Links 5/18/18


Yves is planning to have a West Coast run in July, with meetups as follows:

San Francisco, CA Sat July 14
Portland, OR Wed July 18
Seattle, WA Thurs July 19

She could use help with getting venues in both Portland and Seattle + hotel recommendations.

It would make for a brutal run of travel but she is also considering a meetup in Chicago on Friday, July 6 and a Green Bay meetup on Sunday, July 8. Any takers for Green Bay, please pipe up in comments.

* * *

Scientists have transplanted memory from one snail to another. So, what does it mean for humans? CNN. I don’t need my memory to be any slower than it already is, thank you very much.

Hadza on the brink Science (PM).

Oil Is Above $70, but Frackers Still Struggle to Make Money WSJ

Fossil Fuel Funds Have Unlikely Investors: Environmental Icons International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

Bitcoin estimated to use half a percent of the world’s electric energy by end of 2018 EurekAlert

Choking On Our Harvest: Threats Loom Over Global Food Trade Bloomberg

Wells Fargo Is Still Chasing the Clean Slate Its Ads Predict Bloomberg. Really? Idea: WF is crooked from top to bottom and will never change. They are serial offenders.

The real fight over CFPB’s payday rule is just beginning American Banker

Will the New Fed Get Rid of All its Mortgage-Backed Securities? That Seems to be the Plan Wolf Street (EM).

Immigration crackdown shifts to employers as audits surge AP


The EU tells Theresa May her Brexit border plan isn’t good enough to secure a deal Business Insider and Brexit Bulletin: Seeking Assurances Bloomberg

PM set to nominate 10 Tory peers in attempt to overcome Brexit defeats Guardian

Ecuador orders withdrawal of extra Assange security from embassy in London Reuters. So who sends in the wet team?

Five Star and League agree governing contract for Italy FT. “But have yet to agree on a prime minister.”


The Iran Deal Isn’t Dead—Yet The National Interest

Was There Ever an Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program? The American Conservative

13 Inconvenient Truths About What Has Been Happening in Gaza Tablet (DK).

Deafening Democratic Silence on Gaza Is Because They Own It Too Black Agenda Report

Cracking the rural consumption puzzle Hindu Business Line


For years, Chinese students flocked to MSU. Now their numbers are declining. Lansing State Journal

On China’s New Silk Road, Democracy Pays A Toll Foreign Policy

A Most Internationally Modernized City Next City

Hundreds of designer bags, jewelry, cash seized in Malaysia from ex-PM Reuters. A peaceful transition of power, after an election fought and lost by the incumbent on corruption, in Southeast Asia. Quite remarkable, on all three counts.

AP Interview: Anwar wants Malaysia to scrap race policies AP. Also remarkable. The headline refers to the New Economic Policy, and while I’m sure force-fitting the NEP into some American frames (“race policies,” “affirmative action”) is wrong, I bet the “third rail of politics” frame would have been right… Until recently! Farther than that I cannot go. Asia hands in the NC commentariat please chime in!

New Cold War

A Letter to John: Where Are U.S.-Russia Relations Headed? Carnegie Moscow Center

What Sanctions? Russian Markets Are Over It Bloomberg

US warns of sanctions risk to Germany-Russia gas pipeline ABC

Sergei Skripal Was Retired, but Still in the Spy Game. Is That Why He Was Poisoned? NYT. Lambert here: IMNSHO, if the (or, more precisely, “a”) story the Skripals had to tell was in the interests of the United States intelligence community, it would be all over the airwaves. Instead, we have radio silence.

Trump Transition

The Revolutionary Foster Care Law Buried in February’s Federal Spending Deal Governing

VA signs long-awaited contract with Cerner for new electronic health record Federal News Radio. And a feeling of doom settles into the pit of my stomach…

A White House stretched too thin Axios. The Trump campaign was understaffed, too. I’ve considered viewing this as the 10% — the liberal Democrat base — exerting its class power by denying Trump professional services (while at the same time Democrats approve Gina Haspel, Section 702, and so forth; nobody ever said tribalism had any moral consistency, or that the Democrat Party pudding has a theme).

Facebook Fracas

Shady Marketplaces Selling Fake Facebook Profiles Operate In Plain Sight Buzzfeed. Who does Facebook think they are? Wells Fargo?

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Google’s Selfish Ledger is an unsettling vision of Silicon Valley social engineering The Verge. “Google continues to be caught unawares by the potential ethical implications and downsides of its products.” Really?

So, Umm, Google Duplex’s Chatter Is Not Quite Human Scientific American

Employers are monitoring computers, toilet breaks – even emotions. Is your boss watching you? Guardian

Imperial Collapse Watch

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA director after key Democrats vote in favor Guardian. So if Trump is a fascist, why is it a form of #Resistance to let him put a torturer in charge of the CIA?

U.S. Navy Reserve Doctor on Gina Haspel Torture Victim: “One of the Most Severely Traumatized Individuals I Have Ever Seen” The Intercept

Haspel Could Be Subject to Arrest Abroad Under Universal Jurisdiction Consortium News

What the Heck is Happening in Al-Nashiri?: The Ten-Layer Dip at the Heart of the Latest Guantánamo Mess Just Security

Donald Trump’s provocations herald a decline of US power FT

Guillotine Watch

The invasion of the scooter bros: A new tribe whizzes past the haters on Washington sidewalks. WaPo. Not on the sidewalks, for pity’s sake. Pedestrians have enough to contend with. And just dumping scooters, like a toddler dropping a toy, isn’t on either; like so much else out of Silicon Valley, “sharing” means “exploiting,” especially of public goods like sidewalks and open space.

Class Warfare

Sen. Bernie Sanders says this one issue keeps progressive policies from advancing USA Today. “This one issue”… Clickbait aside, that issue is oligarchy, which must have put a turd in the punchbowl at CAP’s 2020 beauty contest policy forum.

Catholic U. Plan, Which Could Result in Layoffs of Tenured Profs, Moves Ahead Chronicle of Higher Education

Adam Smith, Misanthrope John Kay

Alexander Hamilton versus Shareholder Value Tony Wikrent, Real Economics

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Pigeon Pizzaman

    >WF is crooked from top to bottom and will never change. They are serial offenders.

    How can you say such a thing about Wells Fargo? Their largest shareholder is Warren Buffett, the patron saint of the American oligarchy!

    1. JamesG

      Saint Warren also owns, through a subsidiary of BH, Kirby Vacuums which are sold only directly by door-to-door salesman. That’s a lot easier than facing a WalMart buyer.

      “The Wall Street Journal records examples where an elderly couple was unable to remove three Kirby salesmen from their home for over five hours; in another example, a disabled woman who had been living alone in a mobile home on $1000/month in Social Security payments and suffering from Alzheimer’s disease was discovered to own two Kirby vacuum cleaners, having paid $1,700 for the second one.[3] In 2002, the Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner obtained $13,000 in refunds for 13 senior citizens.”

      Slick Saint Warren probably says “Those are independent people, not our employees.

    1. sd

      I am still willing to bet that Assange will be snatched during Harry & Meghan’s wedding when all media eyes are elsewhere.

    1. Ignacio

      This is, almost certainly the issue that more clearly reflects the growing rift between the US and the EU. Now that Trump has abandoned any trace of diplomacy the divide is getting wider and wider. There is an energy divide, a tech divide, a climate divide, more recently a tariff and iranian divide…

      1. JTMcPhee

        …maybe even a GDPR “privacy rights” divide…?

        Naw, those EU places are also ultimately ruled by corporate interests, and the wonderful ingenuity and tenacity of “state security” apparats… And they have their own Code Innovators and Disruptors, who will figure out work-arounds. And all that “data” passes through and is stored in digital infrastructure that the Owners, and Rulers, well, own. The folks in those EU places are maybe just a little behind in the processes that lead them back to the “resting position” of elites directing the mopes to the chutes leading to enserfment…

        And the Smart Kids of Silicon Valley have their own “market solutions,” of course:

        Facebook Ideas for America
        The wealth of our collective data should belong to all of us
        Chris Hughes


        Though of course in Europe, where apparently some history is taught and old enmities and allegiances are still lodged, there’s maybe some cultural memory of what has occasionally happened when the fetters and coffles start to become too visible and begin to chafe too tight. Not that “resistance” and “revolution” have led to Betterment for the mopery, or a permanent excision of whatever bits of genetic material and structural expression lead to the usual hierarchies and predations…

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Maybe a military divide, when we ask the Europeans to pay (dollars, not Euros please – and they can keep their RMBs) for our powerful gun barrels over there.

        For now, it’s still one NATO, ready to defend against Russia.

    2. Adam Eran

      I.F. Stone’s biography (All Governments Lie) reminds us that the Truman administration wanted a hostile U.S.S.R. so they could keep troops in Europe after war’s end. They’re still there!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        1 All governments lies. And they know it.

        2 And therefore, governments don’t trust other governments; the global reserve currency is actually quite remarkable in this respect. Every government in the world trusts, or seems to trust, the US government to not abuse the privilege to create endless money for it to spend into existence.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Thanks, Russiagate! For inspiring me to learn the Russian language and study Russian history and culture.

  2. Ignacio

    RE: Adam Smith, Misanthrope John Kay

    The selection of quotes by John Kay says a lot about the intelectual shape of Adam Smith: a brilliant malcontent seems to me. I know another of this species, a brilliant spanish writer, author of El Jarama, his most famous novel, but above this, author of superb essays. Mr. Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio essays (for instance Non olet, about money or Sobre la guerra-About wars), are very good but I think those have not been translated into English.

  3. Raven

    Employers are monitoring computers, toilet breaks – even emotions. Is your boss watching you? Guardian

    It never ceases to amaze how people so readily participate in their own enslavement.

    1. andy synonymous

      One’s employer tells one the cameras on the ceiling monitor the entrances for security reasons. But there are also cameras deep inside the workplace far from the entrances. One’s employer tells one that the camera over one’s workstation is there for one’s safety, and one should not worry or ask questions. One is old and might have difficulty finding another job, and even if one did find work, the new employer would likely have the same level of respect for one’s privacy as the old employer. One participates in one’s own enslavement due to a shortage of options.

      1. pretzelattack

        back in the days of slavery, there were lots of small acts of defiance, but not many actual rebellions, because that meant death. we get the choice of slower deaths. wonder how many workplace shootings arise from being in a slowly boiling pot on a stove and just not being able to cope anymore.

        1. madarka

          Mark Ames’ book, Going Postal, explores that hypothesis. Might be of interest to you

            1. Sutter Cane

              I second the recommendation for Going Postal. It could use an updated edition with all of the shootings since it was originally published, but then it would be the size of a phone book.

              1. Livius Drusus

                I suspect that many mass shootings outside of the workplace also arise from the intense stress and pressure that comes with living in the modern world.

              2. Wukchumni

                I used to go to a particular post office all the time, and if I got Oliie, oh how I would wind him up.

                He’d been given an early retirement on account of hearing loss issues, and was gainfully unemployed for 15 years, and then medical advancements came along and cured him, joy joy, but the USPS wanted him back, and he was not a happy camper.

                If there was ever somebody that could’ve gone postal it was him, but you’ve noticed that neither USPS employees or post offices have had any connection with mass murders for quite a long time?

        2. Procopius

          One of the reasons for the myth that black people are lazy, stupid, or childish, is that the most common way to get back at their masters was to commit small acts of sabotage. Kind of like the apocryphal Russian worker, “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.” Leaving tools out overnight so they would rust, taking a wagon to the wrong place, stuff like that. Doing as little work as possible, of course, but that was dangerous because it could get you punished. I believe the pamphlet published by the OSS during World War II on how to commit daily sabotage drew on that history. I would urge all young people to get a copy of that. I’m sure it’s still on the internet.

      2. ambrit

        I had a workmate at the Chicken Palace who related the tale of the day she and some like minded worker drones taped pictures of various cartoon characters over the lenses of the surveillance cameras in their work place. She swears that it took several hours for anyone to notice and do anything about the prank.
        I once had a foreman tell me that, due to an insufficiently deferential attitude towards management on my part, I “didn’t like my job much?” To which I replied, in one of my better moments, “I like it well enough to do a good job of my work. Everything else is lagniappe.” Both the foreman and I stayed studiously polite to each other for the next five or six months, until the job ended. I never saw any of them again.

    2. JTMcPhee

      And of course, as these things work, your boss’s boss is watching your boss, and people with bosses checking their sales figures are out and about, selling the watcher apparatus to the bosses’ bosses’ bosses. Seamless web, no?

      Big fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ’em,
      And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so, ad infinitum.
      And the great fleas, themselves, in turn, have greater fleas to go on;
      While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so on…

      How does a large black bird suggest what directionone might fly to avoid participation in the enslavement?

      1. Tvc15

        As Wolf Richter is fond of pointing out. We like to think we live in a democracy yet we spend a third of our lives working for a corporation that is set up as a dictatorship.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          And remember it is the best third of our lives — the heart of the day in glory of our youth, the maturity of our mid-years, and — if we are ‘luckier’ than most — the waning years of our wisdom. And we are left to our own devices in the gray years of old age.

          1. SubjectivObject

            the way to get around all the BS office politics and insecurity is
            to save money,
            bite the gratification bullet and
            it makes life a lot easier to know you got a year [or moar] put away
            and keep some of that as not an unsecured lender type thingy

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        For flea lovers, who want to kiss them:

        Give me a kiss, and to that kiss a score;
        Then to that twenty, add a hundred more:
        A thousand to that hundred: so kiss on,
        To make that thousand up a million.
        Treble that million, and when that is done,
        Let’s kiss afresh, as when we first begun.

        Read more at:

        1. Mel

          Spare me the fleas, but also check out the version by Catullus. The Herrick verse seems overly smooth, mechanical. In the Latin, once you know what he’s talking about, you get the feeling that they’re making these numbers up as they go along.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I don’t know if Herrick was inspired by Catullus; the numbers in Herrick’s do seem smoother, but, to me, not overly smooth.

            1. Oregoncharles

              Roman numerals did not make for “smooth.” They made math, in general, rather difficult.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          This thread inspired me to try to find the translation in which I first encountered Catullus, and sadly I failed, because I’ would have liked to recommend it; I don’t think much of the rhyme scheme above.

  4. Steve

    Sunday July 8th works for me. To think I was just grumping to a friend how the upper Midwest meetups seem to happen during the week when that work thing is still going making for difficult travel. ?

    Thinking someplace like The Cannery Sunday Am for brunch and bloodies?

      1. Arizona Slim

        Speaking of Yves and meetups, I just sent her the official announcement for Tucson NC Meetup 2.0.

        Check your e-mail, Yves. And you’re welcome to join us sometime!

  5. s.n.

    linking to ‘The Tablet’?

    A truly independent, respected inquiry into Israel’s tactics and rules of engagement in Gaza is necessary to ensure any abuses are punished and create internationally recognized guidelines for how Israel and other state actors should deal with these situations on their borders. The United Nations, which annually condemns Israel in its General Assembly and Human Rights Council more than all other countries combined, and whose notorious bias against Israel was famously condemned by Obama ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power, clearly lacks the credibility to administer such an inquiry.


    1. bronco

      Explain yourself

      should the readers here all know what the issue is with the link? Never heard of the tablet before

      1. tegnost

        The United Nations, which annually condemns Israel in its General Assembly and Human Rights Council more than all other countries combined, and whose notorious bias against Israel was famously condemned by Obama ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power

        yeah I need more explaining as well, or at least a source link

      2. nycTerrierist

        Zionism aside — The Tablet is excellent on culture, books, etc.
        related to all things Jewish (and assimilated).

        1. blennylips

          Fair summary, nycTerrierist*

          I will give them huge points for a well designed site, in the old “A List Apart”‘s sense.

          Disable all scripting, and allow no references to outside domains and it displays beautifully! With scripts enabled you get a solicitation for support.

          A very rare sighting for me.

          *Full disclosure: Some believe I was born a descendant of the “lost tribes” of Israel, but, I saw the light and turned it off, so it does not matter.

    2. Donald

      I found the article useful, but clearly biased. The author goes into detail about Hamas sins and if true, we should know about them. But his account of Israeli sins is more antiseptic. He thinks it outrageous that people say Israel gunned Palestinians down for sport, but they clearly shot many in cold blood for no justifiable reason whatsoever. In his mind Hamas is clearly evil but the Israelis make mistakes.

      Quoting Samantha Power was ludicrous. Her genocide book was more of an argument for America to intervene. She had little to say about cases where our intervention was the problem. And given that the Saudis were slaughtering people in Yemen and the Israelis in Gaza on her watch, she wouldn’t be my source on anything.

      1. JTMcPhee

        The Israelis “make mistakes” like setting out lawn chairs on vantage points to watch that paragon of “purity of arms,” the IDF, go about “mowing the lawn” in Gaza and the West Bank.“Mowing the lawn” and “cutting the grass” being the arch colloquialisms for the periodic bombing, strafing and generally shooting up the essentially defenseless inmates of “the world’s largest open air prison,” to advance the project of clearing the Palestinian underbrush out of the way of the thug invaders and looters called “settlers,” on the way to a “Greater Israel.”

        A piece by a “settler” in the NYT tells us that “the settlers are here to stay.” Maybe it behooves all of us whose lives are impacted, maybe our entire future as a species, by the “rational self-interest” actions of the Likudniks and what are called, antiseptically, “the settlers:”, to pay some attention to who these people actually are.

        One might coin a neololgism for the actions and propaganda of the Israel ites: “Chypocrisy.”

        1. makedoanmend

          There is so much to admire about Israel since the creation of the state – nation building itself, the early kibbutz movement, the introduction of a national language, novel business developments and so on. I’m sure there are many Israelis who are aghast about what their so-called defense forces are doing, but we do not seem to hear from them in the MSM.

          From where I sit, the world does seem to be descending into a pre-WWII barbarity again and unfortunately Israel, as it is incarnated now, is one among many nations leading the way down.

          I suppose, if the pendulum ever swings back, there would be a supreme irony if a Nuremburg style trial takes place assigning culpability on the architects of the Palestinian suffering. Somehow, I don’t think it ever will happen. More than likely, many more peoples will come to understand Palestinian suffering first hand.

          1. Alex

            A lot of people in Israel are not happy with what is happening and consider it a tragedy, just check Haaretz.

            But the Tablet article makes a good job of explaining that this is not a black and white issue and the threat is quite real. I also believe that the blockade is too harsh and cruel. But even if Israel announced today that from now on they could import as much cement and seaweed as they want, it would have zero effect on the ongoing protests.

            1. makedoanmend

              Thanks for the comment.

              I’m puzzled about cement and seaweed as some sort of Palestinian necessity, to say the least.

              And so what about protests? Hardly a pretext to gun down people.

              People who protest usually protest for a reason – not for amusement.

              It seems that people who both feel threatened but also see themselves as exceptional often make egregious errors in judgement.

              Let’s hope Israelis who care about long term considerations come to the fore very soon.

              1. pretzelattack

                i don’t know about the seaweed, but they need to rebuild a lot after the bombings. i expect the settlers don’t have trouble getting it.

                1. makedoanmend

                  Thanks, that makes sense about the cement. I suppose another D’oh moment for me again.

                  1. pretzelattack

                    i don’t know how likely this is, but as i watch the idf gunning down the protestors i’m imagining it happening in america, with the military or heavily militarized police. i remember how many americans applauded the national guardsmen who shot down the kent state protestors, or the bombing of project move in philadelphia. if the protestors are perceived as “others” it is easier; contrast the relatively kid glove treatment of the bundy group at malheur (and earlier when the feds tried to seize the cattle grazing on public land for nonpayment of grazing fees).

              2. Alex

                exactly, on one hand you need cement for rebuilding and on the other hand cement is used to build tunnels into Israel. Which makes it another hard question what the policy should be. And about seaweed I learned from this tablet article just smth arbitrary making people’s lives harder… unless it’s a secret component to the rocket fuel

                I don’t have a good answer about the protests. There are plenty of things that should have been done differently 5-10-20 years ago but I don’t know what to do with all this mess now

                And the long term considerations have been losing to short term solutions most of the time :(

                1. curlydan

                  Stop building current and future West Bank settlements RIGHT NOW (or, condition Israeli aid to be dependent on no more settlements, or reduce aid by $20M for each house/apartment built in the territories)
                  Give Gaza more than 3-4 hours of electricity per day RIGHT NOW (Gazans could use some clean water)
                  Start building new hospitals in Gaza
                  Resettle West Bank settlers
                  Support BDS

                  Just a few ideas

          2. Pookah Harvey

            Real News did an interview with Gideon Levy.” Gideon is a columnist for the major Israeli newspaper Haaretz, and a member of its editorial board”.

            GIDEON LEVY: Netanyahu is doing so well because he succeeded to convince most of the Israelis that there is no alternative for Netanyahu and there is no alternative for his policies. I would like to correct you. Israel is not only supporting Netanyahu. Israel in the last 24 hours is celebrating. It is celebrating the movement of the embassy to Jerusalem. It is celebrating the victory in the Eurovision contest. And the victims of Gaza hardly touch anybody in Israel. Hardly touch anybody.

            I don’t remember such a case in which people, 60 people by now, are being killed by Israeli soldiers, and Israel is so indifferent like it is this time, even in times of war. This is not war. So by and large the whole picture is very, very depressing.

            Apparently there is little or no opposition in Israel to what is going on in Gaza.

            1. sd

              It will be interesting to see how many performers actually show up in Israel for the 2019 Eurovision contest.

  6. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Haspel Could Be Subject to Arrest Abroad Under Universal Jurisdiction Consortium News

    So, gina, good luck with the new job.

    The majority of major corporations and countries are headed by men. When women are appointed to leadership positions, it tends to be when an organisation is in crisis – a phenomenon known as the glass cliff.
    ‘Our findings indicate that women find themselves in precarious leadership positions not because they are singled out for them, but because men no longer seem to fit,’ Bruckmüller and Branscombe explained. ‘There is, of course, a double irony here. When women get to enjoy the spoils of leadership (a) it is not because they are seen to deserve them, but because men no longer do, and (b) this only occurs when, and because, there are fewer spoils to enjoy.’

    To summarize: pompeo escapes the sinking torture ship for a gig as world peace promoting statesman in North Korea, and bloody gina is left dusting the deck chairs. “Glass cliff” has a nice, kinda bloody ring to it.

    1. Jim Haygood

      bloody gina is left dusting the deck chairs

      As the sign in her office stipulates, “I don’t do windows.”

        1. polecat

          “Backdoor Gina” … how suggestive !
          Are the Mitchell Bros. still a going concern ??

    2. Kfish

      Thanks for the label. Both sides of Australian politics have developed a habit of putting a woman in charge of a failing government just before the election – in New South Wales, Christine Keneally was premier for two months before a crushing defeat. In Queensland, Peter Beattie handed over to Anna Bligh, who had about three years before losing. However the next woman, Anna Palasczuk, won the next election to everyone’s surprise including her own and has been doing a decent job since.

  7. Eureka Springs

    Promoting a known torturer to the highest possible rank, who also destroys known evidence. All while cheering for Israeli continued torture, murder and genocide of imprisoned Palestinians.

    What a season on Game of Thrones this has been. Oh wait!

    The duopoly is a clear and present danger. Negotiating within this is pure folly… the kind of folly which is a danger too.

    By the old gods and the new, wake up and quit supporting either party. The system is fubar.

    1. tegnost

      I wonder when the wile E. Coyote moment will arrive, when we’re looking at the cliff behind us and clear sailing below…tomorrow or in twenty years…to paraphrase keynes, the world can stay irrational longer than you can stay corporeal

    2. The Rev Kev

      I am going to make two predictions for Gina in her new role as head of the CIA.

      The first is that she will be threatened with arrest in some allied countries until Trump threatens (it’s what he does) to end all intelligence cooperation with that country unless they promise not to arrest her. Probably she will spend most of her tenure in US territory.

      The second prediction is that one day Gina will be made the US Secretary of State.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          Oh, for Pete’s sake. They read this you know. Don’t give them any ideas.

    3. polecat

      It’s time we best start mining that dragon glass, no? Could be of real use on the Watch.
      It seems the White Walkers are everywhere you look … !

    4. Jim Haygood

      Today the MSM is eerily quiet about the nine-ton anvil about to drop from the sky — the Inspector General report, that is, which is rumored to make some criminal referrals of DOJ, FBI and possibly even CIA officials.

      Well-known attorney Joseph DiGenova, in an interview with Tucker Carlson, said that former CIA director John Brennan is going to need a very good lawyer because “he’s going to be in front of a grand jury shortly.”

      The factual basis for DiGenova’s claim is Brennan’s likely perjured May 2017 testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, in which Brennan stated that the notorious Steele dossier did not factor in to the agency’s conclusions about Russian election meddling and professed ignorance about its funding.

      Why are the media dogs not barking and leaking as is their wont? Presumably because the IG report is so radically divergent from their approved narrative that they can’t even figure out how to address it yet. So a pregnant silence prevails.

      Is it wrong to suppose that Operation “Crossfire” Hurricane referred to the FBI and CIA playing inter-agency patty cake to take out the Trump threat? Perhaps to Lee Harvey Oswald behind the presidential motorcade and the “grassy knoll” team up front? Stay tuned to learn the surprising answer! ;-)

    5. JCC

      After reading The Intercept article on Bloody Gina, a few things came to mind:

      1) When Democrats like Mark Warner say things like this, “President Trump’s record of cozying up to authoritarian governments, his consistent failure to appoint, empower or value the expertise of professional diplomats, and his overall lack of focus on critical details also give me pause.” my immediate thought is that he is a lying sack of “you know what”. His pause lasts only a second at best.

      2) Joe Manchin, one of the other Dems that supported Bloody Gina, considers her a “person of great character”. I assume that he and others that confirmed her consider past behavior to be a terrible indicator of future behavior. Hopefully he is right, but I doubt it.

      3) Medieval torture chambers are alive and well.

      4) Evil is as evil does. Arrendts’ Eichmann study on the banality of evil is a disservice to the philosphy of the nature of evil. Eichmann was evil, not banal. Bloody Gina… the same, as well as those who enthusiastically confirmed her.

      5) “The opposite of good is not evil. it is indifference.” — Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

      The U.S. Govt has just given even more ammunition to those that are looking for reasons to preach about our clear hypocrisy in our words vs. our deeds.

      The human nature of sociopaths that filter upwards to top power positions continues unabated. Unfortunate.

        1. Sid Finster

          I can think of lines of questioning that would be much nastier than anything Senator Harris posed.

  8. Eclair

    Tony Wikrent’s ‘discovery’ of Alexander Hamilton’s prescription for the formation of a National Bank; that no shareholder should ever have more than 30 votes, changes my perception of Hamilton.

    We visited Paterson, NJ last week, to see the Great Falls National Historic Park. The falls themselves are amazing, the second largest east of the Mississippi (after Niagra). Hamilton visited them and got the brilliant idea of forming the Society for Useful Manufactures, using the falls’ water power to weave silk and cotton and make various machinery. The industry and trade propelled the US to economic prominence.

    Paterson now, while not exactly lying in ruins, is the hollowed-out ghost of a 19th and early 20th century industrial powerhouse; gritty, potholed, littered with fast food wrappers and boarded-up brick mills. I silently cursed Hamilton for what he did to the beautiful Great Falls, encasing them in concrete and steel, now rotting. Now, Wikrent has redeemed him in my eyes; if Hamilton’s limited voting plan had been implemented for corporations as well as his proposed National Bank, maybe the mills would still be humming. At least the streets would be well-paved and clean.

  9. John Massie

    And in the same vein, no wet work for Julian Arrange yet. He can be rendered somewhere in the American Gulag and quietly tortured for as long as it takes to reduce him to a quivering mass of protoplasm. Then Gina can keep him as a pet on a leash in her office.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      The rumor is his health is already failing because of his being deprived of what even death-row inmates are entitled to—at least one hour a day in the outdoors. There’s no need for a wet-work team; they can just wait till his health reaches the point of his needing hospitalization and snatch him from the ambulance.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “VA signs long-awaited contract with Cerner for new electronic health record”

    Can anybody else see a problem with the following passage from this article?

    ‘The Pentagon’s first round of formal testing on the military’s new electronic health record has concluded that the $4.3 billion system is “neither operationally effective nor operationally suitable.” DoD has deployed the system to four sites in the Pacific Northwest. The Pentagon said last week it doesn’t expect the unfavorable testing results to impact the schedule for Genesis deployments.’

    1. SpringTexan

      So sad when the VA’s VistA is usable. Makes me sick too. Let’s get something worse, costlier, and privatized.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Interesting chart; thank you.

      Its twin messages are that: (1) Since the crack-up in 1998, Russia’s GDP growth has outperformed its BRICS peer group; (2) Since Putin took office on the last day of 1999, inflation has fallen from 86% to a projected three percent this year.

      Solid growth with low inflation is an excellent formula for popularity in public office. Contrast Russia’s record to that of Venezuela, where Maduro seeks re-election on Sunday with growth double-digit negative, inflation in the thousands of percent and a hungry, desperate population fleeing to neighboring countries.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        From Wikipedia:

        Healthcare in Russia is provided by the state through the Federal Compulsory Medical Insurance Fund, and regulated through the Ministry of Health.[1] The Constitution of the Russian Federation has provided all citizens the right to free healthcare since 1996.

        Notice it’s free healthcare.

        Not just Medicare-for-all. This is not widely understood in the US by many of its supporters, especially when it comes to commenting online. It should always be free-Medicare-for-all, and never abbreviated.

        And it should be spelled out explicitly in the Constitution (through an amendment perhaps).

      2. makedoanmend

        I wonder if Venezuela had nuclear weapons and a long history of standing up to and defeating massive foreign invasions if their economy would be better also.

        I also wonder if a Venezuelan leader knew he had military backing if he would treat oligarchs like Putin does here:

        The American capitalist fears the Russian capitalist because the Russian capitalist has teeth and claws and a history of meeting history head on.

        A little context goes a long way.

        1. Jim Haygood

          Give me the pen back,” says Putin to an oligarch who’s just been frog-marched into signing an accord — knowing that the oligarch otherwise will keep it as a souvenir or else raffle it off on Ebay.

          “Discontent Rises in Venezuela Military as Economy Dives,” says the WSJ today — which seems logical enough despite the biased source.

          For a starving populace in the chavismo shambles that is Venezuela, Maduro’s main appeal is his potential to make a nice 100 kg meal, in a welcome break from the Plan Conejo rabbit diet.

          1. makedoanmend

            Your comment, for the most part, is incomprehensible to me Mr. Haygood. (I’m just I’m not clued into the references.)

            Equivalencies are a necessity in compare and contrast. To suggest that Russia and Venezuela are in equivalent situations and come from equivalent historical trajectories is pushing things a bit . Sanctions by the good old USA and its European “allies”, natural resource abundances apart from crude, and industrial backgrounds (especially driven by the old Soviets in Russia’s case) hardly portray equivalencies and thus similar impacts on each country. Venezuela is no where near to being an autarky like Russia nor having its industrial hertitage to fall back upon, and hence the maneuverability such affords to Russia.

            TINA – there must be no alternative

            Pobre “countryofchoice”, tan lejos de Dios, tan cerca de los Estados Unidos.

        2. EricT

          I think the Venezuela situation is more like Cuba. The US never had complete control over Russia, but they did control Cuba long enough for their lackeys to sink their claws in. One thing the us will hold a grudge over is their capitalists loss of control. Similarly Venezuela took control of the oil industry from US capitalist. Venezuela is in an earlier stage than Cuba and it’s happening at a time when people can communicate instantly around the globe. I’m sure Cuba probably suffered just the same.

  11. Down2long

    I heard the Founder/CEO of Bird scooter on KCRW FM’s “Press Play” program. He asserted the solution to Bird scooters littering the landscape was giving Bird a dedicated drop off point on every block. He really must be a former bankster thinking he has an exclusive right to public property. And of course, Bird Uber Alles. They refused to get permits or pay taxes in Santa Monica because as a “disrupter” and thus new, no laws applied to them. They just set up shop on the public right of way. Chutzpah! Must be related to Zuck! (It must be noted they eventually “volunteered” to pay taxes. Messing with the People’s Republic Of Santa Monica is not a fool’s game.)

    His reasoning for having dedicated Bird roosts on all public property, free of charge, was that by having Birds everywhere, people would use them more and “the last mile” gap in public transport would be solved.

    Someone left a Bird on my property. Not sure how to proceed. Is it garbage? What are my rights in terms of getting this unsightly thing owned by an aspiring oligarch off my property. What if I accidentally ran over it and left it out for the roving metal recyclers ever present in Los Angeles? This inanimate thing embodies everything I hate about the oligarchy. It sits on a property I spent four years defending in court against some bankster trying to grab it from me by falsifying documents and refusing my court ordered payments.

    If I were in a red state the solution would be simple: Hang it from a tree and use it as target practice. Alas, I. California that is simply not on, as Yves would say.

    In any case, I’m looking to Flip the Bird.

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      It would be a damned shame if – after you had made a small addition to any driveway you might have, with freshly poured concrete…deep deep concrete – that some neighborhood yahoo implanted a scooter up to its eyeballs in that concrete. At night. While noone was looking.

      And that concrete hardened right up before you could rescue the scooter.

      Such a damned shame.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In the 19th century, the solution was to give the railroad companies land grants.

      Many 0.1 percenters got very rich that way.

    3. Carolinian

      This scooter thing must be too new or too old to land in my neck of the woods. I’ve never seen one except the non powered variety that kids ride (and those seem to be out of fashion lately).

      But speaking of that, they are electric scooters. How do they get charged if people just leave them lying around on the streets?

    4. Anon

      The issue with the electric skooters is that they’re an individual solution to a (mass) transit problem. If all the folks on the subway needed a “last mile” skooter then wild congestion ensues.

      The electric skooter solves some of the problem of (mass) transport, but creates bigger safety/clutter issues by allowing unfettered/individual movement/actions. See how that works in congested China (or Thailand) cities. Mass transit works because it is an organized, compressed, rapid/safe transport of people. Electric skooters allow for dangerous movement by an often inattentive rider (not unlike what we have with individual automobiles). While some pedestrians don’t realize it, there is an order, pace, and responsibility to walking in the City.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > an individual solution to a (mass) transit problem

        There you have it. The Silicon Valley glibertarians target any system with the word “public” in it for disruption, and then demand that the public pay for whatever inputs will make their algos work, and handle any problematic outputs they create, “solving” problems that never existed anywhere but in their minds. Atrios keeps saying, in a million different ways, that there is no individual solution to mass transit because nobody has ever been able to make the numbers work.

        For example, scooters don’t solve “the last mile” problem because commutes happen at two peak times of the day. So you have to scale your scooter system to handle those peaks, and then the great bulk of the scooters are idle during the day, lying where they were dropped. Well, they argue, you can encourage work from home or flexible commutes… And suddenly it’s not a scooter problem any more… Another way of saying this is that anyone you see riding their scooter during the day has control over their time — like the DC lawyer with his briefcase — suddenly throwing the class issues into stark relief.

        NOTE On Thailand, Bangkok really is the land of the heroic transport worker. Leaving aside the insane automobile congestion, you have a very efficient and seemingly organic transport system. Bangkok is not organized on a grid pattern, but like a river, with a main artery, and progressively narrower tributaries out to the narrowest capillary alleys; this is why many Thais mentally classify cars with boats; Bangkok was the Venice of the East until the canals got paved over. So if you watch, what you see is a pulse of pedestrians who just got off at a “Sky Train” station (public transport) arriving at a corner and forming a queue, and the motorcycle drivers at the corner efficiently transporting each one of them deep down the arteries and out into the tributaries and the headwaters. Of course, if — and by if I mean when — the streets have been jammed up with cars, the motorcycles quite naturally shift over into driving on the sidewalk (especially natural if you think of the street as a river, and the sidewalk as a backwater), which happens and has to keep happening despite the occasional official mutter of disapproval, because, after all, Bangkok is not Singapore. So, replace that system with individual scooters and what do you get? Besides throwing all the motorcycle drivers out of work and starving their families? You need a place to store the scooters at the BTS station (where space is already scarce, especially at rush hour, when they would be used). You need to accept that people, having used their scooters to commute home, are not going to do anything but hang on to them for their morning commute, so the whole stupid notion of sharing goes away. Finally, all the scooter people are going to be driving on the sidewalks, because unlike the motorcycle drivers, they will have neither the skills nor the inclination to drive in traffic. And when they drive on the sidewalk, a lot of them are going to injure themselves, because sidewalk quality is to say the least random, with surface quality hard to detect in the evening, and again where the motorcycle drivers have the skills (and the suspensions) to handle this, the scooter people won’t. Long comment, but words really fail me when I try to imagine how scooters would degrade the transport system. Oh, the the biggest point: The real thing about the motorcycle — IMNSHO — is that, however briefly and narrowly — you have a physical and above all trusting relation with the driver, who is somebody very likely not of your class. Scooters, by individualizing — I really need a more pejorative word — the transport function makes that relation go away. I’m really convinced that is at the heart of most Silicon Valley “solutions,” Uber especially, but also automated delivery: Their desire never to have any contact with smelly proles, as well as the projection of their attitudes onto all others, as if the social relations of Silicon Valley were the universal pattern for human behavior.

  12. RenoDino

    I’ve taken a roundabout route to arrive at a diagnosis of Trump’s behavior. I’ve noticed his tweets and extemporaneous rants have the speech characteristics of a drunk. I invite you to read out loud the following quote while doing your best Foster Brooks impression:

    “If you remember two weeks ago, all of a sudden out of nowhere Kim Jong Un went to China to say hello again — second time — to President Xi,” Trump told reporters during an Oval Office meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, referring to a May 8 meeting between the leaders.

    “It could very well be that he’s influencing Kim Jong Un. We’ll see what happens. Meaning the President of China, President Xi, could be influencing,” Trump said.

    The President speech patterns are those of a drunk in full flight at the end of a bar. This lead me to the conclusion that Trump is a dry drunk, having never taken a drink, but exhibiting all the signs and symptoms of someone who has spent his life as an addict, with all the resultant mental damage.

    There have been many attempts to diagnosis Trump’s unusual behavior, but I think explanation aligns his symptoms with his disease. While Trump never drank, he is a dry drunk. See if you agree…

    A “dry drunk” will exhibit certain symptoms. Everyone has their bad days of course, and just because a person exhibits some negative behaviors occasionally does not necessarily mean that they stuck in recovery. The dry drunk is different because they are caught in a rut and repeatedly experience some of the following symptoms :

    * The individual has a low tolerance for stress. They easily get upset if things are not going their way.
    * The dry drunk continues to engage in unhealthy behaviors. In order to deal with their lack of satisfaction in recovery this individual may turn to new vices.
    * Such an individual can suffer from loneliness and lack of interest in activities to fill their time. The fact that they make minimal effort to build a life in recovery means that things remain unsatisfactory.
    * Denial can be as big a problem for the dry drunk as it can be for the practicing addict. The individual may refuse to see that their life in recovery needs to change. Due to this denial they may continue to live a miserable life in recovery indefinitely.
    * Dry drunks may romance the drink. They forget how bad things were and can now only remember the good drinking days. This type of reminiscing is dangerous because it can only lead to relapse or increased resentment about being sober.
    * Such a person is likely to suffer a lot from self-pity. Recovery is not as satisfying as they expected and they will feel cheated because of that.
    * The dry drunk tends to be full of pride and feels over-confident about their abilities. They will not seek help from other people because they believe they already have all the answers.
    * This individual may continue to engage in unethical behavior.

  13. Summer

    Re: Alexander Hamilton vs shareholder value

    A good mini-history of a road not taken. I guess rules, laws, and pumishment is for the “little people.” In conclusion he writes:
    “….USA capitalism in the past half century has fallen under the control of a ruling class that, in outlook, intent, and effect, is basically criminal, not entrepreneurial. This ruling class is not a legacy of Hamilton’s program for nation building; it is, rather, a throwback to the slave-trading, opium-peddling ruling merchant class of the British empire, which has never discarded its innate hatred for the idea of republican self-government.”

    But the ruling class didn’t go for Hamilton’s shareholder value/vote idea.
    So I agree, but this country always had more of a criminal element than entrepreneurial one. Not something that developed in the past half century.
    And Britain will be a pirate island again.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Google’s Selfish Ledger is an unsettling vision of Silicon Valley social engineering”

    For the love of god, why would anyone have Google or Facebook or Apple or any other tech corporation help run their lives? Google helping nudge users into fulfilling Google’s aims? Sounds very paternalistic that. And the ledger that can be passed on to other users for the betterment of society? Who exactly would that be? Advertisers? The Government? Behavioural scientists? Would you know when this info was passed on and under what circumstances?
    I have watched the video and it really creeps me out no end. People would believe that it would enrich their lives but in fact it would narrow it and keep that person in their own bubble. With the choice of products that it offers you, you would never be certain whether it was the best fit for you or is the result of what some company paid Google to offer you. Seriously. Google would use the Ledger to modify people’s behaviours and choices all of which would be decided by an all-knowing Google? The only answer to that is one that involves both sex and travel.
    And for the bit about “it may be possible to develop a species-level understanding of complex issues such as depression, health, and poverty.” I can help out right there. Pay people good solid wages, treat them all equally with respect, give them single-payer health and stop the 1% sucking up the wealth of the entire country. I guarantee you that a lot of those problems would just go away.

    1. Enquiring Mind

      Google – Tom Wolfe mashup: The Googlers live in their own statusphere, with all of the artifice of that environment and the filtered awareness of anything outside the bubble.

    2. ewmayer

      Getting more and more religious-cultish all the time inside the Google bubble, innit?

  15. Summer

    Re: A. Hamilton / Shareholder value

    Concludes with:
    “This is a crucial point most Marxists and others on the left miss: USA capitalism in the past half century has fallen under the control of a ruling class that, in outlook, intent, and effect, is basically criminal, not entrepreneurial. This ruling class is not a legacy of Hamilton’s program for nation building; it is, rather, a throwback to the slave-trading, opium-peddling ruling merchant class of the British empire, which has never discarded its innate hatred for the idea of republican self-government.”

    But Hamilton’s rules that may have prevented some wealth concentration was never adopted. Never. The article points this out. The “ruling class outlook” has not just changed in the last half century. The rules are still for you and not for them.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One exceptional feature of the current ruling class – many, especially those from tech, seem to be a lot younger*.

      So, we can look forward to many more years of their steady rule, unlike those in Vienna 100 or so years ago, who could only say, yeah, but our addled emperor will not last long.

      *And if not in fact young in actual age, they seem to be very focused on living longer.

  16. Jim Haygood

    This week Ed Yardeni’s fundamental indicator ticked down a notch, but remained firmly ensconced atop the Permanently High Plateau it has comfortably occupied since March 1st. Chart:

    Within its three components, this week’s pattern was the same as last week’s: Bloomberg Consumer Comfort slid for the fourth week running, while raw industrial materials prices eased down also. But the four-week average of initial unemployment claims sank to a miniscule 213,250 — one of the lowest readings since the early Seventies.

    Chart huggers claim that low-volatility flatline patterns such as the current March-May interval are resolved by a sharp, higher-volatility breakout … but the direction is not specified.

    In a late cycle economy with harshly rising energy prices starting to ding consumer confidence, a downward breakout in Yardeni’s indicator seems more likely than a fresh burst of strength.

  17. Summer

    Re: Hamilton vs Shareholder value
    Concludes with this:
    “This is a crucial point most Marxists and others on the left miss: USA capitalism in the past half century has fallen under the control of a ruling class that, in outlook, intent, and effect, is basically criminal, not entrepreneurial. This ruling class is not a legacy of Hamilton’s program for nation building; it is, rather, a throwback to the slave-trading, opium-peddling ruling merchant class of the British empire, which has never discarded its innate hatred for the idea of republican self-government.”

    But the Hamilton idea was never adopted as policy. The ruling class wouldn’t allow it. So it’s really always been the same ruling class with rules being for the “little people.”

    1. flora

      You can be sure when election season kicks into high gear the Dem estab will declare itself wholly different from the deplorable GOP, against torture, and offer the election of themselves as a way to get ‘revenge’ on the ‘racist’ GOP deplorables. Note there will be no serious suggestion from the Dem estab of Medicare for All (never ever), reining in TBTF banks, reining in the CIA’s worst excesses, or regulating Wall St.’s predatory behavior. my opinion.

      1. EricT

        Let the primary losses of democratic congressional incumbents in Pennsylvania sink in. The’ll either double down or start seeing the light.

    2. Annieb

      Re: Ian Welsh article. This pretty much puts the last nail in the coffin. I no longer feel any allegiance to this country’s government. And I am deeply ashamed of it. As one of the commenters to the article wrote, “I have no idea where to put my lack of hope.”

      1. Charlie

        The thing about hope is it keeps one from acting when they should. I call it the somebody else will fix it syndrome.

        That said, I do admit it would take a thunderous boom to change things, and it won’t be pretty when it happens.

    1. ewmayer

      I would like to see this trend as in some way hopeful, but can’t help wondering whether massive crapification of ‘level of coverage’ in healthcare as millions have lost employer-sponsored coverage and/or the quality of same has been reduced, coupled with the epidemic of early ‘deaths of despair’, might have something to do with it. It might not be pretty spending one’s final days dying in a warren-for-the-homeless under an overpass, but it sure saves money!

  18. DJG

    Chicago, Friday, 6 July 2018. Sounds grand.

    Same hotel? I think that it would be good to forewarn management of number in attendance. They didn’t have enough staff last time: I guess that the size of the crowd surprised them.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Speaking as a veteran organizer, well, of one meetup, I can tell y’all that communicating with your venue hosts is a very good idea.

      So is signage. I only had one sign at the last Tucson meetup, and it got buried under the tasty goodies at one of our tables. I had to ask one of our participants, who arrived in a motorized wheelchair, if I could tape it to the back of her chair. Permission granted.

      However, I still think that some of the arriving meeter-uppers didn’t see that sign, so they missed our event. Next time, I’m bringing more signs.

    2. Yves Smith

      Yes, we had a very big group, and that space is big enough to accommodate it easily. I didn’t expect so many people myself, however! We might not get as many on a Friday but I will alert them.

  19. Expat

    Every day I watch America sink lower and lower…or perhaps, I should say I see it emerge from behind its facade. The confirmation of Haspel at CIA is also a confirmation of American cruelty, indifference, and xenophobia. The US is a hper-aggressive, fascist state, at least in the original sense of State and Industry working together to dominate and control.

    I believe that pre-9/11 it would have been impossible for someone like Haspel to get confirmed. Today, even educated Americans accept torture as either useful or justified. Where is the hue and cry? Nowhere!

    and we wonder why “terrorists” attack us!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When something becomes banal in a country, as a general rule, that means all of the citizens are responsible.

      “Every German.”

      “Every Italian.”

      “Every Israeli.”

      “Every Cambodian.”

      “Every Japanese.”

      “Every Turk.”

      “Every American.”

      And the list goes on.

      1. Expat

        That is too facile a response. I concede that not EVERY American supports torture, but obviously those that don’t, don’t care enough to be vocal.
        Comparing the dictatorial governments of Germany, Italy, Cambodia, Japand and Turkey to the quasi-democracy in the US is not a valid argument. No one in the US would get arrested and shot for standing up in public and saying torture is bad and Haspel is evil.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          No one would be arrested, yet ‘where is the hue and cry? No where!’

          In fact, it would not be the whole nation if there was one (German, American, etc.)

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I don’t know either.

              I write hoping we can think about where we are, in comparison with other nations, and where we are headed.

              Those interested can form their own opinions.

              Are we all banal, if it is not in the same degree, or manifested in different forms?

                1. Expat

                  Interesting, but rare. I hold an American passport but have not lived there since the late 80’s. I have never renounced despite how much I have grown to hate America and how much of a giant pain in the ass it is to be American living abroad.

        2. Olga

          Really? Just ask Ray McGovern – who dared to say just that. His hands were bruised to black and blue and he spent a night in jail. Plus he’s due in court to face charges… Maybe you’ve not been to the US in a while…

        3. nippersmom

          Please don’t make such generalized statements. There are actually quite a lot of us saying torture is bad and Haspel is evil. Jut because we aren’t getting press coverage, it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I agree, and for example, not all Germans were guilty. Certainly not 2 year old babies, not to say actual dissenters.

            From Wikipedia, German Collective Guilt:

            German collective guilt refers to the notion of a collective guilt attributed to Germany and the its people for perpetrating the Holocaust and starting World War II.

            Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung wrote an influential essay in 1945 about this concept as a psychological phenomenon, in which he asserted that the German people felt a collective guilt (Kollektivschuld) for the atrocities committed by their fellow countrymen, and so introduced the term into German intellectual discourse. Jung said collective guilt was “for psychologists a fact, and it will be one of the most important tasks of therapy to bring the Germans to recognize this guilt.”[1]

            After the war, the British and US occupation forces promoted shame and guilt with a publicity campaign, which included posters depicting concentration camps with slogans such as “These Atrocities: Your Fault!” (Diese Schandtaten: Eure Schuld!).[2]

            Your fault – presumably that meant everyone was responsible, even those saying torture was bad and evil.

            1. witters

              When it comes to morality, words mean, well, just words. Actions are everything. The rest is virtue-signalling.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                The erstwhile enemy number one, some tall bearded guy, used those same words, and ths idea continues to threaten innocent children and people here – the idea that we are all responsible. We remember many perished in New York some 16, 17 years ago as a result of his instructed actions.

                So the idea of collective guilt can be consequential.

                To respond, you need to address that ideai itself, or the twisted applications of it, like dropping a big one in Hiroshima or fire bombing civilian citiesl like Dresden.

      2. Sid Finster

        We as Americans had best pray that there is no God and that He is not just, for if ever were a collective punishment deserved, then surely we are in for a big one.

        1. rosa

          Or just pray that the anti-imperialist left does not take hold in enough countries of the world.

    2. Wukchumni

      You can get used to anything, another high school shooting with 8 dead today in the Lone Star State, ho hum.

      Remember how shocking Columbine was almost 2 decades ago?

  20. Louis

    The Guardian article on monitoring employees is another case of people only caring when it affects middle to upper-class people.

    Monitoring employees in low-wage jobs and regulating when they can take breaks is nothing new, as anyone who has worked retail, food-service, or other comparable jobs can probably attest to. There is very little outrage over it–the chorus says “those people should get educated, get more skills and find another job if they don’t like it.”

    Yet when employees in higher-status, higher paying, jobs get monitored or have their breaks regulated it’s suddenly an outrage.

    Right now few people care about automation and it’s effects because it affects mostly people on the bottom–again we hear that those people should get an education and skills–but something tells me that if (or when) automation starts reducing (or eliminating) higher status jobs the conversation will change.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Being a paid professional soldier is a job.

      And they monitor soldiers. They are the public sector equivalent of those lower-status jobs.

      When jobs are divided into higher-status and lower status, in both private and public sectors, we can ask what kind of jobs there are in a JG program.

      Will there be higher-status jobs?

    2. Livius Drusus

      Good point. I have noticed the same thing with regard to outsourcing and the importation of cheaper foreign labor. When factory workers and construction workers were having their jobs shipped overseas or when they were forced to compete with cheap immigrant labor and complained about it a lot of people liked to cite that South Park “jerbs” meme and said it was the fault of blue-collar people for not getting an education.

      Now I see plenty of people in industries like tech complaining about outsourcing and H-1B visas. So who are the protectionists now? Dean Baker has pointed out that many upper-middle class professions benefit from selective protectionism, doctors being one of the big ones. He usually gets a ton of blowback whenever he writes about this issue and I think it is because it runs against America’s cherished meritocracy myth, that our obscene levels of inequality are all down to differences in education, culture, discipline and other individual, personal qualities and not politics and policy.

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        The meritocracy myth yes, but also rank fear. Middle aged professionals today watched the decimation of the skilled working class over the past 3 decades. They know they are equally vulnerable once the social and legal barriers are altered.

  21. EoH

    Giggle caught unaware of the ethical and social implications of its policies? Uh, huh. And Jeff Bezos is unaware of the ethical and social implications of his employment practices.

    Avoiding lame excuses for journalism is one reason to read Naked Capitalism.

  22. EoH

    If the Skripals’ story fit with the memes put out by British and American intelligence services, we would have heard about it. Indeed.

    I’m sure their story would be of great interest to many. One reason we are unlikely ever to hear it.

  23. Livius Drusus

    I am not sure if this is the best place to put it but there has been yet another mass shooting at an American school.

    At the time I write this at least 8 people have been killed at Santa Fe High School in Texas.

    This is why I dread reading the news in the morning. Nobody can tell me that this country is not coming unglued. I don’t care how many Steven Pinkers and Kevin Drums you can muster to tell me about the decline of violence in modern society there is something qualitatively different between street gang violence of the kind you saw in the 1980s and early 1990s and these modern rampage shootings.

    In some comments above NC readers discussed Mark Ames’ book Going Postal and how the pressure of the modern workplace may have caused the rise in workplace shootings. I think the same thing has happened with regard to school shootings and other mass shootings outside of the workplace as the pressure cooker model has seeped into and now dominates all areas of life not just the workplace.

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      Some of it maybe increasing social pressure. But, some may be the immense increase in distribution of high powered weaponry. The 2-3 decade growth of gun-fetishism in the ‘heartland’ middle class has increased access to weapons that are designed for slaughtering large numbers of humans.

      There is a very large distribution industry that thrives on these occasional mega-slaughters. They make the slaughters possible, and then they profit from the resulting panics.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It takes

        1. humans


        2 guns

        for it to happen.

        On humans, we can ask

        A. Are people more stressed out? Are workers under more pressure?
        B. Is our culture more violent than others?
        C. Do we early warning signs on the shooters? Could they have been prevented?

        On guns, we can look at technical issues:

        A. Are guns ever more powerful? Are they more readily accessible?
        B. How to ban them?
        C. How to counter with hi-tech? Robot dogs to stop the shooters? Drone swarms? Robot cops on site?

        1. Expat

          There are plenty of countries with guns (though not many with anywhere near as many as the US) where people don’t shoot up churches, schools and offices unless they have an ideological reason to do so.
          Americans, specifically Southern Americans but not exclusively, are violent. It is normal and good for an American to use violence and force to achieve his goals or in reaction to provocation, insult or frustration.
          If there were a Global Nanny, she would let everyone else keep their guns but take them away from the USA and send us for a time-out.

    2. Oregoncharles

      School shootings ARE workplace shootings; schools are young peoples’ workplaces.

    3. blennylips

      Here’s the nut (“bullying is the common thread”) for me in Mark Ames’ book Going Postal:

      One reason why our society has failed to curb bullying is that we like bullies. Hell, we are bullies. Research has shown that bullies are not the anti-social misfits that adults, in their forced amnesia, want them to be. Rather, bullies are usually the most popular boys, second only on the clique-ranking to those described as friendly, outgoing, and self-confident. The Santana High kids and parents both felt that there was no point in complaining to the administration because they wouldn’t have done anything anyway, a reflection of the fact that popular winners are treated better than losers. At Columbine, parents and students both felt that bullies were favored by teachers and administrators, and that complainers were often ignored or blamed. Indeed, losers pay for being losers twice over in our schools, taking both the punishment and the blame.

  24. Oregoncharles

    Hmmm – I don’t live in Portland, but my grandson does, and his partner works at a coffee shop; I bet they’d have suggestions. And we might have ideas from our visits there. What do you need, again? Downtown? Near the airport? Full menu available? What time, if you know?

    And how many, of course; there are quite a few Oregon/SW Washington commenters, but what kind of numbers usually show up?

    I’m excited – I’ve been suggesting Portland for quite a while.

    1. ewdere

      I’m going to suggest the McMenamin’s Kennedy School ( as both a venue and a hotel. They have a quiet library room that can be reserved for an evening, there are several bars and a restaurant on the campus, and the hotel rooms are wonderful in my experience.

      They have 3 different venue possibilities based on the expected group size ( I’ve used the Agnes Kennedy library and highly recommend it. The school is covered in gorgeous art work (if not a bit creepy), and there’s a tremendous amount of history to explore on that location. And if you have “too much” fun, you can always sleep it off there.

      1. Oregoncharles

        There’s also the former Poor Farm, just east of the airport. I’m assuming she’s flying in and out.

        1. ewdere

          Ah yes, the Edgefield out in Troutdale ( It’s also a wonderful choice. The only reason I didn’t mention it is because it’s about 15 miles east of Portland. The airport is a little closer to Portland than it is to Troutdale.

          My wife and I actually got married at the Edgefield. It became a destination wedding for much of her family. It has a sprawling campus with a winery, distillery, and brewery. McMenamin’s modus operandi is to buy these old buildings (primary school, poor farm, etc.) and try to preserve the history while converting them to a hotel/restaurant.

          In any event, I really look forward to this event. I’ve been a lurker here for a long time, and would consider it a great privilege to meet Yves and some of the commentators here on this site.

      2. Oregoncharles

        In case anyone is still looking I endorse the Kennedy School idea, but I’ll ask my relative and send any good ideas to Yves directly.

    2. Bob

      I live in Portland and can help out too! There are lots of great places to host an event as well as great places to stay. Let me know if I can help out.

    3. Andrew Watts

      I’m afraid I won’t be any help in that regard. I usually hang out at barcades, or the library, and I don’t really think that Ground Kontrol in Old Town or Wunderland is age appropriate for the NC crowd. The latter venue is where you’d take your son/grandson for his 12th birthday and Ground Kontrol is almost always crowded.

      I get the feeling that there aren’t too many people on NC in my age demographic.

      I’m excited – I’ve been suggesting Portland for quite a while.

      Hell yeah! /fistbump

      1. Kurt Sperry

        I love playing pins at Ground Kontrol, but it wouldn’t work as a meet-up place; too small, too loud.

      2. Oregoncharles

        I think the commenters are mostly retired, because of the time commitment involved, but you aren’t the only one – and a name I watch for, personally. Hope to see you there.

    4. CraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazyChris

      I’m on the west side, in Nike / Intel / Bonamici (who I still haven’t forgiven for supporting the TPP) country. I hope Yves can make it to PDX and I’ll try to attend if possible.

  25. Elizabeth Burton

    As six Democrats do what Third-Way Democrats do best and vote Republican to approve Haspel for the CIA, and while the entire party is silent on the events in Gaza, I thought y’all might like to know what #TheResistance considers the most important thing we should be thinking about. This is the full text of this morning’s email:

    Dear Elizabeth,

    Many things have happened in the past week that will be remembered for years to come:

    -We learned that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen shook down corporate America for $4 million in influence peddling, and paid $130,000 in hush money to Stormy Daniels from the same entity
    -When discussing John McCain’s opposition to Trump’s nominee for CIA Director, Kelly Sadler said “it doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyways” (and she’s a communications aide)
    -The Cavaliers lost the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals
    -The Resistance released its “Truck Fump” bumper sticker (which you can purchase here)

    Now we aren’t saying that all of the above are equally historic. What we are saying though, is that only one of those is available by making a $10 one-time donation, or by making a monthly contribution of $5 or more to The Resistance.

    With your “Truck Fump” bumper sticker, you’ll be able to remember this historic week, while driving around in style!

    Trump delenda est,

    The Resistance

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Trump delenda est,

      They’ve stolen my line, and in an egregiously stupid way.

      Cato’s Carthago delenda est refers to an institution (Carthage, an enemy of the Roman state), as does my own play on it, “DCCC delenda est.”

      The Resistance — really, after Bloody Gina’s ascension, The Assistance — however, makes this all about an individual, Trump, and not an institution, suggesting that if only we got rid of the “Bad Apple” in the White House, everything would be jake. Good luck with that.

      NOTE * We also have the vacuous “Truck Fump” bumper sticker. As I keep saying, I did those “smart,” clever, snarky plays on words for years. They didn’t do a thing. Leave it to The Assistance — OK, OK, now I’m doing it, old habits are hard to break — to double down on fail…

    2. cnchal

      > With your “Truck Fump” bumper sticker, you’ll be able to remember this historic week, while driving around in style!


  26. Oregoncharles

    “The Trump campaign was understaffed, too.”
    And nonetheless won.

    However, I would add that as far as I can tell, Trump’s horrible, self-defeating staffing is at least partly because no one else will work for him – which is roughly what Lambert said.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Indeed. I’m currently reading Fire and Fury. That book makes the Trump White House sound like a hot mess.

  27. flora

    About CalPERS and investing in general from a Ritholtz – Bloomberg column:

    ” There is no free lunch.

    “I was reminded of this by a report that the League of California Cities wanted the state’s big public pension fund, CalPERS, to boost investment returns. However, I did a double-take when I read the following.

    The legislative representative to the League of California Cities urged the CalPERS Investment Committee Monday to think “out of the box” in finding a way to exceed its 7% investment return projections, saying that cities won’t be able to pay their monthly contributions to the pension plan if returns are that low.

    “There is so much wrong with this statement, so much at odds with the body of knowledge investors have painfully amassed over decades, that my first reaction was that I must have misunderstood it.”

    1. EoH

      Sounds like this “legislative representative” wants CalPERS to bet big on the lottery. Not many other ways to beat an already unrealistically high number, year in and year out. That representative might want to check first with CalPERS’s actuaries about the odds of winning that bet.

      The sound bite sounds bitterly out of touch with reality. If that is representative of the rest of California’s legislature, we’re all in trouble.

  28. Tongkat Ali

    Malaysians live in interesting times. Mahathir Mohamad, the 92-year old ex-“dictator” is back as the Prime Minister but this time as a champion of the Opposition – of which its leaders he had oppressed and repeatedly jailed during his 22 year iron-fisted rule. Anwar Ibrahim, his disgraced successor and pro-IMF detractor who he fired and had locked away on charges of “sodomy” from 1999 to 2007 (and oddly again for “sodomy” in 2008 by ex-PM Najib Razak) was released from prison a few days ago on royal pardon, pleaded by Mahathir himself. He plans to step down as PM within his term with Anwar succeeding him.

    The National Economic Plan (and its successors) is an apartheid “wealth transfer” policy put into effect by Prime Minister Razak Hussein (Najib Razak’s father) after the race riots of 1969 and directed at the Chinese, which at that time made up 40% of the population but held 90% of private corporate holdings. The racial tensions among the political elite led to the expulsion of the Chinese-majority state of Singapore a few years prior, no thanks to a young Mahathir. The riots were used as an excuse for the ruling party to oust and shame the secular-leaning founding Prime Minister (again, with Mahathir in the leading role of the schism) and to adopt the “Ketuanan Melayu”/Malay Dominance doctrine. It laid the foundations for increasingly racist governmental policies that ranges from minimum 30% Malay equity ownership and hiring in corporations to the exclusion of non-Malays from government benefits, universities and public sector jobs to race-determined pricing and sales quotas in private commerce. Fifty years on and it has shown to benefit to an extreme degree those (of all races) within the sphere of the ruling coalition, while the mainly rural Malays remain comfortably poor.

    One can only pray that Mahathir, in his advanced age, is performing his final act of redemption.

    1. VietnamVet

      It has been half a century since I lived there. I am surprised the British colonial “gift” of a government by the Malays, Chinese making money and Indians getting by any way they can, still survives. This was my first exposure to stark ethnic divisions and Chinese chauvinism. The Clash of Civilizations goes straight through the Malay Peninsula. I think the reason that this hasn’t turned into a new Middle East is because the problem is acknowledged, there is increasing prosperity and it is a tropical paradise except for the smoke from Indonesia burning forests. This contrasts to the United States where 80% are going downward. No one acknowledges here the neo-liberal disaster of increasing debt and inequality. Or, the ethnic, generational and sexual divisions that identity politics creates. All necessary to hide to delay the collapse of the American Empire.

    2. Harvey RV

      I haven’t seen any commentary on the **amazing** **out of the blue** **nobody guessed** result in Malaysia.
      But it seems to follow the new pattern of Brexit and Trump where the polls show one side winning well, and then the other side wins with no doubt.

      The head of Cambridge Analytica, an offshoot of a mercenary spying outfit, when speaking to the undercover journos, mentioned Malaysia. And that CA could go into a country, subvert an election, then leave with no trace at all (fake companies, overseas operatives with fake names etc, all good spook stuff).

      So, what role did the internet arm of the secret services have in the election of Mahathir? By that I mean Google, and certainly FB? WhatsApp is perfect for subversion.

      Is anyone else asking these questions?

  29. ShamanicFallout

    re Seattle Meetup. If you’re looking to stay away from Downtown, or Amazon country in South Lake Union, Ballard might be an option. I live there and my business is also there. A little harder to get to but it’s got lots of good restaurants and bars with some having more private spaces. I wonder how many would be interested in going? It’s on the water (the ship canal/ Salmon Bay/Ballard Locks). Can be busy on a Thursday night of course.
    The only real hotel is the Hotel Ballard. Spendy (it is Seattle). But it’s pretty nice and you get 24 hour access to the Olympic Athletic Club next door. A nice and complete gym.

    1. Eudora Welty

      Yay for a Seattle meetup! I’d advise waiting and seeing how things shake out. It’s supposed to be a summer of gridlock, with I-5 projects, the downtown underground tunnel nearing opening, and the Alaskan Way Viaduct coming down. The Mayor has floated an idea of congestion pricing for downtown, but it hasn’t happened yet. Yves may want to stay near SeaTac. I would be glad to help work out details.

    2. tegnost

      hard to get to ballard from the airport, but I don’t have any good ideas on a location, It’d be good to make it easy as it’s the last NC meet up on this leg of the journey.

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