Links 12/2/18


It took seven miles to pull over a Tesla with a seemingly asleep driver Ars Technica (David L)

‘In the millions of dollars’: Earthquake damage assessments continue amid aftershocks Anchorage Daily News

Climate change: Where we are in seven charts and what you can do to help BBC

The Over-celebration of Life Events Atlantic (UserFriendly)

Deadline ends for Hungary, Soros-funded university to reach deal Al Jazeera

1st International European Modern Monetary Theory conference (UserFriendly)

Crews rescue 35 anglers from Duluth harbor ice floe  MPR News (Chuck L)

Our Famously Free Press

The Club and the Mob London Review of Books. Review of Alan Rusbridger’s Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now.

Free the Free Press From Wall Street Plunderers FAIR. Jim Hightower.

Waste Watch

Indonesian Islands Are Drowning in Trash Motherboard

Reduce packaging waste this holiday season TreeHugger


When Mexico’s new president hits the ground running, he’ll smack into Trump Dallas Morning News

Mexico new president vows to end ‘rapacious’ elite in first speech Reuters


America Is Headed For Military Defeat in Afghanistan American Conservative. Maj. Danny Sjursen.

Middle East dictators always end up bringing their western allies down – and now they’ve got their coils in the White House Independent. Robert Fisk.

CIA Intercepts Underpin Assessment Saudi Crown Prince Targeted Khashoggi WSJ

The trials and tribulations of Turkish foreign policy Asia Times. Pepe Escobar


Brexit and our forgotten military losses of the past show up Britain’s naive exceptionalism Independent. Patrick Cockburn.

Brexit: that sinking feeling

Brexit: Labour threatens contempt action over withheld legal advice Guardian

Marriott breach leaves 500 million exposed with passport, card numbers stolen Ars Technica


Donald Trump, Xi Jinping agree to ceasefire in tariff war after G20 dinner date, as US goes it alone on climate change ABC News (The Rev Kev)

The G20’s Africa Problem Project Syndicate


Azov Again Craig Murray

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Path Back From Hell Boston Review (UserFriendly)

Tariff Tantrum

Tariffs on Chinese rare-earth minerals create a sticky problem for US competitors Ars Technica (Chuck L)


Why Is Modi Not Accepting Pakistan’s Offer of Talks? The Wire

Bhopal gas tragedy: Wrong medication killed more people, reveal PMO files; 20-25 dying per month even after 34 years FirstPost. Bhopal tragedy occurred 34 years ago, on the night of 2-3 December. First installment in a three-part series.

Health Care

The work-from-home doctor will see you now San Francisco Chronicle

2018 Post Mortem

Inside the GOP’s California nightmare Politico (The Rev Kev)

Democrats in Disarray

Bernie Sanders turns focus to the White House and the world WaPo

Curtains for the Clintons NYT MoDo

The Making of Elizabeth Warren Politico

Obama Tells Wall Street to Thank him for Making Them so Much Money Real News Network. Today’s must read.

Trump Transition

The price of black gold The Telegraph (India)

A Defendant Shows Up in Immigration Court by Himself ProPublica (UserFriendly)

Trump to notify Congress in ‘near future’ he will terminate NAFTA Reuters

The Bushes: Fathers and Sons ( With Apologies to Turgenev) Consortium News

George H.W. Bush’s “Willie Horton” ad will always be the reference point for dog whistle racism Vox

The Ignored Legacy of George H.W. Bush: War Crimes, Racism, and Obstruction of Justice Intercept

Class Warfare

Hundreds arrested as police clash with ‘Yellow Vest’ protesters in Paris France 24

German cartel office investigates Amazon’s treatment of small sellers Handelsblatt

Gen X bought the most homes, but debt killed their American Dream Axios (The Rev Kev)

Dark web dealers voluntarily ban deadly fentanyl The Guardian (The Rev Kev)

“I Hereby Confess Judgment” Bloomberg. Part 1 of a three-part series on predatory lending. Part 2, The $1.7 Million Man; Part 3, Rubber-Stamp Justice

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. emorej a hong kong

    Brexit and our forgotten military losses of the past show up Britain’s naive exceptionalism Independent. Patrick Cockburn.

    Elegant and important overview:

    Adrien Jaulmes goes to the heart of what is happening, saying that “the UK has built its power on two principles: keep the British Isles united and the European continent divided. Today it is close to succeeding in doing the opposite.”

  2. Richard

    Another black tie circle jerk. Bragging about saving wall street. Hugging GW, and bragging about all the drilling he let happen. Wow is he a proud republican. Our proudest republican president ever.

    1. timbers

      The reason Trump is President is because Democrats think Obama and Hillary did a good job.

      Obama – the best President Republicans ever had.

        1. Ford Prefect

          I have to keep reminding my Democratic party line voter friends that the Clinton Administration pushed for Wall Street deregulation that lead to the financial crisis and then Obama refused to investigate or prosecute anybody for it. This allowed the Republicans to largely just be cheerleaders.

        2. Richard

          I agree with you that B. Clinton was the best republican president. After all, he passed all their Key Legislation To Nurture Sociopathy (busting glass steagal, NAFTA, allowing hyper concentration of media, more drug war prisons, throw children off welfare), except for privatizing Social Security. Thanks Lewinsky!
          But Bill doesn’t get out front and brag about his bait and switch quite as much. I’ve noticed Obama likes to wax philosophical about his “moderate republicanism”, so I say he’s prouder. Judgement call.

        3. Big Tap

          With all due respect though Bill Clinton was certainly a loyal DLC Republican nothing beat Reagan Jr. himself Barack Obama. When he said during his first campaign that he was reading up on Ronald Reagan he wasn’t kidding! At least Bill Clinton didn’t add new wars to his resume like Obama did and Somalia was a Bush lame duck present from December 1992. The Bosnian war ended before his term expired. Clinton’s military budget actually decreased since it was at the end of the cold war. Obama’s military budget was always expanding as well as his fondness for drone attacks and his love of privatizing everything he got his hands on.

        4. Stephen Gardner

          In fact Bill Clinton pulled the pin on the financial grenade that went off during Shrub’s presidency. Poor George had to carry Bill’s sins.

      1. RepubAnon

        And yet the Republicans demonized him.

        It’s important to understand what Obama was saying – he asked why the ultra-rich ignored how Democrats saved the economy (and the rich folks portfolios), and focused instead on a relatively trivial tax increase.

        I don’t hold out much hope for the 0.1% to realize that bringing back the Gilded Age means that guillotine manufacturing will become a growth industry sooner or later – but it would be nice if they started thinking about keeping our society healthy rather than trying to squeeze every last drop of blood out of the rest of us.

    2. oh

      Michelle hugs Bushie. Obama kisses Wall Street and the Repigs. Obama offers up programs to cut Medicare and Social Security. Obama doesn’t bring up nary a Banster for prosecution. Obama covers up the torture photos and fakes a killing of OBL. Bush hands candy to Michelle. The voters still don’t get it. Propaganda works well thanks to Bernays.

      We’re screwed.

  3. flora

    Another link for the Class Warfare section:

    France is deeply fractured. Gilets jaunes are just a symptom

    This is the paradox: the open society results in a world increasingly closed to the majority of working people.

    The economic divide between peripheral France and the metropolises illustrates the separation of an elite and its popular hinterland. Western elites have gradually forgotten a people they no longer see. The impact of the gilets jaunes, and their support in public opinion (eight out of 10 French people approve of their actions), has amazed politicians, trade unions and academics, as if they have discovered a new tribe in the Amazon.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      Interesting analysis in The Local – this morning :

      I’m surprised by the scale of destruction. Anyone who’s been to Paris can recognize these streets.

      I’ve been saying for years now that the government has paid no attention to the systematic impoverishment of the countryside and periphery. It coincides with the end of the Mitterand years, in my estimate. There’s just no hope left that things will improve. Small businesses keep closing, farmers sell out to agribusiness and end up as contract workers on what was their land…etc.

      1. David

        Lichfield is basically right, but, as often, he’s looking at things from a comfortably middle-class angle, and can’t avoid being condescending and patronising.
        The article by Guilly referenced above is of great interest because he’s basically been predicting something like this in a series of books since 2010, for which he’s been violently attacked by the same people who are now panicking. Guilly coined the term “peripheral France” to describe the 80% or so of the country that’s just being left to rot, and which has finally achieved a kind of symbolic visibility. The term has been taken up by the media and politicians, who have suddenly discovered the poverty, insecurity and marginalisation which have fuelled the insurrection, and affected to be surprised by it. Why did nobody tell us?
        They remind me less of Louis XVI (see my comment below) than the Scottish sinners who arrive for judgement before the Lord. “Oh Lord”, they say, “we didna ken.” “Well,” says the Lord, implacably, “ye ken noo!”

        1. Olga

          Wasn’t it this same “peripheral” France that on a nice summer day in 1789 stormed the Bastille? How little things change…

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Wow, 80% approval rate for the gilets jaunes

            Where exactly IS the tipping point? Surely a number with an “8” at the beginning is getting close.

            And I’d cite the effectiveness of a single-issue in mobilizing across the divisions the elite love us to split us with (gender, race, ethnicity). In the case of the GJ’s the issue was petrol prices. In the US I’d suggest either The War or MFA.

        2. Summer

          There it is again: 80/20.

          A type of economy that can provide material benefits and privileges consistently to about 20% of the population.

          The other recent article in The Atlantic about the new aristocracy had the same ratio.
          (And I’d seen it before that too.)

        3. Bob

          “No, it was not provoked by the riot police, who behaved with almost super-human discipline and restraint.”

          Why do they always praise the cops for not breaking an excessive amount of skulls?

      2. Summer

        A co-worker went to Paris the weekend this began. He descirbed what sounded like a military occupation. Certain streets they could not walk down.

    2. In the Land of Farmers

      Riots like this over Diesel prices? And people wonder why I do not think there is any hope to halt Climate change…

      1. polecat

        So, the lowly plebes (in this case the French) should just lie down in miseration, while the monied, powerful elite ride roughshod ?? And nothing will happen regarding climate anything until people finally have a say in the affairs of their day-to-day lives !

      2. Massinissa

        For some strange reason France never transitioned from diesel to gasoline. And like it or not, without fuel, people outside the cities in France can’t really get to their jobs without transportation. The rising costs of a vital resource like fuel hurts everyone outside the major cities that have invested in public transport.

        1. Duck1

          Diesel autos cost less in Europe than gasoline to purchase and operate, hence their popularity. Europe ships excess gasoline to US and US ships diesel to Europe to balance demand.

      3. Lee

        See mine below re bees and farmers.

        The question is who pays the price or bears the burden for environmentally responsible change. Market forces, as they are currently allowed to function, tend to shift losses and costs of economic transitions to those less able to afford them.

        1. Summer

          What is the quality and depth of alternative transportation to cars outside the cities?
          This what you get when your plan is F them, but here is our “green” policy (or tax policy, or whatever policy) that works great for us.

      4. Jean

        Don’t worry, Goldman Sachs will get their cut somehow.
        Some variant of carbon credits or financing the fight to climate change.
        The French president used to work for them. Probably still does.

      5. Brooklin Bridge

        Riots like this over Diesel prices?

        I think the fuel prices are the catalyst, not the sole or even core reason for the demonstrations. Macron, far more than a figurehead, has been very busy implementing further austerity, privatization and reducing workers rights. He is the French equivalent of Obama; promising all sorts of vague meaningless double talk about unifying the country, while at the same time being somewhat up front about his strong neoliberal outlook. Everyone saw what they wanted to see and are now (admit it or not) as pissed at themselves (for being once again duped – after Hollande) as much as they are at Macron and his slavish allegiance to the nameless bureaucratic tightening of the economic tendrils coming from Brussels.

        1. flora

          The Eurozone has rules about national budgets. Somehow, any Eurozone required budget cuts never seem to fall on the wealthy. I guess it’s ok for France to cut taxes on the wealthy few if it also raises a VAT or sales tax on the many to keep its budget aligned with Eurozone rules. That’s is a problem, imo. It sounds like a Eurozone Pay-go. I know how Pay-go works in the US; the benign-sounding idea which is presented as politically neutral is not at all neutral in practice.

          From 2017:

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            Yes! (and thanks for the link). The core of Eurozone austerity: soverign inability (never mind unwillingness) to stimulate economy when needed – as often mentioned on NC. And they simply do nothing about it.

            Yellow vests, no less, rather than les pavés and the old mason’s jingle when a good stone for the next one in a wall was found: Ça colle comme si c’était dans la gueule d’un flic.. Ahh 68. Vests are civil by comparison though the burning of cars is a bit frisky.

    3. ewmayer

      So in the U.S. the globalist elites have dismissed the increasingly restive victims of globalization via the Trump-racist-white-losers meme … how are they excusing what is essentially the same “les deplorables” phenomenon in France, I wonder?

    4. JerryDenim

      Nice to hear the prophetic Guilly weigh in on the class unrest in Paris, but I found it strange how he suddenly switched gears at the very end of his piece, from categorizing the disaffected Gilets Jaunes protesters as members of the working and lower middle-class to suddenly referring to them as France’s “poorest citizens”.

      One of the problems of living in a developed, partially socialist, neo-liberal country in 2018 is the very wealthy have thoroughly gamed the system in order to accumulate vast power and riches, while many among the poor have figured out how to game the system as well with unreported income and other schemes to extract state assistance. In the United States the old progressive taxation system that kept the economy humming and the wealth spread among the citizenry has been completely abandoned and forgotten. In it’s place is a highly regressive taxation system and a deregulated predatory capitalism full of hidden rents, which places the twin burdens of funding government programs for the poor, and reverse-Robinhood corporate socialism for the rich, on the backs of a struggling middle class. The Gillets Jaunes I suspect, as their Brexit and Trump brethren are too proud and just a little bit too well off to qualify for generous government assistance, but not nearly rich enough to keep themselves from falling behind their more credentialed and urban countrymen. They represent the broad middle of traditional French society. They are not rich enough to get ahead in Macron’s France, but not poor enough to get free housing or other government perks they see others receiving, while feeling financially squeezed and forgotten. It seems clear the Gillet Jaunes, are not the poorest, but rather the neglected middle that feels they are being pincered between those at the top and those on the bottom.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > while many among the poor have figured out how to game the system as well with unreported income and other schemes to extract state assistance.

        That’s the problem with “Financial Literacy” courses. In fact, the poor lead complex financial lives.

    5. Summer

      “The paradox is this is not a result of the failure of the globalised economic model but of its success. In recent decades, the French economy, like the European and US economies, has continued to create wealth. We are thus, on average, richer. The problem is at the same time unemployment, insecurity and poverty have also increased. The central question, therefore, is not whether a globalised economy is efficient, but what to do with this model when it fails to create and nurture a coherent society?”

      It’s not a paradox. The wealth creation is a lot of profiteering from poverty and inequality.

      And people can accept levels of financial inequality and have throughout history. But when poverty is criminalized and used to gain profit the trouble arises.

      1. eg

        Eventually, even the innumerate discover that the average hides inequity in ways that the median does not.

  4. David

    I’m glad you put yesterday’s disturbances in France under “class warfare” because that’s exactly what it is. And so far the people seem to be winning, or at least not losing.
    One problem with the “infiltration” idea is that the Gilets jaunes are not a “movement” in any real sense, and you don’t have to apply to join. An interesting sight over the last few days, indeed, has been the number of motorists who have a yellow vest prominently displayed in their car, as a mute statement of support. Interviews with individual demonstrators have shown a level of anger and sheer fed-upness among very ordinary people which suggests that violence (which has in practice been almost entirely against property) may not be very far below the surface. The government at all levels has made a complete mess of handling the situation, and Macron seems to have no idea what to do.The government is effectively accusing the French people of being too stupid to understand its ecological policy. An expert on social movements interviewed in today’s Parisien compared Macron to Louis XVI before the Revolution.
    Meanwhile, a group of gilets jaunes have published an open letter in the Journal de dimanche offering for the first time to speak to the government. The story is here and you can get the sense of it from Google Translate. Essentially, the authors say that their demands for a reversal of recent measures that have made it more expensive to own and run a a car are “non-negotiable” They also demand, however, a whole series of political changes including the introduction of proportional representation, the use of referenda on important questions, and nationwide consultations and assemblies on fiscal and social issues, on the basis that “democracy belongs to the people”. They invite those whom they call “the forgotten people of the Republic” and the “victims of a system which has become obsolete” to join them in demanding “the right to live in dignity and in decent economic conditions.” Their language recalls, presumably deliberately, demands made in 1789 and on occasions thereafter.
    It’s interesting that JDD qualifies the signatories as “moderates” (though they don’t use that term themselves), presumably because they have called for non-violent protests only. But there is nothing moderate in their demands, which would turn French politics upside down and inside out.
    As I said after the first demonstrations, this is a story to watch. The movement has correctly been described as “urban guerrilla warfare”, and the French state, used to massive, well organised demonstrations, has no idea what to do. The next week will be critical, and if there is a further eruption of violence next weekend (with smaller events planned during the week), then not everyone is convinced that Macron will survive.

    1. larry

      Thanks for this, David. I for one would like Macron to fail, as he seems hopeless and a neoliberal to boot, which is what one might expect of an ex-banker, but then there seems to be the possibility that le Pen could emerge with a chance. Would anyone wish that?

          1. Wukchumni

            Every developed country seems to have major social foibles innate to them only, but what if it acquiesced into a world-wide effort in some guise?

            We’re already there increasingly with authoritarian know nothing leadership in many countries…

            …things would go awry quickly here if cars were burning on Rodeo Drive and on the freeways simultaneously

            1. JBird4049

              The elites of all the major countries do talk to each other. It is one of the reasons for the apparently coordinated implementation of neoliberalism. I think that our elites might look at France’s elites’ problems and panic and worry what it might be.

              1. JTMcPhee

                Re coordinated elites, this link from a bit ago in NC is only “about” US elites, but kind of lays it all out, not even much tin-foil in the mix:

                Interlocks and Interactions Among the Power Elite
                The Corporate Community, Think Tanks, Policy-Discussion Groups, and Government


                Of course, having an accurate diagnosis and understanding to the political-economic “physiology” is not of much help if the patient has developed an untreatable disease, with the immune system simply overwhelmed by parasites and pathogens, maybe even hijacked as with some diseases to cooperate in the destruction.

      1. Olga

        What makes you think le Pen would be so much worse than Macron? Remember, she has been demonised beyond recognition. Also, is there a possibility that the violence is not originating with the protesters?

        1. Bugs Bunny

          I think Marine would be worse than Macron because the people around her have no idea of how to run the giant bureaucracy and would be overwhelmed – making them threatened and paranoid, then lashing out at perceived enemies and scapegoats.

          That said, her economics are much better than her father’s.

          1. David

            I tend to agree, but the idea now being floated that Le Pen would just replace Macron is typical of the blinkers of traditional left-right political thinking that much of the commentariat here is still trapped in. The result may be a very different political system – as happened in 1958, for example. On the other hand, several leaders of major parties have called for new parliamentary elections. It won’t happen, at least not yet, but it’s an indication of the way the wind is blowing.

    2. Kurtismayfield

      When the response is so milquetoast that even I am surprised he bothered to say it:

      French President Emmanuel Macron has sought to douse the anger by promising three months of nationwide talks on how best to transform France into a low-carbon economy without penalising the poor.

      He also vowed to slow the rate of increase in fuel taxes if international oil prices rise too rapidly but only after a tax hike due in January.

      Talks, and slowing the increase. A great example if TINA in action. I would go out and protest more if this was the response.

      1. Yves Smith

        He does have a point regarding global warming, but trying to force a sudden change in car use without a macro plan (changes in employer hours, so people worked longer hours for fewer days to reduce commutes, promoting ride sharing, Lord knows what else) and instead relying on price and Mr. Market was pretty dumb. And recall he forced through unpopular reductions in labor rights, IIRC in 2017. Lotta demonstrations then.

        1. Todde

          What was the tax increase on aviation fuel?

          I honestly cant find a source to see if it went up also.

        2. David

          The thing is that increasing the tax on petrol won’t actually lead to a reduction in car use except at the margins, because most French people live in areas served poorly, if at all, by public transport, and so they have no choice but to drive everywhere. Even in cities, one of the effects of the economic policies of the last generation has been to force ordinary people out of city centres into (often distant) suburbs, where there are no jobs and poor public transport. It wasn’t so long ago that many people lived within walking, or easy public transport, of their jobs. That’s very much the exception now.
          Indeed, the government is relying on raising more money with these taxes to offset the losses from the abolition of a tax on the super-rich (the ISF) which will cost several billion Euros per year. As a number of people have pointed out, if Macron really wanted to discourage car use he would have targeted the users of large and expensive cars with big engines. Not going to happen.

          1. Lee

            The thing is that increasing the tax on petrol won’t actually lead to a reduction in car use except at the margins, because most French people live in areas served poorly, if at all, by public transport, and so they have no choice but to drive everywhere.

            For a case in point see video interview with Valerie Casanova, a yellow vest participant. When you’ve lost suburbia…..


            1. freedomny

              That interview sums it up really well. The elites all around the world should be very nervous. And if the Dems muck up 2020 again, I would not be suprised to see this kind of thing happen in the US.

          2. Olga

            This seems to be one of the main points of the protests (in addition to years-long frustration over a country that increasingly works only for the well-off) – the fuel tax is coming soon after taxes were slashed on the rich. The unfairness of it may be all one needs to know. Climate change appears to be just an excuse (not that a genuine attempt to address it would not be welcome). But that would require – as Yves says – a comprehensive plan.

          3. SerenityNow

            Why is it, would you say, that so many people in France now live so far from jobs that they can’t walk there? What changed to alter settlement patterns like that?

            1. David

              Many reasons, Most are common to the major European cities. For example, de-industrialisation and offshoring of manufacturing jobs. In France, as elsewhere, towns and even cities grew up around factories, which not only employed many people, but generated lots of jobs nearby in support industries. In some cases, a closed factory might have been, directly or indirectly, the only major source of employment. The nearest alternative work (if you can find it) would be many kilometres away. There used to be manufacturing industry close to, and even in major French cities. The area around Paris was the hub of the French motor industry, and Renault had a huge factory in the south-west of the capital until about 25 years ago. Likewise, the food industry has replaced farming in many areas. Farms are closing all the time and the rural population now has to travel a long way to work if it can. The centres of many cities have been taken over by the new professional classes, and what were once poor working class areas have become the homes of the affluent young. When the market in the Marais in Paris moved to the suburbs, the workforce and everybody who supported it had to go as well. Property prices in major cities have become stupid, driven by foreigners parking their money, and there are many French cities where ordinary people simply cannot afford to buy, or even rent. Hypermarkets and shopping centres designed for motorists have killed off local businesses. As I say, people in many countries will have had similar experiences, but France is relatively lightly populated (only half of England’s population density, for example) and population centres are more widely spaced. In addition, public transport has largely been neglected except as a way of getting a cheap and docile workforce into the major cities. Money has gone into prestige projects like the TGV, which, because of the need for reservations and the relatively high prices, have made it much more difficult to move around the country than it used to be.

            2. David

              I tried to reply but the comment monster ate my post.
              Try again.
              Many reasons, Most are common to the major European cities. For example, de-industrialisation and offshoring of manufacturing jobs. In France, as elsewhere, towns and even cities grew up around factories, which not only employed many people, but generated lots of jobs nearby in support industries. In some cases, a closed factory might have been, directly or indirectly, the only major source of employment. The nearest alternative work (if you can find it) would be many kilometres away. There used to be manufacturing industry close to, and even in major French cities. The area around Paris was the hub of the French motor industry, and Renault had a huge factory in the south-west of the capital until about 25 years ago. Likewise, the food industry has replaced farming in many areas. Farms are closing all the time and the rural population now has to travel a long way to work if it can. The centres of many cities have been taken over by the new professional classes, and what were once poor working class areas have become the homes of the affluent young. When the market in the Marais in Paris moved to the suburbs, the workforce and everybody who supported it had to go as well. Property prices in major cities have become stupid, driven by foreigners parking their money, and there are many French cities where ordinary people simply cannot afford to buy, or even rent. Hypermarkets and shopping centres designed for motorists have killed off local businesses. As I say, people in many countries will have had similar experiences, but France is relatively lightly populated (only half of England’s population density, for example) and population centres are more widely spaced. In addition, public transport has largely been neglected except as a way of getting a cheap and docile workforce into the major cities. Money has gone into prestige projects like the TGV, which, because of the need for reservations and the relatively high prices, have made it much more difficult to move around the country than it used to be.

              1. JTMcPhee

                Here we got credentialed and upscale people telling us we just HAVE TO HAVE “high speed rail,” in order to be a world-class place and “for the environment.” A small subset of the population wants (not needs) to travel in speed and style and exclusivity. Not cheap transport, and not cheap ?(except maybe via the use of eminent domain to take the property of people who live “in the path of the Great God Progress.)

                And gee, who will actually pocket those billions of dollars — maybe the equivalent of the Railroad Robber Barons of 175 years ago? “The rich you will have always with you…”

          4. JBird4049

            The thing is that increasing the tax on petrol won’t actually lead to a reduction in car use except at the margins, because most French people live in areas served poorly, if at all, by public transport, and so they have no choice but to drive everywhere.

            You have just described America. Vast areas dotted with dying towns and counties and whole states with almost no public transportation of any kind except maybe joke system in a larger city.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              End The War and bring the troops home, you’d have enough money to buy everyone a solar car. The military is also far and away the biggest user of fossil fuels. Slash the funds from the electronic ray gun being built to zap goat herders from space and deploy them to make the solar cars run better. Pave over central Nevada with solar panels and take just this year’s increase in the Pentagon budget to upgrade the entire national grid.

              1. polecat

                I’d go for electric trolleys, as was the case in many urban/suburban areas/cities up to the mid 20th century … surely there’s enough absconded MIC money to fund such a need for vital, and viable transportation … enough for EVERY city and town in America. If Trump had any foresight, he’d steer GM in That direction … revitalize workable mass transportation. Would be good for GM .. Would be good for the country !

                1. The Rev Kev

                  Excellent idea that. But – and you knew there was a but – they had that a century ago. Then the car and tire companies got together, brought up these trolley lines and then shut them down so forcing people to buy cars and tires. They were caught at it and put on trial, found guilty and had to pay peanuts in penalties but by then cars were a thriving business so the trollies never went back. Jeez, even Los Angeles had a thriving network before it all got ripped out. Probably this is a reason that there is no real thriving public transport culture in the US and other countries.

        3. Kurtismayfield

          That is the point.. there seems to be no give and take, it’s their plan or nothing.. hence why I said it was TINA.

          The fact that not all fuels went up is suspicious enough. Let’s make what a certain class needs more expensive, instead of equally applying pain.

        4. polecat

          Yes. The poodles have already lept through the palace gates as it were ..

          The only thing left are the rats !

        5. Pookah Harvey

          As David above notes, “The government is effectively accusing the French people of being too stupid to understand its ecological policy.”
          The people completely understand Macron’s ecological policy, to use a regressive tax stick on the mass of people to get them to do what the elites understand must be done, decrease CO2 production.

          How about using a Mr. Market stick on the elites. A steeply progressive tax on dividends from polluting corporations that would be used for a carrot to the people by subsidizing the purchase of low emission vehicles, decreasing their transportation cost while also decreasing CO2 production. Seems fair to me.

          1. TimR

            “Climate change” IS class warfare… Or rather, a fig leaf by which to implement regressive taxes and lower living standards for the masses. It was designed that way from the start. Look into the Club of Rome conference in the 70s that decided a global threat was needed to manage global populations. The planning comes first; then the “science” to justify it.

            1. pretzelattack

              the science is fine, whatever the elites do. the elites will use anything to to implement regressive taxes and lower living standards for the rabble, whether california wildfires or climate change or disastrous hurricanes. says nothing whatever about the facts of wildfires or hurricanes or climate change overall.

          2. TimR

            IF cc is real… Let’s see the super wealthy give up their palaces, jets and luxuries… Not just the famous wealthy, but ALL the .00001%. Let’s start with them… If they can lead by example, then maybe the .001% next…. Then if they are agreeable, and not admitting the whole thing is a fraud, then move it down to the .1% to live like middle class people. Because this is a serious issue, you know; they ought to see that, it’s necessary to show the serfs they Really Believe. Then, ok, if that happens, maybe I’ll at least believe that they believe it. Whether the science is correct, still highly doubtful, but maybe you’ll have some credibility to carbon tax the masses.

            1. pretzelattack

              the elites do all kinds of stupid crap. the waltons aren’t the best of the best, they just inherited a lot of money. i no more expect them to act in the long run best interest of the world than i would have expected french aristocrats and monarchs to do so in the runup to the french revolution.

            2. JTMcPhee

              Remember the motto of the super rich? “Apres nous le deluge.” They not only do not care, most of them revel in the destruction of the mopery — and that they can view it all from a most comfortable chair in a nice safe place, their every whim attended to.

        6. coboarts

          Localization of production (farm, basic necessities) and political control, reverse globalization, would get you there without decrees from above – about what is best for the planet.

        7. Jean

          Widespread dissemination of free public transportation in the French hinterland and the suburbs would go a long way toward that.
          Portland puts its money where its climate change mouth is, at least in the central area.
          Studies show that not taking the time to collect money, issue transfers, guard entry gates and other fare collection related activities, speeds transit and saves a lot of money spent on those things.

        8. JBird4049

          , but trying to force a sudden change in car use without a macro plan (changes in employer hours, so people worked longer hours for fewer days to reduce commutes, promoting ride sharing, Lord knows what else) and instead relying on price and Mr. Market was pretty dumb.

          You are right. Right here in California too many people require a vehicle to live to just stop, or God help them, pay increasing fuel tax and registration fees. Housing is not where the jobs are. Retirees often live in nowhereville or in the caravans of cars and campers. Commuting, farming, shopping, whatever.

          And yet the elite leadership keeps pushing such market based ideas. A large reason that we got to this mess was because of governmental policies to encourage sprawl, the hollowing out of cities and whole counties and states, often by tax policy, laws and subsidies. Now that the economy is effectively dying and the climate is changing because of the encouraged use of personal gasoline powered cars, they persist in trying to blame the individual and make them pay for the actions of their ancestor’s government and businesses.

          We are living under a kakistocracy.

    3. Christopher Dale Rogers

      I’m delighted the ‘unseen masses’ in France are rebelling and welcome this group-up movement, which, like it or not, is nothing dissimilar to recent events across much of Western Europe – the Brexit vote being very much part of this process, whilst in Scotland we witness it via the IndyRef vote, which again failed to end a thorny issue.

      All these protest movements we’ve witnessed since the GFC have one commonality, basically they are opposed to the economic effects of 40 years of neoliberalism, which has dissolved much and replaced it with a sense of anger and alienation by vast swathes of the populace, as such, even Trumps election can be heaped in here.

      Strange as it is, these protests feed into the dialogue we had on Corbyn yesterday and how he’s quite misunderstood, but is now very much a man of our times challenging a Status Quo that’s lost its right to Rule, what will replace it is still much in flux, but, if these sentiments of anger and outrage can be channelled to the left, some hope exists, if, and as has happened in several EU nations its channelled to the right, well the future won’t be happy, not as if it is now, but extreme nationalisms and xenophobia are no cure alls.

      So, hopefully, perhaps Melenchon can get a boost from this dissent if he plays his cards right – as for Macron, well its him and his class who are the chief architects of this mess. And to think the UK’s Guardian newspaper want’s a UK Macron rather than get behind one of the real answers to where we find ourselves, namely Corbyn and his tribe of loyal followers, many of whom wish the French well as they too finally rebel against the neoliberal curse that infects society.

      1. ChristopherJ

        Thank you, Christopher. Whilst I cheer these protests on and hope they achieve some political successes, I look at my own country and cannot see the same sort of thing happening here.

        Australians are very divided on race and religious grounds, the left hates the right and vice versa, and the working people often fail to see that we are oppressed by the same forces and can only hope to change the course of this ship by joining together. Not going to get a revolution here

      1. David

        The GJ are primarily a provincial movement, and spread to Paris, rather than the other way round. There were protests in all the major cities and in some smaller towns as well. But it’s critical to understand that these are not “demonstrations”, which the government could ride out, but rather urban guerrilla warfare, which does not depend on numbers and is much harder to combat. News this morning is that petrol rationing may be introduced in the West of the country because of a GJ blockade of an oil refinery.

        Oh, and a few minutes ago, glancing out of the window, I saw two cars pass, one after the other, with yellow vests prominently displayed.

  5. Wukchumni

    One thing I don’t get in regards to ‘Burning Homme’ is nobody has masks on that i’ve seen among those invested in yellow, and the perps should be easy peasy to identify via surveillance cameras, no?

    1. Lee

      They are righteously pissed off citizens with considerable public support, not criminals. They are unafraid, unashamed, and numerous enough to clog the system. Masks are for thugs, terrorists, SWAT teams, and Halloween.

      1. BlueMoose

        Regarding righteously pissed off citizens: wait till the results of the ‘no brexit/some brexit/what brexit?’ thing becomes obvious to the rank and file. By then, the upper crust will have already sailed away on their luxury yachts, looking back as the smoke ascends from their looted mansions. At least the European riff/raff still knows how to protest/riot. Not sure what is would take for Americans to get off their asses (if even possible).

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            As somebody who even has a scar on the back of my scalp from the Viet War protests I often brag to young people that Our Generation Stopped A War and Threw a Crook President Out Of Office.
            What changed? It’s hard not to conclude that our society has gone from one that gives a sh*t about their fellow men to one that does not. Look in a mirror long enough and all you see is yourself.

              1. JBird4049

                The ending of the draft was part of it, but the authoritarian pushback is also a part of it. I do not think neoliberalism or the pushing of such things as the TSA to control and train the cattle is by happenstance. No, impoverishment, atomizing, propagandizing of the population and the creation a still growing heavily armed police state is perhaps by design albeit somewhat haphazard.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Obama Tells Wall Street to Thank him for Making Them so Much Money”

    A Republican in Democrats clothing. The man even admitted to being a Republican in beliefs some time ago. When he boasted that: ‘Suddenly America is the biggest oil producer’ — that was me, people.’, what else could you say to him but-

    “You didn’t build that!”

    1. Wukchumni

      He’s an ersatz Jackie Robinson breaking the color line of Major League Bullshitting, that is if Jackie only hit .211, attempted to steal 14 times and got caught 11 times, and was prone to making unforced errors on the field, after 8 years of playing ball.

      1. pretzelattack

        and then made the hall of fame anyway, based on those stats. “those other teams wouldn’t let him steal, and the way those pitchers treated him was shameful!”

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Robinson was still one player, and phenoms burn out. Even a .211 hitter with eight year career was probably a good guy to show the young guys to prepare. The President is Caesar incarnate. For a sports metaphor, we need to look at ownership. Except for the color barrier, he’s kind of like Goodell, slavishly devoted to his masters, obsessed with odd beefs, and will never do the right thing and largely just assumed the operation of his predecessor.

        Also in the case of Jackie Robinson, he was first because he was a sure fire kind of player.

    2. Eureka Springs

      A Republican in Democrats clothing.

      Uh, no… He’s Democrat through and through. Just ask Paygo Progressive Pelosi and Democrat Bill Clinton who teed up O’s spectacular grift as much as anyone, including Bushco.

      Obama will be as adoringly remembered by Dems as Reagan has been by Republicans and Democrats.

      1. human

        He’s always been a Class A street hustler. The only things missing are the gold chains and rings.

    3. Massinissa

      I have to agree with Eureka Springs. Saying hes ‘not a real Democrat’ is basically falling for the ‘No True Scotsman’ fallacy. The problem is is this is what the vast majority of the Democrats have become.

      When the Democrats complain that Bernie is ‘not a real Democrat’, the sad truth of the matter is that they are right.

    4. anon in so cal

      Hate to link to the Guardian.

      But this article documents how Obama and Holder protected Wall Street bankers whose fraudulent behaviors led to the 2008 debacle:

      “one of the greatest and most shameful failings of the Obama administration: the lack of even a single arrest or prosecution of any senior Wall Street banker for the systemic fraud that precipitated the 2008 financial crisis: a crisis from which millions of people around the world are still suffering. What this program particularly demonstrated was that the Obama justice department, in particular the Chief of its Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer, never even tried to hold the high-level criminals accountable.

      What Obama justice officials did instead is exactly what they did in the face of high-level Bush era crimes of torture and warrantless eavesdropping: namely, acted to protect the most powerful factions in the society in the face of overwhelming evidence of serious criminality…”

        1. Charger01

          The piece by GG in the Guardian is a good reminder. I always look forward to reading Thomas Frank’s articles as well.

    5. djrichard

      When he boasted that: ‘Suddenly America is the biggest oil producer’ — that was me, people.’, what else could you say to him but-

      “You didn’t build that!”

      I think the Fed Reserve would argue that they built that.

  7. pretzelattack

    goes along with obama’s admiration for reagan. the clintons and bushes and obama’s all cozying up to each other, the clintons vacationing with the kissingers, making up will scaife post bill, all says the same thing, it’s a great little party they have going there.

    1. southern charm

      the clintons vacationing with the kissingers, making up will scaife post bill, all says the same thing,

      At which point I said huh? 30 seconds of search found the following:

      Bill Clinton on Saturday fondly memorialized one of the key financiers of what Hillary Clinton years ago deemed the “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

      Speaking at a private memorial service in southwestern Pennsylvania for Richard Mellon Scaife, who died last month, Clinton recalled how, after his presidency, he built a “counterintuitive friendship” with the conservative billionaire, according to an account of the speech in one of the newspapers Scaife owned.

      “He fought as hard as he could for what he believed, but he never thought he had to be blind or deaf” to other views, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review quotes Clinton saying of its former publisher. A spokesman for Clinton declined to comment.

      1. Olga

        Probably declined to comment because words failed him. Not much one can add to BC’s “memorializing.”

      2. pretzelattack

        bill and hill took a pilgrimage to scaife’s estate after 2000, had a long meeting. at the time i was like what the family blog is going on here. naive me.

  8. Mirdif

    Brexit: that sinking feeling

    I see North is peddling his Article 112 nonsense. Invoking or threatening to invoke and the possibility or not thereof is besides the point. The British economy is built around easy access to lots of cheap (or not so cheap depending on your point of view) labour. To either threaten this state of affairs or to actually go through with it will put a lot of businesses out of work as it will either impact or threaten to impact on the status quo. It’s why Article 112 is a non-starter without a massive change in public policy over many years and perhaps decades and we don’t even need to get to the bit about whether it can be invoked or not.

    This type of nonsense being peddled is perhaps unsurprising as its from somebody who wailed about the damage of crash-out, changed in mid-August to crash-out is no big deal and now vascillates between advocating crash-out and May’s plan as a means to get to his EFTA/EEA plan. A couple of days ago he was on twitter going on about how if Brexit came close to being stopped: “…you will find you have a bigger battle on your hands than the nation had with Hitler. You will spark a civil war…” and then continued with something about how information regarding making IEDs was available online and you can even get kids to plant them. Meanwhile his son stated “an observable fact” that lefty QCs will be the first to hang and North Sr backed up this statement. I presume North Sr won’t be fighting in the civil war what with his wonky hip and neither North Jr who apparently has “issues” and hardly leaves his bedsit.

    I guess amusing isn’t what they’re going for but I do laugh especially at the subsequent whinging about how the SW1A bubble and “legacy” media ignores them. Yep, nothing to do with nonsense like that or North Jr’s previous flirtations with the BNP or where North Sr wrote some things on his blog which you can easily find for yourself through the magic of Google: jungle bunnies

    That’s why they are ignored and they have revealed another in a long line of very very poor decisions and that they are anything but sensible. I would be very wary of anything from either of them especially North Sr who really should know better. I also, note North Sr has restricted comments on his blog, no doubt because some rather difficult questions started being asked about his Flexcit where some suspected that it was designed to bypass the Ireland issue by moving to EFTA and then subsequently leaving EFTA/EEA with only 12 months notice.

    1. larry

      I think North is losing the plot. I don’t know whether you agree. Chris Grey of The Brexit Blog seems to be keeping his.

      1. Yves Smith

        North was very valuable when technical details about trade mattered to analyzing the negotiations and possible options. He’s now sunk into being obsessed with his Efta/EEA solution.

        1. Anonymous2

          I agree. I think he may be affected by the underlying, though still largely unvoiced, sense of hysteria that I think is growing increasingly strong among many here in the UK. Although on the surface life continues pretty much as normal, few can be unaware that May’s deal looks likely to be rejected by the House of Commons in ten days time. The question is what then? The problem remains that there is no obvious majority for any course of action. The warnings about the likely consequences of ‘crash out’ have been fairly dire. But if there is no majority for any specific course of action, what do you do? Who do you rally around?

          The situation is overly dynamic as Lambert might say.

          1. Christopher Dale Rogers


            having spoken to a few folks in South wales this weekend, all i’ve got is that many are sick and tired of hearing about Brexit via media outlets – the fact remains, go into any Weatherspoons pub across the nation and talk of brexit will be the last thing you’d hear, despite its actual owner being a firm Brexiteer – its a class thing and the working class has far greater concerns, such as daily survival I’m afraid, and its been like this for quite a while, in or out of the EU I’m afraid – hence the “so much for the EU” mantra we hear from many in my class.

            As for Ireland and Northern Ireland I support the United Ireland option, so lets just hope a majority of the Six Counties come to this conclusion sooner, rather than later.

  9. Tom Stone

    The Clinton’s made a few Billion, and I don’t think the Obama’s have broken the $100MM mark yet.
    I suspect it’s like any Stroll, the white hookers make more than the black ones.

    1. RUKidding

      True dat re the Stroll. But give the O’Bombers time. I’m sure they’ll make the Three Comma club soon enough. They’re still young.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      The money to the Clintons didn’t roll in until after Carville was calling his wife on the Bush team (those resistance types stick together) to inform them of the Kerry campaign’s recount strategy in 2004. People aren’t in the habit of paying for past service. I’m sure Obama will be well fed for fear of future Presidents worrying about not cashing in, but the big bucks are in a public pay for play scheme.

  10. Invy

    LENR in the IEEE

    Next month a presentation for a product that is operating in a factory will be given, it is meant for potential customers. The players involved do not have the same ethos as IEEE, but readers should be aware of it nonetheless.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “The Over-celebration of Life Events”

    I wonder if the real point of these over-celebrations is for getting praise on social media. It does get over the top though and this is not about sharing a happy event with friends and family but people trying to out-do each other. It’s keeping up with the Joneses. Worse one I ever saw was one rich, young girl celebrating a big birthday. So they had a couple of big men dressed as slaves bring her out draped atop this big silver-looking tray like something out of a thousand and one nights. Can you spell entitled?
    The article mentions the U.S. Border Patrol agent who caused an $8 million fire through a baby reveal. For those who missed it, here is the explosion that cause the fire and please note the amount of dry grass surrounding that tannerite package. Note the panic in the voice-

    1. DJG

      Rev Kev:

      First, I am opposed to anything involving cupcakes. (See horrifying photo mid-article.)

      Second, it occurred to me that the reason events used to be celebrated more intimately is that one had intimates. It isn’t just social media: Americans are not known for maintaining intimate relations or even friendships (something that Europeans note with some regularity). So the life event requires a crowd scene. And the crowd scene includes people whom the relatives of the celebrants can’t quite figure out.

      As I keep reminding my nieces and nephews: There is always elopement. I will forgive elopement.

    2. A Small Part of the Pantomime

      The article didn’t touch on this but, as with so much of modern life I suspect this is marketing-driven. I think of the sponsored blogs and lifestyle pieces how-to’s, to live your “best life.” Thereafter the process chugs along on its own and pretty soon there’s an ecosystem of event planners, travel, hotels, and swag merchants.

      1. Summer

        The article doesn’t mention it because the article is a lifestyle, sponsored piece.
        Baby Center especially gets name checked.
        It’s written the way it is because it is targeting readers of The Atlantic.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      And it trickles down from the rich and/or ostentatious to everyone else. The suburban little kids birthday party circuit has gotten way over the top. When did it become common practice to get ‘goody bags’ for all the kids who come to a birthday party? And the party itself has to be some sort of destination to a trampoline park or some other venue that costs a few hundred bucks to rent for a couple hours – what ever happened to a party in the back yard anymore with some cake and playing pin the tail on the donkey? The birthday parties my kid has been to like that are few and far between. Anyone else experience this? Maybe it’s more prevalent with girls of the suburban demographic? All I know is it drives me nuts but try to get people to tone it down and you’re the Grinch….

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        Yes! even way out here, the local petit bourgeoisie insist on all that fluff and nonsense for their darling’s soirees.
        there’s a real competition in some circles.
        On the other hand, other demographics do hayrides(trailer + hay bales from the barn out back, roaming around the ranch) and the simpler “turn them loose, let them play” approach.(I’m definitely in the latter camp)
        I think it’s a class marker…the performative “Look How Wonderful I Am”…as the kids get older, it’s more prevalent in the ones who just love the various cotillions and pseudoproms…than in the one’s who only attend because the girl they like’s mom bought her a fancy dress.
        a lot of my eldest’s friends…girl and guy(16-17)…would prefer going to the river or the ranch.
        Ergo, Pretentiousness might be on the downhill slide as a fad, for a time.
        (out here, at least)
        I think us codgers(I’m 49) may be surprised at how no-nonsense this younger generation ends up becoming….in spite of the ubiquitous small screens, and the herd behaviour and shallowness we assume that indicates.
        There’s thinking going on!…and a certain clear-eyed-ness…that I’ve stumbled over and that I certainly didn’t expect.
        More research/field study is necessary.

      2. ArcadiaMommy

        Have done both types, the trampoline park type of parties are a lot easier. But, years later I still have kids and parents tell me how much fun the parties we had where we did stuff like Backyard Olympics (water ballon shotput, ring toss, races, make gold medals, etc), treasure hunts (made a map for each kid and used little trinkets for treasures) and backyard campout for birthday parties. The rock climbing wall party was pretty fun too. The parties have gotten more about sports (and smaller too) as they boys get older. Next up looking at taking a few kids on a trail ride and the other one wants to go camping with a few friends. The girl parties do seem way over the top.

        I also don’t allow gifts except from family, instead we do a group donation to the food bank.

      3. anon in so cal

        We attended a two year old’s birthday party some years ago, held in the parents’ back yard. The parents’ SES was approximately lower middle class, meaning not much discretionary money.

        The party was obscene, with over-the-top decorations, favors, food, and a rented petting zoo, complete with a live pony, a sheep, several goats, hay, etc., all crammed into an approximately 5,000 sq ft lot. There were a few children in attendance, but it appeared most of the invitees were the parents’ neighbors and co-workers. The child did not seem to be enjoying it.

        1. ArcadiaMommy

          Yes, elaborate toddler parties are ridiculous, they need to nap, which will mess with scheduling and the parents can’t drop them off and leave. Plus the little ones are terrified having to face so many people.

    4. Jean

      Spontaneous events are now programmed events in a family’s history posted on social media. Thus, instead of dropping by a neighbor’s house unannounced, or walking down the street to a home baked cake birthday party, as was the custom in the 1900s, one now makes a social media “event” out of it, which allows advertising alongside and inside its announcement as well as the posting of post- event pictures etc. More importantly, data-mining of all the names and pictures as well.

      Even better for the dataminers and advertisers is the ability of “friends” or family members, scattered all over the country, to click on ads to deliver the now obligatory gifts via the chain of their credit card, slaves in an Amazon warehouse, and “independent contractors” racing around to deliver packages and get their per delivery payment as they struggle to make a living.

      Another reason not mentioned is that probably half the men and women having a baby are not married, thus the social media event fills in for a wedding.

    5. Summer

      It is very cleverly designed sponsored content (IMO).
      Read it again…closely. It’s more marketing than social study.
      Anyone else think so?

    1. Watt4Bob

      Kipling said about as much as you have to know about the Brits experience in Afghanistan, in short;

      When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
      And the women come out to cut up what remains,
      Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
      An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.

    2. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      Return of A King is indeed a great book, and Dalrymple’s a great writer. I can also recommend his White Mughals book, and The Last Mughal as well.

    3. ChristopherJ

      I can still recall the vision of the Russian military rolling their tanks back over the border in 1989 or so.

      I think we are going to see the same scenes shortly. Better to do it voluntarily I would have thought

      1. The Rev Kev

        Not so simple. Afghanistan is land-locked and the US has mountains of gear in country. If it was just troops to evacuate you could do it in weeks but there is the albatross of all that gear and the installations. I am guessing that it could take a few years to ship everything out as it either has to go by plane or by convoy to a port. You are talking about billions of dollars to accomplish this even if the US gifts enormous quantities of gear to the Afghans. They would probably be loath to in any case as soon that gear would turn up in the hands of the Taliban. Generals and Presidents can decide this or that but it is Logistics with a capital “L” that has the final word in the end.
        In any case, which President wants the tag as “the President that lost Afghanistan” around their necks?

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Azov Again”

    This has been a long time coming. For ages now there has been a bit of tit for tat as both the Ukraine and Russia have been seizing each other’s ships. I don’t know about the Russian side but I have read that the Ukrainians regard any ship departing Crimea as to be illegally leaving the Ukraine without their permission as they still regard the Crimea as theirs.
    Hard to find events like this on Google through all the recent ‘noise’ but managed to find one just back in March when the Ukrainian Border Guard Service seized a Russian-flagged & Crimea-registered fishing vessel in the Sea of Azov. And I quote-
    “The ‘Nord’ vessel was stopped 15 miles from the Obytichnyi Spit. During a check it was established that it is registered in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Besides this, members of the crew violated the protocol of departure from the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine. All of them had so-called passports of citizens of the Russian Federation issued in Kerch.” The ship and crew were arrested. Well that went down like a lead balloon with the Russians. Also-
    “It was reported on May 4 that the crew of the Ukrainian fishing vessel YaMK-0041, registered in Ochakov, had been detained for illegally fishing flatfish west of Cape Tarkhankut. A total of five people were detained and taken to Crimea.”
    These are not the only ship seizures that I have read about but between this and the constant shelling of villages in the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics as well as the murders of leaders in those two Republics I would say that the Russians have had enough. In any case, until the Ukrainian elections are done at the end of march, it is in the Ukraine’s interest to keep up the provocations as they know the west will support them right or wrong as shown over the past coupla days.

    1. Olga

      The link (above) leads to CM’s article on land re-distribution. Also a very timely topic… should go with the French protests.
      The link is –
      CM tries to be a little too even-handed, which leads him to disregard certain facts. Like the one above, where Ukr. seized Crimean boats (I think they are still holding them). Russians know very well that the whole thing was a planned provocation- and are acting accordingly. (Also, the boats had arms and intelligence officers – not too innocent.)

      1. GF

        “(Also, the boats had arms and intelligence officers – not too innocent.)” Sic Semper Tyrannis had this post right after the seizure of the boats:

        Haven’t heard much about the claims by the anonymous source sited in the piece.

        It may be that there were other arms on the seized boats that solely defensive ones. And, those “ntelligence officers” may not have been Ukrainians.

      2. witters

        Not sure its being “even handed.” Looks to me more like Craig has got an “how many angels are on this pinhead” obsessive tick with an imaginary world of “international law”.

  13. Summer

    Re: The Over-Celebration of Life Events….

    Article brought to you by Baby Center.
    The tell? Mainly that it was the one company brought up by name in the article.

    1. Wukchumni

      I burned out @ over-celebrating when I was young, there was that 1st recess party in school that was catered on the playground, and who could forget my 1st hit in little league, both teams rushed out of the dugout in wild celebration.

    2. Craig H.

      Why is this not fraud?

      Amazon put unwanted sponsored products in customers’ baby registries; Shannon Liao; The Verge; 11/28

      Inside the gift registries, Amazon appears to be including other new baby products like a Playtex Diaper Genie and Kimberly-Clark’s Huggies Snug & Dry diapers as sponsored ads. The ads are placed next to actual products requested by people, making them look as if they are a part of the wishlist, except for a small sponsored tag on top.

  14. anon y'mouse

    “Obama Tells Wall Street to Thank him for Making Them so Much Money”

    …and he’s so modest, too!


    1. Quentin

      I suspect Obama is ticked off because fewer and fewer people seem to accept the thundering greatness he recognises in himself. Could it be that his increasing insignificance in his post-era marked by Trump is a point of annoyance? Or is Michelle’s glamorous success blocking out his light? If so, let’s hope it won’t block ours. Whatever, may Mr. and Mrs. Clinton get slammed hard in the butt as the curtain closes on them.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The hagiography of his administration is certainly lacking. After all, a barely competent buffoon who can’t staff his administration is in danger of overturning the Obama legacy amid 13 diet cokes and overcooked steak every day per Jonathan Chait. His only domestic accomplishment was really ACA. Lily Bedletter was a holdover piece of legislation. What is the mantra generating enthusiasm among Democratic leaning crowds? Its not “Improve ACA and thank Obama!”, its Medicare for All. ACA has been given plenty of time to show how it works, and what people found is the healthcare system is still a disaster.

        In 2016, who was the Obama candidate? His Ziggurat is being fought by the neighborhood he’s supposed to bringing enlightenment to.

        Even Obama is asking to be thanked for making the rich richer. As if its particularly difficult.

        1. barefoot charley

          Ozymandias of Illinois reminds me of no one more than the other first black president, at his last State of the Union bragfest, where (the other) Clinton gloated that his administration had achieved perfection on every thinkable front, and was leaving America on an eternal glidepath of perfection, in a speech worthy of the end of history–except history barged in and crashed the markets in 2000. Good thing (the other) Bush stole the election in time to misplace the blame! If there were an alternative, people would vote for it, like they did for Trump’s middle finger.

    2. JEHR

      Well, it seems as though leaders who bamboozle their people eventually feel free to show themselves to be the fraudsters they actually are. It is revolting behaviour and people should revolt.

      NC knew what Obama was long before he even knew what he stood for himself!

  15. Wukchumni

    Could you swap out the price of bread in 1789 for the cost of gas in 2018, as the catalyst for revolution?

    A 4% rise per gallon doesn’t seem extreme, but if the population is so stressed by $7 a gallon gas already, it’s the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, no?

    Macron: “Let them eat mistake”

    1. Earl Erland

      “According to Sylvia Neely’s A Concise History of the French Revolution, the average 18th-century worker spent half his daily wage on bread. But when the grain crops failed two years in a row, in 1788 and 1789, the price of bread shot up to 88 percent of his wages. Many blamed the ruling class for the resulting famine and economic upheaval. On top of that, peasants resented the gabelle, a tax on salt that was particularly unfairly applied to the poor.”


    2. Earl Erland

      “According to Sylvia Neely’s A Concise History of the French Revolution, the average 18th-century worker spent half his daily wage on bread. But when the grain crops failed two years in a row, in 1788 and 1789, the price of bread shot up to 88 percent of his wages. Many blamed the ruling class for the resulting famine and economic upheaval. On top of that, peasants resented the gabelle, a tax on salt that was particularly unfairly applied to the poor.”

  16. rd

    Re: Farmer’s Dilemma

    While farmers have played a major role in the bio-diversity issue, they are by no means alone. The solution actually has to occur in multiple paces as it is a true “tragedy of the commons” problem.

    Soil and erosion control during construction became a requirement in the 80s. However, the planting guidelines for that came from the USDA that viewed the entire planet as pastureland. So highway roadsides and ditches were planted with non-native pasture grass species despite the low probability of having cows and horses grazing in highway medians. It is only in the last handful of years that the soil and erosion planting guidelines in some of the states for highway work and developments started to require native species. Re-introducing these species is hopefully putting them into the seed bank so they can spread in the future, displacing non-native species. You can start to see this happen as you drive along the nation’s highways if you know how to identify your plants.

    Suburbs occupy land that used to be valuable farmland and ecosystems. The typical suburban lawn and has virtually no ecosystem value other than permeability. Very few plants in the typical garden are native and so do not provide for larval growth of native insect populations. Just planting flowers for pollinators alone does not allow for the reproduction of many critical pollinating species. Landscape architects and nurseries are starting to think about native species but they are still way behind the curve. This is mainly due to the European and Asian focus on garden design using plants from those regions. There are many North american natives that can be substituted to get the same design effects and they are starting to work their way into the market. Interestingly, some of the most interesting North American species selections and cultivars have come from growers and breeders in Europe instead of from the US.

    So yes, farmers need to do more, but the rest of society can pitch in and help solve the pollinator problem at virtually no cost, simply by rethinking current practices. Some education is required.

    1. JTMcPhee

      “Starting to work their way into the market.” Something is wrong with that observation, can’t think what it might be… So nigh on impossible not to go with the narrative memes, I know…

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      re: native plants.
      Lady Bird had a big impact on this in Texas.
      native grasses and wildflowers, all along the highways.
      not perfect, or comprehensive, by any means, but still.
      When I arrived on this place 25 years ago, it had a strip of mesquite and beebrush along one fencerow…and agricultural wasteland everywhere else…stickers and other poverty grasses and weeds…ravages of cotton and other misguided fads, driven by NowNowNow!
      So I’ve been collecting seeds on roadsides ever since. Now, I’m to the point that I must get some sheep…because my pastures are too lush.No irrigation.
      One can buy native pasture grass seed, of course…but to get actual Native Hill Country, it’s expensive.
      not popular with the over 50 ranchers(can’t plow it every year and plant hay, ie: habit, inertia, sunk cost)…and there are too few under 50 ranchers to poll effectively(which should be worrisome, if we thought about it).

  17. DJG

    Farmers’ Dilemma: Keeping bees.

    I know that we have farmers among the fellow groundlings. Maybe I have a dumb question: Why don’t farmers rent / buy hives permanently and have beekeepers make house calls? Why move hives at all? It makes no sense.

    Here in a very densely populated part of Chicago, my local Waldorf school, two blocks away, has put two bee hives in a grassy (and fenced in) area just off the schoolyard. Presumably, the students monitor the health of the hives. Why can’t farmers do something like this?

    I am reminded of folk-art museums in France and Italy that have skeps (human-made bee shelters for hives) that farmers used to set out to attract bees. Is this truly so hard? Are we truly so detached from natural processes now that we can’t cultivate bees? (Thinking also of the strange recipe in Virgil’s Georgics for attracting a hive of bees…)

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      I grew up on a small family farm, so my situation is not remotely comparable to the big farmers – but we contracted to have hives put in seasonally for our small scale commercial raspberries, blueberries, and fruit trees. Beekeepers liked berry honeys, and would also rotate hives around to catch clover honey too — differing farms, differing blooming schedules, and differing resultant honeys. They also rotated back ‘home’ in stages presumably to avoid both harsh winter weather….and also impact of other farm processes (such as off season or other pesticide spraying etc) in fields they had hives in on contracts.

      Now, we ultimately stopped needing commercial hives as it seemed inevitable that every other season or so there would be a swarm from a hive – or from neighboring hives – and we ended up with a fairly healthy population of resident honeybees that set up shop in various places throughout the farm (old trees etc) and remain to this day…along with a very strong resident bumble bee population

      I think we are VERY different though in our ‘habitat’: We have lots of mixed-use areas, old down dead trees, meadows, places lying fallow w/lots of native vegetation taking over (because laziness more then eco consciousness) and it the multistory mixed habitats that make the place look supremely messy are also fairly good for a multiplicity of species and niches.

      On the other hand – industrial agriculture: Hundreds if not thousands of acres of crops in (say) the imperial valley, or central valley of cali — very VERY strict pollination schedule, bees need to be there johnny on the spot at THIS time….then mass pesticide spraying schedules at other times, impacts of machinery, harvesters, pickers, monocultures few if any ‘mixed use’ areas so once one specific crop is done pollinating, there little or nothing else for the bees to eat, or do, so to speak… can kind of get the idea.

      I know that some of our relatives that do dozens of acres up the Willamette Valley (Oregon) of blueberries and have a lot less mixed-use lands/habitats then us have actually purchased hives to stay resident (and have beekeepers come in to maintain as needed on contract) but with the breadth of things they have to be expert on to keep making $$ on the farm, beekeeping is just one specialty too far to learn fully — and I a m told it is not that hard to do something silly (or NOT do something) and the all the hives promptly die off. So like animal husbandry, a beekeeper is a pretty specialized talent.

      Small anecdotal reasons for you, anyway. :)

    2. PhilK

      In orchard-rich areas of the Pacific Northwest, bee-providing has been a business for quite some time. At least ten years ago, a friend who owns a heavy-duty machine shop got a contract to build a truck trailer for bee-hives. The bee-keeper made his money by trucking the bees from orchard to orchard during the season when pollination was needed.

      This business is feasible because an orchard-owner wants a certain amount of pollination, and no more, lest the trees produce too much low-quality fruit. If an owner were to maintain bees on the premise, there would always be the danger of bee over-population. With bees brought in on a truck, it’s much easier to arrive at optimum pollination — the bee-truck stays only as many days as the orchard owner thinks is necessary.

  18. DJG

    Maureen Dowd on the Clintons: The commentariat here will recognize all of the facts and symptoms. Yet let’s hope that now that the NYTimes is overstuffed with the Clintons, the message will go to the ears of the gods and goddesses. Surely Lady Venus must have had enough of Bill by now.

    The Clintons, who also claim to be so cultured, have forgotten Shakespeare’s observation:

    Ripeness is all.

    Now they are starting to look like the latter part of Jaques’s speech in As You Like It

    Last scene of all,
    That ends this strange eventful history,
    Is second childishness and mere oblivion,

    [Shakespeare knows that Jacques prescription is avoidable…]

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      With the Clintons, Bill’s low standing in 1992 and the announcement of the co-Presidency made them national figures, but since then, they lost Congress, Gore lost, Kerry lost with plenty of Clintonista help and Hillary lost twice. Twenty four years is a long time when renaming a post office is your best accomplishment.

      What is the difference between a Clinton candidacy and a corpse of a candidate in terms of vote totals? I think the difference would be nil. As the nominees or leaders of the party, they will get a minimum vote, but in a way, they have never held held a proper legitimacy over the country. FDR and JFK, despite their differences, held a proper sway over the country. For 2008 and 2016, the Clinton strategy was largely to rig elections. You will notice Team Blue took the House without the shadow of the Clintons on the ballot, much like in 2006 when Dean took over the DNC.

      1. Richard

        Bill’s team in ’92 rigged as much as circumstances would bear. If you recall, he was anointed as the “frontrunner” before a vote had been cast, and also had superdelegate support far in excess of his popular support.
        The clintons have always tried to rig the game, because they’ve always needed to rig the game: they offer next to nothing to most voters.

    2. ChrisAtRU

      “The commentariat here will recognize all of the facts and symptoms.”

      Indeed. For all that #MoDo gets right (facts), the lingering liberal symptoms remain:

      To Wit:
      ” … flushing the Obama legacy down the drain …”

      Said non-ironically of course … and this:

      “They [the Clintons] don’t really face the complicity of what’s happened to the world, how selfish we’ve become and the horrible damage of screwing the workers and causing this resentment that the Republicans found a way of tapping into.” He ruefully worries about the Obamas in this regard, too.

      Ya think?!!

    3. The Rev Kev

      It doesn’t get any better over time. There was a lightning storm just the other night and a lightning bolt hit the house and shot through my modem with 1.21 gigawatts of power turning my modem into a form of a flux capacitor. For a brief few minutes I found that my browser was able to view about 25 years into the future. Apple, Google and Google News were no longer to be found on the net but there was Amazon News. The main topic was about the upcoming 2044 US Presidential elections with the Republicans led by the 38 year-old Barron Trump and representing the ‘youth vote’ versus the Democrat candidate, the 64 year-old Chelsea Clinton representing ‘a set of steady hands’ – whatever that meant. I was just about to ask what the most valuable stocks were for 2044 but lost the connection. Sigh!

  19. Lee


    Many US farmers have to decide whether they want to reverse the decline of bee populations through sustainable practices, or risk devastating their own livelihoods — and the future of some major food crops — through the pursuit of short-term profits.

    Farmers must decide? Well, as things are now ordered, how much of a choice do they really have? As with other important systemic environmental problems, if we leave it to market forces to solve the problem, they will kill us.

    “Desperate ecocide” is a term generally applied to people who must, for the sake of immediate survival. damage or destroy the ecosystem’s longer term ability to support them and theirs. In essence, they have no choice.

    But here in this country, where we could well afford too socialize and share the difficulties and short term additional costs of a food production transition, our ecocide is entirely optional.

    1. polecat

      As a homeowner and backyard beekepter, I’ve planted our surrounds to accomodate as many insect varieties as possible. During the spring and summer I notice an immense number of Bumble Bee, wasps (different genera), other bees ( carpenter, orchard, leafcutter, etc. .. as well as assorted hoverflies, beeflies, beetles, true bugs, gnats, and various arachnids (including some very cooool wipscorpions !). Now, where I live (North Olympic Peninsula), the winters here are not very kind to honeybees, due to the long, wet season .. which is occasionally punctuated with severe cold snaps. When you combine that with varroa & trachea mite infestations … and the viruses they spread, bacterial issues, and such … it makes for problematic honeybeekeeping. 2 out of the 4 hive I had going this year have probably died-out, due in great part, to K-Wing/Curly Wing viruses .. transmitted via mites .. to the winter brood that hatched out this Fall, leaving said colonies without sufficient winter house bees. Combine that with wasp infestations ( they were bad this year), and you have a recipe for ‘non-viabilitiy’. Of the remaining hives, one seems quite vigorous, perhaps due to few, if any, drones produced (note: drones tend to be a vector for varroa mite infestation), while the other appears so so. Will have to wait till March to see if they’ve survived enough to start feeding .. assuming they’ve consumned what honey and pollen they had previously stored.
      Tis a challenge, in any case …

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        I’m due to integrate bees, next year.
        this, after years of wrestling pasture/range management away from the incompetent dreamers next door(parents,lol).
        couple of wild hives I’ve been watching for years…my efforts…along with two of my neighbors lack of effort(accidental rewilding)…and they finally have enough forage to make it through the winter without infesting beer bottles or attacking bright colors.
        the “africanized” strains that had everybody so freaked out in the past, seem to have become assimilated, and the “africanized” lack of industry(as it were) in hoarding for the winter, too seems to have been overcome.
        My grandad kept bees, and I look forward to learning to live with them.
        one benefit of the loss of peanut subsidies(late 90’s) is an almost total cessation of big time spraying of anything out this way…so lack of pesticides might make this an inadvertent haven for bees.

        1. The Rev Kev

          It sounds like you are trying to replicate the farming methods of farms from a century ago with its underlying principal of sustainability. Lush pasturage that never needed irrigation, bee hives. Must annoy hell out of your neighbours when they see your place with you thinking about bringing in sheep because it is so lush.
          Kinda reminds me of a book that I have called “Wilding: The Return Of Nature To A British Farm” where a couple take a farm back to the landscape it use to be. In later years they had visitors/tourists and the middle-aged people would look at it and shake their heads as they recognized nothing. The people in their 80s, however, admonished them and would say that this in fact was what the countryside used to look like when they were growing up as kids.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Keep America Beautiful. Separate your plastics.

      Companies are making hundreds of billions a year marketing non-renewable, non-biodegradable, toxic, single-use crap, but the problem is we consumers just need to pull our socks up and make sure that stuff ends up in the correctly sorted landfill and then we’ll be sustainable. The article does a curtsy to climate change but doesn’t mention the depletion of the fossil fuels that support monocropping. Must keep the crises in their particular silos.

      1. Jean

        Whenever we order anything online we add this written comment:
        “Any product packaged in Styrofoam or unrecyclable plastic will be returned for a refund.”
        If no way to post the warning, we return the items with a note.

        When buying at retail, we open packages to check and if they contain the bads, we leave them at the register with a comment card.

  20. marym

    Wisconsin: GOP seeks to limit Wisconsin early voting, strip powers from Tony Evers and Josh Kaul in lame-duck session

    Republican lawmakers are seeking to limit voter turnout and want to take away key powers from the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general before GOP Gov. Scott Walker leaves office in January.

    Among other items:

    Legislators would gain the power to intervene in any litigation when a state law is challenged, and they would have the ability to appoint their own private attorneys …

    tweet thread with details including:

    … force the new Dem governor to implement the punitive Medicaid work requirements—and to get their approval, in law, for any changes to waivers on any federal program. This is a shattering rebuke of WI’s voters.

    Michigan: GOP moves to dilute power of governor, AG, secretary of state

    With Democrats set to take over top statewide offices next year, Michigan Republicans are considering proposals that would allow the Legislature to intervene in legal battles and shift oversight of the state’s campaign finance law to a new commission.

    North Carolina: Amid Fraud Allegations, State Election Board Won’t Certify North Carolina House Race

    Enough confusion has clouded a North Carolina congressional race that the state’s Board of Elections has announced a delay to certifying Republican Mark Harris’ electoral victory over Democrat Dan McCready in the state’s 9th district due to “claims of irregularities and fraudulent activities.”

    In a 7-2 vote on Friday, the board said it will instead hold a public hearing by Dec. 21 …It follows a unanimous vote earlier this week to postpone election certification results.

    In a letter sent to the board of elections, North Carolina’s Democratic Party made claims of wrongdoing. The Washington Post reported [Link] that the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement has already collected at least six sworn statements from voters in Bladen County alleging that people came to their doors and urged them to hand over their absentee ballots.

    Missouri: An Insult to Missouri

    Politicians try to undermine a constitutional amendment passed in a landslide this month.

    The voters of Missouri this month overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment with the aim of making their state government work in less partisan, less corrupt ways.

    Some 62 percent of Missourians voted for the amendment, known as Clean Missouri. And yet, in the three weeks since Election Day, top Republicans in Missouri have started a cynical effort to weaken the new law.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Can one sense the hand of ALEC in all this, maybe?

      How much longer will the Koch pair be alive, and is there a succession plan to keep their branding alive and killing the rest of us?

  21. ChrisAtRU

    Once again, this website delivers … ;-)

    Not just with the content, but with the link order!

    #DemocratsInDisarray section is pure bliss!

    #OMG – the opening paragraph of the RNN Obama article – what a doozy! Made me gasp audibly, not out of surprise, but the raw audacity of the truth.

    Not going to spoil it for those who haven’t read … ;-)

    Go Read Them All!

  22. Carolinian

    Excellent links today. Re The Club and the Mob about Rusbridger and the Guardian–this well written piece scores some points but also has its share of whiffs. Example:

    Sometimes the below the line comments responding to Guardian articles are constructive, useful, knowledgeable. Eliot Higgins started out as a punter posting in the comments section underneath Guardian articles about the Middle East; he now runs the investigative outfit Bellingcat, which has used analysis of social media to expose foreign arms supplies to Syrian rebels, track Russian intervention in Ukraine and identify the agents who spread nerve agent in Salisbury.

    Of course if sites like Moon of Alabama are to be believed then Bellingcat is the very essence of fake news. And that’s the problem. Traditional journalists such as the author saw and see themselves as high priests of “facts” with an elaborate infrastructure backing them up. Whereas the reality is that those traditional newspapers, living on high priced advertising, were always afraid of offending their source of income as well as the government sources that helped them fill the daily news hole. Bellingcat supports the program of the British establishment and therefore is reliable. Wild man Julian Assange–very anti establishment–is iffy.

    And so the internet stepped into the breach when he news business was already well on its way to decadence (when Chomsky wrote Manufacturing Consent the web was barely a blip). To be sure there are facts that need to be known and on uncontroversial topics traditional news still serves as the primary source. But the MSM has done a very poor job covering those topics like war or economics that are most dear to those in power. They then complain about their imminent demise and wonder why we are so indifferent.

    1. Christopher Dale Rogers


      I must say I was enjoying the LRB article focusing on Rusbridger and his time at The Guardian, however, the author lost me the moment he suggested Bellingcat was a reliable source of info with regards Middle East Affairs – suffice to say, the best sources of info are actual Embassy personnel and the actual locals themselves, a point of fact that seems lost on Bellingcat and his legion of warmongering supporters.

    2. pjay

      Yes. Even the good articles and authors in the MSM usually hit a wall beyond which critical observation fails. Acceptance of Bellingcat’s “analyses” or the larger anti-Russia narrative in general are common examples today. And as you say, mainstream news has always supported establishment and empire. It just took longer for the truth to trickle out through the propaganda field in the old days (as we oldies remember).

    3. The Rev Kev

      The modern media just seem to lose it at every opportunity. Saw one example where a well-known Russian journalist filmed his story outside the 77th Brigade in Berkshire which is the home to the UK’s secret cyberwarfare unit i.e. their internet propaganda unit. Next thing you know the British Army issued a top-level security alert for the UK and the media were reporting him as a spy and having a melt-down. Story at-

  23. Jason Boxman

    I recall much hysteria from the Democrat Party about losing seats in CA because of their unique primary system there. (Can’t run anyone _too_ Left!) Looks like that was much bloviating over nothing.

    1. Wukchumni

      Pretty much the only Republicans left are all here in the Central Valley Bible Belt, where the constituency does as it’s told, and Ag has a stranglehold.

  24. lyman alpha blob

    RE: The Path Back From Hell

    About halfway through the article the author enumerates some of the war crimes committed by the US and its allies in the last quarter century and immediately follows with this:

    None of this makes the United States an evil state—far from it…

    Words have meanings and yeah, actually it does make the US an evil state. There will be no path back from anywhere until this fact is acknowledged. Continue with the hubris and expect retribution.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing people he existed. The absence of a volcano lair and a supervillain laughing about foiling Superman is sufficient to not be evil for far too many people.

    2. pjay

      I had exactly the same reaction — a ‘WTF?’ moment in the middle of a good review article when I read this line! As I just said in a response to Carolinian above, even the good authors in the MSM seem to hit a wall beyond which their critical thinking skills disappear.

    3. DJG

      lyman alpha blob. Other assertions seemed even worse to me. And there’s this:

      And the third element is devolving responsibility to allies so that they are forced to invest more in their self-defense and acquire the wherewithal to thwart a challenger until U.S. forces arrive.

      You have to be kidding. Until U.S. forces arrive? Self-defense? Against the Palestinians? Against the Yemenis? Against the evil Iranians who are everywhere? The whole book review sounds like someone angling for a job in the State Department as a manageable contrarian viewpoint–not too contrarian because that might displease the Israelis or the Pakistani elites.

      The United States should declare victory and bring the troops home. I see no important strategic interests that require the U.S. to be drafted into Middle Eastern conflicts–and that includes Israel versus the Gaza Strip, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, or the Saudi Arabia + Emirati War Fantasia.

      1. Duck1

        So do they go to the world Bank or somethin’ for the wherewithal, simoleons don’t come cheap. Har, US forces arrive. Get your self bombed to shit by uncle sam.

  25. lyman alpha blob

    So the CIA has intercepted Saudi communications of MBS ordering a hit on Khashoggi. Since they’re so good at hoovering up all the conversations of foreign leaders, I’m sure they’ll be releasing the evidence of Trump’s collusion with the Russians any day now too….

    1. DJG

      lyman alpha blob: Along with hard evidence of Julian Assange’s criminality and the identity of Guccifer 2.0.

      And, oh, the contents of the still mysteriously “wiped” Clinton e-mail server. I am still waiting for all of those yoga e-mails, which are reputed to be even greater than Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

  26. timbers

    IMO, here is a perfect example of folks like Vlade, RabidGhandi, and others like Craig Murray who are very informative and helpful on technical aspects international law but sometimes end up missing the forest from the trees…


    Azov Again Craig Murray

    Craig Murray writes:

    However Russia did not have a right to detain the vessels or the crews, other than briefly. This is specifically not allowed. So at some point in Russia’s continued detention of the vessels and crews, Russia’s actions switched from legal to illegal. The timing of Trump’s decision to cancel the Putin meeting makes perfect sense in terms of the stage at which Russia went from being in the right in the incident, to being in the wrong. In taking prisoners to Moscow Russia is very, very definitely in the wrong.

    The situation is complicated by their being military personnel. Russia has to make a decision. If the claim is this was not innocent passage and the Ukrainians planned to attack the bridge, there is no legal option to treat that as terrorism. These were military ships and that would be war. Russia has either to accept that this was not an attack, or accept that it is in a state of war with Ukraine. You can’t treat military personnel from military vessels as terrorists. And Russia very definitely acted illegally in parading foreign military personnel to make statements on TV.

    IMO, Murry’s mistake is contained in the bolded part. He is basically saying to be “on the right side of law” Russia must declare war…which some think is exactly what the U.S. and Ukraine want her to do. Yet, given that it’s know some Ukrainians have called for blowing up the bridge, it’s reasonable for Russia to be cautious, especially with the co-ordinated world wide Western aggression being directed at her.

    So, Russia broke part of the law – to avoid declaring war and to protect her assets and citizens. She evaluated the situation and choose an “illegal” middle course and choose and “legally” choose to not declare war. I think that is a good decision.

    I wish the Untied States and Europe would do that at least every now and then.

  27. Cynthia

    Hearing that George HW Bush got his start in the oil industry reminds me of a 1940 “adventure” film I just finished watching today called “Boom Town,” starring Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Claudette Colbert, and Hedy Lamarr. Despite the film being a bit too cartoonish in style and execution and over glamorizes the work and daily life of “wildcatting” for oil, it’s well worth the watch for several reasons.

    First of all, it’s a rags-to-riches film that cycles around several times and ends happily with three of the principle characters back in rags. Very few film plots end this way, which makes it refreshingly unique.

    Secondly, Hedy Lamarr is brilliantly cast as an industrial espionage femme fatale, whose ultimate goal is to snatch “Big John” played by Clark Gable from “Betsy” played by Claudette Colbert. Watching Hedy Lamar on film one can easily understand why she is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful actresses of all time. Claudette Colbert is also perfectly cast as the Miss goody two-shoes, girl-next-door type who is most happy when she and her beau are struggling to make ends meet. To her and the two others characters played by Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy, living the highlife isn’t all that fun and enjoyable. What is fun and enjoyable to them is the struggle of getting there. Once they reach the top, all the fun and enjoyment is gone.

    Last but not least, the film portrays the court system at the time as being very hawkish when it comes to antitrust laws, something that the courts don’t seem to care much about these years. Unfortunately, antitrust laws have become almost obsolete in the eyes of today’s courts.

    1. Carolinian

      If never seen check out Colbert and Gable in It Happened One Night. One of the greats.

      Poppy Bush–from the wilds of Connecticut–not exactly a Gable figure though.

      1. Cynthia

        Yes, “It Happened One Night” (1934) is one of the greats. And after learning that it won 5 Academy Awards, which has only happened a couple of times in American film history, I can understand why. This is most ironic given that many well-known actors and actresses at the time turned down the script thinking that the storyline was too corny to ever do well in theaters, much less go on to win 5 Academy Awards.

        “It Happened One Night” pretty much set the pace for most romantic comedies made since then. Watch this film and you will see many elements of it in most romantic comedy films that proceed it. It helps that the great Frank Capra directed it. It also helps that it dodged the Hays Code bullet by a hair. If this film had succumbed to the Hays Code, I seriously doubt it would have gone on to become one of the best romantic comedies of all time.

    2. eg

      On the somnolence of anti-trust, see Tim Wu’s “The Curse of Bigness”

      The laws haven’t changed, just the enforcement has become enfeebled and toothless.

  28. consumerbehavior

    It took seven miles to pull over a Tesla with a seemingly asleep driver

    haha, awesome, on every level!

  29. Jean

    Remote medicine, “doctors licensed in the state where the ‘patient’ lives?
    Once the proles get used to this, then the doctors will be in India or China.

    Have health insurance premiums dropped where the remote docs are used?
    Will there be a huge discount in health insurance premiums when foreign doctors are foisted off on us?

    We are already getting cheery letters from Blue Shield inviting us to log in to their site and to sign up for remote consultation services. Nope, I demand to see a local doctor, refuse to press 1 for English, and I call them and have their employee explain the details of the explanation of benefits.
    (Unless of course they are willing to slash their premiums to use their website versus the present system.)

    Another tactic, before asking for my detailed attention which I know they are supposed to not provide for ‘efficiency’, I sympathize with whomever I am talking about what they are being paid versus the millions that their CEO, or that of the organization that they are billing or getting paid by gets. That acts as an ‘Open Sesame’ for cooperation at their end. Funny thing, not one person has ever argued with me about this. Use every interaction with people you deal with to drive home the financial inequality of the situation.

    1. Summer

      It may be eventually cheaper to go to the country of your foreign doctor for medical services. Lots of doctors are foreign anyway. Cut to the chase and go to where they are.
      That’s why I avoid those healthcare savings plans. You want your money available to be able to spend it anywhere on the planet for a medical service.

  30. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thanks for the post on the lack of representation of African nations and interests at the G20 from Project-Syndicate. Seems to me that the rapid population and economic growth trajectories of African cities suggest the G20 itself is gradually becoming an artifact of a vanishing global status quo. The question is what and who will replace the current global order, and who will emerge to drive those changes? After all, “Nature abhors a vacuum.”

  31. ewmayer

    Didn’t get around to reading [i]The Atlantic[/i]’s “2.4-Million-Year-Old Stone Tools Found in Algeria story until today — fascinating, but the logic behind a key claim by the lead researcher strikes me as bizarre:

    There are two ways of interpreting these dates, Sahnouni says. First, it’s possible that the same hominins who made the East African Oldowan tools 2.6 million years ago rapidly spread to the northwest, covering more than 3,000 miles in about 150,000 years. To Sahnouni, that seems unlikely. “It’s not like they just decided to get to the north and started walking,” he says. The intervening land “wasn’t easy to go through, and they would have had to look for food and resources. That takes time.”

    The explanation he favors is that early stone tools, and perhaps even the hominins who made them, evolved independently in different parts of Africa—in the east, northwest, and perhaps elsewhere. There’s other evidence for this. For example, the oldest known hominin is 7 million years old, and was found in Chad, about 1,900 miles west of the rich finds in East Africa. “That was a turning point in rethinking the origin of humans in only East Africa,” says Sahnouni, who is confident that work in other parts of Africa will upend the narrative even further.

    3,000 miles in 150,000 years may be ‘rapidly spread’ be geologic standards, but ‘unlikely’, really? That’s around 10,000 generations, i.e. – noting that of course people don’t diffuse in a regular way like this – the technology would need to advance north a mere half-kilometer each generation, on average. More realistically, since the Sahara as we know it today is a more recent phenomenon, you needed just a single determined group of prehumans to make the trek during that huge time period. That doesn’t strike me as unlikely.

    1. DJG

      j84ustin. It isn’t all that persuasive. I will believe it when U.S. academics and journalists start moving to El Salvador because of its excellent distribution of wealth, its famous stability, and a chance for them to earn lower wages.

      This doesn’t seem all that stirring to me (or to masses of U.S. citizens);
      So should the left be for “open borders”? Yes, we should. Frederick Douglass was correct: Migratory rights are fundamental. Not only should we oppose measures like E-Verify, but we should believe strongly that the world ought to have no borders in it, that in our “utopian society” people can move where they please without being stopped by militaries.

      They are fudging. Frederick Douglass wasn’t much more concerned with internal migration–getting blacks out of the American South. They are arguing for a system with no enforcement because of “wrong words” on some document that somehow then will lead to a utopia of equality. People aren’t being stopped by militaries: Trying moving to France. The government is going to be leery of an American and reluctant to give you papers. That’s what immigration is about. The militarization is part of U.S. history and the U.S. history of violence as the all-purpose problem solver.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      This: “Why not craft better labor policies and advocate for them to applied to all workers regardless of status? ”
      could end the entire acrimonious and gaslighted “debate”.
      mandate that immigrants get paid a living wage along with everybody else, and suddenly, they ain’t “driving down wages”, or “stealing ar jawbz”
      spotlight on the Wobblies, too…if Capital is borderless, actual Unions must be, too.
      I get the fear…I came up in the “food service industry”, and saw it first hand…but once you realise why these “illegal people” come here, it becomes a little difficult not to sympathise…and wonder if you might have done the same if Mexico had flooded the US with whatever analog of subsidised corporate corn(yeah,I keep coming back to NAFTA), or instituted repeated coups every time we started to get our shit together.

    3. Altandmain

      I read it and found it totally unpersuasive.

      For one, there is the matter that the Koch brothers have been pushing for open borders, and he doens’t really make a compelling case that opening borders would not result in further declines in the living standards of working class citizens.

      In fact, all he discusses in terms of wage loss is this:

      If the presence of undocumented laborers does depress wages, then surely this has something to do with their inability to secure the full benefit of labor protections due to their precarious status

      He doesn’t address how increasing the supply of labour without increasing aggregate demand in the economy would not lead to a drop in wages?

      I’m more convinced that the argument against low skill immigration is correct.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        I can see both sides..Nagle and Nathan…but we perhaps stray into an Is/Ought Problem.
        With Labor so whipped and powerless, we’re probably left with Nagle, for now.
        In my decades in kitchens, I’ve seen the powerlessness of immigrants used ruthlessly by the bosses….all while shrugging and saying, “that’s just how it is”.
        Many of those immigrants I have known were necessarily adept at bowing and scraping…and this pleased the bosses.
        I’ve fired many a boss for expecting the same of me.
        But from a moral standpoint, Nathan is in the right….the power relationship between the bosses and the undocumented weaken the other workers in their own power relationships with the bosses.
        either way…we’re left fighting for what will empower the Kochs further.

  32. How is it legal

    (Just accidentally posted this on the 11/30/18 Links page, versus this one, sorry)

    Re: The work-from-home doctor will see you now
    (And also regarding what people despise about the Fourth Estate – Journalists never report on any societal dangers until it’s at crisis level and too late to undo the damage )

    NO!. Horrifying.

    Let alone a personal preference never to handle medical affairs online, for a multitude of valid reasons, this is never a good sign:

    Doctor On Demand, founded in 2014 with funding from Google Ventures, Goldman Sachs and Andreessen Horowitz

    Neither is this Insurance Company and Self Insurance Love™:

    But Doctor On Demand’s inroads into the health care system — its medical visits are covered by major commercial insurance plans like UnitedHealth Group and Humana, and it contracts with a growing number of large self-insured employers that pay for some or all of the services for their workers — offers a glimpse into a local company that is riding the telemedicine boom. The firm, which is privately held, hit 1 million patient visits in May, leaders said, and is on track to hit 2 million next year.

    Next thing someone sick knows, they’ll be required to visit online first, even if they don’t own a computer, android, or iphone.

    Too bad the San Francisco Chronicle author was either edited from it, or didn’t ask, and go into more detail on issues such as these (not at all meant to be all inclusive, but I’m time limitied, and these jumped up quickly):

    ● That funding, and who really has ownership.

    ● Is it a Franchise System, like 7/11.

    ● What Electronic Medical Records™ Software[s] is/are used; and how that actually works, spread across various states, and physicians, disconnected from one another.

    Who might have access to that/those Electronic Medical Records™ Database[s] for Strictly Medical Data Research™ Gold Mining

    ● Who chooses and VETS the secure video-chatting application[s] noted, and why wasn’t the noted app named in the article.

    ● Doctor on Demand’s Founders, CEO, and how it came to be. This appears to be the same entity (with the SF Headquarters), highlighted in 2014 here: Dr. Phil’s Doctor On Demand Raises $21 Million As Telemedicine Heats Up

    Founded only eight months ago, Doctor On Demand has gained rapid visibility thanks to its founders, television personality Dr. Phil and his son Jay McGraw who produces The Doctors, a health talk show where viewers can submit questions to a small stable of doctors. The McGraws flog the service on their shows to millions of mostly young women who are not necessarily aware that the McGraws are stakeholders, since disclosure appears with the credit roll. (Rival Dr. Oz who’s an investor in health and wellness platform Sharecare also uses his show to publicize that start-up).

    Lovely website, at the top of the page: We’re offering $25 off medical visits to help make your holidays a little easier. Use code WINTER18. Offer ends 12/15

    (Interesting, no Wiki page, despite its major funders, revenues, and tons of Fourth Estate Hype.)

  33. KFritz

    Farmers’ Dilemma and Debt Jubilee

    There’s a strong connection between the sustainable vs mass agriculture dilemma and the debt jubliees of the ancient Near East, which were recently written up by Michael Hudson. Farmers need to borrow money at least as often as anyone else to do their work. Loan repayment and interest payment operate on a regular, relentless schedule. Agricultural work is relentless, but the results aren’t always regular–there’s almost no human endeavor in which the ‘whims’ of nature, ‘Her’ irregularity–affect outcomes/production as much. Hence the term, “lean years.” This pattern puts agricultural ‘yeoman’ at the mercy of money lenders. Debt jubilees recognize this ‘irregularity,’ and provide relief for farmers from the debt cycle. This institution protected the necessary core of farming yeomanry.

    Today, this sort of relief (obviously, with adjustments for our time and place) would allow farmers to adopt more sustainable practices, with less risk of financial ruin. Bring on the jubilees!

  34. Summer

    Re: Inside the GOP’s California nightmare

    Not hardly. The only nightmare they may be having is not being in control.
    Their economic ideas are hardly dead.
    And the Democrats would never let them die off.
    The GOP will rise again in Cali.

    1. tegnost

      oh yes they’re still alive, but right now the democrats are moving right into their territory, hopefully they will keep going and combine against the majority of the people who can then do something else

  35. allan

    Court Forces University of Arizona to Release Climate Scientists’ Traditionally Confidential Emails
    [Weather Underground]

    Science has suffered an unfortunate loss in a legal battle in Arizona, where the courts have ordered the public release of 13 years of email correspondence of two climate scientists who worked at the University of Arizona, Jonathan Overpeck and Malcolm Hughes. The plaintiff was a coal industry-funded group called Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal). The group is led by David Schnare, who has made a career of suing and harassing climate scientists by abusing the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and state open record laws to demand masses of scientists’ emails.

    E&E’s victory was obtained via State of Arizona open records laws. These laws, which allow taxpayers to request copies of government records, have been misused by anti-science groups to target scientific research….

    The emails provide an opportunity for hostile groups to take phrases, including scientific jargon, out of context in order to mislead and confuse the public, and divert time, energy, and resources of the scientists involved away from science. …

    E&E Legal, which has five aliases(!), is partly funded by the Koch brothers.
    Oddly, or not, the Koch-funded Mercatus Center at George Mason University,
    which is a public university of the Commonwealth of Virginia,
    claims that its emails are not subject to Commonwealth of Virginia open records laws.
    Transparency for thee and not for me.

  36. VietnamVet

    This could be the week. The UK splits apart. The French revolt. The USA shuts down. There are too many similarities. Incompetent governments failing. Simply put; the free movement of people, goods, services and capital is incompatible with democracy and the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. The top 20% are exploiting the hell out of the remaining 80%. If history is any guide, this will not stand for much longer.

    1. Altandmain

      They all have one thing in common.

      They have all lost their legitimacy, which is the moral right to rule. Legitimacy comes from delivering a high and improving standard of living. The elites in all nations see their citizens as things to asset strip.

  37. Norb

    Re- Mexico new president-

    Does anyone find it strange that the new leftist president has downplayed his security needs? Seems to me if anyone is attempting to “end rapacious elite” would need a pretty strong sense of self preservation and defense.

    It would be great if this sense of openness and lack of concern for personal security- 4 unarmed personal guards- is only the facade of a well planned security strategy with real power quietly working behind the scenes- but one wonders.

    As the elite double down at every turn, they have shown repeatedly that they have no intention of changing course. Winning elections is only step one on the long road to change. Keeping power will require strength in numbers and competency in using force if necessary.

    Using non-violence as a political tool does not make you a pacifist. Strength in numbers and the capability to uses force, if necessary, seems like it would bring the needed level of fear into the elite mind. It is long overdue.

    Any successful revolution requires the cooperation of the people, internal security forces, and the army. It is a battle for the soul of the nation.

    Leftist leaders have a history of getting themselves killed by their opposition. Sharing plans for not having this happen seems important. The left needs its own playbook to project strength.

    Building an effective power base is essential and that requires self-preservation and defense. An effective left has people power, but it also needs a highly trained and competent fighting force.

    I wish the new president well.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Security needs, like what? Just for example, we see an aggressive secret service and other protection assets today, but our last assassinated President was driving around in a public route announced for at least a month in an open air limo. Bill Clinton liked to shut down major transit centers, but he could have easily walked through and avoided a problem with minimal security. The issue is planning. A certain amount of advertising is important. I didn’t know I would meet the chair of the Homeland Security Committee at a Dunkin Donuts in New Hampshire, but there he was in the line in front of me. I had a nice with Joe Lieberman. We were in my home town. Despite the ire he has drawn, no one else recognized him.

      I remember Mark Warner was an ex-Governor at a Labor Day parade, and Tim Kaine was Governor, surrounded by state troopers and plain clothes security. Warner was running around going into people’s houses. Because it was a parade, there was security around, and of course, then Senator George Allen had security and was on his horse. This was a pretty right wing area. Plenty of guns.

      The other aspects are what is the celebrity status of the Mexican President versus the U.S. President. The U.S. President draws random nutters by virtue of the royalty status. Not announcing the schedule solves plenty of problems.

        1. g

          In the 80s Olaf Palme – Prime Minister of Sweden – felt secure enough to walk from his residence with his wife to view a movie and back without security. But the world had changed. He was assassinated in a professional hit – although at first a “lone gunman” was indicted and convicted but it was overturned.. the assassination has never been solved.
          DeGaulle had excellent security and a loyal doctor so he survived many professional attempts – even the CIA it is rumored. As did Castro where it is not rumor. .

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