Links 9/30/18

The warm glow of kindness is real, even when there’s nothing in it for you Science Daily

The Most Important Least-Noticed Economic Event of the Decade NYT. The mini-recession of 2015-16.

The Next Pandemic Will Be Arriving Shortly Foreign Policy

Rat hepatitis E virus can cause disease in humans: Hong Kong researchers Outbreak

Here was a plague LRB. Network analysis wherever you look.

Elon Musk to step down as Tesla chairman in SEC settlement FT

Europe Finally Has an Excuse to Challenge the Dollar Bloomberg

Airbus signs cooperation with synthetic fiber maker Amsilk Handelsblatt. Better than carbon fibre?

Facebook Is Giving Advertisers Access to Your Shadow Contact Information Gizmodo (original). “They found that when a user gives Facebook a phone number for two-factor authentication or in order to receive alerts about new log-ins to a user’s account, that phone number became targetable by an advertiser within a couple of weeks.” Thank heavens I never fell for all those security mavens pushing me to give up my phone number for two-factor identification!

There are now more $100 bills than $1 bills in the world Quartz


Brexit: derailing the conference EU Referendum

Sky Data poll: 56% think Brexit will be worse than expected Sky News

No-Deal Brexit to Cost $12 Billion in Food Tariffs, Study Says Bloomberg

Toyota warns ‘no deal’ will spell post-Brexit shutdown FT

New MRC research finds inaccuracies and distortions in media coverage of antisemitism and the Labour Party Media Reform Coalition (report).


Iraq will have a President and Prime Minister who takes account of both Iranian and US interests Iraq will have a President and Prime Minister who takes account of both Iranian and US interests Elijah J. Magnier


China will lose trade war with the US, then things will get really nasty South China Morning Post

China Is Winning the Race for Water Security in Asia The National Interest

China seeks global role for elite counter-terrorism forces FT

China’s super trawlers are stripping the ocean bare as its hunger for seafood grows ABC Australia (KW).

A cashless supermarket, a bunch of grapes and the growing digital divide in China’s economy South China Morning Post

Effort to Form Union in China Meets Ferocious Repression Labor Notes

Malaysia wants Burma’s commanders probed for ‘atrocities’ against Rohingya Asian Correspondent


White House Directs FBI to Interview First Two Kavanaugh Accusers, But Not the Third WSJ but Trump: No limits on FBI’s investigation into allegations against Brett Kavanaugh NBC

Jeff Flake Explains Himself The Atlantic

At Times, Kavanaugh’s Defense Misleads or Veers Off Point NYT. The headline is quite gentle.

How We Know Kavanaugh Is Lying Nathan J. Robinson, Current Affairs. A close reading.

The Secret to Brett Kavanaugh’s Specific Appeal The Atlantic

‘The Tail of the Anita Hill Fury Got Us to #MeToo’ NYT

I’ve thought of the Kavanaugh imbroglio as a lens through which to view elite formation (key traits: dissembling and impunity*). Here is Stoller’s angle. Thread:

The responses are…. interesting. NOTE * Seems legit?

Trump Transition

Congressional Democrats’ Emoluments Suit Against Trump Clears Standing Hurdle National Law Journal

Mueller defends authority, hearkens back to Garfield administration Politico

Tax cuts: The gift that keeps not giving Brookings Institution

Middle America Reboots Democracy Democracy. “College-educated suburban white women.”

Democrats in Disarray

Paging Joe Manchin:

‘I do have some experience with emails:’ Hillary Clinton makes cameo in Murphy Brown revival CBC. Please kill me now.

Health Care

Am I entitled to medical care if I move to Ireland to retire? The Irish Times (Clive). Clive comments: “Bourne our of necessity, I’d say, for the person asking this question. I wonder how many more there are like him or her. The reply makes the point that in Eire, as in the U.K., health services not drowning in junk billing cash means resources are rationed so the price you pay can be long wait times. But at least your losses in terms of co-pays or out-of-pocket are either capped (nominal, trivial charges in the Republic’s system) or zero (in the U.K. system). Note too the nudging to avoid the problem of waiting lists by paying for insurance to, in essence, queue-jump. A slippery slope if ever there was one.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

Welcome to Our Dying Empire Truthdig

Eroding the Chain of Command by Trashing Trump The American Conservative

At U.S. Marine base, families plead for housing help after Florence Reuters (GF). Privatization.

He Saw Our Darkness The Bitter Southerner. Johnny Cash.

Class Warfare

Family Income Affects Kids’ Success More Than Public Vs. Private School, Study Finds WBUR

Drug rehab patients demand back wages after being sent to work for free Reveal News

Missing the Dark Satanic Mills NYRB

AI-produced artwork is moving from the fringes into the high art world Recode. “Once the discriminator tool could no longer distinguish if the portrait was man-made or not, the image was complete.”

One Small Step for the Web… Tim Berners-Lee, Medium. Big if true. “Solid PODs”, though. I dunno…. But worth checking out.

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. fresno dan

    He Saw Our Darkness The Bitter Southerner. Johnny Cash.

    Unbelievable to me that it has been 15 years since he died.
    My stepfather worked at a secondhand store and the only music we had were second hand records – all country music. One of my favorites was the Orange Blossom Special album.

    The judge said son, what is your alibi – if you were somewhere else, you won’t have to die. I spoke not a word though it meant my life, for I’d been in the arms of my best friend’s wife

    1. scoff

      Though not a big country fan, I always appreciated the way Johnny Cash saw things:

      Well, there’s things that never will be right I know,
      And things need changin’ everywhere you go,
      But ’til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
      You’ll never see me wear a suit of white.

      Ah, I’d love to wear a rainbow every day,
      And tell the world that everything’s OK,
      But I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
      ‘Till things are brighter, I’m the Man In Black

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        I met him, once…when he played a place called Emo’s in Austin. Prolly 20 years ago.
        this was during his crossover phase, when the neo-punks and grunge people had discovered him. Him alone on stage with a guitar.
        the real thing.
        biggest hand i’ve ever shook.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Wasn’t “Radar” from M.A.S.H. found to be mailing home a jeep a few pieces at a time in the episode “Dear Dad”? And it was only when Hawkeye and Trapper X-rayed one of his packages that they found out the truth?

            1. perpetualWAR

              Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down is absolutely my fav Johnny Cash song.
              Saw him as a kid. My first major concert. He and June. Never forget the sound of that man’s growly voice.

              1. fresno dan

                September 30, 2018 at 11:34 am

                I remember his (Cash) TV show and the music video for Sunday Morning coming down – unfortunately, the one on YouTube isn’t the video from the show – its lacks the squalor, despair, and loneliness of the original. And Being 13 or so I had it in my head the scenes were shot in Fresno – already downtown Fresno had fallen on hard times. The barber college, the rescue mission, the Greyhound bus station, the second hand stores and pawn shops – the vacant lots and abandoned building….The Fulton mall, constructed with such hope and already become derelict

    2. Mark Gisleson

      “Ring of Fire” was the song that woke me up as a kid, not the silly fluff like “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

      1. polecat

        While you make reference to the ‘banality’ of the Beatles vs the import of a Cash song, it reminds me of another .. “Money (that’s what I want)” , written, and performed by the always HOTonFIRE Buddy Guy .. vs the Beatles more sanitized, but popular, ‘money-making’ version.

        1. DanB

          “Money” was written by Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford. It became the first Motown hit record in 1959. The song was performed by Barrett Strong.

          1. polecat

            Indeed .. you are correct ! My bad. Still, though, the Guy version is the better rendition, compared to JPG&R’s take ..

    3. Montanamaven

      I find Country Music very existential.

      Get along, on down the road
      We’ve got a long long way to go
      Scared to live, scared to die
      We ain’t perfect but we try

      Get along while we can
      Always give love the upper hand
      Paint a wall, learn to dance
      Call your mom, buy a boat
      Drink a beer, sing a song
      Make a friend, can’t we all get along

      1. Jen

        I remember this one vividly from my childhood.

        Daddy hates mommy
        Mommy hates dad
        Last night you shoulda heard
        The fight they had

        Gave little sister
        Another bad dream
        She woke us all up
        With a terrible scream

        Skip a rope, skip a rope
        Oh, listen to the children
        While they play
        Now ain’t it kinda funny
        What the children say
        Skip a rope

        Cheat on your taxes
        Don’t be a fool
        Now what was that they said
        About a golden rule

        Never mind the rules
        Just play to win
        And hate your neighbor
        For the shade of his skin

        Skip a rope, skip a rope
        Oh, listen to the children
        While they play
        Now ain’t it kinda funny
        What the children say
        Skip a rope

        Stab em in the back
        That’s the name of the game
        And mommy and daddy
        Are who’s to blame

        Skip a rope, skip a rope
        Just listen to your children
        While they play
        It’s really not very funny
        What the children say
        Skip a rope, skip a rope
        Skip a rope, skip a rope

        1. fresno dan

          September 30, 2018 at 6:07 pm
          Henson Cargill – those lyrics haven’t crossed my mind in ….50 years?

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Elon Musk to step down as Tesla chairman in SEC settlement”

    Well what do you know. I guess that you can’t fight the Fed after all.

    1. Harry

      I thought it disgusting. He is guilty of market manipulation and they leave him as CEO of public company. The SEC is shameless.

      1. timbers

        People have stolen a $1 soda from McDonalds and arrested and charged with crimes they could serve 5 yrs in jail for. Why the blatant double standard?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The people who steal a dollar can’t give to politicians, and given the anything goes routine of the Obama years in regards to white collar crime, the problem could be everywhere. Musk is too cartoony and brazen to ignore (a foreigner too, so he has less standing) even for Trump, but setting a standard opens up everyone.

      2. JCC

        Here’s an interesting interview on Motley Fool with the author of Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

        I see as well as anyone else that he’s gotten a little weird lately on his twitter feed. Other issues such as his losing it over the Thailand Cave Rescue was, to me, pretty telling regarding what looks to me as some serious isolation and pressure within his Tesla World Business.

        But I still want to give him lots of credit for pushing the majors into getting off the stick on producing electric vehicles. Yes, I understand that they are not a panacea relative to all the serious problems with oil production and consumption, but I think most would give him credit for being one of the first to jump in and assist in kicking off a viable consumer electric vehicle market with real, long-term, demand.

        Overall his foray into space and car markets has been pretty remarkable considering his competition, the major Transportation Mfg.’s and Governments. An awful lot of people and businesses (and governments) with a helluva lot more money and resources than Musk has had access to haven’t done nearly as much.
        Good Elon, Bad Elon

        Q: We’ve got investigations by the SEC and the Department of Justice, high-ranking executives leaving Tesla, the interview on Joe Rogan’s podcast, and other erratic behavior. Has any of what happened in the last six weeks surprised you?

        A: Well, I guess in some ways yes, and in some ways no. I mean, you know, it’s no secret Elon has always kind of been his own guy and beat to his own drum. And, you know, when I was reporting the book, I guess I would say that a lot of these types of behaviors were known to me, and I’d write about them, but Elon was a little bit less famous then, and he certainly was not on Twitter much as he is these days. And so I think the public is getting a full dose of what Elon can get up to.

        On the other hand, especially this year with him just making these huge pronouncements on Twitter and engaging with people, this type of behavior seems to be something very different than what we’ve seen before. In some ways, I kind of feel like there’s a good Elon and a bad Elon. And the bad Elon has come out.

        Under Pressure

        Q: To what extent is the behavior that we see on Twitter from Musk just an amplification of who he is? Or are we seeing an unraveling of sorts, because certainly he has talked about the pressure that he feels like he is under?

        A: I mean, it’s different this time around. You know, he’s been on Twitter for a long time, and he’s used it as this amazing tool. Tesla doesn’t spend any money on advertising, unlike all the other carmakers who are among the leading advertising spenders in the world. And for years he used Tesla really deftly and he would generate all this marketing for the company, and it had this shine. This is the first year where we’ve seen him pick fights with people, make these huge kind of crazy announcements, and really snipe at journalists and things like that. And so, it’s been kind of frustrating to watch.

        I mean, I am neither pro- or anti-Elon. I admire what his companies have done, but it’s been a little sad to me to see all this goodwill that he built up over the years, and this shine for the companies and his personality, it’s certainly taken a huge hit. And I think there is, there’s something of a trap with Twitter if it taps in to your personality and you get kind of addicted to this interplay with the public. Just about everyone who tweets seems to get undone at some point — it really is kind of this opening to do yourself in.

        Profit Potential

        Q: On the last earnings call, Musk said, “We’re gonna be a profitable company.” Does Tesla really need to deliver a profit in this next report? Or can he find some wiggle room?

        A: Well, it would sure help. The funny thing about Elon, even though he’s been on this kind of Twitter campaign for the last year or so, or the last few months, is that he still seems to have a ton of goodwill. Especially from, maybe not institutional investors, but the consumer investors out there. And to that end, he seems to be able to get away with just about anything.

        Turning a profit or showing proof that they have fixed some of these problems with the Model 3 manufacturing, I really think that would go a tremendous way to getting rid of a ton of these ills. … But otherwise, Elon’s always been prone to making these big announcements, setting these aggressive timelines, and missing them, but people afford him a lot of leeway because he is trying these very ambitious things. It’s just that in this particular environment that he’s put himself in to, now when you start missing numbers or under-delivering, you know it seems to come with a much bigger cost.

        Commencing Countdown

        Q: One of the things you wrote about in the book was his passion for space. How soon before Elon Musk quits working at Tesla and moves over to run SpaceX full-time?

        A: This is something that I don’t think gets as much attention as it deserves. Contrary to popular belief, Elon did not actually found Tesla. He was the first money in to the company, and he was chairman, but he basically came in to rescue the company. And even though he is very passionate about electric cars, Tesla was sort of foisted upon him as this thing he had to fix, and I think he’s been trying to fix it ever since.

        But SpaceX is absolutely his baby, and space is what he cares about the most. And so part of me does wonder if all of this is some sort of self-inflicted crazy play to … I don’t even know. I mean, sometimes I think this is a conspiracy theory to actually drive the price of Tesla’s stock down so that someone like Apple or Google could actually afford to acquire them, and so Elon could save a bit of face and just go off and run SpaceX full time.

        I know that that’s where his heart is, and there’s part of him that wants to prove all the short-sellers against Tesla wrong and prove out the market for electric cars, but especially on the electric car front, everyone’s doing it now. I think he could kind of leave Tesla and go to SpaceX if a opportunity presented itself.

        1. a different chris

          >someone like Apple or Google could actually afford to acquire them

          ??? Either one could certainly “afford to”, not the “couch cushions” type of change that most of their acquisitions are but hardly enough of a bump in the road to ripple their Chardonnay:

          AAPL cap: 1.07 trillon
          GOOGL: 835 billion
          TSLA: 45 billion

          And whilst we are at it:

          AMZN: 977 billion

          This quote messed up the rest of the interview for me.

        2. The Rev Kev

          “and space is what he cares about the most.”

          I somehow doubt that at heart that he does. I think that he wants to be the guy that has a death-grip on the means of getting into orbit with people like him charging all that the traffic will bear for people wanting to get into space. In that he would resemble more the Robber barons on the Rhine river back in the 13th century. For more on this see-

  3. Expat2uruguay

    Is there a NOTE missing from the Matt stroller thread on “what Kavanaugh’s behavior says about the elites”?

  4. JTMcPhee

    For anyone worrying about plagues coming to the Homeland, please take heart: the War Department has this all in hand, all the planning and coordinating are already well advanced, and forget about the antiquated Posse Comitatus Act, the Empire’s soldiers and resources are already pre-committed to “Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA),” and “mission assurance (MA),” at all levels:

    (1) Develop, coordinate, and oversee implementation of DoD policy for DSCA plans and activities, including:
    (a) Requests for assistance during domestic crises, emergencies, or civil disturbances.
    (b) Domestic consequence management.
    (c) Coordination on the development and validation of DSCA requirements and the provision of DoD capabilities.
    (d) Coordination on the development and approval of all DoD pre-scripted mission assignments.
    (e) DoD support to national and international sporting events, including support authorized by Section 2564 of Title 10, U.S.C.
    (f) Matters related to public health and medical DSCA.
    (2) Coordinate DoD assistance to federal, State, and local officials when responding to threats involving nuclear, radiological, biological, chemical weapons, or high-yield explosives or related materials or technologies, including assistance in identifying, neutralizing, dismantling, and disposing of nuclear, radiological, biological, chemical weapons, and high-yield explosives and related materials and technologies, pursuant to Section 2313 of Title 50, U.S.C.
    (3) Coordinate on DSCA plans, doctrine, and exercises, and the commitment of forces, or the employment of other DoD resources for DSCA.
    (4) Develop, coordinate, recommend, and supervise the implementation of policy for defense support of civilian law enforcement agencies, including law enforcement support activities.
    (a) Develop procedures and issue appropriate direction, as necessary, for defense support of law enforcement agencies.
    (b) Serve as the principal civilian advisor to the Secretary of Defense and the USD(P) for planning and executing Civil Disturbance Response Operations with the Department of Justice.
    agencies. (c) Coordinate on policies to further DoD cooperation with civilian law enforcement
    (d) Provide guidance for the use of Reserve Component personnel in support of civilian law enforcement agencies.
    (e) Develop policy regulating plans, procedures, and requirements of the DoD Components with authority over defense resources that may be employed to provide law enforcement support.
    (f) Inform the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, under the authority, direction, and control of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (USD(P&R)), of all requests for assistance by civilian law enforcement agencies that may be met using Reserve Component personnel and resources.
    (5) Serve as the DoD manager for national special security events (NSSEs) and coordinate DoD support for all events designated as NSSEs and for other special security events. Evaluate requests for assistance for NSSE support, and prepare recommendations for approval.
    (6) Advise and assist the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs under the authority, direction, and control of the USD(P&R), in the development of DoD policy for military emergency preparedness liaison officers employment.
    (7) Coordinate on matters or policy related to the readiness posture of forces to conduct DSCA activities, including critical infrastructure protection and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosives response forces.
    (8) Coordinate and align homeland defense policies, plans, and programs with nuclear, chemical, and biological defense programs under the oversight of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (USD(A&S)).
    (9) Lead and coordinate all public health and medical DSCA policies and programs.
    (10) Serve as the lead DoD official for public health and medical DSCA. Receive and evaluate public health and medical requests for assistance and prepare recommendations for approval.
    (11) Represent the Secretary of Defense and the USD(P), in collaboration with the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, under the authority, direction, and control of the USD(P&R), on White House and interagency councils and committees related to public health and medical disaster event preparedness and response, including the Senior Leader Council on Patient Movement and interagency forums related to the National Response Framework Emergency Support Function #8: “Public Health and Medical Services.” Represent the USD(P) on the National Disaster Medical System Senior Policy Group.
    (12) Represent the Secretary of Defense and the USD(P), when appropriate, to governmental, non-governmental, and private sector governance organizations and advocacy groups focused on the DSCA mission.
    (13) Provide guidance on the use of DoD personnel or capabilities in support of DSCA policies.

    And there is so much more to read there, about the DoD’s authority over virtually everything, in coordination with every other agency with power…

    “Hush little baby, don’t you cry.
    Uncle Sam’s got you under his eye…”

    1. John Merryman

      The two poles of social control, hope and fear. We were all hoping for untold riches, chasing after those little green notes, now the pendulum starts to swing back, as that illusion fades under the piles of debt.
      How do you introduce nuance and balance to billions of people? Obviously not the way we are going.

    2. LifelongLib

      The original Posse Comitatus act was designed to prevent the U.S. military from being used against the KKK, which in its first incarnation was a paramilitary force that could easily overwhelm whatever local law enforcement was inclined to resist it. It wasn’t some great step forward for liberty. It enabled Jim Crow and consigned many in the South to 80+ years of near slavery.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Pretty sure that Johnson in 1876 making a deal with Rich Ex Slaveowners to pull Union troops f everything up.

        Or was it Taylor?

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          It can’t have been Johnson because Johnson was long-since not-President-anymore by 1876.
          An interesting counter-factual what-if arises: what if Lincoln had not been assassinated? What if he had been able to carry out his full second term? What would he have done differently than Johnson did?

          My guess is that he would have carefully and methodically destroyed and erased the Plantation Class and caused-to-be-divided all the Plantation Lands among the Poor White and Poor Black Southerners, thereby creating a new class of millions of small farmers. No room for neo-slaverism, no room for carpetbaggers. But that is what is so fun about “what if” counter-factuals. Anyone can have a thought about “what if”.

  5. Carolinian

    So Ford versus Kavanaugh has now morphed from a sex scandal to a fight for class consciousness? Of course one problem with the notion that Judge Kavanaugh is a product of a spoiled and entitled milieu is that most of our ruling class would fall into the same category. Indeed Dr. Ford, with her surfing trips to Tahiti and Costa Rica, also a private school student and a cheerleader to boot, doesn’t exactly seem to be of peasant stock. So the narrative switch off may just be a way to bolster a weak case.

    Undoubtedly Kavanaugh will make a poor SC justice because of an entitled world view, but let’s not pretend that this only applies to Republicans.

    1. JTMcPhee

      “A poor SC justice?” Depends totally on one’s point of view.

      I’m reminded that even Obi Wan Kenobi used this construct, in prepping Skywalker for the news that Darth Vader was his father:

      Luke: “You told me my father was dead!”
      Obi Wan: “What I told you was true, from a certain point of view.”

      And like Luke said to the snakehead guy, using that Jedi mind trick to get to his meeting with Jabba the Hutt: “You serve your master well, and will be rewarded.”

      1. newcatty

        Depends totally on one’s point of view.

        I had a grad class in the department of “Family and Community Medicine ” at a major university. I was not in a nursing or MD program. The professor opened his class to, gasp, any admitted student at the school. You could audit the course, too. I can not recall the title of the class. It was one of the best classes I have ever taken. One of the main themes of it was to become more aware of how perception is a key determinant of how one interprets “reality”. The first day of class was spent discussing one scenario. Imagine that you are flying in a small plane. Suddenly, a passenger stands up and states: We have a fabulous surprise for all of you! Everyone is going to be given the opportunity to join a group sky dive. No experience needed…We have equipment for each one of you. More passengers stand up. He gestures to other standing persons and says they are all prepared to form our dive groups.

        After the professor lets that sink in… He asked, OK, are you thrilled or frightened? It was a great start to an engaging experience. Almost every student opened up with their perceptions. Most were in the WTF, no way, pov camp. Ha.

    2. cnchal

      Watching the hearings reminded me of the saying, ‘when you have the facts, pound the facts, when you have nothing, pound the table’.

      For it to about class, Kavanaugh would have to have allegedly done it to someone beneath him, which jibes with the allegation.

      He is between a rock and a hard place. Openly admit and say sorry mean’s he’s out, so stonewall and cry rivers was his only choice so that his greed for power is satiated.

      1. John

        I posit that his anger, tears, and indignation arise from his privileged sensibility of outrage at being called to account in a public forum…the public having no right to call to account the behavior of their overlords. It is the confusion and moral outrage of Versailles when the peasants come demanding anything. Impunity in the public arena is divine right for overlords. Transgressions within the upper class are always dealt with privately from public scrutiny and in a very different manner. “Boys will be boys” is never applied to underclass teenage males in a US courtroom.

      2. Big River Bandido

        Ah, the full quote is illuminating:

        When the evidence are on your side, argue the evidence. When the law is on your side, argue the law. When neither is on your side, pound the table.

    3. Pelham

      I much appreciate Stoller’s examination of Kavanaugh and aristocracy. But here’s what I take away from it:

      Aristocracy is about 90% rotten (with noblesse oblige tempering the rot just a bit). Nonetheless, on these shores it predates the Revolution and continues to exist, thrive and even be celebrated today.

      Kavanaugh from his boyhood years was very much a part of this system, taking advantage of the usual despicable but widely accepted (in that quarter) male bonding rituals common to his elite educational institutions.

      Since then he has led a partisan but generally respectable life with a wife and two young daughters. Along the way he has passed several security inspections with no objections raised.

      Now he’s on national TV accused of — and probably guilty of — horrible acts that were, in fact, also normal and accepted parts of the system in which he was raised and, again, which have been part of American culture for hundreds of years.

      So in the end we may be faced with this: Destroying the reputation of one man who quite legitimately from his perspective is fundamentally innocent, disrupting and perhaps destroying his blameless household (though probably not his career) for completely just reasons that should apply not to him specifically but to an aristocratic system. But that system, in all likelihood, will be largely unaffected in the end.

      I’m glad I have no hand in this. One part of me says Kavanaugh should be isolated from any kind of public authority whatsoever. Another part really resonates to his impassioned defense oration.

      1. pretzelattack

        so aristocrats aren’t responsible for their actions? “sorry, peasant, but running over peasants in the streets of paris was one of the aristocratic bonding rituals, especially when the lowborn vermin didn’t jump quickly enough, evincing a poor attitude”.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          They have the resources to know better. Their crimes are a far cry from stealing a loaf of bread. If a rich man steals a loaf of read, an eye for eye misses the point. They did it for the thrill and the sense of power. They need to be stomped on.

          1. Carolinian

            Poor people can also be into power. There are all those guns or the white southern peasants who would sometimes lynch the black southern peasants.

            Morality tales in general tend to be somewhat simplistic.

            1. pretzelattack

              yes but the poor people had agency. in this account, the aristos are helpless victims of their environment. the comparison would be to defend those guys who dragged james byrd jr. to his death by a chain attached to his neck, because they were poor southern rednecks. i dont know his their lawyers tried this tack, but it didn’t work. 2 of the murders got the death penalty and the third a life sentence. contrast the treatment of that affluent texas teen whose sentence was extremely lenient because he was a victim of “affluenza” when he killed 4 people because he was driving drunk (again). the peasants simply didn’t get out of his way quickly enough, you see. or that stanford swimmer who raped an unconscious woman who got 6 months (iirc) because he “wouldn’t do well in prison”. is it simplistic to ask for equal justice under the law?

          1. Donald

            Which shouldn’t matter at all, if she is correct. The class rhetoric is relevant in discussing him. If you want to apply it to her, she was a victim of sexual assault. In that context, women were and are the underclass, the “ peasants”.

          2. Pat

            Inequality for women is a way of life regardless of class. Position is entirely based on protection from a powerful relative OR usefulness advancing the agenda of their betters – male aristocrats. Ignoring that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

            1. Carolinian

              I’m just responding to the argument that what Kavanaugh did or didn’t do was a result of his economically privileged upbringing which would be news to the legions of battered poor women (see I, Tonya for a popular movie version).

              And if it’s a result of “male privilege” then it still needs to be proven that what is alleged to have happened actually did happen.

              Which is to say that “truth”–as best we can determine it–is what should be privileged above all else.

                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  It was a different time. The attitudes were different. We’d just emerged from “the swinging sixties” and “sexual liberation” was in the air. The laws and the enforcement were different. We don’t go backwards and convict alcohol drinkers today using Prohibition laws. Today it’s OK to say the word “bullsh*t” on prime time TV, previously that could land you in jail. Take a look at a film from the 60’s, in Goldfinger Bond grabs a girl and kisses her against her will, eventually the kiss dissolves her resistance and she joins in because he’s so handsome. The audience of the day would not have been shocked by that.
                  Not that I think any of this matters, we should be worrying about his beliefs, not his character. Giant blow to #MeToo. Wait until the Dems get a chance to put somebody up for SC, the other side will rage “this person drank a beer with a 17-year old girl 39 years ago!”. Reap/sow.

                  1. ArcadiaMommy

                    Please don’t equate sexual assault with not being able to say curse words on TV because “that’s how it used to be”. Or whatever your point is, I’m not clear.

                    I’m pretty sure non-consensual sex was illegal, even back in the day.

                    1. dcrane

                      I’ll bet he’s right about that scene from Goldfinger, however. It makes me cringe in a way that is probably not how I would have viewed it had I seen it in the theaters in 1964.

                    2. pretzelattack

                      it was indeed. i think it is possible to worry about a court nominee’s character and beliefs. it’s a job interview, let it play out.

                  2. gepay

                    This Kavanaugh tempest reminds me. At the end of my senior year – 1966 – my parents went away for the weekend. with my younger brother and sister. I have no memory of how the party was planned. I do remember how shocked the girls were that my mother was such a bad housekeeper. They spent several hours making the downstairs acceptable. Of course there was drinking. I don’t remember how it happened but Scottie and I (both inebriated) got Faye upstairs into my bedroom. She was inebriated and willing. There was no force needed. We both played saxophone with her in the band. On band trips we would sit with her on the bus. We both liked Faye. We didn’t go out with Faye because she was 3 inches taller than both of us. We were short, 5’5″..She was pretty in a working class way. She had a bouffant hairdo. As opposed to a college prep type or the popular Joan Baez straight and long. There was something to Faye as in the early 60s you didn’t find many females playing the saxophone. We were kissing and fondling her and in the process of taking off her blouse when – a sober friend of hers came in and led her out of my room by the arm. One could write a short story with what could have happened. Would she have still liked us? Would we have continued a ‘menage a trois’ during the summer? What if she had gotten pregnant? Instead I continued drinking and threw up. Whoever cleaned up the booze bottles just put them in a trash bag in the backyard. This was found by my mother. Someone also swung on the light fixture in the living room. There were repercussions..
                    I never associated with the football team. I have no idea what their parties were like, Teenage age jocks stereo-typically are not high on the sensitivity register. So Ford’s story sounds like it could easily have happened. It does seem that what happened to her (although qualifying as an assault it is not a rape or murder attempt) doesn’t sound like something to me that should still be a big deal 30 years later. I found it hard to listen to her whiny voice. I find it easy to believe many women have had worse happen to them. I myself have had worse happen to me. This is not a Cosby. Kevin Spacey, Jeffrey Epstein, or Weinstein story.
                    This is not to say there aren’t many other better reasons why Kavanaugh should not be on the Supreme Court

        2. Pelham

          If we isolate one, individual aristocrat for his actions, we run the danger of letting the system that spools out thousands of these types and leaves them, for the most part, off the hook.

          If Kavanaugh’s public destruction were the thin edge of a vastly wider project to take down all these people — including nearly everyone in Washington — it would be a worthy cause. To destroy just one man and leave everything else in place that produced him, in my estimation, would make all us non-aristocrats howling for his hide complicit in the perpetuation of many more quiet injustices that will never come to light.

          Right now, for instance, I see no movement to rid ourselves of fancy prep schools, college fraternities and elite universities. These are the breeding grounds. Why tolerate them?

          1. a different chris

            >we run the danger of letting the system that spools out thousands of these types and leaves them, for the most part, off the hook.

            So we let him go? And that saves us from the “danger”? WTF? Are you Nancy Pelosi’s go-to guy/gal perchance?

            We can’t freaking spoon feed the Left a victory, apparently. Lordy.

          2. John Merryman

            Wouldn’t the real issues be much deeper?
            Consider the basic premise of monotheism, of a spiritual absolute as an ideal from which we fell. The father figure lawgiver.
            Yet logically a spiritual absolute/universal state, would be the essence of sentience from which we rise, not an ideal of wisdom and judgement from which we fell. More the new born baby, than the wise old man. The raw passion pushing out, not the shell of logic sorting through and trying to contain it.
            Obviously though, for social order and control, it is far more logical to base the cultural paradigm on wisdom, than the raw element seeking it, but it has been three thousand years since the idea took hold. Maybe we are getting sophisticated enough to handle a little more complexity. Considering it validates top down control, divine right of kings, as an implicitly male prerogative, it might go to some of the sexism issues.

      2. Antifa

        All those background checks he passed along the way happened only because FBI policy is to NOT look into events prior to the subject’s 18th birthday unless they are specifically asked to look.

        They have just been asked.

        The brick wall between Kavanaugh and a SCOTUS seat is an FBI standard usually described as “lack of candor.” If they catch a subject lying about little things, they know he will lie about big things. No security clearance for such a person.

        The FBI doesn’t care if he assaulted one or even a hundred young ladies — that’s all outside the statute of limitations. They care about honesty, which Kavanaugh doesn’t have anywhere in his soul.

        Whether the Senate Republicans, with a couple of Democrats helping, can toss Kavanaugh over that brick wall instead of him doing ye olde frontal assault upon it remains to be seen. If they do, they will regret it for a generation, not celebrate it.

        1. dcblogger

          the FBI investigation will delay things enough for opinion polls to be taken. If they are negative enough it is remotely possible that Kavanaugh will be defeated.

          1. pretzelattack

            yep, of course another lying warmongering crapbag will be nominated and the dems will probably roll over for that one.

        2. rd

          I suspect the FBI will be able to confirm some immediate after event discussions of the Ramirez allegation. Other than that, It may be difficult to find more sexual assault or exposure evidence.

          However, I think that they will be buried under an avalanche of statements regarding heavy binge drinking in high school and college, may be afterwards if they ask around. That is not the picture that he portrayed of himself in the hearings.

      3. Stratos

        Kavanaugh, his reputation and his “blameless household” are hardly destroyed. He is still White, male, affluent and a Federal judge with a lifetime appointment. If that signals destruction, a lot of poorer, darker Americans would love to switch places with him and any member of his class/caste.

          1. MichaelSF

            Do you have to be a member of the bar to be an appellate judge? I don’t think it is a requirement for SCOTUS in the Constitution. It appears it has been half a century or more since there was a SC justice who didn’t have a law degree, but was admitted to the bar. So being disbarred might mean little if they have to be formally impeached to remove them from the office.

            OT: have there been a lot of jokes made about Kavanaugh being a member/admitted to “the bar”? It seems like they’d practically write themselves.

            1. ArcadiaMommy

              No you don’t have to be licensed but I can’t imagine that someone these days could be a credible judge if they were disbarred. Not a lawyer just married to one.

      4. Unna

        Neither K nor Ford are aristocrats. They are both bourgeoisie, with the habits, tastes, ambitions, personal weaknesses, and petty behaviour of such. They are the play pieces of higher levels of the bourgeoisie who are now engaged in a battle among themselves for power and wealth. This fight includes emotional based pandering to the people, still necessary in a democratic age.

        There is no current aristocracy in America, only potential sources of a future aristocracy most likely located in the military and police forces, organized rural people, maybe even urban gangs, but not on Wall Street.

        Ask yourself: Would you take Jared Kushner, Bill Clinton, Lindsey Graham, or even Lindsey’s BBF John McCain with you to gun fight? I’d take Mad Dog or Putin, Sammy ‘the Bull’ Gravano, or even that prosecutor Mitchell maybe (by type and look) if I had to be in one, but not Chelsea or Ivanka. Now if that sounds grim, well, that’s not my fault. Aristocracy is the reification of chaotic military war bands into a ruling group with a commonly understood “identity”, culture, form, and style. Aristocrats are willing, from family upbringing and tradition, to face death in combat in exchange for status, power, and personal honour.

        On the grand scale, there’s really not much to fear from these sorts of people you’re watching on TV once you understand who and what they are. The Jacobin article from yesterday is an example of the slow realization of this by people, but still argued from an inside the illusion perspective.

        1. ObjectiveFunction

          Great comment, a lot of insight here.

          And if you can’t wage low level tribal wars, vendettas or dueling to make your bones cement your status to the in group, well binge drinking and molestation (rape is a subset) will do!

          And among the ‘meritocratic’ aspirational set there are always others eager to take your place if you don’t have the stomach…

      5. Jeff W

        I understand your comment about Brett Kavanaugh being “quite legitimately from his perspective…fundamentally innocent” and find it stunningly irrelevant. Yes, he can be—and probably is, as you say—”guilty of — horrible acts that were, in fact, also normal and accepted parts of the system in which he was raised and, again, which have been part of American culture for hundreds of years”—we can fight endlessly to what extent that should play a part in assessing his nomination. But we can’t fight about the duty of candor that a nominee to the Supreme Court owes here and now to the Senate that seeks to confirm him.

        Here’s what Nathan J. Robinson says in that Current Affairs piece, “How We Know Kavanaugh is Lying,” from the links above;

        What does it say about this country that this is the state of our discourse? That Kavanaugh even stands any chance of being made one of the most powerful figures in the American government, with control over life and liberty? That a man like this is even a judge? He went before the United States Senate and showed total contempt for his vow to tell the truth. He attempted to portray a highly esteemed doctor as a crazy person, by consistently misrepresenting the evidence. He treated the public like we were idiots, like we wouldn’t notice as he pretended he was ralphing during Beach Week from too many jalapeños, as he feigned ignorance about sex slang, as he misread his own meticulously-kept 1982 summer calendar, as he replied to questions about his drinking habits by talking about church, as he suggested there are no alcoholics at Yale, as he denied knowing who “Bart O’Kavanaugh” could possibly be based on, as he declared things refuted that weren’t actually refuted, as he claimed witnesses said things they didn’t say, as he failed to explain why nearly a dozen Yale classmates said he drank heavily, as he invented an imaginary drinking game to avoid admitting he had the mind of a sports jock in high school, as he said Ford had only accused him last week, as he responded to his roommate’s eyewitness statement with an incoherent story about furniture, as he pretended Bethesda wasn’t five miles wide, as he insisted Renate should be flattered by the ditty about how easy she was, as he declared that distinguished federal judges don’t commit sexual misconduct even though he had clerked for exactly such a judge.

        The evasions, the misleading and irrelevant statements, and the outright lies and fabrications, not to mention the belligerence and outright contempt for the questions—none of that has to do “normal and accepted parts of the system in which he was raised” in 1982. It has to do with what happened Thursday. In a Senate hearing. Regarding a nomination, not just for any judgeship, but for the highest court in the land. Kavanaugh could not come clean about any of it? He could not say ‘Yeah, I was a rowdy jock who drank a lot? But that was all ‘youthful indiscretion,'” or some such nonsense? He can feel as “legitimately innocent” and as justifiably wronged as he likes—but he cannot answer those questions the way that he did and be qualified for any judicial position, much less the Supreme Court.

        1. Unna

          ***He treated the public like we were idiots***

          And which senator, Repub or Dem didn’t do that? All of them pandering to their very own mopes, everydays, or deplorables at about an eight year old’s emotional level. Which pol, Pelosi/Schumer/Trump isn’t doing that? I found both K and Ford dishonest and manipulative in their own way. I wouldn’t buy a used car from either one of them. Or from their paid propagandists. Give it up. This is what the American “elite” has come to. The Current Affairs piece itself was manipulative and Dishonest: him bad, her good, and let me use a whole lot of words to convince you why. Convince, from the Latin word vincere, to conquer. Too harsh? Well let me persuade you then. From the Latin word suadere, its root in the Italic for “sweet” so Sweet Talk. Don’t let a car salesman for an elite sweet talk you into an opinion. But first have a cup of Nespresso from the machine on our show room floor. Good isn’t it. Now psychologically you’re in my debt. The runner was safe. No he was out. Do we need to wonder which team either of them was cheering for? Just the facts, ma’am. Tell me what each side is selling and who gets the money? People need to stop cheering for their home team “elite” and start cheering for themselves.

          1. Jeff W

            And which senator, Repub or Dem didn’t do that?

            Politicians don’t have an espoused set of ethics regarding candor and the avoidance the appearance of impropriety the way judicial officers do. Do judges breach those ethical standards? All the time. But we don’t have to throw up our hands and say they don’t matter when we make our assessments, even if the elites making the decisions don’t care about such things.

            I found both K and Ford dishonest and manipulative in their own way.

            Christine Blasey Ford isn’t in the running for a Supreme Court seat, Brett Kavanaugh is.

            If you found Kavanaugh “manipulative and dishonest,” then, with regard to my comment, the inquiry ends there. These hearings are ostensibly about a nominee’s fitness for a seat on the Supreme Court—they’re not, again, ostensibly, about a nominee’s position on this or that issue—presumably, some measure of candor under oath is part of that. Did Brett Kavanaugh come even remotely close to that? I wouldn’t say that this person, whom you characterize as “manipulative and dishonest,” did. A nominee for the Supreme Court should be held to the highest standard, not slink by with a D+, if Kavanaugh did even that.

            I’m disgusted but not surprised by how Brett Kavanaugh testified. I would have had no hope that the Democratic senators would act any better than they did. And I will not be surprised in the slightest if Kavanaugh gets confirmed. I don’t care about cheering for either team. We can be as cynical—or as realistic and clear-eyed—as we like about what the US “elite” has come to. But I think it’s better if we are clear, for ourselves, what the issues are and what we value. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with valuing candor In a judicial nominee, even if we think, even if we know, that the elites are operating by a completely different set of rules. Otherwise, what exactly are we cheering for?

            1. Unna

              Is K being dishonest about his drinking and his early life? I’d say yes. But is Ford being dishonest about the story itself? Has she constructed her story so that even a completely innocent man would have no possible way of refuting it by her having completely forgotten each and every detail of the party that could objectively be verified by the FBI? I find that interesting. Don’t you? Ah, but she’s a victim. Plus everyone she says was there says they do not recall such a party ever happening including Leland, her friend, who says she had never met K? So did Ford really leave her best friend at the party with two drunken rapists? So thoughtful of her. Leland doesn’t remember having been left at the party by Ford with a bunch of drunken boys? Is it possible that the party never happened and K is innocent? And then there’s Ford’s lying about her fear of flying. Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t believe Ford has ever under gone an hours long interrogation by the FBI. I hope that happens this week. And I’m going to wonder how many questions her lawyers won’t let her answer. We’ll see. I wish that prosecutor Mitchell could have had a few hours with her.

              Since the Dems can’t prove it happened, except for her accusation, and they otherwise have no evidence at all that it happened, the Dems are trying to “prove” him guilty by calling him a drunk and then showing how he’s being dishonest in his responses about drinking, which I think he was. Which I think is kind of cheap, but he sure could have been better at dealing with this, I grant, and that tells you a lot about him as a human being.

              I didn’t watch the early hearings week or so ago but the reports are that he was being evasive, if not lying, about his activity in Bush’s White House. He’s in favour of torture, which should itself disqualify him. But who am I to judge, since Obama didn’t see torture as so big a crime that he bothered himself to actually prosecute it. He was the president and it’s a myth that the Dept. Of Justice is some sort of freelance operation not directly under the control of the president.

              K strikes me as some career climbing operative suck up who sweats too much under pressure. He’s an apparatchik trying to make it big as a state power corporate power legal technician apologist for the Powers That Be. K has no beliefs. That in itself makes him a bought and paid for – add your favourate noun in either the masculine or feminine gender – and thus morally unfit to be a judge and fundamentally dishonest. So sure, K’s a creep and he shouldn’t sit on the SC. It will be interesting to see what the FBI comes up with.

              And, Jeff W, why again aren’t you in bed in the throws of innocent sleep at this late and unholy hour?….

      6. ChristopherJ

        Thanks Pelham, for the me the anger and sputtering were a tell.

        He must have watched thousands of liars over his career, so you think he would have been better at it.

      7. Stratos

        Kavanaugh, his reputation and his “blameless household” are hardly destroyed. He is still White, male, affluent and a Federal judge with a lifetime appointment. If that signals destruction, a lot of poorer, darker Americans would love to switch places with him and any member of his class/caste.

    4. Stormcrow

      Kavanaugh: Too Many Things Have Gone Missing

      I don’t agree with everything in the following articles, and I don’t know if they have been posted here before. But they widen the scope (well beyond Stoller, for exampe) of what’s wrong with Kavanaugh, what’s wrong with the Democrats, and what’s wrong with the terribly narrow way that this matter is being framed by the media.

      Why Do We Tolerate Kavanaugh’s Complicity With Torture?
      by TED RALL

      Kavanaugh’s nomination, Cosby’s sentencing: News media pornography and the enraged middle class
      by David Walsh

      Neither the Times nor the majority of its middle-class readership has ever expressed this degree of outrage about the past quarter-century of bloody, neo-colonial wars and occupations pursued by American imperialism, which has led to more than one million deaths and the displacement of tens of millions more. The destruction of societies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen and beyond does not keep this social element awake at night.

      1. a different chris

        I dunno, not being a woman. Maybe it is. But here’s the problem – if something is a really serious crime, then I suspect it is more likely for a woman to shy away from reporting it if an otherwise (aka sober) “good boy” does it.

        There needs to be something outside the court system that makes women feel comfortable about talking about this, knowing the guy will get serious social repercussions but not, if it’s his first time, legal ones. You know, you spank the puppy with a newspaper not too hard, you don’t beat him with a chain leaving a lifetime scar. And these guys, awful as they are to a smaller and younger teenage girl, aren’t all that. We adults can make them cry, as we’ve seen. We adults can make them beg for forgiveness. We adults, especially adult males, can scare the living (family blog) out of them.

        This way it is a nightmare, the girl thinks “he was drunk, he didn’t actually rape me, why do I want to get the police involved and ruin his life” or “he’s from a powerful family, why do I want to get the police involved and ruin my life further for no reason.” No wonder she shuts up for 30+ years.

        That’s the problem with the Law and Order types. Toughness actually has the wrong effect.

        1. Yves Smith

          I hate to tell you, but even if Ford and her parents had marched down to the police station and she made a report consistent with the one she gave to the Senate, I suspect the police would have told her there was no crime. She didn’t allege that Kavanaugh penetrated her or even stuck his tongue in her mouth. He didn’t remove her clothes or tear them in the attempt. She doesn’t claim she was bruised. The police would likely take the view that this abuse did not rise to the level of attempted rape or assault. Standards and I would assume case law are different now.

          She would also have wound up having to admit to underage drinking….

          1. a different chris

            I think we are on the same page. She was 15 years old, she didn’t know what you so sadly do. She would probably have thought the police were the people to talk to. That’s what I would have thought when I was 15.

            1. witters

              “She would probably have thought the police were the people to talk to. That’s what I would have thought when I was 15.”

              Where I grew up having that thought was a marker of elite status.

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, that would not “be” a problem with that “notion”. That understanding would merely show how big the problem really is. I found an article linked-to by one of Ian Welsh’s commenters. It is about what Kavanaugh is and represents, and why he is a perfect expression of the Upper Class and its Inner Servants of the Top Few Percent. It demonstrates why of COURSE he WILL be confirmed. Because he is a perfect expression of everything the Senators and their Class Comrades stand for. Here is the link.

  6. Edward E

    Barking Mad: Ryan Zinke: Naval blockade is an option for dealing with Russia

    U.S. Urged to Rapidly Prepare for Electromagnetic Pulse Attack

    Harald Malmgren said power lines into and on his farm and Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center plus nearby DOD site are being buried. His this week.

    1. Wukchumni

      The Secretary of the Interior wanting to pull a Hunt For Red October combined with a dash of the Cuban Missile Crisis, is par for the farce.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I love Trump’s comment on election night, the phone rings and it’s the president of Egypt calling to congratulate and he responds “Hey I love that song Walk Like an Egyptian!”

      1. The Rev Kev

        Remember when gay-bashing became OK again a few months ago because it was used when indicating Putin and Trump were gay lovers? I suspect that this is Trump twisting these people’s tails here by saying there is a love affair between him and Kim.

    2. Edward E

      Harald Malmgren commenting to David Brady CFA & Willem Middelkoop
      “Some IMF bureaucrats can barely wait for rise of SDRs to displace the USD, so eager are they to take over control of world fin mkts”

        1. ObjectiveFunction

          Haven’t you heard? The Chinese super trawlers have chopped them all off for soup.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      In every other country in the world accept America , “Secretary of the interior” or equivalent means Chief of Secret Police. Only in America does Secretary of the Interior mean Head Park Ranger. One hopes the Russian Government knows the difference. For that matter, one hopes Trump does, and doesn’t decide to take National Security advice from his Head Park Ranger.

  7. Samuel Conner

    I didn’t listen to the Kavanaugh hearings; too disheartening.

    After reading Robinson’s Current Affairs piece, it occurs to me to wonder why none of the D senators didn’t use a few seconds of their time to speak to the nation along the lines of

    “Judge K., I find many of your sworn answers non-responsive to the questions, which to my mind creates the presumption that the truth of these matters is something you prefer to conceal.”

    Do the D committee members actually want to prevent K from ascending to the SC, or are they simply posing?

      1. JohnnyGL

        They were posing right up until the allegations started to pile up. Now they feel obligated to put up at least a mild fight for fear of embarrassment. Kav’s poll numbers are in the toilet. He’s a real horror show. If the dems don’t fight, there’s a danger that the angry base turns the spotlight on the dem leadership for their spinelessness. He still might get through, but it’s a lot more fluid than it looked two weeks ago when he was on cruise control straight to the highest court in the country.

        There’s a real chance more accusers come forward…then, he’s gotta go down.

        After Friday, both sides have dug in harder on this issue, so a defeat for someone as obnoxious as Kav should be celebrated. Supreme Court nominees don’t go down often. It would be the biggest bloody nose for Trump and the Repubs since the health care repeal debacle.

        1. edmondo

          so a defeat for someone as obnoxious as Kav should be celebrated. Supreme Court nominees don’t go down often. It would be the biggest bloody nose for Trump and the Repubs since the health care repeal debacle.

          At least you admit that this is all payback which is more than most people on the D side will acknowledge. I find the whole affair mildly amusing since I have no idea what the end game is here. Do the Dems actually think that Trump’s second choice- if Kavanaugh gets the boot – is Louis Brandeis? It will be someone equally horrible with the same judicial outlook and the usual suspects as backers. What’s the point? It reminds me of the “Impeach Trump” movement. Let’s trade a guy who has no idea how anything works and what levers to pull and replace him with Pence who is a DC veteran and gets daily phone calls from Jesus and the Koch Brothers (not necessarily in that order). Is payback for Merrick Garland really worth destroying the country and the #MeToo movement because sexual harassment just became a political game and that ain’t good for men or women.

          1. Olga

            Some of what you say may have been true – until BK’s response to the allegations. The bits I saw were truly disgraceful, and if the guy had any sense of honour, he would have withdrawn. It’s the sense of entitlement and bad manners that are galling. Clinton’s nominees withdrew for far lesser offenses, instead of engaging in a performance of “I demand to be a SC justice, now!” This has gone way beyond any payback – the guy is simply unsuitable for the post. If he is confirmed, it may turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory.

          2. Pat

            Posing that you are actually supporting the wishes of your voters (and dare I say it their constituents in general in many cases) instead of just continuing the status quo is not ‘payback’. It is the same smoke and mirrors that the Dems do on a daily basis. And sometimes the Republicans – see repeal and replace ACA/Obamacare. Pretend to do what your voters want NOT what your donors do.

            But posing only works when there is an excuse acceptable for failure to act exists.

            That Kavanaugh is so repugnant that not only have people stepped up to stop the appointment, but that so much of the public is demanding that this be more than cursory is a surprise to them. NOT just the Democrats but the Republicans are having to pay attention. There shouldn’t have needed to be a hearing, then there shouldn’t have needed to be an investigation, and if he goes down because not just Democrats but Republicans have to go ‘NO” it will be a huge shock to the system.

          3. FluffytheObeseCat

            After the political gamesmanship that torpedoed the Garland nomination, it’s mildly breathtaking to see this, “but what about next time!” argument being made here.

            Yes, if Kavanaugh is denied his appointment to the SCOTUS, Trump will respond by nominating someone objectively worse. He’s Trump, that is what he does when thwarted. If the next Beltway creature he nominates is even more attackable, the Democrat base should force the Congress to repeat the process. They should force Congress to repeat the process in any case.

            I realize that rolling over and peeing themselves is standard Democrat behavior in the face of muscular Republican efforts to remake the nation in the image of Gilead. However, placing an ultra-right, white male Catholic supermajority on the court has impacts beyond abortion rights and private school subsidies. Roberts, Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh will be a multi-decade block on:

            1) access to legal redress for ordinary individuals v. corporations
            2) access to legal redress for employees, and individual contractors v. corporations
            3) access to legal redress for consumers, and individual shareholders v. corporations.

            Our present, New Gilded Age wealth distribution will look quaintly egalitarian after 30 years of a SCOTUS ruled by these men. That’s the real threat. Middle-aged, over-educated white ladies may be mostly up in arms about social issues, and I probably should be all daintily bent about them like the rest of my kind. But, it’s the money these SOBs are planning to deprive me of that’s really got me worried.

            1. Big River Bandido

              Roberts, Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh will be a multi-decade block on:

              1) access to legal redress for ordinary individuals v. corporations
              2) access to legal redress for employees, and individual contractors v. corporations
              3) access to legal redress for consumers, and individual shareholders v. corporations.

              …That’s the real threat.

              Senate Democrats don’t find that vision the least bit threatening. On the contrary — they share it and they’re quite happy to do their part in helping it along. As long as they get to dress up and play the hero for the teevee cameras.

          4. a different chris

            Huh? JGL made two points. The first being: “so a defeat for someone as obnoxious as Kav should be celebrated. ”

            Where does that have “payback” in it” Payback to who for what?

          5. dcrane

            Re: “What’s the endgame?”

            I’d say it’s at least plausible, if not that likely, that by denying Kavanaugh the seat, the Democrats could end up controlling who gets in there to a much greater degree, but it depends on how quickly the Rs can tee up the next Federalist Society clone. FiveThirtyEight gives the Dems a 1 in 3 chance of taking the Senate. The new Senate begins at the start of January, I assume. That gives the GOP only until the end of December to seat someone if the Democrats somehow gain Majority control. Lots of holiday time in November and December, normally.

            Alternatively, by denying Kavanaugh and turning the next election into a battle over the court, the Democrats could hurt themselves by bringing the religious right out in force in November…

            1. Yves Smith

              The Democrats are more likely to lose than gain seats. Kavanaugh now has a 56% approval rating in West Va., where Manchin is fighting to stay in as a Dem senator this fall.

              Moreover, if the Dems succeed in denying Kanvaugh a seat, this is one thing that could rally evangelicals, who have been ambivalent about Trump for his affinity for swimsuit models, into coming to the polls. The idea that the Dems would keep a guy out who looks to be a fence-sitter on abortion would make vivid what they see as a risk: getting in a Justice that is unabashedly pro-abortion.

        2. dcblogger

          They were posing right up until the allegations started to pile up. Now they feel obligated to put up at least a mild fight for fear of embarrassment. Kav’s poll numbers are in the toilet. He’s a real horror show. If the dems don’t fight, there’s a danger that the angry base turns the spotlight on the dem leadership for their spinelessness. He still might get through, but it’s a lot more fluid than it looked two weeks ago when he was on cruise control straight to the highest court in the country.

          There’s a real chance more accusers come forward…then, he’s gotta go down.

          After Friday, both sides have dug in harder on this issue, so a defeat for someone as obnoxious as Kav should be celebrated. Supreme Court nominees don’t go down often. It would be the biggest bloody nose for Trump and the Repubs since the health care repeal debacle.
          so good, it had to be repeated

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Yes, by all means, when “more accusers come forward” that will definitely be enough to torpedo him. No need to think for a minute whether the accusations (“gang rape squad”) have any merit whatsoever.

            Somebody you don’t like? Just stand up and yell something, CNN will trumpet it far and wide and before you know it that something will be “true”.

            Moral outrage, blah blah blah. Radio silence as Our Great Nation from Bush to Obama to Trump fling death and destruction on women and children around the world from Iraq to Syria to Yemen but OMG! This man fondled a woman at a frat party in 1979! What an OUTRAGE!

            1. pretzelattack

              uh that’s why they need to be investigated, to see the merits. and no it wasn’t fondling, it was attempted rape, allegedly. took a long time for the cosby and weinstein accusations to start dribbling out, but oh, we have to get this guy confirmed as soon as possible or it’s unjust–my question is why is it unjust?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      My suspicion is the don’t have a clue other than they want to be liked with perceived minimal effort, but these are people with tenure longer than the Soviet Politburo. They aren’t in the pits anymore.

      In many ways, the Georgetown Prep issues have completely altered where this was going, but the way to defeat Kavanaugh sans accusations was sustained partisanship and pushing examples of how the right tilt of the Court has harmed Americans especially ones in Maine and organizing the “good” Senators and other Democrats to tell the ilk of Tester, Donnelly, etc that they a really on their own for even daring to suggest there was merit or room to consider a lifetime nomination from Trump. It would require work, going to these states, and of course having dynamic candidates in place. It might require privately humiliating a friend similar to the LBJ routine. You saw Flake’s reaction to two citizens suggesting he wasn’t the heir to Saint McCain. Can you imagine the reaction to Gillenbrand and Pelosi cornering Heitkampf and threatening to make her a traitor to all women and wishing her luck winning votes from people who already think she is a baby killer? They may never enjoy another cocktail together after that, but the cordial environment hasn’t accomplished much good. I know the old adage about flies with honey, but only a few flies are necessary.

      1. polecat

        In my mind they’re ALL Bot Flys, riddling the former, somewhat lively American corpse.
        #maggot lives matter !

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Posing. I believe DiFi tried to keep the letter secret because she wants an Upper Class Servant like Kavanaugh on the Court. Since when would she or any Senator care about a “constituent’s” desire for “privacy”? The intent was always to leak this at the last minute in order to trick the Republican Senators into looking like mean old men so that woman voters would be enraged into coming out and voting for Democrats, including Clintonites and Obamazoids.

      The Republicans cleverly dodged that trap by having a woman prosecutor ask Ford questions with a soft voice and a supportively concerned facial expression.

      The only way Kavanaugh could be NOT confirmed is IF the Republicans themSELVES decide, or are caused to understand by Forces Beyond Their Control that Kavanaugh is the sort of public embarassment who “gives the game away” and must therefore by swapped out for a better interchangeable part with a shinier shine. And of course the Federalist Society has more spare parts where the Kavanaugh came from.

      If Kavanaugh is NOT confirmed, it will be because the Overclass has decided that he is the visible Martin Shkreli of the Judiciocracy, the one who is too ” in your face” about it. That’s not a prediction, that’s just a provisional if-then sort of retro-analysis of Kavanaugh’s defeat, should he be defeated. Which is not assured, because he IS a perfect expression of everything THEY stand for. They would consider it a shame to have to cut him loose.

  8. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Stoller’s angle on Kavanaugh

    He’s correct, but he comes up short a little bit with this part:

    19. This may be some sort of turning point. If we want a democracy, we are going to have to take back power, starting with our own sense of self. I am inspired by all of the people talking about how they were abused and saying that was wrong. This is how we regain our society.

    Aren’t the others talking about being abused here also rich white aristocrats? Same with the ‘metoo’ movement – it’s mostly a bunch of wealthy actresses who are getting the attention from the press. And the only reason anyone is paying attention to either of these stories is because they’re about sex.

    So while Stoller is correct, ‘we’ won’t be taking power back until the conversation starts being about throwing torturers in prison, ending wars that turn so many poor, voiceless people into biological waste, punishing bankers who defraud our entire society, holding to account CEOs who exploit their workers to enrich themselves, etc, etc, etc.

    Wake me up when someone starts caring about all the cab drivers who blew their heads off in front of NYC city hall.

    1. Charlie

      My take as well. The narrative of the hearings resembles a Shakespearean play for the masses. But pulls the curtain back nonetheless.

      1. John Wright

        At least the SC theater may give some pause to anyone who believes in “blind justice”.

        That it is important to select a particular justice, who will apparently judge legal matters the way a portion of the elite wants, indicates that USA justice may be quite arbitrary.

        I have not looked at the Kavanaugh hearings, but remember the Clarence Thomas hearings, in which George Bush senior seemingly dared the Democrats to not confirm his Black-Conservative “best man for the job” selection.

        And Judicial Committee chair Joe Biden helped install Clarence Thomas by marginalizing Anita Hill..

        For years the Democrats have used the Supreme Court in their fundraising and influence campaigns.

        As I remember, HRC supporters pushed to elect the much disliked HRC, in part, because she would be selecting the next Supreme Court justices.

        If the Democrats had a liberal Supreme Court (such as the Warren Court), they would lose one of their “gotta elect us or the sky will fall” pitches.

        Maybe that is why the Democrats protest loudly but seem to eventually cave to Republican demands.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          “Maybe that is why the Democrats protest loudly but seem to eventually cave to Republican demands.”


          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            The campaign to stop Kavanaugh was non-existent except to ask him a few Roe v Wade questions as if he’s fumble and say, “put women in chains! Even the moderate suburban Republicans who go to Panera!” That was their whole strategy. Why hasn’t Gorsuch been hung around the neck of Collins every day since then? She isn’t going to do the “right” thing unless she is forced to.

            Much like Gorsuch, there needs to be sustained pressure and messaging, targeting of the Senators involved. The DNC should be sending out emails to Montana “thanking Tester for his stance against (insert Trump nominee) before Tester got his off his tractor (or whatever he does)”. The Democratic leadership shouldn’t even give the backbenchers an opportunity to even think for themselves on easy decisions.

            When they thought you weren’t looking, Schumer was so eager to go home he just said, “hey, Trump you just call up Putin and fill these judicial vacancies. I’m bored.” They call Trump a traitor and Manchurian candidate and don’t fight him.

            We aren’t talking about allegations of underage drinking or being a lousy tipper (a heinous crime). It took rape to get the Democrats to even go, “oh, maybe we should do something.”

            1. a different chris

              >or being a lousy tipper (a heinous crime)

              It is. It really is. It shows how much you value your self-identified “social standing” vis. a vis. somebody below you.

            2. Unna

              Thanks, NotTim. The Dems do not really care about underage drinking or groping or whatever. These clowns need to be exposed as the frauds they are. They needed to go out into the country side and spend time and care explaining to people line by line why K is bad for them personally. It could have been done, and even if K got in, they would have laid the groundwork for slowly forming opinion about these things. Start talking to Americans as if they were adults and they might just start demanding to be treated as such.

              1. Richard

                And their failure to act in any way to gather support to block K speaks volumes. All you ever need know emerges from their actions, or failure to act, which in politics is tantamount to positive action. If you do not move to block a thing, which you could have impeded, then you have supported it.
                And their words? Why regard even one of them?

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            If I am correctly understanding Bugs Bunny’s meaning here, he or she is using “seem” to indicate his or her understanding that in fact the Democrats are quietly co-conspiring with the Republicans to get these Federalist Society types onto the Court. They are pretending to oppose them so that they can fabricate the appearance of finally giving in. And the Republicans help them fabricate that appearance by pretending to be all upset and offended at Democratic “opposition” to these nominees.

            So no. The DemSenators are not caving in. They are only preTENding to cave in. They secretly agree all along. When they can’t be secret about it, they support these nominees openly. Biden zeroed out Hill because Biden supported Thomas and wanted to make sure that Thomas got onto the Court which is just exactly where Biden wanted him to be.

        2. Doug Hillman

          That’s what this theater is really all about, the DP retaining some relevance. Is there an election coming up?

          Concerns about Kavanaugh’s character are legit and he’s probably unfit for the Supine Court, but the next candidate won’t make any difference to the the financial rapists and warmongers that sponsor our “democracy.”

          As Paul Craig Roberts put it, we should be having hearings on Yemen. The DP is worse than worthless in this circus charade.

    2. dcblogger

      so what happens to rich white people does not matter? society ignores crimes in my neighborhood because it is “just young black men killing each other.” so it is OK to ignore the crime against Ford because it is one aristocrat attacking another? where is your pity? where is your empathy? where is your sense of justice? where is your solidarity?

      1. Carolinian

        All of the commercial networks cancelled their daily soap operas and talk shows to cover the hearing. She’s hardly being ignored.

        1. Donald

          Your approach is a losing one.

          I agree that upper middle class liberals are hypocrites. They turn their moral outrage on and off like a switch. But it is never a good idea to downplay one moral outrage because others are ignored. You point out that others are ignored.

          As an example, liberals were in a white heat of outrage over the child separation issue. Most of these people show no interest whatsoever in Yemen or Gaza. I will point out the latter without saying one thing that suggests in any way that they shouldn’t be outraged about children being separated from parents. You can point out the hypocrisy without sounding like you pooh pooh the issue that liberals do care about.

          1. Carolinian

            I like to think of this blog as one where people try to get at what’s really happening and not simply advocate. Therefore I’m not sure it has anything to do with “winning” or “losing.”

            But if the debate is about morality then indeed some outrages are more outrageous than others. It’s the ground that has been chosen.

            1. Donald

              But the moral approach is also the practical one here. It is never moral to downplay the sexual assault of an affluent teenager because of Yemen. A fifteen year old abuse victim is not less sympathetic for being affluent. The comparison approach will hurt people who have themselves experienced sexual assault.

              And it won’t help people in Yemen to link their cause to lefties who make this kind of argument.

              Btw, I have gotten into nasty arguments with liberals about Yemen, but I never did this comparing of atrocities thing. I have heard some utterly despicable counterarguments. They expose their own moral bankruptcy without me having to resort to comparative atrocity arguments.

              1. Carolinian

                What I am downplaying is the certainty by some that it happened at all, not that she was affluent or that it was a sexual assault. Even she doesn’t claim that she was raped, just that a couple of drunken kids acted in a way that made her fear that she was about to be.

                So the correct word is skepticism and a sense that this alleged assault is unworthy of so much more attention than known and proven horrors that are being committed by our ruling class all over the world.

                Others may feel differently and that’s fine. We are all here just giving our opinions and thoughts.

          2. witters

            “But it is never a good idea to downplay one moral outrage because others are ignored.”

            I disagree. Selective justice poisons the well of justice itself. And it happens all over. Here is a different example i once discussed:

            “In its 11 year history the ICC has only prosecuted Africans. That in itself, given any knowledge of recent world events, is both striking and revealing. The ICC was, after all, meant to be ‘an independent judicial body that would challenge impunity for the gravest international crimes—genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity’. It would be nonsense to argue that these things have only occurred in Africa, and even more so to contend that Africa alone has seen the most extreme and reprehensible of these events.

            So why the selective focus? Why has the judicial arm of the Universal Church of the Human Rights Regime seen so little and ignored so much? Because, for all its appeal to the ethical universal, as an institutional structure, it is embedded in – is, indeed, a part of – the world of the political particular. Roughly speaking, Africa is politically weak and geopolitically not of first importance to those states that are strong, and are big geopolitical players. Indeed that state and its interests whose support is most essential to the reach of the ICC – the United States – is not even a signatory to the Rome Statute that saw its creation.

            Does this matter? Should the cosmopolitan worry about this selectivity of targets, its focus on the weaker and less powerful offenders, and its blind eye to the often worse offences of the stronger and more powerful? Some seem to think not.

            Kenneth Roth is quite clear: ‘That war criminals still run free where the court cannot act is hardly reason to refrain from prosecution where it can.’ The trouble – and it is a trouble it takes a ‘sophisticated’ adult to deny, for it is obvious to any child – is that this is just untrue. Justice, as John Rawls reminded us, is crucially a matter of fairness, and it isn’t fair that some who offend are targeted and others who offend, are not. And it is especially unfair when the explanation for this runs not through ethical considerations, but those of (relative) power. What Roth refuses to acknowledge is that selective justice isn’t merely incomplete justice, it undermines the very idea of justice itself. It pollutes the wells.”

      2. David May

        ” where is your pity? where is your empathy? where is your sense of justice? where is your solidarity?”

        – With the children of Yemen.

        1. pretzelattack

          it is possible to be concerned about the children of yemen and the victims of sexual assault simultaneously.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “China seeks global role for elite counter-terrorism forces”

    It would be interesting if China sent some of these elite units to fight the Uighurs in Syria. Maybe even some aviation units. The west couldn’t really complain too hard as these formations would be there at the invitation of the Syrian government whereas the special forces from the US, the UK and France operating in Syria at the moment are there illegally. I wonder if a Washington official would promise that Chinese troops would be going back to China in body bags as was promised the Russians.
    For those interested, there is an article on China’s special ops forces at but just an occasional look at the China Defense Blog at will show that the Chinese are upping their game across the board. And as I always say, just because they are Chinese does not mean that they are no good.

    1. jo6pac

      Thanks for the links.
      China is fighting the Uighurs in Syria as learning experience a long side top Syrian troops. China and Russia just as soon the bad guys die there and don’t come home.

      China has also started to help rebuild cities in Syria as promised.

        1. Craig H.

          Thank you and very interesting. In this week’s Economist they say “several hundred thousand” detained, and they just toss it off, as if it were a scientific fact like the acceleration of gravity is 32 feet per second per second. I wonder what the best information is that Trump and Putin’s Intel guys are supplying them?

  10. Kokuanani

    HuffPost has had an article up for [it seems like] weeks about Hillary going to FL to campaign for Gillum. I want to scream “take it down!!!” and keep her out of there. Does no one know that she is POISON??? How many deluded white suburban women are there? And how is she, the enabling spouse of an abuser, going to “convince” them of anything?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      It could be worse. It could be Tim Kaine speaking the few Spanish phrases he knows then telling everyone how hip he is.

    2. John Wright

      At her age, maybe it is time for HRC to get a hearing aid for tone deafness.

      Someone must make one.

      The Dems could make a quantity buy and outfit the Democratic Party elite with them as well.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, if Clinton really is going down there, it is simple honesty for HuffPo to keep the link up. Why would Gillum permit her intrusion? Is it because she made him an Offer he Couldn’t Refuse?

      ” Nice little campaign you got there, Gillum. Too bad if something was to happen to it.”

  11. Jomo

    Thank you for the link: “How we know Kavanaugh is lying,” I am only halfway through the piece, but I am already recommending to friends. I doubt I would have seen this without your site. Maybe I can get a few more eyes looking at your site, it does provide a valuable service.

    1. whatdoyouknow

      Nathan’s work here is a thing of beauty imo. Worthy of sharing widely.
      If you have not read it, it should be todays MUST READ.

    2. VietnamVet

      “How we know Kavanaugh is lying” is a good recap.

      I am not a Catholic Jock. But, Brett Kavanaugh’s lying and lack of empathy are the tell that he is a connected meritocrat, the haute bourgeoise. He’ll give corporations and oligarchs what they want. He’s groomed for the Supreme Court. His outrage, in part, is due to others challenging his privileges and status. The other part is his Irish temper and a serious alcohol problem. Teenage binge drinking and blackouts continue through life; unless one stops drinking. If not, cirrhosis of the liver or pancreatic cancer will lead to an early death. He does not look healthy. As he climbed the ladder of success, he likely hid the extent of his drinking from himself and others but acted out enough so that they knew he was one of them and could be trusted not to tell inconvenient truths.

      The alcohol industry owns the media. In this episode, no one points out the numbers of deaths from despair and accidents that alcohol causes or that its use increases the risk of sexual assault.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If he gets on the Court as I expect, and at some future point he gets cirrhosis of the liver and/or pancreatic cancer, one can assume that he will get the very best medical care in the world to keep him alive for years on the Court and rulling for his groomers. Let us hope those will be years of pancreatic cancer pain beyond the power of all the opiates in the world to alleviate . . . or even moderate.

        Let Justice be served. Cold. And over and over again.

  12. George Phillies

    Readers looking for an understanding of the current political situation and historical precedents would usefully read two books. The first volume is Asymmetric Politics by Grossman and Hopkins on why the Republican and Democratic Parties are so different. The key difference identified by the volume may be a bit challenging for conservatives or liberals to accept, but the volume is really well written. The difference also tends to explain why some Europeans are a bit unclear on how American politics works, a difference I first encountered in 1970 when a large antiwar demonstration marched by, to be ignored by students doing other things, and the nice European student couldn’t understand –he was accustomed to political parties that sorted by class–why the students doing other things were not joining the demo.

    The second volume is Potter’s The Impending Crisis on American politics of 1845-1860 What happened in that period? First, the Democratic Republicans and the Whigs had each had a northern and a southern wing, which moderated each other, so that unionism was the strong political theme. As time advanced, the northern Democrats and the southern Whigs both faded, so the parties (with Free-Soilers, etc. replacing the failing Whigs) each became geographical and supported geographical interests more and more firmly. Then, between Uncle Tom’s Cabin (there were some other period books, perhaps as influential, now forgotten) and the John Brown Raid, the two regions became ‘southerners are depraved’ and ‘northerners are planing to kill us’, and matters went to Hell in a handbasket from there.

    The modern change is a bit different. Return to 1970 and Foner’s volume on the Republican Party’s ideology in the 1850s, its great stress on Free Labor. Buried in there is the exotic sentence, already dated, that modern political parties are explicitly non-ideological. Remember, in 1960 the Democrats were the party of Strom Thurmond as well as JFK, while the Republicans were the party of Nelson Rockefeller as well as Barry Goldwater. Each party had a strong conservative and a strong liberal wing, and each party needed both to be effective.

    We then had an ideological sort, not primarily* a geographic sort, the Republican party becoming more conservative and the Democratic Party becoming more liberal, and in addition (the following is hard to follow if you have not read Asymmetric Politics) the Republican Party becoming more ‘we are here to better the country’ and the Democratic Party becoming more ‘vote for your interest’. (I anticipate many people are not going to follow that correctly.) And now we have the two sides not only disagreeing with each other but vitriolically hating each other.

    *Primarily. Note Sean Trende’s analysis at Clinton in aggregate carried huge cities by a lot and cities over a million by some, while Republicans carried cities of under a million, and down to rural areas, these being continuations of trends that started under President Clinton. As a result, a majority of Americans live in places that one party or the other carreid by 20 or 40 points, and vast numbers of people now think it is important that their children not marry someone oft eh other political party.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Are the two parties that different? The base voters might be, but they represent a minority. They just a hige defense spending bill and confirmed a mess of Republican judges. The South was basically a foreign country for much of the country’s history having carried over similar divides from the British isles. Comparing the Southern wings of parties to the national parties would be better compared to international relations than domestic politics of other countries. It would be no different than say Putin working with a center left country where the problem is U.S. dominance.

      With the size of the U.S., differences in geography can be extreme.

      The example of Bill Clinton as he’s linked with the rightward shift of the national Democratic Party. I would note that half of the population of the South isn’t Southern any more which has radically changed the nature of politics in the country (the internal immigration of the 80’s). The natural extension of the 50 state strategy was to expand out into rural areas after locking down urban areas where there is a higher ROI.

      By what metric are the Dims more liberal? Gay rights? The Conservatives aren’t bussing people to protest the gays kissing anymore. Then of course the problem with the Senate and the phony filibuster requirements allow more conservative people to acquire a more liberal record.

      1. George Phillies

        In most of America, try running as a pro-life, pro-gun,anti-gay Democrat or as a pro-abortion, anti-gun, pro-gay-rights Republican. It will work poorly in most though not all places.

        The great contribution of Karl Rove to understanding American politics — which is not the same as his contribution to American politics — was to demonstrate that most people will almost always vote for the same party. The people allegedly in the middle may say they are independent, but most of them almost always vote for the same party. Political success then consists of persuading your base–a group in the mid-40s for both parties — to show up and vote.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Your examples are of minor consequence to the daily lives of the overwhelming majority of Americans. How do the parties agree on matters of infrastructure, the MIC, domestic spending? Matters that effect the everyday. We often see bipartisanship which they do not trumpet from on high because it gives up the game. The people selecting these matters also push their own values to what matters. School shootings might seem to happen everyday, but they don’t happen everywhere in a huge country which is important.

          Selecting these matters is part of the game. Its nice Democrats built up a record defending ACA, but it doesn’t mean the GOP and they really disagree on the fraudulent health insurance delivery system.

          I would suggest promises of turning away from foreign policy and focusing on domestic concerns were the primary driving force of the 2006 and 2008 victories where Democrats turned out the base. Their appeals to the “but the Supreme Court” and attacking Sanders on gun control didn’t really help, where Hillary wound up with smaller vote totals than Kerry through much of the competitive states in recent years.

          Its important to examine what the votes mean. Holding inconsequential votes that won’t pass the filibuster or pass in the other house are just exercises in conditioning the base and nothing more. I would point to the example of Mark Warner, a new found convert in the efforts for gun control. He found Jesus after Sandy Hook which I might buy if he wasn’t governor of Virginia. He wasn’t governor in 2007, but he knows Virginia Tech is even becoming involved in the ACC expansion to help the region. His own daughters were in school during Columbine. Until Sandy Hook, he had a B+ rating from the NRA. Now he racks up inconsequential votes that paint him as pro-gun control, but we’ve never seen him when it might have mattered.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The key difference identified by the volume may be a bit challenging for conservatives or liberals to accept, but the volume is really well written.

      Don’t leave us hanging! What’s the key difference? (Thanks for these books!)

      1. George Phillies

        Lambert, I will try.

        At a certain level of approximation, the Democratic Party is based on identity groups, and delivering something to each group. We thus have books like The Emerging Democratic Majority, based on the assertion that if you are Black or Hispanic or Jewish or living in a large city or have advanced degrees, you are more or less automatically a Democrat. White lower-middle-class industrial folks are often Democrats, but that’s not where the core focus is. When these groups are big enough, the Democrats win. I once had a college apartment mate who was a Democratic Socialist–this goes back a long time. His position on voting was that you ‘vote your interest’. He was unaware of alternatives. Note that Democrats tend to get really upset if anyone tries to line up white voters the same way.

        The Republican Party is more explicitly ideological. You might vote for a Republican if, for example, you were in favor of gun rights or against affirmative action, no matter your race or color or national origin. The focus is your position on issues, not who your parents were. Note that Republicans get really upset if you ask them about delivering on their ideology.

        Now we come to the unpleasant point of view issues. When a Democrat says that one is a Hispanic, so therefore one should vote Democratic Party, a Republican will say the Democrat is an overt racist. Meanwhile, Republicans are happy to note that Hispanics, in particular, are on the census reclassifying their children as being white, which is its own racial message. The Republican misses the point that many people who belong to some identity group actually do have common interests that may dominate their voting choice.

        When a Republican says to vote for her because she supports gun rights, the Democrat says that there aren’t all that many gun owners, even among conservatives, so the second amendment identity group is not that big. The Democrat misses the point that support for the second amendment among conservatives is equally strong with gun owners and with non-gun-owners. The issue is ideology, not membership in an identity group, which is very difficult to understand if your politics is identitarian in organization.

        At some point, a party that does not deliver has internal issues, and we get candidates like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, because the voters of the base have had it with their representatives.

        I did not try to explain the contrast discussed in the book with European political parties.

        OK, I tried. Folks who have read it get to correct where I have misrepresented the book. If you disagree, please disagree with the book; I am trying to represent what the book said.

        Please read the book first.

    3. dcblogger

      Strom Thurmond left the Democrats in 1948 after the Democratic National Convention passed a civil rights plank. He ran for President as a third party candidate.

      1. George Phillies

        Thurmond was a Democratic Governor from 1946 until 1950, and was then a Senator from 1954 (he won as a write-in candidate, no party) and was re-elected in 1956 as a Democrat, and remained a Democrat until 1964, when he switched parties.

  13. flaesq

    “[Flawed network analysis wherever you look.”

    A moving piece. Thank you for linking to it. I will now logout and properly weep for those lost, if not a little for myself.

  14. Charlie

    Stoller thread:

    Serious question here. Is it fair to say that aristocracy and plutocracy play out the same way? Because it certainly appears that’s the case.

    Either way, a storm Versailles moment is almost inevitable.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Versailles is getting ready for “storm Versailles” with LRADs, tear gas, pepper spray, militarized police, private armies, Raytheon Oven Rays, etc. And the National Guard and then the Regular Armed Forces standing by to crush any “storm Versailles” which might be attempted.

      People might be better advised to consider how to besiege Versailles, how to poison its water supplies, how to destroy its food supplies, how to attrit and degrade all its life-support pipelines, how to fling dead rats full of bubonic plague fleas over the Versailles Walls . . . in order to get Versaille to surrender or die.

      But storm it? All the stormers, in their millions , would be killed in any such frontal storming attack.

  15. QuarterBack

    Re the $100 bill story. Interesting chart. The spike really accelerated in 2008. I wonder if the financial crisis spooked people on banks and got them hoarding $100s.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Smells of a limited hangout to me. Or, I don’t believe it but don’t care enough to check. I would assume Cashier’s Checks aren’t that useful in places like Libya, Yemen, or Syria.

      But also, once you’ve had the ATMs go out for a while, you plan ahead.

      And too, with 20s being the lowest denomination from ATMs a dollar is the new nickel. When your corner store doesn’t care about the pennies, things have changed.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      100s are useful for “business” and money laundering. I think that’s the point. 1s used to be useful for tips. Today, not so much. Local currency is now preferred in developing countries where 1s used to be good to get if you were a cab driver or other basic services worker.

      1. polecat

        Are you implying that people who use/pay with 100 dollar bills are either shifty bidness folk or criminals ??
        Seriously !

    3. a different chris

      When did they dump those planefulls of bills into Iraq? $100 seems just about right for what they were (deludedly) trying to do.

  16. Edward E

    Today’s antidote reminds me of the results obtained from experiments giving Indian head massages to wild baby razorback pigs. Fangers are forever sore from that brilliance E

  17. Lee

    Any fellow travelers familiar with Casey Gerard, a gay black man who vaulted from desperately deprived and difficult circumstances to Ivy League MBA, Ted speaker et al.? Listened to his interview on NPR Morning Edition. It’s only 6 minutes and I found the excerpted remarks quoted below of interest but I’m not sure where he’s headed politically speaking or as an MBA activist.

    ‘There Will Be No Miracles Here’ And The American Dream

    He speaks of the lonely, dangerous path of carrying the hopes of his community on his shoulders. That in his metamorphosis from kid to symbol, that his escape from impoverishment to higher echelons is regarded by them as somehow theirs as well. He claims he has become a pernicious symbol that allows us to “pretend that there is not a conveyor belt leading most people in this country from nothing to nowhere. You see, I’m a glitch in the American machine that works off this fantasy called the American dream. But as long as I’m quiet about that, as long as I don’t confess how little sense this journey makes, then the world can keep on ticking. But I become a lie. I become an illusion.”

    1. JohnnyGL

      Hadn’t before you posted this, but good stuff. It’s notable how few of the people who pull off the rags-to-riches story then turn around and see how they’re a useful tool for propaganda and elite self-justification (‘look, we’re always accepting new members! See, we even took this guy! If he can do it, you can, too! If you don’t make it….must be because you weren’t good enough to join us).

      Now, when most of those success stories then side with elites over those they grew up with, is it because they’re convinced of their own merit and that the system must therefore be a just one, more or less?

      Or because they’re insecure and realize they can be tossed out as easily as they’ve been let in?

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          How could Thomas possibly be tossed out? For what? A lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court is for Life.

    2. a different chris

      >desperately deprived and difficult circumstances to Ivy League MBA, Ted speaker

      So rags to riches and back again? :D

  18. Jason Boxman

    Secretary Perry notes in his book how his public private partnership for base housing for military families is one of his big achievements.

    1. blennylips

      Yeah, right. Achievement benefiting someone:

      CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. Two weeks after Hurricane Florence deluged the U.S. East Coast’s largest Marine Corps base with raging waters and dangerous winds, some military families say they are still residing in unlivable conditions and awaiting help from the base’s private housing manager.

      1. Jason Boxman

        He also says in his book the housing was abysmal prior to privatization, so it seems, as we’ve seen plenty of evidence elsewhere, that despite what officials in Washington may say, we don’t actually value the people serving in our armed forces, virtue signaling notwithstanding. (I felt like using excessive commas.)

    2. knowbuddhau

      Thanks, good to know. Maybe I’ll send him a thank you letter.

      Back in ’06, having no luck finding work in my field, psychology, in my area (it’s not that there wasn’t work for a dementia care-certified bachelor of arts: no one would hire me after too long out of the field, and being a 40something male didn’t help), I took a job I’d rather not have for an employer I’d rather not work for. Because that’s what you do, right?

      I worked for a subcontractor on the local Navy base, painting new construction housing. I gave up on all my dreams and decided to be a base housing painter. Could’ve been the last job I ever needed.

      Except the general contractor, American Eagle (ikr?), never built the next several hundred houses we were supposed to paint.

      According to that 9 December 2008 article, millions of dollars somehow disappeared, but no houses appeared, and nothing happened. Later, it also says AE is “a politically connected Dallas company.” Go figure.

      I went to work on the last day of August, 2006, but work wasn’t there. The CONEX was empty. No ladders. Nothing. Some other guy comes up and says, “Didn’t you hear? American Eagle embezzled the money and now we’re all f^cked.” Feels like getting kicked in the gut as you drop a thousand floors when you though you were on solid ground.

      My employer fought me for unemployment.

      I’m out maybe half a million in wages over the last dozen years.

      And it wasn’t even the last job I thought I’d ever need only to have stolen.

      I hope others will pardon me if I sometimes sound a bit cranky. You don’t know the half of it.

  19. ape

    Merito-aristocracy? That’s the distinction between old aristocracy and the current — that the current exists under a cover of “earning it”, while the old one was precisely that it was unearned, that the aristocrats were too good to “earn” anything.

    That’s why Steve Jobs is their superhero, their god. He was a monster (he even smelled bad!) but he wasn’t born to the manor. He justifies this system — of course the fact that he happened to grow up in Palo Alto at just the right time near HP is really not spoken about. But in the end, the very concept of meritocracy is just another kind of aristocracy — but instead of by pure birth, you have to pass the “test” and then you get the moral right to be a master.

    Like getting into Yale Law School, for example.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      This is also why there is a ton of Musk worship (Yes there is a reddit about it The Church of Musk). People want to desperately believe that the elite are elite because they worked hard for it.. so much so that meritocracy is a religion.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Maybe, if you haven’t you should read the “Perelandra” trilogy by C.S. Lewis. Speaking of evil techs ascending to the planets in something like a little yellow submarine… Lots of good stuff there about the nature of evil, and bureaucracy as the mechanism of evil when put to purpose by people of bad will…

          1. pretzelattack

            i never read it, big fantasy fan as a teenage but i was a little put off by the christian elements i had read about.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          So when Musk ascends, we will meet Steve Jobs, Saint McCain, and Musk in heaven, but who are the other two?

          Reagan is more of an undead type, so it can’t be him.

      1. dcblogger

        fabulous, thank you for linking this. the real story of the 2018 midterms are groups this and Let America Vote, doing the work the Democrats should have been doing for the last 20 years.

    1. Isotope_C14

      Sweet, and right before the primary elections the Democrats can kick off the voter rolls everyone under 45 and sail to victory with a nice pro-corporate, pro-war, neoliberal establishment shill.

      Then the Republicans can get their Handmaid’s Tale candidate safely installed, another bipartisan victory!

      Aw Yeah, DEMOCRACY!

      You get to choose 250 types of cereal, but during elections only one of two pro-corporate fascists in an election that can’t be tracked with paper ballots. That’s some freedumb.

  20. BoyDownTheLane

    Who here knows about the OODA loop, and could pull together a coherent explanation of it and how it has been used since 1998, and by which national political leaders? Use your search engine for ‘Donald Trump OODA loop” if you aren’t informed.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I think that it is more that just the OODA loop at work for Trump. So he spends a few minutes sending out a well-planned Tweet but in a style that makes it sound off the cuff. The media and his political opponents go into melt-down mode and articles are rushed online to counter what he said. People give themselves repetitive strain injury tweeting on his tweets. The hair-does on TV get into shouting matches either attacking or defending what he tweeted out. Then, before the whole thing has a chance to shake out into some sort of consensus, Trump launches another tweet. This has been happening off and on for nearly two years now and appears to be a way to burn out a lot of opposition. That is why you need things like a Kavanagh hearing – to fire up the base again.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Should have added to that last bit. For the democrats, the Kavanagh hearings are working out fine and serving their purpose. As an example of how this is received main stage treatment, to date there are 152 comments on today’s links and by my count about 72 of them are either comments on the Kavanagh hearings or are part of a thread in reaction to a Kavanagh comment. So, mission accomplished for the democrats?

        1. JBird4049

          So, mission accomplished for the democrats?

          Yes, it is, and never mind the twelve thousand homeless in San Francisco.

  21. JTMcPhee

    I found a link the other day or so talking about anti-trust law and enforcement, it appeared in the link list. Then today i randomly come across this one:

    Breakingviews – Data is new beat for transatlantic antitrust cops

    WASHINGTON (Reuters Breakingviews) – Data is the new shared beat for transatlantic antitrust cops. Europe’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager and her U.S. Justice Department counterpart Makan Delrahim worry concentrations of personal information may be used to stifle competition. She has been the tougher one so far, but the common focus could hurt tech giants like Facebook and Alphabet that depend on data for profit.

    After all, what is important here?

    Not sure why I keep thinking and worrying about and trying to share such stuff — after all, Futilitarianism is a sort of comforting religion…

  22. The Rev Kev

    “The Next Pandemic Will Be Arriving Shortly”

    To tell you the truth, the thought of a pandemic based on influenza creeps me the hell out. I have read some books on the big one a hundred years ago and that was bad enough. You could turn that little episode into a great horror film that. This time around I think would be much worse. You can expect doctors and nurses to be withdrawn until the worst of the flu was spent so that medical services would not collapse. And would any modern government instruct their citizens to say at home and not shop, socialize at restaurants & malls or go to movies and theaters? Or would the government worry more about the hit to the economy and loss of revenue as people stopped spending. Remember how Bush told Americans after the trauma of 9/11 to “go shopping”?
    Even staying at home – would your Amazon delivery person be a potential vector for spreading influenza? How would you go touching the keypad of an ATM? Or even a door handle? People are already divided enough but could you imagine if you never knew if your fellow citizens were carriers of a flu strain? The wisest course would be to stay at home and make no unnecessary trips that would bring you in contact with other people. But what if you had a family member that insisted that it was their “right” to go out with friends and come back at will. What happens there? Would our tech overlords feel an urgent need to check their properties in New Zealand? Could you depend on politicians to not turn it into a political football for their own gains? Too many questions of which some of the answers could be really bad.

  23. ChrisPacific

    The Kavanaugh testimony reminds me very strongly of the ‘Beer’ episode from Blackadder II. It’s the one where he was hosting an austere dinner for his puritan aunt and uncle in order to protect his future inheritance, while simultaneously trying to run a debauched party in another part of the house. Much of the episode features elements of the drunken party impinging on the dinner in various ways, and Blackadder having to come up with increasingly inventive explanations for it all.

  24. allan

    A long-form memoir of reviewing The English Patient back in 1996, before the death of print,
    somehow ends up here:

    … Everyone talks about the country falling apart in November 2016, but maybe it fell apart in November 1996, when America went to see The English Patient. What if we had all turned to each other and said, “This garbage is our idea of rave-worthy cinema? Anyone else see a big problem here?”, and then there had been a massive riot?

    Becoming poor was such a small price to pay to stop being so fucking dumb. I used to hear “Politics is the art of the possible” as benignly self-evident. Now I know it is chastising, smug, and cruel. It’s not about cooperation. It is about agreeing that some people ’s lives don’t matter. If you hear anything else in that saying, you’ve never wished you could just die because you couldn’t figure out how to make money. …

    Highly recommended.

  25. Synoia

    No-Deal Brexit to Cost $12 Billion in Food Tariffs, Study Says

    I can understand tariffs on UK exports to the EU.

    Why Tariffs on UK imports from the EU? The UK can choose not to levy those tariffs.

    1. Yves Smith

      They will destroy their own domestic farming industry. They would become even more dependent on imported food. Lots of stories at the Guardian on this topic.

  26. drumlin woodchuckles

    I am just now reading an article from a link I saw in a comment on Ian Welsh’s blog. It is about how many mild-mannered suburbanites and mid-middle class smallish-townspeople have begun all kinds of local political-involvement organizing in many little groups at many local levels and places. And they are doing it the analog way, in the meatspace realisphere, and keeping it mainly off line and away from the prying eyes of the digerati and the digirazzi. It seems as if it could be genuinely hopeful, maybe.

    Here is the link.

  27. PlutoniumKun

    Am I entitled to medical care if I move to Ireland to retire? The Irish Times (Clive). Clive comments: “Bourne our of necessity, I’d say, for the person asking this question. I wonder how many more there are like him or her. The reply makes the point that in Eire, as in the U.K., health services not drowning in junk billing cash means resources are rationed so the price you pay can be long wait times. But at least your losses in terms of co-pays or out-of-pocket are either capped (nominal, trivial charges in the Republic’s system) or zero (in the U.K. system). Note too the nudging to avoid the problem of waiting lists by paying for insurance to, in essence, queue-jump. A slippery slope if ever there was one.”

    A bit late on this, but its not uncommon for Irish Americans and their children to keep some sort of ‘toe’ in Ireland for exactly this reason. Its easy enough to use a relatives address to ‘prove’ residence.

    One of my first introductions to how screwed up the US health system is cost-wise is when an ex – the NJ born child of Irish emigrants to the US – told me how her family intended to bring her father to a nursing home in Ireland as soon as his Alzhimers was beyond what his wife could deal with. They thought they had a good chance (as he is an Irish citizen) of getting government supported stay – but she said they had priced everything up and even if he had to pay for full private, it would cost approximately half to put him in a good specialist home in Ireland compared to NJ. Now Ireland is not a cheap country – the minimum wage is higher than the US and other costs are very high. So I can think of no good reason why nursing homes should cost twice as much in the US, except for profiteering (yes, there may be some regulatory costs, but I doubt they are all that much).

    The Irish system does have extra costs due to rent extraction – most notably the mix of public and private allows some sectors a lot of leverage to hike up costs. But it is still far cheaper than the US. The Irish system involves a ‘basic’ free service to all, but because of waiting lists about 50% of people have private insurance, which allows you to jump queues (although everyone in power denies that this is what insurance is for). But insurance is relatively cheap.

    Incidentally, while its a high risk strategy, in most European countries doctors simply won’t report non-citizens and will treat them under the public system. I know an Australian man who fell ill in France with no travel insurance. He had advanced cancer, but he was given first class treatment (his wife is a nurse, so she could tell he was not getting half measures) and his life was saved. They didn’t charge one cent.

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