Links 9/21/18

A 73-year-old Texas mayor killed a huge alligator she thinks ate her miniature horse WaPo. So there’s hope.

Raccoons bust into Toronto woman’s home, stare her down while defiantly eating her bread The Star

A sudden end-Permian mass extinction in South China GSA Bulletin. “Fossil range data suggest a nearly instantaneous extinction at the top of a narrow stratigraphic interval limited to 31 ± 31 [thousand years].”

Richard Costigan – Exemplar of What’s Wrong with the CalPERS Board Tony Butka, City Watch. Butka seems to have checked his “California cool” at the door. Refreshing!

HSBC rocked by claim of investment bank’s ‘failure’ FT

Report on the Non-Resident Portfolio at Danske Bank’s Estonian Branch (PDF) Bruun & Hjejle. From the Executive Summary: “For a long time, it was believed within Group that the high risk represented by nonresident customers in the Estonian branch was mitigated by appropriate anti-money laundering (‘AML’) procedures.” Hilarity ensues.

Wells Fargo to cut 10 percent of workforce over next 3 years Associated Press

Amazon Wants Alexa to Hear Your Whispers and Frustration Wired

A tiny, beleaguered government agency seeks an energy holy grail: long-term energy storage Vox


EU ambushes May over Brexit plan FT. “Theresa May was ambushed by EU leaders at a summit on Thursday, as they warned that her economic plan for Brexit ‘will not work’ and gave her four weeks to save the exit talks.” No pressure.

Chequers goes pop: Theresa May’s Salzburg catastrophe The Spectator

Corbyn Now LRB

Is the “deep state” trying to undermine Corbyn? New Statesman

SYRIZA: A Cautionary Tale New Socialist

Between Charity and Justice: Remarks on the Social Construction of Immigration Policy in Rich Democracies (PDF) Wolfgang Streeck, Culture, Practice & Europeanization (witters).


An Unending U.S. War in Syria? The National Interest

The Shoot Down of the Russian IL-20: Who’s Responsible? Sic Semper Tyrannis

Top U.S. Diplomat Backed Continuing Support for Saudi War in Yemen Over Objections of Staff WSJ

Upending the Orientalist Logic of “Honor Killings” Fellow Travelers

Pakistan invites Saudi Arabia to join China-led project Asia Times


China’s Sea Control Is a Done Deal, ‘Short of War With the U.S.’ NYT

The decline and fall of Chinese Buddhism: how modern politics and fast money corrupted an ancient religion South China Morning Post

Why Japan’s First Submarine Visit to Vietnam Matters The Diplomat

Jokowi imposes moratorium on palm oil plantations Jakarta Post. Big if true.

New Cold War

Trump to address Skripal poisoning case at UN Security Council meeting TASS

US changes course to allow Russian surveillance flyover CNN. The Open Skies treaty.

‘Fort Trump’: US considers permanent base in Poland Military Times

NYT Admits That Its “Mountain of Evidence” For Russian Collusion Is Smaller Than A Molehill Moon of Alabama

Trump Transition

Christine Blasey Ford willing to testify on Kavanaugh allegations under ‘fair’ conditions USA Today

They Oversaw Sex Crime Cases, Now They’ll Grill Kavanaugh Daily Beast. Harris 2020!

Will what happened at Georgetown Prep stay there? Associated Press and It Will Not End Well For Christine Margaret Blasey by Publius Tacitus Sic Semper Tyrannis. On the milieu, which sounds horrid.

‘No accident’ Brett Kavanaugh’s female law clerks ‘looked like models’, Yale professor told students Guardian. “Tiger Mom” Amy Chua (!).

Is there a Kavanaugh doppelganger? WaPo. By Betteridge’s Law, no.

* * *

Right to remain Anonymous: Scholar who unmasked “Primary Colors” on authorship of Times op-ed Salon (Furzy Mouse). Read all the way to the end.

Democrats in Disarray

The banking industry is spending big on red-state Democrats in 2018 Vox. Thank you for your service.

Health Care

Sloan Kettering’s Cozy Deal With Start-Up Ignites a New Uproar NYT

The Crash Ten Years After

The world has not learned the lessons of the financial crisis The Economist

‘Neither a borrower nor a lender be’: How the sterling money markets dried up Bank Underground

Excuse Me? Credit Slips

Class Warfare

Further evidence that the tax cuts have not led to widespread bonuses, wage or compensation growth Economic Policy Institute

Three Lessons of Occupy Wall Street, With a Fair Dose of Memory Counterpunch

Too Hot for Work? The Nation

The Printed Word in Peril Harpers

Your gut is directly connected to your brain, by a newly discovered neuron circuit Science

What ‘The Big Lebowski’ taught me about style FT. “Hey, nice marmot!”

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Eudora Welty

    Re: Anonymous Op Ed authorship & Gen. Mattis.

    I watched the McCain funeral events on C-Span, so it was lacking anchorperson commentary. I was astounded to see Kelly & Mattis accompany the widow to the Vietnam Memorial. I later read a comment somewhere, “Trump told them to do it so he could save face,” and maybe that’s true. But it felt like an open-air act of insubordination. An opening salvo, particularly around Trumps’s lack of respect for conventional wisdom in global matters. I seriously doubt that Mattis was unaware of Woodward’s book or its tone/ slant. They all knew it was coming out, afaiac. Everything was timed to produce a barrage (except McCain’s dying, but very convenient).

    And then that Oval Office photo of Trrump, Pence, & Kelly with print-out maps of Hurricane Florence that looked staged, & with Pence & Kelly appearing disengaged: how crazy was that?

    I both dread reading the latest news, & I am totally fascinated by all this turmoil.

  2. Wukchumni

    ‘You pulled a gun in front of my kids over a mattress,’ the man said. Then he was shot dead.

    This is how many hand cannon murders happen i’d guess, the perp & the victim knew each other, and the dispute was over, well, how shall we say it, nothing.

    It’s an everyday occurrence in these not so United States, but seldom if ever with the accompaniment of video showing the ratcheting of rhetoric leading to lead poisoning, just about every other word bleeped out in reprise for our ears & eyes, as they had plum run out of polite ones to curse each other, all over a dirty mattress in an alley.

    1. Jean

      Never bring a big mouth to a gunfight.
      He who swings first pays the price.
      You can stand your ground in a public place.

    1. Wukchumni

      I mostly enjoy encounters with the Marmot Cong, and they were easy on cars in the trailhead parking lots in Mineral King this summer, with only 1 vehicle disabled, versus 4 last year.

  3. Jim A.

    I don’t think that the banking industry giving money to Democrats is so much “Thank you for your business,” as it is that they can see the writing on the wall and want to make sure that after the Blue wave they will still be able to call and have their congressmen hop to attention. At this point there is little difference in policy between the two parties, at least when it comes to old fashioned, large banks.* So the bankers don’t care which flag their congressmen are waving, so long as they march where they are told to.

    * There does appear to be at least a sliver of daylight between the parties when it comes pay day lenders and particularly egregious shaft the consumer businesses that AREN’T tied directly to traditional finance.

    1. In the Land of Farmers

      I grilled some democrats stumping for Jon Tester here in Missoula just yesterday over his Republican-Lite platform and voting record (banking and defense). One guy kept up the line but the other showed a semblance of shame on his face, So I told them I was a progressive voting Republican because I would rather vote for a horrible person who told the truth than a horrible person who lied to me. i ended by telling them they are why Trump is in office. It was fun, you all should try it.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Or taking the hit now for benefits later (delayed gratification, I think they call it).

          For example, if you think that a functioning Democrat Party is the only possibly bulwark against the country’s slow slide into authoritarianism, then using the only leverage you have against incumbents could make sense.

          1. In the Land of Farmers

            The ends justify the means? No thanks. I don’t like war which is why I did not vote for Hillary and will not vote for Tester. Eight years of Obama did not lead to much gratification. I just cannot see how the Democrats are not authoritarian. Less so? Maybe, but I think they exhibit a soft authoritarianism. So not less, just different.

            If you vote for a Democrat because the “Republican is worse”, guess who is controlling your vote? The Republican! And the DNC is not functioning. Well it is functioning but not at the interest of the people.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A lying horrible person is also forced to appear virtuous, in this day and age, so that the good guys can continue to apply pressure on the moral front on those openly horrible persons.

        And to avoid becoming a friendly fire casualty, faking is again necessary, as the battle against those morally inferior opponents continues.

    2. Procopius

      Do you mean the Democrats are more helpful to payday lenders than Republicans? I agree, that’s the way it looks to me. Both are pretty much the same when it comes to banks.

  4. Jim A.

    Re: your gut connected to your brain.

    The human gut is lined with more than 100 million nerve cells—it’s practically a brain unto itself.

    Not really a brain, but it IS a separate nervous system. The enteric nervous system is what controls your gut while your central nervous system is what you use to control your limbs.

    1. diptherio

      Wasn’t it the ancient Greeks who believed that thought came from the abdomen? I seem to recall something like that.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The Japanese honor-killing-of-oneself, seppuku, is to cut open the abdomen.

          I wonder if that is connected to the discussion here.

          1. Procopius

            I read somewhere the original reason for abdominal stabbing was because it was recognized as the most painful death possible. That demonstrated that the person killing himself accepted the worst possible punishment in atonement for the offense he had committed. It was also why every person committing seppuku had a friend standing by to cut his head off as soon as he had stabbed himself.

    2. Jean

      Try dumping some GMOs into your other brain and see what happens. Sort of like dumping drugs into your topside brain. It ain’t healthy.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe Trump, based on his deals with Saudi Arabia, is hoping that China will cancel the order for Russian Su-35 combat aircraft and S-400 surface-to-air missile system-related equipment and instead place an order for American F-35 combat aircraft and Patriot missile-system batteries. An order like that would be worth hundreds of billions for the US arms industry and that is what Trump seems to care about most.

        1. Wukchumni

          The Chinese have already got the F-35, via the traditional cheap method of espionage and copycatting…

          An updated Trojan Horse, but instead of having men hidden inside, we’ve hid failure all over.

          1. Procopius

            Sounds like an espionage success for the U.S. By copying the F-35 the Chinese will be wasting hundreds of billions of dollars. Or maybe they came to realize that and that’s the reason for them buying Su-35s.

        2. The Rev Kev

          I read about that. It was hilarious. The Chinese got the blueprints for the F-35 and examined it thoroughly. After having a good laugh, they redesigned it and removed some of the worse faults. An example is that the F-35 is a single-engine craft whereas the Shenyang J-31 is a twin-engine craft.
          Thing is, there are a lot of legacy systems on the F-35 and more modern US aircraft have newer and better systems. The Chinese seem to be experimenting with this airframe with new engines, avionics systems, etc whereas Lockheed Martin is sticking with what they are putting in the F-35. It will be interesting to see how both aircraft have developed in about ten years time.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Of course the obvious flaw with this strategy is for this to work the sanctions would have to cost more than the F-35 minus the costs from the Su-35 and S-400 costs. Then there is the cost the F-35 not working.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Why Japan’s First Submarine Visit to Vietnam Matters”

    That’s smart of the Vietnamese to have invited a submarine from Japan. That way, if China objects too much, all the Japanese have to do is blow the sub’s ballast tanks and then they are underwater. Out of sight, out of mind as they say.

  6. Brindle

    Pat Lang (Publius Tacitus…) engages in some slut-shaming—“And the word going around the halls describes Christine Margaret Blasey as a very troubled high school girl who put the “crazy” in boy crazy”

    Interesting that comments are very anti- Blasy-Ford and appear to be nearly 100% male.

    1. Carolinian

      Lang’s readers are often conservative and ex military and not the same group you’d find around here. Still his experienced views on the ME and other areas of military intervention are worth reading. In this instance he turned the mike over to a contributor.

      And yes there’s a traditional blame the victim culture but that doesn’t mean all accusations should be taken as automatically valid, particularly when the details are so vague. A knee jerk assumption that all accused harassers are guilty could be seen as just as bad as “slut shaming.”

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Its also a lesson much like Trump’s election, that you don’t base strategies on potential scandals of an opponent especially when the Dims just ran HRC who clearly embraced her husband’s legacy and cronies. She would have coasted if she ran as a distinct individual both times. The plan to defeat Kavanaugh should be based on humiliating the so called moderate Republicans and the ones welcomed into the #resistance.

        The other point is by having a practical strategy, the structures are in place to capitalize on the scandal. George Allen had 1.16 million votes in a mid term election in 2006 versus Webb’s 1.17 million votes and former Republican Senator John Warner’s 1.23 million votes when he ran unopposed in 2002. In 2014, Mark Warner had 1.07 million votes ahead of Ed Gillespie’s 1.05 million votes in 2014.

        If you told Allen how many votes he would have in 2006, I’m pretty certain he met his targets. His high profile snafu changed the tone of the race and the enthusiasm of Democratic voters who were slotted into the 50 state strategy where every congressional district had a candidate with staff and other resources. Yes, a couple were never going to win, but Webb needed every vote in those districts to win. The small blue enclaves with higher turnout made the difference.

        I expect every Republican to have some kind of problem. You can’t adhere to such a hideous philosophy and remain in good moral standing by the conventional standards. To a certain extent, scandal is built in.

        1. bronco

          you really think that somehow republican candidates are somehow morally inferior to democrat candidates? Republican or democrat is a suit of clothes they put on and take off.

          Put a trough of money in front of any one of them and they will lap it up until its gone and say whatever they need to say to keep the money coming.

          Voters that buy into either party are useful idiots. Its just virtue signalling or herd mentality , you see it in the comments here every day.

          Your dentist is a republican , does that mean you will let your teeth fall out? Your banker is a republican , will you refuse a mortgage from him that is 1% lower than the other guy?

          Wherever the rubber meets the road is where the bullshit falls apart.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            you really think that somehow republican candidates are somehow morally inferior to democrat candidates?

            No. I said Republicans ascribe to such a morally debased philosophy its only a matter of time before a scandal is exposed on each and every one of them that they will apologize for when they are caught. Most Republicans will never run for office. I don’t believe in “moderate suburban” Republicans either.

            There are people who suffer mental instability and emotional trauma who might identify as Republicans in an effort to belong to a tribe and seek social solidarity. They are the exception.

            1. Carolinian

              Sounds like you are saying they are morally inferior due to their “philosophy.”

              Maybe we should leave morality out of it and just decide whose ideas make the most sense.

              1. bronco

                It sounds like he thinks he is morally superior by virtue of not identifying as a republican LOL . That and 3 bucks will get you a cup of coffee at dunkin .

              2. NotTimothyGeithner

                Morality and politics go hand and hand. The separation of the two is impossible. Everything we do based on ideas is a moral action. Certain ideas might be more practical at the time and place. Arguments about pragmatism of an idea or what idea to implement are certainly valid, but Republicans stand for a vile survival of the fittest philosophy. Its only a matter of time before they commit an action or adhere to a particularly vile set of idea that reflect that philosophy. They’ll prostrate themselves and thank all their religious friends for taking the time to forgive them and how their Deity is so forgiving and knows they’ve changed.

                Saints are few and far between, my views might be true of everyone at some level. I’m not surprised to see scandals around Kavanaugh. He’s a long time GOP operative who embraces that ideology. We saw so many of his young Republican generation of rising stars who seem so stoic or friendly in person who just can’t shake these unseemly moral problems whether its his contemporaries of Joe Scarborough or Jack Abramoff.

                Not that I like Democratic elites. I find their supporters have been seduced by the spell of ignorance and the resultant bliss that provides, but except for the Clintons, they don’t peddle the same vile philosophy.

                1. Carolinian

                  Should I point out that the overseas interventionists are constantly appealing to morality as they “destroy the village in order to save it”? I totally disagree that politics is about morality. It’s about power, for good or ill. Morality, on the other hand, always seems to be in the eye of the beholder.

                  And yes the Repubs with their authority worship have a flawed conception of human nature but then so do the Dems with their crocodile tear Manichaeism. It’s the good of society as a whole we should be worrying about, not who is “good” or “evil.”

                  1. JCC

                    I totally disagree that politics is about morality. It’s about power, for good or ill.

                    So, in that case, are situations like the politics of the Citizens United decision that say money is speech and that essentially Corporations are equivalent to people, thus giving large Corporations control of citizen-run democracy not immoral?

                    Personally I believe that money used to heavily influence the subjugation of the majority of the citizenry,as well as promote never-ending War, are inherently immoral (as well as terrible policy). It’s pretty obvious, to me anyway, that Republican Party as a whole, as well as most of the Core Democrat Party, prefer these types of immoral policies and Court Decisions.

                  1. JTMcPhee

                    See “legalized marijuana.” Money plus power and pleasure = “change.”

                    As with gay rights —a lot of tokers and gays are conservatives (whatever that can be said to mean) and have seen the chance to remove some of the risks of their preferences — hence, suddenly legal. Now, about adultery and abortion…?

              3. Plenue

                I can kind of see where he’s coming from though. As much as we rag on the Democrats around here (and make no mistake, they thoroughly deserve it), their crime is basically that they’re center-right, Republican lites. But what then does that make the Republicans themselves?

                The GOP is comically bad. Evil, even. Name a horrible, manifestly destructive policy and it’s almost certain that the Republicans support it. They don’t even make much effort to hide how outright opposed to the well-being of the average US citizen they are.

                I’ve heard Thomas Frank comment before on what he calls a certain ‘sadism’ at the core of Republican philosophy. A uniquely belligerent and anti-human cruelty.

                Who are the people voting for this party on a regular basis, and why? The first and obvious answer is copious amounts of propaganda; TV’s permanently set to Fox News and radiowaves blanketed by angry right-wing talk. But even so, if you are one of those middle-class, suburban ‘moderate Republicans’, the ones the Dems keep trying to siphon off, how much propaganda must it take to make you not grasp that the GOP very obviously doesn’t care about you?

                There’s plenty to be said about how the Democrats keep running slick suits with empty theocratic rhetoric. But at least they don’t regularly run idiots. I remain completely in the dark as to how someone like Rick Perry ever got elected to a position of power. Or how about, holy hell, Louis Gohmert? Gohmert is literally a moron, an imbecile who shouldn’t be entrusted with running a kids lemonade stand.

                I understand in one sense how we got here, that the liberal party moved to the center and the right wing party moved further to the right. I also understand that there’s lots of shenanigans like redistricting at play here. But ultimately, tens of millions of people are still turning out on a regular basis to vote for a blatantly evil party, run by fools, that openly hates them. And I’m fundamentally baffled as to why.

                1. Carolinian

                  I suspect that if any of us suddenly had a billion dollars the evil of it all would start to recede and worries about “levelers” would come to the fore. And one reason that the Republican party endures is that many ordinary people–those middle-class, suburban ‘moderate Republicans’ (small business owners many of them)–understand this. Which is to say they don’t so much resent the fat cats as want to be fat cats themselves. Only when the system itself collapses will they give up this fantasy.

                  And, yes, the Dems are much worse because they pretend to be for ordinary people while also serving as pawns of the rich. A lot of ordinary people understand this too.

    2. Anon

      I’d argue that given how the claim appears to be quite spurious on its face, there’s reason for some skepticism. That said, there’d be a decent amount of site traffic for a complete timeline of events since I’ve lost some pieces to what I’ll call the Kavanaugh/Ford saga.

      Also, how can the FBI investigate a claim about something 3+ decades ago?

      1. prx

        The FBI has a series of public statements by Kavanaugh and his cabal to start asking questions about. Lying to them is a crime.

        In their shoes, I’d start by asking how the knowledge in the tweet below got out and why the letter with 50-whatever signatories was prepared in the fist place if he’s so sure he wasn’t there and didn’t do it.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It would seem to be routine or precautionary to have an anticipatory list of character witnesses for any important secular or religious job interview.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Or if you are preparing for Republicans’* smear campaigns.

              *or Democrats’. Writing it this, hopefully, makes it easier to read.

    3. Plenue

      Lang is useful solely for his military expertise. Outside of that…his website is not a particularly pleasant place. I avoid the comments section entirely (he has a habit of reposting worthwhile commentary from comments anyway, so there’s no big loss). His attitudes about the American Civil War are particularly fact challenged.

    4. ChrisPacific

      That’s SST for you. They are very good within their area of expertise, but on other topics like gender politics they hold roughly the views that you might expect for their demographic.

      I find them most valuable as one of several expert antidotes to the (generally awful) MSM coverage of current events in the Middle East.

  7. fresno dan

    NYT Admits That Its “Mountain of Evidence” For Russian Collusion Is Smaller Than A Molehill Moon of Alabama

    The “mountain of evidence” claimed in paragraph 5 turns out to be “no public evidence” in paragraph 183 near the end of the piece. But 99% of the readers will not walk through the whole mess and the 1% that do will likely miss the contradiction.
    Was it just yesterday, or the day before yesterday that the NYT’s sister, the Washington Post, ranted and raved about “intelligence sources” losing their lives if Trump declassifies anything. Apparently, only newspapers are wise and patriotic enough to declassify information. We must keep the proceedings of our Star Chamber ….uh, er, FISA courts under wraps so that we can spy and intimidate the right people under cover of legal authority.

  8. Carolinian

    M of A on NYT.

    The “mountain of evidence” claimed in paragraph 5 turns out to be “no public evidence” in paragraph 183 near the end of the piece. But 99% of the readers will not walk through the whole mess and the 1% that do will likely miss the contradiction.

    In previous columns Moon has pointed to NYT concessions that the Ukraine regime change was in fact a coup and that the “intelligence community consensus” on Russian interference consisted of Brennan and a few hand picked analysts.

    New NY Times slogan: all the news that’s fit to leak out between the lines.

    1. pjay

      Two more useful responses to the latest 10,000 word piece of **** by the NYT:

      The first is Van Auken’s response to the article from the WSWS. His comments on the authors are particularly relevant in my view. The latter is Stephen Cohen’s latest attempt to inject some sanity into what is left of “liberal” discourse on Putin. Thank god for Cohen’s voice-in-the-wilderness efforts!

      1. Carolinian

        The other night I watched, or partially watched, Red Sparrow which seems to be set in the present day (the source novel includes Putin) but pretends that Russia and it’s government are still indistinguishable from the old Soviet Union up to the “red” in the title. That source novel was by an ex CIA and he helped supervise the production. Since American audiences know little about Russia they are being fed the line that the Cold War never ended, that Russia wants to take over the world, that the government there trains sex workers toward that end. All of this is just an excuse to allow the audience to ogle Jennifer Lawrence who starts the movie somewhat improbably, from a physical casting standpoint, as a ballerina.

        So not only is the NYT putting out imaginary Russia reporting but H’wood is backing them up with transparently absurd story telling. But at least films have a “not to be confused with real persons” disclaimer. The NYT not so much.

        1. Synoia

          Hollywood enjoys being part of the propaganda arm of the MIC. It probably helps to deflect investigations into their culture (Weinstein et al), a hard lesson taught by the Anti-Communist (HUAC) program in the ’50s.

          It fits with trump’s MAGA program, (Making Americans Ginormous Assholes).

        2. fresno dan

          September 21, 2018 at 2:56 pm

          “Jennifer Lawrence who starts the movie somewhat improbably, from a physical casting standpoint, as a ballerina.”
          actually, I like my ballerinas a little meaty. Actually, I would say she’s a little wispy….

          1. Carolinian

            She’s a good looking woman but a bit on the Rubensesque side to be playing a dancer.

            As an actress–I’d say–she’s highly overrated. In Sparrow her shaggy dog bangs provide most of the characterization.

      1. blennylips

        Link is excessively scripted (15 want permission!), not paywalled.

        Palemoon with RequestPolicy and Noscript: deny all permission to execute and only allow fetching from

        I see the paywall viewing in a barenaked chrome browser.

  9. a different chris

    Jesus I *do not* want to dip into the Kavanaugh stuff he did in high school but I clicked on that “will not end well” because, yeah, I suspect the title is true. And I thought I was going to get insight into the procedures and fluff that our betters in Congress use to pretend like they are some respectable body of accomplished men/women, rather than the rat-hole of near-criminality we’ve actually got.

    But what was below it…wtf?

    And then there is the guy that Blasey claims was an eye-witness. One tiny little problem–the eye witness said it did not happen.

    No she claimed he was basically Kavanaugh’s wing-man. Here’s a simple point that you would think somebody who graces himself with the moniker “Tacitus” would understand: if you are going to bring somebody down in public for something they didn’t do, the last thing you want is a third party witness. You want “he-said she-said” and to play to people’s emotions. You know, then you can compete in the “banging on the table” part. Oh, and the eye witness story seems to have changed but “Tacitus” seems to have missed that.

    Then we get this:

    Those clubs are snake pits and will readily out someone who is dishonest or an ass. …who are hard core Democrats, wrote letters defending the Judge. They do not do that for asses or pretenders.

    Yes, actually they do. He started out OK – “snake pits” for sure – but then got this entirely backwards, what is he – 15 years and starry-eyed? Hillary, just for starters, is clearly an ass and a proven pretender. They will “readily out someone” if it serves their purposes, And not if it doesn’t. Period.

    Sometimes I forget how stupid other blogs usually are…

    1. Carolinian

      I think the point he is trying to make is that harassers and predators tend to do it over and over again which is why people believe the stories about Moonves and Weinstein and are skeptical about one cited instance by a 17 year old. In other words “reputation” is a factor.

      If the Dems want to derail they are going to need more ammo. So far they are the ones pounding the table.

      But we shall see….

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        People didn’t believe the Weinstein case until fairly recently. It was probably one of the Gawker pages, but they deduced years ago that it was Weinstein given Judd’s description and timing of her story. It didn’t bring Weinstein down or keep him separated from the Clinton campaign when as Lena Dunham has claimed that she tried to warn the campaign.

        Cosby was applauded for years when no one believed his myriad of accusers despite all the creepy stories about him that weren’t secrets.

        Then the pedophile protection racket keeps having new scandals being exposed when its long since time governments start identifying the RCC as a criminal organization.

        Kavanaugh is now a very public figure aiming for a constitutional office not a court instituted by Congress. The accusations and bizarre stories are coming out while he is aiming for this huge office. The msm might ignore a smaller story or one that doesn’t interfere with their orbits. This has been a very short period of time compared to those other scandals.

        1. Carolinian

          Actually Weinstein’s reputation was quite well known for a long time but people in the industry were afraid to speak out because he was so powerful. So when I say “reputation” I’m talking about people within his circle and I think that is what the Pat Lang post is talking about. We don’t have to accept Publius Tacitus’ account of the reputation of these two people among their social circle but it is another piece of information in the mix.

          1. Carolinian

            Just to add that even if you don’t like the Pat Lang site article it shows how the Repubs will be going at the accuser and why she is reluctant to appear. If they want to take him out then more evidence will be needed than just her statement.

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                With Democratic assistance, in particular the crucial decision by Biden to NOT call in three other women who had stories to report about Thomas similar to Anita Hill’s story.

                If Biden seeks the DemParty PrezNom, his sneaky support for Thomas by that strategic “inaction” of NOT calling in the other three women should be Front And Centered along with his key role in legislating the non-dischargability-in-bankruptcy of student loan debt.

      2. Another Scott

        There were people who knew about Weinstein for decades. From what I’ve read and heard, it was an open secret in Hollywood. There were jokes on shows such as 30 Rock; a hot for the Real News Network (I think) mention it during an interview with Thomas Frank; gossip sites implied it regularly. Why no one did anything to stop it is an interesting question, which still hasn’t been asked or answered to my satisfaction.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Humor as a weapon.

            The assumption that if a person is able to joke about it, it must not be too bad is quite fashionable.

            Here, it is used defensive. But often, it is used offensively, to mock or degrade people too serious or too sincere, among other characteristics. That is, not just, but among. Don”t get too hang up on too serious or too sincere. That is…

          2. Jonathan Holland Becnel


            Now i regret jerking off to Jennifer Lawrences Sexts!

            Wow to think those were headed Weinsteins way…

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > If the Dems want to derail they are going to need more ammo

        If you want real reporting, read Elizabeth Bruenig on Amber Wyatt.

        There has been remarkably little reporting on the Ford/Kavanaugh incident as such. No reporter, for example, has sought to identify the house, or describe the social milieu and its “power nodes” in detail, as Bruenig did.

        Instead, we get a Beltway Circus. Discouraging.

    2. pretzelattack

      hard core democrats don’t enable asses or pretenders??? lot of class bias here, the meritocracy of the country club.

  10. Livius Drusus

    Re: Amy Chua coaching students to look like models to get clerkships with Kavanaugh.

    If this is true I will feel massive schadenfreude and no I won’t feel bad about it. I never liked Amy Chua who always came across as arrogant and elitist. The whole Tiger Mom thing always struck me as an attack on working-class parents and mothers in particular. All of the stuff about model minorities and impulse control was always very reactionary in my opinion.

    The best thing to come out of the Kavanaugh debacle will hopefully be the destruction of the myth of upper middle-class moral superiority. For years people like Amy Chua, David Brooks, Rod Dreher, Thomas L. Friedman and more recently J.D. Vance have criticized working-class Americans for being lazy and morally inferior. Now we are seeing the true nature of our “meritocracy” and that it is not what we were told it was. It looks like test scores and grades aren’t the only criteria for success!

    I still have reservations about using #MeToo to bring down political opponents and I think if Kavanaugh goes down he will just be replaced by another right-wing judge but one with less baggage. But I have to admit that I am enjoying watching this circus play out. Maybe it will convince working-class Americans to stop believing in this meritocracy nonsense and to start to develop a real class consciousness.

    1. ted

      If Kevenaugh’s nomination is withdrawn, then the next nominee will appear just after the elections or when the new congress is seated in January. Too far from the next election to help the democrats use it to juice their base (which increasingly looks like it consists entirely of silicon valley honchos, employed journalists, and the professoriate). So, whoever is put forward will be confirmed. I suspect it will be an archconservative woman.

      1. polecat

        With that we, the plebs, would have to throw off the stinging tentacles of both the Spineless Jellies Parties ..

    2. David Carl Grimes

      There must be a picture somewhere on the web of Kavanaugh’s current or former female law clerks. Do they look like models?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        There are the monetary 1%.

        And we have political dynasties as well as the political 1%.

        Not to be outdone, the sexiness 1% throw their weight around as well. Some are coached (see the comment above); many were born with ‘it.’ And not taxed either, though it was inherited, and not earned.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            It would seem that Mao never went away, for his revolution meant also a cultural revolution.

            Can we not say that Our Revolution should also include a cultural one as well?

            Here, think Mao suit, which is particularly relevant to AOC’s fashion photo shoot that was in the news only just recently.

            Also, in that world, there is no such bourgeois things as models, or for that matter, beauty pageants. They will all be out of fashion.

    3. Harry

      I totally agree. If impulse control and discipline are synonyms for showing your legs and stuffing your bra Amy Chua will have been wasting her talents Its turns out the way to the middle class is via sex work. I can see why the #MeToo movement gained so much prominence.

      However its difficult to make working class Americans strip their morality ideas out of their public policy ideas. These things are inculcated by parents and sit very deep. Even a Great Depression didn’t do it for many people. People believe what they want to believe – which is usually what their parents told them. Understanding this has encouraged me to sing my kids more lullabies. It comforts them and I suspect it will stay with them.

    4. Cynthia

      I felt the same way about the “politics of identity” movement, and #MeToo is just one of the many subsets of that movement. This movement has taken hold and is growing because it’s wrongly assumed that if a woman or a person of color is put in a position of power, either in the workplace or in government, that money and power will somehow filter down to the bottom below. Nothing could be further from the truth.

      By replacing a high ranking, highly paid white guy with a woman or with a person of so-called “color” does nothing to reduce the concentration of wealth and power at the top. If anything, it is likely to concentrate it even more.

      Why do you think the mainstream media remains so focused on reporting stories that are centered around “identity politics”? Do you really believe they have an interest in helping shift money and power back down to the laboring class? Their paymasters, regardless of race or gender, aren’t from the bottom of the power structure, and they certainly aren’t among the powerless rank and file, so why would anyone believe they have any intentions of using identity politics, such as the #MeToo movement, to help empower labor?

      The only way to shift money and power back to labor is to see the entire management class as the problem, as the enemy, regardless of where they are on the ladder. Even those who are bottom-rung managers have become nothing more than sold-out, yes-men for the management class. Gender or skin color does nothing to change that. Pack the entire management track from top to bottom with nothing but women and persons of color and the labor track will remain poor and powerless at ever, perhaps even more so. I say this with utmost certainty with regards to the hospital industry, which I suspect is no difference from most other industries, or governments for that matter.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I will also add that advocating replacing one empire with another does not for world peace.

        And historically, both China and Russian knew how to run an empire.

        So, beware of those ‘US all bad, China/Russia not so bad’ hopes.

      2. relstprof

        I disagree. The #metoo movement is about challenging power for those who have been powerless before money, establishment power, and exploitation of workers. It’s certainly related to class consciousness — no more “letting them” get away for it because they’re Woody Allen, Cosby, Clinton, Franken, Harvey, etc. No more turning a blind eye because everyone benefits from the powerful one except the victims.

        This isn’t about male v female, it’s about the dynamics of power.

      3. Elizabeth Burton

        The problem with #metoo is that, like every other recent effort to shine arc-lights on a pervasive evil, it was almost immediately co-opted by the parts of the establishment that recognized its value as a weapon against their opponents. Additionally, like every other effort to force recognition of how deeply the culture of rape and sexual harassment is embedded in the neoliberal empire, it was quickly deflected from being about abuse of power to sex. It happens every time.

        In other words, it may in fact now be yet another facet of identity politics, but that’s because it was corrupted for that purpose. That’s why putting women and people of color into places now occupied by white men won’t change anything—because those who aspire to those positions tend all too often to do so because they hunger for the power those places imbue.

        1. relstprof

          ‘it happens every time.’

          Every. Time. So there are no liberation movements. Good to know. There’s no changing it. Ever. Good to know. (This is worse than the concept of original sin.)

          Never mind Abolition, Women’s Suffrage, Stonewall, the Labor Movement and New Deal. You know, what the actual history of American socialism/social democracy includes.

          Neoliberalism truly denotes something. To fold everything happening politically into a conspiratorial black/white purity frame is to support the status quo and to demean what critiques of neoliberalism can accomplish.

          Replacing white men isn’t the issue — this is hand-waving — the issue is enacting more equitable legal protections and promoting the politics of economic, racial, and sex/gender equality. It’s about placing people in power who are committed to ideals.

          The messy business of politics.

          1. Yves Smith

            You straw manned what EB. That is a violation of our written site Policies as a classic example of bad faith argumentation. Your nasty tone is also out of line.

            Commenting here is a privilege, not a right, and you are accumulating troll points.

    5. Arizona Slim

      I read the Tiger Mom book, and, IMHO, something seemed very “off” to me.

      It’s as if the Chua and her husband had those kids so they could live through them. I never saw anything in that book that indicated that they were allowed to just be kids.

      Yes, I get that they were bright and had talents worth developing, but for heaven’s sake. Let them kick back and enjoy life in the midst of all those achievements.

      Oh, if you’re in the mood for a sports book that develops the pushy parent theme even further, have I got one for you. Here’s a review:

    6. FluffytheObeseCat

      I would not indulge in any Schadenfreude if I were you. Dr. Chua is not going to suffer in any way for prepping young female law graduates to audition for his clerkships like they were aiming for an on camera gig at Fox News. Focusing on the main chance to the exclusion of all else is what the Republican political elite does. Authority before honor is who they are. Essentially, a collection of ultra-right Bill Clintons….. except they display less embarrassment when unmasked. You see, they are entitled. They never pretended to be above this sort of conduct, therefore it’s really your fault for wanting something more.

      There are people who believe otherwise, but like Senator Flake, they are living in the past.

  11. Tom Stone

    A shout out to Tony Butka for his column on Costigan, and a louder shout out to Mike Hiltzik who moved the window and made Butka’s column possible.
    As to Yves…She’s just a Blogger and no one takes Blogs seriously.
    Until they do.
    A most sincere thank you to Ms Webber and all the anonymous people at CalPers who have helped bring this mess into the light.
    Keep it up.

    1. Brian

      Yes, thanks for starting the sphere rolling, or should I say roiling? It is getting larger and more and more are looking at it, eager to know what is going on and how it affects them. It got to the governor’s office today and the rot becomes more apparent.

  12. Big River Bandido

    I suppose it’s unsurprising that a cheerleader for Clintonites should adopt such a blasé tone about legalized bribery of “Democrat” senators by the banking industry. The piece avoids any word with even a possible connotation of “disapproval” or “corruption”…instead it’s all explanation of the “nothing to see here, folks” variety.

    This is one reason why I hate Vox.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Trump to address Skripal poisoning case at UN Security Council meeting”

    Oh, this is going to be good. Trump is going to be talking about a whole range of subjects to the UN Security Council including Iran, non-proliferation of chemical weapons, Syria, the North Korean nuclear issue and the Skripal’s poisoning. Can you imagine? I will count the clock to see how many minutes it takes for him to make the first threat against the other members of the Security Council.
    I already have pop-corn in my cupboard and coffee ready to brew up. I suppose that some might make a drinking game out of it. You know. You have to take a drink every time he says something stupid. If people are going to do that, I would suggest that they have several shots lined up already. I wonder if it will be a prepared speech or whether he will do it off the cuff to rally the troops so to say? This should end well.

    1. Carolinian

      He can’t be any dumber than Nikki who does it every day. The long suffering UN diplomats are probably used to it by now.

  14. Craig H.

    > A 73-year-old Texas mayor killed a huge alligator she thinks ate her miniature horse

    Must see photograph. That might be the hugest alligator I have ever seen. If I was fishing on Lake Livingston and I putt-putted my little boat and saw that guy I think I might never go back to Lake Livingston.

    If they gave the measurements on the alligator in the article I missed it. Or maybe it was a clever photographer and they made it look like it was twenty feet long.

    1. Carl

      Well, I’m not going to celebrate the killing of such a magnificent creature. We’re the killer apes, remember?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In the beginning scene of Space: 1999, it was when we humans first picked up another bone that has made us humans, including vegetarians, elite killers.

    2. Unna

      ***Cochran, 73, is the recently elected mayor of the town of Livingston, population 5,000 or so, as well as a grandmother of three and a great-grandmother of one.
      “You have to be a good shot, because he could just come walking up on the banks” if merely injured, she explained in an interview Wednesday. “They told me to shoot it right between the eyes, and I did.” ***
      This is the distinctive charm of America that most Canadians can only fantasize about. Makes me a bit homesick.

    3. Arizona Slim

      Here’s the thing about alligators: They’re big. And they’re amphibious. If you keep something on land that looks like dinner to them, well, it’s going to get eaten.

      A hungry gator doesn’t care about your beloved cat, dog, or horse. It has a big appetite, and that appetite needs to be satisfied.

      Shorter take: Nature ain’t Disney.

        1. Wukchumni

          My wife was waiting for an in-park shuttle bus @ Crescent Meadow in Sequoia NP, and a couple of deer were frolicking in the distance a few hundred feet away, and a duo of Korean-American women from L.A. also waiting, asked her:

          “They live?”

          My better half being even more of a prankster than me, explained to them that they were on rails and if you push a button, it’ll look as if they are running around. She related that they seemed ok with her answer.

        2. newcatty

          Disney…one of the most brilliant and successful of child entrainment to propagate the All American narrative of our exceptional country and her heroes and myths. Clever appropriation of old Europe fairytales and new country tall tales. I cried for a week after seeing one of the first films in my young life. It played at the regal downtown Fox theater. As a four or, maybe five year old, it was a mind blowing experience. The novelty of the setting, the magic of experiencing a movie on a huge screen and with big sound all added to the surreal moment. Can you guess it was Bambi?

  15. flora

    re: The Decline and fall of Chinese Buddhism

    Thanks for that article. I have a longtime interest in Buddhist philosophy and history. This bit

    “The mainland’s official religious leaders are endorsed by the party state with a mission to unite believers to be patriotic and disseminate religious teachings along core patriotic values.”

    reminded me of this bit from Peter Weiss’s play ‘Marat/Sade’ (misquoting here) –

    And so they chained down the poor in their ignorance so that they wouldn’t stand up and fight their bosses who ruled in the name of the lie of divine right inevitable power.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The Chinese are far too smart to ban religions unless they directly threaten the CCP (like Falun Gong). Instead they infiltrate and bribe them from within until they become little more than money making machines (Chinese buddhism), or completely tamed (Christian denominations). The use the exact same playbook on artists of all type. The Vietnamese are doing the exact same thing, although they have slightly crazier religions to deal with.

      1. In the Land of Farmers

        Capitalism did the same thing to Buddhism in the west. I noted this while seeing a woman yesterday strutting down the street in high fashion, carrying a yoga mat and a huge bag with the Buddha’s image.

        Religion is power, so infiltrating it makes sense. I no longer trust any religious teacher in the East.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Buddhism was first introduced to emperors in China during the Han dynasty; without their approval, it was not possible to transmit the teachings .

          The famous dialogue with Bodhidharma (a prince, it is said, from Madras, India) and Emperor Wu of Liang, of the Southern Dynasties period is a reminder of that.

          For those interested, from Wikipedia (Buddhist Legends About Emperor Wu of Liang):,

          According to Buddhist tradition, Bodhidharma, the first Zen patriarch of China, came to visit Emperor Wu around 520. The emperor told Bodhidharma that he had built temples and given financial support to the monastic community, and asked the patriarch how much merit he had gained for these actions. Bodhidharma replied, “None whatsoever.” Perplexed, the emperor then asked the eminent monk who he was to tell him such things, to which he answered, “I don’t know.”[3] Bodhidharma then left the imperial court to continue his travels throughout China.[3] This account of their legendary encounter typifies Zen’s uncompromising teaching methods.[4]

          The encounter between Emperor Wu and Bodhidharma was first recorded around 758 in the appendix to a text by Shen-hui (神會), a disciple of Huineng.[5]

          1. Plenue

            I doubt there was much reason to censor Buddhism though, since fundamentally it usually doesn’t threaten any status quo. A bunch of people sitting around trying to achieve personal ‘spiritual enlightenment’ means that they aren’t rocking the boat. Unlike something like early Christianity, with it’s anti-rich leveling message, before it was subsumed by the elite and rendered into a state religion (which started early with Saul’s hijacking. Render unto Caesar and all that).

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Four times, in Chinese history, when a major suppression occurred.

              From Wikipedia, Four Buddhists Persecutions:

              The Four Buddhist Persecutions in China was the wholesale suppression of Buddhism carried out on four occasions from the 5th through the 10th century by four Chinese emperors.

              The first two times:

              He believed the temples had become too rich and powerful, so he confiscated their land and gave it to his own soldiers.

              The third time:

              In 845, Taoist Emperor Wuzong of the Tang Dynasty initiated the “Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution” in an effort to appropriate war funds by stripping Buddhism of its financial wealth and to drive “foreign” influences from China.

              And the fourth time:

              In 955, Emperor Shizong (r. 954-959) of the Later Zhou (951-960), due to the need for copper, ordered that Buddha statues be destroyed so that copper could be used to mint coins.

              Here, the tragedy occurred because there was no MMT fiat money.

              To this last suppression, this is also added in Wikipedia:

              A report from the late 920’s, on heretical Buddhist believers, comments that “sometimes Buddhist clergy and laity are ignorant and thoughtless. Men and women live together illicitly, forming themselves into groups, gathering at night and dispersing at dawn, speciously proclaiming and handing down a ‘Buddhist law society’ [fa-huai], clandestinely being loose in their morals.” An edict in 1035 offered a substantial reward, thirty strings of cash, to anyone who was able to seize such sectaries or who informed on them leading to their capture. (Note that thirty strings of cash was the estimated cost to the state of supporting a postal worker for one year.) This report concerned the western circuits but people accused of similar practices could also be found in the east.[11]

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Unfortunately, yes (and I wrote confusingly to make it appear as if it was the cause only one time…apologies).

                  MMT fiat money came to late.

              1. knowbuddhau

                Tell it to the samurai. Bushido is a thing. Look it up.

                Bushido:Zen Chivalry:Feudal Catholicism. Roughly.

                You would perhaps only be satisfied by a society of supernatural superhumans?

                “Chinese Buddhism” is to be distinguished from the experience of the Buddha, which, if it isn’t inspiring your own, you’re doing it wrong.

            2. Mel

              For anybody who likes tertiary or quaternary sources, there’s Robert van Gulik, a Dutch diplomat to China, who fell in love with classical Chinese detective stories. He translated some, including his Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee, then went on to write his own.
              Extrapolating from him, there was a lot going on in old China. Official Confucians would distrust Buddhists and Daoists because they were apt to ignore the Rites and the Music, and might act as though the rules were not important.
              Some stories sited their villains in Daoist and Buddhist monasteries, which were said to be rife with secret, vile, sordid rites and cults and doings.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Thanks for that.

              Also, for anyone interested, check out Wikipedia’s Buddhism and Violence, and Sohei (warriors monks of the Heian period).

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  On Chinese history, if what I quote from Wiki is incorrect, I welcome people to correct them.

                  And if not comprehensive, again, add to them.

                  My own experience is that a lot of what I like to quote is not on the net. So I go with Wikipedia, as a starting point.

          2. knowbuddhau

            It’s likely apocryphal, first being recorded 250+ years after the estimated date.

            There’s the organization or sangha, and the experience. They can infiltrate the organization, but they can’t touch the experience.

            If you go anywhere you’re not in looking for it, you already missed it. (ht Hakuin, Song of Zazen)

        2. Plenue

          There’s a documentary film called Kumare about an Indian-American who posed as a fake guru and successfully started a small cult in Arizona just by adopting a fake accent and spouting New Age-y gibberish.

          Before doing this, and not at all satisfied with all the charlatans in the west posing as gurus and essentially just running sex cults, he traveled around India and observed authentic Indian yogis. His opinion is firmly that they’re also mostly charlatans running sex cults.

          1. In the Land of Farmers

            I highly recommend that “Kumare” to anyone thinking about getting interested in any religion. Not that it discredits religion, just for its ability to help you to avoid becoming a sucker.

            1. Plenue

              I think it goes a long way towards discrediting religion as a whole.

              Plenty has been said about the fetishization of ‘the orient’, and things like the western adoption of a stripped down yoga and a kind of McBuddhism. All of which is true.

              But no one seems to ask if the authentic things themselves aren’t also vapid, shallow, and so much vague nonsense in their original forms as well. India and China are just as capable as the west of producing their own religious and philosophical traditions of mountains of text and talk built on foundations of sand.

              1. knowbuddhau

                Ahem. You sound, friend, as if you’ve never heard of the field of science called “comparative mythology.” As if “no one” has been looking at the source of religion, myth, ever. As if.

                Religion is a tertiary function of myth. It’s the sociological function, the country club function. I’m not defending any of the horrific deeds by by Country Clubs, in every sense and every faith. I’m hoping people will distinguish between particular, unique, historically contingent instances of this function, and the function itself. The historical religions, named and known, do not embody all that is religion.

                Religion is a function in society. Has any family scandal, any dynasty of family scandals, discredited “family”?

                I mean, take my family. Please!

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps Mao still lives, and to Marxists, religion is the opium of the people, and people in Beijing still have not forgotten that it was sacked in the Second Opium War.

      And while non-high-end collectibles are getting cheaper these days, the antiques looted from that adventure are housed in the finest museums and when available, are accorded expensive provenances in top auctions houses.

  16. Cynthia

    While the type of “conflict of interest” that happened at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is in clear violation of corporate compliance (see Lambert’s above link on health care), there are many other types of conflicts of interest occurring in hospitals around the country everyday, which are equally egregious, IMO, but aren’t in any way a violation of corporate compliance.

    The particular “conflict of interest” at issue and that comes to mind involves the frontlines of care. The more often a nurse manager can get away with keeping his or her floor or unit understaffed, the bigger the bonus he or she gets at the end of the year. And because the ENTIRE nurse management track from division director of nursing on up to the Chief Nursing Officer also gets a bonus check every year by keeping floors and units chronically understaffed ( it’s a legal pyramid scheme, if you will), there is no incentive for them to keep staffing at safe levels.

    This is largely why whenever an unsafe event happens with potential or actual harm to the patient, being unstaffed is never, ever addressed, much less rectified — even when understaffing is clearly the underlying reason why the unsafe event occurred.

    What makes these management bonuses particularly egregious, besides the obvious fact that it puts profits over people, is that they aren’t disclosed to the frontline nursing staff, much less the public at large. Perhaps if they were, the public would demand more nursing and nursing support staff to care for their sick loved ones at the bedside. Some patients and family members are perfectly aware of this understaffing problem in hospitals, while other patients and family members are only aware that they aren’t getting the care they deserve and pay for but can’t see the obvious causal link between nurse staffing ratios and care outcomes. Nevertheless, nothing is gonna be done to improve staffing, thus improve care until all the greedy and excessive skimming off the top by nursing management is put to a halt! And finally see it for what it truly is: conflict of interest, and a most egregious one at that!

    1. bassmule

      This will be addressed as a ballot issue in Massachusetts in November.

      “Question 1 was designed to establish patient assignment limits for registered nurses working in hospitals. Limits would be determined by the type of medical unit or patient with whom a nurse is working, and the maximum numbers of patients assigned determined by the limits would apply at all times. The measure would require these patient limits to be met without reducing staff levels, such as service staff, maintenance staff, or clerical staff. The enforcement of the measure would be suspended during a public health emergency as declared by the state or nationally.”

      Massachusetts Question 1, Nurse-Patient Assignment Limits Initiative

      1. bronco

        I’m seeing the ads and I don’t think it will be addressed. Mass has a way of writing ballot questions that trick people into voting yes when they really think no and vice versa . It also has a way of ignoring questions which pass if they just feel like doing the opposite.

      2. newcatty

        Certainly is a step in the right direction. Not only for helping to ensure safe and effective patient care, but as essential in providing those frontline nursing staff are working in safe and supportive working conditions. Nursing management accepting the “excessive skimming off the top” to make more money in their positions is not just greedy it is a willingness to throw the frontline nurses under the bus and to knowingly participate in the corruption of healthcare in this country. It is unconscionable.

        Anecdote: Last year a close family member was seriously ill. She went to the closest hospital’s ER. When she finally was seen by a doctor to determine what was needed for her treatment (make long story shorter), she was told: “We don’t know what is wrong with you.” She was lying on a bed, in pain and scared after some time of waiting for some help. No tests had been done or any other evaluation besides a cursory exam by a doctor who did not even introduce himself and vitals taken by a tech or someone. The doctor in charge of admissions decided she needed to be admitted. She called us in our neighboring state. We are closest family and made arrangements to drive to her side the next day. She was diagnosed by a specialist and received good care for the current crisis and further treatment. We “dropped everything” because of all of the awful stories and accounts of loved ones who were at the mercy of inadequate or negligent “care” in hospitals. We sat by her side, in her room, from early morning to evening every day until she was released. Every caregiver was, as far as we could tell, efficient and attentive. A few were very kind and compassionate in their care. The roommates she had were mostly alone most of the time. After some days went by, we noticed that those patients ( as far as we knew)received adequate care, but with mostly all procedures were done quickly and almost without any talking to the patients. Our family member recovered after a week in the hospital. It really brought home to us the tragic and egregious reality of healthcare in one of the most serious circumstances for people: the vulnerability of being ill or hurt where hospitalization is necessary. FWIW: this hospital has an excellent reputation.

      3. Cynthia

        Hopefully this ballot will pass, but it will be tough. Hospitals have a lot more money than the nurses union has to scare the public into believing that this ballot will cause hospital bills to go up even higher. The truth is that there are plenty of unnecessary administrative expenses that can be cut out of the system, enabling hospitals to add more nurses to the bedside, the only place where care matters and can improve. There’s a reason why bedside nurses are classified as “essential staff” and nurses in management are classified as “nonessential staff.” If the hospitals were to eliminate hundreds of jobs in nursing that either entail doing managerial tasks, or so-called “indirect care” tasks, patient care wouldn’t suffer one iota, in fact, it would probably improve.

        Nonetheless, even if that ballot doesn’t pass, I can think of two other ways to prevent or discourage hospitals from understaffing their floors and units. Insurers, private as well as public, can pay hospitals for their nursing care based upon nurse-to-patient ratios. The higher the ratio, the higher the pay. The lower the ratio, the lower the pay. (This will also add much needed transparency to the system, something that hospitals love to hate. After all, it’s to their advantage to operate in the dark. The darker, the better, is their motto.)

        Another way to prevent or discourage hospitals from understaffing their floors and units is to have the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, CMS, penalize hospitals for chronically understaffing their floors and units. CMS already penalizes hospitals for having too many bedsores and too many line infections.

        So if CMS is really concerned about improving care in hospitals, they would add “chronically understaffed” to their penalty list. However, I have some doubts about this penalty ever leading to better or safer staffing ratios in hospitals. Hospitals have gotten pretty good at gaming CMS’s penalty system, or simply finding loop holes in the system. It’s well worth a try, though. CMS just needs to devise a game-proof, loop-proof penalty system to combat chronic understaffing on nursing floors and units. It could work. No doubt that CMS has the power to make it work. If the most low-level boss at CMS can make the most high-level hospital administrator shake in his or her boots, CMS can make this penalty work. ;~)

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Richard Costigan – Exemplar of What’s Wrong with the CalPERS Board”

    Exemplar? Or prime motivator? And is it normal to have a Republican operative to have so much power in such an important organization in a deeply Democrat State? This is not a matter of some guy that happens to vote Republican whenever elections come rocking around as that is a matter of a private preference. But such is not the case with this guy. He sounds like he is a real operative for the Californian Republicans. And that is something else altogether.
    Come to think of it – is CalPERS permitted to make political donations under the rules that it operates under? With $350 billion in their kitty, that could amount to significant amounts if permitted to do so.

  18. Alex

    The Russian customers of Danske seem to be mostly small fish. The avg deposit is just 100k and for private persons it’s likely even smaller. Not the sums you’d associate with corrupt Russian officials, more like small business owners or individuals trying to put their money out of reach of the government given all the previous experience.

    Hard to say for sure of course, especially given the following hilarious definition of suspicious activity in the report:

    In accordance with AML regulation, customers have been deemed suspicious if a suspicion has been identified, and it has not been possible for the Portfolio Investigation to disprove this suspicion

  19. crittermom

    Having updated myself on some of the current news, comic relief is always most welcome.

    Today it once again came from NC, regarding the article about the raccoon bread burglars. Hilarious!
    The accompanying photo sums it up well. Love it.
    Thanks, Lambert!

    The city’s guide to dealing with them made me laugh even harder:

    “Step 2: Make your home “unlivable” by hanging ammonia-soaked rags, blasting the radio, and filling your house with bright lights.”

    Ammonia-soaked rags, a blasting radio & bright lights would certainly make it unlivable to me.
    Sooo… one must abandon their home to discourage the raccoons from wanting to live there, either?
    Yep. Sounds like another sensible govt plan to me. /sarc

    Now I must go back & read the one about the 73 y/o woman & the alligator…

    1. polecat

      There’s a ‘raccoon spray’ .. derived from ‘rotten egg solids’ that I’ve used the last couple of years .. that seems to be objectionable enough to keep the little bandits at bay !
      It’s not so bad to my puny human olfactory senses ..

      That reminds me, it’s time for another application, now that the grapes are ripening ‘;]

    2. Arizona Slim

      Raccoons. Don’t get me started.

      While I was visiting my mother in Pennsylvania, they plundered both of her trashcans. Loudly. After we’d gone to bed.

      Well, if there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s furry gangbangers that deprive me of sleep. So, Mom’s caregiver and I went on a mission. We went to the home center and bought one of those big plastic rolling trashcans. It was a challenge to wedge it into the backseat of her car, but we did it.

      I’m pleased to report that the raccoons have been foiled by this new trashcan. Which is way bigger than both of the old ones.

    3. JCC

      Actually, if you do it logically it often works – although I never tried the ammonia soaked rags method. I may add that to the repertoire next time.

      For example, I had a mobile home in the country and a problem with possums getting under the house, and when they are there (unknowingly, being nocturnal) for awhile the stink accumulates. It is far worse than the occasional neighborhood skunk emission and permeates everything.

      After finding and repairing their access holes, I peeled away an access panel on both ends of the foundation, added some bright worklights to one end, dropped a large speaker out of the window and placed it next to the worklights, and then loudly blasted (and I mean loud, not quite to 11!) some Pink Floyd – the entire Dark Side of the Moon album – out of the speaker. The neighbors enjoyed it (they said) and thankfully the possums did not. They left, I closed the far end panel, and they were unable to get back in. Then, eventually, the stink dissipated.

      I doubt raccoons are big fans of Pink Floyd either although they are pretty smart. If so, there’s always the Sex Pistols.

      1. Wukchumni


        I’d a flushed em’ out with You Light Up My Life by Debbie Boone, Heartbeat It’s A Lovebeat by the De Franco Family, Feelings by Morris Albert, and then Afternoon Delight by the Starland Vocal Band, for good measure.

  20. jsn

    Don Foster’s conclusion in “Right to Remain Anonymous” misses the point that the coup has already happened. By the time Trump launched the cruise missiles into Syria a year and a half ago, the Blob antibodies had already encapsulated the virus.

    Since then the Blob has been running the country more or less as it would have under Clinton, the defense budget votes make this statement very clearly.

    Why have a coup when you can have your way with a perfect fall guy for your screw ups? Unless of course your screw ups start World War 3 (paranoid link).

  21. Andrew Watts

    RE: Why Japan’s First Submarine Visit to Vietnam Matters

    The burgeoning military ties between Japan and Vietnam is a direct result of the rise of China. It’s particularly concerning when China is busy with the militarization of islands in the South China Sea. China has a long historical tendency of invading their neighbors. Vietnam and Japan are both probably preparing for a future where the US doesn’t play a prominent role in the Western Pacific.

    1. JTMcPhee

      And is it just me, or are the two Koreas on the way to becoming one, again, without regard to the World Order as popularized by our Blob rulers? Interesting that the S. Koreans have this submarine with missile launch tubes (not just torpedo tubes) for both cruise and ballistic missiles. The same article from Japan Times notes Moon is off to meet with Kim again about “denuclearization,” and mentions that like the Israel -ites, the S. Koreans have a fleet of Krupp-built U-boats already. Everything is in flux, but then it has always been so except, of course, where the narrative assures us that there has been generations of war-preparation-generated “peace.” Which always, since “civilization” got started, seems to end in increasingly destructive and violent episodes of War, The Constant Game…

      1. Andrew Watts

        I’ve been saying the same thing for awhile now. If the North Koreans get rid of their nukes they’ll still retain the capacity to re-start their program and acquire them in a year or two. I sincerely doubt that’s something the South Koreans want though.

        It’d probably be easier to convince the North to accept the presence of the US military, and by extension the American nuclear umbrella, on the peninsula. It’d be important leverage in any diplomatic negotiations with China and reassure Japan while they pursue re-unification.

        That’s assuming a lot though.

  22. Andrew Watts

    RE: China’s Sea Control Is a Done Deal, ‘Short of War With the U.S.’

    Xi had privately promised Obama that China wasn’t going to start fortifying the shoals and islands they claimed in the South China Sea. Obama, for some unusual reason, actually believed this promise and convinced our allies from moving quickly to occupy and fortify their territorial waters and other areas traditionally under their control. While this action would’ve escalated tensions it would’ve forestall the possibility where Manila is living under the guns of the Chinese military and they won’t be the only people living under those circumstances.

    Another epic fail for the Obama administration.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Fail? Trillions wasted on the death machine with countless foreign bases, belligerent policing where we should have no business doing so at all. Anything which tempers that in the slightest on our/U.S. part is inadvertent success.

      1. Andrew Watts

        There are news articles from as late as 2015 heralding Obama for forcing Xi to back down in the South China Sea. It was the first time I remember seeing Obama scold somebody over international “norms” and behavior and it was just as effective as it is now with Trump. In reality, the Chinese attitude was “Let him say what he wants as long as he doesn’t stop us from doing what we want.”.

        Economic determinism isn’t the primary factor in Chinese belligerence towards it’s neighbors. Nor will attitudes be tempered with these developments. It’ll only make war a more likely outcome.

        1. pjay

          I have no doubt that Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, etc., are uncomfortable about Chinese expansion. But the suggestion that U.S. passivity and naivete in the region is the major problem is pretty funny. Of course the Times article would say this; it’s the Times after all! This article is a bit more factual than the mammoth anti-Russia NYT tome (see above comments), but it is also very one-sided. Perhaps if the nice map provided was expanded a bit to include U.S. and allied military installations that completely surround the area, Chinese “aggression” might be better understood. Also, regarding your previous comment on China’s “historical tendency” of invading its neighbors, I suppose this depends on the historical period to which one refers. China also has some history of being invaded (economically or militarily) *by* its neighbors – or Western powers further away. And the U.S. and other Western powers have some less than stellar history of their own in the region.

          As I think I said in a comment about China the other day, we do not have to define such situations in black-or-white terms (as does MSM propaganda). But we do need to view them in historical context.

          A final question: if not “economic determinism,” then what *is* the major factor behind Chinese belligerence, in your view?

          1. Andrew Watts

            I never said the US was passive in anything other then that specific instance. We’re also talking about the present and that doesn’t have anything to do with the century of humiliation that the Chinese suffered.

            A final question: if not “economic determinism,” then what *is* the major factor behind Chinese belligerence, in your view?

            National pride mixed in with the will-to-power.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              I vote for economic determinism myself, in the resource extraction sense. The Chinese goal is to strip mine all the fish out of the South China Sea and strip mine all the oil, gas, and everything else of any value from the sea floor and under the sea floor.

              Same as with Tibet and Sinjiang.

              With a lot of national pride/will-to-power frosting on the resource extraction cake, to be sure.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It is also very Chinese to yield now, in order to prevail later.

          That’s from the Dao De Jing which states water being soft, wears away the hard.

          In China, that is the belief for many, and as such, the Dao exerts a stronger psychological force (than in nations that are not aware of it) that when China fails to act like water, it’s a negative and the Qi will undermine the nation.

          The current leaders in Beijing are acting contrary to that, going with hardness against hardness vis-a-vis the US, and that will have not so pleasant consequences.

          1. Andrew Watts

            The current leaders in Beijing are acting contrary to that, going with hardness against hardness vis-a-vis the US, and that will have not so pleasant consequences.

            …and that’s what worries me. Obama was not only stupid enough to believe Xi, but he later wrote another check with his mouth that his — wasn’t going to cash. If China ever positions long-range missiles on these shoals he committed the US to attacking them.

    2. ewmayer

      “Xi had privately promised Obama…” — rather reminiscent of the promises from the US to post-soviet Russia re. ‘no eastward expansion of NATO’, innit? But hey, as long as the military expansionists are ‘the good guys’, right?

      1. Andrew Watts

        It’s nothing like that example at all. The US never committed to that position in public like Xi did at a press meeting at the White House. He explicitly stated that China didn’t “intend to pursue militarisation”.

  23. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “The Printed Word in Peril” — I believe this very lengthy essay through its length and style, and at least to my reading — it’s opacity — whether read in digital or paper formats may explain why the literature which this essay mourns is falling on hard times. Lots and lots of words and clever references but whatever content there was didn’t seem worth the effort required in mining it.

    1. Carolinian

      I thought that was a great article although it is a bit long and excessively “literary” (something the author admits). Those of us with a leg in both worlds–paper books only for years and then a new ebook world–have our own thoughts about what it all means and where it is going. But it’s good to see somebody talking about this. And it’s also hard to deny the author’s contention that the era of the great literary novel is on the fade and maybe that’s not such a bad thing. One could point out that novels were once looked down on as trifles and inferior to poetry and then, a hundred years later, it was the novelists who were looking down on the “inferior” medium of the movies. The notion that profound truths were to be found in imaginative fiction sometimes crashed up against reality as in the antebellum South where the ruthless planters thought they were living out the works of Walter Scott.

      At any rate IMO the Harper’s is very much worth a look and thanx for the link.

    2. Mark Pontin

      I took one look, saw the author was Will Self, and didn’t bother to read a word further. In his native UK, his career high point was being declared one of Granta ‘s Best Young British Novelists in the late 1980s and ever since he’s been declaring the novel dead. His pretty much are and this is the same schtick he’s been running for three decades.

      1. Carolinian

        He’s not saying the novel is dead which you would know if you read the article. He’s saying the novel as cultural touchstone–Norman Mailer the offered example–is dead. If you disagree please supply some current novelists whose work is talked about in the same way those 20th century icons were. In fact today’s cultural touchstones are more likely to be movies or TV shows rather than books. A show like Showtime’s The Affair is like a novel on film and almost seems to acknowledge the handover by being a show about a novelist.

        We are living in a “post Gutenberg age” and that’s worth talking about.

        1. neighbor7

          Self’s piece updates and underlines Sven Birkerts’s groundbreaking & prescient book “The Gutenberg Elegies,” which was published in 1994.

  24. Alex

    Upending the Orientalist Logic of “Honor Killings” only succeeds to upend the basic logic.

    The author tells us that Kuweit got its current legislation on the topic from French. Fine. But she does not establish that 1) there was no such legislation before and 2) the legislation contributed to the increase of such murders. She even admits she doesn’t know Arabic! Until both is proven as true it’s better not to utter the o-word

  25. lyman alpha blob

    RE: SYRIZA: A Cautionary Tale

    August 21 marked the end of the “era of the memoranda” in Greece. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, dressed in a plain white shirt, stood atop a hill on the island of Ithaca overlooking its harbor to announce an end to the austerity that has been imposed on the country over the last eight years.

    So Tsipras is trying to symbolically mark the end of an odyssey even though Greece is still suffering under the austerity imposed by foreigners. Considering that when Odysseus returned to Ithaca, he righteously slaughtered all of the interlopers who had been trying to seduce his wife and steal his country, I’d say Tsipras falls just a wee bit short with the symbolism.

  26. Tomonthebeach

    Kavanaugh doppelganger? Really? Well, if somebody looks like Kavenaugh, then his clearly is innocent. Very FoxNews logic. I can probably find two guys in my prep school yearbook who look like Kavenaugh. Maybe they were visiting from Chicago and done the dirty deed… and the Trumpies just lap it up.

  27. Jean

    “Too hot to work”
    Nice photo editing;
    ‘Construction workers on day in downtown Los Angeles with record-breaking temperatures’
    So, why is one guy wearing a hooded sweatshirt?

  28. skippy

    Don’t know if this nugget has been posted yet, but would be curious to see if Slim or other Arizonians think. Being that I did spend many of my formative years in AZ and all, back in the 60s and early 70s.

    Amends if otherwise.

    “A US political campaign ad is making waves online thanks to a surprising sting in its tail that’s been described as “the biggest wow moment” of any political ad ever.

    The advertisement is one of a series that Arizona Democrat David Brill has launched against Republican congressman Paul Gosar, who he is hoping to unseat in an upcoming election in the state.

    It starts as a family standard political campaign ad, as a group upstanding citizens — Grace, a rural physician, lawyer David, medical interpreter Jennifer among them — passionately discuss why current congressman Paul Gosar does not represent them.

    “If he actually cared about people in rural Arizona, I bet he’d be fighting for social security, for better access to healthcare. I bet he’d be researching what is the most insightful water policy to help Arizona sustain itself and be successful,” says Jennifer.

    “He’s not listening to you, and he doesn’t have your interests at heart,” says Tim, a private investigator.

    Then comes the kicker. The talking heads properly introduce themselves, giving their full names: Tim Gosar. David Gosar. Grace Gosar. Joan Gosar. Gaston Gosar. Jennifer Gosar.” – snip

  29. knowbuddhau

    I’ve made a distinction between historical, named, known religions (eg, the big 3), and religion as a function in society; just as neither particular family nor political scandals discredit the functions served by family and politics in society, although particular institutions are plainly discredited, religion itself is not. Religion serves the function of reproducing a specific community and their way of being in the world. It’s a tertiary function of a functioning mythology, the third of four.

    The reproducibility crisis in psychology is a good example.

    One morning this May, Wicherts, an energetic and talkative 42-year-old, was making a cup of strong coffee as he related how he became involved in metascience. When he was a Ph.D. student in psychology in the mid-2000s, it was an open secret that many findings were irreproducible, he says, but scientists feared that discussing this would cast the whole field into doubt. Then in 2005, John Ioannidis, now co-director of Stanford University’s Meta-research Innovation Center in Palo Alto, California, published a provocative essay, “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.” It argued that science suffers from an epidemic of small studies that try to detect modest effects, poorly designed by researchers “in chase of statistical significance.” Wicherts, inspired by the paper’s clarity and bravery, calls it a watershed event for psychology.

    WICHERTS HAD his own encounter with poor scientific practices during his Ph.D. work on the rise of intelligence scores over generations. Curious about the impact of unusual data points on statistical analyses, he and his colleagues asked the authors of 141 recent papers for their data, so that they could reanalyze them. To their surprise, 73% of the authors didn’t reply or said they were not willing or able to share the data, even though the journals that published the studies stipulated they should. Wicherts dropped the study but described the experience in American Psychologist. The 2006 paper was an early alert about the importance of “open data,” Vazire says. “We need something better than ‘data available upon request.’”(The Truth Squad, Science, 21 Sept 2018.)

    You can see that the interests of people already in Academia (ie, the sociological, religious function of reproducing an institution devoted to a community and its ways) are working against the interests of Science. I myself didn’t learn of the crisis in social psychology until after I had declared in 1985. (Not cool, my brothers and sisters. That’s not informed consent.)

    Note that the refusal of the authors, to share data, is irrational. Breaks the rules. Ain’t allowed, but is somehow prevalent nonetheless. Can’t call that Science, or even science.

    But would there be Science without Academia? Just so, can we even have society without family, politics, *and religion? I doubt it.

    Said it before, saying it again: people calling for the eradication of religion don’t know what they’re talking about.

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