Links 4/6/18

Global crop insecurity: what is the future of our food supply? FT

U.S. Stocks Have Least Power Over Europe Since Financial Crisis Bloomberg

Car trouble brings Elon Musk back to earth FT

AARP accused of hard-sell marketing practices like those it warns seniors about McClatchy

New alcohol-advertising research stopped with NIH branch director’s arrival STAT (TH).

Meet Bill Eimicke, mysterious merchant of data and clout never charged in Cor case (Bob). Must-read, in case your own state is infested with corrupt fixers (“We won’t utter the word ‘bagrnan,’ but feel free to think it”) consultants like Eimicke. “[Eimicke’s report] was good enough for state officials. Seven months later, in December 2011, Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy announced an unusual, no-bid deal for [Syracuse-based Cor Development] to develop Kennedy Square. Cor was given control over — and 75 percent ownership of — eight acres at the site.” Bob writes: “Kennedy Square = New stadium for Syracuse University. They were trying to set up multiple sources of revenue. They got greedy. $225 Million for building on property owned by SUNY upstate wasn’t enough. They had to reach for another $500 million.” Ka-ching.


Trump Defies His Generals on ISIS and Syria New Yorker. Quelle horreur! “‘The hard part, I think, is in front of us, and that is stabilizing these areas, consolidating our gains, getting people back into their homes,’ General Joseph L. Votel, who heads Central Command operations, candidly told the conference. ‘There is a military role in this, certainly in the stabilization phase.'” Candidly.

Time to Get Out of Syria Gordon Adams, Defense One. “The national security ‘blob’ who warn departure would be a disaster are wrong.”

Trump is right about Syria: It’s time to leave Jeffrey Sachs, Boston Globe

The ISIS Files: When Terrorists Run City Hall The New York Times (PM). “ISIS built a state of administrative efficiency that collected taxes and picked up the garbage. It ran a marriage office that oversaw medical examinations to ensure that couples could have children. It issued birth certificates — printed on Islamic State stationery — to babies born under the caliphate’s black flag. It even ran its own D.M.V.” So, they really did want to govern.

For Trump and his generals, ‘victory’ has different meanings WaPo

Why the U.S. Fails to Understand Its Adversaries The American Conservative

Carles Puigdemont released on bail by German court Politico


Brexit Bulletin: The To-Do List Bloomberg


Trump Doubles Down on Potential Trade War With China NYT

Statesman, strongman, philosopher: The many faces of China’s Xi Asian Correspondent

North Korea

China hopes Kim Jong-un’s meeting with Donald Trump will ‘take fuse’ out of North Korea crisis South China Morning Post

Park Geun-hye — from conservative icon to dethroned president Yonhap News

Puerto Rico

Plan to dismantle Puerto Rico’s statistics agency gets green light Nature

In Puerto Rico’s ‘last mile,’ power is still elusive as next hurricane season looms WaPo

New Cold War

Salisbury poison ‘made at Russia’s Porton Down’ The Times. Source: “[A] British intelligence briefing for its allies” (another upside-down pyramid, teetering on the apex of access journalism and the intelligence community).

Novi-Fog™ In Fleet Street – Truth Cut Off Moon of Alabama

Knobs and Knockers Craig Murray

Licence to kill Le Monde Diplomatique

* * *

The media’s Mueller speculation has reached a new level of lunacy The Week

Trump Transition

Mulvaney thwarts Warren inquiry, citing CFPB structure American Banker

Amid Trump attacks, Amazon competes for lucrative DOD contract The Hill

Pentagon names former J.P. Morgan official as its new CIO Federal News Radio. And pro-cloud.

Democrats in Disarray

No, the Democratic Party isn’t ‘divided’ or in ‘disarray’ WaPo. These CAP types are something else…

Justice in a coffee cup: Bernie Sanders, Lumumba reflect on MLK’s dream Clarion-Ledger

Bernie Sanders Courts Black Voters Anew. But an Obama Reference Stings. NYT. The outrage machine really revved up over this one.

Facebook Fracas

Facebook retracted Zuckerberg’s messages from recipients’ inboxes Tech Crunch

Facebook sent a doctor on a secret mission to ask hospitals to share patient data CNBC

Health Care

Donald Trump and Republicans are botching health care. We need Medicare for anyone. Topher Spiro, USA Today. CAP continues its campaign against #MedicareForAll.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Subverting Backdoored Encryption Schneir on Security

MIT’s AlterEgo headset can read words you say in your head CNET (DL). “When you think a sentence in your head, your brain sends signals to your mouth and jaw. MIT’s headset reads those signals with 92 percent accuracy.” Not remotely, fortunately. Yet.

Foxconn to Manufacture Blockchain Phone From Sirin Labs Bloomberg (JB). “Sirin said the Finney [phone] will handle all coin-related services in a part of the phone that’s activated with a physical switch. Instead of keying in a complex address and private key, Sirin said users may eventually verify their identities with an iris scan, a fingerprint and a simple password.” JB: “Just imagine the prosecution futures if you have an iris scan or fingerprint associated with the bitcoin transaction.”

Five things to consider before ordering an online DNA test The Conversation (DL). Yves: “How about ‘just don’t’?”

Class Warfare

Liberals and the Strike Corey Robin, Jacobin

Teacher strikes may be more powerful now than ever before Houston Chronicle

Disney Withholds Bonuses As Union Workers Protest Poverty Wages ShadowProof

Inside a Private Prison: Blood, Suicide and Poorly Paid Guards NYT

Why we need social housing in the US Matt Bruenig, Guardian

The demise of the nation state Guardian (AV).

Everyone Got The Pulse Massacre Story Completely Wrong HuffPo

Power and the Vote: Elections and Electricity in the Developing World Center for Political Studies

Robert Langlands, Mathematical Visionary, Wins the Abel Prize Quanta

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Clive

    Skripal “Poisoning” Now Even Weirder

    … if that were possible. Now reported that their cat was put to sleep which is just bizarre. There’s been no end of stories reported about how cats survive for weeks stuck up chimneys and in shipping containers or vehicles. So this poor moggy, after an unspecified amount of time, but couldn’t have been more than a couple of weeks was so ill due to some mysterious disease process that it couldn’t be expected to survive?

    If it had been exposed to any so-called nerve agent, it would have likely expired on the spot. And it, not unlike the “disoriented” Yulia yesterday was “distressed”. Was a post-mortem done? What was found? Where is the body?

    I know the British are famous for our farces. But this is simply in a world of its own. I haven’t even mentioned the other apparent cat which the Skripals also had. At this point I wouldn’t be surprised if my mother-in-laws cat gets implicated. Munchie would scare off anything. And probably impervious to Novichok. Is the Monty Python team writing the storyline for this?

    1. RenoDino

      The only witness was an innocent cat who was found guilty of not being poisoned. At what point do the British people rise up and throw off their chains?

    2. The Rev Kev

      Oh I think that it gets better than that. Consider – there has been a suspected chemical warfare attack on two individuals. Now you would expect that there would be a team from Porton Downs wearing their “noddy” suits examining every surface in their house for any chemical traces. They would have noted the pets and, even though I know little of chemical warfare, my first instinct would be to grab the animals for transport to Porton Down to test their blood for any chemical traces in their blood.
      This did not happen. The house was sealed and apparently unexamined. That led to the death by of the guinea pigs and the terrible state that the family cat got into. How many possible crime scenes do you hear of that get sealed up and ignored? One month later it is announced that it was the door? Of the same house that had apparently been ignored the past month? There is even a leak that they have found the place nearby where the chemical attack was prepared. The same time they announce the existence of the Maxwell Smart old rub-chemical-weapons-on-the-doorknob-trick. Bah! Humbug!

      1. Expat2uruguay

        This story looks very much like the Pulse Nightclub Story also at the bottom of today’s links. Narrative-based analysis.

        Narratives are so important to our leaders, they cannot be compromised, the truth cannot be allowed to interfere. As the Pulse nightclub article shows, facts don’t matter.

        Beyond the courtroom, the narrative [of homophobia] had taken on a powerful dimension in Orlando. All over town, in bars and restaurants, you could see signs reading, “We will not let hate win.” During the trial, I spoke to one LGBT community leader there who said he would always know, in his heart, that Mateen picked Pulse to kill gay people, and that Salman knew of his plans. No amount of evidence would change his mind, he said.

        “No amount of evidence” can be allowed to interfere with the Narrative of #Hate in both cases. Manufacturing fear, and manufacturing consent for the desired vengeance, is all that’s important.

        1. Duke of Prunes

          This is exactly why the approved narrative is pushed so hard. If they do their job well, “no amount of evidence would change his mind”.

      2. wilroncanada

        The Rev Kev
        They got the lowdown on their shoe phones.
        And as for sealing without investigation, how about the New York Towers, swiftly taken away without investigation.

    3. Ignacio

      Novishoking news indeed!

      Novishoking= shoking news that you will never know if fake or not

    4. flora

      hmmm… there seems be, dare I say this, a pattern to the intel agencies determine-the-narrative-and-fix-the-data-around-that approach. In the US, going back a little over a year, there’s this story.
      The fbi has first-rate digital forensics capabilities. Odd, then, that they were not allowed access.

      I guess they can’t examine anything that might disprove the already established narrative.

    5. Craig H.

      Photos of cute cats are a low blow. Is there no depth to which these people will not stoop?

    6. bwilli123

      As Skripal-Gate Collapses so Will the May Government

      …The United Kingdom is headed for a break-up. Not today or tomorrow, mind you but, sooner than anyone would like to handicap, especially in this age of coalition government at any cost.
      By responding to the alleged poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with histrionics normally reserved for The View, Theresa May’s government has set the stage for its own collapse….

      1. bwilli123

        And further

        …”As the Skripal poisoning narrative unravels it reveals the true motive behind the whole operation is revealed…. scuttling Brexit.”

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          The British government has a long history of making public gestures of consulting public opinion and then flouting it remorselessly.

          Always amazing how many people don’t know about the UK/US coup in Australia in 1975.

    7. Buttinsky

      The real problem with Her Majesty’s Government’s apparently very much improvised reaction to a Russian question about the pets — an incomprehensible, un-Britishly tale of animals left to languish in a poisoned, sealed apartment — is that it had already been reported weeks ago that the pets were quickly known of and taken away to be assessed:

      I confess that I can’t think of a screwier invention to ever seize the headlines than this story of the Skripals felled by Boris and Natasha. The Supreme Court’s assertion that counting votes in Florida endangered democracy, the concoction about WMDs in Iraq, Putin’s pee-kompromat on Trump — these are all left in the dust by something Rocky and Bullwinkle writers would have rejected as too whimsical, too not-thought-out. Good show, UK!

  2. Henry Moon Pie

    Please note who it is that is basically disobeying the High and Holy Commander-in-Chief: the bosses of the military. Please remember that it was someone in the Pentagon who openly disobeyed the HHCiC and blew up Kerry’s deal on Syria with an attack the day after the deal was announced.

    One canard that annoys me more than most is that our Great Never-Ending War is primarily the fault of civilian leadership. “The people who actually fight the wars know what is involved, and they oppose them.” Yeah, right. The loonies out of West Point, Annapolis and especially Colorado Springs are just as crazy as Lemay and his fictional version, Turgidson.

    Dr. Strangelove: Turgidson Counsels Go For It

    1. cocomaan

      The military brass insisting on perpetuating these wars are both confident and stupid, a deadly combination.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I know that this is a simplistic and unrealistic idea, but it would be nice for a President to get on the horn to the local general who goes off reservation and say something along the lines of:
      “I am the Commander-in-Chief and you are in my line of command as a subordinate. Turn over your command to the next in line and immediately report back to me at the White House within 24 hours! Your answers to my questions will determine if I will reinstate you to your command. Right now I am going on TV to announce to the world my orders so the next move is yours general!”
      Hmm. Maybe not so unrealistic. Truman pulled Macarthur out of Korea when he wanted to go head to head with China while mentioning the use of nuclear weapons. Then again, Truman was a WW1 combat vet who had a reputation of being able make and do the hard choices whatever the consequences.

    3. Procopius

      When I retired from active duty 36 years ago, I would have disputed this characterization of graduates of Annapolis and West Point. Sure, there were some corrupt generals and admirals, but most of them were honorable people. Oh, yeah, the Air Force was dominated by religious fanatics, but they didn’t have much say in the national strategy. I’d love to exchange our current military “leadership” for merely corrupt people in place of the lunatics we’ve got now like McMaster and Flynn.

  3. Seth A Miller

    Bill Eimicke was, among other things, the man who ran the NYS Division of Housing, administering rent control and rent stabilization, under Mario Cuomo. If memory serves, he was commissioner in 1993 when Mario Cuomo signed the first “luxury deregulation” bill, making way for the massive and unrestrained deregulation and gentrification of New York City housing.

    1. bob

      Andy Cuomo, current crook-in-chief of NYS, was head of HUD under Clinton 1997 to 2001

      They do it all for the children!

    2. Gary Headlock

      And I bet it created 2700 jobs! Seems to be the magic number in his consulting work…

  4. temporal

    re: No, the Democratic Party isn’t ‘divided’ or in ‘disarray’

    It’s writers like this that forced me to lapse my “American Prospect” subscription years ago. Bragging that Team D already cleaned out all those economic justice lefties so, of course, what’s left is not in disarray. Openly defending the members of Team D that believe that their current economic prosperity requires that anyone not on the gravy train should be happy to accept the crumbs of identity politics as a substitute.

    You’ll never be helped by us but we will strongly support your right to believe that our success, on your behalf, is all you should ever want – because we’re not the other guys.

    1. The Beeman

      You’ll never be helped by us but we will strongly support your right to believe that our success, on your behalf, is all you should ever want – because we’re not the other guys.

      One of the best lines ever…..

    2. Anon

      I tried to reach out to the author on Twitter and asked him a question: Is it racism that caused areas that voted for Obama twice to suddenly switch?

      1. DonCoyote

        Democrats not In Disarray…

        “In 2020, most or even all of the potential Democratic presidential candidates will support universal government-guaranteed health coverage, a $15 minimum wage, new gun regulations, legalization of marijuana and a bunch of other positions significantly to the left of where the party’s consensus was just a few years ago.”

        1) I’ll believe it when I see it. I don’t see Cory Booker or Kirsten Gillibrand lining up to help Fight for 15. Or if they do. it will be the 2050 “goal” with 25 cent minumum wage raises every other year.
        2) Government-guaranteed but not government paid for? So “buying in” (or even better, more “shopping” for health insurance), whether you can afford it or not? And many people can’t afford the deductibles on their employer-provided health plan either. So yes, if we crapify lower the bar enough most of these hypothetical 2020 candidates can jump it. But this is thin gruel.
        3) “New gun regulations” is more liberal???
        4“We encourage the federal
        government to remove marijuana from the list of “Schedule 1″ federal controlled substances and
        to appropriately regulate it, providing a reasoned pathway for future legalization.”
        That’s from the Official 2016 Democratic party platform (HRC supporters had a majority). Most 2020 Democratic candidates are going to be the left of that?

        “Bernie Sanders should go ahead and keep offering his critique of the Democratic Party, and anyone who thinks he’s wrong should say so. It’s a healthy debate to have. But it doesn’t mean the Democrats have an identity problem.”

        Yes, they still do. They still want a pseudo-populist platform (because people still vote), and corporatist/10%er policies.

        Such BS from the WaPo. When the 2018 “blue wave” doesn’t retake the House and the 2020 corporate Democrat anointed by the DNC loses, we’ll have to read utter garbage like this ‘gem’ from the NYT last year: “Hillary Clinton’s lurch to the left probably cost her key Midwestern states that Barack Obama had won twice and led to the election of Donald Trump.” Anyone remember HRC’s “lurch to the left”? Yes, I’m sure her half-hearted about-face on the TPP cost her a lot of midwestern votes…

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          If Hillary lurched to the left in 2016 then I must be the reincarnation of Eugene V Debs.

          Who do they think believes any of this? Oh wait, it was from the Bezos Shopper. Nevermind.

        2. Procopius

          Hey, you get great value from the Washington Post. It’s both neoconservative (Fred Hiatt) and neoliberal (the editorial board — or is that Bezos?). But wait, there’s more! …

  5. David

    At least some of the confusion is created by the media, doing its traditional job of printing anything that will sell or get clicks, and making it up if necessary. I’m not a pet-owner but the idea of the guinea pigs dying of thirst and a cat half-starved to death after being left alone for some days doesn’t seem intrinsically impossible. And if I were MoA I would try to resist the urge to be funny. They don’t do it very well, and should stick to conspiracy theorising.
    The basic point, I increasingly think, is that this is this is the government that brought you Brexit, and so we should assume incompetence and ignorance by all concerned, as well as a tendency to engage the mouth before the brain is in gear. This kind of subject is a government official’s nightmare, because it’s (1) technically complex (2) politically explosive and (3) inherently hard to make firm statements about. I am pretty certain that this is the first time that either May or Johnson, or their immediate staffs, had ever come across the subject, and the Ambassador’s statement would have been negotiated between half-a-dozen different people, none of whom would have been an expert. Meanwhile, May is banging the table and saying “just give me the facts!”, looking for some political angle that will make her look decisive and the Russians villainous. It’s hard to imagine a better scenario for a political (family blog)-up. This is probably the origins of the famous use of the word “the” that was getting so much publicity yesterday. It’s likely that Johnson either didn’t read his brief properly (and I believe he has a reputation for that) or just decided to play up what he had been told for effect. Somebody who did know what they were talking about would then have sounded the alarm.
    The Times won’t let me read past the first paragraph of their story without paying, but for what it’s worth, the Russian establishment named in it is presumably (I haven’t checked) the Russians Small Scale Facility that they are allowed by the CWC, and so logically the only place it could have come from if the Russians made it. Unless Porton Down was saying that they had identified technical characteristics that tied the chemical specifically to that site, it doesn’t mean very much, and it’s probably, once more, the media trying to squeeze every last drop from a story.

    1. Ignacio

      “and it’s probably, once more, the media trying to squeeze every last drop from a story.”

      I would say the media trying to squeeze the last drop of faith we could have in our democratic institutions.
      If they had just haven’t been so uncritical…

    2. ocop

      I’ve been wondering this myself. We’ve been framing May and co. as conscious evil conspirators (ala Cheney in the run up to Iraq) when bumbling incompetence filtered through amoral opportunism and russophobic priors would explain it just as well.

      “It was the Fentanyl… no , wait the car door handle. Check that, the poison came through he vents! No, the front door. Definitely the front door!” And Russia, Russia, Russia of course.

      1. EricT

        Then why push it. Why ignore Russian calls to abide by treaty and not share evidence if you have a case? Why commit a diplomatic row over an incident that you don’t have the whole picture? It definitely seems like a case of fixing the evidence over the desired result. The story they are playing up could have WW 3 implications, shouldn’t they be more careful?

        1. Pat

          Personally I would go with this is some dastardly CIA plot that the British leadership was stupid enough to go along with since this time it didn’t include invading a country without realizing that might be the end game. But rather than not learning from their mistakes, this could be an example of short term thinking and missing the big picture, which does seem to be the hallmark of most of our political and corporate leadership anymore.

          1. Russia is the bad guy of the moment.
          2. Brexit is an utter bloody disaster.
          3. The May government is looking more and more duplicitous AND incompetent.
          4. Corbyn, and members of his ideology must be kept out of power NO MATTER WHAT.
          5. A double agent and his daughter have an illness that could be chemical poisoning.
          Distraction from points 2 and 3 and an opportunity to help 4 along might appear to be the winning strategy of blaming 5 on the bogey man of 1.

          Meanwhile there is no thought about what if they didn’t do it, no recognition that Russia is still a world power and Putin has tools at his disposal that a Hussein or a Gaddafi did not, and many in the media, alternative but still media, have learned to reject ‘Russia! Russia! Russia!’. And when did scientists actually grow a backbone? Rather than realize that the cunning plan of distraction might/could/is falling apart AND that retaliation could have real world consequences beyond some brief embarrassment after leaving office for greener pastures (Hi, Tony!), they just keep doubling down. Being venal and/or incompetent has not been really punished in so long, they just cannot imagine it.

        2. Oregoncharles

          @ EricT – that’s different from malign bumbling? Looks like the same thing to me.

          It’s important to emphasize that they’re playing it as part of the anti-Russia meme, since Russians are certainly involved (technically, a British spy, but still); that’s the “malign” part.

    3. integer

      And if I were MoA I would try to resist the urge to be funny. They don’t do it very well, and should stick to conspiracy theorising.

      Well, Germans have never been known for their sense of humor. That said, your characterization of MoA’s work as “conspiracy theorising” is a little too uncharitable, condescending even, for my liking. My question to you is what would it take for you to accept the UK government’s complicity in this affair? A confession? That will never happen, however imagine if the corporate media had pursued the holes in their story they way they have pursued the incredibly flimsy “evidence” that Russia was responsible. Again, that would never happen, but I find it hard to believe that May, Johnson, Williamson et al. would be able to exonerate themselves. I’m not saying it is definitively the case that the UK government and/or their intelligence apparatus are behind it, however there are now many signs pointing in that direction. Why is it so hard to believe that it is a distinct possibility that the May government could have given the go ahead for MI6 to attempt to frame Russia with a false flag CW attack on a UK-based Russian double agent, who may or may not have been linked to Steele’s dodgy dossier, and his daughter? Not only does this possibility seem plausible to me, and it appears many others, it now seems “highly likely” that this is the case.

      1. Donald

        “your characterization of MoA’s work as “conspiracy theorising” is a little too uncharitable”

        I agree. For one thing, nowadays everybody is a conspiracy theorist or else simply an agnostic about most of the news. I’m not joking. Half the things that get on the front page are mainstream conspiracy theories–they might be right or they might be wrong, but they are the sort of thing the mainstream itself would call a conspiracy theory if we crazy lefties said it. On any given issue there is a mainstream theory we are all supposed to accept and then there are alternative theories that various people propose and the alternative theories are often at least as plausible as the official stories.

        I advocate the adoption of an agnostic position on all issues where there isn’t a set of firm facts available to unbiased experts for evaluation.

        1. witters

          Until all the evidence is in I’m agnostic about agnosticism… in fact the only thing I’m not agnostic about (this is simply the logical implication of my agnostic agnosticism) is that I’m an unbiased expert.

      2. John k

        Or somebody in Mi6 just went ahead, and May got sucked in with the need for distraction from all her woes.

      3. HotFlash

        Why is it so hard to believe that it is a distinct possibility that the May government could have given the go ahead for MI6 to attempt to frame Russia with a false flag CW attack on a UK-based Russian double agent, who may or may not have been linked to Steele’s dodgy dossier, and his daughter? Not only does this possibility seem plausible to me, and it appears many others, it now seems “highly likely” that this is the case.

        And transposing ‘May govt’ and ‘MI6’ in this para also yields a likely scenario. If you believe, as I do, that it is possible for long-lived sub-organizations to capture the (ostensibly) democratically elected but ephemeral government, then it’s worth considering, at the very least..

        1. integer

          You raise an important question, as does John k. Who is calling the shots? The CIA certainly appears to believe it has primacy in the US chain of command, and I can’t see why this dynamic would be any different in the UK.

      4. Elizabeth Burton

        To make things even more fun, there are apparently those who, hearing Skripal and daughter may have contributed to the Steele dossier, are now positing they were offed by Russia because Steele hasn’t yet revealed everything he knows. And when he does, of course, it’s the end of Trump.

        In other words, Donald pretty much has it right—our only hope is to do the work ourselves and try to track down whatever facts manage to rise to the surface and see if, put together, they make some kind of sense.

      5. David

        There are several answers to your question, but in the end it comes down to what you think is “plausible.” My idea of what is plausible comes from many years of working in government and seeing how things happen there. I would be astonished if any British government would do something so lunatic, so potentially disastrous if discovered and so hard to get past legal and other checks and balances in the system, and for little obvious reward. But that’s just my view. On the other hand, I can well see how a government in a very difficult political situation, might regard this incident as sent from heaven, and decide, without properly considering all the consequences, to go on a major propaganda blitz, taking Russian authorship for granted. But there’s a huge difference between cynically and irresponsibly exploiting an incident like this for all it’s worth (and telling lies or at least stretching the truth) and actually planning and conducting it. Doubting the government version (or interpretation) of events, which seems quite fair to me, does not mean you have to rush to the other extreme and blame the incident on the government itself.
        But that’s a view of what is “plausible” based on my experience. At the other end of the spectrum (and this is not a remark directed at you) you have people who regard things as “plausible” if they correspond to what they have seen on TV or in the cinema. In between are lots of other views.
        The problem with the “UK dunnit” argument is that there isn’t actually any evidence, and, as I said, doubting the official explanation does not have to mean rushing to the other extreme. There are people who find it plausible, just as there are people who find it plausible that Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy, that the Apollo landings were faked, that the latest school shooting in the US was a false flag operation, etc. etc. But in each case, the argument is essentially the same: “I can’t believe the official version, therefore I will believe the polar opposite;” This is a bit my problem with MoA, which I used to read regularly, but which I found inaccurate in any case where I had personal knowledge of the situation they were talking about – always a bad sign. Obviously conspiracies do exist, but you can’t abandon the ordinary laws of logic and evidence just because you find an explanation that is more psychologically pleasing, which I think is rather their tendency. Everybody loves a good conspiracy after all.

        1. integer

          I’ve never worked in government, however it seems that UK government employees are not privy to the full story until they are working for the ruling party at the most senior level. Even then it appears that information is highly compartmentalized. For example, at the moment the May government is refusing to share a purported Russian intelligence manual that supposedly details how nerve agents can be applied to door handles with Jeremy Corbyn, and he is the leader of the opposition party. One can’t occupy a much higher position in government than Corbyn, but information is still being withheld from him. In as much as your government experience gives you more insight than most into the workings of government at a certain level, perhaps your experience is preventing you from objectively assessing what has taken place over the last month or so.

          Spy poisoning: minister defends not sharing full intelligence with Corbyn The Guardian

          The government has defended its decision not to share the full intelligence on the Salisbury nerve agent attack with Jeremy Corbyn, insisting the “circle” of those with access to highly sensitive information should be restricted.

          Ben Wallace, the security minister, said the number of people entrusted with the most sensitive details of the case should be deliberately kept small so intelligence agents’ lives were not put at risk.

          1. David

            As I said, it’s only my opinion. But Corbyn is not part of the government, he’s the Leader of the Opposition. In the British system it’s normal for somebody in that position to be made a Privy Counsellor (don’t ask) which entitles them to receive classified information on a confidential basis in certain cases. But so far as I know, it would be unprecedented to share intelligence information with the Leader of the Opposition, not least because he would then have access to information that many Ministers in the government would not have. And in the UK, you don’t work for the ruling party. It’s not the US (or French for that matter) system, and access to this kind of information is governed by very rigid rules, that stop you seeing it unless there’s a need for you to do so. Leaking of intelligence material has, I believe, happened in the UK, but it’s less common than in the US, because the system as a whole, even today, is less politicised.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Leaking of intelligence material has, I believe, happened in the UK, but it’s less common than in the US, because the system as a whole, even today, is less politicised.

              It would be hard to have an intelligence community that is more politicized than the US’s.

              I understand your point, but I also think it falls into a trap Marcy Wheeler sometimes falls into: The idea that people with great and secret power, who propagate mis- and disinformation professionally, always follow the rules. I see no reason to make that assumption. I imagine they follow the rules most of the time, sure, but what if the stakes are very great?

      6. Oregoncharles

        If indeed a nerve agent is involved (only they’re both recovering), then the logical source, as indicated in the picture, is the nearest chemical warfare facility: Porton Downs.

        Why would they poison their own spy? I can’t imagine, but someone more familiar with British spy chicanery might.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          The perp, at whatever level*, would poison “their own spy” to produce the effect that was produced: One more step to the war with Russia they want. (Remember that the MH17 matter is still hanging fire.) Of course, the whole thing is a ginormous hairball [raises eyebrow at Skripal’s involvement with Steele] so overdetermination is always possibly (and being non-linear, in fact likely).

          * Here one remembers the post-9/11 anthrax case in the US that panicked elites and was never solved.

  6. Brooklin Bridge

    The demise of the nation state – Guardian (AV).

    I would be curious to read others comments on this. Is it an apology for a world order of deregulated corporate rule with a vague undefined (and, as in the EU, unelected) real administrative body backed up by stick figure elected facades whose purpose (again like the EU) is largely to impose the administrative edicts in the guise of democratic rule? It’s hard to say because it the article does seem sensitive to at least some of the social weaknesses in the European model.

    There are interesting notions such as the comparison of “citizenship” to inherited wealth or poverty depending on the nation state in question.

    The two places where I can see questionable analysis (which raises suspicion) are 1) An obviously bankrupt establishment POV on Russian involvement in Ukraine, and 2) a seeming acceptance of the assumption that deregulation of international flow of capital is the natural order of things (and that deregulation of human movement should be the same – not that I have anything, per-se, against free movement of people, but regardless, deregulated capital is another matter).

    The quote for 1) is a paragraph:

    The era of national self-determination has turned out to be an era of international lawlessness, which has crippled the legitimacy of the nation state system. And, while revolutionary groups attempt to destroy the system “from below”, assertive regional powers are destroying it “from above” – by infringing national borders in their own backyards. Russia’s escapade in Ukraine demonstrates that there are now few consequences to neo-imperial bagatelles, and China’s route to usurping the 22nd-richest country in the world – Taiwan – lies open.[emphasis mine] The true extent of our insecurity will be revealed as the relative power of the US further declines, and it can no longer do anything to control the chaos it helped create.

    And for number 2, it’s a sentence (left rather vague in the article),

    Deregulating human movement is an essential corollary of the deregulation of capital: it is unjust to preserve the freedom to move capital out of a place and simultaneously forbid people from following..”

    Just how “telling” these examples are is in question. I find it hard to pin the author down other than his sweeping assertion that the nation-state is on the way out. But if I had to guess, I would suspect this is a piece aimed at a new effort (in the form of a framework) along the lines of the evil TPP and the sibling suite of trade deals or whatever the corporate think tanks come up with next.

    Does the following paragraph bear that out? It seems to be the authors analysis of what is now taking place, but also a sort of implicit apology for its legitimacy as the natural order of things (because it is).

    There is every reason to believe that the next stage of the techno-financial revolution will be even more disastrous for national political authority. This will arise as the natural continuation of existing technological processes, which promise new, algorithmic kinds of governance to further undermine the political variety. Big data companies (Google, Facebook etc) have already assumed many functions previously associated with the state, from cartography to surveillance. Now they are the primary gatekeepers of social reality: membership of these systems is a new, corporate, de-territorialised form of citizenship, antagonistic at every level to the national kind. And, as the growth of digital currencies shows, new technologies will emerge to replace the other fundamental functions of the nation state. The libertarian dream – whereby antique bureaucracies succumb to pristine hi-tech corporate systems, which then take over the management of all life and resources – is a more likely vision for the future than any fantasy of a return to social democracy.

    1. Alex V

      What struck me most about the piece was the implication that the old ways of doing things in regard to the purpose of the state were somehow bound to fail, as you allude to, due to the “natural order” and eternal movement towards technological solutions and liberalization. For example in the paragraph you cite, taking it as given that digital currencies will replace existing currencies. I think that fight is far from over, not just from a political/social standpoint, but also from the standpoint of just making the technology actually useful. He’s also quite selective in his citations of history – many of the examples he gives to support his arguments have counter-examples.

      My main complaint of his thesis is that all agency has been taken away from all actors involved. All the problems he discusses are due to choices that can be reversed or revised.

      1. Wukchumni

        Paper money is less than 5% of all monies in circulation in the USA, and very easy to counterfeit compared to back in the day.

        If you were a government, of course you’d want to do away with physical currency in this day and age. It represents a great threat not just from other non state actors printing it, but also the idea that cash is largely anonymous, can’t have that now, can we?

        1. Alex V

          In regard to cash, vs electronic money, I think the author was more alluding to Bitcoin and its non-state ilk.

          I know I’m being somewhat willfully naive, but I live in Sweden, often declared one of the most cash free countries on earth – and I trust the electronic payment system using the national currency here far more than I would in the US. That trust is created by far greater government transparency and regulation – which also underlie trust in paper money. In regard to anonymity, yes this is absolutely reduced in an electronic world, but Sweden also has far stronger privacy law.

          This is not to say that bad things never happen here, but the general attitude is significantly more altruistic. I think Dasgupta has somewhat given up hope on that concept.

        2. EricT

          What do you mean “very easy to counterfeit compared to back in the day”? Truth is the older notes were very easy to counterfeit. All you had to do was take some ones, bleach them and reprint them as 20’s or higher. Today, the paper used to make US currency is highly sophisticated to the point where the paper for 1’s, 5’s, 10’s and so forth have different qualities to make it harder to counterfeit. It’s much easier to hack a financial institution, hide your tracks and bump up the electronic balance of an account than it is to counterfeit.

          1. Wukchumni

            The paper was and is the hardest part of counterfeiting…

            Everything else you need is on your computer and printer~

            To counterfeit $100 banknotes say 30 years ago, you would’ve needed to outlay perhaps $100,000.00 for an offset press, engraved plates, etc. You were also limited to a few static serial numbers on the bogus money you produced, making it hard to pass in any quantity.

            1. Wukchumni


              The next time you give a cashier a banknote for payment and he or she puts the counterfeit detector pen to it, ask how prevalent counterfeit money is?

              It’s your perfect opening, to get the skinny on what’s what.

              I asked a checker @ a supermarket a few weeks ago, and she told me that somebody tried to pass bogus money 1-2 times a week on average.

            2. todde

              I used to know a counterfeiter.

              He did fine with the plates and presses.

              When he moved into the computer and printer stage, he got busted.

              Every printer has a code on it based on the color pixels. They traced the money directly to him.

              And the printer wasn’t cheap either – over $40k.

              1. Aumua

                I’m sure anyone who really knew what they were doing could disable any detection mechanisms built into printers. And you better know what you’re doing if you want to try your hand at counterfeiting.

                1. Wukchumni

                  You’re talking about an individual, what about another nation (here’s looking @ you, NK) with full printing capabilities, etc?

                  Something along the lines of Operation Bernhard…

                  “Operation Bernhard was an exercise by Nazi Germany to forge British bank notes. The initial plan was to drop the notes over Britain to bring about a collapse of the British economy during the Second World War. The first phase was run from early 1940 by the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) under the title Unternehmen Andreas (Operation Andreas, Operation Andrew). The unit successfully duplicated the rag paper used by the British, produced near-identical engraving blocks and deduced the algorithm used to create the alpha-numeric serial code on each note. The unit closed in early 1942 after its head, Alfred Naujocks, fell out of favour with his superior officer, Reinhard Heydrich.”


                  1. bob

                    CANADA! Well, french Canada anyway.


                    “But what Bourassa and the Mounted police investigators agree on is that there are lots of his fake $20 notes still in circulation in the U.S., virtually undetectable. ”

                    Smaller notes are easier to pass off. He passed off a ton of them. They’re still probably being passed. The oddest part of this was how little attention it got in the press. Canada isn’t as sexy as NK?

            3. Procopius

              I remember reading a story forty or fifty years ago about a guy who became intrigued by the challenge of making really good counterfeit money. He was a professional printer, and already owned an offset press. Currency, however is normally printed on an intaglio press, so that if the currency is fairly new you can actually feel the lines on the paper. He was so careful with his photography that he was able to make offset plates that he could use to run his product through his press several times and build up layers of ink to simulate the intaglio process. It was an interesting read. I don’t recall how he got caught.

          2. bob

            Agree with you.

            This was a very interesting story. Rumor was that you couldn’t tell the fakes from the real ones. He may have been printing a large number of the 20’s in circulation. They’re probably still in circulation. The whole thing smells like the work of spooks too.


            “But what Bourassa and the Mounted police investigators agree on is that there are lots of his fake $20 notes still in circulation in the U.S., virtually undetectable. “

            1. The Rev Kev

              Come to think of it, as far as circulation goes, how does a quality fake $20 note differ from a fiat $20 printed by a government? They both are serving a useful purpose over their lifespan and it’s not like either are backed up by gold or anything. Excuse me, I hear a knock at my door…

              1. bob

                They could just stop printing 20’s and let him do it.

                Again, this whole scheme, and the way it was ‘resolved’, smells like spooks.

      2. Summer

        “Half a century has been spent building the global system on which we all now depend, and it is here to stay. Without political innovation, global capital and technology will rule us without any kind of democratic consultation, as naturally and indubitably as the rising oceans.”

        There it is. Despite all his proposed “alternatives” he’s not talking about any real alternative.

        And it’s hubris. 50 years is a drop in the bucket in the scheme of systems.
        And plenty have collapsed in less.

    2. Summer

      It’s written to convince people that a benevolent global order would bring solidarity among people.
      His assumption is that there is a benevolent global elite that would manage such a project to uplift or save the world and they would give up their life long belief of profit over people.

      But looking at the trends and trajectory, it would more likely be a rebranding of colonialism – this time without even the veneer of a nation state – just a bizarre soul sucking global corporate (monopolistic) colonialism.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Tariffs are reminders that nations still acts as nations.

        The demise pronouncement might be a bit premature, or perhaps that’s why Trump is a caveman.

        1. Summer

          Looking at it again, and his principle concern is “keeping order,” maybe more so than “reform.”

          You know how they have all these “studies” being posted that emphasize the conservatives desire for authoritarianism? That whole binary? This is the liberal flip side of the same coin.

      2. todde

        Every Empire espouses globalization.

        Alexander the Great was one of the 1st to run into trouble with the ‘provincials’

        1. witters

          Well, it was his army which finally had enough and refused to go on. Being a bastard Alexander agreed but insisted on marching back through through the Gedrosian Desert killing perhaps 3/4 of his troops.

          1. todde

            yes, to be clear I was implying that the Macedonian Army were the ‘provincials’ of the Empire.

            Alexander never had a plan to go back to Macedonia.

    3. Oregoncharles

      I thought it was frustratingly vague; that conclusion, which I confess I didn’t reach, sort of gives the game away.

    4. Grebo

      He certainly didn’t lay his ideological cards on the table. My distinct impression was he is a “left” neoliberal. Give lip-service to the downsides but conclude, sadly, that There Is No Alternative.

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      Yes, it is elaborate hasbara for Corporate Globalonial Plantation government.

      And the last couple of paragraphs support the concept of unrestricted mass immigration from the high population places to the lower population places with zero opposition from the physical inhabitants of the less populated places to be allowed. Americans will naturally be called racist for objecting to a quarter billion Indians and a quarter billion Chinese moving into America. But maybe the Corporate Globalonial Plantation hasbarists like this author will have a harder time accusing Canada and Russia of racism for objecting to the same thing.

  7. Ignacio

    RE: Carles Puigdemont released on bail by German court Politico
    Germans wisely opt for handwashing although this pretty much goes against their faith on laws

  8. allan

    GOP bill cuts taxes for the rich, raises taxes for 95 percent of Kentuckians [Lexington Herald-Leader]

    A new study of the tax bill rushed through the Kentucky General Assembly Monday shows the changes it makes to the tax code are likely to lower taxes for the wealthy while raising taxes for 95 percent of Kentuckians.

    The analysis, performed by the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy in Washington D.C., a liberal-leaning think tank, studied the impact of the tax cuts and increases on Kentuckians.

    The bill applies Kentucky’s 6 percent sales tax to 17 services, increases the cigarette tax by 50 cents per pack, and cuts the individual and corporate income tax to a flat 5 percent tax. It also cuts some typical tax deductions, including those for medical expenses, medical insurance, paid taxes and investment income. …

    The Bluegrass State: Come for the benefit cuts, stay for the tax increases.

    1. steelhead

      No sure of the % breakdown here in Idaho, but a 85-90 % allocation to the wealthy would be my assessment. The Legislature decreased marginal state income tax rates across the board (regressive), enacted a paltry tax credit for families to offset the Federal Tax changes and still will not eliminate sales tax collection (6%) on food.

      1. steelhead

        Screwed up ISP service. Another retrain and loss of signal error when I trited to edit my previous comment. No should be Not…

  9. Wukchumni

    An atmospheric river of the pineapple flavor is hitting the state, mostly in the northern reaches and there will be rain!

    And not only that, this is a rather amazing snow level forecast from NOAA, which indicates the possibility of widespread flooding from melted off snow on high.

    “Snow levels are forecast to be above 12k feet today and tonight.”

    1. ambrit

      Wow! Apocalyptic snow! 12K feet of precipitation! We haven’t seen that since one of Horbigers Ice Moon phases!
      (I know it was a phraseology problem. I just couldn’t resist. I’m growing into Geezerhood, a combination of Senility and Cynicism.)

      1. Janie

        The most poorly phrased headline I have seen recently was this one. “Police shoot dead man with pipe.”

        1. blennylips

          Ah Janie, you’ve just stumbled upon a “Crash Blossom”, cataloged over on Language Log!

          “Man who urinated on woman at Drake concert before drink-drive killer girlfriend started brawl over avoids jail”, The Mirror 9/11/2017:

          “Decapitated Members Arrested on Alleged Kidnapping Charges”, Loudwire 9/10/2017

          They got a ton of em:

    2. Ed Miller

      Will Oroville Dam hold? I haven’t been following whether there is sufficient storage capacity for a snow melt deluge. Anyone?

  10. Kevin

    Teachers are like teenagers

    Why would anyone want to be a teacher in this country?
    How many young people are veering away from the profession due to these idiotic allegations and the whole pro guns in school argument?

    Our education system is screwed.

    1. Jim Haygood

      So is its pension system. But that’s a story for the 2020s.

      KRS … Kan’t Realistically Survive.

  11. Queenslawyer

    I detest the whole business model of the internet gene mapping services which is no different than the rest of the surveillance industry passed off as “tech”

    However. As we learned about a year ago, my wife has been suffering from chronic Lyme disease for the better part of her life. As anyone unlucky enough to have experience with this knows, there are a number of common genetic mutations that can play a huge part in one’s ability to heal from these infections. An example is MTHFR but there are a number of others that mostly relate to the body’s innate ability to remove toxins like mold or the biotoxins released by dying Lyme spirochetes.

    There are ways to test for these things without disclosing your entire DNA map, but we are talking about thousands of dollars of tests that are NEVER covered by insurance.

    23&me results were a game changer for us, despite the trade offs

    1. crittermom

      I also “detest the whole business model of the internet gene mapping services which is no different than the rest of the surveillance industry passed off as “tech”” & have never considered sending my DNA to anybody.

      However, it can have an ‘up’ side, as you revealed.
      A week ago my girlfriend was reunited with a daughter she had given up for adoption over 40 years ago because my friends’ sister had sent a DNA sample to such a company.
      Mother & daughter had each been searching for the other for a number of years, so in this case it had a happy ending.

      I still have no reason nor desire to release my DNA for any purposes, though.

      1. kareninca

        I found my cousin, who had been given up for adoption as an infant, through’s gene testing. It was worth it to me.

      2. The Rev Kev

        I kept on getting suggestions from Ancestry to have my DNA done. Trouble is that I read that the DNA information is then sold on to a Google subsidiary that researches immortality for billionaires (no-one else could afford it). If there are promising markers in the DNA, it is then cross-referenced in any Family tree information put together and put on Ancestry to glean the longevity of members of this family. Finally, there is a bit of controversy in who owns that DNA that you paid big money to have analyzed.You could find that a patent may be put on part of your DNA. Don’t laugh – something similar happened years ago for an American black woman because of her blood if I recall correctly.

  12. allan

    “Facebook sent a doctor”

    Have they never heard of HIPAA?
    There must be something in the water in SV that makes people think that
    laws that apply to regular people and entities don’t apply to the anointed.
    MOOC companies such as Coursera claim that they aren’t constrained by FERPA,
    the federal law governing the privacy of student records:

    Coursera and partner institutions have taken the position that offerings on the platform
    are not covered by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
    Online courses do not have “students,” they have “participants.”

    Likewise Facebook could claim that hospitals don’t have “patients”, they have “members”.

    1. L

      The application of FERPA to coursera is a funny one. Technically it turns on the institution not on the provider. Thus your school must meet FERPA the textbook publisher, not so much. And for general open MOOCs this is probably legally sound. The issue becomes when they do this premium bit and that is an open question.

      Cloud providers are in fact a major grey area in education law. Most school districts actually ignore the privacy risks that they pose and pay little attention to record security in their contracts which is a bad decisision since the ultimate responsibility is theirs.

      1. allan

        As if on cue: Amazon ignored FDA requests for more than a decade [Marketwatch]

        … The safety of these and other food products is overseen by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which inspects facilities where food is being made and stored. The goal is to ensure that foodstuff does not cause outbreaks of foodborne illnesses like listeria and salmonella, and to guard against terrorist attacks on the U.S. food supply.

        Food facilities legally have to be registered with the FDA so the regulator knows about them and can inspect them.

        But over the last decade, each time an FDA investigator has come for an inspection, Amazon’s AMZN, -1.19% Lexington warehouse has not been registered, according to reports obtained by MarketWatch in a public records request.

        The FDA also sent Amazon an “untitled letter” over the issue, indicating that not registering was a violation of federal law and allowing it to voluntarily make a change.

        But Amazon has told FDA investigators over the years that it believes it doesn’t need to register, the reports show — prompting, in essence, a nearly decade-long stalemate. …

        Talk to the hand valuation.
        Or, to paraphrase Stalin, how many divisions does the FDA have?

        1. Oregoncharles

          I think they’re actually called “US Marshalls.” Could get ugly, especially with the president picking a fight with Amazon.

    2. HotFlash

      Righty-o! And Uber, Home Depot, etc don’t have ’employees’, they have ‘associates’!

      I await the day when ‘murder’ is ‘career redirection’.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > There must be something in the water in SV that makes people think that
      laws that apply to regular people and entities don’t apply to the anointed.

      That something: libertarianism.

  13. crittermom

    RE:” Bernie Sanders courts black voters anew”:

    I’m sorry to read that Bernie “said nothing about his history as a civil rights activist and his arrest demonstrating against segregation as a college student.”

    While I understand that he is a humble man, I think it’s vitally important that he share that history to help garner support. Especially among black voters.

    Regarding his ‘slighting’ of Obama, at least he didn’t voice my opinion of the former president, as “worst pres evah”. After all, he could have reminded the attendees of how many folks–including blacks–lost their homes under his leadership while the banks were being rewarded.
    I think he may actually have shown restraint in that regard & I understand his reasons.

    Blow your own horn, Bernie!
    After all, look at how far it’s gotten the ‘Trumpet Master’ himself. (All the way to the WH)

    1. diptherio

      On the Bernie-Obama kerfuffle: the Black Socialists of America ain’t having any of it (love these guys/gals)
      Bernie is right; Obama is & always was trash.

      Matter of fact, everything Bernie said about Obama was LIGHT work.

      We’ve been over this time & time again; we won’t let them call @CornelWest crazy for talking about this anymore.

      We’re not going to let them call us crazy either.

      1. David Carl Grimes

        I wonder how the majority of the black population feels about Obama. Do they still love him? Or are they indifferent to him now that black wealth has declined sharply during his presidency?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      MLK Day was a good time to voice support for Trump’s proposal to end US involvement in Syria.

      King talked about violence in Vietnam and elsewhere.

      That would be honoring him with action, in addition to honoring with talk.

      If Sanders did voice support, that’d be great, and perhaps more of us could read about it and discuss here. If he didn’t, it’s still a good time to do so.

    3. Eureka Springs

      Times like this one could quickly identify and publish a black mis-leadership list.

    4. Spring Texan

      Nah, what I love about him is he never makes it about him, his resume, or his personality. He’s all about the policy and making things better.

      Some of his supporters may want to talk about that though. Just so people know.

  14. L

    Mulvaney thwarts Warren inquiry, citing CFPB structure American Banker

    I have to say that for all the stories about an administration in “disarray” the tone that Mulvaney and Pruitt strike is always one of indignant confidence. As a case in point consider this:

    “I could go through the almost eleven pages of single-spaced allegations of all that has supposedly gone wrong at the Bureau under my leadership,” Mulvaney said. “As you can imagine, I have a very different take on what is actually happening at the Bureau (and, tellingly, my information is based on being here and does not rely on sources such as leaked — and sometimes provably false — materials).”

    While private citizens can get fired for flipping the bird to the motorcade it is clear that he truly does feel free to flip the bird to congress in a way that even safer people like DeVos have not. Clearly whatever else is going on he feels like he will be fine.

  15. Jim Haygood

    Update on the more detailed coverage in the Trade Brinksmanship thread:

    China’s commerce ministry threatens immediate and very detailed retaliation to Trump’s $100 billion tariff proposal and said that “under these conditions, the two sides cannot conduct any negotiations.”

    China’s Commerce Ministry spokesman, Gao Feng, called the U.S. action “extremely mistaken” and unjustified, adding that the spat was a struggle between unilateralism and multilateralism. He also said no negotiations were likely in the current circumstances.

    “The result of this behavior is to smash your own foot with a stone,” Gao told a news briefing in Beijing. “If the United States announces an additional $100 billion list of tariffs, China has already fully prepared, and will not hesitate to immediately make, a fierce counter strike”.

    Does Mr Gao sound upset? Sixty days are available to negotiate. China’s stance is that they will not negotiate with a gun held to their head by a maniac very stable genius.

    How long before the Peoples Liberation Army is put on full alert? Flake-o-nomics has consequences, and they’re all bad.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Oops, my bad … the fleet’s already sailed:

      CHINA launched a massive navy drill in the South China Sea with 40 warships in an overt display of military muscle- as three US carrier battle groups passed by. This is the first time China’s refurbished Soviet-era aircraft carrier, Liaoning, has engaged in large-scale live-fire drills.

      Beijing-based military analyst Zhou Chenming told the South China Morning Post: “China wants to show the outside world its determination to defend the fruits of its economic reforms over the past 40 years.

      “Like the US, China’s military might is one of the government’s political tools to protect the country’s national interests.”

      The US has nearly $100 billion of direct investment in China. Wonder how that’s gonna work out for us? Nationalization of US investments is an option for China, if it decides the orange flake needs a vigorous slap upside the head. #Cuckoo

      1. Jim Haygood

        China drastically amps up the rhetoric — GLOVES OFF:

        We Chinese do disdain that Washington, which is in no position to initiate a trade war with China, persists in wielding the tariff baton. We are fully able to inflict as same losses on the US as those on China. The US will have to repay whatever loss and harm it has caused on China with huge economic and political cost.

        China won’t back off. Chinese society will unite around the Party and the government to weather through the hardships.

        Chinese are aware that the only option now is to hit the US hard enough so that it will remember the pain. As the tensions escalate, we want to expand the trade war to all Americans so that they have to choose whether to support Trump’s unscrupulous move or to hold the president accountable.

        Trump’s unprovoked attack on China is about as intelligent as strolling into a bar full of Hells Angels and demanding, “Where’d you learn to be such poseurs, punks? Watching Marlon Brando in The Wild One?”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Unprovoked attack on China?

          According to the Southern China Morning Post, China was warring* and (they think) won.

          When was that day of infamy?

      2. Oregoncharles

        And how much Chinese direct investment in the US? They’re the ones with the cash.

        As someone else said, China has far more to lose in a fight than the US, since it’s the one with an export-based economy. And aircraft carriers won’t help.

        Putin’s Russia did very well by restoring autarky in response to sanctions. Maybe we should hire Putin to administer the plan – like you, I wouldn’t count on Trump’s administrative capacity.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The US has nearly $100 billion of direct investment in China.

        Maybe de-industrializing the heartland and moving production to China wasn’t such a smart idea after all.

  16. freedeomny

    Bernie Sanders courts black voters –

    “Mr. Sanders faced sharp criticism from some African-Americans who thought he had reduced the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama, to merely being what Mr. Sanders called a “charismatic individual.”

    Obama COULD have gone down in history as a great president if….if….he had prosecuted Wall Street for it’s crimes by holding it’s chief executives/architects accountable. Now Dems have their panties in knots because Trump happened. Obama is charismatic and he is smart. I often wonder if he is honest enough in the form of self-reflection to realize that he f*cked up.

    1. Carla

      “Obama is charismatic and he is smart. I often wonder if he is honest enough in the form of self-reflection to realize that he f*cked up.” He may be self-aware enough, but there has been not a single sign that he is honest enough to make such an admission, even to himself.

      1. barefoot charley

        He auditioned for his job, reassured his investors by peddling their snake oil, retained personal popularity while running his party deeper into their chosen ditch, and retired with honors to a lifetime of high-paid speechifying and inspirational drivel-writing. And he gets his very own temple despoiling a lovely park!

        He did and does what he’s paid for, and if he didn’t do it, it still gets done. Just remember, the Republicans are responsible for Trump, he said so.

        1. jrs

          I really don’t know that their motives are knowable or even all that relevant. But speaking of actors I was thinking how Trump is as much a B movie actor as Reagan was, pretending to give a @#$# about lower income people, when of course doesn’t. And the screw gets tighter.

      2. David Carl Grimes

        Bernie is right. The first black president was just a charismatic individual. None of Obama’s actions lived up to his soaring rhetoric. Obama was no MLK. Not now, nor will ever be an MLK.

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      It is very doubtful that Obama “f*cked up.” What is failure to us, to Obama, was a feature, or series of them, not bugs.

      His biggest failure, again from HIS perspective, was the screw-up in achieving the main goals of his cat-food commission; a broad side volley of damage to the remaining vestiges of our safety net.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Does Sanders just want those votes, or will Sanders be frank (beyond just the ‘charismatic individual’ and more reflective of what we read here) about his opinions of Obama, which is the ultimate act any progressive can do with those he/she cares about?

      “It’s painful but that’s how I feel.”

    4. James Graham

      Obama COULD have gone down in history as a great president if….if….he had prosecuted Wall Street for it’s crimes by holding it’s chief executives/architects accountable.

      I await specification of the actual laws violated by those who were guilty of “crimes.”

      (Or is simply being a banking executive sufficient evidence for you?)

      1. JohnnyGL

        Sarbanes-Oxley provided the legal grounds to smash through the ‘I’m the CEO and I know nothing’ defense that was used so successfully for so long. All top execs had to sign off on their internal controls and make reps and warranties about veracity of their financial statements.

        There’s a couple of links with former S&L regulator Bill Black who prosecuted numerous frauds in the 1990s. He’s been shouting from the rooftops to anyone who’ll listen for years that there’s massive control fraud throughout all major banks. In these links he’s talking about Citi and the very important whistleblowers that provided extensive evidence with regard to fraud.

        It’s clear that billions should have been clawed back and dozens of execs should have gone to jail in this particular case alone.

    5. JohnnyGL

      Oh, there you go, talking about policy and stuff….don’t worry, here’s someone from the CBC who’s here to reassure you that everything Obama did was perfectly fine and all the opposition was just racism….

      Mr. Richmond, the Congressional Black Caucus leader, said he did not think Mr. Sanders had slighted Mr. Obama. The mistake Mr. Sanders made, according to Mr. Richmond, was that he did not go the next step and explain why Democrats incurred so many down-ticket defeats during the Obama years.

      “The real question is why it happened and it’s no secret: Everybody underestimated the backlash that would come to the first African-American president,” he said.

      I know Dems think voters are dumb, but this is exceptional. I’m supposed to believe that all those people stepped into the voting both and voted against the D candidate at every level because they hated having a black president? Wow…

    6. drumlin woodchuckles

      Obama would rather go down in history as America’s first billionaire ex-president. That goal is what guided all his major decisions.

  17. integer

    Behold the brilliance of Thomas Friedman’s latest article:

    Is Putin a C.I.A. Agent? NYT

    President Trump’s steadfast reluctance to say anything negative about Russia is so striking that a former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, once observed that Vladimir Putin manages Trump as if he we were a Russian intelligence “asset.” He may be. But if I were a Russian citizen, I’d be asking this question: Is Putin a U.S. agent?

    Why? Because Putin has undertaken so many actions in recent years that contributed to the weakening of Russia’s economy and human capital base that you have to wonder whether he’s secretly on the C.I.A.’s payroll.


    1. David May

      Is Thomas Friedman really stupid? What if his elaborate ruse to appear dumb is, in fact, not a ruse and he is actually just stupid? Anyway, it’s a great excuse to turn to Matt Taibbi’s sublime takedown of the Moustache of Understanding:

      Thomas Friedman needs 461 pages to say, “Shit happens.” Joan of Arc and Charles Manson had more in common.

      Thomas Friedman was once a man of great influence. His columns were must-reads for every senator and congressperson. He helped spread the globalization gospel and push us into war in Iraq. But he’s destined now to be more famous as a literary figure.

      No modern writer has been lampooned more. Hundreds if not thousands of man-hours have been spent teaching robots to produce automated Friedman-prose, in what collectively is a half-vicious, half-loving tribute to a man who raised bad writing to the level of an art form.

      We will remember Friedman for interviewing 76 percent of the world’s taxi drivers, for predicting “the next six months will be critical” on 14 occasions over two and a half years (birthing the neologism, “the Friedman unit”), and for his unmatched, God-given ability to write nonsensical metaphors, like his classic “rule of holes”: “When you’re in one, stop digging. When you’re in three, bring a lot of shovels.”

        1. wilroncanada

          fresno dan
          But Friedman never studied Marx.
          “I am not a Marxist.” Beep, Beep

      1. integer

        Heh. My personal favorite is Taibbi’s takedown of Friedman’s “The World Is Flat”:

        I think it was about five months ago that Press editor Alex Zaitchik whispered to me in the office hallway that Thomas Friedman had a new book coming out. All he knew about it was the title, but that was enough; he approached me with the chilled demeanor of a British spy who has just discovered that Hitler was secretly buying up the world’s manganese supply. Who knew what it meant–but one had to assume the worst

        “It’s going to be called ‘The Flattening,'” he whispered. Then he stood there, eyebrows raised, staring at me, waiting to see the effect of the news when it landed. I said nothing.

        It turned out Alex had bad information; the book that ultimately came out would be called ‘The World Is Flat.’ It didn’t matter. Either version suggested the same horrifying possibility. Thomas Friedman in possession of 500 pages of ruminations on the metaphorical theme of flatness would be a very dangerous thing indeed. It would be like letting a chimpanzee loose in the NORAD control room; even the best-case scenario is an image that could keep you awake well into your 50s.

    2. fresno dan

      April 6, 2018 at 11:13 am

      For all his authoritarian tendencies, it is likely that most Russians think primarily about Putin’s impact on the economy, just as is typically the case among voters in the United States. On that front, Putin has a very good record.

      According to data from the I.M.F. Russia’s economy had plunged in the 1990s under the Yeltsin presidency. When Putin took over in 1998, per capita income in the country had shrunk by more than 40 percent from its 1990 level. This is a far sharper downturn than the United States saw in the Great Depression. Since Putin took power its per capita income has risen by more than 115 percent, an average annual growth rate of more than 3.9 percent.

      While this growth has been very unequal, that was also the case even as Russia’s economy was collapsing under Yeltsin.
      Friedman can’t figure out that IN FACT Putin was much better than Yeltsin for the same reason Fredman can’t figure out that most people didn’t partake in any increase in their standard of living because of a rising stock market…..
      Hmmmmm….are the Clintons part of the KGB???
      Actually, I think the rich in both countries have teamed up…..

      1. integer

        It is quite an achievement that Friedman, within two paragraphs, can seriously put forward the idea that Trump is a Russian intelligence asset, and Putin is a CIA asset, leading to the logical conclusion that Trump is a CIA asset, being managed, via proxy, by Putin. My head hurts.

        1. fresno dan

          April 6, 2018 at 12:54 pm

          I think the only logical conclusion is that Clinton purposefully appeared to lose the electoral college to obfuscate that she is actually running both countries surreptitiously ever since she used the great financial crises to wrest control of Goldman Sachs from the trilateral commision….from her underground command bunker located beneath TRMS.
          and to use Trump as a false flag so that people think Stormy Daniels is not her girlfriend.
          It fits the facts!

  18. Summer

    “The media loves a good labor stoppage.”

    Yep, that was actually written as the first sentence. “Media” – with no specifications, “loves” – ???, and “good” – I guess as opposed to the bad ones.

    I hope the teachers win and their show your rights attitude spreads.

    And I hope the media, in their new spirit of “love” for labor stoppages revive their coverage of labor issues and start covering them with gusto no matter who is in offfice.

  19. Summer

    MIT’s AlterEgo headset can read words you say in your head CNET (DL

    Another great tech invention that could do wonders if I ever become handicapped. This time help has arrived if I ever lose my ability to speak. The only problem is that if my hypothetical future disabled self can’t afford all these helpful gadgets, I just may as well be in the 12th century.
    Doesn’t the process of physically speaking use muscles and what happens when you stop using them even when you are perfecrly capable?

    MIT …I wonder what defense dept or national security agency is behind this tech, which appears to come out of a desire for more enhanced interrogation techniques?

  20. fresno dan

    When asked what he (Trey Gowdy) thinks the point of the Republican Party is after seven years of observing it from the inside, he says, “The goal is to win.” Period. He’s learned some hard lessons in Washington. But they’re the correct ones.

    Another cutting line: “I have not figured out how to commercialize conservatism as some of my critics have.”
    The thing about making a buck is its actually better NOT to believe anything (other than in the almighty dollar), you just have to get people to believe you believe in THEIR beliefs – to get them to open their wallets. As PT Barnum is advertised to have once said, there is a partisan sucker born every minute….

  21. David F

    Facebook sent a doctor on a secret mission to ask hospitals to share patient data

    A ‘mais bien sûr’ if ever there was one

    Happy Friday

  22. JohnnyGL

    From NYT on Sanders on not touting his Civil Rights Activism:

    “Somebody might be interested in what I did 50 years ago, that’s fine,” Mr. Sanders said with an evident lack of enthusiasm. “Or what I did yesterday. But what people have got to start focusing on is not me. It’s how we transform America.”

    My goodness, it’s almost like he’s a modest person at times. How horrible! :) How un-political! :) Americans really hate that stuff! :)

    Side note, it’s crazy how on-message he is. Still saying ‘it’s not me, it’s us’.

  23. JohnnyGL

    The Sanders event coverage from establishment print media seems to be….”OMG, he wasn’t as nice to Obama as he possibly could be!!?!?!?”

    Have these people read what they say about Trump? Have they read what other politicians say about Trump?

    By comparison….Erdogan just called Netanyahu a ‘terrorist’ the other day. It’s true of course, but it seems like a big deal for one world leader to call another a ‘terrorist’.

  24. Tooearly

    About the secure communications piece , my own favorite example is when doing reference checks on prospective employees and the former employer is being risk averse to sharing information to ask about the weather, as in “seems like their may be some severe storms brewing our way, what about over there?”

  25. fresno dan

    Why the U.S. Fails to Understand Its Adversaries The American Conservative

    I agree with everything in the article, but I think it omits the actual most important point. The US has a religious belief (i.e., a belief on based NOT on objective fact, but a belief based in faith because of indoctrination) that it is God’s chosen as the deliverer of truth, justice, and the AMERICAN way, the indispensable nation, the shining city on a hill, the exemplar of righteousness.
    Once you think so highly of yourself, it is easy to believe all others are your inferiors in every way….

  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Car trouble brings Elon Musk back to earth FT

    For now, that seems to imply that he will be too busy to bring car trouble to Mars.

    “Damage localized to only one planet.”

  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Why we need social housing in the US, Guardian.

    An influx of publicly owned, efficiently built apartments would add to the housing supply while minimizing the displacement risks caused by luxury developments

    How about the ‘Do no harm to Nature first’ solution of not building more until we have found a way to house people in all those empty buildings?

    1. Oregoncharles

      The US had a lot of public housing, and still has some. Most of it was horrible.

      1. JohnnyGL

        And it’s been replaced with neoliberal ideas like Section 8 vouchers/subsidies and didn’t improve, just got moved around a bit.

      2. Harold

        I don’t think all of it was horrible. But a lot of it was, because it received no maintenance whatsoever after being built. Why don’t Sweden and Singapore have these problems? Or do they?

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