Links 11/10/17

Zombie ant’ brains left intact by fungal parasite

Soothsayer in the Hills Sees Silicon Valley’s Sinister Side NYT. “Mr. Lanier believes that Facebook and Google, with their ‘top-down control schemes,’ should be called ‘Behavior Modification Empires.'”

1 big thing: Sean Parker’s jarring Facebook tell-all Axios. Parker is a Facebook founder. Be sure to read to the “immortal overlords” part.

Facebook Isn’t Recording Your Conversations, But It May as Well Be LifeHacker

YouTube’s algorithms are terrorizing a generation of children Quartz

Monopoly critics decry ‘Amazon amendment’ The Hill (Re Silc).

Why Blocking the AT&T-Time Warner Merger Might Be Right NYT

The DOJ’s Case Against AT&T Is Stronger Than You Think — Again. Wet Machine

Only Sinclair Can Save You Salon

FTC Files Amicus Brief in Appeals Court Case Involving for-Hire Drivers in Seattle FTC

Driverless shuttle involved in crash on first day of service in downtown Las Vegas 3 News Las Vegas

SEC Chief Fires Warning Shot Against Coin Offerings WSJ

How Deutsche Bank’s high-stakes gamble went wrong FT

Deutsche Bank CEO suggests robots could replace half the company’s 97,000 employees CNBC (Re Silc). Re Silc: “So then they’d be an automated laundromat?”

Hiding in Plain Sight: How UK companies are used to launder corrupt wealth Transparency International UK (Richard Smith). Richard: “First time in years that anyone’s had a single panoptic long form look at the abuses. Ugly.”


I am determined to give our country the best possible Brexit Theresa May, The Telegraph. Paywalled. Of course. May on the EU Withdrawal Bill: “It will be there in black and white on the front page of this historic piece of legislation: the United Kingdom will be leaving the EU on March 29, 2019 at 11pm GMT.”

Keep Northern Ireland in customs union, says EU FT

Eight Things We Learned About U.K. Politics During Theresa May’s November Chaos Bloomberg

Brexit has broken British politics FT


US could have almost 16,000 troops in Afghanistan next year ABC

Trump’s Secret Iran Weapon Bloomberg. The Saudis.

The Cost of War for the U.S. Taxpayer Since 9/11 Is Actually Three Times the Pentagon’s Estimate Newsweek

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is in blackout again after power line fixed by Whitefish fails Vox

Puerto Ricans Fear Schools Will Be Privatized in the Wake of Hurricane Maria The Intercept

U.S. military joins Brazil army exercises in Amazon Reuters (Timotheus). Timotheus: “With the unelected Temer at 1% support, NOW is the time to perform joint military operations in the unprotected Amazon, of course!”

North Korea

Moving On: China Resolves THAAD Dispute with South Korea 38 North

Rep. Nancy Pelosi says she’d support a ground invasion in North Korea as a last resort Mic


A year on, Indian demonetization costs outweigh the benefits Asia Times

Demonetisation was arbitrary, says economist Larry Summers The Hindu

Kobe Steel trapped in endless chain of scandals Nikkei Asian Review

Malcolm Turnbull’s Nuclear Option To Handle The Citizenship Mess: Recall Parliament Before Christmas HuffPost (KW). KW: “The Australian Constitution say you cannot have dual citizenship if you are in Parliament. Several months ago a few politicians were outed as dual citizens; some resigned and other went to the High Court where most were booted including the Deputy Prime Minister which ended the Governments one-seat majority. More are being outed and the Government refuses to do a full audit of Parliament suggesting that instead that they state that ‘as far as they know’ they are not dual citizens. The Opposition won’t back down so this drama goes on.”

New Cold War

He Solved The DNC Hack. Now He’s Telling His Story For The First Time. Buzzfeed. CrowdStrike.

* * *

New Nato centres respond to Russia threat EU Observer

Trump Transition

U.S. Corporate Tax Reform Council on Foreign Relations

House Tax Plan Would Significantly Impact Older Adults and People with Disabilities Medicare Rights (GlennF).

‘I don’t feel wealthy’: The upper middle class is worried about paying for the tax overhaul WaPo

Trump demands end to Asia’s ‘chronic trade abuses FT

Rand Paul and his neighbor haven’t talked in years CNN

Moore allegations threaten to spark a GOP Senate crisis McClatchy

The Powerful Predators on Capitol Hill The Cut

Louis C.K. Is Accused of Sexual Misconduct by 5 Women NYT. Cf. this Gawker blind item, 2012.

Why we can’t separate Louis C.K. from his art Quartz

Health Care

A Safe And Sustainable Blood System: A Public Health Policy Imperative Health Affairs

As epidemic rages, ER study finds opioids no better than Advil and Tylenol Ars Technica

How ‘Killer King’ became the hospital of the future Politico

Imperial Collapse Watch

Letting robots kill without human supervision could save lives New Scientist (DK). Paywalled…

The Next Military-Industrial Complex, Part I: Riding Venture Capital’s Coattails War on the Rocks

How colonial violence came home: the ugly truth of the first world war Guardian

Class Warfare

The left’s myopic obsession with fairness The Week. On Corey Robin.

Ashamed to work in Silicon Valley: how techies became the new bankers Guardian

Blight & Flight: The Wisdom of Abandoned Buildings The American Conservative

The night the lights went out in Napa Recode

How to Build a Fallout Shelter Using Nothing but IKEA Furniture Vice (Re Silc). News you can use!

Marijuana Won Tuesday’s Election Forbes

Mail-Order CRISPR Kits Allow Absolutely Anyone to Hack DNA Scientific American

The Unsung Role That Ordinary Citizens Played in the Great Crime Decline NYT

Flying the Mail in Remote Idaho Air & Space

Antidote du jour (PM):

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. bronco

    In the “Zombie Ant brains” link , I’d be interested to know whether the ants continue to check their facebook status at the same frequency before and after the fungus sprouts out of their head.

    1. Ned

      Seriously, the human equivalent is the jerks that hang out in public places coughing and loudly sneezing all over other people. Does the flu virus control their social genes in order to spread itself?

      How about loudly blowing crackling sheets of snot into a handkerchief next to or near other people who are eating in a restaurant? Isn’t that a body function that projects infectious agents into the environment?

      Would it be OK for them to wipe their butts in public? Same result, infectious agents expressed and gathered in proximity, sight and sound of others. Why is public nose blowing tolerated?

  2. Jim Haygood

    “Just buy the Bubbles,” says Bloomberg:

    In 2017, Investors Can Either Buy Bubbles or Be Left Far Behind

    A portfolio stuffed with allegedly over-inflated assets would have returned more than 120 percent so far in 2017, trouncing the S&P 500 Index and underscoring the challenge for investors facing a plethora of pricey securities.

    The hypothetical ‘Bubblicious’ portfolio includes Chinese real estate and internet names, a pair of U.S. tech behemoths [Tesla and Netflix], a cryptocurrency fund, the ETF industry, bonds that mature decades from now, and a dash of short volatility bets just to make things more interesting.

    In a cheeky gesture, the Bubblicious portfolio includes a tranche of the Argentine 100-year bonds that we were discussing yesterday in Water Cooler, in connection with the ISDA’s likely declaration of a default today on Venezuelan PDVSA bonds.


    From a Bubblicious point of view, the Five Horsemen of the Techpocalypse [Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft] look like stolid old oxen pulling a creaking wooden cart as the serious bubblers blow by at 120 mph in their Bugatti Veyron.

        1. JerseyJeffersonian

          Indeed, Italian automotive design certainly results in some remarkably beautiful, yet also functional, automobiles. If I were to be so lucky – and the chances are vanishingly remote – as to win a large lottery prize, something from Maserati might be in my future; choosing between a Quattroporte, Ghibli, Gran Turismo…I’d love to have such a quandry dropped on my plate.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Bloomberg may have intended this somewhat tongue-in-cheek but it is actually sound investment advice, the global manufacturers of our scrip have seen fit to materialize mountains of their so-called “money” in order to own private enterprises and thus circumvent entirely any remaining notions of “capitalism”. So in this world where investment risk no longer exists and quaint historical capitalist notions like “profits” and “earnings” and “market share” no longer have any further relevance, the good citizen and forced user of said scrip should just get aligned with the haruspices of the top-down command-and-control Global Money Politboro. Forward Soviet!

      1. nycTerrierist

        A worthwhile read, excellent analysis of academic pathology.

        “8. The (tacitly authoritarian) insistence on acting as if institutions could not possibly behave the way the anthropology department at Yale did in fact behave leads almost necessary to victim-blaming. As a result, bullying—which I have elsewhere defined as unprovoked attacks designed to produce a reaction which can be held out as retrospective justification for the attacks themselves—tends to be an effective strategy in academic contexts. Once my contract was not renewed, I was made aware that within the larger academic community, any objections I made to how I’d been treated would be themselves be held out as retroactive justification for the non-renewal of my contract. If I was accused of being a bad teacher or scholar, and I objected that my classes were popular and my work well regarded, this would show I was self-important, and hence a bad colleague, which would then be considered the likely real reason for my dismissal. If I suggested political or even personal bias on the part of any of those who opposed renewal of my contract, I would be seen as paranoid, and therefore as likely having been let go for that very reason… And so on.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          We cannot separate a person from his/her art, nor his/her academic work.

          So, if it is what is happening in our academia, why do we want to send our kids there, even if it’s free?

          Because otherwise, Russia will make better drones than we on, and land on Mars first?

        2. Arizona Slim

          Bullying? Yeesh. The worst workplace bullying I ever experienced was in academia. Specifically, at the University of Pittsburgh. To preserve my sanity, I left the job. And Pittsburgh.

    1. barefoot charley

      nb, Stauton Lynd was similarly career cold-cocked by the University of Chicago before his rote humiliation at Yale. He’d been popular at Chicago too, with the sort of East Coast proto-Communards whom the University stopped recruiting by 1970, after expelling hundreds to stop the ’60s. Their efforts were stupifyingly successful.

    2. ex-PFC Chuck

      I haven’t got to the Graeber link yet, but I just finished the Laura Nader piece. It is awesome! She’s digging in the same lode as Jeff Schmidt in Disciplined Minds. The author was fired from the job he’d held for nearly 20 years as an editor at The American Physical Society. He sued and got his job back plus considerable compensation in an out-of-court settlement.

  3. Larry Goldsmith

    Those “humanitarian” actions by the U.S. Army in Brazil are taking place about 400 miles from the Venezuelan border.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Bloody-minded US sanctions on Venezuela, such as prohibiting trading in its debt, are counterproductive in resolving its debt default.

        Similarly, sanctioning minor political figures (ten more were added recently) just looks petty and undignified. It’s the yanqui way of micromanaging foreigners for the sake of their moral improvement.

        Practically, though, the US isn’t likely to let up until Madouche-o is out of office. And it’s not just the US — creditors see no way to reach a restructuring deal with him in charge as a potential president for life, thanks to his pliant constituent assembly.

        Whether it’s corporate or sovereign restructuring, it’s never done with the same failed management team in place that drove the bus off the cliff.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Have you examined the management team of America, LLC recently? Like over the last 100 years or so? Multiple restructurings, but the overall team sure looks familiar, decade over decade…

          Why does it seem like there’s no outcome to change in VZ that would satisfy you, if it involves non-neoliberal structure that provides those concrete material benefits that ordinary people might benefit from? What would it take, other than getting rid of Maduro, and installing what in the Rulership?

  4. Kelli

    Regarding Louis C.K., I think the guiding principle of our hypersexualized society is that Rule 1) if you state publicly and repeatedly that you are a perv, no one can claim surprise when you act accordingly, provided that (codicil A) you do not touch, lock doors, bar egress, or demand silence from those you have transgressed. Preferably you also ask permission, as polite pervs should do. There is a contractual aspect to all human interaction and he has not broken it.

    On the other hand, this is a great moment to hit the pause button and ask ourselves if this is the sort of debate we really want to be having as a society and if permissiveness is pulling us towards social anarchy?

    1. Mrs Smith

      You are basically describing consent, and it’s not just “polite pervs” who should look into it.

      “Hypersexualized” is a word people use to insinuate that women are “asking for it” because they dress, and consent to sex based on their own wants and needs, and they don’t ask for anyone else’s definition of what is appropriate for them.

      It should also be noted that underage children can never consent to sex, and it isn’t permissiveness per se that is pulling us toward social anarchy, but the mistaken assumption by men that they don’t need anyone’s permission to do whatever they want and they will never suffer any consequences for it.

      The only pause we should be taking is to teach boys and men that it is their responsibility to never sexually assault anyone, ever.

      I assume your post was an attempt to be humorous, but it missed the mark.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


        It’s about ‘asexual corporations’ profiting from (looking up the definition of the word) being excessively interested or involved in sexual activity (presumably by both men and women).

        Both men and women are victims of corporations hypersexualizing many things in our society, and it is wrong to say

        1. Women always ask for it
        2. Men always never ask permission.

        ‘Always’ is a lazy word. Percentages might not be helpful. It takes more work to look at each case on its own merits, and to treat every one as unique.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Is it consent, or something bigger?

        My wife buys stuff via the internet. The “catalog mafia” have her squarely in their sights. Most of the glossy 4-color catalogs that clutter the mailbox are pretty innocuous in most people’s view, the latest “styles” and “lifestyle fashions” aimed at various body types, though with many a subtle message that one should be “attractive,” as in thin and rich and delicate (like that common pose where the idle hands of the idle model touch forefinger and thumb of both hands together, prettily flexed). The photos often are stretched vertically to emphasize the “ideal” that goes beyond the Barbie Dolls, an item that how many girls still let into their consciousnesses?

        It is just about impossible to get off the mailing lists for these “retail outlets.” Get free of one, and the same items, selected by algos and marketing whizzes that are trained to find weaknesses in the sales resistance of the masses (my wife’s is a partiality to “Celtic” and garden stuff). I would bet that as it becomes clear how much our “household income” really is, since we fell out of the “middle class,” some of them will drop off, but retail sellers live on hope, don’t they? And all these fourth-class (!) mailings are well subsidized by our the political economy.

        But speaking of hypersexualization, and looking at the term broadly and not just as a current rallying cry for liberals, maybe laying “the problem” at the feet of “men” is a little rich. Another set of catalogs that come to our mailbox specializes in what woke women would categorize how, as “seductive dress,” or just “self-expression?” Humans for some reason, actually lots of them I think, want to be attractive to the “other sexes.” So for boudoir consumption, there are all those little patches of fabric of “seductive” (word used in catalog pitch) tinyness and silkiness and lacyness and colors, strung together with cords and thongs and “pretty straps.” And overgarments of like type. And in the middle of the catalogs, where the staples bind it together, and where it falls open when laid down, are the self-pleasure devices. Of all sorts and shapes and colors, single and double- and multiple-ended, with various surface textures and protuberances to “focus energy” on those special spots, and motorized and as noted in NC links, now part of the Internet of Things, with LED lights and glitter to add sparkle to the autoerotic and fore-five-and-sexplay that humans engage in. Of course there are also all kinds of “artificial vagina” devices, all of these flowing out of the genius of Asia and obviously part of the cultural norms there. And even shallow digging into what’s available on Youtube and the 10 billion pages of Facebook make it pretty clear that “permissiveness” is a nice liberal term of art that excludes the real nature of humans, as self-pleasing egoistic and egocentric creatures, who in my phrase are, in my preferred phrase, “any-opportunity fornicators,” whether X- or Y-linked or some combination of politically correct preferences and predilections.

        So being “woke” to the point of saying it’s all those evil men having their way with fainting helpless females is pretty, ah, biased. “Hypersexualized” was IIRC a term used by feminists and social critics of the ’70s to describe the whole culture. Not the narrow meaning ascribed to it now.

        Men abusing and overpowering and raping women and other men is a thing. So is women abusing and overpowering and raping both other women, and men too. I have lived next to lesbian couples where the more powerful beat the crap out of the other, and in one case forced the aging weaker one to continue working as a hospital nurse even though she was 74 and failing. The reference works one can find so easily on our dying internet make that human-nature reality abundantly clear.

        The catalogs with the devices and seductive clothing in them go out to WOMEN, and maybe certain preference groups among X-chroms too. There are no doubt similar catalogs for X-chroms too.

        And of course children cannot consent, and cannot resist predation by both males and females. I have some personal knowledge of how that happens. And all of this current sexual-abuse woke-iness is redolent of a vast hypocrisy: all the stuff that’s in the news at the moment, distracting us from other threats to survival. And there’s an element of hypocrisy in the kind of advantage-seeking by people claiming the moral high ground even though we all, ALL, carry the Mark of Cain and if one believes the Biblical myths, the consequences of discovering our ‘sexuality” as part of the original sin of eating from the fruits of the tree of knowledge. That includes how to make nuclear weapons and AK-47s and AR-15s, how to profit from leverage and rentals, how to lie and cheat and steal and even how to rape and grope. All wired into the unfortunate limbic system.

        If it works out, somehow, that “outing” of this set of behaviors leads to a better world for all of us, if it “brings down” some of the current Elite and powerful, I’m all for carrying on with it. Of course, powerful males and females and “others” (one thinks of the eunuchs of various Empires) come and go, but the genetic predispositions and cultural transmitters bring in new ones to replace the ones that die out (though today’s links note that the current set of Tech Titans plans to live forever, getting ever fatter and more powerful to some end or purpose or whatever. But in the court of public opinion, the “clean hands” doctrine applies, even though almost all of us are hypocrites of one flavor or another, and one ought to try for accuracy and inclusiveness in the memes one works to create.

        Not sure what the allusion might be in the pen name “Mrs. Smith,” but it recalls to me anyway, that movie titled “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” with Angela Jolie and Brad Pitt, speaking of sex, violence and trust… And that Mrs. Smith was nobody’s plaything or victim, nor did she hide herself in a burka or obscure her sexuality…

        1. JCC

          JT, I was about to answer “Mrs. Smith’s” post, too, but I’m glad I waited because I would have been less kind and more direct than your excellent reply.

          Ahh… the heck with it, I will be more direct… I am very tired of women blaming and lecturing ALL men for this sort of thing. As a male, I have been sexually harassed seriously in prior work environments. Although flattered (I was young, dumb and full of it at the time) I also found it somewhat disturbing and definitely not arousing, and was able to beg off and take my chances. Both times my upward mobility within those job environments were cut short. These situations were probably not the direct cause, but they were definitely a strong contribution to my situations.

          So women that think it’s all about men really need to wake up and smell the coffee. It isn’t just men and it isn’t just sex. As you, and many others over the years, have noted it’s primarily about immediate gratification and power.

          Men, understandably, get to take all the heat due to the fact that they are usually, but not always, in the power position. If this human condition were to be reversed this situation probably wouldn’t change very much.

        2. Elizabeth Burton

          Because sexual assault at all levels is not now and never has been about sex or sexuality. It’s about power. Period. And the fact there’s even a discussion is for the simple reason those who have power want it to be about sex because then they can go on about doing whatever they want while the majority battle each other over sex and gender.

          Even someone with a modest knowledge of the history of warfare knows that the first thing an invading army does is assault the opposition’s women (and children, and probably men as well, because it is not about sex or sexuality. The mindset, conscious or otherwise, is “I can do anything I want and you can’t stop me because you don’t have the power to do so.”

          If we truly want to stop this from happening again and again and again then we have to stop letting the facts get buried by the deflection from enforcement of power to sex.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            America was founded by Puritans and frankly the rest of Europe were glad to see the back of them, I don’t think that pretending gender differences and sexual attraction are not features of our very biology is a clever path as a society. Saying “you look nice today” is perfectly OK in Europe or in Australia where I live, and what a sad, sad world we’ll be in when that changes. Unless you suggest we’re all required to go in for neutering surgery, we can just move courtship and reproduction out of the public realm entirely and perform those messy and abominable activities in a laboratory. Count me out.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > If we truly want to stop this from happening again and again and again then we have to stop letting the facts get buried by the deflection from enforcement of power to sex.

            Yes, with this query: Are power and sex really as distinct as one might wish them to be?

            1. JTMcPhee

              Sharon Stone and Madonna and creatures like Henry “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac!” Kissinger hold that the linkage is pretty tight.

        3. Oregoncharles

          A couple of links on this subject:

          2nd thoughts, from women.

          This is a transition that should have happened back in the 70’s.

          There appears to be a lot of really inexcusable behavior out there, but most of it is a parody of the way modern courtship is SUPPOSED to work: male assertion, female choice. Inevitably, some people abuse the process.

          The Spectator article hints at a thought experiment that keeps coming up: what if men just stopped taking the sexual initiative? (That’s a long process, from first approach to “let’s go to bed.”) Call it a strike. What do we think would happen, once it sank in?

          1. Marco

            RE Men not taking the sexual initiative:
            Porn on the “Intertubes” is making that a much easier proposition. And a recent discussion with my 20yo nephew suggests that females of his generation (who incidentally don’t consume porn on the web) are much more inclined to initiate sexual encounters. Strange times.

            1. Oregoncharles

              I don’t think it’s going to happen, for obvious reasons, but there are definitely people worrying about it.

        4. cnchal

          . . . Of course there are also all kinds of “artificial vagina” devices, all of these flowing out of the genius of Asia and obviously part of the cultural norms there.

          Necessity is the mother of invention.

  5. Jim Haygood

    From the Newsweek article above: The United States military has spent more than $5.6 trillion on conflicts since 2001, more than three times the Pentagon’s estimate that it had spent around $1.5 trillion on conflicts.

    Let us recall that the Defense [sic] Department has NEVER passed an audit. It is structurally incapable of accurately identifying the cost of anything. From Federal News Radio:

    In the most recent update to its financial improvement and audit readiness plan issued in May, the DoD comptroller’s office said it was “nearly impossible to ensure data are completely and accurately feeding” between [legacy] systems, which still lack the basic capabilities needed to undergo a successful audit and, in many cases, require manual workarounds to satisfy audit demands.

    Senator Chuck Grassley is not optimistic about the outcome, either for the Marine Corps [now undergoing a full independent audit] or for DoD as a whole until the department fixes what he views as its “deal-breaking” weaknesses.

    “This is where we’ve been before,” Grassley said. “You say you’re audit ready, but you’re light years away from a clean opinion. It takes you to Nowheresville. Why go there when you know what you’re going to find? The end result has been mostly waste: $32 million for five premature [Marine Corps] audits. DoD is big, big, business for these auditing firms, and what do we get? No clean opinions.

    I’m sending a copy of this great motivational poster for Senator Grassley to hang on the wall of his office:

    1. allan

      Oh, for simpler times:

      It seems the hole the Bush administration has dug for itself just keeps getting deeper. Originally banking on a significant quotient of foreign troops, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Monday that estimates are meagre — about enough for about one division. And USA Today suggests that even that estimate might be highball. At this point, even non-veto wielding U.N. countries like India refuse to send troops into the fray — unless by U.N. mandate.

      That’s to say nothing of the increased costs of the war. Even the budget-busting $87 billion figure President was an underestimate, as Vice President Dick Cheney, according to MSNBC, sheepishly conceded that the administration might have to ask for even more money. …

      Why quibble about two orders of magnitude?
      Birth pangs of a new Middle East don’t come cheap.

      1. Vatch

        I don’t know whether a general was fired, but Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki lost influence for telling the truth, and may have been pushed into early retirement.

        This week, we mark the tenth anniversary of the day the U.S. launched the Iraq War. But when we think of how differently that war might have been fought, the most important date to remember is February 25, 2003.

        That’s when Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “several hundred thousand soldiers” would be needed in Iraq when post-hostilities control was taken into consideration.

        Shinseki’s estimate was more than double that of the George W. Bush administration, which in March 2003 sent a ground invasion force of 145,000 troops into Iraq.

        By April 2003, one month after the Iraq invasion began, it became clear that Shinseki’s troop estimate was correct. When mobs began looting government buildings and hospitals, there were not enough American soldiers to stop them. “Stuff happens!” was Rumsfeld’s explanation of the chaos.

        In 2002 Rumsfeld, irritated by Shinseki’s insistence that American troops were stretched too thin around the world, had made Shinseki a lame-duck Army chief of staff by announcing his successor while Shinseki had more than a year left to serve.

        In the spring of 2003 Shinseki chose, however, not to engage in a protracted war of words with Rumsfeld. Instead, he stuck to his position on what was needed in Iraq and waited until his Pentagon retirement ceremony in June 2003 to make his case that in the wake of 9/11, America needed more boots on the ground to meet its global responsibilities.

        1. JTMcPhee

          And it turns out that the US and “coalition” militaries were all in on the looting and rape, too. In all the “areas of operation” Over There. In addition to the looting on the Home Front.

          Grassley whining about $32 million for Marine Corps external audits, not even a rounding error in the overall wealth transfer. It’s all a bunch of gaslight and kayfabe. Some days I kind of wish someone would push the Ted Button and get the pain and bleeding over with. Today’s links have lots of info on other ways we humans might end ourselves too — I hope kids have lots of fun with their CRSP-R presents this holiday season…

        2. JCC

          I was there and seeing much of it at that time. Looting by US Companies, Haliburton/KBR in particular, was rampant. In Haliburton’s case, it was the looting of the US Govt Treasury.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Matt Taibbi, The Rip-off in Iraq: You Will Not Believe How Low the War Profiteers Have Gone. This is Parsons, not Halliburton, but the principle is the same:

            [W]hen auditors from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction visit the college in the summer of 2006, their report sounds like something out of one of the Saw movies: “We witnessed a light fixture so full of diluted urine and feces that it would not operate,” they write, adding that “the urine was so pervasive that it had permanently stained the ceiling tiles” and that “during our visit, a substance dripped from the ceiling onto an assessment team member’s shirt.” The final report helpfully includes a photo of a sloppy brown splotch on the outstretched arm of the unlucky auditor.

            Oh, and this:

            [U]ntil one day in the summer of 2003, when you retire to take a job as an executive for Parsons, a private construction company looking to do work in Iraq.

            Now you can finally move out of your dull government housing on Bolling Air Force Base and get your wife that dream home you’ve been promising her all these years. The place on Park Street in Dunn Loring, Virginia, looks pretty good — four bedrooms, fireplace, garage, 2,900 square feet, a nice starter home in a high-end neighborhood full of spooks, think-tankers and ex-apparatchiks moved on to the nest-egg phase of their faceless careers. On October 20th, 2003, you close the deal for $775,000 and start living that private-sector good life.

            Fast forward a decade, and you’re one of those wealthy Virginia suburbanites to whom Democrats are going to appeal to win in 2018 and 2020. Or in pictorial form:

        3. witters

          “America needed more boots on the ground to meet its global responsibilities” is the problem, not the answer.

    2. Ned

      O.K. Jim, I’ll bite. Didn’t the jet hit the one part of the Pentagon that had not been reinforced yet and which just happened to contain the accounting department?

      Building 7, WTC, isn’t that where all the SEC files were stored from the various 1980s mergers and other ENRONish things?

      1. voteforno6

        Actually, no. That section of the Pentagon had just been renovated, so not many people had moved back in yet. Besides, there really isn’t a single accounting department in the building.

          1. JerseyJeffersonian

            Sure HAL, that musta happened, just like THEY said it did. Who ya gonna trust, your lyin’ eyes or THEM. s/

  6. Doug

    Damon Linker’s critique of Corey Robin — “myopic obsession with fairness” — rests on the eminently reasonable proposition that human interactions are complicated and multidimensional — and, so, as he puts it benefit from the ‘art of balance’. Linker’s balance is put in fancy language calling for a blend of the “horizontal” (Robin’s fairness concerns) and the “vertical” (Linker’s claim for conservatives who value hierarchy, authority, and so forth).

    Linker admires Robin’s writing — and recommends it to conservatives. Good for him.

    Yet, he claims that conservatives value both the horizontal and the vertical while Robin and liberals valorize only the horizontal.


    Linker ought to get out more. By the Forest Gump (“stupid is as stupid does”) definition of words — that is, what words actually mean based on action itself — any definition of conservatism today that would claim adherence by, you know, actual, living, breathing people who identify as conservatives simply cannot claim any ‘art of balance’ whatsoever.

    Linker might not like the farce of contemporary conservativism. But patronizing liberalism for whatever emphasis Linker wishes to see is a smoke screen. The real work he — and his ilk — ought to be doing rests lest in worrying about Robin and much much more in this: Fix your own house first.

    1. DJG

      Thanks, Doug. In the middle of the piece, he adds those three extra verticalities or virtues or whatever they are, such as hierarchy and deference and religiosity–great recipes for maintaining a democratic polity! After all, look at the success of the magazine of the Italian Fascists, Gerarchia. Hierarchy, some of Mussolini’s favorite reading.

      And there is this rather reactionary paragraph in the middle of the article, too, from a guy who claims to be a centrist:
      “This requirement is woven into the fabric of social life, a product of the inequality of knowledge and wisdom within it. Just as we sensibly defer to the authority of doctors when seeking medical treatment and to pilots when boarding an airplane, so it is perfectly reasonable to recognize that some of our fellow citizens are more worthy than others of deference in political matters — and thoroughly unreasonable to think any political community can get away without such deference.”

      I’m thinking of the deference due to Francisco Franco all those years and how well it has panned out for Spain, which is still wracked by the evil residues of verticality and deference.

      And there’s the deference of getting off the sidewalk when a white person appears.

      I’m wondering who Linker deigned to vote for in the last few presidentials.

      1. TK421

        so it is perfectly reasonable to recognize that some of our fellow citizens are more worthy than others of deference in political matters

        I could get behind that–with the understanding that political office held, or funds raised, or even number of votes given have nothing to do with who is worth deferring to.

  7. petal

    For those in VT/NH/MA(that want to make the trip), Lawrence Wilkerson will be speaking at Dartmouth in Hanover, NH on December 7th from 4-6pm in Life Science Center Room 100. The title is “The End of Empire: America’s Fall From Grace?”. It is free and open to the public.

    1. Jen

      If any NC readers in the area are interested in a meetup afterward, there are a few places in Hanover that might suit.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Looks to me like Mitch and the Establishmentarians are trying to nip a Bannon protegee in the bud before national exposure propels an even crazier, more dangerous right-wing “populist” to prominence.

      Having ignored this guy’s background for more than a decade, I was surprised to find West Point and Vietnam in his background. More fallout from the Endless War Machine?

      1. Vatch

        Roy Moore has been stirring the pot a lot longer than Steve Bannon has been supporting him. Assuming the Wikipedia article on Moore is accurate, here are a few of his idiosyncrasies:

        Moore was a strong opponent of a proposed amendment to the Alabama Constitution in 2004 that would have removed a requirement that there be separate schools for “white and colored children”.

        He thinks that the September 11 attacks and the Sandy Hook massacre occurred as punishment for declining religiosity.

        He rejects the scientific fact of evolution.

        He opposes preschool, because attendess are “much more likely to learn a liberal social and political philosophy”. Really? Three and four year olds are going to learn philosophy in preschool?

        Roy Moore will be a national embarrassment if he’s elected to the Senate.

        1. JTMcPhee

          “Conservatives” believe that 3and4 year olds can pick up their lifelong political and social philosophies in “school,” and are pushing hard to privatize them, control the curricula of remaining public programs, and also advance the large numbers of “church” preschool programs. And from what I have seen of what and how children learn, I’d say Moore and fellow creatures are right. As in “correct,” as well as the other thing.

    2. Butch in Waukegan

      This twitter thread, written by a victim of abuse, states “there is a segment of evangelicalism and homeschool culture where the only thing Roy Moore did wrong was initiating sexual contact outside of marriage.”

      Given the prevalence of evangelicals in Alabama I doubt the charges will affect the outcome of the election.

      1. Vatch

        Interesting thread. Thanks.

        I’ve contributed to four political candidates this year. Three of them are from the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic party. I’m not sure about the fourth, but I really don’t care, because he’s Doug Jones, and he’s running against Roy Moore.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Yes, that and “the liberal Washington Post.”

        I wonder if there’s a generational component, though. Perhaps younger evangelicals aren’t quite as on board with the prerogatives of elder males? (Though they might stay home instead of voting for the Democrat.)

  8. allan

    A Washington county that went for Trump is shaken as immigrant neighbors start disappearing [Seattle Times]

    The URL says it all. And before people start saying, “Obama …”, there’s this:

    ICE activity isn’t new to Pacific County. In 2006, the agency raided a seafood company and arrested 16 workers. In the 1980s and ’90s, immigration officers conducted sweeps that took away dozens at a time, said Sheriff Scott Johnson.

    But the Obama years, despite a record level of deportations nationally, seemed to leave the county’s immigrants pretty much alone. …

    They voted for tough enforcement thinking that it was going to happen someplace else.

    1. GERMO

      Great link, thanks!
      It’s amazing-but-not-surprising that this addendum is at the bottom of the article:

      Editor’s note: Due to the number of comments on this story that violated our Terms of Service, the comment thread has been removed.

  9. The Rev Kev

    If 100,000 troops could not break the Taliban only a few years ago (, then how are 16,000 troops suppose to win? Foreign troops come and go but the Taliban are always there as they actually live in the joint.
    If only General Colin Powell, when he had power, could have come up with some sort of Doctrine to deal with situations like this. Oh wait, he did –

    1. doug

      Not going for the win. As you point out, impossible. Going for eternal occupation, military bases, and war.

      1. JerseyJeffersonian

        If you can’t outright “win”, make sure that you f up the place so badly that nobody else can strike a modus vivendi that would be liveable for all. Besides, maintaining a base so close to the ‘Stans is a way to surveil the activities of other actors, or maybe, if you are really cynical, to serve as a launching pad for subversion, skipping merely knowing what the others are doing, to actively working to sow chaos and mayhem. That was the game plan in, oh, Kosovo, Libya, Syria, just off of the top of my head, and look how well that has succeeded. If you define success as “area denial” in some construence of the term that is.

  10. Livius Drusus

    Re: The left’s myopic obsession with fairness, I agree with Linker, the obsession with fairness has brought us to the current liberal obsession with meritocracy. If we ever achieved a real meritocracy it would probably be the worst dystopia in history as Michael Young pointed out in his satirical novel The Rise of the Meritocracy. The elite would believe that they completely deserve their privileges and power and owed nothing to the lower orders. The lower orders would know that they are inherently inferior to their betters and thus feel powerless and worthless.

    I would argue that paternalistic conservatism is actually preferable to the system we live under now in the West. I would rather have One Nation Conservatives in power than the neoliberals who dominate most major Western political parties today. FDR was a patrician. The Prussian Junker Otto von Bismarck supported the world’s first worker’s compensation laws.

    This is why I don’t care about nepotism among the elite. As long as their policies are favorable to working people I don’t care if politicians are from political dynasties. Besides, even ordinary people try to use connections to score jobs and other advantages if they can. It is natural to favor your family and friends to some degree. Nepotism only becomes a problem when it becomes extreme or when elites hypocritically preach meritocracy while practicing nepotism with their own family and friends

    1. bronco

      “Besides, even ordinary people try to use connections to score jobs and other advantages if they can. ”

      Sure do, go to any small town in America and look at the fire department , how many have the same last name? The water dept are those guys cousins. The public works guys are all drinking at the same bar room until closing time , and when they drive home drunk , their uncle the cop waves to them as they weave home without pulling them over.
      Its human nature to build out a support system of family and friends. Steer jobs to people that will have your back etc. It is everywhere you look.

      It’s not just the elites its joe sixpack too.

      1. Livius Drusus

        Good point. I just read the article again and I think you are right. Still, I think Linker makes some good points about some of the positive aspects of conservative thought that people on the left should take seriously.

        One book that I just finished that could be considered somewhat conservative is The Lost City: The Forgotten Virtues Of Community In America by Alan Ehrenhalt. Ehrenhalt argues that limits and authority might actually be good for many ordinary people which sounds like a conservative argument although Ehrenhalt does criticize obsession with the free market as well so it is not entirely conservative in the way most modern Americans think about conservatism.

    2. Vatch

      Paternalistic conservatism might be better than market fundamentalism (the confusingly named “neo-liberalism”), but that doesn’t mean that it is good. I suspect that when Bismarck and his allies in the German government intitiated workers’ compensation, they were trying to restrain potential revolutionary or labor union activity. In the 1880s, when the workers’ compensation law was enacted, most labor union activity was illegal in Germany. Similary, Franklin Roosevelt was trying to save capitalism (and he succeeded). The paternalists will support reforms, so long as the oligarchs are allowed to keep their wealth, power, and most of their privileges.

      1. Oregoncharles

        “Neo-liberal” isn’t really neo; it’s what “liberal” used to mean, and still does outside the US. Essentially, it mean laissez-faire: “freedom” for business. At the time, that may have been an improvement over the government-licensed monopolies that dominated trade.

        In the US, “liberal” meant the New Deal and its successors; essentially a restoration of government interference and a neat reversal of the original meaning. (Still very imperialist, though; responsible fo rthe Vietnam War, for one). Now the economic elements have faded away; hence “neo”-liberal.

        Progressive was adopted as a euphemism for liberal after the latter was demonized – as well as actually degraded. We try to draw a distinction between the two, now, but it’s difficult.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A bit of everything. And luck too, as it is relevant who is doing it.

      Justice with compassion.

      Ethics with economics considerations. You do what you can, ( considered of others, costs and benefits) to save your starving family.

      Are virtuous sounding ideas being manipulated cynically by greedy psychopaths, as damaging as, or more damaging than, results-wise, disagreeing ideas advocated by people who believe in them?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Would you say he was not too dogmatic, not a purist?

        ‘The good is good enough, thought it’s not the perfect’ – that kind of guy?

  11. Mrs Smith

    The whole James Bridle thing is fascinating to me, especially considering how far and wide it has spread. I don’t know him personally, but I do have friends and colleagues who know him and his wife, so as I watched the article get tweeted and retweeted, then picked up by multiple other news sources (Really Quartz? You could have at least edited it!) I started wondering why so many people are freaked out by the concept of algorithmic content specifically created for children. This is literally how “new” media technology has always worked. Radio, TV, video, gaming, and on and on and on—boundaries get pushed, and often children are at the forefront of exposure and the experience. They don’t know it’s different from the past.

    I find it particularly funny that Bridle who has no children, seems to have no awareness of just how weird and slightly creepy little kids’ imaginations can be. Remember Carol Ann in “Poltergeist”? She had a doll whose head kept falling off, and she was totally calm about her bird dying, and voices calling to her from the TV.

    Yes, some of those YouTubeKids vids seem odd, or slightly off, but I just don’t see how this is much more shocking than the hours of animated TV that I grew up watching. There has never been a dearth of racist, sexist, etc., inappropriate content in children’s programming, so why does the idea of an algorithm framing storylines seem so much more creepy than when humans do it?

    I suppose the idea that the Internet is just the wild, wild west for content has never occurred to any of these people. No one screams about the insane amounts of fetish pr0n that’s infested the world wide web since forever, so why is everyone so surprised that children may be exposed to exactly the same types of key word content creation? Do we need awareness, and supervision of children’s viewing habits? Absolutely, but even Bridle himself admits he was exposed to internet pr0n way before he probably should have been, and he seems to be alright…

    I’m personally fascinated by the idea of AIs teaching children how to structure or catalog their thinking and how it might change or shift our understanding of intelligence. I’m not so much interested in what the kids are seeing, but how they are *understanding* what they are seeing. Humans who “think” like AI is an adaptation that might be horrifying to us, but we should consider the potential benefits it might bring as well.

    1. TK421

      You raise a good point. Look at the fairy tales children were told generations ago. Heck, I remember a version of “Rapunzel” where the prince tried to climb her tower, fell into a rose bush, and got his eyes poked out. Fortunately, her tears cured him. We are raising children to be sheltered and fragile, in my opinion.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      To experiment on humans without their consent?

      Babies learn a language without thinking they are learning. Parents teach their babies to speak without a Ph.D. degree in how it should be taught. It has been done since we first evolved, without us knowing all the mysteries involved.

      The concern is with AI teaching children, we, or the kids, might be missing things that are still mysterious to us. They will not learn them.

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      The problem is that parents have seen personality changes in very young children who watch a lot of the “strange videos,” some of it bordering on, if not being, addiction. I don’t think Mr. Bridle is advocating censorship; indeed, if I recall he very specifically said he wasn’t. His goal was to ensure parents, in particular, understood what was happening so they might pay more attention to what their very young kids are watching.

      I’ll just add that using an example of a fictional character in a movie is kind of a stretch to justify the opinion that young children have weird minds. They also have very open minds, given the years prior to 5 are the ones wherein they learn the most about the world and their basic role in it. Try watching the weird stuff from that framework.

      Wailing that parents are using TV and/or the internet as “babysitters” isn’t the message in that piece. He’s simply saying that people who may not have the best interests of their toddler audiences at heart are manipulating the system by producing crap, but crap that ends up getting seen over and over and over. If parents wouldn’t let their kids eat garbage, it’s not likely they want them watching it for several hours a day, either. Heck, we grownups shouldn’t be doing it.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      On the heads of Chinese ritual bronze Guang vessels, one sees something similar to a giraffe’s ossicones.

      Here is the link to the Wikipedia entry on Guang:

      As similar bronze elephant Zun vessels show the existence of elephants in ancient Northern China, I wonder if giraffes roamed there around the same time too.

  12. allan

    Pass-throughs remain a train wreck in the Senate Finance Committee chairman’s mark [StartMakingSense]

    For reasons I have discussed in earlier posts, I continue to be baffled (other than on cynical grounds) by the Congressional Republicans’ interest in creating lower tax rates for pass-through income. So it’s a disappointment, though not a surprise, to find this bad idea being perpetuated in the Senate Finance Committee chairman’s mark. …

    While the tax rate cut is smaller at the top than in the House bill, in some ways the guardrails are even weaker. …

    The provision remains unmotivated industrial policy that sacrifices efficiency, simplicity, revenue, and progressivity in exchange for I can’t see what (apart from pleasing donors and employing tax planners). Admittedly, in several respects it is not quite so laser-focused on people at the very top as the House bill. But still there’s no tradeoff here – it’s just bad tax policy.

    Simplifying the tax code so much that you’ll be able to list all of your lawyers, accountants, partnerships
    and offshore accounts on a single (two-sided) postcard.

  13. Tertium Squid

    The whole internet thing was supposed to create the world’s best information resource in all of history,” he says. “Everything would be made visible. And instead we’re living in this time of total opacity where you don’t know why you see the news you see. You don’t know if it’s the same news that someone else sees. You don’t know who made it be that way. You don’t know who’s paid to change what you see. Everything is totally obscure in a profound way that it never was before.

    1. paul

      It’s very hard not to like Lanier, he has moved pretty gracefully from enthusiast to apostate.
      He is on the mark re the crude BME results, VR just now is still pretty demanding (though its effects are pretty outstanding) in terms of hardware and complicity. A few well placed ‘memes’ (why people find that an adequate replacement for propaganda, I’ll never know) work surprisingly well.
      Apple’s choice of Augmented Reality as their focus seems to be more astute. All foreseen by the American great; John Carpenter in ‘They Live’.

      Frank: What do these things want?

      Gilbert: They’re free-enterprisers. The earth is just another developing planet. Their third world.

      For lanier’s vision,Daivid Cronenberg was getting close 18 years ago.

      1. paul

        As a taster:

        Ted: We’re both stumbling around together in this unformed world, whose rules and objectives are largely unknown, seemingly indecipherable or even possibly nonexistent, always on the verge of being killed by forces that we don’t understand.

        Allegra: That sounds like my game, all right.

        Ted: That sounds like a game that’s not gonna be easy to market.

        Allegra: But it’s a game everybody’s already playing.

      2. norm de plume

        I find it hard to take seriously any prognostications an Iraq War supporting liberal hawk like Lanier comes up with. Enthusiast to apostate on that too. Bush would call him a flip-flopper, though I guess that is preferable to being an inflexible flipper or flopper. Anyway, his prescience should be taken with salt.

  14. Jim Thomson

    re: Deutsche Bank

    Like replacing the CEO.

    The robots would save the most money by replacing the top 50%, not the bottom 50%.
    They could even be programmed to follow the law.

    1. makedoanmend

      Ta for the chuckle about replacing the top 50%.

      “They could even be programmed to follow the law.”

      Meta question: but can we program politicians to make good laws and then adjust the laws as circumstances change?

      …turtles all the way down

  15. Tom

    RE: He Solved The DNC Hack. Now He’s Telling His Story For The First Time.

    The “he” is Robert Johnston, an IT whiz who led the Marine’s Cyber Protection Team 81 unit and later worked for CrowdStrike. He believes the DNC was hacked by the same email phishing attack in May 2015 that also targeted the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s computers.

    The whole “he solved the DNC hack” premise of the article hinges on this paragraph:

    “Soon, Johnston and the others identified the malware. It was associated with APT 29, for “advanced persistent threat,” a hacker group widely believed to be linked to the FSB, Russia’s federal security service.”

    I count three qualifiers in that second sentence: “associated with,” “widely believed,” and “linked to.”

    In the very next paragraph, Johnston is quoted on how completely atypical this particular Russian hack was:

    “Usually, he said of Russian hackers, “their operations are very surgical. They might send five phishing emails, but they’re very well-crafted and very, very targeted.” But this time it was a broadside. “The target list was, like, 50 to 60,000 people around the world. They hit them all at once.” It’s rare, he said, for “an intel service to be so noisy.”

    By “noisy,” he means that the attackers were drawing a huge amount of attention, sending out 50,000 phishing emails, as if they didn’t care that anyone knew what they were doing.”

    Seems like no one asked the obvious follow-up questions. “Why would the Russian intel service be so incredibly sloppy on such a high stakes hack?” And, “Did you ever wonder if someone impersonated a Russian attack and purposely made it obvious so that it would be detected?”

    1. Byron the Light Bulb

      “Why would the Russian intel service be so incredibly sloppy on such a high stakes hack?”–The emails are not the ends, but the means. To be able to dangle a cache of stolen email bait, the derp needs to be aware that there has been a very public breach and the emails are floating out there for the derp to covet. If the breach was done surreptitiously, the derp is less likely to crave that sweet golden email juice. The derp is likely to dismiss the juice vendor as unpopular phony. But if a go-getting campaign elf pops up at the big boy’s table, has a guy, and can get the derp that juice box? Well, then, tally-ho.

    2. paul

      If there is something we have all learned in the last 12 months, RUSSIANS can do anything, in ways our hapless, rights bounded security services could never contemplate.
      This is our missile gap, which will only be resolved by throwing increasing resources into the hypnotically swirling toilet bowl of national security.

    3. voteforno6

      There are three elements to this story, I think, in order to establish its validity:

      1) Prove that Russia hacked the DNC / Podesta
      2) Prove that Russia supplied the emails to Wikileaks
      3) Prove that those emails had a significant impact on the election

      The evidence for the first is spotty, at best. Even if they show that Russia hacked them (it’s possible), there has been zero evidence that Russia supplied the emails to Wikileaks. They could’ve hacked them as part of intelligence gathering efforts. The DNC is a high-profile target, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they hacked by multiple parties. Finally, as far a I can tell, no one has attempted to assess the actual impact of those emails on t election. Even if they did have an impact, so what? They were legitimate.

      1. Byron the Light Bulb

        Only the *mark* needs to believe Russian security has access to the emails. The rest is noise. The election outcome is irrelevant. Emails moving to and from Wikileaks is irrelevant. It is even a more elegant operation if the data never actually resided on a Russian agent’s network, campaign HQ is convinced otherwise, and the emails are strung-out, never to be delivered to the campaign. The objective is to position pliant people next to the President and steer his decision making. The potential for implication in unlawful access is one of a number of levers to flex obeisance [Money, Ideology, Coercion, Ego]. Evidence of criminal activity can be made to appear and disappear depending the intelligence product delivered [Coercion]. Is it the mediocrity of the players or the mixed results that trips the baloney wires?

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Ooh, “position pliant people next to the president and steer his decision making”, um let me see which foreign nation has managed to do that at scale. Oh, look: Israel. Doesn’t hurt that significant numbers of U.S. Senators and Congressmen are somehow allowed to pledge their allegiance not to one nation (the U.S.) but two nations (the U.S. and Israel) simultaneously. So they are allowed to make the most sensitive of all policy decisions for the U.S., not merely while being “influenced” by another nation but actually having pledged their allegiance to that second nation. Kind of makes the “Putin did it!” meme pale by comparison I would think.

          So just come out with the question it seems you are dying to ask: “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”. Maybe afterwards you can trot the press out to a pumpkin patch and show us the hidden microfilms. Throw in some Boris and Natasha cartoons for the kiddies and the retread of that sad chapter in American hysteria will be complete.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              “Are you now or have you ever been a citizen of a foreign power?” LOL I can imagine that question being asked of a prominent Senator or two on live TV and blowing the head off of a few CNN news scribes…

    4. lyman alpha blob

      My guess is they thought if they gave an actual name of a person making the accusations the rubes might find it more believable. Other than naming this Johnson fellow, the article is once again tremendously fact-free.

      There was also this quote, similar to the one you pulled above:

      Malware from the first attack had been festering in the DNC’s system for a whole year. The second infiltration was only a couple of months old. Both sets of malware were associated with Russian intelligence.

      “Associated with” – haven’t we read numerous articles at this point explaining how hacking tools once released into the wild, can be used by anybody?

      1. Ned

        Nothing like using a military intelligence cutout to blame it all on the Rooskies…

      2. Tom

        Another point I wasn’t aware of is that the FBI called Yared Tamene, the tech-support contractor at the DNC, numerous times starting in September 2015 to alert him that hackers had breached their servers. Even after repeated calls, nothing was done for 8 months.

        You would think the guy would have been fired, right?

        No, according to his LinkedIn profile, he still works for the contractor, MIS Department, Inc. He also includes this as part of his experience:

        Architected, managed and engineered the remediation efforts of 2016 post-APT 28 and 29 attacks

        And that’s how you turn lemons into lemonade, my friend. That’s the DC way.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s certainly odd that paid consultants hired by the DNC are being treated as credible sources, of which there are very few. When you think that “Russian hacking” is being treated, by Clinton, as a casus belli, it moves from odd to alarming.

    6. JCC

      They (Crowdstrike) also renamed APT29 to “Cozy Bear” which is the only way it has been described since then even though it been known solely as APT29 previous to Crowdstrike and DNC’s propaganda push.

  16. el_tel

    Bit worried about the study showing no benefit to opioids over NSAIDs (aspirin) plus paracetemol. These studies are never representative of wider “real” population. Now I *DON’T* generally defend opioids. However aspirin thins the blood causing all sorts of problems for people on drugs like Lithium and MAOI antidepressants. Lithium toxicity is baaad. Are such people getting (very) frequent testing and if necessary drugs to reverse their “normal” drugs? That’s all VERY intensive snd expensive. (Plus most MAOIs are irreversible – I must carry a card and have in big letters on phone lock screen else I die in operating theatre).

    Given crapification of health care – one benefit of which is switching people to the old drugs that WORK and are CHEAP – how sure are we that this trial represents the “real” world?

    1. Spring Texan

      It does NOT represent the real world, the study is dishonest:

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Here is the key paragraph from the ACSH link:

        One thing that becomes immediately obvious is that the comparison of the four different drug combinations is skewed. In Group 1, patients received the maximum single dose of both ibuprofen and acetaminophen. But in the three other groups, they received the minimum therapeutic dose of the opioid and a small dose of acetaminophen (1).

        I would want to know more about clinical practice before I said “dishonest.” I don’t see a prima facie reason not to give the minimum dose of an opioid; I remember discussing the whole minimum/maximum issue with a nurse years ago, before there was an opioid crisis, and it was a judgement call even then. If the JAMA study is skewed, so be it, but if the skew reflects clinical practice, I’m not sure I see an issue. Readers?

        1. Vatch

          As I pointed out yesterday, I’m concerned that the test used a very high dose of acetaminophen in the combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen. That particular dose (1000 mg acetaminiphen and 400 mg ibuprofen) could only be taken 3 times per day (once every 8 hours), and not once every 4-6 hours, as people usually take those drugs.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Even 3 grams of acetaminophen in 24 hours is not healthy for a whole lot of people, especially over protracted periods, as with the many people with chronic pain which can result from a huge set of diseases and injuries. 3 grams is uncomfortably close to the single-intake amount, t ,that will produce irreversible liver damage. A bad way to die. The pill pushers have not helped– drug manufacturers used to put up most acetaminophen in 325 mg pills and caps, now most are “extra strength” at 500 and 750 up to 1,000 mg per pill. And of course minimum effective and max doses of medication come off tables that very often have suspect provenance. And also each of us differs in smaller or greater degrees in the way our bodies respond to and metabolize these medication. One size does not hardly fit all, though the rotten medical mess we suffer here thanks to “profit” is driving the art and caring of medicine into postholes and straitjackets of convenience and plain cruelty.

            1. el_tel

              acetaminophen also potentially bad due to the number of patients who are on drugs (or alcohol) which already put a strain on the liver.

              Plus, a clarification to my point above – I meant to to type ibuprofen not aspirin when mentioning NSAIDS but in most cases the same (potentially lethal) interaction between some regular meds and ibuprofen is there due to the fact blood levels of the regular med can quickly go into the lethal zone.

              I believe the sentence that shows just how much the relevance of this study has been overstated is that patients “were on no medications that might interact with the pain treatment

              1. Moocao

                The study gets to as “real life” as possible within the Randomized Controlled Trial setting. Please elucidate how else would you do the study in the chaotic ER setting that would still produce blinded results?? I don’t get the criticism. If you worked in the ER, you can see how this study took a VERY long time to even get to set-up phase. Any further attempt to make this more “real life” would make the results hard to interpret, as it would violate RCT rules.

                With tylenol and alcohol: of course you cannot drink while on tylenol. This has been beaten to death in every single medical professional’s brain, and if you ask any pharmacist in the country on whether you can drink while taking tylenol, the answer should be an unequivocal no.

                Opioids should NOT be mixed with alcohol either, as the potentiation effect would make respiratory depression a real risk, so therefore the argument of “cannot use alcohol” applies to both opioids and acetaminophen.

                NSAID’s lethal interaction is mostly with agents that causes gastrointestinal bleeds, cardiac disease, or with renal failure, or if a person has a bleeding disorder, and the lethality is based on length of exposure. If you only use NSAIDs for < 7 days for pain relief, the lethal interactions should NOT cause undue harm, unless of course you have other problems. That's why you should have a PCP if you do have health problems.

                Look, medicine is complicated, because there are so many interactions you need to worry about. The Opioid Crisis is fueled by the rise of oxycodone, and sequentially, heroin. ANYTHING that can be used to counteract the use of opioids should be applauded. The ER used to be the gateway prescription dispensing setting, and it should not be the gateway for getting opioids. It was ONLY because of patient satisfaction scores that the ERs were forced to dispense 30 days opioid prescriptions (Thanks Press Ganey and Administration). Now that this study is out, it will force many ERs to dispense opioids as little as possible,

                If you need a pain management doctor, that's fine. Just please don't use the ER for this purpose.

        2. Moocao

          Again, the assumption of max dose is improper. We should say usual dose. The authors did use the usual ibuprofen doses as well as the usual Tylenol doses.

          Personally I see nothing improper with the study. Vicodin arm and Percocet arm are using the usual doses, although I have no idea why codeine arm was included. Percocet dose can be higher, but so would the risk of addiction.

          For NSAIDS and Tylenol, max doses are clearly defined as the breach of these doses can reach toxic effects. For opioids, it is quite difficult to state what is max dose, as tolerance plays a huge role in determining the toxic dose. Therefore, to use ‘max dose’ as a barometer for pain dosing is not appropriate.

          1. Vatch

            The maximum dose of acetaminophen was used in combination with a normal dose of ibuprofen. The normal dose of acetaminophen was used in combination with the opioids. See:


            Who: 416 patients (ages 21 to 64 years) with moderate to severe acute extremity pain in two urban emergency departments were randomly assigned to receive

            — 400 mg ibuprofen and 1,000 mg acetaminophen

            — 5 mg oxycodone and 325 mg acetaminophen

            — 5 mg hydrocodone and 300 mg acetaminophen; or

            — 30 mg codeine and 300 mg acetaminophen

            When: July 2015 to August 2016

            1. el_tel

              Indeed. This touches on so many issues – I didn’t like being criticised elsewhere on implication that I didn’t recognise this was the best way to evaluate treatments. Of course RCTs are the gold standard -my phD was on them – but as you say maximum size of paracetamol “outsources” liver risks to patients once they’re out of the trial. The UK now won’t allow you to buy large numbers of pills OTC. Selection bias in RCTs these days is huge – medicine is indeed complicated and longitudinal studies have their role too, for identifying longer term followup, finding out what happens to the “typical patients” out there – ruling out all those who shouldn’t take an NSAID is a major limitation. Yes there’s an opioid crisis but there’s also a mental health crisis and many of these are on drugs (and at such a high dose) that mean even small doses of an NSAID could send their mental health drug into toxic (life threatening) territory.

              Richard Smith (former editor of BMJ) now speaks candidly about the fact journal editors are part-journalists (Google his presentations) and when a sexy RCT is submitted which appears to be suspiciously well timed to address a fairly recently well documented public health crisis you have to look very closely at it. I’d guess over 90% of patients were ineligible for this RCT due to NSAID issues and given the wealth of information suggesting opioid dependence has a lot to do with personality type and socioeconomic issues I think a lot more scepticism of this RCT is warranted. And can we have replication please?

              1. Moocao

                Understood. I apologize if my criticisms are too harsh.

                The United States is in the forefront of the opioid crisis, and day after day ER/ICU providers are dealing with the after-effects of the absolutely irresponsible education provided a decade earlier by the pain industry. Yes every medication has its cost/benefit facet, but on what we have seen lately, I would take the NSAID/acetaminophen poison over the opioid poison; at least the former isn’t addictive…

                Personal experience: I am numb when i see these patients now. It gets tiresome. I actually decided to move onto a different field instead of dealing with this, it psychologically eats at you. When these scenarios happen over and over again, the person taking care of these patients lose something important: they lost compassion.

                I have a story about an individual, whom was a young man who liked to surf on the beaches of Miami. His family was well off, and he loved life. He got into a surfing accident, and broke his body. This accident wasn’t the event that ruined his life, however, it was the percocet that was prescribed to him. He became addicted, and he shopped around for doctors. He became a common fixture at our Hospital, coming once monthly, usually for the same thing: overdoses.

                A decade later, he is still here. Now his drug of choice is heroin with alcohol. Bacteremia, sepsis, now DVT, all as a result of his drug abuse. Now tell me, if he wasn’t prescribed large doses of percocet when he had his surfing accident, would his life been better? I think so, but I cannot tell. I can only say that if only he wasn’t given the pain meds prescribed to him, perhaps his life would be different. If we the medical community didn’t follow the damn pain industry guidelines, perhaps our country would be different. Perhaps if we didn’t get snookered into believing that the things that were told by our “experts”, things could be different. This young man is now “old”, even if his age is still young.

                That is why I would take this study, because I have seen the other side – addiction is horrible, robs a person a decade of his prime, and robs him the rest of his life. What is the worse that acetaminophen can do, if taken properly at < 3gm/day? a bit of liver damage? What is the worse NSAIDs can do? a bit of GI upset? What is the worse opioids can do if taken properly: the answer is risk of addiction.

                1. Vatch

                  would take the NSAID/acetaminophen poison over the opioid poison; at least the former isn’t addictive…

                  You’re correct about the dangers of opioid addiction, but please don’t take 1000 mg of acetaminophen in a single dose, and try to keep your daily total below 3000 mg. Never consume any alcohol with it, either. Too much acetaminophen, or a combination of it with alcohol, can cause life threatening liver damage.

      2. allan

        About ACSH

        The Billion Dollar Problem Science In America Faces

        Anti-science groups determined to undermine American dominance routinely insist the pro-science community is composed of “industry front groups.” Political cabals from Sourcewatch to Greenpeace appeal to their financial base by promoting belief in a vast science conspiracy secretly funded by corporations to harm the planet for profit. Yet when pressed for evidence they simply link to each other repeating the same claims. Financial reality shows the real industry wealth is on their side. While anti-science activism generates over a billion dollars per year, we are 1/500th of that …

        What People Have Said About Us

        “ACSH knows the difference between a health scare and a health threat.”
        – The Wall Street Journal

        “By increasing our understanding of complex issues, you help Americans make sound decisions about their well-being and influence public policy.”
        – George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States

        “ACSH brings to the table good common sense about food and health.”
        – Julia Child

        “Putting health risks in proper perspective – and educating journalists, legislators, and others about them – is what the American Council on Science and Health is all about”
        – Steve Forbes

        “As a medical doctor, I know that scientific claims have to be backed up by evidence — but that unscientific claims are made by many activist groups who want regulations or government spending that advances their own agenda. Luckily, there is one group that specializes in separating the science and the nonsense. That’s the American Council on Science and Health.”
        – Dr. Tom Price, U.S. House of Representatives

        “ACSH fights the worry. With the help of ACSH, we don’t have to worry about political threats to our health”
        – P.J. O’Rourke

        “When scares cross my desk, I often turn to the American Council on Science and Health.”
        – John Stossel

        Sounds legit.

  17. Tracie Hall

    Stunning giraffe photo–not just the perfectly balanced subjects beautifully posed, but the setting and lighting!

  18. Synoia


    “The influx of U.S. trainers underscores the military’s renewed focus on building up Afghan forces so they can better fight the insurgents and take control of their own country’s security. ”

    Ah yes. And the unanswered question is why will these forces will die to protect their Government, as opposed to die protecting their family and tribe?

    Where do their loyalties lie?

    1. BoycottAmazon

      No government wins by killing it’s police and military. More importantly, will they be willing to make other Afghans die, and thus earn the enmity of those people’s family and tribe, for a government that is confiscating their tribes/family water rights, fields, crops, and ruining their land with mineral extraction schemes that enrich a few along with multinational corporation managers.

  19. Oregoncharles

    “Mail-Order CRISPR Kits Allow Absolutely Anyone to Hack DNA Scientific American”
    Look up “The White Plague,” by Frank Herbert. I can’t recommend reading both this article and the book, though; you might not sleep well after that.

    Herbert is acquiring more and more credentials as a prophet.

  20. Oregoncharles

    “Deutsche Bank CEO suggests robots could replace half the company’s 97,000 employees ”

    Ugly labor dispute going on at DB?

    Incidentally, this is an interesting confession about what the bank actually does – apparently human judgement isn’t actually required.

  21. Vatch

    Only Sinclair Can Save You Salon

    When Ajit Pai’s term on the FCC ends, he’s going to make a fortune, just as former Attorney General Eric “Place” Holder did.

  22. ewmayer

    “Rep. Nancy Pelosi says she’d support a ground invasion in North Korea as a last resort | Mic” — Echoing her support of the ACA legislation, Ms. Pelosi added, “We need to invade this country to see what’s in it.”

  23. BoycottAmazon

    New Cold War:

    CIA anti-torture whistleblower and frequent RT guest – John Kiriakou – was invited to speak at the EU Parliament on national security whistleblowing, but he was removed from the panel at the last minute.

    Get this, it was a Bernie Sanders Camp representative who requested Kirakou’s removal, saying she could not afford to have Sanders associated in anyway with RT.

      1. BoycottAmazon

        Assume they were speaking about whistle blowing, as that was the point of the conference. John Kiriakou mentions here. The RT reporter names the person as Winnie Wong. Apparently Winne Wong checked back with “higher ups?” in the USA, who said as Kirakou appears on Radio Sputnik (and RT) she should not be on the same panel with him.

        Most of these details are all in the video, which can be compressed to 4 minutes for the whole video.

  24. Marco

    Does anyone here know whatever happened to the very insightful commenter “aab”? I looked forward to her posts during the primary and 2016 election.

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