Links 11/3/18

What’s Wrong with Bananas Nautilus

Nothing like metonymy when you’re at the movies LRB. For fans of The Third Man, one of my favorite films…

Palau Bans Sunscreen Chemicals to Protect its Coral Reefs Dive

Five countries hold 70% of world’s last wildernesses, map reveals Guardian

50 States of McMansion Hell: King County, Washington McMansion Hell

U.S. judge shreds main claim in Parmesan cheese labeling lawsuits Reuters (EM)

How Oil Money Distorts Global Football Der Spiegel



A New Cold War with China? Cato Institute (The Rev Kev)

Trump’s suddenly talking about a big new trade deal with China, but analysts say it’s just ‘pre-election hype designed to make the markets happy’ Business Insider


Trudeau won’t stop $12bn of arms sales to Saudi after Khashoggi’s death because money always wins over murder Independent, Robert Fisk.

A Yemen Ceasefire? Believe It When You See It American Conservative

Trump administration to reinstate all Iran sanctions BBC

Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Saudi Arabia still has many questions to answer about Jamal Khashoggi’s killing WaPo


World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking: Why strong and efficient laws like IBC create a conducive environment for biz FirstPost

A Piecemeal Reduction of the RBI’s Autonomy Will Not Solve India’s Liquidity Crisis The Wire

Children choke on toxic air in the shadow of Delhi’s burning mountain of garbage Eleven of the world’s top twenty polluted cities are in India; Delhi is number fourteen.

Business people as diplomats? An utterly disastrous idea from Jeremy Hunt Independent. Patrick Cockburn. Moi: What could go wrong? We’ve seen the stunning success the US enjoys with its business people as diplomats.

More than 150 Grenfell Tower families still don’t have a home 16 months after fire


If there is a Brexit deal this is what it will look like Irish Times. Cautious take from the usually reliable Denis Staunton. Looks like there may be a full court press on for a northern Ireland deal, with the Irish press itself quiet on specifics. Much to chew over here– too many issues even to list in this brief aside– so I’m flagging the topic and turning it over to the commentariat to masticate more thoroughly.

Imperial Collapse Watch

U.S. Navy’s Costliest Carrier Was Delivered Without Elevators to Lift Bombs Bloomberg (The Rev Kev)

Electric chair builder worried Tennessee execution will fail (Dr. Kevin)

Realignment and Legitimacy

DON’T BE DUPED BY VOTING MISINFORMATION BEFORE THE MIDTERMS Wired Some good info, despite the move along, nothing to see here tone. And no mention of the single change that would eliminate many problems: hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public.

The Memo: Obama makes midterm push to protect legacy The Hill. Puh-leez.

Red-State Senate Democrats Are Top Recipients of Wall Street Donations TruthOut

Voters don’t like ‘Big Pharma.’ But they could soon elect a Senate that includes two pharma lobbyists and a CEO Stat

‘Fired Up’ Voters in 18 States Are Outpacing 2014 Early Ballot Counts NYT


Why Aren’t Democrats Walking Away With the Midterms? NYT

Net Neutrality

This Map Shows You How Much Money Every Member of Congress Got from Big Telecom Motherboard

Public Knowledge Files Reply Comments Opposing the Proposed Spring/T-Mobile Merger Public Knowledge

Class Warfare

Barack Obama’s Great Tower of Nothing: Gentrification on a Presidential Level Counterpunch

Should We Care About Inequality? Jacobin

Housing, by any means necessary San Francisco Chronicle

Are Prop. 10’s Big-Money Foes Making California’s Housing Problem Worse? Capital and Main

I spent the day in an Amazon “fulfilment centre”, and it was worse than I ever imagined New Statesman

Trump Transition

Donald Trump’s use of Game of Thrones meme to announce Iran sanctions rankles HBO  Australian Broadcasting Corporation News (The Rev Kev)

Supreme Court Lifts Stay, Allows Kids Climate Case to Proceed Climate Liability News

Pentagon rejected request for troops to act as emergency law enforcement at border CNN

Judge rules in favor of Trump administration in California federal lands case Politico

Judge denies Trump’s request for stay in emoluments case WaPo

Trump Administration Abruptly Calls for End to War in Yemen Truthdig

US threatens to smack SWIFT with sanctions if it fails to cut off financial services to Iran RT (The Rev Kev)

US Allows Eight Countries, Including India, to Keep Buying Iran Oil After Sanctions The Wire

New Cold War

33 Trillion More Reasons Why The New York Times Gets it Wrong on Russia-gate Consortium News (UserFriendly)

Antidote du Jour:

And a bonus video:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. hemeantwell

    From the LRB Third Man piece: ‘There is a lot of comedy in these situations if you are not directly concerned.’

    Great line. I find that these days, even if I am directly concerned, there’s plenty of comedy to be had, though it’s got a layer of grimace to it.

    1. SufferinSuccotash

      You know what the fellow said – in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

      A veritable Laff Riot.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I happened to see that film in Switzerland. That line produced an uncomfortable ripple of nervous laughter through the theater. (Since the movie is actually about moral dilemmas, the humor is pretty black.)

        There was another oddity in seeing that film: it was subtitled in French, which at the time I could read (that’s why I was in Lausanne). The result was an odd feeling of double vision, “hearing” it in two languages at the same time.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        Forget the cuckcoo clock — I remember this line from the Ferris wheel scene … I remember …
        Harry Lime: “You know, I never feel comfortable on these sort of things. Victims? Don’t be melodramatic. Look down there. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax – the only way you can save money nowadays.”

    2. SufferinSuccotash

      You know what the fellow said – in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, You had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.
      A veritable Laff Riot.

    3. ambrit

      Graham Greene, who also later wrote Harry Lime stories for radio, for heaven’s sake, was, if nothing else, a wry observer of human nature. I have long liked his “The Power and the Glory” for it’s take on Faith and the New World.
      There is indeed a “lot of comedy” in ‘it.’ Otherwise, it would be constant depression.
      On a snarky note; the fall from grace of Harry Lime is a “pennecillin racket” that cripples and kills innocents. Today, that is called “letting the Free Market work.” The more things change…..

    4. KFritz

      I have a couple of quibbles with that piece. I don’t remember Inspector Callahan as the mordant misanthrope that Michael Wood does. And as I recall the music during the tour of the children’s post-diluted-penicillin-ward, it may have been schmaltzy, but the chords were unresolved and maybe even dissonant. If someone knows I’m wrong about the music, chime in.

    5. Jeremy Grimm

      I have Third Man in my queue at Netflix but it’s ‘saved’ and it’s availability is “unknown. It does appear it might be available through streaming — something I am not particularly willing or anxious to adopt — but apparently no longer available as a disc. The Third Man is part of a growing list of classic films in my queue of “unknown” availability at NetFlix. Criterion does have a remastering available, but it is quite expensive.

    6. ewmayer

      Regarding the cuckoo-clock quip – very funny, but as a math/science geek I would like to point out that in the same period Switzerland did produce several of history’s greatest mathematicians in Leonhard Euler and the Bernoulli family, a world-renowned university in form of ETH (where Einstein, among others, got his Uni education), and developed a huge amount of world-leading bridge, tunnel and railroad engineering. So maybe it’s a “liberal arts versus STEM” difference in the respective national characters. In that vein, it is interesting to note that Austria, which borders both nations, has a healthy mix of luminaries from both sides of the argument. And of course the Italians showed no lack of great scientists and engineers – Da Vinci was of course famously a genius in both art and science/engineering.

      The population disparity between Switzerland and Italy may also explain a few things – but not to detract from a very funny, if tendentious, bit of literary jest.

      1. Lee

        Yes. The peaceful arts don’t as a rule provide the dramatic satisfaction that do depictions of strife. What to think about our voyeuristic appetite for simulated violence and other anti-social behavior, I do not know.

  2. Todde

    3000 dead Americans at the WTC and none of them were as politically connected as Khashogi?

    Man the people who run this sh!t make me sick.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Doesn’t MBS represent a wing of the Saudi tribe which doesn’t include Bandar Bush?

    2. Summer

      Reminds me a bit of the whole Bengazi episode. All the jumping up and down in the Beltway when an insider at the embassy was killed in the warzone…people like Tillman and others…”hey, that’s just war.”

      1. Doug Hillman

        Good point. CIA gunrunners matter. Khashohggi was a WaPo “journalist”, an outfit long affiliated with the CIA, now owned by Amazon’s Bezos, also a huge beneficiary of CIA contracts. Is that what this is about?

        I just figured utter lack of concern for hundreds of thousands dead in Yemen, versus outrage over the death of one member of the presstitutes was because disposable Yemenis were an almost-regrettable side-effect of billions in war profits, but Khashohggi was someone our betters might scmooze with on the cocktail circuit. However, if indeed he was a Langley agent, a member of that unaccountable shadow military, that would explain the scandal.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Benghazi was one of those process issues. The GOP couldn’t hit on the Libyan debacle (as they supported the Democratic SMRT war), but they grasped at the prospect of HRC gallivanting instead of providing security as if Secretary of State is more than a ceremonial post since 1948. With the state of bipartisanship, the GOP couldn’t really go to their bread and butter issues when Obama was President. Obama did nothing to actually seize guns or increase access to abortion, so what would the GOP complain about that they weren’t clearly guilty of?

        I do like the Tillman comparison, but I’m pretty sure “unnamed ambassador” or “envoy” was more in use than the guy’s name. I largely checked out as I assume Republicans will say insane stuff on a regular basis.

        1. Pat

          As I remember it, part of the reason the whole brohaha was such a debacle and became about lying to the public rather than really focusing on Clinton not providing the security requested by Ambassador Stevens was that the Pubbies soon found out that they really couldn’t go there. Stevens and the CIA were using the mission at Benghazi to do exactly what they were accused of by the ‘terrorists’. They were getting the money and the arms to their selected ‘insurgents’ and any real investigation focusing any on the security structure there might actually expose that some of the weaknesses exploited were there deliberately.

          But then I admit I automatically think anyone we put in place in the Middle East is really a CIA asset and I might have bought as big a pig in a poke as Russia!

  3. HotFlash

    And the opioid curse is killing even more — here’s a number, 72,000 in 2017. How many 9/11’s is that? Where is the mobilization? Hey, it’s just deplorables culling themselves, so who cares? It’s not as if they were bankers or anything.

      1. The Rev Kev

        We do have a Oxycontin problem at the moment, however, but not so bad as the US. My wife recently smashed her arm up and was given a coupla days worth of these tablets with the understanding that they were only for initial pain treatment and no more.
        They have woken up to how painkillers can be abused and just this year, for example, they stopped making painkillers containing codeine variable over the counter. You have to get a script for them now. Bit more on our problems with Oxycontin at-

        1. Lee

          The one way in which the tamper proof feature proved effective was that it provided yet another unjustified justification for a patent extension for the same old drug. Kaching!

    1. ambrit

      Where is this fabulous Fentanyl Paradise?
      All the hospice doctors are offering Phyllis for pain right now is a pharmacological nightmare called ‘Gabapentin.’
      In the first paragraph of the wiki, it is stated that: “About 15% of those given gabapentin for diabetic neuropathy or postherpetic neuralgia have a measurable benefit.” The stuff is also addictive. Well, if one is terminal, I guess the addiction issues are moot. But then, if this is so, why not get the patient addicted to something that works. There is a raft of side effects of a less than trivial incidence as well, associated with this nostrum. The cost is profit driving too. Per the wiki: “The wholesale price in the developing world as of 2015 was about US $10.89 per month; in the United States it was US $100 to US $200.”
      Read the entire wiki to get a feel for how messed up our pharmaceutical industry is.

      1. John Zelnicker

        November 3, 2018 at 9:31 am

        I’m so sorry to hear your beloved is having such difficulties. No one in hospice care should have to worry about pain. Those doctors seem to have been scared by the semi-hysteria about opiates and they’re being overly cautious with the wrong patients.

        Gabapentin is basically worthless unless you get a placebo effect. I was prescribed it once for back pain and even aspirin was more effective.

        Y’all are in my thoughts and prayers.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          y’all are in mine as well. They gave my wife gabapentin, too.
          my understanding is that it’s a watered down version of the active ingredient in Valerian…a foul smelling root that I take prophylactic-ally before going among the mundanes.
          Valerian works, as near as i can tell. it’s GABA-ergic, which means it’s a building block of GABA, which is like a building block of several neurotransmitters.
          I intuit,however, that Gabapentin is a placebo, and doesn’t really do anything meaningful for pain. I took it for neuropathy(iatrogenic) in my feet for a time.It does have some effect on one’s mood, though.
          The entire healthcare industry is now scared of opium derivatives and analogs.
          given the breathless hysteria, i suppose it’s to be expected.

          on a related note…as in healthcare related:
          We just learned that the 2 companies that put Ostomy Supply Catalogs in our hospital room refuse to do business with us since we don’t have insurance.
          They don’t take cash, apparently.
          Rep told us to try Amazon.
          Free Market!

          1. Sparkling

            It works, it just doesn’t work “very well” because that’s not what Gabapentin was designed to do in the first place. I was on it in addition to another medication for an epilepsy-like condition and my pain tolerance was higher the whole time. Would I prescribe an anticonvulsant to other people because of that side benefit? NO! I can’t believe a bunch of people theoretically smarter than most of the planet think that’s a good idea!

            (My dog was on it for pain during the last months of his life and it worked moderately well… but he had full-blown epilepsy and was on another anticonvulsant too! So even the case without the placebo effect worked out the exact same!)

          2. katiebird

            There is a wonderful Ostomy store in Kansas City. They have been very kind and helpful to our family….. They take cash or whatever… But they clos at 12:30 on Saturday. I can post their number if you are interested

          3. Lambert Strether

            > The entire healthcare industry is now scared of opium derivatives and analogs.
            given the breathless hysteria, i suppose it’s to be expected.

            Having safely medicalized “deaths of despair,” so we don’t have to think about economics, we are now free to peddle medicalized non-solutions to innocent third parties who are in no position to complain. It sounds like a win-win to me.

        2. ambrit

          Ah ha! An anti-testimonial!
          Thanks for the anecdote. We aren’t just being “New Age” crazy. Other people are being just as non-served by this diabolical potion (in handy caplet form!)
          One other person I spoke to who has used this formulation said that he took one, along with a few beers and “enjoyed the buzz.” So, this “miracle cure” not only does not do it’s advertised job, killing pain, but it does do the things it is promoted as being the cure for; it is addictive and recreationally efficacious.
          Are you all Down even Souther from us enjoying an “Indian Summer” too?
          Weather here is ‘curious.’ Highs around eighty predicted for next week. I have read high eighties on our front porch several days recently. I have continued to notice that the longer out the “predictions” of local weather get, they revert to the old mean and that the later actual results are somewhat warmer than earlier predicted. The weather bureaus are going to have to work up some new long range forecast formulas.

          1. Sparkling

            You’re warned not to take it with alcohol, but it’s also prescribed as an anti-depressant so your friend’s experience does not surprise me at all.

            Every time a drug is elevated to a miracle cure it ends in disaster! Sadly, it’ll be decades before doctors figure that out.

          2. Carl

            We had a gigantic amount of rain in the last month in San Antonio, and are just now starting to dry out. Temps here don’t get very cold in the fall/winter months, just variable. We had snow last year for the first time in 30 years.

            1. ambrit

              Yes. Weather is getting erratic, or we have grown up in an unusually placid weather regime which is reverting to the historical norm. Either way, more extremes.

            2. Amfortas the hippie

              aye, Carl. Were 130 miles to your north. More than a years worth of rain in a month and a half…and all the little “Pray for Rain” signs in bank windows and on desks have quietly disappeared.
              Llano River is now a hellscape, swept clean of trees and stones and pesky bridges(“look on my works, ye mighty and despair…”)…folks I know stuck at home for weeks…
              …and we drove through it(once 87 opened) to Methodist Hospital…and I walked around in it because I smoke, and the smoke nazis have won…nary a bench nor a bucket to sit on,lol…
              but my firewood is dry, and the roof is patched(30″ of rain helps in discovering my lack as a roofer), and the maximillian sunflowers are 9 feet high, and the early morning 4am sky is clean and bright with stars and a crescent moon…

          3. John Zelnicker

            November 3, 2018 at 12:21 pm

            The weather down here has been generally close to the historical norms.The intense heat (85+) broke a few weeks ago and the nights are deliciously cool. Weather forecasting beyond a day or two has become almost impossible due to the volatility of the weather caused by climate change. As you say, old models don’t work anymore.

            Which reminds me, we get the extra hour of sleep tonight that we lost in the spring. I sure wish we would stop messing with the clocks. Besides disturbing almost everyone’s circadian rhythm, decreasing productivity, and perhaps increasing divorce and minor violence, most of the reasons given for Daylight Saving Time are bogus.

            It’s my understanding that one of the biggest original supporters was the leisure and recreation industry that wanted people to have more daylight hours after work for spending money on their products and services. /rant off

            1. tegnost

              at the risk of something I’m sure, we are now going back to regular time…do all you afternoon people really want sunrise in northern latitudes to be 4:30 am so that seattle sunrise/sunset can be at 4:30am/8:50pm ? You really don’t want that extra evening hour in the summertime? How many people think daylight saving is normal time?

      2. Sparkling

        Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant that suppresses nerve activity to control/prevent seizures. The idea is that, since pain is a bunch of nerve signals, suppressing nerve activity will suppress the nerve signals and therefore the pain. My dog and I were both on it at one point– he had terminal cancer and epilepsy, I have epileptiform discharges. Its physical side effects are not pleasant but we both had much worse reactions to other medications (tradeoff for the dog was that it was less effective than Tramadol but had less side effects) so that was what we were given.

        What seems like addiction and withdrawal to normal people may simply be the process that I go through whenever I forget to take my medication (thankfully a different one now) for long enough. As the amount of anticonvulsant in my bloodstream dwindles, the brain activity fires up again and overcompensates for being suppressed before returning to the baseline I would have without the medicine. I’m not sure why physicians think prescribing a moderately powerful drug to someone it wasn’t designed to help because of a side benefit is a good idea… perhaps it’s desperation to find something that doesn’t give patients an addictive high. I was about as “hooked” on something that made me feel dizzy every morning as all humans are to water!

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          I don’t remember the dosage they gave me, but I do remember them raising it after a time. still did nothing for the nerve pain(surgeons apparently cut some nerves while repairing my hip, almost 30 years ago. toes burn, which is strange and painful).
          Thankfully, I noticed no side effects…and I never once caught a buzz.
          (Tramadol, on the other hand…hated that stuff)
          They started giving gabapentin to wife after they took her off dilaudid.
          I think in this case, it’s placebo plus mood elevator that they’re after.
          she has been remarkably calm, given what’s happening.
          and she hasn’t complained of pain. while we might give “sugar pills” short shrift, they do have medical uses.
          and there are worse drugs she could be taking… tuesday we go for second round of chemo. Those drugs are scary, and the nurses put on hazmat gear to mess with the IV.

          as for this :”perhaps it’s desperation to find something that doesn’t give patients an addictive high.”
          That does seem to be the unspoken criteria. can’t let anyone get stoned.
          I’ve been taking vicodin every day(except for self imposed holidays) for years. never been high on it, and I unilaterally quit for a month every year and a half or so, and start over on a lower dose. never once had withdrawals.
          I worry every time I see a new breathless report about the opioid crisis, or the cdc/fda/et alia make noises about “fixing the problem”. The fixes I’ve seen would only serve to make my life more difficult and painful, and do very little to keep folks from getting high if they really want to.

          1. Sparkling

            Oh no, I’m very sorry that your wife is going through that! I hope the second round goes well.

            Whenever a new regulation/law gets put in place about painkillers it reminds me of all the stories I heard about how difficult it is for people who legitimately need painkillers to get them already. Gah! You’re right, nothing like that is going to matter to the people who are determined to get high no matter what.

      3. HotFlash

        My dear ambrit and Amfortas, so sorry. Bitter times. As my next big Life Event will be Death, I find I think about which one of our bonded pair will go first, and how it will be. No happy answers.

        Last spring my dad (terminal lung cancer) got morphine, the Hospice Lady taught my sister and her children (all adults) how to give the shots, and Dad took it as he felt he needed it. He died at home and was lucid up to the end: he point-blank and firmly refused the ministrations of the Guitar Lady.

        My Mom, similar situation some 30 years prior, was in a hospital, drugged to the gills (dunno what) so they could take her for one more CAT scan in the hospital down river. Super-drugged her up on the the day before, drugged her up for the ambulance trip-CAT scan-ambulance trip, she only barely came out of it the next day and then she died. I figure they stole the last three days of her life.

        1. ambrit

          With you all the way about having ones life ‘stolen’ at it’s end by Big Med and Handmaidens.
          Phyllis said no more CAT scans or PET scans a year or more ago. The response of the ‘official’ medicos to her demands has been ‘malign indifference.’ Our experience with Anderson Centre was typical. If the ‘consumer’ was not willing to go along with the medico’s plans, well then, hit the bricks. At least with medical trials, the experiment was all. Otherwise, treatment options today are rather monocultural. Anything out of the ordinary has been purely “pay to play.” Plus, surprise surprise, there are a H— of a lot of money chasing quacks and semi quacks out there. Mention Medicare and they never call back. We had one outfit out of Dallas tell us the truth. “Sorry. Our protocol has not helped your type of cancer.” That was a refreshing change from the barrage of “we can help with everything,” claims. This is not a one way street. We kept hearing about people being shunned and reviled for even suggesting a trial for any ‘out of the box’ treatment.
          As for the Guitar Lady: we have been offered one too! Is this some sub-guild of the Hospice Collective? Since Phyl prefers Jazz and Brazilian music, I don’t think any pieces from Wes Montgomery or Jobim are on tap. (Phyl drew the line at Bonfa. I disagreed, but there you are.)

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            When we got married, I told my wife I would buy her a diamond ring, a house, or a trip to Carnival in Rio (not rich, I had to borrow money for whatever she chose). She chose Rio. We listened to live jazz, I played speed chess on the Copacabana (she suffered so, audibly), and danced like the drunkards we were in the sambadrome.

            Phyl sounds like a wonderful partner. Hope she gives Black Orpheus another chance.

          2. ChiGal in Carolina

            Having been until my relocation in 2016 a hospice social worker, I am appalled at the idea of them not offering something stronger than gabapentin for pain. Doesn’t even compute: addiction is the least of anyone’s concerns at the end of life. Pain management is all.

            But music therapy is a real thing, and it’s not just playing music. It is an effective way to manage symptoms, another tool in the box–and a humanistic one at that.

            As one example I have witnessed its power when a patient is taken off the ventilator. The MT plays music (hopefully that is meaningful to the patient by report of the family), establishing a rhythm that syncs with the vent, and when the plug is pulled the patient breathes on their own to the beat of the music. Once transitioned gently instead of abruptly off the ventilator in this manner the patient may continue breathing for several hours, gradually slowing, before coming to a peaceful end.

            Music can also penetrate the painful isolation of Alzheimer’s disease.


            But I am shocked and sorry that anyone on hospice should be denied narcotics. For cancer pain they are the most effective. Gabapentin (Neurontin) is used for nerve pain.

            You are in my thoughts.

            1. ambrit

              Thank you. You have given me something to think about.
              On the music front, Phyl taught herself to play on the keyboard along with some recorded music. This focuses her, as you mentioned about music in general, and helps her forget about the physical pain for a while. Whet you mentioned about the underlying rhythms of music and human body interacting was one of those, “Why didn’t I think of that?” things. As I read somewhere early on; “The essence of Genius is simplicity.”
              I’m wondering if the local hospice workers are mistaking Phyl’s general pain for simple nerve damage? The cancer is growing in several of her lymph nodes. Hmmm….
              Thanks again. Often, an outside observer is needed to clean up too narrowly focused thinking.

              1. ChiGal in Carolina

                it is a blessing to have been of any help at such a difficult time.

                another thing you might consider is to be the squeaky wheel re the meds. kick it up the food chain–typically hospice bureaucracies are very sensitive to complaints of failure to manage pain–they get dinged by Medicare for that. there may be a doc with more authority who will go along with prescribing something more effective

        2. Lambert Strether

          > the ministrations of the Guitar Lady

          I don’t suppose it was an electric guitar? I can see myself going out on a wave of Hendrix. Or Garcia. Not, may the God(ess)(e)(s) Of Your Choice, If Any, forfend, megachurch acoustic, or the secularized version thereof. Or a sensitive singer-songwriter… Strapped to my bed while a grinning mummer sings John Denver at me….

          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            Garcia, definitely:

            Goin where the climate suits my clothes, going where the climate suits my clothes…

          2. ambrit

            I want John McLaughlin or Robert Fripp.
            “Strapped to my bed while a grinning mummer sings John Denver at me…” I can see that as a preferred method of the ‘Precious Neo-Liberal’s Party’ fund raising cadres.
            “Mr Strether. Yes. It’s me again. You can have your peace of mind back when you sign over all your worldly possessions to the Party. If not, no? Ah well. Next up is ‘Brad and Buffy’s Sunshine Happiness Collective.’ Never heard of them? Why, they are the premiere ABBA tribute band in Chevy Chase! Still won’t sign? Ah well. Enjoy!”

            1. blennylips

              Satire struggles to imitate life:

              It turns out the U.S. Southern Command actually kept track of the broadcast and included it in the “after action report” for what was known as Operation Just Cause. (That was the whole invasion. The standoff outside the embassy was Operation Nifty Package.) The document, part of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, lists dozens of songs, many of them with titles referring to Noriega’s situation:

              Danger Zone, Kenny Loggins
              Give It Up, K.C. and the Sunshine Band
              All Over But the Crying, Georgia Satellites
              Cleaning Up the Town, the Bus Boys
              Run Like Hell, Pink Floyd
              Never Gonna Give You Up, Rick Astley (They rickrolled Noriega?)
              Eat My Shorts, Rick Dees (Seriously, Rick Dees. I’d be giving myself up right then. But, hey, it wasn’t “Disco Duck.”)

              The excerpt from the document is below. The National Security Archive blogger annotates the list: “There are a few mistakes in the list, apparently. I’m told by our resident rock critic (and Senior Librarian) Pamela Morgan that, for example, the “Flesh for Fantasy” recording referred to is by Billy Idol (not David Bowie), and “If I Had A Rocket Launcher” is a Bruce Cockburn (not Cochran) song.”


      4. Howard Beale IV

        According to, I can get Gabapetin capsules for way under what Wikipedia states is the US price (and comes in handy for those who has Medicare Part D – my mother had to get a refill for a drug and the Part D only covered under $2.00 – I pulled up a GoodRx coupon and got it marked down by a third….)

    2. Livius Drusus

      Last year it was reported that deaths from alcohol, drug abuse and suicide could spike 60 percent to 1.6 million over the next decade. The number of fatal drug overdoses tripled from 2000 to 2015.

      Could there be a connection between these “deaths of despair” and the 5 million manufacturing jobs lost between 2000 and 2014? Could our trade policies be part of the problem?

      I am being sarcastic because it seems pretty clear to me that the “Deplorables” really were hit hard by our trade policies and this played a part in Trump’s victory.

      There is a very strong campaign among some liberals to simply write all Trump voters off as deplorable racists and to absolve the neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party for their role in de-industrializing America and destroying the lives of millions of Americans. It is much more convenient to make the narrative entirely about racial resentment which is what outlets like Vox have been pushing hard lately.

      1. tegnost

        Last year it was reported that deaths from alcohol, drug abuse and suicide could spike 60 percent to 1.6 million over the next decade

        or they’ll just get really p.o.’d and smash the place, there’s survivor bias in suicide

        1. tegnost

          lots of suicide leaves someone in a similar situation behind, and they may have a different perspective on who to blame.

  4. JohnnyGL

    For those of you who are inclined towards what might be called the ‘Jimmy Dore’ view of politics where you believe 1) the Democrats are impossible to reform and 2) The only path to victory for the left is through a 3rd party, then I’d argue that you’re going to have to deal with the below:

    In a lot of cases, it looks like the Greens aren’t seriously trying to gain power. If you want to win, you’ve got to be willing to punch the dems and be seen to have landed that punch. What did she get for dropping out? Promises from Sinema on votes on particular issues? A sweet job on her staff? Nothing?

      1. JohnnyGL

        Shorter version of Ian Welsh’s 7 rules: “Engage in Naomi Klein’s ‘shock doctrine’ in reverse and do it hard and fast before your opponents can react and get their bearings.”

        One question I might have for Sanders is “Will you use executive orders to do things swiftly where Congress and outside actors start to howl and disrupt your agenda?”

        For instance, I’d like a leftie prez to step in with a declaration of ‘national emergency’ and put a ban on fracking and/or a ban on coal plants. There’s a lot of ways that could backfire, so it’d require careful planning and execution to contain the backlash and maintain political support. There would have to be a contingency plan for workers displaced and customers to obtain alternative sources of heat and electricity.

        There would also be fallout from banks and utilities getting into financial trouble….they’d need to be seized and nationalized quickly and re-engineered to operate in a very different manner.

        We’d also have to be prepared for big losses in the stock market….and to shrug it off like it doesn’t matter.

        There would also have to be some work done to ally with the buy-side of wall street who’d love a nice buying opportunity at bargain prices. Pension funds would benefit from getting better risk premiums on their book of assets.

        Personally, I think Sanders would rather operate from a standpoint of generating consensus among the public for things like ‘Medicare for All’ and pressuring Congress to yield, rather than the above scenario which would involve some more unilateral ruthlessness and is riskier. Sanders’ approach would be slower to progress, but more durable in terms of resisting future attempts to roll it back.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Ian Welsh’s recommendations don’t account for the Right Wing having millions of guns and hundreds of millions of rounds of ammunition. Also . . . having Law Enforcement and the Armed Forces.

          A President Sanders would be wise to go slow and legal. If he tries to do it the Scanner Way, he will lose. And so will we.

          1. witters

            What exactly does “legal” mean in this context? (What, indeed, does it mean generally in the US?) “Respect the Law” and you will get what? And do it slow and you get what else?

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Well then, try it the Scanner Way when the other side has all the Scanners and see what happens.

              Close all the coal plants at once at some zero hour? With no electricity shippable-in to replace all that shut down electricity at some zero hour? When all the people who you suggest plunging into freezing darkness have guns and ammo and the Left does not? If the Left gets “power” with a 50% + 1 margin, while the losing 50% – 1 is the side with all the guns and all the bullets and all the police and sheriff departments and all the Armed Forces . . . and the Left wants to try doing things like shutting down all the coal plants AT ONCE, then the Left will meet its Rendezvous With Darwin.

              Now . . . if the Left were to win with an FDR-size victory, then the Left could do many more things. So maybe the Left should try building towards an FDR-sized mandate and if they get it, then they can do many things. Till then, if they get lesser power here and there, they can do lesser things here and there.

              Now . . . if the Left got a President elected, they certainly could and should conduct a counter-purge throughout the Executive Branch agencies and departments to correct and reverse all the purges that every Republican President has carried out. That would certainly be legal.

          2. Lambert Strether

            It is true that Canadians, like any nation subject to an imperial power, has to know us better than we know ourselves, out of sheer self-preservation. I think, though, that many Canadian commentators have a blind spot about scale. It’s hard to understand the enormities (both senses) if you don’t experience them.

        2. Lambert Strether

          > One question I might have for Sanders is “Will you use executive orders to do things swiftly where Congress and outside actors start to howl and disrupt your agenda?”

          That’s a very good question.

          1. JohnnyGL

            You see, there’s a lot of people….especially in these comments section that think, “Sanders won’t be allowed to get past the DNC and win the nomination.” — I think that overestimates the power of the party. Their job was to maintain her sense of inevitability. It was shaken, but never broken.

            Sanders can absolutely win the nomination, whether the party wants him to, or not. They won’t have such a uniform opinion this cycle. Many of them want to win and may see Sanders as the mechanism to do that.

            What we need to be ready for is all the major players that will try to stop him 1) in the general election against Trump (don’t underestimate an incumbent with a strong base of support and a decent economy behind him). and 2) if Sanders wins, the goal will be to make him into a ‘do-nothing’ president by stopping his agenda.

            Sanders’ preferred way of operating is to enhance his power through activism and popular support. But that takes time and isn’t always successful. There’s lots of ways to stumble.

            Will Sanders take unilateral action in two scenarios…
            1) when he’s got popular support behind him
            2) when he doesn’t, but it’s still the right thing to do, and he knows it

            With climate change looming, the left may need someone who’ll act without congress and with support of, say, around 1/2 of public opinion. That’s a risky proposition. Trump is clear that he’ll do it….after all, he’s ready to deploy troops to the border!

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              The 1/2 of public opinion that Trump has is the 1/2 of public opinion which owns all the guns and all the bullets and all the police and all the Armed Forces.

              If a “Left” can win over some of those gun-owning and Sustained Violence Processing people, then the “Left” can do many things. Otherwise, the “Left” can only do much less and much slower.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I used my mail-in ballot to vote for Green before she dropped out. And there is nothing that motivates me to support the two remaining candidates.

      1. JohnnyGL

        It appears the candidate you voted for doesn’t take your support very seriously as she’s just tried to give it away….for….nothing????!?!?!

        That doesn’t inspire others to join the Greens…that plays RIGHT into the hands of the Dems who like to argue that “you have nowhere else to go”.

          1. JohnnyGL

            I would not be surprised if the dems decided awhile back to keep the Greens on life support to help bury challenges to their left.

            “Look, you can’t go left, the Greens have gone nowhere!!!”

        1. polecat

          Towards the end of the 2016 campaign, I considered voting for Stein .. until she started going on the parade about ‘How Dare RUSSIA … OMG !!’ .. as if that was the reason for her poor showing during the election.
          That sealed for me — I voted for the orange chaos instead ! I have a good friend who voted for Stein, stating virtuously, how clear his conscience was … then .. proceeded to have a meltdown on the phone when is became apparent that Trump had won .. the same friend who deemed me a spoiler, hence stupid, for casting my choice for Nader, over Gore !

          1. ambrit

            I understand about voting for the ‘Orange Chaos.’ It is logical, since his master, Dread Cthulhu waits in the, er, beneath the waves.
            “Why vote for the lesser evil?”

      2. Big Tap

        I live in Pennsylvania where early voting is not allowed so I’m not sure what the rules about it are. In Arizona if you vote early and your candidate later drops out are you allowed to vote again? I would assume no if you voted in-person since there is no way to verify who you voted for. Is a mail-in ballot different since your selection is known?

      3. albrt

        I haven’t sent in my ballot yet, but I will vote for the Green candidate anyway.

        Unfortunately, the Greens have no real program and are not serious about winning. Their only purpose is to allow a handful of people to express their disdain for Democrats, but that is an important purpose given how awful the national Democrats actually are (especially Kyrsten Sinema).

        Even though she chickened out in the end, I am grateful to Angela Green for doing the work to get on the ballot so I can express my disdain for Democrats.

    2. Oregoncharles

      I wish she hadn’t done that. There was a similar case here, only it was the Independent Party (Oregon’s third “major” party) candidate that withdrew.

      Truth is, we often “endorse” acceptable Dems just by not running against them. But not always.

      And the truth is, this year we co-nominated a Democrat for the first time. He came to my chapter asking for the nomination, and made a good case for it, so we recommended him to the convention. His campaign signs are green – and he’s running against an especially vile Republican Oregon Rep. It’s an experiment, but if he wins we’ll have a Green nominee in the state Leg.!

      Working out these power dynamics as an alternative party is complicated, and mistakes happen.

      1. polecat

        Unfortunately, people continue to spin into despair .. with the result often ending in penury, misery, and death, because ‘mistakes were made’ .. many of which, I feel, are intentional ‘oversights’. Seems the positves aspects of what you call “power dynamics” tend to be too weighted down by constant self-interest and greed, as practiced by 98% of the politicial animal. Hope this melding of Dem-Green works out for the better in your state.
        I’m a western Wa. resident, and wish we had representation that didn’t disproportionately cater to Big Jet, Big Digital, and Big Guns (the MIC !), or any other large $$$ donor/lobbyist entity, while throwing crumbs of nodding concern to the ever hopeful. It’s like watching bad paint that’s been applied too thickly to a wall .. running and cracking, and drying ever-so-slowly, as you waste precious moments watching — expecting the best ! … but always and in the end, without fail, you find yourself being sorely disappointed in the results …

        1. Kurt Sperry

          “I’m a western Wa. resident, and wish we had representation that didn’t disproportionately cater to Big Jet, Big Digital, and Big Guns (the MIC !), or any other large $$$ donor/lobbyist entity, while throwing crumbs of nodding concern to the ever hopeful. It’s like watching bad paint that’s been applied too thickly to a wall .. running and cracking, and drying ever-so-slowly, as you waste precious moments watching — expecting the best ! … but always and in the end, without fail, you find yourself being sorely disappointed in the results …”

          Fellow Western Washingtonian here. It is precisely in blue strongholds such as ours that the Dems can get away with installing the worst corporate marionettes such as my Senator Patty Murray the “Senator in tennis shoes”. This will be the first national-level election I’ve missed participating in in probably decades due to circumstances beyond my control, but I was seriously considering voting against my D Rep Rick Larsen (who is a DNC weasel nonpareil–I’ve met him face to face) rather than just leaving that blank. OK, I just checked the voter’s guide for my district and there appears not to even be an R contesting his seat, the only alternative candidate is one Brian Luke (“prefers Libertarian Party”).

          I only wish there were a viable Republican opponent I could have voted for. Not that I share any common ideological ground with the Rs, just that until we can dislodge the imapcted DNC/corporate “representatives for life”, I see no path forward. As voters in a presumptively blue district with a party juggernaut keeping out alternatives, we voters have, as near as is possible, no say whatever in who represents us in Congress. Until that can be somehow changed, Soviet-style one-party elections are what we appear to be condemned to going forward.

      2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Great Job, OC!

        We all need to run a coordinated campaign with Bernie DSA SEP et al in our parish/county districts.

  5. Boomka

    Re: Irish Times Brexit article

    It keeps trying to frame the solution NI border in terms of some kind of customs arrangements. I don’t see this as solving the real problem. Customs shmustoms, as it were. Not only has it been pointed out on NK that border checks are much more than just customs checks, we have to remember that one of the main purposes of Brexit for UK is to control immigration. So it is passport checks we have to keep an eye on. A Polish or Romanian national can travel to Ireland, and then “infiltrate” UK without any further passport checks. Some in UK clearly see it as a problem that they hope to solve:

    If UK wants to control EU immigration, they will have to reintroduce ID checks somewhere. During the Troubles, I assume British army was stationed on NI border to deal with humans, not with customs checks on goods. After Brexit, everyone trying to travel from Dublin to London via Belfast will have to be stopped and checked for ID. The question is still open on where will this happen – NI border, or Irish Sea? And I think this question is going to be the key test used by hard liners on both sides to decide if they had been “betrayed”.

    I wonder if the real reason we are not seeing any progress on the deal is because May doesn’t want to be known as the person who broke the Good Friday agreement; or the person who broke the unity of UK; or the person who went against the referendum and her party and kept UK in the single market. Any one of those 3 things would be truly horrible to get associated with yourself. Simply by avoiding making any kind of decision on which of the red lines to cross, you are known only as a person who attempted to negotiate with your counterparty but failed to make them respect your red lines. The fact that “no deal” automatically crosses the first of the red lines does not seem to concern Westminster, as long as the stigma does not attach to politicians directly. Maybe they are betting that the border in NI can return without real violence, as long as it is seen as “accidental”. Dangerous bet, but I can see how it makes sense in their minds.

    1. Mirdif

      According to what I’ve read on twitter about an article in Business Insider May has been described as “conniving”, “sneaky” and “backstabbing” by somebody from the ERG who also said about May, “has no intention to work with the ERG” after her recent meeting with the 1922 committee.

  6. noonespecial

    Yemen – Report points to discreet and intentional starvation of its people

    Learned about this from an interview with Noam Chomsky at Democracy Now.

    The report from the World Peace Foundation linked below has been available since early October; my apologies if this is has already been referenced at NC. However, in light of the possible cease fire, it may be worth reviewing the evidence and the author’s conclusions. Would be a sign that all is not lost if the report’s findings were to be incorporated into negotiated reparations.

    On October 9, 2018, Tufts University’s Foundation published a report on the systematic pattern of bombing for at least 2 years, and that there is , “strong evidence that Coalition strategy has aimed to destroy food production and distribution” in Yemen. Detailed maps and charts are included.

    The full report is available at:

    As opposed to one apologist for the war on the right…
    Contrast the report to Kevin Williamson at the National Review (10/27/2018) who penned an op-ed that hypothesizes that, “Like practically all modern famines, this one is man-made, a product of politics.” War is a, “proximate cause of Yemen’s current sufferings”. Williamson’s thesis relies on pointing out that, “Yemen is culturally backward and isolated.” However, colonialism does not seem to figure, not even as a bit player. His anodyne prescription is to, “give the Yemenis food”. Then he reminds the reader that, “we (guessing he means the USA) can’t send over an aid ship full of property rights, the rule of law, cultural liberalism, and trade.” So, we are to conclude that Yemenis just need to read up on Locke, Jefferson, Adam Smith, et al., and join the club. And, that present starvation is more a factor of bureaucratic malfeasance. Sure, I’ll buy that for $1.00.

    For a writer praised for his bold intellect, evidence of Saudi’s direct attacks on food supplies must have eluded him. Plausible deniability could be the best defense.

  7. timbers

    The Memo: Obama makes midterm push to protect legacy The Hill. Puh-leez.

    So, Obama is campaigning for Republicans and Trump? Because isn’t that Obama’s legacy?

      1. Richard

        Yes, I enjoyed how he tried to connect Trump to Sarah Palin the other day. As if she had been president the 8 years previous, bailed out the rich, turned 3 wars to 7, betrayed every promise she made.
        Build that tower Ozymandias!

  8. The Rev Kev

    “The Memo: Obama makes midterm push to protect legacy”

    I don’t think that Obama has need for any fear about protecting his legacy. The last time I looked his legacy was firmly lodged at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC for at least the next two years and possibly four more.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      At this point, a vague claim of stopping Republicans is all he has that can be held up as a good.

  9. Wukchumni

    Some farmers say they have been increasing the percentage of fruit they send to China — up to about 20 percent of their crop in some cases.

    This year, none could be sent.

    Tulare County farmer Guy Wollenman told CNN this week that the trade war was hurting their longtime family farm near Lindsay.

    The Wollenman family has grown citrus in California since 1919.

    “We have two bad years with this trade war and I don’t know if we can weather that,” he said.

    His brother, Tom Wollenman, figures the tariffs are costing them $2,000 an acre.

    Nelsen wonders when the trade dispute will be resolved suggesting right now that “supply exceeds demand” for our citrus and worried farmers “will end up with a red ink year.”

      1. JTMcPhee

        Hahahahahahahaha… More likely, will be dealt with as milk overproduction — dump it, trash it, continue the subsidies and “policies” that legislators beholden to “farm interests” via campaign bribes contributions are able to maintain because there is so much other corruption and waste going on that only “interested parties” can keep track and keep their lobbyists “on top of.” Nothing like this,, “as done in Canada” and elsewhere, matching supply and demand per the Samuelsen model with thos enieatly crossing “curves.”

        1. Todde

          Prices must remain stable…

          Although i belive farmers are gonna $1.29 a buschel for soybeans from Ol Unkie Sam this year…

        2. tegnost

          oh and look what scrolling through the visalia times delta gets you…

          FTA…Perdue and local industry leaders discussed the issue of commodity tariffs for the majority of the 45-minute roundtable discussion.

          “The $12 billion in tariff relief has anywhere from $600 to $800 million earmarked for dairy and I would say an overwhelming amount of our dairy producers build off of direct payments,” said Cornell Kasbergen, a Tulare-based dairyman with Land O’ Lakes. “We would prefer export assistance or what they did in the ’80’s, a milk diversion program.”

          Kasbergen continued.

          “If we had export assistance to maintain the markets that we’ve lost, that would be a better alternative,” he said.

          Later in the article the farmers are deeply concerned not only about getting subsidies and price supports, they’re also very concerned about keeping their low cost immigrant workforce and I’m tempted to not say we need latin immigrants to grow chinas fruit or else it will cost the gov’t more in subsidies to keep the free market going? …or something? Oh and pistachios only get a million and there’s no way that’s enough.

      2. Brian (another one they call)

        no, the cost of orchard land owned by real people will go down as corporations step up to buy it under duress and then turn it into garbage by looting everything they can from the property.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      So we won’t be wasting fossil fuels to ship perishable items across an ocean for no good reason other than “because capitalism”. In the long run that doesn’t seem like a bad development.

      1. JTMcPhee

        But… but… we must have TRADE across the globe, at all costs, because that is what human societies have always done, obtaining goods not producible locally by “trading” for them! Silks and spices from the Mysterious and fecund Orient! Coal to Newcastle! Yellowcake and petroleum and palm oil from wherever to wherever!

        Who cares about the external costs? The Emperor, or the CEO, or the Elites’ bratty kid, wants what s/he wants NOW, and there are no acceptable mainstream economic models that tote up the costs of the idiocy of feeding Chinese pigs and chickens that develop viruses that can infect large numbers of humans with with potentially deadly diseases, with genetically modified soybeans and grains from US Supranational “farmers” with good lobbyists and friends in the FIRE sector… All bow down to the Holy Gods Moloch and Trade!

        Mopes of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your Supply Chains!

        1. JTMcPhee

          Another “virtue” of TRADE: All these big ships being built out of steel with all the externalities associated with ore extraction, transport, smelting, ‘working,” and shipping to the “point of use,” used apparently like toilet paper. All in response to “perceived upcoming demand,” and then when “demand” dematerializes or, as so often happens in the world of “GROAF” never materializes, or the tax and subsidy rules change, or the shoddy build quality leads to early mechanical failure or profit-obsolescence, the ships are sent to places with flat foreshores and mopes desperate for jawbs. To be “broken,” leading to lots of releases of hazardous substances into the environment, and of course lots of “excess deaths and disabilities” with their long tails:

          “This is the price at which you eat sugar in Europe…”

          Something is broken, all right…

      2. Wukchumni

        In the race to the bottom during the drought, farmers kept sinking ever deeper ever more expensive wells to get water, in a Economic Return On Expenses Incurred gig that kept their orchards alive, but now they’re getting smacked by tariffs.

        …and they all voted for the winning entry in 2016

        1. JTMcPhee

          Maybe, since most of them are all about “markets markets markets*,” said “farmers,” who I bet a lot of are really ‘family corporations” and suchlike, with tons of legislative and deregulatory clout, ought to follow the market dictates and stop using the extractive processes they use to keep their “inefficient” business models afloat. So to speak.

          And maybe there is going to be some grand realignment of sustainability reckoning, as Valley Farms and similar out-of-place activities run up against new climate realities? But not, of course, before extending and pretending and firking the last centimes and liters of non-Nestle-owned water out of the rest of the larger political economy, to “preserve their farming lifestyle,” that mythical thing that was all but killed off a long time ago. And due to other “market distortions,” resulted in Dust Bowls, and continues to remove the topsoil at a wonderful rate, and gift us all with related destructive innovations…

          Being unaccountably selfish, I just hope I and the people I love and care for don’t get to die of “market”-induced starvation or dehydration, or some TRADE-accelerated plague, or the effects of more body-load of toxins than I and they already have — a “natural death,” as it were.

          *except where ‘necessary distortions, manipulations and redistributions’ are demanded to support their looting.

      1. ewmayer

        Or, godforbid, cut back on their planted cropland and irrigation needs and downsize back toward something less ruinous to the local water tables? But no, we must have exponential groaf at all costs, and continue to support the disincentivization of distant lands from instituting policies aimed at being able to grow enough food for their own people!

    1. Lord Koos

      Wow King county finally gets the recognition it deserves! Those monstrosities are all over the place. Even the more common smaller ones with only three-car garages are horrible. The county is being paved to death.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “What’s Wrong with Bananas”

    So I just finished a book by John Michael Greer where in it he makes the point that progress has a point of diminishing returns and can lead you down a blind alley. Same with these bananas. We have ‘progressed’ so that our bananas have been engineered down to what we consider a ‘quality’ product and by golly that is what we are going to get, like it or not. It was the same with the Red Delicious apples that were grown even though too many people thought that they were a rubbish apple compared to other forgotten varieties out there. Through natural evolution, we are one mutation away from losing the bulk majority of the planet’s banana crop. As far as I can see, there is no resiliency built into this setup and we have a fruit that can have a single failure point. But that is our version of progress.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      It was very interesting to read how the Red Delicious got so “popular”. They are a classic example of not judging a book by its cover with the shiny red exterior hiding the mealy, saccharine insides. On the rare occasions I ate one, I used to think I was just eating a fruit past its prime until realizing that’s how they were bred to be. Blech. McIntosh forever!

      1. ambrit

        Fellow McIntosh devotees here.
        Only one market in our region sells McIntosh apples now. That was the result of a grassroots campaign to win over the produce manager of a local store. We promised stellar sales of the fruit, and by heavens, we supplied same. He sells out each small shipment he gets on Tuesday by Friday. None of the other stores would even listen to us. So, an example of The Market not working as advertised.
        (Our ‘campaign’ to secure McIntosh apples was not coordinated. A pure case of ‘organic’ popular demand.)

        1. Wukchumni

          I planted a McIntosh @ around 7,000 feet 4 years ago, and it’s grown a good 4 to 5 inches taller since. I figure it’ll fruit within a decade or two.

          3 years ago, I planted a Gala in the foothills and one up high, and the one below had 40 apples this summer, whereas the one in the higher climes grew a foot and a half taller, and that’s all.

          They suffer from not enough sun and too many 200 foot tall trees blocking what little they receive.

          1. ambrit

            The best apples we had were from a little orchard up on the east flank of the Lookout Mountain heights in Georgia. (Runs from Chattanooga TN to Gadsden AL.) I never learned the name, but medium sized, yellow orange skin and sweet and sour flesh. Grown at about 1500 feet above sea level.

          2. The Rev Kev

            Just out of curiosity. How many types of apples do you have planted on your spread? You seem to have a wide variety from what I recall from previous comments.

            1. Wukchumni

              Thanks to a deadly combo of gophers & deer, not as many as before, but around 35 different varieties.

              1. ambrit

                For the gophers; .22-250.
                For the deer; 30-30, or .303, or .308, or 12 gauge buck and ball. If you feel all traditional, a .54 black powder rifle will do the trick.
                I don’t know about the gopher, but apple fed deer sounds tasty.

                1. Wukchumni

                  My neighbor is a Vietnam veteran, he was in the USMC and a new arrival 3 days into Hue after the Tet Offensive started. He doesn’t like to talk about the war, and I asked his wife if he watched Ken Burns documentary on it, and she told me “he doesn’t do war anything anymore” and that’s not quite true, as he has a 22 pellet gun with a nifty scope that he uses to send gophers to the promised land from a couple hundred yards away.

                  I might have to borrow it…

      2. HotFlash

        A Delicious right off the tree is — delicious. But they can be off the tree for a long time, and often are, for a long *long* time, and they still look and feel the same. Bred for a deeper red — eye appeal over taste — I ask you! Add that they don’t turn brown when cut and there you go. Look great, keep great, don’t brown, taste nasty — the ideal Apples for The Market ™!

        Hurray for Macs, Cortlands, Snows, and all the unnamed varieties that I forage — I now yield the floor to Wukchumni.

        PS I am totally unimpressed by the oh-so-popular Honey Crisp and Royal Gala.

        1. Wukchumni

          It’s an odd guessing game what an apple is going to taste like after it’s endured the 100 days of 100 degrees on the all cats and no cattle ranch.

          One of 3 Dixie Red Delight apples on a 3 year old tree fell off the other day, and it looked ripe enough, but was an underwhelming apple in appeal. Yet, it might mature to be something better in years to come, hard to say. You have to play through and see what the score is down the road a piece.

          1. Wukchumni


            The best new apple i’ve tasted is called SnapDragon.

            It’s a red apple that’s so incredibly crisp to the bite and you kind of get the idea flavor cells are bursting beyond capacity with every crunch, oh now I want some.

        2. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

          My favourite: Stayman Winesap. I like tart, crunchy apples. Grew up in Sussex County, NJ, nt far from two local orchards, Windy Brow and Orchard Crest. Pleased to see after a quick internet search that Windy Brow is still in business. Nt so hard to find winesaps at the NYC greenmarket, either in Prospect Park or at Union Square.

          1. Oregoncharles

            We have a Stayman tree. They are very good. Have you ever had the cider? Has a distinct taste of almond, although it isn’t noticeable eating the fruit.

    2. KPC

      This issue is widespread including in critical areas like corn.

      This issue is not vaguely new relating directly to GM and chemical or industrial farming where the leaders are in USA.

    3. Lord Koos

      My father loved tart apples, which are harder to come by these days. There was a farmer around here who had some heirloom varieties, he grew one called Northern Spy & we used to go out there and buy a box from him in the fall. Gravensteins are a great cooking apple, also can be hard to find…

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Barack Obama’s Great Tower of Nothing: Gentrification on a Presidential Level”

    So it’s a Presidential Archive, but it will be a paper-free “library” and it will feature an artifact-free “museum”. It won’t even have a connection with the National Archives. In short, it will be about nothing. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Would that make Obama the Seinfeld President then?

    And is tonight’s Antidote du Jour a Scarlet Macaw?

    1. David Carl Grimes

      He was the Seinfeld President. His entire Presidency was about Nothing. That’s why Trump can tear it down so easily.

      1. Doug Hillman

        The great phallic tower is a fitting hollow monument for a hollow man, built on stolen public land. It will be a permanent tower of irony for Obama’s shameful legacy of deceit, like the whitewashed sepulchres holding the bleached bones of the Pharisees.

        1. JTMcPhee

          The thing struck me more as a stylized Ziggurat of Ur. Monument not only to the idiot preening and overweening pride of a worthless ‘ruler,” but the death of a whole nation (and the Rulers here who seem hell-bent on taking the rest of the planet with them into the Long Darkness…)

    2. Doug Hillman

      How perfectly appropriate: a hollow monument to a hollow man built on stolen public park land. I halfway hope this empty phallic tower is built, if only as a folly — comical icon of irony for Obama’s legacy.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        As one of those local folks, I’m borrowing this. Too funny, in a just incredibly sad way. For almost 200 years the Chicago lakefront has been preserved for the people as envisioned by Burnham and Olmsted, and that it should be one of our not-so-native sons bringing this glorious era to an end is a travesty.

        Donald Trump is not the only harbinger of our civic decline.

    1. allan

      Bret Stephens, and the people who hired him, are paid to pay no attention
      to that man gerrymandering behind the curtain. Nate Silver:

      If polls are right, Democrats project to win the popular vote by 8-9 points on Tuesday.
      That’s a lot; bigger than the GOP margins in 1994 and 2010.

      And that’s just the House – never mind the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body*.

      We have minority rule in this country and it is really hard to imagine how it will end.

      * [Offer void during judicial nomination blackout periods.]

      1. Oregoncharles

        Just to be clear: Senate seats aren’t gerrymandered, except by the Constitution. Giving the small, rural states equal weight with the large, populous ones does presently give the Republicans an advantage.

        It’s also worth remembering that the Dems are partly self-gerrymandered, concentrated in cities to such an extent that a lot of their votes are “wasted.”

        1. allan

          “small, rural states equal weight with the large, populous ones”

          Yes, that’s what I was referring to – the total popular vote for GOP senators will be far less
          than that for the senate Dems, who will almost certainly not take over the chamber.
          Just as the Founding Fathers intended: the country must be protected
          from majoritarian tyranny, but minoritarian tyranny is fine.

          As for “Dems are partly self-gerrymandered”, check out the shapes of the districts in and
          around any of the major cities in Texas. “Self” is doing a lot of work there.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Many people beyond the hugest cities still voted for Democratic Representatives until Clinton
          engineered the Great Doublecross ( NAFTA, MFN for China, America drafted into the WTO, etc.)

  12. Oregoncharles

    “What’s Wrong with Bananas” – is, of course, that they’re genetically uniform to a dangerous degree. This keeps cropping up (so to speak); anyone else remember when a large fraction of the US corn crop withered and died, because it was all susceptible to the same blight? Or, of course, the Irish Potato Famine.

    Of course, people in the tropics eat a wide variety of bananas and probably plant seeds here and there, so a reservoir of variation exists. A few of them even turn up in US markets.

    Besides that, just as there are fairly hardy citrus, there’s a hardy citrus: Musa Basjoo. It, too, is Chinese. Grows about 8 feet high and is hardy at least to zero F. It even fruits, but, the kicker, the fruit isn’t edible. (Occurs to me I haven’t tried it.) I don;t know whether that’s inherent, or just that it doesn’t ripen here. Basjoo, too, is propagated clonally; it spreads in the ground like a gigantic iris, though it looks more like a canna. Eventually, it gets out of its place, so I have a couple in pots.

    Anyway, it should be interesting breeding stock. We could be growing our own bananas, but they’d be quite different from the familiar supermarket ones. For one thing, they’d probably have seeds. That’s how you get new varieties.

    1. David May

      Just to be clear, Ireland exported crops, livestock and fish while the famine raged. Because markets.

      1. Enquiring Mind

        Those Irish had plenty of export help from the Brits. Guess I’ll be hoisting a Guinness earlier than usual today.

        1. Eclair

          Yes, they did, Enquiring Mind. Ireland was an Occupied Territory at the time, and the English were engaged in a bit of genocide by starvation on the side, so to speak. Have to get rid of all those barbarian Gaelic-speaking, Roman Catholics, don’cha know. They just litter up the arable land.

          1. gepay

            … when the economist William Nassau Senior (who took over Thomas Malthus’s position at the East India College) was told that a million people had died in Ireland’s potato famine. He remarked succinctly: “It is not enough.”

      2. Oregoncharles

        Because imperialism.

        Granted, our own aristos might well do the same thing. But the US has a long-standing cheap food policy. I’ve heard farmers complain about it. It has obvious advantages in keeping the mopes quiet.

        Incidentally, the English treated the totally white Scots and Irish very much the way Europeans treated Native Americans and Africans. And both the Greeks and Romans enslaved people who looked just like them. Race isn’t always a factor. Greed and power will do the job without it.

        1. knowbuddhau

          IIRC the English invented the racialization of savagery to rationalize their genocidal tendencies in Ireland.

          But it’s been a while since I read The Invention of the White Race: Racial Oppression and Social Control (Volume 1) , by Theodore W. Allen. And it’s chockablock with Marxist sociological jargon that I find cumbersome to read, hence not all that helpful to memory.

          Whiteness, American Style, Allen argues, was imported in the mid 17th-century by upper crusties as an “intermediate buffer social control stratum” (see?) to keep Burke’s “low and middle men of a free condition” onside, and not with their natural allies: pretty much everyone else in the New World.

          Ain’t it ironic? “Deplorables” are a creation of Her Royal Clinton’s class. “They” come from fearful upper crusties only too aware that we are many, and they are few, playing that age-old game, Divide et Impera.

          When the first Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619, there were no “white” people there; nor, according to colonial records, would there be for another sixty years. Historical debate about the origin of racial slavery has focused on the status of the Negro in seventeenth-century Virginia and Maryland. However, as Theodore W. Allen argues in this magisterial work, what needs to be studied is the transformation of English, Scottish, Irish and other European colonists from their various statuses as servants, tenants, planters or merchants into a single new all-inclusive status: that of whites. This is the key to the paradox of American history, of a democracy resting on race assumptions.

          Volume One of this two-volume work attempts to escape the “white blind spot” which has distorted consecutive studies of the issue. It does so by looking in the mirror of Irish history for a definition of racial oppression and for an explanation of that phenomenon in terms of social control, free from the absurdities of classification by skin color. Compelling analogies are presented between the history of Anglo-Irish and British rule in Ireland and American White Supremacist oppression of Indians and African-Americans. But the relativity of race is shown in the sea change it entailed, whereby emigrating Irish haters of racial oppression were transformed into White Americans who defended it. The reasons for the differing outcomes of Catholic Emancipation and Negro Emancipation are considered and occasion is made to demonstrate Allen’s distinction between racial and national oppression.

          See also Summary of the Argument of The Invention of the White Race.

          1. Oregoncharles

            IOW, if you want to oppress people, it helps to Make Stuff Up about how different they are.

            But the Greeks enslaved other Greeks, and so did the Romans. Maybe we’ve advanced a little.

            A lot of the English colonists were debt slaves.

    2. Oregoncharles

      I did mean there’s a hardy BANANA, rather than repeating “citrus.” Poor communications between fingers and thought.

  13. How is it legal

    Re Housing, by any means necessary – [YIMBY Action’s mantra is to build as much new housing — all kinds of housing — as fast as possible. And they’re not afraid to anger anyone who might get in their way]

    As someone facing a very real prospect of homelessness very shortly, (with a legal, over fifty percent rent increase on the horizon) despite thousands of units in stunningly high price, towering Apartment Homes and Condos (made for flipping and renting out) having been built within less than a miles radius of me, I consider the following essays valid criticism of the Yimby Movement™. Do read the whole essays if interested, the quotes are just excerpts, and the conversation isn’t limited to the California Yimby Movement™:

    By Zelda Bronstein Page One California’s “Yimbys”-The Growth Machine’s Shock Troops

    Zoning used to be a total snooze. Arguments about building heights and density were the eye-glazing preserve of planning wonks and people whose next-door neighbors were contemplating two-story additions. In 2018, zoning got sexy.

    The catalyst for the makeover was the fight over Senate Bill 827, introduced in the California legislature by San Francisco’s state senator, Scott Wiener, and drafted by Brian Hanlon, president of California YIMBY, an arm of the upstart pro-housing, market-friendly, millennial-led Yimby movement.

    “Yimby” stands for “yes in my backyard,” a play on the better-known term “Nimby,” the “not in my backyard” tag applied to local opponents of development. Yimbys first appeared in the United States around 2014. They now have an international following. But it is in California and above all the Bay Area where they’re arguably most influential. YIMBY Action, a self-described “hub of membership” headquartered in San Francisco, claims nearly 2,000 members.

    SB 827 drastically curtailed local authority over land use by restricting limitations on the height of residential development near major transit stops and suspending local parking minimums and density caps for such projects. The bill was endorsed by stalwarts of the state’s growth machine: the California Association of Realtors; the California Chamber of Commerce; the California Building Industry Association; the Silicon Valley Leadership Group; the Bay Area Council, which represents the region’s largest businesses; and more than 120 tech executives, including Nat Friedman (Microsoft), Dustin Moskovitz (Facebook cofounder), Marc Benioff (Salesforce), Logan Green (Lyft), Jeremy Stoppelman (Yelp), Alexis Ohanian (Reddit), Jack Dorsey (Twitter), and Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn cofounder).

    Opponents included the Black Community, Clergy, and Labor Alliance; 96 cities, including San Francisco and Los Angeles; and the Sierra Club; along with advocates for social equity, tenants’ rights, and local control. Though it died in its first committee hearing, SB 827 sparked a national debate over urban housing policy, transit-oriented development, democratic governance, and the neoclassical take on housing markets.

    By Tim Redmond A bad week for the Yimby narrative – New studies show that building more market-rate housing for rich people doesn’t bring down rents for everyone else. (see also, the sites Yimby page, formatted: / tag / yimby /)

    It is not a good week for the Yimby argument.

    In a series of reports, studies, and articles, the claim that building more housing for rich people will bring down prices as been challenged, if not debunked. The new evidence suggests that the only falling rents are at the very top of the scale – for the rest of us, that new housing is not bringing any relief at all.

    By Karen Narefsky What’s In My Backyard? – YIMBYs look to the free market to solve the housing crisis. But the profit motive is what caused the affordability crunch in the first place.

    Ultimately, YIMBYism is an exhortation to unleash unfettered market forces to remedy the housing crisis, despite the evidence that the profit motive is what caused the affordability crunch in the first place. Mortgage lenders realized they could make more money selling subprime loans and defrauding home buyers than they could by ensuring homeowners long-term stability. As a result, many former homeowners have joined the renter nation, competing for an increasingly unaffordable rental-housing supply.

    YIMBYs argue that zoning and other restrictions on development prevent the market from meeting people’s housing needs. But the housing market has never met the needs of the poor — in fact, while the latest housing crisis was caused by the mortgage market’s collapse, working people have been overpaying for substandard housing since at least the mid-nineteenth century, well before New York City pioneered zoning restrictions in 1916.

    By advancing a narrative that privileges development (and developer profits) over non-market strategies and tenant power, YIMBYs provide cover and political support for politicians who want to be seen as progressive but don’t want to confront developers. Some YIMBYs are running for office themselves on a pro-growth platform.

    1. ewmayer

      “Housing, by any means necessary | San Francisco Chronicle” — This snip captures the fundamental hypocrisy of development in SF:

      The city saw a 71 percent increase in tech jobs between 2010 and 2015. Salesforce decided to focus growth in the city. The new crop of tech companies — Twitter, Yelp, Dropbox, Square, Reddit, Airbnb, Lyft, Uber and others — all located in the city.

      These companies found plenty of office space. But the new workers were less fortunate when it came to housing. Between 2010 and 2015, San Francisco produced one new housing unit for every 8.2 new jobs. The Bay Area as a whole was only slightly better, creating one unit for about every six jobs. The imbalance helped drive up housing costs in a region already among the most expensive in the country

      Where was the SF NIMBY’s fetishization of “shadows, neighborhood character, parking, traffic, gentrification, historic preservation, and displacement” when all the office towers now housing those tech bubble 2.0 firms were getting built and rented out? Nowhere, that where. The NIMBYs want all the benefit – mainly skyrocketing valuations of their properties – of the tech boom, without suffering the attendant inconvenience of providing decent non-bankrupting housing for that influx of tech workers to the city, and much less for the locals who aren’t benefiting from said boom by way of a highly-paid tech job. Which might not be so bad if there were decently-priced housing to be had not too far from SF, but that is alas not the case.

      At the same time, the Chronicle editorial board – echoing How is it legal’s arguments/links above – has come out against Proposition 10 – I urge Bay Area readers to peruse that op-ed and offer their thoughts.

      1. How is it legal

        At the same time, the Chronicle editorial board – echoing How is it legal’s arguments/links above – has come out against Proposition 10 – I urge Bay Area readers to peruse that op-ed and offer their thoughts.

        First of all, I’ve made comments here in full support of Proposition 10, since I live in an utterly unaffordable (now) Yimbied, Santa Clara County area on testosterone, yet still am facing homelessness, along with others I love. It’s extremely offensive to, not so subtly, align me with the Fourth Estate Chronicle Editors in San Francisco.

        Secondly, I didn’t read that Chronicle piece as at all echoing the essays I linked to, and quoted from, which is the only reason I commented and added those links. Two of the author’s I linked to are wholehearted supporters of Proposition 10, so how could the Chronicle be in agreement with them? The other author, a Jacobin Contributing Editor, lives in Massachusetts, and doesn’t appear to have commented on it. It certainly appears that the California Yimby Movement™ does not endorse it though:

        From the Zelda Bronfein piece I linked to in my comment above:

        .Meanwhile, in November a measure to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Act, Prop. 10, will be on the California ballot. Last January, the Sacramento hearing on Assemblymember David Chiu’s bill to repeal Costa-Hawkins was packed with tenant activists from around the state. Just two Yimbys, representing East Bay for Everyone, spoke in support of the bill. Vehemently opposed by major real estate interests, including some endorsers of SB 827, AB 1506 died. A vigorous campaign led by Los Angeles–based Housing is a Human Right then put repeal on the ballot. Campaign director Damien Goodmon told me that to his knowledge no Yimbys had circulated the initiative petition. Writing in the San Francisco Examiner, Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez reported that at a provisional YIMBY Action endorsement meeting in early August, the several dozen members present split on Prop. 10. Clark argued for “no endorsement,” warning that “‘mount[ing] a campaign one way or the other will be extremely divisive within the organization.’” She also feared that in the wake of repeal, a debate over new rent control laws could see San Francisco “‘descend into madness’”—as if the insanity of the city’s and state’s housing markets doesn’t warrant a hard fight for strong tenant protections. The members of YIMBY Action apparently heeded Clark’s advice: In late August, the organization took a “No Consensus” position on Prop. 10, meaning that support for or opposition to the measure each got less than 60% of members’ votes. At the same time, Brian Hanlon joined the Leadership Council of The Two Hundred, a statewide coalition that purports to be “working in behalf of low-income minorities who have been affected by California’s housing crisis and increasing wealth gap,” and that opposes Prop. 10.

        From Tim Redmond, whose essay I linked to in my comment above, THE REAL CONTROL DEBATE — – Effective controls on rents help local economies — no matter what the landlords say about Prop. 10:

        The battle over state Proposition 10, which could dramatically slow evictions in cities like San Francisco, is going to dominate the fall ballot, with both sides spending millions of dollars.

        And for the landlord lobby, one of the most pervasive arguments is going to be a study by Stanford Business School professors that says rent control leads to gentrification and is bad for renters.

        If that sounds counter-intuitive, it is: A new study released by supporters of Prop. 10 shows that the Stanford study was not only flawed but misses some of the key points in the rent-control debate.

        The Stanford study, authored by Rebecca Diamond and Tim McQuade, has been citied repeatedly in the news media. The Chron give it big play. Curbed SF wrote about it; the official No on 10 website cites it. Politico talked about it. Calmatters called it “groundbreaking.” The Mercury News treated it like gospel.

        You get the picture.

        But the Yes on 10 campaign analyzed the data and found some serious problems – starting with the fact that

        Diamond is a former Goldman Sachs asset manager, while McQuade previously worked for UBS Investment Bank. Their research has long sought to downplay the harms of gentrification, and their work has even argued the drawbacks of building low-income housing in richer neighborhoods.

        Their conclusion that “rent control causes gentrification” is at odds with reality, the new report says: ….

        1. ewmayer

          Thanks for clarifying – not having a handy personal timeline of your past comments, I saw your “valid criticism” comment related to the articles you linked. If you agree with the YIMBY criticisms you posted, what are your specific objections to the Chronicle editorial staff’s piece on on Prop 10?

  14. dcblogger

    Cenk, who actually looks at polls, is predicting a gain of 38 seats for the House Democrats, but that we could actually lose the Senate because of completely horrible candidates

    I am predicting a spectacular night for Democrats. This is a year when a ham sandwich could win as a Democrat. I predict there will be wins that will completely blow us all away. I also predict a good night for the Green Party, even a possibility of some Green congressmen from California. Also a massive turn out by women voters.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I might vote for a ham sandwich if one were running for either party in my state. As matters stand I will vote but much of the ballot I will cast will be undercount. Many of the local elections are remarkably active with campaigning and money spent and just as remarkably opaque as to what the candidates represent after they finish kissing all the babies and touting their long happy marriages and services to the community.

  15. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thanks for the article about the economic and geopolitical challenges facing the controversial new prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, in trying to balance the economic development needs of his country with the geopolitical interests of China, Saudis, Iran, India and the U.S. Tough road to travel, particularly given the challenging and heterogenous demographics, environmental issues, history of political corruption, and domestic constituencies within Pakistan. I expect that his longstanding family ties to the northwest area of that country and the city of Lahore, that he is a prominent national athletic figure and philanthropist who has had success in peace and humanitarian initiatives, and is highly intelligent and well-educated, will serve his country well. IMO we should be engaging with him regarding negotiated resolution of the longstanding military conflict in Afghanistan and other regional issues such as Kashmir. Beats some of the other options I have seen proposed recently.

  16. Oregoncharles

    “The $13 billion Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier”
    Does anyone else see a problem with this? One good torpedo or missile, and $13,000,000,000.00 goes down the drain. Of course, that would be nice for the maker, since they might get to build a replacement, but how about the rest of us? Seems to me even the Navy wouldn’t dare put it at risk – which might be just as well, since it doesn’t work.

    1. Eclair

      Speaking of mis-allocation of resources, the other day, my husband, the aerospace engineer, mentioned the anti-ballistic missile site in North Dakota, about 15 miles from the Canadian border. It was built in the 1960’s at a cost of $3 billion …. and was abandoned after two weeks of operation because Congress decided it was too expensive to maintain. I checked out his story on the internet and sure enough ….. except the Wiki site said it cost $6 billion and ran for only 3 days.

      Sure, that money went into the economy (well, some of it). Engineers, designers, construction workers, programmers, had nice jobs for a bit. But, one has to wonder: how much of a national high speed rail system, or upgraded electrical transmission system, or upgrades for our steel mills, pollution controls for our manufacturing plants, could have been built and installed with $6 billion dollars? Things that would still be running and producing and enhancing our lives.

      Instead we get a decaying, deserted ,pyramid-shaped hunk of concrete in the middle of nowhere. And a national rail system that is a laughing stock, and ruined wastelands of one thriving industrial cities.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Civilian infrastructure and services, like schools, produce far more jobs for the buck than military spending. That’s been established for a long time.

        Personally, as a long-time SF reader, I’d have trouble giving up the space program. I think that carrier would pay for it all by itself. (Yeah, I know, MMT and all that – but that isn’t how the politics work. And military spending uses up real resources, the part that isn’t just stolen and stashed overseas.)

  17. allan

    How NY’s enrollment surge could influence key House races []

    … Democrats saw their active enrollment numbers increase in 25 of the state’s 27 congressional districts since April 1, the last time the state Board of Elections released enrollment numbers.

    Overall, Democrats picked up 158,219 active voters in the last seven months, a nearly 3 percent increase.

    Republicans gained just 1,435 active voters in the same period, a less than 1 percent increase. …

    “The Democratic edge is most pronounced in New York City, were the Democratic enrollment edge is massive,” the New York Public Interest Research Group said in a statement. “Yet the Democratic edge is also growing across the non-New York City portions of the state. In fact, the erosion of Republican enrollment is greatest in those parts of the state.” …

    How well do polling models reflect stuff like this?
    Sadly for the likes of Pete King and John Faso, the October surprise caravan came too late
    to goose GOP registration, so the questions is whether the hysteria will sway independents.
    Tuesday will be interesting.

  18. Synoia

    Obaba’s Legacy

    Obama’s achievements — notably the Affordable Care Act

    Obama complained about politicians who he claimed were just “blatantly, repeatedly, baldly, shamelessly lying. Making stuff up.”

  19. Synoia

    Why Aren’t Democrats Walking Away With the Midterms?

    Because it’s better to resist than govern (less blame)?

    1. JTMcPhee

      “Four hours a day on the fundraising trail… chasing megadonors and suckers for the ‘We are desperate the federal deadline for matching funds is almost upon us our opponents have been outspending us 2, 3, 5 to one of course we do not give a sh!t about your silly issues, just SEND US MONEY ActBlue is great or PayPal or give us your credit card numbers!!!! THIS IS THE EVITA-L MOOOOMENT!!!!!!!!” emails and card-stock mailbox stuffers.

      “Big Money, not political tribalism, drives US elections…”

  20. Conrad

    The oil money in football article could go into guillotine watch. “Wasting hundreds of millions of euros derived from the nation’s natural resources on vanity clubs,” would be a fine addition to the rulers’ bills of attainder.

  21. Pat

    Oh, and Obama, Holder, and the Democrats were also really useless in making sure the votes get counted properly. Which Occam’s Razor would mean they also don’t want an accurate count or everyone voting.

    1. Richard

      Well said, and too little pointed out. The repubs are depriving millions of citizens of their right to vote, and have literal and figurative machinery in place to steal elections. No one apart from the fox audience would dispute that. The question should be: what are the dems doing to fight it? But no one in msm asks that question, because the answer would be crickets chirping.

      1. The Rev Kev

        In my book, denying people the right to vote for no reason whatsoever is on par with treason against the nation.

  22. drumlin woodchuckles

    About the utterly asexual Cavendish banana and its vulnerability to diseases . . . I have read that Cav bananas ( and all mainstream bananas are Cav bananas) subjected to various nutrient deficiencies in the soil are variously vulnerable to Sigatoka Yellows. I tried finding out something about that on line and found this:

    And this:
    In the abstract of this second linked-to paper, I find the name Albrecht, which refers to William Albrecht the soil scientist who has been referred to in the past in threads here, and to the explanatory usefulness of the Albrecht model in differential Cav banana vulnerability to Sigatoka Yellows under different availability-levels of Calcium. And since available Boron is considered to facilitate and mediate the entry into the plant of available Calcium, Boron levels are also relevant. ( I have heard statements in conferenceds from both Gary Zimmer and Don Hubert that Sigatoka problems in Queensland Cav bananas were reduced by proper application of Boron.) I will copy-paste here from the Abstract the few sentences about Albrecht, Calcium and Boron to which I am referring.

    And here they are . . .

    “The strongest relationship (
    = 0.229) between soil calcium
    levels and disease levels was obtained from a formula based on an Albrecht interpretation of the soil test data, which
    includes a pH-derived estimation of exchangeable hydrogen in the denominator. A Chi square analysis on a model
    incorporating calcium and soil boron was statistically significant (
    <0.001). The model combining calcium and
    boron levels explained more variation in disease levels than calcium alone."

    So we need not despair utterly. Plant nutrition through soil nutrition may be used to at least reduce the impact of these diseases.

    1. KPC

      Wow. The initial problem with the banana is the originals (which still exist) cannot be shipped longer distances (export from “our” point of view) as they rot very quickly unlike, for example, apples up north.

      Given the context of your and others commentary, I take it the bananas you know are those you receive via 100% import from your point of view. They are known as “export” quality here in my neighborhood which is not viewed as complimentary as to taste or anything else. They are the junk we send out… .

      There is more to the history which might include United Fruit Company, Chiquita and Honduras plus a bit more… .

      In any event, these things are nasty and often covered in chemicals. So, my recommendation for you is find some other fruit or vegetable in your neighborhood which provides a similar nutritional and, maybe, cultural gig?

      If you did this, you would also make a contribution to reducing contamination via less use of oil, etc. And you would make a contribution to balancing your trade deficit, especially if you hail from USA.

      From our point of view in this case? Your benefits benefit us as well.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Wow. You appear to have totally missed the significance of my comment, namely that certain plant diseases can be managed by proper plant nutrition through proper soil nutrition.

        You do, however, bring up some very fascinating utterly-irrelevant side-issues.

        First, about the Cav Banana itself, I have on occasion seen different and better bananas . . . allegedly “organic” for sale in our Co-Op for a year or two, many years ago. Little red ones. They were good . . . a little sweeter than Big Cav and with a distinct aromatic flavoroma.

        Which brings up “trade” and “deficits”. Importing bananas could well be called “legitimate trade” in that bananas are something which can not be grown in America. If we want them, we will have to buy them. ” Illegitimate trade” is importing things which could be made or grown here and which indeed WERE made or grown here before the International Free Trade Conspiracy re-wrote economic and trade policy against the whole world. And most of our Trade Deficit is due to “illegitimate trade”. Abandoning and quitting all the Free Trade Agreements and Treaties would set America free to re-impose rigid Protectionism against Free Trade Aggression. Behind that Electrified Triple-Strand Poison-barb-tipped Razor Wire Fence of Protection, America could re-develop the domestic industries which were all destroyed by the International Free Trade Conspirators. Americans are smart enough to make a fork. Or a knife. Or a spoon. Or a pickle jar. Or a pair of shoes.

        In terms of nutritional similarity, the potato might be a partial stand-in for the banana from a potassium-supply standpoint. But for tropical-seeming fruitiness, we would probably have to work with the pawpaw ( Asimina triloba). And “using less oil” is always a worthwhile spiritual discipline, even if the actual amount saved is very small. It could prepare us for bigger savings in bigger ways in bigger places.

  23. Synoia

    US threatens to smack SWIFT with sanctions if it fails to cut off financial services to Iran

    Be interesting if Swift cut off the US.

    When I was with Swift, settlement, was performed by the Bank of International Settlements.

    Their network was analog phone lines. In this day and age I don’t understand the difficulty of implementing a second ‘Virtual Swift” over the internet, with a very secure form of email. Encrypted messages, two factor security, over encrypted internet connections, using the existing Swift message format.

    Is this still the case?

  24. Synoia

    Are Prop. 10’s Big-Money Foes Making California’s Housing Problem Worse?

    First, new housing in California is not “affordable.” It is either remote, far from jobs, or expensive.

    Poor people live in old houses, or old condos, or apartments. Old houses in CA are those built before WW II, through the 1950s.

    The new slumlords, the big “private equity” people are the one who want to get the maximum price for the homes they bought in bulk in the great recession. The trick is to read the TV ad from the bottom up, to see the funding before the ad disappears.

  25. tegnost

    those who picked northern virginia may have been correct

    FTA…At a conference in New York on Thursday, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos told the crowd: “Ultimately the decision will be made with intuition after gathering and studying a lot of data – for a decision like that, as far as I know, the best way to make it is you collect as much data as you can, you immerse yourself in that data but then you make the decision with your heart.” (Bezos also owns The Washington Post)

    so he’s outsourcing the decision, then?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      He may well be doing some “pattern recognition” decision making. If several places are equally good just on the numbers, then one does indeed have to let the deeper brain grind the numbers around together with other things . . . till the deeper brain has an answer which it then hands up to the shallower awareness.

    2. Big Tap

      I thought northern Virginia from beginning would be the choice. Amazon is more than ever part of the government with their military cloud service and CIA contracts and wants even more of that work. They would like a second headquarters to be close to the center of power Washington D.C. Amazon is basically a cheap labor non-union operation similar to Walmart. I’m sure that Amazon’s main requirement is a ‘right to work’ state. The only choice near Washington D.C. that’s a ‘right to work’ state is northern Virginia. Washington D.C. and northern Maryland are too labor friendly and are disqualified for that reason alone.

  26. The Rev Kev


    I think that Khan, being an ex-international cricketer, has just bowled China a googly.

Comments are closed.