Links 8/2/18

Why forests are spreading in the rich world The Economist

Germs gaining resistance to hand gels in hospitals Medical Xpress. The damn bugs adapted. Who could have predicted?

The big flaw: auditing in crisis FT

Wells Fargo to pay $2.09 billion fine over decade-old mortgage loans Reuters. “‘We are pleased to put behind us these legacy issues regarding claims related to residential mortgage-backed securities activities that occurred more than a decade ago,; Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan said” [vomits].

Your Spotify history could predict the state of the economy World Economic Forum

Why Our Public Pensions Need Stress Tests Governing


Brexit: Kamikaze pilots Eureferendum. “Tory! Tory! Tory!”

City of London slashes Brexit job-loss estimate Politico

UK takes heart at Angela Merkel’s rethink on Brexit FT

Exclusive: This Home Office leak reveals Theresa May could keep free movement in a no-deal Brexit Business Insider

Stockpiling food for a no-deal Brexit? Really? FT


Iran just heated up tensions with Trump in a major show of force to practice closing the Strait of Hormuz Business Insider

VIPS to Trump: Intel on Iran Could be CATASTROPHIC Consortium News

Saudi Arabia Planned to Invade Qatar Last Summer. Rex Tillerson’s Efforts to Stop It May Have Cost Him His Job. The Intercept

I traced missile casings in Syria back to their original sellers, so it’s time for the west to reveal who they sell arms to Robert RIsk, The Independent

‘Israel was the absolute darling of progressive, liberal America,’ but no more, says Chomsky Mondoweiss

Why Did The United States Invade Iraq In 2003? (PDF) Ahsan I. Butt, George Mason University. “I proffer the ‘performative war’ thesis, resting on the concepts of status, reputation, and hierarchy to explain the Iraq war.” On the one hand, this thesis does not give an account of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), which supplied Bush with national security apparatchiks and talking heads, as well as the ideological justification for war, but was formed in 1997 and pushed for regime change in Iraq from that date forward. On the other, “performative war” provides a nice rubric under which to fit The Blob‘s lust for war, any war, today, and its thrashing and whinging frustration at not being able to gin one up. Crossed fingers!

North Korea

Hawks Renew Their Attacks On North Korea Talks Moon of Alabama


Google Plans to Launch Censored Search Engine in China, Leaked Documents Reveal The Intercept. So that’s the moon shot their engineers have been working on!

Leninist logic to prove Andy Chan right Big Lychee, Various Sectors

Mike Pompeo’s Plan to Deny China Exclusive Rights to the Indo-Pacific Region The National Interest

What to Watch for From Southeast Asian States During the Pompeo Trip Council on Foreign Relations

Bangkok is sinking, so it built a park that holds a million gallons of rainwater to help prevent flooding Business Insider. While over here in the First World, we can’t even replace a tunnel under the Hudson that we are 100% certain will fail and cut rail communication on the East Coast in two.

New Cold War

Flynn, Comey, and Mueller: What Trump Knew and When He Knew It Murray Wass, NYRB. Important, especially given the venue.

Trump Pushes for Interview With Mueller Against Lawyers’ Advice NYT. Never talk to the police.

Donald Trump is Not the ‘Manchurian Candidate’ The American Conservative

* * *

Henry Kissinger: ‘At critical junctures Russia has saved the world’s equilibrium’ Russia Beyond

Trump Can’t Split Russia From China — Yet Bloomberg

Novichok poisoning: Ambulances used in Amesbury incident to undergo precautionary testing Express. Seems a little late?

Trump Transition

Supreme Court refuses, for now, to block kids’ climate case Lyle Denniston Law News (DK).

Appeals court rules Trump can’t withhold funds from California ‘sanctuary’ cities Los Angeles Times

Who is Q? Behind conspiracy theory erupting at Trump rallies AP

Trump’s pick to head White House science office gets good reviews Science

U.S. Historians Are Fighting to Stop ICE From Erasing Records of Agency’s Treatment of Immigrants Newsweek

Kris Kobach’s Lucrative Trail of Courtroom Defeats ProPubica. A reactionary grifter’s creative angle on law enforcement for profit.

Democrats in Disarray

Sanders, Warren question whether Dem primary is big enough for both of them The Hill

Who’s Afraid of Ocasio-Cortez? The Baffler

Why Democrats Should Embrace ‘Internet for All’ The Nation. Just so long as all content that uses the Cyrillic character set is blocked. You can’t be too careful.

Once again, California lawmakers won’t crack down on payday lenders Calmatters

An Engineer, an Economist, and an Ecomodernist Walk Into a Bar and Order a Free Lunch . . . Counterpunch. Includes a nice takedown of vertical farms.

Facebook Fracas

‘We Are Not Bots’: Facebook Censors U.S. Activists After Falsely Claiming They ‘Unwittingly’ Planned Protest Gizmodo

The Bizarre Facebook Path to Corporate Fascism Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report. A reaction to the events described above. I love the part where Facebook takes down accounts that engaged in “coordinated and inauthentic behavior.” Like all of social media? Anyhow, maybe they’re just correcting the record

Imperial Collapse Watch

Why I Didn’t Sign Up to Defend the International Order Foreign Policy

Where Is the Left Wing’s Foreign Policy? The New Republic

2018 Fields Medal And Nevanlinna Prize Winners Quanta

Thieves steal Swedish crown jewels, flee in motorboat CBC

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. Olga
    The company – IrisGuard – is forcing refugees in Jordan to “register” their irises to receive food rations. This is touted as the future:
    ” IrisGuard, and companies like it, have developed and are promoting biometric alternatives to finger prints, debit cards, and pin numbers. Iris-recognition is the fastest growing of the new technologies, and has a number of advantages. Each person’s iris (the colored part of the eye that takes in light) is unique and remains the same throughout a lifetime. In a span of ten seconds, an IrisGuard (or similar iris-recognition) device can take a digital picture of the eye, algorithmically convert it to a template and compare it to others in a database. The results are faster, more hygienic, and more accurate than using fingerprints.”
    Where will this lead?

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Where will this lead?

      To a mess, a big one with more far reaching consequences than even the loss of your SSN to hackers. Once the hacker (or whoever) has your biometric data in digital form, you;re cooked. You can’t just change your eyes, for ex. The people behind the move to biometric data know this full well and couldn’t give a fig for the dangers any more than Experian could care if your SSN was stolen other than as a potential profit event. At it’s worst, It is part of a larger effort to gain control over users. At it’s best, its a cynical sales move where, much like liar loans, those initiating it are partially to perfectly aware of but altogether indifferent to the dangers involved.

      People must be made aware – but heavens knows how that will happen given the bobble-heads parading around as media.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Here’s a fun article on cracking Aadhar, the world’s largest biometric database experiment on > 1 B people:

        Startup idea: a new iris installation company, a la Minority Report. Maybe get in on the grift and call it a “necessary medical procedure”. Build a device, then send doctors on Bermuda cruises to learn all about it. Device sales gals in short skirts pestering ophthalmologists to buy one, EZ payment plans from JPM Chase. They can get a contract with the DoD to harvest irises from droned Yemeni children. Hey I’m liking this “American innovation” stuff!

      2. Carey

        Argh. They got me at SFO a few years ago, strongly suggesting in Customs that
        one had no choice but to submit (just the right word) to an iris scan, and I did.

  2. emorej a hong kong

    “‘We are pleased to put behind us these legacy issues regarding claims related to residential mortgage-backed securities activities that occurred more than a decade ago,; Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan said”

    Fixed that for you:

    ‘We are pleased at the success of our strategy to deny and delay, while homeowners were bankrupted, evicted, displaced, hopeless and/or dead & buried in unmarked graves, until we could call this “old news”‘

    1. perpetualWAR

      But, but where is the apology from the rest of the crooks? Where is the apology from Obama/Holder/Geithner? Oh….right…..Obama is busy dancing to Beyonce and yachting with Branson. And Geithner is now part of the swindle…..and finally Holder believes we are so stupid to forget that as the top cop he allowed the swindlers open season with no fear of the slammer.

    2. Jean

      Addendum for you:

      “[Same quote] and we look forward to Wells-washing with our new ad campaign, the fraudulent car loans with tacked on superfluous insurance, the fake accounts, the fee gouging, muni bond rigging, foreclosure abuses, FHA insurance shell games, student loan abuses and all the other opportunities for highway robbery that we have used to suck money out of American’s pockets.”

      Why Americans still commit financial machochism at this bank is beyond me.

      “Friends don’t let friends bank at Wells Fargo.”

      1. perpetualWAR

        Friends don’t let friends bank at Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citibank, US Bank or the worst one Chase!

        There…..fixed that for you.

        Actually, we all should be banking at “portfolio lender” banks. The ones who make loans AND KEEP the notes.

      2. Craig H.

        The biggest relationship for many folks is their mortgage (death pledge). Most if not all mortgages are negotiable and marketable securities. You can sign a mortgage in your zip code with your local Jimmy Stewart banker and he can sell it to Wells Fargo the next day. So perhaps friends should not let friends do business with bank industry at all.

        I keep procrastinating asking my credit union buddies if they sell some of their mortgages to any buyer; presumably they do so but I pretend they do not and prefer to deny the contrary.

    3. Westcoastdeplorable

      Didn’t you hear? Wells Fargo is “restarting” itself! Nothing to fear here /sarc

      1. The Rev Kev

        Is that like when Hillary during the 2016 campaign kept on getting herself ‘introduced’ to the public several times over?

    1. Linden S.

      There has been lots of pushback (from climate scientists, journalists and other experts) on the framing of this article. Climate change is not simply the result of some deep flaw of general humanity, but a result of greed and at-all-costs pursuit of wealth.

      A thread from Dr. Leah Stokes

      A thread from Inside Climate News, which broke open the role of Exxon and other oil companies in leading the charge on climate denialism.

    2. Carolinian

      When I asked John Sununu about his part in this history — whether he considered himself personally responsible for killing the best chance at an effective global-warming treaty — his response echoed Meyer-Abich. “It couldn’t have happened,” he told me, “because, frankly, the leaders in the world at that time were at a stage where they were all looking how to seem like they were supporting the policy without having to make hard commitments that would cost their nations serious resources.” He added, “Frankly, that’s about where we are today”

      Sununu is the villain of the piece but is that wrong–a mere rationalization? Some of us don’t think so. It could be we are far more likely to find a technical, scientific solution to the problem (yes, even geoengineering) than we are to solve human nature. And part of that nature is the urge to breed without limit. The global warming crisis is also a population crisis so it is indeed all of us who are creating it. not just Exxon.

      1. a different chris

        “urge to breed without limit”.

        So why does the birth rate fall as personal security trends upward? Causing much freakout among the controlling classes, btw. Humans are, subconsciously anyway, not as stupid as we seem.

      2. JTMcPhee

        So Sununu was just a water boy carrying the bucket? Like Lighthiser and his predecessors? And maybe even Kissinger and the Dulles Brothers (or are those not analogous enough?)

        1. Carolinian

          Guess I’m saying that the premise of the piece–that global warming could have been stopped but wasn’t because of Sununu–isn’t very convincing. The author claims “everybody knew” about AGW in the 80s and even earlier. It may be my trick memory but I don’t remember the hue and cry in the media. The fact that some people knew including the petroleum industry doesn’t mean they were really going to do much about it. People knew that smoking caused cancer for many years before the government finally acted. That was another case where not just vested interests but also the public at large–those smokers–opposed restrictions. You can’t expect western countries whose very economies are built on fossil fuels to turn on a dime or even two or three decades.

          That’s just my opinion. Personally my consumption of fossil fuels is quite low. I hope all those who claim to be activists on the topic can say the same.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Perhaps readers will take advantage of suitable NaCap posts and threads to describe how they are achieving quite low use of fossil fuels in the teeth of a civilization and society carefully engineered on purpose to pressure people into quite high levels of fossil fuel consumption.

  3. William Beyer

    A million gallons of rainwater collection – the equivalent of one Olympic-size swimming pool – in a city the size of Bangkok is a thimbleful. If they built a thousand of them, that might be a story.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, its obviously only useful on a very local level. What is always needed for a city like Bangkok is to ensure every development is based on a SUDS system – that the run-off from the built up area is no more than that from a grassed field. Its perfectly possible (although obviously harder in a tropical/monsoon region).

      The ancient cities of SE Asia frequently had very sophisticated systems of holding ponds and canals for exactly this purpose. The Thais are actually relatively more advanced than other countries in the region at looking at issues like this. Its unfortunate that Bangkok was mostly built fast and cheap, and there is simply not enough open space for more schemes like this. It would take a lot of imagination to make the city even remotely resilient in the face of climate change.

      1. John

        Bangkok’s biggest mistake was to fill in all the canals and put in multilane roads for cars. They had a system that worked. LA was their model. Shoulda been Venice or Amsterdam.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          There are small little fragments of Bangkok that show the city that might have been – quiet leafy shaded alleys and waterways and some older boulevards, traffic free suburbs linked with bike trails (and accidental by-product of people settling swamps on an ad-hoc basis – it proved impossible to build roads). Sadly, they built highways and poured lots of concrete instead.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          Exactly. And if they cleaned up the canals, not only would the city be beautiful, but there would be an entirely new category of insanely profitable real estate plays. Perhaps at some point somebody will figure that out.

          The street patten is also riverine, and not gridlike, in that there are main arteries, tributaries, and then everything fingers out to tiny capillaries. Perhaps the ocean will just fill all the streets up, saving the expenses of building the canals. Sadly, the condo towers are not built in stilts…

      2. Lord Koos

        Are building dikes a possibility for Bangkok? If so, I wonder why the government has not started on it. If not, the city will likely be underwater before 2100.

    2. Peter VE

      Providence, RI is protected by a hurricane barrier from the storm surges which used to inundate the downtown. Part of the barrier is a pump house to pump out the rainwater which comes with a hurricane. The total capacity of the 5 pumps is over 3,000,000 gallons per minute. Providence covers about 18 1/2 square miles, Bangkok over 600. They need a lot more than 1 million gallon holding tanks….

  4. PlutoniumKun

    Saudi Arabia Planned to Invade Qatar Last Summer. Rex Tillerson’s Efforts to Stop It May Have Cost Him His Job. The Intercept

    Lest anyone think that the world is in the charge of adults:

    The UAE’s harassment of Qatar also includes crude public insults lodged by UAE leadership against the Qatari royal family. The jibes frequently emanate from the verified Twitter account of Hamad al Mazrouei, a high-level Emirati intelligence official and righthand man to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. Mazrouei’s account frequently tweets sexually suggestive content directed at Mozah bint Nasser, the mother of the emir of Qatar. Just last week, Mazrouei tweeted a video of a man and woman – with Mazrouei and Sheikha Mozah’s faces photoshopped onto their bodies – doing a raunchy bump-and-grind.

    The content and audacity of Mazrouei’s tweets have led to speculation in Qatari media that the account is actually controlled by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi himself.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Good story that, PK. I wonder if that rumpy-bumpy clip was from the Crown Prince’s personal stash. I think that the Saudis may have given up on the idea of a land invasion of Qatar. The reason that I say this is that the Saudis have commenced a project to dig a canal that will turn the peninsular of Qatar into a fully fledged island and just to put the boot in, will store nuclear waste near this canal/border with Qatar. When your mind-set is in the 13th century, you come up with ideas like this.
      If the Saudis and UAE had invaded Qatar, like they did Bahrain, I wonder what the Turkish troops in that base stationed there would have done? I wonder if Iran would have launched ballistic missiles against the Saudis invading Qatar. I wonder if the US would have had to provide military cover to protect the Saudis – and show the world that they were taking part in the invasion of yet another Muslim majority country. And I wonder about all those foreigners present if they would become collateral damage.
      Hmmm. The more I think about the implications of such an invasion, I think that it was a good thing that we never found out.

      1. jsn

        As Qatar hosts the largest US base in the Middle East, it would certainly have been interesting to watch the generals in DC scratch their heads, a lot like their brilliant thinking in Syria, had the Saudis invaded.

  5. Phillip Allen

    Quoted from Glen Ford’s essay:

    Facebook did not contend that these anti-racists’ behavior was “inauthentic,” but that the first ad for the event was purchased by a group calling itself “Resisters” that Facebook believes were behaving much like the Internet Research Agency. “At this point in our investigation, we do not have enough technical evidence to state definitively who is behind it,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy . “But we can say that these accounts engaged in some similar activity and have connected with known I.R.A accounts.”

    The doctrine of signature strikes comes home.

    1. Donald

      What tickles me about the Russia hysteria is how fragile it makes us sound. The Russians are going to make us hate each other with their fiendish Facebook accounts. Like we weren’t hating each other before. Someone take away the keys to the First Amendment— we aren’t ready to face a cold cruel media world which contains propaganda.

      1. djrichard

        First Amendment obviously needs to be limited only to authentic speech.

        Where’s our Diogenes when we need him? Let’s give that person a lamp to look for the honest people.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      It really doesn’t get much better than Black Agenda Report. A short, jam-packed must read IMHO. Emphasis mine.

      Special prosecutor Robert Mueller was forced to flip the script, indicting 13 Russians for promoting general “discord” and undermining “public confidence in democracy” in the United States – thus creating a political crime that has not previously been codified in the United States.
      With former FBI Director Robert Mueller at the head of the pack, they have created a pseudo legal doctrine whereby “Russians” (or U.S. spooks pretending to be Russians) can be indicted for launching a #MeToo campaign of mimicry, echoing the rhetoric and memes indigenous to U.S. political struggles, while the genuine, “authentic” American political voices — the people who are being mimicked — are labeled co-conspirators in a foreign-based “plot,” and their rights to speech and assembly are trashed.

      As an aside, I’m starting to think that the zuck should be quakin’ in his boots. There was a Homeland story line several years back in which a punk ass social media “entrepreneur” got surreptitiously in bed with the cia in its bid to “manage perception.” When senor punk ass began to object that the cia was hijacking his “creation” in ways that conflicted with his “mission,” well….let’s just say it didn’t end well for the boy genius, if memory serves.

      For those who don’t partake, Homeland has proven eerily prescient on more than one occasion.

      1. Carolinian

        Of course the social media driven Arab Spring quickly turned into a CIA operation–at least in Syria. See today’s’ Robert Fisk story about American weapons evidence found in former jihadi hideouts.

        The H’wood scriptwriters probably didn’t have to look very far to find this plot line.

        1. Lord Koos

          There is a CIA office that is dedicated to working with Hollywood. There is often a lot of subliminal (and not so subliminal) propaganda in the more mainstream Hollywood films.

      2. JTMcPhee

        For anyone at all interested in the statutory context for a charge of “obstructioin of justice,” here is a primer on the breadth of chargeable behavior:

        And the statute itself:

        LBJ might have been guilty of something under that broad language, I bet, along with every other mover and shaker in the Bubble. I guess it comes down to who holds the hammer, and that also elastic proposition called “prosecutorial discretion…”

    1. Kurtismayfield

      We need a link? The original name of the invasion was Operation Iraqi Liberation. The reason was in the name!

      1. Adam Eran

        Actually, Iraq has the second-largest proven reserves in the region (Saudis are #1), so Greg Palast says the invasion was to keep the oil in the ground. Otherwise, oil prices would have declined.

        That’s an especially big deal for the deep water / fracked oil, which is so expensive to extract that low prices mean drillers would have to abandon their wells…or pump unprofitable oil.

      1. John B

        The author’s thesis is that the Iraq invasion was “performative war” intended to convince the rest of the world that the United States is tough, in a way that no negotiated settlement could have.

        On the entertaining “Helluva Way to Die” podcast, the hosts — Iraq and Afghan war veterans — speak of it differently, as “taking scalps,” playing to a domestic audience of racist uncles who love seeing Muslims humiliated.

        I’m not sure what audience Hillary Clinton’s demonstrations of toughness were directed at, or JFKs, or Johnson’s, but it seems the same phenomenon — war at least partly for its own sake, independent of any clear policy objective. The leader’s individual psychology is important. Those who feel they have something to prove are a menace. I wonder if there’s a test?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          “Because we could” was my suspicion since the Woodward book revealing Rumsfeld’s yearn for targets to run on the nightly news when Afghanistan wasn’t working out.

          The state of Iraq in 2003.
          -10 years of sanctions.
          -a major war where infrastructure was targeted
          -its cut off from the USA and USSR which it relied on.
          -prior to the Persian Gulf War, it had fought a major 10 year conflict
          -half the population was under 18 (they weren’t ready to fight the invaders)
          -the U.S. had pre-position equipment and control of the skies
          -myths of U.S. reconstruction efforts in Germany and Japan.
          -a major technological edge
          -no WMDS; the ability to retaliate simply wasn’t significant. Even their missile programs were poor due to severe exhaustion of the country and sanctions.
          -a convenient villain who had been around for a while with two sons who weren’t likely to succeed him (the war plans the Pentagon had drawn up in the 90’s for Iraq was about managing a humanitarian crisis from a succession crisis in Iraq)
          -open, flat areas to run the tanks where they wouldn’t be susceptible to ambush.

          Monsters will still be monsters, but the perception the war would be easy and swift definitely made it important to support in DC (not that any of its supporters should be forgiven in any fashion).

          A country like Iran was always a threat to the energy delivery and would be beyond the means for rapid medical treatment.

    2. Wyoming

      I can’t help you with the link. But the reason was …oil…oil…oil. “Liberation” of their oil into our control to be precise.

    3. RUKidding

      Remember the Iraqi Oil Dividend that We, the People, were supposed to benefit from? That dividend was gonna pay for the Eye-Rack WAR scam, and then some.

      Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…. Fooled you once, fooled you twice, you’re a dope, STFU.

      A whole lotta people made a whole lotta moolah outta that War, Inc scam, just not We, The People. Talk to Darth, er, Dick Cheney about what got siphoned into his deep pockets, if you can find him. I’m sure Henry the K got his cut as well, along with a buncha other creeps, crooks, scammers, and assorted nasty pyschopaths.

    4. Richard Kline

      Iraq 2003 was absolutely a performative war; self-evidently such at the time. This was why the putative reasons were so fake but that mattered so little even as they were uttered: nobody cared. They weren’t the real ‘reasons,’ they were simply plausible causes for what was wished to be done regardless. The idea wasn’t new, but was a principal part of Bush pere’s program. Performance was the main meal, oil just a whiskey chaser after, if that.

      The performative war function of Iraq 2003 was also a principal reason why the actual occupation administration was so incompetently executed: it didn’t really matters and hasn’t mattered. What mattered was blasting the Saddamites off the board and sitting in their palace seats while the cameras rolled. That mattered an enormous lot to Middle America. And still matters a bunch internationally. Iraqis getting their heads shoved face first into a garbage disposal’s blades, speaking figuratively? Didn’t matter and still doesn’t to most; they’re just quarrelsome wogs, hell with ’em.

  6. allan

    CBS hires law firms to probe CEO Moonves misconduct allegations [Reuters]

    CBS Corp said on Wednesday it retained two law firms for a full investigation into the allegations about Chairman and Chief Executive Leslie Moonves, CBS News and cultural issues in the company….

    The investigation by the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton will be led by Mary Jo White, a former chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, CBS said.

    Covington & Burling, which previously worked with Uber Technologies Inc to look into its culture and workplace practices, is the second law firm that will probe the matter. …

    The jokes write themselves.

    1. Enquiring Mind

      The jokes write themselves.

      But will there be much discussion on The Talk, headed by Moonves’ wife? How will Whoopie and the gang dance around the topic? On second thought, I probably don’t want to know.

    2. RUKidding

      Yeah. That IS a big joke. Just as big as how nasty Moonves got away with his egregious behavior for decades.


      Rich White Powerful Man syndrome. Linked to that Affluenza syndrome, where rich white teen sons of rich white powerful men don’t have to go to jail for their crimes.

      Notice a pattern?

      It’s a club, but I sure ain’t in it.

  7. PlutoniumKun

    Brexit: Kamikaze pilots Eureferendum. “Tory! Tory! Tory!”

    City of London slashes Brexit job-loss estimate Politico

    UK takes heart at Angela Merkel’s rethink on Brexit FT

    Exclusive: This Home Office leak reveals Theresa May could keep free movement in a no-deal Brexit Business Insider

    Stockpiling food for a no-deal Brexit? Really? FT

    I’m beginning to think there is a dreadful paradox at work with the Brexit dynamics. There seems a strong concensus in certain sectors – most notably finance – that it will all be ok, that a fudge deal will be done. All todays links more or less buy into this.

    But the assumption I’ve seen from the ‘a deal will be done’ advocates is that it will be done when a rapidly escalating crisis forces the UK government (either on the initiative of May, or of Parliament) to accept whatever the EU has on the table.

    So the assumption that a deal will be done depends on an assumption of a late-year crisis. But the deeper the former assumption takes hold, the less likely the latter assumption will occur. If everyone thinks its fine, there will be no slump in Sterling, no mad exodus, and so…. no reason for the Tories to panic.

    So no deal will be done.

    1. Olga

      I see an outline of a clever plan – make a huge mess of Bx. negotiations, scare folks out of their minds (kinda like during the Scottish referendum), and make them believe that the sky will fall. Then propose to hold another vote on the exit. Spooked British public would then reverse themselves. Problem fixed…

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Then propose to hold another vote on the exit.

        That can’t be done in the available time-frame. The metaphor of a plane flying over the Atlantic with the staff still handing out snacks, even though the pilot knows they’re going to run out of fuel before they reach land, is apt.

        1. Dandelion

          What is the possibility of Parliament just …. not? What authority binds Parliament to the referendum? I’m not being sarcastic, this is a genuine question.

          1. Bugs Bunny

            I don’t understand it either since the UK is a parliamentary monarchy with no power directly vested in its subjects. Parliament should be able to vote no?

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            Its basically an issue of Vox Populi Vox Dei. What will the “no” voters do? What will the “yes” voters do if Parliament were to reject the referendum?

            One of the divides in the Brexit Vote was the youth vote where young Brits saw Brexit as a detriment to both their job prospects and ability to move freely on the contient. How do they feel now in light of the economic doldrums in the world and the rise of new custom borders and economic nationalism going on? Brexit aside, did they really have the opportunities in Europe they thought they had? Outside of that, how do they feel about the EU?

            The 2008 Bailout vote is an interesting vote. They say the switchboards lit up like crazy (like they had never seen), but Congress voted for the bailouts despite people going crazy with an election right around the corner. Given everything that had happened during the Bush years, I don’t think there was a member of Congress who stood to lose or gain based on that vote (maybe Norm Coleman), and they were free to vote the way they saw fit free of electoral consequences. The losers weren’t going to save themselves by voting “no” at that point, and the edge the Democrats had meant the winners weren’t going to lose. Obama seemed like a change, and the Democrats had pretty much promised to keep the powder dry and to make changes when they controlled Congress and the White House which seemed to be on the way. In many ways ,people accepted this arrangement and could make temporary accommodation while 43 was doing the heavy lifting protecting Obama (McCain didn’t have a shot).

            Where is the UK politically? Politicians like to be popular and want to be liked. They get off on it. They lack certainty now. The only reason there was a referendum was David Cameron expected a “no” result.

            1. foghorn longhorn

              I recall one senator, can’t recall who, stating calls were 90% against bailout.
              Finished interview saying they should have a bailout passed by the end of the day.
              And they did.

        2. jonhoops

          Lambert, you keep asserting that it is too late for another vote. Some evidence please.

          Under the British system if a vote of no confidence happens and the Queen dissolves Parliament an election is required by law within 25 days. They can put on a vote very quickly unlike the US.

          1. jonhoops

            Also when May called for the snap election on April 17,2017, the vote was held on June 8 less than 2 months later.

        3. Darthbobber

          I think you might be surprised at how much flexibility the EU would suddenly have about the timeline if that was both necessary and sufficient to produce the desired result. Seemingly ironclad things become quite malleable when needed there.

  8. Frenchguy

    Re: Flynn, Comey, and Mueller: What Trump Knew and When He Knew It

    I can see the usual suspects go crazy on this but, maybe I’m missing something, it seems quite thin to me:

    The central incident in the case that the president obstructed justice was provided by former FBI Director James B. Comey, who testified that Trump pressed Comey, in a private Oval Office meeting on February 14, 2017, to shut down an FBI criminal investigation of Trump’s former national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Comey has testified the president told him.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Good to see Murry Wass is still at it.

      If there is no there, there, in re the original purpose of the investigation. Time for a little jury nullification on this so-called obstruction if it gets that far. So far the takeaway from all of this should be – Dam* Feds just make up crimes all the time.

      Systemic problems.

    2. DJG

      Thanks, Frenchguy. I also am wondering about the thin gruel, although I trust Murray Waas to get the timeline of events right.

      Quoting a few more paragraphs:
      At this dinner, Trump suggested to Comey that his job might not be secure, leading Comey to believe that Trump was attempting to “create some sort of patronage relationship,” something that was very troubling to Comey “given the FBI’s traditionally independent status.” Comey testified that:

      A few moments later the president said, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence.

      On February 8, 2017, The Washington Post contacted the White House to say that it was about to publish a story citing no less than nine sources that Flynn had indeed spoken to Kislyak about sanctions.

      And a numbered list, because I am vachement organized this morning:

      1. Traditional independence of the FBI? Did Trump serve Comey hash brownies at the dinner? The FBI has been a squad of goons since its beginning.
      2. If I were any new president, I would have sent a signal to the likes of Comey that his tenure on the job wasn’t secure. I realize that Comey fancies himself a moral beacon, but the FBI is too political to have any president avoid dealing with its many failures and flaws. Like J. Edgar, Comey was overripe.
      3. So much of this case seems to hang on entrapping Flynn, who is a buffoon, for talking to Ambassador Kislyak. So it is a crime to talk to the Russian ambassador? And I’m not so amazed that the FBI is bruiting it about that it is recording all communications with the Russian ambassador. The problem is that the FBI shouldn’t have revealed it.
      4. Why am I feeling a flashback to Linda Tripp entrapping Monica Lewinsky (who probably would have made a better general and foreign-policy expert than Flynn)?
      5. And then we get Mike Pence? And what? Endless recitations of verses from the Book of Revelations along with public witch burnings with gayfolk as the fuel?

      If the whole U.S. regime is going to turn on the rather flimsy legal provision of not lying to the FBI, we are going to have the Praetorian FBI Guard choosing the emperors.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      You’re not missing anything. This whole “case” is built on such thin air–one-on-one dinners; comey’s narrative-serving, after-the-fact “recollections” of ordinary conversations between an adversarial employee and his new boss; and the idea that the intelligence apparatus is, somehow, an “independent” authority unto itself–that many americans are seeing right through it, to the great consternation of those trying so hard to sell it.

      Hence the periodic appearance of pieces such as this, attempting to turn innuendo and spin into evidence, and stalling for time until the “blue wave” can get its hands on the ball and run with it.

      1. larry

        Comey was saying that the FBI was independent of the president. It is not independent of the Department of Justice. Trump appears to have been asking for Comey’s personal loyalty to himself. This is outrageous. Whether the FBI works according to its remit or not, its loyalty in the end is to the justice department, not to any particular person, whether that person is the president or not.

        1. Eureka Springs

          Then why can a president fire a person in Comey’s position? I thought the FBI was created by a president for a president? Seems to me like the president should at least expect a person in Comey’s position wouldn’t manufacture crimes against a president (or anyone for that matter) from such absurdities as the Steele dossier. And certainly shouldn’t be anywhere near an investigation of their boss.

        2. Beniamino

          Seems like a wacky conceit that the President should enjoy no oversight over the FBI, an executive agency with jurisdiction over many, many more potential crimes than it can ever hope to investigate or prosecute and which inevitably focuses its time & resources based at least in part on political priorities. If a presidential candidate campaigns & is elected on a platform of drug legalization / liberalization, civil rights, antitrust, whatever (not to say that such was the case with Trump), I think it’s legitimate to expect that the FBI would adhere to that agenda on the president’s orders and that management figures would be fired if they refused to do so. OK, stipulate that the FBI is technically beholden to the DoJ, not the President – who is the DoJ beholden to? Within the bounds of the law, to the President, right?

        3. a different chris

          Did I misunderstand the “three branches of government” way back in junior high???? Is the DOJ part of the Executive Branch or not? Is Trump the top dog in the Executive Branch or not?

          I heavily dislike the “swear personal loyalty” part myself – in fact the whole concept of “loyalty” is a bit disturbing when you are talking about people whose job is to enforce laws, on each other if necessary – but Trump is the top of the Exec Branch chain and, this being America, he can fire Comey for whatever reason he wants to.

          And American can judge that behavior at the ballot box. That’s how it works.

        4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Asking for loyalty can mean many things.

          One of these things could be ‘Captain of the Praetorian Guard, I ask you to not stage a coup against me.’

          Or it could be something simple like, ‘Do not leak information to the news media.’

      2. lyman alpha blob

        I admit to only reading half the article, but one word was conspicuously absent – entrapment.

        That seems to be all that is going on here and given Mueller’s proclivity for it (sending FBI agents to set up fake “terrorists”), you’d think the article would mention it. The spooks played gotcha with Flynn using a recorded phone call on something that didn’t even matter. Flynn said he didn’t discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador but so what if he did? It isn’t illegal to discuss such things with foreign ambassadors, in fact that would seem to be part of the job description. The spooks could have asked Flynn what time the call was made and if he got that wrong, they would have indicted him for that instead. Then Mueller uses that ‘gotcha’ to entrap Trump. And that’s supposedly top notch detective work?

        The question nobody seems to be asking is why the hell the spooks are able to wiretap any phone call any time they feel like it in the first place? And Congress doesn’t seem to have a problem with it at all. And yet they still try to call this country “the land of the free”.

    4. ChiGal in Carolina

      Well, in a way it’s fitting that it’s Trump’s big mouth and overweening “I did it my way” m.o. that get him in trouble.

      I don’t think much of impeaching him based on obstruction when the original goal of the investigation was supposed to be collusion, and it seems pretty clear there is no evidence for that. BUT like many other readers here whose dislike of the corrupt Clintons did not cause them to see DT through rose-colored glasses, I have long believed that what he was afraid of was his OWN corruption coming out in the open. (Not that there isn’t already enough unsavory stuff out there, what with his settling over Trump U and his serial cheating on his wife; and he was elected anyway.)

      The irony is that his sleazy financial dealings would likely NOT be sufficient cause for impeachment–after all, he has refused to divest in broad daylight and whatever the courts have to say about that, per Jeri-Lynn he will still be prez for a good long while despite the emoluments clause.

      Personally, I don’t want him impeached cuz I don’t want to see Pence as prez. Maybe as with Clinton the best outcome is that he is technically impeached but not removed from office.

      But I have no doubt that just as he hangs himself on Twitter on a regular basis, if he is impeached it will basically be for being a blowhard.

      1. Summer

        “The irony is that his sleazy financial dealings would likely NOT be sufficient cause for impeachment…”

        That good ole Constitution at work!
        If you say that as a judge “sleazy financial dealings are not sufficient cause for impeachment,” you could be on your way to a bipartisan appointment to the Supreme Corp.

  9. SimonGirty

    Yep, having driven back from B’Ham, I surely did take Amtrak through that scary OLD tunnel last night. But, I’m amazed more folks aren’t spooked by any N. E. Corridor train ride, nowadays. Going backwards throjgh NJ at 85-90, with Acela flying by, it’s difficult not to notice, it’s more like a 3rd world amusement park ride, than mass transit for millions of people. Obviously, we’re being punished for NOT taking chauffer driven Maybachs through those other decaying tunnels? The Army War College did some card throwing, speculating about jihadists blowing up the Lincoln Tunnels, while melting-down Berwick’s Susquehanna Reactors. But, DC’s terrorists are likely to beat them to it?

    On the way up, I’d driven by Mariner 2’s ROW, directly across a pretty country road from Middletown, PA’s schools. Try fighting it, you go to jail!

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Those are from parts of America where they just didn’t keep up in the awesome economy. They failed to reinvent themselves for the new economy!

      If you don’t have to leave an enclave, you don’t have to see the country, and the country is bleak. As you noted DC, the “right” sort of people will squirm if you mention a location north of the zoo no matter how “woke” they are.

      1. SimonGirty

        Yup… old as I am, I remember my brother and myself being swept off our car’s hood by a 1948 GG1, pulling the Broadway Limited way over 100mph through Philly’s Main Line (hey, we were stoned, it was 1969). Growing up in rust-belt Appalachia, there was a (bituminous powered) 17 ton PCC car every 8 minutes, in our piss-poor streetcar suburb (ie: ofay slum, with trees & goats). I used to think the Ruhr archaic, by comparison.

        Driving up I-59, I-75, I-40 & I-81, IS like a time machine (Jesus, was I happy to drink real coffee & eat kielbasa to P-Funk & AC/DC at the first SHEETZ & more mixed couples in Staunton, VA than Manhattan). BUT… just who knows which direction the devolution is running? I can see why A-Beka denies Evolution, the DeVos’ crowd simply hasn’t experienced it, what with all the incestuous pedophilia? Man, do I ever miss Joe Bageant!

      1. SimonGirty

        Long before Sandy wasted a number of far more complex tunnels, these 105 yr old tubes (and a swing bridge, by Newark) were suffering from the same lack of maintenance plaguing the MTA, NJT, SEPTA, LIRR… add acronym, here. I’m not kidding, any AMTRAK trip is getting scarier each time: running gear, staffing, as well as ROW infrastructure. Traveling by jet chopper, it must seem annoying, that the help spend hours, stuck beneath the streets, packed into 110F tunnels. I couldn’t believe the 34th St 7th Ave station, last night. Republicans ALWAYS try to destroy mass transit. But, at least they’re straight forward about our nightmarish lives not being their problem.

      2. Pat

        Let’s see they are 80+ years old, have been maintained in the typical manner for the US (meaning hardly at all), and were never intended to handle the level of traffic they do.

        The equipment in them and the tunnels themselves have shown serious problems including failure in some cases. This has included forced shut downs of the train traffic into and out of Penn Station in recent years.

        1. Jean

          Why can’t we switch the MIC into building aerial firefighting tankers, and use the Army Corps of Engineers and repatriated troops and the “defense budget” to rebuild our infrastructure–and while we are at it, switch all new public employees into social security.

          Three problems solved.

  10. larry

    I would like to disagree with your assessment, PK, but the basis for doing so is slim indeed. As for Merkel, supposed German shenanigans with May re Brexit have been publicly disavowed. If Germany goes this route, it will make abundantly clear that the EU project, particularly the EMU part, initially a German-French design, has become a German project, and that will not sit well with some Eastern European countries or with Finland. They had better be team players in this drama, or they risk further problems, this time of their own making. Would serve them right. The EMU should be dissolved anyway, as it is a disaster.

  11. Samuel Conner

    Re: “Tory! Tory! Tory”:

    Lambert, you are a treasure. I sometimes read NC just for the belly laugh I get from the snark. Deep ventilation is good for the heart.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Agreed. That was hilarious that and I too had a good laugh. For those unfamiliar with what it meant, on December 7th 1941 the Japanese commander of an aerial attack force signaled to his superiors that the objective of complete surprise had been achieved just before he commenced the attack on Pearl Harbour. The phrase that he sent was-
      “Tora! Tora! Tora!”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        “Tora! Tora! Tora!’ is ‘Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!’

        “Tori! Tori! Tori!’ is ‘Bird! Bird! Bird!’ And from the delicious yakitori dish, we know it can also mean “Chicken! Chicken! Chicken!”

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      Wit is a strong suit here at NC, thanks largely to Lambert. Occasionally I am struck by how many locutions (if that is the right word; I mean turns of phrase, conversational tropes) regular commenters here share that were picked up from Lambert. There are a few from Yves (quelle surprise, kill me now), but about a zillion from Lambert (clarifying, etc. but also tone and juxtaposition that having started this comment have completely gone out of my brain).

      Wonder if for some this carries over into real life off the NC page…

  12. noonespecial

    Chomsky’s Interview on Democracy Now! – Thank you for posting the link.
    Two thoughts…

    I recommend viewing the documentary “The Occupation of the American Mind” (available on Youtube) since it explores the question of “How did we get here?” in terms of the prevalent narrative regarding Israeli-Palestinian relations/conflict.

    Earlier this year, Robert Fisk raised an important issue in his column published March 15, 2018: “So when am I going to be able to watch Al Jazeera’s hard-hitting investigation into Israel’s powerful lobby in the United States?” Count me as one of those still waiting. It should be noted that Harvard’s Alan Dershowitz was among those who visited Qatar to lobby against the release of this piece. So free speech for some (Ben Shapiro), but not for the others, huh professor? The power wielded by some to avoid soiling the reputation of city on the hill is staggering.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Iran just heated up tensions with Trump in a major show of force to practice closing the Strait of Hormuz”

    Well in all fairness, the Iranians are conducting these exercises off their own coastline whereas the complaining US forces should remember that the nearest US coastline is about 10,000 kilometers away.

  14. flora

    re: Google Plans to Launch Censored Search Engine in China, Leaked Documents Reveal The Intercept.

    Gosh, something that big would need a big beta test, big in terms of scale and number of users and daily searches. Where could Google find a huge beta test set of testers? (And how crapified have your google search results become?) /s

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        It’s been a while since I checked their search policy, but as I remember it, DuckDuckGo basically uses Google, among other engines, to do it’s search and then returns bundled results. The difference is that it anonymizes – to a degree – the originator of the search. Does it now do it’s own searches?

        I use ddg as my search engine more for it’s concern for privacy than with any expectation of a robust implementation.

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            From Wikipedia:

            DuckDuckGo (DDG) is an Internet search engine that emphasizes protecting searchers’ privacy and avoiding the filter bubble of personalized search results.[3] DuckDuckGo distinguishes itself from other search engines by not profiling its users and by deliberately showing all users the same search results for a given search term,[5] and emphasizes returning the best results, rather than the most results, generating those results from over 400 individual sources, including crowdsourced sites such as Wikipedia, and other search engines like Bing, Yahoo!, and Yandex [emphasis mine].[6][7]

            In other words, (and sorry if this is old hat) You make a query in the DDG search box, when you hit return, your browser sends it along to the DDG web server (Apache?), they then strip out your IP address and any other identifiers, and forward the raw query to Bing, Yahoo and Yandex (among others). They also, no doubt, run their own search. Then they combine all the responses and send them back to you. I believe, but not positive, that they used to also include Google in this scheme until they realized that Google has sophisticated ways of figuring out who the original sender was anyway.

            But to answer my own question, DDG doesn’t appear to use Google anymore (if they indeed ever did), though Yahoo hardly fills me with warm fuzzy confidence. As I said earlier, I use DDG because they are concerned with privacy more than because you get it. After all, unless you use DDG with TOR, once you click on any of the results you get back from DDG, you are taken to the site of interest itself along with your IP address and so on. Any advertisements on that page, not to mention the site hosts, will have access to all your information and can probably put turds down (opps, I mean cookies) on your computer (note pad, sphone, dick tracy decoder, etc.).

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Right, China is a good beta site, WE are the eventual target. The whole intrusion creep is pretty hopeless because too many people simply couldn’t care less or, God Help Us All, are even flattered by it.

    2. Scott

      Hasn’t Google been censoring leftist sites since after the 2016 election? It’s not preventing people from finding them, but Google has modified its algorithm. Google likely prefers this method as it allows them to blame “code” rather than their political views.

  15. Synoia

    Google Plans to Launch Censored Search Engine in China, Leaked Documents Reveal

    Goole’s new business plan is to provide GoogleCensor for the Government to limit what its citizens can find.

    How much for the GoogleCensor feature? $100 Mill a pop or 20 mill a year?

    No market for that, world wide. No none at all.

    Don’t! Do Evil! lives.

    1. Louis Fyne

      People have just gotten flat out insane cuz of politics (left and right). I wonder if it was this way during the Red Scares of the 1920’s and 50’s?

      Or if it was like this during the Salem witch trials?

      1. JBird

        Not yet. We have a ways to go.

        The Palmer Raids and mass arrests with bonus illegal deportations for the 1920s.

        For the later Red Scare, HUAC (House UnAmerican Activity Committee) regular firings, arrests, jailings, and blacklistings for either not snitching, being a socialist or communist, or just suspected, or not saying loyalty oaths for the 1950s into the 1960s.

        It expanded to homosexuals, civil rights activists, or really to a lesser extent on anyone not straight, conservative, conformist with being a white (mainline) Christian helpful. This was required for your entire past life. Any deviation especially anything like being an activist for Negro rights (the lynchings and denial of the vote) could get you suspected of working for the Soviet Union against America.

        It was guilt by association. Liberal=Leftist=Reformist=Civil Rights Activist=Pinko (sympathizer)=Socialist=Communist=Traitor. American society had the entire left spectrum flattened especially anything dealing with economics (money). That is the reason people confused liberal with leftist or the Democratic Party as being of the left or the Republican Party as being a normal Conservative party. There was nothing to compare them with.

    2. Angie Neer

      A nice tale of political hysteria and road rage, but upon reading the article I was intrigued by the law enforcement practices described. The perp was easily identified through a license plate number and driver’s license photo confirmed by two witnesses. Apparently this resulted in an arrest warrant. So far so good. It should be no trouble to find and arrest her pretty much immediately, right? No. 30 days pass before she is arrested by the state police after a “random” license plate check throws a red flag while she was driving around town. Did the town police figure, “Hey, why bother driving over to the address listed on her driver’s license for an arrest? The state police are always scanning license plates so we can just let them snag her.”?

    1. JBird

      Oh, I am just shocked, shocked that my state’s neoliberal legislators took the mone and screwed their fellow, but poor, Californians.

      In related news, water is wet.

      People keep telling me that my state is some sort of leftist commie hellstate, and I agree on the last bit, but I don’t see the leftist bit anywhere especially when it comes to money. Unless it is Identity politics.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Mike Pompeo’s Plan to Deny China Exclusive Rights to the Indo-Pacific Region”

    This guy is really full off it. There is so much wrong about what he wants I don’t even know where to start. I suppose you could start at the title and point out that his idea is to have the US have exclusive rights in the Indo-Pacific Region to deny China. He complains that China is a black hole for the internet but does not mention that it is companies like US based Google that are helping enable it. And promoting private-sector investment? As in western countries come in, strip mine a country for all it is worth and then leave with nothing to shown for it? That kind of private-sector investment? When he said “When you let private industry build an internet connection, it’s a road to anywhere you want to go” he forgot to mention who has the kill switch and who watches every electron of traffic on it.
    I am not sure that ” Darwin is unabashedly enthusiastic” as not long ago there were elections held there while there were military exercises being held that included the US. So in the lead up to the elections there were jets roaring over the sky making a helluva racket. Some were actually trying to say that that was “the sound of freedom” but most people that lived there told such people where they could take their sound of freedom and what they could do with it when they got there. And since when does America have a defensive posture when they sail off China’s coastline? The best bit was the last sentence where he said: “The architecture of a free and open Indo-Pacific may be supported by the military arch, but its upper stories will be built by private enterprise, and its doors will be open to everyone—including China”. I guess that that was why the Trans Pacific Partnership was known as the everybody-but-China treaty and that Obama came right out and said that America was going to be the one to write the rules of this treaty and nobody else. And I bet that Pompey, sorry, Pompeo was right there helping organizing things.

  17. Olga

    Henry Kissinger: ‘At critical junctures Russia has saved the world’s equilibrium’ Russia Beyond
    It is a sad state of affairs that we have to rely on a 95-yr-old war criminal to give us a (more) sane assessment of Russia. Some of what he says, however, is perceptive.
    “Charles XII of Sweden marched into Russia [in the early 18th century] because he thought it would be easy to install a Swedish ruler in Moscow. What he found were Russian peasants burning their own crops in order to deny food to the invaders.” Yes, they also burned Moscow, rather than surrendering it to Napoleon.
    OTOH, “Few countries in history have started more wars or caused more turmoil than Russia in its eternal quest for security and status,” is a pretty absurd statement, not supported by historical facts.

    1. Louis Fyne

      I really can’t understand why the western “powers that be” have this pathological obsession with Russia and can’t just live and let live.

      Do they hate Cyrillic letters? Have a grudge against Eastern Orthodox?

      It’s bizarre that the US can shake hands and make up with Germany or Japan or the Confederate South, but Russians? Family blog them.

      1. Carolinian

        Perhaps it’s what Kissinger says–they are strategically positioned and they don’t like to be good poodles.

        A lot of it may also go back to the 19th century when the British saw Russia as imperial rivals. So much of this Russia hysteria seems to start in England.

        1. RUKidding

          Good point, and I’ve wondered about that as well. I did a fabulous trip last year through the ‘Stans in Central Asia. All former Soviet Republics. All positioned firmly along the former and soon current Silk Road.

          There was that whole “Great Game” thing going on in that part of the world in the 19th C – the rivalry between GB and Russia.

          I do think some of the animus towards Russia springs from that, but I also believe that the rest of the aniumus springs from Bolshevik Revolution and the communist take over Russia to become the USSR. Immediately suspect to the very wealthy who’ve ruled the world. Don’t forget that the Czar and his family were murdered. This sent waves of fear and loathing throughout the European Royals and nobility, all of whom still hold some sway in Europe.

          The USA just chugs along and uses the USSR/Russia/Communism/WhatHaveYou as a cudgel to beat the proles into submission.

          Just my non-humble 2 cents worth.

        2. zer0

          Kissinger still doesn’t do his homework. This guy needs to go away. When he should be talking about preventing nuclear war, he instead tries to compliment Russia in a completely historically devoid and nonsensical manner.

          In general, countries are A type personalities, that exist to better themselves or those that run them. ‘Saving the world’s equilibrium’ hardly enters that equation.

          – Russia trained Hitler’s armies (secretly) before WWII and was to be Hitler’s greatest ally in world domination. Does everyone forget this? They flip flopped only after Hitler screwed them over. Not exactly altruistic allies during the war.
          – Russia invaded all neighboring countries repeatedly generation after generation. Like every Russian write I have read from Chekhov to Tolstoy has numerous mentions of invasions, rigid class system (based largely on race), downtrodden peasantry, etc.
          – Russia threw millions of foreign civilians (both jews and non jews) on the front lines, that they grabbed from Poland during the start of the Holocaust. Used them as meat shields. Personal accounts from my grandfather on the brutality of Russian cossacks, even well before any mention of WWII. Murdering people in plain sight in foreign lands.
          – Russia has had untold # of famines, greater than any other European country, many of which were deliberate (unlike a potato virus or natural cause)
          – Russia had peasantry when most other countries had abolished it for centuries.
          – Russia agressively spread its communist ideology (Iron Curtain) in Eastern/Central Europe after the war, took advantage of the countries behind the bloc, pillaged them for resources and basically enslaved the dissenters in uranium mines. Nowadays, Russia has almost complete control of uranium in Europe, as they basically stripped Poland, CZ, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, and other countries of theirs.

          Yeah, real peaceful. Real equilibrium.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Russia trained Hitler’s armies

            Link, please. It seems highly unlikely to me that the Wehrmacht would need to be trained in anything related to warfighting.

              1. Harold

                It is true about Germany providing military aid to Stalin and is alluded to in the plot of the recent series “Babylon Berlin.”

                Also, to answer zer0, all countries which had monocultures were susceptible to famines in the days before the widespread use of chemical fertilizers and fungicides. The Dust Bowl of the US Southwest in the 1930s was a manifestation of a world-wide famine. We may be seeing them again with global warming.

                As far as the “peasants”, zer0, is thinking of Russia’s liberation of the serfs, which coincided with the abolition of chattel slavery c. 1860 in the USA. Most pre-industrial countries continued to have peasants until WW2 and beyond.

                When Martin Luther King went down to organize the Poor People’s March in Coahoma County, Mississippi, he met tenant farmers who had never before in their lives seen cash money, only scrip.

              1. VietnamVet

                A German training airbase in the Soviet Union is part of the plot of the entertaining “Babylon Berlin” TV series on Netflix.

            1. ObjectiveFunction

              The strictures of the Versailles Treaty gave the Germans (pre as well as post-1933) strong incentives to conduct forbidden activities covertly, or to come up with things like “pocket battleships”. The pariahs stuck together, sincerely resenting the ‘oppression’ of the bourgeois imperialist states (UK and France).

              Cooperation reached its pinnacle at the 1935 Kiev maneuvers, where the Russians unveiled their BT-5 fast tank based on the innovative Christie design, and also dropped several hundred parachutists. Luftwaffe observer Kurt Student took careful note and then formed the Fallschirmjäger for both spec ops and as fully nazified private army for Göring, his protege.

              German and Russian armour officers including Guderian and Rokossovski formed both academic and personal friendships in those times, although most of the latter ended up shot in the purges for those friendships, saving their Wehrmacht correspondents the trouble later on. Rokossovski was actually pulled out of a prison cell, and to his own surprise, placed in command of a newly formed tank corps rather than being shot; he later led the drive on Berlin under Zhukov.

              But anyway, neither side harboured any real illusions that eventually they would come to blows and contest the mastery of Central Europe.

          2. Darthbobber

            I think you mean serfdom, not peasantry. And serfdom was abolished in Russia before the United States abolished slavery.

            And no, most Russian famines were not deliberate.

            Soviet collaboration with the Wehrmacht predates the Nazi takeover, btw.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        For an element from the South and an older element in the Democratic Party, the Czar in 1861 mobilized the army and sailed the white fleet as a message to the British and French about intervening on behalf of the Confederacy. Deep down, I suspect the Russians have been enemies ever since especially for Democrats who just love that “law and order.”

        The other side this is about China and instead of a war criminal like Kissinger we are dealing with his second rate war criminal offspring. Kissinger understood countries rise and fall. A Russian Chinese axis represents power over Eurasia and an ability to kick the U.S. out without firing a shot. For obvious reasons, the U.S. has to remain vaguely “woke” and can’t attack China directly (Obama’s pivot to Asia and TPP was about cutting out Chinese companies). The key to the rise of the Middle Kingdom in the 21st Century. China is a huge multi-ethnic empire but amazingly isolated at the same time. Russia has its foot in the East, the West, and the Muslim World. They are gateway for the Middle Kingdom. The second rate Kissingers know they need to separate Russia from China and since all they understand is force this is the option they choose. The other thing is Kissinger probably isn’t attached to the over exaggerated concepts of the nation-states founded in the 18th century in the West. I think he sees Russia and China as fairly stable power structures due to a mix a culture and geography. They might change a bit, but they are still basically what they are.

        The second rate Kissingers can’t comprehend a world where U.S. power isn’t unlimited. It boggles their mind. Again a 55 year old today was 25 in 1988 when the USSR was having its problems. What is the perspective of the people who make decisions (people in their mid-fifties) or at least set the limits of acceptable debate? The army they heard about in Vietnam had been transformed to the army that blasted through that mighty Iraqi army in 1991 (the decision makers missed these wars by the way). Russia by not playing dead is attacking their world view.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Re that first paragraph. During the American Civil War the Russians had the American’s back and sent naval ships to both New York and San Francisco to back up the Federal government. I believe that there are still a few Russian sailors buried in San Francisco that were a part of this naval force. More on this at-

          And America’s great allies like England and France? Well, they were thinking about intervening OK – on the Confederates side. Just for fun, imagine if they had done to America what the US is doing in Syria. Britain and France would have occupied a few big chunks of the Confederacy and have given protection to forces like Mosby’s Raiders while attacking any Federal forces coming even near these occupied areas – just to make a point. Maybe helping Canada invade and strip off a few states from the Union as well. Anything to stop the Civil war coming to a final end but to keep it going.

      3. juliania

        Some obfuscation in replies to your question, Louis. It has not been accepted by the Powers that Be, including mainstream media, that Russia in its current phoenix-like manifestation is where it is after those Powers tried very hard to destroy it during the Yeltsin years. In other words, oligarchical rule, corruption and decay presenting itself after communistic downfall was given some hearty shoves in the guise of ‘helpful’ advisories from those same Powers that Be, and should have resulted in what others have called poodledom – but it didn’t.

        In that respect, you might say that Russia is the first and biggest example of successful resistance against There Is No Alternative. They are not out of the woods yet, because these people on the other side have so much to lose, but they are getting there. And it shows. The people support and are proud of their government. That’s enough to make the western Powers that Be grind their molars at night. And should make the rest of us keep fighting the good fight.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Before Americans won the West, Russians had always won Siberia, part of Manchuria, including Valdivostok, and cross the Bering Strait, Alaska and Northern California.

      1. RUKidding

        Yes. There is that, as well.

        Recall Caribou Barbie squawking about seeing Russia from her porch!

        Funny how conservatives were super-anti-Russia after Palin said that, but now that Trump is singing the direct opposite tune, conservatives have reliably jumped on the pro-Russia band wagon.

        Speaking only for myself, I feel rapproachement with Russia is a good thing, but unfortunately too many citizens allow themselves to be incredibly manipulated by propaganda.

      1. Olga

        Involving and starting wars – two different things. Plus, what if closely look at Sweden, UK, US, France, and others… the entire European continent, countries that spent 1000 years waging wars against each other. And let’s not talk about colonial conquest and 1000 years of European destruction of the Middle East (and later Africa – just little Belgium caused more than 10 million death in the Congo – and not that long ago). That HK’s statement was laughable. Most Russia’s wars were defensive, not offensive. Read its history … and then look at white European conquests to understand what real belligerence and aggression are.

  18. Brindle

    re: Ocasio-Cortez

    She has an event/fundraiser in Los Anglels today. She is intentionally not engaging w/ Hollywood’s Big Money powerbrokers.

    —“I totally get why she is staying away from the industry. She doesn’t need us,” says screenwriter Jennifer Levin (Beauty and the Beast, Unforgettable, Brothers & Sisters). Levin, who moonlights as a grassroots activist working to flip a number of California seats in the House of Representatives currently held by Republicans, says she is taking her 15-year-old daughter to see Ocasio-Cortez tomorrow. “Let’s be honest: We represent the money. We are the elite. And I think it’s a smart move.”—

  19. Oregoncharles

    From “Iran just heated up tensions with Trump in a major show of force to practice closing the Strait of Hormuz “:

    “”In the event Iran choose to militarily close the Strait of Hormuz, the US and our Arabian Gulf allies would be able to open it in a matter of days,” retired Adm. James Stavridis previously told CNBC.”

    Somebody’s blowing smoke, and the reporter’s buying it. Nobody sends multi-million dollar tankers through a war zone. All it takes is one missile. The Strait would remain effectively closed for as long a there are hostilities.

    Further, this “admiral” is ignoring previous American – that’s AMERICAN – wargames in which the Iranian small-boat strategy defeated them, with the loss of multiple carriers (hugely expensive sitting ducks). He’s also ignoring the impact of even a few days’ interruption of 30% of the world’s oil supply. Besides which, a few Iranian missiles on the Saudi oil fields and loading docks could make that interruption effectively permanent.

    Looking on the bright side, my guess is the US military and the oil companies veto this particular adventure.

    1. Bill Smith

      During the tanker war in the 1980’s there where plenty of multi million dollar tankers sailing thorough the straits. A bunch of them where caught up in the fighting. Iran hit 168 ships, Iraq hit 283 ships. The ships that where attacked came from three dozen or so countries. 259 of them where Oil Tanker/Product Carrier type of ships.

      For quite a few years there where hostilities in the area and the straits where not closed.

      One would hope that the US Navy learned something from that war game you mention. Not putting any carriers in the Persian Gulf sounds like a start.

      The use of Iranian missiles on Saudi oil fields and loading docks would likely lead to the destruction of Iranian oil fields and loading docks.

      Don’t the different Western counties have a month or two of oil stockpiled? So a few days of interruption in would not be the end of the world. Maybe it would hurry plans along to further minimize the dependence on oil?

    1. Massinissa

      They’re going to join together to vote for someone the rest of the country dislikes and help enable Trump’s second term…

      1. Carey

        Very possibly- not that I think they’d mind that outcome- but while continuing
        indefinitely to monopolize the discourse, I’d say.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Clinton’s strategy from 2016 onward. Liberal Democrats have’t institutionalized any measures to broaden their base with non-voters, because they don’t want those voters.

  20. Brooklin Bridge

    I watched Amanpour on PBS in a positively shameless cringe worthy interview with Tim Phillips (Koch is not pleased) on trade wars (Trump hysteria) and Zeynep Tufekci on the general subject of correcting web based activist misinformation, ahem, in general and Facebook in particular, not only by the GASP, SPLUTER, Russians, but by American activists as well. Freedom of speech was not mentioned one single time. Who exactly is the judge of misinformation? Well, Zeynep Tufekci feels the government should be the one and Amanpour raises no questions, none – 0, never mind tough ones.

    Why did I even bother to watch? By mistake, channel surfing, but then I couldn’t tear myself away.

    I once thought Amanpour had a soul – some humanistic bit of something somewhere – but this interview has straightened out that misconception beyond doubt. And that PBS is now Koch mouthpiece (yes, in that sense too!) – word for word (blow by blow) – times they are a changing (and have been for some time, but it’s like waking up over and over again). PBS, what a cozy family of bald faced liars.

    1. Carey

      I’m going to take your word for it rather than enduring the video.

      Blow by blow, as you say…

    2. Carolinian

      Sorry to hear it. I’ve never watched her show, perhaps knowing the fare that would be on the menu. The last genuine liberal at PBS was longtime contributor Bill Moyers–grandfathered in, literally–and he had to raise the money for his show himself via various angels. Our esteemed NC host was among his many guests. Tavis Smiley was not too bad before he fell afoul of #me too.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Bill Moyers, a grand and gentle person and all in all a remarkable program. When it finally ended, you could almost hear the whooshh as the ooze rushed in to fill the void.

        I found Smiley erratic. Giving a pass to some wreched neo liberal one day, and giving a good thorough interview to another the next.

        Amanpour, is consistent…LY-horrible. Well, at least the two or three times I’ve listened. I think one time it was all about the fearless, brave, intrepid, wonderful, amazing WHITE-HATS in Syria. Puke.

  21. Oregoncharles

    “Where Is the Left Wing’s Foreign Policy?” – conflates “the left” with Democrats in a way that’s getting more and more offensive, even while dinging Ocasio-Cortez for a serious climbdown on Palestinian rights – without quite saying so.

    Beautiful portrait of her, though, easily the best I’ve seen.

    1. Carey

      Sure sounds like concern-trolling from the New Republic’s writer, here. A left primary
      winner should have a fully fleshed-out FP? Stick their head out on FP so that the dollar Dems and rest of the establishment can instantly lop it off ? Sure, great idea. /s

    2. Carey

      Adding: Yes, nice photo of AOC, but I see that focus (potentially, too early to say) leading
      to more empty personality-based stuff, and it worries me. Eyes on the ball: M4A, for starters.

  22. Burritonomics

    Re: Your Spotify history could predict the state of the economy

    Glad to see my repeated listenings of George Michael’s sublime rendition of “Brother Can You Spare a Dime” did not go unnoticed.

    You Tube link

  23. Darthbobber

    Hill piece on Warren, Sanders and dem primaries. Headline more than a bit misleading, as nothing in article actually has Warren, or Sanders, or anybody organisationally linked to them dealing with this at all. It’s all other, largely anonymous democrats.

    A measure of the shallowness of political thought that so many seem to see these two as roughly equivalent.

  24. High tech tree

    Where linked self driving cars are a reinvention of the bus, vertical farms are a reinvention of the tree.

  25. rd

    Re: Forest spread in rich countries

    Most of the northeast United States was deforested by the early 1800s and much if it was farmed.

    The opening of the Erie Canal combined with the “Year Without Summer” after the Tambora explosion meant that most marginal farmland was abandoned as the farmers could move to Ohio and beyond and still get their crops to markets. That is why there are old stone walls in the middle of many New England forests today.

    However, it takes centuries for these collections of trees to turn in “forests” with all of the inter-connectedness that implies. “The Hidden Life of Trees” is a fascinating look at this.

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