2:00PM Water Cooler 12/21/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

*** Ruth Bader Ginsburg Health Update: Supreme Court Justice Has Cancerous Lung Growths Removed ***


They issue press releases:

“How to fix America’s dysfunctional trade system” [Ryan Cooper, The Week]. “Timothy Meyer and Ganesh Sitaraman at the Great Democracy Initiative have a new paper that presents a solid starting point for developing a fundamental reform of American trade structure…. Then there is the problem of pro-rich bias. Put simply, the last few decades of trade deals have been outrageously biased towards corporations and the rich. They have powerfully enabled the growth of parasitic tax havens, which allow companies to book profits in low-tax jurisdictions, starving countries of rightful revenue (and often leading to companies piling up gargantuan dragon hoards of cash they don’t know what to do with). Corporations, meanwhile, have gotten their own fake legal system in the form of Investor-State Dispute Settlement trade deal stipulations…. Meyer and Sitaraman suggest renegotiating the tax portions of trade deals to enforce a “formulary” tax system — in which profits are taxed where they are made, not where they are booked.” • This is well worth a read for all the policy suggestions. And then there’s this:

[F]or all its other disastrous side effects, Trump’s haphazard tax on aluminum has dramatically revived the American aluminum industry. Ensuring a reasonable domestic supply of key metals like that is so obviously a security concern — for military and consumer uses alike — that it wouldn’t have even occurred to New Deal policymakers to think otherwise. It takes a lot of ideological indoctrination to think there’s no problem when a small price disadvantage causes a country to lose its entire supply chain of key industrial commodities.



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


“The Democratic Party Is Getting Ready for a Very Messy 2020 Primary Race” [New York Magazine]. “The basic debate schedule itself acknowledges the likely massive field, and the potential for a drawn-out scrap for delegates that will ultimately determine the nomination. Perez said the first debate will be held in June 2019 — earlier than Republicans’ late-summer kickoff in 2015 — and the last one is scheduled for April 2020 — deep into the primary calendar, once the early-voting states and Super Tuesday have passed, and by which point the field is (usually) much winnowed. Perhaps not this time.”

“Critics Say Bernie Sanders Is Too Old, Too White, and Too Socialist to Run for President in 2020. They’re Wrong.” [The Intercept]. “Despite refusing to join the Democrats in the wake of the 2016 election, the party’s base still adores him. As of October 2018, he had a whopping 78 percent approval rating with Democratic voters.” • Yeah, but who cares about them?

2018 Post Mortem

“Americans Actually Voted in the 2018 Midterms” [Bloomberg]. • These are very interesting charts, but marred by being two-dimensional. It’s really absurd to put AOC and CIA asset Spanberger in the same blue box, or consider them both “left.”

Mattis Flap

Let The Hagiography Begin (1):

Let The Hagiography Begin (2):

Breath of Sanity (1): “Random Observation” [Eschaton]. “Whatever the brain worms are telling him, I’m pretty sure that I’d generally prefer Donald Trump be running Not War instead of War, almost no matter what.”

Breath of Sanity (2):

Breath of Sanity (3):

“How the Trump-Mattis alliance crumbled” [CNN]. “Eight months before his resignation, Mattis managed to forestall the Syria troop withdrawal after the President announced during a rally in Ohio that US troops would soon be coming home. Meeting later in the Situation Room, Trump told his military and national security advisers they had six months to wrap up the mission in Syria.” • Interesting…

“Fear Mounts as Mattis Quits Pentagon” [Daily Beast] • And fear means clicks!

New Cold War

“Prosecutors win court fight over secret subpoena of a foreign company” [WaPo]. “A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday against a foreign company embroiled in a secret subpoena fight… Officials have not confirmed who the prosecutors on the case are, but on the day the court order under appeal was issued, two lawyers were observed exiting a sealed hearing before Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia — who oversees grand-jury proceedings — along with five prosecutors with the special counsel’s office, including appellate specialist Michael Dreeben… The framing of the debate suggests that whatever the company is, it is not one that has a significant business presence in the United States, because foreign firms operating in America typically comply with demands from U.S. authorities for evidence.” • Hmm.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Democrats Just Blocked Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Push For A Green New Deal Committee” [HuffPo]. “Democratic leaders [***cough*** Pelosi ***cough***] on Thursday tapped Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) to head a revived U.S. House panel on climate change, all but ending a dramatic monthlong effort to establish a select committee on a Green New Deal. Castor’s appointment came as a surprise to proponents of a Green New Deal. … Despite weeks of protests demanding House Democrats focus efforts next year on drafting a Green New Deal, the sort of sweeping economic policy that scientists say matches the scale of the climate crisis, Castor told E&E News the plan was “not going to be our sole focus.” She then suggested that barring members who have accepted donations from the oil, gas and coal industries from serving on the committee could be unconstitutional. “I don’t think you can do that under the First Amendment, really,” she said.” • Cool. Liberals totally on board with Citizens United. I don’t think this appointment is the end of the issue.

“Liberals No Longer Feel Your Pain” [Ted Rall, Counterpunch]. “I noticed the de-empathification of the Democratic Party during the implementation of Obamacare. I lived in one of many counties with zero or one plan on offer…. On Facebook I complained about the paucity of affordable plans in my online health insurance marketplace. “I don’t know what you’re going on about,” one of my friends snarked. ‘I found an excellent, affordable plan.’ My friend lives in Manhattan… In the 1970s right-wing Republicans like Richard Nixon promoted the cliché of the “limousine liberal”: self-righteous, hypocritical, privileged and disconnected from Joe and Jane Sixpack. I don’t know if it was true then. It certainly is now.” • Falling life expectancy in flyover isn’t even on liberal Democrat radar as a policy issue.

“Do America’s Socialists Have a Race Problem?” [The New Republic]. The deck: “Inside a raging debate that has split the country’s most exciting new political movement.” The paragraph that caught my eye: “In one notable dispute, a brake light repair initiative in the [Momentum (democratic centralist?)] East Bay DSA was flatly rejected by the chapter’s co-chairs, who refused to put it up for a vote. The repair clinics first sprouted in New Orleans as a strategy to combat police brutality, as people of color are often pulled over for problems as innocuous as broken taillights. These traffic stops can even lead to—as in the case of Philando Castile—killings by the police. While DSA chapters across the country soon began replicating the program, and embraced it as an effective way to build a stronger working-class base, East Bay leadership remained strongly resistant to the campaign. In a private conversation, one East Bay co-chair insinuated to a member of color organizing the clinic that it would look like ‘white saviorism.’ A former member of the chapter’s leadership referred to it as ‘charity’ in a blog post.” • Well, that’s just dumb. Super dumb. FWIW, I thought the headline was a bit clickbaity, and the author, though writing in good faith, probably missed plenty of local nuance. That said: (1) America’s socialists have a problem with race, because America does; and (2) America’s socialists also have a problem with class, for the same reason, and (3) the Democrat Party has a substantial presence among aspirational policy entrepreneurs of color, shall we say, who have their own strongly felt institutional objectives. Worth noting that back in the 30s, the CPUSA was one of very few institutions to defend the Scottsboro Boys (the NAACP being the other). So it’s not like there’s no heritage here to build on.

Stats Watch

GDP, Q3 2018: “The third quarter was a strong one for the economy, getting a boost from an overdue inventory build but driven once again by the most important factor and that is consumer spending” [Econintersect]. “Whether continued strength for the consumer can be expected in the fourth quarter will get an indication later this morning with the personal income and outlays report for November.”

Personal Income and Outlays, November 2018: “November was a mixed month for the consumer as personal income managed only a lower-than-expected … gain which is offset, however, by a solid and higher-than-expected … rise for consumer spending” [Econintersect]. “November was a mixed month for the consumer as personal income managed only a lower-than-expected 0.2 percent gain which is offset, however, by a solid and higher-than-expected 0.4 percent rise for consumer spending.”

Durable Goods Orders, November 2018: “A swing higher for the always volatile aircraft group gave an outsized lift to durable goods orders” [Econoday]. “The biggest disappointment, and the heart of the capital goods group, is machinery where November orders sank a very steep 1.7 percent.” • Not good, in a capitalist economy.

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, December 2018: “This morning’s durable goods report proved no better than mixed as have many of the recent regional manufacturing reports including Kansas City’s composite index for December which slowed” [Econintersect]. “And flattening is a reasonable description for the nation’s factory sector in general, ending what was a strong 2018 with a bit of fizzle.”

Consumer Sentiment, December 2018 (Final): “Consumer sentiment ends this month at a stronger-than-expected index level” [Econintersect]. “The feeling of this report is very much like personal income and outlays, hinting at consumer spending strength at a time of limited income growth and very flat inflation.”

Corporate Profits, Q3 2018: “After-tax corporate profits rose a year-on-year 6.1 percent” [Econintersect].

The Bezzle: “Wall Street’s Billionaire Machine, Where Almost Everyone Gets Rich” [Bloomberg]. “Eric Smidt is a new kind of super-rich. He made his fortune by transforming an old-fashioned business into a giant ATM, an overhaul aided by one of the hottest plays on Wall Street: collateralized loan obligations. Meet the new aristocrats of debt—the people and companies cashing in on a record boom in these once-marginal investments whose relatively high returns have attracted yield-hungry investors. They’ve fueled a rapid buildup in corporate debt that some think could become the epicenter of the next credit crisis but has been minting money for many.” • Oh.

The Bezzle: “Personally I’ve Never Experienced Anything Like That” [Current Affairs]. “Amazon pays employees specifically to tweet that they are well-treated and not exploited. And they’re very vigilant—I recently wrote an article pondering the ethical quandary of shopping at Amazon while being critical of its labor practices, and the very same “Fulfillment Center Ambassador” from one of the news articles about the practice (“Phil”) popped up to tell me that he himself feels he is treated fairly…. [A]ssuming they are people and not robots (however much Amazon is intent on blurring the distinction between those two categories), and they are treated well and sincere in relating their positive experiences, I think it’s worth pointing out the very simple problem with what they’re saying. ‘I have not experienced this problem personally’ does not make a very good case that ‘This problem is not experienced by others.'”

The Bezzle: “Uber’s entire business model is in jeopardy after losing its latest legal battle over the rights of UK drivers” [Business Insider]. “Uber has lost its latest court bid to stop its British drivers being classified as workers, entitling them to rights such as the minimum wage, in a decision which jeopardizes the taxi app’s business model…. Uber said it would appeal the verdict, meaning the legal process will continue.”

The 420

“The world’s biggest beer company is looking at making cannabis drinks” [CNN]. “Could Budweiser drinkers soon be swapping beer for pot? AB InBev (BUD), the world’s biggest brewer, said Wednesday that it’s teaming up with Canada’s Tilray (TLRY) to research cannabis-infused drinks. It’s the latest major company to start exploring the pot market following decisions to legalize recreational marijuana in Canada and a number of American states. AB InBev and Tilray will invest a combined $100 million into researching non-alcoholic drinks containing cannabis elements.” • My vision of marijuana legalization was always small, local growers and no corporate advertising. Oh well.

“Pot Unites Democrats, Republicans as Ex-Party Chiefs Join Tilray” [Bloomberg]. “Tilray Inc., the first cannabis company to list directly on a U.S. exchange, announced Thursday the formation of a 10-person advisory board including Howard Dean, a former presidential candidate and chairman of the Democratic National Committee between 2005 and 2009, and Michael Steele, head of the Republican National Committee from 2009 to 2011.”


“What a Newfound Kingdom Means for the Tree of Life” [Quanta]. “The tree of life just got another major branch. Researchers recently found a certain rare and mysterious microbe called a hemimastigote in a clump of Nova Scotian soil. Their subsequent analysis of its DNA revealed that it was neither animal, plant, fungus nor any recognized type of protozoan — that it in fact fell far outside any of the known large categories for classifying complex forms of life (eukaryotes). Instead, this flagella-waving oddball stands as the first member of its own ‘supra-kingdom’ group, which probably peeled away from the other big branches of life at least a billion years ago…. Impressive as this finding about hemimastigotes is on its own, what matters more is that it’s just the latest (and most profound) of a quietly and steadily growing number of major taxonomic additions. Researchers keep uncovering not just new species or classes but entirely new kingdoms of life — raising questions about how they have stayed hidden for so long and how close we are to finding them all.” • Like Hollywood, nobody knows anything. Or at least not much. Although I have known some flagella-waving oddballs, generally in corporate environments…

“Widespread, occasional use of antibiotics in U.S. linked with resistance” [Harvard School of Public Health] (original). “The increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistance in the U.S. appears more closely linked with their occasional use by many people than by their repeated use among smaller numbers of people, according to a large new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health…. ‘Our findings suggest that combatting inappropriate antibiotic use among people who don’t take many antibiotics may be just as important, or more important, to fighting resistance than focusing on high-intensity users,’ said lead author Scott Olesen, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. ‘More antibiotic use generally means more antibiotic resistance, but it seems like the number of people taking antibiotics might matter more than the amount they’re taking.'”

Police State Watch

“Alabama police department blames Satan for spike in homicides” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]. This was the now-deleted Facebook post from the Opp Police Department:


I am successfully resisting my urge to mock (well, except for the ALL CAPS) because of the multiple levels of tragedy: So many deaths in a small town, and the evident inablility of the local elites to cope. And it’s not any more crazypants than what you hear from a typical neoliberal economist. Just no pseudo-mathematics.

Class Warfare

“Is It Merely A Labor Supply Shock? Impacts of Syrian Migrants on Local Economies in Turkey” (PDF) [Doruk Cengiz, Hasan Tekguc, Political Economy Research Institute]. “We use a large and geographically varying inflow of over 2.5 million Syrian migrants in Turkey between 2012 and 2015 to study the effect of migration on local economies. We do not find adverse employment or wage effects for native-born Turkish workers overall, or those without a high school degree. These results are robust to a range of strategies to construct reliable control groups. Our analysis suggests that migration-induced increases in regional demand, capital supply, and productivity enable local labor markets to absorb inflow of migrant labor.” • Contra post-Mariel studies of Florida.

Xmas Cheer

“Hackers Celebrate Holidays With Fake Amazon, Apple Receipt Attacks” [NewYork Magazine]. “You get an email about an order from Amazon or Apple you’re not quite sure you placed — but who knows in the last-minute rush to make the Christmas deadline? You click through to see what exactly you ordered, and congrats, you’ve just got spear-phished. Happy holidays! Two recent phishing attacks outlined over at Bleeping Computer, work slightly differently but use the same basic principle to lure users in: send them a receipt for a purchase, get them to click through to a link to see what the purchase was for, and then hope the user makes some unwise choices.” • Stay safe out there!

News of the Wired

“The intertwined quest for understanding biological intelligence and creating artificial intelligence” [Stanford HAI]. “Thus both neuroscience and AI have deeply shared scientific goals of understanding how network performance and decision making arises as an emergent property of network connectivity and dynamics. Therefore the development of ideas and theories from theoretical neuroscience, and applied physics and mathematics could help in analyzing AI systems. Moreover, the behavior of AI systems could change the nature of experimental design in neuroscience, focusing the experimental effort on those aspects of network function that are poorly understood in AI. Overall, there is much to be gained from tighter connections between neuroscience, AI, and many other theoretical disciplines, which could bring about unified laws for the emergence of intelligence in biological and artificial systems alike, as we suggest next.” • If we really understood biological intelligence — the epigraph for the article is from Richard Feynman: “What I cannot create, I do not understand” — would handing that understanding over to, say, Jeff Bezos be a good thing? Why?

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (4Corners):

Everything is still sunny inTucson, AZ! I love floral tapestries like this, made up of different colors and textures.

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. gary

    “Pot Unites Democrats, Republicans as Ex-Party Chiefs Join Tilray”

    MONEY Unites Democrats, Republicans as Ex-Party Chiefs Join Tilray…

    Ha ha!

    1. DonCoyote

      America hadn’t really been suited for its long and tiresome role as the Last Superpower, the World’s Policeman. As a patriotic American, Oscar was quite content to watch other people’s military coming home in boxes for a while. The American national character wasn’t suited for global police duties. It never had been. Tidy and meticulous people such as the Swiss and the Swedes were the types who made good cops. America was far better suited to be the World’s Movie Star. The world’s tequila-addled pro-league bowler. The world’s acerbic, bipolar stand-up comedian. Anything but a somber and tedious nation of socially responsible centurions.

      Distraction, Bruce Sterling

    2. JTMcPhee

      Cops on the beat kill mopes, forfeit or just steal their stuff, take bribes, cover up their corruption and crimes, demolish communities, serve and protect the wealthy, stuff like that. So I guess personifying the Empire as “the wotld’s beat cop” has a certain validity.

      1. Wukchumni

        The whole world was in our dragnet, nice little mineral rich country you got there, it’d be shame if sum’tin were to happen to it.

        …meanwhile Guido is getting foreclosed on

    3. Geo

      In the annual poll for “greatest threat to global peace” the United States is the reigning champ placing #1 every year. We’re also in the top 10 (and only Western nation) on the list of most dangerous counties for women.

      Russia isn’t on the top 10 of either list.

      Yet, we still see ourselves as the global savior and Russia as the real evil.

      America needs to invest in mirrors more than military.

  2. ProNewerDeal

    It has been over 2 years since the 2016 D Primary was rigged by HClinton/DNC. Is there a thorough, sourced, comprehensive article or book which details said rigging?

    I feel like this is a huge event in US history & politics, that risks being lost with time.

    1. noonespecial

      Re: Is there a thorough, sourced, comprehensive article or book which details said rigging?

      The following link may not be an all inclusive report, but it does shed some light on the issue raised by your question. It was published by Election Justice USA.


      From the executive summary of the report:
      The widespread and illegal efforts to manipulate the election results in the 2016 Democratic Party primaries are not the only visible indications of election fraud. EJUSA has also identified irregular patterns in precinct-level Democratic vote tallies which are strongly suggestive of electronic voting machine tampering. In all eleven primaries where discrepancies between exit polling and official results exceeded the margin of error, the discrepancy favored Hillary Clinton. ‘Democracy Lost’ (partial title of report) treats the controversy over exit polling discrepancies with in-depth argumentation and statistical regression analysis.

      This report supplies additional evidence supporting the notion that unverified computer counts incorrectly tabulated the votes in the Democratic Party primaries. EJUSA analyzed precinct-level results in the largest counties by population for 35 of 36 Democratic primary states (the state of Arizona does not keep such elections records). These analyses revealed that as precinct size increases, Clinton’s vote share increases. This pattern holds true even when carefully controlling for demographic factors such as race and age.

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          If he did, he’d be at the bottom of a pile of screaming Clintonites yelling “Sore loser!” and “You aren’t a real Democrat and you shouldn’t have been running in the first place.” There are still times when it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool.

          1. integer

            The Clintonites have been yelling (on Twitter and various liberal-leaning comment sections) “Sore loser!” and “Sanders isn’t a real Democrat and shouldn’t have been running in the first place” since the election. They hate Sanders and are clearly still very angry at Sanders supporters for not having enthusiastically embraced Clinton from day one, projecting their seemingly unshakable belief that any rational person owed their vote to Clinton. Many of the most ugly and spiteful attacks I have seen online have come from Clinton supporters.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              That’s why I renew my prediction that if Sanders wins the DemParty nomination, that the Clintonites ( and some Obamazoids too) will either vote for Trump or some other party or not vote at all in order to do their best to MAKE Sanders lose. It will be their revenge, their one Prime Directive.

              I want Sanders nominated anyway. Let us see how strong the Clintonites are. Let everyone smell their innermost selves in the open air of day.

        2. Big River Bandido

          I agree with Elizabeth Burton. There are certain truths a politician simply shouldn’t say, because they’re just not… politic. Others can make this particular point on his behalf, though.

    2. cm

      Donna Brazile’s book? She has some interesting dirt in there, including a gropy Biden. It would be fascinating to hear her real opinions on Seth Rich’s murder.

      1. Rojo

        Besides the much-noticed bit about her being paranoid after Rich’s murder, was this passing mention way down in the Politico story she wrote:

        “Right around the time of the convention, the leaked emails revealed Hillary’s campaign was grabbing money from the state parties for its own purposes, leaving the states with very little to support down-ballot races.”


    3. Annieb

      “What Happened to Bernie Sanders” by Jared H Beck. The attorneys Jared and Elizabeth Beck sued the DNC and write about why and how in the book.

  3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Why drinking beer is bad for the environment.

    From PETA:

    When land is used to raise animals instead of crops, precious water and soil are lost, trees are cut down to make land for grazing or factory-farm sheds,

    And when crops are used not to feed, but to make beer, when clean water should do as well, it is bad for the environment, to cutting down trees to grow barley that beer drinkers imbibe, instead of aqua.

    That relates to the above:

    “The world’s biggest beer company is looking at making cannabis drinks” [CNN]. “Could Budweiser drinkers soon be swapping beer for pot? AB InBev (BUD), the world’s biggest brewer, said Wednesday that it’s teaming up with Canada’s Tilray (TLRY) to research cannabis-infused drinks. It’s the latest major company to start exploring the pot market following decisions to legalize recreational marijuana in Canada and a number of American states. AB InBev and Tilray will invest a combined $100 million into researching non-alcoholic drinks containing cannabis elements.” • My vision of marijuana legalization was always small, local growers and no corporate advertising. Oh well.

    1. Wukchumni

      If there was ever a strong influence to get people to just say no to drugs, having Budweiser mixing in rice beer pisswater with marijuana, shows the most promise.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        When Gaia is healed and healthy again (when we stop beer drinking or meat eating, among other actions or non-actions), humans may have a chance to get well (no to drugs, etc) too.

      2. JBird4049

        Dude, calling Budweiser “beer” is shameful even in a put down. At least with Colt 45 or Ripple they aren’t saying bald faced lies the beer’s “quality” and “taste” in the ads.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Corporations are made up of individual humans. I wonder if there are studies and tell-all’s that explain how the creatures that go to their offices and cubicles every day, become what they are, in serving a legal-fiction god. How do they come to be thinking up and “activating” and “achieving” ever more sophisticated ( in the senses of complicated, sneaky and adulterated) ways of looting and crapifying and degrading just about everything that might be decent and sustainable and beautiful?

        What is THEIR organizing principle? Maybe if that was widely understood, the mopery could formulate a positive counter-principle to drive all our actions and efforts in a homeostatic direction?

          1. JTMcPhee

            Thanks. Might have some hints to understand the phenom. Still hoping for that other organizing principle that decent people might use to guide and inform their actions

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Farmer Gabe Brown of North Dakota has demonstrated and continues to demonstrate that when land is used to raise animals AND crops toGETHer as part of a bio-integrated system, precious water and soil are gained and more carbon is bio-sequestered in the soil after the trees are cut down than when the trees were still up.

      And permaculturist Mark Shephard of Wisconsin demonstrates how it gets even better than that. He leaves enough food bearing trees UP, or even plants them on purpose, that he gets the land-growing benefit of trees even while retaining enough land in mixed-species NON-trees to get the land-growing benefit of NON-trees.

      PETA has zero integrity, either ethical or moral or informational or any other kind. I wonder how the PETAcreeps would try to spin the just-above-mentioned facts and achievements away from public awareness?

    1. Aleric

      He’s had a change of heart since leaving the Mpls Fed Reserve, and gone from a rigid freshwater ideologue to that rare bird of an evidence based economist. I’ve enjoyed his recent writings.

  4. A Farmer

    I think there are cheaper ways for the government to support the aluminum industry than tariffs. Not sure how much we’ve paid in tariffs for the 3000 jobs created in primary and secondary aluminum, but if it is $1B, that is $333,333 per job.

        1. a different chris

          That’s funny, but it’s also literally true. You can “recycle” these employees into other manufacturing jobs. Grow the knowledge base back.

    1. ewmayer

      Well, a couple of counterpoints:

      1. Each such goods-producing domestic job supports multiple other jobs in supply-chain and services;

      2. Even your (IMO pessimistic) per-job figure is way better than the kind of government subsidization of e.g. Amazon and WalMart the neolibs love;

      3. The “domestic supply of critical materials and components” aspect does not get measured by such simple metrics. How much would it be worth to not sole-source (say) rare earths and microelectronics from China and East Asia? Hard to say until an embargo of same hits, but the mere implied threat of such should be unacceptable. Unlike the imperial warmongering missions around the globe, I find the national-security considerations here to be quite compelling: if it’s mission-critical, not being able to source it yourself is a clear endangerment of national security.

      1. John k

        4. The tariff income could be used for badly needed infra.
        Granted gov doesn’t need the money in fact, but if pay go is at the gate then gov needs the money to fund such in practice.
        Similarly, the peace dividend from less mic could be more infra.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        And the petrochemical mainstream farmers who get those subsidies spend almost all the subsidy money on petrochemicals or Haber-Bosch chemicals. The subsidy-farmers are just a pass-through conduit for all that subsidy money on its way to Big Oil, Big Gas, Big Fertilizer, etc.

        Also just saying ….

  5. Summer

    It remains to be seen exactly what “out” of Syria or “out” of any of the Mid East Follies means.
    Decades of this madness has produced networks of mercenaries and assorted military adjuncts to be used.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Erik Prince and his sort, at the ready!

      And here is a decent bit of actual reporting from the Grauniad, that offers a glimpse into the vicious complexity of warlordism, corruption, niches for CIA and Mossad and of course supranational corporations to sneak in, disrupt, and loot. The fractured “political economy” that seems endemic to MENASA and lots of other places: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/dec/21/yemen-uae-united-arab-emirates-profiting-from-chaos-of-civil-war

      “Journey Into A Neolithical Future.”

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well that could be a problem. Hopefully, the Kurdish militias and the Syrian Arab Republic could get their respective armies into contact and co-operation with eachother fast enough to prevent the vacuum which Eric Prince would try filling to help ISIS under cover of pretending to fight ISIS.

      That all depends on the Kurds recognizing the time has come to make their peace with the Syrian Arab Republic before it is too late for them. They may not survive a Turkish attack all by themselves.

    1. Cal2

      It’s all legal to strong arm in England.

      On Netflix, there’s a show called, “Can’t Pay, We’ll Take It Away“, about high court bailiffs, working for a private corporation, who have the right to enter property, seize goods, tow cars and demand payment right now from people, as well as to evict them with one hour’s notice from their rentals.

      Quite interesting to see the interior of people’s homes, businesses etc. No privacy whatsoever.

      1. windsock

        Bailiffs in England can only enter a home if invited, and if invited once, then they have the right to break in whenever they want. If you have open windows they are allowed to climb through them. However, if you keep every window and door locked and never invite them in, they have no right to break and enter, EVER.

    2. Geo

      Wow. Thanks for the link. I’ll be reading the whole five part series but that one you shared was a doozy. Scary what we’re turning into. The worst of our past has become legal and even encouraged it seems.

  6. Duck1

    RE: Random Observation @ Eschaton, scanned through some of the comments and the usual TDS banter, with a small number of level heads. Typical:

    “You DO realize we live in a post-electoral country now, right? One in which foreign governments straight up hack our votes and influence our elections in other, more subtle ways?

    In the end, the numbers are whatever Putin says they are, though yes, I think the relative percentages are accurate.”

    Really wonder about the place, though largely devolved into an echo chamber. The names are the same as they have been for years.

    1. marku52

      Don’t go over to Kevin Drum’s place either. The TDS infection is raging over there. Sane people I have “known” for years have gone completely around the bend.

      1. Detroit Dan

        Yup. Most commenters at Kevin Drum and Eschaton have lost their ability to think straight because of Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS). Drum has the worst case of TDS, so it’s not surprising that commenters there are insane. Atrios has been thinking clearly with most of his observations, however, so it’s odd to see his commentariat having lost their brains.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          What percent of his commentariat supported Clinton? That percent of his commentariat had already long-since lost their brains to begin with.

          Same for KevDrum and his flying clintonite monkeys.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I mean this in the best possible way. Atrios was on twitter before twitter existed, and my sense is he communicates more through twitter than his blog.The comment section over there went full Obama long ago.

      Trump is President for primarily two reasons. The awfulness of the Clinton candidacy (incompetence; HRC being tone deaf; centrism’s failures; or the fact the Clintons have been around 25 years and everything ends), but the other side is Obama was a lousy President. People hate being conned more than they hate con men. How can smart enlightened liberals have been so wrong about HRC or Obama (depending on what floats your boat)? The answer which explains long term denial is to paint Trump as a unique evil when he’s just a Republican who are horrible and have been since 1865 around that April. Judging from Obama’s reaction to the fallout over the federal judge ruling DADT unconstitutional and that antigay referendum in North Carolina, Obama could have been pressured if his supporters demanded he not be heinous everyday, much like he warned them.

      Imagine if Obama had been pressured to dump Holder and prosecute bankers. A Constitutional Convention to repeal the 22nd Amendment? Instead there is widespread distrust in our economic and government institutions, millions of Americans were impoverished, and Obama plays second fiddle to his wife.

      1. Geo

        I wouldn’t say Obama was horrible as much as he was merely typical. The problem was (is) how people project their aspirations on these people (as we’ve seen happen again with Beto).

        Speaking personally, there’s a reason 2008 was my first time voting third party. Nothing Obama said alluded to him being an anti-war candidate, his support of telecom immunity was a clear prelude to his embrace of “the deep state” as its often called as well as his disregard for corporate criminality.

        His record was fairly small considering his relatively short political career (compared to Clinton and McCain) but what was there was enough to know he was not who so many projected him to be nor what his slogan claimed he was.

        That said, I was happy he won over McCain/Palin even if my lil’ protest vote for McKinney arguably worked against that victory (I lived in NYC at the time so doubtful my vote would have ever mattered much). He was a huge inspiration and source of joy for all my non-white friends and a cathartic repudiation of the Bush era.

        But, when his first actions were to bring aboard Geither/Summers, keep many of the Bush war hawks, and started off his first week in office by bombing Pakistan it was clear my protest vote was the right thing to do for my own conscience.

        Maybe it’s because I’m a filmmaker (storyteller) and work a lot in advertising, as well as an obsession with cults (I’ve joined a few just to see how they work), that I have a better understanding of “myth making” and how to read between the lines than others, I don’t know? I’m not a particularly smart person in most ways so it baffles me how so many people smarter than myself can be so easily conned.

        I just wish there was more critical thinking, less tribal alliance to party/identity, and that the “hope” for a president-as-savior would be replaced by a search for president as employee. They should be elected because they will work for us and should be judged, not by their marketing or style, but by their resume of actions.

        This was even more depressing in the last election where Trump had no record of doing anything to benefit anyone but himself, and Clinton’s record was long but included many more negatives than positives. But, people projected their ideals and fell into their tribal alliances and here we are.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I wouldn’t say Obama was horrible as much as he was merely typical.

          Whats the difference?

          As far as the con, it worked like this:

          We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America. 2004 DNC Keynote Address (this is so effing dumb)

          There are no problems. In the midst of a war based on horrible lies, its okay. Accountability is not necessary because we are all defending together and engaging in rote practices of group prayer. Obama presented easy answer, not solutions. He is charismatic and for many he solves their own racist problems without addressing any kind of structural problems including leaving the South out of the New Deal. Its easy to blame poor hill billies for these problems while embracing the powerful who instituted the policies.

          Going back to 2004, the economy sucked for most Americans. The housing boom was exciting. People had been beaten down for a long time. When Obama’s time as President went on, there was a flurry of articles about Obama losing his groove and how his speeches lacked his old gusto. They are the same terrible speeches, but they are long on easy answers and short on solutions. Bill was a terrible President. Based on the results for HRC in 2008, the 30 and under crowd was pretty ticked. 2000 was bleak.

          I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views. The Audacity of Hope.

          Obama is safe, nice looking (not too good looking which is very important), and has a nice little story. Look around at the Democrats, and its…Chuck Schumer…Harry Reid. Importantly, he didn’t vote for the Iraq War. Do you remember the promise of Obama in Cairo (a U.S. ally)? It was all so easy. Obama’s got this.

          Whatever else you might think about Edwards, his “Two Americas” narrative requires critical thinking. It brings us back to JFK’s quote about peaceful and violent revolution and Lincoln’s House Divided. The problems facing this country aren’t easy, and the solutions will require thinking. Critical thinking is hard. It requires effort, and you might not even be a direct beneficiary.

        2. marku52

          No. I would say Obama was horrible. Simply because he completely corrupted the idea of useful change through the ballot box. He promised us very important change and then implemented none of it. In fact blocked much of what he promised.

          He is very responsible for President Trump.

          1. Tony Wright

            My two cents worth as a non American – Obama screwed up by not taking on Wall st in the first two years while the Democrats had a majority – opportunity missed.
            However he probably had good reason to be overcautious – as the first African American POTUS he was probably acutely aware of the need to not be seen as too radical and scare the hell out of white voters.
            And had he been too anti-establishment some NRA nutjob would have probably shot him.
            At least he had good taste in music- check out the White House Allstars concert he staged in the White House ?2012; as an old blues fan I cried tears of joy.

            1. Yves Smith

              No, Obama was not interest in finance or the economy. Hadn’t campaigned on it. And he is both instinctively conservative and economically center-right.

      2. Big River Bandido

        I mostly agree with your position. Although I think where you write “Obama was a lousy President”…I would be more inclined to view it with a longer lens. To me, Obama is simply another in a long line of lousy Presidents, from both parties, all servants of the same political and economic class, all leading the country in the same direction. Disaffection with that direction, its results, and the tone-deafness of the poster children of the political class, has alienated the party bases from their “leaders”, and the 2016 results are only the first of the implications.

    1. diptherio

      I just have to say that I’m truly disappointed by the lack of response to my cute puppy picks. Tell me how adorable they are, gosh dern it! I need my oxytocin hit!

      1. Pat

        Freya is beautiful. The pups are wonderful. And thank you for posting them!

        (I honestly just found this, but I also hope it helps. Can’t have you turning to the darkside for a hit!)

      2. DJG

        diptherio: It is hard to write in a comments section about the Glory of Puppies.

        –Pyrenees or maremmano?
        –Number of puppies?
        –How old now?
        –Is that snow on the straw? Or a canine halo?
        –Do you have more than one dog?

      3. Eclair

        Just skidded over here, breathless, having FINALLY finished the morning links and comments! Being on the West coast sucks.

        And, they are so cute, Mom especially. She looks quite madonna-ish, if that is not sacrilegious.

        Miss your comments, though.

      4. C

        Thanks for the Freya update! So nice to see her and the pups again (and find out her name). What a lovely dog.

      5. ambrit

        I’m sorry dip but Freya seems to have gotten most of the oxytocin available. I count four furry snacks huddling under mama? I dig the Judaeo Christian “born in a manger” touch. “I am the Son of Dog!” Right on. Perfect for Christ-mess.

      6. aletheia33

        and that one teeny weeny wittle puppy face that is showing!!!!!

        visualize 5 identical emoticons here, tears rolling down smiley faces jumping up and down arms waving, strokey-wokey time!!!!!

  7. Summer

    “Americans Actually Voted in the 2018 Midterms” [Bloomberg]. • These are very interesting charts, but marred by being two-dimensional. It’s really absurd to put AOC and CIA asset Spanberger in the same blue box, or consider them both “left.”

    I hope that is a result of two-dimensional thinking. Really, I do.

  8. Carolinian

    Amazon employees: Amazon Corporation is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful corporation I’ve ever known in my life.

    Nothing robotic there.

  9. rjs

    re: GDP, Q3 2018: “The third quarter was a strong one for the economy, getting a boost from an overdue inventory build”

    real private inventories grew at a 31.9% annual rate in the quarter, which means most of your Q3 GDP growth was left sitting in a warehouse…hence, real final sales of GDP only rose at a 1.0% rate in the 3rd quarter, down from the real final sales growth rate of 5.4% in the 2nd quarter, when the decrease in inventory growth meant that growth in real final sales was greater than the real growth in GDP.

  10. diptherio

    Eating/drinking marijuana is a completely different experience than smoking it…or so I’ve been told. Your local bars might one day soon be filled with people tripping their faces off. Who knows, it could be an improvement.

        1. diptherio

          Or sobbing…reactions have been known to very. You’re just sitting at the bar, having a Miller Higher Life, when all of a sudden you realize you’ve been pushing your partner away emotionally because your father never expressed unconditional love for you and a whole weight of grief and understanding comes crashing down on you…and then the bartender is saying to you, “sir, I think you’ve had enough.”

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            Sheesh. There’s a downer. Okay, okay, okay. Your pupperpics are gorgeous.

            Truly. :)

            My older Jack Russell (have two) has tumors popping up all over her abdomen. We’re smearing it with lidocaine thrice daily. She’s still eating, still complaining when some human dares take her spot on the sofa, but the end nears.

            1. Ancient1

              WT’s Jack Russell

              Sorry to hear that news. Have been through that experience three times and the memories never go away. Dogs are more than friends to their owners and snuggle into their lives, leaving a vacant space that is painful.
              I wish you the best.

          2. ambrit

            “Sir. I think you’ve had enough.”
            To which the reply, as validated by Hollywood and the ‘Eternal Star Struck Exceptionalist Consuming Frenzy’ is “Too Much is Never Enough.”

  11. JohnnyGL


    Very good interview by Antontio Moore with Richard Rothstein, author of the book “The Color of Law” which details how Federal policy, through the FHA build the middle class suburban homeowner society and left out African Americans. The results of this explicitly racist policy around housing after WWII was to weave into society a whole litany of inequities that result from segregating and concentrating poverty among African Americans. The effects are far-reaching, ranging from the racial wealth gap, to quality of local schooling, to health effects resulting from longer commutes and poor access to transportation, greater pollution, etc.

  12. lyman alpha blob

    My vision of marijuana legalization was always small, local growers and no corporate advertising. Oh well.

    Me too. In a lot of states, Maine included, legalization referenda contained provisions to allow people to not only purchase weed legally but to grow several plants themselves. Had the referendum in ME barred people from growing their own, I would not have voted for it.

    It’s now been two years since Maine legalized the cheebah and yet you still can’t go to a store and purchase recreational weed. Many pharmaceuticals are going to take a hit once weed is widely available. What purpose will Benadryl serve for example? So one does have to wonder if the delay in implementation is perhaps due to our water carriers for the rich (aka state Congresses) trying to figure out a way to prevent people from creating their own weed economy and to make sure big money gets its cut.

    1. shinola

      I don’t recall reading anything about pot being effective as an antihistamine (i.e. Benadryl). It would be nice if it is though; I’d have an actual reason to get an RX for it.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        It probably isn’t and I likely got the name of the pharmaceutical wrong. I was thinking of a sleep aid pill.

        1. Ed Miller

          My doctor recently told me that most sleep aids are really just Benadryl, or the generic equiv. Some times you pay more for the same thing. Corporations are so good at that.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Friends of the Cannabis Plant will have to defend and extend the concept of free-for-the-growing cannabis for all citizens.

      Weed for people, not for profit.

      or maybe . . . Cannabis for citizens, not for cronies.

    3. gepay

      My vision of marijuana legalization was always small, local growers and no corporate advertising. Oh well.

      There was a Federal program that did most of that for tobacco – there were limited acreage allotments for growing tobacco – it was very useful for keeping many small family farms viable. It could easily be used as a template for Federal legalization of marijuana and limiting big ag from taking over. I will not hold my breath.

  13. dk

    Has it occurred to anyone that Trump & Co. (as proxy for more hidden interests) are pulling out ground troops to clear the field for bombing, possibly nuclear?

    People like Bannon and Miller, and others including myself, spend many hours thinking through these “unlikely” scenarios (among them, how to realize fantasies of a Dominion apocalypse). If I intended to start a nuclear war in the Middle East in coming months, pulling out the ground troops would be my move today.

    If one is worried about different/novel forms of warfare, one models them. Aggregating guesses into common scenarios to see how they interact. This helps to avoid those “why are they doing that?” situations. There is no more dangerous situation in adversarial conflict than when one doesn’t know what the opponent is doing. Even an incorrect theory is better than no theory at all; theories organize our interpretation of information and can be adjusted for accuracy, without a theoretical framework we can’t avoid flailing about. And theories come with the lottery ticket bonus of possibly being correct by random chance, so what’s not to like?

    And of course one shouldn’t be running (updating w/real time) just one theory until one is sure one has a good one. So when weird things happen, one can check for that kind of event among these “wild” theories.

    But taken in a more general strategic context, clearing the field in preparation for a major initiative is a very common pattern; it’s used all the time in daily life, like taking the fixtures off of a piece of furniture before sandblasting it. Call it physical strategy or call it logistics, there are necessary components to major actions. Clearing the field doesn’t have to be followed by anything, but it can be followed by things that were impossible/less possible before.

    Could the troop withdrawal, still poorly defined, simply be a random move, and action for its own sake? Certainly, and I hope so. But Don Trump doesn’t work alone, and his cellphone think-tank is much scarier than he is. Matis’s withdrawal is also compatible with this scenario, I <sarcasm> can’t wait <\sarcasm> to see who’s next for Defense. Swapping in a new Secretary could also give a cover story to subsequent global re-positionings and deployments of fleets and resources in a lead-up to *robot voice* global thermonuclear war :(.

    I don’t want this, I’m just saying, this looks like something I don’t want.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      I don’t think so, doc.

      Trump wants to get re-elected more than anything else. Nuclear war would likely scotch that.

        1. pjay

          Interesting suggestion by Lang. I liked the comments about neocon heads exploding! So would those of the liberal establishment. Unfortunately, Trump will probably choose another neocon even worse than Mattis. That seems to be the pattern when the “adult” warmongers leave.

    2. rd

      My biggest issue with the Trump announcement on Afghanistan is that I understand they are negotiating with the Taliban. You usually don’t initiate a massive unilateral pullout in the middle of negotiations about pulling out.

      Other than that, we should have been out of Afghanistan years ago.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      No, that didn’t occur to me. If Trump still wants okay relations with Russia . . . some day . . . then it wouldn’t have occurred to Trump, either. Though it probably occurs and appeals to people like Pence, Bolton, etc.

      As to who should be our next SecDef . . . Colonel Lang at Sic Semper Tyrannis has recommended Tulsi Gabbard. In all sincerity and with no trace of irony so far as I can tell. (Though he makes an ironical list of all the ethno genderculture Identity boxes that a SecDef
      Gabbard could check off).

      1. pjay

        I also wondered if Lang was serious when he listed all Gabbard’s “identity” pluses, but I think you are right. The commentators, including some key regulars, seemed to take it seriously anyway.

  14. Summer

    Re: Alabama police / Satan

    It sounds like a heart felt cry about domestic violence.
    Most murders are domestic violence, but in that plea you really hear it.

    1. Fiery Hunt

      If religion is done right… if it’s what gets people to act responsibly, gets them to love themselves and others…I’ve got no problems with it, Satan, Hell and all.

      Unfortunately, most people I’ve met do religion wrong.

      1. Lee

        Those religions that hold the Old Testament sacred worship a narcissistic, psychopathic authoritarian deity.

        Oh, God said to Abraham, “Kill me a son”
        Abe said, “Man, you must be puttin’ me on”
        God said, “No” Abe say, “What?”
        God say, “You can do what you want, Abe, but
        The next time you see me comin’, you better run”
        Well, Abe said, “Where d’you want this killin’ done?”
        God said, “Out on Highway 61”

        B. Dylan

        I prefer the humorously irreverent revisionist version of the tale, “Sarah’s Story,” a short story by Galina Vroman.

        1. Tony Wright

          As a blues fan I prefer the Johnny Winter versions of that song, but having lost a stepson in a flash flood fourteen years ago it still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
          You never get over the loss of a child.

  15. LarryB

    With a ticker symbol of “BUD”, it would almost be criminally negligent if they _didn’t_ get into the pot business!

      1. Duck1

        One can see it, Iowa covered with vast fields of Jack Herer marching in straight lines (heh) to the horizon, tended by machines of loving grace.

  16. Bugs Bunny

    “I have known some flagella-waving oddballs, generally in corporate environments…”

    Lambert, you made my day! Rimshot!

    Happy Holidays everyone.

    1. ewmayer

      Cribbing shamelessly from those Dr. Scholl’s gel insoles ads:

      “I’m flagellin’ like a felon!”

  17. clarky90

    Re; “Falling life expectancy in flyover isn’t even on liberal Democrat radar as a policy issue.”

    I feel like the child who followed the sounds of incessant gunshots into the woods. Crouching in the undergrowth, I watch my neighbors being led to the rim of the pit, and then executed by the NKVD (Bolsheviks) or Einsatzgruppen (Nazis). I go home and whisper what I have seen.

    Descriptions of USAian health care (?), from my POV in NZ, are of a “system” that is so relentlessly lethal (physically, mentally, financially, spiritually) that it can ONLY be intentional. (on the Democrat (and RINOs) radar as a policy issue)

    USAians are in the midst of systemic, legal. academically-sanctioned, crypto-eugenics.

    If they get away with the crime (are not stopped), It will be described (if it is even mentioned), by future Historians, as a courageous and necessary “aktion” to protect the planet/environment/diversity/climate/civility/our democracy/free speech……(some virtuous virtuosity….)

  18. chuck roast

    Re: “The intertwined quest for understanding biological intelligence and creating artificial intelligence”
    Herb Gintis has been working on a unified theory for many years. He appears to be trying to integrate the social sciences, Economics, Anthropology, Sociology, etc. in a way that explains much of human behavior. Game theory is a key component to his quest. A quixotic quest it may be, but I can think of no better brainiac to undertake it.
    Fortunately, Gintis appears to be not handicapped by advanced degrees in Econometrics, AI neuroscience or the techno-trend of the day. He was always a marginal kind of genius that never fit in. I wish him well.

  19. Glen

    “Democrats Just Blocked Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Push For A Green New Deal Committee”

    Hmm, no Green New Deal. Once again a pointed reminder on why NOT to vote for these clowns.

    1. aletheia33

      as lambert has said, this is not the end of it.

      one could even consider this development not bad, because for one thing it displays, for all those still clueless about the democratic establishment, exactly how it operates.

      my liberal friends, clueless about what sanders has been up to and the true awfulness of the neoliberal takeover of everything (they don’t know the meaning of the term ”neoliberalism”) are excited about AOC and the green new deal. they are very emotional about climate change, almost to the point of hysteria, but have little sense of how/where they might effectively direct the energy of their mounting rage and fear. widely watched (i hope) videos of the sunrise kids confronting congresspeople, and insisting that they make a specific pledge, may have set up some high expectations. so there may be a little bit of enlightenment/learning on the way, as the sunrisers and AOC respond.

      –nothing published in any media is a reliable prediction unless it acknowledges the current reality that everything is churning and up for grabs, with unreckonable potential for both frightening and encouraging changes.

  20. rd

    “After-tax corporate profits rose a year-on-year 6.1 percent”

    This was the point of the tax law. it was definitely worth a trillion dollars of national debt.

  21. Oregoncharles

    ““Democrats Just Blocked Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Push For A Green New Deal Committee””

    Of course they did. If they support a Green New Deal, people might figure out whose policy it really is.

    AOC is in the wrong party.

  22. Oregoncharles

    ““The world’s biggest beer company is looking at making cannabis drinks”

    Personally, I’ve tried cannabis tea, and ick. Maybe beer would cover it up, but I doubt it.

    1. JTMcPhee

      I’m sure some petroleum-derived “artificial flavorants” will be added, “taste-tested” of course, to cover any distastefulness. Or they’ll call in Monsanto to do a little genetic tinkering to produce that “desired” nose…

  23. Summer

    Re: Eric Scmidt/new billionaires

    “In 1980, Harbor Freight opened its first retail store in Lexington, Kentucky, to sell returned merchandise from its mail order business.”

    Another example of how mail order leads right back to retail.

    So looking at these types of financing schemes and then reading the shenanigans of being an Amazon sellers ….there’s more to the bezzle than meets the eye?

  24. knowbuddhau


    Thanks for noting equivalence between two of our dominant mythologies. The genuinely anguished author, whom it was kind of you not to mock (almost), doesn’t actually say, ‘Satan, personified, did it.’ That’s crazypants, even amongst my very religious family.

    The author is saying, we, the flock, are responsible; by not following faithfully the teachings of our fathers, pastors, LEOs, and God, we’ve brought this on ourselves.

    But the author, in misattributing the problem, appeals for relief to its source: a badly interpreted application of someone else’s myth; potentially compounding exponentially the misery and tragedy. What comes next, the purging of the heretics and unbelievers? Is that what Jesus would do? Or his Old Testament Old Man? Sure wish Christians could keep that straight.

    And it’s the kind of mythic dissociation we can expect to see more of.

    A functioning mythology, otoh, synchs a people with their place and time. I firmly believe it’s a necessary function of our psychophysiology.

    In what follows, which I hope helps explain at least a bit how an LEO could make a public appeal to his flock: to turn away from Satan, on duty and with official resources, and not see a problem with that; one can also see clearly the reflection of the Clinton/Pelosi Democrat machinations.

    The Zoroastrian religion appeared, presenting the notion that the world was originally good—harmless, so to say—and that an evil principle moved in to precipitate a fall. Out of that fall came this unfortunate, unhappy, unintended situation known as the human condition. By following the doctrine of Zoroaster, by participating in a good work, persons associate themselves with the forces of restoration, eliminating the infection of evil and moving on toward the good again.

    Essentially, this is the mythology, in broad terms, found in the biblical tradition: the idea of a good creation and a subsequent fall. Instead of blaming the fall on an evil principle antecedent to man, the biblical tradition blamed it on man himself. The work of redemption restores the good situation and, this completed, will bring about the end of the world as we know it—that is, the world of conflict and contest, that universe of life eating life.

    Whether one thinks of the mythology in terms of the affirmation of the world as it is, the negation of the world as it is, or the restoration of the world to what it ought to be, the first function of mythology is to arouse in the mind a sense of awe before this situation through one of three ways of participating in it: by moving out, moving in, or effecting a correction.


    A mythology may be understood as an organization of metaphorical figures connotative of states of mind that are not finally of this or that location or historical period, even though the figures themselves seem on their surface to suggest such a concrete localization. The metaphorical languages of both mythology and metaphysics are not denotative of actual worlds or gods, but rather connote levels and entities within the person touched by them. Metaphors only seem to describe the outer world of time and place. Their real universe is the spiritual realm of the inner life. The “Kingdom of God” is within you.

    The problem, as we have noted many times, is that these metaphors, which concern that which cannot in any other way be told, are misread prosaically as referring to tangible facts and historical occurrences. The denotation—that is, the reference in time and space: a particular Virgin Birth, the End of the World—is taken as the message, and the connotation, the rich aura of the metaphor in which its spiritual significance may be detected, is ignored altogether.

    Inevitably, therefore, the popular understanding is focused on the rituals and legends of the local system, and the sense of the symbols is reduced to the concrete goals of a particular political system of socialization. When the language of metaphor is misunderstood and its surface structures become brittle, it evokes merely the current time-and-place-bound order of things and its spiritual signal, if transmitted at all, becomes ever fainter. [Emphasis added. May the Flow be with you. https://www.scribd.com/read/355478242/Thou-Art-That-Transforming-Religious-Metaphor

    1. aletheia33

      thank you for the excerpt and very well put.

      agreed we can expect to see more of that kind of “mythic dissociation”.

      reminds me of something i read awhile back (i don’t recall where, just that it seemed to be a work of fairly balanced scholarship) that described how as the USA’s shredding of iraq proceeded apace, ordinary people who had been fairly secular/”modern”-living oriented, in the fear triggered by the destruction of their society, turned en masse to their childhood religion. and reoriented their worldview toward the past. nothing new about that phenomenon. humans seem to be both highly adaptable and tending to revert to prayer and cultism when faced with loss of too much of their familiar social structures.

      your term “dissociation” is apt here, as it acknowledges the role in social breakdown of trauma: a human’s response to a kind of pain and horror that exceeds the human psyche’s capacity to make sense of it. the psyche will seek relief by any means, not under one’s conscious control.

    2. Oregoncharles

      “will bring about the end of the world as we know it—that is, the world of conflict and contest, that universe of life eating life”

      IOW, the exact opposite of evolution, viewed as a mythos. And a rejection of reality. No wonder that mythos has been so destructive.

  25. Wukchumni

    A government shutdown always effects the town here, being next to Sequoia NP, but this one is pretty brutal as far as timing goes.

    Coming during xmas break through to who knows when, it’ll kill off one of the few times in the winter local businesses can make some moolah.

    1. Katiebird

      No surprises, but reading the relentlessness experiences is a powerful experience. On and on, people paying hundreds of dollars a month for the protection of multi-thousands of dollars deductables.

      This and the wars have brought me to hate the Democrats after a lifetime commitment to them.

      P.S. Thanks for the link!

  26. flora

    re: “How to fix America’s dysfunctional trade system” [Ryan Cooper, The Week

    Thanks for this link. Very interesting analysis and commentary. I think most NC readers will be familiar with the points presented. One of the most interesting aspects, to me, is that this analysis questioning the benefits and effects of free trade has appeared at all in a MSM outlet.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Maybe the whole “trade” apparatus is dysfunctional, and depends on deadly elements like transporting “stuff” thousands or tens of thousands of miles, via CO2-spewing cargo ships and trains and trucks and high-flying turbojets, and destroys most local self-dependence and local jobs, and seemingly (not actually) dispenses with all limits to that Growth cancer? Maybe niggling changes to the “Trade” beast and its little “rules” that are set by Looters who pursue short term pleasure/profit (ignoring “externalities,” of course) is not what’s needed — at least by mopes hoping to just be able to live from day to day? Who themselves, because of their local beliefs and social structres, keep adding “consumers” to the 7.7 billion that are way ahead, in consumption and pollution and species annihilation, of the ability of poor old Gaia to compensate for?

      People who fund and operate the current system “want what they want when they want it,” that special vintage or Fast Fashion or Latest Thing from Chinese or Vietnamese manufactories. “Alexa, order me the hottest new item. One-day delivery.”

      Don’t think the proposed notions have a chance of “fixing” what’s broken.

  27. djrichard

    2. Trump is an unstable authoritarian who cannot be trusted.

    One of the things said about Trump is that he owned the cartoon version of himself, at least during the campaign. https://www.epsilontheory.com/controlling-your-cartoon-nike-and-the-art-of-the-meme/ Bernie is going to need to get ahead of this, both for the campaign as well as when he’s president. But without media on his side, it’s going to be very difficult, as Trump is experiencing.

    So for instance, I wonder how well Bernie Sanders would get on with the deep state if he were to be president. Would it be described as “unstable” and therefore conflated with Bernie being “unstable”? Or would Bernie find that he has the “best and the brightest” truly serving him and his policies, such that he doesn’t have to cycle through them?

    Vice versa, I’d be surprised if Bernie would be described as “authoritarian”. But then, the whole point would be to studiously avoid giving Bernie any authority. The need would be to caricature Bernie as … what? Whatever it is, it will be the opposite of serious. The nutty professor or something like that.

    Finally what will be said when it comes to whether we should trust him?

  28. NotTimothyGeithner

    This perception idea reminds me of John Cleese’s (an atheist) recollection of the writing of the Life of Brian with Graham Chapman (a devout Catholic). They came to the conclusion Jesus is not funny or capable of being targeted by humor. He said if Jesus slipped on a banana peel Jesus would laugh first and say “who am I?” He contrasted it to the then and long time Arch Bishop of Canterbury. The Bishop was too rigid to find humor in anything. Instead of Jesus of Nazareth, the movie focused on religious leaders. The basic idea was humor is about flexibility and rigidity.

    Sanders moved to Vermont ages ago. He’s already flexible. Trump is a loud mouth prick. Without making the effort, he will always look like that. Sanders already is the nutty professor, but it doesn’t matter because it won’t irk him. He won’t react, feeding that meme.

    I don’t think it’s a serious issue. If it was, we would have seen Sanders make a bigger deal out of his appearance, like Joe Biden who I always thought started wearing much more expensive clothing when he got the nomination.

    1. Carey

      A late friend of mind wrote a novella called *Jesus Laughed, and if one can enter somewhat into the author’s world, it can be intermittently, bawdily, rewarding.

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