Links 5/22/18

Citizen Science and Climate Change: Mapping the Range Expansions of Native and Exotic Plants with the Mobile App Leafsnap BioScience. #CitizenScience provides excellent opportunities for a Jobs Guarantee, no?

‘Climate Change Is Real,’ Carmakers Tell White House in Letter Bloomberg

Consumer Reports, Edmunds observe significant problems with Tesla Model 3 test cars Autoblog (EM). Who knew?

US corporate bonds have worst start to year in decades FT

Bankers Hate the Volcker Rule. Now, It Could Be Watered Down. NYT

Leveraged loan rush sees borrowers gain balance of power FT

The Old Allure of New Money Robert J. Shiller, Project Syndicate

Venezuela’s Maduro Wins Reelection with 67.7% of Vote, Falcon Cries Fraud Venezuela Analysis

Approaching the Middle of the Beginning of the End in Venezuela Credit Slips

Argentina: From the “confidence fairy” to the (still devilish) IMF Critical Macro Finance


Tehran eyes path ahead after US withdrawal from nuclear pact Pepe Escobar, Asia Times (J-LS). Interesting interview with an Iranian foreign policy apparatchik.

Trump’s New Campaign Against Iran Will Not Achieve Its Aims Moon of Alabama. “The threat of secondary sanctions will eventually lead to the creation of a sanction-secure parallel global economy. The SWIFT banking information exchange which routes international payments between banks can be replaced by country to country systems that do not depend an sanctionable institutions.” Hmm. Readers?

Chuck Schumer Is the Worst Possible Democratic Leader on Foreign Policy at the Worst Possible Time The Intercept

Bernie Sanders emerges as Washington’s leading voice against Gaza violence Mic

Ancient Romans Painted Horrifying Blood-Red Warnings on Wall Across Scotland LiveScience


Brexit weekly briefing: Irish border problem dominates debate Guardian. Shocker!

We need proper constables – not these swaggering gunmen Peter Hitchens Blog

Italy’s Populists Move Closer to Power, With Little-Known Pick for Prime Minister NYT


Who will be the biggest losers from a China-US trade war truce? South China Morning Post

How Britain’s First Mission to China Went Wrong China Channel

Death by slow poisoning The Hindu (J-LS).

New Cold War

Swedes told to prepare for conflict in Cold War-style booklet Reuters

Europe’s longest bridge and the economic impact on the Crimean peninsula FreightWaves. Quite a bit of geopolitical opinion-having for the trade press, I must say. It’s almost like somebody was standing over the writer’s shoulder….

Summary of the Building a Sustainable International Order Project RAND. “The growing threat to the rules-based postwar order….” I’m a little hazy on when this threat materialized. The invasion of Iraq? The bombing of Libya?

Trump Transition

Mnuchin Urges Antitrust Probe of Tech After Google Report Bloomberg. It’s really time for Google to spend some time in the barrel; if Silicon Valley first destroys the newspaper business — especially local newspapers — and then destroys our ability to sift the rubble that remains by crapifying search, it’s hard to see how the country ends up with the informed citizenry needed to make democracy work (to the extent that it works at all). Google is far more dangerous than Facebook, because Facebook isn’t a serious search tool, and isn’t suitable for serious writing (no embedded links).

Trump signs repeal of auto-loan policy that targeted racial bias The Hill

And Now, For His Grand Finale, Paul Ryan Is Trying to Kick at Least a Million People Off of Food Stamps Slate (UserFriendly).

The princes, the president and the fortune seekers AP. A pivot away from the “Russia! Russia! Russia!” narrative (not that there weren’t other narratives to be had; there are).

Realignment and Legitimacy

Who is Stefan A. Halper, the FBI source who assisted the Russia investigation? WaPo. Perhaps I’m being overly cyncial, but after reviewing Halper’s career trajectory, I’d replace “FBI source” with “intelligence community asset.”

By Demanding an Investigation, Trump Challenged a Constraint on His Power NYT. Norms!

The constitutional crisis is here Eugene Eugene Robinson, WaPo. “One of the bedrock principles of our system of government is that no one is above the law, not even the president.” I wish liberal goodthinkers like Robinson would stop gesticulating like this and take a moment to look around them. I mean, Gina Haspel “tortured some folks” and then wiped the server tapes, and now she’s head of the CIA, with Democrat votes. Sadly, like “bedrock principles,” “no one is above the law” has become, if not an empty cliché, at least no longer the default, and within living memory. I wish very much it weren’t so, but it is so. Remember when Enron executives were actually prosecuted under the Bush administration? Happy days. It would be nice if they were here again.

Teen who started fire that burned 48,000 acres ordered to pay $36 million CNN (UserFriendly). And Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon were ordered to pay… were ordered to pay… Well, I’m having a hard time remembering the amount.

Democrats in Disarray

Texas congressional Democratic party primary runoffs, 2018 Ballotpedia

If you think liberal Democrats in Clinton’s faction aren’t bitter, and aren’t clinging to deeply felt hatred for Sanders and Sanders supporters, then read this exchange with Clinton aide Philippe Reines:

(“Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in America” (link) is an oft-repeated talking point on the Twitter.)

Defending Digital Democracy Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. I’ve urged that the test for intellectual honesty on election security is treating hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public, as a real option. Oddly, or not, this project, fronted by Robby Mook and Matt Rhoades (campaign managers for Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney) fails that test. (Note that “DIgital Democracy,” though catchy, is also question-begging; as one of Benteley’s programming proverbs has it: “The cheapest, fastest, and most reliable components of a computer system are those that aren’t there.” In this case, the best way to ensure “digital democracy” is to remove the digital part.)

From Backwaters to Major Policymakers: Policy Polarization in the States, 1970–2014 Perspectives on Politics

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Big Brother Goes Digital NYRB

Princeton Dialogues of AI and Ethics: Launching case studies Freedom to Tinker. “This [assessment] is essential in order to identify the positive opportunities presented by AI and unleash these technologies’ capabilities in the most socially advantageous way possible while being mindful of potential harms.” Lol no.

Artificial intelligence takes jobs from Chinese web censors FT. Code is law….

Facebook Fracas

Announcing New Election Partnership with the Atlantic Council Facebook. Sponsors of the Hamilton 68 dashboard…

Health Care

Feds reject Ohio’s request to nix Obamacare individual mandate Cleveland Plain Dealer. (Insanely, Google doesn’t bring up this Cleveland Plain-Dealer link in a search for “cms ohio individual mandate.” However, a search for “cms ohio individual mandate kaiser” brought up Kaiser’s aggregation page, which did.)

Class Warfare

Opinion analysis: Employers prevail in arbitration case (Updated) SCOTUSblog

Firming Up Inequality Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis (UserFriendly).

Scientists find secret behind sweet sound of Stradivarius violins Guardian (DL; original).

Quantum Physics May Be Even Spookier Than You Think Scientific American (original).

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

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. notabanker

    Re: Ohio Mandate blurb

    Google News has gone from good, to wretched to completely unusable.

      1. Otis B Driftwood

        Been using DDG for years. It’s easy enough to switch it up on any browser. For irony, my primary browser is Chrome. ;)

        “cms ohio individual mandate kaiser” resulted in first hit for Cleveland article when I did search. Same when I used Google’s search engine.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          I use DDG but with Safari. Doesn’t it defeat the anti-tracking feature to use it with Chrome?

          Lovely, lovely antidote btw

    1. The Rev Kev

      Hasn’t it ever! It is slower to load, less responsive. requires at least one java script for functions to work and requires more clicks to work. The content sucks as well in what they show and don’t get me started on their censorship of news articles. What the h*ll were the thinking?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        They thought you have no alternative left now..
        They thought you have nowhere to go anymore.
        They thought they could spring the trap.

        Were they wrong? Will enough people defect from Google’s search engine to prove they were wrong?

    1. Wyoming

      So now the 3 main auto quality evaluators (Consumer Reports, Edmunds and Munro) have all come out with fairly negative reviews of the Model 3. Couple this to the production chaos and the rising competition and one wonders how long this charade can go on.

      It makes me wonder about cons in the past which were clearly apparent to outsiders but still opaque to those who were sucked into the con.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Y’know, if I was going to buy four wheels and a motor, I don’t think I’d buy a Tesla. Especially if I was going to spend a lot of money.

        Instead, I’d be looking at the Porsche, Maserati, or Ferrari.

        1. Wyoming

          I was reading on another blog about a guys Model 3 body repair of $7000 for a dent in a front quarter panel which the photo indicated was smaller than my hand.

          How can you build and sell a $35K car when a simple body repair costs 20% of the vehicle? When I read this I said to myself that Musk will never actually build the low end version of the Model 3.

          I want to go back to horses myself :)

  2. Steve H.

    > RAND report

    An Investigation into Temporal Relations of Definite and Indefinite Articles

    There is more than one distinction in the use of ‘the’ and ‘a’ in the article. ‘THE postwar order’ refers to the past, which is thus taken to be known and singular. An indefinite article is used when referring to a future state or situation. Which makes sense, the future is indefinite.

    However, since it (seems) to suggest the future state is shared and multi-, all references to sharing are also indefinite. The ‘Orders grow’ sentence has the sole non-future indefinite in its definition, as well as the only plural. I think this is also the sentence in which an indefinite order is the subject of a phrase; use of the definite article is tied to being the subject (ie has agency), while the indefinite future has order as an object (to be used).

    Implicitly, sharing is instrumental and normative. “The order must become more multilateral and shared.” Note that ‘must’ is imperative, like a ‘leader’ jumping to the head of an ongoing demonstration, while ‘will’ would be the more accurate assessment.

    You can see it in the last sentence, in that ‘strategies regarding China and Russia’ is future oriented, while the definite article reinstates order to the subject and not the object. This puts those being shared with in the position of being objects (tools) used against challenges to The order.

    But then, the RAND mission statement is all about the safety and security of The United States. I’m good with that. But then all ‘sharing’ is instrumental. Which makes this a form of institutional virtue signalling, while degrading trust. Who’s sharing what? How will it help their economies achieve lift?

    “A good mercury shine helps smooth any roughness on aluminium wings!”

  3. tricia

    re Venezuela’s Maduro Wins Reelection

    a little old but still relevant considering the constant propaganda coming from the MSM (ie NYT yesterday, “a country in the midst of a historic economic collapse,” with no mention of the role of US sanctions, standard part of our regime-change formula- remember Nixon/kissenger’s, “Make the economy scream.”):

  4. flora

    It’s really time for Google to spend some time in the barrel; if Silicon Valley first destroys the newspaper business — especially local newspapers — and then destroys our ability to sift the rubble that remains by crapifying search, it’s hard to see how the country ends up with the informed citizenry needed to make democracy work (to the extent that it works at all).

    Making it more difficult to find information (crapified Google searches); more difficult to keep govt workings transparent and accountable (privatizing govt work pulls a veil of secrecy over the outsourced work); and more difficult for citizens to find out what’s going on seems like a concerted effort by both govt and business – not an unintended consequence of “cost saving” steps. The results – shutting out access to information needed to hold govt or businesses accountable – seem too consisent, too one way, for the results to be unintended. My 2¢.

    1. Wukchumni

      Dogs are good @ multiplying, but I wouldn’t trust them to keep good books, and if you catch them embezzling from you, what sort of punishment can you mete out aside from saying:

      “BAD dog, You’re a VERY bad dog!”

      1. Lee

        My dogs are running and extortion racket. They agree to protect me and my hearth and home but only if I feed them, walk them, pet them, and pay for their medical expenses.

      2. Geo

        I’d trust them more than my cats. Dogs have loyalty, cats are like Wall Street: They constantly break the rules, tear up the furniture, and steal from under my nose, but know I won’t do anything about it because they’ve made themselves integral to my life. “Too cute to fail” you could say.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The (plastic?) suit seems fashionable, but it is really happily consented to by the dog?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Now that I’ve looked it for a while, everything on that dog is plastic, the cone around the head, the garment, the shoes and the strap.

      2. HotFlash

        I wonder that the dog chosen is a black lab, but if so, the suit is probably a good idea. A beekeeping friend in upper New York state tells me that bees are incensed by the sight of a black dog. She figures the bees think they are bears. Maybe they should try Spitzes?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I remember from one document film on bee colony collapse that bees become agitated at some particular color or colors (if I remember correctly).

    3. Doug Hillman

      Anyone who’s been owned by a black lab can see that this dog has been cruelly hobbled: providing no tail sleeve is tantamount to handcuffing an Italian.

        1. Doug Hillman

          That’s just plain phallacious . . . quite possibly fellatious even. At least his name isn’t Beaver; that might arouse more cunning linguistics.

            1. ambrit

              Just don’t tell me that; “You are invited!”
              Deconstructing the meta-pun.
              “..clockwork orange julius…
              Clockwork orange had the moloko bar. Milk with “additives.” One escaped from reality for a while.
              Orange julius has an orange milk shake drink.
              A certain reviled Chief Executive is often referred to as an orange haired critter.
              The synthesis most probable is a light and frothy Chief Executive of dubious nutritional value, and an adversarial relationship to ‘reality.’
              Add in overtones of the book and films themes of police states and amoral ‘citizens,’ and we have a metaphor for todays’ status quo vulgaris.
              To complete the effect, add in a link to the YouTube offering of Lady Gaga tap dancing in the nude to the lilting strains of “Laras’ Theme” from Dr. Zhivago. Any YouTube Heros who might be reading this could make major points by superimposing cartoon steaks flopping around over ‘strategic areas’ of the performer.
              Ah! As the pseudo-Russian comic Smirnov remarked; “What a country!”

  5. Wukchumni

    On one hand, the reign of error claims this in a tweet:

    “China has agreed to buy massive amounts of ADDITIONAL Farm/Agricultural Products — would be one of the best things to happen to our farmers in many years!”

    When in reality, citrus exports from the CVBB to China are down 80%, with major snags @ the port of entry:

    “Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual, said business is down considerably for Valley farmers.

    Major citrus shippers were sending 15 loads of lemons or oranges a week before China put restrictions on the import/export process. Now, shippers, are sending just three loads — about 3,000 cartons of lemons and even fewer Valencia oranges.

    Nelsen added that citrus is also spending upward of five days on Chinese docks before being sent to grocery stores.

    “The Chinese are inspecting all the fruit,” he said. “The fruit is hitting shelves five days older and mishandled. The result is not many vendors are wanting to sell to their customers.””

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When? (Putting restrictions on import process). A year ago? After the start of the recent trade war?

      First, it was reduced to 3 loads from 15.

      Now, they will buy massive amounts of additional loads. From 3 to what? To 8 loads? That’s massive. To 20? That’s also massive.

      What is the lesson here?

      You can’t trust China?

      Or, is it that you don’t want to pick a fight with China? (We should just take it, accept our fate?)

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Just a hunch, but I think the Chinese have decided to play Trump at his own game. Its easy to make headline grabbing commitments and slowly roll back later citing consumer concerns or health issues. So they are happy to give him some ‘victories’ by giving him headlines, while changing the facts on the ground in their interest. They are probably assuming that by the time its apparent they are not really buying all those goods Trump will be gone or two busy dealing with a war in Iran.

      1. Wukchumni

        And keep in mind that citrus is just one piece of the big Ag puzzle here. It was only about 30 years ago that the California almond board put out tv commercials pleading with us to eat a can a week, as they were overproducing the market @ that time, and had no place to go with the excess.

        But that was then and this is now, and almost all of the almond crop is destined for export to primarily Asia.

        And it’s now around a dozen times bigger than back when the tv commercials aired.

  6. ambrit

    Happy bee!
    That flower is a “Snowdrop,” a perennial bulb. We have clumps of it all about the Katrina ravaged place down on the Gulf Coast. They flower early, for us, in February.
    The wild honeybee colony has returned to the hollow in the big branch of one of the live oaks in front of the coast place. About fifteen feet up. During the summer, we could hear the hive humming from our front porch, a rough distance of thirty foot or so.

    1. polecat

      Speaking of humming ..
      Was out checking on one of my hives, and low-n-behold .. the drones have begun to hatch out, adding considerably to the sounds of ‘buzzing’. Honeybee drones are akin to C-130s, and glide, as well as land, like such .. whereas the foragers are more like F-16s ! And the queen .. she’ total stealth Bee-1, an egg bomber that never sees daylight, except when coaxed to swarm.
      I also noticed, out in the greater polecat surrounds, oodles of bumbles flitting amounst the columbines and lithiodoras in search of sustenance. YAY !

  7. Carolinian

    The ZH site had a story about how expensive Teslas are to repair. In their example a person with a fender dent was billed $7000 with much of that being labor. Seems the extensive use of aluminum is to blame along with parts that are not designed to be easily removed.

    Maybe Musk should stick to rockets.

    1. perpetualWAR

      Every time I see a Tesla on the road (around the Puget Sound it is common, stoopid Amazonians) I chuckle and think of piles of wasted cash.

    2. bob

      I you have to ask how much it costs, you probably can’t afford it.

      Disposable cars. To be green….

      1. Carolinian

        Apparently the Consumer Reports story points out other Tesla practical deficiencies. They say everything in the car–including the air conditioning–is controlled by the dash touch screen. Perhaps the reason for Autopilot is that you need the car to drive itself while you figure out the menus.

        1. zer0

          UI/UX engineers for cars usually go the OPPOSITE route, that is, they usually come from performance car backgrounds, where tactile response is greatly preferred to any touchscreen. Especially for static elements, AKA, things that will never change: lights, windshield, climate controls for example.

          But Musk doesnt care. He needs his cars to be ‘different’ in every way to sell the (hype) idea that his company is the future – when anyone in the car business knows that Tesla’s are further from the future than most luxury car companies. Take Lexus for example – they are more involved is the root aspects of the car, like materials engineering, than they are in making their cars button-less.

          This approach, that the facade > internals, is very American. You would never see this at a German car company. Nor would you see finance/generic managers running the engineering departments, like you see at Tesla/Ford/GM. And it shows. Ford switching to trucks and large vehicles (because of margin) when oil is only going to get more and more expensive? Tesla naming adaptive cruise control/lane readjustment ‘Autopilot’? Talk about short term thinking!

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Is Tesla’s taken-to-extremes prioritizing of facade over internals very American in general? Or very Silicon Valley in particular? I am just a layman with no engineering background, but it seems to me that Ford ( for example) has been more concerned with internals than Tesla seems to be.

            Ford’s focus on high-profit-per-unit SUVs and Big Pickup Trucks seems more like a longer-standing legacy attitude within the American industry ( except for American Motors while it still existed) . . . . namely ” mini-cars make mini-profits”. It would appear to be the start of a tragedy unfolding . . . that Ford would retreat to bigly profitable big SUVs and Trucks without thinking about what will happen if or when gas goes over $4.00 a gallon again.

            Maybe the last car-makers standing within the continental US in 20 years will be the Japanese and Korean transplants and some smaller luxury-niche German transplants here and there.

      2. Doug Hillman

        I’d read that the model 3 is comparably priced to an Accord. Maybe it’s the inkjet printer makers’ business model. Give the printer away and sell ink for its equivalent weight in gold.

        1. zer0

          According to Muck, ‘Tesla would not survive’ if he sold Model 3’s at $35,000…you know, so instead he just SLIGHTLY upped it to $78,000 “BUT ITS BETTER THAN A M3” he says, claiming that because it might beat it in acceleration, the whole car is better.

          Yeah its also about $10k more than the M3, more comparable to the M4. A ridiculously overpriced hunk of junk, that apparently Tesla can ‘update’ via IoT, so add “NSA spying device” alongside “totaled after a few dents”. At that price I can list many many more cars I would rather have, starting with most Lexus F Types, Merc E class, cars that have gone through decades of updates and re-engineering.

          And the new Accord is a great car, I test drove it at the Honda track in Ohio. Much better in every way than the Model 3 – and you could have 2 almost fully loaded models for the price of one Model 3!

    3. Expat

      The electric car is not the answer, but given humanity’s unwillingness to face reality, I would think that Tesla would be a bit more saintly in the eyes of the public. What is it about Tesla and Musk that so infuriates people?

      Is it that he is fabulously rich and people think the Tesla is just a billionaires hobby? Is it that people hate electric cars because they challenge their belief that God gave them the right to burn gasoline and no effete liberal with a weird name will take away their pickup truck? Is it jealousy?

      One or two Tesla crash and burn and it’s an indictment on the entire electric car industry, right?
      Can someone give me a brief course on Hating Tesla 101?

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        At NC, hating on Tesla serves to calm the nerves of the aging Howard Kunstler crowd. They are dismayed by the possibility that (everyone else’s) painful sacrifice might not be our only route out of a global environmental death spiral. The thought that the human race might have cars, meat, children, spacious homes, and yet fail to destroy the planet………… is revolting to them.

        I.e.: It’s vanishingly rare to read comments that tout the real virtues of the workhorse Nissan Leaf or Chevy Bolt. Instead, comments that touch on electric vehicles at all revolve around disparaging one high end manufacturer, and one impresario/CEO.

        Also, as you indicate, while two fiery crashes are two too many, the deaths, injuries and maimings due to use of gasoline and diesel are never discussed when battery failures are in the news. They are in the stats however: (paywall)

        1. blennylips

          global environmental death spiral

          So, do you think we are spiraling or not? My poor monkey brain failed to parse that tortured phrasing…

          Yes, barring any large scale immediate action, we are in a global environmental death spiral.

          There is no physical way for known hydrocarbon reserves to allow all a western lifestyle.

          There is no physical way to fuel our current lifestyles without fossil fuels for so many. Maybe with a lot fewer people we could do it.

          Jean-Marc Jancovici addresses Can we save energy, jobs and growth at the same time? in the most honest and refreshing manner I’ve seen in a long time. Easy (for me) to listen to french accent too!

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I think the first challenge is to know if we need the GDP to decrease, much less grow or stay the same, or not.

        2. Phil in KC

          In my part of the country, electricity comes from coal-fired generating stations. Tell me how driving what is essentially a coal-powered car is helping the planet?

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        For me, I need the money for a new Tesla elsewhere and I still have a few years of reliable transportation to go on my Prius before investing in another car.

        I admit hating the idea of colonizing Mars, personally or otherwise.

        As for jealousy, I envy the odacity to hang up on people.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          In any case, the key for me, concerning cars, is I put in fewer and fewer miles of driving.

          If the choice is 2,00 miles on a Accord and 40,000 miles on Tesla, I would take the former lifestlye.

  8. Wukchumni

    The Old Allure of New Money Robert J. Shiller, Project Syndicate

    Continental Currency issued from the 1770’s to 80’s was such a disaster to our young country in retrospect in the 1790’s, that the Federal Government didn’t issue paper money again until 1861, and it was the first of 2 hyperinflations our country (the other being CSA$) has gone through. The exchange rate for Continental Dollars to lawful specie in the 1790’s was set @ a rate of 1000-1.

    So enter the dragon, in the guise of privately issued banknotes, or as they are commonly known now, as “Broken Bank Notes”. They were the bitcoin of the day, and a great read on the subject is “A Nation Of Counterfeiters” by Stephen Mihm.

    Some of the many thousands of issuing banks were legit, and the variety so vast and the country so big, that if one were to print attractive looking banknotes from a bank in New Hampshire that didn’t actually exist, how would a merchant in North Carolina know it, if a customer presented it for a purchase?

    The backing of the currency was based upon the faith of the bank, but more importantly, will it pass?

    Nobody had to accept this private money of the day, but Federal coinage could be on the scarce side, so often, Faustian bargaining allowed banknotes not worth the paper they were printed on, to be passed repeatedly through commerce.

    1. a different chris

      >allowed banknotes not worth the paper they were printed on, to be passed repeatedly through commerce.

      But isn’t that the point of money, contra to these Bitcoin idiots? It’s just a ledger – I did something for you worth a week’s worth of food, but you don’t have the food so you give me notes that somebody who does have food will recognize as having value. They have value because that second party can hand them to sa the tractor guy for a new tractor, and the tractor guy can complete the loop by buying whatever it is that you made with my help.

      The more we spend making money itself, the more value is simply burned off. Look at the infernal combustion engine, most of what it makes is heat, not motion. The Bitcoin people I think have surpassed even that in inefficiency.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Why aren’t derivative contracts and their ilk seen as counterfeiting? A pretty direct attack on ‘the validity and trustworthiness of the nation’s currency.”

      Of course these are subject to the “if we do it, it’s OK because we are filthy rich and above the law” clause… Utility and “liquidity” BS to follow…

      1. Wukchumni

        My favorite DIY deriv is the ‘synthetic collateralized debt obligation’, so much tranche whorefare.

        1. ambrit

          That’s a tranchant insight. And no wonder when the Fed pushes money out the ‘window’ to prop up such chimeras it is known as “Pimp Priming.” I’m like the character in that between the wars fascist play; “When I hear the phrase ‘suck it up,’ I reach for my pistol.”

    3. Sid Finster

      I recall that there were even booklets circulated regularly, listing issuers of private banknotes and providing the prices those privately issued banknotes were going for as of the time of printing. It was a cottage industry at the time.

      Of course, even assuming that the pricing was accurate and the booklet was the most recent, a lot can happen between the time a booklet was printed and the time you present a banknote for payment.

      1. Wukchumni

        And all they had back then was a dial-up modem, and information flowed like molasses.

        Yes, there were illustrated books that were sold across the land of known counterfeit and/or gone under banks, but in the case of the banknote engravers, all you had to do was keep on making up new designs of fanciful financial institutions and rushing them out while the getting was good, and nobody was the wiser.

        1. ambrit

          Youngster! We had to use Morse Code “dash-dot up modems.” Information flowed like lava.

  9. RenoDino

    No Trade War with China

    Seems to me the recent big move down in bond prices had a lot to do with anticipated inflation resulting from a trade war with China. With that footstool removed, current high-interest rates look very vulnerable.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It remains to be seen if they signed a secret deal that might be hard to present to the working people of China.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Swedes told to prepare for conflict in Cold War-style booklet”

    I’m calling this a psy-ops. For years Sweden has been turning right and is not the left-leaning country of earlier times. Remember, it was Sweden that was harassing Assange with trumped up rape charges which required Sweden to break their own laws & procedures to pursue. Public opinion is slowly warming to the idea of Sweden joining NATO and I see this booklet as a way to hype up anxiety and get more people to go along with this idea. The same is happening with Finland. The size of the Swedish army is small but their territory could be used to station NATO forces in and perhaps tactical nuclear missiles as well down the track.

    1. Wukchumni

      There is some precedence for a militaristic Sweden, as they had that Adolf fellow as a leader in the 30’s.

        1. ObjectiveFunction

          Barely; their iron ores were a key component of the Nazi war machine. In fact, the postwar Swedish cradle to grave welfare state was enabled by the immense profits booked by Swedish industry both during and after the war (it helps not to have your industrial base bombed flat).

      1. No one-hit wonder

        The agency handing it out is managed by Dan Eliasson who seems to be the Social Democrats’ neoliberal hitman.

        He has destroyed the Swedish Social Insurance Agency, the Swedish Migration Agency by introducing New Public Management methods, in particular Lean production, whatever that means in these agencies. Results: e.g., record levels of denials of social insurance. Neoliberalism in your face, disabled people of Sweden!

        His ”reform” of the Swedish National Police was the idea that more administrative, not investigative, office police and less police on the streets is the way forward to fight crime. As a neoliberal consequence: a larget private security sector.

        Now he is about to take down the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency. Given the fact that the Swedish Defence Minister just signed some sort of document with Pentagon, I don’t see anything good coming out of this in terms of increased national security. On the contrary the Russia bashing is taking Baltic levels nowadays in Sweden.
        Neoliberal consequence: total military and national security readiness submission to the US. Economically already there.

    2. ewmayer

      “Remember, it was Sweden that was harassing Assange with trumped up rape charges” — charges which are especially ironic in light of the covered-up-for-decades rape scandal embroiling the Swedish Academy (charged by the Nobel Trust with handing out the eponymous prizes), news which recently appeared in NC Links.

  11. allan

    The all too aptly named Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of the instant classics,
    “Good Reasons for Going Around the U.N.” (Iraq, 2003) and
    “Why Libya Skeptics Were Proved Badly Wrong” (2011), warns

    The Philippines’ Chinese Invaders

    President Rodrigo Duterte’s pivot to China in October 2017 has led to a $328 million plan to rebuild Marawi City, recently liberated from the control of ISIS-affiliated extremists. But the reconstruction plan could fuel the fans of Islamic radicalism again. …

    Chinese money strengthens local elites and often fuels corruption. Chinese firms hire mostly Chinese workers. And Chinese plans proceed independently of local culture and input. Over time, locals who are shut out become increasingly fed up. …

    Who do the Chinese think they are?
    Only exceptional countries are allowed to strengthen local elites and fuel corruption.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Many things and ideas were first invented in China.

      Maybe there is no need to borrow this idea.

    2. ObjectiveFunction

      “What have the Romans given us?!”

      Seriously, my bet is that DU30 is reckoning that he will get a bunch of useful infra from China (accepting that Filipinos won’t get to do anything other than dig ditches and provide, umm, personal services to the Chinese welders). Then once the steel is in the ground, he will ‘renegotiate’ the debt service, reckoning the Chinese can’t “send a gunboat”, cuz US Seventh Fleet.

      I also strongly suspect most EM countries are making much the same bet. Ref this mind boggling map (first seen on these pages…)

  12. rjs

    fwiw, this is what is going to happen to the US

    Race on to boost gas supply to Australia’s east coast (Reuters) – A pipeline across Australia and gas imports from as far away as the United States are on the drawing board as the country races to plug a domestic supply gap that is driving up east coast gas prices and threatening jobs.

    Although Australia is the world’s No. 2 liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter, much of its east coast gas is tied up in long-term export contracts while mainstay supplies in the populated southeast are drying up more quickly than expected.

    Imports will be needed within four years, warn industry executives and experts, which means gas prices that have more than doubled in the past three years aren’t going to fall and could even rise another 50 percent to match global spot prices.

    “Some people still find the import of LNG to what is meant to be an energy superpower absurd, and they have a point, it does seem very weird,”

    ie, our natural gas will be being shipped to China under long term contracts (Trump is working on those contracts right now) and our east coast cities will end up paying twice as much to import LNG from Iran and Qatar.

    you’ll be able to say you heard it here first…

    1. Wukchumni

      There was a reality tv show called Boomtowners, set in the Bakken shale area a few years ago, and it followed the lives of those that hightailed it there for the oil rush, and the one thing that struck me, watching the drilling guys do their thing, a few miles down and then make an abrupt 45 degree turn and go sideways a few miles, in order to get the goods, was that i’d say it’s a given that society worldwide goes through a prolonged dark age, where skills and knowhow is lost to the ages, and it’s a pipedream that our descendants of say 2143, will be able to do anything remotely close to what was done in the Bakken, and if we’re really going after go juice that’s that hard to get, we’re scraping the barrel.

      All that leaves them left as far as energy sources go, is trees.

      1. rjs

        yeah, what they’re doing is more akin to rocket science than most people realize…

        the other aspect that is obscured in most commentary is how explosive the process is….they’re often blasting as much as 5,000 pounds of sand per foot of lateral into the bearing rock layer with downhole pressures of 10,000 psi, so we’re not talking about “fracturing” the rock, we’re talking about pulverizing it…

        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          Lithostatic pressure at these depths is quite high, as is the ambient temperature, so 10,000 psi does not have the same effect that it does at standard temperature and pressure (surface environment).

      2. Sid Finster

        Hell, imagine the chaos that would ensue if we tried to recreate Project Apollo right now. And we have infinitely more computational and information exchange power in our cell phones than all NASA had at its disposal.

        Did they even have direct long distance or intercontinental dialing in the mid 1960’s?

      3. HotFlash

        Once again I am awed by the NC Commentariat. Ms Yves, Mr Lambert, nice place you run here.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      The Chinese have being pre-purchasing natural gas for a long time now. Years ago I recall been told by a relative who worked on exploration rigs in the Gulf for a US company that the gas from the new exploration fields had already been pre-sold on a fixed cost to the Chinese for 10 years. Because gas is less fungible than oil and needs more up-front infrastructure then this sort of deal is essential to get financing for many schemes. It all works in the favour of those purchasers willing to take the very long view.

    3. Ignacio

      Very interesting rjs! Natl gas effectively works through long term contracts and migth cause this kind of “interesting” situations.

  13. Synoia

    Who is Stefan A. Halper, the FBI source who assisted the Russia investigation? WaPo. Perhaps I’m being overly cyncial, but after reviewing Halper’s career trajectory, I’d replace “FBI source” with “intelligence community asset.”

    very well paid intelligence community asset

    How good an asset would he be without the generous payments?

    1. Wyoming

      How good an asset would he be without the generous payments?

      The amount they are paid actually has little relevance to their quality. Many are not even interested in money as their motivations are not related to compensation.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Announcing New Election Partnership with the Atlantic Council”

    I was going to hammer this article but RT did a good job already at but I will make one point. The Atlantic Council you could call out as an official part of the deep state. And now they are partnering with Facebook? I can see the Atlantic Council establishing what “news” is to be pushed and Facebook providing a highly granulated way of distributing their talking points. Maybe this is the price Zuckerberg had to pay to get that Senate committee off his back so that there would be no repeat of his public dressing down.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      And let us not forget that personal visit from Mark Warner prior to that Senate committee meeting, immediately after which Mr. Z et cie. “discovered” those Russian-paid ads that fueled the subsequent demands for monitoring of “fake news” and “bots.” This after two previous explorations failed to locate anything incriminating.

      The campaign is two-pronged. One: make sure anything that’s on Facebook has been thoroughly vetted to eliminate anything that might encourage people to think about what’s happening around them. Two: encourage/frighten people who might either use the system to promulgate anti-establishment activity (the various teacher strikes were all at least partially organized on Facebook) or succumb to whatever contradictory information that manages to leak through off the system in the name of preserving their privacy.

    2. precariat

      Umm, Zuckerburg paying a price? On the contrary, he is fortifying his company with the powers that funded it in the first place.

  15. rd

    US Border Patrol is sealing off the Canadian border to prevent all of the Spanish-speaking Canadians from illegally infiltrating into the US through that porous border.

    Illegal immigrants from Canada into the US in that region are probably much more likely to be English-speaking or from a northern European or Slavic country. So I assume this was just a random check to balance out all the ID checks they had made on white, English-speaking people they ran into in Montana.

    1. Arizona Slim

      And it’s been going on for a long time.

      When I would visit my late aunt in Vermont, we’d go on rides in her car. Now, if you knew Aunt Jean, you’d be well aware of the fact that ride with her would have a theme.

      One of her favorites was northern Vermont’s long history of disreputable activities. When the weather was favorable, this ride would take us over the top of Mount Mansfield.

      Want to know what the pass over that one is called? Smuggler’s Notch. And that’s a moniker that dates from the Revolutionary War.

      Oh, crossing the border with Jean. Always an experience. Not just for her flippant attitude toward the US and Canadian borders, but for her stories.

      Take, for example, Newport, Vermont. It has a lake that straddles the border. According to Jean, some of the locals were fond of going nighttime boat rides. Y’know, because nighttime on the lake is (cough-cough) so much fun. Especially on the Canadian side.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Europe’s longest bridge and the economic impact on the Crimean peninsula”

    The author, Vishnu Rajamanickam, is a technology reporter at FreightWaves where he writes about logistics, supply chain, and anything freight. Unfortunately he should read a bit more on history and politics. Crimea is not a negligible fraction of landmass but is strategic in several ways. First, you control Crimea and that helps you dominate the Black Sea. By taking back Crimea, apart from sparing the local population the ravages of war, it denied the US the ability to build a NATO base there. The US Navy was so confident that they were moving in that back in 2014 they were letting out contracts to construct buildings in Sevastopol.
    Second, having US warships meant having tactical nuclear missiles along the underbelly of Russia which they will not tolerate. Remember when the US almost lost it when the old USSR had nuclear missiles in Cuba back in the early 60s – and that was over 100 miles from the US itself. Third, having control of Crimea means having control of what NATO estimated as oil and gas resources of between 4 and 13 trillion cubic meters ( This will pay for any infrastructure that Russia is building in Crimea.
    That bridge now makes possible trucking in all sorts of equipment to make the Crimea thrive and the Ukraine cutting off communications, water and electricity is now fully irrelevant. The strategic position and the off-shore wealth was supposed to all go to the west after the revolution but that won’t happen anymore. It is said that if you can destroy something, that you control something but I think that Frank Herbert was wrong here. I think that is is more a matter of that if you can deny someone something, then you have control it and Russia has now denied Crimea to the west for good.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Bridges are expensive infrastructure that sadly can be easily destroyed. The Russians may “control” for now, but the Fokkers who specialize in blowing stuff up have no doubt already studied just how to destroy it. Ideal false flag target? I’d say it is.

      1. ewmayer

        You forget that the blowing-stuff-uppers have plenty of easily targetable, highly valuable infrastructure of their own, which would instantly come into play should they attempt so foolish a stunt.

  17. PlutoniumKun

    Brexit weekly briefing: Irish border problem dominates debate Guardian. Shocker!

    I was at a small briefing this week with various industry reps from UK and Ireland. Representative of the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) said that they were frantically lobbying for a deal to remain in the Single Market – they were optimistic that many Tory MP’s saw the logic, but pessimistic that there was time available to force the issue.

    Northern Ireland business representative said that mainstream Northern Ireland businesses were in despair at the Tories and DUP and felt Brexit was a disaster waiting to hit them – I’ve rarely heard an industry rep sound so defeated and pessimistic. It was noted that 70% of under 30’s in Northern Ireland are Remainers. Irish construction industry rep said they were telling members to be prepared for a big drop in demand. Some discussion that the construction industry was looking at Anglo-Irish certification as a sort of backdoor way stay within EU regulatory context for some products. In other words, they would agree a certification for the purposes of trade with Ireland which would mirror EU standards.

  18. JTMcPhee

    There is no deep state. Right? As evidenced by this bit from Politico, about a “suspected plot” by a Venezuelan leader to assassinate Marco Rubio. Trump’s team gets payback for Rubio on Venezuelan assassination plot – POLITICO. And of course these guys are BFFs,

    Waiting for the latest slam on Venezuela here— though maybe since the regime-change Operation appears to be so well advanced, no need to try to kick the Maduro-Istas when they’re down?

    1. JohnnyGL

      It’s like Trump’s admin is a cartoonish version of the regime-change express…..rolling it into multiple countries simultaneously.

      If it works as well as it has so far in Turkey, Syria, and Iran, then we may soon see Russian or Chinese bases in Venezuela. These guys are just THAT good at what they do.

      1. Carolinian

        The old version was pretty cartoonish too. Cookies in the square and “Yats is our guy.”

        Unfortunately the results tend to be deadly serious.

  19. Liam

    In an ironic way its quite fascinating watching the way Britain has divided itself over Brexit. In most countries, (at least western countries), the typical divide is left v right. However, this is not always the case and most especially so for countries that have been colonised. A good example of this is, appropriately enough, Ireland, where for almost the entire history of this independent state the divide has been focused around our relation with the former empire: collaboration vs independent action, deference vs defiance. A common refrain of the Irish labour party was that Irish people thought labour but didn’t vote labour. This was because the two main parties of the state sat astride the centre ground, with Fianna Fail, (a nominally centre-left party with a conservative wing, whose name incidentally means “Soldiers of Destiny”), and Fine Gael (“the tribe of the Gael,” a nominally centre-right party with a social democrat wing), both having originated from the Sinn Fein party, (lit. “Us Ourselves”), of a century ago.

    Watching Britain now is like watching the empire run into that ex-colonial space, however, with the added twist of having not first been a colony, or at least explicitly so. It begs the question of how they got there, and to what extent through displacement?

    Another thing that appears to be a feature of ex-colonies, is the degree to which power is centralized. Ireland, once again, is a highly centralized state with just over 40% of the population living in the Greater Dublin area. However, this also appears to be true of ex-empires as much as ex-colonies, so that another question can be raised: do major empires also create colonies of themselves? And can this explain the dominance of London, Paris and Moscow, on their respective states?

    It has long struck me, at least in my anecdotal encounters, that the more reflexively deferential are also the more reflexively right-wing. Fine Gael supporters in Ireland were, and are, typically more free market, pro capital, and British oriented, than the typical Fianna Fail supporter. And they are overwhelmingly, but not exclusively, upper-middle to upper class. They strive to be British, (culturally), and see themselves as part of a common heritage with the British. Generally speaking they deride the Irish language and a significant portion of the native culture. Identity, class, and ideology merge. And yet they cannot venture far from the centre. They’re a party of the Irish state. They’re tethered culturally, and thus also ideologically.

    Deference to empire and capitalist ideology logically fit. A challenge to this observation would be to say that if the empire was a socialist one, its greatest colonial supporters would also be socialist. However, this is to miss the central ethos of both ideological strains. One concerns itself, (at least rhetorically), with the well being of society. The other concerns itself with the accumulation of capital and wealth. It is globalist. Its very raison d’etre is empire.

    When Margaret Tatcher took power in the eighties, I suspect she couldn’t have imagined Britain as it is now. And yet, where Britain finds itself is to a considerable extent a consequence of the forces she unleashed. Financial hegemony feeds geographical, cultural and class hegemony. In a society where these very fault lines are centuries old, weakening the binding forces, (or at least, the countervailing forces), is a profoundly reckless act. Manufacturing, mining, social industries and public services – all sacrificed in service to a strong pound and free-market ideology. The gutting of an empires civil service so that it can be a lean efficient organisation, like a factory producing widgets. The amplification of those geographical, cultural and class divisions, till the empire becomes its own last colony. In hindsight it should all be obvious, however, for many it is still not and cannot be, for there is displacement, there is another play.

    One ironic aspect of an event riddled with ironies is the temporary, (and I hesitate to call it this), alliance, between the most right wing and the most left wing elements of English politics; they want Brexit. That they both want Brexit for different reasons is obvious. On the right, are the Ultras, the free marketeers, who despise the regulations and rules that the statist countries of Europe seem to enjoy. They dream of swash buckling around the globe as titans of commerce and industry, as in the days of yore; an empire that can only ever be a sad caricature of itself, caught in the falacy that Europe hinders their ambitions. Maybe they’re aware of this fallacy? Maybe they just wish to be that Empire of One Colony, whilst sadistically weilding their crops. Can they be so blind as to not realise that their power resides in that square mile? That in leaving the EU, the square mile is going to crumble into the Thames?

    Is it for this that the Corbynites and Brexit supporters of the left long? That the city will drift off from the coast and drown? Is it the calculation that with those countervailing forces so gutted, the only route to progress was through an act of destruction? That the EU kept the square mile too strong to assail? These are the calculations: the great irony being that the problems on the left were not so much with the EU, but with London, the colony seeking to cow the empire. Tied to London, they had to leave the EU? The cost will be severe.

    Yet as much as there is displacement, that displacement will remain. Although Britain will have left the EU, the gravitational pull will also remain. And so also that divide in British politics; the split that runs through both Labour and the Tories: but now ex-colonial: collaboration vs independence, deference vs defiance. Almost as if they’re becoming just like us.

    1. Oregoncharles

      I don’t think it’s true of Paris or London, but Moscow literally created Muscovite Russia (as opposed to Kievan Russia, the original, aka Ukraine). It started .as the Duchy of Moscow under the Mongols, then gradually spread, like rings on water, to its full glory of empire, since reduced somewhat. The historical map is quite astonishing, especially considering most of the Tsars.

    2. VietnamVet

      It has been a few hundred years since the USA was a collection of colonies but the analysis of Ireland and Britain seem to be applicable here too. However, it is fragmented. There is a cone of silence about it. But, mid-America has become a colony of the globalists and the credentialed 10% lackeys. The land and people exist to be exploited by the corrupt. Donald Trump’s election was a reaction to this. Subsequently, the Empire wrapped the President up in a cocoon. But, the tweets keep coming. The instability caused by being ruled by outsiders will ultimately tear everything apart. It is human nature to oppose swamp creatures.

      Can the bi-coastal North American Empire reach accommodation with the central colonies without destroying itself first?

    3. Q

      In her book on totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt has pointed out that ex-colonial powers tend to transfer the violent methods they once used in the colonies to their own country, until something breaks.

  20. Geo

    Yesterday there was a link to Clinton endorsing Cuomo with a brilliant line asking if “there’s a special place in hell” for her since she didn’t endorse the woman (Nixon) in the race. On that note: Alternet (now owned by Raw Story) published a piece slandering Nina Turner without so much as reaching out to her and an appointment to Our Revolution, Figaro, in a piece claiming she made racist comments and other disparaging accusations.

    So, in that spirit: If we on the Left criticize Kamala Harris we’re racists and sexists, but when centrist Dems criticize Turner and Figaro (both women of color) they’re… what?

    Here’s Common Dreams response with actual on-the-record quotes from the people the article is about:

    1. diptherio

      Just checked out Alternet for the first time in quite awhile and hoo-boy! That site has gone to crap. It’s wall-to-wall Trump derangement syndrome. It looks like Rachael Maddow’s personal blog. Sad.

      1. Geo

        Sad is right. My visits there now days are more out of nostalgic hope than anything else. I often wonder if all the blogs I used to visit (Alternet, Crooks & Liars, etc) have really deteriorated as much as it appears or if my own tinfoil hat is on too tight. Thanks to NC I’m pretty sure it’s more them than me.

        Wish it was me though. Sad to see “The Left” devolve into manic delusions mirroring Glenn Beck style hysteria.

        1. Whoa Molly!

          Re: tinfoil hat too tight…

          Tinfoil hat ON

          Me too. The Dem’s Russia, Russia marketing program, their whining about 2016, many well funded (ex?) CIA Dems in primaries and now an extremely well funded intelligence op against team Trump is making me sympathize with The Donald! And that takes some real doing. It isnt the party of my youth or middle age.

          Tinfoil hat OFF

          1. ambrit

            Much as we like to demonize the likes of Rush and HuffPo and the Heritage Foundation, we are forced to admit that their tactics worked. The close to Nutters Right Wing of American politics is now in control of the organs of the State.
            Time for some Leftist hysteria and drama.

            1. Wukchumni

              I’m done encouraging politicians, it only emboldens them to make me more discouraged.

    2. edmondo

      I’m sorry but some of the endorsements that Our Revolution has made seem “odd” if not downright self-defeating. I guess you can cherry-pick enough position statements to make anyone look progressive but past performance seems a much better indicator of future behavior.

      OR has been rather quick to endorse a bunch of people they knew from Bernie’s 2016 campaign without any regard to the rest of the field or who might actually make an impressive run, It is politics (a form of entertainment). You gotta run in order to win and you gotta win if you want to work to get your ideas across. Not sure OR understands that yet.

      1. Geo

        Thanks for this. I honestly haven’t tracked their endorsements that closely so appreciate your perspective on it.

        The infrastructure – if it can even be called that – on the left is depressingly weak. The Green Party is useless, and progressive organizations seem to either devolve into tribal in-fighting or sell out to DNC orthodoxy.

        I try not to be a “purity pony” as the stereotype goes but when principles are so often deluded and compromised I personally just become more apathetic and nihilistic.

  21. Carolinian

    So now that CBS has taken on Google I’m sure their next 60 Minutes report will be on the dangers of media consolidation. Rupert Murdoch in the hot seat?

    The show did venture into Internet waters before when Charlie Rose gave Jeff Bezos a grilling that was more like a friendly hug. Clearly some monopolists more equal than others to the house of Moonves.

    1. zer0

      Compare 60 Minutes yesteryear, when they ran very thoughtful episodes on the Vietnam War, to now, when they interview Leon Panetta, and talk about his large estate and family (and a little of the Wars in the ME).

      America is so obsessed with the ‘royalty’ of these elites, their finances, how large their homes are, etc. its a pain to watch almost any program these days. This view as the elites being Gods and Goddesses is IMO, probably one of the most dangerous precedents to American democracy. It allows them to be more asinine, surround themselves with more sycophants, and create echo chambers that lead to abuse and immorality, while holding themselves on an ironically high pedestal.

      You hear it all the time. “We cant lower CEO pay, because if we did, we would never be able to find another <God> to do all the ‘work’ required”.

      Funny thing is, these people do no such thing as work. They merely make decisions, most of the time based on scant knowledge & facts, because they are too busy buying up the rest of the assets in America (for cents on the dollar nonetheless).

      1. Wukchumni

        n some fashion, our elites rambling holdings (how many domiciles do McCain & Romney own each?) that are pretty much perpetually empty, are no different than what archaeologists found when Chaco Canyon was excavated, in that in a Great House such as Pueblo Bonita, there were 400 rooms that weren’t lived in, but more used as repositories of stuff of great value along the likes of macaw feathers, seashells from the exotic east coast, or other must haves.

    1. Arizona Slim

      THAT was good! Thanks for posting.

      And, no, I didn’t watch a nanosecond of that wedding.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Thanks for sharing that link. Here’s another nugget from it:

      “As the news comes out that Obama holdovers in the FBI and CIA infiltrated the Trump campaign to try and elect Hillary Clinton, President Trump’s seeming lack of understanding of how the deep state operates is truly bewildering. The US increasingly looks like a banana republic, where the permanent state and not the people get to decide who’s in charge.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In ancient Rome, after a while, it became the custom for the Praetorian Guard to choose whom to put on the imperial throne.

        And many times in many Chinese dynasties, power rotated between Mandarin bureaucrats and court eunuchs, when the Son of Heaven was a weak/child emperor.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Not to mention the need for a bachelor’s, master’s or a doctorate degree is like the need for a Xiucai, Juren or Jinshi degree under feudal China’s Imperial Examination system.

            1. ambrit

              Curious situation that for, when the sons of Gengis Kahn took over most of China, they retained most of the bureaucracy to actually run the place, for them. How did they maintain control over the court functionaries? They were much more comfortable with violence and bloodshed than their more ‘civilized’ thralls.
              Lesson for today? When one establishes and normalizes a police state, it does not matter who is in charge.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                The Mongols retained and brought whomever they needed.

                From Semu Caste, Wikipedia:

                Semu (Chinese: 色目; pinyin: sèmù) is the name of a caste established by the Yuan dynasty. The Semu categories refers to people who come from Central and West Asia , it is told that there are 31 categories among them. They had come to serve the Yuan dynasty by enfranchising under the dominant Mongol caste. The Semu were not a self-defined and homogeneous ethnic group per se, but one of the four castes of the Yuan dynasty: the Mongols, Semu (or Semuren), the “Han”(Hanren in Chinese, or all subjects of the former Jin dynasty, Dali Kingdom and Koreans) and the Southerners (Nanren in Chinese, or all subjects of the former Southern Song dynasty; sometimes called Manzi). Among the Semu were Buddhist Turpan Uyghurs, Tanguts and Tibetans; Nestorian Christian tribes like the Ongud; Alans; Muslim Central Asian Persian and Turkic peoples including the Khwarazmians and Karakhanids; West Asian Jewish and other minor groups who are from even further Europe.

                The Southern Han Chinese were especially despised by the nomadic overlords, for

                1. The Southerners were too effete, too ‘civilized.’ They read books all day long, and never hunted with eagles in Mongolia.

                2. They resisted the Mongols too fierce for too long. (The siege of Xiangyang lasted six years, until some European or Muslim engineers brought with them the HuiHuiPao (trebuchet). Kublai’s son Mongke died trying to take Sichuan.

                I think at one time, some Mongols suggested that all Southerners should be killed and the entire region turned into one giant pastureland. From Wikipedia, on Yelue Chucai, a remarkable Jurchen (they were sworn enemies of Khitans and Mongols):

                Yelü Chucai used his office to save other fellow Confucian scholars from punishment and mistreatment by Mongol rulers.[4] He also helped them gain offices as bureaucrats and tutors to the Mongol princes.[5]

                While Northern China was capitulating to the Mongol onslaught, Yelü Chucai instituted several administrative reforms, like separating civil and military powers and introducing numerous taxes and levies. In response to the tough resistance the Mongol army faced while trying to conquer the Jurchen Jin’s southern capital of Kaifeng, some Mongol officers in high command recommended the complete razing of Kaifeng and the deaths of all its occupants. But Yelü Chucai convinced Genghis Khan to rule and tax the people, and make use of their extraordinary talents instead of killing all of them in order to further their own riches.[6]

                Here, it refers to Kaifeng only. I remember reading elsewhere that it was the whole Southern China.

  22. ChrisFromGeorgia

    Re: sanctions on Iran/MoA

    It won’t be linear but I suspect that in about 10 years or so it will be obvious that the Trumpster scored a massive “own goal” with the unilateral pullout from the deal and attempted restoration of sanctions.

    For one thing, failure is the theme when it comes to the US foreign policy in the ME. The failure to achieve regime change in Syria will leave a mark, as “courage” by the Syrians (with help from Iran and Russia, of course) will beget more courage by the Iranians. Maybe this time the Chinese will step up.

    China and India will be more than happy to buy up any oil not purchased by Europe, and settle in non-dollar currencies or barter. De-dollarization will be accelerated as necessity is the mother of invention.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There are believers of the Dollar.

      They see the Dollar Hegemony not going away any time soon. Certainly a future where we peg the Dollar to the Yuan, and have no ability to just create more dollars, but needing to coordinate that with the peg, is not likely in the near future.

    2. Andrew Watts

      I’m not sure there will an alternative to SWIFT as the international order evolves away from the hegemony of the American empire. China seems to favor bilateral agreements to work around US driven policies like Iran sanctions as well as founding their own equivalent multinational organizations to supplant American-dominated institutions. The Chinese already chartered a bank which sticks to dealing with Iranian trade on a bilateral basis to do an end run around sanctions.

      Who knows, maybe the Chinese will allow other countries to utilize it? I don’t know enough about the international payment system or how the US Treasury utilizes it’s domineering influence over it to manage and enforce America’s imperial policies aboard.

  23. Edward E

    Ye alliance of unsustainable expensive auto manufacturers has something like this in mind? Climate change is essentially real to GM-Ford-Diamler and the like if the rewrites of auto manufacturer efficiency standards are high enough to be a barrier to much less expensive Asian/Chinese import models.

  24. b

    Re – My Moon of Alabama piece about overuse of sanctions and the forming of an alternative global system (including for Swift).

    Bloomberg made the same point today:

    U.S. Sanction Power May Be Reaching Its Limit

    Its high time. Sanctions are acts of war. They always hit the poor people, not the people who rule. They should not be tools of a regular foreign policy. As the U.S. does not learn that it will lose its global leading role.

    1. Geo

      Thank you. Sanctions are war waged by bureaucrats. Still incredibly deadly to its victims but the killing is slower and offers better plausible deniability to the perps.

  25. FriarTuck

    The moment President Obama announced his administration would not prosecute anyone in the previous administration responsible for the multitude of fiascos related to Iraq, the motto “no one is above the law” went out the window.

    Political considerations resulted in the new motto, “no one should be prosecuted for intending to protect the homeland, no matter what actions they took to do so.”

    The rich and bankers saw it go down and got that protection to apply to them. “No one should be prosecuted if they’re too rich and well connected.”

    The thing about justice and the law is that it must be applied equally for it to mean anything. We’ve learned over the last few years that in this country, such equal applications are a myth – probably of Hollywood’s creation. We revel in the cathartic release of fantasy while those around us rob us blind and deface the very soul of our country.

    We live in a fugue state of hypernormalization – where we go about our days, pretending our society still works. There is no alternative.

    1. zer0

      I would love to know a time period when wealthy connected Americans were NOT above the law.

      I think it is more that the free-flow of information, and especially, oodles and oodles of tangible evidence has lead many to realize that America really isnt a democracy. And the financially unstable times only further underscore this point.

      Too bad it clearly snt enough. It is sad to see that American’s are more obsessed with gender neutrality, and other relatively minor issues, as compared to their economic stability. I can only pray that the revolution (and it will have to be a revolution at this point) will be more bloodless than bloody, but all signs point to the latter.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A period when no Americans were above the law?

        My guess is when Europeans first arrived at the Americas, and called themselves Americans, but before they set up any government.

        Not one single law at all in the beginning – and therefore, no one was above or under the law.

      2. flora

        hmmm…. maybe during the W admin when Texas Enron executives were tried for fraud and sent to jail? Also Worldcom executives were tried for accounting fraud and sentenced to jail. (And they went to jail. ) Also the SEC filed suit against Arthur Anderson accounting firm for obstructing official proceedings of the SEC, a felony. AA was tried and convicted but the conviction was overturned on the question of how the original jury had been instructed.

        So, less than 15 years ago, under the W. Bush admin, wealthy and connected Americans were not automatically above the law.

        1. Arizona Slim

          And when Bill Black (yes, *that* Bill Black) and his fellow prosecutors put something like 1,500 S&L executives in jail? And that was during the Reagan years?

    2. precariat

      “Fugue state of hypernormalization” — well said. I think this aptly describes those in the media. Are they — are we — at a tipping point?

      For ordinary people the unavoidable cognitive dissonance of life in US and the the corruptly constructed consensus reality is serving to wake the people up. Or it just me?

  26. Bean Counter

    Re: if Silicon Valley first destroys the newspaper business — especially local newspapers —…

    SiliconValley’s once flourishing [San Jose] Mercury News brought about its own near demise with decades of uncritical fawning over Oracle, Apple Google Facebook, etcetera, by its Editorialists, and Tech and Business columnists. There’s a reason Steve Jobs preferred the San Jose Mercury news; to this day, if they feature an expose about Big Tech it’s generally not their piece but it should have been, considering the access and archives they have.

    Not to say that the San Francisco Chronicle is that much better, but they published at least one five part expose in 1999 of opaque underbelly operations of Silicon Valley which utterly demolished Silicon Valleys treasured Meritocracy Myth (see DOUBLE-CROSSED / Silicon Valley entrepreneurs say they have been betrayed by venture capitalists and lawyers, the very people they asked for help , for one of those pieces).

    Lastly, I don’t believe either newspaper featured any exposes over the decades on the major role of the CIA/NSA/DOD and law enforcement (therefore huge public subsidizing, with no benefit to that public but near 24/7 surveillance and the highest poverty rate in the nation) in Big Tech. (The only CIA expose, was Gary Webb’s, and many know what the San Mercury ultimately did to him; aided and abetted by the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the New York Times; to my recollect). Yasha Levine wouldn’t have felt the need to write a book titled Surveillance Valley, if a once flourishing newspaper such as the San Jose Mercury News (or any of its locally ‘famed’ journalists) had done what it should have done through the decades.

    1. zer0

      But that should be obvious. I mean, when is the last time the local media WASNT controlled by the local elite? Especially when they are partly funded by the local elite.

      When economics are fragile, people follow the man behind the money even more closely.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        The thing is there used to be more newspapers controlled by different factions of the elite. In the book called “Railroaded” that I’ve been reading about the history of the 19th century transcontinentals (which has a lot of parallels to present day tech industry), the author discusses the various newspapers in California and whose mouthpiece they were. Some were pro- and others anti- railroad, and those allegiances could switch depending on who was willing to pay for good press on any given day. He also points out that the everyday citizens were well aware of which papers supported which companies.

        This is in sharp contract to today where most major cities no longer have several different newspapers and are lucky to have one or maybe two. And it’s often not clear who exactly owns them and what their bias is. How many people even know that Bezos owns the WaPo for example?

        Give me a biased paper any day, and lots of them, as long as we’re aware of who’s backing them.

        1. Lord Koos

          There has been much so media consolidation, there are few papers left that aren’t part of some conglomerate.

  27. allan

    Facebook director to start after annual meeting, avoid shareholder vote [Reuters]

    … Jeffrey Zients’ appointment does not take effect until “immediately following the conclusion” of the company’s May 31 shareholder meeting, according to a securities filing on May 8, meaning he could be able to serve a year without facing shareholder approval.

    “The optics of this are questionable,” said John Wilson, head of governance at Cornerstone Capital Group, whose clients have about 30,000 Facebook shares. …

    [Institutional Shareholder Services] Special Counsel Patrick McGurn said the lack of a vote on Zients is “suboptimal.”

    FB is to corporate governance what TSLA is to worker’s rights and functioning brakes.

  28. WJ

    Takeaway from offGuardian piece is that Propornot is traceable via web analysis software to produce evidence-grade proof of responsible parties. Hence sue the bastards!

    “If your news or commentary website was damaged because of Propornot, Hamilton 68, or any of the associated spies for hire like Aaron Weisburd, Joel Harding, Clint Watts, etc, you can now see that recourse isn’t just possible, it’s either you or them. Make sure it’s them.”

  29. Bob

    “Teen who started fire that burned 48,000 acres ordered to pay $36 million CNN (UserFriendly). And Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon were ordered to pay… were ordered to pay… Well, I’m having a hard time remembering the amount.”

    Thanks for this comment! +1

    There’s a lot of vile and hate for the kid here in Oregon. Too many people trying to find one single person to blame for a systemic problem. No one’s suggesting the sellers of fireworks pay anything, no one is suggesting the adults that set off illegal firework all over Oregon have any responsibility for setting a bad example. And of course people who build their homes or businesses next to a forest that is prone to natural fires need to accept some responsibility, right? What about global warming?

    Here’s a nice commentary from some forest scientists at Oregon State University. It’s a video. About minute 4:20 the scientist talks about all the positives for the forest that come from a fire.

    1. Wukchumni

      As the drought raged in the worst winter of 2014-15, we took a drive to Cedar Grove in Kings Canyon NP, which resembles Yosemite with towering granite walls, and so-so waterfalls, as you plunge into the Kings River canyon.
      We took a drive there in early May after they opened the gates to entry, and along the way, we saw ridges where 30-40% of the trees were newlydeads from the bark beetle, it was stark looking.

      When the 151,000 acre Rough Fire was doing it’s thing for 4 months from August on, every day in the far distance 35 miles away, a mushroom cloud would build to it’s crescendo close to 13,000 feet, and then as the sun set, collapse like a deflated soufflé, only to rise again the next day, the shape sometimes resembling a phoenix perhaps?

      We took the same drive to Cedar Grove the next spring post fire, and the riot of wildflowers was on the verge of causing a panic.

      An awful lot of those dead pine trees (along with very much live ones) we saw earlier in the year were burned to a crisp, as thunderclaps reigned overhead and let loose with voltage.

      …a clean sweep

    2. Lord Koos

      Be that as it may, that kid was totally irresponsible that day. Part of the rage is because it is a local favorite spot and one of the most beautiful drives in the country. The $36,000,000 judgement seems for show, they will never be able to collect it.

      1. VietnamVet

        A little person’s life destroyed. Not that it matters. A teachable moment for debtors.

      2. Expat

        He is the Jerome Kerviel of the Environment. The Powers That Be can blame climate change, loss of wildlife, and pollution on this kid while relaxing rules for mining and industry.

  30. Lord Koos

    Re: Stradivarius violins, duh! What a non-story — of course they mimic the sound of the human voice. Many instruments do that, but the strads do it so well, it’s what makes the sound of them so compelling (when well-played). They still don’t know why the Stradivarius instruments sound more vocal than many other violins, although some think the secret is from the varnish that he used.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Actually, fungi treated new violins are said to sound better than Stradivarius, I think, instead of the originals being infested with fungi, though they (the centuries old originals) might have had some along the way.

          Google Stradivarius and fungi.

  31. skippy

    Ref: Defending Digital Democracy

    But yeah… hows one supposed to get the human agency [tm] out of voting unless we set up machines like the – market – too do it, so ethics or morals are moot e.g. freedom from others bias views. You know… decentralization thingy of Atomized Individualism via the price is always right. Not that monopolies or trading 3X ways or crapified information [milgram] et al would ever…. what was I saying again…

    Oh yeah… were having a fund raising drive for our social agenda [DDD] and amounts scale to access and rights….

    Good thing I’m off to sort more VJs and press panal ceilings, although slapping enviro on a product like doors does not make them A grade I can tell you.

  32. troutcor

    RE: Threat to Rules-based post-War order
    What, exactly, were those “rules?”
    The US makes them, and everyone else has to follow them?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The International Free Trade Conspirators make the rules, and national bussinesses ( including American national bussinesses) and everyone else has to follow them.

  33. Susan the other

    Scientific American. Quantum Weirdness. I guess our microtubules are too big to perceive the finer points of time. We have klunky brains. The graph of the how quantum states are determined by both past and future (TSVF) was like a graph of time using vectors and time to plot the future itself. Is it even possible to do a scale model of time? Love to see one. What would it look like all plotted out in the tiniest particles and antiparticles. The amazing concept of capturing time by spitting a photon into three vectors using mirrors was pure genius. And the photon went to three separate boxes simultaneously. And I always thought time was an arrow. No hazy glow involved. Wish I understood it. I have lately been apprehensive that there is no such thing as the future – it’s just our best description of entropy.

  34. precariat

    “The Princes, the President and the fortune seekers”

    There is almost to much to say about this piece — a window into the corruption and venality in DC.
    A cabinet secretary.
    A congressman.
    A think tank.
    And one knows these are the tip of the iceberg. Two criminals profitting hugely from the Swamp. However, people such as Broidy and Nader never would be sucessful if not for the outright whoring in DC. And notice none of the participants are charged with *anything.* Only attention and exposure via an a lawsuit against Qatar and the Nader/Seychelles connection. Business as usual. Wondering if any who believed Trump’s mendacious “clean the swamp” talk will read this piece.

    Contrast these two criminals reception with the treatment an ordinary citizen gets for applying for SNAP benefits. How the US legally and culturally treats those with money and those without is getting unsustainable. It’s codified now that ordinary people are “presumed guilty” and the rich, well, they are allowed leeway for almost anything.

  35. ewmayer

    o “And Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon were ordered to pay… were ordered to pay… Well, I’m having a hard time remembering the amount.” — Here, let me finish that for you: “Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon were ordered to pay themselves record bonuses for doing God’s Work!™” Another impressive entry in the Obama Legacy Files.

    o “Cockroaches are the most popular insect in America.” — And it would appear that some of them even use Twitter!

    o “Defending Digital Democracy Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs” — Lambert, I’m gonna adapt one of your pet economic aphorisms here: If your democracy depends on a technology platform, you don’t have a democracy.

    o ‘Insanely, Google doesn’t bring up this Cleveland Plain-Dealer link in a search for “cms ohio individual mandate.”’ — DukDuckGo brings up a single sponsored-link entry, and several relevant articles right below that. Why on earth are you still using Google? Or were you just checking how crapified Google has made its search function?

    o “Scientists find secret behind sweet sound of Stradivarius violins | Guardian (DL; original).” — Lemme guess, they’re actually made of balsa wood? (Note that the Guardian piece focuses on the “why do we perceive the sound as particularly pleasing?” aspect – possible explanations I’ve seen for the “whence the alleged special sound qualities?” aspect range from extra-dense wood grown during the Little Ice Age to ‘special secret varnish” recipes.)

  36. KFritz

    Re: Stradivarius and Amati

    Scusi! The new research on the sound of the great violin makers is very interesting. BUT. The article fails to mention Guarneri violins, excellent instruments from the same city of Cremona. This is especially annoying as a descendant of the family–Johnny Guarnieri–was an American jazz pianist of some standing.

    Worse, the article repeats the old saw about the superiority of the Cremonese instruments, after more than one study has shown that 20th and 21st century luthiers are creating instruments that sound at least as good, in the hands of experts.

    Johnny Guarnieri has a Wikipedia article, and an intelligent google search will turn up plenty of confirmation of the high standard of contemporary violins.

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