Links 6/15/18

Achilles The ‘Psychic’ Cat Predicts Russia Win In World Cup Opening Match NPR (David L)

Which toxic body trend are you hoping to achieve this summer? Daily Mash

Tiny bug inflicts massive damage year after hail storm Wunderground (Tom K)

Big Oil CEOs needed a climate change reality check. The pope delivered Guardian (David L)


China’s Global Electricity Takeover Wolf Street (EM)

China’s economy is starting to show its true colors again Business Insider

North Korea

Ending the Korean War: A Transnational Dialogue Verso

The Real Results Of The Trump-Kim Summit – Freeze For Freeze (And Some Amusement) Moon of Alabama (Kevin W)

Intentions Matter More Than Weapons ConsortiumNews

Pompeo admits implementing North Korean deal will not be easy Asia Times

Iran Warns North Korea About The United States OikPrice

Blackstone Becomes Biggest Hotel & Property Owner in Spain Wolf Street (EM)


Brexit: ‘call Ireland’s bluff’ on Border, Rees-Mogg tells May Irish Times (PlutoniumKun). I believe he is so stupid that he believes what he is saying.

Tory rebellion back on after MPs reject May’s Brexit amendment Guardian

EU officials claim Brexit postponement may be an option if talks get messier Bloomberg. Note Bloomberg is the only outlet running this story; as of this hour, no one is even re-reporting it. The UK would have to ask, all 27 nations would have to agree, and the most they’d entertain would be a couple of months. No indication that anyone at the Merkel or Macron level is on board. Having said that, if everything has been pretty much sorted out but the two sides need an extension for operational reasons, as in to clean up the draft agreement (which would almost certainly be a very long document) and get all the approvals, that would not be politically controversial. But if the two sides are still far apart, and the UK is still in denial land, that’s another kettle of fish. Recall also that there is a history of Barnier offering concessions to the UK that were slapped down by national leaders, so this idea could fall into that category. I think the EU does want to do what it can to look like it has been accommodating within reason, but the UK has been so asinine that at a certain point, one has to let events play out.

Irish economy is growing substantially but Brexit ‘poses major threat’ The Journal (PlutoniumKun). See underlying report: Central Bank Publishes Macro-Financial Review 2018

New Cold War

Yellow Journalism and the New Cold War Counterpunch


Amnesty International report finds US guilty of war crimes in Syria World Socialist Web Site

Israel is about to destroy this Palestinian village. Will Britain step in? Guardian

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Cops Are Confident iPhone Hackers Have Found a Workaround to Apple’s New Security Feature Motherboard

Tariff Tantrum

Trump Approves Tariffs on About $50 Billion of Chinese Goods Wall Street Journal

Trump is about to approve $50 billion of tariffs on Chinese goods and take his trade war to a whole new level Business Insider

China vows fast response to US tariffs BBC

Trump Transition

Surge in children separated at border floods facility for undocumented immigrants NBC (furzy)

How We Got Here: The Disturbing Path that Leads to Child Prison Camps Texas Observer (UserFriendly)

Trump looking to erect tent cities to house unaccompanied children McClatchy

New York AG sues Trump, alleging ‘illegal conduct’ at his charity Politico

Five takeaways on the IG’s scathing report on the FBI The Hill

Report rebukes Comey, but says no bias in Clinton email case Reuters (furzy)

Dems say Obama return from sidelines is overdue The Hill. UserFriendly: “No, it isn’t.”

Is Government Corruption More Common, or Are We Just Better at Finding It? Governing. UserFriendly’s missive to the author:

​No, the Supreme Court legalized corruption in ​McDonnell v. United States making just about everything except explicit quid pro quo totally above board.  And even when we do have explicit quid pro quo, like Sheldon Adelson making his substantantial financial backing of Trump contingent on his agreeing to move Israel’s embassy, there isn’t a peep out of anyone because they are all just as bought off by various other AIPAC appendages.

Actually, corruption is so pervasive in absolutely every level of US government that it seriously brings the viability of capitalism as a whole into doubt.  You have a citizenry who get to select which of the 5 billionaire owned media conglomerates will be delivering their oligarch friendly messaging to them; which has been curated over years of hiring and firing any staff that look mentally capable of threatening the status quo.

There is a big reason that just about every pundit was oversure Clinton was going to win; passionate corporate friendly centrism is a defacto job requirement to have your voice amplified in the contemporary US.

That is why inequality is sky high and growing, that is why most of the country is still much worse off financially than they were in 2007.​  That is why the jobs that are available are demeaning, underpaid and precarious.  That is why wages aren’t increasing significantly.  That is why more Americans choose to kill themselves, in one way or another, every year than died in the Vietnam and Iraq wars combined.

The only question posed to voters every November is would you like us to completely ignore you in favor of Wall Street and the donor class with or without a side of LGBTQ rights?  It is no wonder people have stopped voting, no matter who gets elected it’s always the billionaires who win.

​The fact that you would even consider the absence of evidence, evidence of absence in such a time honored and lucrative past time as graft is quite jaw dropping.

Supreme Court strikes down ban on political apparel at polling places The Hill

Dollar’s Eroding Purchasing Power Inflates Retail Sales Wolf Street (EM)

Top bank regulator ‘not aware’ of ‘old boys’ club’ in industry Politico

United States, Saudi Arabia and Russia Find Agreement on Oil Policy New York Times (Kevin W)

Glencore DRC judgment will jack up metals prices John Dizard, Financial Times

Musk’s Boring Company wins bid to build high-speed system in Chicago Reuters (EM)

Class Warfare

People Can’t Pay Rent, Debt Is Insane, and the Economy Is Somehow ‘Great’ Vice

How Much Does a 2-Bedroom Apartment Cost in Your State? CityLab (Carolina)

Why employment rates in the US have lagged other countries VoxEU

Self-Driving Cars Likely Won’t Steal Your Job (Until 2040) Slashdot

Another Reason Young Americans Don’t Revolt Against Being Screwed Counterpunch (Chuck L)

A British Plumber May Show Uber the Future of Employment Bloomberg

This Is What Plutocracy Looks Like! Seattle’s Amazon Tax Is Ejected before a Dime is Collected NonProfit Quarterly

Gig Economy Data Cornell University ILR School (Chuck L)

8 Reasons Young Americans Don’t Fight Back: How the US Crushed Youth Resistance Films for Action. Chuck L” “Bruce Levine’s original essay from 2011. In the background of the photo is the Minnesota state capitol building in St. Paul.”

Antidote du jour. Bill B on Biggie Mayor’s Town Hall:

Hooray, Biggie overcomes his claustrophobia.

Look closely and you’ll notice that Biggie’s girth fills up his new digs. Leading to the following question: did he enter head first or simply back in?

And a bonus video from Gary P: “Taken from my riverbank deck, earlier today. The pelicans spooked, because one of them noticed me watching.”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. larry

      Thanks, vlade. I saw this, too. Provides something of a context. And of course, it has nothing whatever to do with his theory of relativity.

      1. vlade

        TBH, China in 1920s-1950s was a hellhole, one of the worst in 20th century I’d say.

        His comments (or indeed, comments of anyone from a certain age) should always be taken in the context of that age and place, not judged by today’s standards.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yes, I’d agree with this, that whole kerfuffle seemed to me an attempt to stir up attention for a new book. The type of comment he made was pretty much par for the course for the time (actually very mild), and many of those comments (such as describing conditions in China as filthy) were simply accurate. He was simply a tourist out of his normal environment and not particularly enjoying it.

          1. ape

            There’s a totalitarian flavor to the whole story — as if Einstein’s anti-racist public positions weren’t enough, he had to also be anti-racist at all times in the privacy of his diary and his own head. Thought-crimes and all that, like in the earlier noise about Malinkowski’s diaries.

            The worst crime nowadays seems to be any whiff of “hypocrisy” — rather than make real more judgements, we want to undermine moral judgement with a certain amoral totalitarianism.

            1. ewmayer

              So Einstein was a classic European-style autocratic husband – not pretty, but not at all unusual for the era. The reader must decide whether it is fair to judge him or their relationship by modern standards.

              Also, the article repeats the highly dubious “stole his wife’s ideas about relativity” claim, which I addressed in yesterday’s Links. Further, this part is wildly off:

              One would hope that the logical conclusion to this tale of Einstein [in 1914] making preposterous demands of his wife and the mother of his children would be Marić dumping his sorry a** — fast. However, for the sake of their two children, Marić acquiesced to her husband’s demands, and the two remained married for another five years, which couldn’t have been very enjoyable for her.

              That implies that Maric agreed to be his live-in servant for 5 more years, which is patently false. From her bio on Wikipedia (see link in my aofremnetioned comment), bolds mine:

              The marriage had been strained since 1912, in the spring of which Einstein became reacquainted with his cousin, Elsa. They began a regular correspondence. Marić, who had never wanted to go to Berlin, became increasingly unhappy in the city. Soon after settling in Berlin, Einstein insisted on harsh terms if she were to remain with him. In 1914, she took the boys back to Zürich, a separation that was to become permanent. Einstein made a legal commitment to send her an annual maintenance of 5600 Reichsmarks in quarterly instalments, just under half of his salary.[27][28] After the required five years of separation, the couple divorced on February 14, 1919.[29]

              And he certainly did not prove to be a deadbeat dad:

              They had negotiated a settlement[30] whereby the Nobel Prize money that Einstein anticipated he would soon receive was to be placed in trust for their two boys. Einstein would receive the prize for his work, and she would receive the money. Marić could draw on the interest, but had no authority over the capital without Einstein’s permission.[31][32] After Einstein married his cousin Elsa in June 1919, he returned to Zurich to talk to Marić about the children’s future. During the visit, he took Hans Albert for a sail on Lake Constance and Eduard to Arosa for convalescence.[citation needed]

              In 1922, Einstein received news that he had won the Nobel Prize in November. His divorce agreement promised her his Nobel Prize money. Under the terms of the agreement, the money was to be held in trust for their two boys, while she was able to draw on the interest.[33] Based on newly released letters (sealed by Einstein’s step-granddaughter, Margot Einstein, until 20 years after her death), Walter Isaacson reported that Marić eventually invested the Nobel Prize money in three apartment buildings in Zurich to produce income.[34][35] Marić lived in one, a five-storey house at Huttenstrasse 62; the other two were investments.

              In 1930, at around 20, Eduard had a breakdown and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. By the late 1930s the costs of his care at the University of Zürich’s psychiatric clinic “Burghölzli” overwhelmed Marić. She sold two houses to raise funds for his care and maintenance.[36] In 1939, Marić agreed to transfer ownership of the Huttenstrasse house to Einstein to prevent its loss as well, but retained power of attorney. Einstein made regular cash transfers to Marić for Eduard’s and her own livelihood.[37]

              Admittedly the reality lends itself less to a howls of virtue-signaling outrage than does your article’s cartoonish propaganda version.

                1. blennylips

                  Oh the horror of google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)!

                  Look at the differences avec et sans AMP”



                  Which do you think the Independent would prefer?

                  google amp turn off

                  (Yeah! Editable)

                    1. blennylips

                      Sorry adrena, I was off on AMP (pet peeve;), not the entirely believable notion that the wife got overlooked.

                      Thank you for the links!

                2. ewmayer

                  Not a horror at all, simply completely unsupported by the historical record. But given the blatant falsehoods and twistings of facts in the Medium piece you linked, facts are clearly less important to you than is the pushing of some identity-politics narrative.

                  Which is not to say there aren’t plenty of examples of leading women scientists who indisputably did get screwed over by the male-dominated establishment – Lise Meitner, Rosalind Franklin and Emmy Noether come to mind. Ms. Maric simply happens to be a poor example upon whom to hang one’s narrative here, since there is simply no there there, requiring the advocates to make sh*t up.

                  1. adrena

                    Ms Maric simply happens to be a poor example upon whom to hang one’s narrative here, since there is simply no there there, requiring the advocates to make sh*t up.

                    I disagree.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I think a question we ask is if that prompted anyone to devote time or energy to what they saw.

        3. Big River Bandido

          His comments (or indeed, comments of anyone from a certain age) should always be taken in the context of that age and place, not judged by today’s standards.

          This is the case with all of history. There are plenty of things people of this century do routinely and take for granted — take showers daily, own and drive or ride in cars, to cite just two examples — which posterity will likely view with repugnance and horror. (That’s assuming that posterity survives beyond the 21st century.)

          I think we have to look at all history and historical figures with much more realism and understanding than people tend to do today.

      2. Louis Fyne

        And of course the poverty/deprivation of 1920’s China was absolutely 100% due to 100+ years of Western colonialism/interventionism. How about focusing on that indignant media?

        That those passages bubbled to the top of this week’s news cycle illustrates how absurd clickbait-fueled “Identity Politics Puritanism” has become. I thought that it was the right-wingers who were moral absolutists incapable of understanding historical or cultural context.

        PS, PC police also need to add Jack London (among others) to the “banned books list.” If you thought Einstein was bad to the Chinese….

        1. Sid Finster

          Identity politics puritanism offers unparalleled opportunities for self-righteousness and also virtue signalling.

          1. Mark Gisleson

            ID politics was (essentially) my minor in college in the mid-’80s. Great academic discipline, highly recommended.

            It has no place in campaign politics. None whatsoever. For starters, it’s not a well defined discipline. If you want to blow up an ID pol’s head, ask them if you’re allowed to listen to Miles Davis (he used to beat Cicely Tyson), enjoy looking at a Picasso (serial abuser), read William Burroughs (shot his g’friend in Mexico), etc.

            ID politics struggles to answer these questions, yet its political advocates have no trouble passing instant judgment on other people and events. As a political force, it’s about as honest as judging people by their cranial measurements (which they would do if they thought it worked to their advantage).

            1. Big River Bandido

              I actually heard a speech in January by a dance program administrator who said we need to re-evaluate Martha Graham because she was verbally abusive to her dancers.

              1. nycTerrierist

                operative term here: ‘administrator’

                good thing MG wasn’t up for a job in his/her program! ;-)

                1. Lambert Strether

                  > operative term here: ‘administrator’

                  It has occurred to me that Democrat either/or silo-ing of indentities is driven by donor class funding, which also tends to be siloed by identity. So the Democrats are suffering under a version of Conway/s Law.

          2. hidflect

            I gave up watching the once very popular internet TV show, The Young Turks because I’d come home after a long, hard day at work only to listen to Ana Kasperian shout about how a WHITE male did this and that but never call out anyone Chinese, Aboriginal, etc. Identity politics is toxic to the people who peddle it. It’s riddled with inconsistencies and virtue signalling while insulting groups of people who’ve done nothing wrong.

        2. John

          True, colonialism sucked, but don’t forget a corrupt, Chinese imperial oligarchy/plutocracy contributed its share to the filth and obtuseness. Mao didn’t crush a vibrant, democratic, capitalist dream of America in the 50’s. The Chinese know their history.

    1. habenicht

      do you get the feeling like the entire society is slipping into a huge, overarching Gresham dynamic? (apologies to Bill Black, but roughly enabling bad actors drives out good actors who can’t “compete”)

      Soon citizens won’t be able to make it here unless they know how to grift….


  1. vlade

    On the EU extentsion – IIRC, the article says that it would have to be a “clean up” extension of a couple of months at most. That said, North today is less sceptical on this (not explicitly), and seems to be saying that the EU may not have been fully prepared and thus may give concession to the UK (of a very short time) – but the UK would have to ask first. He’s saying, and I’d agree with him, that the concession would be entirely for the EU’s benefit as to deal with some of the issues (his particular one was to legitimise the existing RR engine used in EU aibuses + the spares presumably already in the EU) that would be critical for EU too, not a favour to the UK at all.

    But if the UK didn’t ask for the extension, the EU would still happily let the UK drive off the cliff.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, the article seems to be just acknowledging that the feasibility of a time extension is being discussed internally – as you’d expect. And North would be correct to say that the EU may well see it in their own interests. However, as it needs EU27 unanimity I think it would be avoided at all costs due to the potential embarrassment of a country withholding consent for their own political reasons – perhaps Spain thinking its a good time to get a concession on Gibraltar.

      1. vlade

        TBH, I’m not sure how that would work, as it would still be time-limited, so the question of people holding up vs. potentially limited gains is different than when it’s open-ended negotiations.

        It’s sort of “you have a strong hand until midnight. Then you have no hand, and a lot of people are going to be very angry with you – including some of your constituents”. Game of chicken is pretty dangerous, no matter who plays.

        TBH, the reason why it’s getting voiced now may well be so that any horse trading is done now, and EU is united when it comes to the need to extend.

        I still believe it’s unlikely, but not outside of realm of possible.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I do think that once its apparent that a no-deal Brexit is likely (which is fast coming upon us), there will be a lot of pressure – in particular from Ireland – for the EU to do anything it can to postpone the crunch, even if it means being a little creative with the rules.

          I think that it all comes down to the attitude of the big hitters in Europe to this, and a lot of this depends I think on their own domestic situations. Its not impossible, for example, that Merkel might not be Chancellor before next year due to the difficult coalition negotiations. I wouldn’t underestimate the natural reflex of most politicians to postpone difficult situations for as long as possible. And there is also the very obvious desire of Brussels to ensure that the blame for ensuing chaos can be placed firmly on London.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Probably not as much as the UK. First, readers have suggested Ireland is cognizant of the risks and is preparing. Second, Dublin is one of the preferred locations for London firms to move staff and operations so as to preserve access to the EU. One reader (was it even PlutoniumKun himself?) said his gym, which sounded like it was in a funky converted building (former mill? Former warehouse?) where the other occupants sounded like they were somewhat edgy restaurants and boutiques, was shuttering because the building had been bought and was to be demolished and replaced by a big new building. City related relocation was the driving force.

      1. polecat

        ‘Cats’ .. plural
        Although I can attest to experiance, having our crusty feline (8 years deceased, RIP !) when still youngish, leap straight up from the floor .. and proceed to grab, and bite, the top of my head .. with vigor !! Turns out, the rocker that polecat was lounging in just happened to pinch his tail .. on the ‘down rock’ as it were, unbeknownst to me. So yeah, vertical take-off, and landing, cat style.
        Boy, was he pissed !

  2. cnchal

    > A British Plumber May Show Uber the Future of Employment Bloomberg

    Pimlico’s chief executive officer, Charlie Mullins, and its lawyers tried to play down the importance of the ruling, arguing that lawmakers are currently reviewing the country’s employment laws.

    “For those who think this is a victory for poorly paid workers everywhere, against large corporations who exploit their lack of bargaining power, think again,” Mullins said, adding that he was “disgusted” by the ruling. The company had already lost twice at lower courts.

    A corporate “leader” let’s his hair down and reveals what is truly important, exploitation of peasants.

      1. Annieb

        RWood, thank you for posting this. Sawant makes an excellent point that if we want a democracy that works for all of us, we can’t rely on the bought and paid for Democratic Party. We have to create large powerful independent constituencies to pressure our local political bodies. The Seattle-Amazon situation is a prime example. But I would go further, probably into wishful thinking, that we need to create an independent national party to effectively challenge the twiddle dum twiddle dee major parties.

  3. Andre

    Yea, Biggie entered head first, then turned around, cuz cats, even fat ones, can do that, and they want to be able to see any threats in front of them, that’s why they’re always looking out of the box! LOL

  4. paul

    While I’m not surprised it hasn’t turned up in NC links, because it has been mightily repressed in the UK press, the steamrollering of the 1998 devolution settlement in westminster this week.
    As enoch powell opined: devolved powers are powers retained

    I recall mentioning that some academics thought it might pose a problem, but when the rubber hits the road, the stamp marked ‘we are the masters’ is taken out of the drawer.

    1000 extra members for the SNP this week, tinsel lining.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I’m not in touch with day to day politics in Scotland, but there are certainly suggestions that the open contempt shown to the Scots by the government in their Brexit negotiations is building up a lot of resentment in the wider community. The SNP want to ride the wave of course (not least because its a stick they can use against Corbyn as well as May), but they are clearly biding their time to push for another vote on independence.

      1. paul

        A lot of resentment is building, but the mainstream media is firmly sticking its arse in the dyke.

        Nothing is printed or broadcast the does not toe the unionist line.

        If we are lucky, we might get to endure the bella caledonia, augustinian milquetoastes like gerry hassan trotting out their bullshit

  5. SimonGirty

    Re, working out for Summer: My oldest surviving friend was just jumping rope in a DC suburb, “for stress” as we texted, around 6:20A. I’d reminded her to look out for nervous cops (her neighbor just got shot six times, in an adjacent parking lot). I’m glad she’s not running, but feel guilty (as I debate eventually arising, to make more sweet potato pancakes) about being such a tub o’ lard. Beats smoking cigarettes, just watching the dog taunt the does, like the last place I lived? Maybe, I’ll drive to Birmingham and hang out in a century old pipe mill at 4AM, hang out with armed bikers amongst the bobcats, an’at? I’m wondering how NC addicts spend their early mornings?

    1. Janie

      In the Pacific time zone, links are posted at 4 AM. So, after feeding the cat and letting the dog out, we get our tea and read. Thank you all at NC for that and for all you do.

        1. SimonGirty

          That’s it. With al Jazeera pretty much gone, DW mediocre, and my old Central Asian ICQ buddies, well… awaiting transmigration? With all my old friends banished from C&L, Wonkette, Alternet, MoJo, Guardian by CTR trolls two years back. Just where does one turn at 4AM, in this city that’s always asleep, a numbing one, plopped in a heap? I keep trimming blog-aggregators from my news-reader as one source after another is bought up by libertarian billionaires or join the K Street “Russia, Russia, Russia” echo-chamber, so yeah… thanks to all here, I really appreciate your posts.

  6. Steve H.

    > Lisa Page text to Peter Strzok: “(Trump’s) not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”

    Strzok reply: “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.”

    Rep. Mark Meadows
    (via J Robb).

    {ed: Just saw this was noted yesterday in comments, but worth the repeat.}

  7. Dan

    Re: “Minimum Wages Can’t Pay for a 2-Bedroom Apartment Anywhere”.

    It would be good to see data on how this situation has changed over a few decades. It would useful for understanding relatively how bad this situation is (or not).

    1. Wyoming

      An anecdote on this from my recent trip to Sacramento.

      I was visiting my son who is big into activism and we got to talking about all the people I was seeing come wandering into the town in the morning near my hotel/restaurant. He said that they were coming from the large homeless camps along the river and another area near me. Said there were some 6,000 living in them.

      He was telling me that almost 50% of the people in the homeless camp actually had jobs and a significant percentage of those jobs were full time. It was just too expensive to rent. He also told me that he knew of several people with masters degrees who were living in their cars for the same reason.

      His 1300 sq ft house in a nice area of the city goes for over a half million and costs about 2 1/2 times what a similar house would cost here in AZ (maybe 3 times). It is 2 bedroom 1 bath so about the same as an apartment. He says a lot of his neighbors actually commute to San Francisco via train/BART at about 2 hours each way as they cannot afford to buy there at all.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Too many people.

        Not enough housing units.

        Plus the Fed induced housing bubble and Wall Street buying up rental units.

    2. Mark Gisleson

      One thing that I think has changed is the nature of housing. When my $1.25 minimum wage was enough to buy food, it still didn’t pay rent and I shared a house with friends who’d also dropped out of school (1973). Food was more expensive as well.

      But the difference was that no one forced my 20-year-old self to buy health insurance. I had no student debt (my two years at Iowa State cost me $1000 in tuition and I’d saved most of that in high school). Gas was well under 50¢ a gallon and hundred dollar clunkers were easy to find.

      But housing was never cheap. Instead there were other options. In addition to flop hotels/motels (which are rarely cheaper than rent) we had boarding houses, roommates, shared houses, etc. Not just young people either. In 1972 I shared a house with strangers all of whom were much older than me. It wasn’t uncommon. Now such arrangements would be the opening scene in a new horror movie.

      Crappy answer to your question, but so many things were different that it’s hard to explain how it was better (but moneywise, it was).

    3. JCC

      Anecdotally speaking, in 1973 I shared a two bedroom apt on a 3/4 of fulltime job making about a dollar over minimum wage (around 4.00 an hour if I remember correctly, and “under the table”). The apt was a clean decent place in a lower income neighborhood in a medium-sized town in Upstate NY.

      During summer months I scaled back on the part-time job and took on a full time day job to assist paying for school.

      I paid for 12 credit hours a semester at the local Community College, including books, with the same paychecks, picking up 2 AS degrees in three years and had enough money left over for decent weekend entertainment along with book and LP record purchases, etc.

      Today I would need a couple of credit cards to live the same lifestyle, but I sure would not live with the near complete lack of anxiety I lived with then.

      I think my younger workmates here in a small town in CA, when they hear this, don’t believe me.

      1. Annieb

        Indeed, it is hard for young people to believe the benefits we enjoyed in the ‘70s. In CA junior colleges were tuition free. And there were Calif state scholarships that could be used at any university that you would accept you, , including expensive private ones like USC. Child care was free at univ of Calif, and there was inexpensive student housing. Student aid was plentiful, including grants.
        You could easily graduate debt free. Or at least with a very manageable debt.

        During the 2016 campaign, when Bernie proposed free college, many scoffed at the idea calling it socialism. They criticized young supporters saying they just wanted “free stuff.” The mean spirited critics want us to forget the USA that used to be.

        1. nycTerrierist

          “During the 2016 campaign, when Bernie proposed free college, many scoffed at the idea calling it socialism. They criticized young supporters saying they just wanted “free stuff.” The mean spirited critics want us to forget the USA that used to be.”

          IIRC Hillary’s bad faith re: free tuition, opining she didn’t believe her kids and Trump’s should
          go to college for free. ‘America is already great’! – for them!

          1. EoH

            It wasn’t socialism, not in the way a socialist would understand it, as opposed to the way the term is abused in the US.

            Free or low-cost university education was the pre-Governor Reagan norm in a California, which thought that free public education for all who could take advantage of it, like free public highways, was a public good. Everyone else could go to Stanford or Edward L. Doheny’s favorite charity, USC.

          2. Procopius

            The Democrats make a huge mistake with requiring means testing and “skin in the game.” I don’t care if Jamie Dimon’s kids want to go to a “free” university instead of Harvard. If he/they pay taxes, let ’em go. Same as with Social Security. It would save much less than it would cost to cut Social Security for high income people. One reason Social Security has such low admin overhead is because we don’t waste money by hiring people to exclude beneficiaries. Insurance companies do that, which is why they could not compete with government-provided health care. People are not able to shop for health care, so co-pays and deductibles just prevent people from getting care. If that’s what you want to do, admit it, don’t claim the high costs are due to people using “too much” health care.

    4. Big River Bandido

      I was a kid in Iowa in the 1970s, and while I wasn’t cognizant of rents and the cost of goods, I do recall that everyone seemed to have a lot more free time, and a lot less stress.

  8. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Is Government Corruption More Common, or Are We Just Better at Finding It? Governing.

    From User Friendly:

    The only question posed to voters every November is would you like us to completely ignore you in favor of Wall Street and the donor class with or without a side of LGBTQ rights?

    Perfectly stated. Note to stephen colbert, samantha bee, bill maher and their ilk–this is how it’s done.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Along those lines, this has to be one of the most extreme comparisons ever of juxtaposed lavish wealth (Wall Street, if you will) and grinding poverty (Latinx/AA). It compares Jose Serrano’s House district in the South Bronx to Tom Suozzi’s district on the North Shore of suburban Long Island, where Tom and Daisy Buchanan of The Great Gatsby lived. Both districts are Democratic. Chart (from

      INCOME, South Bronx vs North Shore: $26,096 vs $104,805
      HOME OWNERSHIP, South Bronx vs North Shore: 9% vs 81%
      WHITE POPULATION, South Bronx vs North Shore: 2% vs 70%

      How’s that “side of identity politics” workin’ out for us?

      1. Sid_finster

        It works out very well for a certain class of “minority rights activists” and “community leaders”.

        To speak of regulation near and dear to your heart, the Community Reinvestment Act, has practically institutionalized the co-optation of any such people not already co-opted.

    2. Mireille Cecil

      LGBTQ Rights* to marry so as to accumulate property in the sanctioned bourgeois ways. But if you’re fired over your sexual orientation or gender identity? lol here’s a rainbow band-aid, get fucked peasant.

    3. UserFriendly

      Thanks. I even got a response. A totally unproductive one but at least I’m not just screaming into the ether.

      Thanks very much for writing. I appreciate your taking the time to respond, even though we disagree..

      1. DJG

        UserFriendly: Hmmm. Sounds like the motto of the passive-aggressive: Let’s agree to disagree.

        All in all, though, your “missive” is grand. Of course, I agree with you.

      2. Jason Boxman

        A better attempt than I made during the bailouts. (Glad I found NC.) I mostly just posted explicative laden posts on the Internets. Well done!

      3. Sid_finster

        Tell him to provide specifics on what they disagree on and why.

        He won’t respond, so write your own rejoinder and try to shop it around.

    4. Scott

      Not only that, but the entire article was simply bad. I thought it was going to be about actual corruption and instead, it was focused on sex scandals. But I think it shows how the relationship has changed. While 50 years ago, the press seemed willing to look the other way and cover-up the sexual scandals, today they aren’t, but the press has played an active role in normalizing corruption.

      During the presidential election two years ago, many people here, as well as many friends and colleagues, were uncomfortable with Hilary Clinton’s paid speeches at Goldman Sachs and other places, but the mainstream media viewed it as no big deal as everyone does it. There was the same treatment towards the self-dealing of the Clinton Foundation. Because they viewed it as no big deal, regular Americans don’t understand the scope of the corruption. And when the New York AG finally does something about somewhat similar activities by the Trump Foundations, conservatives cry that Trump is getting different treatment, and they’re right. But by and large, this type of behavior is viewed as ok. We have congressmen married to lobbyists and government contractors and across all levels of government, politicians care more about what their donors care about than their voters.

      1. nycTerrierist

        “We have congressmen married to lobbyists and government contractors and across all levels of government, politicians care more about what their donors care about than their voters.”

        Indeed, and as long as the msm keeps voters uninformed —
        everything’s cool. For the pols and their keepers (donors).

        1. Procopius

          The people who work in the media are constrained by their desire to get a regular paycheck, and the bigger the paycheck the greater the restraint. I think Rachel Maddow believes things are important to report on according to the degree to which her bosses believe they are important. Incidentally, I believe there was a time when she was actually a journalist, but now she’s an entertainer. A “talento.”

      1. Julia Versau

        I agree. Great little essay, User Friendly, and spot on. I posted it on Facebook (with credit and a link to Naked Capitalism) but did not bother to link the Governing piece (which was vapid). Thank you so much.

    5. freedomny

      Also on spot:

      “Actually, corruption is so pervasive in absolutely every level of US government that it seriously brings the viability of capitalism as a whole into doubt. You have a citizenry who get to select which of the 5 billionaire owned media conglomerates will be delivering their oligarch friendly messaging to them; which has been curated over years of hiring and firing any staff that look mentally capable of threatening the status quo.”

  9. Roger Smith

    Murphy and Duckworth are total garbage, surprise surprise. Here is Murphy just last year on Trump’s ‘chilling’ talk of war with North Korea.

    So glad Duckworth won that seat…. Go blue!

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Beware the “blue tsunami” of 2018. For those who have not heard, the best way to save yourself from the devastation of a tsunami is to get to high ground:

      An extraordinary number of former intelligence and military operatives from the CIA, Pentagon, National Security Council and State Department are seeking nomination as Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2018 midterm elections. The potential influx of military-intelligence personnel into the legislature has no precedent in US political history.

      1. Roger Smith

        I have seen this mentioned in passing but that is it. Definitely going to give this a read.

        And, Hah! I never thought of the designation that way, but yes. How appropriate to name a wave of Democrat victories after a devastating natural weather phenomenon.

          1. Synapsid

            Arizona Slim,

            To add tragedy to tragedy, one of the tossed cars in the video was a late-model Studebaker.

            Ah! the memories.

      2. Roger Smith

        This is interesting, from Part 3:

        Only five of the 221 candidates reviewed in this study had links to Sanders or billed themselves as “progressive… When the dust clears after November 6, 2018, there will almost certainly be more former CIA agents in the Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives than former Sanders activists.

        This is directly correlated with Sanders complete failure to translate any of the energy he gathered up into meaningful change (not that he ever WANTED to do that). A lot of people were ready for something else and they got behind him. If directed properly, the political landscape could have looked vastly different. Instead Sanders folded, toured as the opening act for Clinton, and now we have Drone Program managers and CIA spooks running as competitive Democrats whose only opposition are Republicans.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          ……..whose only opposition are Republicans.

          Interesting conundrum when looking for “high ground” isn’t it?

          It is the same conundrum that many of us faced in November, 2016 by the way. Bernie resolved it in his own way. Some of us chose a different path. They say that’s what makes it a horse race.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          “…former CIA agents…”

          Can anyone be a former CIA agent?

          Isn’t it more like lifetime tenure kind of work – almost Japanese like?

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Are we, then, witnessing a CIA-takeover (instead of Sanders supporters) of the D party and Congress?

          1. habenicht

            For what its worth: I did see a video of Ray McGovern (former CIA) get roughed up when he tried to speak up at the Gina Haspel confirmation hearings.

            John Kirakou went to jail for releasing information on our torture program, etc.

            Not sure how typical these cases are though….

  10. zagonostra

    I saw somewhere that healthcare insurance cost around 28K a year and that half the population earn somewhere in the neighborhood of 30K. If you include rent and education cost , let alone the basics like food, you can see how hopeless it is for a lot of people (It think Michael Hudson laid out the numbers somewhere).

    The U.S. has created a permanent underclass that lives a life of economic anxiety, one bereft of leisure and hope of a better future. And yes, there always has been an an underclass, it’s just now it threatens to swallow everybody except the privileged up.

    I would venture that most of those reading NC are not in that demographic, those people who are, for the most part, are to torn up agonizing about how they’ll make it through to the next day. The luxury of venting disgust/opinions on the deplorable ruling elites is something they can’t afford anymore than they can afford to save for retirement.

    But lets go ahead and keep talking about the futile sick game being played out by the corrupt corporate elites/policy makers instead of focusing on radical political/economic restructuring of society and figuring out how to convince people to stop voting for either the Democratic or Republican party.

    1. nycTerrierist

      I agree. This was the spirit behind Occupy – and it caught on like
      wildfire across all demographics: old young white brown etc etc.

      Bernie speaks to those core issues and we see his continuing relevance and

      But Bernie or not, the only way forward is to chuck the Dems/Repubs to the curb.

    2. curlydan

      $28K sounds a little high. I often use data from eHealth, a conservative/R-leaning health broker offering private and non-subsidized plans. Here you can remove the subsidies an employer might give.

      For their family plans for 2017 (no doubt prices have gone up a bit for 2018), the average premium was $997 a month or $12K per year. The average family deductible was $8.2K. Non-families pay less. Still outrageous, though…

      1. Mary Susan Mather

        I think the averaging only tells part of the story, plus it doesn’t cover the 40-50% coinsurance that is frequently included in these plans. For 2018, the lowest premium for me and my husband was $10,119, a family deductible of $12,700, and the max out of pocket for the coinsurance would have been $14.300. Just the premium would have been 14.5% of our AGI.

  11. Carolinian

    From Counterpunch Young People Don’t Revolt

    Many young people tell me that the constant barrage of their peers’ self-promotions on social media makes them feel inferior; and low self-esteem—like fear—debilitates the strength to resist. One young man recently explained to me that millennials are always aware of their “digital selves” which can be measured in metrics such as “likes”; and that comparing themselves to others routinely results in low self-esteem. Of course, some young people do attempt rebellion, but effective rebellion, they tell me, requires completely extricating from social media, which would be an extremely radical action.

    One could make too much of this since peer pressure has always been part of the high school social microcosm and not just high school. If I mow my front yard then an hour later I’m just as likely to hear my neighbor mowing his front yard.

    But you do have to wonder whether Facebook et al have become peer pressure on steroids and are appealing to the worst in us. In the movie The Social Network Zuckerberg comes up with his website as a way for Harvard students to vote on which dorm has the hottest girls. This gets lots of clicks and the rest is history. Meanwhile visit any National Park and the tourists with their selfie sticks are often blocking the scenery–the pictures no doubt destined for Facebook. It’s all innocent fun on one level, but if Trump is our narcissist in chief (replacing his less crass but still narcissistic predecessor) then he has lots of company. Those living in this virtual world may have trouble dealing with the real one. The current political hysteria would be one example. The elites seem to be a constant panic about the heartland. Perhaps they think those deplorables really do have pitchforks. If they were to break out of their echo chamber and meet some of them face to face they might calm down.

    1. Roger Smith

      In my personal experience as a young…er person (29) who has grown up before and along with social media, I can say that I haven’t “revolted” because I see no actual pathways to take in order to do that. Most of my life I have been full of discontent and disbelief about how we are passively, or ignorantly, choosing to live given the infinite possibility of how things could be. All I have been able to to is spend years honing my knowledge and understanding, to try and make sure I am always trying to understand the most objective truth of reality as I can, but there has never been any real outlets. I can’t tell you how many glazed looks I have received when trying to explain how the logic of some trivial process with school or citizen administration was flawed and that a given process was pointless nonsense. I actually had one person tell me that if the red tape is such a problem, I guess you don’t care enough (I can’t remember about what). No you fool, that is not the point!

      I can say that now, there seem to be many more activist groups than when I was in High School, but the main problem I have here is that this system creates a dependency on full time work for subsistence. These events always take place during the day or require time I cannot give. Secondly, marching in circles with placards has never seemed to me to be anything other than temporary stress relief. As far as I can tell, we need mass participation for anything to be meaningfully impactful. I remember people feigning gas strikes every year as a kid, then they would never follow through…WHY!? I still shout. One day of no gas purchasing, not hard! I would like to find an activist accounting firm that can detail exactly how much per person various government atrocities cost so that I, and others, can withhold those specific amounts and cite the research when the IRS comes knocking. But people seem more into passively ignoring everything or virtue signalling.

      1. Sid Finster

        V.I. Lenin, who had some practical experience in organizing and directing a revolution, suggested in a similar context that the solution is found in the formation of a vanguard party.

          1. witters

            “the formation of a vanguard party

            Which has its own social pathologies….”

            Well, yes. Obviously. And?

      2. SimonGirty

        Mayhaps, this is largely due to bored, petit-bourgeois chilluns co-opting each and every movement, where they can get laid or score free dope? Jeepers, have I ever devolved into a cranky curmudgeon? De nada!

      3. Craig H.

        The IRS doesn’t have to come knocking. They just send e-mail to your employer and your bank and they hand over your money no questions asked.

      4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        1. The money to the IRS is not connected, monetarily, to the various government atrocities. (money-wise).

        Collective guilt or everyone is guilty (or responsible)…maybe or maybe not. Speak out, protest, vote, etc.

        2. Take the less traveled path.

        Consume less, whenever possible (will it cause a recession?)

        Do you go to school and get a degree so that you can feed yourself and your family? It’s not taking the less traveled path there. You’re joining the crowd…following the herd (for almost all of us) and go to school.

        Since school is where that herd mentality starts, this is where we look to allow people to break free. Can a person live a happy, productive life without those credentials?

      5. Lambert Strether

        > there seem to be many more activist groups than when I was in High School, but the main problem I have here is that this system creates a dependency on full time work for subsistence. These events always take place during the day or require time I cannot give.

        Just spitballing here, but one advantage of the workplace as opposed to the streets is that people are already there. I’m picturing a moment when all workers, globally, “down tools” at the same time, for a short time, but simultaneously. Say, at 4:20… That might give everybody a picture of where power lies….

      6. Elizabeth Burton

        It certainly won’t happen if nobody does it, which was the point of both the Levine pieces. I think he’s wallowing in pessimism, as is so often the case with the intelligentsia, and without knowing from whence his sampling of “young people” came I think his generalizations need to be taken with the proverbial grain.

        Sitting around pondering how awful things are but nobody is trying to fix it in some pre-determined-by-the-ponderer method is how nothing gets done. I could whine I’m an fat old crippled woman and nobody’s doing anything to make my life better, and never do anything about that situation; but I prefer to do what I can where I am with what I’ve got.

        Or, to put it another way, there is plenty of work for everyone, so if nothing is happening maybe one needs to stop finding reasons for not doing anything and put on their work clothes.

    2. Enquiring Mind

      Selfie sticks aka Narcissticks.
      Awaiting new DSM V-VI-VII (come on, seven) entry, with inevitable pharma advertising.

      1. Sid_finster

        I’m pretty sure narcissism is considered to be perfectly healthy behavior these days.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        I like that coin ‘Narcissticks’ — very nice! I added it to my file new language constructs.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Started as a way to vote which dorm…

      One more example of how technological progress is powered by libido.

      That or military applications.

    4. Jeremy Grimm

      “The Internet heightens a fear-based consciousness.”
      I’m no young person but the Internet definitely raises my fears and “self-promotions on social media” have nothing to do with it! I read of the Arctic melting and weather turning more chaotic and random, and water resources like major aquifers dwindling, and populations exceeding food, and petroleum and coal less plentiful than we’re told. But this isn’t what triggers fear in our youth?! Young people worry about “self-promotions on social media”? If that’s true then I am truly afraid.

      As the Panopticon and police state grow — so do the means to hamstring them. The cops in gear would not look so cool if a little quadcopter ran by blowing ink black epoxy all over their face plates and gear. A potato in the tailpipe will bring many a beasty vehicle to its knees. Fear direct confrontation but embrace the happy anonymity of automated sabotage. What line of hard ass cops could handle the attack of boxes of hungry fleas or fleas from quad copter airdrops. We need more comedy in confrontations with authority. There are no macho revolutionary points for getting your head broken — at outrageous E.R. costs — in a direct confrontation, which means a peaceful demonstration in the new Amerika, and it will not be televised. A sharpened needle jabbed-in and broken-off in a fat-data cable can do magical wonders. And these are magic of only the lowest orders.

  12. crittermom

    RE: Class warfare. People can’t pay rent…

    Good story, yet I couldn’t help but notice in the video the assistant professor made breakfast for her family, dropped a child off at daycare, then proceeded on to work where she bought some breakfast.
    She later went out for a simple lunch.

    With rough figuring, she’s spending approximately $90 per week eating out those 2 meals per day,

    If her partner does the same, that’s over $700 mth between the two of them they could eliminate by taking a thermos of coffee & packing their lunches, probably saving them around $600 mth.

    Decades ago, when I was married (with one child) & the economy was much better, I made breakfast & packed lunches for the 3 of us, before going to my 40 hr week job.
    I returned home from work at the end of the day to prepare dinner. We rarely ate out. Too expensive.

    The video, IMNSHO, would have had much more impact if the subjects did this.

    1. Louis Fyne

      *gasp* Packing your own lunch and coffee is so déclassé! unless we’re talking about australian free-range beef sandwiches with organic arugula and cous-cous.

      being broke is better than looking poor

      /sarcasm (but I am “keeping up with the jones”-shaming, so shame on me)

      1. SimonGirty

        Fascinating to see organic arugula, couscous and free-range anything cited as bourgeois affectation. During Reagan’s Miracle, when we ALL packed our own lunches (that we’d hurriedly gobble down, as rent-a-cops at the abandoned mills or “candy-stripers for wealthy foreign transplant recipients). We’d be pretty damn grateful, that varmint hunting was viable (woodchucks, pheasants and quail returned in abundance) buckwheat, cilantro, mint, parsley and arugula had all run endemic; as Italian, Black and Middle Eastern retirees’ homes were auctioned-off. It was ALL organic, if you neglected to note heavy metals from using mill slag, slaughterhouse & Heinz ash or sewerage to remedy the hard-pan clay; some of the healthiest food we’d eaten, harvested with cap & ball revolvers or foraged from “waste areas.” Snark, at that time demanded as full set of smiling teeth!

      2. crittermom

        Louis Fyne,
        Ahh, & back then we were not poor, nor did we appear so.
        We had a new home in a great neighborhood with a highly rated school system, & 2 nice vehicles (one paid off). Typical ‘middle class’.
        Being frugal was just being wise on our part, as a way to be able to afford those things without going more heavily in debt ‘keeping up with the Joneses’.

        I still remember when our son was in first grade (he turned 42 yesterday!) & he came home from school that second day saying he wanted a “shirt with an alligator on it” like so many of the boys wore.
        He was referring to an Izod shirt which at that time was pricey (something like $18?) for a child’s shirt they’d soon outgrow.

        So I convinced him that dragons were even ‘cooler’ & took him to Sears & bought him the same shirt with a dragon on it–the Sears version of an Izod., for maybe $7.99?
        He was perfectly happy with that.

        I began at his young age to deter him from seeing so much status in a brand.
        How sad that as a society we now, more than ever, ‘worship’ a brand or name so much many will go into debt for it just to appear rich.

        Hmm… Would it now be ‘besting the Joneses’, our society has come so far (from common sense)?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          (This is more about the interconnected-ness of the world, and not about some people in particular).

          If materialism, status consumption, bourgeois culture, police brutality, the players can also question the very existence of their leagues, and their endorsements based income-schemes.

          And that sort of self-examination can be useful for all of us. How much self-sacrifice can we afford to, or will we make?

        2. marieann

          Good for you crittermom. Teach them young to hate the expensive symbols. I did much the same with my 2 boys then they didn’t want shirts with anything written on it and sometimes plain shirts were hard to buy ….a victim of my own success.:)

      3. JamesG

        “Packing your own lunch and coffee”

        Once called “brown bagging it” when more common.

    2. Pavel

      Excellent point. Not to mention people having those $3 to $5 (or more?) cups of coffee at Starbucks and elsewhere.

      I’m old enough to remember charity shops selling coffee in NHS hospitals for 50p back in the day. Now the hospitals have given monopolies to chains like Costa Coffee where a basic filter coffee is £2 or more. I knew one young worker in IT who spent probably £6 per day on coffee — £30 per week! Absolute madness.

      /grumpy old man

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Amnesty International report finds US guilty of war crimes in Syria”: ‘As part of the deal, a convoy of buses arranged by the SDF took IS fighters and their families out of the city to areas east of Raqqa that were still under IS control.’

    I can explain that bit here. At the time the Syrian Army was on the march to relieve the besieged city of Deir ez-Zor which ISIS was trying to take. These ISIS fighters from Raqqa were being let go so that they could join their compatriots around Deir ez-Zor to fight the Syrian Army.

  14. Andrew Watts

    RE: Five takeaways on the IG’s scathing report on the FBI

    I’ve only read the executive summary and just under a hundred pages of the report, but I imagine the media won’t present views that are representative of any unorthodox viewpoint. The following passage from the summary is a good example of the divisions within the political class and how the organs of state power are clearly at odds with one another.

    “Comey, Lynch, and Yates faced difficult choices in late October 2016. However, we found it extraordinary that Comey assessed that it was best that the FBI Director not speak directly with the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General about how best to navigate this most important decision and migrate the resulting harms, and that Comey’s decision resulted in the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General concluding that it would be counterproductive to speak directly with the FBI Director.”

    It’s clear that Comey didn’t trust Lynch or Yate and acted accordingly. Whether this is a vindication of his unilateral decision making is a judgment I have no interest in rendering unlike certain people. However, his distrust was fully justified by events considering Lynch’s secret meeting with Bill Clinton on a tarmac as well as the subsequent behavior of Yates. Any advice they could’ve offered would’ve been tainted with political motivations that still aren’t entirely clear. Which doesn’t mean that Comey won’t be offered up as a scapegoat.

    The whole political circus of Hillary’s email server and the post-election investigation is yet another significant instance where the stability of our political system is being shaken. The Department of Justice and the FBI are both going to take a few hits to their institutional credibility but that isn’t the most significant development. The trust and faith in our government is being undermined in the minds of people who’ve dedicated their lives and whose jobs it is to uphold that system. To paraphrase an anonymous government official from the report…

    “They can get away with it. We can’t.”.

  15. a different chris

    >creates a dependency on full time work for subsistence.

    Revolts are always shown as some raggedly group leaving their hovels and marching into the city. Actual revolts are via the bourgeois.* Don’t beat yourself up.

    *Remember that when the media tells you that Trump voters are “well-employed”, well yeah. They have enough, not a great deal, but enough free time to be p&ssed and make it known. I honestly don’t even know how somebody with 2 jobs, let alone 3, finds time to get to the polls.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      I honestly don’t even know how somebody with 2 jobs, let alone 3, finds time to get to the polls.

      Why do you think states shut down polling places and shortened early voting hours in areas where voters were likely to vote for the Democrats? They know full well how hard it is for that contingent to find time to vote, so putting them in the position of standing in line for hours is guaranteed to make them decide it’s not worth the trouble, especially if the candidates are wastes of space.

      1. EoH

        In Europe, voting day is a national holiday, to encourage people to vote.

        In the US, voting day is during the busy mid-week, to encourage those who might vote for the Democrats not to vote. Far cheaper than a line of Bull Connor’s state patrol cars.

  16. Andrew Watts

    RE: Amnesty International report finds US guilty of war crimes in Syria

    I read the entire report twice and buried within it is a passage which exonerates the US-led coalition and Syrian Democratic Forces of any charge of committing war crimes.

    “IS’s disregard for the most basic rules of international humanitarian law was flagrant. It trapped civilians in their neighborhoods and used them as cover for military operations. IS entered residents’ homes by force and used them to conceal their movements and as firing positions against SDF lines. IS dress code, imposed on civilians and IS fighters a like, made it even more difficult for SDF and Coalition forces to distinguish between them.”

    While tragic the killing of civilians inadventantly during military operations isn’t a war crime. The inability to properly distinguish combatants from civilians renders the headline and judgment a moot point. The actions undertaken by the Islamic State, which included using the homes of civilians as fortified locations, rendered civilian dwellings valid targets of military strikes when they were used as firing positions.

    The Battle of Raqqa was one of the bloodiest battles of the Syrian Civil War. Even if the higher civilian casualty estimates (>5000) are correct than that means the total sum of military casualties would exceed it. Which isn’t an ordinary outcome of urban warfare. The Raqqa Reconstruction Committee has only dug up around 700 bodies so far which could be directly attributed to airstrikes. Blaming all the civilian casualties on the Coalition and SDF is dishonest and morally bankrupt. Especially when Islamic State deliberately put civilians in harms way or executed them for fleeing the warzone.

    Amnesty International has made several false accusations in the past that they were forced to walk back when they were confronted. In one instance where they accused the YPG of ethnic cleansing the War Nerd (aka John Dolan) had an amusing and confounding exchange with a representative of Amnesty.

    Personally, I think they do this for the publicity it generates and for fundraising purposes.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Not so fast giving the SDF/US coalition a get out of jail for free card. The Battle of Raqqa was a war crime writ large and is to be compared to Dresden in WW2. In fact, it was a reversion to the Vietnam era ‘kill anything that moves’ tactics and now the city is basically uninhabitable. Compare what happened in Raqqa with the Battle for Aleppo. The Syrians were fighting to retake their own city and only destroyed or killed what they had to. It was a short sharp campaign and they took their city back and it was still livable. When they took it, they and the Russians helped distribute food, sent in teams to clear out booby-traps and uncollected munitions, collected dead bodies for burial and had patrols go through the city to keep the peace. None of that happened after Raqqa and the inhabitants who survived were on their own. In Raqqa, if a sniper was spotted atop a building, then the whole, complete, entire building was obliterated. Nope, it was American battle doctrine at its worst. If you think that it was a fair way to fight that battle, then think of an American city under the same type of assault and then tell me how you would regard that, especially the bit where they tried to kill anybody trying to flee the city. Trying to say that Amnesty International is at fault because of past accusations is irrelevant. What happened to Raqqa is. Of course killing civilians in wartime is bad but if your doctrine is not to take any precautions about civilians or to regard their deaths as not being a factor in your planning, then yes, that is a war crime.

  17. Katniss Everdeen

    I know that links to Zero Hedge are somewhat frowned upon here, but some stories just gotta be told.

    In the current uber “humanitarian” hysteria in which we find ourselves, a must read on american “values,” human “rights,” who “we” really are and warnings of “graphic” images:

    No, there won’t be rebel leaders in Yemen beamed into CNN studios via Skype to detail the suffering of civilians under the brutal siege, because this isn’t Syria… it’s Yemen, where the US and its allies have not only imposed a full military blockade of land, air, and sea on an urban population of half a million people, but have also ensured a complete media blackout of on the ground footage and reporting.
    “People are scared. The warships are terrifying and warplanes are flying overhead all the time,” university student Amina, 22, who lives near the port, told Reuters by telephone.

    “People are fleeing the city to the countryside, but for those with no relatives there or money, there is no escape.”

    For more than a few people on the planet, a safe, clean bed and three squares a day would be heaven on earth. Almighty america giveth, and almighty america taketh away.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Supreme Court strikes down ban on political apparel at polling places The Hill

    Your birthday suit is, or can be, political.

    And it’s legal now…around polling places?

    1. LifelongLib

      When I worked at polling places here in Hawaii, the equipment included medical gowns that voters wearing campaign shirts had to put on. It got a bit ridiculous when a voter with an “Abercrombie and Fitch” shirt had to wear a gown because one of the candidates was named Abercrombie.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If some die-hard Hillary supporters were thinking about tattooing ‘It’s Her Turn’ on their foreheads, in order to getting around the ban, they don’t have to now.

        I suppose they’d be relieved to know.

        1. ambrit

          More fun would be tattooing ‘It’s Her Turn’ on their bums and wearing backless chaps to the polls.

  19. Jim Haygood

    Let’s play flake-o-nomics:

    The Tax Foundation calculated that the tariffs on Chinese imports, coming on top of U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum exports, would lower “long-run” gross domestic product and wages by 0.06%, reduce employment by 45,293 positions and make U.S. taxes less progressive. — WSJ

    That’s material, but ignore the blighted weeds and focus on the forest fire. A pie chart of global sovereign debt from BofA Merrill Lynch shows that just three countries — the US (no. 1 ranked), Japan (no. 2), and Italy (no. 5) — account for an astounding 62% of all government-issued debt on the planet. Chart:

    These three countries with their triple-digit debt-to-GDP ratios were chosen for a wager about how excessive debt slows growth. China ranks no. 3 in sovereign debt, but its debt is a more manageable 48% of GDP.

    Since no one (wisely) wanted to take up the original wager that an equally-weighted average of the US, Italy and Japan will be unable to grow even 2 percent during 2019-2028, let’s make it a bit more sporting.

    Haygood wager 2.0 asserts that the equally-weighted real GDP growth of eight nations — the US, Japan, Italy and five others with debt-to-GDP ratios over 90% — Belgium, France, Greece, Portugal, and Spain — will fail to exceed GDP growth in the remaining 26 OECD countries (which include the other four of the Five Eyes, by the way) during 2019-2028. China, not an OECD member, is not a part of this wager, but should perform more in line with the trick 26 than the fated eight.

    So eight incontinent debt addicts, sporting sovereign-debt ball-and-chains shackled to their ankles, take on 26 “austere” practitioners of fiscal rectitude in a groaf challenge. Fair? Loser buys all attendees a round at the big Naked Capitalism confab at U of Missouri Kansas City in 2029. By then free money for free beer may have run out, with glum lissome coeds one sad result. :-(

  20. Jim Haygood

    This morning the New York Fed’s Underlying Inflation Gauge (UIG) ticked up from 3.21% in April to 3.27% in May. Chart:

    Sounds small, but as the authors note, CPI inflation (black line in the chart) is catching up fast to their estimates. The latest y-o-y CPI of 2.8% isn’t plotted in the chart, but now lies less than 0.5% below the UIG (blue line).

    Nothing says that CPI can’t punch right through the UIG on the top side. An oil price spike, coupled with the crackpot fiscal stim that’s already baked in the cake, could do that.

    On the other hand, the Fed’s charlatanic bond dumping could precipitate a 1929-style crash that would smash both CPI and UIG back toward zero in a hurry.

    Scylla or Charybdis, pick your peril. The inmates running our asylum have busted into the meds closet and are huffing laughing gas straight of the cylinder. :-(

  21. The Rev Kev

    “Intentions Matter More Than Weapons”

    This sounds like a variation of intent versus capabilities which is a well know argument. Not the same thing at all.

  22. Epynonymous

    Re: yellow journalism

    Netflix has a five part documentary on Hollywood cooperation with the military circa WW2 featuring Spielburg. It’s called Five came back. I’m just starting it, but it’s refreshing to hear the real deal from such official sources, and it seems to have some fun color commentary.

    1. JCC

      As a big fan of what is known as Old Time Radio – radio show broadcasts from the 30’s 40’s and 50’s, the cooperation of Hollywood and it’s biggest stars was very obvious, not nearly as subtle as it tries to be today today.

      Norman Corwin’s stuff during the 40’s and 50’s were classic examples, as well as weekly shows like The FBI In Peace and War, G.I. Jive, Jack Benny, Fibber McGee & Molly, This Is Your FBI, and I Was A Communist For The FBI.

      And the best part of all these shows is that they are readily available on the ‘net and free…and fun to listen to, a much more innocent time.

      Some Norman Corwin stuff – We Hold These Truths

      For those interested, the Internet Archive is a great place to start.

  23. Jim Haygood

    A couple of weeks ago when Argentina’s crisis broke out, I suggested that its feckless central bank governor Sturzenegger should be sacked. DONE:

    Argentine Finance Minister Luis Caputo will become the president of the country’s central bank after Federico Sturzenegger resigned, according to a statement Thursday evening from the ministry.

    Nicolas Dujovne will lead a united Ministry of Finance and Treasury, the government said. Sturzenegger’s departure was followed by a slew of resignations among the bank’s senior staff.

    The change at the central bank’s helm comes after the Argentine peso tumbled 6.1 percent Thursday to a new all-time low of 27.7 per dollar. Investor concerns mounted that monetary policy was becoming even more inconsistent.

    Sturzenegger said in on Twitter Thursday evening that his credibility “deteriorated” in the past few months. An MIT-trained economist, he oversaw the central bank during President Mauricio Macri’s first two years in office.

    MIT — figures. But it’s the slew of staff resignations which should provoke cheering in the microcentro. These were the complacent drones who counselled Sturzenegger to continue the discredited status quo of expanding the BCRA’s balance sheet by 30% annually, producing a nearly equivalent inflation rate.

    Now they can add more value to the Argentine economy by serving steaks to tourists, or soft-shoeing in a tango show if they know how to dance. :-)

  24. Livius Drusus

    Re: Dems say Obama return from sidelines is overdue. From the article:

    Obama drew headlines this week after a Politico report revealed that he is consulting a long line of would-be 2020 candidates and offering advice to party leadership.

    What would Obama’s advice consist of, how to lose more congressional and state legislative seats than any other president in recent history? The Democratic Party collapsed under Obama’s watch. Obama was lucky to go up against two weak Republicans in 2008 and 2012 at a time when people were suffering from Bush hangover.

    The sad thing is I know the Dems are looking for a new Obama as their savior, that is why if I was a betting man I would put my money on Cory Booker or Kamala Harris winning the primary in 2020 with the backing of the Democratic Party leadership. The Democrats think that the key to success is jacking up minority turnout, especially among African-Americans in big cities. If Hillary could have done that she might have won. A young-ish, moderate, African-American politician is seen as the best way to go to resurrect the Obama coalition.

    I don’t know if this strategy will work again, though, as people tend to forget that Obama also won a lot of white swing voters many of whom defected to Trump in 2016. I suspect that unless something drastically bad happens under Trump or they are given a better option from the Dems those white swing voters will be staying with Trump and the GOP. Also, the Obama Effect might have been a one-time deal. I doubt African-Americans and other minorities (particularly younger ones) will have the same enthusiasm for Booker or Harris.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Those minority voters didn’t show up in 2010 and 2014. The naked attempts of the GOP to block minorities from voting in 2012 was key to the record high turnout. Combined with the narrative of “Obama just needing to be reelected to be progressive” and Obama’s 2012 rhetoric, the ingredients for that turnout were there.

      “I will consider it a personal insult — an insult to my legacy — if this community lets down its guard and fails to activate itself in this election. You want to give me a good sendoff? Go vote.” -Barack Obama 2016.

      I should note Obama’s plea to black voters was about himself not about the citizens.

      “When I hear folks saying they’re not inspired this this election, I disagree. I am inspired,” -Michelle Obama 2016

      A key to Democratic success is ramping up minority voting, but I don’t believe simply running a minority candidate or trotting out Obama is going to help. As you noted, he already has run the party into the ground, and the impact of Republican efforts in 2012 to stop minority voting is clearly overlooked in how it produced a reactive vote that did not show up in other years when the GOP kept a lower profile in their efforts to block voting.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      This buried piece from the NYT immediately after the election has resurfaced thanks to Jimmy Dore. If the Democrats think they can put forward another Obama and win, they really are as stupid as I think they are.

      1. EoH

        Indeed. The progressives that Mr. Obama ditched before he entered the Oval Office will have long memories. Mr. Obama did not seem to resolve conflict as define it out of existence. His, “Yes, We Can” morphed quickly into, “Let’s Not.”

        That won’t cut it any more, especially not after Mr. Trump heightens the fear and precariousness of his faithful. The Democrats need a good positive story – not just an easy anti-Trump message – and someone who might credibly deliver on it.

    3. JTFaraday

      I really think they might try to run a rich white guy. They bring Obama back into the public eye as consolation.

  25. Synapsid

    Bloomberg announced today that China will impose tariffs on US coal, covering thermal and coking coal (used for making steel). (Chinese imports of coal from the US tripled last year, over the previous year’s imports, and 90% of that coal was for steelmaking. Good news for West Virginia, a major supplier, I believe, of coal used for making steel. Oh…wait)

    The Chinese tariffs on imported US coal are in response to the Administration’s imposition of tariffs on a range of Chinese imports.

    In other news, the Administration is still aiming to subsidize uneconomical US coal companies…

    1. False Solace

      So the Chinese are hiking tariffs on raw materials like coal and soybeans, and the US is hitting their high tech goods? Sounds about right to me. I know which industries I’d rather support, and which ones support higher wages….

  26. EoH

    Kudos for UserFriendly’s missive to Alan Ehrenhalt, who asked the question whether government corruption was more common, or had he and his peers just become better at finding it.

    Ehrenhalt’s metaphor of an answer was that “we” [with apologies to Tonto] had opened Pandora’s box, but its contents had been there all the time. UserFriendly delivers a well-deserved take-down for a corporate friendly, centrist headline and both sides do it metaphor.

  27. ewmayer

    “Trump is about to approve $50 billion of tariffs on Chinese goods and take his trade war to a whole new level Business Insider” — Note how BI fubars the math (‘$50 billion of tariffs’ versus the correct ‘tariffs on $50 billion of goods’ in order to generate a scarier headline. Editorial stupidity or deliberate falsehood?

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