2:00PM Water Cooler 10/1/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

I’ll add a bit more; I’m starting to think that “Kavanaugh” really ought to go into the Urban Dictionary as a synonym for “enormous time sink.” –lambert UPDATE 2:46PM All done!


“Ten Things to Know About the Nafta Deal” [Wall Street Journal]. Well worth a read. This caught my eye: “The agreement will face a “sunset” in 16 years, if it isn’t actively renewed or renegotiated. The three countries will meet every six years to decide whether to renew the pact, potentially keeping Nafta-pocalypse 16 years in the future in perpetuity. Canadian and Mexican officials say the uncertainty of sunset clauses undermines investment in their countries. Still, companies are somewhat pleased the Trump administration didn’t get the five-year sunset clause it was seeking.” And: “One system that allows foreign companies to challenge governments—investor-state dispute settlement, or ISDS—has been sharply scaled back.” • On ISDS, big if true.

Digging into the text:

“China Manufacturing PMI slumps, US tariffs not necessarily the culprit” [FreightWaves]. “China Beige Book, a consultancy focused on ‘under the bonnet’ Chinese economics said last week that manufacturing ‘s multi-year rally has given way to declining revenue and sharply declining profit growth, and that an explosion in corporate borrowing is not being captured by official government statistics and domestic orders are not making up for the drop in exports. It’s too soon to know if this is due to US tariffs or simply the result of cooling global growth. Capital Economics reported, adding: ‘Even if export growth did indeed weaken last month, this may not be due to US tariffs. Global growth is now cooling, which we think is weighing on foreign demand for Chinese goods irrespective of tariffs.”



“Clinton to campaign for Pritzker in Illinois” [Politico]. “Clinton’s appearance won’t translate into financial help — a billionaire, Pritzker is self-funding his campaign.” • How nice for both of them.

“The 2018 Impact on the 2020 Democratic Nomination” [Cook Political Report]. “Let’s be real. Within days of the midterm election’s end, the race for the Democratic nomination in 2020 will begin. It will suck up the collective energy of DC more than anything that’s happening on Capitol Hill. And, while we know midterm results have proven to be terrible predictors of the upcoming presidential election, each potential 2020 candidate will try and prove that they are the best candidate to build upon, fix, or continue the trends of 2018.” • So looking forward to this.


35 days until Election Day. 35 days is a long time in politics (as we are seeing right now with Kavanaugh).

Lambert here: Let me try to gather my thoughts on Kavanaugh, speaking for myself only. First, as far as evidence goes, I don’t think we’re any forrader then we were when Kavanaugh’s room-mate said that he was sure that Kavanaugh was capable of the assault Ford accused him of, as was his social circle, but that was as far as he could go. If your standard is “innocent until proven guilty,” Kavanaugh, at least in the Ford matter, is innocent. If your standard is “Believe women” (or “believe victims”; note the question-begging), then do consider that Emmett Till was lynched because a white woman was believed; and the Central Park Five were railroaded in a moral panic in which most of New York participated. We might also remember that eyewitness testimony and human memory are fallible and malleable (see the satanic ritual abuse moral panic). My takeaway from this is that we as a society have no way of adjudicating sexual assault claims that treats the assaulted with a level of dignity sufficient for them to come forward at the time, and that’s a big problem, probably one not to be solved with another decade of call-out culture, for reasons I’ll get to.

Second, as far as Kavanaugh goes, it seems clear to me that he flat-out committed perjury when he said he never blacked out, and his behavior was sufficiently out-of-control at the time that any number of his acquaintances and drinking buddies are ticked off at his virtuous denials, and will testify accordingly. Now, whether the FBI will be permitted to investigate Kavanaugh’s testimony is another matter, but if Kavanaugh makes it onto the bench he should be impeached at the earliest possible opportunity. (Insanely, Democrats have painted themselves into the corner that if a Supreme Court nominee has the credentials, he should be on the bench; they simply can’t reject a candidate because of his jurisprudence, and so we have to go through circuses like this.)

Third, I’ve expressed my revulsion at the sexual mores of Kavanaugh’s male “social circle” (and the 80s generally; see Vox’s excellent article on 16 Candles), and the process of elite formation therein, so I don’t need to do that again.

Fourth and finally, the amalgamation #MeToo, the #Resistance, and the Democrat Party is interesting, institutionally; as John Robb puts it: “The #Resistance network instantly amplified Ford’s claim to the national level stigmergically[1] signalling to the rest of the network.” However, we should contextualize: The network not only “amplified” Ford’s claim, it funded her testimony, to the tune of $700K (along with McCabe’s retirement, etc.). Payola isn’t a practice call-out culture can routinize and expect to retain credibility.[2] Further, the #Resistance is, at least at the national level, the Clinton campaign in exile, where the future is females rebooting the slave markets in Libya with bombing campaigns, so please forgive me if I don’t find the prospect of any #Resistance victory, however defined, edifying.

NOTES [1] A good word of the day, stigmergy: “Stigmergy is a consensus social network mechanism of indirect coordination, through the environment, between agents or actions. The principle is that the trace left in the environment by an action stimulates the performance of a next action, by the same or a different agent. In that way, subsequent actions tend to reinforce and build on each other, leading to the spontaneous emergence of coherent, apparently systematic activity.” Like ants following odor trails. [2] I don’t think Ford anticipated this; fallible though witness demeanor is, she doesn’t strike me as that sort of person.

“The Kavanaugh Fight’s Midterm Stakes” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “In the end, the Kavanaugh fight is not likely to be a true game changer. The dynamics of this election seem to be locked into a direction that has to be terrifying for Republicans. The only question is how bad the outcome will be. It certainly seems very likely that Democrats will take back control of the House, but will they gain 25 to 40 seats (they need at least 23 to take control), or could their wave build higher?….

* * *

“November Offers Major Test of Medicaid Expansion’s Support in Red States” [Governing]. “Four states are voting on Medicaid expansion in November — Idaho, Montana, Nebraska and Utah. It started with Maine. After years of failed attempts to get Gov. Paul LePage to sign off on Medicaid expansion, residents took to the ballot box and made it the first state where voters passed the health care policy.”

About that “coalition of the ascendant”:

Realignment and Legitimacy

Speaking of partisanship (1):

Speaking of partisanship (2):

Speaking of partisanship (3):

For those who came in late, Kristol was a co-founder of The Project for a New American Century, which provided the ideological justification for the Iraq War, among other wars. John Pilger: “What was needed for America to dominate much of humanity and the world’s resources, it said, was ‘some catastrophic and catalysing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.’ The attacks of 11 September 2001 provided the ‘new Pearl Harbor’, described as ‘the opportunity of ages.'” Bill Kristol is a horrible human being. I can’t imagine what a good Democrat like Neera Tanden is doing hanging out with him.

UPDATE “NYC-DSA Statement on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Endorsement of Andrew Cuomo and ‘All Democratic Nominees'” [NYC-DSA]. “Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign did so much to show us who our allies are: workers of all ethnicities, races, and genders. But socialists also have a responsibility to name our enemies, and high on that list is Andrew Cuomo. His two-term record reveals a critical lack of support for healthcare for all New Yorkers, or ambitious climate and jobs programs, or protection for immigrants from deportation. Meanwhile, he governs like an old-time political boss, endlessly plagued by corruption scandals. An endorsement for Cuomo suggests that working people across New York should accept him as an ally, when the opposite is true. Further, “rallying behind all Democratic nominees” erases the real distance between insurgent socialist candidates and the Democratic Party establishment that we must continue to fight against. It suggests that electing anyone involved with the Democratic Party will automatically help secure a better future for the oppressed, exploited, and marginalized.”

UPDATE “The Rainbow Coalition, Bernie, and DSA: A Response to Bill Fletcher Jr.” [Organizing Upgrade]. “In just two electoral cycles – one city primary, one city general election, and one state primary – DSA NYC has experimented with four different models of engaging electoral politics. For now, this is the kind of learning and experimentation the left needs…. Reverend Jessie Jackson built the Rainbow Coalition. Bernie Sanders created Our Revolution. If we play our cards right, we’ll have a presidential primary candidate in the next 10 or 20 years who doesn’t need to build an organization, because they come out of one.” • 10 or 20 years is a long time.

UPDATE Twitter and Facebook as organizing tools:

Stats Watch

Institute For Supply Management Manufacturing Index, September 2018: “Modest easing in new orders headlines what is another exceptionally strong ISM manufacturing” [Econoday]. “In another contrast with this morning’s PMI manufacturing report, hiring in this sample was very strong.” And: “Declines in gauges of backlogs and supplier-delivery times signal factories are catching up with demand, helping to dissipate price pressures. In prior months, producers’ rush to buy materials ahead of U.S. tariffs and counter-levies by China triggered supply-chain disruptions and a surge in costs” [Industry Week]. And but: “Based on these surveys and the district Federal Reserve Surveys, one would expect the Fed’s Industrial Production index growth rate remain about the same as last month. Overall, surveys do not have a high correlation to the movement of industrial production (manufacturing) since the Great Recession. This month the ISM survey went down and the Markit survey up – go figure” [Econintersect].

Purchasing Managers Manufacturing Index, September 2018: “solid strength” [Econoday]. “There’s strong evidence of capacity stress as backlogs are building signficantly… Growth in this report has been running noticeably below the ISM’s manufacturing sample.”

Construction Spending, August 2018: “A marginal headline gain… masks significant declines in residential spending during August” [Econoday]. “This report is not pointing to acceleration in business investment and is consistent with another weak quarter for residential investment which remains the economy’s weak spot for 2018.”

Commodities: “Catherine Hyland records the complex environment of a Chilean lithium mine” [It’s Nice That]. • Magnificent photographs!

Real Estate: “Shady Real Estate Deals Plunge Under New Regulations” [Governing]. “But in 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department, convinced there was something fishy going on in the Miami and Manhattan real estate markets, issued geographic targeting orders, or GTOs. This bureaucratic-sounding change meant that for high-end real estate purchases, cash buyers had to reveal their true identities. The effect was immediate, with cash purchases dwindling to a small fraction of overall sales…. The Treasury Department soon expanded GTOs into more markets, covering many of the nation’s largest cities. A new study from Sean Hundtofte and Ville Rantala, respectively business professors at Yale and the University of Miami, finds that the disclosure requirements have had profound effects. All-cash purchases by limited liability corporations and other corporate entities shrank from 10 percent of the total dollar volume in the targeted real estate markets to just 2.5 percent. House prices at the high end of the market have dropped by at least 4 percent. The changes have been most dramatic in Miami, where the corporate share of residential transactions has plummeted from 29 percent to 2 percent.” • Good.

Marketing: “The “Agency Of Robots” Behind Burger King’s Latest Ad Campaign” [Safe Haven]. “The fast food giant has released a series of ads that set out to mock AI by claiming to have been created by an ‘Agency of Robots’ who turned Burger King into ‘Burger Thing’ and invited everyone to ‘have it Uruguay’—and that’s not the worst of it…. [I]n our favorite, purported robot ad whizzes opine that ‘Burger King’s new chicken fries are the new potato. … We are not sorry. The potato deserved this.'” • Hey, that’s not funny!

Marketing: “This $150 “Influencer” Halloween costume is a sure sign of the times” [Quartzy]. “Just $59 gets you the base, a “low-key costume set worthy of a superstar influencer”—a pair of Yeezy-esque grey leggings and a sports bra.” • Please kill me now.

Supply Chain: “Warehouses are pinching workers from other hiring pools, but it’s still not enough” [Supply Chain Dive]. “The transportation and warehousing sector attracted 731,000 new hires from other industries — a figure representing 66% workforce growth — from 2011 to 2015, according to an analysis from CBRE.

The industries losing the most workers to transportation and warehouse jobs are administration, waste management and retail jobs… Pay is king in these scenarios unless employers can figure out how to offer benefits or amenities that employees find valuable.”

The Bezzle: “Tesla Enlists Employees to Be ‘Full Self-Driving’ Beta Testers” [Bloomberg]. “Musk wrote in an email obtained by Bloomberg News that Tesla needed about 100 more employees to join an internal testing program linked to rolling out the full self-driving capability. Any worker who buys a Tesla and agrees to share 300 to 400 hours of driving feedback with the company’s Autopilot team by the end of next year won’t have to pay for full self-driving — an $8,000 saving — or for a premium interior, which normally costs $5,000, Musk wrote.” • Cash flow problems?

Tech: “macOS 10.14 Mojave: The Ars Technica review” [Ars Technica]. • A very detailed look that leaves me feeling meh.

Tech: iPhone XS charging problems. Quite a video:

UPDATE Tech: “The False Musk-Jobs Parallel” [Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note]. “Musk doesn’t deserve to be compared to Steve Jobs, he’s a category unto himself. He has improvised on a scale we’ve never seen before and has forced the incumbents to wake up and adopt EVs as their future. Competitors, especially from Germany, seem eager to make announcements, such as Audi two weeks ago, on September 17th, disclosing a $75K SUV, the e-tron, available next year — with only 20,000 vehicles allocated for the US market, a number to be compared to Tesla’s output. Every car maker will eventually deploy one or more EVs — they have no choice, and part of that imperative is due to Musk, with our thanks.”

Rapture Index: Closes up 1 on Oil Supply/Price. “The price of Brent oil hits new high.” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 184. Seems indeed that 180 is a floor.

Militia Watch

Coming soon to your town!

Police State Watch

“Grandfather and grandsons kicked out of Chesapeake park for drinking kombucha” [Virginian-Pilot]. • I would never have thought that officiousness would become our defining national characteristic.


Administration climate policy:

Class Warfare

“Seventh Circuit Nixes Local Right-to-Work Law” [Courthouse News]. “Creating a circuit split, the Seventh Circuit ruled Friday that the National Labor Relations Act does not allow local municipalities to pass right-to-work laws…. This split makes it likely that the case will be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

News of the Wired

“Every Adult Should Have a Bedtime” [New York Magazine]. • No.

English churches like the Pennsylvania Thruway….

“Chaotic neutral” is, I am guessing, gamer world-building jargon. Watch to the end:

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant:

TH writes: “I’m a big fan of fairy lights and love this little garden of white roses setting off the lit tree. I wanted the image dark enough to show off the lights, but light enough to see the roses.”

* * *

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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. eg

    “Chaotic Neutral” is one of the “alignments” from the old Dungeons and Dragons world.

    I have no idea whether or not “alignment” exists in more current versions.

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      Not sure about the new versions either, but I played D&D a lot in the late 70s/early 80’s, and i would say that those 2 shoplifters were more chaotic good, not chaotic neutral.

      if chaotic evil, they would have helped themselves to some of the till — and more chips — after the armed robber blew away the clerk.

      If chaotic neutral, they would have just said….whoa, lets hang back and see how this develops, we may still get our chips buddy!

      Chaotic good, well – despite needing to eat (carbs/refined sugars) and needing the chaos to get their fix, they *did* get involved once the orc came in, and took risks that most people wouldn’t in order to keep the convenience store world’s karma balanced….

    2. Massinissa

      I think they may have been removed in 4th edition or something, but I can confirm all of them are in the current 5th edition.

      1. George Phillies

        America’s current alignment is chaotic lawful.

        Yes, I did play the game when it first came out, and I counted its two creators, may they rest in peace, as among my friends.

        Also, as noted in Peterson’s wonderful Playing at the World, I am the fellow who first pointed out that D&D was not just a set of miniatures rules, it was a new branch of the wargaming hobby.

          1. todde

            chaotic lawful doesn’t exist anyway.

            since the guy posting wrote books on gaming he is trying to tell us something.

  2. Carolinian

    To your recital of false charges add the “rape” case against Julian Assange which the first prosecutor declined to pursue and which the second doggedly pursued over years despite Assange’s offer to answer all questions if given a guarantee of no extradition to the US (refused by Sweden). Meanwhile Assange has spent years in Ecuador embassy jail and has been called a political prisoner by an international body.

    Just as in the Woody Allen case, accusing someone of a sex offense is a way of making them toxic even if authorities say there’s no evidence for a prosecution (as was true in Allen’s case).

    The above doesn’t say anything about the current dispute except that accusations should not be automatically believed just because the accuser seems sympathetic. Accusers can have hidden motives.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      Very true.
      But in Kavanaugh’s case, he was asked repeatedly if he would call for an FBI investigation to get his name cleared. He refused to agree. And he would not take a lie detector test. That doesn’t prove he is guilty, but makes him suspicious in my book. Doctor Ford did a lie detector test and called for an FBI investigation.

      Regardless of whether or not he tried to rape her, I don’t want another Neoliberal on SCOTUS. So his guilt is almost a moot point to me.

      1. Gary

        Thanks to L. Moss for being honest. The elephant in this room is that, despite all the good talk about the court’s independance, and neutral, unbiased justices, nobody REALLY wants that. Instead, all sides openly declare their support or opposition to candidates based on whether it will produce rulings they favor. Maybe it was always so, but can we at least face up to it?

      2. sierra7

        As has been repeated many times this is/was not a courtroom; it was a job interview. As a “not-Dem or Rep” I wouldn’t hire Judge K. for cleaning out my stables. Just saying.

        1. Carey

          After watching bits of Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford at the hearings, then the
          SNL skit, which was not funny to me, my thought was “this is what an exhausted culture looks like”. OTOH I had similar thoughts early in the
          Ronnie Ray-gun years, so…

        2. jonhoops

          Exactly, this guy couldn’t even do his job of acting like an impartial candidate. I wouldn’t even consider him eligible for a job at McDonalds after that unhinged performance. But I guess standards are different in elite GOP circles.

          1. witters

            Right, you got to a good job at the “job of acting like an impartial candidate.” This is a low bar, and sort of misses the point of having one in the first place.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > not a courtroom; it was a job interview

          Well, it’s certainly an odd job interview, then. One would think that if you’re interviewing a judge for a job, your focus would be on his work as a judge, i.e. his jurisprudence? But n-o-o-o-o-o.

          Quoting William Gibson once more:

          “Fortunately,” he said, “it isn’t about who’s an assh*le. If it were, our work would never be done.”

          And, putting aside Kavanaugh’s florid lying in his own testimony, that’s what we have. Now, I suppose one is entitled to use that standard for hires, but it seems weak, to me.

    2. fresno dan

      October 1, 2018 at 2:20 pm


      After that final hearing, at which Mark Weiner was sentenced to eight years in prison for giving a young woman a ride home, Lunsford explained why none of the new evidence mattered: “I interviewed the victim twice, and I believed her.”

      And perhaps that’s the problem right there: Facing a mountain of evidence that showed there was no way the alleged victim could be telling the truth, the prosecutor believed her, then believed her, and then believed her some more.
      “The above doesn’t say anything about the current dispute except that accusations should not be automatically believed just because the accuser seems sympathetic on your side.”

      It strikes me that there is an analogous circumstance going on here. The investigation into Trump and Russia was premised on the idea of the sterling character and honor of the FISA court, FBI, and justice officials acting with perfect impartiality …and Trump and anyone associated with him acting in the most evil and treasonous manner imaginable. Time will tell, but it is preposterous that Russia had more influence on the US election than Israel, and as for a conspiracy….well, Lenin said capitalists would sell the rope to communists with which the communists would hang the capitalists….so I’m thinking NYT, WP, CNN, and MSNBC covered Trump non-stop during the 2016 election AT THE DIRECTION OF THE KREMLIN….so, the media are the conspiracy responsible for Trump….
      One doesn’t know where an investigation will go – its a long time till Friday….

    3. R

      My understanding of the Assange ‘rape’ allegation is that the charges were not brought falsely – but that ‘rape’ is a poor translation of the sweedish law he was charged under – ‘surprise sex’ is another awkward but more direct transition.

      He had slept with two different women separately at a conference, and during these consensual encounters several things happened – a condom broke, and he also had unprotected sex with one woman as they woke up.

      Neither considered the incident ‘rape’ at the time, but the two women happened to meet, and got concerned about STDs – they asked Assange to get an STD check, he refused, and this is when they decided to go to the cops.

      Calling it ‘rape’ was always a bit sensational – the fact that they were able to press charges at all was largely due to Sweden having a lot of protections for women around all sorts of potentially unwanted outcomes of intercourse – but it’s also wrong to say it was a false allegation.

      What the women reported was accurate, douchey behaviour by Assange which happened to be illegal in Sweden.

      This was how the story was explained to me by someone with personal connections to everyone involved (including Assange!).

      1. Carolinian

        Thanks for your comment. I was writing from memory but here’s what Wikipedia has to say.

        Assange visited Sweden in August 2010. During his visit, he became the subject of sexual assault allegations from two women with whom he had sex. He was questioned, the case was initially closed, and he was told he could leave the country. In November 2010, however, the case was re-opened by a special prosecutor who said that she wanted to question Assange over two counts of sexual molestation, one count of unlawful coercion and one count of “lesser-degree rape” (mindre grov våldtäkt). Assange denied the allegations and said he was happy to face questions in Britain

        So Sweden was calling it “lesser degree rape” which typically gets translated in news reports as just “rape.” And there have been many questions and suspicions about the prosecutor who reopened the case and the motives of the Swedish government which had connections at the time to figures such as Karl Rove. As I say Assange had said he would go to Sweden and answer the charges if there was a guarantee of no extradition to the US where sealed espionage charges were suspected.


        1. pretzelattack

          yep, and i think that the two women wanted to withdraw the charges. plus the powers that be in several countries, including the glorious superpower, had it in for assange. here, only half of the powers sort of have it in for kavanaugh (if trump doesn’t withdraw the nomination, i think the dems will find a way to cave in, so “sort of”.)

    4. clarky90

      Re; “the amalgamation #MeToo, the #Resistance, and the Democrat Party”

      I see a “monetization” of almost everything that I had thought was good. I was heartened by the #MeToo movement- for all of our sakes, and particularly for my female descendants.

      Nothing, can be left to it’s simple, non-complex self. But rather, must be turned into a “derivative” of some sort, and then sliced and diced by “quants”, in some inexplicable (to me) way. Ultimately, the Good (like #MeToo, Occupy, Truth, The Commons) becomes carrion. “The Helpful Good” is transformed into money and power, via Widdershins (dark magik).

      This is not natural entropy, but rather the work of a clever, parasitic POV, hell-bent on rotting “Our Democracy”. Why would they?…..It is beyond my understanding. It leads only to chaos and ruin….benefiting nobody. The safe havens are long gone.

  3. ACF

    re “chaotic neutral”

    I played D&D in the 80s, and characters could good, neutral or evil, and that nature could be expressed as lawful, neutral or chaotic. My favorite character was a lawful neutral cleric, which as I played it meant I had to follow the rules/honor deals etc., even if it meant the evil side won, like when my party succeeded in our mission to get a powerful magic sword and when turning it over to the person who had hired us to get it, discovered he was evil, which put me in conflict with others in my party. It was fun to play characters that in life would be outside the comfort zone.

    In that rubric, two shoplifters spontaneously stopping an armed robbery is certainly neutral–whether it’s truly chaotic neutral or not I can’t say. But chaotic certainly feels apt just given the visuals.

    1. Roger Smith

      Those two were just ahead of the curve, accepting their reward for a crime they were anticipating stopping.

    2. Fiery Hunt

      C’mon…It’s gotta be fake.
      Totally staged.

      If it’s unbelievable, don’t believe it.

      1. Lee

        My suspicion as well. But nicely done— a quick, kinetic morality tale of greater and lesser degrees of social violation with a surprising redemptive shift at the end where the non-violent thieves turn on the violent one in favor of the person from whom they were both stealing. I just watched one of the Maigret series that took an hour and a half to tell much the same tale. Not that I’m complaining. Nobody does atmospherics like the French, even if when they are technically Belgian. Apologies to anyone whose sense of national identity I offended.

    1. Carey

      A decent article, I thought. I joined a credit union awhile back and it’s been good (bye bye WaMu!). Looking for other ways to support the co-op idea.

      The question of why anyone other than those who do the work should be the owners
      seems like a good one.

  4. DonCoyote

    The video is, apparently, fake: at least according to Gizmodo reporting on it eight months ago, it’s a promo for a web series.

    As for Chaotic Neutral (part of the Dungeons & Dragons alignment system): “A chaotic neutral character is an individualist who follows their own heart and generally shirks rules and traditions. Although chaotic neutral characters promote the ideals of freedom, it is their own freedom that comes first; good and evil come second to their need to be free.” I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to give us famous CN figures…

  5. Knifecatcher

    “Chaotic Neutral” is Dungeons and Dragons jargon. A character has an alignment along two axes – Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic and Good, Neutral, and Evil.

    So a Lawful Good character would be someone like Dudley Doright. Chaotic Evil might be the Joker in Batman – wants to watch the world burn, and see people suffer. Lawful Evil is basically my homeowner’s association board.

    Chaotic Neutral is pretty much an anarchist – ripping off the convenience store right up until the dude starts robbing it, then tackling the robber because F that guy, then taking off with the goods once the robber has been subdued.

    1. Lee

      What about chaotic positive? Might an example of this be the mealtime rush at a well functioning restaurant? This being particularly true in the kitchen, however calm and orderly service in the dining room may appear.

  6. Polar Donkey

    I saw a similarly decked out jeep driving around Memphis a few weeks ago. Country is falling apart with nuts like these acting like they just drove off the set of Rat Patrol. Free speech my ass.

    1. Edward E

      Way up here I need one equipped with night vision & LWTS etc just to keep the wild hogs in check… wonder if Bill Kristol is wise to snipe hunting? I’d surely guide him on a hawg buster ?

    2. rd

      Here is how the US Constitution defines “the Militia”. my guess is these “militias” would freak if they actually understood how regulated they are by the states, congress, and the President under the constitution. I don’t think the founding fathers envisioned a bunch of wannabe soldiers forming their own quasi-military organizations outside the purvue of Congress and the states. According to the Constitution, the militia is supposed to be organized under the rules set by Congress.:

      Congressional Powers regarding the Militia:

      15. To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

      16: To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

      Presidential Powers regarding the Militia:

      The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States;

      Second amendment:
      A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

      Fifth Amendment:
      No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger;

      1. Wukchumni

        The church/militia in town split for friendlier climes in Coeur d’alene a few years ago, and locals like to say, Idaho’s gain is our gain.

        How many houses of worship are you aware of that have a target shooting range on the grounds?

        (from 2012)

        A California church with longstanding ties to far-right extremists and a militia of its own is preparing for war.

        In a 22-acre compound at the southern edge of Sequoia National Park in California, a secretive cohort of militant Christian fundamentalists is preparing for war. One of the men helping train the flock in the art of combat, a former Marine named Steve Klein, believes that California is riddled with Muslim Brotherhood sleeper cells “who are awaiting the trigger date and will begin randomly killing as many of us as they can.”

        “I know I’m getting prepared to shoot back,” Klein says.

        At the head of the Church at Kaweah is Pastor Warren Mark Campbell, who sees yet another enemy on the horizon: the “New World Order,” that chimera of the conspiracists who populate the resurgent, antigovernment “Patriot” movement.

        The tiny church has been well outside the mainstream since the early 1990s, when founding pastor Warren Lee Campbell (father of the current pastor) bought into the notion that churches should shun all government regulation and answer solely to God. Since then, the church has become increasingly radical, ramping up its paramilitary activities and forging alliances with an array of figures revered on the radical right — among them, militia and Patriot leaders, white supremacists, neo-Confederates, border vigilantes and Christian Reconstructionists, whose goal is to turn America into a theocracy based on the Old Testament. In the meantime, the church’s militia has gone from patrolling the banks of the Kaweah River to conducting joint exercises with Minuteman groups along the Mexican border.

        Ten years ago, the church’s militia prowled the banks of the Kaweah River as the North Fork River Patrol, mainly looking out for gangs. Under Johnson’s leadership, it has since trained with other “constitutional militias” along the Arizona-Mexico border and invited likeminded paramilitary groups to conduct joint trainings.


        The loose idea was, the world was going to fall apart, and their flock of 50-60 were going to call the shots around here in the aftermath, despite the other 1900 people in town pretty much in agreement, that they were full-on nutters.

      2. ObjectiveFunction

        I don’t think the founding fathers envisioned a bunch of wannabe soldiers forming their own quasi-military organizations outside the purvue of Congress and the states.

        Au contraire, that was the default assumption. You are applying 19-20th century notions of ‘well ordered militia’ to 18th century thinkers.

        After a century plus of remote frontier settlements where the main danger was Indian attack (justified or not), self-trained and equipped community defense forces were essential. As were ad hoc posses comitatus, formed to pursue and render rough justice on criminals, witches, runaways etc.

        In more settled areas those local minutemen also acted as a pool of reservists, scouts and skirmishers attached to regiments which drilled in conventional European style tactics (massed musketry), once it became necessary to fight in that way.

        And once the Founders saw the carnage wrought by the French revolutionary levees en masse, which then proceeded to elevate proto-totalitarian Napoleon to power, it would only have reconfirmed them in their belief that the only bulwark of liberty was well-armed, decentralized and stubborn citizen soldiers.

        (Please save your breath: I am not advocating this model for the present day)

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          I think you’re both right.
          analogous to a fire brigade(“quick! everybody grab a bucket!”)
          But there were no paved roads, nor telephones.
          Local dire circumstances required local quick response.
          it’s still sort of that way way out here where I live(no longer indian attack, but wild fire and coyotes and loose cattle and cancer diagnoses), but in most places, not.
          The folks Wukichummi speaks of are seceding from modernity in a rather radical way, and their rhetoric says a lot about their psychology. We have some folks like that out here…just not near as vocal and visible, nor as organised.
          As I repeatedly tell my Liberal Dem friends…you can’t force people to enter modernity(as you define it)…things like racism and homophobia and misogyny must change from within(behaviour towards others can, however, be policed).
          So long as such backwardsness doesn’t negatively affect others, it must be none of our business…if we would like to be consistent, and all.
          I’m all for the Benedict Option…like the Amish..or the Free State Project…or it’s weird analog, “Christian Exodus”. Backwards people are people, too…and should be tolerated to withdraw from the world, within certain broad limits.

  7. anon

    “Second, as far as Kavanaugh goes, it seems clear to me that he flat-out committed perjury when he said he never blacked out,”

    Can you please state any factual evidence that he blacked out? A statement from a former classmate who drank with him claiming the “possibility”? Stumbling drunk is not blacked-out. Slurring words is not blacked out. Getting drunk and going home and sleeping it off is not necessarily the same as blacked-out. What exactly has been said or presented as evidence that reaches the legal standard for perjury in a court of law, not in the court of public opinion?

    1. Harold

      Maybe it would have been better if instead of asking “do you ever experience blackouts [i.e., “forget everything“?] Kavanaugh had been asked, “Do you sometimes forget something you did while drinking/ drunk?” A person could have a “mental reservation” while answering, if he or she can reassure himself that he doesn’t forget everything because he usually at least remembers something

      To my mind this “Jesuitical” justification of lying, in terms of its propensity for being abused (through “the slippery slope,” if nothing else), is one of the worst things that can be laid at the feet of the Jesuits, who otherwise have a pretty good record, historically speaking, at least as far as I can tell. No one can say they never forget anything, especially things that happen while they are, ahem, abusing substances.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Will this response work: “Lots of people forget lots of times, even when they’re sober like you and me now. Sorry, I forget, but are you asking me if people forget?”

      1. anon

        Or it was an inside joke amongst a small circle of teenage friends that arose when one passed gas while drinking. We will see what his closest friends from HS say.

        1. JTMcPhee

          When I was in the Army, ‘66-69, “boofoo-ing” was an indirect way of talking about male-on-male anal intercourse. And as I recall it in high school, ‘60-64, a boof (slang for “bouffant,” I believe) was a kind of big-hair hairdo.

          1. Jeff W

            Yes. People can bend over backwards to come up with all sorts of theories of what might be the case but it’s hardly difficult to figure out what most likely is the case here—that Kavanaugh and his friends were using these references —to “boofing,” “the devil’s triangle” and “Renate Alumni”—in a way that a typical person would understand them. (The FBI could easily check with Kavanaugh’s classmates regarding what they meant by those phrases but it’s a bit out of the scope of their investigation, deliberately.)

    2. ian

      Yes, Dr.Ford took a lie detector test, but do you think we would ever have heard about it if she had failed it?

  8. Roger Smith

    Apple: I am kind of glad to see this issue with the new phones. First they remove the auxiliary input, then they release a way over priced phone that under performs (go figure!), then they release a plethora of over priced phones ranging from, I guess this isn’t as bad to still outrageously expensive, oversaturating their product line with confusing choices. NOW the phones don’t even charge. Nicely done Apple. I’d like to think this is a little bit of Karma, but why not include all manufacturers and the service providers they work in tandem with to promote this needless price gouging and consumption? I want to see Tim Cook and the Samsung head dropped into a Cobalt mine.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      I hate dragging cables around, so I tend to stock up so I can have one within reach wherever. I rarely purchase them from Apple, and I have only ever had one instance where I had to mark which side of the plug needed to be up to charge with that particular cable. So, this could be something as simple as Apple shipping lousy cables.

      I’ve also had the problem with the sleeping phone not charging; I have a 6-Plus. I haven’t had it in a while, though, and so far not with iOS 12, which makes me think what’s happening with the new ones is going to end up being a hardware problem.

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          Unless, as I said, it’s just lousy cables. Will be interesting to see how it turns out. And the narrator did say Apple originally responded by giving new phones, one presumes so they had the non-working ones to explore.

  9. Samuel Conner

    Regarding the relative believability of Ford versus Kavanaugh, I was struck by Nathan Robinson’s observation (in his piece linked 9-30) that PRIOR to K presenting his meticulous, and supposedly exculpatory, calendar for 1982, Ford had named a number of males who she says were present at the small gathering at which she says she was assaulted. Three of these names are listed in Kavanaugh’s calendar, in the July 1 entry for a midweek evening party.

    My guess is that Ford was at that gathering and the other things she says happened there did happen.

    1. a different chris

      Yeah that… that was pretty breathtaking actually. And again, Kavanaugh is such an idiot that he didn’t even seem to realize it, so the idiocy itself is disqualifying.

      You really learn things about people when they are, justly or not, cornered. He came of very badly, far from what you would expect from the level of somebody that is paraded around as capable to make life-or-death decisions for us all.

      1. Roger Smith

        See, I am not so sure about that. In being cornered, the hunters are trying to illicit a certain response out of him, but at the same time, if he doesn’t respond in just the right way, that too is supposed evidence of his guilt. If he remained completely calm and inanimate, that could be more of a case against him for the hunters. It is lose-lose and part of the of the strategy of cornering with vague, identity politic, partisan theater. “Oh he was so calm about the abuse, he doesn’t even care!” vs. “Oh man he went off the rails! He is unfit for SCOTUS!”. Even the comparisons between he and Ford show this. “Oh she was poised and calm so she is therefore believable”. Um…. why? Keep in mind this guy is defending potentially his entire career and life up there, not just a promotion. How would any of us act when going up against the ghost of McCarthy? I imagine that like a lot of people, he did dabble in college frat life and all the stupid, moronic crap that goes along with it. He may not have actually committed crimes, but maybe in retrospect he is not to proud of the whole lifestyle in general. However, he can’t admit to that in this environment, but it might add more of an edge to his defensive of his character. I wouldn’t take to heart much of anything said in this hyper-partisan, melodramatic setting.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Like a good, controversial work of art (a painting, a film, etc), it makes us spectating people argue our entrenched positions.

          Thus, the Zen saying, when you locate the Moon (symbol for enlightenment), using a pointing finger, the latter is no longer needed.

          Here, we can forget Judge K, who brings us to where we are now, and we can just discuss among ourselves and enlighten each other, about the raging moon or moons.

      2. anonymous

        The party also was attended by “Squi”, who apparently Dr Ford was seeing some at the time, and held at Timmy’s home which was about 10 miles from Ford’s club, not one. I guess for some though that is enough of a “smoking gun.”

        1. JTMcPhee

          anonymouse squeaks again. In lawyer talk, Kavanaugh appears to have been pretty well impeached, and now the defense counsels’ more subtle partners are trying to rehabilitate him. “Reasonable doubt” ought not to be the standard for determining the fitness of a person to wield the power that a Supreme Court Justice holds.

          One might observe that the “re” is negatory— it does not appear that Kav was ever “habilitated” in the first instance. A pox on entitled frat rats, especially the willing servants of oligarchy and Empire. At least John “Bluto” Blutarsky pricked the bubbles of the Elites, before going on to become a US Senator… https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_House

      3. Jeff W

        And again, Kavanaugh is such an idiot that he didn’t even seem to realize it, so the idiocy itself is disqualifying.

        Well, Nathan Robinson makes the point that Kavanaugh was careful to limit the gatherings that he talked about to the weekends—and that particular gathering was on a Thursday, so Robinson thinks Kavanaugh was trying get “people to avoid scrutinizing weekdays”—in other words, he (now) realizes something, whether he did before or not. Also, Rachel Mitchell, the sex crimes prospector, was pulled just at the moment she “touched the stove,” as Chris Hayes put it, right when she started asking about that July 1 gathering. So it seems that Kavanaugh and the GOP senators would rather the focus be on something other than that particular day of July in 1982.

        All that said, the issue here is not what happened, if anything, that day in 1982. It’s Brett Kavanaugh’s fitness for being on the Supreme Court. (We’re trying to ascertain the former only insofar as it pertains to the latter.) Everything about his testimony this past week in terms of his candor and temperament says to me—unequivocally—that he is not.

    2. Bridget

      That gathering was at “Timmy’s” house. Timmy is Timothy Gaudette, and his house was not near the Columbia Country Club, nor was it between the country club and Blasey Ford’s house. It was 10 miles away in Rockville, MD. So, if you believe Ford’s accounts of where the party took place, it could not have been at Timmy’s on July 1.

      Kavanaugh did not graduate from the top law school in the country with grades high enough to obtain a prestigious judicial clerkship by being stupid. He knew exactly what was in that calendar before he turned it over and he knew exactly what was in the July 1 entry and he knew Timmy’s house was out of the danger zone. I happen to believe that he did not commit the assault as alleged by Blasey Ford, but I am sure he would never have turned over that calendar if he thought for one minute that it contained anything that would corroborate her testimony.

      1. Jeff W

        …I am sure he would never have turned over that calendar if he thought for one minute that it contained anything that would corroborate her testimony.

        I’m sure of that too—unfortunately. All of Kavanaugh testimony, the words and the demeanor, is self-serving in the extreme—to such degree that that is persuasive, to me, that he is not being forthcoming in the least with the commuttee. That, in itself, gives rise to an appearance of impropriety which Kavanaugh is, as a sitting federal judge, ethically obligated to uphold

        I would hope that, as a sitting federal judge, being nominated for the highest court in the land, he would be offering evidence that would help the committee to establish the truth of the matter, rather than assessing whether it tends to corroborate the testimony of an adverse witness and witholding it if it does not.. It would bolster his credibility, not diminish it. If he did not do what is alleged, he’d give his side of the events. At least he’d be acting with candor—as judicial officers are supposed to—rather than concealing something that would be highly relevant to the hearing. It’s too bad that we have, trying for the position of the Supreme Court, someone whom we both think would do otherwise.

        1. Bridget

          How nice for him that his calendar, in which he meticulously recorded how he spent each day of the summer of 1982. contained nothing to corroborate Blasey Ford’s accusations.

          As opposed to Blasey Ford, who has refused to produce her therapist’s notes, which are the earliest known memoranda of her allegations and which, while far from contemporaneous, at least have the advantage of having been recorded before the sh**show.

    3. ChrisPacific

      Yes, that was the part that struck me as well. There’s no need to go into detail on what the definition of “blacked out” is. He simply flat out lied, multiple times. More precisely, he said multiple things that were contradicted by evidence that HE presented at the hearing, which is what laypeople generally refer to as ‘lying’.

      Whether he knew the things he said weren’t true or whether, like Trump, he lives in a world sufficiently disconnected from facts and evidence that ‘truth’ is simply the thing that holds emotional resonance for him and fits his world view, I’m not sure (given his emotional state during the testimony, I suspect the latter). Either one is a fatal flaw in a judge, much less a Supreme Court judge.

      1. JTMcPhee

        “I did not have sex with that woman.”

        “That depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is.”

        “I am not a crook.”


  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    “The #Resistance network instantly amplified Ford’s claim to the national level stigmergically[1] signalling to the rest of the network.”

    It rivals the ‘instantly’ produced list of some 50 or 60 female (not sure about male…can’t recall just now…short term memory issue?) character witnesses.

    The question is, which ‘instantly’ was faster.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Third, I’ve expressed my revulsion at the sexual mores of Kavanaugh’s male “social circle” (and the 80s generally; see Vox’s excellent article on 16 Candles), and the process of elite formation therein, so I don’t need to do that again.


    We are looking at the film, 16 Candles, and reflecting on the 80s generally.

    What will future (amateur and otherwise) historians see when they view our current movies? Still as bad as the 80’s in this subject area? Worse? Better?

    I was watching a French TV movie from a series adopted from Agatha Christie’s mysteries. The first episode was, made around 2012, called Sparkling Cyanide and in the first 6 or 7 minutes, I saw a few acts that were deserving of being condemned, in connection with this current topic of discussion.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Did you ever see “Revenge of the Nerds”? The “heroes” are pretty effing vile.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Many films like that.

        Comedies can potentially be even more offensive, especially when those who object are called out as being ‘too uptight’ or ‘too serious.’

        And in way too many popular circles, not being humorous means the end of the world.

  12. DJG

    But but but Lambert:

    A recent poll shows Pritzker leading incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner by 17 points.

    So the reason that Pritzker can invite Clinton is that JB is in control. He’s pretending that she is still relevant, which she will pay back some time. Maybe she can get him tickets to a Joan Baez concert.

    If my neighborhood is any indication, Clinton is mildly to severely toxic. Maybe she can be helpful in getting local hacks like Heather Steans and Bridget Gainer to vote, but they already vote too often. But most people in Chicago have moved on–after all, we have to save Jackson Park from Obama and his grand plans for Restaurant and Center.

    And with Rahm, spawn of Bill and Hill, now gone, she’s even more irrelevant than ever. The business about being born is Illinois has never mattered all that much to her.

    Long story short, and I hesitate to say it: The Regular Democrats are trying to keep her viable.

    Yes, you just saw me wince.

  13. flora

    re: K and comment “Insanely, Democrats have painted themselves into the corner that if a Supreme Court nominee has the credentials, he should be on the bench; they simply can’t reject a candidate because of his jurisprudence, ”

    And this is much like the desire by business leaders and others for computer AI to make all the decisions, to take the human dimension out of the questions – beyond dotting all the “i”‘s and crossing all the “t”s; the desire to escape the pain of being human and human doubt while maintaining the illusion of superior ability or intelligence and fitness for the positions they hold. Going-along-to-get-along via algorithm – or fancy 8-Ball with carefully selected “answers”- to confirm one’s actions/decisions as right.

    “In everyone there is some willingness to merge with the anonymous crowd and to flow comfortably along with it down the river of pseudo-life. This is much more than a simple conflict between two identities. It is something far worse: it is a challenge to the very notion of identity itself.”
    ― Václav Havel, The Power of the Powerless

    1. Earl Erland

      Almost 30 years ago I cut the chord. I did not do it for deep reason. One night my teevee went dark. It was after a long day and I do not remember what I was watching, well, I think it was Ted Koppell interviewing an obscure Israeli/United States politician named Netanyhu. The teevee went blank. Black? Checked all cables. Still Black. Late night and off to start another idea. A couple of days later I get a notice from the original Spectrum Cable that my teevee had been cancelled. Well, Lisa had the cable in her name and made a decision to finish a doctorate. So, fine, I go to the local headquarters, stand in line and am told it takes 25 to reconnent. I decline. Im not sure how much Spectrum lost. Someone else can do cost numbers. 30 years later still waiting for a society that says no. Plenty of local theater and talent. For example, the Carter family.

    2. knowbuddhau

      Fancy 8-Ball with carefully selected “answers” – winner!

      OTOH, that VH quote is balderdash. We oscillate between subjective and objective self-awareness all the time. Is he saying, when we completely lose track of time and know as best we can eternity, that’s a bad thing, this challenging the very notion of identity itself?

      That sounds like the exaggerated, chronic cramp of consciousness so typical of the Western mind, lionizing, as it does, ego über alles, that locks itself onto one pattern among the countless possible, calls it its identity, and feels the rest of existence is out to get it.

      We can both know ourselves as our selves, and forget ourselves, no problem.

    3. knowbuddhau

      OTOH, there is the Jungian concept of individuation; becoming one’s own unique, unprecedented, original, clear, consonant, integral self. VH perhaps refers to its negative, which we see only too much of these days: failing to distinguish one’s self from the crowd, always “going along to get along,” never offering your dissent, just blaming the System or the Man or Religion or what have you, thereby inducing a spurious sense of superiority even as one mouths the latest absurdities to prove one’s worthiness.

      What do sunglasses, a Klansman’s hood, and representing a group all impart? A bit of disindividuation. A shielding from accountability. Can be useful, as in camouflage, or an anonymous source. Also implicated in baiting crowd episodes, where people taunt others to jump. Depends on how you use it.

      VH’s negative connotation, I think, is directed at those, lacking their own center, never dare set foot outside the Pale. Who never make their own creative contribution, never come onto focus as their own self. All those devoted to either side of the R3 psyop, or Trump’s MAGA con, or whatever the hell that Supreme Court farce has become. Passengers on the ride of their lives, but it doesn’t stop them complaining.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        Jung is underrated. Prolly on purpose.
        Bernays is our patron psychologist.
        It takes a lot of work(and luck) to become one’s own person…and there’s a lot of civilisational machinery, both natural and contrived, working against such efforts.
        In his exegesis on the Kavenaugh Follies, Lambert mentions Moral Panic/Satanic Ritual Abuse…I’ve been thinking about that very thing, here lately, regarding this sh^^show.
        Long ago, I witnessed it first hand:

        Now, whenever I see sports fans, fall-on-the-floor church people, or political rallies(trump or Clinton), I think about that…how readily ordinary people submerge themselves into a group/hive/blob.
        Reckon Erich Fromm is useful, here, too…”Escape from Freedom”.
        Because Individuation is scary…one is always uncertain, and uncertainty is the most terrifying thing in the world.
        Look up, into that empty sky…all that terrifying vastyness…and how small and insignificant you are…simply intolerable…
        so we merge with the Warm Herd, hide ourselves within it, and follow it along wherever it leads.

  14. DJG

    Observations on the Kavanaugh debate: Is he a lout or is he a rightwing bottom-feeding lout?

    I agree with Lambert, although I would like to expand on a few things:
    –The reason for the Morality Play of the Bourgeoisie is that the behavior of both the men and the women in the bourgeoisie tends to be self-serving and louche. Do I believe that he raped her? I believe that he did something wrong–but that something was considered minor by his parents, his friends, and his colleagues. So much for meritocracy.
    –The Democrats had to stage this Morality Play of the Bourgeoisie because they couldn’t keep their own members in line. They also think that they can peel of a few women senators–just as Obama spent months pretending that he could negotiate with Susan Collins over Obamacare. And the Democrats are the smart party, dear peepses!
    –The Supreme Court of the United States is highly political. So let’s stop pretending that this exercise is to ensure justice. Any court that brought you Janus, Dred Scott, Plessy, the Japanese internment cases, and the series of cases that invalidated the first New Deal is just plain evil. It is time to mistrust its every maneuver–yet we all know that RBG is the edgiest thing since sliced bread. Oh, and Bush v. Gore.

    If anything, the question “That’s a hell of an act. What do you call it?” applies to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    And meanwhile, does anyone know what happened in the Article I branch of government, the House? I hear that the Patriot Act was made even worse and that there’s another disastrous tax bill in the works…

      1. Daryl

        The most interesting thing to me here is that people believe these tax cuts benefit the rich and corporations by a large margin.

        Presumably these ingrates are not fully appreciating the tens of dollars they got from the previous round of tax cuts.

    1. allan

      The Charlotte Observer weighs in as well:

      In North Carolina, the embodiment of why women stay silent about sexual assault

      The head of the North Carolina Republican Party calls one of Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers “a criminal” who “should go to prison.” And we wonder why women are hesitant to report sexual assault?

      Dallas Woodhouse, the executive director of the North Carolina GOP, said of Julie Swetnick’s claims: “These things not only did not happen, they are impossible. So she needs to be prosecuted…”

      How many women decide to remain in hiding when they hear comments like that? Republicans, from President Trump on down, have questioned why Kavanaugh’s accusers stayed quiet about the Supreme Court nominee for so long. But with his tweets about Swetnick on Sunday, Woodhouse himself becomes the living embodiment of why a woman might keep her secret hell to herself. …

  15. PKMKII

    A significant difference between Emmett Till and the Central Park Five, and Kavanaugh, racial aspects aside, is Kavanaugh is not on trial. It’s a job interview, and due process does not apply to a job interview. Kavanaugh isn’t going to go to jail if he isn’t picked for the Supreme Court (we’re well past any statue of limitations), he gets to go back to his cushy job as a federal judge. Even if the allegations are false, there’s no outcome here in which Kavanaugh’s life is “ruined.”

    There’s another problem with the #MeToo response here, other than the ones listed. Okay, great, it whipped up $700K for Ford’s legal and other costs. Is the “movement” going to deliver that kind of cash for a waitress when she sues her boss for slapping her behind one too many times? It strikes me as having the same problem as GoFundMe for healthcare costs, the resources aren’t going where it’s most needed, it’s going where the publicity will be greatest.

    1. Jeff W

      It’s a job interview, and due process does not apply to a job interview.

      It’s a job interview, yes, as opposed to a trial so the burden is on Kavanaugh, but calling this a job interview understimates the very high standards that a nominee ideally has to meet (whether or not actual nominees do) and Kavanaugh in particular as a sitting federal judge. He can—and should—be assessed on candor, temperament, probity and the avoidance of impropriety—those things are essential parts of what the process is supposed to be about. Most job interviews don’t have such a high threshold. And most don’t involve lifetime jobs that give one the power to make decisions affecting all Americans and, also, non-Americans as well. The burden, again, unlike in a trial, on the nominee and the threshold, unlike a standard job interview, should be much higher.

  16. Mark Gisleson

    Thank you for the word ‘forrader’ which I had never seen before and, if I’ve heard it in speech, I heard it as ‘forwarder.’ But I’m thinking ‘freight forrader’ would be hypercorrect?

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Sir Saul Enderby to George Smiley, in Le Carre’s finest novel (imho) ‘The Honourable Schoolboy’.

      Would give a left [family blog] to have seen Alec Guinness in a BBC adaptation of that one (too expensive, alas).

      Belgravia Cockney, thought Gilliam. The final stage of linguistic collapse.

  17. Unna

    I’m so burnt out on this Ford – K epic. I can’t wait for the return of Russia, Putin, nukes, and the end of the world as the real thing to talk about. But in the meanwhile, has everyone read Prosecutor Mitchell’s memo to the senate committee? It’s available, via Zerohedge on Scribid and it’s quite the read. I’ll say no more.

      1. Unna

        Thanks Carey. This is great. Furtwängler is a kind of hero of mine. He was criticized for not leaving Germany but he stayed out of a sense of duty to German art against the barbarians. He got into 3 different shouting matches with Hitler no less about music and why Furtwängler had refused to join the Nazi party. In the final months of the war he was tipped off that the Gestapo would be there in a few days to arrest him and so he escaped to Switzerland. His wartime performances are considered edgy angry idiosyncratic and awesome.

        And as they say, one good turn deserves another. I posted this on Saturday as a “prayer” for Sunday Evening Twilight. Altogether a different mood from the Beethoven. Check out the soaring soprano voice. Alegri’s Miserere Mei: https://hooktube.com/watch?v=IX1zicNRLmY

        1. Carey

          Thanks for the link, and I’ll listen to the Allegri later this evening. It’s a piece
          I don’t know, but only know of, and I do like to hear others’ recs of music.
          I am someone who’s fascinated by WF, who at his best went way beyond
          mere “music”, at least to me. They don’t make ’em like that anymore!

  18. flora

    re: Marketing: “The “Agency Of Robots” Behind Burger King’s Latest Ad Campaign”

    Those ads are hilarious! If you have to suffer with Skype-for-Business Skype-phones’ voicemail translations emailed to your account, those translations are remarkably like this Burger King spoof. (And, if you have to live with Skype-for-Business phones you have my sympathy. ) The AI translations of voicemail are an endless source of amusement. Incomprehensible and funny.

  19. Unna

    English Churches? Nothing beats New England churches for both simple beauty and vampire chic. And I wonder why it is that this setting is the only one that rivals Catholic churches and Catholic priests in the vampire entertainment realm. S. King’s, Salem’s Lot, had a Catholic priest even though it was situated in Protestant Northern New England. And the movie Return to Salem’s Lot just dispenses with the Catholics and goes full on Northeast Vermont. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Nn2iZKR1XY

  20. Earl Erland

    Lambert: 700k to fund what has been competent advice. Compare this to the maw of DC attorneys who have rallied behind Kavanaugh at a rate only Allah knows. 5 figure hourly? Plus, all of the legal talent/assasins behind the Chosen 20 even if on staff should, in any economix analysis should get a market rate number in your reckoning. I think when John Cash sang hurt, at the end of his life, he had spent significant time with the Carters. You and Yves and most of your audience understand how to price.

  21. allan

    Saudi economist who criticized Aramco IPO charged with terrorism: activists [Reuters]

    Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor has charged a man, identified by activists as a prominent economist who once criticized plans to float shares of Saudi Aramco, with joining a terrorist organization and meeting with foreign diplomats.

    Local media, including Arabic-language newspaper Okaz, reported on Monday that the accusations include membership of the banned Muslim Brotherhood as well as communicating with neighboring Qatar and inciting protests inside Saudi Arabia. …

    Zamil has been detained since Sept. 2017 along with dozens of intellectuals and clerics in a crackdown on potential opponents of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose ambitious economic reform program centered on selling up to five percent of the state-owned Aramco oil company.

    In a series of social media posts before his arrest, Zamil said the $2 trillion valuation for Aramco suggested by Prince Mohammed would require the authorities to include the company’s oil reserves in the sale. …

    The charges against Zamil, according to Okaz, include giving foreign diplomats “information and analysis about the kingdom” without informing the authorities or obtaining permission from them.

    The report did not provide details, but that accusation echoes state media’s labeling of women’s rights activists arrested in May as traitors and “agents of embassies”, which unnerved diplomats in Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally. …

    A few weeks ago I commented that MbS is Elizabeth Holmes with an air force.
    Let me revise that to: Elizabeth Holmes with an air force, a police state and a very thin skin.

  22. VietnamVet

    The Ford/Kavanaugh incident reflects the current plutocracy and rule by the credentialed class. Both belong to the meritocracy. Both went to private schools near each other and their social circles overlapped. This is a battle for control within the top ten percent. The Democrats use identity to divide and rule. The Republicans use ideology. Brett Kavanaugh’s problem is that he lies and has a drinking problem. Christine Blasey Ford’s indictment is “she said, he said”. There is no common ground. To preserve their control, the 10% must compromise. I’d say don’t confirm a lying mean drunk to the Supreme Court. But, this is a matter of tribal belief. If Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, the American meritocracy will be torn apart. The 10% at war with each other cannot control the other 90% in a time of chaos, climate change, and escalating inequality. A revolt is inevitable.

    1. Eureka Springs

      The 10% at war with each other cannot control the other 90% in a time of chaos, climate change, and escalating inequality

      I’d like to believe that, but I don’t. Mostly because it’s the .01 percent, not the ten, and those who would revolt will fight each other rather than their oppressors.

      Imagine the Walton family manufacturing/deciding, whoops, there is a food shortage in all the super centers or some such. And a couple banksters saying the same about currency. There will be riots but things will ultimately remain the same at the top.

      1. VietnamVet

        Oligarchs have a hard time ruling their own families; i.e. Donald Trump. The 9.9% are needed to manage the corporations, crony governments, military and transnational institutions. I retired a bottom rung technocrat but my pension is worth two million bucks. I knew a Division Director who became the Administrator. We are middle class. Deplorables are the laborers and foot soldiers. In the past when the Middle Class’s offspring had nothing left to lose, they overthrew the establishment; 1789 France and 1917 Russia. On the other hand, the American Revolution was a faction of the colonial aristocracy and the 10% deciding that it was to their profit to split off from the Crown. To sanctify it, they came up with the Declaration of Independence and then the US Constitution which function in name only today.

        Privatized prisons and technology may keep the peace as the middle-class declines, but I doubt it. The AK-47 is what doomed Western Colonization after WWII including Vietnam. If food riots break out at Walmart, the Walton family fortune will not be secure. To keep the money flowing into their coffers, they need the free movement of people, goods, capital and services between Bentonville, AR, New York, NY and Long Beach, CA. They need peace. They need a thriving middle class.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          I agree, with my usual caveat
          re: “… the Walton family fortune will not be secure. To keep the money flowing into their coffers, they need the free movement of people, goods, capital and services between Bentonville, AR, New York, NY and Long Beach, CA. They need peace. They need a thriving middle class.”

          “They” also need Belief in a sufficient number of the 10%, and of the Proles.
          That “wealth” only really exists at the sufferance of sufficient belief…in the entire System. This is the danger of a legitimacy crisis.
          If enough people stop Believing, the whole mess collapses in on itself, and the Waltons become/are just another family of a$$holes that nobody really likes.
          The 40+ year PsyOp/Mindf%%k contains within it the ingredients of such an existential/ontological crisis…always has. While it was intended as a tool of Power Maintenance, keeping us’n’s confused and fighting among ourselves…it was always a form of juggling nukes.
          These are fascinating times.

    2. Jill

      Vietnam Vet,

      I think you make many good points but others I must disagree with. First, I don’t think they belong to a meritocracy. They belong to a very privileged class, many of whom can be utter dolts and still succeed in being placed in high paying, prestigious jobs where they hold power over others.

      I definitely agree with you and Lambert that much of what is happening is being used for terrible purposes by the powerful establishment who really don’t care at all about women. I can’t really call this a he said/she said because there is evidence to be examined in Ford’s case and there is a lot of corroborating evidence in Ramirez’s case and there may also be evidence in Swetnick’s case. The problem is the FBI is doing the investigation and they certainly have very little (if any) credibility as fact finders. I think it’s a really good idea to wait for that evidence to come out, even if it will only come out in the press before making final judgments to the best of our ability.

      I do think there’s plenty of evidence that Kav perjured himself. There have been several careful analysis of his testimony. As Chuck Grassley has said that anyone who lies to Congress should be imprisoned I’m sure we can expect that to happen to Kav (not)!!!

      Clearly Brett is a much desired justice. I’m thinking this has a lot to do with his stance on keeping detainees from having lawyers, giving unchecked power to the executive and in general being really strong on all violations of human rights. However, I am unsure why only Brett can fulfill these duties. It seems to me that there are many women and men who agree with Brett on these points and they will step up to the plate! There’s something going on here which is opaque to me. I don’t see the elites being torn apart because they can just pick another stooge to do the same things for them.

      It’s clear if you look at metoo twitter that this is a Democratic take over of what may once have been a genuine group. That said, I saw a real civil rights movement at the capital during the hearing. Women and men, many of whom were actually sincere, occupied the space of the powerful. People were right in their faces. If we can stay away from shrinking this people power into “rock the vote” and instead pull together to confront unjust power, I believe we will make a real difference in our society.

  23. The Rev Kev

    “The iPhone XS Has A Serious Problem…”

    Just watched this video with a measure of disbelief. Maybe Apple should rename the iPhone XS to the iPhone F-35 to make things more clearer.

    1. polecat

      I would substitute ‘sh!te’ for ‘phone’ .. has a better ring to it, otherwise spot on !

    2. jonhoops

      This is just the annual manufactured clickbait iPhone crisis. In the next few weeks as Apple fixes the glitches, another fake crisis will fade into oblivion.

  24. tricia

    Re Kavanaugh.
    To bring up Emmett Till in this case I think is rather absurd. Back then black boys, black men were being falsely accused left and right for anything and everything including murders they didn’t commit and everyone knew it and everyone knew that those doing the accusing – the lynchers, the prosecutors, the sheriffs, the media, the witnesses, all blatant racists or, in the case of some witnesses, bullied & threatened- they were all lying.
    To accuse a black person if you were white required no courage.
    Read Invitation to a Lynching by Gene Miller if you can get ahold of it. That focuses on ONE case in ONE southern town and you’ll be sickened. Multiply that a gazillion times and that’s the climate w/in which the woman accused Till.
    So just bringing up Till’s name with Kavanaugh’s seems offensive. But if one wants to compare, Kavanaugh’s defending himself in a system where entitled men like him are on top, and have been since birth, essentially. And pretty much everyone on both sides know he’s lying about at least something.
    And as for the dynamic between accused and accuser, again, this sexual assault culture is finally being exposed, questioned, and hopefully ultimately ended, but right now it still takes some courage to come forward.
    Finally, unlike with Emmett Till, no one’s playing judge and executioner. Kavanaugh’s not even being tried for a crime. He’s trying to get a lucrative, powerful, life-time position on our highest court where he’ll sit in judgement on issues affecting a very lot of people, many of whom from very different backgrounds than him. Seems like there’s been enough put forward now and in the past to show him unfit for this position.

    I just brought up the Till case, but really similar stuff just updated for New Jim Crow for the Central Park Five.

    1. Yves Smith

      No, it’s about stereotyping. Black men were seen as lusting after white women. Young black boys in Central Park at night in the 1980s were clearly there planning to do no good and steal from or do worse to anyone dumb enough to go into the park alone. Preppie louts who drink already often have sexist attitudes towards women. Not much of a jump to believe they are abusers on thin evidence. Remember the Rolling Stone settlement with UVA?

    2. Dave

      Thanks, Tricia, for writing this. I think the suggestion that believing white women in the case of Kavanaugh, an upper-class white male, is analogous to believing white women in the case of Emmett Till, a black young man in the 1950s, is ridiculous and offensive. Thinking this way requires you to completely ignore historical context.
      Same goes for the idea that the stereotyping of preppy louts is comparable to the stereotyping of black men.

  25. Elizabeth Burton

    Just so everyone knows how well the Democrat political theater re: Kavanaugh is going, I am likely being roundly castigated on social media for wondering why a political cartoon on the subject featuring TRUMP!!!, Bill Cosby, and some other recent convicted sexual predator didn’t include Bill and Hillary for balance. So, the propaganda is working beautifully with those who prefer outrage and embrace the ideal that it’s only wrong when the other guy does it.

    1. JBird4049

      As said about any number of American owned dictators “He might be a bastard, but he’s our bastard!”

  26. The Rev Kev

    You gotta laugh. Netanyahu claimed at the UN last week that Hezbollah had three missile sites hidden in Beirut in Lebanon at a soccer field, a warehouse and a golf course adjoining Beirut’s airport. So Lebanon’s foreign minister, Gebran Bassil said, OK, lets go take a look and organized a tour and took along the ambassadors of Russia, Iran and numerous African and Asian nations, as well as representatives of all the major European embassies. The US declined the invite. Of course there was nothing there so now the Israeli Defense Forces’ Spokesperson Avichai Adrai has had a spac attack over Twitter about the whole thing and went into melt-down mode. More on this story at-


  27. allan

    The Washington Times settles lawsuit with Seth Rich’s brother, issues retraction and apology for its coverage [CNN]

    The Washington Times on Monday issued a lengthy retraction and apology for an editorial it published in March about Aaron Rich, the brother of the slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich whose unsolved murder became the basis for conspiracy theories on the far-right.

    “The Column included statements about Aaron Rich, the brother of former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, that we now believe to be false,” read part of the retraction. …

    The Washington Times’ initial article, which the lawsuit said was published both online and in print, stated that it was “well known in intelligence circles that Seth Rich and his brother, Aaron Rich, downloaded the DNC emails and was paid by Wikileaks for that information.”

    The article cited no evidence to support the assertion.

    “The Washington Times now does not have any basis to believe any part of that statement to be true, and The Washington Times retracts it in its entirety,” the newspaper’s Monday retraction said. …

    The Rich’s were victimized twice – first by the killer and then by the right wing noise machine.
    In the same way that Vince Foster’s family was victimized twice, both times by by the RWNM –
    first by driving him to suicide and then by exploiting his death for political purposes through the Starr inquisition.
    Brett Kavanaugh was central to the second of those. The hell that BK’s family is undoubtedly going through
    right now is not to be wished on anyone, but you have to wonder at the novelistic symmetry of it all.

  28. Roland

    Quebecers elected the CAQ (Coalition pour l’avenir du Quebec), a centre-right, mildly nationalist provincial government, under former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister Legault. From CBC news:


    “The CAQ. a right-of-centre party which promises to lower taxes, privatize some aspects of the health-care system, and cut the number of immigrants, capitalized on an appetite for change among Quebec voters.”

    Seat breakdown at time of writing:

    CAQ: 73
    Liberal: 32
    PQ: 10
    QS: 10

    Back in 2014, when the globalist neoliberal Couillard had been elected, the maintream media analysts were all gloating about the death of Quebec nationalism. Now the same analysts will probably be moaning about the growth of the nationalist right.

    Now, at least with Legault, there shouldn’t be any Doug Ford or Donald Trump style buffoonery. However, the nationalists in Quebec are not afraid to pass discriminatory laws (e.g. the language laws in force since the 1970’s, or the recent anti-Niqab law).

    As a footnote, the Quebec Solidaire, which I think is the only truly leftist party to be able to win seats in Canada, registered significant gains.

    The Parti Quebecois, which used to be the main nationalist and separatist party in Quebec, also used to be a centre-left, social democratic party. But since the 1990’s it not only fractured between the “soft nationalists” and the “hard separatists,” but between the neoliberal Blairite types and actual social democrats. What seems to have happened is that the right-wing nationalists went to the CAQ to get their privatizations and tax cuts, while the social democrats went to the Solidaire, leaving the old PQ as a husk.

    Another footnote: anyone who thinks a first-past-the-post electoral system must devolve into a two-party monotony should take careful note of Canadian electoral patterns.

  29. ian

    I don’t see why you say Kavanaugh flat out committed perjury about not blacking out. Blacking out does not mean passing out, or falling asleep – it means not being able to recall your actions. As an undergraduate, I got plenty drunk on occasion and did some pretty stupid things, but I could always recall them later on (to my regret).I haven’t heard anything from either Kavanaugh or those who knew him to suggest he was unable to remember what he did.

  30. gepay

    Re kavanaugh: I don’t like either of ;them. Ford with her little girl voice but no corroborating witness..There are some really strange CIA connections in her family – and herself at Stanford. Kavanaugh with tears and a calender. His fratboy friend Judge. The problem is the case is weak for both of them. Really easy to see where one’s biases are from the comments. The only thing I’m certain of is: Kavanaugh likes beer. The way he drank water makes me think he is a functional alcoholic. Most humans deal with this veil of tears and get on with their lives. Ford needs a therapist 30 years later to deal with her minor trauma. I’ve had worse happen to me when I was after school in the 4rth grade by a perv who could have been sent by central casting.
    It’s been a long time since anyone like John Marshall or Oliver Wendell Holmes has been on the US Supreme Court. I can remember Reynquist nodding off from his drug addiction. Abe Fortas resigning because of his greed. Imagine someone like Thurgood Marshall being nominated in this climate. We get that giant of jurisprudence Clarence Thomas.

  31. VietnamVet

    Hillary Clinton promised a no fly zone over Syria. Interior Secretary Zinke wants to blockade Russian oil shipments. UN Secretary Haley said the USA will take out Russian Intermediate Nuclear Missiles. C. Christine Fair, former political officer with the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan; “We castrate their corpses and feed them to swine.” Lindsey Graham and Brett Kavanaugh’s fearful rage filled rants.

    The United States has been at war far too long and is losing it. Once the elite decided to throw the working class under the bus and grab everything for themselves; the USA turned a lawless mob state. The end will come from flooding, looting or the flash of a hydrogen bomb. The only way out is to restore the US Constitution and the rule of law on the top 1%. Give Peace a chance.

  32. gepay

    My bad – I retract “really strange CIA connections in her family – and herself at Stanford.” It was refuted by Snopes which is usually a good reason to dig deeper. There is a CIA internship program at Stanford.. https://haas.stanford.edu/students/cardinal-careers/fellowships/cia-undergraduate-internship-program.
    Ford is associated with Stanford and this Stanford paper. “Dr. Blasey Ford was one of eleven different authors of the study, and that the study is actually about treating depression using hypnosis to create hypothetical situations.” https://www.dailydot.com/layer8/christine-blasey-ford-hypnosis/
    But there is no definite connection of Ford to the internship that I can find.
    There are many junky links with allegations of her father’s links to the CIA but no solid evidence. It is lame on my part but while investigating names mentioned – Nicholas Deak I did find what I take as a solid article from Pando.com: ‘The CIA and the American Psychological Association: Partners in Crime’
    It aligned with research I have done on MkUltra. I linked the solid article with the junky ones in my mind but her father is not mentioned in the solid link. .
    Ralph Blasey Jr (Ford’s father) did work at National Savings and Trust where he is alleged to have worked with Nicholas Deak who can be solidly linked to CIA money activities. However I can find no evidence that the National Savings and Trust in DC has done covert CIA money work unlike the Riggs Bank.
    Blasey Jr Background https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=6846922&privcapId=4395750
    Mr. Ralph G. Blasey, Jr. serves as a Vice President of Business Development of Red Coats, Inc., a private company specializing in commercial office cleaning, uniformed guard services and access control systems. .
    I have no proof but these would be an excellent cover for covert activities in DC commercial buildings.
    Thanks for making for making me read more critically.

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