Links 8/30/18

What did the dolphin say to the porpoise? BBC (David L)

This New York Bill Could Finally Put Animal Abusers Behind Bars for Years: Advocacy Group Independent Media Institute. I hate to have to make this argument, but this is not just about animal abuse. People who have a history of violence against animals, particularly as children, are often violent towards humans.

Life on the Internet Is Hard When Your Last Name is ‘Butts’ Motherboard


Online Bettors Know If Psychology Studies Will Replicate Atlantic (UserFriendly)

Prototype bionic eye created with custom 3D printer New Atlas (David L)

STDs continue rapid rise in U.S., setting new record, CDC says NBC (furzy)


Five years in, China’s Belt and Road looks like a giant debt trap FreightWaves

Donald Trump: China ‘not helpful’ with North Korea DW

With Ships and Missiles, China Is Ready to Challenge U.S. Navy in Pacific New York Times (furzy)

The New Silk Roads are just pieces in a giant puzzle Asia Times (J-LS)

Chelsea Manning: Federal Government preparing to ban US whistleblower from Australia (Kevin W)

Foreign Funds Can Be Accepted For Political Parties, But Not for Disaster-Hit Kerala The Wire (J-LS)


From Politico’s daily European newsletter:

How to trick the financial markets: “We are prepared to offer Britain a partnership such as there never has been with any other third country,” the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters in Berlin, prompting a 0.8-percent jump in the value of the sterling against the dollar. (When he spoke about a “partnership that has no precedent” a week or so ago, were traders still on holiday?) Also, when Barnier said a post-Brexit deal will be unlike anything the EU has ever struck with any country outside the bloc, was he actually just pointing out that there has never been an occasion to strike a deal with an ex-member of the club?

Brexodus from Spain as thousands of British immigrants quit over weak pound Metro

What the 8 Tory Brexit tribes want Politico

New Cold War

Russian Intelligence Is Co-opting Angry Young Men Atlantic. UserFriendly: “LOL The Russian bikers in Ukraine he claims are backed by Russia are actually the Nazi’s that have been fighting Russia for Ukraine:

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

If You Don’t Think You’re Being Recorded At Work, You Are Naive NPR (David L)

How Israel Spies on US Citizens Orient XXI (Chuck L)

Tariff Tantrum

Chinese soy buyers leave U.S. exporters show empty handed Reuters (Kevin W)

Trump’s Mexico Deal Reveals Another Deficit Bloomberg (furzy)

Trump Nafta 2.0 May Leave His Job, Deficit Pledges Unfulfilled Bloomberg (furzy)

Trump Transition

US cracking down on citizenship for hundreds of Hispanics along border: report The Hill

The Neoconservative Comeback Loeb Log (KF)

Trump unblocks more Twitter users after U.S. court ruling Reuters (Kevin W)

Trump, without evidence, blames China for hacking Clinton emails Reuters (furzy)

Trump’s latest misleading attack on Google, explained The Verge. Trump v. Google is like Godzilla v. Mothra.

Trump warns evangelicals of ‘violence’ if GOP loses in the midterms CNN (furzy)

Trump tried to convince GOP senators to turn on Sessions: report The Hill. UserFriendly: “Dumping Sessions after midterms to pass that sentencing reform bill.”

Mike Pence dumped his college fiancee for being a ‘sinner’ and narced on his beer-drinking frat bros: report Raw Story (furzy). I take the running of this story as messaging to anti-Trump diehards to be careful what they wish for.

FBI pushes back on unfounded Trump claim that China hacked Hillary Clinton’s email Washington Post (furzy)

Sarah Palin reportedly not invited to John McCain’s funeral New York Post (J-LS). I don’t like Palin, but this is remarkably petty.

Republicans Who Oppose Teacher Protests Are Losing Their Primaries, Even in Red States Intercept (UserFriendly)

Will Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren Run in 2020? Atlantic (UserFriendly)

Gillum’s upset in Florida primary captures the story of the midterms in miniature Washington Post (furzy)

Cuomo, Nixon exchange blows in tense primary debate The Hill

UserFriendly on tweet below: “Remind me why labor supports him?”

Cuomo Received $25,000 From Weinstein Lawyer’s Firm as He Suspended Probe Capital & Main (UserFriendly). Wowsers. Will this get around?

California moves towards 100% carbon-free electricity after landmark vote Guardian

Fake News

Detecting ‘deepfake’ videos in the blink of an eye The Conversation

Iran-based political influence operation – bigger, persistent, global Reuters (furzy)

What record high? Signs of an imminent meltdown in tech stocks keep piling up. Business Insider. Note you can read the article in full if you subscribe to BI on your RSS reader.

Guillotine Watch

The 17 most expensive cars sold at Pebble Beach Business Insider

Class Warfare

This is a terrific takedown (hat tip UserFriendly). Be sure to click through and read the entire tweetstorm:

States Should Ban Contracts Barring Workers From Joining Rivals Bloomberg (UserFriendly)

Slack’s Experiment Hiring Formerly Incarcerated People Atlantic. UserFriendly: “Tech does something right.”

California Crew Clearing Homeless Camp Kills Sleeping Woman Associated Press (David K)

Antidote du jour (cecelia):

And a bonus video. I believe this is a jackdaw:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    “Life on the Internet Is Hard When Your Last Name is ‘Butts’ ”

    Be yet more difficult if his first name was Seymour.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      One of my HS English teachers was named Olive Butts. In her case I suppose that’s better than if her surname had been Pitts.
      Regarding Urblintz’s comment below, my wife says she knew a guy when she was in college named Harry Armpitz. Then there was the Texas society matron Ima Hogg and her mythical sister Ura.

      1. Wukchumni

        I want to apologize for terrorizing the ultimate junior high nerd, complete with plastic pocket protector and assorted accessories that came with the territory, and if that wasn’t bad enough, his parents had named him Geza Binger, marking him with a phonetic bullseye on top of everything else.

        I just looked him up after not thinking about him for say 40 years, and he overcame the name and looks to have carved out a nice life.

        Again, my bad.

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        I had a teacher Rose, for whom a huge feature of marriage was getting rid of the last name Butts.

        Most amazing name I’ve encountered was Wilton Browne Hyman.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Bill Lear – the guy that founded the Lear Jet Corporation – had several children and one daughter was named Shanda.
          My wife claims to have know a Head family who named one of their children Richard.

        2. wilroncanada

          My brother-in-law’s surname, remaining unchanged to this day, is Pissey.
          My wife claims to have known a family in Vancouver when she was a child, named Knutt. They named their children Walter, Hazel, Peter and Chester. I’m was never sure it wasn’t an urban myth.

          1. norm de plume

            Sounds mythy – like the Schitts.

            Met a family years ago called Smealllie – and if you pronounced it Smeely you were instantly corrected – it’s Smelly, thank you. They appeared to be quite proud of it, or maybe that was just an artefact of their shared defensiveness.

      3. wilroncanada

        In the 1970s, if I remember correctly, a Vancouver radio station employed morning man Brian Forst, and afternoon drive-time host Rick Honey. Of course their radio promo was: ‘Forst to work, home to Honey. Brian Forst, a jokester, used to tell stories about his good friend Ben Dover, along with Ben’s wife Eileen Dover.

      1. Down2Long

        Met a woman whose last name was Penix. To my everlasting shame I asked if she got joshed about her name as a kid. She had perfected the art of throwing n-bombs with her eyes. I was chastened, to say the least

      2. PlutoniumKun

        There was a very popular Irish politician called Dick Spring. Oddly, his name never did him any electoral harm. I’d imagine he would have had to change it if he’d been an up and coming politician in the google era.

    2. Oguk

      Richard Head, who goes by “Dick”. (True story from a colleague, from when he was in the military).

      1. norm de plume

        My uncle told us he dealt with a Melbourne businessman of the same name.

        I work in education, exclusively international students, and there have been some doozies. A Vietnamese student called Huat The Phuc, a Colombian fellow with the moniker Hilario Sarcasmo.

        I had a college friend who told me that he knew two fellows, one in his home town and one in the capital, that he had always wanted to introduce to each other: Sean Organ and Dick Barber.

    3. mcdee

      There was a woman who worked at a small liberal arts college in Southern California whose last name was Comm. Her first name was Dorothy but everyone called her Dot.

    4. John Merryman.

      A brother in law was named Dickie Small. Stood about 6’4″. Did 2 tours Green Berets in Vietnam. Had a bit of a temper. I don’t recall anyone ever teased him about his name though.

      1. crittermom

        In another lifetime when I worked as a telemarketer (business to business), I came across a listing for a company where the man’s last name was Small & his first name Dick!
        Of course, in the phone book, it came up as Small Dick Excavating.

        I’ve always wondered what his folks were thinking when they named him?

  2. Wukchumni

    Chinese soy buyers leave U.S. exporters show empty handed Reuter
    Soy lent green on the bumper crops, is the reign of error’s method of making sure his constituency doesn’t have to eat the loss, on account of his business acumen.

  3. Ignim Brites

    “The Neoconservative Comeback”. Is it possible that the whole Russophobic agitprop has but the single purpose of thwarting resistance to nuclear war in Syria against Assad and Russia. We will find out soon enough as the defeat of the anti-Assad forces in Idib will leave but the US-Kurdish statelet in northeast Syria as the only remaining territorial opposition to Assad. Will the US use tactical nuclear weapons to defend it?

    1. pretzelattack

      still don’t understand what vital interest we are supposedly defending in syria. “freedom” just doesn’t ring the bells it used to.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The reputations of our betters. If we left, there might be questions about why money was spent in the first place.

        What about the poor generals in charge who work out of Florida? They might have a sad day.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Buy land – they don’t make it anymore.

            But gods do make more…like, for example, the volcano god or the undersea volcano god. He makes many islands still.

            I assume he is not his own real estate agent.

      2. Hamford

        I believe the prevailing story and motivation are that the Gulf Sunni States want to build a pipeline through Syria to Europe, but this would conflict with Russia and Iran’s interests in selling fossils to Europe. Add that to the ongoing struggle for Regional Hegemony between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Are this the most driving reasons, other readers?

        1. apberusdisvet

          Some major US players (Cheney, Bush, and others) have financial interests in the proposed pipeline, and the gas fields that would supply it. The major gas field is located just off the Gaza coast; just another reason for Palestinian genocide.

        2. Ignacio

          I believe that the US migth want instability which is exactly needed to prevent any gas pipeline in the region. That would render less options for the EU. Africa, Russia and US shale?

      3. Wyoming

        Strategic position in empire/neocon terms, additional control of energy supplies, serving the interests of Israel (more neocon/religious stuff). The usual. Freedom has never had anything to do with much of anything we do.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Don’t forget the perception it would be easy.

          American foreign policy is inherently racist where the little non-white people are just waiting to be rescued by Americans. Obama fresh off his perceived victory in Libya with Democrats crowing about their success and perceived redemption for supporting Iraq with their recent “smart war” he pivoted to Syria. After all, 41’s sky high approval in the wake of the Gulf War left him defeated by political mastermind Bill 42% Clinton. There was that leaked story about Dempsey trying to explain the Syrians unlike the Libyans could retaliate against our bases and ships to an incredulous Kerry who believed in the power of wunderweapons. This might explain why Obama and Kerry tapped the brakes as they didn’t want to have a ship sink on their watch, but they couldn’t disengage because if they were defeated by another tin pot arab dictator, Versailles’ reaction would make the “OMG Russia” narrative look like nothing.

          If America is pushed out with no concessions, what does that mean about our (Versailles that is) view of itself? This is where we are in the matter.

          1. Shane Mage

            To talk of “Versailles” as somehow equivalent to our deep State (or, as in the preferred euphemism, “the blog”) is a bit misplaced. Everything shows their domestic power to be at its height, as is their power to loot the whole world as well. But Versailles was perpetually bankrupt and lacked the power effectively to contest even the Parlement de Paris!

            1. Swamp Yankee

              I think it depends when and where we’re talking about in terms of Versailles. Certainly Louis XIV’s Versailles proved exceptionally useful to Le Roi Soleil in reigning in recalcitrant nobles (can’t stir things up in the provinces if you’re busy compete-preening at Court).

              The Versailles of the 18th century, of course, is a somewhat different creature, as you note. I think the real sea-change comes with the establishment of the Bank of England in 1694, based on Dutch models. This allowed the Britain to raise money through bonds, through borrowing (exponential); whereas Versailles remained dependent on direct taxation (arithmetic) and tax-farmer financiers, thus leading to the perpetually cash-strapped days of the mid-18th century.

              Louis XIV’s excessive military ambition couldn’t be paid for, and as ships of the line became a key gauge of national power, noble families, cities, guilds, and other entities were relied on to “sponsor” the construction of Men’o’war. A distant rhyme with current trends towards privatization.

              For what it’s worth, I think our aristocracy is far dumber than the Brits, who realized the need for reform, and so our fate will look more like France than Britain’s. Tell the Morning Joe crew to steer clear of Robespierre if they want to live!

      4. Lobsterman

        The non-cynical take is “preventing a refugee crisis,” but there are also cynical takes available.

        1. carycat

          No, that is the MOST cynical take because it is all this regime change action that is causing a refugee crisis in the first place.

      5. PlutoniumKun

        The Neocons love their big regional maps, you can draw nice arrows on them that look great when you are trying to impress other neocons.

        Syria isn’t all that terribly important in global or even regional terms. Its important to Neocons simply because its in the Middle East and they see the Middle East (with some justification) as the global jewel in the crown because of its oil reserves and its strategic location between Asia and Europe. Regimes there that don’t toe the line need to be brought into line. The real target for the neocons is, and always has been, Iran, Syria is seen as a stepping stone. Instead, its become a landmine.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            That was never a realistic project as it depended on getting the Saudi’s, Syrians and Turks all agreeing – this was never likely to happen. It would have made more sense for them to agree with the Iranians on their proposed pipeline through Iraq and Syria, but even this was never likely to be viable (the Iranians and Qataris essentially get their gas from the same field, the South Pars, which extends from Qatari territorial waters into Iran).

            IMO pipelines are largely red herrings when it comes to ME politics, and I don’t think Washington based Neocons give a damn about them. The Qatari’s were relatively late to the Syrian civil war, they were just jostling for influence as they have a preference for Muslim Brotherhood influenced groups rather than the jihadis the Saudi’s and UAE like to sponsor.

    2. emorej a hong kong

      single purpose

      — certainly not. Many insiders are gaining much (and/or avoiding loss of much) from this agitprop.

      But some taboo-breaking weapon firing in anger has so much potential to increase those gains (and loss avoidances) that the risk is high for it to occur — somewhere.

      In Syria, however, Assad and Putin seem to be very much long-game players who are likely to avoid a direct assault on the US position in both Northeast and Southeast Syria, in favor of letting the that difficult position bleed the US. Among other things, leaving the US in place with the Kurds, in the Kurds’ expanded territory of control, seems like the most reliable way to prevent a reconciliation between Turkey and the US. Also, Assad can probably defer any pressure for governmental reform so long as the “civil war” has not been completely won.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thats an excellent point. Sometimes its better to keep your enemies close, especially when they are in an undefensible position. The Kurdish territory in Syria is in the worst possible place for the US in terms of strategic military utility. Its completely surrounded by potential enemies with no easy sources of supply. Its an American Dien Bien Phu.

        1. Andrew Watts

          It sounds like you need a lesson in geography and strategy. The Democratic Federation of Northern Syria’s southern boundary is the Euphrates River. Rivers make for superior defensive positions when you have superb reconnaissance, substantial indirect fire capabilities, and air superiority.

          The Syrian Democratic Forces also control the dams on the Euphrates enabling them to raise or lower water levels of the river as the tactical situation dictates. The Syrian Arab Army and friends only occupy a small bit of territory on the northern bank. Whenever forces loyal to Damascus tried to attack SDF/US positions further north they were slaughtered. Which includes various incidents involving Iranian militias and Russian mercenaries from Wagner. It’s not like Russia is going to back any Syrian/Iranian/Hezbollah attack on the SDF anyway and Turkey won’t assault any areas where American and other Coalition troops are present.

          The Iraqis have remained neutral thus far and aren’t interested in meddling in the affairs of Syria. They’ve co-operated with both the SDF and government in Damascus in clearing the Syrian-Iraqi border in the east. Furthermore, the US doesn’t have any issues supplying their forces and the SDF through Iraqi Kurdistan even though the relationship between the KDP/Barzani Kurds of Iraq and Apoists aren’t exactly friendly.

          The short version of all that is the situation isn’t like Dien Bien Phu at all. Nor is the US-led Coalition’s position in northern Syria isolated in spite of whatever other sources like Moon of Alabama think.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Ummm, I think that it might be just like Khe Sanh here. Controlling the rivers is no good unless you control the river banks as there is not much depth in them unless you use massive resources like your superb reconnaissance, substantial indirect fire capabilities, and air superiority to do so. Even then missile technology has made a lot of these things vulnerable now. The Rand corporation came up with a plan ( of how the US wanted to divide up Syria so that they would control the oil producing regions under “international administration” with a corridor for getting that oil out of Syria so what the US appears to be doing is following this plan (we want that oil, dammit!).
            The SDF has been using dam levels to adjust river levels but without US military support, they would have no control of these regions as they are Arab regions, not Kurdish regions and trying to draft Syrian Arabs into the SDF is not really a winning strategy here. In addition, the maps show proof positive that the US/SDF area are used to protect ISIS formations who transverse these areas to attack Syrian positions and then to give them air cover when things go badly for them so at this stage, the US Air Force is acting as the ISIS Air Wing.
            The Iraqis have not remained neutral but have attacked Jihadists in Syria with Syrian permission and you seem to have forgotten that joint Russian-Iranian-Syrian-Iraq military headquarters in Baghdad that coordinates the campaigns. The US may be building more and more base in occupied Syria but life one day may prove hazardous for US troops when they go out past the wire and you can be sure that Syrian intelligence has go the whole area wired with their spies. In other words, it’s not over until it’s over.

            1. Andrew Watts

              This isn’t an exercise in theoretical masturbation, it’s war. The Syrian Arab Army and friends doesn’t have any missile technology capable of posing a threat that couldn’t be neutralized immediately. They’re 0-3 already and if they had kept up their attacks they would’ve been driven from the southern bank of the Euphrates in a 3-5km exclusion zone to further serve as a buffer. I don’t feel the need to debunk your assertion that the Kurds can’t work alongside with the Arabs as it’s been an ignorant opinion repeatedly proven wrong by events ad nauseum.

              Your comment can easily be dismissed with a “garbage in, garbage out” response. The US has launched tens of thousands of airstrikes against Daesh and the SDF has carried out the majority of the ground fight against them. The assertion that the US Air Force is “ISIS Air Wing” is a ridiculously claim made by an amateur regardless of the fact the air strikes on Syrian forces were intentional… or not.

              Furthermore, I already stated that the Iraqis have worked alongside both the SDF and Damascus so your characterization of my comment is intellectually dishonest at best.

              1. The Rev Kev

                Damn right its war and I am willing to substantiate what I say. Here are a few counterpoints. There is not only Syrian missiles in that theater but also a network of Russian missiles in Syria such as the S-400 missile system and the Pantsir-S1. That is why when the Israelis lob missiles at Syria, they do it from Lebanon or even the Mediterranean. And need I remind you that during that attack back in April, that Syrian-Russian network knocked down about 70% of US-UK-F missiles. I would not be surprised if that defensive grid has been updated since. Luckily for the Syrians they are getting more and more missiles. Just yesterday they found an underground arsenal that included US-made TOW missiles with launchers, as well as an advanced military night vision devices. This is happening all the time and the Syrian Army now has so many TOW missiles and man-pads that I read that they gifted two containers worth to Hezbollah.
                Sure the Arab Syrians may be able to work with the Kurds but there has been a lot of discontent as the Kurds are actually drafting them for their Army to help fend off the Syrian Army. As to the Coalition air strikes, that was mostly for show. Did they really stop ISIS? Cripple it? Push it back? No.They only did a fraction of the strikes that their Russian counter strikes did and far too many times those aircraft returned to base with their bombs still strapped to their wings. Agreed, with their drones and satellites that the US can see everything going down in Syria, so how the hell did they miss horizon-to-horizon convoys of oil trucks going from ISIS occupied Syria to Turkey where some of that was sold on to Israel? All that oil was filling ISIS’s coffers so the Russians called out the Coalition in the UN, said hold my vodka, and then proceeded to obliterate those convoys – and ISIS’s revenues – against the protests of the US.
                But wait, there’s more. Remember when ISIS was besieging Deir ez-Zor in Syria’s east. It was being supplied by the airport – until the Coalition deliberately killed over a hundred Syrian troops in the hills over-watching that airbase which was immediately followed by a Jihadist attack that nearly cut that air bridge. That is what I meant that the US and other Air Forces were acting as The ISIS Air Wing. Those Syrian troops had been there two years and suddenly the US thought that they were terrorists? No, I don’t think so either. There is other stuff that I can mention but I don’t want to write another War and Peace.

                1. Andrew Watts

                  This discussion is growing tiresome. I already stated that Russia isn’t going to support an attack on SDF and the US. Indeed, further down I stated that they’re trying to foster negotiations between Damascus and the Federation. Although your response perfectly encapsulates the attitude that propaganda is meant to stoke that treats war as a trivial team sport for the entertainment of others.

                  The Russian bombing of a convoy of civilian oil traders/smugglers and their air war against Daesh doesn’t compare to the liberation of cities and fight against them in Syria and Iraq. Nor can they come close to the number of casualties that were inflicted on IS unless you can count the other jihadist-rebels in western Syria. Russia didn’t enter the Syrian conflict to fight the Islamic State anyway as their primary purpose was to prop up their client in Damascus. Being forced to help re-capture Palmyra a second time doesn’t count due to the incompetence of the SAA for losing it in the first place and again after it’s initial recapture.

                  We’ve already covered the Deir Ezzor incident in detail, but perhaps you’d like to explain why Operation Anaconda was such a military blunder. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts since you seem so confident in the aerial reconnaissance capabilities of the US military/intelligence. That failed operation cresendohed with the abandonment of a wounded airmen to the tender mercies of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

                  1. The Rev Kev

                    Actually I am more impressed with Russia’s holistic approach in Syria than the military aspect. Those reconciliation efforts alone have paid enormous dividends and have saved countless lives as many people just want out of the war. And their humanitarian efforts have made them a lot of friends as well.
                    By the way, that was not so much a oil convoy that the Russians bombed but a pipeline on wheels but I am sure that you know that. Did Russia enter the war to support Syria? Absolutely. Syria has been an ally of Russia for decades. And who was fighting Syria by that stage? Mostly western-backed Jihadists who were recruited, trained, equipped, armed, transported and supplied by basically NATO, the Gulf States and Israel. Look at the massive tonnage of weapons captured whose origins come from those countries this year alone.
                    And the Syrian Army losing Palmyra wasn’t really incompetence. That Army has taken massive losses the past coupla years and they are stretched thin. Look at the battle footage and you will see a large proportion of their soldiers being grey-beards. Too many of their forces were surrounding Jihadist pockets but as they have been mopped up, those troops are now free to take part in other operations which we are seeing the results of now.
                    Asked yourself based on empirical fact, who has the better doctrine and you will see that it is the professional Russians as they have a unified command. The US doesn’t as you have several satrapies all vying for dominance. That Deir Ezzor attack was immediately after Putin and Obama made an agreement but the Pentagon disagreed and so launched that attack off their own bat.

      2. Andrew Watts

        On the contrary, the Russians have repeatedly stated they want US forces out of Syria as soon as possible. They’ve worked very hard at facilitating negotiations and working out a political deal acceptable to both the SDF and Damascus.

        1. Oregoncharles

          The Syrian Kurds’ best long-term hope is a reconciliation and autonomy agreement with Assad. Any attempt at actual independence would bring in Turkish forces on a large scale, so they’ll have to fake it. Since, as you point out above, they have one of the most effective military forces in the area, it’s in Assad’s interest to make peace with them.

          However, this would involve a rather complicated switching-horses-in-midstream maneuver, since the US would not approve. So I hope you’re right that Russia is facilitating the negotiations – though this won’t make them any more popular with the Blob.

          1. Andrew Watts

            Independence wasn’t ever the goal of Kurds in the YPG/SDF. If they ever tried to use the civil war as an opportunity to secede it would’ve immediately destroyed the SDF as a unified political and military entity and undermined it’s external support.

            However, this would involve a rather complicated switching-horses-in-midstream maneuver, since the US would not approve. So I hope you’re right that Russia is facilitating the negotiations – though this won’t make them any more popular with the Blob.

            I am. The Special Presidential Envoy to the Coalition Brett McGurk has already endorsed negotiations between the Federation and Damascus. As well as the attack on Idlib Province. Unfortunately, McGurk doesn’t speak on behalf of everybody in Washington.

            The story on the yesterday’s links about how the US was demanding a slice of Syria’s oil production sounds more like specific demand that the representatives from the Federation would make to the government in Damascus.

            They’d probably also want a Kurd in charge as oil minister too. But hey, if you can’t trust Sputnik or a pro-Hezbollah media outlet who can you trust?

              1. Andrew Watts

                None of the above. I hate repeating myself but I’ll reiterate what I wrote above because truth really is the first casualty of war.

                Garbage in, garbage out.

    3. anonymous

      Russia RUINED the US’ attempted Syria regime change. It was the Clinton State Dept and Obama’s CIA, under John Brennan, who engineered the latest round of attempted regime change in Syria (the CIA started these attempts in 1950).

      Brennan was the chief architect of the CIA’s Operation Timber Sycamore, which gave over $5 Billion to “moderate rebels” aka takfiris, to try to topple Assad.

      Russia has been helping Assad stamp out these (often foreign) jihadis, with considerable success. Idlib is the last terrorist bastion.

      US NeoCons have been enraged that Russia ruined their plans. Hillary Clinton started her rushing bashing at least one year before election 2016.

      And they’re enraged that Trump campaigned on ending NeoCons’ regime change wars and that he recently ended the CIA’s Operation Timber Sycamore.

      No wonder Brennan so hates Trump. Was it Brennan who started the Russia-gate propaganda?

      (not a Trump defender but strongly oppose US interventionist wars)

      US’ attempted regime change in Syria was always a proxy war against Iran and Russia.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        The only reason John Brennan isn’t the least-respected gov’t official in my household is because James Clapper exists.

        Even then. it’s getting closer all the time.

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        What you said was basically what I was ready to contribute.

        I would add that I think Syria has added to our Bloated Empire Look. We fart around for four years promoting democracy and all we get are more blown up antiquities. The Ruskies come in with a really limited-contract approach and say ‘done’ in two years, obviously pleased to exit a foreign entanglement. That’s gonna leave a mark. Something that stuck with me was a factoid that about 30-odd fighter planes were deployed.

        A couple of articles I read this morning mentioned the Spanish Empire. I wonder if some combination of fire, hurricanes, drought, earthquakes, transformers, and fuel rods leaves us just grimacing as BRICS or something takes the outposts of empire off our hands? Not likely, but I find it useful to try to think of some way our best and brightest won’t fry the planet through entitled incompetence.

        [Spoiler] One bit of weaponized Fridge Logic in the Archdruid’s ‘Twilight’s Last Gleaming’ was portraying a US nuclear confrontation with the world right up until the hours before the President decides not to obliterate the planet simply because we can’t be number one any more. My suspension of disbelief never even recorded a tic all the way through. Opposite of uncanny valley. As I think about that now I imagine President Clinton complaining to Anderson Cooper that the crisis over the Syrian Nuclear Cordon is obviously all the fault of nay-sayers, luddites, and big-endrians.

  4. emorej a hong kong

    Will Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren Run in 2020? Atlantic (UserFriendly)

    Although “UserFriendly”, all that is remotely new in this article seems to be:

    1. mainly: disinformation by people trying to get Warren into the race to help the anybody-but-Sanders establishment, and

    2. the remainder: disinformation by Sanders intimates.

    A few premises that seem like complete nonsense:

    a. The idea that Harris will stay out and leave the “time for a woman” voters to Warren.

    b. The idea that Booker’s oratorical abilities would overcome his history of high-visibility errors (see: “disgusting demonization” of Romney’s “Private Equity” track record, and “low-priced Canadian medicine isn’t safe”).

    c. The idea that Warren’s heavy Mass-focused campaigning is largely a tune-up for a Presidential run, rather than a necessary reaction to home-state popularity which lags very far behind Sanders’ in his home state of Vermont.

    d. The basic premise of equivalence in their positions, when the reality is that a Bernie candidacy makes a Warren candidacy hopeless, while a Warren candidacy would be a non-trivial but modest barrier to Bernie’s, unless the anybody-but-Bernie money kept Warren’s on life support after the early New Hampshire primary, in order to keep Bernie below 50% of delegates until the super-delegates wipe him out in the national convention’s second round.

    What speaks loudest is silence about Governors’ races:

    A. If Ben Jealous wins in Maryland, there is no chance Bernie would stay out, and little chance that he could be denied the nomination other than through a head-punch by Diego Maradona.

    B. If Jealous loses, especially by a large margin, while Stacey Abrams wins in Georgia, then Bernie’s momentum would be substantially lower, while Harris would get a boost.

    C. Andrew Gillum’s Florida Governor’s nomination is also relevant. If he wins, alongside Ben Jealous, then the anybody-but-Bernie money, machines and tricks will start flowing heavily towards an independent (probably Tom Steyer).

    1. Expat2uruguay

      Interesting comments, but I wanted to correct your misunderstanding of the tag user-friendly. Several links that appear on the site each day are recommended by readers / commenters. one commenter is named user-friendly, and he recommended this link. Now you know!

      1. Jason Boxman

        I literally LOL’d when I realized the misunderstanding and your correction fully clicked.


    2. Katniss Everdeen

      The Bernie contingent currently has another problem that has cropped up since 2016 and it’s a serious one–immigration. Specifically, “abolish ICE” which is, not unreasonably IMNSHO, being translated into “open borders.” I’m not sure how this got started, but it seems to have become an issue after Ocasio-Cortez won and she started talking about it.

      Andrew Gillum’s immigration platform included “abolishing ICE in its current form,” and it’s one of the reasons I did not vote for him. Talk around town was that he was “Soros-backed,” and, according to the wapo link on his upset victory, it’s true. I can easily see this being spun into Florida’s becoming a state of sanctuary cities ala California, and I don’t think Floridians will go there.

      I hate to see Bernie’s core message–national healthcare, livable wages and affordable college–get lost in the illegal immigration shuffle. He was given a pass last time on his dodgy foreign policy record, but I predict that this is a bridge too far.

      There was a Moon of Alabama link here several days ago titled ” What The Party ‘Strategists’ Say Is Not What The Voters Want.” From the article:

      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.

      Bernie needs to shut this down if he hopes to hold onto the magic of 2016. I just don’t believe that the only path to national healthcare runs through open borders, and I’m willing to bet I’m not alone.

      1. Brindle

        I mostly agree that undocumented immigration is a landmine issue for Democrats. Seems logical that the increased number of workers available for service sector and construction jobs will keep wages from rising. The Dems can’t speak out of both sides of their mouths on this issue. It’s a tough nut to crack.

        1. JohnnyGL

          In fact, I think this is the nightmare scenario of how the Dems decide to strangle Bernie in the general election against Trump.

          Kamala Harris/Corey Booker run a strong pro-immigrant, nearly open borders campaign….this drags Bernie in that direction. Bernie will be constantly put under pressure to say nice things about immigrants, perhaps even be pushed to commit to abolishing ICE.

          Then, after Bernie wins the nomination, Trump pounds Bernie on immigration, gets re-elected and the corporate media scolds voters for daring to cross them and the insurgent left is tagged with the ‘loser to Trump’ label.

          1. Rojo

            Yeah, I think you’re on to something.

            That scenario means:

            a) the left is smothered.

            b) liberal 10 percenters get to keep their impotent righteous indignation for four more years.

            Right now the professional class in unhinged. Their fighting to keep together their West Wing illusions of America.

            The New Yorker recently ran an article banging on Daniel Ortega. Nicaragua’s the only country not sending waves of refuges North. But the New Yorker will do their part to ensure that changes. Then they can cry about how the refugees are treated.

            1. Shane Mage

              “Nicaragua’s the only country not sending waves of refuges North.” Not quite. Virtually all the Venezuelan refugees, in their hundreds of thousands, are heading South.

      2. JohnnyGL

        Sadly, right now, the choices on immigration we’re being given are either A) Trump-style cruelty towards poor people from Central America or B) the open borders crowd that are fine with labor arbitrage and the knock on effects of undermining labor unions, degrading worker safety, and environmental laws.

        If Bernie can thread the needle here, being nicer to refugees but slashing the number of visas issued….tourist, H1-B, nannies, etc, then, I think he can make this work. Corporate media will flip out at cutting visas issued, but it would make a big difference as around 1/2 of undocumented people come on planes and not through the deserts of the southwest!

        1. Wukchumni

          Our biggest problem on the Mexican border now is from Indians (Mumbai-not Mohecan) trying to sneak in from down under.

          I don’t know what to term it other than the ‘Sari Carry Trade’

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            People, from around the globe, who hate America, justified or not, will find the weakest link.

            Diseases, not hating any humans in particular, will also seek the easiest entry point.

            It used to, or still is in some or many places, that to go somewhere, you have to show you’re healthy and not about to spread some diseases. Maybe it’s not important today, but every nation will be tested invariably one day.

            1. Wukchumni

              Would an Indian ever be thought of as an ‘illegal’ here to take computer jobs from Americans?

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I have not heard, but you mentioned people from Mumbai sneaking in, via Mexico.

                Were you joking or do you have any articles?

        2. marym

          Trump-style (and precursor Obama-style) cruelty and open borders are the two extremes. The rest of the debate is a muddle. Some elements of the muddle:

          As far as

          undermining labor unions, degrading worker safety, and environmental laws

          this is the fault of capitalism, explicit Republican policy, and neoliberal, pro-capitalist, failures of the Democrats.

          Changes to immigration policy, whether cruel or just mildly restrictive, don’t address this. Nor do anti-immigrationists of the Trumpian sort base their opposition on this type of negative worker impact.

          I’m personally not convinced that the solution to un/under-employment and wages is curtailing immigration – as opposed to a robust jobs program addressing all the work that needs to be done.

          Maybe I’m wrong about that, but the claim that immigration depresses job opportunities and wages seems to be made more from the less-than-open-borders left than from the anti-immigrant right.

          Trump and right-wing talking points refer to immigrants as dangerous criminals, not as a competing workforce. For the Trump administration it’s just the opening bid on doing harm to illegal immigrants, legal immigrants, naturalized citizens, birthright citizens, and their communities.

          On the left a better deal for workers, opposition to ethnic cleansing, and something short of open borders need to be threaded through the needle. On the right there’s nothing in the deal for workers unless they’re expected to believe that The Wall and ethnic cleansing will magically improve their circumstances.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            It’s distressing how often one or a few examples are generalized.

            Here, we go from a few are criminals to all are.

            In another place, it goes from a few are shooters to all are.

            In both instances, emotions are manipulated, by politicians from all sides.

        3. Unna

          Abolish ICE? Hate to wander into the weeds of Canadian politics but the recent provincial election in Ontario may be instructive. It was finally time for the “social democratic” NDP to go big, either a majority government or at least a minority. Blotted buffoon, Conservative, Doug Ford who makes Trump look like a policy wonk, vs the discredited Liberals, vs the NDP. The libs wiped out, but the NDP virtue signalled promising to make Ontario a “sanctuary province” for “irregular” immigrants as they’re politely known – a big no no here – thinking they’d stir up their base and motivate recent, but legal, “new Canadians” in and around Toronto to vote NDP. But that’s not what the New Canadian legal immigrant voters wanted. Doug Ford swept the immigrant vote and now has a majority government.

          The NDP didn’t understand the immigrant vote and didn’t understand the “ordinary” Ontario voter either. Maybe some “old stock”…. Canadians can weigh in on this if I’m wrong being a “new Canadian” myself. Don’t know how Bernie handles this but maybe a bit of political courage is in order.

      3. Spring Texan

        I don’t think ‘abolish ICE’ is equivalent to open borders, but I won’t support any Democratic candidate who is a hardliner on immigration — period — so appealing to you would mean losing voters like me. I am jubilant that we are pushing against the cruelty and extremism on immigration and ‘abolish ICE in its current form’ is the best shorthand for that.

        We have to be concerned about wages in the United States . . . but also worldwide.

        And Hispanic immigrants — if not filled with fear — are often some of the easiest to unionize because they often have a sense of community and solidarity.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It may be the best shorthand, or not, but so far, it hasn’t been able to communicate without muddling it up.

      4. Rojo

        I recall a poll that showed that abolishing ICE hadn’t even passed 50% with Dems, whereas free college and especially Medicare-for-All were slam dunks.

        Now I’m for abolishing ICE. It’s a recent invention that militarizes immigration enforcement.

        But, as you mention, voters are going to read that as NO enforcement.

        So easy to virtue-signal — consequences be damned — on immigration.

        In a perfect world, we’d be free to roam God’s Green Earth. But the truth is that globe is locked up in a nation-state system. And none of these nations has open borders.

        So to the virtue-signallers: put a number on it. Do you want to fling open the gates?

        “No, that’s not what I’m saying”.

        Ok, put some particulars around it.

        Bernie should get out front on a sensible, humane immigration bill.

      5. WheresOurTeddy

        the surest way to lose in 2020 is to play into the jingoist-in-chief’s wheelhouse on for’ners

        Keep talking about the actual problem: rich people

      6. Elizabeth Burton

        Right now, any progressive running (or planning to run or supporting candidates running) for office is going to be damned if they don’t talk about immigration and damned when they do. And it really is important that we keep in mind at all times that the corporate media’s job is to ensure any anti-establishment candidate be presented in whatever way makes them look bad.

        And it’s working as good as ever, based on the way people even here are being drawn to look at the trees instead of keeping their eyes on the forest, where the lions and tigers and bears are crouched just inside the tree line waiting to pounce.

        The only person who really knows what Bernie’s plan is, is Bernie, and possibly half a dozen people he trusts not to creep off to the media. He knows too well how anything he says will be twisted, so he says things that are innocuous so far as the corporate media are concerned. Unfortunately, those same things make him look bad to progressives and, by extension, anyone he supports. I actually heard someone say they would now refuse to support anyone he does over some apparent defection.

        Unless we’re going to suggest Bernie has gone senile in the last two years, I find it hard to accept that someone with his record of integrity would throw it all over just to get votes.

        I’m at the point where the only version of what any progressive says is one I get directly from someone who heard it and wrote it down/recorded it for transcription. That’s why I love it when someone here actually takes the time to go to a political event and report in detail.

        As for Gillum, apparently the progressive groups think he’s the best of the litter, so his support from Soros and Steyer may be just a way to undermine him. After all, any PAC can blow wads of cash on advertising without having to consult the candidate; it just won’t have the “I approve this message” thingie. I don’t think it’s coincidental that the media are making a point of “mentioning” whenever a candidate who rejects corporate donations has their campaign enhanced by “support” from the plutocracy.

        The favorite line I’m seeing more often is that such candidates “reject PAC money.” Which is, of course, nonsense—a political action committee can come without corporate ties, and it’s the corporate ties they’re rejecting. So, something else to educate about.

    3. Judith

      Glen Ford, at BAR, has some interesting things to say about Sanders in 2020:

      “The biggest obstacle to Bernie Sanders winning the Democratic nomination in 2020 is Kamala Harris, the corporate, anti-Black prosecutor. But Black voters are now in Bernie’s camp.

      If Bernie Sanders can remain vigorous until the opening of the Democratic primary season in September or so of 2019, when he turns 78, the self-styled “socialist” with the FDR domestic program and the Harry Truman foreign policy will fare much better with Black voters than he did last time around.”

      1. edmondo

        Bernie Sanders will never, ever be president. I am positive he will never, ever be the Democratic Party nominee.

        The only way we get another FDR is the same way we got the first one. There will be a nominee who runs on all the establishment notes (FDR’s biggest platform plank was “getting back to a balanced budget” !!!!!!!!) and then turns on his backers after the Inauguration. Let’s call it a “Reverse Obama”.

        Look for an establishment candidate who has enough money that he/she doesn’t need to cash out after they leave office for your “class traitor”. That one is the next FDR not the one running as a “democratic socialist”.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        That is interesting – I’d the impression that Sanders has always had an uphill fight against the firm grip the Black Misleadership Class has on the African American vote in many areas. I wonder if he thinks that the ‘official’ Black vote will now go to Sanders, or if ordinary voters are going to simply ignore what their church leaders, etc., will tell them to do?

        1. JohnnyGL

          Yeah, I suspect Ford’s right, for the most part. When S. Carolina swung against Bernie at the last minute I remember being confused after Bernie’s big win in NH (20ish points). Then, I saw that all the political talk was around Trump being the front-runner and realized this might have swung a lot of votes back towards HRC as voters opted for the ‘safe’ option on the Dem side to avoid the potential catastrophe of a Trump victory.

          I think this was the biggest lesson of 2016….corrupt centrists dems aren’t “safe” at all. They’re incompetent losers. “Russia hacked us” is partially an attempt to avoid this glaringly obvious track record of losses that have piled up over two decades.

          Bernie’s already quietly seen as the front-runner by those seen to have gravitas like Nate Silver. Once he crushes Iowa and NH, that status will be official. No doubt black voters will see that and back they guy they already like according to polls.

          Bernie needs to maintain his strength in the Great Plains and Rockies, and turn the huge losses he posted in the South into draws or even small wins. That swing alone would turn his 54-46 loss into a W, and I think Bernie’s got more upside as Dems just want to win back the White House.

    4. Lee

      b. The idea that Booker’s oratorical abilities would overcome his history of high-visibility errors (see: “disgusting demonization” of Romney’s “Private Equity” track record, and “low-priced Canadian medicine isn’t safe”).

      That last point is hilarious given that so many of our pharmaceuticals are made in countries such as India and China. The latter in particular with a proven history of poisoning for profit.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        the Booker question ignores the elephant in the room, which will most certainly be addressed if he ran against Trump:

        Corey Booker is in his 40s and unmarried and has had gay rumors for a long time. I don’t give a damn either way, except inasmuch as it makes him unelectable to a large % of the population. Trump would never let up and flyover country + great lakes + pennsylvania + ohio would deliver him a 2nd term. Everything south of Richmond would be a landslide of epic proportions.

        Also consider the optics of Trump succeeding the first black president (a rejection of his legacy by many) and defeating the prospective 2nd one (a rejection of all kinds of things that will be debated ad nauseum)

        I could care less, I’d vote for anybody if the policies were sane, but I also recognize what country I live in. But Booker loses, and likely handily.

        1. Big River Bandido

          Whether he’s gay or not, I don’t think that will doom Booker’s candidacy. I don’t think he has a shot to begin with. There are three things that will, however:

          1) “disgusting” (attacks on “private equity”)
          2) “Low-priced Canadian medicine”
          3) No Northeastern liberal has a shot in the Rust Belt.

  5. Wukchumni

    On one hand, you have the farmers who are coming to the realization that they’ve been had, while on the other hand with the evangs, that dogma will hunt-if provoked to violence, as per the recent edict from on high.

    1. David

      Which farmers? Soybean exports are up from last year. The Chinese are buying every non-US soybean available.

      Where does everyone else go for soybeans?

      US soybean export sales for the week of 8/23/2018, from the USDA (source):

      Destination Country – week of 8/23/18 / week of 8/23/17 (in Metric Tons)

      China – 0 / 203,866
      Argentina – 36,550 / 0 (Argentina is a major soybean grower)
      Egypt – 91,298 / 0
      Iran – 139.610 / 0
      Mexico – 218,815 / 84,968
      Tunisia – 39,239 / 0

      973,090 MT of soybeans were exported last week vs. 687,007 MT in 2017.

      1. Wukchumni

        When I was in business, my long term customers were of utmost importance and you got used to the way they wanted things done and vice versa, easy dealings that fit like a favorite pair of well worn shoes.

        Our farmers are getting a divorce from China, essentially.

        The article says that the US soybean crop isn’t in yet, so how did we ship them already?

        And how is Iran our 2nd biggest customer, I thought they were the bad guys?

        1. Alex morfesis

          How is Iran($0faraway) our 2nd biggest customer if we are the punchline for ayatollahs on a Friday night…??

          How did the ayatollahs get parts for their McDonald Douglas planes and American made fighter jets after the fake and shake Persian Royal got bounced for imagining he could dictate policy to the west…

          remember the

          1. Wukchumni

            All of the sudden in 1978, the oddest diaspora took place in high school, as I had half a dozen tongue twister names the likes of Ahmadinejad enrolled in class with me, but even more of a work out for my mouth, lots of good Scrabble names from a scoring standpoint.

            There’s something around a million people of Persian descent in Irangeles now.

        2. Peterpaul

          The implication is that China is buying through intermediaries to avoid the tariff. It is probably cheaper to ship twice, say the US to a third country, like Iran, and then on to China, than it is to pay the 25% tariff. If we end trade in Iran, another country will be used.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            China is buying US soybeans through other nations to avoid the soy tariff imposed by China?

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                This must have caught them by surprise, thought I read they had been preparing for this for a while now, as we have not heard about any Strategic Soybean Reserves, though I understand they can only be stored for about 6 months (less if the climate is humid).

            1. Oregoncharles

              Case in point: Argentina, a producer and exporter of soybeans. Why else would they buy them? They’re obviously laundering them.

              Chinese businesses’ interests are not the same as the Chinese government’s.

        3. sleepy

          I didn’t read the article but perhaps “export” sales include future contracts on this year’s crop,

          Also, those figures from the USDA are small enough–973,090 metric tons/week, while the US produced 117, 000,000 metric tons/year in 2016, so perhaps they might even include early harvests from this year’s crop in Texas and other southern regions. In Iowa normally they’ll start harvesting in 2-3 weeks.

      2. Oregoncharles

        I’m pleased to see this, because I speculated before that soybeans were pretty fungible, so the sources would just shift around. Does tend to defeat the Chinese retaliation, doesn’t it?

      3. Bridget

        “Where does everyone else go for soybeans?”

        Indeed, imposing tariffs on fungible commodities doesn’t seem like a good plan to me.

  6. allan

    “Remind me why labor supports [Cuomo]?”

    NYS AFL-CIO statement on the debate:

    Governor Cuomo Demonstrates Once Again Why He is the Only Choice
    for Working People in the State Democratic Primary

    The experience, judgement and breadth of knowledge demonstrated by Andrew Cuomo tonight on issues important to working people, make it crystal clear why the Labor Movement is enthusiastically supporting the Governor’s re-election. Only one candidate on the debate stage is ready to lead, and that is Governor Cuomo. At a time when union members and all New Yorkers are under attack in Washington, we need the Governor’s leadership now more than ever, and cannot afford candidates struggling to get up to speed.

    The Democratic Party is not the only institution that needs a gut renovation.

      1. Pat

        They won’t need to rewrite much for the Presidential nomination debate. Similar to most of Cuomo’s commercials, they are all about the campaign he really cares about.

        1. Pat

          I came into the debate after Cuomo he wasn’t and wouldn’t be running for President.

          I have to check the real estate listings to see if he has the Brooklyn Bridge up for sale. He may be realistic enough to know his chances are slim and none, but that hasn’t stopped him from positioning himself for a Presidential campaign for almost two years. There is the Biden commercial, which could mean he has decided to make a run for Biden’s VP and will hang back until Biden crashes and burns.

    1. Pat

      My union was stupid and ignorant in an early battle against new markets that they (and the other union in the industry who was equally stupid) are now having to fight in their own. How were they so shortsighted you ask? They supported the employers when another union struck, one who had spent the money actually studying the long term effects of this new market in pension and welfare funding within the industry. The union that struck was right. The other unions that used their framework for negotiations but with lower figures during the strike are getting by, even though they also screwed the pooch by undercutting the striking union. When The two really supportive unions got to negotiations, well those almost adequate new market terms were not on The table and their leaders were busy crowing that the increases they got in the old markets were The real win. The two unions with the worst record for corruption of their leadership of the group are…drumroll… Mine and the other union. And most of the locals are having pension and welfare funding issues as the new market has almost entirely replaced the old one. And they are not public service and face fewer hurdles.

      I have long thought teachers were being hurt more than helped by the leadership of their union. Same here with some of the other unions in the public sector in NY. With the caveat that sometimes those at the top of the union have as much interest in their members’ concerns, as most Dems do in their voters’, Cuomo is well known for being vindictive, and is expected to easily win. Some of his support is all about losing the least.

      That that support is limited might be seen by the public response to Nixon which seemed louder and more often supportive than what Cuomo got.

  7. gordon

    L.Wilkerson’s piece on the return of the Neocons was certainly chilling, especially for a non-American. But “They remind me of Leon Trotsky”? Since when was old Leon a warmonger? Does Mr. Wilkerson actually know anything about Trotsky’s career?

    1. Wukchumni

      A favorite quote from Leon that seems apt for our era:

      “You may not be interested in the dialectic, but the dialectic is interested in you.”

    2. Carolinian

      I think he’s referring more to the global world revolution side of Trotsky. Some contend that the neocon unipolar world view derives from this ambition and some neocons have indeedbeen former Trotskyites.

      1. Shane Mage

        Those “neocons” are, without exception, types who by 1940 had broken politically, broken definitively, with LT.

  8. Louis Fyne

    you betcha, Sarah Palin was the reason why St. McCain lost in 2008.

    It wasn’t being completely tone-deaf to Iraq. Flippant about bombing iran. A hollow debt-fueled economy. Looking like a deer in headlights when Lehman blew up.


    1. Wyoming

      you betcha, Sarah Palin was the reason why St. McCain lost in 2008.

      Some disagreement there. imho McCain chose Palin in a desperate attempt to get a boost without which he knew he was certain to lose. It was a gamble which did not pay off. Could he have gambled with greater luck with some other choice? Perhaps. But Lieberman? I don’t know about that either.

      1. Odysseus

        Could he have gambled with greater luck with some other choice?

        Unquestionably. Palin was a ridiculous choice even at the time.

        1. Wukchumni

          I remember when Kissinger had a photo-op with her perhaps to solidify her ‘bonafides’, and my thought was that of nadir meeting zenith.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Its respectable to pick on a run of the mill idiot who was kicked upstairs because of a scandal that hit pretty much every other Republican in Alaska because she was pretty much the only one left out of the scheme. Palin probably didn’t even know which fork to use at dinner!

      I suspect a Kennedy spawn will try to peddle a “Profiles in Courage 2.0” story about not inviting Palin for having the temerity to sully the reputation of Saint McCain!

      1. Wukchumni

        We in the Palinstinian Movement take great umbrage at those mocking the Sarah, our proudest moment of hers being when she utilized the tele-palmter with either scribbling or more than likely tattoos of possible answers to the test, so inscribed .

        Or maybe it was that horrible turkey video, no not the WKRP one, this was all too real.

      2. Pat

        Yeah it was. McCain was courting the conservative Republicans once his numbers became wobbly and Palin was considered a rising star. She even boosted his poll numbers for a period. And she was like Trump in that her blunt supposedly straight talk wAs a winner in the stump. Her real destruction happened after the loss, as she proved all her critics right over time. She was still considered a contender for most of 2009.

        This country does embrace idiots – see McCain, Graham, Haley, Biden, Lieberman, ….

  9. integer

    What did the dolphin say to the porpoise?

    A: Until I met you, my life was porpoiseless.


          1. wilroncanada

            The Porpoise/Mann Act, with a southern accent:
            Transpo’tin’ gulls ova a sedate laawn (lion) for immmo’al po’poses.

  10. vlade

    If by the bikers in the ‘Angry young men’ UF meant Night Wolves, then I have no idea what Torygraph is on, as they are a well known Russian pro-Putin group. I haven’t actually run into them, but I know people who did when they were on one of their annual European rides. They are as pro-Putin as you get. Watch the video here – I’d point it’s from official Russia TV.

    There’s a wealth of info on them on the internet, including Russian sources. Their involvement in Ukraine – on Russian side – was also well documented and they proudly claim it too, so it’s hardly a secret. So sorry, but the comment is just plain wrong.

    1. Carolinian

      The story is indeed about the “Night Wolves” but consists of the usual hair on fire CT about Russia supposedly trying to overthrow Western societies with alt-right extremists.

  11. Ignacio

    RE: This New York Bill Could Finally Put Animal Abusers Behind Bars for Years: Advocacy Group Independent Media Institute. I hate to have to make this argument, but this is not just about animal abuse. People who have a history of violence against animals, particularly as children, are often violent towards humans.

    I pretty much agree with that but I would add that I don’t believe that incarceration serves preemptive purposes but plain punitive ones. This wouldn’t help much to reduce human violence when prisons are places where you can obtain your Mastership in Violence.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Killing and eating animals – that’s not cruel?

        Would it be less cruel to sing songs to them as they are led to the slaughterhouse?

      1. Skip

        Sounds like someone having a mental breakdown or other cognitive issue.

        Four months in county jail is a “slap on the wrist”? Community shaming and likely job loss?

        For some cases adding mandated therapy intervention and monitoring might offer more promise.

        Because nothing is more helpful to those teetering on the edge of insanity than longer incarceration, and we don’t warehouse enough of the mentally ill in prison.

      2. Ignacio

        Incarceration and Crime: A Complex Relationship

        Increasing incarceration while ignoring more effective approaches will impose a heavy burden upon courts, corrections and communities, while providing a marginal impact on crime.

        Incarceration Rates in an International Perspective.

        Emerging scholarship is exploring the broader societal factors contributing to a nation’s rate of incarceration. These studies explore policy initiatives to prioritize incarceration as a means of crime control, degree of inequality in a society, racial assumptions about crime, and the cultural values of a nation. With the rise of mass incarceration in the United States, a body of research has developed that is assessing the limited public safety benefits and collateral effects of these developments. These counterproductive effects include impacts on family formation and parenting in high-incarceration communities, rates of civic engagement, and the fraying of community bonds and informal social control.

    1. Jen

      As I am writing this, my Bella is napping on my feet. She is my craigslist rescue. She was 15 months old when I got her, and already on her third home. Someone was not kind to this dog. When I first got her she would cower at the sight of a hose, at the beeping sound that a camera flash makes, at loud noises, at being brushed, and a host of other things. Since coming in to my care she has never known a harsh word or an empty food dish. She is the worlds happiest dog, and loves everyone except my plumber. The first time she joined her canine brother to get a drink from the garden hose, I almost cried.

      I’ll be generous here and suggest that jail time should be accompanied by mandatory cognitive behavioral therapy. However, reading what that man did to his dog made me want to grab a shovel and smack him upside the head with it.

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        Good for you! I always like rescue-pet stories. :)

        Here is mine: Had a cat once, years ago, that was a 4-time loser from the shelter and from being handed between different owners. I never learned much of her history other then she was photogenically cute and thus adopted…but then she was supposedly discovered to be mean/vicious, would bite anyone tried to pet her…and sent packing. The wife of the house I was living in at the time decided to try and be the 5th owner, and solve the problem.

        The house I was living in at the time had lots of kids, and I rented a room down in the basement and that was the only place the kids weren’t allowed to go – so the cat decided that was where she would set up shop and lurk. Usually, far under my bed, and an uneasy truce emerged: I don’t try and pet her, she won’t hiss at me and pee on the blankets when I was gone at work.

        After a few weeks of this, one night I woke up to a small furry ball curled up at my feet. A pet or 2 was allowed. After a few more weeks, she and I were fast friends. Noone else would ever be allowed to pet her, but she was unfailingly nice to me from then on.

        Then came the day I had to move to a new apartment…not originally being a cat person, I figured she would probably be fine with the current owners and didn’t plan to bring her to the small apt I was moving to….but then, the day I had the rest of my meager belongings moved & my mattress loaded into the pickup bed I caught sight of her clinging, sideways, to the mattress with all claws dug in – a sort of cat-death-grip….and I knew I no longer had any choice in the matter.

        She lived happily as an indoor cat at the apt for several years, and then as a partially outdoor cat when I moved back to the family farm for a couple more years. She finally got taken out by (what very likely was) the melamine-in-cat-food thing in 2007…she started wasting away just a month or so before that was heavily publicized…the vet I took her to was unable to find any cause, so eventually I had to have her put down. But, I did it at home in the same bedroom, on the same mattress, as she had grown to know and love….with me right there petting her as she purred and faded away.

        But at least those last years were glorious! :)

        1. Pat

          Blessings on you both. And on those animals you have provided love and shelter to. And to all the rescued and the rescuers, who are off time interchangeable.

        2. Enquiring Mind

          Our favorite cat was a rescue. His former master died and we found him in the local animal shelter. The little sign said that he had lost the will to live. When we brought him home, he looked around our house and found a dark, calm place to hide under a bed. I was able to reawaken his inner kitty by moving around a pencil to get him to play. He lived a long and rewarding life for all parties, and played hide and seek with our dog, too.

          1. roxy

            My cat lived the first five years of her life with someone who, when filling out the shelter’s animal intake questionnaire, answered the question “Why are you surrendering the animal to the shelter?” by saying “I’m becoming homeless”. I’m thankful that this person loved her too much to take her along into that scenario.

        3. WheresOurTeddy

          Our wonderful dog died of kidney disease just before he turned 3 a few years ago. We were devastated. We take solace in the fact that 6 weeks before he died, a tiny black kitten was hiding under my car in the rain. He was scared and ran away from my wife the first time she caught him, but was so hungry that she was able to re-catch him with the aid of some chicken. He lived downstairs with our sweet dog and they were fast friends immediately. Many’s the time we’d see the little black cat curled up on the dog’s white stomach, both fast asleep.

          We joke that the cat doesn’t know he is a cat because he was raised by a dog. For months after the dog died he would go back to the room he slept in and look for him.

          The 3 cats we’ve rescued since all know him as The Ambassador. He is a dog in a cat’s body. He even comes when I call him. He is genuinely confused by the 1 aggressive cat’s desire to chase and wrestle with him, but obliges anyway. When we adopted an older, female cat who is very grumpy, he was the first person she warmed to. Every morning when I read the AM links on this blog, he is in my lap.

          I never used to be an animal person. My wife converted me.

          Adopt rescues. You make their lives better. They make your life better, too.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        My brother and I, too, have adopted our dog from a shelter.

        You’ve done a great thing.

        Just one question. In the natural world, aren’t harsh or threatening sounds something animals encounter all the time?

        And is a firm ‘no’ considered harsh?

  12. Wukchumni

    Joy Joy!

    AARP sent me another free luggage tag imploring me to join their coterie, but when does the round trip ticket to somewhere show up, that will allow me to use said tag?

    1. ambrit

      This being AARP, just wait until you pass some shady age threshold and they start sending you tastefully decorated toe tags!
      “Be prepared for that Big Trip with AARPS co-branded ‘Individually Sized Containerized Cargo Units!'”

      1. James Graham

        Here’s good news: if you live long enough they will ignore you.

        I’m approaching the big nine-zero and haven’t had any AARP mail for a couple of years.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Exclusive: Iran-based political influence operation – bigger, persistent, global”

    Yawn! Is it time to be afraid of Iran yet? Very, very afraid? How about we change the headline around a bit.

    ‘Exclusive: Iran-based political influence videos – bigger, longer, uncut.’

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The HRC and Jeb statuses as front runners really do indicate the very old are the only ones in the U.S. government. Russia and Iran. 1991 and 1979. Yeesh, who cares? Next fall, we will get our first crop of soldiers ready for deployment to Afghanistan who weren’t even alive during 9/11.

      We are dealing with an establishment that is both old and very conservative which I would say means they have no capacity for creativity. Only old villains fit their world. Its probably why we get so many remakes out of Hollywood.

      1. nippersdad

        Too true. I have often thought that only a former Goldwater Girl could have come up with a neo-McCarthyite red scare. While it doesn’t surprise me much that she and her good friend Henry Kissinger would think it was a great idea, I have been shocked to see how much mileage they have gotten out of it.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Its not breeding a new generation. Their largest asset is the absence of a credible movement to take power. Sanders is just Bernie Sanders, not the head of a credible political movement. Credible in politics suggests they’ve been organized for multiple years and withstood a cycle. It looks like it could be the case, but we are dealing with individuals not the Bernie bloc which gives the Clintons power.

          They should have been removed by Obama over time, but he was just another DLC style Democrat with a slightly different pitch. He certainly disrupted the organizing efforts against the Clintons and their style of politics and invited them back with the notable promotion of Rahm Emmanuel.

          The Clinton machine pulled out every stop for that guy Congressional candidate (I can’t even remember his name anymore), but he didn’t bring in new voters and proceeded to lose.

        2. Carolinian

          But then there is the theory that Kissinger is telling Trump to be nice to Russia in order to block China.

          Main takeaway–this guy is still around?

          1. pjay

            I don’t disagree with any of the above comments, but they all seem to miss the crucial point about the Iran influence story — which is that a “Reuters analysis” supposedly uncovered this vast propaganda network, with the useful assistance of “U.S.-based cyber security firm FireEye Inc and Israeli firm ClearSky” and Ben Nimmo of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab! As the article makes clear, this is intended as a contribution to the Facebook-Twitter-Google-etc.,etc. “fake news” war. A few weeks ago Reuters was central in the widespread dissemination of the story about China’s “massive internment camps” for Uighurs. On the latter “story”, see:


            Reuters as another brick in the wall (of disinformation) – that’s the key point in my view.

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            China has been on the minds of the neocons for a long time. Brzezinki railed about it.

            The Middle Kingdom (I don’t go for 18th, 19th century rise of the nation states political theory) has two problems. One, its an insular empire. Its foreign to its neighbors. The other is its so large, neighbors need to be anti-Chinese to survive.

            Russia solves China’s problems. Its a large country, large enough to not need China or the U.S., but not large enough to simply dominate by existing. It straddles East and West. Its a bridge for China.

            Kissinger is smarter than the average neocon. Kissinger’s lesser spawn only know hammers. Of course, they might fear a Russian integrated Europe. At that point, Europe won’t need the U.S. Not being particularly clever and crediting themselves for the collapse of the USSR, the neocons can’t let go of the idea of managing smaller states dependent on the U.S. but fearful of China or India which has similar problems to China, it already expanded to its natural limit. Kissinger recognizes that Russia and China can’t be kept down forever. Those countries are natural powers based on geographical needs.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              One, its an insular empire. Its foreign to its neighbors.

              In a sense, every country is foreign to its neighbors.

              On the other hand, China’s neighbors had, for centuries, adopting Chinese culture and political institutions.

              Japan, Korea and Vietnam all used to use the Chinese written language, and their governments set up similar to China’s.

              In that sense, China is less foreign to her neighbors than many others.

              1. Wukchumni

                We share the same deity as all of our neighbors to the south of us, and yet for some reason, the adherents to the faith down under aren’t worthy of being called anything other than ‘illegals’ by many here of the same dogma-adjacent.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Moreover, a lot of us would be illegal there down too, if not now, in the future perhaps.

                  The popular suggestion is for Americans to not shout too loud, drink too much, smoke too much, party too much, expose too much skin (all things we take for granted), and obtain a visa/carry a passport when we go.

                  There is also a stereotypical suggestion of not asking for Mexican police for help when in trouble there. When I first read that, I was doubtful.

                2. tegnost

                  They’re not illegal when they are in their home country are they? They are only illegal if they come here undocumented, and if they are undocumented then that’s what they are, just as if I moved surreptitiously to mexico I would be an illegal immigrant. I can’t go work in mexico. And only some people share deities, not all. Religion has exactly what to do with it? Other than the fact that catholic latin americans are likely to be pretty conservative. You have priors regarding the california requirement of cheap labor to provide the wealthy cash for more vacations, the preaching notwithstanding..

                  1. Wukchumni

                    The largely old (average age 45) and largely Mexican-American field workers in the Central Valley are to be celebrated for their expertise, and currently are being rewarded on account of fewer and fewer replacement workers wanting to do the hard work, er that would be younger Mexican-Americans.

                    What happens when 300 million fruit & nut trees have nobody to tend them?

      2. polecat

        They aren’t conservative at all. They are cynical jackles .. spread liberally around the outskirts of the herd !

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          They are conservative. They rely on old styles of campaigns are deferential to authority. “Campaign to the left in the primaries and move to the center. Its smart politics.” They were loud and proud about this nonsense. They might thieves, but conservatism is their natural place. Thinking outside the DLC mantras is frightening to them.

          If they were cynical jackals, they probably would have won. They are still thieves, but cycnicsm requires a certain amount of questioning which is beyond their capacity.

  14. Clive

    Re: Amazon Awfulness

    Here in the U.K. Amazon don’t even bother turning up (sending counsel) to employment lawsuits. Here the judge entered a finding against Amazon on all counts (including race and disability discrimination).

    Could be that Amazon is so disorganised and incompetent they didn’t realise they were being sued. Which shows they can’t even run an HR department properly. Either that, or they figured the case against them was so bad, if they didn’t enter a rebuttal plea, all the record would show is the judgement against them in absentia.

    What a lovely place to work.

    I’ll be sure to read the judgement from the remedy hearing. Hopefully the judge will also uplift the compensation to the employee because of Amazon’s shoddy conduct. Damages for both race and disability discrimination are unlimited here. £50-100k is typical (c. $80~120,000). Which will I hope go some way towards recompensing the former Amazon worker for the misery Amazon inflicted in them.

    1. Steely Glint

      I struggled with Amazon yesterday trying to order a sympathy bouquet for an Aunt. Her funeral will be in a very small rural town. I was surprised, after google search, to find a florist in the town, & they even had a web site! Turns out it was Amazon, and after about a half-hour answering various questions, was informed the address for church delivery was wrong (it wasn’t). I contacted the funeral home, and was given the name & phone # for a florist in a nearby town, went to their web site & saw Amazon once again. I called the number for the florist & talked to a human. He was very appreciative of me calling directly, and told me how much he lost through Amazon. I took all of 10 minutes to place an order with a human.

    2. tegnost

      The latest here in the PNW that I heard on the radio yesterday is amazon seeking “personal shoppers” in interbay…that would be a whole foods market…where they offer “A FREE ORCA CARD” as their big bene…so now bezos is planning to fill up the metro buses with his task rabbits in the same way uber is making traffic worse by having the rabbits increasing the congestion. Knowing how big tech feels about public transport (they think it’s lost profits for uber, among other things) the irony here is thick, but as is always the case, there’s another, better, irony…that bezos et al realize that public transport is cheaper, and bezos literally would probably die without his gravy. Sales tax revenue is amazon profit, of course they now pay sales tax as a barrier to competition (free market…that’s a joke right?) and now flooding the buses (unfortunately the main consumers in our society love amazon and wouldn’t board a bus because “dirty homeless people”, but they’ll be fine ruining public transport for those of us who appreciate it in order to impose their preferred future). Amazon, the most evil corp, $h!tty employer, deep state grifter (AWS), cia enabler, mass polluter (how many people do you know with a floor to ceiling pile of empty amazon boxes?) Please leave seattle bezos. Go Away. And take all your money and your morons with you. You won’t be missed, and wherever you go, they’ll hate you there, too.

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      I await with deep trepidation the upcoming merger of Amazon’s Createspace on-demand printing arm with the Kindle ebook function. It’s been in the works for most of the last year, with annoying popups appearing after one submitted an ebook demanding one let them create a paperback for one.

      Apparently, one has the option of manually migrating one’s Createspace catalog to the new KEP. I have almost 200 titles there, so won’t be doing that anytime soon. However, given I’ve had one headache after another since this thing started, I worry I may end up having to replace all the files myself at some point anyway. And don’t even get me started on what passes for assistance—it’s clearly parked overseas and employs people who have a limited script and no understanding of the printing process or preparation thereof. Referrals to some higher level of expertise go nowhere.

      1. crittermom

        “…it’s clearly parked overseas and employs people who have a limited script and no understanding…”

        Don’t even mention ‘overseas’ to me.

        I first applied for one of the ‘govt cell phones’ back in June by sending in my ‘proof of poorness’ they requested.

        It took them 5 weeks to reject me, during which time I spoke numerous times with them (in the Philippines, it turns out, as my request to speak with someone in the US was denied. It’s a US govt program! Grrrrr).

        Lo & behold, I got the paperwork a week ago to send in for my phone.
        I once again sent proof they’d requested & sat back to wait.

        Today I once again received that same paperwork (with my same application #), to send in. *heavy sigh*

        Since it’s a prepaid return envelope I’ll once again provide proof & send it off. (This will be the fourth time I’ve sent proof now).

        I’ve never even wanted a cell phone & have lived fine without one, but with my 32 yr old vehicle still having to take me to the big city for Drs appts (80+ miles each way) & needing further repairs, I thought it wise to have one in case I break down (I have towing).

        I’m already so frustrated by this entire endeavor, if I’m in a foul mood when (if) it does finally arrive, I may just be tempted to use it for target practice, instead. Especially if I must accept a ‘smartphone’ over a flip-phone.

  15. Wukchumni

    Goooooood Mooooorning Fiatnam!

    It’d been a long time since we got involved in the conflict and despite gains on many bubble fronts, love of lucre was fading back in the world, so a policy termed ‘Fiatnamization’ was approved, with withdrawal slips filled out and transfer of interest, a Débtente.

    When Nixon was asked about this on the campaign trail, she related that it was all Cuomo’s fault.

  16. tricia

    re Five years in, China’s Belt and Road looks like a giant debt trap

    This “China debt trap” message aggressively being pushed now seems an awful lot like US propaganda, with the BRI such a big threat to its hegemony.
    And, gee, I wonder if Malaysia’s cancellation could have anything to do with Pompeo’s meeting with Mahathir earlier this month??

    1. Mel

      There’s a possible outcome that it winds up like the EU, with one big manufacturer/exporter, plus a bunch of consumers with no way to earn money to spend. Interesting to see how they avoid this, and they really should.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Would be more diverse, if it were Many Belts, Many Roads, Many Nodes (not just one central one).

      The current name sounds ominously dominating.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      Its not propoganda, this is exactly how the Belt and Road works – its been obvious from the very beginning that it is structured to allow the Chinese take long term control of key infrastructure once the borrowers default. Its a very old trick long used by powerful countries to expand their influence.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        John Perkins wrote about this model in “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” and “Secret History of the American Empire”

        Beware ships of a great empire that comes bearing gifts.

        China, as usual, a few decades behind the times

  17. a different chris

    I like how other countries, esp. China – which is quite famous for regularly withdrawing from the world – are always “challenging” the US in whatever.

    Maybe they are just, quite logically, upping their defense as they now can. Or some sideways version of the whole thing that I, as a Westerner, would not have much of a grasp on. The culture is, to say the least, not the same.

    But no, they have to be “challenging” us. On their own doorstep. The nerve. OK, sure, sign me up for another 50k of debt.*

    *I believe in MMT, but the part about real resources is key. Another and another and another aircraft carrier, seems at some point it’s gotta come out of something else.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      China famously withdrew from the wider world after adm. Zheng He’s ‘treasure boat’ voyages, purportedly due to protests by Confucians who thought they wasteful.

      Even while they did that, the Ming empire maintained their hegemony over Manchuria, Vietnam, Korea, and other nearby nations that constituted their ‘known world’ (vs. the wider world we know today).

      More recently the are challenging the US in the South China Sea, as well as challenging the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the other claimant of the Chinese sovereignty, the Republic of China, in the same area.

      And they are challenging India and other SE Asian countries by damming all the rivers flowing from the Tibetan Plateau.

      1. a different chris

        >And they are challenging India and other SE Asian countries by damming all the rivers flowing from the Tibetan Plateau.

        *This* is an issue. The rest of the stuff, I don’t know what exactly somebody is actually “challenging” by floating by in a boat. Are they docking and loading up with “tribute” to take back to Bejing??? That would be news to me. Are they telling you that being militarily aggressive won’t work out well for you? We could use more of that in the world.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I would the South China Sea situation is a challenging one for the countries mentioned, with the position taken by China.

      2. a different chris

        ….maybe we are having a language barrier here… “Challenging” means actually asking you to come out and fight/race/bet whatever, at least here in Western Pennsylvania. And the person making the challenge generally expects some fruits to result from their expected victory – the girl, some money, etc.

        Does China want to “own” Vietnam? Not sure in the “run your government” sense, of course they want all the money they can get. But the Japanese have the same attitude towards the US, and we don’t ever say Japan is “challenging” the US itself.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I just read ‘challenging’ in the usual sense of the word, like this:


          testing one’s abilities; demanding.
          “challenging and rewarding employment”

          synonyms: demanding, testing, taxing, exacting; More

          inviting competition; provocative.
          “there was a challenging glint in his eyes”

          synonyms: dare, summon, throw down the gauntlet to
          “he challenged one of my men to a duel”

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          And this (more relevant):

          invite (someone) to engage in a contest.
          “he challenged one of my men to a duel”
          dispute the truth or validity of.
          “employees challenged the company’s requirement”

          synonyms: question, disagree with, dispute, take issue with, protest against, call into question, object to
          “we challenged their statistics”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Ironically, a few decades after China stopping sending out her treasure boats, the Europeans landed in the New World and rounded the Cape of Good Hope to arrive at China’s front door step.

      And it has been downhill for the Middle Kingdom ever since.

      “Fool us once…”

      With the long history of dominating her known world, positioning herself in the center of it, many in Beijing consider that a lesson learned…what could have been, might have been, had it continued after 1433.

  18. Wukchumni

    My spidey senses told me shit was about to go down in 2007 and I reacted as if the whole house of cards was going to come undone and told friends and family my thoughts-none of which had any bearing as they all did precisely nothing, and was initially rewarded for my precaution quite handsomely, but I hadn’t figured on the great re-bubbling in particular with homes, as i’d witnessed in previous housing bubbles in L.A. (the City of Angles had it’s first housing bubble in the 1880’s, and staging of the era included pinning oranges onto non citrus trees, so as to upsell properties) that once a bubble burst, domiciles were like so much kryptonite to what were super men and women making money selling used houses to one another.

    My spidey senses are currently tingling up the ying yang, but it’s not just of a financial nature, but also human nature in our current guise, where our President just incited his main constituency to counter imagined violence, with the genuine article.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I’ve been waiting a long time for sanity to return to housing and property prices. I think I might have to wait until the next financial collapse — which may not be a long wait. I don’t have any spidey senses — wish I did. I have felt a deep and growing foreboding for several decades. Ignoring our President’s incitements I too feel a welling of discontent and desperation ready to explode in unhappy events. I believe the many recent mass shooting incidents, which seem increasingly common, gauge this rising madness. I still can’t move yet but I have long felt a strong drive to find a place much farther from our big cities.

    1. Jack Parsons

      In Czech, a “kafka”. Yes, Franz was named after a bird.

      If you hurt a jackdaw, it will tell its friends about you and they will all harass you. You might as well get plastic surgery and move to Brazil.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Big Tech’s Newest Experiment in Criminal-Justice Reform”

    What is so radical about this? There must be at a minimum tens of thousands of Americans that work for US corporation inside of prisons and this is just using some of them on the outside. Prison labour is actually a billion dollar industry and I have read, as an example, of a manufacturing plant close down in town throwing their workers out of a job only to reopen in the neighbouring prison.
    Some of the stuff they have made or done includes protective military gear and uniforms, Patriot missiles, police gear, McDonalds uniforms, Microsoft software packaging, Honda car parts, Victoria’s Secret lingerie, dentures, JCPenney’s blue jeans, Call centers, Starbucks packaging and meat processing. More on these items at-

    1. Odysseus

      Illinois Prison Labor is a preferred provider by law.

      (30 ILCS 500/45-30)
      Sec. 45-30. Illinois Correctional Industries. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in other law, each chief procurement officer appointed pursuant to Section 10-20 shall, in consultation with Illinois Correctional Industries, a division of the Illinois Department of Corrections (referred to as the “Illinois Correctional Industries” or “ICI”) determine for all State agencies under their respective jurisdictions which articles, materials, industry related services, food stuffs, and finished goods that are produced or manufactured by persons confined in institutions and facilities of the Department of Corrections who are participating in Illinois Correctional Industries programs shall be purchased from Illinois Correctional Industries. Each chief procurement officer appointed pursuant to Section 10-20 shall develop and distribute to the appropriate purchasing and using agencies a listing of all Illinois Correctional Industries products and procedures for implementing this Section.
      (Source: P.A. 100-43, eff. 8-9-17.)

  20. dcblogger

    Trump warns evangelicals of ‘violence’ if GOP loses in the midterms

    Conservatives always project what they plan to do on liberals. So if Democrats retake the House, especially if they retake the Senate, expect violence. Those of us who believe in non-violence need to work out an effective response that does not involve more violence.

    1. nippersdad

      Speaking as a liberal in the reddest part of the sticks, I have found that ignoring them works well. Violence isn’t necessary when all one need do is tell them how ridiculous they sound; that maybe they just need to have a sandwich and take a nap. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work as well for “the resistance.”

      That just sounds like Trump being Trump. I wouldn’t lose much sleep over it.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Unfortunately, violence is associated with humans, and in politics, with all sides, if not always manifested, so that, for example, India was non-violent before independence, but violence ensued afterwards, and today, she is a nuclear power with the threat of nuclear violence, in order to prevent it.

      And immediately after the 2016 election, there was indeed violence. So, we should be worried that and pray (not sure to whom) that it wont’ happen, or it’s minimal.

      1. Wukchumni

        Perhaps the last time peaceful Americans were informed that their fellow citizens were capable of violence towards one another was on that day in 1861 @ Fort Sumter.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          To a plant, or an animal, all humans are alike, regardless of nationality.

          When they see one coming, if they can (hard for plants), they run away.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I didn’t know that…perhaps because I have never run into one.

              Now that I have thought about it a little more, in fact, lions don’t run away from humans.

              1. Wukchumni

                We were bored and had a contest last week to see how close any of us could get to a marmot by inching closer to it, as it was drinking a snappy cocktail consisting of dirt mixed with expired precious bodily fluid, and the closest anybody got was 2 feet away.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Again, I have no idea but is that cocktail something they like, or are we talking animal cruelty here?

                  1. Wukchumni

                    It’s all about our salt intake and out-take on the other end. Deer & marmots can’t get enough of us, emission accomplished.

    3. WheresOurTeddy

      I’ve got only one entrance and exit to my property which leads to a long driveway visible from the house. I am quite a good shot.

      Aspiring fascists in rural northern California: Don’t let anything but fear stop you.

  21. Alex

    Re Ukraine, both Atlantic and Telegraph pieces are correct, there are neo-Nazis on Ukrainian side and far-right paramilitaries on the Russian one

  22. Wukchumni

    In my vision of the future where abortion is outlawed on account of every sperm being sacred, American women with a bun in the oven will be offered free delivery as long as their bundles of joy are delivered within a 24 time frame on Labor Day, announced President Pence in focusing on the family.

    Getting the initial timing will be the trickiest part in December, with insurance companies offering odds on dates bracketing the winning entry, should the coming out party be delayed on account of lack of rain, er water breaking.

  23. allan

    Getting to Know White Voters [Amy Walter @Cook Political Report]

    There are LOTS of opinions and narratives out there about white voters. …

    Most of these narratives are built on data supplied by the 2016 exit polls and the “education level” cross-tabs in current polling. However, new data and analysis of the 2016 vote suggest that many of these assumptions are worth reassessing. …

    … analysis leads to two conclusions. First, stop assuming that all white, non-college voters are core Trump supporters. Trump’s base is evangelical white voters, regardless of education level. Second, white non-evangelical, non-college women are the ultimate swing voters.

    1. Wukchumni

      Our citizenry was implored to go out and get as armed as possible the past decade against an unquenchable foe, us.

      Why should the plot not continue to it’s eventual conclusion?

  24. Paul O

    Wasted time commuting! No, this is often my favorite time of the day. There are more fantastic audio books and lectures than I could ever tire of.

    Appreciate it must be a toil for many though.

    1. Enquiring Mind

      I looked at the wasted time component as whatever was longer than the typical commute and on any disruptions. The time driving to and fro was a transitional period akin to warming up and down before and after the gym, but with better music. YMMV

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      Now I almost had a heart attack
      Looking in my rear view mirror
      I saw myself the next car back
      Looking in the rear view mirror
      ’bout to have a heart attack
      I said,

      Damn this traffic jam
      How I hate to be late
      It hurts my motor to go so slow
      Damn this traffic jam
      Time I get home my supper’ll be cold
      Damn this traffic jam…

      Now I used to think that I was cool
      Running around on fossil fuel
      Until I saw what I was doing
      Was driving down the road to ruin

      Traffic Jam

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      Sorry! I just can’t get that ‘Happy Face’ to stick to a long commute. I listen to audiobooks but that is a pale consolation for the lost time and wasted energy of a long commute. I much prefer to listen to lectures and audiobooks in the comfort of my home. And you forgot to mention the heart stopping moments of thrills and excitement driving with hurrying immortals who believe they share driving skills with the best movie stunt drivers.

  25. Wukchumni

    I heard on the radio that some UN building in Europe was considering renaming it the “John McCain something or another” and I threw up a little in my mouth, but being the perfect gentleman, I swallowed it back whole and banished the report from my mind, lest I relapse.

    1. Edward E

      NATO is considering renaming the new headquarters in Brussels after him. The John McWarmonger Political Administration Center

  26. noonespecial

    Posting this for those who like to read about the F-35

    Report from Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO)

    How many engineers does it take to fix a plane? Who cares, just re-categorize the problem.

    According to the report, “POGO obtained a document showing how F-35 officials are recategorizing—rather than fixing—major design flaws to be able to claim they have completed the program’s development phase without having to pay overruns for badly needed fixes…A copy of the minutes from the F-35 Deficiency Review Board’s June 4, 2018 meeting, obtained by POGO, shows that the Board downgraded 19 serious (Category I) deficiencies to the less-serious Category II, including 10 with no plan in place to correct the known design flaws.”

    Also, the article includes a link to this nugget: “POGO also obtained a copy of the Pentagon’s previously unreleased plan to control costs that shows the proposed savings may quickly be overwhelmed by the program’s rising costs.” One item for the ledger under “rising costs” can be attributed to this, “The April 2018 contract awarded to Lockheed Martin just for its piece of sustaining the services existing F-35 fleet..[is]… $1.4 billion for one year”.

  27. The Rev Kev

    “Mike Pence dumped his college fiancee for being a ‘sinner’ and narced on his beer-drinking frat bros: report”

    I think that Mike Pence’s fiance dodged a very large caliber bullet there.

      1. Wukchumni

        The narc for the National Park lived with us for a few years, his primary mission was to find gardens that Mexican DTO’s had planted, mostly in the near back of beyond. Occasionally he’d moonlight in watching for behavior out of bounds among rank & file folks partaking of Federally prohibited plants in the NP, but not that much. Rooting out the cartels was job #1.

        Sooner or later every LEO goes and has the plug inserted @ FLETC in Brunswick, Ga. and he was no exception, except he is a critical thinker and told me the multitude of monitors in the chow hall there were always tuned to Fox News with no exception.

        He also thought that the crime rate in the surrounding community there in Georgia was double or potentially triple that of what goes on in Tulare County, he couldn’t believe it.

        1. Wukchumni


          Interesting corollary of shitty crime ridden places near our academies of learning enforcement, in that when we went to West Point pre 9/11 (you could go anywhere, for the most part back then) everything was perfectly in place, cadets jogging, not a plant askew or overgrown, perfection.

          Less than 10 miles away was Newburgh NY, where we watched drug deals going down on the street in daylight, the city just screamed “even if you get a flat, just keep on driving”.

          It has a crime rate that’s many times the national norm.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That seems like his private business, though, the concern is that he extends that in his public decisions.

      On the other hand, a good bartender (saw it on a TV show, Longmire) makes sure his/her customers don’t drink and drive. Do we ask any bartender-turned-politician candidate if he or she ever failed to make sure of that, even once? Do we worry that that sort of carelessness might carry over publicly?

  28. Wukchumni

    The 17 most expensive cars sold at Pebble Beach Business Insider
    More than likely most of these are manual transmission jalopies, of which about 95% of the public has no idea how to drive.

    If you have collectibles of any sort and are counting on their value being there in the future, do yourself a favor and get rid of them ASAP if not sooner.

    If you derive great pleasure out of them, by all means keep them.

    Millennials aren’t going to want any Boomer debris, they’re already being programmed to share things and if possible not own anything. That’s a bad combo for your prized thingamajiggers.

    1. nippersdad

      Prolly right about that.

      I saw an article last month about something called “Granny Style”, and they highlighted Wedgwood jasperware. Apparently all the stuff I grew up with is no longer fashionable. Now, I have this totally irrational love for Portland blue jasperware, but have seldom been able to afford it. Now that the prices have been crashing I have been buying up everything I can find; I now have backups for my backups. I’m sealing it up in boxes and storing it in closets.

      As with jasperware, so it goes with Georgian antiques, Persian carpets, French paintings………………Bring it, Millennnials! By the time I lose my sight I may end up having the furnishings that everyone else on the block had when I was a kid. Then all I will need is the appropriate house to put it in and we’ll be able to starve in the cold darkness in style!

        1. nippersdad

          Well done! You have a way with puns.

          Yeah, I got it bad. That said…..Come on Millennials! Daddy needs a period Hepplewhite chest on chest!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Every time I see a samurai sword being auctioned, there are always many bidders.

        The same with things from their World War II Teutonic ally.

        1. Wukchumni

          You don’t really know anything about kitschy 1970’s ‘Limited Edition’ collectibles, eh?

  29. Lorenzo

    USDARS has climbed to new highs, to 40 and coins from 31,90 just yesterday morning when our President delivered a short 2 min speech that achieved the exact opposite of what it intended to. Don’t cry for us.

  30. John

    You could probably place the link about Sarah Palin not being invited to McCain’s funeral under “class warfare: rivalries among the overlords”.
    I am certain Cindy McCain considers Palin to be low class grifter trash and an appalling blemish on her husband’s record. Probably has the same assessment of Trump. It may be petty, but that is what they do. Who will Melania invite if the prenupt hasn’t run out by then?

    1. Wukchumni

      The story that I heard was the doyen requested his & hers trailers for a place to stay, and said demand was a no go.

  31. Wukchumni

    Was watching a rather cheesy movie released in 2017 last night called “Geostorm” and the gist of it was that a cabal rules the weather, which goes seriously out of control with 100 foot waves hitting Manhattan, oh the humanity!

    I watched this pile so you don’t have to, and the plot would make much better sense if in lieu of weather, say there was a cabal that ruled money, yeah that’s the ticket.

  32. Goyo Marquez

    Speaking of animal rights.
    A Facebook friend posted a video of a black cowboys rodeo.
    Facebook wouldn’t let me see the content but covers it with a message that said:
    This video may show violent or graphic content.

    Hmmmm guess which group was behind that?

    1. tegnost

      In a similar vein world surf league went from the best sports website last year to the worst this year by requiring signing into facebook to watch. Not that important to me.

  33. Andrew Watts

    RE: Donald Trump: China ‘not helpful’ with North Korea

    China is doing exactly what I predicted they’d do which is relaxing sanctions without openly defying the UN so they don’t alienate North Korea. It won’t be long before the South Koreans actively undermine them as well.

    I don’t know where exactly the idea that Chinese influence over Kim would somehow force the North Koreans to surrender their nukes but it’s a particularly stupid one. The North Koreans will only give up their nukes when their security is guaranteed by the US through a peace treaty. It seems like the major obstacle to this plan is the Pentagon who is afraid they’ll lose their bases in Korea.

    That’s making a huge assumption that the South Koreans can’t convince their brethren that US bases and/or military presence wouldn’t serve as a balancing force to counter Chinese influence on the Korean peninsula.

  34. anon

    Re: California Crew Clearing Homeless Camp Kills Sleeping Woman Associated Press

    what to say, other than venal and gut wrenching. The poor person[s] following orders — in order to honorably pay basic bills without cheating, or profiteering from, another person[s] — and operating the machinery, will likely never recover from finding her body; and/or discovering they accidentally killed her while sleeping.

    At her young 33 years of age, so much for the highly taunted, for over a decade now: Fifty years old is the new Thirty in the US; when, obviously for millions of average citizens, 30 and over is the new ninety years old and need to disappear once all the rentiering money has been utterly sucked dry. And those persons are so heavily surveilled (while the obscenely wealthy can nip much of that surveilling in the bud), that they can no longer recover from the most simple of errors and mistakes in life, let alone correct and recover from utterly incorrect databases on them.

  35. bones

    I finally got around to reading the New Yorker hit piece on Greenwald, and it’s disgusting. The warped sense of reality that establishment liberals currently have can be judged by two incorrect statements presented as facts.

    Exhibit A: The writer presents as fact that Corbyn’s “record provides some evidence of anti-semitism.” This is just plainly not factual. “Repeat it enough,” as they say.

    Exhibit B: The writer suggests that Borris Johnson did not attempt to mislead the public when he incorrectly stated that scientist had attributed a Russian origin of the Novichock used on the Skirpals. “Johnson’s remarks were inexact, but he almost surely wasn’t being deceitful.” That’s like saying that the Bush administration’s Iraq WMD claims were inexact but not mistruthful.

    Greenwald is apparently a fanatic because he doesn’t accept these sorts of facts. It makes me feel crazy reading this nonsense.

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