Links 5/14/18

Bear smashes car window in Rockaway, eats two dozen assorted cupcakes inside

Why I Think the Stock Market Cannot Crash in 2018 Wolf Street. Bold call. Yves: “It’s only a one shot repatriation. But they may spread out the purchases. The market in 1987 was fueled by ‘buybacks’ of a different form: hostile takeovers. 3/4 of the stock price appreciation in 1987 was due to that. It still crashed. People in Japan also said the stock market would never crash, the capital flows were too large. Never say never. Tail risk is bigger than you think.”

Why the financial crisis in Argentina matters WaPo

Russian bank head sees bailout costs rising FT

Top bunk for $30 a day: Life inside one of Airbnb’s modern boardinghouses WaPo. A charming story, but let us remember AirBnB’s real business: A platform for regulatory arbitrage by property owners who want to go into the hotel business without being regulated like a hotel.

Deadly Convenience: Keyless Cars and Their Carbon Monoxide Toll NYT


Shiite cleric Sadr leads in Iraq’s initial election results AP

The Iran nuke deal and the Peter Drucker rule Orange County Register


Wilson accuses Coveney of having head ‘stuck in sand’ BBC. Wilson is a DUP MP, Coveney is the Irish Foreign Minister. Wilson: “The fact is that the border issues can all be dealt with by technology but Coveney and co have stuck their heads in the sand, refusing to even consider this solution” [waves hands]. It seems that elite collective delusion has reached cargo cult proportions.

Theresa May asks to “trust her” on delivering Brexit Open Europe

Too Few to Mention LRB (the reference in the headline).

Italy’s anti-establishment parties set to pick prime minister FT

History will judge ETA as a failed terrorist group, but there are lessons to be learned London School of Economics


The Double Standard of America’s China Trade Policy Dani Rodrik, Project Syndicate

North Korea

China, North Korea remain reluctant brothers in arms Asia Times

Peace talks ignite land buying frenzy along South Korea’s fortified border Reuters

Putin’s Language (R)Evolution Moscow Times. Interesting.

RIP the Trans-Atlantic Alliance, 1945-2018 Foreign Policy

The Fracturing of the Transatlantic Community The American Interest

New Cold War

How the C.I.A. Is Waging an Influence Campaign to Get Its Next Director Confirmed NYT. A Times reporter comments: “Funny how CIA sometimes is willing to step out of the shadows, or at least part-way out of the shadows….” Indeed.

Did the FBI Have a Spy in the Trump Campaign? National Review

The public case against Trump Axios

Game Over, Trump: An Ancient Order Of Franciscan Monks Has Released A 13th-Century Tapestry Depicting Donald Trump Colluding With Russian Officials ClickHole

Trump Transition

Education Department Unwinds Unit Investigating Fraud at For-Profits NYT

Donald Trump may be the best thing that ever happened to George W. Bush WaPo. In WaPo’s Style section, therefore important (really). Not only is this a puff piece for the warmongering toads at the The Atlantic Council, it erases the role of liberal Democrats in rehabilitating Bush. Grim hilarity: “The [Atlantic Council] has considered giving Bush the award for the past few years, but the Iraq War was always the stumbling block.” I can’t think why. Hillary voted for it, after all.

Health Care

A near-universal health-care plan that wouldn’t break the bank Editorial Board, WaPo. Another marketplace! With “skin in the game”! But different and better subsidies! Please kill me now.

‘The Time for Single-Payer Is Now’: Countering Corporate Lies, Doctors Run Ad Providing the Facts About Medicare for All Common Dreams

When Credit Scores Become Casualties Of Health Care Kaiser Health News

Net Neutrality

The FCC says net neutrality changes June 11. We’ll see A Journal of Musical Things

Dems increasingly see ‘electoral dynamite’ in net neutrality fight The Hill. A party with no core principles casts about for an issue. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

What Google is doing with your data Queensland Times. Yikes:

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims said he was briefed recently by US experts who had intercepted, copied and decrypted messages sent back to Google from mobiles running on the company’s Android operating system.

The experts, from computer and software corporation Oracle, claim Google is draining roughly one gigabyte of mobile data monthly from Android phone users’ accounts as it snoops in the background, collecting information to help advertisers.

A gig of data currently costs about $3.60-$4.50 a month. Given more than 10 million Aussies have an Android phone, if Google had to pay for the data it is said to be siphoning it would face a bill of between $445 million and $580 million a year.

OK, Oracle wants to stick the shiv in. That doesn’t mean they’re wrong on the facts.

Newsagents to sell ‘porn passes’ to visit X-rated websites anonymously under new government plans Independent. “The 16-digit cards will allow browsers to avoid giving personal details online when asked to prove their age. Instead, they would show shopkeepers a passport or driving licence when buying the pass.” What could go wrong?

How ProtonMail is pushing email privacy standards VentureBeat


Police find large weapons cache in Waikiki raid prompted by disturbing online posts Hawaii News Now. This keeps happening.

Guillotine Watch

Nota bene: Flipping modern masters Felix Salmon

Class Warfare

Job Guarantee: Marxist or Keynesian Stumbling and Mumbling

AI and the hopes for utopian socialism AEI (!).

Teachers Are Leading the Revolt Against Austerity The Nation

Legislature Slashes Pension Benefits for Government Workers WestWorld. Nice to see Sirota coming up to speed on private equity.

Caste-based politics returns to India as Dalits seek equality FT

Don’t shrink the role of markets—expand it The Economist

Major depression on the rise among everyone, new data shows NBC. So, go long pharma?

How to handle the dark days of depression Nature

How Many D.C. Suburban Office Parks Became Ghost Towns The American Conservative

The Wizard of Q Harpers. Read all the way to the end.

Antidote du jour:

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. The Rev Kev

    “Deadly Convenience: Keyless Cars and Their Carbon Monoxide Toll”

    Over fifty years ago Ralph Nader wrote the book “Unsafe at Any Speed” when he talked about the dangers of cars and how they were constructed. Congratulations! Through modern high tech, there is now a way that cars can kill you even when they are stopped completely.

    1. Olga

      I just had a key-less rental for the weekend – and it happened to me twice.
      Both were surprises, since it did not occur to me that you can lock the car with the fob, while it is still running. But the second time was a real shocker, as I made sure the car was off. The rental car companies also need to warn their customers. The lesson: don’t leave the car, unless it says “goodbye” on the screen.

      1. Ook

        The article didn’t state any advantage to starting a car with a fob in your pocket as opposed to placed physically into a slot. Probably because there is no advantage to this design. As for the warning beeps that Toyota is hiding behind, I know some drivers who will hear a beep, shrug, and move on, because in modern cars you can expect beeps for all sorts of things that can be ignored.
        So they replaced a simple, working system (physical key slots) with expensive technology (try replacing one of these things) that it seems nobody asked for, and which is more dangerous to boot.

    2. JBird

      Both Nader’s driver incinerating cars and now the poison gas cars could/can be fixed fairly cheaply, in the current case for $5 a car, but it does cost money. Even considering the cumulative cost, the amount of money is really nothing especially considering the costs of the deaths. I want to know what these particular human beings who value money more than they value people are thinking.

      1. GF

        Remember the exploding gas tank Pintos? IIRC the fix was $11 and Ford determined it would cost the company less to pay the dead and injured victim’s claims than provide a fix.

        1. Westcoastdeplorable

          Same deal with GM and the exploding side-mounted gas tanks on pickup trucks.

        2. The Rev Kev

          Not so much dead as horribly burnt alive as in on fire trapped in a burning car.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        I’ll speculate two answers to your last question — even though you asked it rhetorically.
        1) Corporate Individuals are not human. They were born with a natural drive to value money more than they value people. The humans who serve the Corporate Individuals are just doing their job and following orders.
        2) How better to answer your question than with a quote from the ferris wheel scene in “The Third Man”

        Martins: Have you ever seen any of your victims?

        Harry Lime: You know, I never feel comfortable on these sort of things. Victims? Don’t be melodramatic. Look down there. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax – the only way you can save money nowadays.

  2. allan

    Dems: Trying for House Gains, Democrats Bless Moderates and Annoy Liberals [NYT]

    … Mr. Tucker said he wanted “to appeal to different kinds of people,” from his party’s most progressive voices to disgruntled Republicans, and he defended his record in the state legislature, which he portrayed as both proudly Democratic and bipartisan.

    “It’s important to recognize that when you say, ‘Oh, here’s a candidate who could win,’ it’s not about being moderate enough to attract moderates,” he said. “It’s about being visionary and innovative and passionate enough to excite people, to get them out and vote as well.” …

    If you have visionarily innovative passionate bipartisanship, who needs single payer?

    Red to Blue™: The new consumer warning label.

      1. ewmayer

        And after the disruption, the much-needed healing™. (Do an in-page search for ‘healing’ there). Just don’t forget to be “smart” in how you go about it.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        And if she indeed runs for minority leader in 2019, she will be elected by the TTP “majority of the minority” Democrats.

    1. Pookah Harvey

      And whatever you do as a Democratic candidate, you must never promise the people “ponies”. Only the donors get “ponies”.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Red to Blue™: The new consumer warning label.

      And you get candidates who are willing — perhaps, even, eager — to spend four hours a day on the phone groveling to the donor class for money. Got your passion right here.

    1. newcatty

      Ewe made me smile. We have a girl cat who is a large kitty. Members of our family affectionately refer to her as chubby. I defend her and say she is just fluffy! And, of course, its also norm for her breed. Her cohabiting girl kitty is sleek and shiny. Think the contrast emphasizes Fluffy’s fluffiness.

      1. Oregoncharles

        My mother had a pair of Siamese that were affectionately referred to as Thin One and Fat One. They had names, but I don’t remember those. They made quite a different sound when dropped from about thigh level, referred to as the Clunk Test.


    2. ewmayer

      Ewe’ve just reminded me of a classic joke in the Aussies-making-fun-of-their-Kiwi-neighbors genre, which frequently involves the Kiwi shepherds’ (and by extension, all Kiwi mens’) alleged excessive fondness for their ovine charges:

      Kiwi bloke carrying a ewe under one arm comes into the bedroom where his wife is lounging in bed and announces, “see, darling, this is the pig I have to sleep with when you’ve got the shits with me.” Wife looks up from her glossy fashion mag and with a you-must-be-daft tone of voice replies, “I’ll have you know that’s a sheep, not a pig.”

      To which the bloke replies, “I’ll have you know that I wasn’t speaking to you.”

  3. Alex

    Re History will judge ETA as a failed terrorist group, but there are lessons to be learned

    Dunno… The Basque country got the most self-rule and most financial autonomy of all the Spanish regions, including Catalonia and incidentally it has been the only region with the history of violent resistance. It seems that it helps to have your demands backed by some violence.

    1. Ignacio

      Too simple, too bad, completely mistaken.
      The Concierto Vasco (the fiscal agreement governing the Basque Country) is much older than ETA, and has nothing to owe to ETA terror, but with negotiations within democratic parties. It’s existence is owed to the Guerras Carlistas at the end of XIXth century and its legal basis were included in the Spanish Constitution (1978) after Franco and not because of terror fear, but because democracy had to trascend Franco’s dictatorship that interrupted former versions of the agreement. That constitution was widely accepted in a referendum and no terror attack imposed it.

      It always surprises me how too many commenters here believe the Basque fiscal arrangement is “due to ETA terror”. It’s kind of a meme

      1. Alex

        Btw, who has better terms, Pais Vasco with their Concierto or Navarra with the Convenio Economico? As far as I understand (from reading a bit on wiki, I’m definitely not an expert) both regions had similar status pre-1936 but then Basque country experienced much more ETA-related violence than Navarra. As close to the perfect experiment as we can get

        1. Ignacio

          The terms are renegotiated periodically. Historically Basque nationalist parties have had more political leverage than Navarre parties because the former usually have more parliamentary seats and when the central government has no absolute majority has typically resorted to agreements with nationalistic parties (usually conservatives) in Basque Country or Catalonia that could provide enough support for a stable legislature. Navarre nationalistic parties have less seats than Basque nationalists because there is less population and because Navarre is sociologically/geographycally divided in two halves: the southern half where nationalists are weaker and the northern nationalist stronghold.

      2. Anon

        Do you think Madrid would attempt to engage the Basque region with the same impunity they recently used in Catalonia? My guess is they wouldn’t want the casualties.

        1. Ignacio

          It seems you, and many more like you, look at political conflcts as automatic wars.

            1. Ignacio

              It may be unfair, I admit it. I am sorry if it sounded too blunt but I am tired about war and violent dialectic everywhere. Sorry to blame it on Anon.

      3. Oregoncharles

        I’m not familiar with the details, but there’s a logical issue with your point: “because democracy had to trascend Franco’s dictatorship that interrupted former versions of the agreement.”

        IOW, the Concierto Vasco had lapsed and was brought back after Franco died. There wasn’t a Basque terror campaign going on at that time? Sure looks like buying them off, by your own account.

        It’s awkward, but there’s a long history of peaceful campaigns being strengthened by violence in the background, whether it’s the Deacons and Black Panthers during the Civil Rights movement or the guerrilla activity that coincided with Gandhi’s campaign for independence.

        1. Ignacio

          Yes, there was a campaign, but before Franco’s death it was directed against the military, against the regime and there were attacks that got quite wide popular support. That changed very soon.

    1. Carolinian

      The link worked for me but didn’t seem terribly interesting. Piece is in the standard genre of establishment sniffing–i.e. Brian Williams saying that his web critics were nerds sitting in their parents’ basements eating Cheetoes–and archly suggests that rightwing conspiracy theories are the new literature of the Booboisie.

      Whereas some of us would hold that just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

      The writer tips his hand when he says he once worked for Slate, onetime source of all that is arch and insidery.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I disagree. As I said, read all the way to the end. Here it is:

        The Q tale may be loathsome and deeply wicked, a magnet for bigots and ignoramuses whose ugly dreams it caters to and ratifies, but as a feat of New Age storytelling I find it curiously encouraging. The imagination lives. A talented bard can still grab and keep an audience. Now for a better story, with higher themes. Now for the bracing epic of recovery that the dark wizards have shown us how to write.

        He’s right. Seen that? It would certainly be interesting to see the modern equivalent of the utopian fiction of the Victorian and Populist Era in this form. Where is it? Maybe somebody is writing it, even now…. Or it’s taken the form of an MRPG….

  4. bronco

    DC suburban office parks that are empty , Oh no!!!!!.

    Ever seen a big ole blood filled tick laying on the ground after a dog manages to scratch it off? Huge bloated body lying helpless , wee little legs waving in the air .

    In this analogy , I think the taxpayer is the dog , or maybe the dogs foot, or maybe the tick is the taxpayer? Its confusing but fun to watch either way.

    One thing about these vacant parks , that rarely gets mentioned is that common sense is not a primary driver of any of it. As a builder I have worked on brand new buildings being built across the street from empty strip malls . I’ve built new houses across from foreclosed houses plenty of times too. Whats lost is that accounting and tax code issues have a huge footprint in our industries that encourages bizarre behavior . It causes things to be done that make no objective sense to the average person.

    Oh look that house has been empty for 5 years why doesn’t someone move in? The city will let the house fall down over $1000 in back taxes !! Why build new when that landlord over there has 3 empty store fronts? Why does the building have a for rent sign with a phone number but no one ever calls back if you leave a message? Why do they advertise for tenants , then refuse to answer the phone? Why not lower the rent to get tenants if that’s the issue ? What perverse incentive causes 70% occupancy to be better than 100% ?

    Why build a new Dunkin Donuts across the street from an existing Dunkin Donuts? The old Dunkin Donuts was positively killing it now they are both barely getting by???

    1. Kevin

      Throw away that rear view mirror, this is pedal-to-the-metal full speed ahead capitalism!!

      1. Oregoncharles

        That isn’t what he said: “Whats lost is that accounting and tax code issues have a huge footprint in our industries ”

        IOW, regulatory interference causing obviously nonsensical behavior. It happens – I just ran into an example in Oregon’s enforcement of the health(?) code, resulting in openly anti-environmental regulation. Building is completely wrapped up in codes of various sorts, from odd tax law (depreciation of real estate – which doesn’t depreciate) to, zoning.

        Capitalist stupidity is a factor, too.

        1. bronco

          Not just regulatory but the ridiculous tax code. That decisions for your business have to be run by a tax accountant and lead to perfectly good spaces left vacant or knocked down to be written off as a loss. I know a guy who last year had his accountant tell him he was making too much money so he bought a brand new truck for $60,000. There was nothing wrong with the old truck and obviously he lost 15 or 20k just driving the new truck off the lot. It reminded me of that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer is telling jerry about tax write offs and Jerry asks him if he knows what a tax write off is. which he doesn’t , he just has some vague idea that its good.

          So ya spend 60,000 to save 20,000 or “rent” a store front but don’t get a tenant in it. Don’t renovate build a new one and leave the other one empty so the copper gets ripped out of the walls so you can bulldoze it .

          Don’t use tax money to open up homeless shelters , instead spend millions on crooked park benches so they can’t sleep.

          Simplify the tax code so I don’t need an accountant and fix health care and I’ll buy 2 new trucks and hire 2 guys to drive them and 2 other guys to ride shotgun. Instead all the money flows to the parasites that gum up the gears of production.

          The useless eaters aren’t welfare recipients who struggle every day , they are the bankers and the real estate lawyers and agents that take huge slices off the top while obstructing or misdirecting the use of capital.

    2. DonCoyote

      And, of course, providing concrete material benefits is why even the donors can’t have *nice* ponies:

      The roots of this disaster can be found in the Carter administration, when the Community Reinvestment Act began encouraging riskier housing loans…When the bubble burst beginning in 2007, the calamitous effects were felt in the commercial real estate market as well

      Not the fault of the financial community for making the stupid loans; no, the fault of the guvmint for making (a very few of) the stupid loans possible.

      If corporations are people, we need corporate jail and corporate death penalties ASAP

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        Nice catch. I saw that unsubstantiated propaganda insert as well. Happens a lot in Am Con articles, even otherwise good ones. Their erudite contributors often use slick, authoritative statements of “fact” this way, pushing right wing tenets that are tangential to the focus of the article, but comforting to the readers.

        Only the New York Times does it better, and their spin is always in the precisely opposite direction.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Yes, very good catch, thank you.

          So often, TAC and the saner conservative factions are good on vividly characterizing symptoms, and then go astray on diagnosis…

      2. Anon

        Yes. I flagged that same paragraph. Only a Notre Dame grad (see: author of article) would write an article mimicking stale theory.

  5. Lona

    I appreciate the link to the article about Q since a close relative is a devotee and I was having trouble understanding the phenonenon. I think the author underestimates these devotees though, when he calls them bigots and ignoramuses. It seems to me that they may be people who have the awareness to realize that the system has gone horribly wrong and are looking for some ‘hope and change’. I’ve noticed that the wildest conspiracy theories contain enough truth to make one think that there may be something to it.

    1. David

      I think Harper’s made the author call them names at the end so the publication wouldn’t be accused by the mob of harboring sympathy for the enemy. It seemed out of line with the shrewd insightfulness shown throughout the article.

    2. Amfortas the Hippie

      the vast sewer of “conspiracy theory” is what I first encountered when I finally got a computer(1999).
      I was enthralled, and didn’t believe a word…until I came across things that resonated with some of my own weirder experiences. So I dug…foia docs, congressional transcripts,declassified rand reports, on and on.
      My conclusion in all of this is that “conspiracy theory” as a round file is itself a CIA Psyop..intended to relegate leaked stories of Black Ops to the same level of nonsense as Flat Earth or Faked Moon Landings.
      Turns out that “our” government, and numerous corporate entities, do all manner of evil(Operation Ajax, meddling in Central and South America,MKUltra etc)…so much, in fact, that becoming aware of even a portion of it can send one into depression and existential paralysis.
      Ordinary folks genuinely don’t want to know about torture at Abu Graib, and such…it’s too big and ugly…and to acknowledge such things serves to make them want to “do something about it”, which is daunting, indeed.
      During that long ago deep dive into Tin Foil-land, I came across “Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars”. antisemitic and crazy as it was, the Model it provided for how one with sufficient access to the levers of power could manipulate a civilisation has been extraordinarily useful to me in contemplating things that show up in the news.
      Thinking of Society as a circuit board, and introducing capacitors, diodes, transistors and voltage gates here and there to engineer the desired outcome.
      Fascinating stuff.
      At root, us’ns will never know what all is and has been done in our names…we’ll never know the extent of manipulation and other shenanigans. But I reckon keeping a healthy skepticism is important, even if we can’t see all of the tentacles.

      1. JBird

        My conclusion in all of this is that “conspiracy theory” as a round file is itself a CIA Psyop..intended to relegate leaked stories of Black Ops to the same level of nonsense as Flat Earth or Faked Moon Landings.

        And you are correct, because the CIA did do exactly that in the 1960s to hinder any whistleblowers. No tin foil required.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Afterthought: I’ve ranted before about the illegitimacy of “conspiracy theory” as a round file (great phrase – I’ll steal it). Conspiracies are actually very common, not implausible at all. SOME CTs are highly implausible – but once you say that, it’s obvious that you have to make a case. Dismissing them as “just a conspiracy theory” is intellectually dishonest, a dodge.

          Some official theories are highly implausible, too, an obvious coverup. But it’s usually impossible to come up with a better theory without the resources of a government. It may be possible to poke numerous holes in the official story, though.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            aye. a close family member was with the dia during Nam.
            The Jiso drawer is always full(jury is still out).
            I reckon most of it is greed driven skulduggery(like that’s ok,lol), but some of even the more mundane things are rather scary.
            Hypersecrecy breeds CT, and existential, epistemological, confusion.
            If “They” opened all the books tomorrow, most folks wouldn’t believe them.

            1. Oregoncharles

              There’s a science fiction book about that, I think by Brunner, back in the 60s. Wish I remembered the title, but it’s very prophetic: the government is run by the Mob, and there’s a vast computer system with everything on it.

              Someone releases a worm that, on a given date, just opens the faucet and dumps everything.

              What he didn’t realize was that there’d be so much that most of it would be lost in the cloud.

      2. Lord Koos

        Al Gore was a guest on David Letterman’s show several years ago, Dave asked him, “You’ve been in the white house, how much do we really know about what is really going on?” Gore says, “About ten percent”.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Thinking of Society as a circuit board, and introducing capacitors, diodes, transistors and voltage gates here and there to engineer the desired outcome.

        That might “work”… But society is organic. One might argue that treating an animal like an electrical circuit is a radical simplification amounting to torture. As we see!

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          I reckon a defining feature of anyone who considers themselves a master at that level is hubris and a disgustingly inflated self image.
          That such creatures think of the rest of us in terms of instrumentality should be quite evident, by now. To them we’re all just a collection of buttons that they push in order to nudge(!) us one way or another.

  6. Geo

    Iraqi Elections: “Officials said turnout was only 44 percent, the lowest ever since Saddam’s ouster. […] a general mood of apathy that kept many Iraqis away from the polls.”

    Looks like we were successful in exporting American style democracy. Mission Accomplished? /s

    1. The Rev Kev

      I can think of one reason why turnout may have been poor in some areas. When cities in Syria like Aleppo were captured the Russians sent in sappers to clear out all the munitions and destroy all the booby-traps left by the Jihadists. Then would begin the work of clearing the rubble, collecting the dead, distribute food & water, connecting up electricity once more, get running water going again and so on.
      When the Iraqi/US coalition captured cities in Iraq like Mosul, they bused the people back in so that they could live there and vote in these elections. However, the dead were left there, nobody came to clear out the booby-traps, nobody did anything about connecting up essential services. They were left to fend for themselves. I wonder how these districts voted? Or if they even did.

        1. Olga

          Given RevKev’s response, the comment after makes no sense. Unless snarkiness was the point… The Chechen war instigated and supported by KSA and certain western intelligence agencies, as most Chechens are of a fairly moderate Islamic persuasion. After the jihadists were defeated, Groznyi was rebuilt into a modern metropolis. Not sure what is wrong with that… or would you prefer that people struggled along the way of today’s Mosul?

          1. Byron "Hug" Niceman

            My conspiracy theories have their own conspiracy theories. Funny, like when Federal bombings of Groznyi, while targeting a market and other civilian areas, mysteriously spared both Basaev and Khattab’s command posts, whose locations were well known to Russian intelligence. But the events of the summer and fall of 1999 brought Putin to power anyway. One could even say saving those of “moderate Islamic persuasion”, meaning tolerant of corrupt police officials, from the “Salafist” outlawing bribery. Given a Tchetchen is not disposed to following Russian authority ever since in 1944, when every single Tchetchen or Ingush was deported by the Soviets to other parts of the Union or liquidated.

            But turns out, it was the Saudis all along. But how does one explain the silent terror still pervading Groznyi? Jehovah’s Witnesses? Freemasons?

            1. SoldierSvejk

              Chechens were deported because they cooperated with the Nazis (knowing a little bit of history helps – usually). Sorta like the Tatars in Crimea. My parental units had them as neighbours in Central Asia during the war. For those of us who have spent our lives with aftershocks of the two WWs rewriting history is not a fun exercise – nor is it a particularly helpful one.

    2. rd

      From what I have seen, it appears that the graft, corruption, and incompetence of the past Iraqi governments made many people not want to vote at all. Al Sadr has a very effective organization and campaigned on good governance instead of religious and ethnic differences and was able to capitalize on it.

      If he can actually deliver, he will end up with real support.

  7. SimonGirty

    The KHN piece has me wondering if anybody here has seen any legally binding solution (which both parties could pretend to support?) Pretty much everybody has had this happen, in trauma centers, ERs, or last minute before procedures. It’s so obvious, odious, slimey & so pervasive now, being fed to the sharks, at our most vulnerable. We’re, each of us, hit by the very same tired ass panoply of shucks and jives, forked like lemmings, 324 million perpetual marks, voting for who’ll feed on us next. Have any consumer advocacy agencies formulated any paperwork we can demand their signature on?

  8. Bugs Bunny

    Ya gotta love the WaPo Editorial Board “A near-universal health-care plan that wouldn’t break the bank”:

    “[…] subsidies would scale with income; some people would get free coverage; even at the high end, no one would pay more than 8.5 percent of their income in premiums for a gold plan. People could take this money and buy into a new, government-run plan, or they could purchase coverage from private insurers.”

    There’s gonna be a Public Option, y’all.

    You can’t make this stuff up.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      some people would get free coverage;

      Free coverage for all…before we have free college (or at the same time).

      I think I can live with that…public option, but everyone gets it free.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Did the FBI Have a Spy in the Trump Campaign?”

    Maybe the wrong question is being asked here. Maybe what the real question should be is whether it is standard FBI practice to place moles in the Parties that contest at the very least the US Presidential campaigns and, if so, how long have they been doing it. If this was the case, then who was the FBI mole that worked in the Clinton campaign, Bernie Sanders’s campaign, Jill Stein’s campaign and Gary Johnson’s campaign? Through money and influence it would be easy to slip someone in at a very high level and who knows? That person, if their candidate was elected, could go on to work in that administration full time. Not so much tin foil hat territory here as an extrapolation of how you would expect an organization like the FBI, going by their history, from operating.

    1. Fred1

      Do not consider the following to be approval. But it seems to me that for any, domestic or foreign, intelligence service to not surveil, or electronically eavesdrop, or have moles inside presidential campaigns would be malpractice.

      The best thing for regular people would be for one to be caught red-handed. It would be clarifying.

      Probably every campaign should have a throughly vetted insider tasked solely for counter-intelligence. Likewise it would probably be malpractice not to have one.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Probably every campaign should have a throughly vetted insider tasked solely for counter-intelligence. Likewise it would probably be malpractice not to have one.

        That sounds like each of us should thoroughly make sure we’re not under surveillance.

        And groups would be malpracticinng not having a counter-intelligence insider. Groups like Russian Learners Club of Arizona, etc.

      2. Oregoncharles

        At least for the campaign I know about, Jill Stein’s, there’s a little question of resources – not so much for the corporate parties. A “mole” who was competent at their campaign job might be a pretty good deal. And the party certainly would not have the money for a full-time counter-intelligence person. I wish.

        This might come up if things were so pre-revolutionary that a Green had a shot at winning. that would require thinking about a lot of things, like keeping her alive.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If this was the case, then who was the FBI mole that worked in the Clinton campaign, Bernie Sanders’s campaign, Jill Stein’s campaign and Gary Johnson’s campaign?

      To those spying, either 1) Trump presented a greater challenge or the only genuine challenge to the blob, than Clinton, Stein, Johnson or Sanders, or 2) all candidates were infiltrated, because standard operating procedure.

      In the latter case, Sanders should speak out now as a victim. He’s already avoided taking on the MIC, as some have suggested. If not from personal experience, i.e., in he former case, he can still speak out about the FBI should never do anything like that, even if we don’t know if the FBI did (though likely, the only question now is who was the mole).

      “The FBI should never infiltrate political campaigns. If true, this would be very troubling. Based on what I personally experienced in 2016, I empathize with candidate Trump.” He could say something like that.

      And Stein could too.

  10. DJG

    Washington Post on the Airbnb glorified boarding house. I’m not sure that I find it a charming story, but it is a phenomenon I discovered about ten years ago by accident on a biz trip to Berkeley. I booked a rather charming “three seasons” room / bedroom in a big old house just off Gourmet Gulch. When I arrived and was talking with the owner in the front hall, I turned around and noticed a shoji screen in the living room. There was a bed behind it. Every bedroom was occupied, too.

    The owners were living in the basement.

    This may have been the only way to hold on to an old house in central Berkeley, considering that the owner was a children’s book author and her son didn’t seem to work outside of Airbnb greetings.

    I took it as a symptom of hidden poverty of a sort. Dealing with gentrification by taking in renters.

    By the way, the shared room at $30 a night comes to $900 a month. These people have some strange ideas of economizing. There are shared apartments and houses in the District where they could find something for roughly the same price and not have to sleep four to a room.

    1. perpetualWAR

      I have two friends who barely survive the Seattle Amazombie economy. They use airbnb to rent out their basement, or in some cases, their whole house while they stay with friends.

      How did I deal with the Seattle Amazombie economy? I moved to a city that was affordable. It can be done.

      1. newcatty


        How did I deal with the Seattle Amazombie economy? I moved to a city that was more affordable. It can be done.

        Yes, good for you. Want to point though that there are people who truly are stuck. There may be many reasons. The one I am familiar with is one that many single women, with children, are in due to being divorced. The kid(s) are in a shared custody arrangement and Mom is still getting some child support. Mom still lives in what could be Seattle, Orange county or any other similar gouging rental economy. Usually, the mom has to live close enough to Dad for the custody arrangement. Guess how that often works for for single Mom? She pays large portion of her income, while working, for rent. She often lives in a small, drudge of a place. Dad usually has more income and lives in a much nicer place. Mom might love to move to an affordable town or city. Unless Dad agrees (Usually not), She is stuck in the city they all live in, or adjacent to each other. And, her kids have been in schooling, community and so on. Until kids are out of at least high school…can not see a solution.

    2. Keith Howard

      Reading such articles always puts me in mind of the house on S—y Lane, and this passage:

      He had safely avoided meeting his landlady on the stairs. His closet was located just under the roof of a tall, five-storied house, and was more like a cupboard than a room. As for the landlady, from whom he rented this closet with dinner and maid-service included, she lived one flight below, in separate rooms, and every time he went out he could not fail to pass by the landlady’s kitchen, the door of which almost always stood wide open to the stairs. And each time he passed by, the young man felt some painful and cowardly sensation, which mad him wince with shame. He was over his head in debt to the landlady and was afraid of meeting her.

      [C & P, Pevear & Volokhonsky trans.]

      1. ambrit

        Or even more extreme, “Billennium” by J G Ballard. (Supposedly based on his experiences as a child living in a ‘Detention Camp’ for foreigners in Shanghai while under Japanese occupation.)
        Help this cultural deplorable along please? What is the book you characterize as “the house on S—y Lane?” It sounds interesting, but, when I put that up on google, all I get back are ads for houses actually for rent on various lanes (and nary a lane near where I live. So much for the vaunted efficiency of the targeting functions of advertising Algos.)

  11. vlade

    London Review of Books Brexit link. Fundamentally, I agree with quit a bit in the post.

    My problem though is that saying “we have to wait till the Brexit happens to reverse it” still to me means the writer does not understand the implicatins of a hard-crash-out Brexit, which is the most likely (more than even money IMO) alternative on the cards right now. That “wait till it happens and sort it afterwards” is like saying “well, Austria gave Serbia the ultimatum, the war is inevitable. But it will be done by Xmas, and we can sort the mess out then”.

    Not that I do have a solution, or know of one, as courtesy of the UK’s pols the situation is well beyond FUBAR.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I don’t blame them for trying, but its increasingly impossible to see a route out of Brexit, even if Parliament wanted it and the EU was co-operative. The only possible route for sanity I think is to apply for the EEA, (assuming the EU agrees, nobody seems to ask the question as to whether they would), and then go back in through the backdoor so to speak.

      Ultimately, there is no solution that can satisfy the main players. May seems to have made her decision to stick with the hardliners as the only way forward. So some sort of crisis seems inevitable, and a chaotic Brexit seems the most likely end point.

      1. vlade

        yeah, I know, but it still feels like a train heading over the cliff, with the engineer asking for more steam and throwing the breaks away. I don’t like sitting in that train, and while I have some sort of backup plan, most of the passengers don’t.

        So just shrugging and saying “tough luck, we’ll triage after the crash” feels a bit like abrogation of responsibility to me, especially from the people who helped to bring all of this around (and I count everyone who voted for A50 here – not because they triggered it, but because they had no clue what it means to trigger it).

        TBH, just about the only outcome that would give me some satisfaction from the crash would be if it did Tories in, the way know-nothings went in the US pre ACW.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I think everyone with sense has to do something to fight it (even if you supported Brexit, the way its been managed is catastrophic), although its disappointing to see just how incoherent the opposition to it is. It doesn’t help of course to be associated with the likes of Blair, Clegg, and Miliband.

          I think that a chaotic Brexit could take the Tories with it, but I wouldn’t be certain of that. I think its increasingly clear that there is a ceiling on Corbyn’s popularity. And I’d fear that its the far right, not the left that could take advantage of a really nasty economic situation. This is where the FPTP system is very weak – if both main parties go into decline or split, any outcome is almost impossible to predict.

          1. vlade

            your last point is why I despair on the Labour as it is now.

            I’ll be glad to be proved wrong, but at the moment it looks to me like they take things for granted with the same arrogance of power (or power-to-be) as Tories did under Cameron – assuming there’s no sensible alternative to you does not mean it’s true.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > there is a ceiling on Corbyn’s popularity. And I’d fear that its the far right, not the left that could take advantage of a really nasty economic situation.

            The campaign to tar Labour as anti-semitic is, I think, some sort of harbinger, though I don’t know UK politics well enough to say of what. I think a Tory Party, even or perhaps necessarily purged of the UKIP loons, is quite sufficiently nasty to go as far right as they need to go.

    2. Oregoncharles

      How long would it take to hold a new referendum? Barnier has said repeatedly that the UK is free to cancel Brexit.

      The next question is how aware the British public are of the disaster in the making.

    3. ChrisPacific

      The comparisons to the referendums on electoral reform in New Zealand are interesting. In hindsight this was handled about as well as it could have been, but it was quite controversial at the time, with the government accused of stacking the deck in favour of the status quo by giving it an extra ‘life.’

      It’s a good example of why referendums are not a great instrument for setting public policy even though they are intuitively appealing. The dirty secret is that you can produce pretty much any result you want by a careful choice of format and question phrasing. In theory they allow people to influence the policy-making process directly, but in practice they hand power to a shadowy and very possibly unelected person or persons who define the format and question content. To have a hope of being accepted they need to be defined by some kind of fair and transparent process, which then raises the question of who does that, how they should be chosen and so on. (You could have a referendum on the committee to design the referendum, but then you’d need to figure out how to design that referendum, which might need a new committee, and so ad infinitum). And there is always someone who snoozes throughout this process and then pops up with some overlooked but critical flaw requiring a change, right when it’s just too late to do so without tearing the whole thing up and starting over. See the recent flag referendum for a less optimistic example of how all of this can turn out.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      “Sonned” is a verb?

      * * *

      Back story (from the link):

  12. The Rev Kev

    “What Google is doing with your data”

    And this is why I leave my personal-tracker aka my mobile home unless I know that I am going to have to use it. If this sounds like a radical thing to some people, remember that this was the way it was for the entire human race until about 20 years or so ago. No real mobile phone much before then remember.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      I agree with you, but my problem is that I won’t drive without it. If I get into an accident I want the camera to record everything, and if I need to call the cops because I will hear some BS. “I don’t have a cellphone or a license” excise from the other driver.

      1. The Rev Kev

        What about a dash cam? Or if that is too expensive, just keep a small digital camera handy. It’s how I take my photos.

    2. Amfortas the Hippie

      not radical, really.
      I take mine with me(like Kurtis, for accidents, and such. I’m a cripple),
      but if I want to go somewhere I’m maybe not supposed to be, I stick it in the coffee can in the tool box.
      double faraday cage.
      I was surveilled(and harassed) as a young adult(pariah-hood, due to a girl, and her evil father. film at 11), so i am particularly averse to being tracked and scrutinised.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I’m glad that we do not have Bears or Grizzly Bears in Australia. That would be too much. The stuff that can kill you here tends to be only small and few would actually eat you like a Bear could.

      1. RUKidding

        Having just returned from your Top End, I point out that them thar Crocs would surely love to eat humans, too. Can’t swim in the ocean up there; can’t swim in some of the more easily accessible swimming holes at Litchfield or Nitmiluk or Elsey either due to the presence of salt water crocs shortly after the wet.

        Also had a bit of a chuckle while in Elsey bc suddenly there was a snake in the midst of the outdoors tavern during dinner. Never saw so many Aussies jump ‘n run at once (I joined the jumping and running). Turns out it was a non-poisonous python, but boyohboy them snakes down there can be seriously deadly.

        Most of the bears in the lower 48 are harmless to us humans. It’s the grizzlies you gotta watch out for. They do roam about in Montana and Alaska but not so much elsewhere. Have been backpacking a bunch in California and Colorado. You just gotta be super smart about what you do with your food. That’s really all they want – easy pickings of human food, not humans.

      2. Wukchumni

        Sometimes watching the tourist watching the bear is more fun…

        Some years ago in early November on the Generals Highway (you’re almost guaranteed a bear sighting on this road this time of year as the bruins are fattening up on acorns, the most in one day for me was 9) there were a couple, one honey blond and the larger one brown that were about 50 feet away up an embankment, and an Australian lady in her 50’s was creeping towards the duo with digital camera glued to her face and got about 15 feet closer when the brown bruin decided to do a bluff charge on her, and that entails going about 20 feet in 2.3 seconds and then abruptly stopping.

        I’ve never seen an Antipodean run backwards that fast…

        1. The Rev Kev

          Practice mate, sheer practice. Did the same earlier this week when I nearly walked into a snake near my front door. Exit – stage left!

          1. newcatty

            Rev Kev, I did the same exit cue when I walked into our garage in our mountain town and a freaking long snake (seriously, at least four feet and its body was thick…gasp!) Was curled up around our trash bin. I did the only logical thing, after closing the inside door behind me, and ran to my husband, luckily in his office and mesmerized by his work, to breathlessly announce : There’s a family blog snake in the garage! What to do? If poisonous…not good. Looked up snakes id characteristics on intertube and scientifically determined it was most likely a harmless gopher snake. They do grow big here in our northern AZ environs. OK, brave and handy husband took his non lethal weapon(A broom) and chased the snake out the open ( yes that was how he slithered into our garage in the first place, just airing out the joint)garage door. Snakes are cool and a natural being in our wonderful wild world. But, not to get cozy in my garage…NIMG.

  13. disc_writes

    About the new Italian government.

    Berlusconi gave the green light to the negotiations, but will stay in opposition. Everyone was wondering what he had received in exchange, and the answer came before the weekend: a court order nullified the previous ban preventing him to run for office.

    Bunga-Bunga is back, yay!

    A Forza Italia MP will now resign his seat in Parliament, so that Berlusconi can run for office, get elected and gain immunity from prosecution.

    This the short version of Italian mind-bending politics from Hell.

    A few remarks:

    1) The new government is held to ransom by Mr. B.

    2) The judiciary branch awarded immunity to a notorious criminal under political pressure.

    3) Do not be surprised if Berlusconi will run in a Southern Italian district.

    4) It is not clear who pressured the judges. Not the M5S (new in the game) or Berlusconi’s own alliance (never managed to get much influence on judges). Maybe the Democratic Party or President Mattarella?

    5) President Mattarella has made it clear that he will have a say on the Prime Minister. The “President’s men” (or maybe women, this time) are usually centrists and well-liked in Europe.

    6) I see the foreign press started again on the nonsense about Italy leaving the Euro. But this government is controlled by Berlusconi and, possibly, the Democratic Party. The premier will have the President’s approval. The government will be in no position to take major decisions.

    7) Grillo has started again with his nonsense about the referendum on the euro. Every sane person who thinks about it for 10 seconds can understand that it will never happen.

    8) However weak the basis of this government before Berlusconi’s approval, it has just gotten a lot weaker. The government will be impotent and probably short-lived.

    Foreigners should not worry about an Italian government doing something really radical. They should worry about the governance of a large Eurozone economy, where the judiciary branch deals out immunity under political pressure, and where Berlusconi, a man who committed crimes ranging from parking on sidewalks to abetting mass-murder, and everything in between, holds Parliament hostage with a party polling a puny 10% of the votes.

    And now the EU should go tell Poland and Hungary that they are not democratic countries.

    1. DJG

      disc_writes. Thanks. The deference to Berlù during the negotiations has been mind-boggling, even considering his oh-so-kind remarks about the cinquestellati. I attribute it to Salvini, though–he’s distinctly unappetizing.

      I think that you are giving the Partito Democratico more credit than it deserves: The disorganization is more than evident. The government seems to be more of a trainwreck of two groups (Lega and M5S) that just don’t know what they want.


      1. disc_writes

        Over the weekend I was furious about the court order and more than half-seriously considered dropping my Italian citizenship.

        That Berlusconi can still hold the country for ransom after so many years, and after everything we know about him, is disgusting. And that the judges can go along with that means that whatever hope there was for Italy as a functioning democracy, is gone.

        Do not underestimate the Partito Democratico. They have been in the cahoots with Mr. B. ever since the 1992-3 mafia-state negotiations. D’Alema and then Renzi renewed the party’s understanding with Berlusconi. Renzi wanted to form a new government with Berlusconi.

        Through B.’s hostile support for the new government, the PD finds itself closer to power than it would have been otherwise.

  14. EoH

    The issue of having “skin” in the game of health care services is a useful distraction when cutting insurance benefits and increasing costs, but little more.

    People already have all their skin in the game, and the rest of their bodies. They pay indirectly for government programs and directly for various insurance products, often poorly regulated and providing limited coverage. They have no voice in that process.

    The analogy of having skin in the game is deeply flawed. A consumer might try to compare competing insurance products, written with the most arcane language and conflicting provisions. But they are in a take it or leave it position when it comes to negotiating its availability, terms or price, or even to negotiate trade-offs among coverage and price. They are limited to what their employer provides or to the few products available elsewhere.

    Consumers have no access to what health insurance companies know about the quality of hospitals, doctors and other health care providers. They are hamstrung by their insurance and limited funds to using “in network” providers. They have no ability to determine what procedures or drugs they need, and zero ability to negotiate price. Prices are, in fact, highly variable. Consumers learn the price that applies to them when billed.

    Consumers have all their skin in the game. But they have no ability to leverage their risk to negotiate insurance contract availability, provisions or price. They have no ability intelligently to choose from among available providers, or to choose what services, goods or drugs would be most effective in maintaining and improving their health. The system is designed to be immune to consumer input.

    It is time to drop the skin in the game metaphor and to start reusing the jargon of price gouging and monopoly power.

    1. RUKidding

      Here! Here! Quite agree.

      That old “skin in the game” gambit has been around for ages and has served as one, among many, useful distractions for how poorly run our so-called “health care” system is run and operated and how badly we’re being gouged and ripped off by BigInsurance, BigHospital, BigPharma, et. al.

    2. Otis B Driftwood

      As an employee of this outfit, I was given the follow to ready about 10 years ago:

      The ironies of that book are manifold.

      Hammergren is the obscenely overpaid CEO of McKesson Corp. He’s kept a very low profile over the years, despite his outsized compensation. As leader of the biggest drug distributor in the U.S., he’s been made famous recently due to McKesson’s role in the opiod epidemic.

      BTW, I read the first chapter and then tossed it in the trash. This book is as worthless as his excuses for McKesson failing to report schedule II drug distribution abuses.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      I wish I could feel unhappy about this, but I’ve been warning people for the last three years those “quizzes” are nothing but data-harvesters. And been roundly thumped for being a party-pooper, including by my own daughter.

      The one making the rounds lately asks for your first concert. There was immediate high dudgeon when I pointed out this is information often used as a security question because “I have never had that question asked.” I responded, of course, that I had, and was, indeed, using it on more than one website.

      As long as there’s social media and people who have been trained from birth to leap before they look as long as there’s nothing that looks dangerous, complaining about data leaks is nothing but closing the barn door. Which is another reason I find this sudden movement to frighten people off Facebook disturbing.

  15. Jason Boxman

    The NR post (“How Many D.C. Suburban Office Parks Became Ghost Towns”) trots out the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) under Carter as a key driver of the financial crisis, rather than systemic fraud; this was a common conservative talking point in back in ’08-’09. Is there any legitimacy to this claim?

  16. JEHR

    The Wizard of Q: Trump is someone you want to stare at and then look away from forever. You want him to act ever more stupidly to prove you understand him and then you want him to succeed so that no harm will come because of his decisions. You want him to be smarter than he appears or dumber than he is but in any case you cannot look away from him for any great length of time. One longs only for the forgetfulness of never knowing anything more about him and one suffers continuously from the absence of this knowledge.

    1. Lord Koos

      I have no problem at all ignoring Trump as much as possible. I don’t look at his tweets, I don’t listen to his speeches, and I don’t watch or listen to corporate media. It’s not a problem in knowing what his administration is up to, as there is plenty of information out there without actually having to here him speak. Life is just too short…

  17. John k

    Italy pm maybe Giuseppe Conti. Jurist with public admin expertise.
    Next step… parallel currency for taxes and gov spending. Granted, a big step.

  18. Olga

    The Fracturing of the Transatlantic Community The American Interest
    Was this posted as a cautionary tale of how not to think about these issues?
    Imagine that – a declining number of Europeans do not support NATO!!!!
    Bring out the trumpets… and marching bands.
    It never occurs to the author to ask why… could it be that NATO’s campaigns have ended in disaster (Libya) or that its purpose has long been outlived? Or that the current order simply does not benefit most Europeans?
    The author’s head is so firmly stuck in the sand that nothing short of a major blowback will dislodge it.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Was this posted as a cautionary tale of how not to think about these issues?

      Pretty much. We don’t link only to material we agree with.

      It seems to me that there’s A Disturbance In The Blob, lately; this article is one indication.

  19. Olga

    Putin’s Language (R)Evolution Moscow Times. Interesting.
    Given MT’s typically anti-Putin stance, this is actually interesting.
    After years of listening to US politicians (read: scripted, heavy use of euphemisms and empty cliches), listening to VV Putin is indeed a pleasure.
    He comes across as erudite, yet straightforward and plain-spoken.
    Maybe the absence of the earlier, “salty,” language (the author’s last question) is a sign of how the weight of the world is curbing his sense of humour?

  20. Olga

    Posting this here because I don’t think it’s been covered by NC –
    Maybe the article is “wordy,” but the initiative may be of some interest to readers:
    “It’s called “Vollgeld Initiative” – in German, meaning more or less “Referendum for Sovereign Money”. What is “Sovereign Money”? – Its money produced only by the Central Bank, by the “Sovereign”, the government, represented by its central bank.”
    To be voted on by the Swiss on June 10.

    1. Oregoncharles

      It’s also very dangerous – even Dan Savage says to never do it. On anybody. Even if they want you to.

      1. newcatty

        When you have lost Dan Savage…good to know that There are boundaries to how depraved, selfish, and narcissistic a man (some women) can be.

        1. ambrit

          Bad sentence formulation. It should be; “There are boundaries to how political, financial, and ‘progressive’ a man (some women) -should- be.” As to actual boundaries, only death or prison institute actual boundaries.

  21. ewmayer

    “Caste-based politics returns to India as Dalits seek equality | FT” — Another misleading headline: If the Untouchables (note that ‘dalit’ literally means ‘oppressed’ in Sanskrit) are still seeking equality that implies that caste-based politics never left India, no? They may of course have resurged in terms of public awareness and/or news coverage.

    1. JBird

      That is not how things work. Using American history to pontificate on, race based politics has never left or gone just one way in the United States; however, the level of racism and inequality oppression does seesaw. Not counting pre-Civil War, it seesawed twice here. Up 1863-1877, down 1877–1920s, up 1930s-1971, down 1972 – ?

      After Reconstruction ended, blacks and to a lesser amount their white supporters were removed from all levels of government, had land and property stolen, increasingly ethnically cleansed from much of the United States and ghettoized, impoverished, effectively re-enslaved in large parts of the South with the Nadir occurring in the 1920s.

      Then it very slowly got better into the late 60s, early 70s when all the economic gains of the past 30 years went away, and between Nixon’s War on Drugs and the Clintons’ war on so-called black “super-predators” the number of blacks locked-up is astonishing. I don’t have the numbers but percentage wise I’d guess similar (greater?) to the large numbers “arrested” and used as convict “labor.” a century ago. Just think of those traffic tickets issued according to how much revenue is needed and not for guilt or safety.

      It is probable that blacks will economically, politically, and socially trend upwards again if the current reform movement succeeds.

  22. ChrisPacific

    Re: BBC and Wilson/Coveney

    The easy answer to Wilson is: What technology solution? Let’s see it so that we can evaluate it.

    Of course it doesn’t exist in any detail, even though it was first floated as an option more than a year ago. Why doesn’t it exist? Occam’s Razor says: because it cannot exist. I assert that is the case. You can refute my assertion very easily by showing me the solution, offering it up to critical scrutiny, and verifying that it’s sound (the claim that you keep making). So get to it.

    Why the press seems to continue to believe that the burden of proof lies with the skeptics on this point is beyond me. All these stories about the technology ‘solution’ could equally well have been written about the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You’d expect the press to be asking some questions, yet they just keep intoning “praise His noodly appendages” every time it comes up.

  23. The Rev Kev

    “RIP the Trans-Atlantic Alliance, 1945-2018”

    I think that we are seeing a change in how alliances are done. In earlier times, the US would act in concert with the UN, NATO, SEATO or any number of alliances. As more and more nations became hesitant to follow the US in military adventures the system started to break down. One example was the invasion of Iraq when Turkey, France, Germany and others declined to add their military into the mix. For years now I have seen talk in military works on how the US, before engaging on a military undertaking, will form a coalition of countries as happened with Iraq. This bypasses the UN, NATO etc and relies on having countries that can be bribed, cajoled or threatened to take part in a coalition. When the adventure is over the coalition is dissolved until the next time. This is not a sustainable model. Countries may be used once but if they are burnt in their treatment, will not show up a second time nor will other countries when they see how things go down. What it reminds me of is a business where you bring in a bunch of contractors and when the job is done, you give them the heave-ho and grab the real profits for yourself. Good perhaps from a business point of view but not how professional diplomats know how things really work long term.

    1. VietnamVet

      The two articles on the breakup of the Atlantic Alliance are important. Basically, it is down to the USA and UK. Seems to me that the Salisbury England poisoning was a last attempt to be relevant and get a war on. If the EU can keep the Iran Nuclear Deal in place and stand up for itself, then the War with Iran will be just USA, UK, Israel and Saudi Arabia. A war that cannot be won and has insane risks of destroying the earth associated with it.

  24. The Rev Kev

    “Don’t shrink the role of markets—expand it”

    The guy who reviewed this book had a lot of misgivings about it and I can see why. This book is not talking about liberalism. It is about intensifying neoliberalism which is another animal altogether. Then again the authors were from a tech company and the University of Chicago so no real surprises there. It’s all about “market-oriented thinking” so I will have to remember that one.
    Perhaps before a battle soldiers can find out what the market is prepared to pay them opposed to what the opposition is prepared to offer them. That has been done before. And that is where market-oriented thinking can get you.
    Having the market run your society is as dystopian as you can get and we can already see the massive damage that has been causing in trying to do so. But still we keep on trying to do more. It reminds me of the story of the man who was asked why he kept hitting himself in the head with a plank of wood. He said that it was because it would feel so good when he finally stopped.

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