can’t refuse. And that means tightening the screws on them, dealing with sanctions, telling them that we need their help, they have got to come to the table and not maintain this horrific dictator.”

          In light of his no vote, along with Rand Paul, does it mean

          1. the sweeping sanctions bill as far as against Russia is concerned, is too much?
          2. the sweeping sanctions bill, the Russia part, is not enough?
          3. the Russian part is ok, but the Iran inclusion is objectionable?

          One would have expected, based on the interview, that Sanders would have voted yes (thus the 3 questions above).

          1. witters

            This is the American Corbyn?? Dream on (exceptionally)

            Sanders: “We’ve got to work with countries around the world for a political solution to get rid of this guy [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] and to finally bring peace and stability to this country, which has been so decimated.”

          2. John k

            Well, it’s possible to make an offer the Russians would not have been able to refuse because they liked it. Seems a little ambiguous.
            Regardless, he might logically think more sanctions would be counter productive… or noticed that after six months there’s still no proof on offer.
            I’ve long thought he already has taken on powerful groups – banks, insurance, pharma – maybe doesn’t need CIA and MIC too.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s more like an Aspen clone-colony, isn’t it? I saw that on a documentary a few years back.

      Still, my clone is not me. I don’t care if it does die. I only care the original copy lives to be happy and healthy.

      (That’s why Arnold’s clone cop movie doesn’t make sense – each clone failed to fear death).

      1. Oregoncharles

        It isn’t like a cutting; they’re still connected underground, so all the same plant.

        Given that, it’s odd that the fall color is different. An effect of age itself?

        1. Susan the other

          maybe, because it is said that the natural color of all leaves is red, before the annual chlorophyll kicks in (?). maybe the oldest parts are being more efficient somehow.

  28. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Lead in 20% of baby food samples.

    According to the FDA, lead makes its way into food through contaminated soil, but Neltner suspects that processing may also play a role.

    “I can’t explain it other than I assume baby food is processed more,” Neltner said.

    We can’t explain it. This will continue.

  29. Plenue

    >Grenfell Tower: Theresa May’s ‘Hurricane Katrina’ moment? The Spectator

    I know that conservatives fundamentally hate the proles and don’t like having to interact with the great unwashed, but the degree to which May has repeatedly openly demonstrated this is astounding. Shaking hands and kissing babies type of moves have long been a basic PR staple. Even if Corbyn hadn’t gone out to meet with survivors, May not doing it would still be conspicuous.

  30. Expat


    Tory/Labour MP “We are shocked and appalled by this. We will investigate this thoroughly. blah blah blah.”

    “Psst, have all those horrid poor people stopped rioting? Yes? Good. Well, they can bloody piss off back to Pakistan if they don’t like living here. My company paid good money to make that building pretty. I can almost see it from the back of my garden in South Kensington ”

    Color me cynical, but the last major fire in South London which killed six prompted an investigation and a report. The report has not been released 10 years later.

    Burn down a tower in Canary Wharf or a block of houses in Chelsea and you will see swift and sure action to change regulations and string someone up.

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