Links 9/29/18

The first day of the MMT conference. Link here.

NPR also had a podcast this week (hat tip Chris S): Episode 866: Modern Monetary Theory

Indonesia tsunami: hundreds killed in Sulawesi after powerful earthquake Guardian :-(

Footage of the microscopic world around us Business Insider (Dr. Kevin)

Farmers in southern Minn. test soil health with buried undies MPR News (Chuck L)

Netherlands Proposes Legislation To Ban Use Of Phones On Bicycles NPR

Alaska governor declares emergency for Indigenous languages Associated Press (MGL)

The biggest time saver yet — moving into a tiny house Laura Vanderkam

20 Things Patients Can Do to Stay Out of My ER– Op-(m)ed (Dr. Kevin). This is great.

North Korea

China and Russia clash with US over North Korea sanctions Asia Times (Kevin W)

The battle with Brussels that Italy can’t lose Politico

Privatization, the EU and a Bridge Consortium News


Brexit: Boris Johnson refuses to rule out Theresa May challenge BBC

May under microscope as EU searches for signs of Brexit cooperation Guardian

Brexit: Delicate talks as high noon approaches RTE


Trump claims credit for halting Assad regime’s attack on Syria’s Idlib, after learning about province from a rally Independent (Kevin W)

A Michigan professor supported a student’s study-abroad application — until he realized Israel was her destination – The Washington Post. UserFriendly: “Shoot me, why is this in WaPo?”

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Facebook’s Worst Security Breach Hammers User Trust Once Again Bloomberg

THE FACEBOOK SECURITY MELTDOWN EXPOSES WAY MORE SITES THAN FACEBOOK Wired. WTF??? People actually log in using FB (or Google)? These are the same people who think having Alexa spy on you is fine too.

Blazing rows to be judged by VAR Daily Mash

Tariff Tantrum

U.S.-China trade war triggers seafood supply chain shake-up Reuters. Honestly, getting Chinese shrimp and tilapia out of the US is a plus. They come from heavily polluted waters. I don’t eat tilapia and eat shrimp only when I am confident it isn’t from China. It has even hit the point where the complacent Trump FDA halted the import of farmed Chinese fish over concerns about carcinogens. This has been a controversy for some time (for instance, Google shows a New York Times article in 2007 raising concerns about fish from China) and the Chinese have supposedly been trying to address this problem.

Trump Transition

The World America Made—and Trump Wants to Unmake Politco. UseFriendly: “LMAO god save the liberal world order and American Hegemony! All you leftists ARE JUST LIKE TRUMP! Don’t you know the second we stop pointless regime change wars we will get a new Hitler? Maybe it’s like tinkerbell…. if we just clap our hands…. and F-35 gets it’s wings.”

Trump Administration Acknowledges Anthropogenic Climate Change Lawyers, Guns & Money (furzy)

Trump Administration Acknowledges Climate Change – Predicts Large Rise In Global Temperatures Moon of Alabama

Russian-US tycoon boasted of ‘active’ involvement in Trump election campaign Guardian

Trump anti-discrimination official faces rebellion at agency over racially tinged blog posts Washington Post (KF)


Trump’s top court pick faces FBI probe BBC

In Kavanaugh Pivot, Flake Certainty Becomes Doubt, Then Delay Bloomberg

This New Republic story, What the hell just happened on Capitol Hill?, seems to have the right take:

Further, if the FBI investigation goes through…it could help Kananaugh’s nomination. If the FBI finds no wrong-doing or comes to an ambiguous conclusion (as seems entirely plausible for a one-week investigation of a three-decades old case) this might give coverage to those Republicans who are reportedly undecided, like Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and Maine Senator Susan Collins.

Specifically, the fact that Ford’s account in the Senate differs from the one in her therapist’s records (two people present v. four earlier) could be treated as proving her memory isn’t reliable enough, and if people interviewed in support of the Ramirez and Swetnik allegations have too many inconsistent details among them, those could be deemed to be inconclusive. Two risks for Kavanaugh are if Mark Judge won’t back Kavanaugh’s story or if the much-derided Kavanaugh calendar isn’t produced or is determined forensically to be a fresh creation. Kavanaugh almost certainly lied about his drinking habits, but as I read the scope of the inquiry, that’s not part of the probe. But if it is, he’s already admitted to being a binge drinker:

For Trump and White House, Kavanaugh hearing was a suspenseful drama in two acts Washington Post. UserFriendly: “Lovely, Kavanaugh’s performance was to an audience of 1, Trump. Or he was gonna get pulled. And good thing the Democrats rehabilitated Shrub! He’s whipping votes. Absolutely pathetic.”

E-mails Show That Republican Senate Staff Stymied a Kavanaugh Accuser’s Effort to Give Testimony New Yorker (furzy)

The Ford-Kavanaugh Hearings Will Be Remembered As a Grotesque Display of Patriarchal Resentment New Yorker (furzy)

Brett Kavanaugh hearing: key moments Financial Times. If you didn’t watch the hearing, a detailed recap.

Midterm Early Voting Is in Full Swing — Will It Matter? RealClearPolitics (UserFriendly)

US mid-terms: Hackers expose ‘staggering’ voter machine flaws BBC (David L)

‘I was nailed to the cross:’ Anti-Semitic comments dog Gillum’s running mate Politico

Democratic Socialist Nomiki Konst Announces Campaign for New York City Public Advocate Intercept (UserFriendly)

A Hidden History Runs Through Our Social Movements in This Country’ FAIR

Elon Musk

‘Lawsuit secured’: Here’s what Wall Street is saying about the SEC’s lawsuit against Elon Musk Business Insider (Kevin W)

Tesla sheds $6bn in value after Musk accused of securities fraud Financial Times

Tesla’s Musk pulled the plug on a settlement with the SEC at the last minute CNBC (none). Explains “What was he thinking?!?”

New Keynesian nonsense ‘proofs’ Lars P. Syll

Led Zeppelin to face new Stairway to Heaven trial BBC (David L)

These People Are Nuts: Pot Stocks Soar as Pot Prices Plummet Wolf Richter (EM)

New Report: Reviving Antitrust for the 21st Century Economy Roosevelt Institute (JTM)

Class Warfare. See how Kavanaugh is continuing to crowd out class warfare stories?

Future of Jobs 2018 – Reports World Economic Forum (David L)

Democratic Socialism and Political Power Counterpunch

Antidote du jour. Another antidote submission, this from 2017, languishing in my inbox. From aleric:

The bees have finally returned to my garden in large numbers! I took these pictures this morning on my giant hyssops. A tiny mystery bee that flew into my field of focus unexpectedly, I think it is a type of sweat bee, but couldn’t find a matching picture on the internet – I don’t think it is rare, just difficult to photograph.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. allan

    2018 electoral triage:

    Trump heads on five-state rally blitz amid Supreme Court chaos

    He’s going to places he shouldn’t need to.

    U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday kicks off a week of rallies in five friendly places around the country, seeking to shore up support ahead of congressional elections …

    Trump travels first to Wheeling, West Virginia on Saturday, where Republicans are trying to unseat Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, one of a handful of senators seen as key swing votes that will determine Kavanaugh’s appointment.

    Trump will then hold evening rallies in Johnson City, Tennessee on Monday; Southaven, Mississippi on Tuesday; Rochester, Minnesota on Thursday; and Topeka, Kansas next Saturday. …

    Saturday’s visit will be Trump’s second in recent weeks to West Virginia – a state he won by more than 40 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election – to campaign for Republican Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey, who is trailing Manchin in polls. …

    Trump’s next two stops will be in states he also won handily in 2016: Tennessee, which he took by more than 20 points, and Mississippi, where he won by 18 points. …

    The good news for the GOP is that there’s plenty of time for an October Surprise.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Designating certain locales as places you don’t “need” to go is an election strategy that was thoroughly discredited several years ago, if I recall correctly.

    2. MK

      Unlike Hillary’s ill-fated late decision to focus on states that likely would not send her electoral votes (and in the process ignore the “blue wall” as already in-the-bag), Trump is whipping up his patented frenzies to ensure turnout for Republicans in the mid-terms. Many times, these are partially covered live by Fox, so his frenzies can watch him from behind the Blue Wall as well.

      1. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

        I already thought Hill had to go to Arizona because she saw her internal polling and figured out the Midwest was not winnable.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Donna Brazile says the opposite in her book. Brooklyn, as in Robby Mook, was convinced Hilary was fine in the Midwest because his models said so. Brazile says that party operatives in WI and MI were screaming for Hillary to come because they saw that her support was flagging, but Brooklyn was sure they knew better and ignored these pleas.

  2. DJ

    Brett Kavanaugh’s duty, as a jurist, is to withdraw himself from consideration as a Supreme Court nominee. Let me explain: serving as a jurist is a privilege and a public trust. It is not, obviously, an entitlement. This is axiomatic. A jurist is duty-bound to place the good of the institution ahead of his or her personal interests or his or her own private good. This, too, is axiomatic. In fulfilling his or her public trust, the jurist must be mindful not only of the need to arrive at a just result, but also of the need to preserve the appearance of justice. So, for instance, a jurist must recuse herself or himself in a case where the jurist’s “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” The issue is not only actual impartiality, but also the perception of impartiality. In such a case, the judge must place the imperatives of the institution- the judiciary, and its credibility – ahead of her or his own need to protect his or her reputation. This is a basic job requirement. If you can’t do it, you don’t qualify for the job. Regardless of the truth of the allegations against him, it is apparent that Kavanaugh cannot ascend to the Supreme Court without causing perhaps half of the citizenry of this country to believe that a grave injustice has been committed. His duty, therefore, is to withdraw. It is a duty he owes to the institution, which demands that he place the needs of the institution above his personal interests. His duty is clear and unequivocal. His failure to confront, and embrace, this most elemental job requirement disqualifies him, regardless of anything else. Some might exclaim “but that is so unfair!” Considering his personal circumstances, that might be true, or it might not be true. It doesn’t matter. The institution of the judiciary owes him nothing. He owes it his unqualified commitment to serve the interests of the institution. It is not too much to ask. We ask much more of our servicemen, for instance, who are expected to offer a much greater sacrifice, if necessary, in service to our country. His duty is clear.

    1. anonymous

      Great. With this standard, with a couple of uncorroborated allegations no one will ever get confirmed. Of the current 8 jurists, which are completely impartial and apolitical?

      1. pretzelattack

        that’s why the fbi should conduct a thorough, unbiased investigation, and take whatever time is needed. so we can see what corrobation exists, and make our own reasonable conclusions about the fitness of kavanaugh. interesting that you may have lower standards of the justices than for the process evaluating their suitability.

        1. allan

          White House limits scope of the FBI’s investigation into the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh [NBC]

          The White House is limiting the scope of the FBI’s investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, multiple people briefed on the matter told NBC News.

          While the FBI will examine the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, the bureau has not been permitted to investigate the claims of Julie Swetnick, who has accused Kavanaugh of engaging in sexual misconduct at parties while he was a student at Georgetown Preparatory School in the 1980s …

          Instead of investigating Swetnick’s claims, the White House counsel’s office has given the FBI a list of witnesses they are permitted to interview, according to several people who discussed the parameters on the condition of anonymity. They characterized the White House instructions as a significant constraint on the FBI investigation and caution that such a limited scope, while not unusual in normal circumstances, may make it difficult to pursue additional leads in a case in which a Supreme Court nominee has been accused of sexual assault. …

          I’m old enough to remember when Republicans campaigned on “the gloves come off” law enforcement.

          1. allan

            Multiple false statements under oath. One more for the road:
            Ryan Grim Verified account @ryangrim:

            Kavanaugh even lied about his connections to Yale: “I have no connections there. I got there by busting my tail.”

            See this yearbook. He was legacy; his grandfather went there. What pathetic perjury …

            He’s claiming here that he got into Yale Law School with no connections. YLS certainly took into account in the 1980s if you were legacy. On second thought, I don’t think he was lying. I think he truly believes he hit a triple, even though we all know he was born on third base.

            Sadly outside of the purview of the FBI “investigation”.
            But surely long time Senator Charles Grassley will refer Kavanugh to DOJ, amirite?

            1. Heraclitus

              Dr. Ford referred to Georgetown Prep as an ‘elitist institution’. Actually, Holton Arms, her school, was farther up the academic food chain. Georgetown Prep was really a preparatory school for Georgetown and other Catholic colleges until the early ’60s. Then two things happened: the Kennedy administration, and the Georgetown Prep football team. Both raised Georgetown Preps profile, as a number of cabinet officers sent their kids there, and the football team became the best in the Washington area.

              I am skeptical of how elite Georgetown Prep was considered even when Judge Kavanaugh was a student there.

                1. Darthbobber

                  Back when the dems ranged from a Philip Randolph and Bella Abzug to George Wallace and the Republicans from Edward Brooke and John Lindsay to Storm Thurmond. And they wonder why people from abroad find us confusing.

          2. marym

            Good overview of the history of the parties’ switch on civil rights

            Indeed, as @rauchway once noted, one could argue that *the* central story of twentieth-century American political history is basically the evolution of the Democratic Party from the party of Jim Crow to the party of civil rights.

          3. Procopius

            I’m old enough to remember when Republicans campaigned on “the gloves come off” law enforcement.

            I’m old enough to remember that was also the main policy (along with “reforming” welfare) of the New Democrats, the Democratic Leadership Council. It was enacted as “community policing” by President Clinton, along with “welfare reform”.

      2. oh

        Maybe we’d be better off with not having the SC, where the so called judges are there for their life time. How ’bout a term limit of 4 years?

        1. Adam

          We absolutely should not have any position that feature a life time term, whether it’s the SC or lower courts. Four years is definitely too short (I don’t have a strong opinion on how long terms should be, but 18 years for the SC could mean consistent replacement schedules and that a 2 Term President won’t basically get to shape the entire court).

          1. polecat

            Give any supreme 1 decade to adjudicate for the benefit of the commons .. as opposed to, say, the blatantly destructive, and mis-named ‘Citizen’s United’ ruling .. and once their allowed term has ended, they then can pursue private life without ANY further recompense of the tax-paying public .. including healthcare and a pension .. and NEVER allowed to lobby, or further work in any governmental capacity.
            Let THEM swim without a liferaft for a change !

            1. ObjectiveFunction

              Sure, and why not ostracize them (in the Athenian sense) while you’re at it?

              Mob rule isn’t any nicer when we do it.

              1. polecat

                Mob rule is what we’ll, collectively get .. if the powerbrokers and grifters continue to all they can, without regard for the greatr society. Virtually EVERY institution in this country is unaccountable and corrupted in some measure, some less than others, but corrupt none the less .. I and mine are left to try to scrimp survive, while all the swamp creatures run amok, wasting time and resources badly needed to keep everyone else in a viable state, in an ever depleted world .. so excuse me for my deplorably brutish manner !

              2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

                Ill take the mob anyday over Capitalist Fs.

                Thats the Big Lie IMHO. That we are somehow barbarians and savages rather than collectivist social animals.

                Direct Democracy Now

        2. DJ

          Maybe we would be better off without a SC. Interesting point. It’s rule by the elite, right? Our constitution guarantees a jury trial precisely to avoid elite decision making in matters of great personal import. The founders were on to something: your fate may be more secure in the hands of the great unwashed, rather than the elite judges. As current events undermine the citizenry’s confidence in the SC, I take some comfort in the idea that now, finally, people advocating social change may feel compelled to take their case to the electorate instead of to the courts. Should have done that in the first place!

          1. perpetualWAR

            Just try to get a jury trial. The new scheme by Superior courts everywhere is to dismiss or rule in favor of summary judgment, of course for the moneyied class.

          2. witters

            “Our constitution guarantees a jury trial…The founders were on to something: your fate may be more secure in the hands of the great unwashed, rather than the elite judges.”

            You sure about this? I am constantly amazed at how US juries convict on the most ludicrous – even the most manifestly fraudulent – accusations/’evidence’.

      3. ChiGal in Carolina

        Credible allegations do not require corroboration in a proceeding of this kind: it is a job interview and the elected representatives of we the people get to decide who to hire.

        The allegations were made credible by her testimony and it is as much his testimony, demonstrating partisan sentiments, a combative personality, and a willingness (in a judge!) to be evasive and tell outright lies under oath, that according to DJ above make it his duty now to withdraw.

        We know he won’t, but how about you, Anon? Give that persona of yours a handle!

        1. DiFiBFF

          Incredible I would say.

          If my eyes were not open, I would have thought that I was listening a 15 year old girl, not 50+ year old esteemed college professor, at the beginning of her opening statement.

          Where was she when we was nominated for federal court, unless she thought that the rapists are acceptable as federal judge, but, never for supreme court justice?

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            She was probably already way out there in California. How many Californian professors know the names of any judges on or considered for any Eastern or Southern or Midwestern court?

        2. ewmayer

          “Credible allegations do not require corroboration” — Sorry, but without any corroboration how does one decide credibility? Ah yes, by way of an entirely subjective personality/popularity-contest setup. And as Yves noted in her reply to a Kavanaugh-related comment in yesterday’s “SEC sues Elon Musk” article, Ford may indeed believe her own memories of the events – that would also explain how she passed a privately administered polygraph exam – but that such two-thirds-of-a-lifetime-ago memories are simply not at all reliable, and that this unreliability is a scientifically proven fact.

          We can hope that the FBI investigation will shed some light, but I wouldn’t count on it. Without any actual facts to go on, last week’s three-ring hearing/media circus is a classic example of “all heat but no light”.

          I am most disappointed by the fact that there are so many obvious reasons to disqualify Kavanaugh based on his legal record and views about the law, but rather than using that, the Dems – especially DiFi and Schmuck Chumer – first sat on the sexual misconduct allegations, then sprang them at the last minute, for maximal partisan-media-hysteria effect. This beautifully captures what the Dems have become – nothing on actual policy, just “Trump bad” and relentless identity-politics exploitation to pander to the shameless scandalmongering MSM and their donor base.

      4. DJ

        “Which are completely impartial and apolitical?” Not one of them, of course. The ideal sets the standard, but mere humans seldom fully live up to it. And, true, some obviously never even try that hard. That doesn’t mean we should abandon the expectation. Admittedly, though, we would have a better institution in the judiciary if we built in more procedural safeguards and “checks and balances” in anticipation of humans acting in all-to-human ways, rather than simply setting up superhuman behavior as the norm. My point with the comment, though, is that folks who cannot (in good faith) make up their minds about who to believe as between BK and his accusers (I would not be in that group, btw) nevertheless would have to conclude that BK is not qualified because of the clear internal rules of the process.

    2. Keith Howard

      Thank you, DJ, for bringing up the concept of duty. It has been conspicuous by its absence. Your remarks are obviously correct. I believe it’s also correct that the US Senators do not have a ‘responsibility’ but rather a duty to act in the best interest of the institution of the Supreme Court. If the requirement of duty does not coincide with, or advance, one’s personal self or self-interest, duty remains. It does not become optional.

    3. JTMcPhee

      I haven’t practiced law for several decades now (turned to nursing, instead, in part to atone for being a lawyer) but I have to observe that your comment is pure Pollyanna. It would be nice if judges and lawyers abided by the ethical notions you say are fundamental job requirements. That, in my experience, is absolutely not the case. A whole lot of judges don’t give a piffle for the “duties” (and coordinate responsibilities) you assign them, from Julius Hoffman to Kimba Wood to Judge Wosick (one of the judges convicted in Operation Greylord) to Scalia to that PA judge who for money was sending juveniles to a privatized prison on specious grounds. There’s thousands of examples to cite (and yes, various exceptions that prove the rule too.)

      And having “served my country” in the Army, and observed the military culture and actions since then, I hate to pop a bubble but GIs have feet of clay and are also corrupt and dishonest and serve personal interests as, or more, often than any “conspiracy of lawyers,” which I believe is the correct collective term for such. And the notion I guess is correct, that both judges and GIs “serve the interests of the institution,” but the notion that such interest at all comports with the nominal ideals we mopes insist on believing are embodied in them is naive, very naive. “The institution’s” interests are straight imperial and neoliberal and all in service to the protection of privilege and property and, of course, empire.

      Kavanaugh is nicely aligned with those “interests,” and to expect him and his backers to show any shame or decency as we mopes might define it is pure naïveté.

      1. DJ

        I understand your irritation. Of course you are correct that we fail to live up to our ideals – routinely and sometimes in a wholesale way. To expect otherwise truly would be pure Pollyanna. We mopes are not blind to the reality. But it is important neverthless to be clear about ideals, and to state them clearly. Otherwise, how is improvement possible? We’d fall into a cesspool of cynicism. You made a major career choice, you say, in service to such ideals. Others make similar choices every day. They are not naive in so doing. We should not shy away from calling out the truth or expressing an ideal out of fear that we will be labeled as naive.

        1. Olga

          Very true. “Otherwise, how is improvement possible?” It’s not just improvement. Unless we are very clear about our higher and highest principles – even if they fall under the category of “ideally” – we would simply cease to have any moral compass for how to live and go forward. Society would then devolve into “every one for oneself, consequences be damned” attitude and very quickly it could find itself in some major conflict. And what about the young people? Cynicism these days is hardly avoidable, but that much more the need to re-affirm some basic tenets of humanity. Otherwise, all is lost … and we might as well move to Mars on a one-way trip. (And yes, the society does not owe BK a Supreme Court seat.)

        2. Alex morfesis

          With all due respects DJ…Pollyanna doesn’t begin to cover your Hollywood version of our legal system(or that of any other country)…the rule of law was verbiage created by a mister dicey…who imagined a British constitution but insisted manumission and suffrage for women or freedom for Irish was NOT to be allowed under “the rule of law” which simply covered the transition at that time from a “royal court” to a “political court” with the British Parliament being the law of that Land…and British “common law” in effect means rule by non royals with money and power…it does not mean the law defends the unwashed…

          The supreme court has always always always been about politics…as is the department of law currently misnamed as the “justice department” …

          Section 6 of the enforcement act of 1870 makes it a felony…FAY LOW KNEE to discriminate against black folks…no ruling that I know of has ever overturned it or lessened its capacities…but since the “just us” department does not allocate resources to “work on that”… Oh well…

          And black folks not being allowed to vote if they had a felony…the intent of congress after the civil war was unquestionably that no matter what, considering the manumission and as a reparation, black folks would ALWAYS have an undeniable and unrescindable capacity to vote…state laws could not evolve to prevent federal voting…but we see what is…

          And as to the illegal and inhuman conditions and manners of arrest today ? Take a look at how protesters during the civil rights era were arrested…were they hand cuffed and hog tied at arrest as happens commonly today ?

          We have gone backwards recently haven’t we ?

          And to end this rambling response…on imprisonment being the equal of slavery ? So many social justice warrior clowns having a party advocating and educating and talking about oh golly gee…how about some basic legal research…turns out most slave states had laws and rulings preventing certain activities against slaves…imagine that…most prison conditions today are worse than the laws allow in states based on slave ” protection” laws…but since Hollywood and cartoon versions of the law infest the mindgap…most imagine the Toby/kuntakintey scene was the absolute norm…therefore…

          Freedom has always taken hard work and persistence… Everything changed and nothing changed when my ithakan forefathers took down ilium and burned it to the ground and then spent years chasing them into Egypt and other parts unknown…Alexander the great was chasing what he thought were the remnants of ilium when running into Persia… He should have turned right instead at Athens and crossed over the Ionian sea to magna Grecian and then north…

          Feel good images make for pleasant distraction…but

          Hope and prayer makes it easy for the preyors…

          1. JBird4049

            All true, but also false. Evil, sin, corruption never goes away completely, but it does go down. And up. Remember when Dick Chaney made torture not only good but a cool too? It was straight up illegal. Americans could go to prison for it. Now as “enhanced interrogation” it’s all fine. But slavery de jure legal in the South and after that de facto into the 1960s. Racism, child labor, spousal rape, all were acceptable. Women’ suffrage was a joke. Police brutality, judicial and political corruption all hurt more, not because they didn’t existed in some halcyon time but because there use to be much less of it. Then again, the Progressive Movement started because of Americans revulsion at such actions like handing out actual bags of cash bribes on the Congressional floor!

            Most people want to be decent human beings. They have that impulse. It is kinda hard to do if it means being ruined, injured, or dead especially if family or friends are at risk. Most people take the cash or look the other way. Follow the crowd. That’s how our neoliberal elites have come into power. Follow the crowd, blend in, make connections and be rewarded. Go against the crowd and be ruined. Don’t forget that the risk of being pushed out are much, much greater now than it was before. There are much fewer opportunities to support yourself now. It is a fantastic system for parasitic predators like Kavanaugh.

          2. Stephen Morris

            What most people don’t realise is that historically the US Supreme Court almost always defends the interest of the Elite. That’s why it continues to exist. Many people will happily cite Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954) as the landmark case which overturned the “separate but equal doctrine” authorising segregation. Far fewer are aware that the Supreme Court was merely reversing a novel legal doctrine which it itself had invented 58 years earlier in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson for the precise purpose of allowing segregation. Only one judge dissented.

            And that’s not a rare case. For example:

            Dred Scott v Sanford (1857) which held that a negro, whose ancestors were imported into [the U.S.], and sold as slaves,whether enslaved or free, could not be an American citizen and therefore had no standing to sue in federal court; or

            Pace v Alabama (1883) in which the judges unanimously affirmed the constitutionality of state anti-miscegenation laws; or

            the Civil Rights Cases (1883) in which the judges restricted the equal protection clause of the recently enacted Fourteenth Amendment to cover only actions by a state, not by individuals, thereby allowing discrimination by individuals; or

            Plessy v Ferguson (1896) in which the judges (with only one dissent) created the artifice of “separate but equal” so as to permit continued racial discrimination; or

            Twining v New Jersey (1908) in which the judges refused to apply Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination in state cases; or

            Schenck v United States (1919) in which the judges unanimously read down First Amendment rights to affirm the conviction of a defendant who had been prosecuted for publishing material advocating opposition to the military draft; or

            Palko v Connecticut (1937) in which the judges refused to apply Fifth Amendment rights against double jeopardy in state cases (Frank Palko had been acquitted of first degree murder at his first trial but was convicted the second time around and went to the electric chair in April 1938); or

            Betts v Brady (1942) in which the judges denied counsel to indigent defendants when prosecuted by a state; or

            Korematsu v United States (1944) in which the judges approved the forced relocation of US citizens of Japanese decent on the basis of their race; or

            Dennis v United States (1951) in which the judges read down First Amendment rights in order to uphold the conviction of defendants who had “conspired” to form a Communist Party but who had not taken any direct action. (“They were not even charged with saying anything or writing anything designed to overthrow the Government. The charge was that they agreed to assemble and to talk and publish certain ideas at a later date” – Justice Black’s dissent); or

            Bowers v Hardwick (1986) in which the judges upheld a ban on sodomy.

            Most of these decisions have since been overturned as Elite opinion on the matters changed, but that did little to protect people at the time.

            On the other hand, the judicial oligarchs have demonstrated long-running support for politically powerful groups.

            For example, in Santa Clara County v Southern Pacific Railroad Company (1886) they decided that the “rights” of the Fourteenth Amendment applied not only to natural persons but to corporations. Thus, attempts by the state to regulate the profits of railway monopolies were struck down because (in the opinion of the elite judges) they infringed the “right” of the railroad monopolies to charge (what the judges considered to be) a reasonable profit.

            This line of thinking continues to this day. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) prohibits the restriction of independent expenditures on political communications not only for natural persons but for corporations. It interprets “freedom of speech” to include the “right” of corporations to buy politicians.

            And then there is Meyer v. Grant (1988) and Buckley v. American Constitutional Law Foundation, Inc. (1999) which struck down the repeated attempts by democratic states (those with initiative and referendum) to regulate the payment of petition collectors.

            And then there were such beauties as Lochner v New York (1905) in which the judges overturned state laws regulating working hours or minimum wages because these were held to infringe the “liberty” of workers to negotiate with employers who had an overwhelming bargaining advantage. Or Coppage v Kansas (1915) in which they overturned laws protecting workers’ rights to join a union because these were held to infringe the “liberty” of workers to negotiate with employers who banned union membership (“Yellow Dog Contracts”).

            As the famous US judge Billings Learned Hand once observed:

            [Judges] wrap up their veto in a protective veil of adjectives such as ‘arbitrary’, ‘artificial’, ‘normal’, ‘reasonable’, ‘inherent’, ‘fundamental’, or ‘essential’, whose office usually, though quite innocently, is to disguise what they are doing and impute to it a derivation far more impressive than their personal preferences, which are all that in fact lie behind the decision. . . . .

            “If we do need a third chamber it should appear for what it is, and not as the interpreter of inscrutable principles.

            All that’s happened in recent years is that The People – by virtue of improved communications not mediated by the mainstream media – have come to see the system for what it is, for what it always was: a Council of unelected Ivy League lawyers appointed for life terms whose job is to defend Elite interests (and that may include the interest of a few minorities who have managed to gain powerful Elite patronage) against the wishes of The People.

            Oddly enough, Iran has a similar institution:


            1. JTMcPhee

              Thank you, Stephen, for that pointed reminder of what the Supreme Court actually is and does, day after day, year after year. Expecting the “justices” to go against form, talking among ourselves about high expectations and “duty” that “ought to” guide the conduct of those who rise to power, thinking that somehow good wishes and GOTV will redirect the operations of the System, seems to me to be purely feckless.

              Not that the hopeful or wishful among us won’t try, if course. Maybe even have some occasional successes to point to, temporary motions against the main flow.

              Interesting, how many awakened Americans, even here and even among the site operators, are talking about or actually emigrating to places that are not yet so oppressively corrupt and dominated by looting elites.

              Our national mythology says that our forefathers colonized this continent in response to perception of that kind of closed looting system in their native lands. The reality is of course more “nuanced” than that. America now being a largely exhausted Lootery too.

              1. polecat

                ‘awakened’ Americans’ emigrating .. Ha !

                ….. like Supreme Courpse justUS Ruth Bader Ginsburg ??

                She better hurry, as the story has it that that vault door to New Zealand is goin into lock-down pretty soon .. as there will no longer be any mysterious antipodes in which to escape, be you an inmate, a conscript, or a high tone !

                I hear what you say re. The Great American ‘Lootery’, which, through the wonders of Neolibricon Ideologies, having spread across Gaia’s round bod ..

    4. Jomo

      I agree with you. The nation won’t suddenly heal after Mr, K is confirmed. All the 5-4 SC decisions that follow certainly won’t heal the nation. My understanding is that Mr. K did not watch the Ford testimony. My questions: how can an “innocent man” be so lacking in curiousity about his accusor? How can a professional judge be disinterested in the testimony against him? The opening remarks he gave were a speech he wrote the night before, so not a rebuttal of any kind to the actual Ford testimony. Then, he would not directly answer questions from the committee but would attack or offer grandstanding statements about his many high school activities. In court, you answer questions directly and honestly. Mr. K knows this and would not give the committee this courtesy. Some say he lied to the committee about things. I don’t know this, but his evasiveness was evident. I’ve seen enough from Mr. K even without an FBI investigation to find him not credible. Judging Mr.K by what I’ve seen of Mr. K, he’s not someone who should be on the SC.

      1. dcblogger

        From the beginning K has acted like a guilty man. At first I did not know what to think, then when Grassely was able to instantly able to produce a list of 65 women who knew K in highschool it was obvious that they knew that they had a problem. And then when that innocent man was named as the real assailant, when it was obvious that they were trying to set up a fall guy, then it was really obvious that K was guilty as sin.

        The FBI will provide time enough to the Republicans to see how this polls, and it will not be pretty.

          1. witters

            Either way, if this is the case (that one can determine guilt or innocence by unaided personal viewing) then why bother with investigations and judicial determination at all? This whole affair/process has been fascinating, but the level of regression involved is sometimes overwhelming.

            1. JBird4049

              Either way, if this is the case (that one can determine guilt or innocence by unaided personal viewing) then why bother with investigations and judicial determination at all?

              Yeah, this is what is really bothering me. It is not that there are disagreements in beliefs, opinions, and interpretations. That’s being human, but it is the raw wholesale partisan denial of facts, reason, law, or even just trying to be honest that does.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Neither, from the point of view of us unequal citizens, are Thomas and Alito and several others. Too bad we mopes don’t know how to gather and manage power to protect and advance or even articulate our own interests, unlike the looters who dominate us.

        The elites sneer at the touching and ineffectual sputterings of us pretty much disenfranchised and mostly owned mopes. Maybe the wiser and more agile among us lesser folk will have the last laugh after the apatosaurus and raptors kill each other off?

      3. Jeff W

        I agree with your comment.

        I did not watch the hearings—the whole thing is, like almost all of US politics, a travesty on many different levels—but I caught David Doel’s take on YouTube regarding Kavanaugh’s testimony. Doel thinks, based on that, that Kavanaugh is unequivocally guilty of the allegations against him—I think so, too—but I was struck more by his demeanor—the evasiveness, the defensiveness, the obstinacy, the sheer lack of credibly—than by the substance of his guilt. What an odious, repellent individual. His explanations of the references in his yearbook to Sen. Whitehouse rang completely and utterly false—I didn’t need a Slate piece to tell me the actual meanings of those words, Kavanaugh’s explanations of them were, in themselves, completely unconvincing. I get, even if I don’t agree with, the strategy of not yielding even the slightest ground—of not admitting, as a candid, even mild reflective, person would, that “Yes, I drank, yes, I drank to excess, yes, I threw up”—why give the tiniest opening to your opponents?—but to do so in such a patently unconvincing way raises far more reservations than more forthcoming answers might. It felt to me that Kavanaugh didn’t care if he was believed or not—his integrity meant nothing, even as he belligerently acted as if it had been impugned—all he cared about was sliding past the hearing and getting the votes. As low as my expectations of US politics are, with its idiotic framing, its trivial fixations, its Orwellian penchant for doing the exact opposite of what it espouses, rarely have I seen anything as disheartening as this.

        1. flora

          Not related specifically to the question of K, I must say that almost all of the guys I’ve known in my long life have been stand-up good guys. Not paragons (who is?) or perfect (who is?), but when push comes to shove they are there on the good side. (Though they’d make nothing of it and deny it was anything special. ) Then there were the very few I knew who were dangerously self-entitle ashh0les and stalking predators. Very reassuring to see the NC commentariate reads largely like the good guy side. thanks.

          1. Jeff W

            Thank you, flora!

            There’s this weird thing going on about “’80s sex culture” and drinking and all that. I went to a public high school—I knew and was friends with, say, the top 30 students, more or less—and an Ivy League college in the late 1970s and early 1980s and no one I knew at either place acted even remotely like these obnoxious kids at Kavanaugh’s high school are reputed to have acted. Perhaps people did, certainly at the Ivy League school, but we would have steered clear of them and shunned them as classless creeps. Rapes at parties aside, none of us would have (or did) put stuff like those callow, juvenile, smirky references in our yearbooks (not that we had stuff like that to put in)—even at the time we would have recognized how embarrassing, infantile and noxious references like those would be.

            I mention that to make the following points: first, this nomination is for the highest court in the land and there aren’t 10,000 other candidates who weren’t this lacking in self-awareness and integrity in high school or college? My friends and I can’t have been the only ones. And, second, as much as I like to believe that people can “redeem” themselves and “develop” insight and self-awareness as they get older, some people manage to remain self-centered jerks their entire lives—we can probably think of a few who are on the national stage right now or have been in the not-so-distant past. Brett Kavanaugh, via his testimony, did nothing to dissuade me from thinking that he is not in that category. I’ve known federal judges on a personal level—a few were clueless, or, worse, imperious asses but some were profoundly decent, humane and genuinely wise. Perhaps, even for the Supreme Court, we can’t hope for the latter but it’s tragic and telling that we, as a society, can’t find it beneath ourselves, as a matter of course, not to try to exclude the former.

    5. lyman alpha blob

      And here I was thinking it was the advocacy for illegally torturing other human beings that should shame him into withdrawing his candidacy or prevent the Senate from confirming him.

    6. The Rev Kev

      Haven’t wanted to comment much on the whole Kavanagh business. It is one of these things where nobody is going to come out the other end looking good. Not Kavanagh, not those women and certainly no-one connected officially with this hearing. What has interested me more was the social groups back in the 80s of whom Kavanagh was a minor player. You have to wonder how many people in that hearing went through the same sort of social life in their younger years and in fact Kavanagh did challenge one woman that was questioning him about this point but without getting an answer.
      I wondered too how that social life affected the way that these sort of people came to be when I remembered something that a commentator said several months ago. He mentioned that Napoleon stated that to understand a person, you must understand what the world looked like when he was 20. If this cohort of elites all experienced what Kavanagh went through back in the early 80s when they were in their twenties, it might go a long way in explaining the blatant misogynist attitudes that have resurfaced over the past coupla decades. It certainly seems to have shaped the attitudes of Kavanagh’s friend Mark Judge as an example.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I very much agree with you position on the whole Kavanagh business. Your application of Napolean’s observation about understanding a person is very insightful applied to Kavanagh and his cohort of elites. It might be interesting to see how Napolean’s observation applies to other cohorts in our society. I think it also raises questions about the impacts of the student loan situation and the impacts of our current economy and its future prospects on our current cohorts of young people.

      2. ObjectiveFunction

        I’m with you mate. I am a Kav contemporary and a lot of the party memoirs are familiar, the ones that get through the partisan wall of noise.

        As the father of a tweener daughter I find this iteration of #metoo a lot more teachable and reflective than the earlier phases of pussy hats / collective guilt, or reality show celeb demolition.

        1. For (most) young men, peer esteem is actually a lot more important than sex. They win it by daring each other to feats which defy authority and social convention (the stricter the better!). Mostly it’s just talk, but sometimes that gets passe.

        Also, in elite societies (especially those open to newcomers who can play the game) the broader stakes for (not) winning acceptance are huge!

        2. In vino veritas. This requires no elaboration.

        3. As a pretty girl, she will likely encounter this scene. It’s usually as an audience, perhaps as a participant (risky, but often fun – girls have their own social pressures), but always potentially as a victim….

        4. You don’t have to be molested or even touched to be a victim. The gossip and tall tales mill can do that (and your fellow girls will happily feed it).

        Who knows whether “Renate” actually slept with or even kissed any of those jerks; she was tagged in the yearbook by Kav and his chosen warrior band. Conform or be cast out.

        5. So basic rules apply in this combat environment: keep your wits about you, mind the company you keep, and seek safety in numbers: pick reliable friends and watch each others backs. It’s the solo antelope that gets picked off by the lions.

        On the Kav circus, my view is that Trump has an uncanny instinct for the hype cycle. The week hiatus gives the not strongly committed time to get bored, or tune out the wall of noise.

        And then Kav will be duly railroaded through on party lines. The GOP has always observed the (real) Nixon doctrine of Never Apologize, Never Concede, Never Backtrack.

        Experience (his lips moved) has shown there is no win for them with their base in doing so. Any crossover voters who are lost on this will stay lost, and the Trumphaters gonna trumphate.

    7. precariat

      ‘It is a duty he owes to the institution, which demands that he place the needs of the institution above his personal interests.’

      This seems to have been the spirit the ABA’s reservations about Kavanaugh in the mid 2000’s according to the Washington Post.

  3. timbers

    This New Republic story, What the hell just happened on Capitol Hill?, seems to have the right take:

    Further, if the FBI investigation goes through…it could help Kananaugh’s nomination. If the FBI finds no wrong-doing or comes to an ambiguous conclusion (as seems entirely plausible for a one-week investigation of a three-decades old case) this might give coverage to those Republicans who are reportedly undecided, like Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and Maine Senator Susan Collins.

    Well, if FBI can find Hillary did nothing wrong after they “investigated” her emails and she topped that off by blatantly lying to the FBI about not knowing of the classified rules for emails – not to mention her massive in-broad-daylight crimes of pay-to-play vis the Clinton Foundation – Likely they won’t find anything wrong with Kananaugh either.

    1. Tvc15

      Agree with timbers. I made a similar comment yesterday on the water cooler that I do not trust the investigation. Add the arbitrary “limited scope” directive from Trump and the deck seems stacked. Cue Leonard Cohen’s, “Everybody Knows”.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Perhaps this move by Trump will serve to shift evaluation of Kavanagh back to evaluation of his veracity, legal acumen, and suitability as a juror on our highest court. In my opinion his extreme politics make him peer to too few people in our society to qualify him to sit as one of twelve in the jury box of a municipal trial.

    3. Unna

      FBI investigation: My bet is that they don’t find much of anything other than what we already know, which is that the people Ford said were at the party, including her best friend, will continue to say that they don’t remember any such party ever having taken place. End of story. The swing senators will get their cover to vote yes on K. The Dems will embarrass themselves further by never being satisfied with any investigation that does not find that K to be a serial drunken sexual monster. He may be a legal monster but the Dems seem to have alraedy moved on from that.

      Torture? And how do the Dems differ from K? Really. Every Dem senator on that committee is complicit with Obama in condoning torture by not prosecuting torture. We’re talking here about people dying under torture. Go read the details about “anal feeding”. Abstract of Senate report. So where’s the entire report, Obama and DiFi? Why didn’t we get that? The Dems seem to be against torture in the abstract but tolerate it in the concrete. So what big diff is there on torture with K?

      So now the Dems are already calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor, and why not? Such an investigation could go on for years. What a show.

  4. Christy

    I noticed MORE bees too! I actually have a bumble bee nest in the ground by my house! I know they supposedly don’t ‘do much’ but happy to have ’em. Usually I find them on the sidewalk buzzing against the cement, dying.

      1. polecat

        I have 4 backyard hives that been quite vigorous this year, still bring in pollen .. though I am still feeding them as the days get shorter, so they don’t use up their winter stores until they’re no longer outdoor active. So hopefully they have at least a 1 in 4 chance of winter survival .. until late winter/early spring, when it’s safer to open, and inspect the hives.
        I find them enchanting, even with the occasional sting.

  5. Steve H.

    > The biggest time saver yet — moving into a tiny house

    “We own a 250 square foot adjacent dwelling unit (i.e. mother-in-law apartment) that we built in the backyard of our 2-bedroom starter home that we left because it was (oh irony!) too small.”
    “It would also look like camping, but with hot water and flushable toilets and quite comfortable beds.”

    This worked for them because they had wealth, in that they owned multiple buildings. It’s the utility hookups in particular that short-circuit tiny house economics.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Downsizing need not require much in the way of wealth.

      Seven years ago, our family purchased a lot in a Rust Belt city with two houses on it for $3,500. From that point on, we’ve used the money we would have spent on rent on materials to rehab these two 130 year-old houses that had been vacant and deteriorating for years. Other than installing new gas lines in the houses, we did all the plumbing, wiring, carpentry, plastering, etc. We first tackled the large two-family house and converted it into three apartments. Our son and his girlfriend rehabbed the smaller house this summer and are living in it now. My spouse and I live in the larger house along with our daughter and her boyfriend. Everybody has their own living room, bedroom and bath (I’ve plumbed 5 bathrooms to date.).

      Nobody has a mortgage. We share utilities and food expenses. Each individual contributes around $300 per month that covers shelter, utilities and food. My spouse and I are retired, but the kids are all working and banking money. On top of that, “grandma” and “grandpa” are there to take care of the dogs or make dinner after folks have had a long, hard day at work. Life is a lot easier for the young folks and a lot more interesting for us old folks.

      It hasn’t been easy. The first winter was like living in a barn. The big house had been demoed down to the studs, so black plastic tacked to the studs served as room dividers for privacy. But every year, things have gotten more comfortable and less aesthetically jarring. I’ve gotten so I have more attachment to this place than I did to a 3,200 sq. ft new house with 300 feet of lake frontage and a floating dock that we owned back when we were doing the rat race.

      I believe that the only way to have any kind of real freedom in this society is to strictly limit your financial commitments and requirements. If you have any hope of doing something creative or working in a job where you’re primarily helping people rather than generating a profit for a billionaire, it’s mandatory to keep the expenses down to a minimum. The easiest way to do that is band together and learn to do things for yourself.

      1. Wukchumni

        Freedom comes for me in the guise of things that don’t have a price tag on them.

        Who could put a dollar figure on a spectacular sunrise, or a mirror reflection on the surface of a high altitude lake, with craggy granite superimposed where water used to be?

      2. Olga

        Oh, but if you limit your expenditures, how will this “consumer-oriented” economy survive? Clutching pearls… (just kidding). Very true, avoiding temptation just to spend, spend (remember: “Go shopping!”) is the key to remain sane here. And it’s not just money saved, but also time and worry.

      3. ChiGal in Carolina

        What a wonderful way to live, good to hear all the hard work created a good place for three generations of your family in these troubled times.

    2. Anon

      Yes, moving to a tiny (smaller) house seems to work for this Boise, Idaho couple. Their seeming “wealth” (rental income) surely eases the transition, as does their work at home status.

      I lived in Boise for a few years and still have friends living there. That 6-bedroom house (rented on BnB) from which they ‘decamped’ is likely in a well-to-do area of town, and likely rented short-term (illegally) in a single-family neighborhood. The ‘rentier’ economy in disguise.

      A small house can work when the children are small; not so much when they get larger. But then that 6-bedroom rental will still be available; at least as collateral for a down payment when it’s time to decamp from the tiny house to something larger.

      Living the ‘outdoor’ life in Boise is actually not that difficult. The city has extensive greenway trails (off-street travel) and more park acreage than most cities in the US. It’s an attractive place to live and a 6-bedroom house is likely to increase in value. A big plus if you’re currently living (temporarily?) in a backyard ‘shed’.

      Tiny, single-family houses (sheds) take up more acreage than tiny flats.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “The World America Made—and Trump Wants to Unmake”

    Working link for this article at-

    Weird article as it claims that the liberal order that came about some 75 years ago is exactly the same as the neoliberal one that it has evolved into. I thought it very tone deaf to factual history until I realized that the article was written by Robert Kagan of the infamous neoconservative Kagan clan. Not just my opinion – even his Wikipedia page lists him as a neoconservative.

    1. Doug Hillman

      kagan’s defense of the liberal world order is a fine example of double-plus-good doublethink propaganda straight from the Ministry of Truth. He rewrites history and the dictionary. War is peace, slavery is freedom, totalitarianism is liberal, war is humanitarian, and America is a champion of democracy. Got it.

      Kagan is the neocon spouse of Victoria Nuland isn’t he? She was Hillary’s deputy overseeing the Democratic coup in Ukraine I believe.

      1. Procopius

        Yes, and she hired him for some kind of “consulting” job. He was an active supporter during her campaign and was one of the reasons I was leary of voting for her. I was afraid she would nominate him as Secretary of State or at least appoint him to a top level job there. After all, who promoted Victoria Nuland?

    2. UserFriendly

      Was my over the top sarcasm complete with tinkerbell reference describing it too subtle? I sent it in as laughably bad.

    1. Judith

      I have thought for a long time that the title of David Halberstam’s book on Vietnam, “The Best and the Brightest” was meant in a bitterly ironic way.

      1. Eudora Welty

        I’ve been a colleague of Dr. Swisher for 15 years. She doesn’t call attention to herself ordinarily. She’s solid.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          As I read it, the investigation is narrowly focused on the specific allegations of assault. I don’t see her saying she has knowledge of any of the incidents, so she would not be interviewed.

      2. MK

        The delay is to whitewash Kav so Collins & Merkowski have cover to vote yes. This isn’t to upset the apple cart. Notice how calm and collected both Trump and McConnell looked and sounded with the delay.

        The fix is already in, and it is a sad state of affairs.

        I do blame Obama for not recess appointing Garland to the court just to force the issue while he still could.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Recess-appointing Garland would not have increased Obama’s financial rewards after leaving office. So it never occurred to Obama to recess-appoint Garland.

    2. whine country

      “And, most importantly, they know each other.” Kinda says it all. We’re scared to death of Fascism, Communism and Socialism but this is Cronyism right in our face. It’s not what you know – It’s who you know.

      1. Kurtismayfield

        The Military isn’t afraid of Socialism. The banks are not afraid of Socialism. Why should we be?

        1. JTMcPhee

          Socialism, the concept, is like MMT— an adjustable wrench that fits a lot of very different nuts. And bolts.

          1. whine country

            And cronyism is….. I see you missed my point. Worry about Socialism while Cronyism keeps on keeping on. That’s their plan.

            1. JTMcPhee

              I got your point. It’s just that as we see here every time the subject arises, “socialism” like “MMT” is a great category-debate starter, and both notions are, as you point out and I tried to say, readily capable of being put to use by the Dark Forces like the MICC and Panopticon and Wall Street.

    3. DJG

      Otis B Driftwood: Excellent indeed. And she doesn’t spare liberals, either.

      To put it in terms from Hannah Arendt: This is the banality of evil, that these kind-a well-meaning people have gone about their jobs of impoverishing and destroying others. And what do they want? Approval. Which is pretty much all that Eichmann wanted, too.

    4. Olga

      Good piece, although I am surprised it took the writer until the Hillary-moment to realize all the elite corruption. To “ordinary,” banal,” and “average” I’d add “mediocre.” That was most obvious to me. Spoke later with a young friend, who not long ago graduated from Harvard Law Sch. He said that they read BK’s work and the guy was not considered too intelligent by anyone at the school.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The Hillary Clinton campaign was my big emperor-wears-no-clothes moment, when the mundane ineptitude of the ruling elite exposed itself and demolished whatever faith I retained in rule-by-the-most-excellent… there was probably a reason its top brass were the ones in charge of battling Republicans. Because they knew how to win.

        Meagan Day recognized the elites in the U.S. are just incompetent beyond even mediocre. I’ll always remember my the emperor has no clothes moment, even though I should have been aware of the situation much longer. I blame (and this is by no means an original thought) blame popular culture most notably “The West Wing” for creating the illusion government is run by thoughtful, compassionate people who are having great debates.

        Recognizing gross stupidity is hard, even scary. At least the corrupt can be reasoned with, but you can’t fix stupid. The whole propaganda effort around the Clintons was there strategy was done to help win, but it takes looking back at recent elections (U.S. history wins around 1943, so most people are still waiting to find out who won World War II, hence the popularity of Nazis as villains to this day) to recognize the flaws in the DLC view of politics reasoning.

        I assume since Meagan Day is at Jacobin she isn’t a fan of the Clintons, but bias exists, so I would wager she allowed policy differences to cloud her own views on say the competency of the Clintons because after all Bill was President during a period of GOP ascendancy. People who seem tolerable allowed the Clintons to run things for so long.

        Its possible she has vague memories of a “nerd” show such as Crossfire where Donna Brazille and Tucker Carlson would debate the issues of the day. Its shocking the universe didn’t fold in upon itself.

      2. Chris

        Speaking of incompetent elites, in Australia we have this thing called “The Mick Young conspiracy theory”:

        If the choices are between a conspiracy and a stuff-up, go for the stuff-up every time. The bastards are too stupid to organise a decent conspiracy.

    5. JBird4049

      Most people are not some sort of elite, but most people, I think, do want to improve themselves in someway, even if it is something small, but real, like to be a great hamburger maker, or grow a better cucumber, but too many of our “elites” cultivate mediocrity of the mind or soul. Find new ways to lie, deceive, and bs, and then tell their egos how great they are for doing so. I am guessing all the money goes to such improvement.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Tesla’s Musk pulled the plug on a settlement with the SEC at the last minute”

    Elon Musk reported to have said: “Hold my joint and watch this. I am going to prove that you can fight the Fed”

        1. pretzelattack

          he better hope it doesn’t get stuck in a tunnel in thailand, i don’t think the divers would rescue him.

  8. Steve H.

    > Future of Jobs 2018 – Reports World Economic Forum

    I love how clicking the link takes you to “Strategic Drivers of New Business Models” (and that’s within the site). To get to the part about jobs, you have to click the pdf. Here’s the line that sums it up:

    “By evaluating the issues at
    hand from the perspective of some of the world’s largest

  9. Samuel Conner

    I’ll listen to the “Planet Money” podcast to see if it’s a fair enough representation of MMT to pass on to friends who don’t yet “get” MMT.

    But IMO it speaks a great deal to the irrelevance of NPR that they found 865 topics that they reckoned were more important to cover than MMT.

    A long time ago when the GFC was about to become visible, but not quite yet, and the thing that held people’s attention was the mortgage securitization problem (that had for years been foretold by Bill McBride at CalculatedRisk and a few other farsighted people [perhaps Yves among them; I didn’t start following NC until a couple of years after I discovered CR]), I was for a while “taken” by the “giant pool of money” description of the subprime mortgage crisis presented in NPR’s “This American Life.” In retrospect, I see that that podcast de-emphasized or ignored the criminogenic environment, as Bill Black put it, (deregulation, lax to criminal underwriting standards, lawless mortgage assignment/”registration” practices, corrupt appraisals) and presented a thesis that was exculpatory of the “system as it is.” It was all the result of those global savings propensities.

    “Planet Money” arose later, involving the same people, but I never paid attention. That it took them close to 1000 episodes to get to MMT IMO vindicates my inattention.

    1. johnnygl

      I’d point out to any friends that still believe in deficit morality that this underatanding, that deficits don’t really matter the way we’re told they do, has been understood by 3 out of the last 4 republican administrations (on a kind instinctive level). The one that refused to hit the fiscal accelerator is the one that did NOT get re-elected.

      I think it’s essential to understanding why republicans are able to win elections…to over simplify, it’s because they hit the fiscal accelerator and dems consistently hit the brakes, again and again.

      If trump gets re-elected, it’s because he made the economy grow (however unequally and incompetently). Putting money in people’s pockets is a vote winner, even if much more goes to the donor class.

      1. fresno dan

        September 29, 2018 at 11:02 am

        Dick Cheney: You know, Paul, Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter. We won the mid-term elections, this is our due.

        Why does anyone spend anytime arguing about deficit spending? Other than as a McGuffin to distract from the fact that NEITHER party wants any money in any way, shape, or form getting into the hands of someone in the lower 90%. Its not the economics, its the control
        To paraphrase Mark Twain, say you take a rich man, and say you take a powerful man, but I repeat myself.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          To me, it goes like this:

          -Republicans hate social spending that isn’t available for the parasite rent extraction class
          -the GOP sends out talking points through various sources email, talk radio, and so forth.
          -their arguments are terrible.
          -most voters are emotional and can be swayed but more likely suppressed through the appearance of argument.
          -inevitably your local GOP loud mouth will be met by someone with a clue on issues such as education, transportation, healthcare.
          -at this point, the complete moral bankruptcy and lack of efficiency of GOP ideas has a problem, and they GOP’s emotional appeal amounts to, “won’t someone think of Evan Trump!”
          -the deficit is a huge number, and a number people have no rational conception of. Most people have no concept of the differences over our lives of a movie star who makes $20 million every few years and a billionaire, largely because we don’t deal with these numbers, even though we might understand it on an intellectual level we don’t grasp it on an intellectual level
          -the national debt is so big, and seems like we should do something about it.
          -the sheer size and distance of the national debt along with the lack of emotional appeals hurts more center left challenges to Republican orthodoxy because there is no common ground from which to start.
          -at this point, a Republican gets away with being a pig because no one is willing to question him.

          I for one think MMT arguments are a waste of time from a political standpoint. Its simple enough to say trillions for planes that don’t work but the school just teaches the 2 R’s now.

        2. Inode_buddha

          If you look closely you will notice that those who most desire control over others often have the least control over themselves. And vice versa, those who have mastered themselves have no desire to rule over others.

          1. Henry Moon Pie

            He who conquers men has force.
            He who conquers himself is truly strong.

            Tao Teh Ching, Ch. 33 (trans: Wu)

        3. JohnnyGL

          “Dick Cheney: You know, Paul, Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter. We won the mid-term elections, this is our due.”

          During my late college years and early adult years, I struggled to understand how the world economy worked. I started learning about the Asian Crisis, and the Argentinian default/devaluation and gained an understanding of balance of payments, various currency regimes, etc.

          For a long time, I saw this remark as a demonstration of Cheney’s reckless, irresponsible, destructive attitude. By late 2000s-early 2010s, I realized he was more right than I knew, and the big nothing-burger of QE confirmed it beyond a shadow of a doubt for all to see. By the time Bernanke rolled it out, I knew it was going to have underwhelming effects, and it did exactly that.

          That’s years of learning, guided heavily by NakedCap and the MMT crowd that has been featured here.

          Federal government deficits really just tell you how quickly the assets of the private sector are growing. How that money gets divvied up matters, but more money going into the private sector means just that.

    2. Procopius

      I am so glad Calculated Risk kept an archive of Tanta’s articles on mortgage backed securities. I started learning there, because I hadn’t found Naked Capitalism yet. It really helped me understand ECONned.

    1. Lee

      1, Never, ever say “hold my beer and watch this!” These are the most dangerous words ever spoken…

      Brett Kavanaugh would no doubt agree.

  10. Wukchumni

    Trump Administration Acknowledges Anthropogenic Climate Change Lawyers, Guns & Money (furzy)

    Years ago I read The Drowned World, by J.G. Ballard. Written in 1962, little did I know, it’s really a how-to book. He was a magnificent writer and the tableau he set was mainly psychological, which will be the same with us, when shift happens.

  11. allan

    Class warfare: I’m beginning to think that Universal Basic Income belongs in this category.

    The boomlet in pro-UBI propaganda now includes not only a slew of books by Serious People,
    like Andy Stern of SEIU and public-option fame, and many positive mentions at Davos,
    but now also includes a movie, Free Lunch Society, which was recently shown here.

    The UBI boosters in the film seem to be a billionaire owner of a (presumably low-wage) drug store chain,
    a venture capitalist (who distorts the history of the productivity vs. worker income time series so as to
    make it seem due to recent advances in AI), and various freaky libertarians and techno-nirvana futurists.
    Left undiscussed are issues like the implicit subsidy of low-wage jobs,
    and the fees that financial middlemen will extract from the rubes citizens.
    There’s one creepy scene of a UBI experiment in Namibia, with a villager proudly waving
    his chipped UBI debit card – all I could think was, how much is the fee for checking his balance?
    Caveat emptor.

    1. JohnnyGL

      There’s not a lot of power in consumption. But there’s quite a bit in production. UBI aides consumption, and does nothing to put power in people’s hands.

      UBI is a neoliberal ‘big idea’ that is meant to shore up the problems that neoliberalism itself has created.

      The Job Guarantee is a much more promising idea. Obviously, details of implementation are key.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Seriously? Let’s all laugh at the hillbillies and rednecks? You probably did not mean it that way but this is the sort of thing that feeds into people supporting Trump as they have been deemed ‘deplorable’ by their ‘betters’ – such as the writers of SNL.

      1. bob

        The war nerd called it years ago now-

        The new hicks are from Manhattan.

        They need a sign to tell them when to laugh.

        Image that clip without the “live studio audience” being told when to laugh- “applause!”

        Its a bunch of literal dialog. Nothing funny. No punchlines. Just hicks trying to pretend to be hicks. That’s FUNEE! “wheel chairs have wheels!”

  12. Doug Hillman

    It looks like Elon Musk’s batteries are way down, too much time in “ludicrous” mode. Rejecting the SEC’s customary wrist-tap for a fraud charge makes him look incapacitated.

    But who knows, can the SEC actually do anything at all at this level? Musk may be in ludicrous mode, but ludicrous in a Tesla type-S leaves a Ferrari choking on its dust

  13. fresno dan

    So I am up late (5 am) and I go to open the front window and there is a possum on my front porch. The possum looks up at me and nonchalantly trundles off….
    I did notice that my accumulation of spider webs (real spider webs, not Halloween decorations) were gone, so I am assuming the possum ate them – so I am grateful. Maybe I can get a ladder for the possum and it can clean out all the spider webs under my eves. This place has an inordinate amount of spider webs and those things are much harder to remove than one would think.

    1. Steve H.

      Found two in a container on my front porch yesterday. I took them to the back, where I’ve got a woodpile set up as a terrace with habitat underneath. They zipped in, and the cream I left for them was gone this morning, so hopefully they’ll stick around.

    2. Carolinian

      They also like to eat ticks.

      But I’m no fan of possums which will get in your attic or under your house if at all possible. My tree filled urban neighborhood has lots of wildlife and even a baby black bear at one point (it escaped back into the woods of a nearby park).

      1. Wukchumni

        One unforgettable sight you’ll see driving on the road in New Zealand is a majestic NZ Falcon feasting on possum roadkill, until you get too close and then in a series of flapping it’s wings, departs rather abruptly.

        It’d be akin to coming upon a bald eagle in the same manner…

    3. polecat

      fresno dan , Why u no likes spiders ??

      They are good !
      They eat bugs !
      They are living, breathing biomechanical entities showing off their mastery of physics and biochemistry !

      I am constantly running into orbweaver webs. They’re All over the yard .. just weeks before, they were tiny suspended dots. Now, they’re the size of quaters .. A few especially like to ‘hang around’ my Warre’ bee hives .. but that’s just fine by me. It’s when you DON’T have spiders around that you should be worried ..
      No spiders = No insects =really bad environmental juju !!

  14. The Rev Kev

    “The biggest time saver yet — moving into a tiny house”

    The authoress said that they moved into a 250 square foot adjacent dwelling unit. A bit of historical perspective here. In 1963 the average new house had 1,450 square feet. A generation before that the Levittown ( house had a size of about 750 square feet.
    Two generations before that a cabin on the frontier ( was required to be only 120 square feet as a minimum. So living in a house this size is historically common as she has pointed out.
    Seems to be the key is deciding what to keep. Best advice that I ever read on this point was made over a 130 years ago by Jerome K. Jerome in his book “” Three Men in a Boat”. The advice was this-
    “We must not think of the things we could do with, but only of the things that we can’t do without.”

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Apartments, recreational vehicles, and caravans/travel trailers ALL make more sense than the jewel box tiny houses touted in the media. I suspect the primary reason people buy/build tiny houses is simply because they don’t want to be mistaken for “trailer trash”.

    2. paul

      The smugnifucating tone of the article made me wish the authors not a high five or fist bump, but perhaps a little less fortune than they have experienced.

      My precis: We have found people to consolidate our leverage.

      1. sporble

        Agree completely on the tone: Smaller/less – good idea, but apparently there’s still plenty of room in their tiny “Shed” for smugness. And the woman who wrote the piece is a writer! I ain’t buyin’ her books!

    1. Wukchumni

      You can’t help but feel you are somewhat of a deity, when after flipping out of your hammock to take a leak in the a.m., and within 10 minutes, 6 members of the Marmot Cong are fighting each other over the booty.

    2. Lord Koos

      Crazy — it seems like it would be easier and a lot less costly to put out a few hundred salt licks every few months than to airlift hundreds of goats.

      1. Edward E

        It sure would, I do that very thing because our whitetail deer will do the very same thing these goats are doing when they don’t have mineral licks. Salt, trace mineral and calcium licks are magnetic, some serious digging goes on to get their satisfaction since blocks are a bit strong to lick directly.

        I want one of these…

  15. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: New Keynesian nonsense ‘proofs’ — I think this link sums up my assessment — and that of many other commenters — of yesterday’s post “A Rational Backlash Against Globalization”. The the math supporting the post’s conclusions was hidden under the hood of the models the authors reference but kindly omitted. I think these snippets from Keynes’s letter [quoted in fuller extract in the link] are most fitting: “… nothing emerges at the end which has not been introduced expressly or tacitly at the beginning …” and “… a contraption proceeding from premises which are not stated with precision to conclusions which have no clear application …”

    I was also struck by a quote from the philosopher David Hume referenced in a comment to the link especially with the MMT conference ongoing:
    “It is very tempting to a minister to employ such an expedient, as enables him to make a great figure during his administration, without overburdening the people with taxes, or exciting any immediate clamours against himself. The practice, therefore, of contracting debt will almost infallibly be abused, in every government. It would scarcely be more imprudent to give a prodigal son a credit in every banker’s shop in London, than to impower a statesman to draw bills, in this manner, upon posterity.”

    It seems the comparisons between a national economy and a household economy may go back a long way and originate from august sources. No wonder it is such an enduring fiction, although it does seem to fit the way too many of our state and local governments handle their fiscal problems.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I should note that deficits are not the tool states and locales use — they use bond issues — not quite the same as deficits.

    2. barefoot charley

      Great Hume quote. We must bear in mind that money in his day was insufficiently fiat: Yes, bankers loaned nine times what they had on deposit–but what they had on deposit had value made of gold and silver. Even fiat currencies had ultimate stores of scarce value until Nixon unvalued ours. This is background to understanding what happened in the Bank of England’s good old days (Hume’s days) when panics depleted the stores. What happened was, its private shareholders (who received 6 percent interest in good times and bad) faced the choice of losing their principle and interest forever by letting the bank fail, *or* buying more shares to float through the panic, and pull in more 6 percent interest forever after. This was the original reason for private ownership of the quasi-state bank: after ruining the Jews, fleecing the Church and pillaging unlikeable lords in the grand old manner, England adopted Holland’s expedient of politely requiring more money from wealthy investors as needed, with the happy consequence of making them wealthier. Win win!

      1. Mel

        Walter Bagehot discusses this at length in Lombard Street. What seems to have happened during incipient panics, was that the Bank would raise interest rates to discourage withdrawals and encourage deposits of foreign gold, and on one occasion, the government passed a bill to the effect that the Bank didn’t have to pay people.
        Bagehot felt that the no-pay bailout was a terrible thing to do — the best defence was a calm and confident policy that wouldn’t destroy other people’s confidence.

      2. JTMcPhee

        A quote from Alexander Pope might be apposite also:

        Blest paper credit: last and best supply!

        That lends corruption lighter wings to fly …

        Pregnant with thousands trillions slips the scrap unseen,

        And silent buys a king — or sells a queen.

        Pope, “Epistle to Bathurst”

        There’s a lot more, appropriate to the current circumstances, from the wisdom of Pope, which one can read, with archaic orthography, here:

        What Nature wants, commodious Gold beſtows,
        ‘Tis thus we eat the bread another ſows:
        But how unequal it beſtows, obſerve,
        ‘Tis thus we riot, while who ſow it, ſtarve.
        What Nature wants (a phraſe I much diſtruſt)
        Extends to Luxury, extends to Luſt;
        And if we count among the Needs of life
        Another’s Toil, why not another’s Wife?
        [Page 3] Uſeful, we grant, it ſerves what life requires,
        But dreadful too, the dark Aſſaſſin hires:
        Trade it may help, Society extend;
        But lures the Pyrate, and corrupts the Friend:
        It raiſes Armies in a nation’s aid,
        But bribes a Senate, and the Land’s betray’d.
        Oh! that ſuch Bulky bribes as all might ſee
        Still, as of old, encumber’d Villainy!
        In vain may Heroes fight, and Patriots rave,
        If ſecret Gold ſaps on from knave to knave.

        Nothing new beneath the sun, as it would seem—
        no shame, nor yet reluctance, to be seen…

  16. BoyDownTheLane

    Interesting that a fellow of the medical specialty society that won recognition of the specialty and has lobbied for decades about the need to recognize the depth and breadth of the process, geography, training and expertise involved in staffing what used to be called the accident room (literally, one room in days gone by) should us the term “ER”. Most of them graduated to full-fledged “departments” a long time ago, and most large hospitals are upgrading to facilities that would dwarf entire hospitals in the hinterlands.

    Otherwise a good piece, done with a sense of humor drawn from AFV. [For the records, my wife was the Head Nurse of the 4th-busiest ED in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I ran the state chapter of ACEP, and its multiple symposia on medicine and trauma. Both of us were involved in a major demonstration of how alcohol impairs driving done with TV coverage on a local airport runway.]

  17. Indrid Cold

    Every chiseller in the world now wants to sue Page/Plant for Stairway to Heaven. Just because you early 70s folkie band went nowhere big, doesn’t mean you dig up your old reel to reel tapes to ‘prove’ that those guys somehow ‘stole’ your ultra common minor chord arrangement-that shows up from about the 13th century forward was somehow illegally copied.
    Page & Plant would be best served by just putting their entire corpus into public domain. What do they want? To live forever?

    1. MK

      $$$$ – the royalty award (if successful) would be in the tens of millions.

      I suspect Page & Plant don’t want to cough up that kind of money right before heading to their own stairway.

      1. Wukchumni

        There’s a Unabanker who’s sure his trail will go cold
        And he’s boarding a stairway to a haven
        When he gets there he knows, extradition is a no go
        With a word he can get what he came for
        Ooh, ooh, and he’s boarding a stairway to a haven

        There’s signs all is not well, but he wants to be sure
        ‘Cause you know sometimes absconders have strange leanings
        It’s obvious he cooked books, but there’s never any jail time
        Sometimes all of our thoughts are a given

        Ooh, it makes me wonder
        Ooh, it makes me wonder

        There’s a feeling I get when I look in jest
        And my spirit is crying he’s leaving
        In my thoughts I have seen rings of deception
        And the voices of those who lack standing

        Ooh, it makes me wonder
        Ooh, it really makes me wonder

        And it’s whispered that soon, if we all call the tune
        Then justice will lead us to reason
        And a new day will dawn for those who stand for right and wrong
        And the bloggers will echo with laughter

        If there’s a bezzle in your hedge fund, don’t be alarmed now
        It’s just a spring clean for the has beens
        Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
        There’s no time to change the road you’re on
        And it makes me wonder

        Your conscience is long gone and it won’t go, in case you don’t know
        Ill gotten gains is calling you to join in
        Dear Unabanker, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know
        Your runway lies on the downwind?

        How did he wind on down this road
        On ill gotten gains considerably larger than his soul
        There walks a Unabanker we all know
        Who sprouts white lies and wants to show
        How everything still turns to gold
        And if you listen very hard
        The tune will come to you at last
        When he is gone and that is all
        To be a crook waiting for the plane to roll
        And he’s boarding a stairway to a haven

    2. voteforno6

      I think this was enabled, in part, when Marvin Gaye’s estate successfully sued Robin Thicke a few years back…I thought that one was ridiculous, and this one seems even more so.

    3. Big River Bandido

      As Summer points out, it’s mostly lawyers and heirs who are doing the gold-digging.

      The “Blurred Lines” case is a travesty on many levels. The trial judge should be disbarred. The only judge with any sense in this whole case is Judge Nguyen on the appeals court (which, frustratingly, the BBC doesn’t identify). Copyright law says the only things a composer can copyright are the lyrics (if there are lyrics), the melody, and the relationship of the melody to the chords, but not the chords themselves. Either judges don’t know the law, or they’re tone deaf, or both.

  18. Wukchumni

    These People Are Nuts: Pot Stocks Soar as Pot Prices Plummet Wolf Richter (EM)
    One thing I was hoping on, that legalization would chase the various Mexican DTO’s out of the Sierra Nevada & Sequoia-Kings Canyon NP in particular, but no dice so far. There was a 3,500 plant bust last month @ around 5,000 feet, which happens to be smack dab in the middle of the newlydead zone, where the lions share of the 129 million dead trees stand sentinel, awaiting combustion.

    The mopes manning the gardens cook over an open flame for 4 months…

    Only will the pressure of pot being valued like pot marjoram, will make them go away, so I say bring it on, in a force marijuana majeure market move.

  19. Edward

    “US mid-terms: Hackers expose ‘staggering’ voter machine flaws”

    The Democrats having carrying on for months about alleged “Russian hacking”. Will anything happen now?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      No, because “hacking” isn’t an issue. The main point of “Russian hacking” is most people know jack about computers or Russia and major geopolitical points and it lets Democrats blame the election loss without making any real reforms. Any critical assessment can be met with, “do you have access to classified information like Claire McCaskill?” Much like the national debt its designed to drown out calls for reform.

  20. Wukchumni

    We were in a hotel in Auckland overnight when the tsunami hit on Boxing Day in 2004, and the next morning the Sri Lanka cricket team was in the lobby, as they were going to play the Kiwis in a series of matches that week. And nobody knew nothing at that point, and my wife talked to a wife of one of the players, and they were concerned, but what can you do?

    The number of dead just kept rising and rising as weeks passed, it was unlike anything anybody living in centuries had experienced heretofore, as i’d remembered a tsunami in Hawaii in the 40’s that killed around 100 people, and that was impressive in scope.

    The real worry in the USA is something similar to the 1700 earthquake & tsunami in the PNW, as they are in no way shape or form ready for it.

  21. Wukchumni

    Devil’s Ombudsman Dept.:

    It’s pretty obvious that the FBI has a meaty bone to chew with the reign of error, and what better marrow than the one they’ll have a week to figure out how to nail to the wall?

  22. Unna

    In this time of our descent into national political nihilism, let us now engage for a brief moment in an act of Commemorative Recollection of Truth. Actually I find both of these quite moving.

    Prayer for Saturday Night:

    Tex Ritter, God Bless America Again

    Prayer for Sunday at Evening Twilight:

    Allegri, Miserere Mei, Deus

    The Ford – K thing has put me in a religious mood. The Miserere is about 5 minutes long. Pay attention to the soaring soprano voice.

  23. Xquacy

    Re: MOA, Climate Change

    That comment thread is full of denialist wackos. For that matter, Mr. “b’s” speculations about survival scenarios are equally wacko:

    While short term human greed will likely prevent a reduction in hydrocarbon use, and a slowing down of climate change, there may be other effects that could suddenly turn the trend. A large volcanic eruption or a big asteroid impact could cloud the earth and bring back (much) colder times. Some yet unknown effect in the atmosphere that is not anticipated in current climate models could stop or reverse the current trend.

    At least with respect to climate change, its easy to compare the evidence with claims to determine where on the craziness index one falls. This particular comment thread does not inspire confidence in the authenticity on any other topic of empirical consequence, much less the Syrian war on that blog, with respect to the comments.

    As for MOA’s coverage of that war itself, it is of particular note just how blind-sighted it is to the cause of the Kurds in Syria in its loathing for US occupation of the region. To be charitable to MOA though, the exact same is true of even veteran middle east commentators like Fisk and Cockburn, who make only passing references to Rojava as a minor geopolitical calculation in great power conflict. The idea that an immediate end to US occupation would likely mean a genocide of Kurds at worst or a dismantling of real democratic arrangements in Rojava does not occur to hyperventilating opponents of the empire.

    1. Schmoe

      Unfortunately MOA is likely more credible than MSM sources on Syria. Even feature stories like a recent 60 minutes segment on the alleged gas attack in 2017 was so riddled with easy mistakes that it was painful to watch (“Sarin can only be made in a high-tech lab set up by a government” – tell that to the Japanese cult that manufactured it, and “the 2017 attack matched Syrian govt stockpiles” but then forgot to mention that the 2013 Sarin attack did not match Syria govt stockpiles).

      1. Darthbobber

        And it’s worth remembering that a number of “our” rebels were senior Syrian military officers until they vanished and then announced the turning of their coats. Fair assumption that any of them with access to chemical warfare components liberated some of those.

        Also that some of the Syrian stockpiles were in areas where govt control was questionable to say the least.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Take any opportunity to push the Narrative and deprecate anyone who pokes holes in it. Not the best impeachment attempt. MoA has it mostly right, shows the lies (the whole Skripal fraud, where ARE those Skripals, by the way, and the “White Helmets-Black Hearts” and their put-up “chemical attacks,”) and the idiocy of the entire imperial play there. Is it ok that the Empire has been supporting ISIS and al Quaeda, those supposed “they want to kill us for our freedoms” types? One of the many items that MoA and even Sic Semper Tyrannis and other shall we say “conservative” places and commenters have been reporting on?

      As to the Kurds, and what might happen to them once Syria is no longer a Great Power playground, and as some of them keep on pressing and fighting to carve out a piece of the current Theatre of Conflict in southern Turkey and Iraq and Syria, what role should the Empire be playing there? And do you have any concern for the Kurds in Iraq that the Empire worked hard to get to overthrow Saddam, and then walked away from, or the Montagnards/Hmong and all the other suckers that the Imperial geopoliticians have summoned into service to the Empire and then kicked to the curb and sold out? Remember the “Secret War” that the CIA is so proud of?

      But one has to appreciate the persistence and subtlety of folks who feel driven to support the Empire in all its activities, for whatever reason, and try to keep spreading the “fear, uncertainty and doubt” to keep the mopes wondering and bemused…

      1. The Rev Kev

        Would you believe that the “White Helmets” are now contenders for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize? You can’t make this s*** up. If they get it, I intend to retroactively nominate the German Schutzstaffel for a Nobel peace Prize as well on the grounds of their humanitarian works back in the early forties.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Maybe Obomber will return his unearned run, they can save the cost of striking another medal… are there no institutions that aren’t corrupt and nothing but storefronts in the Great Market any more? Not much left to belieeeve in, of all the stuff I was taught to belieeeve in as a callow youth…

      2. Xquacy

        Maybe the “narrative” you supposed I was pushing had nothing to do with defending the empire. Maybe it was just trying to force an acknowledgment for the Kurds and what they have created, which seems completely absent except from radical left news aggregators like Zmag. I would imagine that a community of people consciously banishing the “State” as a form of organization would be at least worthy of attention to people usually concerned with decency and democracy which drives the whole anti-empire sentiment in great measure.

        Notice the charges I drew against MOA were specific, not aimed at discrediting everything posted there. I pointed out what was very off base and there was no challenge against it. Instead, you chose to attack my imagined assumptions.

        As for the Iraqi Kurds, sure the support of the empire for them as with most other “allies” and loony monstrosities has always been geostrategic. I am asking, is the correct approach permanent cynicism to the empires aims, or the acknowledgement that sometimes those aims my be compatible with moral outcomes, even if the empire does not itself make moral calculations? In the current situation, would you rather see the Turks and Assad overrun the Kurdish occupied region – a predictable outcome should US military withdraw support?

        1. JTMcPhee

          I’d say with respect to your closing question that a “responsibility to protect” false choice is still a a false and in this instance a context-free one. Not the least because R2P is a moral fraud and distracting lie. See “Libya,” and the school girls and women of Afghanistan.

          Other than to “protect” the interests of our elites and the MIC, what happens to the “Kurdistan Project”’ is none of our business, “our” being the nominal citizens of the Empire, who actually are mostly looted and spied-upon and economically and politically ravaged ordinary people.

          And I doubt you can point to any significant Imperial adventures and interventions where there have been “good outcomes” for people identifiable, like the Kurds and other groups, from such interventions. Any fortuitous “moral outcomes” you would care to put forth for discussion? Iraq? Afghanistan? Vietnam, maybe? Grenada?

          The Empire, and I’m glad in a way that public discourse now mostly concedes, acknowledges and openly celebrates what it is and how it operates, is uniformly about looting for profit and demolition of any parties that might be struggling toward “moral outcomes,” anywhere on the planet. Any “help” tendered to such parties (would that include arming, training, “supporting” and “protecting” al Quaeda and ISIS and the Saudis killing Yemen, and going back a bit, Jonas Savimbi and Batista and the Shah, and now the Israelis killing and dispossesing Palestinians?) is pure chimera, and comes with the cruelest kind of “strings” attached. Cui bono from imperial involvement in Ukraine, again?

          So yes, the correct approach is cynicism, not cherry-picking little corners of argument about how some of the ants don’t get crushed by the elephant’s feet. This time. But keep on doing what you do. Maybe somebody, person or corporation or whatever, will profit from it. Not, to my mind, the General Welfare of people or the planet.

  24. none

    Musk has settled with the SEC. He stays on as CEO, steps down as chairman, Tesla and Musk each must pay $20M which will go to investors harmed by the tweet, plus some other stuff. Seems like a worse deal than the one he backed out of. They have to appoint an independent chairman (chairperson?) and 2 independent directors. Wonder if those could end up being hostile.

  25. Wukchumni

    Women seem to be leading the charge in protesting, in particular with regards to the latest mano y womano proceedings in the Senate.

    It’s reminiscent of the early stages of the French Revolution, albeit not anything close to the cause today. It was over the scarcity of bread brought about by the Icelandic volcano Laki erupting in 1783-84, disrupting growing seasons thenceforth.

    The Women’s March on Versailles, also known as The October March, The October Days, or simply The March on Versailles, was one of the earliest and most significant events of the French Revolution. The march began among women in the marketplaces of Paris who, on the morning of 5 October 1789, were near rioting over the high price and scarcity of bread.

  26. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for the link to the article from “Lawyers, Guns and Money” about the Trump administration’s environmental impact statement to justify freezing federal fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks. The administration’s statement predicts a rise in global temperatures of 7 degrees by 2100, assumes that temperature increase is already baked in the cake regardless of any policy actions, then says they’re not going to do anything about it.

    The NHTSA document projects that if the world takes no action to curb emissions, current atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide would rise from 410 parts per million to 789 ppm by 2100.

    We have just experienced another summer of long periods of very unhealthy air quality from heavy wildfire smoke here in the Pacific Northwest, together with historically atypical drought and heat waves. I agree with the governor of the state of Washington that this federal administration’s “Do nothing” policy WRT global warming is “morally reprehensible”.

  27. none

    We got to convince them that if temps rise that much, only POC (genetically adapted for hot weather) will survive. Who’d have thought the white genocide would be brought about by republicans? Ironic.

    1. VietnamVet

      There is a strong correlation amount of melanin in the skin and the amount of sunlight. Humans are darker closer to the equator. Dark skin is a shield against ultraviolet radiation. It prevents sunburn damage that could result in DNA changes and several kinds of malignant skin cancers. Sunlight produces vitamin D. White skin is selective where vitamin D production is limited by long winters along with less skin cancer. If there are Vitamin D supplements available, all races will be able to fish a melted Arctic Ocean even in the winter when there is no sunlight. If there are any survivors from the collapse of civilization, selection for white skin will start again in the deep Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Since modern humans left Africa only 100,000 years ago and presumably brown like archaic Middle Easterners, this is powerful evolutionary force; not to mention, the tribal use of skin color to identify outsiders,

  28. Procopius

    I would rather have sent this as a suggestion to Yves or Lambert, but can’t find the instructions for how to do so. Anyway, I was browsing Brad DeLong’s blog as I do every week, and one of the links he had was to a Rolling Stone article, “The Many Mysteries of Brett Kavanaugh’s Finances.” Sometime after he was appointed to the DC Appellate Court he bought a $1.2 million house. He also joined the Chevy Chase Club, which has an initiation fee reported to be $92,000. The author, Stephanie Mencimer, points out that none of the Senators asked about any of these matters but Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), sent him written questions, including questions about these and other puzzling financial data. I have been puzzled by why the Democrats have not been able to bring up any of these points. Of course, I’m still seething about Schumer fast tracking those 7 conservative judges before the hearings started.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Kavanaugh was a legacy admission at Yale College. There may be money in his family. Maybe in his wife’s as well.

      He could have been given a loan from a wealthy relative….which should be papered up properly and he should be paying interest on it (but IRS minimum rates are really low in this post-crisis era). A gift should have been reported as income. Of course, if a relative “gave” the country club admission fee directly to the country club on his behalf, the $ trail would be hidden from the IRS and they’d be very unlikely to figure it out.

      Could also have been an inheritance in there somewhere.

      I did a quick skim. DeLong should have considered it but appears not to have.

  29. The Rev Kev

    The US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has today suggested that as an option, the US Navy can blockade Russia ( in order to stop Russian energy getting to world markets. Yeah, let me know how that works out. After reading his Wikipedia entry ( though, I can see how this is just Zinke being Zinke. Gawd, where do they find people like this for government service?

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