Links 7/9/17

Wild tiger family pose for amazing selfies in front of forest camera trap Siberian Times. Very pretty!

Chinese zoo erects statue to honour donkey tossed into tigers’ den South China Morning Post. :-(

The inside story of how Uber tried and failed to build a FedEx rival — and its $69 billion valuation could be jeopardized Business Insider

Wells Fargo’s scandals just won’t die Yahoo Finance

How teachers, firemen and college endowments ended up enriching America’s hedge fund billionaires Business Insider

As bitcoin’s value rises, so does criminal activity Nikkei Asian Review. Yves: “Prosecution futures.”

Worldpay emerges as a winner in the war on cash FT

Wanted: Expert to monitor Google’s algorithm for €10 million Politico

The W3C has overruled members’ objections and will publish its DRM for videos Boing Boing

What Modern Monetary Theory Can Teach Us about Criminal Justice Tropics of Meta

Make government simple again The Week


Putin and Trump stage-manage a win-win meeting Asia Times

Russia-China Alliance Is Real – and the US is the Big Loser Ray McGovern, Russia Insider

Analysis: Trump checks a box on Russia but questions remain AP

Unanimous G20 communiqué fails to hide US tension FT

Putin eyes new era of cooperation under Trump AFP

Water Cannons Vs. The Black Bloc: The Story Of The G20 Protests Buzzfeed

North Korea

Trump keeps it friendly with Xi at G20 on North Korea threat Reuters

Why Imperial Washington Should Cool It On North Korea David Stockman,


Revolt of the Rustbelt New Left Review. Must-read, though grab a cup of coffee.

May prepares to publish flagship Brexit legislation FT

Corbyn to Talk Brexit With EU’s Barnier, Sensing May Won’t Last Bloomberg

Greenland’s Shifting Relationship with the European Union Cable. Lessons for the UK?


CNN Hired Top al-Qaeda Propagandist for Award-Winning Syria Documentary and Wants to Cover Its Tracks Alternet

Hiding US Lies About Libyan Invasion Consortium News

Democrats in Disarray

What’s Next for Bernie Sanders: Fighting Republican Health Care Plan in Red State Rallies Newsweek

Liberals target the Rust Belt: ‘Democrats should be able to win in all these places’ McClatchy (Re Silc). Re Silc: “With what?” See above (?).

Hillary Clinton looks for her role in midterms The Hill. Please kill me now.

Why democracy can’t stop Republican rule. (podcast) This is Hell! I recommend this highly. “The Democrats have no coherent strategic challenge to go up against the structural problem that they face.”

A Sixth District epitaph: Democrats had a turnout problem – GOP didn’t Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Among blacks and renters. What a debacle.

Trump Won Because of Bernie Sanders, Now the Vermont Senator Should Be Punished, Rival Candidate Says Newsweek

2016 Post-Mortem

He won. She lost CNN


What If Trump Had Won As a Democrat? Politico

New Cold War

No, The Russians Did Not Meddle in Our Election by Publius Tacitus Sic Semper Tyrannis (Re Silc).

Russia steps up spying efforts after election CNN. Sourcing: “current and former US intelligence officials.”

Trump Team Met With Lawyer Linked to Kremlin During Campaign NYT and Donald Trump Jr. gathered members of campaign for meeting with Russian lawyer before election Circa

Trump Transition

America’s First Postmodern President TNR

Return of the grotesque Aeon

Health Care

Why Single-Payer Health Care Saves Money NYT

Liberals, get your story straight on single payer Paul Waldman, The Week

4 ways you probably didn’t know the Republican bill changes Medicaid Vox

The Founders Would Have Opposed Trumpcare The American Conservative. “More importantly, having the states handle healthcare still puts most of the impetus on the individual: It is up to you how you want to live your life, what sacrifices you want to make, and what luxuries you want to afford. For those suffering, the states can encourage community organizations, charities, and religious institutions to take up the slack and care for the needy. Isn’t this a better society anyway, where we as citizens care for one another, rather than relying on the government to do it for us?”

Our Famously Free Press

Inside Sheldon Adelson’s journalistic gamble CNN

Baltimore Sun plans to close City Paper City Paper. Another alternative weekly bites the dust…

These U.S. States Still Haven’t Fully Recovered From Recession Bloomberg (MR).

Guillotine Watch

London hedge fund workers to be given ‘champagne buttons’ for their desks Evening Standard. Beat that, Frankfurt!

Branson Aims Mid-2018 Space Trip as Virgin Resumes Powered Tests Bloomberg. Can we make them one-way?

Class Warfare

Audience with Delegates from the Confederation of Trade Unions in Italy (Confederazione Italiana Sindacati Lavoratori, CISL), 28.06.2017 Holy See Press Office

Detroit’s Underground Economy: Where Capitalism Fails, Alternatives Take Root In These Times

Detroit’s DIY Cure for Urban Blight Politico

America’s Top Prosecutors Used to Go After Top Executives. What Changed? NYT. “No one wants to be a class traitor, especially when the members of one’s class are such nice people.”

Dragon-Slayers Corey Robin, LRB. On careerism, among other things.

Once the Cathedral of Kensington, now a heroin shooting gallery CNN

Targeted as a Coal Ash Dumping Ground, This Georgia Town Fought Back Inside Climate News

Rule Reversal: How the Feds Can Challenge State Regulation WSJ

digging out Medium

Sheep’s Head Soup The Bollard

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. craazyboy

    Hillary Clinton looks for her role in midterms The Hill. Please kill me now.

    Bernie Bro Sperm Cells echo this sentiment!

    Lately, Bernie Bro Sperm Cells grapple with the inadequate voter turnout problem.

    Is “Low Information Voter Turnout” really the problem, they query, suspiciously??

    One solution proposed, by “Albert – The Einstein” Bernie Bro Sperm Cell: Quantum Entanglement!

    Sperm Cells must rub their heads together to quantum entangle and divulge location of secret, hidden, mobile, Democrat voting booths. These polling booths are sealed in a tin 1/2″ plate Faraday Cage to shield communications, which certainly complicates matters.

    One pressing problem, fleshed out in sperm cell focus group testing, is that sperm cell tails become entangled, preventing sperm mobility, especially in a bar setting where sperm cells often become tangled up with their bar stools, then become incoherently drunk and shout out Bernie! and tell funny “Three _____ walk into a bar and _____” jokes.

    1. HopeLB

      I am very glad and pleased you have undertaken singlehandedly to enact your very own quantum entanglement (!) of “quantum entanglement” with your space/time jumping prose cages. I can see clearly these latest “Bernie Bro Sperm Subatomic Cells ” interacting with those “Unintelligent Boob Subatomics” captured in that word cage poem from a few days ago. When I read about these sperm entangling particles, I simultaneously interact with the days old “Boob” particles and observe their changed spin. If this works so well from here in PA to where you are, via NC , maybe get Branson to take one of these up to Mars and test if your cleverly devised quantum entanglement holds there as well? It is all quite amazing!

      1. crazzyboy

        It’s really a big, huge mess. As you can imagine, to come up with a theory of such large, but tiny, scope is terrifying.

        I’m trying to think it thru, but it’s nearly hopeless. I’ve decided to just watch for real world evidence, and also that reported in the press, preferably in real science mags. I will also keep a close eye on things at home here, and any boob pixels arranged as animated gifs would certainly help!

        S/B craazyboy!!! I am losing my mind!

  2. Bugs Bunny

    Re The inside story of how Uber tried and failed to build a FedEx rival — and its $69 billion valuation could be jeopardized

    “If a customer ordered $25 worth of food and agreed to a $5 delivery charge, Uber could only count that $5 fee as revenue if the order were delivered by Rush. But if the customer placed the same order through Eats, Uber could count the whole $30 as revenue. And with Eats, Uber was able to take bring a greater portion of that $30 order down to its bottom line.”

    Some very creative agency accounting going on at Uber and yet they’re still losing money? When will it all just blow up?

    1. jCandlish

      > When will it all just blow up?

      It already did some time ago. The Zombie metaphor was introduced at about the time of the burst, and found its way into the titles of many economics texts by 2010.

      Don’t be confused by our current stasis.

    2. John Merryman

      When the one ginormous, entangled debt bubble does blow up. Globalism works both ways.

      Think of all the dot come companies that bit the dust in 2000 and the various car companies, realtors, Lehman bros, etc that bit the dust in 2008. Maybe we should start a betting pool on which bite the dust this time around.

      Maybe add a few nation states to the pool.

  3. mpalomar

    “As bitcoin’s value rises, so does criminal activity”
    Off topic, however since the agency of the sovereign entity issuing Bitcoin is obscure in MMT terms and not substantiated by taxation, should bitcoin be considered a commodity instead of a currency? Fools gold? If I’ve missed previous discussion on this at NC, appy polly wogs.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Very good question. I, too, would love to read a MMT-based analysis of bitcoin. It does seem ripe for the arrival of a Bunker Hunt (maybe one is already at work????).

        1. ambrit

          Well, Bunkers are hunted with MOAB’s, (Mother Of All Boondoggles) and thus an adequate analogue for Bitcoin. (Really, a Bunker Hunt is more like a Snark Hunt. See Dodgson et. al.)

      1. ChrisAtRU

        Izabella Kaminska (FT) actually asked the question regarding #Ransomware being a defacto (tax) driver of #BitCoin. I disagree, but in the interest of discussion, here you go:

        If Tax Is Theft …

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          And for those wondering whether computing on machines distributed all over the world will be as low cost as a centralized server, the current answer is that it’s currently about 400 million times more expensive:

          “We can see here that it costs 0.09 ETH or $26.55 to add two numbers together 1 million times. Compared to running on a local computer or cloud server this seems pretty high. Let’s do a quick price comparison to AWS.

          I can add two numbers together 1 million times in python in 0.04 seconds. Amazon charges $0.0059/hour for their cheapest EC2 instance — t2.nano. This costs $0.000001639/second or $0.000000066 for the operation. Compared to $26.55, this is about 400 Million times more expensive (or 40 Million if you are willing to pay a low gas price). Whoa!”

    2. footnote4

      It’s a commodity that can be used as a currency because controls on supply are built into the ‘mining’ process?

      1. mpalomar

        I agree re: commodity and the ‘mining’ association, an obvious derivation reference to gold/silver.
        Though I don’t think the ‘controls on supply’ work to transmute bitcoin into a currency according to MMT it would still require a sovereign power to print and tax.
        I think MMT would tend to regard bitcoin as a bitcon.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Careful: “built in” implies unchangeable.
        But it’s just software, and a single keystroke can change the “fixed Bitcoin supply” to “unlimited Bitcoin supply”.

        This would simply require >50% of “miners” to decide to do it. Currently >50% of mining is done by two companies, controlled by anonymous individuals, operating in caves in China using purloined electricity (AntMiner and F2Pool).

        The Bitcoin network as a whole currently uses as much electricity as Denmark to perform the “mining” function.

    3. John Merryman

      I think it is more important to publicize the fact that state money functions as a contract which is commodified. The asset value is backed by a communal obligation/debt.
      There was a time, before the Fed, that much money was issued by the banks themselves and they were responsible for its value. Obviously many problems as they competed and sought ways to both sustain and increase value, while profiting off it. With the Fed, the public is responsible for the value of the currency, while the banks still profit off it.
      As a medium of exchange, money is the very definition of a public utility, like roads. So while the Fed might seem like a clever move to foist responsibility onto the public, it is also a first step to making banking a public utility.
      The historic problem with government in control of finance is that people experience money as quantified hope and politicians live and die on hope, so it is invariably inflated.
      The relationship of government and finance is similar to that of the nervous system and the circulation system, in the body. Eventually we will have to evolve a financial circulation system that is both public and somewhat isolated from momentary political pressures.
      We also treat money as both medium of exchange and store of value, but they are not necessarily compatible. For instance, in the body, the blood and arteries are the medium of exchange, while fat is the store of reserve energy. With cars, roads are the medium and parking lots are the store.
      Volcker didn’t really cure inflation in the early 80’s, Reaganomics did. The excess money was borrowed out and spent in ways which supported but didn’t compete with private sector investing, like building up the military.
      Much of our presumed wealth is in the form of government treasuries, which is really just a ponzi scheme, being there is little return on war, so more is borrowed, creating the illusion of even more savings.

      1. rusti


        I’ve appreciated your various posts on this subject throughout the years. Do you (or others) have any suggestions on history to read regarding this point?

        There was a time, before the Fed, that much money was issued by the banks themselves and they were responsible for its value.

        I just started William Hogeland’s Founding Finance but it’s a short read.

        1. John Merryman


          Most of my views and information are cumulative. As the old saying goes, originality is forgetting where you heard it first. That said, Michael Hudson is a good source. Reading up on Andrew Jackson and the Second Bank of the United States is informative. The Rothschild’s really started the concept of a state bank, with the Bank of England, being privately managed and proved the effectiveness of separation of money and state politics.
          Here is a good article at Aeon, on the history and evolution of capitalism;

          A lot of it has just been reading the news for the last 45 years and trying to understand what was really happening. As Deep Throat said, “Follow the money.”

          1. JTMcPhee

            Usury and respectability: one of my hobby horses is the notion of Islamic or “sharia” finance and banking.

            The concepts are being perverted, now, of course, by the “influence” of neoliberal and “Western” FIRE practices. But in its theory, at least, all the evils of “Western” banking, like interest and rent collecting and risk-free casino games, are not only outlawed, but are proscribed on ethical and, in the end, moral grounds.

            Some folks say there’s no other way than how it’s being done ( to us mopes.) Seems to me there are models already in operation, apparently applied by maybe a seventh of the world’s population, and even being touted by TBTFs as part of their grasping marketing ploys.

            Some context: from the popular press, “Can Islamic finance save capitalism,” a truly vast question —

            A more scholarly source: “The Rise of Islamic Finance,” from the Whirled Bank:

            From Wiki:

            And there’s even, Allah help us, an”Islamic economics,”

            Nothing’s perfect, and scammers and skimmers and grifters will always be at it, crapifying everything for personal gain. But it seems to me there’s a lot to recommend and a lot worth studying in this alternative to the massively destructive looting that is currently “traditional…” If only one can swim through the viscous Bernays bouillabaisse that we have been drowning in, to maybe more of a rock to build on, rather than the sand so many of us have built so avidly and incautiously upon..

            Of course, there might be an end to ten-baggers, if such an alternative gained traction, and so many of us are “temporarily distressed squillionaires in our own minds…”

            1. John Merryman

              I think the most effective response will be to make finance a public utility. It’s already mostly supported and funded with government debt. Wolf Street did a post some months ago, about how more than 4 trillion has been borrowed by the government, between 04 and 14, than can be accounted for in its spending. I suspect because the borrowing is actually what is most important to the system and what it gets spent on, like the military, is a necessary by product.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                Or just separate money from credit. That way every banking crisis does not automatically also become a monetary crisis.

              2. JTMcPhee

                There’s lots of thought in that comment about some big structural changes in where the money comes from. Can I ask whether in the estimation of those who understand this stuff better than I do, whether there is any utility in changing a bunch of the incentives that would continue to drive the kind of frauds and casino and looting behaviors that lead to what we’re living with? Like maybe by once again making looting by usurious interest illegal and morally unacceptable? By changing the relations between borrowers and lenders to where the lender takes on a share of the risk? By recasting commercial relationships so the incentives are based on a more decent and honorable set of postulates?

                I’m probably not the best one to try to explicate the utility of the elements laid out in the links I offered and the other sources that cover it. It just seems to me that the ideas in what I read seem to offer a means to defeat the worst moral hazards that have surfaced in “modern banking.” Not that it looks like anyone else wants to take on the task of explaining and evangelizing (pace Steve Jobs) either. Too much invested, ha ha, in the way things are…

                1. John Merryman

                  It’s primarily a matter of the current system crashing and seeing what rises from the ruins, because, not only isn’t it going to be willingly changed from within, but it is self destructing. Don’t fight when the opposition is beating itself.
                  The issue will be to implant some basic concepts in the conversation of what comes next, that cannot be obscured. That’s why I think comparing it to the evolution of government, from monarchy, to democracy, or the relationship of the nervous system to the circulation system. That finance is as integral to society as roads.
                  Long academic treatises will be buried in the scramble for power.

          2. WobblyTelomeres

            So how did usury stop being a sin and become respectable finance?

            Two words: JOHN CALVIN.
            Three words: JOHN F**KING CALVIN.


            1. David

              No, he said, reaching desperately back into his youthful studies. Technically, usury was a sin, but medieval trade and banking got round that through the use of bills of exchange in different currencies, so that the gain to the bank was always slightly uncertain, and this made it justified;. The Vatican was a big client of the Italian banks in the medieval period (I remember de Roover’s book on the Medici bank though it’s probably been overtaken by more recent work). At a certain point, developments in the economy and society made it necessary to drop the pretense.

      2. Synoia

        The asset value is backed by a communal obligation/debt.

        Name it. What obligation?

        Fed, the public is responsible for the value of the currency, while the banks still profit off it.

        Twas Gold, until 1972. Then settlement of Taxes (MMT)

        Volcker didn’t really cure inflation in the early 80’s

        The Economy adjusted to the increase price of energy, which was the inflation driver.

        1981 Volcker crushed demand (and jobs).

        Much of our presumed wealth is in the form of government treasuries, which is really just a ponzi scheme.

        Nonsense, Treasuries are readily exchangeable for US $, are fungible, which make them a interest bearing accounts.

        Much of our presumed wealth is in the form of…

        Land-with-water which is a commodity and subject to the whims of the market (our collective perception of its value). I would pout out the most of California’s San Bernardino county’s land is worthless because it has no water.

        1. John Merryman

          The Gold Reserve Act made the fact of gold backed currency something of an illusion, as it couldn’t be exchanged.

          Most of what seem to be in the vaults of central banks these days, are government bonds. Which is a public debt. So the presumed value on which the money is based is a public debt. Still some gold, but there isn’t enough to back the amount of money in circulation, at anything near a rational price.
          While this might seem circular, the eventual consequence will be a form of disaster capitalism, as those with the most bonds and currency willingly trade them for public assets, when governments can no longer afford to service the debt. When Warren Buffett buys Yellowstone Park and your local hedge fund buys the highway you drive to work on and turns it into a toll road, you will see the end game. Public/private partnerships go one way.

          Yes, Volcker didn’t really have much to do with curing inflation, because a slower economy needs even less money.

          Vietnam and the War on Poverty were the setup for the oil crisis.

          I should have said “notational wealth,” but even much of that is in stocks, corporate, international bonds, derivatives, etc. Much of what is leveraged far beyond any tangible value, such as the aforementioned land and water. When that bubble of notional wealth does pop, any underlaying value, such as land, gold, etc, likely isn’t going to be in the average pension fund, but in the pockets of those running the pension funds, etc.

          1. Andrew Watts

            Yes, Volcker didn’t really have much to do with curing inflation, because a slower economy needs even less money.

            When Volcker jacked up interest rates he was essentially strangling the economy.

            Vietnam and the War on Poverty were the setup for the oil crisis.

            Huh? The ’73 oil crisis was brought about by the OPEC embargo in response to US support for Israel during the Yom Kippur war, It had nothing to do with the Vietnam War or War on Poverty.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Maybe he meant that dumping all that wealth into the asinine imperial idiocy of the Vietnam Expedition and the tradeoff Johnson made to get our Solons to fund the “great society” in exchange for more of that War Racket, deepened the impact on Our Great Nation when the A-rabs decided to jack up the price of our drug of choice… And of course the US Rulers backing that favored “ally” which tried hard to sink a US ship on the high seas to conceal a war crime it was committing, likely helped the A-rabs decide to squeeze our petrotesticles — but I would imagine the vast pleasure of having all those hundreds of billions of dollars to go on every kind of shopping spree with, might have had something to do with the act, too…

              1. John Merryman


                Not to mention the Arabs put all that money back into New York money center banks…

              2. Andrew Watts

                Ahh, that explanation makes sense even if I don’t completely agree with it. It’s true the Gunz’n’Butter economy led to stagflation during that time period which the subsequent oil shocks amplified but it’s not the sole factor at work. Nobody was willing to raise taxes to pay for the domestic programs or the war.

                1. JTMcPhee

                  I think we blind philosophers are each touching different parts of the same elephant… time to grope for another part, to complete the understanding of the beast…

          2. Adam Eran

            Sorry, “public debt” is both savings and checking accounts, just as your asset could be a savings or checking account. The public calls them “T-Bills” or “Treasury Bonds” and “currency,” but they are equivalent to those things from banks. That’s right the Fed carries currency on its books as a liability. In effect those dollars are checks made out to cash in fixed amounts. Just as writing a check on your bank account assigns a portion of the bank’s debt to you to the payee, handing someone a dollar assigns a portion of the Fed’s liability to that payee.

            The “debt” is the money. That is what it is. The fact that the Fed can manufacture as much money as it needs whenever it needs it distinguishes it from most banks, which are fiscally constrained.

            The cost-push inflation in the ’70s came from 1) U.S. peak oil, which occurred in 1971 and 2) OPEC using the “oil weapon” in response to the Yom Kippur war in 1973 to deprive the U.S. of a critical commodity. The price of oil went from $1.75 a barrel in 1971 to $42/bbl in 1982 (roughly today’s price, adjusted for inflation).

            At no time, says Daniel Yergin, was the oil market short of more than 3% of the usual oil supply. It’s just that 1973 was the first time the U.S. couldn’t produce its way out of a shortfall.

            Reagan really lucked out in the early ’80s because Alaska’s North Slope came online and the increased supply brought the price down to around $10/bbl. This (and massive government spending) was the origin of the Reagan recovery, AKA “Morning in America”…which Paul Krugman’s book Peddling Prosperity points out was an average business cycle recovery with lower-than-average capital investment.

            As for selling public assets to pay off “debt,” why bother? The Fed can print money at will, and the debts are denominated in dollars (and the amount doesn’t inflate no matter how much the currency is “degraded”). The Fed printed $16 – $29 trillion to cure the frauds of the financial sector in 2007-8, according to its own audit….BTW, where’s the inflation (and where are the jobs)?…Hint: They gave it all to the financial sector. Thanks Obama!

  4. andyb

    The SicSemperTyrannis article raises some issues:

    It is now patently obvious that the neocon war mongers are in control, and that the vast majority of the 535 are bought and paid for shills earning their bribes from the MIC. What even happened to the anti-war protesters? Code Pink? Or were they all just astroturf? The constant Russian demonizing and idiotic NATO and US aggression on Russian borders does not bode well. The propaganda is being spewed like vomit.

    1. John Merryman

      Then again, maybe the scab is just peeling away from the wound? War, or revolution.

      Obviously the bankers would like a disaster capitalism scenario, where real value is further consolidated, as the bubble bursts, because a war just shifts control to the generals and likely a few bankers will be thrown to the masses as sacrificial offerings.

      Keep in mind it’s not just us against them, but them against them as well.

        1. John Merryman

          The irony is the “class traitors” are often the ones trying to save the elites from themselves. FDR comes to mind.

            1. John Merryman

              Cracking and hatching are two sides of the same dynamic. Rigidity isn’t always the best defense.
              “Fake news” is when the surface is peeling away and it is what is going on under the surface that matters.

        2. clarky90

          I repeatedly come back to The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, also known as the Nazi–Soviet Pact of 1939, as the Master Metaphor for our present situation.

          Maybe the Republicans (McCain, Bush…) are the 1939 Germans? Maybe the Democrats (Clintons, Schumer, Podesta…) are the 1939 Soviets? They had formed a non-aggression treaty and are in the process of dividing up the World; Poland, the Baltic States, Eastern Europe, Western Europe…..

          However, Trump is not a Democrat or a Republican! He is a World Wide Wrestling Hall of Fame Face and he just formed a tag team with fellow Wrestling Face, Gorgeous Putin….

          IMO, the dichotomy, Left vs Right, is false. The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, shines a UV spotlight on this lingering, unmentionable canker-sore…

          Claps hands! Wake up! All totalitarians want to destroy us, the peoples.

    2. Craig H.

      > What even happened to the anti-war protesters?

      The pro-war profiteers have so much money they hire thousands of agents to infiltrate any anti-war opposition to render it completely ineffective. Have you been to a protest in the last twenty years? I have been to a half dozen.

      They were all complete jokes.

      There is an apocryphal story that in 195X the American Communist Party had 2000 members and undercover FBI were 1500 of them. The budget for this activity is now really huge compared to then. I would provide a citation for this but that would require a trustworthy news source, wouldn’t it?

      1. John k

        Yeah, those are getting hard to find… but not impossible if you peek outside MSM.
        Speaking of which, Nyt actually has a couple of readable articles in the links. Maybe sacking some editors helped? Do we even know what they were doing?

      2. neo-realist

        The lack of conscription contributes to the apathy. A lot of people believe that if I’m not being forced to fight in a war, nor my friends and relatives, why concern myself with protesting against war? They figure that a lot of people who join are suckers and should have known better.

        And yes there are quite a few “operatives” that disrupt those movements, as many of us know.

      3. Andrew Watts

        There is an apocryphal story that in 195X the American Communist Party had 2000 members and undercover FBI were 1500 of them. The budget for this activity is now really huge compared to then. I would provide a citation for this but that would require a trustworthy news source, wouldn’t it?

        They gotta justify their budget somehow. I had a good laugh when I found out that the Feds were false flagging so many IS supporter accounts on social media that our American heroes were opening up investigations into each other. This was all happening while the Obama administration was privately berating the NSA for not being better at shutting down this activity.

        Hilarious! It’s like Maxwell Smart is in charge. GET SMART!

  5. edmondo

    Trump Won Because of Bernie Sanders, Now the Vermont Senator Should Be Punished, Rival Candidate Says Newsweek

    Maybe Jon Ossoff should move to Vermont next? Imagine how far an $18,000.000 in consultants will carry him in the War on Bernie. Sanders needs to Go Green. Trying to save the Democrats is like teaching a pig to sing; you waste your time and annoy the pig.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It will be interesting to see what Sander’s riposte is, although I think he’s already set himself up to say “Trump won because the Democrats are bankrupt and Clinton ran an error-filled campaign (her second).”

      1. Swamp Yankee

        I always say with regard to this truly specious and odious line of critique from a certain segment of brain-dead automaton-Dems:

        These are people who, after reading “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, come out thinking the little child who blurts out the obvious, and not the Emperor or the swindlers, is the villain of the story. God Almighty!

        Talleyrand’s line about the Bourbons really is apt: “they’ve learned nothing and forgotten nothing.”

      1. ambrit

        I’d say Ford. He was the Speaker of the House when that job meant something, and became, through happenstance, our only un-elected president. (Not elected President or Vice President.)
        As for ‘first,’ how about “Primus Inter Deplorables?”

  6. Ulysses

    The TNR piece, linked above, offers much food for thought:

    “This analysis suggests that Trump is the product not just of a fluke election or a racist and sexist backlash, but the culmination of late capitalism. This has profound implications for how we see Trump—and how we oppose him. We have to focus less on Trump’s personal flaws and more on the world that has enabled him. His habitual prevarications aren’t simply the result of his defective character, but an effective tactic. In a world where commerce and media (including social media) reward performance above truth telling, it’s not surprising that a figure like Trump rises to the top. Any moralistic condemnation of Trump is incomplete without acknowledging the institutions (notably the media) that both created him and allowed him to thrive.”

    This is why I have long argued that performance artists like Reverend Billy and the People’s Puppets of Occupy Wall Street are critically important. The arena that most of society is watching doesn’t include Jacobin magazine, or the LRB. We live in an increasingly post-literate and visual world.

    Chris Hedges has summarized what this means pretty neatly:

    “We live in two Americas. One America, now the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world. It can cope with complexity and has the intellectual tools to separate illusion from truth. The other America, which constitutes the majority, exists in a non-reality-based belief system. This America, dependent on skillfully manipulated images for information, has severed itself from the literate, print-based culture. It cannot differentiate between lies and truth. It is informed by simplistic, childish narratives and clichés. It is thrown into confusion by ambiguity, nuance and self-reflection.”

    We won’t make things better if we confine ourselves to debating policy within the literate world. Street theatre, music, and art must be deployed to promote humanist compassion, and to arrest our slide into a grotesque, dystopian existence.

    1. Carolinian

      One America, now the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world. It can cope with complexity and has the intellectual tools to separate illusion from truth.

      Really? Is there any reason to believe that printed lies are any less fallacious than the video variety? Indeed one could argue that ordinary people have a greater grasp of reality (admittedly when not glued to their televisions) since they daily encounter real world problems and situations that the ivory towered don’t have to deal with. Hedges’ snobbish disdain is just another example of why, at the end of the day, he isn’t a very interesting analyst.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Print allows a person to easily jump back and reassess a point. With video mediums, this is much harder to do as TV plays to various prejudices we already have. Take for example, the study of crowd reactions from the Clinton-Trump debates last fall when the scripts were flipped. Hillary supporters found the man acting as Hillary to be unlikable.

        I assume the target of the piece is cable news* and the long term effects of It on a population. It was ABC if I recall, but in 2007, every time Kucinich spoke they put the camera on his hot wife. Then of course, there is the greatest orator of our day, Obama. People liked him for obvious reasons, nothing he said which was largely one banality after another. Last year, Hillary sought to reintroduce herself every week and her supporters constantly reminded people she was super nice in person. During the primary season, Hillary’s strongest supporters were cable news viewers. Maddow has noted Roger Ailes served as a guide on how to enhance her brand and improve her shows. She assured everyone he didn’t give content advice but advice on the colors of the background. The problem is Maddow’s viewers aren’t buying the content but but the headlines and the colors of the back ground which was the whole FoxNews shtick.

        17 intelligence agencies! I was said on TV. If a person used to reading read this claim, they would go where Is the source or where have I heard this number before. No, it’s not just from a song. The number 17 comes from the number of intelligence agencies. Hillary’s claim was repeated for months uncritically because it was said on TV which screws with our minds.

        The lack of reading in our society is crippling.

        *NPR while in the car and so forth.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          So much of our brain is devoted to identifying people’s faces it hampers our ability to think critically when viewing faces. Getting lost in a lover’s eyes is a real event. With print, we don’t have this handicap.

        2. Carolinian

          Guess what I’m saying is that our Ivy educated elites read plenty and they are the ones leading us over the cliff. You can’t really blame ordinary people for not grasping geopolitical complexity as they are usually too busy feeding their kids.

          We do live in a time when everyone is bombarded by propaganda–political or commercial–24/7. But the elites seem just as susceptible to this brainwashing after being taught “how to think” (the right thoughts) during their expensive educations. And while it’s true that all video represents a point of view by definition–the person holding the camera, the person editing the footage–visuals can convey a reality that previous ruling classes kept hidden. The cell phone pics of police brutality are one example. And people like Clapper or Brennan show who they are, IMO, by just looking at them. The camera conceals but also reveals.

          1. jrs

            I really think rich people are those leading us over the cliff. Of course many of them do have Ivy degrees, it can go with the territory (but there are exceptions), they also have their self-interest and it dictates that over the cliff we will go … but for them there is no and has never been any society.

          2. Ted

            I am not sure many of our Ivy Educated elites read that much. Yes, scholars must read in their area of scholarship to continue to publish, but whether they are academics or just folks received a degree from an ivy institution, most of the time is spent in engaging in various forms of group think (in which dissenters are harshly punished and ostracized) and part of that is stricly limiting yourself to “official” or “reputable” sources of information. On top of that heap is the NYT. Our educated elite seem to be completely unaware that their “go to” sources of information are rank propaganda outlets.

            1. Swamp Yankee

              +1,000, Ted. I was a working class scholarship at two elite (though not Ivy, technically) colleges/universities. They don’t read, not outside the official sources. They are more attuned to social performance, which has been magnified and metastasized by social media. This goes all the way up through grad school, where one historian in training told me she didn’t read a certain scholar because he was “so old” — having been written in the 1950s (incidentally, she did very well for herself, in the poxy nonsensical way these things are measured in academia). Real curiosity, knowledge, openness to debate — these are viewed as at best mild eccentricities and at worst as forms of disorder or pathology. What the hell, they’re all just talking their class book, what’s left of their minds captured by various forms of Gramscian hegemony.

              Jesus. They’re going to bring a revolution on, and they won’t do well in those conditions.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Case in point for the tour d’ivoired denizens of the Acela corridor: the NYT’s hagiographic coverage — amounting to hundreds of both ‘news’ articles and opinion pieces — during what was to be the gestation period of the Hillary administration.

        These posts focused on everything from Hillary’s cabinet choices, to Bill’s probable initiatives as economics czar, to colorful MDMA-saturated visions of Hillary’s long coattails flipping Texas Democratic. It was serialized sci-fi/fantasy, replete with a heroine who sported strange, seamless gold lamé pantsuits.

        *exhales a perfect smoke ring*

        But the print-based narrative has moved on to a Russian spy thriller. And we must move with it, comrades.

      3. Ulysses

        Chris Hedges has spent several years devoting considerable time as a volunteer teacher, in New Jersey prisons. The words “snobbish disdain” aren’t really a good fit for this man– who I have personally witnessed doing good work out here in the real world, far from the ivory tower that you imagine he lives in.

        You are, of course, correct that printed lies are just as dangerous as televised ones. Yet, at the end of the day someone like Ronald Reagan or Donald Trump, with a gift for performing on television, wields greater influence than someone with greater intellectual pretensions like George Will. This is because George Will tells lies aimed at manipulating the minds of people in the more literate minority– his particular brand of sophistry has absolutely no appeal to the majority of Americans.

        1. Carolinian

          It cannot differentiate between lies and truth. It is informed by simplistic, childish narratives and clichés. It is thrown into confusion by ambiguity, nuance and self-reflection

          Sounds like disdain to me. And yes of course Hedges is not an academic and was a famous war correspondent for the NYT until they parted ways. Still I’d say he is unjustly generalizing about the public at large–those “deplorables” that Hillary talked about. They have their own life experiences that may be quite unfamiliar to someone who has spent his time in Eastern cities or reporting overseas.

          1. Mike

            That’s a ditto – Hedges seems angry at the public that did not follow their “class Interests” in a way he would approve. This is not how a self-avowed Marxist (religious or not, as he claims to be a believer, but the religious side of Marxism was exposed during the Stalin reign) analyzes any pre-revolutionary situation.

            1. Massinissa

              “but the religious side of Marxism was exposed during the Stalin reign”

              Really? Youre implying that all Marxists are exactly the same and think in the same ways. The number of different strains of Marxist thinking is exponential. Also, most strains of Marxism have very little in common with Stalinism.

              Your claim is like saying all Christian denominations believe in Millennialism because the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in Millennialism.

              1. Mike

                Did not say all – just that many members of the Stalinist parties fell in line with Stalin because “fearless leader”, because non-stop propaganda elevating him to sainthood. Not all, and certainly not those Marxists who were not followers of Stalin or his owned parties, or who left due to that iconization.

                As to religion, During WW2, Stalin allowed for the reactivation of churches that allowed the proletariat to pray for the saving of the Soviet Union, and until the end of the war tolerated the possible return of Orthodoxy as an established institution, in spite of his mechanical anti-religious statements before taking power fully in the 1920s. Remember, Stalin was a novitiate ti an Orthodox monastery during his youth.

                Further, many recruits to Marxist parties were quite willing to believe the “leadership” as if the public face of the ideology was incarnate in the person of the leader. That is faith without foundation, thus religion by my definition.

                I’m surprised at this reaction – it’s almost as if you didn’t realize some Stalinists were true believers in Stalin, not necessarily Communism. As if opportunism wasn’t a human trait, or as if many Marxists have denounced Stalinism throughout its existence. Only a few strains of Marxists had or have the courage to do so, with many Progressives and Democratic Socialists, who were and are not Marxists by their own definition, not at the table yet today when trying to clarify this problem within the parties of so-called followers of Marx. It happens with Trotskyist parties and movements as well, to their detriment, as was seen in the WRP in Britain and its slavish following of Healy. I could go on, but time does not permit all to be listed. Let’s just say Marxist institutions have their issues they would rather not discuss openly.

                1. Massinissa

                  No, its more that I misunderstood you. I thought you were implying that *all* Marxists had a religious streak.

                  In fact, I need to apologize. I think I may have actually skimmed your comment and only really read the first sentence and the part that I highlighted. I don’t think I fully read your comment, as I didn’t notice the “This is not how a self-avowed Marxist analyzes any pre-revolutionary situation.”, which I absolutely agree with. Maybe it was the parentheses that threw me for a loop or something. I am very sorry.

                  1. Mike

                    Gladly will I ask you to NOT apologize. Clarification is good for the soul, and I should have made my comment more detailed as well as more understandable to you. My apologies for that.

                    Hope to hear from you otherwise, as we may have more in common than we are aware of at the moment.

        2. David

          Funny how Hedges is championing the “the literate, print-based culture”, when he has been accused of multiple acts of plagiarism.

          “These examples suggest not inadvertent plagiarism,” said Kelly McBride, who runs the Ethics Department at the journalism school the Poynter Institute, “but carefully thought out plagiarism meant to skirt the most liberal definition of plagiarism.”


          “Whatever the explanation for Hedges’s reporting,” Drechsel [Robert Drechsel, the director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison] told me, “harm will have occurred. Trust is a journalist’s and journalism’s most precious commodity. Difficult to gain and virtually impossible to regain once lost. If there is even a hint of the possibility that misconduct was covered up, it’s even worse. Journalism will take another hit.” 

          Maybe we could Judith Miller’s opinion on the integrity of print journalism?

          Fake News, heal thyself.

        3. Ted

          Reagan, Trump, George Will … but not Clinton, Obama or Chris Hedges? I would tend to think that elites are elites, and public faces of the elites all serve the same ill ends, so how about a little balance there.

        4. mpalomar

          Agree with your perception on Hedges. He has come by his prep school Ivy league chops honestly I think and it is a mistake to dismiss his insights and effective critique of the ruling class.
          Interesting that Hedges uses Carolinian’s phrase, snobbish disdain. Plagiarism baked backwards into the space time continuum fruit cake?

          From a Hedges 2013 Truthdigg piece, “I, like Fitzgerald, was thrown into the embrace of the upper crust when young…. shipped off as a scholarship student at the age of 10 to an exclusive New England boarding school. I had classmates whose fathers—fathers they rarely saw—arrived at the school in their limousines accompanied by personal photographers (and at times their mistresses), so the press could be fed images of rich and famous men playing the role of good fathers. I spent time in the homes of the ultra-rich and powerful, watching my classmates, who were children, callously order around men and women who worked as their chauffeurs, cooks, nannies and servants. When the sons and daughters of the rich get into serious trouble there are always lawyers, publicists and political personages to protect them—George W. Bush’s life is a case study in the insidious affirmative action for the rich. The rich have a snobbish disdain for the poor—despite well-publicized acts of philanthropy—and the middle class. These lower classes are viewed as uncouth parasites, annoyances that have to be endured, at times placated and always controlled in the quest to amass more power and money. My hatred of authority, along with my loathing for the pretensions, heartlessness and sense of entitlement of the rich, comes from living among the privileged. It was a deeply unpleasant experience. But it exposed me to their insatiable selfishness and hedonism.”

          Also with Paul Jay, RealNews interview with Hedges, the first five minutes or so he explains his familiarity with the elite and parallels with Fitzgerald, Gore Vidal and other dissident snobs whose analysis of the nature of oligarchy have added substantially to the discussion.

          Sorry if this posts twice it disappeared once and not into moderation.

      4. jrs

        those real world problems have very little to do with our politics though, so they don’t necessarily influence anyone’s political thinking. Real world problems have to be politicized (say by unions for instance) to have that effect, otherwise they tend not to.

      5. Carla

        I agree, Carolinean. Hedges is a bright and accomplished guy — and an effete snob. Similar to Thomas Frank, and — although a smidgen farther to the Left — just as out of touch with reality.

        1. Fiery Hunt

          Interesting take, Carla. I don’t find Frank to be a snob…but then he doesn’t gore my beliefs. Perhaps a bit close to home, eh?
          No offense intended, mere perspective.

      6. sid_finster

        If there truly are “two Americas” then the literate America is simply better at rationalizing its tribal affiliations after the fact.

    2. Arizona Slim

      And don’t forget those memes that are so prevalent on social media. Yes, they can be simplistic, but they sure can communicate.

    3. HBE

      “Street theatre, music, and art must be deployed to promote humanist compassion”

      If this were true (post-literate), the above is absolutely not the way to go about it, the “post-literate” and most people in general could care less about “street theatre” and traditional art forms. They might stop and watch for a minute, but it’s for the novelty and it will be forgotten as soon as they walk away.

      You could promote “humanist compassion” using a 30 sec digital drawing video more effectively, than 3 years of street performance, in terms of reach alone.

      “People’s Puppets of Occupy Wall Street”

      Don’t get me started on occupy, the perfect example of what not to do if you intend to form something permanent. Such a great opportunity squandered, because of a basic failure to understand people who exist outside of the professional activist bubble (and just people in general).

      What could have been used to form a viable basis for a third party, was turned into a leaderless, largely atomized, and often incoherent blob without a consistent plan or vision (99 v 1 is a slogan, not a plan or vision).

      Beyond the great slogan and intent everything about occupy should be viewed as a case study in what not to do. It could have been a positive political force instead of a footnote.

      1. Ulysses

        “You could promote “humanist compassion” using a 30 sec digital drawing video more effectively, than 3 years of street performance, in terms of reach alone.”

        Sounds legit. Please post a link to your 30 sec. video and show us ignorant mopes out here how it’s done!

      2. Montanamaven

        Occupy was forceably removed by police and military in the major cities run by Democrats. Occupy participants merged the idea of public space with people who live as “homeless” and with labor. Professional activists were not the majority. When labor joined them, the cops came out in force in Oakland and New York. It was a world movement and the ideas have not gone away. It should not and never was about getting better democrats elected.

        1. perpetualWAR

          Actually what made TPTB come out and crush Occupy was the “leaders” of Occupy and the Tea Party were in talks to join forces against our similar fight: corrupt coporate rule.

    4. Alex Morfesis

      Delusions of literacy…pre-bernaysian deceptions and the granduering of dead trees…humanity has always been a visual animal…this sad and conforming non-conformist self manifested noise to sell the average shmoe on the “value” of a “literal” arts degree is just a masterful “smoke and mirrored” approach to induce the “sophisticated” to be reserfed…

      When every simple process can be adjusted to “require” a college degree, the conversion of your human capital in return for the continued operational capacities of “learning” institutions is complete…

      Life is incredibly simple…but boring…


    5. Lee

      I introduced my son, a blue collar worker who doesn’t read much, to Chris Hedges on you tube. He is now a great fan of Mr. Hedges. Same for Jimmy Dore. We are both fans of anti-war movies, the Jason Bourne series and The Wire to name a few examples. The good stuff is out there but we do need more of it particularly in the form of local guerrilla theater.

    6. John Merryman

      Small crises create small changes. Large crises create the opportunity for large changes.

      Having spent some time trying to figure out why we make such a mess of life, I’ve narrowed it to three basic misconceptions;

      We view time backward. While we experience reality as flashes of cognition and so think of it as the present moving past to future, it is actually change turning future to past. As in tomorrow becomes yesterday because the earth turns.
      This might seem a bit esoteric, but our linear, historical, move onto the next view of reality keeps running off various cliffs of our own making, from wars to financial crises and if we better understood the cyclical, reciprocal, thermodynamic reality by which nature actually functions, we might better be able to adapt to it.

      Next, the concept of monotheism, the assumptions of which are foundational to western civilization, not just theists, is also backward. A spiritual absolute would necessarily be the essence of sentience from which we rise, not an ideal of wisdom and judgement from which we fell. The new born babe, not the wise old man.
      Not to go too deep into this, but top down monotheism is largely a political construct. Remember Athenian democracy and Roman republicanism both evolved in pantheistic societies. Obviously religions where the gods debate is conducive to politics of debate, not just top down rule. Today, we have to have separation of church and state to prevent self righteous extremists from trying to take control.

      The last point is that money is a social contract, not a commodity. Originally societies functioned reciprocally, but in our mass societies, accounting is necessary and those monetary units are essentially an accounting device, of the larger economic dynamic. They are no more personal property than the section of road one is driving on is personal property.

      Events are important to those involved, but it is the ideas which emerge that form the future.

    7. Lambert Strether Post author

      > We won’t make things better if we confine ourselves to debating policy within the literate world. Street theatre, music, and art must be deployed to promote humanist compassion, and to arrest our slide into a grotesque, dystopian existence.


      FWIW, I’m viscerally opposed to giant puppets.

      And I’m not sure that I buy into what Hedges is saying. Hedges is far better bearing witness (he’s a Presbyterian minister) than as a strategist. His literate/post-literate distinction is uncomfortably close to Chris Arnade’s distinction between front row and back row kids, or Frank’s focus on credentialism, except he valorizes the front row and the diploma.

      I’m not opposed to “Street theatre, music, and art” as such, but I feel they tend to be deployed more in service to the artists’ conception than anything else. What would the guy behind the cash register at the 7-11 think of all that? Dubious at best.

      1. Ulysses

        “I’m not opposed to “Street theatre, music, and art” as such, but I feel they tend to be deployed more in service to the artists’ conception than anything else.”

        That’s a valid criticism, yet I have seen a fair number of regular, blue-collar 7-11 cashier sort of people both enjoy and participate in the making of music, theatre, art, etc.

        BTW, did you take note of this project, a few years back?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I have seen a fair number of regular, blue-collar 7-11 cashier sort of people both enjoy and participate in the making of music, theatre, art, etc

          I agree; I’ve seen it. But do they make giant puppets? (Serious question, underneath the joke.)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Frankly, I think the whole thing is self-indulgent and stupid and a lot of it’s about the adrenaline rush (and a handy self-licking ice cream cone for the cops, many of whom have, of course, infiltrated the black bloc). If they were serious, they’d take over a TV or radio station and start broadcasting. Of course, in this country they don’t even smash the CCTV cameras….

      I don’t know whether #riothipster is real or not — I can’t find the original source — but it certainly skewers the ethos.

      1. perpetualWAR

        I’m inclined to disagree. TPTB will only fall when the plebs are so angry that we are in the streets. Where we need to be rather than driving for Uber and hoping to be able to afford next month’s rent.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > TPTB will only fall when the plebs are so angry that we are in the streets.

          That’s like saying that “music will only be taught when there’s a piano in the classroom.”

        2. Mo's Bike Shop

          What streets? Everything since the fifties is terraces and cul de sacs.

          And frankly, you could levitate our city hall and there would be little change in the city’s business.

  7. RenoDino

    From the BBC. What does Kim want?

    ‘The big prize: reunification’: Supporter Kim Myong Chol

    Kim Myong Chol was born and lives in Japan, but is ethnically Korean.

    He has been to North Korea more than 20 times in the last 40 years, and says he has met representatives of the country’s elite as well as, in his words, the two Kims – Kim Jong-un’s father and grandfather. He hasn’t met the third Kim yet, but praises his “guts, determination and intelligence”.
    Some describe Kim Myong Chol as an unofficial spokesman for the leader.
    “What makes him different from the two Kims,” he argues, “is that he will succeed in getting what he wants. The reunification of Korea, without foreign interference. Eventually the US will leave Korea and the Korean peninsula will be re-unified.
    “[The US will] realise the futility, the senselessness of American military presence in Korea. North Korea [will] become too strong for America. We have now nuclear weapons, we have intercontinental ballistic missiles, we have hydrogen bomb.
    “We are victims of American aggression. North Korea is a most sanctioned country. Brutalised, criminalised, isolated by America.”
    He insists Kim Jong-un’s unpredictable behaviour is part of his strategy to fight back:
    “North Korea is a very small country. The USA is a big country with nuclear weapons. How to defeat the enemy? Outsmart them. That’s the only way North Korea can survive, outsmart America.”

    This the Dear Leader’s Plan. His plan is on track. As far as I can tell, America has no plan other than responding haphazardly to Kim’s plan. Kim will continue to threaten a first strike on American cities until America withdraws or strikes back preemptively. Not a recipe for a stalemate.

  8. diptherio

    What Modern Monetary Theory Can Teach Us about Criminal Justice NYT

    Actually, that story is on a blog called Tropics of Meta.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Snortable cacao: it puts a whole new spin on ‘brown nosing.’

      But wait, ol’ Lather’s productive you know
      He produces the finest of sounds
      Putting drumsticks on either side of his nose
      Snorting the best licks in town

      *sniff, sniff … sniff, sniff*

      But that’s all over…

      — Jefferson Airplane, Lather

    2. Vatch

      So this is an issue on which Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer chooses to spend some time. Marvelous!

      One would think that priority should be given to eliminating the carried interest loophole, passing Medicare for all, preventing savings banks from gambling with credit default swaps, and opposing just about everything that is done by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Obviously I lack Chuck Schumer’s brilliant understanding of politics.

      1. edmondo

        It’s just a smokescreen to win campaign contributions from the anti-Ghiardelli wing of the party.

        “For every vote we lose in Hershey, we’ll win two at the suburban gym. That’s how you win Pennsylvania!”

  9. Jim Haygood

    Now the copy editor-free NYT informs us that, based on a Stanford Literary Lab study, Jane Austen’s enduring appeal derives from a vocabulary focused more on the abstract than the physical, and less on melodrama than on the quotidian and the emotional [Duh! Dude, this is chick lit].

    Somehow the Big Data guys miss some context, such as Austen writing in a much more male-dominated literary scene than today’s. Nor do they feel the frisson of taking an intimate, lifelike glimpse into social relations in a rising industrial empire, from our darkly ironic post-industrial vantage point in the setting sun of a dying empire.

    Boom time nostalgia, comrades: it prolly has something to do with the ubiquity of that gnarly dog’s breakfast known as the Bible. To medieval folks, the splendour of the Roman Empire in the days of Augustus (imparted with a similar quotidian spin) must have looked like science fiction, even as its Latin language carried on as the scientific code of a lost technopolis.

    A thousand years hence, perhaps iPhones will be venerated as relics of the Prophet Steve (“But there’s one more thing!“) by the primitive tribes of the post-Bubble III era, long after the mysteries of electrical power generation and cellular telephony have devolved into folk legends.

    1. Ulysses

      “Somehow the Big Data guys miss some context”

      Yep. Funny how often that seems to happen!

    2. ambrit

      Good heavens man. Are you suggesting “A Canticle for Zuckerberg?” What will the curia think?

        1. ambrit

          I guess that the relevant concept for the Curia would be: “There is more rejoicing in Party Headquarters over the return of one fabulously wealthy donor to the flock than in the millions of still faithful small donors.”
          “Render unto God, (or a reasonable simulacrum thereof,) that which is Gods’. Render unto Caesar, (or ‘his’ authorized representatives,) everything else.”

    1. HBE

      Great podcast but the Syrian piece can be missed. Basically a call to remove Assad while completely ignoring the fact a proxy war exists there.

      Nary a mention of Saudi Arabia, and describing alleppo as a “powerful illustration of self determination by the rebels” (while being sad government forces retook it from islamists), and saying things like “people can speak freely in idilb where the rebels still control the area but Assad is trying to destroy that”.

      The woman speaking (Wendy Pearlman) was delusional.

  10. Uahsenaa

    re: W3C decision

    Extremely disappointed in Tim Berners-Lee; hard to imagine what he’s thinking beyond, I hate to say, securing for himself something cushy in the future.

    I got in a pretty vocal argument recently about the need to push back against copyright advocates, and someone I considered a colleague (maybe not anymore) refused to see how the public interest that copyright statutes supposedly protect is being steadily eroded. This is just another example. Of course, knowing the lobbying history of Mickey Mouse laws, it’s pretty clear that the public interest is an afterthought. These laws exist to protect media properties for large corporations. Any benefit that redounds to individual creators is simply a happy accident, and I imagine if there we a way to do copyright and screw over individual creators, it would probably already exist.

    1. LifelongLib

      My understanding (I welcome correction) is that copyright was originally a temporary abridgement of what would normally be book owners’ property right to do anything they wanted with their properties, including copy them. It was supposed to give writers a chance to make money from their works, in order to encourage new works. There was no concept that writers/publishers retained some sort of ownership (“intellectual property”) of their works once they’d conveyed them to other people. The text went with the books.

      1. Uahsenaa

        That’s what copyright was (in the 18th century), though it changed dramatically in the 20th century, as recently as 1976. The writers of the Constitution would have no idea what’s going on with modern copyright, especially with the extension after the author’s death. What’s more, it only applied (then) to domestic print production, so you could import, say, an English writer’s work and do with it whatever you will. It got so bad (or good, depending on your point of view) in the 19th century, that more famous authors (Twain, for instance) would take up residence in foreign countries just so they could establish some copyright claim there.

        Prior to the Statute of Anne, printers had to be licensed directly by the government and the state directly controlled what did and did not get punished. When the Licensing Act of 1662 lapsed in the 1690s, members of Parliament then argued that there was an inherent right in authorship, which ultimately led to the creation of the Statute of Anne in 1710. Prior to the seventeenth century, and for most of human history, people stole, copied, reworked, etc. pretty much to their heart’s content. Even the inherent right Parliament acknowledged in the late 17th century had little meaning outside of the publishing world, and printers generally insisted that “right” be signed over to them, making the author’s right pretty much moot.

        Beyond the US and UK, many countries (the German states, for instance) had almost no copyright measures at all. In fact, there was an interesting study done by Eckhard Höffner in 2010 comparing the UK and Germany in the 19th century that showed the latter’s near absence of copyright laws actually facilitated a huge growth in book production, author pay, and exchange of scientific and technological developments. Here’s a good write-up in Der Spiegel. So, it’s not that there was no concept at all but rather no real means of enforcement. This is what the Statute of Anne tried to provide, and its legacy has been… a mixed bag.

        1. HotFlash

          Dr Freud pls check this out, but I believe your “and the state directly controlled what did and did not get punished.” should read published.

          Hmm, in moderation — hi Skynet!

  11. Montanamaven

    The “He Won, She Lost” article by CNN pollster begs the question about why we need polls to begin with. And her “everybody was wrong” was wrong. There were state polls that showed how close the race HAD been at a certain point in time. If I were this person I would not be writing articles about how dumb I was by not asking the right questions or getting a sense of what people were thinking by actually driving around in fly over country and sitting local bars and talking to people.

    1. Tom_Doak

      But talking to local people would never work, because the MSM was still going to report the Narrative they were backing all along. The only purpose of the polls is to reinforce the Narrative, although there are various versions of it.

      1. Mike

        The most important thing we can take away from analyses of polling in general is that quantification of nebulous answers to obfuscating questions is bound to lead to dumbfounding results.

        There, I’ve exhausted a dictionary of muddled adjectives.

      2. HotFlash

        The only purpose of the polls is to reinforce the Narrative, although there are various versions of it.

        My dear sir/madam, you are not nearly cynical enough. The purpose of polls, these days, is to foam the runway for tabulation fraud.

  12. justanotherprogressive

    And the American Conservative shows its true colors….

    It is truly amazing that this writer thinks the Founders were as small minded as he is …..odd that something like the Preamble to the Constitution came from them, isn’t it? But then of course Conservatives ignore the Preamble (especially that “promote the general Welfare crap) because it just doesn’t fit in with their world view….

    I liked this comment: “For something to be a human right, it must emanate from some natural source, something that is by nature given to us by our very existence. ” Seriously? Nothing is given to us by our very existence – nothing, not even life. We are no longer chimps in the forest – we all need help to survive – I believe that is why humans formed societies and the things that societies create – like government? I seriously wonder where this writer would be without all the accoutrements this society – and the government it created… that thought never crossed his mind…..

    But it gets better….
    “Anytime citizens agree to turn over an aspect of their individual well-being to the central government, they in effect give a part of their political soul over. They become subjected, or in more severe words, enslaved.” HUH? Going back to the Preamble again…….seems like our government was created PRECISELY to protect the well-being of its citizens…….or isn’t this author smart enough to realize that?

    And then there is his misunderstanding of why the Founders created the Federal Government. If giving control to the states worked so well, we’d still have the Articles of Confederation, wouldn’t we? But it didn’t work, did it? Nah, that is obviously too deep for this author to think about…..

    And then there is this:
    “For those suffering, the states can encourage community organizations, charities, and religious institutions to take up the slack and care for the needy. Isn’t this a better society anyway, where we as citizens care for one another, rather than relying on the government to do it for us?”

    Yea, well, we all saw how well that worked in the 30’s…….either he’s forgotten or perhaps he enjoys seeing soup kitchens and desperate people…….

    This author uses the term “liberty” so much that I wonder if he knows what it means……

    This is what people write when their minds are hooked on ideology…..perhaps universal healthcare can find a cure for these “brain-shrinking” beliefs?

    1. makedoanmend

      You’ve written what I was thinking, and have written it better than I could have articulated it in written or spoken word. Ta

      I’m quite conservative myself and find many American Conservative articles useful but I’m always flummoxed by a tendency in certain conservative thinking to somehow argue that human rights do not in some way emanate from natural sources, as if the human by being able to manipulate its environment on so many levels, somehow transforms certain human tendencies into less than natural outcomes. Yet we cannot be or do anything that is less than natural for our species.

      A better argument, imo, would be to compare and contrast the tendency of humans to help each other in certain circumstances (say helping during the duress of flooding, for example) against the seemingly implicit need to compete against each other on so many trivial and non trivial levels.

      1. justanotherprogressive

        Secret? The public knew they were meeting to create a document for a new government (albeit the Founders decided to hold their contentious debates in an arena closed to the public). The fact that they were meeting was no secret and at the end of the almost four months, the document they wrote was released to the public……hardly a big “secret”……

        And yes, the document was created by elites, but the ratification of that document was definitely NOT voted on for ratification by just elites……and if Hamilton would have had his way, it would have been……

        And yes, the definition of “citizen” then was not what it is today…..

        I never said that the Constitution was perfect, but I still do think that the Founders gave the best description of why a government should exist when they wrote the Preamble (if only they’d lived up to their Preamble……)….and yes, it does state that the government was created to protect the well-being of “We the People” – it’s just their definition of who “We the People” were that was quite deficient…….

        1. justanotherprogressive

          And I would add that the definition of “We the People” is still deficient today….

        2. Jess

          Anybody know if the Preamble is ever cited by the courts, esp. SCOTUS, in decisions. Seems to me, as a legal layman, that court decisions seem to rely on various articles of the constitution and laws intended to implement those same articles. Wonder how many decisions might be different if “promote the general welfare” was the standard of judgment?

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      It just never gets old–these lofty, cerebral discussions of “liberty,” as purportedly envisioned by our otherworldly wise (and long departed) founding fathers–that always come down to: what’s mine is mine because I earned it, it’s not government if the states decide, and let charity handle it for those who aren’t as worthy as I am.

      At least they’re self-servingly consistent.

      1. ambrit

        Yes to that. Charity is, by nature, only indirectly self serving. So, charity looks to be antithetical to “Liberty.” Elites, of any time or place are, by nature, conservative. They’ve got theirs, s—w everyone else. Oh, and I notice that when “liberty” and “freedom” are bandied around as talismans, the definition of “earned” is curiously absent, or severely restricted in nature to fit some ‘agenda’ or other.
        My quibble is with the use by the ‘Right’ of ‘Natural Law’ arguments to support their positions. When it comes to politics and society, all rules are Man made, and thus, most un-natural.

      2. makedoanmend

        “…what is mine is mine because I earned it…and let charity handle it for those who aren’t as worthy as I am.” – for some reason the way you put the words together struck a chord in my discordant mind.

        What is the difference between charity and sharing?

        I was recently reading about the Blasket Island off the coast of Ireland around 1900’ish. It seemed to be common practice to share out some of the largesse with neighbors when events allowed – such as sharing seal meat (sea pig) with neighbors who couldn’t fend very well for themselves. It wasn’t always done ungrudgingly, but it was done. Needless to say, the people of the Island were dirt poor by today’s standards.

        Charity, on the other hand, seems to need a surfeit and operates amidst plenty. It seemed to come to the fore as an institution in the UK after the land enclosures coupled with the vagaries of industrial employment and subsequent unemployment. The “landed” fobbed off their old baronial duties and obligations of the peasantry onto the nascent middle classes who, while liking the status, didn’t like the financial burden. The impulse to charity, seemingly a noble impulse, is really a coercive measure to ensure the recipient knows that they are somehow not fully functional in the society and they must rely on the “kindness” of others. It is stigma but also operates to cloud the social relationships of who benefits from the work of the populace. Self blame is the most effective blame. (Many of Charlie Dickens books bring this situation into graphic mode.)

        The poor share. The wealtheir provide charity (with all its negative connotations) to cover short falls emergent in a system that often cannot provide the means to both pay workers and provide largesse to the wealthy.

        Today, imo, modern charity is just a method whereby the wealthy forgo having to pay taxes and can largely ignore their relations within our larger society. As Galbraith would say, charity is used as an excuse to disengage the interconnectedness of social relations and to diffuse the curse of disparate wealth levels.

    3. Andrew Watts

      The American Conservative is appealing on foreign policy and war related topics but most people on the Left aren’t going to agree with their advocacy of domestic policy or anything else.

      To invoke the authority of the Founding Fathers in any modern context is engaging in an argument based upon authority. It’s a logical fallacy. The world has changed since their time even if human nature has not.

    4. meeps

      I’d need a space the length of a dissertation to repudiate the American Conservative blather, but Lambert helpfully highlighted the part that most deeply furls my brow:

      “For those suffering, the states can encourage community organizations, charities, and religious institutions to take up the slack and care for the needy. Isn’t this a better society anyway, where we as citizens care for one another, rather than relying on the government to do it for us?”

      A society that relies on charities and religious institutions to care for the needy citizens it creates when it places the impetus on individuals to do population-scale organizational tasks isn’t better, it’s sadistic. A better society would strive to make charity a thing of the past.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think making fun of politicians as persons is at best mildly fun. It’s also a diversion and self-indulgent. Liberal Democrats have been doing this for year; I did it myself, intensely, from 2003 – 2006. It didn’t do squat.

      1. Andrew Watts

        Heeeey, don’t be a killjoy. We gotta find whatever humor we can in the sheer absurdity of life. Or maybe I’m just mildly offended by this reproving comment because of my fun at Washington’s expense yesterday.

        Anyway, during the Battle of Brandywine General Washington rode right into a British command post. To his credit, Washington quickly realized his error because DUH! The only reason why he didn’t cash his Darwin award right then and there was for the moral code of a certain British Major named Ferguson. (“Yes, that guy.”) Major Ferguson didn’t believe it was gentlemanly to shoot an officer in the back.

        This is one of those moments in history when an individual can change the course of history. Like when an American sniper during WW1 refused to finish off a wounded Adolf Hitler, I guess the moral of the story is to put down your enemy unless they’re hoisting a white flag.

        I dunno!

        1. Andrew Watts

          Oh, and I’m not implying Trump is an enemy or anything like that. Not at all. I just regret not sharing this story yesterday because I find it humorous, Too many people are guilty of trying to put famous people on a pedestal as if they don’t poop out of the butt like the rest of us. Including the US Founding Fathers who were mentioned yet again today. Sigh.

          Is this some ill-examined aspect of mankind’s biological evolution?

          1. ambrit

            Juvenile? You’re talking prime commercial exploitation futures there. What was the observation about the intellectual level of the “average” American reader? Third grade?
            No, it is not funny, but it does get the “hate” juices flowing.

  13. roadrider

    Re: Liberals, get your story straight on single payer

    Fails to even mention HR 676 but finds space to laud a “hybrid” system that preserves a role for “highly regulated supplemental insurance” as if we haven’t already learned that “regulation” of the health care insurance industry (and a lot of other things) has proven to be a failure in this country.

    Also contains a confusing assertion that the British NHS in which the government not only pays for coverage but employs the providers is the “closest thing to single payer”.

    Typical claptrap from a Clintonite/Obamabot BlueTeam loyalist.

    Oh, and also extols Medicaid expansion as a solution without acknowledging the growing privatization of Medicaid, the difficulty in finding providers (aprticularly specialists) and the excruciatingly crapified process of establishing eligibility under a patchwork of state administered, means-tested rules.

    As a “graduate” of the Obummercare Medicaid expansion (which I was forced into when Obummercare rules pertaining to business with < 50 employees caused by COBRA premiums to double) I can personally attest to the pitfalls of using Medicaid as a model for single payer coverage.

  14. Altandmain

    Nina Turner on the election:

    Black America is “Pro-Peace,” but Its Politicians Work for the War Party

    No, Young People Aren’t Poor Because They’re Not Married

    Video on joblessness with degrees (join the club!):

    Also, a daily reminder:

    1. Mike

      I like the “Back America is ‘Pro-Peace'” article, and have thought for quite a while that low voter turnout among poor blacks is tantamount to a kick in the teeth for those bourgeois blacks who supposedly represent them. The higher turnout for Obama was the desire for a true left-liberal President who would spurn the triangulation that Clinton tried, but that message could not get through to the privileged corrupts of the Cosby Democrats.

      In short, class is class, whether black or white, and is the basis for much of the racism we see, because property values and “there goes the neighborhood” fears of just-barely-making-it whites. Ask Magic Johnson if he lives in any ghetto (save the rich one he chose).

    2. Summer

      Re: TalkPoverty article:

      Commercialized is an apt description of the heavily promoted nuclear family – just look at commercials. It’s a unit that the overly-worshipped market is designed to sell to. Reality has always been different. We really need to get away from the idea that there is a “one-size-fits-all” for relationships of any kind.

  15. Toolate

    Happy to see NYT publish that Single payer piece. Suspect they were sensing subscriber cancellations in response to the nonsense they had recently published?

  16. Louis Fyne

    “Ukraine has officially set NATO membership as a key foreign policy goal, overturning the country’s non-aligned status adopted by the previous government ousted in the Euromaidan coup of 2014….”

    I imagine Americans (Dem. and Rep.) forgot, or never learned, the lessons about European treaties made pre-1914.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Some might say they know the history quite well, but see some personal gain in doing a repeat…

  17. Eustache de Saint Pierre

    Thank you for the ” Revolt of the Rustbelt ” article…..the best & most informative writing on the subject that I have read. It does chime with my own experience, although judging from the wealth of statistics offered, the situation is much worse than I could have imagined.

      1. stefan

        “The key to Corbyn’s success lay in the platform on which Labour ran—a roll back of regionally inflected Conservative–Liberal austerity, to be funded through redistributive taxation falling squarely on the London elite: higher income tax on the wealthiest 5 per cent, a levy on City financial transactions and reversal of Osborne’s giveaways to cash-rich corporations.”

        Think Democrats will learn anything from this?

  18. ewmayer

    o “London hedge fund workers to be given ‘champagne buttons’ for their desks | Evening Standard. Beat that, Frankfurt!” — Easy, I’ll see your effete Francophile champagne button and raise you a trio of beer, yuuge-baked-pretzel and sausage buttons (each office comes pre-equipped with a stadium-style condiment cart – heavy on the Senf und Sauerkrautfor those pretzels and brats, obviously). Champagne just gets you tipsy, but beer, pretzel and brats make a meal!

    o World Taekwondo Federation changes name over ‘negative connotations’ – BBC Sport


  19. Plenue

    “These U.S. States Still Haven’t Fully Recovered From Recession”

    All of them?

    1. Mike

      If you are saying that there are lies, damn lies, AND statistics, you know you are talking to many who think the stats cannot be wrangled or slanted, and unemployment is truly 4.something percent. Such irreverence…

      In all honesty, the thought that a state has recovered because some stats (the ones that are measured) seem better has always elicited a guffaw or two from me. Faith trumps science in this world.

      In Pennsylvania, all you have to do is travel 5 minutes away from any upscale café to see otherwise.

    2. polecat

      “We’re turning Illinois, we’re turning Illinois, I said We’re Turning Illinois, WE ARE TURNING ILLINOIS !”

        1. polecat

          Yes, I was humming said tune as I typed, and forgot which band to sign attribution to, so thanks for the reminde ambrit … ‘: ]

  20. Plenue

    >Chinese zoo erects statue to honour donkey tossed into tigers’ den South China Morning Post

    This article is supremely uninformative. It says the donkey was ‘sacrificed’ as part of a dispute between shareholders and employees, which led me to believe this was some bizarre ritual or something. However this related article explains it further:

    “In the case of the donkey in Jiangsu, the animal was thrown to the tigers after a dispute between the park’s owners and its employees. Angered by a lack of profit, the shareholders ordered workers to round up some of the animals for sale. When the staff refused, the owners sacrificed the donkey to “save on animal feed”, Chinese media reported.”

    1. JTMcPhee

      Oh, an exercise in practical neoliberal economics — I get it now… maybe Zoo America should be doing the same with our large destructive herd of Donkeys…

  21. Plenue

    >Liberals, get your story straight on single payer Paul Waldman, The Week

    Isn’t this guy confusing single-payer and single-provider?

  22. Summer

    Re: Democrats in Disarry

    The Democratic Party is more interested in making sure the discourse around social and economic change stays within the parameters set by the status quo. It doesn’t matter to them that they lose elections as long as they keep control of the discussion so that it doesn’t stray from the duopolistic control of the two-party system. It didn’t matter to them that they lost control of so many governorships and state houses, as long as they maintain just enough power to serve their corporate masters.

    Every day wasted trying to reform the Democratic or Republican Parties is a day that puts people further away from real reform.

  23. polecat

    Great Antidote du jour !
    I planted 1/2 dozen western native milkweed plants in the yard several weeks ago ….. just now beginning to bloom, and anticipating as to what beautiful Lepodotera might show up ‘:)

  24. Adam Eran

    Thanks to NC for the link to MMT and justice. It’s not only one of the clearest summaries of MMT I’ve read, it’s simply amazing at teasing out the consequences of MMT for social justice. Yves & Lambert you are awesome!…and you’re OK too…;-)

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