Links 7/20/2017

Yes, It’s Legal To Break Into A Hot Car To Rescue A Trapped Animal LAist

Queensland nature refuge celebrates birth of rare hairy nose wombat ABC Australia

Ancient European dog genomes reveal continuity since the Early Neolithic Nature

The End of Cash; The End of Freedom Ian Welsh (MR).

Seven charts that show how the developed world is losing its edge Martin Wolf, FT

In a win for automakers, House panel approves sweeping self-driving car proposal Business Insider

Google redesigns mobile search app with personalized ‘feed’ Reuters. Stupider and stupider.

U.S. flight security measures now include electronic device checks Montreal Gazette


Tory feuds reveal a leadership contest is already under way New Statesman

London’s Home Price Growth Has Flatlined. What Happens Next? Bloomberg. Uh oh….

French court refers ‘right to be forgotten’ dispute to top EU court Reuters

Spain’s ‘secret credit card banker’ Blesa found shot dead BBC


Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow WaPo. Because it’s been so successful… Do note the qualifier in the lead: “President Trump has decided to end the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels….”

Qatar Warms Up to Iran on Natural Gas Bloomberg

U.S. Lawmakers Seek to Criminally Outlaw Support for Boycott Campaign Against Israel The Intercept. Crazypants.

Netanyahu: EU will ‘shrivel and disappear’ if no change in attitude toward Israel Politico and Hot Mic Catches a Fiery Bibi in Budapest Foreign Policy

North Korea

South Korea’s Moon sets goal of nuclear deal with North by 2020 Nikkei Asian Review

North Korea defector returns home calling South ‘capitalist hell’ Deutsche Welle


Mnuchin and Ross talk tough to China over trade deficit FT

Top Destinations for Wealthy Chinese Looking to Move Abroad Revealed Jing Daily (Re Silc).

Health Care

H.R. 1628, Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act of 2017 CBO. This is the current version BCRA: “CBO and JCT estimate that enacting this legislation would reduce federal deficits by $473 billion over the coming decade and increase the number of people who are uninsured by 32 million in 2026 relative to current law.” 

Trump To GOP Senators: Don’t Leave Town Until Healthcare Is Resolved Newsweek

Republicans meet late into night as Trump demands new healthcare plan Reuters. Good wrap-up of the week.

The Latest: Senators end meeting stalemated on health care ABC. Good tick-tock of the day.

John McCain Diagnosed With Brain Cancer Roll Call

* * *

Analysis: GOP Failure To Replace The Health Law Was Years In The Making KHN

Third time was not the charm for McConnell’s vow to end Obamacare Modern Healthcare

In Fallout Over Health Care Collapse, It’s GOP vs. GOP AP

Medicaid shows its political clout Politico

Obamacare Exchanges In Limbo KHN

The Post-Republican Obamacare Market Will Be “Stable” and Very Profitable for Health Insurers Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review

Millions More Uninsured Could Impact Health Of Those With Insurance, Too KHN

* * *

Here’s why Trump will come out of health-reform debacle relatively unscathed CNBC

Health-Care Setback Has Republicans Looking to Tax Policy WSJ

New Cold War

Is Putin’s Russia the critical threat Americans believe it to be? The Conversation (JZ).

Ukraine Summer Camp: Learning to Fight (video) NYT. The Azov Batallion 

Russian lawyer who met Trump Jr. ready to testify in Senate, ‘clarify situation behind mass hysteria’ AP

What Congressional Republicans Really Think About Trump and Russia The Atlantic

Trump’s other Russian dilemma Axios

5 Big Issues With President Trump’s Putin Meetings Time

Trump Transition

The good, the bad and the ugly of Trump’s economy Mohamed El-Erian, FT

States bristled but at least 30 will give personal voter data to Trump McClatchy

Sanders and Jackson join hands to take on Trump’s Vote Thief-in-Chief Greg Palast (MR).

Conservatives are trashing Jeff Sessions’ controversial asset-seizure program Business Insider

Congresswoman blames Rep. Paul Ryan for killing chance at Authorization for Use of Military Force debate NY Daily News

A spat between liberals and the left:

Sentences to ponder from the Dirtbag Left Marginal Revolution. Chapo Trap House podcast provokes liberal pearl-clutching at TNR. To wit–

The Dirtbag Left and the Problem of Dominance Politics Jeet Heer, TNR. Worthy of comparison to the late David Broder’s “foul-mouthed, vituperative bloggers on the left” (2006). Clue stick: “Bend the knee” (in “sentences of ponder” above) is most definitely a Game of Throne’s reference; Heer spends a whole paragraph wondering whether it is or not.

Politics is a Contest of Domination Current Affairs.  Response to Heer.

Liberalism and the politics of passive-aggression Carl Beijer. Response to Heer.

Class Warfare

I Want to Believe The New Inquiry

What It Means to Be on the Left Jacobin

Here’s Why White-Collar Criminals Often Go Free Bloomberg

Everyone Hates Neoliberals, So We Talked to Some Vice

Women will keep being exploited if we don’t give them the economic security they need The New Statesman

One of the most common questions in American small talk is considered rude in much of the world Quartz

End of the Line? As Vermonters Cut the Cord, Rural Phone Customers Hear Static Seven Days (Re Silc).

‘Game of Thrones’ Bosses Reteam With HBO for War Drama ‘Confederate’ Hollywood Reporter

A despot in disguise: one man’s mission to rip up democracy George Monbiot, Guardian (Re Silc). James McGill Buchanan.

Why Canada Is Able to Do Things Better The Atlantic

Antidote du jour:

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. cybrestrike

    Come on Google…I do not want personalized search results. I just want search results. Simple, boring search results.

    Why do these people seek to crapify stuff that works?

    1. MoiAussie

      The recent destruction of Google News is another crapification tragedy. The new interface is optimised for phone use, with acres of wasted space. Endless clicks/taps are needed to actually see what links are there. And it’s no longer possible to filter by recency or date range. A highly useful tool has vanished.

      1. visitor

        Has anybody else been annoyed by the recent attempts by Google to alter the YouTube interface? I regularly have to select the option to re-establish the “classic” look.

        1. justanotherprogressive

          I’ve been more annoyed at YouTube’s trying to “pick” content for me than their page look. I am interested in a wide variety of videos, but instead YouTube has limited the videos on my home page to things it “thinks” I want to see. NO that is NOT what I want to see. What it is doing is limiting my ability to find new and interesting things, and especially things I may not know about in advance. Netflix also does that and it is completely irritating…….

          1. ambrit

            “Customer” predictability is essential to successful advertising. Narrow “search” options will tend to produce ‘predictable’ viewing behaviours. Once behaviour is constrained, ‘advertising,’ which, in the words of H. G. Wells is “legalized lying,” can effectively ‘guide’ an individuals’ purchasing decisions. Then there is the political dimension. It’s just another version of “bread and circuses.”

          2. MoiAussie

            It’s easy to make utube forget everything it thinks it knows about your tastes – search for “youtube reset recommended videos”. This may not improve things much, as it will probably start recommending things other people like.

            1. justanotherprogressive

              I would prefer if it didn’t “recommend” anything and just let me search and choose for myself what I want to watch…..

            2. ambrit

              Yes. It’s like Netflix putting the “Trending on ****” list first when you enter the site. Who bloody cares what other people in the aggregate are watching, except for the odd sociology grad I’ll wager.
              This is like Yahoos’ having a “sponsored” infomercial in every fifth spot in the “news feed.” Is it just this lacivious geezer, or are many of the “news” items dished up now about boobs and butts? Do the female denizens of the NC readership see an excess of “beefcake” postings in the Yahoo “news” feed? I wouldn’t put it past the Internet Lords to “focus” the “offerings” that specifically.
              Time to go to work.
              Clive; it’s seven thirty A.M. here and 80 degrees fahrenheit with 94% humidity. Predicted high, 94 F. (The heat island in midtown is usually three to four degrees hotter by five P.M.) Locals would love to find where the weather service takes its’ temperature readings and go hang out there in the middle of the day. The observed “street” temperatures are almost always higher than the “official” figures. Do you see the same there?
              Good day to you.

          3. bronco

            Don’t be logged in to youtube or google when watching , in fact dumping any form of google accounts might be the best plan

          4. roxy

            Netflix recently added to my household cable tv package with my reluctant agreement. The instigator of this addition, my husband, has his “profile” which knows he likes to watch Star Trek. I finally attempted to have a “profile” so I could search for movies I want to see but it insists I choose some selections from different genres so it can suggest things “it “thinks” I want to see.” Asked my husband doesn’t this have a search function and he said not as far as he could tell. My “profile” is empty.

          5. voxhumana

            If you want You Tube out of your head, go to “History” and clear all search and watch histories. Best to do so after every you tube session.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          YouTube is also making grabbing embed code harder to do.

          Technical people: Am I right in thinking that everything Google is doing (modulo the actual data served) could be undone by getting the browser to use CSS and JavaScript to restore the pages to something efficient and useful like a browser page full of blue links circa 1995?

          I’d welcome such scripts if they exist or could be written. It would be a great public service!

          1. MoiAussie

            I haven’t done that sort of scripting for a while, but I agree it would be a public good to present google search and news results in a more useful format. I suspect it needs more than just CSS and JS tricks. Maybe some direct DOM editing.

            In particular, transforming the links to go direct to the target rather than via google would just by itself be a great step forward – no more google spying on your clicks.

      2. Spring Texaan

        Yes, I haven’t used the search engine for a couple years, preferring duckduckgo. But now that google news is crapified, I don’t know where to go instead.

        1. blennylips

          News crapification infuriates a lot of us.

          Here is one small trick to filter by recency:)

          o Start with a normal search.
          o Choose news from the options (Images, video, … news).
          o You should now see a tools menu that reveals the time options.

          Except for the far fewer items shown when starting from, the refined search starting at results in the same items in the same order.

            1. JoeK

              Indeed. “Advanced search” is buried in “settings,” which is telling in and of itself. I’ve saved that page on my bookmarks bar so go directly to it (on those increasingly rare occasions I use google any more for search). If “why I don’t use google search any more” became a common search term google might wake up and smell the coffee

              Complaining about one’s experience reading for free on the web is not only 1st-world but cravenly whiny, but I will anyway: it has changed significantly in the last year or two. Between the ads cramming the text from left right above and below, to the video that follows you around the page, the audio that blasts on without warning, the text shifting up and down to accommodate these roving disruptions….I can barely get through some articles and find myself just closing pages as they’re nearly unreadable.

              I have the greatest sympathy for people trying to monetize their writing (when they’re actual writers with the training and hard work behind them, far from always the case) but at present it’s a pretty crappy and off-putting hodgepodge of strategies filling up web pages and, again, making many nearly unreadable.

              NC being an exception…..hence the tip box, which I should visit soon!

          1. Vatch

            Thank you! There’s one minor complication that I didn’t understand initially: I have to perform the search first, before I look for options. After searching and getting results, then I select “News” from the menu near the top of the screen.

            1. MoiAussie

              It’s a good hack, and here’s a way to avoid the narrowing caused by search.

              First, do a search for anything, then select news, then set the recency period.
              Now, change the search term to “” (empty string) and search again.
              Bingo, all the news for the selected period!

              If only there was an easy way to get more results per page.

              1. Vatch

                I think one must log into one’s google account to increase the results per page. Big nuisance.

      3. Kurt Sperry

        And it’s no longer possible to filter by recency or date range. A highly useful tool has vanished.

        On my computers, just below the search input box is a line with “All News Images Videos Books More Settings Tools” Select “Tools”, which will create two drop down menus titled “Any time” and “All results”. Click on “any time” and another drop down menu will appear giving multiple options of recency. I use this feature all the time when searching.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I believe that’s the generic search interface. If there’s a way to refine a news ( result by date, I can’t find it.

          Which is just so absurd.

          1. Kurt Sperry

            On my browser (Opera for Windows) the results page for a news search has the same options from “Tools” to the drop down menu that appears clicking on “Recent” as other results pages. The options are “Recent, Past hour, Past 24 hours, Past week, Past month, Past year, Archives, and Custom range”. I use these options a lot searching, a lot of times I want to focus on background stuff published prior to a recent news story and thus want to filter out recent results, or conversely want to only see results that are new. The system used isn’t perfect, producing both false negatives and false positives, but it at least consistently pares down the result pile to a more workable size.

      4. Ned

        And the crappification of Google Maps which used to show property lines when zoomed in to a neighborhood but no longer does.
        Makes it basically useless for looking at homes for sale.
        Apple maps is our new default.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          I downloaded Google Earth Pro, freeware that shows property lines, assessed values, number and types of rooms in structures, type of roof etc. I wouldn’t build a fence based on the data, but it is interesting to browse.

    2. Roger Smith

      So they can control the content you see and that they show! KaChing! It isn’t content control, it’s “personalization”… for you!

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I love the idea of a search engine that completely eliminates serendipity by showing only what I already know, or what an algorithm says I will wish to know.*

        It’s actually quite daring.

        * One of my biggest use cases for Google is finding articles I already know exist, in order to quite from them. In essence, I’m treating Google as an interface to a file system. Somehow, that’s not what I thought a search engine was for. I’d better shape up and go buy some of that Recommended stuff. We must all do our part!

      2. Massinissa

        I wonder if at some point they will base how good the information you get is on your income level. Because obviously poor people don’t deserve good information because they are ignorant. /s

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Another one of my worries. I like the hear the birds singing and they perch on the tops of my tomato frames, so I hate the idea of endangering them.

  2. duh

    is it ok to think “F**K you” as a response to “foul-mouthed, vituperative bloggers on the left”?

  3. Terry Flynn

    re Top destinations for Chinese.

    I confess I am surprised Australia hasn’t moved to the 2nd to top spot. When in Sydney (2009-2015) the ‘huge’ influx of Chinese, or ‘properties bought by Chinese’ were frequently in the news. Now, that doesn’t necessarily reflect realities. But I did observe the huge efforts of universities to recruit Chinese students – having a ‘western’ qualification was/is seen as hugely attractive (see the post yesterday regarding ‘real’ Chinese research in ‘real’ journals). Universities in Australia used undergraduates from the Indian subcontinent and China as a major cash-cow – and the govt saw opportunities for further cheap labour if these students stayed on, as many do. I didn’t have undergraduate teaching responsibilities but those who did were frankly horrified. A German colleague had to tell a native Chinese student he couldn’t give a reference in a million years as the student “couldn’t string a sentence together in English” and he couldn’t understand how such a student could possibly have passed the English language qualification that all non-native English speakers must pass before being considered on a degree course. Of course the universities now fund their top administrators and professors they have poached from the USA/UK (due to the enduring view that a ‘local’ expert can’t possibly be good enough internationally as otherwise they’d have gone to the USA/UK) via the fees from such undergrads.

    Now I know the undergrads are not to blame – they work hard, I routinely saw them doing long hours in local coffee shops using up precious time that in my time (1991-94) was spent writing essays, doing complex mathematical economics problems, preparing for seminars etc. But the system is devaluing higher education in order to ‘get money from the cash-rich countries in Asia’ to boost immigration, prop up the housing ponzi scheme and an academic system that chases metrics – I routinely attended faculty meetings to discuss the latest list of journals and their proposed ‘star rating’ for the purposes of national funding.

    This problem is not, incidentally, specific to Aus. I personally regard the ‘automatic MA’ I got from Cambridge 3 years after my BA as worth more than the ‘real MSc’ I got for doing a year-long course. Apart from a couple of specific courses (epidemiology) I did in the MSc I could have stayed in bed for the whole year, turned up and churned out some essays based on what I did in my BA and still got the MSc. Masters courses were much more dominated by non-UK students (who *paid* – and often a lot, particularly if from a non-EU country – to be accepted) and the financial implications were becoming apparent even back then, with students that European students thought “can’t possibly write the essays in the final exams to pass” but did.

    British universities are increasingly opening Chinese campuses and I suspect make a lot of cash from them – whether in the BREXIT uncertainty such students have an ‘easy route’ into the UK is now less certain. But it’s certainly an easy route to Australia….and I predict Aus will leapfrog the UK to 3rd place, and possibly Canada into 2nd place (though I’m not in a position to comment in any detail on the Canadian system).

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I suspect that as the survey was looking at high net worth individuals, they are thinking more of long term boltholes than the typical Chinese with an interest in moving abroad. Perhaps they are aware that if China nosedives, so does Australia and that is part of their thinking.

      Its not scientific, but I know a few Chinese with property investments in the UK and they are looking on Brexit with some bemusement (they think its nuts), but they haven’t seen it as something to alter their investment habits, they sort of assume the British will work something out.

    2. vlade

      My wife was doing an engineering degree at Imperial College in London half a decade back, and had quite a few Chinese co-students. They shared test question, assignements etc. quite shamelessly, and in plain sight of everyone. She even got asked to give these to them, and they (the Chinese students) were quite a bit upset when she said no.

      When I was doing an MBA at LBS, our only Chinese student was caught cheating on one of the exams, where she basically copied a published paper as the answer. After all the talk we had about cheating and how this will be published, she was just told to resubmit IIRC, although technically she should have been kicked out. But that would cost the school money..

      1. Terry Flynn

        Yeah I have heard lots of similar stories….I only deleted them from my draft post because I thought I was coming across as too ‘anti-Chinese’….but there is clearly a cultural thing and the Aussie uni I was at started making everyone attend a session to explain basic tenets of research (go to original sources, do the research yourself, don’t copy others, never quote without adequate referencing etc).

        Sadly all too often I heard the same story as you – cheaters are simply asked to resubmit, when they should be kicked out straightaway. But that would “look bad” in the statistics and reduce demand for the course/university in China.

        But what makes things (even more) depressing is that many of these basic tenets are getting dropped in academia dominated by ‘westerners’ – no proper literature reviewing, “citing your mates” rather than primary sources, and thereby building up a false body of research which deliberately cuts out the voices of competing groups….which is then relied upon by increasingly inexperienced editors and funding bodies in determining what is “good science” and what deserves further funding.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          My son is at Sydney University right now and confirms that this is a widespread and completely accepted practice, often one student in a class has any grasp at all of English or the subject and he/she passes around answers and papers etc. My son also mediates between Taiwanese and mainland students who have a hate – hate relationship that must be overcome to get projects done, he works harder than Henry K in between.
          That these students eventually get a passing grade is testimony to the grip China now has on Australia

      2. Enquiring Mind

        That Chinese student matter now would require some greater cultural sensitivity discussion, at least as a facade for the money issue.

        Maybe I’m too influenced by the Turchin social capital ideas, so off to self-imposed re-education camp for me.

      3. Synapsid

        vlade, Terry Flynn,

        It isn’t just Chinese. We encountered the same thing among Vietnamese students in Seattle. Not only was cheating on exams widespread but it was found that paying another Vietnamese student to take exams for you was so common that one young lady who was caught and told that she was on academic probation (and who worked in the office of the Dean of Instruction) began crying and asked “Why are you saying this to me? Everybody does it.”

      4. Adam Eran

        FYI, Jeffrey Race (author War Comes to Long An) laments that this willingness to cheat and have the cheat accepted is what degrades Thai schooling. Perhaps that’s the problem: the degrees are really markers of social status, not training in how to discover genuine information.

        Ironically, War Comes to Long An was a compilation of interviews Race did with the native populations (prisoners of war, defectors, villagers) during the Vietnamese war. Race learned Vietnamese on the boat over (seriously!) and was nearly alone in his interest in the actual situation rather than the “strategic hamlet” guidance for how to conduct the war.

        Why did the Vietnamese prevail over the mighty Americans? Says Race, because the U.S. was supporting the French colonial debt infrastructure, and the Vietnamese knew they would be debt peons if they let it stand.

        The irony is that the U.S. proclaimed itself an advocate of “freedom” yet ignored the choices of the population it was “freeing.” Even the vaunted U.S. schooling of those guiding the war discarded actual information when it didn’t suit their imperial wishes.

  4. visitor

    On the “Seven charts that show how the developed world is losing its edge “ by Martin Wolf:

    […] the sources of dynamism — technological change, productivity growth and globalisation — are slowing, to a worrying degree. One result, powerfully reinforced by the crisis, has been real income stagnation in many high-income countries.

    It has been convincingly demonstrated that globalisation, not a lack thereof, is (at least to a significant part) responsible for wage stagnation in developed countries.

    Among the most significant developments is flat or falling real incomes since the financial crisis. Up to two-thirds of the population of many high-income countries seem to have suffered flat or falling real incomes between 2005 and 2014.

    The stagnation and decrease of wages has been going on for much longer. At least since the early 1990s — when globalisation, technological change and productivity growth were in full swing.

    The collapse in the price of semiconductors is the driving force behind the revolution in communications and data processing.

    It is one of the driving forces. The collapse in the price of persistent storage has had at least as momentous an impact.

    The economist Robert Gordon has revealed that US productivity performance between 1920 and 1970 (as indicated by the growth of “total factor productivity” — a measure of the growth of output per unit of inputs) has not been matched since.

    The author possibly has a well-reasoned basis to compare a 50-years period to two 10-years, one 24-years and one 30-years, but it is not given. But the real information seems to be that the 1970-1994 and 2004-2014 productivity levels seem to constitute a return to historically normal ones, as indicated by the 1890-1920 data. It is the period 1920-1970 that may well be the outlier.

    1. flora

      Nowhere does Wolf mention manufacturing outsourcing from the rich, developed countries to China, starting in the 70’s with Nixon’s opening to China and accelerating in the 90’s with the “end” of the cold war and changes in US tax laws.

      “The ‘Great Divergence’… has gone into … rapid reverse.” – Wolf

      Send your technology, your engineering and manufacturing know-how out of the country. It should not be a surprise that your country begins slipping behind the country doing what your country once did.

      1. flora

        Clearly, the answer to this productivity problem is more austerity and more tax cuts for the 0.01%. /s

    2. mpalomar

      Wolf seems to be scratching his head and wondering why rubbing the globalization bottle doesn’t make the dynamism genie appear anymore. He doesn’t seem to acknowledge the possible negative effects of the corralling and near interminable locking up of intellectual property rights/patents through the so called free trade deals as an inhibitor on invention, innovation and competition. Or the evolution of the advanced industrial west into financialized economies where money makes money and little else. Or the effects of offshoring industry to ever cheaper labor markets or the devastation agri-industry unleashed upon developing world small farm peasantry by free trade treaties, a global redux of the rural exodus to urban factory and incidentally a pool of cheap labor to batter wages ever lower.

      1. Procopius

        I’m thinking there might be a lack of “tinkering” involved in the productivity slowdown, too. When I was a kid, for example, Popular Mechanics magazine used to have a monthly column. I don’t remember its actual name, but the main character was a mechanic who explained how to maintain and repair your car. People used to be able to see how the machines they used every day worked, and were able to figure out ways to make them work better. As stuff got more and more electronic and then digitalized, that became less possible. Now, of course, you have the movement to prevent owners from even trying to repair their own possessions through patents, copyrights, and Digital Rights Management. Of course this explanation is unlikely to be entirely true, because there was an uptick in productivity growth in the ’90s, but it seems to me to be correlated.

  5. RenoDino

    A despot in disguise: one man’s mission to rip up democracy

    Great piece. Thanks for the link.

    “The choice we face is between unfettered capitalism and democracy. You cannot have both.”

    Spoiler alert! The despots are winning, the opposition has been routed, and the system is being exported around the world.

  6. Emorej a Hong Kong

    Hard to believe that

    increas[ing] the number of people who are uninsured by 32 million

    would not indirectly reduce tax revenues, and increase epidemics, crime, etc. sufficiently to prevent the predicted

    reduc[tion in] federal deficits by $473 billion

    1. JTMcPhee

      ….and deficits are a concern, just why again? Remembering that the military “budget” (what a sick use of the word!) is a trillion a year, or “$10 trillion over 10 years” in the Bernaysified lingo of the Blob…

  7. Darius

    Chapo makes liberals squirm because liberals are supposed to be the victims and patsies. Chapo takes down the right and center effectively, and shows how easy it is, rather than whining about bipartisanship. Liberals don’t know how to handle it.

      1. montanamaven

        Sometimes a good dose of contempt might shake up the complacency of the conventional and thus provide a new playing field in which to practice the art of argument. Carl Beijer comments that liberals are always telling leftists “to bend the knee” i.e. vote for the lesser of two evils. But they don’t come out and just say “bend the knee”, they use passive aggressive techniques and phrases like coming together in “fraternity and sorority.” And “can’t we just be more civil?”

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          It’s particularly rich that liberal Democrats Heer and Chait are whining about dominance politics, when they themselves have been dominated so thoroughly by conservative Republicans.

          This is simply 2003’s hippie-punching all over again. It’s always OK to kick the left, and what liberals can’t stand (losing seems to be fine with them) is having the left kick back.

          Where were Heer and Chait when the Clinton campaign was erasing the votes of millions of young women by smearing Sanders supporters as #BernieBros? (And that wasn’t an example of political dominance games, except as played by the bourgeois feminists?)

          1. Richard

            I liked Beijer’s take on it, that the liberals ” share absolute power” with conservatives in this country. After all, even now with conservatives controlling so much of our elected government, the lion’s share of MSM shamelessly propagandizes for them. As much as the vituperative language, I think that liberals detest having that pointed out. Breach of civility, don’t you know.

  8. justanotherprogressive

    Re: Neoliberal article by Vice……
    Ah, yes, young men living the “dream”. As long as it works for them, they can rely on the ideology to ease their guilt and safely ignore those people for whom neoliberalism does not work…..

    1. DanB

      I enjoyed especially the young man who said he was a communist in high school and then added that Bernie was unacceptable because he campaigned from the “hard left.” As these interviewees are young I’ll not take what they say with a grain of salt; I’d like to hear their answers in five years.

    2. vidimi

      the interesting part was that each of them had views that were actually well to the left of actual policy, especially on health care.

  9. flora

    From the Guardian.
    “A Despot in disguise: one man’s mission to rip up democracy.” Monbiot

    “Any clash between “freedom” (allowing the rich to do as they wish) and democracy should be resolved in favour of freedom. In [James McGill Buchanan’s] book The Limits of Liberty, he noted that “despotism may be the only organisational alternative to the political structure that we observe.” Despotism in defence of freedom.

    “His prescription was a “constitutional revolution”: creating irrevocable restraints to limit democratic choice. Sponsored throughout his working life by wealthy foundations, billionaires and corporations, he developed a theoretical account of what this constitutional revolution would look like, and a strategy for implementing it.

    “The papers Nancy MacLean discovered show that Buchanan saw stealth as crucial. He told his collaborators that “conspiratorial secrecy is at all times essential”. Instead of revealing their ultimate destination, they would proceed by incremental steps. For example, in seeking to destroy the social security system, they would claim to be saving it, arguing that it would fail without a series of radical “reforms”. (The same argument is used by those attacking the NHS). Gradually they would build a “counter-intelligentsia”, allied to a “vast network of political power” that would become the new establishment.”

    There’s that word – “incremental” – again.

    1. montag

      What I find curious, and Monbiot should have known this, is that Buchanan was an advisor to Margaret Thatcher, and I’m fairly certain that it was from him that she got the line, “there’s no such thing as society.”

    2. a different chris

      >creating irrevocable restraints to limit democratic choice.

      Um, we have a practical version of that — it’s called the US Constitution. It’s prescriptions aren’t irrevocable but darn near (how long ago did we give up on the ERA?).

      Stalin would laugh so hard at these guys that vodka would snort out of his nose, because they are (power wise) just a different version of Trotsky — yeah, you may get what you think is your revolution but hey, enjoy your exile when real power jams itself into the gap.

  10. Jesus

    Re Miguel Blesa’s suicide of sorts, article by Vicent Partal (Catalan original. Improvised translation below):

    Yesterday we were all surprised by the news that the former president of Caja Madrid, Miguel Blesa, died, in theory a suicide by a shotgun shot in the chest. Miguel Blesa had been sentenced in February to six years in prison for unlawful appropriation in the case of the ‘black cards’ of Caja Madrid, but he had not yet entered prison, pending a final ruling.

    The debate over whether Blesa has committed suicide or not has opened inevitably. The official version is that he killed himself, but it is obvious that the circumstances of death are strange. And the suspicions grow even bigger if we take into account a fact that does not allow for discussions or speculation. Since the investigation on the corrupt plot of the PP began in the summer of 2009, ten people linked to criminal operations having to do with the financing of the PP or the enrichment of its members have surprisingly died . And if, in the beginning, little known people died, in recent months the deaths have been of great media and political impact: Rita Barberá and Miguel Blesa; And we could still add the former treasurer of PP Álvaro Lapuerta, in a coma since in 2013 he fell at home, after being accused in a case of corruption.

    But let’s put all this in context.

    The Catalan independence movement and the 15-M have encouraged, in recent years, the emergence of a discourse, of a critical analysis, on how the current Spanish state works; A discourse that has shattered stereotypes and has put on the table some of the most important keys to understanding what happens.

    The myth of the transition to democracy piloted by the Bourbon king has finally sunk. And the more information comes up about what actually happened then, and the more information we have about the reasons why the state has been managed as it has been managed, the general guidelines of the whole operation appear more clearly. More than a political project, Spain is an economic project. Specifically, a project of scandalous enrichment of some elites who have plundered the state, using it without any shame or prudence.

    A few years ago, Germà Bel wrote an indispensable book to understand everything: Spain. Capital city: Paris portrays the centralist obsession and the maneuvers made for decades to turn Madrid into a global economic centre, at the expense of economic and investment rationality. Now in the last issue of the magazine Eines, several authors do an x-ray of the reality of the state that goes even further and that could have been titled Spain. Capital city: Moscow . The comparison made by Oscar Pazos between Russian capitalism and Spanish capitalism and the drawing by Pedro Ramiro and Erika González [Spanish journalists] of the great Spanish economic power are as hurtful as shocking.

    Let’s put the data on the table. Speaking only of European funds, without counting the fiscal plundering [of Catalonia and the other Catalan/speaking regions], we find that Spain received, between 1985 and 2010, a package of 230,000 million euros net of European aid. If, in this amount, we subtract the Spanish contribution to the European Union, the result is a profit of 80,000 million euros in favor of Spain. In order to put it in context, the Marshall Plan contributed EUR 58,000 million to Europe. That is, Spain alone has received more money from the European Union than all Western Europe received from the United States after World War II. A lot of money.

    Of this amount – which, since 2010, has continued to increase but has not done so much as before -, 50% went to finance large public works. In theory, to modernise the state. If we look at it in detail, however, we find that many of these public infrastructures, in fact, make no economic sense (think of the absurd AVE network) or, above all, serve because some private companies make money through ill-conceived public works programs (think of the Castor case).

    The companies that have benefited from this deluge of millions are the emblems of Spanish capitalism. This ‘Spanish capitalism’ is mainly the great builders (ACS, Acciona, Sacyr, OHL, Ferrovial and FCC), who have devoured public money with an insatiable hunger. And also the big companies that act with regulated prices that depend on the government (Telefónica, Endesa, Repsol, Iberdrola and Gas Natural), exploiting the citizens with prices out of any logic. And two banks backing/fronting for them (Santander and BBVA, with CaixaBank [biggest Catalan bank] trying to catch up with the other two. And that’s it. Apart from that, large Spanish companies are reduced to hotel chains and a couple of textile corporations. Nothing more.

    The mental thread that unites this panorama and Franco’s “developmentalism” is very evident -constructors, tourism and public regulation-. Between 1940 and 1960, projects related to the construction of large infrastructures were the most direct way to favor entrepreneurs closer to the Franco regime. At the moment of the transition, according to the data of the historian Emmanuel Rodriguez, two hundred families controlled one third of the total of the shares listed on the stock exchange. The liberalisation that accompanied the entrance to the European Union meant a change in the environment, but mostly by adding the sphere of the agents of the political parties to the traditional families. This has been demonstrated by the fact that nearly 40% of the ministers of the democratic period have subsequently been incorporated into the directions of large private companies. And they have used the political lever to try to create mega companies, of which Caja Madrid is a very paradigmatic example. The return for this, of course, is corruption.

    And this mixture gives birth to the current situation. In Spain, politics and economics are mixing at levels impossible to find in any other European state. In fact, politics is used to maintain economic privileges – the only explanation to understand that the PP continues to be voted, despite its enormous corruption, is that it knows how to make use of Spanish nationalism [as an affirmation against the Catalans] as a shield. And where the political sphere does not reach, the means of the State are brought to work, privatised and put to the service of a party and an idea, be it the courts or the police. Anything goes to keep going a model of state that, above all, is a huge business for a few.

    Therefore, Spain has made incredible economic decisions that can only be understood in this context. For example, it gave sixty billion euros to the banks for their rescue, without demanding anything in return. Compare that with what happened in the Netherlands, where the government injected ten billion euros to rescue ING, and the money has recovered with interest, so that the Dutch government has made six billion out of the operation.

    Now, the happy model (remember when Solchaga [Socialist Finance minister in the late eighties] said that Spain was the place in the world where you could get rich the most easily?) has gone into a crisis for several reasons, among which the most important is the global financial situation. And suddenly, Spain, and the tribe that guides it, is in a dramatic situation, with a shooting and already unpayable debt, with accumulated [pension] reserve funds that are already over [drawn upon heavily since 2010] and with the core of the powers that be between a rock and a hard place because of the accusations of corruption and because the public opinion no longer turns a blind eye to all their doings. Everything that for years was money flying happily from one box to another has now become specific and direct threats, by specific people to specific people [the Spanish government is threatening Catalan politicians with jail and heavy fines of millions of Euros for trying to organise a referendum on the independence of Catalonia], that make progressively more visible the irreparable rottenness of the Spanish state. And, by the way, all this is less than three months from the showdown of the main challenge that his State has ever had to deal with, namely, [a decisive push towards] the independence of Catalonia.

    And this is the context that explains the nerves of yesterday, and that could also explain the possible desperate decisions [that the Spanish government may make in the next few weeks], which would be telling in and of themselves. I am sorry for the lengthy text, but a good explanation requires context, necessary to show things clearly.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Thank you for that, Jesus. It would appear that the same disease processes infect most of the world’s political economies. “Irreparable rottenness,” on the way to “independence,” which in all the history I have read pretty much invariably leads to just another set of thugs and grifters “rising to the top” and reducing everything to their personal property, on which they can collect rents and play the great game of Corruption. Which, as you read here at NC, is defined locally as “converting public goods to private ownership.”

      Of course that assumes that there was or is any such category as “public goods” that can be “converted.” Since most of the modern world’s population assumes that EVERYTHING has to be “owned” by someone, and most of us go busily about trying to acquire ownership (and “consumption”) of as much as we can manage, using such skills and baselines of birth and advantages as we are “blessed” with… Ask the Rain Forest indigenes, and large pelagic fish like tuna, and those inoffensive “manganese nodules” lying about unconverted to profit on the deep sea floor,, how it works…

    2. HBE

      Thank you! The internal dynamics and history behind them were completely unknown to me.

      Count me as a +1 for hoisting and further analysis.

  11. Alex Morfesis

    Is putins russia a threat ?? Bwahahahahahaha….let us discuss specific tactics putin would use to take riga…first he would insist his military invade during rush hour for maximum effect…

    Russia’s 250 available tanks…would…get…unnoticed amongst latvias 875,000 vehicles(675,000) passenger cars…

    Yeah…that’s right…the most number of tanks available to deploy would be half of Russia’s tank for west of the urals…

    For most Americans fed hitlery channel nonsense of how the nazis would have won the war if venus was in jupiter with neptune in retrograde…

    WW2 was fought in a world full of horses and donkeys…no one has used tanks in a modern urban environment…or as the turkish coup clowns quickly found out, tanks are great for a parade…not so nice when people get a bit aggravated about the notion of someone taking their freedoms away…

    When the globalonizationists uncorked finance after nixon pulled back the curtain and showed there was not and never had been any gold behind anything in the summer of 71, eventually the system we have today discourages discooperatives from making any major adjustments to the silly and sad frameworks established in San Francisco in the spring of 1945…

    Even if putin somehow brought back from the dead another 5000 tanks…still lost amongst 675,000 cars…and there is no way he would deploy them all at once and leave himself vulnerable in other areas…

    He couldn’t get half way to riga…and we forget one other thing…

    He could not convince his own people to fight for Chechnya…within his own borders…why does anyone imagine he can convince his people latvia is a threat…???

    1. JTMcPhee

      Tank you for that… Tanks a lot! Opening a rant opportunity for me!

      Here’s just one video of tanks “deploying” in what used to be a “modern urban environment,” before rubblization — Lots more videos where that one came from. Of course there are other videos that show the horror that goes along with how “the playing field gets leveled” by “introduction” of guided antitank weapons, and even lucky hits by cheap RPGs, and Amazing Footage of crazy-brave individual “rebels” (sic- should be warbanders) running up to T-72s and shoving hand grenades down the barrel of the main gun, or tossing a satchel charge up on the engine deck close to the turret ring… All this is going on “as we speak,” in many places, not just the “active” city-scapes in Syria and Iraq… The Israel ites have used tanks very effectively in “mowing the lawn” in what’s left of the Palestinian areas…

      1. Procopius

        Heck, that’s old stuff. Back in 1966 I met a Green Beret sergeant at the language school. He was learning Spanish to be assigned to some mission in South America where we weren’t supposed to be, but he was Ukrainian. In World War II he had been an SS-Sturmscharführer (SS-Assault platoon leader), platoon leader of a Waffen-SS anti-tank platoon. He was proud of the fact that he did not lose a single man from his platoon, and what they did was jump up on the rear deck of a panzer and hang a satchel charge on one of the projections on the turret, pull the pin, and jump back off. By the way, few Americans know where the Green Berets came from — they were anti-soviet Eastern Europeans, often Nazis, recruited by the promise of American citizenship and erasure of any inconvenient war crimes. The thing was, they spoke the language of the places where they were to organize guerilla warfare.

      1. Alex Morfesis

        Ah…yes…if we include decommissioned rust buckets “in reserves” we can come up with a big bad number”…methinx there be 6 series of usable russian tanks…t-55; t-62; t-64; t-90(a); t-80; & t-72(*)

        Of these, from my useless info, only the t-90(a) @ 350 tanks; t-80 @ 450 tanks & t-72 @ 1900 tanks are actually active and available…

        In “reserves” (rustbuckets) are:

        T-55 @ 2800
        T-62 @ 2500
        T-64 @ 2000
        T-90 @ 200
        T-80 @ 3000
        T-72 @ 7000

        Having to cover basically almost half the globe as the undisputed largest country in the world (11 now reduced to 9 time zones ?)…

        It must keep at least 200 tanks to deal with north korean issues…

        another 800 to deal with china

        Another 300 for internal control purposes (don’t want anymore Chechnya issues)

        200 in case georgia flared up again…

        250 to deal with any further issues with ukraine…

        500 tanks as a deterrent to try to slow down any nato/turkish/greckos issues with 3500 nato tanks sitting on the southern flank

        Leaving 450 tanks west of the urals

        Committing 250 tanks to try to get to riga leaves 200 tanks to defend against a counter attack…

        Most Tanks move as fast as a hacked golf cart…

        Suspect my argument is best made not just about numbers but the uselessness…

        if the intention is to use them as demolition machines to destroy infrastructure against a bunch of semi nomadics, then they are fine…but they have not been used for the same reason icbm’s are not used…they don’t produce as well as they are made to appear by leaving details on the cutting room floors…

        Tsipras has more available tanks to play with in the European theatre (west of the urals) than raz-putin…

  12. Softie


    A few years ago I happened to meet some local North Koreans who defected via China to South Korea and eventually immigrated to the US with help from some South Koreans.

    None of them liked the way of life in South Korea where money is the sole purpose of life. They see they are totally different from South Koreans because they have totally different value systems. And they hate life here in the US for the same reasons, and the they cherish their memories of North Korea, but they simply just can’t go back. Some wished they had never defected.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Sounds like my great grandmother, who never cared for the United States and missed the Old Country for the rest of her life.

      1. Procopius

        I believe that’s the experience of lots of immigrants. Especially as they grow older. One of the reasons I believe I’m weird. I don’t miss anything about the U.S.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Many Eastern Europeans and Russians have fond memories of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact.

      Over there, in the 60s, their young people, who represented their future, plenty of them, wanted the Western lifestyle of rock, long hair, blue jeans, etc.

      Looking back, it seems, even in the West, it was peer pressure (only a few strong ones still style their hair – what’s left – long), and CIA propaganda those young people bought into for their countries’ futures. And the allure of free sex, which, to almost all men, meant and still means, free love (love is sex, and sex is love, to them, or us…almost forgot to include myself).

      They failed to listen to their elders* who survived the Great-Patriotic-War while 26 millions of their compatriots died fighting fascists…and many other against capitalists earlier.

      *In some countries, elder people believe they have made enough mistakes to share the lessons with the young…to teach them.

      In other countries, the young are pandered to, or rather, the belief is that young people, hormone-enraged, many-mistakes-in-life-still-awaiting young people, represent change. They are accorded a special status (when being courted for votes, or when being exploited, for example, through car/mortgage/student loans), so that (the special status)

      1. College should be free, free of payment when registering for a class, and free of monthly payment even not using it; whereas Medicare-for-all is usually not free of doctor’s visit payment, nor free of monthly premium payment.

      2. Student debt should be forgiven, but not medical debt (unless someone reasonable is reminded, but 99% of the time, only student debt jubilee is mentioned, alone).

      Sometimes, you wonder, why do they spend all that propaganda, or marketing money on the young? Is it

      A. Young people are more immune to bad ideas than older people, thus more money must be spent to get them to accept, and less money, for older people take to bad ideas quickly?


      B. Young people have proven they are easier to be brainwashed, thus they deserve the reward of more propaganda?

      The question is related to whether we can afford to under-estimated our opponents to be stupid, or are our overlords greedy, and not stupid, but in fact, smart or can employ very smart people.

      (I believe this to be one version of the story of the past 100 years one is likely to encounter travelling there).

      1. flora

        an aside:

        Wonder how many of the men who believed in “free love” grew up to believe in “free markets?”

        1. Oregoncharles

          Good question, but I can assure you, it wasn’t only men.

          In fact, the real difference was in and for women; “free love” was always acceptable to men, unless religious. In the 60s and 70s, women adopted it, too, as an option – and last I heard, still do, although the attendant courtship rituals haven’t changed much.

          Of course, all that depends on contraceptive technology and antibiotics.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        I don’t think propaganda was the great problem.

        Structurally, the Soviets had an age problem. The Party and state were largely run by the same hires from the 50’s who never left. By the time of Gorbachev, the USSR was running into a system where it had no way to handle mass death/retirement given their age and drinking habits, leaving no one at the reins of power with interest in the state. Institutional rot was the story of the Soviet Union. Yeltsin was a kid by Soviet standards. Soviet elites didn’t invest in Soviet society and the creation of political institutions and the ability to hand over power while maintaining the system. The Politburo made it clear new generations weren’t welcome. All the cool coca-cola commercials in the world couldn’t achieve what the Soviets did.

        The Democrats have a similar problem. By protecting the Clintons and Obama personalities at all costs, they pulled up entrance to the party keeping the young people out, leaving them with no bench and a liberal/left youth that has no interest in the Democratic Party. When Maxine Waters is the face of the “#resistance”, its a decrepit party.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          At the end, post-Glasnost, it was those younger ex-communist pioneers who wanted to party like their Western counterparts, fervently to be rich like their Western counterparts, together with the worst of human nature we all inherit, who excelled at all the looting under Yeltsin.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Structurally, the Soviets had an age problem. The Party and state were largely run by the same hires from the 50’s who never left.

          Peoliskaya, Schumervich, Bidenski… All up there on the reviewing stand in the winter with their fur hats and be-medalled uniforms…

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I don’t even mean just the reviewing stand, but the people with the entry level/lower jobs which represented the state or the party were old too or maneuvered their kids into those spots. Those people came in after each round of purges, usually as veterans of the great patriotic war. 1948 was a big round of new Soviet hiring. 25 year olds became 65 year olds.

            There wasn’t a broad based population invested in the Soviet Union, really invested. They voted to keep it, but Yeltsin couldn’t have pulled his bs on a healthier society.

  13. Jim Haygood

    Tech parties like 1999:

    Tech stocks broke a nearly two-decade-old record Wednesday. The S&P 500’s information technology sector ended the day at 992.29, closing above its previous all-time high of 988.49 set in March 2000 at the peak of the dot-com bubble.

    Tech stocks are by far the best-performing among the index’s 11 sectors this year, up 23% after posting their ninth consecutive day of gains on Wednesday.

    A minor twist is that the largest S&P 500 technology sector ETF, symbol XLK, also holds four telecoms: the big dogs AT&T and Verizon, along with second-tier players Century Link and Level 3.

    Historically this happened because the telecom sector was too small to stand alone with only a handful of members. It is about to shrink to only three members as CenturyLink plans to buy Level 3 [advice to Level 3 subscribers: RUN!]

    The big, anencephalic telcos are a drag on the triumphal tech sector, but not enough to worry about it. One can always hedge them out by overweighting Netflix [kidding — don’t do it!].

    1. Jim Haygood

      Today the US dollar index (ticker symbol DXY) is hovering at a 12-month low. Its big pop after Trump’s election has been reversed, and then some. Chart:

      A depreciating currency corresponds to easier monetary conditions. A weaker dollar makes domestic producers more competitive, while driving up the dollar price of foreign goods.

      Fedguv Lael Brainerd spoke about this nine days ago:

      “[A] country that chooses to rely solely on the balance sheet for tightening experiences a depreciation of its exchange rate and an increase in net exports.”

      Doubtless she’s taking a victory lap round the Eccles Building today, high-fiving everyone except Stanley Mellon Fischer, who frowned with annoyance. “Am I good, or what?” Lael cackled, pumping her fist in the air.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Apparently, YogaWorks IPO pulled due to valuation concerns.

        The be-spiritual (or live-long)-and-get-rich reward has to be postponed for now.

        1. craazyboy

          I think the “inch worm rising to arching cow looking upwards” had everyone concerned.

  14. justanotherprogressive

    The end of cash, the end of freedom…….
    Yep, when I store my possessions in my neighbor’s house, I can only get to them when my neighbor lets me…….and I’d better go along with whatever my neighbor wants……

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Congress shall coin money (for the people to spend into existence*).

      Based on that, I assume money shall include coins.

      *To be affirmed by the Supreme Court.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          French court refers ‘right to be forgotten’ dispute to top EU court Reuters

          “Right to use cash” will have to be decided by the courts worldwide, I think.

    2. andyb

      Don’t know how many heard the news about the hours long shutdown of Bank of America. Can’t know for sure, but it seems that this could have been a Beta test to see how the public would respond; same as the martial law in Waltham, Ma after the Boston Marathon. We could see more of these “tests” until the Great Economic Implosion that destroys liquidity and credit denying access to money and food.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Might be good to start a local currency, just so you have something to fall back on. They use cash – fiat, by general consensus.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow WaPo. Because it’s been so successful… Do note the qualifier in the lead: “President Trump has decided to end the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels….”

    Is this considered Obama’s Day of Infamy when it first started, covertly (admits WaPo) by the last regime and his junta generals, or was there a declaration by Congress?

    1. justanotherprogressive

      Now why would you assume that Congress had anything to do with this? After all it was just a business arrangement – selling guns and training. And of course Trump is going to end it, not for any concern about what is going in Syria, but because it’s just not making money…….or maybe just not as much money as some agreement with Russia could….

    2. Jim Haygood

      On July 18th the Z site posted an article titled “Murder Of Green Berets In Jordan Exposed Secretive CIA Syria Program Details.” Excerpts:

      The [murder of three Green Berets by a Jordanian soldier] and subsequent attempts at cover-up just as Obama was leaving office enraged both the families of the slain and the US special forces community.

      It threatened to blow wide open the CIA’s illegal Syrian regime change operation, called Timber Sycamore, which involved American special ops soldiers being tasked with training so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels in Jordan and Turkey as part of an inter-agency program.

      American trainers of Syrian rebels (in Jordan and elsewhere) belonging to the Army’s 5th Special Forces Group had been tasked with assisting a CIA covert mission, but they knew full well that they were being ordered by the Obama administration to train jihadists and ISIS sympathizers in the push to topple the Syrian government. They warned blowback was coming as the CIA was violating America’s own counter-terror laws.

      The legalities in arming groups which are designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations by the State Department are murky and complicated. If the orders are written the “right” way and lawyers are in sync at the White House and Department of Justice, they can be signed off on.

      Got that? The wholly illegitimate funding of terrorists by Airman Obama’s de facto executive branch dictatorship didn’t need no stinkin’ parliamentary assent. John Brennan, Hillary Clinton and Eric Holder add, “And we helped!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I can’t imagine Adm Yamamoto sending Hawaii-Independence movement pilots to fly those Zeros into the Pearl Harbor to attack those who they claimed or believed were terrifying the native islanders who desired to be in the Co-Prosperity Ring.

        That would be infamous and just too 11th dimensional, something a marketing department prone to perfidy might come up with.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            They did at least try to put make-up on their Day of Infamy, and gave the Poles a few hours to prepare for the show.

            “Diplomatic protocol and etiquette”

  16. MoiAussie

    Netanyahu will ‘shrivel and disappear’ if no change in attitude (Politiko)

    The headline I thought I read, or rather, I wished I’d read.

    Why can’t the israelis just get the indictment underway and rid us of this meddlesome figure?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Too many Likudniks. If the conservative nuts in Israel turn on Bibi, it will because there is a palpable sense of blood in the water where everyone can safely get a promotion or Bibi represents a large scale threat to the party that extends beyond Bibi.

      It’s like predictions of how Trump would destroy the GOP every other week last year and this year.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Likudniks — the end stage of identity politics. And one dares not mention the deep corruption that this set fosters and wallows in…

        Do a search for “Likud corruption Israel” for a whole lot more — a whole host of little and large incidents and examples.

        Let us not forget that these folks interpenetrate and conduct deep espionage on all “our” most sacred secrets, and control whole important swathes of “US policy.” And one has to hope that there are circuit-breakers, military officers and others with some sense of decency and restraint, in the “chain of command” that connects Netanyahoo’s finger to the Israeli nuclear trigger, the one that controls something between 200 and 600 nuclear weapons…

    1. Jim Haygood

      What The Nation calls a “fringe fantasy” is a federal structure designed by the framers of the Constitution. The House was chosen by the People, the Senate by the States. Without a direct role of the states in the Congress, it isn’t federal anymore. After 1913 the states become mere departments (as in centrally-ruled France) or prefectures (as in centrally-ruled Japan).

      Whether a reversion to an actual federal government would reverse the decline of this dying military empire is uncertain. But it’s worth a try.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Yah, JIm, might be worth it for you, in your version of the universe. But given how little voice any of us ‘citizens’ has already in the process of setting policy, and how corrupt and venal the various state governments have become thanks to folks like the Kochs and their “intercession,” and all the bits and pieces of processes and incentives that have all of us living in a “dying military empire,” this citizen cancels your vote for “worth a try.” The thing about dying empires is that the carrion-eaters and other wasting processes and actors will do what they do until the Empire is dead — no matter how “Senators” are brought to Congress — but then I bet you know that.

        Maybe we should all be plumping for a new Constitutional Convention? THAT would be a real Hail Mary… As if another piece of parchment with nice but different words favoring the rich and property over ordinary people would lead to any kind of halcyon future…

      2. Vatch

        This would actually distort the role of the states. Since many state legislative districts are heavily gerrymandered (usually in favor of Republicans, but not always), the choice of Senators would be skewed by the gerrymandering. Currently, gerrymandering has no direct effect on the election of Senators.

        Since the people who currently elect a particular Senator are all from the same state, the argument that the Senate fails to represent the states falls flat. But if popular election of Senators is eliminated, then the Senate will represent a warped version of the states.

    2. flora

      Thanks for this link. Every time someone seriously calls for a Constitutional convention to revoke the Electoral College I cringe. Do they ever consider the GOP controls over 30 state legislatures?

      Popular election of Senators was a good-government step pushed by the Progressives. It was designed to loosen the grip of the Trusts, the Corporations, and Big Finance from Congress. (Senators used to be informally referred to as ‘the Senator from [Big Funder. railroads, banks, etc]’.) It did loosen the grip just enough to get many more progessive laws passed. While it may seem we’ve already returned to those the old way de facto, I wouldn’t want it to become de jure.

        1. PhilK

          Dem estab replies, “We see you!”

          Which means they plan to look out the window next time they fly over.

  17. Steve H.

    So Trump was sworn in six months ago, and at the time I felt we wouldn’t know his agenda until we knew who he fired. I have been focusing on things I can change, and don’t have deep insight, but the main names are Flynn and Comey, plus some holdovers from the previous administration. Comey may have helped T during the election but was a habitual linestepper. Flynn seemed to have irritated Pence and thus affected the Koch money train.

    The kerfuffles have been Russia and healthcare, which sure look like big ol’ nothingburgers of no practical consequence, in the sense of initiatives. Russian interference seems far less than the political weight our putative allies throw around. On the plus side, we’re not in a shooting war with Russia, which is what my friends in the military were concerned about. And he gives no indication of stepping aside for Pence, which is good for Meggido.

    While the intelligence community and its allies still seems to have problems, he hasn’t upset the systemic applecart, and is functioning excellent well as the talking gorilla who draws focus from the real issues. Not so much what he’s done as what hasn’t happened. As Yves said in June: “Trump has yet to take control of the bureaucracy. Many many political appointment positions unfilled. He hasn’t even nominated people in most cases.”

    So it looks more like interelite competition with certain players being shut out. If personnel is policy, not filling the scarce niches means excluded elites are irritable, but the real action is out of the direct focus of the public eye.

    1. Vatch

      I partly agree and partly disagree, because Trump has actually appointed more people than the official record indicates. He has ensconced hundreds of “temporary” appointees in numerous departments and agencies, and they are influencing policy. Many of them have become permanent. Here’s an article from April about this:

      Former lobbyists and corporate consultants who are now in key positons overseeing government regulations can be found across dozens of federal agencies, ProPublica and The New York Times found in an analysis of government records.

      1. Steve H.

        Thanks, the chart at the top here makes clear this administration is using a different methodology than the four previous presidents. And going through that list.. Oh, yeah, Rick Perry! And those temp appointments don’t make the fine list that WaPo is putting up, these aren’t the metrics you’re looking for.

  18. JTMcPhee

    There is now a clear economietrical explanation for why CEOs and other C-Suite-ers take such huge chunks of “compensation” (sic):

    “CEO Pay and the Lake Wobegon Effect,”

    We all remember Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and the children are all above average…

    (Note that the lead author is actually Rachel M. Hayes, so credit where it is due for this masterpiece of economathematication…)

    1. Jim Haygood

      “This is a step in the wrong direction and I urge the Department of Justice to reconsider,” Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner said in a statement. “Expanding forfeiture without increasing protections is, in my view, unconstitutional and wrong.”

      Sensenbrenner is a thoroughgoing fascist who introduced the USA PATRIOT Act [de facto martial law].

      When you’ve lost Sensenbrenner …

  19. Arizona Slim

    About McCain’s brain cancer:

    The story noted that it’s the same type of cancer that took the life of Ted Kennedy. And, given McCain’s advanced age and less than robust health, I predict a similar outcome within a year.

    Now, let’s look at the political side of things. There are quite a number of AZ pols who, shall we say, are making hush-hush plans to run for McCain’s Senate seat. Here is my list of Democrats to watch:

    Pamela Powers Hannley. A first-term member of the Arizona House who ran as an unabashed progressive with a Clean Elections campaign.

    Steve Farley. Longtime state senator who is running for governor. I wouldn’t put it past him to try for a DC seat.

    Raul Grijalva. He’s been in the US House of Representatives for a decade and a half. Could this be his opportunity to make a move to the other side of the Capitol?

    And don’t count these guys and gals out:

    Richard Carmona
    David Garcia
    Terry Goddard
    Matt Heinz
    Felicia Rotellini
    Jonathan Rothschild
    Greg Stanton

    1. Vatch

      I am not a physician or a biologist. Now that we have that out of the way: I’ve seen some articles that indicate a ketogenic diet has helped some people (and mice) to extend their survival after being diagnosed with glioblastoma:



      Brain tumors and diet in general:

      So who knows? McCain might survive longer than the predictions.

      1. craazyboy

        He’d probably not be functional, still. Brains are hard to fix.

        I would be more worried about the Brain Trust at Raytheon. They probably have a bevy of well funded puppets on the bench.

      2. WobblyTelomeres

        I suspect he’ll be given some immunotherapy drug similar to Jimmy Carter, perhaps even the same drug (pembrolizumab/Keytruda).


        Glioblastoma, the most aggressive primary brain tumor, thrives in a microenvironment of relative immunosuppression

        Other than that, it looks pretty grim. Radiation, chemo, surgery, etc. with no improvement in outcome. Might as well try leeches and opium.

    2. newcatty

      As an Arizonan, I am grateful that we finally will not have McCain as a U.S. senator. I am not glad for the way it is manifesting, but am happy for an end to his era. In Arizona it seems that old guard Repugnants sometimes have to go out with their cowboy boots on ( which most only wear when sitting in review boxes or as “celebrities” in rodeo parades…instead of a lot of our finest military vehicles, we get all nostagic and have horses and wagons on display). Bet John wore his at his estate in Sedona…good to walk in the redrock dirt.

      I am hoping and actually am optmistic that one of the democrats you mentioned will have a shot. If we can get out the vote for him or her, it can happen. Yes, Virginia, there really are more progressives in Arizona.

    3. blennylips

      Yes. About that brain cancer…

      Arizona, what do you know about the “KAFB jet fuel plume”?

      Is it “The Environmental Disaster You’ve Never Heard Of“?

      The KAFB jet fuel spill—the Air Force calls it a “leak”—is the largest toxic contamination of an aquifer in US history, and it could be twice the size of the Exxon Valdez disaster. And that’s bad enough, but it’s the good news compared to what follows.

      Been leaking since the early 50s:

      For comparison’s sake, the KAFB spill is larger than the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, which dumped more than 12 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound

      I just learned of it through a reddit item today:

      Mr. Slim, how accurate is this redditeer? They’re worried about the ethylene dibromide.

      Rule #2 is not about waiting for us to go die, me thinks.

  20. Vatch

    The House voted Wednesday to streamline the federal permitting process for a variety of oil and natural gas pipelines.

    Lawmakers voted 248-179 on the Promoting Interagency Coordination for Review of Natural Gas Pipelines Act, a bill by Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) to designate the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as the lead agency for interstate gas pipeline permitting and require other agencies to coordinate with FERC and conduct simultaneous reviews.
    To the GOP, the bills fit within the theme of the week: removing barriers — environmental or otherwise — to production, transportation and use of domestic fossil fuels and other sources of energy.

    But Democrats objected, saying the pipeline bills would exacerbate climate change by encouraging fossil fuel use, and that they would shortcut the environmental review process.

    Only one Republican voted against the bill: Leonard Lance of New Jersey. Thirteen Democrats voted in favor of reducing or eliminating environmental reviews of pipelines, along with nearly all of the Republicans. Roll call vote:

    Here’s contact information so you can thank or criticize your Representative:

    1. allan

      Why let the fossil fuel folks have all the fun?

      Congressional Republicans unveil bills to bar class-action rules [Reuters]

      Republicans in the U.S. Congress are moving quickly to try to eliminate a new regulation that bars financial firms from forcing consumers into arbitration to settle disputes.

      Top lawmakers in both the House and Senate introduced bills on Thursday to repeal the rule, finalized this week by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

      The regulation bars financial companies from including language in their contracts that bans class-action lawsuits by consumers. Republicans long critical of the CFPB argued it amounts to an unfair and overly broad intrusion into business practices that ultimately hurts consumers. …

      Oddly, these self-proclaimed disciples of Ayn Rand don’t consider the warrantless gathering of call,
      email and web metadata, and then gagging the telecoms from informing their customers,
      to be an “overly broad intrusion into business practices that ultimately hurts consumers.”
      Go figure.

      1. Alex Morfesis

        Tovarich, ayn rand is most successful long term stalin kgb agent…no need for 11 dimensional chess, simple Machiavelli goodenuf…

      2. Vatch

        This book is relevant to this topic:

        The Myth of the Litigious Society: Why We Don’t Sue, by David M. Engel. I haven’t read it, but probably a few commenters here have read it. From the publisher’s blurb:

        Why do Americans seem to sue at the slightest provocation? The answer may surprise you: we don’t! For every “Whiplash Charlie” who sees a car accident as a chance to make millions, for every McDonald’s customer to pursue a claim over a too-hot cup of coffee, many more Americans suffer injuries but make no claims against those responsible or their insurance companies. The question is not why Americans sue but why we don’t sue more often, and the answer can be found in how we think about injury and personal responsibility.

        With this book, David M. Engel demolishes the myth that America is a litigious society. The sobering reality is that the vast majority of injury victims—more than nine out of ten—rely on their own resources, family and friends, and government programs to cover their losses. When real people experience serious injuries, they don’t respond as rational actors. Trauma and pain disrupt their thoughts, and potential claims are discouraged by negative stereotypes that pervade American television and popular culture. (Think Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad, who keeps a box of neck braces in his office to help clients exaggerate their injuries.) Cultural norms make preventable injuries appear inevitable—or the victim’s fault. We’re taught to accept setbacks stoically and not blame someone else. But this tendency to “lump it” doesn’t just hurt the victims; it hurts us all. As politicians continue to push reforms that miss the real problem, we risk losing these claims as a way to quickly identify unsafe products and practices. Because injuries disproportionately fall on people with fewer resources, the existing framework creates a social underclass whose needs must be met by government programs all citizens shoulder while shielding those who cause the harm.

        It’s time for America to have a more responsible, blame-free discussion about injuries and the law. With The Myth of the Litigious Society, Engel takes readers clearly and powerfully through what we really know about injury victims and concludes with recommendations for how we might improve the situation.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          They have a simple law around the world that keeps the worst waste-of-time lawsuits at bay: the loser pays the winner’s legal costs.
          It’s one thing for the slimeball to keep 1/3rd of the judgement if he wins and no fee if he loses, it’s another when you might be on the hook for a gazillion of you lose

  21. Brindle

    re: HBO War Drama ‘Confederate’

    I’m guessing there will be Southern “executives” (plantation owners) who are actually nice guys and who make a sincere effort to treat their slaves with some dignity.

    —“The drama chronicles the events leading to the Third American Civil War. The series takes place in an alternate timeline, where the Southern states have successfully seceded from the Union, giving rise to a nation in which slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution. The story follows a broad swath of characters on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone — freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate and the families of people in their thrall.”—

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The basic problem is the time limit on slavery as effective would have run out as an economic force. It couldn’t make it to today especially with competition for export products from European colonial possessions.

      Turtledove borrowed too liberally from European history to make his alternate history series really work especially in the WW I and WW II ones, but he had Longstreet end slavery in the CSA to maintain his alliance with Britain and France. For CSA blacks, it was basically like jumping from the end of slavery to a particularly loathsome version of Jim Crow in rural areas for the whole South.

      To make any accurate slaveholding fiction, it would be important to portray slaveholders as BELIEVING they are “nice guys.” Im reminded of the diaries where slaveowners were appalled the “property they treated like family” celebrated when the Union troops helped burn down the manor. There are very few Hitlers and Lex Luthors. The Nazis needed Oscar Schindler after all. If they all drooled and ranted all the time, how would they have made it into government? The more loathsome types hide in plain site because of associations with more respectable types.

      1. Brindle

        Tom Hanks would be ideal as a slaveholder—his essential understated humanity would smooth over the reality of slavery.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          If I recall Geordi LaForge said his favorite part of “Roots” was the decision to cast recognizable, good guy character actors as the slave masters and owners as it would give the audience an introduction to the shocking normalcy of slavery. Casting people who played villains as slave owners wouldn’t shock the audience or would be no different than having the slave owners played by the same guys who play Nazis or desperadoes John Wayne has to stop.

        2. Carolinian

          I seriously doubt the slave owners will be depicted as nice guys.

          Just to add that this sounds like a terrible premise for a TV series–right up there with the high concept The Leftovers. HBO has some big hits like Thrones and The Sopranos and more than their share of dogs.

      2. JohnnyGL

        Don’t forget the environmental consequences, too. Cotton production abused the land almost as much as the people. Productivity was in decline and the plantation system needed new lands to start again after they’d wrecked the land they were on in the deep south.

        As I understand, this was the big driver of the belief that if slavery didn’t expand westward, it was doomed (to falling productivity from exhausted land).

        Now, could the plantation owners have hung in there until the creation of chemical fertilizer from the Haber-Bosch process?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I think soil exhaustion is a “lost cause” alibi; see the work of Edward Baptist, who treats slavery from a financial perspective (at NC).

          And the Slave Power wanted expansion for good ol’ imperial reasons; see the work of Matt Karp, also at NC.

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            Soil exhaustion is very real. As the owner of 1/2 acre of former cotton field, it is truly a thing. My wife ran into the house shouting with joy when she found her first earthworm (after years of soil amendments).

        2. Propertius

          I think you’re assuming a victorious Confederacy would have remained primarily agricultural. I’m not sure that would have been true. An industrialized CSA using slave labor in factories would probably be the “offshoring” destination of choice for US firms seeking to reduce labor costs. No unions. No demands for an 8 hour day. No workmen’s comp. No unemployment insurance or social security. And, of course, incredible savings in transportation costs from having your products made by slaves in Mississippi vs. slaves in Bangladesh or China.

          There would, of course, be a huge underclass of unemployed and propertyless but “free” whites – I think that might have turned out rather badly in the long run.

      3. Carolinian

        They made that movie–Gone With the Wind. When Rhett tells the gung ho southerners they will lose to the north his reservations were about the superior industrial power of the north, not about slavery. The movie depicts slavery as a paternalistic system.

        Interestingly while Margaret Mitchell and GWTW are popular tourist attractions for Atlanta the black leadership when I lived there was very unenthusiastic about the movie and book. I wonder why.

      4. Plenue

        I don’t know if it would have lasted all the way until today, but one of the major points that Edward Baptist hammers away at repeatedly in The Half Has Never Been Told is that the idea that slavery was inherently less efficient than wage labor and would sooner or later die a natural death is a fraudulent Northern meme. And it’s been a meme since before the Civil War even happened. It was a lie people who opposed slavery told themselves to justify never taking overt action. The reality is that slavery was completely competitive with wage labor, and in fact could be more efficient. When you make someone do something all day, every day, for their entire life, they get really, really good at it. And the constant threat of the whip or breaking up their family provides wonderful motivation.

        Slavery wouldn’t have just faded away, there’s a reason a literal war had to be fought to abolish it. Turtledove’s alternate history is completely absurd. The CSA not only wouldn’t abolish slavery, for any reason, it couldn’t even if it had leaders who wanted to. Slavery is literally the entire reason the Confederacy even existed; it’s enshrined in the Confederate Constitution (so much for states rights: you literally couldn’t be in the Confederacy if you didn’t allow slavery). There were plans to expand slavery, not just into California and other newly American territories, but there were also Confederate visions of annexing Mexican and Caribbean territory and creating a vast slave holding empire.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      And Daniel Sliva’s series of novels featuring a very human Israeli spy and assassin are in the works for a TV series with Warner; he just released #18 in the series. The themes of the novels are Russians, Arabs (et al.) and (although not directly cited) Palestinians bad, and the favorite myth that the Israelis took land the Palestinians weren’t using and turned them into gardens of Eden and still they can’t get no respect.

  22. gepay

    U.S. Lawmakers Seek to Criminally Outlaw Support for Boycott Campaign Against Israel – “Perhaps the most shocking aspect is the punishment: Anyone guilty of violating the prohibitions will face a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.” Where are all the free speech advocates? All this distraction about Russia interfering with the US Presidential election when the most obvious intervener (controller?) of US elections and government is Israel. Congress gives that poor excuse for a human being, Netanyahu, 26 standing ovations when he spoke to Congress. The best ex-president of the US is called an anti-Semite when he states the obvious fact that Israel is an apartheid state. The UN is lambasted when it states facts about the outrageous behavior of the State of Israel vis a vis the Palestinians – the Gaza strip is reminiscent of the actions of the Nazis used against the Warsaw Ghetto. Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in the illegal (according to international law) continuing occupation of the West Bank is worse than South Africa’s treatment of the blacks was. it is somewhat hypocritical for Americans to try to get the Israelis to change their behavior as they are only the 2nd most purveyor of misery in the world behind the US.

    1. Vatch

      If this bill becomes law, one would expect it to be declared unconstitutional. But even if this does happen, the bill will have performed a “useful” purpose of letting members of Congress demonstrate their fealty to a foreign government.

      1. Carolinian

        Most of the Congress people Greenwald contacted don’t even seem to know what’s in the law and were taken aback by the ACLU opposition. It may not pass.

      2. polecat

        Yes, this ! …. an as such, they would, in essence, become Seditious Traitors to the Republic !!

  23. montanamaven

    I found the Jacobin article on “What It Means To Be On the Left” and the Quartz article on small talk and what not to ask a Frenchman (What do you do?) to be linked. The Wobblies and the left libertarians advocated for more free time rather than higher wages. To have time to be creative and to pursue self-realization was advocated by anarchist thinkers like Oscar Wilde and Thoreau. Oscar Wilde said that with the abolition of private property we would have a true beautiful healthy individualism. Real freedom from bosses in order to pursue life, freedom and happiness. It’s all connected. The French like their 35 hour week and they don’t want to talk about their work because they don’t believe their work defines them. They enjoy the art of argument; the art of lively conversation. They work and then sit in cafes and discuss life. But Macron wants to make them more like us. Quelle Fromage!

    1. Cat Burglar

      “What do you do [for work]?” I think of it as the “American question” ever since a Slovak emigre friend of mine told me that most Europeans would never ask it in a casual conversation.

      As she explained it, it wasn’t considered interesting. “Europeans are creative in their lives; Americans are creative in their work,” she thought. It also wasn’t considered very polite, because it was a direct question about social class, a situation which she thought most Europeans felt was something forced upon people, and not the shining (or not) sign of godly merit that all culturally Calvinist Americans know their station to be. And you could construe much of the violence of 20th century European history as rooted in exactly who did what and who got the rewards. The question just brought up too many tiresome things, when there so many other interesting things to share about our days.

      I use the American Question as a kind of egalitarian conversational lever — we almost all have to work. It is one of the things (but not the only one) that establishes our stake in controlling what gets done with our work and who gets it. The Calvinist nightmare part notwithstanding, The Question sometimes ends up opening some interesting reflections on how people control their time and get around power in a personal way.

  24. -jswift

    Finally there’s something available in English on the Spanish secret political police scandal, a new documentary with English subtitles:
    LAS CLOACAS DE INTERIOR (Spain – The State’s Secret Cesspit),

    The MediaPro production (free on Youtube) exposes a complicated web of conspiracy and corruption, with a lot of testimony from high ranking police figures, and details about resulting cover-ups organised by top members of the Spanish government. It’s literally a bombshell of a documentary. This has been coming out in the Publico site over the last year, but very little has been made available in other languages till now.

    A Spanish subtitled version can also be found on Youtube. It seems the Spanish TV networks outside the Catalan and Basque regions are not willing to air it.

  25. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Women will keep being exploited if we don’t give them the economic security they need The New Statesman

    So will grown men and children.

    It’s a common threat to us all, unless our economy is arranged such that economic insecurity doesn’t exist for anyone, however old, sick or what not.

  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    U.S. flight security measures now include electronic device checks Montreal Gazette

    To me, when people go back to nature, for example, when they go camping, they should leave their electronic phones at home.

    The same when they go see a movie in a theater.

    An electronic-device-free month would be nice.

  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    To senator McCain: Get well soon.

    Hope you can rid of that malignant growth and other malignant thoughts in the brain.

  28. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Here’s Why White-Collar Criminals Often Go Free Bloomberg

    One key factor, but not the only ones, is that white-collar crimes are often not-immediately, not-direct bloody crimes.

    Occasionally, maybe, though I can’t think of one right now.

    It’s similar to ‘you can’t slap a bad guy, but you can confine him to a cell for 10 years.’

    That’s how the human brain works.

  29. nechaev

    not finding reports yet in anglophone media on the Hirak Rif movement ‘million-man-march’ scheduled for today (thursday) afternoon GMT, but expect it fizzled massively. However unlikely that the restive mood in a nation touting itself the oasis of tolerance, stability and prosperity in MENA has diminished….

    Al-Hoceima: Riot police fill city ahead of banned rally
    Organisers hope for huge turnout, but police take position in coastal city ahead of march against government neglect.

    Protests continue in Morocco despite crackdown

    Morocco’s al-Hoceima gears up for ‘million-man march’
    The steadily growing popular movement in Morocco’s northern Rif region is planning a massive rally for Thursday.

  30. Plenue

    The end of US support for Syrian ‘moderate rebels’ and John McCain hopefully not long for this world. Could be a good day for world peace.

  31. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Top Destinations for Wealthy Chinese Looking to Move Abroad Revealed Jing Daily (Re Silc).

    My guesses, before reading the article, of places they DON’T prefer;

    1. North Korea
    2. Cuba
    3. Syria
    4. Somalia
    5. Israel (can they buy a house and get a permanent residence permit?*)

    *the issue may not be preference, but feasibility.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Good one.

      I have yet to get a response from Wyden on this one; I suspect the article was a “Holy S..t!” moment in his office, and they’re frantically trying to figure out how to obfuscate their blunder. He was mentioned by name, because he’s been posing as such a civil liberties guy.

      His real problem may be negligence: like Cardin, he probably had no idea what it included.

  32. Plenue

    >Everyone Hates Neoliberals, So We Talked to Some Vice

    Confirming my assumption that neoliberals really are deeply stupid.

  33. John

    Re: Everyone Hates Neoliberals, So We Talked to Some Vice

    That’s GREAT! At least the people who ARE neo-liberals know they are neo-liberals. That’s definitely a step in the right direction for the word neo-liberal. Now, if only those who don’t LIKE neo-liberals could explain what a neo-liberal was to the “normal people” (eg. the people who don’t have Political OCD).

    1. Plenue

      They basically all confirm that not only is neoliberalism a thing, but how critics describe it is essentially correct. The only difference is that these bubble-dwellers think subjecting everything to the market is a good thing and will make society better.

  34. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    One of the most common questions in American small talk is considered rude in much of the world Quartz

    blockquote>In most places in the world, asking a stranger what kind of work he or she does, especially without any pretext, is frowned upon. And now, “What do you do?” is finally becoming a tainted question in North America, too.

    Learn from Americans, and ask the question. It will save you.

    “I work for Chaos.”

    “That’s what I do.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I believe any cancer cure is always painful, for the victim-patient.

      And also for any empathetic doctor. If not, then the doctor stands to make a lot more money.

  35. Arizona Slim

    A word of caution on breaking into cars with trapped animals:

    A few years before he passed away, my father saw a dog in a car that was in a parking lot. The car’s window was open enough so that the dog could have fresh air, but it couldn’t get out.

    To my father, the dog seemed friendly, so he reached into the car to pet it. Big mistake. The dog bit my father, and Dad had to undergo the rabies preventive shot series.

    This isn’t the same thing as breaking into a car, but unless you know the animal well, be extremely careful around it. Put your own safety first.

    1. Propertius

      And, of course, the article applies only to California. Breaking into a car (even to save an animal) may be highly illegal elsewhere.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        With self-Karate-chopping cars, it would be a little more difficult, I assume.

  36. Propertius

    Why Canada Is Able to Do Things Better:

    My in-laws in Newfoundland would disagree rather vehemently about the splendid quality of Canadian infrastructure – at least in the outlying provinces. I’m sure things are quite delightful if you happen to live in Ontario.

    At least they’re not saddled with the cost of maintaining an empire and subsidizing a massive, for-profit insurance system.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Still waiting for that road to Nunavut, too. Only province I haven’t visited.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’ve tried the Kindle version of The Prison Notebooks. It’s horrid. You can’t tell when Gramsci is writing, and when the editor/commentator is.

  37. ewmayer

    So, Lambert, you name that kitty yet? In addition to my previous suggestions of ‘Gray’ and [reference to your intended barn-cat use model] ‘Barney’, one other possible moniker: T.K., obviously short for ‘Teh Kitteh’. Prowling the northwoods certainly appears to agree with him/her, in any event. [Speaking of which, have you determined gender and spay/neuter status?]

  38. JoeK

    From the Times interview with Don Trump, re the pre-existing conditions issue:

    “TRUMP: But what it does, Maggie, it means it gets tougher and tougher. As they get something, it gets tougher.”

    Says it all: “they.” The other. Not who he represents, who he is struggling against. Us.

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