Links 1/1/19

The secret to champagne’s universal appeal is the physics of bubbles Ars Technica

Rise of carbon dioxide–absorbing mountains in tropics may set thermostat for global climate Science

The Top Ten Weather and Climate Events of 2018 Weather Underground

Electricity Use Was Up Last Year, But Why? Bloomberg

Lessons from history on the dangers of blind trust in data FT

The Rise and Fall of Carlos Ghosn NYT

Brazil to inaugurate far-right firebrand Bolsonaro president Reuters

Brexit

UK ‘can turn a corner’ if MPs back Brexit deal, says May RTE

May launches fresh diplomatic blitz on EU leaders as No10 admits she STILL hasn’t managed to get concessions to help sell her Brexit deal to MPs Daily Mail

Brexit: Corbyn warns of ‘complete mess’ in new year message BBC

There must be more to public policy than Brexit FT

Brexit Does Not Matter Simon Johnson, Project Syndicate. The UK is the world’s fifth-largest national economy…

A ranking of the 15 very worst properties we spotted on the Dublin rental market in 2018 Daily Edge (PD).

Macron terms yellow vest leaders ‘hateful mob’ in combative New Year’s address Telegraph

Slowly but surely, Germany is attracting the skilled workers it needs Handelsblatt Today

Syraqistan

Is Revolutionary Fervor Afire—Again—in Tunisia? The New Yorker

Syria – ‘Country Of The Year’ 2018 Moon of Alabama

Trump, Syria, and his minders: A yearend surprise. Patrick Lawrence. Lawrence writes for The Nation.

C.I.A.’s Afghan Forces Leave a Trail of Abuse and Anger NYT. I don’t see how we’ll train up the next generation of CIA leadership if we don’t allow war crimes and atrocities.

When Jewish Leaders Decide To Harass College Kids — To ‘Support’ Israel Forward

North Korea

4 ideas from NKorean leader Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s speech AP

Thread on South Korea:

Samsung mulls slowing expansion of chip facilities in 2019 The Korea Herald

Bangladesh poll landslide raises democracy fears: analysts Agence France Presse

China?

Prepare for another roller-coaster year of global brinkmanship South China Morning Post

China 2018 movie box office revenue growth slows Reuters

Schools in China introduce ‘smart uniforms’ with GPS chips to track students’ movements and stop napping Independent

New Cold War

US citizen arrested in Moscow on spying charges FT

Can Silicon Valley Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Pentagon? Foreign Policy

Trump Transition

Democrats maneuver to end shutdown, without Trump wall money Reuters

Jim Webb for defense secretary The Week

US Spies Want to Know How to Spot Compromised AI Defense One

A Holiday Mystery: Why Did John Roberts Intervene in the Mueller Probe? Politico. Also Sic Semper Tyrannis.

The One Issue the Left and Right Can Agree On Matt Stoller, The New Republic

Machine Politics Harpers

Democrats in Disarray

Elizabeth Warren Announces She Is Running for President in 2020 NYT

Warren’s 2020 agenda: Break up monopolies, give workers control over corporations, fight drug companies WaPo. More control.

The rise of Elizabeth Warren, the dust bowl radical New Statesman

A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta’ Nieman Journalism Lab

Health Care

Medicare for All – How Can We Pay for It? TRNN

Imperial Collapse Watch

2018’s Biggest Loser Was the Liberal International Order Walter Russel Mead, Outline

Command responsible for country’s nukes tweets, then deletes, video of bombs dropping in New Year’s message (video) WAFB

Black Achilles Aeon

What to expect in 2019: science in the new year Nature

The Master Recycler NYRB. Bach.

Antidote du jour (via):

And a bonus antidote (MR):

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.

193 comments

    1. John Beech

      Could it be because 5th century solutions work, and that’s not convenient for the narrative? I don’t claim to understand the politics beyond, ‘anything Trump wants must be opposed – even if I am on video supporting the same idea’.

      Me? I’m waiting for the day some enterprising staffer puts a camera in the President’s toilet so the headlines can proclaim . . . ‘Trumps wipes wrong!’

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        because 5th century solutions work

        Except that they don’t. See the Forward BDS link above as an example of how trying to control behavior through primitive means is just as likely to create the opposite of what you intend.

        Reply
        1. Fjolsvith

          How many refugees that have just walked a thousand miles will have the ability to climb a 40 ft spike wall?

          Reply
      2. JacobiteInTraining

        History pedant here – the 5th Century, at least AD and in Europe, is probably the 2nd worst example of ‘the effectiveness of walls’ you could pick. (short of the Great Wall of China and the wild northern steppe tribes)

        Walls, whether man-made or natural, proved to be incredibly ineffective barriers to migrating populations. When a population was determined to cross, they crossed. For all the time and resources spent building, staffing, and maintaining such things in the centuries previous, the ‘walls’ themselves were – in the event – largely only symbolic and provided a mere speed bump to the passage of determined tribes.

        In this context, a far better vignette with which to really understand and study for its impacts would be the motivations of Fritigern and the Goths….and the duplicity and venality of Lupicinus et al – and how that led to the chain of events that (far from fortifying a tottering and ossified Empire) instead, brought about its final ruin.

        (Hint: The disaster at Adrianople was entirely an own-goal.)

        Reply
        1. Lee

          Whenever the topic of migration without borders comes up, I contemplate and usually post this map:
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Migration_Period#/media/File:Invasions_of_the_Roman_Empire_1.png

          Since I am of European descent, of the Anglo-Celtic persuasion, it is self evident that some of my ancestors survived this period. However, I’m not sure I have whatever they had that enabled them to do so.

          The idea of being overrun or otherwise displaced or replaced by people who see me as an obstacle to their advancement is not a happy prospect, whether they be the privileged of my own country or those fleeing from elsewhere. Those of us dangling between inadequately fettered capitalism above and labor arbitrage at home and abroad below, have quite a different attitude toward borders, whether secured by walls or other means, than either of the former two groups.

          Reply
          1. Richard

            “The idea of being overrun or otherwise displaced or replaced by people who see me as an obstacle to their advancement is not a happy prospect”
            I’m not arguing with the idea that you’re contemplating, which is basically a lot like having a feeling – we’re most of us precarious and I imagine we all have pretty similar feelings about it. But I do think you strawman migrators in general by assuming they see you or anyone in a more settled situation as an “obstacle to their advancement”. Or even that they have done so historically. I think that suggests an inverted power dynamic; in most cases migrators are the weaker party, often seeking not advancement but simply shelter and protection. In such situations, I think it’s likely that you’d try to see other people as potential resources and allies. In most cases, you’d hardly be in a position to see them as obstacles. Just my 2 cents.

            Reply
            1. Lee

              I see illegal immigrants in my area and in trades in which I used to make a living as for the most part as decent, hard working people who objectively function as wage-lowering, union busting competitors. As far as I can tell, most show no interest in organizing, no doubt because of their illegal status, that allows their super-exploitation by employers. And the problems with simply granting anyone who can get across the border with legal status should be obvious. Why should the U.S. be different in this regard from say Canada, or any other number of other countries where you or I may not so easily obtain legals status?

              While I don’t hold illegal immigrants particularly responsible for this state of affairs, I do want those who run my country to be on my side of the issue. That is, to protect the gains that labor has made over many years and generations within the context and confines of the nation state and local jurisdictions from being further undermined. Now, if we had some sort of international labor organization that provided an adequate answer to globalized capital, this contradiction within the working class might be better, more humanely addressed. But we don’t. So, for the time being, the name of the game would be for workers to focus on more localized power centers to maintain and promote whatever advantages they can. To lose those limited advantages is to cede even more power to capital and I don’t see this ending well for any of us.

              Reply
              1. Unna

                Canada, as far as I can see, is a “show me your papers” kind of place. Only polite. Want to send your kids to public school? Need Canadian birth certificate or Canadian government issued photo ID, ie, your Permanent Resident Card and the kid’s Permanent Resident Card. Need a driver’s license? Same photo ID. Need a BC Health Care Card? Same ID. Want to get a job? Need to show ID and a Social Insurance Number Card (SIN Card…) which means you are legal.
                The New Democrats in Ontario last election ran on making Ontario a “sanctuary province” and they lost big to the Conservatives led by Doug Ford who makes Trump look like an articulate socially refined intellectual. Ford ran against Trudeau and Trudeau’s Liberal government’s “irregular” asylum seekers policy and Ford won big in the LEGAL immigrant communities in and around Toronto. The NDP’s virtue signalling didn’t win them the votes of so called “New Canadians” or of Canadians who are “visible minorities”.

                Reply
              2. Richard

                Thanks for your response. I think I understand your points, and just to be clear, I’m no advocate of unregulated borders. It’s true that all the gains workers have made over the last century have taken within the borders of nations, not across them, and that this pattern can’t be expected to change in the forseeable future. That said, I may have a different perspective as a public school teacher. For one thing, my livelihood isn’t in jeopardy due to migrant workers. Also, I work closely with children from migrant communities.
                I don’t have any good answers for this, obviously. Fear of and dehumanization of “the other” frightens me, and probably you as well. The constant downward pressure on wages and working conditions frightens me as well.

                Reply
            2. Carey

              Richard: I value your comments.

              The “migrators” you speak of do not act alone. Alone, they would
              indeed be weak, but I think you are *not mentioning the class
              that enables/encourages them* to move, and, deliberately, drive down wages and working conditions for all.

              Reply
              1. Richard

                Thank you Carey. I agree, but the class you speak of is always conveniently invisible in these debates. The neocons who push regime change, and force migrations. The drug warriors who have created narco-billionaires, every bit as much as the neocons created islamic jihadists. The politicians who passed NAFTA, and destroyed Mexican family farming in the process. If every time, when we brought up issues of immigration and how they impact ordinary people, we mentioned these “class pressures” as well, I would be pleased.
                Well, more pleased.

                Reply
          2. VietnamVet

            From the map, the Goths appear to come from Ukraine. Seems to me that it is really dumb-ass move for Europe to be promoting neo-Nazis in an ongoing trench war in the homeland of the conquerors of Latin Rome.

            Reply
        2. Massinissa

          Walls DO work… When you have an army permanently on top of them. Hadrian’s Wall worked for two centuries that reason. When the Romans abandoned Britain it stopped working.

          Garrisoning something like the Great Wall of China is an effort in futility. There was never a real way to keep anyone from crossing. All you needed was some ladders for a few men to get on the walls and open the gates with. Small groups of men on the wall could be dispatched or bribed. The Great Wall was really just a great waste of stone and manpower, seeing as how manning the thing was essentially impossible.

          If Israel wants those walls to work, I hope they’re willing to have them manned forever, which would mean an eternal Israeli Palestinian conflict… Though considering that is also a thing anyway, maybe the wall is an effective tactic for them.

          Reply
          1. Not From Here

            Fiction that Great Wall Failed, it was extremely effective during Ming Dynasty, the Manchu only got through the gates after 4 years trying when they were opened by the garrison , after negotiations. The garrison commander feared the domestic rebel army, which had just sacked Beijing, more than the Manchu.

            Reply
          2. The Rev Kev

            Walls do work but only after a fashion. They are meant to delay an enemy long enough so that troops and weaponry can be brought up to defend any section under attack. They have the advantage of working along interior lines which means that if you are behind a walled town, it is easy to transfer troops from one part of the wall to the other. When you are outside the walls, you have to move your troops in a large circle around those same walls while being under observation at the same time.
            The trouble is that when you go for walls, you are already on the defensive. Rome did not have great walls for centuries as it was growing and confident behind its Legions. Then came a point as growth almost ceased and problems started stacking up that Rome lost confidence and so surrounded itself with a massive series of walls.
            There is another side effect of walls. When you go for walls, you not only lock out any possible enemies but you have effectively locked yourself in. You can become a virtual prisoner behind them and it does not matter if you are talking about a house or a city or a country, the net effect is the same.

            Reply
          3. redleg

            Since walls must be manned to be effective, it makes no sense to build a wall when the same security resources will be necessary If the wall of there or not.

            Reply
    2. rob

      I think what needs to happen in isreal is that the UN ought to supply the troops to gaurd the checkpoints around isreal. If the isreali’s are so afraid of the palestinians, in and around the areas they illegally and otherwise occupy, they OUGHT to be protected. And by releasing the isrealis from having to police their own stolen properties,from the people they stole it from;they can focus on prosecuting the corrupt actors in their own body politic,like netanyahu.
      This will also protect the palestinians from the demeaning ritual of needing to be “allowed” to move around in their own home.. It will also protect the palestinians from the arbitrary execution of police state tactics whenever deemed useful. The isreali’s also ought to be removed from having any control over funds that belong to the palestinians, since they are as bad at distributions in a timely manner as the US gov’t is in regard to monies owed to native american populations.

      Reply
      1. KB

        There is also a newer wall between Egypt and Israel due to illegal immigrants arriving from Northern Africa that most are referring to.

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          The immigrants with dual citizenship arriving from Russia and Central Europe and ‘stans and other White places, to take advantage of thelooting opportunities in Eretz Israel, are of course “legal” thanks to who runs the place.

          And I keep reading in the Likudnik press about all those tunnels that the impulses to trade and migrate generate, dug below those walls and fences. Like the engineered tunnels that penetrate the southern US border.

          There is no ICE in “futility.”

          Reply
      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        This doesn’t address the ghettoization of the Arab population and the expansion of settlements. Control of resources and so forth. A two state solution if I’m being optimistic died in 2006 with Sharon’s stroke (he was dismantling settlements and had the standing with the right to keep dogs like Bibi on a leash) and if I’m being pessimistic 1995. Clinton had no interest in a peace process or learning from Carter’s Camp David experience, just claiming credit for the Oslo Accords, so the whole 2000 peace process was a farce.

        Never mind appropriations or the population of Palestinians who magically appeared in Western Jordan in 1948.

        As long as Bibi is there, the Israeli interests are represented by a known snake.

        Reply
        1. noonespecial

          Re: “ghettoization of the Arab population and the expansion of settlements.”

          To indict, or not to indict a prime minister? It may not even matter insofar as the US posture and support of that nation.

          The needle on the record for US support does not skip a beat. Soldier-man-child Pomps assures the world that, “Trump’s decision [Syria], ‘…in no way changes anything that this administration is working on alongside Israel…The counter-ISIS campaign continues, our efforts to counter Iranian aggression continue and our commitment to Middle East stability and the protection of Israel continues in the same way it did before that decision was made.’”

          https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-01/pompeo-says-u-s-still-committed-to-israel-despite-syria-move?srnd=premium

          The distorted protection racket will continue and so will the ghettoization:
          The Central Drug Store in Gaza supplies all 14 MoH hospitals (2,243 beds) and 49 MoH primary healthcare clinics (PHC) in Gaza. These health facilities provide 40% of Gaza’s primary healthcare…According to Gaza’s Central Drug Store, at the end of November [2018], 39% were at less than one month’s supply (200 essential medicines out of the total 516 essential medicines list) at the MoH store in Gaza.” (from a recent WHO report)
          http://www.emro.who.int/images/stories/palestine/documents/WHO-Health-Cluster-Special-SitRep-_4_-_17_Dec2018_.pdf?ua=1

          Reply
      3. nippersdad

        My favorite Sykes-Picot styled resolution of the problem (meaning it may cause more problems than it fixes):

        Set off a thermo-magnetic bomb over Israel to kill their electronics. Invade. Make Jerusalem a world park, administered by the UN. Take a hatchet to the map of Israel, effectively cutting it in half exclusive of Jerusalem and then resettle all of the Israelis on the half next to Egypt, with the Palestinians getting the northern half next to Syria. We then give the new state of Palestine the thirty five billion annually that we have been giving to the Israelis to defend themselves from the Netanyahoos and we get all of the illegal nuclear ordinance we are not supposed to know about for our pains. One less nuclear armed state in a volatile area.

        After fifty years of endless handwringing I think this would be a pretty effective way of getting the problem fixed and finally taking it off of our radar. It would be a good pit stop for the troops/mercenaries on the way home and it would give the AIPAC folks something to hyperventilate about other than boycotts.

        The world would get a free Jerusalem religious theme park, the Palestinians would get a lot of nice, improved, real estate and the Israelis would get a taste of their own karma. The potential for war crimes tribunals may come in handy as a stick in the aftermath, few carrots are envisioned. If God’s chosen people cannot manage to get along with others they need to be sidelined, much like our own neconservatives when one comes to think about it.

        I’m pretty sure that Vladimir Putin didn’t beam this idea into my head, as I have had it since before he was elected President of the Russian Federation, but the capabilities that are attributed to him these days are pretty awesome……….

        Reply
      1. rob

        are republicans any less hypocritical? both parties are criminal enablers.and they always vote to keep funding going.and no party cares if isreal is a net liability.

        Reply
        1. PhilK

          The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can “throw the rascals out” at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy.

          Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time

          I’m unsure of Quigley’s own viewpoint here, whether he agrees or is merely setting forth the views of the PTB of his time, but this certainly seems to be the operational theory of those that control the current parties.

          Reply
        2. PhilK

          The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can “throw the rascals out” at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy.
          Carroll Quigley, “Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time”

          I’m unsure of Quigley’s own viewpoint here, whether he agrees or is merely setting forth the views of the PTB of his time, but it seems to be the operational theory of the people that control the current US parties.

          Reply
  1. JTMcPhee

    So you got the Catholic Church structure and hierarchy that has provided a safe place for one kind of not-nice humans to live their dreams of man-boy and abusive experience. The larger social order foots the bills and tries to palliate the damage, while the perps get relocated, mostly free of consequences.

    And you got the Central Intelligence Agency, that provides a safe place for the Haspels and Jack Bauers, different kinds of not-nice people, to live out their lusty grim fantasies. And get covered for and relocated in event of exposure. And the larger social order also foots the bills, and might try to palliate the damages.

    Bigger scale, neoliberals and neocons are drawn to infest the upper strata of power and wealth, where they do truly magnificent horrors (from the mopes’ perspective,) mostly immune to consequences. And many of the rest of us try to clean up, and palliate the effects.

    Is there a pattern here?

    Maybe it’s just some kind of inevitability, rooted in our limbic systems and a drive to dominate and take pleasure, wherever one can?

    Reply
    1. DJG

      JT McPhee: Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

      In the Catholic church, the male-dominated clergy thought that some biblical verses about Jesus’s pals all being male would save them, much as the deluded Saint Paul thought that telling women to cover their heads and shut up during services was a great idea and not some reflection of a cultural complex. The continuing crisis of monotheism. The continuing blowback of radical dualism.

      The intelligence community? The same sort of mystification, secret handshakes, and extension of privilege to the “right kind” of people. Saint Paul would have understood. They had absolute power, and look at what it did to them. Now we are an era of carreerist torture apologists. At least Franco’s pals were vulgar brutes, true to form, instead of dressed up in jackets and pantsuits. The continuing blowback of those who think that their well-scrubbed exteriors somehow don’t reveal to the rest of us the rot within.

      Reply
  2. tegnost

    hmm…electricity use up last year but no mention of the amazon/nsa/google/facelook data storage and processing centers? Sure thing , electric cars and bitcoin…….I’ll remain a skeptic on this one, kind of like a push poll or the standard holiday fare of the msm planting articles to provide cover at the dinner table for the mansplainers

    Reply
      1. Lee

        To explain in a patronizing manner as when one adult explains something to another adult as if the latter were a child, or a person of lesser intelligence. Mansplaining refers specifically to instances when a man adopts a patronizing manner when explaining something to a woman, particularly when that explanation implicitly or explicitly reinforces an existing male dominated power structure.

        At least that’s what I think it means. Maybe I should ask a woman to explain it to me.

        Reply
  3. Wukchumni

    SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS, Calif. December 31, 2018 – Park officials announced today that several areas in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks closed effective 6 p.m. on Monday, December 31. The parks are being forced to take this action for health and safety concerns.

    The Generals Highway closed this evening at Hospital Rock in Sequoia National Park. This closure extends through Giant Forest and Lodgepole, through to Lost Grove. The closure includes concession facilities at these locations including Wuksachi Lodge and other concession and partner operations. Trash receptacles are overflowing, resulting in litter dispersal throughout the area and a threat to wildlife. Vehicular congestion, motor vehicle accidents, and icy roadways have led to up to three hour delays on the Generals Highway.

    It is likely these closures will remain in effect for the duration of the government shutdown.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Leaving some National Parks open during the shutdown with no services is showcasing what slobs we are when left to our own devices, kind of a precursor to what would happen if similar services we depend on in our everyday life, weren’t there.

    Heard it was a bit of a madhouse up in Sequoia NP the last few days, so many cars that NPS law enforcement went to only letting a vehicle into the NP-as one came out, and a number of icy road auto accidents in the higher climes, with trash strewn all over.

    I’ve been reading similar sagas in other NP’s that are open.

    Reply
  4. The Rev Kev

    “Thread on South Korea”

    Well those data points certainly give a completely different picture to the one that I had of South Korea. I wonder too, from some of those points, whether it is a case of Seoul is sucking in the resources of South Korea in the same way that London does for the United Kingdom.

    Reply
    1. Andrew Watts

      That’s true about any core territory under centralized authority sucking up resources from the periphery. It equally applies to DC and every state capital is just as culpable. With regards to point #19, that’ll never happen as long as Washington continues the same policies it’s followed since the 90s. The North Koreans want a quid pro quo for any concessions they make and an end to the hostile posturing. That’s pretty much impossible while there’s no formal declaration to end the war and while sanctions are imposed on the North.

      Good news for the Chinese though.

      Reply
    1. nippersdad

      Agreed. And, really, I have never understood the appeal for these wars. It is not like any one of them, or even all of them put together, were ever to prevent an existential threat to our way of life. They have killed off whatever moral authority/soft power we had, which might represent a plus for some of our resident neoconservative sociopaths, but otherwise they never seemed to be much more than a black hole to throw money into; an excuse for not doing more fulfilling things.

      Where is the buy-in for the rest of us?

      Reply
      1. John Merryman.

        I suspect a primary motivation has been the excuse for the government to borrow up surplus capital and create the impression that capitalism works. It started with Reaganomics.

        Reply
        1. Hepativore

          I think part of the reason why we have not ended them is that since so much of our economy is now tied up with the military and private defense-related industries, it would be economic suicide. The neoliberal ideology that has dominated the worldview of the US since the late-1970’s spurred numerous outsourcing and free-trade booms has left military contractors being one of the few remaining “home-grown” sectors still within the US.

          Basically, these wars continue as a form of “military-Keynesianism”, as without them the US economy would completely tank as neoliberal ideologues and the FIRE sector have completely hollowed out everything else.

          Reply
          1. cnchal

            > . . . it would be economic suicide. . .

            You are describing a doom loop, with the outcome suicide or murder. It is extremely sickening that it’s all useless sword, with no plowshare.

            I think people should be paid for doing nothing, and one of the first groups that should apply to, is those that make and do stuff to kill people. Tax the crap out of the billionaires to pay for it.

            Reply
            1. Hepativore

              Oh, I agree…which is why I think that there should be a job guarantee program mixed with a basic income program. The job guarantee would be for people who are looking for work. As said work becomes less and less available due to automation, it could serve as a transitionary program to educate people and prepare them for a life of choosing what they want to do with their time instead of seeing employment as an end in of itself and basing their self-worth on it. Then the basic income would be for people who cannot work or do not want to work due to having interests that are not easily monetized and over the decades, the jobs guarantee program would slowly be phased out in favor if the basic income program.

              Taxing billionaires would certainly go a long way towards ameliorating wealth inequality, but there is also the huge problem of the wealthy hiding their assets overseas in accounts that are out of the jurisdiction of US law in order to make said assets tax exempt. Does anybody have an idea as to how to discourage or get around the practice of tax-avoidance through offshore bank accounts?

              Reply
              1. John Merryman

                Consider what would happen to Wall St, without those trillions of gov debt, sucking up surplus capital, that would otherwise be further inflating asset values, backing it with a public guarantee and paying a safe interest.
                Do you want to know what happens when the Fed can’t borrow up another trillion, or ten? Predatory lending/disaster capitalism comes home to roost, as our national home loan is called in and more public properties are “privatized.” I.E. Traded for those bonds and you have to pay tolls to get on the highway, or use water, or parks….

                Reply
                1. Grant

                  “Do you want to know what happens when the Fed can’t borrow up another trillion, or ten?”

                  Maybe I am missing something, entirely possible. What does the Fed borrow? Seems that the Fed has the capacity at all times to create money whenever it wants. Why would public debt be called in? Wouldn’t it being a group of people, in large numbers, trading in a form of money (a US bond, for example) that comes with next to no risk and pays interest for cash, which doesn’t accrue interest? What would lead to such a thing? Couldn’t the state not create any money it wanted to without taxing or issuing bonds? It does already, but has to issue bonds after deficits are created and after spending has been determined because of the Federal Reserve Act, and creating money through the Treasury can be done without issuing bonds or taxing. I realize that the Fed is not really public, but it is quasi public, no?

                  It seems to me that the banks are screwed in the end, not the state. The state has options as far as creating money, and I don’t see any obstacle for the state in regards to paying off debts, since we have the Treasury. Private banks creating credit money seems to be inherently unstable in ways that state money isn’t. Is a good portion of the public debt not in existence simply because of the particular way we have chosen to create most money, and because of what the Federal Reserve Act requires the national government to do when there is a deficit? If spending comes before taxation and the issuance of bonds, seems that the issuance of bonds really isn’t borrowing, especially when the spending is used to buy the bonds and to pay the taxes.

                  Again, maybe I am missing something in regards to your point, like the Fed’s connection to the actual state. Explain if you could.

                  Reply
              2. Biph

                Use the military, naval blockades and or invasions to get the money plus the cost of the operation to retrieve the money, then leave and let it be known it will be done again if necessary.

                Reply
          1. redleg

            Campaign contributions, contacts, consulting fees, and the revolving door. If your not In, it’s not for you.

            I shouldn’t have to explain this one.

            Reply
            1. nippersdad

              I got that, but my point was why do people vote for those who support such a financial black hole? What is in it for them?

              Reply
              1. Laughingsong

                Taking resources on the cheap, setting up in countries where the planted leadership protects your profits by suppressing regs and labor laws, controlling strategic areas for staging the next attack on the next target country that has more resources your corporate masters want to exploit, “rebuild”, sell weapons, etc. — I think Smedley Butler made the best explanation.

                Reply
    2. XXYY

      US military spending is perpetually and always exempt from “how will we pay for it” discussions.

      Dems who are proudly holding the line at $5 billion for Trump’s stupid but relatively innocuous Wall are invariably supportive of spending a hundred times this amount every year for materiel that leads to major war and death. This year legislators gave the Pentagon *more* than they asked for or wanted (the increase alone would have paid for a Sanders-type “free college” program, which is inevitably decried by all parties as being far too expensive to actually implement).

      Hopefully the population is starting to wise up a bit on this.

      Reply
    3. Grant

      The savings from adopting single payer alone could potentially pay for those things. I always wonder what the press is talking about in regards to the costs of the left’s ideas. When Tapper interviewed Ocasio-Cortez, for example, he threw out the 40 trillion number, as a price tag for her programs, over the next decade (?). But a price for who, or what? The cost of those programs for the state, or society? If we are thinking about society, the cost of single payer is the cost of that system, minus the cost of this system, right? If single payer costs less (which it would), then the “cost” of single payer to society is a negative number, it would represent societal savings, not a cost. If we are talking about the government, well, yeah, state expenditures would increase because we are using the state to pay for most or all services instead of the way we do it now in this chaotic mess of a system. If people in power want to pretend that deficits are a huge issue, it can be done in a revenue neutral way. Same goes for publicly funded higher education. You get a number on how much that would cost society, and subtract the costs of the present way of funding things. A net positive number is an actual cost; a net negative number represents societal savings. At most, many of these things would come with a small net cost, although since we would use the state, state expenditures would increase relative to GDP. Even in regards to cancelling student loan debt (Kelton co-authored a great study on the economics of student loan cancellation within the last year), the cost of doing so from the state’s perspective would be largely writing off debt, since most students owe money to the state. The remainder would be paid off, or written off. But whatever that cost is, say $1.5 trillion, we would also have to account for that number being at least partially negated in regards to the writing off of private debt. So, the cost to the federal government would go up, but there would be an offsetting reduction in private debt, and people would have a lot more money to spend on goods and services, which would generate all types of new taxes and economic activity. This is why the study co-authored by Kelton showed local governments benefiting fiscally from a student loan cancellation. People would have more disposable income, and would for many reasons pay more in taxes and generate lots of economic activity too.

      It seems that this whole thing exists far more in regards to environmental issues, since many of the benefits of a green New Deal would not have market values, and how exactly do you price in the benefit of saving human civilization? Let’s say we use the EPA’s value of a human life (I think 9 million or so). Do we use that number to calculate how many less people will die as long as our species is on the planet if we avoid the worst case IPCC scenarios? We have a species extinction rate that is thousands of times the natural rate. How do we put a price on the species that won’t go extinct? What’s the exchange value for an endangered beetle in Central America, whose role in the ecosystem we know nothing about? If the green New Deal costs x amount of dollars, how do we factor in the non-market benefits, in addition to the benefits of that deal that have actual market values? I trust Jake Tapper to really delve into this, LOL!

      Seems that the journalists, being kind, are never clear on what they mean by costs, and how they take into account a reduction in out of pocket expenditures. They aren’t clear, intentionally, about what they mean by the costs of a program. It makes no sense to just look at it in regards to the cost to the state, since there is an offsetting reduction in private expenditures. It is covered in that way for ideological and class reasons.

      Reply
  5. JEHR

    Re: Medicare for All – How Can We Pay for It?

    A sovereign government can pay for whatever service or goods that it chooses as long as it has the resources to do so. The U.S. is the richest country in the world, so what is preventing it from having healthcare for all? That is the question. If you can answer that then you have your answer as to why the U.S. does not have universal healthcare.

    Reply
    1. Darius

      We pay for the F-35 and kiddie concentration camps the MMT way. We can do the same with Medicare for All and other things that are actually useful.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        Littoral “Combat” Ship Ford-class carrier

        and on deck:

        B-21 SixthGen Fighter-plane

        so cool

        Seems like MIC criteria 1-5 are to design something that does not/will not/cannot work, then spend hundred of billions of dollars fixing™ it.

        It’s true that the FedGov can’t run out of money, per se, but “we” can run out of
        resources; looks like that’s the Plan, to me.

        Reply
        1. Unna

          From 1984 novel Wikipedia article on “Goldstein’s Book”:

          “Goldstein’s book explains that the purpose of the unwinnable, perpetual war is to consume human labour and commodities so that the economy of a superstate cannot support economic equality, with a high standard of life for every citizen. By using up most of the produced objects like boots and rations, the proles are kept poor and uneducated and will neither realise what the government is doing nor rebel.”

          The article adds: “The proles live in poverty and are kept sedated with alcohol, pornography….” If the book had been written today I’m sure Orwell would have added other diversions and consumables to that list.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            Opioids and iPhones perhaps? I had almost forgotten that passage from 1984. It makes a good comparison to what happened after WW2 when production was actually diverted into consumer goods leading to what is now being regarded as some sort of golden age. Actually, when I re-read that passage, it gets more and more disquieting. People have already made us of the term the Forever War with no end in sight with only expansion allowed and any retreat to be bitterly fought.

            Reply
            1. Unna

              1984 should be on every Secondary School reading list. Then read again in middle adulthood. At least that’s what I think. Hungar Games should be there too in it’s own weird way as far as YA novels go.

              Reply
        2. Carey

          Ahh, my formatting was not so good.

          Littoral “combat” ship
          Ford-class aircraft carrier

          and on deck:

          B-21 Bomber (cost not disclosed, “so as not to alert our adversaries”; some estimates of $575,000,000 per) and
          SixthGen™ fighter-plane (cost: who knows, and who’s counting?)

          rest stands

          M4A: how would we pay for it

          Reply
    2. meeps

      < TRNN Medicare For All—How Can We Pay For It?

      In addition to the valid concerns already raised in the NC comment thread, I’ll add these:
      It’s my understanding that M4A covers, without co-pays or deductibles, all medically necessary care. Yet it’s generally assumed that the entire medical insurance industry will be extinguished from existence. Wouldn’t a niche for vanity procedures remain? Things like elective, cosmetic breast augmentation? Certain of these cases, such as post-mastectomy breast restoration, would remain medically necessary as they are, indeed, restorative. M4A advocates should not ignore the reality that some portion of the medical insurance industry (and affiliated professionals) would remain because acknowledging a legitimate space for them reduces some of the threat these professionals would face in a transition.

      This interview sparked a lively discussion in my household over the value of perpetuating the revenue-to-pay-for M4A dilemma. My husband admits that, outside of our home, he knows not one person who understands that MMT is already operative and that taxes do not fund spending at the Federal level. In that light, leaving the lie operative is tempting because the bar to overcoming it is so high. On the other hand, both he and I have worked on healthcare-for-all propositions that were defeated (in part) because the public at large would not tolerate one more tax. So long as the working class pays high taxes (proportional to income) while the wealthy pay little to none, one can sympathize. It becomes difficult, then, to argue that a modest M4A tax represents a savings (sometimes significant) over private health insurance expenditures because the taxpayer already feels beset by iniquity.

      There was that old saying that the only thing sure was death and taxes. Part of the American electorate has developed a clear preference for one over the other. What can M4A campaigners say or do to connect with these people?

      Reply
    3. Monty

      Because “they” like it that health security is tied to employment. The precarious position of the American worker keeps everyone nice and scared and subservient.

      Reply
  6. Wukchumni

    How would the Junta del Este go about rectifying the mutiny of their bounty, if the President’s wishes aren’t more wishy-washy whims?

    Reply
    1. katiebird

      Great, she’s telling us to spend 8.5 of income on healthcare. That is a hige amount of a families income and she doesn’t seem at all aware of it.

      Even assuming that cap was real. In ACA 1.0, that cap only included people on the exchange. If a spouse was on Medicare, those premiums didn’t count. If someone in the family got employer insurance, that didn’t count….. Nothing in this story says that has been fixed. ( has it already been fixed?)

      Reply
      1. nippersdad

        The word “aspirational” for single payer came up too many times for me to think this plan is anything more than yet another piece of bailing wire to hold the muffler onto the old jalopy.

        I remember back in ’93 when they were debating these types of plans in Congress and people were saying that it was just a way of putting off single payer for another twenty years. It would seem that the game plan remains unchanged.

        Reply
        1. marym

          Dems need to be informed that something can’t be called “aspirational” or “incremental” if it moves in the opposite direction – in this case preserving private, for-profit insurance and expanding its reach. This seems more like ACA 1.00001 in terms of its actual “aspirations.”

          Reply
          1. Carey

            I hesitated to point it out, but the “insurance” trickery needs to be exposed at every turn, IMO. Health care is what we all need, as in
            all the non-exceptional countries.

            Reply
            1. katiebird

              I am glad you did. For me, it was a slip of the tongue But no one else would have reason to know that. I would have corrected it if you didn’t.

              Reply
        1. rob

          any one still pushing for health insurance of anykind, any percentage, anything other than true single payer, is a non starter.
          If that is warrens modus operandi, there will be no reason to vote for her. She will be just like the rest of the people who have no convictions worth standing up for.

          Reply
    2. Pat

      That’s some major triangulation going on there.

      I do find it interesting that it incorporates a couple of the controls that allow the original version of this so-called market universal system to function in Switzerland. Not enough, but some half hearted attempts. That and the attempt to portray it as an incremental step to Medicare for All since that is supposedly a step to far.

      Major political misstep number 2 for Warren. Allows for multiple points of attack from opponents and appears wish washy to possible supporters, and flat out tells them she doesn’t really care about the issue but knows voters do and wants a position that can morph as necessary depending on the audience.

      Reply
          1. BoyDownTheLane

            Veeps traditionally are in charge of those items the POTUS can’t be seen being involved in, like covert ops, off-the-books foreign policy/intervention, and black-bag campiagns. Does anyone really think she can handle that kind of thing? Her chances of success in any candidacy are arguably abvout one in 1,024.

            But she can come back to Boston and have some chowda. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ooBXRGGIms

            Reply
            1. lordkoosl

              Maybe in the Bush administration that was the case, but mostly VPs get to go to do stuff like attend foreign leaders’ funerals, meet with the boy scouts, and otherwise generally keep their mouths shut.

              Reply
          2. Big River Bandido

            The Vice-Presidency is mostly a worthless office; its only value is best summarized by its first occupant, John Adamn, who said “I am nothing, but I might be everything”. (The word “might” does an awful lot of work in that sentence.)

            Anyone who’s “endgame” is a powerless office is a political cipher, and a sorry excuse for a politician and public servant.

            Reply
      1. Joey

        Precisely why the new statesman hagiography made me nauseated. Her mutual embrace of neoliberal monoliths speaks the truth, which is that aspirations trump inspiration.

        Reply
      2. Darius

        She’s fighting the last war. Hillary and Chelsea in 2016 said Bernie wanted to dismantle Obamacare and leave people without healthcare, leaving out the Medicare for All stuff. Total misdirection and bad faith. Warren is trying in part to appeal to the Hillary grandees and demonstrate loyalty to Obama as it was defined by Hillary World in 2016. But, as Obama once said, she should be looking forward, not back.

        Reply
          1. Carey

            [snort!] how much should we laugh, though: Bubba did so well for the
            “other side” that they ran Bob effing Dole as token opposition.

            So twenty-four years later we have Warren and aspirational ACA 2.0,
            along with wars formerly undreamt?

            She’s going nowhere unless the fix is deeply in.

            Reply
    3. marym

      From the list in the post of supposed benefits:

      Require private insurance plans to spend 85 percent of the premiums they receive on paying out claims, up from 80 percent under the ACA currently

      From the text of the bill (PDF)

      SEC. 101. MEDICAL LOSS RATIO.
      Section 2718(b)(1)(A)(ii) of the Public Health Serv- ice Act (42 U.S.C. 300gg–18(b)(1)(A)(ii)) is amended by striking ‘‘80’’ each place it appears and inserting ‘‘85’’.

      This seems confusing. The ACA set the MLR for large market private insurance, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid Managed Care, and Medicare Part D at 85%. Only small market private insurance was set at 80%.

      Private insurance link

      Medicare Advantage Medicaid Managed Care and Part D from Congressional Research Services report (PDF)

      The ACA imposes separate MLR standards for Medicare Part D prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage Plans (MA), which are plans that provide private insurance options, such as managed care, to Medicare beneficiaries who are enrolled in both Medicare Parts A and B.20 Effective in 2014, the ACA requires coverage sold through these programs, with some exceptions, to achieve a minimum 85% MLR.

      In addition to confusing, this point is also, of course, thoroughly inadequate. Warren is also quoted as having tweeted that “there’s no reason private insurers can’t provide coverage that lives up to the high standards of our public health care programs[.]” The MLR for Medicare is generally calculated at about 3%.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith

        Thanks for this.

        Also, funny how no one mentions that the MLR for most private insurance was 90% in the 1990s, and with better coverage (wellie, the two would go together…). I have the same plan I did in 1987 (no typo). It was a mediocre at best plan then. It’s now a very very good plan by market standards.

        Reply
      2. marym

        Sorry to have garbled the presentation a bit – admin costs for Medicare are 2-3% – so equivalent MLR is around 97%.

        Reply
    4. Richard

      I watched her first presidential campaign ad yesterday, which failed to mention any policy ideas whatsoever. A big red flag, if you ask me. Now we get a policy idea, and what a loser. The Fiscal Times writer tries to give the impression that this is a “grownups in the room moment”, and while we are waiting for the “aspirational” fix of med4all, this will help people in need for now.
      What horse$%*&. Further life support for rentiers who stand between people and health care, would be a fair name for her bill.
      Med4All isn’t my aspiration. Its my right, and yours, and we need to stand up and claim it. If Liz Warren wants to be president, she needs to recognize that we are in that moment, not 1992 or 2008 or even 2016.

      Reply
    5. Craig H.

      > The rise of Elizabeth Warren, the dust bowl radical

      When Warren was born in 1949 I the dust bowl was already blown off.

      On the other hand the Peter Rowan song is almost as good and more positive than the wonderful if unmentionable Neil Young song.

      Dust Bowl Children

      Reply
    6. Brooklin Bridge

      I note in the article Sanders, among others, is co-sponsoring the billl,

      “[…]Democratic Sens. Sanders, Kamala Harris (CA), Maggie Hassan (NH), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and Tammy Baldwin (WI) are co-sponsoring the Warren bill, which means it has “total buy-in from the senators most likely to run on the more liberal side of the Democratic Party in the 2020 presidential nomination contest,” Bloomberg’s Jonathan Bernstein notes.”

      Reply
    7. ewmayer

      Pocahontas, healthcare mystic:
      “M4A not realistic!
      “We must support the ACA –
      “2.0 will save the day!
      “Your 8.5% unsurance tithe,
      “May make me look a smidgen blithe.
      “But you should harken, yes indeed,
      “To this wise old Cherokee!”

      Reply
    8. Lambert Strether Post author

      This is from March. When I saw it on the Twitter, I got the impression it was part of Warren’s campaign roll-out. Had it been, it would be a real kick in the teeth for #MedicarecareForAll. As it is, it’s merely bad (and bad in a bad way, if you see what I mean).

      Reply
  7. jfleni

    RE: The One Issue the Left and Right Can Agree On.

    Answer MONOPOLIES!! Just think; the only country which says that “Billy Boy”
    or sometimes “Apple Jack” is the only way to go online is a massive fraudulent
    monopoly. Think about the many choices we all make, from underwear to groceries, and then grovel to “Billy Boy” or “Apple Jack”. If you want to be freed
    from these clowns, consider totally FREE Linux.

    Reply
  8. pjay

    Re ‘C.I.A.’s Afghan Forces Leave a Trail of Abuse and Anger’

    It always surprises me when the NYT publishes an article like this that provides a glimpse of reality against the usual wall of obscurantism. The comments were also interesting in that the majority clearly recognized this as an old story going on for over half a century. Makes me wonder why such an article appeared at this moment, especially when it could be taken as supporting Trump’s comments about withdrawing troops.

    Of course there were passages like this:

    “The dilemma is this: The C.I.A. needs to fight its wars in the shadows,” said Karl Eikenberry, a former commander of American forces in Afghanistan who later served as the United States ambassador to Kabul. “But when the U.S. also takes on the mission of state-building, then the contradictions between the two approaches — stealth, black ops, and non-transparency vs. institution building, rule of law, and accountability — become extraordinarily difficult to resolve, and our standing as a nation suffers.”

    This would certainly be true — if “state-building” was actually a goal in Afghanistan (or Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, etc.) rather than Balkanization.

    Nevertheless, it would be nice to see the New Year begin with more of this type of discussion in the MSM.

    Reply
    1. cj51

      re: state building
      The only thing I have read that makes a tiny bit of sense is that the US military is trying to maintain a large base of operations in Afghanistan as its’ location is strategically positioned in the middle of Iran, Russia and China, which would be an advantage in a military conflict. No real state building. I don’t know where I first heard this opinion but the following link says stuff that is similar to what I have previously read:
      https://theiranproject.com/blog/2018/12/26/us-sees-china-russia-and-iran-as-key-players-in-afghanistan/

      Why is Trump saying he wants to pull troops out of Afghanistan? Who knows. Maybe Putin asked him to. I think the Times article is just reporting the news, as Trump has gone off about Syria and Afghanistan recently, with a more in-depth look at Afghanistan.
      The US Military will probably continue to do what they want in Afghanistan because Trump doesn’t read his security briefs (snark, but only half-snark).

      Reply
      1. pjay

        Call me jaded, but in my view it is rare that the Times is “just reporting the news” on a topic like this. Rarer still is a story where the CIA is actually the identified bad guy! Usually the “unnamed sources” get their assets — I mean reporters — to blame the regular military for some FUBAR condition. That was what really drew my attention. But these are strange days.

        Reply
      2. JTMcPhee

        How long would the Imperial military, based in Notagainistan, survive at the end of that 6 or 8,000 mile supply line? What “doctrine” and strategic and tactical wet dreams do those Global Networc-Centric Battlespace Managers float through their sugarplum heads, when playing RISK! on their real-time operational screens, as they simulate their infinite scenarios and fight the last war with their effing knack for losing and their vast Armageddonist bias toward first use of nukes.

        Reply
      3. dk

        The other thing about Afghanistan is that it has some rich minerals in them thar mountains.

        Difficult to get them out of the ground with current tech, and also to transport over those mountains, but… they’re there.

        Afghanistan has over 1400 mineral fields,[1][2][3] containing barite, chromite, coal, copper, gold, iron ore, lead, natural gas, petroleum, precious and semi-precious stones, salt, sulfur, talc, and zinc, among many other minerals.[1][4] Gemstones include high-quality emerald, lapis lazuli, red garnet and ruby. According to a joint study by The Pentagon and the United States Geological Survey, Afghanistan has an estimated US$3 trillion[5] of untapped minerals.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mining_in_Afghanistan

        US$3 trillion? The referenced article doesn’t give that figure, but it does review the Pentagon in 2010 re-discovering “there’s gold-like stuff in them thar hills!”
        https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/afghanistans-resources-could-make-it-the-richest-mining-region-on-earth-2000507.html
        The question being, they didn’t know?

        Reply
  9. oh

    The Rise and Fall of Carlos Ghosn

    Ghosn set a precedent in Japan by firing workers at Nissan. The workers had nothing to do with the mismanagement of the company that sent them to the brink of disaster. As usual “the punishment of the innocent” strikes again.

    The comment by Ghosn rich kid “Over 19 years, the company put these things in place to maximize his productivity,” his eldest child, Caroline Ghosn, 31, said in an interview.” Yeah, maximize his wealth is more like it!

    Reply
  10. ChrisAtRU

    #My1stCommentOf2019 #Yay

    On Warren Throwing Her Hat In The Ring

    There’s a part of me which imagines that Elizabeth Warren really regrets endorsing #HRC over Bernie. That part of me also wants to believe that Warren’s presidential “run” is less about her “going all the way” and more about totally [FamilyBlogOtherWordForRooster]-blocking any attempt by #HRC to actually “run”. Per Lambert’s theory of a deadlocked/brokered convention (under 2020) where super delegates get to vote – and could punt the nomination to #HRC waiting in the wings – I think Warren could be a hedge against that sort of chicanery. I think she’d be vocal about any underhandedness – don’t forget, little over a year ago, she was conceding in front of TV cameras that the Dem primary was rigged (although, yes, the obligatory “can’t say nothing bad about the Clinton’s” walk-back came a week later). It would be different in 2020 IMO – well at least I hope. Further, even if she doesn’t make it all the way to the convention, I think she would be immensely more open to giving an endorsement to Bernie this time around. Whether such an endorsement would actually move delegates/votes would be another thing, but at least it would constitute an opportunity to right 2016’s slight.

    #FeelFreeToShootThisDownWithNerfBalls … ;-)

    Reply
    1. anon y'mouse

      the endless problems begin when we start saying “Soandso probably really regrets…” “I bet he feels this:…” “X is a narcissist delusional twat”. you should be doubtful you know with any certainty what the person you live with every day thinks and feels, much less how that affects what they do.

      none of that matters. what matters is that Warren doesn’t really support M4All and a bunch of other things. she’s a republican who had to rebrand herself to get elected, because the countries political parties turned rightward.

      let her get an appointment to Treasury or Justice or the SEC or somewhere.

      Reply
    2. JohnnyGL

      Not necessarily disagreeing with your idea, it’s possible.

      But, judging by her fundraising prowess and how she’s been spreading the love and ‘building relationships’ with public officials around the country, she’s clearly aiming to have some influence, even if she can’t win the nomination (and I don’t think she can). She’s probably aiming to get treasury sec or better in a future Dem Party admin, regardless of who wins the nomination.

      She’d, of course, prefer to have at least a strong showing to show she can bring something to the table. She might be able to win a few of the wealthier blue states along the east coast.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/elizabeth-warren-builds-expansive-democratic-campaign-effort-ahead-of-likely-2020-bid/2018/10/14/45f3a0ae-ce5f-11e8-a360-85875bac0b1f_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.e78c3949cd67

      https://www.opensecrets.org/members-of-congress/summary?cid=N00033492&cycle=2018&type=C

      Reply
      1. ChrisAtRU

        … and I totally agree with yours. It’s not a mutually exclusive set of Warren outcomes necessarily. Like you, I don’t believe she can win, so for me, the question is: what does she do with her leverage?

        I’d prefer to see Stephanie Kelton as Treasure secretary, though … ;-) #MMT

        #NiceShot

        Reply
  11. Wukchumni

    Capybaras seem like stunted cows, in a baby corn from the salad bar versus a full size corn on the cob comparison, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    I’ve never encountered an animal soaking in a hot spring in my wanderings aside from us sapiens. The wild burros @ Saline hot springs drink from them, but never go in.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      You would not encounter them on your travels, but there are also the famous monkeys in Japan who hang out in hot springs.

      The animals that like to swim (certain hunting dogs, tigers), have enough fat and a dense enough coat that the typically cold water doesn’t phase them, so I can image they’d roast in a hot spring.

      Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      Even though some of us have adapted to the North, we’re still essentially tropical animals – like the capybaras.

      Reply
  12. nippersdad

    Maybe I have become too cynical, but this looks like a retirement plan for congressional neolibs worried about an invasion of Ocasio-Cortez’s. It doesn’t seem like Betsy Duke has done much for the governance of Wells Fargo, and such companies being “focused like laser” on Congress sounds ominous.

    https://www.politico.com/story/2019/01/01/house-democrats-corporate-diversity-1040900

    Alternate title: “For When K Street Can’t Hold Them All.” More diversity in management is a good aim, but would a herd of transgendered Erica Holders actually promote improved corporate responsibility? Wells Fargo should have its’ charter revoked, not be openly having a jobs fair in the halls of Congress.

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      I view this the way I view Pelosi and the Dems advocating for women and POC in Wall Street/Private Equity and other prominent positions.

      They want to groom/create future fundraising opportunities from people who will feel they owe them. With Team Dem, it’s ALWAYS about fundraising.

      Reply
  13. JohnnyGL

    The ‘ask a Korean’ thread was good and also had some curveballs in it.

    I did not expect to hear that Amercian R&B composers had found work in K-Pop. Bizarre how the melodies sound like American R&B used to sound back, when, you know, it didn’t suck!

    Reply
    1. Jeff W

      There’s always a lot of “cross-pollination” between the US artists and the Korean artists and the R&B element is pretty robust in K-pop music.

      I’m no expert in K-pop but I think there’s always been a strong influence of American pop music on Korean popular music. (Lee Moon-sae’s 1985 빗속에서 [In the Rain] is evocative of Sam Cooke’s 1963 “Bring It on Home to Me,” for example, for me, anyway.) But the generally accepted start of “modern K-pop” is dated pretty precisely to 11 April 1992 when the unknown Seo Taiji and the Boys appeared on MBC’s Saturday night talent show. The judges were shocked by—and didn’t know what to make of—the group’s rap sound, awarding the group last place. But the audience loved it and Seo Taiji and the Boys changed Korean popular music forever.

      Reply
  14. Wukchumni

    Command responsible for country’s nukes tweets, then deletes, video of bombs dropping in New Year’s message (video)
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Why is when something ‘bombs’ in anything other than military parlance-say the theater or film, it signifies that it was no good, a wasted effort?

    Reply
  15. barefoot charley

    The Biggest Wildfires list provokes much thought. The worst one with at least 1200 to 2500 fatalities, called the Peshtigo Fire though it covered more than 1800 square miles of cutover North Woods in Wisconsin, fanned up the same night as the Chicago Fire, for the same reasons: strong winds following summer drought. The Chicago Fire killed at least 300 people, which by the ranking system used should have deserved listing, but more striking is that 4 out of 5 of the last century’s biggest fires took place in that North Woods cutover country on either side of Lake Michigan, where forests were decimated like buffalo and shipped to cities like Chicago, leaving whole counties of slash behind, to burn uncontrolled.

    Also, firestorms like California’s recent horrors on the edges of Santa Rosa and Redding also were observed back then throwing railcars and tracks hundreds of feet. Cities and cars burn hotter than forests, though wind-fanned forest fires by themselves can create firenados. The almost inconceivable ecological dislocation hot on the heels of continental genocide goes on. I also learn that death tolls from several of the great fires are gross estimates, not only because whole towns with their records were destroyed, but because no one had any notion how many ‘bush Indians’ might be living in the rubble of their lost lands.

    Reply
  16. jsn

    The “Holiday Mystery” piece in Politico is a wonderful bit of DC-kremlinology.

    We need a good Americanized version of “kremlinology”, but if our system has a real symbolic center, it’s so secret I don’t know what it’s called!

    Reply
    1. DJG

      jsn: The country not mentioned that would get special preference is Israel.

      The Forward article on the vast sums of money being spent on intimidating college students is a must-read. Meddling in U.S. elections, anyone?

      The operative paragraph >

      “The Israelis are… not quite understanding how things are done here, and certainly not understanding well that you can get American Jewry into trouble with their neighbors if you are not sensitive to the way things are legally done in the United States,” Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, told the Forward at the time.

      I suspect that Roberts was summoned to protect the Israelis. They may not know how things are done here–till they have to get certain things done their way.

      Reply
  17. georgieboy

    Re Harpers piece on propaganda wars-

    author Fred Turner (of Stanford, of course) includes this hilarious homage to the Zucker-Brat:

    Today, that sense of utopian mission persists throughout Silicon Valley. A month after Trump took office, Mark Zuckerberg laid out his social vision in a Facebook post entitled “Building Global Community.” Though only a few thousand words long, the document is every bit as ambitious as Wiener’s The Human Use of Human Beings. Like Wiener, Zuckerberg envisions a world in which individuals, communities, and nations create an ideal social order through the constant exchange of information—that is, through staying “connected.” “Our greatest opportunities are now global—like spreading prosperity and freedom, promoting peace and understanding, lifting people out of poverty, and accelerating science,” he wrote, sounding much like a representative of the Cold War–era State Department. “In times like these,” he continued, “the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us.”

    For Zuckerberg, as for much of the left today, the key to a more egalitarian society lies in the freeing of individual voices, the expression of different lived experiences, and the forming of social groups around shared identities. …

    What’s the book on Ol’ Fred having been paid, or getting paid soon, by Zuck or Cheryl? Of course, Turner happily wraps Margaret Mead and Franz Boas into his early storyline, so the fraud-alert is set on high.

    Reply
    1. How is it legal

      What to say, speaking of which:

      By Erin Brodwin at Business Insider, via SFGATE A group of Mark Zuckerberg-funded researchers is testing implantable brain devices as part of a $5 billion quest to end disease

      A less publicized component of the $5 billion program includes work on brain-machine interfaces, devices that essentially translate thoughts into commands. One recent project is a wireless brain implant that can record, stimulate, and disrupt the movement of a monkey in real time.

      In a paper published in the top-notch scientific journal Nature [1] on New Year’s Eve, researchers with a division of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative called the CZ Biohub detail a wireless brain device implanted in a primate that records, stimulates, and modifies its brain activity in real time, sensing a normal movement and stopping it immediately.

      Oh, the irony, Zuckerberg funding the blocking of disruption:

      Scientists refer to the interference as “therapy” because it is designed to be used to treat diseases like epilepsy or Parkinson’s by stopping a seizure or other disruptive motion just as it starts.

      Isn’t this special, anyone surprised that Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, et al, think we need brain implants to interact with computers and smartphones:

      The applications of brain-machine interfaces are far-reaching: … others aim to see them transform how everyone interacts with laptops and smartphones. Both a division at Facebook formerly called Building 8 as well as an Elon Musk-founded company called Neuralink have said they are working on the latter.

      Isn’t it well past the time that good intent should not automatically be ascribed to Scientists and Engineers (trigger alert for the illustration included in the article which appends the following excerpt):

      A brain device that changes behavior automatically

      In Muller’s paper, published on New Year’s Eve in the science journal Nature, she and a team of researchers from Berkeley and a medical device startup called Cortera detailed how they used a device they label the “Wand” to stop a monkey from doing a trained behavior. In this case, the behavior involved moving a cursor to a target on a screen using a joystick and holding the target there for a set period of time.

      A wireless Game Changer™, what’s not to despise about its predominant intent:

      “This device is game-changing in the sense that you could have a subject that’s completely free-moving and it would autonomously, or automatically, know” when and how to disrupt its movement, said Muller.

      Of course it’s DARPA funded, who suspected otherwise? Perfect for the soldier class and the masses:

      Muller is also the co-founder and chair of the board of Cortera, which has received grant funding from The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the National Institutes of Health. Her work on brain-machine interfaces is just one component of a broader set of projects under the CZ Biohub umbrella.

      [1] Gotta ‘love’ this description of the report at that link:

      A closed-loop and wireless 128-channel neuromodulation device enables electrical stimulation as well as artefact-free long-term recording of local field potentials in the brain of an untethered non-human primate.

      Perhaps Fred Turner, and our dear 26 year old, self described Libertarian leaning Patriot, and Oculus VR founder, Palmer Luckey – of today’s Can Silicon Valley Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Pentagon? link – should both be awarded the privilege of being the first untethered™ human primates to experience the brain implant’s game changing majesty.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        Hear here !! And throw in Mark, Jeffery, and Jack into that untethered mix while we’re at it, then we can call it All Good !

        Ok, so who will weld the joy stick ?? … Any takers … Bueller .. Bueller ….. Ok, you in the back row .. uh .. Mr. …. Lanier ?

        Reply
        1. How is it legal

          This paragraph (bolding mine),

          In Muller’s paper, published on New Year’s Eve in the science journal Nature, she and a team of researchers from Berkeley and a medical device startup called Cortera detailed how they used a device they label the “Wand” to stop a monkey from doing a trained behavior. In this case, the behavior involved moving a cursor to a target on a screen using a joystick and holding the target there for a set period of time.

          may have reminded some readers (as it immediately reminded me) of the infamous now – to many concerned with the well being of humanity – Renowned Pscyhologist™, Thought Leader™, and Ex-APA President, Dr Martin E.P. Seligman; known as the Founder of Learned Helplessness Research; and then, after that research, he’s now named the Father of Positive Psychology.™

          In my opinion, Learned Helplessness™ is a torture practise (as was the intitial research, to my mind) which corrupted STATES such as the US, and UK, have mastered “to a T, Tee, or Tea.” For one such example, see: WhenThey Decide to Get You, by Craig Murray, who wrote:

          As with Alex Salmond, some of the accusations against me were hideous – offering visas in exchange for sex, for example. They were so hideous that the mental anguish of not being permitted to take any normal steps to defend myself caused me a mental breakdown. I know what Salmond must be feeling. I received psychiatric treatment in St Thomas’ Hospital for a condition called “learnt helplessness” – meaning it was the dreadful experience of having things done to me which I was not permitted to take any normal steps to counter, which caused my clinical depression.

          Reply
        2. How is it legal

          Thanks for my first (and possibly the last) beaming smile of the New Year, polecat!

          Personally I’d suggest Jaron Lanier (still making Microsoft Bank, at least into 2018, if not currently), along with a long list of others, as one of the ‘guinea pigs’ if a longer list were to be made of those who should be the first to step up and Volunteer for a Brain Implant as the New Normality.

          I’m still not over my disgust at having forked out money for Lanier’s You Are Not a Gadget, for reasons too lengthy to fully discuss here; though certainly, the no doubt lucrative Microsoft Research employment (to this day, or at least to within the year 2018), and the slobbering for non virtual Virtual Reality™ were two of them.

          Reply
      2. How is it legal

        (I think this may have been snagged up somewhere in the Technocratic ‘ether,’ over three hours ago, at 7:25 PM [US] Eastern Standard Time, so I’m trying again – with the added bonus of correcting a few misspellings, and keyboard errors I had made while getting slightly plastered on the firt first horrid day of the already horrid New yEArt Year. I am only trying it again because I am still quite sober, certainly I’m sober enough to realize that this subject is very crucial to our current and future path, as human ‘primates’)

        This paragraph (bolding mine),

        In Muller’s paper, published on New Year’s Eve in the science journal Nature, she and a team of researchers from Berkeley and a medical device startup called Cortera detailed how they used a device they label the “Wand” to stop a monkey from doing a trained behavior. In this case, the behavior involved moving a cursor to a target on a screen using a joystick and holding the target there for a set period of time.

        may have reminded some readers (as it immediately reminded me) of the infamous now – to many concerned with the well being of humanity – Renowned Psychologist™, Thought Leader™, and Ex-APA President, Dr Martin E.P. Seligman; known as the Founder of Learned Helplessness Research; and then, after that research, he’s now named the Father of Positive Psychology.™

        In my opinion, Learned Helplessness™ is a torture practice (as was the initial research, to my mind) which corrupted STATES such as the US, and UK, have mastered “to a T, Tee, or Tea.” For one such example, see: WhenThey Decide to Get You, by Craig Murray, who wrote:

        As with Alex Salmond, some of the accusations against me were hideous – offering visas in exchange for sex, for example. They were so hideous that the mental anguish of not being permitted to take any normal steps to defend myself caused me a mental breakdown. I know what Salmond must be feeling. I received psychiatric treatment in St Thomas’ Hospital for a condition called “learnt helplessness” – meaning it was the dreadful experience of having things done to me which I was not permitted to take any normal steps to counter, which caused my clinical depression.

        Reply
    2. LifelongLib

      Read the whole thing. The article is ultimately critical of social media, saying they have facilitated the rise of the alt-right and shifted attention away from building political institutions and policies that could actually implement progressive ideas.

      Reply
    3. Richard

      3 paragraphs in, and he was already to russia corrupting our election. I stopped there. You lost me when you started talking about witches, Jack.
      Harpers isn’t half the magazine it used to be, back when Lapham was calling the shots. But then again, even he succumbed to the russia narrative. Definitely career threatening (or at least career altering) not to do so.

      Reply
  18. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    Re-Handelsblatt. The EU establishment is I guess skimming the developing world to poach skilled technicians from countries that very badly need them. Who will rebuild Syria’s infrastructure and care for the wounded from a foreign inspired civil war?

    Reply
    1. Richard

      Thanks for the link; this was very good. I hadn’t heard about this tweet, and it sounds like the authors of it are already trying to scrub it from existence. I especially like: “Watching the propaganda arm of the US-centralized war machine is a lot like watching a manipulative sociopath learning how to function in normal society.”

      Reply
      1. Carey

        Trying to scrub it from existence *after making damn sure it gets out there*, from my POV.

        “What’s the frequency, Kenneth?”

        YMMV

        Reply
        1. Richard

          Carey, can you explain more about what you mean? And about how Johnstone’s take perhaps wasn’t cynical ehough?

          Reply
          1. Carey

            Richard, my take is that Johnstone took ‘STRATCOM’s explanation more-or-less at face value; that they misstepped and were apologetic,
            if only perfunctorily so.
            As I see it, they *knew* what kind of response they’d get to the (insane!)
            message they tweeted, and that response was another mission-accomplished moment in further normalizing the war-mongering
            that we all live under.

            One POV.

            Reply
  19. DJG

    Black Achilles. Oh, no, another article that is mainly about British preoccupation with the skin color of their inferiors. These attempts at racial classification of Mediterraneans are predictable, goofy, and self-referential. As someone of Mediterranean descent–Sicilian, which likely makes me of Greek and Phoenician descent–I get tired of earnest cultural appropriation. Listening to tiresome disquisitions from goyim on how to make pizza, for instance, loses its charm.

    Yes, colors referred to different ranges than they do now. The color blue was particularly unreliable–one color theorist whose work I read associates blue with the rise of Christianity. So the Greeks and the Romans would have described blue differently from the way we do. For that matter, the Latin word flavus, which could be used for hair color, doesn’t exactly corresponde to blond either. And Italian still plays with at least three words for blue: azzurro, blu, and turchino.

    Further, archeologists keep coming up with sites that show how Mediterraneans depicted themselves. The Etruscans were particularly adept at painting (and may have come from Asia Minor). Greek archeologists keep turning up finds. Southern Italy and Sicily are filled with sites.

    A couple of clues: Maybe Achilles was meant to look like the Riace bronzes. Maybe he would look like Yannis Varoufakis. Maybe Odysseus resembled like Constantine Cavafy. The English, in particular, have always been rather uncomfortable with how the Italians and modern Greeks turned out. Unfortunately, it takes only minimal study to see how enduring cultural continuity is in the Mediterrean.

    So we get another Anglo-American racial fantasy. And, no, Cleopatra wasn’t “black” in the U.S. sense, either.

    Reply
    1. Synoia

      One suspects that trade and conquest, carried by sea and by sailors and soldiers, did and excellent job of thoroughly stirring the gene pool around the Mediterranean.

      All one has to believe is that the sailors and soldiers were willing to share their genes, and some local women were willing to accept gene donations, many by marriage.

      All for a few thousands of years.

      Reply
    2. Synapsid

      DJG,

      Your first paragraph doesn’t relate to what the article is about. What is it about the article that you object to?

      Reply
      1. DJG

        Synapsid: It takes him much too long to get to this point:

        The upshot is that we can be pretty confident that Ancient Greeks were similar in genotype and phenotype to modern Greeks.

        He also masks the point that the use of color in the poetry of the Mediterreanean peoples is metaphoric. As if “the rosy-fingered dawn” is something we should take literally.

        So he spends way too much time for my taste wandering around in Anglo-American racial categories and tropes before, finally, saying: Oh, no, Mediterreaneans then look pretty much like the inhabitants now (Greeks, Sicilians, Arabs, Berbers, and so on…). And the Mediterraneans don’t conform to a U.S. racial category, either in how they saw themselves, if they even perceive(d) race, and how they talked about pigmentation.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Yeah, and nothing about the point that the ‘modern’ Greeks were immigrants from somewhere else around the time of the collapse of the Minoan culture, about 1100-1200 BC. The Dorian migration.
          The migrations and movements of the “races” are not cut and dried affairs. We are even now talking about admixtures of Neanderthals and Denisovians, first cousins of Homo Sap Sap, with “modern” humans. There are even hints at other ‘first cousin’ genotypes mixed in with ‘our’ DNA.
          So, really, it should go, “Oh no! They looked really different!”
          All this blather about “races” of man is imprecise. We’re really all a mix of various “breeds” of Human.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            More so than you think. I have just been watching an 11-minute YouTube video showing the borders and populations of each country in Europe, for every year since 400 BC. There are a lot of surprises in it but this time while I was watching it, I was thinking about the mixing of the genes that must have been taking place which makes nonsense of any ideas of any sort of purity. The video is at-

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UY9P0QSxlnI

            Reply
  20. Synoia

    A Holiday Mystery: Why Did John Roberts Intervene in the Mueller Probe?

    If it were China or Russia, it would be leaked.
    If it were the EU, it would be leaked.
    It’s not the UK. They are full of Brexit.

    Which country has such a special relationship with the US that it can cause upsets in the US corridors of power? One bordering the Mediterranean Sea?

    Reply
  21. Professional suicide will do

    NC may have struck gold or its radical opposite but something eternal among humans: corruption and incompetence.

    From the first batch of links it seems as if nothing, absolutely nothing, will change this year neither.

    Camus’ solution to the absurdity of the existence and its repetitive and vain essence was suicide but that is a bit radical for my taste. Better and just would be if the corrupt and incompetent committed professional suicide and then lived off the non-existent social welfare they have themselves inflicted on others.

    Reply
    1. Carey

      To your second sentence: I see it similarly. Nothing changes at all this year, until… splat, done.

      And after the fact: “Of course! we all knew that…”, as Schopenhauer et al predicted would be said.

      Reply
  22. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “What to expect in 2019: science in the new year” — There’s little to look forward to there. Several of the bullets caught my attention but one in particular: Climate tinkering: “Scientists behind the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx) hope to spray 100-gram plumes of chalk-like particles into the stratosphere to observe how they disperse. Such particles could eventually cool the planet by reflecting some of the Sun’s rays back into space. Geoengineering sceptics worry that the practice could have unintended consequences and distract from efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The US-led SCoPEx team is awaiting the go-ahead from an independent advisory committee.”

    This reminded me of Phillip Mirowski’s Lecture: “”Prof. Philip Mirowski keynote for ‘Life and Debt’ conference”. Around minute 49 of that lecture [available for viewing at youtube] a slide shows a pitch-slide for the SPICE Field Trial Concept. “SPICE (Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering) is an EPSRC, NERC and STFC co-funded 3½ year collaboration between the University of Bristol, the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford and the University of Edinburgh which began in October 2010.” [http://www.spice.ac.uk/]. The SPICE program ran into some difficulties [from June 18, 2012]: “Last month, the SPICE project announced the cancellation of a 1km balloon test; this test was discussed last October on The Conversation. The reasons for the cancellation are complex, and relate to intellectual property rights and governance initiatives.” [Geoengineering trial cancelled: more regulation needed https://theconversation.com/geoengineering-trial-cancelled-more-regulation-needed-7297%5D.

    Mirowski identified three stages in the Neoliberal exploitation of Climate Chaos. From his slides describing Stage 3: “Geoengineering by Private Firms to Further Alter Climate
    This version makes pact with NL[?] scientists to produce the venture cap entrepreneurial ‘solutions’ to previous market-induced environmental degradation” … “Includes: Earth albedo enhancement (reflective particles, space mirrors), CO2 sequestration (ocean seeding, fracking storage), direct weather modification (cloud seeding)”. He also notes in a slide around minute 50 the “SPICE program in UK — Further irony: political action couldn’t halt SPICE but internal dispute between scientists over IP could stop the project in its tracks: not about saving the world, but appropriating the atmosphere.”

    Reply
  23. Susan the Other

    The Week. On Mattis leaving and proposing his replacement to be Jim Webb. I like Jim Webb. He speaks without a twinge of confusion. And he does not like the ME quagmire. None of the military do – well maybe the political weasels like Petraeus and Clark, but not many combat-experienced military guys like to kill. And certainly do not like to destroy our country to fund never-ending bloody mayhem. Webb wants a fleeter navy fleet; more ships. He is a nationalist in many ways. Is pro Space and science; is pro veteran equity and other good things. Mattis, contrary to the popular propaganda, is not a looney neoliberal general – he is just as serious as Webb but here’s an explanation which is kept hidden, if it is true: Trump brought on Mattis because he knew all the details and therefore he knew how to wind down the Syrian conflict with dispatch and probably did so in a manner that protected the Kurds from Turkey. Just thinking – I really don’t buy all the conflict being reported between the military and the Trump Administration. It is irritating however, that the media manipulators think we must be incessantly hoodwinked. Can’t they just get real?

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      We have to make a distinction between the neo-con apparat and the military. They are generally at odds.
      I don’t trust Mattis. Webb has too long a track record with the MIC.
      As far as the ‘media manipulators’ go, just telling the truth would put two thirds or more of them out of work. Deceit and obfuscation are hard work. As Hillary Clinton once said, “It takes a Potemkin Village to raise an Illusion.”

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Depends too if he is allowed to do his job once in office. A few years ago Chuck Hagel had the job but I always had the impression that he was deliberately cramped in what he wanted to do. He seemed to have more realistic ideas which may have been because he got his start as a squad leader in Vietnam but in the end he got the boot and was replaced with Ash Carter who was a regular run of the mill neocon.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          I had no opinion on Hagel at first, but he soon seemed to be so obviously
          uncomfortable in the SecDef (acronyms, heh!) job that I started
          thinking he might be less horrible than the rest. Who knows.

          Reply
  24. Richard

    Does anyone know what happened to the editing feature, that allowed us 2 minutes or so to revise comments? Not that I’ve ever said anything I wished to take back; I’m asking for a friend of mine ;)

    Reply
  25. newcatty

    Jingle toots!
    Jingle toots!
    Jingle all the way
    right over the curb, onto the hillside
    Stopped by the stalwart pinon tree!

    A red vehicle, whose driver thought
    He would be like Nick
    Flew over the course
    And landed in our front yard.

    Our driver is fine
    Though his red sleigh’s front is not
    He missed Christmas Eve
    But made New Year’s last night.

    The tow company got the car Out of sight
    We only saw a blur of white
    Happy New Year to All
    And, we hope, a quiet good night.

    Reply
  26. Unna

    On the Bach article, https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2018/12/20/bach-master-recycler/ I’m absolutely no music expert at all, but I’ll venture this: The article discusses how Bach reused, recycled musical themes and ideas he had from his earlier works over and over throughout his absolutely vast music repertoire. This was in contrast with a composer like Beethoven who believed that each work should be as much as possible a unique musical creation.

    But this was a world where composers performed publicly over and over again with the pressure of performing resulting in lots of improvisation, which today we don’t associate with classical music but with forms like rock and jazz, at least as it has been explained to me, which may explain a lot about Bach’s recycling of music. The pressures of performance and innovation.

    Long ago and far away when, as an adult I took classical guitar lessons, I asked my teacher why Bach seemed so difficult to memorize, which is what most people do with classical guitar pieces. There were very few “repeats” even though the music, to listen to, sounded like it “repeated” quite often. But that’s only an illusion of the sound and of listening. If you play it, the music is constantly evolving, twisting, and morphing around a few “sound” ideas. No easy task to memorize. My teacher, a young guy in his 20’s said, oh, that’s because a lot of Back is “improv”, only written down. It sounds like it repeats, but it never does.

    Four minutes of 17th Century improv? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPfZVflJdp0

    From a Wikipedia article on musical improvisation:

    “Throughout the eras of the Western art music tradition, including the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods, improvisation was a valued skill. J.S. Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, and many other famous composers and musicians were known especially for their improvisational skills.”

    Wonder what other people think. Oh, and a Happy New Year!

    Reply
    1. Carey

      Unna, in my opinion the answer is well provided in your second paragraph.
      In my experience there’s *plenty of* repetition in JSB; much more than I want
      to hear, and more than I wish I had heard. This from someone who has an
      affinity for Baroque music, esp those who composed mainly for harpsichord,
      Froberger first on my list. Never mind his music, what an interesting being!

      If you do like JSB though, and don’t mind the harpsichord, have you heard
      John Gibbon’s ‘Bach Recital’, on Nonesuch from the late eighties? I tout it
      every chance I get… ;)

      Reply
      1. Unna

        Sometimes I like Bach and sometimes I find him a bit much. The Mass in B minor which I was listening to again because of the Links article is a bit much. But maybe the brightness of it played on modern instruments makes it that way for me. I like the Bach Lute music but I prefer it played on modern guitar, so no consistency with me. And any Bach played by G. Gould I like, and so on. No consistency of likes/dislikes.

        Froberger I’ve got playing now, something I just randomly grabbed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMscFZgXsq0

        This is clever strange music.

        Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      You must share some of the tastes in music that I have. I have a coupla John Williams CDs and am into the intricacies of Baroque music such as for example Vivaldi and his Four Seasons-

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRxofEmo3HA

      I notice in that YouTube link that it has been viewed some 190 million times so others must be of the same opinion. The demand for quality music was high and through their skill, these musicians met and even surpassed the challenge of what was wanted. Musicians like John Williams manage to capture with their music some of this essence.

      Reply
      1. Unna

        And I still can’t believe there are 190 million “views” of it on Youtube. Sure it’s a popular piece but that’s astonishing, at least to me.

        Reply
    3. Mark Alexander

      Thank you for that video. I’ve been listening to David Russell on classical guitar lately, and he’s pretty darned good, too.

      I like listening to Bach, but when I’m at the piano, I’m much more attuned to the Romantics and early 20th century French composers. Right now I’m in a desperate and possibly foolhardy attempt to learn this piece: Daniil Trifonov – Debussy “Reflets dans l’eau”. It occurred to me after a few months of working on this that a lot of it sounds like improvisation. I think that’s true for much of Debussy’s music, although his incredible craftsmanship tends to hide that aspect.

      Reply
  27. VietnamVet

    Corporate news had a report on Columbus IN, its former representative Mike Pence, and how Cummins which is located there is forced to spend hundreds of millions of dollars because of Donald Trump’s tariffs. It slipped out that their Diesel Cylinder Blocks can only be forged at their plant in China. All the workers do there is assemble the parts. That can be done anywhere. Financialization and free trade have hallowed out the USA and made mid-America a neo-colonial dependent like Malaysia or the Congo. Global oligarchs must get Donald Trump gone before he rips world trade apart by raising barriers and prices. The President is also pushing back against the forever wars which are an attempt to maintain one world one currency. It is impossible for the Establishment to shove things back into the tube like they were under Barrack Obama. Even Elizabeth Warren is saying that the wealthy are edging out the middle class. 2019 begins,

    Reply
  28. JBird4049

    Brexit Does Not Matter Simon Johnson, Project Syndicate.

    Huh?!?

    His stating that President Trump is the primary cause of world’s current economic wobbliness, dismissal of the economic impact of a Brexit crash outside of the UK, and saying that the economic problems of the EU really are only due to some bad banking, but otherwise not that bad is just a strange delusional economic fantasy. Maybe he’s trying for insightful, but he is not succeeding.

    Fifty years ago when Brettonwoods was still in force and the various countries not forced into a integrated and interdependent economy, maybe his article’s points could have been seen as reasonable; with the worldwide economy apparently ready for the Second Great Depression and the willful folly of our current elites’ decisions that of a kakistocracy, the UK suddenly being unable to import and import easily means an example economic dominos will happen.

    Reply
  29. Grant

    Regarding the link on Macron:

    “Looking defiant, Mr Macron rejected protesters’ demands for referendums on major policy decisions and for the possibility of ousting elected representatives, including the president himself. “The people is sovereign and it expresses itself at elections,” he said. “We are a state under the rule of law.”

    How would a referendum be in opposition to the rule of law? Seems that it would be very democratic, a way of peacefully handling a situation that might not otherwise resolve itself peacefully. The truth is that people like him have an ideological objection to democracy, and despise the idea of deepening democracy in any way. If democracy would cause him to go against his plans, then pejoratives like mob come out.

    Reply
  30. Dan

    “Can Silicon Valley Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Pentagon?” LOL. If anyone hasn’t read Yasha Levine’s terrific Surveillance Valley, you should – Silicon Valley has always loved the Pentagon, they just didn’t want to admit it because it would ruin their hippy/libertarian street cred

    Reply

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