2:00PM Water Cooler 11/15/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51


“New effort promises 1,000 trained Democratic staffers for 2020” [Politico]. “Anticipating a sprawling Democratic presidential field and a shortage of experienced, high-quality campaign professionals, a left-leaning group is launching a $4.5 million effort to train 1,000 staffers to be ready in time for 2020 combat. The group, called Arena, will begin holding training academies across the country in 2019, with a goal of deploying at least 450 of those trainees onto Democratic presidential primary campaigns or in state legislative races.” • Guess who’s on the board? Buffy Wicks! (See “New Anti-Berner Model Test In California’s 15th Assembly District Election” at Down with Tyranny). “Left-leaning” my sweet Aunt Fanny.


“Greens in Massachusetts claim official party status for 2020” [Boston 25 News]. “Ballot status means the party could hold primaries in 2020 and its nominees for president or any state office would be automatically listed on the November ballot.”

“CBC votes no confidence in Democratic Chair Perez” [Politico]. “According to CBC members, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the incoming chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, started a debate over the national party’s superdelegate policy, which led to a motion of no confidence in Perez, who took over the DNC in February 2017.” • The Black Misleadership Class in action. Superdelegates are hardly “democratic.” But since one looks in vain to the Democrat Party for any consistent principles whatever, this should not be surprising.

“Democratic election gains may spark Harris County bail lawsuit settlement” [Houston Chronicle]. “Standing with Manne and others in the courthouse hallway after the hearing was Franklin Bynum, a 36-year-old Democratic Socialist in the mold of Bernie Sanders, who was elected last week to the misdemeanor bench for County Criminal Court No. 8. Bynum said he’d read documents and sat through hearings in the historic bail case from the beginning. ‘It was this lawsuit that originally inspired me to run for judge,” Bynum said.’ He said he and his fellow Democratic candidates all promised residents on the campaign trail they intended to settle the bail lawsuit quickly. ‘Certainly, we’re going to behave differently than the current judges did, like being obstinate …and defending the indefensible,’ he said.” • Good news!

“11,000 Votes May Be Missing in Florida Congressional Race” [Truthout]. • This is from Tuesday, the 13th, but it’s worth a read for the detail on what an omnishambles the Florida system for counting votes is.

ME-02: “Golden Flips Maine House Seat for Democrats on Ranked-Choice Ballot” [Bloomberg]. “The expensive race had been seen as a test of President Donald Trump’s appeal and shows Democrats can win back rural, working class areas with recruits like Golden, a state representative who sports tattoos on his forearms from his days in the service.” • So, ME-02, a rural district, flips back from Trump. Exactly the sort of district the Democrat establishment wants to write off. I guess we’ll see what kind of Committee assignments Golden gets…

2018 Post Mortems

“51 Percent Losers” [Matt Karp, Jacobin]. “in the long run, the Democrats’ 51 percent solution, depending crucially on the votes of wealthy suburbanites, is a formula for disaster. It cannot repair our broken politics, much less transform our savagely unequal society. In fact, even in its short-term triumphs, it obscures (when it does not outright scorn) the one mode of struggle that can break the cycle: a political revolution driven by the needs and aspirations of the broader working class.” • Also the only way to arrest fascism, if you care about that sort of thing. Princeton’s Karp wrote the excellent This Vast Southern Empire.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Finally came across an analysis of fascism I may be able to accept, because it’s from a historian, and isn’t a simple-minded checklist (or liberal yammering). I’d also like to cross-check it with Robert Evans’ magisterial The Coming of the Third Reich, which is also very textured, including diaries for example. From an Amazon review of From Robert Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism:

But rather than come up with a proposed theoretical definition of fascism at the beginning and then trying to defend it, Paxton starts by examining what fascism looks like in the real world—how fascist movements actually began, how they took root and attracted a mass following, how fascist parties then rose to power and took control of the machinery of government, how they governed, etc.—and only after thoroughly considering all of these things does he finally, in the last few pages of the book, draw conclusions about what fascism really is.

I highly recommend that you read the entire book for yourself before considering Paxton’s definition of fascism—it’s the only real way to do justice to his approach to the subject. But for those of you who don’t mind spoilers, here is how Paxton ultimately defines fascism, on the antepenultimate page of his book:

“Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”

Suggestive… And in terms of “democratic liberties,” the rot has been setting in for quite some time, and in a thoroughly bipartisan fashion. Ditto “community decline” (deindustrialization). So our immune system, as it were, was (and is) already weak. (A competing definition, the merger of corporations and the state, might be subsumed under “uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites.”)

Also, quoting Paxton on the KKK:

[I]t is further back in American history that one comes upon the earliest phenomenon that seems functionally related to fascism: the Ku Klux Klan. Just after the Civil War, some Confederate officers, fearing the vote given to African Americans by the Radical Reconstructionists in 1867, set up a militia to restore an overturned social order. The Klan constituted an alternate civic authority, parallel to the legal state, which, in its founders’ eyes, no longer defended their community’s legitimate interests. In its adoption of a uniform (white robe and hood), as well as its techniques of intimidation and its conviction that violence was justified in the cause of the group’s destiny, the first version of the Klan in the defeated American South was a remarkable preview of the way fascist movements were to function in interwar Europe.

(That’s been my thought on the KKK.) From the reviews and excerpts, I think that Paxton isn’t taking into account population-wide trauma, as from the Civil War (the KKK) and the trenches of World War I (Germany and Italy). I don’t know the causality, but the commonality is suggestive. It may be that the Recessions (“deaths of despair”) played a similar role in this country.

Back to the definition: The big missing piece, fortunately, is “mass-based party of committed nationalist militants.” So far! We are nowhere near having anything like the KKK either during Reconstruction or the 1920s. Even Trump didn’t show Birth of a Nation in the White House (unlike progressive icon Woodrow Wilson). However, it doesn’t seem to me that liberal tactics of shaming and virtue signaling are going to be of much use preventing the emergence of such an entity (and the enormous monopolies and those productive and dynamic blue cities seem to be amplifying these entities, if anything. YouTube, in particular, is a cesspit, into which its algos are designed to suck you).

Stats Watch

Retail Sales, October 2018: “The first hard indication on what to expect for fourth-quarter consumer spending is positive but not as enormously positive as October’s… headline surge” [Econoday]. And but: “The increase in October was above expectations, however sales in August and September were revised down” [Calculated Risk]. And: “October is the last month before Christmas shopping takes hold and the initial indication for holiday spending is healthy but not extravagant.” But: “There was significant downward adjustment of last two month’s data. Because of the downward revision, the gains in this month’s report can be explained away. The real test of strength is the rolling averages which declined” [Econintersect].

Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, November 2018: “Moderation from a high level of growth is the indication” [Econoday]. “Growth in new orders slowed sharply… Optimism also seems to be fading, at least slightly… This report contrasts with greater strength in the Empire State report which was also released this morning. Together they offer a positive but not accelerating indication for November’s factory activity.” And: “Consider this a weaker report than last month as key elements declined – and backlog remains in contraction” [Econintersect].

Empire State Manufacturing Survey, November 2018: “In contrast to the softening in this morning’s Philly Fed report, the sample for Empire State is reporting increasing strength in this month’s activity” [Econoday]. “New orders fell back sharply in the Philly data but not in this report…. This report together with the Philly Fed data point to consistent but not accelerating conditions for the nation’s factory activity in November. Yet manufacturing has been a leading sector for the economy and looks to end 2018 on a clearly positive note.” And: “Because of the different trends of backlog and new orders – it is hard to say that this report was better than last month” [Econintersect].

Import and Export Prices, October 2018: “Last week’s producer price report showed unexpected pressure in October as does today’s report on import prices and export prices” [Econoday]. “Neither imports nor exports are getting any lift from finished goods where prices once again proved dead flat or nearly dead flat for all categories, whether capital goods, consumer goods, or autos. This has been a repeated indication that general price pressures on a global level remain soft.” And: “Month-over-month price index for fuel imports increased (and non-fuel imports were little changed) – and the price index for agricultural commodities declined” [Econintersect].

Business Inventories, September 2018: Rose as expected [Econoday]. “Relative to sales, inventories look like they have further to climb… though retail inventories look thin given the strong headline gain for this morning’s October retail sales report, overall inventories do appear to be moving more in line with sales which makes for a moderate outlook on inventory contribution to fourth-quarter GDP.”

Jobless Claims, week of November 10, 2018: “Initial jobless claims are steady at low and favorable levels’ [Econoday]. “Continuing claims had been making a long run of 45-year lows.”


Good to see both AOC and Carter on top of this; the Amazon deal is a wedge issue between left and liberals. So keep hammering.

The Bezzle: “Goldman Blames Rogue Staff for Its 1MDB Scandal. That May Not Wash.” [New York Times]. “But the Wall Street firm seems unlikely to be able to slough off its role in the looting of a multibillion-dollar Malaysian government investment fund as the work of a few miscreants. Companies often claim that misconduct was just the product of “rogue” employees who do not reflect the true corporate culture of their organization. And so far that’s the defense Goldman has put forth.” • You’d think that whichever expensive public relations firm that’s handling this debacle for Goldman would have heard of “The Laugh Test.” Apparently not.

The Bezzle: “Blue Apron warns on revenue growth, shares tumble” [Reuters]. “Blue Apron Holdings Inc on Wednesday said it plans to cut marketing spending, sacrificing possible revenue growth to focus on promoting its meal-kit delivery service to its highest-paying, most profitable customers. Shares of Blue Apron slid more than 10 percent after the move was revealed in an early-morning conference call.”

The Bezzle: “Uber lost over $1 billion in Q3 as it closes in on an IPO” [Engadget]. “Uber, according to its self-reported financials, said it lost (on a GAAP basis) $1.07 billion as it continues to invest in new areas, such as bicycles, scooters and freight shipments. The company is still growing however, as revenue rose 38 percent from a year ago to $2.95 billion. Albeit, those gains are down 51 percent from the previous quarter, meaning that overall the speed of growth is slightly down. Uber earned $12.7 billion from gross bookings, or the money it makes after paying commissions to drivers and delivery people, which is up 34 percent from the previous year.” • Bicycles?

Tech: “Companies keep losing your data because it doesn’t cost them anything” [Boing Boing (DK)]. “If companies were paying out damages commensurate with the social costs their data recklessness imposes on the rest of us, it would have a very clarifying effect on their behavior — insurers would get involved, refusing to write E&O policies for board members without massive premium hikes, etc. A little would go a long way, here.”

Tech: “A browser for the next-generation Web” [Beaker]. “Beaker adds support for a peer-to-peer protocol called Dat. It’s the Web you know and love, but instead of HTTP, websites and files are transported with Dat…. Deploy a website from your computer — no server required! Visitors connect directly to each other, sharing your site’s files and helping keep it online…. Files are transported with the peer-to-peer network instead of being locked away on a server, so you can explore all the files that make up a website or app.” • Interesting, at least. I installed the browser. It works. The Dat protocol has partial funding from the Knight foundation.

Mr. Market: “European stocks routed as financials take a hit on Brexit turmoil” [MarketWatch]. “European markets suffered broad losses Thursday, after the resignation of the U.K.’s Brexit secretary and other departures triggered massive uncertainty over the country’s plans to exit from the EU and the future of the government. Banks were the hardest-hit sector, followed by insurers, with oil majors helping to balance the day….. Among banks, Royal Bank of Scotland Group finished the day down over 9% and Bank of Ireland Group shed nearly 8%. Airlines were also hard hit, with Ryanair Holdings tumbling 7% and easyJet losing nearly that much.”

Mr. Market: “Traders haven’t been this freaked out about tech stocks for 14 years — and their worry could be signaling disaster for the market” [Business Insider]. “Since the start of September, the tech sector has declined more than 11%, nearly double the benchmark S&P 500, which hasn’t exactly been a beacon of strength itself. And as if that underperformance hadn’t been bad enough, traders appear to be braced for even more turmoil….” • Making Yves’ article in New York Magazine on “fake unicorns” in the venture capital industry all the more timely.

Health Care

“Left wants a vote on single-payer bill in new Congress” [The Hill]. “But the left’s push for “Medicare for all” legislation would likely divide Democrats and pose a headache for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is poised to become Speaker in the next Congress.” • Like those are bad things?


“PG&E Plunges Into Crisis as It Faces Reckoning Over Fires” [Bloomberg]. “California’s biggest utility was plunged into full-blown crisis by the possibility that its equipment sparked one of the catastrophic wildfires ravaging the state. Shares of PG&E Corp. plummeted as much as 32 percent Wednesday after the company said it had exhausted its revolving credit lines, signaling it was shoring up its cash to prepare for a possible credit downgrade to junk. The utility’s filing also may have marked the start of a campaign to get bailed out by California’s lawmakers — as it was after last year’s fires.” • Hoo boy.

“Massive crater under Greenland’s ice points to climate-altering impact in the time of humans” [Science]. “Though not as cataclysmic as the dinosaur-killing Chicxulub impact, which carved out a 200-kilometer-wide crater in Mexico about 66 million years ago, the Hiawatha impactor, too, may have left an imprint on the planet’s history. The timing is still up for debate, but some researchers on the discovery team believe the asteroid struck at a crucial moment: roughly 13,000 years ago, just as the world was thawing from the last ice age. That would mean it crashed into Earth when mammoths and other megafauna were in decline and people were spreading across North America…. The news of the impact discovery has reawakened an old debate among scientists who study ancient climate. A massive impact on the ice sheet would have sent meltwater pouring into the Atlantic Ocean—potentially disrupting the conveyor belt of ocean currents and causing temperatures to plunge, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. “What would it mean for species or life at the time? It’s a huge open question,” says Jennifer Marlon, a paleoclimatologist at Yale University.” • Interesting story on how the science was done (including funding).

“Crossing the Sahara in the Fourteenth Century” [Lapham’s Quarterly]. “Then there was the problem of water. It would be even better to say the problem of thirst, your constant companion during the crossing. All travelers, all geographers say the same thing: the water is sometimes “fetid and lethal” and, Yaqut al-Hamawi humorously reckons, “has none of the qualities of water other than being liquid.” Such a beverage inevitably generates intestinal pains that make life difficult and sour the memory of the trans-Saharan experience. In good years, when there had been plenty of rain, water filled the rocky gullies, and people could drink and do laundry. In bad years, the burning wind dried out the water in the goatskins; consequently, a camel’s throat had to be cut and its stomach removed. The water it contained was drawn off into a sump and drunk with a straw. In the worst-case scenario, one could kill an addax antelope and follow a similar procedure to extract greenish water from its entrails. Some authors remembered that the Maqqarî had formerly “established the desert route by digging wells and seeing to the security of merchants.” But it was during the period when the big merchants of North Africa purported to deal with the material organization of the caravan and the route themselves; it was a time when captured bandits had their heads cut off.”

“Setting standards for reproducibility in gut microbiome research” [Nature]. “Enthusiasm for microbiome research has outpaced agreement upon experimental best practices. Labs have often cobbled together workflows based on existing molecular techniques and analytical methods. Many experts now believe a reckoning is at hand, and that progress in the clinical application of gut microbiome data depends on researchers weighing the strengths and weaknesses of their methods. ‘We have to normalize our approach to the science,’ says [Raul Cano, chief scientific officer at BioCollective, a microbiome company based in Denver, Colorado].”

Class Warfare

“Companies struggling to fill jobs ‘should try paying more,’ Fed’s Kashkari says” [CNBC]. “‘I oftentimes hear businesses saying I just can’t find the workers that I need,’ the central bank official said during a conference on immigration in his home district. ‘Now, I’m not entirely sympathetic with that view, because I’ve been saying you should try paying more, and you may be able to attract more workers.'” • Jeez Louise. What’s wrong with this guy?

“5 Ways Smart People Sabotage Their Success” [Harvard Business Review]. “Bright kids typically receive a lot of reinforcement throughout their early lives that their intelligence is valuable. They grow up being told they’re smart, and during their schooling, experience that success comes more easily to them than to others. It’s easy to understand why, as a result, they would continue to focus on their intellect as a adults.” • Some bright kids.

News of the Wired

“Men Cause 100% of Unwanted Pregnancies” [Medium]. • Certainly reframes the abortion debate, if debate it be.

“Somebody Had to Set a Bad Example” [Popula]. Of Elvis’s 1956 record “Love Me”: “It was a simple, beautiful performance of a simple, beautiful song, but it was a complex event: three 21st-century female country singers covering a song made famous by the 20th century’s first male rock star, written by white R&B songwriters as a parody of country music.”

Quite the catalog:

This looks sustainable:

I once took a series of photographs of our small downtown. It is amazing how much asphalt dominates, and how the human eye (mine at least) don’t even focus on it. But images from the camera’s eye make asphalt’s dominance leap out, as here.

* * *

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 (KP):

KP writes: “Lichen!”

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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. flora

    re: ME-02

    If I may:
    So, ME-02, a rural district, flips back from Trump. Exactly the sort of Dem voters district the Democrat establishment wants to write off. ;)

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From Bloomberg:

      Poliquin, the incumbent, led after ballots were initially tabulated, though no candidate had an absolute majority. However, under ranked-choice voting, the lowest-choice candidates were eliminated and their votes reallocated to their second choices. Under that system, Golden, the Democrat, pulled ahead.

      That’s interesting.

      In different situations it will work out differently.

      It could be

      Sanders 39%
      Hilary 25%
      Biden 20% (their 2nd choice? Hillary).

      In that case, she gets 25% plus those neoliberal 20%, or 45%.

      Remember, this is just one possibility. It could be similar to the case in 2020, with one progressive competes with a few neoliberals. In that case, the second choice of a voter whose 1st choice is a neoliberal is likely to be still a neoliberal, and we don’t get the ‘vote dilution’ completely (only partially).

      1. a different chris

        But it pushes the neolibs stated positions leftward as they have to think they want to be the progressive bloc’s second choice.

        I am liking it so far. Yes I know stated positions are not worth much, but they ain’t worth nothing either.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          In the example case, Hillary and Biden would just push each other to be more like the Republicans.

          Their supporters are likely to rank them their top two choices. (Let’s say that’s the pessimistic case).

      2. John k

        It encourages the voter to vote for the candidate they really want, with the lesser evil their second or third pick. So a green candidate that usually gets 2% because ‘he can’t win’, might now win outright.
        This is why dems and reps both hate it, it provides at least theoretical ballot access to all.
        Course, with computers, it’s easy to implement.

  2. Summer

    “Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”

    Something to think about when the words “fighting corruption” enter the discourse.
    It doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.
    The most apparent distinction? but not the only one, is that some are thinking in terms of a corrupt system or structure. Others have no issue with that as long as they are comfortable and they think of “corruption” as “others” in control of the system.

    1. ewmayer

      I wonder about the wording “obsessive preoccupation with community decline”. Lambert gives the obvious (well, to all but the establishment Dems and their corporatist-MSM mouthpieces) example of community decline featuring in Trump’s election, deindustrialization and the economic evisceration of much of flyover country. If one’s community, way of life and economic prospects have been so destroyed as a result of deliberate policy choices by a cabal of insular elites, should the resulting angst be labeled “obsessive” or “entirely justifiable”?

      1. Carey

        The game plan from Our Elites and their minions seems to be labeling anyone not down with the hollowing out of the Commons as “racists”, “fascists”, and otherwise Generally Bad People.

      2. Fiery Hunt

        As I read the article this morning and was reminded just now, while reading the PC discussion of the use of the word “hag”, I had the thought that (at least here in the Bay Area), we could be talking about liberals as well as the right. We are surrounded by “obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity” on both sides.

        Policing of “acceptable words” (SJW), policing of bathrooms (Repugs), shouting down politicians in restaurants, shouting down presidents in State of the Union, Antifa here in Berkeley, Alt-right in Charlottesville, cops getting killed, cops killing, I could go on and on…

        It looks to me like the 10% on either side are playing the same cards about the “decline of their community” and/or their “victimhood”.

        1. McGardner

          Looks like Lambert’s been reading the daily beast article on Proud Boys. This book by Paxton was writted in 2004 and while definitions can carry water throughout time, the current definition is more like, “fascist: Any person or idea that purports to resist the necessary and just inversion of the western capitalist hierarchical paradigm in the name of collective equality and justice (as meted out by white liberal elites posing as compassionate ‘white allies’ and, concurrently, conspiring to increase the democratic voter base via broad character assassination and non-white illegal immigration.)”

      3. Summer

        How often do you hear it phrased the way you just did when you aren’t on NC?

        “My community, way of life, and economic prospects have been destroyed as a result of deliberate policy choices by a cabal of insular elites.”

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          I only wish my dad saw it this way.

          He still thinks government works for US, not THEM.

      4. jsn

        It’s movement leaders, themselves not directly affected, who must be “obsessive” in order to both pander to and propagandize those affected: obsessive repetition creates the illusion Mexican immigrants ruined the economy rather than coastal elites.

    2. Carolinian

      I realize there’s a fad for trying to blame the 20th century fascists–a term invented by those 20th cent. fascists btw–on the American South but a fad is what it is. If you look at Italy and Germany between the World Wars then the pattern is clear: authoritarian or totalitarian governments based on personality cults and an obsessive nationalism that had far more to do with the preceding colonial period in Europe than the cobbled together American Confederacy. Hitler learned his racism from the culture he grew up in. He didn’t need Southern crackers or their laws to show him the way.

      As for the Klan, this wasn’t some unique Reconstruction invention but rather another manifestation of the vigilantes that ranged across the American West. It was rule by lynch mob–today we’d call them death squads or terrorists–which is quite different from Hitler’s carefully calculated absolutism. For above all else the fascists had a plan. When their mob supporters deviated then a night of long knives was summoned up. You might argue that the erratic Trump has something in common with the inchoate populism of the Reconstruction Southerners, but neither has much to do with the man who wrote a book about what he planned to do and then did it.

      1. Summer

        ” Hitler learned his racism from the culture he grew up in..”

        It wasn’t about “learning” racism, it was about getting pointers on fine tuning his program.

        Because of this, Nazis were more interested in how the U.S. had designated Native Americans, Filipinos and other groups as non-citizens even though they lived in the U.S. or its territories. These models influenced the citizenship portion of the Nuremberg Laws, which stripped Jewish Germans of their citizenship and classified them as “nationals.”


        It’s been discussed here…

        1. Carolinian

          Yes it has been discussed or at least articles on the Yale professor’s book have been linked. But now that has morphed into the KKK as fascist model and US race laws as precursor to Nazi ideology. What I’m saying is that Europeans were fully familiar with genocide via their colonial conquest of the third world and didn’t need any American inspiration. Just ask the Congo. People are taking Whitman’s book–a minor historical sidebar IMO–and making it into more than what it really is.

          1. Todde

            Europeans had pogroms long before America existed.

            And the Nazisooked at American laws, not the Confederate South.

      2. Heraclitus

        Carolinian is right. We don’t recognize the role that vigilante justice has played in American history in any American region, but it has been present everywhere. ‘The Oxbow Incident’ was a Hollywood attempt, made in 1943 and starring Henry Fonda to discourage Americans from vigilante justice. There has been comparatively little vigilante activity since WW2 compared with our history.

        Also, as Carolinian says, there was no ‘great man’ in the history of the Ku Klux Klan. It was all local.
        The Reconstruction Ku Klux Klan was mostly about politics and the elections of 1868 and 1872. It dissolved afterward, and bore no organizational relationship to the ’20s Klan, which was about fifty to a hundred times larger.

        If there was a ‘great man’ that Southerners admired and followed, it was William Jennings Bryan, about thirty years after the Civil War.

      3. Not From Here

        Mussolini didn’t exterminate Jews or even Gypsies, but he had clear ideas about skin colour, rather his war was to re-establish the roman empire. He regarded non-Roman stock as another potential raw material/market to be dominated. It’s his program in Italy which was the modern standard of Fascism The Nazi program was more a case of a gang/mobsters under the guise of Fascism.

        As to “national personality cults in the South, look no further than the iconography of Lee, J.E.B. Stuart,Nathan Bedford Forrest, John_S._Mosby. The more viscous their anti-black/native American bend, the more statues you’ll find to them in the squares where the lynchings, whippings, tar & featherings would take place to re-enforce the purity of the race order.

    3. RWood

      It’s that “internal cleansing” that gets the blood, um, going. To condemn the behaviors of the Other is only to focus attention and insure a following.
      Then interrogation, judgement, execution of sentence.
      One rough beast slouches toward the homeland, another is about to fall into a net.

  3. Wukchumni

    The invisible hand seems to be pointing a fickled figure of fate @ PG & E, as the market has judged them guilty in pre-trial proceedings.

    1. Lee

      Here we go again:

      PG&E Company (the utility, not the holding company) entered bankruptcy under Chapter 11 on April 6, 2001. The state of California tried to bail out the utility and provide power to PG&E’s 5.1 million customers under the same rules that required the state to buy electricity at market rate high cost to meet demand and sell it at lower fixed price, and as a result, the state also lost significant amounts of money.

      The crisis cost PG&E and the state somewhere between $40 and $45 billion.[56] There is some evidence that this crisis played an important part in the eventual recall of California Governor Gray Davis.

      PG&E Company, the utility, emerged from bankruptcy in April 2004, after paying $10.2 billion to its hundreds of creditors. As part of the reorganization, PG&E’s 5.1 million electricity customers will have to pay above-market prices for several years to cancel the debt.

      1. chuck roast

        Correct me if I’m wrong from 3,000 miles away, but wasn’t the electricity market partially privatized and fragmented? And didn’t scammers rig trading and carefully shut down generating plants for “maintenance” to maximize the peak-period rip-off? And the result was a PG&E bankruptcy?

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        If PG&E again “needs” a “bailout”, one wonders whether the State of California should bail it out . . . or buy it out in order to state-socialistically own it. Then the State of California could make it meet higher safety and maintainance standards and charge enough for electricity and gas to afford meeting those standards.

        Or would one be merely silly to wonder about a thing like that?

  4. WheresOurTeddy

    People talk about breaking up banks, and big tech, and the telecom oligarchy (and I’m enthusiastically on board with all 3 of those and more)…strangely you rarely hear anyone talking about the massive parasite that is PG&E being broken up, even when they burn down an entire town in a matter of a day and a half.

    As Carlin said, “there’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps they should, even though they are not nation-wide, while still big.

      The main issue, from my perspective, is that I only have one choice for water, trash, gas and electricity (not PG&E, but our local versions), though I wish I had other choices.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Other privatized choices? I’ve lived with those kinds of arrangements. I would much prefer a public utility, with enough oversight by careful and jaundiced members of the public, to any array of lootable grasping private “providers,” where what is provided gets crapified from the git-go.

        Of course, in FL we have local monopolies like Duke Power, who get the Red Legislature and the captured Public Service Commission to empower Duke to collect a billion or two from us lower order rate payers, to pay for decommissioning one nuclear plant that was broken by the REally Smart Private Engineers of private “Progress Energy,” and a nuclear power plant THAT WILL NEVER BE BUILT but that rate payers, mostly us little schmucks have to give Duke a lot of unearned billions because it’s “legal” under some “contract” and the rates set by the PSC via its corrupt bought and paid for commissioners. Here’s a nice Reuters piece on “consolidation in the power sector,” including the Duke-Progress deal that is making Banksters and lawyers richer: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-progressenergy-dukeenergy-idUSTRE7092NK20110110

        Here’s a nice bit of detail on the serial corruptions (JEB! Bush, Charlie Crist, Rick Scott) that led to rate payers in FL not only paying for the broken Crystal River plant, but a Levy County plant that will never be built: https://www.factcheck.org/2014/08/florida-surrogates-go-nuclear/ And of course the same scam has been played in South Carolina, https://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/news/2017/08/05/duke-energy-customers-could-pay-s-c-nuclear-plant-even-if-its-not-built/541816001/

        Privatized choice? When the Biggies will con the “public” out of their socks, then merge into megacorps (Duke, among other Big Grabs, tried to buy the E.ON electric utility in Germany a couple of years ago, and is one of or the largest “electric utility” corps in the US), and come to command the rate setting function of “governance? And in the case of Duke, do their darndest to kill citizen-owned alternative energy sources, even resisting efforts to conserve and reduce electricity use because that would reduce its guaranteed cash flows.

        I’d prefer something like what apparently works in places like Galion, OH: http://www.galion.city/157/Electric-Department Or how about a co-op that links people who generate solar and wind and other sources, and has th clout to keep the state governments from crushing them and looting the remains?

        For you nuclear power enthusiasts, maybe there is something in the Duke situation (?forget Fukushima, of course) that might cause even a true believer to think again? Naaaww…

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          we have coops out here.
          the one i’m a member of has given me no reason to complain, and seem rather upfront about their doings(i get what look like shareholder reports). several of my neighbors have been elected to the board over the years.
          The coop to the south, on the other hand, had corruption problems a few years ago…i forget the details…but their “service area” includes a lot of high end real estate and rich folks the scandal had something to do with fraud and kickbacks by entitled people in golf shoes.
          I read about PGE and Duke and remember dealing with HL&P in Houston back when, and I feel for y’all.

        2. Kurt Sperry

          “Other privatized choices? I’ve lived with those kinds of arrangements. I would much prefer a public utility, with enough oversight by careful and jaundiced members of the public, to any array of lootable grasping private “providers,” where what is provided gets crapified from the git-go.”

          This, a thousand times, this. Utilities by their very nature cannot be competitive. The only rational choices are to have them publicly owned, or, less likely, to regulate them so thouroughly they are in effect run by the public and thus essentially behave as public utilities.

    2. Rojo

      Power distribution is a “natural monopoly”, i.e. it doesn’t make sense for more than one company running power lines everywhere.

      So you’d just municipalize it.

      1. Lee

        Our electricity is municipalized. PG&E only provides natural gas but they still managed to burn a bunch of houses down in our town some years back not to mention the Burlingame explosion. They’re like kids playing with matches but orders of magnitude dangerous.

      2. HotFlash

        Electic power is only a ‘natural monopoly’ if it is centrally produced. Put *small* solar, *small* hydro, and *small* wind on everybody’s rooftops and walls, link neighbours to each other to even out generation and demand, add in pedal-powered backup and grab every other unused bit of energy and convert it to electricity. No big grid required. Geothermal is great for heating, the heat is free (once you deill the shaft) and the pumps are quite low-energy to operate.

        Reduce, reduce, reduce energy use. My mother remembered when the Edison brought electricity to the farm (that was FDR). They used it to pump water from the well (household use plus cooling the milk cans) and lighting, but sparingly. Water for the stock was from another well, and the windmill served that one. It wasn’t that long ago, now do we really need *need* electric carving knives and LED-lit and fan-inflated Santa Clauses for the front yards? I don’t think so! And electric exercise machines — words fail me.

        1. Odysseus

          Wind is a go big or go home technology. Energy harvested from wind goes up as the cube of the average wind speed, and winds are both stronger and steadier higher above the ground. “Small scale wind” is ridiculously inefficient.

          If you’re doing anything with wind other than buying shares in the biggest tower and blades you can find, you’re doing it wrong.

          1. Oregoncharles

            This ignores distribution costs, which can be very high.

            OTOH, I think HotFlash is overlooking the value of the network, which serves to even out the various intermittent sources (including wind). That’s a valuable function, and within limits, the bigger, the better.

            So you still want a utility of some sort administering the network. I favor co-ops, but municipal or state owned systems should be similar.

  5. noonespecial

    “The Pentagon failed its audit, but officials aren’t surprised” – Film at 11…

    It is reported that about 1,200 auditors pored over the books. In the article, Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan points to inventory accuracy issues as one of the findings (i.e. “where the central database at the Pentagon identified inventory that simply wasn’t there in the real world” from the article.) Shanahan is also quoted in the article as saying this about the results of the audit, “If I’m a taxpayer, what I want to see is: ‘You did the audit, you have all these findings. How long is it going to take for you to fix those?’ “, he said. “Then show me next year it takes less to audit and you have fewer findings.” Where is the nod to some sort of cost savings?

    A former colleague is a retired staff sergeant who spoke about an eye-opening moment when cruising around a base with his captain. Strewn around some fields were masses of unused materiel in a haphazard manner. When my colleague asked about why this is so, the captain replied that: (1) the “stuff” in question was in working order; but, (2) better to “disappear” it to keep fresh supplies coming in and avoid cuts to the base’s budget.

    In January 2018, DefenseOne had this to say about the audit: “It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that auditors won’t likely uncover new inefficiencies of a great magnitude…the rest of us should think about the important question of what kind of resources our armed forces truly need to further national security.”

    How will the heads of Team D in Congress make use of the audit?

    I think NC comment’s section from yesterday includes points about how our discourse/debate is limited/corralled into acceptable limits. Alas, another example from the DoD.

    1. Summer

      They learn in Political Science 101 that one must spend an entire budget or risk cuts or at the very least no increase.
      I’m not kidding as many of you know. That is actually taught in Poli Sci 101.

      They be edumacated…

      1. a different chris

        Well it’s the truth so why wouldn’t they teach it? That’s the difference between PolSci and Economics courses right there.

    2. HotFlash

      “…the rest of us should think about the important question of what kind of resources our armed forces truly need to further national security.”

      You mean, for Medicare for All and seriously addressing climate change, stuff like that?

  6. diptherio

    Don’t remember if I shared this yet, but it seems like the kind of thing Lambert would be into:

    Fargo, ND Makes History: First US City To Implement Approval Voting

    Fargo just trailblazed its way as the first US city to use approval voting for government elections.

    What’s approval voting, you ask?

    Approval voting lets you choose as many candidates as you want, and the candidate with the most votes wins (there is no ranking). And though the bar to beat—our choose-one voting method—is quite low, approval voting is more than just a better voting method. This simple change has a long list of advantages.

    Here’s a beginning to that list. Voters:

    -Don’t have to worry about whether their favorite candidate is viable
    -Find more consensus winners rather than contributing to a polarized government
    -Avoid vote splitting and the spoiler effect
    -Get more candidates and more ideas in the political arena
    -Benefit from a more expressive ballot
    -See accurate reflection of support for independent and third-party candidates
    -Realize a big upgrade with a simple change


    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      To me this would provide incentives for positive campaigning. Tearing down opponents would risk the danger of ticking off too many people, I believe. To make the jump to the big leagues, issues that matter would have to be discussed.

      I guess my biggest concern would be a “nice person” slipping through (again, not really a concern compared to the way things are) with no other point, and I kind of wonder about scaling. With the size of districts, PR would be better at the state and federal level as I think too many issues are too removed from too much of the electorate for them to care because individuals aren’t equipped to tackle said issue.

      1. Odysseus

        How would you properly eject nonsense?

        To pick one example, the strongest argument for a Federal Balanced Budget Amendment is that it allows people who are ignorant of how money works to pretend that we are still on the gold standard.

        How do you properly shame FBBA supporters under approval voting?

    2. hemeantwell

      I agree that these electoral innovations are very important. A couple of days ago the Times actually served up an editorial that endorsed a form of proportional representation, pitched in a way to entice Republicans to support the idea (they’d get some House reps back in Massachusetts). Where did their faith in the stabilizing effects of first past the post systems go? I wonder if they’re worried about delegitimization and are trying to get otherwise marginalized political tendencies back at the table.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Not sure how it will work.

      I wonder if it favors those in the middle, and will disadvantage those on either the left or right edge.

      Will ‘not to offend anyone at all’ become the key?

      “I am calling to remind you to vote tomorrow.”

      “Is it tomorrow? I haven’t thought about it. Thanks.”

      “Yes, and remember Medicare for All is quite extreme. Everyone says so.”

      “Really? Thanks for that and also thanks for reminding me to vote.”

      1. voteforno6

        It may or may not work, but it’s nice to see it being tried at the local level. If this actually improves city elections there, then maybe it will spread. First Fargo, then West Fargo and Moorhead, after that, who knows?

        1. Chris

          It may or may not work

          Aw, c’mon, a good many democracies have been doing this since, like, forever. Although to be fair I guess it rather depends on your definition of “work” (as in ‘for whom?’ and ‘in what way?’).
          In practice, a voter may be faced with a choice between: a) an outlier candidate with policies they really like; b) one they wish to avoid at all costs; and c) one they can live with, but not their first choice.
          Unlike the current US system, a vote for a), [then c), then b)] doesn’t increase b)’s chances over c).
          Candidates from the majors will still direct their campaigns to what they see as their core constituents; minor parties and indies are free to focus on specific issues (M4A, job guarantee, free public college), and even if they don’t win, there’s a public record of how much support there is for the issues they’ve prioritised.

  7. taunger

    RE: Greens in MA, voting the ticket helped! Next time some Dem apologist gets on me for voting third party, they are gonna get an earful about viable alternatives. Man, I’m might start doing some organizing again, this is exciting.

    1. JohnnyGL

      I was surprised to see them contesting a couple of races in my district. It’s been a few years since they were struck from the ballot.

      At one point, prob sometime during Obama’s tenure, I’d even registered Green just to try to keep them around….to no avail.

  8. dcrane

    “Setting standards for reproducibility in gut microbiome research” [Nature].

    Hmm, an “Advertisement Feature” in Nature, with references and a url that makes it look like an ordinary article. Presumably not reviewed, since a statement at the top of the page says “Advertiser retains sole responsibility for the content of this article”

    1. ambrit

      Good Heavens! The editors of Nature should be forced to research an article on Toxic Fungi, with edibility testing, by the editors. They’ve ‘Jumped the Shark’ with this one.

  9. Rudin

    On the subject of fascism, paleo-conservative Paul Gottfried’s recent book is quite helpful, despite the author’s own supposed influence on the intellectual development of Richard Spencer and Gottfried’s obvious disdain for contemporary ‘anti-fascism’. The term should probably best remain Italian, since it was certainly ideologically distinct from Germanophone national socialism and a lot different from the KKK. Mussolini was, after all, a prominent socialist until World War 1 and saw his own postwar evolution as logical enough. Such nuances are important since today the F-word is used casually in left circles to write people off, making matters worse, I suppose.

    1. David

      Both Paxton and Richard (not Robert) Evans books are essential reading if you want to talk about (or even understand Fascism in any real sense. Both make the essential point that fascism was a mass, populist movement, led and staffed by political outsiders, coming to power, usually by violence, under conditions of extreme economic and political stress. I agree it’s primarily an Italian term, but there were similar movements in Eastern Europe, as well as much smaller ones in Western Europe, notably France. Nazism was a mass populist movement, but its roots go back a long time to the extreme nationalist volkisch movements.

    2. Summer

      Mussolini was also a journalist.
      You’d think he’d be more of a topic of discussion by other journalists – if only because writers like writing about other writers.
      But Hitler stole his thunder with the higher body count.

    3. Darthbobber

      Mussolini’s break with socialism was during the war when he broke with the socialist antiwar position to favor intervention on the allied side. Coincidentally, immediately after resigning as a socialist editor he instantly acquired the money to launch a bigger newspaper of his own. The most common view I find among historians is that he had been suborned by French diplomats, who were sparing no effort (or money) to achieve Italian entry into the war. (Suborning journalists in other countries was, BTW, a common practice for most of the powers from the mid-19th century on.)

  10. Big River Bandido

    Gear Dog. That Bloomberg article on ME-02 puts the continuing dumb-down of news entertainment on full display. Last graph:

    The expensive race had been seen as a test of President Donald Trump’s appeal and shows Democrats can win back rural, working class areas with recruits like Golden, a state representative who sports tattoos on his forearms from his days in the service.

    It’s only a four-paragraph article, but somehow Golden’s tattoos are far more important than his policy positions.

    1. kernel

      The first (?) TV ad put out by Poliquin (the GOP Incumbent that Golden beat) made a big deal out of Golden’s tattoos, which seems really stupid to me. Anyway, that’s how the ink became an “important” issue in the campaign.

  11. Phemfrog

    i am going to finally ask something that i have been wondering for a long time. What is meant by the term ‘Bezzle’ in this context? I’ve looked up some urban dictionary stuff and can’t quite figure it out.

    1. todde

      Bezzle is the moment in time when the person being defrauded doesn’t realize the money is missing.

      First come the losses and the stupidities committed by bankers working for their own self-interest. Then come the rogue traders, unable to ‘fess up on market bets gone wrong. The last to arrive is the bezzle.

      That was John Kenneth Galbraith’s word for the outright frauds – the “inventory of undiscovered embezzlement” – that are built up when markets are good. These can be kept hidden for as long as the lies hold up, Breakingviews notes.

      The perpetrators are in no hurry to be uncovered, as they face public wrath, not to mention the possibility of many years behind bars. But, the publication says, truth will out.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Oh? I had thought the bezzle was the amount of money known by the embezzler to have been embezzled into the embezzler’s possession, but not yet know by the embezzlee to have been removed from the embezzlee’s stock of money.

        I wonder if the time-span over which the money is with the embezzler but not yet known to be missing from the embezzlee could be called the bezzle-span?

    2. IowanX

      I believe it’s a Naked Capitalism made-up word, implying some form of “embezzlement”, which may include bits of fraud, false representation, outright lying, hidden rent-seeking behavior, tax evasion, off-shoring, money-laundering, etc. Modern Financial Capitalism, basically.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Galbraith’s referring to the bezzle as the money known to be held by the bezzler but not know to be lost from the bezzlee for just that magic time interval where the gain is known to the taker but not yet known by the loser, makes me think that the term bezzle itself is referring to the money acted upon as if existing in both places at once rather than the time interval in which it may be so acted upon.

          ( And Frederick Soddy wouldn’t have called it “wealth” anyway. He would have called it “virtual wealth”.)

          Am I understanding Galbraith incorrectly as to specifically what “bezzle” is? Is it the thing or the timespan?

          1. Todde

            I always thoughr he waa discussing the time spand when both the victim.and perpetrator act as if they both have the money.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              hmmm . . . . okay.

              I always thought it was the sum of money which the victim(wrongly) and perpetrator(rightly) both thought they had over that same span of time . . . the time between the instant of embezzlement and the instant of the embezzlement’s discovery by the victim . . . the bezzlespan.

  12. clarky90

    Re The National Socialist vs The International Socialist

    The 20th Century Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) fascinate me. It is difficult to find information! Few movies, few books, few discussions. Even my University Library History section is almost empty. Yet, the mortality rates were the highest in Europe. “Estimates of wartime population loss stand at 25 percent for Estonia, 30 percent for Latvia, and 15 percent for Lithuania.”

    The Baltic states were (1) Independent Democracies til 1939. (2) Conquered by the USSR 1940. (3) Conquered by Nazi Germany 1941 (4) Re-conquered by the USSR 1944 (5) Independent Democracies, from 1991 til present. The experiences of the Baltic States are a case study of History, “to avoid, like the plague”! (Both, The National Socialists AND The International Socialists, a pox on both of them!)

    The History of the Jews of Latvia
    During Soviet Rule (1940 – 1941)


    A. General Background
    Soviet aspirations to include Latvia within its sphere of influence became a reality with the signing of the Ribbentrop – Molotov pact on 23 August 1939. Less than a year later, in the wake of a Soviet ultimatum of 16 June 1940, several divisions of infantry and tanks of the Red Army entered Latvia. ….

    For the time being, the government went no further than to issue ceremonious declarations of close cooperation with the Soviet Union, of civil rights for citizens and of a policy of peace with neighbors. ….. In the place of daily newspapers, which were shut down, there appeared new newspapers, all of them representing the communist party.

    In a short space of time elections were declared for the national Saeima. In theory, it was possible to present candidate lists without any restrictions. In practice, all lists were disqualified, with the exception of the list of the “Block of workers of the Latvian nation,” a list that included 76 members recommended by the communist party. The noisy election campaign was accompanied by festive meetings, concerts, promotional articles in the newspapers and propaganda billboards in the streets. In the course of the elections, the government made some impressive gestures, such as declaration of an 8-hour working day and a raise in salaries of 15% to 20%.

    The elections, which took place on the 14th and 15th of July, provided the “Block” with 97.8% of the votes, and of course all 76 candidates were elected to the national Saeima. At its first meeting on the 21st of July, this institution unanimously declared the establishment of a Soviet regime in Latvia and expressed the wish to become part of the Soviet Union. ……….

    Soviet security personnel planned and carried out the mass exile of 32,895 “disloyal” Latvian citizens. They were exiled to Siberia and to other remote places in the Soviet Union. This campaign was carried out in June 1941, about one week before the invasion of the Nazis. On the eve of the Nazi invasion, the Latvian communist party numbered 5,075 people and the Komsomol numbered 6,215. All other political organizations were forbidden by law, but some of them continued to exist underground. Extensive segments of the Latvian population expressed their disapproval of the Soviet regime and opposed it. Both the USA and Britain expressed disapproval of the annexation of the Baltic States and continued to recognize their diplomatic representatives. But this did not prevent the Soviets from maintaining their reign in Latvia up until the German invasion on 22 June 1941, nor did it prevent them from reasserting their reign when they conquered this country again in 1944-45 up until the present time……….” (Latvia became independent again in 1991)

    More info at…

      1. clarky90

        Hi Jean
        It is mentioned in detail. Scroll down the jewishgen link in the above post to

        “Under the Nazi Conquest (1941 – 1945)”

        You will find much discussion/description of your topic. However, if you can start reading from at least 1938/39 Latvia onwards, you will find a fuller picture of this tragic bloodbath.

    1. Baby Gerald

      About this subject, I would highly recommend Timothy Snyder’s books about the era- Bloodlands – Europe Between Hitler and Stalin and Black Earth – The Holocaust As History And Warning. If your library doesn’t have them, see if they can get them via an interlibrary loan. You can also find audiobooks for both on YouTube. He does an excellent job of explaining how the chaotic conditions caused by the double-then-triple invasions in the Baltic states, Ukraine, and Poland facilitated the mass murder that ensued there.

    2. upstater

      I cannot say much about Latvia and Estonia during the inter-war period. However, Lithuania’s period of democracy was very short indeed after the Russian Empire collapsed.

      After a coup in 1926, Lithuania became an authoritarian state, led by Antanas Smetona. There was widespread repression of trade unions, leftists, communists and socialists, many of whom were executed.

      My mother was a child during the Republic. My aunt recalled everyone was politicized. The Lithuanian Rifleman’s Union was a paramilitary group that were “enforcers” of the regime. My mom even wore “brown shirts” as part of a girl’s group. Her mother was from the border area with Prussia and had German sympathies. Of course many viewed the Germans as liberators; the Balts were to be assimilated into the Reich, unlike the Slavs there were going to be turned into slaves.

      Obviously Soviet repression in its year of occupation was severe and tens of thousands were deported. Given the politics and the impending war, this is no surprise.

      Nazi collaboration was rampant after Hitler’s invasion of the Baltics and USSR. Many Lithuanians were collaborators and enthusiastic with the rounding up of Jews. This family history by Silvia Foti is interesting and unfortunately typical. As brutal as the USSR was in the year of occupation, the Nazis wiped out a quarter of million Jews, disabled, mentally ill and leftists in a matter of months, with assistance of their collaborators. There are virtually no Jews in Lithuania today.

      When the Nazis were finally pushed out in 1944 collaborators surely paid a swift and severe price. Armed opposition to Soviet government lasted will into the mid-1950s and was actively supported by the US and UK.

      Since the fall of the USSR, independence has come at a very high price in terms of demographics. The population has dropped by a quarter (but this includes expats outside the country). The largest source of foreign earnings are remittances.

      The country fails to be honest about its role in the extermination of Jews, memorializes collaborators and denigrates the Red Army in its liberation of Lithuania and ultimately in destroying Nazism.

  13. Steve H.

    > Crossing the Sahara in the Fourteenth Century

    The Water Atlas pdf (Scribd link): One of the most important and beautiful books I’ve ever read. Think Christopher Alexander and Bill Mollison. Particularly entrancing are the solar tombs, “consisting of concentric rings around a mound. They can be ancient methods of collecting moisture and frost and relate to cults related to such practices.”

    “Under the sunny sun, the wind with traces of moisture infiltrates the interstices of the cumulus of stones which have a lower temperature in the interior because it is not exposed to the sun and cooled by the underlying hypogeum chamber. Lowering the temperature causes condensation of drops that fall into the cavity. The same accumulated water provides additional moisture and freshen up amplificand.”

    There is also an excellent discussion in “Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army” on the difficulties of desert crossing. iirc, a mule can carry 7 days of water, so an 8 day desert journey means 3 days out, drop a one-day load, 3 days back, reload, then 3 days out, pick up a day-load, 5 days to finish, total of 14 days for an 8-day trip.

      1. Steve H.

        Laureano exploded my brain with the extent of neolithic water condensation and collection systems. Enormous.

        I’ve linked to Don Lancaster at tinaja.com on energy issues before. In recent years, he’s been mapping out prehistoric hanging canals along the mesas. Again, for miles.

        A lot of work has been done all over the world, since neolithic times, to create habitats capable of riding out rapid environmental change. There’s a lot of wisdom built into the earth already.

        1. Wukchumni

          A friend is a world class spelunker and China paid his way to go check out their caving system and it’s not all about nature & discovery on their part, as most caves have water flowing in them, and the Chinese want to exploit the possibility.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            They might have found it.

            Huge hidden ocean under Xinjiang’s Tarim basin larger than all Great …
            https://www.scmp.com › Tech › Science & Research

            Jul 30, 2015 – Huge hidden ocean under Xinjiang’s Tarim basin larger than all Great Lakes combined … Around 10 years ago, Li’s team discovered large amounts of carbon … The team obtained deep underground water samples from nearly 200 … This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: ..

            That could be the staging point to conquer Russia and beyond, for the next Great Khan.

            1. WJ

              Russia’s Lake Baikal is also bigger than all Great Lakes combined. The oldest lake in the world by a huge margin, it was estimated before the discovery of the Chinese lake to contain around 20% of world’s fresh water. Also contains only species of freshwater seals on earth and nobody really knows when or how they got there.

              So Russia and China again seem to have a natural resource advantage.

              1. Big Tap

                Hopefully Russia manages Lake Baikal better than what the Soviets did to the Aral Sea which no longer exists. At one time the Aral Sea was the fourth largest lake in the world. Now it mostly desert with some pockets of water remaining. The Soviets damned than diverted the two rivers that flowed into the lake and used the water for cotton production.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I wonder if it goes back further to the paleolithic age, and to those still-under-estimated Neanderthals.

  14. Another Scott

    I saw some headlines about Trump’s statements regarding illegal immigrants and the congressional elections, referring to his statements as conspiracy theories. Yet, many of these same sources (CNN) are also the biggest advocates of Trump working with Russia. Are they really so blind to irony?

    On a different note. the Dems’ use of identity politics and reliance on suburban voters left me with two thoughts. First, there is no natural reason that working and lower class minorities share common interests with middle class and upper middle class white suburbanites. Second, the use of identity politics as a determinant of voter behavior is very much reminiscent of Gilded Age politics, when the religious background was key driver of voter behavior in the North (see the table https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilded_Age#Ethnocultural_politics:_pietistic_Republicans_versus_liturgical_Democrats).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Are they really so blind to irony?

      If I didn’t know better, or maybe it’s my tin-foil hat, but I would have thought those same sources (CNN included) were undercover agents for Trump, making their viewers sympathetic to him.

  15. hemeantwell

    Re Paxton, my impression is that he’s emerged as the currently most respected analyst of fascism and deservedly so. I read most of Evans’ three books and greatly appreciated the more immersive depiction of Nazi tactics and sociocultural ambitions, aggressively played out with plenty of at least passive support from the forces of order. He is very successful at evoking the climate of fear and resentment — stemming from Versailles, Bolshevism, the Depression, and cultural modernism — that the Nazis both drew on and greatly enhanced, and he does a good job conveying just how radical their proposed remedies were. His use of diary excerpts is especially good at clarifying the logic of accommodation to the Nazis by frightened middle class Germans who were otherwise repelled by them. But Evans, because he doesn’t seriously pursue a comparative study, really isn’t in the same league as Paxton.

    As far as population-wide trauma goes, while I agree with the idea that it should be considered I think that what put the Nazis over the top were clear and present dangers constituted within a logic of necessary imperial expansion. And that’s what I worry about now, even though US elites have become far more deracinated than German elites were during the 20s and 30s.

  16. allan

    The first rains in centuries in the Atacama Desert devastate its microbial life

    The Atacama Desert, the driest and oldest desert on Earth, located in northern Chile, hides a hyper-arid core in which no rain has been recorded during the past 500 years. But this situation has changed in the last three years: for the first time, rainfall has been documented in the hyper-arid core of the Atacama and, contrary to what was expected, the water supply has caused a great devastation among local life. …

    “Our group has discovered that, contrary to what could be expected intuitively, the never-before-seen rainfall has not triggered a flowering of life in Atacama, but instead the rains have caused enormous devastation in the microbial species that inhabited the region before the heavy precipitations”, explains Dr. Alberto G. Fairén. …

    This study represents a great advance to understand the microbiology of extremely arid environments. It also presents a new paradigm to decode the evolutionary path of a hypothetical early microbiota of Mars, since Mars is a hyper-arid planet that experienced catastrophic floods in ancient times. ….

    “Therefore, our Atacama study suggests that the recurrence of liquid water on Mars could have contributed to the disappearance of Martian life, if it ever existed, instead of representing an opportunity for resilient microbiota to bloom again”, adds Fairén. …

    Wait, so they’re saying that the ending of Total Recall wasn’t accurate? No one tell Elon.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s like the refeeding syndrome (see Wikipedia).

      You don’t want to feed a starving person too much food too soon.

      The same with people who are dehydrated.

      The question is, can we the Deplorables be given support too much or too soon without harming ourselves?

      “No Medicare for All immediately…only gradually and selectively, under the supervision of professionals??!!?!?!??!!?”

    2. WJ

      As if unprecedented climactic extremities caused by global industrialization could have some good side effects after all. The naïveté is quite amazing, given the facts of evolutionary adaption.

  17. G. Marcus

    Re: Defining Facism
    Still not sure how a definition of facism helps, unless its purpose is to facilitate the kind of internal purification mentioned in the definition.

    Just began reading, per the suggestion of someone on these pages, Chinese author Cixin Liu’s, sci-fi novel, The Three Body Problem, and was shocked by the what is described as happening during China’s Cultural Revolution, as though an entire country had gone insane. But the cultural revolution seems to quite clearly fit the definition of facisim recorded above. For whatever that is worth.

    1. Conrad

      I recently read Odd Arne Westad’s history if the Cold War and one of the most striking anecdotes was the North Koreans complaing about how extreme the Chinese Red Guards were acting during the Cultural Revolution. Truly a crazy time.

  18. Jean

    “The Klan constituted an alternate civic authority, parallel to the legal state, which, in its founders’ eyes, no longer defended their community’s legitimate interests.
    Not defending the Klan but “the legal state, no longer defending their community’s legitimate interests…” brings to mind the situation in California:
    Governor Brown signed a bill into law which forces utility customers of PG&E to pay for all the fines and damages caused by their 16 or so multi-billion dollar fires that they caused.
    Now, thanks to N.C., we find that PG&E bond holders will get paid first before people burned out.
    The people burned out are mostly retirees and are white conservatives. There are rumblings and a long history of a proto-sucession movement in Northern California and Southern Oregon; “The State of Jefferson.”
    I wonder if the aftermath of these fires is going to fuel that movement? Hopefully, PG&E will be municipalized, broken up, seized and publicly controlled after this latest and the worst fire of all.

    1. JBird4049

      Californians have been trying for most of a century for that, but always the cry of Communism! stops it. Reading on San Francisco’s failed attempts on getting its own municipal utility is interesting reading. Somehow having a corrupt, parasitic, corporate monopoly is far more terrible than having a state run utility.

      1. Jean

        There is precedence for publicly owned systems.
        San Francisco’s publicly owned Water Department is flawless, cheap and thanks to the foresight of city engineer O’Shaugnessy and the Hetch Hetchy Dam, provides the electricity to run the city’s electric buses, streetcars and even the cable cars powered by electric motors that turn the drums that move the cables under the street.
        L.A. Power and Water is doing fine.
        The San Francisco Bay Guardian newspaper, now gone, advocated for the breakup of PG&E for a long time.

        1. Jean

          Forgot to add, there’s a Rothschild connection on the PG&E Board of Directors.
          So much for your local power company… no wonder the bondholders will get paid before dead people’s relatives and those who lost their houses.
          “Mr. Kimmel is Vice Chairman of Rothschild Inc.”

          1. JBird4049

            Oh, I agree and really support converting PG&E into a public utility, but I am not banking on it happening anytime during the second century of attempts. Californian politicians in both parties have always talked serving the citizens of California but if involves the monied class making less bank then the majority can drop dead but only after they vote of course.

            Now the California Republican Party has ejected all of the sane conservatives and reduced themselves into a rump chapter of the John Birch Society and the almighty California Democratic Party, defenders of that is good and holy, namely neoliberal identity politics, is trying to prevent any actual leftists joining the party.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Now the California Republican Party has ejected all of the sane conservatives and reduced themselves into a rump chapter of the John Birch Society

              1958 was a lousy year.

            2. Jean

              And if they declare bankruptcy again and pay the bondholders first, before the people whose relatives they killed and homes they burned down, (they have a Rothschild on their board of directors you know), there is a simple cash free remedy for discharging damages;
              Free gas and electricity for the rest of the life of the people who they owe money to, or at least until the debt is repaid in kind.

              1. Oregoncharles

                I believe it’s the largest category here, and Oregon has closed primaries.

                The Jungle Primary/runoff system in Cali makes party registration superfluous.

  19. EGrise

    Like those are bad things?

    Exactly. Make them vote against it, or alternatively sink it in committee and force them to explain themselves. Good times!

  20. RUKidding


    Sacramento is rife with red Uber Jump bikes for rent. https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/transportation/article212104654.html

    They appear to be pretty popular, and I believe that Uber has increased the amount available. It seems like a good idea, I think. At least, it seems like a better idea to rent a Jump bike than to (essentially) pay a rip off rate for some underemployed person to drive you somewhere in their personal car.

    I still don’t use Uber or Lyft, but it may come to that one day. I rarely need a taxi ride but do so once in a while. Unfortunately, most of the local taxi services here have really increased their rates to the point where it’s becoming less feasible and fiscally sound for me to use them. Caught between a rock and hard place.

    The bikes, otoh, seem to be used a lot and perhaps are a good thing?? But doubt they’re enough to keep Uber “in the money.”

    1. Jean

      That fossilized DINOsore loser is 84 years old. Ideal for representing the millennials and tweens that are the hope of the Democratic Party, no? Let’s not forget Feinstein who is pushing 90 by the time her term ends–if she makes it.

      1. RWood

        And this in the spreader:

        NOW Endorses Nancy Pelosi, Overwhelmingly the Only Choice for Speaker
        Statement by Toni Van Pelt, President of NOW

  21. JohnnyGL


    Uh oh….centrists unite to keep Pelosi as speaker? Whew….I can’t imagine that would go down well on either side with the party base.

    Sort of comes across as having parallels to Germany’s ‘grand coalition’, which seems to have bought time for the centrists, but failed to stop the continued erosion of the two parties’ base of support.

    1. Darthbobber

      Strongly expect Pelosi to be speaker. It’s one thing for a handful of democrats to “fulfill” their campaign rhetoric by withholding support for awhile (and bear in mind, these are not roll-call votes normally), and quite another to assemble the needed support for any of the other aspirants, none of whom represent an improvement on Pelosi.

      Expect a short, token bit of resistance followed quickly by accommodation and back-slapping all around.

        1. johnnygl

          I’d argue there’s value in organizing and launching a kind of parliamentary coup in and of itself. This is a party that needs more upheaval as it’s quite clearly gone stale. Republicans look remarkably fluid compared to the tightly controlled leadership in the Democratic Party. When you look at the senate reappointing schumer without any transparency or accountability around the process, it tells me it’s time to force change for change’s sake. A new leader is generally a weaker one, less trusted by the donor class and less able to control the party around pivotal votes.

          Plus, toppling a majority leader gives a clear selling point to the new crop of freshmen who’d like to recruit others like them…’look what we can do, imagine the possibilities if there were more of us’

  22. Huey

    Beaker/Dat sounds lime Freenet, but I’m always happy for more options. Hope to take some time and check it out as well.

  23. allan

    Gerrymandering is still a thing: from Cleveland.com:

    Ohio Democrats nearly match Republicans in Statehouse votes, but will remain in the deep minority

    As Ohio Republicans won the race for every statewide executive job from the governor on down this year, something different happened in lower-profile races.

    The Democrats ran much more competitive in total votes for the 116 Ohio House and Senate elections across the state, cleveland.com found in tabulating the unofficial returns.

    It’s a takeaway from Election 2018 that isn’t the usual headline grabber. More importantly, in terms of controlling Ohio’s government, the GOP won 73 of the 116 Statehouse races.

    But the Republicans scored their wins for 63 percent of the seats while collecting just over 50 percent of the total vote.

    This is a lot like what happened in Ohio’s 16 congressional districts, where Republicans won 75 percent of the seats with just 52 percent of the overall vote. …

    Trying to quantify this is just sociological gobbledygook, according to the Chief Justice new swing vote of SCOTUS.

  24. allan

    Asma Khalid Verified account @asmamk

    Walked back into the elections office in Palm Beach County after doing a live @npratc hit, and turned around to take a pic of the scene. Was greeted with shouts of “Creeping Shariah! No shariah law. This isn’t Dearborn.”

    Economic anxiety, no doubt.

    1. knowbuddhau

      That’s awful. It’s a trope of the far-far right. As prevalent as the fears of a Zionist Occupation Government, or ZOG? Thanks to the FBI, islamophobia might’ve overtaken it.

      Either way, quite a few people think God’s will is that the US lead the world into the second coming (either by standing in the proper relationship to Israel, or for others, by being ourselves the Lost Tribe of Israel), but the Devil is out to thwart the old man’s plan, using Muslims or Jews as pawns.

  25. Unna

    So Whitaker got his mind right and learned to love the Mueller Investigation. No sense in firing a guy who probably doesn’t have anything on The Donald & Russians anyway.


    “Graham said that Whitaker assured him that he doesn’t think that Mueller’s probe has breached any Justice Department guidelines.”

    “’There’s no reason to fire him. I asked him, ‘Do you have any reason to [fire] Mr. Mueller? He said he has zero reason to believe anything is being done wrong with the Mueller investigation,” Graham said, recounting the conversation.”

    Well, I guess there is still some wiggle room here and still room to limit Mueller to Russia only related stuff going forward. We’ll see.

  26. Jeff W

    population-wide trauma

    The recent win of far-right Jair Bolsonaro to the presidency of Brazil makes me think that “population-wide trauma” is not a necessary condition (although one could, I suppose, point to Brazil’s record nearly-64.000 murders last year as being “traumatic”).

    Rather, I’d say you need right- wing business élites sufficiently threatened by the enactment or prospect (or both, in the case of Brazil) of left-wing policies and a portion of the working class, in a political system that isn’t working for them, mesmerized by reactionary appeals to nationalism, strength and order and against the existing (often corrupt or, at least, ineffective) political order. (It’s a more extreme version of the conservative neoliberal playbook in the US—the élites support a candidate who misdirects and energizes working people by pointing to “threats” posed by “others” and rails against “Washington insiders” and “the swamp” but who will do nothing for those working people while in office.)

    1. JohnnyGL

      I think there’s a real understatement of how bad things have gotten in Brazil.

      1) The economy has really taken a nosedive in the last 5 years. Austerity budgets and interest rate hikes, inflation from the falling currency, falling government investment due to uncertainty around corruption investigations and knock-on effects on private investment.

      2) The crime is AWFUL. The murder rate doesn’t do it justice. There’s a TON of robberies. One of my in-laws was taking a long haul bus trip and an organized gang had the bus pull over and they grabbed everyone’s wallets/purses. No one in the family was surpised, they’ve all got their own similar stories.

      I think to a degree, the decision made by the elites to run the place into the ground in order to save their own hides and also wreck the workers party has caused a lot of existing problems to worsen.

  27. MikeW_CA

    With regard to the link to “The Slave Power” – Edward Baptist
    has a whole book The Half Has Never Been Told –
    Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism.

    I just finished it. It is probably my must-read of the year.

  28. Summer

    Re: Files are transported with the peer-to-peer network instead of being locked away on a server, so you can explore all the files that make up a website or app.” • Interesting, at least. I installed the browser. It works. The Dat protocol has partial funding from the Knight foundation.”

    Or re-inventing and re-imagining Napster.

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