Links 8/22/18

Dear patient readers,

Still behind due to tech restoration plus working on some research that will hopefully pan out. Plus Trump taking the Cohen plea/Manafort verdict punches the same day will divert attention from less riveting topics.

Huge python puts up fight on Pathum Thani road The Nation (furzy)

No More Cages: New Animal Cracker Packaging Sets The Mighty Beasts Free NPR (David L)

Amid fires and hurricanes, price of climate change begins to hit home Christian Science Monitor (David L)

Italy’s famous dome is cracking and cosmic rays could help save it ars technica. Chuck L:

This is the kind of stuff your uncle was working with when he was collecting data for his thesis on K-mesons 12K feet up at the Inter-University High Altitude Cosmic Ray lab on Mt. Evans, CO, during the ’54-’55 academic year. 40 or so years later he told me that at that time he could have got the necessary data by scheduling ten minutes on an accelerator at a place like Brookhaven or Batavia.

Artificial General Intelligence Is Here, and Impala Is Its Name ExtremeTech (David L)

Here’s How Much Marijuana Costs on the West Coast vs East Coast PriceEconomics (Dr. Kevin)

Anti-vaxxers are still spreading false claims as people die of measles Guardian (Kevin W)


A major hurdle in trade talks: US and China ‘play by different economic rules’ South China Morning Post (Kevin W)

Class Conflict Intensifies in China as it Heads into Uncertain Times Real News


Standoff in Italian port as Salvini refuses to let refugees disembark Guardian

From Politico’s daily European newsletter:

HUNGARY — STARVING ASYLUM SEEKERS: A Hungarian Methodist pastor was prevented from delivering food to asylum seekers waiting in a transit zone along Hungary’s southern border. Budapest stopped providing food to asylum seekers who are challenging their status in court. The European Court of Human Rights has been issuing emergency orders to Hungary to restart meals.


UK hospitals yet to start planning for no-deal Brexit Politico

Banking is surprise item on list of Brexit ‘no-deal’ impact papers Guardian

New Cold War

Senator Paul Suggests Limiting Size of NATO to Influence Russia C-SPAN (Kevin C)

Microsoft Promotes Russia Scare To Gain Insider Access To Campaign Information Moon of Alabama (Bugs Bunny, Kevin W)


Economic war on Iran is war on Eurasia integration Pepe Escobar, Asia Times (Wat). From last week.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Facebook is rating the trustworthiness of its users on a scale from zero to 1 Washington Post. Bill B: “To be augmented with a ‘foreign agent’ scale at some point in the future.”

Security MadLibs: Your IoT electrical outlet can now pwn your smart TV • The Register. Chuck L: “The Internet of Shit strikes again.”

Automated Filter Removed Parliament Member’s Article Warning About Censorship By Automated Filters Techdirt. Chuck L: “Open the pod bay doors, Hal!”

The “neuropolitics” consultants who hack voters’ brains MIT Technology Review (Dawn). I don’t buy this “hesitation = uncertainty” thesis. It may be true in a lot of cases, but for terrible typists like me, hesitation can be a function of mechanical issues. Similarly, microexpressions aren’t all they are cracked up to be either.

Google’s data collection is hard to escape, study claims CNN. Another reason to have a dumbphone and leave that at home a lot. Notice how Google snoops your calendar. I don’t use one either, and my deliberately sketchy address book is a non-standard flat file, as in not tab delimited.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Why wasn’t road closed before FIU bridge fell? Judge orders release of key records Miami Herald (Dan K)

Trump Transition

Jury convicts Manafort on eight felony counts The Hill

Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen admits campaign violation BBC

Cohen’s Guilty Plea Puts Trump in a Perilous Spot Bloomberg

Inside catch and kill: Cohen, a porn star and ‘Individual 1’ Associated Press

Donald Trump says interview with Mueller could be ‘perjury trap’ Guardian (Kevin W)

New bill would require paper ballots to secure election results CNET

Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks at The National Press Club YouTube (Kevin C)

Duncan Hunter and his wife indicted for using campaign funds for personal expenses CNN From Dan K : Duncan Hunter indictment. His comments:

The Overt Acts section is pretty stunning, topping out at 200 items. What’s kind of interesting is that the Hunters lived hand-to-mouth in some ways, ignoring bills and bank balances as if they just didn’t exist, overdrafting bank accounts and credit cards and fighting water service shutoffs. The actual poor are often castigated for financial irresponsibility; many poor people simply haven’t had the experience of having money, and don’t know of all the necessary activities required to maintain solvency and “good credit”.

The Hunters show a similar pattern that suggests simple ignorance, and also a disinterest in learning. Not really what one wants in a representative who must constantly learn about issues and problems from the local to the national and international scope. All such people have to do is parrot party lines and talking points supplied by their donors and staff.

The Overt Acts section starts on page 11 and swings between the petty mundane and WTF.

Top Republican on Tax Subcommittee Received Yacht Loan From Foreign Bank Lobbying on 2017 Tax Bill David Sirota, Capital & Main

Keith Ellison’s Daughter Responds to Domestic Violence Allegations Against Her Father Splinter News (Chuck L)

Flint water crisis: Michigan health director ordered to manslaughter trial ars yechnica (Chuck L)

Rentiers Among Us

Verizon throttled fire department’s “unlimited” data during Calif. wildfire ars technica

Fake News

Facebook Fueled Anti-Refugee Attacks in Germany, New Research Suggests New York Times. Dan K, emphasis his:

Karsten Müller and Carlo Schwarz, researchers at the University of Warwick, scrutinized every anti-refugee attack in Germany, 3,335 in all, over a two-year span. In each, they analyzed the local community by any variable that seemed relevant. Wealth. Demographics. Support for far-right politics. Newspaper sales. Number of refugees. History of hate crime. Number of protests.

One thing stuck out. Towns where Facebook use was higher than average, like Altena, reliably experienced more attacks on refugees. That held true in virtually any sort of community — big city or small town; affluent or struggling; liberal haven or far-right stronghold — suggesting that the link applies universally.

Their reams of data converged on a breathtaking statistic: Wherever per-person Facebook use rose to one standard deviation above the national average, attacks on refugees increased by about 50 percent.

New Facebook Alliance Endangers Access to News about Latin America Venezuelanalysis (Micael)

Germany Has Proven the Modern Automobile Must Die Wired

Bill Gross’s bond fund hit by wave of investor redemptions Financial Times. $1.2 billion is the functional equivalent of zero in institutional bond fund land, due to the low fees on them.

Tesla reworked 86 percent of Model 3s to reach production target AutoBlog (EM)

Morgan Stanley halts research coverage of Tesla, shares rise AutoBlog (EM)

Bill Gates Noticed a Global Economy Trend That No One Is Paying Enough Attention To The Observer (Dr. Kevin). Oh dear, Gates believed Econ 101 (I was lucky enough to have an Australian section leader, literally the first Australian I had ever met, who was very fond of the word “horseshit”.). I have a whole section in ECONNED on how the little story of a downward-sloping supply line and an upwardly sloping demand line has in fact never been established and for good reason.

Class Warfare

ICYMI: Miami Beach Might Fine Airbnb and Other Platforms for Illegal Short-Term Rentals Miami New Times. From earlier this month, still germane.

The Changing Demographics Of Higher Education Safe Haven. I hate to sound like a nay-sayer, but feminization of professions is highly correlated with lower pay and status. Women were the first software engineers back in the day when hardware was cool, and then that speciality was reconstituted as requiring masculine attributes when software became a rewarding line of work. So I wonder if this development is a sign that more educational attainment is becoming less valuable than in the past.

Thread by @citizensmediatv: ““Then why does the military budget keep going up as social programs keep getting cut?” Now that’s a good question Thread Reader

Antidote du jour. David D: “Albino American Alligator. Behind a very thick sheet of plexiglass, to my relief.”

And a bonus video from reader ipso facto:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Alex V

    Some thoughts on the Manafort convictions:

    The banks that gave him loans were suspicious he was committing fraud, but did it anyway. I thought bankers were our best and brightest? How underhanded of him to take advantage of their willful naivete.

    I’m confused as to why Manafort isn’t being treated as a hero by the Resistance, since the payments he received were from political entities opposed to Russia.

    Manafort now has less incentive to turn on Trump, if there is anything there to reveal. If Manafort had something useful regarding charges against Trump he would have more likely cut a deal and plead guilty.

    Having offshore accounts myself, I can say most of American tax law regarding citizens with accounts outside the US is painfully confusing, redundant and unfair. Yes, Manafort broke the law, but the law is garbage.

    1. pretzelattack

      maybe ukraine can give him a medal, the order of chomiak; then the atlantic council can hire him.
      i figure manafort is probably guilty of some financial crimes, but this trial isn’t about that, it’s about russiarussiarussia and trying to get leverage on manafort.

    2. Epistrophy

      Having offshore accounts myself, I can say most of American tax law regarding citizens with accounts outside the US is painfully confusing, redundant and unfair. Yes, Manafort broke the law, but the law is garbage.

      Obama’s government declared a FATWA against Americans who are based overseas, while in parallel setting up the USA as the most liberal offshore banking center in the world for every other nationality.

      It is now all but impossible for Americans to compete with other nationalities in international business. In some jursidictions Americans cannot even have a bank account.

      My guess is that those of the US government who did this are too stupid to even understand what they have done.

      1. barefoot charley

        +1 Just so. I think the US knows full well we’ve become the only safe, full-service tax haven left on earth, which is great for our balance of payments by drawing billions of dollars back home. All we had to do was outlaw non-homeland tax avoidance (because we’re exceptional). It is sad indeed that everyone in the world gets to evade taxes here, except us citizens. We have to hire lawyers (like Manafort and Cohen) and then play legal roulette.

        1. Doug Hillman

          This is also why real estate is exempt from money-laundering laws. Another Gheitner/Obama measure to foam the runway for their bankster cartel bosses and reinflate housing bubble 2.0.

      2. rd

        I think there is a big difference between an American living in the US and hiding income in offshore accounts to avoid US taxes and an American living abroad and earning their income abroad, although the US government doesn’t make that distinction (other than allowing for foreign taxes to be deducted which causes complex returns). US policy in the second case is unusual compared to most countries.

        So Manafort does not get my sympathy on this one – he was simply a US resident evading income taxes.

        1. Alex V

          He doesn’t get my sympathy either, since bad actors like him are the reason the law is garbage. FATCA and FBAR were created by people that likely have never lived a day outside the US, but probably have money hidden in all kinds of places. An overzealous and ignorant Congress created these regulations primarily as window dressing and ass-covering. They in essence punish those that comply, while turning a blind eye to abuses by the powerful who can hire legal talent to hide their money. The Manafort case exists primarily for political reasons, not because anyone actually cares about tax evasion – he never would have been caught, because enforcement is lax and easily evaded if you know what you’re doing. What really gets my goat is that FATCA was co-sponsored by Charlie Rangel, who was formally censured by Congress for tax evasion.

    3. Mary Bess

      Banking laws designed to fail? Perhaps this is another example of the advantages of dysfunction.

  2. Darius

    I’m sorry to grind my nit-picky axe. The Hunters were indifferent to learning, not disinterested. Disinterest is a good thing for which we all should strive.

    1. Shane Mage

      Not nit-picky in the least. The crapification of everything starts with the crapification of the English language.

      1. Angien Neer

        Oh Lord, so many nits, so little time! I’ve worked hard to overcome my nit-picking compulsion when reading NC. I’ve adopted the attitude that the meaning is far more important than the means of expression. But I do grieve the death of editing.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In my experience, everyone is interesting in learning, but different subjects interest different people.

      The Hunters show a similar pattern that suggests simple ignorance, and also a disinterest in learning. Not really what one wants in a representative who must constantly learn about issues and problems from the local to the national and international scope. All such people have to do is parrot party lines and talking points supplied by their donors and staff.

      Moreover, and this should be emphasized, different people often focus their learning on different aspects of the same subjects.

      So, progressives don’t always learn to look at the same problem from the same perspective as, say, liberals, for one shocking example. Perhaps it’s justified…based on inductive thinking (“They have shown themselves to be wrong every single time in the past.”)

      And if we want to communicate, if we want to convey learning, we do well to find out what motivates our listeners or students. (Though that doesn’t guarantee success…for your pessimists out there).

    3. dk

      Thanks Darius, nitpicking is good!

      Indifference, yes, but where, and whose? Indifference only on the part of the Hunters?

      I’m not satisfied to call it that, I think the term “indifference” is too indifferent for a more complex phenomenon. I chose “disinterest,” not to reflect impartiality (which I think is the good thing you refer to), but to indicate that they literally weren’t interested, and specifically “a disinterest in learning.” I could have said “ignorant,” but wanted to suggest a the reason beyond that. But it’s poor writing, overloaded, NC deserves better. I accept your criticism and apologize, and agree in part, and I’d like to explain.

      One of the peculiar things about the Hunters, as stated in the indictment, is this (from page 6, the section on Financial Background):

      15. As reflected in his U.S. House of Representatives Annual Financial Disclosure Statements, DUNCAN HUNTER had less than $1,000 in reportable assets for each of the years 2009 through 2016.

      16. Throughout the relevant period, the HUNTERS spent substantially more than they earned. They overdrew their bank account more than 1,100 times in a seven-year period resulting in approximately $37,761 in "overdraft" and "insufficient funds" bank fees. Their credit cards were frequently charged to the credit limit, often with five-figure balances, resulting in approximately $24,600 in finance charges, interest, and other fees related to late, over the limit, and returned payment fees.

      Duncan Hunter was paid $174,000/year for his service as a representative to Congress 2009-present. And our representatives are regularly offered additional opportunities. I haven’t done the exact math but the indictment cites the Hunters with embezzling >$25,000 per year 2009-2016. The Hunters didn’t just live beyond their means, they accrued significant charges through negligent financial management. As if they didn’t know what they were doing. Is there more than indifference?

      Duncan Hunter is the son of Duncan H. Hunter, the father held the CA-50 seat before the son. Did the son simply learn how to spend money, but not how to manage it responsibly? Did he have a paper route or mow lawns in high school, or did he just draw an allowance, and did he exceed it, and pilfer his parent’s credit cards? If he did, were the penalties significant in his mind? Does he even know how to handle his finances without embezzlement? Does he know that he’s “supposed” to do something, but not know what or how?

      Indifference requires some prior knowledge of an actual standard and of consequences for its violation, which is then carelessly discarded. That is different from not comprehending that the standard is concrete and consequential.

      I went to the same private grade school as Donald Trump, a school for rich kids. The teachers were mocked, the classrooms theaters of farce, because the rich kids didn’t have to learn anything, their parents paid hefty fees so that their kids would get passing (or even much better) grades without having to learn a thing besides the methods of social dominance. I started at Kew Forest the year after Donald Trump (“never call him Don or Donny, he hates that!”) was kicked out for scuffling with a teacher*. But he was a legend in that school for mocking teachers aggressively, making up stories about what the lessons really meant, what the “truth” was, to amuse his classmates and demonstrate his social (i.e., economic) superiority. Most bullies bully down, and sometimes violently; Donald bullied up, and used words to do it.

      Sound familiar? He’s been doing that since he was 10. I don’t think he knows any other way to live. And he’s not the only one, there’s a numerically significant cohort spanning generations, children of the wealthy raised with privilege whose underlying mechanisms they do not comprehend, because they never learned where all the stuff comes from and how it works, only how to demand the stuff. They were (and perhaps still are, in some schools) rewarded and elevated for being who they are, not for any other competence. Donald was always praised and fawned over, in deference to his father. He was treated as a symbol for deference, a ticket to wealth, not as a person, a kid. And he embraced the role. Is that indifference? Ignorance? Disinterest in anything else?

      Indifference; who was indifferent, the children or the parents, or the society at large? Is it indifference, or disinterest in learning, in skill? Or something else entirely, a complete breakdown of social function, a dissociation from the mechanisms that keep us alive and functioning as a group? I’m not saying the Hunter’s aren’t responsible for their actions, but I wonder if they’re fully informed. Are they also indifferent to the penalties they face? Will they be indifferent to punishment if they receive any? I’m open to those constructions but I want to know how they work. Blame can become very localized, while responsibilities hide in the distance.

      Were these kids defying anybody? Or were they doing what they were told they could, or even what they should, or at least not unmistakably told what they should not do, how to act otherwise, and in detail, with training? Education isn’t as simple as “telling”. Kids learn, we acquire whatever skills we’re shown that we can succeed with, not what we’re only told about without explanation and practice. We can learn more, if we take an interest in further improvement. Or we may be coerced, but coercion doesn’t directly produce comprehension.

      And now they’re adults, and some of them have been elected to represent some or all of the people of the country. Now what?

      *I asked several eye witnesses what really happened, and got a consistent story. In the middle of a ninth grade class, Donald went up to the blackboard and started erasing everything. The teacher grabbed his arm, Donald shook him off and caught the teacher in the eye with the eraser. The teacher threatened to press assault charges, and Donald was already on probation for cutting school and other complaints. Donald was sent to a boarding military academy from which he graduated.

      1. Big River Bandido

        I was reading your comment and my first thought was “I wonder if Hunter was born into money?”, and sure enough you delved into that in the very next paragraph. I think there’s something to this.

        There is a long and old tradition among the upper classes that to show or even to have concerns about one’s own financial matters is considered declassé. Perhaps some of those attitudes are shared by the children of today’s plutocrats.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Fighting water service shut offs must have been beyond declassé

          Did their parents fail to educate their kids in insouciance properly?

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            I don’t think there’s a cure.
            we should perhaps eat them first.
            Kuru be damned.
            a whole world as Lord of the Flies.
            Well done, all!

      2. Procopius

        The opposite of “interested” is “uninterested.” “Disinterested” means not having a dog in that fight. It’s important. Judges are supposed to be disinterested in the outcome of the trial. We must hope they are not uninterested. My current pet peeve is the many, many, many people saying “treasonous” when they mean “disloyal.”

    4. ewmayer

      Nit-pick on your nit-pick – my Mac dictionary app (based on New Oxford American Dictionary, but I expect the British-english version will be identical here) lists ‘uninterested’ as the 2nd legitimate definition of ‘disinterested’:

      disinterested |disˈintəˌrestid; -tristid|
      1 not influenced by considerations of personal advantage : a banker is under an obligation to give disinterested advice.
      2 having or feeling no interest in something : her father was so disinterested in her progress that he only visited the school once.

      But yes, such easily-avoided ambiguity is something a paid scribbler should know to avoid.

      1. Procopius

        New Fowler’s Modern English Usage gives that as the third possible meaning, much to my disgust. At leas they comment that this usage is controversial.

  3. Woozel

    On the Google data collection front, this past year I made a big push to de-Google my life. From an Android perspective, I switched to using Lineage OS. Since Android itself is open source, the Lineage OS people have essentially stripped out all of the Google apps, including the Play Store. I use F-Droid as my alternative app store. It’s not a panacea but it does a lot to reduce exposure to Google and other privacy disrespecting apps.

    1. In th Land of Farmers

      “Smartphone addiction” is so fascinating to me. Not being condescending, I was addicted to them, not social media or anything, but certainly the phone and all their capabilities. They made me feel like Superman. And like you I tried everything I could to increase privacy on my phone, including putting custom ROMs on my phones two years ago. I finally saw that I was like an addict trying to find the perfect high. Finally seeing the futility, I dropped the smartphones for good.

      You don’t need a smartphone. You will not miss out on life, your friends will still call you, you won’t miss your flight, or lose out on a great deal, and your kids will make it home from school just fine. The small complications that were quickly solved by your phone will be replaced by an over arching ease in your life.

      The other thing I realized is that we are not addicted to smartphones, we are addicted to information, to the false sense of safety that an ever increasing data set it provides.

      1. False Solace

        The only times I’ve ever needed to look up information on my smartphone, the data connection was so terrible it destroyed any illusion of information being “at my fingertips”. If you only use WiFi it’s fine. But if you actually go places and do things, don’t put the American cellular network to the test. It will let you down 4 times out of 5.

      2. HotFlash

        The other thing I realized is that we are not addicted to smartphones, we are addicted to information, to the false sense of safety that an ever increasing data set it provides.

        (emphasis mine)

        Thank you for that, Woozel. I had never thought of it that way, but it resonates with me as a person, and explains a lot about J Edgar and, of course, the NSA. Jungian.

  4. WobblyTelomeres

    Re: “hesitation = uncertainty”

    In my case, hesitation (while typing) = arthritis.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Some people are certain they will reject, say, marriage proposals, but delay the announcement (which lead to the perception of hesitancy) for the fun of it.

      In those rare cases (people being proposed are not generally bad people)…in any case, in those rare, rare cases, delay = hesitation but not = uncertainty (on the part of the people displaying hesitation, not the people waiting – that’s an uncertain moment for them, for certain).

  5. Katniss Everdeen

    lanny davis is on morning joe this a.m. plugging a “website” where you can “help michael cohen” tell the “truth” to the special counsel by…… money.

    When asked what finally motivated cohen to come “clean,” davis’ answer was grave, immediate and elegantly succinct. “Helsinki,” he said without even a hint of opportunistic embarrassment.

    davis provided no explanation why ex-marine and uber patriot robert mueller would need to be PAID to accept information about the destruction of the foundations of our democracy which he has reportedly been so diligently seeking.

    1. Roger Smith

      I am still waiting for the trial that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that tax evasion = Russian collusion/election tampering.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        What is this proof of which you speak? I was under the impression that proof has become the stinkin’ badges of this twenty-first century. We don’t need none.

      2. Ignim Brites

        There has always been two springs to the Resistance. Opposition to Trump’s domestic agenda coming largely from real Democrats and secondly opposition to Trump’s foreign policy agenda, coming largely form DINOs, i.e. neocons. The later drove the Russian collusion narrative and the former trundled along because frankly that was all they had for rejecting the election. But now, the Cohen pleas give the Dems a crime to proceed to impeachment without reference to any Russian collusion so that part of the narrative, so at odds with the foreign policy stance of the Dems post Vietnam, is going to disappear, and seething hostility to American aggression abroad will overwhelm the neocon DINOs. If the Dems win the House with as little as a 8 to 10 margin, impeachment is certain.

        1. JTMcPhee

          I’d say another couple of springs, too — the distaste and disdain of “liberals” generally, and of course “She (We) Wuz Robbed!” Probably there are more.

          Can hardly wait until these suicidal SOBs and Blobbists get their revenge, and Pence is in the Oval Office as Prez and Kaaballnaugh is up there on the Supreme Bench. All with lots of Dem collusion, of course. But we can’t say that, can we?

          Waiting for Ragnarok… (Will it hurt, Mommie?)

        2. Arizona Slim

          I’m calling it right here and now: I don’t think the Democratic Party can regain the House. Outside of certain races, there isn’t much voter enthusiasm this year. And that bodes well for the Republicans.

          1. Pat

            I’ve thought for a while that the one of the big tells that the Democrats don’t want to have the House majority is their actions. Look at what they do not what they say:

            Not working to register people…
            Not working on their ground game…
            Running people with little or no policy agendas, the same empty suits clearly attached to the donor class NOT people with a clear and clearly constituent directed policies.
            Undermining candidates who ran on their own and with a reason to run even if only subtly although sometimes flat out…

            All of these things have been the SOP of the party since 2009 when they had caught the tiger by the tail, and were actually supposed to do things. Nope they needed to lose, lose, lose.
            Now they are fundraising like mad, but don’t really want the responsibility to actually do anything. Pence won’t be the fund raising bonanza with no responsibility if Trump goes. Impeachment with no real ability to impeach is gold I tell you, gold.

            1. False Solace

              Democrats don’t need to win, they just need to be the only alternative. That’s what keeps the donor dollars flooding in. If you thought fixing the primary against Bernie was corrupt, just watch what happens if their position as the #2 party is ever threatened.

            2. NotTimothyGeithner

              Its really easy to get a politician to get worked up about a commercial, but getting on the phone or understanding what legislation does is like pulling teeth. Registering voters sucks! Its annoying. Its hot. Wal-Mart parking lots in early August…canvassing, making calls (they do matter), and so forth aren’t fun. Canvassing can be fun in doses.

              The whole concept of the Third Way as a political strategy is the promise of an easy path to victory and a cool title just by dumping a single issue (the DLC used to love pro-gun anti-choice Democrats). Its attractive to would be ugly celebrities. In reality, its the equivalent of a television crossover episode, but it seems so easy. Who doesn’t want Urkel to appear on Breaking Bad? Jaleel White and Walter White together at last! A source of the problem with the Democrats is the elected Dems have been recruited aggressively from local poobahs who were politically non-entities interested in the pageantry and a title. As a result, the hard work that led to the 2006 and 2008 wins was less of a riveting story than the GREATEST ORATOR EVAH!, who know one can ever seem to quote, or less appealing than the Clinton promise of the easy…Third Way.

              Calling Trump a traitor was always a classic misstep as it would inure for anything else among GOP voters. The Republicans who had their rice bowls broken will still hate Trump, but thats more about personal courtier politics than policy concerns.

              1. Pat

                Yuppers, and big money donors will write the ‘needed’ legislation for you with you having to do anything but sign and make the necessary appearances. So easy and lucrative (see the net worth before and after entering Congress for that to be clear – they don’t even have to wait for the retirement corporate sinecures goldmine).

                It isn’t the candidates not doing the handwork that makes the goal of being the minority clear – it is the Party not expending any time or energy and particularly funding to do it. Hiring a bunch of minimum wage workers to canvass or entering a few contracts with even favored vendors to spend a portion of the stipend to get someone to hang out in that Wal-mart parking lot would seem to be a no-brainer and a bigger boost to winning than paying for yet another consultant and/or commercial.

                I’m sure they will be largely missing in action on election day as well. (And I’m including the groups that take on those jobs when the Party cannot in this. I haven’t seen as much get out the vote by support groups like unions with reminders, rides, etc…)

            3. Lord Koos

              Local Democrats in many cities and towns are working to register voters, and the more progressive candidates are on the ground doing the work. But yeah, they are probably a minority.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                When Ted Olson took over the fight against Prop 8, he didn’t do a victory lap, but I remember a word that jumped out when long time advocates brought him up, discipline and focus, not righteousness or new ideas.

                Registering voters is a constant process. It cant stop. People move. They don’t realize they need to reregister. They’ll get around to it. They need to be registered as soon as they have five minutes. Billy needs to make a decision if he going to vote at home or TechStateU and whether he’ll need an absentee or a way home.

                The only way to do this is constant vigilance, and reliance on an ad hoc structure means that as soon as a grandkid is born or a kid takes up travel sport the person doing the registration stops.

                The 50 state strategy helped provide the support and structure. A few people getting together at the library on the weekend is nice, and people will do that. They’ll sit behind booths with a sign all day, but to get people, you have to be aggressive. That requires support.

                Then you have the people who want to do their neighborhood where everyone already knows everyone because they’ve been there so long which is great because they are already registered. If you leave people to their own devices, this is the behavior they will slip into.

                I have heard from a reliable source that the members of the Dave Matthews band would easily forget to fill out their absentee ballots if not for the efforts of a former band member. If that one member wasn’t so enthusiastic, Dave and the rest of the band simply wouldn’t vote despite being easy Democratic votes. This is what is being dealt with everywhere. As I noted the guy who saw to their registrations is now a former member, so I don’t know if anyone will take care of the problem. Maybe my source will, but she’s not with the band.

                The Democratic Party is reliant on “transient” voters for winning elections, the young, renters, and the poor.

        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          I agree with what I think I understand JTMcPhee to be saying. The #Resistance, most especially the Pink Pussy Hat part of it, are driven by injured personality-cult-pride that their Great Leader didn’t win the election. Any policy disagreements are invented for seizing-upon after the fact to lend some sort of shabby dignity to the #Resistance tantrum.

      3. sleepy

        Russiagate appears to have devolved from Russia!, Russia! to an old time scandal involving payoffs to ex’s.

        Following this, I wonder why the Clintons didn’t just pay off Monica to go away? Only difference between Bubba and Donald is that the Clintons would have laundered the source of funding far better than Trump.

        1. Pat

          Oh, I’m sure they would have if that had been possible. You have to remember that one of Monica’s confidants in the situation was the one who pushed the button throwing her to Starr. Look up Linda Tripp.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          It’s fascinating (and also unsurprising and depressing) to see which crimes get pursued in the USSA.

          Clinton Foundation finally files their 2014 returns, showing 486 employees laboring to give away fully 3% of “charitable” “donations”. Team Hilary destroys evidence under subpoena (usually that’s 30 years right there) and all I get is CNN blathering about how a campaign operative broke banking regs back in 2005.

          I’m really struggling to understand why the nation should bother with elections, let the billionaire factions duke it out and then just get the FBI to install the winner. Either way it’s bad for the 99% so ask me why I should care. To paraphrase what they used to say in the USSR, “they pretend it’s a democracy and I pretend to believe them”.

      4. Olga

        Which has not stopped Christian SM from claiming that Manafort’s convictions strengthen Mueller’s position. How exactly? Not clear…

        1. Ignim Brites

          Mueller is now irrelevant. When Dems take the House they will start their own inquiry into Trump’s illegitimacy and the star witness will be Cohen and the primary crime will be paying hush money to influence the election. Maybe they will throw in obstruction of justice. But the hush money crime is sufficient to impeach and the Russia narrative, because it is disputable, is now an impediment. Moreover, the Dems are naturally way closer to the people in their complete disinterest in confrontation with Russia or Iran.

          1. Pat

            Have you been paying attention to who is pushing the Russia is our enemy and evil!!! line?
            Try the Democrats. Go back and read up on Clinton at State and the election, she was behind actions that were meant to undermine Putin during his election AND at other times. She was also quite clear on pursuing actions in Syria that would provoke war with Russia.

            As for impeaching Trump, why do it unless you can possibly complete the process? Think they are going to control enough of the Senate on this issue to get a conviction. The House may indict, but the 3/4 of the Senate has to convict.

            Of course this might distract the rubes while they work with Trump to continue to rip off the American payer, enrich the wealthy and lay waste to OUR legal protections. As the last year and a half has proven he is a great distraction from Democrats doing that and making the only people they care about happy – the big money donors. So they would need a new when they had the means to actually end a bunch of those policies.

            1. Carolinian

              Actually it’s two thirds.

              And the Ignim Brites comment presumes that Trump would have lost if Stormy had spilled her beans. Hardly clear if the Access tape didn’t do it.

              The Repubs impeached Clinton with no hope of conviction and became unpopular at the time for doing it. Then there are also all those skeletons rattling around in Dem closets, waiting to be pulled out as acts of payback. It’s dubious the Dems will really try to impeach unless of course Trump really does make peace with Russia in which case all bets are off.

              1. Pat

                Of course it is. My bad. Thank you.

                Yeah, somehow I doubt Daniels would have tipped the election either. Not just the AH tape, it wasn’t like his known sexual history was squeaky clean before that either.

                Remembering how quickly Pelosi took impeachment and so much else off the table for Bush, I’m really gobsmacked at how many people think that impeachment is around for anything but faux opposition and fund raising. I would be shocked if even peace with Russia did it either. All the usual suspects would do is just undermine it and backtrack later see Iran and Syria for recent road maps of that strategy.

                1. NotTimothyGeithner

                  Evangelicals…I’m not sure how that would have gone. They weren’t super keen on McCain or Mittens, but Trump’s abortion conversion answer was the kind of thing those people eat up.

                  The obvious flaw of Bill Clinton’s continued standing in Team Blue pretty much gave Trump free reign. As a narrative, I remember Bobby Jindal, an obvious Jeb sheepdog, declaring Trump supporters in late 2015 were being conned. Like the treason narrative, calling Trump supporters victims of a conman (when they were more of a none of the above supporters) made any accusation at a later date impossible to stomach as its basically the lousy sheep dogs doing the same song and dance.

              2. NotTimothyGeithner

                For an element, Stormy might have been more credible than a Bush family member in light of Trump trashing Jeb down in Bush Country, South Carolina.

                Jeb isn’t W. with his saved from alcoholism and Jesus story. Even if it isn’t articulated, there is still a WASPY, phony working man divide in the GOP that matters. W. was one of them, but Jeb and 41 weren’t like Mittens and McCain weren’t.

          2. Lambert Strether

            > Russia narrative, because it is disputable, is now an impediment.

            McCarthyism is so useful, both for fomenting war, and assaulting the left, that I very much doubt that liberal Democrats will abandon it. ALso, the R-cubed ecosystem is very profitable for a lot of people, who will resist abandoning it. Finally, there’s immense brain damage done to the Clintonite base. They will insist on hearing their shibboleths repeated.

        2. Katniss Everdeen

          “Guilt” by insinuation, innuendo and association.

          The same tactic used to connect Saddam Hussein to 9/11 even though it wasn’t true. To this day, some significant portion of americans still believe he had something to do with it.

          This is mueller’s stock in trade, having helped gin up support for the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions after 9/11 when, as fbi director, he muddied up the anthrax investigation by not immediately admitting that the anthrax source was domestic, and not some foreign terrorist.

      5. EoH

        There is more than one federal crime on the statute books. Mr. Mueller’s remit specifically includes other crimes he might come across during his investigation. That’s where his referral to SDNY on Cohen came from.

        Mueller’s EDVA case against Manafort is similar. It grew out of Mueller’s principal investigation and is only part of the planned prosecution against Manafort. The more interesting part is next month. There are two only because Manafort refused to have them joined. He might have wanted two bites at the apple, but that gives Mueller’s team two bites, too.

    2. curlydan

      Lanny Davis?!? So one of the Clinton’s fixers is now Trump’s former fixer’s lawyer. Who would ever trust this guy?

      Oh yeah, then there’s this from his Wikipedia page (prepare barf bag): “Davis was the treasurer for Joe Lieberman’s Reuniting Our Country PAC”

    3. Pat

      Where is this money going to? Michael Cohen, and by extension Lanny Davis? Mueller? I’m confused who is getting the payoff.

      And I admit I’m confused as well about the whole payoff being illegal. I get that Manafort was essentially laundering money left right and center. Frankly I’d be surprised if you didn’t get a lot of the same from most of our leading campaign consultant class. Anyone for Mueller ripping apart Podesta’s financial life? But call me wild and crazy in a largely self funded campaign how can it be a violation to pay off somebody since you are essentially using your own funds. I can think of a few things this might fall under like bribery and blackmail sure, but campaign finance? Or am I just over the absurdity of I can pay my nearest and dearest outrageous sums from my campaign (along with multiple jobs at my foundation and any government department I am at), but not my former mistress?

      1. Darthbobber

        When one batch of the Ukie payments became public records Manafort, early coverage noted, though it did not emphasize, that the Podesta Group was the next stop in the migration of one chunk of the tainted bucks.

        One article did bother to mention that the Podesta Group was responsible for ensuring that the provenance of the funds was legit, but this did not happen. I get the impression that ion this line of work it rarely does.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        I as kind of kidding about mueller getting paid. I’d imagine cohen needs money to pay davis.

        And lanny is also out there making what is being referred to as a proffer of information on “collusion” and “hacking.” He’s saying that cohen has information that he’d be happy to “share.” Just like omarosa.

        Jeez! It’s been how many months since they kicked in his door and took all his files, and all the while it’s been authoritatively reported that he knows everything and is”flipping” on Trump. Now he pleads guilty and “proffers” the info they were supposed to have been getting in the first place? It would seem he’s got nuthin’.

        And to cap it off, lanny says that if Trump offered cohen a pardon, HE WOULDN’T TAKE IT because Trump is such unamerican scum and the pardon would be “dirty.”

        What a shit show. mueller should cut his losses before this whole thing blows up in his horse face, which it’s well on its way to doing.

      3. Big Tap

        Since when is paying off someone for their silence regarding sex a crime in the campaign contribution sense? The women are not involved in politics or any political campaign or party that I’m aware of. Also I thought Cohen was supposed to be the big link to Russiagate. Instead of giving us the dirt on the Trump Tower meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer, we hear he’s nothing but a money conveyer for Trump on a completely different matter. The #resistance crowd got nothing yesterday but a tax cheat and a bag man.

    4. Epistrophy

      What is happening in Washington DC is shameful and the world is watching an unbelievably corrupt, some might say rotten to the core, edifice reveal itself.

      Sadly it appears that about half the American electorate lives within the media bubble and do not realize they are being fed pablum day in and day out. The other half clearly realizes that there is something seriously wrong in DC but their access to accurate information is very rapidly being removed.

      The view from abroad, however, is much more damning. I fear that this is not going to end well and could lead to a crisis of confidence in the US dollar. No wonder the German Foreign Minister is calling for a non-dollar international transaction clearing system – an alternative to SWIFT. The way things are developing in Washington, it is becoming a necessity.

      From my perspective, it appears more and more that America is no longer a country, but is instead a collection of international monied interests competing for control. For example the interests of China, Russia, Israel, Europe, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, etc along with a bevy of mega global corporations attempting to buy influence and favours from Washington DC. Within this mix there does not appear to be any scope for the interests of the American people anymore. The core concepts of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights have been discarded. Civil Asset Forfeiture comes to mind as just one example.

      I might be wrong, but I believe there is going to be a major backlash in the November elections. I don’t think that the Democrats are going to acquire a majority – in fact this election could witness their political destruction.

      But will this make any difference? I don’t think so. Most of the politicians in Washington are so removed from the interests of the American people that it may already be too late. The existing system will only change when it collapses. Otherwise it will continue on it’s current trajectory, which is an increasingly corrupt and totalitarian one.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        It’s fascinating (and also unsurprising and depressing) to see which crimes get pursued in the USSA.

        Clinton Foundation finally files their 2014 returns, showing 486 employees laboring to give away fully 3% of “charitable” “donations”. Team Hilary destroys evidence under subpoena (usually that’s 30 years right there) and all I get is CNN blathering about how a campaign operative broke banking regs back in 2005.

        I’m really struggling to understand why the nation should bother with elections, let the billionaire factions duke it out and then just get the FBI to install the winner. Either way it’s bad for the 99% so ask me why I should care. To paraphrase what they used to say in the USSR, “they pretend it’s a democracy and I pretend to believe them”.

      2. Unna

        ….the German Foreign Minister is calling for a non-dollar international transaction clearing system….

        Maybe more important news than Cohen. And right after Merkle met with Putin.

      3. VietnamVet

        Washington DC is so bought that the President brags that the Saudi’s are paying for America’s occupation of Eastern Syria. No one mentions that the US’s proxy force there are landlocked Kurds who Turkey, Iraq and Iran want to pacify. The Syrian Arab Army is about to try to reclaim Idlib Province from the rebels and Turkish Armed Forces with Russia’s help. Unless, there is a peace settlement soon, this conflict will blow up the world. Instead, the President bullies upwards.

        Democrats ignore existential crises like this and the West burning to blame Russia for everything.

        There is no one to vote for.

        1. The Rev Kev

          And just in time for the Idlib campaign. Bolton has warned Syria that if there are any chemical attacks in rebel-held territory (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), that there will be a strong US “reaction”. The same chemicals the Syrians got rid of a coupla years ago but which the Jihadists still hold. John “Yosemite Sam” Bolton has also said “Regime change in Iran is not American policy but what we want is massive change in the regime’s behaviour”. Stuff like evacuating all Iranian troops out of Syria and making Russia responsible if they don’t. Just to keep Israel happy you understand.

    1. RUKidding

      Thanks for that. I was wondering how it all panned out. I was fortunate enough to travel through the 5 ‘Stans last year, so I have a tiny inkling about the region now. Very interesting.

  6. athena

    Is anyone following the Memphis ACLU trial?

    And this happened yesterday, AS day three of the trial was going on…

    “Meanwhile, the masked Multi-Agency Gang Task Force raided the home of the uncle of Fight for $15 organizer Antonio Cathey — and also crossed the street to search the legal residence of Cathey and his grandmother, according to Coalition of Concerned Citizens spokesman Hunter Demster. A photo from the scene:

    — Hunter demster (@hunter_demster) August 21, 2018
    And video:

    Post by 1244600781.
    At around the same time, Shelby County sheriff’s deputies detained another activist involved in the trial, Spencer Kaaz, and attorney Scott Kramer, who is involved in the trial and whose father, attorney Bruce Kramer, testified Monday. They released both later that day after writing a ticket for an expired tag, according to Demster.

    Kaaz’s video of the arrest:

    Post by spencer.kaaz.
    Maybe the raid and arrest were coincidental to the trial. I mean, it’s almost as far-fetched as Memphis Police using a fake social media account to cozy up to and spy on citizens.

    #FightFor15 organizer Antonio Catheys family was targeted by MPD today. They did this on the first day of the ACLU lawsuit in regards to political surveillance and police intimidation. 30+ police officers ,in full tactical gear, pulled their weapons on his 80 yr old grandmother.

    Scroll through and look at the pics. The cops were in ski masks!

    1. Eureka Springs

      Thanks for this. The twitter link is horrifying. I like to think I try to look at things from many angles, but for the life of me I cannot fathom the mindset of a person/policeman who will do these things.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Simple, they are white supremacists. But, I think you know this. Wouldn’t put anything past MPD, though. Especially after MLK.

        1. sleepy

          I was born and raised in Memphis though I left decades ago. Rarely have I seen a place where the wealth disparity between black and white is as stark as that town. The powers that be aim to keep it that way. Most low-skilled jobs are warehouse work at the hundreds of gigantic warehouses clustered around the airport (second largest cargo airport in the world, headquarters of FedEx). Nothing’s made in Memphis, just shipped through and toted around.

          Unloading computer parts from DC-10s–not much has changed since the old days of unloading cotton from steamboats. I’m still very fond of the town though for some reason. Sort of a ye-olde-south theme park.

          1. sleepy

            I meant to add that Memphis is the only metro area in the US over a million population which is majority black.

            1. Lord Koos

              Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Memphis also the most racially integrated city in the US?

              1. athena

                I doubt it. We’re #1 in the nation on “economic segregation”, the physical distance between the where the rich live and where the poor live, and the Memphis wealthy are almost exclusively white. The poor and remaining middle class are fairly integrated, tho.

        2. JacobiteInTraining

          White supremacists they may be, but don’t any of you for a *second* think your pale skin will protect when the thugs decide to attack *you* with Bearcats, balaclavas, AR-15s, flash bang grenades, and a mongol-horde of testosterone/steroid-fueled officers once they decide you need to be protected and served.

          We have enabled this culture of police violence, coercion, and the expectation of _immediate and total submission_ to ‘law enforcement’ authorities via our tough on crime measures, asset forfeiture, qualified immunity, and blind hero-worship of that ‘thin blue line’ that is supposedly all that stands between us and a godless zombie commie future of complete anarchy.

          No, I don’t think ‘all cops are rotten’, (or racist) but the personalities drawn to many of those positions have a variety of flaws that they are allowed and enabled (by laws prosecutors and courts) to give free reign to, and racism is just a supporting actor in that panoply of personality flaws. In my experience, the biggest/worst is their need to be worshiped/dominant/masters…followed closely by their adolescent need to be tacticool and *utilize* all those military toys and gear against, well…anyone…at any time…for any reason…to get their adrenaline rush.

    2. sleepy

      In the late 70s Memphis was the site of a simultaneous strike by firemen, police, and teachers. As expected, the powers that be were getting pretty nervous as things began to fall apart. At that time, the city still had something of an industrial base and the area-wide Trades Union Council had set a meeting to call a general strike. The city caved. I believe that was the last call for a general strike in the US.

      1. Lord Koos

        We could use a lot more of that. Working people need to wake up and realize their power, but the tactic of divide and conquer are working well, so far.

  7. Harry

    The China posts link to the same class war story. I think one is meant to link to a trade story.

  8. Harry

    Re Bill Gates story, a society dominated by intangible assets is more clearly feudal, and requires more military force to ensure “tributes” continue to be paid.

    I will miss capital based capitalism.

    1. bwilli123

      The heart of Facebook’s problem

      …”For one thing, exercising careful human judgment in every decision would require Facebook to employ many times more people than it does today. Decisions would take minutes, even hours or days, rather than seconds. Think of the size of the U.S. legal apparatus—then apply it worldwide. Taking responsibility for every such decision would make Facebook’s cost structure much more like that of the slow-moving, traditional media companies whose business it so profitably disrupted. ”

  9. Adam1

    “Gates has come to a realization—economists need to rewrite theory to explain the world that he helped create.”

    This is why you can’t let people become so ungodly rich and powerful; they eventually become ungodly hubris in their thinking of themselves. If he actually had an epiphany he’d have not written anything down and quietly wet his pants because what he’s discovered is monopoly and standard economic teaching is that monopolies need to be regulated and managed to prevent them from extracting excessive rents from society.

    100-150 years ago monopoly and rent extraction was a huge point of discussion in economics. Today, economists are the priests of the elite and hence rarely discuss monopoly and rents even though a mountain of real world data says that the vast majority of the economy operates under monopolistic structures.

    “This chart assumes that the total cost of production increases as supply increases,” Gates explained. “Imagine Ford releasing a new model of car. The first car costs a bit more to create, because you have to spend money designing and testing it. But each vehicle after that requires a certain amount of materials and labor. The tenth car you build costs the same to make as the 1000th car. The same is true for the other things that dominated the world’s economy for most of the 20th century, including agricultural products and property.”

    This is the classical mistake written into any intro economics textbook. The key to monopolistic structures is a downward sloping production curve and accounting for ALL of the costs of production, not just the ones that support the authors preferred view of the world. The 10th car and 10,000th car may cost the same for variable cost inputs, but a $10M machine and a $100M factory have a higher cost burden per car if only 10 cars are built versus 10,000. Bill Gates company has high start-up and research costs and as with the car company falling per unit production costs. It’s a monopolistic cost structure. It’s not economic theory that needs to be re-written it’s public policy that needs to be implemented to address the monopoly excesses that some people are accruing at the expense of the rest of us.

    1. Thomas Jennings

      There is a good podcast called “Citations Needed”, by Adam Johnson and Nima Shirazi that has two mega episodes on Bill Gates titled “Bill Gates: The Not-So-Benevolent Billionaire”. See Episodes 45 & 46.

      Here is the blurb for the episodes:

      “Russia, as we all know, has sinister “oligarchs” whereas in the United States, we are told, we have “philanthropists,” “job creators,” and “titans of industry” who earn their wealth through hard work, moxie, and guile. Aside from a few cartoonishly evil billionaires – like the Walton family, Peter Thiel, and the Koch brothers – the average American has a warm and fuzzy feeling about the super wealthy.

      The most notable of these Benevolent Billionaires is Bill Gates, whose foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, operates the largest overseas “nonprofit” regime in the world, worth over 40 billion dollars–– twice that of the next biggest foundation. The Gates Foundation receives almost uniformly softball coverage from the media, many of whom receive funding from Gates through various investment and donor arrangements, both from his personal coffers and the foundation that bears his name.

      In this two-part episode we ask how much this network of patronage effects Western media’s overwhelmingly positive and uncritical coverage of Gates. How can one can be critical of this type of massive outsized influence without devolving into paranoia? What is the nature of the capitalist ideology that informs Gates’ so-called philanthropy? And how do his programs often harm those they allegedly aim to help?

      We are joined this week by Dr. Linsey J. McGoey, associate professor of sociology at the University of Essex and author of the book, “No Such Thing as a Free Gift: The Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy.””

  10. Alex

    Re Facebook impact on attacks on refugees, (the original article is here, what is conspicuously missing from the controls is the level of crime *by* refugees. The following causation chain is plausible: refugees commit crimes -> locals post on facebook exaggerated accounts -> attacks against refugees. This is consistent with the correlation between facebook use and hate crime but if it’s the case facebook itself is not an independent variable *causing* the attacks.

    I’m not saying it’s necessarily so but they should have tested it or explain why they do not do it, and I haven’t found anything about it skimming the article.

    1. JTMcPhee

      The Telegraph and Breitbart and other ‘sources” aver that there’s a “refugee crime wave” plaguing the poor decent white folks in those EU countries (whose elites have helped decimate the refugees’ native lands). So one can pick and choose sources that “validate” that kind of belief.

      On the other hand, if one spends some time to look at searchable and maybe less biased resources, one seems to find that in Germany and Sweden there’s no indication that refugees are “more criminal” than the natives.

      This looks back to 2016, , and this to 2015 — crime statistics seem to be retrospective, for some reason, but of course sensational and “nationalist/populist” scare stories (never retracted when shown to be propaganda/“fake news”) are real-time, and also of course the net is full of opinion and blog bits that FORECAST VAST WAVES OF OMIGOD IMMIGRANT CRIME ACROSS OUR FATHERLAND!!!!!

      Not surprising, of course, is the absence of consideration of a more generic but not-group-sentiment-reinforcing causation chain, PEOPLE in an area commit crimes, especially “heinous and horrible” crimes -> locals post exaggerated or even fake accounts on facebook etc. -> vigilante groups pick up pitchforks and firebrands. There is such a thing, ill defined of course, as “human nature…”

      1. Alex

        What exactly are you suggesting? Not adding this as a control to the model? not doing such analysis at all?

  11. Bandit

    — Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) August 22, 2018

    Correction. Should be Maddog Blog (@MaddogBlog) August 22, 2018

  12. tegnost

    “…I wonder if this development is a sign that more educational attainment is becoming less valuable than in the past.”
    Wasn’t it seven years of bad luck for breaking a mirror because that’s how long it would take to replace one (whether true or urban legend I’m not sure). Now it’s the first seven years of wages (at least) to pay off the banksters. The value of educational attainment has been stolen by the financial sector.

    1. Shane Mage

      The value of education is ABSOLUTELY not economic. The educational value of economics, though, is close to zero nowadays.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        And a degree in, say, fracking or financial weapons, is not education, bur just one more credential.

  13. Carolinian

    Re Wired/climate change

    At one point, the U.S. was well on its way toward some of these changes. In 2012, President Barack Obama’s administration implemented regulations requiring automakers to nearly double the fuel economy of passenger vehicles by the year 2025. But the Trump administration announced a rollback of those regulations earlier this month.

    Of course one way to increase fuel efficiency is to drive cars that are smaller and weigh less and this is entirely within the control of a general public that doesn’t seem that interested. In America, at least, Trump’s denialism is preaching to the converted. AGW is mostly admitted, but let somebody else solve it.

    1. Linden S.

      When I talk about climate change with people, renewable energy is fine. We are still a ways away from a 100% zero carbon grid, but people don’t really have a special attachment to coal, natural gas. But when you talk about gas, diesel, and vehicles, it is completely different. Cars ruin cities, ruin rural places, cause untold deaths and health problems, and cost so so much. Why is it so hard to imagine a world where cars a luxury, not a necessity?

      I have seen this article linked on twitter several times over the past year, it is incredible how timely it still is:
      André Gorz: “The social ideology of the motorcar”

      Real freedom of movement is the freedom to live your life without having to own a car, and living in a landscape that is built for people and wild places, not cars.

      1. Carolinian

        But in America we live in a world that is built around cars and that is by design of the car, oil and (not least) real estate interests. What I’m saying is that if we must have cars to function–at least for now–they don’t have to be two ton cars.

        In my town they have a master plan for bike trails that will go everywhere. It is proceeding slowly.

        1. Linden S.

          Agreed…we have a small car, and pretty much can’t see 50 feet ahead in traffic anymore. So many people using trucks as their 1 hour + commuting vehicle, going to the grocery store, etc. It is impressive how much safety and fuel efficiency have gone up, but we should easily be driving hybrid cars that get 60 mpg+ by now!

      2. JohnnyGL

        Good link. I was at a presentation recently where the presenter talked about how rapid the transition was from horses to cars in the early 20th Century. The undertone was that is just kind of ‘happened’ as a natural evolution of society.

        Of course, the reality was very different. As described in the documentary, “Taken for a ride”, it was a huge undertaking by the oil/gas, finance, automobile, construction, and rubber industries to engineer the transition of American society to using the car as the primary mode of transportation. The following had to be accomplished…

        1) People had to get out of the streets so traffic could flow faster, so this was done under the guise of a campaign for public safety. Laws were passed against jaywalking to put cars first. Horses had to be pushed out, street vendors, too.
        2) Finance had to be arranged so people could borrow to pay for cars.
        3) Government had to be persuaded to build highways and lots of them. The transportation dept had massive budgets in the 1950s and 1960s.
        4) People had to be convinced to move to suburbs so they’d need cars and have space to put them. So a massive marketing campaign was undertaken, redfining the ‘good life’ as the new suburban ideal.
        5) Cities had to be crapified to accomplish 4
        6) Local laws on land use had to be engineered to put the focus on mass produced, single family detached dwellings.
        7) Land had to be cheap to accomplish 4-6
        8) Energy had to be cheap and plentiful to accomplish 4-7, so the oil/gas industries needed to drill, baby, drill.
        9) imperialist foreign policy partially flowed from item 8 (though certainly not entirely), leading to the chronic obsession with the importance of the Middle East.

        Really, when you think about it….the creation of modern suburbs and car culture was one of the most successful social engineering projects in history.

        1. Linden S.

          That looks like a great documentary, I have been looking for thorough and compact histories of that historical change.

          1. Olga

            Probably not the same – but years ago, PBS had a great documentary about how the public transport in the US was killed off. Heartbreaking in light of today’s world – and neoliberalism at its finest, before the word was even invented.

            1. JohnnyGL

              Yes, I suspect it is the same documentary. In my rapid-fire list, I forgot how the industries involved conspired to destroy the trolley car networks that ran in most cities and functioned as public transport. They bought them up, replaced them with buses, then crapified the buses and then eliminated the buses, too.

        2. Lord Koos

          10) Mass public transport had to be undermined… remember Roger Rabbit?

          In my younger days I was able to take a passenger train to go 100 miles to Seattle in comfort, and it only cost a dollar or two more than taking the bus. That route was eliminated decades ago. Interstate 90 now is so thick with cars and trucks in the summer that there are now traffic jams in the middle of the mountains. Mission accomplished.

      3. Adrienne

        @Linden S: “Real freedom of movement is the freedom to live your life without having to own a car, and living in a landscape that is built for people and wild places, not cars.”

        Would that Americans really had this choice. Although the Census does not define “suburbs” and does not differentiate “suburban” residents, clearly the number of people in the US that have access to pubic transportation that is good enough to replace a private car is minuscule.

        We’ve spent about 80 years building around car-dependence, and that won’t change any time soon–there isn’t enough money, materials, or willpower to urbanize the majority of our suburban and exurban areas. The ‘burbs will increasingly be home to the lower-income, who will continue to eke out a living driving whatever clunker they can afford to put a few gallons of gas into, or maybe if they’re lucky a hybrid or EV with a nearly-dead battery. Most people don’t have the luxury of choice, they just have to get to work/school/food bank/clinic etc.

        Rural residents, too, are almost totally car-dependent. Few rural areas have any sort of alternative to car travel, and those alternatives tend to be very hazardous: walking, biking, or hitching. (Hazardous because rural roads typically have no shoulder and thus one takes one’s life in one’s hand to not be in a car.)

        Hybrids and EVs won’t reverse this trend, which is dependent on structural and spatial constraints. A hybrid/EV is still a car which requires roads, parking lots, fueling stations, garages, etc. Cars require infrastructure that competes directly with public transit, walking, and biking. Focusing on the fuel source, rather than the car itself, obfuscates the real problem: too much distance between where we live and where we need to go.

        1. Linden S.

          “Focusing on the fuel source, rather than the car itself, obfuscates the real problem: too much distance between where we live and where we need to go.”

          I wish more people thought about transportation so in-depth.

          The rallying cry of many climate activists, policymakers, etc. is “electrify everything.” Basically, make enough zero-carbon energy sources so that *everything* — transportation, heating and air conditioning, industrial processes, etc. — can run off of electricity. I believe this is one of the pillars of the only real serious climate policy proposals in the U.S. from, e.g., AOC and Kaniela Ing (though he sadly lost his primary) that I have seen called a “Green New Deal.” I don’t really have a sense of the timeframe that everything could be made to run off electricity. How long would the installation of the needed high voltage transmission lines, energy storage projects, wind turbines and solar panels, and (possibly) nuclear or hydro power plants take?

          The only real thing I have seen about transportation, though I admit I don’t know as much about it, is simply that all cars, trucks, and semis will someday run off of batteries. But roads, bridges, and parking lots have a certain lifetime. As car infrastructure atrophies (as it already is across much of the U.S.) can we slowly replace it with mass transit, bike and pedestrian lanes, and restored natural habitat? It seems like the timeframe for that switchover would be much longer than the switchover to a fully-electric world, but at least there would a goal other than “keep filling potholes and expanding parking lots, forever.”

          1. ex-PFC Chuck

            A good book about this issue isGetting There: The Epic Struggle between Road and Rail in the American Century, by Stephen Goddard, written in the mid 90s.

          2. Adrienne


            I think that a lot of that atrophying auto infrastructure will simply be neglected until it is no longer functional. 80-90% of transportation infrastructure was initially built with federal money, which has dried up like everything else. Outside of the prosperous urban areas, there is no money to rebuild to anything like what we have enjoyed up till now. Charles Mahron at Strong Towns has written extensively about this problem: he characterizes suburban development as, essentially, a Ponzi scheme. Projects get built with “free” money (federal grants, etc) but the long-term obligation falls to state & local government, which cannot possibly afford to rebuild (or even maintain) the project once it reaches end-of-life. Local governments thus chase money for new projects instead of repairing or replacing the old ones.

            His latest is a good summary of the economic dilemma:

            I really think that large sections of the US will simply be allowed to continue to rot over the next several decades. People will be on their own to make do with what they can pay for with local property and sales taxes, which aren’t even enough now to cover basic services, let alone major infrastructure. Drinking water and sewerage will be priorities, bridges will be shored up and de-rated, roads will have patches on patches. I really don’t see public transit ever being expanded into suburban and rural areas, it’s simply too expensive to provide for low densities of people.

            As for full electrification of transportation & industry, who knows how long that will take. Think of the sunk costs we have right now in fossil-fueled machinery: even if we could chuck it all out and start over, is that really what we want to do? And some things will simply be too difficult to electrify on any reasonable economic scale: think air travel, which will simply cease to be affordable for just about all but the most wealthy.

            Solar panels and wind turbines are energy-intensive to make, and right now we’re doing it primarily with cheap coal. Think about having to make solar panels to power the solar-panel factory… what’s the energy cost to do that? Is there any net gain at all? Wind turbines require tons of concrete and steel per each mast & base, how many wind turbines do we need to build to power the machines to mine the ores, make concrete and steel, transport the behemoths to remote locations, and oh yes you also need miles and miles of heavy-duty roads to install and service those turbines. Suddenly the net energy produced by solar and wind looks pretty marginal–or even negative–once you realize you need to build out all the supporting industries without fossil fuels.

            IMHO, the eco-dream of a world with 9+ billion humans, all fed and watered and transported and housed and clothed and educated and pensioned and health-cared with only solar and wind is a freaking impossible fantasy. Ain’t gonna happen for 99.99% of us. There’s no “soft landing” from the end of cheap fossil fuels.

        2. HotFlash

          A good book on this is Stop Signs Cars & Capitalism on the Road to Economic Social & Ecological Decay by Yves Engler and Bianca Mugyenyi. Combination road-trip/survey/essay.

    2. Shane Mage

      The “general public” is not, nor can it be, an entity with agency or a mind with interests.

    1. Eclair

      As one of the commenters mentioned, this is a ‘brutal read.’ But, get yourself a cup of coffee or, better yet, strong drink, settle down and read it. This is what has happened to the countless cities and company towns in the East and Midwest. And, to the thousands of ‘left-behind’ workers.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I think it might be best to put on a pot of coffee and find a comfortable chair before attempting this read. This link tells the long sad story of Cannon company and the Textile Industry in the South, but very particularly its history in North Carolina. It’s crammed full of heros and villains, and sketches of an almost endless string of key events. I was disappointed in how little analysis accompanies this long long long history. Perhaps that might follow in later installments. Saluting heroes and booing villains is safe entertainment, suitable for the movies. ‘What’ happened and the ‘who’ is important but it has no teeth without more ‘why’ and ‘how’.

    2. cnchal

      Actually, this needs spelling out.

      I probably shouldn’t have to spell it out, but Amazon centers are 21st Century textile mills. They squeeze every ounce of productivity out of their floor workers while leaving them no routes for addressing the effects of timing bathroom breaks or denying people breaks or paying people retail rates to work jobs requiring intensive labor. Amazon does this in part because that’s how you become the richest man America, but also because it’s simply following along a path carved out for it over the past decade.

      Tied to the whipping post.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Perhaps the lesson contained within this long long long read is simply that with some ups and downs little has changed in the relationships between the owners of Satanic mills and their workers. But what of the power structures and mechanisms that enable and maintain these relationships? What is their history and possible future?

        1. foghorn longhorn

          Just substitute Uber or Amazon and nothing has changed since the 1800’s.
          Make America Great Again, for the .01 percent.
          Rah, Rah, Russia, Russia, Russia.

    3. makedoanmend

      Thanks for the excellent article.

      I couldn’t help thinking as I read about the “family” owned aspect of the situation in the beginning, including ownership of the actual town, that what was being described was nothing less than feudalism with capital (capital in its entirety of circulation) being the mechanism of control.

      In the beginning capital was used to produce both goods and produce the society to reproduce the goods via consumption.

      Later capital became the means of nothing less than looting and a means to reproduce a divided society and so became merely the means to extract rents from land and governments.

      As always, workers were nothing and remain nothing more than resources but resources that consume their own labour goods and, in that consumption, become the means which capital accumulates. The Lord of manor has been replaced by the … a new Lord? Different in operation but similar in result? In days of yore, local and in modern times a distant celebrity.

  14. a different chris

    >how the little story of a downward-sloping supply line and an upwardly sloping demand line has in fact never been established and for good reason.

    Haha I’ve always claimed, instead, that the supply and demand curves were absolute truth! Only it was completely impossible to even guess at what was being supplied and what was being demanded. At least if you are an economist– marketeers are a lot better although they are still guessing.

    You are of course correct but my take amuses me more.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Amid fires and hurricanes, price of climate change begins to hit home”

    This could get interesting here. However many business barons and politicians deny the fact of climate change, insurance companies do not have that luxury and have already started to factor in climate change and rising sea levels to premiums payments for their insurance policies. Either that or go out of business (well, actually get a government bail-out). When it gets bad enough, will some politicians demand that insurance companies remove these factors out of their tables in the same way that some States force their employees to remove all reference to sea level rising? Who wins in that particular bun-fight? Will wealthier citizens who own coastal properties demand that the government pick up the tab for their insurance and reconstruction costs? After all, there are a lot of wealthy people that live on the coastlines – for now.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We have to look at the price, soon or later.

      Interesting that it’s the price that will trigger action, or at least some attention, and not say, quality of life, or lives lost.

      “How much is that pound of flesh?”

      1. Louis Fyne

        it’s too late. we’re on track for the oceans to be acidic in a few hundred years.

        Aggregate CO2 is rising, per capita CO2 is rising (due to rises in the developing world, while stable in US, rising in EU)

        gross and per capita CO2 emissions needed to be trending down starting yesterday.

        ain’t happening especially as globally new generation of nat. gas and coal electricity plants are replacing both old coal and old nuclear powerplants. And new wind/solar aren’t making a dent in total CO2 numbers, especially considering wind turbine utilization tends to be less in summer due to weaker seasonal prevailing winds and current solar panels (but not molten salt solar) lose efficiency once temps exceed 25 celsius.

        And 10,000 mile supply chains are going the new normal.

    2. RUKidding

      In 2015, at the behest of Gov Rick Scott, the FL legislature banned the use of the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in the documents produced by the FL Dept of Environmental Protection:

      Similar restrictions on using factual terminology may have happened elsewhere (I seem to remember other incidents but don’t have time to research).

      This of course is in a state that’s almost completely surrounded by ocean. Like let’s just cover our lying eyes and go: I don’t seeeeeeeeeeee that! And plug up our ears: I can’t heeeeeeeeeeaaaaaar you.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s all too common to ban words or replace with more ‘suitable’ words.

        “Not illegal. Undocumented. No one saw you cross the street jaywalking. No documentation of the act. Please don’t say it’s illegal.”

      2. Lord Koos

        Amazing, since Miami routinely has dry weather flooding nowadays. What are they calling it, “unusually high tides”?

  16. Olga

    For those who appreciate both Mussorgsky and Pink Floyd:
    “Those were the days, during the Cold War 1960s and 1970s, when the earth was actually ruled by rock supergroups – from Cream and Led Zeppelin to Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.”

    Also, Pepe’s latest:
    “Angela Merkel is not part of The Sanctioned supergroup – thus not in the same league as multi-instrumentalists Putin, Xi, Rouhani and Erdogan. She’s been only tariffed by solo act Trump, not sanctioned. She’s no Suzi Quatro, not to mention Joan Jett, although she might entertain rompin’ across I hate myself /for loving you when facing Putin. She’s more like a staid back-up singer from Estonia at the Eurovision song contest.”

    1. David

      Silly Boy (Pepe). Trump is a Sex Pistol.

      Watch John Lydon defend Brexit, Nigel Farage and Donald Trump

      The punk icon (John Lydon, a.k.a Johnny Rotten) went on to describe US President Trump as a “complicated fellow”, adding: “One journalist once said to me, ‘is he the political Sex Pistol?’ In a way. “

      “What I dislike is the left-wing media in America are trying to smear the bloke as a racist and that’s completely not true, There are many, many problems with him as a human being but he’s not that and there just might be a chance something good will come out of that situation because he terrifies politicians.”

      “This is a joy to behold for me. Dare I say, [he could be] a possible friend,” Lydon said.

      1. neo-realist

        How the mighty punk iconoclast has fallen (and I loved the Pistols.) Even if one spent their youth using their music to knock the elites, but earns enough money to cocoon one’s self from real world problems one used to experience, such a person becomes as naive and indifferent as those elites one used to knock.

        Did wealth and privilege “make you a moron” John?

        1. witters

          “Even if one spent their youth using their music to knock the elites, but earns enough money to cocoon one’s self from real world problems one used to experience, such a person becomes as naive and indifferent as those elites one used to knock.”

          Whoa! Generalization!

  17. perpetualWAR

    After watching Elizabeth Warren’s National Press speech, I had to call her office. She must capture the power that still remains on the ground. She must talk about the lack of leadership from the Democrats who ushered in collusion between the big banks and the state and federal government to take over 18 million homes. (Some of you question this number, but forget that propaganda about the crisis remains high. I read an article in 2009 that 6 mil had already been foreclosed upon at that time! Also think about the deeds-in-lieu and short sales, as those people lost their homes as well.) Until a politician acknowledges this poor leadership, they leave out those whose trust in their government was extinguished during the crisis.

    However, I am still going to pull the trigger for Warren, if she chooses to run in 2020, despite my disappointment of not endorsing Sanders.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When will we set bonsai trees free?

      The kind of masochistic distorted and stunted growth a bonsai master bestow upon them is just unspeakable.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    A major hurdle in trade talks: US and China ‘play by different economic rules’ South China Morning Post (Kevin W)


    One of those rules is that China’s rich want to migrate to America, while, so far, not too wealthy Americans are looking to get a Chinese passport.

    It’s if we’re back to the 19th century, when imperial subjects extracted wealth from China…India or other former colonies. Money, either taken by those European imperialists, or today’s native 0.1%, still flows to New York, London, etc.

    Why don’t they want to stay home?

    1. The Rev Kev

      Look what happened to Saudi Arabia’s billionaires that stayed home. They got rounded up, shoved into a hotel and had to cough up billions in the hard stuff to make sure that they would still be alive the following week. Remember, this is a country that crucified a bloke this week and is getting ready to execute its first female activist. If I was one of those Saudi billionaires, I would be buying a ticket to anywhere in the world – one way!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think #resisting is out of the question for them.

        Unfortunately, this will just exacerbate extraction (more and faster than what is now).

      2. Olga

        Actually, if I recall the story correctly, some were lured back under a guise of some important meeting (or some such thing). They dutifully landed in Riyadh and were promptly whisked into a fancy hotel (with a few trapped doors). There is NO EXIT.

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        The Egyptian authorities and the Ottomans sent armies to exterminate the Saudi tribe around the 1810’s. They killed about half believing they had pushed them far enough into the desert to not be a problem as they were basically pirates and brigands. It might not be the main event from the era, but the Saudis remember. There are only 40,000 Saudi tribe members including women, old men, and children. About half the men are “wealthy” with most around the $1 to $2 million dollar range and the non-wealthy having important jobs.

        If Saudi Arabia isn’t important, I wonder what kind of protections an exiled Saudi prince would really have versus a more low profile wealthy person. If a government needs a scapegoat, a rich Saudi would be a great sacrificial lamb if Saudi influence declined versus taking on Bill Gates who might represent a threat to all tech billionaires and so forth.

        Without the promise of Chinese billionaires fleeing, I’ve long suspected Eastern European oligarchs to get the short end of the stick especially the more flamboyant ones.

      4. ewmayer

        Hey, pal, you go too far in your lèse-majesté of our friends the Saudis. They are in fact a valued ally in the American effort to spread democracy and freedom and help out kids who can’t read the Qur’an good™. They have medieval-style crucifixion and head/hand-lopping-off, we USians have Killer Kops. Dead is dead, yes? And they had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks – that was a bunch of rogue employees, since unceremoniously dismissed, or something.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Chinas millionaires remember well the 20th Century history of China and they don’t see any good reason to assume that history won’t repeat itself. So they always try to ensure they have a fall-back option.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Since 1949, the liberated Chinese people have been asking for those overseas millionaires’ money back, whether it was in Georgia (where the former mayor of Shanghai went), New York (the Song family), Hong Kong or Taiwan.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Some loot from the Old Summer Palace during the Second Opium War have returned to China already.

            Two bronze zodiac animal heads ( – previously owned by Yves Saint Laurent no less) are back in Beijing now.

            Many still reside in the best Western museums…Chateau Fontainebleau, for one.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


            One of the supposed reasons emperor Yongle sent adm. Zheng He to as far as Africa (or America, according to some) was to look for the legitimate claimant to the throne, the previous, usurped (but political power came from the barrel of a gun) Son of Heaven, emperor Jianwen.

            Taiwan may not that be that powerful, but it still has a claim to China.

            Once independent, Formosa loses that claim. What may be tempting now (China is too powerful) may become regrettable.

          3. Lord Koos

            The loss is likely a handy byproduct of China’s many overseas projects. China has been investing heavily in Africa, South America, SE Asia, etc. I’d guess that Taiwan could continue to bleed allies because of this.

    3. witters

      “One of those rules is that China’s rich want to migrate to America, while, so far, not too wealthy Americans are looking to get a Chinese passport.”

      Because the USA is heaven for the super-rich! (“We Are Still Great!”)

  19. earlofhuntingdon

    To revert for a moment to Brexit, we’ve discussed it as an opportunity for neoliberals to privatize the commons and to concentrate resources in the chaotic first years of a hard Brexit, in a manner reminiscent of Russia in the early 1990s.

    One example might be taking place as we speak. It is a planned new ninety-mile motorway from Oxford to Cambridge. It would be built along a radius roughly sixty miles from the center of London, in relatively rural, picturesque terrain that is already commuting distance from City.

    The “plan” contemplates building one million new homes – an astounding number that would double the existing housing stock. That would create a new conurbation and new demands on already stretched water/waste, power and transport infrastructure. Its existence would destroy the reasons people might want to live there. But it would create a bonanza of government subsidized fortunes for real estate developers, construction companies, builders, and City banks, reeling from the pains of a hard Brexit.

    The timing for this massive new development is hurry up and do it yesterday. No doubt, it will be sold like a nuclear power plant, with absurdly low cost predictions, and promises of thousands of new jobs. Supposedly, the route has yet to be determined.

    George Monbiot’s critique focuses on the forced lack of public debate. That seems designed to avoid all the hard questions – and answers. Is such a project needed, for example, and for what reasons? Who would lose, who would benefit – and at what cost? What would be the financial, environmental and social impact of creating a new mega-city so close to London? People in the Southern Cone might have asked similar questions, had they the chance, when they were being Kissinger-Friedmaned into neoliberalism in the 1970s and 1980s.

    Monbiot himself avoids asking a hard question about agency. The only bogeyman he identifies is a technocracy gone awry, a planning process that inevitably leads to the survival of the unfittest plans. My candidates for bogeyman, however, would start with developers, neoliberal mavens, and politicians and big banks needing distraction from the chaos of a hard Brexit.

    The government will be busy with Brexit, which suggests that this project will be driven by the profit side of the inevitable “public-private” partnerships that would implement it. That might be one reason the government wants to avoid hard questions. As with Brexit, it probably hasn’t any answers for them.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I don’t think you need look for conspiracies to explain the Oxford Cambridge road scheme, or the way the proposals are presented – this has been the way in the UK since the 1950’s (very well satirised by Douglas Adams in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy). The broad outline of the UK motorway system was pretty much set out in an ad hoc manner during the war years, and has developed enormous momentum bureaucratic momentum. You simply have a huge technocracy producing constant plans, waiting for politicians (usually Tory) who say ‘traffics terrible, we need a new road!’ and out pops a pre-existing plan. People who know the system are good at lobbying the government for one or other particular link, and there is no bigger and more powerful lobbying group than Oxbridge connected business people. There is an old Yes Minister joke about why Oxford managed to get two separate motorway links to London.

      The UK system is designed so that the basic decision on a road link is already pre-made, so the public inquiry is merely allowed to address routing. I can recall from anti-road campaigns in the 1990’s that in the entire post war period only one road was every refused pending an enquiry. It got even worse after railway privatisation as this meant that public transport alternatives were taken off the table.

      Ironically, the EU brought forward a Directive to address precisely this issue, the SEA Directive 2001/42/EC. It was intended to force national governments to justify projects from first principles. It was, of course, generally ignored in the UK, which decided it didn’t apply to older plans, and since all roads plans are ‘older’, they ploughed on regardless.

      1. EoH

        Technocracies can certainly become irrational in their rationality, as in when they put their plans for a new hyperspace bypass “on display” at the bottom of a locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory several star systems away.

        But one needn’t engage in fantasy to suggest that those who might most profit from a new roadway – or an unprecedented building project – might attempt to influence a government and its planners. The Transcontinental Railway project was rife with corruption, bribery, poor construction, stock fraud and massive government subsidies to private businesses. That arrangement typifies public construction contracts in South Korea and Japan today.

        On a smaller scale, it typifies competition for the location of freeway exits in the US, which make adjacent land, usually in underused locations, highly profitable. Like the routing decisions for the original railways, their location can sometimes make or break local magnates and local economies.

        Then, too, big box store owners often obtain government subsidies and tax abatements equal to or greater than the cost of land and building for a new store. The promised exchange is usually jobs. The jobs that are created are often fewer than promised, are usually cannibalized from other local employers, are less secure, pay less, and offer fewer benefits.

        On a larger scale again, there is the Amazon hustle, the competition to offer billions of subsidies in exchange for its locating its second global headquarters nearby. A hard Brexit would offer greater opportunities to profit from the chaos.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          In the UK there is relatively little direct corruption in the construction process, the tendering and management systems are reasonably open. The exception is when its a PPP contact of course, but thats a different story.

          The core of corruption in the road building game in the UK comes down to land ownership. The UK system doesn’t have efficient clawback systems for getting the enormous profits landowners can reap from a well located road junction. Given that so many of the big landowners in that region sit in ermine in the House of Lords you don’t need to look very far to see who will be influencing route choices.

          1. EoH

            I would imagine that PPP would be part of this enormous project. The usual government line would be that it alone hasn’t the money to do it, and that the private sector adds accountability and efficiency. Someone on the backbenches might argue that Carillion suggests otherwise.

            I agree that the likely route – Oxford, Bicester, Brackley, Buckingham, Bletchley, Bedford, St. Neots, Cambourne, Cambridge, or just south of that line – has more than the odd acre owned by someone in the House of Lords.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Italy’s famous dome is cracking and cosmic rays could help save it ars technica. Chuck L:

    This is the kind of stuff your uncle was working with when he was collecting data for his thesis on K-mesons 12K feet up at the Inter-University High Altitude Cosmic Ray lab on Mt. Evans, CO, during the ’54-’55 academic year. 40 or so years later he told me that at that time he could have got the necessary data by scheduling ten minutes on an accelerator at a place like Brookhaven or Batavia.

    Did the uncle or anyone know, at the time, collecting data about mesons at 12K would be lethal or not?

    Today, hopefully, we know. But was it a known fact (either way…either lethal, or not lethal)?

    1. Synapsid


      The K mesons and cosmic rays are there at 12 000 feet whether you’re collecting data on them or not, just as they are at sea level.

      Ultraviolet at 12 000 feet, now, can give you quite a sunburn if you aren’t prepared.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I understand that altitude sickness is still fairly mysterious, as to who will get sick and who won’t.

        Hopefully today we know how to acclimate and prepare beforehand better.

  21. JEHR

    “Why wasn’t road closed….”

    According to information I found on the Internet, EU austerity cuts may have played a role in the collapse; the EU fiscal budget is restrained spending, the road was built and maintained by a private company (Atlantia) under contract until 2042 (?) and the Benetton family holds a major proportion of shares in the company. Engineers warned two years previously about danger of the bridge as a “failure of engineering.”

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The article is about a different bridge! The Florida International University bridge that collapsed a few months ago.

      As for the Italian one, while no doubt austerity played a role, its much more likely that it was the rampant corruption in the Italian construction industry back in the 1960’s and 70’s that were the root of the Genoa bridge collapse. The problem with covering key structural parts with concrete (as was the case with that bridge) is that it makes it very hard to know if something bad is going on underneath.

      1. earlofhuntingdon

        Which calls into question the “refurbishment” that was apparently done on that bridge in Genoa in 2016.

  22. Jason Boxman

    It’s interesting that no one ever prosecuted Timothy ‘foamy’ Geithner for tax fraud; instead he got to be Obama’s Treasury Secretary and hook up the banks. Manafort apparently had the wrong allegiances.

  23. UserFriendly

    Re Ellison
    this is how the victim describes the singular instance of violence that he committed in their years long relationship.

    I didn’t look up at him or saying anything. That is when he tried to drag me off the bed by my legs and feet, screaming “bitch you answer when I am talking to you. I said take out the trash, your a bad guest (even though we were living in the same place). He kept trying to drag me off the bed, telling me to get the fuck out of his house, over and over. I froze. He had to leave and get on the plane. He knocked the shoe off my foot and told me I better be gone when he gets back (which was in two days). This happened in 2016.

    Did she get a bruise? even fall off the bed?

  24. rd

    Re: More women than men at universities

    Nowhere has this trend become more obvious than in engineering. Women simply didn’t exist in my engineering classes and work place 30-40 years ago. They started to pop up randomly in the work place @ 1990 and the floodgates opened up @ 2000. I would say today that about half our entry-level engineer hires are women today.

    I suspect that the women engineers’s pay is still lagging equivalent men some, but not like the old days 20-30 years ago (can’t go further back than that because women engineers effectively did not exist).

    There isn’t much to be done about the biology. Women engineers still lose time when having babies although I am starting to see some of the male engineers and scientists taking paternity leave which would have been unimaginable 25 years ago. However, even though some of the men take paternity leave, it is still the women who are most likely to take on reduced assignments in order to spend more time at home and have less travel.

    We are seeing more women engineer and scientist managers in the field now. I suspect 20 years from now the managers will be in about equal numbers as men as the current crop of 20s enter their 40s. I think that is when we will really see opportunity and pay normalization.

Comments are closed.