Links 2/6/18

An aquarium accident may have given this crayfish the DNA to take over the world Science

Models Coming into Agreement on Widespread Effects of Arctic Sea Ice Loss Weather Underground

Stocks crumble in vicious sell-off as ‘goldilocks’ trade unravels Reuters

Dealing with Stock Market’s Moments of Terror Safal Niveshak (Barry Ritholtz). With handy chart.

What on Earth Happened to Stocks? Here’s Where to Cast the Blame Bloomberg

Why An Economic Acceleration Is Slamming the Markets WSJ

Shorting volatility: its role in the stocks sell-off FT

Moving Pieces Tim Duy’s Fed Watch

Market Update Calculated Risk

Why a Dip in Asset Prices Might Be a Good Thing Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg

As Bitcoin Bubble Loses Air, Frauds and Flaws Rise to Surface NYT

Sex, Drugs, and Bitcoin: How Much Illegal Activity Is Financed Through Cryptocurrencies? SSRN

Head of BIS calls for clampdown on bitcoin FT

Money and trust: lessons from the 1620s for money in the digital age Bank of International Settlements

SpaceX nears launch of Falcon Heavy, facing a changing market for heavy-lift rockets LA Times (KW).


Ireland border ‘fudge’ threatens to pull apart Brexit talks FT

Brexit uncertainty to stay Bank of England’s hand AP


What the Turkish Invasion Means for Syria Der Spiegel

Arab Neoconservatives And Peace In The Persian Gulf Lobe Log (Re Silc).


China’s ageing population is creating a new debt crisis for Beijing as pension shortfall widens South China Morning Post


The Government’s Previous Health Insurance Schemes Failed. Why Should the New One Work? The Wire

New Cold War

The right way to manage nuclear competition with Russia WaPo

Controlling the Chief Charlie Savage, NYRB

The Dangers (and Opportunities) of 2018: Views From the Democratic Sideline Foreign Policy

* * *

Committee Greenlights Democratic Intelligence Memo Roll Call

Nunes memo raises question: Did FBI violate Woods Procedures? The Hill

Nunes Is So Dumb He Missed the Most Likely Way the Trump Campaign Might Have Been Wiretapped emptywheel

Trump’s Lawyers Want Him to Refuse an Interview in Russia Inquiry NYT

Who’s worse, Trump or Nixon? LA Times

Trump Transition

GOP to play hardball with Dems on funding bill The Hill

Public health workers find surprise cuts in paychecks Politico

At Republican Retreat, Protest Power Was on Display as Progressives Eye Midterm Elections The Intercept (Re Silc).

Guest Post: Stephanie Kelton Introduces A New Candidate For Congress Down with Tyranny

State official wants study of government ‘jobs for all’ Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Health Care

Nursing homes sedate residents with dementia by misusing antipsychotic drugs, report finds CNN. Ka-ching.

After approving Medicaid work requirements, Trump’s HHS aims for lifetime coverage limits McClatchy

Newest GOP stopgap includes Medicare extenders, DSH delays, health centers funding Modern Health

Our Famously Free Press

Meredith in a hurry to take down Time Inc. signage Page Six

What the hell is going on at Newsweek? The Outline

Robert Parry: When ‘Independent’ Journalism Meant Something The American Conservative

Imperial Collapse Watch

“We are the death merchant of the world”: Ex-Bush official Lawrence Wilkerson condemns military-industrial complex Salon

Meet the Believers: The Afghanistan War’s US Commanders are Ready For a Reboot DefenseOne

The Pentagon’s ‘Logistics Agency’ Lost Track of More Than $800 Million New York Magazine (Re Silc).

Useful Only for Scrap Paper LRB. Michelangelo’s drawings.

The #MeToo conversation is making people uncomfortable. That’s okay. Vox

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. RabidGandhi

    Is Trump worse than Nixon?

    I pride myself on having propagated the “Nixon was the last liberal president” meme for years now. That said, it is shocking (but not at all surprising) that an article comparatively assessing the Nixon presidency would have 6 mentions of the word “Watergate” (0 bombs, 0 murdered, 0 displaced) whilst completely omitting the word “Cambodia” (2.7m tonnes of bombs, 500k+ killed, millions displaced).

    This of course raises the obvious question: in the Blob’s mind, is Nixon better than Trump in spite of Cambodia or because of it?

    1. jgordon

      Although Nixon started out as the worst of the two because of his liberal policies and his attempts to bring Vietnam to an end, the Blob no doubt came to view him in a better light once their coup attempt against him succeeded via the bogus Watergate scandal. They even had Ford give him a pardon, a very nice sending away gift. On the other hand the attempted Russiagate coup against Trump failed and is in the process of being turned around on the globalist Blob perpetrators, no doubt making him their number 1 bad guy today.

      And Cambodia? Well, it seems that in modern history issues of foreign wars are largely out of the hands of US presidents so I don’t think military adventures during a regime’s reign would factor much into blob assessments.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Perhaps the ‘blob’ is nice to Nixon because he resigned and went quietly, took his pardon and moved on?

        Trump will likely do no such thing. His poll numbers are starting to creep up.

      2. fresno dan

        February 6, 2018 at 7:11 am

        February 6, 2018 at 7:56 am

        Why I read the comments – some actual novel, original, critical thinking….

    2. PlutoniumKun

      And Laos too. It still makes my blood boil that the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians in two countries (Cambodia and Laos) were slaughtered in a war that was never even declared, let alone be in any way legal or morally justifiable. Neither country have come close to recovering from it. And Kissenger is still seen as a stateman by the Democrats. He and Nixon were, by any reasonable moral standards, guilty of mass murder on a scale rarely seen in history. That article quite clearly shows that for respectable academic opinion, harming the US constitution is a much worse crime than the mass slaughter of brown people.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Couple quick points…

        I think the Khmer Rouge leaders are on record somewhere saying they were making no headway in getting popular support until after Nixon bombed the living daylights out of them. After that, lots of people were radicalized and got behind the crazies like Khmer Rouge.

        Also, for all Bernie’s faults on foreign policy, and he often makes me wince when talking about it, he seems to understand on a visceral level, that Kissinger is a horrible person and doesn’t belong anywhere near the levers of power. He made a point of saying this at length in the debates with Clinton.

    3. frosty zoom

      a more pertinent question is whether mr. trump is worse that messrs. obama, bush, clinton, bush, reagan, carter, ford, and/or nixon (no farther back because my fingers would get tired!).

      every single one is/was a homicidal sociopath.

      mr. trump is probably the best of them all because at least he is in the wwe hall of fame.

      1. perpetualWAR


        I keep wondering how Obama’s “legacy” doesn’t include the 19 million homes stolen by Wall Street.

        1. RUKidding

          Oh but it was all & solely the “fault” of the home owners that they “lost” their homes bc they were – one & all – greedy and took out loans that they couldn’t afford, including those who had bought their homes decades ago.

          I am quoting almost verbatim from numerous Obama supporters I know. Wall St? Pfft. The Banks? Pffft! Obama? Pfffft. It’s only the fault of the greedy grubby lousy home owners, who clearly deserved to lose their homes. Sainted Obama, who is such a nice man with a gorgeous wife and beautiful daughters, did what had to be done, and yay verily it was a good thing.

          got it?

          Don’t even bring up all the brown people Obama is responsible for killing, either. They deserved their fates as well, except when it was GW Bush who killed them.

          got it?

    4. integer

      The author, David Rothkopf, has quite the resumé. Here’s a sampling:

      Rothkopf was managing director of Kissinger Associates, the international advisory firm founded and chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger…

      He joined the Clinton Administration in 1993 as Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Policy and Development…

      Rothkopf is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations…

      A Democrat, he has said he voted for President Barack Obama twice…

      He writes a weekly column for Foreign Policy, a regular column for CNN and is a frequent contributor to leading newspapers, magazines including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Financial Times, CNN, Newsweek and Time.

      As for this specific article, it is based on the faulty premise that the institutions (i.e. “the Department of Justice, our independent judiciary, the FBI, our intelligence services”) that Trump has purportedly “undermined in unprecedented ways” have a constitutional right to continue to practice unaccountable corruption.

        1. integer

          Yep. Sometimes I am tempted to save myself some time and just write “Neocon alert!”.

          Another day, another neocon taking potshots at Trump. Sigh.

    5. Matthew G. Saroff

      The most depressing thing about Nixon is that he was the worst President from 1933 to 1974, and best from 1969 to the present.

      1. Wukchumni

        I doubt many fathers threw an impromptu celebration party on August 8th 1974, such as my dad did. He loathed Tricky Dick, as he thought he resembled the worst facets of fascism, communism and capitalism, all in one tidy package.

        He softened his stance on Nixon decades later, when confronted with even more onerous ogres in the oval office.

        1. RUKidding

          I simply cannot and will not soften my stance on Nixon. In the post-WWII age, Nixon got the ball rolling on corruption that just snowballed to where we are now.

          No rose colored glasses for me vis Nixon.

          1. Matthew G. Saroff

            The problem is that the Presidents to follow were so bad:
            * Ford, pardoned Nixon, creating the expectation of impunity.

            * Carter: War criminal who bought the Afghan civil war, created the Savings and Loan Debacle, unwound Glass Steagall, etc.

            * Reagan: Too many to list.

            * Bush I: Willy Horten, greenlighting Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, and then going to war over it, covering up Iran Contra, Pardoning Weinburger, McFarlane, Abrams, etc. to cover his own butt.

            * Clinton: Didn’t care about genocide (Rwanda) until it was white people (Bosnia), completely Repealed Glass Steagall, betrayed labor unions, flipped to support NAFTA, relentless expansion of excessive IP licensing.

            * Bush II: ‘Nuff Said.

            * Obama: Not trying corrupt banksters, terrorizing nations with drones, normalizing Bush II excesses, betrayed labor unions, sucked up to health insurance companies iwith PPACA, selling out homeowners to protect corrupt banksters, protecting torturers, pursuing whistleblowers with a mania that makes Nixon look like Julian Assange.

            *Trump: Nixon, hold my beer.

            1. Adam Eran

              The S&Ls resulted from an average bank scandal run wild after Reagan (not Carter) deregulated them so they could “grow their way out of trouble.” One the other hand, Carter showed Reagan how to deregulated when he did so to trucking and airlines, and not incidentally threw the unions under the bus when it occurred. Teamsters endorsed Reagan in the next presidential election.

              Clinton…don’t forget his was the last budget surplus. See this for what comes next. Hint: a Great Depression-sized hole in the economy.

              Also, Clinton’s “end of welfare as we know it” threw a half million adults off of food stamps. Before that “end,” 76% of those needing public assistance got it. After: 26%. There’s a special place in hell for Clinton, IMHO.

              …and don’t forget that, in addition to not prosecuting what’s arguably the largest theft in human history–the sub-prime/derivatives meltdown–Obama didn’t prosecute Bush 43/Cheney’s war crimes.

              1. Matthew G. Saroff

                Reagan engaged in salutory neglect. Carter actually signed the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act.

                Even ignoring that, the fact that he is a f%$#ing war criminal bent on deregulation, that he created the 4 year long presidential campaign, his signing the Hyde amendment when it was first proposed, and the fact that he reversed the Nixon/Ford military draw down makes him (a bit) worse than Nixon

          2. Adam Eran

            Sorry, if you want to see some earlier corruption try Robert Cato’s Means of Ascent describing LBJ’s theft of his Senate seat from Coke Stephenson. LBJ taught Karl Rove everything needed to win an election no matter what the votes were (and Nixon was corrupt too, but a little later, although arguably in response to Joe Kennedy stealing W. Virginia and Mayor Daly’s Democratic machine stealing Chicago after Eisenhower retired).

            Meanwhile, it was Boss Tweed (a Democrat) who said “I don’t care who people vote for as long as I can pick the candidates.”

            Making this a contest between team red and team blue is playing Tweed’s game.

    6. lyman alpha blob

      Here’s a trip down memory lane from HST – an excerpt:

      If the right people had been in charge of Nixon’s funeral, his casket would have been launched into one of those open-sewage canals that empty into the ocean just south of Los Angeles. He was a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president. Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning. Even his funeral was illegal. He was queer in the deepest way. His body should have been burned in a trash bin.

      And that was one of the nicer passages. Trump has a lot of work to do if he hopes to merit such a scathing obit.

    7. shinola

      Trump worse than Nixon? What a bovine excrement question!

      When it comes to absolutely worst president (in my lifetime anyway} neither come close to George “Dubya” Bush & his puppet master Cheney. Nixon did hold that spot but Bush/Cheney plumbed new depths. They should be given a fair trial as war criminals & promptly executed.

      It is to be hoped that Trump will be no worse than Nixon.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I think what I want in a president is for him/her just to be what we think he or she is.

        With Nixon and Reagan it was clear to see exactly who they were and what they’d do. Fair enough. And with the Cheney Bush regimes you knew exactly what you were getting: snarling corporo-fascist Big Business types.

        Which is why I still award Obama my coveted Worst_President_Ever Award (and yes, I’m counting Millard Fillmore and Andrew Johnson). His deeds in office were at the furthest point of absolute opposition to his words and to the person “we thought he was”. The nation thought we were getting something completely different from just an extension and normalization of 100% of Bush’s policies (OK, OK, he did try a rapprochement with Cuba).

        Very funny: the YouTube video going around last week where people are asked to comment on State of the Union quotes. Everybody trashes them, until they’re informed the quotes come from Obama’s last SOTU, not Trump’s.

  2. RabidGandhi

    The reason why we, “the ignorant masses”, need economists is because they clarify technical terms for us that we would otherwise misunderstand. For example, economists refer to something called “recovery” that the uninitiated might easily mistake for something more benign. This can clearly be as Brazil’s economy wallows in what those unfamiliar with the jargon might call “misery”; but thankfully we have the technocratic cognoscenti to set us straight. A few examples from just this last month (links available on request):

    -ING swoons that “Recovery Signs in Brazil Are All Around”
    -The IMF’s latest working paper on Brasil is entitled “Investment in Brazil: From Crisis to Recovery”.
    -Bloomberg hails Brazil’s recovery under Temer but laments that “Women Get Fired While Men Get Hired in Brazil’s Economic Recovery”
    -And here’s Reuters, exulting in the return of good times for investors:

    Recovery to drive Brazil M&A pipeline [Reuters]

    Brazil’s rebounding economy and record-low interest rates are likely to change the nature of mergers and acquisitions in 2018 from scandal-driven asset sales to investor bets on a broad recovery, bankers and lawyers in the country said.

    Indeed, in the mainstream media “recovery” or “rebound” have become the de riguer adjectives in any article on Brazil or Argentina (and now add Ecuador), generally with a reference to how South America’s new generation of “sober, serious” (more technical terms) leaders are turning the page on the previous regimes’ conflicts with the private sector and are now “saying no to populism”.
    Nevertheless, since the macro numbers continue to be paltry– especially when compared to the consumer demand driven Keynesian boom years– this definition of recovery had me scrambling for my OED, where I was enlightened with the following:

    Recovery, n. 1. A return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.

    Hmm… could be, especially if “normal” means “the oppressive way things generally have been in the past”.

    2. The action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.

    Well, insofar as the traditional oligarchs have lost a smidgen of their power and are now taking it back with a vengance, I’d say that’s a bullseye.

    3. The process of removing or extracting an energy source or industrial chemical for use, reuse, or waste treatment.

    Now we’re talking turkey. The removal/extraction of Brazilian labour/resources has been fully resumed.

    This last definition fits like a glove, especially in view of the actual data from Brazil:

    Crisis Strikes Those Who Have the Least [Folha de S.Paulo]

    Figures the released on Wednesday (31 Jan) by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) indicated that unemployment rose from 11.5% in 2016 to 12.7% in 2017: its highest level in the cycle that began in 2012.
    The numbers also showed that the drop in unemployment last quarter (12.4% to 11.8%) was mainly due to the creation of informal vacancies in the labour market, solidifying the previous trend…. and with regard to income inequality, the results could not be worse.
    As is well known, the first decade of the century was marked by strong dynamism in the labour market, with the creation of formal jobs in the construction sector and in various service sectors, such as foodservice and personal and beauty services.
    While there were several limits to this trend continuing [RG: limits such as Brasil’s élite forcing an end to it], the process nevertheless allowed for a combination of greater economic growth and decreasing inequality at the base of the pyramid, as these sectors concentrate a larger percentage of less skilled workers who earn salaries above minimum wage.
    As income among the richest 10% increased at an accelerated rate, researcher Marc Morgan came to call these changes the “squeezed middle”, which resulted in a less labour participation in the middle of the distribution pyramid. Over the last three years, the base of the pyramid has been the main loser.
    The number of unemployed workers grew from 6.7 million at the close of 2014 to 13.2 million at the close of 2017: representing a cumulative increase of 96.2%.

    (and note: Folha is very establishment, very anti-Workers Party).

    So there we have the actual definition of “recovery” (which should be well familiar to you beneficiaries of the Obama recovery): a return to starker inequality and a restoration of precarious labour conditions (gig economy). It is recovery indeed, but who exactly is recovering what? This “who” and “what” can be clarified by a glance at the definition of “populism”: the ignorant and meddlesome masses choosing politicians who enact policies that benefit them. Good thing we have our technocratic betters to set us straight and usher in the Glorious Restoration.

      1. RabidGandhi

        I’m not sure I buy that logic. In the Folha article above, Laura Carvalho (no pinko by any means) spells out Brazil’s predicament quite clearly.

        The data also show that the greatest loss in formal jobs occurred in sectors that concentrate on the lower wage market. Most notably in construction, the losses tallied 12.3% in the last three years. The results were a 5.1% real cumulative decline in average wages for the sector, and 12.3% below the average income of the employed population. Real wages also declined in the lodging and foodservice sectors (-11.4%) and in other services (-6.1%), where average incomes were even lower: respectively 27.3% and 17.2% below the average for employed workers.

        Unemployment–> lower real wages–> lower aggregate demand–> slowed growth. That makes unemployment (especially viz. formal labour contracts) a leading indicator dragging down the economy as a whole. And here’s how even neo-classical Folha sees that playing out:

        What is most concerning: Stagnant per capita wages, fierce distributional conflicts or the base of the pyramid being unrepresented in the spheres of power? It is hard to imagine a scenario in which inequality will not continue to be exacerbated in the coming decade.

        Brazil’s ‘jobless recovery’ will look just like West Virgina’s and Ohio’s, only more so.

  3. allan

    Kellyanne Conway’s ‘opioid cabinet’ sidelines drug czar’s experts [Politico]

    … White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has taken control of the opioids agenda, quietly freezing out drug policy professionals and relying instead on political staff to address a lethal crisis claiming about 175 lives a day. The main response so far has been to call for a border wall and to promise a “just say no” campaign.

    Trump is expected to propose massive cuts this month to the “drug czar” office, just as he attempted in last year’s budget before backing off. He hasn’t named a permanent director for the office, and the chief of staff was sacked in December. For months, the office’s top political appointee was a 24-year-old Trump campaign staffer with no relevant qualifications. Its senior leadership consists of a skeleton crew of three political appointees, down from nine a year ago. …

    … lawmakers who have been leaders on opioid policy and who are accustomed to working with the drug czar office, haven’t seen outreach from Conway or her cabinet.

    “I haven’t talked to Kellyanne at all and I’m from the worst state for this,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from West Virginia, which has the country’s highest overdose death rate. “I’m uncertain of her role.” …

    Opioids. Infrastructure. Good jobs. None of the promises on these are being delivered.
    Even the 30% base will eventually get restless.
    At what point will distraction by means of a foreign adventure become Plan A?

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Remember this?

      In April 2016, at the height of the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, Congress effectively stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against large drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the nation’s streets.
      The new law makes it virtually impossible for the DEA to freeze suspicious narcotic shipments from the companies, according to internal agency and Justice Department documents and an independent assessment by the DEA’s chief administrative law judge in a soon-to-be-published law review article.
      Besides the sponsors and co-sponsors of the bill, few lawmakers knew the true impact the law would have. It sailed through Congress and was passed by unanimous consent, a parliamentary procedure reserved for bills considered to be noncontroversial.

      “Senator” shelley moore capito should just stfu and start doing her job instead of whining that Kelleyanne Conway, fer chrissakes, won’t do it for her.

      “……. I’m from the worst state for this,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito….. Then maybe you should start acting like it.

      1. allan

        Thank you for the link. From the same story:

        … The chief advocate of the law that hobbled the DEA was Rep. Tom Marino, a Pennsylvania Republican who is now President Trump’s nominee to become the nation’s next drug czar. …

        Marino declined repeated requests for comment. Marino’s staff called the U.S. Capitol Police when The Post and “60 Minutes” tried to interview the congressman at his office on Sept. 12. …

        Marino’s nomination died after the story appeared. Only the best people.

    2. Wukchumni

      The reign of error’s efforts @ stopping the opioid scourge seem to be: “please hurry up and die so you won’t be a burden on society”.

      1. curlydan

        “hurry up and die” appears to be the M.O. for the new Medicaid lifetime caps and work requirements as well. Since U.S. life expectancy has fallen for 2 years in a row, it appears to be working.

    1. makedoanmend

      Are all liberals by definition liberal because they are called liberal; or are there different shades of liberal or, maybe, even different types of liberal? Does a liberal interpretation of economic liberty make one a liberal? – or, as so often seems the case, a conservative? Can one be a liberal culturally and a conservative in matters of economics? If one can be both, how do we label that individual or groups who think similarly?

      1. Paul Cardan

        The word’s used in so many different ways. I prefer to focus on the views of 19th century figures like Bentham, James Mill, and J S Mill. They were reformers, seeking change for what they considered the better, especially in economics, where they supported the use of state power to create conditions favorable to industrialization, chiefly self-regulating markets for labor, land, and money (or so argues the author of The Great Transformation). They were also, by and large, champions of individual liberty (for Europeans anyway), with their position best stated, I think, by J S Mill in his book on the subject. His basic claim is that the use of coercion against adults is impermissible except in cases where one person harms others without the consent of the latter.

        I can’t say very much about the twists and turns of the term ‘liberal’ in the 20th and 21st centuries, except to note that the much criticized (in these parts) conflation of Left and Liberal is a sign of our times. It’s a sign that the limits of respectable political discourse are now very narrow, so narrow that views quite similar to those of the 19th century liberals are readily accepted as one of two extremes. Progressive neoliberals are considered and consider themselves to be the Left. Yet, they’re committed to the economic agenda of the old liberals in new circumstances. They’re certainly different from the other neoliberals, the ones who like to call themselves, quite misleadingly, conservatives. The progressives have different positions on public bathrooms. They’re free and easy with terms like ‘intersectionality.’ They have doubts about the wisdom of conducting an uncontrolled experiment on the entire biosphere. After all, they believe in science, and like to tell you as much, as often as possible. But, for all their progressiveness, they’re still just new liberals.

        But who might be Left if not Liberals? Lots of different people, no doubt. But mostly, I think, people who believe that markets ought to serve the interests of society, rather than society servicing markets, people who think that adults ought to manage their own affairs, as opposed to being managed, as resources, by others. Devil’s in the details, of course.

        1. BlabbyTabby

          I like Dave Rubin’s general sentiment that, in America today, the Left is no longer liberal. It generally sums up my feeling about where things lie presently. People who would qualify as liberal by any reasonable measure are cast as anything from center-right to alt-right by the most vociferous elements of the left if they deviate from the narrative around certain social issues. NC alludes to this a lot as well, particularly the ways in which the DNC uses the worst aspects of identity politics to shame people into supporting its neoliberal economic policies, which is why I am a daily reader.

          1. Paul Cardan

            The terms can be used in different ways, for different ends. I proposed one way of using them, based on some history, some contemporary uses, and what I perceive to be a need to distinguish between the people I called ‘progressive neoliberals’ and those I’d prefer to call ‘leftists.’ I’d like to isolate the former, set them apart from those with whom they shouldn’t be confused. But perhaps other uses are better, such as those you suggest.

        2. makedoandmend

          Thanks for your excellent comment and those of the other NC commentariat on this topic.

          I would generally agree with you about the historical antecedents of liberalism and what it then meant or might mean today. Being of the Left myself and eschewing many of the liberal nostrums of the present day variety, I still find the liberty aspect appealing but also find that those countries who adopt any sort of liberal attitude often do so to forward or project a certain economic agenda. Liberty on a personal level, imo, is difficult to practice if the liberty of the market place is paramount to the individual – but that is just my particular take on liberal philosophy.

          What I find somewhat disconcerting is the use of the term, as John Michael Greer might say, as a thought stopper. Liberalism, for all it possible frailties, still plays an important role in our Western thought and when aligned with hard-headed pragmatic programs can be a very potent force – for good or ill.

          If the liberal philosophy is aligned with specific contemporary programs, it seems to me that it would be more worthwhile to look at the programs and discuss the relative merits of the programs rather than the underlying philosophy for the moment. By discussing the programs it might be possible to glean new insights into the philosophy as it morphs; or maybe identify new interpretations of liberal philosophy that have emerged as a counterweight to Leftist thought during most of the twentieth century up till the present day. (Just a passing thought.)

          Again, thanks for the comment – food for thought.

          1. UserFriendly

            The Blathering Superego at the End of History

            LIBERALISM IS NOT working. Something deep within the mechanism has cracked. All our wonk managers, our expert stewards of the world, have lost their way. They wander desert highways in a daze, wondering why the brakes locked up, why the steering wheel came off, how the engine caught on fire. Their charts lie abandoned by the roadside. It was all going so well just a moment ago. History was over. The technocratic order was globalizing the world; people were becoming accustomed to the permanent triumph of a slightly kinder exploitation. What happened? All they can recall is a loud thump in the undercarriage, an abrupt loss of control. Was it Brexit? Trump? Suddenly the tires were bursting and smoke was pouring into the vehicle, then a flash. The next thing they could remember, our liberals were standing beside a smoldering ruin, blinking in the hot sun, their power stolen, their world collapsing, their predictions all proven wrong.

    2. Byron the Light Bulb

      In 1954, after a commercial message for Alcoa, a televised Joseph McCarthy oozed, “twenty years of treason. Not the hard fact is…the hard fact is that those who wear the label…those who wear the label ‘Democrat’ wear it with the stain of a historic betrayal.” McCarthy took some cheap shots, “Strangely, Alger — I mean, Adlai”, and deployed rhetorical gimmicks, “Why? Why do Hiss and Coe find that Adlai Stevenson is the man they want representing them at this conference? I don’t know. Perhaps Adlai knows.” Who’s that sitting next to McCarthy, why it’s his dewy 27 year-old counsel, Roy Cohn.

      64 years later, some people are still trying to skate on Roy Cohn’s stale material.

  4. Other James

    Paul Simon has just announced his retirement tour. To commemorate I spent the evening pealing foraged peaches to a background of his musical legacy. And what a legacy it is, the quintessential US poet, so many memorable lines. Two memes stick out, ‘going home’ and ‘silence’, comfort in hard times, like a bridge over troubled water. As an antipodean who has recently travelled on the west coast, he in many ways captures the spirit of longing in the land of the free. Maybe it is just the drop to the relative minor. I am not surprised that Bernie Sanders used one of his tracks in his campaign.

    1. Croatoan

      Meh. Paul Simon soothed the souls of the neo-liberal baby boomers that destroyed the country.

      Just look at the first lines of “America”;

      Let us be lovers, we’ll marry our fortunes together
      I’ve got some real estate here in my bag.

      It’s about money and real estate! Let’s just forget all that hippie stuff and get rich.

      1. Kevin

        not actually.

        The song is a dream about him and girlfriend Kathy at the time hitchhiking from Saginaw to Pittsburgh.
        Doubt they would have hitchhiked if they had mucho coinage…”real estate” is weed.

        1. Croatoan

          The truth of art, and how it is interpreted, reflects the desires of the observer. The symbolism it represented in the Sanders ad was closer to my interpretation. I am sure people were not thinking “weed” when they heard “real estate”.

          Paul Simon was wealthy enough in 1964. His father was a professor and Simon was in Law School for a month. He drove with his lady (didn’t hitchhike) to Sagninaw before moved to London.

          1. Wukchumni

            Whenever we’re in NZ in spite of having a rental car, I always like to hitchhike somewhere there, simply because I can. It’s legal to do so, unlike here where you might get arrested.

            Utilizing just my larger digit poised sideways, I can stop a 2 ton vehicle in it’s tracks~

          2. georgieboy

            Simon has been a bit of a jerk backstage. He played at a Berklee Music School graduation years ago and insisted that NO ONE could EVEN LOOK at him backstage. Took the fun out of the whole thing for the kids. Feet of clay.

    2. John A

      Paul Simon allegedly wrote Homeward Bound on Widnes Station while touring Britain. Widnes itself is, or was, a chemicals industry town, with overspills from Liverpool, a few miles along the River Mersey. Widnes Station is as bleak as the town and bound to make anyone homesick, even if home was only a slightly less grotty version of Widnes.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      Yikes, Other James, it would appear your nostalgia is not appreciated.

      For what it’s worth, I share your sentiments. Some things are just too good to look for a reason to tear them down. I’m goin’ to Graceland.

      1. Wukchumni

        Hear, here.

        Once upon a time we celebrated troubadours that combined poetry with verse, but now it’s mostly for the worst.

        Could you name just one song in the top 100 charts in any music genre currently?

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Reminds me of Sunday’s halftime Superbowl performance by Justin Timberlake, especially the first, super-high-energy part.

          I found myself wondering how many people were out there thinking, “Gee, I really love this ‘song’. ”

          Now get off my lawn.

        2. Croatoan

          Poetry and verse changes with each generation. While I could not name one song in the top 100, I know my 25 year old niece could.

          Paul Simon is insanely wealthy ($45 million at least). All he taught people is that you can make a ton of money playing music for people. He is a capitalist first and foremost, troubadour is second.

            1. Olga

              That is a wrong question. If he were less rich, he may have written different songs… Perhaps less soothing and more pointed, and/or more applicable to people’s lives. Money changes a person; a lot of it, changes person a lot.

              1. Wukchumni

                He’s ‘worth’ $45 million now, what was he ‘worth’ in 1956 when he wrote his first of many amazing ballads?

                    1. tegnost

                      yeah let’s hear some whinging about the ceo of spotify net worth 1.6 billion, and I doubt he’s written any songs for that pretty penny. I won’t bother looking up how many kajillions artists such as paul simon have lined tim cooks pockets with. 45 million sounds like chump change these days. That he was for hillary isn’t surprising especially, he’s got 45 mil, he’s her base

                  1. Yves Smith

                    Help me. Professors were not rich in the 1960s and law school was not expensive when he was young. They aren’t even rich now unless they are Bschool or top law school profs who do a lot of consulting. That was frowned on back then, save maybe expert witness gigs, which would nevah be a steady diet.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Paul Simon’s Under African Skies video concert (1987), filmed in Zimbabwe with luminaries such as Miriam Makeba and the late Hugh Masekela, is one for the ages.

      3. Croatoan

        I am not saying his music was not good. Even a good thief can be appreciated. But he is still a thief.

            1. Yves Smith

              Stop it. Payoff in entertainment is a power curve. A very few at the high end make a lot and the rest starve. I don’t resent paying for the work of other people, and as an author, am appalled by your attitude towards people trying to make a living off their output. You think people like me should work for you for free? Go to hell.

      1. frosty zoom

        he shoulda played “fifty ways to frame a giant orange gargoyle”:

        ya’ just call up the deep state,
        blame a few russians,
        whip up collusions,
        and fisa courts, see.

        get a nice steele archive,
        no need to correct much!
        just drop off the leak, see,
        and set yourself free..

    4. Rory

      I don’t know which of his songs they are from, but these lines have always stayed with me:

      “Half the people are drowned, half the people are swimming in the wrong direction.
      Half the people are stoned, half the people are waiting for the next election.”

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Brexit

    Ireland border ‘fudge’ threatens to pull apart Brexit talks FT

    Senior negotiators see the Irish border issue as the single biggest risk in talks before a March EU summit, in which Britain is hoping to agree a transition deal and begin trade talks. “If this blows up over the next two months it will be over Ireland,” said one senior EU figure involved in talks. “That is the flashpoint.”

    I really don’t see what sort of deal could possibly address the Irish border. The UK has backed itself into a situation where it must withdraw entirely from the free market and Customs Union. These are not in any way compatible with keeping the border open. They have ruled out any ‘special’ status for Northern Ireland. Opposition from France and other EU countries would not allow the Irish Republic to take a ‘see no evil hear no evil’ approach to the border. And the Irish government, while not as deluded as London, is still dragging its heels over putting in place emergency provisions for a chaotic exit with all that means for the border areas, as they seem to hope that something will turn up, something will be agreed.

    An article yesterday in the Guardian suggested that private briefings to the hard Brexiters in the cabinet ‘sobered them up’ about the Irish border issue, and this is one reason they did not rebel against the December agreement. But being sobered up about the issue is not the same thing as being willing to compromise or change. So far as I can see, the chance of a chaotic exit is increasing by the day, not decreasing.

    1. el_tel

      Thanks for that. Insightful as always.
      Things getting interesting around here with Anna Soubry making threats. It would be unwise to assume these are empty threats – she is clinging on by her fingertips as a Conservative anyway (in terms of her majority at the last election – by rights she should have lost but people round here like her for being a big-mouth who tells the establishment where to go). She really doesn’t have much to lose.

      1. Christopher Dale Rogers


        To put it bluntly, Anna Soubry is but a mouth on a stick, she complains bitterly, but that’s about it. I suggest you actually check out her voting record as an MP – essentially, like many of her kind in the Tory ranks, namely, women who express concerns, her voting record paints a different picture, basically she’s never rebelled – although, all this talk again of a new Centrist Party is intriguing, but don’t think somehow that a Macron-style neoliberal/neoconservative political party has wings in the UK presently

        1. el_tel

          Fair enough regarding her voting record….I’m just going by what people round here in Nottingham think of her, how she radically bucked the trend in terms of swings in the Nottm and outlying districts at the last general election, and voting intention data (pre-GE) I have access to. Yeah she might have been all-mouth-no-trousers in the past, but ultimately she knows what side her bread is buttered on regarding her constituency….and when push comes to shove, all those “loyal lobby-fodder” Tory MPs who are afraid of losing those lovely perks have a nasty habit of turning on a leader when the chips really are down. We’re in uncharted waters here.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          I’ve been wondering about the possibilities of a new centrist party in the UK. I’m sure lots of the Blairites would go for it. I guess the failure of the old SDP is still in their minds – the UK election system is particularly harsh on third parties. I would guess the opportunity will arise if and when the Conservatives start coming apart under the strains of Brexit.

          I hate to say it, but I do think that there is a potential opening there, although the big question is whether it would do more damage to the Conservatives or to Labour. My feeling is that there are more opportunists in the Labour benches (basically, the class of 1994), who would make the jump – Tories are more likely to run than jump I think. But I’m not sure about their respective voters.

          1. Christopher Dale Rogers


            My issue with your suggestion that space exists for a new ‘centrist’ party is that we already have a centrist party, namely the Liberal Democrats, and, given the fact that said new centrist party will be a neoliberal haven, with a fair number of interventionist warmongers among their ranks, I don’t see where they belong in the grand scheme of things. Indeed, more than 80% of the UK electorates that voted last June in the GE voted for the main two parties that were committed to honouring the Brexit vote – the LibDems were 100% anti-Brexit and their vote collapsed – just look at their polling in Wales.

            I’m quite happy having an actual Left-of-Centre grouping, which would include the Greens, together with Plaid Cymru and the SNP, with the LibDems in the middle ground and Conservatives actually centre-right, which economically speaking would mean a majority of MPs actually all moving to the Left if we were to achieve this. That’s how far the nation and its politics moved to the Right economically speaking, never mind support for such institutions as NATO, Brussels and no end of supranational bodies that seem to engender War, rather than peace.

            At the end of the day, I think politically speaking the UK is in a state of flux, similar indeed to the twenty years following the death of Robert Peel (1846-1866) – the Corn Laws being equivalent to Brexit today, never mind the fact that many are now awakening to the fact that neoliberal economic prescriptions just don’t work, unless of course your in the top 5% of income brackets.

            From my vantage point, I think the future lies with eco-socialists and democratic syndicalists. Of course I’m probably wrong and certainly never underestimate the Conservative Party, which has a uncanny knack for survival.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              The problem with the LibDems is that they have precisely failed to take the centre space for all sorts of reasons. They have too much historical baggage to take the cosy consensual soft neoliberal middle ground of somewhere between NuLabour and One Nation Tories, which I suspect is where around a third or so of the electorate sit. And apart from anything else, they lack the sort of charismatic leader they’d need to grab the countries attention.

              I think the nature of the UK electoral system is such that such a party would only succeed it if consisted of several dozen existing MP’s, i.e. was made up of a split from both main parties who could then portray themselves as a ‘fresh’ alternative. But you need a particular alignment of circumstances (as happened in France) for this to occur. I think a vicious Tory in-fight in which the hard Brexiters win would be one such circumstance.

              1. Massinissa

                “I think the nature of the UK electoral system is such that such a party would only succeed it if consisted of several dozen existing MP’s, i.e. was made up of a split from both main parties who could then portray themselves as a ‘fresh’ alternative. ”

                So basically like Macron’s party in France. That actually makes sense.

    2. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, PK, and well said, especially your last sentence.

      I am in Madrid and Paris this month, helping with the transfer of business booked, serviced etc. in London to these branches / balance sheets.

      The first wave of redundancies at my German TBTF is this summer. If I have not found something Brexit proof by the summer, I expect to be unemployed by the end of next year.

      There have been Brexit related redundancies since last summer, but they have been salami slicing here and there, nothing significant enough to attract media, political or voter attention.

      Cicero, one of the bigger and better known lobbyists in Brussels, is scaling back from London in favour of Dublin as business goes west from the City and its outposts around the UK.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thanks, CS, I had to look up Cicero, I’d never heard of them, and I found a link to suggest they are not the first PR company to shift focus to Dublin. Much as any jobs are welcome, I can’t help but feel a cringe at the thought of a wave of PR and ‘corporate communications’ consultants hitting my city (and its finer pubs). My neighbour is one (the nicer sort), I must ask her if she’s been hearing any rumours.

  6. The Rev Kev

    Meet the Believers: The Afghanistan War’s US Commanders are Ready For a Reboot

    A little history. Back in WW2 there use to be a group of US Army Air Corp officers who were true believers in the potency of the bomber. I think that they were nicknamed ‘airdales’ but the point was that they believed that their prized B-17s were so well armed that they did not need fighter escort. In fact, the bombers would bomb Germany to rubble after which they would land to accept the surrender.
    The results was of course whole formations of bombers were shot out of the sky and even when they got their long-range escort fighters, the Germans refused to let the bombing defeat them. That took an army of a couple million men to achieve. I know that this is a defense magazine article but this strikes me as more of the same. Their belief in the technological terror that they are constructing shows a faith that I find disturbing.
    When it says that the Taliban can negotiate and reconcile what that means is that the US will stay in Afghanistan forever so they had better be reconciled to that fact. This force can kill a lot of them but like in Vietnam, the birthrate for their opponents will always outmatch this loss rate. In any case, the Taliban doesn’t need to do pitch battles. They only have to outlast their enemy which is classic guerrilla doctrine.

    1. ambrit

      Nice to read you channeling a Sith Lord.
      And, as for LeMays’ infamous “bomb them back to the stone age,” assertion, well, many parts of the world are already nearly back to stone age conditions, or soon will be due to neo-liberal economics. The only strategy left then is pure outright genocide.
      Time to warp the Death Star over to Afghaniron, my Lords?

      1. Wukchumni

        Waging war in the ‘stanbox would be akin to the Russians invading Nevada, with it’s seemingly endless basin and range terrain that resembles Afghanistan perfectly. Largely useless land that if you were successful in conquering, the logistics of keeping it, would bankrupt your army.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        “Bomb them back to the stone age.”

        Can’t remember where I read this story but here it is.

        An american in Afghanistan was sitting on a hill with several Afghans on a dark night, gazing at a brilliant moon. The american mused to the others about how remarkable it was that man had landed on the moon.

        The Afghans refused to believe that it had ever happened, and could not be convinced.

        Such fearsome, worthy “adversaries.”

        1. ambrit

          Good point insomuch as todays’ American political ‘discourse’ seems to be stuck in just such a ‘refusal to believe’ loop. Just look at the downthread comments on many “popular” websites for examples of such purely confirmation bias sourced ‘thinking.’
          Your last sentence actually is an accurate description of “fearsome, worthy “adversaries.”” I read somewhere that, during the British colonial wars against the nineteenth century iteration of jihadis, sergeants would tell their rankers to begin firing at attacking “hostiles” at extreme range, and continue doing so until the engagement ended. The idea being that these hostiles were “true believers” who would keep coming despite wounds, all powered by their fanatical ‘belief’ systems.
          Apply the above to American politics and we have a pretty grim prognosis for the next three years, at the least. Probably the next seven years, absent some major blunder by the present administration.
          The above comment by the Rev has it correct. War materials production in the Reich actually increased during the Allied bombing campaign up until just before the end of the war. The Soviet Army won WW2. The proof of that lies in the continuous aid sent to Russia from the West during the war. It is one of those ‘inconvenient truths’ that the Western Allied armies, (ie. less Russia,) were fighting the Wehrmachts’ ‘second string’ troops in western Europe. Also pertinent is that many believe that “Bomber” Harris’ led air campaign against Germany was really revenge for the Blitz. Why else obliterate cities not important to German war materials production, like Dresden? Terror was the real reason for this. However, as any sane person will eventually come to realize, terror is useless against properly lead and psychologically conditioned populaces.
          The wonderful endless circle jerk continues. What came first? The jihadi ‘terrorism’ or the ‘State sponsored’ terrorism? Meanwhile, innocent people die. As someone elsewhere commented, this makes the idea of divine retribution against evil people in this world, or in a next one, a seductive source of comfort.

    2. whine country

      Yes, the ‘airdales’ have been replaced by the Air Heads but the silly theory that “shock and awe” has any truth to it lives on.

  7. Wukchumni

    Money and trust: lessons from the 1620s for money in the digital age Bank of International Settlements

    I remember being shown a coin from that kipper und wipper era when I was in my teens, and what an impression it left upon me, as coins from previous and subsequent times were honest money, and if anything the period was more akin to the cryprocurrency craze currently petering out.

    Mints popped up everywhere across Europe to cash in an odd arbitrage, the coins heretofore were made of silver, and the replacements looked very similar, yet they were all made out of copper and many were silver-washed to give the appearance of being the real thing, just as the Roman Empire had resorted to with denarii some 1,400 years prior. The efforts were often crude compared to what was possible just a few years prior.

    A Bohemian silver thaler (where the word ‘dollar’ emanates) from 1614, before kipper und wipper:

    Here’s a Bohemian thaler from 1622 that’s made out of copper and silver-washed. The details are all fuzzy:

      1. JohnnyGL

        That looks kind of interesting.

        Carter Page as as mole or ‘Trojan Horse’ to open surveillance into Trump campaign?

        The court document linked is broken, though. That’s kind of important.

        Carter Page’s letter says ABC and Buzzfeed outed his involvement in a 2015 case where FBI broke up a Russian spy ring which was trying to find out about sanctions and energy development.

        It does seem curious that Page was involved in the case, yet never charged, and subsequently allowed to travel to Russia a few times.

        From the look of it, Page might have proven useless for intel gathering as the Russians didn’t think much of him, but perhaps Page became useful to establish a link between the Trump campaign and the Russians? Note that one of the trips was July 2016, around the time that Russia-gate was getting underway.

        Obviously, far from bullet-proof, but it’s an interesting way to make sense of an otherwise curious chain of events.

      2. Eureka Springs

        Nothing (with a lot of credible evidence) would surprise me. He did once serve as a navy intelligence analyst. That said… Why would they seek a FISA warrant on one of their own? Would they even need one to monitor their own employee?

        1. JohnnyGL

          I think the argument would run that Carter Page had outlived his usefulness as they’d already prosecuted the case that he was directly involved in and gotten the bad guys they’d wanted to nail. It would appear the feds were trying to use him as bait for additional intel in Russia. It didn’t work out as the Russians didn’t trust the guy.

          So what does the FBI do with their play-thing ‘asset’? Well, it’s possible they decided to turn him into a mole in the Trump campaign.

          The reports suggest Page seemed to kind of ‘appear out nowhere’ in the campaign. It’s certainly possible Page was cut loose by the FBI after a job well done in breaking the previous case and he decided to get involved in the Trump campaign of his own accord, even on an unpaid basis.

          It’s also possible the FBI said, “good job, but we’ve got more work for you to do”. Again, no evidence that they did that, but it seems like it could help make sense of the current fact set, which seems awkward.

          I recall reading questions about why the Boston Marathon bombers were allowed to come and go from Chechnya a few times after the FBI had been tipped off by the Russians. One answer would be because they tried to turn the guy into an ‘asset’. Again, no evidence of course, all speculation. But, it’s a way of making the fact set fit together better than just “FBI was stupid and ignored warnings”.

        2. JohnnyGL

          Sorry, misread the question. Why would they need to monitor their own asset (he was an informant, not an employee)?

          They didn’t. He was a mole.

      3. bob

        Was he smuggling sex toys for the feds?

        That was part of his testimony.

        Anyone who puts him at, or anywhere near a spy scandal has lost their mind.

        Big purple dildo pointing *that way>>>*

        1. djrichard

          OK, watched the videos. My brain can only stand so much cognitive dissonance – I was expecting this Carter Page dude to be one sly fellow for the FISA to slap warrant on him.

          This guy is anything but. You don’t even need to understand the words coming out his mouth. Simply the way he speaks tells you he’s in waters that are way over his head. Talk about being a fish out of water.

          As Laura Ingraham says, who would want to be part of any presidential campaign if you knew that the FBI could be pulling this type of stuff. Any one of us could be a patsy like this guy. Unbelievable.

    1. integer

      I’m not sure how Trump’s actions on this matter could be regarded as anti-democratic. Perhaps my memory is failing, but I was under the impression he was recently elected President.

  8. The Rev Kev

    The right way to manage nuclear competition with Russia

    But would any American negotiators talking with their Russian counterparts be accused of collusion? Especially by the Washington Post? I find it hilarious that Michael McFaul is the lead author for this article. He was the U.S. ambassador to Moscow from 2012 to 2014 and he helped sour relations with the Russians no end, especially when he was found secretly ‘colluding’ with Russian opposition groups.
    In fact, Russia banned him ever going back about a year or so ago for taking an “active part in ruining bilateral relations [between the US and Russia] and persistently promoted the idea of exerting pressure on Moscow”. The article also forgets to mention that Bush pulled the US out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty back in 2002 which I would call a significant step in nuclear negotiations. Is McFaul really a person worth listening to on the subject of negotiations?

    1. Sid Finster

      “The Right Kind of Arms Race and MAD!” am I the really only person who finds this to be insane?

    2. integer

      Speaking of McFaul, Natalia Veselnitskaya was pictured sitting behind him in a 2014 House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing in 2014. Anyway, looks like Veselnitskaya is coming under the spotlight again, regarding Loretta Lynch issuing her an unusual “parole” VISA in September 2015 after she was denied a standard VISA earlier that year. The whole Russiagate thing is coming apart at the seams.

  9. Jim Haygood

    Major US stock indexes are green at 9:45 am.

    VIX briefly rose over 50 at the open as inverse funds are obliged to follow the ancient rule of Wall Street:

    He who sells whut isn’t his’n, buys it back or goes to prison.”

    The bit about “prison” is pure hyperbole, of course.

    VIX went as high as 80 in the Oct 1987 crash. But values above 40 are never sustained for long. They represent a “blood in the streets” buying opportunity.

      1. frosty zoom

        “And poor Mr. Bix!
        Every morning at six,
        poor Mr. Bix has his Borfin to fix!

        It doesn’t seem fair. It just doesn’t seem right,
        but his Borfin just seems to go shlump every night.
        It shlumps in a heap, sadly needing repair.
        Bix figures it’s due to the local night air.

        It takes him all day to un-shlump it.
        And then…
        the night air comes back
        and it shlumps once again!
        So don’t you feel blue. Don’t get down in the dumps.
        You’re lucky you don’t have a Borfin that shlumps.”

        theodor geisel, who rumour has the true voice behind paul simon’s musings..

        1. ambrit

          And don’t forget the recent reboot of one of Gissels’ early film ventures, now retitled; “The 5000 Finagles of Hillary C.”

          1. ambrit

            Oh well. Time to get on out and look for work. I got laid off last week. My unemployment cheque works out to $4.40 per hour, so…..
            “Welcome to da Sout!” (The template for the rest of the country if certain “powers and dominions” have their way.)

                1. ambrit

                  Thanks to all. I’m learning lots about being a ‘deplorable’ these last few years. Updates as anything interesting happens. (Where is that “Worlds Smallest Violin” when I need it?)

                  1. integer

                    IIRC, the company that used to manufacture the World’s Smallest Violins™ was bought out by a private equity firm in a hostile takeover, hollowed out, and ended up filing for bankruptcy. No wonder you are having a hard time locating one.

                    In all seriousness though, allow me to echo the sentiments of others here and send you my best wishes.

          2. frosty zoom

            i’m surprised she agreed to do that after the nineties disastrous rehash, “the gingrich who sold christians”.

            1. ambrit

              Yes, I was sorely disappointed at the ending of the ‘rehash.’ Instead of the gingrichs’ heart growing ‘three sizes that day,’ the very heart itself was redacted away!
              Not to quibble, but wasn’t it Saint Ronnie who ‘sold christians’ to the mullahs back in 1980? (Along with assorted munitions.) To their credit, the mullahs in Tehran actually did display signs of having hearts by releasing the christians from durance vile after Saint Ronnies’ apotheosis.

            1. ambrit

              As above, so below. ‘Moral’ support is as important as material in times of stress. Thanks again.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      I’ve also heard that this is an ancient rule of wall street:

      In a downturn, money is not destroyed. It is transferred.

      To us.

  10. Wukchumni

    It’s arbor day here, a box laden with a dozen from an internet nursery via UPS, showed up on our front doorstep yesterday. Fruit trees all seem to run around $25, no matter how rare of a variety they are.

    One of the new arrivals is a Flower of Kent apple tree, the very same that Newton figured out that gravity thing, watching an orb descend from on high.

    To keep them from harm’s way, it runs about $50 a tree for 3 metal posts and 7 foot high chicken* wire surrounding said triangular

    * A few years ago I was in OSH and asked the clerk where their chicken wire was?

    He gave me a pouty look and said “Sir, it’s called poultry wire now”. Political correctness to the nth degree, ha!

  11. Ranger Rick

    Had to smile while reading the Vox rebuttal, with its petty sniping over Roiphe’s Twitter references, mocking her implications of “thought policing” while proving her point with the same sentence and damning with faint praise — “Roiphe has certainly never let criticism stand in her way,” indeed. Movement politics is a messy business. Certainly no more so when you attempt to represent the views and opinions of roughly fifty percent of humanity.

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      The Vox article was a study in verbal violence……… pretending to be just the opposite. I.e.:

      “Roiphe’s piece is part of a larger strain of #MeToo backlash, one that casts survivors and their allies as repressive agents eager to punish anyone with whom they disagree. This view conflates criticism with prosecution and discomfort with oppression. The current conversation around sexual harassment and assault is new for many people, and it’s no surprise that some are uncomfortable.”

      Note the manipulative language throughout: every accuser is a ‘survivor’; every critique comes from the ‘uncomfortable’. It’s an Orwellian Newspeak tour de farce. The writer knows quite well that when ‘criticism’ is managed so that the ‘criticized’ aren’t allowed to present a defense, it is de facto prosecution. The sneering, condescension in the last sentence is particularly extreme, and begs for condemnation. It is a bit of wholly pretentious hauteur, devoid of balance, from a writer reveling in contempt for the whipping boys du jour.

      You know who is notably missing from this arch little piece? The women who — for decades — walked off of these ‘creative’ jobs rather than put up with this crap. Or the ones who continued within these businesses after taking a hit when they told some big guy to shut the **** up. The current Sturm und Drang is being whipped up primarily by the complicit, who want to horn in on some absolution now, not by those of us who ever stood apart and fought one by one against it over the years…. before it was fashionable. Before there was an elegant little mob action to revel in.

  12. Oregoncharles

    An editing error in the Emptywheel article: ” The Trump Administration’s deviation from past practice in destroying improperly obtained data would be responsible for any harm to Trump.”

    Shouldn’t “destroying” be in scare quotes? Is there the slightest evidence they really did it?

  13. ambrit

    Dear JHB;
    I know from relatives who live there that in Florida, they are not averse to pinchin da tails.

  14. Patrick Donnelly

    Trump represents those who OWN USA.

    They have been unhappy with the Deep State, who manage the USA for them! Trump is not Deep State, he is there to trim them down and allow the newer crowd to take over.

    US citizens are to continue to be farmed by their landlords, but under newer management.

    Oh, sorry, did I interrupt all that clever chatter? Please continue to obscure the reality….

  15. ewmayer

    o “As Bitcoin Bubble Loses Air, Frauds and Flaws Rise to Surface | NYT” — Hey, NYT, here’s some news for you: beneath that ‘surface’, there’s nothing but more frauds and ‘flaws’. IOW, there’s no ‘there’ there.

    o “The right way to manage nuclear competition with Russia | WaPo” — Um, not engaging it it? Yah, I know, that’ll never work because all those key members of WaPo subscriber and ownership base can’t massively enrich themselves by grifting off it. Sorry!

    o “Trump’s Lawyers Want Him to Refuse an Interview in Russia Inquiry | NYT” — Sound advice – let’s hope Trump’s ego doesn’t get in the way of him acceding to it. Mueller’s open-ended fishing expedition is bad enough, this would be a classic perjury trap – just ask Gen Flynn!

    o ““We are the death merchant of the world”: Ex-Bush official Lawrence Wilkerson condemns military-industrial complex | Salon” — After having made a well-paid career and cushy retirement nest egg from playing an important part in the same merchantry, naturally. I mean it’s good to recognize the error of one’s former ways, but really now, this sort of too-late-to-actually-do-anything-about-it chest-beating and evil-decrying seems to been perfected by our Overload class into a kind of late-life sin-expiation performance art. (Yeah, I’m also looking at you, Alan Greenspan).

    o Meet the Believers: The Afghanistan War’s US Commanders are Ready For a Reboot DefenseOne” — But will it be a thinking-outside-the-box disruptively smart reboot? Can any of our military Thought Leaders comment on this?

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