Links 6/2/18

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Peregrine Falcon Wild Bird Fund. On peregrines in NYC.

The revolutionary sex Aeon (Chuck L)

Former Aspen climber Charlotte Fox, survivor of Mount Everest disaster, dies in home accident, friends say Aspen Times (Robert R). The disaster was the climb described in the Jon Krakauer book, Into Thin Air.

Bananas have died out once before – don’t let it happen again Aeon (Chuck L)

A gene for our big brains was rescued from the DNA garbage bin CBC (David L)

Hawaii volcano: What in the world are vog, laze and Pele’s hair? USA Today (Chuck L)

Five people die in US romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak BBC

Ambien defence: the real side effects of sleeping pills Financial Times

Domestic Violence’s Overlooked Damage: Concussion And Brain Injury Kaiser Health News

North Korea

Trump says summit with Kim is back on BBC

North Korea and US ramp up talks in three locations Asia Times

Prim Jong-un! North Korean dictator’s VERY tidy Pyongyang residence is revealed in never-before-seen photos Daily Mail. French rather than English style garden

Italy

Italy’s new government: Europe on edge after palace takeover Financial Times

Pedro Sanchez seizes historic opportunity to become Spain’s prime minister DW

George Osborne’s London Evening Standard sells its editorial independence to Uber, Google and others – for £3 million openDemocracy (Chuck L)

How Greece’s Busiest Port Reveals the Perils of Privatization Nation (furzy)

New Cold War

Ukraine – The Babchenko Hoax Was Part Of A Corporate Raid Moon of Alabama (Chuck L)

Amid ‘Russiagate’ Hysteria, What Are the Facts? Nation (Norman Solomon)

Syraqistan

Hillary Clinton’s ‘ass-covering’ on bin Laden raid ‘rattled’ Biden The Hill (UserFriendly)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Teens are abandoning Facebook in dramatic numbers, study finds Guardian. Not news per se, save regarding the amplitude.

Moreno: Assange Can Remain At Embassy, So Long As He Doesn’t Practice Journalism Steemit (UserFriendly)

Niall Ferguson wanted opposition research on a student. New Republic. Chuck L: “Scroll down past the Nial Ferguson snippet and you’ll find some other gems.”

Conservative Stanford professor conspired to conduct ‘opposition research’ on student: report The Hill (UserFriendly)

Tariff Tantrum

EU imposes tariffs on fat American golf twats Daily Mash

U.S. isolated at G7 meeting as tariffs prompt retaliation Reuters (furzy)

Trade War and the Nationalist Exchange: Trudeau Trails Trump Zero Anthropology (UserFriendly)

Brussels vows to hit back at US tariffs Financial Times

U.S., China Haggle Over Purchases of American Goods Wall Street Journal

US businesses express alarm as tariffs push up steel costs Financial Times

What Is Trump’s Trade War Supposed to Accomplish? American Conservative

Trump Transition

Trump’s ‘cruel’ measures pushing US inequality to dangerous level, UN warns Guardian

Trump pardons Dinesh D’Souza, says lifestyle maven Stewart may be next Reuters. EM:

LOL, ‘critics accuse him of subverting the rule of law’, and apparently do so with straight faces even after Obama’s mass immunization of the Wall Street fraud cartels and shredding of most of the remaining tattered remnants of the Bill of Rights. And Martha Stewart’s ‘crimes’ were no worse than certain anomalously profitable cattle-futures trades by Trump’s opponent in the 2016 election. You can’t subvert what is already dead and buried.

OMB Director Mulvaney Should Investigate Trump for Violating OMB Data Disclosure Policy Allied Progress

Report: Department of Energy recommends bail out of failing coal plants ars technica (Chuck L)

Why It Matters That Phoenix Is Suing the Trump Administration Nation (furzy)

It’s a Jungle in California’s Primary US News (Kevin W)

Congressional Candidate In Virginia Admits He’s A Pedophile Huffington Post. Chuck L: “Another charming fellow running for Congress.”

Pressure mounts on MSNBC, Joy Reid after old blog reveals attack on Wolf Blitzer, AIPAC The Hill (UserFriendly)

Missouri Student Banned From Graduation After Putting School Up For Sale On Craigslist Jonathan Turley

Police State Watch

The Coming Urban Terror City Journal. Chuck L: “It’s disturbing to see the term ‘productivity’ used in the context of terrorism.”

Badge of Impunity Counterprunch

Puerto Rico sues to obtain data on deaths from Hurricane Maria Guardian

Airline ‘asks mother to prove’ relation to mixed-race son BBC (Chuck L). Lousy response by Southwest. An apology isn’t adequate. They should have given her a freebie too.

The Tesla Model 3 cost $28,000 to build, German engineers say—and it still may not be profitable Quartz (Kevin W)

Guillotine Watch

US millionaire charged with labourer’s nuclear bunker death BBC

Class Warfare

Student loan debt and the cost of college are out of control and climbing The Hill (UserFriendly)

US vs China Housing…and Those Millennials Michael Hudson, Counterpunch

We need a new kind of HGTV Curbed. FWIW, my Alabama dentist (who is very good, Birmingham has the best medical school in the South, so you can find high caliber service providers if you know where to go) always has HGTV on, and since I have pre-flouride era teeth, I spend more time in the dentist’s chair than most people and have wound up unduly familiar with HGTV offerings. I’ve long considered it to be real estate porn.

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “Anybody got a nail file?” Moi: I’ve always had a soft spot for collies, no doubt due to having been conditioned by Lassie, but they seem like sweet, unassuming dogs.

And a bonus video from Joel P: “‘It was the best day of my life.’ Sam Ellis spent 76 days with Mad Max in the Yukon wilderness.”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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169 comments

  1. Wukchumni

    R.I.P., Dick Tuck: Political Prankster, extraordinaire.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Dick Tuck, an impish Democratic Party operative whose practical jokes and pranks helped define modern election combat and who was the political hobgoblin of Richard Nixon for decades, died May 28 at an assisted-living center in Tucson. He was 94.

    Mostly, Mr. Tuck was remembered for his singular ability to hector and haunt Nixon, a Republican whose earliest political tactics included questioning his opponents’ loyalty to the United States.

    In 1956, as Nixon awaited his party’s celebratory renomination as vice president, Mr. Tuck arranged for the garbage trucks servicing the Republican nominating convention in San Francisco to drive by the Cow Palace convention center bearing large signs reading “Dump Nixon.”

    The morning after Vice President Nixon debated Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-Mass.) in the 1960 presidential campaign, Mr. Tuck put a Nixon button on a woman who walked up to the candidate as cameras rolled. While offering a hug, she exclaimed: “Don’t worry, son. He beat you last night, but you’ll do better next time.”

    Mr. Tuck’s best-remembered prank took place during Nixon’s visit to the Chinatown section of Los Angeles during his 1962 bid for California governor. Mr. Tuck was working for the Democratic incumbent, Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Sr.

    At the time, Nixon faced questions about a $205,000 loan his brother, Donald, had received from Howard Hughes, the billionaire industrialist and defense contractor.

    Mr. Tuck distributed signs to the crowd that said “Welcome Nixon!” over a row of Mandarin characters. Nixon smiled broadly at first as he looked over the sign-waving crowd. But when he was told that the Chinese script on the signs read, “What about the Hughes loan?” Nixon grabbed one of the placards and tore it up as the TV cameras rolled.

    Mr. Tuck was delighted. “Exposing the real Nixon was always my goal,” he said later, taking pleasure in exposing the candidate’s temper. “The message was simple: Do you want a guy like this running your state or nation?”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/dick-tuck-democratic-prankster-who-targeted-nixon-dies-at-94/2018/05/29/0cd03c2e-63b1-11e8-99d2-0d678ec08c2f_story.html?utm_term=.ff08b1914bfd

    Reply
  2. JohnJ

    Moreno: Assange Can Remain At Embassy, So Long As He Doesn’t Practice Journalism

    In that case Assange should be fine. Most goverments does not consider what wikileaks does to be journalism after all.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      That’s OK. Assange does not consider most journalists to be doing journalism either. More like stenography truth be told.

      Reply
    2. Alejandro

      Do you have an opinion on what you consider to be journalism?

      …” freedom of expression from government interference”, and all that

      Reply
    3. Richard

      He’s totally not fine of course. He’s under the permanent threat (more of a promise, really) of arrest, extradition, prison. I wouldn’t rule out good old torture and execution, either. He’s also losing his eyesight, and there is other serious medical distress related to his confinement.
      All of this is for the crime of being a journalist, or what else? And I think those governments recognize that he’s a journalist as well, considering the terms of his reprieve.

      Reply
    1. nick

      lmao:

      “The Blitzer post, which was discovered by The Federalist — a conservative online publication — on Thursday comes one day after BuzzFeed found a post on Reid’s old blog that showed a photoshopped image of Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) head on the body of the shooter who carried out the mass shooting at Virginia Tech that killed 32 people.”

      Really none of the old content matters, it’s the hacker excuse that’s killer. She’s either a liar so not trustworthy as a journalist, or a moron and so worthless as an opiner.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Apparently MSNBC has said they will not be removing her. Her supposedly anti-Semitic comments were not something most people around here would put in that description (she’s criticizing Israel as well as its media influence), but the incident just shows that so-called “hate speech” rules and laws are really just a club for the powerful to use against people they don’t like. Even Trump may have had a small point when he complained that Barr was fired but Samantha Bee was not despite calling Trump’s daughter the “c” word and suggesting that Ivanka put on sexy clothing to seduce her father into changing his immigration policy. Bee apologized for the word, not for the incest joke.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          Mondoweiss quotes Glenn Greenwald who agrees that media outrage can be very selective.

          She had previously said similar things about Susan Rice that she said about Valerie Jarrett. So obviously her comments yesterday received a lot of attention because she now has a show and they were so grotesque—just viscerally grotesque and racist to any person with a conscience–that ABC had no choice. But it wasn’t like this was something new for Roseanne. This is stuff that she has been saying about lots of different groups, including African Americans, but especially Arabs and Palestinians, for a long time. It’s just that Arabs and Palestinians, racism towards them tends to be more acceptable.

          http://mondoweiss.net/2018/06/roseanne-palestinians-muslims/

          Reply
        2. Sid_finster

          “…the incident just shows that so-called “hate speech” rules and laws are really just a club for the powerful to use against people they don’t like.”

          [Family blog]-A well told.

          Reply
        3. fresno dan

          Carolinian
          June 2, 2018 at 10:16 am

          Its always an interesting exercise to see the rationalizations for what is now inappropriate versus what it was 2 weeks (or days) ago, and who is forgivable versus who is not.
          Is Samantha Bee, in a ?well rehearsed? planned, written monologue with time for reflection less culpable than Rosanne Barr, tweeting in the early hours, and pretty well acknowledged as having inconsistent and illogical faculties, more responsible for her words than the ostensibly sane, articulate, and astute Bee?

          KING HENRY
          Alas, your too much love and care of me
          Are heavy orisons ‘gainst this poor wretch.
          If little faults proceeding on distemper
          Shall not be winked at, how shall we stretch our eye
          When capital crimes, chewed, swallowed, and digested,
          Appear before us? We’ll yet enlarge that man,
          Though Cambridge, Scroop, and Grey, in their dear care
          And tender preservation of our person, …

          Reply
      2. Katniss Everdeen

        So, reid is forced to apologize “sincerely” and repeatedly, and even, embarrassingly, grasp the “hacker” straw to protect her current propaganda self from her former truth-telling self.

        It’s like she’s never even heard of hillary clinton.

        Here’s what comes next, joy. Someone bigger and badder comes along and calls your bluff.

        Reply
        1. fresno dan

          Katniss Everdeen
          June 2, 2018 at 10:55 am

          I see where CNN is “reporting” incessantly on the Joy Reid story….because it is a history making news event….or to stick it to a competitor????
          Of course, only a cynic (moi) would posit that the “most trusted name in news (TM)” would report on something that is not historic….

          Reply
    2. lyman alpha blob

      Apparently a few years on the MSDNC gravy train has helped her get her mind right.

      “There are things I deeply regret and am embarrassed by, things I would have said differently and issues where my position has changed. Today I’m sincerely apologizing again.”

      I wish she’d tell us how much money it took for her to become embarrassed and change her position.

      Reply
    3. John Wright

      It is really good to see the desperate attempts of a prominent person to preserve their well paid job.

      The apology tour never seems to work as everyone sees it as groveling to preserve a position/paycheck.

      It will be interesting to see how many prominent people defend her and then finally abandon her.

      The upside may be that Joy Reid will now have some empathy for the precariat of America?

      Or maybe not.

      Reply
    4. Big River Bandido

      Surprising to me that a hack like Joy Reid would go after AIPAC and Wolf Blitzer, two of the corporate media’s most sacred of cows. Can’t wrap my head around the idea that she might have even possessed such common sense once upon a time. Then again, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. And she has retracted the remarks and repeatedly apologized for offending the establishment.

      What surprises me is that the corporate media will still stand by her. Usually when you mess with AIPAC, you’re done with Democrat, neocon/neolib establishment.

      Reply
      1. WheresOurTeddy

        most encouraging part of this story: “Usually when you mess with AIPAC, you’re done with Democrat, neocon/neolib establishment.”

        They’re not bulletproof anymore. Everyone has cameras on their phone. The cat is out of the bag as to what Israel — and by extension, AIPAC — are.

        Reply
  3. Tom Stone

    I’m glad to see the “Curbed” article in links, Kate Wagner’s writing at McMansion Hell is delightful.

    Reply
  4. timbers

    Tariff Tantrum

    ….and related articles.

    I see a possible silver lining in Trump infuriating our puppet “allies” with tariffs and such, because even though WolfStreet suggests in the case of steel tariffs ultimately hurting mostly the top exporter/producer (China) regardless of who the tariffs are imposed upon – they are creating disarray in Europe which might spill over into the united trade sanctions the U.S. is destructively trying to impose against Iran and Russia. The chaos and dis-union Trump’s tariffs create, may provide an opening for Europe to dial down it’s hostility toward Russia and also keep trade ties with Iran more than otherwise.

    Time will tell, but Paul Craig Roberts suggesting Putin can’t stand up the West to the extent he needs to, because he believes Russia’s future lies in integrating into Western capitalism, this may give Iran and Russia the benefit of time against the Western onslaught.

    Trump is jumping all over the global willy nilly – one week threatening North Korea, then bombing Syria, then sanctioning China, then Russia….then on to Iran. The U.S. is spread thin and getting thinner and more desperate.

    Trump is like the doomsday machine in Star Trek…if you distract it with a meaningless attack it’s programing compels it to redirect at the latest attack so each side keeps hitting it with a futile attack causing it to endlessly turn it’s attention to the latest attack but unable to complete it’s attention cycle long enough to complete a response before the next bogus attack is registered.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Yeah, but when Kirk told Nomad it made a mistake and thus was imperfect, the thing self-destructed.

      Fat chance of that happening under current auspices…

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        To be human is to not self destruct for being imperfect.

        Except maybe the protagonist in Mishima’s The Golden Pavilion.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Self destruction is itself the ultimate expression of imperfection. It denies the possibility of growth and change. Humans are not gods.

          Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Here, we can choose between perfect self destruction and imperfect self destruction.

            Imferct self destruction could mean no destruction.

            So, it might have to be perfect, which is definitely beyond us imperfect humans…we err so we can be human.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              Hmmm….
              I sense a philosophical paradox.
              We need to have an ‘ego’ in order to rise above it. To destroy the “self” is not to be destroyed? Schrodingers Paradox at work in the Mystic Realm.
              Quantum Existence.

              Reply
              1. Procopius

                The way I understand what we have of what the Buddha taught, there is no such thing as an ‘ego.’ That is just a word we create for convenience in referring to a construct of many things in a particular relationship with each other. Destroying the self is impossible because the phrase is meaningless. There is no self to be destroyed. Of course, I probably misunderstand.

                Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wonder if Europe dialing down has all along been the intent 11 dimensionally.

      Carrot and stick.

      For, now, that is, for today, maybe, the summit with Kim is back on.

      One wonders why Trump was not more eager to seize on an easy Noble Peace and did not stay quiet till the meeting. A typical Chamberlain like politician could easily be very polite and be ‘peace at all cost’ at the upcoming summit.

      Reply
  5. ambrit

    I too have been spending some time in Dental Office Purgatory. And I had the flouride treatments back in the late sixties! Indeed, the cable “reality” channels are everywhere now. That or Cable News. Even a local Burger King streams either The Weather Channel or CNN during the day on a big flat screen on the eating space wall.
    The authors’ point about the ‘escapist’ values espoused by HGTV and others of that ilk is to the point. I remember ‘Home Ec’ segments on the local morning news shows. (My mom would sometimes have the television on while she cooked breakfast for her ‘brood.’ { Paleo Family Values Syndrome.}) The values being pushed on the public today tell us a lot about the ‘elites’ but next to nothing about the ‘commons.’ It could be done on purpose.

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      At my local VA hospital, it used to be that the “screens” in every waiting area were all displaying FOXcrap all day and night long. The last few times I have had to go there, it appears that only *many* of them do so. I’ve not wanted to wake the slumbering beast by asking any of the workers there whether they have chosen to un-tune the FOXorgan by localized preferences, or whether there has been some kind of policy change.

      It is still anecdotally interesting that the ex-GI black male nurse of my primary care doc has Limbaugh or some other evil voice running all day long in his exam room area…

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        A LEO friend in the NPS was going to FLETC (federal law enforcement training center) in Brunswick, Ga. some years back, and he told the myriad of monitors on campus and in the chow hall in particular, were religiously tuned to Fox news.

        Reply
      2. Amfortas the Hippie

        My stepdad(T6-1968, Viet Nam) gets on to the VA people all the time(he often spends a month or more down there).
        “why is every tv on fox?”…and he found out that …say…MSNBC…is a “premium channel”,lol.
        He yelled about it enough that they have them on espn or the golf channel, now.
        I’ve long lamented that every tv in a public place that I’ve seen in Texas in 20+ years has been tuned to fox.
        It’s a neat trick, and is perfect fodder for some sociological/psychological study.

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          I believe those studies have long since been done, by FOX and the “Powell Memo” creatures like Rupert Murdoch the Koch brothers and folks in what we mopes are not supposed to, sssshhh! call the Deep State.

          The results are in, and it’s worked just great for those folks.

          Reply
    2. Spring Texan

      I’m so happy my new dentist does not have any screens but has a window where you can look out onto a tree. When my old dentist did, I told them turn it off. TV bad while having dentistry in my opinion. Though HGTV would beat the news. Have to say I generally enjoy it (and only get broadcast at home so it’s a treat if a hotel say has it) but get very frustrated with all the rich people stuff.

      Reply
    3. Yves Smith Post author

      You need to have fluoride in your drinking water or have taken fluoride tablets when your adult teeth were forming, as in ~ from ages 4 to 6. Topical fluoride is way overhyped by dentists.

      I didn’t have it and my brothers did. As one dentist put it, “You have the entire history of dentistry in your mouth.” My brothers, who liked sweets as much as I did, have only a couple of fillings each.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        I didn’t know there was a cutoff point for maximum efficacy.
        That said, if this was common knowledge amongst the technical cadres, why was it not made public policy? Flouridation of water supplies was instigated way back, yes. So much so that it became the source of humour, as in “Dr. Strangelove.” But more effective would have been a public policy of enflouridation during infancy, no? Add it to the vaccination regime. Almost every child went through the shots. I remember doing so. Somehow, I don’t see adding flouride to the water supply as best practice.
        I guess that I’m too cynical for my own good.

        Reply
  6. Dan

    The excellent piece on the insanity of Russiagate is by Jack Matlock, Reagan’s ambassador to the Soviet Union, not (as you list it) by Norman Solomon (who has also been quite good on this issue).

    Reply
  7. The Rev Kev

    “Niall Ferguson wanted opposition research on a student.”

    Not in the least surprised about this. I have seen some of his docos and read some of his works and have long identified him as as a neocon/corporatist historian. Even an amateur reader of history like myself can pick out the flaws in his historical arguments. Whereas a James McGill Buchanan will give elites the economic theories that they want to hear, a Niall Campbell Ferguson will give them a historical background for it all. Just reading his Wikipedia entry at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niall_Ferguson tells you all that you need to know about the man.

    Reply
    1. David May

      Indeed. Ferguson is not a historian; he is an entrepreneur. He sells junk ideas to provide intellectual cover for his masters’ looting of the working classes. He is also a douchebag.

      Reply
      1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

        I watched the PBS documentary a few years ago, which I believe was called ” The Origin of Money “. Started fine – goldsmiths, the Medici etc, but after he had brown nosed some ancient Rothschild relic, I started to smell a rat. He confirmed this during the later stages by spouting bilge about Freidman, followed with a trip to Peru pushing the idea of micro-loans to the local peasantry, whose more unfortunate members he referred to as ” Losers “.

        I also watched a panel that he was part of featuring Lewis Lapman, an American Left wing Union man & another person from the middle ground whose names are lost to me. His method of debate was very similar to much of what is seen in the media – when stuck for an answer he resorted to downright lies & basically insults, while never directly answering any questions.

        A Scots Git, as my Dad would have said – perhaps Mark Blythe makes up for him.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Please see Randy Wray or Michael Hudson on the origins of money. Goldsmiths would not have played a meaningful role until pretty late in the game. Ancient money was debt (tally sticks).

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            Whenever I see tally sticks mentioned, I am always reminded of the story over at http://www.bbc.com/news/business-40189959 which shows these used by the UK in the middle ages. In 1834, the British government decided to burn their collection of these artifacts but read to the end of the story to see how that backfired spectacularly.

            Reply
            1. ObjectiveFunction

              Great piece. I especially like the anecdote about the Irish bank strike of 1970

              “Yet the Irish kept writing each other cheques. It must have helped that so much Irish business was small and local.

              “People knew their customers. They knew who was good for the money. Word would get around about people who cheated.

              “And the pubs and corner shops were able to vouch for the creditworthiness of their customers, which meant that cheques could keep moving.”

              Reply
          2. Procopius

            Minor quibble. Tally sticks were certainly used in England during and after the Middle Ages (they also invented modern government finance with marketable bonds instead of personal loans). I am pretty sure the Sumerians had a different mechanism, but we are very fortunate that they recorded the transactions and contracts on clay tablets. I worry that current documents are not going to have lifetimes of more than a couple of decades — at most.

            Reply
        2. Economicator

          That panel was by Lewis Lapham and Ralph Nader was on it. Ralph Nader basically shot down everything Niall said and Niall revealed himself as the a*hole he is by starting to personally insult t
          Ralph Nader.
          Find it on YouTube, it’s instructive.

          Reply
          1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

            Yves – thank you I shall.

            Economicator

            Thank you – I have often wondered who he was – my memory isn’t what it was especially with names & it was a few years ago.

            Reply
    2. ape

      It’s the connection to Susan Rice’s son that is interesting in the bit — the Heritage foundation apparently has him in it’s club.

      Reply
  8. JTMcPhee

    Looks like the wild lynx has a radio tracking collar on — makes it easier to ‘develop a relationship,’ when the video-ist can locate and sort of quietly become through constant seemingly inoffensive presence, and maybe even a kind of hunting partner in locating those tasty snow hares, a fixture in the lynx’s range… The video-ist sure has no sympathies for the little bunnies.

    Kind of like how Alexa and Siri and those other “relationship-developers” work, I believe.

    Reply
    1. oh

      Killing is good when you can justify it as excellent videography or villify the dictator that’s not on your side./s

      Reply
  9. Romancing The Loan

    Buried in the article about the extremely evil/nuts/deliberately provocative man running for Congress in Virginia is the fact that he’s been doing so for ten years now. I read nothing to indicate the pedophile’s popularity is any higher this time around.

    Reply
  10. The Rev Kev

    “We need a new kind of HGTV”

    The missus watches these programs but not a fan myself. When you have a young college couple spend big money to hire a designer to tell them how to decorate their new homes or hear another couple say after buying an island “It’s our first island!” you know that these programs are designed for the top 10%. Even worst are the ones dealing in with multi-million dollar properties in L.A or New York. I guess that the rest of us muppets are supposed to just watch slack-jawed at all these project homes.
    I have a few ideas about programs that the rest of us would be interested in, you know, the other 90% – if that would be financially viable. How about a series of programs helping out young people or even not so young people. Have one advising a couple how to assemble a set of furniture that is easily transportable if they are renters. Have another one helping someone choose where to get extra work from which would, for example, show them the true financial figures of being an Uber driver (and how hard that would suck). Give some young people solid advice about student loans and what colleges are available – and not just the US but far cheaper ones overseas.
    If there are renovation programs, have them done by individuals with a limited budget and no work crews to do the work. Maybe start a couple with an old home and then, through advice, have them over a season completely transform that house into something livable that can be done by the couple themselves and a very limited budget. Have lots of advisers to help out by telling them how to do stuff and in what order but let the couple do it themselves. I bet a lot of people would want to see programs like that.

    Reply
    1. Spring Texan

      One of the best shows I ever saw on HGTV was a very atypical episode of House Hunters International. The couple (in their thirties and living with relatives) were looking for their first apartment in an eastern European country (not sure which now). They had non-American requirements (a tub, a balcony but not too high up cuz the husband was scared of heights) and were very averse to and intimidated by doing any of their own home improvement (overcame that and themselves painted the apartment they eventually picked, very proud of themselves). All three apartments were very modest (“oh this is one of the old Communist buildings and the bathroom has plastic walls”) and the price around $40,000 I think. Being close to relatives was a big factor in the one they picked.

      I’d love to see shows like that in every country; it was so interesting!
      It was really fascinating and I sure wished they had more shows like that.

      Reply
      1. Spring Texan

        I also remember seeing some shows in Dallas where a realtor showed people the modest homes they could afford that fell way below their desires and they had to make big tradeoffs. Those were interesting too. So there are occasionally good things amid the rich-people stuff.

        Reply
      2. Sid_finster

        At least in Ukraine, they weren’t buying [family blog] for $40,000. Maybe Slovakia, IDK.

        Even today, like in any third world country, real estate prices have stayed high. This is because real estate is seen as about the only safe place to park money.

        Reply
      1. Aumua

        And then a program about how to live with constant debt collector harassment and terrible credit. I mean it’s easy to say #juststoppaying to someone else, but only someone who actually has student loans and has stopped paying has the standing to hand that advice out.

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          As to #stopping paying, how about some advice from some experts, who actually advise “debtors” crushed by student loans to #juststoppaying? https://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-rhode/top-10-reasons-you-should_b_6160752.html Even NPR has covered bits of this: https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/03/31/396585597/activists-stop-paying-their-student-loans

          Most of the millions of people not able to “keep up” with using their personal-economy teaspoons to try to bail their sinking personal-economy boats clear of debt are already being harassed by servicers, the government and debt collectors, and already have “terrible credit.” (God forbid, “terrible credit,” among other cruelties our Puritanical neoliberal culture dumps on them, impairs their ability to get further into debt — though of course that growing “consumer credit” is Good For [Some Parts Of] The Economy — and yes, because it’s such a seamless racket, impairs their ability to get some jobs and other important things, and yes, some kinds of debt, with bankruptcy protections like house mortgages, might be argued to be “good,” though some would argue the opposite.)

          And of course here’s not a lot of mercy or relief available for ordinary natural-person mopes, not like for corporations that can slip into the bankruptcy courts, take the money for their execs and lawyers, and get a clean-slate, “fresh-start” discharge of those “debts” that “all good people (except corporations) ought to, in good conscience and as a matter of law, fully repay, with interest, penalties, fees, and their futures.”

          There are actually groups of people, “student debtors,” and their advisors, that are working on stopping payment, what one might call “default,” that evil thing, as part of an effort to leverage a demolition of the current vastly unjust and oppressive and rapacious structure. There’s no guarantees that there will be the kind of “jobs” that those of us who grew up through the last four or five generations think of, for a lot of people. But many of those folks, as humans sometimes are wont to do, are working to create political-economic structures outside the Imperial palace and grounds and beyond Hadrian’s Wall…

          As to standing to offer advice, there are a lot of people posting here and offering advice and observations on “what we should do,” for some definition of “we,” about a whole range of issues and policies and potential actions to try to build something decent and comity-based and sustainable out of the lootable wreckage of the world’s political economy. Or talking their book, on other issues.

          Jubilees, and collapses, sometimes just happen, whether the Rulers and Owners cooperate or not…

          Reply
          1. Aumua

            Well I have recently maxed my federal loans out for my bachelor’s, and I don’t intend to #juststoppaying. I intend, if I must, to enter an income based repayment plan, whereby the balance will be forgiven after (I think Trump wants to make it) 15 years. Ideally of course, I will be able to just pay it all back with my career. I’ll be entering a graduate program in the fall which is fully funded, so we’ll just see what happens.

            Reply
            1. JTMcPhee

              Good for you. Not so good for millions of your friends, neighbors and fellow citizens/consumers.

              Reply
    2. Donna

      RevKev, your renovation idea actually sounds a lot like the original PBS This Old House. The crew worked with the homeowners on renovation projects. Now the homeowners aren’t really expected to do anything except spend money and throw the grand housewarming party when the exhorbitantly expensive job is done.

      I used to love HGTV when they had programs like the Carol Duval Show, a program about arts and crafts or how about the show called Design on a Dime. Then HGTV morphed into 24/7 of product selling. Of course from an environmental stand point it is horrible. Since they promote tossing out kitchen cabinets that are perfectly fine just to update.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        I know what you mean by that last bit. To see whole skip loads of stuff like that heading for landfill when some of it can be refurbished is just crazy. My prediction about society is that within a century when a building is taken down, everything will be reused and recycled and the only thing that will go to waste will be the air that was in that building at the time of its deconstruction.

        Reply
  11. Carolinian

    That Michael Hudson interview has been picked up by several sites is excellent.

    banks have found that they can do to housing the same thing they’ve done to education: Housing is an excuse to get people into debt.[…]

    As banks get richer and richer, the One Percent get richer. They need to nurture more and more markets for their credit and debt creation. So they lend on easier and easier terms, at a rising proportion of the home’s value. So it’s bank credit that has been inflating the price of housing.[…]

    And also, you’re having business rents in New York going down because there’s no one to buy stuff in the stores, because they have to spend so much money on the apartments they rent just to live in New York City or its environs.

    He says he has just returned from China and young people there are making career and even marriage choices based on finding somewhere to live. And whereas in China the easy credit lenders are government banks that can cancel the debts once the bubble bursts, the proposed move of American private banks into China will make them subject to the same “property rights” gun to the head that we are.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Almost always, a house is the most expensive item any of us will ever purchase, and here in the USA homes along with the MIC are 2 key items that no pesky foreign interloper will be able to undersell us on, so we go with our ‘strengths’.

      Every home that changes hands at higher levels, increases property tax coffers, recently depleted by loss of local sales tax to the internet.

      It’s a self licking ice cream cone that adds 2 scoops for every one it devours.

      Reply
      1. Alex morfesis

        It’s a self licking sugar high with adult diabetes just around the corner…in downtown St Pete, the largest independent city in Florida (although city hall thinks aunt bee will be walking around the corner with a peach cobbler pie in 5,4,3,2..)
        The geniuses brought in mister downtown who has failed in Buffalo, Durham, Louisville and now…well he is still here…but he certainly is happy having inherited his kind of ULI (urban land institute/alec) paradise…long term disruption of investments and consolidations and government takings have cost the city tax base hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue handing out construction contracts to build up institutional campuses that don’t hire anyone locally…and pay 75% less in real estate taxes due to their exempt status as ostensibly billion dollar non profit hospitals and educational institutions…

        Floriduh will soon have a fake and shake law and order kinda guy running tele-hussle from
        his base in north pie-nail-us, who rousted broke kids into please bargains as a prosecutor while burping out five photo op kids with a never at home NFP wife…
        Those broke ghetto kids magically narrated into being “gang members” while he takes donations from highway billboard lawyer who markets to the biker gangs who supply all the important imported drugs distributed to the street corner entrepreneur…

        The best plans of evil geniuses always go astray…or is that ashtray…

        Reply
      2. David Carl Grimes

        What would have happened if all these banks and financial firms had not purchased thousands of foreclosed homes: Invitation Homes, American Homes 4 Rent. Starter Homes would have been much cheaper

        Reply
      3. JTMcPhee

        As to underselling in the MIC: Pesky foreign interlopers are already underselling “us” in the MIC realm. Large proportions of “our” complex vast Global Network-Centric Interoperable Battlespace, from signaling to weapons systems, come from “successful bids” or “sole source” furrin suppliers. Some of “our” military wise people are actually concerned about the vulnerabilities, both supply chain and cyber back doors and such, even going back a long way before all those Chinese chipsets got integrated into all “our” fly-by-wire, realtime-interoperable, game-changing, High-Tech ™ weapons systems and command and control: https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/bitstream/handle/2142/50/Policy_Implications.pdf?sequence=1

        Reply
  12. Reify99

    Why has Nathan Larsen not been arrested? Why has his computer not been confiscated and searched for incriminating pornography? Why have we not had an announcement that his website pages have been archived? There should be zero latency in responding.

    The announcement of his arrest should have been in the headline.

    Reply
    1. diptherio

      I know, right? I thought openly advocating for violent crime was a crime in itself. I guess not in Virginia…

      Reply
    2. Elizabeth Burton

      Remember which party the media are working for most. The crazier and uglier the Republican candidate, the more they can howl about “See the kind of people the Republicans run because TRUMP!!!”. This is supposed to mobilize the voter base that party thinks it owns so doesn’t have to do squat for to prevent these evil people from being elected.

      Unless, of course, the candidate they’re running against is an open progressive backed by OR and/or Working Families and/or Brand New Congress and/or DSA, in which case no one will read/hear about the GOP candidates insane and/or criminal propensities.

      Reply
  13. Chris

    Re: The Hill article on student debt…

    Did I miss something? Where are these overly generous debt forgiveness programs that the author is talking about?

    And no mention of what these institutions are doing with the money which is exacerbating the problem. It’s fascinating to see someone from the right try to explain why higher education costs are out of control.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s as if the money elite public universities get for working for the Pentsgon, CIA, the energy department is never enough, and they have charge alot for tuition.

      Maybe they have to accept more such projects.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Are elite professors getting paid too much?

        To the Trump campaign, at least one Cambridge prossfor is.

        Reply
      2. LifelongLib

        Somebody posted figures the other day showing tuition at his alma mater is now 4X higher in constant dollars than it was when he went there in the mid 70s. I doubt that profs etc are being paid that much more…

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Elite profs, I understand, can be well paid.

          And that would not surprise, to see 1% and 99% inequality there.

          Reply
        2. L

          As I have also noted elsewhere in the 60’s and 70’s something like 7 out of every 10 dollars in real cost for a student’s education were subsidized especially at state institutions. These days that number has flipped.

          One area of rising costs not mentioned in many of these institutions is administration. The cost size of the bureaucracy has grown as deans and provosts have moved to larger staff and an ever larger proportion of their time being spent on fundraising and “partnerships” rather than actual administration which then means that the time spent on that goes to sub-deans etc.

          And as in the private sector the ratio of costs has also risen. Linda Katehi was paid 400k per year for her disastrous tenure as chancellor and then after her firing returned as a faculty member for $300k per year. Far in excess of what adjuncts who teach most of the courses make. When the North Carolina GOP brought in Bush’s old education secretary to run the state system they gave her a 200k per year raise over her predecessor plus bonuses. Like rock star CEOs or flag officers they get paid far more than the actual workers carry around large staff of political appointees and pay no real costs for abject failure.

          Reply
    2. nycTerrierist

      “Did I miss something? Where are these overly generous debt forgiveness programs that the author is talking about? ”

      Same here! they lost me there, I expected at least a little gloss of that whopper – what horsefeathers!

      Reply
      1. Chris

        Yep. The loans are delinquent. That is true. But as far as I can tell they are not being forgiven. Big difference!

        Reply
  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    A while back, I thought, regarding a group photo, to say that all the Air Force wives invited to the White House were white was to judge superficially, by just looking at it.

    Airline ‘asks mother to prove’ relation to mixed-race son BBC (Chuck L). Lousy response by Southwest. An apology isn’t adequate. They should have given her a freebie too.

    Reply
    1. Jen

      Especially when the apology is of the non-apology sort:

      “Airline officials said in a statement the company had contacted Ms Gottlieb and apologised “if our interaction made this family uncomfortable”

      “We apologize for the way our employee treated this family” would be an actual apology.

      A girl can dream, anyway.

      Reply
      1. Aumua

        They use this one a lot. “We’re sorry that you had the gall to be offended by anything we did. Maybe next time you’ll just be able to get over it. Do you think?”

        Reply
  15. tegnost

    re Stanford professor…
    According to the emails, Ferguson, Minshull and Rice-Cameron — the son of former Obama White House national security adviser Susan Rice — sought to obtain opposition research on Stanford student Michael Ocon.
    Just OMFG
    I told you they’re all republicans, some wear blue ties and some wear red ones, but the end game is the same.

    Reply
  16. Rates

    On the article featuring Michael Hudson. He’s a bit behind the curve. The phenomenon of guys having to buy a house as a prerequisite to marriage is not new or recent, it’s at least a 6 7 years thing. It’s been documented in multiple books written by Westerners who’s lived in China. I also disagree with his conclusion that Western banks will lend more. No doubt some Western banks did some lending when Japanese real estate prices were going crazy but most of their business (if I am not mistaken) was selling “tobashi” schemes to Japanese corporations. I have no doubt Chinese companies have the same issues that Japanese companies had.

    Reply
    1. Conrad

      Read some Jane Austen. Having a house and prospects has been the key to marriagability since ages ago.

      Reply
  17. Livius Drusus

    Re: Five people die in US romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak. Is it just me or have we been having a lot of problems with food safety lately? Is this due to lax regulation or some other issue?

    I recall reading that after the meatpacking unions were broken American meatpacking plants became significantly dirtier and less safe. I wonder if union busting is also a factor here.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I tend to think anything not organic is not safe, but l also have been learning that one has to be more vigilant than that.

      Reply
    2. Big River Bandido

      Federal regulations and inspections have been eviscerated in the last 40 years, all across the board. This applies to any kind of manufactured consumer product, food, drugs, cosmetics, you name it. You now have the freedom to purchase any kind of product that you can pay for. And the risk of using it? That’s all yours, too.

      We have reached neoliberal nirvana — it’s each and everyone for themselves.

      Reply
    3. Chris

      Honestly? When you work migrant laborers with varying degrees of legality in their status that hard, they take their bathroom breaks in the fields, and they don’t wash their hands…because there aren’t any sinks, or soap, or even hand sanitizer for them to use.

      Then you put the produce they pick in processing plants that are falling apart, often with holes in the roof where bird droppings wash in with rain runoff. Then you under fund food safety inspection programs. And, voila! Instant food contamination crisis.

      As a result, people will accept paying more for their food when a private mega Corp offers them CleanFood ™. Everything is going according to plan :/

      Reply
    4. PlutoniumKun

      I don’t think there is a clear known reason why there seems an increase, in particular with vegetables. It is known that E.Coli can be spread to vegetables through handling (i.e. the workers), through contact with animal manure, and with contact with contaminated irrigation water. There is information on the WHO website.

      An increasing number of outbreaks are associated with the consumption of fruits and vegetables (including sprouts, spinach, lettuce, coleslaw, and salad) whereby contamination may be due to contact with faeces from domestic or wild animals at some stage during cultivation or handling. STEC has also been isolated from bodies of water (such as ponds and streams), wells and water troughs, and has been found to survive for months in manure and water-trough sediments. Waterborne transmission has been reported, both from contaminated drinking-water and from recreational waters.

      It is know that e.coli can ‘grip’ vegetable cells in the same way it grips internally to intestinal walls, so this makes it difficult to wash off.

      If I was to make a guess, I’d say the increase (if it really is an increase, and not just the result of more reporting), is that its related to more worker pressure (no proper toilet facilities, etc), and untested irrigation water. Irrigation water in most jurisdictions needs no testing prior to its use, and in rural areas if its sourced from shallow water wells or surface water ponds can easily be contaminated from septic tanks (human e.coli) or from concentrated animal raising facilities. Its even been known for plants to be fertilised with untreated sewage.

      I can’t actually find any research on this, but it should be easy enough to identify sources of contamination as there are numerous types of e.coli, many of which are species specific, so it is possible to identify if, for example, the contamination is from a human source or from cattle, or pigs, or wild animals.

      Reply
  18. John Beech

    Well, the politics above are predictable, as are the responses. Me? I enjoyed the footage of the Lynx. Seems they’re just cats – yes, pretty much like any other. More massive, mini-tail, and tufted ears but in the end, just another cat as I could identify all the same behaviors in Felis silvestris catus as well. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  19. The Rev Kev

    “What Is Trump’s Trade War Supposed to Accomplish?”

    I’m trying to pick out a pattern for Trump and I think that I can detect one. First, let’s see what he is doing. The US has two neighbours – Canada & Mexico – and he is putting the boot into both. The biggest allies that the US has are those of the EU and he is picking a fight with them. The biggest trade partner is China and, yes, he is picking a fight with them as well. So, who isn’t he picking a fight with? Saudi Arabia and Israel. Why? because they are too powerful. The Saudis have all that wealth so he won’t go after them. Israel controls a lot of political power in the US and Trump needs them to stay in power so he won’t go after them. For further proof, look at North Korea. With their nuclear weapons Trump cannot simply attack them as they are now too powerful for that. Everybody else is fair game.
    Michael Ledeen once said: “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business”. With Trump, he has decided that because the US is so big and powerful, it can afford to throw every country up against a wall to get everything that the US wants from it. In short, Trump is the bully that he appears to be. It gets worse. You can always deal with a liar as you can semi-predict their actions. With Trump, he is the sort that lies to himself which is worse. Take Canada and Mexico. He makes out that because of NAFTA, the US is the victim and both Canada and Mexico have taken advantage of it. The truth is that it was not those two countries that pushed NAFTA through but US corporations to further their interest which included screwing over American workers. And yet Trump can’t see that.
    Trump grew up in a uni-polar world but as he came to power, the world is reverting back to a more normal, stable multi-polar world. The US is signatory to a ton of laws and treaties but if the US announces that it can break anything it wants to because of ‘national security’ then it is only a matter of time until the US finds itself more and more isolated on the international stage. I hate to say it but any US product will become toxic too as the US will say that it always has a veto in any US product sold as Airbus found out – as did that Chinese company too. The only thing is that I expect Trump to be around for another six years so he will have to deal with a lot of the consequences of his actions but I suspect that he will merely double-down on his behaviour.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The sort of multipolar world China, Russia and others see includes trading in currencies other than the Dollar, which they are starting to do.

      Will we one day need to peg ours to, say, the Yuan?

      Reply
    2. oh

      Why pick a fight with SA when we can foist our “modern” weapons on them for billions dollars and have them receive USD for every barrel of oil they sell? Our treasury’s happy to “manage” their USD for them. As for Israel why hurt our hi-tech companies who farm out our defense projects to them?

      Reply
    3. JEHR

      I liked the US a lot better when it wasn’t even aware of our existence. It is frightening to think that Trump may now turn all his attention Northward to us. Please, no!

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        You guys can’t expect to loot all those “natural resources” you fell into, by Going West and North over the last three centuries, all by yourselves, now can you?

        Reply
          1. JTMcPhee

            I’ve followed the US (well, supranational corporate entities that might have originally been chartered — “born” — in the US) involvement in looting, for years. All us mopes suffer the disability of being “too nice,” or subject to having our consciences and participation purchased for 30 pieces of silver or a Windsor 302 V-8 or a bucket of dilbit or a whitewood 2×4 (that’s actually “legally” supposed to be 1 1/2 x 3 1/2, though the ones in my Home Depot are more like 1 3/8 x 3 3/8). Doubly true of our “leaders,” for whom self-interest “trumps” the interest of the general welfare. I hear Trudeau now owns part of one of those pipelines?

            I hear you that by and large, Canadians are not selfish, being known at large as “nice.” As you know, that won’t save you (and the rest of us) from being looted to death.

            Until us mopes get up on our hind legs and put up a fight, the looting will continue until the planet is uninhabitable. But we have a heck of a time getting together on any kind of organizing principle, or to cooperate and coordinate in any kind of group actions and initiatives that would lead to comity, amity, resilience and sustainability, and rein in the excesses of the worst of us…

            Reply
    4. curlydan

      I think with the NK summit, Trump is showing that he’s fairly easy to deal with. Basically, any country has to put up with his tantrums and flip flops in policy and temperament. Slow and steady will win the race with Trump as will a personal meeting. Face-to-face, he’s been hesitant or even afraid to confront anyone and is conciliatory. NK shows up at the White House, and lo and behold the summit is back on (even though it was never really off).

      The main thing that scares me is that once Trump learns that partners will take the slow and steady approach and not freak out to his outlandish actions and statements, the only way he could rattle them would be to “send in the missiles” per se–and not the telegraphed missiles he sent to Syria.

      Reply
  20. Jim Haygood

    ‘[Everest climber] Charlotte Fox …apparently slipped on the hardwood stairs in her four-story house, fell and suffered fatal injuries.’ — Aspen Times

    A family member has a house in another part of Colorado, built on a 45-degree incline and with, yes, four stories.

    Architecturally there’s lots of drama: from the entrance on the bottom level you can see all the way up to the kitchen on the third level, with its stairs leading up to a master suite aerie on the fourth level. But toting supplies up two flights of stairs to the kitchen gets old fast, as does carrying clothes to the laundry two levels down from the master suite … with an added half level descent-and-climb to round a corner.

    This fatally flawed House of Infinite Stairs cannot be fixed, though in the Boulder area’s galloping housing bubble it could easily be unloaded on an unsuspecting victim for high six figures.

    As a matter of diplomacy I will refrain from forwarding Charlotte Fox’s dire cautionary tale to the owners, though as hikers and sometime climbers they will likely come across it anyhow, to their dismay and consternation.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      Lots of houses are built to impress on first sight, with no regard for long term living, and big stairways are often part of that.. I’ve often been asked by people for advice on choosing/building a house, and I always say to take Stewart Brands advice, and remember that if you’ll live in it for a long time, you’ll be living in it when you are too old and feeble to take lots of stairs. And also remember you may not be able to drive into old age. And its not just getting old, plenty of young people for one reason or another may be temporarily or permanently unable to drive, deal with lots of stairs, etc. Every house should be built as if its for an old or disabled person, because at some time of our lives, thats what we will be.

      Reply
      1. J Sterling

        Also, the fashion for hardwood floor surfaces is a fashion for the reason that it wasn’t common until recently. And it wasn’t common because people knew what happens: you slip and hurt yourself.

        In office buildings, at least where they have hard surfaces (cheaper to clean, I agree), corporate Health and Safety rightly demands non-slip strips across every step on the stairs.

        Reply
      2. kareninca

        I had a neighbor in her 80s who fell down the outside stairs of our condo complex and died the next day from the fall. It was late at night and she had just gotten back from visiting a relative in the hospital, and she was tired and she just fell. The stairs were steep, and it was concrete below. There was blood everywhere. It was horrifying.

        When we bought our unit I chose a downstairs one because of our dogs, since I knew when they got old they wouldn’t like stairs. And I figured we wouldn’t either. The view from the upstairs units is a lot nicer, but you can’t have everything.

        Reply
  21. John B

    Tariff Tantrum

    Many commentators profess to be mystified by what Trump’s tariffs are supposed to accomplish, but there’s no mystery. Both Commerce Secretary Ross and Trade Representative Lighthizer come from steel industry backgrounds. They want more steel production and other heavy industry in the United States — they think it’s good for employment, technology, and even national security. So, tariffs. Tariffs on basic manufactured goods may hurt US production of downstream goods, so expect more tariffs to follow — like autos. Also, they know what Krugman calls trade’s “dirty little secret,” which is that a large, importing economy like the United States has what amounts to monopsony power, and can exploit it by setting tariffs at moderate levels that force foreign countries to basically pay a toll for the right to access the US market (so-called “optimal tariff theory”).

    This approach is basically beggar-thy-neighbor (though Lighthizer would say, with some justice, that China does worse). Regardless, it will be a huge selling point for swing labor voters in industrial states in 2020, unless the rest of the world can put together an effective backlash that cause more pain than perceived gain. So far, the international response has been disunited and feeble. Unless we see something more vigorous, trade policy could win Trump re-election.

    Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘beggar-thy-neighbor … will be a huge selling point for swing labor voters in industrial states in 2020’

      provided that the US economy is still growing. In 1930, protectionism on a considerably larger scale sent a post-1929 crash economy skidding down from an asset price smash into full-blown depression.

      This time round, enough late-cycle excesses have accumulated that any match will do to ignite the mountain of dry tinder. Auto manufacturing, to take one example, tends to lead the economy, since buying a new vehicle is a credit-dependent, large discretionary purchase.

      Herbert Hoover Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs throw a saboteur’s monkey wrench into the well-integrated North American auto industry. Vehicle prices are headed up, as the Fed’s interest rate hikes clamp the other jaw of the vise shut on auto buyers.

      One-Term Trump is a wrecker. Sabotaging the giant US economy takes time. But I’m confident this Wharton-schooled, trade-warring, charlatanic know-nothing can git ‘er done. :-)

      No orange-haired, yellow-bellied
      Son of tricky dicky’s
      Gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
      With just a pocket full of hopes
      Money for dope, money for rope

      — John Lennon, Gimme Some Truth

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Many see the status quo as an unsustainable Roman order of prosperity (which as many ask, what prosperity).

        Some may see that many roads lead to the end of that particular Rome, the Ttumpian Way being only one among others.

        If ‘China does worse,’ what had been done? What can be done, or will be done?

        Reply
      2. Katniss Everdeen

        Dunno, Jim. I hate to disagree with you since you are one of the definitive econ voices around these parts but…..

        The american auto industry has been a house of cards for quite awhile now, as Wolf Richter has extensively reported. The cost of new vehicles has ground inexorably higher year after year. The situation is invariably “explained” in terms of the issue du jour–autoworker pay/benefits, the cost of retiree healthcare, “regulation,” “uncompetitively” high corporate taxes and, currently, steel and aluminum tariffs. It’s not a stretch to observe that each of these dire warnings is intended to scare the shit out of what’s left of the middle class (we are all autoworkers now) and justify more policy-driven looting by the corporate class.

        The tenuousness of the “industry” has been masked to some extent by the cooperation of the financial class. It has extended terms of auto loans to ridiculous lengths, rolled too high trade-in balances into new loans and lengthened those terms, created ridiculously lengthy terms for used car loans and pushed leases over purchases. All to keep the house of cards from tipping over, and tightening the debt noose around the neck of increasingly indebted consumers in the process.

        But the fact remains–the fiction of the american auto industry as we know it is unsustainable.

        Does it really matter what the final nail in the coffin is? It’s not like “except for” steel and aluminum tariffs, the industry would be healthy as a horse. It’s been on life support for a long time now. Are we supposed to continue to make policies ostensibly based on keeping the auto industry alive until the “average” new car costs $100,000 and we are finally forced to “mandate” new car purchases, subsidize those purchases for citizens at some multiple of the “poverty level” and “tax” those who don’t comply? We could call it “obamaCAR.”

        At some point, reality will need to be acknowledged. If the tariffs lead to a germ of revitalization of domestic industry with a corresponding increase in jobs in those industries, and to the notion that america can and must again become the producer of the bulk of what it consumes, the auto industry and all of its satellite profit centers will just have to adapt.

        Reply
        1. JBird

          the auto industry and all of its satellite profit centers will just have to adapt.

          It would help if American Maded cars were as well made in practice as they are on paper with foreign made cars. The difference in quality has decreased a lot and that who makes what where and with what has also changed; American companies still seem to not consider long lasting dependability as important like the Japanese or Koreans do Since the lowest cost new budget car is over fifteen thousand dollars and cars are often required to live, dependability is important.

          Reply
          1. Felix_47

            Don’t forget most of the US car industry is sourced in Mexico. The pickups made here are subsidized with a hefty tariff. Until the UAW can organize the Mexican plants since the Mexican unions are corrupt and in the control of management and the corrupt government the base rate for labor will be 2 dollars per hour and any production in the US is done basically to appease the government. Interestingly, the Tesla is outselling the luxury models of Mercedes and BMW in Germany.

            Reply
      3. Buckeye

        Ah yes, Jim Haygood refers to the good ‘ol Smoot-Hawley Tariff. Big Homer Simpson “Doh!” when it’s effect was to turn America into an economic hell-hole.

        As an aside, there ARE people who think that tariffs are an important part of what they call the American School of Economics ( a school of thought). They point to Alexander Hamilton and his policies 230 years ago. Michael Hudson is one of them, in his book “America’s Protectionist Takeoff: The Neglected American School of Political Economy.” This site has a summary of this school of thought:

        realeconomics.BlogSpot.com/2015/11/Michael-Hudson-on-American-school-of.html

        Reply
        1. Buckeye

          Now, just because Hamilton made it work (even though he did some nasty things to the average citizen that we are still paying for) and just because Michael Hudson includes tariffs in his American School analysis , DOES NOT mean that these tariffs are a good idea or even helpful. Tariffs have to take into account the pre-existing trade conditions and world economy. They may have been appropriate 200 years ago, but today things are more complex and industries are already shattered. We are not trying to build a new nation, Trump and his supporters are trying to go back in time and recapture a period of prosperity that had specific conditions; conditions that no longer exist. This tariff tit-for-tat may just fizzle like a damp fuse, or it could back-fire disastrously.

          Reply
      4. Yves Smith Post author

        The idea that Smoot Hawley played a meaningful role in the Great Depression has been widely debunked in economic histories written as of the 1980s and more recent ones.

        Reply
  22. Jim Haygood

    ‘beggar-thy-neighbor … will be a huge selling point for swing labor voters in industrial states in 2020’

    provided that the US economy is still growing. In 1930, protectionism on a considerably larger scale sent a post-1929 crash economy skidding down from an asset price smash into full-blown depression.

    This time round, enough late-cycle excesses have accumulated that any match will do to ignite the mountain of dry tinder. Auto manufacturing, to take one example, tends to lead the economy, since buying a new vehicle is a credit-dependent, large discretionary purchase.

    Herbert Hoover Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs throw a saboteur’s monkey wrench into the well-integrated North American auto industry. Vehicle prices are headed up, as the Fed’s interest rate hikes clamp the other jaw of the vise shut on auto buyers.

    One-Term Trump is a wrecker. Sabotaging the giant US economy takes time. But I’m confident this Wharton-schooled, trade-warring, charlatanic know-nothing can git ‘er done. :-)

    No orange-haired, yellow-bellied
    Son of tricky dicky’s
    Gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
    With just a pocket full of hopes
    Money for dope, money for rope

    — John Lennon, Gimme Some Truth

    Reply
        1. Chris

          “…obscure Aussie guy…”?

          C’mon, he’s a National Living Treasure.

          You really should get out more :-)

          Reply
  23. Synoia

    Airline ‘asks mother to prove’ relation to mixed-race son

    My step son is Vietnamese/Chinese. I’m, Caucasian.
    When I flew with him to Canada, to visit family, I had a power of attorney, however the immigration officer was very clever.
    He asked my son about the relationship.
    My son answered without hesitation “He’s my Dad.”

    That was handled well.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Why are there rules to prove relationshios in the first place, even when people appear to be the same race? And it seems to suggest that it’s easier to circumvent those rules when outward appearances are similar.

      Are they trying to catch adults smuggling unrelated kids, claiming false family relatiinships? Is it easier to fake with similar looking people? Is the response DNA testing for all who claim to be related when travelling?

      Reply
      1. Lord Koos

        Part of it I’m sure is a response to human trafficking, but authority loves to overstep its bounds.

        Reply
      2. kareninca

        Related is not good enough. I have a neighbor who’s ex-husband is plotting to take their kid to Russia, his home country. She has proof of this, but the cops will not act unless he literally acts. There is no recourse if it happens; she will never see her daughter again. Her family is wealthy so they hire a private eye to follow him at all times that he has the kid.

        It is the airlines that turn out to be most helpful here, she tells me – they are on a lookout for this sort of thing. So they are not just being vile when they pry into relationships; there is sometimes something very bad going on.

        Reply
    2. Lord Koos

      My story is very similar — a few years ago when returning from a visit Vancouver B.C. I went through American customs with my 15 year-old stepdaughter who is Chinese (I’m Caucasian). At the time she still had an Australian passport (her biological father lives in Sydney) so we did look a little unusual I guess. The US customs inspector was very suspicious and he separated us for interviews to make sure our stories matched. In classic teen-speak she said “duh, he’s my stepdad” to the guy.

      Reply
  24. Synoia

    How Greece’s Busiest Port Reveals the Perils of Privatization

    There is a series on Netflix :Meet the Midwife” produced by the BBC, and describing conditions in the East End of London, the Docks, in the ’50s.

    It make it clear that the dockies in London were casual day laborers.
    Working conditions were poor, primitive and dangerous.

    We’re repeating that? That’s a disgrace.

    Reply
    1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

      It was probably not as bad in the fifties as it would have been a hundred years earlier & would have been the case in other major British ports. In Liverpool from the 1840’s the Irish being at the bottom of the heap did the manual unloading. Conditions didn’t improve until about 1930 when a Union leader Tom Mann formed an inclusive Union of all the trades on the docks. Churchill’s reply was to send a battleship & dragoons who shot twelve killing two.

      My late wife’s family came form a long line of East End dockers – once when watching ” On the Waterfront “, she noted that her Grandfather had laughed when seeing it saying something to the effect of: ” Not just us then “.

      Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      Before containers, dockers had to manually carry huge loads that eventually broke both their backs and their health, including these massive hessian bags. I forget how much they weighed but were probably equivalent to the combat load for a modern soldier. It only really changed here after a Parliamentarian had one of these huge bags set up in Parliament and invited any other Parliamentarian if they felt up to the challenge of lifting the bag up. None was up to the challenge much less believe how heavy the things were and I think that the point was made of what those dockers had to endure. Regulations changed accordingly.

      Reply
      1. ObjectiveFunction

        At Blawen Ijen volcano in East Java there’s a nonstop procession of whipcord thin men lugging pole baskets filled with sulfur rocks from inside the caldera, up and over the crater rim and down the hiking trail. Up to 70kg a load. It’s excruciating just to look at.

        (I believe the sulfurous waters of the Ijen caldera lake also comprise the world’s largest naturally occurring source of water pollution as they drain to the Java Sea)

        Reply
  25. JohnM

    “What Is Trump’s Trade War Supposed to Accomplish?”

    Maybe it’s just me but i’m disappointed (but not surprised) to see the words ‘job’s or ‘workers’ absent from this article. At it’s root we should expect a tariff to reduce trade, correct? Reduced trade should necessitate more internal production. More internal production should create jobs.

    Some, or a lot, of pain in the short term, or even long term, in the form of higher prices. Of course. But perhaps a price worth paying to fight some of the impacts of globalization.

    Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        UBI time?

        Hand washing cars is apparently more appealing (and costs more) than machine washing.

        Is it the same with housework, and humans will always have such work, if we only would include it in the GDP?

        Reply
    1. tegnost

      some posts are going directly online, either with no edit option or no time lapse so before you repost, open another window, refresh, and check the thread. If you do repost you need rewrite ala altandmain elsewhere today

      Reply
    2. Yves Smith Post author

      We use caching. That means it can take up to two minutes for a post to appear.

      DO NOT EVER MAKE DUPLICATE POSTS! You are telling our software you are a spammer. If you succeed, you posts will always go to our Spam folder. We get over 3000 spam messages a day and we can’t go finding comments made by people who’ve done themselves in.

      Reply
    3. Mel

      You press ‘Post Comment’, the page refreshes, but the comment does not appear.
      Check the URL on the refreshed page. It will be something like
      “https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/05/page_name.html#comment-1234567”
      This is the real URL to your comment. When the comment gets into the database where comments are stored (It seems to take 10 or 20 seconds,) then refreshing that URL, will show the comment. Reading any new page after 10 or 20 seconds will show your comment listed with the new comments on the right-hand-side. Have faith. It’s working pretty much every time.

      Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps we humans should sit and stand quietly as much and as often as it is practically possible.

      Take for example a 50 mpg car and a 15 mpg clunker.

      The owner of the first puts in 300 miles per week.

      The latter 50 miles a week.

      Just on gas consumption alone, the lifestyle of the second is more earth friendly.

      Then, when we look at particles created by the tires wearing out, we see even more problems with moving around too much. It’s worse with synthetic tires than with natural rubber tires, though there are enough toxic chemicals with them too. Where do those particles go? In the air and in our seafood?

      The same with our shoes, rubber soles or otherwise.

      The avid juggers and walkers are of course bigger contributors to this unfortunate eco disaster.

      At the end, one wonders if one shouldnt just sit quietly where one is.

      Unless you go without shoes.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        “But my contribution to all that is, like, totally TINY, minuscule even! Practically INVISIBLE! Why should I have to suffer inconvenience and lifestyle changes? Hey, I have LED bulbs in all the mood and activity lighting in my digs! That has to offset all that other stuff, right? And I RECYCLE!”

        Reply
  26. ambrit

    Has Arizona Slim gotten over his hangover from yesterdays Meetup yet?
    (My psychic powers are tingling.)
    [Where is Kewsacker Estates anyway?]

    Reply
    1. voteforno6

      I second that…

      I had a collie when I was a kid as well. He was a great dog. He even got along with our cats, even when they didn’t reciprocate.

      Reply
  27. JTMcPhee

    Re Pedro Sanchez, over there in Spain, replacing Rajoy: Another Obamitrudeau lookalike, maybe?

    As opposition leader, Sanchez was deeply critical of Catalonia’s secession bid. He backed Rajoy’s imposition of direct rule on the region in October after separatist leaders declared independence.
    But he softened his tone as Catalan separatist lawmakers in the national parliament backed his no-confidence motion. He has said he wants to “build bridges” with the new regional government.

    – Comeback kid –

    The EU-friendly Rajoy, 63, had been in power since 2011. His ousting comes at a time of political instability in Europe, with a new eurosceptic, anti-establishment government taking office in Italy.
    Sanchez has promised his “main priority” will be to respect Madrid’s deficit reduction commitments to the European Union.

    He has also vowed to implement the 2018 budget drawn up by Rajoy’s government. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/sanchez-sworn-in-as-spain-pm-catalan-challenge-awaits/ar-AAy6asx?ocid=spartandhp

    Another conductor on the Austerity Express?

    Reply
  28. GeorgeOrwell

    “You can’t subvert what is already dead and buried.” Exactly!
    I’ve had some conversations with highly intelligent people lately who seem to be up in arms over things like this. Yet they won’t discuss the fact that Wall St criminals were insulated from prosecution during the last administration at virtually every turn. Amazing what they’re willing to overlook as long as the message is delivered in a polished style that suits their phony progressive sensibilities.

    Reply
  29. Expat2uruguay

    I found the article on the Coming Urban Terror to be really fascinating, but I noticed it was from 2007. So I started researching the author, John Robb and found this recent podcast from last month where that he describes as

    … a long interview with Jack and Ian of SOFREP Radio. We talked open source warfare, nonlinear politics, China’s social credit system, moral warfare, and fictive kinship.


    https://sofrep.com/sofrep-radio/episode-350-the-implications-of-social-media-according-to-john-robb/

    Reply
  30. allan

    The new normal: a Reuters article on German politics comes with a trigger warning:

    (Note language that may offend in paragraphs 2, 9 and 11)

    We are living in interesting times.

    Reply
  31. Lunker Walleye

    The Real Side Affects of Sleeping Pills

    “Sleep Shopping” is one.
    A friend of mine wondered why she was getting several packages in the mail that she had not ordered. It was confusing to her but somehow she figured out she had truly placed the orders in her sleep. Turns out she was taking zolpidem.

    Reply
  32. VietnamVet

    “Tariff Tantrum” – what comes to mind is locking the stable doors after the horse is stolen.

    Barrack Obama’s one achievement after the 2008 crash was keeping GM, Ford and Chrysler production lines open although Republicans wanted to let the market shutter them. This is forgotten. Instead today, CNN says Europe is facing an existentialist crisis, ZeroHedge says Italy shows the fragility of the system when its bonds crash after just another government change, and Steve Bannon says the left and right are uniting to regain sovereignty from globalists. Mom of Texas shooting victim says talking with Trump was like “talking to a toddler”.

    After the sad finale of “The Americans”, I am reminded of the Soviet Technocrat who lost one son in Afghanistan and the other jailed in the USA trying to end the Cold War. The American Empire is collapsing. This time, if we could be so lucky, again, just to survive.

    Reply
  33. ObjectiveFunction

    Based on the absence of comments on the Biden puff piece, I take it the rest of the NC commentariat found it as big a nothingburger as I did.

    It actually revealed more about Obama than it did about Smirkin’ Joe. Obama, Biden said, “was constantly looking for more information, more data.” Biden saw it as his job to get him to listen to his gut.

    Between this and BHO’s Hamlet (‘Were We Wrong?’) moment in Peru, fawningly related by the NYT sandwiched between thick layers of RussiaRussiaRussia! you get the sense of a very smart, disciplined Harvard lawyer (his college nickname was also “Mr Spock”) who repeatedly overthought himself out of doing the right thing.

    “I have felt the moment of my greatness flicker”

    Reply

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