Links 9/23/17

Two moose locked antlers in a fight, then froze together in a stream WaPo

Revealed: What ‘Mars astronauts’ missed most about Earth Sky News

Banking remains far too undercapitalised for comfort FT

Bitcoin is fiat money, too The Economist. Hmm.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s memo on London ban: ‘There is a high cost to a bad reputation’ Recode

Scott Walker’s Wisconsin Foxconn Deal Is Even Shadier Than It Sounds Esquire. Suicide nets not Made in the USA?

Senator Udall Demands Tougher SEC Pay-to-Play Enforcement, After IBT/MapLight Report International Business Times

The Coming War on Business David Brooks, NYT. From the right, interestingly enough.

North Korea

A North Korean nuclear test in Pacific Ocean could bring ‘terrifying’ fallout SCMP

China limits oil trade to North Korea and bans textile trade BBC

Lavrov on Trump, North Korea: ‘We Have to Calm Down the Hotheads’ Foreign Policy

South Korea Dispute Throws Wrench In US War Plans Mauldin Economics (JP).


Estimating Chinese GDP Using Night-Lights Data – Part 3 Of 3 Econintersect

One Belt, One Road and the Old Man and the Sea Splash 247

Japan’s Bomb in the Basement Asia Times


EU gives guarded welcome to May’s conciliatory Florence speech FT

Theresa May’s Florence speech – our writers’ verdicts Guardian

This new Tory Brexit battle will be the bloodiest of all The Spectator (Richard Smith). Richard Smith: “the Tory ferret sack.”

Time to abandon all hope? May’s ever more difficult two-level game Political Insight (MT).

Irish border data underlines huge task facing Brexit negotiators Guardian

England says Oliver is the most popular boys’ name, but it’s actually Muhammad Quartz

How Germany is integrating its refugees The Economist. Refugees who wouldn’t exist if Bush and Obama, with Clinton’s help, hadn’t set and kept the entire Middle East ablaze…

Don’t call the German election boring — it could be a huge shift for the eurozone MarketWatch

The Merkel Effect Jacobin

The Slow Death of Europe’s Social Democrats Der Spiegel (Re Silc). Re Silc: “Center anything won’t cut it.”

Catalonia has ‘contingency plans’ for independence vote EU Observer

Puigdemont an unknown entity in Spain until secession drive AP

Getting Russian Gas to Europe: Old Relationships Sprout New Wings E-International Relations (MT).


Syrians vote in Kurdish-held northern region Al Jazeera

As Cholera-Wracked Yemen Starves, Saudis Paint Rosy Picture of Their Relief Efforts Foreign Policy

New Cold War

JAMES CLAPPER: US intelligence assessment of Russia’s election interference ‘cast doubt on the legitimacy’ of Trump’s victory Business Insider

How Facebook sees the Russian ad scandal CNN. With companion story–

CNN poll: 54% say Russia-backed content on social media moved 2016 election CNN. Can anybody point me to contemporaneous evidence? There was a ton of voter interviewing done in 2016, much more than usual, as the press struggled to understand what was happening in the flyover states, and I can’t remember a single anecdote. I do try to keep track. Readers?

Russian hackers targeted Florida, 20 other states in 2016 election McClatchy. Note the caption: “Researchers would like to see the U.S. move entirely to computer-scannable paper ballots, since paper can’t be hacked.” No, because — follow me closely here, McClatchy — the scanners can be hacked. “Program testing can be used to show the presence of bugs hacks, but never to show their absence!” –Edsger W. Dijkstra, adapted. It follows that software should be removed from vote tabulation entirely; it’s a phishin equilibrium.

The Long Night Ahead Global Guerillas (CL).

Trump Transition

5 things Trump did this week while you weren’t looking Politico

The Supreme Court and Military Control of Civil Offices LawFare

Want Proof that Corporate Money Influences Politicians? This New Study Has It. In These Times (MT).

Democrats in Disarray

How She Lost Stanley Greenberg, The American Prospect. Very good.

The Democrats Are Taking Black Women for Granted TNR

On Heels of Progressive Wave, Rhode Island Expands Sick Leave to 100,000 Workers The Intercept. WFP members running as Democrats beat incumbent conservative Democrats. DSA take note!

Outlets That Scolded Sanders Over Deficits Uniformly Silent on $700B Pentagon Handout FAIR

Imperial Collapse Watch

Bernie Sanders wants world peace and prosperity. But he has no idea how to get there. Vox. Everything you would expect it to be.

Bernie Sanders To Democrats: This Is What a Radical Foreign Policy Looks Like The Intercept

Trump Signals Break From ‘Globaloney’ Transnationalism Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Globally, more people see U.S. power and influence as a major threat Pew Research

US Not Ruling Out Possibility of Venezuela Oil Embargo Venezuelanalysis

Health Care

Latest GOP effort to dismantle Obamacare on the brink of failure after defections WaPo. McCain to vote no, Collins leaning no.

Behind New Obamacare Repeal Vote: ‘Furious’ G.O.P. Donors NYT

Why Insurers Are Pulling Their Hair Out Over Graham-Cassidy The Fiscal Times. When you’ve lost Pete Peterson…

Here’s the biggest problem with the latest Obamacare repeal bill Robert Laszewski, CNN

Medicaid directors issue warning on new ObamaCare repeal bill The Hill

If the U.S. Adopts the G.O.P.’s Health-Care Bill, It Would Be an Act of Mass Suicide The New Yorker

The G.O.P. Bill Forces States to Build Health Systems From Scratch. That’s Hard. NYT

* * *

Sunday Hours: Obamacare Website To Be Shut Down For Portion of Most Weekends KHN. During open enrollment…

Democrat Duckworth not sold on Bernie Sanders’ ‘Medicare for all’ plan FOX. “…I just don’t think we are in a time right now where we should be taking these very strong stands…” If not now, when…

Police State Watch

How Taser inserts itself into investigations involving its own weapons Reuters

Guillotine Watch


Class Warfare

Sharing economy: Why we will barely own anything in the future (KW). Who’s “we”?

The History and Evolution of the Commons Commons Transition

The Effect of an Increase in Lead in the Water System on Fertility and Birth Outcomes: The Case of Flint, Michigan (PDF) Daniel S. Grossman and David J.G. Slusky, Department of Economics, University of Kansas

The U.S. Opioid Epidemic Council on Foreign Relations

Opening the black boxes: algorithmic bias and the need for accountability Privacy News Online

What We Sow is What We Eat Counterpunch

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Livius Drusus

    Re: sharing economy, this term is just a way to put a happy face on crapified, irregular labor arrangements. Young people aren’t buying homes and putting down roots because they cannot afford to not because they enjoy working in the sharing economy. Offer them a secure, traditional job and almost all of them will take it over a gig, I guarantee it.

    I always thought the “Millennials crave flexibility” meme was overblown. For one, it always reeked of the common habit of the media to portray a certain subgroup of hip urban youth as representing an entire generation. Second, it failed to take into consideration that trying to make it as a gigster is usually only fun when you are young and becomes less so when you get older and want to get married and have a family. The deep chasm between the expectations of modern youth and the reality that is waiting for most of them on the other side of 30 is likely behind the decline in happiness for adults over 30.


    1. Wukchumni

      I anticipate a collapse in the valuation of most all collectibles that will play out as baby boomers die off, as I can’t imagine people sharing them instead, and quite simply the available discretionary funds to support the market won’t be there.

      1. Bugs Bunny

        That’s very perceptive. I haven’t read much about the microeconomy of collectables (a definition would be useful as a first step) but I’m interested and very willing to read if anyone has some suggestions. I collect ancient art from a certain culture and my plan is to just donate it to the appropriate museum when I pack off to the netherworlds.

          1. Jess

            Not so sure on that 64 Mustang. I’m a huge car guy and follow the collector car/muscle car auctions pretty religiously. Here are a few recent examples of decreasing prices:

            1. The Holy Grail of vintage muscle cars is the 69 Mustang 429. Only 849 ever made, looks great, outrun just about anything on the road. At Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale two years ago, a restored one in perfect condition went for $550K, which is about what they had been commanding over the past decade. So last year at Barrett-Jackson at Mohegan Sun a “survivor” (original, un-restored) one comes up on the block. Thing is, this one has only 2,500 original miles and is in showroom condition. Mustang expert for B-J says he’s never seen an original car from the 60’s in such perfect condition. Car goes for $375K, and the announcers are astounded. (As are most viewers.)

            2. Same B-J auction in CT: 70 Dodge Dart. Granted, not as popular as a Cuda or Challenger, but this one is straight, great paint and interior, completely updated with coil-over front suspension and disc brakes, 426 hemi engine with 4-speed trans, and a rear-end from a late model Dodge SRT. Car sells for…$29K. Announcers proclaim that the buyer “stole that car”. And under normal circumstances, even a year ago, they’re right. (BTW, a huge number of cars at that auction went in the $25K or less range.)

            1. Wukchumni

              My 17 year old niece had to be persuaded to get her driver’s license, she really had no interest.

              Why would they care about old ‘unsafe’ cars from the past, in the future?

              1. Jess

                Generally, when people buy original restored old cars, they’re for very limited driving. Cruise night at the burger joint, etc. But nowadays the vast majority of those cars are what’s known as resto-mods. Restored but modernized. Hence the Dart I mentioned above, with modern suspension and brakes all the way around. In fact, there’s a huge industry in making everything you need to update most popular cars from the 20’s through the 80’s. You can build a complete car without ever having a single original piece. Bodies, body panels, tubular steel frames, complete suspensions, dashboards, windows and trim, a/c kits and power accessories, etc.

              2. Jess

                Just to add to my previous comment: Many people purchase or collect these older cars because they are, in the eyes of the beholder, art. And many of us agree. Today you often have to read the name plate on the car to determine the make and model. But you know a vintage Mustang from a vintage Camaro or Challenger in an instant. 55-57 Chevys are considered classics around the world. Same for GTO’s, Corvettes, the venerable 409, etc.

              3. HotFlash

                Another point is that collections take up space. Who has the room these days for a collection? Even one big thing, say a car or a grand piano. I know of a lovely Heintzman upright grand, beautifully maintained, free to good home, still looking a year later. It’s in a church, they got donated a grand from a parishioner who was downsizing and don’t have room for the upright.

                1. cgeye

                  I’m thinking that the rise in hoarder reality series, to all the articles pronouncing ‘your kids won’t want your stuff’, is to already downgrade the price of collectibles, so those who still have money to buy them can get them cheap.

                  Otherwise, why devalue items that are better made than those made now, such as dishes, silverware, and other fairly durable objects?

        1. Wukchumni

          Museums of course are one of the original ‘sharing’ platforms, but only a small fraction of the items they possess are on display @ any given time.

          About 20 years ago some 40 van Gogh’s were in LA on loan from the museum in the Netherlands, and I could never appreciate the incredibly deep brush strokes Vincent applied w/o seeing them in person prior, but oh my gosh, amazing. I’d much prefer stuff like that to be in a museum, than on some .0001%’ers living room wall…

    2. justanotherprogressive

      I might add that “renting” is not a part of a “sharing economy”. When I think of a “sharing economy”, I think of groups like the Mennonites who buy tools and goods for the community and everyone in the community gets to use those tools and goods as needed – and without cost (their “rent” is the work they do for the survival of all members of the community)….

      Even in areas where people know their neighbors well enough to loan tools to each other (for free) is a more “sharing economy” that what this author envisions….

      Amazing how the neoliberalists viewpoint (of “someone has to make money”) has infected even the meaning of “sharing”…..

      1. Ernie

        I am working now with a (just forming) local group in our (admittedly small) town to try to form a tool library (as an adjunct to a developing community “maker space”). I know tool libraries already exist in other areas. Why should free community libraries be limited to lending of books? To me, that can be the start of a real “sharing economy.”

        1. Alfred

          I believe that ‘the sharing economy’ must be understood as a euphemism for (the current form of) ‘the rental economy’. It inverts the traditional form of sharing by such groups as the Mennonites cited by Justanotherprogressive, by reinforcing instead of reducing the power conferred by ownership. It is also different from the Communist form of a ‘sharing economy’ (featuring what we would call today tool libraries on the model of book-lending libraries) theorized in the 1960s by French architect Yona Friedman. Essentially, ‘the sharing economy’ as heard in current usage means the opposite of what it logically should mean, or historically has meant. The current usage reminds me not of the cultures of barn-raising of sheep-grazing on a commons or hippie agriculture, but rather of ghetto cultures in which impoverished smokers are forced by their economic circumstances to ‘share’ a pack of cigarettes by buying the cylinders one at a time at exorbitant mark-ups. In situations like that one, designed to increase costs to end users and so windfalls to owners, is where we really find ‘sharing economies’. Similarly, the word ‘flexible’ disguises its real meaning of ‘precarious’, and ‘open’ (which, apparently, is what the supporters — in contrast to the detractors — of Uber in London are) seems to have a real meaning very close to ‘exploitable’. Subverting the meanings of harmless-sounding terms is, of course, one of the fundamental techniques of Propaganda and its first cousins, PR and Marketing.

    3. Charger01

      Millennial here. The concept of the sharing economy reinforces those who already own and control a larger portion of the wealth and income by making the labor less stable and intermittent at best. It’s a neo-feudalism with a better wrapper.

  2. Furzy Mouse

    Bitcoin certainly springs forth as a fiat, but it is not backed by any nation, cannot pay taxes (unless the countries decide to accept Bitcoin for payment)….and as we know, the relative value of a currency often reflects the prospects of the issuing country …so…not a currency, whatever these speculative bits are!

      1. Wukchumni

        Bitcoin is functioning like hyperflation when measured against all other fiat currencies, albeit in reverse.

    1. Grebo

      I don’t think bitcoin can be considered fiat, it takes a great deal of energy to create one. It’s like commodity money except the commodity value is destroyed in the process of coining it.

  3. Lena

    ‘ although it doesn’t mean abandoning our principles, we will vigorously appeal this decision’ said Uber CEO. Which reads to mean ‘ we defend greyball and not reporting criminal offences’ , which are the charges levelled at it

    1. Lenal

      And did you know, Uber employs Goldman Sachs middle management in executive positions? there are articles about it.
      Judging by the london press people are more upset about losing Uber than they are about its many infractions. All the strawman arguments are coming out ‘ they are going to leave the city stranded’ etc

      1. rd

        Memo to taxi companies:

        Uber exists because you got fat, dumb, and happy and elected to keep your business model in the 1950s. Unless you fix yourself, Uber or something like it will keep coming back. Self-driving cars will probably put all of these driver companies out of business anyway within 20 years.

  4. -jswift

    Have fun with this one, reactions to details would be appreciated:

    La maquinaria de injerencias rusa penetra la crisis catalana

    and a photo showing the prominence its given:

    Recent update: Spanish gov has taken control of catalan mossos police force.

    1. ambrit

      Aieee! La Layenda Roja! El Sr Bernays le gusto mucho, y su amigo, Asmodeus, se siente lo mismo.
      Can this spill over the Pyrenees into old Provence in France?
      The picture of Franco in the masthead of ‘El Pais’ says a lot.

  5. Donald

    The Vox piece on Sanders and foreign policy was pure rhetoric, meant to signal seriousness without being serious. On Yemen for instance, yes, Obama supported the Saudis to make up for their unhappiness about the Iran deal, but that should lead to a discussion, as Sanders tried to start, about why we should be close to the Saudis. The comment about North Korea also wasn’t serious. As bad as the regime is, we do things such as conducting military exercises which provoke them unnecessarily. And there is never any need for the gratuitous saber rattling of Trump ( or of Clinton regarding Iran).

    I could say more, but am feeling lazy and don’t wish to go back and reread both the Sanders speech and the Vox piece. I think Sanders mentioned Israel and the Palestinians. No one can say our kneejerk support for Israel has been successful there, unless the point is to provide a fig leaf of concern for a peaceful solution while Israel continues to steal land.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The Vox piece was clearly a hit piece and intellectually dishonest. Sanders speech was perfectly clear in advocating a different approach to international foreign policy and not just attacking interventionism. His support for the Iranian agreement for example was showing a practical alternative to militarism. Although Sanders didn’t use the phrase, he would seem a supporter of Chomky’s ‘first, do not harm’ approach to military intervention (i.e. demand a high level of proof that any intervention will do more good than harm) rather than a blanket opposition to all use of military force.

      Certainly Sanders record on international policy is not unproblematic, from whichever angle you take to it. But he is clearly advocating a policy based on active engagement around the world, but reigning in both military actions and the support of ‘friends’ who are engaging in war. Its an intellectually serious position, but the writers of that Vox piece (and it seems, almost the entire foreign policy establishment) don’t want to engage with it.

      I must admit that my first thought on reading Sanders speech was not about the details of what he was advocating, but that having avoided much engagement on foreign affairs during his run for the nomination, this seems to me his first step in a run for the next election. He has successfully dragged the Dems kicking and screaming more to the left on healthcare and pay. He is now doing attempting to do the same with foreign policy. He may not win the nomination, but it seems to me he is forcing the whole Overton window left, making it more likely that a genuine progressive will win. He is strategically way ahead of everyone else.

      1. Jim

        “He is strategically way ahead of anyone else.”

        Lets see, lets say the bottom 90% of the U.S.population have little to gain, ever, from war–but certainly the National Security State loves to control that revenue flow and kept it primarily for themselves What is your strategic explanation for why Bernie refuses to take on directly the National Security State and tends to mouth their Manchurian candidate theme about Trump?

        Is he in the process of making, from his perspective, a necessary accommodation with real power, just as Trump has apparently done, in order to stay alive?

        Does he then plan on having the National Security State as part of his winning insider coalition?

        If that is the case then Bernie is a real power player although you can then most likely forget about him making the lives of the average U.S.citizen better anytime soon.

        Reminds me most recently of Clinton, Obama and The Donald.

        1. Filiform Radical

          The concept of the Overton window is that there’s only so far you can go from the political mainstream before people will write you off as crazy. I think there is also a cumulative effect to it – people are more likely to listen to you if you’re outside the window on just one or two topics than if you’re outside it on almost everything. If Sanders were to condemn the Russiagate foolishness, a lot of the more centrist voters would decide he was just a loon and be less apt to listen to him on topics like healthcare, with little in the way of compensatory political advantage.

          Of course, I’m not psychic, so I can’t tell you what his actual reasoning on the topic is, and it’s true that his foreign policy record is nothing to brag about, but to me it seems a bit premature to decide he’s evil just because he hasn’t rushed into this particular issue guns blazing.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > The concept of the Overton window is that there’s only so far you can go from the political mainstream before people will write you off as crazy.

            Not quite. The Overton Window can be moved, and notions once thought crazy can become conventional wisdom. The right has been very good at this, and now the left is doing it. My view (one reason I’m more optimistic than many) is that once the Overton Window starts moving in one direction, it’s hard to stop it — like an unstuck window that suddenly starts sliding.

            1. Filiform Radical

              My apologies – I should have said what’s currently the political mainstream. I didn’t mean to imply that it was static, and I agree that it now (finally!) seems to be headed left.

          2. PlutoniumKun

            Yes, this is what I mean by Sanders being very astute strategically. I really don’t understand the objections of those who insist that he is a sheepdog (or whatever the insult du jour is). Sanders is an outsider in all senses, so has had to thread very carefully in order not to be dismissed entirely. I don’t know whether he has a grand strategy, or has just been very nimble in reading the tea leaves, but I think the manner in which he has simultaneously made himself (and his ideas) mainstream, while tugging the whole Overton Window leftwards is astonishing. I’m not American, so I’m looking at this as an outsider, but it seems to me he has completely outwitted both the Dem establishment and the media establishment and pretty much everyone else.

            Like most on the left I would of course have viscerally loved him to have attacked HRC and the DNC more overtly, or for him to have taken a more anti-war stance. But in all likelihood all that would have achieved would have been to make us feel better for a day or two, while he (and his movement) would have been cast out – Nader-like – into irrelevance. Successful politicians make things happen, and they do this by picking their fights carefully and knowing when to retreat if necessary. I think Sanders has so far done this superbly well.

            I hope I’m right that this foreign policy speech is the first step for making a run in 3 years time, with the intention of either winning or dragging a younger supporter into a winning position for the following race. If he does so, and gets the nomination (or better yet, makes a successful third party run), then even if he doesn’t win, he will have dragged the Overton Window left in a way nobody could have anticipated just 2 years ago.

  6. Wukchumni

    “What We Sow is What We Eat Counterpunch”

    I ate some wild strawberries last month in the Sierra Nevada, harvested @ about 7,000 feet, and the biggest one would’ve been about 1/3rd the size of your pinkie fingernail, and full of flavor. I pretty much ate every one that was ripe in a patch that was 7 feet by 6 feet, and you could’ve placed them all in the palm of one hand.

    Yesterday in the supermarket, I could’ve bought a pound of them for a couple bucks, each the size of a small child’s fist, and no doubt largely tasteless.

    1. MtnLife

      The best place to eat/pick blueberries is northern Minnesota, quite often on a small, uninhabited island. While I grow my own high bush varieties that are way better than any store bought ones, those low bush wild varieties are so incredibly densely packed with flavor it’s unbelievable. I’ve often sat in a patch for hours eating nearly as much as I put in the container. Time well spent.

      1. funemployed

        bears agree. best to make lots of noise when going to pick wild blueberries in my experience (though perhaps not on this island you speak of).

        1. Wukchumni

          The black bears here are pretty mellow. I once watched a bruin systematically devouring a hillside full of bitter cherries for about 45 minutes, and I was 30 feet away from the beastie the whole time.

    2. Ned

      Strawberries are the main crop you should buy organic. Toxic Methyl Bromide nerve gas is pumped into the soil where they are planted and the fields are covered with plastic to hold it in. Everything in the soil, fungi, worms, bugs, bacteria–all life is killed. As the strawberries grow, each cell in the berry absorbs residues of the nerve gas and incorporates it. You cannot wash it off. Plus the little pits in the strawberry are the ideal vessel to absorb other pesticides.

  7. B1whois

    Lambert – not sure if this was intended to be a link or not, near the bottom of the links post.

    David J.G. Slusky, Department of Economics, University of Kansas

    1. justanotherprogressive

      It belongs with the link just above it. There is just an empty line between the names of the authors of the Flint study.

  8. Edward E

    5 things Trump did this week while you weren’t looking Re: driverless cars,
    Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity

    Re: moose locked together; Heck we have blood sucking moose-quitos in southern Awkinsaw with antlers that size. The whitetail bucks behind my cabin were getting into some dramatic shoving matches last fall into early winter. I watched nervously praying none of them would get their antlers wedged. Later on I even found a matching set of sheds before anything chewed on them. The antlers weren’t as big as the buck I put in the freezer but still seemed like kind of a bonus.

      1. Edward E

        Wowser, that’s even bigger than the stories that originated out of Texans.
        There are some really big ones down in Texas, saw a huge one last time I was there, but that blows away everything I’ve EVER seen. Impressed that Texans are practicing safe sex nowadays, they hang warning signs on all the critters that stomp, bite, impale and kick, etc… might have something to do with all the Californians moving in.

      2. Edward E

        The only sign of intelligence in Razorback stadium is a ten foot wide sign that says, Tuscaloosa 547 miles—->> every Razorback player should have to march all around Bonkersville, Arkiefornia carrying that sign on their heads. ?

  9. Marco

    The Guajataca Dam as climate victim. Curious if PR debt burdens and delayed maintenance or disaster planning contributed to its initial state of vulnerability. A reminder that 3rd world infrastucture will be on the front line.

    1. Wukchumni

      When the massive Oroville dam was in danger of collapsing earlier in the year, the repair bill is estimated to be $400 million, to fix it.

      Locally here, we have a reservoir with a funny moniker: Success Dam.

      It’s a pipsqueak of a dam compared to the one up north in terms of capacity…

      “The USACE found in 1999 that the alluvial deposits that form the foundations of the dam were unstable and that the dam would be at a high risk of failure in the event of an earthquake. In 2006, new regulations were passed that limited long-term water storage in the reservoir to 28,800 acre feet (0.0355 km3), 35% of capacity. A proposed $500 million project would increase the thickness of the dam by 350 feet (110 m) so that it could better withstand a quake in the region.” (Wiki)

      Welcome to 3rd World infrastructure, right here.

        1. Synoia

          Civil Engineers consider Dams temporary structures. or a least more temporary than others. The weight of water behind the dam deforms the terrain, underneath and waterside, at the Dam and along the sides of the lake behind the dam.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Another step toward civil war. Now there are armed forces on both sides – and the Guardia are far from home and billetted on ships in the harbor. (Talk about vulnerable…)

      It’s weird, watching that happen from far away. Creepy. The shape of events is so obvious from here; why don’t th epeople involved see it?

  10. timbers

    Regarding Sanders and foreign policy:

    IMO yes Sanders is very weak on foreign policy. Maybe he just does not know how intertwined agencies like the CIA are with the corporate support for war because arms sales, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and others in promoting war and conflict for their own reasons – such as backing the so called “head chopping 9/11 Al-Qeada” and related mercenary terrorists to achieve regime change in Syria and other places.

    I accepted this about Sanders long ago.

    However, some of his comments during his campaign for the Dem nomination struck me in a very good way – on Palestine and in general foreign policy – because they reminded me of decades ago when I talk to older friends of mine (at the time I was with a Jewish partner of 9 years). This was before neoliberalism war mongering and the Iraq War that has changed foreign politics to the extent that is has today towards the direction of rabid militarism and confrontation. The comments were kind, humanitarian, and about the need to respect and help and achieve peace for all peoples including Muslims.

    I don’t think it was an accident that Muslims voted for Bernie in the reportedly high levels they did.

    IMO Bernie has that old time benevolence and kindness towards all people that America had after WW2, that is also a part of the time and era he grew up in and lived in, that I remembered in my partner’s friends and relatives, which had not been corrupted by all the wars and militarism that America has since been involved with instigating for selfish corporate reasons.

    Am aware this could the equivalent of some us made of expecting Trump to change America’s war agenda only to see the establishment put Trump on a lease and bend him to their war plans, and Bernie’s kindness could just as easily be swamped by “the swamp” as was Trumps views on Russia, etc. Though, I never thought of Trump as been kind as I do Bernie. I just like some to his anti war positions.

    1. funemployed

      I think Bernie badly miscalculated by ignoring foreign policy during the campaign. There’s no way family blogging way in h*** it was an oversight, and the man has been around far too long to not have opinions. Nobody seems to remember how important Obama’s lies about ending foreign wars were to distancing himself from Clinton in 08.

      In spite of the fact that the MSM will come down like a ton of bricks on anyone who doesn’t think ridiculously expensive killing weapons are “beautiful,” I think anti-imperialism would have played pretty well with voters. Even the uber-conservative military folks I know are coming around to the fact their lives are being wasted for no good reason.

      1. JohnnyGL

        You’re certainly right in principle. However, I think you’re asking too much of one person (Sanders) during one presidential campaign.

        He’s forced a kind of split in the Democratic Party, and done so fairly effectively. I think it’s proving to have positive long term effects. Pushing harder on foreign policy might have been too much, too fast.

        Before the Syrian Proxy/Civil War, I don’t think I’d personally dug into, or understood, just how much history there was with US/Saudis using jihadis to accomplish foreign policy goals.

        I don’t think dyed-in-the-wool democrats were ready to gulp down Obama and Clinton’s complicity (or worse) in aiding and abetting terrorists. Perhaps even Bernie himself isn’t? Pushing harder may have back-fired on Bernie and been seen as “too negative”, accuracy be damned.

        Right now the accusations of “sanders was too negative” look pathetic because Sanders barely scratched the surface on the emails, foreign policy, or the Clinton Foundation.

        Remember, we want to win the long term game, not the short term electoral one. Let’s go grab the 2020 election. The left will be much stronger in 2020 than it was in 2016, I suspect.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Pushing harder may have back-fired on Bernie and been seen as “too negative”, accuracy be damned.

          If one believes it, one pushes hard.

          For example, if one believes in universal coverage with single payer, one pushes that hard.

          The naysayers will claim there is no way or ‘no idea how to get there.’

          If one believes in freedom to choose whatever currency for any country to conduct trade with, if one believes in anti-hegemony, if one believes in getting foreign money out of our politics, one comes out and says that, and looks for it to resonate, and resonate it will.

          If it doesn’t resonate, maybe you then say, we will have a conversation.

          But I suspect, like Medicare for All, you will find many who agree with those mentioned above, like, for example, the one about any country being able to sell oil in whatever currency it wishes, and to do away with one global reserve money that can be created from nothing, privileging the issuer to buy anything it wants from the world, including weapons or doctors.

          I will include in any foreign policy goals a needed reform in international organizations, like the IMF, or the UN, etc., so that it’s one person, one vote, and not one electoral state, or one nation, one vote. All victims of winning-the-popular-vote-only-to-lose-the-election know the importance of that.

          So, for example, India will have approximate 4 times as many votes at the World Bank, as the US.

          1. Propertius

            I assume that the reduction in voting power of the United States at the World Bank would also be accompanied by a proportional reduction in its capital commitments to the institution, would it not?

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              That would make sense, for this additioal reason – we won’t be able to create our (dollar) contributions at no cost, out of thin air, if they are to be in other currencies.

              Poor countries might demur, still, for they could point to an American domestic equivalent: the poor don’t have to pay taxes, but can still can vote. They will say, their countries are poor. Their people are poor. Maybe they make no contributions. But it’s still one person, one vote.

              In that case, India can contribute less, but still get 4 times as many votes.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          Hillary would immediately along with the media switch to Hillary attacking “Our President” and her experience because she was a woman, and Sanders wasn’t a national figure. If he was a Senator from California or Illinois, it might be different, but the Burlington Free Press doesn’t have that many readers.

          The cost of monthly bills is far more likely to turn non-primary participants into participants. Hillary basically won the Democrats who have voted Democratic all their life. The Iraq War was much closer, and no one talks about Afghanistan.

          I think it was a mistake. As long as Sanders didn’t name drop Obama, I think he could have criticized Obama’s policies until the cows came home because the Presdient enjoyed a cult like devotion. Only attacks on the name could elicit a response. I do see a reasoning.

    2. Jim

      “Though I never thought of Trump as being kind as I do Bernie.”

      Doesn’t it just go to show that people’s personal qualities may have little to do with gaining power and what seem to be most important is the question of whom supports whom and what kind of resources are allocated to key factions(for example, the National Security State) to stay within the winning coalition.

      How do you checkmate the National Security State so that you can get your hands on their revenue?

  11. Craig H..

    David Brooks is an idiot and his continued employment is almost inexplicable except as a glitch in the matrix. Every once in a while just to cover bases I look at what he writes. What he wrote today is pablum as usual, but this was notable: they had a picture of Pat Buchanan.

    Google search on Buchanan is strange. He is still alive and well although Rod Dreher looks to have taken over the mind share at American Conservative dot com. I have this memory that Buchanan had abandoned them in a fit of rage not too long ago but that was not on my search results.

    1. funemployed

      If he wasn’t an idiot, none of us would have heard of him. It’s a job requirement. Not a glitch, but a feature.

    2. FiddlerHill

      I think a good part of David Brooks’ success, despite the pompous stupidity of his columns, is that he is often quite charming and unexpectedly witty in his television appearances.

      1. Harold

        This is true of Nicholas Kristof as well. I guess it is worth it to the NYT to have free advertising (i.e., a presence) on national media through these friendly, effervescent fellows.

    3. Altandmain

      The main reason why David Brooks is “successful” is because his job is to be a mouthpiece for the very rich. The Rockfeller Republican type no doubt loves him. Even many Establishment Democrats are fond of him.

      It’s not about whether he makes good arguments or if he is a good writer. It is all about who he serves. I assure you that they would rather people be right and for the Establishment than anything else.

      1. Altandmain

        Oops – meant to say “right wing”, but you get the gist of it.

        This political commentary that people like Mr. Brooks provides is little more than PR for the rich.

      2. Oregoncharles

        All the comments so far ignore what Brooks actually wrote this time, which is rather surprising.

        I’ve always seen Buchanan as a very mixed bag: sometimes pathologically conservative, esp. on religion; but oddly perceptive, and consistently right on trade. Those features, minus the perceptive part, foreshadowed Trump.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > David Brooks is an idiot…

      Allow me to express my exasperation. Do any commenters really imagine I am some sort of journalistic virgin, and have never read David Brooks before? Or have no idea that a member of the political class might actually serve greater interests? Since apparently I have to spell it out, here is what I find interesting about Brooks’s column:

      Trump is nominally pro-business. The next populism will probably take his ethnic nationalism and add an anti-corporate, anti-tech layer. Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple stand for everything [Patrick Buchanan mentor Sam Francis hated — economically, culturally, demographically and nationalistically.

      As the tech behemoths intrude more deeply into daily life and our very minds, they will become a defining issue in American politics. It wouldn’t surprise me if a new demagogue emerged, one that is even more pure Francis.

      People like Stoller and Open Markets are attacking concentrated monopoly power — and the “tech behemoths” like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple (although, pointedly, Democrats like Schumer’s Better Deal crowd are not). So, it’s interesting to see Brooks, a conservative, sketch out the context through which tech monopolies might be attacked from the right (until, I suppose, they stop contributing to the Democrats). Will this happen? I don’t know. Is it in the zeitgeist? No — and that’s what makes Brooks introducing the idea all the more interesting.

      In general, I find ritual denunciations of political class figures tedious and low value add, productive of unit cohesion though they may be. Comments that actually address the content to which the links direct readers serve the readership better, in my view.

      1. rd

        I thought this was a decent piece. At least David Brooks does research and attempts to think unlike many op-ed writers. His moralistic preachy pieces get quite tedious, but he gets much better when he focuses on putting things in a historical political philosophy framework. It is important to know that things don’t magically appear out of nowhere (usually), sort of like 35-year old “overnight successes” who have been in the entertainment business for 15 years.

  12. HBE

    The US opioid epidemic.

    Yellen linked the opioid epidemic to declining labor-force participation among “prime-age workers.”

    It’s video games, it’s lazy millennials, it’s opiates, or some other equally disparaging individual choice.

    Just about anything that places the blame on the individual, rather than stagnant wages, demeaning work, and poor overall economic opportunity.

    Opiates didn’t cause the decline in labor participation, horrible work and pay did that. Maybe the solution is to raise the wage floor, and offer a modicum of dignity and fulfilment through a jobs program.

    But hey, it’s more profitable for a few industries if things stay as the are, so people are going to keep dying, and economists are still going to ensure their blinders stay firmly in place.

    And I’ll continue to be able to comment on their words, and prescriptions of ill-wisdom.

      1. ambrit

        I’m still thinking that something like the “Bonus March” will be needed. Take the Occupy movement and merge it with the stronger populist workers movements. Something like the later stages of the 1910 Mexican Revolution looms.

        1. Wukchumni

          I think in our era, the Bonus Marchers would be those about a decade away from their Social Security checks, clamoring for cash.

      2. Wukchumni

        We had about 10 CCC camps in the area in the 1930’s, and they did great work and taught young men (there was only 1 CCC camp for women in all of the USA-back east) vital skills. Their pay was $30 a month, $25 of which was sent back to their family. I don’t know how that would play out today, if say they earned $1000 a month and had to send mom & dad $825 of it.

        Here’s a typical menu from one CCC camp:

        “In 1936, a typical camp’s menu on one day was the following. Breakfast: bran flakes, fried ham and gravy, fried eggs, fried potatoes, hot cakes, butter toast, syrup, jam, coffee, milk, sugar. Lunch: vegetable soup, roast beef, brown gravy, assorted cold meats, mashed potatoes, cabbage slaw, creamed peas, lettuce salad, tomatoes, mince pie, doughnuts, coffee, milk, iced tea, buttermilk. Dinner: vegetable beef soup, roast pork and jelly, baked beef heart and dressing, German fried potatoes, steamed carrots, celery, cottage cheese, sliced beets, mince pie, cupcakes, coffee, milk, ice tea, buttermilk.”

        A great book on the CCC is “Roosevelt’s Forest Army.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      At one time, it was the goal to ‘tune in, drop out.’

      If some believe in dropping out, either to play video games or be idle – or lazy – in some way, then labor-participation will drop out.

      And if the law of supply-demand is in effect, wages might go up (to keep the GDP growing).

      And the economy will get bigger and bigger.

      Nature might welcome those deserters from the Ever-Victorious GDP Army.

    2. Synoia

      The opioid epidemic appears to me to be Big Pharma taking advantage of the “War on Drugs” and supping drugs for “getting high.”

      Never let a market opportunity go to waste?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Perhaps those wary of pitchforks know this: No pain, no gain.

        When people are sedated sufficiently,feeling not so much pain, there is no gain for them…is this their belief?

        If so, Big Pharma is only of many players.

    3. Tooearly

      Highly recommend Dream Land by Sam Quinones. A great read and fascinating story of the intersection of neoliberal policies, Purdue, “the entrepreneurial spirit”, and the rot at the heart of contemporary American culture

  13. The Rev Kev

    Re: The Democrats Are Taking Black Women for Granted
    Whenever I see something in the news like this, I am reminded of that famous foto taken during the Women’s March. You can see the one that I mean at
    You can dismiss this as a happenstance image but I also remember reading complaints since the last election by black women of how when they tried to give their own slant on current events, that they were harassed off the sites they were posting to by white women because they were not toeing the line.
    My point is that a lot of democrats seem to be privileged people and black people do not figure very large in this picture. They are barely on their radar. Years ago a lot of people were criticizing the TV series “Friends” as they did not have any black friends. Then someone pointed out that friends like that did not have black friends. I think that the same effect is going on here with the democrats. I guess that this is another variant of the “they have nowhere else to go” as far as voting concerns goes.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Thanks for that one. That photo cracked me up. I always enjoy when someone has the courage to drop uncomfortable facts on any group of people. I’d have high-fived that lady if I had been there in person.

      Your comment is solid, too.

      The interview with Angela Peoples was solid as far as it goes, but my god, the elephant in the room “social class” was screaming and left completely unstated.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      The Democratic elites are the kinds of people who liked “Friends.”

      Those same elites held such a childish faith in the promises of books such as “The Emerging Democratic Majority” that they believed they had license to behave as boorishly and selfishly as they could imagine. One day they woke up to President Trump largely due to “The Emerging Democratic Majority” staying home and the people who organized the Democratic Party’s ascent to power leaving the Democratic Party.

      Since the Democratic elites don’t know anyone outside their social circle preferring to read about “the black experience” in the pages of magazines such as “The Atlantic”, the Democrats don’t quite grasp how tenuous their hold is. After all, black voters swung to the Democrats in one huge wave in 1932 and one smaller wave in 1960. All good things…but its easier to believe in childish fantasies or look for easy answers.

      It was a twitter anecdote, but one person tabling for Sanders had a Clinton voter say they were voting for Clinton because they didn’t want to vote for a WASP. The ignorance is appalling. Rodham is an English name.

  14. Alex Morfesis

    Algorithmic bias and qui tam frauds…this “tell all” magic dna machine…

    was it not an offshoot of federally funded research at the institution the “founder” of the firm worked at ?

    & then converted for his private use ?

    They did not sit in a dark room toiling unpaid and using their own capital…

    They were on the guv mint dole, using the tax code for donations to the institution they worked for and grants for the work from the guv mint…

    The article slips into the trance of imagining the company “manufactured” the software when it was simple conversion…

    Yes…yes…I know…worrying about and pointing out mere facts and details is irrelevant to the narrative…

  15. Basil Pesto

    “A North Korean hydrogen bomb test in Pacific Ocean could bring ‘terrifying’ fallout, expert says”

    no kidding, just ask the people of the Marshall Islands. Or the crew of the Daigo Fukuryu Maru.

  16. fresno dan

    Anyone who has watched HGTV for more than a week knows what this will involve, because all of the makeovers on all of the shows are the same: blow out the walls around the kitchen so you can see the big screen from the center island; put some large furniture in the living room so that it looks grand; install hardwood floors or laminate that looks like hardwood;……
    Moreover, it cannot be denied that the recent HGTV parody on South Park had an apt title: “White People Renovating Houses.” Once the network started putting a married couple with star power on a show — and featuring not just the houses they were flipping but also their own homes and their children and happy moments from their daily lives — it jump-started the ratings streak that has made it so successful.
    The couple*** soon became aspirational-lifestyle celebrities, and their marriage and family life were regularly featured in People magazine and on morning television. Yet while Christina seemed to become more confident on each episode, Tarek often appeared wan and anxious. In 2013, a viewer wrote that a lump on his neck looked suspicious, and it turned out to be thyroid cancer. A month after beginning treatment, he learned he also had testicular cancer. He had to get surgery for “multiple herniated discs” in the middle of filming an episode in which he had winced in pain every time he’d tried to lift something; sitting in an orthopedic chair, he called Christina to praise her for handling everything on her own — but she clearly had it all under control. Last fall, the world learned that their off-camera home life was a bit of a flop**. After months of secret trouble, police rushed to their place after receiving a call about a “possibly suicidal male with a gun.” Tarek had run to the hiking trails near their house with a loaded gun, and it took 11 cops and a helicopter to locate him, and get him to drop the weapon. He’s since been linked in the tabloids to their former nanny.
    As I have watched both South Park and HGTV, I feel I can comment….on that “open concept” which is repeated so often that it is practically a mantra. I suspect in the future there will be a show called “Flipped house catastrophe” as all the “Open” kitchens that were brought about by demolishing load bearing walls results in a rash of collapsed roofs.

    And how many collapsed marriages as people determine that marble countertops do not cause happiness, as well as those hour long commutes are not really conducive to family bliss….
    *** Too much of an allegory to equate future collapsing houses and collapsing marriages?
    ** BTW, for those who don’t follow HGTV, the couple’s show was called “Flip or Flop”

    1. ambrit

      Tell it about removing load bearing walls!
      My Dad was an inspector of Plumbing for Miami Beach, Florida for several years. One permit he refused to approve had several bedrooms in a suburban styled house removed and a communal bathing pool installed in the new space. This was for an Orthodox Jewish bath house project. Well, Dad was over ruled by politicos, the bath house was rebuilt, and months later the house was condemned due to serious roof sagging and foundation failures.
      This sounds eerily reminiscent of the film “The Money Pit.”

    2. Jess

      Christina on Flip or Flop was always the brains of the operation, as well as the beauty. After dumbass Tarek took up with the nanny, Christiana reportedly found solace in the arms of an Anaheim Mighty Ducks NHL player who makes — IIRC — a paltry $8 mil a year.

    3. Mel

      OK, we’re talking about a parody reality show here, right? As opposed to a real one? Sounds trenchant. Assuming that I apprehend this rightly, you might also enjoy Married Life by Ken Finkleman (1995). Also a parody of reality shows, and the conflicts between reality and what TV needs from a show.

  17. dontknowitall

    Regarding the Spiegel link “The Slow Death of European Social Democrats”.

    The author writes “Were that to happen, center-left parties would only be part of six EU governments out of 28 member states, all of them on the European periphery: Malta, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia and the Czech Republic”. This is the typical blindness of the western neoliberal media.

    Social Democrats all over the EU gave up long ago their belief in the social programs that made them the parties of government and for a period made their societies more egalitarian and just. For at least the last twenty years they were the parties representing big finance and rentiers resulting in disinvestment in the social safety net and the disappearance of fair wages all over the EU. Meanwhile the leftist parties like the Socialists have splintered into neoliberal and leftist wings with the neoliberal wings usually ruling the parties. Thus, alternating power between the Social Democrats and Socialists in the EU has resulted in no meaningful policy changes. People have now realized this and are voting away from the traditional labels.

    Within parties like in Portugal’s Socialist Party and in the UK with Labour the left wings have grabbed control of the party displacing the discredited neoliberal wing. In Portugal as wel as in the UK, for instance, the left and neolib wings of the Socialist/Labour party hate each other to such an extent and have such opposing views of governing they might as well be different parties. Generally speaking, there have not been center-left parties in the EU (not neoliberal stooges) for the almost a generation. In Portugal the Socialist party ousted its neoliberal wing and gained power by joining with smaller left wing parties. Once in power, the Socialists were true to their electoral promises and went back to their roots by fixing the social safety net while trying to stay within the strictures of Brussels budget deficit limits. Allied with the Comunist Party and other smaller left wing/environmentalist parties, they have, by international standards, done a very credible job with the Finance Minister Mario Centeno being mentioned in Brussels as possible replacement for head of the Eurogroup. A center-left party would never have considered an alliance with the Comunist Party.

    The only way that I can see for sanity to return to policy and fix the ravages done to the social fabric by a generation of neoliberal parties is for the left to find common ground and take over their party structures so that rebuilding programs have a chance to be presented before the voters. The return of center-left parties (Spiegel code for more neoliberal policies dressed in sweet talk) is not to be desired.

  18. FiddlerHill

    To describe Stanley Greenberg’s take why HRC lost as “very good” is sad. It’s to endorse the same beltway thinking that has corrupted the entire Democratic party.

    If poor Hillary had only gone to a focus group and listened. If she had only taken Greenberg’s advice as a pollster and “redirected” her campaign message. But what elsle should we expect from a campaign wonk like Greenberg?

    Nowhere in his analysis is a recognition that a majority voters recognized HRC for what she was — a corrupt elite-serving politician who lies. No tweaking of campaign tactics was ever going to alter that, because nothing was going alter the reality of Clinton’s 25 years in public life. Until Democratic Party apparatchiks like Greenberg begin to grasp that how a person acts in office is more important than what they say on the campaign trail, there is no hope for the party.

    THAT is why Bernie Sanders nearly defeated her. Look at all those clips of Bernie from 30 years ago as mayor of Burlington — advocating exactly the same truly Democratic policies he was advocating in 2016. Among other things voters finally woke up to the fact that character, not campaign tactics, is what counts.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The internet is unfiltered.

      I’m reminded of laments about trustworthy news giants of the past such as Cronkite. There was a time where we had to rely on the wire services and then the newspapers to sift and provide the news. Today, it takes minutes to get through what would have required hours of cable news.

      Every day, the old way of politics grows less relevant. Hillary’s campaign fortune meant very little compared to the twenty five years of a public record which is easy to access. There were always Hillary campaign ads on MSNBC which seems like such an odd use of campaign resources. The basic reasoning for advertising isn’t to sway viewers, its to notify viewers who would be otherwise unaware of a candidate or a message. It leads me to the conclusion the campaign was using the ads to buy favorable coverage. the universal support of the traditional media including the Union Leader meant nothing at the end of the day. What could be forgotten after it happened without getting out the microfilm at a local library is on one’s phone.

      Too many people can’t forget or overlook this kind of behavior because its so easy to see.

      1. Propertius

        The basic reasoning for advertising isn’t to sway viewers, its to notify viewers who would be otherwise unaware of a candidate or a message.

        I think that view is a little too restrictive. A good advertising campaign should also attempt to mobilize the base (increase turnout) and to sway independents (since they decide most national elections). MSNBC was probably not a bad choice to mobilize the base, but it couldn’t overcome the resentment of many Sanders voters at the way they and their concerns were treated by the DNC itself and by the platform process. Even Sanders himself couldn’t overcome that, although I think he tried mightily to do so (he certainly campaigned harder for HRC than I would have, had I been in his shoes).

        She was so certain of victory they she thought she could win after giving half of her own party the finger. That was a fatal mistake.

        The HRC campaign’s own messaging about certain victory only served to further depress their turnout – why go stand in line at the polls if a landslide is guaranteed?

        MSNBC is, of course, a lousy choice if you’re trying to sway independents, but I’m not sure Hillary’s campaign was really serious about that. At the highest levels, I think they really bought into their own TINA propaganda and assumed the election itself was only a formality. One cannot help but wonder why they bothered to raise and spend so much money – although it certainly served to enrich the consultant class.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      You write:

      To describe Stanley Greenberg’s take why HRC lost as “very good” is sad. It’s to endorse the same beltway thinking that has corrupted the entire Democratic party. … Nowhere in his analysis is a recognition that a majority voters recognized HRC for what she was — a corrupt elite-serving politician who lies.

      I’m sorry you’re sad. Greenberg writes:

      The Trump presidency concentrates the mind on the malpractice that helped put him in office. For me, the most glaring examples include the Clinton campaign’s over-dependence on technical analytics; its failure to run campaigns to win the battleground states; the decision to focus on the rainbow base and identity politics at the expense of the working class; and the failure to address the candidate’s growing “trust problem” or to learn from events and reposition.

      “[F]ailure to address the candidate’s growing ‘trust problem'” translates to “recognition that a majority voters recognized HRC for what she was” in English (from Consultantspeak).

      Readers know I don’t hold a brief for Democratic strategists as a class, but that’s not the same as refusing to evaluate any given consultant’s work product. Greenberg concludes:

      Obama’s refrain was severely out of touch with what was happening to most Americans and the working class more broadly. In our research, “ladders of opportunity” fell far short of what real people were looking for. Incomes sagged after the financial crisis, pensions lost value, and many lost their housing wealth, while people faced dramatically rising costs for things that mattered—health care, education, housing, and child care…

      And in her book What Happened, she acknowledges “Stan’s” argument that “heralding economic progress and the bailout of the irresponsible elites” while the working class struggled financially alienated the working class from Democrats….

      The progressive debate must now address: What is the role of the working class and white working class? How do you build off of anger toward an economy that fails the middle class, but still align with professionals, innovators, and metropolitan areas? How do you credibly battle corporate influence and corrupted politics? Can you simultaneously advance identity and class politics?

      I think Greenberg is directionally correct; in my view, those are the questions that the Democrat party needs to ask itself. (Whether they have answers is another question. Greenberg certainly is not — who? Lenin? Mao? Eugene Debs?, but there’s no point fussing that Greenberg has technical chops in electoral politics or does research or interviews working class voters.

      NOTE On “character,” I disagree. Plenty of people voted for Bush and Obama on character issues. If by “character” you mean “consistent positions long-held,” then I agree Sanders has character. If there is another potential candidate with that definition of character, then it remains to be seen if they’re a viable candidate (unless one is to reject electoral politics altogether). Until that happy day, and in fact even after, tactics and the technical aspects of politics matter. It’s the equivalent of the military saying that “Infantry wins battles, logistics wins wars.”

      1. FiddlerHill

        HRC’s “growing” trust problem? Her need to “reposition” herself during the election? Greenberg’s whole argument is she needed a better marketing campaign: It reminds me of the terrific SNL take-off on the HRC-Sanders debate in which a smiling Clinton says, “I think you’re really going to like the HIllary my advisors have come up with for you tonight” (or something close to that, as I recall). As long as all the Greenbergs in the Democratic party continue to think “It’s the Image, stupid” without regard to a candidate’s actual history, they’re hopeless.

        1. Harold

          None of these articles mention her stonewalling about releasing the content of her speeches to Wall St., as though her untrustworthiness were something that happened in the past, rather than her lack of candor as something happening in the (eternal) present moment. The Clintons stonewall and stonewall about releasing records, large and small, and then say with a little smile, “In retrospect it was a mistake. But that’s all in the past now.”

        2. Jeff W

          I had exactly the same take you did. It’s as if a consultant of some con man says that his client “failed to address his growing ‘trust problem’” when the problem is that the guy is, well, y’know, a con man.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          Everybody really isn’t required to join in a chorus of Clinton denunciation; many of us can do that, I have done it myself. And one expects a consultant to write in consultant speak, it’s what they do.

          My point remains (in response to this comment and those below):

          Greenberg is directionally correct

          On what the Democrat Party needs to do. That’s interesting strategically, important, the main point of his article, and why I recommended reading it.

          Since I get no response to that, I assume we have agreement on the central issue.

  19. charles 2

    Re : Japan “Bomb in the Basement”.

    There is no “Bomb in the Basement” (or at least, no in that Basement) : Plutonium from recycling PWR spent fuel is not suitable for bombs because of isotopic composition. One needs specific reactors, that the Japanese don’t have, to produce suitable Plutonium for real life weaponised bombs. see

    1. justanotherprogressive

      Errr…..the story is about Japan going to MOX reactors and the primary benefit of MOX reactors is that they can use and destroy weapons grade plutonium. So….the question is: Is Japan collecting weapons grade plutonium or reactor grade plutonium (which can also be used to make MOX)? The article doesn’t say for sure, although the agreement is that Japan sends spent fuel to France and gets MOX back in return….

      And errr….yes, any kind of commercial reactor can be used to make Pu-239. There are reactor designs that allow you to remove fuel rods without shutting down the reactor (Russia’s RBMK reactor quickly comes to mind), so instead of “fuel”, you just insert some U-238 pellets and remove them within a few days……that is one of the reasons we have UN inspectors inspecting power reactors around the world…..

      And yes, countries have experimented with “reactor-grade” Pu bombs – your article mentions that. How they get around the Pu-240 spontaneous fissioning problem is secret although I have heard through the grapevine that they have actually solved that problem…..

      So, without further information, who knows what Japan is doing? Having NK making threats might be causing them to look for alternate means of protecting themselves…..

    1. ambrit

      Yes. Back then the ‘elites’ felt the need to rule directly, which required skills in communication. Now ‘they’ have outsourced the job to the lowest bidder.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m dubious about Mike Farb. His focus on Russia is very much a Democrat Party line, but and for whatever reason, the Palast’s Crosshack material, which to my mind is much more important, is ignored both by Democrats and (IIRC) by him. See here for a critique (Kos, I know, but not a front-pager, but a locally focused North Carolinian).

  20. EGrise

    Re: The Long Night Ahead

    I like John Robb – read his book, which was very good indeed – but he seems to be slipping into grumpy Fox-News-grandpa mode lately. I think he’s got an interesting take on the censorship problem, but at the bottom of the article he includes an addendum:

    PS: As if on cue, authoritarianism that diminishes the role of the individual is in the wind:

    a majority of US students now oppose free speech on campus.
    a free fall in support for democracy as a preferred form of governance among young people.
    a majority of young people now oppose capitalism.

    …to which I would humbly submit that one of those things (opposition to capitalism) is not like the others, and from my point of view that opposition is borne of “capitalism” having its hands wrapped around the collective windpipe of young people. Surprising to me that someone as observant as Robb can’t see that, or perhaps because he’s “[f]eeling a bit like Hayek today” he won’t see it.

  21. Patrick Donnelly

    These explain the pivot to the Pacific. As with WWII, when Russia was the true target, with Germany as the Anvil, will China be the anvil, this time? The possibility of revenge for Nanking and many other massacres…..

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