Links 1/19/18

Reminder: The Minneapolis NC Meetup is tomorrow, Saturday January 20, at 10:30AM. Details here.

Safeguarding our soils Nature

20 percent more trees in megacities would mean cleaner air and water, lower carbon and energy use

The case for ending Amazon’s dominance FT

Wells Fargo customers find accounts drained by mistaken double charges Statesman (Re Silc).

The Fall of Travis Kalanick Was a Lot Weirder and Darker Than You Thought Bloomberg. Kalanick gets away clean with a billion dollars. Weird and dark this is, but a “fall”? Really?

Uber told to focus on US and Europe as SoftBank deal closes FT

A bill to put more self-driving cars on U.S. roads is stuck in the Senate Recode

Bitcoin’s fluctuations are too much for even ransomware cybercriminals Guardian

EIA expects total U.S. fossil fuel production to reach record levels in 2018 and 2019 US Energy Information Administration. So we’re a petrostate now? Good to know.

Anyone who claims that machine learning will save money in high-stakes government decision-making is lying Boing Boing (DL). Must-read.

Crime-Predicting Algorithms May Not Fare Much Better Than Untrained Humans Wired


Syria – Tillerson Announces Occupation Goals – Erdogan Makes Empty Threats Moon of Alabama

How the U.S. Is Making the War in Yemen Worse The New Yorker

The IMF has choked Tunisia. No wonder the people are protesting Guardian

‘Make Trade, Not War’ is China’s daring plan in the Middle East Asia Times (Re Silc).

The Left Improves Control of Britain’s Labour Party Ian Welsh. Anything called the “Disputes Committee” is something you want to control.

Residents in tower block face £2m bill to replace Grenfell-style cladding Sky News. Property managed by “First Port Property Services”; I may be overly paranoid here, but a rule I have, parallel to “Never eat at a place called Mom’s” is “Never do business with a firm called First.”

New Cold War

Fear and Droning: Manufacturing Consent for War as a Public-Private Partnership Nina Illingworth

American Democracy Is an Easy Target Foreign Policy. Lambert here: I’m a heck a lot more concerned about squillionaire ownership than Russian “influence.”

CIA rendition flights from rustic North Carolina called to account by citizens Guardian (Re Silc). Well worth a read. “I baked their gingerbread houses for Christmas.”

Intelligence Community Contractors Gain Whistleblower Protections Government Executive

Trump Transition

Senate in disarray with shutdown hours away Politico. This is the normal budget process now. Late Roman Republic stuff.

Jack Goldsmith and Susan Hennessey Run Cover for Those Giving Jeff Sessions Unreviewable Authority to Criminalize Dissent emptywheel

* * *

‘Vision, Chutzpah and Some Testosterone NYT

What Was Most Surprising About Trump’s First Year? FiveThirtyEight

A consequential president: Trump’s tweets have overshadowed the impact of his policies at one year in Susan Page, USA Today

Trump Is Turning Us All into Him Vice

One Goldman Takeover That Failed: The Trump White House NYT

7 Ways To Support The Women’s March 2018 If You’re Not Able To Go In Person Bustle. Vegas because Nevada is a swing state.

Sex in Politics… Not.

Let’s be honest about Aziz Ansari CNN

‘The price for being loud’: What Lindsey Port lost after her #MeToo moment MinnPost

From The Department of Guys, He’s Got a Point:

Our Famously Free Press

The 29 Stages Of A Twitterstorm In 2018 Buzzfeed. It’s all true!

Imperial Collapse Watch

‘We’re Killing These Kids, We’re Breaking the Army!’ The American Conservative. If the Democrats weren’t a war party, they could pick up those votes. I’d love to see Sanders take this on.

Why We Should Close America’s Overseas Military Bases Time. Cato.

Navy ship collisions prompt rare criminal charges AP

Neoliberal Epidemics

Macroeconomic Conditions and Opioid Abuse NBER

Opioid Crisis Blamed For Sharp Increase In Accidental Deaths In U.S. NPR

The Untreatable LRB

Class Warfare

Modern Slavery CFR. Good data, once you fight through the horrid and time-consuming “interactive” UI/UX.

Editorial: Humankind put to test in face of money manager capitalism’s risks The Mainichi. Interesting to see Minsky cited in a Japanese mass-market newspaper.

An Insider’s Take on Assessment: It May Be Worse Than You Thought Chronicle. Important for adjuncts.

Loneliness is contributing to our increasingly tribal politics FT

The revolutionary ideas of Thomas Kuhn TLS

The Ramayana and Mahabharata battles aren’t purely about good versus evil Quartz

Antidote du jour (Re Silc):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Quanka

    Thank you for elevating the soils article. I will second a critique from 2 days ago in the links –> SOIL IS RENEWABLE. Its called composting. Nature “composts” all the time in the forest and whats left of natural grasslands that haven’t been nuked with chemicals over the past 50 years.

    Healthy soils — thats the key, HEALTHY SOILS can sink 10+ times the amount of carbon that our air can regulate. I am not a biologist so I won’t get too fancy with the math.

    Climate Change is a soil problem, not a problem of too much CO2 in the air. We measure CO2 and our benevolent leaders always talk about the importance o f reducing CO2 in the atmosphere. Missing the forest for the trees. Fix the soil, and the soil will fix the atmosphere.

    Oh course, Bayer, Monsanto, etc have a vested interest in our continuing to blame fossil fuel companies — they are “life science” companies after all, do no harm as such, right?

    1. JohnMinMN

      So glad someone pointed this out. I remember reading about soil regeneration in The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, when he described the process taking place on Joel Salatin’s Farm.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Soil, the lowly stuff we walk all over every day (back in prehistory, before we evolved to live in urban concrete jungles)?

      It reminds us of the the Zen koan, Buddha is a shit stick.

      More traditional Buddhists would say, because a lotus grows from mud, it blossoms beautifully.

      Today, maybe we say, we look for saints amongst the Deplorables….well, maybe this is too heretical.

      In any case, that 10-times-air carbon-sink is an inspiring claim that maybe not too many of us are familiar with. Any links?

      1. Quanka

        A lot of what I learned came from a book called Cows Save the Planet. There is a bibliography at the end and I followed up one some of the sources of the material, mostly based in Australia. I have since passed my copy of the book along so I cannot handily reference it :(

        Book: Cows Save the Planet by Judith D Schwartz.
        Podcasts: Look for interviews w/ Allan Savory and Christine Jones.
        Academic Journals likely feature work by C Jones as well but I don’t have access.

        1. Darius

          A counter argument is in the documentary Cowspiracy, which asserts that carnivorism isn’t sustainable.

          Modern agriculture doesn’t treat soil as a renewable resource, but rather a mineable resource.

      2. Shirley

        There’s a whole section on this subject in DIRT, THE EROSION OF CIVILIZATION. It’s not quite as impressive as claimed here but I think the author said 30% or so of carbon could be sequestered in healthy soil. Good book, it’s yet another warning.

    3. Jef

      Quanka – A huge over simplification of the issue. Earth is a water planet, over 70% ocean. One might be able to say “Fix the ocean, and the ocean will fix the atmosphere” but even that is not a given at this point.

      For the soil to have a measurable effect on Co2 we would have to let all land go fallow and plant millions of trees a year.

      As someone who has been working the land for around 15 years now and meeting and working with Joel Salatin and others many times I can safely say that all agriculture, at least any that produces enough to feed large populations and remain economically viable, is a big net Co2 generator. It is possible to do it differently and much better but not if you still want to nourish 7+ billion.

      1. Quanka

        We already produce enough food to feed the world – we throw much of it away. Hunger is a food distribution and access problem, NOT a problem of having enough agricultural lands.

      2. John k

        Aye, there’s the rub. 7 billion and counting… the basis of growth…
        What is sustainable for eternity, or at least a millennium? As many as half that? How long would it take with uni mandatory one child to get there?
        What cannot be sustained won’t be, and the more rapid the adjustment, the less humane. Maybe wars/starvation are the only routes available for a species with our attributes…
        Note to gates… If birth control is most important, logically finding cures for diseases is least…

      3. Adam Eran

        Jef, I’d disagree. Salatin’s carbon sequestration is not typical of industrial ag in the U.S. (where prairie soils that were previously six feet deep are down to six inches). Salatin’s soil is improving, not degrading. The average trip from farm to food on the American dinner table averages something like 1,000 miles, but Salatin refuses to ship out of the local “food shed,” too.

        Michael Pollan says that American ag spends 10 calories of petroleum to produce one calorie of food. That’s right: not even our agriculture is solar.

        Permaculture pioneers like Geoff Lawton, Mark Shepard and Salatin do nowhere near that amount of petroleum-intensive farming. Shepard, in particular, runs a viable farm that does more than produce commodity crops, and certainly produces as much, if not more than, industrial agriculture.

        One of my all time favorite videos is Greening the Desert. (The link is to the short version) The soil Lawton revives–virtually concrete since conventional ag had its way with it–was producing nowhere near as much as he managed to get from it. Again: Hippies 1, Cargill & ADM 0.

        Anyway, this meme that hippie farmers can’t be real, viable food producers is something big ag loves to tell, but it just doesn’t happen to be true. To debunk even more of that meme, here’s one article describing how small farmers are more productive than big ones, too.

        Meanwhile, to feed the entire planet, I’ve read $30 – $85 million would do the job. That’s not even one F 35. Hunger is a public policy choice, not a necessity.

        Incidentally, oceans are already sequestering lots of CO2. That’s called “acidification” (H2CO3 is the acid made by combining CO2 and H2O).

        1. Jef

          Adam- I understand all of that…first hand. I also know that Salatin’s methods translates to 1/4 or less production per acre and leaving some acres fallow for years. This is all pipe dreaming. By the way Salatin makes his living lecturing not farming.

          Oceans are slowing down their sequestering due to several climate change/pollution issues.

    4. flickadee

      But compost =/= soil. Compost is organic matter (OM). Soil is particles of sand, silt, clay in varying ratios, along with all the other good stuff like OM and minerals and critters. There is very little one can do to alter the existing soil at a given spot. The properties of soil depend in large part on the type and weathering of the underlying “parent” rock, topography, etc. Sure, you can improve soil by doing things like adding OM and altering pH, but as I’m sure most farmers and gardeners will tell you, you’re stuck with the basic soil type you’ve got (unless you move to a different spot with a different soil type, or throw in the towel and bring in some good stuff for raised beds). And good soil can be ruined (e.g., compacting it with heavy traffic so all the wonderful little aerating critter tunnels are collapsed, overeager rototilling…). I once met a soil scientist who liked to quip, “Don’t treat your soil like dirt.” (As an aside for the curious, he also recommended a film I’ve always meant to check out called Dirt!: The Movie.)

      This is why it is so tragic when good farmland is paved over for development. You just can’t get the soil back, and there’s a finite supply of good soil for growing food. It’s also why we have organizations like Maine Farmland Trust, who seek to preserve farmland and transfer it safely into the hands of the next generation of farmers. Efforts like this serve as a bulwark against the permanent loss of farmland to economic forces which make it very attractive to just subdivide the land and sell it for development.

      1. Quanka

        I understand/ agree with this comment thread being an oversimplification of the issue. Jef – with all due respect you are wrong.

        I am again oversimplifying, but come on people this is a comment thread. For explanatory purposes let’s assume here that the earth landmass is comprised of 3 basic types. 1) Humid, 2) Arid, and 3) Arctic.

        Roughly, the earth is 40/40/20 %. Think of the U.S. as mostly arid grassland … only the few hundred miles within the East and Gulf Coasts qualify as humid climates. Australia, China, Russia, Africa … all have significant grasslands.

        Over the industrial revolution (specifically its application to AG) and especially post WW2, the world has treated all of #1 and #2 landmasses the same, with disastrous consequences. In other words, modern AG techniques assume the whole world is humid when in fact 40-45% of the world landmasses are grasslands. This is the ultimate reason for soil degradation.

        Put another way – over the long run, you can’t raise corn – a crop that requires 2 feet acres of water per plant – in the middle of the United States in mass quantities. Its basic water math. And you see the outcome in depleted underground aquifers and creeks that no longer run.

        Agreed that Soil is not the same as Compost. It was an oversimplification.

        The process of composting creates humus, which is a key building block of soil. Nature creates humus as well when organic material breaks down. Humus is rich in microorganisms, these microorganism are important to the carbon-holding and water-holding properties of soil.

        If you avoid nuking the soil with chemicals, and instead follow Holistic Land Management techniques, modern practitioners have restored fallow fields in 5-10 years, building soil at rates of 4-6” PER YEAR. This is actually happening. In the real world.

        Did you know that native grasslands “sink” much more carbon into the soil than do trees, which tend to temporarily hold carbon (in their leaves and trunks) but lack the ability to drive carbon into the soil the way grasses do* This negates the idea that we have to abandon agriculture and cover the world in trees. Actually, that would only native grassland soil problems since these areas cannot, from a climate standpoint, even support mass trees in the first place.

        Finally, we’ve all been duped into blaming cows as well. Animals play an important role in helping to maintain soil health. The problem is the modern CAFO where we cram thousands of these animals into tight spaces.

        Oversimplification? Of Course! It’s a comment thread .. but I urge you to think outside the box on this issue. Learn from mother nature, not from modern technology.

          1. Quanka

            This is where you need to leave the soil discussion and move into a broader discussion about the carbon cycle and the water cycle. Quite frankly its beyond my pay grade, but I will try to answer. Let me start by observing a (kinda) famous U.S. meteorologist who denies climate change and the importance of CO2 – he likes to point out that water vapor (H2O in gas form) is thousands of times more prevalent in the atmosphere than either CO2 or Methane. And he’s right.

            In short: Soil degradation has disrupted the water cycle (read water vapor). This is driving climate change more than the amount of CO2 or methane. Yes, those are important factors … but H2O is by far the gorilla in the room as compared to the other two gasses. They are all interrelated, so on the one hand its not smart to separate the three.

            Also – the arctic tundra has stored up massive multiples of the amount of methane released by animals. Animals and methane are a scapegoat, missing the point – that’s my conclusion.

            1. UserFriendly

              H2O vapor is the gorilla in the room as far as climate change is concerned but that has absolutely nothing to do with the moisture of the soil or the amount of water in aquifers. The main thing that changes how much water vapor is in the air is the temperature. The only other thing that could even possibly play any roll is the average wind speed over the ocean. CO2 traps more heat. The Climate is one big complicated thing with feedback loops and dampening effects but I can assure you that aquifer levels aren’t affecting total humidity.

          2. Adam Eran

            I’ve even read there are even cow probiotics that dramatically reduce methane emissions from them… That said, meat consumption is up 500% since the 1950’s, to the detriment of human and planetary health.

        1. JohnM

          I believe this misconception stems from concerns expressed about the cutting of the amazon rainforest. In tropical climates, the biomass (carbon) is stored above ground. The soils have little organic matter due to the climate. Year-round warm temperatures prevent the accumulation of humus in the soil. In temperate climates, microbial digestion of organic matter is suspended during the winter months, therefore allowing accumulation in the soil. This process is further accelerated if grasses are grown and grazed by livestock. Each time the leaf portion of the plant is removed by grazing animals, the plant sheds root mass to balance itself, also adding organic matter. And then there is the matter of root exudates that the plant produces to feed soil micro-organisms – more carbon added to the soil.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > If you avoid nuking the soil with chemicals, and instead follow Holistic Land Management techniques, modern practitioners have restored fallow fields in 5-10 years, building soil at rates of 4-6” PER YEAR. This is actually happening. In the real world.

          If you can’t provide links, a source, at least, please.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Granted. I cheated a little the other day by referencing “topsoil”, the good stuff. It’s basically finely divided rock with a lot of life and OM added in. As long as you have that granular substrate, you can make more topsoil from it, albeit at considerable effort and expense. If you’re down to bedrock, you’re into geological time frames to get soil back, or hauling it in.

        As someone else pointed out, correctly, it’s vastly more efficient to save what you have and focus restoration efforts on areas that have already been stripped. I just wanted to correct the impression that ruined soil is hopeless.

        Incidentally, a large portion of eroded soil winds up in the riverbed or deposited in the riparian zone; only a portion makes it to the ocean. Getting it back from the river may be worthwhile, especially with “beaver” dams that forc eit to deposit in useful places.

        1. .juliania

          No one commenting mentions the basic fact that in order to grow soil (an its poppycock that you can’t – I do!) you need living organisms. It CAN be done.

          All composting needs worms and micro-organisms. Provide these plus vegetation, and soil makes itself. Bingo

          1. Scylla

            You are not making soil though-there is much more to soil than organic matter. Compost is a soil amendment, not soil itself. If you disbelieve this, fill some containers with nothing but compost, and plant a representative sample of the plants/crops you typically grow into them. You will end up with very unhealthy plants.

            1. Oregoncharles

              Well, the potatos and pumpkins sure throve. It depends on how much dirt is in your compost. There needs to be some, or it doesn’t compost properly.

    5. Scylla

      Soil is not renewable. Under favorable conditions, it takes approximately 500 years to generate 1 inch of topsoil in nature. With that in mind, NRCS is currently working on trying to get farmers to alter their management strategies to get topsoil loss to 2 tons, per acre, per year or less. and I will add that many progressive minded farmers are having difficulty attaining this target in any area that has any kind of topography at all. Once that soil is gone, it is gone-typically to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico for the US.
      Are their methods with which topsoil loss can be reduced? Of course, and many are being employed. Such efforts can become very intensive, but when examining an entire farm, even a farm that utilizes grass based agriculture, the topsoil is almost always being lost at a faster rate than it is being generated. Any tillage, including “no-till” and even the non-mechanized/most conservative in nature, increases the natural topsoil loss rate (the more you reduce tillage, the more healthy and diverse the soil flora and fauna become-this is your carbon sink). If you want agriculture, you are going to till. Period. Full stop.
      I will concede that topsoil can be manufactured-but only at a tiny scale compared to what is needed.

      The permaculture model (such as that used by Salitin and others) is far and away the most promising method of growing crops and conserving soil without chemical inputs or large scale mechanization, but this method is not capable of feeding the numbers we must deal with, and I will also note, because I saw this mentioned in other responses below, that food waste will increase if we switch away from industrial agriculture-as the row crops associated with industrial ag are those most easily modified to make them shelf stable. Crops associated with permaculture are much more likely to be thrown away (ideally composted) due to spoilage. The distribution problem is much noted, but solutions are always wishy washy and tend to be proposed as techno fetishes that only increase complexity within supply chains. Such solutions are also always just over the horizon.
      Soil can indeed sequester much more carbon than it does, Terra Preta, and other methods that add carbon to the soil also increase productivity, but are labor/energy intensive and produce carbon themselves (watch someone make charcoal sometime), and there is a practical limit to how much carbon can be added to the soil.

    6. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Oh course, Bayer, Monsanto, etc have a vested interest in our continuing to blame fossil fuel companies

      I’m not sure it makes sense to think of soil as a carbon sink and leaving fossil fuels in the ground as mutually exclusive. Surely it makes sense both to improve the soil and not to burn a substance that is both incredibly toxic in every way?

  2. Bandit

    Wells Fargo customers find accounts drained by mistaken double charges

    After all of the exposure of numerous frauds perpetrated by Wells Fargo, I wonder what would possess any intelligent (?) person to bank or continue to bank with Wells Fargo. After a point, these customers have no one to blame but themselves. If you are banking at an institution that is a serial offender, WTF could you expect? I am continually amazed because there are so many other choices, the best being credit unions. So, now, when I read about another fraud or fiasco at WF, I look to the customers to take personal responsibility for their own predicament. I have just run out of sympathy for them.

    1. flora

      Helluvaway for WF to float itself an unsecured, overnight loan and increase its fee revenues (by shorting its depositors).

      1. sd

        So…double charge glitch in the system is a feature, not a bug.

        When is Wells Fargo going to be shut down? They are either hopelessly inept or a criminal enterprise neither of which should be trusted to run a bank.

          1. ebbflows

            Democracy of money seems to have consequences, yet the proponents are the same that forward stuff like a UBI, base unit being consumers and not citizens.

    2. Donna Boxman

      Our small employee benefits company started banking with a local Florida bank 25 years ago. I think it was South Trust. Then they sold out to another company. Remember you could use up your existing checks and keep your account number. Ultimately it became Wachovia and then low and behold you are banking with Wells Fargo. Over 25 years, you start having all your paychecks direct deposited. Many of those accounts are tied up in ways only my husband understands. So here we are after the crash still at Wells Fargo. Fortunately, I was able to easily move our household account in 2008 to a local bank. But untangling ourselves from the evil Wells Fargo is easier said than done in a small one person office. Just one example of how you end up at Wells Fargo. Oh, yes, we refinanced a house with a local bank who then sold off the mortgage to you know who………..

      1. RabidGandhi

        This is a very good point. The freedom to be able to boycott certain evil companies is a freedom far more readily available to richer people who have the excess time/resources to make consumption choices based on something else other than dire necessity. The vast majority of humanity, on the other hand, is too busy working multiple zero-hour jobs and trying to cut costs on basic necessities to have the time or money to try to pry themselves free of the death grips of monopolies. This is by design.

      2. JamesG

        Not long ago as a corporate financial guy at a New York based international corporation I had a lot of fun asking foreigners to guess how many banks there were in the USA.

        Not a single person came close to the right answer: fourteen thousand.

        Individual banks, not branches.

        Canada had eight. Britain France Germany Italy could number theirs in double of even single digits.

        The USA has had a crazy anti-bigness attitude from year one. We had banking rules set by individual states and they tended to severely limit the banks’ operations. Illinois, for example, did not allow any branches.

        Which is why an American could not do what Europeans could do: cash a check at a bank anywhere in the country.

        Thanks to mergers the 14 thousand are now down to about 7 thousand but still too damn many.

  3. integer

    Pelosi: GOP spending bill ‘doggy doo with a cherry on top’ CNN

    This two minute snippet of Pelosi’s press conference cracked me up. A reporter asks her what her message is to parents who are in states that are running low on CHIP funding. See the link for her full answer. I can’t help wondering if the D party used the term “doggy doo” during the strategy meeting in which they came up with this talking point. Somehow I doubt it.

    On a more serious note, her figures on CHIP are suspect too. She says a 6 year CHIP deal would save $1 billion, while a 10 year CHIP deal would save $6 billion. Why would an additional four years of CHIP save an extra $5 billion, when the first 6 years would only save $1 billion? Is this total “doggy doo” or am I missing something?

      1. integer

        Ok, so the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has notified Congress that a full reauthorization of CHIP would reduce the national deficit by $6 billion over 10 years. Can anyone shed any light on why it would only save $1 billion over 6 years?

        FWIW my understanding is that to this date, CHIP has never been authorized for longer than 6 years at a time.

        1. integer

          And lastly, if CHIP was authorized for 6 years (saving $1 billion), and then subsequently authorized for a second 6 years, does this mean $5 billion would be saved in the first 4 years of this second 6 year term, or would it once again only save $1 billion over the full 6 years? Why?

  4. Darius

    Thanks for the pileated woodpecker. They occasionally visit wooded suburban yards in the DC area. Rather than the familiar jackhammer pecking, they’re more like a someone with a hammer and chisel. I’ve seen them twice. It felt like a religious experience.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I was in eastern PA for the holidays. Saw a pileated woodpecker, hard at work on a tree. Sounded like a jackhammer.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Wait till they discover a metal pipe or roofing. That’s their version of song, though pileateds also have a distinctive cry.

      2. cocomaan

        I always know that if they show up at a tree, it’s not long for the world. Serious chips go flying!

  5. Carla

    In “The case for ending Amazon’s dominance,” Tim Harford argues for splitting Amazon in two. Is a duopoly really that much better than a monopoly? If antitrust is ever applied to Amazon (like in the next 15 minutes or it may be too late) — can’t we do better than that?

        1. Synoia

          That worker very well. Now we have many competing Phone and Internet companies, and much consumer choice.

          No monopolies or duopolies exist in the communications (internet) market.

      1. Carla

        @perpetualWar: I don’t. Also, before buying ANYTHING online, I check the ownership of the retailer; very often, it’s Amazon. But I decided years ago, if the only way I can get it is from Amazon, I don’t need it.

        I’m also willing to pay significantly more for an item if I can purchase it at a local, independent retailer–and I am very fortunate to be able to do so. Obviously, many people do not have that choice and everyone’s gotta make their own decisions on this kind of thing.

        Once again, I will mention a good online source for new and used books:

  6. Wukchumni

    The Untreatable

    “The flu wasn’t Spanish at all. The name stuck when in May 1918 the Spanish king, the prime minister and his entire cabinet all came down with it. In Madrid, it was known as the Naples Soldier after a catchy tune then in circulation, while French military doctors called it Disease 11. In Senegal it was Brazilian flu; in Brazil it was German flu. Poles called it the Bolshevik Disease and the Persians thought the British were responsible.”

    What a great article written from a doctor’s perspective of what went down, and why?

    And as usual, it was some other nation’s fault, usually.

    We’re finally over our 3 week lingering bouts with a cold-the longest lasting one either of us has ever encountered, which weakened us so in the midst of, that I doubt that I could’ve walked more than say a few miles, our energy level running on lethargic. Were this bad boy of a flu making the rounds to catch on so soon after, I wonder what would become of us?

    1. The Rev Kev

      You should read the accounts written at the time. It was a holy terror going around. When the flu first appeared at Fort Riley in Kansas and was knocking down soldier recruits by the hundred, a top team of doctors was sent to the camp to investigate. For then it was like a horror show and they had not a clue as to what was happening – real “Andromeda Strain” sort of stuff. There was nothing in science that provided an answer to what was going on. I always thought that it would make a great film but when the flu was over, it was like people agreed not to talk about it. One of those doctors barely even mentioned it in his autobiography and the flu pandemic was never taught in the medical history classes. Weird.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I should have included one other fact to the story of what happened when those doctors went to Fort Riley. What has happening to the bodies of those young soldiers was catastrophic as they lay dying but when they died, it was found to be almost no longer possible to tell the difference between the bodies of the white soldiers and the bodies of the black soldiers. Think about the implications of that little factoid.

  7. The Rev Kev

    7 Ways To Support The Women’s March 2018 If You’re Not Able To Go In Person

    Yeah, Nevada voted for Clinton and so could be seen as friendly territory, that is, until you go into what actually happened. Remember Nevada’s State Democratic Party Convention in Las Vegas which was hijacked by the Democrats to give support to Clinton and away from Sanders ( This was the one where Sanders supporters were accused of throwing chairs in rage which the media picked up and ran with even though it never happened.
    The article itself is weird. The first two paragraphs are about the march but the rest of it is getting people to buy $25 t-shirts, donate to this mob or that, buy their book or go on social media. The only concrete aim is to register new voters but that is it. If they said that the aim of the march is not to have a reunion of the march a year ago but to demand equal pay and treatment for all women regardless of class or colour, I would say more power to them but this event almost sounds pointless. Just my impression, mind you, but there it is.

    1. Wukchumni

      The concept of marching down the Vegas strip with pink pussy hats affixed-as gamblers ply their trait inside casinos, is a far cry from the women’s march on Versailles in 1789…

      “The march began among women in the marketplaces of Paris who, on the morning of 5 October 1789, were near rioting over the high price and scarcity of bread. Their demonstrations quickly became intertwined with the activities of revolutionaries, who were seeking liberal political reforms and a constitutional monarchy for France. The market women and their various allies grew into a mob of thousands. Encouraged by revolutionary agitators, they ransacked the city armory for weapons and marched to the Palace of Versailles. The crowd besieged the palace, and in a dramatic and violent confrontation, they successfully pressed their demands upon King Louis XVI. The next day, the crowd compelled the king, his family, and most of the French Assembly to return with them to Paris.

      These events ended the king’s independence and signified the change of power and reforms about to overtake France.”

    2. Arizona Slim

      I haven’t heard anything about a women’s march 2.0 in Tucson. Not even on Faceborg.

      I didn’t attend last year’s march but saw videos of it. Looking like a networking event for women from the Foothills.

      For those who are not familiar with the Tucson area, the Foothills are like Beverly Hills.

      1. Jean

        Don’t you just love all these women sporting their expensive custom made pussyhats, flying business class to the march site staying at the best hotels and eating at the hippest local restaurants, all to show their performative support for working class womyn and girls everywhere?

    3. marym

      Philadelphia magazine:

      Activists Call for Boycott of Philly Women’s March Over “Collaboration” With Police

      On Tuesday night, a Facebook post began to circulate calling for a boycott of Saturday’s Women’s March on Philadelphia over concerns about increased police surveillance and security measures that could potentially affect women of color.

      The post criticizes the security details announced on the march’s Facebook event page and argues that the measures are “putting those already targeted by law enforcement at an even greater risk”:

      “Only a group of white and/or class privileged women could have thought such a thing was a good idea, but it goes to show that the status quo works for them (minus a few minor inconveniences such as Trump) way more than it works for the women who will be most impacted by their working with the Philadelphia Police,” added Deandra, a member of the coalition [Philadelphia Coalition for Racial Economic and Legal Justice] who does public relations for them.

    4. Elizabeth Burton

      … this event almost sounds pointless.

      There are those among us who would reply “No more pointless than the first one” with varying levels of sarcasm. Because, other than getting a whole lot of mostly women out in the cold wearing pink hats, what concrete and useful result did that one engender? Other than making a whole lot of upper middle class types feel better?

      Resistance theater, IMNSHO. Another opportunity for the GOP Lite party to get a lot of cooperative media coverage to persuade the brainwashed it’s actually doing something constructive.

      1. Adrienne

        Apparently a number of the women’s marches are discouraging the pink pu**y hats on the grounds that they are discriminatory to WOC (aren’t we all pink on the inside?) and transwomen (who feel offended/hurt/excluded because they don’t have vaginas). I’m leaning farther every day to the notion that identity politics are destroying social liberalism from within. Sheesh.

        1. Anonymous

          That hats!?!? Have we lost our minds?!? What happened to basic self-respect???

          I think the hats are a psyop to make women look dumb. I can imagine Trump and his cronies sitting around laughing about how they’re going to get the marchers to do something so stupid.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, I noticed the very first way to “resist” was to purchase swag.

      At the national level — stressing that locally, things may be different — it looks to me like the Women’s March was decapitated by the Democrats even faster than Black Lives Matter. (If — again, at the national level — it was anything other than a Democrat front to begin with; the membership director, IIRC, worked for the Clinton campaign.)

      Anybody know if there were scholarships for the cost of flights to Vegas and the hotel?*

      Adding NOTE * lol no

  8. Kevin

    Class Warfare:

    Walmart: We know what Walmart did to small town America.

    I have a sneaking suspicion Amazon is the next and even bigger wave to wash out the remaining small businesses/jobs that are left standing. Our desire for ever cheaper and faster delivered chochkies is cutting out feet from under us. Be careful what you wish for…

    Am I being paranoid?

      1. integer

        Nina Illingworth recently accused Caitlin Johnstone of plagiarizing her work, and then refused to provide any evidence. Hard for me to take her (Illingworth) seriously after that episode.

        1. Hunter Prado

          Well, I guess that settles it. Bezos is a jolly peach and Amazon is absolutely not Walmart on steroids for small American towns. Forget I mentioned anything.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I don’t really think Amazon represents such a big threat to small shops and businesses, nowhere near the threat represented by big box retailers. Its the big companies that are most at risk from Amazon because of their advantages with cost and convenience.

      There are lots of limitations set by a need to deliver goods – only certain goods are suitable because of size, weight, value, perishability, safety, etc. Even those sectors most obviously threatened by Amazon – such as hardware, bookstores, bike shops, sports shops – seem to have come to a sort of equilibrium, finding niches where customers prefer the human touch, or just the ability to see the product they are buying first.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        Given the number of successful independent bookstores has been increasing steadily since 2009, a fact which for some reason very rarely gets brought to the attention of the public, I’m inclined to agree. There’s a very good reason Walmart is spending big bucks to expand itself online, including buying the grocery delivery service Jet last year.

    2. rd

      Walmart brought scale and very efficient supply chains to retailing in small-town America. Amazon is largely more of same.

      If local stores were able to figure out a business model that survived Wal-Mart, they stand a good chance of surviving Amazon. I think people value local businesses if they are run well and provide good service. A large nation-wide impersonal low-cost store is not really perceived as a local business, so a Wal-Mart and Target are more likely to be killed than a local mom-and-pop business that is still doing well.

      BTW – it will not surprise me if Amazon links up with these mom-and-pop businesses down the road to provide same day pick-up or delivery of items they have in stock that local consumers could find on-line at Amazon.

      1. Anon

        They already do connect with smaller vendors. Much of what is available on Amazon is not in their warehouses, but shipped by other businesses (from their inventory).

      2. ebbflows

        Wal-Mart was the proto Uber, it utilized disruption, price setting via market share dominance whilst playing states and counties off each other for tax arb – deferred tax that never was honored, not to mention the endless subsidies and environmental breaches.

        Much of which was driven by share price dynamics.

      1. Kevin

        It’s the fundamental shift in our attitude toward shopping at the heart of it.

        Shopping is no longer an experience (i.e. malls) – it is now a necessary evil that must be accomplished with minimal effort.

        1. CanCyn

          Maybe we’ll soon take the next step and decide that for the most part, shopping is an unnecessary evil! I was never a shopper for entertainment and like Carla earlier in this thread, I avoid Amazon. At least I try, I can’t say that I never use them, but it is rare nowadays. I try to assess my need and find what I’m looking for somewhere local – to the point of compromise. Good enough and local is a win.
          This year’s project is learning to sew – so that I can mend, update, and make clothes myself. I’m finding fabric shopping to be an interesting experience – I get blank looks when I inquire about origins and manufacturing standards of fabric …anyone have any tips for sourcing sustainably and environmentally friendly fabrics and/or ‘good’ companies/stores to purchase from? NB – I’m in Ontario, Canada.

          1. Kevin

            You’re in Ontario, Canada – and I am jealous (worked there for 8 glorious years, brought back a wife as a souvenir!)

            I heard a rather odd statement on the radio the other day, stating that in order for an American to move to Canada, he/she must have $250,000, among other things…?

        2. Kevin

          probably in no small part due to our having less and less leisure time…nose to the grindstone and all.

    3. Wukchumni

      Why is it always Wal*Mart being the bad boy of big boxes and never Target?

      I shop @ both, and they offer the same assortment of made in China goods, the only difference being the clientele really.

      1. Yves Smith

        Target has been marginally better about increasing wages and to my knowledge has not been sued as Walmart has for company-wide efforts to steal worker wages, like requiring them to work off the clock. I also don’t think Target drives local businesses out of business to the same degree that Walmart does, nor does it get the same level of concessions when opening a new store (as is able to squeeze locals for tax breaks).

        1. Wukchumni

          I think the main difference is you are much more likely to see a Wal*Mart in an area where Target shoppers wouldn’t stoop to tread.

        2. ArcadiaMommy

          Walmart employees seem extremely frazzled, glum and beaten down to me (not blaming them, it sounds like a miserable place to work). If you need help finding something forget it, and the stores are full of empty shelves and horribly organized. Target workers are generally pleasant and there is a decent chance someone will help you at Target. I would guess that is because they are treated better.

          As a side anecdote my father (police officer) came across a Walmart where they had locked the employees in the store in the middle of the night with chains and padlocks. He got ahold of the manager and made them open the doors and told them if he ever caught them doing that again he would arrest whoever was in charge. He gave his business cards to the workers there and told them to call him if that ever happened again.

          1. Wukchumni

            I dunno, was at the Wal*Mart in the Big Smoke the other day and the shelves were chock a block full of goods, and had a pleasant conversation with the checker, who was far from glum.

            Target does have that intoxicating smell of popcorn off to the side as you enter the store, while Wal*Mart only has a Mickey D’s, as enticement, so there’s that.

            1. Liberal Mole

              I expect every Walmart is different. In Texas the Walmart I went to was nice, big and well stocked. (In Corpus Christi there are no supermarkets other than Walmart, or any that don’t have bars across their windows.) Our local Walmart north of NYC is a cess pit where ugly, cheap things come to die in disorganized piles. While I haven’t been to a Target that wasn’t decently clean and well kept, with knockoff stylish goods. The Waltons’ motto should be “Walmart — too cheap to even steal hipster ideas.”

          2. cripes


            “Walmart…locked the employees in the store in the middle of the night with chains and padlocks.
            (A police officer) made them open the doors and told them if he ever caught them doing that again he would arrest whoever was in charge.”

            So they committed felonies and the police did nothing? Would he do that if you held people prisoner with chains and padlocks? “First crime no time!” Criminals will move there just for the free passes.

            I’m not impressed.

            1. jrs

              yes seems what was done was enough to punish right there, slap on the wrist for SLAVERY, and that is slavery at that point, not just bad worker treatment, when you have to lock people up it’s not even just capitalist exploitation, it’s slavery. Not good enough.

    4. Brian

      No, you are being watchful. I have been advised by dozens of people that products are available on Amazon for less than what it costs many dealers. This makes it unaffordable for the business to purchase such products, because there is either zero or a negative margin. In some circumstances, products strictly controlled by dealer agreements show up on Amazon when it would be a violation of that agreement.
      Perhaps the corporation is evil, the goal destructive, the end result a collapse of small businesses. As we know, there is no “perhaps”. Walmart did it in the 90’s.

    5. jrs

      no but possibly not seeing all possibilities. If not Amazon other online retailers will. Amazon is not that cheap to compete with the cheapest of the cheap in goods. It might not be Amazon, it might not be today’s giant, but tomorrows. There are definitely openings.

  9. PlutoniumKun

    The Turks seem to have started an assault on Afrin as of today.

    Yesterday, Moon of Alabama wrote on this, saying that it won’t happen, and outlining the reasons why.

    Assuming MoA is right that its a stupid and dangerous idea of the Turks, this leads to one of two conclusions:

    1. Erdogan has completely lost his marbles.
    2. The Turkish ‘assault’ will be just shelling, they will refrain from actually putting boots on the ground.

    If its no.1, then this is very dangerous, especially for the Turks. This is YPG territory, ideal for defence, and they have proven very good at fighting, and they have very good equipment. And the YPG are both aided by the US, but also increasingly on good terms with Assad and the Russians. It would be very unlikely I think that Putin or Assad or, for that matter, Trump, has given their nod to the Turks to do this.

    1. Dr. Roberts

      It actually seems like #1 to me, and that Russia has greenlighted it. I agree that the Turks are in for an unpleasant surprise, especially with all the political purging their officer coprs has undergone. There’s been embarassingly little news coverage about this attack. I was looking for information last night and the only non-Turkish sources I could find were PressTV, RT, and AlJazeera. The Turkish media was showing a graphic with a Tank with Turkish flag cutting south of the province to encircle it and the presenter was pointing to several spots along the borders of Afrin. Unfortunately I don’t speak any Turkish, but it reminded me a bit of the coverage of the Iraq invasion in 2003.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Why do you think the Russians would have green lighted it? I would have thought it was not in their interest, they seem to have been pushing Assad hard to come to an agreement with the Kurds. The only motivation I could see for Putin to have done it is to provoke the Kurds into rejecting the US, but given the splits within the Kurds (they are in reality at least four different peoples, just united by a vague linguistic relationship), this would seem an uncharacteristically dangerous game to play for Putin. I don’t see why he would agree to such a dangerous move when everything is already going to plan so well for the Russians.

    2. Sid Finster

      The Iraq War was stupid and dangerous, every prediction the naysayers made came to pass and none of the neocons sunny assessments in fact took place.

      Not only did the Iraq War go ahead, not only did the neocons pay no price, either personally or professionally, but they went on to repeat their bravura performance on Libya, Syria, Niget, Yemen, Somalia, etc..

  10. Tom Stone

    I see that the National Rifle Association has been linked to Putin’s hacking of the 2016 election…
    Traitors and Communists are EVERYWHERE!!
    Be vigilant and if you see something, say something.

    1. rd

      This is a significant problem with single issue politics: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

      It would be ironic if the NRA turned out to be an unwitting pawn of the Russians.

  11. The Rev Kev

    Fellas, this is what consent looks like

    I don’t see a problem with what Corey Robbin wrote. All it takes is for a guy to know exactly what is going on in a woman’s mind so that he can respond appropriately. How hard can that be? Seriously, this whole #MeToo thing is being used by people who have their own agenda and as a weapon by them. If we are not careful, we may end up with a formalization of even casual relationships that will suck the spontaneity right out of it.
    Where could it potentially lead us? There was a 1980s film called “Cherry 2000” which, as it happened, was set in the future year of 2017. There was a hookup bar scene in it that I wondered at the time whether it would prove prophetic. Check out the scene at and you will understand why the hero had chosen to have a gynoid girlfriend instead.

    1. Robert McGregor

      @The Rev Kev, Thx for the “Cherry 2000” link. Very amusing! With “online dating,” we are halfway there. You look at so many profiles, and parse so much “data,” and the texting, emailing, and appointment scheduling is so involved, that you might as well be drafting a 20-page sex “contract.”

    2. Mrs Smith

      There’s no need to be psychic, you just have to ask and actually respect the boundary of no. Spontaneity is not a problem, because both parties are actively participating and consenting happens on an ongoing basis. Things go no further when someone says no. How hard can that be?

      #metoo is not an “agenda” and is only a weapon in terms of bringing to light the millions of women and men who have been assaulted or harassed; strength in numbers. Women aren’t advocating formalised (legal/contractual) consent, just ongoing consent, which is why the idea of blockchain consent is pointless, and frankly ridiculous.

      For men who don’t understand this, then sex bots are probably a good investment. Just remember that when your AI sexbot becomes sentient, then they will probably withdraw consent as well.

      1. integer

        I don’t think anyone here disagrees with your first paragraph. I also don’t think that agreeing with the content of that paragraph is mutually exclusive with agreeing with the point Kev is making. YMMV.

      2. a different chris

        Yes for sure, but — and you knew that a “but” was coming – (and I can barely stomach the thing, so have only skimmed and may be a bit off here.)

        There needs to be a little understanding in the other direction, too. She was performing an actual sex act on him. She decided she wasn’t into it. Fine, but at that point, she needs to call a cab and leave, giving him space to, um, attend to himself. It isn’t like they were watching football, she decided she wasn’t into it and they switched to “her” show, and he was sitting there a bit irritated.

        She uncorked an overwhelming wave of body chemistry, and needed to (family blog) or get off the couch at that point. When you have one h(family blog)y person and one not h(family blog)y, and person #2 was pretty complicit in putting person #1 in that state, then #2 needs and #1 deserves a better strategy than just expecting things to go on like nothing happened.

        1. Adrienne

          Apparently many males of the species are very concerned that if they become aroused and are unable to consummate, that something terrible will happen to them. But ya know what, guys? Nothing bad will happen. No, really! It’ll go away all on its own, no permanent damage will occur.

          Most men grow out of this irrational fear by about age twenty-five, but unfortunately a few carry this notion well into adulthood, and so cannot fathom why women do not feel that meeting their immediate need is the most important thing in the universe.

          People are into stuff, and then maybe they’re not. Consent is about making sure that no one is feeling pressure to do something they don’t want to do, and that people are allowed to change their minds.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Apparently many males of the species are very concerned that if they become aroused and are unable to consummate, that something terrible will happen to them

            For real? You’re kidding. I’ve never heard of such a thing. I must have led a sheltered life!

          2. witters

            “Consent is about making sure that no one is feeling pressure to do something they don’t want to do, and that people are allowed to change their minds.”


            Imagine I ask: “Like an ice cream?” Consent is “Yes”. It is not: “Like an ice cream? No pressure! Really! Entirely up to you! You can say ‘yes’ and then you can say ‘no’ if you want! And vice-versa. Really! No pressure! As I said, entirely up to – Hell! It’s melted!”

            1. Adrienne


              The ice cream analogy is specious. So, once a person consents to engaging in sex with another person, that means that consent is assumed from there on out? Anything goes, once the “ice cream” is chosen? Sorry, no dice… “you said yes twenty minutes ago so you can’t change your mind now” is right up there with “I bought you diner so you owe me sex” and “you got me aroused so now you have to follow through” as attitudes that, if not directly sexual harassment and/or rape, are right on the road towards.

              See, if we’re actually treating women as human beings, we have to allow that no one is “entitled” to sex. Sex that is not freely engaged in by both parties is, by definition, non-consensual. Once begun, the sexual encounter isn’t a free pass to whatever. It’s not a contract that cannot be broken. However, women are strongly socialized to ignore their gut feelings and continue to engage in sexual activity even if they are feeling uncomfortable, unsafe, or simply just not really into the guy once things get rolling.

              That pressure to continue even when a woman doesn’t want to, because “you said yes twenty minutes ago” is pure rape culture. If y’all don’t see that then you’re part of the problem.

                1. JTFaraday

                  So, you agree to start having sex with someone and then they pin you down and start choking you. Just keep going?

                  Okay, so suppose they’re not literally choking you with their hands literally around your throat and all, but you feel like you’re suffocating anyway. Why is this so hard for you to imagine?

                  Yes, you can withdraw consent. Sorry, buddy.

          3. Oregoncharles

            Trying to discuss a complex emotional event in the abstract is going to be pretty fruitless. That said, I think there are two parts to this:

            1) You have an absolute right to change your mind and call it off. So does he – a thought experiment worth running. I actually did this once (by accident, but that’s how she saw it); she wouldn’t speak to me in the morning. Yes, we were both staying in the same house.

            2) But it’s rude. He doesn’t have to ask you out again, and he probably won’t, if you’re concerned about that.

            3) It’s even ruder to hang around afterwards, rubbing it in, assuming that leaving is an option, as it evidently was.

            It’s actually possible for a situation like that to be physically uncomfortable; it is for women, too. But no, men have no such superstition; it’s just that changing your mind in the middle of a social interaction is always rude, unless something intervened.

            Is that even what happened? I read the event as her being of two minds throughout; she didn’t change her mind, she never decided. I agree that he should have backed off; I also think she shouldn’t have played along as she did. Was she influenced by the fact that he’s a star, a celebrity? Apparently she went out of her way to get him to ask her out.

            And that’s why a discussion in the abstract is pretty fruitless: these situations are messy, especially when they don’t go well.

            The only rule we have, really, is trying to be considerate without being victims. I think they both failed at that.

            And from “Let’s be Honest about Aziz Ansari”, linked above: “Consider that if men publicly shared details about bad sexual experiences with women, we would call them misogynist monsters.”

            I’m left with a dark suspicion that they deserved each other.

              1. Adrienne

                Afterthought: We’ve come a long, long way here from harassment in the workplace.

                Not really.

                What commentators here are missing is the feminist perspective, which is that in a patriarchal society there is a unequal power dynamic based on biological sex. As I pointed out above, females are socialized from Day 1 to acquiesce to male desire and power. That’s as true on a date as it is in the workplace.

                The commentators here express bewilderment about why a woman would go on a date with a man, go back to his apartment, and then become very uneasy when things are going too fast. “Well, you went on a date with me, drank some wine with me, agreed to end the date quickly so we could go back to my place, let me undress and fondle you, and THEN you say no????”

                Based on the comments on this topic so far, I’m afraid I’ll have to explain it to you like y’all are a box of rocks:

                Men have power over women. Women are socialized to acquiesce to that power. Girls and women are socialized to be agreeable, passive, and “nice.” Girls and women are strongly discouraged from saying “no” to males. Girls and women are socialized to look “pretty,” to talk softly and agreeably, to cater to the “male gaze.”

                Within this context of female socialization, females must rely heavily on social (nonverbal) cues in order to express their feelings about a particular situation. Guys, on the other hand, are socialized to ignore these social cues if they choose to.

                Example from the workplace: Male coworker has a habit of putting his hand on a female co-worker’s arm. Seems innocuous, right? But it is in fact a gesture of privilege, of power. “I can touch you when I feel like it.” If the woman is uncomfortable with this arm-touching, she only has three choices: 1) put up with it and not react in any way; 2) physically move back or move her arm from under the man’s hand; or 3) say something like “your hand is making me uncomfortable, please remove it.” Women are trained that 1) is the preferred reaction [suck it up, baby]; 2) can elicit a negative, non-verbal reaction such as more touching [I’ll show, you, b****]; and 3) will definitely elicit a negative reaction, probably a defensive one: “hey I didn’t mean anything by it! [don’t challenge my power over you, b****]”

                Women understand that in the workplace, the arm-touching can often be a test of the woman’s sense of her own self-worth: she cannot be seen as either too passive or too aggressive. If she wishes to be promoted within the organization, or at the very least not have the harassment escalate, she needs to navigate this minefield on a daily basis.

                Example from a date: Woman agrees to go on a date with a guy. They go out to a restaurant. She likes him, is having a good time, but he seems really anxious to finish dinner and go back to his apartment. Woman may very well be interested in having sex with this guy so she goes along.

                Back at the apartment, things start moving very quickly. Instead of sitting on the couch, having another glass of wine, talking and getting to know one another better (something women actually enjoy), the guy gets aggressively grabby. Rather than shut the whole thing down by saying “hey buddy, knock it off!” she will instead resort to social (non-verbal) communication. Maybe squirming a bit from his grasp, moving to the side, pulling down the hem of her skit or blouse, moving his hand from her breast… all not-so-subtle clues that she is interested, but not at this pace or in this fashion.

                A considerate man will acknowledge these clues and back off, (and hopefully) ask for explicit consent. The guy is completely aware of the social clues, because he has seen these clues his whole life and understands what they mean. He simply chooses not to acknowledge the non-verbal communication and instead continues to engage in actions that he know is making the woman uncomfortable or even unsafe.

                This, gentlemen, is Rape Culture. Get it yet?

                1. Oregoncharles

                  I agree that Ansari (as far as we can tell) was insensitive and too pushy – as I said.

                  However, there’s a problem with ” Women are socialized to acquiesce to that power. Girls and women are socialized to be agreeable, passive, and “nice.” ” That may be true, but it isn’t feminism; it’s making excuses. I go back to the beginning of Women’s Liberation; it was clear from the start that equality meant women overcoming that socialization. Equality doesn’t come free – not for men, either. If you make excuses for someone like “Grace” not asserting herself when she needed to, you perpetuate the problem.

                  Furthermore, in my now long experience, it isn’t even true. I made plenty of klutzy advances in my day, and found that women had no trouble at all saying no and making it stick. (Well, a couple of exceptions, who agreed to a date and then stood me up. I guess it’s a clear message.) You fail to give them credit. Communications sometimes failed in other ways, but not that one. That’s why I think she never made up her mind. He should have picked up on that and backed off, as apparently he eventually did.

                  Sex and courtship should be a joint effort; even the failures tend to involve both parties.

                  And a side note: women can be impatient, too. At least one very promising encounter – a rare instance of mutual “love at first sight” – fell through because, apparently, I wasn’t moving as quickly as she expected; so she went next door, was chatting with the guy there. When I appeared, she gave me a look, which is clear enough in hindsight, FWIW. But at that point, I was confused. I did not respond well to playing hard to get. So I left, and shortly after she left town. Sad, really.

                  Sometimes, you can’t win.

          4. a different chris

            Adrienne, you are like a human diode. Am I not clear? Hasn’t any of the other (better) commenters on this thread been clear? I said he needed to be given space to beat off. I tried to say it in a nice family bloggy way, but you are just armed with one point of view and nothing else, um, penetrates. So there it is.

            I’ve read way down this post, all your “replies”, and you are just no help to the real world at all, you know?

            >Consent is about making sure that no one is feeling pressure to do something they don’t want to do

            Sounds to me like he was pressured into, by the Adriennes of the world, to sit there and try to watch TV when he really wanted to jack off. She needed to leave. That’s all she had to do, but it was also the minimum.

      3. Mo's Bike Shop

        Add #Ihavesignedanotorizedaffidavitandsubmittedittotherelevantauthorities to the movement’s tags, and I won’t see #metoo as a weapon.

        Anonymous accusers with no chance of cross examination have a poor history of getting us anywhere good.

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        > both parties are actively participating and consenting happens on an ongoing basis. Things go no further when someone says no.

        Please reread the quoted passage on “what consent looks like”:

        I asked him with my eyes to ask again

        So matters in the wild are a bit more complex than the 50’s-style stately progress of “first base” to “second base” to “third base” to “home”, with consent conceptualized as being both explicit and verbal.

    3. David

      I presume everyone (including Robin) realizes that this is the last paragraph of Joyce’s Ulysees where Molly, falling asleep, is reliving her afternoon adventures with her habitual lover Buck Mullligan. Several generations of critics, and millions of readers, have interpreted “yes” – one of the most famous endings of any novel in English – as meaning “yes please, more, more!” But of course in a heavily patriarchal society such as Dublin in 1906, how can we ever be sure people mean what they say ….

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I did. Ulysses is great. For any remaining English majors out there, try Hugh Kenner’s Ulysses as an entry point. Superb literary criticism.

          Finnegan’s Wake, on the other hand….

          1. McKillop

            The man took years to write his novels and stories. His works deserve an honest effort.
            Not reading the book is akin to walking out of a performance of music because of boredom or refusing to learn basic scientific principles.

            1. Plenue

              Uh, no, it;’s the creators job to make something that isn’t boring. Why should I waste my damn time on something that is tedious?

      1. Paul Boisvert

        While the entire soliloquy by Molly does include thoughts of her assignation with Blazes Boylan, her lover of that afternoon, the very last lines quoted here by Robin are not about Boylan, but about her first “loving/sexual” encounter long ago with her soon-to-be husband Leopold Bloom, who is currently sleeping next to her. Robin’s point is that this is completely in the (positive, common sense) spirit of #meToo, as Molly actually says out loud ‘yes’, 3 times, in addition to communicating the same sentiment with her eyes, and arms (pulling him down onto her).

        That is, consent is (very basic) rocket science: If the eyes and arms and lips agree, we have liftoff, Houston…

        1. Hobbs

          Thanks, Paul. I was just about to write a similar reply. Stately, plump Buck Mulligan is Stephen Dedalus’s roommate, not Molly Bloom’s lover. And yes, the “yes” (ironically rewritten by Jean Rhys in Good Morning, Midnight) is here a memory of making love with Leopold.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          Yes. And the problem of the book is that Bloom (following the death of their son) is not sleeping with her. He is not saying “yes” to her; hence Boylan, and their mutual collusion re: Boylan.

          (Molly, if the passage doesn’t make this clear, doesn’t lack for sexual confidence, or agency generally.)

          Adding, because of Joyce’s eccentric style of punctuation (no quotes) we cannot be 100% sure when “yes” is in Molly’s mind, said with her eyes, or spoken. (“I said yes” — not “I said ‘yes'” — is clearly spoken, but that is the only clear case i the quote given.) Which meshes rather neatly with the themes about discerning consent on this thread, come to think of it.

      2. McKillop

        Molly Bloom was the fictional creation of James Joyce -a man whose imagination created all of Molly’s thought, including her soliloquy. Did any man ever understand a woman’s thoughts concerning consent? The consent that Corey Robin schools us to believe, in other words, is no more than a male’s fancy of what consent is to a woman remembering passionate acceptance and the embrace of a man.
        David, I think that you may have misidentified Molly’s lover, I thought that it was Hugh Boylan -Blazes. I also thought that Molly was remembering her initial passion for Leopold, before their alienation. But it’s been a while since I read the book and saw the movie.
        I also wondered why the lesson presented by Mr. Booker did not credit Joyce’s genius. The thoughts may have been composed by a male but certainly passed a genuine.

        1. jrs

          thanks for pointing out it is a man’s imagination of a women’s experience not even a single women’s actual experience, not even a woman’s imagination of a woman’s experience. It’s fiction and one can play with it, and that’s fine, as long as one knows it’s fiction.

    4. RUKidding

      this whole #MeToo thing is being used by people who have their own agenda and as a weapon by them

      Unfortunate, from my perspective, that you see it this way. Sexual harrasment and violence happens every day in the workplace, at home, at church, at meetings, etc. A lot of people have experienced it, along with either not being heard when it happens or being ostracized or experiencing retaliation or worse when seeking help and redress.

      Maybe the #MeToo response could be refined and improved on, but I certainly I don’t see it as a weapon. I can only encourage you to possibly reconsider your viewpoint and perhaps listen to some of your friends or relatives who may have experienced unwanted harassament or violation to develop some empathy.

      1. Wukchumni

        Zinke and his merry band of miscreants in the DOI accused the NPS volunteer advisory group that resigned en masse the other day, of turning a blind eye on sexual harassment, even though they aren’t employees of the NPS, let alone managers.

        James Watt seems more like a saint in comparison, with every passing day.

      2. David Richard

        Remember how white supremacy wasn’t an issue in the US until Trump came into power? OK it was an issue before Trump came into power, but the tenor of our umbrage against white supremacists is different now. It’s not umbrage anymore, now it’s outrage, emotions are heightened. After Trump, we had to deal more seriously with these “evil doers” apparently.

        In what ways I’m not sure. Do we rid the landscape of them, like we wish upon the “evil doers” in the Middle East? Evil doers in the ME weren’t really on our radar until 911. And remember how that got used: Bush and Cheney said we had to look at Iraq through the “lens of 911”. A song and a dance and we were seduced into regime change there. The “evil doers” were simply fodder for that campaign.

        So forgive me if I’m being too cynical, but Trump seems to be our 911 moment for the re-interpreting of the “evil doers” in our midst. To add fuel to fires that were already there, to heighten emotions. Again, it’s not like white supremacy is anything new. Nor is sexual predation/trespassing. Was anybody standing up for those “evil doers” before Trump? No. Did we have governance (processes and procedures) for dealing with them. Yes. Were they always effective? No.

        Is the new scrutiny of white supremacy and sexual predation/trespassing a desire for better governance? Perhaps. But if that’s the desire, I don’t see any movements in that direction. And admittedly that would be difficult too, if the landscape is still like the wild west. For instance, it’s not like better governance would really change the playing field with respect to “evil doers” in the ME. So what would really change the playing field with respect to those “evil doers” in the ME? Some options I can think of:
        – you take them off the playing field (we’ve done this in the ME)
        – you get them corralled under an authority who can govern them the way you want them to be governed (we’ve done this too). [Of course in Libya, we did the opposite, but I digress.]
        – you have some sort of “coming to Jesus”/Truth and Reconciliation with them (we haven’t done this)

        Which option does the metoo movement want? The metoo movement is getting everybody riled up. We’re all now waiting to see how they want to execute their plans.

        If we don’t hear any plans, then my conclusion is that the desire is to simply keep the topic in the press as long as possible. In which case, I’m assuming this is all really a play for regime change of Trump. The tell will be what happens after Trump is regime changed (assuming that happens). Will this all become “nevermind” (turns out the governance we already had was good enough)? Or will it be sustained beyond the Trump regime?

        1. Oregoncharles

          “We’re all now waiting to see how they want to execute their plans.” What plans? There is no organization. That isn’t even a criticism; none was intended. It’s easy to mock the movie stars, but they did at least put together an organization to try to do some good.

          The logical consequence would be beefing up the laws on workplace harassment, and especially enforcement. With show business in mind, it should specifically include contractors; it doesn’t now. I don’t think that will happen under the Trump administration, and I”m not sure even with a Democrat.

          In the meantime, “Time’s Up” is a working model: put together a fund and sue the bastards. And this could be a really good organizing issue for the unions.

      3. The Rev Kev

        Any popular movement has in it the inherit danger of being taken over by a small cabal which will seek to use that movement for its own gains and purposes. We all saw that with the women’s march after Trump got in. Something that could have evolved into a major political movement and that now has all the relevancy of the scream-at-the-sky protest.
        Is there a place for #MeToo? Absolutely! Some of the things that you hear about Silicon Valley, for example, about men harassing and mauling women in the workplace is beyond belief. These are grown men – not frat boys at their first keg party. Some of the stuff described verges on attempted rape. But when you have some men and women express doubts about the way that this movement is going – only to be unloaded on like a ton of bricks, then you should take that as a warning sign.
        #MeToo should not be an end but something that is used where you have people being forced to go on trial for their acts under a justice system – not an end in itself to try people by social media. It should be used to clear the air and to say that things like this can be talked about in the open. Personally, I regret to say that in about two years time that the #MeToo movement will have faded into obscurity from what I can see.

        1. Oregoncharles

          ” not frat boys at their first keg party” – no, that’s exactly what they are, only they didn’t get to do that stuff when they were in college.

    5. adrena

      “Beyond consenting, women actually want to enjoy sex”

      By Marina Adshade and Neil McArthur
      Globe & Mail

      1. Plenue

        “Economist Marina Adshade is the author of The Love Market: What You Need To Know About How We Date, Mate and Marry.”

        Isn’t this one of the essences of neoliberalism? Make everything a ‘market’.

        1. adrena

          “What if, instead of treating a woman like a passive player capable of merely granting a yes or no, men focused on her pleasure?”

          You got a problem with this?

            1. adrena

              You didn’t say anything about the article.

              You chose to talk about a book written 5 years ago by one of its authors.

              I chose to refocus.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Read that sentence again, very carefully. What is SHE supposed to be doing? And isn’t this asking someone else to solve your problems?

            That said: Yes, that’s what it’s about. If he doesn’t do that, especially if you make clear what you want (men aren’t good at reading minds – beware of the ones that are), dump him. You just learned something.

            1. adrena

              You and Lambert raised this and that – all valid, but here’s the thing:

              The “metoo” movement has opened wide the complete dysfunction of current gender relations. Yet, instead of using this phenomenon as a launching pad to invoke real change, naked capitalism has resorted to condemning the movement outright and is engaging in vicious and venomous attacks on the opposite sex by both men and women. This is not how you change the world folks. Capitalism feeds on gender wars.

              I agree with Yves about men being thrown under the bus for what appear to be minor sexual infractions. And this is wrong. But at the same time, the “metoo” movement has uncovered some very serious sexual assaults. One can criticize a movement without dismissing it altogether.

              The question we need to ask is how are we going to move forward. Let’s leave the hurt, the disappointments and the misunderstandings behind and seek a rapprochement based on mutual respect and on our desire to love and not hate each another.

              The bedroom appears to be the principal battlefield. As it stands now, major confusion prevails. Men don’t know what behavior is acceptable anymore and women don’t know what they are allowed to want anymore. It’s a schism between two vastly different sexualities. (These are unnatural differences imposed on us by the culture we live in). Skillful navigation is required to bring these two opposites back into alignment.

              So how do we do this? By talking and asking questions. Embark on this journey together. However, for men it may feel like an investigative journey since some women may not know what they want. But don’t give up. Keep digging and keep making her feel you cherish nothing more than her sexual satisfaction.

              If the journey is successful, everyone benefits.

              I have fond memories of a beautiful relationship I had with a man. I will never forget his gift for creating pure ecstasy in the bedroom, so much so that I created ecstasy for him in return.

              But let’s get a conversation going. I’ve always been curious about this. So, here’s my question:

              What do men want?

              1. Oregoncharles

                Sorry, I’m a little late to this party, but I’ll try. I take it the echo of Freud’s famous question is intentional; but I’ll remind you that I can’t answer for anyone else. The truth is, it’s too late for me; I’m long since out of the game. My son isn’t, except that he’s given up. Seriously: it’s just more than he can handle. At this point, Ansari may feel the same way.

                What do men want? We want some love in our lives, and some sex, too. Some personal respect would be nice – hard to come by, sometimes. The rest, that’s apropos, is negative: no more games. No more guessing would be nice.

                All that isn’t so different. Sometimes we get lucky. But the games aren’t going to go away, because all courtship rituals are tests.

              2. Oregoncharles

                Further thought: I didn’t express my appreciation of this very constructive reply.

                I’m sorry it’s so far down the string, where it probably won’t get much of an answer. We’ll need to try again.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > “What if, instead of treating a woman like a passive player capable of merely granting a yes or no, men focused on her pleasure?”

            I’ve got no problem with that, but I notice it doesn’t entirely compatible with this view:

            both parties are actively participating and consenting happens on an ongoing basis. Things go no further when someone says no.

  12. JohnMinMN

    Regarding the Mpls meetup. If I can make it, I wonder if anyone would object if I were to bring some of my locally semi-famous homemade chocolate truffles to enjoy with our coffee?

  13. Wukchumni

    Yack it up, yack it up
    Buddy gonna shut you down

    It happened in DC where the divide is wide
    Two aged political parties standin’ side by side
    Yeah, the fuel injected Republicans and the Democrats in between
    They’re revvin’ up their rhetoric and it sounds real mean

    Yack it up, yack it up
    Buddy gonna shut you down

    Declinin’ approval numbers at an even rate
    On account of one, hostilities both accelerate
    The accusations are really startin’ to spin
    But the reality is they’re both diggin’ in

    Gotta be cool now power shift here we go

    Lots of umbrage from the donkey show
    But the fuel injected GOP’s really startin’ to go
    Not surprising they’re claiming the military needs more dough
    Relying on that killing machine too much you know

    Out on the floor hear the dual parties spin
    And now that government is startin’ to shrink in
    The donkey show’s hot with indignation but it’s understood
    The white elephant’s fuel injected engine is up to no good

    Shut it off, shut it off buddy now ideology shut you down
    Shut it off, shut it off buddy now ideology shut you down
    Shut it off, shut it off buddy now ideology shut you down
    Shut it off, shut it off buddy now ideology shut you down

  14. JCC

    The Price-Hound story very funny, even though a somewhat disturbing allegory. I got a kick out of the Medium tweet with the “126 minute Read” tag, not to mention the side tweets of Mr. William Price-Hound.

  15. fresno dan
    “Without being tremendously well organized, it can be easy to fail,” said Donald Moynihan, a professor of public affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who is writing a book on the effects of administrative burdens. Researchers have studied the ways complexity can reduce sign-ups for workplace pension plans, participation in food stamps and turnout in elections, he noted. “These sorts of little barriers are ways in which humans get tripped up all the time when they’re trying to do something that might benefit them.”
    The Kentucky program won’t just create a work requirement for some beneficiaries; it will set up a broader obstacle course of administrative rules. Many beneficiaries will be asked to pay monthly premiums to the state to retain their coverage, as little as $1 a month for some very poor families, who are unlikely to have bank accounts.

    They will be asked to notify Medicaid officials any time their income changes. Their benefits could rise or fall depending on whether they get an annual checkup, or take a financial literacy course. Beneficiaries who fail to renew their coverage promptly at the end of a year will be locked out for as long as six months. Beneficiaries who are “medically frail” can get an exemption from the work requirement, but they will need to submit a doctor’s note.
    So much for the party of less paperwork

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Having one’s benefits decline because of a small, one-off increase in income is SOP for the so-called “safety net” programs. Likewise having the proceeds from the sale of any asset being confiscated. So, if you can’t trade in your old rattletrap car for that desperately needed replacement, you’ll risk welfare fraud if you sell it to help pay for the new one. Or sell your wedding ring to pay for repairs.

      Those who have never had actual, personal contact with the “safety net” programs in their state might want to do a bit of research to discover just how they work. I suspect you’ll be surprised.

      1. Adrienne

        Absolutely. Both SSI and Medicaid requre the “beneficiary” to impoverish herself to the most extreme degree. Maximum $2,000 in assets for a single person. No savings, no investments, no property of any value. In most states they’ll put a lien on your house, so any heirs will end up with nothing. It’s permanent, abject poverty. If you don’t have friends or family or a supportive community to help out you’ll end up living under the freeway in no time. Safety net, my a**!

  16. Romancing The Loan

    Anyone have a link to an article on the FISA memo that isn’t just screencaps of people’s tweets?

    1. Jim Haygood

      Here is one:

      A four-page memo circulating in Congress that reveals alleged United States government surveillance abuses is being described by lawmakers as “shocking,” “troubling” and “alarming,” with one congressman likening the details to KGB activity in Russia.

      Speaking with Fox News, the lawmakers said they could not yet discuss the contents of the memo they reviewed on Thursday after it was released to members by the House Intelligence Committee. But they say the memo should be immediately made public.

      “It is so alarming the American people have to see this,” Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan said.

      “It’s troubling. It is shocking,” North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows said. “Part of me wishes that I didn’t read it because I don’t want to believe that those kinds of things could be happening in this country that I call home and love so much.”

      Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz said he believed people could lose their jobs after the memo is released.

      “I believe the consequence of its release will be major changes in people currently working at the FBI and the Department of Justice,” he said, referencing DOJ officials Rod Rosenstein and Bruce Ohr.

      “You think about, ‘is this happening in America or is this the KGB?’ That’s how alarming it is,” Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry said.

      Now we know why the FISA Amendments Reauth Act had to be whooped through the Senate yesterday. Today they admit that the FISA process — in the drivers seat to spy indiscriminately on all of us for the next six years — functions as a corrupt secret police, end-running the rule of law.

      1. allan

        Any of these poseurs could, rather than preening before the cameras, be reading the Nunes memo
        in all its glory on the House floor, fully protected by the Speech or Debate clause*.
        That they’re not doing so tells us all we need to know.

        * As, of course, any Dem could have done some years ago with the full, unredacted torture report.

        1. Jim Haygood

          True. But if they are proceeding toward a full committee vote on releasing the memo, a member who jumps the gun will be resented by colleagues as a grandstander and an egotist.

          And you know those are few and far between in Foggy Bottom. /sarc

        2. marym

          I have a similar comment in moderation, with quotes from a new emptywheel post reminding us that the poseurs all voted to further empower the FBI this week.

          1. Jim Haygood

            opportunists looking for a Hail Mary to try to tank the 702 bill before Trump signs it

            Not gonna work; Trump has been turned by the Swamp.

            1. marym

              That’s not a quote from Marcy Wheeler’s post or her tweets. I don’t understand the issue re the quote, but I don’t think she agrees with the tweet to which she’s responding. Her point is that the people acting all concerned about the memo voted for the bill.

        3. Oregoncharles

          I actually had a chance to ask Ron Wyden why he didn’t do that with the torture report, as well as the surveillance stuff, instead of just posturing. Oddly, he answered me: because he would have been thrown off the committee. One way to put that is that his career is more important.

      2. fresno dan

        Jim Haygood
        January 19, 2018 at 10:09 am

        from the article:
        House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told Fox News in December that his investigators have already uncovered evidence of abuse in the U.S. government’s surveillance practices.

        “I believe there’s evidence that abuses have occurred,” Nunes said at the time.

        Nunes pointed to the leaked conversation of former national security adviser, Gen. Mike Flynn with the Russian ambassador.

        On Thursday, the Senate voted 65-34 to reauthorize a FISA provision that allows U.S. spy agencies to conduct surveillance on foreign targets abroad for six years. The bill, which already has been passed by the House, now heads to the White House,where President Donald Trump has said he will sign it into law.

        Donald J. Trump

        Verified account

        Jan 11
        With that being said, I have personally directed the fix to the unmasking process since taking office and today’s vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land. We need it! Get smart!

        Donald J. Trump

        Verified account

        Jan 11
        “House votes on controversial FISA ACT today.” This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?
        Repubs: the swamp/intelligence community is full of despicable people trying to screw us and therefore we will reauthorize the law they use to screw us because THE DONALD fixed it.

        OK than…..civil liberties protected!

      3. djrichard

        I’m with Allan. My gut tells me that this memo won’t get released. Adam Schiff says a release which doesn’t have redacted names needs his signature. But what the heck, release it with redactions and let the public reach its own conclusions, right?

        If this memo is truly as bad as what they’re hinting at, I think they’re going to have a “coming to Jesus” discussion on what’s best for the “good of the country”. And if that means the memo doesn’t come out and Trump loses in the process, well … it would be just like not releasing the torture report was what was best for the good of the country.

    2. integer

      Here’s an article:

      Republicans rally for public release of memo on FISA abuses The Washington Examiner

      Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., called for the public release of the memo’s information “to preserve our democracy.”

      “The House must immediately make public the memo prepared by the Intelligence Committee regarding the FBI and the Department of Justice,” Gaetz said in a statement. “The facts contained in this memo are jaw-dropping and demand full transparency. There is no higher priority than the release of this information to preserve our democracy.”

      Gaetz, who has previously called for the removal of special counsel Robert Mueller, said there could be “major changes” for people working in the DOJ and FBI as a result of the memo’s release.

      On Fox News Gaetz went further, saying he believes people could “go to jail” due to the contents of the memo and the Mueller-led investigation, which is examining possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, is “a lie built on corruption.” He also said it became clear to him why Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., recommended the Justice Department criminally investigate the author of the Trump dossier, former British spy Christopher Steele…

      The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, called the memo a “profoundly misleading set of talking points.”

      “[T]he Majority voted today on a party-line basis to grant House Members access to a profoundly misleading set of talking points drafted by Republican staff attacking the FBI and its handling of the investigation,” Schiff, D-Calif., in a statement. “Rife with factual inaccuracies and referencing highly classified materials that most of Republican Intelligence Committee members were forced to acknowledge they had never read, this is meant only to give Republican House members a distorted view of the FBI.”

      Adam Schiff’s response is as good as an admission that this is seriously bad for the D party. Remember his interview with Tucker Carlson? Wikileaks has offered $1 million to anyone who leaks the memo.

      1. Romancing The Loan

        Thanks to you both! Intelligence Committee membership is 13R and 9D (unless I’m looking at the wrong thing) so I assume a vote there would go in favor of release if it’s along party lines. I’m excited; this is starting to sound awfully Nixon-y.

        1. fresno dan

          Or how about Dianne Feinstein? It may be no surprise that Feinstein voted to continue and expand surveillance — she has a long history of doing exactly that. But just about an hour before voting for cloture, Feinstein herself introduced an amendment that would have required a warrant to search the corpus of data collected under 702. And then she voted to block that amendment from even being voted on. Let me repeat that, because it’s just that insane: Feinstein introduced an amendment to the 702 renewal, that would have required a warrant to sniff through the data... and then voted against allowing that amendment to be heard and voted on. Within an hour or so. And, since cloture needed 60 votes and just squeezed through with those 60 votes… Feinstein could have changed the debate herself. But chose not to.
          FEINSTEIN: I was for the warrant amendment that I introduced until I introduced a blocking amendment, which I was for….which made me against what I was ostensibly for, but in actuality I was against, but just with regard to the amendment to the amendment which was solely introduced to appear to be for what I was against but really against what I was for…..
          any questions?

    3. marym


      Devin Nunes has launched the next installment of his effort to undercut the Mueller investigation, a “Top Secret” four page report based on his staffers’ review of all the investigative files they reviewed back on January 5. He then showed it to a bunch of hack Republicans, who ran to the right wing press to give alarmist quotes about the report (few, if any, have seen the underlying reports).

      It all makes for very good theater, but not a single one of these alarmists voted in the way in last week’s FISA Amendments Act votes that would reflect really grave concern about the power of the FBI to spy on Americans.

      Indeed, Gaetz, DeSantis, and King — three of those squawking the loudest — voted to give the same FBI they’re claiming is rife with abuse more power to spy on Americans, including political dissidents. Nunes, who wrote this alarming report, also wrote the bill to expand the power of the FBI he’s now pretending is badly abusive.

      Nothing stopping Nunes or Trump from revealing the contents of the memo, or Trump from de-classifying portions if relevant.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Edward Snowden

        Officials confirm there’s a secret report showing abuses of spy law Congress voted to reauthorize this week. If this memo had been known prior to the vote, FISA reauth would have failed. These abuses must be made public, and @realDonaldTrump should send the bill back with a veto. …
        7:55 AM – Jan 19, 2018

    1. JTMcPhee

      Is there any way to monetize or loot the idea? Then it’s DOA, right? MonsantoBayer is not pleased.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    ‘Make Trade, Not War’ is China’s daring plan in the Middle East Asia Times (Re Silc).

    In the 19th century, that was also what Western imperial powers said to China – we only want to trade if not Marijuana now (well, maybe one day in the future), then Opium with you, and gift you our Christian missionaries (who are also Confucian experts, we believe, from our own Confucius Institute).

  18. DJG

    Thanks for the Corey Robin tweet, which quotes the famous internal monologue and reminiscence by Molly Bloom at the end of Ulysses by James Joyce. It is a reminder of the value of the humanities (and of reading even all of those Dead White Swarthy People like Sappho, Corinna, Sophocles, and Lucretius).

    And to raise the stakes, I’ll add Marianne Moore’s assertions about outbreaks of love in this love-starved country: The poem, Love in America

    Whatever it is, it’s a passion –
    a benign dementia that should be
    engulfing America, fed in a way
    the opposite of the way
    in which the Minotaur was fed.
    It’s a Midas of tenderness,
    from the heart;
    nothing else. From one with ability
    to bear being misunderstood –
    take the blame, with “nobility
    that is action,” identifying itself with
    pioneer unperfunctoriness

    without brazenness or
    bigness of overgrown
    undergrown shallowness

    whatever it is, let it be without

    Yes, yes, yes, yes.

  19. Louis Fyne

    a bit late to yesterday’s long-term care thread…AI/big data may possibly predict your mortality w/90% accuracy. Depending on your worldview, big data allocating health resources efficiently or AI death panels. Pick your side.

    …Stanford University researchers see this use of AI as a benign opportunity to help prompt physicians and patients to have necessary end-of-life conversations earlier…..The alternative being tested by a Stanford University team would use AI to help physicians screen for newly-admitted patients who could benefit from talking about palliative care choices.

  20. RabidGandhi

    Breaking: Emily Litella Has Joined the FBI:

    FBI Doubts Sonic Attack [AP]

    Following months of investigation and four FBI trips to Havana, an interim report from the bureau’s Operational Technology Division says the probe has uncovered no evidence that sound waves could have damaged the Americans’ health, the AP has learned. The report, dated Jan. 4, doesn’t address other theories and says the FBI will keep investigating until it can show there’s been no intentional harm.

    For those tuning in late, last August the US accused Cuba of launching a sonic attack against US diplomats in Havana. And in case you are tempted think the US press just mindlessly parrots State Department press releases, remember CNN took an in-depth look at whether the (non-existant) attacks were ‘a weapon or an accident’. But anyways, we can all sleep soundly knowing the State Department will valiantly protect its diplomats against all threats, no matter how phantasmagorical they may be:

    Tillerson said he’s not convinced that what he calls the “deliberate attacks” are over. He defended his September decision to order most U.S. personnel and their relatives to leave Cuba and said he won’t reverse course until Cuba’s government assures they’ll be safe.

    Tillerson is, naturally, corractamundo, in that even though the sonic attacks were pure fantasy, Cuba nevertheless remains an extremely dangerous place, particularly for Muslims in and around Guantánamo Bay.

    H/T to the Saker who mentioned this article in yesterday’s linked interview.

    1. Wukchumni

      “What is all this talk about endangered feces?”

      …with apologies to Ms Litella, and aimed @ Ms. Pelosi

    2. integer

      Apparently there are a lot of crickets in the area in which the US embassy is located.

      Chirp chirp!

      1. integer

        Acoustics can do surprising things. Resonant frequencies, interference, and reverberation within man-made structures are a non-trivial issue. Very few buildings are acoustically optimized.

  21. Jim Haygood

    Summary of estimates for congressional seat changes after the 2020 Census.

    States gaining districts (7) …………………… States losing districts (8 or 9)

    Arizona +1 (from 9 to 10) ……………………… Alabama -1 (from 7 to 6)
    Colorado +1 (from 7 to 8) ……………………… Illinois -1 (from 18 to 17)
    Florida +2 (from 27 to 29) ……………………… Michigan -1 (from 14 to 13)
    Montana even or +1 (from 1 to 2) …………….. Minnesota even or -1 (from 8 to 7)
    North Carolina +1 (from 13 to 14) ……………. New York -1 (from 27 to 26)
    Oregon +1 (from 5 to 6) ……………………….. Ohio -1 (from 16 to 15)
    Texas +2-3 (from 36 to 38-39) ………………… Pennsylvania -1 (from 18 to 17)
    …………………………………………………….. Rhode Island -1 (from 2 to 1)
    …………………………………………………….. West Virginia -1 (from 3 to 2)

    The state with the largest downside risk appears to be Illinois, which will certainly lose one congressional seat in 2020 and is in danger of being the only state in the U.S. to lose two seats.

    Some current projections show high-tax California is on the edge of actually losing a congressional seat in 2020 — a shocking development for a state that gained seven seats between 1980 and 1990 alone.

    High-tax New York is set to lose yet another seat in 2020, the eighth census in a row that the Empire State has forfeited seats. Going back to the 1940 census, New York is currently down 18 congressional seats on net.

    How can ye run a tax farm when the human livestock jumps the border fence and flees? I ask you …

    1. Oregoncharles

      Good news for Oregon, anyway. Makes me wonder what district I’ll wind up in when they redistrict.

  22. PKMKII

    Trump bringing in the Goldman alumni was about getting them to respect and obey him, not about an embrace of their political and economic outlook, which was never the point. His anger at the finance industry on the campaign trail wasn’t about real economic populism, it was him mad that they never took him seriously and mocked him behind his back in Manhattan’s elite circles.

    1. RUKidding

      Probably true or close to it. A narcissist is only concerned about getting people to fear and obey him.

      Trump seems to me to be remarkably clueless about just about everything except getting those around him to venerate and obey him at every possible moment. Of course, that leaves him open to being manipulated, as happened with the recent sh*thole DACA mess.

  23. Harold

    Trees in cities have to be inspected for diseases and their branches pruned or the trees themselves removed because when weakened they can fall down and destroy cars, or, worst case scenario, kill people. My friend is a horticulturalist and as we walk down the street she points out to me where our street trees are rotted at the base and dangerous, to the point where I am careful not to park my car overnight under one.

    I fear my city (NYC) and its citizens are loath to pay the taxes necessary to keep a proper staff of qualified arborists to keep an eye on things. Instead, the city’s accountants would rather pay out money to settle lawsuits after the fact, even though prevention would provide employment and keep money circulating in the local economy, not to mention the environmental and aesthetic benefits of having beautiful trees. Just saying.

    1. Wukchumni

      The drought was really hard on the native trees here, a good many died and the ones that survived were greatly weakened, and last year when the heavens opened up and it rained like the dickens, some of the survivors drank all they could and became top heavy and toppled over, not unlike a starved concentration camp inmate being offered an all you can eat buffet as their first meal, upon release.

      I had harbored hope of finding an upright standing member of the forest to erect a treehouse in, but I don’t trust any of them all that much anymore, to be honest.

    2. Anon

      Not only do trees in the city have to be maintained, they have to endure a restricted soil environment and other city indignity (vanadalism, dog ‘marking’, etc.). A recently planted (last 40 years) urban tree has an average lifespan of only 8 years. Many of the urban trees that are large were planted in protected zones (parks) or were only recently encroached upon (roads/sidewalk/structure).

      It takes some 1200 cubic feet of soil to allow most trees (excludes Palms) to grow a trunk diameter of 8″ (DBH). That’s 20’x20’x3’soil depth. Not many cities have that kind of space to increase their tree canopy by 20%. (See:related Link.) Most folks (including some ‘Arborists’) don’t understand the unique relationship between a tree and the soil it grows in.

      The tree canopy is related to the root mass and the capacity of the soil to provide nutrients (water/minerals). The soils nutrient creation capacity is dependent on oxygen content, mineral availability, etc. The single most critical condition affecting the utility of soil is compaction: it reduces oxygen and water permiability which reduces root hair/soil chemical reactions that are the essence of tree growth.

      Much of the compaction that occurs in the city around trees is not readily noticed because it takes alot to kill a tree at the root. The tree growth degrades slowly (years) and isn’t noticed. (Or the decline is ascribed to some other unrelated event.)

      So. Yes, the soil is a wondrous organism and more trees in the city would be helpful to the environment (both cultural and actual). But serious change in spatial arrangement is going to be necessary. (Fewer people on the planet would be helpful, too.)

      1. Oregoncharles

        In my town I see large, old trees that the sidewalk goes up and around. Big-leaf maples, especially, a local native, get huge, and fairly quickly. They seem to do alright in the city, but eventually go hollow.

  24. rd

    This is an interesting article looking at how California is evaluating putting state money into water projects. Basically, if the project is just to build a dam and reservoir to hold water for use by ratepayer customers, then they say it should be funded by the ratepayers or the federal government. On the other hand, if there are other benefits to the general state taxpayers and residents that provide a 1:1 value ratio with the proposed state contribution, then the state can provide funding. Other benefits include recreational value, improved ecosystems, including better salmon runs, etc.

    I think we are going to see much more focus on this type of thing over the next few years where the actual users are expected to pay for infrastructure projects where the users can be clearly defined and their usage metered.

    1. Wukchumni

      That’s exactly what’s going to happen in 2020 when the new groundwater laws take place, although details are on the sketchy side @ present, and whatever is enacted will be a surprise.

      “I think we are going to see much more focus on this type of thing over the next few years where the actual users are expected to pay for infrastructure projects where the users can be clearly defined and their usage metered.”

  25. fresno dan

    Let’s be honest about Aziz Ansari CNN

    It is apparently politically incorrect in some women’s eyes to mention “Grace’s” power as a young, desirable woman who admits to actively flirting with Ansari while she was on a date with someone else and inviting Ansari with her eyes until he asked her for her number. That would be no excuse for Ansari to sexually assault her, but he did not.
    People can have very different perceptions of a situation even when sex isn’t involved. Sex only blurs matters further, unless we make ourselves abundantly clear.
    From “Grace’s” description, Ansari’s behavior sounds just tone-deaf, selfish, and boorish. But a woman like “Grace” has agency, too — and she must use it if we are to overcome the so-called patriarchy.
    Very often, we have much more power than we realize. To call “Grace” a victim is to trivialize victims and to diminish “Grace.”
    It’s not that we know nothing — we know a lot — but the nature of our knowledge is limited: the mechanics of the act, the social rituals and expectations surrounding it, and maybe various pop theories for why men and women act the way they do. Only rarely, however, are we aware of the structural forces acting on our romantic lives in the same way that the pressures of supply and demand influence the price of coffee.
    Regnerus, a conservative Catholic sociologist at the University of Texas, provocatively explores how changes in technology and American society more broadly have reshaped intimacy in recent decades, creating a world in which sex is low-effort and abundant, marriage is late, and relationships tend to be fleeting.
    First, I would say that most of this is economics – the very wealthy (which defacto means men) have the legal resources to evade any consequences for the rare, rare (why file a HOPELESS lawsuit if you are low on resources?) chance of legal success in the instances that a woman’s p*ssy is grabbed involuntarily?
    And if the vast majority of mens’ wages have been declining, what clearer more objective measure is there that the PEOPLE WHO RUN SOCIETY find them unworthy? – After all, IF THE MARKET IS THE MEASURE OF ALL THINGS, aren’t most men not very valuable?

    And, to be clear, even though I disagree with the Grace “narrative” that she DID NOT made decisions that advanced the events, Grace has the right to speak about the events, and to expose Aziz’s poor behavior.
    (people will have to judge the truth of the account – the lack of details on Aziz’s part makes me think what I always think, being a man – many ((most?)) men most of the time try to get away with as much as possible)
    I have noted that Grace instituted the initial contact, and that it strikes me as preposterous that an invitation back to a man’s apartment isn’t the same thing as an invitation to sex.

    But what is good for the goose is good for the gander. If your a man, and your fame and fortune means you have lots of sexual conquest opportunities, than you can’t hide underneath a cloak of anonymity if your date thinks your behavior abysmal. Grace has no right to be exempt from examination once she publicly broaches the subject – but neither does Aziz – he does not get to hide his behavior as “private” else wise no bad behavior could ever come to light.

    Some may say this is a private affair and/or if it doesn’t rise to the level of criminal behavior there is little point in discussion. But Women are told to be careful with men. I see no reason men shouldn’t be careful with women. Shouldn’t Aziz, especially because of his professed empathy with women, understand that his “date” did not want to be a receptacle for biological fluid with the same thought as a used tissue? Why should his hypocritical behavior be hidden?
    Grace should have seen that riches and fame does not assure virtue – and indeed, probably the opposite. That true caring feelings are NOT the outcome of most one night stands….
    Aziz should understand that riches and fame do not nullify one’s being publicly acknowledged as an as*hole. Aziz is free to have all the one night stands he wants – but I suspect he is just too cheap (in every sense of the word) to go the Charlie Sheen route…..

      1. JTMcPhee

        Not to mention spreading other forms of dysfunction. Our company clerk in Vietnam “went downtown” to the nearby village and came back with what we Troops got to know as “the Blue Balls.” A type of gonorhea totally resistant to all available treatment. He went off to sick bay and never came back, and “people” in protective cover came and took all his gear and bedding and his office chair. Rumor had it that there’s an island somewhere, no Bali Hai, where those who acquired such diseases were taken to live out whatever life they had left a long ways away from the rest of us, never to return home let alone back to their units. I’m sure that was just a rumor, of course. Efforts to contact the guy were rebuffed and futile. There’s fiction on the subject, of course:

        Here’s one unkind cut on how the downsides to fun sex get played (and paid) out in the Imperial military construct today:

        Humans = “any-opportunity fornicators.” The limbic system trumps all…

  26. jawbone

    Via the link to “Trump is Turning Us All into Him, ” I came across this Vice article summarzing just how dangerous and radical Jeff Sessions is and will continue to be as Attorney General.

    Not sure if this has been posted at NC, but I missed it if so. I did come across a commenter (where, oh, where?) who mentioned that Sessions is looking for ways to criminalize dissenting speech and writing. The man does not seem to honor much of the Constitution — other than the Second Amendment’s giving license to own and carry guns, per the current conservatives on the Supreme Court.

  27. Jim Haygood

    Today Venezuela’s bolivar blew through 200,000 — to 211,300 per dollar according to A higher number means a weaker bolivar.

    Alert readers will recall that the rate was 168,000 bolivars per dollar earlier this week.

    An exchange rate of a million bolivars per dollar should be achievable by spring, as chavismo melts down into inflationary depression.

    1. Wukchumni

      This calls for new math…

      A 1965 1 Bolivar coin had 1/8th of a troy ounce in pure silver content, worth around $2 @ current spot price, and figuring in the Bolivar Fuerte revaluation, and 53 years later, a Venezuelan would need 400 million Bolivars, to be able to purchase it.

      By comparison, a 1964 American quarter will buy you a gallon of gas @ current spot price, it being worth around $3 in silver value currently, or about 12x it’s value of 54 years ago.

  28. Summer

    Re: Manufacturing Consent for War as a Public-Private Partnership…

    Diversifying the country away from economic dependence on war would be the type of all-hands(and minds)-on-deck moment that has the potential to be a great CAREER builder program…and not just a temporary work creating program.
    It would be a long-term program that requires more than science and engineering, but would require work on the psyche of a country (the USA) traumatized by over 100 years of continuous conflict escalation and creation.
    The opportunities are boundless. It’s the real hope for the future.

  29. Altandmain

    I am happy to learn that my city is not on the list of Amazon HQ2 finalists.

    When I look at what happened to Seattle, I have a strong suspicion that we have dodged a bullet. Only a few rich investors and techies benefit from having a Amazon.

    Everyone has to deal with the issues of extremely expensive rent, terrible traffic, all services going up in price, the loss of community, and ultimately displacement as we cannot afford to live in the city anymore.

    To add insult to the injury, the city that wins the Amazon HQ2 will likely fork over tons of concessions. That means that the tax base from having Amazon might not be there. I have heard that Chris Christie in New Jersey for example is offering up to 7 billion dollars in tax credits. Insane. So there won’t be the tax money for addressing the issues that Amazon creates.

  30. Alex

    Re Crime-Predicting Algorithms May Not Fare Much Better Than Untrained Humans

    Quite an interesting article. I have an issue with the implicit assumption that 400 random people are doing a lousy job of predicting things like these. That reminds me of how the juries in ancient Athens worked, with hundreds of people voting whether to convict a defendant. While the system got a bad rap thanks to the Socrates trial, most of the time it worked fine, and not worse than most of the modern ones at any rate.

    On a different note, the article makes an excellent point that any algorithms that influence something important and are used by public bodies should be made open to researchers and general public

  31. FluffytheObeseCat

    The “Vision, Chutzpah and Testosterone” letters selection was one of the more interesting short links you’ve put up in quite a while. I get most of my policy news from MSM venues like Over the past year I’ve been over-exposed to the haughty petulance of our defeated centrist elites (AKA mainstream Democrats). I’ve grown disgusted with them, but I also forgot how self-congratulatory and all-around unpleasant their opponents are. This piece served as a fine reminder.

    The tired, largely false assertions in those letters were something to behold. Assigning Trump the ‘win’ over ISIS because he “set his generals free”. Gushing with pleasure over his congressionally-engineered bench packing spree. Praise for his “energizing” of the economy via slashing regulation. All the same repulsive baloney that typified the Right 8-10 years ago. All emanating from the same smug, “I’m aboard! Pull up the ladder!” types who have personified Republican conservativism for 35 years now. Pinch-lipped, grievance-nursing, supercilious rightie-whites who, when viewed en masse, put their Democratic opponents in the dust……… when it comes to noxious self-aggrandizement. And excuses for self-dealing, dressed up as hard nosed pragmatism or moral virtue. And identity bigotry. And disdain for regular Americans who don’t have cattle ranches to their names.

    Thank you for this reminder.

  32. Kim Kaufman

    The Bitcoin Psyop

    Yes, the blockchain is truly revolutionary. Yes, bitcoin is Tulipmania 2.0. Yes, cryptocurrency is a nail in the coffin of the bankster parasites. Yes, digital currency is a tool of the totalitarian tyrants. No, these statements are not contradictory. But don’t worry if you think they are. You’re just a victim of “The Bitcoin Psyop.”

    Corbett does a lot of research and some of his historical podcasts are fascinating. On the downside, he is a libertarian and thinks government is evil. I haven’t listened to this yet but I will. There’s also a transcript and links if people prefer that.

    1. Oregoncharles

      The current Scientific American features 4 articles on money, no not Modern Money, starting with cryptocurrencies. So far it isn’t terribly illuminating, but I’ll plug along. Haven’t checked the Internets for it yet, but you might want to.

  33. CanCyn

    So true RG … but I work with many who can well afford to shop locally and spend money at farmers’ markets etc. Instead, they chase bargains, use Amazon, shop at Walmart and dollar stores, etc. as if their lives depended on it. Saving money and getting bargains are badges of honour. There are many in the upper 10% who could change their ways but won’t.
    And as you say, this is by design … share holder profits and saving pennies wherever you can are the important things, not community and neighbour, good jobs, health care and decent lives. This inspite of the fact that if you ask people if these things are important, they’ll agree that they are and then head off to their computers to order the latest best seller at 50% off from Amazon. Sigh.
    I talk to people about voting with my dollars i.e. spending it meaningfully. I say this: “Amazon doesn’t need my money but the bookstore on the corner does. I can actually see that I’m making a difference when I shop there. I know the owner by name and can have a meaningful interaction about books and life. A much more satisfying way to spend my time than getting a bargain on Amazon.” I feel like I make a small dent from time to time but most often people just go back to their busy, consuming, bargain hunting ways.

    1. newcatty


      Yes. Know so many people who think and act in exactly this way. Whether they are here in AZ, CA, AL,FL or MA. And most, who are quite capable to be able to afford to support local vendors and businesses do not very selectively. Sometimes it is for the thrill of the great White Bargain hunt. What I have most noticed is their implicit value system and beliefs about what is important to them being literally acted upon as they live their lives. The person who, for example, lives in a spacious and nicely appointed home with a pool, Jacuzzi, bath house, and koi pond has to pay to keep up with the bills and the Jones! And, her kids have to have cool clothes and be in cool extra curricular activities, that is naturally a given. Hey, gotta be in the shark pool or be in the frog pond ( no bejeweled koi to be found). So, no extra money to support a local shop or business. Oh, wait… happy hour at that new, amazing sushi bar counts! Then, the ones who buy arsenal, organic food, but stood at McDonald’s to have a cheap “lunch” on the fly to a business meet or to a cheap 45 buck hair cut. I could be accused of being a big hypocrite… We all have priorities. I do choose to buy organic and eschew fast food. I do not buy Amazon, but buy clothes from a department store as well as thrift stores. We use and support our really awesome library, but also pay our outrageous monopoly cable corporation bill. What bothers me a lot , is that I also have close loved ones who really can not afford organic food, or cable television, never go on “needed” week end breaks or vacay, spend any extra income on their kid’s needs, spend a grossly amount of income to their rapacious rent owners. Most can not move for real reasons to a less expensive place( for example, child custody sharing, etc.). I live in a beautiful, small town in relatively affordable Western state. I want all people to have dignified, basically life supporting lives.

  34. integer

    Newsweek, IBT Headquarters Raided by NYPD The Wrap

    The Manhattan headquarters of Newsweek and its parent company, IBT Media, was raided on Thursday by the New York City Police Department, TheWrap has learned.

    While the reason for the raid was not immediately known, officers armed with a warrant have been photographing company servers as part of a larger investigation, according to a person familiar with the matter…

    The raid adds an exotic exclamation point to a cascade bad news which has dogged the company in recent months. Only this week, the once venerable news magazine was blasted for unserious articles suggesting President Trump was suffering from erectile dysfunction and that Hillary Clinton could in fact still become president.

      1. integer

        Not sure what is going on with this, but thought it was worth mentioning. FWIW I agree that those two pieces of info are somewhat incongruent, however I noticed that the tax evasion aspect was not highlighted in other articles I read on this matter, so chose to leave it out of my summary.

  35. D

    For anyone else who might be curious about the one unlucky County (versus City) – Montgomery County, Maryland – on Amazon’s new campus shortlist, emphasis mine:

    01/09/18 By Andrew Metcalf Here’s What Montgomery County Highlighted in Its Bid for Amazon’s Second Headquarters – Recruitment package touted area; specific economic enticements redacted in released documents

    Montgomery County’s bid to lure Amazon’s second headquarters highlighted the area’s highly educated workforce, transportation network and internet connectivity.

    But the financial and tax incentives that county officials offered the Seattle-based internet giant to locate in the county remain secret. Before releasing the recruitment package to Bethesda Beat this week through a public records request, the county blacked out all passages and pages that referred to its specific pitch, including possible economic and tax incentives.

    Any information that might have revealed the site the county was pitching to the Seattle-based internet company also was redacted.

    However, it appears based on what wasn’t redacted in the documents that the county is pitching one site to Amazon.


    Montgomery County’s reluctance to speak openly about its pitch is similar to the secrecy of other jurisdictions around the country that also are trying to win the Amazon headquarters.

    The website Taxanalysts sought records from 10 jurisdictions that submitted bids to Amazon for the second headquarters. Only one jurisdiction, Toledo, Ohio, provided a copy of its proposal without redacted incentive information. Toledo offered a package worth at least $780 million, including a nearly $470 million performance-based grant, according to Taxanalysts.


    My sympathies to all 19 cities and, from the linked piece, it looks like possibly Bethesda, Maryland,. It’s outrageous – given the known and increasing homelessness problem that Amazon’s Seattle Campus, along with Silicon Valley’s Google, Facebook and Apple Campuses have wrought – that there is barely any mainstream commentary on Local and State Governments selling out those they govern.


    In other ugly and unsurprising Amazon news:

    Amazon under fire for selling ‘Slavery makes sh*t happen’ t-shirts for kids
    Amazon has been criticised for selling clothes for children and babies that appear to trivialise slavery.

    The retail giant carry a wide range of products containing the slogan ‘Slavery makes sh*t happen’ and use photos of young models to show off the designs that many people would find offensive.

    The words are accompanied by pictures of what appear to be the Pyramids from ancient Egypt.

    The t-shirts and other products bearing the slogan are believed to be made by another online company based in Eastern Europe.


    Looks like a child’s t-shirt, and an adult coffee mug, that Bezos would adore.

  36. knowbuddhau

    Thanks for the antidote. What a pleasant surprise.

    I’m sitting here, thinking about the good-timing/synchronistic streak I’ve been on lately as Firefox opens and the page loads, like buying a flawless FAO Schwarz bear for my bear-collecting mom at a thrift store for a dollar earlier today, for a dollar!, only to come home and find she’s canceled a major trip because suddenly sick, and then boom, there’s a pic of a pileated woodpecker on a suet block, certainly the only one I’ve ever seen, except for the ones I have on my phone and have been thinking of sending for weeks. And about a dozen more of the same.

    When you’re on your path, hitting your stride and moving right in rhythm, sh!t like that happens all the time.

    If only there was a way around normal regression, amirite?

  37. integer

    I believe that before too long
    All my sorrows will be overcome
    I don’t know but I’ve been told
    That you ain’t worth much
    When your blood is cold

  38. D

    integer, re:

    I believe that before too long
    All my sorrows will be overcome
    I don’t know but I’ve been told
    That you ain’t worth much
    When your blood is cold

    a very warm embrace to you, unable to view online videos but I sense that you’re a very caring human being, I believe there are billions of us, we do have our faults, but the vast majority of us, understand right, from wrong.

    Unfortunately, those who economically control us, and their lackeys, know right from wrong, but choose to burn the house down versus doing the right thing.

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