Links 8/7/17

Surf dogs compete at World Championships in US (video) BBC

Electric Car Boom Drives Rush to Mining’s $90 Billion Heartland Bloomberg

Why are we so crazy about bitcoin? Ann Pettifor, Verso

Competition authorities need a digital upgrade FT

We Need More Alternatives to Facebook MIT Technology Review

Former Facebook exec paints a grim picture of where the U.S. will be in 30 years MarketWatch (Re Silc). “‘Every time I meet someone from outside Silicon Valley – a normy – I can think of 10 companies that are working madly to put that person out of a job,’ [Antonio Garcia Martinez] said.” “Normy.” Rather reminds me of “muppet.”

Facebook is starting to put more posts from local politicians into people’s News Feed Recode

Amazon is the new Walmart: the e-commerce giant is increasingly becoming a symbol for everything wrong with big business Business Insider

Is Amazon getting too big? WaPo

Pharma Shares Melt Down, But Consumers Might See Relief Wolf Street

AFP raided CBA for non-disclosure in Austrac court case Australian Financial Review. “The CBA IDMs [Intelligence Deposit Machines] are unusual in that they accept up to 200 notes in a single transaction. If they are $100 notes, that’s $20,000.”


Making Sense of Turkey’s Syria Strategy: A “Turkish Tragedy” In the Making War on the Rocks

Chronic diseases spike in Middle East as conflicts rage Nature

UN Syria investigator quits over lack of ‘political will’ France24

Saudi Arabia still sees no role for Assad in Syrian transition Reuters


Venezuela army repels attack on base, hunts assailants AFP

Venezuela’s Demise Is A Geopolitical Litmus Test For The U.S.

The Observer view on the crisis in Venezuela Guardian

Post-Olympic crackdown on disillusioned Rio slums dwellers Deutsche Welle


U.K. Fights Rearguard Action on EU Financial Laws Before Brexit Bloomberg

The Brexit betrayal bandwagon is growing The Spectator

Ukrainian immigrants are powering Poland’s economy The Economist

North Korea

China says North Korean missile threat reaching ‘crisis point’ FT

North and South Korean top diplomats speak in Manila, South Korean media reports CNN. “According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, citing an unnamed government source, [North Korea’s Ri Yong Ho] told [South Korea’s Kang Kyung-wha] during their meeting Sunday that South Korea’s offer of talks ‘lacked sincerity.'”

Want China to press North Korea harder? Put Japan into the mix Straits Times

South Korea’s spy agency tried to rig 2012 presidential elections Deutsche Welle


Deleveraging is the hottest trade in the Chinese stock market Asia Times

As short sellers target Chinese companies in Hong Kong, hostility mounts Reuters

Donald Trump representatives make move for Macau trademark South China Morning Post

The geopolitical landscape of Asia Pacific is changing dramatically. Here’s how World Economic Forum

Influential Thais in push for Kra Canal project Nikkei Asian Review. Bypassing the Straits of Malacca.

New Cold War

Hamilton 68: Putin apparently trying to incite American Civil War #2 (not kidding) Daily Kos. See NC here for material on the Hamilton 68 project methodology. See NC here for Federalist 68 (authored by Hamilton).

Deputy Attorney General: Special counsel Mueller needs permission to expand Russia investigation Business Insider. “The mandate’s scope [given Mueller] is similar to that given by then-Acting Attorney General James Comey to special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald in 2003 to investigate who leaked the identity of former CIA operative Valerie Plame.”

* * *

U.S. Troops Train in Eastern Europe to Echoes of the Cold War NYT. “On a recent Friday, an American Army supply convoy rushing ammunition from Germany to Romania was held up at the Austrian border until the next Monday by restrictions on military convoys during busy summer vacation travel periods.”

NATO soldiers to participate in Ukrainian Independence Day military parade Defence Blog

Lavrov explains to Tillerson Russian counter-measures to US sanctions TASS

US and Russia chief diplomats show ‘readiness’ to talk despite escalating tensions Deutsche Welle

Trump Transition

Diplomats Question Tactics of Tillerson, the Executive Turned Secretary of State NYT

Flake extends his attacks on Trump and the GOP — all the way back to the dawn of birtherism WaPo

Why Trump will win on taxes The Week

Here Are the Financial Disclosures of Hundreds of Officials Trump Has Installed Across the Government Pro Publica (Re Silc). Enjoy!

What Could Happen If The Administration Stops Cost-Sharing Reduction Payments To Insurers? Health Affairs

Infrastructure borrowing drops as U.S. states await Trump plan details Reuters

Hudson River Tunnel Dispute Holds Up Transportation Nominees WSJ

5 Years on Mars, How Curiosity Pulled Off One of the Most Incredible Landings in History America Space. We can put Curiosity 350 million miles away on Mars, but we can’t build a train tunnel under the Hudson, even though the existing tunnel is known to be failing, and even though elites take their Acela through that same tunnel every day. Odd.

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Pentagon Money Pit: $6.5 Trillion in Unaccountable Army Spending and No DoD Audit Project Censored

Is U.S. blocking publication of former NCIS investigator’s tell-all torture book? Miami Herald

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Guess Who’s Tracking Your Prescription Drugs? The Marshall Project

U.S. Citizen Who Was Held By ICE For 3 Years Denied Compensation By Appeals Court NPR

The Sly Effort to Criminalize the BDS Movement in the U.S. The American Conservative

Can the Growing Democratic Socialists of America Build a New, Coherent Left Wing? Slate. So many sudden links is a story in itself.

The Democratic Socialists of America hit 25,000 members. Here’s why this could mark a political turning point Salon

The Democratic Socialists of America Have Actual Political Power. What Will They Do With It? Daily Beast

The socialist movement is getting younger, thanks to one 75-year-old WaPo

Democrats in Disarray

Democrats’ new ‘Better Deal’ comes up short for people of color The Hill

Why People Can’t Stop Talking About Zuckerberg 2020 WIRED

Hillary Wants to Preach The Atlantic (Re Silc).

Guillotine Watch

How one man built a $51m theme park for his daughter BBC

Inside the world of Silicon Valley’s ‘coasters’ — the millionaire engineers who get paid gobs of money and barely work Business Insider

Class Warfare

The Transformation of the ‘American Dream’ Robert Shiller, NYT

New data on H-1B visas prove that IT outsourcers hire a lot but pay very little Quartz

Bankers’ pay closely tied to deregulation Gillian Tett, FT

500 Workers Staffing Facebook’s Cafeteria Just Voted to Unionize The Nation

The warnings from history that Wall Street ignored FT

The Structural Consequences of Big Data-Driven Education SSRN

Toxic waste from U.S. pot farms alarms experts Reuters

The panhandler’s lament: In an increasingly cashless world, fewer have a dime to spare WaPo

Dawn of the bionic age: Body hackers let chips get under their skin McClatchy. Musical interlude..

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. Hana M

      Very! But it’s a hen, not a rooster, the lone survivor of a flock belonging to @ChrisArnade. She’s well known to us fans for her favorite occupations: stealing dog food, pasta eaten on the porch, and bread tossed in the pond for the ducks.

      1. cocomaan

        What a sweetheart. Is she on the older side? I always associate the floppy comb with older hens.

        1. Hana M

          She’s been around as long as I’ve been following Chris Arnade (about three or four years). Don’t know if that’s old for a hen!

  1. craazyboy

    Special Free Bonus Song!

    Use any coupon from anywhere! Mail to any address you want.

    Your Postman will thankyou!

    The Scotsman

    Mr. Tamboreen Man – The Byrds

    He hops, excitedly, up and down
    Johnny Walker Red he’s guzzling down
    A whole liter going round, with his friends
    Nothing but the best for our favorite Scotsmen.

    He grabs a young Lady’s pert young breast
    Scotish women, known as the best
    He hops up and down and rotates all around
    His kilt takes to the sky with light and airily flare!

    Blossoming, Yea, blooming upward, a red Scotish quilt demanding
    Freedom and Freedom, for all Scotsmen.

    The Lass’es eyes go wide eyed, in anticaption of a wild ride
    Up to the Heavens, she’s sure to go in ecstasy.

    Yet another turgid member of the Scotish Clan
    They all call their Brother…

    A Sneak Attack, it comes next, thrusting up the Back Door nest….
    Up and around, the spirals wound and unwound,
    Frantically, until they fall beathlessly and can’t bother no more!

  2. jo6pac

    I think this might be in the wrong spot, it’s not a bad thingy that he has done.

    Guillotine Watch
    How one man built a $51m theme park for his daughter BBC

    1. ambrit

      Agreed. This shows how wealth can be used for “noble” purposes. Another aspect of this is how concerns close to an individual or group spur actions. I noticed that the developer has chosen not to ‘franchise’ his park. Concentrate on that which can be done by you.

    2. Eclair

      I am such a Scrooge! Here is an article from 2012, when Hartman gets back into the property development business and irritates the locals by ignoring endangered species.

      Bet he’s a Republican and is against minimum wage for workers and resents paying unemployment insurance and disability premiums. Probably doesn’t give paid vacations or family leave or paid sick days or provide a retirement plan. Or health insurance. Or maybe he does.

      But, his daughter is born with a disability that all the money in the world can’t fix. And it hurts him as a father when he sees ‘normal’ kids treating her as a weirdo. As it would any parent; the pain of seeing your child hurt is 100 times greater than bearing that hurt yourself. So, he has $51 million dollars to build her a personal playground. And, he allows other disabled kids to play too. Which is a Good Thing. He probably gets some great tax write-offs with this arrangement.

      Meanwhile, he is back despoiling the environment, extracting rents from uber-privatizing the land; a water-scarce semi-arid land at that. And I will bet that the children of his workers, the framers, the roofers, the heavy equipment operators, the dry-wallers, have pitiful health plans and have to stay at home alone when they are sick. And, if they are born with a disability, the family struggles to cope with heavy medical bills.

      I would like to be proven wrong.

    3. TomOfTheNorth

      Agreed jo6pac. This story should not be characterized as an example of inequality & excess. In short,1) man has daughter w/special needs. 2) Man builds highly accessible amusement park open to the public. 3) Life-changing goodness ensues…..

    4. Savonarola

      Thank you, jo6pac. I read it and thought exactly the same thing. What this man did is actually wonderful and continues to be wonderful. I might have to go donate.

    5. Massinissa

      I’m not sure I would go as far as to say its completely wonderful, I cant but assume theres some kind of angle (also read Eclair’s comment), but on the other hand, it seems decent enough that its curious to see in Guillotine Watch. I hate to say this, but I wonder if Lambert read the article or just read the headline. There are FAR more egregious things in this world than making theme parks for the disabled.

  3. duffolonious

    A “Normy” is someone not in the beautiful people’s club (Family Guy episode He’s Too Sexy for His Fat):

    Peter: “Well, I’m going to the beautiful people’s club. I guess I can him with me. Hell, seeing us all in one place, might give him something to shoot for.”
    Lois: “The Beautiful People’s club, ha, how, how come I’ve never heard of that?”
    Peter: “Lois, I can’t say anymore. I’m probably already in trouble for mentioning to, a, uh, well, we, call you Normies. Okay bye!

    Perfect for Silicon Valley, no?

    1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      ‘ E ‘ from the Eels, the son of Hugh Everett III originator of the the many-worlds interpretation of Quantum theory wrote a song called ‘ Guest List ‘ :

      Are you one of the beautiful people
      Is my name on the list
      Wanna be of the beautiful people
      Wanna feel like i’m missed

      Hey you with the walkie talkie
      I know my clothes are not right
      I wish i had my own walkie talkie
      That reached to god every night

      Everyone needs to be somebody
      Everyone needs to find someone who cares
      But i don’t know if you know what i mean
      ’cause i’m never on your list

      Are you one of the beautiful people
      Am i on the wrong track
      Sometimes it feels like i’m made of eggshell
      And it feels like i’m gonna crack

      Everyone needs to be somebody
      Everyone needs to find someone who cares
      But i don’t know if you know what i mean
      ’cause i’m never on your list.

    2. craazyboy

      Peter Thiel admits, sardonically, with an Evil Laugh….

      “Don’t trust anyone under 30 – We want your blood!”

      Aside – Deep Thawt: I guess this really isn’t that shocking to someone who is brainwashed in Free Market Mechanisms to distribute risk vs. reward?!

      1. Procopius

        I have read that Robert Mercer, Trump’s biggest donor and fitting right in with all the wacko-birds there, believes that a person’s moral worth is shown by their income.

  4. Robert St.

    “Normy.” Rather reminds me of “muppet.”

    Should have said Muggle. It’s more insultingly dismissive and infantile, perfect for Silicon Valley types.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Reminds me of the dismissive epithet “townie” that people in academia often use to describe the poor, pitiable, unlucky souls who neither teach, administer, or take classes in so-called college towns.

  5. Antifa

    Hillary wants to preach? Mmm-hmm.

    Hillary wants to work on her political persona, in preparation for future campaigns for positions of power — whatever becomes available.

    When Douglas MacArthur was definitively escorted out of public affairs, he just faded away. Can Hillary not do that?

    What part of ‘Go Away’ eludes her?

    1. DJG

      Antifa: As a bad Catholic and a bad Buddhist, all I can say is that even I will take Pope Francis anyday over Clinton.

      And there’s this:
      “Hillary finds it hard to talk about religion a lot,” McCurry said. She “comes from the Methodist tradition, which, like many more liberal, mainstream Protestant denominations, is a little more buttoned up.”

      Except for the times when the Methodists were forcing Prohibition on the rest of the country and enforcing their self-perceived moral rectitude.

      The whole article with its “Is she a Christian? Isn’t she a Christian?” rhythm made me realize just how lunatical both of the Clintons are. They are as loony as the Trump family. And as you say: Why can’t she go away? Why can’t she convert to Catholicism and join an order of cloistered contemplative nuns?

      1. roxy

        “If you are an unmarried, healthy, Catholic woman practicing the Faith for at least two years, and are between the ages of 16 and 30, you may contact the Novice Mistress” Benedictines of Mary. Kinds leaves HRC out.

    1. Uahsenaa

      The very definition of American Exceptionalism: the ability to commit war crimes with complete impunity.

    2. Ranger Rick

      What can be whitewashed about it? The bombs were dropped, the cities were destroyed, civilians died, and Japan surrendered. That’s how history records it. The analysis, on the other hand, is awash with people rationalizing or decrying the decisions and political climate that led to the creation and deployment of the atomic bomb.

      How you react to it is a personal decision, but the historical significance of the event has never been disputed or revised.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The rationale here is this (possibly, for we don’t know how many would have died in an invasion):

        Is an act of lesser violence justified, if it prevents greater violence?

        Regardless of the number of death, for either side, in this particular case, it is an eternal question.

        The other question is this:

        If by my acting non-violently, violence ensues (by those on my side, or by people on the other side), do I act non-violently?

        Scenario 1: Calling for a non-violence protest, knowing force will be likely used, is that violence in one’s soul, but non-violence in one’s physical acts?

        Scenario 2: If a bad threatens to kill others around you, and you have a gun to stop him, do you act non-violently?

        1. Baby Gerald

          The TAC article is yet another annual attempt to relativize and cast guilt regarding the two bombings that ended the war with Japan. No mention in the story about the atrocities perpetrated by the Japanese on their Chinese and Korean neighbors, or the civilian populations that bore the brunt of the Japanese aggression, or even how the war started. No mention of the island-by-island campaign to drive the Japanese army out. No mention either of the warnings given to Japan before the bombs were dropped. Nope. We dropped the bombs because we’re vengeful people.

          What is it with the proliferation of this binary thinking? I’ve always assumed it was a little of both ‘let’s end the war quickly’ and ‘let’s give ’em what’s comin’ to ’em’, not one or the other.

          The comment section following the article by readers more familiar with the author provides better insight into the subliminal messaging going on here.

          To see this story appear at the same time as another op-ed in the NYT on Saturday that calls the dropping of the bombs a ‘war crime’ without any reservation indicates to me some focused attempt by the powers that be to re-define what a war crime actually is.

          A friend of my brother maintains a cool blog mostly about NY trivia called ‘Stuff Nobody Cares About’. Last night he wrote what I thought was an excellent commentary about this topic and the NYT op-ed [with a link to the original article included] here:

          Hiroshima And The New York Times – Let’s Rewrite History Two Subversive Words At A Time

          1. Plenue

            We dropped the bombs as a live fire weapons test and as a demonstration to the Soviets.

            The claim that we did it to force a quick surrender and that we avoided a costly invasion has several problems, the first being that plenty of people in charge didn’t have any desire to mount an invasion at all. Japan had no force projection left; what was left of its navy was too scared to leave port. We utterly dominated the skies to the point that the B-29s used for the atomic bombings didn’t even have escorts, and we had already burned down essentially every major city in Japan with mass firebombings. Simply blockading the home islands was viewed as a viable strategy, and in fact the mining of the inter-island shipping lanes was causing massive damage and hardship all on its own. The oft-sighted one million casualties figure for an invasion of the home islands was the extreme end of one estimate for one particular plan, a plan that didn’t have universal acceptance, and in fact plenty of powerful voices didn’t want any invasion plan at all.

            And there’s also a very compelling argument that the bombs didn’t drive the Japanese to surrender anyway. The Soviet invasion of Manchuria did. Again, we had already demonstrated completer control of the skies and the ability to completely destroy cities through conventional means. Whether with one bomber or with hundreds, the Japanese were equally powerless to stop both. The prospect of the Soviets taking Hokkaido though, and having a say in post-war affairs in Japan, that was something they realty didn’t want at all. If anything forced their surrender, it was that, and not yet another demonstration of American aerial domination.

            And everything you post about Japanese atrocities is essentially non sequitur. Two wrongs don’t make a right (this is literally kids stuff). First of all I wasn’t aware of Japan being a democracy, and secondly even if it was collective punishment and deliberate targeting of civilians are acts of terrorism. And don’t try and claim we didn’t deliberately target civilians, that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were legitimate military targets and everyone else was just unfortunate collateral damage. We targeted both bombs above the city center (the one at Nagasaki actually drifted a mile off target and detonated right above the Christian cathedral, in a huge bit of irony), the military base at Hiroshima actually survived relatively unscathed. Not to mention that dropping the bombs in no way prevented Japanese atrocities. The atrocities had already happened. Unless you think it was warranted because of ‘justice’ or ‘balance’. Kind of undermining your dismissal of vengeance as a motive there buddy.

            Also, on that note, the framing of the atomic bombings as retribution for Pearl Harbor was being done literally from the first public announcement of the bombings.

            And of course this is all on top of the simple fact that the Japanese had been attempting to negotiate a conditional surrender via Moscow for months, and the US was well aware of these efforts. We insisted we would only accept unconditional surrender, but in the event MacArthur allowed the Japanese to keep the Imperial Household. In effect they got their number one condition anyway. The nukes literally didn’t achieve their publicly claimed goal.

            There is revisionism around the atomic bombings, and it exists entirely on the pro-bombing side. It’s revisionism that has been engaged in since right after the bombings and the true extent of the horror that had been unleashed began to be understood. It’s a revisionism of sweeping under the rug the many people (MacArthur, Leahy, LeMay, Spaatz, Eisenhower, Einstein, Hoover) who dissented both before and after the bombings, as well as revisionism about how the decision to use nukes was difficult. It wasn’t; Truman was eager to test out his new super-toy from the second he was told about its existence.

            1. todde

              Plenty of people wanted a blockade, especially navy and air force commanders.

              But what we don’t have is estimated civilian casualties from the blockade.

              I’ve always read between 1 to 7 million.

              Let us know what you find out.

              1. Yves Smith

                You are ignoring the key fact, which Plenue provided towards the end of his long comment: the Japanese had been suing for peace since April 1945, if not sooner, and the US was negotiating but in a pretty dilatory manner. There was no need for a blockade. The Japanese knew they were done.

                  1. Plenue


                    This has surrender attempts being attempted via Moscow at least in July, But this:
                    implies the efforts were being made as far back as April, before even the firebombing of Tokyo.

                    Regardless, the claim that Japan was refusing to surrender and needed a nuclear kick in the ass to compel them to give up simply isn’t true, and the US knew at the time that it wasn’t true. And even if it was, they had no force projection left. Their fleet was in shambles, and they couldn’t even muster enough aircraft to put up a meaningful defense of Tokyo, much less anywhere else. Blockading the island and continuing to mine the sea lanes was an entirely viable strategy.

  6. a different chris

    >an American Army supply convoy rushing ammunition from Germany to Romania was held up at the Austrian border until the next Monday by restrictions on military convoys during busy summer vacation travel periods

    Vacation travel. Let this just stand next to the story, that I keep bringing up, where the tanker ran over our destroyer and didn’t even realize it. We are the guy who was the coolest in high school, but now everybody’s graduated and we haven’t clued in on that yet.

    1. Procopius

      Say, that reminds me. I haven’t heard anything about how that investigation is proceeding. Have they explained yet why the Captain of the destroyer was asleep in his cabin while another ship was so close to his? Have they explained yet why the destroyer’s radar evidently did not detect the presence of the cargo ship? That is a very strange case. I suspect the “investigations” are going to take years and then the findings will be classified at a very high level.

  7. financial matters

    Making Sense of Turkey’s Syria Strategy: A “Turkish Tragedy” In the Making War on the Rocks by Burak Kadercan


    I like the idea of the US working with Russia, Syria and Iran to mediate the Turkey/Kurdish problems.

    This has 2 main obstacles.

    1) The US Congress which has just voted overwhelming on sanctions on Russia mainly as an energy war to help sell our natural gas to Europe.

    2) Israel has problems with Iran’s support of Hezbollah in protecting Palestine/Lebanon/Syria.

    1. Gaianne

      War on the Rocks is usually pretty good, but this article is surely an exception to that!

      Nothing is included about Turkish goals, needs, or internal pressures—whether political or economic. Nor actual strategies or possible strategies. This same lack extends to the other players in the region. All we have is a lot of talk about “Greek [-style] tragedy”, “quest for glory and gratification”, “weigh[ing] in as a power-broker”, and other such emotion-laden but empty phrases. The description of Libya as culturally unified (as compared to Syria) is an astonishing in the aftermath of Libyan disintegration and multi-sided civil/proxy war. Equally bad is the talk of the Turkish fight against ISIS—last year’s Russian publication of reconnaissance of the ISIS-Turkish oil tanker-truck traffic (in advance of bombing it) seems to have totally eluded the author’s attention. Given that he is a professor at the US Naval War College, this is perhaps the case.

      Taking the authorship itself as key to understanding this article, we see that the main point of the article is the call by a would be policy-maker for the US to broker a truce between Turkish and Kurdish forces, rather than let things drift with the US more or less simultaneously supporting both sides of the combat. Viewed in this light his point is simple and obvious, though perhaps intellectually challenging to his intended audience. Whether the US actually has the power and ability to do this, and how it would be managed given the other powers in the region, are of course totally beyond his scope.


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The Silicon Valley is also too big.Competition authorities need a digital upgrade FT

      We Need More Alternatives to Facebook MIT Technology Review

      Former Facebook exec paints a grim picture of where the U.S. will be in 30 years MarketWatch (Re Silc). “‘Every time I meet someone from outside Silicon Valley – a normy – I can think of 10 companies that are working madly to put that person out of a job,’ [Antonio Garcia Martinez] said.” “Normy.” Rather reminds me of “muppet.”

      If Trump wants to bring more competition into those areas, he will get a lot of support.

  8. Tertium Squid

    Zuckerberg 2020

    All the photos show the billionaire looking concerned and enlightened. He is the subject, and not the people or things he is learning so much from.

    1. HotFlash

      Yeah, our Justin Trudeau had that look down pat, too. I predict great things for that Zuckerberg kid. Pah!

  9. Tertium Squid

    Now, as Clinton works to rehabilitate her public image and figure out the next steps after her brutal November loss, religion is taking a central role. After long months of struggling to persuade Americans that she is trustworthy, authentic, and fundamentally moral, Clinton is lifting up an intimate, closely guarded part of herself.

    Another rebrand! Is she running still, or has this stuff second nature now?

    1. integer

      Quoting the blurb from the 7th result of a DuckDuckGo search for “Clinton reintroduction”:

      “No matter how many times they “reintroduce” her, Hillary Clinton will always be disliked …”

      The 1st result was: Re-Re-Re-Reintroducing Hillary Clinton – The New York Times

  10. Trojan Horse

    Democratic socialists: in Europe they were the ones implementing neoliberalism. Think Blair-types all the way. For exampled, the Social Democrats (party of the Vietnam-protesting Olof Palme) in Sweden were really on to it when healthcare and education was privatized. They also set up their own shops so now theybare refusing to ban profits in, e.g., healthcare and education even though a bit more than 70% of the population wants to ban it.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Technically, “social democrats” aren’t necessarily the equivalent of “democratic socialist.” The word order of the former describes traditional liberals who embrace social programs when they’re useful. The second applies to socialists who are trying to counter the conflation of “socialism” with “communist dictatorship.”

    1. Romancing The Loan

      Surely true progress would entail, at the very least, not arbitrarily separating the identical shades of powders, creams, and stick cosmetics by the gender presentation of the consumer?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We all all victims of the propaganda, “Don’t accept what you are. You should look different than you do now.”

      “Deodorant? Your natural smell is not natural for this work place.”

      1. Richard

        With respect MLTPB, I would not put deodorant in the same category as makeup. It does offer a concrete material benefit to those around you, after all.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I’ve grown accustomed to its absence, but I have been told that in many places around the world, it is what it is…and not a nuisance nor does it represent sticking foreign (molecular) objects into other bodies.

          1. Richard

            Let me paint a scenario for you. You are teaching 30 or so 7th graders in a small room on a warm May afternoon. Half of them of not bathed, at least, because they still dwell at least partly in that earlier childhood land where it’s not a daily thing. God bless them for not growing up too fast, but….
            So all I’m saying: Every middle school teacher I know is a huge fan of deodorant!

            1. JTFaraday

              In my nephews’ elementary school, they hand it out in health class. I think it’s in 5th grade.

              They’re prepared to be very immature about it.

        2. Elizabeth Burton

          It offers a material benefit because the people have been taught that “nice people don’t stink.” After a few generations of people being told their bodies are nasty things that need to be scrubbed raw, powdered and de-scented lest they be mistaken for people who work hard but don’t necessarily earn enough for fancy concoctions, introducing the idea that those chemicals are doing heaven knows what to our personal chemistry is an exercise in futility.

          It’s like thinning hair now being accepted as a characteristic of aging in women, with total disregard for the fact most have been dousing their heads with said chemicals for decades, not to mention hiding that nasty gray stuff.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              If 7th graders are oblivious to the offensive smell, is it inherently and objectively bad, or have we learned or been conditioned to perceive it as bad?

              1. Plenue

                I mean if you want to stink of sweat and grime, go ahead, but I’m not going anywhere near you.

              2. VK

                Our ways of hygiene and the ways how bodily appearance is cultivated, the impression one’s color, shape, form asf. makes, is in manyfold ways presented as “objective” necessity, but mostly is culturally constructed norms. As is mostly the case, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.
                But, as is likewise the case, that beauty is continously confused/conflated with moral(ity).
                The basic assumption is very simple: The way you look is how you morally are.
                Put in another way: Bad people are/behave ugly, good people are well behaved and beautiful.

                That’s the whole basis, on which a complete bunch of heavily industrialized branches of production and advertizing run, exploiting that basis of social norms and customs, resulting/stemming from a very shaky ground of traditional assumptions.
                While appearance, especially beauty, is connected to moral(ity), it is also connected to (rightfully earned) success.

                Where Mr.Trump comes in: He hasn’t great hair, he isn’t JFK. Ergo: His success can’t be rightfully earned. He must be an imposter. Which he is. QED ;-)

            2. witters

              Well, I find perfume to “objectively smell bad”. But what fun mixing it!

              “Many of perfumery’s most venerable creations owe their sensuality to the use of animal ingredients with a certain “spray” element: civet, a faecal paste extracted from the anal glands of the civet cat; castoreum, a leathery emission from the genital scent sacs of the castor beaver; ambergris, a briny and vomitous by-product of the digestive system of sperm whales; and musk secreted from the sheath gland of the musk deer have all been popular perfume ingredients. Then things become still more complex: civet may be cut with hair or – brace yourself – infant excrement.”

              1. Plenue

                I have no love of perfume either. I’m not saying replace BO with something else, I’m saying just naturalize the BO smell and replace it with nothing.

                1. Anon

                  Well, BO is a function of bacteria on your skin. A quick dip in the lake, a shower, or warm wash cloth should suffice to suppress.

          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            I have to say, and a shame none of you can verify it, but I never get complaints from friends, family, coworkers, or strangers, and haven’t used deodorant since I was a teenager.

            I totally agree we have been sold a bill of goods (quite literally) with modern hygiene. No one needs to wash their hair on a daily basis!

  11. Carolinian

    Been reading your Hamilton 68 essay from last December.

    AH: “The little arts of popularity”….”foreign powers…raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy” (meaning Jefferson–enthusiast for the French revolution?). That Hamilton was a pill. One suspects he himself spent some time condemning deplorables or words equivalent. Perhaps he called them creatures.

    Still the founders seemed deeply suspicious of executive power so perhaps the current would be neutering of Trump is something they would like. The problem is “cabal.” Had HRC become president the Dems would be eagerly giving her more power, not less.

    While many of us have always poohed poohed the “Deep State” around here it may be time to admit that it does indeed exist. According to an American Conservative article linked here the other day the reason Trump and Tillerson hired Mitt Romney’s foreign policy dream team was because there was nobody else experienced in the field to hire. The neocons have truly taken over DC. This sinister and seemingly inextinguishable permanent government is probably something the founding fathers never could have imagined.

    1. Craig H.

      Creature is a word of power. It hearkens to “In the beginning God created . . .” There is a wealth of amateur psychology data in listening carefully to the intonation of a Catholic priest using the word. Or get a Roman Catholic catechism and search on *creature*.

      If Naked C. wanted to mess with us the antidote could be re-titled incorporating the word.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Just the English word for ‘creature,’ or just the Latin word for it only (or as well)?

        1. Craig H.

          Creatura is the Latin. I don’t know if it works better. My copy of Ars Goetia has dust on the top of it. Also I only ever used it for the pictures.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      One suspects he himself spent some time condemning deplorables or words equivalent. Perhaps he called them creatures.

      One would be correct. Hamilton had no problem sticking it to the deplorables of his day. You think the aristocratic Sec of the Treasury was going to finance the fledgling nation by taxing those of his own class? Perish the thought!

    3. Yves Smith

      Stop straw manning us. This has become virtually a daily practice of yours.

      Lambert and I have never claimed that the CIA and its murky allies don’t wield way too much power. What we object to is the expression “Deep State” one, because “State” implies that its exercise of power is legitimate when it isn’t; two. the supposed classic book on the topic by Mark Lofgren, as Lambert described long-form, is internally inconsistent to the point of being incoherent in try to say exactly what the “Deep State” is; three, another connotation is that its members are all powerful when they are no different than other bureaucrats and among other things, screw up and engage in lots of unproductive infighting. Lambert prefers more neutral terms like The Blob but we lost the nomenclature battle long ago.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        Caity Johnstone uses “Deep State” to describe the hidden forces—political, economic, whatever—working to maintain the neoliberal economic system and establish once and for all a plutocratic oligarchy. Works for me.

      2. Carolinian

        Actually by “many of us” i meant myself. It was just a figure of speech..

        Perhaps instead of Deep State one should simply say there is such a thing as deep government, without the capitalization. Or not. My comment was not intended to be quarrelsome but more in the nature of “thinking out loud.”.

  12. JohnnyGL

    Anyone spot this? This is why people hate Democrats.

    Gore’s communications director, Betsy McManus, told me in an email. She didn’t dispute Johnson’s claims of Gore’s energy use, rather his assertion that Gore has been ineffective at getting as much of his energy consumption as possible from renewable sources. “Vice President Gore leads a carbon neutral life by purchasing green energy, reducing carbon impacts and offsetting any emissions that cannot be avoided, all within the constraints of an economy that still relies too heavily on dirty fossil fuels,” McManus said.

    Telling me that I shouldn’t sweat Al Gore’s hypocrisy because he cuts a few checks to ‘offset’ what he’s doing in his lifestyle is ridiculous on its face and probably does more than the Koch Bros could ever dream of to undermine the case for action on climate change.

    The ‘virtue signaling’ is rampant here. The article goes on to mention Leo DiCaprio, Elon Musk and Barack Obama as other examples. I’ll cut DiCaprio a little more slack because he’s not nearly as rich and powerful as the others in the article. It’s arguable that he’s an actor and that using his celebrity is all he can really do. However, if he’s going to be taken seriously on the climate change issue, he should at least scrap the yacht as a sign of intent.

    However, Obama had 8 years of chances and only did a bit in the original stimulus bill for CAFE standards, beyond that he basically phoned it in. Since then, he’s too busy partying on jet skis with Richard Branson and squashing every grassroots attempt to change the Democratic Party.

    Elon Musk may have some promising ideas, or maybe not, but he’s a billionaire and he’s soaking taxpayer funds for every factory he builds and every self-indulgent spaceship he launches, funded by NASA contracts. If fixing climate change can only be done by corrupt giveaways to billionaires, then we’re clearly doomed as a society.

    Also worth pointing out is that these sorts of attacks hit home with with average people because ours is a society where people are suffering, living standards are falling, lifespans are shorting, opioid addiction is killing thousands, inequality is rampant, and mistrust of elites is at an all time high (for good reason). Trying to tell people it’s time to come together and launch a real WWII-level of mobilization to reduce carbon footprints requires a trustworthy messenger. Scheming billionaires and their political allies are NOT those messengers and they probably undermine the message. Sadly, New Republic doesn’t get it, and neither do the elites that they defend.

    1. Outis Philalithopoulos

      Thanks for flagging this piece. Another passage that caught my attention was:

      And unlike Tucker Carlson or Ann Coulter, who almost certainly have above-average carbon footprints, people like Gore are using their wealth for good.

      In context, the NR is arguing here that while Gore may have a very large carbon footprint, Tucker Carlson probably does as well – and actually, since Gore is on the side of good, we should consider his carbon footprint as less damning than Carlson’s.

      1. Carolinian

        Virtue signaling washes away all sins. But it’s the New Republic so slippery arguments are the norm.

        And Gore being on the side of the good may not be so good anyway. As discussed here in the past the political hostility toward Gore from some quarters means his advocacy could be doing the cause of AGW more harm than benefit.

      2. JohnnyGL

        Al Gore could very easily fund projects like this….thousands of them. He and others could raise money to do this kind of thing over and over again. Little projects like this are win-win-win. Better lives for local people, better to protect bio-diversity, better to trap carbon, etc.

        Does he do this? No he doesn’t. Instead, back in 2008 at least, he supported schemes like this:

      3. Left in Wisconsin

        Why is Al Gore not running for president? If the guy really wants to save the world from climate change, wouldn’t a run for president be the most influential thing he could do? (Esp. if he won.) There is no way he can argue he is having more influence as a private citizen promoting documentaries than he would as president, or even just on the stump campaigning. And he would be able to put forward a governing platform that would truly save the world. How is what he is doing now at all comparable in addressing The Inconvenient Fate of the Planet, or whatever his branding is?

        Another possibility is that he is simply FoS.

    2. Praedor

      Musk is less into reversing/mitigating climate change as he is escaping to Mars to escape climate change.

      It’s retarded, immensely expensive, and doomed to fail as a lifeboat for (rich) humans but he’s doing it anyway because he has more money than he, or anyone else, should have. They get above a certain point and they go full retard on what they spend it on.

      Peter Thiel is using his to buy blood from 20-somethings in a hope that he can live forever…all while pushing “I got mine! Fuck off!” to the rest of humanity with his libertardianism.

      1. subgenius

        Musk is doing it to keep up the profile that allows him to con the government into handing him.billions for stupid ideas like battery cars and rockets… which are doomed if one cares to pay attention to things like physics, ecology, society.

  13. s.n.

    Phil Weiss of Mondoweiss sees American Likhudite attacks on McMaster as a sign the “realist faction” is emerging triumphant – not least in preserving the Iran deal . No word on how Kushner fits into the supposedly changing balance of power

    McMaster solidifies power at NSC — and supports Iran deal, sees Israel as occupier

    maybe a tad prematurely (and over-) optimistic?

  14. DJG

    The Kra Canal article in the Nikkei Asian Review is fascinating. First proposed 350 years ago by Thai royalty (Thailand has by and large been lucky in its kings, and we won’t mention the execrable musical.)

    This paragraph indicates that, in an economy as large as the Thai economy, the canal is feasible:

    “According to a Thai-language book published by the canal’s promoters, the waterway alone would cost $28 billion. A surrounding special economic zone would cost another $22 billion, which would fund related industries and infrastructure, including new cities and artificial offshore islands built with excavated earth. The combined project would eventually create some 2.5 million jobs according to the promotional book — enough to employ one in four of the roughly 10 million inhabitants of southern Thailand. Locals who would lose land to canal construction would be paid compensation based on a percentage of the tolls levied on ships using the canal.”

    So would that canal turn Bangkok into a turbo-charged Singapore North? Are there benefits all along the east coast of Thailand?

    Thanks for posting: Thailand is one of those important countries that seems never to turn up in U.S. news (like Brazil).

    1. Bob

      My wife of 40 years is Thai and I forwarded the link to her. Her comment is that this is unlikely to ever come into existence because it would produce a physical separation of the predominately Muslim southern provinces from the rest of the predominately Buddhist nation. There is already considerable friction and violence between the two regions as the Muslims in the south have wanted to join with Malaysia, a predominately Muslim nation. Creating a physical barrier would likely improve the strategic position of the secessionists in the south. And the bridges that would need to be created to join the north and south would forever be targets.

      1. John k

        Countries try to hold on to ethnic regions that want to split, like India and Kashmir, turkey and the Kurds… but usually no Econ reason, and lots of benefits like simply less conflict if they let go.
        If all those generals and the locals want it, and the bucks are so big, plus china wants it… and just one man stopping it… and maybe waiting for better deal from china… I’ll bet on it happening.

      2. Olga

        Wow, it helps to have insight from someone who knows the region. On the other hand, could it be that Chinese plans are presented as “prosperity for all,” so there’d be no need to push separation? Just wondering…

    2. Mel

      A century ago some French interests were promoting a canal because it would make Saigon’s future, taking the world’s freight far away from British Singapore. If the Thais were canny, they could possibly get a shipping advantage for their own manufactures as the traffic came through. The note I read is in Croquis d’Extrême-Orient at Project Gutenberg. Of course one journalist doesn’t make it so. I’ve posted this before, i think.

  15. fresno dan

    The Medicare Advantage program was supposed to save taxpayers money by allowing insurers to offer older Americans private alternatives to Medicare. The plans now cover 19 million people, a third of all those who qualify for Medicare. Enrollee satisfaction is generally high, and studies show that plans offer higher quality than traditional Medicare. But the government pays insurers more than they pay out for patient care — in some years, it turns out, a great deal more.
    Paradoxically,*** even though Medicare Advantage plans cost taxpayers more than traditional Medicare, they spend less on care. In fact, one of the motivations of the program is to capture that lower spending as savings for taxpayers. It hasn’t worked out that way.

    Why does the government pay Medicare Advantage plans so much more than it costs them to cover care? It’s partly an intentional, if controversial, design of the program. Congress has established payment formulas and authorized bonus programs intended to help the private market.

    The government also pays insurers for administrative and marketing expenses. Yet even when these additional expenses are factored in, the government still pays plans an excess. According to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, federal payments to the plans exceeded health care costs and other expenses by 8.5 percent in 2010. Though the Affordable Care Act has reduced payments to plans and limits the amount they can attribute to administration and marketing, they still receive government payments in excess of their costs today.
    As I have said a zillion times, all “reform” in the US is simply a chimera to make the rich richer…or to supply less service at higher prices.
    And after all the wailing about “government health care” we will hear incessant calls to use the “market” MORE…

    ***Paradoxically only applies when it is “unexpected”

    1. marym

      Though the Affordable Care Act has reduced payments to plans and limits the amount they can attribute to administration and marketing…

      The medical loss ratio (percentage of premium income that insurance companies are required to spend on health care and “quality improvements”) for Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D (prescription drugs), and privatized Medicaid managed care is 85% .

      Before the ACA there were no federal constraints. Medicaid left it up to the states (only 11 had a mandated MLR). Don’t know about the other programs.

      For comparison – administrative costs for Canadian and original US Medicare are about 2 to 3%.

      1. HotFlash

        Thank you, MaryM; yes, yes and yes.

        I askl my US and (Cdn Libertarian) friends and realations, “Do you shop at Costco? The government is a big buying club, the biggest. Get your medical care, education, roads, garbage collection, and all that stuff *cheaper* because of volume purchasing.”

        Some say, “Yeah, you’re right!” Some maintain that they don’t need that stuff since they live healthy, or whatever. Yeah, and my Libertarian friend (Mr. “I pay my doctor in cash”) sure got his OHIP card fast enough when he needed a hernia repair.

  16. jfleni

    RE: We Need More Alternatives to Facebook.

    Whats wrong with the real Killer app: Email!

    A simple directory or data base could easily filter out the places where your new and old “Friends” are to be found. Almost any yuppie-nerd worthy of the name could set up a better and more useful system than “Butt-book”. Go to it all you yuppie nerds and “Friends”!

    1. cocomaan

      I’ve got another alternative.

      Talking. It’s the original social networking tool.

      By speaking, you can engage in the “OG” collaboration model that humanity was built upon! Speaking the same language as someone else really opens up communication between human beings. You can even speak to multiple people at once. Depending on the setting, you can speak to thousands of people!

      As a bonus, you can use body language to supplement your talking, making your meanings much clearer or less clear, depending on your mood.

      As a bonus, if you’re interested in privacy, you can instantly have your words “deleted” as vibrations of molecules in the air only go so far and last so long before the energy dissipates.

      The best part is that this social network is completely ad free!

      1. neo-realist

        With email as opposed to talking, you can seriously think about what you want to say before you say it and write specifically want you want to say and send it w/o the risk of engaging in contrived boring irrelevant small talk in speaking.

        No uuuhs or uncomfortable silences to waste time in email as you have with talking.

      2. HotFlash

        With talking you are limited to people you are within 10 feet or so of. Well, OK, there are phones and amplification, which I argue is unnatural, and broadcast is *not* the same as conversation. But I really enjoy talking with you, cocomaan, and the posters and denizens of NC around the world — and really, fancy that! Around the whole big world!

        Me, I bailed out of Facebook yrs ago, but still have more people to talk (in whatever form) to than I have time to talk. I do miss the old lists, though, sometimes — the rec. groups.

        1. cocomaan

          Does yelling count as talking? I can yell a good distance.

          I’d love a meetup somewhere in the Mid Atlantic, where I live, other than NYC. Someday!

    2. Xihuitl

      I run a small, local, nonprofit environmental organization, basically doing advocacy journalism around some very specific local issues, and Facebook has been an enormously useful and powerful tool for us to reach a great many people and scare the hell out of our opponents. We would be nowhere without it. It has allowed us not to have to depend on the local media for publicity — though we get that too.

      1. Yves Smith

        That does not prove that e-mail or even Twitter would not have worked too. Listservs are also powerful and well-established organizing tools.

        If you are on Facebook, they can shut you down any time.

        1. flora

          an aside: I have an overly long comment on this point -“they can shut you down at any time” – for the links later this morning, Aug. 8th.

        2. Xihuitl

          We do use email also. But you have to have people’s email addresses, including for Listservs. And of course we have a website.

          But we have almost 7,600 Followers on our Facebook page. No way we could have collected that many email addresses in such a short period of time. Most importantly, our opponents can easily see the strength of our public support, since the number is visible on our Facebook page. They and others who might not agree with us can read our information and arguments, and see our photographs, along with other random Facebook users, who can be drawn to our public posts, which we can advertise for a pittance.

          Twitter would work, and we should use it more. But the universe of Twitter users is fairly limited — as is Facebook users.

          I’m not arguing in favor of the private, arbitrary monopoly power of Facebook. Just pointing out that for us and other organizations it has helped build community and foster public dialog.

  17. B1whois

    This paragraph left me with little confidence the reporting in the oil price article on Venezuela:

    Arguably, in the United States of America, the attempts by the Administration of Pres. Barack Obama (2009-17) to remove weapons and ammunition from the general public actually stimulated the voter base to reject his ideals and those of his chosen successor in the 2016 Presidential election.

    What are unsubstantiated claim! This writer appears to have no clue.

  18. Uahsenaa

    Speaking solely as a DSA member, I think there will be some growing pains. As the membership is very (almost obnoxiously) young, there is a tendency to think that policing people’s thoughts on social media is a win in the class war, all the while neglecting other forms of strategic communications (I had to remind them to get people’s contact info at the last meeting) that might be used to broaden membership beyond college students and millennials.

    That said, DSA, unlike the Greens, for instance, actually does things: stands on picket lines with local unions, canvasses for increases in the minimum wage, challenges local development projects whose sole purpose is to gentrify neighborhoods, etc. My chapter and the DSA as a whole take local and state politics seriously, so I have some hope that things will build out into something more stable and long-lasting.

  19. Steve Roberts

    In regard to “coasters”. My nephew works at a MAJOR (the major?) tech company in the valley and his co-worker has been there about 10 years. He rides the shuttle from downtown San Francisco and actually works during the commutes. When you are on the shuttle it is deemed part of your work day. Thing is, he has a car on campus so he then drives to wherever he wants to go. He has a small plane which he flies to another city 1-2x per week (my nephew goes occasionally – it’s considered a work meeting). About 2 days per week he goes to the beach near Santa Cruz for the day. Gets back to work for a while and then takes the shuttle back to San Francisco. Any given day he works about 3 hours during the commutes but he’s actually on campus <5 hours per week.

  20. McWatt

    I saw an EM-50 Urban Assault vehicle the other day. It was outside our local high school on the fourth of July.
    It was painted black with silver logos of the Homeland Security Department. It looked ominous and stupid all at the same time.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Ominous: yes the EM-50 is ominous
      Stupid: that’s reserved for you and me for a.) allowing it to be there and b.) paying for it in the first place

  21. vidimi

    the strange thing about both amazon getting too big stories is that both sources are amazon-connected. bezos owns the wapo and has a significant stake in business insider as well. what angle is he playing?

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      what angle is he playing?

      Given the growing distrust of WaPo because of JB’s connection to the CIA, what better way to give the appearance of “balance” than to have said CIA mouthpiece do a couple harmless hit pieces on his empire? It won’t change a thing, and the uninformed will lap it up.

  22. RenoDino

    Hamilton 68:”unknowing participants (people who participate without realizing they are being manipulated).”

    This will be my defense when the show trails begin over who was a Russian stooge or just a dumb bunny.

  23. Dean

    The article is pretty embarrassing. Here is my comment if they fail to publish it there:
    The Smartmatic machines have a quite decent record during its early years. The Venezuelan elections back then were probably among the most fairly observed elections at the time, and the speculation that the company was started to “control” elections ignores the very real threat that the US and VE opposition parties posed to democracy at the time. The OAS even brokered a deal to stop usage of a given machine that the opposition was up in arms about in 2005. This same narrative of fraud has persisted among every armchair liberal commentator with the White Man’s Burden: if you can’t control a foreign state by overthrowing them or rigging their elections, then you need to delegitimize their free and fair elections. Only now is Maduro finally giving you what you’ve wanted for nearly 20 years. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophesy for all the kleptocrats in the VE gov’t and the Western pundits.

    Unfortunately, your moral hand-wringing can’t see the real problem: as VE gov’t eats its own legitimacy with fraud, the opposition is full of desperate vultures intent on eating the welfare and rights of the working class in VE, whose exploitation and lack of representation was never a problem for the hand-wringing liberal internationalists.

    Why should we trust your embarrassing prejudice? Westphalia doesn’t apply here, and your bizarre notion of legitimacy has never been the yardstick. It is a measure of sovereignty and international relations, not democracy. These high-minded attempts to paint a more timeless, misty-eyed gravity only serve to obscure the reality in Venezuela. Just stop.

  24. fresno dan

    When Erin Morrow, of Franconia, Pa., went to a local CVS pharmacy to pick up a prescription for her young son in April, she said she didn’t know about the Mylan generic and the pharmacist didn’t tell her one was available. Her plan paid $357.04 for the EpiPen Jr. two-pack. Later, a “health advocate” working for her employer told her that she could have gotten the generic, which would have cost her plan $81.54. Ms. Morrow said her health plan began limiting the coverage to Mylan’s generic and a rival product, starting July 1.

    Consumers like Ms. Bers, a lawyer from Longmeadow, Mass., say a number of factors in the complicated health-care system seem to push them to the costliest version.

    Ms. Bers’s drug plan—administered by the PBM Express Scripts—has no incentive to favor the cheaper generic version of EpiPen over the brand name. Her copay is the same either way—$30.

    When she went to the local CVS pharmacy in March to replace a two-pack for her 17-year-old son that had expired, she wanted to use a coupon from Mylan to cover the copay. But the pharmacist said she couldn’t use it for the generic, she says. She says the pharmacy never told her that Mylan also offered copay help for its generic.

    What’s going on here? Why would a plan restrict coverage to a generic?

    Such actions make little sense other than providing a mechanism for the healthcare companies to bitch about what patients cost the plan, so the plan can hike prices.
    Not to endorse Mish’s general heath care plan, but he does bring up some good points.

    I have to say that the “explanation of benefits” from my health insurance seems to be the same sort of marketing ploy super markets employ with their “discount cards” i.e., those cards that you give the clerk so you don’t have to pay “full price” i.e., the jacked up price that as far as I can tell almost NO ONE pays and is only done to make it seem like your getting a deal and disguise the true price.

    When I took my little ambulance ride to the hospital I was provided a bill that the ride cost about 2,200$. As it turns out, my insurance company paid them about 300$, and I paid 100$. If I had not had insurance, would I really have been expected to pay 2,200$??? Does anybody pay that cost??? IS my insurance paying a low price, a high price, an unfair price – unfair in that it is gouging the ambulance or the ambulance is gouging my insurance company (and therefore me)????

    And pretty much the same thing applies to the hospital and services (billed separately).
    Is this all a tax loss scheme run by the medical/insurance industry? I suspect yes….

    You know, I shop at WalMart and the Dollar stores sometimes – NO discount cards – you see the price, you pick it up, the clerk rings it up, you pays and you goes… And I shop at the chain grocers also, which make a big production out of me flashing my “discount card.” Now I happen to think the produce and some bakery items (and maybe the meat too, but I don’t buy cuts of meat so I can’t say) at the grocers is better and I don’t mind paying more, and there are also unique items not available elsewhere. And as it turns out, the spaghettios cost only a couple of cents more a can, so its not worth the time or effort to go to WalMart when I go to the regular grocers. I like having both options, and I think the transparency of the pricing serves me well.

    So are we spending trillions of dollars for “insurance discount cards” because there is no health “market” where you get to see the real price? Can the “real” price in fact be determined….or is it meant NOT to be determined?

    1. Bill

      many [doctors] now see a PE partnership as the key to remaining independent.
      … And more than a few take pleasure in the added bonus of being able to spend more time with patients.

      the delusions about PE are their greatest trojan horse. no one can see the slavering fangs until they are being devoured

  25. XXYY

    Every time I meet someone from outside Silicon Valley – a normy – I can think of 10 companies that are working madly to put that person out of a job

    It’s important to remember that “Silicon Valley” has gone from a place where fairly serious people did fairly worthwhile things (Hewlett-Packard, Intel, SRI, Xerox PARC) to a place where idiots with MBAs coalesce to try to con a billion dollars out of others without doing any work. Any place that would tout Juicero or Uber or Blue Apron as things that are going to change humanity is obviously not the home of people who are qualified to say anything profound.

    Having a billion dollars does not mean you are smart.

    Having said that, it is certainly not ridiculous to worry about the future of humanity.

    1. cocomaan

      I’m actually not that worried about the future of work. I haven’t seen much evidence at all that automated systems can manage anything better than human beings can using pens and paper. About the only AI that’s really been a success has been ATMs. And they simply didn’t put the bankers out of business.

      All this talk of AIs is snake oil, to me, a nice way to get headlines, get VC cash, and keep your cushy job in the Valley.

  26. Cat Burglar

    Getting a little tired of reading histories of the US socialist movement that trumpet the New Deal as a highpoint without mentioning 1934 in California, when a socialist Democratic candidate at the head of a movement calling for old-age pensions and a cooperative economy mounted a campaign so powerful it had to be sabotaged.

    Here is a link about the EPIC Campaign:

      1. Cat Burglar

        It is on my list.

        Sinclair’s book about the campaign, I, Candidate for Governor, and How I Got Licked, is worth a read.

        Very like the Sanders camp now, Sinclair’s electoral loss resulted in EPIC taking over many of the county Democratic committees and state party positions — they were able to elect a number of officials. It is worth contemplating the problems and successes they faced after they began. California’s enduring reputation for being on the left (historically referred to as “utopianism” in the east coast press) started with EPIC.

  27. MDBill

    Chris Hedges in June 2017 giving a benefit talk for KBOO (Portland, Oregon’s community radio station). The stated theme is “Stop Fascism”, but the talk is much more far reaching. Hedges starts by discussing the corrupt Roman emperor Commodus and how he was assassinated by the MIC of the day. The action changed nothing. This talk is not to be missed.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In the movie, the Fall of the Roman Empire, Commodus was killed by an ex-MIC guy, Livius, at the Forum.

  28. Altandmain

    Airlines – wouldn’t it be great if we could boycott?

    Not a surprise, but Paul Krugman opposes single payer:

    60% of House Democrats want a bill for defense even larger than Trump’s

    Who the left distrusts–why

    1. marym


      Moving to single-payer would mean taking away this [employer-based]coverage and imposing new taxes; to make it fly politically you’d have to convince most of these people both that they would save more in premiums than they pay in additional taxes, and that their new coverage would be just as good as the old.

      This might in fact be true, but it would be one heck of a hard sell.

      If only Paul had a platform from which to help sell this truth……

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Does anyone ever think Krugthullu could write “all work and no play make jack a dull boy” repeatedly for every column and find Democrats who would declare his scribblings to be “insightful”?

  29. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “Pentagon Money Pit …” — is this student piece really the best article available on this boondoggle? This was a large software project with components in all the branches of the military — and 2017 was the year everything was to be complete and DoD completely auditable.

    The Air Force fail on in this effort was famous for 15 minutes:
    “Back in 2005, the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) project began to take shape, with a $628 million contract for Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) to update the Air Force’s logistics systems with Oracle software. The project was dubbed the Expeditionary Combat Support System (ECSS), and was to be a significant contributor to a Department of Defense goal to be in line with Congressional auditability requirements by 2017.” [ Posted 11 Dec, 2012]

    As of a few years ago: Similar and greater amounts of money flowed through Army Logistics Commands and efforts were devoted to making the Army auditable — but not sure what went on in the Navy and its step-child the Marine Corps. The Army Headquarters issued a 100-plus-pages general order outlining how to make the Army auditable. Monies flowed through various channels. The general order seemed to be generally ignored — at least from what worker bees might see — and Empires crumpled, rice bowls broke, and new Empires arose with new rice bowls and SAP for all.

    But all’s been quiet even as the year 2017 begins its roll on the downhill toward 2018.

  30. allan

    Tiffany Trump parties with Hillary and Bill Clinton, Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez
    at hedge fund heiress’ wedding
    [SJ Mercury News]

    In case you didn’t realize it by now, here are how things work in the world.

    There are a select group of people who live in the rarified land of glass towers or vast country estates. They wear beautiful clothes, ride in limousine SUVs, have lots of power and go to one another’s weddings and donate to one another’s political campaigns.

    Many of those elements were in play Sunday night when Hillary and Bill Clinton, along with Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez, Huma Abedin and Tiffany Trump, attended the wedding of a hedge-fund billionaire’s daughter, the Daily Mail reported.

    The bride was 24-year-old Sophie Lasry. She’s the daughter of Avenue Capital Group founder Marc Lasry, who is worth an estimated $1.59 billion, was one of the top donors to Hillary’s presidential campaign and gave Chelsea Clinton her first job after she graduated from Stanford University.

    Sophie married Alexander Swieca, a 25-year-old former University of Michigan quarterback, who is the son of another billionaire hedge fund manager, Henry Swieca. The opulent event took place at Cipriani Wall Street. …

    Insert standard George Carlin quote …

      1. Massinissa

        I hate to say this, but she usually looks gaga. Whenever she tries to fake looking friendly or entertained (which is most of the time), she ends up looking deranged instead.

        1. Bill

          I think I also meant OLD-gaga, like granny you woke up and told she was going to the senior center for cake and milk.

  31. marym

    Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street

    Thanks to a little-noticed auction sale, a South Bay couple are the proud owners of one of the most exclusive streets in San Francisco — and they’re looking for ways to make their purchase pay.

    Tina Lam and Michael Cheng snatched up Presidio Terrace — the block-long, private oval street lined by 35 megamillion-dollar mansions — for $90,000 and change in a city-run auction stemming from an unpaid tax bill. They outlasted several other bidders.

    Now they’re looking to cash in — maybe by charging the residents of those mansions to park on their own private street.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      “There’s no point in acting surprised about it. All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display at your local planning department in Alpha Centauri for 50 of your Earth years, so you’ve had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaint and it’s far too late to start making a fuss about it now. … What do you mean you’ve never been to Alpha Centauri? Oh, for heaven’s sake, mankind, it’s only four light years away, you know. I’m sorry, but if you can’t be bothered to take an interest in local affairs, that’s your own lookout. Energize the demolition beams.” -Douglas Adams

    2. Katsue

      I don’t think they’ll get very far suing the city. They might have a better chance if they sued the homeowner’s association’s accountant.

  32. D

    08/07/17 Google staffer’s hostility to affirmative action sparks furious backlash ‘Manifesto’ arguing against promotion of race and gender diversity attributes lack of women in tech to ‘biological causes’

    Why yes, there are and always have been a majority of Antonio Garcia Martinez’ normies™ – working, living (just barely now), many born and raised there – right there in Silicon Valley, many of whom are now homeless, or approaching homelessness because of a horrid, stunningly homogenous handful of people such as himself.

    (thanks to . Generally some very good anti Technocracy reads at lib[rarian]shipwreck’s WordPress site, if one hasn’t visited it: .)

  33. D

    oh, and speaking of Librarian Shipwreck and Antonio Garcia [Non-Normie™!] Martinez:

    Some of the techno-utopians are worried they’ve built techno-dystopias, so they’re fleeing society & responsibility.…

    6:11 AM – 7 Aug 2017

    Secrets of Silicon Valley review – are we sleepwalking towards a technological apocalypse?

    Are the idealists ‘good guys’ who are challenging the old order or are they really tax-minimising corporations that threaten our future?

    Which links to:

    08/07/17 Secrets of Silicon Valley review – are we sleepwalking towards a technological apocalypse? Are the idealists ‘good guys’ who are challenging the old order or are they really tax-minimising corporations that threaten our future?

    Antonio García Martínez has seen the future and it is terrifying. Which is why he is going to set up home (“this is the drone room right here”) on a small island north of Seattle and live out the ravages of post-America, self-sufficiently, with a composting toilet and an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle [and a shit load of Money made at other’s expense – D]…

    Biting my ‘tongue’ so as not to obscure a main point, I’ll stop here.

  34. Jess

    Regarding the story about the guy detained for 3-1/2 years by ICE but no getting his compensation: From the text of the court decision:

    “Equitable tolling is a rare remedy to be applied in unusual circumstances, not a cure-all for an entirely common state of affairs,’ the majority wrote.”

    An entirely common state of affairs? So the government gets off the hook because they [family blog] like this on a regular basis? Oh FFS.

  35. Plenue


    Surprised no one has mentioned this yet. Two days ago the Syrian Army liberated the town of al-Sukhnah, east of Palmyra, though counter-attacks continue. The SAA are now about 70 miles of flat, open desert away from the city of Deir Ezzor, that has been under ISIS siege for over three years. Additionally, the SAA has for the past several weeks been cutting through territory south of the Kurds in and around Raqqa (the Kurds are bogged down trying to take the city, and are suffering massive casualties). They’ve reached the Euphrates and are less than 40 miles from Deir Ezzor from the northwest. They are now in position to march on the city from at least two axes.

    Before they do that though, they’ll probably advance north from al-Sukhnah to seal off a massive ISIS pocket, and may create a third axis of advance by going east from the meetup point. They’ve also been advancing towards the Euphrates along the Syrian-Iraq border to the southeast, which may be used as a fourth axis. SAA commanders have been estimating they’ll reach Deir Ezzor within two months, but it might not even be that long.

    Wikipedia has a pretty good article on recent events with a decent map.

    For a frequently updated map, but it seems to be pretty pro-‘opposition’, so use with caution.

    This war is winding down rapidly, though the US still refuses to accept this and it still holding a big blob of mostly empty desert terrain to the south of Palmyra along the Iraqi-Syrian border. Today we ‘accidentally’ killed about 40 Iraqi PMU fighters across from this territory inside Iraq.

  36. Olga

    NATO soldiers to participate in Ukrainian Independence Day military parade Defence Blog – kinda makes a mockery of “independence” part in that Independence Day holiday…

  37. nothing but the truth2

    we are not able to build tunnels because the people involved (wink wink) want to get millions of dollars per meter drilled.

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