Links 4/16/18

Argentinian officers fired after claiming mice ate half a ton of missing marijuana Guardian

Trillions Upon Trillions of Viruses Fall From the Sky Each Day NYT (original).

Cancer not only mutates but evolves other mechanisms to beat drugs (BC)

The Tech Giants Must Be Stopped The American Conservative. Must-read.

Full transcript: Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman on Recode Decode Recode. Interesting on concentration, and Obama Democrats.

The mystery of the eurozone slowdown FT

Why Aren’t Big Banks Paying Higher Interest Rates on Deposits though Rates Have Surged? Wolf Street

Reviving a demoralised workforce at the UK’s Serious Fraud Office FT

Hospital trusts accused of ‘backdoor privatisation’ Guardian

Harvard Raises $9.1 Billion in Capital Campaign Harvard Crimson


America’s MIA strategy Axios. Strategy, the word one suddenly hears everywhere in the chattering classes. A little late…

Because Victorian comic opera has the best words, please indulge me:

When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery,
When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery;
In short, when I’ve a smattering of elemental strategy, [Hmm, strategy, strategy… Ah! I have it!]
You’ll say a better Major-General has never sat a gee!

But The Intertubes has the best memes:

You can make an omelette if you do more than break eggs. Although not necessarily. Where’s the spatula? And I smell burning plastic. Why is that pan’s handle right over an open flame? How many things are wrong with this picture?

What is the West’s end game in Syria? Al Jazeera

How 105 Missiles Show Assad’s Future Is Safe Bloomberg

* * *

Syria Airstrikes Instantly Added Nearly $5 Billion to Missile-Makers’ Stock Value Fortune. Ka-ching.

The Real Next War in Syria: Iran vs. Israel Thomas Friedman, NYT. Age cannot wither him, nor custom stale his infinite variety.

Saudi king rejects US plan to transfer embassy to Jerusalem Agence France Presse

5 potential scenarios for Iran deal Al-Monitor

Trump, a reluctant hawk, has battled his top aides on Russia and lost WaPo

Syria air strikes: Macron says he convinced Trump not to pull out troops BBC

May Agrees to Hold Parliament Debate on Syria Attack Bloomberg. Sentence first, verdict afterwards.

German minister wants EU united front for de-escalation with Russia Reuters

Trump Transition

IG Report Roasts Andrew McCabe National Review

* * *

Corporate America poised to unveil record buybacks FT

Trump order targets wide swath of public assistance programs The Hill

Farm Bill Ties Food Stamps to Work, Adjusts Farm Aid Roll Call

Democrats in Disarray

When Liberals Become Progressives, Much Is Lost NYT

The Democrats Are the Party of Fiscal Responsibility David Leonardt, NYT [pounds head on desk].

Building lawsuits instead of power plants: Where South Carolina’s nuclear fiasco stands now Post and Courier

Fourth Circuit appeals court strikes down Maryland’s drug price-gouging law WaPo

Puerto Rico

FEMA’s plan underestimated Puerto Rican hurricane Politico

Puerto Rico’s blackout is now the second largest on record worldwide Vox

Puerto Rico’s Slow-Going Recovery Means New Hardship For Dialysis Patients KHN

Our Famously Free Press

Trump might survive firing Rosenstein or even Mueller. The reason: Fox News. Margaret Sullivan, WaPo. I wouldn’t have thought it was possible to bemoan tribal politics and treat Media Matters as a serious venue. But I would have been wrong.

Private equity owners endanger Daily Camera’s future Dave Krieger, Boulder Free Press Blog. Krieger: “The publisher of the Daily Camera spiked my Sunday editorial, so I elected to publish it on another platform:”

The Daphne Project: International media houses to publish Caruana Galizia’s stories Malta Today. The Daphne Project.


He shot the driver in his son’s ‘stolen’ truck, Okla. cops say. It was his other son The Herald-Sun

Police State Watch

A Chicago cop is accused of framing 51 people for murder. Now, the fight for justice. Buzzfeed

Class Warfare

It’s time to give socialism a try Elizabeth Bruenig, WaPo.

How convict labour increased inequality The Economist (press release).

The Meaning of Lula’s Imprisonment Jacobin

How Highways Squeezed Taxable Land Out of Cities StreetsBlog USA

When Value Arises From Relationships, Not From Things P2P Foundation

People abroad are asking their militaries to save their democracies. It won’t work. WaPo

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.


  1. fresno dan

    Argentinian officers fired after claiming mice ate half a ton of missing marijuana Guardian

    Seems plausible, EXCEPT where did they get all the brownie mix???

    1. The Rev Kev

      Meanwhile, in other news. Warehouses in Pilar in Argentina are reporting mysterious thefts in their stocks after an audit. Reported stolen were Pizza Rolls, Diary Queen Blizzards, Donuts, Half Baked Ice Creams, Cookie Dough, Macaroni & Cheese, Tacos and Chili Cheese Fries.

      1. Sid Finster

        I guess that is one way to keep mice safe from glaucoma, among other things.

        BTW, how do they know it wasn’t rats?

        1. Ford Prefect

          They know it was mice because the rats are in management and don’t get their paws dirty. they delegate the work.

      2. Richard

        The mice ate all that too! It was a field day for the mice, except for the field mice ironically enough, who are driven to drink instead, and emptied warehouses full of confiscated scotch, then threw up and had a much more miserable evening. The lesson is clear.
        Now no more questions about the missing pot!

    2. integer

      The better part of a decade ago, when I was partaking fairly regularly, I spent about a month wondering why there was always less greenery on the kitchen counter in the morning than I remembered having left there the previous night. Then one day I was cleaning the kitchen and happened to move the microwave, which sat on the same kitchen counter, and discovered a hidden stash in the recess in the back of said microwave, that had evidently been nibbled at. So, not only had a mouse been feasting on my mary jane, it had been systematically hoarding it. True story.

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        As a fellow partaker (legally, in my state!) I endorse this story as ‘not-fake-news’, and thank you for making me laugh. :)

      2. perpetualWAR

        My dog ate a huge baggy of my mary jane. Good thing it wasn’t a bag of edibles. Nothing happened to him other than a serious scolding.


        1. Oregoncharles

          Yes, when I was in college, a housemate’s little dog ate his whole stash. It slept the rest of the day, but was otherwise unharmed.

        2. ambrit

          I read that this was how trainers ‘encouraged’ the dogs with the “Golden Nose” to find the noxious herb. Find the ‘goods’ and get a cannabis ‘treat’ as a reward.
          I don’t pretend to know why, but this thread made me put on some Parliament music. Curiouser and curiouser!

  2. PlutoniumKun

    The mystery of the eurozone slowdown FT

    The economic slowdown this quarter has been quite severe in the Eurozone, but I suspect the main reason is the very unseasonable cold and wet weather (i.e. global warming) – anecdotally I’ve heard a lot of stories of people cancelling holidays, home improvements, etc., even major construction starts have been delayed. So I suspect that’s the main cause. The FT offers this:

    •A second possible explanation is that the growth rate during 2017 was simply too far above the long run growth rate for this situation to be sustainable indefinitely. Supply constraints may have started to bite. The Fulcrum nowcast models had anticipated a gradual return to trend occurring in 2018, and they now seem to interpret the data as being consistent with a much sharper return to trend than was previously expected.

    In other words, austerity destroyed economic capacity, so any recovery will struggle to achieve output levels similar to the past without major capital investment. We’ve seen this in Ireland, where despite very strong growth for the past 3 years or so, the construction industry hasn’t been able to keep up with demand. Austerity isn’t just bad for the poor, it also cuts off the ability of the economy to take advantage of better times. One day maybe this will sink in with Euro area policymakers, but I’m not holding my breath.

    1. Clive

      I agree about the weather. Retail died in a snowstorm here in southern England in Q1. I suspect this’ll feed through into the stats for GDP in the next month or two. I’d walk through my normally busy town centre in February and March and it was like I was almost on my own — only a dozen or so hardy souls braving the conditions. It’s not like they were especially bad (someone from Chicago would wonder why we were such wusses) — merely that it wasn’t what we’ve grown accustomed to.

      And yes, for more endemic problems, I think we’ve degraded capability on almost every level. For example, my next door neighbour who is in commercial construction talks about both CRE and government infrastructure sponsors who are unable to adequately scope and specify their projects.

      Granted, these are sometimes niche areas like water supply and electricity grid build outs. Even that’s a worry. But things like office developments where you can’t get a decision on floorplate designs or even the likely market for the building (legal/finance tenants don’t want the same spec as media, who want something different to government… or healthcare… etc.) and you can’t explain to the gadfly attention spans of the people putting up the money why you need to have a rough idea of the electrical loading the building will present before you sign off the architect’s design.

      Modern commerce is structurally unable to cope with either sudden upticks or sudden downturns. It’s like big business is a fleet of Titanics.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Those two middle paragraphs of yours sound like they need their own article to expand what you said. I thought that the point of all these contractors and the like was flexibility? By what you wrote, the flexibility is there but not the capability of taking advantage of it all. And that example of not taking into consideration the electrical loading of a new design means that they must have all sort of other blind spots. Maybe other things like building location and local traffic flows also get neglected as well.

        1. Jean

          Building material supply shortages too. Plywood is up 25% hereabouts.
          Puerto Rico, Florida, Houston, Santa Barbara, Wine Country fires, that’s a whole lot of demand.

          BTW, after The Big One hits the Cascadia Subduction Zone in the Pacific Northwest, even if one is insured and gets a payout, there will be a massive shortage of labor and material for a long time.

          “Plywood, your best investment.”

      2. HotFlash

        Emphatic uh-huh on this. We in Ontario are dealing with a mid-April ice/freezing rain/rain storm when Toronto, the only city I know well, has long had *privatized* snowplowing contracts which end last day of March. Hehe! Well, this time, the city could field salt trucks, still municipal, but as for plowing — forget it! Meanwhile, plows are tooling around the city in order to plow out private parking lots. I sure hope our city councilors get nicey-nice board positions after they retire.

    2. larry

      I wouldn’t hold my breath expecting the main British political parties to abandon austerity either. But I have been told that the UK Greens are ‘moving towards’ MMT. Well, I am not going to hold my breath on that one either, though it would be a positive development.

    3. blennylips

      Between the fodder crises in Cork and the imperiled Scottish lambs, I’m thinking Britain needs more of the “permanent ineligible features“, George Monbiot goes on about in his rewilding quest.

      Rewilding with George Monbiot
      Sustainable Earth Institute
      Published on Jan 20, 2016
      George Monbiot, Author and Journalist talks about rewilding at an event hosted by the Sustainable Earth Institute at Plymouth University and the Network of Wellbeing.

  3. Ignacio

    RE: German minister wants EU united front for de-escalation with Russia

    BERLIN (Reuters) – German Europe Minister Michael Roth called for the European Union to adopt a united front against Russia with the aim of reducing tensions, warning that “anti-Russian reflexes” were as dangerous as naivete about Russia’s “nationalist” course.

    What an exercise of word selection! How difficult is to de-propagandize propagandistic PR… well I am not sure if this is what I intended to write. Something like whitewashing the white… helmets.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I think the Germans are very nervous about the hornets nest that has been stirred up by all the anti-Russian hysteria. They have nothing to gain but a lot to lose if things go out of control.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Yeah, I thought that sentence an example in double-speak as well. Maybe what Roth meant by the “united front” was the Russian border where NATO soldiers and special forces are now located in a united front. I guess that tank parades about a couple dozen meters from the actual border would count as what, peaceful overtures?

    3. HotFlash

      a united front against Russia with the aim of reducing tensions

      Um, I do not get how this could possibly work.

  4. Marco

    RE fourth-circuit-appeals-court-strikes-down-marylands-drug-price-gouging-law.

    Very depressing. Could proponents have drafted a better bill? And what keeps health insurance lawyers striking down Single Payer / Medicare For All?

    1. John k

      Hadn’t thought of that.
      Single state m4a is difficult anyway. Have to tax all workers to pay for it, lots of oppo. Plus what about sick people moving in… have to limit to legal long term residents, I guess. Increase length of time for residency? Maybe like getting in state tuition…
      I assume bigger proportion of people with no coverage in flyover, odd those areas aren’t pushing it.

    2. perpetualWAR

      Ahhh….the corrupt courts strike again.
      The courts do not obey the rule of law, they violate it.

  5. David May

    Re: The Tech Giants Must Be Stopped The American Conservative. Must-read.

    Yeah sure they will be. Just like Wall St. will be. Just like the MIA will be. And big Ag and big Pharma. Get real. This is America.

      1. Summer

        In ways, the fight for single payer is resembling and playing out like the fight over slavery.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Leading up to a Civil War? Let’s hope not.

          Fortunately, the fight for single payer is much less regionalized.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Maybe it’s just a myth, but I recall reports of actual vampire bats flying down out of their daytime hangouts to land on sleeping cows, in such numbers that they drain enough of the cow’s blood to kill it. Much of Medicare is “delivered” through a very privatized, profit-driven, insurance/pharma/conglomerated neoliberal- inspired system. Not much chance of a true “national health service” like the one being strangled in the U.K. developing here.

        1. HotFlash

          Re the vampire bats, pro’ly is a myth. Here is what Bat Conservation has to say about vampire bats (you have to scroll down a bit). I totally agree with your observations about Medicare, though. My fathers 93 year old lady companion of 25 years had a heart attack and They Who Must Be Enriched decided she needed a stent. Of course the family said yes, and she died 10 days later, the bill was @ $30,000. Maybe more, bills for odds and ends still coming in.

          1. a different chris

            Ugh. And yeah, that “odds and ends” part. If you took your auto to get fixed and got 4 separate bills, each arriving haphazardly over the next 6 weeks, you would be seriously peeved.

            But it’s health “insurance” so we just accept it.

    1. Craig H.

      1. my first thought was isn’t Paul Nitze dead? So I had to google and find out to my relief that he is still dead.


      But there is a greater threat to individual liberty and autonomy than the one posed by big government. Conservatives should take note and join the fight.

      The threat comes from the growing power of leading technology companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.

      This dichotomy is pure deception. For almost all practical purposes the power hazard inside these behemoths and the power hazard inside the government is the exact same thing.


      1. HotFlash

        Hi Craig! Just so you know, the difference betw Big Corp/Data and Big Gov is that Big Gov is at least slightly accountable, that means subject to voter review and oversight. We can find out govt stuff via FOIA, for instance. Private corps, totally not! We don’t have audio here, so you can’t here me LOLing. Here in Toronto, when I am presented with whine about horrible government and taxes taking all our money, I look sweet and blank, and wonder aloud, “Well, would it be better if Rogers or Bell were runningsthings?” The speakers look into themselves, remember their treatment by the hands of private actors, and the discussion usually ends about then. I am pretty sure I have won some converts with this line — aheh.

        1. perpetualWAR

          Big Government is slightly accountable? Really?
          I just watched as Obama, State Governments, County Governments and City Governments all colluded with Big Finance to steal 18 million taxpayers’ homes.

        2. Elizabeth Burton

          The number of FOIA requests that resulted in results began declining sharply during the Obama admin and the situation has gotten worse since. Many of those making the requests are forced to undertake lawsuits to obtain what they should get without restraint.

          We’ve all fallen into the habit of thinking “government is accountable” when in fact is most definitely is not.

    2. perpetualWAR

      I was encouraged by the article mainly for one thing. The author was writing from a progressive standpoint, but it was published in a conservative publication. It encourages me that perhaps we (meaning both progressives and conservatives) can get beyond the “guns, God and abortion” conversation and understand it is the 1% and corporations that are the danger.

      1. Susan the other

        I like that nexus too. Everyone can agree on some anti-trust/monopoly action. Use the economy for the benefit of society. But the rest of the essay digressed into problems created by profit seeking and killer competition without the proverbial “strategy”. The leitmotif of our time. The reason for code and AI is to outcompete everyone else and do it proprietarily – using the law to enforce your little empires. Must ask, what is the purpose of competition? It needs a purpose. I especially enjoyed the bit about AI taking over the human mind. Like code taking over language itself. I can’t imagine AI producing leaps of creative logic, doing it’s own epigenetics. I can only see AI as a tool – one that is square, or circular ad infinitum. Like a 1950s cocktail party.

      2. Procopius

        Despite it’s name, I am not sure that The American Conservative uses that word in the same way most Americans are used to. I say this because I have been reading about one article a week from them for at least a year and they are all perfectly sane and even sensible. They do not call for tax cuts or smaller government. They do not demand that roads be privatized. They do not present evidence of racism or sexism. In short, they present what I think of as a liberal view. It’s as disconcerting as reading The Fiscal Times. You know it’s funded bye happily late Peter G. Peterson, who spent probably at least a billion dollars working to destroy Social Security. The paper itself is actually quite good, when you consider both the NYT and WaPo use their news pages to propagandize for destruction of Social Security and Medicare. Has better journalists, anyway. And seems to maintain the distinction between news and editorial content.

  6. LaRuse

    The galling part of the OK father mistakenly killing his 13 year old over the “stolen” truck, is that if any other person other than his son had been behind the wheel of the truck, the father would be loudly heralded as a “good guy with a gun” stopping a theft, not denounced as the murderer that he is.

    1. perpetualWAR

      So, apparently, shooting your son is not a crime?
      I was shocked that the article would state that the shooting was not a crime. WTF?

        1. ambrit

          In a culture that values material possessions above human lives?
          Even this cynical old man stands somewhat amazed at the disconnect displayed here. It’s as if our system were designed to hew to the standards of a half formed philosophy. This is one of the main lessons I’ve learned from my most recent forays into the Neoliberal Dispensation; No one thinks anything all the way through before acting anymore. With predictably disastrous results.

      1. Bugs Bunny

        Criminal acts usually require intent. Here the intent was aimed at another person and probably OK law excluded it. There could be a civil action for wrongful death if a relative brings it. State gun laws and “tort reform” have really gone nutso since the Koch bros started buying up politicians.

        1. Tom Bradford

          Murder requires intent. Unintentional killing is manslaughter which, unless completely accidental, is also a crime but less culpable than murder. However:-

          “In US criminal law, transferred intent is sometimes explained by stating that “the intent follows the bullet.” That is, the intent to kill person A with a bullet will apply even when the bullet kills the unintended victim, person B.” –

          Hence I can’t see how this wasn’t murder.

  7. Phillip Allen

    I found Nitze’s essay The Tech Giants Must Be Stopped interesting and worthwhile. I’m troubled, however, by his very common assumption that the material basis for the future he projects will continue indefinitely. Sooner than later critical resource restrictions will make it all impossible. We should spend as much time planning for that eventuality as we do defending against the excesses of those facilitating their and our own collapse.

  8. Eustache De Saint Pierre

    Worrying words from former Conservative MP Matthew Parrish, who has been on the ground working as a mediator in Catalonia. He lists 14 points that he believes have all been satisfied in leading to civil conflict & in my opinion, takes a more balanced view of earlier similar conflicts than I would have expected – perhaps & hopefully Ignacio & others knows better:

    1. PlutoniumKun

      That is very worrying, I’d hoped things had calmed down there. So much of the blame has to go to Madrid – they won the first round, that’s when they should have offered an olive branch. Instead they’ve gone in hard and heavy.

      1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

        I agree & I was under the impression that the situation had calmed down – I just chanced on the article on FB as posted by Chris Cook, who I believe has in the past been featured here due to his expertise on the oil market.

        I do not imagine that the possible likelihood of more problems with Spanish pensions is likely to ease tensions.

    2. Ignacio

      I just can say I wish he is proven incorrect on the social risks he signals. I like his recommendations on things to do now.

      To my shame I confess that I never read news in Spanish media about Catalonia. I´ve been fed up for long with the daily doses because of the monotony, they are always the same: there is never a chance for any kind of agreement. It is the whole political class what is failing us. It seems, and on this Parrish is completely rigth, that confrontation is the only way.

      1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

        Thank you Ignacio, although I would prefer to be grateful for something positive – Good Luck.

    3. Oregoncharles

      From the Gentium article’s list of requirements: “Thirdly, all acts of civil disobedience must cease immediately. There must be no more general strikes. There must be no more blocking of roads. There must be no acts of vandalism or damage to public or private property. Barcelona must start to feel like a normal city again. And then, once it feels normal, the international media must be courted. Tourists and investors must be encouraged to come back to Catalonia. If this does not happen, then by the summer of 2018 the economy of Catalonia will be in risk of collapse because the usual tourist crowds will be significantly diminished. Residents of Catalonia will risk sliding ever further into poverty. Poverty tastes worse than the lack of freedom.”

      He’s calling for complete surrender by the Catalans. Yes, that would prevent a civil war. Only the Catalans know whether it’s worth it. But it put my back up, all the way from here. I suspect it will do the same in Catalonia. And on a practical level, I question the suggestion. If they don’t maintain at least symbolic resistance, they will get nothing or worse. The accusations of Francoism have merit; the Madrid government means to impose its will at all costs. That’s why there was no olive branch when they won the initial confrontation.

      I still think Catalonia will ultimately split off, just as I think Scotland will, and probably N. Ireland. That notorious Irish border was a purely temporary solution. Those will probably be fairly peaceful departures; he big question is how nasty it gets in Catalonia.

      1. ambrit

        It got very nasty back in the 1930’s.
        I’m wondering if all this nation state deconstruction won’t result in a fractious Pan European State, somewhat like what happened in America a hundred and fifty years ago.

  9. OIFVet

    It’s very annoying when poodles think they are pitbulls. And to think that not too long ago the French were derided for actually having a spine.

    1. Big River Bandido

      It’s very annoying when poodles think they are pitbulls.

      This is generally a sign of poor training on the part of the owner.

      Specifically, the human has not impressed its dominance over the animal — in fact, most dog owners act in ways that dogs perceive as “weak” — hence, the dog thinks it is “alpha” over the human. This is very stressful for a dog (because humans don’t obey the rules of the basic canine social order, such as never leaving the pack). It’s particularly unhealthy if the animal is by natural inclination a “middle-” or “back-of-pack” dog. They don’t *want* to be alpha, but in the absence of a leader, even a back-of-pack dog’s natural inclination is to *lead* — to protect the pack.

      Too many dog owners anthromorphize their pets, rather than trying to understand canine psychology. This is especially true with smaller dogs, which is why the syndrome of neurotic dog behavior is so much worse among small breeds. They treat them as “cute”, fawn over them, let them jump on strangers, let them lead on the leash…and then they wonder why the dog is so badly behaved. The answer: the fault lies not with the dog, but with the owner.

        1. bob

          While this may be true generally, I have come in contact with a few very bad dogs. Not sure if it was genetic or possibly infectious disease, but they were BAD. In both cases I told the owners what I thought and was dismissed. Both went on to bite people, more than once, and were put down because of that. One of them also severely injured another dog.

          Nature makes mistakes, just as with people. It’s rare, but it does happen.

          FWIW- neither were “pit bulls”. They were both what is called a “Labrador” today. My guess was inbreeding. Dumb and mean, bad combo.

          1. jonboinAR

            I work in a job where I have to encounter people’s dogs, a lot. Where I live, the modern labrador retriever acts fairly territorially towards strange humans. Also, in agreement, I think, with the post above, I have my best luck with strange dogs behaving aggressively towards them. If I convince them I’m boss, they move off and act like I’m not there. I do try the sweet-talking method first, but it often fails, encouraging the dog it seems, to dominate me.

              1. ambrit

                That just ‘cracks’ us up.
                That ‘dog’ just puts us behind the ‘8 Ball.’
                Yet, I’ve never heard of “chasing the Welsh Dragon.’

  10. JohnnyGL

    I made the mistake of reading the Greg Weiner opinion piece in the WaPo. It reminded me of why I find articles on political philosophy so ridiculous. Weiner talks about ‘liberalism’ and ‘progressivism’ in a vacuum like there’s a bunch of Greek philosophers in place of our Congressional Reps hanging around DC pontificating about ideas and the best route to achieve positive change in society.

    It’s ridiculous. None of these straw-men that he alternately idolizes and pillories actually exist in this completely a-historical world he creates in his mind.

    On a side note, this article had some pearl-clutching, and the Bruenig editorial also had a quote from Andrew Sullivan about pearl-clutching over the rule of law. Where were these liberals when Bush II and Obama both did enormous damage to international law, civil liberties, constitutional law, and also centuries of property rights (Obama’s foreclosure crisis settlement). Obama also de-criminalized corporate looting, ripped up accounting rules and capital adequacy standards for banks as needed and there wasn’t even a complaint from ANY of the so-called liberals or conservatives.

    1. willf

      Agreed about the article.

      It’s ridiculous. None of these straw-men that he alternately idolizes and pillories actually exist in this completely a-historical world he creates in his mind.

      True. And the “progressives” he cites are examples that show the word means nothing.

      From the article:

      Even when progressives choose their targets strategically — Hillary Clinton, for example, called herself “a progressive who likes to get things done” — the implication is that progress is the fundamental goal and that its opponents are atavists.

      No it isn’t. The implication is clear that Clinton sees progressives as people who can’t get things done.

      The sentence reminded me of the origin of the turn from the label liberal to progressive.

      From about 2003 or so there were many on the left side of the Democratic Party who took the name progressive in contradistinction to the percieved weakness of DC liberals in pushing back on George W. Bush’s horrible policies.

      “Liberals” were politicians who went along with Bush, or at least tried so hush up voices of those who, you know, didn’t want to illegally invade another country under false pretenses. “Liberals’ were Alan Colmes, who was famously paid to repeatedly shut up on TV. His whole role on the Hannity/Colmes show was to be a public doormat for the conservative host. That was a liberal. People who called themselves progressive wanted something different. They wanted to move the country in the right direction, not just constantly sand off the rougher edges of capitalism.

      Then during the 2004 election, Clinton went and referred to himself as a progressive. Kinda funny, since he had also described himself as a “Eisenhower conservative…isn’t that great”. After that the term meant nothing politically, save in a historical context.

      One final note, Greg Weiner worked for Senator Bob Kerry, who sat on the infamous cat food commission and once predicted that “…by 2012, Medicare, Social Security, interest on the Federal debt and lesser automatic transfers would consume 100 percent of Federal revenues”.

    2. Big River Bandido

      This is what happens when media talks about politics, politicians, and elections — without ever mentioning policy.

      The article is as shallow as a kiddie pool. Without the comforting warmth.

  11. PlutoniumKun

    Syria air strikes: Macron says he convinced Trump not to pull out troops BBC

    Macron seems to be losing all sense of reality. I don’t follow French news, but Trump is (to put it mildly) not popular there – there must surely be many French voters wondering what on earth Macron is doing if he thinks its in Frances interest to be too close to the US in the Middle East. I suspect Macron is seeking a distraction from the protests against his neolib reforms. But its so transparent I doubt if anyones fooled. He looks more and more like a one-election wonder.

    1. Quentin

      It may well be he’s being influenced by the very-public French ‘intellectual’ Bernard-Henri Levi who has recently come out of a period of few media pronouncements to plead for the aspirations of the Syrian Kurds. That can only be connected to Israel, of which he is a fervent partisan.

      1. Ignacio

        You may be rigth. I know a couple of such kind of intelectuals and I wonder why they seem to be convinced that everybody still owes something to Israel.

    2. Frenchguy

      I agree that I struggle to see why he’s doing that. It’s certainly not a slam dunk in political terms and with the SNCF strikes on, it’s not a time to risk losing even more support. My fear is that his technocratic mind is well suited to domestic matters where you can tightly control everything but not to international matters where you only have a flimsy ideas of what’s going on, what interests are at play, where there are no good solutions… And with the confidence he has, he hasn’t realized that yet.

      A more charitable view is that he is actually doing that in order to keep Trump on his leash. After all, the intervention was almost costless militarily speaking and diplomatically (Putin won’t hold an eternal grudge over two buildings). On the other hand, it binds a bit more France and the US together and Macron stays in Trump’s good graces, which might be useful the next time he’s thinking of hiking tarrifs at random on French wine. All his life, Macron has made sure to be powerful people’s favorite young guy. Maybe he’s still doing that. It’s a long game but, for him, it always ended up very well.

      Oh, and he had two live TV interviews last week, mainly on domestic matters. He got out of them pretty well. He might be rubbing a lot of people the wrong way but he is still very impressive intellectually, miles above the journalists that were doing the interviewing. I doubt he will be very popular for the rest of his term but I think that, at this point, he would still easily win a presidential election given the weakness of the opposing field.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thanks for that – your analysis makes sense to me. People like Macron are by nature networkers, so the idea of worming his way into Trumps good graces probably seems a good idea to him, although I suspect that Trump deep down has contempt for people who do that, when he’s bothered to think about it.

        Macron is also lucky in his enemies, its sad that the only coherent opposition to him comes from the far right.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, FG and PK.

          Having been in Paris recently, including the nouveau Longchamp :-), I was planning to e-mail Yves and ask if a thread marking Macron’s first anniversary could be opened for comment. I had some observations, nothing scientific.

          Macron’s former boss, Edouard de Rothschild, was at the races. His protégé will officially open the racecourse on Sunday week.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              That seems inevitable. I’m obviously no fan of Macron, but on the issue of the Eurozone he is right, the Germans and other northern European countries are wrong. His neolib policies for France are all wrong, but his Eurozone proposals are quite sensible and overdue.

    3. Altandmain

      Macron was never very popular to begin with.

      The French like the US had a choice between their equal of Trump (the FN) and Clinton, which was Macron who won. Personally I think that as bad as the FN was, they have some redeeming qualities and were the lesser of two evils.

      Macron right now is in the process of the crapification and neoliberalization of France. It is ugly.

      That said, the real enemy is neoliberalism and the rich.

    4. The Rev Kev

      I think that people are forgetting the visit that Mohammad Bin Salman from Saudi Arabia recently paid to Macron. You wonder what offers were made for Macron to take his country into an attack against Syria. Don’t forget too that France has been involved with the Syrian war alongside the US for years, including shipping weapons to Syria even though their own laws expressly forbid it. In short, it is not really Trump that Macron is getting too close to but Saudi Arabia.

      1. vidimi

        the war in syria is mainly a war to protect EU interests with a bunch of others also standing to profit (Saudi, Israel, Qatar, Turkey). The US was there just doing their allies a solid.

        Once Turkey was bribed away from the coalition with a share in the iranian pipeline and a free go at the kurds, the alliance could no longer be sustained. the US just doesn’t have enough to gain to go all in.

  12. integer

    Ex-Pink Floyd singer denounces White Helmets as propaganda tool during Barcelona concert RT

    English singer Roger Waters, a member of Pink Floyd and now a solo performer, denounced the controversial Syrian group White Helmets during a concert, saying they “exist only to create propaganda for jihadists and terrorists.”

    Addressing the audience, Waters said someone had asked him for the stage to speak about Douma and the alleged chemical attack. The singer said that person and he had very different opinions about the situation in Syria.

    “The White Helmets is a fake organization that exists only to create propaganda for jihadists and terrorists. That’s my belief. We have opposing beliefs,” he explained, as seen in a video shot from the cheering crowd.

    1. Roger Smith

      This is a great contrast piece to the run of the mill Hollywood fools constantly tweeting etc… about Trump. Thank you for sharing.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I can’t confess to ever having been a big PF fan, but Waters seems consistently to be a cut above the normal music celeb when it comes to politics. Not just because I mostly agree with him , but that he seems to think carefully before he speaks, so when he does he is on strong ground.

    1. vidimi

      i particularly liked the subtle detail of the skillet’s handle being positioned over the open flame such that it can’t be picked up. art.

        1. Nax

          Surely all of the cooker’s burners should be on, including the one under the pan whose bottom should be glowing red?

          Then someone dressed in Saudi, israeli and US flags should be pouring cooking oil onto the oven’s surface?

          1. Clive

            Or, alternatively, all the burner valves fully open, not ignited and the “cook” waving their hand around holding a lit match.

            1. Oregoncharles

              My brother tried that when he was little – that is, turned the oven on, THEN lit the match. This was first thing in the morning, so the first we knew of it was a BOOM!, then saw him running out of the kitchen with all the hair burnt off the front half of his head.

              He was lucky.

  13. PlutoniumKun

    America’s MIA strategy Axios. Strategy, the word one suddenly hears everywhere in the chattering classes. A little late…

    Syria is a microcosm of U.S. foreign policy in general. We never had a coherent strategy beyond simplistic generalities, childishly selecting our goals based on what we wanted, not what was necessary, or even possible. The inevitable result was failure. Wobbly Assad won, powerful us lost. Rust-bucket Russia accomplished its goals, triumphant us achieved none.”

    I think this is a useful rejoinder to the more conspiracy theory minded who see gas pipelines or oil fields behind every throw of a Tomahawk missile. The evidence suggests that much, if not all US policy in the Middle East is driven by institutional inertia and opportunism as much as any grand strategy of domination. And often its driven as much by manipulation from supposed ‘allies’ as the Saudi’s.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Speaking of simplistic generalities:

      Donald J. Trump

      Russia and China are playing the Currency Devaluation game as the U.S. keeps raising interest rates. Not acceptable!

      8:31 AM – Apr 16, 2018

      It was US indiscipline that ditched the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate system in 1971. But now the US grandly asserts a residual obligation on the rest of world to peg its currencies against the US dollar, despite the shambolic state of US finances.

      US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and his elite peers understand that a recession is likely by the early 2020s. When it occurs, the trillion-dollar deficits already baked in the cake will explode to around $2.5 billion annually, based on the previous outing in 2008.

      As total federal debt-to-GDP metastasizes toward 120% of GDP, debt service will escalate painfully and exponentially. Something must be done.

      Goading Russia, China and Iran into a shooting war serves two US national objectives: (1) divert attention from Trump’s disastrous economic management by focusing popular rage on alleged external enemies; (2) shed crushing federal debt via wartime inflation.

      From the Treasury’s perspective, the beauty of inflating away its debt is that 60% of Treasuries are held by foreigners, who have no vote on US policy. At 8 percent annual inflation, the real principal value of outstanding debt would be halved in nine years.

      Inciting war for economic reasons is, of course, monstrous. But the US empire has reached its end game. With its survival at stake, the Military Intelligence Complex views the potential blood sacrifice of millions as a small price to pay. This is the essence of contemporary American values.

      1. bwilli123

        For a Chinese perspective on the Dollar.

        Qiao Liang, a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Major-General, gave a speech at a book study forum of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) Central Committee and government office. Qiao is the PLA strategist who co-authored the book, “Unrestricted War.”

        PLA Strategist: The U.S. Uses Its Dollar to Dominate the World

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That 120% total-federal debt-to-GDP ratio and painful debt service – that’s related to a couple of factors, no?

        1. interest rates. At zero percent, is it still 120% ratio that the number to watch?

        2. Can’t they just create more money for debt servicing, even at non-zero rates?

        1. HotFlash

          As far as I can figure it out, THEY can keep creating money forever, no limit. Works for money sovs and of course, their overlords. The interest, OTOH, cannot be created by fiat/keystrokes. So, we who pay interest are family blogged. We have to find $$ somewhere else, or something. I guess. OK, if you have five minutes, this the sound of a giant vaccuum sucking. Good watching, if you have 5 min and a stout constitution.

      3. MichaelSF

        From the Treasury’s perspective, the beauty of inflating away its debt is that 60% of Treasuries are held by foreigners, who have no vote on US policy.

        Isn’t that debt held by powerful people/institutions who seem to be exactly the kind of people/institutions that DO have a vote on US policy?

    2. Sid Finster

      To beat the point to death: pipelines are big, immobile, vulnerable and incredibly expensive infrastructure.

      There is a reason that nobody parks such infrastructure in a failed state. A failed state means that randoms and malcontents can blow up sections of your big, mobile, vulnerable and incredibly expensive pipeline every time they want some attention, and there isn’t much that failed state or its western sponsors can do about it.

      Especially when it is so much cheaper, easier and more effective to promote the existing state, and pay that state generous transit fees.

      1. Oregoncharles

        You mean Nebraska? Kansas? Or BC, for that matter. The natives there threatened to do just that – keep blowing it up, if they build it.

        The company just backed off.

    3. Brooklin Bridge

      US policy in the Middle East is driven by institutional inertia and opportunism [snip +] manipulation from supposed ‘allies’ as the Saudi’s.

      All true, but at least from the pov of the WH, particularly manipulation and manipulation particularly by Israel and the Saudis. Trump, Netanyahu’s poodle, who himself has GB and France (or at least Macron) as poodles also has SA to take care of all problems money. But they all have issues with Iran and want as weak a Syria as possible to temper relations between the two.

      Our military arms manufacturers love, love, love SA AND Israel and Trump is doing his impatient level best to learn an iron Washington rule: even US Presidents do not fool with mother nature US arms manufacturers nor with the MIC. So even if there isn’t a clear road map that deals with the morass of geopolitical aspects of the Syrian disaster, those mentioned are already enough to keep Trump constantly being yanked to conformity when ever he gets to the end of his YoYo string.

      Without those constraints, there are repeated hints that Trump might actually have some common sense (though this may be little more than rephrasing your comment in other terms).

  14. The Rev Kev

    “How Highways Squeezed Taxable Land Out of Cities”

    Not sure here but aren’t there cities in the US which are rejuvenating their city centers by ripping out the old highways rather than rebuilding them? I saw a good bit of planning in Europe where you had cities which would be surrounded by a highway in a very large circle. Thus, if you were going north to south or east to west, you did not have to go through the city center but stayed on the highway like a giant roundabout. If you did want to go into the city, you just took the off-ramp to the section of the city that you wanted to go to. Seemed like a good system.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      The “rejuvenation” happened in Boston. The Big dig to put the elevated I 93 below ground was originally estimated to cost $1.5-2 Billion..$15 Billion later it’s finished. Then everything was gentrified. The North end , which was traditionally an Italian enclave, is now pretty much just Italian restaurant with yuppies renting all over the place. Four points, which was a warehouse district with cheaper lofts became yuppie central. They are now planning how to do the same to the seaport district. Oh Southie has lost a lot of the Irish immigrants because of that and a change in immigration patterns after 9-11.

      So yes, it rejuvenated a lot of real estate.

      1. Big River Bandido

        I think the overall effects of The Big Dig have been greatly exaggerated. Sure, they put part of one freeway underground…but there are still elevated eyesores highways all over the area west of South Station. Boston isn’t much more pedestrian-friendly today than it was 25 years ago.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          True, but the gentrification (and displacement) Kurtismayfield mentions sure came fast and heavy upon completion of the not so big Big Dig.

          1. Big River Bandido

            This is absolutely true. Affordable rent in Boston was hard to find in the 1990s. Nowadays, it doesn’t exist.

    2. Darius

      It’s happened in some US cities, but not enough. As Strong Towns and Joe Minicozzi have pointed out, even the most neglected downtown real estate produces more property tax revenue per acre than the busiest big box or suburban commercial strip, with less infrastructure cost. So cities like Bridgeport are doubly hit.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      Its quite common now worldwide. Birmingham in England has spent a fortune in demolishing much of its inner ringroad system – its taken years and a small fortune to even partly undo the damage done by its highway engineers. In Seoul there is a very impressive new urban park where there was once a highway built over a river.

      The issue in the US I think is quite particular to the US taxation system. Building ring roads once seemed a good idea, but they inevitably draw development around them, and if they are built outside the municipality, this means a flight of taxable development out to what were once rural areas. This means that central government investment has the effect of undermining the tax bases of established urban cores, while enriching rural landowners and encouraging suburban and exurban development. This accelerates the existing pattern of car ownership pushing people further and further away from traditional urban areas. You can see this all over the world, but the specific impact on municipal taxes is particularly bad in the US.

      The French (partly by accident) avoided much of this by making their equivalent national road system tolled, this has mitigated the shift outside existing urban cores.

    4. Hubert Horan

      The article about land use in Bridgeport implies, but does not specifically mention, three factors much more important than the land occupied by expressways (a) central business districts were rebuilt with much wider streets and (b) massive amounts of CBD land was reallocated to parking–both onstreet and offstreet. Suburban commuters in the 1950s weren’t just demanding a “free” high speed highway into town, but also “free” provision of much faster access from the off-ramp to their place of work than the 1940s street grid could offer. Also c) as highways pushed through working class neighborhoods on their way to downtown, it devastated livability and land values (since the Bridgeport study focused on downtown impacts, not much of this would have been captured in the data shown). The classic analysis of this was in Caro’s 1974 Robert Moses biography, which documents how the Cross Bronx Expressway permanently devastated huge swaths of residential neighborhoods, and turned the South Bronx into a extreme underclass ghetto.

      The European concept of using ring roads to prevent highways from paving over existing urban neighborhoods and downtowns was based on 19th Century railroad development in places like Paris and Berlin, where lines from the provinces terminated at stations at the edge of downtown, but the outer circular line allowed freight connections between each of the provincial lines. This wasn’t foresighted planning, but a pragmatic approach by undercapitalized private RR companies given the huge cost of building lines into densely developed areas.

      This thinking was actually common in US highway circles in the 40s and 50s for similar pragmatic reasons. State Highway departments couldn’t possibly afford (financially or politically) to bulldoze through existing neighborhoods. Most of Moses’ original roads were intra-suburban “parkways.” When the Feds got involved under the claimed need for “national defense highways” there was no need to go into or through center city, and you could build interstate highways between the urban beltways quickly and cheaply.

      But this radically changed when the Interstate program was set up to provide states with virtually unlimited funding for whatever road projects they wanted. Priorities quickly shifted to building much more expensive roads serving local suburban commuters. The political coalition here were the upper-middle class elites who wanted those deluxe “free” highways, the suburban real estate development industry, and the auto/highway construction industries. Sales of suburban land, new cars and concrete were much higher with commuting highways than with true “interstate” highways. Projects that could have been stopped by local citizens at the state level were rubber stamped in Washington. The devastation of urban neighborhoods and the urban employment/tax base was the inevitable result. Lots of other changes fed off this dynamic (housing policies, expanded eminent domain rules, etc) but this is where it starts.

      1. HotFlash

        Thank you, Mr. Horan. I saw this unfold in my little Michigan town but was only 9 or 10 when it all went down and it, you know, just happened. But it didn’t ‘just happen’, and I know the names of those who profited, and many of those who lost. Thank you again for helping me and the rest of us to understand just how power operates. Forewarned is forearmed.

    5. Big River Bandido

      Streetsblog has some decent articles over the last few years on this topic:

      Here’s one on a freeway closure in Akron, OH. And one being considered in Kansas City, which also gives some background on similar events elsewhere.

  15. Jim Haygood

    Showdown time:

    On Sunday, the president’s attorneys filed court papers seeking to temporarily bar Justice Department prosecutors from reviewing evidence taken during the April 9 raid on Cohen’s home, office, hotel room, safety-deposit box and phones.

    Some material may involve communications between Trump and Cohen, and should be reviewed first by Trump, not federal prosecutors in New York who are investigating Cohen, the president’s lawyers argued. Prosecutors want a separate group of government lawyers to review the material first and determine what’s covered by the attorney-client privilege — a process Trump’s lawyers say is unfair.

    “In the highly politicized, even fevered atmosphere that envelops this matter, it is simply unreasonable to expect that a team of prosecutors, even if not directly involved in the separate investigation of Mr. Cohen, could perform a privilege review in the manner necessary to safeguard the important interests of the President,” Trump’s attorney, Joanna Hendon, wrote in an eight-page letter to the judge.

    Trump’s motion is unlikely to succeed. But it shows the existential stakes for his presidency if this prosecutorial roadmap falls into the unclean hands of the DOJ. They can and will use it to destroy him.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Why unlikely?

      Any information on similar cases before?

      My first guess is that law offices are not raided very often. And the law ought to protect the presumed innocence and privacy of the many clients of any particular lawyer.

    2. Hubert Horan

      The client-attorney privilege claims depends on factual evidence that Trump had hired (and was paying) Cohen to provide legal representation, and the specific scope of that representation. Cohen has lots of other “business” activities that would not be covered by privilege. Payment to a lawyer does not automatically confer open-ended protection for anything and everything you might discuss with him.
      Mueller’s filings to date have explicitly referenced these issues, including unredacted comments about how little legitimate “legal” work Cohen had done, and the lack of documentation of the matters where clients wanted legal representation.
      Needless to say, Trump has made public statements denying any knowledge that payments to Stormy Daniels had been made, suggesting it would be difficult to claim that Trump had specifically hired Cohen to provide legal representation in this case that would be subject to privilege.

  16. JohnnyGL

    I’m seeing, and have seen, a lot of hand-wringing, peal-clutching about the prospect of Trump firing Mueller or maybe Rosenstein.

    Out of curiousity, do NC-ers have opinions either way on these guys?

    I was tepidly supportive of Mueller because I figured he might dig up some corruption, but once he did the big roll out of charges against all the employees of that Russian troll farm, I found myself swinging against him and his investigation. At that point, I realized it’s political theater and little more. The charges levied (identity theft, petty fraud, etc) were basically bog-standard FBI work and nothing more. No need for special counsel to do standard work.

    The fact that the Beltway press core is so united in support of Mueller and all right-thinking pundits have screamed that firing Mueller is grounds for impeachment makes me kinda want the thing shut down. Deep down in my gut, I suspect they are all pining for President Mike Pence. I think I heard David Frum admit it, at one point.

    Anyway, curious to hear commentators thoughts on this.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Political theater in the sense that they, Mueller, Rosenstein, etc., have probably known for some time that they are NOT going to get any bomb-shells (it would have already leaked) that would implicate Trump in an illegal conspiracy with the Russians to diddle the election.

        Rosenstein broadened the investigation and so Mueller has considerable leeway and is indeed taking it in a manner reminiscent of the Starr and Clinton embrace, but he is doing it to the letter of the law (at least convincingly argued by such as Jonathan Turley).

    1. Off The Street

      If you want docs and links about the nitty-gritty behind the scenes, beyond what gets reported in conventional news outlets, try the following. The author provides a wealth of commentary and observation backed by what used to be standard reporting. While not conventional, it does open up some new avenues of inquiry and presentation for the curious reader.

      1. Stephen V.

        Yes OTS, I like these guys also. Katniss linked to them yesterday. Quite legalistic but in the current tsunami of b.s., a relief.

    2. Alex morfesis

      Poor Mueller… The man has to eat people…(that didn’t exactly piece together in a human manner)…give the poor trust fund baby a break…no one in corporate America has ever been willing to let him bill them and he has aged out for direct govt work…if not this then what ?? He will do as great a job here as he has anywhere in his life as a choo choo train trust fund baby in a world with less trains…

      This evil notion of the Trump brand licensing it’s name and good will to some third world nogoodnix…why… That almost sounds like he is in the international clothing or movie/media business…

      Mueller will milk it just as Starr did into a whole lot of lucre…

      Media personalities and their publicists are meeting this sfternoon trying to come up with ways for Trump to say bad things about them to increase their hype ratios…

      Life under President Biff…

    3. Synoia

      Out of curiousity, do NC-ers have opinions either way on these guys?

      Here’s the french answer: Oui, Certainment!

      Now you know. And are no better informed than before. C’est la Vie.

    4. Brooklin Bridge

      Trump is indeed a thug and deserves to be taken down – only it would be nice if it could be done by a non corrupt judicial system that wasn’t politically motivated, but it can’t cause we don’t have one cause if we did Hillary, the DNC and the FBI and a good part of the MIC, not to mention both conservatives and liberals, and hell, throw in the CIA, the NSA, both houses of congress and the Supreme Court while your at it, would go down with him. Mueller rises little above this toxic brew, even his legal authority for the investigation may be questionable, but he knows how to do it following protocol or looking like it at least.

      You might skim through Jonathan Turley’s blog (use it’s search box) for the last few weeks (or months) for a legal slant from a moderately conservative (Chicago School) libertarian pov. Turley has covered a lot of the twists and turns in the investigation over the last year. He seems to be Trump sympathetic but is disciplined enough to give pretty good legal opinions, many quite interesting. His take on firing Muller is conventional;it would probably be the end of Trump’s presidency (fair or no). Read comments on his blog with a strong stomach only.

    5. Wyoming

      If I were offering advise here – which I guess I am – then I would fight these urges you expressed above to change your view based upon gut reactions. Gut reactions are almost never right. Deciding it is political theater or basing your views on your negative reactions to the press corp are what I am referring to.

      The way Mueller has been proceeding is not political theater but rather exactly the way such an investigation is supposed to proceed. His team has gathered evidence meticulously and then matched provable behavior with violations of the law. Those who are first to get caught via these means are always the low level participants. So you indict them and then put the squeeze on them to give up more details and information. Then you see what else you can prove. Then you indict the next set of people. Rinse and repeat until there is no where else to go. Everyone who can be indicted is indicted. This is why all those employees of the troll farm are indicted. It is not that we can get our hands on them but it at least will impact the rest of their lives in terms of travel and business opportunities. And maybe one of them will flip and provide info. Additionally the minor charges against them is not a reason to think that there is no need for a special prosecutor because it is standard work. It is ALL standard work. The point of the special prosecutor is to make sure that powerful people do not use their power to stop the investigation and cover crimes. Thus if Trump actually does fire Mueller then he absolutely SHOULD be impeached as he will have committed a high crime and misdemeanor at that point. If he is innocent then he should stop acting guilty and let the process run its course and he will be fine.

      You cannot fix the press by shutting down the investigation. Their obnoxiousness is institutional and the investigation has no effect either way on their behavior. IF we really want to fix the press then we have to, as a society, demand that we have real reporting and pay attention to it. The mainline news across the board is just ‘entertainment’ of a kind for the various ideologues and/or business interests which own the networks, or sometimes just straight propaganda for the administration (here’s looking at you Fox). There is no one period in the news business today who could have gotten a copy editor job 40 years ago. If we want excellence in reporting the onus is on us to make it happen.

      Just my humble opinion on your post.

      1. Oregoncharles

        You don’t think there are political prosecutions? The FBI never, ever frames people, or searches out misdemeanors to throw the book at?

        The law is written such that ANYONE can be guilty and even convicted of SOMETHING if looked at closely enough. That’s why “fishing expeditions” are bad. It’s selective prosecution.

        That said, so far Mueller has done more to exonerate Trump than to prosecute him, because all his indictments have been for typical peculation that doesn’t affect Trump. Which is a wonder – I would assume the guy is utterly crooked.

        1. marku52

          So far all Mueller has got is stuff that you could pick a name at random out of the DC phone book and successfully prosecute. Tax evasion? Foreign lobbying? That’s virtually everyone there.

          He’s had lots of time. He’s just fishing.

        2. Wyoming

          We think it is bad to assume someone is guilty and want a deliberative process based upon evidence to prove guilt. At the same time we want honesty in our law enforcement authorities. To assume that law enforcement is corrupt always based upon some of them being so in the past is no different than assuming the guilt mentioned above.

          The FBI has on rare occasions had issues but on the whole they are the best we have and among the best there has ever been.

          This is NOT a fishing expedition nor is it a witch hunt. There are good and obvious reasons for the Mueller investigation (which is actually a DOJ investigation not an FBI one) and there was absolutely cause for the FBI to be investigating Clinton and Trump. A strong indicator of a lack of FBI bias is that both the Clinton and Trump camps hate Comey.

          So I reject the insinuation that the law enforcement personnel in these matters have shown corruption. If anything they have demonstrated an attempt to keep our disintegrating society from falling on its sword.

          Both sets of politicians do however appear to be corrupt (or at least incompetent).

          And no I don’t think Mueller has done more to exonerate Trump at all. People keep making judgements about the end result when we are a long way from the end of the process. That is a big mistake. If you follow the trend line of the lifespan of this investigation it all points to much larger problems for Trump than we have seen yet. There ‘may’ turn out to not be much more to come, but that is not what is indicated by what we have seen so far and the likely fallout from the bits which have been revealed recently. We now have 2 separate legal issues for Trump and company. The Mueller investigation which is coming close to being in the end game. There will ‘probably’ be a few more indictments from Mueller and then a report on Trump which Mueller sends to Congress for them to decide what to do about Trump. In that report it is very likely to detail multiple attempts to obstruct justice. These are impeachable offenses and Congress will have to decide if they agree that he committed them. It is pretty obvious he did but that does not mean he will be impeached of course. Collusion with the Russians by Trump himself would shock me. His underlings I expect were either very close to doing it or crossed the line and did it. We will or may see .. or not.. who knows.

          The separate Cohen investigation is really dangerous to Trump as it could easily expose that crookedness in Trump which is pretty clearly there. And since Cohen was not working for Trump as a ‘lawyer’ most of the time none of that work will be protected in any way. And if they find illegal activities (which I would expect) then if those were also part of his legal work then the attorney client privilege is lost as it does not cover conspiracy to commit crimes. There is a good reason that Trump has been audited many times and that is he has presented a clear pattern to the IRS that he is avoiding taxes and laundering money. This investigation (and Muellers) might find how this was done (if he did it of course) and then it is ‘Katie bar the door.’ for Trump, Jr and Ivanka. Then there is Kushner as a separate issue as he has shown patterns of the money laundering tactics also and he might go down for that. So lots more potential for chaos and mayhem.

          I don’t have a dog in this fight as I hold both Clinton and Trump in contempt and never even considered voting for either of them. They are examples of how big a hole this country has dug for itself. The collective ‘we’ of America had better start putting our country first and not either of those two. Country comes before party or ideology and if we keep forgetting that we are going to screw the pooch.

        3. ewmayer

          Indeed – where was the “by the book” FBI when SoS HRC was engaging in massive, pervasive violations of multiple statutes related to handling of classified material? Moreover she was clearly knowingly doing so, because every person who gains a security clearance is intensively briefed on such matters, without exception.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Bence Nanay

    US foreign policy

    7:08 AM – Apr 14, 2018
    2,924 people are talking about this
    Twitter Ads info and privacy
    You can make an omelette if you do more than break eggs. Although not necessarily. Where’s the spatula? And I smell burning plastic. Why is that pan’s handle right over an open flame? How many things are wrong with this picture?

    The pieces in the photo were first arranged intentionally, by the photographer. Then the picture was taken.

    Similarly, the foreign policy chaos you see, or we all see, is there perhaps also intentionally.

    So that, all the questions we are asking are not really questions to the designer, who knows the purpose of each and everything detail. That’s my guess.

  18. David Carl Grimes

    Forgive me for asking this, what’s the difference between a Neoliberal and a Neoconservative? I honestly don’t know the difference. It seems that one side just leans slightly left and the other slightly right, particularly on social issues and fiscal responsibility. Or am I wrong?

    1. integer

      Neoliberals believe in deregulation, free markets, corporations, and globalism. Neoconservatives believe in the so-called “liberal international order”, which is a euphemism for “uni-polar world hierarchy”, and embrace, if not relish in, the use of the US military to maintain it.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      In the most common usage neolibs are economics led – in favour of open markets, privatisation, international trade deals, etc. Neocons is specifically applied to supporters of the US Imperial project – its a foreign policy centred ideology based on enforcing ‘democracy’ by force.

      They are often, but not always, the same thing.

      1. Sid Finster

        I see neoliberals as neocons dressed up with some human rights talk whenever convenient to their interests.

    3. Big River Bandido

      They are quite different, but neither “leans” — both are hard-right ideologies.

      Most mainstream American politicians today — from both of the one major parties (that’s not a typo) — qualify as both neoconservative and neoliberal. Classic cases in the Democrat party are its misleadership class: Bill and Hillary Clinton, Rahm Emanuel, Dianne Feinstein, Charles Schumer, etc.

      1. Grebo

        Both are hard-right (to this lefty) but Neoliberalism has had great success in seducing Social Democratic and even Socialist parties with its economic narrative.

        It should also be noted that no-one claims to be a Neoliberal, some of them even claim there is no such thing. It is a name some of them used in the early days but dropped, it was reapplied by leftist observers in the late 1980s.

        1. Grebo

          Oh yes, there was a brief movement in the early 1980s led by journalist Charles Peters. They did call themselves Neoliberals but they were a reaction against what we call Neoliberals. This still confuses people because a search for “Neoliberal” often turns up this link.

    4. Oregoncharles

      Domestic and economic policy (neoliberal) vs. imperial and specifically pro-Israel foreign policy.

      In practice, the same people and a lot of the same policies, so your confusion is understandable.

      PK already said it, but I win on brevity.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “The Real Next War in Syria: Iran vs. Israel ”

    I must confess that I have hardly read any of the writings of Thomas L. Friedman and going by this article, I do not think that I have missed much. I could take him to task on the whole article but thought that I might just point out a few things that may have escaped his attention. So he starts off by saying that he is on the Syria-Israel border in the Golan Heights. Uhh, maybe someone should have pointed out that he was actually in Syria. Israel stole the land decades ago but no country is recognizing the Israeli claim to the land.
    He seems to be going along with the panic attack about that Iranian drone over Israel. There is of course no mention of the hundreds, if not thousands of times that Israeli jets have flown over neighbouring countries to bomb it or setting off sonic booms to wake and scare people in the middle of the night. Maybe the Israelis are panicked at the thought of hundreds of Iranian drones equipped with explosives flying under the radar into Israel if Israel attacks the Iranians.
    I thought that he took the cake though with the following two sentences: “but Israel has no designs on Syria” & “And it has not intervened in the civil war there”. Either Thomas is misinformed, delusional or is merely lying when he wrote that. Israel has done nothing but support the Jihadists in Syria. Its field hospitals have treated up to 3,000 Jihadists, retrieved by Israeli soldiers from inside Syria; Syrian Army units have captured stocks of weapons that bear Hebrew writing in all corners of Syria; Whenever Jihadists are attacked by the Syrian Army near the Israeli border, they lob a mortar shell or two into some waste land on the Israeli side of the border which calls up artillery or air attacks against the Syrian Amy; Israeli soldiers have been photographed chatting with Jihadist soldiers along the border; there was the time that the Jihadist attacked an Israeli patrol but immediately stopped and apologized profusely for their mistake but I think that you get the idea of what I am getting at.
    As for Israeli designs on Syria, I think that they want Syria broken up into mutually hostile states with the Syrian Kurds letting them set up a military presence in their state so that they can steal Syrian oil? Sound unlikely? Remember all those lines of horizon-to-horizon oil trucks that were going from ISIS strongholds to Turkey? The same one that the Coalition could never just see until the Russians turned them to toast? Do people remember which country the oil was going to after it arrived in Turkey. I think that you can guess. So, no, I will not take Thomas Friedman seriously anymore.
    The brutal fact is that Israel backed the Jihadists and now they are losing which is sending Israel into a panic hence all the media hype.

    1. marku52

      Exactly. Israel is up to their eyeballs in Syria, with destroying the state as the final goal. If they can reduce the entire ME except them to a pile of smoking rubble, it’s all good from their POV.

  20. pdehaan

    Re: ‘The Meaning of Lula’s Imprisonment’, I just watched an important interview (in Portuguese) with the Jurist Pedro Serrano (professor of constitutional law at the PUC university in São Paulo), who provides a larger context to what’s happening.

    Just as democracy evolved (suffrage of women and blacks, etc.) authoritarianism evolved as well. It presents itself through ‘medidas de exceção’ (‘exceptional measures’) within the democratic framework, where it’s difficult to identify the author or what the measure is, is more surgical and affects precisely who it is intended to affect. It’s called different things by different jurists (loss of common ground, low-intensity democracy, etc.). In the first world they serve mostly to strengthen executive powers (patriot act in the US, for example). The alleged enemy is the foreigner / the terrorist.

    Different from the ‘first world’ where the agent and beneficiary of ‘exceptional measures’ is the executive branch, in Latin America the ‘agent’ of exceptional measures is the judicial branch and the alleged enemy is ‘corruption’. The phenomenon is void of norms and contains a high level of unpredictability. He provides an analogy with concentration camps in the sense that you didn’t know if the next day you would live or die. Criteria of guilt or innocence are diluted, as well as loyalty to the constitution. It opens the road to arbitrariness, designed to surgically affect some and protect others.

    And this is what we are seeing in Brazil, where a figure such as Lula can be condemned and imprisoned on an extremely weak case, lacking any evidence. And at the same time important politicians from political parties aligned to the country’s elite (such as the PSDB party) can be protected from prosecution.

  21. allan

    Amazon warehouse workers pee into bottles to avoid wasting time: undercover investigator [NY Post]

    And from the archives:

    Obama chooses Amazon as backdrop for jobs speech [DigitalCommerce360]

    President Barack Obama has been criss-crossing the country speaking about his proposals to boost economic growth and hiring. And where better to speak than at job-creating machine Inc. Amazon has increased its work force 40% in the past year, and, in advance of Obama’s speech tomorrow, announced today plans to hire 7,000 more workers.

    Obama will speak tomorrow about his jobs proposals at an Amazon fulfillment center in Chattanooga, TN. “Tuesday’s speech will focus on manufacturing and high-wage jobs for durable economic growth,” the White House says. “The president will discuss proposals he has laid out to jump-start private sector job growth and make America more competitive, and will also talk about new ideas to create American jobs.” …

    Well, at least creating jobs for American urologists and nephrologists.

  22. Synoia

    America’s MIA strategy

    MOST – as used by Militaries


    Note: The Civilian Leadership is responsible for Mission and Objectives, The What. Strategy is the How.

    The problem is not a Strategy, is is the question what is the “Strategy” trying to accomplish?

    My personal view is the mission is so revolting that putting it into words makes it hideous and offensive, it would lead to election defeat or violent resistance from the populace at large.

  23. Jason Boxman

    I’m fortunate in that my credit union, Alliant, pays reasonable rates on savings. I moved all my money there during the move your money campaign a decade ago or so. (I wish that campaign was run yearly.) I also recently found out about CIT Bank, which offers a no withdraw penalty 11 month CD with a competitive rate. I don’t have a brokerage account, so I can’t do what Wolf Street writes about. Later this month I’m going to buy up some I series treasuries for the first time since 2006.

    Maybe a decade of saver punishment is at an end. One can only hope.

  24. Expat2uruguay

    Over the weekend I made a comment regarding the effects of a nuclear war on the southern hemisphere. In my experience, it is really hard to find information about the southern hemisphere. So I’m looking for any help I might find.

    I found this article from January of 2009 that talks about the effects of different scenarios of nuclear war on the globe, including the southern hemisphere. I welcome any help I might get in researching this, but it does look like there is an equatorial boundary on the mixing of atmospheric nuclear winter effects. That is to say that effects on inhabitants of the southern hemisphere of a nuclear war in the Northern Hemisphere would be very limited. Please please, I invite all informed comments

    1. blennylips

      Helen Caldicott ( is the go to source for me on these kinds of questions.

      Nuclear War, Nuclear Winter, and Human Extinction
      Once in the stratosphere, the smoke (﴾predicted to be produced by a range of strategic nuclear wars)﴿ would rapidly engulf the Earth and form a dense stratospheric smoke layer. The smoke from a war fought with strategic nuclear weapons would quickly prevent up to 70% of sunlight from reaching the surface of the Northern Hemisphere and 35% of sunlight from reaching the surface of the Southern Hemisphere.

      So, the real question is how long does it take to equilibrate? A few years at best, I’d guess.

      She has skin in the game (native Aussie, Boston resident since 1966) and has stated about Fukushima:

      Caldicott: If Spent Fuel Pool No. 4 collapses I am evacuating my family from Boston
      Short Clip (Later in the talk Caldicott says it will be to Australia, as the Southern Hemisphere receives much less contamination):

      So maybe depends on how the coup de grâce is administered.

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            Thanks for the link (all right to share with a few people?). I did watch it in full, Yikes! (a million deaths from Chernobyl -incredible cover up- in 25 yrs and Fukushima will be worse)

    2. Oregoncharles

      Essentially supporting blennylips’ more detailed discussion:

      My understanding, from decades ago, is that mixing of the Southern and Northern Hemisphere circulatory systems does happen but is limited and slow. So you wouldn’t escape altogether, but the impact would be less severe. Delay does help, because a lot of the worst nucleotides have short half-lives and, of course, a lot settles out, given time.

      You’re on site; the big problem for someone like Caldicott would be GETTING to the S. hemisphere under conditions of such extreme disruption. She’d have to do it before the war actually happened. We might want to watch for that happening.

      1. Conrad

        Given that Peter Thiel has New Zealand citizenship and Palantir is deeply linked to intelligence agencies I’d say him moving ‘home’ to New Zealand would be a good indicator that bad things were imminent.

  25. Wukchumni

    You know, i’m ok with an unauthorized $43k ‘cone of silence’ over @ the EPA, but only if it looks like the one on Get Smart, or a TARDIS.

  26. Oregoncharles

    A correction, following up on a discussion of the African Rift a few days ago: I wrote at the time that the Basin and Range country in the SW US was another example. I may have been wrong about that. There’s an article in the current Discover about the Rift; one of the geologists, Ellen Knappe, is quoted as saying that “There’s no other place on Earth where you can watch a continent get subdivided into two.” I think she’d know if N. America were being subdivided, too. So either it stalled, which happens, or the Basin and Range is a different phenomenon.

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      I took Geology 101, 102, & 103 back in the late 80’s, and although I can’t recall the chapter and verse of the tectonic ‘why’, I believe it had to do with subsidence….a big chunk of the real estate thereabouts was settling in, cracking up, and weathering down – much like a baked cake that ‘popped’ and then settled out into a mess.

      To be honest I don’t think there was too awfully much attention paid to ‘why?’, and instead the emphasis was on the fact there was all sorts of good minerals there, gold silver copper – but not much oil. Since the Prof was pretty blatant about the fact that 90% of the peeps enrolled in a degree program for geology would end up working for the oil and gas industry…most everyone was just waiting for the next series of sophomore courses wherein they could start learning how to find and facilitate extraction of all that bubbly black crude and get rich! ch-ching!!!!

      1. Oregoncharles

        Yes, wonderful work. Got me interested in Geology. That was the beginning of plate tectonics, though; I assume a lot has been discovered since then.

  27. Susan the other

    Thank you for the link about the virosphere. Viruses control the direction of evolution. That resolves Darwin with acquired characteristics. And the speculation that our brains, consciousness and creativity are all adaptations to viral DNA. Love it. The talk about BRAF (a protein signal switch) being avoided by cancer is interesting as well – genes that redirect metabolism. And almost crazy talk, but fascinating, about turning off the switch that turns off the switch. Sooo interesting. The lowly virus.

  28. JBird

    A Chicago cop is accused of framing 51 people for murder. Now, the fight for justice.

    Good grief. I’m reading the Buzzfeed series now and I still have to ask how the f@@@ does one(!) police detective frame at least fifty-one people?

    Rant starts here.

    I keep reading from some about the Racist White Working Class, the Blacks, Social Justice Warriors, the John Birch Society, or the Communists, maybe the Illuminati, or perhaps the Space Elves are the true menace to society. The more informed blame such as the Democratic or Republican Party, or Goldman Sachs as the font of all evil. Wiser ones bring up Climate Change or some other realistic apocalypse.

    All of that brings out protests, front page stories, political campaigns, and much sound, fury, and heat, which is good, although not much change, which is not, but somehow the continued corruption and incompetence of the “Justice” system not even as much useless heat. The New York Times could stay in business for years just covering such daily, but that’s not as profitable as All Russia All the Time. Oh, there is some, but like the masses of homeless here in California, not nearly as much as it should, and that has been the case for ever. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of lives blighted, if not effectively obliterated in the past few decades. It says something when I might have more to fear from many police departments even some in the San Francisco Bay Area although outright murder and framing people is mostly not a problem, than I do from any possible terrorists, or criminals, here in the United States. Unless I have money, real money, as well as being white, than you are just fine. Probably.

    And before anyone claims this is a race thing, which some of it certainly is, most of it is a class suppression thing. Really. Read on the Dakota Access Pipeline, Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, perhaps Waco and Ruby Ridge, the Free Speech Movement, the Black Panthers, the destruction of the several American Communist and Socialist Parties, Union organizing, the Red Scare(s), the Palmer Raids, the Wobblies, the combined black and white socialists organizations, and Reconstruction especially in the South; they were all hampered and usually destroyed using police forces, private “detective agencies” or goon squads, and “conservative” usually racist organizations often using violence, framing, blackmail, and if all failed, outright, often planned, murder because of the threats to the power of the then national regime as well as power struggles within the regime.

    With almost the entire political establishment including both parties now, by historical standards, economically conservative and threaten with the loss of power, well, see the list above. Even if a person, or organization, is not a threat, scapegoats are sometimes needed for promotions and filling quotas if nothing else; nonpolitical groups might get targeted and in that case even the local hiking, bowling or hunting club, or church might have problems.

    Now maybe I should go polish my tin-foiled hat, and perhaps stock up on some freeze dried food, but I think we should be concerned.

    1. vidimi

      the miscarriage of justice is just staggering, and the whole system is complicit. when you think that 51 people were falsely convicted for murders they did not commit, that makes 51 murders (for simplicity, let’s assume each person was convicted of a different murder) that went unsolved and 51 murder victim families that did not get justice. moreover, given the sheer lawlessness involved, it might be fair to assume that many if not all of those 51 victims were murdered by chicago’s finest.

      not only does the police in this and many other cases not bring justice to the communities they prey on, they are some of the greatest causes of strife and injustice on these communities.

  29. The Rev Kev

    Re Gilbert and Sullivan’s Major-General’s Song

    If some find the words of this famous song confusing it comes down to this. Up to the late Victorian era, British Army officers prided themselves on the fact that they were amateurs. At the mess tables, it was forbidden to talk about professional matters, positions were done by purchase and it was not unknown for an officer to resign because he had to wear his uniform in public too many times in a year.
    After the debacle in the Crimean war a series of reforms came into effect including officer education such as through the Staff College at Camberly where courses were taught that included subject like trigonometry as mentioned in the song. I saw a cartoon at the time where an officer asking the cadet what subjects he had to learn and finding out all the technical subjects mentioned in the song, turned around and ran back to his Regiment. It was a different era and an officer who stated that he wanted to go to there or Sandhurst might have his Colonel asking him if he did not think that his Regiment was good enough for him or not. And this explains the lyrics of the song mentioning all those subjects.

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