Links 11/9/17

Hot News from the Antarctic Underground NASA

Mammoth society seems to have been like that of modern elephants The Economist

Why This Fungus Has Over 20,000 Sexes Discover. “Where we have two traditionally recognized genders…” Who’s “we”? Thailand has 14 (or possibly 18). But who’s counting?

Tiny human brain organoids implanted into rodents, triggering ethical concerns STAT (AB). I would have thought we’d be going the other direction?

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

Me on the Equifax Breach Schneier on Security (CE).


EU gives UK up to 3 weeks to make Brexit bill offer FT. Everything is fine.

Brexit is ‘getting dramatic’, says EU BBC

Creative thinking can provide solutions to Northern Ireland’s Brexit challenges James Brokenshire, Brexit Central. Plenty of handwaving from May’s Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Any Yes, Minister fans in the house? For “James Brokenshire” read “James Hacker.”

Priti Patel forced to resign from International Development post over Israel trip New Statesman

Catalan strike severs road links as secessionist leader regroups Reuters


The Israeli-Saudi alliance beating the drums of war Middle East Eye

Saudi Arabia has united with Israel against Iran – and a desert storm is brewing The Spectator

The Middle East Is Nearing an Explosion The Atlantic

Defeated Elsewhere, Saudi Tyrant Declares War On Lebanon Moon of Alabama

Don’t Believe the ‘Reformer’ Hype About MBS The American Conservative. MBS is “Mohammed bin Salman,” not “Mortage-Backed Security.” Still, when you think about it…


Anniversary of the cash ban, covered by J-LS when it happened and just now:

One year on, jury is still out on India’s ‘black money’ ban FT

When India’s Money Helicopter Flew the Wrong Way Bloomberg and Night Lights, Train Trips Help Study India’s Cash Ban Impact Bloomberg

A year after cash ban, India’s black money market is thriving AFP

* * *

Emboldened by Modi’s ascent, India’s cow vigilantes deny Muslims their livelihood Reuters

Schools in Delhi close for a week due to smog conditions Christian Science Monitor


Trump’s $250 billion China ‘miracle’ adds gloss to ‘off-kilter’ trade Reuters

China signs on for $43bn Alaska LNG development FT

China’s super financial regulator headed by vice-premier more powerful than ministries South China Morning Post

New Cold War

The Democratic Money Behind Russia-gate Consortium News. I won’t speculate why HuffPo pulled the same piece, but its presence at Consortium News illustrates the importance of the small, independent venues the political class and the tech monopolies would so much like to kill.

Judge issues gag order in Manafort, Gates case Politico. “U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s directive released Wednesday doesn’t ban such statements outright, but prohibits any remarks that ‘pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case.'”

Report: U.S. Authorities Have Evidence To Charge Six Russian Officials In DNC Hack Reuters. From 11/1, still germane. Source: “People familiar with the investigation.” Big if true.

Trump Transition

Anniversary of Trump’s election as President:

A Year After Trump’s Election, Nothing Has Changed Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone (Re Silc).

The Trump presidency: Looking back one year and forward one year Council on Foreign Relations

Year One: My Anger Management Katha Pollitt, NYRB. I recommend Steps One (“We admitted we were powerless…”) and Four (“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves”) as particularly appropriate for liberal Democrats. Best of luck to Pollitt in her recovery.

Anniversary of the Apocalypse Michelle Goldberg, NYT

Trump’s Washington, One Year On Der Spiegel

* * *

Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ Bar Metaphor Is Really Stupid Benjamin Studebaker (UserFriendly).

AT&T has ‘no intention’ of selling CNN, no matter what Trump’s DOJ says Business Insider. Heartwarming to see ginormous monopolies joining #TheResistance.

The President and the Bomb LRB

Democrats in Disarray

Poll: Views of Democratic Party hit lowest mark in 25 years CNN. To mix metaphors, a wave built on sand?

The Democratic Party Is a Mess, but It’s Still Winning VICE (Re Silc).

Democrats will struggle to win back Obama-Trump voters The Economist

Suburbs Rebel Against Trump, Threatening Republicans in Congress NYT and Is it finally blue? Democrats speed Virginia’s transformation — thanks to Trump WaPo. Conventional wisdom congeals.

After pledging an aggressive race against GOP Del. Jackson Miller, state Democratic Party abandons populist challenger Richmond Times. Lee Carter won anyhow. It’s important to have an operational definition of “unity” from the liberal Democrat perspective; this is it. This also shows that the conventional wisdom is severely, and tendentiously, oversimplified, as in the articles from Pravda and Izvestia, supra.

Health Care

Election Results Invigorate Medicaid Expansion Hopes NYT. Sanger-Katz carefully airbrushes away hopes for Medicare for All, also invigorated.

Who Actually Is Reviewing All Those Preauthorization Requests? MedPage Today. Must-read.

Realizing The Promise Of Choosing Wisely Will Require Changes Both In The Culture Of Specialty Societies And In Public Policy Health Affairs. In case anybody from Health Affairs is reading this, the new cellphone-friendly layout is virtually impossible to read on a laptop — the enormous font makes the articles impossible to scan — and hence unsuitable for the expression of a complex thesis.

When Everyone Has Health Care Democracy. A Canadian doctor’s perspective.

Alabama task force performs drug raid, man dies. Officials take his home, split the proceeds. WaPo (SoC). SoC: “Another day, another unconstitutional (but legal) asset forfeiture except the same court that denied appeal gets a cut from the same seizure. As one of the article’s bicommentators said, if it was Robert Mugabe who did this we would expect it.”

Our Famously Free Press

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

Imperial Collapse Watch

Nobody’s Quaking in Their Boots, Anymore Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative. I hate it when that old reprobate gets it right.

Class Warfare

Why the U.S. Needs a Federal Jobs Program, Not Payouts Robert Rubin (!), New York Times. ZOMG!!! The Russians got Bob Rubin!!!!!!

Actually the magic money tree does exist, according to modern monetary theory Independent (UserFriendly). Review of Bill Mitchell’s new book, Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World. And When neoliberals masquerade as progressives Bill Mitchell

Walmart could face a huge class action lawsuit from its female employees Quartz

Rural America’s disappearing maternity care WaPo

Airbus knew of software vulnerability before A400M crash Reuters (Richard Smith). Richard: “In addition to the usual weird failure mode, we have an underlying bureaucratic cockup, supplier conflicts, slapdash software controls. Only 4 dead this time.”

Sen. Al Franken torched Amazon, Facebook and Google for using their algorithms to maintain their massive footprints Recode. There’s lots of innovation, for sure; mostly in rental extraction from the means of consumption.

Apple Is Ramping Up Work on AR Headset to Succeed iPhone Bloomberg (Re Silc). “Apple hasn’t finalized how users will control the headset and launch apps, but is investigating touch panels, voice-activation via Siri and head gestures.”

German officials celebrate doubled Twitter character limit AP. “Munich police said that ‘at last’ they won’t need abbreviations to tweet about accidents involving forklift drivers, or Niederflurfoerderfahrzeugfuehrer.”

Qatar Airways plane forced to land after wife discovers husband’s affair midflight Guardian. “A Qatar Airways plane has been forced to land midflight after a woman who used her sleeping husband’s thumb to unlock his smartphone discovered he was having an affair.” The phones may be smart….

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. jCandlish

    Patel’s mission to normalize Israel’s occupation of the Golan has been a resounding success.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, JC.

      Israeli interference in UK affairs appears to have been lost in the superficial and pusillanous coverage by the UK media, MSM and alternative. Compare that with their Russia hysteria.

      1. southern appalachian

        I keep thinking Brexit will have a much larger impact on the US and our foreign policy than I ever hear discussed. Maybe it won’t. But with the UK out, I don’t know that it will be as easy to build a coalition of support for the war against Iran. I assume in fact it will be something that more or less happens one day, that the natural appeal to the majority of the EU of working with China and Russia over the US and UK will suddenly seem obvious. There will be, I expect, a Chinese or a joint Chinese-Russian proposal for negotiations instead of war, and if the US/UK invasion idea does not have EU support, not sure we’ll get our way. That’s the day the world stops the US. With a proposal at the UN. And the work the Israelis have been doing to secure the support of the UK won’t have the payoff they are hoping for.

        Possible, anyway.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you. That is a very good point and, AFAIK, not been aired in public.

          Today’s speech by the EU27’s lead negotiator, Michel Barnier, in part a reply to Wilbur Ross’ speech a couple of days ago, addresses the issue.

          Here’s a summary and translation made on the hoof / over a late lunch:

          Barnier: “Ce marché unique qui est notre principal atout économique, c’est un ensemble de lois, de règles, de normes choisies en commun – et le Royaume-Uni les connaît bien puisque, depuis 44 ans, nous les décidons ensemble – et que nous respectons ensemble, avec des institutions et une juridiction communes.

          The single market is our main economic strength, it’s a collection of rules, norms chsoen in common – and the UK knows so since, for 44 years, we decided them together, and we respect them together, with common institutions and jurisdiction.

          Il n’y a aucune raison, je dis bien aucune, pour que le marché unique soit fragilisé à l’occasion du départ d’un Etat membre.

          There is absolutely no way that the single market can be weakened when a member state leaves.

          Troisièmement, il n’y a pas de partenariat futur sans règle du jeu commune. Il n’y aura pas de relation commerciale étroite sans level playing field.

          Thirdly, there is no partnership without common rules. There won’t be a narrow commercial relationship without a level playing field.

          Cette règle du jeu n’est pas si facile à bâtir puisque, pour la première fois dans une négociation avec un pays tiers, il s’agira davantage de maîtriser les divergences réglementaires que d’encourager les convergences.

          The game rules are not so easy to build since, for the first time in a negotiation with a third country it’s about mastering the divergences rather than encouraging the convergences.

          Mais elle est important parce qu’elle est une des conditions des futurs débats de ratification de notre accord avec le Royaume-Uni devant les Parlements de chaque Etat membre et donc évidemment devant le Parlement italien.

          But it is important because it is one of the conditions of future ratification debates of our agreement with the UK by the parliaments of each member state and so obviously the Italian parliament.

          Et quand j’entends le Secrétaire au commerce américain Wilbur Ross appeler à Londres les Britanniques à diverger avec l’Europe pour mieux converger vers d’autres – vers moins de régulation, environementale, sanitaire, alimentaire, sans doute aussi financière, fiscale et sociale – je m’interroge.

          And when I hear the US Trade Secretary Wilbur Ross appeal to London to diverge from the EU in order to converge with others – towards less regulation, environmental, health, food, without doubt also financial, fiscal and social – I wonder.

          How about these translations from the EU27:

          Dutch: “You can’t sit on the radiator without getting blisters on your bum.”

          French: “You can’t have the butter and the butter money…and a smile from the milkmaid.”

          Italian: “You can’t have a full barrel and a drunk wife”.

        2. Sid Finster

          Oh, Europe will do as it is told. With a lot of grumbling and a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the task, but the EuroElites will do as they are told, even if the war is not in their interests or those of the countries they nominally serve.

          Witness the European response to the latest round of Russia sanctions.

          1. VK

            Rules of the past have always been: German policy is ececuted by Berlin, but made in DC. In addition, UK is the lever from the west and Turkey the lever from the east to manipulate the EU in DC’s favour. That seems to have changed significantly lately.
            Cutting out the middelmen?

        3. PlutoniumKun

          There is no possibility of the EU supporting military action in Iran, apart from anything else, German and French and Italian companies are hoping to make too much money there. Any collective ‘action’ would have to be unanimous and there is zero chance of that happening. The very best the US could hope for is that the EU would stay neutral, allowing individual countries to support action. Its possible that the EU could be strongarmed into supporting additional sanctions as a means of forestalling military action, but even this would be very difficult. There is no political gain for any major European leader to be seen as Trumps puppet.

          If Trump wanted active European support in a coalition he will use NATO, not the EU as his cover. It is far harder for an individual NATO member to veto ‘collective’ action. In the NATO context, countries like the UK or Poland would probably be happy to cover for the less enthusiastic members.

          That said, I doubt if Trump would be too bothered, he’d be happy to go in with the Saudis and UAE as ‘allies’. There is little for Trump to gain in getting the sort of coalition, fake or otherwise, that was built up for Gulf Wars II and III. Its not just that the Russians and Chinese would do everything to stop it, Japan, which is heavily dependent on Iranian oil, would also oppose it (in that very passive, Japanese way).

          1. Sid_finster

            IIRC, that was the same logic proposed to stop the 2003 War on Iraq, and it was equally futile.

            Whether the US uses the EU or NATO as its sockpuppet to me seems a distinction without a difference.

            1. southern appalachian

              Interesting, thanks. Still, could see a revival or renaissance of the ideas behind the formation of the common market, that EEC and subsequently the EU is necessary as a counterweight to the US. It makes sense in a way that support for globalization does not, and could signify a turning point. I don’t know – something to think about.

          2. Mark P.

            PK wrote: There is no possibility of the EU supporting military action in Iran, apart from anything else,

            Large segments of the Pentagon don’t support military action in Iran.

            True, the clique that Mattis and McMaster belong to likes to make harsh noises toward Tehran and would love to bring Iran to heel. Even they understand, however, that military action would have disastrous potential downsides.

            As was evidenced by Mattis quickly backing away when Trump talked of the US unilaterally abrogating the nuclear treaty.

        4. Procopius

          Well, it appears Saudi and Israel, as allies, will be attacking Libya before they attack Iran. The Israelis have not been that successful in their military operations in Syria, but those have been too poorly reported in the U.S. to get a good understanding why. The Saudis, essentially, do not have an Army, which is why the ground troops they employ in Yemen are all mercenaries or Al Qaeda, and mostly recruited and paid by the Emirates, not by KSA. The Saudi National Guard is more a works program for low-ranking Saudi citizens.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, its amazing that (so far as I can see) not one media outlet has asked the obvious question of what on earth she was doing meeting senior Israeli officials so many times with an Israeli lobbyist in tow. Do they really think the conversations were limited to how much money could be provided for refugees?

  2. Otis B Driftwood

    Ironic that even as the U.S. has dwindling influence worldwide we still maintain nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories abroad at great expense in national treasure and lives. And yet, that isn’t enough, as it is necessary to spend even more money on the military. Isn’t this a classic symptom of an “empire” in decline?

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you and well said, Otis.

      I was a schoolboy when Paul Kennedy’s book addressing such matters was published. Along with Henry Kamen, an expert on imperial Spain, Kennedy came to lecture us at school. Neither expert has been on their airwaves for a quarter of a century, AFAIK, but we do get MSM and think tank chicken hawks and blow hards daily, especially on the alphabet soup week-end shows like GPS, Smerconish, SOTU, MTP etc.

      The mainstream coverage of the goings-on in Saudi Arabia has been similarly risible, especially in today’s FT. I sent Luce’s fish and chips wrapper to dad. He worked there, including as one of the royal family’s doctors, from the autumn of 1992 to the spring of 2014, but had also served with the Royal Air Force in Aden and Gulf War I.

      1. David

        I remember reading Kennedy’s book when it came out (everyone I met in Washington seemed to have a copy) and not thinking that the thesis was particularly original. Great powers always over-extend themselves, and either retreat bit by bit (as the British did) or flail around trying to preserve their position as the US has done. All these bases (the recent ones anyway) are a sign of weakness, not strength, as you send people from one leak in the dyke to another. Its a commonplace of history that empires always start to implode when they look their strongest. The British Empire, if I remember correctly, covered more territory than ever before in 1948.

        1. Procopius

          Parkinson’s Law. Or maybe it was in the second volume, whose title I don’t remember. You can always tell when a government organization is moribund, because that’s when they build a huge, expensive, gaudy new headquarters. He pointed out that the Colonial Office build a huge new building in 1948.

  3. JohnnyGL

    I spotted a couple of interesting bits in this piece…

    “However, a win based mostly on high turnout of base constituencies conceals its own weak underbelly, and that’s how Democrats, even in victory, failed to make significant inroads outside of its left-leaning coalition. In 2016, for example, Hillary Clinton won only 24 percent of white non-college graduates in Virginia. Northam––more moderate than most Democrats these days––didn’t do much better, getting only 26 percent.”


    “A Fox News pre-election poll in Virginia showed that of those voters who viewed healthcare as their top issue, Northam won it 69 percent to 20 percent. Rest assured Democrats across the nation took note.”

    Healthcare the big driver, perhaps? So, Dems win in spite of, not because of, their idiotic leadership.

    1. Notorious P.A.T.

      Rest assured Democrats across the nation took note.

      Maybe they did. So what? It’s not that the Democratic Party wants to win but doesn’t know how. Rather, they clearly would rather lose with pro-corporate candidates than win with populists.

  4. The Rev Kev

    Hard to tell if Mohammed bin Salman’s threats are serious or not. If he wants to go head to head with Iran, he must surely know that his oil fields would be in range of Iranian missiles and that the Persian Gulf would be closed. He would have to get the US do it for him as Trump is such a buddy to him. Anybody care to guess what the price of oil would be like if this particular balloon went up? Perhaps this is why the threats against Lebanon. An attack there would limit damage to Saudi Arabia to zip and would still jack up the price of oil which would help Saudi Arabia’s bottom line. Of course Israel would have to do all the heavy lifting here.
    There is another factor to consider. Whether the Saudis get Israel to attack Lebanon or not, the Israelis would have to consider the Russian missile coverage of this region who get their own vote. An example of this in play was in 2013 when reportedly the US launched two missiles towards Damascus from the Mediterranean which were intercepted and shot down by Russian ship-borne missiles off Syria. Obama may have said ‘Yes we can!’ but here Putin said ‘No you can’t!’
    I am guessing that bin Salman is a gambler here. When you over-extend yourself, logic dictates that you prioritize what is vital to your interests and concentrate on them but he appears to be not only doubling down on his present bets (attempting, for example, to starve Yemen out) but he is making several more massive bets in the hope that all will work out well – or that the US or someone may bail him out if his bets go south. If I was him, I would adopt something from the Roman Emperors and have a mirror installed at the end of each hallway so that he can be sure that there is nobody hiding around each corner in his palace as he walks down those hallways.

    1. Sam Adams

      War is hope. On a domestic, regional and economic basis. Plus the bonus for Trump and the US War Party to distract the population.

      1. georgieboy

        Fascinating comment from the Moon of Alabama post to which NC linked, evidently from a retired oil industry type:
        “I’m just going to suggest that the inbreeding among the various royals in KSA is a factor in their mental processes. Having met around 12 or so of the lower end of their princelings, I can tell you all that two of them had no fingernails and another two had ungulate nails. Both of these are caused by inbreeding. This same proclivity to marry sisters and cousins, to keep the money in the family, throws hemophilia and reduced mental capacity offspring. Both of these are quietly kept secrets in KSA.

        Anyone who has met a few will know that the majority are small in stature and share numerous physical characteristics, many of which are indicative of inbreeding at this point in time. This could very well be a factor in why KSA can be led about by others and why they often make strategically poor choices.

        Never imagined that my seeing obvious inbreeding among royals while in the oil business might have a bearing on events like this, but there it is. It is perhaps of benefit to admit the possibility of MBS as an idiot, but ruthless, offspring. Then again, he could just be following suggestions from another (Kushner) idiot son-in-law.

        These guys seem to run in ever smaller circles as global money is held in fewer and fewer hands.”
        Inbreeding !! Geopolitics !! Whew….

        1. Jen

          I worked for the Genetics department an Ivy League institution that had a research collaboration with one of the hospitals in Saudi Arabia many years ago. Our researchers were astounded by the number of genetic abnormalities. Stuff that was extremely rare here affecting 1 in 100 people there.

    2. JTMcPhee

      For some reason all the sturm und drang in the current state of play in the “Middle East” calls to mind a series of Bible studies I attended decades ago. I forget the exact arch title the preacher applied, something about “being shrewd for God’s Church and America.” The axis of the study was the many successes of the often faithless and subtle and disingenuous and murderous “Old Testament Heroes” of the Israelites. Like Jacob, who tricked his blind old father Isaac into giving Jacob the paternal blessing and rulership of the tribe, thus skunking Esau the elder son, (Gen. 25:29-27:46). And a whole lot of other events. Including the origin myth that lays the claim to all that lebensraum currently under dispute, in the story of “Jacob’s ladder,” Gen:28:10-22. Lots of alliances of convenience, and then the Israelites sneaking in and cutting the throats of the allies and leveling the city and enslaving the women and children… Not that the Hittites and Canaanites and Philistines and the rest were much of an advertisement for the innate decency of humankind. And post-Biblical, we got the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin at a rally in support of the “peace process” per the Oslo accords:

      MbS is going to need a huge stock of mirrors — there are so many corners over there…

      Driving around the streets of Largo, FL, one sees a lot of those Christian church signs with changeable messages, often with a chapter and verse link as authority — interesting how many of those links are to Old Testament chapter and verse. I wonder if God knew about the oil and gas reserves and nuclear weapons and the internet and stuff, way back when… Per reports, of course, God says “I am that I am…” As Walter Cronkite intoned, “And that’s the way it is.”

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Mirrors and Roman emperors.

      In Japan, or feudal Japan, they had this (from Wikipedia):

      Nightingale floors (鴬張り or 鶯張り uguisubari) About this sound listen (help·info), were floors designed to make a chirping sound when walked upon. These floors were used in the hallways of some temples and palaces, the most famous example being Nijo Castle, in Kyoto, Japan. Dry boards naturally creak under pressure, but these floors were designed so that the flooring nails rubbed against a jacket or clamp, causing chirping noises. The squeaking floors were used as a security device, assuring that none could sneak through the corridors undetected.[1]

  5. cm

    wrt “Year One: My Anger Management Katha Pollitt” — a fun quote from the article:

    Actually, Trump voters are not the only people I hate. I also hate Jill Stein voters and Gary Johnson voters and Bernie deadenders with their ridiculous delegates math and people with consciences so delicate they could not bring themselves to pull the lever for Hillary so they didn’t vote at all. I hate everyone who thought there was no “real” difference between the candidates because Hillary was a neoliberal and a faux feminist and Trump was not so bad. I hate people who spent the whole election season bashing Hillary in books and articles and Facebook posts and tweets, and then painfully, reluctantly dragged themselves out to vote for her, as if their one little, last-minute ballot cancelled out all the discouraging and dissuading they’d spent six months inflicting on people. I especially hate everyone who thought that electing a reactionary monster would be okay because it would—or could, or might, who can tell?—bring on the revolution. Looking at you, Susan Sarandon and Slavoj Zizek! You are idiots and my heart seethes with wrath against you.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Oh, cool! I am on Katha’s hate list.

      Will it become as fashionable as Nixon’s enemies list?

      1. Barmitt O'Bamney

        I made it onto her list three times! And I’m thinking of becoming Slavoj Zizek (artificial inslavination is still state-subsidized in Slovenia) to make it an even four.

    2. Samuel Conner

      I started into the article but gave up early, it seemed like it was going to be a really disagreeable read. Is she upset at all with the HRC campaign, or the candidate herself? It sounds a lot like blame-shifting.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I’m sure she’s not, but she sounds like a spoiled kid, reading only just that passage.

        But I’m sure she’s not.

        1. Harold

          What about her husband? Does she hate him? He has been blackballed & blacklisted by all media including his own wife’s (Katrina’s) publication. That must be frustrating at the dinner table. Something doesn’t compute.

    3. Craig H.

      Why This Fungus Has Over 20,000 Sexes

      Joe Rogan is mostly a neanderthal but a couple times a year he stumbles into a great interview. This week he did mushroom guru Paul Stemets and if you like mushrooms you might like this one.


    4. Pat

      Sounds to me like Pollitt is desperately pointing fingers everywhere seeking someone besides herself and her cohorts to blame. Once again denial is not just a …

    5. David

      “I know there are people who do not love their fellow man, and I HATE people like that” – Tom Lehrer, 1965.

    6. Vatch

      Ms. Pollitt’s ire would be better directed elsewhere. Today’s Naked Capitalism article “Why You Should NEVER Buy an Amazon Echo or Even Get Near One” provides some issues that might really make her eyes bulge and her blood pressure rise.

      1. Sid Finster

        I doubt she cares. For folks like Ms. Pollitt, abortion and same sex marriage are the only things that matter.

        1. JBird

          It seems to me too many are focused hating, and fearing, others because of whatever earthshaking issue rather than looking at the circumstances, and the humanity, of the others.

          That would of course also involve eventually looking at our current political economy as all the ills we have are exacerbated, if not outright caused by it.

          Crap job, crap food, crap healthcare and that’s if they have those things does not make for a healthy person, or society, but hey free market capitalism is the cure for everything, so ignore your lying eyes, and keep with the hate.

    7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      All that sound and fury, over nothing?

      A Year After Trump’s Election, Nothing Has Changed Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone (Re Silc).

    8. John D.

      I read it, and it gave me a headache. The article comes off as an extended temper tantrum from a spoiled child.

      Looking at what she’s turned into, I find it remarkable that I actually respected Pollitt once upon a time. Back during the Clinton presidency, like many others in the tiny section that falls under the progressive/liberal/leftish umbrella in the mainstream media, she genuinely tried to separate the crazy right-wing rage-gasms against the Clintons from legitimate criticism. She (and various others) were actually willing to – gasp! – criticize the Clintons back then. Not anymore, it seems. Perfect Hillary never made any mistakes or miscalculations or did anything wrong. It was all the fault of the peasants who wouldn’t shut up and do as they were told by their moral and intellectual superiors. Like her. Dear God.

    9. lyman alpha blob

      Someone should point out to Pollitt that one year after Trump’s election, there is a 700 mile long wall built on the US/Mexican border. Built by Obama.

    10. jrs

      ” and people with consciences so delicate they could not bring themselves to pull the lever for Hillary so they didn’t vote at all.”

      actually we don’t consider it a delicate conscience but having a conscience at all. I don’t mind people who do LOTE voting for strategic reasons, I do mind those who don’t even feel the horror of having to make such choices in the first place. Oh well since clearly it’s never troubled her, maybe she can get back to us when she gets a sense of morality. Until then.

  6. Jason Boxman

    Back when I listed to NPR about 10 years ago, they interviewed Willis and I bought the book. It’s a fascinating read.

    Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State

    Might be worth revisiting to see how we got where we are.

    1. Mark P.

      Willis’s thesis — his linkage of the nuclear bomb and the imperial presidency — is obviously correct and most NCers have probably made the connection. Given that any decisions about a response to a nuclear first strike on North America would have at best 30-45 minutes to happen, it’s hard to see any other arrangement arising whereby that decision could be made except by referring it to the top US executive in the short time available.

      Yes, as Willis pointed out, that has had unfortunate ramifications for American democratic society.

  7. Tom Stone

    Reading the posts about asset forfeiture ( $14Billion in 2014-2015) and the pervasive state of surveillance helps me to understand why the DiFi and other members of the credentialed class are so focused on overturning the second amendment.

    1. JTMcPhee

      I have to wonder: Does anyone really think that when the SWAT Team kicks in your door, that the Sovereign Citizens will ever be able to shoot it out and win? Or that you will be able to keep the cops from seizing your car and cash after one of those “traffic stops”?

      There’s a reason that so many”modern” guns look like toys, and vice versa…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Yesterday, someone mentioned police jumpiness and anxiety.

        It exacerbates or reinforces the positive feedback loop.

        Will it provoke a triggering event…a Tiananmen, a Black Sunday?

      2. a different chris

        Kicks in your door? People in the Middle East would be happy to have such personal service. But we will get it eventually — I make fun of a lot of the starry-eyed BS’ers about how good our military is at identifying “stuff”, but I have no doubt they are plenty capable of blowing your house to smithereens from an helicopter just over the horizon.

        But you buy that gun. At least it’s some blood flow for the economy.

      3. Notorious P.A.T.

        Let’s face it: The United States is the most armed country on Earth, by far, yet our freedoms keep getting chipped away. The government can listen in on our conversations with no warrant, confiscate our property merely on suspicion of wrongdoing, grope us at the airport or prohibit us from flying at all, even have us killed without filing charges or going through a trial.

        1. Anon

          Because those folks aren’t interested in celebrities and sappy melodrama.

          It’s their land and culture and they aren’t going to just let it go.

      4. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        What does it say about our utterly supine citizenry when the annual amount stolen by the police (asset “forfeitures”) exceeds the annual amount stolen by all criminals (in burglaries, robberies, purse snatch etc) and nobody seems to give a damn? Answer: we get the country we deserve.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Once again: not in Oregon. An initiative some years ago banned “civil” forfeiture; a conviction is required.

          This doesn’t affect the federal police, of course, but my actually inhibit them – I don’t hear about forfeitures by them, either.

      5. Oregoncharles

        they might, if they were actually prepared for a battle. not that their victory would last long.

        Interestingly, the Feds meticulously avoided a shootout during the refuge occupation and standoff. Trying to live down some past blunders, like Waco?

  8. TiPs

    Too bad the CNN piece on Dems poor polling numbers (37% favorable) didn’t throw in a contrast of Bernie’s support number (57% from April). Gee, I wonder what explains the difference…?

      1. Samuel Conner

        I have read that a deep ventilating belly laugh is good for one’s health and one should have at least one a day.

        Thank you, Slim, for today’s laugh!

    1. Robert McGregor

      I guess “fingerprint ID” is not so secure after all. She just grabbed his thumb while he slept. We’ve heard stories about drug dealers cutting off thumbs to use the fingerprint to open phones. Even Hollywood had a movie scene where the villain kills the guy, then grabs his dead palm and shoves it on the “reader: to open up the missile computer and try to start nuclear war. Maybe the old-fashioned numeric or alpha-numeric passcode is better. How does the iPhone X “face ID” fit into this? Can’t the the Iranian wife hold her husband’s phone in front of her husband’s face? For the average person, the main security worry with iPhones may be having your phone broken into by a family member rather than a stranger who is trying to steal your ID or corporate intelligence.

    2. Robert McGregor

      I guess “fingerprint ID” is not so secure after all. She just grabbed his thumb while he slept. We’ve heard stories about drug dealers cutting off thumbs to use the fingerprint to open phones. Even Hollywood had a movie scene where the villain kills the guy, then grabs his dead palm and shoves it on the reader to open up the missile computer and try to start nuclear war. Maybe the old-fashioned numeric or alpha-numeric passcode is better. How does the iPhone X “face ID” fit into this? Can’t the the Iranian wife hold her husband’s phone in front of her husband’s face? For the average person, the main security worry with iPhones may be having your phone broken into by a family member rather than a stranger who is trying to steal your ID or corporate intelligence.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        What is my IT guy supposed to do with our company password policy that states they must be changed every 90 days…thumb transplants? Facial plastic surgery?

    1. Jane

      I loved the way the solution to such problems is said to be adding sensor devices to the semi. No mention that a shuttle driver would not have just stopped, he would have been leaning heavily on his horn.

      The self-driving advocates fail to consider the purely intuitive sense drivers develop over the years; the one that lets you know that guy is going to change lanes even though he hasn’t signaled or that head case is going to try to make a right turn from the left lane or that fool is just going to keep backing up or any other number of lame brain things drivers do every day.

      AI won’t cut it until it can act as irrationally (excuse me, intuitively) as the rest of us.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        What is a self-driver car currently programmed to do, when someone tries to hitch a ride?

        Do I have to show a little leg?

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Top IT guy working in this domain told me the purveyors are working on the “ethics” settings: if the vehicle must choose between a tree to hit and a baby in a stroller which should it choose? Maybe that will be user-selectable.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The difficulty ones:

            1. To avoid a 90 year old or a 19 year old?

            2. To avoid a man or a woman of approximately the same age?

            3. To avoid a white collar urban dweller or a farmer?

            4. To avoid a person with two legs or one with one leg only??

            5. To avoid a human or a robot?


            We must cover all contingencies.

    2. The Beeman

      I looked for a discussion of what the passengers did after the crash.

      Did the passengers get out of the shuttle?
      Did the shuttle door open to let them out?

      In NYS after a collision, both drivers get out of their vehicle (if it is safe) and exchange insurance information and license info and call LE if there are injuries or if the damage is severe or help is needed for some other reason.

      How was all of this effected during this incident?

  9. scoff

    Rise of the City Bee

    Beekeeping in urban areas is on the increase.

    In light of CCD and the predominance of monoculture in industrial farming (the USDA reported that soybeans and corn accounted for more than 50 percent of all cropland harvested in the U.S.) a greater diversity of food sources in urban areas is thought to be beneficial to urban bees. Levels of varroa mite infestation and pesticide contamination are similar in both populations.

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      In rural areas too! The farm I grew up on has always had lots of bee hives…luckily no colony collapse with them as-yet, but I’ve started with some bumblebee-keeping up on ‘my side of the mountain’. Bumblebees have a diff life-cycle then honeybees apparently but (even though I have a plethora of them up there already) I figure the more bumblebee -friendly plants I get going…and the more bumblebee homes I can make and sprinkle around the acreage will be good!

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      I’m an urban gardener living in the heart of a rustbelt city. After five years of adding perennials, building up the soil and increasing the diversity of the plantings, my little gardens hosted lots of flying thingies from bumble and honey bees to hoverflies, moths, butterflies and lots of wasp-like insects. They especially liked my Florentine fennel and creeping thyme, though self-seeded bachelor buttons and zinnias were popular items as well.

      While the article pointed out the urban bees are also exposed to insecticides, I think we can have better luck pressuring for a reduction of spraying than would be the case in agricultural areas. I’m inspired by what I saw in my own yard this summer to see if some of us neighbors can’t start planting the tree lawns in some low-growing herbs and flowers. The urban farm across the street from me already does this, and mowing the tree lawns of abandoned lots and houses in my neighborhood already burdens the city.

    1. cm

      Thanks for the link. Good reporting!

      The officers went to the library around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday to speak with Seace about an ongoing investigation into what Mello described only as a computer crime.

      The officers took Seace into the conference room and spoke with him about evidence they believed he had on his cellphone, Mello said.

      Instead of handing over the device, Seace tried to leave the conference room with the alleged evidence, according to Mello, a move that resulted in the officers’ decision to take Seace into custody. The officers didn’t have a search warrant for the device, but they didn’t need one, Mello said.

      Based on their investigation, the officers believed Seace’s cellphone might have contained evidence of a crime and might have been used in the commission of a crime. Because Seace could have destroyed that evidence if he had been allowed to leave with his cellphone, the police didn’t need a search warrant to look for that evidence, Mello said.

      “We don’t need a search warrant to see it if there is exigency,” Mello said.

      Any lawyers (esp. from NH) wish to weigh in? Sounds like the kid did what I would do under similar circumstances.

      1. Romancing The Loan

        The police are correct that they don’t need a search warrant to take the phone if they think evidence on it is going to be destroyed – so if the evidence is in the call logs that wouldn’t work since the phone company has them too, but if you’re looking for a picture stored locally then sure. Their next step is to shut it in a Faraday bag and get a warrant. The phone was taken off of him at his arrest. Whether what’s on the cell phone ultimately gets into court against Seace depends on whether they had probable cause to arrest him for the crime and whether (when they search the phone) they had probable cause to believe evidence of a crime would be on the phone when they took it.

        Saying it “might have contained evidence of a crime” certainly isn’t good enough.

      2. pricklyone

        Also points out a shortcoming in “bodycam” program. Only issued to uniformed officers. You have just as much to fear (if not more) from plainclothes ‘detectives’. Think ‘Stasi’.

  10. allan

    Dirty business afoot in the Ways and Means Committee? [Start Making Sense]

    There was an interesting snippet in [Wednesday’s] Ways and Means hearing on the tax legislation. The Youtube footage is here, and the action that I have in mind starts at exactly 3:38:28. It’s a colloquy between Democratic Congressman Blumenauer and Republican Committee Chair Brady.

    Blumenauer reveals that he has been trying to get an answer for 3 days to the question of whether pass-through business owners – Donald Trump, law firm partners, etcetera – get to deduct state and local income taxes as trade or business (or investment) expenses that are allowable as itemized deductions, even though employees cannot do so, and whether the Joint Committee on Taxation revenue estimate was based on the correct and intended view of this.

    He notes that JCT chief of staff Tom Barthold told him one thing – which, as I’ve pointed out in earlier blog posts, was in at least one respect (and probably more than that) unambiguously mistaken – while the Ways and Means majority staff was simultaneously suggesting something very different (namely that yes, Trump and the law firm partner CAN deduct all of their state and local income taxes under the bill, whereas their employees can’t).

    Despite the old-style Congressional politesse that both Blumenauer and Brady resolutely stick to, there appears to be some anger under the surface about this. Brady won’t let Blumenauer ask Barthold a simple question, and promises only to provide some sort of answer to something or other in writing at some unspecified time or other (and while the clock is running out on committee consideration).

    Here is what I strongly suspect is happening:

    (1) While the Committee leadership knows that the answer is yes – the likes of Trump and the law firm partner can deduct their state and local income taxes under the bill, whereas employees can’t – it does not want this to be generally understood at present. So they are trying to stonewall.

    And very possibly also:

    (2) The Committee leadership knows that the JCT revenue estimate is wrong because it didn’t account properly for the widespread “business owner” deductibility of state and local taxes. This could either have been an honest blunder amid the high-speed train wreck of the rapid-fire drafting, or it could have reflected diffidence about fully explaining things to the JCT – it doesn’t matter now. But if they know that the revenue estimate is wrong, and that it would be higher if done right, and that this is at risk of coming out, then they may feel they are trapped and have to push aggressively forward, in the hope of completing this stage of the process before their actions are exposed. …

    This isn’t sausage making – it’s artisanal pigsty-to-table class warfare.

    1. todde

      I would say no.

      It’s a personal income tax, not a tax on conducting a trade or business.

      The personal state income tax is not ‘ordinary or necessary’ to the business. TANNER v. COMMISSIONER

      1. allan


        Rep. Kevin Brady Sheds Some Light on Pass-Through Mystery

        The House tax bill will not allow owners of pass-through businesses to deduct their state and local income taxes, according to a letter from Chairman Kevin Brady (R., Texas.).

        What will be deductible are certain sales and property taxes that businesses can now deduct in calculating their net income on Schedule C, Schedule E and Schedule F, according to a letter sent Thursday from Mr. Brady to Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D., Ore.).

        “In summary, taxes imposed on and paid by a pass-through business, such as sales taxes and certain property taxes, would continue to be deductible by the business, to the extent related to business property,” the letter said. “State and local income taxes paid by an individual owner of such a business would not be deductible on the individual’s tax return. …

        A letter from the chairman is of course binding on no one, and it’s not going to stop aggressive lawyers and accountants from driving a truck through this loophole.

        1. todde

          a letter from the Chairman establishes ‘the intent of Congress’ and will most definitely be used by the IRS in a Tax Court case.

          Along with 60 years of tax court rulings and a Committee report from 1944.

          I would definitely file Form 8275-R if I took this position.

          1. allan

            The letter wouldn’t just be part of the bill’s legislative history,
            which justices such as Scalia like(d) to mock or ignore?
            Genuinely asking, since IANAL.

            1. todde

              Sure,there are judges who ignore legislative intent.

              But then the IRS has a Treasury regulation that is decades old and has survived tax court case after case that says that personal income tax is not a necessary business expense and can not be deducted as such.

              State income taxes are not deductible* even though the taxpayer’s income is derived from the conduct of a trade or business. (Treasury Regulation 111, promulgated under the Internal Revenue Code of 1939; Sec. 29. 22 (n)-1 [as added by T.D. 5425, 1945 Cum.Bull. 10] Adjusted Gross Income.)

              *not deductible in computing AGI.

              And we also have the Brown case that states that taxes attributive to the production of income must be deducted in computing AGI.



     (AGI definition)

              1. todde

                So what am I trying to say?

                There seem to be two assertions being made:

                1) Personal state income taxes related to business income would not be subject to the $10k limit.
                TANNER states that “State taxes on net income, even though such income is derived from a trade or business, are not to be considered as deductions which “are attributable to a trade or business carried on by the taxpayer” .

                2) Property taxes would be deductible on Schedule A as long as it was for income producing property.
                BROWN states that “taxpayers were required to deduct their ad valorem property taxes from gross income to arrive at adjusted gross income” on income producing property.

                1. todde

                  and finally, tax deductions on Schedule A are irrelevant for people who are wealthy enough to buy politicians as it is an adjustment on the AMT calculation.

                  Which if I was going to negatively critique the tax bill, would be where I would start.

  11. bob

    “The transportation company Keolis is operating the shuttle. Its vice president of mobility solutions, Maurice Bell, said the bus will scoot through Las Vegas at no more than 15 mph”

    Who was worried about unemployment? There’s more than enough PMC jobs to go around. A few tiny shuttle buses now need a VP of mobility solutions. Presumably there is also a *regular* VP and a *regular* Prez too.

    “Let them eat administrators!”

  12. RWood

    Of potential relief:

    In a randomized, double-blind clinical trial—the gold standard of trials—a combination of ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) was just as effective at treating patients with acute pain in an extremity as three other pain-killer combinations containing opioids. The authors of the study, which was published Tuesday in JAMA, suggest that emergency room doctors may be able to simply skip the opioids during and after urgent treatment.
    “This change in prescribing habit,” they write, “could potentially help mitigate the ongoing opioid epidemic by reducing the number of people initially exposed to opioids and the subsequent risk of addiction.”

    1. Vatcxh

      In addition to what Spring Texan said, there are legitimate concerns about acetaminophen’s (tylenol’s) liver toxicity.

      The recommended oral dose is 660 to 1000 mg every 4 to 6 hours, but should not to [sic] exceed 3 grams per day.

      So one can take 1000 mg of acetominophen 3 ties per day, 750 mg 4 times per day, or 500 mg 6 times per day. It’s not clear to me how many times per day the combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen is to be take, but since a single dose consists of 400 mg ibuprophen and 1000 mg acetaminophen, once every 8 hours is the maximum safe frequency.

      And never ever take acetaminophen with alcohol — not even one beer.

  13. Craig H.

    Not much new in the Franken thing but I did read far enough to see this part:

    Franken delivered the speech Wednesday at an event hosted by the Open Markets Institute, a new nonprofit focused on competition. The organization recently spun away from New America, another think tank, alleging that its critical work on Google had been muffled because the search giant is one of its former parent’s top donors. New America has denied those charges.

    This was in the news a couple months ago when some guy at Open M. who used to be at New A. wrote something unflattering about google and got fired like the next day.

    Soon NC is going to need a new category on what the internet mega corporations did yesterday. I liked this piece on ZDNet:

    Self-driving bus crashes two hours after launch in Las Vegas
    The bus was touted as the United States’ first self-driving shuttle project for the public before it hit a semi-truck.

    They have a photo of the vehicle. It is more like one of those airport rental car shuttles than a greyhound.

  14. flora

    Matt Taibbi is right:
    Division isn’t an accident. It’s not even just a by-product of a commercial scheme, though the pioneering work of Roger Ailes and Fox News played a crucial role in our current mess, by showing media companies they could make easy money through the politics of bifurcation and demonization.
    “Division does make money, but beyond that, it’s highly political. It’s an ancient technique of elites, dividing populations into frightened and furious camps so as to more easily control them. When people are scared enough and full enough of hate, they will surrender their rights more quickly.”

    And poor Katha Pollitt has fallen for the scam, as have too many friends.

    But the main difference is that I hate people now. Well, not all people, of course. Just people who voted for Trump.” -Pollitt

    If she looked around she might understand economics is the driving force, not dogma. She might see the middle and working class in both parties have more in common with each other than they do with the billionaire-owned elites in either party. Both Trump and Sanders were outsider candidates; both despised by the cozy old duopoly; both promised to stop looting the little guy. Doesn’t mean either of them meant it but they recognized the primary issue of our time and voters responded.

    1. Vatch

      Both Trump and Sanders were outsider candidates; both despised by the cozy old duopoly; both promised to stop looting the little guy. Doesn’t mean either of them meant it …

      I’m pretty sure Sanders meant it. As for Trump, well, his entire career has been based on looting. (Let me clarify something: that doesn’t invalidate anything that you said.)

    2. Notorious P.A.T.

      If she looked around she might understand economics is the driving force

      But then she would lose influence. She is an expert at identity politics, but not so much at economics. If the debate shifts, people like her won’t be listened to as much, and that’s what she cares about most of all.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        It’s super important that our corporate overlords prevent any kind of class consciousness from entering people’s minds, that a single LGBT woman-of-color mother of two living in a city actually has an entire economic agenda in common with a married white blue-collar Red State Republican. If they ever got together to compare economic notes the billionaire oligarchy would be in serious trouble, so they foist every kind of divisive “issue” they can on us, gender, culture, identity, age. Buying in to these means you are playing right into their hands.

    3. a different chris

      But, but Peter Thiel is gay and Tim Cook is gay so they have a lot more in common with the gay guy that works with me than he does with, well, me.


    4. Left in Wisconsin

      both promised to stop looting the little guy. Doesn’t mean either of them meant it but they recognized the primary issue of our time and voters responded.

      Wait a second – did Pollitt’s preferred candidate promise to stop looting the little guy, “the primary issue of our time”? I thought she called us “deplorables.”

    5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


      “she looked around she might understand economics is the driving force, not dogma.”

      Does the economics driving force of voting for one’s fracking job, teaching job, political consultant job, university administrator job, coal mining job, police officer job, army job, etc, present a conflict of interest situation

      Year One: My Anger Management Katha Pollitt, NYRB. I recommend Steps One (“We admitted we were powerless…”) and Four (“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves”) as particularly appropriate for liberal Democrats. Best of luck to Pollitt in her recovery.

      Is it not moral to feed one’s family?

      Do we claim that what is moral is what is moral to us, and whoever opposes us is always evil?

      Can our economics not be moral, to some people, at any given time?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          You’re right that we have to be open to different possibilities.

          Egoism is not necessarily unethical. It can be ethical or not ethical.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          And we judge a proposal on its own merits, as much or as often as we can, and not entirely on its proponent’s self-interest or not self-interest.

    6. FluffytheObeseCat

      Trump should have been a boon to the comedy world, but he’s actually sort of destroyed it, at least at the mainstream level, where jokes have devolved into one-liner versions of MSNBC messaging. […] Obvious sells, and it will make some careers, but it’s a mental wasteland, and our continued appetite for this kind of thing is why absolutely nothing has changed in the year since the shock of last November 8th

      Taibbi has been hitting them out of the ballpark lately. Except I’m unsure whom he’s referring to with “our continued appetite for this kind of thing”. If he means the bicoastal media opinion-making elite, he is right. If he means the viewers, perhaps not so much. I’ve stopped watching Colbert among others in part because I don’t feel the need to listen to lame complaints dressed up as ‘humor’. Overall, however, it was a spot on article, written in very clear, clean prose. Thanks to Yves for linking it.

  15. JohnnyGL

    A sign twitter has gone too far….they’ve suspended angryberner/Peter Douche.

    Has management finally figured out how to destroy what they’ve created? Maybe they needed help from Congress to really master the skill?

    1. Byron the Light Bulb

      We get it; progressive scriveners rely more and more on the Tsar’s kopek to make ends meet after the collapse of print. It is still willful ignorance not to recognize RT’s mission in the US as sinister. A news outlet synthesized out of grief like Victor Frankenstein’s Creature, making demands for a thugo-cratic bride, then turning on its creator–yes, technically a liberating maneuver from the Creature’s perspective, but nonetheless a destructive gambit. Even the founder of RT was straight-up murdered for not showing enough fealty, and he was best-ies with the Kremlin.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Wow, correcting this fantasy screed is going to be good fun.

        “Progressive scriveners rely more and more on the Tsar’s kopek to make ends meet after the collapse of print being censored and silenced by the MIC-owned-and-operated mainstream press that views any dissent questioning Permanent Global War, destroyed civil liberties, and a health system that is not only the developed world’s worst on cost versus outcomes but is also designed as a protected rent-extraction scheme for insurance and pharma billionaire executives”.

        “…willful ignorance not to recognize RT’s mission in the US the CIA’s and supporting CNN’s mission to oust democratically-elected governments for decades as sinister.

        “Even the founder of RT senior DNC staffer Seth Rich was straight up murdered for daring to expose the now 100% documented rigging of the American electoral process”.

        Suggest you might be happier over at Breitbart.

    2. hemeantwell

      As if the New York Times is not an agent of .. you fill it in.

      As we move ever onward into a world increasingly dominated by transnational corporations, the idea that being an agent of a foreign national power should be of concern to us becomes more and more anachronistic. The myth of the invisible handed market becomes crucial to keeping the myth of the nation going.

    3. neo-realist

      I would start worrying even more if such a demand is made on internet blog owners due to their politics.

  16. j84ustin

    “Tiny human brain organoids implanted into rodents, triggering ethical concerns”

    The article misses the point. They fear that implanting human brain “organoids” might give rodents consciousness; the evidence is there that they already do! I just read What It’s Like To Be a Dog by neuroscientist Gregory Berns, who argues that while there may not be words for them to use to explain their thoughts and feelings, many animals do in fact have some sort of consciousness and self awareness.

    1. andyb

      ah! you are missing the intent of these experiments; it is obvious that they will create future candidates for the 2024 election cycle, already pre-programmed.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      My daughter kept three pet rats which I got to babysit often. The rats had distinct personalities and if they weren’t conscious they were doing a wonderful imitation.

    3. Lee

      I’ve said it before and will say it again: my dogs are some of the best people I know. Also, I had white rats and mice as pets when I was a kid. They too were quite personable.

    4. Kurt Sperry

      It seems to me that one would have to live in a delusional bubble not to realize and understand that animals fully have consciousness. Have these people never had a pet?

  17. freedeomny

    OMG – that article by Katha Pollitt. She is everything that is wrong about Democrats….she STILL doesn’t get it. I feel like writing her a note: “Get in line, sister. I’ve been pissed off since 2008. Deal with it”.

    1. Annotherone

      Yes, she also appears to be everything that is wrong with professional Feminists! I’d never heard of her, so looked in Wikipedia, noted she’s also a poet; found a few examples of her work, and she’s not half bad – at poetry. She should stick to that, instead of sounding like some malefic teenager – heck she was born in 1949!

  18. Wukchumni

    Headed out on a scwheet 10 mile backpack to a natural hot springs, and there is some precedence for bad things happening elsewhere when we’re there, as ‘shock & awe’ occurred 14 years ago, when we were soaking.

    c’est eau vie

  19. Vatch

    Wow. Gary Cohn really said that “trickle down” is good for the economy:

    We create wage inflation, which means the workers get paid more; the workers have more disposable income, the workers spend more. And we see the whole trickle-down through the economy, and that’s good for the economy.

    I’ll leave it to others to make ruthlessly sarcastic rejoinders. I’m simply stunned.

    1. Mel

      He did say “wage-inflation”. Most trickle-down implementors hate that word. It would have been better to use that word in the URL, instead of “trickle-down”. It’s the higher wages that really make the difference.

      1. Vatch

        There’s no guarantee that there will be higher wages for most people. When corporations get tax breaks, they might provide larger bonuses for top executives, buy back shares of stock, raise dividends, or just save more money. We can’t be certain that they’ll raise wages.

        1. John k

          No, no. There is certainty. They will not use any part of any new or old tax break for higher wages.
          Henry ford was an aberration, a traitor to his class.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        You don’t often hear anyone from Wall Street say that wage inflation is good.

        Maybe nothing will be done to bring that about, or perhaps it’s guaranteed that it will happen. But it’s important to able to talk about, for example, Single Payer and to also talk about wage inflation being good for the economy.

        You establish the objective or get a key voice, from a banker no less, to affirm the objective.

        And then, you take another step, and another step.

    2. Louis

      “Trickle down” contains a grain of truth. Tax rates have negative effect when high enough and cutting them by a large enough margin: e.g. from 70% to 30% does bring some economic benefits. That being said, “trickle down” is still mostly B.S.—cutting rates now is not going to do anything more than increase the deficit and there is no guarantee that it will raise wages.

      Something similar probably holds for wage-inflation—there are instances when wage-inflation, if carried far enough, creates economic problems. However, fears of the nightmare scenario–the so-called “death spiral” or some other parade of horribles–are overblown at best and at worst a cynical strategy to keep wages artificially low.

      Years of policies have allowed housing and healthcare prices to go up while simultaneously keeping a lid on wage increases, yet some are still mystified why the pitchforks have come out.

  20. Jim Haygood

    Ed Yardeni’s weekly indicator is up slightly from last week. Firmness in industrial materials prices and lower unemployment claims contributed to the rise in the weekly index, while Bloomberg Consumer Comfort weakened a bit. Chart:

    Within this calendar year, the index is at its highest level other than two higher late-August readings just before Hurricane Harvey. Consistent with the Yardeni indicator’s strength, Atlanta Fed’s GDP Now currently projects 3.3% GDP growth in the 4th quarter.

  21. S. Brown

    Sarah Sanders Huckabee dumb-dumb bar story is basically a retelling of Atlas Shrugs: big rich industrial hero defunds money grubbing workers, walks away and society crumbles. (So, stupid. Rolling my eyes with my arms crossed. Might be impatiently tapping my foot and making derisive snorting sounds, too.)

    So, if this is true, why are the GOP congressional congress critters going after the average joe & jane tax benefits to pay for their big tax break-a-roonie to the very wealthy, corporations, and Wall Street? Let’s see they want to eliminate SALT, the want to cap deductions for mortgage rate interest and property taxes, eliminate tax deductions for medical expenses, eliminate the student loan interest deduction, plus considering limiting 401 k contributions, and much, much more. All so the rich can get their estate tax eliminated, ATM eliminated, corporate tax reduced, etc.

    So, I am going to retell SSH’s bar story: The rich person walked away. The remaining friends continued going to the bar. They found their bar tab significantly reduced because it turns out that the rich guy had been buying very pricey beer only for himself/herself. With their cost savings, plus securing a great business loan, they decided to buy the small local brewery that made the beer that was their favorite beverage. Furthermore, they decided to make it an employee owned company. Though no business runs smoothly, they were successful and lived happily ever after.

  22. Synoia

    Why This Fungus Has Over 20,000 Sexes

    A complete misunderstanding or complete ignorance of Taxonomy.

    For example: Mammal – Homo Sapiens – Male – Behavior.
    Notice the extra level after gender.

    The Fungus mentioned is Asexual. There are no genders.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From Wikipedia:

      The distinction between sex and gender differentiates sex (the anatomy of an individual’s reproductive system, and secondary sex characteristics) from gender, which can refer to either social roles based on the sex of the person (gender role) or personal identification of one’s own gender based on an internal awareness (gender identity).[1][

      So, gender can refer to either:

      1) social roles based on the sex of the persons


      2) personal identification of own gender based on a internal awareness

      The second seems to say gender is not related to sex (physical), but based on awareness (mental).

      Can something be asexual and still have a gender? Can asexual fungi or asexual robots have genders?

      Perhaps fungi are not capable of internal awareness.

      Maybe robots can be programmed or self-taught to be so.

      1. hemeantwell

        One of the bizarre trends in the public understanding of this has been an unwillingness to refer to a person’s sex at all. Whether out of solidarity with those who are oppressed because of their wish to emphasize gender identification against the culturally-determined fate prescribed by their biological sex, or because they’ve become confused and want to avoid stepping into a minefield, most people no longer refer to their sex.

        personal identification of own gender based on a internal awareness

        And such an awareness must, out of respect, be taken at face value. The fight against a therapeutically-imposed gender identity is certainly valid, but unfortunately, and to a stupefying extent, it’s come to mean that a lot of useful work showing that some people try to resolve severe internal conflict by taking shelter in an innovated sexual identity just gets tossed into the dustbin. Richard Friedman, one of the Times go-to writers on things psychological, has done at least one excellent study of the agonies of children who deal with the strains imposed by parental depression and family deaths by imagining themselves to be other than themselves in fundamental sexual terms. But when he wrote a piece in the Times within the last year or so about transsexuality, all he did was talk about how difficult it is to talk about it, without referring to his own work. Oi.

  23. Jim Haygood

    US Dept of Injustice aims its heavy artillery at RT:

    Washington will apply its Foreign Agents Registration Act to RT America, the channel has announced. The Department of Justice has given the broadcaster until Monday to register as a foreign agent, otherwise the channel’s head faces arrest and its accounts could be frozen.

    The piece of legislation was adopted in the US in 1938 to counter pro-Nazi agitation on US soil. Washington has made the decision to apply the act to the company that supplies all services for RT America, including TV production and operations. Just over 400 entities are currently registered under the legislation, but they do not include a single media outlet.

    RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan called Washington’s demand an attempt to “drive [RT] out of the country.

    Naturally there’s no corresponding demand for FARA registration by AIPAC, which orchestrates the broad-daylight extortion of $4 billion a year from the American people on behalf of a wealthy foreign power.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If we are going to bomb RT Harbor, should we first declare war on Russia

      More infamy?

  24. Synoia


    The new Saudi King, Kung MbS, is consolidating his grip on power. Monarchs have a long history, almost a tradition, of such behavior.

    Declaring war on Hezbollah is the classic distraction, “when in trouble at home go adventuring abroad.” The Shea are a convenient target as “hereditary enemies,” or the well known” bogeyman” to the Saudi populace.

    All of this has to be supported by BOTH Israel and the United States. Israel, because turmoil in Syria & Lebanon, both of which border Israel is good for Israel’s security.

    The US because chaos at the terminus of the Silk road puts an obstacle to China’s “One belt, one Road,” as does the regime in Ukraine and the Militarization of Eastern Europe, and the $strength of the Israeli lobby in the US, where the US government is funding election campaigns of the US elected by laundering money though “foreign aid.”

    Continuing war is inevitable, once could consider it either a continuation of historical strife, or the death throws of an empire which has sold its manufacturing crown and consequent influence, or both.

    For the literary minded I suggest a quick reading (all six volumes of turgid prose) of Gibbons’ “Decline and Fall.” My personal observation is Gibbon was blind to the facts, and got it wrong. The “Roman Empire” survived in many forms from about 600 BC to 1921, and Turkey is current the rump of that empire.

    Under Chana’s “One belt one road” I’d speculate on Turkey’s and Erdogan’s view of themselves as the Southern Terminus of the western end of that Silk Road.

    One can neither escape history, nor geography.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The last time there was an express Silk Road, that I can recall, was when Genghis Khan got many reluctant partners, who at first failed to realize how wonder it was to facilitate trade, to join his little project.

      “From Khanbaliq to Poland, all under the protection of the Great Khan.”

      Today, optimistically, the new Silk Belt adventure can be less bloody.

  25. Elizabeth Burton

    After pledging an aggressive race…

    The DCCC was crowing on Facebook yesterday as if they had anything to do with what happened in Virgina. It made my day to see how many people called them out it, including me.

    The DNC/DCCC/DSCC have reached the point of trying to put the toothpaste back. People who are now awake aren’t buying their snake oil, that they are watching to see what those organizations demanding their money while screeching about “stop Trump” do to support the candidates who are supporting the People’s Platform and seeing zip.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      It’s hilarious that the Ds are all crowing about some new anti-Trump wave because they won a single election. After losing several other special elections using the same strategy in just the last year. My only hope is that they really believe their own hype, take this victory to heart and repeat the same appeal-to-the-suburban-rightwinger strategy next year, which may finally reduce this sorry sclerotic excuse for a political part to the pile of rubble it deserves to be.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It will be used, whenever possible, on the ongoing civil war (for the next decade?) within the D party.

  26. D

    Re: Sen. Al Franken torched Amazon, Facebook and Google for using their algorithms to maintain their massive footprints – His wide-ranging speech Wednesday questioned their power over publishers and others.

    The poor Democratic Partay has a boo boo. They should have been busy, at least a decade ago, sponsoring Federal , State, and Local bills regarding issues concerning: Privacy; Unlawful Corporate Recording and Tracking (as if the general public are prey); Antitrust; Anti AI Control; and Anti Unnecessary Robots and Drones in once 100% Pedestrian Spaces, instead of attaining VIP jobs with those same Corporate BIG TECH Malfeasors and sponsoring bills legalizing Corporate Sales, Property and Income tax evasion to the tune of Billions upon Billions. Particularly guilty, are those legislators representing the Seattle area and the SF and Silicon Valley area (≈99.9998% represented by Democrats for decades). For one major instance, the obscenely regressive 9% average CA Sales Tax -which the impoverished and Elderly, with no affordable/feasible internet access, pay in California – is criminal.

    Of course it’s expected – as it should be – the Republican, Bircher and Libertarian Parties will EFF us, but turns out the Democrats were every bit as sadistic, and then some. Won’t ever be voting Democrat again after what I’ve witnessed what’s happened to those I love, all in Blue zones, every single one of them living in DAILY FEAR of falling through the cracks and getting sick with no insurance, despite education and no criminal records.

    Gotta run now, I get nauseous every time I think on the level of betrayal perpetrated by the Democrats.

    1. JBird

      But…but never mind all that you hater you, what about the racism!

      It’s interesting how the greater the precariot, never mind the destitute homeless, grow in number the more oppressed identities are found. Sad part is that often those oppressed groups are real as is their suffering, but they are used to conceal the other oppressed. If you, and yours, are dying from economic oppression, it’s hard to care about the oppression of others, especially if the others can pay their rent.

  27. Oregoncharles

    “To mix metaphors, a wave built on sand?”
    Ever been to the beach? Waves ARE built on sand.

    1. Anon

      Well, on some coasts, maybe. Certainly only occasionally in Oregon. Ocean water may “crash” onto sandy beach, but the wave form is actually the appearance of applied energy (usually wind); the water that undulates at a distance offshore does not move toward the beach.

  28. ChrisPacific

    James Brokenshire’s prescription for reconciling leaving the customs union with the need to avoid a hard border in NI: imaginative and creative thinking, and a positive attitude.

    My question: when does he plan to begin, and what has he been doing for the last 8 months?

  29. D

    Continuing my prior comment (currently in moderation):

    Yes, Jbird, as has been done for centuries, we have all been deliberately pitted against one another by those very few, considering the earth’s population, sociopaths who are obsessed with owning and dominating all, and yes – certain white people who never aspired to power and greed- have been used as disposable bait, under the guise of racism/genderism™, by our dear Public Servants™ in the Democratic Party.

  30. Procopius

    Report: U.S. Authorities Have Evidence To Charge Six Russian Officials In DNC Hack

    Interesting if true.

    Yes. Although,

    … prosecutors could bring the case to court next year, it said.

    does not really inspire confidence that it is true and that they have actual evidence. I am deathly tired of people who promote Russiagate panic by saying, “The evidence is right there in front of you.” They never say what the evidence is that I’m supposed to be seeing, and I haven’t seen any yet. What is this evidence they are supposed to have, if it has to be kept secret until it’s sprung on us as a surprise in the course of a trial?

  31. John D.

    I don’t mean to gang up on the Pollitt piece more than is necessary, but this part really deserves an extra heaping of scorn:

    “I hate people who spent the whole election season bashing Hillary in books and articles and Facebook posts and tweets, and then painfully, reluctantly dragged themselves out to vote for her, as if their one little, last-minute ballot cancelled out all the discouraging and dissuading they’d spent six months inflicting on people.”

    Did everyone get that? It’s not enough to actually vote for the supposed lesser evil now; if you don’t spend the entire election season grovelling before the anointed candidate in the most abject, bootlicking, cringing manner imaginable, then if he/she loses, it’s all your fault. It’s certainly nothing to do with the candidate’s behavior or actions…Why, he/she is an innocent as a lamb and as blameless as a new-born babe!

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