Links 2/5/18

Stripes of wildflowers across farm fields could cut pesticide spraying Guardian

Equity markets tumble as global sell-off deepens FT

Illinois Eyes Bond Market For Pension Salvation Value Walk

It’s almost like Scottish big banks are losing their reputation for probity (Richard Smith):

(Here is a text version of the story.)

China to stamp out cryptocurrency trading completely with ban on foreign platforms South China Morning Post

“CryptoKitties” is now coming to your phone—with new Chinese cats Quartz

South Korea says North stole cryptocurrency worth billions of won last year Reuters

Chat app Line announces plan for cryptocurrency services, loans and insurance Tech Crunch

The Cost of Crypto Is Turning Miners Towards Green Power Bloomberg

Why you cannot quit Amazon Prime — even if maybe you should WaPo (Kokuanani). WaPo?

Early Facebook and Google Employees Form Coalition to Fight What They Built NYT

Brexit

The Nuclear Safeguards Bill may not protect the UK’s nuclear industry after Brexit Institute for Government

Secret plan to use Brexiteers Gove and Johnson in compromise to end Tory turmoil on trade talks The Times

Beneath the mask, Jacob Rees-Mogg is a dangerous and deceitful bully on secondment from the 18th century The Independent

No, minister:

The Legatum Institute: the charity and its offshored sponsor Sigrún Davíðsdóttir’s Icelog (Richard Smith).

Government crackdown on ‘McMafia’ organised crime sees Russian billionaires ask Kremlin to return home The Telegraph

China?

The Breakneck Rise of China’s Colossus of Electric-Car Batteries Bloomberg

China industrial policy at work in lingerie themed town FT

Senior US diplomat pitches arms sales in China’s backyard AP

Trump’s China policies are working a treat Macrobusiness

Trump’s Nuke Plan Raising Alarms Among Military Brass The American Conservative (Re Silc).

North Korea

A nuclear first strike of North Korea is ‘tempting’, says legendary U.S. diplomat Henry Kissinger as Kim Jong-un warns Trump is pushing towards war Daily Mail (KW). Yves: “Shows the error in not having locked him up as a war criminal.”

Democratic senators: Trump lacks ‘legal authority’ for preemptive, ‘bloody nose’ strike on North Korea WaPo

Too big to fail: worries surround South Korea’s chip industry Christian Science Monitor (CM).

Syraqistan

Commentary: To make peace in the Middle East, focus first on water Reuters

Petroleum and Sea Power American Oil and Gas Historical Society

Sea cables in a thawing Arctic Lowy Interpreter

New Cold War

Democrats warn of constitutional crisis over memo FT. Leon Panetta, former CIA director: “I believe it creates a constitutional crisis when the president distrusts the justice department and the FBI.” Madison would disagree: “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” Trust doesn’t enter into the proper functioning of an executive branch that’s working as designed. Panetta is wrong on the merits.

Panetta on memo: ‘FISA judges are no pushovers’ The Hill. Hilarity ensues.

The FBI Is Not Your Friend Jacobin

Trump Transition

The U.S. government is set to borrow nearly $1 trillion this year, an 84 percent jump from last year WaPo (UserFriendly).

Fossil fuel developments on U.S. public lands emit more greenhouse gases than most countries Grist

Americans abroad hit by Trump’s new repatriation tax rules FT

Our Famously Free Press

More than a muckraker: Robert Parry believed in the possibilities of our craft Salon

How and Why We Should All Be Like the Late Journalistic Giant Robert Parry The Intercept

Sports Desk

The Saga Of The Awning Deadspin. The city that loves you back.

Downward Spiral The Baffler (Henry Moon Pie).

Health Care

U.S. Pays Billions for ‘Assisted Living,’ but What Does It Get? NYT (Re Silc).

Amtrak train on wrong track in deadly crash; it says freight line controls signals ABC

Class Warfare

A decade after recession, a jump in U.S. states with wage gains Reuters

What Amazon Does to Poor Cities The Atlantic

Germs in airplane cabins are bad, but it’s even worse at the airport terminal LA Times. Touch-screens at the kiosks. Who knew?

Terminal rivalry: can intra-airport competition work at Heathrow and elsewhere? The Independent (KW). It certainly works for the New York Port Authority. Oh, wait….

The Other Whisper Network Katie Roiphe, Harpers. The long-awaited article…

NASA’s Long Dead ‘IMAGE’ Satellite is Alive! Riddles in the Sky

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

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.

160 comments

  1. voteforno6

    Re: Stripes of wildflowers across farm fields could cut pesticide spraying

    I love stories like this – maybe there is hope yet. It’ll be nice to see how well this experiment works out. Not only could it cut down on pesticide use, but it should help out the bee population as well.

    Reply
    1. Jef

      This has been known and even practiced for over a hundred years. The reason it is not any more is for the same reason that nothing that works, has worked in the past, and is good can be initiated…because it makes everything cost more.

      In order to plant enough “wildflowers” to make a difference farmers need to give up 15 to 25% of their fields. This translates into hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost yield. Way cheaper to spray…unless you consider the environment which capitalism must never do.

      Reply
      1. heresy101

        “In the new field trials, the strips are six metres wide and take up just 2% of the total field area.”

        The reason this isn’t practiced is because Bayer (no more aspirin et al from them), Dow, Monsanto will lose their huge profits!

        Reply
      2. heresy101

        From the article:
        “Pywell’s initial tests show that planting strips 100m apart means the predators are able to attack aphids and other pests throughout the field. ….In the new field trials, the strips are six metres wide and take up just 2% of the total field area.”

        Actually, 6 meters out of 106 meters is 5-6% lost area. If the need to spray pesticides is reduced or eliminated, only Bayer and Monsanto are large losers.

        Reply
      3. willf

        If you read the article, you will note that it says: “In the new field trials, the strips are six metres wide and take up just 2% of the total field area.”

        Reply
        1. Ruudj

          That may be true if you consider one strip of 6 meters between two fields only. But fields have more sides, with other fields!

          Reply
  2. fresno dan

    The FBI Is Not Your Friend Jacobin

    Remarkably balanced article that can acknowledge that the FBI has investigated right wing crime, while pointing out all the past AND PRESENT misdeeds and wrongheaded policies. As everything becomes red versus blue, defense of the indefensible and rationalization of the preposterous becomes….dare I say it? normalization of political discourse.

    Reply
  3. integer

    Re: Democrats warn of constitutional crisis over memo

    Looks like the big players from the intelligence agencies are circling the wagons.

    Ex-CIA Chief John Brennan Signs as MSNBC/NBC Contributor The Wrap

    Former CIA director John Brennan has become the latest member of the NBC News and MSNBC family, officially signing with the network as a contributor.

    Brennan will serve as a senior national security and intelligence analyst for the networks, the company announced Thursday, adding that his first official appearance will come on this Sunday’s “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd.

    Another person familiar with the matter said he would take the stage at “Morning Joe” on Monday.

    Here is Brennan’s first appearance, in which he seems to be making an extra special effort not to come across as the psychopath he is.

    Reply
    1. Stormcrow

      Constitutional Crisis

      Appointing the likes of former CIA head John Brennan, among other things responsible for torture and its cover-up, to NBC News is already the sign of a long-standing “constitutional crisis.”

      Unlike some other commentators here in recent days, I did not find Caitlin Johnstone’s article on the FISA memo to be all that compelling. She did not adequatey focus on the real constitutional crisis brought to light by the Nunes Memo, in my opinion.

      Here are two pieces that I think are on the right track, regardless of any details that might be questioned.

      The FBI and CIA Failed Coup Against Trump Unravels by Publius Tacitus
      http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2018/02/the-fbi-and-cia-failed-coup-against-trump-unravels-by-publius-tacitus.html

      FISA-Gate: The Plot To Destroy Our Republic by Justin Raimondo
      https://original.antiwar.com/justin/2018/02/04/fisa-gate-plot-destroy-republic/

      Trump is a troubling and dangerous president, but his corporate liberal enemies in high places are much the same, albeit in different ways.

      Reply
      1. fresno dan

        Stormcrow
        February 5, 2018 at 10:19 am

        FISA-Gate: The Plot To Destroy Our Republic by Justin Raimondo
        And while the debate has largely been over whether the proper legal procedures were followed by the FBI and administration officials in spying on Carter Page – someone only marginally connected to the Trump campaign – the real question is: why were they sneaking around Page at all?

        Oh, he claimed to be an “informal advisor” to the Russian government: he had business interests in Russia and met with Russian officials. Furthermore, and most importantly, he opposed the anti-Russian hysteria that permeates official Washington, and he often said – in public speeches as well as privately – that US sanctions against Russia are a mistake.

        But so what? Since when is it illegal to hold these views?

        Page was never a “Russian agent,” and the FBI never proved that he was or is. Instead, they submitted that phony BuzzFeed “dossier” to the FISA court as “evidence” justifying their hot pursuit of him on more than one occasion.
        =======================================
        Thanks for that Stromcrow.
        and I mentioned the thing about Carter Page a couple of days ago
        fresno dan
        February 3, 2018 at 4:59 pm
        IN PART:
        Carter Page has been surveilled for 5 years???? Is this the Afghanistan of surveillance or is it par for the course? Of course, with a SECRET court system, who knows…..
        How long can someone be surveilled before it is time to fish or cut bait?
        AND with the amount of leaking there is, why havn’t we heard about all the valuable US state secrets lost or in peril because of Carter Page?

        Reply
        1. Procopius

          With all the background details withheld from even the members of the “oversight” committee, we don’t have any idea whether this was normal or not. We don’t know if they had some reason or if it was just bureaucratic inertia or some personal bugaboo of some mid-level drone in the J. Edgar Hoover building. We do know that both the FBI and CIA were active in the elections of 2016 and very possibly earlier (I remember the Old Queen’s reputation for having blackmail material on every office holder in D.C. — well known in the 1950s). I am not ready to clutch my pearls because the Republicans are “undermining faith in our intelligence agencies.”

          Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      Linh Dinh checks in from the Philly suburbs on the wrong side of the river:

      When out-of-town friends visit, I like to take them to Camden. With its high crime, horrible government and general wretchedness, it’s the worst of America’s present and, if all goes according to plans, our stereotypical future.

      Soon as you cross into Collingswood or Gloucester or Palmyra, however, the graffiti, trash, abandoned houses, sagging pants and neck tattoos disappear. In fact, South Jersey is dotted with quaint boroughs featuring relatively active Main Streets.

      Unlike in Camden, no Palmyra store owner needs to stare at customers from behind bullet-proof plexiglass. Last year, there was no murder or rape. Filthy junkies with rotting teeth don’t prostitute themselves even in the afternoon.

      Still mostly segregated after centuries, black and white Americans can unite in fattening the military banking complex and killing, and getting killed by, Israel’s enemies. Founded on noble ideals, this country has been reduced to saluting mercenaries and worshiping pieces of cloth or plastic.

      With record debts and no manufacturing competitiveness, our economy is a sick illusion, sustained only by our empire status, with guns and threats pointing in all directions, but this farce will blow up soon. I finish this piece at 40,000 feet above Nagoshima. Yes, I’m returning to Asia, and in fact, my wife and I are preparing to move back to Vietnam permanently.

      https://tinyurl.com/y7vjn5q8

      Day-umn …

      Reply
      1. Arizona Slim

        I grew up outside of Philadelphia, and, quite frankly, I was raised to be afraid of that city. As in, scared enough to avoid it unless I was on very carefully chaperoned outings.

        Back in the 1960s and 1970s, such fears were justified. These days, not so much.

        As for Camden, it was as big of a basket case as Chester, PA. Looks like it still is.

        Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            I heard rumors that the crowd got so out of hand, a policeman astride a horse was shoved off and said steed was drawn & quartered on the spot, which allowed for in excess of 100 filly cheese steaks to be distributed to those celebrating, when combined with sauteed mushrooms & peppers, caramelized onions, provolone and hoagie rolls.

            Reply
            1. fresno dan

              Wukchumni
              February 5, 2018 at 10:51 am

              I am forwarding that to my friend who is married to a “Philly” woman.
              Totally accurate except they would have ate the cop too…..

              Reply
          2. Arizona Slim

            Which is why the Slim family kept its feet firmly planted in the suburbs during major pro sporting events. Too many drunken idiots in the city. And we didn’t want to deal with them.

            Reply
        1. jaxbeau

          Philly football riots

          I grew up in south Jersey and lived in Philly in the early ’80s and in Collingswood, NJ in the early-90’s while working a temp job at Cooper Hospital in Camden. While prosperous up through WWII using whites and a lot of black laborers who moved up from the south, parts of Philly and most of black Camden were left to rot during the 1960’s ‘white flight’. Most of Camden then was a stain on the nation and it’s true that, despite the corporate waterfront attractions that have been built in the last 20 years, black Camden remains impoverished, as well as black inner city Philadelphia.

          I have an abiding warm spot in my heart for Philadelphia. And a barely concealed contempt for my south Jersey relatives who would never go into Philly, that “hell hole” or “sewage pit”, depending on their ire.

          Too bad for them. Philadelphia has one of the finest art museums in the northeast and a boatload of early American history.

          Stay real, Philly.

          Reply
      2. oh

        I’ve read his pieces on ‘Postcards from the end of America” on various cities like the one you linked to and they’re so revealing.

        Reply
    2. curlydan

      I liked my few months in Philly, but I quickly learned it’s really not the “city of brotherly love.” I now live in the sometimes annoying “Midwest nice”, but Philly may be the epicenter of “Northeast mean”

      Reply
  4. fresno dan

    https://harpers.org/archive/2018/02/the-other-whisper-network/

    Most of the new whisperers feel as I do, exhilarated by the moment, by the long-overdue possibility of holding corrupt and bullying men such as Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, and Matt Lauer to account for their actions. They strongly share some of its broader goals: making it possible for women to work unbothered and unharassed even outside the bubble of Hollywood and the media, breaking down the structures that have historically protected powerful men.
    =====================================================
    So there was this article in the Sunday Fresno Bee about a republican former speaker of the assembly (Robert Hertzberg) and a newly elected repub assembly woman, Linda Halderman. It seems to me her simple request NOT to be hugged by Hertzberg was PERFECTLY reasonable – indeed, my own filters say that Hertzberg, a rather undesirable looking guy, looked upon the situation as a way to feel up a very attractive woman and get away it.
    If women “whisper” about such men, it allows such men to keep doing what they keep doing.
    There is NO RIGHT TO HUG. And the chimera of just being a “huggy” person just doesn’t cut it.
    I’m a little bit sensitive on the issue because although I am a male, I don’t like being touched by males either unless I know them well and are real friends with them. First, I don’t touch people I don’t know, and I don’t touch without obvious consent and permission. People think I’m stand offish. They are correct. And I am in contact with them due to commerce, not friendship or family relation, or love. Go hug someone who WANTS to be hugged.
    Halderman: “I didn’t expect perfection from professional colleagues while working in Sacramento. I did expect to be able to work without having to tolerate some creepy guy’s hand on me”

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Another non-huggy person here. Unless you’re a very close friend or my mother (my only loving relative), keep your distance from me, and I’ll do the same for you.

      Reply
      1. fresno dan

        DorothyT
        February 5, 2018 at 11:13 am

        Your exactly right – thanks for that.
        I reread the article and it certainly doesn’t say he is a repub – it also doesn’t say he is a dem. And it kinda goes without saying the CA has been all blue for years and years. Still, I don’t know how I got some a foolish notion in my head….

        Reply
    2. Petter

      This topic, hugging, reminded me that Adam Curtis had done a blog post on the HUG, specifically it’s development on TV and then to the general society, some TV programs serving as classes in social etiquette. It’s tied to the zeitgeist of the “authentic”. We all have a notion of what that means.
      Anyway, as for me, I’ve hugged parking meters for taking my coins.
      Here’s the link – it’s from 2011:

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/entries/843165bf-1e69-3dec-873e-973fc8e604a5

      Reply
  5. integer

    Not sure if it’s been mentioned here already, but almost 200k new Hillary Clinton emails were released via the FOIA a few days ago. I had a quick look at some of the emails that reference AIPAC and there’s some interesting stuff in there. I haven’t had a chance to dig around much though.

    Reply
    1. fresno dan

      integer
      February 5, 2018 at 7:58 am

      Thanks for that!!!
      However, off to an inauspicious start. I click on the first 3 about health care – at last, what does Hillary REALLY think about Obamacare – and they are all empty :(

      Reply
    2. integer

      Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a way to link to specific emails, but I just stumbled onto this:

      CONFIDENTIAL
      September 16, 2011
      For: Hillary
      From: Sid[ney Blumenthal]
      Re: France, UK, et al, jockeying in Libya/oil

      During mid-September 2011 French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron traveled to Tripoli to meet with and express support for the leaders of the new government of Libya under the National Transitional Council (NTC). According to knowledgeable individuals, as part of this effort, the two leaders, in private conversations, also intend to press the leaders of the NTC to reward their early support for the rebellion against Muammar al Qaddafi. Sarkozy and Cameron expect this recognition to be tangible, in the form of favorable contracts for French and British energy companies looking to play a major role in the Libyan oil industry. According to this source, Sarkozy feels, quite strongly, that without French support there would have been no revolution and that the NTC government must demonstrate that it realizes this fact. For his part, Cameron appears most concerned that despite British support for the rebels during the fighting, certain members of the NTC remain focused on the fact that the British government and oil industry had good relations with the Qaddafi regime, particularly the firm British Petroleum (BP).

      It’s just my initial impression, but there seems to be quite a lot of serious stuff in this batch of emails. It is a shame that they can’t be linked to individually as it makes sharing them somewhat difficult. Hopefully someone will download all of them and present them in a searchable archive with a unique web address for each email/document, like Wikileaks does. FWIW the document date of the above email is 9/18/2011.

      Reply
    3. JCC

      Can anyone explain to me how the search function works? Out of curiosity I did a search on the word “Trump” just do see what she had to say about him. The top of the page stated “527 results returned” but the result was completely empty. Nothing.

      Is this a Firefox issue? Should I be running IE or Chrome instead?

      Reply
      1. integer

        I had this issue too. The search function works for me when I click the “Refine Search” or “New Search” button, rather than just pressing the enter key.

        Reply
      2. fresno dan

        JCC
        February 5, 2018 at 10:06 am

        I had microsoft office, and it really pains me to say it, but the microsoft email runs circles around google email, which as far as I can tell has no search capability WHATSOEVER. I mean, I can’t even figure out how to sort by date or sender.
        So yeah, I can’t figure out either how to do any search or sort by sender, subject line, or content phrases….

        Reply
  6. Jim Haygood

    Global stocks fall further even as bonds find support‘ — FT

    Not to worry. Today J Powell — Japewell to us Fed watchers — formally takes the reins at the Eccles Building as J-Yel departs for a militarist think thank (appropriately so, since fiat currency first and foremost is a means of war finance).

    Much as newly-enthroned kings would celebrate their accession with a release of prisoners (a long-forgotten tradition here in Gulag Nation), Japewell likely will cut a few “new era” POMOs in response to the throngs of FIRE sector workers lining Wall Street in their tattered tan overcoats with extended hands, crying Christmas gif’, Jape! in their liquidity distress.

    All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds, comrades, with a strong hand commanding the central planners. :-)

    Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      What Thursday’s looming gov shutdown’s doing to T-bills is Mnuchin’s problem. Chart of short-term yield curve:

      https://tinyurl.com/ya3djf5m

      Jape’s job is to keep monetary conditions nice ‘n easy through the partisan crisis until we emerge into the sunshine and birdsong on the other side with the fiscal taps flowing like Niagara Falls. :-)

      Reply
      1. Jim Haygood

        Finding it difficult to pass full budgets, the U.S. legislature lurches from one continuing resolution and debt-limit renegotiation to the next.‘ — Satyajit Das

        Today’s breakfast meditation:

        Donald J. Trump
        @realDonaldTrump

        Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper! Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!

        7:39 AM – Feb 5, 2018

        Partisan war is the continuation of politics by other means.” — Clausewitz

        Reply
  7. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: Trumps Nuke Plan — The recommendations in the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), make the F-37 and more aircraft carriers attractive … assuming they could suck the money out of the NPR. What happened to the Trump who was going to stop a few of our stupid wars when he became President?

    Reply
  8. fresno dan

    The Other Whisper Network Katie Roiphe, Harpers. The long-awaited article…

    As we were talking, I got caught up in her enthusiasm. It’s true that when I thought about the actual Lorin Stein, it was more about words on the page—about his serializing excerpts of Rachel Cusk’s Outline, for example, which I had stopped everything to read. But as she was talking, I was completely drawn in. I found myself wanting to say something to please her. The outrage grew and expanded and exhilarated us. It was as though we weren’t talking about Lorin Stein anymore, we were talking about all the things we have ever been angry about, the ways men have insulted or offended or overlooked or mistreated us, or the way beautiful women are rewarded and then not rewarded. I felt as though I were joining a club, felt a warming sense of social justice, felt that this was a weighty, important thing we were engaging in.
    ===========================================================
    forgive my over zealousness about this article, but the above captures so perfectly my own belief in the “mobocracy on twitter” that rewards lack of thinking, nuance, perspective. self righteousness, etc. Indeed, the very idea to agree and TO SHARE strikes me as an important aspect of the phenomenon…

    Reply
    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “Twitter feminism.”

      Seems like this is a euphemism for “drive-by feminism” or “bumper sticker feminism”–same as any other issue that is “addressed” on twitter.

      Isn’t creating such a situation the whole point of limiting the number of characters a “tweeter” has at his / her disposal?

      Kind of ironic that this article describes a war within the literary / publishing “community.” You’d have thought they’d have been some of the first to recognize the potential problems and steer clear.

      Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, a very well articulated article. It reminds me a little bit of Dave Chappelles long rambling monologue in his Netflix special on why African Americans are ambivalent about condemning Bill Cosby, despite the terrible things he (allegedly) did. These things are complicated. I’ve a feeling there will be nasty backlash to the whole issue which might leave everyone worse off than before it started.

      Reply
      1. Stephanie

        So, honest question here, I keep reading that #MeToo is going to cause a backlash, and I keep wondering what that would be, other than the idea that more men will adopt the Pence Rule, which strikes me as the kind of thing that would invite it’s own backlash. Are there other examples I am missing? Because otherwise the anti argument just seems to amount to “better the devil you know” and “but due process”, which afaik has never meant anything with regard to at-will employment (although I could be wrong about that). It seems to me the better solution for the latter problem would involve restructuring the employer-employee relationship, if what we are worried about is the effect of possible slander on livelihood.

        Reply
        1. jsn

          I agree with Setpanie on this.

          While I don’t like the idea of imposing a kind of legal scrutiny on human sexual relations, there is no denying that thousands of years of patriarchy has normalized profound power asymmetries between men and women and that the progress of the last hundred years, while real has been limited and the more private the fora, the more limited the progress.

          Structural adjustments to the balance of power between individuals would be a more humane and manageable approach, but politically much more difficult. For instance, should jobs with dignity and a living wage ever be guaranteed to all who want them, a key aspect of power asymmetry undergirding the entire capitalist system to the particular detriment of women and minorities, but affecting everyone, would be fundamentally subverted.

          Reply
    3. Ted

      Yes, Roiphe is trying to (1) remind us we are human (Flawed assumes Plato had ontology correct … physics says no) and (2) twitter mobs ask us to remain children forever. Children, it is reported, supposedly tend to think ethically in terms of categorical absolutes. Roiphe seems to me to be suggesting that adult sensibilities require an appreciation for life’s complicated multiplexity.

      Reply
    4. UserFriendly

      As I pointed out yesterday one of my favorite writers got his career ended at the age of 27 by the Media Men list. I know nothing about how valid the accusations are but I am so pissed that his writing will have a shadow over it if he can ever even get published again.

      Camille Paglia and Jordan Peterson had a great talk about this that is a must watch. Paglia links this perversion of feminism to all the real radicals thinking that the real radical thing to do was skip grad school resulting in university departments being dominated by well heeled mental midgets who fell in love with postmodernism. Lots of other great points and insights, too much to type. I’ve already watched it twice it was so good.

      Reply
  9. The Rev Kev

    Loved the article “NASA’s Long Dead ‘IMAGE’ Satellite is Alive!” Instead of a Reader’s Digest version of the story you feel like you are actually witnessing it in real time, especially with those screen captures of what those guys were seeing. Great find that.

    Downward Spiral: “..NFL, which is to say that we are talking about a league that increasingly sees itself as presenting not only the most popular American sport…but the most American American sport.” I know that I am not an American but I would argue that that place is held by baseball.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      I took a German friend to an MLB game years ago, and he termed it toten hosen, and nearly fell asleep on me, but I was able to revive him for the 7th inning stretch and a song that promotes peanut eating, of which he is quite allergic to. I doubt i’ll ever get him back to the old ballgame, as it’s 2 hours of tedium interspersed with 20 minutes of entertainment, an ugly 6-1 ratio for those of you scoring @ home.

      When I was a kid everybody played in little league, and only the losers were in Pop Warner. We like our violence served to order, and aside from when a pitcher throws @ a batter, resulting in a rush to the mound to confront the hurler, rarely does anything more than noogies emanate as a result of faux fisticuffs festivity. There is no concussion protocol in baseball, and in theory no crying either, but when you have grown men playing a kid’s game, sometimes a nasty buildup of fluids is in the eye of the beholder of the bat or glove.

      One thing the NFL does that no other pro sports ever accomplish aside from the NHL during the playoffs, is the players and coaches on opposing sides typically embrace one another after the contest is finished. This strikes me as odd, as it’s pretty obvious the players want to put the hurt on one another, that blindsided hit on Brandin Cooks yesterday, being a prime example of the level of depravity deployed.

      Reply
      1. curlydan

        A difference between football and other sports is what I call the “send a message” play. The unflagged hit on Cooks and similar hits is to “send a message” for the rest of the game that “you better watch out”. Nearly every sport has send a message moments of domination whether it is basketball’s Kevin McHale clobbering some guy going to the lane, a soccer player on a crunching tackle, a brushback pitch or studs up slide into 2nd in baseball, etc.

        In any other sport, though, a “send a message” play using football’s violence get the player thrown out of the game and possibly suspended for multiple games. In football, the offending player celebrates the hit…at least up to the point where he realizes he might have caused brain damage to the other guy.

        Reply
    2. Henry Moon Pie

      I prefer baseball. The sticks-and-stones aspect of our nature has been refined and cultured. The stone is replaced by a leather and twine ball. The club is whittled into a bat. The bat can only strike a ball, not another person. The ball can only be thrown within a narrowly prescribed area, not at another player (well…). Violence is sublimated into the complicated skills of pitching and hitting, throwing and catching.

      Football consists of highly organized violence, each body (and sometimes racial) type is gathered into cadres: the “skill” players; the giants of the offensive line; the vicious linebackers; the waterbug defensive backs. These groups are coached, trained and practiced separately, coming together only to scrimmage or play a game. We pretend that the goal is to move a ball across the goal, but the real substance is head smashing against head at full human speed.

      Now which more closely resembles 21st century America?

      Reply
    3. Paul Cardan

      I’d vote for football as most American. Combines the two worst aspects of the culture: violence and committee meetings.

      Reply
    4. apberusdisvet

      Baseball (like basketball) is almost purely American; American football, on the other hand, has its origins in other countries. Baseball started being derided in the 70s by many who felt it was too slow, too boring, and who then turned their allegiance to football; more exciting, faster paced. But not any more. Football is now a game played as an afterthought to commercial breaks, cuz that’s where the money is, and becoming a pariah due to brain injuries. And, I would argue that football is now far more boring than baseball, and devastatingly slower than the fast paced action of basketball. Even the NHL is more watchable,

      Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          I was at a 4 day test match in Auckland one time, in order to see if paint dried quicker than the action on the pitch.

          Reply
          1. a different chris

            I always wondered what the “test” in “test match” meant. Thanks! Do they vary the paint composition (latex, oil based, etc) to keep the interest level high across a season?

            Reply
      1. RUKidding

        I agree. I used to go to football games in high school, and they were good and fast paced. Nowadays, watching Commericals interspersed with very brief football plays is about as interesting to me as watching paint dry. I wouldn’t mind watching a game now & then if they moved along like they did at my high school stadium.

        I watched some moments of FB last night while attending a party. Most of the time, we all stood around yacking & eating and only occassionally cast our eyes at the tv screen. I figure we didn’t miss much. I noticed those who were sitting and actually fully watching the game seemed more entranced by the commercials than the game, which I found quite creepy.

        Baseball, at least watching it on tv, is slower paced for sure, but at least there’s far fewer ads, although the announcers do give verbal “ads” in between the active parts of the game.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          We’ve watched the Superbowl a few times in NZ and in both instances the games were snoozers extraordinaire, and the commercials were local ones for Morie’s used cars, or a furniture store in ChCh, that sort of thing.

          The type of contests, where if it was an ordinary regular season game, you’d either switch channels or turn the tv off.

          It made me realize just how important the commercials are to making it work. Now in contrast when I was watching the World Series, there were commercials for AARP, which tells you just how old the audience is.

          Reply
    1. DJG

      dcblogger: Try reading the article. I am skeptical of Roiphe, but the article is an essay about human ambiguity with much serious self-reflection. At times, it is almost lyrical, for Roiphe.

      Writing her off without reading the article is exactly what the article is about.

      Reply
      1. Karen

        DJG, I agree with you that sometimes people with whom we generally disagree will surprise us with something worth reading. Unfortunately, I didn’t like this particular article at all, to the point that I almost don’t know where to start. So, in no particular order:

        I don’t think the #MeToo movement IS claiming that every story is equivalent to all the others in seriousness – that’s a clear straw man as far as I’m concerned.

        I don’t blame #MeToo for the disparate punishments that different men have suffered as a result of the stories people told about them. That’s squarely on the employers, some of whom seemed in such a hurry to dump the poor guy (e.g. Kevin Spacey for drunken homosexual passes made decades ago) it left me wondering what else he had done to anger them.

        The “presumption of innocence” is the wrong standard in every way. First, employment has always been “at will” in this country, with discrimination against the legally-protected classes (race, sex, national origin, etc.) the only exception. Second, our laws have always favored free speech and discouraged libel/slander lawsuits. The #MeToo movement is far from the only beneficiary of this slant, which gives each of us readers the precious freedom to hear others’ stories and decide for ourselves what to believe and do in response. The presumption of innocence was written into our Constitution by the Founders because of their strong worries about government power turning to tyranny, and was only ever intended to make it harder for a despotic government to put people in jail – or, worse, execute them.

        Over the last several years, I have read a lot about the differences between men and women. Research shows – fairly consistently – that while societies tend to presume men are more honest, it is actually women who are significantly more honest and less comfortable lying than men. There is also a connection between power and honesty – the more powerful someone feels, the easier he or she finds it to lie without feeling bad about it.

        The Nov 26, 2017 Medium article about the Emmett Till murder titled, “The Real Reason Why We Can’t Just Believe All Women,” shows us how to decide what to believe: ask yourself, what incentive does she have to lie about this? We will probably never know what was said between Carolyn Bryant and her husband (who does not sound like a nice person) that led him and his buddies to torture and murder poor Emmett Till. But Carolyn lied in court about Emmett afterwards, to help her husband avoid punishment. Probably more because she was deathly afraid of him than because she loved him, but whatever. Do any of the #MeToo women have a similar incentive to invent their stories? I haven’t come across any, but of course there are so many.

        Finally, I have read verbatim the stories of a few of these women who wrote more than just a couple of lines. To me, they all had the ring of truth. I especially empathised with Salma Hayek, who battled valiantly to get the movie that was her labor of love into theaters without having to do anything to give Harvey Weinstein cheap sexual thrills, and ended up losing that fight.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          “I don’t think the #MeToo movement IS claiming that every story is equivalent to all the others in seriousness – that’s a clear straw man as far as I’m concerned.”

          So why was Matt Damon severely roughed up for making exactly that point?

          You’re right that the real “moral panic” came from employers. However, it was publicly cultivated. Among other things, by the attack on Damon, which arguably was also very sexist. (“You aren’t allowed to say that because…”)

          What Spacey did was make a nuisance of himself on set, currently. But that was only mentioned once or twice. Not in a league with Weinstein, though.

          Again, the real limitation of #MeToo is that it’s JUST a hashtag; there’s no organization that can vet stories for, eg, plausibility, nor for severity. That’s looking at it separately from Weinstein or Spacey. The purpose was to show us all that we have a bigger problem than we realized. Mission accomplished. But it isn’t a way to deal with the problem, and it’s guaranteed to cause collateral damage.

          We should be thinking about ways to take the next step. Leaving it up to the movie stars, who at least tried, isn’t going to cut it.

          Reply
          1. Karen

            Minnie Driver’s reaction to Matt Damon’s comments was over the top, IMHO, but I don’t think he was harmed in any real way (e.g. loss of work), so hopefully that has blown over with no permanent damage done.

            I don’t agree that #MeToo being just a hashtag without curation is a limitation. I think it’s a strength. If some organization had tried to insert itself between the audience and the women’s stories, it would have damaged the credibility of the whole thing. Just my opinion, of course, but I feel strongly that this is true.

            I also disagree with your opinion that #MeToo isn’t a way to deal with the problem. It has done a wonderful job of waking men up to the reality that women HATE being treated disrespectfully even though we have been too timid until now to make that as clear as we should. It has made it safe for women to be honest. It’s our Rosa Parks moment. I hope it continues, and extends to the women whom men disdain for NOT being attractive.

            Glen Close got it right when she observed that the typical man’s first thought when a woman enters the room is, would I f*** her (if I could)? This is biology, but it is an aspect of biology that kills women’s efforts to be treated by men as human beings with actual brains.

            Reply
            1. Oregoncharles

              If “biology” indeed “kills women’s efforts to be treated by men as human beings with actual brains,” you just said it’s hopeless.

              Speaking just for myself, because I for one can’t read other people’s minds, I’ve never been sexually attracted to animals that were NOT ” human beings with actual brains.” It isn’t enough, but it’s certainly necessary.

              Reply
        2. bones

          Karen: “The “presumption of innocence” is the wrong standard in every way. First, employment has always been “at will” in this country, with discrimination against the legally-protected classes (race, sex, national origin, etc.) the only exception.”

          I’ve seen this argument a few times in online forums, and it mortifies me. The women quoted in the article literally argue that it is ok that innocent men lose their careers. That’s about the worse thing you can wish on someone short of death, wrongful imprisonment, or serious illness, and you, Karen (and I’m not sure I understand where you are going), appear to defend this on the grounds of the rights of the employers to fire workers “at will.” I don’t need to say anything beyond that, except, that we have a history of hysteria in this country, McCarthyism, the ritual abuse panic, etc., some like the latter perpetrated by well-meaning liberals.

          Reply
          1. Karen

            bones, there are so many unfair reasons American workers lose their jobs, or fail to be hired in the first place, or fail to be promoted.

            I personally don’t believe at-will employment is good for society, but I wonder about people who only question it in the context of prominent men suffering career setbacks because of #MeToo. Unless they’ve frittered their money away, these men can much more easily afford a career setback than most people can.

            I also wonder where you get your certainty that “innocent men” are losing their careers. Is it your belief that the women are lying? If so, please explain.

            Reply
          2. Karen

            OK, trying again to post a reply to bones (my first attempt seems to have disappeared into the ether without explanation):

            I personally do not think employment at will is good for society, but I question people who only object to it in the context of prominent men suffering career setbacks because of what women have posted about them on #MeToo. These men are much better positioned to handle career setbacks than most of the MANY other Americans who lose jobs through no fault of their own.

            You say “The women quoted in the article literally argue that it is ok that innocent men lose their careers.” I didn’t see that part; which women are these?

            Personally, I have not noticed any “innocent” men losing their careers, only some who were punished more severely than others for what seem to me to have been less-offensive behaviors. As I said already, those punishments are not the fault of the movement but rather of the employers or other entities who meted them out.

            Reply
            1. Yves Smith

              Help me. You haven’t been looking. I hardly get around and I know one person whose career WAS ruined by a false sexual harassment accusation. I know one other whose career was damaged.

              Your earlier claim that it’s only powerful men that are hurt this way is false. Moreover, you claim that’s all fine because they have enough money to ride it out. What do you think false accusations do to people’s friendships, their psyches and health? In your mind, the fact that someone is presumed to be wealthy is justification for him to be treated unjustly via being taken down in the press…because he’s male and males are bad guys because they run the power structure. Strip your logic down to its essence and that’s what you are arguing.

              Ten percent of rape accusations are false. That’s before you get to the fact that some of what are now being trotted out as “harassment” charges include things like saying a woman has a nice dress…literally all of once. And don’t tell me I’m exaggerating. I’ve read official personnel filings where there were single accusations by three separate women along those lines and that was it. Yet the guy was found to be a “sexual harasser”. The reality was he was calling stuff out on management and they didn’t like it. But the damage done by this sort of accusation is way worse than the usual vague “there were performance issues”.

              You have no concern whatsoever regarding the truth of these accusations. You go on the assumption that the women are always correct and don’t have vendettas or distorted perceptions. I know a third false accuser who was a Stage 4 alcoholic. That means her expected 5 year odds of survival were 20%. Her brain was visibly shrunken on an MRI. She’d started having sex early (she had her first abortion at 13), still had a pretty good body at the age of 50+ and was convinced every man she met was lusting to have sex with her, and her perceptions on that front were seriously warped (she accused gay men as well). And that’s before you get to the fact that she’d regularly take all of her clothes off in front of people…she even did that with me.

              You can take your kangaroo court elsewhere. I regularly discussed the importance of due process and how it is critical to having any sort of equity and protection for the weak. Your “oh he is probably guilty, spare me any presumption of innocence” is also the sort of thing that gave us millions of unnecessary foreclosures. The banks were also presumed to be right even when they had fabricated documents, created foreclosures by applying payments late and pyramiding fees…and when everyone but the mortgage servicer would have come out ahead with a mortgage modification (as in the servicers were screwing investors for their own convenience and profit too).

              Women have suffered a lot of injustice, but you are down with ruining innocent men for the cause. I’m appalled by your attitude.

              Reply
    2. Katniss Everdeen

      So, maybe you can help me out here.

      I have absolutely no idea who this author is, and had no idea that this article was much anticipated. But I read the whole thing, and I think it makes good sense. It does, in fact, represent my own feelings, generally, on this issue, and the feelings of those with whom I’ve discussed it.

      I looked the author up on Wikipedia–she is the daughter of people of whom I’ve never heard, married and divorced someone of whom I’ve never heard, has written books I’ve never read and is a single mother. She is a “feminist.”

      But she made sense here. Can you please tell me why this link is a “really?” What has this woman done that should lead me to discount what I thought was reasonable, cogent commentary?

      PS. I also think Pat Buchanan has a way of making sense as well.

      Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          I don’t think you read it.

          I’ve seen this kind of thing before – look up Rene Denfeld, “The New Victorians.” 20 family blogging years ago. She was viciously attacked, too, but her critique is absolutely feminist. And now it’s all coming back.

          We’re seeing a backlash against feminism itself, disguised as “more-feminist-than-thou,” and based on a very real problem we failed to deal with. It’s deeply alarming.

          I guess I’ll put it here: my reaction to Roiphe’s article, mainly to some of the things she describes, was, to put it lightly, emotional. But rather than go into those details, I’ll raise a bigger question:

          Who’s going to stand up for the libertine 60’s? We changed the world and created the opening for ALL the liberation movements, after Civil Rights, which was the model. And Women’s Liberation, which I remember vividly, was at least partly about women getting to enjoy sex and to be just as unapologetically sexual as men were. Apparently there are regrets.

          I think Neo-Victorianism is the last thing women need. And as Yves has been saying, if you actually establish that accusations alone are enough to ruin someone’s life, that WILL come back to bite you.

          Reply
          1. JTFaraday

            Part of what you are seeing here is a revolt against the compulsory oversexualization of women, in general.** Younger women bear the brunt of this and they know this and they also know they’re only young for so long. There is a HUGE slant against being able to enjoy yourself on your own terms even when you’re young. Sticking up for the libertine (not to say libertarian) 60s doesn’t cut it.

            In the early aughts I started to feel like the only time young women writers were allowed to speak was when they were cheer leading for the “F me” feminism. Who was editing these young women? With the explosion of on-line writing since, that has changed and the writing is more diverse both on this topic (and in terms of there being a greater diversity of topics women are addressing).

            Alongside this, I have been watching a growing anger about the ways women are treated in public. There has been much whining here about how the #metoo doesn’t include “working class women” but I have read plenty of articles that described the way women have found themselves being treated when serving the male public, in ordinary public places you likely frequent yourself.

            No one wants men to be falsely accused, but for the love of God, some men definitely protest too much. As far as I know, there is no sanctuary anyone can assume with respect to sex in the workplace. You can just as easily run into trouble with this if you are a woman as if you are a man. In fact, blaming the woman and making her pay the price is more or less de rigueur.

            ** and this, along with the nausea inducing protests, is some of the reason for the feeling of general accusation that is in the air.

            Reply
      1. UserFriendly

        There was a rumor that she was going to out the author of the shitty media men list so all the #feminists threw a shit fit and tried to get the story killed. They offered money for people at Harpers to kill it. Then the author of the list just decided to out herself and explained why. But the #feminists still hate her.

        Reply
        1. JTFaraday

          Due to an ill advised book she wrote in her mid twenties, Katie Roiphe is viewed as a rape apologist who is called upon when someone wants women to shut up. She has no credibility.

          Reply
    3. CalypsoFacto

      From the link:

      A couple of days after my friend made this potentially outsized claim, Josephine Livingstone issued a fresh dictum in The New Republic: “You probably shouldn’t kiss anybody without asking.” She insists that everyone, not just college students, must now obtain verbal permission; all those ways you used to think you could tell whether someone wanted to kiss you six months ago no longer matter: “The world has changed, and affirmative consent is now the standard.” Note the friendly yet threatening tone of a low-level secret policeman in a new totalitarian state.

      It’s worth reading. Some of those Pat Buchanan links are pretty good too, to my eternal consternation.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        And who made Josephine Livingstone queen?

        1) This sort of thing makes dating into even more of a minefield, even more inhuman. It’s bad enough.

        2) I don’t think women are going to like the new order any more than men, because the ambiguity is a test. That’s what courtship rituals always are. Actually, making everything explicit probably favors men.

        3) They’re trying to tell human beings how to do sex. Is that going to fly?

        I realize I’m playing the old fogy here. At the least, it’s an interesting experiment.

        Reply
        1. CalypsoFacto

          I found the comments about power more interesting than the supposed terms of our brave new world; I agree that J. Livingstone isn’t the arbiter of this particular ‘conversation’.

          Note the friendly yet threatening tone of a low-level secret policeman in a new totalitarian state.

          Once someone has been socially purged, their work can never be seen in the same light. Roiphe was harangued by the Twitter mob for the perception of this essay before it was even released, and judged as being an enemy of women for daring to write it (a commenter alludes to this upthread). This is a way of delegitimizing her work without critically assessing the the content and I am the most afraid of this dynamic in the increasingly fractured Twitter mob mentality of our public discourse.

          Reply
    4. Mark Alexander

      I don’t know who Roiphe is, but the article made a lot sense to me. Judging from the comments she quotes early on, she’s apparently one of those writers that right-thinking liberals shouldn’t be reading.

      I ran into this sort of disdain from two neighbors/friends who are liberal academics (one teaches Marxist economy). They both expressed horror when they learned that my wife and I (we are both well to the left of Sanders) were reading “Hillbilly Elegy”. I seriously doubt that our friends had tried to read it. Yes, the book goes all Horatio Alger at the end, but my wife, who taught school in Harlan County, Kentucky for a couple of years, says that the book’s observations about life in that region are pretty good. Yet we are not supposed to be reading this heretical tract; perhaps The Nation has told us not to?

      I’m grateful to NC for posting links to articles that I would have otherwise never noticed. Another example is the regular stuff from American Conservative. Those folks are surprisingly sensible on a lot of issues.

      Reply
    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      Buchanan is a hell of a lot better on the empire than most liberal Democrats. And if you want to understand your opponents, you have to read them, even lizard-like reprobates like Buchanan.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth Burton

        And if you want to understand your opponents, you have to read them, even lizard-like reprobates like Buchanan.

        Which is why I find the rabid movement to block alt-right gurus from speaking in public and remove them from social media and the internet rather frightening. First, it feeds into that schoolyard morality someone mentioned earlier in Comments on another topic, and which I have observed seems to be the norm in way too many people. “We’re the pretty girls/jocks/whatever, and we decide what’s right and what’s wrong.” And anyone who doesn’t agree is an outcast. Second, how does it serve anything to drive the “enemy” underground where the only source we have is law enforcement agencies who are notoriously sloppy with the truth?

        Of course women lie about sexual assault. But not as often as men lie about their sexual conquests. Which are all allegedly with eager partners because very few men, at least the ones I’ve known, would openly accept someone bragging about actual rape. Yet I’m willing to wager that men would believe a claim of rape made by one of their gender more often than women who report sexual assault and/or abuse are believed.

        The other problem is—none of what I just said is relevant. Sexual assault isn’t about sex, yet every time the subject arises that’s what it becomes within hours. Those who try to make the point it’s actually about power and dominance are buried under delicately salacious stories of sex and the inevitable de-evolution of the subject to what women should and shouldn’t wear or should or shouldn’t go or “Can we even talk to women now?”

        As near as I can tell, there is no interest whatsoever in doing anything about the underlying power inequities that are the basis for sexual assault. It’s so much easier to turn the whole thing into a morality play and pretend that will solve anything.

        Reply
        1. JohnnyGL

          To paraphrase Stokley Carmichael….

          “If a man wants to rape me, that’s his problem. If he’s got the power to rape me, that’s my problem. It’s not a question of attitude, it’s a question of power.”

          Not a lot of people in the media want to talk much about power.

          Reply
        2. Plenue

          “Second, how does it serve anything to drive the “enemy” underground where the only source we have is law enforcement agencies who are notoriously sloppy with the truth?”

          To get liberals to understand the problems with this you would have to get them to engage in deeper, more systematic thinking. Which they refuse to to. They also refuse to engage in thinking about things like political economy, and how they’ve left a vacuum in the working class that the right (‘alt’ and otherwise) has rushed to fill.

          The more I observe and interact with Social Justice Warrior types, the more I’ve come to outright loathe them. At least with conservatives they’re pretty upfront about how retrograde they are. Whereas liberals are convinced that they’re progressive and caring and righteous. Anyone who tries to critique them from the left is an ’emoprog’ who is just ‘making excuses for bigotry’.

          The sole genuinely left-wing (in this case, anarchist) idea they will spend any time engaging with is to debate whether or not it’s okay to punch a Nazi. Because of course they think this is a pressing, existential concern. They’ve completely bought into the Democratic Party narrative that Trump is a fascist threat to The Republic™, being as ignorant of history and political philosophy as they are of the real dynamics of modern America. The reality that whatever its many problems, the United States isn’t Weimar Germany, is something they can’t understand.

          The thinking that they should ban the ‘alt-right’ is really just the tip of the iceberg. Recently I observed someone glibly declare that racists deserve to die penniless and alone. A comment which was of course enthusiastically up-voted. At least conservatives are blatant and unapologetic about materially depriving the ‘undeserving’.

          Reply
  10. perpetualWAR

    Scotland’s bank employees forging documents.

    Not to worry. I’m certain their judiciary will follow lock-step with ours: and they will issue rulings legitimizing forgery, just as ours has.

    “Robo-signed” document used in connection with kicking out the homeowner? Why YES, I will opine very quickly that an order of foreclosure is warranted. -Every Slimey Judge in America (which means all of them)

    Reply
  11. Eureka Springs

    Leon Panetta, former CIA director: “I believe it creates a constitutional crisis when the president distrusts the justice department and the FBI.”

    Is Panetta rehearsing for a comedy special on HBO?

    Reply
    1. Fraibert

      We have very interesting notions of “constitutional crisis” among our elite.

      There’s no constitutional crisis from illegal spying on the citizenry.

      None from illegal and clearly unconstitutional claims of the right of the executive to kill any citizen suspected of terrorism.

      We know that even civil servants outright lying to their bosses isn’t going to create a constitutional crisis. After all, they got away with lying to the Secretary of the VA in face-to-face meetings (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/shinseki-apologizes-for-va-health-care-scandal/2014/05/30/e605885a-e7f0-11e3-8f90-73e071f3d637_story.html?utm_term=.5b8b1ffa8091).

      Nor is invoking the Privilege against Self-Incrimination in front of a Congressional inquiry convened to investigate the potential targeting of tea party groups for disfavorable regulatory treatment a constitutional crisis (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/lois-lerner-pleads-the-fifth-again-doesnt-testify-on-irs-targeting/).

      Etc.

      Even if Mr. Brennan thinks a “constitutional crisis” only arises when the government and its employees are no longer trusted, too bad there are good reasons for that distrust.

      Reply
    2. RUKidding

      The whole entire situation stinks to high heaven. Panetta is just playing his role in the ongoing Kabuki Show of Big Oligarch v. Big Oligarch. Who is wearing the white hat v. who is wearing the black hat is debateable and changes regularly.

      What a buncha b.s.

      Reply
      1. perpetualWAR

        I would like to remind everyone of the quote by Scarmucci from his Vanity Fair interview (linked a few days ago on NC).

        “I want you to imagine the worst person that you’ve met on Wall Street, the most ruthless and the most diabolical,” he told me. “That’s the best person in Washington. That’s the Eagle Scout of Washington.”
        -Scarmucci

        During my fight with the financial institutions, I found exactly the same thing. Rather than my disgust growing toward Wall Street (and my disgust is BAD with that crew) my growing disgust actually came from interactions with our “government” regarding the vile humans that occupy elected offices. I hate those in government more than those on Wall Street. Didn’t think that possible.

        Reply
  12. allan

    IATA warns airlines headed for crisis on rising infrastructure costs [Reuters]

    Surely this calls for more privatization, so that the broom of the market can reduce costs by
    sweeping away the cobwebs of statist dead weight … oh, never mind …

    … “We are headed for a crisis… Infrastructure in general is not being built fast enough to meet growing demand,” Alexandre de Juniac, CEO General of IATA, an airline industry lobby group, told a conference on Monday ahead of the Singapore Airshow.

    He said airport privatization is among major reasons driving cost rises when the industry needs affordable infrastructure to accommodate capacity increases.

    “Our members are very frustrated with the current state of privatized airports. By all means invite private sector expertise to bring commercial discipline and a customer service focus to airport management. But our view is that the ownership is best left in public hands,” de Juniac said. …

    Reply
  13. The Rev Kev

    Commentary: To make peace in the Middle East, focus first on water

    Sounds about right. There is a good article at https://electronicintifada.net/content/shebaa-farms-real-issue-water/8438 which explains that Israel occupies the Sheeba Farms as they need the fresh water as their own water supply is falling. If 70% of Israel’s drinking water is produced through desalinization, then that must mean that a boat load of energy is used each and every year to accomplish this. That must put a strain on their economy.
    Furthermore, Israel occupied Lebanon for some 20 years up to the Litani river where diversion tunnels were planned to transport the low-salinity water to Israel but were eventually forced out. Israel again tried for a claim on the Litani river in the 2006 invasion when Netanyahu recklessly sent airborne troops to the Litani river area but they were isolated and had to be pulled back at the end of the war. Just from these two examples you can see it is usually about water. Who has it and who is strong enough to defend it.

    Reply
    1. visitor

      If 70% of Israel’s drinking water is produced through desalinization, then that must mean that a boat load of energy is used each and every year to accomplish this.

      Which in turn explains why Israel has been trying to dispossess Palestinians, Lebanese and Syrians from their claims on the large offshore gas fields in the Mediterranean.

      Reply
    2. Wukchumni

      It was just beginning to get really interesting in the midst of our 5 year drought in California, for unlike money that can be created out of thin air on a keypad, the translucent liquid doesn’t play that game.

      An acre foot of water that was worth $100-200 when we were flush, was bringing as much as $2700, if a farmer had to make a decision to let his orchard die or pay way too much for water to keep it alive.

      One town called Terra Bella had no groundwater resources to tap into like most every just about every other farm in the Central Valley, and a great amount of citrus was irrigated with pricey water in 2014, but to no avail as the drought kept on keeping on, and vast amounts of orchards were left to wither where they stood, like so much upright firewood.

      Reply
    3. Alex

      have you tried exploring the issue a little bit at least before writing that?
      It’s not that hard to find how much a m3 of desalinated water costs there and whether it’s a strain on the economy. Also the falling supply doesn’t square out with 70% of desalinated water share, whereas 20 years ago it was 0%.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        From Google: “The installed cost of desalination plants is approximately $1m for every 1,000 cubic meters per day of installed capacity. Therefore, a large scale desalination plant serving 300,000 people typically costs in the region of $100 million. The costs of infrastructure to distribute water must be added to this.” And note that the population of Israel is about 8,812,300 people. You do desalination when you can’t get access to bulk water supplies.
        Also, energy in Israel mostly comes from hydrocarbons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_Israel). Remember when the Russians bombed all those ISIS oil truck convoys after reporting it at the UN? Just where so you think the final delivery destination was for most of that oil? Now Israel is threatening to destroy Lebanon because of a dispute with off-shore gas supplies as Israel really needs those gas fields to ensure its energy needs.

        Reply
  14. Carolinian

    This is interesting. The writer worked for years at an NGO in Russia.

    It is astounding to me how much progress Russia has made in the past 14 years since an unknown man with no experience walked into Russia’s presidency and took over a country that was flat on its belly.

    So why do our leaders and media demean and demonize Putin and Russia???

    Like Lady MacBeth, do they protest too much?

    Psychologists tell us that people (and countries?) project off on others what they don’t want to face in themselves. Others carry our “shadow” when we refuse to own it. We confer on others the very traits that we are horrified to acknowledge in ourselves.

    https://off-guardian.org/2018/01/18/is-putin-incorruptible/

    The gist is that Putin has tolerated some corruption in others as long as they paid their taxes and stayed loyal to Russia but that there’s little credible evidence of his own corruption. And even if that’s not true it surely is true that Putin, a lawyer, by training, is no dummy. If only we could say the same of our politicians, journalists, president.

    Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      Acid commentary from an NYT camp follower of Putin’s campaign:

      Mr. Putin, seeking his fourth presidential term after 18 years as the most powerful man in Russia, does not really need to campaign, and appears to find the activity distasteful. Why, his attitude seems to be, after all that he has done for Russia, should he have to ask people for their votes?

      Moreover, he is the certain winner among a field expected to contain eight candidates, particularly since his most potent potential adversary, the anticorruption critic Aleksei A. Navalny, was barred from the race.

      The Kremlin, however, wants to stoke turnout and to present a democratic face. Hence Mr. Putin’s campaign stops, each meant to provide television footage that signals something about his achievements.

      The foreign press, rarely allowed close to Mr. Putin, is invited along too, so that reports of an “election” in Russia will reach outside the border.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/02/world/europe/putin-presidential-campaign-russia.html

      Everybody knows that real “elections” only happen here in the Homeland, where we’ve voted for the Depublicrat of our choice for 150 years.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Supposedly the West’s great opposition hope had a poll rating of 5 or 10 percent while Putin still hovers in the 80s. If Putin is an evil dictator he seems to be the evil dictator that the majority of the Russian people want. And if that’s not true please show us the evidence NYT.

        Assuming it’s any of our business to begin with.

        Reply
        1. Plenue

          In my experience American’s have literally no understanding that Western-aligned, Liberal politics has been utterly discredited in Russia. I’m sure to some degree such parties are genuinely suppressed and persecuted, and I’m sure there’s state propaganda against them. But the main reason they have no public support is because the last time they were in charge the result was what can only be described as an outright war on the citizens of Russia, complete with millions of premature deaths.

          It’s also an extreme example of what happens when you try and tie progressive social policies to regressive economic ones. Not only do you ultimately lose, but you can engender backlash by association. Amid all the awful neoliberal economics these parties also have genuinely worthwhile positions, like gay rights. But now those social causes are forever associated with ‘greedy hypocrites who destroyed our chance at social democracy’. Not a good look.

          Reply
      2. Lynne

        Except for the fourth term line, isn’t it ironic that one could substitute Clinton for Putin and the US for Russia in the above quote without raising eyebrows?

        Reply
      3. Katsue

        There’s no way Navalny was Putin’s most powerful potential adversary as long as the Russian Communist Party is still a legal entity that can put forward candidates for election.

        Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      I’ve no idea if he is personally corrupt – I suspect not, because if there was an iota of real evidence it would be splashed repeatedly around the world media – but its undeniable that he has been an enormously skilled leader for Russia. I don’t believe he has any true democratic instincts, but given the enormous mess left by Yeltsin and the pressures on so many fronts, just to have held Russia together is an enormous achievement. I think history will be much kinder to him than most contemporary commentators. The determination of so much of the media (including the supposedly left wing media) to portray him as an ogre while, for example, they fawn over the likes of MbS in Saudi Arabia is revolting.

      Reply
      1. Anonylisa

        Yea, i hear you. Talking to some Democrats that i know about Putin…They think he is an evil murderer. Beyond corrupt. A totally immoral, vile, KGB scumbag. Like some kind of Bond villain. There is no reasoning with these folks either. MSNBC says he is evil. So he is.

        I ask them, how different is he really from any other powerful leader in this world? Obama murdered how many with drones? How about all those Bush wars? How many people do our righteous leaders kill every day with no due process? Trump is doing it too.

        They say its different. I ask how is it different, and they get angry and frustrated. They cant understand why i dont see it.

        Ugh

        Reply
        1. RUKidding

          Exactly! I hear it all the time from my lefty friends, although let’s get real here: it was only a little while ago that those on the right were dissing Putin in similar terms. Oh Putin is a murderer! Oh Putin is a dictator! Oh Putin has done terrible terrrible really bad horrid things.

          Possibly all is true. How is he THAT different from any of our recent POTUS’s, all of whom have a ton of blood on their hands.

          The chimera of so-called “democracy” in this country is very very thin and fragile.

          Putin has some definite negative points, particularly in regard to LGBT issues/people, but how much worse is he than any of our Oligarchs who are, essentially, running this country… into the ground??

          Reply
          1. polecat

            It’s amusing, and frightening at the same time, how so many ‘supposed’ liberal democrats have done such a complete 180° turn, politically ..

            Why … it’s as if they all ‘woke’ up one fine morning, poised and really to point and hurl, unearthly screams at whoever is not one-with-the-body … while their other selves got disposed with the trash !

            Reply
            1. integer

              It’s cold, lonely, and confusing to stray from the death grip loving embrace of the NYT, WaPo, CNN, MSNBC, etc.

              Reply
      2. dcblogger

        Putin is notoriously corrupt even on Russian standards. The Panama Papers documented this chapter and verse. Every Russian journalist who goes after him in a serious way winds up dead. Mark Ames and Yasha Levine had to leave Russia because of their reporting. Putin is deadly. It is possible to believe that the Russia gate thing is over hyped and that Putin is one ugly customer.

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          Putin was not mentioned once in the Panama Papers, and nor was any of his direct family. Lots of associates of his were on the list as you would expect given the nature of Russia, but despite the best efforts of the media to make a link there was no smoking gun to indicate that he or his direct family have any hidden money off-shore.

          But certainly yes, he has blood on his hands.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            I found it telling of the zeitgeist that when the Panama papers came out, Putin’s photo was on the front page – precisely the one man who was not in those papers at all. Funny that. Is he a killer? Probably, with his personally supervised Disposition Matrix aka Kill List. No wait, that was Obama.
            They say that you can judge a person by the quality of their enemies. Let’s take a look at Putin’s enemies. Neocons, Jihadists, terrorists, neoliberals, the deep state, the Washington Consensus, Atlantic-orientated oligarchs, John McCain, the Pentagon, Wall Street, neonazis, and a host of bit players. They are even having their own meeting right now in New York (https://www.gq.com/story/putincon-nyc).
            What else can you say?

            Reply
            1. witters

              “Let’s take a look at Putin’s enemies. Neocons, Jihadists, terrorists, neoliberals, the deep state, the Washington Consensus, Atlantic-orientated oligarchs, John McCain, the Pentagon, Wall Street, neonazis, and…” dcblogger.

              Reply
      3. FluffytheObeseCat

        Given how little has yet been revealed about most of the wealthiest from leaks like the Panama and Paradise Papers, I’m unsure why you see it this way. The most powerful rarely face repercussions for wealth-theft or tax evasion. They seem to have Teflon carapaces; even when documentation reaches the media, nothing ever seems to stick. What they really have IMHO, is hired PR and oppo teams, like the one employed by Weinstein right before his thorough unmasking late last year. Neat little teams of ex-military and ex-spy service personnel, working in concert with public relations specialists. These teams are devoted to intimidating publishers out of covering or highlighting key releases, hiding supporting data, and threatening the least powerful witnesses into silence on key matters.

        It amazes me how much actually does get published, and then ignored. Assiduously ignored. By the authorities as well as the better funded elements of the English language media. It seems beyond accidental.

        Reply
        1. blennylips

          It seems beyond accidental.

          Ya think?

          “Bought Journalists”, in Udo Ulfkotte’s sense are paid to handle it exactly as they are handling it now.

          https://off-guardian.org/2018/01/19/bought-journalists-an-introduction-to-ulfkottes-censored-book/

          Is active suppression in play here?

          An English translation of the full title of the work reads: Bought Journalists: how politicians, secret agencies and high finance steer Germany’s mass media. First published just over three years ago, it is still available from the publisher http://www.kopp-verlag.de. My copy shows the title went through four printings in the two months after publication in October 2014. It is flagged by the publisher as a ‘Spiegel bestseller’.

          Is there a clear reason why a best-seller in German on a topic of deep concern to many Anglophone readers would not also sell well in an English edition?

          Reply
  15. Summer

    Yesterday, Dodge used parts of an MLK speech in its Super Bowl ad.

    I pulled another excerpt from the very same speech that you’ll never hear on any ad:
    http://kingencyclopedia.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/documentsentry/doc_the_drum_major_instinct/

    “Now the presence of this instinct explains why we are so often taken by advertisers. You know, those gentlemen of massive verbal persuasion. And they have a way of saying things to you that kind of gets you into buying. In order to be a man of distinction, you must drink this whiskey. In order to make your neighbors envious, you must drive this type of car. (Make it plain) In order to be lovely to love you must wear this kind of lipstick or this kind of perfume. And you know, before you know it, you’re just buying that stuff. (Yes) That’s the way the advertisers do it.

    I got a letter the other day, and it was a new magazine coming out. And it opened up, “Dear Dr. King: As you know, you are on many mailing lists. And you are categorized as highly intelligent, progressive, a lover of the arts and the sciences, and I know you will want to read what I have to say.” Of course I did. After you said all of that and explained me so exactly, of course I wanted to read it. [laughter]…”

    ——
    Just to be clear: Revolutions and rebellions will not be hosted on corporate platforms.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      There was a similar saga 4 years ago during a Chrysler SB tv commercial featuring Bob Dylan’s “Things Have Changed”, in that no lyrics are ever sung, only the staccato beat for what appears to be an upbeat positive ad, and here’s some of the lyrics to the ditty:

      Standing on the gallows with my head in a noose
      Any minute now I’m expecting all hell to break loose

      People are crazy and times are strange
      I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range
      I used to care, but things have changed

      I’ve been walking forty miles of bad road
      If the Bible is right, the world will explode
      I’ve been trying to get as far away from myself as I can
      Some things are too hot to touch
      The human mind can only stand so much
      You can’t win with a losing hand

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zd18am6dc0Y

      Reply
    2. Baby Gerald

      My jaw dropped when I saw that commercial. To insert images of marching marines and a soldier returning to an airport hug from his daughter as MLK’s voice is talking about service in his speech from 1968– when he was openly condemning our military and its criminal adventure in Vietnam to the point that it most likely got him killed– seemed to me the ultimate insult to the man and his legacy.

      I had to call my brother to share my disgust and found that his girlfriend had just exposed to him the same reaction as mine.

      The automobile site Jalopnik covered this quite well, quoting the sections omitted:

      https://jalopnik.com/heres-where-that-ram-ad-really-got-martin-luther-king-j-1822724269/amp

      Definitely a new low for a low art.

      Reply
  16. L

    Apropos of the FBI Hand Wringing, 5 minutes after Trump released the memo I received a fundraising pitch from the DCCC: Trump Disobeys the FBI!. Hyperventalating aside imagine the concept that Obama was expected to “obey” the FBI. or Clinton?

    On a different note Marcy Wheeler over at Emptywheel has a nice breakdown of the likely harms from this (The Harm Releasing the Nunes Memo Caused ). It is intriguing to note that most of them really are harms to the case rather than harms to the Republic as a whole.

    Reply
  17. Bittercup

    A little serendipity with the timing of the Roiphe piece — in yesterday’s links, UserFriendly posted a link to a reddit thread discussing Emmett Rensin’s inclusion on the Shitty Men list, and the top-voted comment on it is… kind of a perfect illustration of exactly what she’s talking about.

    Reply
  18. a different chris

    Re the NFL:

    >and in ways that the league might not fully feel for generations.

    I don’t believe this. I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but I think the flip side of “thing can stay crazy longer than you could ever believe” is that once the end comes, it comes with a bang.

    Not saying they will go away, but in 10 years the piper will demand payment and the NFL will radically change. They have enough money to do that, but not even close to enough to brazen it out.

    Reply
  19. fresno dan

    Downward Spiral The Baffler (Henry Moon Pie).

    The NFL is selective and self-serving and alternately priggish and thuggish in how it goes about maintaining its strange brand, but it is always singular. Every mania of our broader moment, from those grandiose delusions to the million points of cheesy graft, is reflected in the NFL itself. In retrospect, it was inevitable that the NFL would come into conflict with President Trump—when it comes to honking overdetermined proxies for Maximum America, there can be only one.

    So there are the flyovers and the performative patriotism, but there is also the fact that the NFL was, for years, secretly billing the Pentagon for all those color guards and Hometown Hero promotions. And it’s maybe especially the fact that the commissioner’s office expressed shocked dismay upon the exposure last year of all of this and contritely returned a small percentage of the money the teams had received.

    ====================================================
    I didn’t want to post this….I really didn’t. Well, that’s a lie. But you force me to…..

    http://www.gocomics.com/pearlsbeforeswine/2015/02/01

    Reply
    1. integer

      While distasteful to watch, this circling of the wagons is a positive sign imo, as it indicates that they know the only defense they have left is to make it politically unviable for Trump to take action against them. It also provides a pretty clear picture of who is aligned with who, in case it wasn’t already obvious, and my adventures around the web indicate a significant increase in the number of people who now know what is really going on. Needless to say, the f[amily blogg]ing liberal cohort are currently acting as a bulwark for the unelected and corrupted power structures of the US. Shame on them. Seriously.

      Reply
  20. DJG

    The Legatum article at Icelog is definitely worth a read. First, and as I suspected from earlier links given by Lambert and Yves, Shanker Singham is toxic. Second, the writer of Icelog has marshalled facts extraordinarily well: She gives a portrait of how thoroughly corrupt the Anglo-American elites are in their echo chamber that is ankle deep in dollars and pounds.

    Reply
  21. JEHR

    The program, Ideas, on the CBC discusses the findings of climate scientists and the reactions of others to their research. At the 25.49 spot on the recording is the audio of 50,000 years of climate data, where CO2 emissions have been converted to a musical score by Chris Shafe (sp?). It is the scariest thing I have every heard as it describes the earth’s angry and frightening response to what we call climate change. It is titled “Are We F–ked? Decoding the resistance to climate change.”

    I hope you will listen.

    Reply
  22. Altandmain

    On the Amtrak crash, it seems that the US is struggling to maintain basic infrastructure and keep the wheels of society functioning.

    Potholes that go unfilled for very long periods of time, lead water poisoning, bridges in desperate need of repair, etc. It seems like the descent to the developing world status is accelerating.


    Apparently Trump hasn’t got the memo yet about austerity.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/donald-trump-nhs-not-working-broke-uk-universal-healthcare-attack-democrats-twitter-a8195066.html

    On the note of the NHS – perhaps some British NCers can chime in here, but outside of the top 10 percent or so in the upper middle class and aristocracy, why on earth is anyone supporting the Tories?

    The NHS is or I should say was a point of national pride, a part of what it meant to be British.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      “Potholes that go unfilled for very long periods of time, lead water poisoning, bridges in desperate need of repair, etc. It seems like the descent to the developing world status is accelerating.”

      We were in Winslow Arizona some years back, and the main street in the old section of town had reverted to dirt from asphalt previously. I’ve never seen that anywhere else in the country for a town of it’s size.

      Reply
    2. djrichard

      You have to wonder if somebody within the WH conflated a bs story on NHS, simply as a short-cut to propagandize Trump on the need to not let universal healthcare happen in the US. But then Trump took it further, thinking if the messaging is good enough for him, then it should be good enough for public consumption too. Oops.

      Or Trump dreamed this view of the universal healthcare all up on his own with his own read of the media. Hard to tell.

      Either way though, I think Trump just got an education on NHS. It will be interesting if wants to use it as a learning opportunity.

      If so, it’s an interesting way for a president to get outside his bubble. Simply tweet what he thinks is going on out there and see what kind of feedback he gets.

      In a way, not all that different than us posting our thoughts on how we think the dots of reality connect. Of course, we’re looking for somebody to convince us otherwise. Whereas I don’t think Trump is. Still, I don’t think Trump is the type of personality to simply send his tweets into the void simply to ignore what happens to them.

      Reply
  23. duffolonious

    “Spectre/Meltdown Pits Transparency Against Liability: Which is More Important to You?”
    https://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=5127

    The blog post notes that FOSS has no warranty, but doing that with hardware …

    The gentleman with whom I was debating the disclosure of pre-boot code adamantly held that it was not commercially viable to share the pre-boot code. I didn’t understand his point until I witnessed open-source activists en masse demanding their pound of flesh for Intel’s mistakes.

    As engineers, we should know better: no complex system is perfect. We’ve all shipped bugs, yet when it comes to buying our own hardware, we individually convince ourselves that perfection is a reasonable standard.

    Background: this Bunnie guy did hardware modding allowing Linux to run on the original X-box. Also works (worked?) on building a laptop with open hardware/firmware (the kind the super-paranoid should use). https://www.crowdsupply.com/sutajio-kosagi/novena or https://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?cat=28

    Reply
  24. Jessica

    The piece by Katie Roiphe carefully considers precisely the nuances that mass Twitter and Facebook discussions can not.
    To the extent that Metoo occurs on Twitter and Facebook, it will, like any other mass discussion in such media, simplify and run toward emotional extremes. The real work of making things better is happening in smaller, more private discussions that have a place for nuance and compassion.
    Katie Roiphe’s piece gives glimpses into those discussions.

    Reply
  25. Jessica

    Concerning yet another Amtrak crash, it is not only physical infrastructure that is being run into the ground and not only in America.
    I am convinced that if there were a way to accurately measure social trust, America has been running huge deficits. .
    This loss of the ability to nurture the basic physical and social structure of society suggests that we may no longer have effective ruling elites. Given the amount of well paid, well credentialed talent that is devoted to obscuring the actual workings of power in society, this would become visible only slowly and indirectly.

    Reply
  26. cnchal

    In today’s links there are two articles about Amazon, and in the second article “What Amazon Does to Poor Cities The Atlantic” is a link to an inside account of what it is like to be an Amazon warehouse employee, which is detailed and really incredible.

    Read this and weep, or scream.

    http://amazonemancipatory.com/ by John Burgett

    Here is the last page, titled “Wrap it Up”

    Amazon has created of itself an international proving ground for workforce manipulation and experimentation, testing the limits of human beings as a technical tool. Everyone who cares about what the US labor landscape is going to look like over the next 5-15 years should be paying attention to this and chiming in. This is important for private and public policymakers and the culture at large.

    Using methods and strategies traditionally associated with authoritative control systems, not hourly wage employers, Amazon is challenging limits of culturally acceptable labor control methods in the United States. To what avail? Allegiance is low, morale is low, turnover is high, submission is high, passive resignation is high. The strategy fails and wins at the same time.

    The company has introduced rhetorical strategies to superficially temper its inexorable drive for production efficiency, to normalize deceptive and manipulative labor practices–pushing the boundaries of regressive labor policies using modern technology and information systems. I see this as a danger to the current workforce, but even more so for the next two generations if these policies are reified into acceptable practice.

    Amazon acts upon its workforce with impunity, necessitating intervention by way of labor organization, public scrutiny at the State and Federal levels, and cultural censure. Amazon, at least in the United States, might have created a proving ground for the resurgence of unions’ ability to protect employee citizens between 2017 and 2020.

    I can only conclude that these people are like rats in a demonic Jeff Bezos experiment, and the tech article near the top of links, “Why you cannot quit Amazon Prime — even if maybe you should WaPo (Kokuanani). WaPo?” makes me realize Prime members are just different rats in the same experiment. Also, the governments that hand over all that money to put a satanic mill in their midst are just bigger rats and part of the same experiment, and the financial system that rewards Amazon with an absurd stawk price is the biggest rat of them all.

    Reply
  27. Jeff N

    That Illinois/pension article seems a bit shady… It talks about state workers making over $100k, and having raised our real estate taxes 32%. The state of IL isn’t the only tax’or of our real estate taxes (mine are mostly county, city, etc.), and my real estate taxes didn’t “go up 32%”.

    Reply
  28. Alex

    Officials will use new unexplained wealth orders (UWOs) – which came into effect last week – to seize suspicious assets until they have been properly accounted for.

    This reminds me of the recent news about Rotterdam police seizing too expensive stuff from those who can’t prove it’s legit

    But seriously, I’m really happy that these guys who brought their loot to London will suffer (at least some of them)

    Reply
  29. Angry Panda

    Re: WaPo Amazon Prime story.

    The non-WaPo (X articles per month, etc.) version was reposted by the Seattle Times, by the way (https://www.seattletimes.com/business/why-you-cannot-quit-amazon-prime-even-if-maybe-you-should/).

    A short summation would be something like this – Amazon Prime is an amazing service with very happy customers, and Amazon-the-company did an excellent job in finding the psychological key to a successful service…BUT you end up paying slightly more money than buying things from Walmart.com and maybe do not see all the products available on the Internet, BUT STILL it is such a convenient service…

    …in other words, yes, there are some words of criticism – specifically inre: you don’t buy the cheapest products (vs. Walmart), you don’t see some competitor products, and you never recoup the shipping savings with your membership fee. Half the words, however – shockingly, for a WaPo piece, I know – are, shall we say, highly complimentary of Prime specifically and of Amazon in general.

    Nowhere are issues like data privacy or data security mentioned, and that by itself – before getting to all other issues with Amazon and Prime – from a technology reporter – pretty much tells you the shape of things.

    Reply
  30. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    State Dept Selling Arms:
    I think I preferred it when there was still a veneer of “diplomacy” at State, and the arms deals greased by Clinton Foundation “donations” took place behind the scenes.

    But now that State Department officials are out in the open with their blood/money lusting it raises a few questions:

    1. Will individual “diplomats” get monthly sales quotas?
    2. Will individual nations get overall sales quotas?
    3. How will the sales compensation bonus structure operate? By nation or by individual “diplomat”?
    4. Are any activities by “diplomats” trying to hit their sales targets considered “out of bounds”? Is it OK, for example, for a “diplomat” to fund activities in their sales territories (revolutions, civil wars) that can help them hit their quotas?
    5. Will all “diplomats” get expense accounts for these purposes, or just the top producers?

    Of course, given the propensity for “privatizing” government functions, can’t we just outsource the entire State Department now to Raytheon and Lockheed-Martin?

    (If some government calls us up desperately wanting to talk about things like “peace” and “negotiations” we could always just route the call to Amazon or something, they can have a look in the CIA database and see how many hours of “talk” that country qualifies for, based on their sales volume).

    Reply
  31. ewmayer

    Unintentional hilarity in the Reuters some-small-wage-gains-at-last article:

    “Over the past four years, the U.S. economy added 10 million jobs and the overall unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since 2000. Yet wages have disappointed.

    The disconnect has puzzled economists at the Federal Reserve…”

    What the article does not say is that any genuine surprise by the elite-serving FedHeads was to see one of their policy initiatives – the War on Working-Class Wages – actually working as intended, this latest tiny glitch, which the Fedsters surely hope will prove to be a one-off from various state-level minimum-wage-hike laws taking effect, notwithstanding.

    Reply
  32. annie

    katie roiphe: n.c. readers clearly have no idea of the twitter backstory–because roiphe doesn’t mention it. the twitter storm centered on roiphe’s intent to out the ‘shitty media men’ list originator. the woman outed herself after she was blindsided by a fact checker for roiphe’s story at harper’s calling to ask if she did indeed start circulating the list. this is a very sneaky underhanded tactic to confirm an identity and it indicated that roiphe intended to name her. why else the call?
    disingenuously, roiphe omits this aspect of the twitter storm entirely! she makes it as though attacks came from out of the blue. where from? from vicious, unhinged women, of course.

    women (and men) who’ve been in the literary world have prior reason to distrust roiphe. (trust me.) the reaction: ‘here she goes again!’
    so instead of producing the maddening backlash piece that everyone had the right to expect, roiphe seems to have either a) taken to heart her critics’ mistrust or b) foxed them by writing a mild reasonable totally un-roiphe-like further-reflections-on-metoo that few would take exception to.
    harper’s would not have commissioned a cover story as uncontroversial as that delivered but then again they’d already got their assured click-ons.

    Reply
  33. audrey jr

    Amazingly, to my mind, there are no comments on RBS training their employees to forge bank customers signatures.
    I’ve read a lot of shocking things in my time but this is one of the most horrific abuses of paying customers that I have ever read. Why are there no criminal arrests? Arrests of those at the highest level AKA board officers and members? Where is the SFO on this?
    At least the UK has such an office unlike here in the States.
    Apparently RICO is alive and well and is now all perfectly legal.
    What the F(amily blog?)

    Reply
  34. mk

    re: bonus antidote – why do content producers insist on soundtracks for nature videos? Of course we can mute, but I would rather hear the actual sounds of nature.

    Reply

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