Links 11/26/17

Germany’s wolf population on the rise, new data shows Deutsche Welle

How your scalding hot deep fryer might help cool the weather CNN. Cf. Psalms 63:5. This has been going on for awhile.

Scientists Created a Synthetic Molecule, and It Could End Antibiotic Resistance Futurism

Sugar industry sponsorship of germ-free rodent studies linking sucrose to hyperlipidemia and cancer: An historical analysis of internal documents PLOS Biology. “The Sugar Research Foundation.” You can imagine.

Shift in Treasury strategy sparks yield curve debate FT

Net Neutrality

A World Without Net Neutrality The Nib

Collins, Pingree, King rip plan to end net neutrality Bangor Daily News. Both Maine Senators.

Why the Courts Will Have to Save Net Neutrality Tim Wu, NYT


The inside story of how David Cameron drove Britain to Brexit Prospect (Richard Smith: “Brexit backstory, by an insider.”)

Brexit divorce bill to be kept secret The Times. What could go wrong?

Europe’s banks shed UK-related assets FT

Unelected Remainer peers are the REAL THREAT to the Brexit process Sunday Express

UK-EU regulation after Brexit: options for equivalence Institute for Government

“Eine solche Dürre habe ich noch nie erlebt” Telepolis (guurst). From the Google translation: “It does not want to rain in Spain and Portugal. Only the extreme northwest can breathe a little, as an Atlantic front brings some rain. However, this does not change the fact that the situation is so worrying in many parts of both countries that water rationing is already being considered, especially in Portugal.”


Trump Administration Plays Media Like Fiddle on Iran/HBO Hacking Story FAIR (UserFriendly).

Syria war, Sochi peace Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

With Saudi Blockade Threatening Famine in Yemen, U.S. Points Finger at Iran Foreign Policy

Trump Is Staying in Syria, Where America’s Enemies Hold All the Cards Bloomberg

People for sale CNN


How Long Can India’s Farmers Subsidise the Nation? The Wire

US, Japan, India, Australia … is Quad the first step to an Asian Nato? South China Morning Post


For China, a fine line between ‘Great Leader Xi’ and ‘Xi, the great leader’ South China Morning Post

Chinese private jet sales slump nears end Nikkei Asian Review

Sparrow Schools: The Empty Shells of China’s Countryside Sixth Tone

New Cold War

A Letter to an Anonymous Friend About the Current State of the “Russiagate” Scandal Nina Illingworth. Still germane.

Why Putin’s Foes Deplore U.S. Fixation on Election Meddling NYT

* * *
The Unraveling of the Balkans Peace Agreements CFR

From Street Protests to Kingmaker, Chile’s New Left Comes of Age Bloomberg

Trump Transition

Clash looms over who heads US consumer finance watchdog FT

Re: Designating an Acting Director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (PDF) US DOJ Office of Legal Counsel

English or Mulvaney at the CFPB? Time for quo warranto! WaPo

* * *
Diplomats Sound the Alarm as They Are Pushed Out in Droves NYT

Inside Trump’s Cruel Campaign Against the U.S.D.A.’s Scientists Vanity Fair

The case for reading Trump The Week. I apply this principle to everything. Never watch. Always read the transcript. Saves time, too!

Tax “Reform”

GOP tax bill draws fire from AARP, universities The Hill

Kansas Republicans claim tax bill will be good for the middle class. It won’t be Kansas City-Star. From a “a Bob Dole Republican.”

As Global Governments Raise Taxes, U.S. Revenues Are Already Falling WSJ

Sex in Politics… Not!

Sebelius: The Clinton White House doubled down on ‘abusive behavior’ and it’s fair to criticize Hillary Clinton CNN. Another Democrat urges Bill Clinton to take his place under the bus…

What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men? Paris Review

Our Famously Free Press

A Voice of Hate in America’s Heartland NYT. Nate Silver: “What the hell is this, @nytimes? This article does more to normalize neo-Nazism than anything I’ve read in a long time.” When you’ve lost Nate Silver…

Who Is Mike Cernovich? NPR

How Unicorn Riot covers the alt-right without giving them a platform CJR

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico: Ruined Infrastructure and a Refugee Crisis Counterpunch

Hurricane Alley

Tens of thousands displaced by Harvey still yearn for home Houston Chronicle

Post-Harvey Houston faces a dilemma: how to rebuild with integrity Guardian

Health Care

The biggest health issue we aren’t debating Axios. “More than four in in 10 households with private coverage and incomes between 150% and 400% of the federal poverty line do not have enough liquid assets to cover a deductible of $1,500 for single people and $3,000 for families.” And that’s not even a high-deductible plan!

BIg Brother Is Watching You Watch

Oxford and Cambridge are said to be illegally spying on students for money Quartz


How culinary propaganda from a women’s magazine made Thanksgiving a thing The Takeout

Black Friday retail workers are treated like yo-yos. They need scheduling protections LA Times

Black Friday blues: Philly retail workers speak out against inconsistent hours Philadelphia Weekly

Amazon Workers in Germany and Italy Are on Strike The Stranger

Class Warfare

Longevity is less about diet, more about social circumstances Treehugger

‘Star Wars’ Video Game Microtransactions Ignite Controversy Variety. A reader writes: “This is an issue that is, if you forgive the pun, picking up steam in the gaming world and there is a revolt brewing against this model of exploitation. Countries like Australia, UK, France and Belgium (also Hawaii) are looking into it as it seems like a form of gambling. It is amounting to pay to win according to some players.” Sounds like good training for the real world, to me. What’s the issue here?

Want better homecare? Stop attacking homecare workers PennLive

Show us the money! Why are novelists reluctant to write about hard cash? Guardian (J-LS).

Making the Opioid Epidemic Visible The New Republic (Re Silc).

The future of America’s suburbs looks infinite The Orange County Register (Re Silc). The photo that accompanies the article is of Santa Clarita. In the high desert. Re Silc: “The first time i was in la was 1959. Last week i was there. This cannot be sustainable.”

Perfectly normal Nature

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Wukchumni

    There were 8 of us kayaking the Black Canyon stretch of the Colorado River this past week, on the placid stretch starting just below Hoover Dam, where the first 3 miles of our 25 mile voyage are very thermal and hot creeks & hot springs abound in narrow slot canyons. Sometimes you almost have to pinch yourself to remember that the gaudy Las Vegas strip is only 25 air miles away…

    One of the women on our trip is a compulsive recycler, she’s the type that will chastise us if a plastic bottle was in the trash bag, horror of horrors!

    Little does she know that it’s almost over for recycling as we knew it, as China doesn’t want to play that game anymore, and seeing as they were the end user, the only alternative would be for our cities to take the lead instead and spend a tremendous amount of money in order to turn it into something useful, and based on the financial condition of municipalities, that ain’t gonna happen.

    So what becomes of people that thought they were saving the planet, when the truth is revealed that recycling only really worked when you had empty container ships going back to the middle kingdom after disgorging their loads of consumer goods?

    Since the 1990s, the world has shipped its waste paper, discarded plastic and unwanted metals to China, where they are destined to be used as raw materials to help power the country’s export-driven manufacturing boom. In 2016, China imported about $18 billion worth of what the government calls solid waste.

    But China doesn’t want to be the rest of the world’s trash can. Over the summer, regulators in Beijing started an unusually intense crackdown on what they called “foreign garbage,” citing health and environmental concerns.

    In July, China raised the stakes by telling the World Trade Organization that it would ban 24 kinds of imported waste, including some types of paper and plastics, by the end of the year. Chinese regulators also began restricting wastepaper imports.

    In the United States, the new rules mean more garbage could stay at home. While that could be good news for some recyclers, it could also mean more waste in the country’s landfills, according to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, a lobbying group based in Washington.

    Recyclers might also have to upgrade their facilities to handle the waste, leading to higher costs for American municipalities and taxpayers, said Adam Minter, a recycling expert and author of “Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade.”

    “Without China, there will be less recycling in the United States, and it will cost more,” Mr. Minter said.

    1. Quanka

      I understand your point — but I think if we had more “compulsive recyclers” as you call them, we’d have quite a lot less waste in the world. Someone who compulsively recycles is at least aware of the volume of trash the typical western adult produces during an average day – especially here in the United States where its cheaper to throw things way than to recycle. If we are going to save this little home of ours, then all first world persons need to change the way they live to produce less waste.

      If China won’t take our garbage and recycling then maybe there is an opportunity to show or teach people a new way here at home?

      1. CanCyn

        The first of the 3 Rs is REDUCE. If we all paid more attention to that one, we’d be much better off. The order in which the words in the tag line appear are important and intended to give us direction: Reduce, Re-use, Re-cycle.
        I am aware that not everyone can trust their water supply and may have to make use of bottled water (there’s a topic for another day) but the rest of us should not be drinking water from plastic bottles, ever.

        1. Wukchumni

          I was telling younger adults on our trip about my first money making venture, redeeming soda pop bottles for either 3 or 5 cents per-depending on the size, and they would be used over and over again, with the proviso that no plastic bottles existed @ the time. It was a pain in the arse for the supermarkets i’d imagine-as that’s where you redeemed them mostly, and it wasn’t uncommon for that 12 oz bottle of Coca Cola to have been reused dozens of times.

            1. Jason

              Jobs are a cost, not a goal.

              Think of all the hours of human endeavor spent on recycling glass bottles that could have been spent actively making the world better.

              Our goal should be a decent, sustainable standard of living, in a civilization we can be proud to leave to our descendants. (You can add on more flourishes if you want.)

              1. ambrit

                “Actively making the world better” requires resources, including fit and aware labour. Starving people, the result of no work in the present iteration of human society, make lousy workers, at anything. My idea, at least, supplies two positive outcomes: a cleaner environment and non-starving people.
                We are racing to the bottom right now. Simple survival is of paramount importance.

          1. JCC

            When I was a kid growing up in Buffalo (Kenmore) about once a week we would take a wagon around the neighborhood and collect bottles and newspapers. I don’t remember the newspaper price at the scrapyard, but I do remember the bottle price, $0.02.

            A Clark Bar back then was a nickel, so it was a very lucrative business for those of us too young to be paper boys. And the neighborhood (the poor end of “middle class”) was as clean as a whistle.

            Now I live in the Mojave Desert, and at the end of every weekly windstorm I walk around my yard and fill a 13 gal kitchen garbage bag, or two, with trash that ends up in the local landfill. (By the way, compared to my last living area in Upstate NY, I’m surprised at the level of human garbage floating around this desert).

            At least I won’t have to pick up any plastic water bottles left behind by this woman :-)

        2. Octopii

          There’s another R: Refuse (single use plastic). It’s not that difficult, and many of us probably do it to some extent just by bringing our own bags to the grocery. In daily life we can choose restaurants that don’t serve on styrofoam, buy products in non-plastic packaging, decline a shopping bag, use our own non-plastic water bottle, etc.

          There’s an actionable plastic-free resource for commercial businesses like restaurants, schools, towns, and events at Plastic Pollution Look for plastic-free guides.

          1. clinical wasteman

            If “we” can “choose restaurants” at all, let alone shop around for one with a no-styrofoam menu, then “We” is a statistically insignificant blip in world population. Same goes for “choosing” unpackaged products: maybe with a guaranteed income, a lot of free time, and the will to squander that time on comparative shopping. “Consumers” (i.e. workers) don’t “produce” trash: it’s passed on to us — no choice about it — to deal with even when buying basic survival commodities.
            Complete agreement about the catastrophic ecological consequences, but no problem on this scale has ever been or ever will be solved at the level of virtuous personal decisions, whether coerced, nudged or voluntary. Those decisions may be admirable insasmuch as they reflect an awareness of the problem, but their function is at best to soothe the personal conscience, or else to display immaculate conscientiousness. The innocnent-sounding example of the non-plastic water bottle is telling: if the context is one in which plastic bottles go on being produced and discarded, to whom does it make a difference whether the re-used one is plastic or a FairTrade ceramic urn? As long as the bottle stays out of the trash, the difference only matters to the re-user’s self-esteem.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              There is a good reason to make a reasonable display of reasonable levels of personal conservation-lifestyling virtue. That reason being . . . that if the conservation-lifestyler speaks to others of the need for social and political measures to lower the trash-production load to begin with, some of those others will demand to know if the supporter of trash-suppression is walking the talk. If he or she is, then he or she will gain a respectful hearing from others on the subject of society-wide conservation and trash prevention, imposed and enforced.

    2. Wombat

      Is it possible that recycling plastic contributes to fossil fuel consumption? Theoretically recycling paper or aluminum cans (provided a processor like China) reduces logging or mining… but… if humanity is going race to use up all the fossils anyway or die trying (e.g . pumping and processing low output tar sands from Alberta), is the plastic recycler just theoretically freeing up more would be future plastic bottles to be emmitted in the atmosphere? This may be overly simplistic, but perhaps we bury them in a landfill to divert more fossils to plastics. Presumably, the soundest approach is to not use disposable containers at all.

      1. Wombat

        Oops first sentence…contributes to fossil fuel *emissions*? And of course plastic waste doesnt all end up in landfills… a good amount finds its way to the oceans. But if faced with recycling or tossing a plastic bottle that I found, I dont know if recycling it is necessarily “better”.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        I can’t find any at the moment, but I’ve seen a number of lifecycle analyses, and in most cases I’ve seen recycling is far preferable, even accounting for the energy in long distance transport. Plastic manufacture is very energy intensive, so a recycling process would have to be very inefficient to be worse. It may well be the case that with other products it doesn’t really do much for the environment (low grade paper, for example).

        1. ambrit

          I remember reading that recycling aluminum takes one tenth the energy required to smelt it from ore. That’s a lot of energy since aluminum seems to still be everywhere I look.
          The ‘efficiency’ of recycling plans looks to be presently measured solely in financial terms. Make recycling a social based project, rather than a financial based one and you open the debate up to many more options. Here’s an example of where the financialization of ‘life’ is having perceptible and negative consequences.

        1. Yves Smith

          My understanding is that clear or white plastic can be recycled, forget about the rest. I get particularly upset to see supposedly environmentally-oriented food or cleaning products producers use colored plastic.

    3. John

      My locality, some 70 miles west of the imperial capital has stopped recycling glass. Bottles straight to landfill because the local repubs are unwilling to pay $70k tipping fee. Reactionaries quite willing to shit in campground.

      1. Chris

        Thank you Wukchumni and others. I still recycle stuff and use the right bins, but I’m a bit cynical about whether I make any sort of a difference. Recently, I learned that most of the beer producers here have been importing bottles from asia as they are cheaper (even with transport) than making them here onshore. So much of our food container glass goes to landfill as it has no commercial value.

        As for tip fees – my council charges a hefty per kg price for asbestos – and there are heaps of older houses in my town that have it. However, as they don’t take this particular hazardous waste for free, many people will just dump it illegally or slip it into the general waste. Seems kind of counter productive.

        With glass, there is some hope, however, as some companies are experimenting turning glass back into sand. There’s a ww shortage of sand for concrete, iirc

        1. Lord Koos

          Regarding the asbestos, how foolish. It’s a no-brainer to see that recycling hazardous materials should be made as easy and inexpensive as possible to the end user.

    4. Jef

      I have written about this before.

      I was involved in industrial design (ID) in the early 80’s and 90’s. For those who are not aware ID was and is about 90% plastics, both products and especially packaging.

      Our industry started to take a big hit due to the ecology/anti-pollution drive. Any here remember the native american gazing out at the polluted roadside with a tear running down his cheek. Plastics formers, shapers, extruders, molders, injectors were closing left and right, ID firms were also.

      Enter recycling and this trend reversed dramatically. We all had all the work we could handle. Plastics mfgs were opening up in every town everywhere. We have now produced over a ton of plastic for every man, woman, and child on the planet and only less than 10% of that has been recycled.

      From first hand experience I have seen how recycling is the problem not the solution. That and crapification which excellerates the waste stream.

      By the way NOBODY recycles! We put our trash in separate cans then put them out to be taken away even knowing that only a small fraction will ever be recycled. This serves its purpose which is to make sure we do not restrict our consumption. Also recycling still takes a huge amount of energy, and even more water and getting high quality material for quality mfg is very expensive adding significantly to the cost of finished products.

      1. Quentin

        Reusing plastic water bottles in the Netherlands and Belgium (elsewhere?). The Spa brand of mineral water takes its bottles back after use to be reused. The customer pays 0.25 euro cents deposit on purchase which is returned by an automatic vending machine when the bottle is deposited in it. That works. Beer bottles have a 0.10 euro cents deposit. Same process. What’s so difficult about getting your head around this simple, time-proven solution. I have no idea how much energy, material, etc. this might conserves. Whatever, it is better than throwing the glass and plastic bottles away. Curiously, the Spa deposit is limited to the liter and liter-and-a-half bottles. The small ones you see every idiot around the world tensely clutching have no deposit, so they’re discarded. In the US glass bottles and jars had deposits, I remember.

  2. fresno dan

    The case for reading Trump The Week. I apply this principle to everything. Never watch. Always read the transcript. Saves time, too!

    So sometime in 2016, trying to create some mental distance from Trump for the sake of my own sanity, I stopped watching and listening to him almost entirely.
    Instead, I read him.

    Consider, for example, what may be Trump’s single most famous sentence, a 285-word run-on monstrosity:

    Look, having nuclear — my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT; good genes, very good genes, okay, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart — you know, if you’re a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, okay, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I’m one of the smartest people anywhere in the world — it’s true! —……
    and it is fellas because, you know, they don’t, they haven’t figured that the women are smarter right now than the men, so, you know, it’s gonna take them about another 150 years — but the Persians are great negotiators, the Iranians are great negotiators, so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us.

    I don’t think Trump slings any more BS than most other politicians. I suspect it is done simply to needle and with an understanding that negative campaigning is more effective.
    How many people remember “CARNAGE”? In the inauguration address? Now of course, everything is rosy…
    and it will be ever more rosy is only we have tax cuts. Fact wise, how is Trump all that different than Bush? (cough, cough, Saudi Arabia, cough, cough lungs out)

    1. Carolinian

      The diff between Trump and Dubya: Trump was never a member of Skull and Bones–doesn’t know the secret handshake.

      Also Bush gratuitously started a war that may have killed a million people, later was hugged by Michelle. So far Trump’s mayhem is mostly grandfathered in.

      1. JCC

        Too true.

        Just as the FAIR article points out that the Trump Administration is playing MSM like a fiddle, the NeoCons are playing Trump like a fiddle, and he is not smart enough to figure it out, despite reminding the public on a daily basis about his sky-rocket IQ and his brilliant education.

  3. el_tel

    re: several links (opioid issue / social circumstances / inability to pay deductibles

    A big issue (I referred to in yesterday’s links) is the un/under-employment of existing resources in the US (and incidentally other countries too, but that it’s just most visible/serious in the USA). I’m not qualified to comment on (1) Whether single payer will “make it” to true debate at a federal govt decision making level; (2) If so, whether “artificial political monetary constraints will come into play” or whether “real resources like under MMT” would be used. So please bear in mind that those points are perfectly open to debate and not ones I’m qualified to comment on. So if I’m proposing a la-la land I’ll accept that! :-)

    *BUT* the USA has huge un/under-employed resources under some sort of single payer scheme to get people to act as, if not “official” carers, then at least unofficial ones who help with food-distribution, providing human contact etc, which would provide them with “a sense of value to their lives” as well as helping others. I think this would help a lot (on both “sides”). But I’m probably being way too optimistic as to whether any such changes would happen. Too many vested interests working against it. But it’s a crying shame that the US is better placed than most (all?) other countries with single payer to ensure that un/underemployed people can be given something “meaningful” in their lives again (reduce opioid use) which also solves problems in groups like the elderly (reduce all sorts of medicine), who crave social contact, and not just “an ability to see the doc for problems that medicine is not well-placed to deal with” but which could be solved by better socio-economic circumstances.

    1. Wukchumni

      Do other countries have similar opioid issues as we do in the USA?

      New Zealand used to be a drinking country, and the 420 laws there are pretty draconian compared to here, and harder drugs were few and far between, and then along came P, which is what they call meth there.

      So, you go from having little in the way of drug problems, to a biggie, all in one fell swoop.
      A 32-year-old woman hooked on P for several years warns of a “meth movement” rife in the region, revealing a New Zealand, “that most people wouldn’t even imagine existed.”

      1. el_tel

        The short answer is “I’m not sure” (unfortunately). Much of my experience down under was gleaned from my time in Sydney (where pregabin was treated like sweeties among certain doctors but not others) – due to different rules on prescription I don’t know if NZ has had it become a “street drug” to the extent it has become in the UK. Different drug regimes can alter the pattern of what is used by people on the street. I don’t even know if Australia has looked at it…. but that might be because pregabin is (as of early 2015 anyway) still not licensed for anxiety. Thus its potential as a street drug might be less. (My therapist had to prescribe it off label.)

      2. Chris

        Thank you, Wuchumni. In our flyover states, meth amphetamine or ice, is smoked and injected. Highly addictive, it has pushed out weed and heroin.

        Most of us still like a xxxx or a vb though…

        Opioids? – our doctors won’t even given our valium or serapax

        1. Wukchumni

          I remember buying a box of XXXX stubbies @ a drive-thru liquor store in Queensland way back when in the 80’s…

          Sorry to hear meth is quite a problem in Aussie, what an awful scourge~

      3. Lord Koos

        From what I have read, the Sackler family (manufacturers and marketers of Oxycontin) plan to follow the strategy pioneered by the Tobacco industry — if US regulations become too onerous, market the drug in other countries.

    2. human

      There’s that S word again … sigh … Remember, Citizen, that socialism is dangerous (except if it benefits my bosses.)

  4. allan

    Senate tax bill to retail investors: drop dead (but first pay your capital gains taxes)

    … Few things are more fundamental in a free market economy than for people to have the ability to dispose of their investments when and how they wish. Yet the Senate bill would end that basic financial freedom for individual owners of securities, mutual fund shares and highly popular exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

    That’s plain wrong, almost un-American, and should be dropped from tax reform. To raise $2.4 billion in revenue over 10 years, the Senate bill would bar individuals from specifying the securities they sell. Instead, investors would be forced to sell their stocks, mutual funds and ETFs in which they hold multiple positions in the order in which they bought them. Oddly, this proposed “first in, first out” (FIFO) rule wouldn’t apply to managers of mutual funds, ETFs and other “regulated investment companies.”

    These professionals could continue to specify exactly what they sell, while individual investors could not. That’s unfair. Lawmakers are desperate to raise extra revenue to finance lower tax rates, a major aim of reform. Senate staffers seem to be betting that such an arcane rule as this won’t create an outcry. …

  5. Christopher Dale Rogers


    Many thanks for highlighting the Lecture by Sir Ivan Rogers:

    This is an important contribution to detailing how the UK in in 2016 managed to Exit the EU. However, and in focusing on Cameron, I think Sir Ivan has been far too lenient on Tony Blair & Gordon Brown as far as the Lisbon Treaty was concerned, which as Sir Ivan has pointed out, would not have been endorsed by the UK public had the Referendum New Labour had promised been undertaken prior to the onset of the GFC and consequent Euro Sovereign Debt Crisis.

    1. John A

      Re Unravelling of the Balkans
      Love this, in an article that is hot on including ‘Russian meddling’ in pretty much every paragraph, but this one topped the lot:
      ‘In addition to resolving country-specific issues, which provide openings for Russian meddling, enhanced U.S. diplomacy could focus on ensuring that the Balkans, much of which depends on Russian natural gas imports, has alternative sources: U.S. liquefied natural gas, Azerbaijani gas, or eventually eastern Mediterranean gas from Cyprus or Israel.”
      Firstly anything Russia does is ‘meddling’, anything the US does is ‘enhanced diplomacy’.
      Secondly, it’s an opportunity to find a new market for many times more expensive US liquified gas.

      1. David

        Yes, this article looked to me as though it was produced by an intern who wasn’t even born when the crisis started. It has factual errors and very dubious judgements. Russian meddling indeed! The Russians actually involved themselves rather little in the Balkans, though they did effectively save NATO’s face in 1999 by forcing Milosevic to climb down over Kosovo. If only the West had been as restrained.

    2. Anonymous2

      I think Sir Ivan was asked to speak about Cameron. Others were asked to speak about Blair and Brown, so Sir Ivan’s terms of reference were set for him?

      1. Christopher Dale Rogers


        Which is quite funny, as there is plenty of reference to the Blair/Brown years, particularly with regards immigration & the delight of Mervyn King, Governor of the BoE, that an influx of immigrants to fill the skills shortage, bottlenecks in the labour market & keep a lid on salary inflation – salary inflation when many jobs were minimum wage! Its staggering how much our neoliberal masters in the UK were unable to work out why membership of the EU was none too popular, particularly for those living outside of London – just see how many new homes were built under Labour after 2003 and the Tories after 2010, look at house price inflation & rental inflation that pauperised many & yet, people are supposed to have no anger at their own governments, and those of our partners in the EU – Steve Keen makes quite a good case on this, that the UK acted as pressure relief valve for the massive failure of the Euro. Still, legitimate concerns about the EU, indeed our own governments in the UK, either makes you a racist or trotskyist, depending on who’s throwing the barbs.

    3. Bugs Bunny

      Really fantastic inside view of Cameron’s state of mind. While I disagree with his goals (though not necessarily the referendum result), he did what his party required of him and did it very well. Compared to the bungling shambles running the Tories now, he comes across as a statesman.

      There is a lot of blame to put on New Labour for allowing the Eastern migrants in 7 years early. Fools.

  6. The Rev Kev

    US, Japan, India, Australia … is Quad the first step to an Asian Nato?

    Say its not so! This is the last thing that this region needs – an arms race. Obama desperately tried to push the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement which was recognized by many as the ‘everybody-but-China-trade-agreement’ with the US, as Obama put it, writing all the rules. That would have tipped off a form of economic warfare in the region but this Quad agreement looks like the military version of the TTP – an ‘everybody-but-China-military-agreement’ with the US providing the military framework.
    All the countries involved would have to seriously upgrade their militaries to meet ‘Quad/Nato’ standards. Those not a part of the Quad would also subsequently have to upgrade their militaries in defense. Apart from having Quad bases sprouting up all over the region, it could potentially mean that Australian, Japanese & Indian troops could find themselves despatched on all sorts of weird and wonderful military missions in the same way Nato (hint: the first two letters stand for North Atlantic) finds itself operating on the other side of the planet in Afghanistan. I am not going to even go into the issue of extraterritoriality for troops from member nations in other members countries. I’m sure too that the Indians would love having Japanese troops stationed in their country.
    The trouble is that whatever the Quad decides to do, China gets a vote too in how they respond. India is only a reluctant partner here ( in any case as it sounds like they have little trust going and much of their gear is Russian standardized . Maybe, just maybe, it might be wiser to invite China in and enmesh it into playing a part in maintaining a peaceful security in the region. This whole Quad thing strikes me as being simply zero-sum thinking.

    Nice picture of those Siberian wolves, by the way. They look different from their American cousins.

  7. cocomaan

    If anyone hasn’t seen Friedman’s fawning over the new Saudi prince, check this out. Yves and all probably already posted it but I only recently saw it. The NYT comment picks vs the reader comment picks are revealing about their stance.

    I was talking to an Egyptian friend of mine recently and he was extremely critical of the new princeling, saying that the guy was young, rash, impulsive, and seemed ready to start up new conflicts in the Middle East.

    Friedman really is the worst.

      1. John Wright

        I remember the Charlie Rose-Friedman “suck on this” interview as it captured Friedman at his self-assured worst and Rose at his fawning, don’t ask any embarrassing followup questions, worst.

        Here is an overview:

        Here is a snippet from the transcript, which is available at

        Friedman: “We could have hit Saudi Arabia. It was part ever that bubble. Could have hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could. That’s the real truth.”

        Charlie Rose: “And the message was?”

        This event was in 2003 and both Friedman and Rose continued to draw a paycheck for years,

        It looks like Rose is now removed from the political scene, but not due to longtime journalistic softball question malpractice.

        I fear the world is stuck with Friedman as long as he parrots what the Times wants.

  8. timotheus

    Re Chile’s Frente Amplio (Broad Front): Chile has the odd historical distinction of frequently experiencing political shifts before they reach us further north. Neoliberalism, after all, got its big chance under Pinochet to the approval of his imitators, Thatcher and Reagan. Chilean politics reflects the GOP-Dem binary but through coalitions that morph and merge over time with parties rising and falling in importance while the two-round presidential system allows for everyone to compete in round 1 without the usual protest-vote-will-elect-bad-guy blackmail.

    The latest development, in which the left coalition (FA) surprised everyone by taking 20% (instead of the predicted 8%), now creates a situation that could look very much like our own in 2020: the bland centrist candidate is the Hillary character whose backers DEMAND that all FA voters fall into line to defeat the billionaire right-winger. Some will do so while others insist that the status quo centrist actually offer them something (health care and pensions, both Pinochet legacy issues, are the big wedges). Much heated debate, involving very little listening, ensues. We could easily see a similar scenario here in the U.S. in four years when the corporate Dems throw up Biden or some other creep and wag their finger at anyone who fails to show the proper enthusiasm.

  9. fresno dan

    A few weekends ago, at a seersucker-in-November southern horse-racing event I attended with some lovely and friendly people who will nevertheless be the first ones taken out when the revolution comes, a family friend, an older white man, asked me what I, the one sportswriter he knew, thought of the kneeling NFL players.
    He snorted and said he was done with the NFL until “they stand their ass up.” We then drank some bourbon and found something else to talk about……Later on, I spoke with another family friend, one with long hair and a big bushy beard and an anarchic spirit (he whispered “Fuck all these Trump people” to me with a winking smile)……“I don’t know how you can watch that,” he said. “Just jingoistic military bullshit.” He asked me if I would let my sons play, or if I worried it would “smash their brains.” We then drank some more bourbon and found something else to talk about.
    There was a time, not long ago, when the NFL was the most unifying public institution we had……A lot of this is attributable, like so much else, to the president. Dozens of players were protesting the first two weeks of the season, but no one seemed to care … until Trump’s weekend tweetstorm from his golf club back in September.
    An addendum to my 7:34am posting and the thesis that Trump’s appeal is negativity – there is a lot that is f*cked up, and in modern consumer/advertising culture, the relentless “positivity” elicits a deep rebellion – paradoxically, it also elicits higher ratings for the “news” – sooooo….win/win – its all good.
    Of course, a lot of this is overdone – I don’t doubt that the super bowl will be watched by over 100 million Americans and millions of Papa John’s pizzas will be scarfed down and bazillions of gallons of beer guzzled…

    1. Arizona Slim

      I spent a good part of yesterday at a football watching party. Michigan vs. OSU, and this Wolverine must admit that Ohio State had better players and coaches.

      Anyhoo, I was amazed at Fox Sports. Mostly because of all the commercials. Yeesh. And because of how Fox handled the start of the game. Not a single second devoted to the National Anthem.

      Slim missed a chance to annoy the other Michigan alumni by taking a knee.

    2. JerryDenim

      Trump saw an opportunity to do what he does best, play the identity politic pan flute for personal gain, so of course he couldn’t resist. He has nothing else to offer the white, authoritarian, nationalist football fans that voted for him besides teeing up another despised demographic group as a quasi-legitimate hate piñata. This time the group in question would be the young, wealthy, millionaires of color employed by the NFL. If the President of the United States can impugn the character or patriotism of a certain kind of person, then Trump’s fans assume they can’t be really be labeled a racist for piling on. Trump gives the gift of legitimizing racism to his followers, and for that, they love him.

      As far as the whole kneeling during the anthem controversy/fly in the “jingoistic military bullshit” punch bowl situation, I 100% blame the NFL and the NFL alone. The NFL, not Kapernick, politicized the anthem when they elected to take money from the US military in exchange for turning the national anthem into a gigantic paid military recruiting advertisment. Knowing what we know about the connection between the military, our 16 year war on terror, and the creeping hyper-violent militarism of our Police, and the pipeline of PTSD “search and destroy’ vets to cops job program I thought Kapernick’s BLM inspired protest was absolutely pitch perfect. Maybe even more perfect than he himself fully realized. I always wished the BLM movement could have been a bit more articulate concerning the link between US foreign policy abroad and police violence at home.

      As long as our country is helping Saudi Arabia kill/starve hundreds of thousands of innocents in Yemen while people like Dave Grossman get paid to preach “Killology” to our police at home, I believe people like your Colonel Sanders friend deserve a righteous earful anytime they decide to spout off about what NFL players should be doing with their asses’ during the anthem. Anybody who can manage to get worked up over the body position of a grown man dressed up in bright sparkly tights during the anthem but not give the slightest thought to all of the innocent people we drone, bomb and killl around the the globe on a weekly basis has some seriously selective myopia and some very fucked up priorities. As usual, Trump is more a symptom than the cause of our current maladies.

  10. Wukchumni

    The future of America’s suburbs looks infinite The Orange County Register

    We were in Phoenix for Thanksgiving, and it must be the poster child for suburbs run amok, and seems to exist in order to offer it’s citizens the chance to shop for stuff, as the stores just repeat themselves one after another, in an infinite skein in a city that would hardly exist w/o air conditioning a good part of the year. In the summer months, it’s almost tantamount to being in Duluth in the middle of winter, albeit flip-flopped seasonally.

    I grew up in L.A., and all I can see that’s been accomplished by the sprawl of suburbs, is a lessening lesson in terms of lifestyle. The freeways are jammed almost all the time, kids go to schools that could double as prisons in a pinch, and oftentimes neighbors hardly know one another. And all that for the privilege of paying $600k for a domicile built in 1968 that’s really tired.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Writers like James Howard Kunstler make the point that all this suburban sprawl is only possible when petrol, errr, gas prices are relatively low which it has been for decades – apart from that blip in 1973 during the oil embargo. There is a Forbes article at which talks about additional factors but I was wondering something.
      Has anybody actually calculated at what price gas would have to reach in order to make suburbs not viable as a way of life? Just to use a gross example, it is still viable now but would not be at $100 a gallon so there has to be a point between these two points where viability ceases and these suburbs end up stranded high and dry outside cities like so many beached whales.

      1. cocomaan

        It’s really not that high. People in the suburbs are overleveraged and have very little disposable income. If gas prices hit 2x their current prices, the suburbs of Philly, where I am, would dry up.

        They’re already going to face problems with boomers trying to sell their homes to millenials at marked up prices in the next decade.

        1. Marco

          I remember shelling out $4.25 a gallon in the Midwest back in 2007/08. Correlation is not causation but didn’t something BAD happen then? How many sub-prime mortgage holders stretched to the breaking point with the added cost of filling the tank?

        2. JerryDenim

          What makes you think they’re going to sell them? Their kids are most likely broke millennials too. The houses will either be left to the kids or confiscated by the bill collector for final years medical debts.

      2. Enquiring Mind

        Here are some of the highlights from the author’s 2009 vantage point:

        In his new book “$20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better,” Steiner posits that expensive oil, while traumatic as it becomes reality, will ultimately make America a cleaner and healthier nation.

        Each chapter forecasts our lives at a different price per gallon.

        At $6, public transportation becomes “the belle of the ball,” with subways overflowing and new train routes proliferating. Driving deaths and obesity both plummet. Say goodbye to the little yellow school bus — unaffordable.

        At $8, “the skies will empty” as the airline industry contracts and ticket prices spiral upward. Vegas goes back to being just a desert.

        When gasoline hits $10 — a price Steiner believes is a decade away — electric cars go mainstream. “Gasoline-slurping big boy toys,” such as jet skis and snowmobiles, are out.

        At $12, families abandon the suburbs and cluster in cities, sparking a renewal of commerce and culture from Atlanta to Cleveland.

        A price of $14 per gallon of gas marks the death of Wal-Mart as global shipping costs become prohibitive. Manufacturing firms rediscover small-town America.

        Onetime suburbs morph into farms for local markets when gasoline reaches $16, as the costs of transporting fresh food skyrocket. Eat your toro sushi while you can.

        Finally, when gas prices top out at $18 or $20, high-speed rail takes over nationwide and nuclear power becomes “the clear choice” for most of our energy.

        The ground Steiner covers is not entirely original, of course, and the gaps in the tale (What happens to the Middle East? How do rich and poor deal with rising gas prices differently?) are far from trivial. But as thought experiments go, Steiner offers an interesting, counterintuitive case.

        1. Wukchumni

          Currently, gas is $6-7 a gallon in Europe, which parallels nicely with the $6 a gallon figure in the author’s estimation of public transportation being the belle of the ball-as it most certainly is in the old country currently.

        2. Katniss Everdeen

          At $12, families abandon the suburbs and cluster in cities, sparking a renewal of commerce and culture from Atlanta to Cleveland.

          How do you “abandon” a heavily mortgaged, over-improved mcmansion–dismantle them and sell them for parts? I wonder what a used granite countertop will go for per square foot.

          1. human

            Just consider its food preparation utility, or its many decorative and functional uses about a yard or garden; $1 to 2 easily …
            [/s but true]

          2. Oregoncharles

            $5 (the granite counter top) at the local Restore (building supplies thrift store).

            Of course, that’s before the market gets flooded.

        3. Wyoming

          I think that the theme that gasoline costs per gallon are inevitably going to rise to figures like you mentioned above is standing on very shaky ground. Not that it is impossible but rather that the countertrends make it pretty unlikely.

          There is currently a glut of oil on the world markets and vast amounts of oil in the ground which is not being produced due to the retail price not being sufficient to justify drilling and production. Should the ‘market’ result in retail prices rising then this will bring large amounts of that oil into the realm where drilling and production can be justified. Thus supply goes up and there is a resulting downward push on prices. Globally speaking there is a huge volume of oil in the ground (think of the fracking boom here) which is just sitting there waiting for high crude prices to justify getting it out. This quantity is sufficient to last for several decades when looked at globally. So, while the Peak Oil concept is definitely sound in a finite world, we are not there yet.

          Additionally we have the slowly (very slowly) building EV industry (yes Musk is a con man but still…) and over time the global percentage of the vehicle fleet which are EV’s will rise to the point where it becomes meaningful and this will definitely serve to put downward pressure on retail fuel prices. Unfortunately this results in keeping ICE vehicles very competitive with EVs (in a climate change sense a very large percentage of the time you do less damage with an ICE vs an EV vehicle given the current power generation infrastructure).

          If the markets are left to decide the retail price of fuel then it is likely that prices will stay ‘affordable’ for a couple of decades still. If we decide to actually deal with climate change then you step in and tax the hell out of it and then you get to the prices stated above. But that decision pint requires such comprehensive overhaul of the whole structure of how we live I just can’t imagine getting the political power in place to make it happen.

          1. Enquiring Mind

            Those per-gallon gas prices reflect some potential risks such as a (further) destabilized Middle East and local or distant supply chain disruption. The US has taken many policy steps to try to immunize domestic production and consumption from offshore disturbances, and has thus embraced shale and Canadian tar sands and similar closer sources even with their environmental and other externality costs. Without geopolitical intrigue, we’d see much lower costs and higher petroleum-based consumption.

        4. JerryDenim

          Can’t say that I disagree with all of this but there are some serious hurdles to the author’s vision.

          “At $6, public transportation becomes “the belle of the ball,” with subways overflowing and new train routes proliferating”…. Umh, what subways? I can only think of five, maybe six US cities with viable subway systems. How do you build rail through densely developed suburbs? Authoritarian countries like China can do things like that, but here it would be a forty year court battle. Our debt obsessed government seems to believe budget surpluses are something to brag about and refuse to spend at a level adequate to maintain our current infrastructure. How to we go from austerity hysteria to building trillions of dollars of rail in a short amount of time?

          “At $8 the skies will empty” …. What no possibilty of electric or hydrogen cell airplanes in the utopian future? Plus air travel is a major employer and driver of commerce. No airlines = catastrophic hit to national economic activity.

          “At $12 families abandon the suburbs and cluster in cities” …. OK, so if everybody is already driving an electric car after $10 a gallon gas, why does anyone really care about commute distances and an $2 extra dollars a gallon if gas prices no longer apply to your vehicle? Also if people who live in red state burbs are currently priced out of the dense, prosperous cities with viable public transit networks, how is a sudden and radical surge in demand going to make these unaffordable cities affordable to people currently living in Kansas? Doesn’t really square with what I know about supply and demand.

          I’m not saying society couldn’t cope with $20 a gallon gasoline, but it would be very painful, and would require some radical, heroic, heterodox thinking by our leaders. In short, I don’t think our current leadership is up for the task and I can’t imagine the United States of 2017 navigating the challenges inherent with $20 gasoline without turmoil and societal collapse. Sorry if my pessimism is undeserved.

          1. Objective Function

            At 2 bazillion dollars a gallon, I unleash Imperial Furiosa and my WarBoys and The Toecutter run Bartertown.

    2. ambrit

      The authors show a technocratic bias at the end by touting “new technology as well as the growth of work at home.” In short; Modernism will save us. The “us” is not well defined because of “asymmetries” in everything. Late stage Capitalism, if I’m reading correctly, enhances inequality through the ‘sophisticated’ accumulation of capital. As the wealth divide grows, the base population of people able to afford those suburban mini utopias shrinks.
      The dispossessed historically have congregated in urban cores and inner ring suburbs. We see this first hand in our town. We don’t see groups of hardy second growth pioneers setting up cooperative farms to live off of the sweat of their collective brows. For one thing, the usable land has been sequestered through primitive and sophisticated accumulation. Secondly, the earlier safety valves of small scale job creation that urban areas traditionally provided for population pressures are a thing of the past. The in-migrating hordes are now staying poverty stricken. Roughly speaking, America now has a growing lumpenproleteriat. Forget ideology, from any political ‘side.’ This group is mainly focused on simple survival.
      ‘Occupy’ was somewhat of a bust, I believe, because the average participant did not have that “nothing to lose” reality informing their thoughts and actions. I’m wondering, not whether or not suburbia will thrive and prosper, but when the modern “bonus march” will occur.

      1. Wukchumni

        The bonus march would come in the guise of younger Boomers & Gen X wanting their social security payments a decade ahead of time, not unlike the WW1 vets gig hankering for their bonus. Almost all of the original enrollees in the CCC came from their ranks.

        A second, smaller Bonus March in 1933 at the start of the Roosevelt administration was defused in May with an offer of jobs with the Civilian Conservation Corps at Fort Hunt, Virginia, which most of the group accepted. Those who chose not to work for the CCC by the May 22 deadline were given transportation home. In 1936, Congress overrode President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s veto and paid the veterans their bonus nine years early. (Wiki)

      2. AnnieB

        Occupy was destroyed by the security state. By infiltration to derail the focus and by coordinated police state destruction.

        1. ambrit

          Look at events like the Ludlow Massacre versus Occupy. The ‘occupistas’ weren’t desperate enough to really fight back. They had too much to ‘lose.’
          The original ‘Bonus Army’ required the real army to disperse it.

          1. human

            The “real” army did disperse Occupy. Revolutions require steadfast determination in the face of power. Martyrdom.

            1. ambrit

              Yep. Determination, or as John Maynard Keynes is purported to have said; “In the long run we are all dead.”

          1. marym

            OWS started on September 17, 2011. Within weeks encampments were established all over the country (I recall 150-200).

            The Zuccotti Park encampment was violently destroyed by police less than 2 months later on November 15, the other encampments within a few months.

            Within those few months, the NYC group issued a declaration that formulated the problem comprehensively. Many other Occupies adopted or modified it for their groups. They were infiltrated. Democrats tried to co-copt them (Occupy Democrats for example). Because they provided food and shelter for anyone, they faced the challenge of dealing with homeless and mentally ill people from their communities, and did their best. They were arrested and pepper sprayed. Their clothes, food, electronics, first aid supplies, libraries, shelters, sleeping bags were destroyed in the raids.

            Many participants then moved on to other activities – sometimes directly related to the Occupy experience, like Occupy Sandy, Occupy SEC, and Strike Debt. Other activists resumed previous activist work or became involved in other projects. Wealth inequality and the 99%” are now a given in talking about politics and economics.

            It’s really irksome, after all these years, to still hear complaints about a national uprising of people from all different backgrounds that came together, got to work, was violently destroyed by the state within weeks, yet nevertheless changed our discourse, inspired action, and reverberates in activism that is on-going.

            1. marym

              Adding: The link is to a Stephen Colbert “comedy” segment. I only watched a few bits of it. In the beginning he goes to Zucotti “disguised” as Che. Later he interviews two Occupiers earnestly trying to explain the Occupation while SC eats a lavish meal.

              According to this review the 2 protesters interviewed merely said:

              “[Their fellow protesters] came to consensus within the press group that we would be two people who would be good to talk to,” says Ketchup. “But we’re just here as autonomous individuals.”

              so, just a statement about themselves in that interview, not about nature of the protest.

              The representation of SC eating a lavish meal would probably be part of the percentage of the clip that’s true.

            2. DJG

              marym: + + +

              As I’ve often noted here in the comments, Occupy was educational in a way that few seem to appreciate. As you mentioned, Occupy changed the discourse and brought up the concept of the One Percent, which has proven remarkably productive as a précis of our problems.

              And as I often point out, the two or three times I went to visit the encampments in Grant Park and on LaSalle Street, I heard questions about history so basic that I realized just how propagandized the twenty-somethings had been by TV, the school system, the happy talk of news, and the suppression of any covarage of labor and unionism. I believe that the enchantment of American exceptionalism, perfectly functioning free markets, the Democrats as honest interlocutors, and disruption/invation/edgy as a way of life has also been lifted, dis-enchanted, and dissipated–a great service to all performed by Occupy.

              1. marym

                a great service to all performed by Occupy

                I stopped by the Chicago site one Saturday, and a young woman gave me an “I Occupied” sticker which I stuck on the front of my shoulder bag. On the train home, looking out at buildings, traffic, etc. I was thinking a little sadly about all the people who weren’t protesting. Also on the train, laughing and seeming to be having a good time was a group of lively young, stereotypically clean-cut suburban guys. As a handful of people gathered by the train door approaching the station, one of the guys was joking and offering people a beer. He spotted my sticker and said quietly: You Occupied today. Good. You’re doing it for all of us.

                I wasn’t really doing anything myself, but if you still know people who participated in Occupy Chicago, that guy’s thank you belongs to them.

                1. Presence not impact

                  Politics is a cold hard play though. You don’t get and shouldn’t get gold medals for just participating, only for real outcomes. Nothing concrete has come out of Occupy Wall Street. No new legislation, no bankers in jail, nothlng. Sad.

                  I think because the people participating had too much to lose. For them it was a happening, not a fight and therefore the security state coufd squash it so easily. Facebookified hipster movement.

                  1. marym

                    It was a largely spontaneous uprising. It comprised participants and donors who hadn’t necessarily been active before. It was diffuse across the country and across political perspectives. The people in the encampments were violently attacked by the state and all their belongings were trashed. All this within a few weeks.

                    Complaining that they didn’t get any legislation passed (!!), or didn’t have the organization and resources to “fight back” makes no sense given the reality of what actually happened.

                2. Presence no impact

                  Bouts de nuits in Framce suffered from the same problem. Event high-jacked by middle-class and upwards people with nothing to lose, only to gain organizational capital for other purposes, who dismissed working people expressing their real pain.

      3. HopeLB

        Perhaps the co-op farming will begin in the overly lawned suburbs when growing food in a climate changing world becomes either financially rewarding and/or nutritionally necessary? Farm the Lawns might soon be a non internet of things thing.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Could you imagine what Homeowner’s Associations would have to say about that? Even if they went in on it, I bet that they would dictate what could be grown as well as a raft of other restrictions. I wonder if all that would be up for negotiation as this movement was not part of the original agreement to those moving to those areas. One thing for sure, it’s going to be a donnybrook.

          1. The Rev Kev

            That is quite an astute comment that. I’m not sure how that would work out with modern housing blocks though. Some of the modern house blocks are divided up into really small blocks that barely have any lawn at all. Not much room to build ‘victory gardens’ in some of them.

        2. JTMcPhee

          I used some dirt from last year’s “raised box garden,” necessitated by bad back, bad knees, and very small non-house yard area, to nourish the cover plants (Oriental jasmine and peanut flowers) covering the front yard. I now have five or six volunteer tomato plants already knee and thigh high, a few feet from the sidewalk, so I have given ’em some manure and water and put up frames to support them.

          I’ll put up a little sign soon, saying “help yourselves to what you actually need, but also help others — plant veggies in your yards, and stop mowing the weeds.” My wife suggests one of those boxes like Realtors ™ (AAAAAHHHHhh!) hang on the for-sale gibbets they nail into all those in-play front yards — clear plastic (UV-resistant? recyclable?), with a flip lid, with pamphlets on yard- and community-gardening inside, so maybe the notion will spread… There are lots of yards in my little plat that are just ‘weeds that get mowed” to a scruffy height. The soil round here is mostly sand, so some work at amendment would be required.

          Too little, too late for the planet, perhaps, but maybe we can huddle around a solar cooker,, and cook up some veggie soups and casseroles, as things get dicier… Organize a local militia to keep less provident people from stealing or taking our little store of calories and nutrients…

          La Cigale et la fourmi
          by Jean de La Fontaine

          La cigale ayant chanté
          Tout l’été,
          Se trouva fort dépourvue
          Quand la bise fut venue :
          Pas un seul petit morceau
          De mouche ou de vermisseau.
          Elle alla crier famine
          Chez la fourmi sa voisine,
          La priant de lui prêter
          Quelque grain pour subsister
          Jusqu’à la saison nouvelle.
          « Je vous paierai, lui dit-elle,
          Avant l’août, foi d’animal,
          Intérêt et principal. »
          La fourmi n’est pas prêteuse :
          C’est là son moindre défaut.
          « Que faisiez-vous au temps chaud ?
          Dit-elle à cette emprunteuse.
          — Nuit et jour à tout venant
          Je chantais, ne vous déplaise.
          — Vous chantiez ? J’en suis fort aise :
          Eh bien ! Dansez maintenant. »

          The Cricket and the Ant
          translation by Don Webb

          The cricket had sung her song
          all summer long
          but found her victuals too few
          when the north wind blew.
          Nowhere could she espy
          a single morsel of worm or fly.

          Her neighbor, the ant, might,
          she thought, help her in her plight,
          and she begged her for a little grain
          till summer would come back again.

          “By next August I’ll repay both
          Interest and principal; animal’s oath.”

          Now, the ant may have a fault or two
          But lending is not something she will do.
          She asked what the cricket did in summer.

          “By night and day, to any comer
          I sang whenever I had the chance.”

          “You sang, did you? That’s nice. Now dance.”
          (The neolibertarian approach. Now THAT’s gonna work…)

    3. Jim Haygood

      ‘Phoenix must be the poster child for suburbs run amok, and seems to exist in order to offer its citizens the chance to shop for stuff, as the stores just repeat themselves one after another, in an infinite skein.’

      Depends on which road you’re on. Unfortunately the midwestern notion of platting the entire state into square miles was adopted in much of the West, and then made dramatically worse by granting railroads alternating checkerboards of it.

      On some roads in Scottsdale (which of course follow the edges of those square miles) shopping centers appear only every three to five miles, where bits of the corners were chopped out to accommodate retail zoning. In between are endless walled-off square miles that are purely residential — meaning there is no such thing as a quick walk or bike ride to a small-scale, close-by local shopping center.

      Urban planning (if it exists) and zoning in developer-driven Arizona seems stuck in the 1960s, calibrated to produce mini-LAs even in smaller regional cities. Exiled Californians, excitedly recognizing their own failed urban design on a smaller scale, are pouring in.

      1. Carolinian

        Phoenix also has large indian reservations which tend to squeeze development even further from the city core, like toothpaste out of a tube. It will all stop when the water runs out.

      2. Wukchumni

        If there are so many Califonrians rushing in, why is the politics so to the right of right in Arizona-which seems to be a crass-test-dummy, to see what the GOP can get away with back east?

        1. neo-realist

          I’m wondering if the Californians that are rushing in are the older well to do retired ones that are running away from the tax burden of living in California? Older well to do that presumably tend to vote right wing.

  11. Wukchumni

    So, what happens when you combine the end of a financial pyramid scheme, with an awful lot of weaponry in the hands of the public?

    And yes, Albania is only close to America in the encyclopedia and little else, but it couldn’t happen here, could it?
    The pyramid scheme phenomenon in Albania is important because its scale relative to the size of the economy was unprecedented, and because the political and social consequences of the collapse of the pyramid schemes were profound. At their peak, the nominal value of the pyramid schemes’ liabilities amounted to almost half of the country’s GDP. Many Albanians—about two-thirds of the population—invested in them. When the schemes collapsed, there was uncontained rioting, the government fell, and the country descended into anarchy and a near civil war in which some 2,000 people were killed. Albania’s experience has significant implications for other countries in which conditions are similar to those that led to the schemes’ rise in Albania, and others can learn from the way the Albanian authorities handled—and mishandled—the crisis.

    Few studies have been done on the macroeconomic effect of pyramid schemes on the scale of those in Albania, which, fortunately, are extremely rare. The closest analogy to such schemes is the asset bubble, whose economic impact is due to changes in perceived wealth. As a bubble expands, people believe themselves to be better off than they actually are, and their demand for goods and money increases, leading to a deterioration in a country’s external current account as well as increased output or accelerated inflation or both. If the bubble attracts foreign investors, capital inflows might be sufficient to fund the current account deficit. After the bubble bursts, perceived wealth falls dramatically. Demand for goods and money, as well as output and inflation rates, can be expected to decrease, while the current account balance is likely to improve.

  12. Marco

    Black Friday work schedules. I bumped into a Walmart worker inside a gas station on Thanksgiving day. She was on her way to start her shift at 6pm!!! I asked her if she was at least getting 1+1/2 time. She said no. Insane and cruel. The comments at The Stranger article about the Amazon strikes in Germany and Italy were typically heartless. It’s hard not to despair about Labor achieving anything when most Americans just don’t have a clue.

    1. edmondo

      I wonder if the guy you paid for your gas inside the station was getting paid time-and-a-half? I guarantee he/she wasn’t. You know the best way to insure that retail establishments close on holidays is to not use them.

    2. Vatch

      Infuriating. Let’s look at the latest real time Forbes 400 list for Nov. 26, 2017. Jeff Bezos, the Shah of, is number one with assets of $99.6 billion. Jim Walton, S. Robson Walton, and Alice Walton, the Dukes and Duchess of Walmart, are numbers eleven through thirteen. Their assets range from $44.9 billion to $45.2 billion, for a combined total of more than $135 billion. Ya know what? I think those plutocrats can afford to pay their people a little extra money for working on a holiday, and they could also provide a bonus when the company is doing well.

      As Eureka Springs said yesterday:

      There should be no such thing as a billionaire.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Keep the meme alive! Bezos now personally has 100,000 million dollars yet we see fit to gift him $53B in government giveaways contracts, pays almost no tax, and gets a free pass to run a monopoly Death Star that bankrupts middle-class businesses everywhere. NO HE IS NOT A FOLK HERO

        1. The Rev Kev

          But, but – that can’t be right. I was just reading this article on how great he was in the Washington Post. Oh, I forgot – never mind.

      2. Wukchumni

        When we were kids the only people we knew that made an excessive amount of money were talented musicians, who gave us much pleasure showing off their talents…

        …nowadaze the folks that make an excessive amount of money tend to be talentless hacks, who continually lie to us

    3. Louis

      It’s hard not to despair about Labor achieving anything when most Americans just don’t have a clue.

      I don’t whether many Americans simply don’t know or simply refuse to believe it—sometimes it seems like the problem is the latter: i.e. the equivalent of sticking fingers in your ears and shouting “I can ‘t hear you.”

      The common belief seems to be the people who work on Thanksgiving in low-wage jobs are doing so voluntarily: i.e. they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, thus don’t feel like they have anything to lose. When you point out that the number of people who fall into this category isn’t sufficient to provide staffing for Thanksgiving—in other words most people working are in fact getting pulled away and don’t want to work on Thanksgiving by choice—the rebuttal seems to be that “at least they get extra pay” but those working on Thanksgiving do not.

      On-call scheduling has been around for awhile but at least it’s finally starting to get some attention—better late than never, I suppose.

  13. Jason Boxman

    I remember when you bought a game, you owned a game. Full stop. I was quite content with Neverwinter Nights, with a vibrant fan module/extension community. Never got into MMROPGs or whatever they are.

    I’m glad I got out of gaming years ago now.

    When open enrollment came around again recently, I looked at the deductible plans and realized, if I don’t have a co-pay plan, I probably won’t ever see a doctor.

    With a co-pay plan, it’s $20 or whatever to see a family doctor and $40 or $50 or whatever to see a specialist. With a deductible plan, it’s whatever the cost is, up to your deductible. For drugs, too.

    Being as I am, I’d balk at spending $200 for an office visit up to the deductible. Ugh. So I paid more per month for the certainty of the co-pay plan. And it’s expensive. I imagine plenty with these plans are just screwed.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Referring to deductibles as “cost-sharing” must be the joke of the century.

      Real cost “sharing” would involve paying off the deductible in incremental copays, with the insurance company paying the balance until the deductible was met. Of course, that would mean that more people would be able to get the “healthcare” their insurance company promises, a result this particular system is designed to avoid.

      Deductible amounts don’t come out of nowhere. They are actuarially set–just beyond what an average individual or family would be expected to spend on “healthcare” annually, and/or just beyond what most could reasonably be expected to be able to afford.

      1. human

        “Real cost sharing” would be the insurance company paying a loss out of the proceeds of the collective (yes, insurance is a socialist contstruct), thereby distributing the cost of the loss among the group as insurance was always meant to do. Preventative Health Care is a poor match for the use of insurance.

  14. Juneau

    Regarding high deductible health plans, it’s not a bug it’s a feature and so gets overlooked. Patients get the downside of a “catastrophic coverage” plan which is no real coverage for outpatient costs at the price of a premium plan.

    I always thought these plans were meant to lower costs by encouraging people to avoid seeing the doctor in an outpatient setting. Particularly bad for conditions that require frequent monitoring and also for the mental health benefit and substance abuse coverage where higher frequency of visits is considered standard of care. IMHO.

  15. Jim Haygood

    Around midnight ET bitcoin surpassed $9,000, sending its market cap to $150 billion, higher than corporations like Mastercard or McDonald’s.

    The combined market capitalization for all cryptocurrencies is just below $300 billion.

    BTC 10K, comrades: set an iPhone alert, or you might miss this historic Bubble III milestone.

    1. Wukchumni

      Bitcoin seems to be signalling that when measured against all other currencies, they are hyperdeflating.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        In 2020 Bitcoin will consume 100% of the electricity used on Earth. Pick one, you think that is A.) sustainable, or B.) ludicrous and stupid

  16. MtnLife

    In regards to rebuilding PR infrastructure: Check out this job offer on an arborist forum I occasionally frequent offering substandard wages for extremely hazardous work on an unsafe work schedule amidst the water and insect problems of the island. I’m not sure if they are counting on the overall desperation of the population to get people to jump at that but people with that narrow skill set generally aren’t lacking. The locals don’t seem impressed.

    1. Wukchumni

      It’s been hard to find a tree faller in the summer months here, as they are in great demand for wildfires, and can really earn some do re mi working fire lines, as they get paid per tree, and it adds up in a hurry.

      A forester I know will laugh his arse off @ the idea of going to PR for $30 an hour, when I forward him the link.

      1. Objective Function

        I can send you a veritable horde of industrious Filipinos who will cheerfully take care of all that under wev conditions you like, so long as they net 15 an hour to remit home.
        Nearer still, an army of Venezuelan refugees can likely be mobilized within days by a US-friendly Colombian contractor.

  17. mpalomar

    The Paris Review article on monstrous men.
    The writer raises among others, Woody Allen as an example and uses Manhattan as material evidence. I thought Manhattan a self indictment when I saw it. I may try to watch it again but my perception was Allen’s character was portrayed as a manipulative, older man having an affair with a high schooler, albeit an upper east side Manhattan (or was it west side) highschooler.

    I don’t remember the sequence of events; Allen’s relation with Mia Farrow’s daughter and the making of Manhattan but I thought they were roughly contemporaneous and I thought the film a confession of sorts. The only defense offered for what was clearly portrayed as the older male character’s reprehensible, underhanded manipulation of a younger inexperienced, adolescent was the otherwise gentle, cultured nature of the character.

    What is not being sufficiently addressed, as is typically the case with human sexaulity, is a forthright examination of female and male sexual behaviour. What is instinctual, what is societal convention and is there any hope that the two can be reconciled? Particularly troublesome are power imbalances, age difference is a component of that but not exclusive to it.

    If those doing the examination have accepted without question many of the strictures of current thinking on human sexual relations the exercise will not be very useful. Very troublesome and murky issues are notions of gender based behavior, age differences in relations, particularly sexually awakened adolescents. Abnormal and abusive behavior mostly on the part of males might be examined as an outcome of repressive taboos and societal conventions and of course the perverse foundational inequalities of capitalism.

    The article is ostensibly about artists, their work and how their lives are understood in relation to their work; behavioral differences in male and female feature in it, particularly the bad behavior of men.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yup, that was my reading of Manhattan too. So far as I recall (its a long time ago) I first saw it before I knew of the various allegations made against Allen. I read it as focusing on Allens character desire to have a relationship with someone who wasn’t as smart or knowing as him so he could intellectually dominate her, but oblivious as to how obvious this was to everyone around him, including his girlfriend. I thought that was the whole point of the ending – that the girl was, in her quiet way, far more self aware and wise than her supposedly very smart garrulous boyfriend. But there are plenty of ways of interpreting that film – maybe thats the strength of it, everyone interprets it according to their own bias.

      I found the overall essay quite annoying really, it started out good, then descended to seemed more of a gush of self pity than a real examination of a very interesting topic. I think we’ve all at some stage had that horribly ambiguous feeling when someone we really admire and love reveals themselves to be a monstrous jerk. Dave Chappelles brilliant examination of African American’s feeling about Bill Cosby (his Netflix special show) is far better. As he says at the end ‘Its complicated!’

    2. Annotherone

      I gave up part-way through the “monstrous men” piece. I do not understand the depth of bad feeling against Woody Allen. How on earth what he did can be considered in any way comparable to what Cosby and others in the author’s list are said to have done still mystifies me.

      1. ambrit

        They are all examples of the powerful taking advantage of those weaker than them.
        Her criticism is grounded on one of the basic “moral imperatives” that holds society together.
        How much pain is it ‘acceptable’ to inflict in the pursuit of “art,” or indeed, any goal?
        Chappelle is right. “It’s complicated” just being a human being.

      2. Carolinian

        I agree about Woody although I haven’t liked any of his movies since the “early funny ones” and find his analysand schtick tiresome.Older men pursuing (willing) younger women are not by definition monsters. As for the Dylan accusations, my personal opinion is that Mia Farrow made the whole thing up.

        BTW Mariel Hemingway says that after Manhattan Allen tried to date her but she showed no interest.

        1. Annotherone

          I feel the same as you do about the Dylan accusations.
          Some of Allen’s movies do tend to go over my head – that peculiar New York flavour, for instance, is foreign to me. Even when one of his movies doesn’t hit the spot dramatically, there’s always, always some good music going on in the background.

          I’ve been a fan of his humour since, back in the 1960s, in England one Christmas, I gave my boss an LP record of Woody Allen doing stand-up comedy. He’d never heard of Woody, and I’d only read about him. We had fun trying to understand his schtick. There was one word, I still recall, we never did quite get, back then – “hickey”. :)

        2. CanCyn

          I don’t think you get to have a personal ‘opinion’ about whether an event occurred or not. We have no idea what happened between Allen and his step daughter.

          1. Carolinian

            Then perhaps Mia and many others should stop treating it as an established fact

            And sorry but I’ll believe what I do whether you approve or not.

          2. ChiGal in Carolina

            An opinion is exactly what you get to have. Claiming to know what happened, which Carolinian did not do, is another matter.

            How informed his opinion is and whether it merits sharing here may be what you meant to opine on ;-)

            1. Carolinian

              I’m pretty familiar with the facts of the case and there is evidence that Mia may have coached her daughter who, after a lifetime of being told what happened to her as a child, believes it herself. Add in that all this came up as part of a highly contentious custody battle and that we are supposed to believe that Allen chose this time period to go up in the attic and molest his step daughter.

              That doesn’t mean my opinion is correct, but it does say that there is reasonable doubt concerning the competing belief.

    3. Deschain

      You what else was a self-indictment? Toy Story 3.

      I mean come on, the main villain is called “Lots O’ Huggin Bear”. How on the nose is that.

    4. Eclair

      “What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men?”

      First, who defines and decides what is “art” in our culture? Mainly, white, well-off european males (and their accompanying females) who have commodified story-telling and music and pictorial representation. They are the group that has the money and the power. To then complain that many of these males have done despicable things, mainly contributing to the degradation and humiliation of young and attractive women, but that we must somehow distance the behavior from the output, seems, I don’t know, whiney. And futile.

      This is our culture; we live in a capitalist patriarchy, the artist and the art are indivisible.

      So, the article had its effect on me; I was as put off by it as I am on reading the self-absorbed vignettes in the New Yorker. But it did get me contemplating what we call “art.” And who we define as the “artist.” And that maybe the current definitions are so entwined with our dysfunctional (for most of us) economic system, that we have to rethink all of this stuff.

      H/T to the commenter who wrote a lovely rant a few days ago, on the fake white upper middle-class world portrayed by the ubiquitous-at-holiday-time Hallmark movies.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        What to do with the Art of Monstrous Men?

        Why, a Bonfire of the Vanities, of course.

        Make sure you include the Picassos, Dalis, Pollacks (and the rest of the list too long to make here). Don’t forget DH Lawrence, Henry Miller and the many, many others of their disgusting ilk.

        I know, we can institute a Council for the Detection and Destruction of Prurient Art, they can consult The Taliban and the Saudi Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, they seem to have instituted some very effective programs. The Taliban were especially efficient at controlling the spread of auditory vice, otherwise known as music. Surely we’ll need to destroy all copies of the dreaded music of that notorious coprophage Mozart. Revolting.

      2. mpalomar

        “Who defines what is art in our culture?”
        Yeah, many answers to that one and more questions. What is our culture? What is our art? Who is encompassed in ‘our.’ One saving grace of art and culture is the ambiguity inherent in these questions. Art can happen almost anywhere made by almost anyone.

        “To then complain that many of these males have done despicable things…but that we must somehow distance the behavior from the output, seems, I don’t know, whiney. And futile.”

        Yes, why should we distance the behavior from the output? remove it from its context?

        “it did get me contemplating what we call “art.” And who we define as the ‘artist…’ ”

        Whether popular culture or high culture, the ‘successful artist’ has been removed from community, subverted and captured by celebrity and money and dissociated from real experience, the source material. The resulting predominant popular culture as far as I can tell is largely located in a distant fantasy leading us far from the circumstances of our actual lives. Some would call it an escape others an opiate, either way it doesn’t serve us well.

        Serious art has been rendered effete and remote by institutional gatekeepers in service to wealth and power. The contention that Rockefeller and MOMA starved the social realists emerging from the depression and WWI by funding and promoting abstract artists is not without merit.

    5. Summer

      RE: Art of Monstrous Men…
      “I researched Polanski, the more I became drawn to his films, and I watched them again and again—especially the major ones: Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown. Like all works of genius, they invited repetition. I ate them.”

      Those three films are notable for their representation of sexually traumatized women. The female leads in each had their lives destroyed by rape. “Repulsion” is often misunderstood. Some think it is about a sexually repressed woman, but it is about a sexually traumatized woman – the key is the childhood picture, with her sideways gaze at an older male family member. Rosemary is gang raped by a cult and who can forget the “she’s my sister, she’s my daughter” revelation in “Chinatown.”

      Remarkable that Polanski would often portray the damage that sexual abuse causes, as a main part of the story line, and do what he did.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Thank you–I had missed that about Repulsion.

        And yes, remarkable. The need to testify seems to be universal.

      2. mpalomar

        “Remarkable that Polanski would often portray the damage that sexual abuse causes, as a main part of the story line, and do what he did.”

        Polanski also made the The Pianist which I thought one of his best and a chance for him to revisit the ghosts from his past. He was feral teen in the countryside during part of WWII, his family having been shipped off to camps. His experience from this time perhaps had some effect on his later life and art.

        In Chinatown he gave himself the role of a cheap, violent hood and played it to perfection.

    6. Oregoncharles

      “. What is instinctual, what is societal convention and is there any hope that the two can be reconciled? ”
      Yes, we’ve been trying to dodge that one. Partly, it’s unanswerable because culture is so powerful. However, there are two lines of evidence that the mess we’re living reflects fundamental human nature:
      1st, it seems to have arisen more or less spontaneously when arranged marriages went away, a couple hundred years ago in the West. I’m not aware of any concerted design effort – is anyone else?
      2nd, it’s proven extremely persistent in the face of massive changes in gender roles and even a concerted campaign against it. Yes, Women’s Liberation contemplated drastic changes in our courtship patterns, with women taking a much more assertive role. The current system is so asymmetric that it’s flagrantly anti-feminist. If anything, there’s been some backsliding. So there’s something pretty fundamental going on.

      This is the persistence of personal gender roles that Yves mentioned.

      The above is pretty pessimistic; it’s been 40 years, two full generations, the founders are dying off, and still not much change. Which might have a lot to do with the equal persistence of sexual harassment – it’s an extension, a distortion, of sanctioned behavior. And abuse of power looks an awfully lot like normal mating behavior in a lot of species, including gorillas and chimps (strikingly, not bonobos). There are evolutionary advantages to hooking up with the alpha.

      One reason I think about this is that I was never comfortable in the traditional male role, nor very good at it. And I know a guy who can’t work it at all – that’s a miserable, lonely existence. Somebody like that sees a lot of ruthlessness coming from the female side. Plus, it perpetuates a traditional role model that has to slop over into other contexts. The problem isn’t just that it’s unfair to men; it’s bad for women, too, in a variety of ways – sexual harassment being only one.

  18. Wukchumni

    We were going to make an attempt on the Fiscal Cliff, and the route is a 5.15b in difficulty, with a prominent overhang of assets perched near the top that was deemed unapproachable by most climbing experts.

    The main danger in making an ascent is the likelihood of money being dropped on you from on high, and it isn’t as bad as it used to be, when Greenspan would drop banded piles of Benjamins on unwary climbers, but don’t let anybody tell you getting plonked on the head by 40 billion electrons is no big deal, either…

  19. Wukchumni

    Anybody watch “The Beatles: Eight Days A Week-The Touring Years” yesterday on PBS?

    It was fabulous, and you know what the Fab 4 had in their hands an awful lot?

    Damn near every video of them had one or more of them smoking cigarettes…

    When I was a wee lad about as many people were smokers back then as there are gluttons now.

    We’ve turned the former into pariahs for their own good, why not do the same with the larder?

            1. ambrit

              It’s bad enough that people try to twist your words, but your thoughts too? I guess that’s why the Sanskrit speakers call twisters ‘Pun-dits.’

                  1. Wukchumni

                    Words are just playthings to bandy about, and they seldom make a fuss when pared down to sighs or guffaws.

              1. ambrit

                Alas Rev Kev, I am but a starry eyed messenger.
                Having been a plumber for so many years, I have become somewhat ‘leaden’ in my ways.
                It reminds me of the fight song for the Yaelie Opus Dei; “Bulla Bulla.”
                And, “Skull and Bones,” what is that? Some sort of ivory tower Grail cult? Or maybe, a congeries of pyratical patriarchs?

  20. marym

    This City Hall, brought to you by Amazon

    Last month Amazon announced it got 238 offers for its new, proposed 50,000-employee HQ2. I set out to see what’s in them, but only about 30 have been released so far under public-record acts.

    Those 30, though, amply demonstrate our capitulation to corporate influence in politics. There’s a new wave, in which some City Halls seem willing to go beyond just throwing money at Amazon. They’re turning over the keys to the democracy.
    Example: Chicago has offered to let Amazon pocket $1.32 billion in income taxes paid by its own workers. This is truly perverse. Called a personal income-tax diversion, the workers must still pay the full taxes, but instead of the state getting the money to use for schools, roads or whatever, Amazon would get to keep it all instead.
    But the most far-reaching offer is from Fresno, California. That city of half a million isn’t offering any tax breaks. Instead it has a novel plan to give Amazon special authority over how the company’s taxes are spent.

    1. Altandmain

      What is truly sad is how little bargaining power municipal governments have over Amazon.

      I remember a while back, the Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker spent a couple of hundred million on a stadium and around the same time cut education funding.

      Now here’s the really scary question – the “winner” of this bid of Amazon’s new HQ will have to make immense sacrifices in city services given the fact that they managed to outbid hundreds of competing cities. The tax cuts would and breaks would be huge. What will that city/state give up in order to “win” Amazon?

    2. Wukchumni

      I heard that the city to the north of me is so desperate to land the gig, that they’ve agreed to changing the name of the place to Frezon.

    3. fresno dan

      November 26, 2017 at 11:54 am

      Unfortunately, I can’t find the commercial on Youtube, but Fresno government officials, including the chief of police, appear in commercials THANKING a casino (I am not sure if there are actually two commercials – one for Chukchansi and Table Mountain) for being around for 30 years.
      I have to say I, and I guess it was naive of me, found that remarkable.

      1. Wukchumni

        I saw those commercials and was taken aback when the Fresno mayor, chief of police, et al, endorsed a private casino.

        Ash-holes! (Fresno means Ash Tree in Spanish)

  21. Altandmain

    An older article, but very important:

    A month and a half after declaring their intent to form a union, and a few weeks after cleaning the rooms of the very W-50 attendees whom Sandberg urged to stand up for themselves at work, the DoubleTree workers filed charges of unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing Hilton of interfering in their unionization process. Instead of allowing for what unions call a fair process, Hilton wanted a ballot-box election. The problem with such elections is that they can be held on the premises, and the employer can keep out supportive workers on the day of the election. Without a fair-process agreement, the employer can also show workers anti-union propaganda and engage in threatening behavior like speaking to them individually about the harm that a union will do to their jobs.

    Then on March 27, 2014, the workers called a boycott of the Harvard DoubleTree. Delegations to Harvard and to Hilton had failed.

    On April 3, during this boycott, Harvard Business School broke the boycott by offering participants lodging there during, ironically, the second annual Gender and Work Symposium. Dozens of women gathered to discuss how women could better excel in business, giving talks like “Prescriptions for Female Solidarity and Women’s Relationships” and “Branding Feminism: The Race to Recruit the ‘Lean In’ Generation.” The union says they put fliers in mailboxes at the business school and tried to meet with professors, all to no avail.

    Yeah this is a big issue.

    The sad thing is that reliving 2016, Hillary CLinton spent the entire primary attacking Sanders as to why his proposals like a $15 minimum wage were not realistic.

    Then you see stories like this:

    The entire Nation article is well worth a read, but a reminder as to why modern feminism has largely failed working class and middle class women.

  22. fresno dan

    “…and once showed up to a meeting in his underwear.”
    Well….I would have been shocked if he went to meetings sans underwear ……I would have assumed he had underwear on underneath his …outer clothes… ALL the meetings he showed up in, so that at every meeting he showed up at, he was always in his underroos….but times have changed…..maybe it was spiderman appreciation day???

    1. The Rev Kev

      It would have been better for him to follow a superman appreciation day and show up with his underwear on the outside of his trousers.

      1. cyclist

        Y-fronts over his trousers – that was how the Guardian’s cartoonist Steve Bell used to depict John Major….

  23. ChiGal in Carolina

    Hey Carla, if you get the chance I’d love your take on this. It’s from September but only just came to my attention.

    I am confused by what seems to me an incongruence between the source (Dean Baker) and the content (that incrementalism is the only realistic way to get to single payer).

    I realize that various forms of incrementalism (like public option) are going to be the first line of defense from the so-called center against the left, but wasn’t Dean Baker one of the economists who advised on HR 676?!

    And not meaning to be exclusionary, thanks in advance to any and all who can shed light on this for me!

  24. DJG

    Hatred in Ohio, normalizing, the New York Times, and the pecksniffian Nate Silver: I read the article because it is making the rounds on Facebook. I don’t find it “normalizing.” Hovatar (and I wonder what “pure ethnic group” Hovatar hails from) is a jamoke, as we say in the Midwest. He’s a gas bag, and he represents the banality of evil.

    Yet, as we see so often, the article was written by some anthropoligist marveling at our quaint and backward midwestern customs: His fine manners. Please.

    Further, Hovatar is a symptom, even is he is as attractive as a boil on the neck: I make yearly visits to Philadelphia and have driven several times from Chicago to Philly. I have spent the night in Poland (on the edge of depressed Youngstown), Cambridge, Columbus, in Ohio, and in the thoroughly decrepit Beaver Creek, Pa., and its less decrepit downstream neighbor, Beaver, Pa. I have seen racist cartoons about Obama in the windows of a shop in Beaver Creek, as I made my way into the rubble of its downtown past the shuttered Salvation Army resale shop. The main “industry” in Beaver Creek now is a small college run by one of the nuttier branches of the Presbyterians–you know, the denominations that still maintain that the pope is the anti-Christ.

    I recall stopping in a store in Cambridge that looked like a photo taken of food rationing in the Soviet Union. One onion was about the whole produce department.

    The economic degradation of Ohio is an obvious gradient if you follow the coast of Lake Erie. The Toledo area seems moderately prosperous, and than it is down hill economically to Pittsburgh.

    Normal? This is what is now allowed to be normal, as we read articles at Naked Capitalism about neoliberalism, the opioid crisis, lack of jobs, decline of education, and destruction of social services. Why didn’t the NY Times show up in suburban Dayton till now?

    Give people meaningful work. That’ll end their grasping for solutions and their polite pseudo-intellectual denials of history. It is no secret that work gives dignity, and the profiled jamoke should have something to do besides wallow in the muck of his resentments and his glorious ethnic past.

    1. Livius Drusus

      It is not surprising that people living in misery will look for scapegoats. But what I find annoying about the way The New York Times and other mainstream media outlets cover racism and the far-right is that they always seem to portray it as a solely downscale phenomenon. That is how we got the theory that the Democrats could win in 2016 by abandoning blue-collar whites and focusing on suburban Republicans. What planet are these people from where affluent suburban whites are immune from racism? Sure they might not post neo-Nazi memes online or fly the Confederate flag but if you get them to open up in private they are just as likely to hold racist beliefs as any redneck.

      Affluent liberals don’t like to think that the nice, degree-holding people they work with and live next to can hold far-right views. It is much easier to blame the rise of the far-right on poorly-educated hillbillies. It fits the professional class narrative much better.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Actions taken by the elite classes and the courtier class might resemble racism (cough super predators cough), but you need to understand racists are bad. Our “betters” are not bad and thus can’t be racist. Pointing out hypocrisy and reason doesn’t work with the fascist mind. Past villains must remain villains, and past heroes must be appropriated.

        After all, it wasn’t that long ago that the phrenology was all the rage within the elite and courtier class. A twisted version of Darwin was peddled. There has been a certain amount of change that will tolerate people who act “white” (which has an ever changing meaning for different groups). We aren’t terribly far removed from olden days.

  25. Wukchumni

    Ode to Hillary…

    That’s what you are,
    Either near or far.

    Like a barking dog that clings to hypocrisy,
    How the thought of you repels me.
    Never before
    Has someone been more…

    In every way,
    And forever more
    That’s how you’ll stay.

    That’s why, candidates, it’s incredible
    That someone so unelectable
    Is also so
    Forgettable, too.

    In every way,
    And forever more
    That’s how you’ll stay.

    That’s why, candidates, it’s incredible
    That someone so unelectable
    Is also so
    Forgettable, too.

  26. IronForge

    On Sucrose:

    Sucrose/Fructose are the culprit(s – Fructose being a component of Sucrose).

    UCSF conducted series of Lectures on the effects of those substances. Plenty available on YouTube and Roku.

    In short, they’re addictive and poisonous.

    Better off switching to Dextrose and up and coming Dextrose-Stevia blend sweeteners being sold.

  27. Summer

    A Voice of Hate in America’s Heartland NYT. Nate Silver: “What the hell is this, @nytimes? This article does more to normalize neo-Nazism than anything I’ve read in a long time.” When you’ve lost Nate Silver…

    Ultra-right ring forces never go mainstream without support from established power. Not one comes to power on majority popular support, despite constant cries about “failure of democracy.” These eras are entered as a result of the failures of plutocracy. Follow the money trail. The ballot is used to gain access to governments, then coups, disinformation, and back-room deals occur. People frightened into silence and conformity is then spun as popular support.

  28. Wukchumni

    In the run-up to the French Revolution and in the midst of, ‘assignats’ were the QE of the era…

    QE1 was 400 million livres
    QE2 was 800 million livres
    QE3 was 900 million livres
    QE4 was 600 million livres
    QE5 was 1.2 billion livres
    QE6 was 3 billion livres
    QE7 was 33 billion livres

    What could go wrong with free money, they must have thought?

  29. allan

    Time Inc. Is Said to Near Sale in Deal Backed by Koch Brothers [NYT]

    Time Inc. is nearing an agreement to sell itself to the Meredith Corporation in a deal backed by Charles G. and David H. Koch … Under the terms of the proposed deal, which could be announced as early as Monday morning, Meredith would pay between $19 and $20 a share for Time Inc., the publisher of Time, Sports Illustrated and People …

    Meredith, which publishes popular monthly magazines like Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens, has arranged for a $600 million cash infusion from the Koch brothers through their private equity arm, Koch Equity Development. … Some Koch allies have suggested that the brothers would not have any operational control over the company and that they viewed their investment purely as a moneymaking opportunity. …

    Hahahahahaha. Many of us are old enough to remember when Murdoch bought the WSJ
    and Rupert’s shills in the media insisted that he wouldn’t interfere with his new crown jewel.

    Can a merger with Sinclair, approved by light-touch regulators, be far away?

  30. Harold

    From the Nature article about “Normal”:

    “Cryle and Stephens describe Middle­town, the 1929 study by Robert Lynd and Helen Merrell Lynd that established the idea of ‘Middle America’. This canonized unity at a time of a burgeoning diversity that was spawned in part by immigration.”

    “Canonized” is an unfortunate word here. Really, how quickly people forget! Even the prestigious journal Nature. I remember Middletown as a scathing indictment of small-town America. A sort of hell of hypocrisy, prejudice, racial segregation, and class snobbery. Middletown was widely held up as an example of the shallowness and banality of American life, one of many factors that gave rise first to the “non-conformist” beatniks of the 1950s and ultimately to the broad rebellion of the 1960s “hippie” generation. According to wikipedia, among much else:

    “The study found that at least 70 percent of the population belonged to the working class. However, labor unions had been driven out of town because the city’s elite saw them as anti-capitalist. Because of this, unemployment was seen among residents as an individual, not a social, problem. The city government was run by the “business class,” a conservative group of individuals in high-income professions. For example, this group threw its support behind Calvin Coolidge’s administration.”

  31. Wukchumni

    Come on all of you big strong men
    Uncle Sam needs your help again
    he’s got himself in a terrible jam
    way down yonder in Fiatnam so
    double count your books and pick up a sum we’re
    gonna have a whole lotta funds

    And it’s one, two, three, what are we fighting for
    don’t ask me I don’t give a damn, next stop is Fiatnam
    And it’s five, six, seven, open up the floodgates
    ain’t no time to wonder why, whoopee capitalism’s gonna die

    Come on Wall*Street don’t be slow
    why manna from heaven is a go-go
    there’s plenty good money to be made by
    supplying the Unabankers with the tools of its trade
    let’s hope and pray that if they get it wrong,
    they’ll blame it on the Fiat Cong

  32. Plenue

    Regarding video game micro-transactions:

    It used to be that back in the 90s and early 2000’s, before high-speed internet was common, you would (mostly on computer, not video game consoles) buy a physical game for 50 bucks, and then 9 months or a year later a physical expansion pack would be released, usually for 30 or 40 bucks, that added a large chunk of new content and required the original base game to work.

    Once fast internet was common and digital distribution became the norm these gradually gave way to 10, 15, or 20 dollar mini-expansions that were download only. Then developers got the idea of charging 2 or 3 bucks a pop for completely superfluous cosmetic content, like new costumes. Then free-to-play games came along, that made their money by charging for exclusive store content and boosters that would increase the rate at which normal, free, in game currency was earned.

    What EA has done with this Star Wars game is *technically* give everyone who already bought (for 60 or 85, for the special edition, bucks) the game access to all the content, but made it so absurdly tedious to earn access to just by playing as to essentially force people to pay additional money to instantly unlock, say, Darth Vader.

    I’m wondering if this will be the straw that broke the camels back and we see a decline in the more egregious forms of DLC gouging.

    There are good examples of the use of digital distribution for delivery of expansions, by the way. The game Crusader Kings II was released in 2012, and has been given a steady stream of extensive, worthwhile content. Among other things they keep pushing the playable world further east: what started as just a simulator of medieval Europe now stretches through India and into China.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Star Wars is basically a licence to print money as long as one gives it the old college try. It doesn’t have to be good, but I think the effort is appreciated. This cash grab by Disney seems outright offensive. They could release reskins and “new ships” every other year and get people to buy them along with a myriad of toys.

      The suits at the House of Mouse can’t resist killing the golden goose. George Lucas did it because he ran Star Wars out of his garage and needed the money to make every movie but the first one. The toys and games he licensed were by and large cool and fun.

      1. Plenue

        The video game license is held by EA. In this instance it seems like Disney are the ones who stepped in and made EA change tact, because the controversy (remember, most down voted comment in Reddit history) was threatening to damage the brand.

        I do share your dislike for Disney though. It remains to be seen how long they can use Star Wars to make gobs of cash, because at one movie a year (especially as they haven’t been particularly good thus far), people might get burned out before long.

  33. VietnamVet

    Alastair Crooke nails The End of Dreams:

    The slow-motion collapse of the West from Brexit to Donald Trump is explained as the result of the second wave of globalism that enriches the few at the expense of the many. The result, like the first wave that ended a century ago in WWI, is “more populism; more unexpected election outcomes in Europe; more fake-ness; quicker dissolution of the glue holding society together; more political process, less outcome; less ability to address the needs of collective purpose,…”.


  34. Meher Baba Fan

    Yves Smith. Sorry about your ankles! Obviously I have no idea of your situation. May I offer the following. Dancers will say tendons, ligaments, bones and yes, ankles can definitely be strengthened. My ballet teacher was an internationally acclaimed Soloist ( thats harder than winning gold at the olympics) and her performance career ended from broken and ruined ankles. Later, she taught Aerial Silks classes and told me the Silks very rapidly rehabiitated her ankles. She also offered her students Fascial Kinetics – treats the fascia underpinning everything – which works near miracles for ruined bodies. I can vouch for this.
    ( It was fascinating to me that a conservative women from such an elitist rarified society chose Fascial Kinetics to study. Out of all the things she could have chosen. It is controversial to official medical bodies whom say there is no evidence it works. Actual recipients know otherwise. This woman knew about the body- her choice spoke volumes)
    The third suggestion is Atlas Profiax. Find the website, choose English, watch the 6 min. video.
    NYC will be rocking with Aerial Silks classes. Suggest finding one where the director or teacher is a dancer- ballet even better. They will understand about rehabilitation. Respect

    1. el_tel

      Interesting. I wouldn’t discount anything you say but the rheumatologists I worked with constantly reiterate that many solutions are more difficult (but not impossible) to “make work” with age (particularly after around age 40). Various body parts *can* be altered/strengthened as you get older but it gets more difficult and requires more work (which I suspect, knowing Yves’s workload, she may ill-afford to be able to do!)

      So definitely not a criticism, but a qualification of what you say. And if Yves is hypermobile like me, then, alas, much of the work (for significant benefit) should have been done before age 40 (when muscles/ligaments/tendons begin to atrophy or at least become more difficult to “keep strong/supple/improve”). Alas the downside of ageing! If your joints are fundamentally unstable (as opposed to injured due to ballet/whatever) then you must have “built them up” from a relatively early age to minimise later life problems. Otherwise, unless you have a *lot* of time on your hands, it’s a case of being careful with what you do.

  35. Musicismath

    Great points by Ivan Kurilla in the NYT article on Russian opponents of Putins’ dismay at US liberals’ susceptibility to Putin panic:

    “American liberals are so upset about Trump that they cannot believe he is a real product of American life,” Mr. Kurilla said. “They try to portray him as something created by Russia. This whole thing is about America, not Russia.”

    Reminds me of the late-2016 craze for referring to Trump by his non-anglicised family name, Drumpf. Nothing to do with America, you see: he’s an alien. It’s also noticeable how well the current liberal contempt for the “white working class” in the Rust Belt and its supposed immorality maps onto 19th- and early 20th-century elite and nativist anxieties about Germanic and Eastern European immigrants and their supposed cultural conservatism and taste for authoritarian politics.

    Certain strains within the current elite discourse about “deplorables” resemble the eugenicist and degenerationist rhetoric of the 1920s to the extent that it’s actually quite jarring. What’s even more noticeable is that people are so ill-informed about intellectual history that they’d never make the connection.

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