Links 11/4/17

We Are All This Raccoon Who Ate So Much He Got Stuck in a Sewer Vice

We, The Employees Of, Have Voted Unanimously To Debase Ourselves In The Most Humiliating Ways Possible To Please The Billionaires Who Could Destroy Our Website On A Whim Clickhole (UserFriendly)

‘Twilight Zone’ Reboot From Jordan Peele in the Works at CBS All Access Hollywood Reporter. I don’t see how this can be replicated. It needs to be in black and white and no way will that happen.

A Crimson Fracture in the Sky Topic (guurst). An anti-antidote.

The U.S. government just released a report confirming everything we know about climate change. Grist

U.S. Report Says Humans Cause Climate Change, Contradicting Top Trump Officials New York Times (furzy). Note that Bush had conceded this point.

Scientists Find the Chemical That Suppresses Unwanted Thoughts in the Brain Inverse. I take Gaba because it supposedly can help you sleep better (as in improve sleep quality). I have not seen any impact whatsoever regarding “unwanted memories”. Admittedly, I take it only once a day, but the flip side is if you take things your body makes, it has a tendency to down-regulate its own production in light of the amount being consumed. So while I am sure Gaba sales will soar based on this news, I’d keep your expectations in check if you decide to do some personal experimentation.

Fake meat and free markets ease North Koreans’ hunger Reuters (resilc)

We Need New Rules for the Internet Economy Der Speigel (resilc). Important in and of itself as well as demonstrating German support for the EU competition minister.


Spanish prosecutor seeks arrest warrant for Puigdemont Financial Times. Key section, consistent with our observations:

Cracks have started to appear in the pro-independence parties in Catalonia. In Mr Puigdemont’s PdeCat, some allies were pushing for a negotiated solution with Madrid.

Opinion: Puigdemont and his Catalan disappearing act DW. Ouch. One of the less caustic parts:

Puigdemont has probably overestimated the revolutionary potential of his fellow Catalans who can easily get fired up. Marching in nice weather is fun, but sacrificing wealth and employment for a nationalist dream if you live comfortably and quite autonomously from Spain — it seems silly just writing it down.

Having said all of that, and the arrest warrant is consistent with Catalonia having declared independence. pursuing bringing Puigdemont back to Spain could backfire although given how quickly Catalonia acquiesced to direct rule and that the separatist parties are squabbling, Spain may have judged the depth of conviction among the separatists correctly.

Catalonia Is Becoming Europe’s Problem Atlantic

Martin Selmayr BBC. Interview.


America Losing Afghanistan by Every Metric that Matters Astute News (resilc)

U.S. carries out strikes against Islamic State in Somalia Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Leads US President Trump to War with Iran by Prof. James Petras Defend Democracy

New Cold War

Early Backer of Facebook Linked to Russia Bank, Kushner Platform Bloomberg. If you read carefully, this is really strained.

Imperial Collapse Watch

DoD is Losing the Budget Endgame Defense One (resilc). I would not be so optimistic. The black budget is huge and not part of the official budget scored by the CBO. We can always find money for the next billion dollar bombing run in the Middle East.

How Robots Will Help the US Navy Avoid Future Collisions Defense One. Resilc: “More tech is always the answer.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Can Silicon Valley Own Its “Shoes Off at the Airport” Moment? Vanity Fair. That metaphor will be lost on them. They all fly on private jets.

Trump Transition

Are Bannon’s Ongoing Contacts With Trump Illegal? Politico (furzy)

Trump’s push for inquiries challenges Justice Dept. independence Politico

How the Trump Administration Is Gutting the U.S.D.A., Endangering Families, Food, and Rural Communities Vanity Fair

Trump, GOP Are Running Against President Hillary Clinton New York Magazine. Resilc: “Well she IS the leader of the Demozzzzzz.”

Donald Trump embarks on marathon tour of Asia BBC

Tax “Reform”

There’s One Unspeakable Fix That Would Help Pay for the GOP’s Tax Cuts Bloomberg

GOP predicts few defections on tax vote The Hill. They also repeatedly said they had the votes for Obamacare reform. Could still be correct, but wait for independent whip counts.

Steph Curry Says He’s Puzzled Over Mention in GOP Tax Proposal Bloomberg. Video says they need to get this through the House committee next week to be able to pass the bill by Thanksgiving. That is key to the timetable and the timetable is seen as critical to passage. Oh, and if you didn’t know, OF COURSE Steph Curry is black.

Tax plan could curb US infrastructure investment Financial Times

Republican tax plan kills electric vehicle credit ars technica

Trump personally pushing GOP leaders to use tax bill to undermine Obamacare Washington Post (JTM)

Manafort Prosecution

Judge proposes May 7 start date for Manafort, Gates trial The Hill (furzy)

Democrats in Disarray

What Killed the Democratic Party? Nation (furzy). Important. Here is the underlying document: Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis

Democrats still toxic in rural America Politico. IMHO, many rural voters saw Hillary’s “deplorables” remark as official confirmation of Democratic party views. “Deplorables” T-shirts sold in big volumes, such as “I am an adorable deplorable” in the smallest baby sizes.

Trump Was Right, The Election Was Rigged by Publius Tacitus Fabius Maximus.

Angry About the DNC Scandal? Thank Obama. The Intercept. One sour note: the ideal that small donors played a meaningful role in Obama;s fundraising is a carefully cultivated myth.

The Democratic Party Is Finding a Way to F*ck This Up Charles Pierce, Esquire. What an appalling piece. Nothing like making your class allegiances clear. Resilc: “The only way out is to put Clintoonz and Obomba on dunk-me chairs on the mall to raise $ for the DNC debt and start anew.”

How the Democrats Are Failing the Resistance Andrew Sullivan, New York Magazine. This piece is deadly. For instance:

Northam seems to me almost a classic Democratic politician of our time. I have no idea what his core message is (and neither, it seems, does he); on paper, he’s close to perfect; his personality is anodyne; his skills as a campaigner are risible; and he has negative charisma. More to the point, he is running against an amphibian swamp creature, Ed Gillespie, and yet the Washington lobbyist is outflanking him on populism. Northam’s ads are super lame, and have lately been largely on the defensive, especially on crime, culture, and immigration. He hasn’t galvanized minority voters, has alienated many white voters, and has failed to consolidate a broader anti-Trump coalition. In Virginia, Trump’s approval rating is 38/59, but Northam is winning only 81 percent of the disapprovers, while Gillespie is winning 95 percent of the approvers. Northam’s early double-digit lead has now collapsed to within the margin of error….

Now go to Northam’s website and you see a near-copy of Clinton’s agenda last year.

If you think there is any hope for the Democratic Party, think twice (hat tip Marshall). Read the comments on this tweet. Super ugly:

Brazile: Wasserman Schultz Kept Data Breach Under Wraps Newsmax (furzy)

Portland, Oregon Corruption Special. From Chris M, who lives nearby and “marvels at their complete lack of culpability, as well as the stupidity of the Portland voters…”

Older history:

Neil Goldschmidt Wikipedia:

His legacy and career were severely damaged by revelations that he had a sexual relationship with a young teenage girl during his first term as mayor of Portland.

Former Portland Mayor Sam Adams’ ex-staffer accuses him of sexual harassment; Adams welcomes investigation OregonLive. Problem is the former chief of staff is backing the ex-mayor, so unless the staffer has records, Adams might beat this assuming the allegations are true. This lends the account some credibility: Portland police release second report on Adams crash OregonLive

Attorney who served as top Portland Public Schools lawyer during troubled year out OregonLive. Chris M: “Next, we have the top lawyer for the Portland school district protecting sexual predator teachers. Note the complete lack of accountability: After lawsuit targets parent for seeking records, state to audit Portland schools OregonLive”

Only in America

Driver pulls gun after learning McDonald’s was out of Egg McMuffins Fox News

Mysterious Cold War bunker closes Charlotte Observer. Resilc: “This is in back of my house in North Carolina. Lots of fiber optics going into the big hole. None for my hood but lots for the hole site.”

Apple firmly on course for $1 trillion valuation: analysts Reuters. Resilc: “A replay of y2k era.”

SoftBank’s $10bn Uber deal held up by last-minute dispute Financial Times. From yesterday.

Alphabet has lost another trade secret claim in its lawsuit against Uber Recode. It still has eight left. Uber’s cheering is premature. What is critical is the timetable and whether Uber can be shown to have had little/no autonomous car tech prior to Waymo buy, and whether what it got from Waymo was important/critical.

The reason to lament Jay Powell’s appointment Financial Times

Equifax Investigation Clears Execs Who Dumped Stock Before Hack Announcement Gizmodo. Help me.

Class Warfare

The Great College Loan Swindle Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone (Pat). Today’s must read.

DNAinfo and Gothamist Close as Local Nonprofits Sites Soldier On Not for Profit News. Two pubs shuttered for unionizing. Owner also took down all their content.

The Legal Situation of DNAinfo and Gothamist Matt Bruenig

New York strippers strike: Dancers say nearly-naked ‘bottle girls’ are grabbing their cash, cite racism SFGate (Kevin W). One of my friends was married to a stripper (ironically, a professional ballerina who turned to stripping to pay her student loans. She gained a few pounds so that she was more shapely than at her old normal, and even thought she wasn’t zoftic, she moved so well men would tip her well). In NYC, strippers are most assuredly not prostitutes, unlike in other cities. Touch one of the girls, and you get thrown out immediately. But it looks like even stripping isn’t what it used to be.

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “This is Sparkey from a miniature horse ranch in Rialto California, helping out with pony rides at the Laguna Hill’s ‘Pumpkin City’ annual event.”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Jim Haygood

    Yesterday West Texas crude hit a two-year high of $55.70 a barrel, as oil power Venezuela capitulated and announced a debt restructuring.

    Ambrose E-P says Maduro’s allies China and Russia are pulling the plug:

    China is no longer willing to act as patron. It has already restructured some of its $23bn of bilateral loans. Mr Maduro has been relying on Russia as a last resort, and at a steep price. “Putin is gaining control at Venezuela’s oil reserves at bargain basement prices. He has subverted the Monroe Doctrine without firing a single shot,” said Helima Croft from RBC.

    Even the Kremlin has lost patience. The Russian group Rosneft has become nervous about rising exposure after advancing PDVSA $6bn in exchange for future shipments of crude, a process that eats further into Venezuela’s available income.

    What do these events tell us about the future of oil & oil exporters?

    Hint: think contrarian.

    1. Jim Haygood

      More from the Telegraph on Venezuela’s exquisite bind:

      Restructuring over $140bn (£107bn) of external debt immediately [is] a task deemed almost impossible under the constraints of US sanctions.

      The country cut its ties to the International Monetary Fund in 2007 and no longer has any legal access to an IMF restructuring package, even if it were willing to accept the Fund’s draconian terms.

      Neil Shearing from Capital Economics said political decay has reached a point where there is no realistic hope of recovery. A successor government may legitimately repudiate the Maduro liabilities as “odious debt” under international law. “I don’t see any way out of this,” he said.

      PDVSA is cannibalizing plants and running out of drilling equipment. Oil output is falling by 200,000 to 300,000 barrels per day (b/d) each year. David Fyfe from Gunvor said the risk of a complete collapse is growing, with effects large enough to eat into the global oil glut and drive prices higher.

      Ricardo Hausmann from Harvard said per capita income has fallen by 40pc since 2013. “Venezuela’s economic catastrophe dwarfs any in the history of the US, Western Europe, or the rest of Latin America,” he said.

      Venezuela is becoming the western hemisphere’s Biafra.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Re the Biafra remark, if that’s the case, we should recall that Biafra had a lot of outside help getting to that sorry estate. For those who want to test your assertion, with context, look here: I personally don’t see much except suffering of millions due to Empire wanting oil and other “international” inputs, coupled with fairly unique tribal and looter ambitions…

        What is with the fixation on Venezuela? What do you want the rest of us to believe, from the drumbeat?

      2. Jessica

        I was thinking more that Venezuela is becoming the Paraguay defeated and permanently maimed in the War of the Triple Alliance.

        1. clinical wasteman

          During the several minutes I spent just gaping at the Distinguished Harvard Professor’s announcement (“Venezuela’s economic catastrophe dwarfs any ever seen in the US, Western Europe or Latin America”), the words “Irish Potato Famine” drifted into my mind for some reason. Though it’s hard to imagine that the Irish population would have repeatedly re-elected English Whigs and Anglo-Irish landlords, had they been allowed to vote. (Or to eat, a little known prerequisite of voting.)

            1. Vatch

              I was curious, and I found this Wikipedia article. Here’s a portion of it:

              In the pre-1801 Irish House of Commons, the forty-shilling freehold was used in county constituencies, while borough constituencies were mostly rotten boroughs with closed electorates. Roman Catholics were explicitly disenfranchised from the Disenfranchising Act of 1727 to 1793, although earlier penal laws had effectively prevented Catholics from voting:[2] the 1703 Popery Act required an oath of abjuration which most found incompatible with their faith,[3] and a 1716 act required this oath at least six months before an election.[4]

              From the Act of Union 1800 to the 1922 creation of the Irish Free State, Irish electoral law was largely the same as contemporary British law. The Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829, which allowed Catholics to stand for Parliament, also increased the freeholder qualification from forty shillings (two pounds) to ten pounds. This was a quid-pro-quo to secure support from Protestants afraid of being overwhelmed by votes of less well-off Catholics.

              From 1836, members of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) were not allowed to vote.[5][6] This was to preserve the impression of the forces’ political impartiality.[7] While police in Great Britain were enfranchised in 1887 at Westminster, this did not extend to Ireland.

              Forty-shilling freeholders were a group of people who had the parliamentary franchise to vote by possessing freehold property, or lands held directly of the king, of an annual rent of at least forty shillings (i.e. £2 or 3 marks), clear of all charges. As we saw above, this was quintupled to 10 pounds in 1829. This web site:



              In 1832 the Representation of the People (Ireland) Act slightly extended the franchise by including £10 freeholders, those who held leases for life and leaseholders of at least 60 years. [3]

              In 1850 the Reform Act gave the vote to every man with total property of 12 pounds, raising the electorate to c.16% of adult men in Ireland. It was again extended slightly in 1867. In 1872 the secret ballot was introduced so people did not have to fear reprisals, especially from landlords, for their votes.

              So during the famine, I would guess that about 10% of Irish adult men could vote. That’s even lower than voluntary voter participation in recent years in the United States!

    2. Wukchumni

      I’d like to get A E-P, Marc Faber and Nouriel Roubini in a wrong-off, geez it’d be heated competition.

  2. pretzelattack

    re: pierce

    the dnc didn’t have it’s thumb halfway on the scale. the clinton campaign owned and calibrated the scale.

  3. Jim Haygood

    Let’s drop some psilocybin with Mark Cuban:

    I think artificial intelligence is going to change everything, everything, 180 degrees. I’ve been in the tech business. And then we started streaming. But what we’re going to see with AI dwarfs all that.

    Vladimir Putin says the winner in AI controls the world. China puts together a future plan saying whoever dominates in AI — and they’re subsidizing Tencent, Alibaba, et cetera, right?

    It’s a race. We cut our Office of Technology and Science to one person who was an assistant to Peter Thiel. That’s where we stand.

    [Bitcoin] is a brilliant collectible that’s probably more like art than baseball cards, stamps, or coins, because there’s a finite amount that are going to be made, right? There’s 21.9 million bitcoins that are going to be made.

    I think whatever benefits will come from AI or whatever, is going to [filter into tech stocks]. I think the FANG stocks [Facebook Apple Netflix Google] are going to crush [cryptocurrencies]. My biggest public holding is Amazon.

    *takes a deep breath*

    So the FANG stocks, empowered by mad-genius robots, are going to crush the epic runup in Bitcoin.

    Evidently the serious speculating starts when the clock reads one minute to midnight.

    Got bubbly?

    1. cnchal

      . . . whatever benefits will come from AI . . .

      Could be horrors too. Looks like Bitcoin is a stupid parasite. It could use enough energy to cook the planet if AI ever got hold of it.

      1. Wukchumni

        For what it’s worth dept:

        A ‘bit’ was a silver coin valued @ 12 1/2 cents, or as the Spanish realm would’ve called it, a one real coin. The saying ‘2 bits’ is old time slang for a quarter.

        A silver dollar sized coin was 8 reales and legal tender as a dollar in the USA until 1858~

      1. jCandlish

        Compare and contrast their in depth coverage of the resignation of Pro-Saudi Sunni ex Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad Hariri.

        1. ambrit

          Aye, and compare all of the above with the Newsweek story ‘featured’ on the Yahoo ‘news’ feed: “Las Vegas Gunman Was A Trump Supporter.”
          The Big Lie slouches toward Bethlehem.

    1. annie

      both nytimes and guardian smothered the brazile story with similar tactics–using deceptive headlines and ledes: a times’s story two days ago on hillary getting an award (‘tears flowed’) segued into the brazile story; the guardian buried brazile under headline about crazy trump demanding ‘crooked hillary’ investigation.
      in each case the reporter does mention brazile’s book excerpt only to refute brazile’s logic and inform the reader that this is nothing new at all–and bernie did it too.
      in each case, news story flips into opinion piece.
      move along people….
      today’s nyt has new brand story turning on ‘divided democrats’ that ends up similarly dismissing any notion you might have that the brazile story is worthy of attention.

          1. JBird

            The Guardian does have problems. It is also a nice change from the Neo-Liberal fanboys of the NY Times, et al. as it actually prints ostracized writers like Thomas Frank, or features The Counted covering all the American police homicides for two years including for many of them detailed explanations. When a British paper does a better job that any American newspaper of covering American police, we have a problem.

              1. JBird

                I don’t mean it’s like it should be; it is differently (dys)functional from American newspapers, which means I can get good reporting from it that I might not otherwise. Just look at Thomas Frank, who used to be on the to-go list for mainstream media interviews and stories, he is now blackballed and can only be on alternative media or on non-North American mainstream media; he actually does real journalism, not peans to neo-liberal orthodoxy, so off with him.

            1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

              I must admit that the reaction to the Brazile affair has forced me to realise how bad it is over the pond – the Guardian is I think somewhat schizophrenic & is attempting to keep one foot in two boats which I believe are increasingly moving further apart.

              1. makedoanmend

                “…the Guardian is I think somewhat schizophrenic…”

                I’m not disputing your observation, simply because it seems to me to be valid.

                However, (ain’t there always one), I don’t believe the Guardian editorial line is actually schizophrenic as such; rather their aim is to create a reader who is schizophrenic on the issues that matter but contradict the orthodox narrative that all is well in the world except for individual failings. For every article in the Guardian that might highlight the short comings of current socio-economic circumstances, one is sure to get a contradictory story or opinion piece within the same edition or a series of stories days afterwards that seek to ameliorate or negate the failings of oligarchy and neoliberal economics.

                If an economic neoliberalist can’t fully control the results of the neoliberal economic agenda and the various strands of competitors within it, one can at least attempt to control the information flow and optics. If the information is detrimental to the neoliberal economic agenda it then behoves the controller to obsfusticate that information. By sending contradictory or ameliorating signals, the waves of information become crossed and confused. As the saying goes, this is a feature, not a bug.

                The Guardian appears to me to be a safety valve for noeliberal economics – allowing one the vent but making sure we repeatedly are give notice that we are helpless to change circumstances. As the policy of informational schizophrenia requires, we either conform to neoliberal dictats, float helpless, or perish. TINA. Always TINA.

        1. JTMcPhee

          “They” have a surfeit of reasons to believe that “we,” in truth and fact, are indeed “so stupid.”

          1. pretzelattack

            the guardian has a surfeit of reasons–reader comments and emails–to believe that we, their readers, are not in fact that stupid. but they keep catapulting the propaganda, because it pays off for them. no quotation marks needed.

            1. Alex Morfesis

              Humans will push up to their fear factor…carbon based life forms usually submit to mammonite vampires…

              if you don’t like the term stupid, replace it with lazy or fearful…same net result…

              Working with a couple of st pete non profits on economic development and affordable housing…

              these last few weeks, making the rounds of fed and occ sanctioned organizations and the wondrous health conversion foundation in st pete that uses the tag line healthy starts, sitting on 200 million for four years, having handed out more for staff pensions than actual grants…

              Have found myself feeling like my priest relatives taking confessions from long standing non profits decrying they have done everything they thought they could while admitting perhaps they could have done more…

              one don’t have to fool all the people all the time…

              just enough on one day every two or four years on election day…

              1. JBird

                Reminds me of the American Red Cross decent to a “non-profit” scam akin to some prosperity gospel grift. It used to do good work for the many and now is good work for the few.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I look at yahoo to see what the MSM thinks I should know and I don’t see any prominent mention of the Brazile story there either. Donna Brazile is currently #2 in their “trending” list though. Does that mean people are still looking for info on her despite yahoo not feeling the need to provide much?

      2. ex-PFC Chuck

        A commenter at the SST site posted a link to a purported debunking of Brazile’s story. The site is deepstatenation dot com. From a quick perusal of the DSN site’s home page it looks like it’s in the bag for the corporate Democrats. Any arguments on this? I have another question as well. Has anyone here dug into the weeds behind Brazile’s assertions to assess whether she’s fairly presented what happened? For that matter are enough weeds available for viewing for anyone to even make such an assessment?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Given that Brazile’s insider account is consistent with externally observable facts, I don’t see the reason for setting an artificially high bar of proof for her. I ran a link or even a cross post on how the DNC’s Victory Campaign or whatever you called its state fundraising efforts was flagrantly violating Federal donation laws by siphoning virtually all of the money to the Presidential campaign, allowing individual donors to exceed their contribution ceilings. This is her most controversial claim and it is not news.

    2. Lee

      It show up on my Google News but perhaps that’s because I’ve been searching for it. Politico, ABC, LA Times and WaPo all have something on it. Haven’t checked the content yet. Elizabeth Warren confirmed Brazile’s contention that the primary was rigged on PBS Newshour. I think this thing has legs despite whatever the MSM does or doesn’t do about it.

      1. kimsarah

        The MSM PTB has been slow to react because they were caught off guard and are working through this weekend to craft what their narrative will be come Monday. Any guesses how they will attempt to debunk Brazille’s claims? My guess is they will continue to ignore it, downplay it, and run other stories to push it out of the news cycle. And continue to push the false Trump-Russia narrative, which really should be an embarrassment to them by now. The cat’s out of the bag now. It should be an entertaining week.

  4. allan

    How the Trump Family Benefits From the Republican Tax Scheme [David Cay Johnston]

    One of the most significant takeaways from Johnston’s reporting based on Trump’s leaked 2005 taxes was that the AMT did what it is supposed to do – make somebody, who would otherwise be able to use loopholes to pay little or no tax, pay at least a reasonable effective tax rate. In 2005 this sent Trump’s income tax bill from $5 million to $36 million. The scrapping of the AMT in the GOP bill has hardly gotten in the press.

    The reason might be that many financial and political journalists in NYC and DC have to wrestle with the AMT themselves, and hate it.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Some advocate peace hoping to winner a peace of some sort.

      But we can’t think that way. Peace is peace.

      One might wonder if the Democrats want immigrants, because they will vote Democrats in the future. Maybe some politicians are into realpolitik like that.

      Again, we can’t guess at people’s true motives behind the apparent conflicts of interest.

      Are you (or me, or I) a policy will benefit many, or if you (or me, or I) also personally benefit? Maybe you (or me) know, but others can”t.

      1. allan

        As much as it pains me to link to Dana Milbank, he put together a good summary in the WaPo of the tens of millions of dollars that are being spent on pro-tax bill advertisements by various Koch-, Mercer-, Adelson and Ricketts-funded groups. Altruists all, they certainly think they know who’s going to benefit from the bill.
        It would be downright insulting to Mr. Art of the Deal to suggest that they have greater insight into who’s going to benefit than he does.

        Also too: Commercial Real Estate, Which Fueled Trump’s Fortune, Fares Well in Tax Plan [NYT]

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          We look at how many will benefit of any policy proposals, and weigh that against who and how much others will be set back.

          Whether the proponents themselves benefit is secondary, though not completely irrelevant…just that we have to look at the policy ideas themselves. If they are good, they are good. If they are bad, the ideas are bad.

          So, if someone, for example, wants to break up a big trust, I might not like it if he/she later invests in a lot of small companies benefiting from trust busting, but the idea of breaking it up is still a good one.

          1. allan

            Call me old fashioned, but conflict of interest is a problem.

            The fact that the bill is being sold as beneficial to the middle and lower classes
            (in fact, to anybody outside roughly the top 0.1%) is evidence of bad faith.
            There are many articles/posts describing how the tax cuts and increases will
            work in the real world, as opposed to the warm and fuzzy alternate reality
            of a Koch brothers funded ad campaign,
            but the best one I’ve seen to date is the one by Ernie Tedeschi
            that he links to from this tweet.
            It’s a Google doc and you have to navigate around a bit, but the charts show how
            horrendously regressive the bill is, especially in the out years.

            The people who wrote the bill and the people who are spinning it know this damn well.
            Conflict of interest and bad faith add up to a pretty ugly picture.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


              But if someone benefits from busting trusts, say, by winning a second team (a benefit for the trust buster), sure, that’s conflict of interest.

              And it would still be a good policy.

            2. flora

              Thanks for the Milbank link. Another effect: this will result in reduced Federal Revenue Sharing to the states (deficits/austerity). This will impact state funding for public k-12 schools, road maintenance and infrastructure expansion, Medicaid, Children’s Health insurance state programs, among other things. The result of this reduced funding will result in increased property taxes and local fees to cover funding shortfalls for k-12 schools and the rest.

              Unless, of course, private charter schools and public/private road and infrastructure deals are made. hint hint

              This tax plan is the opening move of a funding ratchet designed to move money and public property from Main Street to the wealthiest in multiple ways. imo.

  5. The Rev Kev

    Re The Great College Loan Swindle
    You want to know the difference between a successful parasite and an unsuccessful parasite? An unsuccessful parasite will infect its host and drain everything that it can and send its host anemic until it in the end it not only kills its host but itself as well. A successful parasite, on the other hand, will look to the long term and only draw off enough of a host for its own needs but never enough to endanger its host. Indeed, there are some parasites that actually help its hosts by attacking things that would hurt its host. I think that you can see where I am going with this when I say that it is all a matter of sustainability.
    In the desire to turn the economy into a rentier society, these unsuccessful parasites have now reached the point where they are crippling their hosts. Things like student debt, car loans, etc are drawing not only enormous future earning capacity from this generation but the have reached the point where they are starting to cripple the regular economy. How can you have a consumer economy when consumers do not have excess resources to buy new material items? I believe that new car sales have been trending negatively for awhile now, this year the US fertility rate reached a new low, young people are now no longer thinking about buying homes and forming their own households but have returned home to live, and any number of other metrics all show the same pattern.
    How about this for a thought. If something is not sustainable, in the long run it won’t be.

    1. MtnLife

      Really successful parasites get a policy of constant infusions of new suckers for that “American Dream” fallacy now that its original hosts have seen the lies and are drinking/opiating themselves to death.

      1. ambrit

        Oh boy, howdy!
        I can see it now, coming to a local fast food joint soon: “Would you like some falafel with your burger effendi?”
        Here Down South (North American Division), those look suspiciously like Hush Puppies.

        1. clinical wasteman

          I know it’s not the same context & not the main point, but that sounds EXACTLY like any kebab shop in London, minus the “effendi” part, because these are part of the working-class streetscape that predates & partly survives gentrification of the neighbourhoods in question. Anyway, those places sell kebabs, felafel and burgers all at once as a matter of course and have done so for decades. If “hushpuppy” boutiques (if I have the connotation of that right) have moved in next door, their management & customers are probably petitioning to get the kebab shop closed down as an “eyesore”/”noise nuisance”/burden on “property values”.

            1. Mel

              and falaffel is beans (ok, chickpeas.) Falaffel AND Hush Puppies would be your complete protein, yes? Here’s to World culture.

              1. ambrit

                Kebabs and catfish. It actually sounds good.
                I remember reading that the design of the starship Enterprise for the original ‘Star Trek’ show, (the producers did their homework pretty fully, having figured out how a functional starship would be designed,) had the galley as the largest place on the ship. Food and cooking were considered very important functions for keeping a crew in deep space both physically and psychologically healthy.
                There was ‘real’ World culture.

                1. xMidway

                  “the producers did their homework pretty fully, having figured out how a functional starship would be designed”

                  I always wondered how they (and many “space” shows before and since) got their gravity.

                  The only shows that I’ve seen make any attempt are 2001, and more recently, The Expanse, and Passengers.

    2. Arizona Slim

      It’s time for us to take education back from the overpriced institutions. We can form study groups and teach each other. We can develop our own apprenticeship programs and mentorships.

      We have the power to turn away from institutions that no longer serve us. Let’s use it.

      1. ambrit

        I agree as far as ‘personal growth’ is involved. The big bug up the a– of the “official” world is credentialism.
        The ‘independence’ movement you envision supposes a parallel institutions situation. That is halfway or more towards real revolution. Why stop at half measures? (Sorry, but my inner hypocrite is showing.)

    3. FluffytheObeseCat

      This was a great must-read article. Taibbi did a great job of delineating the three legs of the scam, and particularly, did a great job of pointing out how inescapable college debt is for millions, even the hundreds of thousands who are smart enough to go to real schools, rather than the DeVrys. They have no other choice. Most hard working, decent people don’t, not unless they can get a job at daddy’s HVAC installation company right out of high school.

      What I don’t get is the sneerers and finger pointers. It’s 2017. Who the hell doesn’t know how this works anymore? When I read comments section posts – in even the New York Times – blaming these screwed over students and former students for going into debt for degrees (that the fingerpointers obtained for a few hundred bucks in c. 1977)……. I often wonder if they aren’t all actually paid trolls. Are there really that many innumerates out there who don’t understand that a system which explodes an $8000 loan into a +$100,000 debt is predatory? And damaging to the nation?

      Cramdowns. Bankruptcy to clear the debts, or cramdowns.

        1. kareninca

          We could get most of the way there if people were just required to pay back the amount they had actually borrowed, and no more. It would be politically a lot easier to sell, and it would save most of the victims. It’s the interest and fees that make this so monstrous.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Uhoh, that’s how it wotks under Sharia finance.” Worse than Commyanism!

            Of course, the amount borrowed most often includes a lot of fraudulent charges and thar huge lump of “tuition inflation” that fllows to the school hierarchy. Needs a cram-down too…

      1. flora

        I agree. The article’s description of predatory education “loan-rehabilitation” programs sounds a lot like the predatory mortgage “loan-modification” programs. Bad as preditory mortgage mods are, at least the mortgage borrower can declare bankruptcy. Student borrowers don’t have even that last option. Both Dem and GOP admins have signed off on this scheme. Trump is just the most blatant.

        1. flora

          “What I don’t get is the sneerers and finger pointers. It’s 2017.”

          I think a lot of people are afraid of looking at just how bad the whole system has become, how shaky is the ground they themselves stand on. Some fingerpointers may have malign motives. Many may be whistling past the graveyard, so to say. And the MSM doesn’t encourage examining predatory behavior by powerful vested interests. Just the opposite. imo.

          1. flora

            adding: (and apologies for going on and on)

            I used to watch the PBS news show “Washington Week in Review”.
            I remember one show in particular. (Details a bit fuzzy but the substance is correct.)
            During the height of the predatory mortgage-mod/foreclosure scam, a respected reporter from a large paper was one of the show’s roundtable guests. He mentioned, almost in passing and in some shock, that he and his wife had their mortgage and themselves mistreated by the lender. Having a sound financial history and payment record, he couldn’t believe he and his wife were being treated this way. They had done everything right. The other reporters on the show were shocked as well. (That’s only supposed to happen to ‘deadbeats’ right?) He said (paraphrasing), “yeah, I didn’t believe it, but this can happen to anyone. Anyone.”

            There was no followup reporting on preditory mortgage-mods in the next few months of Washington Week shows.

      2. JTMcPhee

        I wonder whether the Internet- and social-media-savvy young people being crushed under this fraudulent FIRE scam could get together and all agree to just stop paying, all at once?

        Sand and sabots in the gears of the Great Neoliberal Juggernaut, a massive sense of relief and maybe a buoyant kind of optimism that might carry over into other healthy changes in the vectors of the political economy? Hey, the CIA published that manual on how to weaken “oppressive states,” how to “resist” effectively, so it must be okay, right?

    4. HotFlash

      Gentlereaders, I do believe that what you are calling ‘parasites’ consider themselves ‘apex predators’, which intend to, and do, kill their prey.

  6. Craig H.

    We Need New Rules for the Internet Economy

    It is an important discussion. Their evidence: 1. Amazon dominant size; 2. Intrusiveness of Alexa; 3. They want our house key; 4. Facebook dominant size.

    1. I use Amazon but they win the shopping comparisons far less than half the time and only dominate my book (& CD & DVD) purchases. 2. I have no interest in having an Alexa. 3. They ain’t ever getting my house key. 4. I do not use facebook.

    Maybe I am a boiling frog but it does not look to me that their evidence justifies their alarm. Or I don’t care.

    By all means let the Euro trust busters go to town on the big apocalypse jockeys. But I am not impressed with today’s spiegel-take.

    1. jsn

      That tickled me too! Attorney Generals have never been appointed for political reasons or acted politically!

  7. fresno dan

    We Are All This Raccoon Who Ate So Much He Got Stuck in a Sewer Vice

    Obviously, that was actually the sewer gate diet….
    Now that raccoon has to waddle off to find another sewer gate to return to his sleek raccoon form.

    1. Louis Fyne

      The thing about the original Twilight Zone is that there was literally nothing like it on TV. Rod was truly a pioneer.

      Nowadays seemingly everyone tries to incorporate some Serling-M. Night-Nolan/Westworld twist into their narrative. So much so, it’s arguably a trope.

      But since CBS own the “Twilight Zone” intellectual property and has a thin line-up on its All-Access content, the order of the day is more rebooted TV tropes. This time dialed up to 11.

      1. Wukchumni

        “I’m dedicating my little story to you; doubtless you will be among the very few who will ever read it. It seems war stories aren’t very well received at this point. I’m told they’re out-dated, untimely and as might be expected – make some unpleasant reading. And, as you have no doubt already perceived, human beings don’t like to remember unpleasant things. They gird themselves with the armor of wishful thinking, protect themselves with a shield of impenetrable optimism, and, with a few exceptions, seem to accomplish their “forgetting” quite admirably. But you, my children, I don’t want you to be among those who choose to forget. I want you to read my stories and a lot of others like them. I want you to fill your heads with Remarque and Tolstoy and Ernie Pyle. I want you to know what shrapnel, and “88’s” and mortar shells and mustard gas mean. I want you to feel, no matter how vicariously, a semblance of the feeling of a torn limb, a burnt patch of flesh, the crippling, numbing sensation of fear, the hopeless emptiness of fatigue. All these things are complimentary to the province of war and they should be taught and demonstrated in classrooms along with the more heroic aspects of uniforms, and flags, and honor and patriotism. I have no idea what your generation will be like. In mine we were to enjoy “Peace in our time”. A very well meaning gentleman waved his umbrella and shouted those very words…less than a year before the whole world went to war. But this gentleman was suffering the worldly disease of insufferable optimism. He and his fellow humans kept polishing the rose colored glasses when actually they should have taken them off. They were sacrificing reason and reality for a brief and temporal peace of mind, the same peace of mind that many of my contemporaries derive by steadfastly refraining from remembering the war that came before.”~ Rod Serling

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    How Robots Will Help the US Navy Avoid Future Collisions Defense One. Resilc: “More tech is always the answer.

    Unless, of course, those robots are programmed for Sumo wrestling.

    Then, expect collisions all the time.

    “Oops, shipped you guys the wrong robots. Every robot looks obese these days…too much food in the sewer.”

      1. JTMcPhee

        Sounds a whole lot more like what is always the case in the imperial military: blame the troops. Naw, has nothing to do with either the fundamental idiocies of the Great Game and “War is nothing but a racket,” or the vast corruption and incompetence (at anything other than self- promotion and self-pleasing) of the gold-plated Brass, who immunize themselves from all consequences.

        Just another freeping whitewash and sweep-under, it seems to me.

        1. cnchal

          Complexity has it’s price. When it breaks, it breaks big. In these cases though, the machinery and controls responded to their inputs flawlessly, even though the inputs caused one of the propellers to be thrown into reverse, turning the boat sideways into the path of a freighter it had just passed.

          One boat, two propellers, two throttle men, multiple throttle stations, what could go wrong?

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    U.S. Report Says Humans Cause Climate Change, Contradicting Top Trump Officials New York Times (furzy).

    Man would not be the center of the universe, would not be great, if he couldn’t change climate.

    Consciously denying it will only lead to cognitive dissonance as the unconscious rages at the insult.

    We must totally and completely embrace our own ‘greatness.’

    “There is nothing we can’t do.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        They are, I believe, experiencing cognitive dissonance…something they have to work out…a giant leap for mankind.

  10. Croatoan

    On GABA;

    First, most studies point in the direction that GABA taken Italy does not cross the blood brain barrier.

    Second, it is one thing to note that there is a rise in GABA in the hippocampus, but taking GABA will act on all parts of the brain. Too much GABA can give people seizures.

    Third, it might be we need to end war instead of trying to find ways to cure the symptoms of it.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Suppressing unwanted thoughts – that’s self-censoring, no?

      Do we force ‘inconvenient truths’ upon ourselves? Is that a good or bad thing to do?
      “I don’t want to think about how much cheating hurts my ex. I just want to enjoy the money I have now.”

      1. Mel

        That was one of Philip K. Dick’s points in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. In the opening scene the typical American family were using their Penfield Device to dial up their mood and attitude. Thus the distinction that becomes important later in the story, between humans and androids, is very blurry. Androids are artificial products of humans, but likewise humans are artificial products of themselves.

      2. Judith

        In Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant, which takes place in Arthurian England, the breathe of the dragon Querig causes a mist of forgetfulness. The forgetfulness allows the Saxons and the Britons to live together after the Britons massacred many Saxons. I just started reading this curious, thoughtful book. Lots to think about.

        1. LifelongLib

          It’s often said that we Americans are ignorant of history. Maybe that’s our version of the dragon’s breathe…

    2. ambrit

      Hmm…. That last line… One task is problematic and ‘visionary.’ Maybe not impossible, but very difficult. The other task is doable, to some degree dependent on the political will expended.
      Pragmatism is the painful virtue.

      1. Croatoan

        I like that last line! However, I am in more of a Wu Wei place these days so there is no pain, and my virtue is a result or living in that realm. I merely point these things out for understanding, not for acting upon.

        1. ambrit

          I do grok your reply Croatoan.
          As someone in the Therapy line whose services I availed myself of used to opine, (yes, I did resort to Witch Doctors at one time): “Knowledge has an intrinsic value.”
          To combine the former with some Materialist ‘virtues’ and reach a Balance point is my optimum. Unfortunately, I find the concept of Arete to be compelling. The internal tensions can be daunting. D–n! ‘Free Will’ is a b—h!

    3. Tooearly

      Your point three was the theme of a fine book interview one hundred years of psychology and the world is getting worse by Hillman

    4. Vatch

      GABA taken Italy does not cross the blood brain barrier.

      Wow. That’s one of my all time favorite auto-correct mixups! I assume that “internally” was Italianed.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Driver pulls gun after learning McDonald’s was out of Egg McMuffins Fox News

    My first thuoght: Another addiction epidemic. Here is one proof its users, well, at least one exhibits drug addiction like signs.

    Of course, we have to prove that with vigor, scientifically, by looking at the chemicals and brain chmistry.

    1. John Zelnicker

      @MyLessThanPrimeBeef – I eat Egg McMuffins on a regular basis, sometimes 3-4 times a week. They are most assuredly addictive. I think it’s the egg protein and bacon fat combining to create a narcotic-like substance for which a craving will return after no more than 2-3 days without it. Yeah, that’s it. ;-)

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        More likely it’s the quantity of sugar. Just like sushi, that contains gobs of it in the rice

        1. Annotherone

          Or, more likely still – the McMuffin series = the best option MacDonald’s have on offer. Husband and I eat Egg & Sausage McMuffins often when on the road. English muffins are way better than any kinds of bread used for burgers and sandwiches anywhere in the USA – American supermarket bread and buns are sweet and nasty; English muffins are not sweet. So we’re addicted – in a way, but we don’t own a gun so y’all are safe, should a shortage occur. :)

    2. Wukchumni

      Driver pulls gun after learning McDonald’s was out of Egg McMuffins Fox News

      How it must’ve gone down…

      “You have the right to serve me an Egg McMuffin, anything you say or do may be used against you in a court of law, and now you tell me you’re out?

      I’m making a citizens arrest, hands up nice and easy to the sky so I can see em’, and no funny business, or a McGriddle. Do we understand one another, and none of this “i’m only the first drive-thru window person that takes the money, but they don’t allow me to handle food” nonsense either.”

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


    What Killed the Democratic Party? Nation (furzy). Important. Here is the underlying document: Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis

    Two ways to interact with something dead.

    1. Necromancy

    2. Pray to God for a savior, and Lazarus can come back again.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      So, we are all Nietzsche now – the DNC is dead.

      Then, the comeback is going to be – DNC: Nietzsche is dead.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It could be that it’s not really dead, but zombie-fied

        And then, you will run into a lot of zombie politicians….they walking about kind of stiff, and tend to repeat the same (not-working) things again and again.

    2. Louis Fyne

      the thing that annoyed me about that autopsy was it’s constant separation of “working class” and “people of color” —as if the two are from two different planets with no overlap.

      Maybe if liberals/Democrats started addressing the common interests of the bottom 85% they’d start making some headway. (eg, break up the banks, oligopolies, bad trade deals, and a $750+ billion defense-intelligence budget)

      oh wait. Academic and activist identity politics pushers don’t like that for some reason—cuz they like to be the center of attention? i dunno.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Bigness is a problem itself.

    Apple firmly on course for $1 trillion valuation: analysts Reuters.

    You don’t want, for example, planet Earth to be next to something big, like, say, Jupiter.

    Perhaps some big wealth has an attractive magnetic personality – all that agitating molten iron (will) core inside – but his or her (or its) gravity will kill you.

    And, so, we should all oppose bigness itself (at least not too close…the bigger it is, the further it should be…like on Mars for some, already we need that separation).

    1. Croatoan

      Love that analogy. From the point of view of the Dao, bigness is akin to usefulness, and it is seen as a detriment to a long life. The crooked noted tree lives the longest because no carpenter sees its value.

  14. Pelham

    This is entirely off today’s topics, so apologies for that, but does anyone know how the US might have benefited from the Uranium One deal?

    In any ordinary deal between roughly equal parties, we presume there’s some advantage to both sides, at least theoretically. We know the advantages of this deal for Rosatom. OK. But what were we supposed to get out of it?

    This is a genuine question. I can’t find an answer or justification elsewhere. Thanks much.

    1. John Zelnicker

      @Pelahm – The Uranium One deal was between a Canadian company and Rosatom. The US had no ownership interest in it. However, because Rosatom wanted to buy 51% or more of Uranium One (they eventually bought 100%), the transaction had to have approval from the Committee for Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) in the State Dept. since uranium is considered a strategic asset.

      The benefit the US received previous to the deal was to be able to use the uranium mined here. That has not changed. We used to buy it from the Canadian company, now we buy it from Rosatom.

      1. Pelham

        Thanks much.

        So how do we benefit by buying from Rosatom rather than the Canadian company? Seems that Rosatom would be more likely to cut off needed supplies than the Canadians.

        At a minimum, there’s no benefit at all and potentially a significant downside, since Rosatom — as I’ve read elsewhere — appears determined to secure a decisive degree of control of uranium supplies globally.

        1. ambrit

          There is always the possibility of the nationalization of the mines themselves for reasons of state security. Why wouldn’t Canada do this if the Americans asked nicely?
          Strategic materials are controlled, at base, by whomever physically produces them.

        2. BoycottAmazon

          The benefit is forging monopoly, and monopoly is good for politicians because monopolist have the profits to justify paying protection money to politicians. IE: negative benefit to the hoi polloi, but a great benefit to some members of the patricians.

        3. John Zelnicker

          @Pelham – I agree that with Rosatom owning the mines there is a somewhat greater chance of some kind of problem. I also agree with ambrit that we could simply nationalize the mines if truly necessary.

    1. Deadl E Cheese

      I don’t know. Why didn’t the Whig party run as committed anti-slaveocracy partisans rather than allowing themselves to get destroyed despite the Jacksonian Democratic Party being at their weakest in decades?

    2. John k

      Clinton was too honest… she didn’t promise concrete benefits for the middle class because she had no intention of delivering any.
      Right wing dems are all following the same script. I hope they all lose and go join the reps where they belong. Course, corps see them as the last stand against progressive policies, and continue to pay them to lose.
      The right wing dem party is not sustainable, but will block progressives to its last breath.
      Next step might be to increase the number of supers… they reserve the right to pick in the back room, open only to lobbyists…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Is the Democratic Party dead…was killed, as a link above proclaims, or merely dying?

        If it’s merely dying, I think we can ask whether it’s better to die quickly or to die a prolonged, agonizing death?

        If you believe a quick death is the way, then, reforming a terminally ill patient is the wrong choice.

        1. John k

          Better for who?
          They get paid not to beat reps but to keep progressives from power, witness Obomber frantically drafting and electing Perez.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Better for those who want to get on with bettering their lives, with its quick death?

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              You can’t expect the tiger not to eat the antelope, it’s not in his makeup to turn vegetarian. Ditto asking a Dem to reject their time-honoured and extremely lucrative role: keeping progressive reform at bay on behalf of corporate overlords. So in the morning DiFi can tell a crowd of peasants “she’s not for a complete government takeover of healthcare” and that evening the limo can whisk her to a gala dinner paid for by big pharma billionaire donors. It really is as simple as that.

    3. Marcus

      especially the undecided voters,” said a Democratic strategist with ties to Virginia.

      “These are low information voters and the biggest deciding factor in their vote is going to be the approval of the president and the latest piece of information they got was the [former campaign chairman Paul] Manafort indictment.”

      The kiss of death. Northam is toast.

    4. NotTimothyGeithner

      Northam was recruited as a candidate interested in buying a title with no black marks or liberal tendecies. Hes a nothing. Until Herring blundered Northam would be retiring or running for LG again.

      Running one way and governing another is impossible for Northam. Hes a genuine empty suit.

      Kaine climbed over a dying woman to get the LG nod in the first place.

  15. Synoia

    the continent sized guilt trip for the West called the Holocaust.

    I feel no guilt. England went to war, and nearly every family had a family members sacrifice themselves to overcome Hitler.

    My father spent 4 years in Palestine, separated from his wife and family. He and his other British Army colleagues experienced the joyful acclimation of the Jewish population of Palestine.

    His first hand descriptions of that time featured in my childhood.

    1. ambrit

      I can relate to that, both my grandfathers served in the war. But, I grew up in an upper middle class American city then heavily Jewish in population. The Ultra Zionists were very much in evidence.
      Not to harp on it, but, if England won the War, who won the peace?

    2. Eustache De Saint Pierre

      Neither do I – My grandfather & his three brothers all served for the best part of six years, but perhaps amazingly all returned. The fact that Britain did not as the likes of Lord Halifax might well have, let the Nazis in, provided the spring-board for the liberation of Western Europe & also protected the lives of the estimated 300, 000 Jews then living in Britain – besides, I do not believe that we should be held responsible for the sins of our Fathers, who were for the most part were nothing more than dispensable pawns.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Compare that to Putin.

      Russia lost as many people in their Great Patriotic War as well.

      Are their descedents forgetting to never let that happen again? Do we feel the same about not letting Russia get wiped off the map as well?

      Where are Russian Americans making sure of America’s special relationship with that country? Do they need a strong lobby as well?

  16. ambrit

    Something that has happened on todays’ comments section has me perplexed.
    Rather than blow it up here, I’ll send it to the AI e-mail cache. Tagged Comments Question.

      1. ambrit

        I’ll get back to you if I get an e-mail reply. (They’re so busy, I give this a very long lead time.)
        Oh, and, according to mail, ‘’ in no longer a good address.

  17. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “Mysterious Cold War bunker”
    It sounds like one of Hugh Howey’s Silos. Maybe “Dr. Strangelove” isn’t a comedy.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    In NYC, strippers are most assuredly not prostitutes, unlike in other cities. Touch one of the girls, and you get thrown out immediately. But it looks like even stripping isn’t what it used to be.

    No one in New York ever tried, ‘I can get you a role on a TV show?’

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      It’s the rules of the clubs. They do not want to be busted for prostitution. The bouncers watch carefully and immediately remove anyone who touches on of the strippers. Even in second-tier clubs, the bouncers escort the girls into cabs at the end of the evening.

      Guys who are visiting can get hookers easily enough at hotels.

  19. Pelham

    Re the Nation piece on the Democrats’ post-mortem:

    The report seems to dance around the REASONS the Dems made all those supposed mistakes last year and the MOTIVE behind the strategy suggested by Schumer of picking up suburban Republicans in place of working-class voters.

    And I suppose that reason has to do with serving Wall Street and corporate America rather than people. That is the party’s top mission, and all the party’s genuine service to various causes that fall under the heading of identity politics, for instance, are just a means toward achieving the prime directive.

    There. I believe I’ve encapsulated what ails the Dems far better than the Greider article or the report. Now, what to do?

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From Fake Meat…North Koreans’ Hunger (Reuters).

    Take the dregs left from making soy bean oil, which usually go to feed the pigs. Press and roll them into a sandy-coloured paste. Stuff with rice, and top with chilli sauce. The dish’s name, injogogi, means “man-made meat.”

    In North Korea for years it was a recipe for survival. Today it is a popular street food,

    It shows how much we don’t have to clear more forests to grow food. Who knows what other stuff we throw away today will be in demand tomorrow?

    And I thought I would read something about veggie meat or tempeh concerning fake meat, but in fact, real dog meat was mentioned (and visually presented as well).

    1. Ned

      Here’s my Korean food story:
      A serviceman was told not to eat off base.
      He ignored that and bought a bowl of noodles outside the gate which he consumed to the last drop.

      The noodle vendor started shouting at him in Korean.
      He retreated back onto the base and asked what he had done wrong.

      Fellow soldiers informed him that you are only supposed to eat the noodles.
      The liquid in the bowl is poured back into the caldron.

      You just know that sooner or later someone is going to open a North Korean restaurant with these recipes and it’ll be a big hit with the hipsters.

  21. JTMcPhee

    Syntax, my dear, and punctuation — now the story is that the election was rigged by Publius Tacitus Fabius Maximus? What happened to Putin?

    1. Jen

      Recommended reading: Team Rodent by Carl Hiaasen.

      “Disney is so good at being good that it manifests an evil; so uniformly efficient and courteous, so dependably clean and conscientious, so unfailingly entertaining that it’s unreal, and therefore is an agent of pure wickedness. . . “

      1. audrey jr

        When I was studying law my torts prof consistently used Disney as a “case” of corporate takeover of what should be the rule of law. We studied lots of cases of Disney’s many and varied civil and criminal complaints – from workers rights to bodily injury of theme park patrons to dirty dealings within the City of Anaheim and so on – and these were all just here in Southern CA.
        If our dear readers could see the squalor in which the citizens of Anaheim, many of whom work at Disneyland and whatever they are calling that P.O.S. park attached to it, have to live they would be appalled. Unadulterated greed, bad neighborhoods and high crime is what I associate with Disney, one of the most unhappy places on earth, IMO.

        1. Wukchumni

          Walt Disney almost got his tentacles on Mineral King here, after being awarded the contract to build a ski resort on what was Forest Service land in 1965. Everything went wrong for the Disney Co. and nothing was ever done, and Mineral King was later included into Sequoia NP in 1978.

          In 1963-64 the Disney company went on a buying spree in Mineral King, deploying as many as 3 & 4 shadow buyers, and they ended up buying about 30 acres altogether. Nothing can be built on their property they still own, and if you park @ the Eagle/Mosquito Lakes trailhead parking lot, you’re actually parking on Disney property, and it must be the worst kept Disney property in the world, a mixture of broken asphalt, scattered here and there gravel & dirt.

          Locals know it as “The Disney Parking Lot”.

          Here’s the saga:

  22. John k

    It would be wrong not to speculate…

    I noticed Huma is still on the payroll, at a declining scale, along with other top aides.
    So to tell all they have to see a book deal as a better payoff. If compensation continues to decline the calculus changes. Maybe more revelations to come? Does anybody have just in case docs/pics?
    But foundation no longer bringing in big bucks… and maybe not the principals, either?
    How much is it worth to hear her rant about the Russians and how we should move to the final solution?
    How fast is the money running out? Wouldn’t want to get down to the last hundred mil… can’t really grift again until She’s back! In 2020…

    Donna apparently not on the payroll..

  23. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    “America losing Afghanistan by any metric…” etc.

    Not so fast, pilgrim, it depends which metrics you mean, if you’re simply counting bodies and bombs, sure, it looks fairly sub-optimal.

    But if you update what is meant by the term “America”, however, you can get a more accurate picture. Many have the impression that the term “America” refers to that collection of activities, grouped within borders on the North American continent, representing the efforts and aspirations and needs of all of the people who live there.

    But an updated definition of the term would more accurately reflect the reality of this area (formerly known as a “country”) and would include only that subset of the local population on behalf of whom the area is currently administered.

    Using that updated definition, which encompasses a small number of individuals and the offshore structures through which they commonly operate, the Afghanistan operation can only be described as #Winning. This loosely-federated cooperative has successfully harnessed the collective work of the entire continent’s inhabitants, channeled it into their global war generation enterprise, and sequestered the economic gains of the enterprise away from the rest of the world’s citizens.

    So let’s not get bogged down with outdated metrics like “number of children incinerated per week” or “numbers of hospitals destroyed”, let’s celebrate the amazing wealth-generation mechanism this represents for individuals like Mr. J. Bezos and Mr. B. Gates (whose company’s largest customer is the U.S. Army).

  24. readerOfTeaLeaves

    Many thanks for the Der Spiegel link on digital economics. It’s brilliant, esp [italics mine]:

    The digital economy, by contrast, is based on algorithms and its most powerful companies don’t produce any physical products. Customers receive their services free of charge, paying only with their data. The more customers a service provider attracts, the more attractive it becomes to new customers, who then deliver even more data – which is why Google and Facebook need not fear new competition.

    Also, a link about tax reform- Velshi and Ruhle (msnbc’s smartest on-air people since Ratigan threw in the towel):

  25. Tooearly

    You mean to say an internal committee at Equifuchs gets to decide whether or not insider trading occurred? I think not..

    But the way the whole story is buried I wouldn’t expect anything to come of the fact that we were all really screwed and the perps get richer

  26. Altandmain

    Apparently the Democrats worked to keep Bernie Sanders from voter databases.

    Yeah the more we know, the uglier it gets. I wonder what else we will learn in the near future?

    At this point, it may very well be that Democrats are a lost cause. A third party might be the only option. I know it will be incredibly hard to set up a third party, but really, I think we’re reaching the end of the line here.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It is hard for, say, Spain to take over Catalan and not let the natives have some say.

      So, if you take over the neoliberal Democratic Party, do you kick out all of the natives, or keep many around who know how the machine works?

    2. Oregoncharles

      Yes, it’s hard to set up a “3rd” party, but it’s already been done in most states.

      The real barrier is in people’s minds; polls show a large majority wish there was one, but they won’t vote for the one(s) that exist. Habit and preconceptions.

      However, the “major” parties now have such low loyalty that they’re collapsing, so the matter may be taken out of our hands. The recent “decision” by organized labor to explore setting up their own party is a straw in the wind (I’ll believe it only when I see it). They don’t have enough members any more to do that effectively, though the Working Families Party already exists in a number of states, including Oregon (which has 6 to 8 ballot-qualified parties).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It is and always has been, or should have been way beyond Bernie vs. Hillary.

      The injury party is not just one candidate, but the voters themselves.

      And it was not up to one man to decide what to do the explosive stuff revealed by Donna Brazile. Certainly not with the-end (stopping Trump)-justifies-the-means (not disclosing it to the voters) thinking.

  27. tryp6

    “Equifax Investigation Clears Execs Who Dumped Stock Before Hack Announcement”

    Not surprising but should be a clear indicator of the endgame of America: when the snake starts to eat itself.

  28. GF

    Matt Taibbi’s Must Read article in Links above is a worthwhile read. However “How the Trump Administration Is Gutting the U.S.D.A., Endangering Families, Food, and Rural Communities” – Vanity Fair, covering a much more comprehensive topic, is also very important and should be designated as the week’s Must Read.

  29. Wukchumni

    New York strippers strike: Dancers say nearly-naked ‘bottle girls’ are grabbing their cash, cite racism SFGate

    The strippers here really struggled with the prolonged drought and tips tended to be loose change, which is a real hassle for both the stripper and the tipper, do you have any idea how difficult it is to make sure a quarter adheres to the inside of a g-string?

    Anyhow, things are on the improve, as numerous nightclubs have recently installed Coinstar machines in the dressing room, the girls pool their tips.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Quick pop quiz here. Who gives more value for money and are more honest in their line of work?

      a) New York strippers
      b) Wall Street bankers
      c) Washington politicians
      d) Silicon Valley billionaires

  30. Wukchumni

    This is from this week’s Kaweah Commonwealth, the local weekly fishwrap:

    Commercial Fee Hikes

    “Sequoia Sightseeing Tours has been operating in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks for 16 years. The provide an invaluable service, Driving the Generals Highway year-round so visitors don’t have to negotiate the steep, narrow road.

    Under the current fees, SST pays $75 each every time one of their 15 passenger vans enters the NP.

    Under the proposed commercial fee increase, the per-van entry fee would increase to $370 per van from May 1 to September 30, and then would tally another $5 per-person fee at the end of each season.

    “SST Owner Becky Bischoff stated: “If these proposed fees go into effect on May 1, 2019, we will be forced to go out of business.””

    I just looked up their Trip Advisor reviews, and out of 223, there was just one 3-star, and seven 4-star reviews, every other one was a 5-star.

    What a shame, they built a small business from the ground up and turned it into a thriving operation that employed around 10 people, only to potentially lose it all on account of a 500% increase in entry fees to get into the National Park.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Nah, the high fees keep the riff-raff out of the park so that it can be enjoyed by the right sort of people. Then the park can be monetised as these people will be able to afford it all and will understand the reason for the changes. Hey, I have an idea. How about a MacDonalds atop Mount Rushmore serviced by a cable car while they are at it? They just have to make sure that those golden arches aren’t directly above any of those Presidential portraits or else it will make them look like they are wearing rabbit ears!

  31. audrey jr

    I was reading the “Off-Guardian” piece on Hillary – why won’t she go away, already? – and while reading just two words were runnin’ round in my head: Libya and Honduras. I roared when I did see those two words mentioned finally.
    One of my sons was recently married. His wife is the daughter of a Chilean banker who was a bigwig in Allende’s administration and during our coup there he was forcibly detained and tortured for many, many months. My daughter-in-law’s mother was pregnant with her at the time and these wonderful people suffered, physically and mentally, the tortures of the damned. They both still have terrible PTSD and are barely able to function on many levels.
    Having seen firsthand how our governments ‘foreign policies’ affect other peoples I am particularly outraged at Hillary’s engagement in and support of coup d’etat’s during her stint at Foggy Bottom. She is, quite simply, reprehensible.

    1. JBird4049

      Everytime I do any serious study of international politics during the past century I have to go through the Hellscape my nation made of so much of the world. Dear Hilary is merely the latest of a long line of Americans committing crimes of war, and against basic humanity. Don’t forget that she is a personal student of Henry Kissinger who was one of the planners of Pinochet’s coup.

      It’s hard to be patriotic when people like these control our country.

        1. JBird

          How f***ing fabulous.

          The man probably must have fantastic behind the scenes influence, which is hard to fight because it’s so hidden.

  32. audrey jr

    OMG! ROFL!! Thank you, J T McPhee for the line of the month: “no bacon drive thru trial begins…”
    That’s gonna stick with me for a while.
    And thank you, Eustache St. Pierre, for the Off Guardian link on Squillary.
    Really great links page, today, Yves and Co. Hope you are feeling better.

  33. Wukchumni

    The U.S. government just released a report confirming everything we know about climate change. Grist

    Devil’s advocate dept:

    There’s no win in winnowing us away before climate change becomes irrefutable, and we’re in for a long slog, something along the lines of how long Wegener had to wait, until plate tectonics was accepted.

    Perhaps that’s the political right’s whole game plan?

  34. Oregoncharles

    From Can Silicon Valley Own Its “Shoes Off at the Airport” Moment?: ” the people who run these companies—the ones who routinely show up for magazine cover shoots, or traipse halfway around the world to meet with presidents of other countries while they try to expand their platforms—couldn’t sit in front of lawmakers and show their concern for the problem at hand.”

    Do you suppose that’s because they know it’s all kayfabe? Of course, it’s also because they have the pols paid off. I remember when that lesson very publicly dawned on Gates.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I misspoke. They wanted me to sign up for an account, which I usually avoid. The link I provided didn’t, even though it’s also Bloomberg.

  35. flora

    re: “Democrats still toxic in rural America” – Politico.

    I think that’s true. My quick analysis: The current Dem estab only cares about currying favor with the “big guy” money centers located, in terms of rich “Big Guy” voter density, in the financial, media, digital, govt, and shipping centers on the East and West coasts, with a smattering of Southern and Texas locales.

    “Little guy” voter density is located west of the Hudson River and east of the Sierra Nevada. Flyover country. Largely rural America. The land of deplorables.

    When Hillary refers to “deplorables” I don’t fault her for hypocrisy.
    The current Dem estab has no use for little guys (not rich) or policies that would help little guys against the powerful vested interests preying on them. Areas of high “little guy” density are no use to the current Dem estab; areas like Appalachia, the midwest, the mountain west, or any rural area.

    When Schumer talks about “moderate suburban Republicans”, as if they have no concerns beyond tax rates and reduced regulations, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. His parochialism shows. Big time. imo.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      It might not be as extreme, but you’ve reminded me of “rum, Romanism, and rebellion” and the attacks by Jeb’s sheepdogs in 2015, not against Trump but against Trump voters, claiming they were being fooled when I believe Trump was a “none of the above” placeholder.

  36. Oregoncharles

    On the Taibbi article: Have Pell grants been converted to loans? Because Taibbi mentions cutting the grant program in that context.

    One interpretation would be that cutting the grants forces even more borrowing, but that isn’t quite what Taibbi wrote.

  37. flora

    re: Democrats still toxic in rural America – Politico.

    Longer comment in moderation. Shorter: Nothing says “I’m fighting for your issues” like running an empty suit. (see Andrew Sullivan link)

  38. Ed Miller

    I returned late to see if anyone would add to the Portland situation links. I confess to disappointment that there are so few comments on Portland links and Chris M’s comments about the current situation in Portland (and Oregon IMHO). I can’t claim to know much about the history here because I’ve only been here since 2002 and have never been very interested in politics, at least until the Dubya disasters and the trend to worse and worse with each administration since, but I agree fully with Chris’s assessment. Are there really no readers here who can add to the little that has been said?

    1. Oregoncharles

      I live some distance from Portland and don’t read the Oregonian, so the most recent, school district stories are new to me. I was familiar with the Goldschmidt story and some of Adams’ problems.

      That said, I think the real point is that these problems are everywhere – even very “blue” Portland. The present wave of attention may make a real difference, but ultimately, power will always corrupt, people won’t stop being sexual or getting carried away, so we’ll always have to be vigilant against abuses.

      i think the next step is to figure out how we can rework our institutions to prevent, rather than punish afterwards, the abuses. We don’t seem to be there yet.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Another aspect of the harassment issue: the term applies to at least 3 different offenses. (Some, like Weinstein, are accused of outright violence, which goes way beyond harassment.)

        The first is abuse of power: “Sleep with me if you want to keep your job.” This is the “casting couch” pattern that seems to have pervaded the entertainment industry.

        The second is excessive persistence, as well as excessive vehemence; it’s the original sense of “harassment,” and shades off into stalking. It’s between peers, and a matter of degree or appropriateness. Assuming good faith (a big assumption), it calls for a new etiquette; a redefinition of appropriate behavior.

        3rd is hazing or outright hostility (not the same, but similar in effect). Hostility because established workers resent a new category coming in – it could even be women resenting an invasion of men. Hazing is common in some workplaces, as well as fraternities; my son experienced it in an industrial workplace, even though they were glad to have his help. But it’s different when the newbie is a woman and hazers are men. Hard to tell from outright hostility, for one thing. And likely to have sexual content. Again, this is among peers; supervisors could be guilty of overlooking or encouraging it.

        The distinctions are important because they affect efforts at prevention. Clear rules should help with both of the peer-to-peer versions; the complicating factor is that the rules of male/female relations are, well, subtle, and won’t just go away because we wish they would. A remarkable number of marriages start at work.

        Abuse of power is always a problem when power gets concentrated; sexual abuse is only one aspect. The ideal solution is more democracy, reducing concentrations of power. Punishing bad behavior has some preventive effect, but happens when the abuse has already occurred.

  39. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

    Neil Goldschmidt Wikipedia:

    His legacy and career were severely damaged by revelations that he had a sexual relationship with a young teenage girl during his first term as mayor of Portland.

    I recall how the Portland Oregonian‘s first reaction was to claim that it was no big deal since the relationship was consensual….I believe the paper had to finally come around to the viewpoint that there are some things you simply cannot do in Oregon, regardless of how big an (L) you have after your name. See further examples at “Sam Adams,” currently.

    On the other hand, Senator Bob Packwood was savaged by that same paper for his unwanted touching of adult females. For the PO, it all depends on your bias.

    Go figure.

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