Links 10/10/17

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‘Sooty birds’ reveal hidden US air pollution BBC

The State of U.S. Infrastructure CFR

Airbus Corruption Scandal May Lead Straight to the Top Der Spiegel

Bombardier faces proposed 300% duty on plane exports to US Belfast Telegraph (Richard Smith). Richard Smith: “This is the free trade paradise we want to enter via Brexit…”

Kobe Steel under the gun after firm admits data falsification Reuters

Round and Round It Spins – Our Latest Health Care Revolving Door Roundup Health Care Renewal

SoftBank deal with Uber encounters delay FT. If there’s no price, is there even a deal?


Catalonia’s president to bring crisis to head in parliament Guardian

Pressure rises on Catalan regional premier ahead of parliament session El Pais and Spanish PM ready to use all legal means to stop Catalan independence El Pais (an organ of the Spanish establishment). “‘History shows that Catalan declarations of independence have ended very badly,’ noted [the Popular Party (PP)’s vice-secretary for communications, Pablo] Casado.” It’s not clear whether “very badly” means the execution of Lluís Companys, Mayor of Barcelona who proclaimed the Republic of Catalonia in 1931, or the subsequent Spanish Civil War.

Spain stares into Catalan ‘abyss’ Politico

Merkel backs ‘unity of Spain’ in call with Rajoy The Local

France leads EU pressure on Catalonia Euronews

Catalonia crisis: What are the options for Spain now? BBC

The Basque: Spain’s effective but expensive antidote to secession Reuters

Costa Gavras: I will make a film based on Adults in the Room Yanis Varoufakis


Britain, divided Politico. Elites, who live and die by “divide and conquer,” shed crocodile tears at the consequences of their own strategy.

Theresa May sets out trade plans for a no-deal Brexit FT

Puerto Rico

New York Fed President Sent Puerto Rico a Jet Filled With Cash Bloomberg.

Wall Street Firms Gambled on Puerto Rico. They’re Losing. NYT

While Puerto Rico Fights For Aid, This Long-Forgotten Island Remains ‘Slum of the Pacific’ EcoWatch

Hurricane Alley

After Hurricanes, Public Housing May Never Get Rebuilt Governing. Never let a crisis go to waste.


How China Is Tackling Dangers in its Financial System: Q&A Bloomberg

The Chinese World Order NYRB

China’s Google Checks 3 Billion ‘Fake News’ Claims Every Year Bloomberg. For some definition of “fake.”

Over 34,000 sign petition urging Hong Kong authorities not to ‘arrest’ shop cat accused of hurting child Hong Kong Free Press

Fearsome Plague Epidemic Strikes Madagascar NYT

North Korea

What would a U.S.-North Korea war look like? The Week

South Korea developing graphite ‘blackout bombs’ to paralyse North’s electrical grid The Telegraph


Afghan president, U.S. general vow ambitious air war to defeat Taliban WaPo. If only we’d thought of that before!

Iraq imposes new measures on Kurdistan over independence push The National

Turkey Digs in Heels Over Diplomatic Fight With U.S. Foreign Policy

New Cold War

Is Facebook spinning out of control over Russian revelations? FT. “3,000 political ads.” As opposed to $4.4 billion of TV ads, and 489,142 airings from Clinton between June 8 and October 30, 2016. Somebody’s in the wrong business….

Google uncovers Russian-bought ads on YouTube, Gmail and other platforms WaPo. “[T]ens of thousands of dollars were spent on ads.” Holy moley! Robbie Mook had over a billion! You’d think he’d have been able to squelch a five-figure spend by accident!

How Putin’s Russia uses Soviet-era tricks to evoke racist white fears WaPo. “We still don’t know exactly how any of these social media efforts informed Americans’ voting choices in 2016.” Sorry to lose my patience, here, but: It’s fascinating to watch all the Clintonite exculpatory narratives gradually merging… On the bright side, since Russian outside agitators are now responsible for stoking American’s divisions over race, all we have to do is go to war with them, and problem solved!

How Russia Harvested American Rage to Reshape U.S. Politics NYT. “[H]undreds of posts.”

Russians in Silicon Valley Can’t Shake Hacking’s Shadow NYT. More crocodile tears.

Pierre Omidyar: 6 ways social media has become a direct threat to democracy WaPo

Trump Transition

These Are the Tax Issues Threatening to Divide Republicans Bloomberg

Trump’s Tax Plan Helps Wall Street Not Main Street Counterpunch (ChiGal).

The hypocrisy of Bob Corker The Week

Erik Prince: Founder of mercenary group accused of killing Iraqi civilians ‘to run for Senate’ Independent. Seems legit.

The Moldbug Variations The Baffler (Grizzorama).

The Jared bubble CJR. The Observer.

Democrats in Disarray

Democrats look to wreak havoc in GOP primaries Politico. The Democrats are going to repeat their 2016 “Pied Piper” strategy in 2018. Everything is fine.

How Harvey Weinstein became one of the most powerful figures in Democratic politics before his career was rocked by a sexual harassment scandal Business Insider

Here’s Why So Many Women Knew The Rumors About Harvey Weinstein BuzzFeed (DK). Nice to see HillaryLand all over this. Oh, wait

What happened: Hillary’s view Lawrence Lessig, Medium. Wowsers. On the bright side, this is in Medium, and not an Op-Ed in the World’s Greatest Newspaper.

New York Has Voting Laws That Are Just as Bad as Many Red States Mother Jones (Re Silc). In New York, to vote in next summer’s primary, you must register by October 13.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Police issue warrant for black man beaten at Virginia rally Los Angeles Times

Imperial Collapse Watch

Inside the CIA’s black site torture room The Guardian. Good thing [genuflects] Obama prosecuted the perps. Oh, wait…

Guillotine Watch

The Glut of Private Jets Means ‘Insane’ Bargains for Buyers Bloomberg

Las Vegas: How White Rights, Neoliberal Isolation and a Little Incompetence Killed 59 or 60 People This Week Black Agenda Report

Class Warfare

A new study shows how little tax the super-rich pay The Economist (original).

Cybersecurity firm finds ‘90% crud’ rule rings true among 100 billion DNS records HealthCare IT (DK).

There Is No Nobel Prize in Economics Yasha Levine, Alternet. From 2012, relevant today.

Antidote du jour (via):

Working to make my cat game strong, here…

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. Roger Smith

    Is that train symbolic of Lessing?

    “Most of the tabloid criticism of the book suggests the book is an effort to shift blame elsewhere. That is complete bs”

    Yes “tabloid”… I don’t think this sentence could be any more willfully ignorant, dishonest, and backwards.

    1. BoycottAmazon

      You may have left off childish and guilt ridden. Lessig often tears up, becomes extremely emotional, in his speeches. He has a very black and white, Pollyanna view of the world and credential-ism. Note how he sees Gore’s attempts to deregulate internet and telecom industry is only good, government oversight bad and source of corruption.

    2. rusti

      Did Lessig undergo some kind of transition after the election? Or was he always this way and I never followed him closely enough to notice?

      The Comey error, however, is not the most serious, systemically. It was wrong, but this sort of thing is not going to happen again. The more serious, systemically, is the Russians. Clinton pulls together the most complete account of what we know or should believe, and the story is truly terrifying. Terrifying, not just for what the Russians did — which is terrible enough—but more for how pathetically the public, meaning journalism, reacted.

      Clearly he reads Glenn Greenwald, given that he quotes him further down, but Lessig managed to miss all those Greenwald articles cataloging the absurd hysterics the media has gone to trying to pin every societal ill on those nefarious Russians.

      This one showed a remarkable degree of willful ignorance too:

      But the consequence of the never-ending attack on her integrity by Sanders, and then Trump was completely predictable. What Clinton faced was an enormous trust gap. And the fundamental question for the campaign should have been, how do we address that gap? What do we do to negate it? How do we convince America that we — certainly more than Trump—want to remake the corruption of DC? How do we become the reformers, at a time when Americans desperately wanted reform?

      The ultimate tenured beltway insider, who has amassed a fortune by virtue of being a beltway insider, is going to sell the idea that she’s interested in reforming the corrupt system that was virtually unanimous in wanting to put her in charge? That’ll solve the “trust gap” that was apparently opened up by Sanders’ “Never ending attack on her integrity”.

          1. Wukchumni

            Edmond Safra was a bit of a maverick, his Safra Bank in Encino was one of the few financial concerns in the country that made loans on pm’s & rare coins, to public & private interests.

            His death was a mystery, as well.

          2. jsn

            His whole quixotic campaign against campaign finance was as naive as Tim Cox “Get Out Of Our House” (GOOOH) campaign in the 2010 congressional elections.

            Both are so blind to systemic cultural affects, particularly the dynamics around corruption, that they couldn’t imagine any reason for our problems except that everyone isn’t as smart as they are and if they just took the time to explain things, the rest of us would see it their way.

            It’s really less vanity than it seems and a great deal more myopia, I suspect induced by having always been told how smart they are.

            1. Roger Smith

              This was my first contact with him. At this point I am sad to say I donated a small amount to the cause, as a then average surveyor who wasn’t looking between the lines. And to answer Carla above, that is why I am (sort of) surprised. My limited past experience had him fighting against campaign finance (though I am sure it was shallow and flawed as he appears to be now).

              1. jsn

                I think he really believes only the GOP is corrupt and Hillary is very responsible with her “donations”.

                He lives in a similar but adjacent “wonderful” bubble to that which shielded George Bush Jr from any negative consequences for his catastrophic (for others) decisions.

                And because Lessig’s wonderful world, from his perspective, continues to be wonderful, its obvious (to him) the problems are all outside that world, and mostly because people out there don’t understand how wonderful it would be if they were all as smart as him and disregard his sage advice.

          3. diptherio

            When you see some academic or “public intellectual” being elevated in the mainstream media, it’s a pretty safe bet that is happening because the person has been actively pursuing such elevation. That is, our celebrities (and not just of the entertainment industry variety) are self-selecting, and that self-selection is being done on the basis of egotism (i.e. wanting to get famous), not a desire to understand the truth and help others to do so.

            So a common pattern to see is people who start out by doing legitimately good things, who appear to be genuinely committed to their radical, status-quo fighting cause. That gains them notoriety and “street cred,” allowing them to get their foot in the door of fame. But being the committed radical is only step one in this process.

            As they get older, they “sell out” and a bunch of their previous fans wonder what happened to them. The answer is nothing happened to them. While people assumed their goal was truth, in fact it was wealth and influence they were seeking. When what they thought was likely to lead them to that wealth and influence changed, they changed their behavior accordingly – i.e. they act entirely consistently, once you’ve understood their motives. I would wager Lessig is of their variety.

            Once you’ve become a powerful outsider, you are in a position to work your way into becoming an insider – and insiders are more powerful than outsiders by definition, so that’s always the goal. Now, our egotistic individual is in the perfect position to garner fame and respect: they’ve got their street cred from their radical days, along with appearing responsible and pragmatic due to their mingling with the powers-that-be. But from the beginning, even when they were preaching against the PTB, their goal was always to become one of their number.

            People who are genuinely concerned with the truth rarely if ever garner wide-spread celebrity. They will, quite often, be highly regarded in their particular communities, but they’ll rarely rise to national fame since that’s not something they are putting effort into. Meanwhile, the people who want nothing beyond fame, and will happily use truth as a tool to accomplish that goal – along with untruth and anything else that seems efficacious – enjoy a competitive advantage and therefore are the ones that “rise to the top” and achieve national noteriety. Robert Reich and Barack Obama are typical of the latter type, while Yves, Lambert, Jerry-Lynn, Outis, et al are exemplars of the former.

            1. Bugs Bunny

              You’ve described just about every NGO big wig I’ve ever dealt with. Sycophants and disillusioned troops following them wherever.

              1. diptherio

                Yeah, it seems to be a fairly widespread pattern. The psychology is more complex and individualized than I’ve made out here, though. The crazy thing is that a lot of people who fit this description seem to actually convince themselves that whatever is good for them must also necessarily be the righteous thing to do.

                I thought the depiction of Carcetti, the up-and-coming politician in The Wire, did a good job of showing this dynamic. A guy starts out wanting to do good things, and quickly convinces himself that he’ll be able to do even more good things if he had more power, and so justifies to himself anything he has to do to get more power.

          4. jfreon

            I know Lawrence Lessig seems to mean well, and I agree 100% with diptherio.

            My first realization of what a tool he was when he argued Eldred vs Ashcroft against the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act and lost, thereby cementing the outrageous copyright terms (retroactively).

            He refused to bring up the economic argument until afterwards.

            I had a bumper sticker with a picture of Mickey and the line “Free the Mouse”.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        It’s a political campaign fer gosh’s sake. Her whole crew is constantly offended that anyone opposed her.

        Imagine how she would have ‘governed.’ I keep picturing her no-fly-zone leading to nuclear brinksmanship, and as the shooting escalated and the horizon glowed red, the the complete focus of her administration would be all about the dog ate my homework and it’s not my fault.

        1. jsn

          You mean the No Fly over the Red states? I guess the blue states could commute through Canadian or Mexican air space.

        2. lyman alpha blob

          Her whole crew is constantly offended that anyone opposed her.

          And one of those who opposed her highness in this same 2016 presidential election was none other than Lawrence Lessig.

          So clearly Lessig should be flagellating himself in his paean to sHillary, but why mess with such a good pre-existing narrative? Much easier to blame it all on the Russkies.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            As mentioned earlier, when one communicates, one should allow for others to communicate back, agreeing or disagreeing, in whatever form of communication.

      2. Sid Finster

        Russia is such a convenient scapegoat that if it did not exist, the Establishment would have to invent it.

        In this way, Russia plays precisely the same role as Emmanuel Goldstein did in 1984.

    3. justanotherprogressive

      I’m thinking there must be a lot of “background” to this story. This just doesn’t sound like Lessig I’ve known – the man who supported net neutrality, the man who helped build Creative Commons, the man who supported finance reform, the man who was openly critical of Hillary……..

      Lessig has always had a bent towards libertarianism so to see him come out in support of Hillary is just ……weird……..Perhaps he was getting pressured from his many tech friends?

    4. Foppe

      Since Lessig describes himself as an “activist”, I was wondering if Lessig and Chomsky could exchange ages. Would be good for the country.

    5. Louis Fyne

      The conclusion is classic: “If we fixed democracy first, we might create a world in which the wisdom of the wonks could be heard again.”

      Yes, please give us 8 years of more Clinton-Rubin-Albright-Summers wonks!

          1. NYPaul

            “……the never-ending attack on her integrity by Sanders…”

            Was Lessig alive during the Ted Kennedy cremation of Jimmy Carter in their Primary?

    6. Vatch

      There’s a lot of strange stuff in the Lessig article, but this passage seems perfectly correct to me:

      This fact — that Americans desperately wanted reform — is the single most denied fact of DC insiders in both the Republican and Democratic parties. Yet right in the middle of the 2016 campaign, the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland found Americans (both Democrats and Republicans) more dissatisfied with their government than at any time in polling history. (pdf) Overwhelmingly, whether Democrat or Republican, Americans believe their government does not represent them. Overwhelmingly, whether Democrat or Republican, they believe it represents special interests rather than the general public. Overwhelmingly, they believed their “representative democracy” was corrupt because it did not “represent” — at least them. And yet the campaign did nothing fundamental to address this fundamental fact about us.

      As I watched the campaign, this fact convinced me that she didn’t care about reform — really.

      He immediately follows with this strangeness about Bernie Sanders:

      Even though her platform on this issue was the most progressive of any major candidate, including Sanders, the fact that she could never make it central to her message convinced me she either didn’t see it or didn’t care about it.

      Hillary’s platform was the most progressive of any major candidate? Really? I don’t think so. Lessig slides back to the truth when he acknowledges that progressiveness was never central to her message.

      1. jrs

        We’re not supposed to remember anything like the fact that when Dem party planks were fought for, such as they are, it was the Sander’s wing pushing progressive policy and the Clinton wing pushing against it. But even if her platform was progressive, people trusted Sander’s in a way they didn’t trust her, because of his history in politics. People can after all run on anything (witness Trump) but at a certain point trust that a candidate will actually follow through (even if not to the degree one might want) is worth a lot more than any unenforcable platform.

        1. katz

          In fairness, Lessig is making the case not that the Clinton platform was the most progressive writ large, but the most progressive “on this issue,” in reference specifically to “reform.”

          Oddly, for a professor of law, or not, he doesn’t define “reform.”

          Regardless it’s a bummer.

  2. BoycottAmazon

    Airbus Corruption Scandal Link – Source is Speigel Online (Der Speigel) and not the BBC. It would be rich in irony for the BBC to report on corruption at the top….

    Our Free Press / Money Laundry in UK

    Real Media interviews HSBC whistleblower Nicholas Wilson about the UK’s newly appointed International Trade Minister Rona Fairhead and her controversial past as BBC Trust chair and HSBC director during the time when HSBC was laundry service for drug and terrorist funding.

    Her Husband was head of Grenfeld Refurbishment which lead to fire becoming disaster.


    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      I remember her from my years at HSBC, 1999 – 2006. She was always referred / wanted to be referred to as RA, just like AJ Ayer, RA Butler, JWHT Douglas, PBH May et al.

      At a Commons hearing a couple of years ago, the chairwoman of the public accounts committee said that Fairhead, then at the BBC, could not be trusted with public money and should be fired. In better days, Fairhead would not have got anywhere near the BBC or a ministerial post.

  3. John A

    So basically, if Lessig’s premise is correct, (What Happened review above) the huge dissatisfaction American voters feel about politicians and the political system and wanting change, is all due to brainwashing by Russians???

      1. Arizona Slim

        Which reminds me: I need to nail down that Russian alphabet so I can start having conversations with …

        … my Russian friends.

        Yes, there are Russians living here in Tucson.

          1. Huey Long


            Russians eat pelmeni and vareniki; Poles eat pierogi.

            MLTPB, your error is excused. We can’t all live in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn or the Russian Quarter of Tuscon like myself and Arizona Slim ;-).

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I should have known when I read, in one article, ‘Russian’ pierogies.

              That it was in quotation was a tip off.

  4. Buck Eschaton

    I can’t help thinking of Clinton as the Death Star and the “Russians” as some rag-tag band blowing the whole thing up with one little, perfectly aimed shot.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Republicans vote for vile candidates all the time. Trump isn’t new. He did marginally better than Romney, and evangelicals liked Trump more than Romney. McCain-Palin had 59 million votes without super duper FB targeting.

      The Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party have done everything they can to stomp on voter activism. When Democratic activists have to waste time fighting against the Democrats on every issue, GOTV work isnt being done. Hillary isn’t an unknown candidate either. She’s dominated the national narrative for 25 years. The story of the election was still low turnout, reverting to Kerry-Gore levels. Facebook had jack to do with the failures of Clinton Inc, who amazingly always have an excuse for their failures.

    2. Yves Smith

      Something like 12% of Sanders voters voted for Trump. One of my brothers, who voted for Trump as a fuck you to the Dems would have voted for Sanders. Not scientific, but some readers who work with blue collar young workers saw the same pattern: they were heavily Sanders supporters and saw clearly that Hillary had nothing to offer them, and held them in contempt. Trump at least acted like he was interested even if it was all hot air, or at best one of his many contradictory impulses. Tell me how you blame the Russkies on that.

      1. David Carl Grimes

        When Obama won because he knew how to harness social media like Facebook, it was all good. He was a genius to the Democrats. To the Republicans, he was a Kenyan Manchurian candidate. When Trump won, I didn’t see any establishment Republicans praise his ability to harness social media. To the Democrats, he was Putin’s puppet.

        When are we ever going to see the end of this Russian story? Nine months in Trump’s first term, there is still no concrete evidence of real Russian interference. My guess is that it will take two years. After all, how long did it take for the Kenyan conspiracy to die. Meanwhile, Trump’s digital media officer is already laying the groundwork for Trump’s 2020 campaign.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Obama didn’t win because he Facebooked. He won because people were actually on the ground organizing for the Democrats since 2005, and in the caucus states, Obama organizers and volunteers made sure that kind of young people who will vote in primaries but not caucus actually caucused.

          Democrat turnout was only up over the Kerry numbers in places where Democrats had on the ground organizing. If it was Myspace, there wouldn’t be that kind of direct correlation. It would be random.

          Social media will help for small races where its harder to reach people or alert them to the date of the election, but everyone knows about the Presidential election. Its everywhere when it happens. The issue is reaching out to people to make sure they know their voting rights and have their data collected. Its people standing in 90 degree heat registering voters at Wal Marts. The Dems had plenty of money and algorithms, but in their losses, they didn’t have people out working for them because no one wanted to.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Obama won because he wasn’t Bush and it was the Democrats’ turn. Bush spent 8 years making sure a Democrat would win; then Obama returned the favor, and Trump is repeating the policy, in spades. Other factors may have helped, but I consider that speculation.

      2. Enquiring Mind

        Some voted for Trump as a big FU to DC, the Acela Corridor, big media, you name it, with a reasonable expectation of introspection and corrective action. Not the best rationale but voters have many impulses.

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          And those people who refused to vote for HRC and threw their vote to the other side are attacked on a daily basis as being traitors who put the [insert “clever” scatalogical appellation for Trump here] in the White House.

          What’s really scary, though, is there appears to be a growing contingent of the “she won the popular vote” crowd who are gangbusters about gutting the Constitution. Like repealing the 2nd Amendment. And finding a way to re-do the election once Trump/Pence have been thrown out for election fraud. What’s ironic is one of them told me they support all the “good” amendments, like the 13th. You know—the one that allows convicts to be slaves.

          1. Oregoncharles

            The Electoral College is a serious botch and a blot on our “democracy.” It’s a wonder it hasn’t caused more trouble than it has. It isn’t the only botch, either; after all, our Constitution was alphaware – the first one.

            That said, Trump won under the existing rules; if Hillary didn’t understand them, she deserved to lose, as well as for other reasons. Trying to overthrow an election by changing the rules after the fact is deeply anti-democratic, as well as futile.

            And tempting as a Constitutional Convention is, everything depends on who the delegates are. With the major parties controlling that process, we could expect further crapification.

            1. Elizabeth Burton

              I’m one of those diehards who finds the idea we should dump the electoral college a little nerve-wracking. It was established for a compelling reason, and that reason still holds, IMHO. For me, the problem isn’t the electoral college but that the way to distribute the electors was left to the states; and those states that wanted to load the scale opted to have ALL their electors’ votes go to the winner.

              I would prefer to keep the EC but get the rules changed so that electoral votes are distributed in each state based on the percentage of the total each candidate gets. It wouldn’t make much difference in the case of a landslide, but at least we wouldn’t have to listen to the “won the popular vote” complaining for years after the event.

              1. Oregoncharles

                You’d also need to eliminate the Senatorial votes on the E C; they’re the reason it can be so different from the popular vote. IMHO, it doesn’t make sense to have acres vote.

                In general, if you’re going to call it a democracy, the person who gets the most votes should get the job – no matter how horrid she is.

                I’d like to see much wider changes than that, including preference voting, which eliminates the spoiler effect, and proportional representation; in general, breaking the duopoly. We know perfectly well what it means to have only 2 competitors in a commercial market; why do we think it’s a good thing in politics?

      3. JohnnyGL

        Please do recall the disputed approached to strategy between the Clinton campaign for prez and the DCCC preference.

        DCCC wanted to paint Trump as the logical conclusion of Republican crazypants tendencies and fit him right into that frame of increasing craziness. Clinton’s team said ‘no, no, no….be nice to Republicans. We want those wealthy white suburban voters. Trump is exceptional and unusual and unfit and represents a big break with the venerable Republican tradition.’ Obama himself welcomed Republican defectors from “the party of Lincoln” in his convention speech.

        Clinton’s campaign played RIGHT INTO Trump’s anti-establishment credibility.

        All those Republican voters they desperately wanted to flip were in NY and CA and among the DC elites. The overwhelming majority of the Republican base held firm.

        How did the Clinton camp burn through $2bn and not figure this out?

        1. jsn

          It takes really smart people to avoid figuring some things out!

          Some times real genius is required to avoid facing the obvious.

      4. dcblogger

        HRC lost via voter suppression, enough African Americans were turned away from the polls because they did not have required ID for her to have won the election. Across PA and the Great Lakes millions of African Americans were turend away from the polls. It sickens me that Hillary supporters almost never mention this. Why isn’t Greg Palast invited to speak to Democratic committees across the country?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Why isn’t Greg Palast invited to speak to Democratic committees across the country?

          Because the Democrats don’t really want to expand the electorate; that’s why I don’t accept the “voter suppression” narrative at all; it’s as much a “Democratic malfeasance” story, because where were they went the suppression was being done? The rot goes all the way back to the Florida felon’s list in 2000!

          Also, if the California primary does move to March (presumably as a way of rigging the election for Harris) that puts a severe dent in the Southern firewall. So much for all that loyalty…

        2. Oregoncharles

          You’re right, there was a big drop in black turnout between Obama and Clinton – for obvious reasons. I haven’t dared bring it up anywhere else, but, awkwardly, it’s an obvious explanation for her loss.

        3. bronco

          Or maybe they just didn’t vote for Hillary because she’s a horrible monster. Maybe millions of black voters “suppressed ” themselves

        1. Wukchumni

          I cast my lot with Wink Martindale, my reasoning being that if we deserve a game show host leading the country, why not get a good one?

        2. Oregoncharles

          Well, yes. It’s too bad there weren’t more people who saw it that way, though she did get about 3 times as many votes as against Obama.

      5. Lambert Strether Post author

        > One of my brothers, who voted for Trump as a fuck you to the Dems would have voted for Sanders

        The same at my Bangor meetup — Trump won the Second District, let us recall.

        1. scoff

          I wonder how many Trump votes were the result a conscious decision to speed up the process of dissolution. If the current political order is teetering on a precipice, which is an accurate assessment I would argue, some people might think it’s just better to give it a big push and get it over with. It’s not a good risk IMHO and not to be taken lightly.

          1. bronco

            Thats why I voted for Trump . The Elites gave us a choice between two A-holes , they can hardly complain we voted for one of them.

      6. Anonymous

        The Russkies are the cover story for why deep state spied on the Trump campaign. It’s the only excuse they have.

        1. Yves Smith

          I never said otherwise. That was the excuse for the FISA warrant. I’m saying that rapid taking up of the Russia-related attacks on Trump post election wasn’t due to trying to cover that up. The FISA warrants made it all hunky dory from a legal perspective. There were much bigger reasons.

    3. cocomaan

      There’s no one reason for 60 some million votes for any particular candidate. Anyone who says so is selling something.

      Given the rural areas voting for Trump, I actually doubt facebook had so much to do with it. The electoral college structure was much more responsible than facebook.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Iraq. To date, one Democrat who voted for Iraq has gone on to win a statewide office other than the one they already held, Rob Blagojevich in 2002 when he was elected governor of Illinois. Kerry and Clinton didn’t become President. Prominent hawks have been challenged.

        When we factor in the cost of the war in real terms, it disproportionately affects lower and working class people who should be the Democratic targets. Hillary’s record wasn’t a secret. It was well known. Many of her supporters didn’t want to hear about it or didn’t care, but in 2006, 9 out of 10 Democrats strongly opposed the Iraq War. Lincoln said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” An Iraq War supporter who didn’t read the intelligence can’t expect to win over a base which opposes the candidates actual “experience.”

        1. Eureka Springs

          I’m sorry NTG but this “po folk should be Dem targets” meme needs to stop. It has been the opposite for at least 40 years. At the very least since the DLC’s inception.

          And all y’all continuously (as do the Dems) the elephant in the proverbial room. The super plurality who refuse to vote for either D or R’s. Goddess bless them! D’s or R’s would rather fight for that tiny middle rather than pick up so much as five percent of the super plurality… because that would demand, you know, ‘concrete’ representation.

    4. JohnnyGL

      Pro tip: Facebook ads don’t persuade anyone to do anything they didn’t already want to do.

      You’ve got the horse and carriage backwards. Here’s a personal example. I bought plants online. Now I see lots of plant advertisements because of tracking. Ads didn’t persuade me. I made the decision to buy plants first, then the ads followed.

      Facebook ads don’t lead, they probably follow the swing voters who were already likely to swing towards Trump.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Exactly. The ads I see following me around are the same – trying to get me to buy more of something that I’ve already indicated I might be interested in through some click or another. These targeters have no idea why I clicked on anything however – maybe I actually like the subject, maybe I hate it but want to see what it’s about, maybe I accidentally clicked on some POS ad that popped up on my screen while I was trying to click a link to something else.

        My wife’s organization hired a company to do some internet ads for them and then regaled her with the very high click-through rate they’d noticed. Turns out they ran popup type ads, not ones already existing on the web page. I told her she ought to find out how many people accidentally clicked on the ad and whether annoying ads blocking what they were trying to read make a person more or less likely to support the subject of said ads before her organization shoveled any more money to these charlatans.

        1. Chris

          A couple of years ago I booked a hotel room in Paris. I then got six weeks of ‘targeted’ ads offering me hotel rooms in Paris.
          Very effective at training me in ‘ad blindness’. After a while you just don’t see them…

          1. Wukchumni

            Last Paris hotel I stayed in, they gave me a room that went up and down all the time, with strangers coming in and out, without even knocking.

  5. Emorej a Hong Kong

    Lessig, who was famed for the quality of his thinking in legal scholarship, continues to act like an eccentric naif in politics.

    Lessig’s linked article has several stylistic hiccups which hint that it is an intern’s cut and paste product which Lessig may have not taken the time to carefully review. But more importantly, the article’s main points show that Lessig’s basic approach to politics lacks breadth, resulting in serial cherry-picking exercises like this one.

    1. a different chris

      Doesn’t that make you wonder about the quality of his legal scholarship? It’s not like, say, electronics, where if you can’t make something that works it is pretty obvious from the smoke.

      In this case, the smoke may well be the product.

    2. Kokuanani

      This is all I had to read of Lessig’s review of Hillary’s book. Saved me from reading the rest of the thing.

      “Hillary Clinton’s book, What Happened, is one of the few books in America that you must read if you’re to understand just how dire politics in America has become. It is a brilliant book and a tragically beautiful story.”

        1. Wukchumni

          Well, having a latter day Germanicus will make him much more memorable than one of our vanilla emperors, er presidents.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Speaking of wealth and ruling, Crassus was the wealthiest man in Roman history (though it says ‘excepting Augustus Caesar’ in Wikipedia).

            Perhaps it will be a case of ‘I found DC a city of marble, but left it a megalopolis of gold.’

            1. Wukchumni

              Germanicus is remembered for building grandiose buildings including luxurious dwellings for himself, and my favorite endeavor of his, the Nemi Ships.

              “The Nemi Ships were two ships, one ship larger than the other, built by the Roman emperor Caligula in the 1st century AD at Lake Nemi. Although the purpose of the ships is only speculated upon, the larger ship was essentially an elaborate floating palace, which contained quantities of marble, mosaic floors, heating and plumbing and amenities such as baths. Both ships featured technology thought to have been developed historically much later.”


              1. Vatch

                I think Caligula is mostly remembered for being bat guano crazy. “Germanicus” was part of his name “Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus”, but I usually associate that word with Caligula’s father.

                1. polecat

                  Caligula was crazy like a fox .. er .. wolf, stuttering
                  And twitching aside, according to Graves.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          There is a Zen story from the movie, Charlie Wilson’s War, about what is usually called ‘blessing in disguise’ in the west.

          What you think is good now may be bad for you later.

          And what you think is bad now may turn out to be a blessing in the future.

  6. Kevin

    RE:The Glut of Private Jets Means ‘Insane’ Bargains for Buyers

    So excited, the old jet the wife and I buzz around in is now almost 3 years old. We need a new one with cup holders big enough to accommodate our Double Ristretto Venti Half-Soy Nonfat Decaf Organic Chocolate Brownie Iced Vanilla Double-Shot Gingerbread Frappuccino Extra Hot With Foam Whipped Cream Upside Down Double Blended coffees.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Why waste money on private jets when one can buy homes in an underwater city (there was a 1961 film about that, and in 2014, Japan released plans for them by 2030)?

    2. Wukchumni

      Ever notice how damned near every used consumer item plunges in value a few years after it’s built, except for used homes?

      Let’s say there was a car bubble along the same lines as a housing bubble, and a 2002 Chevy Suburban that sold new for $38k, is now worth $148k, with 126,367 miles…

  7. Basil Pesto

    Costa-Gavras’ Z is a true classic. Pretty interested to see how that Varoufakis project turns out.

    1. Basil Pesto

      Incidentally, I caught wind of Galbraith’s ‘Welcome to the Poisoned Chalice’ the other day and plan on buying it, but if I had to buy one book on the subject, would it be that or ‘Adults in the Room’? I’m inclined towards Galbraith’s, just because he has a bit of an outsider’s distance and insight (but probably fewer first hand observations)

        1. Oregoncharles

          Does anyone know who Athan Tolis is? he makes very large claims that are very plausible; are they true?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Adults in the Room.

        The room is a large one…as large as the world, or a country.

        One thing adults would probably do is to repeal the Patriot Act.

        But which progressive politician would put that in his/her platform?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I think the next step is to introduce a senate bill to go with the bipartisan one in the House by Pocan and Massie.

            Will one brave senator step forward? Sanders? Paul?

  8. Darius

    Democrats, they of the exploding cigar, have the perfect pied piper opponent in Alabama with Roy Moore, yet are such ninnies they’re going to abandon they’re own candidate as a lost cause, as shown by Charlie Pierce in yesterday’s Links. They adore their own lost cause red state narrative almost as much as the one about their own powerlessness because of the evil Republicans. Excuses them for not having an agenda.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Karen Handel in GA was very beatable, but Ossoff couldn’t get it done. This sort of thing keeps happening, over and over.

  9. Wukchumni

    We always breathe a sigh of relief when the first substantial rains come and put paid to the potential of wildfires, and then everything gradually greens up and before you know it, what was previously dry brush just waiting for a spark to set it off, becomes verdant and essentially fire-proof.

    It’s a maddening cycle and you do all you can to best prepare yourself in this land of little rain after May. The indians in California would set fire to the understory each and every fall and it not only reduced the risk of anything becoming out of control in the future, and brought about new growth which attracted deer & other wildlife and allowed easy access to them from a hunting standpoint.

    I was just looking at the before and after photos of neighborhoods in the wine country, and the fire didn’t spare much, my condolences to those that lost their homes.

    1. MtnLife

      What’s maddening is people building homes in an area that needs to burn lightly once every seven years (and heavily 1-3 times per century) to remain ecologically viable. Trying to limit the fires just ends up stockpiling fuel so as to ensure a far more serious burn when it finally does catch. Nature isn’t really fond of human attempts at control.

      1. Wukchumni

        Imagine if we had deployed our veterans into these areas and manually removed and burnt off the excess?

        There would be no shortage of work for them and they’re all physically fit, which would be a must.

        This is what happened here in Sequoia NP instead, a token effort to employ veterans that amounted to nothing really, with zero follow up. A one-time gig. And the pay for moving tons of rock by hand?

        A princely $8 an hour.

        “SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — On the hillside above Evelyn Lake, deep in the southern Sierra Nevada, it was surprisingly easy to tell time: precisely at noon, a loud whoop echoed amid the black-flecked granite and dust, signaling lunch hour for the 17-person crew repairing the trail to the lake.

        “How much rock do you think we moved today?” Gregory Snyder asked his work partner, James Morin, over the metallic clang of rakes, shovels, mallets and pickaxes.

        “About five tons,” Mr. Morin guessed. Not bad for a morning’s work building wilderness paths with tools little different from the ones the Egyptians used to build the pyramids. Not bad at all.

        Fourteen miles from the nearest road and thousands of miles from the areas of conflict and tension where the two men served in the Army, Mr. Snyder (a former air traffic controller in Iraq) and Mr. Morin (a tank corpsman on the Korean Peninsula) and five other former military men are breaking a trail, figuratively and literally. They are part of a pilot program run by the California Conservation Corps, which gives veterans a chance to learn skills and perhaps pursue careers preserving public lands.

        The two Army veterans along with two Navy veterans, three Marines, seven civilians and three supervisors, are part of a backcountry crew shoring up and clearing debris from paths that transport hikers from a world of Facebook into a more natural life, where encounters with sharp-smelling bear clover or the shrub’s namesake are possible.

        The veterans benefit from having work (albeit at $8 an hour) and from being in a familiar situation: part of a small group in a far-off location with a little-understood job to do.”

    2. MichaelSF

      San Francisco has been getting a light sprinkle of ash and lots of smoky air the past two days, which is kind of surprising considering how far north the fires are and that we’ve not been having winds from the north (actually, not much wind at all here at the beach).

    3. Oregoncharles

      Not sure this is on topic, but I have a professional suggestion for those who live in fire country:

      Mount irrigation sprinklers on the edges of your roof, the kind that lay down a large circle. Have them PERMANENTLY connected, by ordinary hoses, to your water supply. That way, when there is fire nearby you can just turn them on, wetting down the roof and the immediate surroundings of the house. If you’re on a well, you need to also secure the well and probably the power supply to it.

      The usual measures to keep flammables, including the wrong kind of plants, away from the house and outbuildings are also necessary.

      The sprinklers might not save you in a really intense fire, but they would in a typical brush fire.

      The original Permaculture books also have whole chapters on designing to deflect fire. For instance, water features and pavement should be on the upwind side, as permanent firebreaks. They also have lists of non-flammable plants.

  10. a different chris

    >At the Democrats’ Senate campaign headquarters in Washington and their local offices in the states, operatives have started compiling files of the GOP hopefuls’ more outrageous statements and positions, while combing through the daily news clips for hints of further themes to pursue against them.

    Sounds like not a single person is working on the Democrat’s “statements and positions”. What a surprise.

    1. cocomaan

      Trump, a massive buffoon who says racist, sexist things all the time, including during televised debates, wins the highest office in the land. The Democrats react by doubling down on people who might get offended.

      Unfortunately, nothing the D’s do surprises me anymore.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If ‘all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,’ then, one is as guilty doing nothing.

        And when you look at racism and sexism today, you have to ask, at least, ‘Are all those leaders voted to fight racism and sexism guilty?’

        ‘What have they done?’

        You can also ask of leaders in general and of all of us.

        But at the very least, protesting racial injustice is protesting Hillary, her failures, her doing nothing, or her not doing enough, for being guilty twice…once for pretending to fight racism, and again for doing nothing or not doing enough.

        The rest of us, we are guilty once. We’re all racists in someway.

    2. marym

      The Democrats continue to need Republicans to be as bad as possible, no matter how much elevating those “outrageous statements and positions” contributes toward poisoning our politics.

      They spent over $1 million during the 2012 Akin primary campaign, referenced in the Politico post, opposing his more centrist opponent.

      As Lambert notes, their continuing the strategy brought us Trump. Oh wait, that was PutinRussia!!1!

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        From the linked CounterPunch article on the proposed R tax plan, Michael Hudson on the political consequences:

        What this is really doing politically though, is driving a stake through the heart of the Democratic party. The Democrats are so sure that the kerfuffle over this tax plan is going to backfire against the Republicans that the knives are out. They’re fighting like they’ve never fought before against the supporters of Bernie Sanders, against Elizabeth Warren. The Wall Street/Hillary, wing of the Democratic party says, “Now we’re going to win the election. We don’t need Bernie supporters. We don’t need the working class. We can form an even more right-wing party than Hillary had and what her program was.”

        1. John k

          What else can they do? Do you think livable home’s in acceptable areas, private schools, and keeping up with other elites is cheap?
          Gotta keep the trough full or all the beautiful life disappears in a heartbeat.
          Advocating any real concrete benefit for the unwashed is a non starter, there’s billions of reasons the masters can’t accept any of that bs.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Obviously, the Bernie supporters and the bulk of the Democratic party are not going to go along with the heads of the national committee. It’s going to probably split the Democratic party, because the way in which politicians are opposing the tax plan is on the ground that it’s going to vastly increase the budget deficit if it passes. Just like the Reagan and Bush tax cuts quadrupled the national debt. So the Democrats who are arguing against the Trump plan are budget hawks. They’re saying, “A deficit is bad.”

          Now, as you know from the people you have on this program, like my colleague Bill Black and the Modern Monetary Theorists, were all in favor of having the government run a budget deficit if it pumps money into the economy, if it leads to more investment, if it employs more people. But in this case the deficit isn’t going to pump money into the “real” economy. It’s only going to pump money into Wall Street, and the money is going to be used just to push up stock prices, push up bond prices, and push up real estate prices and trophies for the rich. It’s the opposite of the kind of deficit that we’ve been urging all along.

          So, you’re going to have a lot of junk economic theories on the Democratic side opposing the junk economic theories on the Republican side. They’re claiming that this is trickle-down economics and supply-side economics, but the people who originally introduced supply-side economics under Reagan, people like Paul Craig Roberts, have denounced the Trump plan, saying, that this is a travesty of supply-side economics, because all it does is supply more money to the richest 1%. It supplies more money to Wall Street, not to the economy at large. That’s what really should be brought out.

          1. It seems that Prof Hudson is say that not all deficits are good.

          The trick is to make sure the government is run by good people.

          But we can’t always guarantee that.

          2. Is he or Mr. Roberts also saying that Reaganomics, being superior than the Trump plan, was good in that it generated a lot of deficits, and unlike Trump’s, didn’t all go to the 1%?

      1. allan

        Hah .. like minds. Yes, he is. And apparently non-Hispanic.
        I had put that in a comment in this afternoon’s WC but it hasn’t appeared yet.

  11. The Rev Kev

    Re: Here’s Why So Many Women Knew The Rumors About Harvey Weinstein
    This is really a disgusting story. If he had simply wanted sex there must have been any number of ambitious actresses who would have gone for the deal. If not, there must be any number of high-class knocking shops in and around Hollywood but it seems that it was all about having power over another person. You know, as in slavery. Or sexual harassment.
    What if find really disturbing is something that I read from the spy world. They say that if catch a really big spy or one flees, then you can guarantee that there is another big one that is still embedded that you haven’t found yet. I refuse to believe that a guy like him could operate in a vacuum. Remember Jimmy Savile? Turns out he had a mate in Rolf Harris. Who would have thought. Perhaps what they need is a hotline to the FBI that Hollywood women could give solid leads to others like him. They knew all about Weinstein. Assuming that people like him don’t have the political cover that Jimmy Savile had in his lifetime that is.

    1. Eclair

      Trust me, Rev, these guys do not operate in a vacuum. As a single (divorced, raising two children) professional woman, I was constantly harassed, propositioned and patted. The sophistication and subtlety varied according to the workplace, but it was everywhere and at every level, from Deans to colleagues. Try wrapping up a presentation, only to have your co-presenter smirk and suggest going someplace more private.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A not-a-vacuum harem beckons more predators from around the country, from around the world to Hollywood.

        To know you can have what many Americans and idol-worshipers everywhere wish they could have, even just for a brief second to shake the demigods’ or demigoddess’s hands, a glimpse of their mansions on a celebrity homes bus tour, or get an autograph, or more, is to know you have America, the West or whatever Hollywood projects to represent.

        1. Wukchumni

          When I lived in the City of Angles and visitors from overseas came for a spell, they often wanted to see Hollywood, and the appeal of driving by an 18 foot high walled compound where some actor or actress lived, was about as good as it got. I always felt embarrassed that there was no there, there.

      1. KidPsych

        Hollywood is small, and having been an assistant in a production company in my wayward youth, I can say with some certainty that everyone knew everything about Harvey. One must remember that an assistant is on every call an agent places, and assistants congregate at bars, where the currency becomes information, the more salacious the better. I’m pretty sure I knew about affairs before stars’ wives did. I recall one actor calling and asking where he could buy cocaine without having ever talked to me before.

        Another aspect of Hollywood that has to be experienced to be fully appreciated is the immense desperation to succeed due to the lack of chairs at the table. Lots of (often clever) driven people are all after a tiny set of jobs and assignments. Courtesy and ethics fly out the window in such situations.

        Lastly, the above situation means that bullies are accepted and welcomed, because frankly, who else could succeed in such an atmosphere? I don’t want to overstate this. There are lovely, generous, talented people in Hollywood, but it certainly pays to be like Harvey. Threaten, bully, coerce, whatever it takes. His behavior with women is an extension of how he treated everyone in every situation.

    2. Enquiring Mind

      Another spy world theme is blackmail, such as may be employed after a honey pot interlude or two. When people just won’t see things your way, then why not encourage them with a trick or two. That has worked to a degree since time immemorial.

      The movie business (among others) is at times described in Star Wars-like terms of wretched hive of scum and villainy or similar. There is no limit on the dysfunctions and enterprising players seem unlikely to stop at just one method (sexual harassment) or two (someone else, a rival, a competitor, adds in honey pots) or other options to leverage a position aimed at short term or long term goal attainment.

    3. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Kev.

      This case reminds me of what some French women from the leading Parisian universities, at the time making their way in the City in the early and mid-noughties, were saying about a politician and academic. In return for references, private tutoring or reviewing their dissertations, they were expected to sleep with him, the sort of thing that Éclair describes. Said politician was a libertine and warned about his conduct in anglo-saxon culture by the head of state when he was appointed to head a Bretton Woods institution, but, like his predecessor, he did not care for such niceties.

    4. Colonel Smithers

      Many thanks, Kev.

      I imagine that with your English, rather than American expressions, and reference to Savile, you are writing from the UK. It has long been alleged / suspected that the Lolita Express, which had been used by Weinstein CBE, had carried British passengers.

    5. Katniss Everdeen

      Not everyone knew, Rev.

      Intrepid social justice warrior meryl streep was, according to her belated statement, blissfully and profitably unaware, as she has helpfully “clarified.”

      One thing can be clarified. Not everybody knew. Harvey supported the work fiercely, was exasperating but respectful with me in our working relationship, and with many others with whom he worked professionally. I didn’t know about these other offenses: I did not know about his financial settlements with actresses and colleagues; I did not know about his having meetings in his hotel room, his bathroom, or other inappropriate, coercive acts. And if everybody knew, I don’t believe that all the investigative reporters in the entertainment and the hard news media would have neglected for decades to write about it.

      Poor meryl. She probably needs to get out more. Or get some girlfriends who would advise her to buddy up for business meetings with skanky power players.

      1. Pat

        If Meryl could say that with a sad straight face to a room full of other actresses, it might be the greatest performance of her career. Mind you, I’m pretty damn sure she would not make it out of said room without getting an earful of reality laced with vitriol.

        Pretty much anyone in the business, even in a minor role on the fringes, is going to note how big a pile of manure that is. Not even adding the admission “but then I am both stupid AND massively self-involved so what would I know” to the end would change that.

  12. Wukchumni

    South Korea developing graphite ‘blackout bombs’ to paralyse North’s electrical grid The Telegraph

    “Graphite bombs worked well against targets in Iraq, knocking out around 85 percent of the electrical supply across the country. NATO used similar weapons against targets in Serbia in May 1999, damaging around 70 percent of the country’s electrical supply.”

    That’s impressive, kind of like a neutron bomb that leaves the rest of the infrastructure intact, but kills kilowatts.

    But why would SK need to ‘develop’ proven existing technology?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      As you say, this are a simple and proven military technology, no need for SK to reinvent the wheel. The British used a similar principle in WWII using cables running from balloons released to fly over Europe – the trailing cable was intended to short any overhead line it ran over. They successfully destroyed a few transformer stations using these balloons

      I assume the story is simply propoganda – intended to ratchet up the pressure on the North, while assuring South Koreans that they won’t be trying to kill too many people.

      The irony of course is that North Korea is probably the least vulnerable country in the world to bombs like that, thanks to the simplicity and crudity of its power system and its lack of reliance on sophisticated electronics. And they would have a simple response – a nuclear electromagnetic pulse detonation over SK or Japan.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I would guess the presumed weakness of the North Korean grid means that some sort of generator at any important facility would be essential.

          A lot of their technology is decades old Soviet design. The Soviets often deliberately used very outdated tech (such as vacuum tube radars) because they considered them more resistent to electromagnetic attacks.

      1. HotFlash

        I assume the story is simply propoganda – intended to ratchet up the pressure on the North, while assuring South Koreans that they won’t be trying to kill too many people.

        Thank you P’Kun, I think you have got the ‘ding’ on this.

    2. carycat

      Why are we not invading SK for developing weapons of mass destruction? Imagine the chaos in any American city if even 50 percent of the power grid is down … no traffic lights, hospitals having to go to generators, dialysis clinics, folks at home with electrically powered medical devices. The War on Terror against the Axis of Evil should be more accurately labeled as the War by Terrorist by the Evil but the MSM and seriously have all moved on to new speak.

  13. a different chris

    Is Pierre Omidyar really this dense? Has he ever been outside?

    1. Echo chambers, polarization and hyper-partisanship

    The internet invented this? Take a trip to a freaking Steeler’s (sorry, “Stillers”) bar? You are rich but your life is sad, methinks.

    2. Spread of false or misleading information

    Yeah, like the echo chamber, this never happened before the internets. That “strange fruit” must have done, well, something to wind up on those trees, since there was no social media to make up stuff about them. Right?

    3. Conflation of popularity with legitimacy

    I… I can’t even. Well f’ democracy, then. Must be nice to live your life inside your own head. Hey, how about writing something about “Conflation of massive stock wealth with legitimate knowledge of the world”. I would read about that.

    4. Political manipulation

    Yellow newspapers? Guess you missed that class.

    5. Manipulation, micro-targeting and behavior change

    “Not all of these messages look like ads or are visible to anyone outside the target population” Because before this never happened? Again, let me introduce you to early 20th century racism. Lost a whole town or two and nobody knew.

    6. Intolerance, exclusion and hate speech

    Again, apparently something else brand new with the Internet.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      As I’ve mentioned before, my mind tends to see trends that can lead to people sending me foil hats. However, the appearance of two articles from “respected sources” attacking the internet as a source of information in the space of one week strikes me as less than coincidental. Remember the earlier piece about our tech making us “stupid” and advising us we need to “break away”?

      Does this bother anyone else?

    2. pricklyone

      Here’s another quote from a linked story:
      ” Edelman, a professor at Harvard Business School, agrees, arguing Facebook could cut out a lot of this work by giving “green lights” to big brands that buy a lot of ad space, leaving more time to scrutinise suspicious accounts. “Who are these strange little guys who came from nowhere, targeting battleground states with politically sensitive advertisements?” he asks.”

      Omidyar is just like this guy, only the “big brand” guys get to set the narrative.

  14. Craig H.

    The Moldbug Variations

    I read this yesterday and saw it much-discussed on another board. The story can be summarized in one short sentence: the author told us all a year ago that Thiel and Moldbug were friends. You might say so what? (I said so what?)

    But I did find this out: some people say that Moldbug calling himself a Jacobite is a joke, not intended to be taken seriously. If true, this is news to me. I had him in my mental index card file as that weirdo who calls himself a Jacobite.

    If you do not know who Moldbug is, or why you might care, let’s just say you see some really weird stuff when you are chained to a workstation, busy doing work less than eight hours a day, and you have internet access. Moldbug may be a weirdo but it is safe for work. Also he is on some sort of neo-reactionary-alt-right-dark-enlightenment map that I haven’t seen updated lately. If it got properly updated tomorrow he might well be left off altogether.

  15. HotFlash

    And suspicious cases have begun popping up around the world, including in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, China, Tunisia, Kazakhstan and Mali.

    Not to be left out, Canada had a little Airbus scandal ourselves. Again, right to the top, our then Prime Minister Mulroney.

    1. JEHR

      Yes, indeed, I remember our very own Canadian Airbus scandal with the PM taking money under the table. I wonder that Airbus is still here!

    1. HotFlash

      Thank you, BoycottA, spend a good time listening (while cleaning — love podcasts). Lots of cleaning, so reg speed was fine for me. You are v right about humour, if this guy doesn’t get tenure he can always go on the stand-up circuit.

  16. Wukchumni

    I’m pleased to announce the startup of Habitcoin, a new cybercurrency whose value is based upon what you do online.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    “‘History shows that Catalan declarations of independence have ended very badly,’

    That’s more systemically oppressive than just walking out of some protest.

    1. B1whois

      It’s not a contest. All systematic oppression is bad, doesn’t have to be the worst to be legitimate. I assume you’re trying to minimize those who claimed “systemic repression” after Pence’s walking out on the black lives matter take-a-knee protest recently…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I don’t agree, not just wanting to minimize.

        I see non-verb communication going back and forth here.

        Instead of writing (say, here or anywhere) or speaking out, or inviting political leaders to discuss the situation, maybe coming up with a plan, or getting rich athletes to do something (instead of buying profession teams), they kneel, when the anthem is played before a game.

        Now, some networks, Fox for example, or ESPN, are not showing the anthem now.

        Is that even more systemic oppression? The protests are ‘censored.’

        Now, kneeling doesn’t say much in and of itself. When you kneel when the anthem is played, people don’t know if you’re protesting police brutality or the gory nature of the anthem (protesting for a new anthem?). What are you protesting (by the act itself, not the explanation on the side)?

        Though you’re not saying much, you’re saying something. If you’re saying something, you expect those hearing your (non-verbal) communication to say something back (verbally or non-verbally).

        You don’t express something (verbally or non-verbally) and not expect the listeners to not respond. That would be dictation.

        Walking out is a non-verbal response. It says I don’t agree with your mixing police brutality with replacing the current anthem (or whatnot). The whatnot is because the choice for expressing your protest confuses a lot of people. In any case, you get the back and forth, instead of the ‘only I can speak (or communicate non-verbally)’ insistence.

        And if your protest is designed to get to your message to resonate with those who agree and expose those who don’t, people walking out is a win. But if there are more people who don’t agree with you, then you don’t want that bad walking out PR displayed. It’s a setback, not oppression.

        1. a different chris

          >Instead of writing (say, here or anywhere)

          As great as NC is, I don’t think it’s worth one Kapernick kneel as far as national attention goes

          >or getting rich athletes to do something

          They did. They kneeled. Which may well be a violation of contract, a really big contract that they won’t see anywhere else. They aren’t “rich” unless they collect all their paychecks, and unlike the MLB your contract is only good is you aren’t cut.

          >Now, kneeling doesn’t say much in and of itself.

          They’ve explained why like a zillion times. Kneeling gets the attention, then you talk to the people that ask why. This is Marketing 101…

          >You don’t express something (verbally or non-verbally) and not expect the listeners to not respond.

          They WANT people to respond, to talk to them. Where did you get the idea that they don’t?

          >Walking out is a non-verbal response.

          And now we seem to be a little more on the same page. That’s what Pence did, he separated himself. People like Pence don’t talk to us commoners — but these “rich” athletes do. Quite often. And now this was well demonstrated.. it’s starting to look like an “own goal” in fact, to mix the sports and sports (football, foosball) metaphors into an untangleable mess.

          But who knows.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            You have revolutionaries and you have people painting the revolutionaries.

            The Olympic winner with a protest salute in Mexico City – that’s like the flag raising picture at Iwo Jima.

            They have their place in the whole endeavor. But they are no substitute for action. And they are done once and inspire forever. Then, it’s time for less visible work, work that will actually achieve one’s goal.

            But now, you have done it twenty, fifty or a hundred times. What defined goal have you set to transform it to something more concrete, if less visible?

            Do you want the Democratic party to issue an apology for getting all those votes but doing nothing?

            If you simply end it without achieving any public stated goal, do you look like you’re retreating?

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            By the way, one reason I don’t like abstract painting is that I feel if a painting has to be explained with words, the painter should have been a writer.

            “You see, that circle means this mystery and that line is another mystery.”

          3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            And I will say this:

            If they stop tomorrow and announce to the world they’re stopping phase I and initiating phase 2 of whatever acting plan they are going to implement, with all the PR they’ve gotten so far, and the money they can chip in now and raise in the future, that would be a huge victory.

            They could have done something like that a month ago or more, but they can still do it tomorrow.

            There is no Systemic Oppression that they can’t fund progressive candidates not in the Democratic Party to change the world. It’s a great time to unite.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I usually don’t clink ‘here’ links (and I also usually avoid youtube links).

            I am sorry.

            I like to know what websites I will be going to beforehand.

            1. HotFlash

              It’s OK, it’s “Gil Scott-Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (Full Band Version)”

              Not so scary (home of the brave, yeah…)

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I hope I understand the implication – that that was a great song, but people have to get off being bogged down with arguing over that was or was not a great song ,but have to go do the revolution thing.

            2. WobblyTelomeres

              MLTPB: Sorry. I’ll try to be a bit less terse.

              You stated, “The protests are ‘censored.’”.

              Indeed. The revolution (protests) will not be televised (censored). I’d heard that before. You might also find his song, ‘The Bottle’ to be provoking as well. Gil Scott-Heron is considered by many to be the father of several musical genres. Rap, for one. He sang because it was the best way to get people to listen to his poetry.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Yes, and the media, being masters of mis-direction, focused on Pence’s walking out, his non-verbal ‘I don’t agree,’ albeit quite strongly (though it’s a standard technique used by a lot of people…walking out, instead of overturning chairs or something physical), instead of ESPN and Fox censoring.

  18. allan

    Is Amazon getting into the pharmacy business? [Marketwatch]

    … Though Amazon itself has not confirmed a potential expansion into pharmaceuticals, the possibility has sent stocks of pharmaceutical middlemen south on more than one occasion.

    “Amazon has shown that they have mastery of the technology and innovative approaches to really transform how the marketplace delivers product,” said Linda Pissott Reig, who co-chairs the FDA section of the Pittsburgh-based law firm Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney PC.

    The move could also have wider implications for consumers. Amazon could use de-identified big data to then see if, for example, “a patient with depression is also seeking out self-help books, or particular products,” she said. “Amazon, with a giant marketplace, has a lot of ability to collect information.” …

    But part of the wide interest in an Amazon pharmacy is that the highly regulated drug business has never been particularly transparent. At best, U.S. drug pricing is complex; at worst, it’s dysfunctional. …

    The idea that this would bring transparency to drug pricing is a charming conceit which would only occur
    to a writer at a business news site.

    1. DanB

      Regarding prescription drug prices: Big Pharma will have its lobbyists et al. argue that prices are high primarily because of the cost of innovation and also due to the contradictory incentives in the market. This is BS. The other way to deal with high drug prices is to declare medications a public good and have government set prices (A command economy seems impossible now) so that Big Pharma only makes modest profits -and I mean modest. The argument should be: this market has failed, as have all attempts to use the market to deliver health care.

  19. Jim Haygood

    By one measure (stock indexes), yesterday was the 10th anniversary of Bubble II. On that date, the S&P 500 index reached a crest slightly higher than it did in the Internet bubble (Bubble I) on Mar 24, 2000. Real estate, the poster child of Bubble II, had already crested in July 2006.

    Ten years on, in a ranking focused on global financial assets, the S&P 500 index comes out on top with a 102% gain from its previous peak, despite the inconvenient interruption of a 55 percent smash from its Oct 2007 high to its March 2009 nadir. That’s amazing. Junk bonds, which are correlated with small-cap stocks, came in second with an 85% gain in the past ten years.

    Meanwhile, real estate as measured by the Case Shiller US National Home Price index has gained 9 percent since Oct 2007, exceeding its July 2006 high by about 5 percent. It’s at a new high in nominal terms, but hasn’t caught up in inflation-adjusted terms.

    As the good Dr Hussman reminds us weekly, these bubblelicious asset prices essentially guarantee a decade of flat returns from here. That’s seriously bad news for public pension plans still promoting the far-fetched fantasy that they’re going to earn a 7.5% annual return in the next decade.

    There’s no way in hell. And there’s no time to tell.
    — Ryan Adams, Black Arrow, Bleeding Heart

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If you can print money out of nothing to buy stocks, is the sky the limit?

      Yes, housing is getting unaffordably expensive in places smart people want to live, but we’re lucky to have what economists (Noble winning or not) called the Substitution Effect.

      If you can’t afford 1,000 sq ft, get a 200 sq ft box.

      If you can’t afford that, substitute with pork or living under a bridge (yes, in my backyard!)

    2. Wukchumni

      I remember seeing the writing on the wall in 2007, and telling family and friends what was coming, and soon. My mom thought i’d gone off the deep end a bit, but i’d seen similar episodes-albeit tiny versions of busts in comparison, and my Fi-dar was simply off the charts.

      As it started crumbling I felt some vindication, but I hadn’t reckoned on the powers that be, taking every desperate measure and then some, to keep the juggling act going. This quote from Richard Feynman best encapsulates how it went down:

      “Looking back at the worst times, it always seems that they were times in which there were people who believed with absolute faith and absolute dogmatism in something. And they were so serious in this matter that they insisted that the rest of the world agree with them. And then they would do things that were directly inconsistent with their own beliefs in order to maintain that what they said was true.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Did Feynman foresee the epidemic of scientist-hostages with Stockholm syndrome vis-a-vis the modeler and the model with that passage, or were there already a lot of them hostages around when he wrote that?

        I suspect the latter.

      2. VietnamVet

        “they would do things that were directly inconsistent with their own beliefs in order to maintain that what they said was true”.

        Acknowledging reality induces cognitive dissonance that is mind blowing.

        Russia aggression, the justification for my unit from so long ago being stationed in Ukraine, is a lie. Russia did not invade Ukraine. Russia has had a naval base at Sevastopol, Crimea, since 1784 and has fought wars with Turkey, France, Great Britain and Germany to keep it.

        The Ukraine revolt is a stalemated trench war. The 173rd Airborne Brigade is too small and lightly armed to fight let alone defeat the 1st Guards Tank Army. NATO and Russian Federation have not provided close air support to the combatants because a shoot-down will start a nuclear war. The only function the 173rd serves is a tripwire that starts WWIII. They are expendable. There is absolutely no need for any upgrade.

        A peace treaty would alleviate any need for more armaments. The Ukraine Coup was intended to stress Russia and induce regime change in the Kremlin. Instead it is the Atlantic Alliance and EU that are falling apart.

  20. Ignacio

    “Pressure rises on Catalan regional premier ahead of parliament session El Pais and Spanish PM ready to use all legal means to stop Catalan independence El Pais (an organ of the Spanish establishment). “‘History shows that Catalan declarations of independence have ended very badly,’ noted [the Popular Party (PP)’s vice-secretary for communications, Pablo] Casado.” It’s not clear whether “very badly” means the execution of Lluís Companys, Mayor of Barcelona who proclaimed the Republic of Catalonia in 1931, or the subsequent Spanish Civil War.”

    Spanish civil war was NOT, by any chance a consequence of Companys declaration. First, Companys did not declare independence, but the creation of the Catalonian Republic within the spanish state. The origin of this decission was double: first, bad undestanding between a conservative party ruling in spain and a leftist party in Cataluña. Second was the desire of the Generalitat to rule a new agrarian reform adapted to catalonian status. The direct cause for the civil war was the radicalization of conservatives when the left won the elections in 1936. Companys was executed shortly after the civil war during Franco’s dictatorship. So the very “badly” does apply just to the personal disgust of the dictator against any leftist.

      1. Ignacio

        Subsequent, “subsiguiente” means in spanish inmediately after, and it is not true that civil war was subsequent to Companys declaration in 1934. The war was subsequent to general elections in 1936 when the left won.

  21. JohnnyGL

    9-10 minutes in, Nick Dudich, former Clinton campaign worker, NYT video editor, claims to have been an FBI ‘asset’ working to infiltrate antifa, and claims to be James Comey’s godson. Then, bizarrely, seems to retract the whole thing after his family says otherwise.

    Now, project veritas has their deservedly sketchy reputation and clearly just wanted to make NYT look bad, so I don’t know what to make of it, if anything.

    Perhaps this is a waste to even post about? But it got my attention as lefty circles have long suspected that antifa is thoroughly infiltrated with FBI-agents and/or cops, COINTELPRO-style.

    Maybe the lesson learned here is that all involved are a bunch of clowns?

  22. Wukchumni

    The wine country wildfire consisting of 4 large conflagrations, almost looks as if it’ll coalesce into 1 giant fire storm if the winds keep up.

    What a tragedy!

  23. Arthur Wilke

    The link to the Council of Foreign Relations “The State of U.S. Infrastructure” (updated October 06, 2017) reports:According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitive Report in 2015 the United States ranked sixteenth [emphasis added] in broad measures of infrastructure.

    In the World Economic Forum’s initial 2017 Global Competitiveness Report: 2017-18 , the U.S. ranks ninth in the broad (composite) measure of infrastructure, with only one sub index above the top 10, electricity and telephony at eighteenth.

    I have not compared the methodology of these two reports. My impression is that there are some methodological matters needing clarification if this index is to be used to support claims about deficiencies in the U.S. infrastructure. It’s doubtful that the U.S. significantly improved infrastructure conditions in the past several years relative to many of the consistently top-rated countries or otherwise there are other countries rapidly declining in infrastructure integrity.

    As to the Council of Foreign Relations article, its updating did not take into account the most recent World Economic Forum report. I haven’t examined the other cited sources reporting what many people routinely observe; many areas have crumbling infrastructures.


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > crumbling infrastructures

      I see a lot of ordinary American streetscapes go by on Twitter, because I track a lot of protests. Uniformly, the infrastructure looks bad. Weedy, damaged, cracked pavements, crooked signage, and so on. Of course, you get the occasional City Hall where appearances are being kept up!

  24. Lambert Strether Post author

    Catalan leader proclaims independence but suspends it pending talks Reuters

    Talks about what?!

    Independence in Catalonia – now what? El Pais:

    After a standoff that has now been going on for five years, the Catalan regional premier declared independence in a speech to the regional parliament, temporarily suspending its effects. It’s a moment to which those in favor of the separation of Catalonia from the rest of Spain want to give a historic solemnity. But no one should be fooled: that declaration has absolutely no validity. It is coming after a referendum that the justice system declared to be illegal and was carried out with no guarantees. It is preceded by a massive flight of companies and capital from Catalonia. And before today it has been received by an unshakeable rejection on the part of the opposition in Catalonia, all of the parties in Spain – whether on the left or the right – and the entire European Union.

    I take that to be the establishment view, and the focus is not on “suspension.”

    Catalan leader steps back from immediate independence declaration FT

    Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont stepped back from making an immediate declaration of the region’s independence on Tuesday as he called for more dialogue with Spain following last week’s referendum.

    The Catalan president told the regional parliament in Barcelona the region had won the right to become independent after the October 1 vote.

    “Today I assume the mandate for Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic,” he said. “The ballot boxes said yes to independence, and this is the only language we understand.”

    So, again, what’s to talk about?

    1. Oregoncharles

      Two possibilities:
      1) He got a call from Rajoy, and an offer. The events Sunday were a serious black eye for Spain, AND for the EU. Despite their public rhetoric, they may well have sent a back-channel message not to allow serious bloodshed, which would be his next step. Note that the parliament was allowed to meet; no Guardia Civil blockade. Not at all what I expected.

      2) He got a call from Rajoy, and a threat of serious violence, which led to second thoughts. Maybe a call from the EU saying that they wouldn’t prevent serious violence, as their public rhetoric implied.

      From here, no telling which, and there might be other possibilities. It bothered me that a number of Catalan leaders, including the Mossos chief, were subjecting themselves to a Spanish court, IN MADRID, not Barcelona. You don’t do that if you’re seriously contemplating a declaration of independence,as the central government would then have very important hostages.

  25. Synoia

    Democrats look to wreak havoc in GOP primaries

    The ABC strategy: Anything But Constituents.

    A friend of mine says the US needs a third political party. I’d be happy with a second.

    1. John k

      Yeah, me too.
      The dem bit gets the short end, tasked to push down progressives talking about real benefits for their base. Now really, how can they win any races with never, ever? With the Russians did it?
      Talk about rocks and hard places… reps get to directly vote for real concrete benefits for corps and rich without pushback from their base… it’s all just so unfair… and sweet talking rich reps isn’t working, probably because those damn Russians again… it’s almost enough to start nuking somebody…

    2. Oregoncharles

      The US already has a number of “third” parties. What it needs is voters who can break free of the paradigm.

  26. john c. halasz

    Mencius Moldbug was a commenter here in the early years of Naked Capitalism. He might even have garnered a link or two. I don’t recall. Maybe he provided them himself. His calling card was Austrian economics and florid literary pretensions. I recall reproving Yves for tolerating such a barmy reactionary.

  27. ewmayer

    Allow me throw out some possible rewrites of several of today’s article headlines – A is actual headline, B is alternative:

    o Example 1:
    A: “How Putin’s Russia uses Soviet-era tricks to evoke racist white fears | WaPo”
    B: “How Bezos’s WaPo uses Soviet-era tricks to evoke McCarthyite liberal fears | WaPo”

    o Example 2:
    A: “How Harvey Weinstein became one of the most powerful figures in Democratic politics before his career was rocked by a sexual harassment scandal | Business Insider”
    B: “How Bill Clinton remains one of the most powerful figures in Democratic politics even though his career was rocked by a sexual harassment scandal | Business Insider”
    (Hint: It’s not a crime if a liberal elite does it … it’s at worst a ‘misstep’. Mr. Epstein to the white courtesy phone, please.)

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