Links 11/27/17

New species can develop in as little as two generations, Galapagos study finds Science Daily

AI-controlled brain implants for mood disorders tested in people Nature. Shades of Woman on the Edge of Time….

The Strange and Gruesome Story of the Greenland Shark, the Longest-Living Vertebrate on Earth The New Yorker

ECB Sticks With Bad-Loan Plan Thrust Amid Italian Opposition Bloomberg

Amazon’s New ‘Secret Region’ Promises Easier Sharing of Classified Data Defense One. I guess Bezos will have to have WaPo’s story lists hand-carried across the air gap? Kidding!

Bitcoin Is Creeping Into Real Estate Deals WSJ

This City Hall, brought to you by Amazon Seattle Times

The Most Expensive U.S. Hurricane Season Ever: By the Numbers Bloomberg

New Study: Larger, More Intense U.S. Storm Complexes on the Way Weather Underground

A generation after American “libertarians” helped with mass disappearances, torture and murder of left-wing activists, Frente Amplio surge in Chilean elections Boing Boing (Re Silc).


No final answer to Irish border question until ‘end state’ known, says Liam Fox Belfast Telegraph

The hard-won kinship between Britain and Ireland is threatened by Brexit idiocy Guardian

Brexiteer SLAMS ‘myth’ of Irish border chaos as part of anti-Brexit ‘blackmail’ Express

Theresa May’s other hard-Brexit front Politico

Germany’s Voice Suddenly Missing in Brussels Der Speigel

In praise of minority government Handelsblatt

Transnistria youth look to Catalonia Le Monde Diplomatique. Let me know how that works out….


Saudi crown prince pledges to rid world of Islamist terror FT. Maybe stop funding it?

American policy totally failed in Syria — let’s be thankful Salon

Sinai’s undeclared war Le Monde Diplomatique

Long Divided, Iran Unites Against Trump and Saudis in a Nationalist Fervor NYT


Floods, Droughts, and India’s Uncertain Climate Future Foreign Policy

The Ganges and India’s Future: an interview with Victor Mallet Asian Review of Books

Five years after deadly factory fire, Bangladesh’s garment workers are still vulnerable The Conversation

North Korea

Between Sanctions, Drought and Tensions: How Bad is North Korea’s Food Situation? 38 North

North Korea’s all-female fan club dress up in military uniforms and recreate songs by Kim Jong-un’s favourite pop band Mirror


Brussels rattled as China reaches out to eastern Europe FT

How China and the US are emboldening whistle-blowers in the fight against corporate corruption South China Morning Post

Imperial Collapse Watch

Pentagon claims ‘no issues’ after F-35 float explodes at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Duffel Blog

The Nationalist’s Delusion The Atlantic

Trump Transition

Congress stares down shutdown amid December deluge Politico

Consumer bureau’s top lawyer sides with Trump in leadership clash Politico

Top CFPB Official Sues Trump Administration As Showdown Over Agency Heats Up HuffPo

Candidate to lead US land agency: No advocate of transfers AP

Clock ticking down on NSA surveillance powers The Hill. Section 702.

Don’t Blame Donald Trump for Eclipsing the State Department The American Conservative

Tax “Reform”

Trump tormenting trio endangers the tax plan Axios

Senate GOP tax bill hurts the poor more than originally thought, CBO finds WaPo

The Republican Tax Plan Contains More Middle-Class Pain Than Even Its Critics Are Saying The New Yorker

Sex in Politics…. Not.

Rep. John Conyers Stepping Aside as Judiciary Ranking Member Roll Call

Congress Returns to Intense Pressure to End Secrecy Over Sex Harassment NYT

Health Care

A Republican backup plan for killing Obamacare Scalawag. State waivers in Kentucky.

What Being Gored by a Bull Taught Me About Healthcare Vice (Re Silc).

CMS’s Big MACRA Surprise—Physicians Will be Judged Based On Cost In 2018 MIPS Calculation Health Affairs

Our Famously Free Press

Readers Accuse Us of Normalizing a Nazi Sympathizer; We Respond NYT

The New York Times Can’t Figure Out Where Nazis Come From In 2017. Pepe Has An Answer. Buzzfeed

Facebook counts the cost of post-truth politics FT

Meredith Corp. Buys Time Inc. In Koch-Backed Deal NPR

Sports Desk

Is This the End of the NFL? New York Magazine (Re Silc).

Class Warfare

Racism May Have Gotten Us Into This Mess, But Identity Politics Can’t Get Us Out New York Magazine

Alt-right Trump supporters and left-wing Bernie Sanders fans should join together to defeat capitalism Slavoj Zizek, Independent

Lone researchers with radical ideas may hold the keys to science’s unanswered questions The National

Light pollution: Night being lost in many countries BBC

Outing the Inside NYRB. Louise Bourgeois; I envy New Yorkers who can visit MOMA.

Against Passion LRB

Antidote du jour (via):

And for contrast (via):

“Please. if you find a tiny hedgehog , it must be warmed up first. Never try to feed a cold animal. Warmth above everything else will keep it alive until you find a Rescue.”

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. The Rev Kev

    Re about how to warm a hedgehog before feeding it from tonight’s Antidote du jour. That sounds right. A few months ago I read of a crew of a wrecked ship that were rescued by another ship. They were sent down below for a hot feed and when they checked on them later, they were all dead. They were still frigid on the inside and when the hot food arrived it led to their deaths. That story also mentioned a US spy crew whose plane crashed back in ’78 in the Bering Sea.
    A Soviet fishing trawler picked them up which saved that crew’s lives according to the co-pilot as standard treatment in the US at the time would have killed them. The experienced Russian fisherman gave them honey and hot water and tea all mixed together to warm them up on the inside as well as other techniques first. If any here are interested, there is an article on this incident at but this story goes all around the world to say, yeah, warm those hedgehogs up first before feeding.

    1. Clive

      The echo and amplify… yes, please keep a watch out for sickly looking hedgehogs. There’s always a few late litter underweight ones who didn’t get chance to fatten up before the winter months.

      And I still put a small amount of food out — along with fresh drinking water, changed daily. I keep the feeding bowls clean, too. I’ve known hedgehogs come for food even in late November and mid January. Contrary to popular imagination, while hedgehogs hibernate, they will wake up in mild weather and forage.

      The British Hedgehog Preservation Society is an excellent resource for more information.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      In Alpine areas, people rescued from the cold are never given hot drinks or told to sit by the fire. Locals will insist (presumably from experience) that it can take hours to safely warm someone up who has been exposed to extreme cold.

      About a year ago in the Guardian there was a long article about an incident in the 1930’s when a group of English schoolboys led by an idiot teacher (he led them hiking in Black Forest mountains despite numerous warnings from locals) got stuck on a ridge and were rescued by villages. Five of the boys died, but those who got to the village alive were nearly all saved, thanks to the locals experience – they refused to allow the freezing children to sit by the fire, insisting on a long, gentle warm up.

      1. Meher Baba Fan

        Thankyou. It’s because the fire sends circulation to the extremities and skin, thus away from the core. didnt know about avoiding hot drinks, though.

  2. Wukchumni

    New Study: Larger, More Intense U.S. Storm Complexes on the Way Weather Underground

    We had quite the wet winter last year-it put paid to the drought, and really in the nick of time, as another year or 2 of the Big Dry could’ve had ramifications of the wrong kind…

    But, historically it was nothing really.

    The big flood most know about in California was in the winter of 1861-62, as there were Americans around to eyewitness it, and the Central Valley was a giant lake extending virtually the entire length~

    It paled in comparison to the 1605 flood though, which had an almost never ending series of atmospheric river storms pummeling the state.

    A distinct, 1- to 2-cm-thick flood deposit found in Santa Barbara Basin with a varve-date of 1605 AD ± 5 years testifies to an intensity of precipitation that remains unmatched for later periods when historical or instrumental records can be compared against the varve record. The 1605 AD ± 5 event correlates well with Enzel’s (1992) finding of a Silver Lake playa perennial lake at the terminus of the Mojave River (carbon-14-dated 1560 AD ± 90 years), in relative proximity to the rainfall catchment area draining into Santa Barbara Basin. According to Enzel, such a persistent flooding of the Silver Lake playa occurred only once during the last 3,500 years and required a sequence of floods, each comparable in magnitude to the largest floods in the modern record. To gain confidence in dating of the 1605 AD ± 5 event, we compare Southern California’s sedimentary evidence against historical reports and multi-proxy time-series that indicate unusual climatic events or are sensitive to changes in large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns. The emerging pattern supports previous suggestions that the first decade of the 17th century was marked by a rapid cooling of the Northern Hemisphere, with some indications for global coverage. A burst of volcanism and the occurrence of El Nino seem to have contributed to the severity of the events. The synopsis of the 1605 AD ± 5 years flood deposit in Santa Barbara Basin, the substantial freshwater body at Silver Lake playa, and much additional paleoclimatic, global evidence testifies for an equatorward shift of global wind patterns as the world experienced an interval of rapid, intense, and widespread cooling.

    The California flood of 1605 was a massive flood that covered large sections of present-day California. It was a result of sustained major rain storms across the region. The flooding affected the indigenous peoples of California, in pre-European colonization populations.

    Similar major floods happened in the California region in: 212, 440, 603, 1029, 1418, and 1862.

    Notice the pattern?

    It happens about every 200 or 400 years, and we’re due.

      1. Wukchumni

        Well, there’s been a fair amount of snow already in the higher climes and it does tend to turn into ice, or as some wags call it “Sierra Cement”.

        1. JBird

          I have been told that some trees have had a hard with the heavy rains because they were all open for any water after 4-5 years of almost nothing. I guess like the frozen Americans mentioned above.

          Also there have been some big, although no were as big floods back in the 80s. It was fun in the interesting sort of way to see the creek go from half a foot to like fifteen feet.

      1. Wukchumni

        The flipside to extreme flooding in California is…

        …a couple of lengthy droughts lasting 200 years and another 140 years, which are sandwiched inbetween massive 1 year floods in 603, 1029 & 1418.

        Having dived some 400 high-altitude lakes over the course of 30 years — often reciting a protective Washoe prayer beforehand — Caterino, director of the Lake Tahoe-based environmental nonprofit Alpengroup, doesn’t shy away from occupational hazards. He surfaced a few minutes later, branch in hand. Even though the tree it came from had been stewing underwater for 800 years, it still smelled pungently of sap.

        This botanic relic is one of several medieval trees, ranging from 68 to 100 feet tall, standing upright at the bottom of the lake. They grew during a 200-year megadrought in the Sierra Nevada between the 9th and 12th centuries, when precipitation in the area fell to less than 60 percent of the average between 1969 and 1992. Fallen Leaf Lake dropped about 150 to 200 feet below its current level, allowing the trees to grow above the lower shoreline. In the wetter years that followed, the lake quickly refilled, drowning the trees and sealing them in a liquid catacomb, safe from insects and fungi in the deep, low-oxygen water. There are also three older trees, which drowned between 18 and 35 centuries ago, standing upright on the lake floor, which suggests that severe droughts struck even further back in time.

        The medieval trees’ existence adds to the body of research documenting the Sierra Nevada’s past megadroughts. Researchers have found stumps of long-dead trees in rivers, lakes and marshes in the region, indicating not one, but two medieval megadroughts — the other lasting about 140 years in the 13th and 14th centuries, dwarfing the 20th century’s Dust Bowl. Such megadroughts are a frightening prospect, and it’s possible they could strike again.

  3. DanB

    Re: the article, “Is This the End of the NFL?” The author writes, “There was a time, not long ago, when the NFL was the most unifying public institution we had.” And a few sentences later he laments, “But the fact that we’re even framing this in political terms — the idea that a game in which people throw a ball and tackle each other has somehow become another thing for us all to yell at each other about from our ideological corners — is a large part of the problem.” I do not see this s a problem. Rather, this unfolding shift reflects a transformation from defining football as a Durkheimian phenomenon –where football reinforces the feeling of a sacred sector of society where all citizens could be united- to a Marxist phenomenon of football as a microcosm of larger unresolved and poorly addressed socioeconomic conflicts.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If the new Marxist phenomenon of football can’t keep losing existing fans, will the end come soon?

    2. JTMcPhee

      NFL Fooghbouw (“gh” like in “through”, in the common pronunciation where I live) is in no danger of being “ended.” The vast public subsidies continue to flow, and a sufficient moiety of humans, the ones that used to go to state fairs to see the staged train wrecks,, and wail over the carcass of Dale Earnhart, dead of a blunt force injury to his skull,,%20dale_report.pdf, will pay their tribal dues to “root” for their (sic, except maybe Green Bay) teams. The sky’s the limit on rent for Skyboxes.

      And as one of the owners of the Tampa Bay Rays said, in their last effort to stick the area with a billion dollar debt for a “world-class new stadium,” “The stadium will be a place for the rich to go and be seen. the poor can stay home and watch on TV.”

      No tears from me, a former Bears fan and kid who played Fooghbouw from age 9 through high school — my idols were Dick Butkus and Doug Buffone, people like that, hard-hitters with no regard for self as they slammed and hurtled and pounded those who dared try to advance into “their” territory…

      Nah, don’t worry about the NFL. The Owners got it covered. Just like the MIC and its pseudopodia…

      1. TK421

        NFL Fooghbouw (“gh” like in “through”, in the common pronunciation where I live)

        But we don’t live where you live. So use English.

        1. Alex Morfesis

          Use english ? Watts datt ? Some modern contraption presented as fact to those unwashed who bother not with history…

          less than half of “france” spoke “french” when lincoln was trying to figure out how he became president in the first place…

          Tend not much to understand ellenes here in tarpon when they start rambling in their turkish greek…my fam being from the island of ithaki tend to sound more venetian and please dont ask me to translate for someone speaking cypriot…

          technically greek…
          phonetically…not so much…

    3. barrisj

      The Pentagon has now for several seasons showered money on the NFL for their fatuous “patriotic” displays of gigantic American flags and US military colour-guards for pre-game ceremonies, followed by small flags on players’ and coaches’ uniforms/clothing, then dragging the players out of the locker-rooms for playing of the Anthem beginning back in 2009, and, of course, the never-ending “salute to service” business, with everybody donning military-style “camo” gear in an orgy of fealty to “our troops”. It was the express intent of the NFL to strongly link professional football with military “warrior” culture to insure fan loyalty to the brand…thus the spectacle of the First Moron calling out players who “kneeled” during the playing of the Anthem as being “disrespectful of our men and women in uniform and of our flag” rubbish. Never underestimate the appeal of cheap and infantilizing “patriotic pageantry” to keep the masses in a propagandized state of ignorance.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Funny that you should mention them. The Spartans carried a symbol on their shields in the form of an upside down “V” (lambda) so that everybody would know who they were dealing with. Guess which symbol appeared on the sides of US tanks years ago? And Israeli tanks too for that matter.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    New species can develop in as little as two generations, Galapagos study finds Science Daily

    This is really interesting, although I wonder if the scientists are over-interpreting what some would regard as just a local hybrid, not a real species.

    In Dublin there is a beach/sand spit called Bull Island, which grew from around 1800 from the construction of harbour walls (designed by Capt. Bligh of Mutiny on the Bounty fame). Its about 2 miles long by half a mile wide. In the 1960’s it was reported that a new species of mouse was discovered on it – a sandy colour variation of the common field mouse. It presumably evolved there in isolation and was considered interesting as it could only have started evolving from the early 19th Century,when the sandspit grew in isolation. Sadly, in the early 1970’s a road causeway was built linking it to the mainland, resulting in the disappearance of the sandy coloured mouse in favour of its dun coloured city cousins.

    At the time, it wasn’t considered a loss, as it was considered just a localised varient, like different coloured moths in different areas. But looking at research like this, maybe that mouse was a unique and new species. Its too late to know now, its long gone.

    1. HopeLB

      A few of our friends’ children were born with an extra ear flap then I heard from a nurse that it is not uncommon. They all had the extra ears surgically removed. Maybe, these would have allowed them to hear what’s coming ove the WIFi directly? Or heard the aliens directly? Or increased empathy? Funny to think that pediatric surgeons could be stopping human evolution in its tracks.

      1. dcrane

        Funny to think that pediatric surgeons could be stopping human evolution in its tracks.

        More like changing its direction.

      2. Procopius

        Pfui. Surgically removing superfluous flaps of skin no more interferes with evolution than infant circumcision does. Unless you believe Lysenko, of course.

    2. tiebie66

      Interesting how quickly that happens and especially fascinating how we believe that humans cannot speciate or subspeciate.

      1. JBird

        It’s not always a sharp distinction between species or subspecies so it becomes a judgement call and many many papers papers and whole careers arise from the arguments.

        Just look at Neanderthals. Are they Homo sapien neaderthalensis which is a subspecies of our species, or are they Homo neanderthalensis, a separate species. Even with the latest genetic studies you could still make either case.

    3. Yves Smith

      What makes a species a species is the inability to breed with other similar critters and produce fertile offspring.

      I was very pleased with myself on an Alaska cruise when the nature expert said there are two different types of orcas, ones that hang around specific areas and the other type which travels widely (there were terms of art I have since forgotten). She made it clear they really do not mix.

      I said, “Well, are they different species?”

      She looked at me like I was nuts.

      It was determined a few years later that they were, they can’t interbreed despite looking indistinguishable to humans.

      1. JBird

        If two individuals cannot at all they are different species. What do you do those can, if they are put together in a cage, but who almost never meet in the wild? Species can be separated by habitat, feeding patterns, mating habits, sheer distance. What about those Galapagos finches? Grizzlies and Polar bears are considered different but can mate.

        The real fun is in paleontology, as you noted, just because something looks the same doesn’t mean that they are the same species. The very passionate debate on Neaderthals and Cro Magnon has been interesting. Despite the Neanderthal and/or Denisovan DNA in all populations outside of Africa the debate is whether the relationship was like that of those Grizzly-Polar Bear hybrids or more like the different varieties of Brown bears. It looks like the two groups of humans were juuuust about genetically incompatible, but we both almost certainly have some Neanderthal ancestors. For some reason the greatest admixture is in Italy. Then there is the twist of looking like some ancestral species separating for a few hundred thousand years and then mixing again. Although we’d need DNA to be sure.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        Your definition of a species is what I’m familiar with too however from the article –

        …the newcomer belonging to one species mated with a member of another species resident on the island, giving rise to a new species that today consists of roughly 30 individuals.

        So if two separate species were able to interbreed, were they really different species to begin with or just interspecies variants? Or are they using a different definition of species?

        1. JBird

          By strict definition any individuals able to interbreed are of the same species, but functionally it can be an absurd definition. The finch new commer would have mated only with a member of his own designated species except there wasn’t any around. It was the female ground finch or nobody.

          Functionally different species but able to interbreed. Same species or different?

  5. Pogonip

    Re the odd-eyed brown dog from a few days ago: I’m almost sure he’s an Australian Shepherd, a breed known for odd eyes and beautiful colors.

    It seems like most of the prettiest dog breeds–Australian Shepherds, huskies, Malamutes–are unsuitable to be pets! They’re all workaholic dogs that want outside jobs. Darn it. I guess there’s always the pretty little Papillon.

    1. Wukchumni

      Here @ the all cats and no cattle ranch, we bark up a different tree, and love the idea you can leave felines to their own devices for days @ a time, but you can’t do that with a dog, nor can you take them into the backcountry of the National Park, although were things to change along those lines, we’d love to have a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, which is a bit of a workaholic, with a perm that’s waterproof. I fell in love with the breed when I saw my first one.

      Anybody own one here?

      1. Savedbyirony

        My family has had three Chessies over the years; Sadie, Ginger and Riley. They tend to be intelligent dogs with a bit of a stubborn streak and very sturdy, strong and full of heart/determination. A Chessie on a mission will not quit. All our dogs hunted in the fall and could handle the coldest and roughest of waters. Swimming is absolutely what a Chessie loves to do and i would not recommend the breed to anyone who did not have a swimming hole readily available or to a first time dog owner. Just too much dog. But, as long as Chessies are regularly exercised, they make companionable and calm indoor dogs. They are very good with their families but can be stoic and stand-offish with others and need plenty of early socializing. The coat is very low maintenance but due to the oils in it tends to have a distinct musky smell that some people do not like. (It is noticeable but never bothered me.) Over all, I admire this breed (and i loved those dogs) but they really belong in a waterfowl hunting environment to be at their happiest.

        Now we actually have a German Shepherd, Bella. Great dog and so easily trainable. While Chessies can be trained, our GSD has always wanted to be trained and work on something together with us so we do agility with her. She is like velcro and a wonderful companion/watch dog. And yes, i would agree that a Chesapeake Bay Retriever of similar weight to a GSD would probably win in a fight; partly because they are so solid and strong, but mostly because a Chessie would either be in it to win or die trying.

        By the way, we originally went with a Chessie as a hunting retriever over a Lab because of dog breeding. Chessies are not nearly as popular as Labs so they are not as compromised by poor breeding (yet). But they still tend to have hip problems.

        1. Wukchumni

          Thanks for all the info, i’ve been reading up on them, and there’s plenty of swimming & hiking possibilities here, and a number of people we met had their dogs @ Arizona hot springs on the Colorado River last week when we were kayaking & then afterwards @ Saline Valley hot springs, making me envious.

          1. savedbyirony

            Your welcome. They are wonderful dogs and i enjoy any opportunity to sing their praises. For anyone with a compatible lifestyle and high energy level, they can be terrific pets.

    2. Yves Smith

      I don’t think the dog was odd eyed. The photo was not Photoshopped but I think it was the light from a flash. Cats will get super blue eyes with certain flashes, although much more so with old fashioned film than digital cameras.

  6. PlutoniumKun

    Sinai’s undeclared war Le Monde Diplomatique

    Final paragraph:

    ABM has now turned away from Al-Qaida to form an alliance with the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL or ISIS). Ferocious oppression by the Egyptian and Israeli authorities has produced a new generation of fighters, motivated more by a thirst for revenge than by ideology.

    It seems long term oppression of the Bedouin people (this seems universal right across the region, from Jordan and Israel through to Egypt) seems to be about to spring a nasty surprise on everyone. I wouldn’t be surprised if an open civil war in the Sinai will be the next big problem in the Middle East. Its already very nasty and about to get much worse.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In general, it depends.

      One hundred years ago, maybe, the same people had not desire to kill you, or maybe 50 or 200 years ago.

      So, it’s not always they want to, and it’s possible to work something out to set that aside, for however long, or maybe not. It depends.

      1. dcblogger

        Heather Heyer was murdered by Trump supporters. You can’t honor her life by making a coalition with Nazis.

        1. Lord Koos

          Not every Trump supporter is a Nazi, that’s quite a leap. The real Nazis number very few but are very noisy.

                1. todde

                  So have we ended the debate about joining a 3rd party’s versus taking over the Democrats?

                  because every time I advocate for abandoning the Democrat party I get push back.

              1. JBird

                Some of those “Nazis” protestors were the same thing as those Russian “volunteers” fighting in the Donbass in eastern Ukraine.

      2. Procopius

        There are bad people in the world who want to kill us, so, of course, we have to kill them. Sometimes mistakes are made, and we kill people who didn’t want to kill us. Then all their friends and relatives want to kill us.

        Saw this somewere on the internet in 2003.

    2. todde

      and the Soviet-Western Alliance in World War II?

      that was a coalition of people intent who wanted to kill each other, and had in the very recent past.

  7. el_tel

    re mood disorder electrical treatment

    The general approach — using a brain implant to deliver electric pulses that alter neural activity — is known as deep-brain stimulation. It is used to treat movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, but has been less successful when tested against mood disorders

    Hmmm. Since some of the more successful pharmaceutical treatments for only certain variants of mood instability are also used (and were initially developed) for things like Parkinson’s/epilepsy, I remain to be convinced about just how generalisable this will turn out to be. I think the title (from sub-editor?) is slightly optimistic/journalistic. Mood disorders come in a variety of types (dependent/avoidant/narcissistic being but three of many) and are often (1) hard-wired due to childhood events; (2) understood to different degrees – and treatable to different extents. Not ruling this out but think the study has been over-hyped a little. I suspect at the end of the day they might have an intervention which “works” in just one or two mental illnesses (those perhaps most amenable to the conditions they really seem to be “getting some success in” – Parkinson’s/epilepsy) but which doesn’t work otherwise – they already refer to treatment failures (in one of the two groups at least) in treating depression.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina


      are personality, not mood, disorders. They are notoriously resistant to treatment of any kind and while the diagnosis requires a fixed pattern of behavior over many years and hence is not supposed to be given to a child, I have never heard them described as hard wired.

      Just clarifying

      1. el_tel

        OK sorry, slack with terminology there – but they frequently go hand in hand and from clinicians I’ve worked with, addressing a mood disorder is much more difficult if a personality disorder is not managed to some extent.

  8. semiconscious

    Readers Accuse Us of Normalizing a Nazi Sympathizer; We Respond:

    Who were those people? We assigned Richard Fausset, one of our smartest thinkers and best writers, to profile one of the far-right foot soldiers at the rally. We ended up settling on Mr. Hovater, who, it turned out, was a few years older than another Ohio man, James Alex Fields Jr., who was charged with murder after the authorities said he drove his car into a crowd of protesters, killing Ms. Heyer…

    smh :) …

    1. Wukchumni

      My father spent years 14 through 20 under the jackboot in Prague, and he seldom talked about it, as the horrors were all too real and i’d guess his thinking was if you didn’t bring it up, it was easier to forget.

      It would come out in odd occasions, such as when we were watching Hogan’s Heroes-which he couldn’t stomach, and we got used to him occasionally popping into the living room saying something along the lines of “they weren’t dumb, you know” or words to that effect.

      I was walking with him in Prague around the turn of the century, and he rather casually pointed to a nondescript wall a few hundred feet away, and told me, “that’s where they lined up 10 people to be shot if a member of the Wehrmacht ended up with a shiv in his back floating down the Vltava or the like” and it had the effect of somebody that never uses a swear word ever, until that one day they let loose.

      There’s no redeeming value to anything Nazi, and the grey lady only realized it after the fact, sadly.

    2. Craig H.

      It may be that the writer didn’t give one minute of thought to the idea that any reader would see the subject as even possibly sympathetic. He is a nazi. He has a little bookshelf and they have a photograph of Mein Kampf and two David Irving titles.

      On the other hand the story was their top trending story all day long. The management might have heaved a sigh of relief when that inbred celebrity announced his engagement and grabbed the top of the clickbait chart.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I was thinking, when reading (after a first few sentences, never finishing the article), how does a doctor figure out what to charge his or her patients, to no lose money from seeing them?

      1. Junea

        CMS assigns a non-negotiable fee to all procedure codes based on geographic location. You can only charge what they allow. Those who are unable to keep up with this bureaucratic process are routinely penalized financially (meaning their fee scales are reduced by say 2 percent). Which, believe you me, is more annoying than a low fee you can count on. Medicare used to be pretty simple, they paid what they paid. Many docs kept on the panels to avoid abandoning elderly and disabled patients and now are being severely punished with this kind of complexity. It clearly favors the large groups top heavy with administrators and support staff to do all the data entry and reporting. Solo docs are going to be completely out of the system which appears to be an acceptable loss to those in charge but perhaps not to the patients….

      2. Cynthia

        Unfortunately, CMS’s Big MACRA latest move will cause administrative costs for delivering care to go up even further and it will cause even more consolidation in the provider space, which, in turn, will further enrich BIG Corporate HealthCare. Not only will consumers of healthcare end up with less bang for their buck, but they’ll have less choice in the matter. Look to see even more Medicare dollars being shifted away from the bedside to the back office, where a vast army of care coordinators of all stripes and colors, led by the Mandarins of Throughput Technologies, no doubt, or as Dr Roy Poses like to refer to them as “generic managers,” are being monetarily “incentivized” to control and dictate how doctors and nurses practice their craft, every single step of the way, robotic-like, if you will.

        Furthermore, this will “incentivize” the “generic manager” class to to devise even more corrupt ways , i.e. “controlled fraud,” to game and loot the Medicare system, only to enrich themselves at the patient’s expense, of course. What is most certain to happen is that NONE of the “incentivize” money from Medicare will be shifted back to the bedside, where it can do the most good and in the most cost effective way in terms of providing care for patients.

        Thanks to Big MACRO getting bigger, much bigger, patient care will only get worse, much worse, as healthcare costs soar even higher, much higher. Thanks to the neoliberal powers-that-be at the CMS, we are fast approaching Banana Republic-land in terms of healthcare delivery in this country!

    2. el_tel

      Dean Baker is conveniently side-stepping one of the MAJOR tenets of how single-payer works in so many other countries – one that might (I couldn’t say) be anethema to a more individualistic society like the US. In the UK/Canada etc, the cost-effectiveness of a treatment is calculated using the values of the POPULATION (on non-MMT grounds that they “pay” for it) – thus you as a patient might rate your depression as “extreme” but whether this is the same/better/worse than “extreme pain” is NOT decided by you. It is decided by the population average (which, let’s be clear, contains a whole lot of people who have experienced only one/neither condition). And what creates a major headache is that patients who have experienced both typically regard extreme depression to be worse than extreme pain (and hence naturally with more potential benefit in treating), people who’ve experienced neither put them the other way round. The “valuation surveys” get Jo(e) public to imagine being in various health-impaired states to get their values. This is a major headache in health economics and one that us non-Americans still grapple with. You can’t just “make assumptions” for the US based on UK/Canada whose system could be a fundamentally different “flavour” of single payer to that which might be acceptable to the typical American.

      1. diptherio

        The “valuation surveys” get Jo(e) public to imagine being in various health-impaired states to get their values.

        This is the same type of muddled thinking that abounds in environmental economics as well (or did when I was paying close attention). Ask people a hypothetical question about an imaginary state of the world and then use the average of their answers to back a nonsensical claim like “a clean stream is worth $X more than a polluted one.”

        So, in the case of valuing different types of health care, your typical economist would have deploy a survey with questions like:

        A. Imagine you have extreme depression (whether or not you’ve ever been depressed). How much would you be willing to pay to get relief from your depression?

        B. Imagine you have excruciating physical pain. How much would you be willing to pay to get relief from your pain?

        Now simply take the average answers to both questions and use those numbers to set reimbursement rates for care providers…’cause economics is totally a science.

        1. el_tel

          Well, you’re entirely correct in traditional (“welfarist”) economics (which dominates environmental and transport economics). In “extra-welfarist” economics (which dominates health in single-payer countries), price no longer defines worth – “health” is regarded as “special” – all well and good so far and I regard myself as an extra-welfarist to the core when it comes to health. But the types of comparison you put forward are not a million miles from what goes on in health. But instead of asking “how much would you pay in money” they ask “how much would you pay in healthy life years”. The rationale was originally that a treatment that kept you alive longer (say, cancer treatment) could be compared with one that merely improved your quality of life (say, joint replacement). You have a “common denominator” of health. Again, all well and good in theory.

          The devil is in the detail. Once you delve into specific answers all sorts of nasties arise. Then taking averages compounds the problem. UK/Canada etc have (conveniently) papered over these, and never put the principles “to the vote” in any explicit way. Thus perennial problems of “Mrs Smith denied a life-saving cancer treatment!” hit the headlines. The question never asked by reporters is “OK, what treatment do we DISPLACE to give her that if it costs a huge amount to – maybe – give her an extra year of life?” Very difficult philosophical/ethical/financial issues that the elites would rather we as the public not get into.

          1. diptherio

            Most journalists don’t seem to be big on nuance…

            Here in the US, lots of people are denied life-saving care, simply because they can’t pay for it, and know it, and so quietly die in silence. I guess it’s more of a defacto denial of care, but the end result is the same. And, of course, those people don’t rate headlines.

          2. diptherio

            But instead of asking “how much would you pay in money” they ask “how much would you pay in healthy life years”. The rationale was originally that a treatment that kept you alive longer (say, cancer treatment) could be compared with one that merely improved your quality of life (say, joint replacement). You have a “common denominator” of health.

            Thanks for sharing the detail. I would say there is still an incommensurability problem here. Assuming the existence of an abstract concept (health) and asking people to think about trade-offs (in terms of that concept) in a way that never occurs in real life. Why should we assume that mental health, physical health, emotional health, etc. share some common denominator that allows them to be weighed against eachother?

            The extra-welfarist approach appears to be avoiding some of the problems with traditional cost-benefit analysis, but I feel like they’re still making some fundamentally unsound assumptions.

            1. el_tel

              You do identify some key problems with the approach.
              Unfortunately an explanation is really only done justice by a post (going beyond NC remit) rather than a comment.

              1. witters

                Q: “How much would you pay/years would you give up, to avoid ever having to answer a Contingent Valuation Survey Question?”

          1. diptherio

            Yup. Just one of many problems with the whole way of going about assigning monetary values to non-monetary ones.

        2. Cynthia

          Medicare uses “valuation surveys,” i.e “patient satisfaction surveys,” not to improve care, but to reduce costs. They know that it’s next to impossible for hospitals to score high enough on, say, patient satisfaction surveys to get a bonus check, which is their way of reducing Medicare costs. So whenever a hospital doesn’t score high enough on survey results to get a bonus, Medicare can claim that it’s due to the hospital’s inability to improve their care.

          Keep in mind, Medicare’s primary goal is to reduce costs without making themselves look like the villain. Instead, they’d rather make the hospitals look like the villain. Which is why it would be better in terms of reducing costs, as well as a nice show of honesty and transparency, for Medicare to simply make across-the-board cuts, or at least make cuts in areas where hospitals are grossly overpaid, like radiological, OR and ER services, to name a few. That would be better than Medicare making hospitals waste an obscene amount of money jumping through a near bottomless pit of hoops and loops, if you will.

          What’s worse is that even if hospitals do manage to get their bonus check from Medicare, most of the bonus money is spent on paying for administrative costs that are spiraling out of control. If Medicare had any sense and really cared about improving care, they would require hospitals to spend most of their bonus check on direct patient care. Needless to say, this would be a huge step towards reducing administrative costs incurred by hospitals.

          1. el_tel

            just as point of clarification US medicare ‘valuation surveys’ have nothing whatsoever in common with what the single payer world valuation surveys do. The latter are not about satisfaction but about what trade offs you would make between competing objectives. They are not used to reduce costs but to help evaluate what the additional cost per Quality-Adjusted-LifeYear gained is.

            1. Cynthia

              Neoliberals love to add bonuses and penalties to any payment system. No doubt that this adds unnecessary complexity to doing business, including the business of healthcare system, which, in turn, is the primary reason why administrative costs in healthcare are much higher than they really ought to be. MACRO, meaningful use and other sorts neoliberal garbage invented by Medicare is largely why I despise any attempt at healthcare reform, chief among them ObamaCare. Hopefully single payer is completely devoid of this. If it is not, I’d rather not have it.

              It’s somewhat of a right-wing talking point to criticize CMS for imposing an enormous regulatory burden on our healthcare system. However, most of these regulations, particularly the most recent ones, don’t serve any purpose other than to enrich an already fat and bloated regulatory industry and to keep the revolving door spinning unabatedly between government and industry. Which is why anyone on the Left, myself include, should feel perfectly comfortable supporting the Right in this respect.

    3. marym

      PNHP has long made reference to cost studies by Baker (2008) and Friedman (2013). Here’s the link to the Friedman PDF. For years, I’ve never found any link or search results for a Baker study. The CEPR site references a newspaper article on the subject, but again no link.

      I’m not an economist, and that post does go on and on, but would it even pass the Naked Capitalism “no strawmen” test? If M4A is the only insurance there’s no need to “prohibit doctors from practicing outside the system” or worrying that they’ll “opt out” of the system. Sure let the…. what 11 gazillionaires who can afford it go to their concierge doctors. The rest of us should be just fine. And why is it a problem to come up with a “menu” of funding options at this point?

      I’m always suspicious of talk of the European multi-payer system of highly regulated not-for-profit private insurers. That was sort of a justification for the ACA, which of course kept the profits but not the regs.

      A serious issue with any incremental approach is that it will contain multiple points of failure and multiple points for shenanigans.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Thanks, mm! Your points are all well taken. Highly regulated private insurers just aren’t a good fit for our pathologically individualistic culture.

        And speaking of strawmen, Baker claims that providers will not be allowed to practice outside the single payer system, when in fact it is insurers who will be so constrained? As you note, there will be concierge medicine.

        Now, I don’t know whether there is therefore a risk of a two-tiered system developing in which somehow the public system is starved by the private one, as is happening in education.

        There is generally a lot of hand-wringing going around (agree the objection to a menu of financing options is silly), but what surprised me most about this was the source.

        As to Friedman, I am a little disappointed in him right now too. He hasn’t updated that paper since 2013, and the 2% admin cost of Medicare he keeps touting has been debunked–I think it is accepted even by many in the single payer community to be more like twice that.

        I don’t want to fight propaganda with propaganda, but I am not an economist either and I feel like we are not getting the guidance we need.

  9. The Rev Kev

    Brussels rattled as China reaches out to eastern Europe

    This I find to be a very interesting story. For the past year or two the eastern European countries have been threatened by the EU as it is demanded that they take in tens of thousands of immigrants that Merkel invited into Europe or suffer massive financial penalties. And the EU is certainly not respecting them as real countries and is ignoring their concerns. I guess that the eastern Europeans, who are finding themselves holding the short end in the EU deal, figured that having China as a partner is a win-win situation for them. If China is offering to build the roads, railways, power stations and other infrastructure in eastern Europe, then isn’t that what the EU should have been doing all along?
    It sounds like the EU is complaining too that it does not have veto powers over all these investments but why would you give them that? This article makes plain that people like Jean-Claude Juncker want that veto power but all the countries in the EU are saying “Oh, hell no!”. I am guessing that the Chinese recognize that this is the other end of their Silk Road initiative and do not want it to end in a place full of dirt roads and no ports or enough power. Certainly the eastern European countries cannot be happy with the Russian sanctions which were made as part of a political decision in Brussels and Washington without their having no real say. Having China there might help restore normal relations with Russia.
    And just to spice things up, it appears that Rex Tillerson’s State Department has announced this week that he is spending $700,000 in the Hungarian media to defeat Hungary’s Victor Orban as he is defying EU and US wishes. I do not know if this is true of the other eastern European countries but would not be surprised if it turned out so. Seems those eastern Europeans need a big friend and China fits the bill. Wait, spending money in a foreign country to influence an election? Now where have I heard that one before?

    1. visitor

      Certainly the eastern European countries cannot be happy with the Russian sanctions which were made as part of a political decision in Brussels and Washington without their having no real say.

      As far as I know, anti-Russian sanctions were decided and repeatedly renewed by the EU council of ministers, and no EU country ever opposed them.

      If Eastern European countries had been so unhappy with those sanctions, they should have refused to prolong them each time the renewal was tabled. They had the power to end those sanctions, but never did.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, it is the East European countries that have been most enthusiastic about sanctions on Russia. In many ways, the Eastern Europe countries have pulled the EU in a much more anti-Russian direction than the western core countries would like.

    2. Sid Finster

      From what I understand, the EU is not happy about the latest round of anti-Russian sanctions, but as thoroughly emasculated Europeans, they have no response but to grumble and do as they are told.

  10. el_tel

    re: MACRA surprise on costs

    errrr, so let me get this straight. You want to judge based on costs, but dare not utter the term “cost-effectiveness” – the mainstay of single payer throughout most of the world that uses that. “Costs” is all about accounting, cost-effectiveness is a whole different ball-game, one that has proven anathema in the US ever since the (pretty awful) Oregon experiment – a study done long before much of the principles/pitfalls/advantages of it were ever known (and addressed over a 20-30 year period elsewhere). *Smacks head*.

    1. vlade

      From the cost-effectivness perspective, and TBH, in a lot of cases from human perspective too, paliative care in lot of cases make much more sense than try-to-preserve-life at any cost. Try selling that to most public though..

      1. el_Tel

        I have to be careful what I say here. I don’t want to get in trouble for quoting my own research like on my last profile. But what I found was not inconsistent with an increasing body of research showing that your first statement is not only true but increasingly acceptable to a large majority (around 90% in Australia, for instance) of people. When people stop relying on episodes of Casualty/ER for their info (where most patients miraculously pull through) and instead see real statistics, talk to ICU physicians, those involved with end-of-life care and those who specialise in drawing up advance care directives (ACDs), they tend to favour palliative and similar care over the “throw the kitchen sink at me to keep me alive in a horrible state of quality of life for the sake of an extra 3-4 days of life”.

        The hippocratic oath here works (arguably) in a perverse way – keep the patient alive (unless they are one of the all too few with an ACD). Thus a large number of patients increase costs AND don’t get what they’d really want. Addressing this is something I’ve tried (but largely failed) to address *shrug*. You win some you lose some!

        1. Moocao

          I wholeheartedly agree with your statement. Nothing like seeing an elderly patient held hostage by the promise that one more intervention will make them ‘turn the corner’ and see their children and grandchildren again, only to see them suffer 2 agonizing weeks on a ventilator with the eventual declaration that ‘it is the end of the road’. These patients could have had those 2 weeks (or more) with their families in hospice care, in their environment, with loving support, but instead were ‘given the choice’ to die alone in the hospital as a result of ‘complications’. It is sad when I say this happens more often than you can imagine, all because we put medicine on impossible pedestals due to the ‘ER’ effect.

          1. Lee

            I highly recommend his book. I had power of attorney for both of my parents, and made the call in terminating their care in accordance with their wishes. There were some pesky relatives who excoriated me in both instances. Reading Dr.Gawande’s book was helpful in dealing with lingering doubts about my decision. Similarly, I have made advanced directives in my own case so as to save myself from some of the horrors of heroic measures and demeaning elder care so well described and critiqued by Dr. Gawande.

  11. Eureka Springs

    American policy totally failed in Syria — let’s be thankful Salon


    American policy totally failed in Syria — let Bush Cheney Rice Obama Clinton Kerry all of Congress get on their knees in shame and apologize profusely to the entire world.

    1. Louis Fyne

      The buck stops at the Oval Office.

      Obama’s foreign policy failed in Syria and doubled down on neocon regime change.

      Obama could’ve said, “no guys GW stirred the hornet’s nest enough. Let’s make America great again”

      The Left can’t conveniently forget about the 8 years that created the petri dish that opened the door for Trump, then moan about Trump

    2. George Lane

      Good on Salon for publishing this piece by Patrick Lawrence which provides the liberal readership with a sober take on American foreign policy that has been all too often missing in these kinds of outlets, particularly under Obama, where liberals got on board with the neocon agenda. It even provides from absolutely blasphemous thoughts, that Trump may actually still want/be able to reach some sort of détente with Russia, and that this would be a good thing. This is in direct contradiction with Trump’s endless sabre-rattling and demonization of Iran, his infinite praise of Israel and MbS, his ramping up of civilian deaths through drone strikes, his continuing support for the genocide in Yemen, and his general boorishness, but then you have these meetings in Vietnam and hour-long phone calls on Syria and Ukraine – I really don’t know what to think on this question… although my general impression is that it will be more of the same imperialist policies. Fellow NC readers’ inputs would be appreciated.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        If World Peace broke out the American economy would collapse in a heap, so all presidents since Eisenhower have made sure it doesn’t (Jimmy Carter managed four years without a single shot fired in anger which was quite an accomplishment, but even he had his various spooks and underhanded stuff). Clinton and Bush figured out how not to pay the Peace Dividend (that was a near-miss), and the rest of the Oval Office occupants fell into line, our former Mellifluous Melanoderm Dissembler-in-Chief even found a way to commit to $1 *trillion* to brand-new nuclear bombs (I can’t recall whether that was before or after he shed a tear at Hiroshima).

  12. flora

    re: Readers Accuse Us of Normalizing a Nazi Sympathizer, We Respond – NYT

    tsk. A new, highly regarded movie, “Darkest Hour”, is being released in late Nov/ early Dec.

    The NYT is just trying to cash in on the movie’s buzz, imo. Loook! They found Nazis ! …. in Ohio! (flyover country) Oh, where can they find our Churchill? /s

  13. Jim Haygood

    From Reuters:

    Bitcoin surged as much as 4.5 percent on Monday to trade at $9,721 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange, before easing back to around $9,600.

    U.S. bitcoin wallet provider Coinbase added 300,000 users between Wednesday and Sunday, during the Thanksgiving holiday. The total number of Coinbase users globally now stands at 13.3 million.

    Bitcoin’s biggest rival, ether — sometimes referred to as Ethereum, the name for the project behind it — has seen even more stratospheric gains this year, up more than 6,000 percent. It hit an all-time high just below $500 on Monday, with its market cap nearing $50 billion.

    Cryptocurrencies can be seen as an echo bubble of Bubble I in 1999, when internet IPOs (many of which would burn through their cash in a few months) were caroming off the walls like popcorn.

    But in a related echo bubble, the internet survivors — the Five Horsemen of the Techpocalypse — are now among the largest cap shares on the planet.

    As is fitting for the greatest bubble EVAH, gains in cryptocurrencies — now approaching a million-to-one for Bitcoin since its inception in the ashes of the financial crisis — make hot stocks look like pokey relics from a bygone world of ox carts and mud huts.

    Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.

    1. Wukchumni

      My wife got headhunted and the internet concern paid for a flight up to the bay area and a night @ the Hilton in Oakland for an interview, in late 1999. She was nonplussed by them, but cordial and told them she’d think about their offer, although not really.

      We woke up the next morning with a note under our door, and the credit card they used to pay for the hotel room bounced, and the hotel demanded payment from us.

      It was truly a shoeshine boy moment, of sorts.

      1. barrisj

        The SF-based credit-card payment co. Square is getting hammered today on WS because an analyst reckoned that its recent runup was tied to a Bitcoin “connection”, and that Bitcoin is a yuuuge bubble ready to burst…just saying.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Let’s put to rest one theme circulating in the press: that Bitcoin is being “adopted”.
      Bitcoin is being owned as a speculative asset, not being “adopted” as the great new internet money. After 9 years there are just 300,000 Bitcoin addresses with > 1 Bitcoin.
      So where are Coinbase’s 13 million customers?
      Answer: they are customers of the Bitcoin bank called Coinbase. Coinbase owns Bitcoin on the network on their behalf

  14. allan

    “I envy New Yorkers who can visit MOMA”

    You shouldn’t. Big shows at museums in NYC are now post-smartphone dystopian hellscapes.
    Think the personal space of Times Square on New Year’s Eve,
    combined with at least one glowing screen between you and any artwork you’re trying to look at.

    Of course, just as in national parks, walking a few yards off the beaten path in MOMA or the Met
    can sometimes take you to tranquil, relatively uncrowded spaces.

  15. The Rev Kev

    In praise of minority government

    This is getting to be very common around the world and so of course I have my own idea about why. I call it the “invisible hand of the voter” effect. Agreed that in many western countries whether you vote for Party A of Party B, you are going to get identical economic policies as well as foreign policies. This is true of Republicans & Democrats in the US, LNP & Labour in Australia or Conservatives & Labour in the UK. Just to drive the point home, someone remarked that the Cabinet that Trump chose in the end would likely have been the very same people that Hillary would have chosen if she had won.
    I think that voters have learned that if, however, you chose in an election to get a result that will end in a minority government or hung parliament, then the country can still be governed and that there has to be actual debates about major policies that all sides have to consider. All an outright majority buys you is a government that does whatever it wants and never listens to the mug voters.
    I am not surprised about the panic in Germany mentioned. I visited there many times back in the eighties and one often saw the word “sicherheit” used again and again. It translates as security and it was a touchstone word in the German nation. Don’t get me wrong. I loved visiting that country but you heard that word often. Unfortunately, the word security is now proving a western obsession as we are discovering to our great cost.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      someone remarked that the Cabinet that Trump chose in the end would likely have been the very same people that Hillary would have chosen if she had won.

      C’mon, now. That someone “remarked” does not make it true. It doesn’t even make it wily or clever. You know this.

      While I didn’t vote for her (Sanders then Stein, tyvm), lets look at the cabinet. I’m using as scoring – Possibly (P), Similar but not this one (S), and No Fricking Way (NFW).

      State: Tillerson – NFW
      Treasury: Mnuchin – S (Goldman will have someone in there)
      Defense: Mattis – P
      Attorney General – NFW
      Interior – Zinke – NFW
      Agriculture – Perdue – NFW
      Commerce – S (Harvard, sigh)
      Labor – Acosta – S (Harvard, sigh)
      Health and Human Services – Hargan – S (Harvard, sigh)
      Housing and Human Development – Carson – NFW
      Transportation – Chao – S (Still, she’s Harvard, but hopefully the unions will say NFW)
      Energy – Perry – NFW
      Education – DeVos – NFW
      Veterans Affairs – Shulkin – P
      Homeland Security – Duke – P — note someone has edited her wikipedia entry to state “This hoe served as Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Management “. LOL.
      Chief of Staff – Kelly – S
      Trade Representative – Lighthizer – P
      Director of National Intelligence – Coats – S
      Ambassador to the United Nations – Haley – NFW
      Office of Management and Budget – Mulvaney – S (!!)
      CIA – Pompeo – NFW
      EPA – Pruitt – NFW
      Small Business Administration – McMahon – NFW (D apparatchik job)

      1. Spring Texan

        Yep, that statement about the cabinet is patently false (and I too didn’t vote for Clinton, why would I, in Texas? would have in a swing state)

        Your list shows an excellent, detailed grasp of reality.

        Although Mulvaney ought to be an NFW.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          Mulvaney was an S because I remember (a) her husband’s welfare reform, (b) Obama’s incessant striving for a grand bargain, and (c) her support of a balanced budget. “I believe in a balanced budget” – Source: Clinton-Lazio debate, Buffalo NY , Sep 13, 2000

      2. FluffytheObeseCat

        Remember that creature Trump originally tapped for Labor as well, Putzker or some such? Hillary Clinton, for all her flaws, wouldn’t have foisted a junk food wage theft king upon the Department of Labor.

        Sometimes the appointment of men who feel compelled to hide their disdain for us is…… as good as it gets.

      3. Pat

        I’m going to be the contrary one on a couple of your assessments. Certainly at first glance you might think DeVos or Haley were NFW, but in reality Clinton would have picked someone similar. I say this largely because frankly for the most part their policies are exactly the ones Clinton would have pursued just with someone with better credentials and perhaps more politically correct speech. I mean are either of them really from Obama’s Duncan and Powers? Certainly Powers and Haley fit right in with Clinton’s war mongering, and I don’t see any way she wasn’t going to pick over the carcass of public education as so many kill it with the help of policies from Duncan and now DeVos.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          I agree with you in that I think that any time you put Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power, or Nikki Haley in a room full of generals, they will immediately start a d*ck waving contest. And I don’t think Clinton would put a countervailing force in the role either.

          I’ll give you that.

          As for DeVos, don’t get me started. I lived in Grand Rapids for 3 years. Calvinists are insufferable. Rich Calvinists in particular can make a sane sedate man want to rip faces from skulls. NFW. Not even Hillary would dip into that cesspool. I have to believe that.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I don’t know why but Hillary certainly had a talent for surrounding herself with women that were all gung-ho on making wars. You think of women like Madeleine Albright, Samantha Power, Susan Rice, Michele Flournoy and Victoria Nuland. Somebody named them Hillary’s Harpies and in darker moments you have to wonder if the thought of war did not bother them so much as it would be mostly men getting killed. They certainly do not match the record of a Tulsi Gabbard who actually served in Iraq and lost friends there so knows what war is all about.

      4. The Rev Kev

        What you say may be true. However, back in 2008 when Obama was elected it turned out that his Cabinet was “selected” for him by Citigroup ( If John McCain had won the election, would his Cabinet have been much different from that as “suggested” by Citigroup?
        It would be fascinating to see the actual process of selecting a Cabinet at work. I have read your list (very Harvard heavy I see) and you wonder just how the hell someone like Niki Haley made the list but I would suggest she still would have been there in a Hillary list. I would go so far as to suggest that somewhere out there, is a list of the Cabinet for Hillary to adopt upon her ascension. Maybe one day it will pop up.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          That’s not my list – that’s Trump’s cabinet and assorted Senate-confirmed positions as it is today. Lots of Harvard on the list. Just as with Obama.

          Had a few typos/omissions:

          Attorney General – Sessions – NFW
          Commerce – Ross – S (Harvard, sigh)

  16. RabidGandhi

    I know every party has a pooper, that’s why they invited me, but… can we please hold the confetti in Chile?

    A generation later, the Chilean left has demonstrated its resiliency and indomitable spirit, organizing a surprise surge in Chile’s national elections, where the left-wing coalition Frente Amplio has taken 20.3% of the first round of presidential voting; this positions them to hold the balance of power in a presidency that may be taken by billionaire plutocrat Sebastian Pinera.

    Uh yeah, FA did indeed score an historic 20.3% and that is positive in that they will now have a real presence in the congress, but they garnered 1.3 million votes, which is pretty much what the left has recorded in the last two presidential elections. Their percentage is now higher because turnout this year hit another historical low[1]– and this is without accounting for population growth. Thus the “Mission Accomplished vs Libertarians” is premature to say the least.

    Secondly, the left always is always “positioned to hold the balance of power”, so nothing new there. This year they can once again can decide to support the rightwing Nueva Mayoría or to abstain and clear the path for ultra-rightwing Piñera.

    That said, I think its great that public healthcare and education are getting greater public voice. But the triumphant articles I’ve been seeing are hardly commensurate with the snail’s pace of Chilean politics.

    [1] Low turnout and recent elections elsewhere: compare and contrast.

      1. JEHR

        The point of being a billionaire is not to improve life for others but to gain as much power as humanly possible. There are some exceptions, of course.

        1. Vatch

          You are correct, of course. But there are plenty of ideologists who tell us that billionaires do provide benefits for society; the acolytes of Ayn Rand are examples of such confused people.

    1. TK421

      All no doubt true. To which I reply: so what? The purpose of an election isn’t to garner a lot of votes, or a percentage of total votes, but to gain seats in the congress.

    2. JohnnyGL

      Good stuff, RabidGandhi.

      I think the confetti was mostly brought out to celebrate that the left actually exists as a substantial voting block. :)

      “We exist” was the minimal lesson of the Sanders campaign, and the Melenchon campaign. Corbyn looks like the only one who’s likely to actually grab the reigns of government, soon.

      On a further depressing note, Brazilian politics looks full of reasons for despair. All the eggs are in Lula’s basket and the PT is talking about sewing up alliances with the PMDB, again. Really, people? Have you learned nothing from the last few years?

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    This City Hall, brought to you by Amazon Seattle Times

    I read this morning that, maybe, they are getting into the pharmacy business.

    A third HQ?

    As for city hall, with 58,000 workers plus family members, and the same stationed locally by its vendors to serve the corporation’s HQ, it’s possible they incorporate as a city themselves…a smart city even.

  18. DJG

    Fragments of Archilochus known primarily from quotations by other ancient writers
    πόλλ’ οἶδ’ ἀλώπηξ, ἐχῖνος δ’ἓν μέγα
    The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.

    –And many foxes know many, many things.
    –I’ve never examined the original: What is clever is how Archilochus places the fox and the hedgehog next to each other for contrast, something like:
    Many things knows the fox, the hedgehog but one thing, big.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I was maundering over the rebus of ‘many foxes’ slash ‘one hedgehog’.

      I came up with ‘modern management’.

    2. Donna

      I loved the fun children’s book How the Sun Was Brought Back to the Sky by Mirra Ginsburg published circa 1975. The hedgehog plays a prominent role in the rescue. Still have my copy from the Weekly Readers Club in my attic.

  19. Edward E

    How to attract foxes, badgers and hedgehogs to your gardens.

    Over the Thanksgiving break my deep woods neighbor showed me where rats are/were chewing on his house trying to get in out of the cold. The rodents even chewed the bottom three inches of the doggie door flap off the front door. They have done a lot of damage to his home in the past, causing him to replace wiring and insulation during an ongoing remodeling project this year.

    That is where fox friends come in, they are excellent at getting rid of the rats and mice before they get closer to home. I wouldn’t go letting them into the cabin but I really super enjoy them otherwise. Maybe some day they’ll let me give them salt water baths to help with mites, ticks and fleas.

    1. Lee

      Similarly, in the invertebrate realm, we allow spiders to proliferate in a window in a corner of our kitchen above our food waste bucket. They do a dandy job of keeping flies down, mitigating the creepy factor.

      As for the occasional rodent incursions, our pit bull is happy to receive them. Hunting and dispatching them is her favorite form of recreation.

  20. Wukchumni

    I used to get around 10 magazines back in the stone age, and now am down to just one-The New Yorker. There must be plenty of others in the same boat i’d guess. My mom is the only person I know that still subscribes to Time magazine, and if 92 year olds are the target audience, ye gads.

    So, why pay did the Kochs pay serious coin for an old horse & buggy?

    1. Tom Doak

      They are paying for the alias … so the news networks will attribute their pronouncements to Time Magazine instead of the Kochs. Just like Jeff Bezos.

      Plus they really want to be in charge of naming the Person of the Year!

    1. TK421

      “Bug”, huh? Yeah, I’m sure Amazon just hates the thought of being able to enter people’s homes at will ;)

  21. Ligurio

    Zizek is politically very smart when he is not trying to be too clever in theory:

    “To cut a long story short, there is no victory of the left without the broad alliance of all anti-establishment forces. One should never forget that our true enemy is the global capitalist establishment and not the new populist right which is merely a reaction to its impasses. “

    1. Deadl E Cheese

      You’re right. It’s very good and healthy for the left to invite a pack of Confederate-flag waving chuds who believe in tradwifes and white genocide, thus making everyone who’s not a straight white males steer well clear of their movement. Nothing will grow liberation faster than giving people who unironically say taxes are slavery a space to organize.

      1. dcblogger

        well said.

        Zizek has it exactly backwards, Trump supporters should get behind Bernie because he would actually make their life better. In fact he and Caitland Johnson seem to be engaged in a gaslight operation to undermine Bernie.

      2. HopeLB

        Why are you buying the Hillbot MSM’s line that all Trump voters are Confederate flag wavers? And why discount the fact that white men aren’t doing so well? Aren’t they even dying younger? I do see how ID politics have sort of sidelined them and their predicaments. And the military uses the rural/rust town white boys to fill their ranks. (My God, after these sentences, you’d almost think I hadn’t campaigned for Bernie and voted Stein!) Remember Trump stealing Bernie’s campaign lines/positions? I think it’s a great idea. The tricky part is getting the R’s to not view socialism as meaning communism; to assure them they won’t lose their frontier’s man patina . Maybe, call their government funded/co=op green infrastructure projects, Band of Brothers In the Wild?

    2. David

      One of the lessons of modern history is that people transition between what pundits think of as the Left and the Right quite easily, because they don’t necessarily see the distinction the same way that the pundits do. The essential distinction is between system and anti-system, and the essential question is whether the anti-system vote is captured by the Left or the Right. Recently, (and we saw this before in the 1930s) the anti-system vote has moved from the Left to the Right (e.g. in France former Communist voters are now voting National Front) because the Left is seen as supporting the system. If the Left can get its anti-system mojo back, there’s no reason why the process couldn’t be reversed, although I suspect in practice that the Left would rather lose than attract former rightists to its ranks.

    3. Charlie

      I was going to say be prepared to be hit with ad hominems calling Zizek racist and sexist by Clintonites, but it appears that has already been covered.

      Zizek is right though. In order to be more effective against the dying ideology of neoliberal economics (read Reagan trickle down nonsense with an “enlightened” twist), those being slaughtered by it will have to join forces.

      1. Buck Eschaton

        Maybe some just get caught up with the term alt-right. The Clintonites certainly work in tandem with the Republican neo-liberals, I mean they love those Romney voters. I think what Zizek and Caitlin Johnstone mean, to be more fair, is the anti-establishment Republicans. I think what they’re seeing is a lot of people getting over the libertarian non-sense that has so dominated the Republican party and those are the people they’re talking about.

        1. Ligurio

          Caitlin Johnson is entirely correct in writing what she did and, moreover, quite courageous for doing so. The faux moralism of the identitarian elites is more destructive in the long term than the obvious prejudices of the unenlightened. Taking offense to this statement is not an argument against its truth.

        2. Charlie

          The main beef with Caitlin’s suggestion was the inclusion of Cernovich, who had some very far out views ( he’s the “white genocide” guy), but he was willing to make some tradeoffs, such as single payer health care, for hard limits on immigration. That sent the Clintonites reeling. Getting rid of the trade agreements and wars that send refugees to the US for economic and physical safety? That’s off limits too.

          The pattern with Brexit, Bernie, Trump, etc., is when questioning the neo-liberal globalization system, racism becomes the charge. Because, you know, we just can’t limit the right of the professional class to add carbon to the atmosphere through unlimited travel anywhere they wish by airlines with a few extra paperwork steps. Or that questioning a one world American business-based culture is “hating them for their free-dumbs.”

          There is always an alternative, but they will make family blog sure those alternatives never find a foothold until they are forced to do so.

            1. Charlie

              That he is. Though I can’t think of anyone else to join forces with while moderating some of their views, or at least telling them to not act so crazy in public, the charge would remain the same no matter who it was. Because to a neo-liberal, being against a one world cornucopia automatically makes someone racist, even when noting the ways immigrants and people of color are exploited once they get here for economic and political gain of the donor class.

              Who can we find that would appear less insane? I don’t know right now.

    1. wilroncanada

      Perhaps the reason Rex Tillerson is conducting much of US diplomacy as a one-man show is that the US has a dearth of real diplomats, people who are trained and have experience in long-range and complex diplomacy over many years, can speak the languages of other countries, and have an historical perspective from both training and experience. Perhaps too many of people who may have developed that level of expertise have been co-opted by the CIA over the past 70 years.

      Tillerson cannot ultimately succeed in running a on-man show. There are too many countries with which he must deal, and too many variables worldwide. Nonetheless, he can succeed to a limited degree in sidelining the nutcases within the Trump family orbit, whose long-range perspective is 20 minutes, and whose expertise is “Deer Hunting With Jesus”, big-game hunting with a few foreign plutocrats, of trips together on the Lolita Express.

  22. Wukchumni

    At first glance it could be mistaken for any picture-perfect group of holiday islands.

    However, a closer inspection reveals a dark history which bears the legacy of nuclear tests carried out by the United States.

    Now rising sea levels and climate change threaten to unleash highly radioactive plutonium into the Pacific Ocean in a nightmare scenario for those who live in the Marshall Islands where dozens of nuclear blasts took place in the 1940s.

    Runit, a tiny outpost of the Marshall Islands, is surrounded by shimmering blue lagoons, but Marshall Island locals regard it as ground zero and a “a big monument to a giant American f***-up”.

    Willacy said rising sea levels meant water has begun to penetrate the dome containing the toxic waste with radioactive material leaking out.

    A 2013 report commissioned by the US Department of Energy confirmed the dome was leaking.

    While the US paid for the clean-up, Willacy said initial plans to lining the bottom of the dome with concrete didn’t go ahead and the soil was permeable, which meant seawater gets inside.

    “The dome was only meant to be a temporary solution until the US came up with a permanent plan,” he said. “Instead it was a shoddy cost cutting exercise.”

    Despite a $US2.3 billion compensation award, only $US4 million has been paid out.

  23. Meher Baba Fan

    Bitcoin. So it has no intrinsic value. But currently uses the same amount of electricity as Ireland (in a day, is it?) . So, the entire planet is supporting the good of the extremely small user base. This makes bitcoin unethical. and definitely not egalitarian, if I’m still allowed to use that word.

  24. Spring Texan

    Yep, that statement about the cabinet is patently false (and I too didn’t vote for Clinton, why would I, in Texas? would have in a swing state)

    Your list shows an excellent, detailed grasp of reality.

    Although Mulvaney ought to be an NFW.

  25. JEHR

    You will never have a good healthcare system as long as the main motive for all human activity remains profit-making. That’s what financialization of the economy really means.

  26. ChrisPacific

    Re: Ireland/Brexit, I thought the Liam Fox quote was particularly revealing:

    Dr Fox said: “We don’t want there to be a hard border but the UK is going to be leaving the customs union and the single market.”

    To paraphrase Dr Fox: We don’t want there to be a hard border, but we will choose it over remaining fully or partially in the customs union if it comes down to that. (Which, as we all know, it will). I had been wondering for a while whether the UK actually believed that these two mutually exclusive outcomes could both be achieved together, or if they were just pretending for negotiation purposes. Now we know.

    Ireland is right to call them out at this point. In the end the UK can deliver a hard border simply by sticking their fingers in their ears and going “LA LA LA LA LA I can’t hear you!” which would be completely consistent with their negotiating strategy to date. If it comes to that then there will be very little that Ireland can do about it, but they can (and should) make it as politically costly a decision as possible for the UK.

  27. Oregoncharles

    “No final answer to Irish border question until ‘end state’ known, says Liam Fox ”
    Although undiplomatic, Fox has a point: the nature of the Irish border depends on the kind of trade agreement the UK and EU arrive at, UNLESS it’s treated as a total exception, which raises the complications that have been extensively discussed here already.

    Come to think, making an exception for Ireland would BE a trade agreement of sorts.

  28. Oregoncharles

    “Sinai’s undeclared war Le Monde Diplomatique”

    sorry I didn’t save a link, but as of yesterday, the report was that the Sinai tribes had “declared war” on IS, who carried out the slaughter.

    Since guerrillas depend on the connivance of the local population, that isn’t good news for IS in the Sinai.

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