Links 12/18/18

Poacher Who Illegally Killed Hundreds of Deer Ordered to Repeatedly Watch Bambi Springfield News-Leader

A Bad World for Migrants (and I Don’t Even Mean Human Ones) TomDispatch

NOAA releases 2018 Arctic Report Card EarthSky (Furzy Mouse). Original (PDF).

Huge barrier isn’t trapping plastic waste in Pacific Ocean New Zealand Herald (DL).

Seven Billion-Dollar Disasters From 2017 Likely Affected by Climate Change Jeff Masters, Weather Underground

Goldman Sachs fires back after Malaysia charges bank in 1MDB probe The Star

New questions over Elon Musk’s use of SpaceX resources for Boring Co. MarketWatch. We have entirely too many squillionaires doing stupid things with our capital, even putting looting and fraud to one side.

Tech IPOs: directional hypothesis FT

AI-5 and the forbidden future of Brasil BrasilWire


Facing opposition, UK’s May will bring Brexit deal back to parliament Reuters. January 14.

Series of Commons votes on Brexit deal unlikely to bring much clarity Irish Times

EU to Rule Out ‘Managed No-Deal’ as Bloc Boosts Brexit Planning Bloomberg

Rolls-Royce to Switch Work to Germany Over Brexit Industry Week

Credit Suisse advises clients to consider moving assets out of UK FT

How Britain stole $45 trillion from India Al Jazeera

Europe in Disarray Council on Foreign Relations


Xi Jinping: China to stick to Communist rule and its own path to cope with ‘unimaginable’ perils SCMP. Wait. That was even an issue?

Occupation and Island Building (map) Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, Center for Strategic and International Studies


A Texas Elementary School Speech Pathologist Refused to Sign a Pro-Israel Oath, Now Mandatory in Many States — so She Lost Her Job Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept (KW). Sounds like “meddling.”

America’s hidden war in Syria WaPo

Are We Ready to Lose Afghanistan? The American Conservative

New Cold War

Dangerous Liaisons The National Interest. Lunatics in The Blob seem to want us to fight a two-front war, when war on a single front would be lunatic enough.

* * *

New report on Russian disinformation, prepared for the Senate, shows the operation’s scale and sweep WaPo (EM). Ah, Craig Timberg.

Russian 2016 Influence Operation Targeted African-Americans on Social Media NYT (UserFriendly). Our darkies were contented and quiet until those outside agitators came in.

Bigoted Paternalism Behind “Russians Targeted African-Americans” NY Times Article Ghion Journal

The Maria Butina Case Is Not About Spying Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

How Putin’s Russia Weaponizes X Moon of Alabama

Trump Transition

A government shutdown is looming, but you may hardly notice McClatchy

Fate of criminal justice reform bill hinges on Cotton amendments Politico

Congress told it can’t interview agents who detained 7-year-old migrant girl who died USA Today. Mr. Counter-Suggestible speaks: I’ve been wary of heart-tugging stories about children told in bad faith ever since the story about Iraqi babies being pulled out of incubators — told before Congress by a charismatic 15-year-old girl who, as it was disclosed years later, was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambasssador — was used by Bush the Elder to sell the first Gulf War. In this case, wIth good reason. (And don’t @ me about being heartless. The United States has whacked plenty of faraway brown children, but as statistics, not tragedies.)

Democrats in Disarray

Why is no one treating Bernie Sanders like the Democratic front-runner? Spectator USA

State Legislatures Magazine: How Much Do You Know About State Government? National Conference of State Legislatures (UserFriendly).

Health Care

Chuck Schumer Refuses to Endorse Medicare for All Truthdig. As I keep saying, naturally: Preventing #MedicareForAll is the liberal Democrats’ #1 policy goal.

Judge’s Obamacare ruling creates long-term uncertainty Modern Healthcare

Judge’s ruling on ‘Obamacare’ poses new problems for GOP AP

The latest ACA ruling is raw judicial activism and impossible to defend Nicholas Bagley, WaPo. Bagley writes: “In [U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor’s] view, the penalty-free mandate still amounted to a coercive exercise of government power…. An unenforceable instruction to purchase insurance is not coercive in the slightest.” This is a separate argument from the taxing power argument (more at NC here). O’Connor wrote (pp 29-30): ‘[T]he Individual Mandate fixes an obligation. The Individual Plaintiffs assert they feel compelled to comply with the law… This should come as no surprise. ‘It is the attribute of law, of course, that it binds; it states a rule that will be regarded as compulsory for all who come within its jurisdiction.’ Law therefore has an enormous influence on social norms and individual conduct in society.” In other words, Bagley’s “in the slightest” is, well, over-taxed. Ask liberals yammering about The Norms That Must Not Be Violated whether norms are or are not, “in the slightest,” coercive. (It’s also odd, or would have been odd, for a liberal to assert that the citizenry don’t see being law-abiding as a value in itself, and will only obey the law when threatened.)

Violated: How the Indian Health Service betrays patient trust and treaties in the Great Plains Argus-Leader

Our Famously Free Press

The New York Times’ Shameful Obituary of Historian William Blum Truthdig


Small assault-style rifle firms thriving under activists’ radar Reuters (EM). EM comments: “The irony of course being that such products are one of the few remaining areas where domestic manufacturing is thriving. So the next time your hear one of the globalist-shill papers like the NYT opining (cf. Sunday’s Links) that ‘we simply don’t have the manufacturing culture’ to build e.g. Apple products, here is your proof that that argument is BS, and that a proper long-term-outlook national industrial strategy could put many millions of Americans to work manufacturing items that are in demand, high-tech and rather less lethal than assault weapons.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Death of Global Order Was Caused by Clinton, Bush, and Obama Foreign Policy

The Year Insecurity Drove the World Crazy Umair Haque

REVEALED: There Were Two CIA Torture Programs Medium

Class Warfare

Liberalism in Theory and Practice Jacobin

Good News out of Kansas: A compassionate bankruptcy judge grants a 59-year-old debtor a partial discharge of her student loans Condemned to Debt (UserFriendly).

New Studies Rescue Gravitational-Wave Signal From the Noise Quanta

The Yoda of Silicon Valley NYT. Donald Knuth.

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. Samuel Conner

      The thing I find odd about the reports is that the memes that were mentioned in the reporting on this that I have heard (mostly NPR), such as (paraphrased) “neither party gives a d**n about us; what’s the point of voting”, strike me as valid.

      So, it seems to me, the external meddlers are accused of speaking truths to specific targeted groups.

      This is in contrast to the “legitimate” campaign organizations, which broadcast falsehoods.

      1. a different chris

        Hmm, I don’t know but is that us Americans and our silly culture? “Neither party gives a…” so “I can’t win” so” I’m not bothering to vote”, is that the attitude? Win or (stay) home?

        Why not vote for a third party, like I do. You’re not going to get what you want, but you send some sort of message.

        And you never know – look (and try not to laugh/cry/both) at the DUP* and its sudden power. If things are tight, and they often are, one of the Powers-That-Be might calculate that they can throw you a bone this time and not lose too many on their other flank.

        *Not comparing a parliamentary system with ours, just saying sometimes you can hold your nose and have a few more on your side.

        1. oh

          More and more people need to wake up and vote for a third party. It’s much better than allowing the duopoly to do what they do best – fool the voter and enrich themselves by doing the bidding of the big corporations.

          1. Carey

            That is true, if the votes are accurately counted. Stein-Baraka got only 1.03% of the 2016 Presidential vote, we are told, despite the two
            brand-name candidates being the worst, probably, in history.


            1. nippersdad

              I remember that well; pretty damning stuff. If they ever wondered why they had no credibility……….There was a pretty coordinated attack on HuffPo and other outlets just prior to the Primaries, IIRC. Luckily, for them Huffington, anyway, sold out soon after and it has been all propaganda all the time ever since. I have often wondered if they were connected.


              Funny Obama quote in there, something like if you read the Huffington Post you would think I was a Wall Street tool. Well, and? After the bailouts that was pretty common knowledge. I mean, why else would the Dems lose over a thousand electoral seats during his Administration? The real question for me is why they didn’t lose even more.

                1. nippersdad

                  This is true; their commenting section was pretty tightly censored after Bush left office. That started long before the ’16 Primary, to the point where commenting, or even reading them, became pointless….unless you just wanted to troll the censors. Which was fun.

                  But they were fairly good about presenting varying points of view from writers until the sale.

              1. Oregoncharles

                “The real question for me is why they didn’t lose even more.”
                it’s because so many people believe the Republicans are the alternative – the same calculation that got Macron elected, though with France’s top-two system that was actually true, which is why the Green Party in the US virulently opposes that system. All it does is transfer the spoiler effect to the first round.

                But where there are, or could be, other options in the main election, it’s mostly an ingrained myth and bad habit.

            2. John k

              It’s been going on for a long time. I remember maybe a decade ago reports Russians were interfering by reminding blacks how badly the police mistreated them.
              Haven’t seen any reports of Russians telling lies, unlike cia, both foreign and domestic.
              So wiki and Russia have a rep for truth, and elites, msm plus deep have a growing rep for lies… doesn’t seem a good long term policy…

            1. polecat

              It’s nothing if not a blackhat cloaking device to pull the woolens over the overtaxed (in All ways to Sunday !! .. to paraphraze the Schum) to smother in darkness the ‘in-your-face’ malfeasance of the Duopoly Ringwraiths grasping.
              Some rings are more powerful than others. For instance, I think the Clinton Nazgul recently lost their’$ as it tumbled down a D.C. $ewer grate, with that gollum Perez, crawling on all fours looking for what he thinks is the Precious.

              Of course, we all know who welds The-One-Ring-to-Rule-dem-All…
              He rides a bear.

        1. Jen

          Ghion Journal weighs in:

          “The insidious undertones of the New York Times article is straight out of the COINTELPRO playbook that was deployed during the Civil Rights Era to dismiss the frustrations of African-Americans. J. Edgar Hoover would have been proud of Scott, Sheera and the editors at “the Grey Lady”, after all he used the same feigned concerns for “black folks” to smear anyone who dared to speak against a repressive system of racism that was bludgeoning the masses from Selma to Boston and beyond. The insinuation back then was that “Negroes” were protesting because of Soviet influence, surely it had nothing to do with the fire hoses, German Shepherds and horse hooves that were being deployed to segregate people in their place. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Once again, the New York Times dusts of their blueprint from the past while Democrats channel their inner Joseph McCarthy.”

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          David Brock worked very hard to get Bill out of the White House in the 90’s, and he worked very hard to keep HRC out of the White House in the 21st century.

    2. JCC

      It wasn’t just the Blacks, of course. NPR is doing a story this morning that states that the Rooskies intentionally concentrated on turning the “Left” against HRC. How difficult a job is that?

      Next up, How the Rooskies concentrated on intentionally turned the “Right” against Jeb Bush.

      Those Rooskies sure know how to concentrate. Next thing you know we’ll be getting proof that Rooskie Tweets and FB posts robbed us all of our Precious Bodily Fluids.

      1. zagonostra

        How can you justify spending $1.5 trillion (yes trillion not billion) on one defense program, F35 Raptor, if you don’t have a worthy adversary. Or $13 billion on a aircraft carrier, or like Obama
        approve a nuclear missile “modernization” program.

        Russia is like that character played by Jack Nicholson, Colonel Nathan R. Jessep, because damn it “you need me!”

        You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

      2. ewmayer

        “proof that Rooskie Tweets and FB posts robbed us all of our Precious Bodily Fluids”

        Would the (alleged) Trump-in-Russia Pee Tape count in that Strangelovian-conspiracy regard?

      3. Amfortas the hippie

        in other (anecdotal) news:
        hotel tv last nite: hunt for red october was like the only thing worth watching.
        is it coincidence that that was dredged out of the archives at this moment?
        or am I just too cynical for my shirt?
        anybody noticed more cold war-ish movies suddenly regaining airtime?

        1. lambert strether

          > anybody noticed more cold war-ish movies suddenly regaining airtime?

          That’s a very good question. Readers? (And why not “The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!”

    3. timbers

      Russia made the South import African slaves some 150 years ago, because she know it would sow political discord in 2000’s elections and allow Russia to divide America in the 21st Century.

      And if you dispute that with loyal Team Blue’ers, you’re a conspiracy theorist.

      So now that we know this, how much more $ should we give to the Dept of War & Aggression and our Intelligence Agencies?

    4. Summer

      I think black people are well aware their situation in the USA is not Putin’s fault.

      And at the end of the day, there isn’t anything Russia can tell black people they don’t already know and have experienced.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Timbers and Summer.

        The Soviet Union was also blamed during the cold war for inciting black South Africans to fight apartheid. Once the USSR collapsed, communists, often local whites like Joe Slovo and Ronnie Kasrils (not just communists, but Jewish, too) were blamed instead.

          1. Olga

            “The former president [Clinton] allegedly claimed during the hard-fought Democratic primary race: ‘A few years ago, this guy [BHO] would have been getting us coffee.’”
            Remind me again how did this guy (BC) ever get called the first black president?

            1. John k

              Imagine she’d won in 2008, and Obama won in 2016… would we be better or worse off now? More or fewer wars? Closer to or further from m4a?

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                Is HRC reelected in 2012? Most likely she is entering with a 53 to 47 Senate break down in 2009.

                On one hand, I don’t think HRC will be able to use “gender” as an effective bludgeon to silence critics from the left and will be under more political pressure to “get things done.” The issue with her is does she try for a major reform where her past record indicates she won’t make changes in light of new information or smaller reforms. Does she draw lessons from her previous efforts at healthcare reform?

                Another issue is as President, does HRC feel the need to prove her toughness for elect-ability purposes as she is already President? This is important. She lost in 2008 because of Iraq, but if she wins, she doesn’t have to address this failure with a “Democratic SMRT War.” I’m skeptical of the Clintons, but I did think part of the Libyan intervention was meant to address the Iraq vote by presenting a “here’s how HRC would have done it” excuse.

                Obama’s association with the HRC Administration or ability to pass legislation will be under scrutiny. My guess is the Clintons aren’t particularly receptive to Obama. Would Obama stay relevant during Clinton 2.0?

                All in all, she comes in with a smaller Senate majority in 2008 and is free to not justify the Iraq War for her political ambitions because she’s already President. She might be a hawk for other reasons. I might suggest suggest doesn’t have the good will to try a surge in Afghanistan and is under more pressure to withdraw as she can’t pull off the symbolism of the Cairo Speech and buy international good will.

                Would Leonard Nimoy have grown a goatee? Would Britta have tried a blue streak in her hair?

                1. Pat

                  With the crash, would she have been able to postpone health care reform indefinitely? Would she have still felt the need to take on Libya? Would she have invaded both Syria and Iran?

                  There are tons of divergent points in the timeline and IF HRC were elected President in 2008. And frankly that doesn’t even ask the big one, if HRC were the candidate and not Obama, would John McCain have had to prove his conservative bonafides and name Palin as his running mate? Would she have been able to pretend to do more than he did regarding the bailout ala Obama?

                  IOW, Would she have even won over McCain? I’m not so sure she would have, although she probably would, but if she campaigned as stupidly in 2008 as she did in 2016 not even that is a given.

          2. Carey

            Thanks for that Mark Ames link:

            “New York Times, 1918: “Kaiser’s German agents inciting American Negroes!” New York Times, 2018: “Putin’s Russian agents inciting African-Americans!” 100 years of America blaming structural racism on evil foreigners. This culture is too exhausted to invent new lies”

        1. David

          Or as my father used to say “I suppose you think it’s a good idea to release this bloke Mandela so he can set up concentration camps for the whites.”
          Incidentally, both of those worthy gentlemen (white, like a significant proportion of the ANC leadership) were at different points accused of being KGB officers. Probably drinking buddies of Vladimir Putin.

    5. Summer

      Also, this storyline “Russia targeting African -Americans” is more about convincing white people to think certain things about black people than convincing black people of anything.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Hah! I remember discussing bankruptcy with my lawyer for a couple of minutes back in the mid eighties and once he told me how much it would cost I said I wouldn’t be discussing it if I had that much money.

  1. Wukchumni

    I pledge allegiance to the Flag of Israel, and to the apartheid for which it stands, one nation under guard, the other largely invisible, with no liberty for American teachers to have a different opinion at all.

    1. cm

      It seems like a slam dunk 1st Amendment case…

      Following [NY Gov] Cuomo [‘s ban], Texas’s GOP-dominated state legislature, and numerous other state governments controlled by both parties, the U.S. Congress, prodded by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, began planning its own national bills to use the force of law to punish Americans for the crime of supporting a boycott of Israel. In July of last year, a group of 43 senators — 29 Republicans and 14 Democrats — supported a law, called the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S. 720), introduced by Democratic Sen. Benjamin Cardin of Maryland, that would criminalize participation in any international boycott of Israel.

      Isn’t this the very thing the 1st Amendment was supposed to protect???

      But at least we have bipartisanship!!!

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        Pleased to see that the children’s speech pathologist in Austin, Texas who refused to sign an oath of allegiance to a foreign nation and was dismissed from her job with the public school district for not doing so, has filed a lawsuit over this gross violation of her First Amendment right of free speech. Outrageous disregard of a citizen’s civil rights, and I hope this Texas state law is tossed out by the Court. Unfortunate that the legislators who passed this bill can’t be the ones evicted from public office at the same time.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Are We Ready to Lose Afghanistan?”

    Montgomery’s rules of war

    1. Don’t march on Moscow.

    2. Don’t go fighting with your land army on the mainland of Asia.

    -General Bernard Montgomery, WW2 British Army Commander

    1. Wukchumni

      The thing is, only a few thousand GI Joe & Janes bought the farm in Afghanistan over the last 17 years, as the powers that be militarily are all about the kill-ratio again, but this version is in regards to how few KIA compared to the meat grinders of Korea & Vietnam.

      Here’s how it goes down, there’s a full court press in the lame stream media to impress upon us how every veteran is a demi-god, and they’ll do it in the usual way (well known actress gives up her first class seat on a flight to lowly pfc still suffering from acne, or a country singer donates a liver to a corporal that drank through the warranty on the first one) that can only elicit the feelings they want us to express, we lowly 99% that didn’t enlist. It’s all a shaming exercise, aimed at us.

      And then on the 8th page of the front section of the NYT, a social calendar missive states that the USA has divorced from Afghanistan, and nobody notices.

      1. oh

        There’s so much hypocrisy in the media and with corporations who use the “Support the Troops” cry to glorify themselves. United Airlines gives priority boarding to veterans (if in uniform), NFL glorifies the troops before (almost) every game. Of course these same organizations don’t lift a finger to help a homeless Vet.

      2. The Rev Kev

        You want to know the difference between a soldier and a warrior? A soldier lets women, children, the aged and those in need like pregnant women go ahead of them. A warrior will let themselves be placed at the head of the line in front of everybody else.

    2. rd

      I wasn’t aware that we “had” Afghanistan, so it is not clear how we lose it. We have a bunch of soldiers over there occupying small plots of land and support a corrupt government that most Afghanis don’t like.

      I think by now the Taliban is vaccinated against allowing foreign terrorists occupy Afghanistan, which is why we were there in the first place. Turning Afghanistan into a democracy was a neo-con pipe dream that popped up opportunistically (probably a bunch of guys in a room drinking scotch and smoking cigars thought that one up).

      I have thought for 10 years now that we should negotiate with the Taliban and various tribal leaders, leave, and let them sort out the country as long as they guarantee that they don’t allow foreign terrorism to be launched from their country. When we invaded Iraq, we lost our initial small sliver of a window of opportunity to make real change in Afghanistan because Iraq just hoovered up the physical, monetary, and intellectual resources needed to make real change in Afghanistan.

      I appreciate all the stuff about women getting an education etc., but is that our job to camp thousands of soldiers in an Asian country to assure that? It would be nice if we could put that level of effort into equalizing our own education system.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I’m not sure about where the neocons fit in exactly. The Bush Administration, not necessarily legitimately elected, did need to react. Two, the Bush Administration saw 41’s sky high post Gulf War numbers collapse to a point where Poppy lost to Bill Clinton’s 42% of the vote. The Woodward book has an anecdote about Rumsfeld lamenting the lack of targets for the evening news, and Rummy might even make a point about a two million missile being used to blow up a 2 dollar tent.

        The neocons always wanted to control those choke points in the Middle East, but I think with Afghanistan the pathology is that it belongs to us now. Leaving would suggest we shouldn’t have had any kind of occupation. Obama could have left, but he doubled down on a surge in Afghanistan, making it a clearly bipartisan possession. He had another opportunity to leave after the Bin Laden raid in Pakistan.

        Given the arrangement between the U.S. and many of our “allies” is basically the same as the 19th century colonial powers, I think leaving would acknowledge the US is a 19th century colonial power and lacking moral supremacy, wrecking the elites views of themselves.

      2. Wukchumni

        Mountain warfare has to have the least bang for the buck, as far as getting results, and that’s a lot of what Afghanistan is all about, endless basin & range, most not worth having, let alone occupying.

        I hiked the Dolomites and was trying to conjure up what kind of winter hell WW1 was perpetrating there. All over the high ground, not a place usually occupied otherwise.

        Or sometimes on a hike in the Sierra Nevada i’ll daydream about what an attack route would be, or a good ambush spot, a great spot to hide out 1/2 mile off-trail, or what have you, in the way of natural offenses or defenses. Though as far as I know, peace has always reigned here between humans.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Napoleon Bonaparte once said: “You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war”. So after what, eighteen years, I reckon that the Taliban have got the western way of war down pat and know how to deal with it. The fact that they are winning shows this to be so.

      3. Eureka Springs

        Turning Afghanistan into a democracy

        This should be among the top laugh lines of our entire history. Especially an in their face spittle-laugh when used now. We are and have only ever waged war for the antithesis of democracy with extreme contempt at every turn, everywhere. Including and perhaps especially at home.

        I don’t know how people can assert others would reject democracy when it’s never really offered by those with bombs who have never had it.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,

          Here in lies the problem with the idea of bringing “democracy.” The rest of this piece largely labels the UK Parliament as a foreign power, and the Parliament in London would have more legitimacy than the United States has in Afghanistan.

      4. Olga

        It’s an old US habit – to lose things it does not have.. like China in 1949.
        As for the education of girls – it was actually those evil Rooskies who built schools back in the 1980s.

        1. John k

          Which pissed off the fundamentalists enough to get them to grab their guns.
          Unlike in Libya, where girls used to get as much education as boys under Gadhafi. We didn’t bomb them to bring equal Ed.

          1. Olga

            No, they grabbed their guns before – at the instigation of Pakistanis and US (Zbigniew B.) and with Saudi money. It was a trap for the Russians and they fell in. That is why VVP is much more cautious now.

      5. David

        From what I’ve seen of the country, Afghanistan was never anybody’s to lose. To the extent that the West had an objective there, it was to create a liberal state of the kind Locke or Hamilton would have recognised, which they saw (and still do) as the inevitable destiny of all societies. Those like the Taleban who got in the way, and even had counter-proposals of their own, needed to be destroyed so that Afghanistan could embrace its liberal destiny. We know how that turned out.

      6. eyelladog

        Afghanistan remains about two things:

        Opium trade


        Opium trade is obvious, the production numbers are there in a simple Startpage search. Interestingly, there was a decline this year.

        Oil is interesting. There is a small valley (Wakhan Corridor) that connects Afghanistan to China. With Iran next to Afghanistan, it is entirely conceivable that a pipeline could be directed from Iran to China, through Afghanistan, thus giving China access that she surely needs. How can you crush Persia, I mean, Iran if they can give access to a practical superpower?

        1. BoyDownTheLane

          I thought that it was about the vast mineral riches…
          as identified by satellite…
          “… the previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world…”

          That other stuff merely underwrites the cost of maintianing control of the metals.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            China will be mining all the minerals. So let China do the keeping of order. I suspect China will limit its concern to those tiny parts of Afghanistan where they have or will have mining operations.

            Of course, if the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to come turns terrorists loose against China, the Chinese will get all Tien An Men on the Taliban’s adze.

      7. witters

        “I have thought for 10 years now that we should negotiate with the Taliban and various tribal leaders, leave, and let them sort out the country as long as they guarantee that they don’t allow foreign terrorism to be launched from their country.” So the US bases are out of there too? If not, then this demand is just another imperialist gesture. So let’s be up front: “The US will get out.”

      8. James

        I have thought for 10 years now that we should negotiate with the Taliban and various tribal leaders, leave, and let them sort out the country as long as they guarantee that they don’t allow foreign terrorism to be launched from their country.

        Ahh, but shouldn’t they be able to make the same demand of us, knowing full well that we’d never intend to keep it? The problem has never been about Afghanistan, but rather the imperialist leviathan headquartered in DC and Tel Aviv/Jerusalem.

    3. Ignim Brites

      After Pearl Harbor, the US could probably have negotiated a peace treaty with Japan which would have left the Japanese with unchalleged control of the East Pacific. Instead, the people went all in on a monumental effort to force the Empire of Japan to its knees. Why? Because the people felt insulted. The same emotionality underlay the response to 911. As W put it standing in the rubble of the WTC, “The people who brought down these buildings will be hearing from all of us soon.”

      It was the same outrage the underlay the perception that Saddam Hussein’s unsubmissive attitude toward the US was intolerable.

      This is not to say that the attacks on 911 were legitimate. It is to say that it would be helpful to understand Al Queda’s long term objectives and whether or not there is any substantive US interest in opposing these objectives. Or maybe we should actively ally with Al Queda as in Syria.

    4. laughingsong

      And of course: “Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line”! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha… ” – Vizzini

  3. Henry Moon Pie

    A nice critique of Yuval Harari, darling of the liberal class. at

    One of Harari’s most striking prophecies is that artificial intelligence will come to replace even the most creative human endeavors, and ultimately be capable of controlling every aspect of human cognition. The underlying rationale for his prediction is that human consciousness—including emotions, intuitions, and feelings—is nothing more than a series of algorithms, which could all theoretically be deciphered and predicted by a computer program. Our feelings, he tells us, are merely “biochemical mechanisms” resulting from “billions of neurons calculating” based on algorithms honed by evolution…

    This myth, however attractive it might be to our technology-driven age, is as fictional as the theory that God created the universe in six days. Biologists point out principles intrinsic to life that categorically differentiate it from even the most complicated machine…

    The dangers of this fiction arise when others, along with Harari, base their ideas and plans on this flawed foundation. Believing nature is a machine inspires a hubristic arrogance that technology can solve all humanity’s problems.

    It is truly terrifying that there are billionaires with Harari’s mindset who combine with similarly oriented “geniuses” to [family blog] around with genes and geoengineering and pharmaceuticals in our brains. If you believe the world is a machine and that you are a visionary or master mechanic, why not “fix” what’s “wrong” with Nature?

    The problem is that all these guys are the equivalent of a shade tree mechanic trying to do maintenance on an airliner. There’s no way I’m going to fly on that plane, but I don’t have much choice about dwelling on this planet.

    1. Lee

      My go to quote of late regarding such notions:

      “People worry that computers will get too smart and take over the world, but the real problem is that they’re too stupid and they’ve already taken over the world.”

      ― Pedro Domingos

      1. ewmayer

        The quote at end of the Knuth NYT article in today’s Links is also apt:

        “I am worried that algorithms are getting too prominent in the world,” [Knuth] added. “It started out that computer scientists were worried nobody was listening to us. Now I’m worried that too many people are listening.”

    2. In the Land of Farmers

      There is a bunch of frightening stuff coming out of the libertarian “Intellectual Dark Web”. I like Harari’s thought about human’s needing stories, bu they are seeking to find out how to control the story. That is frightening. I also heard Bret Weinstein (From the Evergreen College protests who is now entangled with these people since his brother works with Peter Theil) that they believe that these stories control our genetics in some way and that it might be a way to control humanity. Eugenics much?

      There should be more exposure of these people who are all around Jordan Peterson. They have found a way to promote Libertarianism in their talks without speaking about it. Many of my progressive friends are fooled by their talk until i show them Peterson praising Ayn Rand. They all dismiss or deny climate change as well.

    3. Paul O

      I would not put his mind set in quite the same place as most of the tech billionaires – though I am not disagreeing with the critique either (from comments Max Tegmark and others have made, tech billionaires do appear to have diverse points of view) This is a link I saved from a little while back

      From the article, he does seem very keen to keep himself ‘detached’. Not an unreasonable personal choice.

      I would have to say that I very much enjoyed all three of his books and would recommend them. They do make you think whatever your views.

      1. Wukchumni

        Hear, here.

        I too enjoyed Harari’s books, and found them to be similar in a fashion to Jared Diamond’s works, in that they are thought provoking, in explaining a nuanced view that seems perfectly acceptable, you just never thought of it that way previously.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          wife allowed me in a bookstore again last week while waiting for chemo…and I picked up “Sapiens” because i vaguely had heard of it, and it looked innerestin…in exactly the way you describe.
          since then, I’ve seen some rather vicious critiques from folks I like,lol.
          like he’s a smart tom friedman or david brooks…the latest aristocratic guru, come to save us all.
          it’s on the to read shelf, regardless.
          I’m currently buried under a bunch of other books:ed said’s “orientalism”, WEB Du Bois”souls of black people”, chretien de Troyes(sp-2)(a re-read from adolescence),and both “mists of Avalon” and daddy herbert’s six dune books(ditto) for escapism.
          that (abridged, a mere 2 volumes) Toynbee over there has been whispering at me of late…which is worrisome.
          and behind him sits Spengler…who also mutters in the dark about how he’s pretty relevant right about now.
          I really need new glasses.

          1. Oregoncharles

            You can get passable reading glasses at the dollar store – they do have their uses. Just test them on nearby print till you find the right strength. I find it’s best to have them wherever I might use them, so 5 or 6 pairs.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              ja. my last prescription glasses(on my face right now) are from 2 years ago.
              my eyes are bad enough that I really need an update,lol.
              store bought readers worked for many years, but don’t do the trick any more.
              my bifocals—from 4 years ago—are taped and superglued, but I need them more and more for working in the shop or around the farm; medium distance.
              but I can still see the ear ring on a hog at 1000 yards,lol.
              eye glasses are a class issue, too…it’s expensive to get the real thing.
              monopoly is only partly to blame.

    4. Summer

      “The underlying rationale for his prediction is that human consciousness—including emotions, intuitions, and feelings—is nothing more than a series of algorithms, which could all theoretically be deciphered and predicted by a computer program. Our feelings, he tells us, are merely “biochemical mechanisms” resulting from “billions of neurons calculating” based on algorithms honed by evolution…

      This myth, however attractive it might be to our technology-driven age, is as fictional as the theory that God created the universe in six days. Biologists point out principles intrinsic to life that categorically differentiate it from even the most complicated machine…

      The dangers of this fiction arise when others, along with Harari, base their ideas and plans on this flawed foundation. Believing nature is a machine inspires a hubristic arrogance that technology can solve all humanity’s problems.”

      Believing nature is a machine…yes, it has been debunked over and over again. This leads me to my belief that they know it’s not true, but they understand the power, wealth, and control to be obtained by convincing people that it is true.

      They just have to convince you that it is true, not prove that it is…like so many other belief systems.

    5. knowbuddhau

      I love it, thanks.

      Speaking of myths, Alastair Cooke (h/t to the commenter whose name escapes me, like they all do) elaborates on this new Scientism:

      Professor John Gray, writing in his book, Black Mass, notes that “the world in which we find ourselves … is littered with the debris of utopian projects which – though they were framed in secular terms that denied the truth of religion – were in fact, vehicles for religious myth”. The Jacobin revolutionaries launched the Terror as a violent retribution for élite repression – inspired by Rousseau’s Enlightenment humanism [and Paine’s Age of Reason]; the Trotskyite Bolsheviks murdered millions in the name of reforming humanity through Scientific Empiricism; the Nazis did similar, in the name of pursuing ‘Scientific (Darwinian) Racism’.

      All these utopian, (murderous) projects effectively flowed from a style of mechanical, single-track, thinking that had evolved in Europe, over the centuries, and which seated the unshakeable sense of one’s own certainty and conviction — in the West European thinker, at least.

      These supposedly empirically-arrived-at certitudes – seated now in the human ego – triggered a re-awakening precisely to those early Judeo-Christian, apocalyptic notions: That history, somehow, was on a convergent course towards some human transformation, and an ‘End’, with fearful retribution for the corrupt, and a radically, redeemed, new world, for the elect. No longer (in today’s world), triggered through an act of God, but ‘engineered’ by the act of Enlightenment man.

      World redemption from its state of corruption was to be brought into being through Enlightenment principles of rationality and science. Peace was expected to ensue, after the End Time.

      These millenarian revolutionaries – exponents of the new Scientism, who hoped to force a shattering discontinuity in history (through which the flaws of human society would be excised from the body politic) – were, in the last resort, nothing other than secular representatives of the apocalyptic Judaic and Christian myth.

      There’s good, intelligible reason why the new boss is so much like the old. If we’d stop looking down our noses at myth, effectively proving Crooke right, maybe we’d see it.

    6. knowbuddhau

      From the article:

      The idea that humans—and indeed all of nature—can be understood as very complicated machines is in fact a uniquely European cultural myth that arose in the 17th century and has since taken hold of the popular imagination. In the heady days of the Scientific Revolution, Descartes declared he saw no difference “between the machines made by craftsmen and the various bodies that nature alone composes.” The preferred machine metaphor is now the computer, with Richard Dawkins (apparently influencing Harari) writing that “life is just bytes and bytes and bytes of digital information,” but the idea remains the same—everything in nature can ultimately be reduced to its component parts and understood accordingly.

      That’s exactly it. “Modern” thought is 400 years past its sell-by date. We’re organisms who think of ourselves as mechanisms. Newsflash, Liberals and Leftists: mechanisms have no human rights. If you can’t accept that science can’t know everything (and doesn’t even actually try), you’re just as bad as any other fundamentalist religious zealot.

      Scientistic zealots have had a lot to do with bringing into being this world of pain of ours. Hadn’t actually heard of Harari. Thanks for the warning.

      Some long-haired Nicodemite heretic name of Newton got it right. Note that, like Galileo, he denounced his own findings in the terms of his critics.

      (Sorry for the huge blocks. Some thoughts come in paragraphs. Also, be good to know some of the background to the Catholic/Descartes vs Protestant/Newton debate. Note the humility so sorely lacking these days.)

      Chomsky: Science, Mind, and Limits of Understanding

      The Science and Faith Foundation (STOQ), The Vatican, January 2014

      The mechanical philosophy provided the very criterion for intelligibility in the sciences. Galileo insisted that theories are intelligible, in his words, only if we can “duplicate [their posits] by means of appropriate artificial devices.” The same conception, which became the reigning orthodoxy, was maintained and developed by the other leading figures of the scientific revolution: Descartes, Leibniz, Huygens, Newton, and others.

      Today Descartes is remembered mainly for his philosophical reflections, but he was primarily a working scientist and presumably thought of himself that way, as his contemporaries did. His great achievement, he believed, was to have firmly established the mechanical philosophy, to have shown that the world is indeed a machine, that the phenomena of nature could be accounted for in mechanical terms in the sense of the science of the day. But he discovered phenomena that appeared to escape the reach of mechanical science. Primary among them, for Descartes, was the creative aspect of language use, a capacity unique to humans that cannot be duplicated by machines and does not exist among animals, which in fact were a variety of machines, in his conception.

      As a serious and honest scientist, Descartes therefore invoked a new principle to accommodate these non-mechanical phenomena, a kind of creative principle. In the substance philosophy of the day, this was a new substance, res cogitans [sic], which stood alongside of res extensa [sic]. This dichotomy constitutes the mind-body theory in its scientific version. Then followed further tasks: to explain how the two substances interact and to devise experimental tests to determine whether some other creature has a mind like ours. These tasks were undertaken by Descartes and his followers, notably Géraud de Cordemoy; and in the domain of language, by the logician-grammarians of Port Royal and the tradition of rational and philosophical grammar that succeeded them, not strictly Cartesian but influenced by Cartesian ideas.

      All of this is normal science, and like much normal science, it was soon shown to be incorrect. Newton demonstrated that one of the two substances does not exist: res extensa [sic]. The properties of matter, Newton showed, escape the bounds of the mechanical philosophy. To account for them it is necessary to resort to interaction without contact. Not surprisingly, Newton was condemned by the great physicists of the day for invoking the despised occult properties of the neo-scholastics. Newton largely agreed. He regarded action at a distance, in his words, as “so great an Absurdity, that I believe no Man who has in philosophical matters a competent Faculty of thinking, can ever fall into it.” Newton however argued that these ideas, though absurd, were not “occult” in the traditional despised sense. Nevertheless, by invoking this absurdity, we concede that we do not understand the phenomena of the material world. To quote one standard scholarly source, “By `understand’ Newton still meant what his critics meant: `understand in mechanical terms of contact action’.”

      It is commonly believed that Newton showed that the world is a machine, following mechanical principles, and that we can therefore dismiss “the ghost in the machine,” the mind, with appropriate ridicule. The facts are the opposite: Newton exorcised the machine, leaving the ghost intact. The mind-body problem in its scientific form did indeed vanish as unformulable, because one of its terms, body, does not exist in any intelligible form. Newton knew this very well, and so did his great contemporaries.

      John Locke wrote that we remain in “incurable ignorance of what we desire to know” about matter and its effects, and no “science of bodies [that provides true explanations is] within our reach.” Nevertheless, he continued, he was “convinced by the judicious Mr. Newton’s incomparable book, that it is too bold a presumption to limit God’s power, in this point, by my narrow conceptions.” Though gravitation of matter to matter is “inconceivable to me,” nevertheless, as Newton demonstrated, we must recognize that it is within God’s power “to put into bodies, powers and ways of operations, above what can be derived from our idea of body, or can be explained by what we know of matter.” And thanks to Newton’s work, we know that God “has done so.” The properties of the material world are “inconceivable to us,” but real nevertheless. Newton understood the quandary. For the rest of his life, he sought some way to overcome the absurdity, suggesting various possibilities, but not committing himself to any of them because he could not show how they might work and, as he always insisted, he would not “feign hypotheses” beyond what can be experimentally established.

    7. knowbuddhau

      Note that, like Galileo, he denounced his own findings in the terms of his critics. Orphan sentence from a deleted paragraph.

    1. Lee

      What livestock predators do you have in your area? How do the dogs do in discouraging them?

      Some years ago I visited the Sun Ranch, then owned by actor Steven Seagal, where they were at that time was trying out various non-lethal predator control methods. There were then both wolves and grizzlies spotted with some frequency on the property. I can’t recall if dogs were being employed, but I do recall much discussion of using firework frighteners and firearms with non-lethal ammo. I’ve seen black bears run off using such means, but a grizzly? You’d have to be a braver soul than I.

      1. Wukchumni

        A neighbor has a 200+/- pound Spanish Mastiff male that can howl, but is terrified of the chickens running around the yard, and could easily be on the varsity drool team, my what funneled jowls you have Boris!

        I mentioned to my neighbor that as much as it shed, you could make a rug out of the proceeds, and he just grinned and said no way was the dog ever coming in the house.

      2. diptherio

        We’ve got coyotes, wolves (though not many), mountain lions, and black bears. The dogs live with the livestock (goats and cows) and do a good job keeping everything away. The black bears have gotten chased off enough they don’t come around anymore. They seem to be genetically predisposed to run around and bark all night. And they are very territorial, which is why outside dogs are not allowed on the farm. They are quite protective and I’m pretty sure they’d go after a griz if one ever came by. On a side note, my aunt and uncle use great danes to fend off both black and grizzly bears whilst huckleberry picking.

        I’m not actually sure of their breed. I keep forgetting to ask.

    2. crittermom

      Thanks for sharing. So cute!
      I’ve known some Great Pyrenees (correct breed?) & they’re great dogs.

      Best described here, I believe:
      “These steadfast guardians usually exhibit a Zen-like calm, but they can quickly spring into action and move with grace and speed to meet a threat.”

      Congrats on the addition to your ‘family’.

  4. Seth Miller

    Sorry, Lambert. I agree with you most days. But, legally, feeling like you should obey a government suggestion to buy healthcare, or to eat your vegetables, or to cross the intersection only at the green light, is not the same as coercion. Bagley didn’t say that a law without an enforcement mechanism is like no law at all. He may well agree with you that “norms” and laws that amount to mere suggestions, are the same. What he said is that they are not coercive, within the meaning of Supreme Court jurisprudence. He is right about that.

    O’Connor’s opinion is classic judicial activism, substituting tendentious argumentation (such as the argument you quote) for reasoning that applies settled legal principles.

    1. Gareth

      Seth, do you believe that Justice Roberts will reverse himself ten years after he made his opinion clear? Will other conservative members of SCOTUS have a change of heart and jump ship? Is a law that is not enforceable actually a law, and why should it be in the register if it serves no purpose? O’Connor is calling people out on their wishful thinking, and there is no reason to defend the abomination that is the ACA when better solutions like Medicare for All are options available to us.

        1. tegnost

          from the bill black post, paraphrased, they’ll re write the law to make it legal now that they’ve unconstitutionally imposed the law, because the elite get what they want. I’ve been nagged recently by a feeling that there are parallels between brexit and the gfc. In the case of the gfc the elite just re wrote the book and bailed out who they wanted to and impoverished who they wanted to and look! Behold the magnificence of the fabulous recovery, we win because we have the richest people to ever live. So in brexit the overwhelming sense that it’ll all work out for the best. The difference being the us as a global mafia, while britain is just one of our local dons (not to rule out that the mafia has some plan for the crashed out uk) I understand this theory has holes, like I said it’s a nagging feeling hat there is some common ground between the two incidents and it’s more like control fraud than a disaffected populace that was given the chance to vote once and they did the wrong thing stupid proles. Maybe the mafia has a nimitz units worth of cake bearing ponies sailing into the channel led by a portuguese water dog named admiral nelson and that will save the day?

        2. dcblogger

          The Soviet Union will never permit the countries of the Baltic and Eastern Europe to be free and independent, until they did.

      1. Chromex

        Yeah.Agree with Gareth. If it is no longer a tax, the aca is unconstitutional under Robert’s opinion. Roberts of course was wrong then because there is a whole line of cases that state that the power to tax has to be scrutinized because it is the power to destroy and stating otherwise is judicial activism at its worst BTW and Roberts’ opinion smack of back room deals. The only constitutional way to get americans to buy a private product from a private entity is incentives ( a tax break) but that was not good enough for the insurers. I am an expanded medicare for all advocate, not a right winger but you can count on b9th parties to spot the flaws int the other party’s plans. Obama and Congress imposed a horrible act on us and we need to move on.

      2. todde

        If the law was deemed unconstitutional because of the fact that the tax was eliminated, then the remedy is to reinstate the tax, not eliminate the law.

        Especially since the Supreme Court has ruled the law as constitutional with the tax.

        If you don’t like a law, have Congress overturn it.

        Courts are here to decide if laws are legal under the Constitution, not whether they are an abomination or not.

        1. todde

          or you could eliminate just the Mandate.

          The mandate is definitely ‘severable’ from the rest of the law because the law existed and was enforced for 2 years before the mandate came into effect.

          So, horrible ruling by the Judge. You may like it for other reasons, but the ruling doesn’t have much legal merit.

        2. Gareth

          Todde, can you think of any time in the history of US jurisprudence where a judge has overruled Congress and imposed a tax after it has been repealed because it would impact an existing program? The power of the purse is exclusively given to Congress, more specifically the House. For a judge to impose a tax would be a dramatic violation of the separation of powers. Hence he chose to strike down ACA. O’Connor’s decision affords Congress the opportunity to save the ACA by reinstating the tax penalty. If they choose not to do so, then it is quite clear that their intent is that the law be struck down.

          They might find a cludge to save ACA, perhaps setting the penalty at one-tenth of a cent, to be rounded to the nearest dollar amount.

          Did my use of the word abomination trouble you? Please work with low-income families in states without Medicaid expansion who discover that they are thousands in debt to the federal government because they couldn’t predict their income perfectly for the coming year and the prior year’s tax credit is being clawed back. Or perhaps you would like to talk to the young women in these states who fall into the coverage gap that was never closed. They don’t earn enough for subsidized premiums, and they earn too much for Medicaid. I remember one who had horrible health issues and really was trying to get coverage so she wouldn’t be bankrupted medically. We had to tell her she would have to pay the full premiums to get coverage, coverage that would have a deductible that was more than half her annual income. She earned too much for Medicaid and too litle for ACA subsidies. She chose no coverage, and she ended up in medical bankruptcy.

          Meanwhile, the Obama-era Democrats were trumpeting their horns, gleefuly declaring the problem of universal healthcare solved. It wasn’t. ACA is a geographic, political, and income lottery. The coverage you get depends on where you live, the policies of the state where you live, and on your unpredictable income. It’s not universal coverage; it’s not fair coverage, and it can inflict dramatic harm on the poor depending on their results in the coverage lottery. It most definitely is an abomination when we could have Medicare for All or any of the successful systems in other developed countries.

          1. Todde

            The word abomination didnt offend me. It is irrelevant.

            Have you ever seen a tax cut make an establish law unconstitutional?

            I will argue all day long that if a tax cut makes a law unconstitutional the legal remedy is to nulify the tax cut, not the law.

            And ive got 100 yeara if case law to back that up, starting with frost and emding with seibus.

      3. Seth Miller

        I believe that Roberts will see O’Connor’s decision as contravening his reasoning. The Sibelius case was based on a very novel theory that the mandate violated the commerce clause because, as Fox News put it, the power to force people to purchase broccoli (or health insurance) is beyond the commerce power of Congress.

        The point of this novel theory was government coercion, as Bagley correctly aserts. He’s not saying that the mandate is not “actually a law,” and neither am I. He’s saying that, absent coercion, there is no commerce clause problem. He is right about that.

        1. Seth Miller

          The money quote from the opinion in Sibelius: “The individual mandate, however, does not regulate existing commercial activity. It instead compels individuals to become active in commerce by purchasing a product, on the ground that their failure to do so affects interstate

          O’Connor (and some comments here) substitutes the impact of a feeling of moral obligation to follow the law, for what was, prior to Sibelius, the impact of a statute that “compels” individual conduct. They are different.

          The current court is a conservative one. Generally, that should mean that academic legal questions are avoided, and that the concept of standing to sue is given alot of weight. If nobody has been fined or penalized, it’s difficult for me to see how anyone has standing to challenge the law on the basis of O’Connor’s theory, and difficult to see how a ripe controversy will ever arise. Conservatives may be snowflakes, but “Obamacare hurt my feelings” is not a ripe legal controversy that gives them standing to sue.

          1. todde

            If the Individual mandate is eliminated and it is part of a ‘shared responsibility’ then do other entities that have a ‘shared responsibility’ have standing to sue to eliminate their mandates?

            If i was a Repub or an angry small business person that would be my next tactic. Although good luck as the mandates came into effect at different times which would seem to indicate they are severable.

            Irony of ironies, the Courts reinstate the tax penalty that the Repub congress eliminated.

          2. Gareth

            Fair enough. Thank you for taking the time to lay out a plausible theory and outcome. It’s nice to see someone seriously engage; I only wish the legal columnists in the press would have taken the time to do analysis like they used to. We will have to see how Roberts, and perhaps Kavanaugh, decide.

      4. todde

        “I am suing the government over a provision of a law that doesn’t damage me in any way. As a remedy to my damages that don’t exist, I want the entire law deemed unconstitutional, instead of the part that I am saying damages me, even though no actual damages exist.”

        That is a weird legal principle to advocate for.

        1. todde

          O and by the way, when the law actually damaged me, it was ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court.

          wtf kind of lawsuit is this?

      5. drumlin woodchuckles

        Roberts works for the Overclass. He pretzeled logic in order to call Obamacare constitutional because Big Insura wanted a trillion dollar bailout going forward.

        If this suit reaches the Supreme Court, Rogers will find a way to collude with the 4 “liberal” justices to call Obamacare constitutional, in order to preserve the trillion dollar bailout for Big Insura that he worked so hard to protect to begin with.

        The “law” has nothing to with it. Trying to predict what Roberts would decide based upon his “legal” opinions and theories is pointless and self-confusing. The crudest and most vulgar class-money-power analysis will predict what Roberts will try to do.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Sorry, Lambert. I agree with you most days. But, legally, feeling like you should obey a government suggestion to buy healthcare, or to eat your vegetables, or to cross the intersection only at the green light, is not the same as coercion.

      No need to apologize for disagreement; it’s how the blog progresses. That said, I think you’re wrong and for two reasons: (1) Read the post. The thesis I am debunking is that the mandate with no shared responsibility payment is not coercive “in the slightest degree.” Obviously, that’s ridiculous. If you don’t believe norms have, to a degree, coercive force try wearing Bermuda shorts to the office on a non-casual day. Or, more to the point, putting up a pro-atheist poster when everyone else in the office has a Bible quotation on their desk. More centrally, (2) coercion is not binary but a spectrum (which is why “degree” is doing work the author does not want it to do). As O’Connor correctly says: “Law therefore has an enormous influence on social norms and individual conduct in society.” Is “enormous influence” 11 on the knobs of coercion? No. Is it zero? No, as well. Now, you may well argue that this is not “coercion” within the meaning of “Supreme Court jurisprudence.” I just read Bagley again, and I don’t see where he makes that argument. Further, he doesn’t cite to any cases, and neither do you.

      1. Todde

        The legal term is injury in fact.

        spokeo v robbins
        laird v tatum

        In the second one, government collected data on people, which made Laird feel coercion to ‘chill’ his own speech, which was a violation of his 1st Amendment rights.

        Court ruled no injury, no standing.

    1. jsn


      I saw the article in the summer about this guy inventing this thing and getting funding for it as a living experiment to try to start to solve the problem of the Pacific garbage patch.

      Is there a back story about corruption or profiteering or cynical abuse of funds provided?

      So he tried something and it didn’t work as expected so he’s trying to fix it… I haven’t tried to address the Pacific garbage patch yet.

      1. Alex V

        Hm, I’m more thinking precocious dropout over-promises technical solution to massive challenge better solved through cultural and social change while collecting funding from mis-educated Silicon Valley Masters of the Universe.

  5. Roger Smith

    Schumer on Healthcare: “I’m going to support a plan that can pass, and that can provide the best, cheapest health care for all Americans.”

    Dude… you are a LEGISLATOR. He phrases this as if we throw ideas up to the gods and they, in their wisdom vote on them. Nothing we can do. Truth is, we do in fact do this, accept the gods are those with the most money and influence over complete worthless people like Chucky here. It is your job to legislate and get votes Chuck. You can get a plan passed when you don’t want it to.

    Then the headline about Bernie not being treated as a front runner…. DUH. What did people think would happen?? Democrats are not going to change/compromise and they certainly will not go gentle into that good night. I will be severely disappointing if we have to sit through another election cycle of people aimlessly smashing their heads into the walls of the Democrat Party. This is not a pathway forward.

    1. zagonostra

      The Democratic leadership’s position on M4All is disingenuous and revealing to say the least.

      Unfortunately what it reveals is lost on most of my friends who vote…the outrage that I feel is channeled nicely in below Jimmy Dore Clip. It’s why you won’t see Jimmy on an insert box on the NYT like you do with comedians like Colbert or the guy who took over for Jon Stewart – forgot his name already…the jester needs to be confined to defined parameters of civility and comity (sic).

        1. ewmayer

          Noah’s insufferable, arrogant partisan smugness is a perfect embodiment of the attitudes of the Dem misleadership class and illustrates why She Lost. and makes me glad she did. Despite the manifold horrors of the Trump presidency, an HRC presidency would have brought it own horrors, including a complete disregard – as in, not even credible lip service – of working class issues. It would have fit Colin Powell’s wikileaked characterization of Hillary as someone with a habit of “screwing this up with hubris”. Noah is one of the public ‘entertainment’ faces of that hubris, as is Colbert.

    2. Eureka Springs

      It’s more than a fair set of questions/demands by all those little $ contributors last time around to know with certainty and great detail whether and if so how Bernie intends to bring more than a nerf ball to a party of dirty cheating fist fighters this time around.

      The silence on all of this is troubling. Meanwhile Perez doubles down trying to privatize and centrally control from the top even more.

      1. Hepativore

        The question is not whether or not the Democratic Party is going to cheat, but how much and what new strategies to do so they will attempt. Sanders has about the same chance as being the Democratic Party pick as a Twinkie does in a fat camp.

        There are also probably myriads of legal loopholes that the Democratic Party leadership has discovered to keep him off of the ballot if Sanders does decide to run again. Also, even if what they are doing is blatantly illegal, it is not like election laws are actually enforced as the politicians in charge of doing so are the ones that often benefit. The Democratic Party will never allow Bernie Sanders to be president.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > how Bernie intends to bring more than a nerf ball to a party of dirty cheating fist fighters this time around.

        Develop a mass base with (a) the Town Halls and (b) his own, very effective, media empire. He also retained his list, so it won’t be part of the centralization (which, since it benefits the same five consultants who take the skim at the DNC, will probably be just as effective as the Clinton campaign*.

        NOTE * In other words, 2020 will be mind-bogglingly horrid, but — absent incidents with small planes, etc. — that doesn’t mean the Democrat powers that be will be any more competent than the last time.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          If the DemParty can prevent a Sanders nomination, all the Sanderbacker people out here in society could still make that DemParty victory a Pyrrhic victory if they all individually silently resolve ( and silently mean it) in their tens of millions . . . . to Never Ever vote for a DemNominee who does not impress them as being the sort of SanderSocial Democrat they would actively want if they cannot have the BernieMan his own self by name.

          But they will all have to personally resolve to lash their tens of millions of personal selves to their own tens of millions of personal masts to make themselves unable to respond to all the Siren Songs about the DemNom being “not as bad as” Trump. Even if Sanders himself is taken hostage and forced to make pro DemNom videos . . . . the Sanderbackers will have to be resolved ahead of time to ignore those hostage-videos and withhold their votes from any insufficiently Bernie-form DemNom no matter what the resulting pain.

          1. Hepativore

            What makes you think that Democratic Party elites would not rather lose to Trump than ever let a progressive liberal like Bernie Sanders become president? For all of the rhetoric on how Trump is evil incarnate, both parties signed off on the expansion of the powers granted to him under our security state.

            Plus, I am sure that the wealthy donors and superPACs behind the mainstream Democratic Party will happily turn around and support Trump during the presidential election against Sanders as Trump has been giving our corporate overlords all sorts of goodies despite the fake populism angle he took during the election. The donors behind the mainstream Democratic Party would probably either tell the Democrats to stand down and try and help Trump covertly, or their donors might just decide to throw their full weight behind Trump.

            From what the 2016 election seemed to imply, many Democratic candidates do not seem to care if they lose, as long as their donors are happy. After all, their political careers might be over with an election loss, but they can still get nice, cushy, lobbyist jobs after their time in office.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              You have somehow understood my meaning to be the reverse of what it actually is. Of COURSE the Democratic Party would rather lose to Trump than permit Sanders to be the DemCandidate who wins.

              I am merely saying that I hope all the SanderBackers are preparing themselves now to NEVER EVER vote FOR a Clintobamazoid Democrat if that is what the Party gives us. If the Dem Nominee is not SanderSocial Democratic enough, let the Trump win.

    3. Cynthia

      Supporting a healthcare plan that can pass simply means a plan that the healthcare lobby says yes to. The people have no say in what gets passed. They didn’t have any say when ObamaCare got passed and they won’t have any say when TrumpCare or SchumerCare gets passed, either. In other words, whatever replaces ObamaCare will be no different from ObamaCare. Its replacement will be purely symbolic, just as most things that gets passed by Congress these days. Look no further than the Senate vote to end our support for the war in Yemen and you will know that anything that replaces ObamaCare will be nothing more than a symbolic gesture completely devoid of any meaningful replacement value.

      Unfortunately as well, if we were to ever get some sorts of Medicare-for-All, or even some sort of Medicaid-for-All, it too won’t get passed unless the corporate healthcare lobby says yes to it. That means we will end up with a Medicare/ Medicaid-for-All plan that is first and foremost profitable to the healthcare industry, from provider and insurer to Big Pharma and Big Date, for-profit and non-profit alike. No form of Medicare/ Medicaid-for-All will ever get passed that doesn’t enrich the healthcare industry as a whole. One of their goals is to move everyone off of “traditional” Medicare/Medicaid plans run directly by the government and place them in “managed care” plans run exclusively by private insurers.

      We are already halfway there, no doubt. For instance, skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) now get penalized for hospital readmissions but ONLY for their patients who are covered under “traditional” Medicare/ Medicaid. All of their patients who are covered under “managed care” plans are exempt from this penalty. This discourages skilled nursing care providers from taking patients who are covered under traditional plans, leading to more and more Medicare/ Medicaid patients to opt for private operated, managed care plans. Needless to say, having more patients covered under managed care plans doesn’t result in better care or better outcome. Nor does it result in lower costs. If anything, it will result in more skimming off the top in the form of higher overhead costs, leaving less money to spend on actual patient care. Thus, in the end, cost of care will continue to shoot higher with nothing to show for it.

      But hey, private insurers lobbied for it and won. Which means that their profits will grow even more while patients get less care and lower quality of care. On top of that, health insurance costs will continue to rise even higher and the healthcare sector will gobble up an even bigger share of our nation’s GDP, resulting lower earnings and fewer jobs in other sectors of the economy. No doubt that our healthcare system has become a huge drain on our economy. You can thank neoliberal boneheads on both sides of the aisle, from Obama to Trump and Schumer, for designing our healthcare system this way. We end up with a system that is crapified to the core, not to mention very costly to our economy!

  6. Octopii

    Deer are like vermin anywhere they live without predators. They multiply rapidly and denude the landscape of azaleas, ivy, day lillies, young trees, rhododendron, etc, etc. They can only be culled at great expense and with controversy. I’d welcome some poachers! As long as they killed the females and removed the carcasses.

    1. Fred1

      As a long time gardener, I ascribe to the view that a weed is any plant that is growing where you don’t want it to.

      Similarly as to wildlife, vermin is any animal living where you don’t want it to. I grew up in a very rural area in the 60s where there was no hunting season for deer because there were no deer. I never saw a deer until the late 70s. I was amazed when I saw my first deer in the wild, which was not in my backyard.

      Now a herd of about 70 deer roam my neighborhood with impunity. I don’t think that as a matter of policy we should hunt them to near extinction, but the deer population has become seriously unbalanced.

      1. Wukchumni

        We had a mountain lion around these parts 3 years ago that ended up being on the receiving end of a depredation permit, after it had killed a decent amount of goats, chickens, cats, etc. The cougar also culled a number of deer, decimating the herd, but not killing it off in entirety.

        I never saw it when it was in it’s prime-only heard it’s plaintive wails, and was shown a photo of the late lion striking a pose, posthaste.

        Since then, the deer have made their comeback and a dozen of them laid waste to young fruit trees, coming in under the chicken wire enclosures in particular in the fall, when all other native trees are well past their prime, but those nice young trees you water every day are so succulent, grrrrrrr…

        So, i’m going to have to make sure they can’t get under my defenses, as i’ve asked Congress for a lousy $500k, in order to build a wall (hopefully it comes with a moat-but not a dealbreaker if not so equipped) of sufficient height around the orchard, to keep 4 legs bad baffled.

      2. Carolinian

        But that would be like killing Bambi’s mom. Of course we have a cowmageddon on a daily basis and they also herd them into gross and smelly feedlots before the big slaughter but Disney never made a movie about it.

        Clearly deer do need to be culled and I don’t think we can object as long as I don’t have to do it.

      3. SimonGirty

        About three weeks before Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill lost it’s innocence, I’d had to pick my way through a doe and her fawns (nonchalant, wanting treats). Having lived up where we’d have ~20 deer cross our property, browsing plants like moonseed. I’m just guessing “poaching” is how “the authorities” cull or thin the herd of deplorables? I prefer nutrea.

    2. Carla

      I live in the city. Driving to a restaurant for an early dinner last night, we had to slow down to avoid hitting the most gorgeous young buck, bounding across a city street.

      1. Wukchumni

        I must’ve seen 300 deer in Mineral King this spring-fall, with the favorite family outing being 20 feet away from three 6 point bucks, a doe, and in the distance behind some shrubberies only the sound that a really young fawn makes, which is an awful lot like a human baby crying.

        There’s no hunting in the National Park, so it’ll be up to the mountain lions to come through next year, and they were seldom seen this summer, maybe their way is to let your prey go fallow and forget about their predator while taking your hunting game elsewhere, and then pounce the year after, on a larger feast.

        …stay tuned

    3. Lee

      Having spent a fair amount of time working with wildlife conservation groups, I don’t know which is worse, the poaching of an overabundant species or Disney’s misrepresentations of the natural world. Have you read Richard Nelson’s Heart and Blood: Living with Deer in America.

      As an antidote to Bambi poisoning, I recommend:

      1. Carolinian

        Disney’s misrepresentations of the natural world

        That is a wonderful movie though–one of his best.

    4. makedoanmend

      “Deer are like vermin anywhere they live without predators.”

      Humans essentially have no predators*. What are we called?

      *leaving out bacteria, viruses and the such

      1. Fred1

        “What are we called?”

        I don’t have a name, but how about a behavior. The space invaders from the movie “Independence Day.”

      2. Synapsid


        Paul Colinvaux, an early ecologist who helped shape the field, called us niche appropriators.

    5. Harold

      I wouldn’t call them vermin, but they’ve co-evolved with predators to keep down their population, which otherwise would multiply infinitely beyond what their environment could support, until it crashed in starvation and disease. They are prey animals like mice and rabbits.

    6. Eclair

      I loved deer and was totally against hunting them …. until we took over my in-laws’ three acres in Western NY. I had been reading permaculture articles and books (Sepp Holtzer’s book was my bedside bible) and had plans to create a paradise of fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, perennial veggies, herbs and pollinator-friendly plants.

      Three years … and many tears … later, I trying to live with the increased precipitation in the area; wet feet killed off the 9 baby fruit trees and has limited where we can plant perennials, like asparagus and berry bushes. My spouse grew up here and gardened with his parents; he says the precipitation was adequate (no irrigation required) but the sodden ground is something new. And, there were no deer … except in the surrounding forests.

      What did grow … asparagus, day lilies, currents, rhubarb, herbs, tomatoes, pole beans were all nibbled down to stubs by the herds of deer that roam the area. And, forget peas, lettuce and chard. (We did get a beautiful crop of onions and garlic! And sage.) It’s not like there are not hundred of acres of yummy woodland, pastures and old apple trees dropping their fruits to feed them. But they prefer farm to table.

      Old-timers tell me that no one hunts for meat any longer, except the Amish. The hunters that do go out want the big bucks with their enormous racks. I try to look upon it, not as the fault of the deer, who are doing only what deer do, but the fault of us human super-predators, who have killed the wolves and big cats that would take out the weakest members of the deer herds, the sick, the tender babies and the females, and keep everything in balance.

      So, this spring when we return, our first job will be to build fences. I am sure that this was not what Robert Frost had in mind when he wrote his poem.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        There is also the fishing line trick (although I’m sure readers will have other suggestions).

        Deer, besides being stupid, don’t see well. So if you put black fishing line at the level of deer’s legs around your garden (or your beds?) they will sense the obstruction when they run into the fishing line but not be able to see it, which will spook them. I also planted plenty of clover outside the beds, as a distraction. That, they can eat. Now, my deer infestation wasn’t bad, and I don’t know whether these tricks will work in the day. But they did work for me.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        I have read that the pre-Conquest Indian Nations used to manage huge areas as ” natural deer gardens” and that they held periodic round-ups/ huntathons to kill a sustainable amount of deer each year and use “every part of the deer” for every relevant purpose.

        Suburbias are the modern “natural deer gardens” of the present day. Suburbians should really find a present-day way to hold deer roundups/ huntathons to harvest a sustainable per cent each year of the dear they have created such lush gardenscapes for. That way the deer could be part of the permaculture.

    7. Oregoncharles

      If they ate ivy, we wouldn’t have anywhere near so much of it. I wish they would.

      In Oregon, people whose planting are being damaged can get a special permit to kill deer. One of our neighbors shot one through her kitchen window, I suspect without a permit – though she might have had a license. Trouble, is, there’s no safe direction to shoot; she was lucky she didn’t hit someone.

  7. zagonostra

    >AI-5 and the forbidden future of Brasil

    “I just hope that future generations will learn to punish the criminals of the past. That they arrest, dishonor and throw to the gutter those putschists of 2016 and 2018. Those with the courage to do what we have not done. Or their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will pay again, with blood, and hunger.”

    And so it goes in the the good-old U.S.of A. President Obama had a chance in 2008 to deliver “hope” and he squandered it, he purloined the future by failing Justice.

  8. Wukchumni

    Devil’s Ombudsman Dept:

    Ok, so we cut our considerable losses in the ‘stan box and split, which signals to the rest of the world that we’re done being the cop whose beat was watching over the graveyard of empires, and then what other defense outpost dominoes fall over in theory?

  9. The Rev Kev

    “The Maria Butina Case Is Not About Spying”

    Wish I could find the video again but this year I came across an old video of John McCain talking about second amendment gun rights on camera in a direct appeal to the Russian people. Since Maria Butina was also trying for the same thing while in the US, you do wonder if they had mutual friends and contacts. If so, McCain would have some ‘splainin’ to do if he hadn’t upped and died.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “REVEALED: There Were Two CIA Torture Programs”

    The trouble with torture is that it is so unreliable a method as under pain and stress, people will make up stories to please their tortures to make the suffering stop. It has been note the high stress and suicides of the people that control drones that attack and kill people in other countries though they themselves are completely safe on a base. I wonder if someone is keeping track of the tortures for the same sort of long term stress. Torture degrades not only the tortured but also the torturer. The trouble is that through popular media, torture is becoming acceptable now.
    A true story here. A coupla years ago the US military sent a delegation to the producer of the TV series “24”. They told him about a problem that they were experiencing with new officer recruits. These young people entering the military were convinced that torture worked and was not a crime as they had seen Jack Bauer do it successfully on “24”. These recruits had to be told that no, torture was not a reliable method and that in fact it could be a career terminating offense. Even after explaining all this and asking the guy to tone it back down, the TV producer still did nothing to change it as he “just knew that it worked”.

    1. a different chris

      >as he “just knew that it worked”.

      Lordy. I was hoping that he “just knew that it worked to get eyeballs” because I don’t expect anything better from Hollywood, but he actually believed in it? That is equal parts sad and scary.

      PS: never watched the show, it looked idiotic from pretty much any angle.

    2. Anon

      “The trouble with torture is that it is so unreliable a method as under pain and stress, people will make up stories to please their torturers to make the suffering stop.”

      Similar to the tactics Robert Mueller is using? Threaten your family, bleed you into bankruptcy, offer “deals” for favorable testimony.

      1. LarryB

        Yes, which are standard law enforcement tactics in this country, at all levels of government. Nothing special going on here!

    3. Jonhoops

      More likely that the producer got orders from his CIA handlers to ignore the mopes from the military and keep up the good work on promoting torture as effective.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > people will make up stories to please their tortures to make the suffering stop

      The story we were obviously looking for was a story to justify the Iraq War, but that story never seems to have been provided. So, although brutal, we are incompetent torturers, our victims are remarkably disciplined, or the stories provided were all so implausible as to be worthless (worse than “Curveball“). Or all three!

      1. The Rev Kev

        Read it in an article on the website which I have been reading for nearly twenty years now. Some stories make such an impression on you that you do not forget them and this was one of them. It’s very late here local time so do not have time to go digging into their files to retrieve the original article to post a link. Sorry.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Not offended at all as I could see that it was a genuine question. This incident would have happened when that show was at the height of its popularity several years back.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > A coupla years ago the US military sent a delegation to the producer of the TV series “24”. They told him about a problem that they were experiencing with new officer recruits. These young people entering the military were convinced that torture worked and was not a crime as they had seen Jack Bauer do it successfully on “24”. These recruits had to be told that no, torture was not a reliable method and that in fact it could be a career terminating offense.

        Not just recruits. The Atlantic:

        The Supreme Court Justice cites Jack Bauer and the Hollywood torture show “24” as relevant background for constitutional jurisprudence:

        “Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. … He saved hundreds of thousands of lives,” Judge Scalia said. Then, recalling Season 2, where the agent’s rough interrogation tactics saved California from a terrorist nuke, the Supreme Court judge etched a line in the sand.
        “Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?” Judge Scalia challenged his fellow judges. “Say that criminal law is against him? ‘You have the right to a jury trial?’ Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don’t think so.

        “So the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. And ought we believe in these absolutes.”

        Earth to Justice Scalia: Jack Bauer does not exist.

        There’s a good deal of yammering right now about disinformation, an “information crisis,” etc. I would say any such crisis has been building for quite some time, and has already damaged the brains of many of our elites.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Did any of the “fellow judges” think to say that Jack Bauer is a fictional character and that torture looks like it works on the Jack Bauer Show because the writers write the screenplay to make it look that way in make-believe . . . ?

          Did any of the “fellow judges” think to say that? Did any of the “fellow judges” ask Scalia right there in that setting if he thought Jack Bauer was a “real person”?

      1. pjay

        We seem to be assuming torture is mainly intended to extract truthful information or intelligence. There are many other reasons why torture is used, for example:

        * To foster fear and terror in a population we want to control.
        * To foster anger, hatred, and reaction in groups we want to stir up or mobilize.
        * To extract “confessions” or “information” to support a narrative or justify policies, whether true or not.
        * To utilize sadistic psychological conditioning to harden individuals, groups, or our own population toward a dehumanized “other.”

        Torture may not be very effective in obtaining “truth” from a victim, but can be very effective in accomplishing these other tasks. That is why it has been a tool of U.S. policy since WWII in numerous contexts.

      2. pjay

        On a related issue: Jane Mayer used to be one of my favorite journalists, if not my very favorite, for articles like this. But after reading her last few contributions to Trump-Putin-Russia derangement, I am now convinced that Jack Bauer got to her.

      3. The Rev Kev

        That looks like the one that I read all those years ago. Thanks for that as I was going to go looking for article that this morning. And yeah, there is much more. Here is a small anecdote for you. About the same time there was a radio shock jock who was saying on his program that water-boarding wasn’t so bad as the critics made it out to be. Got so convinced that he offered to be water-boarded himself and so had it all arranged in some public place to make his point. There were crowds there and other media but I think that you can guess the rest of the story yourself. :)

  11. Wukchumni

    I’d mentioned a North American Mini-Mad-Max on account of some circumstance (emp or gmp) where the grid goes down for a couple weeks or couple months, and that means the pumps that bring gas & water aren’t operating, along with the entire fiat money transfer system, aside from coins & cash.

    What happens to us, how do we react?

    Oh, and every last gun is in perfect working order…

  12. tricia

    and speaking of theory and practice re Jacobin, Jacobin never seems to support a left-leaning, socialist government struggling to implement socialism in a very difficult world (ie in the cross-hairs of the US for destabilization and take-down) while in power. Funny.

    On Brazil (but same can be said for Venezuela, Nicaragua, etc):

  13. Tom Stone

    Calling Ketchup a vegetable doesn’t make it one, despite the legislation congress passed making it one in regard to school lunches ( Heinz).
    Calling a self loading or semi auto rifle an “Assault Rifle” doesn’t make it one either.
    An Assault rifle is a SELECT FIRE ( Semi or full auto) rifle firing an cartridge intermediate between a pistol cartridge and a full power rifle cartridge.
    The post reconstruction south had “Sensible Gun Laws”, the effect of which was to disarm poor people and especially minorities.
    And the sight of crosses burning on front lawns became common.

    When people like the sherriff of Ferguson Mo or Jeff Sessions are the ones who decide which people can be trusted with guns life gets real interesting for anyone who doesn’t conform.

    1. polecat

      So, how many Congress Folk are US/Israeli dualies .. ?? Perhaps if their American citizenship were revoked, we as a sovereign state might actually put forth a halfway sane foreign policy !

  14. WobblyTelomeres

    FWIW, my flip phone (voice only, no text, no data) received a blocked call yesterday, then immediately and somewhat mysteriously did a full reset. I am currently viewing it with great suspicion.

    Be careful out there.

    1. crittermom

      Oh, boy. Say it isn’t so!
      An Android phone I was given sits in its box after using it for a brief period, as I went back to a tiny old flip phone (also voice only).
      I hated the Android for numerous reasons, including the technical spying issues they present.

      I reactivated the flip & carry it mainly in case my car breaks down (which it did recently).

      THAT phone had sat in a box for years prior, as I’d never wanted a cell phone & never lived where there was service. (A friend had bought it for me).

      I’d felt pretty ‘safe’ when I went back to it.
      Your news is not good. Thanks for the warning.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “America’s hidden war in Syria”

    This whole thing seems to be a variant of the plan that the RAND Corporation put together a number of years ago. Their plan was basically a plan to steal Syria’s oil in the east and have a large zone around the Euphrates river to get it out of the country to western markets. Compare the map in this article to the one envisioned by them at-

    Of course it is not going that well. There are only a few thousand US troops and contractors which cannot do the job successfully long term. And the US/Saudi Arabians are only spending money on security and local councils with little or nothing for the average people. They are trying to recruit 40,00 local troops but have only gotten a few thousand together. The local Arabs will no way accept being occupied by the Kurds as part of a greater Kurdistan nor will the Turks tolerate that either. The place is a fur-ball of problems.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      My guess is the logistics are a nightmare, and the neocon types never really understood the importance of pre-positioning and the Baathists not being particularly interested in fighting in 2003. All they can do now is sow chaos.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      I thought the Syrian oil reserves were so tiny a per cent of world oil reserves as to be not worth stealing. In which case, if US forces really are there to try to control the oil, is it to prevent any of it from benefiting the Syrian Arab Republic?

      1. The Rev Kev

        The Syrian oil reserves are not that much but you are talking about billions of dollars here. Remember that horizon to horizon oil convoy that ISIS was sending to Turkey and Israel that the coalition with all its satellites and drones could never just see – until the Russians turned it to ash? It was that important enough.
        As to your later question, it is probably a mixture of both. Remember we western countries have refused any and all financial aid to rebuild the nation of Syria until Assad steps down as President, place is made for those fighting the government i.e. jihadists, and a bunch of other demands. In other words trying to win the war that was just lost. Those oil reserves would help to rebuild the nation which is why the US, UK and French troops are sitting on it like the dog in the manger.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Nary a mention of WMDs or Iraq in the article. Western elites have pushed conspiracy theories for a long time. America has been beset by enemies for decades. The “OMG Russia” stuff is particularly cartoonish.

      I do think it is getting worse. The “End of History” rhetoric in the 90’s really addled the minds of the elite. Then of course, the relative prosperity for the upper 20% created the illusion the elites in power were worthy of being kept around. Did Bill Clinton have anything to do with the good aspects of the economy? If you link it to the tech boom, the answer is no as the Governor of Arkansas didn’t institute the national policies which created the infrastructure for the tech boom. We see both HRC and Jeb! in 2016. How bizarre is that? Part of the problem is these parties have no class in wait to take power. Instead of a person who ran and took power on their own (Jeb couldn’t win an election in 1994), the parties are inherited positions under the pressures of history. The lack of churn has created a class of people who aren’t capable of dealing with problems, only searching for an excuse to justify their continued position. The idea of change (not branded questions about entrepreneurs) and agency is beyond them.

        1. ewmayer

          And the eponymous ‘algorithm’! (But shh, please don’t tell Don Knuth, he has a lot invested in this Persian-dude-named al-Khwārizmī silliness.)

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Here is an article touted by former Vice President, Dick Cheney, detailing the conspiracy between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. The author is currently a member of the #resistance.

      Don’t get me wrong: Russia is a serious adversary of the US and democratic West. Putin seeks to dominate the small and unfortunate states that live under Russia’s shadow. He wants to displace America as the leading outside power in the Middle East. And he wants to downgrade American prestige. No doubt sowing social division inside Europe and the US is part of the plan.

      This is from the NYPost piece lamenting conspiracy theories.

  16. Wukchumni

    Usually i’ll wait until January, but the urge to purge is upon me, the 1st day you can ignite a burn pile in the county, and the one going up in flames today has been the product of adding to a more substantial ball of string since April, as i’m headed into year 11 of fireproofing the joint. Dribs & drabs of all kinds of wood go into the mix, essentially anything smaller than i’d use in the fireplace. This pile is about 6 feet wide and 3 feet tall. I’ll add in dead stuff that was alive recently and is a bit green and needs the high heat, as the original pile begins to lessen in fiery.

    From start to finish around 20 minutes, and then i’ll shovel the edges in and let it go for a few hours on it’s lonesome, nothing around it can catch on fire.

    If i’d lit the pile in August, they would’ve locked me up and threw away the key, as i’d be the one that started a wildfire, but that was then and this is now. Everything is greened up, with a 2 inch high lawn, on it’s way to 3-4 feet tall.

    1. Andrew John

      I enjoy your updates from the strange world of the lower California inland valley foothills. They’re very tied to the seasons. I just moved from Colorado, where pretty much everything dies off from October to March, to Oregon, where all the green things seemingly go to sleep, but are still quite happily alive.

      1. Oregoncharles

        The grass will start growing again any day now. The sasanqua camellia and tea are in bloom now, and very fragrant. Winter here in the Willamette Valley is more of a wet season.

  17. georgieboy

    Re the domestic rifle production piece and the NY Times view that ‘we simply don’t have the manufacturing culture’ to build e.g. Apple products.’

    This was just the Grey Lady’s ever so discreet way of saying “our wealthy metropolitan friends can’t imagine paying fair wages to the local Deplorables to build anything. ”

    There are plenty of more distant deplorables to do that more cheaply.

    1. zagonostra

      So how much coverage will the NYT and the WaPo on MinWage increases by AMLO not give this story? You saw how much coverage the 22% increase by Spain recently received, no?

      We wouldn’t want to put and devious notions into the people’s head, like raising the rapacious Fed MinWage.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Occupation and Island Building (map) Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, Center for Strategic and International Studi


    Swords to ploughshares, military technologies for civilian applications.

    That island-builidng know-how should be useful for sinking island nations.

    1. The Rev Kev

      From what I can see, island-building is what countries do when they cannot afford to build super-carriers. It’s a lot cheaper that way and no more vulnerable to an attack than modern carriers are due to modern missiles. Hey, guess who is getting back into the carrier business? Japan. They’ll love that news in the countries in the western Pacific-

  19. ObjectiveFunction

    Christopher Caldwell no doubt has a mixed fandom on this board, but a French friend sent me this 2017 piece that entirely anticipates les Gilets Jaunes and also echoes numerous social contract themes noted here by le Commentariat:

    Internationalizing the division of labor has brought significant economic efficiencies. But it has also brought inequalities unseen for a century, demographic upheaval, and cultural disruption. A process that Guilluy calls métropolisation has cut French society in two. Cheap labor, tariff-free consumer goods, and new markets of billions of people have made globalization a windfall for 16 dynamic urban areas, home to all the country’s educational and financial institutions, as well as almost all its corporations, and the “symbolic analysts,” as Robert Reich once called them—who shape the country’s tastes, form its opinions, and renew its prestige.

    At the opening of his new book, Guilluy describes twenty-first-century France as “an ‘American’ society like any other, unequal and multicultural.” It’s a controversial premise—that inequality and racial diversity are linked as part of the same (American-type) system and that they progress or decline together. Though this premise has been confirmed in much of the West for half a century, the assertion will shock many Americans, conditioned to place “inequality” (bad) and “diversity” (good) at opposite poles of a Manichean moral order. This disconnect is a key reason American political discussions have turned so illogical and rancorous. Certain arguments—for instance, that raising the incomes of American workers requires limiting immigration—can be cast as either sensible or superstitious, legitimate or illegitimate, good or evil, depending on whether the person making them is deemed to be doing so on the grounds of economics or identity….

    When France’s was a national economy, its median workers were well compensated and well protected from illness, age, and other vicissitudes. In a knowledge economy, these workers have largely been exiled from the places where the economy still functions…. Guilluy doubts that any place exists in France’s new economy for working people as we’ve traditionally understood them…. even if French people were willing to do the work that gets offered in these prosperous urban centers, there’d be no way for them to do it, because there is no longer any place for them to live.

    As a new bourgeoisie has taken over the private housing stock, poor foreigners have taken over the public—which thus serves the metropolitan rich as a kind of taxpayer-subsidized servants’ quarters. Public-housing inhabitants are almost never ethnically French; the prevailing culture there nowadays is often heavily, intimidatingly Muslim…. Guilluy speaks of a “battle of the eyes” fought in the lobbies of apartment buildings across France every day, in which one person or the other—the ethnic Frenchman or the immigrant’s son—will drop his gaze to the floor first.

    The welfare state is now distrusted by those whom it is meant to help. France’s expenditure on the heavily immigrant banlieues is already vast, on this view; to provide yet more public housing would be to widen the invitation to unwanted immigrants. To build any large public-works project is to do the same. To invest in education, in turn, is to offer more advantages to the rich, who’re best positioned to benefit from it.

    The dominance of metropolitan elites has made it hard even to describe the most important conflicts in France, except in terms that conform to their way of viewing the world. In the last decade of the twentieth century, Western statesmen sang the praises of the free market. In our own time, they defend the “open society”—a wider concept that embraces not just the free market but also the welcoming and promotion of people of different races, religions, and sexualities. The result, in terms of policy, is a number of what Guilluy calls “top-down social movements.”

    1. ewmayer

      Thanks for that – great find. The “dynamic urban areas” snip interestingly echoes an HRC-shilling quote from Campaign 2016, but in this case does not detract from the overall thrust of the piece.

  20. bruce wilder

    Re: How Britain stole $45 trillion from India

    This article made me curious about the design of leftish propaganda. The article, by Jason Hickel, an anthropologist with some unspecified post at Goldsmiths, University of London is taking aim at Tory self-congratulation and the liberal feel-good story of the industrial revolution (“strong institutions”, technological innovation, drivel by Niall Ferguson) A worthy cause, in my view, but not what interested me.

    It is written in a polemical style, distributed by Al Jazeera, headlines a big number — trillion with a “t” — and the headline is given the tag, “And lied about it.” The article purports to report on “New research by the renowned economist Utsa Patnaik”. Renowned! Also, retired for the last 8 years. And, not so much “new research” as an essay in a Festschrift volume for a colleague that she co-edited. And the author is coy about identifying his academic position.

    I do not have an opinion about this, beyond these observations. Just wondering if others who read the article had mixed reactions or wonder what it was “really” about.

    1. Anon

      Yeah, I read it. Interesting observations. Definitely counter to the Anglo catechism.

      Seems like the American experiment in the New World wasn’t much different: steal land from the native inhabitants, extract resources from the land (using “free” labor), claim your intent is honorable, then write History to reflect your “benevolence”.

      (Like father like son?)

    2. The Rev Kev

      It wasn’t Britain that really benefited from this wealth so much as the British elites. Most Brits got only hard work and poor conditions. But as far as compensation is concerned for that for the $45 trillion – do you think India would take a cheque?

  21. Willzyx

    “How Britain stole $45 trillion from India”

    I for one have had enough of this white guilt. Even more ironic coming from a Muslim state funded outlet like Al Jazeera

    It is extremely disengenuous to wonder how India may have prospered in the absense of British colonial rule without considering the effects of 1,000 years of Muslim Mughal conquest. Sure, the British were exploitive but the Muslims killed an estimated 400 million in the largest genocide in history

    By the time the British showed up, the local Hindu Indian population was a basket case. Growing tea for export under British rule was seen as a better alternative than the “Islam or death” status quo offered by their Muslim overlords.

    Once again, you can’t soley blame the British for the Pakistan/Bangladesh/India partition which has resulted in several wars.

    1. Eclair

      Criminy, using your reasoning, that there was sectarian fighting going on in the Indian subcontinent and that the British rode in on their white chargers and offered an welcome alternative, and that this made the subsequent occupation of an entire continent by a foreign power completely moral and ok, we, in the USA, should welcome an invasion and occupation by China. After all, we have had a genocide that has all but wiped out the native inhabitants of North America, as well as an forced importation of Africans, whom we have exploited and subjugated and lynched, based on an assumed racial inferiority. Anything must be better than that.

      I just started reading Woodham-Smith’s “The Great Hunger: Ireland 1845 – 1849. The first paragraph:

      “Ireland had first been invaded in 1169; it was now 1845, yet she had been neither assimilated nor subdued. The country had been conquered not once but several times, the land had been confiscated and redistributed over and over again, the population had been brought to the verge of extinction — after Cromwell’s conquest and settlement only some half million Irish survived — yet an Irish nation still existed, separate, numerous and hostile.”

      It’s not ‘white guilt.’ It is, finally, an overthrowing of the narrative that has prevailed for the last couple of centuries, that the English (and their offshoot colonies) are so bloody superior in terms of culture, language, law, technology and, yes, finally, skin color.

      1. Olga

        Hear, hear. White guilt exists because it is well deserved!
        Although I do agree that squabbling among the Indians (and the caste system) helped the British in their exploitative deeds.

  22. Craig H.

    The Knuth NYTimes profile is not bad. Includes:

    At age 19, Dr. Knuth published his first technical paper, “The Potrzebie System of Weights and Measures,” in Mad magazine.

    Don’t know if it’s technical but it is Knuth and it is in Mad and it really exists. 2/3 not-fake might be the peak performance of the year for the New York Times!

  23. Oregoncharles

    On Gnews today, FWIW. Very illuminating; it shows the Gilets Jaunes gradually closing the noose on the French government, and authorities, like the company that administers the toll roads, backing down, one after another. The focus on Paris is misleading; the yellow jackets (like ambrit, I enjoy the common name with very aggressive hornets) live in the small towns, and that’s where they have power. By gradually closing the roads, they’re strangling metropolitan France – and Macron. If they stick to it, he’s done, but it might get nasty in the meantime.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Then there were farmers protesting the Tour De France.

      “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

      We’ve seen peaceful attempts at change and a group of elites who have treated everyone but the super wealthy with contempt. Protests in Summer and winter…kaboom!

  24. efschumacher

    Thanks for the article on Knuth. Took me back to Computer Science as an undergrad in the 70s. The budding intellectual programmer felt compelled to get Knuth out of the library. Then once you realized it was written in an impenetrable assembly language, you had to solve your problems by other means. Wonder if the later volumes are updated for readability. Would be good if he had teamed up with Guido.

    1. Martin J Cohen

      I read Knuth in the 70’s also. I very early on used the MIX assembly language code as amusing noise and spent all my effort on the algorithms, proofs, and their analyses.

      I still have all current volumes (including 4 and 5). They are still a valuable resource.

  25. Ignim Brites

    “Why is no one treating Bernie Sanders like the Democratic front-runner?” No doubt the ekection of so many “Orange County” democrats in Nov places a new burden on Sanders’ candidacy. Now, the Congressional DP is likely to be much more hostile to a socialist candidate as this might be perceived to threaten their power. A first indication of how this might play out will be the tack Pacific Heights Pelosi takes on the repeal of the SALT limitations.

  26. WJ

    For some perspective on Slate’s/Salon’s latest Russophobic groin spasm:

    PS. Lambert, it is not that you are wearing a tin-foil hat; it is that you are not wearing the officially licensed tin-foil hat of the corporate beltway media, which, because it is so licensed, is not referred to as “a tin-foil hat,” but rather as “being informed.” If the tin man had only worn such a hat, he would never have thought himself to want a brain. In such a case, of course, he would have been worse off than he actually was.

    1. pjay

      Thanks for the MOA link — and the relevant comment. There seem to be infinite resources to fund this crap and push it out over and over again. As soon as a Crowd Strike loses credibility, a “New Knowledge” pops up — it’s like a wack-a-mole game that never ends.

  27. SoldierSvejk

    Here is a bit of truth from the blob (the article seems to have disappeared off the website, though)
    Read it quickly, though, as it may be gone again

    “The recent arrest of a top Huawei executive and an escalating US campaign to get allies to stop using equipment from the firm – which is the world’s largest telecoms gear maker – has made the global race for tech supremacy a daily front-page news item.

    This last-ditch effort by the United States to maintain dominance – or even relevance – in high-tech fields, especially in the areas of telecommunications standards and semiconductors, is what really lies behind US-China tensions, not a trade imbalance.”
    So says Michael Morell

      1. ewmayer

        That’s the kind of contradiction that inevitably crops up when you have a paid-to-be-paranoid guy from Spook Central who also embraces the neoliberal/NYT view that “we can’t build comms gear anymore because we just don’t have the manufacturing culture.” At least that’s what Morell seems to be doing when he’s not foaming at the mouth about wanting to kill some Russians and Eye-ray-nians.

      2. Ook

        From all I’ve read, the main benefit of 5G would be enough capacity to allow apps to spy on users in much greater detail than now. Imagine an app switching on your camera and mic without your permission and having enough bandwidth to feed back eye movements and vocal ticks to a central server in realtime for analysis.

  28. ChrisPacific

    I love watching dogs shake themselves dry, as long as it’s from a safe distance (dog coats can absorb an astonishing amount of water, and you will get very wet if it happens at close range).

    The shake starts from the head and travels down to the hindquarters. It’s obvious in slow motion, but you can see it happening in real time if you watch closely.

  29. Oregoncharles

    “Why is no one treating Bernie Sanders like the Democratic front-runner?” Interesting, to a point; primarily about attitudes among the punditocracy. I wonder whether they talked with Yves and Lambert?

    However, there is a hurdle the article does NOT talk about: the increasing conservatism of the Dem party, AND of its voters. He only got 46% in the primaries. There are many reasons for that, but one of them is that so many more-left voters have fled the party. The recent outbreak of progressive talk in the party means much less than the affiliation and registration numbers. Politically, that’s more important in closed-primary states like Oregon (where he won). If independents can vote in the primary, he’s in better shape. I don’t know what the respective numbers are, but caucus states like Iowa are also “closed.”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes. The paradox of the Democrats right now is that the center of gravity of the Party has shifted toward the conservatives, while simultaneously charismatic left-wingers have taken office (and are generating clicks — and winning votes). We will shortly see how big that tent really is; my suspicion is that the Party as Pelosi and Schumer conceive it is not tenable.

      A house divided against itself, cannot stand. I believe this government Party cannot endure, permanently, half slave liberal and half free socialist*. I do not expect the Union Party to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.

      Of course, the riposte is that the Democrat Party is the graveyard of social movements. But perhaps the graveyard is full.

      NOTE * Even conceiving of socialism as the mildest form of social democracy.

      1. Pat

        As a long time lefty, I have a long rant about how Sanders is the real centrist, and every one else is right or far right. This includes a lot of historical information about how various Republican icons are far to the left of their current party leaders.

        My gut feeling is that on a hell of a lot of issues, the people of America are right there with that old ‘socialist’, aka the centrist Bernie Sanders – not the political center as ordained by the MSM and the Beltway. The problem that the Democratic Party and leadership have is that ‘identity’ politics is meaningless for most voters without outright support of policies that advance the members of those identities. And in many cases that would mean advancing policies that are anathema to THEIR real identity, corporate right wing authoritarian toadies. The Republicans can continue to use versions of the Other strategy, immigration/lazy millenials/minorities on the take, in order to explain to the masses why their selected policies aren’t doing what they promised. The Democrats had no plan except to claim that the Republicans were going to block the good stuff, but they had to pass the bad stuff because of bipartisanship and compromise and settling. Unfortunately, people are not as stupid and tribal as the leadership expected when their situations become more and more desperate, even if they believe the Republicans stop everything good meme, they begin to wonder how come you can’t block their bad ideas when you have the same tools.

        It is really hard to get those lucrative speaking fees, board appointments, and lobbying gigs if you have to stop the desired legislation designed to rip off workers, consumers, and the public in general to fulfill the greed of those oligarchs the public isn’t supposed to know are your real owners.

        The Clintons have left a hugely destructive wake everywhere, the Democratic Party only being part of it. But yes, we really do need to kill the political culture they spawned with fire in order to progress.

  30. ewmayer

    “The Yoda of Silicon Valley | NYT” — I had a beer with him once (actually, he was more interested in the food than the beer, said he’d come from giving a holiday organ recital at a local church, perhaps the one mentioned in the NYT piece, and “they didn’t feed me”), at a confab a bunch of us SF-bay-area rec-math/comp-sci geeks had at the Mountain View Tied House to celebrate the discovery of the 39th Mersenne prime, M(13466917), in late December 2001. How I managed to get him to show up at the gathering, well that’s an interesting story in itself.

      1. ewmayer

        OK, the story behind that goes like so: Having met Knuth with a fellow prime enthusiast (who had an ‘inside track’, if you will) shortly after moving to Silicon Valley a few years before, once a bunch of us local prime fans organized the M39 bash, I thought it would be neat to invite the great man himself. Turns out he was giving a CS seminar at Stanford the week before, so I showed up and at the end of the talk slipped an invite to the bash onto the edge of his lectern. I had a dinner engagement to attend and the post-talk Q&A session was dragging on due to all the Stanford CS weenies trying their utmost to one-up each other in the quest to Ask the Smartest Question, so I was forced to kinda-sorta-stealthily creep up to the lectern and slip the invite onto one of its corners, while DK was in the middle of answering one of the aforementioned Very Smart Questions, after which I beat a hasty retreat and exited the (Bill) Gates Computer Science Building to head to my dinner engagement. Had no idea whether he’d actually show up until he did. And with a healthy appetite, too! So my little sheepish invite-slipper moment was well worth it.

  31. Daryl

    > A Texas Elementary School Speech Pathologist Refused to Sign a Pro-Israel Oath, Now Mandatory in Many States — so She Lost Her Job Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept (KW). Sounds like “meddling.”

    This is such a bizarre virus going around. The PR damage from this is going to be many times more than a couple people refusing to buy halva.

  32. BoyDownTheLane

    In re: Gunz…

    I just bought the DVD of the program for which this is the trailer:

    It arrives around the holidays.

    It is my understanding that Samuel Bush was the early investor, my knowledge that Freemasonry was involved, and my as-yet-to-be-verified fact that the downstream successful entrepreneurs who were Bonesmen are buying many of these companies back. All of this has a certain amount of secrecy and plausible deniability involved, but there are people who maintain gunsmithing skills and facilities in private homes and facilities.

    To suggest that gunz can be seized, banned or outlawed it to grossly misconstrue history and the human drive for security, liberty, power and control.

  33. precariat

    “Liberalism in Theory and Practice”

    The title does not do justice to the clear assessment of liberalism as it is deployed by neoliberals like Macron, Obama and the Clintons:

    “The animating mission here is less to combat injustice than to efficiently manage discontent: to take the temperature of the popular mood, strain it of radical aspiration, then serve it back wrapped in the most aesthetically pleasing package liberalism’s practitioners can assemble, and pray like hell nobody notices…”

    Great piece. A good read.

  34. Todde

    Reading O’Connor ruling i notice that he doesnt cite one court case to back up his quote posted here.

    He does cite books are way down on the hierarchy of legal citations.

    The reality of the situation is that while anything can happen in a court of law, I wouldn’t be holding my breath that the aca will be overturned.

  35. todde

    here are some comments from legal scholars who have led the fight against Obamacare and what they think of the Judge’s ruling:

    Congress did not need to make any new findings to demonstrate the fairly obvious point that a virtually toothless mandate is not essential to anything.

    This would seem to back up Seth’s post.

    As for the severability issue: Judge O’Connor’s analysis of the severability issue is badly flawed. When one part of a statute is ruled unconstitutional, courts are not supposed to strike down other parts of the same law unless they are inextricably connected and Congress would not have intended the latter to function without the former.

    Next we mone to Jonathan Adler, another opponent of Obamacare. He states:

    I do not believe this opinion is long for this world. However superficially plausible the plaintiff states’ claims initially appear, they melt upon inspection.

    he problem with this analysis is that it’s central claim — that “the Individual Mandate continues to mandate the purchase of health insurance” — is false, both in law and in fact. As Chief Judge Roberts explicitly noted in his NFIB opinion, the “only consequence” of failing to obtain qualifying health insurance is paying a tax – a tax which is now set at zero. As Roberts wrote: “Neither the Act nor any other law attaches negative legal consequences to not buying health insurance, beyond requiring a payment to the IRS.” In other words, there is nothing left in the ACA that mandates that people obtain health insurance…

    Congress, in 2010, claimed the mandate was essential to the operation of the Act. Yet Congress in 2017 reached a different conclusion when it enacted legislation zeroing out the mandate penalty. The ACA today — the ACA as amended by Congress in 2017 — no longer relies upon an enforceable individual mandate to operate because there is none…

    The 2010 findings concern a law that, for all practical purposes, ceases to exist. What matters is what Congress did — and what Congress did is create a law that regulates health insurance markets and lacks an enforceable mandate to purchase insurance. This may or may not be good policy, but it is what Congress did, and there’s no basis for a district court to undo it…

    Because the law imposes no penalty or legal sanction on failing to comply, there is no injury as required by Article III, let alone an actual and concrete injury-in-fact that is caused by the relevant provisions of the ACA and that can be redressed by this opinion. Judge O’Connor concludes otherwise only by ignoring the actual operation of the law and Chief Justice Roberts’ NFIB opinion (quoted above) that makes clear that the ACA’s mandate imposed no consequence whatsoever beyond the tax liability that Congress has since erased. Standing requires an actual injury. An unenforced and unenforceable horatory admonition doesn’t cut it…

    Of course, the DOJ isn’t defending the ACA, so that is why they aren’t arguing standing.

    1. Yves Smith

      I have to admit I am keying off Lambert’s work rather than my own, but the wee problem with this is that the Texas judge was relying on a Supreme Court ruling that as I understand it, found that the constitutionality of Obamacare was dependent on the tax penalty. No tax penalty, no constitutionality. The arguments above don’t appear to acknowledge the reasoning of that Scotus decision.

      1. todde

        No, the constitutionality of the Individual Mandate was dependent on a tax penalty.

        Which is only one portion of Obamacare.

        You don’t invalidate a whole law because one portion of it is deemed unconstitutional with out reason.

        I’ve already mentioned that the individual mandate will more likely than not be gone. These two scholars agree, as they have been arguing the mandate was unconstitutional from the beginning, even with the tax.

        What we have is a severability issue. Can the other parts of the law be severed from the individual mandate. Here the Judge blathers on for 2 or 3 pages about the ‘intent of Congress’. Congress intended the individual mandate to ‘essential’ to the ACA. Without the individual mandate the ACA can not function. He asserts this because members of Congress said as much. Fair enough.

        But we also look at what Congress did, to determine it’s intentions. Congress held a vote on repealing Obamacare, and it failed. So, Congress did NOT intend for the ACA to be repealed, because they acted not to repeal it.

        Congress also acted to eliminate the tax penalty, but they did not touch any other tax provision of the law: the premium tax credits available, the tax increase for net investment income, etc. All which could have been in in reconciliation. So, Congress intended for the provisions to remain intact, or they would have eliminated them also.

        One could also argue that if you remove a penalty for not doing something, you no longer deem that ‘something’ to be essential, or why remove the penalty?

        Lets just stick with the clear intentions of Congress, not what one member or another said about a law, but what the complete Congress acted on while performing it’s duties as a legislative body; ie voted to NOT repeal the ACA and voted to reduce the tax penalty to zero for failure to comply.

        We have not touched Seth’s assertion in the comments that the Plantiffs have no standing. Which I also agree with.

        1. Todde

          These guys are good.

          The other defence offered by these guys is that the individual mandate placed two obligations on you.

          1. To buy insurance
          2. Or pay a penalty.

          As ruled in Seibus, doing either of those two things fulfilled your obligation under the law.

          These two obligations still exist, except the penalty is now $0.

          You are not coerced into buying insurance, as there is another way to satisfy the law, by paying a penalty of nothing.

          Hard to say damages occured by a law that forces you to do nothing to satisfy the requirements of it.

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