Links 4/15/18

‘Very angry badger’ forces parts of Scotland’s historic Craignethan Castle to close Independent. Unfortunately, a Google search on “Why was the badger angry?” turns up nothing. Many reasons, I suppose…

Reality testing and the mnemonic induction of lucid dreams: Findings from the national Australian lucid dream induction study (PDF) Dreaming, Vol 27(3), Sep 2017, 206-231. More coverage: Science Has Found a Drug-Free Way to Unlock Lucid Dreaming Science Alert (DL). “The MILD technique” sounds like something I should try at home!

Evidence that Magnetic Navigation and Geomagnetic Imprinting Shape Spatial Genetic Variation in Sea Turtles Current Biology. “The canonical drivers of population genetic structure, or spatial genetic variation, are isolation by distance and isolation by environment…. Here, we present evidence for an additional, novel process that we call isolation by navigation, in which the navigational mechanism used by a long-distance migrant influences population structure independently of isolation by either distance or environment.” Like cell phones?

Antarctica is turning into a snow globe because the Earth is warming Quartz

Activist lawyer burned himself to death to protest global warming New York Post. David Buckel. The only venue I can find that put what Buckel was protesting about in the headline? The New York Post [shaking my head].

This coal power plant is being reopened for blockchain mining CNet

IRS Says Fewer Than 100 People Have Reported Bitcoin Holdings So Far Investopedia (EM). Yves: “Wellie, the IRS could have a lot of fun if it wants to!”

JPMorgan record profit signals ‘spring time’ on Wall Street FT. “Spring time for Wall Street…” [hums].

Trump’s Bank Regulators Credit Slips

78 Democrats Vote to Weaken a Key Wall Street Regulation Splinter News. Including Resistance hero Beto O’Rourke. Naturally.

US yield curve flattens as investors brace for rate rises FT

Brexit

A year to give UK-EU logistics the certainty it needs Lloyd’s Loading List

Syraqistan

Obsessively curated worst-of-the-worst hot takes:

The Middle East Correpondent for the New York Times (thanks to the miracle of Google cache, the tweet having been deleted):

“Coolest photo.” A classic example of “the war gap,” as described here. This was a bad tweet, and Hubbard should have felt bad for making it.

Consultant and Democratic Strategist [caps in original], former Deputy National Press Secretary and Senior Spokesperson at Hillary for America:

For pity’s sake.

The aptronymic Anne-Marie Slaughter, former Director of Policy Planning in the Clinton State Department:

Virtue signaling über alles?

The House Minority Leader:

Oh, a coherent strategy. Gotcha. Maybe ask Obama and his Secretary of State, author of the Libyan debacle? Presumably, if we had a strategy and just misplaced it, they know where to find it.

The President of the United States:

I can’t figure out whether Trump is just ignorant of history (and of history’s ironies), or owning Bush.

* * *

Trump Hits Assad Regime Over Suspected Chemical Attack Cipher Brief

F.U.K.U.S. Strikes Syria – Who Won? Moon of Alabama

Reality Show violence in the Age of Trump: Striking Syria Informed Comment

At destroyed Syria lab, workers say they produce antidotes to snake venom not toxic weapons Agence France Presse

Donald Trump Ordered Syria Strike Based on a Secret Legal Justification Even Congress Can’t See The Intercept

The U.S. just bombed 3 sites in Syria. Here’s what we know about why nations choose airstrikes. WaPo

The Syria Catastrophe n+1. From 2017, still germane.

Russia: Trace of Western-made nerve agent seen in UK samples AP. Documents said to be from an unnamed Swiss Lab working with OPCW.

Trump Transition

Michael Cohen and the End Stage of the Trump Presidency Adam Davidson, The New Yorker. Big if true.

The Real Investigation National Review. Actual analysis, as opposed to Davidson’s froth. From the National Review, but it’s a funny old world.

No, the FBI’s Michael Cohen Raid Did Not Violate Attorney-Client Privilege The American Conservative. “Democrat John Edwards was prosecuted (later acquitted) for soliciting and spending nearly $1 million in his 2008 presidential campaign to conceal his affair with Rielle Hunter, so this is not a crime normally brushed under the rug.”

Cohen Puffs As Judge Fumes Jonathan Turley

Democrats in Disarrray

If Democrats Listened to Their Voters, They’d Be Moving Left Vice

Hillary Clinton Will Headline A Major DNC Fundraiser Buzzfeed

Priorities USA training hundreds in digital campaigning Politico. One, two, many troll armies.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Oath’s new privacy policy allows it to scan your Yahoo and AOL mail for targeted advertising The Verge. I’m gotta change over…

‘Dear Mark, this is why I hate you.’ An open letter to Zuckerberg Wired

Health Care

Our Dental Insurance Sent us “Free” Internet-Connected Toothbrushes. And this is What Happened Next Wolf Street

Imperial Collapse Watch

The military’s stunning fighter pilot shortage: One in four billets is empty Air Force Times

Two Decades of War Have Eroded the Morale of America’s Troops The Atlantic

Afghanistan starts asking awkward questions about where small wars come from Duffel Blog. I’m thinking that, in the last days of the U.S.S.R., jokes were a more accurate indication of public opinion than surveys…

Why conspiracy theories are everywhere FT. Interestingly, the article doesn’t explain.

Guillotine Watch

A Public Outcry Against a Wall Street Titan’s Name on a High School NYT. Stephen A. Schwarzman. “For starters, the public school should be renamed in his honor. A portrait of him should be displayed prominently in the building. Spaces at the school should be named for his twin brothers [, Kim Il-Schwarzman and Kim Jong-Schwarzman]. He should have the right to review the project’s contractors and to sign off on a new school logo.”

Class Warfare

How the American economy conspires to keep wages down Guardian

Sanders decries flat earnings for most workers The Hill (UserFriendly). Good to see liberal Democrats and their media organs all over this. Oh, wait…

India and China: Lessons on How Not to Tackle Inequality The Wire

Coachella, Underground The Investigative Fund

There’s an AI Running for the Mayoral Role of Tama City, Tokyo Otaquest. “If you assumed that artificial intelligence itself couldn’t run for mayor, you’re absolutely not wrong; that just happens to be where things get truly interesting. The two-person team pushing [“candidate”] Michihito Matsuda consists of both Tetsuzo Matsumoto, the vice president of mobile provider Softbank ($74 billion revenue), and former Google Japan representative Norio Murakami.” Rather like William Gibson’s Idoru.

The Business of Influence: #RevolveAroundTheFTC The Fashion Law. Influencers, rather like Magda in Gibson’s Pattern Recognition.

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote (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.

222 comments

  1. David May

    Re: Russia/Syria
    Why are no mainstream journalists doing any investigative reporting? Or even questioning the official narrative? What a joke of a profession.

    Reply
      1. Sid_finster

        In Washington, access is everything, and questioning the official Deep State line, in or out of government, is a sure way to get that access shut off.

        Reply
        1. Eureka Springs

          This question deserves solid answers. I’ll add a few thoughts.

          First, for the most part I don’t want to hear from shills with the kind of access which requires boot licking. I want scrutiny.

          Deep spook involvement. Since propaganda is legal and encouraged by government then fake news, lies, deception, is national policy.

          And I can’t find the link but remember reading there are far more PR “professionals” than journalists in our country. The line is completely blurred.

          Reply
          1. Indrid Cold

            Then some over educated fool at FT or NYT or The Atlantic bemoans the plebes believing ” conspiracy theories”.

            Reply
          2. Aumua

            By doing my own investigation into who is writing the news, I’ve noticed that a significant percent of mainstream news stories these days are written by committees which often contain “ex” CIA members. That should definitely disturb the American people, but somehow it doesn’t.

            Reply
        2. Alejandro

          “War is A Racket”-https://ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.pdf
          that ultimately depends on {public} funding-hence the “swamp”.

          …but if you can’t follow the money, it can be said to be un-“accounted” for, and unaccountable funding seems to be the source of power of the so-called “deep-state”…|absolute| unaccountable power, corrupting |absolutely|…How {private} should {public} funding be?

          Reply
    1. integer

      Speaking of the official narrative:

      US not to pull out troops from Syria until goals accomplished – UN envoy Haley RT

      The US will not pull its troops out of Syria until its goals are accomplished there, ambassador to UN Nikki Haley said. This comes after Washington carried out airstrikes in Syria in response for an alleged chemical attack.

      US currently has over 2,000 troops in Syria and a number of contractors.

      While it is America’s goals to see the troops come home, “we are not going to leave until we know we have accomplished those things,” she told Fox News Sunday.

      Haley added the United States wants to ensure that chemical weapons are not used in a way that is of risk to US interests, the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) is defeated and Iran’s actions are monitored.

      Reply
        1. integer

          The US’ Middle East strategy is of a type developed by zionists, hence the open-ended goal of monitoring Iran’s actions in Syria. The Iranian government should mirror this statement and officially announce that they are not going to leave Syria until they have ensured that the US’ actions in Syria are monitored.

          Reply
      1. integer

        More sanctions against Russia to be announced on Monday – Haley RT

        Washington plans to slap Moscow with a new batch of sanctions as early as Monday, the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley said. The new measures are said to be a response to Russia’s alleged “aggressive actions.”

        Haley blamed Moscow for the tense relations between the US and Russia and accused it of continuously engaging in aggressive behavior. She added that Washington would respond with a number of aggressive steps of its own.

        Speaking to Fox News, Haley accused Russia of de-facto facilitating the alleged chemical attack in the city of Douma in the Damascus suburbs by supporting the Syrian government. “Assad knew that Russia had its back, Assad knew that Russia would cover for them at the United Nations, and Assad got reckless,” she said, adding that the US has to be “conscious of the fact that we can’t allow even the smallest use of chemical weapons.”

        Reply
      2. Procopius

        Wait — we’re going to pull out after Iran’s actions are monitored? There’s something wrong with this picture, probably because this is Nikki Haley. Anyway, I don’t know much about the chain of command over there, but shouldn’t she at least wait until Pompeo is confirmed as Secretary of State before she starts announcing policy?

        Reply
    2. JohnnyGL

      Why? Because they’ll end up like Thomas Frank who can’t get published in any US publications. Or like Sy Hersh, who can’t even get published in the LRB anymore.

      Reply
      1. jsn

        That’s it exactly, you can only make a living as a journalist by writing what publishers want published.

        Publishers mostly want to publish things that make themselves more important or richer. Telling truths in the horrid, dysfunctional world of post-capitalism where government apparently exists to socialize the cost of the stupidity of economic and political elites is a sure way to get attacked by these dysfunctional elites or their proxy, the government.

        Thankfully for the moment, the cost of policing the internet against the free flow of thoughts by people self driven to seek truths, to try to understand what’s really happening, are higher than our kleptocracy is willing to pay.

        Rest assured, however, should your truth seeking and telling at some point impinge on the prerogatives of our overlords, abuse will be hailed upon you!

        Reply
      2. witters

        The LRB instance is a sad one. I emailed Mary Kay-Wilmers (the editor) expressing my disappointment with the refusal to publicize Hersch’s article (later published by Die Welt), she responded thus: “We would dearly have liked to publish Seymour Hersh’s story but we needed more supporting evidence and detail than we and his sources were able to get.”

        I responded: “Will you be telling us where you thought the evidence inadequate? And why “inadequacy” kicks in here, and what counts as “inadequate”?”

        To this, not a peep. (Perhaps the LRB now operates on a “need to know” basis, and we, as readers, don’t qualify.)

        Reply
    3. Ignim Brites

      About all one can say affirmatively about the Syria strikes is that the ground work is being done for a rapid conclusion of US involvement in Middle East. Much of the right is in open revolt against Trump’s policy there and, unless the Dems want to completely own the War Party label they will have to race to announce an anti-militarist policy. Pelosi’s statement was actually a denunciation of Trump’s strike because the “lack of coherent strategy” is really another way of saying stupidity. And here is the thing. Because the citizenry have no interest in the Middle East, there is no possibility of developing a coherent strategy.

      Reply
      1. HotFlash

        “lack of coherent strategy” is really another way of saying stupidity

        I figured Pelosi was saying there should be more than one strike. But then, I’m cynical like that.

        Reply
    4. WheresOurTeddy

      It is impossible to get someone to understand something if his paycheck depends on him not understanding it. – Upton Sinclair

      Reply
    5. RUKidding

      Define your term “journalist” and please point to one who actually comports with the true definition of that term.

      I don’t think I’ve seen, heard or read anything from any real journalist here in the USA in, oh I dunno, at least a decade or more.

      Journalists are extinct, doncha know? At least in the USA they are. All we get is propaganda.

      Eat your gruel and STFU (yes, this sentence is snark, but nothing else I wrote is).

      Reply
      1. heresy101

        If you want to hear how “news” has turned into Goebbel’s speak, just check out the “interviews” on National Propaganda Radio’s Weekend Edition this morning. Some woman interviewer cut off and attacked everything a Syrian citizen said while giving free reign to a “refugee” (aka Al-Qaeda) from Gouta. The citizen made the point that they weren’t fighting for Assad, but for the only secular state in the Mideast. The refugee attacked Assad and praised the bombing but no questions from the interviewer.

        We heard these lies fifteen years ago (Saddam used chemical weapons and we must go to war) and a million people have been killed and the US is out $1 Trillion.

        The US is a war criminal for supporting the House of Saud in its genocide in Yemen, but at least don’t try to justify Al-Qaeda who is supported by the House of Saud.

        Reply
        1. Alex morfesis

          The US and it’s citizens are not war criminals… The two private business partnerships commonly known as the republicratic parties are…individuals are helpless and working together is difficult…

          that Palestinian fruit vendor in the West Bank is not at war with that dry cleaner in Tel Aviv…that Muslim fisherman in Myanmar forced to flee to Cox’s Bazaar has no beef with the guy peddling e kya kway on anawartha road…hate is the universal language and war is the oldest profession…

          There is no peace until the warmongers are broken into pieces…
          That plowshares thingee idea…

          Complain if you will but until you will your will there will be war

          Reply
  2. merd

    Lost!? Them badgers probably been waitin’ generations to lay claim to that castle. Figured we were done with it since all that happens now is people come around to take a look at it. I reckon some badgers would take down a castle like that pretty quick “digging up through loose soil into stonework.” I enjoy imagining, finding, and seeing images of, wilderness reclaiming space behind humans.

    Anyone here read any of Jonathan Michael Greer’s novels? I’ve looked through his blogs following links here at NC. I wonder if they explore that kind of thing; do they go way off into druidry (sp)? Anbody a fan?

    Reply
    1. Phillip Allen

      I’ve read some of Greer’s fiction. I haven’t read anything that is at all druidical. He’s far more interested in envisioning the possibilities post-collapse (without indulging in the trope of total descent into barbarism).

      Reply
    2. Third Time Lucky

      There was another “angry badger” who made his home in the ruins of what probably was a roman town/fort.

      But when their infants were fractious and quite beyond control, they would quiet them by telling how, if they didn’t hush them and not fret them, the terrible grey Badger would up and get them. This was a base libel on Badger, who, though he cared little about Society, was rather fond of children; but it never failed to have its full effect.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        Speaking of Druidry, there’s a spell-binding scene of ancient pagan ritual in the midst of that book.

        Reply
    3. prx

      I enjoy imagining, finding, and seeing images of, wilderness reclaiming space behind humans.

      Agreed. The World Without Us by Alan Weisman imagines this thoroughly

      Reply
      1. Synapsid

        rd,

        Agreed. British badgers are courteous and well behaved, by their lights.

        The badger in the article from The Independent, though, the one that buried the cow, is a North American badger and does not care what anyone thinks. While admirable for their focus, they are to be avoided.

        Reply
    4. Massinissa

      Reminds me of that article a few months ago about wild boars taking over parts of depopulated rural Japan.

      As much damage as we do to nature, its comforting to know that once we leave, at least some of nature comes right back.

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        Oh, it starts coming back very quickly. I’ve seen stories about how surprised forest rangers and biologists have been at how quickly the forest reclaims abandoned logging sites or burned-over areas after a fire. Don’t know why they’re surprised. We’ve had hundreds of millenia to observe what happens after a devastation. Heck, the plains Indians used to start grass fires to prevent trees from encroaching on their nice, wide prairies. We used to know this stuff. What happened?

        Reply
  3. Wukchumni

    Coachella, Underground The Investigative Fund
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    An excellent article on Mexican farmers in our midst. I’ve always been on the outside looking in, admiring their work here on the fruited plain, and this tale of whoa conveys a terror of being snatched away never to return as an ever present danger. Meanwhile, the celery has to be planted @ night, as the young seedlings can’t take the heat if planted during the day, oh at a pay of $10.50 an hour.

    Reply
    1. JCC

      Like a few others here after the comments a couple of weeks ago, I got a copy of Philip Kerr’s Berlin Noir. As I read the Coachella story Kerr’s decription of Nazi Germany and Berlin in the mid-30’s was right up front in my mind throughout the whole reading.

      All this also reminded me strongly of an old friend that recently passed away. He cornered me one day at a local diner just before the leadup to the Iraq Invasion and asked me what I thought of Bush and what was happening… surprising to me since I had always been “just a kid” and a friend of his sons.

      Not taking a chance on offending him since I really didn’t know his political leanings, I cautiously mentioned that I found it disturbing and also disturbing that many of my friends were paying more attention to the propaganda instead of the facts and were all for taking out Saddam. That’s all he wanted to hear. He immediately went off on the people he had just had breakfast with, a little retirement klatch that met every morning at this diner.

      He said, “The group I’m with for breakfast every morning are the same. I grew up in NY City during the late 20’s and 30’s and closely watched the German situation since I was an adopted german kid. All I see now is Nazi Germany happening here right before my eyes. I find it very worrying.”

      I think he would be more worried today. I know I am.

      Reply
      1. RUKidding

        About 5 or 6 years ago, I made a reference to US citizens as “good Germans” on some blog (I don’t think it was this one, but not sure which).

        Boy was I spanked for that reference! Big time.

        Eh? I think I was being kind at that time. I think we’ve moved way beyond the “good German” phase, but most US citizens continue to pretend that nothing’s wrong at all.

        Scary times, imo. Good luck to us all.

        Reply
  4. Edna St. Vincent Millet

    >Sanders decries flat earnings for most workers The Hill (UserFriendly). Good to see liberal Democrats and their media organs all over this. Oh, wait…

    As someone who’s been loosely left-aligned for much of her life, this thing with the liberal Democrats not being really liberal or Democrats anymore has been puzzling me for a while.

    Today I saw something that might help to explain what happened to those who once believed in fighting for living wages, good jobs and health care for all, etc.: They’ve been transformed into “integralist progressives.”

    I borrowed the phrase from my friend Matthew Rose (@mattfrose). It refers to those who not only believe that progressivism is the one true faith and should be the established faith, but who also believe that neither error nor those in error have rights or deserve to be tolerated.— Robert P. George (@McCormickProf) April 14, 2018

    Reply
      1. John k

        Got comfortable when big dog discovered corps were willing to pay big bucks to dems to
        A) become republican with identity tags
        B) keep progressives from any position of power.

        Actually BD was hardly the first. Fdr had to fight tooth and nail against his own neolibs to turn his party left, it was only the depression that gave him the power to do it. It took half a century to fully sell out, and a quarter century later the pendulum hopefully swings progressive.

        Reply
      2. Oregoncharles

        Slick Willy, Gore, and the rest of the DLC held an auction and sold the party to the highest bidder – which turned out to be Wall St. They boasted about it at the time.

        It’s not really complicated.

        Reply
      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Chronologically, I see these

        1. They abandoned their class, then, they achieved financial comfort.

        2. They achieved financial comfort, first, then they abandoned their class.

        3. Both simultaneously. It was an all-cash transaction.

        4. Both reinforced each other, over time. An enduring embrace…

        Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      Love the handle.

      : First Fig

      My candle burns at both ends;
      It will not last the night;
      But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
      It gives a lovely light.

      Edna St. Vincent Millay

      She was about the last major poet to write in regular, rhymed verse. And she indeed died rather young, in her 50s.

      Reply
  5. fresno dan

    The Real Investigation National Review. Actual analysis, as opposed to Davidson’s froth. From the National Review, but it’s a funny old world.

    Interestingly, just yesterday, the Wall Street Journal broke news about another NDA cobbled together by Cohen and Davidson. Turns out that in late 2017, Cohen negotiated a $1.6 million hush-money pay-off by his client, Elliott Broidy, a top Republican fundraiser with close ties to Trump.
    …….
    The silenced beneficiary of the NDA is a different, currently unidentified former Playboy model, who became pregnant during an extramarital affair with Broidy. The model, who apparently terminated the pregnancy, was represented by Davidson.
    =========================================================
    If the pregnancy was terminated with the knowledge of the republican official, and perhaps even the support or encouragement, this will raise persistent questions. It will raise questions of how many repub NDA’s are “hiding” abortions. Of course, it may expose that just as “character” means nothing in politics (particularly repub politics despite all the yammering about it), neither does abortion, really.

    Reply
    1. Sid_finster

      The Team R leadership cares nothing for abortion, except as a way to get the rubes to the polls.

      Witness the track record of the Reagan, Bush and Dubya justices.

      Reply
      1. PhilK

        It’s only in the most recent 4 or 5 decades that abortion has been a hot-button topic for Republicans. From their respective Wikipedia articles:

        Prescott Bush [father of GHW Bush] was politically active on social issues. He was involved with the American Birth Control League as early as 1942, and served as the treasurer of the first national capital campaign of Planned Parenthood in 1947.

        By the 1980s, with Ronald Reagan as president and the growing involvement of the religious right in conservative politics, Goldwater’s libertarian views on personal issues were revealed; he believed that they were an integral part of true conservatism. Goldwater viewed abortion as a matter of personal choice and as such supported abortion rights.

        I’d say that Nixon’s campaign against McGovern was a major turning point towards Republican anti-abortion sentiments.

        Reply
      2. fresno dan

        Sid_finster
        April 15, 2018 at 9:15 am

        Both parties are equal opportunity ruber exploiters and we’re all their rubees. The dem rubes finally figured out their was no gain in voting for the dems, and that the dems were actively against their interests. The question is, will the repub anti-abortion rubes figure out that the repubs use abortion if it keeps them from paying their mistresses a lifetime of illegitimate* child support, or is what you say more important than what you do….

        *I am a bast*rd and I prefer that term, as I think it imparts a certain je ne sais quoi but in these days of parochial feelings I use the less avant guarde expression…..

        Reply
        1. Sid_finster

          Of course both parties do it. If, for instance, you think that Team D cares for minorities, other than as a reliable source of votes…

          At one time, birth control was a wasp issue. Because EU, not to mention Catholics (this was when there still were people who took the Catholic Church seriously) breeding like rabbits, you know.

          And Protestant denominations were trying to outdo one another on how enlightened they looked. IIRC, the southern Baptist convention endorsed abortion in 1968 or so.

          Reply
    2. RUKidding

      Whenever we hear about someone having extra-marital affairs, we can rest assured that it’s likely that quite a few of those affairs included abortions.

      Here’s a true story: years ago I worked for a law firm (not a lawyer) that was populated with a lot of super conservative attorneys, many of whom put on a big “Christiany” front (they even had Bible study at lunch time). Around this time – in the ’90s – the ABA took some kind of stand in support of Roe v. Wade, which they should have anyway (too lazy to look this up; forget what exactly happened). Most of the attorneys – in this firm, almost all were men – very piously and self-righteously and very publically made a big issue of burning their ABA membership cards. Booyah.

      So what, you say? Well these very same pious, self-righteous, right wing, Church-going, Bible-thumping attorneys were notorious for having affairS, often with secretarial staff (mostly female, natrually), and it ws well known that at least 2 of the secretaries had had one or more abortions from these affairs with their married paramours.

      What. A. Joke… except it’s not at all funny when women are barred from obtaining the health care services they need, they deserve and that are legal.

      All the anti-abortion folderol, imo, is both to manipulate the rubes, but it has the added benefit of keeping women in their place.

      Reply
  6. The Rev Kev

    “At destroyed Syria lab, workers say they produce antidotes to snake venom not toxic weapons”

    I wonder if that OPCW will be bothered taking a run out to this destroyed lab and test it to confirm what this site was all about. Come to think of it, will they even visit the chemical lab that the Syrian Army captured in their assault on eastern Ghouta? You know, the one that the moderate head-choppers had fully stocked up.
    Probably not as they will claim that that would be outside their brief and would be irrelevant to their investigations. Be interesting if the Russians brought it up at the UNSC and watched the reaction there.

    Reply
    1. RUKidding

      IMO – based on no real Intel – the whole chemical weapons bs was made up and is a false flag. I turn off the radio when some meat puppet comes on to spew propaganda about why sending fighter jets to bomb and murder brown people over there is somehow “justified” bc some other brown people over there already died.

      Just horrible. The whole this is horrid and terrible.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth Burton

        The weakness, of course, being that the report is two years old, which will inevitably be pointed out with the rejoinder “Assad and the Russians had two years to make more.”

        Reply
  7. allan

    “worst-of-the-worst hot takes”

    The insane “coolest photo from Damascus this morning” triggered me on a dimly remembered quote
    from Jonah Goldberg after the 2004 tsunami that killed 250,000
    and disrupted the lives of millions more. It appears to have disappeared from NRO, either through
    natural linkrot or personal embarrassment, although references to it live elsewhere:

    COOL — The tsunami may have uncovered an ancient city.

    But in searching for the quote I stumbled upon an even worse hot take:


    The ‘Nuclear Catastrophe’ That Wasn’t
    [NRO, 2011]

    After a second explosion today at Japan’s tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, is the world faced with another Chernobyl? No. Another Three Mile Island? Probably. … Right now, it looks like the country’s biggest problem will be the loss of electricity, which it will need desperately in the coming weeks as it struggles to recover. The dreaded nuclear catastrophe that topped the headlines during the first days after the disaster, and which always are predicted by those prophets of doom who oppose nuclear power, did not materialize. You can feel the public sobering up a bit. Maybe this nuclear stuff isn’t so apocalyptically dangerous after all. …

    Reply
    1. integer

      I wouldn’t use the term “cool” to describe it, but for the photography enthusiasts, here is a photo by Margaret Bourke-White in 1941 titled “Central Moscow with antiaircraft gunners”.

      Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Fukushima was catastrophic, just it didn’t unfold (fortunately) the way the headlines had.

      Sometimes we can be too conservative, and sometimes, not enough. You prefer as accurate an assessment as possible. Being off target can be costly.

      The intention might have bee good, or it might have been sensationalist – either way, that led to skepticism. Thus, the need to try to be as accurate as possible…though it’s not always possible, and in every crisis, in every emergency, you encounter conflicting reports (“do we sent cops to the theater or to the amusement on the other side of the town?” – that type of costly false information).

      Reply
      1. allan

        Compare NRO’s take on Fukushima with this one (two days later) by a commenter(!) at Firedoglake.

        Civil defense and disaster preparation are activities where under-reaction can be far more dangerous and costly that over-reaction. So, based on preliminary or inadequate information, the NRO writer (and his editor) should have just kept quiet until the picture was clearer. Insert standard Upton Sinclair quote here.

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          You want accurate information.

          The intention may be good, in any situation, not just here, but it could be lead to crying wolf too many times. Even today, we hear that no Pacific fish is safe. Is it or is it not? What is the safe thing to do, the conservative thing to do?

          And so, managing public expectations is critical as well. And being too conservative here can be costly too.

          Reply
      2. Brian

        Fukushima IS catastrophic, and will continue to be so for hundreds of years. Let us not forget it is a horror that continues unabated.

        Reply
    3. Sid_finster

      My take on a “coolest photo” would be an American aircraft carrier, burning and adrift as it goes to the bottom.

      Reply
  8. Mel

    Re: William Gibson’s Idoru, Pattern Recognition

    Picked up an old copy of Philip K. DIck’s The Penultimate Truth. Relevant themes: underclass, government by media, war. But when Dick wrote it in 1964 the best robot politicians available were animatronic kinds of things, not ultra smooth like the digital-media-mediated virtual things we have now. The clunkiness becomes a minor plot point.

    Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      “Mr President, where can I get a JOB?”

      The President: Many busy executives ask me, “What about the job displacement market program in the city of the future?” Well, count on us to be there, JIM, because, if we’re lucky tomorrow, we won’t have to deal with questions like yours ever again.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5x2xBa8p0A

      — Firesign Theater, The Breaking of the President (1971)

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        “Shoes…for industry!”
        I know that sh*t by heart, my significant other just groans when I launch into it: “…surrounded by a thin, thin, thin 16 millimeter shell. And inside? It’s delicious! Arbee’s Whole Beef Halves, we deliver (offer not good after curfew in Sectors R and Z”)

        Reply
          1. OIFVet

            Is the Swiss lab the main testing facility for OPCW, or at least one of the main ones? If so, it makes all kinds of sense that Russia managed to place or recruit an asset inside the lab, particularly since 2013. I doubt they would be making such allegations without having possession of a real and highly damning document. It would appear that the UK walked into a trap of it’s own making. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch.

            Reply
  9. Carolinian

    Re The Intercept

    the Korean War “stands as a precedent for executive action in committing United States armed forces to extensive hostilities without any formal declaration of war by Congress

    Is it time to start saying out loud that FDR’s acceptance of Harry Truman as his 1944 VP was one of the worst decisions ever made? Roosevelt wanted WW2 to produce a new world of “united nations.” Truman midwifed our transition–as Gore Vidal said–from a republic to an empire and the continuance of the great world war by other means. Of course you can’t blame Truman alone for what happened but at that critical time he seems to have made all the wrong decisions.

    Reply
    1. OIFVet

      Dunno, I always felt that the transition to empire began either with the Mexican war or with the Spanish war. Remember the Maine!

      Reply
      1. temporal

        I’m going with before the republic was established – as described in “Loaded” and reviewed in the “New Republic”
        Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz makes a good case that that we (and our neighbors to the north and south, as well) have been on an empire track pretty much since the beginning. Unlike our neighbors though, the US transitioned from empire to Empire sometime along the way. Perhaps because the US codified armed militias which in turn lead to the basis of the confrontation over territory held by Mexico but coveted by US citizens?

        This was linked to in earlier NC commentaries but bears consideration.

        Reply
      2. PhilK

        This was not exactly imperial, but it’s an early instance of Uncle Sam’s perceived need to defend his (rich folks’) interests abroad.

        Until the American Declaration of Independence in 1776, British treaties with the North African states protected American ships from the Barbary corsairs. Morocco, which in 1777 was the first independent nation to publicly recognize the United States, in 1784 became the first Barbary power to seize an American vessel after the nation achieved independence. The Barbary threat led directly to the United States founding the United States Navy in March 1794. While the United States did secure peace treaties with the Barbary states, it was obliged to pay tribute for protection from attack. The burden was substantial: in 1800 payments in ransom and tribute to the Barbary states amounted to 20% of United States federal government’s annual expenditures. The United States conducted the First Barbary War in 1801 and the Second Barbary War in 1815 to gain more favorable peace terms; it ended the payment of tribute. But, Algiers broke the 1805 peace treaty after two years, and refused to implement the 1815 treaty until compelled to do so by Britain in 1816.
        Barbary pirates

        Reply
      3. Judith

        Howard Zinn begins his chapter The Empire and the People in his book A People’s History explaining, one might say, the beginnings of US empire abroad after the completion of the European conquest of North America. Zinn says:

        Theodore Roosevelt wrote to a friend in the year 1897: “In strict confidence…I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one.”

        The year of the massacre at Wounded Knee, 1890, it was officially declared by the Bureau of the Census that the internal frontier was closed. The profit system, with its natural tendency for expansion, had already begun to look overseas. The severe depression that began in 1893 strengthened an idea developing within the political and financial elite of the country: that overseas markets for American goods might relieve the problem of underconsumption at home and prevent the economic crises that in the 1890s brought class war.

        Reply
    2. Jim Haygood

      Truman turned the wartime OSS (Office of Strategic Services) into the CIA in 1947. This gave us the monstrous Military Intelligence Complex that seems to be the power behind the throne of all modern presidents.

      His Korean war — ordered by Truman personally as Commander in Chief [his justification] — de facto ended the exclusive constitutional duty of Congress to declare war.

      No wonder presidential candidates of both parties now ritually praise Truman — he set the precedent that made them emperors.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In the movie, the Good Shepherd, there was this conversation when Edward (Matt Damon) of the OSS was sent over to learn from the British :

        Welcome to London.
        You’re going to have to learn
        as quickly and thoroughly as possible
        the English system of intelligence.
        The black cards, particularly
        counter intelligence.
        The uses of information, disinformation
        and how their use is ultimately…
        power.
        They’ve agreed to open
        their operations to us.
        They can’t win the war without us
        but they don’t really want us here.
        Intelligence, is their mother’s
        milk and they don’t like sharing
        the royal tit with people
        that don’t have titles.

        Read more: https://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/movie_script.php?movie=good-shepherd-the

        The two countries were that close…probably still are.

        Reply
      2. barrisj

        Truman commissioned a study group in 1950 I believe which eventually birthed NSC -68, generally recognized by historians as THE blueprint for US Cold War strategy. The team included Paul Nitze, Dean Acheson, et al, and the Dulles bros and their ilk were charged with early-on implementation of the plan. It very soon became the forerunner of what is now somewhat derogatorily referred to as the “deep state”, encompassing academics, corporations, media, and both major parties. That’s the legacy that is almost impossible to transcend, even today.

        Reply
  10. Wukchumni

    Back from probably the last ski trip of the year, and a beauty.

    We used to do a lot of physical things such as bowling, dancing, playing tennis or racquetball or riding bikes or jogging, etc.

    But have you noticed you hardly see anybody doing those things anymore?

    Skiing never went away though, with an assist from snowboarding-the enfant terrible that revitalized it and taught the old dog a bunch of new tricks. Most everybody under 30 is a boarder, while most over 30 are skiers. It’s an ideal age mix for the resorts, and both downward pursuits coexist nicely for the most part, although if there ever is a collision, a skier always expects it to be a snowboarder’s fault.

    The playing field is interesting in that ages from 4 to 74 are participating at once with no barriers, save the forest for the trees on the margins.

    We had as many as 10 in our group going up and down all day, from 11 to 65. My friend’s 14 year old son always flying past me, not that I was going slow, but more like father time nipping at my heels.

    My tech savvy friends have Strava, which tells all.

    We averaged around 25 runs a day, with a top speed of 57 mph and usually cruising @ 43 mph. I never gave it much thought as to just how fast I skied, and when you’re driving in a car at those speeds, it’s a little terrifying to compare, so perish the thought.

    Reply
    1. pretzelattack

      i see people riding bikes all the time. jogging, not so much, tennis sometimes. i’m not sure there are any bowling alleys left around here, the only ones i see are abandoned or turned into something else. no roller skating rinks either.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I used to do the ‘Tour de Burn’ which lasted a week leading up to Labor Day, in the environs of Black Rock City, Nv.

        Ideally you wanted a beater of a bike, as the terra was dead flat for the most part, more layers of alkalai dust underfoot than the frequent wind storms could shake a stick at, and oh they tried.

        Although crime was really non-existent during Burning Man, the one thing that occasionally occurred was the purloined ride, bummer man.

        The venue was so spread out, you could walk-but riding a bike was the way to do it. And add in 30,000 people all riding bikes @ night with no lanes or anything, and it’s wonder I never got into an accident, as most everybody is lit up in some fashion.

        Reply
    2. diptherio

      …ages from 4 to 74 are participating at once with no barriers, save the forest for the trees on the margins.

      And the price of a lift ticket, don’t forget that one. That’s always been the biggest barrier to my participating much in downhill winter sports. $50 – $70 for a day on the slopes. Plus gas, plus equipment rentals. Hence, I know a lot more people who cross-country ski than downhill.

      Reply
        1. diptherio

          I haven’t been in a number of years, so I’m probably off.

          …Did a quick search and the nearest mountain to me charges $69 for a half-day and $79 for a full day.

          Reply
          1. curlydan

            I went skiing in Santa Fe in March with my under 12 year olds. My lift ticket: $80. My kids: $50 apiece. Being flatlanders, we don’t have equipment. That’s another $30 per person per day. Santa Fe is not prime skiing, so I’m sure the big resorts are much higher.

            So skiing costs about the same as a 1 day ticket at Disney World. I wish I lived close enough for a season pass.

            Reply
      1. Lemmy Caution

        Amen to that. Been cross country skiing for 40 years and it can’t be beat in terms of affordability and workout intensity. You can find nearly new sets of skis/poles/boots on Craigslist for $50 and in Michigan, for an extra $10 on your vehicle registration you get an annual pass that gets you into every state park and recreation area in the state. Go when and where you want, for a long as you want. No lines, no crowds, no waiting.

        Reply
      2. Brooklin Bridge

        Cost is indeed a big factor. 150 bucks is a lot of money. Then in the East (at least), the ski slope folks seem to define a modern trail as, one tree equals two trails. The fashion is to have as many trails as a mountain can possibly hold and this usually means cutting down a lot of the trees. That is so it can sustain the sheer volume of humanity pumped up under high pressure to the trail heads. And speaking of volume, I don’t know when they started high speed chair lifts (with up to four or more passengers per unit, when it used to be one or two and at a leisurely pace), but it means that a ton of people get to the top of the trail basically at the same time (after getting their stuff sorted out and their ski mask adjusted and so on). The sheer volume of people going down, many at break neck speed and clearly barely in control, makes the experience considerably less “in tune with nature” than it used to be or for that matter less in tune with anything what-so-ever except maybe the medical insurance vultures.

        Amazingly, it is still fun, but for someone of my means, it isn’t something you can do all the time. Perhaps some of the Western mountains have managed to avoid some of those issues and of course those who never experienced skiing up through the 70’s can’t remember anything else.

        Reply
  11. fresno dan

    Cohen Puffs As Judge Fumes Jonathan Turley

    So Cohen wants the judge to take extraordinary steps to protect his communications but it is not enough for him to actually take a 10 minute car ride to the courthouse to convey his respect for the court and the case. As with many of his decisions, there is literally no positive element to this move.
    ======================================================
    Yeah, I have over used this clip, but its not my fault there are so many idiots
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsOf0TZPPWY

    Unless, Cohen actually is passive aggressive and secretly despises Trump…..

    Reply
    1. Linda

      Saw a comment that if he were there, the judge could ask him a question or two. Also, if the judge got an iffy answer from Cohen’s lawyer, she could instruct him to ask his client. Maybe safer for him to not be there at the moment.

      I have no idea. IANAL. Sounded like a possibility to me.

      Reply
  12. RenoDino

    Michael Cohen and the End Stage of the Trump Presidency Adam Davidson, The New Yorker.

    Is Davidson talking about the Trump brand or America in general? Either way one in the same.

    “It burned through whatever goodwill and brand value it established as quickly as possible, then moved on to the next scheme.”

    Sorry, Trump is America and if he goes, he’s taking us with him.

    Reply
    1. bruce wilder

      unconsciously, America

      back in the day, during the actual Watergate, the pundit class concluded, “it wasn’t the crime, it was the cover-up” and now they are wondering whether the cover-up was a crime.

      IANAL, but i have to doubt that covering up Trump’s tawdry encounters with women who would sell the tale to the news media ought to be a crime. The legal theory, which receives little scrutiny in the New Yorker, the National Review or the American Conservative (all linked above), is apparently that paying to cover up the stories was an illegal campaign contribution by Cohen or an illegal use of campaign funds — there’s some vagueness there. Either theory seems to carry little moral weight even with the authors of these articles, so there’s also some additional hand-waving at the possibility of threats and deception entering the negotiating process and, therefore, legally arguable extortion or fraud.

      To me, this argument seems to me to as tendentious as the notion that firing Comey constitutes obstruction of justice or that Internet Research Agency were engaged in a conspiracy with Putin to determine the outcome of the Presidential election. The idea that Trump cannot morally attempt to suppress for-profit telling-of-tales by paying people who want to be paid one way or the other just cannot be sustained and I suspect that what cannot be sustained morally cannot be sustained legally or politically in such a public case. (What can be sustained legally out of the spotlight against the powerless of course is another matter.)

      Like the Manafort case, I expect this fishing expedition may very well pull the lid off a whole lot of rottenness. And, I fully expect the pundit class to studiously ignore the general implications.

      Much of Adam Davidson’s rant against Trump’s business model could be applied to Mitt Romney’s or Bill Clinton’s (I know, the Clinton Foundation as a business! perish the thought — they did so much good work! /s) or any number of other vulture / disaster capitalists.

      American politics is an overflowing cesspool of elite corruption at many levels, but the pseudo-Watergate narrative that the Media has followed so far in drumming up expectations of a snowballing series of revelations requires the unsustainable presumption that there is a smoking gun — no scratch “smoking gun”, a stained blue dress to be found, that will surprise and shock our sensibilities.

      That Adam Davidson has moved on from pseudo-Watergate to the narrative analogies of the fraud of the GFC of 2007-8 or the fraud and epidemic of corruption of the Iraq War of 2003 may indeed be telling.

      A lot of us recognized long ago that Trump, like Hillary Clinton, is the symptom of a possibly fatal political disease, and Davidson may be speaking more truth than he intends as he articulates the patient’s fever dreams.

      Reply
      1. Sid_finster

        For the establishment and Deep State, a pretext to remove Trump is as good as a reason, just as long as it gets the desired result.

        Reply
          1. Sid_finster

            Actually, yes .

            Moreover, Pence may be odious to many, but he is a known quantity and Team D and Team R each have a well worn playbook for folks like him.

            Reply
          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            Pence has been a Senator and a Governor. Pence is their kind of person. Pence is one of Them. He is a member of the Big Club.

            Of course they would prefer a President Pence.

            Biddable? Why would Pence have to be “biddable” when Pence truly believes in “Assad must go” and “Russia must be countered” and so forth.

            Reply
  13. fresno dan

    Film Review
    https://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Wolf-Warrior-II/80201534?trkid=201886046

    So, if you have seen John Wick 2, this movie makes Wick look like a Sunday stroll in the park.
    The cinematography, special effects, and CGI (unless the Chinese navy is much, much bigger than I thought) is outstanding, definitively on par with Hollywood. Indeed, just on production values it struck me that this was a far more expensive movie than Wick (I don’t know about actors salaries) And for the comparator I’m using (action movies) the acting was superb.

    Of course, the geopolitical was amusing – the Chinese have great respect for the UN (tell Tibet!)
    But just imagine a typical Hollywood pro Army (albeit a Chinese army) movie and you get the gist. And even though it is in Africa, the worst bad guys are the European mercenaries. Who can be the villains in these movies is always important.
    America has definitely lost its entertainment propaganda advantage.

    Reply
  14. QuarterBack

    Re Lucid Dreaming, I can attest to its authenticity and utility. For whatever reason, I have had the ability to perform lucid dreaming since childhood. Teachers and other students would often be perplexed at why I did so well on tests without seemingly spending time doing homework. The reason was that I was literally doing the homework and additional study in my sleep. In my professional life, much of my career is analytics based; between forensic investigation, systems behavior and failure analysis, solution approach identification, and predictive modeling. Throughout my career, many of my most complex and lucrative accomplishments were a direct result of purposely directing lucid dreams to the specific challenge.

    I suspect that Einstein’s “thought experiments” were actually applications of his own lucid dreaming techniques. When I lucid dream, I can purposely direct and remember working and dissecting various aspects of problems in the conscious part of my dream (if there is such a thing), but often other bonuses of eureka moments accompany the same waking experience. I believe lucid dreaming is especially good at problems that have poor taxonomies or verbal ways to describe the environment or problem. Most of my dream work is nonverbal on my part, often there are words from others, but I am mostly observing, seeing, hearing, and feeling emotionally. I liken it to how some modern software coders leverage the video CPU to perform tasks. I think that when we are wakeful, the verbal centers are more dominant in our thought process and actions, so lucid dreaming enables more out of the box observations because it allows the other parts of the mind to provide greater contribution in the process.

    Reply
    1. Enquiring Mind

      I have enjoyed many of those lucid dreaming benefits over the years.
      It is possible to apply a variation of lucid dreaming (I know, stretching a bit) in a waking state, for example, in the shower. I’ve applied that to solve various problems, probably induced by the relaxation of hot water and steam, and a feeling of letting go of any non-shower problems as they wash away down the drain.

      Reply
      1. JEHR

        I have had lucid dreams but not often. I did know, however, that when I was studying to learn something new, a good night’s sleep was better than trying to stay up all night to learn. I will try the lucid technique again.

        Reply
    2. ewmayer

      Re. the MILD technique, I have a problem already with step 1:

      Set an alarm for five hours after you go to bed.

      That sounds like a nightmare to me. :)

      Reply
    3. Jeff W

      I’ve had (pretty infrequent) occasions of lucid dreaming also.

      I’ve often thought that some fairly doable behavioral techniques, such as those described in the study described in Dreaming would increase the incidence of lucid dreams. It doesn’t seem all that unlikely that, if you do a bit of priming—saying “’Next time I’m dreaming, I will remember I’m dreaming,” as in the study, just before the onset of dreaming (which is more likely five hours into sleep than when you first go to bed)—you get somewhat better at experiencing a lucid dream. I would guess that, as time goes on, with a bit more practice, the person gets better of being aware of dreaming as the dream occurs without the verbal priming—the dream becomes its own stimulus. (People can increase their own body temperature or lower their blood pressure with neurofeedback—those activities are, in a way, even less conscious than lucid dreaming because the people have no idea exactly what they’re doing to achieve those things—that’s why neurofeedback is employed. But, in dreaming, the dream itself is the feedback.)

      I agree—I think the verbal responses, in essence, “block” other behavior which might lead to solutions. I think that, by relaxing, say, in the shower, you again reduce the likelihood of “conscious” responses being emitted that block other non-verbal or unconscious responses. Recently, I had the experience of hearing an old 1985 Korean pop song (이문세’s “빗속에서,” heard here in a busking version) and, thinking, “What song does that remind me of?” Try as I might, I could not think of the other song. I went to sleep and, in the morning, as I awoke, without even thinking about it, I had my answer: Sam Cooke’s “Bring It on Home to Me.”

      Reply
  15. Quacy

    Re: F.U.K.U.S. Strikes Syria – Who Won? Moon of Alabama

    A 60 to 70% air defense success rate against incoming missiles is stunning. Most of these will have been killed by the Pantsir-S1 systems Russia supplied to Syria.

    Its not the first time MOA goes over the top in comparisons of Russian military capability with that of the US. Quite often I have seen American skeptics of the missile defense program reckoning the problem of designing missile interceptors to be trying to hit a bullet with a bullet. MOA’s general drift against the Empire is so strong, it often finds itself attributing magical capabilities to Russians, including of course, believing ever word of what they say.

    On a slightly different note, it seems to me that the US’s geopolitical decision making has been so incompetent over the past decade, that Russia does not have to do that much misleading or lying at all to score political victories. That does not mean they are automatically virtuous as MOA tries to impress.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Quite often I have seen American skeptics of the missile defense program reckoning the problem of designing missile interceptors to be trying to hit a bullet with a bullet.

      You might want to do a little research before attacking someone’s credibility. The Tomahawk is not a “bullet” but rather a subsonic jet airplane that travels at low altitude. Shooting it down is nothing at all like the problem of hitting a tiny supersonic warhead after it has separated from its booster rocket. It is entirely plausible that the Syrian air defense was able to shoot many of these down. That doesn’t mean the Russian claims–which M of A is just passing along–are necessarily accurate. However they likely have far more credibility than the Pentagon assertion that none of the Tomahawks were shot down.

      Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      I agree MoA goes over the top sometimes in his analyses, and any figures like that are likely to be exaggerations.

      However, knocking out air launched subsonic cruise missiles is a much easier task than hitting ballistic missiles, especially when you have a good idea of their launch time/location and their target. Its not unrealistic to think that if the Syrians had warning of the attack, and most probably had been given an indication of the targets, that the Pantsir system would take down a lot of the missiles, thats exactly what its designed to do. What would be interesting to know is if it was Tomahawks or the British/French missiles that were taken down. The Tomahawks are more likely to be vulnerable as they are bigger and less stealthy.

      It seems very likely that the whole thing was rehearsed to some degree, and both sides would have been monitoring the other’s weaponry to see what they could learn. So I doubt the allies used their best efforts to confuse the defences, and I doubt the Syrians were allowed use the most up to date systems.

      Reply
      1. Quacy

        @PlutoniumKun and @Carolinian
        Thanks for the useful corrective about missile interception.

        @Carolinian
        Fair point. I didn’t look at the type of the weapons for which the claim was made. However I made no attacks on MOA’s credibility, only that some claims are exaggerated. Furthermore, I implied that Western lines, even the military ones, are met with instinctive dismissal (which is fine, long as the points are supported, as MOA often does), but oddly, claims/behavior/activities of Russia inspire awe and wonder at MOA.

        Reply
        1. Rojo

          I’m really thankful for MOA and read him regularly.

          But I do so with a little pinch of salt.

          I have deep skepticism of both the Skripal and Syrian gas attack narratives.

          Having said that, I don’t think we skeptics should over-commit to a counter-narrative.

          Reply
        2. begob

          What if the original Russian claims are not exaggerated, and they see an opportunity to sell quality kit that is not corrupted by US style corporate parasites, with the prospect of tying in Asian nations to a defensive compact?

          Reply
      2. witters

        “I agree MoA goes over the top sometimes in his analyses, and any figures like that are likely to be exaggerations.”

        I don’t agree. And I honestly don’t see the point of any exaggeration here from the Russian point of view. (In fact, I haven’t seen much exaggeration from their point of view in general.)

        Reply
    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      This question has been on mind since yesterday.

      The attention on the missiles shot down, and the conflicting statements from both sides (how many, or did any get shot down at all, etc) – Is it in the script that we debate over them, and not the launching of missiles itself?

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth Burton

        I see you’ve read Mr. Chomsky. :-)

        “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.” — Noam Chomsky

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I note that Chomsky has long considered the question of “who shot John” to be a concern which is outside the spectrum of concerns about which it is acceptable to have a lively debate.

          Reply
    4. Oregoncharles

      Technical point: most of those “missiles” are of the cruise variety, not ballistic. They’re essentially drones, jet airplanes with no pilot, but not intended to come back. The early ones made a point of flying very low to make interception difficult, but it would be like hitting a smallish airplane, not a bullet.

      Reply
    5. VietnamVet

      “The first casualty of war is the truth.” WWIII has started except in very slow motion and a mistake has not occurred yet to obliterate the competing East-West Oligarchs. MoA is one of the anomalies of the Internet Age; a peek hole through the agitprop into the real world. The differences between Russian and American public statements are telling. Somebody is not telling the truth to the public. I agree with him that It doesn’t make sense to send 35 cruise missiles to destroy the Barzeh research center which is a two story unfortified building that OPCW declared free of chemical weapons.

      Like Lambert’s article on the F-35 pointed out; the system is totally corrupt. The superpower militaries can’t fight a war because it would destroy the world. This is all Kabuki Theater in order to rip-off the Rubes. Expect, sometime in the future, a John Bolton want-to-be who believes his propaganda will get his finger on the red button and will give it a big push.

      Reply
  16. Wukchumni

    Asp not what you country can bomb for you…
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    At destroyed Syria lab, workers say they produce antidotes to snake venom not toxic weapons Agence France Presse
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    In all seriousness though, there is major bank in snake venom antidotes, and with the rise in risky selfies, a new audience in need.

    Our neighbors dog is up to $5300 in rattlesnake bite antidote, after a couple of encounters.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Guy’s Attempt To Take Rattlesnake Selfie Ends With $153,000 Bill

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/rattlesnake-selfie-hospital-bill_us_55b38198e4b0a13f9d18bf80

    Reply
    1. Montanamaven

      My neighbor in Montana admitted to stupidly taking a run through a field, startled a rattler and got bit. His costs for three days at a hospital and several doses of anti-venom cost his insurance company $100,000. Dog anti-venom is much much much cheaper. Curious, don’t you think?

      Reply
      1. flora

        whoa! 30 years ago a friend got bit by a copperhead, a venomous snake. Cost for treatments, including antivenom and followups, cost no where near this amount, even adjusting for inflation.

        Reply
  17. crittermom

    I love today’s photo of the young badger. Adorable!

    Regarding Hillary speaking at yet another fundraiser:
    Go away, Hillary. Just GO AWAY (preferably to Haiti?)

    My highlight of the day yesterday was when talking to a friend who was a former Trump supporter & now says she’d vote for Bernie this time.
    So many people, so little time…

    Reply
    1. Massinissa

      Hillary going to Haiti would probably make Haiti worse off. Maybe she could go to Antarctica? If worst comes to worst, the scientists there can just go home and leave Hillary there with all the snow.

      Reply
      1. ewmayer

        Actually pronounced “shpeess” – it’s a variant spelling of “Spiess” (or “Spieß” using the German sharp-s), which is German for spear/spit/pike/skewer. Surely there is humor to be had in the revised interpretation. :)

        Reply
  18. Don Cafferty

    France, the UK and the US did what they accused Assad’s regime of doing … I did not read all of the Washington Post’s article about “The US just bombed 3 sites in Syria” but read enough to confirm the absurdity of what is being said and how the media (and its masters) play us as being dumb. We are told that in retaliation for last week’s alleged chemical weapons attack by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, “the targeted sites were ones believed to be capable of storing chemical weapons and/or chemical precursors”. In other words, F.U.K.U.S. (France, UK, US) deliberately bombed a containment facility for chemical weapons and released chemicals into the air somewhat like the previous week’s release of chemicals for which the photos of dead bodies caused the retaliation. F.U.K.U.S. just did what they accused the Assad regime of doing!!! This time, there were no photos of dead bodies … probably because there were no chemical weapons! One site (a lab) claims to be a producer of snake venom. So, having spent approximately $187 million of taxpayer money (the cost of the missiles), the 3 countries are possibly the cause for a shortage of snake venom sometime in the near future and somewhere in the world.

    Reply
  19. Summer

    “There’s an AI Running for the Mayoral Role of Tama City,” Tokyo Otaquest…

    The world is really going to fall for this “AI is like people” crap?

    People are that empty inside and disconnected?

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      1.

      It’s more like a corporation disguised as a robot.

      So, now corporations can run their robots for government offices.

      2.

      Two persons behind the AI?

      I wonder if a candidate can be team of humans? Say, everyone on the softball team runs to be the mayor?

      How about everyone on the street, as a unit, as the governor?

      3. Is it the AI robot or the two persons who will run the city?

      4. How did they qualify the AI robot in the first place? No one in city hall asked?

      Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      A very popular rhinoceros, I think it was, was once elected mayor ofa major Brazilian city – probably Rio, IIRC.

      The AI may well win.

      Reply
  20. OIFVet

    We are looking to expand production and product lines, to do so we are looking to invest in CNC machinery, among other capital investments. We visited the largest dealer in the US this Friday, located in Michigan. They are owned by a German manufacturer of CNC machinery, and also develop and produce machines right here in the US. During the tour and discussions they revealed some rather interesting things. First, they mentioned that there is a worldwide shortage of parts for production and maintenance of CNC machinery. Being curious as I am, I asked why that is, their answer shocked me: Russia has been buying up all the machinery and parts it can get its hands on, from Japanese and German suppliers for the most part. It appears, therefore, that sanctions are backfiring in a big way as Russians have taken the opportunity to invest in domestic precision manufacturing. We have all heard about the sanctions spurring Russian agriculture, but there hasn’t been much on the effects on manufacturing.

    The second and less surprising revelation is that American manufacturers invest much less in capital improvements; on average they purchase CNC machines every 12 years whereas even mom and pop businesses in Europe purchase CNC machines every 5 years, on average. The conclusion should be self evident.

    Reply
      1. MK

        Inane! Why bother with sanctions at all if companies are allowed to simply build plants in Russia and continue to do business?? Seriously, the companies should be put out of business for violating ‘sanctions’.

        The answer of course is the dog and pony show must go on at all costs!

        Reply
    1. JCC

      I worked for one of the last, and still existing, US SuperPrecision CNC Machine Tool Mfg’s for 12 years as a field service engineer and still pay relatively close attention to the industry. The job consisted on installing, training users, and repairing their machines around the world and as a field service tech both mechanical and electronics training was needed in order to succeed in this profession (at that time their lathes, mills and grinders were capable of holding 50 millionths of an inch repeatability in an environmentally controlled environment and were guaranteed to hold two 10 thousandths of an inch in any environment, all computer controlled).

      When I bailed 18 years ago it was not only the mfg industry Capital Improvements issue in general which was slipping at that point from 7 to 9 years, but after the company went off the pink sheets and onto NASDAQ, they started reducing their own capital improvements in favor of the “shareholder”. My wages actually decreased and the company started off-loading its factory service to the distributors, and the distributors were hiring very unqualified and low-wage technicians.

      I got into the industry because of the belief at that time that in order to survive you had to be able to make things. That prevailing opinion starting disappearing during the 90’s in favor of “knowledge workers” and, luckily, I got out of the American CNC industry while the getting was still good.

      Reply
      1. Montanamaven

        When you give up making the “machines that make the machines”, your days are numbered, I was told. Germany didn’t give that up, but we did. I think that’s why Germany took over manufacturing washing machines and refrigerators maybe? Smart of Russia to figure finally figure it out. Importing stuff instead of making it yourself is called being a colony.

        Reply
        1. cnchal

          Smart of Russia to figure finally figure it out. Importing stuff instead of making it yourself is called being a colony.

          According to OIFVet’s comment, the Russians are buying and importing machine tools and spare parts to keep them running, so they can make their own goods, some for internal consumption or for export, like those interesting titanium parts for Boeing mentioned the other day.

          What are we going to make today, weapons of mass production or destruction?

          Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      The obvious conclusion is that you should expand into CNC parts.

      Edit: just saw JCC’s comment; maybe things have come full circle.

      Reply
    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      It is a backhanded demonstration of what a country can do for its economy with protectionism. Russia has in essence been protectionised by these sanctions and is working to semi-autarkify itself and deeply diversify and advance its own economy.

      Reply
  21. integer

    The British Government’s Legal Justification for Bombing is Entirely False and Without Merit Craig Murray

    Theresa May has issued a long legal justification for UK participation in an attack on a sovereign state. This is so flawed as to be totally worthless. It specifically claims as customary international law practices which are rejected by a large majority of states and therefore cannot be customary international law. It is therefore secondary and of no consequence that the facts and interpretations the argument cites in this particular case are erroneous, but it so happens they are indeed absolutely erroneous.

    Let me put before you the government’s legal case in full:

    Reply
  22. Craig H.

    > Why conspiracy theories are everywhere

    Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism. Augustin de Barreul pretty much invented the modern popular form after the French Revolution; his theory was subsequently copied from John Robison to Nesta Webster to Robert Anton Wilson to Webster Tarpley to Alex Jones. Barreul was one of the most well-known writers in Europe from the day the first of his five volumes hit the bookstores, immediately translated into German, Italian, English, Polish and many other languages.

    The French Revolution was a really big deal. When they executed Charles I people fainted and everybody in the room was aghast. When they executed Louis XVI outdoors in front of a mob they cheered. This is nearly the only messed-up thing in the modern world which isn’t the fault of the British. In this one case we can blame the French.

    Reply
  23. crittermom

    Just had to relay this: Simple solutions to annoying problems?

    My son called yesterday telling me of an incident during his 4-mile commute to work this past week…
    He has ridden a motorcycle for that commute for several years & always has to be on the lookout for ‘distracted drivers’.
    He encountered a young guy driving erratically, cutting people off, constantly changing lanes & swerving into his lane more than once.
    It turned out the driver was taking selfies on his cell phone while driving.

    When they were stopped in traffic with the careless (clueless) driver on his right, my son (wearing full protective gear) told him of his dangerous driving & suggested he hang up & drive.

    When the driver ignored him & leaned out of his car to take yet another selfie, my son grabbed the drivers phone & flung it across 2 lanes of traffic into a parking lot before the light changed. His lane cleared & he was able to leave as he watched the stunned driver just sitting there with his now empty hand still out the window.

    My son admits what he did was probably illegal & could be considered assault in the eyes of the law, but I have to applaud his decision.

    My son is now looking to buy a second vehicle (his wife takes theirs to work), as he said the commute is just getting too dangerous.

    Then a girlfriend told me of a housekeeper in her apt complex who was always slack on her job. She would bring the vacuum to her 5th floor, only to make a couple swipes down the middle before parking the vacuum in the hall & going in to visit a tenant for a long period, never finishing her job.

    My girlfriend finally had enough (she’d already reported the behavior to the apt mgr, who did nothing).
    So one day when the vacuum was once again sitting idle in the hall, my girlfriend put it on the elevator & sent it down a few flights on its own.

    Simple solutions to annoying problems!

    Reply
    1. pretzelattack

      death by narcissism, unfortunately he was likely to take some people out with him. your son may have saved lives, that day, anyway. driver’s probably still on the road being an idiot.

      Reply
    2. DJG

      crittermom: Congratulations to your son. It is exactly what he should have done.

      My current fantasy: Taking the cell phones of people in restaurants and dropping the phones in the water glass.

      Reply
      1. JEHR

        Yes, when you go anywhere today, indoors or outdoors, all you see is a bunch of arms in the air taking photos–most unappealing.

        Reply
    3. PlutoniumKun

      My own small solution for careless drivers was that when I did more night commuting on my bike I used to have a very high powered LED lamp on my helmet – its designed for mountain biking at night, so its super powerful, but it was useful for my short cut through an unlit park. I wouldn’t keep it on in traffic as it was too bright. But if someone was driving badly or went too close to me, as soon as I caught up at lights (which was almost always), I’d put the light on full power, go past the drivers door, and just peer in. The look of shock on the drivers face as they were dazzled with 1500 lumen was a sight to behold. I’d just say something like ‘please drive more carefully!’ and cycle on.

      Reply
    4. derechos

      Your son is very lucky that the driver didn’t “accidentally” run him over. There’s a lot of drivers who would take revenge for that act. Within the past week a video was broadcast of road rage.. The motorcyclist somehow walked away from it without serious injury. I would suggest that he take a different route to work until he gets a car.
      https://www.wthr.com/article/watch-florida-motorcyclist-lucky-to-be-alive-after-driver-runs-him-off-the-road

      Reply
  24. freedeomny

    Lucid dreaming?? I have never heard of this. And all it means is that you are “aware” that you are dreaming?? I thought everyone knew when they had a dream that they were dreaming. When I was a kid I used to get out of nightmares by “flying” away and to this day I’ve always been able to manipulate the outcome of a dream. I think as a teenager in the 70’s analyzing dreams was a fad – seem to remember having a dream notebook for a period of time…..which ultimately got boring since I was the one orchestrating the dreams….lol.

    Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Are we butterflies lucid-dreaming we are humans?

        “Flying away, butterfly. Fly away from this nightmare.”

        Reply
  25. Expat2uruguay

    Why Uruguay? Southern Hemisphere Edition.

    The events of the last week have really underscored one of my main reasons for choosing Uruguay, a small democracy in South America, as a place to relocate to. The reasoning goes like this: all of the nuclear powers, all of the refugees flows, all of the nuclear targets (except 1 US base in Australia), and several very large populations that compete over diminishing resources exist almost exclusively in the northern hemisphere. The idea is it’s better to not be where bad things are likely to happen.

    In the event of a thermonuclear exchange that destroys all ability to grow food everywhere on the planet, it will not matter that I chose the southern hemisphere. But, for anything of a smaller scale, the effects of radioactive fallout and diminished solar feeding of crops will be localized to the northern hemisphere. (I need to do more research on the effectiveness of the equatorial boundary on atmospheric exchange, and I would appreciate links and comments regarding such.) At any rate, anything less than Armageddon likely triggers a land rush to the Global South. So I’m buying all the property here I can, to live in, to provide income, and to provide safe-harbor to my family in our perilous present and fatalistic future.
    There are other reasons to be sure, I absolutely adore the culture and people here

    Reply
    1. pretzelattack

      that sounds practical. i’m not sure what the effects of a nuclear exchange would be globally; i remember a nuclear winter was discussed. nothing good for anybody, but you’re maximizing your chances of living.

      Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      Back in the 1970’s, there was a significant influx of Germans and Dutch to West Cork and Kerry in Ireland. Apparently, some institute had done a study on the safest places in the northern Hemisphere if there was a nuclear war, and that part of south-west Ireland came second (I don’t recall which was number 1, or what criteria the study used). I’ve no doubt that people will soon start nervously looking at their options again.

      Reply
    3. The Rev Kev

      Don’t get too comfortable. I read some time ago that the Pentagon decided that in the case of a nuclear war in the northern hemisphere, that they would launch nukes at targets in the southern hemisphere. The idea was that with the northern hemisphere knocked out for decades at least, the countries in the southern hemisphere would rise up and become the dominant countries so that when the US would be able to leave their bunkers and start to rebuild, there would be too much competition to them becoming the dominant power in the world again. I thought this pretty nutsy if true but then I remembered that this decision was done in the days before they knew about nuclear winters. Also, this idea was thought up by the same people that came up with the great idea that the US military should launch violent false flag terrorist attacks in American cities (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Northwoods) for justifying a war against Cuba so you just never know.

      Reply
  26. timbers

    So America just blew up a laboratory in Syria that makes snake venom antidotes….almost makes you wanna go back to bombing WMD that never existed. All else being equal that would be more productive, right?

    Reply
  27. Angry Panda

    I’m thinking that, in the last days of the U.S.S.R., jokes were a more accurate indication of public opinion than surveys…

    I have no idea what this is intended to mean, however it is worth mentioning that in the last days of the USSR the public opinion there was very much for keeping the USSR, albeit with some measure of reform. As demonstrated by the results of the referendum they had on the subject literally a few months before dissolution – 80% turnout (inclusive of the regions that boycotted the vote), 77% voted to keep the union. And this is still before any social or economic reforms of the Yeltsin era, i.e. when “hope and change” was still a thing. Yeltsin & Co. essentially dissolved the USSR by fiat in contravention of the referendum results, which I suppose does not exactly fit the “socialist decay” narrative popularized in the West post facto…

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If Democrats Listened to Their Voters, They’d Be Moving Left Vice

      Do you lead or do you follow – that’s the eternal question.

      The other choices are to submit to campaign money or to be coerced by, say, someone with information on your past.

      You lead when you believe you’re on the right side or the virtuous side. For example, women’s equal rights, even if when support was less than 50%. Because that was the right thing to do.

      So, that’s a good argument, but i am not sure it’s a winning argument, to only say they should listen to the voters. Voters might want to ban marijuana today, and legalize it tomorrow.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        In the age of Bernays, and all those hidden persuaders, how can anyone find legitimacy in “what the voters want or think or believe”?

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That makes things tricky.

          “Maybe we don’t do what the voters ostensibly want, when they are polled.”

          Reply
    2. John k

      The deciders decided costs of empire unaffordable. Those in the non Russian republics wanted subsidies to continue. Russia seceded from the union; unlike the confederacy, they could make it stick.
      Putin thinks it a disaster, he’s got enough trouble with Chechens etc that it’s puzzling. Maybe woulda cherry picked e Germany and Ukraine.

      Reply
    1. Elizabeth Burton

      And the data on methane, which seems to escape the many pipelines carrying it across the USA an awful lot?

      Reply
  28. Jim Haygood

    More “verdict first, investigation afterwards” as the United Snakes doubles down:

    The U.S. Treasury Department will announce fresh sanctions on Monday on Russia related to its involvement in Syria’s use of chemical weapons, U.S. United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said on Sunday.

    “Russian sanctions will be coming down, Secretary Mnuchin will be announcing those Monday if he hasn’t already and they will have to do with chemical equipment used by Assad,” Haley said on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” referring to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-15/u-s-to-sanction-russia-due-to-syria-chemical-attack-haley-says

    By this logic, the US should be severely sanctioned for supplying the munitions the Saudis used to kill tens of thousands of Yemenis.

    Explosions good; chemicals bad.

    Reply
    1. Edward E

      Don’t forget the neglected, suffering and dying in Puerto Rico poor living conditions. The cancer from poor water supply Coalminers/Flint lead poisoning. Parents cannot afford healthcare, poor nutrition, poor food quality, no more snap. Israel mowing people down while they defend Israel to the UN and ROW. Rich get richer permitting brain-damaging and carcinogenic chemicals in the environment. They continue to maintain and stockpile chemical weapons. The beaten and killed by police and so many denied basic needs. Gassings at Standing Rock and remember Waco?

      Reply
  29. allan

    The War on Pensions Continues [Dean Baker@CEPR]

    There has been an ongoing battle in major media outlets against public sector pensions. Papers like the New York Times and the Washington Post have regularly featured pieces telling readers that these pensions are unaffordable.

    This crusade, carried on mostly in the news pages, has often taken bizarre twists. Back in 2011 the Washington Post had a front page article complaining about generous pensions that highlighted the story of former employer who was getting a pension of $520,000 a year. People who read through the article discovered that this former employee was a former administrator who was under indictment for fraud at the time, not the typical California employee. …

    Always happy to give helping hands and sound bite-worthy quotes to such hard-hitting investigative journalism
    are the think tanks supported by the Koch, Arnold and other conservative foundations.
    Mercatus has an entire division devoted to gutting public pensions,
    and it’s often prominently displayed by Hoover.
    Obscene (pre-retirement) salaries for public university football and basketball coaches,
    and blank checks for Stingrays and SWAT teams, never seem to be an issue with these guys. Weird, huh?

    Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      Dean Baker doesn’t address the deliberate underfunding and overestimation of pension returns by states who run the plans … with the blessing of GASB “standards” [i.e., make up any return you like].

      High-salaried public employees make good copy for feeding popular resentment. But it’s the underfunding — enabled and magnified by overestimated returns — that threatens public pension plans’ solvency.

      Why does Dean Baker attack the sizzle but never get down to the steak? An advocate who really wants to save public pensions must confront their daunting finances head on.

      Otherwise the coming crisis in the early 2020s can and will be used to default on pension promises by extending PROMESA from Puerto Rico to the fifty states.

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        A big source of the problem is Governors taking holidays from making pension contributions so they can dish out tax breaks to their favorite donors.

        Reply
      2. JTMcPhee

        “High salaried public employees?” I call BS on that repeated claim. You have made your disdain for public employees plenty clear. There are slackers and “senior executives” who may rest on their oars, but public employees I know, in all kinds of jobs, work dang hard. Not yet as increasingly and uniformly slave-driven as, say, Walmart or McDonald’s and Amazon mopes, but you like your public water supply and sewage and, where corruption has not privatized it yet, garbage collection, and safety inspections and how about being able to trust that mostly, milk and medications (subject of course to privatized corruption) won’t sicken you.

        What is with the “pension envy?” Is yours not big enough, or are we all supposed to join in the race to the bottom, where the edge of the cliff is? Given your persistence on this criticism and denigration of public pensions and public employees who are certainly no more or less corrupt and evil than their equivalents in “private”, I don’t buy any claim that you are miffed that public pension administrators have “underfunded” pensions that in most cases are “funded” by employee contributions, “forced savings” like Social Security contributions which you want to see dumped into “exposed to risk, subject to fraud and fees” privatized “investments.”

        Libertarian tea, brewed strong…

        Reply
        1. todde

          Public pensions are not being reported correctly on government financial statements.

          The liabilities are undervalued because of the 7% rate of return that they are discounted by.

          He’s right, whatever his personal beliefs are.

          Reply
          1. JTMcPhee

            Yes, the pension liabilities (like the balance sheet of the USPS) may be “undervalued,“ and yes, the scum that rises to the top in most organizations, like state governments, plays accounting games that facilitate the looting, like all the stuff about CALpers that’s been so well documented here. But state and federal pensions are largely funded, correct me if I am wrong but I was both a state and a federal worker who I would claim actually did work, in consumer protection and environmental protection, by money taken out of daily wages. My pension contributions were deducted from my pay, both in the small accounting of the W-2 sort where the deductions showed up on my pay stub, and when it came to the Bosses setting my pay rates. I lost my pensions due to divorce laws, the Illinois one would in any event have been subject to the attack JH levels from his one perspective due to corruption and “underfunding” that’s for all the reasons corruption has generated. If I had stayed at the EPA as long as many of my friends I would have something monthly that would put me in the “comfortable range,” since I would likely have retired as a GS14 or 15. How many people in the private, AND PUBLIC, mope-work level have had their pensions, largely paid for by deductions from their wages, ripped off or bankruptcied out of existence, by Vulture Capitalists or corrupt Koch-inspired or just corrupt “eel-lected officials?” Is it in the trillions, yet?

            JH may be “right” about the accounting tricks the Bosses are using to kick the mopes down the road until the Bosses have gotten filthy rich, but I would suggest that is a sly bit of accounting fraud on his part, in support of his “positions.”

            As with so many other accounting games, the externalities of corruption, theft and fraud are completely glossed over. Pensions whether public or private (and there are exceptions, I know, but by and large), are money subtracted from wages, theya are not some “theft by the government” from the “righteous wealth piles” of our Calvinist Overlords and 10 and 20-percenters. Most workers, public or private, EARN their pensions. (Maybe not members of Congress, state legislatures, much of the Administration, lots of military Brass and a few other parasitical categories). Just like all of us who are “forced by the guns of the government” to contribute part of our wages to the forced retirement savings called Social Security, or that other decency of the social arrangements called Medicare — both of which are being looted by the parasites and tumors who have nothing useful to do but sit around and try to figure out how to move more money and wealth to their side of the Great Ledger.

            Reply
        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Unite! – that’s one way.

          Merge all pensions and Social Security into Single Retirement Plan…Single Payer, or Social Security For All.

          Reply
        3. Plenue

          Haygood, as best as I can tell, is a stock-market playing parasite. Of course he wants everything put where he can play it for unearned gain.

          Some of us actually do real work for a living.

          Reply
          1. cnchal

            Haygood is a messenger. Let’s consider his message.

            Right now, for government workers and the assumptions about their pensions, particularly for state and municipal employees is that by imagining a 7 or 8% compounded return on the money already in, along with the continuing contributions of those employees, it’s reckoned that most or everyone’s money will come in.

            By looking at returns realistically, no one’s money will come in at the amount expected.

            What to do?

            Some combination of higher taxes on the “private sector”, higher contributions by the government employees themselves, shooting for the investment stars and winning, or benefit reductions to distribute what is available in an equitable manner are some of the choices available.

            Reply
          2. Oregoncharles

            I think that’s a personal attack.

            Jim may sound a little too gleeful about it, but he’s making the same point Yves is with her work on CalPERS: too many public pensions are mismanaged and underfunded, often because their return rate projections are, ahem, overly optimistic. The problem is essentially political: states and localities don’t want to make the full contributions that are needed, and managers wanted to sound good, so they hyped the returns. In Oregon, they were also misled by the short period when returns really were that high. Oregon has struggled with the results for a long time now.

            Jim also makes a substantial, daily work contribution to NC, for free as far as I know. There are some things he’s wrong about, IMHO, but that’s true of most of us.

            Reply
  30. blennylips

    notesfromdisgraceland just came across my radar with this:

    “The poverty of technology and the technology of poverty”
    https://notesfromdisgraceland.wordpress.com/2018/04/14/the-poverty-of-technology-and-the-technology-of-poverty/
    Panhandlers with smartphones are unusual sight – it is not just the price of the accessory that is at odds with their social status, but the entire protocol: the price of connectivity, how they pays their bills, which assumes a checking account; purchases of apps, which requires possession of a credit card suggesting some king of credit history… Things just don’t add up.

    He goes on to show that Dollar Store and Apple share some curious timing, not coordination exactly…

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A country is judged by how it treats its poor.

      Poverty comes in various forms.

      1. Financial poverty
      2. Spiritual poverty
      3. Emotional poverty
      4. Intellectual poverty
      5. Witticism poverty
      6. Optimism poverty.

      When we see a person less smart, less educated than us, we should want to share what we have with him/her.

      “Stupid left or right wingers.”

      Reply
  31. JohnnyGL

    Re Vice article about Dem base moving left while Dem politicians move right…it was interesting to see the numbers on 2012-Obama to 2016-something-other-than-Clinton voters.

    It seems crazy to think there may be a gross total 13M voters who defected from Obama in 2012. But the way the authors crunched the numbers looks pretty legit.

    More good stuff from the same authors in this one https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/10/opinion/sunday/obama-trump-voters-democrats.html

    I’d like to point out that Obama managed to lose a NET of 3.5M voters from 2008 to 2012. I wonder how many McCain-to-Obama voters helped off-set the massive shedding of voters during the Obama years.

    It’s really remarkable that the Schumer strategy of picking up 2 suburban repubs for every 1 working class vote turned out to be precisely BACKWARDS.

    They’ve shed 2 working class voters for each 1 suburban repub they’ve picked up. WINNING!!!!

    Reply
    1. Louis Fyne

      -It seems crazy to think there may be a gross total 13M voters who defected from Obama in 2012-

      it isn’t crazy. A lot of those now retconned as ‘racist’ Obama-flipped-Trump voters wanted to drain the swamp in 08 and 12. even though that phrase wasn’t invented.

      The DC Democrats still aren’t asking themselves “how did Obama manage to win Indiana in 08” and Team Dem lose it 16. Oh wait, they did ask they question. All those Hoosiers must be misogynists and racists.

      Reply
      1. johnnygl

        It’s kind of funny how obama’s win in Indiana in ’08 gets forgotten. It’s never been tagged a ‘swing’ state before or since.

        Reply
    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Obama definitely was the beneficiary of record minority turnout in 2012, but the GOP was even more so than usual naked in their attempts to get people off voting rolls especially black people which created an organic energy that helped Obama win. His actual margins in states that mattered weren’t that impressive, and it was never a stretch to point out a weak Democrat running against a candidate less problematic than Mittens (for Republicans, Trump was less problematic) would be in danger of losing. Running HRC with her own record towards minorities and her husband’s administration’s record really was a terrible idea when the Democrats owed so much in 2012 to that record minority turnout.

      Reply
  32. curlydan

    With regard to reporting cypto currency earnings, the Investopedia article has a bit of an error. In early February, CreditKarma reported that fewer than 100 of its 250K users to that date had reported cypto currency earnings. CreditKarma files about 1 out of 150 tax returns. The national total for cypto currency earnings should be much higher than 100 by the filing deadline, but the IRS still could have a field day tracking down unreported cypto currency gains (and losses) if they could find a good data source.

    Reply
  33. derechos

    Casino hacked via a thermometer in the fish tank….

    “Nicole Eagan, the CEO of cybersecurity company Darktrace, told the WSJ CEO Council in London on Thursday: “There’s a lot of internet of things devices, everything from thermostats, refrigeration systems, HVAC [air conditioning] systems, to people who bring in their Alexa devices into the offices. There’s just a lot of IoT. It expands the attack surface and most of this isn’t covered by traditional defenses.”

    “Eagan gave one memorable anecdote about a case Darktrace worked on where an unnamed casino was hacked via a thermometer in a lobby aquarium. “The attackers used that to get a foothold in the network. They then found the high-roller database and then pulled that back across the network, out the thermostat, and up to the cloud,” she said.”
    http://www.businessinsider.com/hackers-stole-a-casinos-database-through-a-thermometer-in-the-lobby-fish-tank-2018-4

    Reply
  34. flora

    re: for pity’s sake ( Clinton) and Slaughter

    A person’s eagerness to prove she is “strong” enough to order bombings in order to prove she is “strong” enough to order bombings gives me no confidence that the person has been properly schooled in the use of power. Instead, it comes off (to me) as a weakness, flailing about hoping to win points. Hello, Lindsey and John.

    Reply
  35. Plenue

    Good God, are those idiots still hating on Susan Sarandon? And looking at that twitter thread, some people are still using the Bernie Bro meme. That meme was entirely based on the idea that Sanders supporters were all college frat douchebag white men. By calling Sarandon one, do they really not see they are implicitly conceding the meme was wrong?

    Also, she’s still, to this day, not wrong. Clinton was a warmonger, not just in a general sense (having among other things been the deciding voice in the destruction of Libya), but very specifically, and repeatedly, in regards to Syria. Even now it looks very much like Trump opted for symbolic PR strikes, that did little real damage and where steps were taken to avoid starting World War III with Russia (though this latest one seems to have also involved some genuine effort to cripple the Syrian Airforce, which failed, if the claims about many tomahawks being intercepted on the war to Syrian airfields are true. The planes had all been moved to Russian airfields anyway). Whereas Clinton was consistent that she wanted to impose a no-fly zone and bomb as many airfields as she felt was needed.

    Clinton was basically a shoe-in for WWIII. Trump was a wild-card. It was a crap choice, but some people were willing to roll the dice and hope.

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  36. blennylips

    Do you remember this Lazarus Long line from Heinlein’s Time Enough For Love:

    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

    Let me add pirate a file to that list.

    Just sayin’ **cough*wolveWariorII”*cough**
    https://www.avclub.com/we-wrap-up-our-history-of-action-films-with-2017-s-very-1821654925

    Reply
  37. Brooklin Bridge

    The Syria Catastrophe -Richard Beck

    Great Link. The best brief or compact history and analysis on Syria since 2011 I’ve come across. After endless comparisons with the US and UK and so on, it becomes difficult to keep perspective on a complex situation. Assad, Putin and anyone NOT main stream USA, take on a seriously flawed sympathetic or very restricted light. Beck handles that effortlessly with a remarkably well written and comprehensive description of the players and how they fit together in this “Total War.” The description of the horror that has been unleashed by major players all going clumsily but ruthlessly for their own perceived interests is excellent. Very powerful writing.

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    1. ewmayer

      Read Richard Beck’s 2017 n+1 Magazine piece “The Syria Catastrophe” over the weekend and last night. For all of its good points, this strikes me as very much an establishment-narrative-hewing piece. For example:

      The war’s complexity makes it difficult to see a viable path forward, but there is a sense in which it would be foolish to think of the conflict as one big Rubik’s cube in need of solving, because the complexity itself is part of the problem — the best thing to do with the Rubik’s cube would be to throw it against a wall. Again and again, countries across and outside the Middle East have decided that escalating the war by military means is justified by whatever little sliver of national interest they feel is at stake. The US, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, China, France, and Britain have all pumped military resources into the conflict, increasing not only the war’s capacity for destructive violence but also its duration.

      That list of countries seems somehow incomplete – hmm, which ones might be missing? A few paragraphs later we are remidned of the answer by way of an oblique reference (bolds mine):

      The protests that sparked the conflict in 2011 were not originally calls for Assad’s fall. They were instead demonstrations demanding reforms: the end of emergency law (justified by a permanent “state of war” with Israel), the release of political prisoners, the removal of a regional governor who allegedly allowed the torture of teenagers by police, an end to the bribes and harassment and other daily humiliations of life under authoritarian rule.

      Wait – can you go back a bit and maybe tell us a little more about that ‘permanent “state of war” with Israel’? Might that country also have pumped military resources into the conflict? Alas, that is the one and only reference to Israel in the entire piece.

      Beck also uncritically reiterates the establishment narrative regarding whodunnit with regard to chemical weapons:

      In 2012, as the conflict was maturing into a full-fledged civil war, Obama told the White House press corps that any use of chemical or biological weapons by Assad would be a “red line for us,” the implication being that direct military intervention would follow. He used the “red line” phrase twice, saying, “That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.” But one year later, when chemical weapons were launched at rebel-held positions in Ghouta, it turned out that Obama’s calculus would stay the same, and the expected air strikes never came.

      Per the “banned in the West” work of Seymour Hersh (which I note has been expanded since its initial publication with the inclusion of multiple letters from readers – some good exchanges in there, including an official-narrative-based ‘objection’ by Jamie Allinson at top, which is thoroughly debunked by MIT expert Ted Postol a few letters further down) the US and its pals were frighteningly close to launching a full-on Itaq-2003-style strike before anaylis of the chemicals used (ironically at the UK Porton Down lab which features in the recent Skripal poisoning case) “didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal”. That better explains why “the expected air strikes never came” than does Beck’s vague “Obama vacillation” claim. Obama’s “red line” comments also provided a very clear and obvious rationale for the rebels to resort to homebrewed (or imported from Turkey) CWs in order to stage a false-flag incident, a fact Beck somehow overlooks.

      I’m not saying “don’t read it”, just if you do, do so with a skeptical mind and be aware that Beck seems to be freely mixing facts with official-narrative elements.

      Reply
  38. allan

    Wall Street Titan Takes Aim at Law That Tripped Him Up [NYT]

    At 92, Maurice R. Greenberg is not done fighting.

    Mr. Greenberg, known as Hank, is a revered figure on Wall Street who built the American International Group into an insurance giant, only to lose it in 2005 amid a securities fraud investigation. He fought the New York attorney general’s office for a dozen years before he agreed to pay $9 million as part of a civil settlement last year.

    Despite the settlement, the battle continues. Mr. Greenberg has taken aim at the Martin Act, the sweeping state securities law that was used against him. The far smaller insurer where Mr. Greenberg is serving as chief executive, C.V. Starr & Company, has helped develop, circulate and lobby for new federal legislation that would pre-empt the Martin Act and other state securities laws. …

    Although there have been attempts to limit the Martin Act in the past, Mr. Greenberg’s bid is gaining traction. He is working alongside a powerful ally, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and has the backing of Wall Street Journal editorial page. And he has had a warm relationship with President Trump. …

    Exactly what those ex-Carrier workers in Indiana are demanding.
    And as usual, the 10th Amendment for me but not for thee.

    Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
    But only after checking “crash the economy” off your bucket list.

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  39. The Rev Kev

    Just read a report that the Jihadists may be getting ready to give up another pocket north-east of Damascus in the eastern Qalamoun region. That would leave the pocket around Homs, a small pocket south of Damascus which includes ISIS, an ISIS pocket in the eastern deserts and the area around the Jordanian border regions left as areas of resistance. Meanwhile, the Russians are shipping in more heavy equipment, including the BTR 80 armored personnel carrier, the Ural 4320 tanker, ambulances, and Kamaz trucks.
    In short, the dogs barked but the caravan is still moving on.

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  40. bob

    Re Sarandon
    This is precious-

    https://twitter.com/someone_uknow/status/985001583703281665

    “I’d feel a hell of a lot better if Hillary were bombing Syria right now, if she deemed it necessary. She would have lawfully sought the go-ahead from Congress, consulted with defense experts, have a fully staffed Cabinet & State Dept, & have a cohesive plan for the region”

    Hire more women murderers! Fully staff the torture agencies! Have a plan to make the children bleed! If she deemed it necessary…

    Reply

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