Links 7/28/18

Worms frozen in permafrost for up to 42,000 years come back to life Siberian Times

After Last Year’s Hurricanes, Caribbean Lizards Are Better at Holding on for Dear Life The Atlantic

‘We have caught (them) in the act’: Beavers are invading Alaska, the final frontier Vancouver Sun

Scorched earth: the world battles extreme weather FT

Spanish flu Reuters. “Banco de Sabadell’s problems are spreading.”

The silent bailout system that could rip the eurozone apart Financial News. On Target2. Readers?

Danger And Despair Inside Cambian Group, Britain’s Largest Private Child Care Home Provider Buzzfeed. Thanks, Maggie!

UK government to inject £12 million in Bombardier’s Belfast facility FlightGlobal

Americans have been saving more than was thought FT

Twitter shares experience worst single day percentage drop since 2014 after reporting declining monthly active users CNBC

New York acts to boot Spectrum cable out of the state (Bob). Bob: “Strange story. Why the Friday PM news dump? It should be a wildly popular move. Why do it on a Friday?”

Ford to slash Toronto city council to 25 councillors from 47, sources say The Star

North Korea

Analysis: Return of remains good, but easy move for N. Korea AP

U.S. House passes defense bill restricting drawdown of troops in S. Korea Yonhap News Agency

North Korea’s Power Structure Council on Foreign Relations


Trump seeks to revive ‘Arab NATO’ to confront Iran Reuters (KW).

Israel to declare Gaza protest killings ‘operational mishaps’ Middle East Monitor

Divide Over Israel Widens in Democratic Party Roll Call

Why We Know So Little About the U.S.-Backed War in Yemen Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone


China is laying the groundwork for a post-American world order WaPo

China has no idea how to play Trump, and is doing what it always does when it smells trouble South China Morning Post. Interesting on politics, less so on economics.

Laos dam collapse and stress on the Mekong The Interpreter

How Bad Karma and Bad Engineering Doomed an Ancient Cambodian Capital Atlas Obscura

High-ranking officials claim immunity over poisonous water The Economist

New Cold War

Taking a New Look at the Unverified Steele Dossier by Publius Tacitus Sic Semper Tyrannis (GF).

“Trump Bump” and “Trump Filter Bubble”: How the Media’s Obsession with Trump May Encourage the Russian Propaganda Machine The Russia File

The Case for Stripping Former Officials of their Security Clearances Consortium News

High Crimes and Misdemeanors – Not by Trump but Obama and Democrats Black Agenda Report

Step Right Up And Feast Your Eyes On The Unfathomable Comey, The Man Who Is Both Good And Bad! The Beautiful Monster Who Makes Resisters’ Minds Spin! Betrayer Of Hillary! Enemy Of Trump! Behold This Freak Of Nature! ResistanceHole

The Myth of Russia’s Arctic Rule Geopolitical Futures

Trump Transition

Trump policies affect Californians in all walks of life. Here’s how the state is fighting back Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times

Philadelphia to stop giving ICE access to arrest database, mayor says CBS

A 6-Year-Old Girl Was Sexually Abused in an Immigrant-Detention Center The Nation

Conservative Hard-Liner Rep. Jim Jordan To Run For House Speaker NPR. Seems like the Hastert Rule still applies…

Ro Khanna Has an Ambitious Plan to Put the Unemployed to Work. Just Don’t Call It a Job Guarantee. Slate

An obscure federal law may give corporations immunity from lawsuits over terrorism Los Angeles Times. But: “Was the shooting massacre of 58 people at a concert in Las Vegas last year an act of terrorism?”

Democrats in Disarray

If Deng Xiaoping could Capture China’s Communist Party, You Can Capture the Democratic Party Benjamin Studebaker

‘A political revolution’: Meet the left-wing group that’s slaying Democratic giants in Philly The Inquirer

Can liberals please work out how to win back the working class? Thomas Frank, Guardian. “As for me, I am off to write a few books. I’ll be back in this space in a few years and we will see how things have gone.”

Much ado about socialism The Week

Class Warfare

How European Workers Coordinated This Month’s Massive Amazon Strike—And What Comes Next In These Times

Disneyland Resort workers approve contract that raises the minimum hourly wage to $15 by next year Los Angeles Times

Starbucks Has to Pay for Drips of Off-the-Clock Work (1) Bloomberg

Ohio Democrats Become First State Party To Recognize Campaign Workers Union HuffPo

Vivienne Ming: ‘The professional class is about to be blindsided by AI FT. Not if IBM’s Watson debacle is any guide.

Mortgage, Groupon and card debt: how the bottom half bolsters U.S. economy Reuters

Scientists spot a new shape: Newly identified 3D form called the ‘scutoid’ lets cells pack together without wasting energy Daily Mail

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Links on by .

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. José

      TARGET2 works very well and poses no risk to the euro system. It can absorb with no limits any imbalances in payments between members of the eurozone.

      However, this excerpt from the article cited in today’s links, if correct, does call into question the judgment of the Italian ruling coalition:

      The two political parties that won the majority of seats in the Italian general election in March – the League and the Five Star Movement – want €250bn of Italy’s Target2 debt canceled

      This TARGET2 debt pays zero interest and has no maturity date – what is then the purpose of asking that it be “canceled”?

      This is the type of demand that will only create a totally artificial and unnecessary friction between Italy and the rest of the eurozone. The two parties should instead concentrate their energies to obtain the necessary fiscal space that will allow them to reflate Italy’s badly depressed economy.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Isn’t TARGET2 itlself artificial and unnecessary, if it needs no cancellation (as it pays no interest and has no maturity date)?

        It would

        1. No need to cancel for one side
        2. No need to have it in the first place for the other side.

        Unless, there are other issues at work here. On ‘no interest payment, no maturity’ factor alone, it’s reasonable for Italy to go with #2 – no need for it at all. Might as well cancel it.

        Perhaps there are other issues.

        1. Mel

          No, it’s absolutely necessary. It’s the international transaction clearing system that works in the Eurozone. The only thing special about it is they gave it a catchy name.
          The final hypothetical example shows perfectly why central banks have so little control over the money supply: the author writes a check from his Irish account to pay a German publisher for a year’s subscription to a journal; the check bounces, not because the author doesn’t legally have the money, but because Ireland (no fault of the author) doesn’t have the money. That kind of thing is ruinous to a banking system, because killing the “offending” bank will kill all the bank’s customers too.
          Just like the FED has to back up American banks’ liquidity by whatever means it takes, else American businesses simply disappear.

        2. José

          TARGET2 is indispensable for payments in euro to settle and clear across the eurozone. Without it the euro instead of being a single currency for the member countries would be a mere fixed exchange rate system – where cross border payments at the agreed exchange rate could only be guaranteed for as long as the national central bank had enough foreign exchange reserves to back up the parity.

          That’s the reason for there to be no limit, in TARGET2, to the debit position that a national central bank can incur on the books of the ECB, that is, no limit to national central bank liabilities with respect to the rest of the Eurosystem.

          To quote Peter Garber, one of the few economists who studied the system since its inception, ”the (TARGET2) liabilities can be carried indefinitely as there is no time prescribed for the settlement of imbalances”.

          The vital importance of this feature for the single currency cannot be underestimated. It means that any member country where domestic economic actors (households or firms) make more payments abroad than they receive payments from the rest of the eurozone has the guarantee that such payments in euros will always clear not matter how large and persistent the imbalances are.

          Much misunderstanding about the workings of the eurozone stems from the fact that economists often make the mistake of analyzing it as if it were a mere fixed exchange rate system with a one-to-one parity. But the single currency is much more that that: due to the workings of TARGET2 a euro held in say Portugal is exactly the same as a euro in Germany – it is fully transferable and accepted as a means of payment at par value across the whole of the eurozone, irrespective of the foreign imbalances that a member country may have accumulated over the years.

          1. liam

            Sorry, probably wasn’t clear when I wrote my comment: the zombie I was referring to was the belief that Target 2 was a stealth bailout, as per the originally linked article. As per Karl Whelan, all those who claim this nefarious purpose, either have an axe to grind or don’t understand its point. It was a favorite target, (forgive the pun), of austerian economists during the financial crisis a decade ago. It doesn’t surprise me that this same meme is now appearing, once again, in the FT.

      2. Left in Wisconsin

        concentrate their energies to obtain the necessary fiscal space

        I don’t know what this means but I’m pretty sure I know what this means. Because we all know that what depressed economies need most is austerity.

        1. José

          Just to make it clear, by “necessary fiscal space” I meant finding a way to deficit spend much more, while ducking any EU attempt to counteract this with sanctions.

          Italy’s economy and banking sector are sufficiently large to deter the EU from doing a second Greece on the country – if the ruling coalition is shrewd enough to eschew counterproductive moves that would only play into the EU’s hands such as demanding an absurd “cancellation” of Italy’s TARGET2 debt.

    2. Susan the other

      Not sure how Target 2 is going to rip the Eurozone apart. It sounds more like the perpetual bad bank which keeps the euro both strong and steady. It’s a good safety valve to provide for social spending – which Germany refuses to provide – and why should they? Even Varoufakis agrees that the EZ is not the dependent of Germany. If Target 2 is all it takes to keep things circulating and protect the value of the Euro, who cares? I guess agreeing to such an arrangement makes for eating crow if you are an austerian because there’s no way to claim that societies can be ignored or exploited and that economies should all be at the mercy of the free market. Target 2 is an excellent way to directly intervene to prevent national banks having to borrow from foreign banks for social purposes – which is the thing that has almost killed the EU already. We might want to consider a little Target 2 here. It sounds like a good, face-saving way to achieve MMT.

    3. Left in Wisconsin

      I have no expertise in this area but I highly recommend reading the paper behind the short blog post:

      The author makes the argument that Target2 is the only thing holding the Eurozone together at this point and it only does so because no one except a handful of insider experts understands how it works (although he does give a shout out to Ambrose Evans-Pritchard for being one of the few to recognize the issue.) The fact that there is no interest paid and accounts never have to be cleared and nearly everyone thinks and acts as if it is merely federal bank-style “clearing” has allowed Italian and Spanish central banks to accumulate debts on the order of 300-400 billion Euros each (mostly to German and Luxumbugian CBs) that wealthy Spaniards and Italians know can never be paid – and at this point will never have to be paid absent exiting the Euro (in which case Draghi has apparently made clear to the Italians that they then will have to be paid) – which has led to serious capital flight and thus condemning Spain and Italy to perpetual economic stagnation.

      In short, the author argues this is another one of those “sweep it under the rug” fixes that are all that is holding the Eurozone together at this point, indeed the most important one. As long as everyone continues to act as if there is no problem here, there will be no problem here. Until there is.

      1. VietnamVet

        Thanks, this rings true. In my over half century since Econ101, I haven’t understood why all of the bad debt wasn’t written off the books in 2008. In the USA, it would have bankrupted the powerful but doable if the banks were nationalized and the transfer of wealth to the rich stopped. In Europe’s case, if ECB demands settlement payments from Italy and Spain; the debt can’t be written down. Restoring the Lira or Peseta would not only crash the banks but also the Eurozone and the EU. The West is kicking the can down the road until the day it can’t. Brexit, Austria and Hungary document that the full fiscal and political union of Europe is impossible. The warring Europe of lore ultimately will be reborn.

      2. José

        Capital flight doesn’t necessarily condemn Eurozone economies to stagnation. In fact, it’s mainly irrelevant whether a Spanish national holds its deposits at a Spanish or a German bank – as long as her propensity to spend out of that deposit in goods and services produced in Spain remains unaffected.

        The real culprit for low growth in the eurozone is the so called Fiscal Compact with all its contractionary, anti-spending rules. Since one agent’s spending is another agent’s income imposing arbitrary constraints on spending will likely result in shrinking incomes and high unemployment at the macro level.

  1. Katniss Everdeen

    Israel to declare Gaza protest killings ‘operational mishaps’ Middle East Monitor

    And the u.s. to swallow it whole.

    The report will also suggest “demonstrators intruded into the line of fire after troops had opened fire and [there were] incidents in which bullets ricocheted, subsequently hitting Palestinians.”

    Without even a hint of a gag.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That’s odd that. It was only several weeks ago that Israeli army spokesman Lieut. Col. Jonathan Conricus said: “Every bullet that’s fired is ordered by a commander and every bullet has a target”. Either Israeli snipers are really, really bad at their job or the Palestinians, as suggested in that report, are throwing themselves into the line of fire. Fast reflexes that! I am not even going to mention the internationally-banned explosive bullets that those snipers were using. Oh, I just did. Oops.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        “Suicide by sniper” would certainly seem to serve the narrative of the guardians of the only patch of ground on the planet that god personally decreed belonging exclusively to one specific religious sect better than…..say…..”ricochets.”

        1. Alex morfesis

          Okay…let us not get too carried away…the world is filled with self proclaimed connectors to dog who insist that the wholey of holeez personally…

          Purr sew know lee

          Decreed this(& that piece there…and that other piece next to it and…) To be say Creed lands and belongs to none other than us spay sea you’ll ones…

          1. pretzelattack

            then there was that whole manifest destiny thing, which the u.s. tried to apply to the world.

      2. Inode_buddha

        Maybe somebody should inform the Israelis of this thing called “the Ten Commandments” saying something about “bearing false witness against their neighbors”… you would think the Israelis of all people would know about those ten commandments things.

    2. Richard Kline

      The article in links on the decline of support for Israel in the Democratic Party and amongst American Jewry is indicative of an extremely important trend. I suggest that we all read it, and not let this issue fall of the radar. Support for the apartheid Israeli state has cratered from center to the left in the US, without there necessarily having been a ‘defining event’ to anchor that in public awareness. The Democrats in some configuration will return to power at some point—and the will not be pro-Israel. This really began under Obama (hold the brickbats and put on the thinking hats on that), but has greatly accelerated since the Trump-Bengy cozython of the last two years.

      It has seemed to me inevitable for quite some time that the USA would eventually dump Israel. We have a long record of turning on our proxies when they get unmanageable, or just because. My thinking in this is best kept for another day, but consider the implications. Most problems for the US in the Near East do NOT lead to and from ‘oil,’ though that is important, but lead to and from our fealty to Israel. If the latter changes, the former rearranges. Try kicking around some scenarios on this and see what I mean. I don’t exclude the possibility that the defining US war of our times will be against Israel. That sounds like a pretty radical outcome, I know. It’s far from out of the question. The drift of political estrangement between what is the majority voting bloc in the country and Israel is the ‘change of season’ on such a potential, though.

      1. Richard

        “Most problems for the US in the Near East do NOT lead to and from ‘oil’, though that is important, but lead to and from our fealty to Israel.”
        If one grants that, and I am prepared to, it still begs the question: why is their such fealty? Why do US lawmakers so often privilege the geopolitical interests of Israeli governments, particularly far right Israeli governments, over the interests of so many citizens (taxpayers, members of the military put in harm’s way, human rights advocates,anti-imperialists, etc)?
        My suspicion is that the roots are more domestic than foreign, and are probably political in nature.

        1. norm de plume

          ‘My suspicion is that the roots are more domestic than foreign, and are probably political in nature’

          yes, political but in the broad sense, including the economic, cultural and social. Israeli partisans are generously distributed among the power elites of all the nation’s ‘commanding heights’ and have normalised acceptance of Israeli crimes to a degree that encourages or at least permits (as a minimum) the ridicule or marginalisation of individuals or groups who condemn those crimes and support the rights of the Palestinians.

          It is good to see the ‘third rail’ at last showing signs of wear and tear, and a realist Walt/Mearsheimer style national cost/benefit approach seems to me the most sensible and least risky method of dismantling it completely.

        2. Richard Kline

          The roots for America’s extreme deference to Israel are complicated, and your question cannot be definitively answered without a detailed historical study which, to the best of my knowledge, has not yet been done. As of c. 1970, Israel was not on the American public radar, and neither political party was completely onboard with the US even helping that state. As of 1990, America was licking an Israeli boot and hasn’t quit since. So the phenomenon is not new, but isn’t as old as one might first suppose.

          I think of four principle factors, but to be sure these do not seem to answer the question adequately.

          1) American’s love a winner. In the 80s when the US couldn’t shoot straight (while still shooting quite a lot), Israel was a crushing winner every time out in wars with its neighbors. There is a degree of envy and emulation still left over. “Man those guys can really DO this shit.”

          2) Numerous terrorist attacks occurred in the 1970s and 80s against Israel which engendered considerable revulsion in the US. The sense of the foes of Israel as being extreme and irrational became deeply ingrained in American public opinion even while Israeli cruelty and criminality was kept off the front page at least until the Oslo accords opened a window into what has really happened.

          3) Israel was for decades the most consistent anti-Russian state-actor outside of the US and the UK. The sense of “common foes make common friends” was very ably supported by Israeli diplomacy and campaign funding in the US. The idea that “We’ve always been pals” was deep planted even while not being at all true.

          4) Israeli campaign funding and conversely dis-endorsement of American politicians in electoral campaigns here was highly effective in American politics in the 90s and 00s, by far more so than any other organization, including most corporate lobbyists. Many politicians broke into a cold sweat at the thought that they would be black balled by Israel if they didn’t cooperate, so that “I’m more cooperative than my opponent is” became reflexive and fed on itself beyond actual influence of Israeli lobbying. Here too, a sniveling respect for the smart kid who beat you up and made you like it took hold a bit, in my view.

          All that is before factors like basic anti-Arab racism comes into play, which are major in the US and have been constantly promoted and exploited by Israel. It is not the slightest coincidence that the most xenophobic constituencies amongst US citizenry also are by far the biggest endorsers of Zion uber alles as of today. That is also a principal factor driving the shift in liberal-progressive public opinion away from Israel, however.

          The bottom line is that American public opinion has been overawed by the sense of backing a consistent winner, seeing it as in our interest to do so, and imbued with a sneaking envy that they might even be bigger winners than we are and so we have to keep up with them. . . . Except Israel isn’t looking quite so much like a winner in the last ten years. I don’t see it as a coincidence that unquestioned support for Israel has ebbed significantly in part of the political spectrum over that time.

          The American military especially but the security agencies too are aware, as a group, that Israel’s policies have a direct and major blowback cost on the USA. That ‘sneaking suspicion’ I suspect gnaws at the tethers of things in the background of massive upfront endorsement to slowly undermine the sense that America’s interests and Israel’s align—because flatly the don’t in the larger picture, at least insofar as Israel’s current actions are concerned. Sure, there is some overlap, but their goals and ours are not solidly aligned.

          A tipping point is coming in American-Israeli relations in my view. That is the implication of the evaluation in the Roll Call article linked. When change might come or how sweeping it might then be I don’t have a firm view. It may be fairly sudden at least at the level of public awareness, though. That is how such things work. It is possible for such a tippling point to be forestalled, if for example the US found itself more or less compelled into a war on Israel’s side. Trump-Benjy are exactly a pair of thumbs on the scales for that kind of outcome. I would see the military and much of US Big Spy holding their thumbs on the opposite side of the scale at the moment, for reasons various and sundry. That bears some thinking about if you’re the kind of person who thinks about policy, strategy, and history.

  2. cnchal

    > How European Workers Coordinated This Month’s Massive Amazon Strike—And What Comes Next: In These Times

    After the first strikes, Amazon began to give German workers regular raises. It also made improvements to ventilation and lighting in some of its warehouses, and, in response to worker complaints about the physical and psychological toll of on-the-job requirements, added a “fruit day” with company-furnished fruit baskets.

    But Amazon has refused to codify even these modest changes through a collective bargaining agreement. . .
    In a statement responding to the strikes, an Amazon spokesperson said, “Amazon is a fair and responsible employer and as such we are committed to dialogue, which is an inseparable part of our culture. We are committed to ensuring a fair cooperation with all our employees, including positive working conditions and a caring and inclusive environment.”.

    In 2014, Amazon began to open warehouses in Poland, where wages are lower and labor laws are laxer. . .
    Most employees have to work standing or walking (some for several miles during one shift), and many jobs involve highly repetitive movements, lifting heavy goods and boxes, or pushing heavy carts. Amazon wants the warehouses running day and night. Therefore, workers in Poland have to work four 10-hour shifts per week, with an additional unpaid 30 minutes break. The shifts schedule changes every month from day shift. Such a shift system and shift rotation disturbs workers’ sleeping rhythm and leads to serious health problems. In addition, it makes it difficult to organise a private life.

    To bring down the sickness rate, Amazon Poland hired a company in spring 2017 which checks whether workers are at home during sick leave. A worker who was dismissed because of a sick leave wrote: “At Amazon we hear about safety every day, about health, but the reality is different. Not everyone can keep up the race at Amazon. People are treated like machines. But even machines fail and stand still. We are not allowed to do that.
    “We want to draw the attention of all employees to work above all safety, in accordance with health and safety regulations, and not under pressure from the employer to ‘beat shipping records,’ because they will not get any rewards for their dedication,” says Malinowska. She adds that since warehouses opened in Poland, shipping targets have increased several times.
    In addition to strikes and slowdowns in Spain, Germany and Poland, Amazon workers in Great Britain marched over the weekend in a festival celebrating the birth of trade unionism, holding signs reading “We Are Humans, Not Robots.” An estimated 87 percent of U.K. Amazon workers have back or neck problems, according to a survey by the trade union GMB.

    “Amazon is a global company and uses global tactics,” GMB official Mick Rix told El Pais. “We have to do the same.”

    Amazon workers are tied to the whipping post. Buy from Amazon and crack the whip.

    1. Jesper

      And what can be read this week on the BBC about Amazon is about the greatness of Bezos:

      With a fortune worth about $150bn, the 54-year-old Mr Bezos has also faced questions about his relatively limited philanthropic activity.

      And this is just delightful:

      In the face of those critics, Mr Bezos has started to cultivate a more public presence on Twitter, where he shares photos of his parents and videos of dog sledding in Norway.

      Who could possibly critizise anyone who is dog-sledding in Norway and has time for his parents?
      Maybe if he paid his workers less he could give more to charitable foundations, I believe the Clintons have one and they’d do more good with that money than the deplorables working for Amazon, right?

      1. pretzelattack

        reminds me of the way john d. rockefeller was sanitized by ivy lee after the ludlow massacre. no amazon worker massacres, at least–still in the stage of grinding down the workers’ health.

      2. cnchal

        Did he whip the dogs as much as he does his workers?

        Infamous Bezos quotes

        “The only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel. That is basically it,”
        “Blue Origin is expensive enough to be able to use that fortune,” he says. “I am currently liquidating about $1 billion a year of Amazon stock to fund Blue Origin. And I plan to continue to do that for a long time. Because you’re right, you’re not going to spend it on a second dinner out.”
        “I am very lucky that I feel like I have a mission-driven purpose with Blue Origin that is, I think, incredibly important for civilization long-term. And I am going to use my financial lottery winnings from Amazon to fund that,”
        “We went to Norway for three days and we stayed in an ice hotel. We went dog sledding. We went to a wolf preserve and actually got to interact with timber wolves. It really was an incredible vacation, a pretty incredible holiday,” says Bezos. “We got it all done in three and a half days. It was amazing.”

        Time is money. I bet the doorman got whipped too.

        Who else thinks he’s off his rocket with the grandiose world saving fantasies?

    2. Matt

      They actually hired a company to snoop on workers and ensure they were at home…Here in the DC bubble, good liberals give me a confused look when I say I don’t shop at Amazon. Yet these same people readily say they never shop at Wal-Mart. When convenience meets principals, principals are chucked aside.

      1. Richard

        They give you that same confused look in Seattle.
        Are they really confused or just pretending? Very ungenerous of me to speculate, and I always give benefit of the doubt in face to face conversations. But that much “innocent” ignorance in the midst of such obvious pharaonic (sp?) power is hard to credit.

      2. Duke of Prunes

        I’m in the middle and get strange looks when I say Amazon is evil. Even from my immediate family

      3. Jean

        Good liberals, actually anyone who cares about labor, or the real organic food movement and their health, also do not shop at Whole Foods.

        I encourage their employees to
        strike for higher wages in the week before Thanksgiving

      4. drumlin woodchuckles

        The limousine latte’ liberals of DC are being true to one of the real principals they have.
        And that real principal is social class-status-style snobbery. The reason they don’t shop at Wal-Mart is because they are afraid of getting some “people of Wal-Mart” cooties on their own precious selves.

    3. Ignacio

      There was a strike in Spain last autumn and Amazon just diverted activity yo Germany. Workers are learning.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > choke points

        We have seen several examples of supply chain fragility over the summer. Gullliver tied down with threads by Lilliputians comes to mind when you say “tiny union”…

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Scorched earth: the world battles extreme weather”

    Maybe at this late stage they should consider setting up an international fire command structure. Already you are seeing firefighters going to different countries and I have seen Australian firefighters going over to help fight American fires in the past. If an international command was set up, they could assess how much equipment there is worldwide, see what is transportable as well as personnel, and as bad fires hit shift these response teams around to meet the worst of the threats. Only thing is, if you have fires break out all over the place the system may break down but it is worth a try.

    1. Wukchumni

      Why not take the money that we were gonna blow on a squadron of F-35 fighter jets, and spend it on aerial tankers and other firefighting planes?

      I wouldn’t mind if the MIC still makes substantial bank on the latter…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Maybe all the money in the world to build a spaceship for a chosen few (the best of us) to re-settle on Mars. I remember seeing that in a movie.

        “Humanity deserves another chance” – said a much admired person in another (documentary) film.

        We don’t look back, only forward. For that reason, I won’t say ‘We shouldn’t have climbed from trees.” But we can still be more like Bonobo apes.

        And ‘you ape’ should not be an insult.

          1. icancho

            the move from the oceans was a bad idea

            Douglas Adams suggested that it was probably a bad idea to come down from the trees

          2. Richard

            I think adding that second cell was very iffy. There, I win! I went the furthest back! :^

        1. JTMcPhee

          Why go to Mars? The Elysium satellite was in a pretty close orbit to the home world, , and still able to keep sucking wealth off it…

          And the Tech Wonder Kids can surely construct an actual bunch of Wall-Es, to begin the cleanup and reconstruction when the Fat People on that Axiom spaceship crash back onto the trashed planet (only after the Fat Captain succeeds in overcoming that AI “autopilot,” of course…)

          By their myths you can know them…

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The world…extreme weather

      How is it in Sydney, Cape Town or Buenos Aires today? I hope not too extreme.

      In the ‘other’ world, the northern half, cities like Santa Monica or San Francisco seem to be OK. And we can ask, does wealth inequality lead to weather inequality and only the rich can afford those weather sanctuaries?

      And will they have to defend themselves from pitchfork carrying, parched humans?

      Will it eventually come down to those cities versus the rest of America, including DC, New York, etc.

    3. Richard Kline

      Most ‘firefighting’ is about protecting private property, a structural failure, and a net ecological negative. What actually needs to be happening is labor intensive culling and fire breaking in the Spring prior to fire weather, a change in building codes and evacuation protocols, and then just let it burn. Seriously. We get more and worse fires by ‘fighting’ them, and everyone in that industry knows this to the last detail.

      What about some of those ‘full employment’ CCC jobs getting talked up being used to ‘fire shape’ in the Spring on the public dollar? We’ll see how many sign up voluntarily for hard and in some cases dangerous physical labor in that case. But some will.

  4. John Beech

    Lovely photo of the flying fish perfectly demonstrates the vertical and horizontal fins required to stabilize the flight because otherwise, the wing would generate a strong nose-down pitching moment resulting in the creature being unable to glide far, or remain flying in a straight line . . . all exactly as for an airplane! Nature and engineering are often intertwined.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Flying fish are pure wonder. I encountered a lot of them, sailing in the Gulf Stream. They drove my dog friend crazy. But a tail is not needed for flight.

      Tell me again how the B-2 and earlier Northrop fantasies manage to fly in a straight line? Don’t need an empennage, the fancy word for “tailfins,” just a reflexed airfoil to counteract the nose-down. With the B-2, of course, there’s the need for a lot of expensive avionics to keep its “stealthy” shape full of bombs and missiles on course to those Wog-land targets…

      Here’s what two billion dollars of MMT money looks like when it crashes and burns: Note that the meat sacks that “manned/‘ the “Spirit of Kansas,” just like the Banksters, got to “bail out” before the SHTF… More fun facts: the SoK was brought down by “moisture on sensors:” And these “most survivable” bombers, these B-2s that are so stealthy, well, remember the one the Serbs shot down, the “Spirit of Missouri,” when they were being bombed by another “coalition”? Got to love the naming-rights meme here, let the mopes in the Heartland (flyover country) get all pumped up when those flyover aircraft are labeled with their home-state moniker.

      And of the 20-odd B-2s in the Air Armada, how many of them are actually flight-ready? Some people are worried, or were back in 2013: I am sure the readiness figures have vastly improved since then, what with all the wealth that’s been dumped in the bloated laps of the procurement pigs in the Pentagram…

  5. Steve H.

    > Can liberals please work out how to win back the working class?

    Maybe it is time for Frank to take a break. He makes a serious category error, what is ‘liberal’ in the title switches to ‘Democrats’ in the text.

    “this flawed organization is the only weapon we have against the party of Trump.”

    That smells an awful lot like TINA. A recent Greer:

    “the whole point of dividing the complex ethnic patchwork of today’s America into the arbitrary categories of “white” and “people of color” is to keep the poor and working classes of all ethnicities from realizing that they have far more interests in common with one another than they have with the privileged classes that are exploiting them all.”

    That core hub of the Democratic Party is impervious, supported by wealth, and absolutely correct that they do not have to operate in a democratic way. As Crowley tries to undercut AOC by going to an independent party, it reinforces the Independent path that Sanders tread while undercutting the DNC! An Iron Law institution applying mercury to its own aluminium infrastructure.

    One good reason to focus on concrete, material benefits is to avoid the subversion inherent in rendering words like Liberal and Progressive functionally useless. It’s a lot harder to cover up systemic gaming like the chained cost of living index or unemployment rates. As opposed to words that people attach themselves to, thinging and ism-ing themselves out of the All and We and ‘everybody in, nobody out.’

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Your last paragraph is spot on. After all, Rahm Emmanuel refers to himself as a liberal.

      People do like to attach themselves to labels. It reduces decision making if you can just pick a few superficial things to like about a party or candidate. I had a discussion with a retired neighbor who thought I might be a liberal and fancies himself as something of an informed voter. When that discussion reached Joe Biden, maybe the greatest politician of all time with McCain because there are people who don’t know how vile they are, my neighbor clearly demonstrated “Biden” was merely a name he had heard over the years attached to Team Blue. He was clearly surprised to find out Joe had been a Senator for over 30 years and was completely stunned there were people who might look up the records of politicians beyond mindless virtue signaling.

    2. Shane Mage

      The first requisite for a political party is *members*. But the “Democratic and Republican Parties” have no members. thus they are not, in any sense, *political parties*. Legally, they are *political institutions* established by law. In political practice they are what Madison termed “permanent factions” of thieves and swindlers, despite the very limited public access nominally permitted to their institutional operations. As such they are no more corrupt–and no less corrupt–than the Courts, Congress, and Executive branches composed of themselves and their nominees. For radicals to refuse to contest capital within any of these institutions is truly “infantile” leftism.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Your comment inspires me to quote a great slab of Federalist 10. (If Madison uses the exact phrase “permanent factions,” I can’t find it. See at NC on factions* here.) From Madison’s Federalist 10:

        By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community….

        The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts. But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property.

        IMNSHO, whenever you read “property” in the Federalist Papers, you should remember that, to Madison as a slave-owner, humans could be property.

        Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government.

        Here, Madison shows why appeals to “unity” (e.g., #Indivisible) and bi-partisanship are so vacuous. Contradiction — as the Bearded One would say — over property interests is inevitable, the mother of all such factional conflicts being the Civil War.

        No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity. With equal, nay with greater reason, a body of men are unfit to be both judges and parties at the same time; yet what are many of the most important acts of legislation, but so many judicial determinations, not indeed concerning the rights of single persons, but concerning the rights of large bodies of citizens? And what are the different classes of legislators but advocates and parties to the causes which they determine? Is a law proposed concerning private debts? It is a question to which the creditors are parties on one side and the debtors on the other. Justice ought to hold the balance between them. Yet the parties are, and must be, themselves the judges; and the most numerous party, or, in other words, the most powerful faction must be expected to prevail. Shall domestic manufactures be encouraged, and in what degree, by restrictions on foreign manufactures? are questions which would be differently decided by the landed and the manufacturing classes, and probably by neither with a sole regard to justice and the public good. The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality; yet there is, perhaps, no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party to trample on the rules of justice. Every shilling with which they overburden the inferior number, is a shilling saved to their own pockets.

        It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good.

        “If only we could elect good people!” is Third World thinking.

        Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. Nor, in many cases, can such an adjustment be made at all without taking into view indirect and remote considerations, which will rarely prevail over the immediate interest which one party may find in disregarding the rights of another or the good of the whole.

        The inference to which we are brought is, that the CAUSES of faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its EFFECTS.

        If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote. It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the Constitution. When a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular government, on the other hand, enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens. To secure the public good and private rights against the danger of such a faction, and at the same time to preserve the spirit and the form of popular government, is then the great object to which our inquiries are directed. Let me add that it is the great desideratum by which this form of government can be rescued from the opprobrium under which it has so long labored, and be recommended to the esteem and adoption of mankind.

        Remember, again, that for Madison, “private rights” included the right to own slaves. When a majority faction elected a President who thought slavery was wrong (“I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free.”) Madison’s “great object” failed to be achieved.

        By what means is this object attainable? Evidently by one of two only. Either the existence of the same passion or interest in a majority at the same time must be prevented, or the majority, having such coexistent passion or interest, must be rendered, by their number and local situation, unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression.

        (However “oppression” be defined.) Our two-party system is quite evidently performing this function.

        If the impulse and the opportunity be suffered to coincide, we well know that neither moral nor religious motives can be relied on as an adequate control. They are not found to be such on the injustice and violence of individuals, and lose their efficacy in proportion to the number combined together, that is, in proportion as their efficacy becomes needful.

        From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction.

        And here we are! I should say that although Madison’s property-based motives are clear, that doens’t invalidate his views on “human nature,” or his system design. It occurs to me that Madison goes wrong in his thinking not in checks-and-balances but, as with slaves, in his notions of how property (public; private) is defined.

        NOTE * When we say of the 9.9% that they are credentialed — for those who followed this earlier discussion, security clearances need to be included in this — that emphasizes their property interest (as does “lanyard class,” interestingly enough, so kudos to CHAPO for being sharp on class markers).

        1. makedoandmend

          Excellent stuff. Kudos to this Madison fella. Does he have a website and is his newest writing of the same calibre? :-)

          He is assigning agency to factions, and this seems a coherent thing to assign.

          However, if experience and history has taught me one lesson over the last ~40 years, one might not want to be associated with a faction and its attendant agency but instead have agency (or its powerless doppelganger) thrust upon one.

          Since the Reagan-Thatcher era (and with some prior antecedents) it has become apparent that class is the means by which capital encodes and enforces its power to create the powerless – the working class. The working class is meant to be powerless and fractioned but never become a faction in its own right, and capital does its damnest to either outlaw agency or diminish it – such as watering down or negating collective bargaining and solidarity of common cause among workers.

          Such has been the success of capital to harvest the productive forces of workers and educate them to their powerlessness that when a section of workers does obtain agency another section of workers becomes horrified that capital might be losing its mojo and their means of meagre subsistence might be in peril.

          Might then agency at times for a faction be non-existent, at other times potent, and at yet other times fractionalised? An might not the fractionalised agency be more damaging in the long run? Should a working class cohort, if obtained of agency, subvert another faction who would try to undermine all working class agency? And would this not be contradictory of the way agency is obtained by the working class – i.e. by solidarity?

        2. knowbuddhau

          ISTM he does go wrong with “human nature.” And he confuses human nature with “society.” He goes from talking about human nature in the abstract to “society,” as if his society and human nature were one and the same.

          His society, of course, is of humans, but equally obviously, not all humans are of his society. He’s substituting his unrepresentative sample of Society for all of human nature.

          Did the same type of factionalism “of necessity” obtain in the many different societies already living here?

          If you presume Factions to be present “of necessity,” and go about building a system with regard to them, you might look at step 1 for a solution.

          Where’d Madison get his conception of human nature? I confess to not knowing squat about him. Pretty sure it ain’t the only one. I know of at least one that isn’t based on an absolute self/other divide, a distinction I find most pivotal.

          1. makedoandmend

            If I may be so bold, some really good & weighty observations/thoughts. Yeah, the leap from a statement about human nature elided into a statement about the nature of a society is a common error – one which I often make.

            But, for the life of me, I can’t think, off hand, of a self/other divide that isn’t operative at all times in any activity or discourse. Definitely pivotal – but even an altruistic act would seem to require an acknowledgement of self/other. Or am I just being too literal?

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Where’d Madison get his conception of human nature?

            The Scottish Enlightenment, I believe. I poked around looking for a really good history/critique of the Federalist Papers, a book, and couldn’t find one. Odd!

    3. Left in Wisconsin

      > Can liberals please work out how to win back the working class?

      If we start to connect some dots…
      – the article about Reclaim Philadelphia referenced above (Reclaim Philadelphia has been a major force behind the left wing’s biggest victories in the city in recent years…But the lion’s share of the group’s electoral successes have occurred in gentrifying neighborhoods full of new, young voters. Most of its members are also white, while the city is majority-minority. Can it prevail among a larger swath of the electorate?)
      – AOC’s success in the gentrifying neighborhoods
      – yesterday’s piece about young people coming to DSA

      … you can see that there is a huge upsurge in youth/progressive movement toward the “social democratic/democratic socialist” liberal/left. But no real understanding/interest among this group in clarifying the distinction between liberal and left. And no real connection yet to those devastated by or at the mercy of global capital.

      As someone who has spent most of their life trying to get people to understand this distinction, this is both good and bad. The good is that it allows people to identify a local, anti-machine, anti-entrenched mainstream Democrat politics. In our system, for better or worse, non-billionaire politicians need to start at the local level. And I think “sewer socialism” is the only was forward for socialism in this country. (As pointed out above, we don’t have real political parties in the country that can drive a national program.) The bad is that it glosses over the liberal/left distinction, so we are likely to get a new generation of liberal/left politicians better steeped in identity politics that left economics and not grounded in the need to challenge global capital, particularly the “sexy” new varieties like Amazon, Uber, and Apple.

      But you need to learn to crawl before you can walk. A vibrant social democratic politics would be a huge advance over where we are now.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        Despite 5 minutes of editing, should be:
        1. real political parties in this country
        2. the only way forward
        3. than left economics

    4. JBird

      “the whole point of dividing the complex ethnic patchwork of today’s America into the arbitrary categories of “white” and “people of color” is to keep the poor and working classes of all ethnicities from realizing that they have far more interests in common with one another than they have with the privileged classes that are exploiting them all.”

      Exactly. Racism is real, lethal, and ever present, but today its existence is used to separate and exploit, and any effort going to fight racism seems to be twisted into oppressing the lower classes while supporting those privileged classes. The only effective tactic in America (that I can see) right now is to use the economic oppression of most Americans as a uniter.

    5. knowbuddhau

      “…thinging and ism-ing thesmselves out of the All and We….”

      That’s so beautiful I could cry. That’s exactly what I’m on about.

      I bow in your virtual direction.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Con men usually know that a con has a life span, and not a long one. At some point, it will collapse because it is, in fact, bullshit. By then, the best con men have made the sale — think of “Trump University” — and moved on. They also know that keeping the suckers sealed off from other sources of contrary information is essential until the deal is done. You have to maintain a fiction relentlessly, dismiss or delegitimize external information that might get your marks to think differently, and constantly make the sale. You have to humor and flatter and bullshit all the time, until you’ve sealed the deal.

      And Trump is really, really good at this. In fact, it’s his chief skill, along with his instinct for the easy mark and another human being’s vulnerable spot. It has worked many times before. It’s at the root of his entire shady business career. His problem now, however, is that this is the biggest of all cons, if you’re playing at a presidential level, and is also the longest. It has to be sustainable for at least four years. And that’s an extremely long time to keep it alive.

      This is why, it seems to me, Trump tweets so often and so aggressively. It’s his chief mechanism for keeping his dupes under his spell, for sustaining the narrative of the con while reality tugs at it. He’s making the sale every news cycle of every day because the alternative is the whole thing crashing to the ground. It’s also why he keeps holding rallies. You need that kind of mass crowd hysteria to sustain a con — “America Is Great Again!” — that might otherwise be fraying at the edges. It’s why he lambastes the media. Their role in undercutting the con — in presenting the arguments against it, in raising suspicions about the con man himself — is deeply destabilizing to the project. And it’s why he has to lie, and lie with greater and greater intensity and frequency.

      1. DorothyT

        “Trump May Finally Face a Reckoning for Defying the Constitution” (RawStory: What fresh hell)

        This isn’t your grandmother’s anti-Russia pile on. I’ve read some of the regular’s here compare the Trump-Russia investigation to the McCarthy days. As a grandmother who came of age to the latter and knew some whose reputations were destroyed for ideology (and politics), I can only say that this is real mob stuff. Follow the money; follow the con men wherever in the world they operate, even in the White House.

      2. makedoanmend

        When is a con a con, though? Is President Trump really any more of a con artist than Reagan/Thatcher with their neoliberalist ideology, Sanders with his social democratic political program, or with any nation-state that claims a special privilege among a constellation of states and alliances? Every politician and political body might be interpreted as a con in this light.

        Does a con work because some part of the con is based on reality or facts in a particular time and place; a good con being one where the con-jurer accentuates the pros and thereby downplays the risks? Doesn’t a sales person do this every day even though the product they may be selling is legitimate and meets the needs of the purchaser?

        Or can a con be simply thought of as an individual (or cohort) that happens to make out like a bandit at the expense of all the marks irrespective of the situational dynamics?

        It seems intent is the guiding principle by which a conjurer’s motives can be judged. However, what happens when an individual is conflicted in their interests as President Trump may be. It seems President Trump is interested in making “America Great Again” and also may have personal motives. His motives may be base, such as in material gain for the self, or politically based, such as the desire to assist his client base, or both and more.

        Intent is not easy to establish in retrospect nor easy to untangle from a multiplicity of urges.

        I’d suggest that assessing President Trump as a con artist isn’t particularly effective political framing as it can’t easily be remedied since we don’t and probably can’t know his range of motives in real time. Rather it is up to the marks, who by virtue of their powerlessness (political and otherwise), to band together to ensure they have remedy against what might be nothing more than “natural” cons perpetrated by us humans on humans from time immemorial by virtue of one faction’s goals being out of kilter with another’s.

          1. Doug Hillman

            Amazing post with almost 500 comments, worth rereading. Stoller nailed Obama, a charlatan, highly skilled in mass hypnosis. A few choice quotes:


            “Obama had risen to that level of duplicity … an entirely constructed false persona. He had polished the tools of the Presidency – the utter banality of PR, the constipated talking points, the routine abuse of power – and taken them to a new level with a self-aware sense of irony about his own narcissistic dishonesty.”

            “Obama is the ultimate cynic, a dishonest, highly reactionary social and corporate ladder climbing con artist.”

            “Obama’s entire edifice is based on lying almost entirely to help sustain his image, with almost no interest in sound policy-making … Like a great con artist, he has studied his mark, the American voter, and specifically the Democratic voter, and he undersands which buttons to push.”

            “[Obama] gets left-wing ideas. But he hates the left, with the passion of any bully towards his victims. To him, they are chumps, weak, pathetic, losers. They are such pathetic losers, in fact, that they will believe anything he tells them. And Obama has no better nature, he is what he’s done in office, someone who murders children with drone strikes and then jokes about it to his rich friends.”
            “The truth is that he’s a narcissistic sociopath dressed up as a cool corporate brand.”


            Obama’s stellar success as a charlatan is likely a combination of several factors. Uplifted by Affirmative Action, he developed the unique skills of a Chicago street hustler with the polish of a Harvard shyster. But few if any sociopaths are as aware of or comfortable with their pathology as Obama, enabling him to joke about drone murders and being “good at killing people” without a twinge of conscience that might otherwise make his jokes about mass-murder sound flat to those not fully mesmerized.

            Stoller highlighted this self-awareness as the basis of his power to decieve. This had to include an acute awareness of his timely mixed-race advantage, which he used to throw Reverend Jeremiah Wright under the bus and to fully exploit the willful color-blind blindness of the liberal elite to serve Wall Street, the military, and health insurance rackets so effectively. Obama’s self-awareness enabled him to embrace his role as house negro, especially because so many hoped for a successful first black president. When he turned out to be Idi Amin they refused to believe their lying eyes.

        1. skippy

          I think there are degrees of cons as well the stylings of their salesmen, I also think past works plays a part, this is where Trump becomes a poster child for the term and its identifiers.

          On the latter I think its important to be able in pointing out those identifiers and as such empower humans which would be Apolitical in grounding – see Lamberts offering.

          1. makedoandmend

            I’m not so sure about Trump being a poster-child for the con model. Of modern Presidents, Billy boy’s my choice. Charming, “glad handling” to the extreme, and very effective. And now rich. The White House was good huckstering for the foundation.

            (Not sure I’m directly addressing the point but is anything in human society apolitical? The declare for the apolitical, to my mind, is a call to get rid of all the messy human diversity in order to obtain a clean, orderly and rigid conformity. It might have its appeal to some but I prefer my democracy messy, meandering and morphing. But, as I said, I’m probably taking you up wrong or incorrectly.)

            1. skippy

              I don’t think observing certain human characteristics and their distribution in environmental settings is a political act, it’s applicable across the board, hence Apolitical.

              Understand your views on Bill, albeit environmental differences wrt mass media penetration via smart phones et al poses a change in how a con can be administered. I think due to Trumps past he would have a considerable advantage over Bill all things equal.

              Just to be clear I do forward social democracy with all its attended features vs. say direct [market] democracy et al, especially the part about what defines a voter and how many votes they get.

              Hope that cleared it up a bit more.

              1. makedoandmend

                No, can’t agree re: either apolitical nor President Clinton v. President Trump.

                I really don’t think either President Clinton nor President Trump are conmen. Politics and circumstances may create the impression of a con game but the dynamics are different imho. However, when it comes to sales ability and effectiveness of the pitch, I rate President Clinton above President Trump. Just a matter of opinion.

                When human actions and dynamics are public, and when actions and their possible outcomes aren’t immediately knowable and therefore debatable, the situation becomes political – if only at low levels and without any culpable repercussions. Sure there are many, many occasions where the political does not occur or is avoided but I believe that cannot be extrapolated as always being apolitical or likely to be apolitical across the board or time.

                Agree to disagree on that one.

                1. skippy

                  I differ because of environmental factors and their projective powers, not unlike the printing press [pron and political propaganda being the most affluent at onset].

                  I also think we might disagree on the definition of a conman and that all things human are political in nature. Sorry if I find the application of political to have hints of survival of the fittest in your use of it. Broad base line sociology does not support some natural aspect to it, more a case of some specific regional or ethic dynamics.

                  Yes in the old parlance Bill was a self absorbed indavidual and carpetbagger, aside, Bill did not enter the problem set Trump has nor resorted to the same level of salesmanship, especially considering their prospective bases. Yes Bill neoliberalized the DNC and abandoned the traditional Dem party base and making pay to play a feature and not a bug. Albeit Trump is even a bigger threat to labour with his already mentioned Blazing Saddles reference.

                  This again gets right back to my main point, enviroment establishes baselines, hard to have any semblance of social democracy with con men of all stripes in leadership positions. Its like some here in OZ putting all the agency on Keating for ushering it in, whilst Howard did the hard yards and now we have a bench warmer.

                  If I may suggest, have a sunder over to Lars blog and check it out, most of the antagonists we get on about are on something, might behoove to identify that aspect and stop focusing on the delivery boys.

      3. knowbuddhau

        Oh, Trump. I was thinking more like, “…and that’s why our political discourse has gone bat-sh!t crazy lately. Too much reliance on too much bs for too long has burst the mother of all reality bubbles all over the place.

        As the energy required to maintain control of The Narrative goes exponential, so, too, does the BS-crazy level. There’s no known natural limit to BS production, not even in quantum physics. The reader is advised to be mindful at all times of potential BS, and be not afraid in smacking it down.

        It’s a moment I’ve been anticipating: Peak BS. Post-WWII, the “intelligence community” was very impressed with the power of propaganda. Fast forward a few decades and now you can drive the Sixth Mass Extinction through the gap between where we’re told we are and where we actually are. Yet, bizzarely, Russia and Iran are still the enemies. (Is it wrong of me to wish Henry Kissinger would just go die, and sooner the better, but not before being absolutely discredited and anathematized for all time? I’ll ask roshi. If I remember.)

        So will the whole shebang just go sheboom? I’d be more sanguine about a New Dark Ages (I know, they weren’t that dark) if it weren’t for all the industrial tech that’s going to spiral outta control.

        A schism here, a schism there, no where at all to turn for certainty or even clarity, pretty soon people will believe anything. Oh wait….

        We’re going highway speed rn. Pretty soon, there’s going to be a Great Deceleration. Offramp or brick wall? Prolly the ditch in between.

        1. skippy

          This is what I used to reference when talking about amplitude of the Bernays knob, which fits in nicely in my book with Yves previous points about people not having any time out of the barrage for some quite mental detachment, and its benefits.

          Persoanly I think the overuse of high powered psychological PR – marketing with be its own demise, yet as you say no one knows how that ends. Especially considering real threats which have no ideological agency to throw GT at.

  6. Eureka Springs

    I recall reading an NC linked Salon article by Thomas Franks just before he left to write Listen Liberal. I could hardly finish his post at that time for precisely the same reasons I had difficulty with him today. Until we come up with a better term for Stockholm Syndrome it’s all I can think of to describe my difficulties with him. Considering how he’s been treated by the Dem establishment since Listen Liberal I wonder what it will take for him to snap out of his self inflicted D vs R trap?

    What a waste of talent and voice.

    1. Anon

      From the reading the piece, it feels like part exasperation, part resignation. This is the writing of a brilliant man who feels as if something must be done, something different, but it cannot. Torn between the love of the people and money, it seems as if most Ds would choose the latter 100% of the time.

      I find that issues-based voting helps to alleviate some of the anguish that I feel come election time. Taken another way, why should I reward ineptitude?

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        part exasperation, part resignation

        Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.

    2. Carolinian

      Frank says the Dems “remain a mystery” but perhaps only to him. The truth is they are still the other wing of the bird of prey and only turned populist in the 1930s because someone had to in order to save the bird from flopping down dead. It also gave them a decades long leg up in the R v D pie fight.

      Now we are back to smoke filled rooms and machine politics. Gore Vidal used to say that the American love for democracy talk was in inverse proportion to the actual democracy on hand. These days people don’t even talk about democracy very much, at least not for this country. The upper class will only give in when they take a great fall.

      1. Olga

        The “mystery” comment was a bit puzzling, since I thought he identified quite correctly what’s wrong with the D party in Listen Liberal. Not sure why it is now a mystery to him. I guess – in spite of all the evidence – it is hard to give on the Ds for him – or perhaps, he sees no other option and believes that the D party can be re-captured. Let’s see how that works out…

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I think his use of the word ‘mystery’ was purely rhetorical, its part of his non-polemical style of writing. He knows full well why the Dems have failed.

          1. Richard

            Agreed. Tom likes to play nice, even as he says devastating things about our political economy.

        2. Carolinian

          I have nothing against Frank but we all know what the problem is. The question is, what to do about it?

          There’s that story in Links today about how the Chinese communist party suddenly changed but only after the death of Mao. So is the answer one funeral at a time? Given modern medical advancements Dem change may be a long way off….

      2. polecat

        But the 9.9 to .01 % HumptyDumpties have lotsa crazyglue at their disposal, making for easier fractured shell repair.

        They’re gonna need more then just a ‘push’ …

    3. flora

      Frank is a historian of US politics, especially of recent history, who also does journalism, imo. Wikipedia describes him this way. “Thomas Carr Frank is an American political analyst, historian, and journalist.”

      Frank isn’t a polemisist. He seems to take the long view of things, to describe in a way pointing to better paths forward – whether or not the current politicians see or respond. Burning his bridges with current politicians or parties would eliminate any chance they will ever listen or consider his current analysis in future. imo. Frank once described the audience he writes for as “the future”. His writing about the Dems’ descent reminds me of Kevin Phillips writing about the descent of the GOP from Nixon to today.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I agree, its a mistake to see him as a journalist, he is very much an historian, just one who looks at the present day from the perspective of a historian in the future. I find his writing both fascinating and thoroughly enlightening.

      2. Richard

        I used to admire Tom Frank back when he wrote for (and edited?) The Baffler in the 90s. Nobody else punctured 90s business triumphalism like he did. Nobody I saw was doing the work he, and that awesome little publication, were doing. Just wanted to give a public shout out for anyone who remembers the old funny and deeply subversive Baffler!
        Having seen T. Frank interviewed by RJ Eskow a couple of times recently, my impression is of deep resignation in general. He does take a long view, and doesn’t even make a lot of specific policy recommendations. He seems more, as you say, to be charting a long decline of Dem elites, while standing at a remove and reminding us of the clear betrayals of ordinary u.s. citizens. He definitely has a historians’ outlook, even within a journalist’s metier. This is one reason he seems to (and does) have integrity, and why he is so followed.

      3. makedoandmend

        The impression I get of Mr. Thomas Frank is of a person who is impelled to state the facts as he sees them but is now somewhat bemused that his cohort don’t like that he is holding a mirror up to theirs and his particular slice of society. They don’t like what they see in the mirror but, in order to change the image in the mirror, they would need to change the way they obtain their income. They are not going to change their material circumstances because of Mr. Frank. Better he were ignored and/or banished.

        He, on the other hand, is waiting for them to come to their senses. He seems (to me anyway) to feel that he belongs to their societal cohort and they should show some solidarity even if he’s being a pain in the bum.

        I think he’ll be waiting for a long, long time.

    4. Plenue

      Frank is a Liberal, and has been most of his life. This is why he’s worthwhile, because he’s from the heart of the prestigious university, ‘meritocratic’ beast, yet reality is so apparent that even he’s making these critiques and arriving at these conclusions.

      But there are limits to have far he’ll go. He equates liberal with the left, and views the New Deal as true liberalism, as opposed to a historical aberration. You’re never, ever going to get him to see that both parties fundamentally serve power and property.

  7. KLG

    Agree with him in all particulars or not, Thomas Frank has been very good since One Market Under God, but he does seem to have kept a faith in the national Democrat Party that is…misplaced, personally, professionally, politically (sorry for the alliteration, it just happened on a Saturday morning).

    1. JBird

      Along with drinking my morning coffee, I wrote this. It was suppose to be a quick (sigh) comment.

      …but he does seem to have kept a faith in the national Democrat Party that is…misplaced, personally, professionally, politically…

      This is something to take note of about both parties and their members, and why they have able to deceive so many people, during their rightwing shift. It is not happenstance.

      From what I can see, Thomas Frank has become something of an amateur historian because of the research needed for his writings so he sees, and is deep into the long history of what the party used to be. The party always had a platform for supporting the underclass against the elites of whatever time.

      If you take Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party as the ancestral party of the modern Democratic Party that’s 226 years of doing so, and in any Boomer’s lifetime, it was the party of FDR’s New Deal alliance from the 1930s to 1980s when the party began its stealth betrayal of its multi-century old base so that it could move rightward.

      That has been the Democratic Party’s great advantage in the past forty years as it, and the Republican Party too, stripped its base, its leadership, and political work of any real leftist, and even liberal, people, policies, and actions. It wasn’t an overnight process, and it only really got strong with Bill Clinton’s Democratic Leadership Council, the DLC, (the Clintons, the gift that never stops poisoning.) began to shape the party rightward into Nixon’s Republican Party. The Republican Party started its shift rightward into the authoritarian reactionary party it is now in response.

      They both used the corpses, like some insect predators use their victims, of their now dead varied factions and ideologies to camouflage their change into servants of the rich, the powerful, the elites, and of oligarchy. The Washington Consensus of reducing taxes, regulations, and free trade with Neoliberalism being the moderate form.

      Both parties until the 1980s always had strong liberal and conservative factions in support of business, farmers, reformers, civil rights, and so on, with the differences being in the strength, the emphasis of each party. The Republican Party use to be the party of Blacks because it was the party of Lincoln and the Democratic Party of the Ku Klux Klan. The reformist President Theodore Roosevelt was a Republican while the Democratic Party’s reformist President Franklin D. Roosevelt had to accept its Solid South rejection of most aid towards Blacks because the New Deal would have been rejected. (Regardless of party, each party’s efforts at reform and aid to the masses was blocked, or greatly weakened, if it aided Blacks, especially the Southern ones, as well.)

      So to elide into today’s conspiracy follies, American reactionaries, including families like the Kochs, DuPonts, Sacklers, Coors, and many others, over the decades, including people in the CIA, and the FBI, and many, many others began to push back against the New Deal, which after World War Two, included using the Red Scare to destroy the socialist and communist parties, and the most radical unions which included getting their help, and membership, from the general American union movement. Divide and conquer. With Nixon’s Southern Strategy and later the Powell Memo, the anti-left efforts started to really succeed in both major political parties.

      America has always been more left, and more complex politically, than many, now today, believe. It has been a campaign of several generations, perhaps three life times for the broad reactionary pro-money, not conservative, alliance to destroy even the knowledge of this. Just look at how the study of economics, especially in higher education, has been stripped into simplistic formulae that are used to create a worldview used to support neoliberal and modern conservative economics.

      The simplification also goes to the destruction of an active, functional, broad, deep organization in either party. Getting the bribes patronage donations from the moneyed interests is the object for campaigns, propaganda, and some largess or patronage; it does not mean using using the members of the party to run the party which then runs the government. That is one of the reasons our institutions at all levels across the political, social, business, economic, religious, and even non-profits’ spectra and areas are not only become increasingly incompetent, but failing. Their ostensible job now is not doing the organization’s job, but it is the money hunt, the acquiring patronage, largess, and bribes from the increasingly wealthy few who often have reactionary goals, that is the job while creating the illusion that they are doing what they were created to do.

      So because these changes has happened over decades, often hidden under other forms like fighting the Soviet Union or union corruption, the very large, even overwhelming changes have not been clearly seen by many, perhaps even most, Americans. Our memories, textbooks, and other media are still back then and not now. The nationwide rot has been hidden from us. Which makes it hard for people like Mr. Frank, or like me, to not only consciously see what is there, but to emotionally feel, and subconsciously own, it and not just in some abstract intellectual way.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        So perhaps a several-years program of Teach Ins and so forth at thousands of universities, colleges and elsewhere would be necessary to re-spread and then re-entrench this knowledge. With a broad and deep and detailed possession of this knowledge by a hundred million people or so, those hundred million people could begin the long project of de-engineering the anti-New Deal out of existence and re-engineering the New Deal ( or Newer Deal or New Deal 2.0) back into existence.

        Butch Swaim once said: ” Before there can be a revolution, there first has to be a revolution between the ears.” Butch Swaim was a real person who really said that. Perhaps the Teacher- Inners about the New Deal and the anti-New Deal will have to learn some history along the way their own selves.

  8. Wukchumni

    ‘We have caught (them) in the act’: Beavers are invading Alaska, the final frontier Vancouver Sun
    The first American to see the Kaweah River was mountain man Jedidiah Smith, in the late 1820’s.

    He wrote that it was one of the best rivers for beavers that he’d encountered. And that’s what the mountain men were all about, in terms of what they were looking for.

    When I tell locals of this, they are dumbfounded, as there hasn’t been beavers in the river since the late 19th century.

    1. Ted

      … and Edward Bernays strikes again. Even from the grave his trademark manufactured “spontaneous” spectacle is still the go to form of propaganda for US elites.

    2. Big River Bandido

      …which tells you something about the target audience for Broadway shows.

      (Hint: most people aren’t going to see something that costs between $300-$1000 per ticket.)

  9. Wukchumni

    Here in slightly smoky Mammoth, en route to Iva Bell hot springs and environs for a week of walking & soaking.

    You are truly cut off from information in the back of beyond, and you never know what’ll happen in the midst of.

    I was on a backpack trip when the Soviet Union fell, for instance.

  10. Chas


    How come U.S. backed Saudi Arabia hasn’t yet defeated the rebels in Yemen? Why are the rebels so resilient? Anybody here know if they have any reasonable chance of winning?

    1. Wukchumni

      If the House of Saud defeats their adversary, then they won’t need to buy replacement armaments from us, and that’s no good for business.

    2. The Rev Kev

      From what I can see, it is like Vietnam where they don’t have to win but just not lose. Of course they are driving the Saudis nuts with their cross-border raids, their sinking Saudi ships with missiles, and their bombardment of Saudi Arabia with missiles. One recently hit an oil refinery and started a fire I understand. Even if the Saudi Coalition took the whole country, it would be a constant sore like it was for the US in Iraq during the occupation years with endless casualties and ongoing costs. I don’t think that the Saudis have thought this all the way through.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Having a hard time finding that the Houthis sank a ship (though there’s a YouTube…). But they’re certainly attacking them, which is impressive in its own right:

        2. The Rev Kev

          A fair question that. By coincidence, there is an article just up at Asia Times mentioning these attacks at and I should have noted that it was not only Saudi ships being attacked but also UAE ships as well. There are sources like at that mention successful attacks and you have to read such reports with a grain of salt but I am saying that there have been successful attacks where the ships were either sunk or crippled and put out of the game.
          I do note that after one such attack back in 2016 on the UAE-operated catamaran HSV-2 Swift, the US Navy attacked a Houthi missile installation with Tomahawk missiles to help their Saudi counterparts in the blockade of Yemen. Sunk or not, I seriously doubt that some of those ships will ever return to service. The problem for the Saudi coalition is that the straights are so narrow, that you only need line of sight weaponry to attack a passing ship so any stealth characteristics on those ships are of little use. You do wonder too if there are US and western military advisers on board these ships which would not be such a stretch. After all, there is an Australian ex-special forces soldier in the UAE command structure and Australian ships have helped train Saudi ships in doing that blockade so it is likely that there are also western officers aboard Saudi and UAE ships too.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Isn’t the point to keep the army away from Riyadh while not committing the Royal Guard units to the engagement especially with internal divisions within the Saudi elites?

        My guess is understanding the Saudi political structure would be too much for U.S. actors, and beyond supporting the current regime, I don’t think people like Obama, Hillary, or Trump are going to make a move against anyone who strokes their ego. Having the U.S. monitoring the situation protects against a coup.

        To me, Saudi Arabia could easily go the way of the monarchies in Iraq or Syria in relatively short order.

      2. Daryl

        > From what I can see, it is like Vietnam where they don’t have to win but just not lose

        I’m pretty sure genocide of the Shia is not only on the table but the desired outcome.

    3. apberusdisvet

      The longer this insane war takes, the more $$ for the MIC that, more than likely, supplies both sides; unfortunately true for far too many US R2P wars and invasions.

    4. Katniss Everdeen

      So, what’s this “winning” of which you speak?

      The most “sophisticated” and expensive military in the galaxy hasn’t been able to figure that one out yet.

      They should just do it the good old-fashioned american way–claim “victory” and keep fighting anyway.

      1. Jean

        Excuse me? We kicked The Nutmeg Republic’s ass when we defeated Granada and rescued those “medical students.”

      2. Doug Hillman

        War is a racket. Winning may be a successsful land and resource grab, but for some it is simply racketeering — perpetual mass-murder for profit.

    5. Shane Mage

      They are called “rebels” only because Putin and Xi, brown nosing Obama, voted in the UN to establish a Saudi puppet as “president” of Yemen.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I seem to recall that in his “election” as president that there was no other candidate allowed to stand and the United Nations was cool with that.

    6. jsn

      Sic Semper Tyrannis and Moon of Alabama cover this analytically, South Front is good for news.

      Short version is Yemenies are comfortable with a very spare level of development and have something of a warrior culture. They like to fight and have been a thorn in the side of the Saudis for a long time.

      Saudi vanity sees them as pests and inferiors, so set about to exterminate them, much as the US did to native Americans and apparently there are enough Custers in the US military that we’ve committed to “help” one of our better arms customers “maintain demand”.

    7. PlutoniumKun

      I don’t think they have much chance. The Saudi’s and UAE have identified their achilles heel – the civilian population behind them. It will take time, but by starving them out the rebellion will not be able to maintain itself. It also looks like the UAE has managed their side of the war much better than the Saudi’s – they’ve found local proxies willing to fight for money who actually can fight. By arming them as a spearhead they have made very significant ground.

      The Houthi’s are also very dependent on the huge stores of arms they inherited from the Yemeni army. These stores can’t go on forever, and they have no real way of importing more. Its not like Afghanistan or Vietnam where porous borders allow endless replenishment of ammunition.

    8. Todde

      Egypt had a hard time with Yemen a couple decades ago.

      Tjey can definitely survive against a stronger military force

    9. Plenue

      The Houthis control mostly highlands that substantially negate any Saudi/UAE advantage in technology, especially in armor. The Saudi Coalition can take and hold flat desert easily enough, but once they enter mountainous terrain their offensives grind to a halt.

      Just saying ‘Houthis rebels’, like the MSM does constantly, is a bit misleading. The Houthis has always had the active support of a sizable chunk of the Yemeni regular military, and access to its voluminous weapons stockpiles. Yemen is a poor country, but one thing it has lots of is weapons, including many ballistic missiles that the Houthi side has used to great effect, hitting targets as far away as Riyadh. One of the constant litanies in the media is that the Houthis are ‘Iranian backed’, but there’s never been any compelling evidence provided for this. I’ve never even seen a plausible explanation for how Iran would get equipment to Yemen, since the entire country is under blockade and the Saudis bomb even fishing boats regularly.

      The Houthis side also has plenty of motivation, not least of which is not starving, while as far as I can tell the Gulf State militaries have little morale. The Gulf States are essentially fake countries kept afloat by copious amounts of oil money. Before the war their militaries were well paying jobs where you didn’t have to do much and got a fancy uniform out of the deal. The Coalition has been forced to make heavy use of mercenaries, because the national troops aren’t reliable. The Saudis in particular have shifted almost entirely to an air war, a la the US in late stage Vietnam, while the UAE does the bulk of the ground fighting.

      All of the above being said however, I think the Saudi Coalition will ultimately win. They have absolutely no scruples, and have zeroed in on mass starvation as their strategy to force the Houthis to submit. They’re focusing all their efforts on taking the Houthis last port of Al Hudaidah, with the intent of cutting off the already completely inadequate food supply entirely. The rebels are holding out so far, but I don’t think they can keep it up forever.

      It doesn’t help that the Houthis shot themselves in the foot when they assassinated the former president Saleh, which caused a number of Yemeni army units that had been on their side to turn against them, wreaking havoc ever since.

    1. georgieboy

      this will be interesting. inn some cases one side of a street will get the incentive, the other side won’t. expect investors to start at the margins of these Opportunity Zones and work their way in.

      Sean Parker deserves some credit for being a kind of anti-Zuckerberg, at least to some extent.

      1. jhallc

        An unlimited 401K for billionaires to park their huge capital gains in, without paying taxes what could go wrong?

        “To help fight gentrification, impact investors can offer cheap renovation loans and subsidized mortgages so locals can benefit from rising property values instead of getting priced out.”

        “Can offer” seems a little weak and the folks living in these areas are likely renters and can’t afford to make loan/mortgage payments no matter how “Cheap”. No mention of a required minimum percentage being kept at affordable be;ow market rent or cost.
        Color me skeptical.

        1. Mel

          That’s life in a financialized economy. Real productivity and real producers need finance, but finance doesn’t need real productivity. Finance can go it alone.
          That’s the ultimate advantage of a Job Guarantee over Universal Income: it’s imaginable that you could draft the Job Guarantee paperwork to specify that you get at least one real benefit for the money spent.

          1. ObjectiveFunction

            “Real productivity and real producers need finance, but finance doesn’t need real productivity”

            Xactly! Brilliantly phrased.

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      From the article:

      Big money can come from a host of sources: real estate developers, PE funds, venture capital, investment banks, wealthy individuals, family offices and mutual funds. And there are many places for big money to go. Rural communities can host projects that need wide spaces, like farming, energy, mining, data centers and labs. Cities are likely to attract real estate developers, startups and venture funds.

      A gigantic taxpayer funded looting opportunity declaring any depressed area fair game for a criminal pile on of all the usual suspects. The only thing this will do for the poor is kick them out of their homes, places to live, and send them packing off to what ever miserable location they can find that hasn’t been OZoned.

      1. Olga

        The article gives the game away mid-point:
        “As we said, it sounds too good to be true. If everything goes right, a big slice of the estimated $6.1 trillion of paper profits currently resting on American balance sheets is about to go to work to revitalize America’s depressed communities. If all goes wrong, however, it will prove to be one of the biggest tax giveaways in American history, all in service of gentrifying neighborhoods and expelling local residents.”
        But, yeah… for some, it may be the only option left.

        1. newcatty

          There are many places for big money to go. Rural communities can host projects that need wide spaces, like farming, energy, mining, data centers and labs.

          The use of the word “host” would be perfectly ironic, if not so awfully accurate. Those rural communities would be the “host ” for the parasitic “big money” benefactors to swoop in and colonize the areas. Just what kind of farms (big ag), energy(big oil and other extractive industries), mining (destructive to environment and ecology) , labs ( big pharma and toxic chemical ) will the “sources” fund? If there were to be a small scale, sustainable farms, for example, that would truly be of benefit. Color me skeptical, too.

  11. Iguanabowtie

    Reading about Khanna’s quasi-job-guarantee, sounded like a reasonable compromise position, and possible intermediary step towards a real guarantee. Then came this:

    “To incentivize hiring and cover their overhead, the bill would pay employers up to 120 percent of workers’ wages (unionized employers would get as much as 150 percent). ”

    Over 100%?! So not just subsidized labor, but free labor with a corporate-handout-flavored cherry on top. I get that marginal employees can produce negative value for their employers, but shouldnt a 10-30% subsidy fix that problem? (We’re not talking about employing kleptomaniacs & serial arsonists, employees can be fired under the plan) And if the government is going to be employing people outright, shouldn’t they try to serve the public interest instead of providing profit-motivated businesses with serfs?

    On the plus side, maybe I personally could hire a half dozen grape peelers and palm-frond wavers & live off the bonus subsidy.

    1. anon

      Living in 24/7 fear of homelessness in his District 17, due to the rampant: corruption; racism; classism; misogyny; and ageism in this Pay to Play Silicon Valley, and State — none of which he’s addressed — I’ve nicknamed him RoBama (Trojan Horse 2).

      His initial Congressional run funders — which included Peter Thiel — along with the dirty tricks played in his campaign, still speak volumes. It’s been highly disappointing to watch one very popular online personality — who had rightful dislike of him — change his views, but he doesn’t live in Khanna’s District (I believe this blogger lives there though).

      My first and last call to RoBama’s District office, regarding a huge national issue which is most surely one part of the deaths of despair issue, was utterly brushed off. I’m positive he’s aspiring solely towards becoming POTUS, and I fear his tremendous wealth, connections, and quick mind may well get him there. This 2014 Fortune piece on him is instructive: Blackstone’s top lobbyist finally found a Democrat he likes.

      1. anon

        And yes, I do know that Wilson Sonsini Alum, Ro Khanna’s net wealth, noted at $27 Million Dollars last March (even wealthier than California RepublicRat, Nanny Pelosi — Maryland Expat, and, clearly, Khanna’s Congressional Mentor — who ranked #5 among the obscenely wealthy California Congressional House Members), is said to lie with his Wife – the daughter of a quite powerful Ohio Republican, Monte Ahuja, and clearly a Goldman Sachs Fan if one peruses this link:

        The bulk of Khanna’s (D-Fremont [actually the whole, or sections of: Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Santa Clara, Fremont, Newark, North San Jose, and Milpitas. – anon]) reported $27 million in assets belonged to his wife, Ritu Khanna. She was the richest spouse in the delegation. About $20 million of her assets are spread among 500 different investments, including a few trusts. Ritu Khanna’s father, Monte Ahuja, is founder and chief executive of Transtar Industries Inc., a transmission distributor.

        Khanna represents Silicon Valley and reported $500,000 worth of tech stocks. He also reported owing more than $50,000 in student loans [1].

        But look at what all of that spousal™ wealth and connections – in addition to her own upper middle class (like Ro Khanna’s) standing before her marriage— have done for the stunningly powerful California RepublicRat, Dianne Feinstein‒[Dick]Blum, whom, apparently, we never may be rid of, unless she dies in her sleep .. kinda like Kissinger, Poppy, Cheney, Clinton, etcetera.

        [1] I’m curious as to whether there may have been an omission of the Fremont Condo — which he’s noted as being ‘his condo’ — Khanna and his wife reside in with their child. The average 3 bedroom Fremont Condo is currently insanely priced around $1M plus, if he mortgaged it before he married her in September 2015 — say while he was working for Wilson Sonsini after his DC Obama stint with the United States Department of Commerce — the remaining mortgage, and the market value, should be showing under his assets and liabilities. If they bought it together post marriage, at least half of the related assets and liabilities pertaining to it, should generally be showing under both of their names.

    2. nihil obstet

      The interesting question is what such a bill would do to wages. The employer would get more money for paying the people more — at 120% of wages, the employer would get a two buck per hour bonus for $10 per hour pay, or four bucks per hour for $20 per hour pay. It’s easy to game. Is it worth the employer’s time to churn lots of high-paid subsidized workers through 18 months of replacing minimum wage workers in dead-end positions? (And don’t tell me this will be well managed when we currently have massive amounts of wage theft in the U.S., both from misclassifying employees as contractors and from failure to pay overtime. Enforce current labor laws, then talk about how much oversight boutique programs will get.)

      1. anon

        Enforce current labor laws, then talk

        Indeed, I would just add to that, update and add more teeth to those labor laws.That’s not on the agenda though, not at all. Congress appears to prefer skyrocketing suicide rates — while much of their residential Real Estate makes more money in a day, than some of their constituents make in a year or more — than do anything for the citizens they proclaim to serve.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “The Myth of Russia’s Arctic Rule”

    Maybe a bit disingenuous that article? Sure the Russians can be boxed in this massive region. But flip it around. The Russians by the same token can keep others out and defend on interior lines. Doors work both way after all. In addition, that advantage only exists in case a war breaks out and I cannot see NATO trying to blockade shipping traveling through these regions in peace time.
    Russia has already established an Arctic Strategic Military Command and has set up six new military bases throughout the Arctic. They also plan on opening 10 Arctic search-and-rescue stations, 16 deep-water ports, 13 airfields, and 10 air-defense radar stations across its Arctic. Bomber and fighter planes will also operate from these bases and the Russian have already formed army brigades to operate in this region.
    This region is a game changer. Within a decade or so, the Northern Sea Route will be passable to shipping for 9 months a year and could cut down travel time between Europe and Asia by as much as 50%-60% compared to current routes through the Panama or Suez Canals. There is an article that discusses this at but the long and short of it is that over time, this region will be a major shipping route that cannot be ignored and the Russians are securing their future early.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Worms frozen in permafrost for up to 42,000 years come back to life Siberian Times


    What else can come back to life?

    Will they all be nice and polite to humans?

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      The worm story will send our billionaires scrambling to hire some geniuses who can research whether the worms’ secret for revivification can open up eternity for Bezos, Musk, et al via cryogenics. Before they commit too much of their filthy lucre, they should check out the “TNG” episode where a frozen billionaire awakes to find his money and power irrelevant in the Federation.

      1. pretzelattack

        sounds like a ripoff (or homage to) of a much earlier tz episode about some bankrobbers who try to escape with their loot via suspended animation for 100 years.

          1. ambrit

            Cordwainer Smith is great. This was the pseudonym of Paul M A Linebarger. (1913-1966) He is credited with writing the first textbook covering psychological warfare, and worked for the American Government in ‘sensitive’ areas. So, the subject of ‘Underpeople,’ biologically “inferior” engineered beings is a natural fit.
            Stretch it a bit and “Deplorables” covers for ‘Underpeople’ quite well.

      2. The Rev Kev

        You know, there was a Star Trek TNG episode that had precisely that idea. They encountered a derelict Earth ship that still had three people in cryonic chambers from the time when it was fashionable to try to escape death by freezing themselves in the hopes that a future time could cure what medical problems that they had.
        One was a financier who, upon waking, insisted on a phone call to his lawyer’s office and asking about reading the Wall Street Journal if I recall correctly. There was interesting interplay between people from the 21st and 24th century people-

        1. ambrit

          I always considered that episode to be a parody of the ‘Kahn’ plotline in the Original Star trek canon.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I’m trying to image Elon Musk as that 21st century financier thrown into such a 24th century. I don’t think that he would get it but would struggle.

            1. ambrit

              I’m imagining Musk having his Cybernauts build a freezing facility for himself and other ‘worthy’ elites at Sydonia (on Mars) with the building having his (Musk’s) face on top of it. Something big enough to be discernible from orbit.

    2. Zachary Smith

      Long-dormant bacteria and viruses, trapped in ice and permafrost for centuries, are reviving as Earth’s climate warms – 4 May 2017

      Quite a few, it seems. I noticed anthrax, botulism, and smallpox right off the bat. It also mentions how the US dug up some permafrost bodies a few years ago to get samples of the 1918 Flu. To keep us all safer and healthier, of course.

      Very likely there will be more surprises as the Far North melts.

      1. pretzelattack

        i remember how archaeologists had to wear protective suits, digging into plague pits several hundred years old.

    3. polecat

      Yes, this kind of discovery could spawn the kernels of a good science-fiction thriller …

    4. jhallc

      Waiting for the day Ted Williams’ frozen Head Comes back to life. Maybe they can graft it on to someone like Zaphod Beeblebrox.

  14. edmondo

    If Deng Xiaoping could Capture China’s Communist Party, You Can Capture the Democratic Party

    Why would anyone want it? It’s like buying a car that you are not allowed to drive, never moves forward and only turns right. For the People!

    1. BobWhite

      Reading this article, the author makes some questionable black-and-white assumptions, including:
      “The Democratic Party does not systematically kill progressives and democratic socialists. It hasn’t recruited gangs of youths to identify Bernie Sanders supporters and beat the snot out of them. ”

      While they may not physically “kill” or “beat” progressives, they certainly try to kill their campaigns, and beat their supporters through media (social and MSM).

      Still, there have been some small gains with progressive wins (like Philadelphia and NYC), but it will clearly be an uphill battle to take over the party (and keep it)… like pushing a car up a hill with a rope…

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      The Democratic Party possesses numerous valuable weapons caches and ammo dumps, and communications infrastructures, among other things.

      People who think these assets are worth conquering and re-purposing should go right ahead and try to do so. People who think it is a lost cause should go right ahead and do something else. Over time, the two TAGs ( Theory Action Groups) can compare notes on how what is working for whom

      1. Richard

        Well, people are animals too. Crazy, patriarchal, homicidal primates to be exact.
        The big question each of us face every day:
        “Okay, now which one of these crazy monkeys am I going to trust?”

        1. knowbuddhau

          Who you call a monkey, bub? Monkeys have tails, us apes don’t. And not all people are patriarchal. And oh I give up. jk

          Sheesh, did no one read the memo on keeping yer ontogeny and philogeny straight? The highly biased samples we experience of our respective societies should not be confused or conflated with ALL of humanity. Ffs.

          Although we humans did, of course, “Humanity” didn’t loose the industrial revolution on the world. “Humanity” as a whole didn’t invent and use, damn near in the same breath, atomic weapons. “Humanity” didn’t wire the globe and put unblinking eyes in the sky. Sick to death of reading that.

          We, us high-tech, heavy duty, industrial strength types, we did that, with my particular peeps, Anglo-American white bread men, playing an especially egregious role, and we should own that, not use the rest of the world, esp. the Indigenous, as human shields for our guilt.

          1. Richard

            I stand thoroughly corrected. The penalty one pays for overgeneralizing for the sake of rhetoric (if you want to call my silly monkey joke “rhetoric”).

            1. blennylips

              I’d wipe away the tears, but long since ran out of those…

              If ever there was a thread calling out for a book recommendation, here it is:

              Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
              by Daniel Quinn

              The narrator of this extraordinary tale is a man in search for truth. He answers an ad in a local newspaper from a teacher looking for serious pupils, only to find himself alone in an abandoned office with a full-grown gorilla who is nibbling delicately on a slender branch. “You are the teacher?” he asks incredulously. “I am the teacher,” the gorilla replies.

              Philosophical fiction: Daniel Quinn’s “Ishmael” and “The Story of B”

              Disclaimer: Ishmael is a story. It is philosophical fiction. It is a story though that contains references to the current real-life problems affecting humanity. The story describes the symptoms, offers a diagnosis, as well as a prescription for possible improvement. Though this novel attempts to be in accord with scientific fact, it is not a science textbook. Nor one on mythology, anthropology, ecology, etc., though it approaches these topics. It not only is a story, it is a BIG story. It goes “meta”, so to speak, and seeks what may be called a grand narrative in its attempt to gain some perspective on the millions of years of human evolution and existence. Quinn has acknowledged this in interviews by taking on the point of view of an “anthropologist from Mars” and imagining what such a being would make of human life with all its triumphs and tragedies.

  15. Kurtismayfield

    This is just another handout to fast food and Wal Mart.. who will gobble up all of that “job training” funding without blinking. The whole point of a Government Job Guarantee is so that you set a floor that the corpoations have to complete against, not to subsidize their employees.

  16. JacobiteInTraining

    Many Bothans died to bring us this information — I have stumbled upon a KGB spycraft training short, detailing how Russian Spies are able to ingratiate themselves into both classical ‘elite’ pastimes, as well as working class modes, for the inevitable honeypot attacks to blackmail unsuspecting ‘muricans.

    Bonus spycraft tip – it details diabolical methods of facial makeup useful for defeating the ubiquitous capitalist facial recognition software used to attempt to capture them on their missions to degrade and defile our precious bodily fluids….

    1. Craig H.

      Is that the video Jack D. Ripper was shown in his retention-of-purity-of-essence training?

  17. marym

    Re: Nation post about 6-year-old abused in an immigrant shelter and “forced to sign a statement confirming that she understood it was her responsibility to stay away from her abuser”

    As indicated in the Nation article, the ACLU recently obtained documents spanning 2009-2014 regarding abuse of immigrants.


    This week the ACLU announced that they have received documents from a FOIA request regarding human rights abuses by CBP and other agencies. They released a report and will be documents over the coming months.

    We have received more than 30,000 pages of internal government documents detailing this abuse between 2009 and 2014 throughout the southern border region. These records, obtained through an ACLU Freedom of Information Act request and subsequent litigation, offer a glimpse into an immigration enforcement system that had been plagued by brutality and lawlessness long before Trump was elected.

    This week ProPublica published a report of abuses in children’t shelters from as far back as 2015.


    Using state public records laws, ProPublica has obtained police reports and call logs concerning more than 70 of the approximately 100 immigrant youth shelters run by the U.S. Health and Human Services department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement. While not a comprehensive assessment of the conditions at these shelters, the records challenge the Trump administration’s assertion that the shelters are safe havens for children. The reports document hundreds of allegations of sexual offenses, fights and missing children.

    The ProPublica post also includes some history of the shelter system.

    The network of federally funded shelters sprang up after HHS took over the responsibility of caring for unaccompanied children arriving at the border in 2003…

    The shelters — whose operators have been paid about $4 billion over the past five years — were designed as temporary way stations, where new arrivals could get acclimated while staffers tried to locate family members who could care for them while their immigration cases wound through the courts.

    There are now approximately 100 shelters scattered from Seattle to suburban New York, but concentrated in Texas and Arizona.

  18. dcblogger

    Just one more reason to dismantle the IMF and World Bank, to prevent China from taking them over.

  19. crittermom

    Today’s photo of a flying fish is absolutely awesome!

    I will admit, however, that it left me thinking those fish are probably spending more & more time in the air as our oceans become more polluted.

  20. PlutoniumKun

    After Last Year’s Hurricanes, Caribbean Lizards Are Better at Holding on for Dear Life The Atlantic

    He found that, on average, the post-hurricane lizards had toe pads that were 6 to 9 percent bigger than those of pre-hurricane individuals, and front legs that were 2 percent longer. This wasn’t because the bodies of specific lizards had changed; there’s no evidence that the toes of adult anoles can grow by that amount. Instead, the storms had simply wiped out all the lizards with small toe pads. By selecting for individuals that were better at clinging to surfaces—and presumably at withstanding high winds—the storms had changed the average proportions of the population.

    I can’t help wondering if there is a new colony of very small toe-padded lizards on some island 50 miles downwind….

    1. ambrit

      I’d like to write an article titled: “District of Colombia Chameleons Are Better at Weathering Storms After Katrina.”
      Institutional Evolution: Survival of the Connectedmost.

  21. BoyDownTheLane

    Did everyone miss this, or decide not to post it?

    Disney Buys Most of Fox
    July 27th, 2018

    Via: Los Angeles Times:
    Walt Disney Co. and 21st Century Fox Inc. shareholders on Friday overwhelmingly approved Disney’s proposed $71.3-billion takeover of much of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox — a milestone in a merger that is expected to dramatically reshape the entertainment industry.

    1. BobWhite

      Just heard a *funny thing about Disneyland (or Disney World?) workers, referring to the place as Mouschwitz… (Mouse and Auschwitz)

      Then Disney found out and made them stop… so now they call it Duckau (Duck and Dachau)

      *Both funny and sad, I guess… but points for creativity!

  22. Anon

    New York acts to boot Spectrum cable out of the state (Bob). Bob: “Strange story. Why the Friday PM news dump? It should be a wildly popular move. Why do it on a Friday?”

    Charter has an earnings conference call on Tuesday. The state might have timed this to ensure the C-levels would have to explain to the shareholders why they f***** up.

    1. bob

      I tried looking into who might be benefiting from this.

      I found this guy-

      Career repub pol who was just recently appointed by Cuomo to the NYS PSC.

      This should be at the top of his highlight reel-

      The makeup of the PSC seems to tilt toward Frontier, but frontier doesn’t seem to be capable.

      Didn’t know about the call, but a monday release would have been better. No weekend to script the BS.

      Never launch a coup on a friday

  23. Susan the other

    The “scutoid” – nature’s precursor to origami. Fascinating how dna designs proteins which grow into triangles which ease the fitting of epithelial cells together in strong flexible bonds. Easements appear to occur when one cell cluster creates this gusset at one end, creating a six-sided cluster at one end – leaving the original five at the other and it fits perfectly to its neighbor who has grown its triangle at the opposite end. I really don’t think that was random evolution in action… but maybe.

    1. Richard

      Scutoid is the best thing of the day, I proclaim. All hail scutoid! From the science to the look to the pleasing name, everyone’s wild over the new shape!
      there, that out to earn me a little $ in my side gig as a scutoid publicist

  24. Synoia

    How Bad Karma and Bad Engineering Doomed an Ancient Cambodian Capital

    It is rarely “Bad Engineering.” It is typically Bad Management who do not accept what the engineers recommend, because it costs too much or would take too long, or both.

    Dams are TEMPORARY structures. Why? Recuse the weight of the contain water will move, or deform, the “solid earth” and the Dam will eventually fail.

  25. Richard

    For all the J. Dore viewers out there, a question. Have you noticed a lot less content from Jimmy online lately? Me too. Wondering if anyone out there might be privy to some details as to why. My guess is he’s just taking a break from it for awhile; he’s mentioned several times in the past how the news coverage actually depresses him, and that live shows really seem to energize him.
    Okay, I take back the qualifier “actually” before the verb “depresses”. Down with unfair adjectives!

  26. VietnamVet

    Since this is Saturday, there is no chart of Friday’s tech crash. It wasn’t just Facebook. Intel stock fell 8.59%. Interesting. This a founding Silicon Valley monopoly. After firing 12,000 employees two years ago and losing a CEO recently, the company announced that it has postponed its 12 nanometer CPUs till 2019. Its competitor AMD is now sampling 7 nanometer processors. Hopefully, competition has returned to the computer market. But, with tariffs and Donald Trump’s uncertainty (plus firestorms and the homeless) is gathering over the Bay Area.

  27. drumlin woodchuckles

    About the Hastert Rule . . .

    Wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing if Sandersocialists could take over the Democratic Party? And a Sandersocialist Democratic Party could become the House Majority? And they were to adopt a ” Majority of the Majority Rule” of their very own?

    And wouldn’t it be a beautiful laugh-worthy irony if they were to call it . . . ” The Hastert Rule” ? The Democratic Speaker of the House could thank the Republican Minority for inventing such a good rule. I would laugh and laugh. What would the Republicans say?

    1. Olga

      Well, that is very nice of mr. lenin-traitor – but once JA is out of the embassy, there are no guarantees. As I said a few days ago, UK has recently reversed itself on the long held standard not to extradite people if there were a death penalty lurking about as a possibility.

      1. ambrit

        My money’s on Assange ending up in Guantanamo Bay prison camp.
        Camp X Ray for the lead man in WikileaX.

  28. Pat

    Regarding the abuse of the terms liberal, progressive and yes conservative, my answer would be to adopt a couple of rather long descriptions:
    Selfish Rich A**hole
    Wholly owned subsidiary of Selfish Rich A**hole

    SRA would include but not be limited to Bezos, Thiel, the Devoes, Rahm Emmanuel, the Kochs, Sheldon Adelson, Trump and since it isn’t about party would be cross party. Pretty much anyone who finances campaigns, think tanks, and or self finances their own but clearly has no interest in the public good qualifies.
    The Subsidiarys are most of our political and pundit class. If your campaign wasn’t funded mostly by small donations, you work as a consultant or for a think tanks funded by a SRA, or you are from a media organization that is part of the big five you are a wholly owned subsidiary.

    Just a thought. And if even if we can’t get it to common accepted usage, I do suggest we adopt some form for the most egregious of our oligarch/political power players.

  29. ambrit

    Something for the ‘Zeitgeist File.’
    I attended the local bi-annual gun show this morning, (Saturday.) I sold one of my Milsurp rifles for money to pay some bills. (I made a 50% return on my original investment made seven years ago.) If Social Security has COLA increases, these increases have absolutely no correlation with the basic costs of utilities and food, much less things like rent or transportation.
    The number of vendors was significantly reduced from four or five years ago, as in roughly half. The crowd was much thinner than other crowds from as recently as two years ago. A lot of the ‘wanderers’ were just window shopping. I wandered about with my ‘piece’ offerings and wearing a home made sandwich board sign describing the firearms on offer. I was not alone in this endeavour. People were walking up to vendors’ tables and handing over weapons for inspection and ‘offers.’ Again, I emphasize that the crowd of patrons was thin. Several vendors mentioned that business has been slow for over a year now. One opined that this was a natural slack season response to the overhype of the pre 2016 election hysteria of: “OMG, the [Insert name of desired bogeyman here]’s are going to take our precious guns away!” The same vendors mentioned that money was harder to find in peoples pockets than previously.
    Additionally, event sponsors have begun to cancel already arranged shows. One woman said that she had had her table rent for a show down on the Gulf Coast returned recently. The event had been cancelled for lack of interest by enough vendors! Seeing the lacklustre vendor presence at the local show reinforced this observation. The local show, usually bi-annual, has been reduced to annual status. I don’t know about other areas, but the North American Deep South seems to have passed ‘Peak Gun Show’ conditions.
    Are Gun Shows a leading indicator? They were definitely in ‘bubble’ territory before and it looks to have been popped. Perhaps it’s an indicator for disposable income? Time will tell.

Comments are closed.