Links 10/14/17

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Arctic on Fire World Policy Institute (resilc). And you though it was just California….

Dimon and Fink unite on need to ‘crush’ bitcoin Financial Times. As we said, “prosecution futures”. Use of bitcoin is on its way to being deemed proof of criminal intent, at a minimum tax evasion.

The scientists persuading terrorists to spill their secrets Guardian

Tourniquets, once out of favor, helped save lives in Vegas shootings Reuters. EM:

Consider the following guffaw-worthy ‘new medical consensus’ – based on all the latest clinical trials data, no doubt! – described in the article: ‘Although it has been around since the Middle Ages, the tourniquet fell out of favor in recent decades because of concerns that it increased the risk of amputation. Now, that notion has given way to a new medical consensus that it is better to save a life than a limb.’ Article goes on to mention that the loss-of-limb risks are actually quite low, since the aim is only †o keep the victim alive until proper medical treatment can be brought to bear, i.e. the tourniquet typically does not need to stay on for hours as in days of yore.

Magic mushrooms ‘reboot’ brain in depressed people – study Guardian

Only China Can Restore Stability in The Global Economy Ilargi

Who cleans up Scotland’s shell firm mess? Scotland Herald. Our Richard Smith in the press again!


I must confess to being mystified at the Government postponing the debate over the Great Repeal Bill. It is over my pay grade to assess how quickly the 300 amendments that don’t have enough votes would be dispatched. The reports I have seen say that a bit over a dozen do. Say it’s two dozen. So why doesn’t the Government just grind through the process? Or do some of the amendments that might pass create more impediments to the Government having its way? The Government’s response seems disproportionate to the apparent trigger, so there is something at work here that the press either hasn’t figured out or hasn’t explained well. Having said that, this Financial Times story, Theresa May forced to delay flagship EU withdrawal bill, provides more of an explanation (as in one presumes enough of the 300 amendments are viable so as to create a procedural obstacle, plus they are symptoms of other problems, above all, a desire to check the planned use of “Henry VIII powers.”)

Juncker calls Brexit talks on citizens’ rights ‘nonsense’ Politico

Hammond forced to apologise after branding EU the enemy The Times

Shark costume man bitten by Austria’s burqa ban Politico


Juncker does not want Catalonian independence BBC

Carles Puigdemont, Catalonia’s breakaway leader Financial Times

Spain and Europe are proposing a solution that will solve nothing VilaWeb (Peronalla)

A republic for a minute VilaWeb (Peonella)


Iran nuclear deal: Trump’s speech in full BBC (Kevin W)

White House Strategy on Iran Fact Sheet C-SPAN (Kevin C)

Donald Trump’s Lies About the Iran Deal Reveal He Is Dangerously Out of Touch with Reality‬ The Nation (resilc)

Trump risks making US rogue actor as he condemns Iran nuclear deal Guardian

Iran nuclear deal: Global powers stand by pact despite Trump threat BBC. Resilc: “I’d rather have Rouhani as prezzydent.”

The Destructive Corker-Cotton Bill American Conservative (resilc)

The Middle East Pivot: Erdogan’s Turkey Seven Deadly Sins James Petras (UserFriendly)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Hackers steal restricted information on F-35 fighter, JDAM, P-8 and C-130 NakedSecurity. Glenn F: “This may be the best news for the F-35 critics. It obviously needs major tweaks and this may be the catalyst.”

Trump Transition

Mueller’s investigative team interviews Priebus The Hill

Trump Is Far Less Popular Than The Economy Suggests He Should Be FiveThirtyEight (resilc). In part due to the fact that high levels of un and under-employment mean the economy isn’t as good as many of the stats would have you believe. That is why Clinton’s incrementalism helped sink her. But yes, Trump has alienated pretty much everyone save loyal Republicans.

Mnuchin call for sweeping IMF and World Bank reform Financial Times. I should write on this because it is world class horrible and embarrassing, except I think this also has zero chance of getting done, at least as far as the IMF is concerned (I’m not up to speed on World Bank governance). For the IMF, this looks like a last-gasp effort for the US to throw its weight around in a world where it isn’t as important to be and has alienated lots of allies. The US has only about 1/6 of the votes at the IMF. Europe has about 1/3, which is a source of great unhappiness to the rest of the world, since in terms of GDP weight, the US and Europe are overrepresented. And since Europe is not too happy with Trump right now, it wouldn’t take many defections to stymie this scheme. From the FT comments section:

These guys are literally unbelievable. People used to dream about being Treasury Secretary – no wonder millennials spend their whole times stuck in their screens, better than striving to get ahead in the real world

Andrew Sullivan: Trump’s Mindless Nihilism New York Magazine (resilc)

DOJ Says No One Has Any Right To Question The Adminstration’s Handling Of Records, Not Even The Courts Techdirt (Chuck L)


California-Led Group Asks Court to Keep Obamacare Subsidies Bloomberg

Why Trump’s Obamacare Sabotage May Backfire — and Give Millions Free Health Care New York Magazine (resilc)

Republicans Aren’t as Vulnerable in 2018 as You Think Vice (resilc)

Women’s March on making Bernie opening speaker: “We all know how busy women leaders are” Vox (resilc). Help me. What about “Sanders is the most popular politician in America” don’t you understand? Women will not win on “women’s issues” if they don’t have male allies. Serious, these people deserve to lose.

Who Is Seth Moulton For? Slate (resilc)

California Burning

Why the 2017 fire season is shaping up to be one of California’s worst Los Angeles Times

California Blazes Are Part Of A Larger And Hotter Picture, Fire Researchers Say NPR (David L)

The Deadliest Fires in California History Aren’t Over Yet Wunderground

Prepare for larger, longer wildfires Nature

California fire mystery: PG&E lines fell in winds that weren’t ‘hurricane strength’ Mercury News. PG&E is a serial menace to public health and safety. Why hasn’t it been put out of business?

Couple Cling to One Another in Flame-Surrounded Pool; Only One Survives Wall Street Journal

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico, Disconnection and Chaos, but Grace Under Pressure The Nation. Lambert: “The reason I hate the “desperate Puerto Ricans” trope is not that the situation is not terrible but that it denies the Puerto Ricans agency. They’re out there clearing trees, etc.”

Puerto Rico, by the numbers Axios

Puerto Rico’s Reliance on Road System Is Harming Its Recovery The Drive. From Oct 2, still germane.

Fake News

The Legacy of Reagan’s Civilian ‘Psyops’ Consortium News (furzy)

Sheryl Sandberg reveals Facebook will only go so far to limit misinformation. Slate (resilc). Generally speaking, if you control content (and that includes reader supplied content if you intervene in it), you are liable. So Facebook’s position is that any fake news blowback is just a cost of doing business.

‘Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law’ Bill Moyers

Oregon’s new retirement savings plan faces legal challenge Register-Guard (JM)

Amazon Is Getting Into Sportswear Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia Weighs Giving Up on International Listing for Aramco Wall Street Journal. My guess is they don’t want to make the disclosures required under the securities laws of the various exchanges, a huge red flag. They claim they want to list on international exchanges later, but the price that matters to you is the IPO price, since that is when the seller gets cash. Press stories meant to reassure investors that they’ll be able to trade their shares on big exchanges are an awfully weak promise.

Saudi Arabia Looks To Shelve Aramco IPO OilPrice. Based on the FT, which may have a better grip on the state of play.

Rick Perry Wants to Bail Out the Coal Industry The Atlantic (resilc)

The End of Coal Will Haunt the Navajo Bloomberg (resilc)

Money and Banking Post 21: The Interest Rate New Economic Perspectives

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: Personal Responsibility Mad Money, CNBC YouTube (resilc)

Goldman Is Setting Up A Special Team For Clients Who Have More Money Than Ideas DealBreaker. This is hardly new. I knew people who worked in groups like this in the 1980s and 1990s. Surprised it’s taken this long for that sort of thing to become fashionable again.

Weinstein Co. Is Exploring Sale or Shutdown Wall Street Journal

You’re wrong about Second Amendment rights Medium (Glenn F). Important.

Class Warfare

Tesla fires hundreds from headquarters, factory Mercury News

Black Americans Need Bourgeois Norms Wall Street Journal. If you need proof that the WSJ editorial page lives in an alternative reality, you’ve got one-stop shopping here. UserFriendly: “​ROFL I don’t think the WSJ understands ​what bourgeois means, and clearly they have no clue how norms are set.”

The geography of desperation in America Brookings (UserFriendly)

Antidote du jour (Timotheus):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.


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  1. BoycottAmazon

    As Jimmy Dore put it, why isn’t Sen. Elisabeth Warren asking the DOJ why they are not prosecuting these fraudsters. Beyond being fired, they should be serving hard time. Sounds more like she’s running for office, while actual doing nothing to change the system.

    1. Vatch

      This is about Wells Fargo, in case anyone needs to decide whether to view the video. Not that powerful people care about my opinion, but I agree that they should be prosecuted.

  2. Wukchumni

    I’ve walked perhaps 5,000 miles in the High Sierra, and there’s one thing always in the back of my mind in terms of oh no, and that’s having an appendix burst on me. I’d be in deep kimchee, 20 miles deep into the backcountry-a write-off. Carrying a SPOT device alleviates that somewhat, as I can send out an emergency message that I need help, but will it get there in time?

    Another slightly worrying aspect used to be getting hurt along the lines of bleeding bad while mountain climbing or bouldering, etc., and then along came the Israeli bandage, a wonderful invention that makes for an amazing tool. It’s a multi-purpose bandage and can be used as a make-shift tourniquet, ACE Wrap, or even a sling to immobilize an appendage. It’s truly a versatile item to include in your trauma kit or first aid kit. It can also be self-applied, even one-handed.

    It weighs nothing, and can save lives. Get a few for the car, house, etc.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thanks for the link, I’ve never heard of that bandage, looks incredibly useful. I’ve done plenty of solo remote cycles and hikes and I’ve often wondered how I’d cope with a real emergency if out of phone range. I’d never want to have to do what the guy in Touching the Void did to save his own life.

      1. Wukchumni

        Touching the Void is not only an amazing book, but a fabulous movie, easily the best mountain climbing film i’ve ever seen.

      2. Meher Baba

        brilliant book and brilliant film. but did you mean, in fact, Aron Ralston and his book ‘ Between A Rock and a Hard Place’ ? He’s the guy whom sawed his own arm off ( and had to do a lot more) in Utah. Brilliant inspiring read. He says he doesn’t regret it at all.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yes, well, both of them came to mind, although there was something about having to physically drag yourself over a glacier with a shattered leg that still makes me hesitate sometimes, even when taking a fairly innocuous solo hike in my local hills.

          1. Wukchumni

            Actually, it was finding his way out of a deep crevasse with a shattered leg, that is after his partner had cut the rope holding him suspended over said chasm, on account of the weight of his body pulling him down, despite being anchored somewhat in the snow.

            Harrowing, just even thinking about it.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              I was reminded of that just on Friday at a local climbing wall (I’m a beginner at ‘proper’ climbing). My regular climb partner fractured her femur 10 days ago, but she is such a stubborn person she insisted (over the objections of staff) of trying the bouldering wall with one leg firmly strapped up. I must get her to watch the film!

    2. WobblyTelomeres

      I was, just 20 minutes ago, looking at a QuikClot clotting sponge. Almost bought the pack of 4 to add to my motorcycle 1st aid kit (have a very long distance trip coming up). If you’re going to be so remote that you need a SPOT, you might want to consider adding a clotting sponge. Does the SPOT package include airlift coverage? You can get a surprise bill for $20,000+ for a helicopter flight. If you are going outside of your home country, you might also look at these guys:

      Advrider and Horizons Unlimited favorites!

      1. Wukchumni

        I’ve been helicoptered once out of the backcountry when I broke my scapula when an ice bridge gave way about 20 years ago in Sequoia National Park.

        SAR’s are interesting in this day and age of greatly reduced funds for the NP’s, in that I didn’t get charged a cent, and nobody ever does., at least in this jurisdiction. I’ve seen SAR’s where there is dozens of hour of helo time and 30-40 people involved in the search lasting a week or more, it can get quite involved.

        There was a SAR about a missing guy a few weeks ago in Mineral King and 9 park rangers went looking for him…

      2. blennylips

        And if you are a diver, you are a member of Divers Alert Network (DAN) already, right?

        Divers Alert Network (DAN) is a group of not-for-profit organizations dedicated to improving diving safety for all divers. It was founded in Durham, North Carolina, USA in 1980 at Duke University providing 24/7 telephonic hot-line diving medical assistance.

        In which case

        When you join DAN, you are automatically enrolled in DAN’s travel assistance plan and your family is covered with your family membership. If you travel at least 50 miles/80 km from your permanent residence, TravelAssist is there to help 24 hours a day. DAN TravelAssist arranges emergency medical evacuations for any medical emergency – and provides many more benefits – for you and your immediate family members.

        DAN Travel Assist

          1. blennylips

            That’s right! Insurance no matter the purpose of the trip: TA doesn’t care if you’re diving or not.

    3. ambrit

      Thanks for this. I’ve heard of the Israeli Dressing, but never looked into it. This would be useful for our Bug Out Bag or Car Bag. Thanks!

      1. Wukchumni

        I feel certain there’s more than a few of the 500+ wounded in the LV shooting that were treated with Israeli bandages, at the locale of the concert.

        1. ambrit

          I wouldn’t be a bit surprised. I ordered two, quite reasonably priced, through eeee-buy. Thanks again.

    4. Jeremy Grimm

      Thanks for the link! That video and others around it opened my eyes to a gaping hole in my household supplies and training for getting through hard times and helping others. I’m not a survivalist and I don’t own guns but trauma can come from many directions and often at times when outside help may be spread too thin.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        That’s right. More likely is bid/proposal information: salary schedules, overhead information, key personnel vita. The leak threatens the money.

  3. Corbin Dallas

    The “Women’s March on making Bernie opening speaker: “We all know how busy women leaders are”” is really more than the headline… The fact is the gross (and vocal tiny minority of) “Resistance” of white-women-who-never-cared (eg Neera Tanden, Sarah Lerner, Amanda Marcotte) accused the WM of not catering to their wealthy needs. Tamika Mallory then specifically had to respond to these attacks by arguing that they did, in fact, invite these “Resistance” ladies’ idol, HRC, who refused by saying she was busy.

    So Tamika (and other leaders) had to say that HRC was busy, and they are GLAD to have Bernie. She has been busy all week defending the WM (which is pro-BDS, by the way, and generally very lefty) from all these ladies on Twitter…

    In fact the WM is exactly the kind of serious intersectional class/race/gender alliance you’ve been clamoring for the whole time.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > the kind of serious intersectional class/race/gender alliance

      I’m not sure Yves has been clamoring for it, but I’ve been gently murmuring in its favor.

      That said, I’ve been dubious about the WM (pink pussy hat folks) when I looked at their leadership and found plenty of Clinton organizers and supporters in it (and after all, they did invite her, even if she did turn them down). I’m also not impressed by Maxine Waters, a Black Misleadership Class icon. However, as I said elsewhere, if they’re making Joy Reid blow a gasket, I may have to rethink my views.

      So kudos to them for inviting Sanders, when they had to have known that the Tandens of this world would try to punish them for it. Perhaps this little controversy will have the salutary effect of showing them who their real friends are (I detest the term “ally”). I can believe that there is considerable internal struggle in the WM that we don’t read or know about.

      And surely the Clintonites going crazypants over the Sanders invitation, when they claim (1) that Sanders is the opening keynote speaker, when Waters is, and (2) never said that [genuflects] Hillary was invited, when she was and turned it down, makes them look like the out-of-touch and factually challenged arrogant fools they are. So we are blessed with considerable schadenfreude here.

      1. Corbin Dallas

        Absolutely agree with your last para, Strether, and whats more schadenfeude is that Emily’s List (rich source of many of the complainants here) celebrated the head molester in chief (before Trump’s election of course) by inviting Bill Clinton to be a keynote speaker at THEIR women’s event…

      2. artiste-de-decrottage

        > …we are blessed with considerable schadenfreude here.

        I want to interrupt this discussion thread only to exclaim, what a delectable phrase! It is right up there with the compliment “You are a man of great culture and rare taste” from The Man in the High Castle. Which no doubt applies to Lambert as much as anyone. Thanks!

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      There are a lot of the Hillary-identifiers screaming bloody murder about this on social media, including circulating online petitions demanding Bernie be dis-invited. Apparently, they didn’t hear their Blessed Mother turned the event down, either. And you’ll notice there hasn’t been a peep from her to make that clear.

      What gets my blood pressure up, though, is how most of them persist in pushing the “he’s a misogynist” line so carefully nurtured during the campaign by the media/Clinton campaign (Was there really a difference?) That carries willful ignorance to 11.

      1. David Mills

        The misogynist line is easy to use and as hard to defend against as the anti-Semitic line. That’s why they use it…

        What’s actually more disgusting is the manner in which Hillary took apart Bill’s various and sundry accusers.

  4. Clive

    Re; The Great Brexit Repeal Bill Bungling

    The UK government’s approach was actually quite sensible — indeed, about the only practical option available in view of the otherwise huge amount of legislation which would instead be needed and the immovable constraint of limited parliamentary time. Having a broad will of parliament passed, it would have enabled the minster and / or civil servants to resolve the technical details for each aspect of former-EU directives as they then became UK law.

    And it also would have provided an absolutely essential element — legal certainty. Not wishing to get too bogged down in UK statutory instrument sausage making, a bill can be passed in parliament but the language of the bill might not be able to describe how the provisions in that bill will be interpreted, especially if the area being legislated in is complex (this has often happened and I have been left trying to sort out some real brain aching nitty gritty in the absence of legal certainty in my TBTF’s involvement in financial services legislation, for example).

    Without legal certainty, conversely, there is not a great deal impacted businesses can do in terms of detailed planning. This is especially important when it comes to requirements for changes to IT systems, or back-office procedures where there are people-managed highly variable or high-discretion processes to be updated.

    This should have all worked just fine. But no-one, rightly, trusted the government. Here, as so often, there is a cost of a low-trust society. I can’t help but chuckle to myself that a government which has done so much to create such a problem is now finding itself dealing with a particularly nasty dose of its consequences. Banana Monarchy is just the phrase (that phrase is definitely a keeper — see yesterday’s comments in the latest Brexit post).

    But the government simply cannot manage the Brexit parliamentary logistics without the Great Repeal Bill. It will — as threatened to happen — just get mired in parliamentary tactics by both Conservative and opposition MPs. And be at risk of crazypants vested interest motions getting through just because the votes can’t possibly be based on a good understanding of the matters in question. The committee stages could be a warzone.

    So the UK government can’t go forward and it can’t go back. It’s only option at the moment is to convince MPs cross-party that it will not be a bad actor (and I don’t mean Robert Vaughan here).

    Good luck with that, Theresa May. I might end up emigrating to Venezuela for some peace and quiet and good governance.

    1. David

      Yes, if the government had a thumping majority it could use an Allocation of Time procedure to force through at least some of the individual pieces of legislation required. But it hasn’t got a majority at all, nor even unity in its own party, so it has no way of controlling or limiting the debates. Thus the Great Repeal Bill, which, as Clive says, was probably the most elegant solution anyway. But it’s not just the dozen or so amendments where the government might be defeated that are the problem, it’s the endemic guerrilla warfare and constant knife-edge votes that would effectively scupper the whole thing. May finds herself in the same situation politically (though much worse objectively) as Jim Callaghan did in 1978, when he told the Labour Whips Office that a given vote “absolutely had” to be won, to which the reply was that he “absolutely had” to find some more MPs. Those were the days when sick MPs were rushed from hospital to vote, to and that is where we could easily be again. I think the FT presentation is (deliberately) a bit over-schematic, but contains important elements of truth: this is a game where nobody really wants the cards they hold and nobody really believes in the causes they say they are fighting for.

    2. paul

      There are some rather thorny issues for the devolved parliaments

      Under the devolution acts, most powers in agriculture, fisheries, environment and parts of justice and home affairs are currently shared between the EU and the devolved bodies. This is not because they are mentioned specifically but because in Scotland and Northern Ireland (and in future Wales), everything not explicitly reserved to Westminster is devolved. This means that, after Brexit, unless the respective devolution acts themselves are amended, the powers will come back to the devolved bodies…..

      The devolved governments argue that the powers belong to them and that they, like the UK itself, have given them to Europe as part of our EU membership. So, they say, the powers are devolved in UK domestic law, and Westminster has no right to take them back unilaterally.

      Looks like Westminster will have to reorganise the UK at the same time as it sinks out of the eu.

      As the May Government has shown itself to be rather high-handed in this process so far, there is every reason for caution.

      (Rather harsh on Robert Vaughn;
      Doomed Honour in the magnificent 7
      Chillingly oleaginous in Bullitt
      Effortlessly insouciant in the man from uncle
      Super villain in superman 3
      & a JFK assination buff in his spare time.)

      1. Bugs Bunny

        Saw Robert Vaughn once in a convenience store in Manhattan (I will not say “bodega” – it’s an abomination).

        The man was so perfectly dressed in a black overcoat, a brilliant chalkline suit and shoes that looked like someone in Italy had spent a month making them and buffing them to a perfect sheen. Made me want to burn my sad wardrobe and stay inside.

        Liked him in ‘Hustle” as well. Nice late career jolly, no effort needed.

        I’m sure he was a Remainer.

      2. Chris

        Thank you, Paul, Clive too for the pertinent summary on the latest Brexit issues.

        When you had hair like Robert Vaughn, you didn’t need to act well, just say the lines…

    3. PlutoniumKun

      I’ve no idea if it would have been applicable, but I vaguely remember from my old history books that when the Irish Free State was formed they dealt with the issue of what laws should apply by putting together a committee of politicians with a big legal staff who systematically went through several hundred years of British Parliamentary law and dividing them into ‘uncontroversial: drop’, ‘uncontroversial: keep’, ‘needs technical revision’, ‘needs debate’ piles, and then deal with them over a few years in a systematic manner. Whatever problems the new country faced, this was one aspect that was addressed pretty smoothly. It surely should not have been beyond the competence of the government to put in place a cross party committee with strong administrative/legal support to do that.

      But whichever way you look at it, the fact that they’ve made so little progress with the clock ticking down so rapidly once again shows what a clusterfluck the whole thing is.

      1. Clive

        Yes, and I think that’s the nub of this. I’ve been amazed, even though I shouldn’t have been, at the lack of analysis which went into May’s decision to call the snap election. This ridiculous notion that it was all decided during some holiday walk, more-or-less on a whim, got entered into the narrative and wasn’t unpicked since then.

        Having had chance to consider it some more, May didn’t really have a choice, the previous thin majority would have meant doing some deals with MPs to get the Great Repeal Bill through the Lords and the Second Reading. Certain MPs, both pro- and anti- Brexit would have mustered enough support to extract changes based on their pet agendas. Hence May wanting a crushing majority, enough to see off motions which might end up backed by, say, 30 to 40 rebel MPs (which is as many as most rebellions can ever muster).

        And the polls did suggest that might have been possible. All of which proves, never trust the polls.

        Now, some kind of cross-party agreement is essential to getting the legislation passed. No legislation means government simply becomes impossible. Absent a Great Repeal Bill there would be effectively no basis in law, post-Brexit, for the entire country being able to legally operate in huge swathes of government-responsible areas (agricultural matters, employment, financial services regulation, air traffic, immigration and emigration) because the EU’s tentacles extend so far and so deep. It’ll take, in effect, a government of national unity to get an agreed version of the Great Repeal Bill through or else we’ll end up with a country where the government has only a sketchy legal basis for governing post Brexit.

        Not only then is May a mere figurehead, the entitre government is largely powerless. The Conservatives can either hold the entire nation hostage if it refuses to do a cross-party deal or else it’ll need to do deal with Labour (and the SNP for devolved matters).

        I wonder which option they’ll go for? My hunch is they’ll play a high stakes game of chicken until the last possible moment (wasting significant amounts of valuable time in the process…)

        Just when I thought politics had reached its capacity to inflict surprises on the downside.

        1. David

          Yes, in politics the best time to kick your opponent is when they’re down, and she and everybody else thought that the Labour Party was on the floor. But don’t forget that for May this is first and foremost a party political issue. When she wakes up in the morning she thinks, in order, of (1) Keeping her cabinet together (2) Keeping the Tory Party from each other’s throats (3) Thus keeping her job and (4) Winning the next election. I don’t think she actively wants chaos and disaster, it’s just that things like the British economy and society get pushed to one side when the survival of the regime, sorry party, is at stake. I’m pretty sure that the idea all along was to let chaos develop, and then say “look, we followed the democratically expressed wishes of the people, we tried to be reasonable, but Brussels was out to get us, It’s their fault” and squeak back into power on a nationalist, anti-Brussels ticket. It has to be said that the Brussels side has rather played into those tactics, if my analysis is correct.
          What frightens me is that I don’t think there’s anyone in London actually capable of dealing with the situation we now have. In the past, the government machine was good enough to make up for idiots at Ministerial level. Now, I’m afraid, it’s not.

          1. Clive

            Agreed — Brussels keeps putting its head into the Daily Mail’s noose and saying “pull”. Just when you think the EU’s getting its PR right, up pops the Commission with some fairly ridiculous positioning statement.

            But then again, there’s zero reason for the Commission to give two hoots what the U.K. thinks of it. That is always the weakness of the Daily Mail’s argumentation. Having the high moral ground is worthless if your legal and political position is stuffed. Just ask Greece (and, with a lot less sympathy, Cataluña).

            1. David

              In the short term, I agree. But the UK (if it’s still united) is not going to go away after Brexit, and it’s too important a political and economic actor to be ignored. The analogy isn’t very good, but perhaps a major political and economic crisis in a place like Japan would do, especially if Japan were a lot closer. If Brussels is sensible, it’ll be giving thought to what kind of political fallout there would be from a Brexit that continues to be handled as disastrously as it has been so far, and what kind of relationship it wants with a post-Brexit UK. My assumption is that, other things being equal, it would prefer a Corbyn government to some hysterical anti-Brussels grouping, and so should be doing what it can to bring that about. But I’ve never noticed imagination to be a particularly strong feature of the Commission’s culture.

            2. PlutoniumKun

              I was reading a (paywalled) article in the Irish Times recently by a well sourced Brussels based journalist who wrote that Brussels is now assuming May will be gone within months, and are just treading time hoping that a grown-up will get the job next. Normally Brussels is pretty cautious about making any type of statements that will give an unintended headline, but I get the impression they are so horrified and bemused by the antics of the UK negotiators, that they have pretty much given up on the usual discipline and are maybe amusing themselves by doing a little trolling.

              But as you say, in the long term its likely to be very damaging. While I think in their own way the Irish government is mishandling Brexit badly, the one good thing Varadkar has been doing is maintaining silence over whats happening in London and publicly stating a consistent line of ‘this is a problem you created, its up to you, not us, to come up with pragmatic solutions’. Brussels could do with taking the same approach in public anyway.

          2. Lambert Strether

            > the best time to kick your opponent is when they’re down

            I’m sure I’ve quoted this before, but Terry Pratchett, Guards, Guards:

            Captain Vimes: “Corporal Nobbs, why are you kicking people when they’re down ?”

            Nobby: “Safest way, sir.”

            The other saying we have is: “When your opponent’s drowning, throw ’em an anvil.”

    4. flora

      I hope you will allow a Yank who doesn’t understand the Brexit details to opine for a moment. The politicians’ bungled handling of Brexit seem to me to be part of a larger unexamined set of assumptions in play; assumptions that may be unwarranted at this point in time. Yves and Lambert have often remarked over the last two years that the present exhibits similarities to the run-up to WWI. WWI was part of what the US regarded as the start of “the American Century”, then WWII, then Britain’s special relationship with the US. The special relationship could counter balance much during what was considered the American Century (and the US was the world’s industrial powerhouse) that all of western Europe looked to for guidance.

      Now the WWII consensus has broken down, continental Europe increasingly looks East (where manufacturing and rising wealth is being creatied) instead of West and to the US. Even if the US wanted to tip the scales at the EU in favor of more generous treatment for a Brexit I doubt Brussels would listen. Yet, I keep thinking British pols assume that special US relationship still carries the weight it once did when in reality it is no longer does. There is more a sea change in effect than they or we have realized until just this moment, imo. It gives me no joy to write this. Quite the opposite.

      1. Clive

        When Americans talk sense, there’s no one who can hold a candle to you!

        But definitely, there is as far as I can tell a very strong residual belief in the special relationship. An undercurrent that the US “owes” the U.K. something. Though what, exactly, and why this should be, is never adequately explained. But it does seem to pervade the national psyche.

        1. MichaelSF

          I think that “owes” relationship/expectation goes only one way in the minds of many USA citizens/politicians — towards the USA.

          When you are the only “exceptional” country in the world (if not the universe) then of course wealth/adulation/obeisance is one’s natural due.

          Everyone else just needs to stop fighting reality and embrace their natural position as lickspittle lackeys.

          1. flora

            My opinion: I think the special US -Britain relationship on the US side is down to Britain and the RAF stopping the Germany from crushing Europe entirely (see the Battle of Britain) in WWII and creating the time and historical/democratic space for the US congress to decide to come in to WWll. Many in the US and Congress didn’t think Britain would hold, so why send material and men to a European war. After all, European wars had nothing to do with the US. We had cut our ties from “old Europe and it’s endess wars.” (It was only after WWII that then Germany’s documents about invading,dominating and controlling the US were reveled that US opinions changed.) So, shorthand, Britain held the line for democracy in WWII and gave the US time to come in and fight back against totalinarianism. There still is a large respect in the US for Britain’s determination – against all odds – to hold the line against the Third Reich. There is still a large respect in the US that Britain is seen as the force that keep the “lights from going out all over the world” in WWII.

            I guess this is old history now, but history casts long shadows, as they say.

          2. flora

            I have a longer comment in moderation. Shorter: look to WWII to understand the special relationship. FDR and Churchill and the lend-least program, and how that was related to defending democracy.

            1. skippy

              I thought the Atlantic treaty, hashed out off the Northern coast on that Navy ship was pivotal e.g. the old empire had to relinquish control over its market network [colonies and quasi colonies] before full commitment to hostilities would occur.

                1. flora

                  shorter: FDR had to sell lend-lease to the US Congress who weren’t on board with European powers holding colonies, as you can imagine. However the larger and then immediate struggle – democracy vs strong-man rule – was the the more important issue, as you can imagine. Without democracy all the rest was moot.

                  1. ambrit

                    If Toland et. al. are right and England cozened America into the War, then the Great Game of Anglo vs Americo is irrelevant. After all, Wall Street helped finance the NASDAP in the Twenties as a bulwark against those Godless (if Capitalism is your Deity,) Commies. Sometimes you have to think outside of the stock offering.

                  2. skippy

                    Kinda curious considering the activities of our C-corp actions south of the boarder for so long.

                    – In Name – seems apropos.

                    Going to be interesting considering Xi statements about studying capitalism, but understanding Marx, as well, as their efforts to establish their own SWIFT alternative new work.

                    Then there is how long Trump can keep the diversionary tactics up, with so many fighting over the Bernays knob, till it just becomes one loud incoherent squelch.

                    disheveled…. Proust something or the other….

                    1. ambrit

                      Anti Proust?
                      “The Forgetting of Things Past.”
                      “Black Swan’s Way”
                      “The Cities of the Plain.”

        2. skippy

          Rumor control lighting up about Xi going after the shadow sector due to mathematical twister [+ / – 40%] and connectivity to banks, too the point of the night of the long knife.

          1. ambrit

            Well, the Brownshirts were at first the Partei’s stalwarts when it came to street fighting. After ‘respectability’ came to the fore, the Brownshirts had to go. Their purpose was done, as far as the Partei’s inner group was concerned. So, how important was the ‘Shadow Sector’ in building today’s China? They seem to have tread where Central Banks feared to go. Now their services are no longer needed? I don’t see China as a fully developed “First World” country yet. Anyone with more knowledge know better? I contritely await correction.

            1. witters

              “I don’t see China as a fully developed “First World” country yet.”

              A list of the required features – and why – would be nice.

              1. ambrit

                I have the feeling that the very definition of what defines a “First World” country is open to debate nowadays.
                If I remember correctly, the definition of “First World” used to be ‘a fully developed industrial infrastructure.’ Later definitions added educated populations and fairly equitable standards of living across the population groups. This assumed a settling down of the factious factions jockeying for power and influence. Growing pains were all behind, the Millennium ahead. It seems that the Peoples Republic got the order reversed. The Millennium was announced first, and then the growing pains commenced to intensify and worsen. China is trying to make the jump directly from a peasant farmer culture into a Utopia. I assert that cultures do not ‘transform,’ they ‘evolve.’ Even with a ‘punctuated equilibrium’ model to go by, the successful change of a culture takes lots of time.
                Recent Chinese history suggests that the Middle Kingdom is passing through a period of Robber Baron economy. Even Marx would admit that this process in China is fraught with dangers; not the least of which are social dislocations. ‘Barefoot Doctors’ are within the memories of many Chinese alive today. Corrupt local officials are frequently now opposed by vocal and pugnacious bands of villagers and townsfolk. Just as in the West a hundred and more years ago, China today is seeing the dislocations resulting from the battle for control of the newfound wealth.
                So, I look for:
                Internal Stability
                Industrial Development
                Civil Infrastructure
                Balanced Power Centres
                You may well ask; “Show me any country that fulfils this list.” I’ll reply; “It’s a case of Arete.”

      2. nonclassical

        ..don’t think we can overlook the “Project For A New American Century”, “total global military domination” factor of cheney-neocons:

        “The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) was a neo-conservative think tank (1997 to 2006) that had strong ties to the American Enterprise Institute. PNAC’s web site said it was “established in the spring of 1997” as “a non-profit, educational organization whose goal is to promote American global leadership.”

        PNAC’s policy document, “Rebuilding America’s Defences,” openly advocated for total global military domination. Many PNAC members held highest-level positions in the George W. Bush administration. The Project was an initiative of the New Citizenship Project (501c3). [1]

        In 2009 two of PNAC’s founders, William Kristol and Robert Kagan, began what some termed “PNAC 2.0,” The Foreign Policy Initiative.”

        (..who’s who-signatories listed in documentation)

  5. voteforno6

    Re: You’re wrong about Second Amendment rights

    Sorry, but this analysis is a bit of a mess. He hand-waves away the militia clause, calling it a trivial debate, when it’s that clause that explains the entire purpose of the Second Amendment. A much more coherent, much more logically and historically consistent interpretation of it, is that it protects the rights of states to form and arm militias.

    At the time of the founding, there was an ingrained distrust of standing armies – the founders were leery of a centralized government with a standing army under its control. That’s why the Constitution requires annual appropriations for the army, as a curb on its power. Also, there was still a strong sentiment that the various states should serve as a check on the central government.

    Romantic illusions aside, the performance of the militias during the American Revolution was spotty, at best. Still, they did have some value, at a time when there were no professionalized police forces to keep order.

    The idea that the Second Amendment was intended to protect the right to individual gun ownership would be logical, if the militia clause wasn’t there. Proponents of individual gun rights have instead chosen to ignore it, because they have no real argument against that interpretation.

    1. sleepy

      Well, for better or worse, the legal debate over individual v. militia rights has been settled, for the time being at least, with the Supreme Court ruling that the 2nd amendment creates an individual right to gun ownership.

      1. Louis

        The Supreme Court has ruled that there is an individual right to ownership; however, the scope of this right has not been settled.

        One issue that hasn’t been settled but almost certainly be litigated sooner or later is whether individuals have an unfettered right to carry in public (open or concealed) or if private businesses can decide to prohibit guns.

        Under what circumstances, if any, can ownership between restricted or prohibited, has not been settled: e.g. are background check requirements constitutional?

        I don’t profess to know the answers to these questions but there is a lot that has not been sorted out about the Second Amendment.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          One issue that hasn’t been settled but almost certainly be litigated sooner or later is whether individuals have an unfettered right to carry in public (open or concealed) or if private businesses can decide to prohibit guns


          That’s similar to freedom of speech.

          We have free speech zones.

          Not sure if we have free-religion zones, when it comes to the free exercise of religion. Maybe we limit to temples, churches, etc.

          Can a football player choose to practice his or her religion, say halfway through the 2nd quarter, right there at the 50 yard line?

          Can a football player start his Zen meditation when the anthem is played?

          Can a football player exercise his freedom of speech at the same time as the Zen guy?

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Maybe a Zen basketball player and mindfulness football player.

              Christian players, pray at this corner. Buddhist players, pray by the cheerleaders. Hindu players, by the scorers’ table.

              Free Religion Zones on a basketball court…

              Of course, they have regulate the time. Can’t do it at the 6:00 min mark in the first quarter. And not during the anthem.

              Maybe they can all pray after the game.

              Everyone has his freedoms, but regulated.

              1. Wukchumni

                I frequently see professional athletes on the field pointing upwards towards Sky Daddy with a one-fingered salute when they accomplish something good, but never see the same when they drop a pass or strikeout, why’s that?

              2. ambrit

                True. I forgot about the Buddhist warrior monks. The Christian sects had their warrior monks as well. Since “professional sports,” (do notice the origins of the word ‘profession,’) are a religion of sorts, they are allowed their own “warrior class.”
                I’m not at all sure that I would call a shot from mid court in basketball a “Trinity Shot.”

          1. tony

            Interrupting the game like that would be inherently not-Zen. Focusing fully on the game would be Zen.

      2. Lambert Strether

        > settled, for the time being at least, with the Supreme Court ruling

        If you regard Supreme Court rulings after the first post-Bush v. Gore judge ascended to the Court as valid, yes.

      3. voteforno6

        Nothing is settled, when it comes to Supreme Court decisions. What can be done can be undone as well. Court decisions have been overturned before; there’s no reason to think that it can’t be done in this case as well.

        1. nonclassical

          …it is “settled” that reference to 1880’s “legislation” sited by fundamentalist supremes, with regard to “Citizens United” was never in place in said “legislation”…rather, occurred in preamble to legislation, as documented on pages 200-210, “Age of Betrayal: Triumph of Money in America, 1865-1900”, by Jack Beatty…

          (among other reference materials)

    2. Louis Fyne

      the get all ‘meta’…this is an interesting (to me at least) philosophical debate about guns I heard…

      1. many elements of the Left claim that police are inherently racist, eg BLM. (this is not putting words in their mouth); but then

      2. many elements of the Left want to ban/severely restrict guns, giving government a monopoly on guns. (not putting words into anyone’s mouth)

      Therefore if 1 and 2 are true, then is group #1 ok with group #2 with giving a monopoly of power to inherently racist institutions?

      yes, it’s a pro-gun argument and a slippery slope-type argument. but it’s interesting on a philosophical level, to me at least. just throwing it out.

      1. ambrit

        The unacknowledged argument here is that “violent coercion” is at root the basis of “Civilization.” Hmmm…. Too many inherent biases to unpack on one Christmas morning.

      2. Elizabeth Burton

        I paraphrased the old NRA chestnut “If guns are outlawed…” in my response to that Medium piece. I don’t own guns, but I was raised by people who did, and used them to put meat on the table. The people I see screaming the loudest for a total ban on gun ownership are people who have no idea what it’s like to live in that situation, although as things are going they may have to soon. Their entire understanding of firearms is derived from TV and the movies.

        I also find that “you can’t fight the government because the government has bigger guns” an extension of the above. Well, that and total ignorance of the battles won in recent history against governments with overwhelmingly superior fire-power. Convincing people they’re helpless against their rulers is a useful tool, after all.

        1. witters

          “total ignorance of the battles won in recent history against governments with overwhelmingly superior fire-power. ”

          Really? So the US – with the most guns in the world – is gonna be – what? – Afghanistan? Pray tell, how you have come to think this?

      3. Basil Pesto

        I would counter with this: If the citizenry were more comprehensively disarmed, police would be less fretful and prone to violent overreactions as they would not be as compelled by fear to draw and use their weapons. If there were a buyback scheme, it’d be highly unlikely that any Joe Blow you pull over would have a gun. It would take some time for these new behaviours to settle but I think that’s what would happen. Consider the stats here. Obviously the issue is more complex than what I’ve just outlined in terms of cultural/legal relativism between countries, but I think in the U.S. it would be beneficial for both the citizenry and the police were a serious disarmament to happen. Of course, that’s not to say that the racist qualities of the institutions would disappear (and it’s more than a little troubling that the only country that gets close to the US police shooting numbers is South Africa).

      1. justanotherprogressive

        Thank you Lambert. I have been searching for something like this…….now I’m going to go back and finish reading it…..

          1. justanotherprogressive

            Bogus’s writing certainly makes more logical sense than any of the “insurrectionist” writings that I have read.

            I always wondered why the Federalists would include an amendment that could tear down what they had so carefully constructed (and why they were so silent about it), and of course, it’s the word “militia”. It makes far more sense to me that they meant that word to mean a state organized group of people meant to defend the state (against slave uprisings and groups like Shays Rebellion), and not as we take it today to mean a civilian-organized group of people to defend against the state….

    3. Pookah Harvey

      Scalia seems to agree with the analysis in the article that small arms no longer provide protection from governments… but doesn’t care. From the NYT

      Justice Scalia also wrote:

      “It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service — M-16 rifles and the like — may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.

      So the Scalia style conservative judiciary really don’t see a problem that the only real purpose of assault style weapons is the mass slaughter of fellow citizens.

      1. tony

        That is a ridiculous argument, since tanks and bombers are not going to be patrolling the streets. They did in Afganistan, but that was because the US could extract hundreds of billions in resources from the peaceful homeland to pay for that. A fight again the state is a fight against the police. And you need very little resources to make the state collapse under its own weight.

        A tank costs about USD5 million, to maintain it and the crew operational full time is probably over a million a year. The issue with this is that those resources do not actually appear freely from the heavens. They must be extracted from the population, and it take very little to make the extraction cost more than the value of the resources.

        Imagine your city with a hundred men with AR-15s resisting the state and a population that would not cooperate with the police. The police could not patrol the city, laws and contracts could not be enforced and no resources would be gained from that city by the state.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Your tone is out of line. I suggest you read our Policies regarding comments. And it is a straw man, since (and I despise having to clarify what Scalia is saying). Scalia is still defending the Second Amendment despite saying that small arms can’t stand up against military equipment.

          I think you need to catch up on the news. The US has been giving away tanks to cities since at least the second term of the Obama administration, to the degree that people have been complaining so the program was cut back. Trump has restored it. The police now has lots of military-grade weaponry, although I agree not bombers yet. Cities do have helicopter gunships (one was used in LA against a rogue cop who basically bunkered himself, IIRC in a house). Bloomberg when he was mayor bragged that he had the seventh biggest army in the world, which was a huge exaggeration but reflected his ambitions (he had the Israeli army advising NYC police, and NYC was one of the 17 cities that engaged in a coordinated paramilitary crackdown on Occupy Wall Street, which people forget had only been “occupying” a mere two months before it was deemed to be too much of a threat to be allowed to continue).

          They are also getting advanced crowd control weapons like sound cannons, which will pretty much incapacitate any shooters save those good enough to be snipers (as in very accurate at long distances) and I am pretty sure there aren’t many of those in the general population.

          For instance, from 2014. Neenah, Wisconsin, the town mentioned in the lead of this story, has all of 3,300 people:

          Inside the municipal garage of this small lakefront city, parked next to the hefty orange snowplow, sits an even larger truck, this one painted in desert khaki. Weighing 30 tons and built to withstand land mines, the armored combat vehicle is one of hundreds showing up across the country, in police departments big and small.

          The 9-foot-tall armored truck was intended for an overseas battlefield. But as President Obama ushers in the end of what he called America’s “long season of war,” the former tools of combat — M-16 rifles, grenade launchers, silencers and more — are ending up in local police departments, often with little public notice.

          During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.

          And the Feds are giving grants:

          See also this story; “Some cops hope to get tanks back with Trump’s order allowing military equipment”. Some cops though it was reasonable to have a tank to save the life of a police dog:

          He said the tracked vehicle would have come in handy last year when deputies were after a man who ran into a wooded area. A police dog named Forest was killed after deputies opened fire on the man. Chitwood said deputies could have used the vehicle in the woods and had extra cover.

          These particular tanks are defensive, they don’t fire shells. But still…

          1. OpenthepodbaydoorsHAL

            It’s similar. Vlad’s $4700 in pro-Trump ads convinced the MSM that Russia won the election. $4700 worth of arms in the hands of desperate patriots could have a similar effect

    4. voteforno6

      That case is a bit overstated, I think. Militias had a purpose besides serving as slave patrols.

      1. justanotherprogressive

        And what would those be? Certainly Bogus isn’t the first writer to explain how useless Washington and other Generals thought the militias were when it came to battle. It is general historic knowledge that they were highly disorganized and would be more likely to flee than to fight – or even show up – when needed.

        1. Fiery Hunt

          There’s a huge difference between the role of “militia” and “standing army”. Immediate defence of your township vs. marching hundreds of miles…

          Think “Red Dawn”…(the original one! :)

    5. DJG


      I’m wondering about something else that may have gone missing. From Yoon’s article, a central paragraph:

      –Thomas Jefferson believed that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants.” These thoughts led directly to the Second Amendment, which protects the idea of armed rebellion as a limitation on governmental power. This idea is what is intended to be protected, not the physical objects of guns, whether or not in the context of a militia. But guns are now as obsolete for rebellion as the printing press is for freedom of the press.

      This idea is interesting to Yoon, who is saying, Ladies and gentlemen, choose your weapons.

      I’m wondering, though, if the founders and the second amendment are making a curious assumption that mass protest inevitably becomes violent. The founders wrote the bill of rights in the wake of Shays’s rebellion. In Quaker Pennsylvania, disputes over frontier settlements broke out into massacres of Christian, partially assimilated Indian villages. The background of much of the colonization of the future U S of A was the violence of the Reformation.

      The first amendment is visionary: No laws shall be passed impeding the populace in expressing opinion, in exercise of religion, and in assembling to protest. In fact, though, at that time in the U S, there were still restrictions on the press (both books and periodicals) that the first amendment helped to loosen. The first amendment helped to disestablish the dominant church in each state. So peaceable assembly may also have been a-borning.

      [Noting Basil Pesto’s comment: Sorry, one of the reasons that we in the U.S. don’t have a need for a new constitution is glories like the first, fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments, let alone amendments 13, 14, and 15 achieved through so much blood.]

      The second amendment is not visionary. It reads like a kind of recipe. So is it solving a problem not of weapons, but a problem that the first amendment eventually solved?

      1. Basil Pesto

        [Noting Basil Pesto’s comment: Sorry, one of the reasons that we in the U.S. don’t have a need for a new constitution is glories like the first, fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments, let alone amendments 13, 14, and 15 achieved through so much blood.]

        We may have to agree to disagree here! I’m not denying that the US Constitution isn’t a hugely important document in legal and political history, but it’s important to acknowledge that all such documents have flaws and limitations. Of course, there’s nothing saying that you have to scrap the ideas enshrined in those amendments in a potential 2nd US Constitution. Indeed, most modern international human rights documents (and many other national constitutions and/or legislations eg the Canadian Charter) protect the exact same rights that the USC articulated so well way back when. But it could certainly stand to be modernised, and perhaps have a built-in ‘living document’ section to cut reactionary and intellectually inconsistent or selective Originalism off at the pass. It would also be a good idea to ‘refresh’ the constitution as a way to possibly de-politicise (likely to a limited extent, I’ll admit) the US Supreme Court. I’m not sure how that’d work exactly but I bet there’s heaps of interesting writing out there on Constitutional drafting.

        Anyway, I guess my point is that while the US should be very proud of the Constitution as an historical document, there’s no reason not to consider the option of a new one other than sentimentality, as far as I can see. The problem is it’s kind of a part of the US’ nationalist/exceptionalist origin mythology, and as such it’s accorded a sacrosanct status more befitting of holy scripture than a legal document (although I guess that’s what scripture is… Moses schlepping around his stone tablets and that. Mind you, I don’t wanna be slain for making a cow statue. Incidentally, Saudi Arabia considers the Quran to be its constitution, if Wikipedia is anything to go by).

        Just another note regarding the first amendment, I agree that for the time it certainly was visionary, but in my opinion it is too generous. I’m very much of the Victor Frankl “no freedom without responsibility” school of thought (and I’m also fond of his frankly adorable idea to build a Statue of Responsibility off the west coast to complement the Liberty one). It’s worth pointing out that it’s now pretty standard in civil/human rights practice worldwide for bills of rights or equivalent statutes/treaties to have exceptions, in case what is being expressed is objectionable, harmful, dangerous or whatever. For example, the Canadian Charter is an interesting comparison in that regard. Of course, the scope of these exceptions is dependent on the existing jurisprudence and the integrity of the judiciary, which is an issue in itself. I personally prefer the Canadian approach to the US approach though.

    6. Daryl

      He kind of lost me at the end there. Anonymity, connection and encryption are great; we have them for the most part here in the US, but they don’t seem to be improving the state of affairs any more than the guy who thinks he can take on the USAF with some handguns.

      1. HotFlash

        take on the USAF with some handguns.

        Agree. Totally cannot be done. Well, unless you are Afghani. Or Iraqi. Or … well, any really determined people.

      2. tony

        USAF has a budget of $170 billion. Assuming productivity of 50k per worker, that is the full time labour of 3.4 million people. The fact that one person is unable to defeat 3.4 million people working against him means nothing. However, that one person could cause millions in damage to the state, which you can read as the the full time labour of tens or hundreds of workers.

  6. Wukchumni

    …about the fire season being extended?

    A few years ago in January 2014, I saw what I thought was smoke coming out of Sequoia NP in the far distance, and called the park dispatch to ask if there was a fire?

    And indeed there was-but it wasn’t in the park, it was in the Golden Trout Wilderness, adjacent to the NP. The conflagration named the Soda Fire was @ close to 7,000 feet, which is absurd for that time of year, there ought to have been 10 feet of snow on the ground, if it was a normal winter. It ended up burning through around 1,500 acres.

    “Gibbs: “As far as recorded fire history, we don’t have anything going back 80 to 100 years that’s similar to this, for this time of year for the Golden Trout Wilderness.”

    What’s that Dylan ditty?, ‘the times they are a changing’.

  7. dearieme

    Of the many oddities about the Las Vegas shooting one of the most striking is that none of the wounded have died. Tourniquets explain that, eh? Nice try, boys.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Could the real reason be that the local first responders and hospitals have prepared for mass casualty events like this one?

      1. Romancing The Loan

        Unpack the “Nice try, boys” sentiment and it’s part of an extremely wacko brand of conspiracy theory I’ve seen for several years now that only involve mass casualty events that happen in the United States: that absolutely everyone involved is an actor and it never happened. It is apparently based on the fact that law enforcement does enthusiastically and expensively practice for these sorts of events regularly with fake wounded, etc. But setting aside the immense difficulties of practically doing such a thing without anyone finding out who wasn’t supposed to, the central idea just baffles me in a fundamental way.

        If your theory is that your own government wants mass casualty events to happen for nefarious political reasons, wouldn’t it be easier to just actually kill the people? Far less risk of discovery, a zillion times cheaper. So the theory is that your government won’t balk at manipulating your democracy with huge and entirely fabricated news events but refuses to get its feet wet killing a few innocents? It’s just absurd.

        In my own more wacko moments I wonder if this idea, with its core of a weirdly snuggly fascist state that definitely would never hurt you, is a creation of one of our own intelligence agencies.

        The largest result of the Vegas shooting thus far seems to be the appalling and embarrassing display of 500 GoFundMes for the shooting victims’ healthcare. Maybe the nefarious crisis actors are trying to push us towards single payer.

        1. Kurtismayfield

          If your theory is that your own government wants mass casualty events to happen for nefarious political reasons, wouldn’t it be easier to just actually kill the people?

          Considering how often the wounded get rolled out for public events, I think of the survivors as greusome reminders to the public that this could happen to you. Therefore if the conspiracy theory is correct (I don’t think it is, I just think living in a semi free society comes with risks), then you want the most survivors possible.

        2. CalypsoFacto

          it’s part of an extremely wacko brand of conspiracy theory I’ve seen for several years now that only involve mass casualty events that happen in the United States: that absolutely everyone involved is an actor and it never happened. It is apparently based on the fact that law enforcement does enthusiastically and expensively practice for these sorts of events regularly with fake wounded, etc.

          I used to work graveyard shift (technical support) with a dude (mid-40s, white) who did too much InfoWars or something and had gotten bitten by this specific conspiracy bug. We worked a few shifts together around the Boston marathon bombing, and after I made an extremely general statement about the attack (‘Wow how awful’) dude walked me through the conspiracy in detail with links and extremely animated explanations about how it wasn’t real. At that point I realized that the appeal of the theory for this dude – and maybe in general? – is that it offers a cognitive pressure valve, so to speak, to prevent from really grappling with the reality that something that awful really did happen because someone intentionally planned it. If you believe terrorist attacks are fake then you don’t have to be upset about the body counts. Maybe there is also an element of defense against change too, like if it’s just fake, then the only thing that has to change are the perpetrators (the government or Soros or whoever they blame).

      2. justanotherprogressive

        It is a sad reality that now our emergency personnel have to be trained to the same standards as military field hospital personnel…..

      3. Bugs Bunny

        Sixteen years of war (medic vets return home and get jobs…) and an insane amount of gunshot wounds at home have helped train paramedics and ER personnel in saving people from traumatic injuries that used to be fatal.

        Maybe Mr Nice Try Boys should check into how many injured people lost limbs or eyesight.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Before the Iraq & Afghanistan wars, I think that the US military sent medics to Chicago hospitals as there were so many gunshot wounds that it was an ideal place to train military medics at for experience with such wounds.

    2. justanotherprogressive

      None of the wounded died? Didn’t 58 (or 59 depending on reports) of the the wounded die? Maybe they just all had heart attacks? /s

    3. Wukchumni

      I have a friend that worked on the Apollo moon missions, and it drives him batty, when he sees this denier nonsense in regards to whether it was faked, and yet nothing stops them from their appointed rounds of head-in-the-sandism, it’s what they do.

    4. Darthbobber

      Bloody silly. Even in my GI days, if you were hit badly and survived until the chopper came you’d usually survive. Though in what condition was another matter.

  8. Meher Baba

    magic mushroom trials ‘ similar results were found with ECT’ great!? what does that tell you!! i believe the idea is they need certain trials to go ahead in order to change the Schedule status so that proper trials can go ahead. Something like that. And it has shown great hope for rapid intervention for suicidal patients whom dont respond to anything else. Its a bit more interesting than the article states

    1. cocomaan

      Scheduling has nothing to do with science, though. Mountains of evidence exist taking place over decades about various psychedelics having medical uses.

      The Scheduling system is entirely political.

      1. Keith Howard

        My thought exactly, but which bolete? As some readers here may know, in the Rockies this August-September there was an epic crop of King boletes (B. rubriceps.)

  9. Wukchumni

    I quite like the Alice in Wonderland’ish photo of a toad on a toadstool, combined with the story on magic mushrooms in the Guardian, which had me until “but researchers warn against self medication”…

    ‘shrooms have been ingested for a long time all over the world, but only really got recognition in these United States thanks to a 1957 article in Life magazine, and then the beatniks caught on and so on and so on.

  10. Meher Baba

    re mushrooms: i intended to mean , the legal status of the fungi prevents the kinf of research they need to do in order to really see how beneficial it could be for mentally unwell people, so certain groups are raising fubding to attemot certain kinds of studirs that hope to shift the legal status for forward motion in research. i dont have an opinion or a stance just sharing what i have read

  11. vidimi

    the jim cramer interview wiith elizabeth warren was posted three weeks ago on the official cnbc youtube channel and has just over 2000 views. that’s about the same as RT.

    1. cocomaan

      My favorite part:

      Though Sanders will speak the first night, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) will deliver the convention’s keynote address.

      So the problem is that Bernie is going to give a talk, not that they hired a hyperventilating senile woman as keynote?

      1. Tom

        Two other great parts:

        A total of 60 speakers are lined up for opening day. 58 are women and two are men.

        Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand were all invited to participate but could not attend.

        Bonus great part:

        Former President Bill Clinton delivered the keynote address during Emily’s List’s 31st annual dinner and awards gala. He spoke to the Emily’s List community about the need for women’s leadership in 2016.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Don’t worry the head of Emily’s List criticized the decision to invite Bernie Sanders despite Emily’s List having invited Bill Clinton to be their own key note speaker.

      It’s astonishing how little these people understand about how the Internet works.

    3. Richard

      Jimmy is laser sharp on so many things, and funny as hell. I love his show. But something he said yesterday really bothered me. On the H. Weinstein segment, discussing Rose McGowen having her Twitter account shut down (temporarily, as it turned out) because she dared tell the truth about Weinstein, he mentioned that his account was shut down once. He told someone to go kill themselves at the end of a nasty exchange. He couldn’t believe they shut it down for that, as it’s “a figure of speech”
      Jesus Jimmy. Really?
      Disclosure: I don’t tweet and only visit Twitter when it’s linked from NC. Maybe someone who does tweet regularly can inform me, is that sort of language standard issue over there? Because I wouldn’t have any problem moderating the heck out of an invitation to suicide.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Twitter can be a rough neighborhood. There are figures of speech I wouldn’t use, and although I have said that members of some political factions should die of shame, I haven’t ever urged suicide on anyone.

        It’s not clear at all how you moderate at scale, though. Hire enough people, maybe. I don’t think they can do it algorithmically, though they will certainly try.

        1. Oregoncharles

          McGowan’s account was shut down for posting a private phone number. I would think that’s technically easy to spot.

          She was reinstated when the phone number was removed, so it looks like they were doing their job.

            1. Richard

              Daring to tell the truth to Weinstein, posting a private phone number, same thing really. Actually they even mentioned that on Dore’s show, don’t know how that breezed by me.

              1. Lambert Strether

                > Daring to tell the truth to Weinstein, posting a private phone number, same thing really

                Nonsense, unless your idea is that Twitter should become the doxxing platform of choice.

                1. Richard

                  >Daring to tell the truth to Weinstein, posting a private phone number, same thing really.
                  Lambert, I meant that as a sarcastic joke at my expense, for passing along an unsubstantiated line of thinking that was pretty far from the truth. Twitter did not censor Ms. McGowen’s content.
                  But now I remember (or think I do) that there is site rule or suggestion about marking when one uses sarcasm, since we can’t expect other users to read sarcasm through a computer screen. Like “haha” or something.
                  I can now see why this rule is there, and will mark my sarcasm next time!

                  1. Lambert Strether

                    I think it’s more that you don’t comment that often, and so I missed the irony, not being familiar with your style. Believe me, I’ve seen plenty of stuff on Twitter that’s said I would say is said with a completely straight face, except it’s meant in all sincerity. There is no site rule against irony — otherwise, I could hardly write a line! — but sometimes a /s does help.

      2. Vatch

        I’m one of those people who thinks that human overpopulation is one the most serious problems facing humanity. During discussions of this issue, the discussion sometimes degenerates to the point where the person who denies that overpopulation is a problem will say something to the effect that if I think there are too many people, then I should commit suicide. The people who make such comments are almost always either extreme religious enthusiasts, Marxists, or politically correct purists. Needless to say, most people in those groups are not so intemperate, but some are.

        Telling a person to commit suicide is not a mere “figure of speech”. Sometimes it is a genuine crime:

        1. witters

          1. “Telling a person to commit suicide is not a mere “figure of speech”. Sometimes it is a genuine crime”

          2. “Telling other people there are too many of them is not a mere “figure of speech”. Sometimes it is a genuine crime.”

          1. Vatch

            You do understand that the solution to overpopulation isn’t killing anyone, right? It’s the widespread use of affordable effective family planning — contraception. Overpopulation causes or worsens poverty, pollution, and the social stresses that lead to war. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood you, but it appears that you like poverty, pollution, and war.

  12. PlutoniumKun

    Saudi Arabia Weighs Giving Up on International Listing for Aramco Wall Street Journal. My guess is they don’t want to make the disclosures required under the securities laws of the various exchanges, a huge red flag. They claim they want to list on international exchanges later, but the price that matters to you is the IPO price, since that is when the seller gets cash. Press stories meant to reassure investors that they’ll be able to trade their shares on big exchanges are an awfully weak promise.

    This must be the least surprising surprise in years. The Saudi’s were never going to release the information that would satisfy rational investors. The whole shebang was turning into a huge grift for every financial middleman in London and New York. Even the Saudi’s must have known that the money raised would not be worth the potential embarrassment. When they still have plenty of scope for borrowing money it made no sense for them to sell Aramco.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I think that the big disclosure that the Saudi Arabians did not want to make was exactly how much oil they really have left. Years ago I read that all the estimates of how much oil still remained untapped in each country was a crock as nearly every country doubled the estimate – or more – to make their finances look really great. Saudi Arabia must be the same. What would it do for their oil position for the word to know what the true figure was? Nothing good I imagine.
      At any rate, I wouldn’t touch this listing with a ten foot barge pole. I know enough about money to know that a critical consideration for an investment is to know about the security of your investment (see “The Richest Man in Babylon”). With this country, you would be depending on the fickleness of a royal family for that and that family owns that country. Remember the name of the country? Saudi Arabia – after the family that owns it. That would be like having countries named Trump America, May England or Merkel Germany. I do not know if the trust would be there or not.

      1. Lambert Strether

        I remember reading a book titled Twilight in the Desert. The author used an interesting method: He scoured the professional publications of oil engineers who worked for Aramco (like conference presentations, and so on). He found that the subject matter of these publications was consistent with these engineers working on mature (I forget the jargon) fields; things like pumping water into the fields to float the oil to the top, or drilling into them horizontally, and stuff like that. And after a field is mature, the oil starts to run out…. And apparently there have not been new discoveries to replace the old fields. Oil experts correct me!

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I’m not an oil expert (although I’ve worked in related fields). The true extent of Saudi oil is something nobody seems to really know, except of course Aramco, and nobody really believes what they say.

          There is no doubt that the Saudi’s for years have been using a variety of methods, including injecting vast amounts of seawater into wells to maximise their well outputs. Optimists say that these have the effect of increasing the total amount of oil available for extraction. Pessimists say that these methods don’t significantly increase the amount of economically available oil, but will have the effect of ensuring that when Saudi oil peaks, instead of having a gentle decline in output over a few decades as is anticipated, you will have a sudden, catastrophic drop off.

          The key point is that Saudi oil isn’t just important because of how much they have – but because of how cheap it is to extract and process. Its the shock absorber in the world energy supply system. A significant decline in Saudi oil will not just make oil prices worldwide higher, they will make them much more unstable and unpredictable.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            You make a very astute … and frightening observation. One more fragility built in to add to all the rest. These interesting times grow ever more interesting.

          2. marku52

            Yes. Using a waterflood to force oil to the wells makes the ultimate recoverable higher, but once that water hits the well, you are done. And quickly at that. And no, there haven’t been larger replacement fields found for replacement.

          3. PlutoniumKun

            I should note, btw, that the book (by Mathew Simmons) made a number of short to medium term predictions that have not panned out. Certainly the Saudis have increased production significantly in the last couple of years – more than the pessimists thought possible. But its still an open question as to how long they can keep producing at this rate, and if they are producing by using extreme methods then the fall off could be much more severe than assumed by the markets.

        2. Vatch

          For those of us who live in regions where public transportation is deficient or nonexistent (most of the U.S., for example), we need to keep this information about the maturity of Saudi oil fields in mind. When it’s time to buy a replacement car, one should pay very close attention to vehicle fuel mileage (or kilometerage [is that a word?]). Choose a car with the very best fuel efficiency in the class of vehicles which match your needs.

          Oil is cheap now, but that could change with surprising rapidity in the future.

        3. ex-PFC Chuck

          I read that book not long after it came out about ten years ago, and was similarly impressed by the methodology. The author, Matthew Simmons, founded an energy focused investment company and ran it until his death. A few years after the publication of the book he was found dead in the hot tub at his Maine vacation home. It was ruled accidental but there have been some suggestions that there was more to it than that.

        4. Gaianne

          Lambert, you are correct. The author was Matt Simons. I believe the book came out in 2004. He predicted that Saudi production of light sweet crude oil would peak and enter decline in 2005. It did.


    2. Pookah Harvey

      Pepe Escobar seems to think that Russia is using the IPO to encroach on our relationship with the Saudis. From the Asia Times “The House of Saud bows to the House of Putin

      Meanwhile, the priority remains the OPEC / non-OPEC deal (with Russia at the forefront) to “stabilize” oil prices, clinched in November 2016 to cut production. President Putin tentatively agreed the deal could be extended beyond March 2018, something to be discussed in detail at the next OPEC meeting in Vienna in late November.

      The deal may certainly be seen as a purely strategic/economic measure to stabilize the oil market – with no geopolitical overtones. And yet OPEC is geared to become a brand new animal – with Russia and Saudi Arabia de facto deciding where the global oil markets go, and then telling the other OPEC players. It’s open to question what Iran, Algeria, Nigeria, Venezuela, among others, will have to say about this. The barely disguised aim is to bring oil prices up to a band of $60-75 a barrel by the middle of next year. Certainly a good deal for the Aramco IPO.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Years ago, I read that much of Venezuela’s reserves are “heavy” oil that is expensive to extract. Hence, as long as prices remain above $50 (more by now, I suppose, they have the world’s largest reserves.

        That’s one reason they’ve suffered so much from low oil prices – as have the Canadian oil sands. I’m sure both would be very much on board for raising the price.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Actually, I believe that it isn’t the price of extraction but the use. “Heavy sour” crude when refined produces less gas and diesel and more tarry stuff. Light sweet crude (what they have in Saudi Arabia and Iran) yields a lot of gas. The medium crude (like what they have in Russia) is used more for heating oil (and Russia’s output to Europe is used for just that).

          My understanding is that heavy sour crude isn’t very profitable at prices below $100 a barrel.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            The additional complication is that heavier crude are often added in to super light crude (such as US fracked oils) to produce a refinery friendly mix. Even with very low oil prices there is still a demand for Venezuelan crude to allow fracked (tight) oil be refined in refineries built for lighter, sweeter Gulf and Alaskan crudes in the US etc. Venezuela does indeed have vast reserves, in quantity bigger even than Saudi Arabia, but only a small fraction is likely to be economically viable, even at high prices.

  13. Wukchumni

    Saudi Arabia Looks To Shelve Aramco IPO OilPrice. Based on the FT, which may have a better grip on the state of play.

    When we got into bed with the Saudis in the 40’s, they demanded payment for their black gooey mess, in all that glitters.

    So, despite the US not being on the Au standard, we dutifully minted a couple of different sized coins in sovereign* weight @ the US Mint in Philadelphia, so as to pay them off.

    This is what they looked like:

    They became cool with payment in fiat dollars instead, eventually.

    * Sovereign has taken on a completely different designation financially as a term now, but once was the mainstay of the UK, a coin that weighed about 1/4 of an ounce.

  14. PlutoniumKun

    Only China Can Restore Stability in The Global Economy Ilargi

    I’m not always a fan of the Automatic Earths perma bear and cynical attitude, but this seems spot on.

    The US household net worth is 34% above the peak in 2007, versus 30% for nominal GDP. China’s property value may have surpassed the total in the rest of the world combined. The world is stuck in a vicious cycle of asset bubbles, low consumer inflation, stagnant productivity and low wage growth.

    Let that sink in. If Xie is right, and I would put my money on that, despite all the housing bubbles elsewhere in the world, the Chinese, who make a lot less money than westerners, have pushed up the ‘value’ of Chinese residential real estate so massively that their homes are now ‘worth’ more than all other houses on the planet. Xie returns to this point later in the article, and says: “In tier-one cities, property costs are likely to be between 50 and 100 years of household income. At the peak of Japan’s property bubble, it was about 20 in Tokyo. “.

    We’ll get back to that. But it suggests that Chinese, if they spend half their income on housing, which is probably not that crazy an assumption, must work 100 to 200 years to pay off their mortgages. Again, let that sink in.

    This is something that Michael Pettis as well as Andy Xie have been writing about for years – the huge imbalances in Chinas economy that can only be rectified by the horrible notion of actually giving ordinary Chinese people higher wages and more scope to buy things. The same of course applies to Germany in particular (which doesn’t have bubbles, it exports them to the European periphery and then lectures them on morality). It shows just how screwed up the system is that a solution that involves making the majority of people better off is so hard to implement.

    1. cnchal

      . . . the huge imbalances in Chinas economy that can only be rectified by the horrible notion of actually giving ordinary Chinese people higher wages and more scope to buy things.

      The most productive members of the Chinese economy are housed like broiler chickens in Tyson’s cages. They got nowhere to put stuff.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      200 years to pay off mortgages.

      If you want to own in China.

      Practically infinite number of years to pay off (life time rental) if you want to rent, as long as you live, anywhere in the world.

      Does it matter if you haven’t paid off your mortgage when you die?

      It’s similar to whether it matters, for a renter, if the lease still has a few months or a few years left, when he/she checks out.

    3. Vatch

      . . . the huge imbalances in Chinas economy that can only be rectified by the horrible notion of actually giving ordinary Chinese people higher wages and more scope to buy things.

      Oddly enough, or maybe not so oddly, the same is true in the United States.

  15. The Rev Kev

    Re: The Destructive Corker-Cotton Bill
    Oh, I see that this bill needs a bit of editing but no worries – I can help here. Based on the neocons plans that were in place for Iraq before the invasion of that country, I have added a few more sections to this Bill based on those plans. These are the ones that I can remember after all these years though there were others-

    Appoint a neocon as the Satrap of Iran.
    Remove all journalists to a country overseas for education. Those that “got it” would be allowed to be journalists upon return.
    Establish mega Military bases as well several satellite bases.
    Establish extraterritoriality for all troops and civil “advisors”.
    Open an Israeli Embassy in Tehran.
    Abolish the armed forces and replaced it with a 50,000 strong border guard of “vetted” candidates.
    Privatize every government owned industry in Iran and sell it to foreign investors for pennies on the dollar.
    Sell off all oil industries and infrastructure to the big oil companies. Sell oil cheaply to the west.
    Kick out any investment from non-coalition countries such as Russia, China, etc.
    Make sure that all advisors to Iran are from vetted Republicans. Any who have knowledge of Iran or speak Farsi to be excluded.
    Install a group of Iranian-Americans as the government. Even though the Iranians will see them as traitors, that will make them more dependent on you.

    I think that about covers it. Once Iran receives these modified terms of the nuclear treaty and they accept them, there should be no further problems with Iran. There – fixed it for them.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Ahh, I had forgotten the Peacock Throne. Thanks for the reminder. His son, Reza Pahlavi, is still around I heard. He’s even formed his own government-in-exile and called it the National Council of Iran. It’s good to have a hobby.

  16. JohnnyGL

    Glad to see the Seth Moulton article on here. He needs to be called out. Beltway insiders love the guy, from what I can tell.

    He seems to be almost exclusively about his own resume and completely vacuous on policy. Perfect for elite Dems. I’m sure he’ll raise tons of money and drum up very few votes.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      I live in MA, and I can’t think of one thing Moulton has done. Of course I don’t live in his district (which is an interesting mix of upper crust and blue collar), but I can’t say one thing about him. A perfect empty vessel for people to fill what they want into.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        “He claims he favors “bold ideas,” but when I pressed him for examples, he offered only vagaries:

        There are a lot of bold ideas out there. But I think it’s a little too early to see. I’m listening. I’m trying to understand what matters to people here on the ground in Iowa.”

        This is the best part of the article. Aren’t the Commoners so lucky to bask in the presence of nobility?

        I see he impressed Stanley McChrystal too, so Moulton must be a terrible human being.

        1. kurtismayfield

          His wiki is enlightening. He has the usual pedigree..grew up in a rich Boston suburb, Phillips Exeter, Harvard (BS in physics which is interesting), four tours in Iraq right after 9-11. Then Masters at Harvard, a one year stint at a railroad, ran for Congress when Tierney was weak. (For Massachusetts scandal fun read Tierney’s wiki) Has taken a legalization stand on marijuana, and anti-assault weapons stand. But he is Third way Democrat and a member of the New Democrat Coalition. So economically he is the same boring centrist.

          I would expect him to be left in culture war stuff and center right on defense and the economy. Sounds like Obama!

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            “boring centrist.”

            I believe you should replace “boring” with “vapid” or “crooked.” Obama had to be dragged on cultural issues too.



            Black voters in North Carolina favored Amendment 1 by a 2 to 1 margin. OFA’s absence from the election was a concern. Obama will support cultural issues well after its safe to do so. Even then he couched it in the language of state’s rights.

  17. georgieboy

    just curious re the WSJ story on bourgeois norms: what’s wrong with them such that many black americans would not benefit were such norms more widely embraced? for that matter, what’s wrong with such norms for all americans of any stripe? not sure i understand the “wsj is clueless” intent of the link and annotation…

    1. Andrew Watts

      It’s remarkably insensitive to say the least and I believe I’m being generous in saying that. How would bourgeois norms help the people of Flint, Michigan? If anything it was the petty mercantile values of the bourgeois which led to their plight in the first place. Amy Wax and Larry Alexander are merely deluding themselves and idealizing the past by promoting and lamenting the absence of archaic values.

      Although it’s a common occurrence in a collapsing society as a schism in the body social develops during it’s disintegration according to Arnold Toynbee,

      1. georgieboy

        bringing up the evil done in Flint, Michigan is hardly persuasive. better to ask, how might bourgeois norms help anyone in crisis?

        if one accepts, as i do, that bourgeois norms are pro-marriage, for example, one might expect that stronger families would lead to more political power. whatever his other failings, Thanks Obama ! certainly demonstrated that he understood that.

        as Robert Wright noted in The Moral Animal (1994), it remains perplexing that modern-day liberals often fail to see that formalized monogamy — a bourgeois value if ever there was one — leads to more successful life outcomes for men, women, and children on the bottom of the social heap.

        Formal and informal polygamy (called polygny when males control the market and mate with multiple females) has been the practice of more than 90% of human societies. Pre-communist China, Mughal India, the Zulu kingdom in Africa, the Inca in South America, for example, are among many polygamous societies one can think of where bourgeois norms might have made life better for our predecessors in the underclass. Mao, grand hypocrite that he was, would have personally made Clinton and Trump and even JFK probably blush, but promoted monogamy as policy amongst the cadres precisely because it led to better outcomes for the peasants in his army.

        Digression over, my “insensitive” question was driven by the apparent contradiction (to me, and likely to other students of evolution) between the lovely spirit of this website — help the little guys, call out the self-serving big guys — and the annotation for that particular link. I can only hope the original offense was a function of the source (WSJ, admittedly too often an annoying source of hypocrisy) and not the logic.

        1. Andrew Watts

          bringing up the evil done in Flint, Michigan is hardly persuasive. better to ask, how might bourgeois norms help anyone in crisis?

          I wasn’t talking about the drinking water crisis but the effect that de-industrialization and subsequent impoverishment had on it. Look at the demographics and marriage rate. Would Flint have been better off if more people lived as married couples in your average household?

          The author also promoted the idea that what made bourgeois culture superior was the economy of thrift that was a moral value and primary means of capital production of the bourgeoisie. While this might’ve been true in the past by the time of the Great Depression it can easily be dismissed as a myth. Hence the comment about archaic values.

          as Robert Wright noted in The Moral Animal (1994), it remains perplexing that modern-day liberals often fail to see that formalized monogamy — a bourgeois value if ever there was one — leads to more successful life outcomes for men, women, and children on the bottom of the social heap.

          Or perhaps it’s because only economically stable people get married.

          Digression over, my “insensitive” question was driven by the apparent contradiction (to me, and likely to other students of evolution) between the lovely spirit of this website — help the little guys, call out the self-serving big guys — and the annotation for that particular link. I can only hope the original offense was a function of the source (WSJ, admittedly too often an annoying source of hypocrisy) and not the logic.

          It was the article which was insensitive and not your inquiry. Telling the colors and the poors to be more like upper middle class white folks isn’t going to go over well. It’s going to be increasingly popular to blame America’s decline on the absence of moral values without examining the socioeconomic factors that underwrite or otherwise influence them.

          1. Richard

            Oops, somehow I missed your post Andrew, and feel a bit silly. Wait, I know what it was! I left the house for awhile, and NC was already on my browser when I got home. Scrolled down, saw the posts and decided to respond.
            Forgot to “refresh”. D’oh!

        2. Richard

          From the wording of his response, I think Mr. Watts was referring to the WSJ premise as insensitive, not your question.
          I see your point and it is well argued. But looked at from another perspective, it (the WSJ article) is nothing more than another wagging finger at black families, albeit in the form of a social engineering thought experiment. Quite a long history of that, isn’t there? Daniel Moynihan, Reagan, Bill Clinton, they all amassed political capital by telling the misleadership class what hey wanted to hear: It’s All Their Fault and You’re Off The Hook. Poverty, crime and drug abuse stemmed from a “culture” that refused to embrace “family values” and hard work. Such harmful and abusive BS that was. And as Mr. Watts points out, the bourgeois values of the owner class are pretty much predicated on having another class in permanent crisis, the rug constantly being pulled from under their feet. Not a bug, but a feature.
          And then what do we do? We lecture them for falling down.
          Thanks for your post georgieboy; I opened up some dimensions for me that I wasn’t considering.

    2. jrs

      wow that essay is actually pretty bad (behind paywall but found it anyway), I was expecting just a defense of conservative values, which are not all terrible all the time (except when they are about sex then they are loony bin worthy), but are certainly VERY limited, values that are left out often as important as those mentioned: like social and environmental responsibility. Instead did I seriously encounter an argument about whether slaves made good use of their free time or not? Oh my …

      “Nothing was more of a threat to the whole rotten institution [of slavery] than a self-disciplined slave who walked with dignity in the face of mistreatment.”

      oh my … as if enough of that and poof slavery would have just disappeared.

    3. Jeff W

      Ignoring the question of whether bourgeois values are a good or helpful thing to have, I’d say that the WSJ is clueless as to the causal relationship. The piece does some hand-waving as to the causes of “the breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture” (e.g., the Pill) but the obvious answer is that you don’t have strong middle class values when people are not in—or are falling out of—the middle class. As Benjamin Studebaker says about the WSJ piece:

      …insofar as bourgeois values have eroded, they have eroded because the middle class has eroded, and it’s the right that has eroded the middle class by destroying the complex economic systems which helped many Americans to succeed in the 50s and 60s–the unions, the public education system, the minimum wage and labor laws, the welfare state, and so on…

      1. JTMcPhee

        “Succeed.” Is that not the one word that is at the heart of the human problem?

        No “success” without someone else, usually many someone elses, “failing?”

      2. Andrew Watts

        Amy Wax and Larry Alexander’s original article, which the WSJ opinion piece basically riffed off of, pinned the blame on the upheaval of the 60s and popular culture for American decline. Which isn’t surprising given that the right-wing is represented by moralists in intellectual circles. These moralists assume that a breakdown of social values is the primary driving factor when societies decline and wouldn’t be receptive to Studebaker’s explanation.

        1. Jeff W

          Andrew Watts

          Amy Wax and Larry Alexander’s original article…pinned the blame on the upheaval of the 60s and popular culture for American decline…These moralists assume that a breakdown of social values is the primary driving factor when societies decline and wouldn’t be receptive to Studebaker’s explanation.

          Yeah, I guess I view most of what happened in the 1960s as a good thing and so that view is alien to me. (When President Obama, in January 2008—well, before he was elected president—mentioned “all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s” I found it difficult to view his framing as anything other than right-wing.)

          And talk of “a breakdown in social values” always strikes me as inanely acausal—it’s kind of like saying “Well, you know, the problem is that people are behaving badly” as some sort of “explanation” for their behavior.

          Certainly the Pill and the Vietnam War changed people’s behavior but to draw a line from those things to adherence to some bourgeois script that promoted “a mature, prosperous adult society” seems a bit absurd. (One would think that access to better birth control and the protesting of pointless wars would be indicators, not eroders, of “a mature, prosperous adult society” but people differ, I suppose.) So maybe I am more receptive to Studebaker’s take than Wax and Alexander might be.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Oh my, yes. Got it in one there. No Cheap Energy and all that stuff goes away to be replaced – by what?

    4. Vatch

      Often when the word “bourgeois” pops up, there is uncertainty about what is actually meant. Some people think that it means “middle class”, but historically, the bourgeoisie were very rich commoners. In the extreme cases, they became richer than most members of the nobility. In a country without noble titles, such as the United States, ultra rich people such as John D. Rockefeller or the more recent Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos would be at the pinnacle of the bourgeoisie. Of course, they are also aristocrats and oligarchs.

      The phrase “petite bourgeoisie” refers to the middle class. If one is referring to the middle class, it is probably better to just say “middle class” rather than any variation of “bourgeois” or “bourgeoisie”.

    5. marym

      Decisions like off-shoring industry, neglecting infrastructure, gentrification, austerity measures cutting back on services like education and healthcare, are made by people who would consider themselves subscribing to “bourgeois norms.”

      These decisions then have devastating effects on communities – black and other demographics – where people have been aspiring to and achieving the stable communities and families, employment, home ownership, education, etc. supposedly associated with those “norms.”

  18. Synoia

    You’re wrong about Second Amendment rights Medium (Glenn F). Important.

    This articles in framed in current thinking and not in the history of the time.

    The Second amendment’s purpose is to provide a body of men trained to use arms, but not a body a of men trained in the use of arms assembled in a threat to the state, a standing army.

    Latin America’s sad history clearly demonstrates the threats to Civilian rule from Standing Armies, especially when the standing armies are supported by a neighbor inimical to the ideas and policies of the civilian government.

    Honduras, Guatemala, Chile, and a panoply of African nations come to mind without the use of Mr Google.

    One can point to the US’ deep state or MIC to understand the absolute menace a standing army becomes to Civil Rule. All our freedoms subverted since the end of WW II and exacerbated by 9/11/2001 are driven by arms of the “standing army.”

    Countries need armies. A standing army is a threat to the state, to the King to be precise, a threat the English were very familiar with, and had just endured in the English Civil War, the war of the roses, and the overthrow of the House of York, (Richard III) by the Henry Tudor (Henry VII) — leading to the insecurities of Henry VIII, whose rules are curiously paramount today.

    Which makes understanding the History key to behavior, or “Those who don’t know their History are condemned to Repeat It.”

  19. Wukchumni

    ‘Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law’ Bill Moyers
    I can’t recommend “I Will Bear Witness” enough…

    A Jewish-German’s clandestine diary from 1933 to 1945. Victor Klemperer was a critical thinker and it’s a day by day account of goings on within the reich.

    He was a university professor in Dresden, and slowly but sure the Nazis take everything away from him, including his cat.

  20. ambrit

    I flirt with ‘Moderation’ here, but I feel obligated to mention something not in the links today.
    I shop at Sears on occasion. I’m on their ‘mailing’ list and thus receive spam from Sears. Today’s example touts driving for Uber as a way to receive “Cashback Points.” Sears is teamed up with Uber!!!??? That’s a marriage made in H—! I can visualize the two ‘Mercantile Powers’ clutching frenziedly to each other as they circle the toilet bowl prior to disappearing down the ‘Economic Memory Hole.’
    Just my Number Two scents.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Last year’s South by Southwest also teamed up with Uber, giving a middle finger to the cab drivers who have put up with hauling clusters of drunken revelers all over the city since the festival began. It seems to be the new fad. And let us not forget the DNC likewise made a deal with Uber in Philly last year.

      1. ambrit

        What I don’t see is the “money trail” that links Uber to any of these associations. South by Southwest I can sort of see, considering that demo’s enamoration with anything “cutting edge” futuristic. The DNC??? Would this be a trial balloon by the Party for the repeal of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution? (No longer purely snark, I assure you all.)

      1. ambrit

        I’d be curious to see just how that debt overhang developed.
        Competition from online sales will bite up until the costs of shipping all those widgets and muffler bearings becomes a major cost, as in when the price of oil truly surges. Then, online might continue, but regional pick up hubs, as in brick and mortar outlets, will return to their true prominence. (I’m assuming that the superiority of bulk transport versus individual item transport is not somehow repealed.) Moving something from point A to point B takes energy. Check on any e-bay ad under the price, where it says ‘shipping.’ Add that to the price for the true cost.

        1. JTMcPhee

          There’s been a lot that is very wrong with Sears for a very long time. There’s a whole literature on the phenomenon from many different perspectives. Here’s on link, Many more if one searches on “how sears failed” and “why sears failed.” Those produce different spectrums albeit with some overlap. Seems it’s largely a story of “ugly,” brought to us by the great American business model, enhanced by the worst kinds of corporate bureaucracy…

        2. LyonNightroad

          Other than order size, It’s not immediately clear to me why putting items on a delivery truck and planning an efficent route would use more energy than a bunch of individuals driving to the store each in their own 4000lb vehicle.

          1. Oregoncharles

            It’s who pays. The cost of the delivery truck goes on the price, the cost of individual vehicles does not.

            There are also side benefits: once at the depot to pick up an order, the customer is likely to find something else to buy.

            However, these factors have not saved Sears from itself.

    2. audrey jr

      Thanks, ambrit. Got the same email from Uber/Sears last night. What the family blog was all I could muster upon receipt of that ditty. There is a special place in hell for Eddie Lampert and Travis Kalanick.
      My grandmother had Rheumatoid Arthritis and was in a wheelchair. She was unable to go to shop for herself and we lived in rural western N.C. so we used the Sears catalog regularly when I was a kid. It was a bright day for my little brother and I when that catalog arrived in the mail. We used the catalog to pick out our Christmas wish list and Sears was good about publishing the catalog well ahead of the next fashion season. So were Penney’s and Montgomery Ward for that matter.

      1. ambrit

        Oh my! The catalogues! Real fun to see what was available. The catalogues were important to us city dwellers too audrey jr. The more ‘frugal’ of us could match budget to available product at leisure at home before setting off to the store. Far fewer ‘impulse’ purchases.
        Did you notice the type of “character” the visual part of the ad had? Mine was an older, somewhat ‘nerdy’ looking white man. Was yours the same, or ‘tailored’ to your profile? I’m really interested in how granular these ads are getting.

        1. JTMcPhee

          I have a reprint of the 1903 Sears catalog. Victoriana brought to the Colonies. You could buy a whole house, timber built or masonry, as a giant kit, delivered by rail and wagon. And the guns! All types and calibers and ammo too!

          But to a young man, the best part was “corsets and lingerie” — ink drawings, not the photos of later years, but those perfect curves and pouty lips!

          My ex grew up on a hardscrabble farm in western Wisconsin. The massive Sears catalogs served dual purposes in the family privy ( no soft indoor plumbing for that lot)-/ reading, and the other thing.

          America the Beautiful!

          1. Oregoncharles

            There’s a handsome example of a Sears prefab house in the next town over. Of course, this was really the sticks then.

      2. Wukchumni

        Our Sears xmas catalog would be dogeared by Halloween, I can still see Ted Williams pitching sporting goods in it, in my mind.

  21. Terry Flynn

    “never trust the polls”

    Indeed. I used a model that probably isn’t from a discipline NC follows and I made money at the bookies on the general election because I knew her majority was toast. PlutoniumKun engaged with me about the detail and asked far more insightful questions than the academics I used to deal with but unfortunately it’s too much of a niche area generally for NC.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I’d love to say I understood your techniques, but I’m pretty sure the maths is beyond me!

      I would like to repeat that I think what you say has potential for an article here.

    1. ambrit

      Hmmm… I noticed that the “layoffs” at Tesla were concentrated in the sales and administrative sectors of the workforce. Do the Tesla upper managers prostrate themselves before the altar of “performance metrics?” If so, then I could see the sales division of Tesla looking and sounding like the boiler room office in “Glengarry Glen Ross.” If so, poor sods. Getting the axe might be the best thing that has happened to them in a long time.

    2. ewmayer

      From the SJ Merc piece:

      “Tesla said the performance-based departures were not considered layoffs and not subject to state notifications.”

      LOL, ‘performance-based departures’ … somehow that made me think of this famous exchange:

      ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

      ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

      ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’

        1. Wukchumni


          Tesla reminds me of this failed auto company from the 70’s…

          From Wiki:

          “The Twentieth Century Motor Car Corporation was an automobile company started by con-artist Geraldine Elizabeth Carmichael in 1974. The company’s flagship vehicle was the Dale, a prototype three-wheeled two-seater sports car designed and built by Dale Clifft. It was touted as being powered by an 850 cc air-cooled engine and featuring 70 mpg.”

  22. Peronella

    An analysis of voter turnout in Catalonia:

    This supports Sue’s comment yesterday, with which I agree re the supposed anti independence majority in Catalonia. You have to wonder why if – as was said repeatedly before the vote – there was truly an 8 point spread against independence, Madrid didn’t allow and even encourage the referendum? An 8 point spread is formidable, and, if true, would have settled the independence issue for several generations.

    The more likely scenario is that Rajoy’s internal polling of likely referendum results were against them. The 8 point polling in Madrid’s favor, spread far and wide among Spanish papers, El País being the propaganda arm of the PP was merely that, propaganda and manipulation.

    1. Ruben

      Thanks for that. I see that according to parliamentary elections in 2015 (i) those parties clearly for independence make up for 43.1% of the vote, (ii) those parties clearly opposed to independence constitute 38.9% of the vote, and the other big group is (iii) CSQEP which got 8.9% of the vote. Since CSQEP is the Catalan version of the Spanish left (Podemos) and they have been supporting that a referendum takes place to decide the issue of independence, the most parsimonious hypothesis is to split CSQEP’s vote evenly into the two camps, giving 48% pro and 43% against. There is a remainder of 9.1 not accounted for in the three blocks above. The pro cam would need just 23% of the remainder to win if the matter were to be decided by the ballot box. In any case it is clear that the pro camp has a higher chance to win and that the hypothesis of a silent majority against independence seems unfounded.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > a silent majority against independence

        That’s never been my position. I feel that given the gravity of the decision, something like a super-majority of eligible voters should be a requirement; it would be insane to secede based on a 50%-plus-one vote. So when I see 48% to 43% (plus a smidge) of actual (not eligible) voters, I think caution is warranted. There’s a high price to pay in terms of irrendentism, exile, broken families, etc., and all for nationalism, too, not a human motivation I rate very high.

        1. Ruben

          Fair enough, but I suggest keeping an open mind about nationalism. To me it was something I never held in high regard either but upon closer examination, if it leads to smaller, more homogeneous states (as in the case of Catalonya), I expect those smaller states to be closer to the citizens, more accountable, doing less evil, attracting better career politicians, and generally behaving in a more civilized manner.

          I totally disagree with the super-majority idea (akin to super-delegates, just kidding), there has to be an objective, non-arbitrary cutoff, and the 50-50 cutoff for a yes-no split at least resembles something non-arbitrary.

  23. D

    PG&E is a serial menace to public health and safety. Why hasn’t it been put out of business?

    One answer is a Fourth Estate which does not provide for/and or won’t ‘entertain’ anonymity for little people who would get crushed for their whistleblowing if not anonymous. That Estate only arrives after tragedy has struck (which brings them more profit than nipping things in the bud.) (Please note, I’m generally referring to the Owners and VIPs of that Fourth Estate.)

    Another is that California’s elected State and Federal politicians – along with way too many ‘Local’ politicians – have nothing whatsoever in common with those ‘little people.’

    Lastly, a large part of that answer has to do with the Governor and his Governor elected California Public Utilities Commission [CPUC] which has been corrupt for decades, likely it’s entire history.

    For those interested, some good articles on the CPUC corruption can be found at:

    and (Michael Picker is the current California Utilities Commission President appointed by Governor Brown after there was utterly no choice – as in the San Bruno Tragedy – but to get rid of the previous president, Michael Peevey)

    A few suggested articles of interest at those ‘link tags’:

    09/26/17 By Alastair Bland, EAST BAY EXPRESS, Brown’s Controversial Choice for Top Regulatory Agency Affirmed – The state Senate recently OK’d the governor’s pick — a longtime aide who helped fire other regulators for trying to stop oil companies from polluting California’s groundwater.

    09/22/17 By Liza Tucker, Senate Completes Creation of “Brown Utility Commission,” Neutering PUC Independence With Confirmation Of Governor’s Former Top Aide Who Fired Oil And Gas Safety Regulators At Behest Of Occidental Petroleum

    05/24/16 By Jamie Court & Liza Tucker, PUC Papers Site Reveals 100,000 Plus Internal Emails and Documents That Shine Light On Utilities Corruption Ring During Governor Brown Era

    12/17/15 By Marisa Lagos & Lisa Pickoff-White, KQED Public Radio/TV San Francisco, CA, Critics Say Gov. Brown Isn’t Delivering on Reform at Troubled CPUC

    Three years old but still relevant as to how the Governor Elected CPUC operates:

    07/03/14 By Jaxon Van Derbeken State fires lawyer who pursued PG&E’s pipeline records [Re the 2010 San Bruno Tragedy – D]

    The California Public Utilities Commission has abruptly fired a state lawyer who was pressing Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to account for which gas pipelines it failed to test before the San Bruno disaster, The Chronicle has learned.

    Robert Cagen was one of the commission’s lead attorneys in a regulatory case against PG&E that could result in $2.5 billion in fines and penalties for violations related to the 2010 natural-gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes in San Bruno.

    Cagen was fired one day after the commission’s legal staff backed away from his effort to make PG&E account for which lines it tested with high-pressure water before the September 2010 explosion.

    Sources said Cagen was fired after he protested the decision. PG&E attorneys have resisted turning over the information and recently warned that doing so could further delay a resolution of the long-pending regulatory case.
    Critics of the commission said the dismissal of Cagen – who had a 35-year track record of handling regulatory cases with the agency – was the latest evidence that the agency is overly cozy with the utility it regulates.
    Out of retirement
    Cagen was retired but brought back to the commission’s legal staff to handle cases involving PG&E after the San Bruno blast.

    He has clashed with utilities commission management before. In June 2013, he and several other safety-division attorneys disagreed with a management recommendation that PG&E not be fined for the San Bruno explosion, and were briefly removed from the case.

    They were reinstated after the dispute became public, and the commission agreed to pursue fines.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      California can afford them politicians (from above: Another is that California’s elected State and Federal politicians – along with way too many ‘Local’ politicians – have nothing whatsoever in common with those ‘little people.’), because California is like those Medieval robber barons on the Rhine…we profit from the hollowing out of the industrial heartland of America. We charge for loading and unloading of cargoes, for moving them through the state and out to the rest of the country.

      And when money moves back from overseas, it is often parked here.

      It also helps to have many from around the world wanting to start at the lowest rung of upward mobility ladder, so often (but not always) there are someone worse than you (though they may pass you later).

      As such, many problems can be easily overlooked… for a while.

    2. audrey jr

      Break up these private utility companies and bring back the Public Utility model. We CA taxpayers need to start holding the PUC in Sacramento responsible since they are not doing their jobs. Unconscionable bunch of bureaucrats. PG&E still haven’t paid the fines for the last huge fire they started. As for power line maintenance don’t make me laugh. I watched them completely ignore all the overgrown trees, etc. on their power lines in my Santa Rosa neighborhood for decades now.

      1. Oregoncharles

        The lawsuits from the current fires should be enough to bankrupt them.

        Then they’d be available cheap.

      2. Oregoncharles

        You’re in Santa Rosa? Are you and your home OK? It isn’t clear from here how extensive the damage is.

  24. Will Eizlini

    regarding wildfires, i’ve read articles that talk about the tradition in north america of stopping all fires. perhaps that’s changed. I’ve read (again somewhere) that the American and Canadian First Nations who lived in or near forested areas would start small fires, to clear accumulation of fallen wood.

    It also needs to be said that within lifecycles of pine trees, there are special cones that only open by heat of fire, meaning that the tree populations themselves need occasional fires to regenerate. perhaps this has changed but there are several cases of protected old growth forests that end up decaying and dying en masse because of the need for fire.

    it would be interesting to see to what extend rangers have implemented controlled fires in the forest management process in the last 30 or so years… (i’ve also heard forest fires were used as an excuse to harvest protected forests, since they were partially burned…. that’s cheating)

    1. Wukchumni

      A good many indian tribes all over North America would set fire to the understory every fall without fail. It cleared out the brush and allowed for new growth and better hunting possibilities, as animals were attracted to vegetation and allowed for easier access to them.

      When the first white men saw California, it had the look of a park, as there wasn’t any buildup of duff and fallen wood on the ground.

      Here’s a link:

      The largest living things in the world need fire to open it’s diminutive pine cone containing tiny seeds and this wasn’t recognized until the 1960’s, so for well over a century, our policy of stopping every last fire was detrimental to future sequoia trees growing, but now it’s pretty common to set prescribed burns in groves in the National Park here, every once in awhile.

    2. polecat

      Knobcone pine forest stands (mostly in the coastal ranges), in fact, need heat from relatively low heat fires (not crown fires), in orde for their mature cones to release their seed, with corresponding Sierra Nevada species needing the same, or similar conditions. Really hot crown fires destroy more seed than is dispersed.
      But only YOU can prevent low-level rejuvenating forest fires, thus f#cking up eons of forest ecology … so say the EXPERT BUEAUCRATS ! … AND the NIMBYS !!

  25. Ned

    Look at the table of fire causes in the Deadliest Fires table. “Powerlines” a major cause.
    The San Francisco Chronicle has reported multiple calls to fire departments about power lines arcing as trees brushed them in high but not unprecedented winds.
    The California Public Utilities Commission has demanded that Pacific Gas and Electric preserve all evidence of calls to them about fires starting (due to deferred and thus less expensive maintenance of their lines.)

    “The PG&E FIRE” seems an appropriate name for this disaster.

    The truly important news today is that PG&E stock has seriously dropped in value. There go the bonuses to PG&E executives. I guess they will have to make do with a little less.

    1. Vatch

      Look on the bright side. Maybe PG&E can buy back some stock, thereby raising its price, and their executives can receive their bonuses after all! :-) /s

    2. cnchal

      . . .There go the bonuses to PG&E executives . . .

      Can’t they just borrow billions to prop up their share price with buybacks?

      On teevee, they make it seem like everywhere got torched and then on the other side of the freeway from an aerial shot is an untouched neighborhood.

      It would be ironic, if tree trimming maintenance deferred due to budget cuts was the cause of this disaster.

      1. Wukchumni

        I was walking through Rancho Bernardo (a SD suburb) with a friend about 10 years ago after the fire destroyed so many homes there, and the capriciousness of a wildfire is such, that in some cases he showed me as we were walking around the ‘hood, every other house burned to the ground and the ones in between were spared.

        Looking at the ‘before’ photo of Coffey Park in Santa Rosa, there didn’t seem to be excessive vegetation/trees, it could’ve been in any residential neighborhood in California in terms of what you’d find in that regard, methinks. But, pretty much a clean sweep in terms of taking out every house.

    3. Michael

      From the Sacramento Bee on the Redwood Fire in Mendocino County:

      But Allman (Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman) said witnesses in his county saw the start of the Redwood Fire early Monday that has since burned more than 34,000 acres.

      “In 65 mph winds, a tree fell in Potter Valley, knocking over a power line, and it sparked a fire that went up the mountainside and went down into Redwood Valley around 1:30 a.m. Monday morning,” Allman said. “Cal Fire said we had gone 16 days in a row with low humidity … Here, the swath of fire was 10 miles wide.”

  26. D

    Re (from my comment above, emphasis mine):

    The California Public Utilities Commission has abruptly fired a state lawyer who was pressing Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to account for which gas pipelines it failed to test before the San Bruno disaster, The Chronicle has learned.

    On August 31, 2011, just 9 days short of the first anniversary of the San Bruno Explosion:

    09/01/11 Another PG&E blast draws feds’ attention – Condo destroyed after leaking PG&E line explodes

    Federal investigators are looking into the explosion of a leaky Pacific Gas and Electric Co. gas line that devastated a Cupertino condominium, officials said Thursday.

    It took PG&E crews about an hour and a half to cut the flow of gas after the explosion and fire ripped through the condo at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, just 15 minutes after its owner had left for lunch.

    No one was hurt, but the condo is a total loss.

    When crews examined the 2-inch plastic distribution pipe feeding smaller lines running into and around the condo at 20299 Northwest Square, they found a total of seven leaks, PG&E said.

    The explosion came just one day after PG&E was harshly criticized by the National Transportation Safety Board for its handling of gas safety in light of the San Bruno blast last year that claimed eight lives, and a 2008 explosion outside a home in Rancho Cordova (Sacramento County) that killed its 72-year-old owner.

    In both disasters, regulators took issue with the length of time it took PG&E to shut off the gas.
    PG&E officials acknowledged that it took crews until 2:30 p.m., two hours after the explosion, to shut off the gas. Fire officials said the company’s workers had arrived about 30 minutes after the first report of an explosion.

    Rooms in flames
    Santa Clara County fire Capt. Gil Smith said he had arrived soon after the blast to see that the garage door of the condo unit was blown off and several rooms were in flames. The blaze inside was quickly put out, but the fire continued to burn at spots near where the gas was leaking in front of the unit, he said.

    Smith said PG&E crews had to dig with a backhoe in three places on the line before finally managing to pinch off the gas flow. The Fire Department’s chief, Ken Kehmna, said PG&E did not have a nearby central shutoff valve that could stop the flow quickly.
    PG&E came under sharp criticism from the National Transportation Safety Board for having only manual shutoff valves instead of automatic devices on the much larger transmission pipeline that exploded in San Bruno nearly a year ago.

    Capping the lines
    Distribution pipes such as the one in Cupertino may not have shutoff valves nearby, PG&E officials say. Often, that means the flow can be stopped only by digging down and capping the line.

    And Lord knows what sort of PG& E (and others) malfeasance has gone on with the thousands of Condos (majority non resident owned?) and Apartment Homes™ which have been slapped up in no time around Silicon Valley in the last five years to accommodate the Google/Facebook/Apple Company County of Santa Clara and its near future utter gentrification.

    On a related note:
    I drove through Sunnyvale (which neighbors the wealthier, more westward, Cupertino) from Highway 101 through Fair Oaks/Wolfe Road the other day; per the flashing road signs: there has been – and will be – till Halloween (at the earliest), quite large PG&E crews digging in the vicinity of the as yet unopened , horrid looking, Apple 2 Campus in Sunnyvale.

    Quite a bit of Santa Clara County looks like it is being disemboweled for a new sort of permanently transient resident, utterly at the mercy of insane rents and housing costs. Mostly insane rents; Silicon Valley (Santa Clara County) communities are now loaded with more renters (with historically no power against property owners) than homeowners, as residents. Once Google (and possibly Amazon after that) takes over in San Jose, I’m guessing that San Jose may, for the first time, ‘sport’ more renters than Property Owners.

  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Should international organizations, even financial or economic ones, be adjusted for GDP (one unit of GDP, one certain fraction of vote), or for population (one person, one certain fraction of vote)?

    Should populous countries, say Indonesia, have more votes than say, Iceland, at the UN, for example?

    Mnuchin call for sweeping IMF and World Bank reform Financial Times. I should write on this because it is world class horrible and embarrassing, except I think this also has zero chance of getting done, at least as far as the IMF is concerned (I’m not up to speed on World Bank governance). For the IMF, this looks like a last-gasp effort for the US to throw its weight around in a world where it isn’t as important to be and has alienated lots of allies. The US has only about 1/6 of the votes at the IMF. Europe has about 1/3, which is a source of great unhappiness to the rest of the world, since in terms of GDP weight, the US and Europe are overrepresented.

  28. Propertius

    The US has only about 1/6 of the votes at the IMF. Europe has about 1/3, which is a source of great unhappiness to the rest of the world, since in terms of GDP weight, the US and Europe are overrepresented

    How do you figure that? My back of the envelope calculation says the US GDP is about 23.7% of GWP.

    The US quota for IMF contributions is 17.46%, but its proportion of votes is only 16.52% (

    Either way, it seems to me that the US is either grossly (based on GDP) or slightly (based on contribution percentage) underrepresented (and also that its contribution percentage should be raised).

  29. Wukchumni

    “But for what end do you pile up riches gathered through torments such as these, when it is plain madness and sheer lunacy to live in want that you may be wealthy when you die? Meantime, while your purse is full to bursting, your love of gain grows as much as the money itself has grown, and the man who has none of it covets it the least. And so when one country house is not enough for you, you buy a second; then you must extend your boundaries, because your neighbor’s field seems bigger and better than your own; you must buy that too, and his vineyard, and the hill that is thick and grey with olive-trees. And if no price will persuade the owner to sell, you will send into his green corn by night a herd of lean and famished cattle, with wearied necks, who will not come home until they have put the whole crop into their ravenous bellies; no sickle could make a cleaner job! How many bewail wrongs like these can scarce be told, nor how many fields have been brought to the hammer by such outrages.”~~

  30. Odysseus

    “They dropped the whole thing on top of us,” says Navajo Nation chairman Russell Begaye. Each salary derived from NGS probably supports 20 to 30 people, he says—and at $141,500, on average, it is seven times greater than the median salary on the reservation. Already the poverty rate among the Navajo is three and a half times the national mean. “If we knew five years ago that they were going to be shutting down, we would have been ready.”

    You did know five years ago. It’s not possible to live in a nation where “War on Coal” is a political meme and not know.

  31. Oregoncharles

    Since this is a finance site, a followup to the discussion of PG&E’s roll in the fires, from the sidebar to the Register-Guard article on the new Oregon retirement plan:

    “California utility shares tank after notice on wildfire evidence

    LOS ANGELES — Pacific Gas and Electric Co. shares plummeted 10.5 percent Friday, after state regulators directed the company to preserve any evidence of failed poles, conductors or other equipment that might be connected to Northern California wildfires that killed 35 people.

    The steep, one-day fall means the value of California’s largest utility, or market capitalization, dropped about $3.5 billion, from $33.1 billion to $29.6 billion.”

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