Links 8/1/18

Body-snatching fungi that give rise to sex-crazed cicadas before ripping off their genitals found to contain compounds seen in hallucinogenic drugs Daily Mail

Are Stock Buybacks Starving the Economy? The Atlantic

Junk Bonds Are Treasures When No One Is Borrowing Bloomberg

Online Lenders and Payment Companies Get a Way to Act More Like Banks NYT

Where do people get money to buy California homes these days? Often, from mom and dad KPCC. “It’s almost like we’re feudal now. You inherit the manor from your family if you happen to be a landowner. If you’re not a landowner, it’s really hard to get in.”

A ‘unique’ opportunity for investors spells mass eviction for tenants Los Angeles Times

Hamptons home sales slow as wealthy grow cautious FT


Opinion: Donald Trump is playing good cop/bad cop with Iran Deutsche Welle

Direct warfare with the US is out of the question for Iran, analysts say — here’s why CNBC

Ordinary Iranians on Trump Talks Offer: ‘Why Not Try the Americans?’ NYT


Brussels willing to accept fudge on vital Brexit pact FT. Paragraph 13: “The main condition would be a watertight backstop arrangement, enshrined in the withdrawal treaty, to avoid a hard border dividing the island of Ireland under all circumstances. Such measures would in practice keep much of Northern Ireland’s economy under EU legal control, something Mrs May has said is intolerable.” So the Irish border circle remains circular and not squared.

Chances of no-deal Brexit growing by the day, says Hunt The Scotsman (Clive).

M20 could be giant lorry park for years in event of no-deal Brexit – report Guardian

Britain’s car industry cautions: No-deal Brexit is our nightmare Reuters

North Korea

New N. Korea missiles unlikely to doom talks, experts say Agence France Presse


China still focused on reducing debt, creating jobs despite trade row with United States South China Morning Post

The Western Illusion of Chinese Innovation Project Syndicate

How the “Happiest Muslims in the World” are Coping with Their Happiness art of life in chinese central asia

New Cold War

“You are Criminalizing Diplomacy” (video) CNN. “Anderson Cooper joined by Russia expert Stephen Cohen and Max Boot debate if Trump-Putin summit at Helsinki was a positive thing.”

A Russian Perspective On Foreign Affairs: An Interview with Konstantin Zatulin The National Interest

Suzerain-Vassals Relations: How Trump Shapes His European Policy Valdai Club

Let Mikey do it? Maybe not. Sic Semper Tyrannis

Russian “Agent” And A GOP Operator Left A Trail Of Cash, Documents Reveal Buzzfeed News

Trump Transition

1 big thing: Trump power & contagion Axios

Trump launches extraordinary attack on Koch brothers after oil tycoons refuse to back Republican candidate Independent. The #Resistance adopts the Koch Brothers in 3, 2, 1…

In a new book, Bob Woodward plans to reveal the ‘harrowing life’ inside Donald Trump’s White House WaPo. The title: Fear.

All Eyes on Paul Manafort Trial This Week Courthouse News

DoD unveils final JEDI Cloud RFP, sticks with single-vendor approach Federal News Radio (CO).

Behind The Magical Thinking Center for a New American Security. Drones.

Democrats in Disarray

Tom Steyer’s $110 million plan to redefine the Democrats Politico. Clinton blew through $1.4 billion, so that’s not very much.

Democrats Will Regret Becoming the Anti-Russia Party Foreign Policy

Facebook Fracas

Facebook finds ‘sophisticated’ efforts to disrupt elections AP. Paragraph 14: “Facebook says the pages ran about 150 ads for $11,000 on Facebook and Instagram, paid for in U.S. and Canadian dollars.” And Paragraph 13: “This time, though, the pages Facebook found focused ‘exclusively at engaging and influencing the left end of the American political spectrum,’ according to the Atlantic Council researchers.”

U.S. homeland security secretary commends Facebook action Reuters

The Democrats’ milquetoast plan to rein in Facebook is actually pretty risky The Week

Facebook data privacy scandal: A cheat sheet Tech Republic

Big Brother Is Watching You

Eight AT&T Buildings and Ten Years of Litigation: Shining a Light on NSA Surveillance EFF

Class Warfare

Accidents at Amazon: workers left to suffer after warehouse injuries Guardian

Taxi strikes to continue across Spain after talks with government fail El Pais

The Danger of Invisible Government Deeds Wired. Privatization.

The Fiscal Firebomb Looming for Small Cities in Illinois Governing. Pensions.

The Market Police The Boston Review (Olga).

The Worker’s Economy as Global Strategy Grassroots Economic Organizing

Comcast installed Wi-Fi gear without approval—and this city is not happy Ars Technica

Major Quantum Computing Advance Made Obsolete by Teenager Quanta

Audit the algorithms that are ruling our lives FT

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. fresno dan

    The Market Police The Boston Review (Olga).

    If claims on the material world and on our collective labor are ultimately decided on by us all, shouldn’t they be distributed on some basis of equity or efficiency rather than whatever property titles happen to have been inherited from the past?
    But the project was also broader than that. One of Slobodian’s great insights is that the neoliberal program was not simply a move in the distributional fight, but rather about establishing a social order in which distribution was not a political question at all. For money and markets to be the central organizing principle of society, they have to appear natural—beyond the reach of politics.
    That GDP has increased essentially every year for the last 50 is an incessant topic. The current distribution of that bounty is treated as if it is some law of nature, instead of a carefully and corruptly contrived artifice.

    1. Goyo Marquez

      It seems to me the issue is democracy, I.e. “tyranny of the majority.” The rich oppose tyranny of the majority because they’re afraid, no doubt rightly so, of loosing their stuff. But the left also oposses tyranny of the majority when it comes to the things that are important to them, i.e. the moral laws the left wishes to impose on the majority.

      Anyway you cut it both the left and the plutocrats oppose rule by the people.

      Me, I kind of think, tyranny of the majority beats the tyranny of the rich or the tyranny of the enlightened.

  2. Kevin C Smith

    Silicon Valley is less of a meritocracy that in the past, because without affluent parents backing you it is quite hard to break in.

    Similar to the Ivy League — less of a meritocracy, because of all the rich kids and legacies [lots of overlap between those populations].

    I trained in derm at Mayo Clinic, and noticed that the residents who went to med school at Harvard and Yale were good, but the really great ones tended to have come from places like U. of Nebraska and U. of Alberta, which were a lot more like meritocracies. Also, cost of living in Rochester MN was pretty low, so you didn’t need money from your family to be able to do a residency at Mayo.

    1. Shane Mage

      Another word processor that “corrects” *than* and changes it to *that*. They should be outlawed!

  3. ObjectiveFunction

    Re Bob Woodward, I suppose the epigram is fairly obvious:

    Oderint, dum metuant
    — Gaius Caligula

    (of course we’ve been making horses, or parts of horses, into Senators for some time already, nei? )

    1. Plenue

      One suggestion is that the treatment of Incitatus by Caligula was an elaborate prank, intended to ridicule and provoke the senate, rather than a sign of insanity, or perhaps a form of satire, with the implication that a horse could perform a senator’s duties.[4]


  4. emorej a hong kong

    Steyer looks very well positioned for a 2020 Presidential candidacy. A healthy Bernie should coast to the Democratic nomination (unless the Dem establishment’s dirty tricks against him are successfully ramped up to 5-fold or 10-fold), leaving many traditionally influential people looking for an anybody-but-Bernie independent candidate.

    Until 2016, Bloomberg’s experience as NYC Mayor would have given him a huge advantage over Steyer in securing that role, and in being perceived by voters as a plausible President. But that was then. Now its value is probably outweighed the image of being close to Wall Street. And having a Jewish name will hurt the prospects of a “friend of Wall Street” much more than it hurts a “Green Mountain enemy of Wall Street”.

    The Steyer positioning and infrastructure described in the Politico article seem to indicate that, if Steyer declares, everybody who wants unity in the anybody-but-Bernie-or-Trump crowd will pressure Bloomberg to step aside.

    Of course, an independent supported by Bernie-fearing Democrats is the single most likely contributor to Trump being re-elected.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Remember, Hillary was supported by very loyal Democrats in the primaries. Her real power was nostalgia and the perception of a secret liberal Hillary based on 25 years of Republican attacks. Those voters were there for HER. Nostalgia, loyalty, and tokenism mattered. She rocked the vote in nursing homes in 2016. Seniors like established brands. Steyer and Bloomberg aren’t household names.

      This is very important. Democratic and Republican primary voters are very different. The glorification of business despite the attempts of the Clintons matters to the GOP making people like Trump, Fiorino, Whitman, and whatever flavor of the month the GOP trots out viable. This won’t work with Democrats. We mocked Hillary’s experience because she was a do nothing in the Senate and a monster as Secretary of State, but those kinds of government jobs speak to Democratic voters. Guys like Steyer and Bloomberg are going no where. They really are nothing more than paychecks for Clintonistas. My guess is Steyer will get 3% of the actual vote in an early primary. He’ll get nothing in a caucus environment. We shouldn’t forget that despite all of Hillary’s advantages she pretty much had no support in the 2008 primaries from the 30 and under crowd and no support in the 2016 primaries from the 38 and under crowd.

      Bloomberg’s experience as Republican mayor (every day of the Administration of 43) would have been a disaster for him.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        One of the sins of Obama’s time in office was his inability to produce a new generation of Democratic leadership. There are a few clowns out there, but there isn’t a Democrat out there anymore who represents the Democratic Party. Gillenbrand made some noise with her efforts on sex assault, but she was attacked and folded into the Democratic apparatus becoming too low profile to be a successor. Obama’s decision to be a do nothing President eager to resuscitate the GOP meant he didn’t have Democrats making names for themselves passing legislation or holding committee hearings.

        The two most popular Democrats are: Bernie Sanders, not a Democrat, and Liz Warren, a lifelong Republican because “markets.”

        The nostalgia/loyalty vote will simply stay at home or never go to a new comer. Obama said he would take it as a personal insults if African Americans didn’t turn out for Hillary the way they turned out for him. This is an extreme plea, and in important states, minorities did not turn out for a Clinton candidacy. The national numbers were skewed by the efforts to promote voting in blue districts of otherwise safe states such as New Orleans.

        Its really important to understand Hillary wasn’t simply the candidate of the right wing Democrats. She was the candidate of loyal Democrats who put out their signs and bumper stickers even though they live in extremely red areas. These people love her. She was the “co-President.” She used her maiden name. I’m a believer social trends matter, but Hillary Rodham mattered to a pre-Title IX society more than is discussed.

        1. Shane Mage

          How is Bernie Sanders “not a Democrat?” Sure, he ain’t a member of the Democratic Party, but then that “Party” has no members at all. He is, though, a member of the Senate Democratic Caucus, after years as a member of the House Democratic Caucus. The “Democratic Party” has no leading organs equal to those two Caucuses, which elect their national leaders (presently Pelosi and Schumer). So how is Bernie Sanders “not a Democrat?”

          1. cybrestrike

            Walk up to any loyalist Democrat who voted for HRC in the primaries. Check out any website that’s a part of the Democratic Party/DNC Death Star, like TPM, Daily Kos, and Balloon Juice. One of their main gripes that they used against Sanders was that he wasn’t a Democrat. It was an obviously meaningless talking point meant to distract from the fact that he was the better candidate, and they constantly used it.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Was Obama “unable to produce” a new generation of Democratic leadership? Or did Obama set out on purpose to behead and abort any such leadership which tried to arise?

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        One of the sins of Obama’s time in office was his inability to produce a new generation of Democratic leadership. There are a few clowns out there, but there isn’t a Democrat out there anymore who represents the Democratic Party. Gillenbrand made some noise with her efforts on sex assault, but she was attacked and folded into the Democratic apparatus becoming too low profile to be a successor. Obama’s decision to be a do nothing President eager to resuscitate the GOP meant he didn’t have Democrats making names for themselves passing legislation or holding committee hearings.

        The two most popular Democrats are: Bernie Sanders, not a Democrat, and Liz Warren, a lifelong Republican because “markets.”

        The nostalgia/loyalty vote will simply stay at home or never go to a new comer. Obama said he would take it as a personal insults if African Americans didn’t turn out for Hillary the way they turned out for him. This is an extreme plea, and in important states, minorities did not turn out for a Clinton candidacy. The national numbers were skewed by the efforts to promote voting in blue districts of otherwise safe states such as New Orleans.

        Its really important to understand Hillary wasn’t simply the candidate of the right wing Democrats. She was the candidate of loyal Democrats who put out their signs and bumper stickers even though they live in extremely red areas. These people love her. She was the “co-President.” She used her maiden name. I’m a believer social trends matter, but Hillary Rodham mattered to a pre-Title IX society more than is discussed.

      3. Mark Gisleson

        Hillary achieved this by running three major campaigns (one in NY, two national) with campaign organizations that more accurately should be called cults. Zero channels for upwards communications, detached/sociopathic leadership, cult leader’s whims catered to (NEVER challenged), inner circle members chosen for slavish sycophancy.

        And there is nothing to stop her from employing this cult on behalf of Steyer or anyone else. Cult members take orders and when a new leader-approved face shows up: it’s like they have a new best friend.

        Anyone who spends time on social media knows that Clinton’s supporters are still out there, still grinding, still trashing everyone but themselves while refusing to accept any criticism. They will not respond to any normal political pressure, and will be a constant drag on the party until — like the anti-abortion crowd — they get forced out of the party by grassroots members who simply will refuse to put up with it cycle after cycle.

        Long after Hillary Clinton is gone, the aftermath of her cult will plague the party and our ‘democracy.’

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Obama couldn’t deploy his cult. Why would Hillary? Her cult will be four years older, and its already lost to Obama and could barely escape a 72 year old with no support, money, or at the time national recognition. In the case of New York, that was a case of Snow White and Seven Dwarfs. The others were fine candidates but they didn’t want to give up the prize and couldn’t stand up to Hillary as a unified front. Then, he significantly under performed Gore despite running against a nut case who was too extreme for Peter King and a late addition after Guiliani stepped aside due to prostate cancer which cropped around the time about revelations about his marriage.

          1. Mark Gisleson

            A supporters cult formed around Obama but his personal circle wasn’t at all cult-like.

            When I think of Hillary Clinton’s campaign orgs, the comparisons are to Scientology, not other campaign orgs.

            Campaigns are by nature somewhat cult-like but there is a clear difference in that cultists would rather be right whereas campaign workers would rather win. A difference that was much harder to see with Clinton.

            The best comparison to Clinton would be Richard Nixon, but however much criminal activity happened on his campaigns, they were not cults.

            I’m kind of obsessed about this stuff. I’ve worked some pretty hard-core boiler room operations, but Hillary (not Bill oddly) Clinton’s approach to politics was profoundly cult-oriented. Even candidates who run on extreme religious beliefs tend to have more open and transparent campaign orgs than Hillary had/has.

            1. Mark Gisleson

              Hmm. Rereading what I just wrote a truly evil thought popped into my mind.

              What is the difference between ID Politics (as used in electoral politics) and e-meters?

              I’m not sure there is one.

            2. NotTimothyGeithner

              You need votes. Begala and Brazille. They don’t win elections. The Clinton staffers are completely dependent on Clinton largess. Without, Mook is just a moron who is terrible at math. Even Bill wanted to fire him.

              The birth death model doesn’t favor them. I don’t see how they are bringing new members to the cult.

              Steyer could inherit every Clinton crony, and what he’ll have is a gang of losers without the patronage of a real celebrity in HRC and Bill. David Brock didn’t get HRC votes from women who voted for Hillary because she was a woman. She got that vote years ago in 1992 when he was attacking her. Those little old people she conned into supporting her aren’t going to help a person they’ve never heard of (Steyer is a nothing.) who’s selling point is the people who failed Hillary work for him now. They barely listened to HRC anyway. She could tell them to vote for, and they simply will hear what they want to hear.

              Oh, and Obama’s inner circle are camped outside the Kool Aid factory.

        2. John k

          She’s running again, as well see right after midterms. The cult will welcome her back w open arms.
          It will devolve to her and Bernie, 2016 redux, except this time he wins.

          1. pretzelattack

            i wish i could believe that sanders or somebody younger with similar domestic politics wins, but the success of the russiarussiarussia campaign argues otherwise, and sanders getting on board with that distresses me no end.

            1. Elizabeth Burton

              I’m guessing you missed the recent Gallup poll that showed the majority of the people in the US don’t consider Russia worth considering. You’ll get a skewed idea of that if you spend much time on social media, because that’s where the people most likely to embrace it as their hobby horse hang out. So, that’s where the shills determined to push it likewise hang out.

              Unless someone sets a Reichstag fire they can blame on Russia between now and 2020, it won’t be important. Even then, there may be sufficient numbers of skeptics to prevent it from becoming THE issue.

              The compelling issue right now is M4A, and that is what the establishment will be attacking, q.v., this week’s screaming headlines about the “report” from Koch Brothers University. It may also be one of the weaker points in the People’s Platform not because it doesn’t have popular support but because not enough people understand the answer to “How do we pay for it?” That’s the bludgeon that’s killed it every time it came up, so everyone involved needs to be prepared to respond to it.

              1. pretzelattack

                the significant fact is sanders buying into it. it speaks poorly of his judgement, as a potential president, and aids the clinton wing in maintaining control of the party. they don’t need any help.

                this is similar to all the democrats that went along with iraq 2. it supports the duopoly, when what is needed is to break it.

                1. Big River Bandido

                  the significant fact is sanders buying into it. it speaks poorly of his judgement

                  Hmm. If I were running against the Democrat establishment and AIPAC and the Clintons, I would be faced with an unpleasant choice. I could be momentarily foolish and go along with those scumbags and give them rhetorical assist on something that ultimately will be forgotten. By so doing, I get somewhat of a pass from them. Or I could say the hell with that, get in a pissing contest over what Maddow and #TheResistance consider a faith-based issue, and find myself being politically smeared — by the absolute 900-pound gorillas of smear campaigns — as a red, Russia-loving, self-hating Jew who has legions of racist, misogynist, deplorable supporters clamoring for free stuff.

                  Even principled, effective politicians will on occasions find themselves backed into political corners and forced to say things they don’t believe and do things they really don’t want to do. How can I be so sure that’s the case here? Ask yourself this: if Bernie Sanders were to become the leader of the Democrat Party, do you really think he’d spend any energy on Russia Hysteria? I certainly don’t. Which is one reason this just doesn’t bother me. These Clinton Democrats who are hung up on Russia are just like Birthers. When Trump leaves office, their entire raison d’être will disappear, and with that, so will any public interest in the case.

                  1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                    Yes, let’s apologize for more “strategic retreats”. I’m sure Chuck Schumer really does want Medicare for All and real banking reform, but he’s just temporarily retreating and saving his bullets for the big push.
                    We praise Bernie for being right on many things, but Permament War and RussiaRussiaRussia are not among them

                    1. RMO

                      If Bernie runs for the Democrat nomination I suspect he won’t win. Remember the defense that they were going to use in court regarding the fixing of the primaries was their belief that the party does not have to provide a fair election or even follow their own rules – it was stated they could just choose the nominee in a closed room regardless of what the voters actually want. Just remember what the party machine and the media did to Bernie in 2016 when he (seemingly to them) came out of nowhere as a surprise and imagine what they will have ready the next time if he runs again. They’ll be ready, and nastier than we can imagine.

    2. Dale

      Steyer has let himself be defined by Donald Trump. What else is there to Steyer, beyond a particularly bad case of Trump Derangement Syndrome?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I can never quite work out whether Mdm Nougayrede was hired to write articles to signify the Guardians new more overt role as neocon cheerleader, or if she is actually an elaborate hoax created by the remaining radicals within the Guardian to discredit the European neocon wing altogether.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Vidimi and PK.

        It is odd to leave the article open for comments.

        I watch francophone TV regularly and read the francophone press a bit less. The neo cons and neo liberals are gathering in prominence. Russia, Russia has replaced Prussia, Prussia. I wonder if the francophone have gathered how wealthy one can become by getting on that largely anglophone circuit.

        @ PK: I know you like cycling. A couple of years ago, I commented on the Tour de France route. All of my comments, either travel tips or local nursery rhymes (Il y avait une fois un marchand de foie a Foix etc.), were deleted by the Grauniad moderator.

        1. Clive

          The BBC deleted Welsh comments on Geraint Thomas’ Tour victory coverage. I didn’t believe the stories circulating about this so I posted my own in the pigeon Welsh I remembered from when I was at my mother’s knee. My comment would have probably made a fluent speaker wince as I am so rusty I can barely remember which order the subject-verb agreement goes, but it was mostly okay and just a simple “nice to see the U.K. suddenly discovered Wales is still there” or as best as I could write it.


          Naked Capitalism commentariat — never complain about the moderation policy or skynet here again. They’re pussycats compared to the MSM.

          1. Olga

            That was probably one reason Off-Guardian was established. They often debunk what passes for journalism in the G. (My theory is that the G was given a choice back when the UK establishment came to smash their hard drives with Snowden info: publish what we tell you or perish. I have a link to a Gore Vidal interview from 2001 – doubt they’d publish it today.)

          2. David May

            Good stuff, Clive. It is very important to minority languages’ survival that people are exposed to them, that they see them being used. The Guardian is really showing its true neoliberal death cult tendencies in taking part in the suppression of Welsh. At the end of the day, the Guardian is still very much a liberal paper in the 19th century meaning of the word.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          Thanks CS, yes, I hardly comment on the Guardian these days, the moderation is just bizarre. I don’t mind being moderated, its the site owners prerogative, but let them at least be consistent.

          1. Christopher Dale Rogers


            Join the cookie crew, I actually have not Commented on The Guardian for probably two years, indeed I’ve stopped reading the Rag entirely – so if it were not for Twitter Guardian posts, or Naked Capitalism Guardian posts I’d have little idea what’s in the paper. On the other hand, I engage in combat with many of the Guardian hacks on Twitter, which most don’t like, particularly when you point out home truths to them.

    2. begob

      I read that when the comments were still open. Seeing the unanimity on the first page I typed in: “We at the Guardian will soon be closing comments on this page …” Which was promptly moderated out of existence.

      1. pretzelattack

        ha! it really flies in the face of their usual strategy of never opening the comment threads on their propaganda attempts.

          1. pretzelattack

            heh, yeah guardian readers as an online focus group “hey boss, the rubes aren’t buying the family blog on a stick” boss–“needs more family blog”

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Two articles on Brexit today worth considering:

    Jonathan Lis argues that a No Deal Brexit will not happen. The essence of his argument is that an escalating series of crises going towards New Year will leave the government and Parliament with a blunt choice – take whatever deal is on the table, or face an unprecedented crisis. He argues that the government and Parliament will, due to pure self interest, take whatever the deal is (he doesn’t specify what it will entail).

    Why then is May talking up the prospect of no-deal even when it remains inconceivable? This is the real “project fear”. She hopes that just enough talk of stockpiling food and medicine will blackmail just enough MPs into voting for her still-elusive EU deal. Far likelier is that she scares the public into supporting a new vote on Brexit, with the option of abandoning it altogether.

    And counter to that, the little ray of sunlight Richard D North says that its already too late.

    I liken Brexit to sitting in an old-fashioned airliner crossing the Atlantic in the days when range was marginal and strong headwinds could actually force aircraft to turn back. In these cases, pilots had to calculate their “point of no return”, whence – once they were past it – would not have the range to get back safely.

    In this case, I see us past the point of no return but with insufficient fuel to get to our destination. For the moment, the aircraft continues to fly as the cabin crew ply the passengers with food and drink. But up front, in the cockpit, the pilots know that they will never make landfall.

    North, of course, means its too late for what he sees as a ‘successful’ Brexit – so presumably he doesn’t see it too late for the type of capitulation Lis describes.

    I think there is a compelling argument to be made that at some stage the EU will make some cosmetic concessions along with a take it or leave it deal and then leave it to May to try somehow to force it through in the teeth of an economic crisis. But I only see this happening if there is actually a crisis, not a forthcoming one – in other words, the economy will need to already be in freefall, sterling falling, etc. The problem with this is that such a crisis may not happen if Mr. Market thinks Lis is right – in other words, the assumption that a deal will be done will ensure a deal will not be done.

    1. Shane Mage

      PK recalls: “In these cases, pilots had to calculate their ‘point of no return’, whence – once past it – they would not have the range to get back safely.” I remember, in those distant days, children’s “history” schoolbooks teaching us that Columbus was a Great Hero because, when his sailors wanted to turn back because they were afraid that they would sail right off the edge of the flat world, Columbus ordered “Sail On.” I later found out that no sailor ever thought or could think (once having seen another boat or the land emerging over the horizon) that the world was flat, and that they wanted to turn back for the excellent reason that their “point of no return” had been reached. What they did not know, of course, was that they had been sold a bill of goods by the swindler Columbus who knew perfectly well that they were not headed to distant India but toward the close-at-hand “True Continent,” the “New World.”

    2. Craig H.

      In last week’s Economist there were two different writers who seemed to have the idea that it was likely there would be another referendum and an Undo. I suppose it could have been my misunderstanding of British humor and they were not being serious.

  6. Eureka Springs

    In re the Cohen Boot interview.

    Very nice to see Mr. Cohen take down a couple of memes.

    Meme #1: Attack. And what is the alleged attack? Are people referring to alleged hacking of voting systems? Is that really it? Last I recall the evidence was slim at best and there seemed to be much more damning evidence of various State and DHS officials probing inside the systems, which should be even more alarming when our own do it. Why have a system where this can happen at all?

    Meme #2: Apologist. This has to be up there with the absurdity of- Perfect being the enemy of good. Mr. Cohen was laying his evidence on the table utilizing deductive reasoning from reports on both sides of what was discussed, and that is somehow some kind of apology? This also showed up CNN/Cooper who was stuck on – we don’t know what happened, that they never even tried to do what Mr. Cohen has. 101 research of staff reports from both sides.

    I’m increasingly thankful for Trump, the supreme double-talker showing up all the amateur liars, propaganda media, duplicitous Democrats in our midst.

    What a breath of fresh air Scrappy Mr. Cohen is. Somebody please get him in touch with Sanders before Sanders completely screws up a campaign against Biden types in a primary and Trump in a general on foreign policy. We need to know if Sanders is redeemable at all on these matters. Cohen might be the best chance yet of helping Sanders. Sanders and Cohen seem like a good match.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you to Lambert for the link and ES’s comment.

      I am surprised that Cohen was allowed on air. His appearances are most welcome, but rare.

      Boot is typical of the blowhards, political and media, that prevail on both sides of the Atlantic.

      A couple of months ago, dad and my godfather, both former Royal Air Force officers, were at a reception to celebrate the RAF’s 100th birthday. Current and former defence ministers attended. Dad and my godfather, who saw action from the 1960s – 1990s and began service alongside WWII veterans, were astounded by the chicken hawks, especially when hallucinating about Russia. It was insulting towards the former servicemen. The conclusion was that these ministers would have been early candidates for fragging in wartime.

        1. jonhoops

          Let’s not forget that Anderson Cooper’s mother is Gloria Vanderbilt, and that he spent his college summer’s interning at the CIA. Operation Mockingbird v2 ?

        2. Olga

          He’s been one sane – thus rare – voice on Soviet Union/Russia since the 1970s, when I discovered him. TG for him (and I do not even believe in G).

    2. Chris

      I agree. Trump is casting light on all the ugly corners of our society right now.

      But I don’t think matching Cohen with Sanders will help.

      I believe our beneficent masters have showed their hand for the 2018 and 2020 elections. Step 1, paint all leftists and anti-war, anti-Clinton voices as Russian apologists. Easy to do because they left is already weak on foreign policy. Step 2, smear all the leftist candidates running with straw man arguments assuming that they all want to abolish ICE and replace it with nothing. Step 3, ask “how are you going to pay for all that anyway?” and then give these people no room to respond. Because markets are truth and MMT requires a minute of thought.

      Et voila, suddenly there’s no one else serious enough to run for office besides a Booker, Harris, Biden, etc.

      Of course, such a strategy won’t get anyone new to the polls and it leaves Team Blue open to all the attacks that worked so well in 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016. But it preserves what’s left of the shredded status quo. The donor class will no doubt be pleased.

      1. vlade

        Worse yet, the MMT is “magic money tree”, so not just a minute of thought, but you have to think of it while already having been massaged against it.

      2. RUKidding

        Very good points, alas. Wish I could argue against you, but I cannot. Summed up nicely.

        I am pretty unplugged when it comes to any media, but I’ve noted of late the propaganda meme “how are you going to pay for all that” coming from both sides of the aisle.

        The PTB are VERY GOOD at spreading their manure, uh, propaganda.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Direct warfare with the US is out of the question for Iran, analysts say — here’s why”

    Marine Corps Lieutenant General Paul K. Van Riper (ret) might have a few comments that he could add to this article.

    1. Eureka Springs

      And this:

      Amid escalating tensions between the two nations sparked by Trump’s ultra-hawkish administration, one of the few tiny bright spots in the NDAA is language that saysnothing in this act may be construed to authorize the use of force against Iran.”

      This “explanatory statement” was included thanks to amendments pushed by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and passed unanimously by the House.

      If congressional power of the purse means anything? And I suppose this has to get through the Senate. But a unanimous House vote is impressive. How did this get past AIPAC and their ilk?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        As “The Rev Kev” noted, the Millenial War Games demonstrated the U.S. military is not prepared to attack an enemy willing to fight back. Given the cost of Iraq and the relative U.S. technological and logistics edge, Iran is definitely a disaster for anyone who does think about it.

        Like the Hillary candidacy which never made sense if you take more than five minutes to think about it or less just any thought at all, there are plenty of powerful and wealthy people who function on pure Id and rank tribalism. Whether its AIPAC or George W. Bush’s Axis of Evil (is that David Frum who coined that? The #resistance hero?), there are right leaning people who want to replicate the perceived success of Iraq (remember the banner; their taxes didn’t go up) in Iran. American foreign policy is deeply based around the idea the “little foreign devils need our guidance because we are exceptional Americans.” Trump and Congress are still receiving pressure if they aren’t nuts too, and they have their own pressure for a foreign policy success due to their inability to govern on behalf of Americans for electoral reasons.

        Iraq was a broken country with a defense force dependent on U.S. and Soviet parts in 1991. Unlike Iran which is a much larger country, Iraq was small and surrounded by built up forces. All 43 really had to do was requisition a few extra airplanes to move the soldiers to man the propositioned weaponry. At the same time, Japan and Germany had been all the rage as rising powers in the 90’s having been “rebuilt” by the U.S. A U.S. occupation didn’t seem that bad given the recent years. The Iraqi army didn’t dig in and fight to the last man, killing the foreign invader. In the case of Iran, they still remember SAVAK and have seen the sins of Iraq and Libya as perpetuated by a bipartisan political establishment of the U.S. They will fight to the last man. At the same time, Iran has maintained a strong and domestic defense industry. They can’t be starved for parts anymore, and more importantly, they can wreak havoc on the energy supplies of the countries (Europe and the Mediterranean) the U.S. would need to engage in any kind of prolonged operation. The U.S. soldiers who were in explosions in Iraq and were brought to amazing hospitals in Germany will be lucky to be seen by field medics in Iran.

        Then of course as far as AIPAC, there is simply nepotism. The realities of the job market and the decline of a strong middle class mean the meritocracy is over. The Kennedy clan once represented by a guy like JFK and Bobby (I’m not a fan of either, but they were certainly bright) is now represented by that inbred doofus the Democrats tried to pimp earlier this year. The Senate has a lower turnover rate than the Soviet Politburo.

    2. Doug Hillman

      Funny how CNBC presumes that Iran might actually start a war with Israel’s goon. Propaganda works best by stealth — plant an absurd premise camouflaged by a flurry of tactical diversions that later support your false flag excuse for another aggressive war.

    3. vlade

      Funny. I had thought the article was about why the US would not be able to start a direct war with Iran..
      – where would you actually open the front? Amphibious landing in the Gulf? And then??? From Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan? Hahaha.
      – If SA would be your staging area, what would you do to protect Gulf shipping? And SA oil fields?
      – How would you handle your logistics? If attacking via Saudi, I don’t believe you could 100% protect the Gulf, so would you ship troops and everything across whole of SA? Landing in Jedah? I’m sure that tons of US grunts next to Mecca and Medinah would be just the right thing for Saudi’s regime stability..

      I could see US running a bombing campaign against Iran, but I doubt it’d achieve much except body bags, disruption in Gulf shipping (and all that entails), and if US planes were taking off from SA, an attack on Saudi oilfields.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, thats the thing I don’t get – the logistics of a direct attack on Iran are enormous, barring maybe an assault on some of the Iranian Gulf Islands, there is no way they could put boots on the ground without the potential for enormous casualties.

        I assume the ‘plan’ that they are working on is primarily air strikes to cripple the country, then trying to stir up some discontent among non-Shiite groups – and maybe hope for an equivelent of the Northern Alliance to do that heavy lifting. But the potential for Iran to respond likewise is enormous – think of what happens if they send anti tank and anti-aircraft missiles to the Taliban, or stir up the millions of Shiites in the Gulf and elsewhere.

        Even if a plan worked, the long term consequences would be felt for decades and are almost entirely unpredictable. It is simply lunacy.

        I’m assuming that if there is a ‘rational’ hard line strategy, its to hope that all this pressure may eventually cause Iran to implode without a missile being fired. But even that is a very dangerous game.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          1979 was a long time ago in many way. I think part of the Iran paranoia is about one last go for the people who have milked anti-Iran positions for so long. The reaction from the voters almost the exact opposite of the political class to the Iran deal Obama supported (it was low hanging fruit). Its what they know. Its their legacy. Their kids who they put on the payroll are dependent.

          At some point, the money stops coming in with no new members being created. The stories and fantasies get more elaborate because the clock is running out, and spaghetti is being thrown at the wall. Northern Virginia is known for its high per capita wealth because of the federal workforce, but the scars of the end of the Cold War are still there. It can happen again. Since Millenials and avocados are all the rage, how do millenials feel about Iran versus people who were shocked to see “our dictator” fall in 1979? 9/11 was conducted by Saudi subjects. How does an 18 year old who enlisted in 2002 feel about the official support for Saudi Arabia? That 18 year old is now 34. The Saudi dictator wasn’t spending lavishly on advertising because he is confident of the American position. He is worried about that 34 year old.

      2. Doug Hillman

        Conspicuously unstated is the presumption that Iran is seriously contemplating national suicide via US and Israel, and that so far only exceptional internal voices of reason have prevented such insanity. The article’s tactical and strategic details are all camouflage for that ridiculous premise. Then when the Mossad launches a false flag event, CNBC will appear prophetic. The Persians are insane after all, and the burden of assisted suicide is thrust upon us.

        Enter Russia, Gog and Magog, and let Armaggedon begin. All of Christendom is yearning for it.

  8. noonespecial

    Argentina’s Economy

    Posted here as a complement to the links on Class Warfare.

    Recently, NC highlighted an interview with Prof. Michael Hudson. Prof. Hudson comments that in Argentina,

    “The neoliberal policy has its aim rolling back any of the wage increases in employment that Mrs.
    Kirschner, the former president, implied, as part of the class war. So in order to shrink the economy, you
    have to basically cut back business, cut back employment. And so the purpose of the IMF loan was to
    enable the wealthy Argentinians, the oligarchy that’s run the country for a century, to get all its money out
    and run. So like almost all IMF loans, the purpose is to subsidize capital flight out of Argentina so that the
    wealthy Argentinians can take their money and run before the currency collapses.”

    The following is a quote from a Chile-based newspaper (first in the original, followed by my translation):

    El presidente argentino, Mauricio Macri, afirmó este martes que la inflación llegará este año al 30%, el
    doble de lo previsto en diciembre, como consecuencia del “tormentón” económico por el que atraviesa el
    país…Medidas impopulares como los despidos en el Estado y los recortes presupuestarios han aumentado
    la tensión social. Macri ha soportado tres huelgas generales y decenas de movilizaciones en reclamo de
    una política en favor del empleo y la producción.La pobreza se mantiene cerca del 30% de la población y
    el desempleo se ubica en torno al 9%.

    Argentinian President, Mauricio Macri, affirmed on Tuesday that inflation will reach 30% this year double
    what was predicted in December, as a consequence of the economic “tempest” affecting the country…
    Unpopular measure like firing State workers and budget cuts have increased social tension. Macri has
    endured three general strikes and dozens of protests calling for policies that favor employment and
    production. Poverty rate is near 30% and the unemployment rate is near 9%.

    How is the Macri government going to deliver on the promise to the IMF to reduce government spending?

    1. JBird

      Never mind reducing spending, just how is it going to stay in power, if it does deliver? I see future money making opportunities for the Meritocracy of the American Empire when the “spontaneous” contra revolution arises.

  9. Chris

    The CNN video clip with Cooper, Cohen, and Boot is enlightening. I remember a similar kind of interview with Chris Matthews back in 2008 (link) where the role of Boot was played by a right wing talk show media host and Matthews was playing the incredulous role of Cohen. The thing that Matthews said, which seems to have been completely forgotten since 2016 was:

    And the problem is, you don‘t understand there‘s a difference between talking to the enemy and appeasing. What Neville Chamberlain did wrong, most people would say, is not talking to Hitler, but giving him half of Czechoslovakia in ‘38. That‘s what he did wrong, not talking to somebody.

    Isn’t it amazing how easy it is to forget things when your side loses and election? Now apparently it’s wrong to talk to a nuclear power who could help us with problem in Syria, Iran, and China.

    1. The Rev Kev

      In keeping with the spirit of the times, I am accusing Max Boot of being a Manchurian Candidate. Why so? Because he was born in Moscow! There is collusion right there. Probably with Masha Gessen who was also born in Russia. I tell ya, they are infiltrating the free press.
      Poor professor Cohen. You could see the look on his face when he realized that he was sitting with a pair of morons who were reduced to making personal attacks on his character. I read that after the USSR fell apart, a lot of people that would have gone into Russian studies went to other more lucrative fields of study.
      Cohen is one that kept going but now there are not that many Russian experts left who are not newly-minted neocons and even they can’t speak Russian like Cohen can. Washington should listen to him more but I suspect that it won’t happen.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Kev.

        Did you not listen to Michael “we’ve had enough of experts” Gove and Dick “we make our own reality” Cheney?

        It’s not just these two family bloggers. A few years ago, a colleague introduced me to her boyfriend, a “character” from the Henry Jackson Society. Said BF was looking for job, “wanted to make money and quickly in the City”, between a doctorate at LSE and securing a Tory safe seat.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Thank you Colonel. I am reminded of something that the late Douglas Adams wrote of in his “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” how people like that were “A bunch of mindless jerks who’ll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.”
          He then wrote of how an edition of the Encyclopedia Galactica which conveniently fell through a rift in the time-space continuum from 1000 years in the future described how they were “A bunch of mindless jerks who were the first against the wall when the revolution came.”
          One does live in hope.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            “And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a small café in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.”

            Well, tomorrow is Thursday.

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        Poor professor Cohen. You could see the look on his face when he realized that he was sitting with a pair of morons who were reduced to making personal attacks on his character.

        Agree, but up to a point. Anderson has been on the air for over fifteen years? (CNN since 2001). If Cohen does not realize by now who he is dealing with on these programs, he deserves a different kind of sympathy.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Not only that, but frankly, he damn well. He tore Boot’s McCarthy like barb about being a Russian apologist to shreds…, “What did you say to me?”. A lot of people who have been on the fence are starting to get a sense of deja vue (Iraq Iraq Iraq) with these Russia Russia Russia fanatics.

      3. Mel

        “not that many Russian experts left who are not newly-minted neocons”

        Really? Like the State Department discarded all the China hands after WWII? Here we go again?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Its like Astronomy, Archaeology, or the FBI. Popular culture shapes who goes on to study a subject. After the X-Files became huge, the FBI received more and better applications. Star Trek inspired a generation of NASA employees. Between the Sputnik reaction and Star Trek generation, there was a decline in people going into astronomy. A brief dip but it existed. Certain areas like teachers, you don’t see this in because there will always be teachers, but in small enough groups you see this.

          Who is 55 today? (These are the people who make decisions or present the acceptable range of positions). People who were 25 in 1988. The Soviets military is bogged down. Its Morning in America. China is coming onto the world market. Whoa, the Japanese and Germans are making great products. There is a lot of money to be made in stocks or even technology. The Cold War is 40 years old by then. Klingons have been redesigned three times since the original series. Who cares about the Ruskies? Revenge minded people. The boring. And people who are too attached to culture from the old country which blinds people to basic realities.

          What we are seeing with “OMG Russia” is based both on who was being trained 30 years ago from a self selected group and the limits of American exposure to Russia or even recent history. Then of course, the over reliance on specialization and credentialing instead of critical thinking and basic research which is free now reducing the need for specialists who once held the key to what was expensive information are part of the problem. Think about the Catholic Church and the Protest Reformation in regards to bibles being printed in the vernacular. We just have new priests who were once necessary, but their importance is over inflated.

  10. pretzelattack

    re “russian agent” article in new cold war

    Anti-fraud investigators at Wells Fargo flagged the transactions — by Paul Erickson, a conservative consultant from South Dakota, and Maria Butina, who is in jail awaiting trial on charges of secretly acting as a Russian agent — as “suspicious,” noting in some cases that they could find no “apparent economic, business, or lawful purpose” to explain them.

    i would be more impressed if the anti fraud investigators at wells fargo had caught any of the fraud perpetrated by wells fargo. oh, my bad, on rereading i realize that that fraud was ok cause it had an apparent economic purpose.

  11. ChiGal in Carolina

    from the FB article:

    On June 3, 2018, a report in The New York Times indicated that Facebook had maintained data-sharing partnerships with mobile device manufacturers, specifically naming Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft, and Samsung. Under the terms of this personal information sharing, device manufacturers were able to gather information about users in order to deliver “the Facebook experience,” the Times quotes a Facebook official as saying. Additionally, the report indicates that this access allowed device manufacturers to obtain data about a user’s Facebook friends, even if those friends had configured their privacy settings to deny information sharing with third parties.

    The same day, Facebook issued a rebuttal to the Times report indicating that the partnerships were conceived because “the demand for Facebook outpaced our ability to build versions of the product that worked on every phone or operating system,” at a time when the smartphone market included BlackBerry’s BB10 and Windows Phone operating systems, among others. Facebook claims that “contrary to claims by the New York Times, friends’ information, like photos, was only accessible on devices when people made a decision to share their information with those friends. We are not aware of any abuse by these companies.” The distinction being made is partially semantic, as Facebook does not consider these partnerships a third party in this case. Facebook noted that changes to the platform made in April began “winding down” access to these APIs, and that 22 of the partnerships had already been ended.

    On June 5, 2018, the The Washington Post and The New York Times reported that the Chinese device manufacturers Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo, and TCL were granted access to user data under this program. Huawei, along with ZTE, are facing scrutiny from the US government on unsubstantiated accusations that products from these companies pose a national security risk.

    On July 2, 2018, The Washington Post reported that the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Trade Commission, and Federal Bureau of Investigation have joined the Department of Justice inquiry into the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica data scandal. In a statement to CNET, Facebook indicated that “We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions, and pledged to continue our assistance as their work continues.” On July 11th, the Wall Street Journal reported that the SEC is separately investigating if Facebook adequately warned investors in a timely manner about the possible misuse and improper collection of user data. The same day, the UK assessed a £500,000 fine to Facebook, the maximum permitted by law, over its role in the data scandal. The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office is also preparing to launch a criminal probe into SCL Elections over their involvement in the scandal.

    On July 3, 2018, Facebook acknowledged a “bug” unblocked people that users has blocked between May 29 and June 5.

    On July 12, 2018, a CNBC report indicated that a privacy loophole was discovered and closed. A Chrome plug-in intended for marketing research called allowed users to access the list of members for private Facebook groups.

    I only just got on, for M4A advocacy, and since my phone meltdown never reinstalled the app. Only accessed a few times on computer since cuz I rarely sit at my desk. Embarrassed to leave the party so soon after arriving and nice way to keep in touch with activists here and peripheral folks back in Chicago (very few of my closest friends are on it and we communicate by phone anyway).

    But today I will post the above and in a couple of days delete my account. Thanks for this kind of in the butt.

      1. ambrit

        It is indelicate to mention, but, you have probably used the wrong verb. ‘Kick’ should be replaced with a phrase that starts with a different verb and continues with “without lube.”

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          thanks for your concern for my vocabulary, but I meant thanks to NC for giving me the kick in the butt to get off, a good thing. it’s FB of course that’s been f*cking everyone in the ass.

          1. ambrit

            Ah, sorry. I misread you. This old geezer probably needs vocabulary comprehension re-training. That plus a few kicks to my posterior as well. Thank the Designer I’ve never been on FB.

  12. Scott

    Regarding the feud between the Koch brothers and Trump, is anyone surprised that this is happening? Yes, they agree on tax cuts and regulations, but there the Kochs have more in common with many Democratic donors (especially in Silicon Valley) and politicians than they do with Trump. Their views on trade and immigration, as highlighted in the article, is one example. The Kochs are big proponents of using both to drive down wages and increase their profits. I believe that that is the real reason many 10% support immigration as they like having nannies, maids and landscapers – their servants. The Koch brothers also make donations to elite universities and PBS stations and support abortion rights.

    If Republicans embrace Trumpism, these divisions on trade and immigration could start to spread to other economic issues and Democrats eager to support anyone opposing Trump would be eager for their donations. Could the next Trump smooth soft edges on racial issues and make more of a play for minorities on economic grounds? Thomas Frank seems to believe that Democrats must eventually return to this position, but it’s possible and perhaps the GOP not the Dems would become the true party of the people.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      No. The GOP is pretty repulsive and is full of too many committed ideologues to ever make change. Not that I’m a fan of Mittens, the old WASP class of Republicans who supported Romney would be willing to make sacrifices to hold onto power as they loved the pageantry of the White House. They get off on it.

      If they did anything, they could be convinced of a defense oriented domestic alternative energy concern (we see this in red states as long as you don’t say global warming) or this is the big one: Single Payer. The GOP is not merely the party of Big Business but all business. They could be persuaded on this if it meant sticking it to Democrats. They would probably need a crisis, and their system would be in need of reform and require plenty of subsidies to bad actors.

      The modern GOP is still an alliance made by Nixon of various business interests, evangelicals, libertarians, people who don’t necessarily see the hand of good government (the South was excluded from the New Deal in many ways), and the old GOP. Much of the promises have been achieved, and they really have nothing left to offer each offer except perceived protection from the hordes. I’m not sure the party is capable of moving without a break up.

      1. JBird

        The modern GOP is still an alliance made by Nixon of various business interests, evangelicals, libertarians, people who don’t necessarily see the hand of good government (the South was excluded from the New Deal in many ways), and the old GOP. Much of the promises have been achieved, and they really have nothing left to offer each offer except perceived protection from the hordes. I’m not sure the party is capable of moving without a break up.

        Ah, our old friend Greed, being served by Classism and Racism.

        There are reasons for pellagra being persistent in the South and rare, and even easily treatable once some knowledge was discovered about its causes elsewhere in the United States. The disease is similar to rickets or scurvy as being caused by a deficient diet. Improve (slightly) the diet, and pellagra goes away, but that meant that the very poor farmers, usually sharecroppers, who got the disease had to shift their some of their crop production from cotton to producing dairy or meat. That meant less profit from stealing buying of the cotton by the Southern business elites from those sharecroppers.

        Southern leadership excluded the South from the New Deal because both the Negroes and White Trash, but oh God especially the Negroes, should not be treated as if they were, you know people, never you mind anyone’s equal. The New Deal meant taking taxes from the rich, and powerful, elites and using it improve the lives of, and therefor increasing their strength, of the lowest classes. Usually blacks, but an amazing amount of poor Southerners were, and are, poor as Hell too. Economically both are usually in the same classes with the whites usually having a slightly better economic position. Both groups would have had their positions improved. In absolute terms, the leadership would not have lost much, and might have actually gained wealth because of the improving economy, but in relative terms their wealth, power, and prestige would have declined.

        Considering that the Republican and the Democratic Parties have similar elites today, I am not sure that either can pivot even though in absolute terms their wealth might increase and it certainly would not reduce their standard of living. However, like with the New Deal Southerners, the relative wealth, power, and prestige would decrease. Also, in both cases, The Powers That Be would have to look at themselves and see their cupidity causing the crisis.

    2. Chris

      My bet is Trump will do something that seems insane, and won’t really help things, but is kind of brilliant when viewed through a vicious partisan lens. Like… support legislation to give all African Americans a federal income tax holiday for 10 years. If he did that, the $Dems would crumble and blow away like so much dust.

    3. RUKidding

      I’m sure the $Dems are only too happy to cozy up to Charles Koch. It’s a match made in Democratic hell, for sure, but no doubt the propaganda will somehow “sanitize” Koch for the masses.

      Wait for it.

      1. jonhoops

        The DLC (Democratic Leadership Council) which gave us Clintonism got it’s initial funding from plenty of corporate interests including the Koch’s. So, been there done that.

  13. ambrit

    Here’s another for the “Zeitgeist File.”
    Yesterday I went down to the Library for something or other. At the check out desk was a small standee with Library job openings displayed. Library Assistants levels 1 and 2.
    Below are the jobs as displayed on the Internet.
    The internet postings show ‘estimated’ salaries as per Glassdoor and Paysa. First, both sources of salary information are quoting figures for different jobs. These ‘estimated’ pay rates are wildly inflated. Where do these internet entities get their base rates from, Mars? I have discovered this to be true with other jobs that I have investigated over the last year or so. The pay for Library Assistant 2 was shown on the standee: $19,990 USD per year for a 40 hour week. That works out to under ten dollars an hour. At least the posting for Library Assistant 1 was more forthcoming. $8.51 USD the hour for an eighteen hour week. Hence, this is more amenable for retired hobbyists. Yet, the Library now has a uniformed policeman in the building during school days. To keep the kids safe? Who knows. At least the copper gets to carry a big shiny fetish object to inpress the little ones.
    I know from conversations with actual library employees that most people entering the field, at any level, have degrees in Library Science. So, a four year degree for ten dollars an hour, and not even a forty hour work week guarantee any more.

    1. Carolinian

      They may have been referring to what once were called “pages”–people who reshelve the books. These have always been minimum wage jobs. My brother did it while in college.

      I’m sure our library has lots of people who have college degrees and lots who don’t.

      1. ambrit

        Not quite. The job description for the Library Assistant 2 mentions public ‘interaction skills’ and facility with Windows systems to help patrons navigate the internet and library systems. Also ‘desired’ is prior work in a library and knowledge of something called the Sirsi system. Dewey Decimal system ability is stressed. So, that does connect to the re-shelving theme. But definitely a full bore public service job.
        The Library Assistant 1- part time is here:
        Wading through the boilerplate verbiage, I get the impression that the Assistant-1 will have to deal with the patrons.
        Oh, and the job pays out once a month.

        1. RUKidding

          Welcome to Libraryland.

          Recall that only recently Forbes ran an article by a libertarian professor from Long Island who opined that an Amazon bookstore could easily replace your local library because Profits! Shareholder values!

          Wonder how much Amazon would pay it’s serfs, er, employees to run that bookstore? And wonder how much help they’d be in helping you do research, find books, assist school kids with homework, and so forth?

          Library staff are required to have adequate technology skills to work in a library. Frankly, that’s pretty much a job requirement for nearly any job these days. And interacting with customers? Most minimum wage jobs require that, too, like in a fast food joint.

          Look, it’d be great if libraries could pay their employees more, but they’re stymied by whatever their funding model is. Many libraries have gone the extra distance to figure out ways to make money in addition to a typical tax-based revenue stream, but it’s never enough to pay people huge salaries.

          A lot of government jobs only pay once per month. I have friends in that position. It sucks. But the full time library job probably also pays benefits and provides sick and vacation leave, plus may also lead to a pension.

          If you think your library doesn’t pay their staff adequately, perhaps you could help them pass a library bond measure.

        2. Jhallc

          While the salary is on the low side, this job probably comes with some benefits that might make it worthwhile for someone. Here in MA being a municipal employee is a pretty good gig because of the benefits. If it allows access to family healthcare plan it might be a great option for someone with a self employed spouse.

        3. Carolinian

          I defer to the more expert commenters on what constitutes a college level job but we do have people who only check out books and I assume they don’t need college but do need to know how to operate a computer. Sirsi is one of the online catalog systems that libraries use now instead of a card catalog. There’s a competing system called Polaris.

          It sounds like your town just doesn’t pay employees very much but librarians do often get the benefit of state pensions and medical which is worth a lot. That probably doesn’t apply to part time. And I’m not under the impression that librarians are exactly doing chain gang labor. At mine when not helping patrons they spend a lot of time reading a book. My library has also gone into automation with self checkouts and a fancy machine that checks books in. Here the library receives tremendous community support despite all the Republicans. That’s been true since I was a kid.

    2. RUKidding

      There are range of jobs in Libraries. Often people call everyone who works in a Library by the title “Librarian.” This is akin to calling everyone who works in a law firm by the title “Lawyer.”

      The positions advertised are most likely clerical in nature and probably involve duties such as shelving books, checking back in materials returned from loans, and so forth.

      I’m sure that there’s higher paid positions in your library, and these jobs will mostly require at least a 4 year college/university degree + maybe also a Library Masters degree. In the library profession, it’s mostly those who have a Library Masters degree who are known by the title “Librarian.” Librarianship is professional occouption. Most professional Librarians typically have one or more advanced degrees. If the library has IT staff working there, they probably get pretty good pay, as well.

      Yes, some jobs in libraries are minimum wage, but those positions typically merit that level of pay. Of course, it’s highly likely the Director would love to pay the staff more, but alas, there’s typically not a ton of money flowing into library coffers. They do the best they can, I’m sure.

      And yes, some of the part-time jobs are probably best suited to retirees. Nice part time work if you can get it.

      1. ambrit

        The theme of ‘inequality’ comes up again and again. I saw it at work firsthand back in the 1980s when I worked for the Post Office. Different layers of ‘hires’ were paid different wages for distinct jobs. The big reveal was that almost all of the new hires were at the new lower paid categories. Slowly, the lower paid hires were integrated into the higher paid categories as ‘just in time workers’ or ‘relief workers.’ Eventually, a significant proportion of the formerly higher wage categories were honeycombed with pockets of semi permanent ‘temp’ employees. Soon enough, the overall labour budget is revised downward to reflect the new order of things. Rinse and repeat.
        I do know a young lady with the basic four year Library Science degree. She used to work at the Chicken Palace because the Library would only give her part time status. Her somewhat horrified comment about this was that; “They want a Masters Degree for full time! Full time anything!” Now, I’m pretty sure that she wasn’t talking about the Assistants. Still and all, if the full time Assistant-2 gets under ten dollars the hour….
        Googling around the web, an amazing amount of propaganda bs is to be found. Jobs in your area! Big Bucks! Etc. Linked-in seems the best source so far, and they show a salary for Librarian in Hattiesburg of $39,200 USD the year. With perks, $41,700 USD the year.
        So, I can sense the Post Office method being used on the Library staffing system.

        1. RUKidding

          Not exactly. Your theory doesn’t quite fit the situation in libraries, but there are certainly funding constraints.

          I’m not sure what your point is other than to highlight how poorly paid some library jobs are. So what’s your solution?

          1. ambrit

            First, perhaps this is just another example of the corrosive effect of ‘Credentialism’ on the job market. Pay those with the longest paper trail the most. Why, don’t stop there, pay those exalted beings a lot more than the ‘peons’ and ‘serfs’ on the ‘shop floor.’ Thus, my reference to ‘inequality.’ Rather than undertake any concerted effort to raise more funds to pay for the present system, tear down the present system, of salary and wage determinations at the least, and apply some good old egalitarianism. The top functionary in any system makes no more than, say, five times what the ‘floor level worker’ makes. It worked for the Japanese economy for decades. It can be adapted to and scaled for the American economy.
            We have a college football team in this town. The previous college football coach made up around two million dollars a year. That dysfunctional wage and salary regime is what has to go. Such a glaring mismatch of resources to functions is a symptom of societal malaise.
            My base point is that this process of widening inequality is ongoing and well nigh universal. It plays out in venues large and small.
            Where is the societal breaking point? That’s the big unanswered question. We will probably not learn the answer to that until after the dust settles.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              The previous college football coach made up around two million dollars a year.

              Oh, you live in Charlottesville? Take that…oh right…

              1. ambrit

                On my. I have egg on my face. The present coach for Southern Miss makes base $500,000 per year. With bonuses, based on performance I’d guess, tops out at $867,500 per year. So sorry. Half a million base salary is such a ‘deplorable’ income, isn’t it.
                For college football coaches in general:
                Something closer to hovel, a discussion about the range of coaches salaries, on the football team:
                That’s just football. Add in the rest and you’re talking real money.

            2. RUKidding

              First, perhaps this is just another example of the corrosive effect of ‘Credentialism’ on the job market. Pay those with the longest paper trail the most.

              Wow. I don’t think you really understand fully – and I’m trying to say this in a non-judgemental way – how libraries operate, what’s involved in the work, and what one needs to know and be capable of doing at the professional level. From where I sit, it seems/feels like (perhaps you didn’t mean it that way) you just slammed a whole group of workers who spent many years and their money in pursuit of a professional degree that educated and prepared for a particular job.

              It may seem to some that professional Librarians just have “credentials” but really just about anyone with no educational qualifications could handle the job just as well. Is that what you’re saying? Maybe I’m misunderstanding you.

              I’ll just leave it at: from what you’ve written so far, it doesn’t seem to me as if you really understand Libraries, the work that’s involved in running and managing them, as well as what’s involved in offering professional reference services, and why there are actually very good reasons for different tiers of workers who make different salaries.

              1. ambrit

                I do understand the difference between “professional’ occupations and ‘unskilled’ labour. I went through the process of learning a technical trade, Plumbing.
                What I take umbrage at is the scale of the difference between the two levels of compensation.
                Here in The South, the place I have had personal experience in, a helper in a trade could expect to receive about one half to one third of what the Expert trades worker got. Now, if the ‘Indeed’ example I cited above is correct, the difference between the ‘floor worker’ and the ‘skill worker’ is also about one half. If the higher rates of compensation for cities in Mississippi are taken into account, three to one is possible.
                So, with no aspersions cast in your direction RUKidding, the basic problem seems to be exactly that, the base. The ‘entry level’ positions pay below subsistence wages. The relative degradation of wage continues up the ladder. If a Librarian needs to pursue a higher degree, with all the attendant costs that involves, then the position should be keyed to that cost basis. So far, so good. However, and I know you’ll spit out your coffee and practice your Latin expletives at this, not many of the skill upgrades I can think of need university instruction. Simply put, most jobs, in most fields, not just Library work, are not Rocket Science. They have been made to appear as Rocket Science for the mercenary motives of others. I would carry this idea across Trade, Profession and Party lines. From that depends my concept of “Unnecessary Credentialism.”
                I am most definitely not ‘slamming’, the workers enmeshed in this tale of woe. I feel compassion for them. I imagine that many of them, if not most of them, full well understand the confidence game that is being played against them. Overspecialization, when viewed from an evolutionary perspective, leads to quick extinction.

              2. ambrit

                Skynet has developed a taste for my confections. It just ate another. I am avoiding the temptation of trying to repost the same comment, because, as the admins explain, it trains the Skynet Monster to view all my missives as tasty appetizers.

          2. Beniamino

            I dunno about definitive solutions but it certainly doesn’t help to create meaningless hiring / compensation distinctions between the “professional” “librarians” deemed entitled to a living wage and the “clerical” workers who reshelve books etc. at $9/hr. Most of these places aren’t Widener or the Library of Congress, 99% of the work that needs to be done (checking out books, reshelving, whatever) could be done adequately by a high school graduate. They shouldn’t be requiring any level of experience or higher education for entry-level jobs. JMHO.

            1. ambrit

              Agreed. That problem is baked into our ‘inequality’ problem. One aspect of it is the idea, from Union theory that union membership as a determinate for work in a field is a backdoor method of limiting the workforce, and thus keeping wages up through an artificial ‘credentialed worker’ shortage. There’re so many crooks in this tale.

            2. David May

              That’s because you have no idea of what a librarian does. Even a “shelf stacker” might be asked for advice on a wide range of topics. There have been many posts on NC about this. I believe your post is not thought out properly and is a sad example of the brain rot of neoliberalism.

              1. JBird

                All of the above it is.

                It can be the job is harder than most realized, that the pay is too low, and that Credentialism is requiring too much education, or some combination of three.

                Too many of the Credentialed Class have not a clue on what skills are needed for most jobs, including manual labor, $9 is actually starvation wages here in California, demanding that someone get a masters with its probable non dischargeable debt for positions that often just need an associates and/or some on the job training is insulting.

                1. RUKidding

                  I don’t even know what you mean by the “Credentialed class.”

                  It might be helpful to know how libraries operate before determining how they should be run and who gets paid what.

                  1. JBird

                    I stoled it from Thomas Frank. The term Credentialed Class is the 9.9% who have the Bachelors, Masters, and PhDs. The lawyers, doctors, engineers, consultants. The White Collar Class.

                    Anyways, I cannot claim any special knowledge about how libraries are run. I just think that it is very likely that people who work at them are often required to have more education than is needed, which they have to pay for themselves, and that they are almost certainly underpaid for what they know and do.

              2. RUKidding

                Thank you.

                I’m gobsmacked by how much some of those posting here view librarians as pretty worthless. No wonder that libertarian professor felt enabled to write his tripe article about how all libraries should just be replaced by Amazon bookstores.

                Yeesh. Amazing.

                Funny how these same people probably wouldn’t want an RN (with all due respect to RNs) to do their brain surgery, but anyone can wander in off the street and do the job of a professional librarian. It’s a breeze; it’s a snap.

            3. RUKidding


              So just about anyone could wander in off the street and be as good of a Reference Librarian or a Director as someone who actually got a Masters in Library Science, plus maybe some other degrees and qualifications?



              1. makedoanmend

                Yes, a good librarian can be worth their weight in gold. I’ve found librarians especially useful during two phase of my life – as a child and as a young student. As an older (old) student, I still have occasion to use librarian services.

                Having said that, it is not inconceivable that a person with a solid education in the three r’s could become a good librarian with on the job training, and then grow into the job and excel without a pricey degree – although a further degree for some types of librarian is a necessity. But in these neoliberal days, we can’t have businesses or governments training employees. Employees are supposed to be experts before they can enter most professions these days. (And bankers make lotsa of money from degree inflation via student loans.)

                Must maximise shareholder value whilst reducing citizen value.

                Libraries and librarians provide useful social functions and services that add value to any community. Librarians deserve a decent wage and living standards.

    3. Mark Alexander

      My experience at the library in our little Vermont town is a bit different. This library is small enough (approx. 29K items in the catalog) that the only salaried person is the part time librarian, who has years of experience in library managment, and a degree in library science if I’m not mistaken. I believe she makes about $18/hour. We also have two IT people who work on an as-needed basis: one keeps the Windows machines alive, and the other (me) runs the Koha server on a Debian virtual host. (If I had my say, I’d replace the Windows machines with Linux and then we wouldn’t have to pay Microsoft for OS and office software license fees). I get paid $600/year for my IT work. I also volunteer two our three hours a week doing clerical work: shelving, cataloging, etc.: the kind of thing I did in high school as a “page”. We have a bunch of other volunteers who do this latter kind of work. So there’s not a lot of wage money here.

      What I’ve learned after several years working here is that the people who run the budget committee in town seem to regard the library as unimportant, almost superfluous. The library budget is never increased year-to-year; in fact, it’s sometimes reduced because the town will take money from one source of funding to use to cover a shortfall elsewhere. And when the librarian begs for more funds to cover expenses, the town says, “Get more volunteers!” — something they wouldn’t do for, say, the road crew or the town office.

      I’m not sure what conclusion to draw here. It’s almost as if Jeff Bezos were on the town’s selectboard.

      1. ambrit

        It sounds like your town elite are experiencing their Marie Antionette moment. Next are the ‘infernal devices’ left on doorsteps.

  14. Lorenzo

    Body-snatching fungi that give rise to sex-crazed cicadas before ripping off their genitals found to contain compounds seen in hallucinogenic drugs Daily Mail

    it’s funny how they kept mentioning that they found this or that compound in the infected cicadas but never got around to mentioning what that meant, trying to draw what is obviously a completely unfounded association, if only because if this actually unveiled something new about the compounds’ effects on humans they would’ve said as much.

  15. s.n.

    I admit that I’m more than a bit out of the loop so it’s only today that i’ve become acquainted with the QAnon phenomenon. The first mention I caught was David Cole’s piece devoted to it on last night’s Takimag (Cole’s an unmentionable of course, as is taki in general, but he does write a funny column). And then tonight there’s the Rolling Stone version
    not quite sure what it all signifies: “Pizzagate on bath salts”?

  16. Oregoncharles

    “Comcast installed Wi-Fi gear without approval—and this city is not happy Ars Technica”
    Apparently I should be reading the local paper. “This city” is Corvallis, where I live, but I find out about this local news from NC and Ars Technica.

    The story has both local and very broad aspects. The local one is that Corvallis is a bit of an oasis, an example of progressive government at its most positive. So the city’s regulation of the cable service that uses its right of way (“ROW”) is very tight. Comcast, who in my experience are remarkably slimy and sloppy, violated their agreement with the city and Corvallis objected, as they should. For one thing, they want to get paid for commercial use of the municipal ROW. As they should. It’s also a good question whether we want yet more microwaves in our air.

    The broad aspect is pre-emption of local initiatives by state or federal laws – or in this case, regulatory bodies. Another example also involved Corvallis: a movement to pass local statutes, by initiative, that banned GMOs and similar agricultural practices. (Background: the Willamette Valley is a center for horticulture, a lot of it organic, and a lot of it seed production. GMOs anywhere nearby are a threat to the whole business, because of cross-fertilization.) That was pre-empted by state law. Despite being dominated by Democrats, Oregon isn’t always all that progressive. (I’m stepping on site usage of that term, here, mostly because I don’t know of a better one. “Progressive” is usefully broad.)

  17. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Democrats Will Regret Becoming the Anti-Russia Party Foreign Policy

    A lot of the recent Foreign Policy links on NC have been to quite good articles, but while the premise of this latest one sounds about right, the details are a lacking.

    These traditional roles have been heightened because of U.S. President Donald Trump’s posture toward Russia. His policies are inexplicable when compared to recent American history, his own government’s explicit strategy, or any objective assessment of current U.S.-Russian relations.

    “Inexplicable compared to recent American history” – really? I’m so old I remember a guy who told Mitt Romney that the 80s were calling and wanted their foreign policy back when Romney tried to advocate for anti-Russian policies. If I remember right that guy was named Obama and I’m pretty sure he was president just before Trump.

  18. ChrisAtRU

    Donald Trump: Good Cop Bad Cop

    Clouseau – “The good-cop-bad-cop routine is working perfectly!”
    Ton-Ton – “You know … usually two different cops do that …”

    Yet Here We Are

  19. Anon

    RE: CalPERS -Marcie Frost- And Whom?!

    Mike Hiltzik ( has a follow-up article to Yves reveal on the Asubonten fiasco.

    It seems Ms. Frost is now in the cross-hairs

    1. ambrit

      I dunno. It looks like a plain old Green ‘Peeper’ from here Down South, and probably a lot of other places too. I’ve held them in my hand. Icky and cute at the same time.

  20. Plenue

    >Russian “Agent” And A GOP Operator Left A Trail Of Cash, Documents Reveal Buzzfeed News

    “Federal investigators say some of the money went to Maria Butina’s campaign to help Russia infiltrate American politics.”

    Who is ‘Russia’? What. Does. This. Mean. Is she a private Russian citizen who likes guns too much, or is she a Russian government agent?

    “In addition to Erickson’s help in the US, Butina, prosecutors say, had a powerful benefactor back in Russia. Her indictment said that she was communicating with Russian intelligence while here and was “acting at the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government.”

    That person, federal authorities told BuzzFeed News, is Alexander Torshin — Butina’s former boss, once a member of Russia’s upper house of parliament, and a close confidant of President Vladimir Putin.”

    Evidence, please, not assertions. Also, I should note that even if true, it doesn’t actually prove this was a Russian government operation. Was Torshin acting with sanction and in his capacity as a government official? I need more than “this guy knows Putin”.

  21. Susan the other

    The Market Police. Excellent book review. Boston Review. “Globalists, The End of Empire and The Birth of Neoliberalism.” Quinn Slobodian. Harvard U.P. Thank you Olga.

  22. Plenue

    >How the “Happiest Muslims in the World” are Coping with Their Happiness

    I don’t want to be seen as attempting to justify what the Chinese government is doing (concentration camps are completely unacceptable), but this article seems to implicitly reject that there are any real security concerns in relation to the Uyghur. There are separatists in Xinjiang, whose view is that their region was illegally incorporated into China in 1949. I’m not saying that they don’t have a point, and outside of the goal of an independent nation, they’re resisting what can only be described as a slow motion cultural genocide via Han immigration and forced ‘reeducation’. Resistance takes both non-violent and violent forms, including jihadists. Yes, I know this amounts to a self-made problem for China; they wouldn’t have a security concern in the area if they just gave up on owning the area. But there is a context for their actions.

    Also there’s the fact that Turkey is using thousands of Chinese expat Uyghur jihadists in Northern Syria. These types can’t really make any claim that they’re resisting Chinese colonization, given that they’re killing non-Chinese 4,000 kilometers from home. So some Uyghurs are being turned into violent extremists outside of just the context of regional independence.

  23. Ignacio

    Today there is an op-ed at El Pais (and I guess in many EU newspapers) written by Michel Barnier explaining EU’s position on brexit and why negotiations are failing. It is succint but it stablishes in few paragraphs the main points of the divorce agreement that almost certainly won’t be signed except an 11th hour reaction is achieved to avoid chaos.
    Very intelligent because brexit coverage has been awful in spanish media.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thanks for that – he is clear and succinct as always.

      Although I think its not always clear what he means about an ‘Agreement’. I think he solely means the interim agreement to give the UK an extra 18 months transition period, while the British often interpret this as a final agreement on everything, including future arrangements.

      And once again the EU stick in their heels on the Irish border backstop. They have given London no wiggle room on this. Its clear that May will have to ditch the DUP if she is to get a deal.

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