Links 8/24/18

What to expect from Federal Reserve chair’s Jackson Hole speech FT

Elon Musk Hires Morgan Stanley to Help Take Tesla Private Bloomberg

Tesla Factory structure caught on fire in Fremont [update: fire now extinguished] electrek. I worked in many factories, back in the day, and never once encountered a fire; supports my view that the Tesla shop floor is a hell-hole.

Kalashnikov’s CV-1 electric car touted as Russia’s answer to Tesla BBC. Hard to beat the Kalishnikov brand, but the styling is a bit… Soviet.

Banker pleads guilty to money laundering charges, S. Fla. properties could be seized South Florida Business Journal. “Krull admitted that he helped private clients from Venezuela embezzle about $600 million from Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), a state-owned oil company.” E. Mayer: “Perhaps this sort of insider-looting explains at least part of Venezuela’s financial woes.”

Puerto Rico

What Happened in the Dark: Puerto Rico’s Year of Fighting for Power Wired

The Independent Investigator’s Final Investigative Report (PDF) The Financial Oversight & Management Board of Puerto Rico. Lengthy.

Year after Harvey, poor having toughest time recovering AP


The government’s technical notices finally spell out the calamity of a no-deal Brexit New Statesman

Britain Ramps Up Preparations for No-Deal Brexit WSJ

NI businesses advised to contact Irish Government to discuss no-deal Brexit scenario RTE

Growth in UK ro-ro traffic highlights need for Brexit deal, says BPA Lloyd’s Loading List. Ro-ro: Roll-on, roll-off trucks.

Goldman Sachs sells new London headquarters for £1.2bn Finance News

Jeremy Corbyn vows radical shake up in how the BBC is run if Labour takes power Daily Mirror


Afghanistan will not attend peace talks with Taliban in Moscow Deutsche Welle

How Will Iran Respond to Trump’s Escalations? TRNN (parts two and three).

Shin Bet Grills German With ‘Palestinian Blood’ at Border Crossing Haaretz

How Turkey’s lira crisis was written in Istanbul’s skyline Guardian

Scott Morrison beats Peter Dutton in Liberal spill to succeed Malcolm Turnbull; Julie Bishop loses deputy position ABC Australia


The US cannot halt China’s march to global tech supremacy FT

New Cold War

What the Brennan Affair Really Reveals Stephen F. Cohen, The Nation

The U.S. Can’t Bring Russia ‘to Its Knees’ Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

Russia’s Allies and Satellites Valdai Discussion Club

The CIA funded a culture war against communism. It should do so again. WaPo (UserFriendly).

Musician Bobi Wine Arrested and Tortured by USA’s Man in Africa Black Agenda Report (GF).

Trump Transition

Former AG Mukasey: there’s ‘not really’ an election law problem with Cohen PBS. Mukasey denied that waterboarding is torture, so he’s in good company with Brennan, et al. That said, he makes this argument: “The election law says that a payment for the purpose of affecting an election has to be reported and is limited for a person other than the candidate to $2,700 and a little bit. It’s the purpose. If there is a dual purpose, including protecting his reputation, then it’s not considered a campaign contribution. [I]f you make a contribution that serves a dual purpose, then it is not, I believe, covered by the statute. And that statute is read narrowly.”

The Ghost Companies Connected To Suspected Money Laundering, Corruption, And Paul Manafort Buzzfeed (Richard Smith).

Prosecutors grant immunity to Enquirer’s David Pecker: report The Hill

The Trump Organization’s finances are coming under the microscope by federal prosecutors Los Angeles Times

Tensions flare between Trump and justice department FT

Betsy DeVos Eyes Federal Education Grants to Put Guns in Schools NYT. Demented.

Reality Winner, National Security Agency Leaker, Sentenced To 5 Years HuffPo

Democrats in Disarray

Inside the progressive movement roiling the Democratic Party Reuters. This is the stat that’s getting play: “The Reuters–Ipsos survey found 85 percent of Democrats said they support [Medicare for All] along with 52 percent of Republicans.” However, the whole piece is worth a read for insight into the various backers I’ve been tracking: Our Revolution, Brand New Congress, Justice Democrats, etc.

What The Party ‘Strategists’ Say Is Not What The Voters Want Moon of Alabama. In fact, what the strategists want is fringe.

Loyal Democratic donors: We’re done with the DNC ‘until they get their act together’ McClatchy

The lesson we refuse to learn about Republican voters The Week

Health Care

Two Challenges The Single-Payer Movement Must Address Shadowproof

A Koch-funded think tank tries hard to pretend that it didn’t find savings from Bernie Sanders’ Medicare plan Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Facebook: the new Credit Reporting Agency? Credit Slips. Yikes.

Net Neutrality

Verizon’s Throttling of Fire Fighters Could Go Unpunished Because the FCC Repealed the Open Internet Order EFF

Class Warfare

‘Algo Hermoso’: NY Nail Salon Workers Join Fight for a Fair Wage Rewire News

Radicalization in Prison: Historical Lessons for Today’s Challenges Political Violence at a Glance

Prison Strike Organizer Warns: Brutal Prison Conditions Risk “Another Attica” The Intercept

Race, Unemployment, and Mental Health in the USA: What Can We Infer About the Psychological Cost of the Great Recession Across Racial Groups? (PDF) Journal of Economics, Race, and Policy

Alcohol use and burden for 195 countries and territories, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016 The Lancet. From the conclusion: “Our results show that the safest level of drinking is none.”

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. fresno dan

    The lesson we refuse to learn about Republican voters The Week

    A surprisingly large number of supposedly knowledgeable and sophisticated analysts have learned nothing from the tumult and churn of the past three years of American politics.

    What The Party ‘Strategists’ Say Is Not What The Voters Want Moon of Alabama. In fact, what the strategists want is fringe.
    Q: Why did the Democrats lose the Senate, House and presidency as well as more than a thousand state government positions?
    A: They listened to their ‘strategists’, not to their voters.
    Are the strategists and analysts really that ignorant, or are they purposefully ignorant? WHO PAYS THEM to say what the issues are?
    And yet our media acts as if there ISN’T consensus for policies that have demonstratively increased inequality for decades – because we are in a class conflict that CANNOT be acknowledged by the mainstream media. Again, actually stupid, or purposeful stupidity?

    1. JTMcPhee

      Purely rhetorical questions, is my guess. Kochs, Murdoch, Adelson, Banksters, Captains of Industry, “who pays the piper calls the tune,” what a surprise! It’s not “our media,” and “we the people” have a little insight and preference for things being conducted differently and maybe better for the general welfare, but of course “we” have no power to direct “policy,” that wonderful word that everybody knows what it means but never get around to parsing it out and discussing its manifold imports (like that other word that “everybody just knows what it means,” the word “enemy.”)

      It’s likely not “stupidity,” except maybe in one of the senses spelled out here:

      “The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity”

      Our bodies are evolved to generally favor homeostasis, barring cancer or other disease processes, and apoptosis. What a wondrous defect in design, that our cognitive functions can override that fundamental aspect of survival of the individual, when it comes to larger sets…

    2. Landrew

      Agreed, one of the clues I think, when sites like Naked Capitalism continues it’s support for a corrupt felon surrounded by convicted and cooperating felons it’s makes you wonder if everyone adopted the Truth isn’t Truth, Alternative Facts, philosophies. I think if I read one more article supporting Trump that will be the end for me. When the Broidy Ending Playmate’s Hush Payments Doesn’t Add Up — Unless He’s Covering for Trump finally is discussed that will be the end not the Mob money, media electioneering. Trump’s Pecker will be the end (pun intended).

      1. tegnost

        And yet our media acts as if there ISN’T consensus for policies that have demonstratively increased inequality for decades – because we are in a class conflict that CANNOT be acknowledged by the mainstream media. Again, actually stupid, or purposeful stupidity?
        …fd’s comment shines a light on a sensationalist media unconcerned with the wishes of it’s constituencies and you just go all tdr on us. Which pro trump article are you referring to, I’d like to read it. And the main reason for reading nc is actually for the great content. Stories such as sandwichman yesterday and today’s on market power provide much more insight into the conditions which created the orange charlatan than a thousand page diatribe about how great those dems are that can’t seem to achieve anything beneficial to their alleged constituency. Cry me a river on your way over to the WaPo website where more like minded consumers await your insights

      2. Pat

        Oh I think most of us here accept that Trump and most of his cronies are corrupt. The difference is that we do not think they are the exceptions but are the outcome of a deeply corrupt system where most of the public persons railing against him are equally or even more deeply corrupt. That Trump is the logical outcome of a system that has been perverted to allow open bribery, fraud and sale of the commons for private gain and is one in a long line of felons.
        Eliminating only the spoiler, not one of the club felon, does nothing to improve things. I, for one, an hoping the spoiler takes down the whole rotten edifice as he falls and until that is possible will not cheer the coup.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Landrew is the symptom, the disease is an atmosphere where a site (NC) that actually does try and debate pro and con, with contributors required to document and defend their positions, is demonized as “apologist” or (nowadays) “fellow traveler”.

            It’s simple to find fault with The Orange Man, but faults with one man or a policy or a party are transitory. When the institutions themselves (FBI, DOJ, the “free” “press”) become corrupt, and do things like try and subvert a presidential vote or work to oust the winner from office, that the real threat to the Republic becomes apparent.

            But now NATO The Atlantic Council will tell us Facebook what news we’re allowed to see. I hope they don’t forget to tell us who the next president is. And we could save alot of money by packing up those old-fashioned institutions and sending them home.

            Forward Soviet!

      3. Synoia

        Alleged corrupt felon surrounded by convicted and cooperating Alledged felons

        And the alternative is less apparently felonious? Please elucidate, be specific and more direct.

      4. Fiery Hunt

        I call Bullsh..!
        Naked Capitalism calls ’em all out…Trump when he’s being “efficient ” in remaking the Federal government into a neoconservative fantasy, and the Democrats when they continue their pursuit of neoliberal destruction of the middle class.

        Unfortunately for blind Resistors, there’s more corruption and hypocrisy in Democrats than they can bear to acknowledge .

        Deal with it.

      5. nippersdad

        When one views the entire political process to be one in which there are two teams vying for the spoils generated by a general consensus looting of the commons, dissing one set of looters cannot be construed as support for the other. Rather, the posts you decry tend to promote the view that one can sit apart from the process, looking on and trying to find ways of altering it.

        You appear to have missed the entire point of the exercise.

      6. Summer

        I think NCs overarching view is that there are bigger problems than Trump.. more he’s a symptom, not the disease.
        And criticizing the establisment or examining it’s daily hogwash does not make one automatically a Trump supporter.
        Trump uses everything made available to him by a thoroughly corrupt swamp and picking off a bit of the scum is hardly cause for relief.

        1. RUKidding

          …and picking off a bit of the scum is hardly cause for relief.


          Sure, it gives one a thrill for a few minutes to watch some crooked creepy criminal maybe finally face some consequences, especially if it includes a Perp Walk (usually to Club Fed). But then I wake up the next morning, and it’s back to the future.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Who is a Trump supporter?

          Or rather, who is an undercover Trump supporter?

          To me, those who make weak, really weak criticisms of Trump, and in the process, crowd out other legitimate critics – they are underhanded Trump supporters.

      7. JTMcPhee

        Landrew, one wonders whether there is another site you have been perusing that SOUNDS like “nakedcapitalism” but isn’t. Maybe there’s a domain called “halfbakedcapitalism”? “flakedcapitalism?” Seeing and reporting on the sins of the Banksters and supranational corporations, the vast flaws in the Clinton grift machine, the corruption in all parts of the Empire, the greed and stupidity and short-sighted grasping after gain and power, and looking for maybe the common threads that tie up into the ever-tightening Gordian knot that binds most of us into ever narrower lives, and especially the thought people here give to ways that knot might be untangled or severed, how is this any kind of “support for a corrupt felon?”

      8. Bugs Bunny

        No one is singing praises of Trump here (is anyone?). Linking to articles disputing the mainstream views on his administration is part of a more general analysis and criticism of the underlying political economy and social forces that allow a Trump to get into power.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I agree, that would quite a leap.

          It’s used often, even if tenuous at best.

          1 Criticizing Russiagate ≠ Praising Putin
          2. Criticizing America ≠ China or Russia is a good guy

      9. Partyless Poster

        I’ve found as a general rule the more some one is freaked out by Trump the less they’ve been paying attention to politics.
        They point out the immigration mess and tax breaks for the rich but what has really changed? These are mostly the same policies as Obama had.
        Just because Trump is awful doesn’t make the democrats any better.
        Learn some history

      10. Adam Eran

        Sorry, but when his predecessor not only does not prosecute the war crimes of Bush / Cheney, but promotes the torturers and prosecutes the whistleblowers…then any candidate calling Democrats “crooks” gains a certain credibility.

        …and when he assaults women…what about JFK? or Clinton? Yes, the specifics are slightly different, but he’s calling them out as crooked, and although he’s clearly a crook, he’s “authentic” because he doesn’t hide it behind some hollow, pseudo-dignified speech.

        NC’s emphasis on Obama’s responsibility for Trump, and those 1,000 down-ticket victories for the Kochs and their minions is spot on, IMHO.

        Also…I’d suggest the Trumpist agenda is to emphasize identity politics over substantial policy to the point that the entire population splits into squabbling tribes. It divides and conquers the electorate (as LBJ did running for senate against Coke Stephenson).

        Talking about those “bad Trump people” who are ever so different from your own tribe is more of the same. It takes no responsibility for the sins of the D’s while increasing the volume on the squabble until it drowns out all sensible responses.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      From MofA:

      The progressive Democrats who are pushing for single payer healthcare still miss out on other issues. They also support higher wages, but are, at the same time, against restrictions on immigration. Wages rise when companies have to compete for workers. Immigration increases the available work force. A political program that supports both does not compute.

      Working people understand this and in 2016 many of them voted for Trump. Neither LGBTXYZ identity policies nor other aloof ‘liberal values’ will increase the income of the poor. To win back the necessary masses the Democrats and social-democrats in Europe will have to shun, or at least de-emphasize such parts of their program.

      You’ve asked who pays analysts and strategists to say what the issues are. I’d say it’s just the opposite–they are paid to “say,” and emphasize relentlessly, what the issues AREN’T.

    4. Synoia

      Q: Why did the Democrats lose the Senate, House and presidency as well as more than a thousand state government positions?
      A: They listened to their ‘strategists’, donors not to their voters.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “The CIA funded a culture war against communism. It should do so again.”

    Turn around is fair play so what if Russia’s Federal Security Service did the same sort of things in the United States? Maybe bankroll a whole series of films about life in modern America making use of young talent and good production values. Make films about, say, a young couple losing their home and being turned out onto the street after the great crash, another about young black families growing up in Ferguson and being criminalized in order to meet the town’s budgets, another about people in the country seeing the trees dying and the introduction of ticks and Lyme disease crippling their lives, another about a young person finishing college with tens of thousands of college debt competing with those who had mommy & daddy pay for theirs. You know. The same sort of film that Hollywood won’t ever touch, even with a ten-foot barge pole, unless if featured robots, hot chicks, explosions and green screens.

      1. Olga

        Wow, thanks. Whoever said that commies could not be sensual…? And reminds me how not all was bleak in a society that was not ruled by money, money, money.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From the article:

      The CIA at its founding was largely run by Ivy Leaguers, would-be highbrows and intellectuals. It makes sense that they’d have been attracted to the ideas of men like Melvin Lasky, the consummate Cold Warrior who pushed for the founding of a magazine designed to bridge the gap between the West and the rest. According to a postwar memo by Lasky submitted to the U.S. Army, journals like Der Monat would serve “as a demonstration that behind the official representatives of American democracy lies a great and progressive culture, with a richness of achievements in the arts, in literature, in philosophy, in all the aspects of culture which unite the free traditions of Europe and America.

      Should do it again?

      That would be to demonstrate progressive culture, per the quote above.

      Would that be the CIA supporting open borders and free trade?

      If the CIA were to support Medicare-for-All artists tomorrow, do we reject it?

      1. knowbuddhau

        “… all the aspects of culture which unite the free traditions of Europe and America. And so, believing as they did in Amerca’s exceptional role in world history, it was only natural that they should weaponize culture, science, the arts, educational systems in general, as well as the media by which these weapons are proliferated and delivered to this day — everything under the sun, really, turning it all against anyone who stands between them and perpetual global dominance.

        And it’s high time we do it again. Evidence of failure is a failure of evidence. (Also NED’s doing it already. We’re so clever.) Amen.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          One way to show our exceptionally progressive culture would be for the CIA to support Basic Income Guarantee.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      Alas, the power machine is busily gearing up to ensure nothing like that appears to poison the minds of we weak-minded voters between now and November.

      As we might have gathered from the initial attack using PropOrNot, anything critical of the status quo, or that suggests the “booming economy” is a hideous myth, will be labeled “Russian propaganda for influencing the election” and eradicated.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Regarding Hollywood films, money talks.

      And I understand Beijing has had some say on Hollywood films for a while now.

    4. Unna

      No. The Russians will fund film art aimed at the Western masses depicting culturally wholesome Russian children helping the outcast child on a scouting trip and showing real action adventure situations for kids, both for boys and for girls. Or a Muslim family in Kazakhstan working through some life problem in the context of a traditional village cultural setting. Or the challenges of a young boy or girl learning ancient wisdom from a Siberian shaman. Or of war stories, by flash backs, told by an old “Night Witch” to her granddaughter demonstrating how culturally intact societies value women.

      The art will not directly attack, or even mention, culturally liberal Western “decadence”, but will show an alternative way. Exactly at the point when Westerners begin to hunger for some other way. This art will seek to shame the West as a decadent, demeaning, and dehumanizing civilization by implication without directly saying that. Just like the CIA did the same thing by funding abstract art implying that the Soviet Union was culturally backwards because of it’s decrepit elites.

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      I haven’t read the detailed histories of Cold-War-Era CIA-funding of the Arts. But I believe what the CIA funded was all kinds of reasonably interesting artists in various fields in order to get more interesting art produced and exposed and displayed in the world. The goal was to display American culture as being more vital, alive and interesting than Soviet Socialist culture. And it did get a lot of interesting Arts and Letters and even some Music produced, did it not?

      So a new CIA mass fundathon of artists and their art could be a kind of WPA-for-the-Arts for our time, as long as it was not trying to fund the artists to advance a particular propaganda line.

      But if “Communism” is supposed to mean “Russia”, someone is being very hard-of-thinking to confuse the Easter Orthodox Christianity-friendly nationalist Russia of today with “Communism”.

  3. Eudora Welty

    Really disturbing but conversational video about how China has purchased the main pork-processing plants in USA, and how that means the USA supply of Heparin (widely used in IV lines in hospitals) now is totally under the control of China. Some of this has been discussed at NC, but the dots are connected in a way that is frankly scary.

    1. HotFlash

      Was talking about this sort of thing — China conquering the world by luring production to it’s territory and by purchase — with a young man who was based in Taiwan for several years. We wondered if the saber-rattling US President understood what a choke-point is. Perhaps China has an industrial-industrial complex, whereas the US has a military-industrial complex, and it shows?

      1. Synoia

        Chain does not practice the “free hand of the market,” aka “Random Walk”. It believes in the managed hand of the ruling Uni-party.

        China also understand “rise and fall” as a evolutionary cycle. I suspect they study their history quite closely.

        1. JTMcPhee

          In America? One can hope — but then one looks at certain other nationalizations in places that start where the Empire sort of is, and thinks about where power and wealth are placed, and then what happens to certain ‘nationalized ‘ (sort of) items like Amtrak, and one might be forgiven for a bit of despair that ANYTHING can lead to a better manifestation of bigness and political economy that works toward “ the general welfare…”

    2. Oregoncharles

      Let’s keep in mind that foreign-owned property in the US is, de facto, hostage. Chinese-owned plants are unlikely to refuse to sell heparin in the US, because making money is the purpose. If they did, it would be in the context of virtual or actual war, and the US would simply seize the plants and their production.

      The real problem with foreign ownership is subtler: first, the profits go overseas; second, they are run for the benefit of (say) Chinese interests. So, eg, American stakeholders like employees are largely ignored. Of course, this doesn’t seem very different from American ownership.

  4. sleepy

    A false flag attack looming again in Syria?

    AFP news agency
    ‏Verified account @AFP
    Aug 22

    #UPDATE US National Security Adviser John Bolton says Washington would respond “very strongly” if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad uses chemical weapons in an offensive to retake Idlib province

  5. Baby Gerald

    It was uncomfortable for me to learn that the CIA was funding abstract expressionist artists during the 50s and 60s in stories like this from The Independent, 23 years ago: Modern art was CIA ‘weapon’. Being a fan of art in general and modern art in particular, this cozy relationship with the spooks at Langley makes one re-evaluate one’s perception of the artists mentioned. Were de Kooning, Pollack, Rothko and others simply tools of right-wing anti-soviet efforts? How much did they know about where this funding came from?

    I’d prefer to think that in this case it was the artists who were taking the CIA for a ride. Using government funds for art is generally a good thing and as far as I can tell, those artists weren’t doing ‘rah-rah USA!’ anti-soviet propaganda, they were still pushing the envelope of modern art in vibrant new directions guided by their unique individual visions. And if the CIA kept Pollock or Rothko alive a few extra years by paying them to paint ‘politically neutral’ art, then kudos to them, I suppose. Anyway, my personal take-away from this knowledge of spook/artist collaboration had evolved into a general kind of discomfort with just how far the tentacles of the CIA’s stretched. Readers of that Independent article might presume, as I did, that this relationship had ended. We might also presume that by writing about it, these articles would make it harder to do such efforts in the future.

    Now the Bezos Daily Shopper comes along and quite literally requests that the CIA do the same thing again, using the good old us vs. them anti-communism theme in the title of the article to help explain to its readers why this is a good idea. I suppose this should really come as no surprise in this current climate. With staff notables like Eugene Robinson quite literally calling for a deep state coup d’etat, it actually kind of makes sense that the Agency’s own newspaper can look at CIA-funded art as a good thing that needs to be revived. ‘Democracy dies in darkness’ isn’t an advertising slogan, it’s a mission statement.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Not much interested in art, myself, just personal blindness I suppose, but lots of interest in the extent to which a few people, with what I would consider an evil mission in mind, perverted and suborned all the elements of public discourse in most of the world to serve their ends. There’s of course “the (alleged) Operation Mockingbird,”, which the CIA is happy to acknowledge as one of its successes. Part of the “cultural Cold War” described here, a full-court press by the Dulles Boys and their faction to “make the world safe for their brand of looting:” “The CIA and the Cultural Cold War,”

      I personally have no doubt that the big long-term efforts to completely suborn and subordinate all potential mechanisms of behavioral and perception control are well under way. One gets so suspicious of the interpenetration by the Blob that one might come to think that even the toleration of sites like NC (which are very vulnerable to being cut off) results from an understanding that widespread revelation and discussion, in serial bits, of the real nature of power and wealth leads, too often, to a disabling sense of futility, a belief that there is NOTHING to be done. Another day, down in the links and hanging out at the water cooler, and another set of evidence of how crapified and adulterated and spoiled everything is, and how massive and unlikely to occur are the efforts it would take to define a better path and force the world onto it.

      Couple that with the congenital weakness of decent people when it comes to perceiving and employing the levers of power, and what do “we” get? What we got, I would maintain.

      We all have personal standards of proof and individual levels of willingness to presume innocence until guilt is proven, and there are many people who actually do troll very subtly for the Blob and its elements, in netspace and e.g., as agents provocateur and Quislings and snitches within any bit of the polity that seems to be gathering steam toward some effectuation of “general welfare-driven policy.”

      So it is so hard to come to any kind of consensus as to just how deeply (if at all, of course) we mopes are enmeshed in a Matrix. Or to come to any kind of wide awareness of just what it is that the Blob (if there is such a thing, whatever it might be) is intending to accomplish, and acknowledgement even of the existence of means and motives. So many possibilities, so much data, such reams of speculation and plausible deniability and limited hangouts to work through, each one of us that cares to devote any thought or concern to it doing the same slogging through the dross, individually and not collectively, looking for unimpeachable nuggets of truth and solid anchors from which to hang our convictions…

      And always there are the secret agents of whatever the Big Thing (or things) most of us sense is out there, doing skulduggery and fostering Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt to keep us weak or simply crushing ‘dissent” and “insurgency”outright (e.g., Occupy via Fusion Centers), and with all that, many mopes are still unwilling to believe that there is (or even might be) such a thing that is actually acting as our retail perceptions tell us it is doing.

      And in the meantime, most of us have to struggle just to feed and house and clothe ourselves, with little opportunity to even do much truth-seeking among the ruins… It’s like sifting through the ruins of a Syrian city, looking to fins out whether one of the players actually used chemical weapons, and which one(s) and which kind, and where on the time line, and how did this place that used to be gardens and domiciles and little shops and clean streets come to be nothing but rubble puctuated by the dead ribs of steel re-bar and little dark smears where people once stood or sat, before the explosions of all those profit-generating “munitions…”

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        “…One gets so suspicious of the interpenetration by the Blob that one might come to think that even the toleration of sites like NC (which are very vulnerable to being cut off) results from an understanding that widespread revelation and discussion, in serial bits, of the real nature of power and wealth leads, too often, to a disabling sense of futility, a belief that there is NOTHING to be done….”

        I’ve often wondered much the same, but (as I hope most people already know) their tactics often bear a completely different ‘fruit’ then what they initially intended….blowback is not just something that happens to the CIA in Afghanistan:

        And, to go just slightly into the silly of modern entertainment media…I nevertheless love the spirit of Daario’s quote – reminds us that no matter what anyone in authority orders us to do – directly or indirectly – a Free Human can always make the choice to remain Free….

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          Generating a sense of futility only works on people who have the same educational background as those seeking to generate it. It’s the fatal flaw in the whole scheme if we who do that can step out of the current long enough to get a grip. Indeed, the loss of education in the humanities in favor of “career preparation” may be the crowbar that breaks down the wall, in that younger generations have been taught to be “pragmatic” instead of contemplative. So, when they find themselves burdened with lifelong debt, it just ticks them off. That needs to be encourage.

          And let us never forget that the Paris Review, home of that favorite of middle-class African Americans Ta-Nahisi Coates, was literally created by the CIA. Although it is allegedly no longer in their service, I don’t see that happening as long as it’s useful.

        1. LifelongLib

          Based on a quick read, it looks like the journalists and publishers the CIA recruited were already pretty much in agreement with what the CIA wanted them to say. So were they taking money just to write what they would have written anyway? It doesn’t excuse the CIA’s meddling but makes me wonder if it made an actual difference…

    2. Synoia

      It was uncomfortable for me to learn that the CIA was funding abstract expressionist artists during the 50s and 60s

      I’m more amused. To me it indicates the reality of the clarity of their thought and planning.

        1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

          The CIA are bedfellows of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers? (What would Norbert the Nark say about that?)

          Just goes to show that the real revolutionaries are generals in the military.

          I’ve just read ‘Blitzed – Drugs in Nazi Germany’ and learned that along with Wernher Von Brown one of the Nazis top experimenters was co-opted by the US after WW2 in the person of Prof. Hubertus Strughold who was a big wheel in Riech’s military-medical institutions.

          An obvious natural fit for Chemicals In America.

          Pip-Pip, (or should that be Pop-Pop?)

    3. ambrit

      I’m in the middle of reading Albarelli Jr’s “A Terrible Mistake” about the CIA’s ‘experiments’ with LSD and other psychotropics, on an unsuspecting American public.
      There is nothing, it seems, that the Shadow Government won’t try.
      As for the American abstract expressionists, well, my favourite take on it is Louis Nye as ‘artiste’ Stanislas in “The Wheeler Dealers” 1963 version.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think it shows that people who are progressives can be patriots, and people who appear progressive can be patriotic.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Say what?

          And how about definitions of “patriots” and “patriotic”? The Dulleses, and Dickless Cheney, and people like Curtis LeMay, probably think both terms apply to them.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            We could define them, and interpretations would still vary.

            With open, lingering voids like these, the best we can do is to stay alert and watch.

        2. ambrit

          I don’t think that the State’s support of the artists was explicit. Most artists I have met seem to like to think of themselves as iconoclasts.
          The most sincere form of Patriotism is to dare to try and reform your country.
          A good mantra for sitting meditation is: “We hold these truths.”
          (WaPo is now behind a paywall. I have therefor to infer it’s scrivener’s intentions. Past performance is not a guide.)

    4. Lee

      Did you check out the comments. Those I read caused me to suspect a bunch of the NC commentariat were the first responders.

      This was just the first of many in a similar vein.

      Apparently the CIA used to be comprised mainly of idealistic frat boys who operated with very little oversight and a virtually unlimited supply of tax dollars. The predictable results included countless thousands dead and wounded. (Southeast Asian War; Latin American dictators and death squads; the list is endless — and oddly unmentioned in today’s corporate media.)

      Instead of begging the Deep State for money for dubious film projects, we should be demanding that our huge military-industrial complex scrap many of our still-out-of-control intel agencies and return most intel functions to the Pentagon, where people can still be fired if they screw up.

    5. Harold

      They were funding the art critics, not the artists. Now they are calling for a more centralized and vicious war against dissent of any kind.

      1. JTMcPhee

        From what I’ve read about the CIA and the cultural Cold War (see the link I posted, and the book that it reviews,) the CIA paid artists, art and literature critics, writers, sculptors, movie directors and writers, poets, pretty much every bit of “culture,” all corrupted, debased, suborned. All to “defeat the dirty Commies?” Well, that’s one “patriotic” way to read what they did. And are doing.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Some people ‘believe’ they are patriots by acting one way.

          Some others ‘believe’ they are patriotic by acting another way.

          Still, not a few don’t want patriotism at all.

        2. Harold

          In 1948 Hans Eisler, the “Schubert” of 20th c. Music, was deported as a Communist. Bela Bartok was evicted from his apt on a stretcher while dying of leukemia, having been fired as a tease archer at Columbia. The CIA was afraid the Europeans would think we were Philestines, so they decided to fund “high” art. They knew congress never would. But they mostly funded “intellectuals” to police the boundaries and publicize the acceptable.

    6. Jeremy Grimm

      I was struck by one of the comments to “Modern Art was a CIA Weapon” — the piece you linked to: urthpainter
      “… has America been its best with a defined enemy and proactive goals in both secret and overt wars?” …
      “i’d like to believe the United States government could promote creativity, personal freedoms, and productive economic growth without conflict and a clear ideological enemy in some other part of the world.”

      1. The Rev Kev

        It was not only art and the media that the CIA were twisting to their ends. I recall that Robert Heinlein and other Sci Fi writers were once in a meeting where the guy from the ‘government’ was trying to get the writers to take a more pro-active stance in their writings against Soviet Russia at the time. This makes me wonder about Heinlein’s 1980 novel ‘The Number of the Beast’ if that may have been a result of this meeting.

      2. skippy

        I think its interesting to remember SAS got its start as the Artists Rifles.

        The regiment was established in 1859, part of the widespread volunteer movement which developed in the face of potential French invasion after Felice Orsini’s attack on Napoleon III was linked to Britain.[3] The group was organised in London by Edward Sterling, an art student, and comprised various professional painters, musicians, actors, architects and others involved in creative endeavours; a profile it strove to maintain for some years. It was established on 28 February 1860 as the 38th Middlesex (Artists’) Rifle Volunteer Corps, with headquarters at Burlington House.[1] Its first commanders were the painters Henry Wyndham Phillips and Frederic Leighton.

  6. JTMcPhee

    On the Australian mini-coup PM swap, this from the comments on the Grauniad coverage:

    I work in organisation behaviour and the LNP is in more trouble than the most dysfunctional corporate group I’ve ever seen.

    There’s no common goals, ruthless values, external threats from the alt-right media, and deeply toxic team “mates” who nobody is willing to take on. To make matters worse, they only people they can attract into the organisation are not normal and won’t be able to turn things around.

    My professional opinion is the LNP organisation is completely fucked. They’d need absolute discipline and mass cleanout of toxic people to be competitive ten years from now.

    Seems to be an observation of much more universal application in the “Native-English-speaking world.” Not clear that there’s 10 years left to do a clean sweepout, even if the energies and “political will” existed to make the attempt. “Evil behavior is its own reward,” especially when connected to the Spoils System…

    Interesting that the Grauniaders have left comments open, and I just checked the stats, over 9,400 comments of all sorts. There’s a lot of mean-spirited people out there… and some good ones (by my lights) too…

    1. skippy

      I concur with the observation and that ideological environmental factors, not unlike fruit fly experiments, are at the tail end of the series.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Betsy DeVos Eyes Federal Education Grants to Put Guns in Schools”

    I see that the Headquarters of the United States Department of Education where Betsy DeVos works is in Washington, DC. Maybe as an example to the country she could allow the employees there to open carry throughout the whole building. Institute bring-your-assault-rifle-to-work days. Have a gun issued to each office. By showing how this creates such a great, safe work environment, it would be an inspiration to the country. Then she would have no problem introducing guns to all the schools.

      1. GF

        Does anyone know if the charter schools affiliated with the DeVos “family” allow teachers to come armed to classes?

  8. zagonostra

    Democrats in Disarry: Reuters.

    “..the idea of expanding Medicare has won wide support among Democratic voters – and even many Republicans”

    Yes, we know that the vast majority of people want Medicare-for-all but when you have a corporate controlled media such ass CNN you get propaganda like the recent piece by Jack Tapper which makes it hard to build sustained momentum. See Jimmy Dore’s take-down of this lying sack of ___below.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Unless all that propaganda money was waste, and it is not*, we have to assume the numbers supporting Medicare-for-All would be a lot higher, and more reflective of the reality on the ground.

      *This is not to insult those who have been brainwashed successful. They are victims.

  9. Eclair

    I admit I have been avoiding news about Africa; it’s just too much too deal with. But the Black Agenda Report article about the arrest and torture of popular musician, and now elected member of Uganda’s parliament, Bobi Wine, drew me in.

    And, watching his powerful music videos makes one realize just how dangerous to the Ugandan government (and to USA ‘interests’) this talented and charismatic man is.

    1. Oleg

      The Strategic Culture Foundation Yuri Profokiev’s Moscow think-tank, but try finding that fact among its English language material. But isn’t that why we’re all here?

      1. Baby Gerald

        So I guess we can thank the Ron Paul Institute for undermining their evil neo-Communist intent? Because if you actually went to the link, you might see that Strategic Culture Foundation’s website posted the RPI video with nothing accompanying it but the caption: ‘Does the US empire have a strategy? Why does the US go from blunder to disastrous blunder in the Middle East and Near Asia? Is there an objective? Col. Lawrence Wilkerson delivers the first speech at the Ron Paul Institute’s 2018 Washington conference.’

        Pretty devious.

        But I guess this is what 11th dimensional checkers must look like, right?

  10. DJG

    The Russian electric car. Here is a link from La Stampa with more details and a groovy video.

    As La Stampa points out, Kalashnikov is 200 years old. Supposedly, the design is deliberately reminiscent of a model of car of the Soviet 1970s called a Kombi. The design isn’t as sleek as what Americans are used to, but I suspect that Russian road conditions are slightly more rugged. (Given the state of U.S. roadways, maybe not.) Also, the snowfalls in Russia mean that the car shouldn’t be too low slung. I saw a Tesla parked outside a house near me a couple of days ago, and I do have to wonder what it will do when the sidestreets are covered with snow and slush.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Considering 95 plus percent of the cars on US roads these days all look alike, I suspect the Kalash could do well here if for no other reason than it has a unique appearance.

        1. Earl Erland

          Nice article. I still recall an ad circa 1989 published in one of those free Auto Trader type magazines: Yugo. Buy 1, get 1 free.

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        As long as I could lose those ridiculous white rims, put a modest lift kit on it for some beefed up suspension (although I suspect, being Russian, the suspension is probably already beefy) and some more aggressive tread…combined with a good flat olive-drab/camo paint job, I would buy one.

        Would have to sport some hammer & sickle decals, maybe an IWW wildcat sticker, as well as my ‘Hillary 2020’ bumper sticker, natch.

        Not sure yet where the gun rack w/my Arsenal AK-47 EBR would go. That might be a deal breaker.

        1. Craig H.

          It was fun searching for a cruiser trabant.


          The yugo article has a bit about a 1960’s subaru with a 40 hp motor that did 0-60 in 35 seconds.

          1. JacobiteInTraining

            Heh, what a cutie. Whenever the next Cars movie is scheduled, that car is a shoe-in for the ‘misunderstood KGB spy with a heart of gold’ role.. :)

        2. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

          No RPG launcher? No Novichok? What a wimp!


          nb My father bought (and drove) an example of the evil spawn of the Fiat 124 (It was totalled when it was rear-ended). I hold my head in shame.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I think the design looks great – I assume its meant for design conscious retro look – like the VW beetle or the Mini or the Diahatsu Copen. If its a half decent car, then I could see it getting cult status (like owning a Trabant).

      Mind you, the Russians don’t exactly have a great track record when it comes to designing and manufacturing cars, so I wouldn’t hold out too much hope.

    3. Kurt Sperry

      The Russians need to revive the Russo-Italian alliance for making autos. That thing’s “styling” is ill-proportioned in a way the Italians would find impossible to do. Call Pininfarina in to make it sexxxy, then call the result the “Mitra”.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Other than vodka and Kaspersky, I don’t recall, immediately, any Russian consumer products that are sold widely here.

      1. Olga

        Wonderful linens at William Sonoma… but yes, they do not export much, although they make most of the consumer stuff internally.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Other itemsfrom a Quora article:

          What are the best products to buy from Russia?
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          It does depend on WHERE in Russia you are going, because there are so many different things depending on the region. But to give you a general idea (although may vary from region to region):

          – Russian shawls Павловопосадские платки ” russian shawls, scarves and kerchiefs

          – Khokhloma Art Khokhloma

          – Wooden and clay art

          – Glass figures Glass Figurines – Glass Animals – Glass Miniatures – Glass Birds

          – Fur coats (especially mink ones)

          – Woolen clothes

          – Dried pharmaceutical herbs

          – Caviar

          – Natural Honey from Farm Markets

          – During summer: local apples, pears, grapes…

  11. Eclair

    Re: ‘Algo Hermoso. NY Nail Salon Workers Join Fight for a Fair Wage.

    A few weeks ago I visited my daughter, who lives in a very nice NJ suburb, filled with well-off people who commute into NYC. We went for a mother-daughter pedicure/manicure on Sunday morning. I don’t do this ordinarily, as my nail polish wears off after a day of mucking about in garden soil and chicken poop, floor refinishing, paint washing and pot scrubbing.

    I found myself perched high in a comfy chair, one of a row of such, all filled with other middle class (or higher) white women, with my feet in a basin of warm water. Crouched at my feet was a small, brown woman, with the beautiful facial profile found on Mayan friezes. Her English was pretty non-existent and she had to rely on her work colleagues to translate. My mind had a ‘what’s wrong with this picture,’ moment and I had to restrain myself from hopping up and running from the salon, bare feet and all.

    I paid and my daughter left the tips. Bless her heart, she does tip well.

    1. RUKidding

      In my neck of the woods, most of the mani/pedi workers are from SE Asia, usually Viet Nam.

      I get pedi’s bc it’s hard to do it well, myself (an Aussie pal thinks I’m nuts to pay for this service, but I find it helpful). I always tip well. I think the salon owners do ok. Not so sure about the workers.

      1. Synoia

        The “workers” are generally independent contractors who rent stations. They all have a very interesting approach to Taxes.

        1. makedoanmend

          They’re still workers and without benefits that some workers get through their jobs likes pensions and health coverage. Contractor can often be a fancy name for gig worker without the fancy app. attached.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      The robin’s-egg blue car appears to be lowered, and rides on striking white wheels, and all extraneous chrome and trim has been removed, leaving a sleek restomod-looking vehicle.

      I kind of love it.

      If there’s a better combination than retro styling and robin’s egg blue, I haven’t seen it.

      The sinister look of the newer vehicles these days reminds me of Minority Report.

      1. Carolinian

        The sinister look of the newer vehicles these days reminds me of Minority Report.

        Or old Dick Tracy comics. Some of us are now wearing wrist TVs as well.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Scott Morrison beats Peter Dutton in Liberal spill to succeed Malcolm Turnbull; Julie Bishop loses deputy position” – ABC Australia

    You have to feel sorry for Malcolm Turnbull, the now ex-Prime Minister. His previous experience was mostly to do with cut-throat lawyering, running an investment banking firm, being a managing director of Goldman Sachs, clear-felling timber in the Solomon Islands – all of which shaped his mores and ethics. Jumping into Australian politics for him was simply like a lamb to the slaughter.

      1. ChristopherJ

        Baaaa RUK, you are confusing us with New Zealanders

        Kev, feeling sorry for Malcolm? I thinks you are being sarcy

        I feel sorry for us, but it is fun watching them behave badly

  13. Charles Leseau

    From the conclusion: “Our results show that the safest level of drinking is none.”

    Instantly reminded me of founding father Benjamin Rush’s weird Moral and Physical Thermometer of 1790, of which I have a tattered Colonial Williamsburg copy from the 1970s hanging on my fridge. Rush did, though, allow for small amounts of beer, wine, and cider when taken “in small quantities.”

  14. Jason Boxman

    “We have a Democratic party that’s lurching far to the left,” said Representative Steve Stivers, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

    If the opposition is offering advice about your approach, do the opposite. So naturally the Democrat party establishment is in complete agreement about the left. Pelosi’s recent remark that Medicare for All ain’t gonna happen is just more evidence establishment Democrats are useless and morally bankrupt. (Not that more is necessary.)

    1. Expat

      Democrats should either play the Republicans’s game and win or try educating America and probably lose. With regards to healthcare, either explain to voters that the existing system is corrupt, expensive and inferior to most other systems. Or hammer at them that the Republicans are using healthcare to impoverish them, enslave them with debt and make themselves multi-millionaires and that the whole “socialized healthcare” is the evil work of commie dictators is a lie put out to get votes from ignorant voters.

      But the big problem seems to be that very few Americans on the left or right want socialized healthcare. America is still stuck in the Cold War and thinks that anything like it is communist. Americans appear to be their own worst enemies (hat tip to Pogo).

    2. a different chris

      On that note, a couple of “ohhh, we are so scared about losing suburban votes, especially women” quotes from the Rethugs. They are still pretty sure that the D party

      a) wants socially liberal but fiscally conservative Republicans, aka wealthy east coasters rather than those grubby worker class
      b) doesn’t understand the Electoral college

      And I’m not saying they are wrong.

  15. In the Land of Farmers

    As far as the study saying that a zero level of alchohol is the only healthy amount, I wonder what my grandfather would say. He drank vodka everyday and died without ever having any disease, at age 98.

    My idea why it causes cancer in some and longevity in others is because of its effect on MAO enzyme function. MAO enzymes create H202, one type of oxidative stress.

    But it’s just another useless, generalizing study that may or may not mean you should abstain, so whatever.

    1. a different chris

      My wife’s family are/were all heavy drinkers – a surprising number fall under the “are” category – and they live like forever. Highly functional into their 90s.

      My family has a very distinct split between near-alcoholics* and near-teeotalers. You are generally one or the other. And we all are hard-pressed to see our early 70s.

      I think we are so far off from understanding human physiology at this point it is just embarrassing.

      *actually as I am looking back 3 generations, probably actual alcoholics but not diagnosed, let alone treated.

    2. Lee

      I believe it was Oscar Wilde who observed that one should not necessarily do unto others as one who have them do unto you because tastes differ. So it would seem do our genetically determined physical requirements and susceptibilities.

      1. Lee

        I have long lived drinkers on the maternal side and short lived drinkers on the paternal. I’m hedging by bet. I drank heavily for a period of my life and subsequently gave up drinking altogether a dozen years ago. When I get the result of my experiment, I’ll let you know.

    3. DJG

      I think that the Greeks put it best. From a little page at The New Republic (when TNR isn’t foaming at the mouth in is conserva-Dem way):

      In the Greek play Semele or Dionysus, written around 375 BC, the god of wine delivers this speech.

      I mix three drinks for the temperate:
      One for health, which they empty first,
      The second for love and pleasure,
      The third for sleep.
      When these cups are emptied, the wise go home.
      The fourth drink is ours no longer, but belongs to violence,
      The fifth to uproar,
      The sixth to drunken revelry,
      The seventh to black eyes,
      The eighth to the police,
      The ninth to anger,
      And the tenth to madness and the hurling of furniture.

      1. ambrit

        Oh wise Greeks! They thought that people who did not water down their wine were barbarians. Well, we are!

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          The fourth drink is ours no longer, but belongs to violence,

          Evidently they didn’t water it down much!

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        The playwright put these words in the god’s mouth but that speech does not seem befitting of Dionysus.

    4. Roger Bigod

      There’s a high level of ignorance on the history, with consequences for policy that we still endure.

      The huge amount of alcohol consumption before the late 19th Cent. was because of the contaminated water supply. This was because of bacterial intestinal diseases like cholera and typhoid. Examples: the huge death rate for immigrants into the American colonies, particularly the Southern ones, highest among indentured servants and slaves. London was a net population sink before they cleaned up the water supply, so the monarchs lived away in places like Windsor Castle. The beginning of modern epidemiology is the demonstration (in 1854) that a public pump in London spread cholera. Removing the pump handle stopped the epidemic. Cleaning up the water supply gave an big boost to the prestige of public health and the medical profession generally. Most of the increase in life expectancy in the late 19th century was due to this, although MDs were happy to take credit.

      In the Southern colonies people avoided local water and drank huge quantities of beer and wine, later distilled spirits. One estimate is that the higher classes spent most of their days mildly drunk. There’s an amusing scene in William Byrd II’s memoirs where he visits an estate of one of the Randolphs and notes primly that the hostess had carelessly run out of wine, forcing him to drink the local water.

      The clear success of public health efforts fueled the do-gooder movements of the late 19th Cent.,
      resulting in institutions like the FDA. And Prohibition.

      1. ewmayer

        “The clear success of public health efforts fueled the do-gooder movements of the late 19th Cent.,
        resulting in institutions like the FDA. And Prohibition.”

        And polio outbreaks, as societies lost their maternal-antibodies-convyed herd immunity due to the rise of sanitary water supplies.

        1. Roger Bigod

          Maternal antibodies only hang around a few months, so that would only change the situation in early infancy.

          The huge improvement in life expectancy in the late 19th Century is usually attributed to cleaning up the water supply, and later food. Medical advances weren’t so important. The educator Abraham Flexner estimated that only around 1900 did the average patient with an average disease seeing an average physician have a better than 50% chance of benefit.

  16. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Two Challenges The Single-Payer Movement Must Address Shadowproof

    The best option for addressing out of control hospital and doctor prices when discussing single payer, IMNSHO:

    Tell people just how much they are being ripped off. This would take a real educational effort, but it is a message the public has not gotten before. It is a strategy that has not really been tried. Obviously, it would be high risk because it would ensure hospital opposition, but it would also be high reward. You can promise basically everyone not only total coverage with no deductibles but also thousands more in income or big sweeping new programs. The data is there. The concern about prices is there. People just need to be honest with the public about who bears a lot of the blame.

    The “healthcare” establishment cannot claim to deserve the highest, by far, and exponentially growing compensation on the planet when it can only manage the 37th best outcomes. It has no right to bankrupt the country with its entitled incompetence.

    It’s just that simple.

    1. heresy101

      Two ways of addressing these nonsensical objections and get people to buy into Medicare for All is:
      a) pay for it thru taxes (probably about 7% for ALL income levels) and then put a clause in the legislation that if companies (all sizes) pay for healthcare currently, they must increase the workers wages/salaries by the same amount. Corporations would pay the 7% in addition, but there would be an wage increase for workers to increase political support for Medicare for All.

      b) Payment to current doctors would match what they are currently making because they have paid all the costs of their education. For current/new students studying to become a doctor or nurse or other medical professional education would be free to the student and paid by government.

    2. Big River Bandido

      Tell people just how much they are being ripped off.

      Absolutely. That means explicitly drawing the connections between cost inflation and for-profit insurance. A strong political case might run something like this:

      “The annual cost of having, maintaining, and feeding the health insurance industry is $___ per year. And in fact, it’s a bigger number than that, because the existence of the for-profit insurance system adds multiple layers of indirect as well as direct costs to the price of health care.” [Insert list of examples and anecdotes about the failure of the American health care and private insurance systems.] So if you remove that parasite from the economy, the cost of health care will already be lowered by $___ per year.”

      And then of course, pivot to the notion that one doesn’t skimp on necessities. Congress never asked how they would pay for the bank bailout, or endless war. The people’s health is far more important. The way to push back against the media is to scold them for treating the physical, financial, and spiritual health of the American people with such gross callousness. And end there. We ought not delve into nuts and bolts of Clintonesque policy wonk nonsense. Keep the ideas broad, thematic, general — clear enough and simple enough in theory that explaining it is equally clear and simple. People will support a simple case for single-payer, and at the “elections” stage of the game, that’s all that’s needed. Once you start getting into the weeds of how you actually craft the law, the idea will die the death of a thousand paper cuts.

  17. Kint Sugi

    Lambert, It would be interesting to get NC views on Kerala and the recent devastating floods. In Kerala you have a Marxist head of state vs a Neoliberal populist Hindutva central government.

    I am not an expert on the topic but see it touching some of the most important issues in our century; water rights, the Neoliberal epidemic and climate change.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Former AG Mukasey: there’s ‘not really’ an election law problem with Cohen PBS. Mukasey denied that waterboarding is torture, so he’s in good company with Brennan, et al. That said, he makes this argument: “The election law says that a payment for the purpose of affecting an election has to be reported and is limited for a person other than the candidate to $2,700 and a little bit. It’s the purpose. If there is a dual purpose, including protecting his reputation, then it’s not considered a campaign contribution. [I]f you make a contribution that serves a dual purpose, then it is not, I believe, covered by the statute. And that statute is read narrowly.”

    If Sanders had paid for many haircuts to ‘enhance his reputation of good health,’ would that have had to be reported?

    If Sanders had paid for a health club membership to, again, ‘enhance his health reputation,’ would he have had to report that?

    When Hillary bought a big coat to cover herself in, and some expensive sunglasses, and to make her look health, to, ‘protect,’ here not to enhance, her ‘health reputation,’ was she required to report that, since that would influence the election?

    1. Beniamino

      Yeah, the proposition that a political candidate’s out-of-pocket expenditures with respect to their own private affairs (e.g., proactively settling disputes to avoid bad press prior to a presidential run, getting haircuts or liposuction to try to look presentable) should be deemed to constitute political donations to his or herself is nuts. I get that the “Justice Department” can be very creative when it wants to be but it would behoove the corporate press, methinks, to spell out exactly how, by reference to the operative statutes, the Stormy Daniels pay-off is supposed to constitute a campaign finance violation rather than just baldly asserting this to be the case.

  19. Wukchumni

    Warning lights are flashing down at the man in control
    Manafort got convicted and they’ll throw him in the hole
    There’s rumors in Humordor and anger in the town
    Somebody blew the whistle and then twitter denials came down
    There’s a meeting in the oval office, they’re trying to trace the smell
    There’s leaking in the east wing, there’s a sneak in personnel
    Somewhere in the corridors someone was heard to sneeze
    ‘goodness me could this be Neoliberal Disease?

    The previous caretaker was glorified for sleeping at his post
    They’re refusing to be pacified it’s him they praise the most
    The white elephants got rabies the donkey show got fleas
    And everyone’s concerned about Neoliberal Disease
    There’s panic on the internet, tongues are tied in knots
    Some come out in sympathy some come out in spots
    Some blame social media some the ill ease
    And everybody knows it’s the Neoliberal Disease

    The work force is disgusted, wages not so hot
    Manufacturing expertise & experience China stalks
    Everyone could care less and everyone agrees
    That these are ‘classic symptoms of a apathy squeeze’
    On CNN and FOX they talk about whose worse
    Philosophy is useless theology is a curse
    Society boils over there’s an manners freeze

    If you’re reading this
    I’m not surprised to see you here
    You’ve got liberal views from thinking
    Conservative views from propaganda fear
    I don’t know how you came to get the 24/7 needs
    But worst of all America you’ve got Neoliberal Disease’

  20. BoyDownTheLane

    “The CIA funded a culture war against communism.”

    How can the CIA fund a war against communism when it was founded by them?

    Read: Melanson’s “Perfectibilists”; “Fleshing Out Skull and Bones” ed. by Kris Millegan (a progressive in the Pacific NW); any number of books on James Jesus Angleton; et al.

    Melanson charts the Marxist roots of Weishaupt’s group; Millegan (citing Sutton) shows how Wall Street funded the Bolsheviks and the US armed the Soviet empire.

    Read especially the appendix that details the members of Skull & Bones and the career track each of the groups of 15 took after having been tapped.

    1. Synoia

      How can the CIA fund a war against communism when it was founded by them?

      I believe that comes under the heading of “know thy enemy”


      “Keep your friends close
      Keep you enemies closer”

    2. Big River Bandido

      “The CIA funded a culture war against communism”…

      …by supporting the artistic movement that embodied the early USSR.

  21. Stupendous Man - Defender of Liberty, Foe of Tyranny

    The “Prison Strike” piece link via The Intercept …

    No reasonable, and complete, discussion on prison conditions can occur without also including discussion on the dysfunctions in our courts, or in other words how/why do people end up in prison. I truly wish it were as simple, and/or accurate, as “Only the guilty are in prison” but that is far from the truth.

    Propublica ran a series in 2016 titled “Busted” that discussed the use of drug field tests used by police forces across the country that have long been known to produce false positive results.

    I took the numbers in the piece and extended them nationally and came up with a possible 870,000 guilty pleas annually when no controlled substances whatsoever were present. Admittedly I’m better with words than I am numbers (and even with that I find myself removing my feet from my mouth more often than I’d like). Others are welcome to check my math and offer correction.

    We’ve come oh so very far from Blackstone’s formulation: “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.”

    John Adams expounded upon this formulation further: “It is more important that innocence should be protected, than it is, that guilt be punished; for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world, that all of them cannot be punished…. when innocence itself, is brought to the bar and condemned, especially to die, the subject will exclaim, ‘it is immaterial to me whether I behave well or ill, for virtue itself is no security.’ And if such a sentiment as this were to take hold in the mind of the subject that would be the end of all security whatsoever.”

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Why not suppose “Only the guilty are in prison.” Consider their case:
      Our laws and penalties have so grown and multiplied that you might find it hard not to be guilty of something and face long sentences when all your “offenses” were tallied. Remember “Never talk to the police.” That’s not idle advice. Consider those who are guilty and actually committed some “serious” crime and ask what purpose their incarceration serves. Is it punishment or rehabilitation, or intended to serve some other purpose? Was rape and beating while in prison part of that intended purpose? What about the financial weights placed on families? Just who are those being punished? What about their permanent exclusion from meaningful and gainful employment and loss of the right to vote? And ignoring all these little effects and side effects — what did our prison system accomplish assuming some kind of accomplishment were intended? Suppose prison took an angry violent felon out of society for punishment and/or rehabilitation just what sort of person comes out the door to rejoin society? Do we get our money’s worth paying for prisons? When prosecutors can force plea bargains by pilling penalty on top of penalty all with unreasonably long sentences at law does our legal system even pretend to serve “Justice”? With laws like the Patriot Act what kind of law can the legal system claim to serve? What of a society where victims of violence are sometimes more afraid of police than the criminal? Why concern yourself with the innocent in prison when we have enough laws and long enough sentences that everyone must be guilty of something they could be legally punished for even if they aren’t guilty of the crime they’re sentenced for?

    2. witters

      The first explicit statement of the inverse principle to Blackstone’s I can find is from Sergei Kovalev’s letter of resignation as chairman of the President’s Human Rights commission in the Russian Federation, (“A Letter of Resignation”, The New York Review, February 29, 1996, p. 29) who there wrote that the ‘utter contempt for human life’ exhibited in President Yeltsin’s approach to the problems in Chechnya, flows naturally from his ‘openly professed … principle: “Let the innocent suffer as long as the guilty are punished’.”

      If you know of any other and/or earlier such examples, I would be very grateful.

  22. Jean

    How about all Pentagon budgets being financed by bonds that pay interest to National Health Care?
    i.e. Privatize the financing of the militart.

    That is divert the Pentagon budget to Health Care which sells the bonds on the open market and keeps the interest to fund its medical operations.

  23. Paid Minion

    Questions I just gotta ask…..

    Any guesses on how many 1%ers would end up in the slammer, if they ALL got the same level of criminal financial scrutiny as Trump?

    Iowa college student murder……..the current narrative is “Its not an immigrant problem, it’s a “man” problem.”

    Okay……… If that’s the case, isn’t the quickest way to fix the “man problem” is banning male immigrants, especially between the ages of 16 and 35.

    For the squeamish, start with the undocumented, and expand the program if it works.

    1. Synoia

      Maybe the Muslims are correct, and all women should wear burkas when outdoors to eliminate temptation?

      It’s not so far in our past the the Church has similar views about modesty. /s

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Looking at history, it seems it has always been a ‘man’ problem all too often.

      And thinking about the future, it doesn’t look like it will go away…even in galaxies far, far away.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      Any guesses on how many 1%ers would end up in the slammer, if they ALL got the same level of criminal financial scrutiny as Trump?

      ALL of ’em. It’s why the Cayman Islands and “charitable” foundations were invented.

      Trump has been very high profile in new york for decades. He’s never operated in the shadows. He’s been the playboy who let’s you know he’s coming long before he gets there so you can get out of the way–unless you’re looking to score some quick cash. His taxes have been routinely audited and he’s been granted gaming licenses. “Notables” have attended his weddings, solicited campaign contributions and cashed the checks he wrote without a second thought.

      His single, unforgivable crime was beating the political system and embarrassing the long-timers who thought they had the whole thing under control.

      As for financial scrutiny, can you imagine what kind of “crimes” the public would “infer” should they ever be treated to an in-depth tutorial on private equity and the tax-advantaged “profits” it generates destroying iconic companies and the tens of thousands of jobs these companies once provided?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        One thing I seem to recall from the 2016 campaign is that, at some time, he said something about he knew where all the bones are buried, regarding some rich or powerful people/families.

  24. Wukchumni

    Betsy DeVos Eyes Federal Education Grants to Put Guns in Schools NYT. Demented.

    She’s not a girl who misses much
    Do do do do do do, oh yeah

    She’s well acquainted with the touch of the trigger, wants guns inside school windowpanes

    The woman in the crowd and you wonder if her brother is in cahoots?

    Lying with her eyes while her associates are busy working overtime.

    A sad impression of a life, in which we place our national trust

    We need a fix ’cause students are being shot down
    Arm the teachers with AR 15’s and lots of rounds
    We need a fix ’cause kids are being shot down

    Secretary of Education wants the guns
    Secretary of Education wants the guns
    Secretary of Education wants the guns
    Secretary of Education wants the guns

    Happiness is a worn gun (bang bang shoot shoot)
    Happiness is a worn gun, mama (bang bang shoot shoot)
    When I hold you in my arms (oh, yeah)
    And I feel my finger on your trigger (oh, yeah)
    I know nobody can do me no harm (oh, yeah)
    Because, (happiness) is a worn gun, mama (bang bang shoot shoot)
    Happiness is a worn gun, yes it is (bang bang shoot shoot)

    Happiness is a worn, yes it is, gun
    Happiness (bang bang shoot shoot)

    Well don’t you know that happiness (happiness) is a worn gun, (is a worn gun, yeah).

  25. cuibono

    Re: Taxes and Provider Pay
    The author fails to point out that physician salaries account for only 20% of total health care spending.
    Suppose you trim salaries by 25%, you only save 5% overall.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s correct.

      In combination with cuts to the other, remaining 80%, that 5% will have more impact in reducing health care spending.

  26. anon

    Re: Facebook: the new Credit Reporting Agency? Credit Slips. Yikes.

    Thanks for keeping this issue alive, Lambert.

    The blatant arrogance of the whole Trustworthy Or Not [Not even any Grey Area Considered] — particularly after all the to do that Congress was supposedly putting Zuckerberg and Facebook on notice, and under high scrutiny, for its countless violations just a few months ago — only suggests one thing to me, members of congress have given this hideous action a seal of approval.

    So now, everyone who uses Facebook — along with helpless non Facebook users the Facebook user willfully, or unwittingly, show a connection to — will be rated as a Zero or a One; via Secret Algorithmic™ process. Anyone with a brain will make an educated guess that Facebook will be – or already has been — monetizing its ratings of untold multitudes of human beings as automatic liars: unfriendworthy; unjobworthy; uncreditworthy; unhousingworthy; possibly incarceration worthy Zeros. This should be receiving far more coverage, and outrage.

  27. nyc transplant to south carolina

    A friend sent me an email with 2 questions. I’m at a loss as to what the answers are. Just assuming that the questions are correct can anyone come up with an answer.

    1. If indisputable, irrefutable evidence comes to light that the 2016 election was in fact rigged and therefore illegitimate (and accepted by both political parties), what happens? Who becomes president? In a conspiracy, it is my understanding that the vice-president is by default also implicated and therefore cannot be elevated to the office of the presidency. And, if we assume for a moment that the Republicans maintain control of the speakership after the mid-terms, that person ought not become president either because the side that stole the election would still be in control. Does the rightful winner of the initial election assume the presidency (much like a silver medalist being awarded the gold in the event the gold medal winner is convicted of drug violations)? Is a new election immediately called? What actually happens? What is the failsafe for this set of circumstances? Surely, passing the baton to the next person in line who is on the same team is neither a satisfactory nor acceptable resolution.

    2. Paul Manafort is in hot water for basically stealing huge sums of money. Yet, he is able to use that money to pay for his legal fees. How is that allowed? And, by extension, if his lawyers receive payments from funds that were ill-gotten, is that not money laundering in and of itself? I cannot rob a bank and then use the money to pay my legal fees. What is the difference here?

    Of course, both of the above situations should be considered in the broader sense of the question and not necessarily applied to these actual cases.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Regarding the first, going by the 2016 Democratic primary election precedent, the victim should endorse the winner, if necessary (to face a greater foe, for example) for the good of the country.

      It only remains for future Machiavellian believers to make know to the voters what greater foes there will be.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      1. It’s been two years. If this were going to happen, it would already have happened. I know that’s not the answer you’re looking for, so I’ll give my answer: Game of Thrones-style trial by combat.

      2. I don’t know of arrangements for clawback or restitution. And I would imagine that as long as Manafort is still innocent until proven guilty, including appeals, he can pay his lawyers with what money he has, and the legal system is highly unlikely to claw it back.

    3. todde

      VP becomes president unless he is impeached, and then on down the line.

      9-120.104 – Forfeiture of Assets Transferred to an Attorney for Representation in a Criminal Matter
      Forfeiture of an asset transferred to an attorney as payment for legal fees for representation in a criminal matter may be pursued, notwithstanding the fact that the asset may have been transferred for legitimate services actually rendered, where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the attorney had actual knowledge that the asset was subject to forfeiture at the time of the transfer. However, such reasonable grounds must be based on facts and information other than compelled disclosures of confidential communications made during the course of the representation.

      1. ambrit

        No one has seriously considered is that the ‘Cthulhu For America’ argument that Cthulhu could become president can also be applied to Hillary Rodham Clinton.
        To begin, there is no rule requiring the Speaker of the House to be a sitting member of Congress. That ‘fact’ is just a tradition, not a mandate.
        So, suppose the Dems gain control of the House, and maybe the Senate too.
        A new, Democrat Party Speaker of the House is needed. Since the Speaker need not be a sitting member, the ruthless minions of Hillary force a vote to enshrine Hillary the Maligned as Speaker of the House. It’s all legal. Then the Trump/Pence Double Date Impeachment goes through. Somehow, and this is the hard part, there is a Double Conviction and removal from office of the two top Deplorable Republican Officers. The Speaker of the House, being next in the order of succession, is installed as President. Madame President! With a lot of scores to settle.
        I think I’d prefer the Dread Lord Cthulhu.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Cthulhu may be a monster seeking to dominate the Universe but you notice that he is never accused of trying to make a fast buck and cheat his victims at all, especially his worshipers?

          1. ambrit

            That’s true. With the Dread Lord, the last thing you see is the thing that gets you.
            With Hillary, I fear we might get a glimpse of the D.C. Innsmouth look.

  28. anon y'mouse

    wait, so the CIA used socialism (passed off through “foundation payments”, ugh) to fund the arts to fight socially against socialism?

    my head is long past exploding.

  29. Unna

    Concerning The lesson we refuse to learn about Republican Voters article:

    Well I remember a president whose Atty Gen claimed his president had the executive right to kill American citizens for national security reasons,
    theoretically, even if that citizen were present within the United States.

    So why do Dem voters accept this? Changing the wording of the article:
    “This isn’t just because Trump (Obama) is a uniquely effective demagogue — though he is. It’s also because the bulk of Republican (Democratic) voters simply do not reside in the same moral and epistemological world as the rest of the country, including its centrist establishment (??!!). These Republicans (Democrats) don’t believe or trust anything they read in the mainstream media, or anything a Democrat or Republican critic of the president (Obama) says. And they have no interest in or respect for high-minded statements of principle (about, say, the rule of law) that purport to transcend partisanship.”

    1. ambrit

      A good description of how the ‘gig’ economy is reverting the West to pre 1914 social and economic relations.

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