Links 12/13/17

Do not eat your veggies — if they are grown in your front yard, Miami Shores says Miami Herald

Apollo 8 and the 50/50 bet that won the Space Race for America Ars Technica

France will ban cell phones in elementary schools Treehugger

California fire damage to homes is less ‘random’ than it seems The Conversation

North Korea

Tillerson overture to North Korea: U.S. ready to talk without pre-conditions Reuters

How North Korea’s Global Financing Web Works Around Sanctions WSJ


China and India sail into choppy waters in New Great Game Asia Times. Pepe Escobar.

The Invisible ‘Other’ in Today’s Segregated India The Wire

Exxon To Disclose The Real Risk Of Climate Change

This city in Alaska is warming so fast, algorithms removed the data because it seemed unreal Flipboard (David L)

How divesting of fossil fuels could help save the planet The Conversation

It’s time to start thinking of driving like smoking Treehugger

Judges Question Trump Administration Attempt to Derail Youth Climate Case Climate Liability News

Warmer Arctic is the ‘new normal’ BBC

ALEC, Corporate-Funded Bill Mill, Considers Model State Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protesters DeSmogBlog

Jones v. Moore

Alabama Election Results: Doug Jones Defeats Roy Moore in U.S. Senate Race NYT

Doug Jones’s Victory Shows Why Democrats Must Compete Everywhere New York

10 Thoughts After the Alabama Senate Election Inside Elections (UserFriendly)

Steve Bannon’s Republican critics are gleefully dunking on him for Roy Moore’s shocking loss Vox

It’s Never Fun to Lose a Senate Seat, But the GOP Dodged a Bullet National Review

Trump congratulates Jones on ‘hard fought victory’ Politico

Facebook to stop booking ad sales through Irish HQ FT

The Force Behind Bitcoin’s Meteoric Rise: Millions of Asian Investors WSJ

I used to be a bitcoin bull—here’s why that changed Ars Technica

SEC Halts a Real Initial Coin Offering Bloomberg. About time!

Australian central bank mulls electronic banknotes FT

Sports Desk

U.S. Officials Probe Awarding of 2016 Olympics to Brazil WSJ. Corruption may indeed have occurred– international sport bids, e.g. Olympics, World Cup– are rife with it. But with scarce prosecutorial resources, why are full court press corruption and fraud investigations not directed closer to home? (Rhetorical question, of course, I’m well aware of the answer.)

Vitaly Mutko: 2018 World Cup boss says every country is doping – but only Russia gets blamed for it Independent

Michigan Police Won’t Explain Why They Arrested an 11-Year-Old Girl at Gunpoint AlterNet

More Terrorist Attacks Can Make People More Resilient FiveThirtyEight



Health Care

How healthy is your state? The disparities are stark Stat


Brexit has driven UK investor confidence to an all-time low – below levels seen during the 2008 crisis and Iraq war Business Insider

Brexit: separation deferred Richard North.

Why is Guy Verhofstadt angry with David Davis? Because Britain has the Brexit strategy of a toddler New Statesman

The Two Cultures 2017: Merit versus Brilliance The Yorkshire Ranter

Class Warfare

The great globalisation lie Prospect (Richard Smith)

What’s Going On Inside Your Wall Street Brokerage Firm? Wall Street on Parade

Everyone’s in favour of regional economic rebalancing for the UK – until someone suggests actually doing something about it Independent. The deck: Why is the Bank of England’s physical distance from manufacturers in the North-west, Midlands and North-east, not a disadvantage for its policymakers?

Ken Friedman, Power Restaurateur, Is Accused of Sexual Harassment NYT. Now, how about some more reporting on how widespread this problem is at non-celeb hangouts, please?

Whatever Happened to Cool Britannia? Jacobin

The Silicon Valley paradox: one in four people are at risk of hunger The Guardian

Tax “Reform”

Tax Bill: John Cornyn’s Fossil Fuel Provision Would Personally Enrich Republican Lawmakers International Business Times. David Sirota.

GOP negotiators move closer to reducing top tax rate for high-income households but face blowback WaPo

Magical Thinking Is Stopping Us From Taking to the Streets Truthdig

Sex in Politics…Not!

Schumer calls cops after forged sex scandal charge Axios

Journalists aren’t as tied by NDAs as they think Columbia Journalism Review

Net Neutrality

The FCC Is Blocking a Law Enforcement Investigation Into Net Neutrality Comment Fraud Motherboard

No, The FTC Won’t Save You Once Net Neutrality Rules Are Killed Techdirt

Advocates ready legal showdown with FCC on net neutrality Reuters

Trump Transition

Adorable European Politicians Accuse Wilbur Ross Of Insider Trading, Think It Actually Matters Dealbreaker

The Gillibrand Moment National Review

When America Was a Developing Country American Conservative

Populist Plutocracy and the Future of America Project Syndicate. Nouriel Roubini.

Trump allies demand special counsel probe of DOJ, FBI The Hill. Pass the popcorn.


U.S. Surrenders On Syria – Resistance Turns Eyes On Israel Moon of Alabama

Will Erdogan cut ties with Israel over Jerusalem? Al Jazeera

Why Are Democrats Enabling Trump’s Jerusalem Decision? Truthdig

The White Man Is Breaking His Word Again Vice

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Livius Drusus

    Re: 10 Thoughts After the Alabama Senate Election, I think this is the most important stat from the Alabama race:

    Overall, a relatively small percentage of Americans vote. Even though turnout was higher than expected, about 35 percent of voting-age Alabamians chose to vote in the most highly-publicized election in the state in recent history.

    This is a great example of why nothing gets better for working-class Americans. Nonvoters tend to be poorer than voters. Because of such low turnout both parties court affluent voters as their swing demo which seems to be what happened in Alabama. Jones won by increasing black turnout and slicing off enough well-educated suburban voters to beat Moore. So this election will be seen as vindication of the Democratic Party’s “go after moderate suburban Republicans” strategy instead of trying to increase voter turnout among poorer nonvoters which would be the way to go if you were trying to build a populist class-based coalition.

    1. Skip Intro

      Speaking of dunking, Charles Barkley flies through the smug dems pretty nicely:

      By giving Jones a narrow victory — he defeated Republican Roy Moore by about 21,000 votes — it was a “wake-up call for Democrats,” Barkley said, adding: “They’ve taken the black vote and the poor vote for granted for a long time. It’s time for them to get off their ass and start making life better for black folks and people who are poor. They’ve always had our votes, and they’ve abused our votes, and this is a wake-up call. We’re in a great position now, but this is a wake-up call for Democrats to do better for black people and poor white people.”

      looks like CB is slipping out of the IdPol shackles, demanding some intersectional concrete material benefits for poor folk of at least 2 colors.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Ooh I was like, THANK YOU Charles! when I heard that. None of CNN’s talking heads came near as close to telling it like it is as he did.

        Lotta moral leadership coming from the sports world these days in the absence of any from DC

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The rhetoric is nice, but the round mound is a long time Republican. He could easily mean more charter schools and tax cuts in the guise of teaching a man to fish boot strap garbage.

          1. Anon

            Got confirmation on that?

            Barkley has stated many times, on TV/radio shows I’ve observed, that he has always voted for a Democrat.

    2. fresno dan

      Livius Drusus
      December 13, 2017 at 7:34 am

      As I said in the “Doug Jones Scores Upset in Alabama Senate Race – 12/12/2017 – Yves Smith” post (if you haven’t read that post, its new to you!)

      I agree with your point Livius of how the dems will paint their victory. Dems attach themselves to the idea of repub suburban voters like leeches attach themselves to Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen – – but you remember what happened to the leeches?
      and where is “Not Timothy Geithner”

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Busy. An okay busy. And my legally blind mother wont get in the car with my dad anymore, and im the only child available until the new year. So Saturday morning will be devoted to capturing their cats for a pedicure then taking the imps to their appointment.

        1. Pat

          My sympathies, and my admiration on using the term “imps”. I love my cat but capturing and transporting him anywhere makes me call him terms far less family blog friendly than imp.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            They arent so bad. I have the other half of the litter, so I am possibly giving them too much credit but sense they are confused by me whereas they remain far more skeptical of my sisters.

        2. fresno dan

          December 13, 2017 at 9:51 am

          Undoubtedly, your stead as a dem wrangler will serve you well in herding cats, although the cats are much smarter….
          Hope you workload moderates so that we can get more of your insights!

    3. jsn

      The poor are offered nothing but costs to vote.

      There is no incentive because neither party offers them anything.

      There are penalties because to get by is a daily struggle and transportation and time cost money which they’re likely to be short of and likely to actually lose by taking time off to vote.

      Democrats don’t want them because they can’t materially contribute to the fab five consulting firms for whom the Democrats raise money, their real constituency.

      1. a different chris

        Seriously. We all need a day off for voting. I personally don’t even know how you do the “write in” ballot thingy, and I am under the impression you have to come up with an excuse to even use one.

        And I am an upper-middle class white guy who doesn’t have to be at his station at specified (or worse, unspecified “on call”) hours.

        1. John Zelnicker

          @a different chris – There is a space on most ballots for you to write in a name that is not on the ballot. You do not need an excuse. Having to provide one would eliminate the privacy of your vote.

        2. marieann

          In Canada when we have a Federal election all employees have to have 4 consecutive hours off to vote.
          This can be difficult for people who work 12 hour shifts. When I worked as an RN and we changed to 12 hours I discovered that it was difficult to get the time off.

          I complained to Elections Canada, the RCMP investigated and told me that hospitals were one of the worst for employees to get the 4 hours off.
          So we had a court case and the management quickly changed their policy

          1. HotFlash

            Bravo to you, marieann, and all you US-ians take note as to how a ‘better’ democracy should work. We also have several weeks of ‘early voting’ at central polling stations. Aussies take the cake for ‘best’, though, not voting there is a crime.

          2. Elizabeth Burton

            It’s a law in the US that people have to be allowed time off work to vote without repercussions, but neither of the establishment parties ever sees fit to ensure the people most likely to need that information have it. Nor how one would go about lodging a complaint if said time off were denied or the employee punished for asking for it.

            The only stipulation is the time off must be requested at least 24 hour prior, IIRC (and I make no promises I do). However, given most poor people are already working on-call hours so don’t know if they’ll be working election day or not, the law is pretty much useless.

        3. Chris

          Thank you Chris. In Australia, all polls are on a Saturday and booths (at every school) are open for a good 10 hours. Some who work that day have trouble getting there, but pre-polls are open for weeks before, so no real excuse here, particularly as citizens get fined for not voting.

          I think the US has deliberately designed voting to be on a workday for a reason…

          Glad that grub didn’t get voted in Alabama, perhaps now law enforcement feel able to start investigating the f’er

          1. A different Chris

            The pre-poll voting in Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) offices is in addition to postal (mail in) voting. And AEC staff visit hospitals the week before the poll to collect votes from patients.

            As a bonus, we get cake stalls and sausage sizzles at schools if we vote on the day…

            1. Chris

              Yes, our voting system isn’t perfect, just look at the same old cs getting back in again and again.

              But, at least our paper voting system, scrutineers and the large number of ways in which you can cast your ballot are streets ahead of what happens across the pacific. No wonder voter turnout is low and the poor don’t bother. I wouldn’t turn up.

              Cheers Chris, where ru btw?

              1. wilroncanada

                There are some differences between Federal and Provincial election rules in Canada, but by and large both are considerably more fair than anything in the US. First of all, elections are run by election commissions: for example, Elections Canada, Elections BC. These bodies are independent of political parties, and of the government party in power. Stephen Harper tried to politicize the process and introduced some of the dirty tricks into his party’s campaigns, tricks he and his handlers had learned from the Republicans in the US, but fortunately was largely unsuccessful.

                There are advance polls which run for about five days in at least some polling places in every riding, and through the whole period (28 days) at the riding head office. In addition, there is mail-in voting, and importantly, all mail-in ballots are counted. There is absentee voting for those who are not in their own riding at advance poll or voting day. In addition, Election officials travel to seniors residences, and, I believe, to University campuses, and they will go out from the polling place to a car on the street to supply a ballot and have it completed by a handicapped person. Still further, at the last provincial election, the election commissioner experimented with receiving calls from shut-ins, as pre-arranged, having them vote by telephone. Finally, there is vouching for prospective voters not on the list, on election day.

                Ballots are paper, hand-counted in front of scrutineers representing the political parties. The number of completed ballots in each box is matched with the number of ballots issued, and the number of names crossed off the list provided to that election worker team.

                The handling of election boxes is rigidly controlled. They are sealed and unsealed under a secure set of rules.

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            “I think the US has deliberately designed voting to be on a workday for a reason…”

            The origin is a holdover from agrarian societies. It has no purpose in the modern world, but a Tuesday in November means the harvest is over, makes sure no one misses church, and gives people time to travel to the county seat.

            Although Americans like to fancy themselves (ourselves) a young country, we are a crotchety bunch beholden to traditions dating back 400 years and in the case of the U.S. Constitution 228 years. The other problem is Americans love their Presidents so much and want them to be their religious figures they never learn much more than personality quirks of individual Presidents. I’m referring to the “educated” elites, not just random hillbillies and inner city ghetto residents.

            In the end, you would need people who won on a Tuesday to decide to pick another date for the election.

            1. HotFlash

              One *huuuge* problem for Americans is that youse guys vote for *every* darned office from Pres (well, electoral college) to school trustee to judge to dogcatcher. Bedsheet ballots indeed!

              Here in Canada, we have municipal elections, we vote for city councilor and mayor (some municipalities are different, but it’s still not a big number of offices to vote for). Federal and provincial elections, we only vote for Member of Parliament (MP and MPP respectively — some provinces call ’em different, but same idea). We only have one level of election at a time, so you can focus.

              We have three functioning parties — imagine that! Our judges, crown prosecutors, sheriffs, and yes, even our dogcatchers and are appointed, not elected. We don’t tend to get ambitious divas pandering to the galleries that way, just boring civil servants. And way fewer campaign signs.

              Not perfect, I admit, and we certainly have the odd scandal, but I think overall we have more emphasis on bread than on circuses.

    4. Sid Finster

      The lesson Team D will learn from *any* result is: “go after moderate suburban Republicans”.

      The first thing a successful management consultant learns is to find out what his client wants to hear, and then tell that to the client, dressed up with the some metrics and the latest buzzwords.

      1. Yves Smith

        See my other comment. There is no evidence that “suburban Republicans” voted for Jones. The result can be explained entirely by disgusted Republicans staying home.

        1. a different chris

          I think you guys are agreeing? Or at least SF isn’t disagreeing, he’s saying that the they don’t care what the facts of *any* result is, they will follow their pre-determined conclusions.

  2. Jim Haygood

    San Francisco’s mayor Ed Lee died suddenly of a heart attack. But there will be consequences:

    Acting mayor London Breed ordered flags to be at half staff for the next 30 days. All public transit in Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco — BART, VTA, AC Transit and San Francisco Muni — will stop service for a minute or two at noon in Lee’s memory.

    So the little people — going about their trivial daily business, rolling balls of dung — must sacrifice an extra couple of minutes of their inconsequential lives to honor a great leader, of whom they knew nothing.


    1. a different chris

      Comical – especially in light of my comment above. We all get inconvenienced because a pol died. We however do not get a convenient way to vote for said pols, though. You would almost think this is deliberate.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Oakland and San Jose are not San Francisco.

      Perhaps he was a Bay Area figure??

      I don’t think acting SF mayor can order SJ or Oak.

    3. Kevin

      and those heading to waiter/waitress jobs can look forward to handing over all their tips to management soon if the DOL has any say…

    4. laura

      Your disdain is offensive. Ed Lee grew up in public housing and used his law degree in defense of poor and immigrant tenants who were living in really substandard housing and facing eviction due to redevelopment.
      He was a decent, hard working man.
      He deserves better than your callous privilege and comtempt.

      1. JBird

        Acknowledge your callous privilege, damn it! You sir, disgust me. s/

        That is just rude. It adds nothing but unpleasantness to the thread.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The dignified response from the homeless might be: “We’re not animals.”

            Hopefully, it’s perceived as “We’re not animals. We’re are humans like you.”

            And not, ‘We’re not animals. You don’t have to give us a place to sleep in your (animal shelter) building.’

  3. Amfortas the Hippie

    re: the ban on front yard gardens.
    I see stuff like this, and I think:”I would never buy a house in such a place”.
    If i inherited one, I’d sell it.
    They should put their pool in the front yard, and raise alligators.
    My dad lives in a place like that…imperious church lady shows up regularly with a little ruler to measure the grass.
    and this enhances value?
    Reckon we should revisit what value means.

    1. ambrit

      You know the answer as well as I do. The ‘value’ in such restrictive covenants is that they keep the “wrong sort” of people out of the neighborhood. Power and control.

      1. fresno dan

        December 13, 2017 at 8:29 am

        What is considered significant can only be seen through the lens of time – in the desolate, disease ridden agglomerations (by no means can they be called cities) of humans a thousand years from now, humanity will recognize that this was the beginning of the path that led to despair….broccoli wars…

      2. wilroncanada

        Except that in this case, the “wrong sort of people” predated the silly rules. My children have lived in developments that don’t allow clotheslines, as well as veggie gardens, although my criminal children have put decorative lettuces, cabbages, peppers, and other veggies in amongst the perennials.
        The depravity!

        1. ambrit

          We lived on the Coast before Katrina. After, the local ‘powers’ began a program of gentrification, predicated upon a major ‘upgrade’ of the building codes. Roughly, if you wanted to continue living on your ‘piece of paradise,’ you had to shell out big bucks to meet the new “improved” codes. Poor people, who owned their land, were forced out. One of the first major ‘rebuilding’ tasks undertaken after that hurricane was the construction of “low cost” apartments, backed by government bonds, for the hoi polloi to reside in. The rents even there quickly underwent inflationary pressures. Wages, well, you can always find cheap immigrant labour on the Gulf Coast.

      1. Darius

        Miami Shores will look nice when seen from a glass bottom boat after Greenland and Antarctica melt into the sea.

        1. paulmeli

          Along with the entire east/west coasts of Florida and the Eastern US.

          Fortunately I now live in a part of Florida that is 150 feet above sea level.

            1. paulmeli

              The highest elevation in Florida is Sugarloaf Mountain, about 345 feet above sea level…in my county (Lake) overlooking Lake Apopka (near Orlando).

              I suppose if you rode it on a skateboard it could kill you.

              Interesting thing about Lake Apopka is you can get to the Atlantic Ocean from there by boat.

              1. ambrit

                I spent my teen years on Miami Beach, so I was a somewhat downscale neighbor of yours. The year we moved to the Beach, was the year they did away with the curfew for ‘coloureds,’ 1967. So, history is moving pretty d–n fast nowadays.
                And Sugarloaf Mountain. Isn’t that where Verne had his protagonists build their Moon Cannon? Verne had his characters in “From the Earth to the Moon” use the mountain because of its’ proximity to the equator, and thus superior orbital mechanics to translate themselves into the Ether. Now, in nearby Orlando, people are translated into another kind of ethereal plane, for a price, of course.

    2. Charlie

      I took a gander at the comments on that thread, and many seem to believe it to be a HOA, but I am under the impression that a village is government, not an HOA, which is why the challenge is on constitutional grounds. Am I missing something here?

      And did we forget towns were banning gardens on account of Obama telling agencies gardens didn’t pass health code requirements? If so, more elites taking away the way to take care of oneself and go off grid.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        re: health code insanity:
        when I had my cafe, during the season I would procure tomatoes from a grandma down the street…it was her passion and her exercise, and they were beautiful…where it counts: flavor.(misshapen and gnarly, the produce terminal would have rejected them)
        Health inspector happened to be there one day when she brought me a big box of them.
        he had a fit!
        “unapproved source!”
        …and we wonder why the world is fubar….

          1. wilroncanada

            Fortunately, we seem to live in an area where health inspectors must be run off their collective feet, or are terminally lazy. If they happen to arrive at one of the local coffee shops or greasy spoons when produce is coming in from a local “unapproved” source, they officially don’t see anything, because of their concentration on philosophical discussions with some staff and customers.
            I’m sure if they saw the renegade produce, they would be shocked! shocked!

  4. Colonel Smithers

    Further to the Brexit links, let me relay some tidbits from a City forum I attended over breakfast today to discuss Brexit, 471 days before it happens. The two dozen attendees included Brussels based lobbyists, financial services employees, lawyers and regulators working on Brexit. I was probably the only person not working on such matters.

    Both sides were keen to move on / to phase 2 and leave last Friday’s accord as a framework, not a binding agreement, but David Davis’ interview on the BBC last Sunday alarmed the EU27 who now want to have a binding agreement ASAP.

    A transition is an EU27 priority, but only to protect itself and give firms time to move from the UK. The EU27 are worried about a cliff edge. With regard to financial services, the Single Supervisory Mechanism’s Sabine Lautenschlager has given firms an idea of what is expected, so no letter boxes and battle readiness from day one.

    The UK is OK with a two-year transition and acceptance of new EU rules, but the EU27 are OK with a longer one. Firms see a longer transition as an incentive to move, especially as the capital markets union and other reforms, including proposals to make it easier to shift NPLs from banks to investment funds and for greater Pillar 2 scrutiny of (individual) banks and greater Pillar 3 disclosure, proceed.

    German regulators are keen on a longer transition as it makes their lives / supervision less complicated. The ECB is also keen as it wants the Single Supervisory Mechanism to absorb the European Banking Authority after Brexit and, as per a proposal to be published by the Commission soon after new year, to supervise systemically important broker-dealers and asset managers.

    Tusk is working the EU27 for the outline of a final settlement. This should be ready by the spring. The UK will be offered EEA or the EEA under a different name. The EU27 wants the October deadline brought forward as this final agreement, which is expected by all parties to be tougher than phase 1, will require EU27 unanimity, EFTA and EEA approval, and European Parliament approval.

    ECJ authority over the EEA is expected to upset the UK, so an EEA under a different name may have to massage that through, but it’s not expected to be insurmountable.

    The EU-Canada agreement (CETA) has been examined by City and EU experts, but not by the UK government. Only 10 of CETA’s 1600 pages refer to financial services. There’s a carve-out for prudential regulation of banks and depositor protection. The concepts are considered OK, but the substance is not sufficient for a services exporter like the UK. Attendees were puzzled by how or so many other UK professional services firms do not understand that they need an EU27 base and qualifications recognised by the EU27.

    The EU27 are not impressed with the output from City trade bodies and lobbyists, especially calls for mutual recognition, grandfathering and equivalence. The UK government and City should be lobbying Tusk and his stakeholders now as it will be too late once the EU27 adopt their position by the end of February.

    The UK’s focus on financial services has also alarmed the EU27. The EU27 see this as cherry picking, a threat to financial stability and allowing the UK to undercut the EU on tax and regulation. In any case, financial services are not an EU27 priority.

    Firms represented are ignoring the negotiations and quietly moving operations, not necessarily staff, from London. A longer transition is even better and more reason to move to even more activity from London.

    The UK government does not know what it wants and, therefore, has not set up civil service teams accordingly. In contrast, the EU27 are clear. With regard to financial services, the EU27 will toughen rules and no longer facilitate passporting and third country access. The EU27 will also insist on EU intermediate bank holding companies, just like the US.

    The EU27 are not interested in sector by sector agreements. Neither side has the time and resources to negotiate that way. A general services agreement could be OK, but the UK has no idea of what it wants and has not engaged.

    Barnier and Tusk were willing to be more flexible on phase 1, but the EU27 member states stood firm. The EU27 unanimity was a surprise, but that was due to the risk from the divorce bill. Holding the EU27 will be tougher as the UK is lobbying / threatening the east Europeans with a scaling back of its commitments against the Russian threat. NB we had a good laugh about the paranoia from the east.

    The EU27 want to the final agreement to cover not just the single market, but defence and regulatory alignment, taking May at her word about a “deep and special partnership”. The Netherlands and Balts are particularly keen to hold the UK firm to that commitment and want the UK to firm up about that ASAP.

    One economist and bank capital expert said his new employer, a Japanese bank, which is moving to Frankfurt, has crunched the numbers and reckons the UK economy will be 10% smaller by the tenth anniversary of the referendum and the limited social mobility will be effectively frozen.

    One of the Brussels based consultants, a British former bond trader, did not think that Brexit would happen as the challenges and complexity become more apparent, “even to Daily Telegraph readers”, or will be so soft as to be meaningless. He added that none of the firms and EU institutions moving out will come back even if Brexit is reversed. This was echoed by the above capital planner.

    The Brussels based attendees said it was embarrassing that none of the east European member states won the vote to host one of the EU institutions leaving London. It did not give a positive message to members outside the founding six. In addition, they were puzzled that the symbolism of the institutions moving out did not resonate in the UK.

    Attendees who are entitled to an EU27 passport are getting them and encouraging their children to study abroad and think about making their lives abroad. The above capital planner is German and getting his children, all of secondary school age, to get their parachutes ready. He’s a friend and, on the way out, reckoned that RBC now is like RBS in 2005-06. He’s just left RBC for the above Japanese bank, but was at BaFin and RBS.

    I hope to have another update, including from Bruegel, at the end of January.

    I will be in warmer climes shortly and, in the meantime, wish this fantastic community joyeux Noel et bonne annee 2018.

    1. fresno dan

      Colonel Smithers
      December 13, 2017 at 8:00 am

      thank you! very informative
      and Merry Christmas to you – now that we are free to say that since our illustrious president has closed the prison camps for using the phrase…..

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Thanks Col., very interesting.

      I’ve long wondered when the EU would change mode from ‘lets minimise damage’ to ‘lets start feasting on the carcass’. I think the success of Amsterdam and Frankfurt in getting lots of new jobs in the past few months has created an appetite for seeing how individual members can benefit most from Brexit.

      I’ve been puzzling over why the EU was allowing Bernier to encourage the UK to think it can move on from Phase 1 and what you say makes sense. I thought originally that putting extreme time pressure on the UK was the best bargaining stance for the EU, but if they are struggling to get the regulatory act together to extract as many finance and other jobs as possible as you suggest, then it makes sense to give the UK an extra two years to get its act together (I doubt if even 10 years would be enough if its the current lot). Unless something dramatic happens, the EU member states are always going to be several steps ahead of the UK.

      So I think what we are seeing happening makes sense in the context of an EU content to allow the noose to slowly tighten.

      1. tegnost

        Yes thanks col. and pk and vlade below…message from the EU to UK…if you’d like more time for us to poach all of your talent we can possibly work something out…

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Tegnost.

          I don’t know about other firms, but my employer, a German bank, is not allowing British citizens to apply for work in the EU27 due to uncertainty over migration status. This has been the case since the summer.

          With regard to “talent”, British qualifications will not be recognised in the EU after Brexit, no more of the equivalence that came with “1992”. In addition, most Brits are monoglot, so may not attract employers on the continent. I have heard that continental regulators want to converse with staff in their own language. Opportunities are, therefore, limited.

          Soon after new year, I will begin looking for work overseas, but not in the EU, and not necessarily in financial services, a career change after two decades. French is my second language. English is my third.

          1. ambrit

            A version of creole is your first? Not sarc, mon amis. What do those from your island paradise speak? How mutable and wonderful humans are!

    3. BillK

      See Friedman: Europe’s Era of Harmony Is Over
      The periphery is coming apart. Whether those countries leave the EU, are pushed out or stay is of little consequence. The common experience of Eastern Europeans makes them unique. The experience of southern Europeans in the past 10 years makes them unique. Britain has never been anything but unique. And Germany is by far the most unique, the most unlike any other nation in Europe. What the EU doesn’t want to face is that Europe is a continent of many unique nations and nothing more.

      The U.K. leaving and Poland being pushed out is not a strange geopolitical maneuver. It is simply part of an idea that could never have worked, and is not working.

    4. vlade

      Am not surprised on most of the above, as it is pretty much what I have been saying (even here) for the last 18 months or so. But I guess for the current UK political elite the “none’s so blind as that who doesnt’ want to see” applies well and truly.

      One comment on the “paranoia from the east” – I’m afraid this is similar bubble misunderstanding as London vs. rest of the UK.

      CE/EE countries were overrun by Russia at least in 20th century, and most of them had a history of Russian invasions for centuries (Poland/Baltics/Balkans). Especially now, there’s very little faith that Russia is a benign player in the region. These countries don’t want Ukraine in the EU because they would have any good relationship with it (in fact, most of them positively loath it and at best “only” consider them second-class similar to the “Western” view of CE/EE) – they just want a buffer to Russia’s influence.

      And, TBH, assuming that Russia does not want to renew its influence in the region (and doesn’t act on it) and play it to its own advantage is naive.

      That said, believing that the UK would be able to help with that either way is naive too (and more so post Brexit), in both diplomatic as well as military way (Polish military alone is larger than the UK one, and may be in a few years double the size of the UK one).

      1. Anonymous2

        ‘Whether those countries leave the EU, are pushed out or stay is of little consequence’.

        A little sweeping, I think.

      2. bronco

        Russia has a history of overrunning ?

        What about Germany? What about every other European country over running just about anything they thought they could get away with?

        Its just the natural state of affairs , no need to make Russia the bogeyman

        1. Wukchumni

          There was this Adolf fellow that ran wild all over Europe in the 30’s…

          1630’s that is. Gustav II Adolf, of Sweden.

          1. visitor

            Well, at that time Poland itself, then a major European power (as the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth — with a territory more than three times larger than what those countries represent nowadays), was just starting to get exhausted running over all neighbouring countries (including Ukraine and Russia).

            1. Sid Finster

              As recently as 1920. Poland’s performance in the run-up to Molotov-Ribbentrop is also not something that today’s Poles like to be reminded of. (Nazi Germany was most emphatically not I.V. Stalin’s first choice.)

              But if you want to make a Pole have a spitting sputtering Donald Duck meltdown temper tantrum, remind them that the only reason that there are Polish people living in Poland today is because the Red Army brought Nazi Germany to its knees.

              In other words, whatever other bad things communism brought, every single Polish person living in Poland since 1945 owes his or her life to the last Russian invasion.

      3. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Vlade.

        Fair comment.

        By east, we were / I was also puzzled by the Dutch concern. As I was last week when two Belgians said the same. It’s not just a UK view. Jacques Chirac is equally puzzled.

        With regard to the Polish army increasing in size, does Poland really want to skew its economy with defence spending like the UK has done for decades? Poles are most welcome to join Uncle Sam’s adventures in warmer climes. Brits have had enough.

        Poles may be used to it. There are descendants of Polish mercenaries in Haiti, descendants of men sent by Napoleon to restore French imperial rule in the 1800s. Other descendants are in Louisiana. Their ancestors fled to New Orleans with French settlers.

        1. Sid Finster

          I didn’t think they were mercenaries, so much as Poles who were over-enthusiastic for Napoleon. I may be wrong, or it may be some of both.

          Anyway, much like the neocon imperial project is something that both legacy parties in the United States agree upon, all mainstream Polish parties are enthusiastic participants in any imperial adventure that the United States requests, and will gladly pay for the privilege, just as long as they get to feel themselves to be the Americans’ Special Friend.

    1. Wukchumni

      If you had asked 1,000 seven year old boys like me in 1968 what they wanted to be when they grew up, only 927 would have opted to be an astronaut.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I remember as a kid painting a small figurine of a deep sea diver white to resemble a Gemini astronaut to go with a model of a Gemini capsule that I had made. And then came the days of the Apollo program which made it look like we were really on our way to an eventual Starfleet.

        1. Wukchumni

          We were living in Port Washington on LI in the summer of ’69, and watched the moon landing on the telly, and then about a month later my parents took me to the ticker tape parade in NYC, where my heroes were only 100 feet away from me, passing by.

          Every parade has paled in comparison, since.

      2. andyb

        In 1969, I watched as they landed. Always thought that in my lifetime we would go to Mars or beyond; but we never did. 30 years later, my son, who has a degree in astrophysics, explained the Van-Allen radiation belt to me. After that, it all made sense.

        1. RMO

          The Van Allen belts are quite close to Earth – anything beyond low-Earth orbit requires dealing with them and this includes the Apollo missions as they were the first crewed spacecraft to travel through the belts. Travel to Mars wouldn’t be any more affected by them than the Moon missions were. Lack of desire on a national level is the only reason the proposed Mars missions didn’t happen. Though the technical challenges were even greater than those the Apollo program faced they were (and are) not insurmountable. Elon Musk isn’t going to do it but a national or international program could if the will was there.

          1. Greg Bernhardt

            The Van Allen radiation belts are not the only source of radiation exposure. Cosmic rays are everywhere and energetic charged particles from the sun will still be present in the solar wind. Surface radiation on Mars will be higher because of the thinner atmosphere and the lack of a magnetosphere. Any trip to Mars will be vastly longer and hence will have higher cumulative radiation exposure. Lack of desire is not the reason for no manned mission to Mars. Lack of any compelling reason to go is.

    2. mpalomar

      Re: Apollo 8. Interesting recounting of the context surrounding the mission, including the Watt’s riots, a cigar chomping Admiral McCain signing off on holiday pay for the splashdown and the scientific expedition’s crew resorting to a biblical reading of Genesis to express awe and presumably humanities solidarity on our little orb.

      Having been alive and newly awakened from adolescent slumber to the America of Vietnam and Selma Alabama, I do recall seriously entertaining the notion that the space race was high tech circus for what the article describes as a “fractured nation.”

      Even at the time it was clear to some ‘rocket scientists’ that the best bang for the space buck was in unmanned flights, adding the human component made it compelling TV fair but was an exhorbitantly costly and dangerous hindrance to the actual exploration of space.

      “The war, the protests, and the assassinations had clouded the future of the country…
      Nearly a third of all living human beings had just watched the event. Even televisions in the Soviet Union carried the broadcast,” and yet…

      A strange little bit of information found while reading peripheral narratives; Madalyn Murray O’Hair of the American Atheists sued the US government for breach of the establishment of religion over the Geneis reading, thrown out by the Supreme’s for lack of jurisdiction. Bizarrely in 1995 O’hair was, “found to have been kidnapped, murdered and mutilated by David Roland Waters, a convicted felon on parole, and fellow career criminal Gary Karr, and a third man, Danny Fry.”

      “You may leave here for four days in space
      but when you get back it’s the same old place”

  5. Jim Haygood

    With the new year drawing nigh, I nominate the demonization of FBI agent Peter Strzok [pronounced “struck,” not “stirzock” as I had naively supposed] as the long-tailed story of 2018. Czech out this killah video of Rep Jim Jordan grilling FBI Director Christopher Wray:

    JORDAN: Here’s what I think, Director Wray. I think Peter Strzok, head of counterintelligence at the FBI; Peter Strzok, the guy who ran the Clinton investigation, did all the interviews; Peter Strzok, the guy who was running the Russian investigation at the FBI; Peter Strzok, Mr. Super Agent at the FBI — I think he’s the guy who took the application to the FISA court.

    And if that happened — I mean, think — if this happened, if you had the FBI working with a campaign, the Democrats’ campaign, taking opposition research, dressing it all up and turning it into an intelligence document and taking it to the FISA court so they could spy on the other campaign — if that happened, that is as wrong as it gets.

    “Now let me tell you,” President Nixon told Dean and Haldeman. “We could get the money. There is no problem in that. We can’t provide the clemency. Money could be provided. Mitchell could provide the way to deliver it. That could be done. See what I mean?”

    “Well, yeah.” Dean answered. “We can put it together. That isn’t of course quite the way it happened, but … ”

    “I know,” the President said, “but that’s the way it is going to have to happen.”

    Time’s up, Hillary Milhous Clinton.

  6. fresno dan

    Michigan Police Won’t Explain Why They Arrested an 11-Year-Old Girl at Gunpoint AlterNet

    The arrest has sparked local outrage. Police were in the neighborhood looking for the girl’s aunt, Carrie Manning, who allegedly stabbed her younger sister at a house nearby and was believed to be armed with a knife. As WOOD-TV reported, Manning is a 40-year-old white woman. Honestie Hodges is an 11-year-old black girl.

    Seems perfectly logical to me…../Sarc (do I really need a /Sarc label?)

    1. The Rev Kev

      Hey, I recognize this tactic. In Iraq during the occupation when American soldiers went to arrest some guy and he wasn’t at home, they would arrest the wife or take his kids and let it be know that unless he turned himself in, then his wife and kids would stay locked up. It was illegal as hell under international law but the soldiers did it anyway. It is common knowledge that a lot of cops are ex-military so perhaps they were using this learned tactic to get the aunt to turn herself in.

      1. fresno dan

        The Rev Kev
        December 13, 2017 at 8:43 am

        Gosh Rev, your soooo cynical – American soldiers engaging in as much illegality as American police??? Say it isn’t so….

        I thought it was obvious……the police were using the Roy Moore defense of not being able to distinguish young girls from grown women. And the police could claim they truly are “color blind”….

  7. Robert Hahl

    “Journalists aren’t as tied by NDAs as they think” Columbia Journalism Review, never considers my pet solution to the problem that these agreements enable serial perpetrators to get away with it: limit the terms of all NDA’s to three years. Presumably such contracts would come up for renegotiation at the end of that term. That would shift the balance of power a bit.

    1. Oregoncharles

      They should be banned, aside from trade secrets. The public has an interest in the information getting out. Granted, this might prevent some settlements, since they’re being made mostly to maintain the silence.

      If the term is limited, it should be 1 year, not 3.

      But the PTB are very attached to their secrets.

  8. Jim Haygood

    OH MY MY …

    “Over 10,000 text messages sent between two top FBI investigators — one of whom [Peter Strzok] led both the Clinton email investigation and the early Trump-Russia probe — have been turned over to Congress Tuesday evening and promptly leaked to the press.

    The profanity-laced messages reveal a deep hatred for Trump between veteran agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page.

    I said no one has to know what we do
    His hands are in my hair, his clothes are in my room
    And his voice is a familiar sound, nothing lasts forever
    But this is getting good now

    — Taylor Swift, Wildest Dreams

    1. allan

      “Over 10,000 text messages”

      How did these guys get any work done?
      The conversation we should be having is about the bloated NatSec state feeding off taxpayers*.

      * Although needless to say taxes do not fund government operations …

      1. Jim Haygood

        PS: God Hillary should win. 100,000,000-0.
        LP: I know.

        That’s “Goddess Hillary” to you, son.

        Still time for young Pete to make amends for his lèse-majesté.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        “Bloated Natsec state.”

        When people say Big Government, that’s the brotherly sort many fear.

    2. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      December 13, 2017 at 8:40 am

      Later that day, Strzok texted Page, “OMG [Trump’s] an idiot” to which Page replied “He’s awful.” Strzok then texted Page “America will get what the voting public deserves,” to which Page responded “That’s what I’m afraid of.”

      In messages obtained by CBS, Page wrote to Strzok “I just saw my first Bernie Sander [sic] bumper sticker. Made me want to key the car,” to which Strzok replied “He’s an idiot like Trump. Figure they cancel each other out.”
      I don’t know what the problem is….they’re just good centrists…..
      AND (yes, I can never resist inserting a semi relevant quote….I have a problem)
      “America will get what the voting public deserves,” to which Page responded “That’s what I’m afraid of.”

      Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Though it’s largely irrelevant, the extramarital affair angle supplies the dramatic story line to catapult this tawdry FBI romance into the popular imagination like Bill and Monica.

        The names, once introduced, become the Mother of the Ten Thousand Things
        Without desires one sees their profound mystery revealed

        — Lao Tzu

        1. fresno dan

          Jim Haygood
          December 13, 2017 at 9:17 am

          If only he were a Roy Moore backer and she were a Bernie Bro (?Bro?) we could have another Romeo and Juliet….alas, both are neo-libs so we don’t get the hackeyed convention of opposites attract…..

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think they have to have some sort of background check on those special counsel’s investigators.

        Maybe congressional confirmation is required to ensure some kind of objectiveness. Some reports have many D party-donating members on Mueller’s staff.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      Strzok: ” … I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps”

      chuck schumer: “Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you”

      And then there’s the judge who “mysteriously” recused himself from the Flynn case without explanation.

      But elizabeth warren said “slut-shaming” about kirsten “begging” Trump for money. (Does that mean that warren is calling gillibrand a “slut?”)

      Yikes! What it looks like when the walls come tumbling down.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Peter Strzok didn’t say anything about Donald Trump that the majority of Americans weren’t also thinking at the same time.

        — Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) @ live committee hearing 1 minute ago

        Mens rea in corpore sano

        1. Pat

          Jerry, Jerry, Jerry. *sigh* occasions like this are what cause me to question why I haven’t thrown you in the never again category with Clinton,Cuomo and Schumer.

          He wasn’t just another American and hadn’t been for awhile.

        2. Katniss Everdeen

          nadler also, apparently, said that you have to have “evidence” of a “crime” before you can appoint a special counsel to investigate something, in reference to the call for a second special counsel to investigate the investigators.

          I guess winning an election that the deep state doesn’t want you to win, as Trump did, is now a “crime.” Somebody in a previous administration must have signed that into “law” behind closed doors and without fanfare.

          1. Craig H.

            It’s gettin’ so a businessman can’t expect no return from a fixed fight. Now, if you can’t trust a fix, what can you trust?

            Miller’s Crossing

  9. fresno dan

    Wilkinson does not come out and say Ban Cars. She is more moderate and concludes: “Driving needs to be recognised as the dangerous, harmful activity it is. We should come to see car journeys as a last resort, something we choose only if other options are unavailable.” For that to work, there has to be investment in clean, safe and frequent other options.
    Bear with me…or is it bare with me?
    Anyway, I walked down Christmas Tree Lane in Fresno last night. On two nights out of the month long period for viewing Christmas decorations (re-instituted after the Obama ban on Christmas thanks to our illustrious president) the street is closed to car traffic and people can walk instead of drive.
    About a zillion people joined me – people with strollers, people in wheelchairs, people in…shoes. So much car driving strikes me as analogous to our politics – we don’t have a choice.
    Fresno is flat and has moderate weather….uh, well if they would plant street trees for shade – and I suspect a lot of people would opt to walk. But the city is so d*mn car centric that it is impossible or dangerous to try and transport your self by foot or bicycle.

      1. fresno dan

        December 13, 2017 at 11:02 am

        J84usin you may not be as familiar with the popular right wing media as I am, but it is an article of faith among some FOX viewers and strident right wingers that dems, liberals, and Obama engaged in a literal war on Christmas, or perhaps more accurately, saying “Merry Christmas.”
        I am being facetious when I say “Obama banned Christmas” as it is my parody and snark of the right winger nutjobs and the FAKE NEWS of a war on Christmas.
        I have been saying Merry Christmas for DECADES, and NOT ONCE have I ever been threatened with a lawsuit, and not once has my greeting not been reciprocated in kind, and in fact I say it much, much more than I used to (I am not nearly as anti-social as I used to be) If ANYTHING, there is too much Christmas, as it is now starting BEFORE Halloween….
        We live in a world of propaganda, in which we are inundated with fantasy threats that are so astounding that they turn the make believe of the Santa Claus fairy tale into the sine non qua of reality

        1. j84ustin

          Gotcha. Sorry, when the real world is stranger than parody it is sometimes difficult to identify when others engage in it :)

    1. JBird

      In most of the country, especially for working and poor people, you need a car to get anywhere. Maybe if real mass transit was being pushed, and some kind of affordable, practical, long distance non/low polluting cars were developed…

      1. Jean

        As a long time rider of urban mass transit, I feel that the main reason more people don’t use it is the thugs that monopolize and terrorize it when middle and high schools get out.

        Except for the very front seats, no older persons dare go use the back or middle of the bus in the morning and afternoon and then there are the mentally ill bums that ride all day.

        If you want people to ride mass transit, institute lifetime bans on convicted troublemakers. At present, there is no such thing as a restraining order against transit riders, no matter how many times they are kicked off buses or arrested.

    2. Jean

      Re institute neighborhood schools across the nation if you want less driving. For example, at present, most San Franciscans have their children sent across town so that no school has a preponderance of any race.
      You either put your child on a public bus–see my comment below–, or you make two round trips a day in a car to shuttle them to their “diverse and culturally enriching” school.
      One of the main reasons that San Francisco public schools are a joke and when all the techbros start having their future kids enter school, real estate is going to crater in the city.

  10. The Rev Kev

    Re U.S. Surrenders On Syria – Resistance Turns Eyes On Israel

    In reading this article, I saw Robin Wright’s redrawn map of the Middle East as well as Ralph Peters’s 2006 map as well. For the first time I really got the idea that it was not only people who got all their news from Facebook or Fox News that end up living in a bubble but also people who are part of what we call the deep state in spite of all their access to intelligence. Wannabe warlords I call them.
    Just for fun, how about we imagine the same for the United States. The 7-minute clip at shows that like every country, the United States evolved over time and there is no reason to think that the way it is now will be that way forever. A recent novel called “Retrotopia” by John Michael Greer is set in 2065 long after a brutal civil war broke the United States up into smaller countries and the page at shows what America looks like in that novel.
    As outlandish as this concept would be to some people, I would say that with certainty that countries like Russia and China have plans of how to treat a United States that is falling into disorder the same way Russia did in the 1990s. The worry would be of course loose nukes.

    1. Sid Finster

      I have said this before, but we Americans had best pray that there is no God and that He is not just, for if any people ever deserved collective punishment, then surely we are in for a big one.

      1. The Rev Kev

        “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.” – Thomas Jefferson

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Thanks. Will try 88.9 FM here in the future.

      “When silk was silk, gold was gold…”

      That resonates with this neo-Luddite.

  11. Marco

    Monday and yesterday I received hair-on-fire fundraising emails from before unsubscribing. I have NEVER received any emails from them prior to these two and I am extremely careful with giving out my email address. Curious if any other Sanders supporters noticed an uptick in official Dem Spam and the probability if “they” have the “list”??

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Its probably old info. I get called and emailed for my 2008 address all the time. I suspect im usually contacted through sign in sheets at events and so forth. Unless you can set your votebuilder profile to limit your contact (I had admin access at the state level and am never contacted as a result of my tinkering except for an old address where my phone and email are on paper lists), they will reach out whenever they can.

    2. Skip Intro

      The DNC apparatchiks may believe ‘the list’ is valuable to them, but as soon as they use it, it will evaporate, as those on it hit unsubscribe at the first sign of such an email.

    3. WobblyTelomeres

      LPT: If you happen to use gmail, you can insert extra periods (“.”) anywhere to the left of the @ as gmail strips these out. Then, when you hand out emails, whether to an online vendor or charity, you can add a period somewhere in your email address, then use these to identify who is handing out your addy.

      For example.

      all resolve to the same email address.

      1. katiebird

        …. And that is why I get all katiebird gmail messages….. college enrollments, store receipts, invitations tofamily reunions…

        For some reason, gmail lets a person create an account with those useless periods. But when the mail is sent then the periods are stripped out.

          1. katiebird

            I think (looking back a gazillion years) my nickname came from a song. Not sure if it has a deeper meaning. All I know is it must be an incredibly popular nickname.

    4. Elizabeth Burton

      If you mean the DCCC, it’s my opinion they never delete email addresses on the grounds they won’t lose anything by sending out their screams for money. If the thing bounces, they’ll take it off the list, but otherwise it stays there forever.

      I had to have Google block them after repeated demands they unsubscribe me went ignored.

  12. tegnost

    The Great Globalisation Lie is going into the xmas folder with greenwalds russia and horans uber series…hey now I’m starting to look forward to the holidays! (I’ll be descending into san diego where kool aid comes directly from the tap)

    1. Altandmain

      Far more likely the newspapers would remain Pravda like mouthpieces for the rich.

      I’d say the Internet is a net positive. It allowed candidates like Sanders to organize and there was a correlation between internet use and Sanders support.

  13. WJ


    The data in this piece is in my opinion far more useful and telling than is the analysis which accompanies it, which strikes me as somewhat naive and even a bit fatuous. The authors seem not to recall that, from the beginning, 9/11 was presented by US officials (and media) not so much as a one-off event but as the inauguration of a new era of American life. The War on Terror, we were told as soon as 2003, would be a decades’ long war that would span the globe, and the American public was more or less conditioned to accept the inevitability of threats against the newly christened “Homeland” far into the future. So, too, while our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, we were first told, would be more or less welcomed by the freedom living people of those countries, we very quickly learned to adopt (if only tacitly) a quite different view: Arabs, Afghanis, and of course Muslims in general came to seem an incorrigibly violent people, always about to be radicalized; in popular consciousness, the entire region became thought of as a giant whirlpool of irrationality and extremism, one that could only be made safe for “freedom” by an ongoing and expansive military campaign that had no terminus either in space or time. We quickly moved on to Africa, which turned out also to be a haven for Al-quaeda, and which could paradoxically only be stabilized by overthrowing the most powerful secular state in the region–Libya–much as the Middle East could only be made safe (we had been told) once we destroyed the secular and pan-Arab Baathist state of Iraq. Throughout this entire period, now lasting almost two decades long, it seemed like the harder the US tried to “stabilize” the region the more its terror and violence increased. It was almost as if the War on Terror were really a War in the service of Terror, as though–if one looked with a jaded eye–what had been described soon after 9/11 as our endeavor to make the world safe for freedom had really been a diabolical scheme from the beginning to sow as much chaos and killing as possible. As though it had already been decided that 9/11 was never something that the US citizenry would be able to move past, but would come to define for the citizenry the new normal. And in many ways it has become so. Nowadays, a lonely pipe-bomb terrorist in the NY subway is barely able to capture the news cycle, and is treated by the hardened citizenry of NY more as an inevitable nuisance than anything else. At what point in time will it become acceptable to voice the view that most thinking people already hold, that the increase in and expansion of “terrorist incidents” here and abroad is a feature, not a bug, of US domestic and foreign policy? When can we finally drop the charade? Not yet, it would appear.

      1. Jean

        WJ fails to mention the future appearance of Al Quada in Middle Class communities that protest tax policies or rebuff forced public housing rammed down their throat. Have to stop the terrorists you know…

    1. Eclair

      Thank you, WJ. We need to keep raising our voices, lest we all succumb to the notion that evil Muslims are irrationally attacking us, we freedom-loving, peace-dispensing, innocent Americans. Well, most of us are. It’s just that the oligarchs who run us are richer and more powerful.

      But, 9/11. I have taken to classifying fiction books I read as pre- and post-9/11. It is a difference in world view.

      My granddaughter was born just 16 days before 9/11 and so has known no other world. A few hours after the Towers fell, my daughter and I wrapped her into a baby sling and carried her down to the banks of the Hudson River, across from the plumes of smoke and ash and whispered to her of her mom’s best friend’s husband (and father of his 15 day old son), whose funeral pyre this was.

      We did not tell her of the Iraqi children, dead because of sanctions. Or of the Palestinian babies who died before they could talk. On what date did their new world begin? We should have.

  14. fresno dan

    Cyrus Massoumi spent the last few years building exactly what he thought would thrive on Facebook: A series of inflammatory conservative websites, finely tuned to produce the most viral and outrageous version of the news.

    Massoumi, who’s featured in the latest episode of the Decrypted podcast, said he had to decide between running “a garbage website that is barely profitable after the fake news crisis” and a “clean website.” He chose clean. In August, he shut down his biggest partisan website,, and poured his resources into TruthExaminer, a liberal website he launched just before the election.
    The experience reinforced what he’s known for years to be the only unchanging Facebook rule: Whoever gets the most attention wins.
    The news is crafted to reach an audience for increasing profits? That can’t be right…. I am glad I am so superior to all those rubes who fall for such obvious manipulation – that’s why I only go to sites that promise me pictures of hawt neked wimen or how to earn millions from options trading…of hawt neked wimen pics…..

  15. JohnnyGL

    Me to Corp Dems regarding AL result:

    Congrats, you’re slightly more popular than a child predator who wants to bring back plantations.

    Maybe next time run a campaign on fixing the sewage problems and getting rid of hookworms? Just an idea….

    If you’re feeling really wild and crazy, maybe talk about that minimum wage going up a little? Is that too much?

    1. fresno dan

      December 13, 2017 at 10:48 am

      Dems thinking this is some kind of great victory…..BIZARRE
      Makes me think that if they had run against a mere N*zi cannibal, they would have been creamed….*

      * Ah, creamed democrat – when served with a side of fava beans and a nice Chianti, makes for a delicious and nutritious meal

      1. JohnnyGL

        Don’t rule out the Dem consultants digging up serial killers and encouraging/funding them to run in Repub primaries!

        There’s a real NEED for beatable opponents among corporate dems who offer nothing.

  16. fresno dan

    So I had talked to a repub friend about the Moore election and in the course of discussion how Clinton had actually won the popular vote – and of course I got all the arguments about how the electoral college assures representation and regional diversity (funny how important geographical diversity is to people who discount every other type of diversity….)

    But thinking about it, we don’t make any special effort to assure diversity of women (sex) or race (blacks) or income quintiles** in voting, so why the emphasis on location? If the argument is that the metropolitan areas would screw the interior of the country…uh, how has the electoral college assured the interests of the interior of the country have been protected for…hmmm, the last 50 years and not turned it into a desolate rustbelt of ….carnage???

    And DOES the electoral college assure people in Wyoming are being represented, or does it assure that people in California ARE NOT REPRESENTED? If California (about 40 million) had the same number of senators per population as Wyoming….CA would have about 66 senators…..
    Now, undoubtedly, the other states have higher populations, so the anomaly is not that extreme.

    When so few Americans live in the rural “heartland” why should they have such a disproportionate affect on national polices? How is it that geography (dare I say it?) trumps race, sex, income quintile or any other criterion with regard to the value of a vote?
    AND, to what extent has the electoral college method of disbursing power BENEFITED the people in the heartland?

    ** Wouldn’t a society that yammers so much about representation find if unacceptable that such a small percentage of poorer folks vote? How about the Wyoming option – the lowest quintiles 60 times the senators that the rich get….

    1. a different chris

      And again I’ll beat my “why I (and all right-thinking people :)) should hate the filibuster”. You already have a lopsided Senate representation, now make it even worse by regularly requiring 60 votes to get anything done.

      I’m as afraid of what these idiots might do as anybody. But if we let them take us “over the cliff”, well, it isn’t an actual cliff. We will all be still alive, and we won’t let them do it again.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Not just the poor and black people, but the sick, the weak, the old, the hungry, etc of all DNA types.

      Let’s wake up to that.

  17. perpetualPOOR

    Banning cars:
    While this is seen as a noble goal, in the last decade in Seattle, the cost of housing in the city has pushed the low wage earners farther out to be able to affordably house themselves. What this has done is packed the freeways. Seattle doesn’t have any reliable mass-transit, so banning cars would negatively affect the poors.

    1. Eclair

      Seattle would seem to be an urban area that works well for public transit; a long narrow north-south piece of land, with water of the east and west shores. A transit line running down the ‘spine’ with shorter east-west lines at intervals might work. I believe that there once existed an ‘inter-urban’ trolley/rail line that ran north-south, but that was pulled up to make way for automobiles.

      My son lives in the city and commutes by bike, as do hundreds of other Seattleites. On Dexter Avenue, at 6PM, a designated bike route, there is a steady stream of bike commuters pumping up the hill. In the rain.

      My husband and I take the E bus that travels north and south along Aurora Ave; fast, frequent … and cheap if you are a senior, handicapped, a student or if your employer provides you with bus passes. (Cheaper than providing parking facilities. If you provide parking.) Otherwise, we walk .. or my husband bicycles.

      Our family, us, two kids and spouses, and two grandkids of driving age, own 3 automobiles. Small ones. The kids, spouses and grandkids make use of public transport (a lot), Uber (boo, but I can’t tell them what to do) or the newer Car2Go car ‘sharing’ company. We have chosen to live in dense urban areas (except for my husband and I, who go back to the farm in the summer … but agriculture and its dependence on fossil fuels is another story.)

      Seattle public transport is not cheap (and Denver RTD kept raising its prices), but public policy can address the cost to poor people. Unless public policy is to keep on punishing people for being poor.

      1. Adrienne

        Seattle is indeed doing wonderful things with public transit. Outside the city limits, in the vast swathes of suburbs, being without a car is a huge handicap. In suburban & rural areas, forget about public transit–it’s simply too expensive to provide for low population densities.

        Public transit requires a very large commitment to long-term funding and infrastructure. The low-density areas of the US (and Canada I assume) will simply never be able to afford a replacement that provides even a small fraction of the utility of personal cars. Cities like Seattle & Portland are leveraging the land use patterns of their early 20th century “streetcar suburbs” (such as @Eclair describes) to provide a dense, reliable network of bus routes. Communities built upon the post-WWII land-use model are car-dependent by design and it’s not realistic to assume that we can somehow re-configure these places to become walkable/bikable/transit-oriented. Attempts to do so are destined to fail due to the geography of communities designed around cars, especially those west of the Mississippi.

        Next time you’re in suburban America (if you don’t already live there) try to imagine what it would take to remove all those surface parking lots, 4-lane high speed arterials, cul-de-sac single family home tracts, & strip malls and turn it all into someplace that can be navigated without a car. There ain’t enough money on the planet to do that.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          I tell anyone thinking of cycling to check out a map of our little berg from the 50s. If it was incorporated then, you’ll love it, if not, get out a topo map and see if you can live with it.

      2. Chris

        In Copenhagen, no location is more than 200 metres away from a bus stop, and buses are frequent, even if some of them are nearly empty outside busy periods.

        And bicycles lanes have priority over car lanes.

        1. wilroncanada

          Victoria, BC is in the midst of converting some urban streets into separated bike and auto lanes. You should hear the whining and complaining, even from store owners. In addition, parking spaces are disappearing as developers who have torn down older buildings for the last 20 years, leaving them as parking lots, are now, in a building boom prompted by the housing crisis of both price and availability, developing them into mixed housing/office/retail.

          So some stores are crying in their lattes for two reasons, “you’re” removing our downtown parking, and with bike lanes people can’t park right in front of my store. The mayor rightly responded, (not an exact quote) “if downtown business want more parking, they need to get together to build parking off the street. The business associations need to buy real estate and build parking garages.”

      3. perpetualPOOR

        You choose to live in the dense urban area. Apparently, you haven’t felt the housing crunch that has sent most of us far out of the city to be able to afford housing.

        The poors are commuting, on average, a hour each way.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          Saying someone chooses to live in the place they’ve wound up risks conferring agency where it is absent. There’s likely to be a lot more than simple free will at play.

  18. Wukchumni

    In the tony hillside neighborhoods of Bel-Air and Brentwood, residents say they are aware of the homeless that live in the shadows of their multimillion-dollar homes.

    The affluent area along the 405 Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass, home to celebrities, corporate titans and others, has not been immune to the homeless crisis that has spread across the city. Some residents express sympathy and concern for the homeless, others are wary and want them out.

    But the Skirball fire, which destroyed homes and forced the evacuation of a large chunk of Bel-Air, has put the homeless issue at the forefront of community debate. Fire officials say the fire was caused by a cooking fire at a homeless camp along the 405. Investigators say the fire was accidentally set but have not been able to find those who occupied the camp.

    I don’t know about you, but I tend to act as if the homeless I see all the time in bigger cities, aren’t there. It’s not callousness on my part, I prefer to spread my empathy elsewhere.

    But events such as the Hep-A outbreak in SD, and now one of the richest areas of L.A. getting burnt up on account of them, may well lead to drastic measures in the Haves versus the Outcastes, from a polite society standpoint.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe the homeless and others of the ilk can be ‘encouraged’ to find other places to live. You could make it a whole new program funded by the government, planned by highly paid consultants and executed by police and National Guard. I can see the name now-

      Homeless &

      1. JBird

        Aside from the reality that almost anyone can become homeless in California, you can put all the deplorable undesirables all out of all the towns. For one thing, many of them work, for another that have to go somewhere.

        oh, well. Viva la revolución!

  19. a different chris

    This is funny, but –

    >Consider for a moment the magnitude of Steve Bannon’s genius. Not every man can make an AL senate race close. Steve Bannon can.

    Gingrich (?? I think I have the right a-hole?) was celebrated for his strategy of “just winning” things. He pointed out that it was best to find a candidate as far to your side of the political spectrum as possible but still likely to eke out a win.

    Winners are celebrated, losers are told to “study them”. When they switch places, the same advice is given. Doesn’t really get us hoi polloi anywhere, but what does anymore.

  20. Summer

    “…the mindfulness and happiness industries to run diversionary interference for the evermore drastic and dangerous upward concentration of “homeland” wealth and power.”

    I don’t think that this discussed enough. I know very decent people, but if you start pointing out the problems with corporations or war, you’ll either get shunned, considered a “negative thinker,” or receive bizarre lectures on how some type of personal, spiritual perfection needs to be achieved before change can be addressed.

  21. Adrienne

    Re: It’s time to start thinking of driving like smoking — Treehugger

    Spare me. No wonder “treehugger” has become an epithet for ‘self-righteous elite a-hole.” The author lives in Toronto and is described thusly in his bio:

    “He [Lloyd Alter] has been an architect, developer, inventor and prefab promoter. He contributes to, The Guardian, Azure and Corporate Knights magazines, and is Adjunct Professor teaching sustainable design at Ryerson University School of Interior Design. Lloyd is a Past President of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario. In the course of his work developing small residential units and prefabs, Lloyd became convinced that we just use too much of everything- too much space, too much land, too much food, too much fuel, too much money, and that the key to sustainability is to simply use less. And, the key to happily using less is to design things better.”

    Has this dude ever been outside of his credentialed bunker? Has he ever tried to catch a bus in suburban America? Ya know, the bus that runs every two hours until 6pm, and not on weekends? And maybe never shows up at all?

    I’ve been an environmentalist the entire 40 decades of adult life, but I’ve come to see that mainstream environmentalism is largely an excuse to dump on poor people whilst hobnobbing with likeminded smug professionals over artisanal gluten-free bread and non-GMO Brie. “Experts” like this dude don’t seem to understand that a comprehensive public transportation network is hard to implement, very expensive, and only works in the densest, richest cities. San Francisco, richest city on the [US] west coast, won’t even adequately fund Muni. (We’ve got Uber, so screw you little people.)

    I don’t know why this article makes my blood boil so fiercely. Maybe it’s the condescending tone? The handwaving, agentless, don’t raise MY taxes ‘there has to be investment’? The barely concealed contempt for those ‘immoral’ enough to drive?

    Unwinding the suburban landscape (where more than half of Americans live) is probably impossible at this late date. But there are ways to work with what we’ve got, without passing moral judgements on people who have to drive to get to work, take the kids to school, get to the doctor’s office, etc. etc. Check out Strong Towns for realistic, compassionate ideas on how to make communities more just and livable.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I fully agree with what you are saying. The only question is why they do not get architects like this guy, drive them out individually to some car-orientated suburb, dump them in their own house with their own families and say; “Right, you and your family are here for one full month. The rule is that you have to get by but no cars, no taxis, no uber or any other form of automobile. Public transport is allowed – if there is any – and you have to go on the assumption that personal cars are never coming back and start rebuilding your lives here. Don’t forget that you still have to bring home shopping and get your kids to school daily. I’m sure that your wife will have her own comments to make to you here. Go!”

  22. Summer

    “In the third stage, countries have become rich and they know it. The savings rate and the work ethic drops off; the country collectively lets its economic guard down. People lose the will to sacrifice, and instead seek to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Narcissistic consumerism and laziness become the order of the day.”

    Got that, everybody? It’s not useless wars and invasions, casino capitalism, degradation of the environment, etc. that causes decline…lazy bums aren’t working hard enough for their elite masters!

    Every now and then there are some gems on foreign policy on the American Conservative, but they always fall back on this crap.

    1. JBird

      They usually do good work, but as with the left, the conservative side is just infested with elitist driven parasitic propaganda. It does not matter what your views are, it is a Sisyphean effort just to not have one’s thoughts polluted.

  23. Susan the other

    The SEC halts an initial coin offering. Not even a particularly cryptic coin offering. No real layers of smoke and mirrors. Munchee was trying to raise money to do a restaurant critique business and offering both the promise of appreciation for the tokens a well as an exchange option for food (it sounded like). What was interesting is how difficult it is for the SEC to define a “security” and all the obligations required in the offering of a security. Where have they been on Bitcoin? It looks like a secret effort at a monopoly of fictional security in the making. Cryptomonopoly. Even Greenspan lauded Bitcoin saying it was a fine example of how humans create value. I nearly gagged.

  24. Oregoncharles

    “The Great Globalization Lie”: I agree with Rodrik overall, so I’m reluctant to nitpick, but his argument could be a lot stronger, especially in reference to “Comparative Advantage”. For some reason, he dances around the key fallacy in corporate globalization.

    As Herman Daly documented decades ago, comparative advantage does not apply to modern trade, because it depends logically on both capital and labor not moving much between countries. That may have been a reasonable assumption in the 18th Century, but it certainly isn’t now. Only absolute advantage applies, mostly about geography. (It’s better to build a mine where there is ore, or grow oranges where they won’t freeze.)

    Hence, “Perhaps the hyper-globalisers’ most egregious mistake after the 1990s was to promote financial globalisation. They took the textbook argument and ran amok with it.” – is flat wrong. This is not the textbook argument; the textbook argument says that financial globalization will work AGAINST everybody but the financiers – exactly as it turned out. Economists who promote it, or globalization under modern conditions, are either incompetent or dishonest. Is it possible that most of them didn’t even read Ricardo, one of the foundations of the field? It’s clear they didn’t read Daly, who is very heterodox. He advocated forbidding international capital transfers. he also noticed that the world is a sphere, hence economic growth is inherently limited. Most economists seem “unable” to grasp that obvious reality.

    And as a footnote, he misses another logical point: it’s much easier to grow fast when you start small. For an analogy, Wiccans used to brag that they were the fastest-growing religion. That’s because they started with very few. Similarly, China started about as low as they could go, so the only direction was up. Developed nations, OTOH, are up against diminishing returns; the same amount of growth was trivial against what they already had.

  25. Jean

    Saw a hand made “Impeach!” sign on a power pole near my house.

    A couple hours later someone had modified it to read

    1. ewmayer

      We need to diversify our fruit offerings, while at the same time warning of the perils of drunk driving:


  26. JBird

    The Two Cultures 2017: Merit versus Brilliance

    Good God people. Valuing credentials (and the proper appearances and connections) only, while ignoring skills, knowledge, or even common sense is foolish and stupid. There are plenty of things that probably need credentials like brain surgery, but most jobs just require a solid education including being taught how to teach yourself, and some one the job training. This credentialism is a good way to lock out all those who cannot afford the superduper special degrees along with the excellent brilliant white teeth.

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