2:00PM Water Cooler 10/17/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Canadian firm could dodge 300 percent tariff by building jets in Alabama” [WaPo]. “Canadian jet-maker Bombardier announced Monday that it is selling a controlling stake in its 100- to 150-seat C-series jetliner to European manufacturer Airbus, just weeks after the Commerce Department moved to impose 300 percent tariffs on the plane. The companies also said they will expand the plane’s production to a new facility in Mobile, Ala., a move that could help it avoid the import duty.” As Theresa May and the DUP heave huge sighs of relief.

“At a private lunch following a rare public speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Sept. 18, Lighthizer told a group of about 25 people that he believed the size of the U.S. market was still the driving force for getting countries to meet U.S. demands, according to sources familiar with the meeting. And despite a global movement toward rules-based, regional trade deals, he said bilateral agreements are where the U.S. can better exert its leverage. As for rules, Lighthizer said they are generally weak and not easily enforced. In sum, they don’t matter, he said” [Politico].” One source’s takeaway from the meeting: “I think he’s a true believer in this stuff.”

“Canada and the United States are headed further down a collision course over dairy after Washington offered a proposal on Sunday calling for 10 times more access to Canada’s dairy market than what had been agreed upon under the Trans-Pacific Partnership” [Politico].

“The early read so far is that the end of Nafta wouldn’t necessarily be catastrophic, but would hurt the overall economy, cause a big squeeze to some sectors and states and could dent stocks. One firm estimates that although some factory work would move north from Mexico, the U.S. still would lose a net 256,000 jobs over three to five years. Among the losers: auto, food, and apparel makers that have crafted efficient supply chains around duty-free passage of parts and goods across borders” [Wall Street Journal].


2016 Post Mortem

“Cambridge Analytica: the Geotargeting and Emotional Data Mining Scripts” [Medium]. Apparently an intern’s…

“FBI uncovered Russian bribery plot before Obama administration approved controversial nuclear deal with Moscow” [The Hill]. “Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews…. They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.”


“Mavericks owner Mark Cuban ‘seriously considering’ presidential run” [USA Today]. Just what the country needs. Another squillionaire with bright ideas.


“The 3 most serious downgrades are all from lean Republican to Toss Up. [The Cook Political Report] is so conservative in their prognosticating that “lean Republican” usually means the Democrat will win unless the DCCC screws up royally by winning the nomination for a fake Democrat and turning off grassroots voters, something they do very frequently” [Down with Tyranny]. So Cook is right, but for the wrong reasons?

“Bannon on GOP insurgency: ‘Nobody can run and hide'” [AP]. “President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist is promoting a field of potential primary challengers to take on disfavored Republicans in Congress and step up for open seats. Among the outsiders: a convicted felon, a perennial candidate linked to an environmental conspiracy theory and a Southern lawmaker known for provocative ethnic and racial comments.”

Trump Transition

“SEC Asked to Probe Trades of Student Loan Firm Navient” [Bloomberg]. “The [AFL-CIO] on Tuesday urged the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ‘to examine the trading in Navient’s common stock on Aug. 31’…. The trades occurred before public disclosure of a letter from the Department of Education to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau marking a critical shift in Trump administration policy.'”

Health Care

“The Fight For Single-Payer Health Care Intensifies In California” [International Business Times]. This is really just a wrap-up of single payer efforts in California, though useful.

New Cold War

“Twitter provided Senate investigators the names of 201 Russia-linked accounts” [The Verge]. ZOMG!!!! Stop the presses!!!!! 201 accounts!!!!!!!!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“As a political analyst, I have trouble understanding how a substantial number of counties and communities could vote twice for Barack Obama and then flip to Donald Trump” [Cook Political Report]. No comment. Well, one comment: “Change versus more of the same” in 2008 and 2017.

“Soros shifts $18 billion to his Open Society philanthropic organization” [MarketWatch]. “Soros doesn’t plan to trade the billions that now belong to Open Society, according to the people familiar with the situation. Soros was trading his own money, held separately within the Soros firm, as recently as last year, when he bet — wrongly, it has turned out — that stocks would slump after Donald Trump was elected president.”

Women’s March reacts to beatdown by Clintonite enforcers:

Here is an example of the “hurt and confusion”:

(Masterful use of passive-aggression; Neera’s problem is that the women who organized the Women’s March conference invited Bernie Sanders to speak, after [genuflects] Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris all turned them down.

“#MeToo: Social media flooded with personal stories of assault” [CNN]. “On Sunday actress Alyssa Milano tweeted a note that read “Suggested by a friend: If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

For example:

Idea: Liberal Democrats clean their own side of the street on this issue?

“It’s time for Democrats to stop being such gormless chumps” [The Week]. Rather, it’s time for the donor class to stop paying Democrats to lose.

Stats Watch

Readers, this will be a bit of a pantry clearout, especially on The Bezzle, after my dereliction of duty yesterday. –lambert

Industrial Production, September 2017: “The factory sector isn’t showing much life based on the Federal Reserve’s industrial production report where the manufacturing component managed only a 0.1 percent increase in September which is 3 tenths below Econoday’s consensus and only the 2nd gain in 5 months” [Econoday]. “But there are not a lot highlights in today’s report as the weakness in manufacturing, given this year’s enormous strength in private reports like Empire State and ISM, remains an unfortunate surprise.” And: “There was significant downward revision to the existing data over the last 6 months – so even though the data was better than last month, overall the improvement was very little. The best way to view this is the 3 month rolling averages which declined” [Econintersect]. And but: “Capacity utilization at 76.0% is 3.9% below the average from 1972 to 2015 and below the pre-recession level of 80.8% in December 2007” [Calculated Risk].

Empire State Manufacturing Survey, October 2017 (yesterday): “Empire State’s sample continues to report exceptionally strong activity” [Econoday]. “It’s important to remember that diffusion indexes offer only rough assessments of activity and in Empire State and Philly Fed are based on relatively small samples where responses are always voluntary. And the rare strength of these samples has yet to be matched by the government’s factory data.”

Import and Export Prices, September 2017: “Oil skewed cross-border prices sharply higher at the headline level in September, up 0.7 percent for imports, which is 2 tenths above Econoday’s consensus, and up 0.8 percent for exports which is double the expected gain” [Econoday]. “Pressure on the export side is centered in industrial supplies which rose 3.0 percent in September following August’s 1.8 percent gain in a component where petroleum inputs play a significant part. This gain offset a sizable 0.7 percent decline in agricultural exports.” And: “The elephant in this month’s changes were fuel / oil commodities” [Econintersect].

Housing Market Index, October 2017: “Optimism among home builders, which has been easing slightly from very strong levels, bounced back strongly in Octobe” [Econoday]. “Sales of new homes were very strong at the outset of the year but have faded since though housing permits have been coming alive in recent months. This report, much like other measurements of economic confidence, has been very solid this year and is pointing to a possible year-end uplift for new housing.” And: “This was above the consensus forecast, and a strong reading” [Calculated Risk].

Real Estate: “Leasing rates for warehouses in the U.S. have never been higher, and the country’s biggest markets are driving the price increases. Asking rents for industrial space in New Jersey soared 11.8% in the third quarter and rates in Northern California also rose at a double-digit pace” [Wall Street Journal].

Commodities: “Copper price soars to highest since February 2014” [Mining.com]. “Copper futures trading in New York surged on Monday on renewed optimism about the strength of the Chinese economy going into a crucial policy-setting meeting of the country’s leaders.”

Commodities: “Craft beer pours $2 billion into Michigan economy” [Michigan Business].

Commodities: “Milk is a low-margin commodity subject to big price swings, but it’s a staple of grocery sales and big chains see important value in controlling the flow. That’s upending traditional suppliers, including dairy processors and farmer-owned plants that have been coping with a dairy glut and milk prices that have fallen by a third since 2014. Some cooperatives with cash are adding plants to get closer to customers and cut transport times. But the huge new retailer-owned plants may speed up consolidation in the dairy industry, squeezing out cooperative-owned facilities” [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping: “Police on Monday sought an arrest warrant for Hanjin Group Chairman and Korean Air CEO Cho Yang-ho, who stands accused of embezzling funds to renovate his private home.” [Korea Herald]. Cho’s daughter was a piece of work, too…

Retail: “Amazon.com Inc said it would hire 120,000 workers in the United States this holiday season, same as last year, as the online behemoth prepares for the holiday shopping frenzy” [Business Insider]. “Overall, U.S. retailers are expected to hire 25,000 fewer workers this holiday season, the NRF said, as current staffing levels are strong, and as companies such as Wal-Mart offer existing workers more hours rather than adding temp workers.”

Retail: “Users can now order food for delivery without ever leaving Facebook” [CNBC]. “The company announced Friday that it has partnered with Delivery.com, DoorDash, ChowNow, Zuppler, EatStreet, Slice and Olo to offer users the ability to order meals without having to open each of those individual applications. Facebook also teamed up with restaurant chains like Papa John’s, Five Guys and Panera, the company said.” I hate this because it’s good for chains and bad for small local restaurants. Heaven forfend that we Facebook should just make an API available to them. No, no, they’ve got to partner to suck even more money out of my local economy…

ETFs: “Three rules will make exchange-traded funds more accessible to new types of investors. In the U.S., the fiduciary duty and new insurance guidelines will enable retirement savers and insurers to raise their exposure to ETFs. In Europe, the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II is expected to increase flows from retail investors” [Bloomberg].

Venture Capital: “SoftBank was behind four of the five biggest venture capital deals last quarter” [Recode]. “In general, venture capitalists are spending more money on fewer deals, as companies stay private longer and need more late-stage funding.”

Tech: “Facebook Is Looking for Employees With National Security Clearances” [Bloomberg]. “Facebook Inc. is looking to hire people who have national security clearances, a move the company thinks is necessary to prevent foreign powers from manipulating future elections through its social network, according to a person familiar with the matter.” Uh huh.

Tech: “Several times in conversations with people in Hollywood, I heard the tech people referred to as ‘dumb money’ — the sort of outsiders (in the past, they came from oil, then from finance) who parade through town looking to call the shots. One Hollywood executive who has worked often with tech companies told me: ‘I wouldn’t say we’ve looked at them with fear, no'” [New York Times].

Tech: “iPhone X makers still struggling to refine facial recognition” [Nikkei Asian Review]. “A tech executive familiar with iPhone X production told Nikkei Asian Review on Thursday that manufacturers are still struggling to perfect 3-D sensors and in particular dot projectors in Apple premium handset’s TrueDepth camera system, though the person could not pinpoint exactly the problem.”

Public Relations: “Macej Ceglowski, leader of a national grassroots tech activism group called Tech Solidarity that sprung up after Trump’s election, said tech companies aren’t helping displaced disaster victims as much as they’d like to think. “Puerto Rico is an example of the government failing its citizens, who have no federal representation,’ he told BuzzFeed News. ‘These tech companies have enormous lobbying clout, but choose instead to promote their own science projects in a moment of crisis'” [Buzzfeed].

The Bezzle: “This Steak-Sharing Startup Targets Foodies Looking for High-End Beef” [Bloomberg]. “Crowd Cow expects to post revenue of at least $7 million this year. The initial fundraising round brought in $2 million. Investors included Fuel Capital, Zulily Inc. founders Mark Vadon and Darrell Cavens, and ex-NFL star Joe Montana, who has a venture fund.”

The Bezzle: “Walmart Wants Keys to Your House So It Can Put Groceries Directly in the Fridge” [Grub Street]. “Walmart explains in a blog post how the process works: Delivery people get a one-time passcode that opens a ‘smart lock’ that shoppers must install first. (The whole service is essentially built around that lock — it’s actually a partnership with August Home, a smart-lock start-up.) When the driver gets to the door, you get a phone notification that your delivery is occurring. You can watch from an app ‘in real-time’ if you like. This person will drop off packages in the foyer, then put away all the groceries in the kitchen.” See, there’s your problem. Alexa could just open the damn door on its own.

The Bezzle: “Uber, Lyft reduce transit use, increase vehicle miles, report says” [San Francisco Chronicle] (original). “”Although we found that ride-hailing can be complementary to transit and reduce vehicle ownership for a small portion of individuals, we found that (overall) these services currently facilitate a shift away from more sustainable modes towards low occupancy vehicles in major cities,” said Regina Clewlow, lead author of the [UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies] report, in a statement.”

The Bezzle: “How Waymo is designing the self-driving car passenger experience to feel convenient and safe” [Recode]. “The car will find a way to come to a safe stop if it detects unsafe driving conditions. In the rare occurrence of an accident, the car will also communicate instructions using audio and visual cues.” Oh.

The Bezzle: “Airbnb teams up with developer to launch branded apartments” [Financial Times]. Silicon Valley just innovated the long-stay hotel.

The Bezzle: “Wag, the ‘Uber for Dog-Walking,’ Is Drawing Uber-Like Scrutiny” [Bloomberg]. “Despite the high commission, Wag is burning about $4 million a month, said three people who recently reviewed the startup’s financials. The older, more established Rover, said it’s also losing money but expects to become profitable next year. Both Wag and Rover, which are privately held, declined to provide specifics of their financials. Wag’s expenses are especially high because the startup relies on celebrity endorsements and costly marketing campaigns…. Despite the red ink, venture capitalists have poured more than $200 million into Wag and Rover combined.”

Mr. Market: “Everything Is Crazy and the Markets Aren’t Freaking Out” [Bloomberg]. “[F]or Credit Suisse’s [Mark] Connors, the shift in market psychology can be traced back to a different signal event: Brexit. After the U.K. voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, $2.6 trillion was wiped off the value of equities worldwide in just three days. Many were calling it one of the most dramatic and shocking turns of events in modern British history. Among investors, the panic was palpable, and some were paralyzed with fear. But almost as quickly, the markets roared back and jolted investors out of their crisis-era fatalism. Since then, naysayers selling into any weakness have looked like suckers. In the aftermath of other post-crisis upheavals, ‘we got a lot of incoming client calls,’ Connors said. ‘But that all ended with Brexit. Now, even though the events seem dire, volume is low and and reversals are sharp. People are looking through to things that keep them long. Buy-the-dip is in place.'” With handy chart of “buy the dip” mentions.

Five Horsemen: “AMZN and GOOGL shares are over a thousand dollars apiece, as Facebook careens off the top of our chart. Life is good” [Hat tip, Jim Hyagood].

Five Horsemen Oct 17

Rapture Index (yesterday): Closes up 1 on Drought. “The lack of rain has caused the Mississippi River levels to decline” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 78 Extreme Greed (previous close: 78, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 85 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Oct 17 at 12:30pm.

Police State Watch

“Orlando man arrested when cop mistakes doughnut glaze for meth, gets $37,500 settlement” [WFTV]. Cops confused about donuts? How does that work?

“Chicago incentivizes abusive policing through overtime policy” [The Chicago Reporter]. End-of-shift arrests mean overtime.


“FERC’s approval of Mountain Valley Pipeline stirs defiance, determination” [Roanoke Times].

“Lawsuit Aims To Recognize Colorado River As A Person” [KJZZ].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Nonviolent, cross-racial coalitions are the only way back to a decent America” [Todd Gitlin, The American Prospect]. And:

[#BlackLivesMatter] is the third term in a syllogism that goes like this:

1. All lives matter.

2. Black lives are lives.

3. Black lives matter.

Class Warfare

“Employees who follow a strict automated protocol—some call them ‘meat robots’—need little training. Even the drill was attached to a computer-assisted arm; the worker just had to move it to the right position and let the machine do its magic. A decade ago, industrial robots assisted workers in their tasks. Now workers—those who remain—assist the robots in theirs” [The New Yorker]. “For decades, the conventional view among economists was that technological advances create as many opportunities for workers as they take away. In the past several years, however, research has begun to suggest otherwise.”


“The Benefits of Forced Experimentation: Striking Evidence from the London Underground Network*” [The Quarterly Journal of Economics]. From the abstract: “We show that a strike on the Underground, which forced many commuters to experiment with new routes, brought lasting changes in behavior. This effect is stronger for commuters who live in areas where the Underground map is more distorted, which points to the importance of informational imperfections. Information resulting from the strike improved network efficiency. Search costs alone are unlikely to explain the suboptimal behavior.”

“‘Miners are dying’: The human cost of WA’s FIFO economy” [Mining.com]. WA: Western Australia. FIFO: Fly-In, Fly-out. “Having worked in the industry for over 10 years on West Australian sites, he said the stress from his job, his workmates and his family had him lose his hair ‘in clumps’ at one stage….. ‘The impact of FIFO work practices on mental health’ report made 42 key findings and 30 recommendations regarding depression, workplace bullying, alcohol, harassment and suicide.” I wonder if the same issues apply to workers in the fracking boom.

News of the Wired

“You have almost certainly been hacked” [The Week]. “So much information has been stolen by hackers that virtually everyone in the U.S. has been affected by a data breach in some way — even those who never go online.”

“Google Bombs Are Our New Normal” [Wired]. Right after George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004 and claimed a mandate (“I have political capital, and I intend to spend it”) I actually, personally, Google-bombed “Bush mandate” to Mandate Magazine; the cover boy was, IIRC, wearing a sailor’s hat. I did it because I thought it would drive Republicans crazy, but it’s also exactly the kind of thing I wouldn’t do today.

“Want to see something crazy? Open this link on your phone with WiFi turned off” [Medium]. I only have a dumb phone (and a landline) so this story doesn’t apply to me. But readers may wish to test.

“The New York Times released new staff social media guidelines, so phew, thankfully that’s settled” [Nieman Lab]. The bias against Sanders by Times reporters was pretty staggering. It’s probably best that it’s out in the open, instead of being driven underground.

“An Oxford philosopher’s moral crisis can help us learn to question our instincts” [Quartz]. “Why bother with moral philosophy when common sense serves most of us perfectly well? The simple answer is that, as history shows, commonsensical beliefs are very often wrong. Slavery, marital rape, and bans on interracial marriage were all widely accepted in the relatively recent past.”

“Photo Essay: ‘A sequence of delights and ruptures'” [Scalawag]. “Each photograph is driven by the landscape and a deep sense of place. Geographically, Panola County sits mostly in the red clay hills of Mississippi, with its large forests of pine timber, rolling hills lathered with kudzu vines, lakes, gravel and clay pits for digging.”

“Our obsession with mindfulness is based on limited scientific evidence” [Quartz]. So squillionaire Paul Tudor Jones got conned.

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please put it in the subject line. Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (JB):

JB, “who danced my Snoopy happy-dance today”: “Oaks are funny trees. They can withstand abuse from a hurricane and bounce back, or just die. This is why I was saddened following the damage Hurricane Irma unleashed on the many oaks that border my property. I was mourning one I feared we’d loose because it was virtually denuded but astonishingly, it’s had an overnight transformation that has left my jaw hanging as it sprouted bright green new growth, as if it were late February instead of early October. None of the other oaks was as severely damaged and this one so no others are putting on new growth.”

After writing about trees in both Puerto Rico and California, I’m starting to think they really do run the world…

* * *

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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. Scott

    538 still publishes interesting articles on occasion and today is one of them.


    The Supreme Court doesn’t seem to view math as serious evidence although the extent to which it is an actual compliant as opposed to an excuse for their real beliefs is hard to tell. But either reason is concerning. Does this raise other issues: if the Supreme Court can ignore statistical arguments can other courts as well?

    1. ewmayer

      [Leaving aside the debate about the kinds of ‘electoral math’ 538 and other such punditry sites were promulgating until late election night last November]

      SCOTUS embraces ‘matheism’?

  2. clarky90

    The100th anniversary of the the Bolshevik Revolution is today. Oct 17, 2017. YIKES

    I learned my history from school textbooks, TV documentaries, the movies and historical references in everyday culture. It all made sense. Good guys, bad guys……….

    I imagined that the Hitler and Stalin were two evil Totalitarian Monsters, who had almost simultaneously appeared in the East, like Godzilla vs Mothra. They waged the bloodiest of wars. “Our” Totalitarian, Stalin, won. Stalin was evil, but the “lesser evil”. Stalin’s depravity was understandable because, “Hitler made him do it!”

    Recently, my belief system has been upended by a simple realization. I began viewing the Bolshevik vs the Nazis bloodbath as a forensic exercise. It is a Hatfields vs the McCoys “feud” between neighbors. The McCoys are telling me one narrative, the Hatfields something else? There are also many first-hand reports from bystanders.

    Here are a few obvious things that I found

    Lenin and Trotsky (the Bolsheviks) take power in USSR 1917
    Hitler takes power in Germany 1933 (16 years later)

    Lenin establishes the CHEKA (NKVD…) The Soviet Secret Police, December 1917.
    Hitler/Goering establish the Gestapo, the Nazi Secret Police, in 1933,16 years after the Bolsheviks.

    The Bolsheviks established the first of the Soviet Concentration Camps (GULag) in 1918.
    The Nazis established the first of the Nazi Concentration Camps in 1933, 15 years after the Bolsheviks.

    The Bolsheviks murdered millions of innocents from 1917 to 1991
    The Nazis murdered millions of innocents from 1933 to 1945. The Nazis began their carnage 16 years after the Bolsheviks.

    The Bolsheviks preceded the Nazis by about 16 years at every milestone! Virtually every physical and psychological atrocity committed by the Nazis had ALREADY been invented and perfected by The Bolsheviks.

    There was constant interchange between Germany and the Soviets 1917-1941.
    Germany–Soviet Union relations before 1941

    My question to the commentariat

    Would Hitler have arisen, if the Russian Provisional Government (socialists) had survived the Bolshevik violence of one hundred years ago?

    1. Vatch

      I think you’re a couple of weeks early. Didn’t the Bolshevik overthrow of the government that replaced the Tsar occur on Oct. 25 old style, which corresponded to Nov. 7 new style? But yes, history might have been different in Germany if the Nov. 12 Constituent Assembly election (the SR party finished well above the Bolsheviks) had not been nullified by the Bolsheviks. The Nazis made a lot of noise against Jews and against Communists, so without Communists as an enemy, they might not have had so much traction in the early 1930s. But who really knows? I don’t.

      1. audrey jr

        I believe the date of Oct. 25 is correct; at least that is the date given by Sergei Eisenstein in his wonderful film, “October.” I am getting my info from my DVD copy of that film.

        1. Matt

          Yes, but in the Old Style calendar. On the Gregorian calendar, the revolution anniversary is not until November.

      2. clarky90

        You are correct Vatch. It was Oct 25, 1917, (Old style) November 7 (new style). The 17 in 1917 must have gotten stuck in my mind! Thanks

          1. clarky90

            Olga, thank you for reading what I wrote, having a visceral response, and saying so!

            I have been fascinated and repulsed (frightened) by the events in Eastern Europe, the first half of the 20th Century. It is an “off limits” subject, so very interesting!

          2. Vatch

            It’s not his comment that is bad. It’s the topic (genocidal Bolsheviks and genocidal Nazis) that is so horrible. As for his counterfactual, it’s interesting, but we’ll never know. Elsewhere in this thread, it is reasonably claimed that the Provisional government was inept, which seems reasonable to me. Perhaps if the Socialist Revolutionaries had been allowed to form a government after winning a plurality in the Constituent Assembly election on Nov. 12, 1917, the government would have become competent.

      1. Plenue

        Maybe the provisional government was inherently doomed, maybe not, But there was no October Revolution. There was a February Revolution that overthrew the Tsar, and then later an October Coup when the Bolsheviks had a hissy fit that democracy wasn’t working out for them.

        Now the argument a Bolshevik would make is that only Bourgeoisie Parliamentary democracy wasn’t going their way, but they still had genuine popular support as shown by the lower level democracy of the Soviet councils.

        I’m extremely dubious of this claim, but even if it’s true, it wasn’t long before the Bolsheviks started curbing the powers of those same Soviets, and crushing numerous workers rebellions against Bolshevik rule and policies. The Bolsheviks in fact were bloodthirsty, and in their minds dictatorship of the proletariat always meant dictatorship of the Bolsheviks.

        And this all started before Lenin died, in fact before even the civil war happened. The habit of blaming everything on Stalin is intellectually lazy and dishonest. Bolshevism always inherently entailed a one-party dictatorship under their control, this was not some later deviation of Stalinist perversion. Bolsheviks did not believe in genuine democracy, and were always ideological fanatics.


    2. Byron the Light Bulb

      Authoritarian techniques go back much further…Concentration camps by a narrow modern definition were the creation of the British during the Boer War, put into which people of Dutch roots. A land-locked improvisation for reprisal imprisonment, where otherwise, prison ships would be used, relying on disease to finish off the damned.
      –The Bolsheviks, yes, but also the White Guard, the Makhnovshchyna, and a dozen other movements appropriated the secret police doctrine from the Tsar’s Okhrana, under which it was old hat. The effective “police” bits were cribbed from Victorian England. Oppression is a human condition, not just a European condition.
      –Stalin and Hitler were on a collision course because both regimes rode a criminal wave of theft and indiscriminate violence to avoid being self-devoured. Neither individuals were able to create anything of value to offer, and there was no basis of trust or rule of law required for diplomatic relations.
      Look toward the century old concepts of the Frei Korp, Hessian mercenaries, and Petty Warfare tactics to understand the cyclical violence underpinning the Great Patriotic War.

    3. Craig H.

      Would Hitler have arisen, if the Russian Provisional Government (socialists) had survived the Bolshevik violence of one hundred years ago?

      See Anthony Sutton: Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution: The Remarkable True Story of the American Capitalists Who Financed the Russian Communists

      And then read his book on who sponsored the Nazis.

      As a rule of thumb regime changes necessarily require resourceful sponsorship. The peasants revolting all by themselves probably didn’t even happen in the 16th century.

    4. ambrit

      I suggest that you’re being too parochial here. Concentration camps were used by the British Empire against the Boers in 1899-1902. Truly genocidal policies were enacted over thirty years before the Nazis and fifteen years before the Bolsheviks. The treatment of India by the Imperials bordered on the pathological. Americas war against the nationalists in the Philippines was as bad.
      See: http://all-that-is-interesting.com/boer-war
      Too, the WW1 German General Staff facilitated Lenins’ entry into turbulent Russia. The Germans wanted Russia out of the War, almost at any price.
      Whether or not Kerensky could have held together a viable government after the first Revolution is anybody’s guess. Basically, both the Russia of 1917 and the Germany of 1932 were desperate and yearning for change, also at almost any price. Both nations got charismatic and ruthless leaders as a result.
      See, for charisma: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charismatic_authority
      So, Hitler was a product of basically, the worldwide Depression of the 1930’s. Somehow I don’t see a democratic Russia stopping the Great Depression. Trotsky could have taken over in a Depression ravaged Russia. Now that would have been interesting!

      1. BoycottAmazon

        Yes, exactly. Also there were a large number of external capitalist allies to the Nazis as well as domestic, where as Russia was invaded from both the east and west by pro-capitalist forces attempting to thwart the revolution.

    5. Harold

      Clarky90, I am curious to know how does your interpretation of these historical events differs from that of Ernst Nolte, who, to simplify horribly, argued, as far as I can tell, that Hitler’s crimes were inspired by those of Stalin? Wikipedia has a (rather controverted) article about this. See the Historikerstreit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historikerstreit — and also probably the discussion page to get an idea of the scope of the controversy and its complications.

      1. clarky90

        Hi Harold
        My interest is not intellectual and subjective; but rather personal, forensic genealogy. My paternal family were Jews who came to the USA from Belarus and Lithuania in the 1890s. As far as I know, all that stayed behind were killed, initially by the Bolsheviks and then by the Nazis. Some of my younger relatives could have joined the Communist Party or military and been evacuated East, away from the Nazis? It is possible that some were NKVD, and could have been murders. I hope not. I don’t know.

        I am honoring their memories by trying to understand the complexity of what actually happened to them. There are masses of eyewitness testimonies of people living through those times in Eastern Europe.

        When I was a child, my young cousin Stevie came to stay with us because his father was dying of cancer. Nobody would tell him anything. They thought it was kind to keep him from the truth. Bastards!

      2. Katsue

        There’s no need to speculate on Hitler’s inspirations. He outright stated what his inspirations were.

        The inspiration for lebensraum was America’s Manifest Destiny.
        The inspiration for the Final Solution was the Armenian Genocide.

        Hitler became an anti-Semite in pre-WWI Vienna, and joined the Nazis as a police spy(!)

        As for the Provisional Government which was overthrown by the Bolsheviks, it was in no way democratic. It was a self-appointed clique which failed to either answer to the Duma or hold elections for a Constituent Assembly.

        1. blennylips

          Indeed. Let’s not forget the inspiration for the “Master Race” that lead to the final solution either:


          Eugenics would have been so much bizarre parlor talk had it not been for extensive financing by corporate philanthropies, specifically the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Harriman railroad fortune. They were all in league with some of America’s most respected scientists hailing from such prestigious universities as Stamford, Yale, Harvard, and Princeton. These academicians espoused race theory and race science, and then faked and twisted data to serve eugenics’ racist aims.


          In Buck v. Bell (1927), the state of Virginia sought to sterilize Carrie Buck for promiscuity as evidenced by her giving birth to a baby out of wedlock (some suggest she was raped). In ruling against Buck, Supreme Court Justice Wendell Holmes opined, “It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind….Three generations of imbeciles is enough” (Black 2003). This decision legitimized the various sterilization laws in the United States. In particular, California’s program was so robust that the Nazi’s turned to California for advice in perfecting their own efforts. Hitler proudly admitted to following the laws of several American states that allowed for the prevention of reproduction of the “unfit” (Black 2003).

  3. Terry Flynn

    re single payer

    Of course the Republicans used the “death panel” trope to attack this but I do genuinely wonder to what extent Americans understand and are ready for restrictions on demand (since the demand for health care can zoom to infinity). Extra-welfarism is inevitable (having the population decide how “worthy” any given health care improvement is) but thanks to the almost total exclusion of extra – welfarism from economics in the USA single payer advocates are going to be in this for the long haul.

    For example, the average member of the population considers “extreme pain” to be worse than “extreme depression” but people who have experienced both almost invariably disagree. But single payer a la Canada etc would use population averages and thus pain-relief automatically has an inbuilt advantage.

    Just one issue us single payer countries wrestle with.

  4. Jim Haygood

    Truthdig has posted an awesome interview of Chris Hedges by WSWS. Excerpt:

    CH: Politicians like the Clintons, Pelosi and Schumer are creations of Wall Street. That is why they are so virulent about pushing back against the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party. Without Wall Street money, they would not hold political power.

    The Democratic Party doesn’t actually function as a political party. It’s about perpetual mass mobilization and a hyperventilating public relations arm, all paid for by corporate donors. The base of the party has no real say in the leadership or the policies of the party, as Bernie Sanders and his followers found out. They are props in the sterile political theater.

    These party elites, consumed by greed, myopia and a deep cynicism, have a death grip on the political process. They’re not going to let it go, even if it all implodes.


    Bring it, Lord!

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      Thanks, Jim. Read this interview over at the Unz Review, posted on October 6. Yes, like Milton’s Satan, the party elites would rather rule in Hell than serve the citizenry.

      Mr. Unz performs a valuable service, the banner to his website reading as follows:

      The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
      A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media

      Everything from Alt-Right to WSWS finds a home here, also Pat Buchanan, arch Paleo-Conservative , to Michael Hudson. Commentary is a free-for-all, skewing Alt-Right and ilk, ’cause where else can you find those viewpoints permitted any posting space.

      So, yeah, heavy on the controversial, but this is liberating. Makes a nice change from Google’s and Facebook’s tight-assed attempts to enforce conformity to their favored narrative.

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      Chris is refreshing and everyone should read “War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning” as well as “Death Of The Liberal Class”, which elucidates this very issue of Democratic Party being a Potemkin Village for populists all the way back in October 2010.

      My supposedly “woke” friends defending Obama to this day…sigh…

    3. ambrit

      Be careful what you wish for Mr. Haygood. I agree with you about the sheer fun of seeing the elites self destruct, but, us small time mopes will suffer mightily as a result. This political system we are saddled with seems to come with a built in poison pill clause.
      What i’m afraid of is that the seriously organized parties, such as the Kochs and the Soros’ cliques will pick up the pieces after the implosion and run off with anything worth having.
      In a perverse way, we’re glad that we haven’t very much to lose.

      1. Wukchumni

        One time this dog was chasing my car, so I came to a complete stop and rolled down the window, and yelled @ the cur:

        “Ok, you’ve got me, what next?”

  5. mle detroit

    Should have been filed under The Bezzle, or The Art of the Deal.
    Shortened Bloomberg:

    The decision to stiff-arm the CFPB was good news for government loan contractors such as Navient—the data cut-off could jeopardize prosecution of the agency’s lawsuit against the loan company. Analysts at Washington-based Compass Point Research & Trading, reacting to the Education Department letter, upgraded Navient to a “buy” on the first business day after the Labor Day weekend, Tuesday, Sept. 5, telling clients the missive was an “unambiguous signal” that companies such as Navient would face a “far less onerous” regulatory environment.

    The letter to the CFPB was dated Aug. 31, a Thursday, but wasn’t received by the CFPB until around 3:50 p.m. Friday, according to the consumer bureau. Beginning late in the day on Aug. 31, large trades began to send Navient shares surging. This continued on the morning of Sept. 1. The Education Department letter was made public by Congress later that day.

    According to the AFL-CIO, an unknown number of investors made three big purchases of Navient stock at the price of $13.20 per share late on Aug. 31. This amounted to 872,394 shares, equal to 24 percent of trading volume that day, according to the group. The next morning, a few more big purchases took place. By the time Representative Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican and chair of the House education committee, announced the Education Department’s policy shift at about 5 p.m., Navient stock had risen to $13.75 per share, a more than 4 percent jump from the market close Aug. 31.

  6. Livius Drusus

    Re:mindfulness, I never liked the mindfulness movement. It always reminded me of the positive thinking movement and other attempts to get people to ignore objective reality and instead seek “inner” solutions to their problems. I am not surprised that corporate management has promoted it as an answer to problems of employee discontent. It fits in with the common theme of the last 40 years where every problem is characterized as an individual issue. Don’t bother fighting for more rights in the workplace and more employee say in management, just do yoga and meditate.

    Of course, if mindfulness helps you go ahead and do it. I wouldn’t argue with people who said that it helped them. I only object to the promotion of mindfulness as an answer to problems that are not individual in nature, like the imbalance of power between workers and management in the modern workplace. Those are collective problems and need collective solutions.

    1. Terry Flynn

      I instinctively dislike a lot of these movements but having undergone three years of psychodynamic therapy and CBT, mindfulness is the only one that I retain an open mind about. My reservations are those of Keynes (in the long run we’re dead) so its promise of only long term benefit makes me sigh.

      I also have posted before that for lots of people there is no way they can integrate it into their lives. But maybe for me it might help….. but I strongly suspect it will be like CBT – the wonder solution that only works for small numbers of people.

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      ugh, agree about positive thinking for sure! but mindfulness can actually be empowering since it reduces reactivity and living in your head, thus allowing purposeful action rather than endless reaction.

      many patients i have worked with have experienced symptom relief using it, whether that is scientific or not.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        1) Identify who is oppressing you.
        2) Organize with others in your same predicament.
        3) Attack.
        4) See 2) and 3)

    3. KTN

      Mindfulness properly practiced has absolutely nothing to do with ‘[ignoring] objective reality.’ In fact, practicing properly, one should find oneself ‘[ignoring] objective reality’ to a far less extent. If these appear to conflict to you, you may understand the concept(s) less than you think you do. The clinical elaboration is referred to as MBSR.

      Harsh as it may seem, the great spiritual figures would have probably recommended that if you are a slave, then slave. [‘Render unto Caesar,’ etc.] However, today’s corporations are not great spiritual figures, and the recommendation is actually ‘slave for us.’

  7. Vatch

    I like the syllogism:

    [#BlackLivesMatter] is the third term in a syllogism that goes like this:

    1. All lives matter.

    2. Black lives are lives.

    3. Black lives matter.

    This is very similar to something I said a couple of years ago, against which there was some push back:


    The reason that black lives matter is that all lives matter. The set of black lives is a proper subset of the set of all lives. If all lives matter, then it necessarily follows that black lives matter.

    1. a different chris

      Well we will have to pushback again (I did go back and re-read the comments, they didn’t seem to get thru to you so giving it another shot)


      Pretty sure that “all” really doesn’t get it. If “all lives matter, then (hey son your life matters too!)” seems about as whitesplaining as it gets.

      The problem is not that people don’t understand that peoples lives matter. It is that they don’t seem to understand that black people are actually fully fledged people.

      So again: Long form is “Black lives also matter.”

      1. Vatch

        “Whitesplaining”? Are you saying that simple formal logic which proves that black lives matter is “whitesplaining”?

  8. Anon

    201 Twitter accounts and $100k in Facebook spending can hard counter a campaign. Looks like Citizens United isn’t a concern after all? /sarc

  9. Huey Long

    RE: Facebook Security Clearances

    Not to get too tinfoil hattish BUT:

    I was already under the impression that Facebook had spooks on the payroll. I know if I ran the CIA/NSA I’d definitely have people working there and blackmail on the top execs/board members in case anybody decided to interfere or go public.

    I mean if you ran an intelligence agency and a firm in your jurisdiction had 1.74 billion users spread across the globe essentially spying on themselves wouldn’t you have agents placed inside?

    I see this as pure cover story BS to legitimize the presence of bunch of spooks working at Facebook. Now any story coming out of there about the presence of spooks, special limited access spook offices, and the like is automatically a nothingburger “because evil Russian election hackers.”

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        One wonders if Zuck could tamp down his ego enough to be useful to the Oligarchy without being a pain in the ass. Project Donald has mixed results for them so far.

    1. justanotherprogressive

      Facebook can’t get security clearances for its people and access to secure information just because it wants it. It has to be working for the government and have people doing work for the government.

      Soooo….the question is: Is Facebook a government contractor? And for how long?

      1. Huey Long

        Facebook can’t get security clearances for its people and access to secure information just because it wants it. It has to be working for the government and have people doing work for the government.


        Which leads me to believe this is cover for some NSA/CIA tomfoolery at FB

  10. John k

    ‘…it’s time for the donor class to stop paying dems to lose.’
    It’s never time for that.
    It’s long past time for dems to stop taking donor money to push down the middle class…
    But not gonna happen. You’ll have to pry their cold, dead hands off the wheel.

    How? There’s so many of them, and they’re so entrenched. Consider the fraction of supers committed to the rod. True, 117 house worthies signed on to single payer… might these be those most fearful of challenge from the left? And those more secure are never, ever?
    Most senators won’t face voters for a while… smaller fraction feel threatened just now.

    But even without the press Bernie just might get the win in 2020… but he’ll have to win without CA, Harris will carry the state… could be three way, dem oligarchs fund Biden and Harris both, anything to keep Bernie from a majority… and supers provide handicap…

    If his health holds… and no accidents…

    1. Carla

      “117 house worthies signed on to single payer… might these be those most fearful of challenge from the left? And those more secure are never, ever?”

      My Congressional Rep. Marcia Fudge is in a super-safe seat. I get the impression she signed on to HR-676 (Medicare for All) because as head of the Congressional Black Caucus she no longer had to toe the Obama line once he left office. I’m delighted to report that for good measure, she also signed on to HJR-48, the “Corporations are not people; money is not speech” bill, probably for the same reason: her constituents were demanding it, and she no longer had a political excuse for not doing so.

      1. John k

        Hopefully Obomba moving to Wall Street will open the door for blacks to vote their progressive interests. Southern firebreak for Bernie vs the super duo Harris and smilin Joe?

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      Harris will be crammed down our throats. Bernie supporters will not just be sexists this time, but also racists.

      And of course, as before, without exception all male and white. Chair throwing that doesn’t actually happen TBD.

  11. MikeW_CA

    “Canadian firm could dodge 300 percent tariff by building jets in Alabama”. Hmm. Isn’t that the sort of protectionist, “local content” trade restriction that developing countries, including China, have been doing for years? The kind that Neoliberals have been telling us cannot and must not be done for just as long?

    From the description here, it would seem to be working exactly as intended.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A new Statue of Liberty – give me your huddled corporate masses yearning for US market shares.

      Send them to me!

    2. begob

      And Airbus is carving out a big chunk of Bombardier too. I think Yves noted that was a relief for Theresa May and the DUP, but I wonder if it will come at a cost to their parliamentary arrangement.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I see its been treated as good news for NI, but I do wonder. Airbus will be looking to save money by rationalising construction so I wonder if they’d see the NI unit as surplus – they may well find a cheaper source of wings in the US, or in their other component plants around the world.

        Having said that, I think this is a very smart move by Airbus. They have now massively expanded their range of aircraft into an area with few competitors (smaller, long range aircraft). They have spiked Boeings strategy to destroy the C-series, and gotten bonus points from both Trump and Trudeau, no mean achievement.

    3. Matt

      And of course many of the liberal commenters on that article are blasting this intolerable distortion of free trade principles! Although I don’t know if it’s ideology or Trump hysteria.

  12. clarky90

    “Tedious, pointless nightmare: The truth about working at Google”


    “The banner atop the Google Careers portal caught my eye back when I was one of 3 million hungry applicants: “Do Cool Things That Matter.” It speaks at once of the tech industry’s casual hipness and its passionate purpose…..

    ….That’s it. The whole job. Seriously. Repeated 40 or so times in each workday. As for doing things that matter? ……”

    On this special day (Oct 17, 2017), I recall George Orwell’s “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength!”

  13. Jon Rudd

    I’m glad that someone out there besides me believes that trees really run the world. I’ve been convinced of that since the Eisenhower Administration (like that rug in The Big Lebowski they hold the world together).

    1. Oregoncharles

      Yggdrasil holds up the world:
      (Wikipedia) “Yggdrasil (/ˈɪɡdrəsɪl/ or /ˈɪɡdrəzɪl/; from Old Norse Yggdrasill, pronounced [ˈyɡːˌdrasilː]) is an immense mythical tree that connects the nine worlds in Norse cosmology.”

      An ash tree, IIRC. We have lots of them. Grow in all the wet spots.

    2. Trickle Down McGush-Up

      re: Trees running the world.

      If you’ve been to the Australian bush, and then go to Portugal you’ll start to notice the prevalence of alien gum trees (eucalyptus) in the some parts of the Iberian peninsular, and you’ll start to wonder whether you are back in Australia. These trees are born to burn. Granted, they grow quickly and straight, and must have seemed like the ideal forestry tree to some idiot sometime.

      If trees are running the world it is going to become a gum scented atmosphere breathed by mere humans with grab-and-go bags permanently at the ready.

      Pip Pip

      1. The Rev Kev

        I was in Santorini in Greece a long time ago and found myself in a grove of eucalyptus trees and wondered what the hell? It was like I was in Australia again. I think that in some areas they are good at draining marshy lands (but don’t know if that is true) but I have no idea why they appear to be in such large numbers in California.
        That “gum scented atmosphere” is more than that. Near Sydney is a chain of mountains called the Blue Mountains. The reason that they are called that is that from a distance the mountains look blue and the reason for that is the eucalyptus trees give of a gas that makes the greenery look blue. I have wondered if this oil scented atmosphere helps spreads fire at the right temperature.

        1. Wukchumni

          There’s a ton of Eucalyptus in San Diego, and they are the Pigpen of trees, were they a character in Peanuts. The main allure is they grow crazy quick and provide shade in a desert where not much else grows that tall naturally. As in Aussie, they are a fire risk and then some, for when a conflagration happens, they are like torches on high, and burn much easier than other species.

  14. Jim Haygood

    As the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 set fresh records today — as is their wont — an heretical NYU professor named Scott Galloway speaks ill of our mighty horsemen:

    Galloway, who now teaches marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business, dissects the success of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google — which he refers to as the “Four Horsemen” — in The Four, a book released this month by Portfolio.

    “Do I see them getting more and more powerful? Yes. Do I see all of them dying within our lifetimes? Yes. I am comfortable saying they will all go out of business, all disappear within 50 years.

    “If you are trying to pick the one, the good money right now is on Amazon. Out of the other three, Amazon is winning. What I see is Amazon getting to a trillion in market cap first.

    “The true Fifth Horseman if you are talking about big tech is already there, it is Microsoft. I didn’t mention [Microsoft] because I think of them as a B-to-B company. But the good money right now for the Fifth Horseman is Netflix.

    “The entire workforce of all four of these companies is [equal to] the entire Lower East Side of Manhattan, yet they have the market capitalization equivalent of the GDP of India.”


    So just over half a million techies are valued higher than 1,320 million Indians. We’re amazing!

    *pats self on back and returns to coding*

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When you view the US from Mars, it’s a wealthy country, like McCain said.

      Just don’t look too closely.

      1. Jim Haygood

        So was France during the Mississippi bubble.

        That’s why I’m about to found the John Law Institute for Studies in Monetary Disorder.

        This bubble’s getting bigger than all the others combined. It’s global in scope thanks to coordinated central bank check-kiting.

        Bring on the go-go girls! ;-)

        1. Jon Rudd

          How about the South Sea Institute instead. Law started out more or less honest, but the South Sea Company was a big con from the get-go.

          1. Craig H.

            I was surprised when I read in Schumpeter’s History of Economic Analysis that his opinion was Law had a sound plan and it could have worked but the problems in the French economy were insurmountable at that point no matter what.

        2. Wukchumni

          This event wasn’t a bubble so much, but is contemporary with the other financial shenanigans, and had profound connotations.

          “The Darien scheme was an unsuccessful attempt by the Kingdom of Scotland to become a world trading nation by establishing a colony called “Caledonia” on the Isthmus of Panama on the Gulf of Darién in the late 1690s.

          As the Company of Scotland was backed by 25–50% of all the money circulating in Scotland, its failure left the entire Lowlands almost completely ruined and was an important factor in weakening their resistance to the Act of Union (completed in 1707). The land where the Darien colony was built is virtually uninhabited today.”


  15. Pat

    Call me cynical, but my opinion is that the current outrage about rampant sexual harassment because of Harvey Weinstein and its chance of changing things in America, much less anywhere else, is on a par with the recent shooting in Las Vegas and sensible gun control. #Me too and all.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad if it moves the dial even slightly, but very honestly I thought the uproar about Trump was ridiculous and the uproar about this the same. Not because there is not something to be offended about, not because this behavior should be unacceptable, but because without time and pressure and a whole lot of people willing to shout out at the time it happens not just when there has been an incident there will not be a sea change regarding this in America. In a matter of months or even days, men who behave in a similar manner will drop whatever reticence they had adopted and continue on as before, just as the revelations and outrage about Donald Trump didn’t stop Harvey.

    A hash tag on twitter or face book just does not cut it.

    1. RUKidding

      Sadly yes.

      It doesn’t help when women – and too many that I know say this – say it’s all & only the women’s fault, and they should have found some way to “avoid” the harassment.

      Oh really?

      Too many women I know have said this in trying “justify” Weinstein’s behavior. They vote D. I asked them: oh so Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly should still be in their jobs bc the women at Fox should have “avoided” the harassment there?? How does that work?

      I give up. If women aren’t going to take stand on this issue – no matter what politics the male in question espouses – then we’re gonna get nowhere on this issue.


      1. GlobalMisanthrope

        You give up? That was easy.

        We have to stop focusing on what and whether women do in response to such clearly inappropriate behavior. We have to change our behavior and make those who engage in sexist bullying—in all forms—pariahs.

        If women want to engage themselves and each other in the same way, they are free to do so. But our actions should not be reliant upon their acting.

        We should look to the abolitionists for instruction on this and throw our relative power and privilege behind women regardless of whether they are able or willing to push back against this widespread form of violence and injustice.

      2. Elizabeth Burton

        Given how many “righteous women” have been slandering Melania Trump for the last two years for no other reason than who she’s married to (She should never have married someone like him!), my respect for many of those who claim to be leaders of the movement went from bad to worse.

        I agree that, while the whole “#metoo” thing got a lot of mileage, I questioned it from the standpoint that it would only be truly effective if it were done in some totally “public” space, even if said space were only a website. I suppose I lost another 50 points as a feminist for doing so. I’m just so tired of all the posturing and selective outrage that, as you say, fades away once the famous perp is no longer news. Where’s all the support for domestic violence victims? Especially the ones being murdered on a daily basis?

        I’m also uncomfortable when the subject of sexual violence is genderized, i. e., when people who should know better say “We aren’t including sexual violence against men because that’s a whole separate issue.” Seriously?

        But then, I hate it when anything is genderized. My life would have been a whole lot easier if gender—and its social and cultural “norms”—didn’t exist. I suspect if others took the time to ponder it, they’d discover the same thing.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I wonder what science fiction or science has to offer on hermaphrodite humans.

          Then, men and women will be created equal.

          “In a galaxy far, far away…”

          1. Mel

            The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. LeGuin. Everyody should know that one.. Actually, most of everything she writes, one way or another.

        2. ChiGal in Carolina

          tonight on Democracy Now they had on the woman who originated #metoo, some 10 years ago or so. It is taking off now because a celebrity used it. the woman who originated it works with disadvantaged youth, if I am remembering correctly, and the point of it was to convert the shame those affected feel about speaking up into empathy.

          now it also becomes a way to see how widespread the problem is, and to understand that it is not a matter of rogue individuals, but rather a culture, i.e. it is systemic

        3. schultzzz

          Thanks for posting this! 100% cosign.
          I’m also appalled by the stories, but it’s so corny that the outrage is limited to individual perps, instead of being directed at The System; to me, that feels too much like the people who believe that if we get rid of POTUS, it’ll all go back to normal.

          Matt Breunig had a nice tweet which connected the dots quite well (i.e. it applies to all women, Hollywood types & McDonalds workers): an employment system where you have to get a referral from your previous boss, in order to change jobs. . . is “insane.”

          1. Wukchumni

            We had lunch with my mom @ her assisted living place and we got talking about this Weinstein fellow, and she worked for United Airlines @ the Brown Palace hotel in Denver from 1952 to 1956, and told me that a 5 foot 3 fellow who was a VP of the airline lived in a penthouse in the nearby Cosmopolitan hotel, and she had heard of his reputation a little, as he had a habit of inviting single women working for the company up to the living room of his penthouse, and sure enough she got the call, and said she went in and he immediately popped into his bedroom and messed up the bed, and then there was some chitchat, and he asked if she would like some snacks from room service?

            She said sure, and when they were delivered 15 minutes later, and his gig was to allow the deliverer to see that something must’ve gone on between the 2 based on the tossed sheets unkempt on the bed, and spread rumors of the little big man’s prowess.

            My mom said she ate a few of the snacks, and that was that, nothing ever happened between them.

            1950’s style sexual harassment

    2. JohnnyGL

      Yes, I suspect the handcuffs aren’t going to get slapped on him. For people like Weinstein and Bill Cosby, we’re going to have to content ourselves with shame and career termination.

      The stories are just so jaw-droppingly horrible. I’m struggling to grasp how systematically predatory Weinstein was, and how far and wide the cover-up runs. As if we needed another example of how powerful, and deeply rotten, our elites really are.

      1. GlobalMisanthrope

        I am completely and utterly incredulous in the face of statements like yours. I have witnessed so much terrible behavior by men about and toward women that I can’t figure out where people like you live. I’m serious. And everyone I talk to has witnessed similar things. Some much worse things than I have.

        Granted I have lived most of my life in Texas, so maybe things are incredibly worse here than other places and I just have no perspective. But I stopped hanging out with groups of guys because I honestly never had any experiences that didn’t involve some sort of demeaning of women. Whether in the form of “compliments” about their appearance or “jokes” of all kinds. I love and respect my wife and I would come home from a night out with dudes from work and feel actually dirty and guilty because they were so gross in so many ways large and small and I didn’t tell them to knock it off. And, believe me, these guys were not “elites.”

        I’m not being sarcastic. Practically every description, depiction or discussion of women I hear or see sexualizes them or robs them of their sexuality, as in the case of older women or those who don’t present as obvious “eye candy.”

        I don’t mean to pick on you, others have expressed like sentiments. I just really don’t know what to make of people’s shock and mystification when it comes to this issue. Especially men.

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          Man in my 30s. Have lived all over the US.

          People expressing shock and amazement that men could treat women the way they have since time immemorial should be congratulated for their amazing luck in having little to no adversity in their lives, and castigated for their indifference to those who do.

          It’s a handy sorting tool, like Russophobia is for deciding which journalists to ignore.

        2. ChiGal in Carolina

          word. and no, it’s not just Texas.

          i count myself lucky to have mostly lived in a subculture (academic) where no one went in for that sort of thing, but as a social worker i have spent time with wide range of people and i know how common it is for men to see women primarily as objects.

  16. TroyMcClure

    re: Woman’s March

    As Yves has pointed out the idea that “women” as a unit are a viable political force in electoral politics does not hold up under scrutiny.

    I’ve been watching Mirowski’s lectures on the history of the rise neoliberalism as philosophy (it’s a philosophy first, not just a political stance favoring the rich) and it’s really driving home to me how patently absurd and impotent this sort of identity politics really is.

    I highly recommend anyone interested in how a philosophical movement (democratic socialism perhaps) takes over both policy and the public imagination read Mirowski. No one gets it better.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I very strongly endorse your recommendation to read Mirowski and to watch his videos.

      I’m especially concerned about Global Warming. I watched his video “Prof. Philip Mirowski keynote for ‘Life and Debt’ conference” [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7ewn29w-9I] several times now (the audio is a little weak so I downloaded the presentation so I could watch it on my TV).

      I started to wonder what might come out of a study of the Atlas Network using the network analysis Bill Domhoff at “Who Rules America” [http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/]. I’ve also watched Bill Domhoff’s videos and came away disturbed by his notions of the Market and Market Economy. I believe Santa Cruz tends to lean far toward Marxist philosophy which Domnoff is responding to in his promotion for the market. I’m curious what might come of a Phillip Mirowski and Bill Domhoff collaboration.

  17. begob

    I didn’t realise Bernie held a rally in Ireland during the summer – enthusiastic crowd, but not a rabble. A bit puzzled when he kept standing to give his answers in the end session, but they had a chuckle when the repeated effort got a bit much for him. The only false note, I think, was on the Russia interference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zo_6y2VTpWQ

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Well, Trump is trying to protect us from the Iranians, as Sanders is regarding the Russians.

      If anyone is into butterflies and inter-connectedness, where domestic is foreign, and foreign is domestic, we could use some other alternatives.

  18. Kurtismayfield

    “FBI uncovered Russian bribery plot before Obama administration approved controversial nuclear deal with Moscow”

    Is it way too convenient for HRC to get injured in the middle of her press tour 48 hours before this broke? Should I take off my tin foil hat?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Probably Comey or his pals in the bureau…again.

      The infantilization of politicians.

      And the teenagerization (as in raging hormones) of Hollywood.

    2. KTN

      Injured, my foot!

      Not sure what a perfectly reasonable question has to do with metallic haberdashery.

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      That Russian money was going to the Clintons isn’t news to those who’ve been analyzing the Foundation. This just provides solid proof.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Funny thing that. It was not only Russia. After Hillary crashed and burned last November, the Australian government stated that they are thinking about demanding the 88 million dollars back that they had given the Clinton Foundation.
        When people started asking what 88 million dollars and just who the hell authorized that one the whole thing went quite. It makes you wonder what the total would be for the other 200 countries in the world. Would the RICO laws apply here?

    4. Jen

      Never, ever take off the tinfoil hat.

      Donning mine, is this a sign of TPTB telling Hillary it’s time for her to go?

      1. Plenue

        I was going to say; this uranium deal story is one the ‘fact-checkers’ have been assuring us for months wasn’t real. Score one for Jimmy Dore, as well.

    5. Daryl

      No doubt the Democratic party will be all over this. Have to root out anything that’s been touched by those dastardly Russians and all.

  19. audrey jr

    On self driving cars: “The car will find a way to come to a safe stop if it detects unsafe driving conditions.” Alright. Sign me up! And the car will perform CPR on you, too! Hey, what’s not to like here? Will the car also turn into a Lifeflight helicopter and transport me directly to the nearest trauma unit?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Unsafe driving conditions.

      The rich neighborhoods are always safer…security guards on every block.

      Will the self-driving algo route 99% passengers through ‘safe’ 1% neighborhoods?

  20. Elizabeth Burton

    Re: Facebook teaming up with DoorDash et al.

    I’m guessing you haven’t used DoorDash. There are local restaurants and food specialty shops here who use the service to extend their outreach. I can’t speak for the other services, but is there really that much difference between ordering while on Facebook or grabbing one’s phone to use the app?

    Being hobbled and likely to end up working late, I use DoorDash a lot. I also tip well. Indeed, my DH worked for them briefly and made more that week than he did driving his cab (Thanks, Uber!). The down side is that they are bears when it comes to mistakes—and it’s all too easy to encounter someone who blames the delivery person when the restaurant screws up the order. So, not recommended for employment stability.

  21. ewmayer

    “Readers, this will be a bit of a pantry clearout, especially on The Bezzle, after my dereliction of duty yesterday.” — I find it interesting that most of the dozen-or-so links preceding the start of The-Bezzle-tagged ones could also be plausibly tagged thusly.

  22. Wukchumni

    …don’t be cruller

    “Orlando man arrested when cop mistakes doughnut glaze for meth, gets $37,500 settlement” [WFTV]. Cops confused about donuts? How does that work?

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I’m surprised the opposition to the police hasn’t yet — at least to my knowledge — exploited drones in counter actions.

  23. Wukchumni

    Beautiful oak trees in the photo, they’re pretty resilient and are long lived…

    All of the native trees here on the all cats and no cattle ranch are never watered by the hand of man, and they’ve been care-taking the property for 100-200 years…

    Manzanitas, live oaks, blue oaks, white oaks, buckeyes, buckbrush, etc.

    Each tree supplied a food need, along with medicinal needs for the indians who called this home for 3,000 years. The acorns were the mainstay of the diet counting for 2/3rds of their intake, and about 85% protein, while large small child fist sized buckeyes were a survival food if the acorn crop failed. They were only about 30% protein and didn’t taste that great and took a lot longer to prepare to eat.

    If we had a catastrophic fire that burned down our place, it’d be like “oh well” and spend a couple years getting it rebuilt, and we’d crawl from the wreckage into a brand new car sort of, and the trees would be toast, so the view would pretty much suck for the rest of my lifetime, compared to what it was. But for the indians, it would mean a vital food source was extinguished and that would be catastrophic!

    That was one of the reasons they burnt the understory every year before the rains came, without fail every fall.

    Life would’ve been desperate for the indians in the midst of our long recent drought as we had a stretch of 3 years with no acorns falling,
    and spotty amounts of buckeyes on the ground, along with live oaks and manzanita trees dying starting in year 3-as they are perennial, while everything else goes dormant for a period, in hibernation. Then in years 4 & 5 of the drought, mature buckeye trees perhaps 200 years old started dying, along with blue oaks of a similar age. We lost about 15% of the forest in total, with it skewed more towards the live oaks and manzanitas than other trees. This winter was bountiful in rain and a number of trees drank in too much of the goodness, and toppled over later in the year, along with dead limbs falling off of partially dead trees.

    So, a few years ago in one of our bountiful years of acorns, we had a couple of out of town competitors from the higher climes, steller’s jays & black bears. The acorn harvest had failed in their usual haunts from 2,000 to 6,000 feet, so the town was a bit overrun with them. Most people didn’t notice the steller’s jays so much, but you couldn’t miss the bears, they were all over the place and famished. We had as many as 3 high up in a single oak tree harvesting acorns, and they didn’t seem that interested in all of the ones on the ground, perhaps as we would do the same thing with a peach.

    And luckily not one human was a competitor for the prized acorns, but add the Wukchumni tribe in, and it becomes a 3 for all in a fight for survival.


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