Links 10/20/17

Human attention affects facial expressions in domestic dogs Scientific Reports

Domestication has not made dogs cooperate more with each other compared to wolves Science Daily

Software Hasn’t Come Close to Eating the World Barry Ritholtz, Bloomberg

AI Experts Want to End ‘Black Box’ Algorithms in Government WIRED

Uncle Sam is not going to smash Silicon Valley The Week

This Is What Really Happens When Amazon Comes to Your Town Politico (Re Silc).

US cities shower Amazon with offers of tax breaks FT

Lyft Is Said to Explore I.P.O. as It Raises $1 Billion Led by Alphabet NYT

RMI Reveals Greatest Banking Threat is Farm Foreclosures AgWeb. “The [Rural Mainstreet Index] survey showed almost one in 10 bankers expect farm foreclosures to be the greatest challenge to banking operations over the next five years.”

A Stock Market Panic Like 1987 Could Happen Again Robert Shiller, NYT


China central bank chief warns of ‘Minsky moment’ FT

Game to give most ‘applause’ for Xi speech a smash hit in China South China Morning Post

Infrastructure, not speculation, explains China’s corporate debt Asia Times vs. China’s debt woes need more of the spotlight Asia Times

“Blood and Silk: Power and Conflict in Modern Southeast Asia” by Michael Vatikiotis Asian Review of Books

North Korea

If Kim Jong-un suddenly dies, don’t ask me about it, says CIA chief South China Morning Post

Let’s Walk This Through: If North Korea Launches An ICBM, Then… Defense One


Iran’s Khamenei: We’ll observe Deal if Europe does, despite “Charlatan,” Trump Informed Comment (Re Silc).

Saudi Arabia’s Footprints in Southeast Asia The Diplomat


Trick or treat? David Davis is set to step up ‘no deal’ Brexit plans with Halloween briefing for Cabinet on potential ‘benefits’ Daily Mail

EU sees path to ‘sufficient progress’ on Brexit but it’s no sure thing Politico

Merkel sends positive signal to May on Brexit talks Reuters

Transition troubles loom for Brexit Britain FT

Thinking of Richard Wilbur and Molière While Listening to Emmanuel Macron Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker. Peak centrism, sad to say.

Venice wants its money back, not independence Agence France Presse


Spanish Cabinet to meet on Saturday to activate emergency rule in Catalonia El Pais

Puigdemont threatens to activate independence declaration if Madrid ‘persists in impeding dialogue’ The Local

EU leaders back Spain in Catalan crisis Catalan News

New Cold War

Executives of Firm Tied to Trump Dossier Take the Fifth at Committee Meeting Bloomberg (Furzy Mouse).

House (of Representatives) Negroes Rally Against Russia Black Agenda Report

FBI informant blocked from telling Congress about Russia nuclear corruption case, lawyer says The Hill

CIA director distorts intelligence community’s findings on Russian interference WaPo. “Findings” are precisely what the intelligence community did not provide.

Vladimir Putin Meets with Members of the Valdai Discussion Club. Transcript of the Plenary Session of the 14th Annual Meeting Valdai Discussion Club

Russia Is Using Marxist Strategies, and So Is Trump Cass Sunstein, Bloomberg. Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink. See footnote 1. It’s the best ever.

When Soviet ideals met international reality Le Monde Diplomatique

Trump Transition

The Senate Has Passed the GOP’s $4 Trillion Budget Blueprint Time

Top Senate Republican urges only ‘some’ tax reform this year McClatchy

Trump Plans to Make It Easier to Kill Civilians with Drones. Sadly, We Can Thank Obama for That. Foreign Policy in Focus (Re Silc).

Kelly takes responsibility for Trump’s alleged comment to fallen soldier’s mother McClatchy

Trump’s Generals Had a Very Emotive Day Roll Call. The question of whether we should be in Niger at all seems to be lost in this discussion. Odd.

Without Saying ‘Trump,’ Bush and Obama Deliver Implicit Rebukes NYT. The rehabilitation of George W. Bush continues apace.

An Idiot’s Guide to Running Trump Out of Office Vanity Fair (Re Silc). On the 25th Amendment route.

Trump: Conservatism’s Reckoning With Nemesis The American Conservative

Nationalism without a nation Elizabeth Bruenig, Medium

The truth about Congress and financial conflicts WaPo

Democrats in Disarray

D.N.C. Chair Purges Dissenters in Surprise Shake-Up Vanity Fair. Perez doing what he was hired to do. Film at 11.

2016 Post Mortem

Rigged: How Voter Suppression Threw Wisconsin to Trump Mother Jones. A good round-up, but missing (here and in the entire discourse) is how this could happen, 16 years after Jebbie’s voter-suppressing felon’s list purge in Florida 2000. Isn’t it a little late for outrage?

Health Care

Regular Order? Maybe Not For Alexander-Murray Bill Roll Call

State Attorneys General Ask Court For Injunction Reversing CSR Payment Halt Health Affairs

Imperial Collapse Watch

The U.S. Military – Pampered, Safe And Very Scared Moon of Alabama

Class Warfare

University of Chicago Graduate Students Vote to Unionize The Chicago Maroon

Engulfed in Opioid Deaths, Ohio Turns to Science Scientific American

The Dangerous Myth of ‘Taxpayer Money’ Splinter

Pollution killing more people than war and violence, says report Deutsche Welle

The first floating wind turbines just came online, which is very good news, indeed Grist

Oroville Dam repair costs will top $500 million AP

Discovery of 50km cave raises hopes for human colonisation of moon Guardian

Self-organisation of small-world networks by adaptive rewiring in response to graph diffusion Scientific Reports. Dense, but important when you realize that both Facebook’s social graph, and the real relationships for which that graph is a proxy, can both be represented by “small-world” networks.

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.


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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. DJG

      Lupemax: Don’t forget Geoffrey Stone, who went to Washington to ascertain that the surveillance state was not too burdensome. And, quelle surprise, a former colleague of Obama at UofChicago [trademark] Law & Economics School found nothing untoward. Even though he served on the board of the ACLU!

      There are times when I recall why Chairman Mao sent a bunch of academics to the countryside to dig up turnips. Not that I would want a repeat of that, but I do understand Mao’s motive.

    2. Lee

      Russia Is Using Marxist Strategies, and So Is Trump Cass Sunstein, Bloomberg. Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink. See footnote 1. It’s the best ever.

      Most of the comments are brutal and many incisive. Well worth a peek. Could have been written by some of the regulars here at NC.

      1. hemeantwell

        As scurrilous as it is, her take on “heightening the contradictions” is pale compared to that of Juan Cole in one of his more smeary centrist screeds at Informed Comment. There he referred to how the pre-revolutionary Stalin thought that terror bombing of civilians might accomplish the goal, which in Cole’s mind amounted to an absolute condemnation of the strategy. Cole conveniently forgot to google around and discover that MLK had also used the term favorably.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      Sunstein as he looks for patterns in Trump’s behavior and attempts to compare him to Marx seems to be suffering from pareidolia.

      Next he’ll be telling us he saw Obama’s visage in the foam of Samantha Powers’ latte.

    4. cat's paw

      The footnote Lambert referenced in the link to Susstein: “I am giving a brisk summary of some famously complex and ambiguous arguments from both Marx and Lenin.”

      Okay, Cass.

      The open, shameless mendacity, the apparently totalizing lack of conscience or even the faintest sense of intellectual integrity, PR discourse as world-triumphant epistemological truth….
      I don’t know, I saw it coming and yet the depths and pervasiveness continues to do my head in daily. And what really eats at me is my own implication, participation, and complicity. I despise all of it, only to rediscover on a daily basis that I really just despise myself in it.

      Some 17th century Ottoman geographer, the name of whom I cannot remember nor find, wrote the following when he realized where the ruling political order was headed: “Henceforth, the world will be seen through the eyes of oxen.”

      On the plus side, Nietzsche claimed that times of political decadence, disorder, and decline were usually coupled to rare cultural singularities and new creative possibilities.

      Have fun out there.

    5. witters

      You have to be given a literal cashout to really grasp a metaphor. Now I know what “brainfart” means. Thanks Cass.

  1. Altandmain

    So about the Bernie Sanders supporters purge from the DNC, they seemed to be doubling down on the failed strategy.

    They are pushing people to this third party strategy:

    The Bernie base will have no reason to show up. Perhaps only a handful of people in the Democratic Party are worth a vote. Only place worth going to vote is to Primary these corrupt politicians. Only if the Berniecrat wins is it worth voting in the general. The Democratic Establishment has learned nothing from 2016.

    On the note of Clinton and the other neoliberal politicians, I don’t think that they realize that they are doing immense damage to the cause of real feminists, not this neoliberalism shrouded in identity politics. That is tragic because just like how they attacked the Sanders base as “Bernie Bros” and falsely accused them of sexism, they are going to weaken the arguments for when there is real sexism. That is a real tragedy. This will also alienate my Generation, Y from feminists too.

    I suspect that is one of the reasons for the inability of the Access Hollywood tapes to damage Trump. The identity politics neoliberal types had lost all credibility. They were often compared to the actions of the Bill Clinton scandals.

    It is also sad because they do not really care about women or minorities. Minorities would benefit disproportionately from the 15 dollar minimum wage, as they are most likely to make the minimum wage. The same thing could be said about free university tuition and student debt relief. Women outnumber men in terms of graduates.

    Ultimately, the sad thing is that the neoliberals don’t actually care about the causes of the less fortunate at all. Identity politics is merely cover for a plutocratic political agenda.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Donna Brazile alone is a sign Democrats don’t even care if they ever win another election. Theyve ticked off the left. Now on to voters who want Democratic majorities by any means necessary.

      1. L

        Perhaps that statement should be refined to “Professional Democrats don’t even care if they ever win another election.”

        And after all, why should they? If you are a professional strategist, “community organizer” or pollster life is better now than when you are in power. Now you have the luxury of financing a lush #resistance without the need to achieve anything.

        I personally receive more tote-bag flinging missives now than I did when they thought they would win all filled with quotes from Donald Trump and Roy Moore who is shaping up to be the Republican’s Willie Horton.

        As I see it Brazile and the others have never faced consequences for losing and indeed have found the democratic party a cushy gravy train that has little if anything to do with actual policy or substantive change. From their perspective Bernie Sanders is the enemy, and Donald Trump is the meal ticket.

        1. Altandmain

          I suppose that this whole thing is about raising money from their rich donors. Then after leaving office, they will retire rich as lobbyists, giving speeches, and collecting the corporate loot money.

        2. sparkylab

          “From their perspective Bernie Sanders is the enemy, and Donald Trump is the meal ticket.”


        3. John k

          Sanders being the enemy keeps corp cash flowing.
          Trump being the enemy keeps liberal neolib cash flowing.
          This is not rocket science.

        4. skippy

          Maybe Democ’rats should be renamed the Cosmopolitan Republican Affiliation Party [CRAP].

          disheveled… not to be confused with the self help book club FRW breathers….

      2. polecat

        Oh man ! .. they must really want to see the tumbrels, pikes, & guillotines rumbling on the horizon ..

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Well, I’m thinking of good old “progressive” Woodrow Wilson, who stole a lot of ideas from Eugene Debs, ran on a peace platform, entered World War I, threw Debs in jail, and gaslit the country with a Red Scare. Perhaps the Clintonites have a playbook something like that in mind; they certainly seem to be building the foundations for it.* (Of course, Wilson also resegregated the Federal government and showed Birth of a Nation in the White House, which presumably the Clintonites have advanced beyond.)

          I think the country is different now — imperial decline vs. imperial rise — but perhaps the party and party politics are much the same.

          It’s the eternal question: Stupid or evil? Is the Democrat establishment so stupid it thinks what it’s doing is a winning strategy? They certainly don’t have a track record of success. On the other hand, perhaps the explanation for their curious reluctance to expand the voter base (while virtue signaling madly about voter suppression) is that they really do plan to appeal to suburban Republicans (who are already registered). Hence the rehabilitation of George W. Bush, Pelosi wishing that McCain — and not Sanders!! — was President and so forth.

          * I think we are going to see the Democrats plumb new depths for the lowest common denominator. Russia = Communist = Marxist, for example. Seriously? After the fall of the Soviet Union?

          1. polecat

            I’m with you on all counts Lambert.

            The Partie’$ almost over .. for both of em ! All that’s left is one la$t big grifter’$ ba$h before the whole damn ediface collapses.

          2. Bunk McNulty

            “When a country is well governed, poverty and a mean condition are things to be ashamed of. When a country is ill governed, riches and honor are things to be ashamed of.” — Confucius (551–479 BC), ‘The Analects’, Chapter VIII

    2. The Rev Kev

      So, here we are just one year short of the anniversary of the election and the best that the Democrat party can come up with is to purge their ranks of progressives and to stack them with Clintonites. Mind you, there was fair warning when Clinton said last year that single-payer would “never, ever happen” so that attitude would also apply to every other progressive idea as well.
      At least progressives did not have to wait till the 2018 mid term elections to find this little tidbit out. Sorry, but there is no place at all in the Democrat party for them so they might as well give that idea up and start making their own plans for the 2020 elections. I guess that the Democrats are hoping beyond hope that people will be so tired of Trump by 20202 that it does not matter what policies they have as they will be an automatic shoe-in. Yeah, that should work.

      1. Eureka Springs

        It’s almost like the Dems won their lawsuit when they insisted to the court/the world they can and will rig their system any way they want at any time. Rules, promises, representation, a democratic process be dammed.

      2. Pat

        On the bus yesterday I heard one person tell another that Trump would lose in 2020 along with “he didn’t carry his home state”, and “we’re smarter here”.
        It took everything I had to say that’s why we have Governor Cuomo and elected someone too incompetent to know the rules of nomination and election for President as a Senator – twice.
        I would bet the bubble in the Beltway is just as thick and the denial and self satisfaction even greater than that displayed on my bus route. I would also bet that Perez and Clintonites think this will be a fund raising boon their consultancy class needs. What it won’t do is what everyone here is pointing out, produce election winning strategies that will reverse the clear decline of the Party.

        Sadly it may take a two term Trump, and the destruction that brings, for this parasitic infection to either kill the host outright or be weakened enough to be purged.

        1. Charger01

          I think Thomas Frank in various interviews after listen, liberal was published mentioned their stategy. They’ll appeal to the professional class, attempting to peel off suburban Republicans while only giving lip service to various minorities. That’s it, full stop.

      3. Oregoncharles

        Once again: since Clinton I was re-elected, the duopoly parties just trade the presidency back and forth, TWO FULL TERMS at a time. If it isn’t a deal between them, it might as well be.

        Forget 2020, unless you’re prepared to go outside the box.

        And as far as 2018: it takes time to build a campaign, and even longer to build one outside the duopoly. Start now.

      1. Charger01

        Dore also had an excellent show several months ago about the Dims “Better Deal” strategy, something that had been work shopped and focus grouped to death in DC, which landes with a resounding thud with Dore. Corporate friendly sandwich, with a tiny silver of beef for workers. Really visionary stuff for our times.

      2. tegnost

        I agree it’s worth watching, Brazile on the rules committee is mind boggling. The democrat party is a firewall against a change in the status quo and the incrementalism they rely on is a defense strategy to give up a few short gains but keep the ball out of the endzone at all costs. At this point I’d say trump gets two terms.

        1. polecat

          “the incrementalism they rely on is a defence strategy of adding a few more grains of wet powder behind the nerf ball to keep the blame cannons firing at all costs”

          fixed ..

          And you are absolutely correct tegnost… they are mind booglingly obtuse !

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      They are pushing people to this third party strategy:

      It may be a year late, but it is not, or never, too late.

      And it will be up to all of those deemed undesirables by the DNC, and more, to get it done.

      New party, new leaders…hopefully, we can keep up, age-wise, with North Korea, Austria and New Zealand, with leaders under 40.

      1. Arizona Slim

        If Bernie Sanders runs as a D in 2020, I will NOT change my registration so I can vote for him in the AZ primary. I fell for that malarkey back in 2015, and won’t get fooled again.

        BTW, I went back to being an Independent the day after our state’s stolen 2016 primary.

      2. edmondo

        We don’t need a third party, just a second one.

        Here in AZ, I will have the choice between the incumbent senator who opposes Medicare for all and his Democratic opponent, Congresswoman Sinema who recently said,

        “… a Democrat would have to campaign in a virtually nonpartisan way to win a Senate race, and she criticized national Democrats for moving too far to the left. She described liberal promises of free college and single-payer health care as “just not real.”

        “It’s irresponsible to promise a platform that you can’t deliver on,’’ she said. “You’re not going to get free college.”

        And somehow she thinks I would get off my sofa to go vote for her?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Some people, or a lot of people (depending if you’re in a small room full of like minded people), think we have only one party.

          In that case, a new third party would be the second party…in a sense.

        2. Elizabeth Burton

          Are you sure about that? Have you checked whether Justice Democrats, Our Revolution, and/or Blue America have a progressive running? You won’t hear it via the media, that’s for sure.

          Justice Dems are running a fundraiser to meet their goal by midnight tonight (10/20/17). They’ve just added another 13 new people to their roster. And an Our Revolution-backed candidate just made it into the MA state senate.

          The logistics require we’re stuck using the Democrat Party in the short term, and the results are promising down at the roots. Nor would it be surprising that the establishment elites are totally oblivious to that fact, because they are so drunk on power I think they truly believe they have this progressive nonsense totally under control.

    4. Sid Finster

      “On the note of Clinton and the other neoliberal politicians, I don’t think that they realize that they are doing immense damage to the cause of real feminists, not this neoliberalism shrouded in identity politics. That is tragic because just like how they attacked the Sanders base as “Bernie Bros” and falsely accused them of sexism, they are going to weaken the arguments for when there is real sexism. That is a real tragedy. ”

      It’s not that they don’t know, it’s that they don’t care.

      For such people, feminism, or any other ism, is just a horse to ride until it dies or it takes them to where they want to go, or until something better comes along.

      If “something better” no longer suits its purpose, they’ll jump right back on “feminism” like nothing ever happened.

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        You under-estimate their arrogance, I think. They genuinely believe they are feminists for acting as they do, exclusively in defense of their personal and in-group interests. For them, they and their cohort are the most excellent and perfect among us, in every way. Therefore they of course are the true, highest-order feminists.

        By ‘they’ I mean establishment Democrats, particularly the Clinton affiliated elite.

    5. DJG

      Altandmain: Clinton is not doing damage to feminism per se (and I’m making angels dance on the head of a pin here). What is happening is that the class interests of Clinton’s upper-middle-class white female allies don’t truly call for equality. So they are happy to sell out abortion providers (because they’ve never had trouble getting one oh-so-discreetly), black women (well, what would black women expect? C’mon), immigrants (would you dust over there, Maria?), and younger women (ask women about the unalloyed joys of having a woman for a boss).

      Abracadabra: Clinton is a feminist if you are a graduate from an Ivy League School and marry an ambitious classmate who also is Ivy. An American success story, all about career, which is the source of her feminism.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Sotto voce: I’ve had male and female bosses. The best boss I ever had was a man. The worst was a woman.

        1. jrs

          they can both be bad or good, but I don’t think either if they are your actual boss, are near as bad as the situation where you have multiple bosses, or have an unofficial boss that is really your boss. The real problems that I have had at work have ALWAYS been structural, though I don’t deny bad bosses even in a straight forward structure exist.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          One day, it will be androgynous robot bosses.

          “You make one more joke about robots, you’ll be fired*.”

          *legal, in the future, because prejudice against robots will be not tolerated.

        3. Mel

          Not me. For me, the best was a man, the second best was a woman, and a woman and a man tied for worst. When the boots touch the ground, you’re working for a person, whoever that person turns out to be. It’s just one person, for heaven’s sake. How hard can it be to judge on merit?

          1. PhilM

            A remark exactly like that was termed “sexist” on reddit and started a vigorous flame war. How, you may inquire? Because by treating both sexes blindly, it does not give women the special treatment that their sex merits.

            The pendulum of bigotry has swung so far, thanks to identity politics, that it has gone over the top and come back down the other way.

          2. Mo's Bike Shop

            I had some great bosses in academic administration, bisexually–as it were–up until about 1998. After that, any boss who kissed down was moved out. Any boss who kissed up, was moved up.

    6. j84ustin

      I fear that “identity politics” has become a sledgehammer to be used by both sides of the political spectrum, because I do feel highlighting the challenges racial and ethnic minorities, women, LGBT, etc. face is important. That being said, I agree 100% that the focus on identity without any substance is so harmful (and has been for many years) to our cause. Of course most people didn’t care about the Trump tapes because Bill Clinton is a sexual predator as well. And Fight for Fifteen, student debt relief, etc. would make meaningful improvements to the lives of the very people the Democrats are supposedly fighting for (and expect will vote for them). I am not hopeful I will have too many candidates to vote for in 2018.

  2. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Without Saying ‘Trump,’ Bush and Obama Deliver Implicit Rebukes NYT. The rehabilitation of George W. Bush continues apace.

    Per obama:

    “Some of the politics we see now, we thought we put that to bed. That has folks looking 50 years back. It’s the 21st century, not the 19th century. Come on!”

    If Trump had said that, the morning news would be replete with calls for his impeachment based on the fact that he is too stoo-pid to know that a century is 100 years not 50, and that the century before the 21st is the 20th, not the 19th.

    But obama said it, so, never mind.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      And the politics of 80 some years ago, the New Deal politics, would be an improvement.

      In fact, looking back 50 years, that would put us in 1967…peace movement, getting soldiers back home…it was not all bad.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      King used the N word in the sixties. I don’t hear it that often.

      What names are respectful and what denigrating here? Or do we go back to the Bard, what is in a name?

  3. Anon

    Re: Lyft

    Granted, they don’t have Nimitz-class money (I think), but how do they expect to make money if Uber (who is far larger) can’t feasibly make money?

    1. Altandmain

      Apparently they expect people to be beguiled by their talk of disruption.

      The emperor really doesn’t have any clothes. Lyft would have to make a major change in the way they do business and raise prices to make money.

  4. Olga

    On cold war – VV Putin made a speech yesterday that was much tougher than usual (meaning that he was much more blunt in enumerating west’s transgressions and providing historical context): ““From the Russian side unprecedented openness and trust were demonstrated,” said Putin, saying that through the 1990s, about 100 US officials were entitled to carry out surprise inspections of Russian nuclear facilities, as part of Gorbachev and Yeltsin-era agreements. ‘What we got in return is well-known – a complete disregard for our national interests, support for separatism in the Caucasus, a circumvention of the UN Security Council, the bombing of Yugoslavia, the invasion of Iraq, and so on. The US must have seen the state of our nuclear weapons and economy and decided to do away with international law.’”

  5. Meher Baba

    i was sorry you did not link to yesterdays Guardian article about the EU agreeing to let May down gently because they knew she wouldnt last long and was humilated in front of her party. It was outrageous just how blatant and overt and public, the admissions were. i was speechless! She got a real hamerring in the piece.My e book reader does not let me link to an article sorry otherwise i would have.

  6. rusti

    From the ACLU blog nested in the Foreign Policy article on escalation of drone strikes:

    The paper’s basic contention is that the government has the authority to carry out the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen if “an informed, high-level official” deems him to present a “continuing” threat to the country. This sweeping authority is said to exist even if the threat presented isn’t imminent in any ordinary sense of that word, even if the target has never been charged with a crime or informed of the allegations against him, and even if the target is not located anywhere near an actual battlefield. The white paper purports to recognize some limits on the authority it sets out, but the limits are so vague and elastic that they will be easily manipulated.

    The paper initially suggests, for example, that the government’s authority to use lethal force is limited to people who present “imminent” threats, but it then proceeds to redefine the word imminence in a way that deprives the word of its ordinary meaning. The paper does something similar with the phrase “capture is infeasible.” It initially sounds like a real limitation but by page 8 it seems to mean only that the government won’t use lethal force if capture is more convenient. It’s the language of limits—but without any real restrictions.

    Even more problematic, the paper contends that the limits on the government’s claimed authority are not enforceable in any court. (“There exists no appropriate judicial forum to evaluate these constitutional considerations.”) According to the white paper, the government has the authority to carry out targeted killings of U.S. citizens without presenting evidence to a judge before the fact or after, and indeed without even acknowledging to the courts or to the public that the authority has been exercised. Without saying so explicitly, the government claims the authority to kill American terrorism suspects in secret.

    Whenever I read articles on this subject I try to discern whether the executive branch has assumed the legal authority to put a Hellfire Missile through my apartment window, and it’s tough to read the bolded section without coming to the conclusion that the answer is yes.

    My yearly donations to Confirmed-Russian-Propaganda-Outlet Naked Capitalism assuredly present a continuing threat to the country.

    1. Bunk McNulty

      Well, when it was Saint Barack of Obama having the Tuesday “Who shall we kill, your Grace?” meetings, we didn’t care that he had the power, because he was, and of course still is, a Saint. Nobody stopped to consider that perhaps in some far-distant, dystopian future, the power would be given to a petulant real estate developer from Queens. But there ya go. /s

    2. RWood

      Accumulating now at a fusion center near you!

      You’ve already paid for this!

      …British Home Secretary Amber Rudd recently announced that citizens that view too much extremist material online could face up to 15 years in jail. Rudd related,
      “I want to make sure those who view despicable terrorist content online, including jihadi websites, far-right propaganda and bomb-making instructions, face the full force of the law.”

      Ah, well, it’s only about …ISIS — whoops! You read it!

    3. fresno dan

      October 20, 2017 at 8:54 am

      with apologies to Lewis Carroll
      “When I use a word,” USA spokesegg 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 USA spokesegg Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

  7. Stillfeelinthebern

    The voter ID issue is real in Wisconsin, but the bigger issue is that Democratic voters didn’t turn out. In my central Wisconsin community, population about 40,000 with 95% white population, it is indisputable that the cause was a bad candidate. HRC won one ward by 6 votes. In 2012, Obama won 10 and with decent margins.

    1. wsa

      I’ve lived in Wisconsin for 20+ years now, and because we’re a swing state, every presidential election is a deluge of ads and visits to my door to make sure I haven’t forgotten — from two weeks ago — who I’m going to vote for or where my poling place is. For the 2016 election I saw exactly one person come to my door, for Clinton in the primary, and he didn’t seem sure about what he was doing. No one visited after the primary. There was no ground plan to be seen.

          1. Synoia

            Must have been from her ‘lurch to the left’.

            That was no lurch. She tripped over the carcass of the poor.

        1. roxy

          I couldn’t resist checking out that link. At the bottom it says “Sign up and tell us where you want the tour to go”. I’d like to, but I won’t.

      1. Oregoncharles

        You just made a strong case that she, or whoever was really running her campaign, INTENDED to lose, presumably because it was the Republicans’ turn. (Granted, this assumes there was some level of competence.)

        Just noting further confirmation of my theory that they have a little deal.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      The voter ID issue is real in Wisconsin, but the bigger issue is that Democratic voters didn’t turn out.

      I think this is perfectly said. There is absolutely no question that the whole point of voter ID is to reduce turnout among non-Republican voters. It is outrageous and no outrage should be diminished just because the Dems are feckless.

      But the article has not a single mention of Dem efforts to help people register to vote in 2016 because there weren’t any. It was rather obvious before the primary here in Madison that the only people interested in getting voters registered were the Bernie people, very few of which I would guess characterize themselves as Dems (you don’t have to state a party preference here to vote in a primary). The Clinton-ites were apparently more than happy with the status quo. And even in the general, very little effort at registration.

      Clinton lost WI because: she was a bad candidate, she was arrogant, voter ID, and lack of Dem effort to counteract voter ID.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the article has not a single mention of Dem efforts to help people register to vote in 2016 because there weren’t any

        Why, it almost makes you think the $1.4 billion spent on the Clinton campaign could have been put to better use…

      2. HotFlash

        Well, think about it. Voter suppression tends to disproportionately affect people who would be the historic Dem base. So,

        1.) take them out of the voting pool
        2.) a miracle occurs
        3.) snag all those moderate Republicans! Works just like gerrymandering.

      3. Arizona Slim

        Same thing happened here in Tucson. During the months before the primary, we, the sexist Bernie Bros, were the only ones doing anything to register voters.

  8. Andrew Watts

    RE: Trump’s Generals Had a Very Emotive Day The question of whether we should be in Niger at all seems to be lost in this discussion. Odd.

    We’re increasingly involved in Niger because our French allies are losing control over their protection racket in their former colonies. Niger is an exporter of raw materials with uranium at the forefront. France is heavily reliant on nuclear energy to keep the lights on and trains running. If they ever lose access to uranium and other raw materials from Africa it’d probably be an existential crisis for it’s economy.

    It kinda begs the question of how much does imperialism underwrite a modern economy, but that’s a conversation that neither the left and/or the right wants to have. So, ummm terrorism.

      1. Huey Long

        The best part about AFRICOM is that it is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. You’d think they’d set up shop a little closer to the action down in Liberia or one of our other de facto colonial possessions, but instead they chose Germany…

        1. Synoia


          No self-respecting US General would set up a base in Liberia. South Africa perhaps, Kenya maybe, Liberia, no chance at all.

          And please remember what happened when Regan set up a base in Lebanon.

          1. Huey Long

            Point taken, although Firestone did have a sweet setup in Liberia, complete with a golf course, marina, etc.

            1. The Rev Kev

              And according to Boris Johnson, it will be even better when they finish clearing away the dead bodies.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      America intervening militarily to support failed french colonialism. We’ve been down this road before, and it was called Vietnam.

      In 1953 President Eisenhower proclaimed at the Governor’s conference in Seattle:

      Now let us assume that we lose Indochina. If Indochina goes, several things happen right away. The Malayan peninsula would be scarcely defensible- and tin and tungsten we so greatly value from that area would cease coming… All of that weakening position around there is very ominous for the United States, because finally if we lost all that, how would the free world hold the rich empire of Indonesia? So you see, somewhere along the line, this must be blocked. That is what the French are doing…

      So, when the United States votes $400 million to help that war, we are not voting for a giveaway program. We are voting for the cheapest way that we can to prevent the occurrence of something that would be of the most terrible significance for the United States of America- our security, our power and ability to get certain things from the riches of South East Asia.

      “……..the riches of Southeast Asia.” Sounds like not much has changed.

      Reminds me of a movie–“We Were Soldiers”–about a devastating loss in Vietnam before the public was aware of the “conflict,” and in which one of the most memorable lines was, “There’s no hiding it any more.”

      1. Huey Long

        Now let us assume that we lose Indochina. If Indochina goes, several things happen right away. The Malayan peninsula would be scarcely defensible- and tin and tungsten we so greatly value from that area would cease coming… All of that weakening position around there is very ominous for the United States, because finally if we lost all that, how would the free world hold the rich empire of Indonesia? So you see, somewhere along the line, this must be blocked. That is what the French are doing…

        Ugh! Spoken like a true Army man. The fact of the matter is in 1953 we possessed a gigantic navy and an even larger reserve navy perfectly capable of keeping the whole region in line if need be.

        One can have all the tungsten and tin in the world and it will all be for nought if it can’t be shipped anywhere. This is clearly a case of Ike shilling for the French here.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The Malayan peninsula would be scarcely defensible- and tin and tungsten we so greatly value from that area would cease coming…

        Again, the same question asked of the French losing access – would they cease coming? Or would it only mean that we wouldn’t get to buy them so, so cheaply?

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Not to mention the intolerable horror of distributing the profits of these sales of a country’s natural resources equitably among all of its citizens, to whom they rightfully belong, without paying corporate tribute.

          And, just like that, we’re back to fighting the “evils” of “communism.”

      3. Andrew Watts

        America intervening militarily to support failed french colonialism. We’ve been down this road before, and it was called Vietnam.

        All while maintaining that we were a neutral party. America’s capacity for self-delusion is only exceeded by it’s cult of optimism.

    2. Huey Long

      Excellent point! France’s protection racket, known as Francafrique, has been running for quite some time:

      Not only is France reliant on African uranium for its electricity generating needs (76% according to wikipedia, but on oil from Gabon to keep it’s cars and trucks moving. French politicians also rely on Gabon to finance their campaigns:

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If they ever lose access to uranium and other raw materials from Africa it’d probably be an existential crisis for it’s economy.

      Is it about access or buying them below market?

      I am not sure if they lose access, that is, if they won’t be able to buy at market prices. That would involve trade sanctions, I think.

      1. Andrew Watts

        It’s a matter of access in the present. I doubt the Chinese will be as generous or as tolerant as America has been in the ongoing Scramble for Africa. China hasn’t forgotten or forgiven the pillaging that western imperialists inflicted on their country during the Opium Wars. It’s that humiliation they’ve endured which makes me think they’re going to be vindictive about it.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          History is important to the Chinese. And every emperor thinks about his Posthumous Name, and what will be included in the 21 characters (or less).

          From Wikipedia, on general Bai Qi:

          Bai Qi (died 257 BC), also known as Bo Qi, was a military general of the Qin state in the Warring States period of Chinese history. Born in Mei (now Mei County in Shaanxi Province), as commander of the Qin army for more than 30 years, Bai Qi was responsible for the deaths of a total of between 890,000 and 2,000,000 enemy soldiers, earning him the nickname Ren Tu (人屠, human butcher). He seized more than 73 cities from the other six Warring States in the Warring States Period and to date no record has been found to show that he suffered a single defeat throughout his military career. He was named by Chinese historians as one of the four greatest generals of the Warring States period, along with Li Mu, Wang Jian and Lian Po.

          The Grand Historian, Sima Qian, did not say how many civilians, in his Shiji.

          But general Bai is thought of as ‘great.’

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              From the Posthumous Name in Wikipedia, Qing emperors were given 21 character names (earlier dynasties had shorter ones).

              The number of characters in posthumous names was increasing. The emperors of the Tang Dynasty have names in between seven and eighteen characters. Those in the Qing Dynasty have twenty-one characters. For instance, that of the Shunzhi Emperor was “The Emperor of Order who Observes the Heavenly Rituals with a Solemn Fate, Destined to Unify, Establishes with Extreme Talented Insights, Admires the Arts, Manifests the Might, with Great Virtue and Vast Achievement, Reaches Humanity, Purely Filial” (體天隆運定統建極英睿欽文顯武大德弘功至仁純孝章皇帝, About this sound Listen to pronunciation (help·info): tǐ tiān lóng yùn dìng tǒng jiàn jí yīng ruì qīn wén xiǎn wǔ dà dé hóng gōng zhì rén chún xiào zhāng huáng dì).

              Empress Dowager Cixi’s was 25 (I hope I didn’t mis-count it).

              The woman with the longest posthumous name is Empress Dowager Cixi, who is “The Empress who is Admirably Filial, Initiates Kindness, with Blessed Health, Manifests Much Contentment, Solemn Sincerity, with Longevity, Provides Admiration Prosperously, Reveal Adoration, Prosperous with a Merry Heaven, with a Holy Appearance” (孝欽慈禧端佑康頤昭豫莊誠壽恭欽獻崇熙配天興聖顯皇后 xiào qīn cí xǐ duān yòu kāng yí zhāo yù zhuāng chéng shòu gōng qīn xiàn chóng xī pèi tiān xīng shèng xiǎn huáng hòu), or 孝欽顯皇后 for short.

              I don’t know if she was ‘content’ when she ceded Taiwan to Japan.

        2. Huey Long

          China hasn’t forgotten or forgiven the pillaging that western imperialists inflicted on their country during the Opium Wars. It’s that humiliation they’ve endured which makes me think they’re going to be vindictive about it.


          I couldn’t have said it better myself!

  9. Bunk McNulty

    Welcome to the New, New Obscenity. Mike Pompeo talking like a Mafia Don.

    … if Kim Jong-un should vanish, given the history of the CIA, I’m just not going to talk about it,” the CIA director said on Thursday, when asked what would happen if Kim suddenly died. “Someone might think there was a coincidence. ‘You know, there was an accident.’ It’s just not fruitful,” he said to laughs from national security officials at a forum held by the Foundation for Defence of Democracies.

      1. Bunk McNulty

        Between the lines? It seems quite plain:

        “Pompeo did not specify the ways in which the CIA will be increasing its woefully deficient amount of viciousness, so it’s unclear how it will be escalating its savagery beyond torture, assassinations, drug running, warmongering, manipulating elections and toppling governments around the world, spying on congressional legislators and lying about it under oath, conducting psyops on entire nations, illegal domestic espionage, Orwellian surveillance programs, infiltrating the media, drug-induced mind control experiments, and deliberately arming and training known terrorist factions.”

  10. Andrew Watts

    RE: D.N.C. Chair Purges Dissenters in Surprise Shake-Up

    Not surprising. In a similar way Democrats didn’t suddenly wake up and start caring about anti-trust violations in the tech sector. The NSA was putting pressure on tech companies to do something about jihadist content being spread on their platforms and look at how easily that repressive action spread to left-wing websites. Anybody who suggests that liberals and socialists should and can get along is probably a shill for the Democrats.

    I, on the other hand, am glad that the Democrats are repeatly demonstrating how phony their co-called principles are. Remember how Democrats eagerly defended the Iraq War with the one caveat of how they would’ve done a better job?

    1. Huey Long

      Anybody who suggests that liberals and socialists should and can get along is probably a shill for the Democrats.

      Here, here!

      I won’t caucus with the liberals and constantly have to correct people who lump me in with that group. My usual line is “No, I’m a socialist. I stand for single payer healthcare, a fair deal for the working man, and putting an end to America’s imperial wars. I don’t do the pink pussy hat thing nor do I get up in arms over who gets to use the men’s or ladies’ room.”

      1. Deadl E Cheese

        Interestingly enough, you don’t have to be a socialist to support those things on your list.

        I bring this up because I think the real story here is that liberalism, even the left-liberalism championed by FDR/LBJ and very belatedly by Sanders, is becoming toxic to non-reactionaries. And for good reason, in my opinion. Even when the New Dealers were at their very best, they were still flawed. Aside from the fact that most any New Dealer was as imperialist as any Clintonite or Reaganite, their neglect allowed capitalism to make a counter-attack.

        And liberalism today is an even worse than the tainted legacy of the New Dealers. I mean, the New Dealer legacy is ‘Vietnam, but Medicare and 90%+ top quintile income taxes’. The Clintonite legacy is ‘Iraq War, but mass incarceration, ACA, and raising 1%er income taxes to a smidge under 40%’.

  11. Peronella

    Insightful analysis of Spain, Catalunya and EU Suso de Toro is a keen political observer. He is not Catalan, just in case you were wondering

    The last two paragraphs bear special attention.

    No, Spain is not a Democratic
    SUSO DE TORO UPDATED 19/10/2017 23:27


    Spain is governed by a party which has been found guilty of systematic corruption. If society tolerates such behaviour, then it can accept all manner of things. However, this ought not to happen in a democratic country and it is proof that the system is corrupt.

    Some years ago, this corrupt sociopolitical system initiated a fundamentally anti-democratic process, involving a petition “against the Catalans”, and the Constitutional Court’s case against the Statute, both designed to attack the Catalan government at the time. This ideologically motivated strategy caused frustration and harm to Catalan society, in the first instance. Subsequently it was denied any alternative, leading us to where we are today. The Spanish state and its political parties had nothing to offer Catalonia, with the independence movement being the only alternative for society.

    This democratic anomaly, the continuity of Rajoy’s administration —despite evidence of its corruption— with the support of the PSOE in maintaining its policies aimed at Catalonia, is only possible because it is in the interest of the State’s powers. It is evident in the direct actions of the economic powers that be —the boycott of the Catalan financial structure is a closely coordinated political operation— and through control of the Spanish media, its Madrid-based newspapers and TV stations, in particular. The striking similarity between the headlines in print and on the TV news can only be explained by them following a precise instruction: “Don’t cut the Catalans any slack”.

    This anti-democratic diktat is a response to the systematic distortion of language: “The separatist / pro-independence threat”; referring to the referendum as “illegal” even before the Constitutional Court had issued its verdict; the use of vocabulary employed by the police when referring to criminals, in expressions like “taking out the ringleaders of the referendum”, “seizing the ballots papers” and so on. All via news reports and commentators which exclude anyone who might express the Catalan government’s position. The Spanish media is not democratic, it is a totalitarian machine that aims to turn Spanish public opinion against Catalonia. It is only right that it has been criticised by international institutions for its bias.

    Social and political life is conducted via the media. The freedom of information, opinion and expression all depend on them to not be drowned out, as is happening at present. However, what ultimately guarantees democratic freedom is an independent legal system, and this does not exist in Spain, either. The democratic nature of the justice system has never been guaranteed.

    With no clean break with the previous regime, public prosecutors and pro-Franco judges remained in their posts and were promoted, Madrid’s National Court took over from the Public Order Court. Furthermore, Rajoy profoundly changed the justice system. This is shown by the fact that both the Justice Minister and the public prosecutor have been formally reprimanded by the Spanish Parliament. This policy began with a reform that made the access to legal counsel more difficult and costly for the general public. It continued with the so-called Gag Law, which limits the exercise of the freedom of expression. Rajoy also did away with the concept of an independent judiciary by systematically placing those loyal to his party in every institution, from the Supreme Court to the Constitutional. It could be said that the new law passed by the Constitutional Court without prior consultation not only did away with the court’s moral authority, but it also had a similar, delayed effect on the Constitution itself.

    The flagrantly partisan use of the judiciary by such an authoritarian and corrupt party goes a long way to explain the imprisonment of two Catalan activists who support democracy. It is telling that before the trial, the Minister of Justice Rafael Catalá met with the Public Prosecutor José Manuel Maza. The judge sent the accused to prison, but it was the prosecution, at the orders of the government, who asked for a prison sentence alongside none other than the head of the Catalan police who was in charge of the anti-terrorist operation this August. The jail sentences, the fines, attempts to ban democratic parties… are all the actions of a totalitarian government. When such policies, carried out by the institutions, are also countersigned by two political allies, and when the head of state, who was appointed by the Franco regime, supports such policies, we are talking about an undemocratic regime. It cannot be called fascist, but it is anti-democratic and with and tends towards totalitarianism.

    The authoritarian regime estimates that Catalan public resistance stands at around fifty to a hundred thousand activists, while ignoring the existence of the millions of Catalans who are peacefully defending their sovereignty as citizens and as a nation. We are witnessing a clash between a government strategy and a social reality. The Madrid-based courts believe they are facing a few independence parties while blissfully unaware that what they are facing is a truly democratic movement unlike any other in Europe or the rest of the world. Its plan is a simple one: a refusal to negotiate, while humiliating and destroying the movement —which they call “separatism”– and that Catalan society loses its nerve. Once it has been reduced to a few provinces, leaderless and under Madrid’s control, it will be recognised and receive additional funding in compensation.

    How can such a thing possibly happen within the European Union? The explanation is that the EU, or rather the European Commission and the ECB, have redefined the European project. The European Charter of Fundamental Rights, which guarantees the rights of its citizens, isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. The EU takes it for granted that some states are democratic, while others are not. The Kingdom of Spain, for example, is on a par with certain countries of the former Soviet Union. Civil liberties within these states are of no concern and their supposed sovereignty only exists as long as they repay their debt. In other words, Merkel and Juncker let Spain do whatever it likes with the Catalans, so long as it tries to balance its budget.

    1. Sue

      I agree with most of it. As you know Catalan, please check the three videos from l’Illa de Robinson broadcast on 10-19. They are very good. Unfortunately I am/have been swamped with other things or I would have added subtitles in English for everyone to understand what really is going on In Catalonia. Here is the link:

  12. L

    On a different issue the Senate Republicans just passed a budget bill along party lines with only Rand Paul dissenting, (it didn’t cut enough). It looks like their plan is to pass tax overhaul via budget reconciliation just like they tried to with healthcare. While the “smart money” is that they will face the same hurdles Lindsey Graham laid out the consensus party line quite clearly:

    “That will be the end of us as a party,” he said, “because if you’re a Republican and you don’t want to simplify the tax code and cut taxes, what good are you to anybody?

    See here

    I note that they never said that they needed to achieve their goals or “what good are they to anybody” or that they need to reduce the cost of healthcare or “what good are they to anybody” only that they need to cut taxes. It is nice when people are open about their priorities.

    1. edmondo

      And 10 years from now, when these tax cuts expire because they were passed under reconciliation, the “Democrat” sitting in the White House will have “no alternative” but to call for their continuation (just like Obama institutionalized all W’s tax cuts in 2011). Viva la difference!

  13. Jane

    Did anyone else notice General Kelly’s rather disturbing reference to the military as the 1% in his speech lambasting Rep. Wilson? Has the 1% been used that way before or is it a live example of the right trying to repurpose the language of the left?

    1. Vatch

      I thought it referred to soldiers in the special forces, who are a small minority of the military. But now that I’ve read your interpretation, I suspect that maybe I was wrong.

  14. Vatch

    A couple of weeks ago, President Trump nominated coal industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to be the Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

    This short quote from the article summarizes all that is wrong about this nomination:

    [Senator James] Inhofe praised the selection of his “close friend” and former staffer for EPA’s No. 2 job.

    “There is no one more qualified than Andrew to help Scott Pruitt restore EPA to its proper size and scope,” he said in a statement.

    Nearly everything that James Inhofe says or does about the environment is completely wrong.

    And we can expect Andrew Wheeler to be working on issues that he should recuse himself from:

    The Trump administration has pledged to bar appointees from working on issues that they lobbied on in the previous two years, but many top officials have been granted waivers.

    White House energy official Mike Catanzaro, for example, received a waiver that allows him to work on broad energy and environmental policy issues, like the Clean Power Plan and other issues he focused on as a lobbyist. Catanzaro also worked on Inhofe’s EPW staff, joining the committee after Wheeler left in 2009.

    Senate contact information for people who want to do something about this shameful nomination:

  15. Kim Kaufman

    “RMI Reveals Greatest Banking Threat is Farm Foreclosures AgWeb. “The [Rural Mainstreet Index] survey showed almost one in 10 bankers expect farm foreclosures to be the greatest challenge to banking operations over the next five years.””

    I attended a speaking event with John NIchols and David Dayan a few weeks ago. Dayan said he thought commercial property was the next bubble to burst. Fwiw.

    1. Huey Long

      Dayan said he thought commercial property was the next bubble to burst. Fwiw.

      I wouldn’t be shocked. They’re building wayyyyyyyy to much new office space in NYC IMNSHO. I happen to work in this sector and all I have to say is thank heaven I’m in a union.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Here in Tucson, I see a lot of empty commercial space. I took a one-mile walk around Downtown yesterday. Along the way, I saw 15 empty storefronts.

    2. perpetualPOOR

      I, personally, think it’s all gonna go boom. The home sellers are back funding subprime loans. The subprime auto overselling. The student loan bubble. The commercial property bubble. And Americans are back up to credit debt worse then pre-2008. It’s bat-[family blog] crazy.

      I, and several others, have battled for years in the legislatures, executive suites and the courts to try to prevent more devastation. To no end. The courts just denied my Motion for Reconsideration. What that means? They need nothing more than a document saying “we used to own this mortgage” to foreclose in the state of Washington.

      Good luck property owners. The banks’ have got you by the [family blog].

      1. polecat

        Bu, bu, but what about all those CONDO towers …. ???

        Cranes gotta lift, and Grifters gotta grift ..

    3. JTMcPhee

      A little reminder of a bit of the rapacious history of farm foreclosure in the Great Depression: Those FDR boys had a lot in the ball, now didn’t they? And sometimes when the Sheriff went to auction off the land and equipment of some yeoman farm, the other yeomen in the area would turn it into a “penny auction,” as described here:

      Nothing remotely like the FDR approaches to social and economic problems in the minds or tool kits of the current rulership, is there?

      Is US political economy a pendulum, or just a pit?

      Self-help,anyone? Though there ain’t many small farms left…

    4. Jess

      Interestingly, last night I was talking with a friend who is a realtor. (By way of background, we both live in a very affluent beach community about nine miles south of LAX.) I remark that I look for us to have another massive financial crash sometime soon. He agrees, and states that all the land developers he knows are very quietly trying to get out from under parcels that they’ve bought as future development sites.

      If we’re right, gonna be some genuine real estate bargains in my neck of the woods. Problems are: a) having the money to take advantage, and b) knowing when things have hit rock bottom.

  16. Jim Haygood

    Rain on the scarecrow, blood on the plow … from the RMI article linked above:

    As combines roll across rural America, ag bankers are reporting a mixed bag with harvest results. RMI asked bankers to compare current spot prices for a bushel of corn to the average break-even price.

    The survey showed only 2.4 percent of bankers indicated that prices between $3.50 and $3.75 were above break-even levels, whereas 45.2 percent of those bankers say current spot prices are below break-even.

    “Where can I find a spot price for corn of $3.50 or above today?” said Fritz Kuhlmeier, CEO of Citizens State Bank in Lena, Ill. “Try $3.00 to $3.20, which is below the break-even by all means.”

    The RMI is a survey of ag bankers in a 10-state region. While October’s number showed outlooks are on the rise, it’s a struggling farm economy. Stagnant crop prices acting as a wet blanket on the overall RMI.

    A deflationary mentality has set in on the plains of the midwest, ever since the halcyon days of 2012 when corn futures hit eight dollahs a bushel. In the 45 years since Nixon’s second term began in 1973, the CPI has risen by a factor of six. That is, the $1.20 a bushel corn price then would be $7.20 a bushel now, or double the current level.

    It’s strange, considering that crude oil bottomed in Feb 2016 along with some commodity-dependent emerging economies. Is the prevailing consensus too far on one side of the boat? In the year of Nixon’s reinauguration, 1973, Chicago’s commodity pits lit up with cries of “beans in the teens!

    We was off to the races, as Nixon sold corn to the perfidious Russians and farmers stenciled the hammer-and-sickle on their combines (okay, I made up that last bit). Loooooong-term corn chart:

    1. DJG

      Your Jamesness: I’m reminded that the Great Depression of the twenties and thirties is said to have started in the agricultural areas with foreclosures and crop failures.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Yes, GD II is option B in this inflate-or-die A/B test, and it’s far from impossible.

        Back then Treas Sec Andrew Mellon calmly advocated “Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate.” This will not do for contemporary Bubblemeisters.

        The only question is when the Fed backs off from its deranged Normalization plan, hits the panic button, and QE4’s us up to a $10 trillion balance sheet. I give them two to three years, with presidential tweets egging them on.

        On with the greatest show on earth!

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      There were a few other links at RMI but related to farmland — [e.g. “Why Land Values Are Not Falling” and “U.S. Cropland Values Hold Steady, Pasture Land Marks New High” ] . This seems strange when juxtaposed with the link concerned with farm foreclosures — “curiouser and curiouser.”

      The comment at the bottom of the RMI Banking Threat article was telling:
      “… A bushel of corn weighs 56 pounds. The farmer gets $3.20 a bushel. Frito Lay gets $4.00 for 13 ounces. The math is lousy. If only the farmer could go on strike. A new appreciation for food would evolve.”

      As farms grow ever more consolidated there will be no need for a strike. We could indeed learn a new appreciation for food.

      1. John k

        Regardless of farm size, why spend money on planting if you can’t lock in a profit with a hedge? They’re speculating the spot at harvest will be better… but why?

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I was suggesting that consolidation of the farms might lead to the formation of large monopolistic farm constructs — possibly joining with — or competing with the already consolidated Merchants of Grain. The RMI comment I cited calls attention to the considerable mark-up food middlemen command. As for short term plays on the market — that’s way way outside my knowledge and comfort zone.

          To me, the squeeze on independent farmers has similar appearance to Amazon’s and Walmart’s squeeze on small retail vendors. Low low prices today …

          1. todde

            I have a number of farm clients.

            They had a few good years about a decade ago, but then “they found out a farmer was making money”

            and they put an end to that

    3. Arizona Slim

      Fast forward to the present, and we find that Russian agricultural output is sufficient for the country’s needs.

      1. JTMcPhee

        What’s the word? Autarky? And food security?

        The US is not a nation. It’s a dead Empire about to do what they do. Too bad most of us don’t have the history so many of the Russians apparently do to fall back on… not that that continent-sized agglomeration is homeostatically stable either, in a lot of departments.

      2. The Rev Kev

        It is more than that. It is going gangbusters. See the link at or at–10872.html as an example. It seems that all those sanctions that the west imposed on the Russians convinced them to invest heavily in their own agricultural sectors and it is paying massive dividends, not the least of which is that they do not have to worry about importing food anymore. Talk about your law of unintended consequences! They now want the sanctions to continue to keep out cheap imports of food until their domestic markets are fully established. If the EU thinks that once the sanctions are lifted that they will be getting back all those food contracts, well, to use a modern Aussie phrase – “tell ’em they’re dreaming!”

  17. DJG

    Venice Wants Its Money Back: The article misrepresents some things, but the conclusion is healthy: Secession is hardly likely in Italy by any region. Italians define themselves as Italians, and culture is what makes one an Italian (of course, that is the case with Catalans, too).

    Venice itself, if we’re talking the islands, is pretty much Disneylandia of the Lagoon. So don’t think money is flowing back to the 40,000 or so who are holding on by their fingertips to their housing on the islands. (The population of Venice at its height in the late middle ages was some 200,000.)

    Most Venetians live on the mainland portions of Mestre and Marghera.

    Verona is the other large city in the Veneto, and it is “black”–absurdly conservative. It is the only Italian city that could be moved, virtually unchanged, to Texas.

    Lombardy hardly holds together geographically, as its history of being conquered every few years attests. It is Italy’s economic dynamo and population center, some 9 million. And it isn’t seceding either.

    The question is a legitimate one, although I don’t care much for many of the politicians behind it, especially the knuckleheads of the Lega Nord (who are often of a Trumpian delicacy with the rights of others): One supposed goal has been to make Italy more federal in structure. Recently, more power devolved to the comune level (municipalities). But the regions aren’t states. They have all the room to maneuver of a U.S, county. So nudging Roma for some autonomy…

    Now for secession, you’d have to go into imaginary Piedmont, which created modern Italy and has never figured out what it has wrought. But then the Piedmontese might ask France to give back Savoy and Nice. (Yes, Nice, birthplace of Garibaldi.) I’ll mull this over with some gianduiotti.

    1. Vatch

      Maybe the Venetians could get together with some French and Flemish knights, and conquer Constantinople, as they did in 1204. Just in case any Turks might think I’m actually seriously advocating this: I’m not. I’m joking! So you can relax.

  18. XXYY

    AI Experts Want to End ‘Black Box’ Algorithms in Government | WIRED

    All the recommendations in this report and elsewhere are dancing around the central fact that AI-based decision making is completely opaque, not only to the “public”, but also *to the people that built the thing.*

    Calls to “release the source code” are particularly asinine, showing that people still think that AI systems use hand coded procedural logic to arrive at their decisions. Of course, their decisions are made by a neural net looking for similarities between training data (captured as weights) and the present input. If the training data shows that white people deserve bail and black people don’t, then that will be reflected in the AI system’s decisions, though a black person will have extreme difficulty proving that. It might be possible to audit the training data, but usually these data sets contain millions of items and are daunting or impossible to survey by hand.

    The remedy is to require that professional, non-overworked humans make decisions affecting other humans, with the right of appeal. Humans can be asked to defend their reasoning for the record, in terms that other humans can understand. This is obviously more expensive.

    1. LarryB

      Pretty sure that TPTB view this lack of auditability as a feature, not a bug. Can’t prove discrimination, even unintentional discrimination, since the software can’t justify its decision.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m forgetting the jargon, so I can’t provide a link or quote, but my recollection is that every so often an AI just fails, for no particular reason. Its “mind” goes blank, and it has to be trained all over again. I don’t know how you would prove that the AI before the failure, and the retrained AI, gave the same results. Interesting bit of randomness to introduce to, say, AI credit ratings, or AI sentencing algorithms….

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Let’s remember that the D party is a private corporation.

      When it runs the country, we have a corporation running the country.

      Perhaps that’s why the business of America is business.

  19. perpetualWAR

    Regarding the opioid crisis:

    They know who’s prescribing the oxy. Shut down these rogue MDs and if they don’t stop, throw em in jail. Simple solution to a “complex problem.”

    However, that simple solution won’t end the angst, despair and anxiety that is produced by a society that values perpetualWAR, debt slavery, poisonous food supply, and etc……..
    As that is the real cause of the opioid crisis. Our [family blog] up and sick society.

  20. Jim Haygood

    This is sensational:

    As he prepared to collect a $500,000 payday in Moscow in 2010, Bill Clinton sought clearance from the State Department [headed by his wife] to meet with Rosatom, which needed the Obama admin’s approval for a controversial uranium deal.

    The approval question, however, sat inside State for nearly two weeks without an answer, prompting Clinton Foundation foreign policy adviser Amitabh Desai to make multiple pleas for a decision.

    Bill Clinton instead got together with Vladimir Putin at the Russian leader’s private homestead.

    Hillary Clinton had just returned from Moscow and there were concerns about the appearance of her husband meeting with officials so soon after.

    Mwa ha ha ha … they shoulda asked Vlad to deed over Russia’s former 45-acre country retreat on Maryland’s eastern shore, instead of laundering millions in traceable cash through the Clinton Foundation.

    The Clinton-Rosatom scandal is the Fukushima of US political corruption. It totally jumps the shark.

    1. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      October 20, 2017 at 11:55 am

      Thanks for that. Who decides what is newsworthy, and what criteria is being used? It appears to be if it helps my friends, no laws were broken and no investigations need be done. If its my enemies, appoint an independent counsel…

    2. John k

      The odd thing is that justice isn’t investigating this, or Clinton foundation, considering what the rod has been saying about trump. No time limit on treason charges.

      1. mk

        I heard prez trump on the radio today talking about how the media won’t report on this and that it should be investigated, why he doesn’t ask sessions to start one is a mystery to me, he said bill clinton took $500,000 from the russians and that putin got 20% of america’s uranium market (whatever that means).

  21. Craig H.

    My usual tricks won’t access the FT article on the Amazon bribery sweepstakes pitting every city and state not named Seattle or Washington against one another to land 50 000 JOBS or whatever it is that Jeff Bezos is dangling. Ars Technica said it would be easier to name the places that aren’t jostling to make the deal.

    You think winning the Olympics would be bad. This has got a thousand times worse if you have a stable situation and it’s coming to your town. If only Adam Smith could see us now.

    1. archnj

      What I found interesting about the Seattle article linked here, and another op-ed in the NYT today, was that both took time to take a swipe at Kshama Sawant as an example of a “bad consequence” of Amazon setting up shop.

      So, having a city government official successfully lobby for a $15 minimum wage, objectively benefiting many residents, is a bad consequence? What is with these people?

  22. Meher Baba

    Katniss and Huey
    Thanks for the Indochina commentary.Vietnam war started way back in – was it the 20’s ? What happened later was just a continuation. And England was involved militarily back then to a horrifying extent but the english people did not know

    1. Huey Long

      My pleasure!

      Several minor rebellions took place in Vietnam from the time it fell under French control during the mid 19th century up until WWII. During WWII Vietnam was invaded by Japan, something like 1/2 – 2 million people died during a famine and after the Japanese were defeated some 20,000 British & Imperial (mostly Indian) troops were deployed to disarm the Japanese and “hold the fort” until the French could get their act together and restore colonial rule.

      I wouldn’t go so far as to call the British intervention horrifying as casualties were relatively low on both sides and they left after maybe a year or so. The real bloodbath in Vietnam didn’t start until around 1947 when the French tried to impose their rule by force.

      IMHO WWII really dealt a death blow to colonialism, especially in Asia. One of colonialism’s key selling points so far as the natives were concerned was security and after the Japanese ran roughshod over Indonesia, the Phillipines, Malaya, etc. it absolutely destroyed the credibility of the west in this regard. I mean, why bother putting up with colonial looting and humiliation if you’re not going to receive the protection you were promised?

    1. Oregoncharles

      So THAT’S where Bigfoot came from!

      (In all seriousness, it does mean great apes were in a position to reach the New World, a long time ago.)

  23. fresno dan

    Software Hasn’t Come Close to Eating the World Barry Ritholtz, Bloomberg

    I like Ritholtz, but sorry, Barry, the problem is not ERRORS – it is the purposeful writing of the software and designing of customer interaction to prevent customers from doing what they want. Your choices are very limited, and if you choose to end a service, you are put through H*ll.

    My last three actions to cancel services provide by
    1. Satellite TV
    2. Cable TV
    3. A bank’s visa card
    were all blatantly attempted to be thwarted by the company. With the TV services, I was moving to areas where the company did not even offer services, but their algorithms insisted that I transfer service (ending service was NOT EVEV LISTED as a possibility), and when I was FINALLY able to reach a human, it was NEVER the human who could actually end the service. Than I would be transferred to another department, and somehow the transfer NEVER went through and the call was dropped. And than it would start over. In one case I had to write the Attorney general, under whose office in CA is the consumer division, to put an end to the nonsense and have the company call me so that the service could be terminated.
    Hotel California, you can check out any time you want, but you can never leave….

    1. Sagebrush country

      When I canceled ATT dsl service, they physically stopped it within hours, but continued to bill me until the bill was over $400. After my refusal to play their games, they sent it to a collection agency. Since I keep household bills in my name, but use wife’s name for things involving credit, their threats to ruin my credit have no power.

  24. fresno dan

    The young husband and wife needed a new mattress, but were shocked by the prices at the local mattress store: the average queen-size was around $1,500, but as much as $5,000 for a fancy Tempur-Pedic. One of Derek’s coworkers told him about a two-year-old Phoenix-based company called Tuft & Needle, which sold its queen-size mattress directly to consumers online for just $600. Though buying such a large item online felt a little unusual, there was a 100-day trial period, so what was the risk?
    For most of my life, I have slept on the floor – well, blankets that are on the floor (REALLY). In the air force I slept in beds. During college, back to floors. Getting older, a job, and able to afford furniture, I slept on my futon. The price of mattresses was outrageous, and you had to buy this thing called a box spring to put under your mattress. Years ago, I found out I could buy rectangles of foam rubber 3 inches thick, and I slept on that.
    So I will soon be upgrading from a futon to a couch, and I’ll be sleeping on the couch (whoo hoo!) but I will be getting a bed for guests….with an internet foam mattress – the only question is: will the guests prefer the floor?

    1. Mel

      I used to do that, then I cracked my shoulder blade in a bike accident. Every morning, raising my body up so I could get my feet under it was hell. Furniture bought used from trusted friends was my solution. Lately it’s been a wooden bed frame with wood slats; cheap, but it takes foam pads well, and looks like it will last a while.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I sleep on foam mats on the floor too. The foam is much easier to move when I change residence — which I’ve had to do too many times. I still haven’t worked out a scheme for rolling the foam and bed up and putting it in a closet like I saw years ago in the Orient — too lazy and too little closet space.

      I like the way the Koreans and Japanese — at least in the old days — would sleep on the floor and fold up their beds to clear the floor space every morning. [In traditional Korean homes heat for the house came up through the floor providing further reason to sleep on the floor. Charcoal blocks served as the fuel for this floor heating system — so there were serious drawbacks like occasional carbon monoxide leaks.]

      There’s also the bed that pulls down from the wall and goes back up in the morning. I don’t remember what that was called and I’ve never seen one. I might look into that when I can live in a home I own.

      1. Bullwinkle

        The floor heating system you are referring to Jeremy is called ‘ondol’ in Korean and I think once a upon a time the fuel blocks were made of dung (in the countryside anyway).

      2. c_heale

        Modern Korea houses and apartments also have underfloor heating, using pipes carrying hot water. It’s pretty effective in the cold winters here.

    3. Oregoncharles

      No, you don’t need a box spring; a sheet of plywood will do nicely.

      I slept on a “pallet on the floor” (futon) in college; when I turned it over in the spring, it was a veritable garden of fungi. The floor was cold, so the condensation was bad. That, vermin, and dirt are the reasons people like to elevate their beds (besides getting up and down). Anything that provides ventilation, or a warm floor, would help. Even a couple of pallets in the current, shipping platform sense.

      Of course, if you’re in the desert Southwest, this might not be a problem.

    4. curlydan

      While mattresses can be a huge ripoff, most cities I’ve lived in have had a decent mattress outlet store where off-brand and perfectly good mattresses can be bought in the $300 range. Search of ‘discount mattress’ or ‘mattress outlet’. never ever ever go to a branded mattress store.

    5. Wukchumni

      I’ve been sleeping in a hammock outside in the Sierra for close to 500 nights since my first experience sleeping in one around the turn of the century. It’s very comfortable and as near to being in a bed as one can get in the backcountry. All you need is a couple of trees 10-14 feet apart, and a few minutes of set up later you’re good to go. There are times we’ll use a tent on account of mossies, etc., but I prefer a hammock, as it opens up the range of where you can sleep, immensely. You don’t even need flat ground.

  25. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Domestication has not made dogs cooperate more with each other compared to wolves Science Daily

    How applicable is that to, say, peasants?

    Has the domestication of peasants made them cooperate less with each other compared to ‘wild peasants?’

    “You want food? Come to the overlords, not your fellow peasants.”

  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Uncle Sam is not going to smash Silicon Valley The Week

    Nor Silicone Peaks here in Los Angeles.

  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    University of Chicago Graduate Students Vote to Unionize The Chicago Maroon

    We have labor boards. And workers need to unionize.

    We have consumer protection agencies. Should consumers unionize?

    Union of Chicken Eaters of Mayfield: “We are striking over the maltreatment of the dead chickens you have been feeding to Beaver’s family and the rest of us.”

    1. HotFlash

      Well, how about Union of People who have been Shafted by Banks? I think PerpetualWAR/POOR might be interested in that one, and hey — a mortgage borrowers strike? How would that go down, seems like it might be hard to break it with Pinkertons.

      1. perpetualPOOR

        Thanks. We tried to get that started: Homeowners Superpac. Alas, all of us were too poor and fighting too hard.

        There is hope with a new organization: www dot washingtonhomeowner dot org.
        It’s not up and running yet, but we have hopes to get us all united and take back some of our rights that have been lost in the court system. Judges love them some bankers.

    2. Oregoncharles

      That’s what consumer co-ops are. We belong to 2, a grocery store (which happens to be our corner store) and a Credit union.

  28. Elizabeth Burton

    Here in Texas, the state Dems at least had the grace to give Sanders supporters a lukewarm thank-you for registering voters after the primary. Which they didn’t bother to do.

  29. D

    Re: US cities shower Amazon with offers of tax breaks

    (Note to Craig H.: it can be viewed sans firewall here I take it the IFAshops site has some sort of agreement with carrying some of FT’s pieces sans firewall, as they post quite a few of them.)

    Irk, there are major properties missing from that article’s Tech Expansion analysis.

    Unfortunately, the two largest Bay Area Newspapers The San Francisco Chronicle/SFGate and The Mercury News which is actually located in Silicon Valley (reported as Steve Jobs favorite, likely because it has historically Gate Kept for Silicon Valley’s Stunningly Homogenous and Exclusive Technocracy) have tended not to post any major, all encompassing studies on the Silicon Valley Technocracy and just how much is owned and effected by Google, Facebook and Apple, so one ends up with outdated, and at times, plain wrong information from Larger London, or New York based, news publications.

    Two omissions which immediately come to mind:

    1 Apples third, 883K square foot, Sunnyvale campus (I shouldn’t have, but I’ve previously called it the second Apple campus, as the first one is far older, and was not near so noticeable and ostentatious as the first Google and Facebook campuses); a hideous, LOOMING structure yet to be opened in an area notorious for existent congestion, continuous Condo/Apartment Home™construction, and distracted drivers:

    03/16/17 Apple’s OTHER new office: Bizarre building shaped like a Mac’s command key revealed near the iPhone maker’s new spaceship HQ

    •’AC3’ Central & Wolfe is just three miles away from Apple Park and will provide 882,857 sq ft of space
    •There are three main structures that connect around a courtyard, forming the shape of Apple’s command key
    •Has the same curved windows as Apple Park and will have small parks, walking paths and wide open spaces [if these green spaces exist, they are clearly not visible, nor likely open to the neighboring residents – D]

    2 Google’s 2.3 million square feet Sunnyvale land grab in late July:

    07/27/17 Google grabs dozens of Sunnyvale properties, signaling a major expansion – Moffett Park properties valued at more than $800 million
    The properties are located on 13 different streets in a Sunnyvale business area known as Moffett Park, and the move comes as Google also explores a plan to build a massive tech campus in downtown San Jose.

    The buildings Google has bought provide combined space of at least 2.3 million square feet, according to this news organization’s review of numerous property brochures and flyers for all of the properties. Google would not disclose its plans for the properties.
    More than 11,000 Google employees potentially could work in these buildings, if the search giant fills the existing structures without dramatically altering the properties’ configurations.

    Yet some of the lots potentially could be cleared away and replaced with buildings of higher densities, if that’s Google’s inclination. Several lots have buildings that cover only half or even less of the parcels.
    Google bought at least 45 parcels in Sunnyvale on July 25 from several different sellers, according to this publication’s review of Santa Clara County property records. Those sellers are connected to affiliates of CB Richard Ellis, a commercial realty brokerage [Senator Dianne Feinstein’s husband, Richard Blum is Chairman of the Board at CB Richard Ellis. Both the SF Chronicle and even more so, the Mercury seem to have a law about ever mentioning that Blum is Feinstein’s husband– D].

    Property records show that the entities linked to CB Richard Ellis began a few years ago to buy the properties that Google eventually wound up with this week. Multiple transactions occurred in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, the county filings disclosed.

    On a side note – regarding the noted CB Richard Ellis (our US Post Office Auctioneer!) affiliates involved – I heard from a Sunnyvale resident that the building housing the ‘New’ Post Office (just a few years after already being moved) in that area was one of the July Google purchases. I attempted to do a search to verify it at the time, but it was fruitless.

  30. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Discovery of 50km cave raises hopes for human colonisation of moon Guardian

    So, just like on Earth, it will be cavemen first, and then, they can move out in the future.

  31. D

    Also re: US cities shower Amazon with offers of tax breaks

    As to:

    In San Jose, California, a city that abuts Silicon Valley and has experienced first-hand the challenges of runaway tech growth, the mayor was even more blunt.

    “For the most part, these subsidies are a bad deal for taxpayers,” mayor Sam Liccardo said in an interview on Fox TV. “Every city in this country is facing a tight budget . . . Whatever we are going to offer is still going to be a rounding error on the balance sheet of Amazon.”

    I’m glad he’s weighed in as he did, as initial Bay Area reports were noting a San Jose bid:

    09/07/17 San Jose to bid for second headquarters

    but, it’s unfortunate the piece didn’t note Mayor Liccardo’s recent Welcome Wagon to Google’s Dirdiron Park 8M square feet Monster Campus in San Jose as effectiong his commentary. Further omitted was the fact that Governor Brown has no such qualms about wanting that Amazon Campus in the Republic of California:

    10/18/17 Gov. Brown pledges hundreds of millions in incentives for Amazon HQ2 in California

    Bidders include the city of Irvine and the Irvine Co., a Santa Ana-backed private developer, Huntington Beach, Long Beach and a Los Angeles County-backed plan for Pomona.
    Highlights of California’s proposed incentives include:

    •Up to $200 million over five years under the California Competes Tax Credit program. Brown’s office pledged to work with the California Legislature to “provide certainty to Amazon in accessing these tax credits.”

    •Up to $100 million over 10 years in employment training funds “as Amazon hires and trains its workforce at the new location.” Funding is contingent on approval by the state Employment Training Panel.

    •Local property tax abatement for up to 15 years under the Capital Investment Incentive Program, subject to regional and local government approval.

    •Assistance acquiring a fleet of zero-emission shuttle buses to transport Amazon employees around its HQ2 campus.

    •A pledge to form a multi-agency “strike team” to expedite all permits and approvals, led by the director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, or GO-Biz.

    •A pledge to support legislation streamlining the approval process under the often-thorny California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA. The proposal notes that California recently extended a 2011 law to expedite judicial review of CEQA lawsuits challenging energy-efficient projects that “create good-paying jobs.”

    •A pledge to work with Amazon, local governments and other community advocates on innovative approaches to solving transportation issues around the new headquarters.

    •Other incentives include access to at least a half-dozen other existing tax credit programs, ranging from credits for spending on film and TV production to research and other business and manufacturing expenditures.

    Read the California governor’s report for Amazon:
    California Amazon Report

  32. Vatch

    This Texas town has priorities:

    A Texas town is offering residents relief grants for damage sustained by Hurricane Harvey — but applicants must first promise not to boycott Israel.

    A website for the city of Dickinson allows individuals and businesses to apply for grants from funds donated after the hurricane that dumped more than 50 inches of rain in some parts of the state. But clause 11 of the document mandates that applicants clearly state their political persuasion regarding Israel, an “egregious violation” of the First Amendment, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

    Later in the article:

    Randy Kallinen, a Houston-based civil rights attorney, told the station that the clause plainly “requires people to have a certain political expression” in order to receive governmental assistance.

    “Conditioning the much-needed relief from Harvey and other disasters upon adopting a certain political position is really something that is very distracting and slows down the process of rebuilding after Harvey,” Kallinen told the station.

    Meanwhile, people in Dickinson, a city of about 18,000 in Galveston County, are still reeling from the destruction left behind by Hurricane Harvey.

    “We are actively seeking alternative places to live because we have been told it will be at least six months before the place is to where we can get back into the house,” resident Georgeanna Santarelli told the Galveston County Daily News. “The mold is bad — it looks like chalk. The animals are getting sick and we feel bad, getting headaches and puking.”

    I wonder whether there are any special conditions for Puerto Ricans to receive assistance.

  33. Chris

    Thank you, Yves and commentariat. Interesting Saturday morning reading as always. Saw an interesting piece on CNN about the low inflation being a mystery in the US

    A quote –

    It’s the most puzzling problem in the U.S. economy today. Even Federal Reserve leaders are scratching their heads.

    Normally in a healthy economy, as unemployment goes down, workers earn more in their paychecks and prices for goods go up — ideally more than 2% annually.

    But that’s not happening, despite a very low, 4.2% unemployment rate. Since 2012, inflation has topped 2% only two times.

    “We don’t know what’s going on with inflation,” Stanley Fischer, who retired from his No. 2 post at the Federal Reserve last week, told CNBC.

    On Sunday, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said her “best guess” is that stubbornly low inflation won’t persist much longer. In September, she called it “more of a mystery” than anything else.


    A mystery, anyone can join the dots when you take low wages and a diminishing capacity for everyone to consume…. You just can’t raise prices when demand is so weak.

    1. Vatch

      … low wages and a diminishing capacity for everyone to consume

      Yes, they ought to be able to figure that out for themselves. I suspect they did figure it out, but they don’t want to publicly admit that so many people are underpaid. That would be bad publicity for the oligarchy.

      But not everyone is underpaid. On the latest Forbes list of billionaires, Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth increased by $15.5 billion over the past year, and Larry Ellison is up by $9.7 billion.

      1. Chris

        Thank you, Vlade and HotFlash. I am lucky to live in Cairns, Queensland.

        Am not the best sleeper, so am sometimes here reading in the early hours. It’s almost 8am now.

        Funny thing about our low inflation – been plenty of inflation in land prices, rents, healthcare, education, stock prices, insurances, taxes….

        but little inflation in the things that don’t matter.

        Commenting on NC in US time is a problem in my timezone and means I don’t really get to see if my comments are read, as many of you are onto a later post. But I try.

        Sad to see passionate and informed people come and go, TF today. Still, this is not my space, even if we do augment the posts and are part of the product. I write novels, but it would be bad form to promote them here…

        By the by, Had significant rain event here on Wednesday – an eight hour electrical storm, which started around 1 am and dumped 130mm of rain on our property, with numerous lightning strikes to the ground (a house only 100m away was hit (splitting in two a 100mm steel post holding shade cloth to the house)).

        Today, the sun is up and I’m off to the markets. Time to forget about all this for a while…

  34. heresy101

    The Statoil video on floating wind turbines is awesome! Nine minutes to see the scale of these turbines.

    The pictured turbines are 6 MW and the next generation is 12 MW. At a 45% capacity factor, 5,500 12 MW turbines could provide ALL the electricity (261,000 GWh) that is used in California in one year.

    The 6 MW turbines are $8,000/kW which is the same advertised price as nuclear (actual may be as low! as $10-12,000/kW if they can complete them) and would drop to $4,000/kW for the 12 MW units. Factory production could bring them down to around $2-3,000/kW. For reference, a combined cycle natural gas plant is about $1,300/kW but you have to buy natural gas for 30 years in order for them to generate electricity.

    1. HotFlash

      Well you know, the link you give shows 5 (count them 5!) wind generators failing, although when and where is not mentioned. Does not seem to be what it says on the can.

  35. Chris

    I must add that the offshore wind turbine video is jaw dropping.

    Gives me hope that we can get out of this mess.

    Beat me to it Heresy

  36. D

    One last note on the Silicon Valley TECHCORP/GOV Campus of Santa Clara County:

    092717 Google demands more office space, threatens to block North Bayshore housing

    In a standoff with city officials, Google is demanding more office space for its futuristic new “Charleston East” campus [in Mountain View – D] and is threatening to block nearly 10,000 units of critically needed housing if it doesn’t get its way.
    But during a marathon council meeting starting Tuesday night, Google warned that it would not allow that housing unless the city approved another 800,000 square feet of office space, beyond the 3.6 million contained in the draft North Bayshore plan, Siegel said.

    “That was a zinger. That caught everybody by surprise,” Siegel said Wednesday. “Forgetting the issue that Google has loads of cash, my view on that is that … our North Bayshore plan shouldn’t make the jobs/housing imbalance appreciably worse.” [Hmmm, really, caught everybody by surprise????? – D]

    Too many workers for too few homes is the foundation of the Bay Area’s housing crisis, leading to sky-high rent and home prices, long commutes, horrendous traffic and poor air quality. Mountain View and other Peninsula cities are often targeted by critics for encouraging business expansion while limiting new housing.

    Good luck San Jose residents whose Public Servants (and too many Property Owners) have just welcomed Google’s Monster San Jose Campus with open arms. As usual our dear Public Servants had no qualms about selling out the populace to a company infamous for its power and hideously homogenous and exclusive culture (among other, worldwide, deserved infamy issues Google has).

  37. ewmayer

    o “Domestication has not made dogs cooperate more with each other compared to wolves | Science Daily” — Well, duh! Domestication was all about making wolves/dogs cooperate more with *humans*. There are of course specialized human activities (e.g. sled-dogging) where one needs both kinds of cooperation, but even there, as long as the human is seen as Top Dog, the rest will fall in line even if their natural inclination is not to cooperate with each other.

    o “Infrastructure, not speculation, explains China’s corporate debt | Asia Times” — Infrastructure-spend via building of ghost cities is not a form of speculation?

    o Trailers could house those displaced by fires in California wine country | Reuters

    Inquiring minds want to know – will those be regular old FEMA refugee trailers, or the deluxe models with extra asbestos and formaldehyde? Seriously, I hope the new-built ‘to high standards’ trailers really are so, and are not just another influence-peddling gravy train for some well-connected insider. First measurable rain of the season swept southward through the Bay Area last night, hopefully was enough to help the firefighting efforts. Local news piece mentioned that too-light rain is actually worse for that than none at all, as it grounds the firefighting planes (which apparently must use VFR for their close-air-support-style retardant drops) without appreciably damping the fires. Fingers crossed!

    1. ewmayer

      Further, it seems quite plausible that domestication by humans might well make dogs *less* inclined to cooperate with each other than they do in their natural state, as they vie to curry favor with ther human Alpha, whose Pleasure surely must seem to them so much more whimsical and byzantine than that of his dog-pack analog.

      This sort of thing is near-ubiquitous in human hierarchical organizations … not sure if Lambert would characteriz it as “kicking sideways” or “kicking downwards”, perhaps “the former, in hopes of achieving a position enabling one to engage in the latter. But hey, far be it from me to get in the way of some Klugscheißer’s research-grant-funding gravy train. ;)

  38. Daryl

    > Game to give most ‘applause’ for Xi speech a smash hit in China South China Morning Post

    I read this, then I read the good Elizabeth Bruenig medium post, at the bottom of which I saw that Medium has added a “clapping” button at the bottom, which you can press to show your appreciation for a post…

    Laugh while you still can.

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