Links 7/22/18

Ecuador Will Imminently Withdraw Asylum for Julian Assange and Hand Him Over to the UK. What Comes Next? The Intercept

Multimillion-dollar award against PwC is window into typically secret auditor settlements Francine McKenna, MarketWatch

The Case of the Khrapunovs The Diplomat

Nobel Symposium on Money and Banking Day 1 The Grumpy Economist. Day 2.

St. Louis Uber driver has put video of hundreds of passengers online. Most have no idea. St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Your phone company’s shitty security is all that’s standing between you and total digital destruction Boing Boing

‘Big Red Flag’: Automakers’ Trade Secrets Exposed in Data Leak NYT


Michel Barnier’s pointed questions point to no deal The Spectator

As the SpaceX steamroller surges, European rocket industry vows to resist Ars Technica


Teslas in the palace signal brewing battle in Beijing Asia Nikkei Review. Like Kremlinology!

China forecast to hit ‘peak housing’ and suffer decline in sales FT

What to know about China’s ties with Africa, from aid to infrastructure South China Morning Post

Nicaragua protesters defy Ortega crackdown Agence France Presse

New Cold War

Patient readers, finding links on any other topic than this one is like looking for loose change under the couch cushions. But we’re trying! –lambert

Carter Page FISA Documents Are Released by Justice Department NYT

What to Make of the Carter Page FISA Applications Lawfare. “Now we can see that the footnote disclosing Steele’s possible bias takes up more than a full page in the applications, so there is literally no way the FISA Court could have missed it. The FBI gave the court enough information to evaluate Steele’s credibility.” Well, it’s not like the seamless integration of opposition researchers, political parties, the intelligence community, our famously free press, and the FISA “Court” could ever cause problems, right? I mean, it’s right there in the footnote!

* * *

The Kremlin Is Celebrating Helsinki. For Now. Foreign Policy

Meanwhile, About Those Other Issues at the Summit Consortium News

Here’s the real reason the US must talk to Russia Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

‘As a former KGB spy, he knows how to manipulate’: Hillary Clinton hints that Putin played Trump during the Helsinki summit and questions why the president has not ‘spoken up for our country’ Daily Mail. That “our” locution liberal Democrats constantly use really gets to me, because it’s question-begging; it presume they get to speak for the country, which isn’t a given.

* * *

White House rejects Putin plan for Ukraine referendum FT

Putin warns of ‘consequences’ if Nato develops closer ties with Georgia and Ukraine Independent

* * *

The Russia obsession LBO News

Did Putin share stolen election data with Trump? WaPo. Betteridge’s Law…

John Brennan, Melting Down and Covering Up The American Conservative

No, your Trump-is-gay-for-Putin jokes aren’t funny WaPo. So I’m not the only one. Although this is WaPo rebuking The Times….

The Secret History of Leviticus NYT

The brainwashing myth The Conversation

Trump Transition

Kavanaugh: Watergate tapes decision may have been wrong AP

Trump attorneys waive privilege on secret recording about ex-Playmate payment CNN

Democrats in Disarray

Is a Democratic ‘Blue Wave’ Really Coming? The National Interest. Worth a read as a sane take on the national security class’s concerns about 2018 and 2020. “I have been studying the impact of the ‘narrative collapse’ among U.S. voters about the role and efficacy of U.S. foreign policy.” #RussiaRussiaRussia might be viewed as a hysterical an intensely felt effort to regain control of the national security narrative. And a lot of rice bowls are at stake.

Where Do ‘Centrist’ Democrats Turn in 2020? New York Magazine. Suddenly a lot of stories about centrists. Somebody must have gotten funding.

Centrist Dems begin arguing against far-left agenda as 2020 play McClatchy. “Begin”? “Far left”?

There Is a Revolution on the Left. Democrats Are Bracing NYT (UserFriendly).

Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Went to War With Partisanship in Kansas The Intercept

Bernie Sanders on Labor’s Future and Why Democratic Socialists Keep Winning In These Times

Did YOUR Congressmember Join The New Medicare For All Caucus? Down With Tyranny

Youth voter registration went up 41 percent in Florida after Parkland Miami Herald

Guillotine Watch

Mark Janus quits state job for conservative think tank gig after landmark ruling Chicago Sun-Times. Ka-ching.

Are the Kardashians and Social Media Really Toxic? This Movie May Have the Answer Vanity Fair

This 28-year-old Silicon Valley investor builds businesses by helping entrepreneurs fall in love Business Insider

How Enslaved Chefs Helped Shape American Cuisine Smithsonian

Class Warfare

Colleges ask for a share of future salary in lieu of loans AP. How about I just work the University President’s land?

US watchdog uncovers violence against pro-union workers at Indian factory Guardian

Why Is Google Translate Spitting Out Sinister Religious Prophecies? Motherboard (DK).

A path to clean water Science

The Lesson of the Château de Calberte NYT. Dammit, why can’t the Times just be bad all the time?

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. fresno dan

    Carter Page FISA Documents Are Released by Justice Department NYT

    Perusing my way through the Carter Page FISA foia release – lots of redaction of course, but what is remarkable for a “top secret” document is how much of the support for the warrant was….the news media.
    REALLY – what are we paying all those people at NSA, CIA, and all those 15 other intelligence agencies….

    1. Louis Fyne

      some things never change…..same intelligence community that didn’t know that the Berlin Wall was about to fall/falling until CNN went live from the Brandenburg Gate.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        We were lucky, at that time, to have been spared of an ‘East Germans are invading through the gate, the communists are coming’ narrative.

        1. fresno dan

          July 22, 2018 at 10:48 am

          LOL – I don’t know why I’m laughing SO HARD …maybe is soooo funny cause its soooo true…

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I don’t know why either.

            Often, when I want to be funny, instead, people become scared or upset.

            Other times, when I want to be scary, people think it funny.

            Is it the world or is it just me?

            1. ambrit

              Sometimes, when I try to be ‘funny’ about something, I’m trying the old tried and true strategy of using humour to mask an unpleasant truth. People can invest so much of their self worth in a ‘popular’ meme now that even making fun of such a meme is perceived as a personal affront. No one likes being corrected. Especially when it is for their ‘own good.’ Double plus especially when it is true.
              “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.”

    2. flora

      If the CIA et al succeed in wholly censoring the media how will they ever find out what’s really going on?

      1. ambrit

        They will apply the “Neocon Doctrine.” “…when we act, we create our own reality.”
        Unfortunately for them, and usually for us at the same time, there is an objective reality in play. It trumps all others.

        1. fresno dan

          July 22, 2018 at 11:36 am

          could reality trump Trump’s attempt to trump reality…and is Trump sometimes trying to trump Trump’s reality trumping attempts at trumping reality …by !gasp! just speaking reality?

          1. ambrit

            I can just hear the quiet desperation in the voices at the Jockey Club; “But, but, he’s not one of us!”

      2. Summer

        What Ambrit said is on point.

        If you mean “find out what’s really going on” as in with the pleebs, you have to assume they really give a ratt’s butt…outsie how much money you can make for their masters.

        1. Olga

          That was my response – what makes you think they want to know? In Iran, after the 1953 coup d’etat, they turned over all matters to shah’s SAVAK. Remember Carter claiming in late 70s that Iran was an island of stability in the ME? “Our” IC had no idea an overthrow was coming in 1979.

      3. HotFlash

        Well, let’s see, did they call the fall of the Wall? No. Well what about WMD? Not that either. So, you are quite right, they can’t buy a clue, and it appears to have been going on for some time.

        1. johnnygl

          I recall reading years ago that intel world missed india and pakistan testing nukes in the late 90s and joining the nuclear weapons club, too.

          I wonder if there’s a pattern here?

    3. Bill Smith

      I saw that also. And we know some of that is circular as Steele told some reporters about the stuff he had and they went and wrote some stories.

      I noticed that the 412 page pdf had 4 consecutive FISA warrants in it. Each ran for 3 months. They stop almost a year ago. The first one is 83 pages and the last one is about 120 pages. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th one appears to be padded out with some news media reporting that took place over the previous warrant.

    4. Doug Hillman

      The intel-surveillance community has lived so long in dark sewers, they’ve become like blind reptiles who’ve lost their eyes and can’t see the truth staring back at them. Unable to survive in daylight, they slither in their own blackness imbibing their own inky Kool-aid. Brennan is almost pitiable . . . almost.

      The all-time top Orwellian prize for best slogan must go to the CIA, arguably the most evil, murderous and deceitful cartel in history, for a quote stolen from Jesus Christ posted in its lobby:

      “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

      For people who lie, steal, torture and kill for a living, it doesn’t get any better than that

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Julian always said the discovery phase was going to be great fun.
        Um except that we (or should I say We) will not be privy to the information. The People (Congress) have been trying for two years to get the FBICIAJUSTICEDEPARTMENT to turn over subpoenaed information in #CRAZYIVAN to no avail.
        For relevant information on how these people operate (that is blocked in the freedom of speech West) I highly suggest the excellent documentary on the Magnitsky business. First half hour plays the official narrative, then the filmmaker digs a little deeper:

  2. ambrit

    Greenwald is right on the money with his warning about the ultimate effects of a prosecution of Assange by the US Government. When the process whereby materials are deemed to be “secret and confidential” is opaque to the public, the legitimacy of that process rests wholly upon the degree of trust the public has in the decision makers regarding the materials in question.
    One of the primary methods the Colonial Americans used to build a case for, and later an instrumentality to ensure, separation from the Mother Country, were printed materials. Pamphlets, Journals and the public relations organs of groups such as the Committees of Correspondence stoked the fires that later burst into the conflagration known as the War of Independence.
    After Independence was assured, the basic ‘rights’ of the public to question the ‘official’ versions of things and argue amongst themselves about anything and everything was codified in the First Amendment of the Constitution.
    If Assange is extradited to America and stands trial for ‘publishing confidential documents’ the First Amendment will have been neutered and America officially become a Police State.

    1. David May

      “If Assange is extradited to America and stands trial for ‘publishing confidential documents’ the First Amendment will have been neutered and America officially become a Police State.”

      It really does seem that America is slipping into a fascism lite. I do not use the F word lightly as it is terribly abused. Trump is not a fascist, but he is paving the way for a Richard Spencer. Sheldon Wolin described the US as “inverted totalitarianism”. All it takes is another financial crisis and the US is ripe for full blown Fascism.

      1. Expat

        I think it already slipped. I put the red line after 9-11 when a bunch of Saudi terrorists handed over the keys to the vault and the constitution to the executive branch. The press (mostly) shut up and bent over. The people ran scared, begging for more controls, more police, more surveillance and more killing of “them”. The government classified everything and spent trillions on war and homeland security. We were TOLD to go shopping. They gave us bread and circuses, dumbed down our education and set about enriching themselves and their friends in a manner not seen since the Fall of Rome.

        GWB loved to call Al Qaeda “fascists” because it was an epithet that most Americans knew as a bad word. He could have called them commie fascists as well since there are plenty of Americans who believe Nazis were socialists (National Socialists, so it’s obvious, right?). But in the end, we need to either select the original latin meaning or the twentieth century meaning.

        The US is not totalitarian nor is it a police state. But that seems to be because Americans are, for the most part, staunch supporters of their government and its policies. There are dissident groups who are “put down” by popular opinion or “gestapo” tactics. But overall, Americans seem to like what they created, Fascism Lite.

    2. fresno dan

      July 22, 2018 at 7:21 am

      I think we only have a simulacrum of representative government – just like a more in-depth analysis of the Carter Page warrant will reveal that so much of our vaunted “due process” is total Bullsh*t. (remember the warrant was renewed THREE times)
      I wonder how many in the “intelligence and law enforcement community”, will realize that prosecuting Assange will cut the last legs out from under the theory that democratic computers were broached from Russia… and what that will mean for them??? We may be reaching a critical mass where the left and Trumpists start seeing the FBI and CIA from the same viewpoint. How long will the dead enders at MSNBC and CNN be able to deny reality?

      The Wizard of OZ looks all powerful and all knowing, until the curtain is pulled back….

      1. ambrit

        “How long will the dead enders atMSNBC and CNN be able to deny reality?”
        Up until we drag them onto the Guillotine.

          1. Massinissa

            I doubt it. MSNBC and FOX merging would piss off the liberals and the conservatives.

      2. polecat

        So that make$ HER the wicked witch of the EASTern seaboard, Barry the Tin-eared telepromptMan, the Donald a hoarse of a diffracted orangish color, the DNC and the untelligence community in toto, the media and backrow kids the flying monkeys … and everyone else is from Munchkindeplorableland .. where the coroner is in dire need of pigskins, so as to list the endless streams of little people who’ve O.D.d ! on all those poppies !
        The wizards of wallstreet are caught in a hyper vulture-capitalist baloon of giant proportions, so there IS no relief from their end, and Glenda’s in her own bubble .. sailing to god knows where .. !!
        I’m going to grab a non-GMO apple and chill.

      3. oh

        When the goverment has more resources to bring in charges (in many cases unfounded charges against whistlw blowers) and breaks the accused psychologically ruins him/her financially, you know that there is no due process. When cops kill innocent citizens without cause, you know that there are no rights. When the governments break up peaceful protests and sit-ins you know that there are no citizens rights. Everyday demonstrations are broken up bu mass arrest to show that the people have no voice.

      4. Procopius

        Well, at least Carter Page got a simulation of “due process.” He’s a rich (or at least well paid) white guy. I believe it’s going to gradually become more common to whack “terrorists” from drones, even in America.

    3. Lorenzo

      somehow I came across a discord channel (the social network), organizing to fight this within whatever means each person has. Seems pretty serious, fairly well organized and thus potentially effective. I’ll just drop the invite link for anyone willing to participate

      1. flora

        I’ll repeat my comment (to your earlier comment).

        The .gg domain is registered in the Channel Islands, specifically the crown dependency of Guernsey. From Wikipedia:
        For example, the VoIP application Discord, commonly used with multiplayer games, uses the domain as a redirect to their main website,, as well as for Discord server invite links.

        This link may be aimed at gamers, probably a good audience, but I don’t know anything about it. (This is a “look both ways before crossing the street” comment.)

    4. Brooklin Bridge

      Greenwald observes the irony of journalists who want Assange put away:

      But if, as seems quite likely, the Trump administration finally announces that it intends to prosecute Assange for publishing classified U.S. Government documents, we will be faced with the bizarre spectacle of U.S. journalists – who have spent the last two years melodramatically expressing grave concern over press freedom due to insulting tweets from Donald Trump about Wolf Blitzer and Chuck Todd or his mean treatment of Jim Acosta – possibly cheering for a precedent that would be the gravest press freedom threat in decades.

      That precedent would be one that could easily be used to put them in a prison cell alongside Assange for the new “crime” of publishing any documents that the U.S. Government has decreed should not be published.

      But of course main stream American journalists (and the phenomenon has been copied globally btw) of the variety the public at large gets to see, hear and read have long ago forgotten anything related to what their craft once stood for and will be oblivious – except in form and only than for a few – to what Greenwald is talking about.

      This could easily move quickly from proto-fascism to something full blown and far more sinister.

      1. ambrit

        Try number two.
        The march to full blown has already begun. Internet censorship, “fake news alert!” and the militarization of the local police are well on that way.
        I see a logo for this: A ‘thrasher’ on skateboard barreling down slope towards a curtain of fire.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          The police state: It’s the icy awareness of it as it creeps up on us that’s so nasty. It lags behind facts by denial, by hope pickled by concern, then worry, then fear – until suddenly it’s horribly every-day or until that breath sucking moment when it grabs you personally .

            1. polecat

              “Uh .. uh what ? A Xi knowmoar !??”

              “I’ll tell what I don’t know .. the Don, he seemed fine .. then he was twittering and, uh … something, uh , tariffs, uh, they seemed to come off he treasuries chest …”

              1. ambrit

                “Yeah. The talk down at the docks is that this all happened on the “Cosa Nostromo.” Really burst his bubble!”

      2. fresno dan

        Brooklin Bridge
        July 22, 2018 at 9:44 am

        The inconsistency and incongruities (on both sides) is simply astounding – even pretending that there is some principal or philosophy as window dressing is…out the window. It is whatever the position most apparently advantageous is (and ALWAYS without the most minimal thinking) at this very instance, regardless of how much any other position was THE POLICY, POSITION, STAND and DIE FOR THIS CORE BELIEF.
        One could give Trump’s campaign speech about Wikileaks releasing Hillary’s stuff as an example, but at least there was a modicum of an interval between Trump pro Wikileaks and Trump prosecute Wikileaks. Than diametrically opposed ideas or statements started coming monthly, weekly, daily, hourly, by the minute and now by the nanosecond.
        I read where quantum computers can reverse cause and effect, but it seems to be happening in our politics for a while now. NOW politicians/media will reverse their positions BEFORE they take a position. AND I expect just like electron orbitals, soon will take EVERY possible position and reverse every possible position BEFORE they have taken any position…..

      3. JTMcPhee

        Is there anyone or any entity in line to continue Assange’s efforts if the effing Blob does get their porcine mitts on him?

        Or is it to be just the “darkling plain swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, where ignorant armies clash by night”?

          1. Procopius

            I think there is. I recall many years ago they were announcing that “real soon now” they were going to be releasing a huge scandal, involving one of the too big to jail banks (I think it was Ameribank or whatever it used to be called, but am not sure). Then they announced that the number two guy in the chain of command had erased all the disks (this was when floppy disks were still in common use). It seems he had an ethical objection to releasing the material. I have long since forgotten his name. So there are probably other people involved in running the organization who are ready to step into the position. Probably with less recognition.

      4. whine country

        Can’t Assange just argue that he didn’t intend to do anything wrong? I think there’s a precedent for that.

      5. Summer

        A key reason for stagnating movements is organizing to prevent something from happenning that has already happened.

    5. SoldierSvejk

      There does not have to be a trial; they’ll simply wear him out á la Manning (i.e., brutal conditions), hoping his health gives up.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I seriously doubt there’s any chance Julian Assange might be “extradited to America and stand trial for ‘publishing confidential documents’”? I believe he will just ‘disappear’ along with all further news about him. The ‘news’ will focus on successes in shutting down Wikileaks, and soon Wikileaks will disappear from the ‘news’.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          My guess is he and the Skrpals will become close friends if the UK authorities manage to get their hands on him.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            Do you mean close friends as in adjacent cells or merely as in cells in the same facility? I expect Assange might merit special attention, perhaps the personal attention of an official high up in the CIA, and extremely well qualified from past work and disposition to pose questions to a person of interest such as Assange. Alas! All the comedy has been excised from “Brazil” with extreme prejudice, and without pain killer.

    6. JBird

      The government gets around that by declaring everything as confidential documents. Why is that? Can say because it is confidential!

    7. nihil obstet

      I can’t get my head around the notion that a country can extradite the citizen of another country from yet a third country for publishing anything! Could Iran extradite a U.S. citizen from Canada for publishing anti-Islamic blasphemy? For that matter even if it’s only two countries involved, would the U.S. agree to extradite to Germany the CIA operatives who tapped Merkel’s phone? What the hell are extradition treaties all about?

  3. fresno dan

    Are the Kardashians and Social Media Really Toxic? This Movie May Have the Answer Vanity Fair

    French Revolution

    1. ambrit

      I am continually amazed at what passes for ‘popular culture’ in modern times. The ‘K’s have the dubious distinction of being both gauche and declasse. We need a modern Wilde to write a play about this family. Call it: “The Importance of Being Famous.”

      1. Steve H.

        Please, stop underestimating gauche and declasse.

        One Kardashian family tweet, by Kylie Jenner, dropped Snapchat $1.3 billion in one day. Of course the family shorted the stock, through friends and cutouts.

        That is raw power. John Robb has been writing about WW#. It is moral maneuvering with a time frame as fast as light.

        1. ambrit

          I will give you the allure of money, and the knock on effects it imparts to gauche and declasse. However, the Family ‘K’ epitomizes the opposite of “noblesse oblige.” I would go so far as to use the word “crass,” with a shout out to the patron saint of that clique, Crassus. In that vein, I’ll admit that Wilde is too civilized for the Family ‘K’s story. Something more on the order of the “Satyricon” is warranted.
          If Wilde were around today, I imagine he’d have his own cable talk show. “Walk on the Wilde Syde” with theme music by Lou Reed of course. Wilde was, after all, an afficionado of the “Underground Scene” of his day.
          Whenever I see anything about the Family ‘K’ and their ilk, I make a mental association with Weimar Germany. Films like “The Damned” and “The Serpents Egg” come to mind. After the Weimar Experience came Der Furher and later experiences such as “The Third Man” and “Open City.”
          I have the sneaking suspicion that when a companies ‘public’ value can be manipulated as much as was that of Snapchat on that day, the company in question has little to no intrinsic value. Consider the Saga of Snapchat as a cautionary tale. If one small group of like minded oligarchs can do such intended mayhem to a stock such as that of Snapchat, imagine how badly the entire stock market will react on the day that some maliciously like minded group acts on the market in general. I personally got out of the stock market for good when P/E ratios began to trend above Twelve to Fifteen as the norm.
          When you build a government on a rotten foundation, and who can deny that the milieu of the Family ‘K’ is rotten to the core, who can deny that you end up with a world run riot with rot.

          1. fresno dan

            July 22, 2018 at 10:01 am

            Very good comment ambrit. AND one small supporting point – remember “My Space”
            Why is Facebook valuable other than the rather fickle preferences of the public – remember the “Macarena”

            I do have to admit, I thought people would have gotten bored with the Kardashians long, long ago….

          2. Summer

            Just think, your retirement savings could be affected by a tweet and the stock market is sold as a form of economic security.

            And we think pop culture is silly…

            1. ambrit

              Oh my!
              “All around the money bush,”
              “The Feds they chased the Bubbles,”
              “The Feds they stopped to put up their rates,”
              “Pop goes the bubble!”
              Now to add in some monster base, and a Death Metal guitar break and voila, Bankster Rap!

        2. lyman alpha blob

          Not sure if that signifies raw power or a completely dysfunctional society but if I had to put my money on it, I’d go long on the latter.

      2. Steve H.

        ambrit, a question: if Wilde were alive today, would he have retired to the quiet life, or would he have had his own reality show?

        I must read ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol.’ I tried once, but was looking for humor.

        1. ambrit

          Some discussion about this comment is above. I do endorse reading “The Ballad of Reading Gaol.” Read it once and put it by for a week or so. Then go back and re-read it. I must hunt up my copy of the works of Wilde. I need to reacquaint myself with the mental atmosphere of the ‘Fin de siecle’ period. There are too many similarities between then and now for comfort.

            1. ambrit

              Don’t thank me, thank Wilde. Wilde may be ‘famous’ for his wit, but “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” is his ode to lifes’ travails. True Comedians are inverted Tragedians. They are just tired of being the butt of lifes’ jokes.

                1. ambrit

                  Good catch. I didn’t realize that it was available over the internet. Even now, enmeshed as I am in the Toils of Maya known as the Byte Stuff, I am mentally wedded to words on paper.
                  Thank you.

              1. flora

                Yes. And other works. Particularly The Proud Tower related that European powers had become cocksure of their invincibility in war after decades of fighting their empires’ tribal revolts with Gatling guns and Maxim guns; near automatic, high-speed rifle fire against spears and single-shot rifles was a turkey shoot for the European powers. It never occurred to them, apparently, that aiming the same fire power against an equally equipped European power wasn’t likely to be a turkey shoot. It also never occurred to them that the advent of mechanization and mass production of war materiel changed the nature of war.

                Have our “bloodless” drone wars in 3rd world countries and belief in AI created the same kind of blind spot in US and Western European countries; created a new technology that deludes the great powers about the importance of context, and contextual limitation?

                1. flora

                  adding: I don’t think the European empires had any idea what they were stumbling into. An seemly short simple confrontation to satisfy honor and maybe come out slightly ahead resulted in the absolute destruction of 3 of the 5 empires and the crippling of the remaining 2.

                  I don’t think the US intel community want war but only wants to protect its govt budget line and increase it. But things can take on a life of their own, unanticipated by people seeing the world with last century eyes.

                  1. Phillip Allen

                    I doubt that a majority of the many-headed ‘IC’ want major war, but I don’t doubt that a faction or factions among and within them do, in one theater or another, one causus belli or another, whether driven by ideology, avarice, or both. Without doubt they all want to protect and expand their share of the budget. Actions by pro-war factions can herd the rest, with groupthink and appropriations salving any qualms.

                    1. Procopius

                      It has certainly seemed to me that there are feckless plotters among the Deep State, who do not seem to believe what we were told about nuclear war forty, fifty years ago, and think there can be a winner. I cannot imagine how anybody can think it’s smart to keep poking Russia with a sharp stick.

  4. David May

    Re: Julian Assange

    Hopefully this will have a silver lining in that his hellish state of existence is over for now. Most immediately, he can get medical treatment. It is not certain that he will be eventually handed over to the US. British courts can be quite humane, and there is precedence for not handing over prisoners to states which torture or have the death penalty. I really hope he will be vindicated. It is shameful that a Mandela-like figure can be so brutally vilified, besmirched and castigated.

    1. ambrit

      It all depends on what prison he is ‘held’ in. Some British prisons are the poster children for ‘dank and dark dungeons.’
      I fear that he night be ‘rendered’ to someplace like the Guantanamo Bay facility.
      “Oh Cousins. We seem to have run a little short on space for our Politicals. Could you chaps help us out? Something in a tropical paradise would be fabulous. He’s been cooped up in a broom closet for so long. Poor chap.”

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Type “La plume de ma tante est sur la table” into Google Translate and ask for an English translation, and you get something that might incline you, if asked whether you would agree to ride in a self-driving car programmed by the same people, to say yes. But look at the weird shit that comes from inputting Asian language repeated syllable sequences and you not only wouldn’t get in the car, you wouldn’t want to be in a parking lot where it was driving around on a test run. It’s the difference between what might look like a technology nearly ready for prime time and the chaotic behavior of an engineering abortion that should strike fear into the hearts of any rational human.

      Right up my alley. Great links, but they interfere with my plans for being completely useless on a Sunday. /wink

      1. Procopius

        Actually, Google Translate Thai has gotten amazingly better in just a few years. As I understand it they use a technique called “statistical linguistics.” It needs to have the same text entered in both languages, and then it works on the machine learning principal, like the early chess programs. Needs a lot of texts, but it eventually works better than earlier approaches. What Google does is leave a little question down at the bottom of the page, asking if the viewer has a better translation to please enter it. That helps get more input of all languages.

    2. ChrisPacific

      I tried playing around with it a bit. At some point it seems like somebody switched off Translate’s ability to say “I don’t know” and now it just comes up with whatever random weirdness it can think of. If you enter one or more actual words then it will translate those and riff off them. I used ‘toru’ (three in Maori) and got lots of random sentences involving the number three. You can also keep the same text but change the source language and Google will come up with a different meaningless (but often correctly structured) English sentence for each, except in a few cases where it leaves the text as is.

      I’m not sure whose idea this was, but I think it degrades the service. Previously it would leave the text unchanged unless it had a pretty good idea of how to translate it. Now you would have no way of knowing whether it has correctly broken down all parts of speech, localized the idioms, etc. or if it has no idea and is just pulling stuff out of a hat.

      1. Jessica

        Interestingly, this seemingly random riffing off the one or two words it actually understands is not so different from how I am at a certain stage in learning a language. As a technique for bluffing, it kind of sort of works.

  5. fresno dan

    John Brennan, Melting Down and Covering Up The American Conservative

    Because it is 2018, Brennan was never asked to explain exactly how a press conference exceeds the threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors the Constitution sets for impeachment, nor was he asked to lay a few cards on the table showing what Putin has on Trump. No, Brennan is a man of his times, all bluster and noise, knowing that so long as he says what a significant part of the country apparently believes—that the president of the United States is under the control of the Kremlin—he will never be challenged.
    Brennan’s bleating has the interesting side effect of directing attention away from who was watching the front door as the Russians walked in to cause what one MSNBC analyst described as a mix of Pearl Harbor and Kristallnacht. During the 2016 election, Brennan was head of the CIA. His evil twin, James Clapper, who also coughs up Trump attacks for nickels these days, was director of national intelligence. James Comey headed the FBI, following Robert Mueller into the job. Yet the noise from that crowd has become so loud as to drown out any questions about where they were when they had the duty to stop the Russians in the first place.
    Because, maybe, deep down, Brennan (Clapper, Hayden, Comey, and Mueller) really do know that this is all like flying saucers and cell phone cameras. At some point, the whole alien conspiracy meme fell apart because somehow when everyone had a camera with them 24/7/365, there were no more sightings and we had to admit that our fears had gotten the best of us.
    First – just to beat that dead horse of the Carter Page indictment, part of the “proof” of Russian interference is that the Russians have been interfering in our elections for decades. (how much we do, how much affect the russkies ACTUALLY have, etc., etc.)
    SECOND – weapons of mass destruction, lying to congress, funny (no its not) how all the myriad crimes and evil of the intelligence and law enforcement community are all forgotten and forgiven by the media who go on the most about moral behavior….
    BUT like I always say, its not what the news media covers that is the problem, its what they don’t cover.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I’m reminded of Michael Chertoff’s TSA contracts. Given how Obama decided white collar crime was just fantastic and the Bush years, the only question left is what kind of shenanigans did high ranking members of the intelligence community get up to?

    2. George Phillies

      “” At some point, the whole alien conspiracy meme fell apart because somehow when everyone had a camera with them 24/7/365, there were no more sightings and we had to admit that our fears had gotten the best of us.”” There are considerably more images. However, most people can’t handle the complicated concepts of holding the camera steady and pointing it at the object of interest, so most of them are pretty terrible.

    3. Summer

      “BUT like I always say, its not what the news media covers that is the problem, its what they don’t cover.”

      In related news, but not the same, the New Yorker has an article called “The Painstaking Hunt for War Criminals in the USA.” It’s about the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit, part of the Department of Homeland Security.

      Yes, that actually exists without irony down in the rabbit hole.

      If it were funny, the jokes would write themselves.

      1. fresno dan

        July 22, 2018 at 12:32 pm

        In news that is related but not the same to the not the same related news, bureaucrats in the War Crimes Unit find it astonishingly difficult to find their own noses……

        Of course, maybe the unit is just incompletely named, and it should be more completely called:
        Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit for War Crime Criminals from Other Countries Because By No Means do Americans Prosecute or Even Mention Cases of Acts by US Officials that Unequivocally Break the Geneva Convention as War Crimes Because we Just Don’t Wanna Unit.

        1. Summer

          The people that work there are allegedly master analysts of information…

          You can’t make this stuff up.

  6. Steve H.

    > A path to clean water

    “Similarly, replacing plastic microbeads with fully and readily mineralizable cellulose microbeads in cosmetics would avoid the release of long-lived microplastics into the environment.”

    They mention fungicides. Waterglass (generally sodium silicate) was farmer-known a century ago, fireproofing wood as well. Caustic but simple and cheap. Information hard to come by after paint became preferred to pay the petroleum companies.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      This is an excellent point – thank you. I’m going to use some on the exposed wood trim and beams where I was going to paint.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Dare one ask why “micro beads” are even a “necessary” part of cosmetic formulae, and whether cosmetics as a category is even necessary ( as opposed to vanity-marketing ineluctability)?

      Of course the vanity bidness produces wondrous jobs for entrepreneurial climbers via corporations/multi-level marketing scams like Mary Kay and Avon and Amway, lots of good paying middle class jobs… And who wants to look at a babe that doesn’t wear face paint? Or how can a gent reduce his apparent age to get past the initial interview to get a gig position?

      “A little powder and a little paint
      Makes a lady what she ain’t…”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A lot of paying middle class jobs.

        Also mucho dinero to the celebrities hawking their products.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Only too well aware of how big the “beauty” industry is. Sure filled the bathroom “vanity,” what’s supposed to be the linen closet, a whole blanket chest, and several other repositories in “our” little dwelling. We just dumped the last of the $3,000 in Mary Kay Representative kit. And more is coming in, every week. Let consumption thrive!

          Back in college, many argued passionately over what is beauty, what is truth? My thought these days,?truthfully, is that the beauty industry ought to be re-branded as the ugly reduction and cover-up industry. ..

          1. foghorn longhorn

            Men like what they see
            Women like what they hear
            It’s why men lie and women wear makeup.

            1. ArcadiaMommy

              Funny in my group, the upscale look is perfect skin (but cannot look like you are wearing makeup) and beachy hair (wavy but cannot look like it was done on purpose).

              Too hot for makeup if you ask me.

              1. foghorn longhorn

                8 o’clock here (Tyler Tx) and it’s down to a balmy 102, from a high of 107 and a heat index of 117.
                It seems any makeup would melt off post haste.
                Good day to veg on the couch.

              2. newcatty

                That is funny. I don’t have perfect skin and don’t have to look like I don’t wear makeup,’cause I’m not. Even when I rarely do, it’s so subtle I still don’t have upscale perfect looking skin. My hair is naturally wavy, but also naturally silver. Geez, now I know I at least have upscale beach hair! Cool.

                1. ArcadiaMommy

                  Right. It’s a crazy way to act and surprisingly expensive. Hats and sunscreen for me. Luckily no gray yet. :)

          2. newcatty

            Ha! Maybe in the last thirty years it was so common for many of my family, friends and acquaintances to try enlightened ways of entrepreneurship via multi-level marketing scams like Mary Kay, Amway, Shaklee, Avon and more. The worse, and often pitiful thing,was how they were manipulated by their handlers. One really distasteful example in close family: a woman who had not been friendly and blatantly passive aggressive for years suddenly invited me to her home for a fun girl’s night party! I was wary, but went ’cause family tie,blah, blah. Turned out she had just joined the Mary Kay blob. I got a make over from the now expert beauty and cosmetics consultant, who for the years I had known her had never worn any thing other than jeans,t-shirts and flannel (nothing wrong with that). She had beautiful long hair, always had admired it. And now it was cut , styled, colored and so ruined,imho, her previous cool look. When I nicely refused to become one of her minions, the verbal knives came back out. Especially,after she so nicely forced herself to play to my ego, by complementing me on the personality traits she had always sarced me for in the past. My “annoying chattiness” was now perfect for selling! So on. I coined a new word after that pitiful family drama. I was”MaryKayed” . My friends and loving family members laughed.

        2. Procopius

          Also a lot of people losing their shirts and their homes when they can’t sell the overpriced junk they’re pressured to buy. If you have the personality to be a used-car salesman you might make a living as an Amway salesperson, and if you have the personality of a sadistic dominatrix you can probably be a low-level manager (I don’t know what titles they use) but I would be totally unable to move that junk.

  7. Montanamaven

    “Shame” looks to me like the word of the week. I’ve heard from liberal/Democrat friends that they are “ashamed” of this President. They are embarrassed by his behavior at NATO and Helsinki. I asked, “Who are you embarassed in front of? What does that mean?” Then I got a link to a Thomas Friedman article. Now I haven’t read anything by the Mustache of Understanding since I had a radio show in 2004-2009 and I regularly made fun of his over the top metaphors, his musings about info gleaned from waiters and taxi drivers, and, of course, his Friedman Units (every 6 months there was a light at the end of the Iraq tunnel).
    I have to admit I was naive in thinking he had lost his audience since even Stephen Colbert made fun of him back in the antediluvian pre-Trump Derangement Syndrome era. So, because it was a good friend, I read the whole piece. It followed the usual Friedman pattern of starting by throwing out a lot of red meat. And I mean red. He bemoaned the fact that Trump was not like the bad puppy who pooped on the carpet and felt shame when you hollared at him. No, Trump has no shame and is a really bad bad dog. No Shame President (-I don’t have a subscription to the NY Times anymore. I don’t think this link has the whole article. So you may want to read the actual Times piece. “A President with no shame, a Party with no Guts…)
    Okay, having ratcheted up the outrage for this week with the meme of the week i.e. shame, shame shame, he gets to the heart of his message which is pretty much always the same. Globalism good, nationalism bad and I’m really really concerned about climate change. All international treaties are really really good and so we must pass the TPP immediately. And the only way to do that is elect Democrats and drive smaller cars.
    I’m not sure how to answer my friends with grace. I don’t want to be condescending by saying “Really, you read Tom Friedman without a red pen in your hand?” What should I say? “I had no idea you were a globalist although you are kind of anti labor, right?” Any suggestions for talking to Dems about this last week?
    My usual answer is “I don’t know why we need NATO now that the Cold War is over. Bush I promised Gorbachev not to expand NATO into the former Warsaw Pact countries. Putin wanted to join NATO. Russia, especially the populous West is more European than Asian. So why don’t we have Russia join NATO. Wouldn’t that solve the problem?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      “So why don’t we have Russia join NATO. Wouldn’t that solve the problem?”

      What is the problem? A hegemonic empire incapable of playing well with others. At this point, the U.S. is seen as “agreement incapable.” When the Democrats swore Shrub was an aberration, people kind of accepted it, but the efforts of Obama on the world stage demonstrated the U.S. is a unhinged power which only considers immediate short term pleasure.

      The Germans don’t want a new major player in NATO and becoming closer to the EU by extension especially one that inevitably will be able to replicate everything Germany does.

      The point of NATO is a captive market for defense contractors. I doubt Russia is going to sign an F-35 contract. Then of course, state owned operations such as Gasprom pose a threat to corporate fossil fuel companies.

      There is a simple IR theory which goes foreign powers tend to get blamed whenever things aren’t going well on the domestic front and the powers that be are worried the rug will fall out from underneath them. So they naturally blame a foreign power. Obama became a foreign policy President when it was apparent passing domestic policy would require effort on his behalf and the House was lost. Trump and the rise of AOC style candidates represent a significant threat to Clinton Bush crime family members in DC. Trump has picked Republicans, but they often come out of non-political arenas. Who gets the rewards now? There isn’t a set opposition ready to drive the old out, so an element is still holding on. The threat is what would happen if a candidate comes into the White House with Congressional majorities and actually care about governing or reviewing federal contracting.

      This was during World War II. You know the “Greatest Generation.” The “War on Terror” has lasted three times as long now.

      Russia is a sideshow. The loss of domestic power and the relative ages of the Washington elite are what OMG Russia is about. It was noted in the comments the other day, but three of the top 10 Democratic House member money raisers lost primaries.

      This is what the crooks will brag about.

      1. Summer

        It’s always funny to see news about Trump rants on countries contributing more to NATO, hardly Putins favorite organization, followed by hysterics that Trump is a Putin lover.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Re Keith Alexander’s Star Trek-style ‘Information Dominance Center’. I see that he went for the bells and whistles without taking in the lessons offered in that series. The word ‘Dominance’ is doing a lot of heavy lifting but I will give a bit of Star Trek lore here. In that series starting from the 1960s series, it was discovered that there was a mirror universe that had the people in it the opposite of what was in our universe. Thus, instead of a United Federation of Planets you had a Terran Empire. Promotion was by assassination and it was a brutal, militaristic empire and without realizing it, I think that that is what Keith Alexander is actually working towards here. If you want to get a flavour of the differences here, below is the intro for the series Star Trek Enterprise-

        Now for an episode that was set in the mirror universe, they change the intro to suit it-

        In passing, I found a Star Trek reference to what Trump is up against when an article mentioned a ‘Deep State Nine Resistance Station’

    2. Amfortas the Hippie

      on talking to democrats.
      lol. you and me both.
      haldol as a prophylactic, perhaps.
      the Berners are a lot easier…but the “mainstream” dem people have been difficult to talk to for some time…too many triggers and blind spots. They’ve become as reactionary as the tea party.
      Thanks to Lambert, et alia in the last week or so, I’ve rediscovered Current Affairs. I had forgotten how much I liked them..this is the latest offering that i’ve been using as a dead skunk to throw on the kitchen tables in dem spaces:

      and a link within That is also timely:

      the aversion to figuring out what we’re FOR must be overcome.

    3. ambrit

      “Any suggestions for talking to Dems about this past week?”
      Yes. Ask them how good of a ‘bug out bag’ they keep handy. Then tell them that they will not be welcome at your farm when things go t—s up.
      If they don’t get the message, explain to them the difference between a .223 round and a .22-250 round. “One of these I use on varmints,” should get the point across.

      1. flora

        Brings to mind an old (30 years ago?) Civil Defense in-the-event-of-nuclear-attack whitepapers. It put forward the plan: in-the-event-of the nearby city would evacuate out to the nearby smaller towns, whose inhabitants were themselves expected to give up their homes to the city folks and evacuate out to even smaller towns, etc.. until the final evacuation was for tiny towns to evacuate to farms. (oh yeah… that’s gonna work…) The CD whitepaper became the butt of jokes, many that ended with an unspoken “and I’ve got a gun.”

        1. ambrit

          I wonder if that subconscious memory is the root of all these ‘zombis’ programs lately?
          “The Duck and Cover Dead.”

      2. Montanamaven

        I like that idea. I also do not count riding on a lawn mower to equal the ability to drive “a John Deere” .

        1. Montanamaven

          OOPS! So sorry. I just read an article in the WSJ about lawn mowing. “Plucking Blades by Hand, Vacuuming the Grass: This is Extreme Lawn Care.” By James R. Hagerty. If you gave these guys a rifle, watch out! Takes “Get off my lawn” to a whole new level. Obsessive lawn mowers

          1. ambrit

            Ouch!!! We live in a decaying inner ring suburb of a mid small sized city where a lot of the neighbours do exactly that. I’ve long been a proponent of making leaf blowing yard debris out into the street a misdemeanor.

            1. AbateMagicThinking - but Not Money

              Ambrit , blowing and leaf-blower politics:

              For me the leaf-blowers have a similarities to a political ethos. The leaf-blowers have no thought for the possible long-term consequences of the implementation of their policies – whereas the political leaf-gatherers have at least some awareness to the possibility of blow-back.

              Do the powerful blow or suck?


          2. newcatty

            To show how tragically the state of world feudalism has come to: when “obsessive lawn mowers” are are the subject of articles in our noose the phrase ” mowing the grass” came to mind regarding one of “our” country’s most special friend and ally. Obsessiveness is one way to describe their horrific policies. Get off that lawn. And, let’s not provide the lawn mowers anymore.

        2. ambrit

          I once heard Phyls’ Dad ask a salesman, who was extolling the charms of a ‘Lawn Tractor’ to us, “How big of a stump will it pull up?” John had an old Massey Ferguson tractor for most of the time I knew him. It was real “fun” to bush hog Johns’ twenty or so acres of pasture when he was running his cows. We were part of a ‘Round Robin’ group that passed a hay bailer around during the curing season. The machine actually belonged to a Benedictine Monastery outside of Covington, Louisiana. The Monastery at one time had a respectable herd of cows. (What else would you expect to find in a Monastery but ‘respectable’ cows? Trinitarian Hindus perhaps?)

    4. Hamford

      Montanahaven, great post, and I don’t know the answer on how to talk to Dems or the general gammit of duopoly supporters, but I have been working on refining a technique I heard Tim Black talking about: “drop a few lines, and walk away”. I am working on inserting a few judgment free comments without argument, however it requires patience in listening to the ramble of the other side.

      A few examples in my recent life:

      Hillary Dem: “But Mueller found Russia was hacking. Blah Blah, Blah, 17 intelligence agencies”

      Me: Did you know in 2003 Mueller helped lead us into Iraq and testified before Congress pushing WMD intel. [I did not follow with anything about along the lines of “Is this guy trustworthy.”]

      Trump Repub: “People are killing each other in the streets, blah blah freeloaders, murder rate going up, blah blah, this country is not the same, what happened to our country”

      Me: “People are desperate, Americans are addicted to opiates and will get it however they can, but someone peddling marajuana will get 10 years in prison, but the Sackler family who wantonly pushed opiates on all of America are worth billions” [I could have argued that American crime rate has gone down since the 80’s, but I just wanted to divert their attention to a part of the current problem, not to start an argument]

      A few weeks later these folks repeated these talking points as their own, which is a win in my book. I have been trying to drop stuff as subtly as possible and hope they find their own way. People get more entrenched on their viewpoint while arguing, and more words often means less average impact per word. My sample size is admittedly low right now, so I will continue observation.

    5. ChrisPacific

      Slight aside, but I am ashamed to admit that I was down on Thomas Frank (who I hadn’t read) for a while because I confused him with Thomas Friedman (who I had). Then I read Frank’s piece where he describes the Clinton Foundation as a market maker in virtue, realized my mistake, and had to go around offering corrections to anyone I’d bad-mouthed him to.

  8. fresno dan

    twitter summary of the FISA warrant.
    One other point, but Zero Hedge and Brietbart are saying that Page was an “informant” or “source” with regard to the prosecution of a Russian unregistered agent. As always, take with a ton of salt, but they are NOT always wrong.
    Of course, maybe Page is a double agent…
    OH, actually its old news
    “The agent said he and another agent had interviewed Page in June 2013 and Page told them he exchanged emails with Podobnyy and sometimes met in person. Page told the agents that he provided Podobnyy with his outlook on the “current and future of the energy industry” and “provided documents … about the energy business.”
    Wow…how intelligent is the FBI if it thinks Carter Page has anything to offer that is ….intelligent?
    Really, I would be curious to see if Page’s predictions offer any correct insight about anything AT ALL. Maybe the guy is a master mind….

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Page told the agents that he provided Podobnyy with his outlook on the “current and future of the energy industry” and “provided documents … about the energy business.”

      Was Page reporting to the agents that he had giving unintelligent and false information to the Russian, by design (or as ordered previously)? From the quoted passage, it is not clear. if the FBI was not the intelligent one here.

      1. Bill Smith

        One of the FBI confidential informants (Page?) gave the Russians a notebook that contained information on the energy industry. The notebook itself had been provided by the FBI. The notebook contained some kind of bug that allowed the FBI to listen to the Russians talked about when the took the notebook back to their ‘office’. Allegedly even when they where in some kind of room that wasn’t supposed to leak any radio signals.

  9. Lorenzo

    Ecuador Will Imminently Withdraw Asylum for Julian Assange and Hand Him Over to the UK. What Comes Next?

    I found a discord channel (the social network), organizing to fight this within whatever means each person has. Seems pretty serious, fairly well organized and thus potentially effective. I’ll just drop the invite link for anyone willing to participate

    1. flora

      The .gg domain is registered in the Channel Islands, specifically the crown dependency of Guernsey. From Wikipedia:
      For example, the VoIP application Discord, commonly used with multiplayer games, uses the domain as a redirect to their main website,, as well as for Discord server invite links.

      This link may be aimed at gamers, probably a good audience, but I don’t know anything about it. (This is a “look both ways before crossing the street” comments.)

      1. Andrew Watts

        Good catch. If anybody learned anything from the Snowden revelations it’s that all the wires running in and out of British jurisdictions are hot… like radioactive hot.

        In computer terminology, a honeypot is a computer security mechanism set to detect, deflect, or, in some manner, counteract attempts at unauthorized use of information systems. Generally, a honeypot consists of data (for example, in a network site) that appears to be a legitimate part of the site, but is actually isolated and monitored, and that seems to contain information or a resource of value to attackers, who are then blocked. This is similar to police sting operations, colloquially known as “baiting,” a suspect. -Wikipedia

        It should go without saying that not every honeypot climaxes with a happy ending.

  10. Carolinian

    Re WaPo on pundit love for gay metaphors–perhaps these writers and NYT editors need to work out their masculinity issues with their psychiatrists rather than inflicting them on the public. As for fellow SC native Colbert, since he doesn’t exactly project that Johnny Carson image (plus he likes B’way musicals!) he clearly feels he has something to prove with all the shock jock Trump jokes. You can make too much of this since being explicit and raw is the current comedy fashion (see Samantha Bee), but if comics want to put Trump on the couch then live by the sword…..

  11. Olga

    Teslas in the palace signal brewing battle in Beijing Asia Nikkei Review. Like Kremlinology!
    Interesting, but also consider the source …

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We should keep in mind that Xi (or if all capitalized, XI) implies the number eleven, as in 11 dimensional.

      And perhaps palace intrigue is a feature, not a bug, even without having to have re-election every 4 years.

    2. John k

      I said earlier that Shanghai agreement unlikely without Xi blessing, this seems confirmation… Tesla looks to be used as example of China flexibility, and e cars is where China previously stated it would lead the world.
      It follows there will be no difficulty arranging financing, though likely locals will then receive equity.
      Maybe a separation with us Corp to avoid us dilution.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Hillary Clinton hints that Putin played Trump during the Helsinki summit and questions why the president has not ‘spoken up for our country’ ”

    Something tells me that when she is talking about ‘our country’, she is not talking about the entirety of the one that has 335 million people in it.

    And is that an arctic fox on the antidote du jour? It looks cold.

    1. flora

      I think the Dem party has become a cult of personality (Clinton), complete with purges (of voting roles) and unquestioning adoration of “the leader.”

      The leadership of the Dem party stopped leading on important issues a long time ago, imo. It’s all personality all the time now.

      Quoting Sy Hersh:

      And so, but hard to get. And particularly hard to get because, I hate to say this about the Democratic Party, but they’re sort of lost. And really lost right now. They don’t have any leadership, they sit around and second-guess Trump and they play tweet wars with Trump, who’s a master of the tweet. And I think they’re, we’re in great jeopardy of having no one to help us get through the next election without reelecting this man. It’s terrifying to me to see the party so completely devoid of integrity and leadership. And the press doesn’t help.

      1. newcatty

        Flora, think you are right about the cult of personality (Clinton and sycophants). Perhaps this is not the only scary thing about the Democratic Party. As Hersh tells us:

        …The party so completely devoid of integrity and leadership.

        If one goes by the fact that Democratic Party and Republican party are two sides of the same coin then this could be a feature. AOC is a crack in the castle wall. Bernie was too though thwarted. Now they have joined forces. The dems in the castle will try to use their power to stop the peasants from rallying for the light to crack the wall and use grass root boats to cross the moat.

      2. Olga

        I listen to him anytime I get a chance. Just imagine what he knows and is not telling! I hope he’ll publish something posthumously (although, even then probably, he’d want to protect his sources).

    2. Jean

      Well, at least Trump didn’t hand over most of our uranium to the Russians like Clinton did.

      Hillary is in need of some work. Outdoor lighting is cruel after you reach a certain age.

  13. Lorenzo

    Here’s the real reason the US must talk to Russia Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

    just wow… definitely considering grabbing the book. Can anyone in this precious commentariat attest as to what a degree of exaggeration we’re being submitted to? I’m willing to find out it is negligible, but I remain skeptical…

    1. Tinky

      While I am in no sense a military expert, I have the impression that the author is extremely well qualified to make such assessments. Furthermore, having followed him for a while now (he has a blog, has contributed to Pat Lang’s site, etc.), I see no evidence that he is inclined to, or has incentive to exaggerate.

    2. Olga

      If you’re asking whether Pepe E. is exaggerating, the answer seems to be NO. At the time I recall admissions from US military commenters that the speech (and weapons) was a game-changer and some Congress members right away asked for discussions with Russians. This all died down in the russophobia onslaught

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t know how to assess it. We’ve got videos. As we know from Elon Musk, videos are easy to make. OTOH, the Russians do have a history of making solid military hardware without gold-plating it. A demo would help. In some ways, Syria was that demo; Russian aircraft can clearly play with the big boys, for example.

    4. fresno dan

      July 22, 2018 at 9:37 am

      The United States’ industrial-military-intel-security complex profits from a compounded annual budget of roughly US$1 trillion. The only justification for such whopping expenditure is to manufacture a lethal external threat: Russia. That’s the key reason the complex will not allow US President Donald Trump even to try to normalize relations with Russia.
      The above is true. That is the important thing.
      It doesn’t matter if every other word he has written is incorrect.

      1. Edward E

        It is true and for all the trillions spent MIC now say they need more and more and m…
        Remember way back on this day in 1969 when NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong & Buzz Aldrin were returning from the moon? Today NASA relies on Russia for getting humans into space and their prized Russian engines for satellite deployments

  14. Bruce F

    “Are the Kardashians and Social Media Really Toxic? This Movie May Have the Answer”. I think you’ve linked to the wrong movie. Is it this one?

    1. ambrit

      We’ve come a long way since “Brother From Another Planet.” Have we?
      I’ll go and see this film, if it ever deigns to come this far South.

      1. Olga

        How could he not be…? He got his start with the Soviet dissidents back in the 1970s… VVP probably has kompromat on him (btw, I pinched the link from Pepe E’s (Asia Times) today’s link.

    1. HotFlash

      Got a chill watching that. The more I see of the strength, virulence, persistence and ubiquity of pushback to any suggestion of treating Russia and/or Putin as normal, from any quarter, the more I am convinced that we dodged a bullet with The Donald. I think HIllary would have had us at war with Russia by now.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        The giant middle finger to same old, same old does seem to be somewhat working.
        He has vanquished the bushes, the clintons, the msm and is working on the ic.
        Not bad.
        He is still a buffoon, but you got to work with what you have, not what you wish you had.

  15. Summer

    Re: Colleges/Income contracts

    They sprinkled in the commercial ready good examples.
    But, more than anything, I could see it as a way the colleges, more privatized business than ever, populates their workforce in the future. Maybe even to the point where the person who owes the most money may be favored for a position.

    1. Ted

      Ah, higher ed, always working the indenture angle. My wife and I went to see Sorry to Bother You yesterday. Imagine a lefty, pro-labor movie in THIS country. Anyway, while it’s satire was at times over the top, Boots Riley clearly sees the direction the economy is taking labor. And colleges are now piling on. Loans & indenture contracts. How nice.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Just giving new meaning and currrncy to the phrase “old school ties…”.

      One wonders if mandatory “giving” by alumni wil be the next thing.

    3. Left in Wisconsin

      This is absolutely coming and I predict it will be normalized in the next 10-20 years. Economists are taking over the running of universities, and having students pay for their “increased human capital” out of future earnings is a no-brainer for them. No one involved in university administration has any interest or capacity to change the cost trajectory of university education, yet all will continue to bleat that a university education is essential to individual/human “success.”

      I further predict it will be portrayed as “progressive,” because those who make less going forward will pay back less. And somehow it will be ignored that the entire system means the vast majority of us are making less and paying back more.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “White House rejects Putin plan for Ukraine referendum”

    This may be an upcoming flash point as the Syrian war starts to wind down. There was a suggestion to have United Nations troops in this region but that fell apart. The Russians wanted the UN troops on the border between the Ukraine and the Donbas to separate the two forces and make the Ukrainians pull back their heavy forces. The US however wanted the UN troops to occupy the whole of the Donbass region right up to the Russian border. As Russia recognized that these UN troops would be likely from countries that either belong to NATO countries or countries friendly to NATO so it would be a way of handing the Donbass back to the Ukraine. Not gunna happen.
    The Russians suggested a referendum as they know that the people living there, who have been constantly fired at and having shells lobbed at them, would vote for an independence. NATO has already come out and stated that they are pushing for the total integrity of the Ukraine which means that the Donbass surrenders and then NATO comes after Crimea. As the Ukrainian forces literally has national socialist formations this is so not going to happen. There is another problem here. The Ukrainians hate the Ukrainian-Russians already but there are also two other regions in the Ukraine that may suffer a similar fate. One region has Ukrainian-Hungarians while the other has Ukrainian-Poles and both regions have had problems with the forces controlling the Ukraine. I believe that Hungary has already done a mass hand-out of Hungarians passports to these people there.
    Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has already said that he will block any move for the Ukraine to join NATO with probably these people in mind and there is little love between the Poles and the Ukrainians here as well. So, no referendums. Until the Ukraine conquers the Donbass they cannot officially join NATO although they are already a NATO country in all but name. NATO constantly train and equip Ukrainian forces for this task but if push came to shove, expect a barrage of missiles and weaponry from the Russian border if the Donbass forces are too badly pressed.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      means that the Donbass surrenders and then NATO comes after Crimea

      Did we give Guantanamo back like Castro asked? –Just little things that bug me.

  17. JTMcPhee

    A new game for us: what will be the last puff of idiocy to inflate the bubble, the one that’s going to come along inevitably and cause the retaining thin skin of credulity to exceed its elastic limits and burst?

    First entry in the sweeps: The ‘monster’ mortgage is back – is it a risk?
    A leading bank has begun offering first-time buyers loans of 5.5 times their income – and they only need a tiny deposit

    Butterfly wings are beating, beating…

    (Apologies for this sad attempt to track the style of our Comrade Haygood…)

  18. JTMcPhee

    And for those among us who are sort of rooting for the demise of “Social Security, Medicare and other such entitlement programs as we know them,” here is a nice “Essay” from the notably liverish Stanford Law Review entitled “Post-mortem Austerity and Entitlement Reform,”

    After all, who laments the demise of the Welfare State? Only those Welfare Queens and Willie Horton…

    Which will maybe even provide a few New! Improved! disingenuous talking points for such folks. Ecce Homo Economicus!

  19. Wukchumni

    The way forward in which we’re proceeding is fraught with perils of politics writ large. Somewhat French Revolutionary lite, but events move at the speed of write

    Where do we fit in?

    Why, we’re digital pamphleteers sans a printing press, some sans culottes-merely in their bathrobes, others more brazen in their lack of attire.

    Pamphlets were used to broadcast the writer’s opinions: to articulate a political ideology, for example, or to encourage people to vote for a particular politician. During times of political unrest, such as the French Revolution, pamphleteers were highly active in attempting to shape public opinion. Before the advent of telecommunications, those with access to a printing press and a supply of paper often used pamphlets to widely disseminate their ideas.

    1. fresno dan

      July 22, 2018 at 11:26 am

      and some, why their very attire receives broadcasts…..sometimes the status quo, domestic signals that permeate the airwaves with their purveyors of erection pills , and sometimes more clandestine, nefarious, and radical electromagnetic waves….
      tugs on….rabbit eared antennaed fuzzy bunny slippers, so as to pick up Kremlin signals more clearly…

      1. newcatty

        I am sporting my aluminum beret. Pass the croissants and the French Orange marmalade. I am careful to don my beret when visiting ,let us say, certain clandestine digital sources of modern communications or proselytizing.

  20. flora

    re: Bernie Sanders and AOC in Kansas – Intercept

    If Davids [Emily’s list funded] is more moderate than Welder, Tom Niermann, a teacher at a prestigious private school in the area, is the unabashed centrist in the race, and he recently picked up the endorsement of a prominent Republican in the state. The contest between Davids and Welder could create an opening for Niermann to slip through the primary. (my emphasis)

    This is standard DCCC strategy: use 3rd party entities to siphon off votes or split the votes for the more progressive challengers to the DCCC’s preferred candidates. imo. See: Emily’s list in KS, WFP in NY, etc. It’s been an effective strategy in the past. However, voters’ discontent with the corporate Dem estab keeps growing.

    1. ambrit

      I’m keeping my eye on how the Democrat Party elite handle AOC in the general. If someone like Lieberman comes down and stumps for Crowley, we’ll know that the fix is in. If Crowley does run in the general, I’d suggest that AOC ask for UN observers to monitor that district during the November vote. At the least, Jimmy Carter should get involved. Make this a big time national spotlight affair. Why? Because the Democrat Party elites are already playing dirty.

    2. curlydan

      KS-03 will be a weird race. With Davids, Welder, Sidie (who I’ve seen the most yard signs for), Sylvia Williams (not sure why Emily’s list chose her over Davids), and now Niermann (I think the Intercept overplays his support), I don’t think anyone is going to get a majority. I could see 30% winning this one. I just need to convince my apolitical wife to go vote for Welder :)

    1. flora

      The NYT wants me to believe that if I don’t support the corporatist Dems and their neoliberal economic agenda then I’m somehow unamerican? well, alrighty then…

      1. newcatty

        Sounds like Madeline selling women there’s a special place in hell if did not vote for HRC. OK then…oops, I don’t believe in “hell”. If there turns it to be some dimension in the cosmos that has a “hell” than Madeline will have a special place for bragging about the worthiness of children being killed in evil wars.

  21. George Lane

    “Nicaragua protesters defy Ortega crackdown”

    Max Blumenthal and Dan Kovalik have been providing another perspective:

    And a blog, Tortilla con Sal, similarly with a different view than that of Western corporate media:

  22. dcblogger

    The most amazing thing about the In These Times interview is that it happened at all. When was the last time a presidential contender gave an interview to In These Times? It is a way for Bernie to support alternative media. I suggest NC ask Bernie, or at least Jane Sanders or Jeff Weaver if they would be willing to give Yves or lambert an interview.

    1. Stephen V.

      With all due respect to our hardworking hosts, I’d like to see the Bern interviewed by Jared Beck.

  23. djrichard

    Democrats in Disarray … more fodder

    NBC News: Sanders’ wing of the party terrifies moderate Dems. Here’s how they plan to stop it.

    The Third-Way Strikes Back!

    Anyways, just want to draw particular attention to how they want to use “Abolish ICE” as a boat anchor for the true left. Now my understanding of the provenance might be off, but I thought “Abolish ICE” came out of the resistance (TM), basically ICE policies are bad because Trump. [Note, not trying to defend ICE here]. Yes AOC actively adopted “Abolish ICE”, but Bernie got brow-beaten into embracing it by the dems/resistance.

    Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., the chair of the New Democrat Coalition, said his side is not “naturally arbiters of emotion and anger.”

    “How we tell our story and put forward our polices in a way that makes people want to mount the barricades is one of the biggest challenges we have,” said Himes, a former Goldman Sachs banker who represents Fairfield, Connecticut.

    He pointed to calls to “Abolish ICE,” for instance, which he characterized as emotionally understandable but politically illogical.

    “It hurts us in areas where we need to win,” Himes warned of “Abolish ICE” in the midterms. “You have now made life harder for the 60 or 70 Democrats fighting in districts where we need to win if we ever want to be in the majority.”

    While they may not be aribiters of emotion and anger, they certainly set those emotions into play, didn’t they. Anyways, looks like they don’t like the chickens coming home to roost. Wonder if they’ll similarly distance themselves from Russiagate when the time comes necessary. And use the true-left as the sink-hole for that too, all the while walking gingerly away.

    1. JerryDenim

      It’s not often that I agree with an ex-Goldman, Neoliberal Democrat, but “Abolish- Ice” as a campaign slogan is a political poison pill that has nothing to do with the ‘true left’ if you consider the the true left to be the interests of the working class and not urban, credentialed, bourqeouis liberals. “Abolish Ice” polls about as well as “Sanctuary Cities” nation wide and is guaranteed to repel the working class voters that voted for Trump over Clinton due to bread and butter concerns over trade, immigration, labor competition, and manufacturing.

      DSA and those who want to push the Democrats to be a party of the progressive left need to figure out if they want to push neoliberal open immigration and labor arbitrage policies that help redistribute wealth upwards, or do they want to help the working class cling to a tiny little bit of bargaining power. You can’t do both.

      I’m not a huge fan of ICE, but “Abolish ICE” sounds a lot like ‘Open Borders’ to me, so I can only imagine how it sounds to those opposed to mass immigration who are already competing with black market labor.

  24. Summer

    Re: Kardashians/Social Media

    I don’t know much about their shows or clothes. The young women with money who are looking at the clothes and accessories are probably boosting sales. But isn’t alot of the following on social media due to their romantic relationships? Not talking about sex tapes, but from what I’ve overheard in gossip, their boyfriends/husbands seem key to their social media followings.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I has thought this was from the Book of Common Prayer:

          Do you reject the glamour of evil, and refuse to be mastered by sin?

          I do.

          But it seems to be Catholic.

          1. ambrit

            Whenever Phyl drags me off to Mass, I hear, “Do you reject Hillary and all her works?” The congregation rises as one and screams; “H— Yeah!” Then the lector, dry wit at the ready, remarks; “That’s good, for all your worldly goods belong to the Lord, and we are his officially sanctioned representatives on Earth.” At this point, I drag a bewildered Phyl out of the transept and through the fane. “Dear,” she mutters, “I don’t remember that part of the Mass.” “Not to worry my sweet” I try to reassure her. “We must have wandered into a meeting of the ‘Society of Mammon.'” “That group has branches everywhere!” she cries. “True” I reply. “This lot are ecumenical, indeed, the essence of ecumenicism. Dare I say it. Esotericism writ large.”

  25. Andrew Watts

    RE: What to Make of the Carter Page FISA Applications

    The government considers FISA applications to be very sensitive—and their disclosure, even heavily redacted, may have long-term, programmatic consequences long after we’re finished with President Trump. The government seems to have accepted that FOIA applies to FISA.

    We should thank Edward Snowden for this development as it came about mostly through his efforts.

  26. JEHR

    Re: Multimillion-dollar award against PwC is window into typically secret auditor settlements:
    The big four accounting firms (PwC, KPMG, DeLoitte, Ernst & young) are the four most corrupt companies extant in the world. They should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law (if any law still exists) and the CEOs and CFOs should be tried and imprisoned for fraud and corruption and the companies disbanded never to be seen again.

    See The Tax Justice Network Podcast on auditing.

  27. Andrew Watts

    RE: Is a Democratic ‘Blue Wave’ Really Coming?

    What the author accidentally acknowledged is the fact that the loss of trust in our institutions was brought about by the repeated debacles caused by policymakers in Washington. The political class has repeatedly produced disenchantment in their handling of domestic affairs and foreign policy. If their neurotic tendency to blame Putin/Russia for everything is any indication they don’t seem inclined to change.

    I already covered his conclusion at the end and delivered an emphatic response a few years ago.

    Andrew Watts
    June 3, 2014 at 11:22 am

    The final stages of decline feature the alienation of the internal proletariat to the values, goals, and institutions of the power elite. When this occurs the stage is set for the fatal collapse of imperial power as it was in the last days of the British empire.

    …and that’s regardless of the possibility that Democratic Socialists sell out and adopt a conventional attitude towards American hegemony.

    1. JBird

      In the past, the people running things were often slimy, but they were usually competent slime. Now the political class is slimy and incompetent; their job is to run the government(s) and by extension the whole country, but they do not want to do the actual work of running things, even though that is their job.

      Congress in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s was supported by a well funded network of supporting agencies and staff that enabled the legislatures to do a good job. There was a slow standard pace of law making that gave everyone a chance review, amend, and decide on the legislation which included staff to run the legislatures’ offices, including responding to their constituents, reading the various bills, and separate offices like the now defunct Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) created to help Congress. All of that support has been stripped from Congress and much of the bureaucracy of the various agencies like Social Security, Medicare, FDA, et al., aside from the those of the Industrial Military-Intelligence-Security Complex, that being Homeland Security and the military.

      So excepting the Security State, aside from the increasingly skeletonized bureaucracy with its professionals, we have no one really running the damn country. Add in regulatory capture and you have a fine disaster. You can also apply this to the state and municipal governments to some degree.

      Getting back to trusting the government, people are starting to realize we really do not have a functioning government, and we need a functioning government, but TPTB can isolate themselves from the dysfunction that they help to create, while the little ones (that’s us) argue over why the government is such a mess. That is a part of the program of much of the wealthy elite.

      1. JBird

        Perhaps it is like The Lesson of the Château de Calberte only this time we are doing it deliberately to ourselves.

      2. Shane Mage

        What then do so many of us imagine that a “job guarantee” will be administered by these people in any way other than corrupt and incompetent?

        1. JBird

          It is a problem isn’t? In the 1930s to roughly the late 1970s, maybe even the mid 1980s, the government would have been capable of doing a jobs guarantee.

          Now, we have to de-corrupt the government and refund and rebuild the parts that have been skeletonized before we can been fairly sure of having a good program. It has been done before in American history, so it is not impossible, but it is extra work. Also, the two times I am aware of, things got worse than it is now before the process started so hang on because it is going to get much more…turbulent.

          1. Shane Mage

            One thing, maybe the only one, that the government does honestly and competently is to mail or direct deposit hundreds of millions of social security checks totaling hundreds of billions of dollars every year. The demands of sending a check to everyone for a Universal Basic Income would scarcely be greater, and the law establishing it could be written on a single sheet of paper.

        2. Yves Smith

          The fallacy of your argument is that a government that would vote in a jobs guarantee would not resemble the current government much.

          You have grants go to local governments with strong penalties for self dealing and heavy duty internal audit. And a lot could be done by beefing up qualified charities.

          1. JBird

            Those are good points which I did not see as those are practical ways to get around the problems I mentioned.

            We still might see problems similar to some state governments actively refusing to implement Obamacare, or putting some BS rules to make destroy Medicaid or food stamps for political reasons. There are some who want to make government at any level not work.

          2. nihil obstet

            I think you’re overestimating the interest and expertise of local governments and nonprofits. They’re not dishonest, and most of them want to do a good job. But the officials don’t spend a lot of time learning even the major lineaments of grant programs, so it’s virtually all consultant driven and administered. Good things come of the program, but it’s nothing like anything I’ve seen described as the job guarantee program that advocates envision. My opinion is based on a few decades working in the Community Development Block Grant program.

    2. JBird

      …and that’s regardless of the possibility that Democratic Socialists sell out and adopt a conventional attitude towards American hegemony.

      Our empire is an actively supported artificial construct, created against the will, and traditions of much of American history, and its people. Its continued existence requires a lot of money, violence, and effort often with the general population paying the money, committing the violence, and doing the effort whether they wanted to or not. And that has been the reality for over 150 years. Its collapse might not be very noticed by the general population except as a great weight being dropped, or when used as propaganda to stir people up, especially as their was very active isolationist segment until the beginning of the Cold War. So once the Empire stops, even for a very short while, being able to get the necessary force needed, goodbye empire.

      There is a very, very strong river of American society that has been fighting for whatever version of democratic socialism that would have been relevant at the time. From the annexation of the Kingdom of Hawaii, the Spanish American War with its annexation of Puerto Rico and the Philippines and assort small islands, there were Americans, often large groups of Americans that protested and often even tried unsuccessfully to roll the annexations back.

      Some of the Indian clearances/ethnic cleansing, the expansion and continued existence of slavery, Jim Crow, the endless small, and not so small wars, of the past 150 years overseas, the vote, Women’s rights (even to vote, or control their money), and unionization were all contested. Only the qualified except of Manifest Destiny, as far as I can think of, did not receive much push-back, and even then, the ethnic cleansing and the endless treaty breaking with the Indians was often not supported and even resisted by Americans.

      If we start with the Indian Wars and slavery, these social conflicts in America have been ongoing for over four centuries. The various elites and their allies in government usually win of course, because of their money, lawmaking, and the control of the army. Get too near success, especially in Abolition, then giving Blacks their civil rights and equal treatment, and later unionization, and the armed mobs, the elites’ private armies, subverted corrupt police, and the actual army would start getting violent, often lethally so.

  28. fresno dan

    Is a Democratic ‘Blue Wave’ Really Coming? The National Interest. Worth a read as a sane take on the national security class’s concerns about 2018 and 2020. “I have been studying the impact of the ‘narrative collapse’ among U.S. voters about the role and efficacy of U.S. foreign policy.” #RussiaRussiaRussia might be viewed as a hysterical an intensely felt effort to regain control of the national security narrative. And a lot of rice bowls are at stake.

    From the article: If, among Trump voters, the interventions in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan are viewed negatively as failures because of a perceived lack of victory, the parallel critique from the leftist side of the aisle is that these interventions did not succeed in making these countries freer or better governed—while also diverting resources that could be used to improve the lives of ordinary Americans.
    Pointing out the obvious, it isn’t one or the other. And it certainly strikes me as perfectly reasonable for Americans to give up on the US foreign policy management and goals of BOTH parties, when by any and ALL pertinent criteria for judging the success of the endeavors, they have been failures.

    1. Stratos

      US foreign policy management has been a smashing success for the Military-Industrial-Corporate-Congressional complex. All other criteria and outcomes are irrelevant to that complex.

    1. ambrit

      How bloody delusional can these people be? Mitch Landrieu is the scion of a Progressive southern Democrat, Moon Landrieu. As such, he is a softer, less progressive politician. His daddy did the hard work, and being a non White Supremacy politician in the South in the Fifties and Sixties defines ‘hard work.’ Both Mitch and his sister, former Senator Mary Landrieu define ‘Moderate’ politics. This ‘Third Way’ tripe was past its’ ‘sell by’ date when it was first unveiled.
      The lesson here is that the Sanders-AOC progressive wing have two sets of opponents: the Republicans and the ‘Official’ Democrats. I’m wondering who will enter “Whig” territory first; the Establishment Republicans or the Third Way Democrats. In a perfect world, both would dissolve into a foul smelling vapour.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        Libraries have seen their public funding plummet for decades, just like every other institution that provides a service free to the public. However, since most people don’t even bother to find out what’s on their local community’s budget agenda, they’ve just continued to take the service for granted.

        1. Wukchumni

          Many of the libraries i’ve been in, when visiting bigger cities in SoCal, seem to be a holding tank for the homeless, as there are few air conditioned buildings that one can habitually go to when the mercury is pushing 100, free of charge.

  29. dcblogger

    serious question, anyone here, other than Yves, live in NY state? What is the view of the Cynthia Nixon campaign from the ground? Her win would be a yuge earthquake. It would put the fear of God into Gillibrand, Schumer, and the entire Democratic establishment.

    1. Chris

      From your lips to God’s ears.

      I can tell you from my family in the area, they’re aware she’s running. But they’re checked out of the political scene. Those in the city just went through rent control adjustments so they’re biggest concerns are behind them. Those on LI think nothing for them is going to change.

    2. Democrita

      Hi DC, short and sour: Cuomo is most likely impossible to dislodge. He’s loaded, he’s got both sides in his pocket (Republican and Democrat), and NY — home of Wall St — is Democrat state but specifically a mainstream Democrat state. Also, a lot of the leftists that might vote for Nixon in the primary have left the party.

      He could be humiliated, though.

  30. JBird

    That “our” locution liberal Democrats constantly use really gets to me, because it’s question-begging; it presume they get to speak for the country, which isn’t a given.

    That is not how they see it. They honestly believe the little people should let the Meritocracy speak for the country.

  31. PlutoniumKun

    The Lesson of the Château de Calberte NYT. Dammit, why can’t the Times just be bad all the time?

    A lovely article. It reminds me of a few weeks I spent in France near the Rhone, somehow dragooned into helping a local teacher into rebuilding a 17th Century mill and dovecote. There was no particular reason for him to do it except that it seemed the right thing to do and I’m still not sure how I got talked into spending my holidays hauling wheelbarrows full of rock.

    Parts of the building were quite crudely built, but other sections were amazing, in particular the mill race. The 400 year old weir at the top end of the race was so well built – of of perfectly fitted unmortered blocks of stone – that it was some time before I realised this was man made, and not a natural waterfall. And just up from this was a beautiful single arched bridge, which on close inspection turned out to be a 2,000 year old Roman structure. There is truly no ‘line of progress’, just stuttering iterations of movement, sometimes forward, occasionally backwards.

  32. Plenue

    >As the SpaceX steamroller surges, European rocket industry vows to resist Ars Technica

    What would happen to SpaceX if the giant tap of billions in US government subsidies were shut off? It’s very telling that Musk’s least BS endeavor is essentially a glorified contractor.

    1. Expat

      Pretty much the same thing would happen to SpaceX as would happen to the ESA and NASA if the giant tap of billions of government money were turned off.
      The real question is: can Musk do it better and cheaper than NSA or the ESA?

      1. Plenue

        Uh, do you not understand the difference between a government agency and a contractor? SpaceX and Musk have built up this reputation of being private sector wunderkinds who do what the public sector can’t. But the reality is that they don’t turn a profit, and are merely parasites of public money. We should cut out Musk entirely and just give the money to NASA. The scientists and engineers will go wherever the money is.

  33. JBird

    There is truly no ‘line of progress’, just stuttering iterations of movement, sometimes forward, occasionally backwards.

    With the backwards movements happening when too many take the hard work of creating the forward movements for granted that things start to fall apart. It is like that cliche of fish not being able to notice the water that they are in. People are those fish not noticing the structures that keep them swimming, so they start tearing them down for whatever reason.

    1. Massinissa

      Oh, now I understand what Elon Musk meant he said on Twitter that he was a ‘socialist’ but ‘not the kind that shifts resources from most productive to least productive’. He favors Socialism for the Rich and views the rich as ‘most productive’ so they deserve all the government goodies. It all makes sense now.

  34. Daryl

    > Where Do ‘Centrist’ Democrats Turn in 2020?

    Hopefully over in their political graves.

    1. ambrit

      Uh, ‘Centrist Democrats’ of what decade of which century?
      The perfect cartoon description of a ‘Centrist Politician’ would be of an oleaginous character with both hands out grabbing bribes from each side.

      1. Plenue

        I wish. That would mean left-wing things happened at least occasionally. Centrists at best are right-wing enablers, who get rolled over constantly, when they aren’t themselves just outright right-wing.

  35. Plenue

    >The Secret History of Leviticus NYT

    Interesting idea.

    There’s certainly plenty of evidence of editorial meddling throughout the Tanakh/Old Testament. My personal favorite (aside from the entirety of the Songs of Songs/Solomon, which is an entire book of (quite effective) erotic poetry. I find it downright hilarious that this thing made it into both the Jewish and Christian canons. I’ve seen some claim that it’s actually about God’s love for the Church, or similar. Really? Including the part about her breasts being like gazelle fawns? The idea of sweating medieval monks feverishly copying this down is amusing) is probably Psalms 82:1, an interesting unredacted artifact of Canaanite polytheism which describes God (Elohim; his earlier form before becoming the monotheistic all-powerful Yahweh) as being the judge among the assembly of the gods. Many translations, including the King James Version, simply render this as gods. When apologists deign to take notice of it at all, they’ll render it as ‘angels’, or a vague ‘heavenly beings’, or keep it as gods but dismiss it as poetic invention. Hermeneutics in very large part is an applied ‘science’ of creative excuse making.

    Anyway, assuming this gay friendly version did exist, interesting to ponder if it was part of the Book of the Law that was supposedly ‘discovered’ during the renovation of the Temple under King Josiah. Wonder what kind of politics went into changing it into prohibiting same-sex relations.

  36. Plenue

    >Nobel Symposium on Money and Banking Day 1 The Grumpy Economist.

    It’s like a gallery of stupid. Rogoff! Bernanke! DSGE models! Beware sovereign debt!

  37. Darthbobber

    Both the centrist articles seem to stem from journalists reporting on the third way hand-wringing conference in Columbus, OH this past week. The McClatchy one is even datelines Columbus.

  38. VietnamVet

    The withdrawal of over 400 White Helmets by Israel pretty much ends the Obama Administration’s regime change campaign against Syria. ISIS remnants in Iraq are resurrecting the insurgency there. This leaves the US troops left In Syria and Iraq in an untenable situation. The Kurd proxy force may well grab Russian inducements to rejoin the Syrian government. Unfortunately, rather than seeing reality and leaving; the pressure for war profits may keep US’s wars going on forever.

    The basic conundrum of neo-liberal globalism is that rising inequality plus climate change is forcing lower classes to revert back to old religion and myths. Ethnic groups living together become susceptible to outsiders fomenting revolt against the Others; i.e. Syria and Ukraine. This is the basic contradiction of the 21st century. By dismantling government and pushing arm sales; the resulting chaos makes hording wealth dangerous. Guards with no reason to support the new world order, sooner or later, will seize the gated communities, blow up the safes, and jump into the swimming pools to bathe and cool off.

    The only way to avert catastrophe is to stop the wars, provide healthcare, jobs, shelter, education, and secure the borders. Modern enlightenment rather than old time barbarism.

    1. Plenue

      800 White Helmets, and their families, is what I read. Extracted by Israel, at the request of the US and ‘Europe’, probably meaning the UK, to be transferred to Jordan. The notion that they were neutral Syrian do-gooders just trying to help seems pretty unsustainable at this point.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Vanessa Beeley has already weighed in and said that it is unlikely that any of the White helmets will end up in the US because of their terrorist connections. Tough luck for those countries that will be taking them in. I hope that mine is not one of them. Story at

        I also saw how three top rebel commanders crossed the border into Israel itself because the Israelis were so concerned about their welfare. I wonder where they will end up. Afghanistan? Iran’s borders perhaps? I’m sure that they will get a new assignment soon.

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