Links 11/14/17

Rescuers save six beached sperm whales in Indonesia CNN (furzy)

British doctor ‘punches shark’ in Australia surfing scare BBC

Condo association threatens eviction of tenant with support squirrel Boing Boing

Growing up in -60C BBC

Largest Ever Group of Scientists Issues Humanity an Urgent Warning: Time Is Running Out Science Alert

America Just Can’t Match China’s Exploding Supercomputing Power MIT Technology Review

Nonviral nanoparticles carry CRISPR to most successful gene edits ever New Atlas (David L)

This Mesmerising NASA Footage Set to a ‘Sound of Silence’ Cover Will Give You Chills Science Alert

Thirty Million Americans Just Got High Blood Pressure Bloomberg. Money paragraph, in both senses of the expression: “Of those newly categorized as having high blood pressure, some 4.2 million also have other risk factors for heart disease. These individuals should start taking medicine to lower their numbers, the researchers said.”

New study suggests it may be fructan, not gluten, that is upsetting people’s stomachs MedicalXPress (Robert M). Why I regard food fads with considerable skepticism.

Rhetorical birth of an anti-China bulwark Asia Times


Coffee Boom: Profits in the West and Poverty in the South Der Spiegel (resilc)

What do Europeans consider sexual harassment? DW

Italy risks storm as QE ends and politics go haywire, HSBC warns Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph


‘Take it or leave it’ Brexit dealDavid Davis says MPs will get final vote in major concession – but Tory rebels are furious Telegraph

UK’s Brexit bill should be ‘at least €60 billion,’ says Tajani Politico

Brexiter strangely quiet about voting for obvious twats Daily Mash

Brexit immigration changes have UK farmers upset over rotting agriculture crops Quartz. Our Colonel Smithers has discussed the departure of farm workers and the difficulty of replacing them.


The Ineptitude of Iran Hawks American Conservative

Imperial Collapse Watch

Commentary: The truth behind the U.S. show of force in Asia Reuters (resilc). “The resources plowed into them were stupendous – $5.6 trillion so far, academics at Brown University estimated this month. That would imply a cost per individual U.S. taxpayer of more than $23,000, including future care for veterans.”

A top secret desert assembly plant starts ramping up to build Northrop’s B-21 bomber LA Times. Resilc: “Take that, herdsmen in Niger.”

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

FDA Approves a Digital Pill That Can Track When You Swallowed It Bloomberg. Faraday cage vests coming to a store near you? Or would it need to be more like a leotard or burqua? And could you fry it with a magnetic pulse? Techies please speak up!

Trade Traitors

America Doesn’t Need Trade Like Other Nations Do Bloomberg

Trump Transition

Former intelligence officials say Trump is being manipulated by Putin Reuters

Trump Picks Former Lilly Drug Executive as Health Secretary Bloomberg (resilc)

Donald Trump Jr. confirms communicating with WikiLeaks Politico

‘Tobacco at a cancer summit’: Trump coal push savaged at climate conference Guardian

Justice Department Considering GOP Calls for Clinton Special Counsel NBC (UserFriendly)

Appeals Court Says Trump Administration Can Implement Part of Travel Ban Wall Street Journal

Frank Rich: What Comes After Trump Could Be More Dangerous New York Magazine

Tax “Reform”

Trump Argues That GOP Tax Bill Should Do More for the Rich New York Magazine (reslic)

Hundreds of millionaires are banding together to tell Congress: Raise our taxes CNBC

The GOP Has Done the Impossible: Make Tax Cuts Unpopular New York Magazine (resilc)

Steven Mnuchin Says Trump Won’t Bend on Corporate Tax Rate of 20% Wall Street Journal. Good luck with that. As we have said, there aren’t enough deductions that can be eliminates to pay for this, and the deficit hawks insist the cuts have to be more or less paid for.

Trump ready to put his own mark on tax debate Politico. Subhead: The president, who’s been in touch with senior members of Congress, tweeted on Monday with specific proposals – none of which are reflected in the proposed legislation.

Sex in Politics…Not!

George Bush Snr ‘groped 16-year-old girl’ during 2003 photo op BBC

Reckoning With Bill Clinton’s Sex Crimes Atlantic

Kasich: Write-in campaign possible in Alabama Senate race The Hill

Locals Were Troubled by Roy Moore’s Interactions with Teen Girls at the Gadsden Mall New Yorker/ Solid reporting.

GOP senator: We must protect the Senate’s integrity if Moore doesn’t step aside The Hill (resilc)

Roy Moore Is Not the Brightest Alleged Child Molester New York Magazine (resilc)

If Roy Moore Isn’t Rock Bottom for Republicans, What Is? Rolling Stone (resilc)

Only in America

People Are Destroying Perfectly Good Keurig Machines for Sean Hannity Vice (resilc)

What Corporate Media Failed to Learn About Canadian Single-Payer FAIR (UserFriendly)

Wisconsin and the Constitutional Convention Esquire (resilc)

The Kansas Disaster Is the Republican Dream Esquire (resilc). “There are now 28 states on board this death train. They are six states away. This is a clear and present danger.”

Media Who Went to Bat for Shut-Out Critics Should Also Stand Up for Targeted Copwatchers FAIR (UserFriendly)

Wall Street bonuses may jump 10 percent this year: report Reuters (EM)

IEA Sees U.S. Shale Surge as Biggest Oil and Gas Boom in History Bloomberg

Guillotine Watch

How flashy displays of wealth have changed BBC

Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett Own More Wealth Than the Entire Poorest Half of the US Population Nation

High-tech on-demand climate-controlled dog houses exist Boing Boing. Resilc: “Too bad the Silicon Valley can’t scale it up for the loads of homeless PEOPLE.”

Class Warfare

Bill Gates buys big chunk of land in Arizona to build ‘smart city’ KGW. “Smart” anything = anti bottom 90%.

The fatal flaw of neoliberalism: it’s bad economics Dani Rodrik, Guardian. Important.

Antidote du jour (Lawrence R). I am a big fan of cross-species friendships. Our eventually enormous tabby Michael grew up with a neighbor dog Buddy and they regularly slept all curled up together. This is Ingo, a Belgian shepherd, and Poldi, a one-year-old owlet.

And a bonus from reader Chana:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. David, by the lake

    I cannot disagree more strongly with the Esquire article re Wisconsin’s support for a Con Con.

    The Union is, and was designed as, a federal republic of states, our more recent centralization notwithstanding. The ultimate check on federal power and of the ability of the federal government to aggregate power into itself is the ability of the states collectively to alter the federal charter *without interference or approval of the federal government*. As a firm believer in the principle of limited government and the notion of the Constitution as a charter delegating specific, defined, and limited powers to the federal government and no more, I asked my Assembly rep and state Senator to support this resolution.

    For the article to call the fundamental right of a free people to peaceably alter their government a “clear and present danger” is ridiculous. It is only a clear and present danger to those who wield power in the current structure.

    This country is in desperate need of the robust debate a Con Con would involve. And we are also in desperate need of redelineation of the state-federal relationship and the scope of federal powers. Our forever wars, our globe-spanning empire with its mounting costs, our decaying infrastructure all point to a significant crisis in the not-too-distant future. A return to the concept of democratic self-governance by the citizenry, with increasingly limited powers as one moves further from the people, would provide us a more robust society, allow us to dismantle this unsustainable empire, and help us better weather the storms ahead.

      1. David, by the lake

        No Congress is going to curtail its own power. The only way to amend the federal charter in any meaningful way that does so is via a convention, which bypasses the federal power structure. A convention represents our best chance to peaceably deconstruct our empire while we have time to do so. I’d rather avoid the other alternative — our empire is coming apart one way or another.

        If allying with ALEC helps a convention happen, I’m willing to do so. Once a convention is called, everything (excepting equal representation in the Senate) is on the table. It still takes 38 states to ratify any proposed amendments coming out of the convention, which is enough of a safeguard for me. We need this debate.

        1. Alex Morfesis

          You don’t really imagine alec is going to allow a group of carbon based life forms to outmaneuver it ? Guessing you have not been to too many large gatherings to watch “facilitators” control the room and use tactics and strategies to eat up available time or cause a disruption or divert the…

          Let me tone that down a bit…

          hopefully you have been to enough large events to have observed the actions of facilitators and their capacity to reduce and direct discourse…

          be careful what you wish for…

          The acela mafia has power because americans have chosen to be lazy…

          The magic sparkle pony of a constitutional convention will not fix the lazy part…

        2. marym

          There are no federal and probably no state election or campaign finance laws governing how delegates would be elected/selected. There’s only the “infrastructure” of corporate and .1%’er power, which would determine the selection process and the agenda.

          As far as “needing this debate,” no, we don’t need to spend our energy fighting a bunch of Koch-inspired wealth concentration, commons-destroying amendments. That’s not a debate.

          1. Juliania

            What then do you suggest-armed rebellion?

            Better we debate the issues as is suggested above than that the country explode internally. And there are able enough debaters in our midst to mow down the plutocrats. That’s what they are afraid of, as this article exemplifies.

            And if they should try to muzzle such heroes, the whole nation will be watching. I’m guessing it will not go down the way old Bernie did.

            Everyone now, bone up on your US history, and let the games begin!

            1. Samuel

              Actually, I would say armed rebellion is quite preferable to allowing oligarchs walk away with a constitutional convention. The oligarchs have everyone backed into a corner as it is and need to be pushed back. This would be a disaster that simply cannot be allowed to happen.

          2. David, by the lake

            The choices are reformation or revolution. The present construct will not survive the collapse of our global hegemony.

            Here are my suggestions:

            Proposed Amendment #1 (Unfunded Mandates)
            Article 1. Congress shall pass no law imposing a mandate upon the several States in absence of such appropriations necessary to fulfill the obligations imposed.
            Article 2. With respect to any such mandates in force at the time of ratification of this amendment, a one-year grace period commencing at the date of ratification shall be provided to allow necessary appropriations to be made by Congress. Any previously existing mandates which are not appropriately funded at the lapse of this grace period shall become void.

            Proposed Amendment #2 (Congressional Consecutive Term Limits)
            No person who is or has been a member of the current Congress shall be eligible for election or appointment as a member of Congress if that person has been a member of the previous four Congresses.

            Proposed Amendment #3 (State Selection of Senators)
            Article 1. The seventeenth amendment to the Constitution is hereby repealed.
            Article 2. Each State shall establish the method by which the Senators from that State are appointed or elected to their offices.

            Proposed Amendment #4 (Proportional Election of Representatives)
            Article 1. Seats of a State’s delegation to the House of Representatives shall be allocated proportionally among the political parties registering in that State for the election, according to the proportion of the total vote within that State for that party.
            Article 2. Each political party shall be awarded a number of seats equal to the whole number of its proportion of the total vote. Any remaining seats shall be awarded singly, beginning with the party with the highest proportion of the total vote and proceeding to the next-highest, until all remaining seats have been awarded.
            Article 3. Each political party shall publicly register a slate of candidates with the State, with the awarded seats being allocated according to the ranking of the candidates within that slate.

            Proposed Amendment #5 (Electoral Votes)
            Article 1. With respect to electors for President and Vice-President, each State shall award two electors to the candidate with the highest number of votes within that State. Remaining electors shall be allocated to each candidate in proportion to the total vote for that candidate within that State.
            Article 2. Proportional allocation of electors shall be accomplished by awarding to each candidate a number of electors equal to the whole number of that candidate’s proportion of the total vote within that State. Any remaining electors shall be awarded singly, beginning with the candidate with the highest number of votes within that State and proceeding to the next-highest, until all remaining electors have been awarded.
            Article 3. For purposes of this amendment, the District of Columbia shall be treated as though it were a State.

            Proposed Amendment #6 (Preamble)
            The language of the Preamble to this Constitution shall not confer any power to the federal government or any branch thereof. All powers and authorities provided to any branch of the federal government shall be expressly stated in the Articles of this Constitution, as amended.

            Proposed Amendment #7 (Secession)
            Article 1. A State may elect to secede from the Union established by this Constitution.
            Article 2. A State shall affect its secession by a resolution of a two-thirds majority of its legislature, subsequently ratified by a two-thirds majority of a State referendum.
            Article 3. A seceding State shall assume its proportion of the national debt as of the date of the ratifying referendum, that proportion being equal to that State’s proportion of the national population as calculated by the most recent decadal census.
            Article 4. Any property of the United States within the territory of a seceding State as of the date of the ratifying referendum shall become the property of the seceding State.
            Article 5. Any former State, upon seceding, that desires to reinstate its membership in this Union must request admission as a State by Congress.

            Proposed Amendment #8 (Presidential Term Limits)
            No person who shall have served as President for longer than two years at the completion of the current term of office shall be eligible for election as President.

            1. marym

              There’s no process defined (or proposed, or even acknowledged as a necessity by convention promoters) for anyone to be at the convention who doesn’t represent the interests of the wealthy and powerful.

              They will propose amendments that protect and enhance that wealth and power. Then what? We spend years fighting these in every state, just to minimize further damage? That’s not a debate, it’s a diversion of energy.

            2. DJG

              Interesting: I tend to doubt that I support any of these amendments. Term limits and reversion to “creative” ways of electing senators are antidemocratic. I can hardly wait to see what South Carolina would do with that. Likewise the gnarly last amendment on presidential terms of office. The existing amendment handled that already.

              So I am not on board. Nor am I on board with various mechanisms of seceding and then entreating to be readmitted. We’d be readmitting Texas every six to eight years.

              So if we have to have a constitutional convention to “heighten the contradictions” of the current 1789 Constitution, you can count me out.

              1. David, by the lake

                I think you misunderstood the intent of the proposed secession amendment. The point was to require, via the double super-majorities, that the desire to secede was clearly the will of the citizens and that a seceding state take a pro rata portion of the existing national debt (from which it had presumably benefited as a state) with it. The readmission article is meant to show that a state, having seceded, would have to apply for admission just like any other external polity, with no preferential treatment. Just because Texas applied for readmission, for example, doesn’t mean that Congress would grant it.

                Limits on consecutive terms would be useful, I’d argue, in preventing the aggregation of personal power and the construction of the personal fiefdoms we see today. Limiting the President to a single term makes it a one-and-done administrative position.

                Proportional representation in the House would not only solve the gerrymandering problem, but would also break the stranglehold of the two-party system and allow for significant minority representation.

                Repealing the 17th amendment returns the Senate to its function as the House of the States, as it was originally. A House of state ambassadors, if you will. Nothing would prevent a state from having its Senators elected by its citizens. The point is, however, that each state would decide for itself.

                The Preamble amendment would, among other things. make the delineation of federal power explicit and strip the General Welfare clause of its power to become anything anyone needs it to be.

                The others are pretty self-explanatory.

                I see these as reasonable proposals which would help us decentralize our governance and acknowledge the considerable differences among the regions. Rather than fighting over the central levers of power so that we can impose our vision on everyone else, let’s all allow some room for others to disagree with us. I’d suggest that this is a much better strategy for avoiding future civil strife than attempting to maintain this centralized construct as our empire falls apart.

                1. Procopius

                  I personally don’t see any value to “decentralized governance.” Under the Articles of Confederation we found out what happens when the central government isn’t strong enough. My opinion is that the current system is about as decentralized as we can get. Usually, “decentralized governance” is just code for keeping local political machines in control as well as encouraging gross abuses of human rights.

            3. Left in Wisconsin

              This is policy without politics. We could all draw up our own lists of preferred changes to the Constitution. All of the critical issues regarding a ConCon have to do with the politics. Given the current state of politics in this country and the disproportionate influence of small (and some not so small) states with reliably right wing governments, I think the potential for disaster (i.e. a balanced budget amendment) is substantially greater that the potential for any good outcomes.

              1. David, by the lake

                No argument that there would be no guarantee that any of these proposals would see the light of day. However, a Con Con is the *only* means by which they would do so, as there is no way any reforms of this nature would be initiated by Congress. And I see the three-fourths requirement for ratification as a sufficient safeguard against extreme outcomes, so I am ok with the risk.

                On the other hand, the status quo is not a sustainable path and continuing along that course makes the less desirable alternatives more likely in the longer run.

                I can understand how others may see things differently, however.

            4. Terry Humphrey

              Looks like an Articles of Confederation to me. I have no interest in individual State sovereignty.

              1. DJG

                Indeed: I’ve waiting 225 years so that someone can bring back the chaos of the Articles of Confederation, pretend that the government is a figment of the states, make the Senate even more remote from the populace, and then have us all hope that the tattered Bill of Rights remains in place?

                Normally, I’m not much for tradition as tradition. But I don’t see another James Madison out there (sorry, David, by the lake).

            5. a different chris

              I love (sarcasm) the term limiting crap. We can’t people to vote what to us is intelligently, or even to vote at all. But we can solve this with a technical rule, where Bob will be told to step aside for John, who will then be the congressperson that their constituents have never heard of.

              At least without term limits, your friendly pol can
              1) gain enough power dish out favors that may actually be good things
              2) have enough notoriety that everybody *has* heard of him, and if he screws up the entire populace will, maybe anyway, arise.

              But hey cycling a bunch of no-name gray shadows thru government will certainly curb the power of Big Money. Sure.

            6. lyman alpha blob

              The present construct will not survive the collapse of our global hegemony.

              Why does it need to? For most people on the planet, the dissolution of the US would not necessarily be a bad thing.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Many secessions = dissolution.

                Maybe it’s not so bad that the empire is without New England, the Northwest, California and New York.

            7. Vatch

              The proposed amendments on term limits (#2 and #8) would never pass the convention. Why? Simple. Because most of the delegates to the Constitutional convention would be politicians. Also, the state legislatures (or the state conventions) are also filled with politicians, so even if the convention were to pass them, they would be rejected by the states. Members of the Electoral College are not allowed to be members of Congress, but there is no such limitation on members of a constitutional convention.

              The proposed amendment reforming the Electoral College seems to be an improvement over what we currently have. Direct Presidential election would be even better, but the small and middle sized states would be unlikely to ever support that.

              I’m concerned about the proposed amendments that weaken the national government in favor of the states. Some of the worst abuses of government in the U.S. occur at the state level. Today’s link to the article about Kansas is relevant to this topic.

            8. Elizabeth Burton

              I don’t think you understand what is driving this movement for a Constitutional Convention. The billionaire-funded ALEC’s stated goal for it is ONLY the addition of a balanced budget amendment. There will be no “other discussions,” because if they can get that one adopted the federal government is done. Period.

              This is representative of the disturbing problem: Too many people unhappy about how the feds are operating think this is their opportunity to fix the things they believe have been broken by “interpretation”. They are either ignorant of the fact others have stated—that this is solely intended to advance the Kochtopus’s agenda—or simply don’t understand just how undermined our democrat republican government has become.

              So, yes, there very much is a “clear and present danger,” as those of us who are aware of the true reasons behind this drive for a convention have been saying for the better part of a year.

        3. Jonathan Holland Becnel


          Im all for a 250 yr anniversary Con Con BUT NOT WHEN THE RICH WILL STRAIGHT UP MURDER US CUZ MARKETS

        4. drumlin woodchuckles

          In theory I would agree with you in theory. The problem with this particular ongoing effort to set a Con Con underway is that it is a Kochster-ALEC Con Con. It has been carefully pre-engineered to create a Corporate Feudalist Tyrranocracy.

          If the Smart-ALECs feel they have their New Constitution engineered just right, with all the restrictions and prohibitions on free speech/ assembly/ religion/ demonstrations/ etc. . . . and no voting for poor people . . . and no guns for sale at less than several thousand dollars apiece . . .
          they will also include a provision outlawing and unconstitutionalizing any more Ammendments and any more Con Cons for ever and ever.

          So I reject this particular Con Con effort that is underway.

    1. Eureka Springs

      For the article to call the fundamental right of a free people to peaceably alter their government a “clear and present danger” is ridiculous.

      Nothing clear nor present about it when it comes to the people and their ability to alter it. The rules of a convention make it impossible. The people have nothing to do with it, never have. We were never asked/allowed to vote/ratify the Constitution. We certainly wont be allowed anytime soon. States representatives, their actions, are much more opaque than feds due to the nature of media in this day and age.

      It’s not about us except for the looting.

      1. David, by the lake

        The Union is a construct of the states. The states, collectively, wield the power to amend the federal charter. Revisiting the notion of federalism and limited government would be something worth considering, I’d argue.

        I’d much rather go through a (more) peaceable process of reformation than the likely alternative.

        1. jsn

          Those are interesting proposals above. Personally, I suspect a Convention would be the opening phase of a civil war, maybe a necessary one, I can’t tell: it is very hard to see how it’s legitimacy could be sustained in a world so wildly different from that of those who wrote the clause (no slaves, y chromosome and property ownership no longer required to vote, for instance). In any case the ALEC crowd pushing this has a definition of freedom, the freedom of the powerful to do as they please, that is diametrically opposed to any kind of popular freedom.

          The weight of Empire has deformed the political economy so badly that any precipitate change will be extremely disruptive in any case. I’m more hopeful about the innumerable little changes bubbling up from the base than any kind of grand gesture at the top.

          1. David, by the lake

            I appreciate the comment and interest.

            I’d argue that a convention might be our best bet to avoid a civil conflict, using the legal mechanism of the amendment process to dismantle the highly centralized administrative state and empire before it goes into catastrophic collapse. Perhaps I am clutching at straws, however, and such conflict is not avoidable. I’d like to hope that we could resolve our differences (up to and including separation, as necessary) in a reasoned manner. The coming two decades or so is likely to get very interesting, in the proverbial sense.

            I don’t disagree re bottom-up versus top-down, which is why a state-driven process (via convention) is more likely to resolve the issues than a federally-initiated process (how 16 of the 27 amendments have occurred). To adjust my phrasing slightly to comport with todde’s (quite correct) observation above, no Congress is going to propose amendments curtailing federal power. Such action *has* to be initiated from below, which means by the states via a convention.

            It is understandable that the Feds would be wary of such a convention, as they would have absolutely no say whatsoever — which is also entirely the point of that process.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              The secession amendment would probably break up the union.

              I think California is ready to split.

              No fault divorce, community property…

              With that spelled out clearly this time, maybe we can avoid another civil war.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  I remember reading about that in a book by a retired British naval officer about the Chinese discovering America before Columbus (who had a map of the Caribbean, the same author also claims).

                  1. blennylips


                    1421: The Year China Discovered the World
                    by Gavin Menzies

                    A good read, but many doubt his claims.
                    Here is a sampling:

                    On 8 March 1421, the largest fleet the world had ever seen set sail from China. The ships, some nearly five hundred feet long, were under the command of Emperor Zhu Di’s loyal eunuch admirals. Their mission was ‘to proceed all the way to the end of the earth to collect tribute from the barbarians beyond the seas’ and unite the world in Confucian harmony.

                    Would make a super movie…

                    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      Thanks. You’re right about the book.

                      Non only were the ships up to 4 times longer than Santa Maria, but they were compartmentalized…something that was incorporated into modern ship design only about a century ago.

                      I am skeptical of his many claims. The stuff about old maps was interesting.

              1. David, by the lake

                Agreed. Having a legal mechanism for a state that really wants to leave would save a lot of trouble.

                I’d argue that the Union as we know it today is not tenable in the absence of our global hegemony and that one way or another, functional secession of one or more states will have occurred by the tricentennial in 2076. Better it be a clean process.

                1. todde

                  We will have to go to a regional based party system or we will break up the Union.

                  That is my opinion on the matter.

                  1. Wukchumni

                    All we need to do now is trump up fear based on the idea that there’s going to be a shortage of red and blue colored military uniforms, and have the proles rush out and buy said clothing, as they did by getting all armed & dangerous on their own dime already.

                    Just add a civil war, and you’re good to go.

                2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  And that legal mechanism can become a global standard procedure which will be of great help to people in Scotland, Catalonia, Quebec, Flanders, etc.

                3. drumlin woodchuckles

                  Well . . . there would also have to be a mechanism for parts of a state to leave other parts of a state.

                  For example, does Inland California really want to be part of a separate country dominated by Coastal California?

        2. DJG

          Ahem. Did you forget the first words of the Constitution of the United States?: We the People.

          The Constitution was not created by the states. Period. End of story.

          1. David, by the lake

            I disagree. Read Article V again. It is the states which control the amendment process. The states created the federal government through the ratification process — it was not a national plebiscite. Amendments are ratified by the states, again not by national plebiscite.

            The states are not sub-divisions of the federal government, but separate polities sovereign within their own spheres. This is the principle of federalism.

            Our narrative of centralization to the contrary, the Union is a construct of the states, as the functional design of the Constitution clearly demonstrates.

            1. DJG

              David, by the lake: Good of you to conveniently forget the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and yes, the dreaded Seventeeth Amendments, which pretty much wiped out the idea that the sovereign states ceded their powers to a federal government.

              And I will point you again to the first three words of the Constitution of the United States, which you conveniently dismiss.

            2. Jim

              It should be kept in mind that the U.S. has a conflicted foundation, as symbolized in the motto “e pluribus unum” which was initially resolved with the Civil War in favor of the “unum” without however, ever entirely vanquishing the “pluribus.”

              I would argue that the unitary character of a nation is incompatible with the heterogeneity of a federation. In the debates preceding the formation of the United States an aggregation of heterogeneous groups of people fiercely committed to their political autonomy and particularist religious practices was only sustained by forming a “federation” to protect local self-determination and cultural specificity.

              However, from the very beginning, the more statist concerns of the Federalists forced the creation of an ambiguous “federal state” which, following the denial of the right to secession prior to the Civil War in the 19th century and the consolidation of the New Deal in the 20th century, evolved into a structure practically indistinguishable from a unitary nation-state.

        3. Terry Humphrey

          We’ve had the likely alternative at a price of around a half a million lives. I’m surprised your “suggestions” omit a restoration of slavery.

        4. HotFlash

          I’d much rather go through a (more) peaceable process of reformation than the likely alternative.

          Well, they have had many decades of organizing, viz the Powell Memorandum, and I do believe that as far as they are concerned, ‘a (more) peaceable process) would be that we submit *quietly* to being eaten alive. You see, my mileage varies.

    2. Ed

      Gore Vidal wrote about this in the 1970s. He wrote that the liberals were terrified about the notion of a constitutional convention because it would enable the fascists to come out from behind the curtain and take power openly. He argued that if that happened, fine. At least they would be doing it openly.

    3. JanJ

      While I strongly disagree with the amendments proposed by Wisconsin, I do agree with you on the legitimacy of holding a convention to propose amendments regarding a defined, limited subject.

      Arguments regarding a so-called runaway convention should not be a substitute for considering proposed amendments on their merits, or lack of same. In 1987, the Dept. of Justice wrote a report Limited Constitutional Conventions under Article V of the United States Constitution. It concluded that

      Article V permits the states to apply for, and the Congress to call, a constitutional convention for limited purposes, and that a variety of practical means to enforce such limitations are available.

      The provision for an amendment convention was placed in the Constitution because the authors foresaw the possibility that Congress could become corrupted and stand in the way of the will of the people. While an amendment convention has never convened, the threat of such a convention has on several occasions prompted Congress to act by proposing amendments.

      Four states: California, Illinois, New Jersey, and Vermont have petitioned for an amendment to declare that (1) Only natural persons (human beings) are entitled to Constitutional rights and (2) political spending is not First Amendment-protected free speech and shall be regulated. Various grass-roots organizations are campaigning to bring more states on board. This is an issue that has broad popular support among citizens of all political stripes. Congress is not likely to act on its own. Calls for an amendment convention for this limited purpose should be welcomed, not feared.

    4. Vatch

      If we’re going to have a constitutional convention, here’s the most important amendment that needs to be considered and, I hope, passed:

      Section 1. [Artificial Entities Such as Corporations Do Not Have Constitutional Rights]

      The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.

      Artificial entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

      The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.

      Section 2. [Money is Not Free Speech]

      Federal, State, and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of their money, substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.

      Federal, State, and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.

      The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.

      Edit: Oh, I missed JanJ’s comment right above mine. Good comment. I’m glad someone else was thinking about this issue.

  2. The Rev Kev

    Re Hundreds of millionaires are banding together to tell Congress: Raise our taxes
    I am truly touched at this sincere story of millionaires demanding their taxes be raised. Nice shout out to you-know-who too in this story. Oh, one problem though. I think that they are only talking about the taxes that they pay in America. I am not sure how common the following is for those 400 millionaires, but…
    I was reading an RT story this morning at on Soros, who was one of these millionaires, which pointed out that “In 2015 Bloomberg reported that Soros’ hedge fund paid $962 in tax in Ireland on $3,851 net income through 2013, while the remaining $7.2 billion operating income was allocated to investors.”
    If I was paying a thousand bucks tax on 7.3 billion dollars, I wouldn’t worry about what taxes I paid in the US either. Good think that he will never be able to do that in Ireland again. The reason for that is he has now set up his company in the Caymans.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Soros is a billionaire. That is three, or in his case, four orders of magnitude richer.

      You need household income of $390,000 to be in the top 1% The top 1% for wealth cutoff is $8.4 million. There are tons of millionaires not in the top 1%.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I understand that. The trouble is that I have no information my end on how many of these same millionaires would be able to structure their taxes through the same mechanisms as someone in the league of a Soros. I recall Obama, just before he was first elected, talking about a single building in the Caribbean that had about 6,000 companies registered in it and that was about a decade ago. How many millionaires conduct their affairs through such companies registered in these opaque foreign tax jurisdictions must be a study in itself.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Not to worry, because IT’S ALL PERFECTLY LEGAL. The legislatures, as representatives of the people, have enacted our laws, the laws that govern us, to make it so. Some of it directly, on the plain meaning of the tax opportunity, some of it by leaving those interpretive opportunities that rich folks’ people drive trucks full of money and looted real wealth through. The optics might be a little awkward, but remember, folks, it’s ALL PERFECTLY LEGAL, or if this or that particular arrangement is maybe not so very legal, well there’s always prosecutorial discretion to be activated one way or another, and lengthy appeals to let the wealth flow. And if one is big enough to be supranational, well hey, that’s just business! So let us mopes recall the advise from robber barons past: “Kwitcherbitchin'”.

          1. Katniss Everdeen

            It makes the MBS saudi solution–simply declare the whole system corrupt and proceed to massive “civil forfeitures”–look positively inspired. And, possibly, the only way to rectify the situation.

    2. FriarTuck

      It is perfectly consistent to take advantage of all the rules to advantage yourself and yet argue for the rules to be changed to be less accommodating for everyone.

      Soros et al. didn’t become rich by being dummies.

      1. Terry Humphrey

        You’re too kind. I’m sure many of them are dummies. Every time I see 45 stumble through his very limited vocabulary, I’m reminded of an old New Yorker cartoon, A father says, “son here’s a million dollars, don’t lose it.”

      2. witters

        “It is perfectly consistent to take advantage of all the rules to advantage yourself and yet argue for the rules to be changed to be less accommodating for everyone.”

        Perfectly consistent virtue-signalling, I think you mean, without any actual sign of the real virtue.

    3. readerOfTeaLeaves

      What really torques me about that CNBC piece is a dismal absence of analysis. Millions and trillions in tax policy dodges and transfers are going to happen because these reporters can’t seem to do their damn jobs (!)

      The CNBC piece made me so irate that in order to calm myself down, I went ‘data diving’, and what I found blew my mind. I hope that someone reads this and finds it worth their time. Better yet, I wish the NYT or hte Guardian turned it into a timeline, including technological shifts overlaid onto birth dates of US Senators.

      The three states that are going to be specially punished under the new tax laws — CA, NY, and MA — have (or had) outstanding public and private universities, all of which led to patents (intellectual property), and new forms of wealth — most of it created since the two ranking GOP members have been in DC blathering on about taxCutsAreTheSourceOfAllWealthAndGOP_isThePartyOfTaxCuts.

      Because I was tired of being angry at these people, I took a bit of time to go to The Wikipedia and collect some statistics about the Senate Finance Committee, but I was not remotely prepared to have my mind blown to the extent it was, once I started looking at data.

      Small data dump – Senate Finance Committee members by year of birth:
      *********** denotes Democrats
      1933 – Chuck Grassley, IO
      1934 – Orrin Hatch, UT
      1936 – Pat Roberts, KS
      ********* 1942, Bill Nelson, (D) FL
      ********* 1943, Ben Cardin, (D) MD
      1944 – John Hardy Isakson
      1944 Mike Enzi, WY
      ********* 1947, Tom Carper, (D) NJ
      ********* 1949, Ron Wyden, OR
      ********* 1950, Debbie Stabenow, MI
      1951 – Mike Crapo, ID
      1952 – John Cornyn, TX
      ********* 1952, Sherrod Brown, (D) OH
      ********* 1954, Bob Menendez, (D) NJ
      ********* 1954, Mark Warner (D) VA
      ********* 1953, Claire McCaskill
      1955 – Richard Burr, NC, Rob Portman, OH
      1957 – Bill Cassidy, LA
      ********* 1958, Maria Cantwell, WA
      1960 – Dean Heller, NV
      ********* 1960, Bob Casey, (D) PA
      1961 – John Thune SD, Pat Toomey, PA
      ********* 1964, Michael Bennet (D) CO
      1965 – Tim Scott, SC

      Shorter, the GOP appears weighted to the 1930s and 1940s; the Dems toward the 1950s and 1960s (when America was prosperous because so many resources went into public goods like education). Two quite different worldviews… wow…!!!

      Senate Finance Committee members by year of election.
      *********** denotes Democrats

      1977 – Orrin Hatch, UT — Finance Committee Chair (the moon landing was only 8 years earlier)
      1981 – Chuck Grassley, IO
      >>>>>>>> Note gap of almost 20 years between the time the current GOP Finance Chair went on the committee, and the time that the *first* current Democrat joined. Note further, that BOTH Hatch and Grassley were votes in Reagan’s TrickleDownExtravaganza that has let to the widening inequality and taxDodging we see today (major frown emoji here!)
      *********1996 Ron Wyden, (D) OR — Ranking Committee Member — 1996: PCs, early Internet)
      1997 – Pat Roberts, KS, Mike Enzi, WY
      1998 – Mike Crapo, ID
      ********* 2000, Debbie Stabenow, (D) MI
      ********* 2001, Bill Nelson (D), FL
      ********* 2001, Tom Carper (D) DE
      ********* 2001, Maria Cantwell, (D) WA, enters US Senate
      2002 – John Cornyn
      2005 – John Hardy Isakson, GE
      2005 – Richard Burr, NC
      ********* 2006, Bob Menendez (D), NJ
      ********* 2007, Ben Cardin (D), MD; Sherrod Brown, (D) OH, Bob Casey, (D) PA, Claire McCaskill, (D), MO
      >>>>>>>> the iPhone was released in 2007
      ********* 2010, Michael Bennet, (D) CO
      2011 – Rob Portman
      2011 – OH, Pat Toomey, PA
      2011 – Dean Heller NV
      2013 – Tim Scott, SC
      2015 – John Thune, SD
      2017 – Bill Cassidy, LA


      Notably, a lot of those ‘millionaires’ in the CNBC article arguing for more economic equality are not represented by ranking committee members — although Wyden (OR – Nike, Linux, medical research and devices), Cantwell (WA – got her start at Real Networks; represents Amazon, Microsoft, some Apple, Google, and gobs of tech), and Michel Bennet (CO – tech around Boulder), arguably represent: (a) both those millionaires who want a more equitable society, and who made money in (b) ‘wealth generating technologies’. Those technologies also characterize the very same states (CA, MA, NY) that are being macerated by the proposed tax legislation that will come before the Senate Finance Committee, which is controlled by two guys born in 1933 and 1934 and whose GOP political party is currently underwritten by the likes of Sheldon Adelson, the Koch Brothers, and Robert Mercer.

      Meanwhile, I don’t see any members on the Senate Finance Committee from the states that are going to get hit with the higher taxes, which makes up only 3 states, but 20% of the US population, but far more than 20% of current US GDP:

      CA most populous US state (32,000,000), 53 House seats, 12% US population
      — and median household income (2015) was $64,500
      NY is 4th most populous US state (20,000,000), 27 House seats, 6% US population
      — and median household income (2015) was $60,850
      MA is 15th most populous US state (6,800,000), 9 House seats, 2% US population
      — and median household income (2015) was $70,628

      links from:


      I’m so p*ssed at the shoddy caliber of that sloppy CNBC piece that I spent an hour+ of my workday doing a data dive at Wikipedia. CNBC has database capability. Instead, they serve up some shoddy trash about 3 states and the tax code, without doing a molecule of analysis. Holy moly, as Lambert might say…. 8((((((

      1. Jean

        Thank you for the deep dive. I found the tenure of committee members particularly inviting of further enquery, especially regarding campaign fundraising.

  3. ambrit

    The Wall Street bonuses story is a canary in the coal mine. Short though it is, the quote at the end says it all; “There are a lot of people who don’t think that business (fixed income investing) is coming back.”
    Almost a centuries worth of experience in fixed income usage thrown to the wolves of wall street.
    Old style fixed income investing was part capitalist business and part social good. When the social good part is jettisoned, the society will have no reason to continue putting up with the capitalist business part. When the ‘discontinuity’ happens is anybodies guess, but come it will. History hasn’t stopped, it goes on and on, long term.

  4. Wukchumni

    Would a man marrying his squirrel (yes, there’s the issue of a gay interspecies relationship-but it’s Florida, no biggie) alleviate the condo situation?

      1. BoycottAmazon

        I agree, it is extremely cruel. I’m surprised the SPCA isn’t complaining. Plus a latex and cotton jock strap has to work better besides being more sanitary support.

      2. barefoot charley

        My friend and neighbor is a retired lawyer with grandchild issues and a young german shepherd. He was annoyed when I demanded that he call his ‘service animal’ back from looking into the bedroom for our 3 cats. “She came back eventually,” he said in her defense. “I wouldn’t train my granddaughter to come immediately, and I won’t make my dog do that either.” She goes with him literally everywhere. Because there are no standards (yet) for service animals, this is a standard. I hope standards get here soon.

        1. a different chris

          Wow. He can’t train his granddaughter to do it because humans are at best stubborn and often quite stupid. I say this as a parent of two wonderful but not always… well you know.

          This does not in any way relate to dogs, which are neither. And a service dog???… why did it even leave his side?

      3. perpetualWAR

        Who cares if someone has a squirrel for a pet? It’s the same thing as going inside someone’s bedroom to see what they do there. Who the [family blog] cares?

        And rentals/HOAs that limit animals? A big [family blog] to you.

        1. a different chris

          Apparently not unusual at all in China, a friend of mine had one as a child, in an apartment building.

          The damage a pet squirrel can cause to an apartment building is somewhat between none and zero. A big fish tank can cause more damage if it breaks.*

          *Or just (family blog)ing gives way. Don’t ask me how I know… long time ago but grrrr…

        2. LifelongLib

          Probably the rule was trying to limit pets to cats, dogs, birds, and fish, as opposed to (say) Siberian tigers and wasps (old Monty Python episode). A squirrel seems harmless but HOAs are stuck with enforcing the rules as written.

      4. RUKidding

        I agree. I’m an animal lover, but I’m getting pretty tired of seeing people cart their pets – which mostly are not service or even support animals – everywhere, including letting them sit on tables in restaurants, plus act hostilely to other humans, usually while laughing at the pet or ignoring it.

        It does a real disservice to people with true service animals (usually trained specifically to assist humans with a particular disability) or true support animal (usually where the human has a definite trauma or mental health issue, where the animal has some amount of training to support them).

        Too many people drag their pets around and proclaim that they’re service or therapy animals, when, in fact, they’re neither. And all too often they’re not well trained.

        1. JTFaraday

          That’s a herding dog that tries to herd me around the park when I encounter him out walking.

          He’s very good at his job, and also very clearly finds the sheep entertaining.

  5. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves.

    Further to today’s link about farmworkers and yesterday’s splendid thread about Brexit, which I read late as I was out with my parents for mum’s birthday :-), both reported the departure of care home and hospital workers of EU27 origin from the Thames valley. Mum has some audit responsibilities for the region (Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire) and dad covers as a doctor at local hospitals. Both were 73 this month and are still working. Most of their contemporaries are being implored to stay on as EU27 staff head home, worsening the shortage of skilled staff.

    A quarter to a third of hospital staff are from the EU27. Over half of care homes for the elderly are staffed by EU27 staff. Over half of care homes for other vulnerable individuals are staffed by migrants from the former colonies. Other workers come from the Philippines, francopohone and lusophone Africa, and Latin America. These figures have not changed since my parents arrived in the mid-1960s. In dad’s case, he and his best friend, my godfather, responded to a poster, featuring Enoch Powell, thundering, “Children of the Empire, the Mother Country needs you.”

    Mum said she found it hard to resist asking a colleague, often moaning about how her mother’s home care visits have been reduced from daily to thrice a week, but at the same price, as the EU27 women who looked after her mother have returned home, that, as she harangues anyone in earshot, that the UK has now taken back control, what is the problem.

    Other local tidbits to report are the acceleration in the roll-off of UK suppliers from EU27 supply chain, from a friend and former colleague working at the Milton Keynes HQ of a German automaker and four friends working in motor racing, and the loss of IT contracts by firms based in the UK in the EU27, from the Amersham-based techie hubby of one of mum’s former colleagues and a friend in Croydon.

    From further afield, the German school in south-west London has lost a third of its pupils over the summer. I will ask about the French schools in London and revert.

    From south Kensington, a friend, who owns a beauty salon, reports that her EU27 staff have gone home over the summer, so she has recruited from Albania, Kosovo, Moldova and Ukraine.

    I have not been able to find out who has replaced the east Europeans working on the EU subsidised farm, over a thousand acres and a pub, owned by Ian Duncan Smith’s in laws on the road between Aylesbury and Buckingham and site of many UKIP and leave posters.

    1. visitor

      What about foreigners working in the industry (or what remains of it)?

      In Germany for instance, the agribusiness sector runs thanks to the Bulgarians and Romanians — food processing plants and slaughterhouses could not operate without them. Are there British industrial sectors in a similar situation?

      After touting for decades the “four freedoms” and the supposed flexibility and efficiency they were meant to bring about, people seem surprised that the socio-economic system that was reconfigured around them unravels when they disappear…

      1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

        I was recently in Dungannon in Northern Ireland & could not help but notice quite large numbers of people who my cousin later informed me were from East Timor. They apparently speak Portuguese, work in the meat plants & are brought over by employment agencies – families & all. From what I could see they are all very small in stature & the males largely dress in what I can only imagine as being in a ” boys from the hood ” style. I suppose that they are most likely employed at the sharp end, & neither of us has any idea if Brexit will change anything for them.

        Their local majority Sinn Fein council has it seems looked after them well in terms of advice centres, accommodation etc, which is starkly different from the tales I have heard about the treatment received by various immigrant groups from Loyalist mobs in Belfast.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you.

          I have heard similar about the treatment of migrant labour in Northern Ireland. That isn’t new and was the case when my father served there, based at Aldergrove, in the 1970s and 1980s.

          Although dad served with what Sinn Fein quaintly calls British crown forces, we, as a Catholic family, were puzzled as to what mainlanders had in common with loyalists.

          If you go to Newmarket, Lambourn and the Chilterns, you will see similar to Dungannon, but the migrants are from south Asia.

        2. paul

          Most of the Timorese in Dungannon come through on a Portugese passport so Brexit could have a big impact on them. There were far more lithuanians, polish and slovaks at the last census the same will apply to them.

          The majority of them are in private rents. Around 70% of some estates built during the NI housing boom (all 2 years of it) are rented out by small landlords. Dungannon was relatively lucky as employment expanded post collapse and the unflippable homes provided accommodation for the incoming workers.

          If the big employer (Moy Park) decides to shift to the eurozone, things will look pretty grim for the area

      2. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you.

        Italian and Spanish agriculture are similarly staffed by foreigners, but often from Africa and Asia. French agriculture does not rely on foreigners to that extent.

        UK food processing plants, especially if related to fishing, are dependant on east European labour. I don’t know about slaughterhouses.

        Good point about the four freedoms.

        1. diptherio

          Thanks for that. So the question is, what’s different about France? Why are its peers all dependent on immigrant labor for agriculture, but not them? Do they pay more? Do they grow less? What gives?

          1. A1

            Yes the food rotting in the fields argument. This whole whinging about industries dependent on third world labor is tiring.

            Maybe the industries should move to low wage areas? This would help these areas industrialize. Second, maybe these industries should automate to survive.

            The fishing one is particularly galling. Maybe we should let the fishing industry go bust and allow the stocks a chance to recover? Then the efficiencies will be so improved as to make living wages possible. The reason fishing wages are low is because the yields are low.

            Markets work if allowed to work. We are awash in food and people will not starve with higher wages and more automation in the food processing and restaurant industry.

            1. jsn

              There are some vast causal chains you are omitting.

              How exactly will automation in the future cause the higher wages it has failed to produce in the past? Higher wages in the past have only occurred on any meaningful scale when they have been deliberate government policy.

              Markets serve technological innovation and private goods better than any other known arrangement, they fail, however, to deal with public goods at all, rather turning them wherever possible into rent extraction toll booths.

              Markets work where they are set up to do things markets can do (which excludes health, education, clean air, clean water, healthy food and communication) with the intent of maintaining fair competition and the pricing in of externalities.

              They have to be set up by society (government) to do these things and systematically and continuously policed to continue to provide what benefits they can provide.

              1. a different chris

                I think you are talking past each other, automation does produce a higher wage on an individual basis (2 tech people maintaining the equipment replace 5 non-tech people that did the work) but sadly the leftover cash just flows upward to the non-productive Richie Riches.

                In my perfect world, we would all be capable of doing “tech” stuff and since we all could do that we only would need to work a couple days a week.

                Anyway, in agreement with your rant starting from “Markets serve technological ,,,,”

                1. jsn

                  Yes, talking past a bit. Markets can serve public purposes, but they can serve any other power just as well. One can’t assume a benevolent market: if collective action doesn’t make it that, it won’t be.

          2. barefoot charley

            I lived in France for a couple of years in the mid-70s. The only legal work I got was grape harvesting, because village populations had been hollowed out by factory opportunities in cities, so the govt permitted anyone to work in regulated conditions for the minimum wage plus food and board. I liked it. The French wine regions I’ve seen recently are mechanized to a degree California (or rather Mexico del Norte) hasn’t dreamed of. No more peasants (though some aging Dutch and British artisinal goatherds).

          3. David

            Well, French agriculture is in a desperate state, for a start, squeezed to death by rapacious supermarkets, and undercut by countries such as Spain where labour laws are enforced much less strictly, and illegal immigrants on short-term contracts do much of the work. Conditions are such that suicide is a now major cause of death among farm owners.
            More generally, of course, French employers have both Eastern Europe, and even more the ex-colonies to call on for cheap disposable labour. In the cities, practically all manual work, ranging from stacking shelves in supermarkets to emptying rubbish bins, is done by poorly paid immigrants from Africa, often on part-time, temporary contracts, and who will return home to be replaced by others in a continuing race to the bottom.

          4. visiteur

            Why are its peers all dependent on immigrant labor for agriculture, but not them?

            Ah, but France is dependent on immigrant labour too, although, as Col. Smithers wrote, not to the same extent.

            France employs numerous foreigners in its agriculture, mainly for seasonal work, traditionally from Portugal and North Africa, and more recently from Poland and Romania. Recruitment outside France has been growing.

            The main sectors with labour shortage are animal husbandry, vegetable production, and viticulture. Cereal cultivation is highly mechanized — French are world productivity champions there.

            Viticulture is interesting. A few decades ago, seasonal workers were Italians. Not just during grape harvest; at some specific times of the year, one operation is to carefully pull off selected leaves in the wines, so that grapes take the right amount of sun. Women from a specific Italian region (I do not remember which) were experts at that task — they were called “effeuilleuses” (which is also a slang term for “stripper”) — and were much appreciated.

            1. diptherio

              Ah, I see. Thanks for the clarification. And who grows the food in Romania and Poland, just out of curiosity? This whole system seems mighty wacky….

                  1. visitor

                    I do not think anybody wants to emigrate to Ukraine at present.

                    But at least in Russia, yes, the Uzbeks, Tajiks and Turkmens play the role of low-cost immigrant labour. In China it is the North Koreans and Mongols, in South Korea the Vietnamese, etc.

        2. jsn

          What this points to is the logical end game of the “low cost” food model the post war industrial economies have all been based on. Like your parents health care experience, the production that is essential to people having decent lives is systematically undervalued by financialized capitalism.

          We will have to pay what it cost to produce sustainable, healthy food and to take care of one another: societies that don’t will not have the social capital to adjust to the energy/environmental bill coming due.

          1. Wukchumni

            Most farmers here produce sustainable healthy food in that nut & fruit crops dominate the scene-and unlike seasonal crops, you have to treat them like children growing up and not expect too much of them early on, but nurture them into maturity, to allow for bountiful harvests later on.

            The idea that Mexican immigrants are doing all the work, as a low cost alternative to really nobody else that’s willing to do the job, comes with the territory. And they’re damned good at it.

            1. a different chris

              And this traces back to another thread…”as a low cost alternative to really nobody else that’s willing to do the job,”

              If nobody else is willing, why is the alternative “low cost”? (not actually a question, we all know the answer)

              1. Wukchumni

                I’ve never seen a non-Hispanic working the fields or crops here, but I know that dustbowl refugees did it in the 30’s…

                So, there’s that. Another low cost alternative.

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    Thanks for the Wiki link.

                    The Mexican Repatriation was a mass deportation of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans from the United States between 1929 and 1936.[1][2] Estimates of how many were repatriated range from 500,000 to 2,000,000,[3][4] of whom perhaps 60% were US citizens by birth.[4]:330

                    Did it inspire the Germans?

    2. Ed

      I just checked at Wikipedia, and the UK has a population of over 65 million, with England alone at 55 million, so out of this they should be able to find enough staff for their nursing homes and hospitals.

      One striking thing about open borders enthusiasts is how unaware they seem of the global population explosion.

      1. Anonymous2

        The problem in the UK is that the population is aging and the birth rate is below replacement rate. So there is a shortage of younger people coming in to the workforce.

        1. David

          Maybe, but this argument would only apply if there was an absolute labour shortage, which as far as I know there isn’t. If 10% of 16-24 year olds not in education are unemployed then it doesn’t look like this is a problem for tomorrow.

        2. Kurtismayfield

          So keep the aging people employed longer. Oh wait we can’t do that, they would have to be paid more for their experience.

        3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That’d become a worldwide issue, if we think about world overpopulation problem and when we do something about it.

          Then, the thorn will be, do we import aliens from Mars, because the whole world is aging, and the global birth rate is below replacement rate?

          Or we meet this challenge and re-arrange our economy so it works and continues to function well, even with a below replacement birth rate? Because if it has to depend on more new players in the system, that system would look like a Ponzie Scheme.

      2. paul

        It’s not quite as simple as that, the UK has gotten rather used to importing skills as well as laundered money and you don’t reorganise that sort of imbalance over the 15 months we have left in the single market.

  6. Henry Moon Pie

    That Frank Rich byline on the NYM article almost scared me away. I thought pretty highly of Rich a little over a decade ago and appreciated his forthrightness about Bush’s wars, but he seemed to have been completely captured by the Dem neolibs in recent years.

    But thanks, Yves, for the link. I read through the article and felt that Frank is beginning to see the light. He still has a ways to go, though. While he pinpoints Bremer’s attempt on Wallace’s life as a bigger contributor to America’s decline than Kennedy’s assassination, he fails to point out that in May, just before Bremer shot Wallace, McGovern and Nixon were in a dead-heat in a three-way race that would have recapitulated 1968. And at the end of his piece, he quotes some wisdom from Bannon:

    Looking to the future in his 60 Minutes White House exit interview, Bannon said, “The only question before us” is whether it “is going to be a left-wing populism or a right-wing populism.” And that is the question, he added, “that will be answered in 2020.” Give the devil his due: He does have the question right. But there is every reason to fear that our unending civil war will not be resolved by any election anytime soon in the destabilized America that Trump will leave behind.

    If the choice is between Bernie and an alt-righter descended from Wallace, why be so nasty about the Vermont Senator?

    But whatever his other failings, Sanders spoke directly, even crudely, to voters, unburdened by scripted campaign groupthink.

    “Other failings?” “Crudely?”

    If you want to stop right-wing populism, richie Rich, then you need to get over having your feelings hurt when Bernie goes after the billionaires.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Henry.

      I agree with your first paragraph.

      Rich had a regular column in the Guardian in the noughties. His transformation this decade, or from 2008, is disappointing. It was the same with fellow guest columnists at the paper like Johnny Apple, EJ Dionne and the guy at the New Republic and CNN, whose name escapes me.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Very true, but I’m not sure I’ve detected any change in old E. J. since his college days when he was a very ambitious guy. To be ambitious in the journalism business pretty much requires go-along-get-along.

    2. Montanamaven

      The Rich article was hard for me to read. Just like the “resistance” Democrats now, I followed Frank Rich and watched “The West Wing” and was firmly in the liberal bubble back in the bad Bush years. I look back and see how naive I was and it took becoming active in the party to finally have me wake up and see what baloney the DNC was. So Rich continues to be a spokesman for the swamp things. He says that “dark money on the right was mobilizing big data and fake news to foment hopelessness and apathy among the Democratic base on Facebook.” But at the same time, as a hack for the Dems, he also has to put in that Trump took the angry right wing populists who felt abandoned “with boosts from the Russians and a funky calculus of the electoral college” and “led them to the promised land.”
      He also can’t help but call Trump voters “rural white Trumpists”. (The Colin Woodard article yesterday? Debunked that.). And, yeh, what’s with calling Bernie crude?
      Since when is plain direct truth too crude for our delicate ears?
      Last time I read him.

        1. barefoot charley

          Used to love Rich, until he marinated in party Kool-Aid when Hilary got robbed. I loved Paul Krugman speaking truth to little Bush. He was harder to take defending Obama with neoliberal pieties and Nobel-quality smugness, and utterly unreadable today, I’m not aware of anyone’s sinecured NYT opinions worth reading now, thinking of Rich as a recent alum.

          A local right-wing organizer buddy of mine used to deplore the people he put in office, “I tell them ‘You’re supposed to *serve* the Kool-Aid, you’re not supposed to *drink* it!’ “

      1. Sid Finster

        Found on internet:

        It is laughable that a country that has Citizens United, SuperPACs and Superdelegates blames FBs for destroying democracy.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          No kidding.

          A “democracy” in which three men are allowed to have as much “speech”… wealth….. as 160 million “other” people, and one of the three owns the capital’s “newspaper of record.”

      2. FiddlerHill

        I happened to have worked with Frank Rich years ago. He was (and I presume still is) a very congenial, funny and thoughtful guy. But as the rot in the Democratic Party settled in over the years, he appears to have remained captured by his Harvard club mentality and the whole Cambridge fraternity looking for the deep, somewhat mystical flows of political thought which might explain Triumpism. When in fact the explanation for Trump’s election is staring them right in the face: Hillary Clinton. Sad to say, all the Democrats had to do to win was nominate virtually anyone other than Hillary, and we would have been rescued from all these contorted essays about the rise of Trumpism.

        1. perpetualWAR

          I strongly disagree with your statement: “When in fact the explanation for Trump’s election is staring them right in the face: Hillary Clinton.”

          The Democrats were responsible for the largest transfer of wealth most likely in the history of the world under Obama. I blame Obama for electing Trump.

          Had the Democrats chosen anyone but Bernie, my vote would have remained silent.

          1. Mark P.

            The arrival of the Clintons and the New Democrats is the source event from which all else — the GFC in 2008, Obama, and, ultimately, Trump — flows. I don’t think you guys need to disagree since you’re pointing at the same thing ultimately.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I never trusted them from day one.

              Am I guilty of not giving them a chance to prove themselves?

              I remember, if correctly, that one of the election points was trust. And because the Republicans made it, that doesn’t mean they were wrong.

            2. mpalomar

              The source event may have been decades earlier when Republicans overrode Truman’s veto and passed Taft Hartley which led to the right to work legislations in coming decades that gutted the unions that supported the Democratic Party.

              1. georgieboy

                Yet, the “unions that support the Democratic Party” in Illinois have gutted the state, to the point that Dem/union double and triple pension-dippers have their financial claims written into the Illinois constitution. AFSCME is the most reliable supporter of the notorious Michael Madigan, he who is making people leave the state as soon as… their pensions come through.

                Taft-Hartley did eventually affect union/employer relations in the private market, not so much where the employer is state or local government (and run by traditional Dem politicians) who happily trade state-funded jobs and pensions for votes and and a side-dish of un-serviceable debts. Chicago is ground-zero for this.

                1. mpalomar

                  It is indisputable that there are corrupt unions, or that unions have at times veered in reactionary directions. It is however of far less consequence than the monumental corruption cycles in the FIRE sectors where the rapine against the middle class through influence on policy and politicians has been epic.

                  More to the point, from the height of union participation, at nearly 35% in 1954 to just over 11% in 2014 workers wages have been stagnated and standards of living and quality of life have been in decline.

                  In that same time the Democratic Party has moved from authorship of the New Deal to repealing Glass Steagall and Clinton signing the Financial Modernization Act The union era was the last connection the Democratic Party had with the interests of working people.

                  The Supreme Court is about to hear a California case involving collective bargaining that is likely to set in motion the destruction of the public sector unions through the right to work vehicle. There is a clear line of causality from Taft Hartley to the demise of unions, the public sector unions as well.

                  The internecine battle between AFSCME, Madigan and Illinois Democratic legislators characterizes the Democratic betrayal and abandonment of the Unions.

              2. Jim

                Taft-Hartley was passed in what, 1947? How many decades since then did the Dems control all branches of the government? Did they ever make a serious attempt to repeal Taft-Hartley?

                Remember 2008 Obama campaigning for card-check, which would have made it so much more possible for workers in the US to organize unions? And what happened after he won the White House, with the Dems holding both houses of Congress? Nada, zippo, zilch…

    3. LifelongLib

      Buried in all the verbiage is the note that Wallace “support[ed] big-government programs like Social Security and Medicare that benefited his base”. Sure would be nice to have a candidate with a base like that…

  7. fresno dan

    Locals Were Troubled by Roy Moore’s Interactions with Teen Girls at the Gadsden Mall New Yorker/ Solid reporting.

    It seems we’re reaching a “Cosby” moment with Moore.
    A few points:
    1. With regard to victims not coming forward – remember Denny Hastert, former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (R-IL)? And a whole bunch more – how is it that anyone can put forth the proposition that sex attack victims are not credible due to the passage of time? AND Moore was a prosecutor – hard not to imagine all the people prosecuted on (dare I say it) Trumped up charges, and all the good old boys who did worse that got a pass.
    2. With regard to the Moore victims, what to make of the victims voting for Trump, when Trump seems to me to have at least equivalent documentation of sexual harassment. And again, if you didn’t like Trump, there were other candidates on the ballot besides Clinton. You waste your vote when you vote for the lessor of two evils…
    3. I wonder about the very theory of democracy when people can be manipulated into thinking creeps reflect their values more than someone labeled “democrat.”

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      3. I wonder about the very theory of democracy when people can be manipulated into thinking creeps reflect their values more than someone labeled “democrat.”

      Dan, Just read the Atlantic link “Reckoning with Bill Clinton’s Sex Crimes.” That sword cuts both ways.

      1. fresno dan

        Katniss Everdeen
        November 14, 2017 at 8:11 am

        I have mentioned a certain “Ragin’ Cajun” and the “drag a dollar bill through a trailer park” – the question is, what policy is the democrat IN THIS RACE, as well as any other parties on the ballot, taking that is worse than what the conduct of Moore was (and IS).
        I think the very idea of stereotyping people by parties instead of as individuals is why we are getting such disreputable parties as candidates.

        1. fresno dan

          fresno dan
          November 14, 2017 at 7:56 am

          AND Moore was a prosecutor – hard not to imagine all the people prosecuted on (dare I say it) Trumped up charges, and all the good old boys who did worse that got a pass.

          I’m not gonna say I told you so…..well, that’s a lie….

          Roy Stewart Moore and Joseph Lee Musso are two sons of Alabama who have been individually accused of enticing a 14-year-old girl for sexual purposes.

          Only Musso was not the Etowah district attorney at the time.

          And Musso was not accused of approaching a 14-year-old as she sat with her mother on a wooden bench outside a courtroom just down the hall from his office.
          In fact, Musso never actually met the 14-year-old in his case.

          That is because his 14-year-old did not exist.

          She proved to be an online persona of a federal agent who arrested Musso when he showed up for what he thought was going to be a rendezvous with her. The charges as listed in court papers read:

          “18 U.S.C. S 2422(b); Using a Computer to Attempt to Persuade, Induce and Entice a Child to Engage in Sexual Activity.”
          So….using computers to pick up 14 year olds….BAD, BAD, BAD! Using courtroom corridors and malls….not investigated…

          1. RUKidding

            It’s called Truth, Justice and the Bama Way, doncha know?

            Moore was a bona fide certified member of the Good Ole Boys KKKlub. Works wonders every time.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      I don’t know if I’d be quite so pessimistic about voters. After all, formerly Golden Boy Roy suffered a humiliating defeat in a local election at the time in question. it was so bad, he tucked his tail between his legs and headed off to Australia.

      He only began to win elections again after he got married to a woman in her 20s.

      One can imagine the conversation the locals had with Roy after his return from the Land Down Under:

      Local Big Shot: Roy, you know we’ve always had great hopes for you. West Point. Served your country in Vietnam. There have always been big plans for you.

      Roy: Yes sir.

      Local Pastor: But Roy, this fooling around with young girls has people upset. The mothers around here feel like they have to lock up their 8th and 9th graders.

      Roy: (looking down) Yes sir.

      Local Pastor: Now I know war is hell, Roy. I’ve heard about some of those things that went on over there. But you have to understand that what’s acceptable in a war, an overseas war, is not going to fly around here.

      Roy: (quietly crying) Yes sir.

      Local Big Shot: Now, Roy, we’ve been talking, and I think we have a solution. We have a beautiful young lady who’s taken a shine to you. She’s willing to overlook the gossip and marry you. If we can set a date right here tonight, we can put your political career back on track. And you’re going to have to behave yourself from here on out.

      Roy: (looking up but with tears streaming down his face) Oh yes sir! You can count on me.

        1. Craig H.

          There are many subjects for which fictional accounts can be far truer than the ostensible non fiction. Mr Moonpie is probably very close to the bullseye here.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          “Now Roy you just can’t, I say, Roy you just can’t keep chatting up the cheerleaders at the junior high basketball games.”

          And please note my humor is not aimed at the poor victims of this guy but at the “keep it friendly” way it was probably handled.

          For you youngsters, some snippets of Foghorn.

    3. Alf

      His behavior is pretty damn weird if true, but these are still allegations and much of it falls into legal behavior as the age of consent in Alabama was 16 until recently.

      1. a different chris

        This is politics. Thomas Eagleton did nothing wrong at all, in fact you could argue that he did something right (went for help).

        Legality and “I want this person to represent me” are two entirely different things.

  8. makedoanmend

    Brexit immigration:

    Just lost my East European Dentist who is returning to the Czech Republic. Was one of the best dentists I ever had.

    So, it appears there are a broad range of skilled workers leaving.

      1. Arizona Slim

        I have a dental appointment later today. Looks like one of my long-time fillings has issues. Darn.

        The dentist who did the original work was a real straight shooter. Not one of the sales-y types that have become so prevalent in dentistry. I miss her.

  9. Arizona Slim

    Bill Gates is just another one of the many people who sees Arizona as the place to build his own little Utopia. The history of our state is full of similar tales. Most of them don’t end well.

    A few, like Arcosanti, trundle on as oddball tourist attractions. Most become ghost towns.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Perhaps he is going after the spice in the desert, and that commodity is too important to let something like a lack of water stop you.

      2. GF

        The property is conveniently located a few miles north of the biggest nuclear power plant in the USA – Palo Verde. The north edge of it borders the Central Arizona Project Canal, so easy siphoning water available as long as they don’t use more water than Phoenix and Tucson, which are downstream.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Looks like it would make a great set for a sci-fi or futuristic film. I wonder if they have been approached?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Something that size, i wonder if they had to do an environmental impact study for the artwork.

      2. BoycottAmazon

        Attraction is simple: Cheap land, my dear, cheap land. Made valuable by tax payers being foisted with the infrastructure to steal water from less connected users. In Florida it was tax payers who build the canals to make the land valuable for similar scams. Where water and land are involved, the wolves can not be far behind.

        Speaking of wolves:

        Last year, I was very fortunate to see an early cut of Rupert Russell’s documentary on the rise of fake democracy Freedom of the Wolf, which is currently on general release. The title of the film comes from the renowned philosopher Isaiah Berlin who once said, “Freedom for the wolves has often meant death to the sheep.” This quote provides a starting-point for Russell who goes in search of the world’s most dangerous idea Freedom.

        The end result is an excellent and indispensable documentary which provides one helluva ride across continents to meet the people battling on the frontline like the demonstrators occupying the streets of Hong Kong against the Chinese government’s removal of their democratic rights; or the youngsters in Tunisia who are left frustrated and isolated after the failure of the Arab Spring where telling a joke now can land them in jail; and to death on the streets of America, #BlackLivesMatter, and the game-changing election of Donald Trump in 2016. Freedom of the Wolf is the essential documentary to go and see if you want to get a handle on what is happening to freedom and democracy in the world right now .

    1. Vatch

      Maybe he hopes that his desert city will make a fortune by extracting the spice Melange from giant sand worms.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      I’m not familiar with the geography of the area of the proposed ‘smart’ city. Was Gates smart enough to locate his would-be Xanadu anywhere near a water source?

    3. Wyoming

      I live in AZ and when I saw this a few days ago my first reaction was where is he going to get the water. Water is pretty much fully allocated here and he will have to buy some or make ‘arrangements’ in typical billionaire/developer fashion I expect. His land is located in one of the driest places in the state as well.

      For reference, where I live in AZ the last year we had average rainfall or above was ….1998. This little experiment we are running here is not going to end well.

  10. Kevin

    RE: “How flashy displays of wealth have changed”

    Here’s a simple yet effective litmus test.

    Check out Bing Crosby’s home back in the day, then check out Kim Kardashian’s home today.
    Next step – check out Bing’s filmography and discography and the check out Kim’s resume.

    There is no sense to made of it.

      1. whine country

        Bing Crosby used to shop at a grocery store I worked at. He went there often alone and was just like a regular guy. He also had a season ticket to the 49ers among the general population just in front of a friend of mine. Times have changed, ya think?

      1. Arizona Slim

        Actually, Tucson is one of the best-read cities in this country. It also has a university with a reputation for being a party school, but that isn’t as true as it once was. The University of Arizona has some real brain-crushers among its undergrad and graduate programs.

  11. DorothyT

    Wonderful antidote today.
    About the dog: there are 4 types of Belgians, all considered the same dog underneath the fur. This one pictured with the owlet is a Belgian Malinois — often favored for search and rescue. When I worked near the Empire State Bldg., I often saw a Malinois searching all the incoming deliveries at the service entry. I had a Belgian Tervuren (long haired, same markings, same brilliant dog). The Belgian Shepherd is black long haired, and there is a wiry haired oddball-looking Belgian, too. See the wiki.

  12. fresno dan

    People Are Destroying Perfectly Good Keurig Machines for Sean Hannity Vice (resilc)

    Liberals are offended by this video of a Keurig being thrown off of a building.
    Please retweet to offend a Liberal.#BoycottKeurig
    Sooooo…..if a reporter from the Washington Post had said he had “sniffed” out the Moore/Corfman story, would we see videos of “conservatives” cutting off their noses to spite a liberal?

    And is Keurig surreptitiously planting stories on Facebook that Keurig coffee machines destroy the rain forest and cause global warming to regain the adult man/14 year old “dating” coffee pod demographic?
    As amusing as it is, I doubt more than 20 Keurig machines have actually been golf swinged into oblivion….
    Oh the other hand, maybe I seriously under estimate the number of idiots out there….

    1. a different chris

      I don’t remember how much a Keurig costs but it isn’t 5 bucks so I’m not sure how anybody , with more than 2 brain cells to rub together, regardless of their politics, finds it anything but hilarious that these idiots are destroying their own expensive stuff in some sort of weird performance art.

      And enviro-nazi leftists, like me, think it’s awesome. One less Keurig machine in the world is one less stream of unbiodegradable* crap for no reason.

      *I understand they are “working on that”. Hmpf… we had the little reusable cups once and they killed that off so sorry but not buying this crap….

      PS: it may just be a half-dozen, but in any case I bet 75% of these households quietly and shamefacedly go purchase a new one in a month or so because there is nothing, I mean nothing, like a spouse who can’t get her morning coffee in the manner accustomed.

      1. RUKidding

        Yeah I had a good old belly laugh at how these fools are being propagandized into believing that us Nazi Leftists are simply horrified! The HORROR! at these fools destroying their idiotic Keurig coffee machines. I say: have it it, fools! If that’s what makes you happy…

        And yes, I despise the insanely polluting Keurig machines that dispense crummy coffee. Good idea to go El Destructo on them, imo.

        Heh… what a joke.

  13. Jen

    On George Hebert Groper:

    “On Monday, Jim McGrath, a spokesman for Mr Bush, told the BBC the 41st president, who once directed the CIA, “simply does not have it in his heart to knowingly cause anyone harm or distress, and he again apologises to anyone he may have offended during a photo op”…

    In late October, after several other women came forward with similar stories, Mr McGrath said that Mr Bush “on occasion, has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner”.

    I am gobsmacked that Mr McGrath actually thought that would sound better than “he’s a senile old coot who has no idea what he’s doing.”

    Also, is it possible to direct the CIA and not have it in your heart to knowingly cause someone harm or distress?

    Soooooo much hypocrisy, so little time.

  14. Wukchumni

    High-tech on-demand climate-controlled dog houses exist Boing Boing. Resilc: “Too bad the Silicon Valley can’t scale it up for the loads of homeless PEOPLE.”

    The 1% on the lower end are our caste aways-untouchables.

    Nobody really wants to get too close to them, and law enforcement tries to act as if they don’t exist. They have nothing anybody in polite society wants, except occasionally living too close to their various American dreams.

  15. rjs

    oil analysts are starting to catch up with what i’ve been concerned about since mid-summer:

    Where Did Our Distillate Go? Stocks Low As Heating Oil Season Arrives

    i’ve also been concerned about natural gas supplies, and that’s starting to play out too…

    Northeast Facing Record-Low Temperatures As Polar Vortex Returns; Nat Gas Prices Soar 700%

    in some recent weeks 40% of our refinery distillates ouput went overseas; there’s nothing to stop them from exporting even if our domestic supplies are inadequate..

    1. visitor

      Last Spring NC published articles about ballooning stocks of refined products that did not seem to find any customers, causing storage capacity to be entirely used up. I presume those wild swings are for the best because markets (rule 1).

      1. rjs

        yeah, we’ve swung from glut to shortage in about a year and a half…our distillates production has been running way above normal, but not keeping up with what we’re shipping overseas..for the week ending November 3rd, our refineries’ production of distillate fuels (diesel fuel and heat oil) rose by 163,000 barrels per day to 5,199,000 barrels per day, which was 8.7% more than the 4,784,000 barrels per day of distillates that were being produced during the week ending November 4th last year..

        even with the increase in our distillates production, our supplies of distillate fuels fell by 3,359,000 barrels to 125,562,000 barrels over the week ending November 3rd, the ninth decrease in ten weeks.

        after this week’s decrease, our distillate inventories ended the week 15.5% lower than the 148,602,000 barrels that we had stored on November 4th, 2016, and 6.5% lower than the 10 year average for distillates stocks for this time of the year
        here’s a graph:

        …notice in the light blue shaded area that there a seasonality to distillates supplies, as they’re normally built up during the summer when refineries are running flat out, and then drawn down and consumed during the winter months, when demand for heat oil is greatest…however, this summer, when supplies of distillates should have been increasing like they have every other year, they were falling all summer instead, largely because we have been exporting our distillates at a record pace, with some recent weeks seeing as much as 40% of our production going overseas…but in the US, we never deny the oil companies their profits, even if the margin of safety for our own use gets precariously narrow…thus we are heading into what looks like it will be a colder than normal winter with much lower than normal supplies of heat oil in storage, which is now likely to result in a shortage of heat oil and correspondingly higher prices in the US, sometime before the heating season comes to a close….

  16. Livius Drusus

    Re: How flashy displays of wealth have changed, I recently watched the 30 for 30 documentary on the pro wrestler Ric Flair and there was a part of the show where he mentioned showing his parents his big mansion and instead of being happy they were disgusted by his excess. His father was a physician so they weren’t poor. This was in the 1980s. I can’t imagine a similar reaction today. But the 1980s seemed to be the start of the trend toward the rich flaunting their wealth without any qualms. I wish I could remember who said it but I recall a quote from someone who said of the 1980s: “It was OK to be rich again.”

    As for China and Russia, in their book Revolution From Above: The Demise of the Soviet System, David Kotz and Fred Weir discuss how the Soviet elite became envious of their Western counterparts as more information about how much better Western elites lived seeped into the USSR. Even with their access to better consumer goods and other privileges Soviet elites could not legitimately accumulate substantial personal wealth like their Western counterparts. Many of the perks that Soviet elites received came with their jobs and were not forms of personal wealth.

    Members of the Soviet intelligentsia (scientists, writers and other so-called knowledge workers) also came to resent the fact that their standard of living was often not much better than that of manual laborers. Kotz and Weir quote one Soviet scientist who complained that his dacha was no better than one belonging to a truck driver. This resentment increased as Soviet intellectuals learned about how wealthy some Western intellectuals were. Of course they didn’t take into account the starving writer waiting tables or stuck in a low-paying teaching job while trying to get published but the impression that life for people like them was better in the West had a major impact on Soviet knowledge workers and caused many of them to support abandoning Soviet socialism and support the establishment of capitalism.

    I suspect that having to live modestly for so many decades helped to cause the explosion of conspicuous consumption in China and Russia. I wonder if something similar happened in the West. Did Western elites chafe at the relative egalitarianism of the post-war era? Did they think it was unfair that they had to sometimes share neighborhoods with manual laborers? I think that is very possible since I sometimes see this attitude crop up whenever things like a higher minimum wage or unions are discussed. There is a belief that less-educated workers don’t deserve a decent standard of living. Think about this whenever there is a transit strike in a big city and all of a sudden well-educated liberals start mouthing right-wing talking points about lazy, overpaid unionized workers.

    1. Wukchumni

      I would argue that it wasn’t just the elite in the Soviet bloc party that hungered for a better material life, everybody felt the pinch of austerity, eventually causing the iron curtain to crumble from within from want.

      My uncle was a doctor and he wasn’t paid much more than a trashman as far as salary goes-and truth be said there was precious little to spend money on anyway, but it came with perks, such as a nicer apartment in Prague. He might’ve had to wait in line for a shorter time than the rest of the proles that spent an hour hoping that they didn’t miss out on canned beets, if a new shipment came in.

      Ah, the privileges of rank.

    2. vlade

      A few comments, on your USSR para.

      You’re looking at the wrong elite, and via western lenses. The real elite weren’t the scientists, or even the soldiers – it was the communist party apparatus. They didn’t have dachas, they had whole areas/regions to themselves – depends on where you were, but there were whole fenced-off areas for their private use. Technically not owned by them, but it was in their gift – at least until they fell out of favour.

      The party functionaries operated more or less in a similar way that a feudal system did. They did NOT have to have clear personal wealth in the sense that a westerner would recognise – because basically they could (with a bit of effort) get whatever they wanted within their fief (and, while we’re talking about property, ‘whatever they wanted’ went way past that).

      In fact the “intelligentsia ” was a sort of dirty word, and while some, in the critical industries were quite well off, some would literally wish they could wait on tables, as it was at least healthier than working as a coal stoker. In general, the heavy-industry workers had much better conditions – say pay and benefits of a coal miner were often multiples of what anyone else was getting.

      That said, I entirely agree with “I suspect that having to live modestly for so many decades helped to cause the explosion of conspicuous consumption in China and Russia”. That said, the seeds of it were planted already, as there was a saying in the socialist bloc “he who doesn’t steal, steals from his family”.

      1. Wukchumni

        That said, the seeds of it were planted already, as there was a saying in the socialist bloc “he who doesn’t steal, steals from his family”.

        I’ve made this movie suggestion before, but it fits in perfectly with this saying…

        I watched The Fireman’s Ball about 5 years ago, and it was Miloš Forman’s last film he made in Czechoslovakia before exiting stage left 50 years ago. It was banned ‘forever’ after the Prague Spring, and the ongoing gag in the film is that everybody is stealing from one another, and I asked my mom what that was all about, and she told me that’s the way it was in the old country @ the time, every man or woman for themselves-possession being 10/10’s of the law.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Similar to China today, the Communist Party is 6% of the population but they own 100% of the land, if you’re lucky and you stay onside with the right faction they may give you a 70-year lease but that can disappear overnight. An estimated 100M people have been forcibly removed to make way for housing, roads, etc

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        There is a Zen saying (I think, but don’t hold me to it): He, or she, who owns nothings owns everything.

        Clearly, it is being abused here.

    3. Donna

      In the early 1980s young adult baby boomers (at least in Florida) began to sport bumper stickers that said “He who dies with the most toys wins.” As a member of that generation, I found that sentiment worrying at the time. Of course, I didn’t know why then. I would say now that statement represented the return of the excesses neoliberalism on steroids. A new gilded age.

      1. diptherio

        My dad had a mug with that slogan on it when I was a kid in 1980s Montana. Talk about a vapid philosophy of life. The crazy thing is how much people actually arrange their lives as if that absurdity were a serious belief…

      2. RUKidding

        People I knew who sported that bumper sticker were doing so ironically. At least where I lived, it wasn’t viewed as a motto to live by, but rather as a moral to the story (so to speak). Perhaps, though, others viewed it as worthy goal. Who knew?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          He who dies with the most toys dies very reluctantly.

          “I need more time to enjoy my toys, some….OK, many, I have not used yet.”

    4. CanCyn

      Teenager in the ’70s … my husband, who I didn’t know back then, would ask his Dad to drop him off a few blocks from school because he didn’t want people to see the Cadillac that his Dad drove. Fast forward to the present, both in-laws are gone now. We inherited a convertible Mercedes when Mom-in-law died and will probably sell it as it mostly sits in the driveway unused. I am totally uncomfortable driving around in it and I sure wouldn’t dream of pulling into the parking lot of the community college where I work driving it. Unlike many fat cat administrators who are quite happy to pull up in their fancy Volvos, Lexuses, Mercedes, etc.

      1. Wukchumni

        I find it funny in the big cities of Southern California where slowed or stopped traffic is a constant more or less, why anybody would need any more than say a Citroën 2CV in terms of horsepower to get around, but you still glimpse so many see me-dig me, expensive cars on the freeway.

  17. diptherio

    Brexit immigration changes have UK farmers upset over rotting agriculture crops Quartz. Our Colonel Smithers has discussed the departure of farm workers and the difficulty of replacing them.

    I have a feeling that one could just about understand everything fundamentally wrong with our current social organization by studying this conundrum (or the similar one faced in the US).

    Food: the most fundamental product of human civilization. And yet, our most “advanced” countries cannot seem to produce and process it themselves. What a strange situation for a powerful country to be in.

    Agriculture work is not the most pleasant, necessarily (although it has it’s advantages), but there are plenty of other unpleasant and low-paid jobs that don’t seem to have problems finding workers to fill them. Nursing homes, gas stations, porta-potty maintenance companies, etc. don’t have these problems, and all of those are less desirable work situations than being on a farm or ranch…at least there’s no customer service involved with driving a combine. So why can those other industries find adequate workers, but not ag?

    As has often been pointed out, wages and benefits (or rather, lack thereof) are likely major contributors. I wonder what else is going on, though….for such “developed” countries, we sure have a hard time figuring out the basics.

    1. visitor

      There are these other elements (from an old comment of mine):

      1) Agricultural work is back-breaking.
      2) Often must be done under harsh weather conditions.
      3) In today’s large farm operations, implies prolonged contact with highly toxic substances (pesticides of all kinds — rates of cancer, including some that are generally rare, are exceedingly high amongst farmers).
      4) Almost by definition, means you live out of cities, in places often difficult or costly to reach, thus severely limiting opportunities for leisure, education and socialization.

      Which added up to
      5) low pay,
      6) lack of benefits,
      as you mention, do not make for an enticing work prospect.

      True enough, (1), (5) and (6) are widespread; (2) and (3) are not infrequent; but (4) is rather specific — most other jobs take place within, or in the immediate vicinity of cities. And the sum of all that is deterring.

      1. diptherio

        1 and 2 also apply to the Alaskan fishing industry, and they don’t seem to have any problem attracting young people from around the country to go work on fishing boats and in canneries every summer. However, those jobs pay well and are temporary, as in most people move back to the lower 48 after the season. But I do suspect that if 5 and 6 were remedied, 1 and 2 wouldn’t be much of a stumbling block.

        3 is true but unconvincing. The oil industry isn’t hurting for employees, nor any of many other industries that also are well known (more so than ag) for leading to health problems (think Black Lung and how coal miners mine coal anyway).

        4 I think might be the biggest issue. Most of the kids from Rural areas want to go to the city and few people from the city want to move away from their cultural and economic conveniences. I live in a place where nothing is open on Sunday and the grocery store closes at 6 pm…I think that keeps some people away who might otherwise consider moving here, as the housing is considerably cheaper. But the trade-off for the convenience of city-living is actually knowing your neighbors and living in a place with wildlife and big trees and clean air (when the big trees aren’t on fire, least ways).

        But I still think that if you remedy 5 and 6, even number 4 won’t keep people away.

        1. Wukchumni

          “I live in a place where nothing is open on Sunday and the grocery store closes at 6 pm…I think that keeps some people away who might otherwise consider moving here, as the housing is considerably cheaper. But the trade-off for the convenience of city-living is actually knowing your neighbors and living in a place with wildlife and big trees and clean air (when the big trees aren’t on fire, least ways).”

          It’s very similar here everybody knows their neighbors-and I probably know 10% of the population by name and face.

          We’re equidistant from LA & SF, and you can buy a basic house for 1/3rd (or less) of what it’ll cost you for the same abode in the Big Smoke.

          There is no crime, no graffiti, no gangs and no jobs here, and you’d think baby boomers would be attracted to such a living situation in downsizing from the big city, but cutting the social ties is the most difficult thing of all, and it’s kind of funny, as most social ties seem to be on the internet nowadays, so that’s not stopping them from moving here, and it is happening a bit, but there’s plenty of homes here that stay on the market for 6 months to a year, so it isn’t a rush to the exits by any means.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        They are working on robot farm workers as we speak

        Any breakthrough by a genius scientist, and we will be seeing them all over the Central Valley.

  18. Croatoan

    Yes, for me it is the fructans, not the glutens, that were a trigger fir my IBS-D, and I am glad this is starting to be recognized in the US.

    I went on the FODMAP program to find out what I was sensitive to, and fructans were a big one. If you are at all concerned with trying to balance your microbiome I suggest you take a look at the FODMAP program from Monesh University.

    1. Adrienne

      Garlic is very high in fructans, so if garlic upsets your gut it might be a good indicator that fructans are an issue for you.

  19. Wukchumni

    ‘Tobacco at a cancer summit’: Trump coal push savaged at climate conference Guardian

    A timely quote, circa 1997:

    “If we keep on with business as usual, the Earth will be warmed more every year; drought and floods will be endemic; many more cities, provinces, and whole nations will be submerged beneath the waves — unless heroic worldwide engineering countermeasures are taken. In the longer run, still more dire consequences may follow, including the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet, and the inundation of almost all the coastal cities on the planet.”~ Carl Sagan

    1. FiddlerHill

      I got as far as the third paragraph when Frank writes ” … Obama was actually good at the job …” No point in reading further when we begin with the premise that fraudulent, hypocritical, Wall Street protecting drone killers are “good at the job.”

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I read that part as Frank playing devil’s advocate. He gets to the meat of it all with this:

        The parade of the aghast is the obverse of the gullible way our pundits usually contemplate American leaders – lionizing them as men of crisis, admiring their gravitas as they go from international summit to emergency bank bailout. And now the buffoon Trump has exposed it all as a fraud.

        That’s why the elite in opposition to Trump hate him – because he’s just like they are except with such bad manners that he’s exposing the whole con they’ve been getting away with for years.

        1. Arizona Slim

          Bad manners? In the White House? Have these pundits ever heard of Lyndon Johnson? Or Richard Nixon?

  20. Jim Haygood

    The resources plowed into the United States wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and the additional spending on Homeland Security, and the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs since 9/11 were stupendous – $5.6 trillion so far, academics at Brown University estimated this month.

    Let’s do some back-of-envelope maff. Average current dollar GDP over the past 15 years was around $16.9 trillion, while the annual value of the cumulative $5.6 trillion spent on Asian wars was $0.37 trillion. That’s 2.2% of US GDP flushed down the toilet on counterproductive foreign wars, rather than domestic investment.

    Flare off 2.2% of the economy, year after year, and pretty soon your f*cked country is sliding back into the Third World. Measures of US living standards have been corroding since the 1970s. Now the decline is accelerating.

    Useless wars are destroying the US middle class. This is a policy decision by our unaccountable national security state, whose vision for America looks like Blade Runner 2049.

    1. Wukchumni

      Down the hall their voices ring, their feet are on the run
      Phantoms on the winter sky, together they do come
      Faded lips and eyes of blue they’re carried in the wind
      Their laughter filled the countryside but they’ll not laugh again

      All the games are ended now, their voices have been stilled
      Their fathers built the tools of war by which they all were killed
      Their fathers made the uniforms showing which side they were on
      And the young boys were the middle men for guns to prey upon

      You’ve seen the fires in the night, watched the devil as he smiles
      You’ve heard a mother’s mournful cry as she searches for her child
      You’ve seen the lines of refugees, the faces of despair
      And wondered at the wise men who never seem to care

      Goodbye you lost children, God speed you on your way
      Your little beds are empty now, your toys are put away
      Your mother sings a lullaby as she gazes at the floor
      Your father builds more weapons and marches out once more

      Down the hall their voices ring, their feet are on the run
      Phantoms on the winter sky, together they do come
      Faded lips and eyes of blue they’re carried in the wind
      Their laughter filled the countryside but they’ll not laugh again

    2. diptherio

      “Useless wars are one thing destroying the US middle class and the poor.” There, fixed it for ya.

      Other things destroying the middle class: the replacement of defined-benefit pensions with 401(k) plans; Wall Street shenanigans that reduce the already low value of those 401(k)s; the absurd price of higher education, housing and medical care thanks to the financialization of everything; disease and premature deaths caused by environmental toxins and pollutants; loneliness and depression caused by our unnatural emphasis on individualism and devaluing of friends and family…etc.

      And, as it is by-and-large the sons and daughters of the poor who fill out the ranks of our military (“thugs for capitalism,” as Gen. Smedley Butler put it), and since they’re the ones who come back wounded, physically and psychologically…and since most vets that I know are not, themselves, middle class…I think we should include us poors in the people damaged by useless wars too. Just sayin’.

  21. jfleni

    RE: Thirty Million Americans Just Got High Blood Pressure!

    This happens about every year. The crazed medicos must be coddled, except for the few sensible ones who pay no attention.

    Conclusion: You are sick if we say so, epidemic of dangerous overtreatment not withstanding!

    1. el_tel

      I won’t make definitive statements about the validity of this particular guideline.

      *However* it was recently established (can’t find the link, sorry) that a fast pulse is a predictor of cardiovascular events (stroke/MI) independent of blood pressure. Epidemiology does regularly, as data build up, establish new risk factors. I’ll keep an open mind as to these new guidelines but I certainly don’t think they necessarily are some nefarious plot to get more people on drugs etc.

      The article is certainly lacking in sources – a systematic review/meta analysis would be good….but it is not obviously out of line with a lot of experience out there. Plus even if it’s true, it doesn’t mean “medicos looking for more treatment options” – BP is affected by lots of other factors. It may even be the case that something like neoliberalism, and the stresses it is causing increasing numbers of people, is to blame, and that the “best” course of action is to reverse THAT.

    2. dearieme

      It’s worth remembering what the mortality data show for BMI. Being ‘overweight’ means you live longer on average than does having a BMI that is ‘normal’. In fact, the people with ‘normal’ live a shorter life than the people in the lowest band of ‘obese’. Being underweight is a really bad idea.

      Of course, this is just observational data; Lord knows how many effects are confounded together. But it does scream out “Beware of doctors bearing pseudo-religions”.

      1. el_tel

        Yes confounding is a major issue – hence why so many findings from epidemiological cohort studies are found to be suss. But with time and recruitment across different groups, they do eventually find *real* things – like the pulse issue. But, with respect, you’re on very dodgy ground using BMI as an example to make the point – BMI was discredited long ago. It’s well known that anyone with “higher than normal muscle mass who has exercised a lot” will technically be “fat/obese” according to BMI. Percentage fat/ stomach fat/etc have long since displaced BMI as indicators of cardiovascular risk. No doctor worth their salt should be using BMI except as a very very broad indicator, and in conjunction with lots of other information (“does this patient look fat or do they go to the gym a lot”).

        Technically I’m overweight according to BMI – but that’s because I put on lots of muscle at the gym during my PhD when I had to wait hours for my medical statistics program to run. When I tell the doctor or nurse I need to lose a few kilos they invariably look at me as if I’m a moron/potential anorexic – all because my chest/waist measurement is large. But my body fat percentage is higher than it should be really – and not a single doctor/nurse in my 45 years on this earth has ever remarked upon or been the slightest bit bothered by my higher than normal BMI.

        1. dearieme

          “BMI was discredited long ago”

          (i) Yet doctors keep noting my BMI on my medical records.

          (ii) You make my point for me. Once it was the idol of doctors: now it is discredited, if not yet completely. Increasingly it looks as if the lipid hypothesis is being discredited: when a drug knocks cholesterol readings down and yet offers no protection from heart attack deaths, that’s pretty suggestive, eh? When will the BP recommendations likewise be “discredited”?

    3. Summer

      Or “Thirty Million Americans Just Got Slapped With a Pre-Existing Condition”…

      And higher insurance costs?

  22. Space Dreaming

    This Mesmerising NASA Footage Set to a ‘Sound of Silence’ Cover Will Give You Chills …

    After reading the headline, and envisioning the silence so well described, I quickly went to the clip, but when I did, the horrific music pushed me out! And worse, the music just got louder over time! Even the original Hello Darkness would have been better. Does anyone know of good NASA views with no or better music?

    1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

      Scary stuff, although I would add that Kristol & the Neo-cons have since been mugged by another reality, but do not appear to have noticed yet.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you.

        I was forwarded the link by a Bank of England official, who added that the article is going around like wild fire at the central bank, Treasury and regulators, but not at the offices of their political masters.

  23. DJG

    Let’s see now: The U.S. health-care system is based on prescriptions, which become a form of rent seeking. So we have “findings” that the population has to reach an impossible number. Get those cholesterol levels to 111! Statins galore. Chronic pain? Opioid prescriptions a go-go. Now everyone in the country has high blood pressure.

    At least three pills a day. And will this all be covered by that outstanding bronze plan on the exchanges (or the stripped plans now being suggested by employers)?

    What could possibly go wrong?

    1. Wukchumni

      Imagine how Puerto Rican folks dependent on a cocktail of pills daily fared in the midst of their EMP like conditions, perhaps going cold turkey after running out?

    2. el_tel

      As I say above, the BP article is not explicitly saying more meds are required. As time goes on and we rule out more confounding issues in epidemiological studies we learn more – and whilst yes, the article needs better referencing – it’s very possible that a greater number of people have BP that is really too high. That’s a far cry from saying “beta-blockers/whatever”! Less neo-liberalism, better food etc are equally good (better) at solving the problem. Besides, “Oooh new drugs” syndrome does eventually get debunked. My former boss debunked the big JAMA study that Cox 2 inhibitors beat NSAIDS – the American Society for Rheumatology very publicly threw him out……then when he was proven correct they gave him a lifetime achievement award. Biggest LOL ever. (He literally wrote the rheumatology textbook for medicine in the UK and remains one of the cleverest people I’ve ever worked with – and continued to do influential work despite trauma of being one of Saddam’s human shields in the first Gulf War.)

    3. a different chris

      I never had very high “bad cholesterol” but after being basically knocked out for 6 months due to high BP medication I had no “good cholesterol” so they put me on a statin. Which was the wrong idea from the get go, I now realize in hindsite.

      Anyway, it took me years — many years — to realize that that garbage was giving me major cramps. Not just leg but insane one-side-of-the neck, which may be worse than both sides! This was not pre-Internet, but there wasn’t the info there was now.

      When I figured it out, my doctor – of course – prescribed pills for the cramps. The old lady that swallowed the fly, you know. And this was despite the fact that my cholesterol was fine again. But that was credited to the statins, so there was no thought of getting off of them.

      I finally just stopped taking them myself.

      There is no way to get off any of this (family blog)ing “forever” medication unless you just do it yourself. If you have a problem, you get medicated. Now if your problem goes away, the medicine is credited so you stay on it. And since 99% of medical “science” is based on statistics, with few clues on how anything actually works, it’s just can become a mess.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        The hairball of perverse incentives baked into for-profit and fee-for-service medicine makes the real motivations all treatments suspect–and well it should. You can’t trust the motivation of someone whose income stream is dependent on seeing you as a revenue source, human nature means any trust given is likely to be abused for money. This will grow worse as “market based” thinking further pervades the health sector, and what good is a doctor or system whom one cannot implicitly trust the motivations of?

        The only answer is to socialize not only medicine, but the development of drugs and treatments. Drug research should be the sole province of the public sector and all the products and fruits of that research must be common public properties–without any IP rights at all attached to them.

        Only then can we begin rebuilding the eroded trust of a rapacious for-profit model.

  24. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Largest Ever Group of Scientists Issues Humanity an Urgent Warning: Time Is Running Out Science Alert

    What is the difference between ‘time is running out’ and ‘time has run out?”

    1. Timing is running out – more money for science and technology

    2. Time has run out – more money for the military to secure resources for survival.


    Admittedly, that’s ‘cui bono’ type of analysis. Some people take positions irregardless of self-interest.

    Sometimes, goodhearted people advocate bad policies and evil-hearted people have good ideas.

    1. Wukchumni

      The timing on this climate change gig is tricky and unpredictable to say the least.

      I’d cover both angles by getting a pied-à-terre in Port-au-Prince & Tierra del Fuego, and maybe a condo on the Great Slave Lake, for overkill.

    2. KTN

      In any case you can throw out the environmental Kuznets curve.

      Just throw it on the trash heap of economic ‘laws,’ right on top of the other Kuznets curve. Yah, that one smells, sorry. It’s been in there for a while.

    1. Musicismath

      Especially this bit:

      If progressives want to change the minds of Brexiteers, waiting for them to see the error of their ways isn’t going to work. What people need is a quid pro quo that offers them tangible improvements in their lives right now. That, and only that, will keep Britain in the EU.

  25. BoycottAmazon

    Germany is “by far the largest emitter” – accounting for 18.3% of the total greenhouse gas emissions of the European Union, the European Free Trade Association and Turkey, which is why their strategy “matters so much” for net greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, according to the report.
    Germany is not decarbonising as fast as other large emitters – it is the 14th of 23 countries analysed – and, by exporting electricity generated by fossil fuels, Germany is significantly increasing the CO2-intensity of neighbouring countries’ electricity consumption, the report says.

    To borrow a phrase from Good Morning Vietnam: It’s Hot! D@mn Hot!

    1. Lord Koos

      But isn’t Germany also one of the countries working hardest on switching to renewables? From what I’ve read, they get an impressive percentage of their power from solar and are investing heavily in renewable energy.

      1. mpalomar

        I recall Germany backed off the nuclear solution to clean energy after Fukushima. Merkel has apparently been mouthing the right words but her resort to reliance on coal and enthusiastic acceptance of previous bad agreements (tax exemption for) pushing diesel transportation has Germany no longer reducing but plateauing on green house emissions. She is apparently in the pocket of the big auto manufacturers.

  26. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “What do Europeans consider sexual harassment?”
    I think all this sexual harassment stuff is getting completely out of hand. What’s in the news is beyond the pale but I’m discussing the “everyday notions” of sexual harassment.

    Looking in the 1913 Webster’s dictionary on my computer– harassment:
    1)intense annoyance caused by being tormented
    2)the act of tormenting by continued persistent attacks and criticism
    The various behaviors women now seem to consider harassment seem much broader than this old definition. Is it truly so difficult to distinguish between a “catcall” and a well meaning complement. Do women no longer wish to be admired and desired as women? That should please those concerned about overpopulation.

    What happened to the second definition of harassment? The words torment and attack and persistent all suggest intent on the part of the one acting to harass. I always thought there was a complementarity between the two meanings.

    How did intense annoyance become equated with torment and how did small things become intense annoyance? A Council of Europe convention against violence against women in Article 40 of the Convention defines harassment as:
    “any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person (…) is subject to criminal or other legal sanction.”
    Suppose I ignore an unattractive woman’s obvious attempt at flirting with me — by that definition is it really a stretch to suggest both the woman and I have harassed each other? How did the definition of harassment become so broad and vague? It fits nicely with current notions of passive aggressive and micro-aggressive behaviors.

    [Of course at my age I would be most loathe to construe any flirting by any woman as a violation of my dignity. Indeed I’ve always been most flattered on those rare occasions when I’ve been noticed as a sexual being. I suppose I might consider it harassment that I’m too often ignored or even openly disdained by females I’m attracted to. Perhaps my smiles and eye contact harasses them.]

    1. Bill

      Really, it comes down to what is appropriate for any given situation. In a work situation, inappropriate sexual and personal judgment remarks, etc., that bear no relation to the task at hand: really, what is the motivation for this behavior? Intimidation, power plays, poor social skills? Bad taste? What’s wrong with sticking to business, and having intellectual conversations? Perhaps we should stop thinking that we need to be massaging egos in subjective ways at work or in professional situations, or looking to hook up at work. Unless someone’s appearance matters in a work situation, like conforming to a dress code, why not just leave it alone.

      1. a different chris

        >what is the motivation for this behavior


        But sadly:

        >or looking to hook up at work

        “Hook up” is a pretty rough term. It was pretty hard to meet people outside of work “in my day”…. I think things have gotten better but am way out of the market and if they haven’t, then it is a problem. And if you work a lot then people who work with you tend to be the people you would best get along with.

        So is “I get to know a person here, not thru Tinder for chrissakes” a motivation? You didn’t list that one. Any “sexual and personal judgment remarks,” (you put in “inappropriate, there are appropriate ones? News to me…) are way out of line for sure. But can you ask somebody out?

        Note: I am not only long out of the market but personally am all for negative population growth so I’m not complaining at all, just pointing this out. But American society is a master of whiplash over-responses (cough, Prohibition, cough) and here it comes again.

        1. Bill

          After work you can try to run into the person you are interested in and ask them out for coffee–is this so hard? It is ridiculous IMO to think that since you work so much you have to use your workplace as a pool to find dates and future marriage partners. This was a major annoyance for me–with all of the emotional blackmail inherent in these situations. I don’t give one crap that you are so desperate for relationships of whatever sort that you need me to invest my time and energy to be vetted. And don’t think people aren’t there to hook up and damn the fallout later.

          And yes, it is appropriate to mention personal appearance when there is a dress code and a person’s appearance pertains to that dress code.

          “And if you work a lot then people who work with you tend to be the people you would best get along with.”

          NO. Work is just like any other place where you see the aspect of a person who is good at their job (or not). Thinking this is an indication that you will “get along” with this person outside of work is fantasy.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        Is there a difference between being inappropriate and harassment — what about “being inappropriate” is just plain gauche? You made a nice equivalence between “harassment” and “inappropriate”. Should “inappropriate” behavior be “subject to criminal or other legal sanction”? Also note that the current definition of harassment as exemplified by the definition cited in the link makes no distinctions about context.

        My example about the workplace was intended to suggest that the training — as far as I knew — targeted us plebes who had little or no ability to coerce anyone about anything. As matters have evolved neither coercion, nor persistence, nor intent to torment are required to be accused of harassment and sanctioned for it.

        “What’s wrong with sticking to business, and having intellectual conversations?” I suppose nothing is wrong with “sticking to business”. Our culture makes a fetish of work so sticking to business fits right in with the plan — make no waves. As we bowl alone and socialize little if all and chiefly via the Internet I can readily understand why young people date little, “hook-up” — as that is currently understood, and live increasingly lonely lives. What’s wrong with that? [By the way — I met my wife and the mother of my children — for many years now my ex-wife — through work. I don’t think I am alone in either circumstance.]

        I’ll bend the topic a little and pose a situation based on things I saw take place at a place where I worked. I worked for a large firm with a color code for badges: “green” for support and secretarial stuff, “yellow” for mid-level staff — primarily professional, and “red” for management with increased pay as you move from “green” to “red”. I saw “green” badge women make use their “charms” on “red” badge men to advance to “yellow” badge status. As far as any of us could tell the arrangement was perfectly agreeable to both parties. There were even a few newly “yellow” badge — “red” badge marriages although I suspect a mutual parting was probably more common. How does that fit into the harassment scheme — other than as means to keep “red” badges honest about mentoring the “green” to “yellow” transition.

        1. Bill

          when women use their “charms” purposely to advance, and it works for them, what can I do about that. But when men start making it the only option for women to use their “charms” to advance, what if a woman does not want to whore her way up sexually? Should she just shut up and leave because that’s the way it’s always been done?

          Why can’t people at work let their fellow workers decide how they want to handle getting personal or not at work without getting their egos and feelings hurt and punishing the unwilling party for rejection? Because this is what normally happens, and that is why it has to be made into a legal issue–it becomes coercion, not looking for love.

  27. Louis Fyne

    The BBC has uncovered details of a secret deal that let hundreds of IS fighters and their families escape from Raqqa, under the gaze of the US and British-led coalition and Kurdish-led forces who control the city.

    A convoy included some of IS’s most notorious members and – despite reassurances – dozens of foreign fighters. Some of those have spread out across Syria, even making it as far as Turkey.

    1. Jim Haygood

      When it becomes serious, you have to lie.‘ — Jean-Claude Juncker

      Think back to the bipartisan claque of Kongress Klowns stomping and hollering for the demise of ISIS at the State of the Union as Obama thundered, “We just need to call them what they are — killers and fanatics who have to be rooted out, hunted down, and destroyed.”

      Theater, all theater. ISIS is “us.” Time for the audience to walk out in disgust.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Anybody remember a few months ago when a similar deal was reached with Jihadist in the west of the Syria? And as the convoy proceeded east, the US aircraft stopped it in its tracks by bombing. They couldn’t blast the convoy as there were too many women and children but they would pick of individual members as they went to toilet breaks. Had the convey stuck in the middle of nowhere for a week or two as I recall.
      This time the US has twice refused a Russian proposal to attack this convoy. The US Air Force is also actively trying to stop Russian Air Force planes going after the convoy from Raqqa. The US says that as they have surrendered they are subject to the provisions of the Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War but I thought that prisoners were usually relieved of their weapons under those provisions. Apparently not here.

  28. montanamaven

    On now at the Congressional hearings,
    John Conyers to Jeff Sessions; “Should the DOJ be used to retaliate against a political opponent? Yes or No?” Sessions didn’t answer “yes” or “no”, nor should he. But he danced around it a bit. I don’t know why he didn’t say, “The DOJ should not be used to “retaliate” against a political opponent. But that does not mean that all presidents and former government officials can break laws without consequence.”

    This morning I forced myself to watch 15 minutes of “Morning Joe” to see what the Democrats memes were today. They all agreed it was a “dangerous precedent” to investigate and prosecute the Clintons because when a Democrat got in then they would investigate and prosecute Trump and his family. So be careful what you wish for. They praised Obama for not going after Bush. “If a President is allowed to go after an opponent, it would make us a Third World country, ” said Mica, Joe and Mike and Willy. So if you are President or Secretary of State or Attorney General, you are immune from any crimes you have actually committed? I can see it would definitely qualify as the stereo typical third world country if those charges were “trumped up”. But isn’t this whole Russia investigation thing looking like their own definition of a third world couontry by going after your political opponent (Trump) with flimsy made up dossiers and misinformation about the influence of $50,000 worth of ads on Facebook?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There are two different questions.

      1. Should the DOJ go after, or investigate, political opponents, at all?

      2. Should the DOJ go after, or investigate, politicians, at all?

      No, to the second question, implies politicians are, well, exceptional.

      And there is a third question.

      3. What does the word independent in ‘independent counsel’ mean? Independent of partisanship, like, say, Mueller?

    2. a different chris

      >So if you are President or Secretary of State or Attorney General, you are immune from any crimes you have actually committed? I can see it would definitely qualify as the stereo typical third world country if those charges were “trumped up”

      And if they were legit and you didn’t go after said SOS/AG, then that’s pretty Third World too. Never trust people that draw hard lines on anything.

      1. RWood


        The problem in resource-rich states is that corruption is not marginal to political power, but central to acquiring it and keeping it.
        Corruption at the top is a form of patronage manipulated by those in charge, to create and reward a network of self-interested loyalists.

        it [is] only those so politically powerful that they did not have to fear legal sanctions who [make] decisions – and such people [are] often the most corrupt of all.
        Robert Fisk

  29. Anonymized

    The article about the Siberian boy briefly mentioned that Ayal likes playing Undertale so I had to look it up and now I’m going to get it off Steam when I get home. Seems fun, an RPG where you don’t have to kill anyone.

    1. Massinissa

      Well, you can choose to not kill anyone, at least. IIRC, theres a normal ending, an ending where you kill every killable person, and an ending where you kill none of the killable persons. Kill even one person or fail to kill one person and you get the normal ending, I’ve heard.

      Anyway, Undertale is something of a phenomenon, with a huge burgeoning fan base, similar to what Five Nights At Freddie’s has now.

  30. Wukchumni

    There’s been a swarm of earthquakes on the San Andreas fault as of late, and the real danger to California isn’t just the cities, but also the lifeline for Southern California-the California Delta.

    If a quake hits near it, a big chunk of their freshwater sources go kerplunk, and the drought continues on, albeit a different one from the previous 5 year plan.

    1. John k

      Sounds like an emergency.
      Farms use 80% of the amount not reserved for environmental purposes, everybody else 20%.
      Farms collectively generate 2% of state GDP.
      If push comes to shove, farms will be denied water.

      1. Wukchumni

        I don’t know how to break this to you, but an awful lot of the farmers water comes through the Delta as well, c’est la eau.

      2. Wukchumni


        “A Dangerous Place: California’s Unsettling Fate” by Marc Reisner, is a fine primer on what could go down if a tumultuous temblor comes calling.

        He was the author of the amazing Cadillac Desert, and this was his final book published before passing away.

  31. flora

    Re: The Kansas Disaster is the Republican Dream.

    Thanks for the link. This is a must-read for anyone still wondering how this works in practice.

    As for this: “In the past decade, more than 90 percent of the laws passed by the Kansas Legislature have come from anonymous authors. “; it’s assumed by most these were ALEC “model legislation” laws that cut-and-paste Kansas specifics into the generic writing. Said laws appeared for vote almost overnight with no legislative input, beyond a few key lege players who also happened to be on the ALEC board. Interesting coincidence.

    I will say that Main Street Republicans, as opposed to corporate, ALEC Republicans, have pushed back against this horror and turned out the ruling ALEC backed coalition in the Kansas statehouse last election. So, no, not all Republicans support this disaster. Plenty of sane Republicans, but they aren’t running the party. (Anymore than sane Dems are running the Dem party.) imo.

  32. flora

    Longer comment in moderation. Ah, skynet.
    Kansas tax experiment was the work of ALEC, imo, more than the work of Main Street GOP voters.

      1. flora

        Thanks for the link.

        Another comment regarding KS foster child numbers going up, as mentioned in article:

        When KS Medicaid was privatized a work requirement was add for the not-disabled. In KS the Medicaid enrollment is already restricted to very poor disabled single adults and/or very poor adults with dependent, aka minor children or a disabled spouse. By very poor, think less than $10k income a year.

        So, very poor adult with minor children, say, now has a work requirement. And who, pray tell, will look after the children while mom or dad is at work? Enter childcare costs. Suddenly, for a single parent on Medicaid the numbers don’t work. They can’t work. Putting children into foster care is one way to hope the kids will be looked after and recieve state CHIPS health benefits, while single parent tries to find work at less than minimum wage most likely.

        I mentions this because the Nat GOP tax plan references Medicaid work requirements. If Nat. Medicaid work requirement is passed get ready to see a huge increase in the numbers of children in foster care. Foster care is a state financial responsibility, so prepare for state budgets becoming even more strained. imo.

  33. Bruce F

    Regarding the new blood pressure targets: About 10 yrs ago, I was prehypertensive and told by my MD to change my diet or go on pills. I struggled with different ways to cook, ultimately deciding that vegetarian Indian food hit the sweet spot of taste/health benefits. My numbers came down and my taste buds adjusted, albeit over several years. Now my BP is “normal”, but I want to get it a bit lower.

    Enter flax seeds and

    Flax seeds have been described as a “miraculous defense against some critical maladies.” I’m a fan of flax, but this title seemed a bit over exuberant; I figured something just got lost in translation. But then, I saw this study, and realized maybe that title was not too far off.

    Rarely do we see a dietary study of this caliber. A prospective, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized trial—you know how hard that is in a nutrition study? For drugs it’s easy, you have two identical looking pills: one’s active, one’s placebo, and until the end of the study neither the researcher nor the patient has any idea which is which, hence, double blind. But people tend to notice what they’re eating. So, how did they sneak a quarter cup of ground flax seeds into half of the people’s diets without them knowing? They created all these various flax- or placebo-containing foods, and even added bran and molasses to match the color and texture; so, it was all a big secret–until six months later, when they broke the code to see who ate which.

    I put 1/4 cup of ground flax seeds in my oatmeal or pancakes every morning. It actually gives them a nice nutty taste, and I’ve found flax also can make up, somewhat, for eggs called for in most pancake recipes.

  34. ef

    “FDA Approves a Digital Pill That Can Track When You Swallowed It” – what a story.
    And it’d take 2 weeks for a kid to seriously hack this “pill”. If I was the hacker playing caretaker, all I’d have to do is take my pilled-up patient out on a camping trip and find out how far away from Otsuka’s server and signal to get a weak or non-existent signal. Then I, as caretaker and with my patient’s password, could interrupt and mess with that signal to under- or overdose my patient and then watch the fireworks.
    Why would I as hacker and underpaid caretaker do it? Because I’m bore sh*tless watching depressed patient’s soap operas after I’ve carefully pilfered said patient’s accounts.
    Oh, and this says nothing of Otsuka’s “updates” that would have to be implemented locally by some sort of medical institution (hospital, doctor’s office, clinic, Nurse Ratchet).

    1. Svejk

      Regarding those tracking pills: when I worked with the mentally ill in a clinical setting some years ago most of them believed their pills were already doing tracking and more. I think the pharma company owes serious money to the psychotic-American community in reparations for stealing their idea.

      1. Klarten

        The smart pill is actually a tiny sensor manufactured into the pharmaceutical. The sensor is effectively a potato battery that is activated by stomach acid and creates a minuscule voltage on the skin as it’s digested. you have to wear a “smart bandaid” on your torso to detect the signal, the pill does not “transmit” in the normal sense of the word. so a faraday vest isn’t necessary, you just don’t put on the bandaid if you don’t want pill data collected.

        A mental health drug is certainly a strange first choice to digitize due to the reasons above.

  35. Anon

    RE: Bill Gates’ Smart City, AZ.

    Any new development will need water. So I visited Google Earth and “flew” to Tonopah, AZ. Sure enough, there is approximately 55,000 acres of currently irrigated agricultural land sitting just west of Tonopah. I assume this new smart city will be water smart (xeriscaped) and a “push” vis a vis current water consumption.

    Now if the homes could be PV powered (solar) and have battery backup via all electric vehicles (Tesla’s?), and the homes have passive heating/cooling, then MAYBE we could call this development “smart”.

  36. Lord Koos

    “Of those newly categorized as having high blood pressure, some 4.2 million also have other risk factors for heart disease. These individuals should start taking medicine to lower their numbers, the researchers said.”

    Prescription drugs can definitely “lower their numbers”, just look at the effectiveness of Oxycontin…

    I know people who have lowered their blood pressure a great deal simply with dietary changes.

  37. Expat2Uruguay

    The final paragraph of the commentary regarding the cost of America show of strength in Asia really got my attention.

    Washington’s military capabilities still dwarf anyone else’s. But it now faces a very real danger that its foes may be able to bleed it to death without ever confronting it in battle.

  38. audrey jr

    Hey, I haven’t had a chance to read the links yet because I thought you should know that Naked Capitalism is not coming up at all on two Yahoo searches I did just a minute ago. WTF? Anyone else had this experience?

    1. Alfred

      I could not replicate it just a minute or so ago. On, I searched (using the box) on naked capitalism (without quotes) and got numerous satisfactory hits, starting with , followed by the Wikipedia article about the blog, then other relevant commentary about it. I searched again without a space between ‘naked’ and ‘capitalism’ and got similar results. Ditto with “naked capitalism” in quotes.

  39. John D.

    Re: The Atlantic article about Clinton. I recall that a lot of us who didn’t even like Clinton were somewhat willing to go along with pooh-poohing the sexual harassment complaints against him back in the day, mainly because of the toxic hatefulness (to use Mark Crispin Miller’s term) of the right wing creeps who were using it as a club to bash him with. When the long, long list of Republicans with their own closeted skeletons at the time refused to account themselves by the same standards they were judging Clinton by, it was almost comical, in that special way you always get with real, undiluted,100% hypocrisy.

    Paula Jones, I thought, didn’t do her credibility any favors by hooking up with the far right machine that had made bashing the Clintons into an industry, even if I could appreciate the fact that she might have primarily done so in order to enact some revenge, which is a motive I can respect. Gloria Steinem’s comment at the time, that Clinton made his proposal and then backed off when Jones told him no, unlike the conduct of such people as Bob Packwood and Clarence Thomas, seemed to me to be consistent and defensible. Now I’m thinking, “Ehh…Not so much.” The Atlantic’s version of the encounter was a little nastier than I’d previously assumed it to be – which was like something out of a Benny Hill sketch – and I was unaware of the detail of Clinton sending a couple of state troopers to “bring” Jones to him on that fateful occasion. I mean: Yikes. Nothing at all ominous or alarming about that, is there? To say nothing of the incredible abuse of power.

    1. Lynne

      Anyone who hadn’t heard about troopers picking up girls for Clinton was not paying attention. Of course, that is par for the course when it comes to sexual harassment and assault.

      For “eal, undiluted,100% hypocrisy” see Albright and her “ I wonder if she realized what she was predicting for Hillary. It certainly seems to have come true for her

      1. kareninca

        “Anyone who hadn’t heard about troopers picking up girls for Clinton was not paying attention.”

        Yeah, no kidding. I didn’t follow the story closely at the time but that was the first thing I noted.

  40. tooearly

    “As even its harshest critics concede, neoliberalism is hard to pin down. In broad terms, it denotes a preference for markets over government, economic incentives over cultural norms, and private entrepreneurship over collective action”

    Lets try that again: “In broad terms, it denotes a preference of markets taking over government, economic incentives undermining cultural norms, and private entrepreneurship making collective action illegal”

  41. flora

    Thanks for the Guardian/Dani Rodrik article.

    “The real trouble is that mainstream economics shades too easily into ideology, constraining the choices that we appear to have and providing cookie-cutter solutions. A proper understanding of the economics that lie behind neoliberalism would allow us to identify – and to reject – ideology when it masquerades as economic science. Most importantly, it would help us to develop the institutional imagination we badly need to redesign capitalism for the 21st century.”


  42. witters

    And this: “There is nothing wrong with markets, private entrepreneurship or incentives – when deployed appropriately. Their creative use lies behind the most significant economic achievements of our time. As we heap scorn on neoliberalism, we risk throwing out some of neoliberalism’s useful ideas.”

    So market, entrepreneur and incentive are “neoliberal ideas”? This itself is neoliberal nonsense. Important read, indeed.

    1. Grebo

      Rodrik is right that Neoclassical economics, Neoliberalism (Hayek) and Neoliberalism (Peters) are not the same. But the first is no less crap than the latter two.

      “economic science”, “neoliberalism’s useful ideas”, “redesign capitalism”. He is basically whingeing that his “science” has been hijacked and debased by usurpers and if only their misguided tweaks could be replaced with his enlightened tweaks then utopia would finally be achieved.

      It’s going to need more than tweaking.

  43. audrey jr

    HELP! There’s a little kitten up inside the undercarriage of a car in my apt. parking lot since last night. Animal Control was here and left a can of food and a note on the car. I took down a bowl of milk since kitty is so little but he won’t come out. I can see him looks about 8 to 10 weeks old. Any suggestions on what to do since car owner seems to be out of town – or some such thing?

    1. kareninca

      Telephone some cat rescue networks for tips. A neighbor of mine’s cat went missing one, and she called the local cat rescue group, and they had a whole bunch of obscure tips which ultimately worked. Cat rescue people are totally obsessive; they will answer their phones; they will have a ton of experience; they will think of people they know in your area. Call any cat rescue group; it doesn’t have to be near you. If one doesn’t pan out the next one will.

      If you’re on the east coast, call some west coast ones or some Hawaii ones so that it is early enough right now. Often the numbers they put out are someone’s home number, so don’t restrict yourself to office hours.

      I would bet that time and hunger will solve the problem, however.

  44. kareninca

    “Re Hundreds of millionaires are banding together to tell Congress: Raise our taxes”

    There are more than ten million “millionaire households” in the U.S.; they represent nearly nine percent of the population.

    Per wikipedia, there are about 75,000 millionaires just in Santa Clara, CA county.

    I am willing to bet that if you surveyed American millionaires, the vast, vast majority would prefer to be taxed less. This is a man bites dog story.

  45. audrey jr

    Sitting here with my new kitty that I rescued from the undercarriage of a car. I fed him right away when I got him upstairs and he was so famished that he ate and cried at the time. It was pitiful. He looks too young to be away from his mom and we don’t know where he came from or how he got here but he was under that car for about 24 hours.
    Went to the petsmart and got him some kitten replacement milk and a bottle – he looks to be around 5-6 weeks and knows to eat but not to drink from a bowl – and he’s finally sleeping a bit.
    Sorry to go on so but it’s 9 pm and still have not eaten myself; not sure if I’m lucid or not.
    I read this Caitlin Johnstone piece over at ZH; yeah, I know, it’s ZH but it’s Caitlin Johnstone!

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