Links 3/4/18

Previously unknown ‘supercolony’ of Adélie penguins discovered in Antarctica (CL).

Baby hare ‘Emma’ saved from deep snow at Dublin Airport Sky News

Dramatic declines in snowpack in the western US Climate and Atmospheric Sciences

The Supreme Court Case That Could Give Tech Giants More Power NYT

Momentous Shift in US Natural Gas, with Global Consequences Wolf Street

Robert Bork’s America The American Conservative. On competition policy.


Theresa May’s road to Brexit: FT commentators on the speech FT (Clive). Clive: “The comments section is well worth a read, a lot of very well observed opinions.”

The hard truth about the border in Northern Ireland Socialist Worker (Clive).

Come to parliament, Sinn Féin, as saviours of Ireland – and Britain Guardian

Brexit and data protection Crooked Timber

Italy’s angry election Politico


Made in America, But Lost in Iraq Foreign Policy. “The U.S. company that repairs Iraq’s American-made M1A1 Abrams tanks has pulled many of its people from Iraq after at least nine of the armored vehicles ended up in the hands of pro-Iran militias. Now, many of Iraq’s tanks are immobilized for want of maintenance, potentially jeopardizing the country’s ongoing campaign against Islamic State militants.”

US Threatens to Sanction Iraq If They Buy Russian Air Defense Missiles

How ‘Operation Merlin’ Poisoned U.S. Intelligence on Iran Consortium News


China brings in ‘new mainstream’ to top advisory body South China Morning Post

Death in Beijing India Today. Interesting if true.

China’s super-rich lose political clout FT

The biggest company you may not know all that much about DC Velocity

Vietnam seeks to pacify China as landmark U.S. carrier visit signals warming ties Reuters

North Korea

South Korea names envoys to North Korea in bid to lower tensions and possibly arrange talks with U.S. Japan Times


Worker rights in India: when actions fail words Live Mint

New Cold War

1 big thing: The Mueller stories worth ignoring Axios

Hope Hicks’ secret diary: Publishers are reportedly scrambling for her tell-all Mercury News. “If you would care to verify the incident, pray do so. [Produces diary.] I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” –Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

* * *

Why Putin Is Rattling His Superweapons Bloomberg

Is MSNBC Now the Most Dangerous Warmonger Network? Truthdig

CIA whistleblower loses in court, sparking warning of ‘chill’ for those seeing abuse McClatchy

Behind the Scenes in Venezuela US News. “The Trump administration is intensifying its regime change efforts to potentially include torpedoing Venezuela’s presidential election.” Wait, what?

Trump Transition

Trump confidant Chris Ruddy on the president’s ‘inner Democrat’ FT. Be sure to read to the end.

227-year-old tree planted by George Washington torn down by wind The Hill

Trade Warz

Five takeaways on Trump’s tariffs The Hill. 6. The special election in PA-18 (Lamb v. Saccone) is in Pittsburgh. Steel…. Pittsburgh….

‘Don’t react’: trade experts look past Trump noise at NAFTA talks Reuters

Trump’s Tariff Plan Leaves Blue-Collar Winners and Losers NYT. Touching concern….

Making Globalization Work William Dudley, Federal Reserve Bank of New York

What Do Trade Agreements Really Do?* (PDF) Dani Rodrik

As trade agreements have evolved and gone beyond import tariffs and quotas into regulatory rules and harmonization, they have become more difficult to fit into received economic theory. Nevertheless, most economists continue to regard trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) favorably. The default view seems to be that these arrangements get us closer to free trade by reducing transaction costs associated with regulatory differences or explicit protectionism. An alternative perspective is that trade agreements are the result of rent-seeking, self-interested behavior on the part of politically well-connected firms – international banks, pharmaceutical companies, multinational firms. They may result in freer, mutually beneficial trade, through exchange of market access. But they are as likely to produce purely redistributive outcomes under the guise of “freer trade.”

Democrats in Disarray

When DCCC Calls, Hang Up the Phone The Nation. I dunno. Hanging up is probably better for the poor schlub in the DCCC’s call center, who has to make their numbers. On the other hand, stringing them along and then not giving them anything sucks up more DCCC resources. One for the judges.


The Florida legislature’s push to arm teachers, explained Vox

Inside the Federal Bureau Of Way Too Many Guns GQ (DK).

Class Warfare

‘All-In or Nothing’: West Virginia’s Teacher Strike Was Months in the Making NYT

West Virginia Teachers Didn’t Want to Strike. Now They Won’t Stop Bloomberg

The West Virginia Teachers’ Strike Takes Aim at Coal and Gas The New Republic

“But he’s not even a Democrat!”

Oklahoma teachers planning a statewide strike KTUL

* * *

The Dangers Of Automation: The Nation’s Eye-Candy Pool Boys Are Struggling To Compete With More Efficient, Sexier Pool-Cleaning Robots Clickhole

The dark reasons so many rich people are miserable human beings Moneyish (DL). Original. Yves points out that the study should adjust for local cost of living.

They asked for help with a broken furnace. A week later, a neighbor alerted police. Wichita Eagle

Electric wave engulfs brain at first blush of consciousness Yale Daily News

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. Henry Moon Pie

    Miserable rich people? One contributing factor not mentioned: guilt. If you’re making a ton of money, chances are very good that what you’re doing is hurting workers, consumers and/or the environment. After all, it’s for making others suffer that the billionaires pay top dollar.

    People who want to be happier need to be reducing their material wants and needs not trying to run faster on the hamster wheel. Tune out (the drivel). Turn off (the phone). Drop out (of the madness).

    1. The Rev Kev

      You would expect that the problems of rich people would be reflected in their kids. That is, that their kids would have problems with depression, drugs, suicides, etc. because of the household that they grew up in. Remember that rich kid that killed four people in a drunk-driving accident and got off that time because of his suffering “affluenza”? That sort of dysfunctional household.
      A 10-second Google search came up with the following article that would seem to confirm this thought-

    2. Wukchumni

      Be a rebel, and Drop out>doors

      The rain subsided for a few hours and I walked to the river, and along the way every boulder’s mass had gathered spongy moss, awakened from a slumber party by a prolonged dousing, like so many sponge blob square patches, some oval shaped.

      The real world is the same as it ever was, old and not improved.

    3. Sam Adams

      Le secret des grandes fortunes sans cause apparente est un crime oublié, parce qu’il a été proprement fait. – Balzac 1834

    4. perpetualPOOR

      The “being rich” article juxtaposed against the article of the two poor who died because of a broken furnace, the “guilt factor” seems heightened. However, I have known many rich who seem to have no guilt.

      I dated a Rockefeller who was a very sensitive, kind person. I heard later he ended up committing suicide, in all the unexpected places, a Howard Johnson room! I expect he didn’t like to find out where his wealth originated and how it was accumulated.

      1. JamesG

        Rockefeller and others invented an industry that did not exist and which played an essential role in the industrialization of the world with the result that ordinary people enjoyed higher living standards.

        John D sold kerosene to China in the 1800s, enabling the poor to have light after dark and, as a collateral benefit, saving the lives of whales who would not be slaughtered for their oil.

        Try aiming at people who got rich by, for example, manipulating financial markets, building casinos or producing violent films.

        (I hope no relatives of the man who killed himself read your comment.)

  2. PlutoniumKun

    The dark reasons so many rich people are miserable human beings Moneyish (DL). Original. Yves points out that the study should adjust for local cost of living.

    Seneca the Younger pointed this out 2,000 years ago. I believe he attributed the unhappiness of the rich to the raising of their expectations of life, and disappointment when they find that wealth can’t cure the basic ills of humanity.

    1. LifelongLib

      My household gross income was above $105K last year, but here in Hawaii that hardly makes you rich. My wife and I live in a town home (can’t afford a single-family house) in an ordinary non-gated community, and certainly aren’t spending money trying to keep up with fashion. We’re better off than many (have our own place, no debt other than mortgage) but I wouldn’t call us affluent. Yves is right that the article should have included the local cost of living in defining the income that makes you “rich”.

    2. M.Aurelius

      Having spent 50% of my life poor and then 50% in “the 1%”… I can say (in my experience at least) that the whole “money doesn’t make you happy” meme is just propaganda from the rich to stave off the pitchforks from the poor. (See also Christianity)

      1. LifelongLib

        Christianity is a mixed bag. It can be used to justify hierarchy (e.g. “The King is God’s representative on Earth”) or a radical leveling (e.g. “Only God is King, and all men are equal in His sight”). Historically it’s been used for both and everything in between.

      2. Yves Smith

        Haha, I agree. I know some rich people (high end 1%, may qualify for 0.1%, as in able to send kids to private schools and fancy colleges and not break a sweat) who seem about as happy as people who are in the professional classes get (you can’t be in them without some level of neuroticism to have performed well enough in school and observed the various other credentialing requirements) because, as the wag said, they have something most people don’t have, which is enough.

        As a McKinsey partner once observed, “Society is very well designed. Someone always has more.” If you are status competitive, you’ll always be unhappy or at least edgy and not satisfied. That is the type that article gets at. And Western society is very good at stoking those particular neuroses.

      3. Procopius

        Been trying to remember her name — Mahalia Jackson, maybe? Famous quote, “I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich. Rich is better.”

        I haven’t read the article, but I thought from the headline it would point out that most of the rich are not miserable, but are, indeed, miserable human beings. That’s because it’s a great advantage to be a psychopath when you’re competing for the really, really high positions. I believe there have been studies that show the 0.01% have a much higher ratio of psychopathy than the overall population.

    3. Paul Cardan

      Yes, there are some old ideas here. Much of what’s said in the article itself is most like what Epicureans would have said. They too conceived of happiness as satisfaction or contentment. Indulging what they called groundless or unnatural desires is a sure fire way to be dissatisfied. Groundless desires, as the name suggests, aren’t rooted in human nature, but are instead based on passing cultural realities, such as the fact that there’s a certain hierarchy among one’s fellow community members or that things of some kind count as money, and money counts as a means of payment for most anything. These desires are boundless, without limit, so satisfaction is impossible in principle. People inflict all sorts of harms on themselves in the course of getting even limited satisfaction, as with the effort to acquire and maintain a home that looks impressive to others. Epicureans also seem to have thought that we’re inclined to indulge such desires out of a refusal to accept our status as mortals, a refusal to accept that our time is limited. Wealth and power make people feel safe from any possible danger, including death. Like a child’s security blanket.

      Stoics such as Seneca would of course also have taken a dim view of people who indulge such desires, but for different reasons. People who act this way overrate external things, treating them as unconditionally good, believing that any increase in material possessions corresponds to an increase in well-being. For Stoics, that’s a crucial error, since all such things are what they called indifferents, things of a kind which, in principle, cannot by themselves make life better or worse A good or bad life depends, instead, on how a person chooses to deal with such things. They held that choosing to acquire wealth, for instance, is sometimes an excellent thing to do, but only relative to what one’s obligations are (as, for instance, a parent, or someone who finds himself/herself obliged to look after the health of a community). Anyway, people who overrate things like money are bound to be miserable, on the Stoic account, since they view their well-being as contingent on what they don’t really control. They’re slaves to external things, and, the more they acquire, the more enslaved they become.

    1. timbers

      Pretty sad the best Bloomberg can come up with for “analysis” is to project one of Trump’s characteristics onto Putin. Putin…he’s such an attention hound. Someone should take away his twitter.

      And Bloomberg even missed in it’s analysis that clearly Trump conspired with Putin to get Putin to act more like Trump. But I’m sure Mueller is about to indict some more Russians who didn’t pay their local city dog license and have overdue library books as a plot of Trump to make Putin more like Trump as a way of meddling in the election to steal Hillary’s presidency. Racheal Maddow will be vindicated.

    2. David

      I do wish journalists would drop this “arms race” nonsense, which very seldom describes what’s actually going on. An “arms race” is the competition to develop similar systems which can be used against each other to achieve dominance, or counter each other at some level. Bearing in mind that weapons development is something that happens all the time, I can only think of three actual “arms races” that made any difference. One (which was the original source of the idea) was the Anglo-German race to build Dreadnought battleships before WWI – the Germans gave that up quite quickly; The second was the UK/France vs the Germans in the 1930s to develop tanks, monoplane fighters and radars. The Germans lost the race but still won the initial battles. And the last I can think of was the race to develop survivable ICBM systems capable of striking the opponent’s homeland, which was a draw when both sides developed SLBMs, if not before. What’s going on here is not an arms race. Russia can already destroy the US several times overs and the US has no current or foreseeable countermeasures (the same is true in reverse of course). The issues are quite different.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, that article is very clumsy and poorly argued. I think there are what might be called sub-races. An obvious one being the race between the US to develop defences against ballistic missiles and the various attempts by nuclear States to ensure they can get through. This is always going to be shadow-boxing as nobody really knows how these systems will work in a hot war. And there is something of a numbers game going on between China and the US as far as naval forces in the Pacific, although China is only (so far) interested in areal denial, rather than full dominance.

        The irony is of course that this is one race that only the US can lose, because it is the one nation that insists on full spectrum global dominance. It has to constantly build and innovate to achieve ‘paper’ dominance in a vast array of technologies and environments. China is only ultimately interested in preventing US control of the western Pacific, and Russia is only concerned with securing its land borders and the interests of its allies (which increasingly includes Iran). This makes their task much easier, so long as they don’t make the mistake the Soviets did of over-extension and tit for tat weapons construction.

      2. Samuel Conner

        My interpretation of Putin’s announcement is that it is intended to apprise US nuclear war strategists that Russia is determined to preserve an effective deterrent to a US nuclear first strike. The goal is to return to the uneasy but stable balance of the MAD era.

        1. kemerd

          yes, indeed. I have difficulty in understanding why these people do not accept what Putin says as what he means and try to find some other motive with some twisted logic.

          But, another important implication but never discussed in most of these articles is that US surface fleet is made absolutely obsolete since last December (when the dagger missile was commissioned). Should those vessels cross some Russian red lines, they would be at the bottom of the ocean in less than 15mins. In fact, there is no difference between a missile cruiser or leisure cruiser for these missiles: they both don’t have any defenses against the dagger. The range of 2000km means that should Russia declare a section (a really big chunk, just combine the range of Mig-31 with the range of the missile) of oceans as no-go zones, US vessels cannot go in there unless the US government is prepared risk a nuclear war for a few ships even including carriers (which, I am sure, they are not). They are after all would have been warned

          1. LifelongLib

            It’s been pointed out that in the Falklands war half the British fleet would have been sunk if all the Argentine bombs that hit their targets had detonated. Luckily for the British Argentina wasn’t good at maintaining its ordinance. Surface fleets have been obsolete for decades.

            1. Procopius

              I don’t believe tha Aegis systems the U.S. Navy relies on have ever been actually tested against an attack by a large number of missiles. Also, the systems President (he’s President of the Russian Federation of States, almost sure to be elected Prime Minister again) Putin discusses in his speech are not particularly new. The Kalibr supersonic cruise missile was documented more than 18 months ago. I saw a description of the ICBM which has enough range to hit the U.S. by going over the South Pole at least eight months ago, and the news was not new then. Of course Americans are rarely told about such things because the vaunted anti-missile defenses don’t actually work very well and certainly would not against an attack with large numbers. Even large numbers of cruise missiles with conventional warheads would devastate an America that can’t even handle hurricanes which they’ve dealt with for centuries.

      3. Anke

        Dear David,

        I agree that the notion of an “arms race” is non-sense and I think you explained very well what an “arms race” actually is: a race between two opponents to build the same type of weapon. I think this sort of situation only arises between two opponents with similar resources (in both quantity and quality) and (very importantly in my view) with the same mindset.

        I am by no means a military expert/historian/strategist, I only base my opinion on limited selected literature, but here are my 2 pennies. Regarding Russia (its true culture, nature of its people, national heroes, etc.) I have still to find an expert who publishes in the media. I by now means want to say that there is absolutely no one out there who gets it (I am sure there are quite a few), but the people clearly do not have access to their thoughts. From the little I have read (written by Russians themselves), I get that the Russian psyche ticks in a very different way from that in which people in the West think it does. In the West, there is a more aggressive, confrontational stance to interactions, whereas from what I have read I get the feeling that the Russians seem to have a longer term view (more Oriental in this respect) and instead of “The best defence is offence”, they tend to think (as Lavrov himself said in a recent interview) “The smartest caves in”… so that you win at a later point in time! Finally, I remember reading an article at some point of how Putin admires the great Russian general Aleksandr Suvorov. If one searches for quotes of Suvorov, one will find a very interesting one: “Fight the enemy with the weapons he does not have.” So linking this quote to your definition of an arms race, one could argue that an arms race in not in sight. I actually remember havign read an article in the past about how Putin himself stated that they will not succumb to an arms race, but develop their defence capabilities asymmetrically.

        So, although I am sure that there is a lot of showing off on behalf of the Russians (for both internal and external audience), it simply might be that they have learnt from both their recent and not so recent past and have adapted their strategy so that it fits with their resources.


        1. Procopius

          I’m glad you mentioned strategy. I’ve been baffled by American behavior, because it has seemed for at least 60 years that we do not have a strategy, either in our military actions or in foreign policy. I suspect it’s partly due to the fact that no officer stays in one job for more than three years. Same with Foreign Service officers due to the fear they might “turn native” and develop sympathy for the people where they are stationed.

    3. Edward E

      Sources are saying that Vladimir Putin has scrapped this weapon and decided they’d ‘better not mess with those guys’ after seeing the US President’s take down of overrated Alec Baldwin.

    4. Bill Smith

      How do we know this isn’t just like the old days when the Soviets flew their same 8 bombers around Red Square a couple of times in a row to pretend they had lots of them? Thus began the “Bomber Gap”. Then later the Soviets exaggerated their missile capabilities to start the “Missile Gap”. Its sure cheaper to say you have something than actually build.

      The US fell right into both of them.

      Russian newspapers are saying the animated video from the ICBM was first shown in a decade ago.

      Here’s a tweet Pravda published from a Russian that stuck me:

      “Putin said that the new missile already exists, but victory over poverty, cheap mortgage, good roads, high-quality healthcare – all this is yet to come. Can’t he do the opposite?”

      Doesn’t sound much different that someone here would say (changing only the first word in that tweet).

      1. a different chris

        So freaking Pravda is harder on the Russian gummint that the NYT/WaPo axis is on ours. Awesome.

        1. Katsue

          Pravda is quite literally an opposition newspaper – it’s the newspaper of the Russian Communist Party.

      2. ambrit

        I find it quite believable that the American government found an ‘anything’ gap preferable to quiescence.
        Peace and comity do not feed the beasts.

    5. Doug Hillman

      Yeah (fist-pump)! We now have Putin exactly where he wants US. Let the MIC pork-fest frenzy begin; Vlad’s got popcorn.

      Breshidsky’s dubious premises are predictable anchors for propaganda. The supposition that “Putin wants respect” is a subtle projection of mere egotism to preempt what is more likely a sincere desire to end US meddling, regime-change and aggressive wars.

      Likewise the imagery of Putin baring his fangs “from a position of weakness” is pure wishful presumption. Yes, Russia spends 1/10 what the US does on its war industry, yet it has effectively thwarted imperial ambitions in Georgia, the Ukraine, and Syria.

      Breshidsky’s right about one thing: now the US is certain to swallow the bait and kick off a renewed binge of MIC lard gluttony on ungainly new over-teched weapons — and ultimate bankruptcy when the almighty dollar loses currency. Putin is a far superior Chessmaster than Breshidsky allows.

      1. Oregoncharles

        The point was made many years ago that there is effective collusion between the US and Russian militaries to keep pumping up each other’s budgets.

      1. Yves Smith

        Putin’s win is not in doubt. His popularity ratings have been high and got even higher when the West imposed sanctions.

        His concern is low turnout.

  3. timbers

    The Supreme Court Case That Could Give Tech Giants More Power NYT

    “the Second Circuit reversed, relying on a new concept to create a special set of rules. The concept is that players in “two-sided” markets are unique because they serve different sets of customers in distinct but related markets, effectively facilitating transactions. American Express, for example, charges both merchants who accept its cards and consumers who use them. Using this concept, the Second Circuit held that the government would have to show that any price increases for merchants also harmed cardholders, or at least didn’t benefit them. In effect, the court introduced a dramatically new rule, making it much more difficult to win important antitrust cases and to stop anticompetitive behavior.

    Using the logic of the brainiac Ivy Legue’ers on the Supreme Court can easily defeat this argument:

    Since corporations are people endowed by their creator (God) with constitutional rights, Home Depot or any other corporation can claim their free speech to express an opinion about credit cards in a violation of their Corporate Person.

    Therefore, one need NOT show both sides of the market are harmed, merely that Home Depot’s corporate personhood is.

    Home Depot is thus constitutionally protected to express it’s opinion – in both words and actions – with regard to credit cards.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      I’m definitely not a lawyer, but this part –

      …the government would have to show that any price increases for merchants also harmed cardholders…

      -seems pretty easy to prove.

      Neoliberalism has tried to make it seem that it’s only the government that can impose regulation and fees on markets and when the threat of that occurs, we immediately hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth that the poor corporations will be forced to pass any increased cost on to consumers and that would be a bad thing.

      So when it’s a corporation imposing an unnecessary increased fee on to another corporation, shouldn’t the same logic apply? It would seem to be a simple argument to show that the merchant will pass increased fees to the customer in this case and that the customer/cardholder was harmed as a result.

      But of course the Supremes don’t care to use logic on many occasions if doing so would harm their benefactors – see Bush v Gore.

  4. allan

    From the CIA whistleblower story:

    Pars began a one-year assignment in December 2014 as a deputy chief of base in an unidentified war zone wracked by rocket attacks. His stint was cut short after barely three months.

    His CIA superior at the base, Pars said, “would get depressed and get into cooking spells for hours. Baking was her specialty.” …

    The superior would take employees on “trips for food, shopping or trips to the gym” even if it exposed them to potential rocket attacks, Pars said in his lawsuit. …

    Rather than carping about the fact that Snowden should have gone through official channels
    whistleblower protections in the intelligence community are a complete farce,
    shouldn’t we be celebrating the fact that Pars’ boss dealt with depression by non-pharmaceutical therapies
    such as cooking, shopping and exercise?

    1. Andrew Watts

      We should be celebrating the fact that Pars’ boss didn’t have anything better to do in Afghanistan*. You know, like maybe spending some time torturing some folks? Wait a second, why was Pars’ boss so depressed?! Anyway, I sincerely hope that Pars’ life gets ruined for trying to make the CIA productive and for being non-white and succeeding at joining’em.


      “…but I’m not white? Yo, don’t you know what they do to n—ers in the US? It ain’t being James Bond that’s for sure.”


      *I’m only assuming that their location is somewhere in Afghanistan by the way. I mean c’mon the threat of getting mortared going to the gym? That’s a tough neighborhood to risk going to for some yoga or tai chi.

  5. Wukchumni

    Dramatic declines in snowpack in the western US Climate and Atmospheric Sciences
    I’ve noticed in our time here on the front porch of the back of beyond, that snow doesn’t linger long in the mid elevation zone of the Sierra, whereas it used to have more staying power.

    It’s the same elevation zone as where the bulk of the 129 million newlydeads* are, from about 3,500 to 7,200 feet, here on the western slope~

    * When they first expired, they are termed ‘red trees’ as they have all of their needles on, and the color is really more ocher. A couple years on the needles are gone and the new moniker for the standing skeleton, is ‘grey trees’.

    1. JCC

      I’ve lived on the lower east side of the Sierras for 7.5 years now and 8 years of winter. Last year was the only year I could see snow pack in the Sierras 20 miles away that lasted more than a week or two. It showed from December until April. This year I’ve seen it once, 4 days ago, a small section that lasted 24 hours.

      There is snow up there but I can’t see it from here. Scary.

      I was told when I first moved here that 50 years ago the water table averaged about 40 feet below the surface. recently i was informed that it is now well over 300 feet below the surface.

      Between the lack of snow pack and the local increase in population due to the Navy Base here (and the base itself), as well as L.A. sucking all the water out of Owens Lake and the rest of what is left of easily gotten water, I often wonder how much longer will this place continue to exist?

    2. crittermom

      :Here in NM where I currently live, we’ve only had one small snowfall this entire winter & it was gone within 24 hrs.
      The wind has been howling today since noon at a steady 45-50 mph, I estimate, with gusts around 60. Some of this state is already under extreme fire danger–& it’s only early March. We’re in trouble…

      1. ambrit

        We here in Mississippi had not one but two snow ‘events’ this winter. The cold white stuff stayed on the ground for about a week each time. Very unusual for these environs. Yesterday, we hit eighty F. The “warm arctic, cold continent” effect seems very real to us now. Locals are very worried about Summer. Extremes being what they are, speculation about the “new normal” for our region is all over the place.
        The real lesson here is that, climatologically speaking, extremes are the norm. Humans have been very lucky the last few millennia with the climate.

  6. PlutoniumKun


    China’s super-rich lose political clout FT

    The political fortunes of China’s “super wealthy” have suffered a dramatic reversal with a much reduced presence at the country’s annual parliamentary session, reflecting the diminished standing of the country’s richest under President Xi Jinping.

    According to the Hurun report, which tracks the fortunes of China’s wealthiest people, the number of renminbi billionaires who will be attending next week’s sessions of the country’s new parliament and a parallel advisory body has fallen to 153 from 209 at the 12th National People’s Congress, which sat from 2012 to 2017. Roughly 3,000 delegates sit in the NPC, and 2,200 in the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress.

    Its seems that Xi has looked north (and maybe across the Pacific) and seen the dangers of letting billionaires form an oligarchy. He really is super serious about centralising power and reform (of whatever form ‘reform’ will take).

    Incidentally, I sent a link for the article:

    Death in Beijing India Today. Interesting if true.’

    to a friend also in ireland using WeChat. It was blocked ‘non-compliant material’. It seems its considered more than a little sensitive. And maybe I’m on a watchlist now (or another one).

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I don’t know about Xi, but I remember an article about the state of the Communist Party in China in the last few years. The kids of the new class of capitalists would go to the U.S. and join the world of business, but they didn’t join the Communist Party or participate, only believers did. This has been a phenomenon since 1991. The lack of one to three unique personalities has kept the Communists in check, but the Party still controls the state. Xi likely doesn’t have much of a choice not being elevated in a popular election.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I think this is changing quite a bit as the CCP has been determined to maintain its control, in particular in information technology. Companies like Tencent (who own WeChat) were allowed to grow pretty much independently, but more recently they have been firmly taken under indirect State control. Make no mistake, even the very rich owners of strategic industries have limited scope to do what they want. Their only options if they don’t like this is to leave forever (and even then, China has shown a willingness to pursue people abroad).

        A few years ago I would have said that China was being oligolopolised (if thats a word) in the Russian way. But Xi has firmly put them in their place. There is only one power to be permitted in China, and thats the Party, for good or ill.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I don’t like to over personalize these kinds of changes. The rank and file party members don’t have their own leader to challenge Xi, but Xi isn’t a charismatic leader who could fight the party members as the absence of an election means no legitimacy. He lacks the power to put the party down, so if he wants to keep being President (I imagine he lives in a big house and goes on cool trips), he needs to keep the Party happy or at least content enough to avoid conflict. In the end, he is just staff and descends from the Old Guard. Politics is still local.

          I like to use Moscow, Washington, Beijing, etc, because not everyone is worth a name check. Putin is probably the only worthwhile personality, mostly owing to his rise as he checked the potential for revenge against Yeltsin’s cronies at least on a large scale.

          1. Andrew Watts

            I don’t know about that. It kinda looks like Xi used the anti-corruption crusade to purge anybody that could threaten his control of the party apparatus.

        2. Altandmain

          The fascinating question is what is worse?

          A oligarchy of billionaires like in Russia and increasingly the Western world, or the authoritarian rule of Xi?

          I think that the question is which one is more benevolent dictatorship? The billionaires seem to have what are known as “illiberal democracy” where elected basically a sham. All of the candidates are controlled by the billionaires and the rich. Xi seems to favor a hard authoritarian system.

          I suspect that the answer comes down to how much of the productivity gains go to the people versus how much go to the elite. For the past couple of decades, the West has done worse on this front. At least in some respects, China has transformed a significant percentage of its poor into middle class citizens.

    2. David

      I wonder sometimes whether we shouldn’t also take account of umpteen thousand years of Chinese history and culture, and in particular the Confucian ethic. In the Confucian system, you had basically “scholars”, who ran the government, “merchants” and then “peasants” in that order. Merchants were expected to show deference to scholars.Traditions this well established in societies don’t disappear overnight, and of course the CPC can be seen as the inheritor of the “scholar” mantle – quite a good fit really. I’ve observed this process at work in both Japan and Korea, and that makes me wonder whether perhaps the “merchants” are being put back in their place a bit. But those who know modern China better may be able to offer a better opinion.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I’m always a little resistant to ‘its their culture’ type explanations, but I think its certainly true that China is still at its heart a Confucian society. The Chinese I think have a respect for power and authority which is independent of respect for wealth (although they certainly respect that).

        But I do think that the primary driver behind Chinese policy is that they are particularly acute students of other countries successes and mistakes. The CCP fully intend staying in power for generations. They’ve looked in detail at how the US and Europe function (they even, for example, studied in depth the success of the Shannon development area in Ireland in the 1960’s and explicitly used it as a model for their new cities). They’ve studied how the Japanese first grew rapidly, then blew up in the 1990’s. They’ve looked at the terrible mistakes the Russians made in the 1990’s.

        This doesn’t mean they will avoid the pitfalls, in particular the so called middle-income trap (they are almost obsessed with making the transition beyond it). But they are highly aware that they are following development patterns that others have done, and are determined to take a rational approach to avoiding the mistakes others have made. Much as I loathe much about the CCP, I have to say that I’m constantly amazed at just how skilled they’ve proven to be at steering through such stormy waters so far. The next big challenge is to make the jump into ‘developed’ status while avoiding a catastrophic debt crisis. I’ll be in awe of Xi if he succeeds in this.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Ireland being one of the first countries to recognize them after they won the civil war, it’s not surprising they looked to their friend’s economic model.

          One unique economic feature of China is her size. The GDP can be impressive, but on a per capita basis, they have much to catch up. Take the GNI (Gross National income) per captia for example, they rank below world-average (10,308 US dollars) at number 65 (US$8,250)*. We can look at other per capita measures as well.

          *From Wikipedia, List of Countries by GNI.

        2. Norb

          Human civilization always seems to be struggling with resolving the differences between collectivism and individuality. The ideological differences between Western and Eastern thought forming a dividing line, at least in broad outline, along that social fissure.

          I found your pointing out the current crackdown on corruption in China, indeed fascinating. What is interesting is the failure of Democratic institutions in dealing with corruption. Now we are seeing real time examples of authoritarian systems attempting at dealing with the problem and will soon be able to judge the results.

          People can say what they will about Russia, China, and North Korea, but I suspect that the media hysteria surrounding these authoritarian countries is mostly an attempt to mask the failures of the west at successfully dealing with contemporary social problems. Namely, fraud and corruption and an unworkable vision for the future.

          One thing is for certain, human society must be planned. What will emerge in the future is what systems offer more effective social planners and builders. My faith in western dominance and effectiveness is shaken almost daily.

          Citizens should demand intelligent leaders making rational decisions based primarily on overall wellbeing. Can that assertion be made today about western leaders? I would say NO.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The traditional order:

        1. Scholars
        2. Farmers
        3. Artisans
        4. Merchants

        (see Four Occupations, Wikipedia).

        Business people at the bottom.

        But if soldiers (especially scholar-soldiers from the PLA) are also business-people, they can, I suppose, jump to the top.

        Merchants were put in their place back in the 60s during the Cultural Revolution.

        Before that, I recall the founder of the Ming dynasty relocating all the rich merchants of the Yangtze delta to north and to Nanjing. And also this from the Wikipedia (Hongwu emperor):

        Supported by the scholar-bureaucrats, he accepted the Confucian viewpoint that merchants were solely parasitic. He felt that agriculture should be the country’s source of wealth and that trade was ignoble. As a result, the Ming economic system emphasised agriculture, unlike the economic system of the Song dynasty, which had preceded the Yuan dynasty and had relied on traders and merchant for revenues. The Hongwu Emperor also supported the creation of self-supporting agricultural communities.

        But, in the next paragraph:

        However, his prejudice against merchants did not diminish the numbers of traders. On the contrary, commerce increased significantly during the Hongwu era because of the growth of industry throughout the empire. This growth in trade was due in part to poor soil conditions and the overpopulation of certain areas, which forced many people to leave their homes and seek their fortunes in trade. A book titled Tu Pien Hsin Shu,[citation needed] written during the Ming dynasty, gave a detailed description of the activities of merchants at that time.

        1. Lord Koos

          I don’t think farmers have been number two in the Chinese hierarchy for a very long time. My first wife was from Beijing and used the term “farmer” (AKA peasant) to describe a person who is ignorant and has no taste. Likewise in Thailand, farmers are at the bottom rung of society, even though it can be argued that they have the most important jobs in the country.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            It was only a few decades ago, that Mao differed with Marx, and believed that peasants could lead a revolution, and not industrial workers.

            1. ambrit

              I’m not so sure that either Mao or Marx expected the workers and peasants to actually lead the revolution. That would properly be the function of the Vanguard Cadres, actually a form of the Scholar class. I’ll posit that Western Credentialism has blinded many of us to the true nature of Scholarship. I think that the Orthodox Hebrew elders figured this out, from which lesson they promulgated the edict that Rabbinical Scholars also had to learn a trade to support themselves when things got iffy in the God Business.

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Furthermore, because wealth in China today (and for centuries, beginning with the end of the West Jin dynasty in the third and fourth century) is concentrated in the Yangtze Delta and other coastal areas in the south, and in Beijing, it’s easy to understand the need to ‘put rich merchants in their place.’

        Chinese in the rural hinterland want to be heard and a better wealth distribution.

        1. ambrit

          With global warming, the populations of the plains will be forcefully redistributed far, far inland.

          1. The Rev Kev

            They may also have to make room for all the people evacuated from the coastal cities too as they flood due to sea level rising. Shanghai itself has 20 million people in and around the city that may eventually have to be moved. And that is just one city.

    3. Oregoncharles

      That last paragraph: WTF, PK? I don’t know what WeChat is, exactly, but I really wonder why they’d be worried about that of all articles. Is this something specifically Irish?

      1. ambrit

        s/ Could it properly be spelled OuiChat, the Eurocentric repository of feline videos of all sorts? /s

      2. PlutoniumKun

        WeChat is a Chinese app for calls and texts and groups, similar to WhatsApp or Skype (but in the past it was better than both). It used to be free and very easy to use and is massively popular all over Asia.

        It used to be censored, but only within the ‘great firewall’, and even then it was more or less soft-touch. I’d send links to my friends in China, the link would get through, but they’d be unable to open it (but screenshots would get through ok). But it would not be a problem for anyone outside China.

        But Tencent, the owner, has been sat upon by the Chinese government, so now everything is closely monitored and censored. This is the first time I’ve encountered sending a link to someone within Europe to find it was censored by WeChat. Clearly they have a constantly updated list of articles critical of Xi and the Party, which are now verboten on any Chinese owned app, no matter where in the world you are.

  7. Schnormal

    Today is the fifth anniversary of the publication of “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us,” Steven Brill’s award-winning Time magazine article:,2,26,MedicalCostsDemandAndGreed.pdf

    The 24,000-word article was important because it exposed the chargemaster, a secret internal price list that hospitals use to price gauge patients.

    While Brill doesn’t directly advocate a single-payer system in the article (it’s presented as the obvious solution, but unfeasible because doctors will take a pay cut), he’s reportedly since come around.

    Not having a single payer system has caused tens of thousands of needless deaths since Brill’s article was published.

  8. Tom Stone

    That GQ article on the BATFE is amusing to anyone who knows anything about the Agency.
    BATFE has a long standing reputation as the most corrupt and incompetent federal law enforcement Agency for good reason.
    They have been tasked with the registration of fully automatic and select fire weapons ( Assault Rifles) since the passage of the NFA in 1934 and that registry is so riddled with duplications and inaccuracies that it is useless.
    BATFE couldn’t even keep track of the thousands ( The exact number is classified) of guns they conspired to sell to the Mexican Cartels in the various “Gunwalker” programs.
    Most States have quite comprehensive firearms registration laws, they don’t do much good in solving crimes because criminals use stolen guns and if daddy gets drunk and shoots his wife he’s usually standing there wondering what happens next.

    1. cgregory

      What we need is every gun purchaser his/her own firearms regulator. To wit, a law that says “If you buy a weapon, you will be responsible for its use during its entire existence. If it passes from your possession as a still recognizable or usable weapon and is used in a crime, you will be held as an accomplice. The only way you can absolve yourself of this responsibility is to destroy it.”

      Every would-be purchaser of a weapon would have to consider whether he/she wanted it SuperGlued to his/her hands forever. They would be foolish to leave it poorly secured, to lend it, give it away, pawn it, or sell it. “You can have my gun when you unglue it from my cold, dead hands.”

      As 81% of gun homicides are committed with someone else’s weapon, we would see a sharp reduction in them. Gun manufacturers would love the law, as it would create a boom in the sale of new weapons.

      We already have at least one law which holds persons (yes, we can now call corporations persons) responsible for articles they never had anything to do with, so we can have this as a law.

  9. Chromex

    Re-the poor guy who has to make his numbers is irrelevant if he does not get money which is what they are after. So I vote for hanging up.It is not just their time and resources that are sucked up if you string them along. Your time is sucked up too. Life being short and all. Just do not give them what they are after and devote your time to whatever .

    1. Arizona Slim

      If my caller ID shows a number I don’t recognize, I don’t answer the phone. That’s my robo call avoidance strategy.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Nah, I have a better idea. Just put a player by your phone with tinny obscure classic music on it and a female voice saying every minute or so “Your call is important to us. Please hold” and “This call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance or training purposes.” Spread the joy!

      1. Wukchumni

        Back in the day when i’d get an annoying call, i’d ask if they could be put on hold, and then do a mock hold, allowing them to hear my imaginary conversation with the Dali Lama or maybe a mafioso type on the other end, or sometimes the President.

          1. Yves Smith

            I clicked on one at the first link, a Viagra one, natch. OMG the guy was selling everything….Adderall, Oxycontin, was even citing the Wolf of Wall Street as an authority on what performance to use and was recommending cocaine and morphine. You cannot make this stuff up. This could be my alternative to cat videos for the next few weeks.

      2. ambrit

        The final insult would be the inclusion of that high pitched fax machine warble at the end of the tape. The perfect end to a wonderful day!

  10. Marco

    I posted this way down-thread in yesterday’s links but would like to know NC commentariat thoughts about Matt Stoller tearing into Stephanie Kelton on Twitter regarding the steel tariffs. Another example of economist professionals economizing workers out of existence?

    “POTUS doesn’t understand that, in real terms, imports are a benefit and exports are a cost. Working to lower our standard of living. Sad!”

    “This is only true if you see humans as consumers instead of citizens. The ability to build and produce things is not a cost, it is what wealth actually means. It binds communities [snip] Her assumptions about human nature are impoverished and reactionary.”

    1. John Zelnicker

      March 4, 2018 at 8:49 am
      I’m not sure that Stoller really understands what Kelton is saying. When we import goods, we get real items (even if some are crap) in exchange for bits and bytes or pieces of paper, and the reverse for exports. Since we have unlimited bits and bytes available (our sovereign currency) we really don’t need any more. I don’t see Kelton as commenting on our ability to build and produce other than to say we are sending this wealth out of the country, benefiting others.

      In other words, it’s not the ability to produce goods that’s a cost, it’s exporting those goods that’s a real cost. If those goods were sold in the US instead of being exported, it would increase our overall wealth (ignoring distribution issues). Stoller misses this point.

      1. Marco

        “Ignoring distribution issues”…

        Isn’t that Stoller’s whole point? Most of the profit / benefits of globalization / free trade is “distributed” or captured by the elite. So what’s the point of free trade?

        1. John Zelnicker

          March 4, 2018 at 10:02 am
          I agree with your statement about profit, etc., but I don’t see that in Stoller’s comment. He writes about “ability to build” and “bind[ing] communities” which I agree with, but I don’t see where distribution issues are included in that.

        2. Brian L.

          Later Stoller tweets

          “… Her assumptions about human nature are impoverished and reactionary.” I think that’s more the point. I’m disappointed in Mr. Stoller. That was unsubstantiated and unnecessary.

          Kelton and “official” MMT advocate for a job guarantee. They advocate for government increasing demand and putting unproductive resources to use. A steel factory isn’t the only thing that can bind a community (and it’s surely not the best). I think Stoller is being disingenuous and has something personal against Kelton/MMT. I like them both. It’s a shame.

          If Stoller sees the social and cultural disintegration occurring in many places around the country and really gives a shit, attacking Kelton achieves what exactly?

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think the point above is that

        1. When we import, we don’t just get real items for bits and bytes or pieces of paper
        2 We also don’t need real human workers here, in this country, to make those real items.

        1. John Zelnicker

          March 4, 2018 at 10:03 am
          Since you are replying to my comment at 9:33 am, I have to say that neither of your 2 points are correct as an explanation of what I was saying. If you were not referring to the points I was making, I still think you are wrong.

          What else do we get when we import real goods? And, where in this thread do you see anyone making the point that we don’t need real human workers to make those real items, cause I missed it?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I wrote ‘human workers, here, in this country.’

            I assume you’re thinking human workers, in the world.

            (And #1 was not intended as an explanation. It repeated what you wrote, in order to contrast with #2).

            1. John Zelnicker

              March 4, 2018 at 11:32 am
              So, what else do we get when we import real items for bits and bytes?

              Of course, we need real human workers to make the real products in this country, I never said otherwise. The issue started out that exporting those real products made here by real human US workers is a cost to the economy on one level, but overall, it’s complicated.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I will go with your earlier comment:

                March 4, 2018 at 11:07 am
                To the extent that imports offset domestic production, you are correct. That is the big problem with trying to make a point in one sentence, none of this is straightforward and without complexity or nuance. There are also plenty of imports that don’t offset domestic production.

                I would never claim that free trade is an unmitigated benefit. It’s not, it’s complicated, as you say. So yeah, we could do without that tired rhetoric.

                It’s complicated, as diptherio said, and you agreed.

                And imports, but not all of them, offset domestic production.

                Also, we agree no one claims free trade is an unmitigated benefit.

                But a few here don’t agree that imports are a benefit, as Kelton said, because

                1. making a big point in one sentence is difficult, for her, you or anyone.

                2. Imports are sometimes a benefit, sometimes a cost (because sometimes they offset domestic production, or sometimes they are offered below production cost, i.e. dumped, etc).

                3. the result of 2 is that the net benefit/cost varies.

      3. todde

        No, we don’t exchange trade goods for bits and bytes and paper.

        That money all.comes back and but capital assets and debt.

        We are exchanging trade goods for our wealth and debt (future wealth).

        1. Mel

          Under normal rules yes, but who needs normal rules? We can default. All it would take is freezing Chinese banks’ US$ accounts at the Bank for International Settlements and at the FED. Kicking them off SWIFT would be a bonus. There might be hell to pay in non-financial ways, but technically it would be easy.
          One reason that China might be so into gold (but not a reason for them being so into other hard assets).

          1. Wukchumni

            1949 and the disappearance of paper wealth is still in living memory in China, thus their penchant for real things of value no matter the metal.

          2. todde

            You will still get your asset and debt bubbles, and eventually the physical assets supporting the asset bubbles and the debt bubbles can’t sustain them, and you will have to bail them out.

            Eventually the political ability to bail them out evaporates, and you get a crash

        2. John Zelnicker

          March 4, 2018 at 10:09 am
          Our wealth is not the dollars that we produce on an ad hoc basis at no cost by typing numbers into a computer, our wealth consists of the real resources, i.e., the land, people, and productive capacity of the US. So yes, some of that is being purchased by foreign entities, but the goods are still being produced here and adding to the real wealth of the US, regardless of who gets a few more bits and bytes to add to their profit as owners.

          The “debt” is exchanged for already-existing dollars and can be redeemed at any time by the issuance of new dollars. It is not our future wealth.

          1. Mel

            purchased by foreign entities, but the goods are still being produced here and adding to the real wealth of the US

            But Kelton’s point is otherwise. When the goods leave our shores, we no longer have the use of them. We have given that up in exchange for a bit-pattern in a computer file that we use to record bank-account balances.
            This Kelton/Stoller argument is unusual in that there really are two sides.
            When the Titans of Industry sent all that industry to China, by the same stroke they arranged the transfer a lot of money, that would have circulated in the U.S., to China. The money that left the U.S. was the money that would have given a huge proportion of the population a stake in life in the U.S. The lost product is a non-issue to those people because they couldn’t afford to get their hands on that product anyway. I think that is Stoller’s point.

            The Trump tariffs will shelter U.S. steel and aluminum producers, whoever they are, with high prices while they expand capacity so as to provide more to U.S. manufacturers. Will they expand?
            Without tariffs, the low-priced foreign steel and aluminum gave U.S. manufacturers an opportunity to expand operations so as to provide more to the U.S. markets, consumer and otherwise. Did they expand? So many questions.

            1. Oregoncharles

              We’ve seen reports over and over that corporations were sitting on funds rather than using them to expand capacity, essentially because they didn’t see enough demand. Of course, competition from cheaper foreign producers might be a factor, too.

              In short, I think the answer to your question is mostly No.

          2. todde

            What you dismiss as bytes and bits are time and labor to the working class.

            If you think they will continue to support unlimited money creation forever I am afraid you’re wrong.

            Ubi might fix the problem, or it might not.

          3. Oregoncharles

            IOW, finance is almost pure vaporware, and that’s what MMT amounts to.

            No wonder the PTB don’t like it.

      4. diptherio

        Stoller understands perfectly. As he says, looking only at the benefits of imports (cheaper goods) assumes that we are essentially consumers. The other side of the coin is that imports off-set domestic production. The availability to buy a cheaper X, due to importation, means fewer jobs in the US for people making X. That’s what Stoller is pointing out: we don’t just desire cheap goods, we also want decent jobs. We are producers, not only consumers.

        Claiming that free trade policies are an unmitigated benefit for USians is simply lying by omission. They benefit some and harm others. Failing to be honest about that simple fact is self-defeating, and insulting to those of us who are able to take a more holistic, and realistic, view of the situation. “All free trade agreements are good for ‘the US’ ” is an argument I’ve been hearing since the 90s, and it’s not only wrong on multiple levels (who is ‘the US,’ for instance), but it’s no longer even effective rhetoric.

        1. Marco

          Stephanie Kelton is a much revered MMT’er here and on Twitter. I know we can’t reduce people and arguments to simple black and white but this seems like a fundamental blinder on her part.

          1. Adam Eran

            Twitter has only 140 characters. Not enough space for the Job Guarantee that Kelton also espouses (which really diminishes the force Stoller’s argument).

            Technology that limits human interaction to abbreviated point scoring…the gift that keeps on giving.

            1. a different chris

              Our jobs are going to be opening boxes that the Chinese send us for free? Sign me up!

              Well, if they would stop mixing crap into the infant formula. See, here’s another of the many things the economic profession misses – big mistakes (crimes) made far away are harder to detect than the guy doing it down the street.

              1. Marco

                Baby formula from China OR software products/services from India. Perhaps economists can come up with an offsetting variable for their models.

        2. John Zelnicker

          March 4, 2018 at 11:07 am
          To the extent that imports offset domestic production, you are correct. That is the big problem with trying to make a point in one sentence, none of this is straightforward and without complexity or nuance. There are also plenty of imports that don’t offset domestic production.

          I would never claim that free trade is an unmitigated benefit. It’s not, it’s complicated, as you say. So yeah, we could do without that tired rhetoric.

        3. Oregoncharles

          Which is more important to most people: their job, or the price of cheap (or even expensive) plastic objects?

        4. Paul Cardan

          “We are producers, not only consumers.”

          What a strange thing to say. It’s true enough, but still strange. Would Medieval Europeans have thought of themselves this way? Is that what monks were all about? Producing and consuming? If an ancient Greek citizen of a 5th century polis had heard himself and his fellows so described, I’m sure he’d have laughed, pointed in the direction of other people, and said “I’m afraid you have us confused with them.” He’d have pointed at the slaves. This is not because Greek citizens thought of themselves as consumers only. Yes, they’d have admitted the necessity of eating, and it might have seemed to them, shortage of arable land notwithstanding, that the world must be peopled. But a human life, they would have thought, surely must involve more than stuffing one’s face and making babies. Any animal can do the latter.

          But what does this have to do with trade deficits? Well, there’s that saying about rearranging deck chairs.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            They might think of themselves as shepherds.

            Today, the modern word or its equivalence might be ‘producers.’

            Stoller used the word ‘citizens.’ He did not use the word ‘producers.’

            And I read Diptherio’s comment to mean we are producers, rather than ‘we only live as producers.’ And we consume (or we eat, drive etc) among other activities, and not ‘we only live to consume.’

            1. Paul Cardan

              Citizens, eh? You mean consumers of technocratic services offered by competing groups of elites? Or something else? Technocratic services are, if I’m not mistaken, supposed to include delivery of jobs, as joblessness is a terrible state for anyone living in a society in which it is expected that one produce (be a producer), as in make stuff (albeit not necessarily lasting stuff; readily disposable junk and services will suffice). Politicians are also supposed to ensure that society as a whole flourishes relative to a particular standard: GDP, which I believe has something to do with production. Proposals to resolve present difficulties include more production (JG), consumption untethered to employment (UBI), higher wages (consumption), tariffs (more production), etc. All in the hopes of returning the Golden Age of 1962, which, for some inexplicable reason, didn’t last. Another cliche, I know, but might there be a box here?

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                It has always been so, that there are happy citizens and angry citizens, and good politicians or statesmen, and bad politicians, now or in ancient Greece.

                Today, shepherds are called producers, and agora shoppers consumers.

                1. Paul Cardan

                  No, I don’t think so. Other cultures have been and, some cases, remain quite different than the one with which most people in the present day USA are most familiar. Thinking otherwise is in fact ethnocentric. Being a citizen of Rome, for instance, meant something quite different from being a citizen of a modern nation-state, and something different again from a being a citizen of a 5th century Greek polis, especially a democracy. These are different roles, in different games, constituted by different rules. Markets played a very limited role in economic affairs even in poleis with relatively large marketplaces. Medieval monks did more than make beer or cheese, and the more they did is not well-characterized as what we would call ‘work’ or ‘jobs.’ The classical political economists would have rightly scoffed at the notion that their prayers were productive.

        5. HopeLB

          Our land fills are full of desposable items. Pollution in China is still polluting the earth and driving climate change. Shipping across the ocean adds even more pollution. Free trade tallies do not usually include the socialized, environmental costs, the impact on innovation of not making things or even the impact on workers in the importing country. Trumpers should be urging Tump to invest in manufacturing of life- time lasting, finely engineered products that can be fixed when broken and that are made in the USA. As I have said before, is it wise on a national security level, to import this much? To import chinese circuitry for our weapons and planes? Trade needs to be considered from a perspective that takes more of these things into account.

      5. Altandmain

        Even with MMT, a trade deficit is an extremely dangerous proposition.

        Imagine a nation that imported all of its food for example. The nation would quickly be in trouble if the good exporters cut off food supplies. No amount of MMT could jolt into production a modern agriculture system. You would be at the mercy of the exporter.

        It takes decades to build up a modern agriculture or manufacturing industry. Imports mean that your nation will be totally dependent on other nations.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          “POTUS doesn’t understand that, in real terms, imports are a benefit and exports are a cost. Working to lower our standard of living. Sad!”

          She’s better off not trying to say it in one sentence (or two, including ‘Sad!’).

          Perhaps ‘imports can sometimes be a benefit.’ would work better.

    2. JohnnyGL

      Just taking a quick scroll through her Twitter feed, she seems to like taking cheap shots like this…

      Not sure why she does that. I don’t know her personally. But I’ve seen lots of people in various fields twist themselves in knots in order to oppose Trump (one of Trump’s under-rated strengths is getting opponents to make fools of themselves). Stoller’s right to call her on it. I suspect she’d concede as much if pressed. Perhaps a quick reminder that economists “know the price of everything and the value of nothing”?

      On a side note, I’ve heard a lot of media moaning about Trump’s tariffs. It’s way over the top. GW Bush dropped steel tariffs and it was treated as an afterthought.

      Media’s probably helping Trump by making a big deal out of a small-ish trade move, helping bolster his anti-establishment credentials and making him look dead-serious about overhauling the global trade architecture. He’s doing no such thing.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Twitter’s format invites, almost enforces, “cheap shots like this.”

        As a virtue, brevity has its limits.

        1. Marco

          It’s 288 chars now. And there is always the ever popular tweet-storm. For the ADHD addled mind (including my own) forced brevity can help us digest more complex arguments.

    3. Jim Haygood

      Payback time for the orange fruitcake:

      Hours after Trump said in a Twitter message that “trade wars are good, and easy to win,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the bloc was prepared to respond forcefully by targeting imports of Harley Davidson Inc. motorbikes, Levi Strauss & Co. jeans and bourbon whiskey from the U.S.

      Harley Davidson is based in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin, while bourbon whiskey hails from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky. San Francisco-based Levi Strauss is headquartered in House Minority Leader’s Nancy Pelosi’s district.

      Trade wars are good, and easy to win.” Is that what they taught him at Wharton … or did he just make it up hisself?

      No one has ever won a trade war. There are only losers. Trump’s delusional rant likely will be chiseled on the Republican party’s urine-stained grave stone. :-)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        War…love…free love.

        That was back in the sixties.

        Now, it’s

        Trade love…free trade love.

        While the promise of free love is persuasive any time, it’s not quite the case with free trade love.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        From Wikipedia on Levi Stauss & Co.:

        In 2002, the company closed its Valencia Street plant in San Francisco, which had opened the same year of the city’s April 1906 earthquake.[28][29] By the end of 2003, the closure of Levi’s last U.S. factory in San Antonio ended 150 years of jeans made in the USA. Production of a few higher-end, more expensive styles of jeans resumed in the US several years later.

        I would imagine the executives at headquarters in SF will have a few stern words for madame pelosi which may make her uncomfortable. But, at the risk of exposing my lack of sophistication on the always and everywhere benefits of importing things that used to be made here, please explain why it should be any skin off my deplorable a*s……er….nose that the europeans will put a tariff on jeans made in the Marianas Islands by a privately held company with a history of being “american.”

        How, exactly, does this present a problem for me? Or Trump for that matter. And I’d imagine there are plenty of former textile workers turned “knowledge” workers who also think it’s a cryin’ shame for Levi’s. Not.

      3. John k

        The way to win our trade war, or to move to balanced trade, is to persuade foreign savers to prefer saving something else. Say, yuan. Or rubles. Or Argentine pesos.
        Or euros… course, that means those countries will have a paper surplus and merchandise deficit along with reserve currency status, which they would fight tooth and nail to avoid. As the Swiss are doing now.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Another choice is the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights. But the SDR or XDR is, per Wikipedia, the unit of accounting for the IMF, and not a currency per se.

          Maybe they save gold, or other physical assets, instead of paper money.

      4. JTMcPhee

        But to make some folks happy, at least, it appears the PTB are well advanced in the inculcation of Democracy, Neo-Style, in at least one Monroe Doctrine (Enhanced Version) would-be resistant little country down there… let us all cry crocodile tears for the Mopes of Venezuela —after all, they have only themselves to blame for their misfortunes, like all mopes not tuned in to The Market Forces Radio, they made bad choices…

    4. djrichard

      I’m wondering if this is where Kelton was coming from. When China was manipulating their currency, this is essentially how the cycle worked: China pumps goods, we sent them our US$, and then the PBoC pumps out yuan to buy some of that US$ from their exporters to maintain the peg. And then the US Fed Gov pumps out bonds which the PBoC would buy with the dollars they had.

      In this case, the PBoC acts just like any other entity in the US that hoards wealth: they exchange their currency hoard for US treasuries and hoard that instead. And the cycle of life would start over again when the Fed Gov put that currency back into the economy.

      The difference now though is that the PBoC isn’t in the picture so much. Rather, it’s basically oligarchs and other institutions in China that are maintaining the peg (more or less naturally with some nudging by the PBoC). And they’re not confining themselves to simply buying US treasuries. Rather, they’re diversifying into US stocks, corporate bonds, consumer debt, real-estate, corporate acquisitions, etc.

      In a way, they’re not doing anything any different than what oligarchs and institutions inside the US are doing. With one notable difference: the Fed Gov can drain a good chunk of that wealth that has been hoovered up inside the US simply through taxation. The same isn’t true for US currency that has been hoovered up (through imbalanced trade) outside of the country.

      So not only did we invite the oligarchs and institutions from outside of the US to the same party that our oligarchs and institutions have been enjoying. We’ve even given them a special tax advantage.

      Unfortunately, while we’ve invited more oligarchs and institutions to the wealth party in the US, none of this trickles down to us plebs. It’s not like they’re competing with each other for our labor. If anything it’s the other way around. Labor inside and outside the US competing for the jobs that used to be inside the US.

      Vice versa, any surplus from the economy that goes to the oligarchs and institutions comes from two places: Fed Gov spending and increases to the monetary base from loan issuance. Fed Gov spending has been flat, but loan issuance has been going up, corporate loan issuance in particular . Corporations are spending this new money into the economy, and it’s going to stock holders willing to sell. So I’m not sure how much of that is going to our trading partners. That said, I’m guessing that’s what’s really put the wealth effect on steroids. Stock buy backs not only drive up the price of stocks, they also put more money into the economy for the oligarchs and institutions to hoover up. I’m thinking the oligarchs and institutions in other countries are just along for the ride.

      Net effect, the oligarchs and institutions inside and outside the US are enjoying the wealth effect. The rest of us get lower wages.

      1. Yves Smith

        This isn’t quite right.

        First, the wealth effect is central bank promoted urban legend, to pretend that they aren’t pushing on a string most of the time when they attempt monetary stimulus. The first central bank to attempt using the wealth effect to stimulate domestic consumption (let us not forget that that is the aim) was the Bank of Japan in the late 1980s. We know how that movie ended. And the Japanese already had tons of Treasuries plus had been hoovering up foreign assets, so the analogy is pretty exact.

        Second, China being a net exporter means they take our dollars. Holding anything other than cash is an investment decision separate and apart from the sale of goods. That foreign currency holding (in whatever form) has no implication in addition to the original act of China being a net exporter. It’s basically an economic deadweight. If the Chinese were to sell their foreign assets and try to invest them domestically, it woud crush the dollar and the renminbi would shoot to the moon, the last thing they want.

        Now under our glorious free market ideology, we let the Chinese do more than move their dollar cash into Treasuries. One could argue that letting them do foreign direct investment isn’t so dumb, since we could seize their assets (of course, they could do the same for US operations in China, which is why I have been gobsmacked that we’d invest in a Communist country that can’t be assumed to fetishize the rule of law, at least as far as the economic rights of sort of big actors that can afford fancy lawyers are concerned).

        1. djrichard

          The dead money point is an excellent observation. I guess unless they’re going to move to the US, it ultimately is dead money. Unless and until they swap back into their own currency, which they can’t do en masse per your point.

          In which case, does this mean that China is still engaging in currency manipulation? But instead of doing so through their PBoC, they’re creating false demand through other oligarchs and institutions?

          Or is there a longer game they’re playing? E.g. maybe some of their oligarchs and institutional embezzlers do end up moving to the US? Half LoL, half serious.

          That foreign currency holding (in whatever form) has no implication in addition to the original act of China being a net exporter.

          Yea, I was trying to puzzle out if it had any implications on prices of assets in the US. I think the answer I was getting at was, no, not directly. In that if anything, the increase in asset prices was coming from increased corporate debt. Which is not a wealth effect to your point.

          But they’re certainly demolishing our work force, which is increasing inequality.


        2. djrichard

          Here’s a weird thought. What if the long game they’re playing is a one-world currency. Call it the EuroAmeroSino.

          Once national currencies are supplanted by a trans-national currency, then swapping out of assets in the US back into assets in the home country becomes a lot less of an issue.

  11. Skip

    The dark reasons so many rich people are miserable human beings:

    For a least a few, could it have to do with how they got their pile? For example, banksters who follow the business plan of taking what doesn’t belong to them. Perhaps some suffer ethical flashbacks, momentary lapses in suppressing well-earned guilt. I doubt grand masters of the financial dark arts like Steven Mnuchin suffer unduly. I know it’s not nice, but I confess to hoping some karma payback finds such ilk.

    The Purdue study touched on making social comparisons and increasing desire for higher material gains, more steps up the luxury ladder. Yertle the Turtle.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the envy factor impacts many in the political class. They constantly brush up against the rich, begging for contributions, and thinking they’re smarter than these rich folk. Don’t they deserve riches, too? How about a nice Clinton Foundation? And increasingly, it seems public service, assisted by the revolving door, is for many not about being a public servant but about a path to riches. Will they suffer internal conflicts? I bet less and less, as the system self-selects those more likely to feel entitlement than guilt.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      You are on point! The political class, as with the corporate system, self-selects psychopathy.

    2. Kokuanani

      By the way, does anyone have an update on the current status of the Clinton Foundation? What’s it doing, and what is the level of contributions, now that “access” can no longer be bought?

      1. Skip

        I’ve no idea of the largess finding it these days, but there’s still access to networks, operatives, political cronies, etc… who frequent that clubhouse. Beyond access, there’s also the prospect of paying past debts. In Washington, it’s particularly difficult to know which comes first, the quid or the quo. There were some mighty big favors done by the Clintons for the Big Money, including dumping Glass-Steagall. That’s a ticket to ride for a very long time.

        And then there’s precedent, showing subsequent and potential high-office holders and candidates the Midas touch that awaits those who avert their gaze from upper crust mischief. It’s hard not to imagine Obama taking mental notes, and how that might have impacted Hands-Off Holder as culpable bankers, domestic and foreign, floated away. Did I hear some noise about Holder maybe throwing his hat in the political ring? Why not? Down payments have long been steadily paid through his law firm. Sorting the influences already guiding him is like picking someone out of a line-up on the Rotor-Gravitron ride on the Midway.

      2. apberusdisvet

        Both of the Arkansas grifters will get off scot-free; the Rule of Law doesn’t apply to them and too many others. It’s very strange that in the case of the supposedly hacked DNC and Podesta emails, no MSM outlet has exposed that the Seth Rich family has admitted that Seth was the source and that Kim Dotcom has expressed a willingness to testify in front of Congress that he assisted Seth in the transference to Wikileaks. And then there’s the evidence, from IT forensic specialists that the download from the DNC computers was done at a speed that could not have been possible from outside the US East Coast, and most likely was loaded into a thumb drive.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      On the other end of the spectrum, poverty can make life more stressful, less healthy.

      For the poor, it helps to have some money to live less miserably.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Someone claimed, long ago, that the children of the very wealthy often suffer from a neglect syndrome (and sometimes conscience syndrome) very similar what afflicts the children of the very poor.

  12. PlutoniumKun

    Theresa May’s road to Brexit: FT commentators on the speech FT (Clive). Clive: “The comments section is well worth a read, a lot of very well observed opinions.”

    Since I”m not a regular FT reader I’m a bit surprised at just how very weak most of those articles are – even Wolfgang Munchau seems blankly unaware that the upcoming negotiations will not be a meeting of equals (and his comments on Varadkar are just silly). As David said yesterday on the comments, May’s speech was almost certainly aimed at maintaining internal unity while greasing the runway for delivering bad news later down the line – there was nothing new in it for the EU and it changes nothing for the negotiations. The fact that neither the hard Brexiters nor the Remainers (with the exception of Hesiltine) has much of a problem with it says everything you need to know.

    But it is striking that even in the FT, just as with the Guardian, BTL comments are far superior to the actual paid content. Its hard to find any outlets now (apart from blogs of course, including those linked above) which provide a real insight, not to mention sources of information that are not entirely delusional.

    1. Tom_Doak

      The actual paid content is overseen by editors who have to filter out what their bosses believe is news “not fit to print”. But you are still right in the sense that it’s much easier for such editors to assign someone to the story who will fail to get to the bottom of it on their own.

      1. Anonymous2

        I think the English newspapers and the BBC are for a variety of reasons downplaying the size of the problems facing the UK. Even the FT, I suspect has been bludgeoned into presenting a less anxious tone to its readers. Immediately after the referendum it was pulling few punches but has been the recipient of quite a few hostile ad hominem attacks pointing to its Japanese ownership. There is definitely a school in the media which now represents opposition to Brexit as unpatriotic (even though any one with a brain knows it was sold by a pack of lies ). Public figures have received death threats which following the murder of Jo Cox they will doubtless take seriously. All of this must result in a tendency for many commentators to keep their heads down.

        1. c_heale

          I recently visited family in the UK and was unpleasantly surprised at the level of analysis of Brexit from the mass media in the UK. It was extremely poor. It’s isn’t surprising that many in the UK still think things are going to be okay if Brexit happens.

          1. witters

            Things are not OK now in the UK (nor the EU). This point seems not to matter to many here. (Is this perhaps the force of lesser evilism lingering on? – “As TINA, then…”)

  13. funemployed

    I’m mystified by the notion that 15,000,000+ guns are sold annually in the US. I know mericans really like guns; what confuses me is 1) the fact that if you take care of a gun, it will last more or less forever (and even if you don’t it will last for a long-ass time), and 2) there aren’t that many functionally distinct categories of guns (there are small/medium/big guns with small/medium/big bullets, and shotguns).

    I mean, there must be a point (5 guns? 20 guns? 30 guns? 100 guns?) at which the typical gun owner stops buying new guns, right?. And at 15 mil a year, we should get there pretty quick, right? What am I missing?

    1. Wukchumni

      I never leave the house unarmed, always carry 2 of them from my torso.

      Perhaps the reason for so few owning so many, is the idea that among rank and file collectibles (antique furniture, Kinkaide paintings, etc) for the hoi polloi since the turn of the century, most have plummeted in value, as Club Mill isn’t picking up the collecting bug slack, but guns have performed admirably compared to crummy 1% returns on savings, no?

      A local sporting goods store in Fresno closed last month after 58 years in business, and one of the reasons given was a dramatic drop in gun sales for them post-Obama, which is the main thing that was keeping them going.

      I get the feeling that the arms race is over…

      1. The Rev Kev

        Maybe the gun market is reaching saturation point. After all, a good rifle will last decades if not centuries. You would think that two guns would be enough to cover both short and long-distance work. And aren’t there fewer American that can afford a good gun due to the financial crash?
        That remark about always leaving your house armed is a bit disquieting as that sounds like the frontier life in the American west. Not having a go at you here. The only thing that I am armed with when I leave home is my wallet, pen and notebook. Then again, if you get pulled over and you have a gun here, you had better make sure that you have a damned good reason for doing so.

        1. Wukchumni

          You do run into people in these United States who are armed and dangerous @ all time, perhaps save showers, lest they get rusty.

          The last one I ran into, told me of the perils of the wilderness and the 4 legged beasties lurking within, and the need for protection against the possibility of having to blast your way back to the trailhead and your car.

          I long ago learned to never have a fixed position in these matters, and if you act syncophantic, they really spill their guts, and it’s mostly fear induced.

          What would they do without their props?

    2. John Zelnicker

      March 4, 2018 at 9:14 am
      Apparently 3% of the population owns 50% of the guns in the US (and 55% own none). I suspect many are like my son-in-law who, until he married my daughter, would buy a new gun about every year. He probably has a couple of dozen or more. For him, it was mainly about collecting types or calibers that he didn’t have, and a little bit about his general paranoia, although to the best of my knowledge he does not have any kind of AR-15 type of assault rifle.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From the stats can be misleading category.

      If we look at gun-incidents per gun-population, given that there are so many more guns here, it will move the US down, in comparison to gun-incidents per human-population.

      And that will further lead (or mislead) us to the argument that its humans, not guns (or the number of guns). That is, we have to look at gun-incidents per human-population.

    4. Webstir

      It may be you’re missing the “nuts” part of the term “gun-nuts.” You’re assuming rationality plays some role in their mental calculus. We could say the same thing about billionaires.

    5. Oregoncharles

      Maybe a lot of them are being exported illegally; the US is, after all, gunsmith to the world.

  14. The Rev Kev

    Made in America, But Lost in Iraq

    Well this brings an article I read a coupla weeks ago into context. The Iraqis have just received the first batch of 73 Russian T-90MS tanks (the newest export version of the T-90 tank) of a much larger “substantial” order. If half of Iraq’s 140 M1s are sitting in the workshop unrepaired then these new tanks would fill in that gap nicely. The Iraqis have been keeping an eye on the fighting in Syria and were impressed with that tanks performance from what I have read. The M1 Abrams tanks, on the other hand, is an older tank and is getting at the end of its service life which may explain that contractor’s remark that his team rebuilt most of Iraq’s 140 M1s “three times over”. The US needs a new tank but it is not happening.
    I do not think that the Iraqis would be impressed with the reliability of the Pentagon, especially with this fiasco. When ISIS was advancing on Baghdad, the Pentagon denied Iraq’s demand that they bring back Iraqi pilots and new F-16s to battle. The Pentagon said that maybe the year after next they could do it. The Russians sent aircraft to plug the gap here but Iraqi suspicions was that the US was letting ISIS advance in order to blackmail Baghdad with demands or else no air cover. This whole business of suspending repairs until ALL tanks are accounted for may seem just another way to limit Iraq’s fight against ISIS yet again.
    In another article in Links, the US is threatening Iraq if it buys Russian S-400 air defense missile systems because that would be breaching Russian ‘sanctions’. In fact, the US has been threatening other countries if they buy Russian weapons instead of US weapons but you would have to wonder if you could rely on these weapons in a pinch as the Iraqis found to their $2 billion cost with these tanks. What is worse is that the newer Russian weapons are not only better but cheaper than their US counterpart. To be narky about, the Russians have been complaining that the US is not agreement-capable with negotiations. If the US builds up itself a reputation of its weapons contracts also being unreliable, that will just be storing up trouble for itself down the track.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      This is the problem when you get a reputation as an unreliable and unpredictable partner. The Iraqi’s would be foolish to be too dependent on US weaponry, its entirely rational of them to spread their orders around. And the Russians tend not to put too many strings on weapons purchases. If you have cash, they’d deliver, and thats it. Although of course any purchaser must be aware that the Russians as much as the Americans probably have kill switches built into many of their best export weapons.

      And as you say, it hasn’t gone unnoticed just how well Russian equipment has operated in Syria. US tanks are imperious in open tank warfare, but that sort of battle just doesn’t happen any more. In the sort of dirty urban warfare thats become the norm in conflict zones Russian weapons seem to give a lot more bang for the buck.

    2. David

      Worth adding that a lot of US military equipment is sold under Foreign Military Sales arrangements, essentially government-to-government, with a lot of control by the Pentagon. Among other things, this means that if you annoy the US, they can simply cut off spares deliveries, and quite soon you won’t have operational equipment.
      My impression from people I have talked to is that the M1 is a monster to maintain, and guzzles fuel at an unbelievable rate, so I can well understand why Russian equipment might be preferable.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The M1 has a turbine engine thats a notorious gas guzzler, even by tank standards. It massively complicates logistics when you have to have so much fuel on hand just to keep them operating.

        The T90 is a good example of Russian pragmatism. Its a hybrid of two previous tanks (T-72 and T-80) which were intended as a ‘high/low’ mix of cheap ‘n cheerful and top of the range. But neither were satisfactory. So they put the best bits of both together, and its worked pretty well for them as a stopgap. They are bringing out a new version specifically designed for intense urban warfare, based on their experiences in Chechnya and Syria. I’ve no doubt they’ll get plenty of orders for them.

        1. Lord Koos

          I read somewhere that the end cost of imported fuel for US forces in Afghanistan was around $400 a gallon.

          Not only is the US military one of the most wasteful organizations on the planet, they are one of the biggest polluters as well…

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Yes, that was one of the estimates for the cost of fuel for when it got to the final destination – the main cost being security. The Taliban worked out that fuel shipments were the achilles heel of US outposts and focused their attacks on them. I can’t recall the exact figures, but I saw once a comparison of fuel needs for a modern battalion compared to a WWII one and the difference is staggering – orders of magnitude greater.

            A few years ago it was revealed the Pentagon was spending millions on researching biofuels and solar, on the basis that it made sense that bases could be more self sufficient (especially making biofuels on-site from local vegetation) But it was vetoed by Republicans as it all sounded suspiciously hippyish.

    3. sleepy

      The Russians are already developing a replacement tank for the T-90, the T-14 Armata, now in the testing phase.

    4. Andrew Watts

      There doesn’t appear to be any Iraqi news outlets reporting that General Dynamics has pulled out of Iraq. The story about the M1 Abrams tanks being abandoned appears to be false as well. Al-Sura just posted a bunch of pictures of the tanks getting upgraded and the crew working on’em at Taji. The guy on the left in that picture doesn’t look like he’s from that part of the world.

      It was pretty funny seeing Iraqi Hezbollah rollin’ in an American-made tank though. I don’t see how this is considered a violation of Iraq’s end user agreement either. The PMU forces are now officially acting as sanctioned units of the Iraqi National Guard.

      1. Plenue

        I think the article inadvertently reveals the degree to which these ‘pro-Iran militias’ AREN’T controlled by Tehran. If they were at least one of these Abrams would have been shipped back to Iran for dissection and reverse-engineering.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Previously unknown ‘supercolony’ of Adélie penguins discovered in Antarctica (CL).

    Immediately, I feel that’s bad news, if nothing more is done.

    Now, we have to make sure they’re protected…from humans. From bad humans, because some of us are good.

    1. FDW

      I don’t quite feel the same. This, combined with the news of undercounting of the population that came a little while back, shows that these little birds are tougher than we give them credit for. And Adelies are the best Penguin species IMO. The Emperors may get all the movies, but the Adelies have character and personality!

  16. Ed

    “Italy’s angry election Politico”

    This is a good article, and much better than the article from Poliitico about the Italian election posted a few days ago. Unlike the earlier article, this article actually tells you which parties are running in the election and who is supporting them. It even discusses people who choose not to vote. I didn’t check the bylines, and I’m not sure if they got another writer, one who did research, to take a crack at it.

    However, the article gets one thing wrong. It states that the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) is eating into the support of the nominal left wing coalition. But the map posted in the article shows that the nominal left are still dominating the Etruria-Romagna-Umbria triangle which has voted for whatever version of the left was running since World War II, the places where M5S has a chance to win are in traditional right-leaning areas. It shows M5S is winning among blue collar voters, but blue collar voters haven’t voted for nominal left parties, anywhere in Europe/ North America, for decades. Though it could be they are taking left-leaning voters who live in right dominated areas, it seems they are taking votes from traditional left constituencies who have voted in the last few decades for the nominal right, to keep the nominal left from taking power.

  17. Jim Haygood

    Two years after its formation, Craazymon Fund — a mix of 50% junk bonds, 30% emerging market stocks, and 20% gold — has gained a cumulative 33.3%. Its benchmark — a 50/50 mix of the S&P 500 and investment-grade bonds — returned 23.7%. Chart:

    In the past 12 months, Craazymon Fund returned 12.5% vs an 8.9% gain in the benchmark. Junk bonds contributed to this result. Junk gained 5.3% in the past 12 months, whereas 10-year Treasuries — despite their superior (lower) credit risk — delivered a 2.3% loss.

    1. John k

      Because their lower credit risk…

      Period is during bull run. Better to look at longer term, say since 1-1-2000.

      1. Anon

        Right! Junk bonds at some point collapse. Ask me. Then calculate ROI.

        Timing (luck) is everything.

  18. Lee

    Don’t know if this showed up here already.

    Study: Most Uber, Lyft drivers paid under minimum wage

    Uber and Lyft drivers make a median $3.37 an hour before taxes, according to a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, less than the federal minimum wage.

    According to the research, 30 percent of drivers actually lose money from Uber and Lyft when the costs of maintenance and other expenses for their cars are factored in.

  19. local to oakland

    I want to share a book. Born to be Good by Dacher Keltner does a good job of debunking the scientific, biological and psychological underpinnings of Rand’s work and social darwinism generally. Now that the science is catching up to the values of the humanities maybe we can develop less toxic theories of what it means to be human.

    1. Summer

      “Now that the science is catching up to the values of the humanities maybe we can develop less toxic theories of what it means to be human…”

      We have a new scourge of toxic theories…such as the brain is like a computer.

      1. Gorgeous Borges

        Or the universe is a simulation. If it is,what is it a simulation of? I guess it can be placed in the scourge category, owing to its yielding to the idea that AI dominance/singularity is an inevitability. Btw, the obnoxious Rand died in poverty, a recipient of Medicare. Useless eater!

    2. Carolinian

      Please don’t slander science by blaming it for Social Darwinism or Ayn Rand. Plenty of crackpots like to use science for their own purposes. That doesn’t make them scientific.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Agreed. Social Darwinism or the detestable theories of Ayn Rand bear the same resemblance with science that Astrology does. Or modern economic theory for that matter (that is why there is no such thing as a Nobel award for economics but a pretend one).

  20. Wukchumni

    The mass murder sprees committed using assault weapons are similar in some ways to bank robbers & assorted outlaws of the early 1930’s, who utilized the machine gun, and like our latter-day murderers, the old school had name recognition with the public, Dillinger’s Gang, Stephen Paddock, Machine-Gun Kelly, Nikolas Cruz, Bonnie & Clyde, Omar Mateen, Ma Barker, Seung-Hui Cho, Pretty Boy Floyd, Adam Lanza, etc.

    They largely banned the public from owning machine guns in the aftermath of the earlier epoch, what’s so hard about doing the same with assault rifles?

    1. Ignim Brites

      Much of the anti-Russia “news” is phony since it really anti-Trump. The formenters of hostility to Russia do so in part because they have a sense that there is really no reason for the US to go to war with Russia. Therefore there is no risk in playing the Russiaphobia card. They fail to imagine that Russia might have a real interest in going to war with the US, namely compelling US withdrawal from the middle east. In formenting a diffuse Russiaphobia, MSNBC and the MSM in general may be believe that they are buttressing the US’ “world historical” role in the middle east, but more likely they are setting themselves up to be the scapegoats when Russia drops the hammer in Syria.

      1. Richard

        I had not considered that, but on reflection of course there must be elements in Russian government and society at large that favor war, or at least aggressive hostility towards the US. What fire these fools play with. It’s terrifying.
        And all this because the 2nd most unpopular presidential candidate in the history in the history of our country, lost to the most unpopular.
        And oh, by the way, our world’s on fire.

          1. Oregoncharles

            “The seas, lakes and oceans are now pluming deadly hydrogen sulfide”. (We have hydrogen sulfide in our well water. It stinks.)

            Indeed, this is one theory of what caused the greatest extinction of all: the sea became so acidic that it started generating hydrogen sulfide, as poisonous as cyanide. And, as it says, flammable.

            However, this is fairly straightforward chemistry. H2S is highly detectable (it’s that rotten egg smell), and the pH that produces it should be well known. (It’s also generated by anaerobic bacteria in water, the source of ours and apparently a very common problem.) I’ve seen no reports that the oceans have reached that pH, or that it’s being detected in the atmosphere at rising concentrations. I think Jumping Jack Flash has jumped to conclusions well ahead of the facts.

            1. blennylips

              Thank you for your consider reply, Oregoncharles.

              Do look at the full hypothesis page. If you continuing past your quote, we find:

              Ancient anaerobic bacteria and archaea that pre-date oxygen-using life are reassuming dominance on the Earth. As part of their life cycle these bacteria and archaea emit hydrogen sulfide. As a consequence, the oceans, lakes and seas have begun to plume increasing amounts of hydrogen sulfide into the atmosphere. This is an ancient extinction event. Hydrogen sulfide is the likely culprit in many if not all previous planetary extinction events.

              Mr Jumping Jack Flash had wondered, since we seem to be starting a sixth great extinction event, what it would look like if indeed previous events are repeating. He predicted six events that we are more likely to see if the hypothesis is true. Every day, he gathers headlines from around the world of stories that support (not prove!) the predictions. So, each post is a list of links to local news sources, grouped by prediction. He has been doing this since about 2012.

              Rather than “Jumping to conclusions”, he is gathering evidence. Make your own conclusion.

              Do a quick search on “ocean oxygen levels”. Like it or not, the real oceans and lakes are losing oxygen.

            2. Synapsid


              Further on the Permian/Triassic extinction: The H2S in the oceans was in the deep waters, but as time went on the top of that deep layer rich in H2S reached shallower and shallower depths until it moved across the shallow continental shelf where a great part of marine diversity and biomass is found.

              H2S in the oceans is formed in anoxic waters, waters lacking free oxygen, by H2S-producing microbes. If there is vertical circulation in the ocean (surface water carried down and bearing oxygen while deep water rises to gain oxygen from the air) then deep waters aren’t anoxic and there’s little or no H2S formed. There’s evidence that oceans displayed widespread stratification in late Permian time–that is, there was little vertical circulation so oxygen-starved deep waters could become anoxic, and as the volume of these waters increased and the top of the anoxic waters shallowed, anoxic waters reached the shallow continental shelves and H2S caused widespread extinction of critters living there.

              The waters of the Black Sea are anoxic below a certain depth (50 meters?) and if conditions allowed a shallowing of the top of that body of water we’d see extinctions on the continental shelves surrounding that sea.

              1. Oregoncharles

                Enlightening replies, both of you. Now I’m mor econcerned about that.

                So when we all smell rotten eggs, it’s time to panic – and head for high ground.

                My understanding is that the Permian-Triassic involved massive extinctions on land, too.

                1. blennylips

                  Oregoncharles, please do not wait until you smell rotten eggs!

                  More from JJFH:

                  And there may be no smell. As all of the safety documents I have linked to say, DO NOT count on smelling hydrogen sulfide except at very LOW concentrations (when it may smell like ‘rotten eggs’, which also happens to be what mercaptan smells like, which is what they add to natural gas, so it may be mistaken for a ‘natural gas leak’ sometimes too)…

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Trump’s Tariff Plan Leaves Blue-Collar Winners and Losers NYT. Touching concern….

    Trade war.

    1. In any war, there will be casualties.
    2. Per SCMP yesterday, there had been a trade war, and one side was declared a winner. Perhaps the other side is refusing to concede.
    3. In war, there is offense and there is defense.

    So, are you playing defense or offense?

    Offense would be to subsidize, for example, American made cars in order to sell them below cost in China.

    Defense might include imposing tariffs in response to unfair competition.

    There are examples, and are not necessarily the case here, and we have to look at the specific details as they pertain to each situation.

    So, we may ask, are we initiating a trade war, or are we (finally) defending ourselves in an ongoing trade war?

  22. Altandmain

    There’s a study out in Germany saying that the refugee crisis did nothing for integration:

    It’s a good argument against Open Borders, which is class warfare by another name.

    Oh and of course, Trump’s tax of course did not, for the most part translate into higher wages.

    If higher wages were wanted then lowering taxes at the lower brackets and then raising capital gains/higher tax brackets is the solution.

    1. John k

      But some solutions cannot be considered, indeed should not be mentioned.
      So raising tariffs, which boost domestic profits and equities.while maybe hiring a few workers, is the only way forward.

  23. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From Electrical Wave Engulfs the Brain:

    Our brains are bombarded with information about events around us, but we only become conscious of a few of them. Yale researchers have captured what happens in the split second before the emergence of consciousness, a fundamental state of human life.

    “There is a very tight window of a few milliseconds when we come aware of stimuli and before the experience is passed on to be coded in our memory and analyzed,” said Dr. Hal Blumenfeld, the Mark Loughridge and Michele Williams Professor of Neurology and senior author of the research published in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

    At that precise moment, a wave of electrical activity flows from the visual cortex in the rear of the brain to the frontal lobes, the Yale team reports. When stimuli do not trigger consciousness, the visual cortex is activated but no wave is seen and information is not passed on. In the milliseconds when subjects become conscious of a stimulus and the wave begins, the visual cortex switches off — as does brain’s default mode, when the brain is idling and processing internal thoughts.


    Why do some stimuli trigger consciousness and some don’t (referring to the last bolded passage)?

    And with respect to the first bolded passage, I am a little confused. We come (become?) ‘aware’ of stimuli before (and not after?) the experience is passed on (to the frontal lobes, presumably) to be coded and analyzed? I would think we become aware after, not before, the passing of that information.

    1. subgenius

      Technically it has been shown that you become aware of a stimulus before it has occurred…by a number of seconds.

      There is a study involving throwing and catching, where the catcher is already processing the catch (in a specific sense, not just a generic) before the thrower has started the motion to throw

      Consciousness is always playing catchup

      1. subgenius

        OK, maybe I should say there are stimuli at a level we are (consciously, mostly) unaware of.

        Blindsight would be another (although simpler!) example

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I don’t know how lindsight works, but perhaps the brain rewires itself and is able to bypass the cortex and the frontal lobes, if one can respond while cortically blind and not seeing consciously the visual stimuli.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I can see that happening often, but not always.

        Not when it’s a new experience. But when one’s catching a ball, and has caught before, I can understand that.

    1. ebbflows

      Matt Stoller
      ‏Verified account @matthewstoller
      15h15 hours ago

      The American left has been so coddled for so long they cannot imagine someone trying to displace the Western global order. It’s time to wake up. The Chinese Communist Party leaders aren’t kidding around.

      I really find it hard to reconcile this.

      1. JBird

        The coddled American left? This is a joke right? Am I being conflated with the neoliberal Democratic, or the neoconservative Republican, elites and their establishments? Who really cares about the Western world order? Which would have no problems if the people running it had not been busy impoverishing the bottom eighty percent in order to enrich themselves and the Chinese.

      2. polecat

        I would substitute the word ‘addled’ for coddled … seems as more fitting, especially in light of the more recent ‘self-induced’ hysteria(s).

      3. cnchal

        Can you connect the dots?

        Matt Stoller

        The catastrophic Presidencies of Clinton, Bush, and Obama have left us a much more dangerous world. They were all so reckless in so many ways, particularly with regards to empowering China, destroying Russia and ignoring global warming.

        The other day a link was left near the top of Water Cooler by Edward E to an article in the SCMP by Andy Xie titled Why the US doesn’t have the stomach or the strategy for a full-blown trade war with East Asia

        Here are some choice quotes from that article.

        A credible trade war requires two elements: the US being prepared for a prolonged recession, and a coherent industrial policy. The US economy is driven by maximising short-term profitability for big listed companies. They have been driving the outsourcing model in global trade because cutting costs through outsourcing is the quickest way to boost profit. The high stock prices from the boosted earnings reward the top managers at these companies. The US CEOs have seen incredible increases in their incomes, far ahead of their counterparts in Germany and Japan, while its industrial workers face declining wages. Unless the US changes the incentive structure for its top corporate managers, this dynamic won’t change.

        Germany and Japan, while they don’t publicly admit it, have industrial policies. They concentrate resources in industries where they could achieve long-term competitiveness. Their CEOs put the country’s interest ahead of short-term profitability. . . . They are still high-cost countries and can’t achieve high economic growth. But, a deep industrial base leads to a more stable and equitable economy.

        Note that in Stoller’s twitter feed we learn that Geely’s Li Shufu has bought up 10% of Diamler with the assistance of Morgan Stanley to get around German regulators, using who’s money, exactly?

        East Asia’s advantage in manufacturing is not just labour cost. Its labour quality is superior to that of the US. Even more important is cheap capital. East Asia has a high savings rate and accounts for most of the net savings in the world. Any capital-intensive industry is likely to be rooted there. An industry such as semiconductors may start in the US, but eventually becomes a typical East Asian industry, because it is capital intensive. This advantage in capital may be exaggerated by financial repression that boosts savings. Countries like China should eliminate financial repression. Still, even when government policy doesn’t tilt the savings rate one way or another, East Asia will have higher savings rates.

        Practice makes perfect. Is there an American in living memory that has worked on an Apple assembly line?

        Along with financial repression practiced against their own peasants, there is also pollution repression, whereby it’s much cheaper to make stuff if you can dump pollutants into the nearest creek, but that is beside the point.

        American peasants have their own version of financial repression, going further into debt and to subsidize billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffet along with the finance parasites.

        Anglo-Saxon economies like the US, Britain and Australia practise the opposite of financial repression. Their financial markets tend to exaggerate paper wealth and encourage borrowing. Hence, they have an unusually low savings rate and high cost of capital. This is a key reason that Germany and Japan have stronger industries. If the US wants to reindustrialise, it must first stop excessive monetary stimulus that encourages debt.

        Now we are starting to see the results of globalization. China is being run by a one man dictator using mercantilism as his weapon, which was crafted and handed to him by our corrupt “leaders” selling us out.

        I also recall a few weeks ago an article about Tesla considering a factory in China to “serve” the Chinese market and Musk wanting to own 100% of it and the Chinese telling him it has to be a within a “partnership” with a Chinese company, and Musk so far is saying no. I hope he sticks to it, but the finance phuckers are of the opinion that Musk is missing out and should show his genitals to the Chinese.

        Dot, dot, dot . . .

        1. The Rev Kev

          I’m not sure if I agree with you about Musk. “No!” must be word that Musk is not familiar with having never heard it. And probably the Chinese don’t understand that they are supposed to be in awe of him and his achievements anyway.
          Reverse the situation. A Chinese billionaire comes to America and says that he wants to set up a factory and use American peasants to work in them under Amazon-like working conditions. He refuses to share his expertise but wants to make sure that all the profits are shipped back to China so that all the Americans will get out of it is very minimal taxes and cheap work for a bunch of Americans.
          You don’t have to read Trump’s “Art of the Deal” to know that the answer is “Oh, hell no!” Maybe the Chinese could show him the following clip to help him understand-

          1. cnchal

            The answer to that is already in, and it’s yes. Consider Foxconn and their liquid crystal display factory going up in Wisconsin, where they will use as much water as the city of Racine to dilute the effluent from the plant so that it is below the maximum allowable concentration of heavy metal before spreading it around.

            Also, Wisconsin taxpayers are subsidizing Foxconn with three billion dollars to set this thing up, there is no technology transfer that I can discern, they want to import Chinese workers and the pay there is not expected to be much above minimum wage. Chinese working conditions are coming to America. Amazon is a leader in the field, plowing warehouse workers under at a frightening pace. They are the lab rats in Bezos’ experiment on how far people can be pushed when desperate. But I digress.

            The purpose of the Chinese “partnership” is to shortcut the learning process so that you hand over your processes and know how, which will be used against you in the near future to undercut you. Musk is smart enough to know that, and not corrupt enough to go for it. It’s not company versus company, it’s company versus country.

            1. The Rev Kev

              I read what you wrote almost in disbelief so went looking for articles on Racine and Foxconn. Some PR stuff on creating a ‘smart city’ and denials of reports that $90 million had been taken from local road works to be spent on this project. Then I saw mentioned who the Governor for Wisconsin was – Scott Walker – and suddenly it all made sense. Yeah, I’ve heard all about him even down here. Thanks for the heads up.

  24. Stephanie

    When DCCC Calls, Hang Up the Phone The Nation. I dunno. Hanging up is probably better for the poor schlub in the DCCC’s call center, who has to make their numbers. On the other hand, stringing them along and then not giving them anything sucks up more DCCC resources. One for the judges.

    Having worked in a call center for a state political party, hanging up does not help the schlub’s numbers. Only completing the call does that. String the schlub along is more frustrating for the inexperienced schlub, or the sclub who believes in the party’s states goals. However. 90% of the schlubs where I called did not give a hang about party politics, least of all the politics of the party for which they worked. Most of them were on parole and they could earn a commission sitting down in a position that earned them brownie points with their minders. They were motivated to and very capable at ditching the stringers and the ranters and the cranks. None of the rants were passed up the chain.

    1. ChrisPacific

      Ha. That reminds me of when I called to cancel our Sky subscription.

      SKY: I’ll be happy to do that for you. May I ask why you are cancelling?
      ME: (Deep breath) Well! First of all-
      SKY: OK, you’re cancelled. Have a good day!

  25. Oregoncharles

    From “Italy’s Angry Election:”
    “A wild card is what has been dubbed Italy’s biggest party: Those Italians who have the right to vote, but choose not to — a number that’s growing every year, especially in the south of the country. In 2013, nearly 25 percent of the country stayed home on election day, with the figure rising to 36 percent in the southernmost regions. The 25 percent figure is almost double what it was 20 years earlier.”

    THAT’S NOTHING. The equivalent number in the US is DOUBLE that, around 50%. So is it a measure of discontent?

  26. Oregoncharles

    “Electric wave engulfs brain at first blush of consciousness”
    I long since concluded that “consciousness” was bafflegab, but this treats it as scientific terminology. Are those brain diagrams at the bottom a physical definition of “consciousness”?

  27. Daryl

    > Oklahoma teachers planning a statewide strike KTUL

    I am watching these with interest. Particularly the fact that social media is used to coordinate these activities — Pretty sure it’s a matter of when, not if, those companies going to step in and start suppressing them.

    1. Oregoncharles

      there’s an alternative to FB called MeWe. I’m on it, along with a couple of colleagues, but see little activity. Of course, I tend to avoid social media. Still, it’s a potential backup.

      I, too, worry about organizing being dependent on giant, hostile corporations.

  28. Wukchumni

    While the rest of the nation spends $15 on an ordinary chicken at their local feed store, Silicon Valley residents might spend more than $350 for one heritage breed, a designation for rare, nonindustrial birds with genetic lines that can be traced back generations. They are selecting for desirable personality traits (such as being affectionate and calm — the lap chickens that are gentle enough for a child to cuddle), rarity, beauty and the ability to produce highly coveted, colored eggs.

    All of it happens in cutting-edge coops, with exorbitant veterinarian bills and a steady diet of organic salmon, watermelon and steak.

    1. Daryl

      > Leslie Citroen, 54, one of the Bay Area’s most sought after “chicken whisperers,” who does everything from selling upscale chickens and building coops to providing consultation to backyard bird owners. Her services cost $225 an hour.

      I’m in the wrong line of work…

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Some one mentioned William Blake yesterday, in connection with Huxley.

      He, the former, wrote about satanic mills.

      The operators (and their assistants) of those our modern mills get to buy those eggs, from hens in what sounds like Chicken Paradise.

  29. djrichard

    Saw this article on Yahoo and I thought, gee how did this one get through,–finance.html. It’s original headline was “The issue that has Dems, unions cheering Trump. Rarely does a debate open so wide a rift between a president and his party”. That’s how it was showing up in my browser history.

    But now it has a completely different headline, “White House: No exemptions from steel, aluminum tariffs”. Same URL as before, and my browser history now shows this new headline for this URL.

    Yahoo isn’t the only one playing games with this story. If I search for the authors and the word trade on GoogleNews, I can see other sites which have the headline similar to what Yahoo originally had, but when you click through on them, have the headline as Yahoo has it now. I guess the word must have gone out to edit history.

    Digging a little further, there’s actually two versions of this article running around now. One which buries the lede on the trade issue crossing party lines (the way Yahoo has it now). And another where it’s not buried and it’s front and center. E.g. see . I wonder if CNN somehow didn’t get the message.

  30. a different chris

    >The Florida legislature’s push to arm teachers, explained

    Hahahaha. There is no real explanation for anything the Florida leg does, least of all this.

  31. Kim Kaufman

    Today is my one day a year that I watch TV. Starting early, I’m watching the pre-Academy Award red carpet crap. They just brought on a pretty “intern” to tell us about the Academy’s Walmart/Academy intern program to make 60″ shorts. She said Walmart about three times during her short pitch. I wonder how much Walmart paid to the Academy to get that plug in front of this audience? It is the pre-show so not sure how many stations – around the world – carry it but I suspect it’s large.

    1. ambrit

      The monster movie won best picture! Yaaay!
      Also, “Tentaculos” del Toro got best director. He deserves it. Crafting a film where the two leads don’t speak must be like a throwback to the silent days, where the visuals carried the film.
      Alas, the film hasn’t made it to the backwaters and fetid swamps of Da Sout.

      1. ebbflows

        “The monster movie won best picture! Yaaay!”

        In your neck of the woods I hear it will be screened as “Grinding Nemo”……

        1. ambrit

          It’ll be screened, no doubt, as a double feature, along with “I Was A Commie For The DNC!”
          The short will probably be “The and the Line of BS.” “There once was a Zero. A very popular Zero…”
          The cartoon will be Bugs and Dafffy in, “Dem Season! Repub Season!” Be-Fudd-lement grips the Beltway. Who knows whose turn it is when no one is keeping score?
          Alternative cartoon for Deeper South audiences, “One Foggy Bottom Evening.” Hear the frog sing! “Hello my honey pot, hello my baby doll, hello my K Street pa-al!”
          Who sez we all’s ain’t cultured?

        1. ambrit

          No, it is funny. “Grinding” goes along with the ‘love story’ subplot, and the ‘torture’ subplot, and the ‘fish food’ subplot, and the ‘grindhouse’ subsubplot and the….’noble savage (thing)’ as metaphor for the working classes subplot.
          One of the best things about ‘monster’ movies is that you can endlessly ‘overthink’ them. After all, that’s what the ‘mad scientist’ protagonists do every time. Consider this particular movie as a “sign” of the times.

  32. Max4241

    Can you imagine the old Soviet Union allowing its prime enemy the time and the opportunity to place thousands of anti-ballistic missiles on its borders?

    Of course not! It is ludicrous to even consider this counter-factual. The USSR would’ve launched everything it had before it would accept one anti-ballistic missile anywhere within five thousand miles of its borders.

    Yet this has happened to modern day Russia, and it happened on Vladimir Putin’s watch. I’m surprised more Russians aren’t upset with him, don’t consider him the modern day Russian equivalent of Neville Chamberlain, and vote him out of office for being so incredibly weak and gullible.

    Note: What is more surprising to me: the Untied States achievement, surrounding Russia with first strike weapons systems and creating perhaps, a ten to twenty year window where they will have Nuclear Primacy, is unquestionably the greatest peacetime coup de main in the history of military organizations.

    Why are they not bragging about it?

      1. Max4241

        On and off for more than 50 years.

        This is irrelevant, of course. The United States has thousands of nuclear weapons on Russia’s borders at all times. When Russia was the Soviet Union, the United States had thousands of nuclear weapons on their borders at all times. *

        What the United States did not have, when Russia was the Soviet Union, was thousands of anti-ballistic missiles on their borders.

        Big difference. In fact, it the difference between Mutual Assured Destruction, which was essentially a universal law, and Nuclear Primacy, which is at best a theory and at worse a set of maniacal assumptions.

        And that’s where we are. One superpower decided to give up the stability of laws for the vagaries of theory, and the other superpower allowed it to happen without uttering a peep.

        Up until recently, that is. As a student of the old USSR, watching these events unfold has been mind blowing. From 2002, until roughly 2012, ’til the very rope began to tighten, the Russians seemed oblivious to the fact that their necks were being placed in first strike noose.

        *Today, submarines. Yesteryear, a combination of submarines and perpetual bomber patrols.

        1. JBird

          Up until recently, that is. As a student of the old USSR, watching these events unfold has been mind blowing. From 2002, until roughly 2012, ’til the very rope began to tighten, the Russians seemed oblivious to the fact that their necks were being placed in first strike noose.

          Star Wars is still not ready. Even though the arsenals are much smaller, every major city in Russia and the United States could be destroyed in an hour. Beyond a certain level it’s just bouncing radioactive rubble about.

          I am angry about Cold War II: This Time it’s Really Stupid! being done for political maneuvering. The knowledge that not only you and your family, but civilization could be destroyed during a single afternoon, because of a mistake, an accident, weighs always on you. Like carrying a big pack of fear on you that can be ignored but it is always there.

    1. ebbflows

      TYT is taking bitcoin now, sigh. Not to mention the clip is a short and you have to deal with TYT paywall to see the full.

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