Links 12/24/18

Wall Street Quietly Shelves Its Bitcoin Dreams Bloomberg

Bitcoin: a digital lottery ticket for a dystopian future? Kenneth Rogoff, Asia Times

Deutsche Bank cooperating in EU probe over bond price-fixing Handelsblatt Today

Why It’s Hard to Escape Amazon’s Long Reach Wired

Facebook has put growth ahead of governance for too long FT (DL).

People fall off cruise ships with alarming regularity. Can anything be done to stop it? Quartz


Withdrawing US Troops From Syria Is the Right Thing to Do—Even if Trump Does It The Nation

Notes On The Withdrawals Medium

President Ends the Mattis Era at the Pentagon Two Months Early Bloomberg (Re Silc).

Mattis Marks End of the Global War on Terror The American Conservative


Theresa May’s Christmas plea for UNITED Brexit front – ‘Time to put aside our differences’ Express

May cuts cabinet break short to rally Brexit deal support FT

Brexit: faith and confidence EU Referendum

Which way to the exit? LRB

Cornwall Pub-Hand Shortage Shows the Future of Work After Brexit Bloomberg

Cui Bono? David Leask, Ben Nimmo and the Attack on Ordinary Scottish Nationalists Craig Murray. Huh? Bono’s Irish.

Gatwick airport open but location of drones still up in the air ABC Australia

The Yellow Vests and the Left by Jim Kavanagh + Yellow Vests Shift to the Left Dandelion Salad


US, China cool trade tensions after phone call Asian Correspondent

John Bolton Says He Wants to Protect Africa from ‘Predatory’ Chinese Behavior. What About Washington’s? Foreign Policy in Focus

In Latin America, Big Brother China is watching you South China Morning Post

‘Like a cancer:’ Rio militias grow, control swaths of city AP

The Late Cycle Lament: The Dual Economy, Minsky Moments, and Other Concerns (PDF) Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. LLC (UserFriendly).

Trump Transition


Mnuchin calls US bank chiefs over market turmoil FT

The US is on the edge of the economic precipice – Trump may push it over Robert Reich, Guardian

* * *

Congress votes to make open government data the default in the United States E Pluribus Unum

Trump Administration Bans Bump Stocks, Says They’re Equal to Machine Guns Fortune

Why is FEMA is wasting our money? Miami Herald

Where do the investigations related to Trump stand? AP

A Supreme Court Divided. On the Right. NYT

Imperial Collapse Watch

What Comes After US Hegemony? The Diplomat

Democrats in Disarray

Which Side Are You On? Adolph Reed, Common Dreams. “I do believe, though, that the race-reductionist perspective—even in its ‘both/and’ variant—is, as Naschek and others argue, vulnerable to, if not actively aligned with the decidedly anti-Left Democratic tendencies associated with Clintonism.” Ouch. A response to Salazar’s TNR article on DSA and, since it’s Reed, worth a cup of coffee (more here).

Inside Bernie-world’s war on Beto O’Rourke NBC

The Political Insiders’ Guide to 2019 Politico. First up: Eight-time loser Robert Shrum.

What’s ‘Immoral’ About Caring for America’s Poor First? RealClearPolitics (Re Silc).

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

New Hampshire Police Arrested a Man for Being Mean to Them on the Internet ACLU (DK).

Stop Sending Regular Text Messages Gizmodo

Seamus Heaney: Poet & Teacher (interview) IthacaLit (DG).

Xmas Cheer

Why Is AI-Generated Music Still so Bad? Vice

Class Warfare

Tipping May Be the Norm, but Not for Hotel Housekeepers NYT

Structural Differential — A 32-Year-Old Man with Persistent Wrist Pain NEJM. It is true ergonomically-designed blueberry rakes reduce wrist pain in migrant workers. But as the author notes: “[M]any problems do not have as concrete a solution as a new rake.”

Can We Really Inherit Trauma? NYT

Past Global Flood Shows Antarctica’s Ice Is More Fragile Than We Thought Smithsonian

Brazil’s Amazon forest is in the crosshairs, as defenders step up National Geographic

More plants survived the world’s greatest mass extinction than thought Science News

For Climate Safety, Call in the Engineers Jeffrey Sachs, Project Syndicate

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Geo

    Why Is AI-Generated Music Still so Bad?

    To be fair, it’s not much worse than a lot of the “ holiday” music available in stock music sites like Premium Beat. Comparing any song to classics is a high bar. They should compare it to the valid crap filling the websites of commercial licensing sites where hundreds of terrible songs await unlimited global broadcast licensing for the bargain price of $29.95.

    And, who knows? Maybe the computer is trying to be different. They almost sound as if Yoko Ono ventured into Xmas themed music experimentation – but more listenable than anything she ever created.

      1. Summer

        It would be interesting to look at lawsuits over songwriting plagarism and discover how many are filed by actual artists and songwriters alive and active vs estates of songwriters (or non-songwriters that have managed to obtain the original songwriters copywrites).

        Musicians and songwriters were long accustomed to sharing and borrowing – music sharing and borrrowing was not invented by SillyCon Valley or the internet.

        Then when it comes to sampling, I’ve taken the position that the creators of the recordings being sampled were willing to share. Share being the key word. Just as they have been throughout the ages with covers. And sampling involves other rights such as mechanical rights (different from publishing and performance rights) – all of which are income generating.

      2. wilroncanada

        Geo et al:
        It all reminds me of the old? Bob Newhart skit…the one where 27 (or100) monkeys were enclosed in a room with the “scientist” insisting that they would eventually type the complete works of Shakespeare. The room monitor became excited when on typed “To be, or not to be, that is the gozerginflax”.

  2. Wukchumni

    The not ready for crime time players in the past have used xmas as subterfuge-to do Chuzzlewit shit when nobody’s watching, but Mnuchin’s moolah ruse is a different beast altogether. I mean to say, who expects much action on Wall*Street between now and post new years, that would cause things to come a cropper…

    …or am I underestimating the potential of an auld lang slide?

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Trust has been lost. It was lost over a decade ago, if not well before that. This prop is like putting a band-aid on a gaping wound.

    2. Ford Prefect

      Trump is in the White House stewing instead of Mar-a-Lago golfing and reveling. A lot can happen between now and New Year.

  3. Geo

    Regarding: “Which Side Are You On?”

    My favorite author, Jeanette Winterson, once retorted when an interviewer referred to her as a lesbian author, “I am not a lesbian author, I’m an author who happens to be a lesbian”. When one sets out to create with the objective of promoting their identity and its issues they tend to fail. This is why so many Christian movies are garbage, why conservative comedians tend to be terribly unfunny, and why identity politics shoots itself in the foot more often than it helps its cause. Their focus is on their own needs and didn’t address the wider audience so that audience isn’t invested in their message.

    Whereas, a filmmaker like Steve McQueen, a gay, black, British man, has created some of the most profound and impactful films of the last decade like “Hunger” about an IRA prison hunger strike, “Shame” about sexual addiction, and “12 Years a Slave”. None of those films were about his personal identity. He was able to channel his own identity as a marginalized person into stories of people who are similarly marginalized yet his identity wasn’t the message, the larger human experience was. His unique talent and personal experience allowed him to tell these stories in a new and impactful way.

    Similarly, the success of AOC is not because of her identity but the experience of her life as lived through her identity has given her a unique perspective that shapes her message and goals.

    As many have said before, identity didn’t make Margaret Thatcher more compassionate, doesn’t make Louis Farrakhan a noble leader.

    Our identities are essential to our own lives and how we experience them but they are not the end goal. The goal is to seek out a common bond between our identities, learn from each other’s experiences and perspectives, and to build from there.

    And, to paraphrase James Baldwin when discussing why the black civil rights movement wouldn’t join the anti war movement, “When the fire gets to hot our white allies can go home, we cannot. We live in the fire.”

    Allies can help but our own personal causes are not theirs. No one can be an ally to all causes all the time. Each will have their own primary focus so to succeed on a national scale they must find ways to fit their cause into a larger mission. MLK did that well. We could learn from his successes.

      1. Geo

        Thanks for the link! Will check it out.

        I have a lot of hope for her. Plus, she’s already so famous that it will be hard for her to sell out without people noticing and calling her out on it. Not that she seems like one who would, but checks and balances are always nice.

    1. Lee

      This wry observation from Jeanette Winterson has stayed with me for decades: “Everyone thinks their own situation the most tragic; I am no exception.”

      1. Geo

        So true. She is a fountain of wisdom. I’ve never gotten too excitable in my occasional celebrity encounters but the one time I totally fanboy’d out was at a book signing of hers. I literable has trouble speaking I was so nervous and overwhelmed. She’s truly an amazing human.

          1. jsn

            Yes, and taxes don’t pay for anything anyway (at least in the US). Cal2’s comment looks like pure class trolling to me.

                1. Cal2

                  “Oh god, please don’t let me be misunderstood!” To quote a song…

                  What I meant to say, and I guess people didn’t get, is that there’s a lot of palaver about how taxes are just, how taxes pay for civilization and the services we use, but every single person I know who talks that way has the best tax accountants and gets all the breaks they can with no shame.

                  Merry Christmas everyone!

                  1. Lambert Strether Post author

                    Not me! My tax accountant is H&R Block!

                    (And Federal taxes, again, don’t “pay for” civilization, since they don’t “pay for” anything, so the people with the best tax accountants are, as a class, wrong on the merits.)

    2. nick

      I’ll admit that in the general, reduced sense I’m sympathetic to Reed, but his piece here is just dumb when read in context of the issue at hand. There’s no faction opposed to universal programs or messaging, and really very little in the way of anti-identity posturing on the part of those Reed is defending. And that whole “align” argument is useless, applicable in almost every argument for/against any position.

      1. Big River Bandido

        There’s no faction opposed to universal programs or messaging

        The controlling faction of the Democrat Party is viciously opposed to single payer, and they have made their hatred of it quite clear, through many channels and methods. We can start with that contemptible candidate they ran two years ago, who said it “will never, ever come to pass”. It won’t if they have anything to say about it.

    3. DJG

      Geo: Thanks for your excellent post. Likewise Tony Kushner, whose Angels in America may be billed as a gay fantasia on national themes but is also very clearly told from Kushner’s point of view as a leftist / socialist. Likewise, the career of Pierpaolo Pasolini, which was more twisty, but still a valid leftist viewpoint that did not exclude.

      I am going to recommend Jim Kavanaugh’s article on the Gilets Jaunes / Yellow Vests, listed above by Lambert Strether, which makes many of the same points. It also is worth everyone’s time. Get yourself a plate of Christmas cookies, read Kavanaugh, and decide how Americans are going to break out of capitalism and religion as opiates of the people. Kavanaugh destroys the idea that the U.S. left has to filter everything through identity: Égalité means everyone in and no one left out.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Thank you for suggesting Kavanaugh’s article. I almost passed it by. From now on I’ll watch for his byline. I am interested in the yellow jacket movement but the situation in the US has grown so alien to me I feel I have little hope of understanding what is happening to Europe. I can’t help imagining how brutally a movement like the yellow jackets would be put down in the US.

        Besides looking past superficial analyses suggesting the yellow jackets are merely an ignorant response to Macron’s “ecotax” on gasoline I’ll remember the passages below from Kavanaugh the next time carbon tax or Cap-and-Trade or some other Market based “solution” to Climate Chaos comes up.

        “And, really, think about how utterly silly that [refers to Macron’s “ecotax”] would be. The premise is that the tax is a measure to stop catastrophic global warming. So: “We’re facing an apocalyptic disaster that will drown half the earth in a few decades. What should we do?” Answer: ‘Levy a tax.’ ” … “If you’re a serious political authority facing a global apocalypse—if the asteroid is heading for Earth—you don’t sit around trying to figure out: “What should we tax?” You decide what you have to do, and you do it, paying for it with your sovereign currency. If you have one.”

    4. Arizona Slim

      Say what you want about Barack Obama, but he did recognize that he had to run for president of all of the United States. And the people within.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Maybe, just maybe that was the BO fool the people strategy the first time, cynically pursued except as to guns-and-religion Deplorables. But the second run? I don’t think so. Unless one defines “all the people” as “all the really rich people.”

      2. Massinissa

        Too bad he ended up governing for the 1%, eh? Or if you’re being especially charitable, the 10%, but honestly I don’t think most of them benefited from the Obama presidency either.

    5. berit

      Geo. Thanks for wise words resonating across the Atlantic! Same issues here, anywhere I think, when activists and politicians of different stripes – social democrats too – lose their bearings and forget the most important issues, which is not just to be elected but why. We – the world – sure need many candidates like AOC.

  4. Amfortas the hippie

    on Adolph Reed:
    fta:”…This politics is open to the worst forms of opportunism, and it promises to be a major front on which neoliberal Democrats will attack the left, directly and indirectly, and these lines of attack stand out in combining red-baiting and race-baiting into a new, ostensibly progressive form of invective. Hillary Clinton’s infamous 2016 campaign swipe at Sanders that his call for breaking up big banks wouldn’t end racism was only one harbinger of things to come. Indeed, we should recall that it was followed hard upon by even more blunt attacks from prominent members of the black political class.”

    Reed(along with everyone else at BAR) is one of my favorites.
    And I have been in full agreement with him on this Identitarian mess since i first came across him.
    with this perversion of Cohambee, the Neolibs will undermine and accuse and confuse and redefine….and we’ll spend the next few years(and the energy currently welling up, unbidden) arguing and recriminating about this narrowness.
    I see it as another in a long line of examples of Orthodoxy versus Orthopraxis…asserting that Works don’t matter, and that we shall make windows into men’s souls to ensure that they Believe the Right Things.
    This is the essence of the worst part of religious belief, and will engender the same consequences…namely, intolerance and persecution and Inquisition.
    …which is, of course, exactly what the Machine needs to counter this nascent New New Dealism that somehow escaped the hidden room where it’s been kept all these years.
    I talk to anyone who will listen about these things(although, admittedly, that number has shrunk down again to it’s previous normal)
    in the current malaise, and creeping penury, Universalism is an easier sell than at any other moment in my lifetime.

    “Lo! I am weary of my wisdom, like the bee that hath gathered too much honey; I need hands outstretched to take it.
    I would fain bestow and distribute, until the wise have once more become joyous in their folly, and the poor happy in their riches.
    Therefore must I descend into the deep: as thou doest in the evening, when thou goest behind the sea, and givest light also to the nether-world, thou exuberant star!
    Like thee must I go down, as men say, to whom I shall descend.
    Bless me, then, thou tranquil eye, that canst behold even the greatest happiness without envy!
    Bless the cup that is about to overflow, that the water may flow golden out of it, and carry everywhere the reflection of thy bliss!
    Lo! This cup is again going to empty itself, and Zarathustra is again going to be a man.
    Thus began Zarathustra’s down-going.”

    1. Judith

      Reed’s discussion motivated me to re-read MLK’s spiritually moving Riverside Church speech, in which he makes the connections between US destructive imperialism, generally, but in Vietnam specifically, and US policies of racism and poverty at home. Interestingly, that speech was written at Pendle Hill, the Quaker retreat in Philadelphia.

      Reed and the people at BAR make more sense then most people I read these days. I think I came to know of them originally from Lambet’s links. (Thanks, Lambert.) Reed and the people at BAR don’t agree with everything that Bernie says (mostly foreign policy I think), but they know, based on Bernie’s words and actions over decades, that his values are grounded in the same place their values are. And it is a place to start the slow process of real change.

      And this may seem as an aside, but it is actually connected to the identitarian thread. I noticed that Patrick Lang at SST has suggested Tulsi Gabbard as Secretary of Defense, based on her values and experience.

      1. rps

        The way to do is to be—Lao-Tzu.
        To be is to do—Socrates.
        To do is to be—Jean-Paul Sartre.
        The way to be is to do.—Dale Carnegie,”
        Do be do be do—Frank Sinatra.
        Yabba dabba doo— Fred Flintstone

    2. DJG

      Amfortas: Thanks for this >

      I see it as another in a long line of examples of Orthodoxy versus Orthopraxis…asserting that Works don’t matter, and that we shall make windows into men’s souls to ensure that they Believe the Right Things.
      This is the essence of the worst part of religious belief, and will engender the same consequences…namely, intolerance and persecution and Inquisition.

      Only deeds, works, action matter. As much as I understand the power of words and revel in it, I hear too much crazy talk, silly talk, and stupid talk.

  5. Ook

    @Tipping May Be the Norm

    So the NY Times nags and shames their (presumably tipper-class) readers on the need to perpetuate and expand this custom, a form of institutionalized begging designed to reinforce the place of both tipper and tippee in society. Dealing with tipping is one of the nastier 3rd world aspects of visiting the United States.

    It’s so kind of the NY Times to helpfully link to a self-serving hotel publication, so that I know I’m expected to spend $40 a night for special services that aren’t so special. And nice to know that they consider having a room that isn’t filthy to be in that category.

    1. Wukchumni

      When I first visited NZ & Australia in 1981, the concept of no tipping whatsoever was a breath of fresh air to a Yank brought up on the idea that i’d always personally have a stake in my waitress or waiter’s well being, towards the end of a short fling with them, ending in us splitting up.

      Haven’t been to NZ in awhile, but tip jars made an appearance near the cashier earlier this century, and the Kiwis are catching on, I watched a waitress jam a quite visible $5 banknote in one, cutting bait.

      There was no expectation of ‘mandatory’ tipping though.

      1. Lee

        Having been fed, clothed and housed largely due to my mother’s tips, tipping for me is a moral imperative. Having worked as a union rep for restaurant workers, I recognize that workers having to depend on tips for their living is a travesty.

      2. Randy G

        @ Wukchumni

        About 20 years ago I was traveling through the Australian outback with a girlfriend who had spent much time laboring as a waitress. For her, NOT leaving a tip was the moral equivalent of feeding live screaming children to crocodiles for fun.

        We stopped at a sandwich shop, I think it was in Cobar NSW, and had a couple of inexpensive but pleasant sandwiches. The ‘waitress’ who brought us the sandwiches was probably in her early 20s. Upon finishing, I left a modest tip on the table — something like $2.

        As we walked back to our rental car, we were astonished to see the agitated girl chasing after us with the tip in hand. Chagrined, at first I thought she was chasing us down to toss the measly tip back into our faces.

        As it turned out, she thought we had left the money accidentally, and she was just returning it. When we explained we meant it as a “tip”, she was dumbfounded. With some effort we persuaded her to keep it, but she went away clearly a little unnerved by our bizarre behavior.

        1. Wukchumni

          On one trip to NZ for a few months in the early 80’s, I had a fair bit of luggage, and my taxi driver dutifully deposited it all in the trunk and then got it out for me upon arrival and I fished a few $’s out of my pocket and he was almost embarrassed or at least a little mortified @ the idea of taking my money, and finally after a little pleading from me, accepted a 20 Cent piece.

      3. ChristopherJ

        It’s called (half) living wage – around $20 per plus tips plus penalty rates. And you need that and more to afford to live here, believe me.

        How on earth the US waitstaff have not agitated to get paid same as everyone else? Love to know how this came about?

        Oh Merry Christmas to NC writers and readers

      4. lordkoos

        After living in Seattle for years, where a 15% tip plus a 10% sales tax adds 25% to the cost of every restaurant meal, it was surreal to eat in Beijing restaurants were tipping doesn’t happen. The price on the menu was the actual price you paid at the end of the meal! What a concept.

    2. Eureka Springs

      I don’t get your reasoning. Tipper = customer, Tipee = server/laborer. I don’t see how one changes that dynamic for there will always be both. A portion of compensation on direct merit without middle entities is often a good thing for both sides.

      Just how much do waiters and bus-persons earn in first world countries?

      That said, current and former service personnel are generally the best tippers. But there are a lot of us. I once was the sole bar-tender for the Pope and his entourage. Big drinkers, a lot of work, nary a dime in gratuity.

      Meanwhile if you can’t afford 20 percent more than the menu and taxes, don’t drink or dine out.

      1. Wukchumni

        The example I gave of going to a restaurant in NZ, paying for your meal, and off you go, not leaving a tip.

        In the USA, that move-or the leaving of 1 Cent, is our way of saying, that service sucked so bad, and i’m mad.

        Now, you might wonder if the servers in NZ, having no incentive @ the finale, might be inattentive or not come through in some way or fashion, but I seldom saw that.

      2. Richard

        Tipping is a bs way to get people the income they need to live, demeaning and undependable. People from non-tipping countries know this and notice right away how widespread the expectation is in the u.s.. That they point this out for us is a good thing and god bless. But what they often fail to acknowledge is that tips represent neccessary income for ordinary working people, so regardless of how we feel about them, it’s never fair to withhold them, and if you’re in a position to be generous, you should do so, to make up for the inevitable customers who don’t tip.
        I hate the go fund me approach to funding basic needs, and tipping is certainly the granddaddy of all go fund me approaches. Dishonesty about the true costs of things is one example of hucksterism (thanks for the article yesterday, Lambert!). My meal doesn’t cost $20, plus some smaller percentage that I may decide to follow through on or not depending on my mood, experience, class prejudices. The people who try to tell me that are lying hucksters, hiding the true cost to boost sales. My meal costs $25.
        I agree with ook, that the tone of the NYT article is nagging and shaming. It is the default tone of liberals in their “too busy/ grown-up to critique the system” moods.

      3. tongorad

        Meanwhile if you can’t afford 20 percent more than the menu and taxes, don’t drink or dine out.

        Or, if you can’t operate a business without stealing worker’s wages…
        As a customer, why should I be expected to subsidize a business owner’s labor costs/profits?

      4. ambrit

        Ex-French Quarter waiter and busboy here.
        Tipping is definitely correlated to the character of the customer. As such, why should the customer be tasked with making up the deficiencies in wage attributable to the restaurant proprietor class?
        There is a definite maladaptive dynamic going on here. The establishment must provide good food and drink, along with good service, to reach optimal revenue. People go back to a ‘good’ place, and not to a ‘bad’ place. By skimping on the service aspect of the equation, the establishment threatens it’s own level of returns. So, it behooves an establishment to treat it’s employees well. Greed gets in the way however.
        Tipping assumes that the servant is working for the customer, when, from my experience, this is only partly true. The establishment ‘floor boss’ is always telling the staff to do things to increase revenue, for the place. Push drinks, ‘suggest’ more expensive dishes, stroke the customers ego, etc. (In the Quarter, ‘stroking’ went far beyond the ego. Some waiters were known to be available for “private parties.” I once turned down such a suggestion from a well known surgeon.) There was also the phenomenon of ‘splitting’ tips. The waiter would ‘split’ part of his or her take with the busboy, or girl. In my day, this was 15%. This was worth it. A good busboy could save an ‘impossible’ situation for you. The ‘Captain’ who assigned tables and customers would also demand 10%. this was not worth it. There are only so many high rollers available, and, curiously enough, said high rollers would always end up with the same clique of waiters. So, what was the use of splitting off that extra 10%? The difference between working and not working. Smart waiters, as I learned early on, also ‘split’ something off to the kitchen staff. Several places I worked at had a general tip jar set up just inside the swinging doors between the dining room and the kitchen. This can also save your hide in a tight spot. Say, if someone has special dietary needs. I once had a customer, and an important one, who tells me, sotto voice, that he was vegetarian, and did we have anything good in that line? This place was a classic beef and seafood menu place. “I’ll ask the chef,” I said. Chef thought for a minute, looked at me hard for a minute, and turned to his side dish woman and asked, “What we got for a gourmet veggie?” “I can whip up something with asparagus and truffles,” she replies, “take me about ten minutes.” This dish went over well with the customer. Everyone was happy, I thought. Later on, after closing, the Captain comes over to me, and in front of everyone starts yelling at me. “You a–hole! I told you to push the steaks! Who the f— do you think you are?” He was so coked up by that time, I knew there was no arguing with him. I eventually learned that the party had left a bigger than usual tip for me, due to the vegetarian issue, I assume. I never got that money. The ‘Captain’ took it, as revenge. When I complained to upper management, I was literally laughed at. So, I did the only thing I could, I left. No one cared.
        The lesson of this digression down memory lane? Character is paramount. Work on your own first. Then your children’s. Then learn to accurately judge the character of others and tailor your interactions with these ‘others’ accordingly. Finally, never stop working on yourself, because we are never ‘finished.’
        Well, I find that I’ve waxed poetic and prolix. Sorry for the rant.

          1. ambrit

            A big Happy Holidays to you and yours Brooklyn Bridge.
            It’s like the Rodney Dangerfield joke. “I asked a cab driver to take me to where the action was. He drove me to my house!”
            That’s where it’s at, fer sure.

          1. ambrit

            Likewise ChristopherJ. That’s what a good Commenteriat does, without obvious ‘agendas’ or ‘programs.’
            Merry Christmas!

      5. Cal2

        You should tip when the person does you a special service, above and beyond their normal job. This is economical as well. Some hotels in L.A. charge $20 a night for parking, no in and out privileges. Hand the lot attendant $10 and point out your car and you’ll get their attention, admiration and some money saving privileges as they wave you by.

        Now that we Americans are being screwed over like South Americans, it’s time for some South American style corruption against the money-machers.

      6. bob

        ” I once was the sole bar-tender for the Pope and his entourage. Big drinkers, a lot of work, nary a dime in gratuity.”

        More on that please. What did they drink? What did they say? Why so much work? Did they take any go cups?

        A lot of the people who seem to have trouble tipping are the same people who brag about traveling to other places to learn about culture and customs.

        Get with the program. Tip well and tip often.

        1. shinola

          “Tip well and tip often”

          Yes! And tip in cash whenever possible – even if you pay the actual tab on a card.

          Full disclosure: my wife was a waitress for many years.

          1. witters

            And if you can’t “tip well and often” then don’t eat out. That follows, right? Be deplorable to try it.

          2. Amfortas the hippie

            ive spent a lot of my life in kitchens…and I always tip. Even the rudest, meanest wait person gets at least a dollar.
            this is not only solidarity for my former profession,and the working class in general, but self- protection.
            people who don’t tip well or at all—like my dad—often consume “something extra”. make that a double if said customer is a dick.
            I never allowed this in kitchens where i had a say(having perhaps a stronger moral sense than many of my coworkers)…but it happens. revenge of the powerless…one step up from sticking pins in a carrot.
            in the bigger corporate kitchens i’ve worked in(hated those. give me mom and pop), such revenge was also extended to management, if deemed necessary.
            be nice to the people who work for you, at whatever remove.
            cuts down on snot intake…and it’s the right thing to do.

            1. Yves Smith

              I tipped in Australia, both cabs and in restaurants, even though it was not a cultural norm. In Australia, if you are the only passenger, you are expected to sit in the front, next to the driver. Otherwise, you are saying he is a servant, which is not on down there.

              I had one driver take offense at the tip, seeing it as saying he was a menial. But otherwise, they were pleasantly surprised.

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                that’s an interesting anomaly(if it is an anomaly…someone said one doesn’t tip in China?)
                I can only speak to mexico canada and the former confederacy….and honduras for 24 hours.
                I’ve always seen the practice as both good and bad. some wait people I’ve known made damned good money…but it really depends on where, and other variables.
                the servanthood aspect is always there, of course…and customers sometimes lord it over the waitress…i think sometimes because they perceive their own relative powerlessness, resent it, and grab whatever little bit they can…like badgering the waitress, or otherwise being jerks.
                …as in bullied becomes bully/abused becomes abuser…
                i wonder if that etiology plays out differently in non-tipping cultures…it sure fits well with the authoritarian, heirarchical boss-servant relationships that seem written into american dna, at times.
                (I will note that the incidence of ass grabbing waitresses looks to be a lot less common than when I started in kitchens, mid-80’s, so there is improvement to be found, here and there)
                Merry Christmas, Yves.

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  > the servanthood aspect is always there

                  I’m too lazy to find the link, but one of the early restaurants “go tipless” (successfully, I might add) polled its customers, and about 30% of them wanted (paraphrasing the question) the master/servant relationship to remain in place. They liked the exercise of power.

                  My case is a little different because in Maine I don’t have a lot of restaurant choices and so by definition I am a regular. I learned to eat and Montréal and I expect a French level and style of service. I don’t want to know my server’s name, because why fake a personal relationship, I want a kuroko‘s degree of unobtrusiveness, and I don’t want to be asked how my food was because (a) I wouldn’t be eating here if I expected it to be bad, and (b) if it is bad I will let you know! Please let me eat and read in peace

                  So I am a crotchety old codger. I explain my requirements and pay for them, and regard it as training them up :-) I’m also ameliorating the master/servant relation because I’m removing a requirement for emotional labor.

                  When I visit Thailand, tipping is not prevalent. I tip cab drivers generously, because they are underpaid, to raise the curve a little for foreigners generally, and because if I had to make my living by sitting in traffic all day I’d probably have stroked out by now.

                  I had no idea this topic would be so controversial!

                  1. Amfortas the hippie

                    there’s yer american gelets jaunes, right there…lurking by the buscart.
                    when I see this minor kerfuffel(and it pops up every now and again), i think it’s because there is a perception that food service(and perhaps service in general) is easy…even unimportant. “not a real job”.
                    But like in that article on the Humanities, eating and drinking together is a pretty important beam holding up the floor of civilisation…and the people who work there…are like grains and fibers in the wood.

                  2. Wukchumni

                    Baksheesh to the future!

                    Tipping has such odd customs all over the world, it’s common to see somebody in a restroom in parts of Europe, angling for tips by offering towels or something, but you seldom see that here.

                    1. ambrit

                      That depends on what bathrooms you frequent.
                      De Sade’s description of the attendants at the bathroom at an orgy, and their functions, is representative of the Neoliberal concept of a servant class.

                    2. JTMcPhee

                      I guess you have not had much time in fancy hotels and places like the Union League Club (den of neoliberal looters). I haven’t been in such places since I stopped lawyering in the late 90’s, so can’t report current practices, but back then, most had long-serving mopes (albeit with apparent dignity) providing towels and other obsequious small house slave services for tips.

                      Are there still “porters” on railroad trains? of “lives in service,” usually by people of color. Former slaves. More here:

                      I wonder what tales so many of them could tell, of the nature of the tiffs and oligarchs they catered to. If fear and loyalty and dignity did not seal their lips unto death.

      7. Ook

        “Meanwhile if you can’t afford 20 percent more than the menu and taxes, don’t drink or dine out.”

        Nobody is saying they can’t afford it. This is a straw man argument. What we’re saying is it’s a horrible nasty custom, demeaning to the waiter, a sign of a third world country.
        We should be able to go into restaurants and pay the bill without the ubiquitous “by the way, if you don’t want the waiter to starve to death you might want to toss him a few pennies.”

        1. JBird4049

          Unfortunately, having lived on tips I can say that they were often the difference between eating or not. I was mighty appreciative when I got tipped. And unfortunately there are still some Americans still living on effectively ~3 or 5 per hour especially in a few Southern states on the premise that tips will make up the slack or that the manager will supposedly as mandated by the law, which is often ignored. It is awful but it is life.

        2. Eureka Springs

          Nothing straw man about it. Walk a mile in any servers shoes and you will learn quickly.

          Ambrit was correct about character.

          Customers pay the price of labor all the time. Why paying by tipping rather than being baked into the tab seems less demeaning I still do not understand. If a person shopping at wal-mart pays for labor at the cash register, does the suffering of low paid employees make you feel less responsible? Do you not understand that the more middle men you have the more grift will be involved?

          I did a quick search and found one web site which lists wait staff pay by country. If this is accurate. I was not impressed with the pay in countries which do not tip. Not impressed at all.

          1. a different chris

            Hold on. I go to a restaurant. Now I figure the menu is a combo of the owner(s) and the head chef, if it’s not a chain which it isn’t. Because I am there!

            Anyway – so somebody, a very nice somebody, comes and takes my order and brings me food. Ok, somebody else cooks the food. A third person washes the dishes. There is the somehow both ubiquitous and invisible busboy. I believe even family-run restaurants generally outsource the cleaning people.

            So who the family blog does my 20% – at least, I tip heavily- go to? Is it proportioned out? Ambrit’s story above shows me that it can be withheld entirely in… some situations? If cash some can probably also be hidden from the “back” or whatever you call it by the waiter/waitress stuffing it into a pocket.

            In any case, how did I “pay the price of labor”? I gave money to one person, but a number of them were involved. And I have no idea what actually happened to that money.

            Yeah, Universal Health Care and living wages with no tipping. *That* would make a significant difference to my life, and I have OK healthcare and don’t work a tipped job.

    3. Off The Street

      Since you mention hotels, take a look at so-called Resort Fees, another shakedown. Look at the list of extras promoted by those unscrupulous operators and then ask what makes each or any of the items different from a hotel. As one small example, if they want to include a daily newspaper in that list, then they should have copies available.

      The operators, among others, turned the cafeteria pricing model on its head and said that to get into that café you had to pay the cover charge. Too bad that the ‘food’ is still lackluster. That does not seem to be a sustainable business model except for customers with no memory.

      1. JTMcPhee

        As to that lackluster “food:” Maybe rooted in crapification? As to that “inversion of the cafeteria pricing model being turned on its head,” could it have something to do with “customers” whose expectations have been “managed down,” via application of Bernays sauce?

        Maybe there’s so much to say about this because there’s sufficient and complaining people, who fortuitously “have more than enough” that they can “patronize” (a word with several meanings) those places where “servers” struggle to gain a living through “exceptional service” and fawning attention to said “patrons” (also a word with several meanings.)

        “I’m WORTH all that special attention, because I can AFFORD it!”

        And one wonders why “inequality” as a general policy has such sticking power…

    4. Craig H.

      Reservoir Dogs: Mr Pink explains why he doesn’t tip waitresses.

      It’s been a while since I read how some celebrity or other is a crappy tipper. I think the last one I read that about more than once is Tiger Woods. Do the tabloids still report that stuff? Is it common knowledge whether Lady Gaga is or is not a good tip?

      (The National Enquirer and People magazine report that Tiger is a crappy tipper. Also he cheated on his wife. No doubt the two facts are related beside being none of my business.)

      1. ambrit

        What is reaslly funy here is that the National Enquirer, People, etc. are trying to make the public think that these personal quirks are important to anyone other than the people directly involved.
        Meanwhile, back at the ranch…..

        1. Wukchumni

          I would find it really intimidating to be an individual that hundreds of millions of people knew in intimate detail, and yet I knew nothing of any of their lives.

          1. ambrit

            Agreed, as far as reasonably sane persons, such as, I presume, you and I and the commenteriat in general.
            I’ve met lots of people with narcissist personalities, whether by nature or nurture does not matter. Such people love the idea of being ‘America’s Sweethearts.’ In such a situation, ‘intimate detail’ loses meaning. Intimacy itself is not within their skills set.
            Merry Christmas Wukchumni.

              1. ambrit

                I’m so glad Santa got taken off of the ‘No Fly List!’
                Imagine all the unhappy children! Think of the children!
                Imagine having a Sequoia for a Christmas Tree!

                1. Wukchumni

                  Imagine having a Sequoia for a Christmas Tree!

                  Wouldn’t be much to decorate on a Sequoia, as all you have is it’s trunk for 30 feet until the first branch shows up. In the East Fork grove, I noticed no low limbs below 70 feet on most middle-aged denizens only a little ways into four figures.

                  It was the practice of early pre-auto visitors to the vowel-rich trees, to pin notes with their name on the more notable ones, and pictures i’ve seen have a few dozen small notes pinned around the visible trunk.

      2. Geo

        Years ago I worked as a waiter at a hip restaurant in Soho (NYC). The owners often comped celeb meals to encourage them to keep coming back. It was frustrating on two levels:
        1. As an employee I merely got a small discount on meals when there for work. No discount if I ate there in a day off.
        2. Because their meals were free the celebs didn’t know what to tip. Often times they’d leave about $20 for what had been a $500 meal. Sometimes they wouldn’t tip at all. When one of us would get a celeb table the other waiters would offer their condolences because we all knew that meant lots of work for no pay.

        That said, Quentin Tarantino is actually a very good tipper despite what he wrote in Reservoir Dogs. :)

        1. bronco

          that raises another aspect of tipping. Does a $10 cheeseburger deserve twice the tip of a $5 cheeseburger? What sense does it make to base it off of the bill?

          Like the bill is $1000 for 2 people but $900 of it is a fancy bottle of champagne , over on the other side a $1000 tab for a party of 12 both servers get the same exact tip ? Idiocy when the all food table has 6 times the work to do. On the other hand those that spend 900 on one bottle are usually a-holes so maybe its a wash

      3. Yves Smith

        I do not know about how Lady Gaga tips, but this from an FT interview of her by Stephen Fry:

        You get a strong sense of the character and behaviour of a great star by smelling the mood of those around them. The assistants who popped in from time to time to apologise for the late-running of the afternoon (she was busy doing back-to-back TV interviews in another suite) all seemed relaxed, cheerful and unforced in their manner. They certainly didn’t have the cowed look of crushed hirelings fresh from a verbal bitch-slapping who were attempting to prepare me for sulky moods and obstreperous huffiness….

        Now that we were alone, I thought it best to begin with a rumour that I had heard from the hotel staff earlier.

        “I gather that last night you sent out some drinks to all the fans gathered outside?”

        “Well actually, I sent them hot chocolate yesterday, and macaroons, and then today I had press all day and I felt a bit bad because I wouldn’t have much of a chance to go down and say hello. But I did manage to go down and brought them some fresh cookies and flowers.”

    5. DJG

      Ook: Yes, the U.S. tipping economy is a racket, designed mainly to resolve employers’ personnel and wage+hours problems. It should be eliminated. Let our supposedly ultra-talented do something, like pay people, for a change.

      Meanwhile, though, if I were you, I wouldn’t fight the battle of tipping over hotel housekeepers. Maybe they don’t deserve $40 a night–a figure that I’ve never heard of–but the housekeeper is often the only person paying attention at a guest, especially at these bigger, pseudo-luxurious piles of point-of-sale charges (don’t touch that bottle of macadamia nuts strategically placed!).

      I always leave something. At my favorite little hotel in Philadelphia, I know that the guys at the desk are keeping an eye on me, but the housekeepers there are truly watching over me. And recently on a business trip to Colorado, I could tell that the housekeepers at a fairly modest LaQuinta were keeping an eye on me. Housekeepers are often the only ones who can and are willing to solve problems. The front desk is usually mainly concerned with trying to gain access to one’s credit card.

      I’d gladly pay more at restaurants and cafés to get rid of tipping, following the Northern Italian no-tipping model.

      And bellhops and doormen are a pain in the butt to avoid and to tip: Their job is to carry a bag from point A to point B.

      But hotel housekeepers, who are almost all women? Unsung heroes.

      1. bronco

        If you never worked in a hotel you might not know the cleaners dont always get the tips. At a local Best Western I know of one of the day maintenance people sometimes is tasked with helping strip rooms that people check out of. Any room he strips , he steals the tip from the cleaners. They can’t prevent it or he won’t help at all. He is hourly and resents being asked to do work outside of his supposed job description.

        So if someone was there 5 days and left a $30 tip on the last day when he strips the bed he takes the $30 which was for all 5 days. Half the cleaners are illegals so they don’t say anything when it happens to them although one did flatten all 4 of his tires once and that started a whole thing that got her fired. the level of solidarity lets say is very low.

        1. Arthur Dent

          I understand waiters and waitresses getting tipped because their entire pay scale has historically been structured that way, even with different minimum wages.

          However, I have been utterly baffled by the recent hints at some hotels that I leave tips for the room cleaning staff that I never see (usually arrive at 10-11 pm and leave by 8 am). This appears to be a simple relic of having a far too low minimum wage.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            In Texas…$2.13 per hour for tipped employees:

            it’s been essentially the same for as long as i can remember, though I hear tell that more is often offered, here and there.
            I was a cook…then a chef(owned my own place, so had earned the hat)…and the most i remember making was $15…25 years ago in Austin(had I been out here then, making that, I would have felt rather well off….)
            Throughout my career, I always considered it my right and just compensation that, as the person who prepared the food, and was thus responsible for it, that I eat for free, dammit…one of the reasons I preferred mom and pop outfits.
            I would always endeavor to slide mistaken plates and such to the waitstaff.
            Of course, I also endeavored to make it plain that I was indispensable(I was 3-4 people in the kitchen, and the calm center of the storm)…so i was usually allowed these indulgences, within reason.
            It’s a hard old world, sometimes.
            Pry at the cracks.

    6. Procopius

      3d World??? Tipping is not a custom in Thailand, which, admittedly, is no longer 3d World. Only tourists leave tips and only foreign owners of restaurants and bars pay so little that the workers need the tips.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Withdrawing US Troops From Syria Is the Right Thing to Do—Even if Trump Does It”

    Weird, isn’t it. A President can launch a war against another country and the Congress bails on its responsibility and says nothing. Trump signs an order to end a war and suddenly you have people like Lindsay Graham saying “I want a hearing. I want oversight” and “…he can’t be immune from oversight”. The time for that was when a President starts a war – not end one.
    People forget something else. Those troops in Syria are under Trump’s command and he is entitled to give them orders. He is the Commander in Chief which puts him in direct line of command to them. A SecDef like Mattis, though he has authority, is actually an assistant to the President and is NOT in the line of command. If Mattis could not cope with this idea, then he should have never taken the job. That letter he published was the sign of a political hack – not the action of an old soldier.
    The long and the short of it is that the US military is in Syria to keep the war going. Without them, the al-Tanf pocket would just be a border post. Idlib would have been cleared of all those Jihadists, and the area to the east of the Euphrates would be back under the control of the people that actually live there. The Syrian Kurds would have negotiated a settlement with Damascus and both together would have forced the Turks out of Syria. Of course none of this happened which is why so many want to keep it going. It is a military principal that if you try to defend everywhere, you defend nowhere. Those troops in Syria are just defending a place that they have no business doing so. Maybe Trump somehow divined this. If so, kudos to him on this one.

    1. Dirk77

      +1 And +1 to the American Conservative article on the same subject. I mean as long as Trump doesn’t use this to go after Iran with Turkey.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          So far we’ve seen Trump at war with the CIA and FBI, and now at war with the Pentagon. I’d call the CIA/FBI war a truce for now, but firing Mad Dog was an excellent move and he could very well get (an) upper hand on the Pentagon. Last to the party will be The Left, who apparently are all in for Permanent War these days. The pics of Michele cuddling war criminal GW Bush were very telling, as Caitlin said that’s not cuddly or unifying or cute, that’s straight-up war propaganda to normalize illegal Bush era warstarting.
          Rand Paul cited Lindsey Graham, they discussed some major policy issues and Lindsey said “it’s just a sign of end times”. How terrifying is it to have a major War/Peace power broker like Graham be so completely detached from objective reality? Add in Mike Pence (who is a staunch Dominionist) and you have a terrifying mix of zealots and crazy-think types holding our lives in the balance.

          1. jsn

            Going after the Fed for rate hikes, which Trump has been doing lately, is also pretty interesting and may represent a new conservative attack on what now passes for “liberal finance” (finance that it liberal to financiers with everyone else’s income and assets).

            1. bronco

              he has a point though with the fed. I’m in favor of raising rates to a higher level but on the way down the fed made the president look good by dropping them to zero in 1 step and leaving them there for years. Now that whole interest rate deficit apparently has to be made up in the way that coincidentally hurts the president the establishment loathes most in the shortest time possible.

              Is that just a coincidence ?

    2. William Beyer

      The Congress refused Obama’s request to authorize the use of U.S. troops in Syria, so, how did they get there? Stephen Gowans book,

      Washington’s Long War on Syria

      , tells the story of decades of U.S. efforts to destroy Alawite rule of this defiantly Socialist state.

    3. RUKidding

      I supposed Lindsay Graham got a sternly worded email from some of his Plutocrat patrons adjuring him to “do something about” the removal of troops from Syria. After all, that cuts off someone’s big fat ole GRIFT. That’s a true WAR on Christmas, that is.

      Now that Sainted Big MacCain is out of the picture, it’s up to Graham to take up the War, Inc. cudgel.

  7. rd

    “Americans are already maxed out caring for our own needy, including the homeless sprawled on city streets. This nation has 40 million in poverty, 1 out of every 8 people and 1 out of every 6 children. That’s far higher than in Canada or Great Britain.”

    This combination of sentences makes no sense. How can the US be maxed out if we have far higher percentages of poor than Canada and Great Britain? That just means we aren’t even trying.

    Of course, to recognize we are not maxed out would be to acknowledge the great neo-liberal fallacy of trickle-down economics and recognizing that people of other races are humans too. Neither of these are likely to be official US policies soon.

    1. jrs

      As for 5 billion, wouldn’t poor people just be better off we just split up the 5 billion and cut them checks from it? That’s not a long term solution. Of course not. But every little bit of short term matters for the time being if it allows you to pay rent another month etc.. And a wall really doesn’t matter.

      “For the same reason, Trump is also proposing that only immigrants who can support themselves without government handouts be granted green cards and permanent status”

      uh I’m sorry if the concern is immigrants taking our jawbs, isn’t that precisely the immigrants that will? So shouldn’t that be the immigrants people concerned about their employment should be worried about?

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Where do the investigations related to Trump stand?”

    Well of course Trump is guilty of Russian collusion. Otherwise the past two years have been nothing but deliberate bs. We all remember the time that Trump gave twenty percent of the United States’s uranium to Russia for a quid pro quo exchange for Trump Foundation donations, don’t we? Now that is provable corruption right there. What? Say again? It was who? Oh, doesn’t matter. Trump is bad, m’kay?
    Anyway, late here local time and the jolly old fellow in red comes tomorrow so best wishes to Yves, Lambert and all the crew at NC as well as all commentators-

      1. Epynonymous

        I hear an element of that ‘investigation’, now a trial, has gone to the Supreme Court… Aren’t they Republican now? ‘Bush V Gore’ or was it ‘Gore V Bush’?


        Keep laughing, dear friends.

    1. Lee

      Thanks for the photos.

      Is Christmas in July a thing in Australia? In an episode of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, this was the case. A group of rich people gather at a lodge in the snowy mountains, do up a tree, exchange gifts, etc., and then [spoiler alert] someone gets murdered.

      Do Australian expats in the northern hemisphere have a nostalgic longing for Christmas during our summers?

      1. bronco

        Is this a good show? I keep getting suggestions that since I like midsummer murders i should watch mrs fisher

        1. RUKidding

          I love Phryne Fisher and recommend the Mystery series. It’s well acted; costuming is great; and gives a bit of a flavor of Aus during that time period.

        2. Lee

          I recommend it. It is more archly humorous than MM, and more spicy. The main character is a liberated woman in 1920s Australia. I’ve been enjoying a number of series produced in Australia, mostly on Acorn TV. There is also Brokenwood out of New Zealand. I watch mysteries pretty much exclusively of late. As Raymond Chandler put it we “escape the deadly rhythm of my own thoughts” through depictions of others’ the dark deeds. Also worth checking out is the MHz network for European productions.

          1. Enquiring Mind

            Another NZ show for fun is 800 Words, where an Oz family decamps and hilarity ensues. At times, subtitles may come in handy for the more accented phrases along with a way to decipher Antipodal idioms. The scenery is beautiful.

      2. RUKidding

        I lived downundah for 8 glorious years but never truly felt it was Christmas when I lived there… something about the weather…

        I just sent an Xmas greeting to some of my mates reminiscing about what we used to get up to on Xmas day. Let’s just say that it’s a wonder we all survived body-surfing at Bondi on Chrissie day after imbibing in various forms of Christmas cheer.

        However, THE very best Christmas dinner I have EVER had was one year in Rockhampton, Queensland, where my hosts served the most amazing quantity and variety of Great Barrier Reef fish and shell fish. As the kids used to say: OMG!! Divine. I still dream about that dinner. Was incredible. Yummy yum yum.

        1. Lee

          Here in the SF Bay Area we’re having salmon and dungeness crab. I have relative in the fish biz. He sells hundreds of pounds of crab a day at this time of year.

  9. shtove

    From the Mattis/GWOT article’s author bio:

    Peter Van Buren, a 24-year State Department veteran, is the author of We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People and Hooper’s War: A Novel of WWII Japan. He is permanently banned from federal employment and Twitter.

  10. rd

    I think the current Trump Fed bashing is the biggest indicator yet (along with the Attorney General bashing) that the brilliant stable genius really doesn’t understand the Presidency. He put Jerome Powell after years of bashing Janet Yellen for soft interest policies and then immediately started whining when Powell continued raising rates at a slow but steady rate.

    He clearly doesn’t understand that by hollering at Powell publicly he is probably going to push the Fed into a policy mistake of an extra 0.25 to 0.50 interest rates hike imposed purely to show independence from the President. I don’t think there is anybody associated with the Fed who wants to go down in history as Arthur Burns the Second.

    Given where the 10 yr bond is today, I don’t think that the Fed will raise the Fed Funds rate again unless the markets give the all clear by pushing the 10 yr interest rate back up to the 3.25 area as the Fed is unlikely to willingly invert the yield curve at this time. However, incessant bashing by Trump may force their hand to do it.

    1. bronco

      thats not clear to me. Maybe he knows how people respond to him and acts accordingly? Obama would get credit for that and we’d call it eleventy dimensional chess .

  11. timbers

    I am feeling usually holiday like this year, because of reports U.S. participation in wars in Syria and Afghanistan might be coming to end. Ending a 17 year old war is real WOW IMO – if it actually happens. And ending America’s invasion of Syria is a big plus too.

    That Trump might actually do what many had hoped for – especially since his announced actions came so out-of-the-blue after appearing they would never happen because Trump went back on his word – this got me to google and re-read Yev’s article “Why some of the smartest progressive I know will be voting for Trump.” The last paragraph seemed especially prophetic.

    There is still room for me holiday spirit to improve more: The Nobel Committee could convene a special session and announce it will revoke Obama’s Nobel “Peace” Prize, and that it will be held in “pending” statues to possibly be given – or not – to Trump, pending analysis and outcome of U.S. actions in Syria and Afghanistan.

  12. Chris

    Thanks for posting the Project Syndicate article on climate change and engineers. I agree as an engineer that there is a huge potential for mobilizing our technical talent to solve the problem. I disagree that all we need are the specs to get it done. We have to change so much about society to make this work.

    Take cars for instance. Even if you revolutionize public transportation and you reach autonomous vehicle nirvana (oom- never going to happen – oom) you still have the issue that your average automobile owner expects to gas up their vehicle quickly and then get back on the road towards their destination. That is impossible right now with electric vehicles.

    The demand on the grid with charging increases dramatically the faster you need power to be delivered. If everyone is using electric vehicles, even with a much reduced population of car driving citizens, you’re not going to be able to charge the vehicles quickly. Say, 45 minutes to 1.5 hours per full charge realistically. So, is the culture in the West going to suddenly change so that citizens will enjoy spending 1-2 hours at a rest stop in the middle of their trip? I really don’t think so.

    And then there is the shift in the times for peak demand in the US and other countries. We’re now getting peak usage long after the sun has set. Between 8 and 9 pm based on the latest data I’ve seen. Well into the evening hours when the kind of wind you want to rely on for windmills has died down. In California, where a number of utility districts track their usage and the sources that meet their customers demand, they’re not meeting demand without base load generation from sources like nuclear. That’s not to say we’ll never reach the 100% renewable goal that people have, but, with the way we use electricity in the US, we can’t get there now without some form of baseload using sources other than solar and wind.

    You can use hybrid drive systems to help with the car issue, but then you’re still relying on carbon based fuels. You can build more coal or nuclear, but then you’re walking away from the goal of 100% renewable energy sources.

    So we need a variety of changes that you can’t make without society and culture changing too. I’m sure the innovations will come in ways we can’t imagine right now. But they won’t be able to beat the physical limits of what happens to a battery when you try to draw it down quickly or what happens to solar cell electricity generating potential when the sun has set. Engineers have to consider how a system will be used in their specs. Right now the specs from the end user say we can’t use 100% renewable energy in our society.

    1. TimR

      To me, reading between the lines, it seems like they plan to use a variety of austerity measures to impoverish Western “middle classes”, decrease living standards, and leave themselves as the only big energy consumers… Maybe Tesla and green tech utopias are just a smokescreen for the real dystopian endgame…

      1. jrs

        it matters a lot how sustainability is achieved, but the western “middle class” is objectively not sustainable. So it does take acknowledging the reality of that, and then yes it matters a lot how sustainability is achieved, hopefully as equitably as possible.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Neither is the emerging Indian “middle class” or the Chinese “middle class” objectively sustainable. Which fact will be revealed by the ongoing global warming required to try and sustain them.

          The global upper class and over class are the least sustainable of all . . . . and the greatest danger to the survival of everyone else. Any plan which does not tear down the upper class first . . . . will get no support from anyone else.

    2. ChristopherJ

      Hi Chris. The science and the economics only become possible when all the human drivers are eliminated from our roads and cars become something you hire (cheaply and ubiquitous). Think parking (how we move from a point where vehicles are only perhaps 4% efficient, the rest of time being parked) and the alternative use for that parking which is no longer needed (cars are added and subtracted as demand peaks and wanes).
      What will stop us getting there is our vanity and that feeling of freedom we get with car ownership etc…

    3. witters

      “is the culture in the West going to suddenly change so that citizens will enjoy spending 1-2 hours at a rest stop in the middle of their trip? I really don’t think so.”

      Well, what else are truck stops for?

      1. V8

        Well there is another sceanrio. Here in the UK Motorway Service Areas (Truck Stops) are rammed full in the summer holiday season with so many vehicles just stopping occassionally (maybe 10-30mins). The land required for parking is going to be multiples of what is available now to accommodate when hundreds of vehicles converge for hours on end waiting to/charge up. Then there are the facilities infrastructure, food, welfare, coffee etc that would also be required to accomodate.

        I think that when Big Oil are no longer in a position to exert huge leverage against alternative fuel development we will see a massive shift in technology towards alternative fuels. Along with that will also come the slow transfomation and realisation that the public will have to embrace that culture change will happen or you will walk/bike/hire….

        Interesting times

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      Or, if cars go electric and gas stations become battery stations, perhaps the model could be one where the charging stations have hundreds or thousands of electrocar battery-packs and when the driver is running low on power, he-she goes to the battery station and gets a battery-pack transplant. The battery station crew remove the discharged battery pack from the car, install a fully charged battery pack in its place, and after the few minutes needed to do that; the driver gets back on the road. Meanwhile, the battery station can then re-charge the swapped-out discharged battery at leisure. That way the time taken to recharge the battery need not be at the driver’s expense. And the rate of discharged battery recharge can remain slow enough so as to not impose the extra burden on the grid which faster re-charging would impose.

      1. V8

        Woodchuckles – that is a great idea, if the manufacturers can agree on a standard battery the same connections and access, so its just almost a plug and play.

        I wont hold my breath on that one though. Cant even get them to do a standard 12v battery with terminals and securing the same in vehicles today….

    5. Jon Cloke

      Jeffrey Sachs’ Eugenics-for-Engineers is sadly indicative of the have-our-cake-and-eat-it, simple-minded garbage passed off for blue-skies thinking amongst the tired, old climate change industry establishment.

      Repeat after me Jeff – You cannot have both accelerating mass consumption and a liveable planet; nor all thy piety nor wit can call this back to change one word of it..

  13. Wukchumni

    The xmas huckster tale by Lambert was what we’ve become of ourselves, afraid of our own shadows.

    Crime is way down from back in the day, but fear runs rampant.

    Our schools are mini concentration camps only in need of strands of concertina wire to be a campus delecti.

    And now we’re being to hold down our personal forts, against an imaginary thieving wave in the invasion of the booty snatchers.

    1. JBird4049

      FEAR EVERYTHING!! What of the CHILDREN!?!

      This is how “they” stampede us into profitable obedience. Aside from that uptick of deaths from despair and the statistically still rare mass shootings, which are driven by the neoliberal Hellscape that is modern America, and for which those causes are ignored by Elites, we really don’t have much fear; the more we build Fortress America, the less secure we feel, and the more “solutions” that aren’t are imposed on us. The more afraid we are and the less freedom we have.

      1. Wukchumni

        The mass shootings are rare, but common enough.

        What it lets us digest, is that all those people being murdered when the Glock struck twelve, is more or less normal now, setting us up to accept more of it in the future.

        1. JBird4049

          Our schools are mini concentration camps only in need of strands of concertina wire to be a campus delecti.


          The mass shootings are rare, but common enough.

          Like 9/11 which was used to justify the Patriot Act and the Invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq right after? Debating on what should or should be is fine and necessary; being deliberately terrorized into docility is not. In many ways America was a much, much more dangerous, violent, and even murderous society in the past centuries or even living memory. Were the schools, hospitals, court houses, airports, stadiums, and other public places so heavily fortified? Does anyone feel safer?

          Of course, earlier in the 20th century our society was not so fractured between the growing numbers of the poor and the precariat, and the shrinking middle class on one side and the 9.9% who are the functionaries and courtiers of the regime’s 0.1% elites on the other side. It is more important to look ever so closely at the gunz and the terrorists, which needs more wars and a growing police state, instead of the homeless, the sick, and God forbid, the oncoming climatic disorder and ecological collapse.

  14. bassmule


    “The Clintons, like the Bourbons before the French Revolution, have ensconced themselves in such a bubble of operative and media sycophancy that they’ve mistakenly viewed escalating distress and legitimate demands from citizens as mere noise. Sanders voters are taking their cue from Talleyrand, the statesman who navigated the Revolution and the turbulent 50 years that followed with remarkable success: ‘I have never abandoned a party before it abandoned itself’.”

    If my readers are representative, Clinton and the Democratic Party are about to have a long-overdue day of reckoning.”

    2016 Election: Why Some of the Smartest Progressives I Know….

    1. KLG

      Thank you the link to Yves’s article. I lost what I thought was a good friend when I predicted in March 2016 that if Hillary runs against Trump, she will lose the Electoral College while winning the meaningless popular vote due to New York, Illinois, and California. I recently found the electoral map I sent him: The only state I missed was Virginia. After he was nominated, I told my former friend that Trump was equivalent to the poison and radiation before the bone marrow transplant…You will probably die, but the alternative, as in the election of Hillary Clinton, is certain death. I think that assertion sent my friend away forever. Now, Trump has been considerably more obtuse than I imagined was possible, but I stand by my analysis. I had been voting for Democrats by default since the 1974 midterm and all I have gotten is nothing. No more. If there is no alternative to a conventional Democrat, that line is left blank.

      And on this Christmas Eve, I wish all here a very happy holiday season and an improved New Year, wherever you are and whatever you do!

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        It is sad to lose a friend and a friendship. But this friend appears to have been a Jonestown Clinton Cultist, and it is safer to be far away from such Cultists when the Head JimJones In Charge informs the Cult Members that it is Time to Drink The Koolaid.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      I can’t say that I myself have rejected lesser-evilism. After all, I did vote for Trump in the last election, in part because I considered Trump to be the lesser evil compared to the greater evil of Clinton.

  15. JTMcPhee

    On the possible fading of the Imperialist wet dream, assuming no coup here in the Well-Secured Homeland, can I offer a couple of definitions from that multi-million-dollar, constantly revised DoD [War Department] Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms?

    The first is “Insurgency,” which, in its latest iteration, is authoritatively said to mean,

    insurgency — The organized use of subversion and violence to seize, nullify, or challenge political control of a region. Insurgency can also refer to the group itself. (JP 3-24)

    How is the generic statement of what constitutes an “insurgency” different in any way, other than “when you do it, its wrong — when the Empire does it, it’s DIFFERENT,” from what the self-licking BorgBlob and the vastly incompetent Brobdingnagian US Imperial Military Enterprise has its “business model?” Violence to seize, nullify, or challenge political control? CIA and SOCOM and the rest, as yuuuge “insurgents?”

    I’d note that earlier versions of the definition, and definitions of related terms, have been airbrushed to obscure even plainer “psychologically projection” warpage of the reality of what the Empire plans and does…
    And just for giggles, since the adherents of the Petraeus/McChthuluyist “doctrine” still prowl the infinite-recursion corridors of the Pentagram, there’s this:

    counterinsurgency — Comprehensive civilian and military efforts designed to simultaneously defeat and contain insurgency and address its root causes. Also called COIN. (JP 3-24) Both definitions from

    “Comprehensive efforts… designed to…” Yeah, so much can be made of a few words, when it comes to justifying and carrying forward a whole lot of looting and demolition and destabilization and chaos-sowing. And always the out, “We did our best and brightest, we designed the operations to do whatever! Not our fault!! (collective spread of responsibility for failure, collective self-enrichment and career advancement from shuffling along with the “policies.”) The reality changed and derailed our carefully plotted strategies and tactics!!”

  16. James O'Keefe

    Re: What’s ‘Immoral’ About Caring for America’s Poor First?

    The truth is that so many of the people who make this case don’t care about poor citizens. If they did, they wouldn’t be cutting food stamps and what meager income support the government provides to justify tax cuts for the rich and $80 billion more a year for war. Instead they would be advocating for quality public health care, more money for schools and real income support/guaranteed job.

    1. JBird4049

      The United States has spent over a century destroying the economies and the rule of law in most of Latin America. As much as I want the immigrants gone, if only because of the large numbers of unemployed, underemployed, or underpaid Americans, I have to mention all the impoverished destroyed countries that they are fleeing from.

      The United States can spend money to effectively force economic refugees to come here and drive down the economic well-being of Americans by using the cheaper illegal immigrants while not effectively enforcing the law. The point of the allowing the immigrants is not to help them but to hurt the American poor.

      We are not just the Deplorables; we are also the Disposables.

  17. Wukchumni

    Devil’s Ombudsman Dept:

    “In June 1989, Hungary began dismantling its section of the physical Iron Curtain, leading to an exodus of East Germans through Hungary, which destabilised East Germany. This led to mass demonstrations in cities such as Leipzig and subsequently to the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989.” (Wiki)

    Love to tickle the ironies, and our exodus from Syria could Magyar things grim for the future of Capitalism as we knew it, just as we’re attempting to erect a wall, ha!

  18. Darius

    The NBC News piece is really just a forum for Obama people to attack Bernie people. All the tut tutters are Pod Save America blah blahs rebutted by Nomiki Konst and one other person I don’t know. I suppose it’s interesting for the type of BS that’s going to be thrown at Bernie.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Yup, and the accusations of a ‘conspiracy to ruin Beto’ reek of psychological projection.

      “We’re trying to restore status-quo ante-2016 where we could manufacture consent more-or-less uninterrupted. Beto’s a wonderful empty vessel so our consultants can get to work crafting an image for him, just like we did with Obama. You leftie insurgents are messing this up for us.”

      With a few voices in a few more media outlets, plus social media, the left is able to get its voice heard a bit more than 2016.

      1. ambrit

        Like I said yesterday, Bernie is being kneecapped as we type. I expect to see Hillary/Michelle 2020 bumper stickers on SUVs everywhere this time next year.

        1. JohnnyGL

          It’ll be interesting to see this cycle, because in 2016 name-recognition was a huge disadvantage for the left….and this cycle, it’ll be more of a plus. The consultant class has a lot of heavy-lifting to do to build up Harris and O’Rourke. The left can do a lot to ruin things for them along the way.

          Biden DOES have name recognition, but he’s a terrible campaigner.

        2. Big Tap

          Here’s how to dress down all the Beto lovers / Bernie haters. Say to them “You’re right. Bernie isn’t a Democrat. I hear that he’s considering a run for president as an Independent. Happy now?” Heads will spin and than flail off rotating faster than the Earth does around the Sun. Put it another way. Be nice to Bernie or suffer the consequences. These people didn’t learn from 2016 did they. Democrats never did an autopsy of the election and seem to want to repeat the same result.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        They’ve been shopping around different flavors of the month, and the time is running out to replicate a celebrity candidate similar to Obama or Hillary. When Beta goes to Iowa or New Hampshire, he will be asked about his fossil fuel record and deregulation, and clearly, he doesn’t have an answer. Obama enjoyed his non-binding Iraq Resolution, the Hillary Clinton candidacy (she had the same problems in 2016 as she did in 2008), and eventually Oprah (who is not the figure she once was).

        Then there are the issues with name recognition. Beto is way behind Obama in that aspect, and he doesn’t have an Iraq bludgeon to use. He’s Obama but pointless.

        1. Geo

          Obama was a community organizer and constitutional scholar. Beto was in a band and skateboards.

          At least Obama had the credentials of someone we could place some hope in. Beto is purely PR fluff.

            1. Geo

              I’m definitely not defending Obama. Just stating that Beto isn’t a white Obama. He’s even more superficial.

            2. Lee

              And Shirley Chisholm, another person of great substance, and an important exemplar whose name we do not hear often enough.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Obama was a community organizer

            I can’t let that go. NotTimothyGeithner pulled out this strangely hard-to-find quote from Adolph Reed the other day:

            In Chicago, for instance, we’ve gotten a foretaste of the new breed of foundation-hatched black communitarian voices; one of them, a smooth Harvard lawyer with impeccable do-good credentials and vacuous-to-repressive neoliberal politics, has won a state senate seat on a base mainly in the liberal foundation and development worlds. His fundamentally bootstrap line was softened by a patina of the rhetoric of authentic community, talk about meeting in kitchens, small-scale solutions to social problems, and the predictable elevation of process over program—the point where identity politics converges with old-fashioned middle-class reform in favoring form over substance.

            I suspect that his ilk is the wave of the future in U.S. black politics, as in Haiti and wherever else the International Monetary Fund has sway.

            Reed called his shot on Obama in 1996. Impressive. Anybody who can do that has their politics seriously in order.

            1. Geo

              Great find! Thanks for sharing it.

              Totally agree. As I said, he had the credentials. I guess I could have clarified in stating he didn’t have the principles though.

              2008 was my first time voting third party. There were too many red flags for me. From Telecom Immunity to his love of Reagan and so on. When he brought aboard Geither/Summers then started his first day in office by drone bombing Pakistan I knew I made the best decision for my own peace of mind.

              1. Lee

                To my great chagrin, I did not see the truth of him until after I engaged with the HAMP program. And then there was the ACORN ratphk shortly after I started working with them and so on and so on and so on. I view Trump as the turd left on our doorstep by Obama. A kind of Parthian shot, if you will.

              2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                And I thought I was early. The day (pre-inauguration) he announced ‘Lil Timmy Geithner would be his go-to man to clean up the financial mess (that he was asleep at the switch on as a regulator) I knew the fix was in. It just didn’t smell right for a one-term state senator, and a smooth-talking young brother to boot, to be given the reins, I knew there had already been a “listen, son, here’s how it’s going to go” conversation with the banks people who actually run the country.

            2. nobody

              It’s from a piece he had in The Village Voice (“The Curse of Community”; January 16, 1996). Reprinted in Class Notes: Posing As Politics and Other Thoughts on the American Scene (2000).

                1. Left in Wisconsin

                  Not sure if this is recent or not but the quote shows up near the top of Reed’s wiki… page.

        2. oh

          He didn’t have a Bush who presided over an economic debacle either. Beto, don’t quit your day job, boy!

  19. Situation Normal

    Why, as a woman, you shouldn’t drive for Uber or Lyft: The Dark Realities Women Face Driving for Uber and Lyft.

    The last paragraph speaks volumes:

    Pagliocco’s still driving, but looking for other work. “I loved the flexibility and everything, but the money just isn’t consistent enough,” in addition to dealing with the “sexual harassment stuff,” she said. “I mean, I would much rather have a full-time job.”


    The continued existence of these companies never ceases to amaze me. For as long as literally anyone at all is willing to drive for them, I will have doubts about the health of the American economy.

  20. JohnnyGL

    Interesting for the state of play on who the critics are (‘moderate’ republicans) and Trump getting back towards the agenda he carved out for himself on the campaign trail. Note the defense of the Fed and imperialism by the so-called ‘moderates’ who are sending a message ‘Warning: don’t touch that dial’

    I’d be happy to see Trump fire Powell and pull out of more overseas deployments. Central Bank independence is a joke…right now it’s independent from public accountability and wholly captured by the banking sector. I view it as a failed experiment which reduced democratic control. I’d be fine with it being folded back into the Treasury Dept. I suspect the MMT crowd wouldn’t be bothered, either. Pundit class would lose their minds, of course.

    Also, I think we’re seeing a possible re-shaping of the Republican Party underway, with potential for lasting change if Trump is able to craft a group of others who see things similarly on policy. Critics like Shelby, Graham, Rubio are all thoroughly discredited and represent a slow, uneven decline in the Republican Party of the Bush era.

  21. Darius

    The Pod Save America types like to point out that the New Deal was segregationist. It’s true, although not at all consistently. But in spite of that African Americans came out of that period better than before because redistribution benefits the poor the most, even when they’re not the direct beneficiaries.

    In contrast, as another post today shows, monorities lost ground during the Obama years. Instead, we got a personality cult.

      1. ambrit

        I agree with your analysis. I’m an older white male living in the North American Deep South. The shift in race relations ‘on the ground’ is profound. Most ‘race baiting’ I see, and I see it from both “sides” of this dynamic, has an inauthentic feel. It feels almost ‘manufactured’ for effect.
        I’m with Reed and the BAR comrades on this. It really is class oriented. The obvious and visible differences between the “races” are tools to use to drive the separation of the subunits of a class. Divide and rule.

        1. Cal2

          Ambrit, Absolutely agree,

          Since there are no comment fields on the “The Decline of African-American and Hispanic Wealth Since the Great Recession” article today, I’m going to post here what I would there.

          A prime example of this ignorance of class in favor of identity race division politics is presidential candidate in waiting Kamala Harris.

          Notice how they slipped in “progressives like Kamala Harris” in the Bernie v Beto article?

          She and her fervent supporters constantly uses identity politics as an entree, as though her brilliance in selecting her parents were a qualification. Meanwhile she screwed huge numbers of black people whom she was in charge of protecting as California attorney general.

          “Harris has sometimes displayed a rather Hillary Clinton-esque tendency to say the right thing but not follow through in a vigorous way. Most notoriously, she refused to prosecute Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s old company OneWest for numerous instances of almost certain illegal foreclosure, against the advice of her own Consumer Law Section, and has so far refused to say why. (She was also the only Senate Democratic candidate to get a donation from Mnuchin himself in 2016.)”

          1. Darius

            Pundits and other elite Americans reflexively substitute identity for material needs. Thus, Bernie is too liberal for a place like Mississippi, when that state, white and black, need the things he’s advocating more than anyone.

            1. ambrit

              True. and Sanders does get that. He has come down to Mississippi several times in support of union organizing drives. That gets a lot of support from the working class here. A place like Mississippi is an object lesson in the profound differences between the MSM version of the state of play in a place and the “street level” reality. (I was about to type “version of reality” but had to stop and think about that for a minute. This leads me to the idea of discrete but coterminous social “realities” within a physical state. Thank goodness for the tryptophan in turkey, our main food these last two weeks. Otherwise, I believe that my head would explode.)

            2. ambrit

              Short: Bernie does get it. He just doesn’t play fully by the Establishment rules.
              Advice to Bernie: Don’t take any trips on small aircraft.

            3. jrs

              but will they actually vote for it? Both black and white? Because otherwise needing it is all well and good but …

              A place like Mississippi can’t even enact Medicaid expansion. I know it’s the flawed ACA and all but that’s not a good sign.

              1. ambrit

                Mississippi is a prime example of Patriarchal Privilege in Politics. The White Good Old Boys network is alive and well here. There are some Conservative women politicians here, but they are almost Handmaids of the Patriarchy in their actions. This bunch have made common cause with the Mississippi Black Misleadership class. Both worship at the Fane of Mammon. Greed is equal opportunity. Money doesn’t care what colour the hand that holds it is. So, Class Warfare is in the cards.

              1. ambrit

                Well, considering that the modern Freemasons are an outgrowth of the Medieval Alchemists, 2000 years is a bit of a stretch. Now, if you said 2000 year old Nestorian Christain police force, you might get somewhere with the meme.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The Pod Save America types like to point out that the New Deal was segregationist.

      Which totally explains why the black vote shifted to the Democrats after FDR:

      Blacks mostly voted Republican from after the Civil War and through the early part of the 20th century. That’s not surprising when one considers that Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president, and the white, segregationist politicians who governed Southern states in those days were Democrats. The Democratic Party didn’t welcome blacks then, and it wasn’t until 1924 that blacks were even permitted to attend Democratic conventions in any official capacity. Most blacks lived in the South, where they were mostly prevented from voting at all.

      The election of Roosevelt in 1932 marked the beginning of a change. He got 71 percent of the black vote for president in 1936 and did nearly that well in the next two elections, according to historical figures kept by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. But even then, the number of blacks identifying themselves as Republicans was about the same as the number who thought of themselves as Democrats.

      It wasn’t until Harry Truman garnered 77 percent of the black vote in 1948 that a majority of blacks reported that they thought of themselves as Democrats. Earlier that year Truman had issued an order desegregating the armed services and an executive order setting up regulations against racial bias in federal employment.

      Deray (charter school administrator) and Favreau (Obama speechwriter) are so dishonest. Really tragic. I should probably listen to them regularly but I don’t think I could stand it.

      NOTE Hilariously, Philip Bump’s chart on party identification (not votes) begins in 1936, cutting off FDR in 1932.

  22. BoyDownTheLane

    “People fall off cruise ships with alarming regularity. Can anything be done to stop it?”

    Yes. Don’t go on cruise ships.

    1. bronco

      is there a dumber vacation available than going on a cruise ship? food poisoning is not my idea of a vacation. Maybe the poor slobs are suffering from 105 degree fevers and just plunge into the water to cool off?

      1. ambrit

        Hmmm… Do you mean the Neoliberal version of that plan, or the Progressive version? “Them” could mean the class of people described by “no one,” a Neoliberal interpretation, or ‘cruise ships,’ the Progressive version.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Maybe they could install nets around the sides of those ships. The same ones those Chinese factories install to prevent people committing suicide.

  23. Wukchumni

    The last lengthy Federal shutdown was in 2013, and the entrance to Sequoia NP was closed for over 2 weeks, just killing business here in town, and disappointing all the tourists had come from far away to be with the Brobdingnagians.

    But this shutdown it looks as if the NP’s aren’t closing down as much, they just go to a bare bones existence. And to add a little topping to the cake, they aren’t collecting admission fees here.

    Everybody saves $30 right from the get go.

    While in the NP, the concessionaire is doing business as usual, along with my friend who runs a sightseeing tour.

    There isn’t the paralysis of the past…

  24. Synoia

    How the International Monetary Fund Imposes Its Economic Policies on Argentina

    This is what Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research Director Vijay Prashad calls an investment strike; the idea that credit is only available to countries who follow neoliberal policies. Governments that stray—or are perceived to stray—from this agenda are deprived from access to credit by the world’s financial institutions.

    And there is no outside pressure from Countries to influence these decisions?

    Please remind us just who is supplying the US dollars to the IMF.

  25. barefoot charley

    I had an unhappy holiday reunion with an old friend who usually makes sense. He was spouting Lindsey-Graham-style against Trump’s withdrawal from Syria. I said what you’d expect, and he responded with quite accurate pearl-clutching about the poor Kurdish Socialist Utopians who had been creating an egalitarian order behind “Mad Dog” Mattis’s cordon militaire in the Northeast. It is indeed a great story, that an enclave of political possibility has briefly existed beyond the battle lines we drew against the enemies we created. (If you’re unfamiliar with Rojava, see here: ) The idea that our war machine would permanently protect communitarian Kurds against, among others, our war machine, seemed to me cosmically absurdist on its face. My friend actually pulled the holocaust card on me for pointing out that their utopia was doomed, and stomped away. Trump Derangement Syndrome conquers all.

    1. Mattski

      I’m drawing a mixed message from your comments here. The Kurds are indeed a threatened ethnic minority, are indeed persecuted on all sides, and have indeed created a unique form of egalitarian governance (which incidentally affords women power) as partial byproduct of an (obviously strategic) support from the US government, which has used them to help fight ISIS when that convened. They do now face genocide. No facile take that simply applauds Trump’s withdrawal is going to be very worthwhile since we created many fresh hells in Syria and surroundings and–while a withdrawal now fulfills one of the rare populist promises of value made by Trump (into an America-first “isolationism” that will hardly otherwise be fulfilled)–a lot of people also stand to get killed; too many contradictions, going back to Jimmy Carter at least, for any obvious solace, IMO. If your friend has such a sophisticated take on the Kurds he’s hardly a Trumpeter; if you’re saying that the disease infects those outside the immediate adulatory-crazy circle I still don’t get it. It’s absolutely true that ongoing protection for the Kurds was unlikely to be in the cards but–for those of us who have followed their fortunes these last few decades–the withdrawal does indeed look terrifying. Perhaps I’m just missing the wildness of your friend’s lament, but this seems an odd subject–the imminent military threat to millions of people–to wax tangential in criticizing a friend about.

      1. Geo

        I wish no harm or ill-will toward the Kurds but to pretend they were ever anything but our pawns to begin with is to ignore our history of using and discarding them.

        It would be great if they could live in peace and I wish we were committed to helping with that but we’ve thrown them to the wolves many times before. There’s no reason to believe we were going to stand by them this time. The newfound concern for them by the establishment media and MIC is just moving the goal posts on why we were in Syria. First it was regime change, then fighting evildoers, now protecting the Kurds. All of those reasons are lies.

        1. barefoot charley

          Thank you Geo, for your excellent response.

          I see what you see, Mattski, and this too: for a less facile comparison, look at the free Jeffersonian yeomanry of yore that was resuscitated 200 years later in comedic form in the potlands of the West. Our independent yeomanry thrived on smuggling between the battleships of England and France. Our virtuous republicans’ window of existence was opened by, and depended upon, geopolitical relations utterly unrelated to their virtues or well-being. Lucky us. Understanding this makes us no more nor less virtuous. It makes communities of pot farmers profit(eer)ing from later ‘war’ follies that incarcerated millions of browner people in cities no more or less hypocritical, or good or evil.

          I sympathize with the Kurds as much as my friend does (though I may know more than he does about their large role in the Armenian genocide). But I understand what will happen to them no matter what I think, if not now then whenever we do stab them in the back. I think my friend could have seen things more clearly if Hillary were the one abandoning them to their fate. I may be wrong.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              Following up on the final paragraph at MoA, Öcalan, a disciple of Murray Bookchin, seems like an interesting figure; see here and here.

              It seems evident to me that a Kurdistan backed by the United States would look nothing like the Kurdistan Öcalan wants; we don’t back anarcho-marxists, let alone feminist ones. I also think that Öcalan is not the only factional leader among the Kurds.

  26. Wukchumni

    Imagine an underwater Trouble with Tribbles?

    The partnership of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, the National Park Service, and the boating community has set records in 2018 for vessel inspection and decontamination for quagga mussels. The two agencies contacted over 200,000 visitors, inspected over 64,000 vessels, and decontaminated over 4,200 vessels at five primary launch ramps at Lake Powell. Additionally, over 140 boats were placed in quarantine statewide.

    Earlier this year, technicians were finding quagga mussels on and in boats that had only been in Lake Powell for a day or two, something boaters hadn’t experienced in the past. As a result, the Department of Natural Resources and the National Park Service increased inspection, decontamination, and enforcement efforts. Enhanced training was also incorporated to focus on anchor and sea strainer inspections and the flushing of cooling intakes and water systems. The adjustments proved successful.

    More will be done in 2019 to further expand efforts to keep quagga mussels from reaching other Utah lakes and reservoirs. Governor Gary Herbert proposed in his 2020 fiscal year budget plan an additional $405,000. If approved, new aquatic invasive species funding will be used to add needed technicians and equipment to increase the efficiency of inspection and decontamination efforts at Lake Powell. Aquatic invasive species can impair the delivery of water and power, diminish boating and fishing, and devastate lake ecosystem health. Once they are present, quagga mussels cannot be eradicated and the efforts to contain and manage the impacts can cost millions of dollars.

  27. Grand

    “Inside Bernie-world’s war on Beto O’Rourke”

    What a horrific article. First off, it isn’t personal. There is no “Bernie’s world”, there are people that support him because of the policies he supports and his record. They don’t support Bernie for the same superficial reasons that Neera Tanden supports bores like Beto. They don’t like Beto because of his record, who is lining up behind him, his worldview and what he seems to represent. The same exact issue will exist with Booker, Harris and Biden. They aren’t up to the challenge, don’t really offer any solutions to our largest problems, don’t offer actual alternatives either. Beto himself isn’t much of anything. He is a product, something they want to sell like companies sell toothpaste, and the empty people behind him don’t care about him as a human being at all. They see him as something that they can sell to maintain their access to power, which enriches them, and he will keep the system as is. So, people aren’t fighting Beto, they are fighting those behind him, the policies he would offer, and they aren’t part of Bernie’s world, whatever the hell that is. They are fighting for particular policies and realize those things won’t ever come about with Beto and those like him. It isn’t personal what so ever, cause if Beto fails, they will move on to Biden, Harris or Booker without skipping a beat. The ends will not change, the policies won’t change, the systematic corruption won’t change, cause that is what Beto offers, what exists with moderate tinkering around the edges. What will change is the face. I think his mindless hack supporters in the media call that “pragmatism”.

    From the article:

    “Telling people that Beto O’Rouke is a moderate candidate is not going to do the damage that it would have before,” said one party elder who is not aligned with any of the candidates. “They will strengthen him. They will make him into a bigger force than he is.”

    Who gives a damn about a word like “progressive” or “moderate”? People are focused on policies. If someone like Beto wins with his empty, vague policy statements, promising nothing clear what so ever, then we are utterly screwed. If there is a primary worth a damn, he will be forced to commit to certain policies. I think the establishment hacks behind him want to create an environment where he is never forced to commit to policies, and they will attack anyone trying to get him or others like him to commit to particular policies, cause they ultimately don’t offer anything people want.

    1. Geo

      Well said.

      he will be forced to commit to certain policies

      That’s what public and private statements are for! ;)

      Seriously though, when did discussions of policy and positions become taboo in Democrat politics? Oh, right, in late 2015 when the anointed one was to be chauffeured to the finish line untarnished by the unwashed masses beneath her.

      Can’t let policies and positions get in the way of neoliberal rule.

    2. DJG

      Grand: Thanks for reading the article about Robert Francis O’Rourke, so I don’t have to. Instead, I will trade you Jim Kavanaugh’s article about the left and the Gilets Jaunes, listed above in Links, which is worth your while.

      I have read a few articles in the past couple of weeks about O’Rourke’s voting record. It sounds to me that Beteau is just Macron with a skateboard. And Macron is exactly what the U S of A needs at this delicate economic and cultural moment, right?

      [Spoiler alert: Kavanaugh dispatches Neera Tanden almost immediately: She’s just one more bourgeoise who wants to keep the undeserving workers and farmers under (her) control.]

    3. Big River Bandido

      That “article” is a hit job, and too obvious a one at that. It won’t convince anyone.

  28. Cal2

    On inherited trauma…

    Is there any such thing as inherited privilege at a genetic level?
    This article, except for fetal alcohol syndrome. seems to ignore what happens in mother’s bodies. Famine studies show grandchildren of famine victims have disproportionate weight gains. Probably a epigenetic effect as it skips a generation.

    “Studies, also in mice, have zeroed in on the epididymis, a tube near the testicles where sperm cells load before ejaculation. There, they learn to swim over a period of days, and their genes can be marked, said Dr. Rando.”

    As any man knows, under stress and fear, your huevos shrink and retract. I wonder if there’s a long term corollary to the mice studies above?

    “a malady in modern science: the more extraordinary and sensational and apparently revolutionary the claim, the lower the bar for the evidence on which it is based, when the opposite should be true.”
    Let’s have a conversation about how wonderful diversity and multiculturalism are which ends up often implemented as legislation and social policy as though it were settled science.

  29. Summer

    Re: Bitcoin, digital lottery, dystopian future

    Here, we just see that it is more of the manufactured scarcity of the current economic system:
    “Many crypto-evangelists insist that Bitcoin is “digital gold,” in part because the long-term supply is algorithmically capped at 21 million. But this is nutty….”

    The whole point is that it is a power play by a handful of players. It’s not a creation to help humanity. That right there…this manufactured scarcity is what produces value.
    Goes back to the point about the lies and hype in the overall economy. This is not a ssystem that has any plans in helping “humanity.” The hype about abundance being created is a flat out lie in a system, any system, that manufacutes scarcity to make a few some tired ass overlords in their degenerate minds.

  30. Summer

    Re: Bitcoin, Dystopian Future

    “Many crypto-evangelists insist that Bitcoin is “digital gold,” in part because the long-term supply is algorithmically capped at 21 million…”

    Who really needs a new currency with the same manufactured scarcity logic?
    You’re just trading one opaque financial system for one that would be more opaque, fraudulent, and without acoountability.
    It’s just a power play by some quants and few elites.
    We need “cooperation plays” in the future for real civilization.

    1. Richard

      Well put. The idea of “manufactured scarcity” is so important for people to understand. Thinking about the “maxed out” idea that was referenced above, that is such an easy blinkered trap for us (me at least, blame my upbringing) to fall into. The things everyone needs and the problems no one can avoid are subjected to market discipline here, and that is simply not to be questioned.
      In the most egregious u.s. case of a false scarcity, we even have to pretend that we can’t provide medical care for everyone. The people who don’t see doctors because of no insurance or sky-high deductables, they are met with a scarcity that is good and wholesome and unquestionable because the market has decreed it. It’s even holy, in a way, this scarcity, and it’s quite wicked to point out that it’s manufactured.
      It’s hard to wake up from this, for me at least. False scarcities, meanness and struggle over the neccessities of life, permeated every social question I encountered growing up, in the western u.s. in the 70s.

  31. Geo

    Mnuchin’s statement on banks seems to have triggered Wall Street. They’re having a bit of a meltdown.

    Couldn’t happen to a more deserving group of Scrooges. I hope the ghosts of Depressions past visit them in their sleep tonight. Our nation’s Tiny Tims need health care and Bob Cratchets are buried in debt without a union yet these guys don’t care at all. I don’t like being a nihilist but in this season of giving I wouldn’t mind sharing some of the suffering with Wall Street.

  32. bob

    RE: Stop Sending Regular Text Messages Gizmodo

    So, send a txt via signal that is still and always has been title 1?

    We all know private corps would never, ever censor anyone. Put another layer of another private corp, with known issues of surveillance and privacy concerns in there. It’ll help boost your broadband bill and cut another 3rd party in, with no law at all governing them.

    Selling “privacy”, with no details, and less privacy

  33. How is it legal

    Re: Why It’s Hard to Escape Amazon’s Long Reach

    Anyone one else get a nauseous feeling about that piece? Beginning with the fawning portrait which looks to be a painting, versus a photo, and actually manages to impart a ‘humane-ish’ (in a highly patriarchal manner, to my mind), facial expression I’ve never seen in any of Bezos photos, and ending with the utter lack of commentary as to both: why such a “Relentless” robber baron vampire should not have anything close to the amount of negative impact on peoples lives as he has; along with a backdrop as to the connections which aided and abetted such power – I found the piece slyly reverent about his power, and highly disturbing.

    Despite countless faults with much of the mainstream European Press, I doubt such an uncritical piece – while still acknowledging Bezos’ obscene “Relentless” “Empire” – would be written by the Guardian, et al.

    As usual, I don’t necessarily blame it on the journalists, who knows what editorial decisions were made at Wired.

    1. footnote 4

      Someone just needs to show Bezos’s face producing the smarmy Alexa voice.

      Betcha nobody’d ever look the same way at either again …

      1. How is it legal

        Thankfully, I think I missed that photo. From the multitudes of unsolicited photos I’ve seen of him, I’ve never seen a one where he appeared to be genuinely smiling about something other than his toys, power, cunning, and “Empire” (which empire includes being one of the largest landholders in Texas; no doubt, due to Gramps Lawrence Preston Gise’ wealth, ‘guidance,’ and multiple Government/Corporate connections, which Government/Corporate connections were likely extended to Jeff’s Pedro Pan (CIA Project) Stepfather and Charter School Zealot, Mike [Miguel] Bezos).

        Jeff Bezos is a truly disturbing, amoral presence, to my mind; those of his ilk without the massive fortune, connections, and owned Attorneys, usually end up being locked up as a danger to society at some point.

        1. Geo

          Have you see this season’s South Park take on Bezos? It’s brilliant. They really nailed his god-complex/evil-villian vibe and highlight the destructiveness of his empire. Even better than their fun take on Mark Zuckerberg last season.

    2. oh

      The article once again reminded me that one can amass huge wealth if only one could launch an IPO that benefits and is aided by the squllionaire robber barons. The SEC would then turn their backs on acquisitions that are subject to anti trust action.

      1. How is it legal

        Behind every great [monetary] fortune,is an even greater crime.

        I’ll never forget my horror at reading how severely (and I mean severely) understaffed the San Francisco Bay Area (encompassing Silicon Valley/Santa Clara County) SEC™ Watchdog™ Office was, in the late nineties. Outrageous, given the Silicon Valley Multinational Corporate Domiciles.

    1. witters

      “For those who find Adolph Reed’s article poorly-reasoned…” Not me. And if they were, i wouldn’t be “uncomfortable” with the conclusions, I would reject them as ill-reasoned.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s good that people engage with Reed. This comment really requires a full post, but I don’t have time for that. Also, the tradition of densely argued polemic on the left is very strong, and I’m just not going to be able to live up to it today. That said, it’s absurd to assert — especially by reference! — that Reed’s article is “poorly reasoned.” Here is Yates:

      While Reed has been inclined to criticize the positions of those who support the position of Kelley, Horne, and Fraser as emphasizing identity over class, the Northern Irish writer, broadcaster, and activist, Richard Seymour points out that “To me, it’s straightforward. [2] Class is a social relationship that is structured by race, gender, sexuality, nationality, and a whole range of other determinations. Race is the modality in which millions of people inhabit their class experience. [1] Their “identity politics” will often be the precise way in which they fight a class struggle.”

      I’ve numbered the claims in square brackets in the order I will address them.

      1) Their “identity politics” will often be the precise way in which they fight a class struggle.”

      On claim 1 — and I defy anybody to label Reed’s reasoning as “poor”; incorrect, perhaps, but poor? Hardly — Reed writes:

      Within DSA, the debate is anchored, at least in principle, to the longer-term goal of social transformation along socialist lines. In that context, the first alternative is rooted in a longstanding, conventional approach based on mass movement-building. The second proceeds from a conviction that, because of the overwhelming power of white supremacy (and related systems of oppression) in the United States, the route to socialism must give priority to challenging those hierarchies. This view rests on a determinist account that construes racism—commitment to white, male, heteronormative supremacy—as the driving imperative in American political history and a corollary contention that that commitment has vitiated all progressive initiatives in the past and will continue to do so. Therefore, albeit incongruously in light of the determinism it posits, this approach insists that defeating that imperative is a necessary precursor to pursuit of any more general leftist agendas. Thus I and others argue that its guiding perspective is race-reductionist*.

      Importantly, saying identitarian politics is race-reductionist doesn’t mean that identities do not exist or are not important. As Reed points out, mass-movement building is conventional. It’s been done. It’s also where the numbers are; 90% of the population is working class. For myself, I think that if identitarian politics worked, it would already have worked (where “work” means “change the Constitutional order”). In the 1960s and 70s, we had identitarian siloes: Women’s liberation, Black liberation, Gay liberation, and so on. It’s true that each silo achieved gains, but gay marriage and shattering the glass ceiling aren’t exactly ending patriarchy or whatever. Is there any indication that identarian politics was “the precise way in which [these siloes] fight a class struggle”? First, “precise” is doing a lot of work there, especially given Yates’ failure to provide any evidence that this was going on. Second, note the carefully placed indefinite article: “a” class struggle, as opposed to “the” class struggle. Identitarians can’t help fractionating the working class even when they claim not to. Third, Yates provides no evidence that today’s identitariabs have learned from the debacles of the past. The closest I can come is the notion of allyship, supposed to replace the notion of solidarity; but allyship presumes that populations with shared identities can be treated as monolithic and that’s not just so.

      2) Class is a social relationship that is structured by race, gender, sexuality, nationality, and a whole range of other determinations.

      On claim 2, a “whole range” turns the idea of class into mush. Where does the “range” end? I won’t speculate on whether that was Yates’ intent, but that is what he achieved. Worse, when Yates writes about class, he contradicts himself. Further down in the article, he writes:

      All capitalist societies are marked by a sharp separation between the few who own and the many who must gain access to what the former have, namely society’s productive property: land, resources, tools, equipment, machinery. Failure to do so means misery and even death. To get such access, people must sell the one thing they do own, their capacity to work….. The historical trend has been for the working class, those who are exploited, to comprise an increasing fraction of all those who directly produce goods and services.

      It could be that Yates means “class” in the more denatured sense of people selected for (“classified”) on the basis of ascriptive identity, like soccer moms, or club kids, or troubled teens. I’m not sure, because further down Yates writes:

      The class struggle, combining the organizing of workers and peasants globally, cannot be effectively waged unless racism, patriarchy, and ecological ruin are central to it.

      Yates could not, I think, write “the class struggle” (note definite article) were “class” simply to mean “classification.” So which version of class does Yates believe in? A version of class that is structured by “a whole range of other determinations,” or a version of class where exploitation, i.e., the wage relation, is central? Mushy, or, as Yates says, “sharp” ? I guess I’ve got to go with mushy, because of the following passage from Yates:

      The class struggle, combining the organizing of workers and peasants globally, cannot be effectively waged unless racism, patriarchy, and ecological ruin are central to it.

      This sentence is very beautiful and revealing, because Yates uses “wage” as a verb, and not as a noun. He decenters wages — what makes workers, workers; what makes, if you are sharp and not mushy, class class — from the very notion of class struggle! He cannot organize workers as workers, but must silo them by identity, and then, having siloed them, figure out how to unify them. Having demassified the mass by identity, analytically and organizationally, one must somehow remassify it! But on what basis other than that which, objectively, unites them — the wage relation?

      NOTE * And see Reed here for the class interests that lead to such reductionism.

    1. chuck roast

      Thank you for the link, and the great metaphor relating, “the (then) single European treaty to “an incoming tide”, which “flows into the estuaries and up the rivers”.
      Tides have what is know as “the rule of twelfths”. Whereas the first 1/6 of the tidal period, the tide rises (or falls) by 1/12 of its distance between high and low; the second 1/6 of its period by 2/12 of its distance; the third 1/6 of its period by 3/12 of its distance; the fourth 1/6 of its period 3/12 of its distance; the fifth 1/6 of its period 2/12 of it distance and finally, the final 1/12 of its 6 hour period by 1/6 of its distance between high and low tide.
      Whew…I know!
      But think of it, if you have been watching the water closely…at slack tide, either side of high and low, you have a 2/6 period… approximately 2 hours in a six hour period when the tide really isn’t doing a lot. You can get a lot done during this time because the tide is not rushing about, ebbing and flowing, abusing you.
      Maybe we should have had some mariners running Brexit.

  34. Savita

    Geo, you wrote:

    Whereas, a filmmaker like Steve McQueen, a gay, black, British man…. None of those films were about his personal identity. He was able to channel his own identity as a marginalized person

    Thanks for your comment. I was entertained by the suggestion being British is an aspect of his being marginalised :-0
    And indeed, brilliant filmmaker. THAT is the point of Steve McQueen. He is an Artist.

    1. Geo

      Ha! I didn’t exactly mean it that way – meant more to highlight that he’s not American Black yet told the story of America’s slavery experience better than anyone had before.

      But, who knows? Maybe being Briatuah will come to be a marginalized identity after this whole Brexit thing goes down.

  35. Oregoncharles

    From “The Late Cycle Lament”: “Far from the sanguine consensus of the current state of health of the U.S. economy, in this paper I
    demonstrate that this is the slowest and weakest recovery in post war history. Whilst GDP growth has
    been poor, labour productivity growth has been worse, and real wage growth worst of all.”

    There’s an argument that, in terms of stability, “slow and weak” is a good thing. It’s been bad for workers, especially the last bit, but a slow, weak recovery is likely to last much longer than a hot one. This is partly because the boom CAUSES the bust – it’s an overshoot phenomenon. Ultimately, the only stable economy is one with no growth at all – starting at a much lower level of extraction than now.

    The real problem is that the present “recovery” has been engineered originally by Obama, to serve only the top few. A stable economy especially a no-growth one, would depend on a vast amount of redistribution. You can’t expect equality of outcomes, but it would have to approach that to be tolerable. At the least, it would have to eliminate immiseration.

  36. Oregoncharles

    Reich: “Economies depend first and foremost on spending. Otherwise, there’s no reason to produce goods and services.”

    Groaf. While true, this is where I part company with old-fashioned liberal economists like Reich (aside from his DP delusions) and even Dean Baker. It’s a recipe for disaster – a disaster that’s already happening. And because we’re already up against resource limits, it’s likely to not work. That’s what MMT says: you can expand spending UNTIL you’re up against resource limits. (Pardon typos – I have some sticky keys.) Then you get inflation, instead. You also get things like fracking.

  37. drumlin woodchuckles

    I have mentioned before an Exemplary Example of pro-Clinton blogs called The Confluence, headed by Blogmeister Riverdaughter. I have thrown around various adjectives to describe the blog and the people who gather there.

    But now I think I just want to run a little material from off that blog . . . . straight and without editorial comment . . . . so readers can decide what to make of the challenges the Clinton Community poses to us and our country going forward.

    First, I will run a paragraph by Blogmeister Riverdaughter herself. One could say it is “out of context”, but just what “context” would explain this paragraph as saying something other than what it straight-out says on its visible face? Anyway, here it is.

    “We have spent far, far too much time worrying about the feelings of people who voted for the losing candidate. Yes, Jim, Trump LOST by 3,000,000 votes. You could say that the Electoral College decides everything, in which case it failed spectacularly in its duty when it met to confirm him. But I am not particularly worried about the vast expanse of enraged rural voters from Ohio to Idaho. Seriously, Jim, they’ve exceeded their 15 minutes of fame. Their movement might have weakened on its own if Trump had lost, you even suggest as much going into 2020. We don’t need to hear about what they’re thinking over their pancakes and coffee at the local diner. We’ve heard it and find it shallow, short sighted and unconvincing.”

    And here is the link to where it came from.

    And here is a little sample of what the Clinton supporters think of Sanders and the SanderSocial Democrats . . . if you will.

    “pm317, on December 23, 2018 at 5:14 pm said:
    People (and most of all Hillary) was gracious and polite to Bernie and his minions to let them play in the Democratic primary. Not this time. It is all hands on deck behind a competent and capable candidate (which Bernie is not) in 2020
    Joe Lockhart


    It’s time for Bernie to step up and call off the dogs. If not, he’ll play a high price for his bros

    Jonathan Allen

    The War on Beto O’Rourke is being waged by Bernie-world. With @aseitzwald …”

    And here is the link to where I found that.

    The Confluence is not a fringe blog. It is a respected member of the Clintosphere. It offers a window into the hearts and minds of tens of millions of people. These tens of millions of people are a fact. They need to be faced up to. We will have to cope with them somehow, going forward.

    And that is why I have offered some representative samples of how they think and feel. Because they are out there. They are all around us.

    1. ambrit

      Thanks for that info. Where this cohort is physically located would be interesting to see. I know, from ‘on the ground’ observation, that they risk pissing off the ‘deplorables’ to their own disadvantage.
      A basic fact not admitted by this, shall we say, Meritocratic Class Segregationist Clique is that the ‘deplorables’ they disdain are not stupid as a group. If they were so, they would not be able to function and would die off. One may suggest that this ‘deplorable’ class has lost it’s reason to exist with the deindustrialization of the nation. That would fail to take into account the fact that the ‘deplorable function,’ making things for the merchants and financiers to live off of the manipulation of, has not been eliminated, but exported. America’s working class now lives in China, Thailand, Vietnam, and all the other ‘servant’ countries. These ‘servants’ are now waking up to their real power in this relationship.
      When the elites eventually come begging to the ‘deplorables’ to support them in their new economic wars with the rest of the world, those ‘deplorables’ are more than likely to reply; “Welcome to H—.”

  38. rtah100

    The Seamus Heaney article is weird. The dateline is 2018 and he died in 2013.

    The gilets jaunes, American Conservative Syrexit and class not identity articles are superb. Ending the year on a high note.

  39. Jessica

    About “Political Apology of a Lingerie Model Politics Slash Letters”
    Because capitalism cannot actually run the kind of knowledge-driven economy that industrial capitalism created the foundation for, we are still running mostly under the rules of late industrial monopoly capitalism. Society now is like a full-grown woman trapped inside a corset that was cruel, but at least kind of sort fit when we were maybe 14, but now we are 22 and our body is warped from years of this. But we live on a planet on which all leading societies are trapped in this corset, so we can only know something different in our imaginations. This is why imagination is so crucial to positive change nowadays.
    Three aspects of this warping are:
    1) Financialization
    2) Funding and therefore domination of knowledge creation and distribution through advertising
    3) Media paid not paid to enlighten us, to help us become wiser and more compassionate, but to grab our attention by any means possible, which often means triggering our lizard brain and bringing out our worst.
    In the past, industrial capitalism was contradictory enough, but in creating a system powered by knowledge but in which media and other knowledge institutions don’t even have enough relationship with reality to be false, post-industrial capitalism has raised this to a new level.
    The pen is mightier than the sword, but money is far mightier than the lash of any whip.

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