Links 12/21/17

New study shows how birds work to sing together

Woman takes epic photo after deer waltz into Colorado store 9news (Richard Smith).

Beavers Emerge as Agents of Arctic Destruction New York Times (Re Silc).

Facebook ads targeting younger workers discriminate against older workers, lawsuit alleges USA Today. One essential commonality between Uber, Amazon, AirBnB, and Facebook: Lawbreaking is foundational to their business models, and they have impunity for it. (In Amazon’s case, its early rise was fueled by allowing customers to avoid state and local sales taxes). Of course, their word for lawbreaking is “disruption.”

If Uber Is a Taxi Firm, Airbnb Looks a Lot Like a Hilton Bloomberg

New Uber COO wants more strategy and less controversy FT. Let me know how that works out.

This old drug was free. Now it’s $109,500 a year LA Times


The Holidaze

Little lord Jesus, fruitcake-style: the worst nativity scenes of 2017 Guardian. I question “worst.” Readers?

Locals prepare for holidays in tiny Alabama town that lost its only grocery store (DK).

Europe unveils roadmap for the next decade of quantum computing Engadget (DL).

Rule of Law: European Commission acts to defend judicial independence in Poland European Commission (Clive).


May Goes to Poland to Seek Brexit Ally After Firing Her Deputy Bloomberg

Government backs down on Brexit date as bill clears key hurdle Guardian (Richard Smith).

Damian Green’s sacking does not mean Theresa May is strong New Statesman

Exclusive – After Grenfell fire, same builders rehired to replace dangerous cladding, Reuters finds Reuters

Catalonia election: Voters in bid to solve political crisis BBC

North Korea

Exclusive: US making plans for ‘bloody nose’ military attack on North Korea Telegraph. What could go wrong?

Kim Jong-un’s rejection of father’s pledge led to North Korean nuclear crisis, Chinese ex-diplomat says SCMP.

North Korea’s strategy is to ease out of China’s patronage FT. Important.

Can Diplomacy Work with North Korea? 38 North

New Cold War

When Washington Assured Russia NATO Would Not Expand The American Conservative

Trump administration approves lethal arms sales to Ukraine WaPo. “Small amounts,” but nevertheless.

What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about Russian Hacking LRB (NS). Way too measured to appear in a mainstream venue on this side of The Pond.

Tax “Reform”

AT&T Will Give Workers $1,000 Bonuses to Celebrate the Tax Bill Bloomberg. Rather like French aristocrats tossing coins to the peasants from the windows of their gilded coaches.

This is just the start of companies handing out bonuses, raising wages and increasing spending CNBC

* * *

Trump tax victory sets up 2018 electoral battle FT

The Daily 202: The tax bill is likely to become more popular after passage. Here’s how Republicans plan to sell it. WaPo.

6 Reasons for Progressives to Stop Worrying and Love the GOP Tax Scam New York Magazine. Another tiresome example of 11-dimensional chess that accepts the (false, “fiscally responsible”) frame that Federal taxes “pay for” Federal spending. And “worse is better” is a pretty rickety Rube Goldberg device to hang your 2018 hat on.

The Built-In Instability of the G.O.P.’s Tax Bill NYT. “Republicans could have chosen to work with Democrats to enact more lasting, balanced and thoughtful changes to the tax system” [puts head in hands].

The Tax Bill And The Individual Mandate: What Happened, And What Does It Mean? Timothy Jost, Health Affairs. “[T]he vision Congress had in 2009 and 2010 of a robust, competitive, affordable, and healthy individual insurance market has given way to a new vision of a new Congress of reducing taxes.” For “vision” read “mirage.”

Inside Wall Street’s Towers, Traders Grouse Over Trump Tax Plan Bloomberg

Berea College feeling effects of changes to tax reform bill WKYT

Over Golf and an Airport Chat, Trump and GOP Hashed Out a Historic Tax Plan WSJ

Trump Transition

Space is not a “global commons,” top Trump space official says Quartz

US government lifts ban on risky pathogen research Nature

U.S. lawmakers seek temporarily extension to internet spying program Reuters

Democrats in Disarray

What Will It Take To Beat Trump? The Case for a Generic Democrat Politico. Generics are cheaper. But the ingredients are just the same.

The fury around Donna Brazile is symptomatic of our times Thomas Frank, Guardian. Has Frank become persona non grata in the liberal media? The Guardian is the only place I’m seeing him these days.

The End of the Obama Era The New Republic. A classic of the “mean Republicans!” genre. Periodically, I run this Thomas Nast cartoon:

Caption: UNDER THE THUMB. The boss: “Well, what are you going to do about it?”

What Democrats can learn from the Democratic Socialists about rebuilding the left Mike Konczal, Vox. Some assumptions in that headline…

How the Democratic Party Can Win the South Benjamin Studebaker (UserFriendly).

Nadler wins top Dem spot on Judiciary The Hill. A result of Conyers’ defenestration; fortunately Nadler, too, is for single payer. Meaningful in the event of impeachment.

Virginia elections board to pick random winner in tied House race: ‘They put two names in, somebody shakes it up, and they pull it’ Richmond Times-Dispatch

Mistrial declared for Bundy family in Nevada land standoff with feds CBC

Imperial Collapse Watch

Ethics and empire: an open letter from Oxford scholars The Conversation

U.N. expert says torture persists at Guantanamo Bay; U.S. denies Reuters (GH).

Working among rats and needles for 70p a day: life on Madagascar’s mega dump – in pictures Guardian (Re Silc).

Sports Desk

Should NCAA student athletes be employees, and paid their fair market value? Quartz

Class Warfare

Mortality in the United States, 2016 CDC and Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2016 CDC

Finding a Fix Mother Jones

An Introduction to Political Economy Ecosophia (UserFriendly).

How Widespread Is Labor Monopsony? Some New Results Suggest It’s Pervasive. Roosevelt Institute (DK). DK writes: “Not surprisingly, lower rates of monopsony map to major cities.”

A long, long time ago, rents used to be cheap — and common Mercury News (E. Mayer).

As millennials embrace renting over owning — even clothes — stores are taking notice LA Times

Apple’s bold new plan to keep the Mac relevant could actually be a big sign that the iPad will replace it Business Insider. “The project, apparently codenamed ‘Marzipan’ and possibly launching as early as next year, would let app developers write an app once, and have it work on the Mac, iPhone, and iPad.” If Tim Cook’s “bold new plan” to keep the Mac relevant is to make it more like iOS, I’m out the door, along with Yves. For one thing, every single iOS-inspired “innovation” on the Mac has further crapified it. That’s because iOS doesn’t conform in the slightest degree to the Human Interface Guidelines, which are the strength of the Mac platform. (To be fair, Apple is perfectly capable of crapifying its iOS apps, too. Have you tried to use the new PodCast app?) For another, if Apple’s engineers think I’m going to be taking my hands off the keyboard to swipe and tap stuff, they’re demented; there’s no way I’d be writing a 4,000-word post on an iPad, even the Pro; and I say that as somebody who consumes content on the iPad constantly, and as who combines the iPad with Apple Pen for annotation and design (essential in some workflows). But the iPad as a productivity tool for content creation? Get real.

What Do You Call a World That Can’t Learn From Itself? Umar Haque, Medium. “Everything I consume in the States is of a vastly, abysmally lower quality. Every single thing.” By contrast, this thread:

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

Merry Xmas, translucent lobster!

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Links on by .

About Lambert Strether

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


      1. Wukchumni

        I’ve heard in the Gulag Hockeypelago that if the people don’t see the housing bubble shadow enveloping the country, there’ll be 6 more months of winner.

    1. DJG

      Thank you. A joyous solstice to all.

      According to Wikipedia, today is also an Iranian festival, Shab e Chella:
      “The longest and darkest night of the year is a time when friends and family gather together to eat, drink and read poetry (especially Hafez) until well after midnight. Fruits and nuts are eaten and pomegranates and watermelons are particularly significant. The red color in these fruits symbolizes the crimson hues of dawn and glow of life. The poems of Divan-e Hafez, which can be found in the bookcases of most Iranian families, are read or recited on various occasions such as this festival and Nowruz.”

      Iranian food! I have to find a celebration. (Don’t report me to the CIA!)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Any day is a good day for Hafez.

        (I think I have quoted him here before):

        The Sun never says to the Earth,. “You owe me.”

        Look What happens. With a love like that, It lights the whole sky.

        In fact, my Chado teacher always says, ‘Everyday is a good day.”

        1. Meher Baba Fan

          Thats not Hafez. Thats Daniel Ladinsky. Whose fictions have no relationship to the great Hafez. I personally know people who personally watched him invent this stuff.
          I can’t cut and paste being on a kindle but persian scholars and ghazal writers have angrily discussed this topic at length on the internets. I like Darvish Khan Writes – he does his own literal translations directly from source texts of Hafez.
          Oh and every single Iranian household has the works of Hafiz on their shelf and many know it by heart. Ask one what they think of Ladinsky ( and stand back)

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Thanks, I was not aware of it. Looking up Wikipedia, his fraud was discussed, but I did not see any specific relating to this particular poem.

            There is one article on payvand dot com (don’t know who they are, not clicking that) about McGuinty (not sure who he is) quoting that verse which turns out to be fake.

        1. DJG

          J H B:

          By chance, I recently picked up a copy of Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni, which is a brilliant memoir of Americanness / Iranianness. With lots of mentions of food.

          If you chance on a copy, you may like it.

  1. PlutoniumKun

    North Korea’s strategy is to ease out of China’s patronage FT. Important.

    I think this is a very astute article, and its part of a pattern thats regularly seen on China’s periphery.

    Under-appreciated in the west is the growing dissatisfaction among North Korea’s power brokers with the current situation. Indeed, after decades of languishing in China’s shadow, North Korea has grown increasingly aware that the political and economic dividends from its ally’s patronage have been withering.Against this backdrop, escaping from China’s shadow will be imperative for Mr Kim’s regime. After all, if the world believes that China has firm control over its neighbour, Mr Kim and his generals have no leverage. While the ongoing distancing of North Korea from China may cause economic damage in the short term, it is a prerequisite for the acquisition of bargaining power on the global stage.

    Everyone focuses on the US role in Asia so much its often forgotten that for smaller countries in the region, the US is a far off place that is just another big bully to be appeased or manipulated as appropriate. For now, China is growing extremely strong and the nervousness of countries in SE Asia and elsewhere is palpable. Nobody, for example, seemed to ask why the Burmese/Myanmar military junta so willingly gave up power – the answer would seem to be the realisation that they were on the verge of being Tibetised by China – only an ‘opening’ to the world allowed them to counter act Chinese influence. Likewise, the Vietnamese are furiously trying to cosy up to the US and Russia for the exact same reason (of course, the US famously blundered into the Vietnam War without pondering why the Vietnamese didn’t seek help from Mao, if they’d done so they would have realised the so called domino theory was junk).

    North Korea actually wants good relationships with the US, not because its seeking to be the new South Korea, but because it realises it needs leverage with the Chinese. And because the US has been too stupid to realise this, the only way the NK can get the balance they need is by threatening with nukes. Its an entirely rational strategy, the only flaw might be that even they underestimate the sheer stupidity of US foreign policy.

    1. G

      David Kang, a very good Korea/Asia scholar and commentator, wrote about North Korea economic development this summer in a Foreign Affairs piece: that is also really worth reading. People under-estimate the possibility for long term stability, assuming that there ferverored rhetoric shows something about the domestic state of affairs. Far from being in the brink of collapse, NK economy has never been more stable since the 50s. Interestingly, Kang argues that rhetoric and sanctions may actually undermine the internal effort to reform, which he believes are important to NK cooperating with other countries, including the US.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yeah, its becoming pretty clear that the leadership have a long term plan, and if they can navigate the transition there is no reason to think they won’t be in for the very long haul. Unless of course Trump does something stupid.

            1. JTMcPhee

              After, and only after, a stream of Christian-Chest-Thumping “bloody nose” cruise missiles and other munitions get fired off at the insufficiently prostrate “Little Asian Critters,” of course.

              Remembering that “we” Nacerima pretty much devastated the whole place by dropping what was it, more tons of high explosive and incendiaries on North Korea in a year and a half than were unloaded on Germany and Japan and the rest of all those countries where The Great Western War was fought over…

              “Say uncle.”
              “No, say uncle.”
              “No, you have to mean it. Say uncle.”

              A snippet as I recall it from Catch-22…

          1. Etherpuppet

            My opinion – think of the most bog-standard, least-nuanced Republican response to the particular problem, and that’s what Pence would do. Pence would look to the Republican consensus for guidance.

    2. andyb

      Regarding Vietnam and China. In Vietnamese folklore there is the story of two sisters who successfully held off the Chinese hordes many centuries ago. They are revered by all Vietnamese, whether Buddhist or Catholic as exemplars of heroism and patriotism. Until the US came along, the Chinese were THE evil empire. The Vietnamese War had little to do with dominoes falling into a Communist uber regime since most of SE Asia is pure Socialist, so the argument was false. It was all about the Dulles Brothers and their neocon psychosis to enable the MIC for total control over US foreign policy.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I have heard of the two.

        From Wikipedia:

        Trưng Sisters (40–43)[edit]
        Main article: Trưng Sisters
        In 40 AD, the Trưng Sisters led a successful revolt against Han Governor Su Dung (Vietnamese: Tô Định) and recaptured 65 states (including modern Guangxi). Trưng Trắc became the Queen (Trưng Nữ Vương). In 43 AD, Emperor Guangwu of Han sent his famous general Ma Yuan (Vietnamese: Mã Viện) with a large army to quell the revolt. After a long, difficult campaign, Ma Yuan suppressed the uprising and the Trung Sisters committed suicide to avoid capture. To this day, the Trưng Sisters are revered in Vietnam as the national symbol of Vietnamese women.

        Ma Yuan was also said to have melted down all the sun/star-topped bronze drums (of Dong Son culture mentioned the other day).

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Russia and China were both seen as “big brothers” by the Viet resistance, Russia (and Ho Chi Minh) favored less violence, slower regaining of sovereignty and a pause to the Cold War, whereas China (and Le Duan) favored violent overthrow and immediate world revolution. Le Duan won. But yes, China are the “ancient enemy”

      3. Adam Eran

        Not sure I’d reduce Vietnam to (another) Dulles mistakes. The postwar mistakes that led the U.S. into that particular quagmire include their support for the French and their Vietnamese minions. These put in place a colonial-era debt that Ho Chi Minh vowed to extinguish…you know just like we did for the Germans and Japanese. Geoffrey Race’s War Comes to Long An is the source of this assertion, and worth a look. Race himself is quite the character. He learned Vietnamese on the boat over, then proceeded to do something none of the “strategic hamlet” boys were doing. He interviewed the population (and prisoners, defectors, etc) to see why they were fighting the U.S. That colonial debt essentially meant the Vietnamese had no hope if they allied themselves with the U.S. So they fought.

        They won, too, until literally decades of embargoes and other meddling turned them into a corrupt capitalist economy.

  2. allan

    “How the Democratic Party Can Win the South”

    Are northerners really to blame for the gulf between the South and the Northeast/West Coast?
    How much of the income gap is due to General Sherman vs. right-to-work laws?
    How much of the attitude gap is due to northern elite sensibilities vs. generations of indoctrination
    by religious extremists in the South?

    As for whether it’s possible to win some of these people back, it’s worth trying,
    but not by pandering to their base instincts.
    The last thing we need is a 21st century versions of Ending Welfare as We Know It.

    1. Carolinian

      No hope for those Southern deplorables, eh?

      Not that the article you are criticizing is much better. The real reason for Republican dominance in the South is probably that the Dems have little to offer these days other than an appeal to cozy elitism. For rural people–and the South is still far more rural than the North–this is not a big sell. If you make identity politics the focus of your efforts then you can’t really expect people who don’t identify with you to vote for you. The great Dem politicians like FDR got this. For the current Dem politicians his brand of populism is anathema.

      1. allan

        “No hope for those Southern deplorables, eh?”

        Well, not for people like the anonymous House member described here:

        The tax bill Congress was working to send to President Donald Trump’s desk on Tuesday will hurt too many people in New Jersey, according to both Democrats and Republicans in the state’s delegation who opposed it. …

        Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-Wyckoff, said he saw firsthand, when a version of the bill passed the House in November, that Republican colleagues understood that some states would be hurt. And some were eager to do it.

        “A Southern member on the date of the vote last month was smiling, and I said, ‘What are you so happy about?’ And he said, ‘Today we get to officially stick it to the Northeast,’ . …

        Is someone like that really reachable?
        This isn’t about cozy elitism or identity politics.
        It’s about class warfare and regional warfare.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          There is always the option of not winning them.

          Assuming they want to win the South, they can

          1. get another General Sherman (and his way of securing the win),

          2. educate them (because we know better), or more bluntly perhaps, brainwashing them (because we are neither better nor worse, but just want to change how they think)

          3. see the world from their perspective, without necessarily agreeing, and negotiate/compromise from there.

          It’s important to keep in mind the all people (liberals, progressives, conservatives, northerners, southerners, etc) have basic instincts that can be pandered to. And both sides should be able to confront each other on equal terms.

        2. Carolinian

          The prob with that scenario is that while the Dems really are mostly dead in the South the Repubs are anything but dead in the North. Need one point out that our esteemed president is from NYC? If regional competition is the Dem strategy then that isn’t a winning proposition.

          And despite your quote I’d say Southerners no longer feel much hostility toward the North. That was the problem with the article in Links which seems to think it is all about the Civil War. The Dems need to stop pretending this is all about “culture” and shift to a more economic appeal. But because they represent the same rich people (slightly more guilty feeling division) as the Repubs that’s not likely to happen. So in the end it probably is all about culture. People don’t vote for people who look down on them and call them “bitter clingers” and “folks.” IMO it’s the Dems’ elitism that is hurting them where I live.

          1. jrs

            Is there any evidence that shifting to economic appeal would help them in the south? Does single payer poll well there etc.? Bernie Sanders didn’t seem to do very well in the south.

            1. Mike

              jrs- The primary in the South was far more rigged than the ones in NY or California. The Dems have learned to use voting machine fraud just like the Repugs, and this was reinforced by the Super Tuesday conglomeration of all those states so upstart candidates with little recognition could not campaign effectively. Further, the combination of the Black Caucus stampede onto Hillary’s bandwagon and the media coverage in the South being fed by the NYT/Washington Post fear-mongering that Bernie was too radical even for Blacks. One day a tell-all like Brazile’s will be written, but only after these criminals calling themselves Democrats are dead.

            2. Daryl

              Will be interesting to see how he does if he runs again. I wonder how much of it is due to some inherent distaste for Sanders policies or the way he presents them, and how much of it was due to the Clintons death grip on the media. Most of the Southern states had earlier primaries.

              1. Procopius

                I’m a little dubious about “the Clintons’ death grip on the media.” I remember mostly both the New York Fishwrap and the Bezos Shopper running daily front page stories about “her emails,” and “… Congressional investigation into …”. In fact they largely refused to mention Bernie for the first six months, but I didn’t see a heck of a lot of non-negative coverage of Clinton. Of course the Centrist and New Dem opinionists were constant positive coverage, but how much influence do they really have any more?

        3. Richard

          I want to call bs here. I don’t know the proper “logic” word for it, but in your first comment you clearly indicate there is something fundamentally wrong with an entire geographical section of our country. Then when you were challenged on that, you respond with an anecdote about a southern congressman.
          I think that is poor argumentation in service of the idea of backward southerners, a divide and conquer trope if there ever was one.
          That representative you quoted doesn’t “represent” his southern constituents in any meaningful way, and I guarantee you that both he and they are fully aware of that.

          1. allan

            1. The original article in the Links gives a historical summary of the relationship between the North and the South, and how that played out in the success or lack thereof of the Democratic Party there. I didn’t raise the issue of whether “there is something fundamentally wrong with an entire geographical section of our country” – the article raised the issue of
            whether there is something fundamentally wrong with the relationship between the Dems and the South. It bent over backwards to say that people from the North and West Coast should understand those grievances, and that was what I was commenting about.

            2. I suggested that the income gap might be due not only to the effects of the Civil War and its aftermath but also due to the anti-worker governments that have held office in many southern states for years and have suppressed wages through anti-union laws and the
            I’ve-got-mine-Jack attitude of a certain segment of the local clergy.

            3. I never used the word deplorables, but did offer a recent anecdote of the attitude towards
            the North from southerners in Congress. You might not like the fact that someone like that is serving in Congress, having presumably been voted into office, and neither do I,
            but there you have it.

            4. Joe Wilson famously shouted “You lie” to Obama during the SOTU when the president said something that was arguably not true about his immigration policies.
            Weirdly, Wilson did not shout “You lie” to Paul Ryan when he was spouting easily verified falsehoods about the distributional effects of the tax bill, that will undoubtedly hurt many of Wilson’s constituents, at yesterday’s celebration.
            It’s good to know that Joe Wilson “”doesn’t “represent” his southern constituents in any meaningful way””, either.

            1. Richard

              Hmm, the article. I stopped reading soon after after the author characterized Reconstruction as the north giving political and civil rights to freed slaves without consulting “the South”. There’s a lot of “we’s” and “they’s” in that piece, working ever so hard to confuse historical agency, and to push unshared premises past the reader.
              No, you did not use the word deplorable. I was responding to “as to whether it’s possible to win some of these people back, it’s worth trying, but not by pandering to their base instincts”. I’m sorry to say I read this as both condescending and hopeless, and a dead ringer for Approved Democratic Strategy.

              1. allan

                No, actually the Approved Democratic Strategy seems to be all about
                pre-compromising, seeking bipartisan agreement while cutting your left flank off at the knees, and pivoting to the center-right according to whatever the latest manipulated focus group indicates. Clinton-Obama-ism laid the groundwork for Trumpism.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      And now you know why NASA’s Space Shuttle and Space Launch System (SLS) use solid rocket boosters.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          Nuclear-armed Minuteman ICBMs, which sit in silos for decades, require solid rocket fuel. To keep that industry (and employees and knowledge-base) going and viable, it needs customers. Eisenhower started our space program not as a gift to mankind but as a cold-war military response to the soviet’s space program. High ground and all that.

          1. Bill Smith

            I thought it had more to do with being able to launch the Minuteman ICBM’s very quickly (without having to fuel them) in case the Soviets launched an attack.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Or, of course, to get those warheads on their way without much advance indication to the Evil Solviets that “we” were doing a first strike decapitation and all that, which I believe is pretty clearly a thing that on several occasions was not too far from happening, from the planning and preferences of the people who ran foreign policy and military planning and espionage back when I wore a younger man’s clothes.

              It took quite a long time, of course, and involved a lot of detectable motion, to get those Atlases ready to shoot. Now the same species of players is running “policy” today, all grim-visaged and tight-jawed and ready to incinerate the planet so as not to be styled as “losers” in the Great Game. Sub-launched depressed-trajectory and other weapons still, after all this time, on a hair trigger, OPLAN targeting coordinates all programmed in and ready to go, and one might recall that the morale and esprit de corps and basic competence of the missile commanders in their comfy ergonomic chairs seem to be at least than optimal levels.

          2. PlutoniumKun

            I’m not sure it applies specifically to the solid rocket boosters, but of course the whole space shuttle project was the original self licking ice cream cone. The entire stupid design of the shuttle was predicated around short term military needs, leading to an entire industry involving scientific projects that could only be done by the shuttle.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              I think JFK’s original aspirations for the Space Race were to re-direct some spending away from new ways to kill everybody on the planet to some outward-facing science and exploration. Undeniable that this resulted in some pretty useful things (integrated circuits are just one example). But maybe unavoidable that parts were co-opted to support AMIELI (America’s Most Important Economic Lifeblood Industry), which of course is War.

        2. MRLost

          All ICBM and SLBM motors are solid as opposed to liquid. Impossible to keep a liquid fueled rocket ready to launch at an instant’s notice. With solid rockets, failure to launch is just part of the error bracket that surrounds every aspect of the device: launch, en-route corrections to path, re-entry, ignition. Boom.

              1. MRLost

                My bad. I should have stipulated all US ICBM and SLBM that are currently operational. Titan was operational from 1959 until 1965, a mere 52 years ago.

  3. PlutoniumKun

    The fury around Donna Brazile is symptomatic of our times Thomas Frank, Guardian. Has Frank become persona non grata in the liberal media? The Guardian is the only place I’m seeing him these days.

    I think Frank has said on Jimmy Dores show that he’s been pretty much frozen out of the mainstream media the past couple of year. Even in the Guardian they seem to do a pretty good job of hiding his articles, they never get a prominent billing on the website.

    But whats always interesting is the BTL on articles like this in the Guardian. The Hilbots get absolutely slaughtered in a way you rarely see. But the Guardian still turns a willful blind eye to what its readers want.

      1. Charger01

        Thomas Frank mentioned this explicitly on “This is hell” podcast with Chuck Mertz last year.
        MSNBC would have him on regularly when he was pitching “The Wrecking Crew” and other books that are critical of Republican policies and personalities. Once he wrote “Listen Liberal”, he was effectively frozen out of the mainstream after the initial book tour. He regained popularity after Hillary lost the general, as people were looking for a narrative for why the Dems lost to a game show host. During that same interview with Mertz, Frank mentioned that after “What’s the Matter with Kansas”, he’s highlight was to be on “Meet The Press” with Grover Nordquist.

    1. Katsue

      I don’t think the Guardian even opens comments on articles about Syria any more, because of how obvious it is that nobody agrees with the editorial line.

      1. Brindle

        Several years ago I was banned from commenting at the Guardian for questioning the integrity of its reporting on Ukraine. I like the Guardian for the arts and environment reporting. Foreign policy wise it is very pro U.S. imperialism.

    2. Plenue

      He’s mentioned in multiple places that yes, he is no longer considered acceptable in the mainstream media. He’s also said the Dems have never contacted him for any input on a 2016 autopsy.

  4. Expat

    re: 6 reasons to love the GOP tax scam
    Is this what we have come to? We need to touch bottom in order to move up? And there is no guarantee we will move up. Americans hate government spending except when they are the receiving end but they certainly don’t want taxes to pay for that largesse. If Democrats return to power and taxes go up in ten years because of the Trump plan, voters will blame Democrats, not a long-gone Trump.

    Personally, if I have the flu, I don’t want my doctors giving me Ebola just so they can sneak me into a special CDC anti-viral program. That is what the author is cheering about.

    1. ambrit

      I’d quibble and say that Americans have been conditioned to not want taxes to pay for any “largesse.”
      As this site so assiduously asserts, taxes are a social engineering tool, not a financial fact of nature.

      1. Charger01

        The bill will increase poverty and decrease the odds my children will live as well as I do.

        What’s not to love? /s

  5. Christ on a Bike

    Thank you for posting the tweet about the Swedish hellscape. I read all the way to the end. I had no idea… I knew, but I had no idea. See you in hell.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Yep, that’s the way that you do it. You pay people a really, really high wage for their work – and then you tax the hell out of them for hospitals, roads, services and the like. Not my idea, unfortunately, but one from the author James A. Michener.
      Just in passing, Michener was once a member of the Electoral College, serving as a Pennsylvania Democrat back in 1968. He wrote about that experience in a political science text called “Presidential Lottery: The Reckless Gamble in Our Electoral System”.
      It was many years ago that I read this but I seem to remember him describing the Electoral College as a time bomb at the heart of American democracy and in serious need of reform citing not only what he saw in 1968 but past instances in American elections. Real taking-it-to-the-brink stuff. Maybe that book should be read more now after the 2016 election?

      1. John k

        No point. Small pop states will always veto change, even though what was small in the beginning, Fl, and big, Va, changes over time.

        Remember this was the carrot that brought small states into the deal with big states back then. And in spite of the problems, few today wish there had been no deal…

  6. Sam Adams

    Re: Exclusive: US making plans for ‘bloody nose’ military attack on North Korea
    Just before Afghanistan and the Iraq wars began the local airbase transport planes began more frequent circling of the area just before heading east. The loading and flight activity increased. I’m seeing the same pattern return. We’re going to war somewhere and soon.

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Belle Chase Air Base has Jets doing fly overs down here in Uptown, New Orleans.

      All these movements point to something…

      1. Craig H.

        My guess is they are drilling for massive security for the Alabama-Clemson game January 1. Your city is going to be mobbed. In my major metro area there are no mobs scheduled and the security over-flights are at default level or less. Mostly what my neighbors worry about is traffic on the freeways.

  7. Carla

    Re: Locals prepare for holidays in tiny Alabama town that lost its only grocery store

    “More than a third of Alabama residents live in areas with no grocery stores, according to a 2015 report by The Food Trust, the Alabama Grocer’s Association and VOICES for Alabama’s Children. That’s about 1.8 million people.”

    The story is about a town where the residents are white. I wonder how many other white Alabamians live in food deserts. Not a high number, I’d wager.

    1. ambrit

      Uh, when viewing equality issues, look to class much more than race. Todays’ South is well on its’ way to being an equal unopportunity state.

    2. Wukchumni

      It almost sounds like a setup story for a Dollar General to be put in toot suite, and save xmas for a little slice of Alabama.

    3. Utah

      Rural areas tend to have a higher number of food deserts than suburban areas, and are comparable to urban centers. I looked into the numbers, but I couldn’t really find anything related to rural vs urban and race in Alabama. But, I grew up in a place like they featured, and I can tell you, it sucks to drive half an hour to the grocery store. Just like it sucks to walk a half an hour to the grocery store. Both problems need to be fixed. Which makes me think of the story that was posted yesterday about buying everything online except for hyper-locally made goods. Perhaps that is the solution to this problem, too. Buy and sell your fresh produce at the neighborhood cafe, and buy your flour on amazon.

      1. Carla

        There may be a problem getting people to deliver online goods to “dangerous” urban neighborhoods and “remote” rural ones. Of course, maybe our drone overlords can solve that.

    4. Charger01

      Once you have a community that has lost its bank, cafe, grocery store, and finally the post office….it’s essentially dead. The Midwest has a clear record of this pattern of decline.

    5. Lord Koos

      Driving through the Mississippi delta about 12 years ago, in most places I could find no place to buy groceries except for Walmart, I’m guessing it’s the same in Alabama. Most of the Walmarts were out on the highway, nowhere near the middle of the towns they served, so if you didn’t have a car, tough luck. My first time shopping at a Walmart in MS I bought the worst apple I’ve ever had.

      1. ambrit

        Ugh. Don’t get Phyl started on fruits and vegetables ‘available’ at your fiendly local retailers today. She loves to cook MacIntosh apples for pies and other things. Try to find a MacIntosh apple regularly anywhere now. The best apples we ever tasted were bought from a roadside stand on the Skyline Drive up on the big ridge between Gadsden, Alabama and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Some sort of local heirloom variety. The NC commenteriat once did a thread about finding old strains of apples in abandoned farmsteads. America used to be much more diverse and ‘liveable.’

  8. Samuel Conner

    The worst nativity scene of 2017 is the next to last item in “The President Show” Christmas Special “I Came Up With Christmas” in which the president appears in a diaper to replace the infant Jesus, but then the swaddles fall off.

    1. Wukchumni

      Best native-ity scene of 2017 was some snow porn we came across in the NP on the way to the Room Tree skiing from the Sherman Tree, a little over a mile or so. We went around a corner 3/4’s of the way and there it was, set back in a clearing…

      Somebody had constructed a quite fecthing 10 foot tall mama bear with about size 48 breasts, who towered over her nearby 7 foot tall beau bear, who sported an 18 inch icy member.

      Beau was wearing a lichen beret and smoking a cigar sized stick, while mama bear was covered up down under with lichen panties on, suggesting a post coital pose.

      An artisan had spent all day constructing something amazing only a few would ever see.

  9. paul

    The colonel was mentioning how a friend of his was hoping the US and China might help us out re Brexit.
    She can cross one of them off the list:

    Brexit: A Negotiation Update Testimony by Dr. Thomas Wright Director, Center for the U.S. and Europe, and Senior Fellow The Brookings Institution Hearing by the Subcommittee on Europe, Europe and Emerging Threats of the Committee on Foreign Affairs U.S. House of Representatives December 6, 2017

    US Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, made it clear that if it wanted a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US, the UK would have to choose between it and the EU.
    He said that the UK must accept US regulatory standards and diverge from those of the EU. US regulator y standards, particularly on agricultural products, are politically controversial in the UK. And, diverging from EU regulations will, by definition, weaken the trading relationship between the UK and the EU.
    But Secretary Ross’s logic is clear: the UK is in a weak position and needs trade deals with third parties so the United States can take a maximalist position in negotiations

    Hope she likes poulet au chlorine.

    1. Dougie Johnson

      My question is, was Twitter the appropriate medium for that discussion? I stopped reading when I scrolled to a point and it told me there were something like 30 more tweets left.

      1. HotFlash

        Patience, Grasshopper. I read until somebody other than Alison tweeted. Why u no read about the good life that we all could have if we weren’t family-blogging spiteful?

    2. Stephanie

      I wonder about how one goes about selling this to the Americans who would most benefit from it. Benefits would seem to be obvious, but most of the people I know who have experienced and can extoll them are upper middle-class liberal Dems and most of the people whose lives would really, really be improved by them are working-class Repubs (whose overseas experience is usually on the U.S. military’s dime) or poor non-affiliateds, I’m not sure how the marketing happens. No one in power is interested in even talking bout the idea of better government services, and the few people like Alison who do are people who from the outside look like liberal spoiled brats. As educational as the tweet-thread was, it doesn’t sound as if Alison is coming to the States any time soon to advocate for great home health services and daycare and healthcare.

      In other words, why should anyone without the type of opportunities the Alison’s of the world have had give a flying family-blog about how great life in Sweden is? They will never be able to afford to go to Sweden, why should they give a crap about life there? And why should they, when what they do know is that they (again, thanks to Uncle Sam’s imperialism) have it pretty good compared to Afghanis? If we want concrete material benefits to be in demand in America, we need to find some way to sell them as American, and a point of pride, in way that will make sense to the people who do not have, cannot afford, and do not want to hear how awful their lives are compared to the experiences of expats in European capitals.

      1. jrs

        And if everyone could afford to travel to Sweden that would just be more carbon dumping from plane travel anyway, when the arctic is already toast. And affording to travel is one thing and affording citizenship another (if you have to ask what citizenship costs you can’t afford it. Most Americans can only afford to be citizens of this sorry dystopia – unless they are rich and then why complain, or unless they are young and have special skills, which who the F can afford the training for anyway, since it’s all out of pocket and by means of massive debt or else going to school while working one or several full time jobs in our non-existent free time).

        And so we can hear of impossible changes of the sort we will never get (we can’t even stop the Republican tax plan). No change does need to happen here, right here where we live, but I don’t know how much that really advances it.

  10. toshiro_mifune

    Apple’s bold new plan to keep the Mac relevant….

    No arguments from me on this. Its been obvious for a while now that Apple is a company completely out of ideas other that iteration for iteration’s sake.
    The problem is where to go now that OSX is becoming more crappified? Win 10 is just a no go for me. I work with Linux systems on a daily basis but the thought if running a Mint/Debian/something distro as a desktop (sudo apt-get leave-work-at-work) isn’t pleasant.
    That doesn’t leave much.
    I suppose the real problem is that the metaphor that we’ve been using to interface with computers for going on 30 years now is starting to fall apart and something new is needed. I don’t know what it will be but its becoming overdue

    1. Mark Alexander

      the thought of running a Mint/Debian/something distro as a desktop (sudo apt-get leave-work-at-work) isn’t pleasant

      Can you describe in more detail what isn’t pleasant? I’m probably biased about this issue from (a) having used Linux at home for 22 years, (b) finding LInux Mint (Mate Edition) very pleasant to use, and (c ) having to tear my hair out in frustration every time I try to use Windows 10. But I’m curious about the experience of others, especially Mac users.

      The one failing in Mint that I learned about from watching my wife switch from Mac OS was the lack of something quite like Spotlight. I don’t have a problem using desktop search apps like Recoll, or command line tools like grep and locate. But my wife found it frustrating that the desktop search apps like Recoll don’t show the most recently accessed or most commonly used documents at the top of the list. It seems that the idea of remembering what directories your files are located in is a thing of the past; nowadays, most users of computers that I have observed directly just save their files “somewhere” and expect the computer to figure out where they are later with little effort. In a way this makes sense to me, but it also feels a little weird. I freely admit that Spotlight looks like a good tool for dealing with this problem, and I do wish there were a LInux equivalent.

      1. toshiro_mifune

        If all I was going to do was surf the web a bit and watch some videos Mint would probably be fine. As a hobbyist photographer though GIMP, while powerful, is a poor substitute for LightRoom which is a poor substitute for Aperture, which isn’t made any more. So lack of quality software (not necessarily commercial) is a hit.
        Then there’s getting decent drivers for the scanner and various photo printers, etc. I suppose that would be under hardware vendor support. I’ll admit this has come a long long way from where it was 10 or 20 years ago but it can still be headache inducing.

        What Mac OS used to have and is now losing wasn’t so much the “It just works” for me as much as “It shuts up and leaves me alone” even if that is essentially the same thing.That is what I want out of a home OS now. I’ll admit there are 25 some odd years of various experiments with Linux/Solaris/BSD at home probably coloring my views (most in the 90s-early 00’s but still on and off since then).

      2. Ook

        Having been on and off Linux since 1990-ish, I still have Windows 10 as my primary production platform due to the lower quality of drivers in Linux, specifically to power my 55″ 4K monitor, to generate good-quality Skype video calls, and for sound in general.

        Overall, sorry to say, open source software follows the lead of commercial software, not the other way around, so the quality is generally slightly lower, and the products feel slightly out of date.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      … the iPad as a productivity tool for content creation…

      Actually, Logitech makes a lovely compact keyboard that connects via Bluetooth to both Mac OS, iOS, and Windows, has a slot for perching one’s tablet or phone on, and comes with a nifty carrying case for ease of transport. It makes content creation lovely.

    3. H. Alexander Ivey

      But the iPad as a productivity tool for content creation?

      Entirely agree about how generally un-productive (as in being helpful for producing content) the iPad iO/S is. But I will quibble that the writing app Scrivener is very productive on the iPad. But that is the only app that I find truly ‘productive’.

      As for those who suggest other O/S, the question about computers has always been: “What software / app / program do you want to run?”, then buy the hardware that runs it. Personally, I don’t think Scrivener, the main software that gets me out of bed, runs on any software but Mac O/S, iPad O/S, and Windows O/S.

  11. L

    Apropos of this:

    This is just the start of companies handing out bonuses, raising wages and increasing spending CNBC

    You can file this under the “buried lead department”:

    Also, companies raising minimum wage may be forced to do so anyway. There are 18 states and some cities where the minimum wage was going to rise in 2018. New York City will have a rate of $15 an hour.

    And further down:

    “It would be smart for utilities to say they’re going to cut their rates because regulators will probably force them to do it anyway,” said Ablin.

    Much like the “homeowner relief” that many banks announced after they were forced to participate they will give short term bonuses that do little for the bottom line or claim credit for things that they fought tooth and nail but lost on.

    1. curlydan

      Also buried was the $58B merger with TimeWarner that’s in trouble (so what’s $200M of bonuses to the plebes next to that?), and the net neutrality rule (never mentioned I believe) no doubt frees up so money as well. But don’t let facts get in the way of a great headline!

    1. fresno dan

      Romancing The Loan
      December 21, 2017 at 9:27 am
      from the article:
      “Mainstream economists like to make claims about what will happen when their preferred policies are put into place, mind you, but the mere fact that those claims simply aren’t true never gets considered when repeating them. Consider the way neoliberal economists to this day rehash David Ricardo’s claim that free trade will make poor countries rich. They’re wrong; history shows that when poor nations embrace free trade, they become even poorer, while poor nations that reject free trade schemes generally prosper. Yet the total disconfirmation of free trade theory in practice has yet to register on the economic mainstream. As far as economists are concerned, Ricardo said it, they believe it, and that settles it.

      So economics isn’t a science. It also wasn’t founded by Adam Smith. What Adam Smith founded, rather, was political economy. You won’t hear much about that field of study these days, and that’s not an accident. Political economy, as the name indicates, explores the relations between wealth and power in a society.
      great article
      We’re not talking about tides, the orbits of the planets, or mathematics – indeed, the rich aren’t getting richer because of some natural evolution – but a very UNnatural evolution. How health care is run in a society is a POLITICAL decision. The laws for every kind of insurance are voluminous and expanded upon through extensive regulations and court precedents. But for some 50 years now, the tilt has been toward the wealthy…and the powerful – but I repeat myself.

  12. Jim Haygood

    A selection of today’s bitcoin headlines:

    Bitcoin Dominatrix Makes $1 Million Pimping Out Clients In “Crypto Slave Farm”

    Long Island Iced Tea Soars 500% After Changing Its Name To Long Blockchain

    Bitcoin is the ‘Gateway Drug’ to Cryptomania

    Grizzled grayhairs will recognize how closely today’s cryptomania rhymes with the internet IPO mania of 1999.

    Stay safe out there, folks!

    1. Wukchumni

      I still rue the day I got talked into buying stock back in ’99.

      It seemed like the perfect dotcom, discounted 55 pound bags of dry cement mix, shipped free to anywhere in the world.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I can be persuaded to vote for changing the name Social Security to Long Blockchain Social Security.

      Maybe we can all get to retire at the age of 55 then.

  13. The Rev Kev

    Re the Under the Thumb cartoon by Thomas Nast.
    Anybody familiar with his more famous cartoon ( at all? That “What are you going to do about it?’ was a quote from New York’s Boss Tweed in answer to a reporter’s question about police corruption. He died in prison several years later so I guess that that was his question answered.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Exclusive: US making plans for ‘bloody nose’ military attack on North Korea Telegraph. What could go wrong?

    How much of it is Art of War stuff?

    One way is to be unpredictable. I think Trump has said that in the past.

    Another is to appear to be mad. It’s not a strategy for all seasons. And we don’t see this often. However, it seems that this is being deployed by two men simultaneously.

    Probably the rarest bluff stare-down, both pretending to be mad…maybe I am wrong that they are mad, but hopefully I am right that they are just bluffing AND nothing goes wrong.

    1. Mark P.

      Probably the rarest bluff stare-down, both pretending to be mad

      Unfortunately not. It’s nuclear deterrence 101. After all, if nuclear deterrence has a business model, how’s it work?

      For starters, a nuclear player must do more than just acquire nukes. A transaction needs to happen: that nuclear player has to inject risk and uncertainty into the strategic calculus their adversary reckons with, so that adversary believes the would-be nuclear player would really use the things. Logically, therefore, if you’re a smaller player with an inferior arsenal – which will still devastate a far more powerful adversary, given nuclear weapons’ vast destructiveness – the more you increase your enemy’s uncertainty about when you’ll use your nukes, the more deterrence you gain.

      The catch is, while a smaller state wants maximum leverage from its weapons, it obviously doesn’t want to use them – it’ll get obliterated if it does. So how does it convincingly appear volatile and unpredictable? It keeps its nukes on hair-trigger, launch-on-warning status like Pakistan does or continually ups the threat level like Pyongyang does.

      But the U.S. has a long history of nuclear threat-making, too. I’ve spent time talking to Russians who lived in the former USSR and they’re very convincing in expressing how deeply scary and monstrous they found the U.S. when they were young.

      There’s a reason why the likes of Kissinger and George Schultz are nuclear abolitionists. Nuclear deterrence is fundamentally unstable and will one day fail.

  15. Jim Haygood

    CalPERS buys the bubble at the top:

    CalPERS’ investment committee approved a new asset allocation plan on Monday that increases the equity allocation to 50% from 46%. CalPERS’ liquid portfolio, made up of cash and other short-term instruments, will fall to 1% from 4%.

    Critics have pointed out that the new allocation is unrealistic because the pension fund’s own estimate shows the portfolio that was adopted would have a 6.1% rate of return annualized over the next 10 years. If investment returns fall under 7% that would increase the system’s $138 billion unfunded liability in the near term.

    CalPERS officials justified the allocation because they say long term over the next 60 years, they estimate the system can make the annualized 7% rate of return.

    Instead of prudently easing back on equities — which by some measures are at their most overvalued level in history — CalPERS is digging its last spare change out of the money market account to kick another 4 percent into stocks near the absolute top tick of Bubble III.

    cuckoo — cuckoo — cuckoo

    Not to worry, they’ll recover their losses over the next 60 years! We’ll be the grateful dead (so to speak) by then, but the grandkids will be fine. Promise!

    In plain words, CalPERS is setting itself up to plunge over the waterfall in the next bear market, as panicked pensioners tumble out of the upended canoe onto the jagged rocks below.

    CalPERS’ coming crack-up will provide a rich vein of material for our esteemed host for years to come.

    *goes out back to collect brickbats*

  16. Wukchumni

    “Everything I consume in the States is of a vastly, abysmally lower quality. Every single thing.”

    The Japanese are fanatical about perfection in foodstuffs, and the best looking everything grown here, goes there after being pulled out in a sorting room. I’m talking about that perfect $10 navel orange for sale in a store in Osaka, or a blemish free $100 melon.

      1. Wukchumni

        We wouldn’t pay anymore for perfection, although we’d want it for the same price as ordinary produce, thus, there’s Gladys looking through each of those oranges, high grading the golden orbs, it’s what she does.

      2. Tooearly

        Those examples would make one think that that sort of excess is the norm in Japan where is my experience is that high quality foodstuffs are available at very reasonable prices.

        1. Wukchumni

          Not the norm by any means, obviously. You’d blow your food budget in a hurry.

          Barbara Tuchman’s book on Stillwell is a fine read, and Vinegar Joe was an old China hand with his first visit coming in 1911, where he encountered fruit sellers offering orange slices sold by the segment on the streets of Peking.

    1. Jean

      Is that why they ship the Fukushima tainted radioactive foodstuffs they can’t sell in Japan to the U.S. for consumption?

  17. Jim Haygood

    G men close in on the ex-Grifters-in-Chief:

    On the orders of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Justice Department prosecutors have begun asking FBI agents to explain the evidence they found in a now dormant criminal investigation into a controversial uranium deal that critics have linked to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

    Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 for a Moscow speech by a Russian investment bank with links to the transaction. As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, The New York Times reported, Uranium One’s Canadian chairman, Ian Telfer, used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation.

    Frank Giustra was the chairman of UrAsia, a company bidding for uranium rights in Kazakhstan. In 2005, after he had begun negotiating for the rights, he and Bill Clinton traveled to Kazakhstan and attended a dinner with the country’s president. UrAsia had soon closed deals for uranium mining rights in Kazakhstan. In 2006, Giustra donated $31.3 million to the Clinton Foundation.

    Hillary says she had nothing to do with Uranium One. But the eye-popping donations to the Clinton Foundation from highly specific actors in these deals (and their nondisclosure, in the case of Telfer’s $2.35 million) eloquently say otherwise.

    Blindfolded and with my right hand tied behind my back, I could draft a slam-dunk money laundering indictment against the Clintons with free legal forms downloaded from the internet. :-)

    1. Louis

      I suspect that this decision is not purely about attracting workers and that there is a political dimension as well. There are two likely scenarios

      (1) This bank is seeing the proverbial handwriting on the wall: i.e. a minimum wage increase is probably coming at some point and they want to stay ahead of it

      (2) This is political theater to avoid criticism of having all the benefits of the tax cut accrue to shareholders.

    2. JohnnyGL

      They’re probably just celebrating something they’d already planned to do, anyway…..and they made the choice for business reasons (not because of tax cut, or morality, etc).

      1. Anon

        Exactly. BoA announced the same $15 minimum wage last year, predating the tax scam. At most, these other banks saw a political/PR opportunity by accelerating their existing plans a bit.

    3. oh

      I wouldn’t hold my breath on the Dims repealing the tax cut; they’re same the Repigs and feed from the same trough.

  18. Louis

    The Los Angeles Times piece about Millennials renting practically has a neon sign flashing “Out of Touch”, though they forgot to include the cliche Avocado toast.

    Many Millennials aren’t “embracing” renting, as a conscious choice, as if it’s the cool thing to do. Rather they are renting because, between student loan debt and the fact that wages are not keeping up with the cost of living, they don’t have a lot of other realistic options.

    1. todde

      Hoover had himself convinced that during the depression Wall Street executives traded their managerial jobs for selling apples on the street corner because they chose to do so.

      1. Wukchumni

        Even then managerial types were cutting a fat hog if they knew where to get 126 apples for 30 cents, to peddle for a nickel per.

        November 18, 1931:

        “…we bought apples Sunday for 30 cents a bushel…”

        …from The Great Depression: A Diary

    2. sd

      I believe the options break down as live at home with the parents or live in an apartment with friends. Which would you choose?

    3. Richard

      I know, wasn’t it awful? But it’s about those hard working young people, so let’s make it sound upbeat! Just a new trend!

      1. Wukchumni

        “My Millennial Loves Playing Video Games & Enjoys Social Media!”

        Is that too long for a bumper sticker?

  19. Katniss Everdeen

    Bowling alleys have seen the wisdom of this arrangement since time immemorial.

    Many moons ago, only my wealthier, prissier friends asked Santa for their own bowling shoes so as not to be forced to wear shoes someone else had worn and, most likely sweated in. We, less fortunate peons, simply demanded to watch them being sprayed, and asked for a “cool” as opposed to “warm” pair.

    Order a size up if planning to wear thick socks. I’ve no idea how much space kevlar socks take up.

  20. Wukchumni

    I’ll be paying more home taxes next Christmas
    GOP tax plan singled out me
    It was a fiscal dog and pony show
    And presents for the moneyed class you see

    Christmas Eve will find us
    Where the 1% gleaners glean
    I’ll be less taxed on my home next Christmas
    If only in my dreams

    1. ambrit

      I can’t resist. I’ve begun to wear “cute” furry aminal earmuffs at work to block out some of the Christmess music blaring out over the store sound system. The volume of sound generated has been increased for the holidaze. Several coworkers have commented on it unprompted.

      You better watch out,
      You better not cry,
      You better not pout,
      I’m telling you why,
      Tax Reform is coming to town.

      They’re making a list,
      And checking it twice:
      Gonna find out who contributes to vice,
      Tax Reform is coming to town.

      They see when you’re investing,
      They know what moves you make,
      They know if returns are bad or good,
      So you better be on the make.

      Oh! You better watch out,
      You better not cry,
      You better not pout,
      I’m telling you why,
      Tax Reform is coming to town!

      (Downloads available pegged to inflation with a chained CPI.)

  21. DJG

    Jackson Lears, What We Dont Talk about When We Talk about Russian Hacking.

    Thanks for the posting. It has been a while since I have read an article by Lears, who is always methodical. He’s also a good leftist critic, who marshals way too many facts to make a point. So it may be that regular readers of Naked Capitalism will understand his economic, computer tech, and foreign policy observations, yet many people, particularly panic-stricken liberals, still are breathing in a hallucinogenic miasma producing visions of Russians magically hacking the DNC with their SlavicSuperPowers.

    In particular, Lears is good in pointing out his own brush with Liberal Icons, the Intelligence Community, and how he was decommissioned from the armed forces for his stance. The “intelligence” that brought you Vietnam, the Iraq wars, and Comey’s testimony is a national embarrassment not a patriotic treasure.

    I also like Lears’s mention of Gramsci. I had a couple of serendipitous and meaningful brushes with Gramsci this year. My respect for him grows and grows. If you don’t want to read the Prison Notebooks, try getting his letters. He was also a highly amusing theater critic.

    Finally, Lears is good at reminding us of the disaster of the Democrats’ policies. They have no economic policy except shoring up crapified structures like Obamacare. They can barely be moved to defend Social Security and Medicare. And his oh-so-embarrassing mentions of the Democrats’ addiction to unending war and Albright’s and Clinton’s roles in the slaughter are helpful.

    But what do I know? Some nice-looking guy name Volodya showed up at my place (on his way to Wisconsin), bribed me with a jar of fancy Roosky pickled mushrooms, and I voted for that Commie roundheel stooge Jill Stein!

  22. DJG

    How birds sing together article (and, it turns out, dance together): The study is very clever with the automata and all. But is it really news? Have these people never looked at a bird?

    And the study doesn’t quite explain those groovy jazz masters, the catbirds. They don’t sing in groups. They are solo acts.

  23. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Space is not a “global commons,” top Trump space official says Quartz

    I take the secret reading of that to mean we have to fight space aliens for it.

    “It belongs to the strongest.”

  24. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    How the Democratic Party Can Win the South Benjamin Studebaker (UserFriendly).

    For those fooled once too many times, they know that winning doesn’t equate with promises fulfilled.

    We have often seen 180 degree reversals immediately after.

  25. Craig H.

    The Oxford professors thing on colonialism is a nice read.

    Nor are historians much moved by arguments that because Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe was a despot, British imperialism or white supremacy under UDI in Rhodesia must surely look better in comparison. That is not a meaningful comparison. Biggar’s argument fails even its own test in the case of Iraq, where in the aftermath of invasion, occupation, civil war and the terror of Daesh that came in their wake, there is no lack of nostalgia for the “order” and “security” of Saddam Hussein.

    On the other hand at least their government doesn’t celebrate making knights out of pirates any more. There has been a small amount of progress since 1600 A.D.

  26. Down2Long

    Trust me, here in Cali us average Joe’s are going to be paying through the nose for our state and city employee “comrades” to retire early and in style.

    Case in point: My new fire inspector just cited me for a list of “violations.” I have passed the inspections for 12 years, with the exception of one year) spending a month every May clearing the hillside property.This year I am suddenly so out of compliance with my inspector that he hired a contractor to do the job for $20K, which will be a lien as good against the property. There is also a city fee of $2,000 to create/print the invoice, and $300 fee every time the inspector drives into my property to “take a look.”

    The one time before my previous inspector cited me. He sent a crew which made several piles of dead brush, and sent me invoice for $2,800 – $800 for the crew that had now thrown me further out of compliance, and $2K for the invoice.

    Furious, I appealed. The hearing officer was shocked at the fee. She asked the inspector” You charged him $2,000 to print an invoice?”

    Inspector: “Yes, we can do that”

    Officer: “I understand, but you actually DID?”

    She cut the invoice fee to $0 and ordered me to pay the contractor only, and thanked me for coming to the hearing. “Most people don’t” she said, shaking her head (ruefully).

    Lucky for me this year, the contractor who was hired for the job only wants easy money and with my hills, his crew would actually have to work. So the contractor asked me to do the work, so he doesn’t have to, which I gladly obliged

    This new inspector is on ala tear be had the contractor clear 2 properties on the next knoll.

    The housing department inspectors are on a tear too, citing 6,000 “illegal” units this year alone, as compared to 2,000. Every cited unit guarantees the city at least $5K in fees, and a tenant on the street. Last year I got caught in the funding scheme – a unit which had been nice registered with the city – and which had been inspected 5 times, and registration fees for almost. 40 years, was suddenly declared illegal. I had to pay the $500 a month tenant $10,200 to move, pay the city $5K in fines, and now the unit sits vacant.I asked the manager at the housing department what purpose it served tossing tenants in the streets and reducing housing sticks. He shrugged his shoulders: “The city wants money.”

    While none of us want a fire, especially me, the rules vary, and are subject to “interpretation,” as is the law in all of Los Angeles.

    I had a friend in the City Attorney’s office who I made when I was involved with clearing the gangs out of a neighborhood where I was restoring a house. She finally quit the job. She said “I can’t go to work every day defending city workers who do whatever the hell they want, regardless of the law.”

    But I guarantee you, in my experience with the various departments in Los Angeles: Housing, Building and Safety, Transportation (who once cited me for planting butterfly friendly plants in the median strip between the sidewalk and the street) each and every one of them can cite you and generate fees for their cozy retirement.

    1. Wukchumni

      Hold on out of stater type…

      Nobody uses the word ‘cali’ around these parts, an admonishment moniker from someone on the outside looking in.

    2. Jim Haygood

      That’s why Kali’s flag has a mean-lookin’ bear on it.

      He’s hungry and looking for picnic baskets.

    3. Jean

      Call the Pacific Legal Foundation. Give them your details.
      Start a neighborhood or citywide committee to privatize the city departments, “for efficiency” and “savings” and demand an audit of each and every inspector’s salary/pension benefits. Those pensions are going to have to be downsized for equity and to assure that infrastructure can be maintained, right?

      How to research public employee’s pay.

      These Republicans might be good for something.

      “Cali”? How many months have you been here?

      1. Objective Function

        I am not a CA native but held a drivers license and paid taxes there for 6 years. And called it Cali the whole time. Why? Because it was my pleasure. (And in the gone wild department, my wife had her bank account garnished for ‘unpaid’ taxes by the city of San Francisco 7 years after we moved out of the city and the state. To their credit they admitted their error pretty quickly, but the old saying ‘a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged…. by her own government’ took on new relevancy for us)

  27. Ed

    I’m with you on that “swipe and tap” observation. And I think that translucent lobster found its way into the lobster bisque I had last week.

  28. Altandmain

    Re: The Mortality article

    U.S. life expectancy falls for second straight year — as drug overdoses soar

    I don’t think that 2015 was a statistical outlier, as 2016 would mean the second straight year life expectancy declined – this is looking like a pretty alarming trend to me. The neoliberal deaths of despair are coming back with a vengeance.

    Oh and the US is more unequal now than pre-revolutionary France:

  29. allan

    Instead of Boosting Working-Family Tax Credit, GOP Tax Bill Erodes It Over Time [CBPP]

    The Republican tax bill not only squanders an important opportunity to help working families by strengthening the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), but it also permanently erodes the EITC’s value over time by adopting a different measure for adjusting tax brackets and certain tax provisions each year to account for inflation (known as the “chained” Consumer Price Index or CPI). …

    … while GOP leaders’ overview of the final bill says that it “[m]aintains the Earned Income Tax Credit to provide important tax relief for low-income Americans working to build better lives for themselves,”
    the bill doesn’t even do that.

    Its adoption of the chained CPI means that the maximum EITC will rise more slowly over time than under current law, eroding the credit’s value for millions of working-class people. As the chart shows, a married couple making $40,000 with two children would see their EITC shrink by $322 in 2027 (from $4,974 to $4,652). Moreover, the change is permanent. …

    Surely a mere drafting oversight, together with the non-elimination of carried interest.
    They’ll fix it in conference committee … oh, wait …

  30. Wukchumni

    What if in lieu of homes, the 2nd most valuable item the majority of us purchase, had gone bubbly instead since the turn of the century?

    You’d see listings such as:

    1999 Ford Expedition, 145.653 miles, upholstery ripped in places, and the rear passenger window is stuck in the open position. Has all 4 tires & the spare, along with owners manual. $137,500

    1. ambrit

      Oh, come on now. My sister-in-law bought a brand new VW Beetle in 1963, off the showroom floor, for $1650 USD. Today, a basic Beetle will set you back $20,220 USD. In contrast, back in 1963, Minimum Wage was $1.25 per hour. Today it’s $7.25 per hour. Gasoline then was $.30 a gallon. Now it’s roughly $2.45 a gallon. So, inflation is happening, but at what speed, only the Fed knows! (They know everything! And if ‘they’ don’t know it, to their way of thinking, it doesn’t exist.)

  31. Jim Haygood

    On our own:

    The United Nations on Thursday delivered a stunning rebuke of President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, casting an overwhelming vote condemning the move and calling on the U.S. to withdraw the decision.

    The final vote count in favor of the resolution was 128. Nine countries opposed the resolution while 35 abstained.

    Some of the U.S.’s closest allies, including Canada, Mexico and Australia, abstained from the vote.

    America’s mask is off. And it’s not a pretty sight.

    1. Carolinian

      Always wanted to live in a rogue nation.

      Not really. Sounds like “new sheriff in town” Nikki is going to have to lock some of these varmints up in her imaginary jail.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Then Nikki took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Bibi’s feet and wiped his feet with her hair.


    1. susan the other

      I always thought that bec. the Bundys had been there since frontier days, before clear federal records and using only local court docs which were not kept properly, that possession was 9/10ths of the case. The gov will never prove that the Bundys are not entitled to their property and the ancient use of it. The whole Bundy enterprise is completely grandfathered.

      1. Wukchumni

        BLM is in charge of a chunk of land around these parts, and we had 1 of just 3 law enforcement officers whose range was from Bakersfield to Visalia, come and talk at one of our town hall meetings.

  32. Oregoncharles

    “Rule of Law: European Commission acts to defend judicial independence in Poland European Commission (Clive).”
    Raises a number of questions for me. In the first place, this is a press release from the EU; is there independent material about Poland’s “reforms”? In general, this is one of the ways the EU can be very good, holding members to higher standards, but it’s also a neoliberal infestation; so which is it here?

    Second: this is the EU’s motive for being harsh on Brexit, since this dispute could very easily bounce Poland out of the EU. Poland doesn’t use the Euro – it was news when they refused to introduce it. Does Hungary, the other country moving in this direction? What about Austria? Is the EU willing to push the matter that hard? Losing Poland would be a major ouch, especially for the members to its east.

    Again in general, this could be just what you’d expect when trying to patch together a new union: you would expect to shed some potential members along the way. Personally, I think trying to put together a nation that large and diverse is a big mistake. It’s never going to work without becoming repressive, as Greece already discovered. And it would not be manageable – rather like the Soviet Union.

  33. susan the other

    On political economy. John Michael Greer is like mental alka-seltzer. We are getting overcome by political indigestion these days. And Ecosophia is almost too beautiful a name to survive. Ecosophia should replace Christmas. With new symbols of desperation and love. If “political economy” is the goal for stability we should at least change our vocabulary to include “sucking up” to replace the old “trickle down”. Roots are the only true earthly metaphor. There really was never anything in reality that corresponded to “trickle down”. I’m just wonderin’ what happens next when capital, management, and labor are all robots. And cryptocurrency produces nothing whatsoever of value. I’m not altogether sure we will even have a place to crawl back to.

    1. ambrit

      We’ll all have to do like the Heechee in Fred Pohls’ “Gateway” stories and retreat past the event horizon.

  34. jackiebass

    The AT&T bonus hand out cited by Trump wasn’t because of the tax bill as claimed by Trump. It is because of a new union contract that include the bonus as part of the agreement. Another example of Trump taking credit for something he had nothing to do with.

  35. Patrick Donnelly

    12th day of Christ’s Mass is also Perihelion.

    Not a coincidence. Rome, and at that time Constantinople, planned it that way. The hippy types did not conquer Constantine. Sun worshippers conquered them, why Xians worship on SUNday.

    That is the closest Earth gets to Eden, the source of the planet, when it was called Adam.

Comments are closed.